Sunday, July 29, 2007


If I were to place a personal ad, here's what it might say:

MFT (mature female triathlete). Loves long swims in the lake, bike rides on flat to rolling country roads, running in the early morning hours, the thrill of the race. Looking for that PR (perfect race) to complete her goals for the year. Willing to travel.

So, after making the decision, somewhat reluctantly (and I still feel compelled to change my mind!) to NOT do the Steelhead race this weekend (I will attend to watch, Shelley; can't miss a chance to meet up!), I am now looking for a replacement race before the snow flies here. I can't get it out of my head that I won't be happy waiting much longer. I know I'm not the fastest legs out there, but I do think I can complete a half this year, even despite needing to heal a little longer.

I have looked at several raes now, in different locales, but have not made a final decision (as if I could decide that fast!). I have one particular one in mind, because it is in mid-September and a driveable distance away--and with no trail running. I need to have hard, smooth, flat concrete to not mess up the ankle further. I may be contacting YOU about what you know about a particular race.

Ankle update: I needed to get a medical release to roll over my entry in Steelhead, but decided to go for a consult anyway. I should have done this right in the beginning, of course. Something was bothering me about the ankle I couldn't explain. I was reminded of another past injury and how that felt. I had gone for one last long ride on Tuesday, and was really surprised when I found I had absolutely no power in the injured ankle. Or the opposite knee. So I was really struggling to get any speed. I thought at first it was from the ankle brace, and it may have been, but I was working harder than usual without any results. Without the new wheels, I doubt I could have averaged 10 mph. That night, the ankle went into a spasm every time I put any weight on it.

Initial examination by the doctor said it was a grade 2 sprain, which was good, meaning most likely no serious ligament damage or tears. This was based on the minor instability in the ankle rotation, etc. But, the pain over the bone (fibula?) was sharp enough upon compression that it about sent me off the table. His initial diagnosis was a stress fracture, but then he changed it to just a (small) chip after looking at the x-rays. (I knew I fell hard!)

Either way, he recommended another 3-4 weeks of no running, mainly no impact, to prevent a stress fracture. Since I was already 2 weeks into the process, healing was already taking place. My last injury that resembled some of these symptoms was when I hit my elbow on a ceramic towel rack. Similar symptoms: weakness, sharp pain over area, and limited movement. Same diagnosis: stress fracture or chip. That lasted a LONG time, and I don't want this dragging out. So I will be good for now.

In the meantime, looking for that race.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


It seems as if my whole triathlon season has been one of making decision after decision after decision--something I'm not good at doing quickly. What I think is a done deal, ends up being a dilemma. And this Steelhead thing is starting to get ugly too.

I am frustrated about this--I have spent my entire year working around this race, making sure I am ready, rebuilding my base in all three sports, dealing with all the difficulties, but still thinking the day would come and things would be wonderful. And it was, pretty much. I know I had my doubts a month or so ago, but then things started turning around. I got a renewed faith in myself and my abilities.

That was before the ankle thing. As much as I want to be tough, strong, and carefree about this thing, I have way too much experience dealing with ankle sprains and other injuries to be naive enough to think it will go away just because I want it to. Or because I have a race I want to do. Or thinking my training will get me by.

Aargh! Last week, in the heat of the moment, I'm sure, I e-mailed the race director for Steelhead and asked about a deferral. Today, I got a positive response. And now I am torn again as to what to do.

Do I think I can run 13.1 miles with an ankle that still has an ankle bone twice the size as the other one? Doubtful. Do I think I can run through the sand and uneven ground for transitions, etc.? I don't see how. And yet I still have hope I can pull this off. I want to! I have been waiting for this for so long. (Trying not to get sappy and teary eyed here) All I can do is sigh. I don't understnd. I don't see why it always seems to happen to me.

I am trying not to rationalize this too much--if I do the race, will I ruin the rest of my year (I do have a few more tris and a half marathon I want to do or am already signed up for)? If I don't do the race, will I regret it? Should I just do the swim and bike? My swim is good, my bike is okay, but I have lost 3 weeks of my running base, at a time when I should have been building to my peak before the race, so that is lost right now. While I have done a few 20 min. runs with the ankle support, it is really my knee that concerns me more. The ellipitical has worked okay for 30 min. workouts, but my feet go numb any longer, so I hesitate to try to build on my run base using that as an alternative for longer time.

My gut feeling is to not do this, but is that being too wimpy? If I do the race, and I get two miles from the finish and reach the cutoff, then what? I'd be pushing the cutoff at my best, so what chance is there I can still pull this off? And if I work my butt off on the bike, will I still have enough in me to walk most of the run? And walking isn't much different than running--its still time on the feet, just longer if I walk.

I could go on, but you see what my dilemma is.


Sunday, July 22, 2007


When I first started in the triathlon world, the indoor sort, back when I could still run 7 min. miles and was competitive in my age group in running, the question was asked why I didn't do outdoor tris? Why? The main reason back then was no open water swimming experience and the second, but most important reason, was I had no decent bike and no funds to buy anything. I was convinced then, as I am still, that equipment made the difference in your competitiveness, regardless of how good you were otherwise. And I figured there was no way I would be able to be competitive against athletes who had the sleek, expensive bikes with my rusting 3 speed Schwinn with a baby seat. Back then, it was all about being competitive--against others. That's all that mattered. It was my identity.

When I did my first outdoor tri, I used a borrowed bike, and even though my running was still in the top of the age group category of competitiveness, I placed second to last in my age group in this tri. Rude awakening! But I had fun and was hooked.

Fast forward to 2 years later when I got my own first bike. By then, a number of injuries had set back my running to almost nil, so biking was my main alternative. I worked hard, doing time trials, racing almost every weekend, and training during the week as well, but still, I rarely placed higher than 3rd to last in my age group. Yet, it never bothered me. I figured I was a newbie and still had a lot to learn and a lot of cathing up to do.
One thing Don was always telling me was, its not the bike, its the engine that makes you a good biker. So I worked harder. (Did I mention he has changed his tune about this now that he has his new Cervelo P3? Talk about buying speed!)

Little did I know the turn of events over the next 5 years, with both running setbacks and family difficulties, that would almost do me in, up to and including last year's bike accident.

This season, starting out with a new bike and a fresh determination to get back into this sport and maybe, maybe actually be competitive with others again, I was again hit with the reality of my abilities, or lack thereof. But I figured what I lacked in ability and natural talent, I more than made up for in desire and determination. Yet, even while I worked harder and harder, I didn't feel I was seeing any gains for my efforts.

Week after week, I've been struggling with this biking thing, trying to get back to a fitness level I was at last year and beyond, struggling to keep up with other people with no triathlon experience and trying not to get discouraged. And I struggled in my races not to be last. I felt that while I was putting 110% into my training, I was only seeing a 75% return for my effort. How could it be that I could ride on a smooth, flat road and still only average 13.5 mph? Or on a hard, hilly course and still only average 14 mph? It was puzzling as well as frustrating, disheartening, and embarrasing. Everyone must think I'm a total slacker, never being able to keep up, always having to wait for me. And being last in every tri. What was I lacking? What was missing?

Last week, on a random trip to a new bike shop with Don so he could buy his $130 new water bottle cages, as I admired the bikes they carried, I noticed something in common with each bike I observed. They all had skinny tires, skinnier than mine!
A lightbulb went off then, and in my muddle of confusion I call my brain, I remembered back to when I first got my bike and I mentioned the difficulty I was having getting my front wheel on and off for transporting and riding. Don mentioned then that I needed to get smaller tires. On a trip to the bike shop shortly afterward, I mentioned this to the guy there. Oh, you don't need to replace these. This is a touring bike, so that's why it has bigger tires. (Not fat tires, just not as skinny.) Okay, whatever, I thought. He must know.

So as I'm standing there thinking of all this, I say to Don: Didn't you say I needed to get new tires for my bike? Yes. In my muddle of confusion and ignorance of everything bike, I asked: What size? 750s? No, 700 23s. And what do I have now? 700 25s. Will that help me go faster? In unison, the bike shop guy and Don both said: Yes, most definitely!

That was that, as far as I was concerned. I would do it! So yesterday, I brought my bike back to the shop, and for a mere $70 I bought me a little bit of speed.

Without going into too much detail until after I try them on a longer ride, let's just say I was seeing mph numbers in the 15-17 mph range on an easy ride with little effort.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I made the final decision--no race Saturday. I e-mailed the race director and he said he would transfer me to next year. Now, hopefully...

Bunnygirl had the good idea to wrap the ankle to stabilize it, and sent me a website showing me how to do this. I have had this done for me before, and quite honestly, I am no good at doing it myself. But doing some further research gave me the idea of an ankle brace, and, after looking at information online, I came to the conclusion that an ankle brace, or stabilization, would be crucial to a quicker recovery. The main good thing about all the info I found was that there was no warning to not run or perform the sport of choice as tolerated so long as you stabilize the ankle.

Much as I liked reading that, I decided to not work it up into thinking it was okay to do the race this soon into the recovery process. Thinking of all the logistics involved with a triathlon and how my ankle would fare, I felt it was best to defer from this race, much as I am disappointed in missing it. Knowing what to expect, I would be required to first walk 10-15 minutes from the parking area to transition, on sand, carrying all my stuff, and pushing my bike. Next, when it was time for the swim, I would have to struggle to get the wetsuit on over the ankle without traumatizing it, would be expected to walk barefoot probably 1000 yards or more just to the swim, stand around on sand or uneven ground for another 10-15 minutes, risk getting my feet stepped on, swim, repeat the barefoot transition, and then try to get the wetsuit off. Knowing how many times I get hung up with the wetsuit on my feet, I can only imagine the jerking around that would cause. Even the most careful wetsuit removal causes me some ankle yanking. Then with the bike, running through transition with bike shoes, again unstable, and repeat afterward, then try to get the ankle brace on (or maybe before the bike) and cram my shoes on over that. If I wasn't already the slowest in transition and in the race before, I certainly could guarantee my last place slot with all this extra hassle! (Last year I was NOT last by a good many 20 people behind me, but I would guess that would change this year too!)

But because there was no warning about NOT running, I did decide to do 20 minutes this morning--with the ankle brace--to see how things felt. I had followed the advice of icing, elevating, resting, etc. for the first 72 hours, with repeated icing, anti-inflammatories, elevating, etc. every day since last week, so the only way I could see just what and where things might still hurt was to test things out.

I would say 20 minutes was sufficient. I always figured 15 or 20 minutes never messed things up (as long as you didn't have a broken bone maybe), so I wasn't going to worry about any discomfort for that little bit of time, and would absolutely stop if necessary. The run itself felt so good, it felt so right! I was glad to be moving again, although slightly slower yet, if that was at all possible. I really had no ankle or foot discomfort except from the brace, since it seemed to be cutting into the bottom of my foot, and was just enough added thickness so my shoe felt tight. What I was surprised to find out was how sore my right knee was, particularly going down hill, the slight downgrades I did have to travel. I actually had to walk on those. So something is going on there, and I'm glad to know that now too, particularly since the run in the race is rolling to hilly, and I would find myself walking all the downs. Both knees are bruised from falling hard on them, but the right knee seems to be more bruised and thus more sore. Not when I walk, just on downhills when running. And from spinning the other day. I will give that only a little more time and will have it checked out if it doesn't clear up. I have not had knee problems anytime in the past and don't want to start with that next!

On an interesting note, here is an excerpt from an e-mail from the race director about a new procedure they are doing for this race: NEW FOR 2007: We are going to be numbering bike racks that will correspond to your bib number. Also, as an added convenience, you have the option of going directly to transition area where a volunteer will give you your race number. This will allow you to put your bike and race equipment in position prior to getting your race packet.

How great is that? Just not having to stand in line--and at this race it can be up to 1/2 hour or more!--to get your packet is a nice touch. Having numbered bike racks, hopefully, will also eliminate the hassles we had last year, where even though I got to the race site more than an hour before the race, by the time I got parked and to transition, there were pretty much no rack slots left. That and the fact that people hog space, like taking 2 or 3 spots and spreading out all of their stuff. (Last year I actually got into it with a guy who parked his stuff against the transition fence directly in front of my spot, leaving me no place to get at my bike or my transition stuff. When I asked [told] him to move, he swore at me, called me names, and just about pushed me out of his way! I did report that, and maybe that helped with the new policy.)

So I will be doing alternate stuff tomorrow and Sunday now, most likely more biking, which I am also behind on (because now I am paranoid of getting on my bike again), and catching up on my swimming. Hopefully everyone has good a training or racing weekend. I know LP is this weekend, so I'm sure a lot of us will be wathing that. Have fun! Be safe!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PT ADVICE--Not Very Encouraging.

I remembered that Melissa, from the IM Geek Squad, was a physical therapist so contacted her yesterday to ask her recommendation about my ankle. Here is her response:

Here's my advice/story. I sprained my ankle 2 summers ago and then did Johan's 2 weeks after I sprained my ankle. I could run on it and it felt pretty good. However, about 4 months later I started having problems with it...pain, stiffness, and the swelling never went away, etc. To make a long story short I ended up getting an MRI and was too close to ankle surgery and thought I wouldn't be able to do the Cour d'Alene Ironman. But it worked itself out (after x2 orthopedic surgeon consults) eventually. To make a long story short...let it heal...there will be other triathlons. I'd rather see you with a fully healed ankle, and be able to compete on it properly when it heals. And if it's still swollen, your just pushing your luck, weakening the ligaments even more...the ligaments are what need time to heal. The outside of the ankle by the heel are the ligaments and some tendons that you strained and tore. If you keep pushing your ankle the ligaments will tear even more and can even completely tear. Then you end up with a very unstable ankle. Johan's was always an important race for me and one of my favorites. And even though my ankle is doing well today...I still wished that I wouldn't have done the race (even if it meant "loosing" $50-$60)That's my advice. Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with. I'd be happy to do so. I'm a repetitive ankle sprainer since I've been young. But as you get older, it takes a lot longer to heal. Melissa!

So for now, it looks like the best course of action will be to wait a little longer. I didn't run today because of her response, and even when I put my shoes on to just go to the gym, I could really feel the ankle then. Up until now, I've been wearing some fairly casual sandals, even to work, that put no pressure on the ankle or restrict it in any way. I really think wearing running shoes would definitely traumatize it, and at this point I would rather deal with a couple of weeks off than drag this out for years like last time.

I did do a spinning class yesterday, one full hour, since rain was threatening all day (of course it never did!). My knees REALLY hurt last night, and looking at them you can now see the bruising that was just swelling before, so I suspect that fast spinning aggravated my poor injured knees too! My legs are a mess! Bruised foot and ankle on one foot, bruised knees, big scabs on both knees, and to top it off, a big burn across my leg from dropping my curling iron onto my leg. Definitely not beauty queen legs right now! And to make matters worse? Wearing those open-toed, casual sandals set me up for someone to open a door over my other foot, tearing my big toenail nearly off, so I've had that bloody mess to deal with all day too! Right now, that's too numb to feel much pain, and I'm trying to block that out as much as possible because I'm too busy to deal with it.

And on an opportune note, the pool is finally open, so one mile swim today. I wanted to pool run (not really) but none of the equipment (belts) was put back in place and do you think you could find anyone who worked there when you need them? No, that would only be when you are in the shower and they decide to come in and collect towels or vacuum. So no pool running. I'm almost thinking my ankle might be a little too sore for that yet anyway.

I'm disappointed with not doing the race Saturday because I really wanted to do the race and because you got a jersey with it! I do have an e-mail into the race director requesting my entry be transferred to another race, so hopefully he'll do that. I know he's done it before for others.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


You may recall on my vacation last week while running, I turned my ankle and had a fall. Initially, I thought the ankle was broken, but fortunately that wasn't the case. At first, my ankle was severely swollen, but not so bad I couldn't put weight on it or walk, so that too was a relief. And I didn't think there was any bruising, but by Saturday it was evident: bruising on the outside of the foot from my toes to my heel, wrapping around the heel to the inside of the foot, and more bruising around the ankle. Ugly purple, blue, and black. And still some swelling, with most of the pain in an area under the ankle bone and nearer the outside of the heel, in a ligament area. I have been icing, resting, and taking anti-inflammatories, and it isn't horrible, but I'm not sure how far to take this.

I have a triathlon Saturday: 1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 4.8 mile run. Nothing I can't do--normally. But I am concerned about messing up this foot/ankle for Steelhead, and naturally am taking some unplanned R&R to avoid future problems. But I can't sit around for the next 3 weeks and not know what is going to happen if I run on it anyway. I know when I sprained my ankle and pulled ligaments in the past that it took 3 YEARS to get rid of that problem. I don't want to go there again. On the other hand, I am so used to having some pain or problem with running these past 5 years that I almost don't know what to do when things are normal, as they have been for about 2 months now.

Any advice on whether I should at least test the reaction with a short run tomorrow? It will be 6 days by then and 3 days before the race, in the event I either mess it up or need to cancel out.

It is very frustrating to be dealing with this unexpected event, but shouldn't be a total surprise when I do what we do, knowing--but not expecting--that inevitably there will be some injury to deal with along the way. But still...It seems the rug is always being pulled out from under me!

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'VE BEEN NOMINATED! Believe me, I do not feel worthy! But I will pass on the good nomination to: Fe-Lady , Waddling
Shelley, Lisa, and Debi. There are more, but there's a special bond with these ladies (other than Phoenix who nominated me!).
Enjoy your award!


A trip to the LBS left me drooling over the bikes they carry. First, they carry Orbea, which is something I really wanted back when I was looking for bikes. The problem was, the closest place they had anything in stock was in Florida, so not practical. And yet, a new bike shop opens this spring and what is their main line? Orbea.
Another new find was the Jamis line, shown here. After talking with the bike shop guy and reading and watching video reviews, I was very impressed with their bikes--and I know less than nothing about bikes. And they are MUCH more affordable than anything else out there right now. Carbon fiber and compact crank for less than $2500? Probably not happening anywhere else. Take a look if you are in the bike market right now. I personally feel that you don't have to always buy the most expensive or the most popular of anything, so this might be a good alternative if your dollars are tight (like mine!). I just might look into upgrading again next year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Which is why today I traveled to this race and had the pleasure of meeting up with Waddling at the Waterloo Tri/Du. Unfortunately, I was unable to do this race, my favorite from my first year of doing tris, because of my foot, but I want to take the time to help support my running, tri, and blogger friends whenever I am able to do so. Since it was only a little over an hour drive, and I wasn't able to do the workouts I had planned, I decided the next best thing would be to go watch a tri/du.

In addition to Karen (Waddling), three other friends from GR were there. This is a sprint race: 1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 5 mile run. The du was 2 mile run, 16 bike, 5 run. To me, a du is MUCH harder, because I know I can swim a half mile faster than I can run 2 miles. Plus, I love the swim.

Karen came in second in AG, but alas! they ran out of trophies. What a bummer! I got to see her new bike too, the blue Trek with matching helmet. Its a tri bike, and she said it was a lot easier going from the bike to the run with the new bike. I think she did great: I think she flew on that bike! After, I did a short bike ride and headed home. All in a day's fun.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'M BACK! How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

First, poor internet connection all week prevented me from updating my blog. While my daughter has wireless connection, every time I got a connection and tried to do ANYTHING on my blog, I got booted off. Or if I tried to respond to anyone else's for that matter. She, however, had continual coverage, but I didn't want to get on her system, since I had pictures on my laptop, etc. So sorry about any delay in living vicariously through me this week.

July 5: TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME! Tigers v. Indians. Tigers won 12-3 against Cleveland. Comerica Park is a very nice venue for a ballgame, right in the heart of downtown Detroit, no less! Not sure if I would feel safe at night though. We had great seats, and from what I could tell, there isn't a bad seat in the house. The day was HOT and sunny, but it started to rain toward the end of the game, just a few dark clouds, a few blowing drops, and it was over by the time we got out of the park. The traffic, however, left much to be desired, as it took us 1 hour to go 3 miles on the highway to the park exit off the highway. Unbelievable. We left at 9 am for a 1 pm game and got into our seats at 1:15. It takes less than 2.25 hours to get to the stadium, yet...

July 6: My last swim/bike day before the vacation turned out to be a bike only. It was extremely hot, I was tired from the day before AND the 4th of July 4ide, and my legs were DEAD! I rode 20 miles and called it good. I still had shopping and packing to do too.

July 7: Left for PA at 7:45 am. Arrived at 5:30 pm. The drive wasn't the best. Michigan and Ohio were okay, but PA SUCKED! It was the holiday weekend, so no construction to speak of, but they had construction signs about every 2 miles dropping the speed limit to 50 or lower because of construction projects, and even without the construction, you didn't know what speed to maintain. I'm pretty much a lead foot when it comes to trips--get in the left lane and stay there until you arrive! This time, however, I was content to cruise at the speed limit, which pretty much left us alone on the road. It is just such a LONG drive through PA, and the up and down of the speed limit made it frustrating. The kids were pretty good, and we had a great hotel, probably the best mid-priced hotel I've ever stayed in. I met up with my friend, and we had a few drinks before I headed back to the hotel to zonk out for the night. I wanted to get up and run before we left in the morning for NJ.

July 8: Ran 35 minutes in Mechanicsburg, PA. It is HILLY here. There was a great place to run outside the hotel, with the hotel situated off the main drag in Mechanicsburg, with a service road leading to businesses, condos, and apartment communities. When I first started out, my legs felt heavy, and the air was so humid it was hard to breathe, but I kept on and managed to run 35 minutes nonstop, half of it uphill, and I had no problems. I was starting to finally feel my strength from recent training.

We hit the road for NJ around 10 am, figuring on a 3-4 hour trip from there. Again, not much traffic, and once we crossed the Delaware River and got into NJ, things looked somewhat familiar again. We got to Renee's place about 2 pm, a condo unit right on the bay.

Looking out their kitchen sliders, you saw water, water, water. I loved it! It was amazing the huge expanse of water, and this was just a cove on the bay going into the Atlantic.

And if I thought it was hot the day before? This had it beat. By the time we got there, the temps had reached 95 and we found out their air conditioning wasn't working! It wasn't too bad inside though because of the breeze coming in off the water, but with 4 extra people in a small area, it wasn't long before it started getting uncomfortable. Because it was late in the day, they didn't want to hit the beach, but we did finally go to a park on the bay to get in a swim. I thought it would be perfect for me to get some open water swimming in because the water was warmer and more calm than the ocean. There was an area sectioned off by buoys that seemed perfect to swim between as laps. I started out and it felt great. The salt water doesn't bother me at all, but I couldn't help but notice almost as soon as I started swimming that my legs felt like there was razor burn on them, a stinging sensation. I figured it was the salt. Then I started feelilng stinging on my arm, my back, my chest, my face, my legs, and on and on. It never occurred to me there would be JELLYFISH in the water, but apparently it was that or sea grass, we didn't know which. Ed said it was too cold and early in the season for jellyfish, but the evidence was there--raised welts on my skin that itched and stung at the same time. After about 10 minutes of this, I'd had enough!

I know what the remedy is for jellyfish stings, but using an anti-itch spray worked just as well. After a shower and an overall spray, I felt better.

We went to dinner that night for Ed's birthday. His birthday had actually been the day before. He was born on 7-7-77. After dinner, my second "injury" of the day occurred--I got my finger shut in the car door! Fortunately, cars now days have lots of molding to prevent getting a finger cut off, because it caught me right on the knuckle of one finger, and at first I thought it was broken, but fortunately it was just badly cut and bruised.

ON THE BOARDWALK: After dinner, we went to the boardwalk for some fun with the kids. Its like a huge carnival. It gets dark out earlier than at home, so by the time we arrived, it was already approaching nightfall. (one pic with flash, one without, so you see the contrast,)

July 9: A day at the beach. Monday's weather promised to be hotter yet, so we planned to leave early for the beach. I managed to get in a run first, and it was probably one of the hottest times I have run in years. By the time I got back, after 31 minutes, which is all I could stand, I was soaked through with sweat, and without the air working yet, I couldn't stop sweating. In fact, I never really stopped sweating until we were sitting on the beach for a while and was cooled by the ocean breeze. Renee lives fairly close to the Jersey Shore, and this is Island Beach State Park. The water was cold, however, only 61 degrees, and with the current, cold water, and waves, and my fear of jellyfish again, I decided against trying to swim and instead lounged and enjoyed the scenery and the day. The kids kept busy either playing in the waves or digging for sand crabs.

July 10: Hot, hot, and hotter yet! This morning's run was by far the most humid I have ever done, other than one other time. It was all I could do to control my breathing. Living by the water has its advantages, but of course the disadvantage is the high humidity, especially in the early morning. We were planning on heading to New York City to tour the Museum of American History. By the time we got on the road at 9 am, it was already in the upper 80s.

Night (Day) at the Museum. This is the museum the movie was made from. We spent several hours there, until closing, and then headed to Times Square.

A little geography for you if you haven't been to NYC before: The Museum is on the upper East Side. The Upper East and West Sides are where Central Park is, many of the big hotels, and apartments of the rich and famous. Midtown is where Broadway and Times Square are, and Lower Manhattan is the Financial District, among others, Wall Street, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty ferries, and Ground Zero. Having Ed, a native Jersey boy, as a guide was wonderful, not only in terms of getting a guided tour wherever we were, but also having him do the driving! And if you think cab drivers are wild, it seems to be typical for anyone else living there. I went through several scary moments riding in and around Manhattan. It was basically "hold on to your seats!"

It was a hot evening, but you could almost feel a change in the air, knowing a storm might be brewing.

Its true what they say, about the City that never sleeps. And there are people everywhere, 24/7. The only time I have seen Times Square nearly deserted was after a blizzard two years ago; otherwise, wall to wall people all the time. We found a new store, M & M World, and spent time and money there! Mmm! Its right across from the Hershey Store, so it was nice to find something new to do.

We also decided to eat while there and went to Bubba Gumps. The waiters ask the customers trivia questions about the movie, which is one of my favorites, so they had a hard time stumping us!

After dinner, we walked around, souvenier shopping--as if I don't already have enough of everything they sell at those junk shops! After walking around until dark, we headed back to their home.

July 11: Atlantic City, The Tropicana Hotel, and Harry Potter! Wednesday was another ugly humidity day. I went for a short run, and came back once again dripping with sweat, after just 25 minutes. But it was overcast and felt a little cooler. Arriving in Atlantic City, you can see the fog had rolled in, practically obliterating everything, including the beach. You couldn't see past the first wave break!

We were there to see the newest Harry Potter movie, Order of the Phoenix, and we were looking forward to it. It was at the Imax in the Tropicana Hotel, which is also a casino. Its like a hotel, mall, movie theater, and casino and shops all rolled into one. We had a lot of fun strolling in and around the hotel until the movie started, since it was so sticky and hot outside you could hardly stand it. The movie had one part in 3D, so we got the funky glasses to wear. A fun experience! Then we headed back to the boardwalk for more souvenier shopping--again. There's always something to buy! The weather had cleared somewhat for a while, but then the fog started rolling back in and we decided it was time to leave.

It did rain that night, cooling things off immensely. We were leaving late morning on Thursday, so it was nice to be able to pack without sweat blinding your eyes!

I decided I had time for one last run before we left, and wanted to enjoy the cool morning, so finally headed out. I got a mile into the run when BAM! Down I went. Injury #3 for the trip: I stepped into a hole and twisted my ankle, enough so I wasn't sure if it was broken at first. I went down hard on both knees and also skidded with my hand, cutting that as well. When I finally was able to stand, I figured I hadn't broken anything, but it hurt like crazy and I still had to limp back. I could put weight on my foot, so that was a good sign, but by the time I got back to the condo, my left ankle looked like it had a baseball attached at the ankle bone! Both knees were bruised and bleeding as well. Just what I didn't need!

So right now, not sure how long this thing will take to heal. Its still swollen and sore, but no bruising. I had planned to run my last long run today, but that's not happening, and its raining hard enough I don't want to go out on my bike, so it remains to be seen how the rest of my training goes over the next couple of weeks. I have a sprint tri next week, so was planning on an easy week after a hard weekend. Now? Not so sure what to do.

The ride home was another nightmare in PA. We decided to not take the turnpike because of construction, and instead took I-80, something I won't do again! We had detours off into the Poconos, through valleys, down dirt roads, behind old men driving 35 in a 55 zone, etc. and had 3 construction projects to get through that set us back more than 2 hours of drive time. And if that wasn't enough, the trucks were a force to be dealt with. I actually got boxed in on a merge lane and ended up hitting two barrels before some ass truck driver would let me get over. It was partly my fault, because I was trying to get ahead of him, but he didn't have to force me into the barrels! I still shudder at that experience and my stupidity.

All in all, we had a great time! I would like to go out there again in the fall for a triathlon, but that drive just turns me off! I'm thinking I can only handle that once in a year!

Friday, July 06, 2007

My vacation started yesterday, July 5 and goes through Friday, July 13.
My itinerary is as follows:
July 5: Tigers Baseball game in Detroit (pics and post later).
July 6: Last bike/swim before going no bike/swim for the next week. Packing to leave Sat. morning.
July 7: Leave for Pennsylvania to visit a friend.
July 8: Leave for New Jersey to visit daughter.
July 9/10: One of those days we will be going to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Probably see some sights in the City as well. I've been there enough times there isn't much new to see, but it is always exciting.
July 11: Atlantic City. Will see new Harry Potter movie at the Imax at Tropicana Casino.
July 12: Bronx Zoo or a wildlife safari they have in New Jersey. We've been there before, and I'm opting for a sit down tour.
July 13: Leave for home.
I have a new laptop so am hoping to get that operational during my "leisure" time this week and can post pics, etc.
I'll also be checking blogs as I can and updating as I can.
Have fun this week! Train hard!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Those are the questions I ask myself every time I ride with the biking group. Time and again, I get my a@##ss handed back to me as I struggle to bring up the rear on our rides. And you'd better believe I am cranking as hard as my legs and heart will allow me to work! I can't help wonder if I'm doing something wrong, if something's wrong with my bike, or just what I can do to keep up with them. I just don't get it!

And such a motley crew we are too! Today's group ride consisted of mainly the regulars and a couple of new people. I know I've described some of these people before, but a better description is warranted here for clarification and understanding of what an unusual group this is.

First, there's Ron and Sue, the unofficial group ride organizers. Ron is a retired firefighter and longtime experienced runner. He Sue is nearing 60, and as she describes herself, is a big boned Dutch woman. While she started running a few years ago, she still favors the back of the pack, but put her on a bike and she can put the hammer down. She earned my respect the first time I biked with her 3 years ago. Then there's Ultra Sue, or Energizer Bunny Sue, who keeps going and going and going. Looking at Sue, you would never know she was strong as a horse on the bike, doing the ride across Iowa each year for the last 15 years, and either wins outright or is an age group winner at many of the ultras she runs each year, with Texas Trails, Huff, JFK 50, and Ice Age among a few. Then there's Ken, a wiry, 120 pound "weakling," with legs so skinny they aren't any bigger around than my upper arm/bicep area! He wears a big billowing t-shirt and shorts and has a bucket of a helmet and no toe clips, yet this guy is so strong and fast, I can hardly believe it. The same with Steve, with his $10 garage sale Trek bike. These two guys usually end up battling it out together on the return ride every time. Once they start, you don't see them again until the end they are so far ahead.

Today we had a couple of extras join in, Todd, also a runner, wearing the baggy shorts and tennis shoes (not running shoes) of all things! He could motor along like anybody's business too. Hardly ever rides he said. Had me fooled. And Russ, who probably rides once or twice a year at most, wearing an old, taped up helmet, docker shorts and shoes-- looking more like he was going to a picnic than a bike ride--riding a 25 year old, steel-framed Schwinn LaTour.

And then there's me, the triathlete wannabe, the poser, sucking wind behind all of them. Its laughable, really. If any of them had any doubts about their abilities to do a tri, or even a du, I could easily put their fears to rest.

Since I was still tired from the race on Sunday, riding 40 miles of hills seemed a good alternative to running. Without detailing every agonizing mile of the ride, believe me when I say it was hard. While rain had been a threat, that had passed and left the day cool, overcast, and horribly humid. We rode to a small farming town 20 miles away, with a McDonalds along the interstate for breakfast, since there was nothing else open in the rural area we were in. It was so humid that we were all soaked by the time we got there, looking as if it had rained. The hills were constant and unrelenting. I fell back almost immediately, and never was able to keep up the whole way. The group does stop and wait for everyone (mainly me) to catch up from time to time. I remain grateful they continue to invite me on these rides, but I'm sure they are happy with all the rest I provide them with too! I, however, do not get a rest. Once I catch up, we take off again.

And what is so amazing to me is that while I know I have improved somewhat steadily, since they also improve right along with me, I never catch up to their ability.

So I had the choice today to ride or I could have stayed home. What? And miss out on all that fun?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

At least in the age group! Block 58 triathlon, swim 1600 meters, bike 36:80, run 7.1. Finish time: 4:35. Place in age group: first (and only).
I think I've mentioned before that eventually the numbers will favor you: if you show up at enough events, eventually you will win something. I was going to say show up often enough and you will be rewarded for your efforts and hard work, but that happens every time, regardless of the outcome.
Summary, the swim was long, the bike was long, and the run seemed shorter in my mind.
The day started at 4:45 am to leave by 5:45 am. The house was filled with skunk smell, since we seem to have a huge population around my neighborhood. They seem to be getting agitated more often though, judging from the nearly every morning wakeup smell. I'm getting sick of it really.
I left before it was fully light yet, something I don't like doing, mainly because of all the night critters heading back to their dens, nests, or whatever they live after a night of foraging. Two baby racoons darted across the road in front of me, on my street, in the city. Last week it was a deer. Go figure. As I entered the highway, I was also thinking I was glad they hadn't passed the law yet to let bars stay open and serve until 4:30 am because that would mean those idiots would be out and about now too.
There were very few cars on the road, but about this time I could see in my rearview mirror a car speeding toward me and another car in the lane to the right and ahead of me. This part of the road is called the "S curve" because it is an S shaped road they built to avoid knocking down "historical" buildings back when they started the highway in the 60s. Its really a pain in the neck part of a daily commute, due to the fact that it is slippery in the bad weather, and while the speed limit drops here, no one ever slows down. At a normal speed, your car will get pulled through the curves by momentum I guess, something scientific I'm not up on. This car, however, because it was speeding--probably 75 mph in a 45 zone--started losing control as it entered the first curve. I had seen it coming and let my foot off the gas, slowing me down and back from what I figured might be an accident waiting to happen. Just then, he loses it, hits the wall, bounces off the wall, hits the other car ahead of me in his lane, pushes that car across the road in front of me, that car hits the opposite wall, and the other car then crashes into her. OMG, was about all I could say or think. Unlike others, car wrecks do not cause me to gawk. I just want to get away as soon as possible. I quickly got out my cell phone and called 911 and reported the accident. I had been able to slide by and finally stop, but I was unable to back up and do anything. I could see that the people were moving, but I was sure they were badly hurt. I waited until some other cars came on the scene before I left, shaking. I have no training to help with medical situations, but luckily they were less than a mile from the hospital. And the police were already arriving as I was leaving.
That unnerved me enough that I missed my exit to head to the race and had to backtrack a few miles because of construction. Once I got back on track, I realized I had already lost about 15 min. because of this, and at that point a lot of emotional stuff started surfacing, leaving me a wreck as I drove to the race. I couldn't help but think about my dad whom I recently lost, and my own accident, so a lot of stuff that had been buried now welled up in me.
I continued on to the race, but really didn't know how things would go. I was sick to my stomach from seeing the accident. Not only did I feel very badly for those people, but I was angry with the speeding driver who not only injured that other poor, unsuspecting woman, but caused me to have a reaction to the whole thing too. I couldn't help but relate to her situation in my own accident, being totally blindsided by someone being irresponsible, wreckless, and careless. I hope she is okay.
By the time I got to the race, they had already closed the parking lot off (no reason to do this though) and made people park about a mile away. I was still so weak from the whole experience, I couldn't pump up my tires, but another nice person did it for me. I hadn't been able to eat anything though, and felt weak from that too.
I set up my bike and stuff in transition, and suddenly realized it was freezing out. Our hot, humid weather broke over the last few days, and while the day promised to be perfect, it was cold right now with a north wind blowing off the lake. The water temp was 67 degrees (wetsuits optional--very funny), but it actually felt like bath water compared to the cold ground and air.
At 7:30, they were supposed to have a mandatory pre-race meeting, but it was after 7:45 before that even happened. Standing around chatting and trying to stay warm, I met a woman, Margie, from Boulder, CO, here for a wedding, and Judy, a woman from my area, who had won her age group in the half IM at the last tri I was at. Both finished well ahead of me and won their age groups today too.
I also met up with Tom my spin instructor, who is this fantasticly fast triathlete. I warned him jokingly (and seriously) that he would win the race (he did), but I would be the last finisher (I was).
SWIM: The swim was supposed to be 1500 meters, in Muskegon Lake. The lake is right in the middle of the Muskegon River on one side and Lake Michigan on the other. The area we had to enter the water was a boat launch, so there was probably 100 feet of that big chunky-type gravel to walk on, and when you entered the water it was the same thing. I could barely walk on the stuff and stumbled and fell to my knees so just stayed down. Because of the river current, that meant we were going to have to swim against it on the first 2/3 of the swim. It was also VERY difficult trying to see the buoys way across the lake. They used the small ones, so they were barely visible with the wave chop. I thought I had found a landmark across the lake to sight towards, which appeared to be behind the first buoy. Boy, was I wrong! We finally started the swim, 30 minutes late, and heading out at first it seemed fun. You could feel the current, and it seemed effortless to swim. After a while, though, I started realizing no one was around me, and the gravel pile across the lake was way to the left. Not only that, the buoy was left of that! So I was about 100 yards off the mark right there. There were about 5 others in the same mess. Still, I continued swimming and working toward the buoy. Like I said, it was very hard to see it, due to the waves, which weren't that bad, but it was choppy, probably due to the wind. I felt good though, and finally had someone close enough in front of me so I could follow his bobbing head. He wasn't always swimming, just bobbing along or side stroking, but it helped me see a lot better! One tip to remember: if you see boats or kayakers that are there to help out and they are waaaay off to another direction you are facing, you are probably swimming off course.
The next buoy made us swim directly against the current, and the chop was worse now too. Still, I continued feeling strong and capable of finishing, and being able to sight better actually cut down on the time for that stretch.
The last leg in was with the current. Yeah! Now this was fun again. I could really feel myself getting pushed along. I can still feel the current as I sit typing. Its a weird sensation. So I was really doing well here, still watching bobber head, making my way closer to the end, when I hit a huge patch of weeds. No big deal for me luckily, but as I got closer to the ramp, I kept getting annoyed by a piece of "seaweed." I say that lightly, because I finally grabbed at what was in my face, only to find out it was my goggle strap! So I pulled them completely off doing that and couldn't see a thing after that. I have no idea how that happened, or why. I just jammed them back on my face, closed my eyes, did a few strokes, looked up, closed my eyes, etc. until I was done. Then I had to deal with the dang rocks again. I was swearing about that, I'll tell you! I could barely get out of the water it hurt my feet to badly. As soon as I hit the beach, I finally looked at my watch: 33:45. Hmm, better than I thought with all that. Hit the mat in 34:25, after struggling up the boat ramp of rocks and across the parking lot, and through the woods, just kidding. It was a LONG transition.
T1: No idea, just a couple of minutes I guess, not counting the run to transition. No big problems getting going.
BIKE: It was long, meaning it was longer than they said, which was supposed to be 35 miles. My computer said 36:80 when I finished. You start on an uphill, so I just spun up to the road and then kicked it in. Today, I think I found that extra gear. Once I got going, I was easily cruising at 16-17 mph, on the flats, and while my speed slipped several times due to either long slow inclines or potholes, I felt like I put in a good effort. A couple of guys passed me early on, making me feel good that I hadn't been last to this point, but I never saw them again after about a minute. The turns were well marked by volunteers or police, so traffic was fairly well controlled. No incidents, making me happy about that. While the traffic was light and fairly under control, I will probably never get over worrying about being out there, by myself, being last, and having just one stupid driver not paying attention. Still, you've got to have faith.
At 19 miles, a young woman passed me, and I was really surprised to see that. I figured she had probably done the sprint, already finished, and was out on a "cool down." Then a guy comes up behind me, and that surprised me too. He said he was the "sweeper,"meaning he was following the last biker--now me. He was going to tell the volunteers they could leave after I went through their stop. So not only do I get to have him hanging behind me for 17 miles, but I get to hear him tell people probably a dozen times "last biker." That did a couple of things to me: kept me moving a little faster so I wasn't keeping people out there any longer, but also distracted me some, knowing he was watching my every move.
Somewhere between 19 and 30 miles, he picked up another "sweeper" buddy, so now there were two people behind me. I was pushing quite hard, but I'll bet they were just easing down the road. At this point too, the road is quite torn up, pot holes everywhere. I was starting to see water bottles in the road and water reservoir sponges, and nearly lost one of my bottles too! I had to slow down here, just to avoid the holes and chewed up road. So I was probably down to 10-11 mph through about a half mile stretch when all of a sudden I see "the hill"--Blockhouse hill as its called. The blockhouse is an old stockade actually that was used for watching out for Indians way back when, so naturally it is at the top of this long, steep, winding hill. People had warned about it before the race, saying the road was bad, but saying it was at the "halfway" point. I had been watching for it forever it seemed, but once I hit 25 miles I forgot about it. Here, I did something I have never done in a race: walked my bike up that hill. When I got to 3 mph and hadn't geared down fast enough, I was on the verge of tipping over, so I quickly unclipped and hopped off. I was mad, and told the guys behind me I was mad and didn't like this hill here! As if they cared! They did say "you're doing great," but I didn't care, I still walked. I'm sure I lost about 5 minutes here, since the hill went on and upward for quite a while. When I could see it was finally leveling off, I hopped back on and was immediately met with a very steep and winding downhill! I was braking at 29 mph here and was very scared because of the hairpin turns and traffic. Yikes! At this point, I couldn't wait to be done. I was sick of the bike, sick of the hills on what they claimed was a "flat" course, and just tired.
So I was never more glad to get to 35 miles--only to still have to pedal on. And on. And still on. Come on, I thought, I want to be done! It was amusing though in the last few miles, with those guys behind me, because the runners out there were cheering us all on, like they were behind me! So they actually made me look good at the end. Finally I saw the last turn to the finish. Don was there waiting. I also saw a biker down--the woman who had passed me earlier. Someone said she collapsed, didn't crash though. No idea why.
Back at transition, I just was glad to finally be rid of my "escorts" and be done with the bike. I saw Tom, and he was already done with his race. I told him so! Then I had to head out to the run.
T2: Again, no idea and I don't care.
RUN: I'm assuming this was an accurate distance, but I never saw the 6 or 7 mile marks, so can only assume. Again, the first part was directly up the big hill we had to bike out to the main road. Don was there and said he would jog up the hill with me. Uh no. I think I'm walking this. Once I got to the street, I did start running, but only because they were holding traffic so I could cross the street. I felt obligated, you know? I was very thirsty though, and my water bottle for the run was frozen, so I had a hard time the first mile, trying to get my feet and legs working, trying to get water, trying to figure out where to go! By now, there was no one in front of me, and the volunteers were few and far between. They did have one lane marked off with cones, so I started running 5 cones, walking 1, until I got to the first mile and the first water stop. Here I filled my bottle with some more water and gulped another glass besides. Then trotted on, only to not know where to go! Don came by in his car to see how I was doing. I had told him to go get something to eat--and take a nap if he wanted! since I was likely to be out there a while. I told him I didn't know where to go, so he drove ahead a bit and then came back, telling me I was going the right way.
Before I knew it, I was at 2 miles, then 3, then 4. During this whole time, I was out there by myself, but never really alone. The local cop rode by me a few times and said he would check on me from time to time. That was really nice! And then a volunteer stopped ahead with water and gatorade for me and told me to just follow the road around the lake. That also was very nice! He did this 3 more times, doing traffic control at each of the intersections. Then he apparently "handed me off" to another volunteer. This guy, too was very nice. I again apologized for keeping them out there so long, but they were great! They never made me feel like they had anything else to do that day. And of course they encouraged me all along the way. When I got to 5 miles, I saw two marks for that and could only imagine which one was right. I hadn't looked at my watch since I started running and I didn't want to do it now. I didn't want the time factor to pressure me at all.
Somewhere between 5 and 6 miles, the volunteer guy comes walking toward me, saying he'll run with me a while for moral support up the big hill ahead. Yikes, another one! I have to wonder though if he just was trying to keep me moving a little faster. :) Up to that point, and after the cones disappeared, I was running 500 steps (and yes, I counted most of them!) and walking 100. Counting keeps me focused, and if I don't get crazed from doing it, usually keeps me moving forward more efficiently. Yet here was someone who was going to throw all that off by running with me, and up a huge hill besides! I made it to the top before I told him I was going to have to walk a bit. So I mentally went back to my counting and then started running again. The cop was coming by again and said I was almost done. Yipee! How much farther I really wanted to know but didn't ask. He stopped traffic again at an intersection and then held up cars so I could get within the coned off area again. Very nice touch.
Now I was back to the cones, so I figured it would only be about another mile and a half. I went back to running past 10 and then walking to 1 until I got to where I could see the last one and saw Don standing there. I just can't walk again I told myself. I had to keep going. Have to look good, you know? Actually, the walking wasn't because I was tired, just to get my heart rate down so I wasn't breathing hard. As I turned off the street to the downhill to the finish (yes finally a downhill!), the cop was there, Don was there, and the runner guy was there. I high fived them all and then realized the finish line wasn't at the bottom of the hill, but still another block off. Oh well, can't stop now. One thing about the run and all the volunteers out there helping me along the way, I probably ran more than I would have otherwise or wanted to today, but I also know I didn't run as much as I should have. So I broke my rule there about not walking, but I think I made it through just as well for the walking breaks.
As I made my last turn to the finish, a bunch of people were out there cheering me to the finish, calling out my name, and none of whom I knew! (I'm sure they were thinking, FINALLY, she's getting done so we can get our awards and leave!)
I really was able to pick up the pace the last 100 yards and finished strong. And that skunk odor was here too! Finish time: 4:35. I had predicted 4:30, so I'm sure it was that walk up the blockhouse hill that put me over!
And yes, I did take first in my age group, even if I was the only one. But I had fun, I worked hard, and I always go away learning something new from the experience. Not sure what that is yet, except this was probably the best race in terms of volunteers.