Friday, August 31, 2007


Like a lot of you, I have spent the extra time I have this week reading race reports from IM Louisville. All Pulitzer prize winners, that's for sure.

And why does taking one day off work take four to get caught up??

I've tried to keep a low profile this week too, since I know Don isn't feeling the best about the race outcome, but we actually had signed up to do a sprint tri this weekend, the Grand Marais Triathlon. Its short and sweet, I hope. Its in the UP of Michigan, and the swim takes place in Grand Marais Bay of Lake Superior. Hopefully, the water won't be too cold. The website says that Labor Day Weekend is the warmest time for the lake, whatever that might be.

This weekend will also mark the one year since my infamous bike accident on Sept. 3, 2006. While I have tried not to dwell on this too much or use it as an excuse for not doing things, I have to be honest and say that it did pretty much dominate my life for a long time, and I was quite surprised it took so long to really get over the effects of the injuries. I was also surprised at how hard it has been to really get back to the base level I was at last year at this same time, and I'm still not even sure I'm there. It seems to be a continuing saga when I say my swim is slower, my bike is slower, and my run is slower, so nothing new there! But I finally feel like I am gaining back some strength I just couldn't seem to find no matter how hard I worked. Even with the recent ankle sprain (which I'll have you know has had a relapse of sorts having turned it again the other day! Aargh!) I still seem to have regained some endurance finally.

Some of the struggle has been mental, as well. There was a spark that was put out when this accident happened, and I struggle constantly to keep the flame going. Not that I don't want to, just that it is so hard sometimes! I'm sure you all can relate. And while I don't want to use my age as a factor, I know it definitely makes a difference.

And while triathlon and running are a big part of my daily life, there is a subtle change when you go from your forties to your fifties. Subtle. Had the accident not happened, I might not have noticed it so much. But since then, I see things differently than I did a year ago. I weigh my options a lot more before making decisions or taking perceived "risks." I am not so quick to take on a difficult task or get involved in controversial things as I might have been a year ago. And I struggle to put in the miles and training necessary to really get ahead. Its hard to explain, but the change has been there.

Not that I won't continue to strive for more or to be better. I hope I always will. I just may take longer to reach the goal or level than I might have before. Some things stick in your mind and don't want to readily leave. Some of it is conscious, and some of it is reflexive.

So I hope getting away this weekend with put this chapter of my life behind me and I can start over--again.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I'm back home now and I can tell you it is SO nice being able to fly in 2 hours compared with 7+ hours of driving!

Ironman. What can I say? There are not enough words to describe this event. Its emotional as much as physical. And its even harder when there is a DNF. So much time is invested in an Ironman event. As Don says, you have to plan a whole year ahead, and you don't know what will happen in that year. You just have to believe it will happen. You have to have faith in your beliefs.

And happen is what you do believe, and most of the time it does happen. This year, it did not happen for my Donald. There was so much emotion on his part in that decision, such a gut wrenching feeling on mine, when I knew he wasn't going to finish. What do you say? How do you feel?

Ironman, so many stories, so much anticipation, so much expectation, so much belief. Being present at one of these events humbles you in a way you can't imagine, watching these everyday people, people like you and me, out there, putting forth the effort to accomplish what it takes to be an Ironman. Standing at the finish line, for hours because you can't leave, watching every type of person imaginable crossing that finish line, becoming an Ironman, is something you can't express to others. You have to be there.

There was a lot of good, and some not so good. For Don, I will now share with you his story. Don found out recently that he has an incurable type of cancer, and started therapy in late June. At that time, he was told he probably would not be able to do the Ironman, but he went forward with the positive attitude that he could do this. The good news is that the drug he has been taking has had good results, and he is now in remission. The bad news is that the side effects are bone and joint pain--not aches, pain--and decreased energy levels. Up until a couple of weeks ago, all was well. Then, the pain started. But it came and went. Same thing with the energy levels. It was taper time, after all, no reason to be too concerned.

But the day of the race? The pain came and the energy level went. He just couldn't make it. He would never have made the bike cut off. He said he had no energy. His legs just wouldn't function the way they needed to.

I can't describe my emotions, trying to keep them in check for many reasons, unable to even acknowledge my fear of the whole situation. I was just there to be supportive.

As for all the others who finished? I know how hard it was for you, but I am so glad you all made it! This is something you can never have taken away from yoou. You have done something that the average person will never experience. That makes you extraordinary. As they said over and over at the finish line: I salute you!

It was a hot day. It is a great city. Its a great venue. We had mostly successes in finishing, although Don did not make it unfortunately. His back seized up on him on the bike around mile 66 and he gutted it out to 73 before he finally had to call it a day. He is a multi-time Ironman, so he knows when to quit.

There was a big snafu on this situation, however, so I never made it to my afternoon volunteer position. I got a call that he needed to be picked up in transition. This was just before 3 pm, just before I was to check in. So I figured I would hang around the transition until he got there, see what needed to be done, and take it from there. We waited, and waited, and waited. We checked the med tent twice, walked all around the area, sat and waited some more, even called back on the number of the cell phone that had called me. Nothing. No Don.

We found a very nice place to sit and watch the bike in and run out area, so I did get to see many of the bloggers, just didn't get a one-on-one with only a few. We waited until the cutoff of the bike, 6pm, and then he finally showed up. Its a long story where he was for 3 hours, and that of course didn't make the situation any better for him. We went back to the hotel eventually so he could get cleaned up, rest a bit, and get a bite to eat, and then headed back down to the finish area to wait for others.

Let me tell you, this finish line is the tops of the races I have been to before. All IM race finishes are unbelievable, but this was so cool! The finish is at Fourth Street Live! a street with open air eating areas, Hard Rock Cafe, bars, shops, boutiques, etc. So incredible. If you do this race for any other reason, it would be for the finish line. And of course, the volunteers there were incredible too. I did talk to Karen (Waddler). She had devoted most of her day to volunteering, so hats off to her!

Another note about the bike. I asked Don about the traffic in LaGrange. He didn't seem to know what I was talking about, so apparently the athletes weren't as put off about that situation as the spectators, because I wasn't the only one shocked at the open road situation.

The finish area, while it is so incredible, is way too far from the transition. They need to do something about that. I would say its a good mile from transition, so too far for people after that type of race to get back to and get their stuff or cars.

More later. I have a plane to catch.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I'm back at the hotel for a while anyway, just to decompress a little from the heat. The swim start was the time trial start as planned. From where I was, I could not see the actual start, but I could see athletes swimming and coming out of the water. I had to leave around 8 am however to pick up Nancy, Bruce's wife, from the airport. Befiore I left to do that, I did do a quick check on the status of those I was keeping track of, but only a couple were done already: Courtney, the fastest at 1:11:43, and another one of my group at 1:12:33. Then I was in limbo until we got back from the airport. I only came back to the hotel then to bring Nancy here to unpack and again did a quick check on the status. By then, all had finished the swim, but Don was the slowest, so I don't know what happened there. That's one disadvantage of not being able to stick around the transition area, to get the whole story.

Then Nancy and I drove out to LaGrange to view some of the bike course and try to spot some of the people we knew. LaGrange is about 22 miles northeast of Louisville, but is a little town with quaint shops, a train that goes right through town, and A LOT OF TRAFFIC! I realize some of the traffic was due to the race, but here's what has me upset: they did not close any roads in the area to traffic! There was a 4 way intersection where cars only stopped because of the police there to monitor traffic, but there is no traffic light or 4 way stop, so some of these cars, to avoid the long wait to go through the intersection, turned instead onto the bike course! And the police did nothing. There were so many near collisions with cars it was maddening and scary to watch. The spectators were furious at the stupid cars going through and were yelling and hollering at them to get out of the way. It was like some of them thought this whole thing was set up for them personally! Basically, there was only one lane for them to go through because of spectators in the other lane, and to have cars going through there at the same time? My question: if there was a parade through town, would they allow traffic to drive through it or cross intersections in front of it?? Crazy. To make matters worse, right after this 4 way intersection there is a steep downhill where the athletes were getting up to 30 mph and they were having to dodge cars! I had to get out of there because I was getting so upset, but was glad and surprised that we saw Don and Bruce at least. I doubt they saw us. We were extremely fortunate to come across a parking spot just wide open and waiting for us, right across from a barbeque place, and on the bike course, so we had it all there for a while it seemed!

My opinion then of the bike course? They need to close it to traffic, at least keep it reasonably closed off, so there is no thoroughfare through the bike portion. Its one thing to have traffic going by you; its quite another to have to ride in front of or behind cars while you are in a race, especially a race of this magnitude. And having to dodge around them like in a maze. Very unsafe and congested if you ask me.

Well, back to the race. Maybe more later, but only my observations of course.

Part 1:

I arrived Saturday morning by plane, around 9:40 am. It was a quick and smooth flight. My flight was scheduled to leave at 7 am, so I figured I should be the airport no later than 5:45.

I had been terribly busy at work Friday trying to get ready to be out of the office on Monday and getting last minute things done I had neglected earlier in the week that needed doing before my boss came back on Monday. I managed to get in a swim in the morning, with the intention of getting to work at least on time, working through lunch which is the norm, and hoping to get out early to get in another bike ride that evening. Naturally, none of that happened. I got sidetracked at the gym by a woman who was asking a lot of questions about running, that she wanted to start, but heard it was "so bad for you." Yeah, if you do it wrong! And if you think its "so bad for you" why do you want to do it?? That caused me to be late for work right there.

Fast forward a few hours and I had one thing after another to get done, and then several other last minute things cropped up, so by the time I actually was able to leave work, it was after 6. A pop-up storm had hit earlier in the day, but now it was partly cloudy but windy, but more rain was threatened. Our Thursday night ice cream ride had been cut short by a pop-up storm, so I really wanted to get in another bike ride before being gone for the weekend. I questioned the weather Friday night, but got dressed for a ride anyway. Then my sandle strap broke, the one pair of comfortable shoes I could likely wear all weekend without messing up my ankle or making my feet hurt. Great. So I decided to make a quick trip to a couple of stores like Target and Walmart to see what they possibly still had in stock in late August. As I suspected, nothing I could or would wear, and nothing in my size anyway! They did have a wide assortment of fall shoes and winter boots to choose from, however! Luckily, I was able to find some leather super glue, and so far that is doing the trick.

By this time, the sky was darkening, and I decided not to risk another stormy ride. I had much to do to get ready for the trip, and I still had to finish planning a family picnic that was to take place on Saturday as well. Not to mention I was a little paranoid of getting struck by lightning.

I did manage to get to bed fairly early Friday night, being exhausted from waking up at 3 am that morning from a barking dog that never quit for more than an hour, and which I didn't even know lived in the neighborhood! With no air conditioning, my windows stay open until it snows almost, so I get to hear everything that happens in the area in the night. And once again, Saturday morning, I was awakened before 3 am by a loud motorcycle roaring by, not once, not twice, but three times, back and forth, back and forth. Just where are the cops at this time of morning?? After laying there awake for 20 minutes with my mind racing thinking of all the things I had forgotten to do, I decided to get up.

I was still feelilng slothful for not having done my bike ride the night before, so I decided to get in a short run, on the treadmill of course. That was at 3:45 am. Despite the coolness of the morning, the humidity was so high that by the time I got done 20 some minutes later I was completely dripping with sweat. Completely head to toe. That caused me to have a hard time cooling off, so by the time my daughter arrived at 5 am to pick me up, I still couldn't get dressed because I was still sweating!

Finally, I had to be ready and we headed to the airport.

Part 2: At the airport

The Delta ticket counter wasn't that busy, which was the carrier I was using. The Northworst ticket counter, however, was jammed, so I was glad I had steered clear of them once again. So I had more than an hour to wait for my flight and sat and played a hand-held electronic game I got from one of the kids. I didn't feel like reading yet. It was still dark, and stayed dark until past 6:45. Just before we were scheduled to depart, I decided to use the airport bathroom before getting on the plane. There was an old woman in there who reminded me of my grandmother, tottering around, very slowly. I didn't give her another thought until later.

I had decided to go hands free on the plane, other than my purse and book which fit in my purse. My biggest gripe about flying is what I consider to be everyone's rudeness and inconsideration about carry-ons and use of the overhead storage bins. There was actually a family of two kids who before the flight had eight bags to check, checked their allotted 1 each (4) and then each carried on one each (4 again). So you know where they stowed all that stuff! More on that later.

There was a woman sitting next to me who was about my age, and struck up a conversation immediately, so we actually spent the entire time talking, making the flight go by quickly. I had very little ear discomfort this time, so at least I could hear her as well.

The first part of the trip took me to Cincinnati, and from there I would fly to Louisville. Time to get off and I thought being hands free I could hop up and deplane quickly, since I was also sitting close to the front. No such luck. I get out of my seat and the old lady appears in front of me, blocking me from getting by. Not only that, but she had a huge purse and a carryon stowed, so I had to wait for her to first very slowly get out of her seat fully, then get her stuff organized to deplane. Could you NOT just let me go ahead of you??? And to make matters worse yet, the family of four were in the front of the plane and naturally the dad hopped up immediately to get their overhead stuff out, four bags remember, so again, everyone in the plane had to wait for this dimwit to get himself out of the way. Then the old lady says she's waiting for her wheelchair, which isn't there yet. Again, why are you even out of your seat?? I could have been off the plane in a few seconds and on to my next gate had it not been for these people. Made me wonder why I even bothered to be organized. These are the things that annoy me about flying!

The leg to Louisville was only 17 minutes, so that too went by quickly. Again, very smooth. I got my rental car while waiting for my luggage so I could be out of there as soon as possible. I had directions to the hotel from the airport, and having arrived earlier than expected, I figured the guys would still be at the Gatorade swim, so I decided to wait to call until I was on my way. Surprisingly, I found my way from the airport to the hotel, which was only about 5 miles away. I was impressed with the ease of getting around. The signage was very clear. The hotel was actually just over the border in Indiana at exit 2, so still very close to the race site. Going across the huge bridge spanning the Ohio River, I tried to get a peak below to see if I could see any of the swim area, but I couldn't. The buoys weren't up yet either.

Part 3: Meet up with Suzanne

The guys arrived back at the hotel just about the same time as I did, and we were able to get the second room right away, so I didn't have to wait all day to get my stuff unpacked. I called Suzanne and we planned to meet up later that day. The guys were actually going to go out and run a couple of miles, still would have to shower, and then we wanted to get lunch, so I knew it would be about 2 pm before I could meet her. I had forgotten too about volunteer check-in, so after lunch the guys insisted on showing me a "shortcut' to get to the race site, and I did the check in then. Then I called Suzanne and she came to my hotel to pick me up.

What a thrill to finally get to meet! She's a lot of fun, and we had a great time. She took me to a bike shop/cafe, and we had another bite to eat. I hadn't really eaten much that morning for breakfast, and hadn't eaten much for lunch, so I was still hungry when we met. So over delicious sandwiches and a beer, we talked about all kinds of things, but mainly running and triathlon, what else?? As I said before, she reminds me a lot of when I first hit the running scene MANY years ago, so it was fun talking about the running experiences, and of course she had questions about triathlon and Ironman. She's a pretty good runner and is becoming a good biker, so I would guess it could be a matter of time before she gets the bug for the Louisville IM. What better opportunity, right there in her backyard? Another pop-up storm hit while we sat on the patio eating, drinking, and talking, but we just kept talking until it got so bad we were forced inside. And its funny how quickly time flies when you're having fun! When we left we took a slight "detour" through the downtown area where the race finish will be.

Naturally, all good things have to come to an end, and it was time for her to head home and me back to the hotel. A group dinner was planned, which actually didn't happen. The directions we had got us wandering around the entire downtown and near downtown Louisville, with no sign of the restaurant mentioned, so we ended up going to a Fazoli's. Bruce, one of the guys in the group, likes to keep it simple. He just wants to get in, eat, and leave. Nothing more, so since he was driving, that was our exciting dinner!

I was tired though, after having been up 2 days in a row at 3 am, so it was good to get back to the hotel to relax and try to get to bed early, since Sunday would be another early wakeup call!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I just talked to Don, who is in Louisville right now, and the temperature is 94 degrees, but the humidity is 42%! That is bone dry compared to here! My lips would chap at that dryness! Its 75 degrees here and 87% humidity. Personally, I would rather have the high temperatures than the humidity. If you don't know what 87% humidity feels like, imagine yourself in a steam room, running, biking, or whatever. It sucks the life out of you. This morning, all I wanted to do was a short 2 mile run and still ended up walking towards the end because I couldn't breathe!

There's also a no wetsuit swim, and the swim course has changed, and is likely to be short, for safety reasons. Heavy rains have resulted in a change in the swim course, to a more protected area. But what is really funny is that Don and Bruce (the other guy he is staying with) have both bought skin suits! LOL! Bruce had ordered one ahead of time, but got an e-mail saying they were "sold out." Apparently, the company that sells these shipped all their stock to Louisville anticipating a no wetsuit swim. I hope some of the blogger got themselves one!

Ah, innaugural events. Don loves these. He is always trusting of new things, so is willing to take whatever comes his way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


. . . for having temperatures in the 50s and 60s here, while you all sweat to death. I actually wore a sweater today as part of my work ensemble. LOL! Just remember though when I will be complaining as I scrape the ice and snow off my windshield in just a few short months.

To take advantage of this early peek at fall weather, it was time to get back to regular running. My ankle is probably 98% right now, so I am extremely happy with that, but with even a 2% chance of reinjury, I'm still wearing the ankle support, now getting grungier from soil and sweat, but doing its job, nevertheless! I have been trying to not do too much at once, but I also want to try to reestablish some of the running base I have lost as quickly as possible, so also am still relying on the elliptical to fill in the blanks. Yesterday was another 5 mile day on the elliptical. Boring as it sounds, it goes by quickly enough, and its still new enough to present some fun and challenge. And I'll tell you, I sweat. A lot. Today, though, I planned to run just 2 miles but ended up going for 40 minutes, all too easy to do, thanks, I suspect, to the increased endurance from the elliptical and all the previous biking. Eventually, you get your paybacks it seems.

Getting back to the weather, I am a little concerned about what awaits me in Louisville, as the extended forecast calls not only for hot and humid weather, but the chance of rain and thunderstorms too! Note to self and anyone else planning on being there: pack the umbrella.

This will be somewhat of a new experience for me attending an IM race. In the past, I have always gone with a group, hung out with the group, and done all the group things. This time, I'm traveling alone, will have the group around me, but am actually hoping to break free from them and meet up with all the bloggers! So I am going to have to figure out how to get around by myself most of the time. I'm an adventurer though, and never hesitate to set out in search of wherever I think I need to go. (That's another way of saying I'm likely to get lost and do a lot of wandering around.)

I'll be relying on a couple of people "local" to the area. One is Suzanne, who I've enjoyed reading these last few months. I can't really remember where or when I found her blog, but it was back when she was having that "pain in the ass" injury I've had so I thought I could offer a little advice on what it was. As time has gone on, however, reading about her running has taken me back to my early days of running, so I'm looking forward to meeting with her finally. She tells me its hot down there, so at least I know what I'm getting into there!

I also hope to meet up with the bloggers: Iron Pol, Mary Sunshine, Courtney, Laura, and maybe Geek Girl and Sweet Baboo. Also, Karen and Duane who will be volunteering. Sometimes, the logistics and schedules makes it impossible to meet up with unknowns, but I'm hoping I see some of you! I know there are a few more, but I haven't made any connection with them yet. It looks to be a busy weekend!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


That was the temperature yesterday morning, air and water, when Don attempted to do a 1.75 mile Lake Michigan swim event. The event was cancelled due to the possibility of, imagine this, hypothermia!

I actually saw someone running yesterday morning with tights and a hat with the ear flaps down! Let's see, what month is this?? That's carrying it a little too far. Must have been an out-of-towner: we don't wear tights around here until January!

My planned bike ride was going to be cold, and I really wasn't into it mentally, but I set out with good intentions, only to have the whole thing thwarted by: 1. construction of a bridge overpass right on the bike path, meaning they totally blocked the bike path and the road surrounding it with their trucks and heavy equipment, and 2. a fatal accident on (next to actually, a shared, closed off road) the bike path--a car crash that is. So that whole area was blocked off with the investigation. Creepy. Glad I didn't find the car! So I didn't get far, and instead headed back to the park and chatted with people I haven't seen in a while. Then I went to the gym with the intention of swimming but ended up doing 1 hour on the elliptical instead! Didn't expect to do that.

This change in weather around here is always inevitable this time of year. It always seems to happen about 2 weeks before school starts back up, and then when school starts, summer returns. I don't expect it to be cold next week in Louisville though! I still need to get cell numbers and any other info from those bloggers I hope to meet up with, so watch for my e-mail!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Finally, at long last, and without trying much it seems, things are starting to come together. Slow, but sure. The results from Sunday's race show I was 4th in the AG, out of 5, so that is a definite step up from the basement! And I only missed 3rd by a little over a minute, something I could have handled with a little more practice. What I think it reveals more than anything is that my strength is finally coming back, maybe not for long distances yet, but short at least. It gives me hope that this whole season hasn't been a total waste!

But while I focus on my own accomplishments, rest assured I am following yours as well. One thing I have discovered about myself over the 20+ years of competing in running events and the last several iyears n triathlons, is that while I may not have met all my goals yet, I have enjoyed watching you and others reach theirs almost more! There has been nothing more rewarding than following the accomplishments of friends and now bloggers on their journies of self discovery too. When I think back on the people I have mentored over the years, it is amazing to see the lengths they have gone to, often surpassing me, to accomplish their goals, and helping them set them has been a reward for me as much as for them!

But instead of being disappointed in what I may not have accomplished yet, I am taking pleasure in passing on any experience or, hopefully, wisdom I can offer to help you along in your journey of reaching your goals.

So I'm looking forward to the rest of the tri season, wherever it leads me. I think I need to not get ahead of myself too much because my best talent lies in managing to get myself injured more often than a person deserves! But if I can help any of you in any way, let me know! I'll be cheering for all of you!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I ended up doing a sprint tri today, sort of a tag-along race, the type where there is a sprint attached to a longer distance race. Since Don was insistent on doing a race BEFORE IM KY in two weeks, even though he should be tapering, that's what we did this weekend.

The last time we did this race was 3 years ago. From what happened today, I am starting to think we have a jinx on this race. Three years ago, it was scheduled to be an innaugural race, with a half IM and a "sprint," although the sprint distances were questionable back then. It was a bad year for me (as if any year isn't??), having sprained my ankle badly that year too, badly enough that by August, after it happened in January, it still wasn't healed. And it was the year David died, so I was going through a lot of depression, drinking too much, training hard, but not with my heart in it, having done only 1 other tri that season up until then. So I went along to do what I call the tag-along race. Only, the weather was inclement that year, with fog causing more than a 2 hour delay, resulting in a huge modification of the race courses. So, instead of having a half IM and a sprint, everyone had to do the same distances: 1.2 mile swim, 32 mile bike, 6.8 mile run. I don't know what you call that, but it wasn't an Olympic distance or a sprint. A long course, maybe? And it was a no wetsuit swim. Fortunately, my training was good enough that I could do the distances, but the run was a huge problem not only because of the course (mainly trails), but also because of my foot and ankle problem. I did A LOT of walking. But I finished.

So of course I was hesitant to sign up for this race again, but I was also itching to get out there and see what I was capable of. This year, it was an Olympic distance and a sprint. Reading through the course description, mainly the run course, I was somewhat reassured that it was a mainly flat run, with no trails. That proved to be deceiving, to say the least. More on that later.

We spent the night at a hotel near the race site. The race site is at a state park that reminds me more of a farmer's meadow or field with a nice lake posititioned in the middle of it. Quite pleasant actually. The hotel was fine, but the bed was not. I could not get comfortable sleeping for hours, tossing and turning, and at 3 pm I finally gave up and turned to the bottom of the bed and was instantly comfortable. I have issues with the shoulder that was broken last year, and last night it was bothering me enough that not only could I not sleep, I had a horrible neck and head ache besides. Until I changed positions. So the alarms go off at 5:20 am. You realize then how much sleep I got!

Regardless, I got up, got ready, and headed out to the car, noticing at once that it was windy. Dark and windy. Those two things really don't go together. In all my years of pre-dawn running, the only time it is windy when it is still dark in the morning, means a storm is coming in. Sure enough, within a few seconds I saw a flash. I thought it might be my imagination and dismissed it. But when Don came out to the car, he said he thought he saw lightning. And just then, another flash. Lightning! Not good!

So here we go again. Could it be? A repeat of 3 years ago? As we drove to the race site, it also started raining. First, big drops. Then a steady rain. But we rode out of it. Don was optimistic, saying it probably had already passed through the race area, but I am a wannabe meteorologist, and predicted that storms (in our area) do not usually go east to west. They more often than not go west to east. The race was east. We were coming from the west. That told me we were due to get the same weather--SOON.

Sure enough, by the time we reached the race site, it was lightning and starting to rain. I didn't even want to think of the consequences of what might happen again! We went ahead and got our packets, but I decided to wait to put my bike in transition for a while at least. It went from drizzling and lightning to raining hard, blowing, and lightning a lot. I finally, reluctantly, took my bike to transition, securing a spot by the fence, so I didn't have anyone on both sides of me. Then I went back to the car to wait out the time until they decided what would be done because of the weather.

Don went ahead and took all his stuff to transition to set up, but I just took a relaxed approach and sat in the car, organizing my stuff there. Finally, at 7:30, I decided I would take the rest of my stuff to transition. There was still a steady rain coming down, and they were saying the race was starting on time. As long as the lightning had quit, I didn't see any reason NOT to start on time. I mean, we were already wet, so what was the big deal?

In transition, I reorganized my stuff, from the plastic bag I had found to put my shoes and stuff in, to finally just separating my bike and run stuff and taking my swim gear and going to the prerace meeting. It was still raining.

When 8 am rolled around, they had decided to delay the race 15 minutes. (here we go again was all I could think!) Of course, there was a no wetsuit swim, so basically we stood around in the blowing rain, trying to keep warm. Keeping dry didn't matter to me, but I can't tell you how annoyed I was with people with umbrellas that I kept getting rammed into with. Some people were SO stupid as to walk around with the point facing you. Okay, duh! I want to be speared at this race.

It stopped raining just before 8 am, but was still heavily overcast and cool. Finally, the Olympic men started, then soon after the women. The sprint women 35 and up were next, about 15 minutes later. They had changed to a wetsuit swim at the pre-race meeting, but I decided to forego that since I figured it might cause added trauma to my ankle trying to get it off, but did decide on a neoprene ankle brace for protection.

It was a 500 yard swim, easy enough, right? I thought so, and seeded myself up front with my wave. I figured the speedy ones would start after us, so I wanted to get this over as quickly as possible. When we started, I felt strong and not nervous. I swam well, almost until the turn around when I got kicked. I kept going. Just then though I got kicked again in the chest. WTF? The same woman who had kicked me decided to turn over on her back and do a swift kick routine to keep going at the same pace apparently, with me in her wake. "Oh sorry" was all she could say when I had to stop short after getting kicked hard enough that I took in a mouth of water. And do you think I could get rid of her after that? Nooo. She hung with me until almost the end. I am puzzled as to how people swimming badly, or rather non-swimming, are so fast?? And then I realized my mistake, trying to keep her away from me. I realized then I had swam right into the next wave, instead of around them like we were supposed to! So I got clobbered again and then had to swim back and around the men's wave to get to the finish! Yikes! Not the best swim. Fortunately, the beach and transition were very short, but I still took it easy and tested the ankle before finally breaking into an easy jog.

T1 was agonizingly slow. I had to remove the wet ankle brace and put on a dry one. I knew the wet one would just irritate my skin, so I felt it was necessary. The problem with the transition here was that as luck would have it, nearly everyone who exited the water with me was on my bike rack, and the majority of them were newbies, so basically they were in the way no matter which way I turned. I finally got going on the bike, realizing another woman I knew to be in my age group was still in transition. Yowza! I finally got ahead of someone! Now to hold her off on the bike and run!

The bike was probably the shortest distance I have ever biked in a triathlon: 12.6 miles. It was more than 2 miles to get out of the park though and then onto the surrounding roads. I pushed hard from the beginning. I came to the sudden realization about the short distance and decided to ride as hard as I could. Despite this, there was a young girl ahead of me on a mountain bike, leisurely pedaling it seemed, yet it took forever to pass her! So I dug deep, as deep as I could and finally passed her before getting out of the park. It was then again that I decided to ride as hard as I possibly could, because it was definitely going to come down to the run in the race, who would place and who would not.

I wasn't sure of the course exactly because I couldn't remember from the 3 years before, but once we got going, I remembered. It wasn't flat at all. It was a series of steep rollers, even while it was an out and back course. So imagine my surprise, just as I was nearing approximately the 5.5 mile mark when Don came by me, on an uphill. However, we then turned a corner and it was flat again and when I realized he wasn't pulling ahead of me like he should have, I again made a conscious effort to pass him, digging deep to do so. Here was a moment in triathlon history, not to be forgotten by me: I passed him! I had to, there was no choice, right? Either that or risk a drafting penalty. He laughed but came back as expected by the time I reached my turnaround, at 6.3 miles. That was okay. I had him there for a minute.

At the turnaround, it was then I was glad I was only doing the sprint. While I felt good on the bike, and felt I could push hard (for me) the whole way, it was crazy out there, with the sprint and du men passing like the wild beasts that they were, with one of them nearly clipping my wheel on a pass. And then there was the scary spot near the end, when there was a bunch of us all pushing hard into the last few miles, me trying to pass a young woman, two guys behind me, a car coming, and a car going. The stupid young guys yelled at us to let them pass. We were as far right as we could go! Okay, right. I'll just stop while you go by me! I yelled back for them to go around. It wasn't just their race after all. There was nothing we could do.

We were back into the park now and I dug deep again to finish in a respectable time. The young woman I had worked so hard to pass on the road several times came by me now, barely looking like she was putting any effort into pedalling, yet I could not catch her again. I was working as hard as I could but she got away for the final time. We had been playing cat and mouse since the turnaround, and I found out after the bike portion, she was on the same bike rack as me, right next to me in fact! Go for it, was all I could say back at transition.

T2 was a little faster, since all I had to do was get my running shoes on after taking off my helmet and reracking my bike. I grabbed a drink of water on the way out, after deciding not to bring my water bottle. It was still very overcast and while it was warm, it just didn't seem that hot yet. I hadn't drank anything on the bike, yet I didn't seem thirsty either.

The run started on the beach, but on grass, and we had to run up through the picnic area to the paved trail to the parking lot and then back on another trail. I was a little disappointed here, to learn there was going to be so much trail running. Basically, it was running through a field with the only "trail" marked by a chalk line and whatever grass was beaten down by those who had passed through before.

Fortunately, it wasn't too bad, but it definitely was going to slow me down. There were too many uneven areas where I felt I couldn't just plow through without being cautious. It was a narrow clearing, so of course people got jammed up trying to pass. I was a little concerned someone would knock into me and cause me to fall, but fortunately they just went around, some grumbling of course. I couldn't take a chance stepping off the "path." That was probably about a 1/2 mile and then we were out on a gravel road.

Here I could see more people coming back. It was hard to tell who was in which race, since they had an Olympic distance with men swimming first, so potentially there could be some younger guys coming in; they also started a duathlon at the same time as the sprint, so a lot of these people could be from that too. And of course the sprint, where a lot of the women 35 and up were now coming in. Since I didn't know who might be in my age group, I watched for those women passing me on the return. Didn't see any one by the time I reached the 1 mile mark, but just then a woman with a "54" on her calf came buzzing by, and I mean buzzing by. In fact, by the time I passed the water stop at 1.5 miles, she was already returning. While I was quite happy I had swam and biked faster than her, even with a good ankle I wouldn't have been able to hold her off! Then at the turnaround, a woman I figured was in my age group that I had seen earlier, finally came by me. We talked briefly and then she too was off. With a good ankle, I probably could have held her off. Again, there wasn't much I could do now but at least go for my goal time.

The good thing about the run was I didn't walk at all, my ankle didn't hurt, and the sun stayed behind the clouds. The bad thing of course was running tentatively, to be sure I didn't do any further damage to it. It still had some bruising on Saturday that I hadn't noticed, and after my Thursday ice cream ride with the group, it had ached continuously, so I was really surprised to find nothing major bothering me this morning. The other bad thing was the trails. Just before I reached the end on the trails on the return, my ankle did do a quick twist but I caught myself and it didn't seem to do anything.

It was here, though, that I saw another woman close enough to pass if I worked at it, someone I thought might be in my age group. At this point, I figured I could only do as good as third, and didn't want another slipup to put me into fourth. So I reeled her in. But as I got closer, I started wondering if this was really a woman or a man?? I honestly didn't know for sure until one of the volunteers shouted out "good going gals," and a quick look behind me told me she was talking to us. So that was it. I had to pass. But as I did, I saw her age: 48. No matter, it had to be done. The finish area was also a little tentative, since once we left the paved path, we were back on grass, and I was afraid someone would pass me here, but only two young guys did, so go for it I thought. A quick look at my watch just before I passed her also told me I would make my goal, which I did: 1:45:30.

After the race, while I waited for Don, I took stock of how I felt and I realized I felt great! I knew I hadn't been able to put 100% effort into the run, but I certainly had on the swim and bike. Unfortunately, as it turned out, there was at least one other woman ahead of me, because I did not take third. No results up yet, so I don't know whether I was last in the AG or someone else was behind me. Either way, I did the best I could under the circumstances.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


If I hadn't mentioned it before, my daughter, Renee, e-mailed me quite excitedly the other day to say she had tickets for a live taping of Wheel of Fortune at Radio City Music Hall in NYC and wanted me to go with her. Its Friday, September 28, so I thought I would also try to find a race in Central Park to do on Saturday morning. The only thing I could find, unfortunately, was the Fifth Avenue Mile. I'm sure it will be fun to watch, but I don't plan to try to compete in a miler race! The "old" people start at 11:35, just before the elite women. I don't want to be mowed down by them while I finish up my speedy, most likely 10 min. mile!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I've been tagged by Lisa, Shelley, and SWTriGal. I've had a good laugh reading some of the bloggers who have been tagged, but have to say I haven't led nearly the exciting life many of you have led and now lead! Some of the jobs you've held! LOL! I'm not even creative enough to come up with something that funny.

Despite that, here are my answers:

Jobs I've held:

Banquet server (country club) (1 week)
Office worker (forever)
Legal Secretary (forever-since in high school co-op 1971)
Mom (since 1977 but never ending I hope)
Insurance company worker (3 months)
Janitor (2 yrs)
Babysitter (6 months)
Legal Word Processor (2 yrs)
Legal secretary again (6 yrs)
Banquet Server (2 yrs)
Legal assistant (19 yrs)

Movies I can watch over and over:
Forest Gump
Legally Blonde
A League of Their Own

Guilty pleasures:
red wine

Places I have lived: (and this is where I am REALLY boring!)
Grand Rapids, Michigan (27 years)
Rockford, Michigan (16 yrs)
Grand Rapids, MI (9 yrs)

Shows I Enjoy:
Law and Order any of them
How I Met Your Mother
2 1/2 Men
Sex and the City (reruns of course!)
Will and Grace (reruns)
Cosby (reruns)

Websites I visit daily:
Continental (always looking for cheap flights!)

Places I have been on vacation:
New Jersey
New York City
Myrtle Beach
21 other states

Lots that I can't print

MANY running awards (actually won masters and money once!)
A few triathlon awards
One swimming award
School awards--typing, spelling
Volunteer awards
Service awards (10, 15, 20 yrs)

A new category: What do I value most?
My faith
My family
The memories I have of my parents
The love and friendship of my blogger friends and other friends
My job

Who shall I tag?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Can you say hot? I know you can. (That's me, by the way, after work, with my "air conditioning" at home.) But you won't hear me complain--not much that is. I have always loved summer and have learned to deal with the heat and humidity. With our short season of good weather, it beats the alternative, that nasty S word we deal with almost 6 months of the year it seems.

One problem I am encountering with rehab-ing the ankle though is I am forced to do more workouts inside. Its not so bad a deal on days like this, but I need to get back out in the real world! After all, you can't control the weather come race day.

And going to the gym every morning has its usual drawbacks. For some reason, the regulars have abandoned their routine, and now its some of the occasionals who come in, disrupting the flow of the rest of us, changing the music channels to news of all things, and walking slowly on the treadmills gaping at the tv news or pedaling maybe 2 mph on the Schwinn airdynes. I don't know, maybe they are trying to escape the heat too? The gym is cooler, there's no doubt, but these people have to have air conditioning at home, unlike some of us!

Tomorrow will be 4 weeks since the ankle fiasco. It seems like 8! I am supposed to be waiting one more week to run, but I am to the point where I can't stand it much longer. Rather than do something really stupid, I will attempt ONLY a 2 mile run tomorrow, on the treadmill if I have to, and then go back to the elliptical. I think its time I see what still hurts, if anything, and how things are coming along. The ankle itself isn't too bad, just around the bone and front of the ankle, and on some downstairs, or if I happen to twist or turn it, just normal range of motion you know, but the knee is still a mystery. It isn't swollen, hot, or even bruised outwardly anymore, but I still can't put any weight on it if I kneel and its still sore if I bump against something.

I have fallen into a not-so-bad routine though: Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays 3 miles on the elliptical and a 1/2 mile or more swim; Tuesdays and Thursdays weight training, 2 miles on the elliptical, and biking. I think I have managed to keep up my cardio fairly well, other than not having the long run buildup. I'm still trying to decide when and which races to do next. I feel like I need to take advantage of the only season we have and don't want to lose out like last year. There are a couple of races I won't be able to do because I'll be in Louisville for IM, so I want to find a half IM yet this year to do. I'm taking suggestions!

My daughter also wants me to visit her in NYC again at the end of September to see, of all things, Wheel of Fortune live, which she has gotten tickets for. Now if it was Jeopardy, I might be more inclined!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The virtual race that is. Its our work's 2nd annual virtual race. Last year, the winner was whoever reached 175 miles first. That was me! How did I do it? Bike, bike, bike. I rode 170 miles in one week, ran 5 and swam 1 (I lost count, who can blame me?). As I said, I did this in one week. You can't imagine the criticism I got for this. Did people congratulate me for pulling off this huge feat in one week? No. Instead, they all assumed I cheated. How was it possible? Did you run the whole way? (right!) Even the person in charge of keeping track of everyone's progress couldn't quite figure it out (How did you bike 15 miles in 45 minutes when my chart says you can only bike 10?) Stupid stuff like that.

Since I was motivated to win, I rationalized it out: I can bike farther in less time than anything else. So I figured out what I had to do every day to reach my goal distance in one week. And then every day I put my plan into action: bike 15 in the morning before work, bike 15 after. The days I ran and swam it was only because I was so sick of getting out my bike in the morning I needed a break. And I think because it rained hard one day.

This year, being a month later and a little darker in the morning, and as it turns out heavy rain 2 mornings in a row, and being not as motivated, I will compete but am not getting obsessed with the whole thing. Let someone else do all the work! And they made it harder, since apparently 175 miles in one week was just too easy. This year, they have two categories: low impact and high impact. The low impact only has to do 175 miles, reaching this goal by counting steps, which includes things like mopping, sweeping floors, pulling weeds, etc. That leaves me out right there, all that yard work and house cleaning! High impact of course includes biking, running, swimming, walking, etc. This too includes counting steps, but things like that are too technical for me. Me? I prefer to count miles. Much easier for me to use my bike odometer to see how far I've gone instead of trying to use the time biked to convert to "steps." Bah!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Every time I go away for the weekend, something happens?? I find out today from my son Aaron that my youngest son, Justin (who will be 20 in 9 days), had an "accident" on Friday afternoon. Both boys are older now and live with their dad, but still, a mother worries. In the case of these boys, its daily. Justin, like me it seems, is accident prone. This just adds to the long list of other injuries.

Today is Aaron's birthday, so we had planned to go to lunch. During lunch, I asked him whether they had worked this weekend. I always keep this question casual, in the event I don't like the answer. He had but Justin had only worked at one job, not both jobs he has. And why not? was my question. (I'm always making sure he isn't screwing up or something when he misses his Saturday job, since it is through my work and I want a clean record there you know!). Oh, he hurt himself and was bleeding too much to work, was Aaaron's response.

What??? Apparently, Justin and his friends were at their rope swing by the river (a not too clean environment, I can assure you!), and Justin took a tumble down the bank into the river. In doing so, he apparently got himself "all cut up."

Okay, I'm thinking, let's hurry up with this lunch so I can go check this kid out.

Which I did. What I saw did not comfort me. I insisted Justin get immediate medical attention. Despite his protests, I made him leave work, and we went to the Urgent Care center. They were out to lunch. "Maybe you should just make an appointment for tomorrow at your regular health care provider." Um, no. I think he should be seen NOW. So I spent my Sunday afternoon at the med center with an almost 20 year old kid. (Does it ever end??)

Suffice it to say, I'm glad we went in. He had several puncture wounds on his foot, some still open, he had another huge punture wound on his hamstring area, probably an inch long by 1/2 inch wide, still bleeding (should have been stitched, but after so many hours it can't be done), and other numerous scrapes and contusions. The wounds that bothered the health care worker (and me!) were the foot wounds and the leg wound. He ended up getting an antibiotic shot (to prevent MERSA--a serious and can be fatal infection) (replaces having an 8 hour antibiotic drip) and an oral antibiotic (to prevent staph and any other bacterial infection). And he needs to be seen again for followup, so somewhat serious. I suspect if "MOM" hadn't intervened, he would be in the hospital in a day or two. According to Justin, dad just said "you'll live." Mom, however, disagreed. Aren't moms always right??

Even though I didn't do the race, by the time we got home Saturday night I felt like I had! Getting up at 5:30 am, the heat, and walking on the beach as much as we did put a strain on my foot and left me worn out! I can probably blame part of that on having done a long bike ride Friday just before leaving (50 miles), then hopping in the car and driving over an hour, and then trying to track everyone down.

We did manage a quick swim when we got there. The water was fabulous! 77 degrees! You can't imagine what a treat that is for Lake Michigan, where the average summer temps are only in the 60s.

And the St. Joe/Benton Harbor area is a jewel of an area on Lake Michigan, with much of the shoreline either open and "wild" or privately owned, having lawns as big as a golf course almost. It truly is a beautiful area, and has become one of my favorites on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

A couple of comments about the race--it is a well run event and they did NOT enforce the mandatory 8 hour cutoff! I was surprised and disappointed about this, since this was one of the main things that kept me from competing. I figured with my less than up-to-par foot/ankle, there would be no way I could make that 8 hours. To my surprise, one of the guys in our group, who recently had knee surgery and walked the entire run portion, came in a few minutes after the 8 hour cutoff and they didn't make him get off the course! And I'm pretty sure there were others out there as well.

Reading through the race info, I was under the impression that they would basically tell you to get off the course at 8 hours. I was concerned about this, and now know needlessly so. After I rationalized it (fear and worry make us irrational it seems), I realized there would be no way anyone on the course could possibly know how much time you were out there due to the difference in wave starts, and in fact, the only ones that could know would be you and the chip timers! So while I was disappointed with this discovery, I was reassured as well for another possible event, and also returning to this event next year.

I will have more of a report and pictures later. I have a few things to sort out first!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Despite the injury, I am continuing to train and move forward. It just has been terribly busy at work. Just when I thought I was going to have a slow summer--and I even said so--things get turned upside down, and I find myself working on more cases than one person can sanely handle at one time. On any given day, I find myself on the phone with process servers in San Diego, Texas, three different places in Michigan, and Las Vegas of all places, tracking down a guy at a convention! While it is interesting, to say the least, it is tedious and time consuming.

As for the ankle, some strength is returning. I did have a fairly decent bike ride the other night, considering it was like riding through a furnace, with our high heat right now. I actually found myself with an average of 14.6 for a 17.40 mile bike ride! Woo hoo! Remember, before I got my new wheels I was only averaging 13.5 at the most, so even with the injury, this is a significant improvement. I am hoping to bring that speed up that in the next few weeks as I regain full power in my ankle and knee.

I also have been using the elliptical to replace the running. Not quite the same, but it has helped stabilize the ankle and helped with strengthening. Who knew?? I'm not sure how long I can hold out on this before total boredom sets in, but for now it is better than nothing. I more week of forced layoff and then I will resume running again. I am anxious to see how the ankle is doing so I can plan my next event.

I've also been doing some open water swimming. Monday night, with the temperature still in the mid-90s after work, we headed to the lake for a swim. The water was a very comfortable 80+ degrees, but sitting on the beach after the swim was relaxing and a great way to cool off. We met up with three other friends--Frank who did Lake Placid recently and who does not run anymore because of severe arthritis in his hip. He actually WALKED the whole run portion and finished in 16:15. Then there was Julie, a newcomer to the area and a pretty decent triathlete and so nice besides. She has been fun to get to know. And Bob, who will be doing IM Louisville. This guy is so strong it is scary! He just got back from RAGBRAI (bike ride across Iowa). Not only did he bike every day (I think he said a total of over 500 miles for the week), he also ran every day as well. Then he comes back here, swims 3 laps in the lake (that's almost 3 miles!) and then runs 5 laps around the lake (5 miles). Barely breaks a sweat. The guy is 50 yrs. old.

And then there is the IM Louisville trip. There are 3 athletes from here going to race, 5 others going to volunteer (me included). Yesterday, after realizing I was not going to be able to get off work to drive down with the others, I started looking at flights. Surprisingly, I found a cheap enough one and booked that immediately: leave early Saturday morning, come back late Monday morning. It saves me 15 hours of driving and all the stress and hassles associated with the drive as well, and it means only one day off from work, so it was worth the money. I'll be calling in sick as it is! Another thing that happened yesterday connected to this race is I got an e-mail from IronPol about the IM get togethers. I had almost forgotten about all the bloggers planning on being there! (Side note: the people from GR who are going are NOT bloggers or into blogging. They are just so not happening! LOL!) So in addition to him, there was a flurry of e-mails from others as well. I am hopeful I will be able to meet up with some of them. Its starting to sound like a big party, as all the IMs I have attended have been in the past. Something about this one though is starting to get more exciting. I guess it is the anticipation of meeting up with all the people I have been following over the past several months and hopefully putting faces with names.

Tomorrow, I head down to Benton Harbor to WATCH the Steelhead race. So far, Shelley will be there. Waiting to hear who else. Much as I regret not being able to do the race, I know I am making the right decision. Last night, I went to visit my sister who is staying at Lake Michigan, and of course we went to the beach to watch the sunset. Just as I suspected, one misstep on the beach and my ankle was sending me signals to get off the sand! I would not want to risk messing it up during the race and starting the rehab all over again. Sometimes it is just best to sit out a dance.

Hopefully I will have some pictures to share from the race and a spectator's report.

And on a sad note, the bridge collapse in Minneapolis--what a huge tragedy! Hopefully no one had any family member or friend involved in that. I am so glad my daughter is not living there any more!