Wednesday, January 30, 2008


That's what I heard on the weather on the way to work this morning. A blizzard was blowing in from northwestern Canada causing our "blizzard like" weather today. Bye bye global warming!

I also heard that northern Michigan is totally closed, more from whiteout conditions than anything else. Too bad they don't have gates across the highway like they have in Wyoming and Montana when the weather gets this bad. Also, over half our office staff is out today, so maybe it will be quiet around here??
I was glad I did my workout last night, anticipating it would be a slow go in the morning. I didn't sleep very well either, because the wind caused my motion lights to go on and off most of the night and it was still doing it this morning. A couple of times I got up to check to see why the light was on, then realized it was the wind and blowing snow. Most of the windows on one side of the house were so plastered with snow I couldn't see out anyway. When I looked out the front door, all I could see was blowing snow coming out of the west, blowing down the street, like a ghost or something whooshing past. And all the yards and street were now covered with drifting snow. Eerie.
Again, I was glad for the 4 wheel drive. There really wasn't that much snow out there; I have driven in much worse. And I have to say living in the city, where the speed limits are much lower and whiteouts less likely to happen except on the highways, makes it possible to get around at least in a limited capacity. Still, I rode behind 4 different people driving 4 wheel drive vehicles who were only going less than 10 mph. I'm telling you, it wasn't that bad!
On an up note, winter is almost half over! Or at least the snowy part. We don't really get rid of cold weather (and sometimes snow too) until well into April or even May, but just to have some sunshine would be a nice plus!
I continue to work on my 5k speed. I have found a couple of training programs that are supposed to help me build speed while building endurance. The workout I did last night was a 10 minute warmup, which I did just below my usual run speed on the treadmill, then you set the speed for your desired 5k mile pace for 3 minutes, then a slow easy jog for 3 minutes, and repeat for 3 sets, then 5 minutes again at your usual pace, then another set of the 3 fast, 3 slow x 3, and a 10 minute cooldown. Total time then is just over an hour. Its a good workout, and by the last 2 fast sets I was able to again get my pace down to 9:40. I know that's stretching it for me right now, but I do think it is do-able eventually.
I have also been reading many articles about base building. I'm planning a post on my summary soon. In the meantime, those of you in the cold Arctic snow belt, stay warm and safe! The rest of you? No complaining (but of course stay safe)!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saturday was the indoor tri event. I've done this now 3 years in a row and probably 7 times total.
Here's my report:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Taking a cue from Bolder in some of his posts, I thought this was appropriate for this report.
The Good: I did better than last year.
The Bad: I didn't place in my age group. In fact, let it be said here, I was last in the age group. Again.
The Ugly: Timing and/or lap counting mistakes.
I was in the 4th heat of the day with two other people I work with and one of their friends. Originally, we had a 6 person team, had shirts made, etc. One by one, the troops dropped out until there were only 3 of us. Granted, there were a few good reasons why the others dropped out, but Jan and I always shake our heads at the excuses given. The bottom line for the three who bailed was they didn't train. (Remember when I said the one woman said she hadn't trained because after all "its only 45 minutes." Okay, point taken. She didn't show.)
On the swim, we use a pool, obviously. I felt like I was putting in a good effort and felt fairly strong. My arms felt a little heavy the first few laps, but the water was pretty warm, so once I actually got going, they felt fine. This may be why I was a little shorter on laps than last year (1.25 less) or maybe it was wearing a new suit? I don't know if that makes any difference, but until those things get stretched out good (and I had worn it a few times before to accomplish that), it makes me wonder now if my reach is shortened somewhat. I had been swimming really well over the last month, but I did notice my last 2 swims (with the new suit) were a little slower. And I noticed that day that my stroke count was up by 1-2 on each length. Be it what it was, I still had the most laps in my heat. Except my lap counter was apparently too busy talking on his cell phone to keep track and he actually had me less than anyone else! Fortunately I keep track but also knew from what the others did that it was off by more than 2. I had to take that issue up before leaving the pool so really had to hustle to the bike, still with no resolution on the lap issue. And not enough time to put on socks. Or get my wits about me.
For the bike, we use road bikes on wind trainers. I was determined not to make the same mistake I made last year and figure out the gearing right away, but my bike was a Specialized, the same that I have, so I didn't think I would have a problem. But I was still a little flustered about the swim mixup, not being able to get my socks on, needing to fix the bike seat, etc. and I TOTALLY forgot how to shift the bike! There were a lot of gears on when I started, which I expected, but dummy here kept adding gears instead of taking them off until finally one of the volunteers came over and showed me how to use the gear levers. As if I didn't know! But I was thankful, and once again that mistake cost me precious time. This year they posted on a dry erase board the totals from each heat, and all I could focus on was the shortest distance, wondering if I could get past that! I remembered last year, and my somewhat lack of strength. I don't think I made even the lowest total last year. And the bike is not my strong point anyway, so not only was I having gearing issues, but I was not focusing 100% and found myself distracted by those things and not putting my energy into pedaling. And my shoulder was now acting up, so I would have to sit upright about every 2 minutes to relieve that discomfort. I would sit up until my speed started to drop and then go back aero. I had to do this the whole time. All in all though, I did over a mile more than last year.
The run is on an indoor wooden track on the third floor of the Y, above a basketball court. It is 19 laps to a mile. Here again, there was a timing issue, not just for me but for everyone in our heat. The first problem was, after getting off the bike, the same woman I spoke to about the lap issue decided that right then was a good time to discuss resolution of the matter. She said they did decide to give me one more lap (I was still being shorted by 1 and 3/4), but I didn't have time to argue. I just said I was still in dispute with that amount and hurried to the third floor track.
I no sooner get to the track and they are calling 30 seconds to start! Whoa I don't even know which side I need to start on (its a staggered start--3 on one end, 3 on the other). Since I was in the second lane of the swim and second bike, I figured I started with 1 and 3. No sooner had I hit the start line and we were off. I never did catch my breath. I didn't feel good the whole run, but at least my lap counter called out my laps (most of the time) so I knew were were in sync. The next timing issue we had was we didn't start on the proper minute, so I lost track of how much time we were running. They had 2 people calling out time increments (5 minute, 10 minutes, 2 minutes to go, etc.) Neither of them were in sync, however. One would say 5 minutes down and when I passed the next one (50 yards away) he would say half way done! When it got down to the last 5 minutes, again they were off. One said 5 minutes but then the other said "a few minutes to go." What does that mean?? And my shoulder was really hurting now, with the pain radiating down the back of the shoulder and into the front rotator cuff area. I knew it was from not only doing all 3 events together without any real base building, but also from working harder than I am used to in training. I really wanted that run to be done. I did do a few sprint laps, but then had to go to the bathroom so bad I was afraid I would wet my pants so had to slow a little on the next lap. So the fast laps probably got cancelled from the slow one. Anyway, I managed to do 2 laps more than last year and had I not been having a bathroom issue might have gotten 2 more.
Finally we were done. That hour seemed like 2 or more.
So here's my analysis of the whole event:
First, it really is about the bike. Looking over the race results, I saw that I beat 2 out of 6 on the swim, 1 on the run, and none on the bike. :( Close, but no cigars. Had I not messed up on the bike, I would have at least taken 5th out of 6th and would have come closer to the 4th place woman. I beat the woman ahead of me on the swim and the run, but she squeaked by me enough on the bike that she ended up placing ahead of me. (Totals are determined by total yardage.) And only by less than 200 yards.
Second, know your competitors. While I knew and expected at least 5 people in my age group, and knew I would not beat any of them, I didn't know 2 other women and didn't realize one was coming. As it turned out, one woman went to the next age group, and one woman took masters, so that left 6 others in my AG, the largest age group of women.
Third, have a goal. Planning your strategy in a race is something I learned a long time ago. It makes sense. If you want to win, you have to know what you have to do. I didn't do that. I should have looked over last year's results to not only check who the competition would be but also to see what the totals were I would need to surpass last year's totals, mine and anyone else who might be in competition with me. Going hand in hand with knowing your competitors is also knowing what they are capable of. So I failed to plan my strategy. I just got lucky doing better on the bike and run and that was only because of being stronger this year.
My training went well, but before my next event, I will be doing a little more homework.
UPDATE: I did finally check last year's results. I didn't do so bad this year after all! I actually did more swim laps than last year, even with the glitch, and my bike was almost 1.5 miles farther, and the run the same actually. But with the additional bike yardage, that put me at over 3,000 yards more than last year. I still couldn't have caught the age group winners, but I wasn't that far off from the others. Like I said, next time I will do my homework!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Don and I went to see this movie last night, a special one-night showing in many locations. We were fortunate enough to have a movie theater close by.
It was like being at a race, seeing so many people we have come to know over the years, runners and triathletes alike. It was different being on the relaxing side of an event for once.
This was a documentary about the lives of 6 "mortals" like us, and two elite runners, one being Deanna Kastor, who were training for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The underlying theme was "training for and crossing the finish line of a marathon will transform your life." Since Chicago was my first marathon, watching the training and sometimes struggles of these people as they trained brought back many memories, good and bad, of running that race, following along on the course, and seeing the magnificent city of Chicago, and all the emotions that go along with running a marathon.
Hopefully, all of you will get a chance to see it.
On a personal note, Don got his cast off today! Yipee! For me and him. His need of my assistance lessened over the last few weeks because he actually started driving last week and getting around without the crutches, but still needed a cane. He had big thoughts of hitting the gym first thing today, but the doc said no, wait a week at least, go to physical therapy and see what they want you to do, and "under no circumstances try to run, do too much walking, and absolutely no stretching on your own." So the fear has been instilled in him, and I know how sick he was of that cast, so I know he will comply.
Tomorrow is the much anticipated indoor triathlon. I have been training hard for this the last two weeks, so it was nice to have an easier week. Even though each event is only a 15 minute segment, those 45 minutes are as intense as a fast 5k or sprint tri. Last year I squeaked by and got a 3rd in the AG, mainly because first place overall and masters was in my AG. But this year, Jan has moved into the AG, so I'm pretty sure I'm going out to pasture until I move to another AG. The only hope for me is that one other woman in the AG last year has moved out. Its not that I expect to win anything; its more the fact that there probably are only 6 women in the AG, and I won't be able to beat the other 5, so I don't want to feel left out! LOL! Anyway, all I really hope for is to improve over last year. You take what you get. There are no guarantees how you will place or how I will do. The only guarantee is that I will do my best.
And its still snowing here, and to make matters worse, the temps are now staying in the single digits. But not for long apparently! They say by Monday it will be 40 degrees and raining! Go figure on that. Probably a January thaw--at the end of January no less.
Hope everyone has good weekends, good weather, and good workouts. I'll post a race report Saturday or Sunday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Its days like this that I am so glad I have the 4 wheel drive. Yes, its somewhat of a gas guzzler. And yes, its not cheap otherwise to drive. But after driving in worse weather than we have had this week for more than 20 years with cars having varying degrees of bad tires, no heat, running on its last legs, I have no guilt driving a car that makes me feel safe in this kind of weather finally.

Lots of schools closed today. We really didn't get that much snow, but in trying to get around, and the time it would take cleaning up parking lots and roads, it really was better for everyone not to have the added traffic.

I left early, but even that didn't make much difference. And what did I see on the snowy, slush covered roads, but a bicyclist, right down the busiest street around! Crazy or dedicated, I don't know which. You wouldn't catch me doing that!

And I have learned my lesson from Saturday's frozen run. I will stay in for this week at least. Temperatures today were actually quite "balmy" at 20 degrees, but the snow depth would make getting around quickly not a possibility. I actually didn't see any runners out this morning. They probably were all shoveling!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I tried to find some good in this run, and while I'm sure there was some, it was hard to find it while it was happening. I know not every run is good, but I'm sure most of them aren't for these reasons.

The temperature was around 1 degree, and I don't even want to know the windchill, but I was determined to get outside, bite the bullet, and run, despite the weather. And the weather was about as bad as it can get, for a run that is. Or at least for someone not conditioned to run in this kind of cold anymore.

My plan was to run 6 miles, or at least 1 hour. We had gotten another blast of winter overnight and everything was again covered with snow. By the time the sun came up, it was actually a very lovely day, what with all that bright new snow, some blue to the sky, and for a while at least the snow had stopped.

It was hard to know how bad the roads/sidewalks would really be, but, judging from what I was seeing from my windows, it wasn't going to be easy. But I started out with good intentions.

First block: OMG, it is SO cold. The face mask helped, but the cold quickly penetrated even the two layers of tights and gloves.

Second block: I'm not sure how long I can stand this. Tears were forming in my eyes from the stinging cold.

Third block: The Yak Trax were already clogging up with snow, forcing me to stamp my feet often. It was too early to hope for many people to be up on a Saturday morning just for the thrill of clearing their sidewalks.

Fourth block: Okay, finally getting in the street. I think the plows came through last night, I know I heard them. Did they have their blades down?? I barely noticed the speed bumps in the road because of the snow.

And on and on it went. I trudged ahead, into the wind at times with my head mostly down, like I was a charging bull. Then the snow started back up and it was blowing and swirling around me. The only people out were those braving the cold to go who knew where. I was pretty much the only one out running.

Until about 3 miles, when I finally saw another hardy soul out there. This guy was way too happy to be out running in this frigid stuff!

Believe me, I questioned my sanity many times in the course of this run. Why did I buy that treadmill if I was going to risk frostbite for this stuff??

By the time I finally hit the 5.2 mile loop around my entire neighborhood, any thought of doing 6 went out the window. Anything that was exposed was numb; even parts that weren't exposed were numb, and I was worried about frostbite. I had taken 1 hour to get only that far, and for that day, it was enough!

It was a major relief then today to "only" swim my mile!

Friday, January 18, 2008

That's what you get when you peel boiled eggs at 4:30 in the morning. Without your contacts in. Egg shells in your boiled eggs. Crunchy!
Today was spin class, and in keeping with triathlon training, that meant getting to the gym early enough for a short swim before class and then a 15 min. treadmill run after.
It was still so dark out, I had a hard time seeing if we had gotten any snow overnight. A quick check out the front door, where there are streetlights, told me we hadn't gotten anything. Anything much that is. Nothing on the sidewalks. Nothing on the roads. The only snow that seemed to accumulate was on the windshield of my car. I don't know how that happens!
This week I have concentrated on getting totally serious about the diet, weights, and brick workouts. Last week's two hard workouts pretty much left me wiped out for a couple of days, so I knew some drastic measures had to be in place for this week. Next week will mainly be tapering for the indoor tri, so I wanted to see how hard I could push myself and still recover. That involved the nutritional side and the physical side.
And this week did seem easier. Somewhat. During spinning, I did heart rate checks after each workout set and found my heart rate staying steady, even while putting forth a good effort. I remember last year, same workouts, and my heart rate would be 20 points higher. So my conditioning has improved finally. After the spin class, which was a good hard one, my legs felt just like they would feel coming off the bike in a sprint tri. So the first couple of minutes on the treadmill were just trying to get the legs moving and see how I felt. I decided it probably made more sense to do a steady effort than try an all-out sprint, except for the last 3 minutes. Holding a steady pace worked great, and by the last 3 minutes I was able to bump up the speed and finish with a 9:40 pace.
I know the real thing will leave me wanting to puke at the end, and I could easily duplicate that in training, but I figure its best to stay steady, keep my heart rate steady, and push at the end--and hopefully still not feeling like I wanted to puke. No sense in torturing myself every day!
I was talking to one of the young women doing the tri with us, and she said she has only been in the pool once and hasn't really been training. "After all, its just 45 minutes. How hard can that be?" I probably am obsessing or maybe overly dedicated to training, but I am amazed at these people who enter events with NO training. Yet, somehow, they always manage to pull it off. Me? I have to train specific for an event to feel confident. And then I still can't guarantee my outcome.
So right now, its all about getting ready for this event and increasing the load of the workouts. We'll see where and how this goes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It was still more than two hours before daylight, but when I got up and looked out the window and saw that a layer of snow had fallen, I noticed how illuminating the new snow was! Sometime overnight, we got a new layer of snow had fallen, coating everything. There was no moon, but still it looked bright out with the new snow.

Our recent warm trend had melted all the ice and snow buildup off the sidewalks and streets, and what was there now was just like a blanket covering everything.

I am in the process of purchasing a new treadmill, but until I actually get it delivered, its either go to the gym or run outside. Today would be an outside run. It looked so inviting in fact. If I have to live in a snow state, this is the kind of day that makes it all tolerable.

The temperature was moderate, in the 20s, but with no wind. So I layered up--two pair of tights, two shirts, two pair of gloves, and headed out with my Yak Trax and my purple and green "Barney" coat.

Its always fun to make the first steps in fresh snow, but alas, a nocturnal creature beat me to that in the driveway. And there were also footsteps already on the sidewalk. When I lived out in the country, I only had to compete with four-footed, nocturnal creatures for an early morning run. In the city, you still have to get out there pretty early to be first.

Just as I was thinking this, I sensed someone behind me, and sure enough another runner--at least that's what he looked like--was coming up behind me. He went way around me on the grass and looked like he was carrying a bag of dog poo! I don't know why he was carrying a small bag all tied up like that--he had no dog with him. Strange things you see in the morning.

I ran down the street where people were out now shoveling in front of their church, right next to a school which was a voting location for the dog and pony show of a primary taking place today and that we in Michigan are so happy to be paying for, in addition to our new taxes since the first of the year. The polls weren't open yet, but the workers were there setting up. I crossed over the street then and went down a small private drive to get back to the main street. No footsteps here!

Further down, though, more tracks in the snow. One thing I like about just an inch or two of newly fallen snow is that it makes a nicely cushioned running surface, before it gets beaten down and icy.

I felt like I did not want to stop. It was very quiet and relaxing, like being in a snow globe, with just a few flakes drifting down. At one point, I saw where rabbit, cat, and human tracks criss-crossed each other, busy little creatures that they are!

But it was time to circle back and head up the hill and back home. The snow was caking up on my Yak Trax now, making it feel like I had stiletto heels on when I stamped it off. Once home, all the magic would be gone with the newly fallen snow, since I would then have to clear the walk and some of the driveway.

I still don't like winter.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


The last 3 weeks at work have been extremely busy. One of my bosses actually was retiring at the first of the year, explaining some of the extra work, plus year-end wrap-up of work, etc. But for some reason, he has also been around more in the last 3 weeks than he has been around in the last 3 months, so go figure.

Anyway, I've gotten a little behind blogging and reading blogs. I do as much as I can get away with every day though! :)

Friday, it worked out perfectly to do a spinning class, rather than outside run, since overnight we had again been hit with another wintry mix of rain, sleet, and snow. But with my indoor tri coming up in two weeks, I also had planned to start this week doing at least a 15 minute run after both spinning classes. Monday, I was too tired. So Friday I had to be determined to hop off the bike and get on the treadmill immediately after.

The spin class was one of the hardest I have done in a year. I am finally able to put some real effort into the classes, putting more resistance on than I was able to last year, and still keep up a fairly decent cadence. Last year, no matter how hard I tried, I found it nearly impossible to get better than a 75 cadence. I think I am closer to 85 now, so there is a noticeable improvement. Anyway, it was a good workout, with long seated and standing climbs. Immediately after, I hit the treadmill. The plan was to do 15 minutes as fast as possible.

I still hold back some on speed, so I only started at a pace slightly faster than my usual, but after realizing my legs felt okay and my breathing was pretty much under control, I bumped the speed up every 3 minutes. After 15 minutes, I felt I had put in a decent effort, where I was out of breath but not totally done in. It was just the right amount, considering I still had to go to work for the day.

I've also been collaborating with one of the attorneys in the office who is somewhat involved in marketing and events. She asked if I had done a local triathlon event that her husband did. I said I did and she was impressed with that. ! Anyway, I also mentioned a bunch of us were doing the indoor tri and how nice it would be to get some firm team shirts. She jumped on that idea immediately and surprisingly for the bunch of fact finders I work with who are excruciatingly slow in making decisions, came up with an okay to get shirts.

I asked that I then be in charge of the fabric, style, and logo on the shirts. Good thing too, because what someone who doesn't know came up with would not have cut it. Anyway, this is leading down a whole new path. I'm not sure exactly where it will go, but I am hoping it gives me a chance to use my experience as a runner and triathlete to mentor some others in their training.

I always said I made a better coach than athlete.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


...and we shall have snow. From the rhyme when I was a kid. Anyone remember it? I don't even know why we had to memorize it. Or maybe we didn't. I read so much and memorized so much, I might have just learned it on my own.

And windy it was today, from the west and the north, meaning we will inevitably be getting more snow.

Today was still a dry day, however, and really not that cold, other than the blast of wind when I first started out. Again, it was decidedly not a treadmill day. And after I had found some new good workouts too! Not disappointed there though.

And as long as the streets and sidewalks stay ice free, I don't mind running outside, even in the dark morning.

I forgot to add yesterday other reasons I hadn't been running in the mornings as frequently, either inside or outside, were because my home treadmill died most inconveniently just after Don did the Achilles thing, and the because of ice on the streets. Being forced inside on the treadmill then meant running more frequently in the evenings. Despite having access to a gym and treadmills whenever I want, I still want one at home. I have had one for at least 15 years now, and I fixed the one I have last year. But the manufacturer no longer makes parts for this model, so now I am stuck with a dinosaur. Maybe a little idealistically, within the next year I would like to have my own home gym, so looking at treadmills isn't out of the picture right now.

I did one of my old running routes, but can't really remember the distance. I figure around 3 miles, maybe a little more. Regardless, it felt great cruising along again in the dark, windy morning.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


With the new year and Don now being in a cast where he can manage more by himself, it was time to get back to my usual morning workout routine.

I had been a little slack over the month of December in working out in the morning. I had been working out, but more after work. My preference has always been morning routines, but with my morning routine at home changed for a while, it made more sense to just lay back, not worry about it, and wait for time to pass.

It was a somewhat different routine, but not one that was unpleasant, and during the busy holiday season, Don's' hospitalization, and everything else surrounding that, it really made life easier to get up and get dressed at home, fixing him breakfast and helping him get started in the morning. And it was certainly easier going to work without having to haul work clothes and a gym bag in every morning, while trying to balance a purse and coffee cup.

But I still knew all that would be over soon enough. This week was the beginning of the back to morning workout routine.
Today was easy enough too because it has been warm and no snow. Storms last night swirled around us, but nothing but some rain and a little thunder and lightning came our way for a change.

And I have been working on my swimming again. With the indoor triathlon coming up at the end of the month, I know I will have to work hard to show up some of those young gals! And I found out, my friend Jan is starting masters swimming classes this week. Sneaky, sneaky on her part! I have always swam on a fairly regular basis, but started last week adding longer workouts and speed interval drills to bet back to a better form and time.

Today's workout was 2200 yards, 52:41. The main thing with swimming longer distances is to keep focused throughout the workout to not lose track and not get bored. Every 5 laps, I would change my breathing pattern. This helped me keep track and added in harder lap intervals. By the last 10 laps, I did a few speed drills to again keep me focused and from quitting early. Up to the last 10 laps, I did not push myself at all, but did concentrate on keeping my form and staying relaxed. I know I have done faster in the past, but this is just for base building and seeing where I'm at.
So its back to routine.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again...

Fifty degrees. January 6. Remarkable. Today was NOT going to be a treadmill day.

I waited until daylight, got dressed, put on the Yak Trax, and out the door I went. Too good to be true.

It was misting the whole time, but I stayed out for over an hour. It felt great. The temperature was perfect. I even got warm after awhile.

For the most part, the sidewalks were clear. The streets were not. So the only time I slowed for a walk was while crossing the streets.

I live in the City of Grand Rapids. Apparently, they do not feel it necessary to plow or salt any side street, which has been a pet peeve of mine since moving back here.

When I lived out in the country, we either had snow packed roads or they scraped down to the pavement. I don't remember ever falling.

Living in the city, I have fallen more times than I can count and have sprained my ankle twice on icy streets--always the same one, of course. I do realize that I am at my own risk, but still...

But I can't tell you how great it felt to get out in the fresh air. No sunshine. Only gray and drizzle but still an improvement from the gym and the stale air.

And I am always amazed at how much energy I have after these runs. I was able to come home and finish taking down all the Christmas decorations (yeah, I know, I am slow), vacuum, clean out the storage closet, go to my daughter's and do wash (washer will be here soon I hope), drive Don to his mom's, take the grandkids bowling, and still clean up around the house, taking out trash, recyclables, etc. I felt like it was a productive day.

I am hoping tomorrow I will be able to get out for a short run in the dark morning since the roads will be totally clear and then a spin class tomorrow night,

I wish every weekend were this good!

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Yesterday, Don got his first cast removed and the second put on. The first cast had kept his foot at an angle with the toes pointed downward, not allowing him to use it for anything, not even balance; the second has his foot in more of a walking angle. So at least some progress is being made. Its been 6 weeks--hard to imagine how fast that time has gone!

With the new cast, he also got a walking boot, and was told to "put as much weight on it as you can manage." I'm sure you know how this will go.

This morning, while getting ready to go out to breakfast, I commented that it was raining, and we both knew a warmup was coming for the next few days.

"If the sidewalks clear, I can walk up and down the street for exercise," he said. "I highly doubt the sidewalks will clear, but maybe we could find somewhere else clear so you could walk," I offered.

We went to breakfast at a very delightful little place, The Omelette Shoppe, which also was attached to a local mall. This mall is small, and very upscale, so there wasn't much foot traffic. After breakfast, Don wanted to show me the fish ponds within the mall, and this got me thinking for him: "Why don't you do a few 'laps' around the mall to walk??"

So the Ironman became a mall walker today. After a few laps, however, he said he was sweating. "That's good! You're getting a workout." I, however, was walking at a snail's pace it seemed.

He still needs the crutches, but is finally limping around the house, meaning he can get things for himself now. Three more weeks with this cast and then its off!

Looking forward to the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


That's one of the gifts I got for Christmas. Ironically, all the years I have been running or doing tris, do I get anything related to either from my family? Noooo. But I usually do get something along those lines from people I work with. This year was no exception.

One of the gifts was a "Gift of Fitness" which included three 5k race entries for 2008, a nice long sleeved T shirt, a discount coupon for one of two other 2008 races, and a 15% off coupon for shoes at the particular running store, Gazelle Sports.

I used my $5 off coupon for yesterday's race. But it got me thinking about goals for 2008.

Originally, I had all these grandiose ideas of things I wanted to do for 2008, but its looking like my first 2 months of the year will be altered due to Don's injury. Much as I wanted to do either the Missippi Blues half marathon or the Phoenix Rock N'Roll half, traveling right now is out of the question. Possibly in February, so Austin still is a possibility.

But with these three 5k race entries, it got me thinking more and more to trying to not just get by in my races this year but to actually attempt to be competitive again. Yesterday's race was a beginning, but looking back only 2 years, I see how far I have slipped in my competitiveness. I have SO much work to do if I really want to get my 5k times down. I don't expect to come close to anything I did even 5 years ago, but I thinkI can manage going back 2 or 3 years--with a LOT of work.

And I have to admit, I really prefer the shorter, faster distances, mainly because of the good feelings I have after. The longer, slower distances seem more suited for me because I really can go for a long time without running out of steam. But they do not satisfy my desire of accomplishment. Does this make sense??

So right now, I am re-evaluating my plans for 2008. I don't know where this will be going, but I do know I will be doing something!

On a running note, I ended 2007 the same way I started: Running the local, 4 mile "Resolution Run." Traditionally, this race is run at 8 am on January 1, unless the first falls on a Sunday, then it is held on Dec. 31.

This was a non-traditional year and not a Sunday, but the race organizers decided, after a popular vote, to hold the race in the afternoon on New Year's Eve.

In January, I anticipated this race as my first comeback race after my accident. I managed to train 3 of the 4 miles and pretty much gutted out the final mile, and thought I would puke at the end. And I was pretty much done in for the day. I remember the weather as being just cold but no big snow or ice buildup on the roads, making it easy footing.

Yesterday, it was pretty much the same, but just maybe a little warmer. A winter storm advisory was looming for the evening hours, so I was glad to not have to deal with slip sliding in the morning.

I checked my time from January and was suprised it was faster than I thought. Fast of course being relevant. My time was 46:36, an 11:43 pace. I thought how ironic since at my last "official" race, the Grand Rapids Half Marathon, my pace had been 11:43. Haven't I progressed any in a year I wondered?

So my goal yesterday was to beat January's time. That's all. No heroics. Try not to walk. I have progressed in that department, not walking for at least 8 miles, like I did for the Virtual Race. I should be able to make it the whole 4. But I haven't been running outside much, and in fact hadn't run in 3 days, my longest streak in months. For the first time in a long time, I actually found myself too busy these last few days, and too tired out from working 10 hour days this past week. I decided to save my effort for the race.

And surprisingly, even not having run in 3 days, I didn't suddenly balloon up 15 pounds, or turn into a total slug, something I always fear about taking days off.

I arrived at the race wearing my running vest, but then decided it wasn't warm enough for that. I found I was wrong by the half mile point. I felt overheated so had to unzip my jacket. I felt claustrophobic wearing 2 pair of gloves, but didn't want to hassle with taking them off and carrying them. And for some reason, my shoulder ached--a lot. Could it be that incessant shoveling I've had to do??

And my ankle that I sprained in the summer has been acting up lately, and today was no exception. Its more like a cramp in the ankle, but it makes me land differently, which is probably why my knee has been bothering me some. Everything is connected, you find that out during races.

My speed has been coming along, but I'm still a LONG way off anything remotely close to what I've done in the past. Still, I was surprised by 1 mile that I was under 11 minutes! This wasn't a chip start either, so I had felt compelled at the gun start to get into a pace right away. Other than feeling too warm, my breathing was hard but still manageable.

And this year we were running the course the opposite direction, which they alternate every other year, again going against the traditional hard core route, with the last mile mainly uphill. Despite the change in directions, I am still always surprised to see how hilly the course is the opposite way as well. The only advantage is at 1.5 miles, there is a nice long downhill before another steady climb. I relaxed into this downhill and saved a little for that longer uphill I knew was coming.

And here again was progress, as this was almost the same route as my triathlon on this course, where I could not run up any hills, and that was the beginning of September. Today, no walking. While others stopped to catch their breath on the long upgrade, I was able to actually pass people. Again, my pace is all relevant. I am not talking about being blazing fast. But my legs did start feeling better by about 2.5 miles. I felt like I could put a little more effort into it, if nothing more than just keeping going. It was here too where I passed the two young women I work with. I had been worried about them beating me since the start, since I never saw them, and being a gun start, I figured they had pushed to the front, something I failed to do. But there they were, struggling it seemed, and then they walked. I was passing here for sure!

And then there are the usuals who run hard for a block or two, walk, then run hard again, and yet sometimes I still cannot catch these people. Today, after a few back and forths with two other women, I finally managed to push past them and they never caught me again. In fact, after 2 miles, only one guy passed me, so I was happy about that too.

At 3 miles, there was a runner down, and then an ambulance came. I'm not sure what happened and have not seen any stories in the news or otherwise. Hopefully he survived.

Right after the 3 mile mark, there is another steep but short uphill, and here again I was able to pass a few people. A check of my watch showed I was keeping pretty steady at 11 min. miles. If I can keep it up, I thought, I should be able to finish under 45 minutes.

The last mile then, I found myself picking people off. One after the other, I just moved forward relentlessly. I wanted to keep my breathing manageable, but I also wanted to get done! On the last turn before the home stretch, there was a woman who had passed me before 1 mile. Could I catch her? Before I even had the chance, I found myself coming up behind a younger woman. And then I passed her. But then she came up beside me and tried to pass me, but I pulled ahead, and in doing so also passed the woman in the Michigan State sweatshirt. I could hear the chips chirping as people crossed the finish line, so I pushed as hard as I could here and dropped both women and passed a few others as well. Thank God I was done! And I didn't feel like I would puke either! More progress.

I removed my chip and then walked back to the finish to see the two work colleagues finish. I was happy I beat them!

I was feeling great about my accomplishment until I ran into a group of women I knew, none of whom were in my age group, but they were all talking about their times: Pat, in the 55-59 age group, ran 31 something; Tamara in the 45-49 age group, ran 36 something; and Carla in the 55-59 age group, ran 35 something. I felt a little deflated, remembering that in better days I too had run those kind of times.

But I came away from the race knowing I put as much as I could into it on that day, and had beat my time from January, both of which were more important to me. And I wasn't done in for the rest of the day either!

Hope you all have a successful 2008!