Thursday, February 21, 2008


I always have such a hard time getting ready for any trip, whether for a weekend or a week. It seems you have to bring just about as much stuff anyway!

What makes it hard is going from the extreme cold weather we are experiencing to tropical weather. I find it very hard to not want to pack sweaters and coats! But I'm restraining myself! No winter coats!

For the last week, I have had the spare bedroom covered with "possibilities"--things I might possibly want to take. I have changed things around almost every day, taking this out, putting that in, folding and unfolding, trying to condense things down to a manageable weight! I could easily take two trunks of stuff--not that I am likely to need it all, but "just in case."

On the other hand, Don will probably wait until Friday night to pack, but then he'll spread his stuff out all over the house and still probably forget something important, like his camera charger like last time.

And can you believe this?? We got a phone message TODAY from the cruiseline saying they were overbooked and would we consider changing our cruise--to the end of March! I DON'T THINK SO! We are both so ready to go that even with their pretty hefty incentives, neither of us could be swayed.

So tonight starts the countdown--all the last minute shopping needs and then a whirlwind of packing so things are ready Friday night when I go to bed. Our flight is so early Saturday morning I would have to stay up all night if I didn't get this done ahead of time. And I like to be organized and prepared!

Two more days!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


for potholes, that is.

We in Michigan have a bonus season that others probably don't get the thrill of experiencing: pothole season. (Actually, I forgot--we in Michigan have SIX seasons, including construction, making pothole season No. 6.)

If you think I'm kidding, let me assure you that Michigan is notorious for bad roads, and with our cold/warm/cold/warm winters, its no wonder. Not only do we have all the fun of driving on snow and ice, but we get the added excitement of getting around town without wrecking your car on a daily basis.

For as long as I can remember, one main road by my house has been so bad its like driving through a mine field trying to dodge the inevitable potholes that cover the entire two-mile stretch. This year, though, seems to be the worst in a long time.

I remember when my oldest boy was about 4 and we were driving through that stretch of town. He decided he wasn't going to sit down and put his seatbelt on. I warned him about what could happen if he didn't sit and put his seatbelt on--that he might fly through the windshield if we were in an accident, etc. He wasn't phased with even the threat of death. Until I hit a pothole and guess what? He flew over the front seat and hit the dash. The road was that bad, but he was only hurt enough to learn his lesson. :)

To get back to recent times, though, it is so bad that all the tire places in town are swamped with repairs. We even have a website to report potholes, which pretty much is useless since there are so many it is impossible to keep up with the demand of fixing them. And the weather doesn't help either. Even our recent 5 inches of new snow overnight doesn't fill in most of them. Hitting a speed bump at 50 mph doesn't compare with hitting some of these potholes (trust me, I've done it!).

In the meantime, I continue to go out of my way to and from work or to and from anywhere to home just to avoid this mess. Oh, I am so ready to go on a vacation!

Monday, February 18, 2008

WEEKEND UPDATE--Indoor Tri, 2-17-08.

Another one done. This event is more relaxed than the indoor tri in January. The format is somewhat different, and after the initial first tri of the year, the second one goes easier because you know where you have to improve on your training.

(Here we are at the beginning of the swim, and no, I hadn't been drinking before!)

Jan and I did this last year as well, and this is Jan's third year doing it. The location is about 40 miles south of Grand Rapids, which was lucky yesterday, due to more weather "issues." The forecast for days had called for another winter storm to move in Saturday night/Sunday morning, but by Saturday, they were calling for freezing rain instead! Either way, it was going to be a harrowing drive.

Naturally, because of this, I woke up every hour on the hour Saturday night/Sunday morning worrying about the weather. Not so much the weather, but Jan's driving in the weather. LOL! I'm not claiming to be the best driver in the world, and anyone who knows me knows I hate driving in bad weather, but I hate riding with someone else even more, especially when that someone tailgates going 75-80 mph! However, she insisted on driving, because she felt that her car, a Jeep, would do better in bad weather. Whatever! I think it is more of a control thing actually. LOL!

So I was very relieved when it was finally time to get up and I found out the freezing rain was north of town, but south of town it was only raining. But it was pouring! By the time I left the house to meet up with Jan, there were many intersections and sections of the highway flooded over, mainly because with all the recent snows drainage was a problem. The ride to the tri then was mainly dodging flooded out lanes of the highway and trying not to get in a situation where we would hydroplane. There were several cars that had spun off into the median, and I was hoping we wouldn't become one of them.

We made it about a half hour from our starting time. The facility was a health and fitness center connected with a hospital in the area. It is a very nice facility, with a 6 lane pool, warm pool for those not wanting to do laps, and an area sectioned off for handicap access. There was already a heat in progress when we arrived, some of the big guns in local triathlon. They probably had to go out and run another 10 miles after or something!

The format for this tri is swim 20 minutes, bike 20 minutes, run on a treadmill for 20 minutes. Its one time I am glad I spend so much time on the treadmill. We had 2 other women besides Jan and me in our group, and at the last minute an older guy got thrown into the mix. It was hard to judge the ages of the other women, but I figured they probably were in our age group, since they have 10 year age groups.

I seem to do better in all events with just that added 5 minutes. The swim started out well, even with the distraction of the older guy floundering in the lane next to me. He couldn't swim at all, but nothing in the event information says you have to do any particular stroke. He and the two other women side stroked, back stroked, dog paddled, etc. Twenty minutes is a long time for a lot of people to be in the water, especially when they aren't swimmers. Somewhere around the 9 or 10 minute mark, I started getting that nauseaus feeling I had for a few months last summer. I don't know what causes it, and hope it isn't motion related, but it finally went away in the final minutes. I had really hoped to do 40 laps, but ended up with 38 1/2, and felt I did okay. That was still over 1/2 mile, and I was hoping to do at least that.

The bike portion is on Life Cycles, which for the most part are okay. Its always a trial and error on any bike until you get your rhythm down anyway, so I probably could have pushed it harder, but the level I was at (10 out of 20) put me at around 18.1-19.1 mph and 82-85 cadence, so I knew I was putting in a good effort. I ended up with 6.02 miles and again was hoping to get at least 6.

The run was on nice treadmills, overlooking the pool. We could see the last heat in the water, so it was nice to have something to look at instead of just watching the seconds ticking away. They walked us through the start-up process and then we could start anytime we were ready. Very laid back. I immediately started at a 10 min. mile. I decided not to play around with the speed in the beginning minutes like I did in training, and figured I would hang on as long as I could before bumping up the speed further. This actually proved to be a challenging but do-able pace, and I continued on with this until the last 5 minutes, where I then went up in speed for the next 3 minutes before going to a 9:13 pace in the final 2 minutes. There was a few minutes of distraction from the older guy again, when he hit his stop button and his treadmill completely stopped. Someone finally got him started up again, giving him 10 additional minutes, but it was a little aggravating having someone standing practically on top of me while they got him up and running again, and I had to laugh when he said he was "way over a mile" at 10 minutes. I highly doubt it! He wasn't running fast enough to be over a mile in 10 minutes, but if that was his fantasy, who was I to burst his bubble? LOL! I ended up with a little over 2 miles in 20 minutes, and I was hoping for 2.

After the event, they offered free massages. That made the $40 entry fee well worthwhile! They were only supposed to be 10 minute massages, but I think mine was actually 20 minutes. The massage therapist guy was very thorough in stretches, and worked extra long on my neck and shoulder, releasing a muscle that had tightened up preventing me from turning my neck freely (a lingering side effect of the accident).

We then showered and went to check out results. They weren't complete yet, but we did see most of the women's results and out of 10 women in the AG, Jan was 4th and I was 5th. I was happy enough with that.

And the weather had actually cleared up quite a bit for our ride home, so I could finally relax.

Friday, February 15, 2008


on my cruise. A bad sunburn. So I had started going to the tanning salon. I have only been one other time before and was not looking forward to needing to do this, but my fair skin does not handle intense sun very well, and being a snowbird on top of that added up to a potential problem.

So I've gone 6 times over 2 weeks, as recommended, increasing the tanning time over the course of the 6 visits. I'm using one of those stand-up booths where you are in and out in 7 minutes or less. That appealed to me! The first visit, I spent 3 minutes in there and was mildly pink, but it went away after a day. The next few I stayed at 3 minutes and then went to 5 for the fifth and sixth visits, and was developing a nice tan, nothing dark, just a nice contrast from my usual snow white skin. Last night was number 7, out of 10. I decided to be bold and went for 6 minutes. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until sometime in the night I woke up, uncomfortable, but didn't know why. I woke up it seemed every hour all night long, but didn't think much of my discomfort until I got up and looked in the mirror!

OMG! I was beet red from my hairline to my waiste. Even my eyelids were sweating, and my eyes looked puffy. How could adding just 1 minute make that much of a difference?? And to top it off, I have lines where those little eye protectors are, so I've got that racoon look, and it is quite obvious I went tanning, or in my case, frying.

I have 3 more visits left. I'm a little worried now about getting burned again. Yikes! I guess I need to go back down to 5 or less minutes for the next 3 visits. Hopefully, this will avoid any burning on the cruise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Here are just a few pics from our most recent snow. The car actually is AFTER it has had the snow cleaned off.

So, just to put it in perspective, this is what we look at and are dealing with. Every day. And its snowing again! And the temperature today is a balmy -18 windchill.

While it isn't the worst winter we've had, it seems like it has been one of the longest.

And yet, there is beauty all around us, when you least expect it possibly. These flowers are on a plant I have had for 14 years. Every year, it blooms and then dies off and comes back again. Just like winter. Just like springtime.

And in 10 days, I'll be going from this:

To this:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

-25 WINDCHILL WREAKS HAVOC ON THE ROADS. (Pic from a skycam in GR).

That's the headlines today. Glad I had an inside workout planned! Forty minutes on the bike trainer.

But I couldn't help but wonder how many of my runner/tri friends would be out in this stuff.

Years ago, I was crazy too and found out exactly how -25 felt.

A group of us traveled to a favorite winter race, a 5k and 10k. It was amazingly crazy, I know. At least I only chose the 5k.

What did I wear? About 4 layers of clothes, including a gortex jacket and pants over tights and long johns, face mask, hood, scarf around my face, two pair of mittens, and sun glasses--so my eyes wouldn't freeze shut! Also to block the glare of the bright white snow.

It was so cold, and my breathing caused so much steam on my glasses, that they literally froze over and I couldn't see a thing! I barely remember the course, since I could only see about one inch out of the glasses. I had to keep lifting them slightly and looking down so I could see my footing.

Coming into the finish chute, I picked up the pace the best I could, waddling like the Michelin Man with all my clothes on. The problem was, as people finished, the friction from their shoes caused the ice/snow on the street to melt, and the cold caused it to immediately refreeze. So as I'm coming into the finish line, I try to stop and slid on into the volunteers timing the race! I think I took out two guys and was caught by someone. What was more amazing was my finish time: 25:42.

I would gladly run in -25 degrees again if I could achieve that time again! Ah winter! It will be over soon, right??

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I got it done. That's about all I can say. It wasn't pretty.

Time: 1:43:08. I think the pace was around 11:19.

Race Report: This won't be particularly exciting. I'm too tired to really think that much to make it amusing either. LOL!

I started out okay, trying to keep my pace even, yet realizing I have actually been running a little faster--and shorter--distances lately, so it was hard to get down to the pace I did the 8 on the 8th run. I also have been reading articles about not running every run at a plodding pace, so to mix it up a little I started out at 11:19 pace and every 10 minutes I threw in two minutes of surges at a 10:54 pace. Both still slow paces, but it was going to be my longest run in over a month and I just wanted to get through it. This actually went okay too, even though I was really getting tired by the time I reached 4.6 miles, but then the treadmill just decided to shut itself off. And it didn't give me the cool down 5 minutes some treadmills do, it just shut completely off. I think I wore it out. Oh great.

Fortunately no one else was at the gym, so I could freely move to another mill. This one, though, I knew would shut down at 30 minutes, but still give me another 5 minutes in cooldown, which I usually just bump the pace back up to keep the same pace instead. So I finished the next 35 minutes with the slow and then slower yet paces, but by the time I got to 7.5 miles, and the cool down was coming, I had mentally had enough. My toes were really hurting a lot, feeling numb and tingling actually, and since I have been plagued with this problem before, I knew it was best not to push it too much more. I have been doing too much treadmill running, which always leads to this problem.

So for the next 1.5 miles, I went to the elliptical. My pace on the elliptical is right about the same pace as my average run pace, but I did throw more surges in, mainly just to get done!

After that, my legs actually still felt pretty good, so I decided to trash them more by getting on the stationary bike and riding another 5.5 miles. Then I thought it might be a good idea to get in the pool, and did a half mile swim there, a reverse triathlon, for a total workout time of 2 hours 30 minutes. The pool actually felt really great by the time I got in. I did a leisurely 1/2 mile swim and still finished under 21 minutes. I think getting on the bike after the running helped too, because like I said, my legs actually don't feel too bad, just my toes.

Other than feeling like I'm in total slow motion today, I feel pretty good. Can't wait to hear how others have done today!

Friday, February 08, 2008


For me, that is going to be a big job and a lot of work. Good news on the bike fiasco though. When I got home last night, my bike was all set up on the trainer, chain fixed, and all. Like I said, it was a puzzle how I managed to mess up the chain the way I did, but after Don thought about it some, he figured out what happened and was able to reverse the "damage." So, I was ready to roll.

One thing that really got me going on the bike trainer idea was the idea that just popped into my head that maybe that was the answer to my weak biking skills. Then I looked around the 'net for some information about bike trainer workouts, but what I found that seemed more valuable was an article, from Triathlete Magazine, 1998, entitled "What is the Key to Killer Ironman Bike Splits?" by Tim Carlson. I don't know who Tim Carlson is, but the info seemed like just what I was looking for.

Not that I plan to have any "killer Ironman bike splits" any time soon. But what the article pointed out was even the great triathletes, Peter Reid, Lori Bowden, Heather Fuhr, Paula Newby-Fraser, to name a few, all have improved their biking skills by indoor trainer workouts. While none of them were particularly thrilled with the idea of resorting to trainer workouts, even after moving to climates conducive to year-round training, all could see the benefits of, and firmly believed, that trainer workouts were what put them over the edge of their competition.

The thing that really stuck in my mind about the article was something Peter Reid said: "I get the same intensity out of a 90-minute workout on the trainer that I do from three or four hours on the road." Now that really appealed to me. I'm all for saving time on workouts without cutting corners, of course. The other, and main thing for me, was the safety factor. If I can get a quality workout in the safety of my own home, you can bet I'll be doing that.

I know last year being paranoid with riding on the road really limited me in improving on the bike. I can't really say that any of my workouts were quality, but they sure were about quantity, with no real noticeable improvements. And no way was I competitive any more. I realize now I simply cannot expect to improve if my workouts don't offer me more quality.

So naturally what I always do is try to find ways to improve on my workouts, which would result in better performance, that also fit in with my abilities and time to train. This seems like it might be the best thing I can come up with for now. Makes me wonder why it took me so long to figure this out!

Today I did a 35 minute trainer ride, mostly to test out the resistance, how much I could handle, and cadence, which I need a lot of work with. I gave up a 45 min. spin class to stay home and fiddle with the bike, but I think in the long run it will help me more.

I'm hoping this in turn helps improve my running and swimming again too.

Tomorrow's agenda is "9 on the 9th." Hopefully I can pull that off. If not the full 9 running, I will now be able to finish up on the bike.

And good luck to all those participating, and to Suzanne and Cindy on their marathons this weekend!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Since the daily routine is snow, snow, and more snow, I've had lots of time to think about different ways to keep the indoor workouts interesting. I have also come to a stunning conclusion that if God had intended us to live in these climates, the Garden of Eden would have been at the North Pole. After all, bears hibernate, don't they??
So I had this brainstorm the other day about getting my bike trainer out, now that my friend Jan has finally returned it to me after all these years. Maybe part of it was getting on the bike at the indoor tri, where we rode on trainers, and where I could see just how badly I needed to improve my bike skills and ability if I really wanted to improve on the bike this year.
My bike, however, has been out in the garage since the last race I did in September (Autumn Colors triathlon at Holly State Park. Remember that Shelley????) ! I haven't been on it since. I had no tris scheduled after that, and vowed to concentrate on my running for the month of October. And living in the dark north, biking from November until April is almost non-existent, for me that is. (I do see hearty-and crazy-souls out every day, no matter the weather.)
Yesterday, as is the norm lately, we had another major snow storm to come through the area, bad enough that they actually let us go home from work early. That gave me another great idea: since it was still light out and Don had just finished snowblowing a path from the garage to the house, why not bring my bike in and set it up for the night and get this party started??
While it was a great idea at the time, things did not go well, another example of my shortcomings with the bike. First, I couldn't quite remember how to set the trainer up. It has been about 3 years since I've used it! I got the bike set up, but realized things weren't right, even though I was pedalling along at an amazing 17 mph. But I realized that I was missing a piece of it, actually the resistance piece, so got back off the bike, took the bike off the trainer, and put that part on. Then, as luck would have it, the bike would not go back on the trainer! I fiddled with it, adjusted it, twisted it, pried it, nothing worked. So I then had the not-so-great idea of trying to adjust the quick release lever, thinking that was part of the problem. Then the back wheel falls off. Dang! I absolutely hate messing with the back wheel! I couldn't get it on right away, so tipped the bike upside down, on the seat, and got the wheel right back on. Then I noticed the chain had slipped some so attempted to fix that. By now my hands were grease covered, since of course I hadn't cleaned the chain after my last rides. And then another mystery occurrence happened: somehow the chain got wrapped around my pedal and from then on, I had no idea how to get it fixed.
I finally had to call Don to my rescue. For me to ask him for any bike help is an absolute last resort for me. Don has made it pretty clear over the years that I need to learn how to handle bike problems by myself, so usually he won't (offer to) help me unless I am desparate, which I was this time. But he has also made it clear that he won't even touch my bike if the chain is dirty, which it was, so before I could ask him for help, I had to try to clean up the chain as best I could. In the house. Without the benefit of a hose. It was pretty bad. I hate to admit it, but cleaning my bike chain ranks right up there with sticking a finger in my eye or putting my hand on a hot burner--horrible! I hate it!
Then the next comedy of errors began, with me trying to get that chain cleaned up respectably enough so he wouldn't blow a gasket over it. I finally had to resort to spraying the cleaning solution all over my hands and taking my hands and running the chain through my grease and cleaner coated hands. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, particularly since my hands were coming clean at the same time as they were getting greased up!
I found out otherwise, however, when I finally did call Don for help and the first thing out of his mouth was: why didn't you ask me for help? (?) and the second thing was: I told you about that chain. You never clean your chain. I need gloves. Grumble, grumble.
Voila! I happened to find a pair just before he said it, so that saved the day on that at least.
Long story short here, I am going to have to take that stupid bike into the shop to get the chain straightened out. After Don worked on it for about 30 minutes (after my 30 minutes), he was totally stumped on first, how it happened, and second, how to fix it. No matter how hard he tried to figure it out, there was still a kink in it. NCAA (no clue at all) here.
So, hopefully I can get that taken care of so I can get busy riding!

Monday, February 04, 2008


It has finally hit. I ask myself the same thing as the old guy to the dog, "Why don't you...go out for a run." Believe me, that's exactly what I want to do.

I can handle the treadmill, the countless boring runs, knowing that eventually it will end and the roads will open up to me again.

But I don't remember ever being this trapped during the winter. Last year, we had a lot of extreme cold weather; this year, it is one snow storm after another. And while it isn't the snow or the cold, it is the snow in the darkness that is keeping me inside. I say this often, and I know its not just me, once you have been sidelined with major injuries, you think twice about putting yourself at risk unnecessarily.

It seems the only times during the week that are convenient for me to run are in the dark--either before work or after. My job has been far too busy these last few months to even think of taking the time to run outside at lunch time. While I used to do that because it was the only time I could run, it was a major distraction for my job, and right now I can't afford to have that happen on a regular basis. So, its either the treadmill or nothing most days.

And since the groundhog says at least 6 more weeks of winter, the only consolation I have to getting through this is: A CRUISE!

That's right. February 23, leaving for Western Carribbean!
I have wanted to go somewhere tropical for several years, and for the last 2 have been trying to get Don to agree to go. He was always unwilling, until recently. (I guess it had to be his idea!) Anyway, I had put this on my to do list for the winter and it looks like it will be happening.
Now if I could only get "run outside" on my to do list, all would be good!

Friday, February 01, 2008


Its not that we don't expect it. Its just that it keeps coming and coming and coming! I missed my spin class this morning too, mainly because of weather.

My daughter was over last night with the kids and when she went to leave at almost 9 pm, she found out she had a flat tire. She figured it was from hitting two enormous potholes nearby (they never do a permanent fix either, just keep throwing tar over it whenever the weather warms up!). We had been getting snow since about 4:30 that day, so getting someone to fix it would have taken almost 2 hours, from some of the calls we made to towing companies (sorry, I just don't do flat tires!). And then I was worried about her driving home on a donut with the kids and going to work this morning too, not really knowing how much worse it would get overnight. So I took them home. In my 4 wheel drive. A normal 30-40 minute trip took more than an hour, mainly just to be safe. There was actually a lull in the snowfall for a while, and the salt trucks had been out (for once it seemed!), so a lot of the roads were down to wet pavement. But still, by the time I got home and got to bed, it was later than normal, and I had nothing organized for the morning. And I didn't sleep well again last night.

I set my alarm for 5 am though, but when it went off I made a decision right then: I'm going to lay back down and if I can't get back to sleep, I'll get up. If I do, I'll sleep until I wake up. Which is exactly what I did. I slept for another hour, but it didn't give me enough time to make lunch, breakfast, organize clothes, clear the snow off the car, etc. AND get there by 6:15. Wasn't happening today.

I have had some very good other workouts this week, so a day off wasn't going to hurt anything.

And on another snowy note, Don is finally able to get the snowblower out! Yipee! No more trying to shovel myself before work. I am so sick of that I can't tell you. And while I don't do flat tires, I also don't snowblow the driveway! I'm not a wimp, but I just don't like those big machines. They do nothing for my sense of power.

A day off from working out hopefully then will work to my advantage tomorrow when I get back to some semblance of base building for my 25k in the spring. I am a week behind the race training schedule, and plan to do the "9 on the 9th" next weekend.

Hope everyone is having better weather than we are--enjoy it if you are. Just remember those in the snow belt like I am that there's only 49 MORE DAYS UNTIL SPRING! Don't get your hopes up that Groundhog Phil will see his shadow tomorrow though. I doubt he will be willing or able to get out of his winter den with all this snow!