Saturday, June 28, 2008

REEDS LAKE 5K/10K RACE REPORT, Sat., June 28, 2008

Preliminary results (my watch time): 5k, 33:54; goal: 35:00. 10k, 1:15:26; goal: 1:15. So I made one goal, and came close on the other.

It was overcast, almost stormy looking at the beginning of the 5k but also very humid (72 degrees, 81% humidity). Pretty much a sweat fest. My goal had been determined from my last 2 5ks and the fact that I was doing the 10k after. I wanted to hold back enough to feel good through the 10k. My first mile was under 11 min., very comfortable, yet faster than I expected. I walked through the first water stop. Mile 2 was just slightly over 11 min., so I took a 30 second walk break. I didn't need it, I just wanted to slow down. Mile 3 then was about 33:34, so I did pick it up just a little to get in under 34 since I was so close. I was glad to be done and also realized I didn't feel too bad, other than sweaty.

I had 11 min. before the start of the 10k so headed to my car to get my sunglasses. The sun was starting to break through the heavy cloud cover and I didn't want to chance not having them. Plus, I like being able to hide behind them. I feel like a voyeur that way, like I am invisible: I can see you but you can't see me.

I ran into Don after this, chatted a little, and he told me he was going to go stand on the corner near where his car was until I came through, which as it turned out was past the 5k mark. I also saw Alison from work--I recognized the race shirt she was wearing from a race we had both done. She wasn't running today, however. And suddenly I realized I only had about a minute to get to the start line, waaaay down the street. Now I was going to have to run and hope to make it. So I guess with that little jog and the warmup at the beginning of the 5k, I probably ran 10 miles today.

Because I had to hop into the lineup, I started pretty close to the front. I held my pace and eventually the masses passed me. I was trying to decide what to do for pacing: run 10 min. walk 1? Run to the first water stop? Run to the first mile? As it turned out, I ended up running a full 20 minutes, which put me right at the first water stop. I walked about 30 seconds here and started again, hitting the second mile in under 24 min., so slightly ahead of what I had planned. Here, though, several women I had passed before the first mile now passed me. I let them go, secretly hoping I'd catch them eventually, but also figuring I might not.

I wasn't sure where I was in the race. I was either at the front of the back of the pack or totally at the back of the pack. After this, I decided to time walk breaks every 10 minutes. The sun was out full force now, but thankfully a lot of the course was shaded. My next walk break then came on a long upgrade, and I didn't mind that at all. This helped when we came to the biggest hill (of the 5 on the course), this helped me not really have to walk up that monster, although my pace wasn't much more than a fast shuffle. Shortly after reaching the top of the hill I was hearing the chirping of the timing chips and figured there was a mat somewhere near and then discovered it was at the 5k mark, so much as I wanted to walk here I pushed through the 5k mark and then took in the rest of my gu and some more water. My time was about 36 something.

I kept up to the next 10 minutes and was going to take another break but decided to wait until I got through an intersection where cars were waiting to go through. I also passed two younger runners here who when they passed me at 2 miles I heard the girl say her heart rate was 184. If mine was that high, I'd probably be having a stroke. And so I wasn't surprised to see them walking.

I finished through the intersection and was coming close to another runner but I stuck to my plan, did my walk, and then continued. I saw Don here, and I'm sure he was glad to finally see me so he could leave!

I continued to gain on the other woman but resisted the urge to pass her. We were now at 4 miles and I held out the urge again to walk until 10 minutes. I was so sweaty by now there were times when it would cloud over for a minute and I wasn't sure if it was sprinkling or it was my sweat flinging off myself. I continued gaining on the closest person but it wasn't until she stopped to walk that I was able to get past her. Then it was up another short incline and around a corner and here I saw the 3 other women who passed me way back at mile 2. They were still a good ways ahead, but they were there, and I was surprised and pleased. There was also a woman walking here, so she was an easy target to pass. My walk break was coming up, but it wasn't until after the 5 mile mark. I was so glad to see that!

I realized, looking at my watch, that I still had plenty of time to make my goal, and it was also here that survival mode came into play. I was starting to feel a little queasy, mainly from the heat, so I made the wise decision to walk at 5 minutes, which I kept up until practically the end.

I was coming into the last 3/4 of a mile, knowing that the finish line could be seen but still was oh so far away, and my stomach wasn't doing well. And who do I see here? Two more women who passed me at 2 miles. One walking completely, the other slow shuffling, walking, running, shufflling. I knew the one who was walking would be my next target; I just didn't know about the other until after I took another walk break and then she was mine. I passed her, and went into the home stretch of the race and suddenly my stomach was not doing well at all. My breathing was getting very catchy too, and I just had to walk. I told myself when I got to the traffic light I would run, the traffic light, the traffic light. But then slow shuffler was coming by me again and I had to take her on. The instinct came from years of racing, at a much faster pace, and the knowledge today that I could beat some people who had only done the 10k.

Right at 6 miles, a woman who walked a loooong way was now sprinting to the finish, urging me to join her. I couldn't. My stomach wouldn't allow it, and I was starting to tighten up. I had all I could do to finish. I saw Alison here again cheering me on. I raised my fist and was so happy to be finishing this thing!

The sun was out full force here. No shade at the finish line. I saw the temperature at 78 degrees on a bank thermometer. That's not really hot when you're just standing around, but running, and running nearly 10 miles, with the added 70+% humidity, and you get the picture. My clothes were so wet, I could actually wring them out when I changed. Nothing like high humidity and heat to suck the life out of you.

I think I did okay. I couldn't help but think about a year ago, when my max pace for any distance was probably about what my ending pace today was. So I have come a long way in gaining back some strength that was never there last year. For that, I am happiest.

Time and place in the age group were not the goal today. Finishing both races in my goal time was and that was achieved. Now, its on to my swim.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I didn't plan to ride tonight, but a scheduling change from earlier in the week, the fact that Jan wanted to ride tonight, and absolutely perfect, but extremely hot (87 degrees) and humid, weather left me no doubt but to resume the Thursday ice cream rides.
This is where we ride 13 miles, stop for ice cream, ride back 13 miles.
The first couple of miles are leisurely, meaning about 12.5-13.5 mph. You get lulled into an easy pace; you chat; you catch up. And then? Someone starts the break away.
I warned Jan it would come. You never know when, but just be prepared. I really wanted to get some miles in but also needed to ride easy. I am doing a 15k race Saturday and don't want my legs to be toast, so I purposely held back. Not that that was hard. Riding with this group last year, even by the end of the season I was literally riding at 100% effort to keep them within 1/2 mile sighting.
And they're deceiving. Only one has ever done a triathlon. I feel like a total poser riding with these non-triathletes. They can hold their own, for sure. And yet? They are riding fairly easy; I am riding hard. Eventually they will make the break and put the hammer down, but to date I have not been able to answer that challenge. Oh sure, I feel much stronger now than last year; I even have skinnier tires. Still, they leave me in their dust. Sigh. I sometimes wonder if I will ever measure up.
So Jan and I basically bring up the rear, so far back I can't see the rest of the pack. I know the route so its not a big deal, but I am pleasantly surprised and pleased when they stop at about 7 miles and let us catch up. And then they are off iagain n a blur.
I am talking about people older than me, in the 60+ or almost 60 range. All but one quite accomplished runners. Is that the secret? Is that the source of their strength? I don't know, but I wish I could tap into it.
Jan was content with the pace, getting used to her aerobar shifters. She was making me a little skittish, weaving from time to time, getting used to the aero position and the aero shifters. I can do aero; I'm not sure I can do aero shifters.
It was hot, and the bugs were out full force. Keep your mouth shut, or you will soon have your dinner.
We made it to the ice cream shop, had a quick ice cream in a cup this time, and off we went again. My legs last year were dead by this point; tonight they felt light and quick--a major accomplishment. You can't know how hard it was last year, week after week of the grueling pace to try to keep up and sadly it never happened. This year, I am at least keeping within sighting distance.
Still, Jan and I kept a pretty constant side-by-side pace. I don't know if she could have ridden harder; I know she was considerably faster than me last year. I pushed hard enough to keep even, but didn't outsprint her until the very end.
We finished well after 8 pm. I was glad to be done. I was also covered with bugs. Ick! All the way home I felt like something was crawling on me--I'm sure some bug was taking up residence on me somewhere! Ewww.
All in all, a good ride.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Did 5! The 100 Pushup Challenge.

This is just going to be another phase of training for me. You have to read through the instructions and follow the challenge, but hopefully I am up to it!

We started this week. The initial test was to see how many pushups you could do before failure. Then there is are breakdown categories between different amounts. I figured I would certainly fit into the 0-5 segment, and I was right. But I figured I would not be able to do even 1 and managed 5. Then you do 5 sets of different amounts, depending on which category you fit into, with rest between each, and with the 5th you do a max number for your category. After the second set, it seemed too easy so I started doing 5. I'm still pretty stiff in the arms, not being able to lower myself fully, but I'm hoping that will come eventually.

So if anyone wants to join the challenge, hop on board. A good way to get buff!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


My weekend workouts actually started with my most awesome run on Friday morning. Saturday Chiarunner and I met up to head out to Johan's Trifest Olympic distance triathlon. Here's what getting up at 4 am and not doing any makeup or hair looks like (me, not Chia or Jan). As usual, I look like my dorky self. I swear, take my picture and I am guaranteed to look the worst I could possibly look!

Chia and I were hard at work, or hardly working actually. We were assigned to refreshments and the finish line, so probably didn't need to be there that early, but its always fun soaking up the ambience of the race and checking to see who is there that I know. Jan, on the other hand, came earlier yet to do body marking because she had to leave early for a bridal shower for her daughter-in-law to be.

Eventually, I ran into Cindy Jo (Pink Lady). We were both wishing Shelley had come too!
The race is put on by a group of triathletes/runners who either knew of Johan or who trained with him over the years until his untimely death in 2002. Before he died, Johan set up a foundation to hold a race every year celebrating the thing he loved most: triathlon. And the main beneficiaries of the event are Hospice of Michigan and Hope on the Hill, both organizations dedicated to helping cancer victims and their families.

It was nice for a change being on the other side of the finish line, instead of trying to get to it. I was thinking out loud just how happy I was to just be watching for a change.

The swim started and Chia, Jan, and I and a couple of other volunteers from Hospice sat near the water until the first swimmers came out, and then we headed to transition. Its always amazing to watch the front runners transition in 30 seconds or less. Me? More like 3-5 minutes.

There were a couple of people who dropped out of the race right after the swim and there were at least 2 bike casualties, one where a guy trying to put his bike shoes on while on the bike and weaved into a guy going 20 mph and you can imagine the crash there. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt as bad as he might have been. Another was a guy who was having heart problems and wanted to just rest, but medics wisely pulled him from the race. The last guy out of the water didn't make the swim cut off, so he too dropped.

Standing at the bike transition, its always fun watching all the different bikes and your friends as they head out for the next leg of the race. One friend, Kim, had such difficulty getting on her bike, I wondered how she would make the run. She had crashed a couple of weeks earlier and still wasn't back to normal. I did find out she was not planning on doing the run.

I also realized that this race had relays, which I never even thought of until a few days before. It would have been a lot of fun getting a team together. Maybe next year, if I don't just get the courage to do the race again myself.

While standing around waiting for our duties to begin with refreshments/finish line, we busied ourselves with whatever needed to be done where we could be helpful. Some volunteers had just left when they figured they weren't needed any more, and others of course did have to leave, so we filled in where necessary.

Just before I was finally sent over to the finish line, it started clouding up, providing some relief from the sun, although it wasn't that hot of a day. And I just missed seeing the first finisher come through, just under 2 hours. After that, it was pretty constant busy-ness. We gave out ice cold towels (like heaven, I heard over and over), a flavored water, and chips had to be removed. I was having one of those sore back/hip days, and no way could I bend down over and over to get the chips, so I left that to others. Being more at eye level with finishers, however, gave me a chance to meet up with the son of family friends, who I am finding out is turning into quite an athlete. He informed me that he was doing IM Wisconsin this year. Very impressive. I'm sure he doesn't realize I still see him as the little boy I knew so long ago.

Cindy Jo came through soon after that, and did very well. We ended up talking with her for a while later, after she had a chance to recover some. The weather was starting to look threatening, and it did sprinkle some, but not enough to send you running. They really lucked out once again.

By the time the last few finishers were coming in, my back was getting so tight I just figured I would leave. There wasn't much left we really needed to do, and while we could have helped clean up, I was starting to really need to use a bathroom, and found out that most or all of the porta potties were without toilet paper, and by this time, I couldn't bring myself to go in them again.

We walked back to the car, and once again it was my lucky day. I found $10 on the ground near my car. Woo hoo! That made $15 that week.

Chia and I headed back to GR to pick up her car. Just before we got on the highway, I saw the perfect car for Cindy Jo: a hot pink Honda Element for sale.

I think you'd better jump on that, and there's even a club out there you can join!

After I dropped Chia off, my intention was to go get in my swim for the day. I was so hungry though and had to also do some grocery shopping, so decided to get that out of the way first, go home and eat, and then head to the pool. While shopping, a wave of sleepiness came over me, however, and I was starting to doubt I was going to make it to the swim until I had a nap.

And then, tell me how this didn't get noticed before. As I was unloading the couple of bags of groceries and other paraphanalia in the car from the race, what do I see but a cucumber on the floor of my car. I did not buy any cucumbers that day. All I could think of was: where did this come from?? What must Chia have thought if she saw this?? And how did I possibly miss this when I took stuff out of my car the night before or put stuff in the car that morning. I know I bring a lot of stuff with me to races or other places I go, but this is a little ridiculous. The only reasonable explanation of course is that it rolled under the seat from an earlier shopping trip during the week. It wasn't moldy or mushy so it was fairly recent. At least it wasn't the gallon of milk I left in my trunk for 3 weeks once. That's another story, as you can imagine.

So by the time I got home that day, it was around 1:30 and all I could see was all the mess I had left that day and all week in fact, and began doing some house cleaning: vacuuming, mopping the floors, laundry, cleaning the kitchen. By now, it was 3:30 and I could barely keep my eyes open. A nap was necessary, especially since I still had to go to a birthday party that evening. So no swim yet.

I took about a 2.5 hour nap and then got up and made something to eat again and headed to my sister's, on the other side of town. I was feeling very guilty about not getting my swim in, and told myself I would go after I left her house. Naturally, at 9:45 that night, there wasn't much chance of me wanting to swim 1.25 miles. I actually went to the gym but couldn't bring myself to do it. I just didn't feel comfortable about going into the darkened club (open 24 hours) to swim by myself at that time of night. I can do it in the morning, but it creeped me out to think of it at night. There's always tomorrow, right?

Sunday morning I was up very early again. I don't seem to be able to sleep much past 5 lately and should have gone to swim then, but didn't. I waited for Don so we could bike. I had wanted to do the whole Musketawa Trail that day (49 miles), but Mother Nature had other ideas.

We didn't get that early of a start or might have gotten more riding in before we hit a storm pocket. The sky was a solid steel gray off to the west, right where we were riding. The wind was picking up, and riding along you could see trees down from earlier storms. I told Don I was only worried about lightning and trees coming down. We then decided to cut the ride to 30 miles, but by the time we hit the 12 mile mark, it was starting to rain. I was getting a little paranoid, so insisted we turn back. It never rained hard, but it threatned the whole way back. And naturally, as I expected would happen, the weather cleared by the time we got back to town and the storm warnings had lifted. Oh well, the threat of a storm kept me moving a lot faster than usual, averaging FINALLY 14.5 mph. I confessed to Don then that all last year, no matter how much I rode, no matter how hard I tried, I never, and I mean never, averaged more than 13.1 mph. It was very discouraging, so of course this was huge and I feel there is hope for me yet this year!

After the ride, I went to the pool and Don went on home. I was determined to do my 1.25 mile swim, which I'm happy to say wasn't that bad and I did it in about the time I was hoping for: 50:22. I could see the fat old guy who comes to the gym and sits on an airdyne watching TV the whole time staring at me through the window to the pool. I didn't make any eye contact. He's the main reason I did not want to be at the gym at night by myself. He comes and goes at odd hours mainly I think because he has nothing else to do. I got into it with him last year about something, and while we have sort of made amends (I have made amends, just to get him off my case), I prefer to avoid him at all costs. Hopefully he was impressed watching me do all those laps.

After that? I was tired. I went home and finished up on other chores I hadn't done Saturday, checked on the IMCDA stats for a while, and generally enjoyed the weather the rest of the day. It was a very beautiful weekend here again. Now its time to get caught up on others' blogs!

Friday, June 20, 2008


One hour 31 minutes 39 seconds. And now I'm at work. A lovely day.

This is definitely a sign of progress. Just getting the run done in the first place, no whining, complaining, procrastinating, or backing out. I was actually looking forward to it. And then being able to walk after, go up steps, AND go to work. Amazing.

Just six months ago, if I had even thought of doing something like this, I would have been pretty much wiped out for the day. Not that it won't catch up to me at some point, but I'm feeling pretty good right now--no sore feet; no tight knees; no overwhelming fatigue; no problems. For the past year and a half, I always had to plan my long runs on a Saturday or Sunday, just so I had the rest of the day to recover. And if it was longer than 1.5 hours, I needed the rest of the weekend to recover and be able to go to work on Monday. Finally, after so much time, I can say I am seeing things turn around. I have struggled with this lack of energy or bouncing back after a workout for so long, I was getting very frustrated thinking it would never improve. I don't know how it will translate in my 1/2 IM in SIX WEEKS (yikes!), but I am still a little more hopeful than I was even a month ago. I am cautiously optimistic, however. I still always think something bad is going to happen every time things start going good for me.

Why did I do a long run on a weekday? Because Saturday, Chiarunner (God I love having a local blogger around!) and I will be volunteering at Johan's Trifest Olympic distance triathlon. I have done this race twice, but have volunteered 4 other times. Its kind of an expected thing since all the tri-geeks from here are either on the race committee or are doing the race themselves. So it will be my one volunteer opportunity for the year.

I passed on doing the race because I didn't feel ready to tackle the bike course. Not that I couldn't do it, just how fast was a question, and how fast I could recover. And while I know speed is not always a factor, for this race, it is. I have been the last person or one of the last to finish this race both times I have done it, leaving a somewhat negative memory for me, and making it hard to want to "go there" again. And my second reason was deciding not to clutter up my schedule with races I wasn't ready for just to do a race, which seems more sensible this year, and needing to focus on the one race I am signed up for that will matter the most.

I think Cindy Jo will be there, so we'll have another "local" blogger there.

And good luck to all the tri-geeks doing IMCD this weekend! I hope they do well and don't freeze on the swim!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I know I've mentioned before that I often find money, mostly change, when I'm out running in the morning. There could be many reasons why people lose money at night, the main one being when they drop it, whether they know it or not, the darkness makes it impossible to find. So its a perfect opportunity for anyone out bright and early to make a windfall.

Today was another one of those days: I found a $5 bill just laying in the grass. Whoa, put on the brakes, back up, and snatch that up right away. I even took a few extra seconds to look around the area and in the nearby bushes to see if there was any more floating around, but no such luck.

I'm pretty sure if I was a speedier runner, I might not see something like that as easily. So I have an advantage there. My secret hope is to find a $100 just laying there, waiting for an opportunist like me to come along.

Today was also the day to again extend the morning run up to 45 minutes. I am finding it easier and easier to do that, and enjoying it more because of that. I rarely have to stop and catch my breath any more, and usually keep in mind when the next traffic stop will allow a break if it becomes necessary.

I headed out to the zoo park and noticed there were a few mature trees that had come down from the last storm. Running back, I cut through the neighborhoods and saw there were branches down everywhere. I couldn't tell if it was from the Saturday night storm or all the wind we had yesterday. Either way, I found it odd that people would just let big branches lay across their front steps for any length of time, something small enough to move themselves, but too big to really get around easily. In that neighborhood though, there doesn't appear to be much pride in ownership, because I doubt there is much ownership of homes in that area. You can definitely compare the difference with all the junk in the yards, trash in the streets, and today branches everywhere. No one wants to take any responsibility for cleaning up their neighborhood. That's someone else's job.

And it was with luck when I took another detour to avoid some of the busier traffic areas where I came upon the $5. Lucky me today!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


After more than a week of hot, steamy, and stormy weather, Saturday turned out to be a perfect day weatherwise. The Friday night rain came and went, and with it the humidity as well, and we were left with clear blue skies and a dry day.

This is another race I've always been meaning to do but never was able to fit into my schedule. And with all the long distance training necessary right now, there is hardly a place in my schedule for a 5k. But, it was a free, prepaid registration, and I just decided to make it a short run day for a change. I had a graduation party that day anyway, and was bringing food and helping out, so this actually worked out better timewise than I would have hoped.

Brian Diemer is a local guy who was also an Olympic Bronze Medalist in 1984 and placed in the 3000 meter steeplechase event again in 1988 and qualified in 1992 and has been lending his name to this race now for many years. He now coaches a winning cross country team at a local private college and from what I know is a genuinely nice guy all around.

I got to the race a little early just because I'm used to doing that with triathlons, and the first thing I thought about while walking to pick up my packet was how easy it was to just show up at a local 5k: no leaving in the dark to get a decent spot in transition; no lugging a bike, wetsuit, helmet, extra shoes, gear bag, etc., no setting everything up ahead of time, then getting body marked, or standing around for hours wondering how cold/warm the water was, how hilly the bike course would be, or waiting for the race to start. Not today. Today it was get dressed, hop in the car, drive the few miles to the race, park, get packet, return to car to drop off packet, and then head out for a warmup and bam, the race starts.

At packet pickup, I ran into Harold, an older guy (70?) who looks about 55 and is still quite a fast runner. We both joked this was just a training run today: "Aren't they all?" he says. The shirts were dark brown. Eww. How about bright green or even white? Who wears dark brown shirts??

So the first person I ran into after getting my packet was Maria, my massage therapist, and an age group runner I've known for at least 18 years now. Unlike me, who sort of fell to the wayside with my competitive running, Maria has remained a force to be reckoned with competitively, and you would never know it to look at her that she had 6 kids and at least 1 grandchild. She is very petite (probably size 2) and looks at least 15 years younger than she is.

Looking around, I could see this was going to be a big race and there were all kinds of people here, since it was also a walk and family race. I warmed up a little, fearing my legs would be totally worthless after the hard miles I had put in this week, and it was still too early to tell what I would be able to do this day. My goal was just to beat my last time. I did stretch quite a bit to keep loose, since the hip thing was flaring up a little again this week, reminding me I needed to get a massage again.

While it was cool in the shade, standing in the sun under the clear skies, I was getting warm and was glad I had decided to change earlier to a singlet, and I waited to line up until the last few minutes, keeping cool in a spot in the shade. The race was starting on one of the busier streets they had blocked off totally, and it looked like there were about 1000 people lining up. I think just about anywhere you go, if you put on a 5k race, people will come. This one in particular had prize money, so it also drew some of the best runners around.

Finally it was time to start and I jumped into the crowd and moved up and away from the strollers and little kids with their moms. I figured I'd be going slow enough and didn't want to have to get bogged down by all of them too.

I found it odd and amusing that the two younger women I chatted with before the race, like me, had never run this one before, and also, like me, were training for longer events. But here we all were.

And now we were off. I was glad it was a chip start because then it didn't matter where you started, but again, I didn't want to run father than I had to. There wasn't much of a delay in getting to the start mat, and this is where I started my watch.

The course took us first east, and we were running facing right into the sun. I just tried to keep my breathing under control, which also helps keep my stomach under control, something that bothers me running harder. Its all a matter of conditioning, I know that. I had looked at the course map ahead of time but was not familiar with the streets, just had a general idea of the layout of the race. Still, it seemed a long time before we turned away from the east and out of the direct sun. It was after the first mile in fact, and finally turning into the neighborhoods, we hit some shade and a nice slight breeze. The temperature was about 75, but fortunately with the low humidity, it wasn't oppressive, just warm. The shade was a nice relief, however. I was surprised to see my first mile at 10:24, and while I know that isn't a fast mile for most or all of you, for me it has been a major struggle to get to this point, so I was quite pleased, especially when I didn't feel like I was going this pace.

So now the trick was to concentrate and focus entirely, to not lose that pace. Here is where Ihe trick I have always used--focusing on the feet of someone in front of you until you come alongside of or pass--starts working, and I found myself passing one person after another, not going any faster, just keeping a steady pace. There was a younger woman/older girl hard for me to tell her age who sort of latched on to me before the first mile but then got ahead of me shortly after that, and when I stoppd to grab water, she got farther ahead. I was steadily gaining on people though and kept her as my main focus, to see if I could catch back up with her. She would actually stop, walk a few paces, and then continue on, and yet I could never get up to her before she would take off again. It made me realize really just how slow I was. But still I was passing people, and not too many were passing me.

I think when you are in the back of the pack, once you get settled into a pace, people just generally either continue along in bunches or start dropping back. I am always in the middle of the back of the pack, so I'm often running completely by myself.

Mile 2 came up and I was still about on the same pace and was pleasantly surprised, but also looking forward to getting this thing done. If nothing more over the last few races and hard training weeks, I have developed more endurance for holding on longer so I wasn't feeling fatigued or anything, just wanting to take a break, which you really don't get to do in a 5k.

I was coming into a new crowd of back of the pack people now and had to find some new feet to focus on to pull me along. I still had the younger woman I had as my distant focus but needed to find someone closer. Right after mile 2, people always seem to pick up the pace, and those who were struggling suddenly come alive, so it sometimes is harder to find a focus with a steady pace too, but I just kept my eyes on the feet in front of me until I was able to pass someone and then went on to another. It was like a game: reel them in, pick them off, repeat. Sort of like a lion stalking their prey.

With about 1/2 mile to go, you could now see the finish banner ahead, so now it was time to not falter and get serious. There were a couple of women ahead who I wanted to try to pass, and who seemed to be going at a snail's pace, yet it was taking me longer than I had hoped to close in on them. Slowly, slowly, I gained. Here too, I was catching that younger woman, who now was stopping and starting constantly. It was just a matter of time. My breathing was just starting to get a little catchy here, and I could feel that start affecting my stomach, but I just focused, focused, focused and when we hit the 3 mile mark, I picked it up, passed those two women finally, passed the younger woman, finally, and actually sprinted (for me) into the finish. Oh thank God I was done! My immediate urge was to throw up, but I managed to contain that.

32:23, 21 out of 39 in the age group. Apparently, all the old ladies came out to run today. 42 seconds faster than my last 5k three weeks before. I was happy that I seeing progress finally. Every second counts!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


But not for us triathletes. At least, that's what I am finding. In addition to the extra training (which I'm not minding too much), the usual summer hectic work schedule is upon me. Now I've gone from busy to crazy and nearly out of control work days. This has happened the last two summers, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when it started again.

My first couple of weeks of build-up training are behind me, so now I'm finding myself rethinking my training again. With the busier work schedule, and with some new-found energy, I plan to start longer workouts on a daily basis, figuring 2 longer workouts as opposed to 3 shorter workouts each week might help. My running is steadily improving. My swimming is to the point where it really isn't a problem to swim a mile at a time. I know I still have to work on the biking, but here is where I need to make the most changes. After last week's 4 hour ride, I still felt strong each day after. While the ride left something to be desired, I think the ride time is helping put me over the edge on the training.

I think too if I try to get in some longer workouts during the week, instead of trying to constantly double up every day, I still will have more time to do all those other household chores or other tasks that need attending to each week without wearing myself out totally.

It also has led me to the conclusion that I need to focus mainly on the half IM race and not try to cram in a bunch of shorter triathlon races that take away from the training and require recovery days I really don't have to spare. I have a few running events already planned, but up to now have not signed up for any sprint tris. I feel confident enough from having done tris for so many years that I don't need to clutter up my schedule with things I have done before. Sure, it would be a thrill to maybe get a PR, but I really don't have time for that this summer.

On the schedule: a 5k this Saturday. That should be interesting. Its a race I have always thought of doing but never had time on my schedule. However, it was one of the "Triple Crown" races included in my "Gift of Fitness" I had received for Christmas, so its already a paid-for event. The next will be another prepaid 5k on June 28, but since there is also a 10k right after, I plan to do that also, helping me get my long run in for that week.

Hope everyone has a great weekend of training or races!

Monday, June 09, 2008

WEEKEND WRAPUP--THE 3 H's (Heat, Humidity, Hazardous Weather)

I'm sure a lot of you had the same type of weekend, what with all the heat and humidity that suddenly was upon us, and all the hazardous storms besides. I know the Midwest got hit pretty hard, and West Michigan was probably the worst in the state.

The weekend started out with my longest bike ride this year: 48.16 miles. We rode the White Pine Trail, which starts in Grand Rapids and ends on a newly paved section 24.8 miles north in Sand Lake. When we started out, it was already over 80 degrees, and I'd guess the humidity was probably in the upper 60% range, so very steamy. I had brought 2 large bottles of water, fully frozen, hoping at least the Polar would stay cold the whole way.

I really had no idea how long this ride would take. One other trail I have been on in the past, which is also around the same length, usually took me under 4 hours last year. Not a stellar time. I know that and hoped to improve somewhat on this ride. My longest ride so far this year has been about 30 miles. I'm not sure exactly because the last time I rode part of the trail, I did not zeroize out my computer, so it was a guesstimate. The time before that it had been 22. So I didn't worry too much about jumping from 30 to 48+.

Riding along the river at this time of year makes you think it is snowing or has snowed, what with cottonwood trees shedding their cottony fluff. It was everywhere! All over the ground, floating through the air, and wouldn't you know, an open mouth was like a magnet drawing all the fuzzy stuff to your lips and nose, so I found myself constantly spitting the stuff out or having a twitchy nose. And I didn't even want to think of all that gunk on my bike.

As much as I was looking forward to this ride, and was totally optimistic about it, I found myself soon trailing behind, as usual. I decided to just go by mph today and skip worrying about the cadence. I pretty much think I have that down well enough now that I can use it on the trainer and skip it on the road.

One thing I couldn't figure out was why one knee hurt on every pedal stroke on the way out. Nothing until that day, and then the whole way out. And nothing excrutiating, just one of those nagging little things that I couldn't figure out since it hadn't happened before. No amount of adjusting the pedal stroke or my knee position made it any better, and eventually, after we stopped, it did go away.

Even though this trail appears to be "flat," it is a false flat. I know I've mentioned this before, that there are sections where for several minutes you're flying along holding a 17-18 mph pace, and the next you're (me) grinding out 13.9 and no climbing. And there is one particular area where so far this year I can't even hold 13 mph on it. So it gets frustrating here. By the time we reach the newly paved section, it again is smooth and definitely flat for a few miles at least, and then again there is a very imperceptible climb. During this last stretch, my phone started ringing. Two calls in a matter of minutes! Rarely does my phone ring on rides. By the time I reached Sand Lake, I was ready to be off the bike for a few minutes at least and checked my messages, both from my kids, both adults and on their own. I don't understand it, but every time I take a day off work, they all seem to call and want to know where I am! And do they call when I'm at home or even at work? Nooo. Just when I take a day off. Almost every time. And its always: "How come you're not at work? What are you doing? Where are you?" etc. Hey, I'm the parent here. I don't think I have to ask permission. LOL! I'm hoping if I ever get Alzheimers they'll think to check on me this much!

We stopped and had some sort of sports drink and I finished off one of my bottles and we set out again, only to have my phone ring AGAIN! I had barely started so stopped to answer that one and it was another of my grown kids wanting to know: why aren't you at work; what are you doing; where are you; when will you be home? This was No. 4 child and I told him I'd call him later.

Now the hard part was coming: headwinds ALL the way back, 20-30 mph. I knew I had to get an attitude adjustment to get through this, so just went mile my mile. I just dealt with each mile, each grade elevation, each fast section, and tried not to think about the wind or the fact that I was a LONG way behind now. At least my knee wasn't hurting anymore and hasn't since. The only thing that started getting to me was another woman turned on the trail at one of the streets we had to cross and she just went flying by and we didn't see her again until she was returning. She did not give the appearance of being a fast rider, but I guess looks aren't everything! I guess a sporty bike jersey and fancy helmet do not help make me a faster biker, as I constantly am aware.

I noticed too on the way back that it was clouding up, not fully but enough only to make me worry about a storm popping up, but not enough to block the sun. It was very hot, and I knew I was probably getting some sunburn, more from the sweating than anything.

Seven miles from the finish, we stopped briefly again and once again, my son calls! I told him I'd be back soon and would call him back. And sure enough, 3 miles from the finish--and at this point I was watching each tenth of a mile click off on my odometer and starting my countdown--the wind picks up more, if that was possible, and it starts raining, those big huge drops, completing soaking us in a minute. Now I was down to 9 mph and couldn't help but start thinking, there is no way I can do a half IM in 2 months! There is no way! Fortunately, the rain let up quickly, and we were just stuck with more wind. Getting closer to the river again, it was like being in a blizzard with all the cottonwood fluff all over. And the wind was so strong most of the time that I started this coughing fit in the back of my throat from dryness which was causing my gag reflex to kick in. I pedaled and choked, trying not to fall over.

So the last few miles were very unpleasant, but by the time we got back to the car, the sun was blazing again and the temperature read 93. Whoa! It was very, very hot. My water was either gone or lukewarm now, so I used what was left to wipe the cotton fluff off my legs, face, and arms. It was caked on but actually looked yellowish. I couldn't wait to take a shower! Our total time was 4:11. Again, those doubts crept into my head about being able to do a half IM in 2 months. It just didn't seem possible with that kind of biking time.

On the way home, we decided to take the bikes to the car wash, and as I've said before, that is the EASIEST, fastest, and most thorough way to clean your bike. A little degreaser on the chain, foam on the rest, and a good power rinse.

We were home a couple of hours when the first of the weekend storms kicked up and there was a tornado watch pretty much everywhere. It was almost as dark as night at 4:30 pm. I was glad I wasn't out in that anymore.

Saturday, the plan was to get up and run at least 6 miles, or farther, if possible. I didn't really know if my legs would support that, but they really didn't feel that bad. It was the heat and humidity that sucked the life out of me. We ran together (actually I was WAY behind) for 1.9 miles and then I went on, trying get get in 2.1 more before turning. I really wanted to do more, but it was a struggle. I'm sure my legs were still somewhat tired, although they didn't feel bad, and with the hills, heat, and humidity (another H factor), I found myself walking more than I had planned. All in all, I think by adding on at the end I ended up with 6 slow miles, for 1:11. Good enough on a day like this!

Saturday afternoon was blazing hot, but no sign of any storm. I did get in a 3/4 mile swim late in the afternoon, for 30:39. Then, later in the evening, another big one pops up and we ended up getting anywhere from 2-4 inches of rain in a matter of maybe 1.5 hours. Crazy! Fortunately for me, we didn't lose power.

Sunday, I decided I would again ride the trainer. I didn't want to use any extra time, energy, or gas driving to the trails to ride, so decided on a good hard 15 mile ride on the trainer, and really felt fine after. Then we thought it was still very hot but very windy again, and maybe we should go try to get in an outdoor swim. We drove to one of our favorite township swimming holes only to find the road to the park flooded out and the water looking pretty muddy, so decided to skip it. We went to another one, only to find they had raised the rates to $5 a day, and decided we didn't want to pay $5 just to swim. If they had sense, they would issue yearly passes, but apparently, they don't. At that rate, I'm not sure I'll get too many open water swims in this year, much as I love it. So we skipped the swim, which wasn't that necessary anyway.

Again Sunday, mid afternoon, the storms started up again. I was out in it this time and really was worried about a tree coming down on my car! Every intersection I drove through had several inches of standing water, and I had heard a couple of reports of roads washing out, people going down in ravines and getting killed, and another where a tree actually had fallen on a car, crushing the driver, so I was very relieved to get home and in the driveway!

The hot weather continues. I'm not that bothered by it. (Its the cold I hate!) But it definitely was easier running in the rain this morning than in the humidity, and I probably wasn't any wetter! I had woken up at 3:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep, so at 5 I got up, did some weights, made my lunch, etc. and finally by about 5:45 I was ready to run. I didn't want to wait too much longer because I knew rain was threatening, but it was still, surprisingly, so dark out, I decided to wait another 15 minute, and of course, wouldn't you know, it starts pouring again. I waited another 20 minutes and when it let up some, headed out. I managed 40 minutes without stopping except to wait for traffic to cross 2 streets, and am always surprised how much easier it is to breathe in the rain than in cold or humidity. It was a good run and like I said, I was hardly any more wet than if it had just been humid. Another thing that surprised me was my ability to do all I did over the last 4 days and still feel good today. I guess there is always progress being made!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Can you say sore legs?? After Sunday's race, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) set in big time. They were only slightly stiff on Sunday, but by Monday morning, rigor mortis was setting in.

And lucky me, I work in an office that has 5 floors, with flights of steps to get around, or elevators of course. I usually take the steps, at least up one or two floors, on a regular basis. So Monday, there I was, starting to head up the steps, without thinking. But the legs weren't having any of that! And then worse yet, I forgot when I needed to go back down, and I found myself, with a couple of files in hand, standing at the top of a flight of stairs unable to move! I honestly could not make my legs go down those steps! I finally made my way down, sideways, with my back against the wall so I didn't lose my balance and fall. After that, it was elevators all day, even up and down one floor. For some people in the office, that's normal, to always take the elevators. But I got a lot of strange looks apparently "being so lazy." And just walking around, I felt like a wooden soldier my legs were so stiff! I had forgotten my lunch that day too and had to walk downtown to get something to eat, so I went to the closest (and one of the priciest) places just so I didn't have to walk farther.

By the time I got out of work that night, it was actually worse. But with 1/2 IM training, there are no days off, even after a long run like that. I was already having to mix up my training for the week because of the race, so knew I had to get on my bike trainer for a workout. I thought that might help the legs too, loosen things up. But again, I was wrong! Only 30 minutes of fairly easy spinning in a low gear and now I could barely bend my legs at all! And with the trainer in the basement, I had to make a serious effort to get back up the steps without having to crawl!

Tuesday morning, they were worse yet! I had decided the night before to swim on Tuesday morning and got as much ready as I could the night before. Good thing too because it was such an effort getting around, I doubt I would have made it out of the house if I hadn't already been organized! I did get in my first mile swim since last fall, with a time of 40:49, so it went better than I had figured. Because I swim in a short pool, and because the only way to measure your distance is by laps, a mile meant 60 laps. To keep from getting off count, bored, or frustrated, I counted 1/60, 2/59, etc. just to keep track. That seemed to work pretty well, so I hope I can do that again. I have learned too that after a hard event like the half marathon or the 25k, it is now easier to lengthen the swim workouts without as much problem. After all, 40 minutes is a lot shorter than 2 hours 44 min.!

And getting around the office Tuesday wasn't much easier. And I found myself needing to go up one floor several times in a row, so by the time I left work, my left hamstring was throbbing (I think it worked down from my hip that had been stiff). I was a mess! And a trip to Wal-Mart is a whole other story!

Today, things are much better, the legs are working, I'm pretty much back to normal, so now its time to sign up for another half marathon. Next up: Toronto Half, September 28, 2008. Woo hoo!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good: meeting up with two bloggers: Chiarunner and Jahowie.
The Bad: forgetting my camera AGAIN so no pics.
The Ugly: the hard, hard, hard course.
I signed up for this race because Jan wanted that medal so badly. And they are really nice medals, as you can see. But I started getting concerned about the race when the race info said there was a strict time cutoff: 2 hours, 30 minutes. In a nutshell, "if you can't run 12 min. miles, stay home." Well! What had I gotten myself into?? The other concern I had was the course itself, but after a while I started thinking it was a fairly flat course. Where that idea came from (maybe it was a secret hope?) I don't know. Rereading the course info again, I just sort of blocked out the statement "Ann Arbor is in the Huron Valley, so you have a big hill at the end." That was an understatement. And then just a day before the race, I finally got an e-mail from a friend of a friend of a friend who was on the race committee, and he assured me I didn't need to worry about any cutoff. So that was a relief.
Race day started at 3 am, even though I didn't need to get up until 4. Once I was awake though, my mind was racing (ahead of my legs) and I finally got up about 3:45. I should sleep well tonight!
Knowing it was going to be an early start, I had wisely organized all my stuff the night before. I had to meet Jan by 4:45 and I don't like keeping people waiting.
Its amazing how dark it is at 4:30. Dark dark. But yet, I could hear the birds twittering, just stirring in their nests as I loaded up the car. It was so dark, I thought I was turning onto a side street and actually turned into a school driveway. I was glad I wasn't driving the whole way and turned on my brights then. Not too many people out anyway.
It is about a 2 to 2.5 hour drive to Ann Arbor, and with one stop we made it in about 2 hours. We parked in downtown Ann Arbor (home of the Michigan Wolverines--Go Blue!) in a very nice parking structure. Packet pickup was right across the street, so we nade our way to get our packets and then made a last stop to the porta potties before the lines got too long. We were actually on the bus to go to the start line (in Dexter, 13 miles away) by 7:15. By 7:30, we were at a school in Dexter and then began the long wait until the start at 8:50 am.
I almost immediately ran into Chiarunner. I recognized her from her green shorts! We chatted, I introduced her to Jan, and then we headed inside to stay warm. Another person I was looking for was Jahowie, but he actually found me. It was great meeting in person and talking with people you blog with!
Eventually, the race started. I thought I heard there was 2500 people, and it looked like it. It was a chip start, so no need to crowd in the front. All of a sudden, a gun went off and we slowly started moving forward.
I didn't know what kind of pace I would be able to hold. My secret goal time was 2:37:19, 12 min. miles. I was a little dismayed in the first mile, however, that we were starting with a nice long incline. But I felt okay. My breathing was okay, and by the first water stop at 2 miles, I was really surprised to see my time just barely over 22 min. It was too early to get excited yet, but I walked through the water stop and continued on without missing a beat. I had to laugh here because there was an old folks symphonic band playing---Black Sabbath, Ironman! That kept me going in my mind until the next water stop at 4 miles and I found again I was keeping fairly consistent slightly over 11 min. miles. I took in some sport beans here, trying to keep ahead of the usual stomach cramping I get on long runs. I'm still learning it seems how to prevent that stuff from happening. On I went to 5 miles, with my pace now around 11:30, but still within my goal pace. Between 5 and 6 miles, it is a steady uphill climb, nothing serious, but seriously getting annoying.
At six miles, I was still under pace and took some more beans. I think there might have been a downhill here, but I can't exactly remember. At this point, I was getting extremely bored with the course. On the one hand, it was probably one of the most beautiful and scenic courses I've ever run; on the other, it was boring to me--too much of the same thing I see at home. My goal is to find races that are FUN. This was not fun!
And at 7 miles, I about wanted to cry. Here we had ANOTHER hill, an extremely steep hill, and I was very irritated with the whole thing. I walked that hill. Another woman came along side me and I told her I hated this race and I hated this course! And I realized it was true. I was hating this race--there was nothing to look at, nothing to keep me focused on each mile. At the top of the hill, I did refocus though and continued running. Volunteers at this point said no more hill once we got up there, but that was only true for a very short time.
At 8 miles, I again walked through the water stop, taking in a gel, feeling somewhat better. "Elvis" was singing here, so that perked me up! Then the next boring mile to 9 miles. Now I was starting to gain on people who were more frequently walking, feelling probably the same way I did.
I was thrilled to see the 9 mile mark and realized I was still under pace. Only 4 more miles. I allowed myself now to calculate what I might be able to do and started getting excited when I realized I might actually make my secret goal time. Barely.
Of course, that excitement was short lived because we were nearing what I could see was ANOTHER hill. A big one. Oh no! I was completely deflated here. I almost couldn't stand the thought of another hill. And then I heard a volunteer say it was 12 miles, only 1 more to go. Not for me of course, and then I realized we were going to have an out and back portion of the race, and these were runners finishing. And right then I saw Jan! I glanced at my watch: 1:55. Woo hoo for her! She was probably going to do about 2:03 or 2:04! That was an excellent time for her, and that meant I probably could at least get a 2;40 at the worst.
Having something to look at now other than just the roadkill on the road made getting to mile 10 seem faster. I was now taking regular walk breaks, but here again was some progress for my fitness level: I was going 10/2 instead of the 8/2 I did my last 2 races. About this time, I saw Chia and we slapped hands. She was almost to 11 miles. Lucky her!
There was a turnaround somewhere, I knew it, but it couldn't get there fast enough for me. I was seriously hating this race, hating every minute now. The crowds had thinned and I was really having a difficult time mentally and physically now. But then more ugly came when we did the turnaround. Now we also had the strong winds in our faces, that wind I thought was in my face on the way out turned out to be headwinds instead on the way back! But the upside here was I also could see I was far from being last. There were many people behind me. Yeah, I couldn't help but get giddy about that!
Mile 10-11 was very slow and difficult, fighting the wind and the urge to want to quit. I wanted to be done in the worst way! I was starting to really feel like I do in a triathlon on the bike portion when it seems like it will never end and I am losing ground every minute. And I was. By 11 miles, my pace was now at or over 12 min., so I was losing ground fast. It was such an effort here to pick up my feet and push against the wind, but I was also feeling a little better overall from having taken a couple of walk breaks. I just couldn't go any faster.
Between 11 and 12 miles, I passed 2 women walking. At least I was actually passing someone! And then, miraculously, I could see the turn to go up the hill. Almost at 12 miles. But here, it REALLY got ugly--that hill was so straight up and steep, I don't know how a car could get up it! Okay, now I was really mentally broken. I walked at 12 miles up the FIRST part of the hill. But then the one woman I passed was coming up along side of me. I got going. I was barely able to do more than a slow shuffle up the rest of the hill, which was probably 7/10 of a mile. I passed another guy, again saying how much I hated this race. I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, pumping my arms some to get some momentum. I was so miserable I just wanted to scream! Who were those sick people coming up with this course??
By the time I reached the top of the hill, the volunteers were saying another half mile to the finish. I was beside myself here, and was now starting to realize I would not even make my worst goal of 2:40. It had already come and was quickly going. 2:42 didn't even seem possible, since I could barely move my legs. So I was getting very disappointed here and that made it harder, I'm sure.
Where was that finish line?? Why couldn't I see it?? Finally, a volunteer said, "see that banner ahead? That's the finish line!" I about wanted to cry. It was like a bad dream where you are running and running and running and you never get where you want to go! And then, just past the 13 mile mark, this guy I passed earlier comes up and grabs my hand and thinks we are running in together hand in hand. Whoa, if you can run faster fine, but otherwise, let go! He was seriously slowing me down and no way did I want this taking longer! I finally said, I need my hand, and broke loose and started pumping my arms and picking up the pace and got ahead (away) from him! And then finally, that sweet sound of my chip going off! I was DONE!
And then I saw my friend Elisa handing out medals and she was so happy for me, saying I wasn't last after all, etc. And then there was Jan and Chia and I felt bad having Jan stand out in the wind and freeze waiting for me, but she said she was okay. Her time? 2:05. Fantastic. Chia thought her time was about 2:35, also very good, considering this was one hill of a race! My time: 2:44:32, about 26 seconds faster than Louisville, on one of the hardest race courses I have done.
I am trying to look at the good here in my performance, and for the most part I think I did well, all things considered. Of course, I'm disappointed my time wasn't faster, but again, I have to make some comparisons with other races, and considering the difficulty, I think I did okay.