Sunday, May 31, 2009


"But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:29-30.

For some reason, whenever I am last in a race, I am first in my age group. A definite paradox.

And so the tradition continued at the 26th Seahorse Challenge triathlon. I haven't done an Olympic distance triathlon since one week before my bike accident in 2006, even though I have done several sprints since then and two longer distance triathlons, including a half IM in 2008, and lots of running events. But with training going the way it has been going, and with a vacation imminent, I really wanted to get a race in before I left for Yellowstone on June 9. Seahorse was there, waiting for me to bring up the rear once again.

I'm not complaining. I did exactly what I planned to do today. And its not that I am that slow or even was the last one technically (one younger dude was slower than me, but starting in a wave ahead of me, so of course he wasn't last to finish). Its just that these people are so freaking fast! As an example, the woman in the age group ahead of me, who will be in my age group next year, was more than an hour ahead of me--and she has had 2 hip replacements! Don't ever say never!
And I won't bore you about all the pre-race details, other than to mention that when pumping up my tires the valve stem end broke off, leaving me with an immediate flat tire. Anyone who knows me, knows I wish there was a AAA for bike help, because there just isn't any way I can change a flat tire under pressure, if at all. The guy parked next to me offered his help: "Its easy; it will only take you 10 minutes." Right! More like 2 hours, if I'm lucky! Seeing I would get no sympathy or help from this jerk, I decided to wheel my bike up to transition and beg for mercy from the bike shop people I knew (was hoping) were there to help in these situations. And I wasn't disappointed. Not only did I get my tire changed, but the angel adjusted my brakes that have been rubbing lately, and I was good to go!

The only other thing I'll mention is that it was cold, like 45 degrees cold. The fact that the water was at least 20 degrees warmer made it that much more tolerable, because once I got in the water, it was like bathwater compared to the air, and my feet slowly thawed out. Since I wasn't able and didn't want to get in the water ahead of time, and since we had almost 2 minutes before our wave started after the one ahead of us, I figured that was good enough. It was SO easy to get used to the water, because like I said, it was like getting into a hot tub after standing on the icy cold wet grass for 30+ minutes. I tested out my goggles to be sure they didn't leak and to get that first initial face in the water moment out of the way, and while the goggles did leak, I figured I just needed to adjust them slightly, even though they NEVER leak otherwise.

And then we were off, and the goggles not only leaked--like not just a dribble--but both lenses totally filled up with water immediately! WTF??? Still, I continued on, messing with and adjusting them as I went along, to no avail. I tried shutting my eyes, and doing a hit or miss type of swim, but after about 50 yards of this, I knew this wouldn't work long term and had to do something to fix the goggles. Not only could I not see at all, but I was afraid of losing the contacts, and then I would be totally screwed. So I did what they told us to do in the prerace meeting, I put my hand up, and eventualy a guy on a surfboard made his way to me. I told him my goggles were leaking bad and I needed to adjust them. I took them off, put them back on and then he noticed that my swim cap was pulled down far enough that it was preventing my goggles from properly sealing, so after adjusting the swim cap, I put the goggles back on, tested them, and again, I was good to go! Who would have thought??

Of course this also meant I was about 75 yards behind the next closest person, but one advantage? I had NO ONE to get in my way! Woo hoo! This was actually one of my best swims, because I wasn't all stressed and panicked from someone being in my personal space. I swam hard and strong and only had a few guys lap me from the earlier wave, since this was 2 loops, and I actually passed one woman in my wave before the end and beat her by over a minute! While my swim was somewhat slower than I had hoped, it was still within the range of making my goal and making me happy besides.

And then it was time to head to transition. Why is it all the swim to bike transitions have a steep hill to climb out of the water? This was the case, and I just decided to hike up rather than run, until I got to the top and then I trotted across the mat and down the swim to bike chute into transition. I didn't have much problem finding my bike, since it was one of the last on the racks, and like usual, my swim to bike transition was pretty slow, around 5 minutes. But in my defense, it was about 600 meters from the water to my bike, so I wasn't concerned. Especially when I saw I wasn't the last person in my wave nor was I slower than she was in transition. That was a first for me!

On to the bike. Oh yeah, slow swim chick passed me on the bike in the first mile. Whatever! And just as I was thinking what a dream bike course this was--lots of downhills, slight grade uphills-- we turned back. Up hill. For more than a mile. Up and up and up we climbed, with my speed going from 27 mph on the downhills to a "brisk" 8.4 mph on the up. I had forgotten this from years past. I knew there was one long upgrade (like Don said, a false flat. NOT!) but I didn't remember it was more than a mile.

And of course, here I was being passed over and over and over again by dudes 30 and younger, all calling out: Good job! Great race! You can do it! Boys, don't patronize me! Just because I'm old enough to be your mom, so what?? STFU!

And then I started thinking of the pre-race "101" talk where they described the bike course as "flat to rolling with one big climb." Define flat. Was flat at the bottom of a screaming downhill, or maybe it was at the top of the grinding uphill? Either way, I was left to ponder this definition through the 2 loops I had to make for the "challenge" course.

And there was also a mention of "very little traffic on this course." Again, define "very little traffic." Did that include the 2 semis, 1 tanker, 47 motorcyles, and 250 other assorted cars, trucks, and campers that blew past me most of the way??? If so, I guess that means little or no traffic. Maybe in your world, where you bike at 20+ mph and are done in a litle more than an hour. But not for me! I can't wait until you hit your 50s!!!!

Once I passed the race start and began my second l0op, I pretty much knew I was alone out there. And it was obvious. While there was the sherifff's dept. at the intersections, there were no volunteers left between those spots on the bike. Again, this might be a plus, since now I had the WHOLE bike course to my self. But again, my main goal was to reach 14.5 mph and I did that and then some, so I am good with that.

Another first for me: 2:20 on the bike to run transition. It just went well. Nothing more I can say. I think what helped here was they kept people out of transition once they were off their bikes until the last biker (me) came in.

I had no expectations for the run course, but once I started out, I realized that my legs didn't feel that bad! So the plan was to keep going until I had to stop. Which never really happened. Which was really great for me. It isn't an easy course: 90% of it is trails, and not the groomed type of trail but the type where they mark all the roots and rocks for you to hopefully not trip over. Such was not the case for me when I tripped on whatever I have no idea and went sailing about 5 feet, somewhere after the 3 mile mark.

Here, again, I just picked myself, dusted myself off, and contiued, hoping for no injuries. I think my hands and right foot took the brunt of it, and fortunately it wasn't cement. Another thing that helped keep me going was the fact that while it was sunny out, most of it was shaded being trails, and the temperature was only in the low to mid 60s so I never felt wiped out from the heat. In fact, I had thrown on a long-sleeved wick away lightweight shirt for the bike and never even took it off for the run! I actually wonder if it helped keep me cooler, since it kept the sun off my skin. It was barely damp by the end so you know I wasn't sweating much.
I was also starting to realize that here the Chi running and the heart rate training finally paid off. I used my body lean for momentum in the run that helped keep me moving forward, and I was able to control my breathing through my pacing so I wasn't feeling stressed or worn out.
By the time I started my second loop here, a lot of people were leaving, so now I had to dodge people with their bikes and families, since one part of the run course was on the park road leaving the park. But soon I was back in the woods, now watching more carefully so I didn't fall again. I stopped at every water stop, drank a glass of water, and continued on. Every water stop doubled on the way out and on the way back, so by the time I did my last loop in the woods, I told the kids they could leave now! At this point too, I was basically not thinking of anything except keep moving forward, watch where you are running, try not to fall. But I can't say I wasn't more than thrilled or thankful when I knew I was within minutes of finishing. I could hear the awards going on so knew I was close to the end. The last 1/4 mile is up hill but I just plugged along and when I got to the top of the hill sprinted through the finish chute. I felt great!
And once again, I "won" my age group before I even finished! It was a given though. I was the only one. All I had to do was show up and finish, both of which I did.
All of my goals for the day were met: the first was to finish. Did that. The second one was to come in at 4 hours or better. Also did that. In ffact it was a PR over my last official olympic distance tri by about 6 minutes. The third was to have fun and feel good by the end. Did that!
After, I met up with Jan, who had done the sprint. Jan took 2nd in her age group. All she said was "It was hard!" Tell me about it!
Now, on to the next race!

Short report for now: PR, 1st in AG! Woo hoo!

Distances: 1500 meter swim; 24.9 mile bike; 6.5 mile run: 3:51:37.

Despite some near disasters, it went well, I felt good, I did what I wanted. Now I need to get a shower and shop for groceries so I can come home and collapse!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I'm sure we all have foods that don't agree with us, either in everyday life or when in training mode.

I should have known better. I DO know better! But in a moment of weakness....what can I say??

Still, after an exceptional training weekend and the luxury of a whole day off without having to work, swim, bike, or run, I went a little crazy.

For me, there are 3 no-nos when it comes to what I absolutely cannot eat or drink when training:

First: watermelon. Much as I love it, it goes right through me! And after my long ride Sunday, I had brought a tub of it in a cooler and pigged out on it!

Second: Red wine. One of my weaknesses, but again, doesn't mix with training. While I don't get hungover or sick, if I drink more than 2 glasses (and I have to confess--I did), same thing the next day. Goes right through me.

Last but not least: Chocolate, and in this case a Dairy Queen Dilly Bar was the food of choice. This after 3 hours at the zoo in the hot sun with 2 infants and 1 toddler (and thankfully their parents!). Another no-no for me in training.

But, mix all 3 together and you get a deadly mix. I honestly could not go out to run this morning. I didn't dare! And even if I thought about taking a chance, I used up all my extra time in the bathroom! I distinctly remember doing the same thing last year just before a race, and have pretty much abstained since.

All that training went to my head I guess! What do you avoid when training??

Sunday, May 24, 2009


One thing I love about holiday weekends is that even after getting in all the required training, which basically takes up the whole weekend, I still get a day off work following that!
And I have to say, the training went very well! It started with a 25 mile bike ride on Friday. Not necessarily the best weather, but not windy or raining, so that's saying quite a bit for around here lately. I rode easy so as to not trash the legs because Saturday was going to be a 2 hour run followed by a mile swim, but still came in around 1:42.
Saturday I promised myself I would go for a long run, something I have neglected somewhat the last 2 weeks. Even if was going to be ugly, it had to get done. It was overcast all day but again, no wind or rain. The whole 2 hours out there, I think the sun peaked out only a couple of times. And I ran on the opposite side of the river, just to check out the flooding status. I'm glad to say that most of it is dry, with very little sand or debris left behind. And completely shaded on that side of the river, making it my new route for long runs this summer. I made it the whole 2 hours, with not much discomfort, so that was a bonus. After, it was a 1 mile swim, which felt fairly easy also.
After that, grocery shopping, so by the time I got home it was 4:00 and I was completely wiped out and sore! I wanted to lay around for the whole night in the worst way. I was so tired, I barely wanted to eat dinner, something that never happens with me unless I'm sick. All in all a good sore and tired though.
On the training agenda for today (Sunday) was a 50 mile ride. I wasn't sure how that would go, considering how tired and sore I was from Saturday, but again, I needed to accomplish this ride and wanted to push hard to boost my confidence.
One thing I love about these long rides, whether I go with someone or go alone, is that it gives me lots of time to figure out training plans and strategy for the summer. And going out, the ride is a breeze. Coming back you have to work, what with the wind and a slight upgrade, and while my average speed did drop, I pushed myself the last 10 miles to bring it back up some. I am at the point where racing mode is kicking in, and I am trying to get that tough training mindset I need to start seeing my numbers go up. Today's effort brought me close to what my Steelhead ride was last August, so that gave my confidence the boost it needed. Could I run after? I doubt it. But that's another lesson for another training day!
Now its time to get some laundry done, an unpleasant by-product of a week's worth of training, and something that never seems to get done! The rest of the weekend is R&R. Hope everyone is having a great weekend too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Yes, its really that hot here--today anyway. Frost on Sunday and Monday, beach weather today. See why we get so frustrated with the weather here?? Its always on our minds. As athletes, its something we have to take into account every day. I keep thinking of how easy it was in Mexico this past winter, just to get up, get dressed in shorts, and go run. And later go for a swim in the Carribbean. We're lucky if its warm enough in Lake Michigan to swim in July! And I know some of you others in the north and my Canadian friends have the same problem. Does it make us better athletes? Maybe tougher, not sure how much better.

Personally, if I could ride or run whenever I wanted, or almost whenever, I think I would be a better athlete. Not having to stay inside in the winter (I know that's a choice I make, but I'm pretty sure a lot of us northerners spend at least some time inside), I'm pretty sure my biking skills would be far better with a little more continuity throughout the year.

So let's get on with the training! It looks like we are actually going to get a decent weekend here and I for one intend to get some serious riding in! Good luck to all those racing! Hope you get great weather and have great races too!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Maybe fooling Mother Nature isn't the right term. More like taking matters into my own hands.
It seems like every weekend since the snow has melted we've had nothing but rain, wind, or cold or a combination of any of them. I for one have gotten pretty sick of it, rearranging workouts or even not getting the full workout in or doubling up sometimes when its not practical to do so, just in an effort to get the training in. I was starting to really get irritated--and burned out--with this, watching the beautiful weather during the week, when I'm stuck inside, pass me by, only to have to ride in the cold and wind or run in the rain and cold. It seemed like no mercy was being shown, and making me doubt my ability to being ready for the races I am planning so far. I've already had to move deadlines ahead because of the weather messing with my workouts.
So that got me to thinking, after once again seeing the weekend weather forecast, that maybe it would make more sense to take a work day off and try to get in a good long ride or run, rather than doubling everything up on the weekend because of the crap weather.
Yesterday, that's what I did. Its been slow at work for the past couple of weeks anyway, so it made more sense to take the day off to do something constructive rather than sit around trying to look busy. I've been wanting to get in a long ride outside in the worst way for weeks now, so Friday looked like it would finally be the day. I went into work early, planning to leave by 11. (Who says you can't get 8 hours worth of work done in 4??). But once again, my plans were almost ruined. Rain was moving in, and the radar showed it was already just south of us. With any luck, it would continue tracking south, and that's what happened, thankfully.
I hit the bike trail just before noon, heading west toward the big lake (Lake Michigan). Usually when we are getting storms, they come over the lake and the northwest lakeshore cities usually get hit first. But with the southern tracking of the rain, I figured I would be safe to try the whole 50.
And you know how they say if it seems to be too good to be true it usually is? That's what this ride was going to be. Too good to be true--on the way out. I honestly couldn't believe when I had hit the halfwaypoint (25 miles) and the ride still felt effortless. Without pushing it at all, I was cruising at 15.5-17 mph, which is fast for me. A little voice started nagging at me around 20 miles that I was probably going to pay for this on the way back, but still I continued on. If nothing more, I wanted to keep moving to hopefully avoid any rain that might be lurking. It was totally overcast, about 65 degrees, but the sky wasn't getting any darker, so I felt relatively confident the rain would hold off.
As expected, when I turned to go back--WIND! Sigh. Its just always going to be that way so I'm learning to deal with it. So I went from averaging 16 mph down to 13.4, with speeds as low as 10.5, on the return leg. Still, it wasn't as bad as usual, and as luck would have it, the rain held off until I was in the car driving home. And while this wasn't the fastest 50 I've done, it was pretty close, and months earlier than last time.
Today was supposed to be my long ride, and waking up it was raining and windier than ever! Smart move on my part!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


To drink that is. In races especially, but when does that actually ever happen? I've been in races where I KNOW they put the gatorade and water out the night before and then it sits all morning in the hot sun. (I have to wonder if this is why some people get sick on gatorade?? That and the haphazard way they mix it.)

Anyway, for training, I am always looking for ways to keep cool, and having cold, cold water to drink helps. For the bike and run, I always freeze water bottles, and for the most part the water on the bike stays cold almost all the way through at least 50 mile rides even on the hottest days. But I'd been using Polar bottles, which I haven't been that fond of because when frozen, they are hard to open and harder yet to squeeze to get anything out of while moving. This usually results in me not drinking much if anything unless I stop. And the latest models have this loop on the cover which is really annoying. So I've really been looking for something better.
And I know others use the camelbacks that fit on their backs, but for me its just not something I'm willing to use. Except this new Camelback bottle I recently found and tried.
Not only is is less rigid than the Polar bottle, it also doesn't leak if the spout is open and it tips over. And its BPA free. The only drawback I can see right now is it doesn't hold quite as much as the Polar bottle. And so far I haven't been able to locate one in a hand-held model, but I'll keep looking.
So that's my public service announcement for today. Hope this information comes in useful for someone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I know other bloggers out there are complaining about the weather too, and once again the all too familiar rainy/windy/cold (your choice) weekend was upon us.
Saturday was our annual 25k, Fifth Third Riverbank Run. In my previous post, I had said I had decided not to do the race this year for various reasons, and I was SO happy I had made that decision and hadn't backed down from it. Saturday's weather--mainly during the race time--was torrential rain again, even though the weather report that morning from the race site was for "clearing skies but windy." It wasn't even raining then but 5 minutes before the race was to start, I looked out the window, just about ready to start my own run, and it was pouring! My friend Jan had gone ahead and signed up and she said it was worse than the year she did Boston in the Nor'easter. So yeah, it was bad. Not sorry I had to miss out on that.
So I waited around for an hour, busying myself with straightening up around the house, laundry (which never is done), and making a shopping list for later. Surely it would clear up by then. But the rain continued, and not just showery type rain but a hard, steady rain. The wind hadn't really even started yet, but I couldn't quite bring myself to go out in that.
I decided then to do a trainer ride and a short run, figuring if I absolutely had to I could hop on the treadmill. So I cranked out 20 miles, using my training DVD, and as luck would have it, the rain had stopped by the time I got done so had no excuses not to go out and run.
I took my time, however, since I needed to do a full change of clothing to dry outdoor gear, layering because by now the temperature had also dropped AND the wind was making its appearance. But the sun was sort of out. My hair was still soaking wet from sweat, but I just stuck a hat on and headed out.
I expected my legs to be dead, but surprisingly, I made it almost the entire 3 miles without stopping, except to wait for traffic and once when the HR monitor went about 10 beats over my max, just long enough to get it down. I have really been practicing keeping a steady, if slow, running pace to keep the HR from getting out of control and I'm seeing some real improvement.
Now if only I could have a 20 minute transition for every race! I really think it would even itself out--short transition, walk more; long transition, walk less. Hmm, what do you think?
The long run still had to be done, and much as I didn't want to do it on Mother's Day, I got myself out the door and managed to run a slow and not so easy 7 miles. I was feeling the fatigue from the day before I guess, and at one point I wanted to be done in the worst way, but I did push through that and only ended up doing one extra minute of walking on a really long hill near the end.
And I expected this so had turned my phone off--calls from the kids. Couldn't they have called the night before to make plans? I'm not complaining, just saying....
It was a nice Mother's Day. Saw all the kids except one who lives out of state; had to go to the cemetery for my mom; saw my sister; got to see all the moms I needed to and wanted to spend the day with.
Time to now sign up for a couple of more races! Will it be raining? Will it be windy? Will it be cold?

Friday, May 08, 2009


A new woman has started coming to the gym. I don't know her name but have seen her around the last week or two. I always seem to be just going into the pool as she is just finishing up whatever it is she does, so I haven't talked to her much.

Morning workout people are scarce at my gym, especially women. I don't know why, since it means only requiring one shower a day, gives you the best parking spots, and avoids the crowds of lunch or after work.

Today I ran into her as she was leaving and I was just exiting the pool, so we chatted briefly (I still didn't get her name). The thing she said that stuck in my mind as being so true, for me anyway, is, "this is the best time of the day, isn't it?" (for working out) "You are done with your exercise and shower, and feel so good."

I had to agree with her 100%. Working out in the morning really is the best time of the day!

On the agenda for tomorrow: 2 hour 15 min. run; 1 hour swim. Then? Hopefully no rain and I can get in the garden and start with some cleanup. This is a down training week so no long bike this weekend. Works out great, considering Sunday is mother's day. While my mom is gone now, I have other mothers in my life with whom I will celebrate.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


One reason Saturday's Fifth Third River Bank Run 25k will have a major course change for the first time since I started running the race. Also, if anyone has ever run the Grand Rapids Marathon, you would also have to run through here.

I cannot believe just how much flooding we have had this year! It started back at the end of December/early January, subsided, and has been off and on again since the snow has melted.

This year I am not doing the 25k. It will be the first time in longer than I can remember that I won't be doing this race. This was my goal when I first started running back in 1988, to run this race by the next year, which I did. But this year, I've decided to skip the race. First, its a hard distance to train for unless you totally keep up on your run mileage all winter. And since I pretty much have turned to inside running once the snow falls, I usually use that time as running downtime and drop back some on the running, not wanting to do all those long runs on the treadmill. Realistically then, for me it means I only have about 4-6 weeks to effectively train for 25k (15.5) miles. I have done it but it never turns out a good thing.

So I decided to free myself of the guilt of missing the run because I have bigger races to think about. I want to stick to my training. And, I only have so many free weekends to get my planting and yard work done. (I thought I said I was freeing myself of guilt??)

So, no, I'm not running the race this year.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Cycling: 160 Miles (outside miles)
Time: 16:58:11 Of course, this does not reflect that at least half of this time was spent on the trainer without logging miles before I got the new bike computer setup that would log miles on the trainer. Next month should be more accurate.

Running: 60.6 Miles
Time: 11:57:14. This is a gradual increase over the past 3 months and hit my target goal of 60 miles for the month or at least 15 miles per week.

Strength Training: 4 times

Swimming: 14.34 Miles or 25,238.40 yards or 23,078 meters
Time: 10:37:30. This is probably the hardest of the 3 disciplines to achieve. Not that I can't swim well enough or like doing it, its just tedious, going lap after lap after lap. I am trying not to lose my mind over this. I am looking forward, soon I hope, to getting in open water (once the flooding is over and the water warms up enough to not get hypothermia or cause me to hyperventilate). Here's just one picture of the flooded bike/running path around the river:

See what I mean about ducks in puddles everywhere!

Add to that core work almost daily and my fitness level is coming along. Consistent, steady progress will help me when I do this race, which is July 11. I had first intended to do this race, because of the closer proximity to home, but it really is too early of a season race for me when living in the snow belt and not having the cycling base I needed anyway. And then this family trip came up, and we'll be leaving that same weekend. I really didn't want a repeat from last year's half IM race and leaving immediately the next day for a family vacation that pretty much left me no recovery time. Sitting in the car for 16 hours a day after a race like that was very hard on me.

Rearranging my schedule to accommodate the family vacation means basically that I now again have almost 12 weeks to train for Muncie. I'm on week 8 of my 12 week program, which I finish up toward the end of this month. With a little more rearranging, but increasing intensity, I might be able to manage this race on May 31, then have a week to recover, one last weekend to get in some quality training, and then leave for Yellowstone.

I am hoping by pacing myself but keeping up consistent training that I won't get burned out before I do this race later this year.