Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They're back...and it's awesome

This is a post from Mike, (Marmadaddy), over on Beginner Triathlete. Mike is one of THE principal guys on BT. He has given me permission to reprint his post. It was a great reminder to me of the importance of not being too full of oneself. ENJOY!

As happens every year around this time, over the next few days we should start to see posts from people making observations about their gyms, particularly how crowded they are with new people.

A couple of years back I posted the following in response to some of those observations. It has become something of a tradition that I re-post it in order to add a little perspective to what will surely be stressful and inconvenient in the coming weeks for many of us.

We're endurance athletes. We train all year not only outside, but also at the gym and the pool. We can expect some serious crowding in both places for the next few weeks. It happens every year.

Suddenly we have to add 30 minutes to our scheduled gym time because of the "resolutionists."

There are no parking places. When you do manage to find one and get to the locker room 10 minutes behind schedule, there aren't any lockers available and the door is blocked by someone trying to remember the way to the weight room.

In there, the machines you need to use are all occupied by people in new track suits pushing too much weight with truly horrible form. The bubbler is blocked by someone who is trying hard not to look totally out of their element.

You can't get in the pool because it's jammed with people using pull buoys on their arms and kickboards as flotation devices. Half the lanes have people with no goggles and baggy swim trunks down to their knees who can't swim an entire lap.

The whole freakin' place is filled with...with...


It's one of my favorite sights. I've never been in a place more full of hope than a gym during the first week of January. It's a place full of people giving action to their dreams. People who for that day are making an effort to be fit, to improve themselves, to live a better quality of life.

The effort and courage it takes them to get there that morning is huge. It certainly exceeds what it takes me. I know where everything is. I know the pool etiquette. I know what my workout is going to be and how to use the machines.  I'm not the least bit embarrassed to take my shirt off in the locker room. This is routine for me.

These new people will be showing a lot of courage and determination by going to the gym in the next few weeks and they'll deserve my respect. They'll get it.

It wasn't that long ago that I was one of them. During the next few weeks I'll be making an effort to help some of these people feel a little less uncomfortable. Maybe make eye contact with some of them, be ready to give a nod or say hello.

Once we're halfway into February, the crowds will be gone. Parking will be easy. Machines will be available again. The wait at the pool will go away. We know this. We're endurance athletes. We know the reward that comes from sticking through the hard parts.

And from helping others through them.

Here's a link to the post on BT. If you haven't checked out BT, you are - plain and simply - missing out. Happy Gym-Going, Lora.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's on your tri Christmas list?

As the jingle bells become louder and the warm weather has completely bid its adieu to us for the year, our lives naturally turn towards Christmas.

So, when Gary asked me to put together a list of things I wanted, these are the tri-related items I shared with him.
  • Garmin Forerunner 305
  • Nashbar Fluid Trainer
  • Renewal membership to the local tri club
  • Renewal membership to USAT
  • Triathlete's Training Bible
  • Subscription to Inside Triathlon magazine
  • Body Glide
This got me to wondering what you have on your triathlete wish list. Whether you've given subtle, or not so subtle hints, now's your chance to tell the world what you really want for Christmas.

Let's hear it!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wow! I didn't expect THAT!

I registered for a Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving morning. I wanted to go in to lunch with a big appetite and a little freedom to indulge more than usual.

They were also sponsoring a 10K. Since I'm well-trained for that distance, too, I signed up for it.  Afterall, three more miles would equal twice the freedom to indulge.

The race itself was great. It was about 40 degrees, sunny and through some beautiful parts of town. I ran the whole race with a girl named Shelli. We had the same pace and kept each other motivated.

Around the four-mile mark, I started getting strong hunger pains, making me long for Thanksgiving lunch even more.  Directly after the race, I was able to eat two mini bagels to help alleviate the immediate hunger.

I drove home, put some corn on the stove while I changed clothes, and Gary and I headed over to his aunt's. After the prayer was given, I loaded up my plate and began eating.  This was the moment I'd been dreaming of for weeks.

I like to take my time eating, savoring every bite, but I found myself eating very, very slowly. I was enjoying the tastes of the food, but I wasn't very hungry. I did eventually go have seconds, but I waited about 30 minutes before doing so. I ate that food very slowly, too.

I certainly did not expect THAT to happen to me. I was expecting this race to create a partnership between my hunger and the wonderful food that would mollify it.  Instead, it created a cool distance between the two, one that left me disappointed that I couldn't fully enjoy my favorite holiday of the year.

From what I understand, it can be hard to eat solid foods after long distances, but six miles is hardly a long distance, so I don't know exactly what was up with my physiology that day.

However, next year I'll just schedule a long training day the day before Thanksgiving and skip any Turkey Trots. The relationship between my appetite and a Thanksgiving feast is something that is way too important.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The way things ought to be

Every day should be sunny. Every day should have temperatures in the 70s. Every day I should feel motivated to train. Every day should be injury free. Every day I should have time to train. Every day I should be able to have a productive workout.

That's the way things outta be.

That is, however, not the way things are.

Each Monday the last few weeks, I've felt like that was going to be the week that I would get back into my training routine. Well, it never happened.

Tonight, this new Monday, my anticipation of 70 degree temperatures, coupled with the feeling of my loose jeans not being nearly quite as loose, would serve as perfect motivation to get me out and running. It was on!

The office door closed behind me at 5:30 p.m. Instead of a somewhat sunny sky greeting me, a pink sunset fading behind the shadowy horizon was my welcoming landscape. "Oh, crap" I managed to mutter as I shuffled to my car, completely devastated about the potential of my dream run.

Not totally wanting to give up hope, I thought, "I can just immediately go home and throw on different clothes and running shoes and at least spend 5 minutes running in some light."

But because negative thoughts are skilled at reaching further within your mind and becoming buddies with the other negative thoughts that had been just below the surface, I began to think about all the things I had to do this evening that would destroy the run totally. I absolutely had to have tonight more dog food (a trip to TSC) and coffee for tomorrow morning (a second trip, this one to Wal Mart). I should probably make dinner, but I've got a pile of dishes to clean...yada, yada, yada.

A little background: Up until a few months ago, I worked from home. I could do all of my training during the day if I wanted...and I did want.

I've since gone back to work full time and I'm completely happy about it. I've got a dream job that challenges and excites me and I really enjoy the people with whom I work. Now that it's darker in the evenings, I'm just having a harder time adjusting.

I do know that I will win this battle. When I started working full time again this summer, I was faced with the challenge of training in the evenings instead of during the day - and it was beautiful and sunny in the evenings!

I struggled with finding my motivation for a bit, but then I eventually found my groove. Now that it's darker out, life has just decided to shake things up a bit.

Though I've realized it in parts before, it really hit me as I pulled into Wal Mart that perfect circumstances rarely line up, that they are the exception, not the rule, and it is working around the things that won't work around you that are the keys to moving forward. Finding opportunity in the unscheduled, erratic demands of life is what I need to remember as I head into the dark, cold and quiet winter.

You know, at the end of the day it comes down to me answering one very simple question: "Do you want to train or don't you?" The answer is easily, "Yes, I do!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Your results are in

Thanks to all of you who voted in the off-season poll, and to those of you who left such great comments. Here are the final results:
  • 44% of you will be focusing on your weakest event.
  • 22% of you will be doing something other than what was listed.
  • 16% of you will be increasing training intensity.
  • 8% of you say, "What off-season?"
  • 4% of you will be decreasing training intensity but focusing on something else like yoga.
  • 4% of you will have 2010 as your first season.
Already I've found myself not living up to my goal of focusing on my weakest event: swimming. I like running so much, and it's easier to get ready for than a swim, that I just go out and do it instead of hitting the pool.

In my defense, though, there are only a few milder days of fall left, so I'm trying to take advantage of them by being outside. There will be plenty of cold days ahead to go and warm up in a pool. I will actually start heading to the pool more here in the next couple weeks.

Again, thanks for your votes and for your comments. Have a wonderful next week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I want to hear from you

As I head into the off season, my last race of the season complete and in the books, I have been thinking about what I'm going to do over the next few months. Having specific race goals for the next season, I strongly believe, is the biggest factor in how we triathletes plan our winters.

With this in mind, I'm considering an early season half-iron distance race, but definitely either doing the Cedar Point Rev3 half or even pushing for the full at the end of next season. So, for me, I have to start getting much faster in the pool.

Now, I completely understand that tris aren't won or lost in the pool, but when you're such a slow swimmer you can barely make that cut-off time, being stronger on the bike and run becomes moot.

Here's a stat to back me up: In my last tri, a 1,000 yard swim, my pace was 2:48/100 yards. If I could knock 30 seconds off of that I would be happy. If I could knock off one minute, I'd do cartwheels in my front yard.

So, as I think about my own winter plans, I was curious to see what everyone else is doing. At the top, right part of this blog, you'll find a poll. Please take a second to vote, then drop me a line to let me know what you think. If you clicked "Other", let us know what that is.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Courage waiting to be summoned

Someone once said that if you find yourself needing courage, that means that you must be in an extraordinary circumstance at that moment. (Thank you, http://www.quirkyredliner.blogspot.com/.)

No one needs courage while brushing his or her teeth, brewing coffee or taking the dogs for a walk. Though, of course, if you would see the size of my dogs, you might suppose that I would, indeed, need it.
No, courage isn't particularly an everyday-use item. It is only useful in the face of something formidable, be it dealing with another person, taking on a new challenge or finishing a triathlon for the first time, especially when you started with zero experience.
Even though Sunday's race was my first Olympic distance triathlon (.6-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 6-mile run), I'd been beating myself up for not being stronger and faster to make the swim and bike cut-offs for the half-iron distance race that same day.
Being so slow on the swim would cramp into the bike time, leaving me with needing almost another hour on the bike. Crunching the numbers meant that - at the end of the day - I just wasn't ready. If I were within striking distance, I would have pushed hard, using my body's adrenaline as an ally...but I wasn't.
Though there was no disputing these hard, rational numbers, the emotional part of me wondered if I just wasn't mustering enough courage. Did I still have the fire in the belly? I wouldn't need to wonder much longer.
The wind was fierce on this very overcast morning; the air temperature chilly enough to make you long for the water's warmth. Every fierce chop of the gray water was sending a visible message to those of us on the shoreline: You'd better bring your best.
A couple hundred yards into my swim, even after getting into my groove, I became frightened for my life. (Check out this fellow participant's post about it at www.tridiesel.blogspot.com/2009/09/race-report.html.)

The chop was destroying me with every encounter.
I caught the attention of a boat close by and flagged the folks on there. A nice guy, Rick, jumped into the water in his wetsuit, bringing a flotation device. I told him I was seriously considering calling it quits, but as those words parted my lips, I realized how badly I wanted to finish, how I knew I could finish, how I did not want this to be the story to come from my day.
I thanked Rick, put my head back in the water and just kept swimming. Though I had to swim stronger to fight the current, I ended up having a better than expected swim time given my long pause in the beginning.
Just because I was done with the swim did not mean that the wind was done with me. It continued to beat me down on the bike, creating headwinds that rivaled those on this course last year during Landicane Ike. When I would begin to slow down, I would mutter to myself, "Every second counts, Lora!" and continued to push harder.
Less than a half-mile on the run, my legs heavy from the bike, I thought, "Oh, my gosh! How in the world am I going to run six miles? That's so far away!" I just focused on taking it one step at a time, trusting that everything would fall into place. It did.
As I got to the finish line, I heard a girl's voice come up from behind me. "Hey, let's do this. Let's finish strong," she said. We started speeding up some together. She went on to tell me that she'd been chasing me for two miles.
As we got even closer to the finish line, I was giving it everything I had, but I puttered out and she beat me. That's okay, though, for two reasons: 1) she wasn't in my race and 2) if I had not have sprinted that hard, I would be one rank lower overall because I beat the person behind me by two seconds. (Every second counts!)
I came in 119/128 overall and 4/4 in my age group. I really thought I would come in dead last, so I'm very pleased with my results.
Though I had called my own courage into question, even in the face of indisputable facts, conquering that swim and finishing that race made me realize that courage is never as out of reach as we usually think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Race day doesn't care about you

It was past time. Way past time.

I was heading out for my first - and long overdue - 50-mile bike the other Sunday. The temperature was in the mid nineties, and it seemed to be competing with the humidity for first place.

Gary and I were at my sister-in-law's visiting with the family after church. Nearly everyone was taking advantage of the pool's refreshing powers, but I needed to leave early to head out for my ride.

As I began to work my way around the patio saying my goodbyes, telling them why I needed to leave early, everyone insisted that I should be swimming instead and thought I was crazy for taking on such a task.

Swimming just might have been the wiser decision, but I had very few weeks left before my next tri to put-out some good bike mileage. I, quite simply, had not a smidgen of room to care what the weather was that day...because Race Day won't be caring about me.

Race Day doesn't care that I either am or am not prepared for the brutality with which it might treat me. It's going to be what it's going to be, in all of its limitless characters and shades, regardless of what, where or who I am at the time.

I thought of this on my next ride, a 30-miler heading south of town on a boring, overcast afternoon. I was feeling quite zippy for the first half of the ride. The moment I turned around to come home I immediately knew why. I'd had the fortune of a tailwind, that was now, due to the simple turning of my bike 180-degrees around, my enemy.

I thought, more than once, that I wish that I had been closer to home because I'd just call it quits. Then I was grateful that home was 15 miles away, because I was left with no choice but to toughen it out...and to toughen-up.

My next tri is on the same course as my second tri from last year where the headwinds became so brutal, according to a story a friend in the tri club told me yesterday, a several-time Kona qualifier called it quits. Of course, we were experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Ike, now also known as Landicane Ike, but that particular course, regardless of landicanes, is prone to headwinds.

So, here's to going out of your way to look for the unusual training day, because Race Day could care less about you, but you'd better be caring about it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

25 percent is my new favorite number

I had been dreaming about this day for one year. Ever since I crossed the finish line of my first tri June 28, 2008, I've been itching to return with a much-improved version of myself and floor it.
Mission accomplished.
Back at the scene of that life-changing day one year later, the distances were the same, but some things were different. From the yawning sun's color shimmering on the little waves along the lake, to the confidence that energized my soul, this was a day that would affirm that I don't just compete in triathlons, but that being a triathlete is just who I am.
Now, out with my cheesy melodrama and on with the stats.
Last year I came in 207/217 overall, 40/42 in my age group and finished the .25-mile swim, 12-mile bike and 2-mile run in 1 hour and 57 minutes. The swim took me 27 minutes, the bike 1 hour and the run 24 minutes.
This year I came in 166/396 overall, 28/61 in my age group and finished in 1 hour and 25 minutes. The swim took me 15 minutes, the bike 45 minutes and the run 21 minutes.
My swim and bike times were pretty much dead-on with what I'd expected, but my run was disappointing. I can easily drop below a 9-minute mile on a 2-mile run, so I remain completely perplexed by what happened. However, my overall goal was to come in under 1 hour and 30 minutes and I did.
So, when you look at the overall times from last year to this year, approximately, I took 25 percent off my time. What an incredible PR for me and what a confidence booster as I continue on with my half-ironman training.
Wait. I'm doing a half-ironman? Uh, gotta go!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I went to a tri Sunday...as a volunteer

A friend of mine on Beginner Triathlete volunteered at a tri last year and she inspired me to consider doing the same.

So, I picked a tri that was early-on in the season that I knew there would be no way I'd race because the water would be cold, contacted the racing company and signed-up.

It was the Deer Creek Tri and Du and it's the same course where my half iron distance race will be in September, so I thought it couldn't hurt to visit the site again.

I was there at 6:00 a.m. and the volunteer coordinator put me in charge - with two other ladies - of registration. I thought they might have more seasoned volunteers run that part, but after taking care of the first person, I realized it was a piece of cake...and I had a blast doing it!

I loved greeting sleepy-headed people with a warm smile and a hello, and wishing them the best as I handed them their race packets. I especially loved seeing the excitement in a participant's face when they would tell me this was their first race - and I loved giving them some extra encouragement as I pointed to where they'd get their timing chip and body markings.

The lines were really long and it took us exactly two hours to get everyone signed-in. However, there were approximately 500 participants and we actually spent about 30 seconds with each person, so I thought it went very fast.

After that, we started setting up the post-race food tables and I pretty much helped to manage that until noon when we were dismissed. It was great talking with folks about how they thought their race went, and to just talk about tris in general without the stress of having just raced myself.

I always thank the volunteers, especially on the course. However, as a volunteer, you're so busy you forget that there will be folks who will stop and thank you, so that was always a pleasant surprise when someone did.

It ended-up being a very fun day and - if I wasn't busy racing these events - I would be volunteering instead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Half iron distance training - so far

I'm on week four out of 22 of my half iron distance training. The first two weeks went really well. I managed to meet all of my requirements and was having a good time doing so.

Week three came along, and I managed to injure my knees. I attribute this injury to:

1) running slowly to meet the requirements for low RPE runs really messed with my ChiRunning form,
2) running with the dogs, again, messed with said running form,
3) possibly needing a new pair of running shoes as a couple areas of my feet are tender and

4) pushing really, really hard off the pool wall.

So, I've taken the last week off of running and this has helped some in easing the physical pain. It has, however, left me frustrated and a little despondent. Week two of this and I've already got an injury? Yeesh!

Now, the good news. This past weekend, I had an opportunity to take a total break and travel to Erie, PA. I thought traveling would be a nice reprieve from my training blues. I can't run but I can bike, so I loaded-up my two-wheeler into the SUV.

I debated on whether or not to bring it. Would it be too much trouble? Would I have time to ride it? If I had time, would I even ride it?

I am so glad that I brought it along! I had about a 20-mile, relaxing ride on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the beach. It was dead flat and completely enjoyable!

The smell of the water, the slapping of the choppy blue waves, the strong wind off the shoreline and the energy from a couple hundred other bikers and runners really rejuvenated my spirits.

So, I'm back home now. I still think I need to take another week off from running, so I'm going to really focus on the bike and the swim.

Though this injury's slowed me down, I'm still working toward that finish line come September 27.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Miami University Student Foundation Sprint Triathlon - 4/18/09

Packet pick-up started at 6:00 a.m. I was there at 5:30, just to make sure that I'd have time to 1) find the place, 2) get a good parking space by the Transition Area and 3) have extra time in general. (That's me at the table in the white ballcap on the left.)

I went to pick-up my packet and only had to wait 5 minutes. The only race number they were giving out was a wrist band to wear for all three events. I thought this was unusual, but I was grateful that I didn't have to pin anything to my tri top.

I set-up in Transition, getting the spot closest to the aisle. The early bird gets the worm. I found a couple friends from the tri club and hung out with them for a few minutes.

I put on my swim cap and goggles, took off my shoes and all clothes but my trisuit and bolted for the rec center entrance. It was in the upper thirties and my feet were freezing against the sidewalk underneath them.

I then spotted the folks from Beginner Triathlete (BT) poolside, and we all chatted until numbers started getting called. (That's me in the gray swim cap on the left below.)

This was a 50 meter indoor pool. You started at one end, swam that lane to the end, touched the wall, swam under the lane rope into the next lane and repeated this seven times. The lanes were very wide.

This was my first indoor pool swim. This was also my first tri without noseclips, and I'm proud to say not having them caused me no problems.

When I first got in, I had a shock because the water was so cold. After a few seconds I adjusted and got in my groove. During the second set of 50, doubt started creeping in, though it was just for one second, as I started to imagine how "far" away the end was.

I immediately told myself, "Oh, good grief, Lora. You swim this distance ALL the time in practice. SHUT UP!" That seemed to work.

There wasn't a lot of backlog at the lanes and I managed to swim underneath the ropes with no problems. Almost at the end, I was right behind two breaststrokers who were (unintentionally) bottle-necking the lane, and I was dying to pass them. Luckily, I was able to do that at the last 50 and made up for some lost time then.

I can't decide if I'm disappointed with my time or not. I typically do this distance in 10 or 11 minutes. However, when you consider that I was swimming with other people, had to slow down at times for them and that I had difficulty climbing out of the pool, I guess it's OK.

However, this was by far my best time/pace in the swim portion of a tri. Yeah. I'm going to choose to rejoice.

437 yards in 12 minutes, 58 seconds.

The beginning few miles were a little graded and had some rolling hills, but were decent. There were two huge mountains on the course and many people walked them. After and in between the mountains were some long, medium grade areas that were really tough. The ending 2 miles were flat.

I had been warned about a very big hill on the course, but when I saw it, I kept on telling myself to wake-up because surely I must've been in the middle of a nightmare. I never woke up.

I was able to bike about one-third of it, but had to resign myself and join the rest of the folks (everybody) who were walking it.

At the bottom of yet another giant hill, there was a volunteer and a law enforcement guy. The volunteer shouted, "On the outside of the cones." I thought, "OK," and I did stay on the outside...but apparently for only one set of cones. I passed the law enforcement guy and he kindly said, "Oops, you didn't go on the outside of THESE cones."
Having now lost any momentum to help me initially up the hill, I slowed down to look at him. He said, "Oh, that's OK. Don't worry about it." I thought to myself: "Grr. NOW you tell me."

There were several areas where the course had a long, steady, tough grade. I kept my head down so I couldn't see the end of the grade so I wouldn't get discouraged by how much longer it was. I just biked to get through each moment. That really helped.

Several people passed me, but I also did my fair share of passing. Though the hills slowed me down significantly, I did have my best time on a 20K bike in a tri.

12.75 miles in 56 minutes.

A very, very flat run through campus with several turns.
When I run at home, I train on hills. That's just the landscape the good Lord's put at my door. I'm sure nobody will believe me, but I'm slower on flats than I am on hills and this showed in my time.
Because I hadn't stretched before the race, I had to stop three times to stretch my calves, which, of course, added to my time.
I feel safe in saying that I'm disappointed with my run time. I also could have pushed much more towards the end, but I didn't. Definitely some lessons learned here.
As I took off for and came back from the run, I passed some members of my tri club and some members from BT. Both groups were cheering me on which was so very cool.

3.1 miles in 33 minutes and 36 seconds.
The timing company the racing company recently hired lost several participants' splits. They got the overall times for everyone, but most people never knew how they did in each event. I was one of the lucky ones.
I did come in 498/588 overall and 49/57 in my age group with a time of 1:45:44. This is huge considering that in my first tri I came in 207/217 overall and 40/42 in my age group. At the next tri, I came in 195/197 overall and 23/23 in my age group.
I had debated whether or not I wanted to even do this tri. I'm really glad that I did. It was a great event to gauge how my training has (or hasn't) paid off during the off-season.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Race day this coming Saturday

My first tri of the new season starts Saturday with a Sprint: a 400 meter indoor pool swim, a 12 mile bike and a 3 mile run.

I've had some really great brick workouts this past week and I'm actually starting to look forward to the race; though I am dreading freezing to death on the bike, still partly wet from the swim, in forty-degree temperatures.

It is supposed to be sunny Saturday with a high of 70 and a low of 46. Even though the temperature will be closer to the low than the high at 8:00 in the morning, I think I can suffer through it...well, I'll have to. I have no choice at this point. I'm all paid-up and the challenge is awaiting me.

I'll be sure to do a report on here after the race. Until then, it's all about relaxing instead of fretting these next few days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Swim to the next crack…er, run to the next buoy. Wait. What?

Some standard advice that is often given to make it through the open water swim portion of a triathlon is: Just swim to the next buoy. Good stuff, right?

After not running as much outside over the winter and coming back to it with more frequency a few weeks ago, I quickly discovered that running up the hills in my neighborhood wasn't as easy as the last time my feet had met the concrete.

About four weeks ago, I really wanted to push myself to run the first incline of my regular route. For whatever reason, I remembered this advice about the swim and decided that it could just as easily apply to a run.

So, I pushed myself to "just run to the next crack." Before I knew it I was at the top of the hill and I hadn't stopped to walk.

One of the most fascinating aspects of life is learning something in one area and being able to apply it to others. Just thought I'd share a little of my fascination.

Have an absolutely blessed day, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Why didn't you just swim one mile?'

I came home from my swim on Monday exhausted. I complained to Gary as I sank into the couch next to him: “Oh, I’m so tired. I just swam 150 yards shy of a mile – my longest swim ever!”

Accepting my statement that I, indeed, was tired but still puzzled by why I didn’t just churn out another 150 and call it even, he asked in all seriousness, “Why didn’t you just swim 1 mile?”

After laughing at how silly I must’ve sounded, I told him that I was in Week 3 of Week 6 of a Swim One Mile in Six Weeks plan and it just had me swimming 1,500 yards this week.

“Oh, okay,” he said, assuming I was practicing some super-secret triathlon training method and must know about what I was talking. “Really great job!” he enthusiastically congratulated me.

Here’s a little background. When I started swimming in December of 2007 by taking swim lessons at the Y, I couldn’t even put my face in water. My first trip toward the other end of the pool was doing that swim where you keep your head out of water, turn it with every stroke and splash like the dickens. Oh, and after the first lesson, I went out and bought noseplugs.

Toward the end of my 6-week lessons, I could not quite swim 100 yards. During my first tri last June, it took me 27 minutes to backstroke 400 yards. During my last tri this past September, and after 2 months of Total Immersion (TI) swimming 2-3 times per week, it took me 47 minutes to swim freestyle 900 yards.

Today, still swimming TI, I can swim 400 yards in around 11 minutes and 900 yards has recently taken me about 25 minutes. Oh, and, I’ve recently given up the noseplugs.

If you would have told me a couple years ago that I would be swimming one mile – without noseplugs – someday, I would have told you that you must be looking into the wrong crystal ball.

I wasn’t just a beginner swimmer. I was a beginner’s beginner. I came from absolutely nothing! So, the fact that I just swam “150 yards shy of one mile” is something I just needed to take the time to celebrate.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Things I need to do differently this year

Just because I can burn 500-600 calories in an hour biking or running, doesn’t mean that I can eat whatever I want. I could eat just cake all day and still not go over my maximum calories, but what I ate will not have given my body what it needs to function at its best.

The suggested ratio of carbs to protein to fat for triathletes in training is approximately 40% - 35% - 25%. I consume so many carbs that that percentage runs around 75% of what I eat. I have managed to begin to eat foods with a higher protein to fat ratio, but I still need to bring down the carbs.

I use caloriecount.about.com to log my food and it compiles this data into a lovely pie graph for me to see this particular ratio.

I did a little here and there last year, but I had no commitment to it. With all the physical rigors through which tri training puts you, your muscles need to be able to support you.

I’ve been doing it at least two to three times a week since December, and I can already feel that I’m not as wimpy, especially during my runs.

Last season was just about having the endurance to make the distances. I just trained whenever I felt like it - which was still 5-6 days a week - but I really had no goals other than reaching the distance.

This season, because I’m training for a Half-Ironman and training properly is more critical with a longer distance tri, my days will be planned out for me with a plan from Beginner Triathlete.

I’ve already witnessed the benefits of laid-out plans. The last three weeks I’ve met all of my appointments for my 8-week 10K and my 6-week swimming plans. If I was not following these plans, Mr. Random would have been my coach and less benefits would I be receiving.

I actually enjoy stretching, so skimping on it last season doesn’t compute. Since I’ve started this 10K running program three weeks ago, I’ve really made an effort to spend at least five minutes - sometimes more - after every run stretching really well. I’ve paid particular attention to my calves and hamstrings where I’m usually sore the most.

The results? Hardly sore at all.

When I began training for my first tri season (2008), I just wanted to cross the finish line. I read a lot of information and picked the rules I thought were best, but also convenient, such as increasing distance 10% each week, taking rest days, getting fitted for a proper pair of running shoes, etc.

However, because I picked and chose at my convenience, I also ignored some other pretty important ones – and I saw the consequences.

Now that I’m getting more serious about the length and intensity of my training, it’s time to go back to everything I’ve learned and not just follow the advice that is only convenient for me.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by my blog. Have a blessed day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Past two weeks' training in review

So, my Half-Ironman training plan doesn’t begin until the end of April, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not training.

Just to give myself some type of schedule between now and then, I’m doing a 10K plan, a swimming plan and a pushup challenge during this time. Now that I have my new road bike and the weather’s warming up, I suspect I’ll be out on the road more, too.

As things stand, I just completed week 2/8 of the 10K plan, week 1/6 of the swimming plan and week 3/6 for the Hundred Pushups Challenge.

I’m particularly excited about the running plan. It’s really given me the push I need to just get out the door and run. My long slow distance run was today and I enjoyed just taking my time covering the 3.5 mile distance.

There was a little bit of drizzle when I started the run, and I turned around after a few seconds and came back home. I told Gary, “I know it’s just sprinkling, but after many minutes of this I’m just going to be soaked.”

He just chuckled and said, “Do whatever you think is best.” I realized that we both thought I was being absurd, but I was hopeful the rain would disappear. I did a load of dishes.

After a while, the thought of allowing myself off the hook with such a lousy excuse made me ashamed. I decided that no matter how much it was sprinkling, I was going to get it done...so I did. Luckily, the sprinkles had subsided for about 90% of my run so it ended up not even being a problem.

I bring this up because if I didn’t have this plan to keep me committed, I would have done one of three things: 1) I still might have run, but I would have cut the distance short; 2) I would have gone to the Y and broken up the distance between the treadmill and the track, but still may have been tempted to cut it short or 3) I just wouldn’t have run.

This past week was a week of personal records as well. I ran the first mile of my 2-mile run this week in 7 minutes and 40 seconds. I have never run that anywhere near the 8-minute mark, so to go under 8 minutes was a great surprise and an incredible treat.

I also shaved off approximately 2 minutes off my 400 yard distance in the pool on Wednesday. I average around 12:30 for that distance and I finished it in around 10:30.

I took my new bike out for a real ride yesterday. I was planning on going 12-24 miles, but the 20 mph crosswinds were blowing me into traffic and it really wasn’t safe, so I cut it short and went 9 miles.

Even with that in mind, I was able to up my average speed to 15.5 mph, instead of that 12 mph that seems to have gotten more attached to me than I to it.

So, having a schedule is proving to be quite the asset for my training. I just need to practice this habit of commitment the next few weeks before the Half-Iron training begins, so giving in to the excuses becomes harder as consistent training becomes critical.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by and reading about my training journeys.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Whatcha doin’ with a suitcase?

Winter has started packing up its belongings and is clearing out the closets.

I’m sure there will be many more days of cold, but instead of them being the rule, they are becoming the exception.

It is supposed to get up to 68 degrees this weekend and it truly is a time to celebrate.

I wish I could help Winter pack to expedite its departure, but that’s like trying to pluck a feather from a frog: It just won’t happen.

So, greetings and salutations, Springtime. So long, Winter.

No more excuses about sub-freezing temps! Let’s get training!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coroners, cars and crashes - but it's not how it sounds

You have GOT to read this funny, well-written story by a fellow triathlete blogger (Because I Tri) about her unusual experience with the county coroner the other day.


Monday, March 2, 2009

What's a 'chi' and why is it running? (r)

This is a re-post of something I'd written back in October. As the training season kicks into full gear, I thought it was worthy of a re-post.


Some of you may notice a link on here to a Web site called ChiRunning. If you want to run better, and pain-free, you have to check this out.


I was skeptical when I heard about it, too, but about a year ago, I decided to pick up running. This was right before triathlons got on my radar screen. I started out running a half-mile and then worked up to one mile. The trouble is, my knees started to really hurt - again.

In fact, I decided to take a break from running and work on building leg strength for a few months. If the muscles surrounding my knees were strong, my knees wouldn't be so weak and, therefore, as able to be injured.

Meanwhile, I got interested in triathlons. I read a swimming book, Total Immersion (TI), and just fell in love with the theories behind the author, Terry Laughlin's, techniques. At the end of his book, he recommended ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer.

Soon thereafter, I got a copy from the library. I read it in one day.

I won't go into all of the details about the mechanics of it. It would take a book to explain and Dryer's already written it, but basically it's about falling into your run instead of forcing yourself to run.

Here's a short video of Danny Dreyer, the creator of ChiRunning, explaining the difference between ChiRunning and typical running. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA0Yd4NLKlo

I can say that since running this way since April, I have experienced no knee pain during or after running - none!

If you're tired of your running causing you pain, it is definitely worth your time to check out the book and/or DVD. It may end up not being for you - but what if it is?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hundred pushups surprise

My friend Becky and I started the Hundred Push Up Challenge a couple weeks ago.

We both decided to proceed by doing “girl” pushups. I had taken the initial test doing “regular” push ups a couple months beforehand, and I promise you it took me five seconds to lift myself up after only one. I couldn’t even lower myself to try for two it had zapped me so much.

At the end of week two of six, we were joking about how we could barely do one regular pushup. Recalling my aforementioned experience, I decided to prove just how badly I stunk at doing regular pushups. I thought it would be a good laugh to watch flesh turn into spaghetti on a gym floor.

I got in the position, went down, came back up…went down, came back up and stopped because I had started giggling and had broken concentration.

I was completely stunned that I had just executed two pushups. I wanted to try it again, without laughing. I got in the position and ended up doing four! Four!

I’m excited to finish up my remaining three weeks so that I can start over doing regular pushups.

Once again, this proves that if you put in the work and stick to your plan – though you may not see the change while you’re in the middle of it – your commitment will pay off.



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quick thanks

I just want to take this time and give a sincere thanks to all the good folks who follow me on here.

When I started writing this blog on a regular basis last June, I did so reluctantly: “Out of all the bloggers in the world, who cares what I have to say?” proclaimed cynical me.

However, I did have friends and family who were curious about how my training was going, and I thought this would be a great way for them to stay up to speed.

Plus, I really do like to write, so I suppose becoming a blogger was inevitable. I’m not as witty, funny or poignant as I wish I was, but I enjoy putting forth what little of those attributes may exist in me for the world to read.

As an aside, I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the comments you guys leave. Do I reply on the same post on my blog or leave a response on your blog?

I’ve decided on the latter, so if you’ve posted and I haven’t gotten back to you, you may need to peruse the archives. Ahem. Sorry for any confusion about that.

Again, thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I’m inspired to continue to do two things I love: triathlon training and writing.

With gratitude,

Monday, February 23, 2009

My bike is home

Today was the big day. I picked up my brand new road bike, a Giant OCR1.

I still can't get over how light she is, and I'm excited about hitting the road this week to see how much of a difference this can make.

It's going to take some getting used to the manner in which the gears shift, though, as I'm used to the twisty kind that are on the bike I've currently been riding.

(Isn't my mastery of bike lingo impressive?)

So, is my bike sitting in the garage tonight? NO WAY! She's sitting pretty in the office, resting up after our long drive home from the LBS. Poor thing.

Now, I just need to come up with a name for her. The model name is OCR. If you take those initials and say them out loud, it sounds French: Osiare.

But that's more suited to be one of the many bad jokes I always make than to be a serious name.

Maybe I'll name her Gary the Bike (GTB), in honor of my incredible, incredible husband.

Though his idea of exercise consists of coming to my tris, sitting in a chair, drinking Pepsi and watching us all buzz around, he understands that it is important to me and he's very supportive. But bikes are female and Gary's not a girl's name.

One thing, however, has become very clear as I re-read my post so far: I should hold off on a name until after I've put some more thought into it.

Thanks for sharing in my joy of my new bike purchase, and - as always - thanks for stopping by my blog. Oh, and...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here's the plan; er, plans

I’ve officially decided to add the HIM to my schedule. Thanks so much to every single one of you for your encouragement.

I found an awesome training plan on Beginner Triathlete that not only gives me instructions on how long to train each time, but instructions on what to do for warm-up, main sets and cool downs.

It’s a wonderfully specific plan and you can check it out here: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=52\

It’s also a 20-week plan so I wouldn’t have to begin until April 27 as my race is on September 27.

Therefore, I’ve decided to take March and April and work on building a stronger base before I begin this plan. I could start it at my current fitness level and not be out of my league, but I might as well make good use of this free time and have it count for something.

Here’s a link to the 10K training plan I’m going to go ahead and start this Monday: http://www.halhigdon.com/10ktraining/10knovice.htm. Come, rain, snow or harsh winds, I will get in the running. I must get in the running. I cannot let ANY excuse get in the way.

Here’s a link to a “Zero to 1,650 in Six Weeks” plan. http://ruthkazez.com/SwimWorkouts/ZeroTo1mile.html. I’ve started Week One two to three times, but now I’ll have devoted time to finish it. I’ll start this the first week of March.

I’ll do a few spin classes here and there and, when I get my new road bike in the next couple of days (stay tuned for details about that), I’ll be doing some biking, too.

So, February’s been a cut back on SBR so I don't get too burned out month. I’m so ready for it to be overwith, and for my training for the season to really begin.

Let’s go, 2009!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things I almost said

Over the last couple of months, I’ve started several blog posts but have not published them.

Most often it was because of writer’s block. Sometimes, the post became outdated. And at least once I did publish it only to gasp at what a bad post it truly was before expunging it from public viewing.

So, just in case I never get around to finish writing and publishing them, I thought I’d combine them all into one post. Using super-groovy titles and non-cliched sarcasm, I will proceed to give a brief synopsis about the fascinating things I almost said.

Fear and Loathing at High School Reunions
How I want to have a really cool title like Doctor or Senator before my 20th. Then, realizing that I will actually have a title before then, Ironman, I imagine that I’ll be such a super humble person I won’t even talk about it. As if!

How Well Would I Do?
Theoretical scenario asking how much better I might be in this sport if I had unlimited resources and time. Then, an examination of what resources I do have and can reasonably have to answer that question. (Insert crickets chirping.)

Yaktrax and the Saga of My Tailbone
How Yaktrax keeps me from falling on my rear-end in the ice when snow moguls and my days as a majorette didn't.

How Being a Triathlete Helped Me Shovel Snow
Really? You need me to explain that?

How Being a Triathlete Made Walking to the Post Office Fun
Oooooooo. Even I don’t care about this!

This is EXACTLY Why I Wanted to Do Tris in the First Place
I don’t even remember what the "why" was. Just kidding! No, seriously.

Me Ol’ Bike
I pulled my old bike out of my mom’s garage recently and took a picture of it. Yup, doesn’t get more cutting-edge than that.

Triathlons: My Exemption
In all seriousness now, this is one I’d really like to save and write about more. I might even be able to make something poignant out of it.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by, and here’s to hoping that - should you experience writer’s block - it can at least create some fun “maybes” for you, too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Could it really be?

So, I thought my big news of the season would be moving up from doing all Sprints to including an Olympic distance race toward the end of the season.

However, for whatever reason, I seem to be catching the Half-Ironman (HIM) fever and am giving racing one serious consideration. Here’s why:
  • I actually have the time on a weekly basis to put in the training. I think this has got to be the most important, as skimping on training for such a long-distance event would be catastrophic.
  • Directly behind in importance is that I have ample time to finish a Beginner Triathlete HIM training plan. Plus, I have two months before I'd need to start that plan, and I will do a couple other event-specific training plans during this time which will help with my base.
  • What I also consider to be a boon is that I'm familiar with the course, having done my last tri there. Plus, I'll be able to train on it a few times this summer before the race.
Last year, after my first tri, where I barely made it through 400 yards of swimming, I debated on whether my next race should be shorter or longer (http://theironmountaineer.blogspot.com/2008/07/one-week-after.html).

I decided on the longer-distance race (http://theironmountaineer.blogspot.com/2008/08/and-answer-is.html) and I’m so glad I pushed myself to go the longer distance instead of acquiescing to what was clearly the easier route.

Well, after writing this out, it sounds like I’ve already made up my mind. Why do I do this to myself?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I love you

I absolutely LOVE triathlons!

I love training for them.

I love the burn of chlorine in my nose.

I love the headwind that slows down my speed.

I love the mixed tan lines I get from the different clothing I wear for each sport.

I love the difficulty I have opening my door to go run.

I love the yells from idiot teenagers leaning out their cars calling ME an idiot as I run.

I love the smell of honeysuckle on my bike ride.

I love the smell of roadkill on my bike ride.

I love the sweat ring around my ball cap after a long run.

I love that when I swim at the beach in my lake, I’m the only one wearing a swim cap and goggles.

I love that people think I’m a fitness freak just because I run while it’s snowing.

And I love that I am absolutely no better than anybody else just because I am a triathlete.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Women's Only Triathlon Web Site

One of the triathlon organizations I follow on Twitter mentioned the recent launch of a brand new Web site devoted specifically to women triathletes.

GOTRIbal is a great place for women in the sport, whether they’ve yet to complete a tri or they’ve completed many, to grow and learn from each other. Professional triathlete Jessi Stensland is a member of the site and I look forward to reading more about her story.

Chrissie Wellington, 2-time World Ironman champ, stated, “…I am so proud and excited to be involved in the development of GOTRIbal…, providing [women] with a cocoon of support in which they can grow, flourish, and become the athletes they never thought they could be.”

Check it out and sign-up. If you don’t see a group from your part of the world, start one. You’re not responsible for managing it – unless you want – and find other women in your community to join, too.

It’s a fabulous concept and a wonderful opportunity for women triathletes. I look forward to seeing you there!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time for Sap

As I sit here on my comfortable couch, the blanket taking off the extra chill the furnace can't resolve, I think about how strong my desire is to complete an Ironman. I then think about my last tri and wonder if I shouldn't reconsider...

Cue flashback music.

Her feet were moving her forward. The heat was holding her back. It was a complete physiological tug of war and she was loving and hating every minute of it.

The swim and bike were now behind her. She'd been last out of the water, passed no one on the bike and would - without a doubt - not be gaining enough on the run to make a good placing. But that wasn't the point.

At least she looked like she belonged, though, having bought a tri suit a few days before that she thought made her look like a superhero. It was a disguise to hide her lack of credibility, one that might buy her time until it would be her endurance and speed that could earn her respect in the sport.

In the middle of her run, she found herself thinking, "This is so brutal. Maybe I'll just be that triathlete who races Sprints the rest of her life. Yeah, I think that's what I'll do. No longer races than this for me."

End flashback music.

It's so easy to say to yourself when you're not racing, "Yup, I'm going to do an Ironman in the next couple years. Yup, that's what I'm going to do. Yes, sir." But when you're in the middle of a race, you really do have a different perspective on your abilities.

However, I think it is this cognitive dissonance between our dream and our current abilities that makes triathlon so unusual - and so lovable.

It is that gap that we must bridge, spending our days swallowing water, making out with pavement and twisting our ankles on that gnarly tree root on the trail so that we can cross the finish line about which we'd only been dreaming.

So, I'm going to continue to dream. I'm going to continue to train so that the dream dies - but only because it has been replaced by reality.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Twitter Me This, Batman

(Isn't this title so original?)


I signed up on Twitter a couple days ago. Twitter has a neat "Why Twitter" video that explains what it's about. Honestly, after watching it, I thought it was even more ridiculous than I'd imagined.

However, the more I thought about it and saw a couple other bloggers use it (Hey, Sara!), the more I thought it could add a little interest-value to my blog. So, as of this post, you can see said Twitter gadget in the right margin.

I realize that by even blogging, I've chosen to open up my life to the entire world; that the serial killer/stalker nightmares we see played-out on the silver screen could be one step closer to becoming a reality.

Now, Twitter's theme and web-niche is answering the question: "What are you doing?" You don't have to say, "I'll be at the corner of Main and Fifth in 15 minutes," thus giving creepy stalker dude true access to your whereabouts.

So, with these pros and cons in mind, I say "as of this post you can see" my Twitter gadget, because I'm not sure I'll keep it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Perspective Cracks Me Up

I competed in two triathlons last year. They were both OWS (open water swims) and my first one was such a wild experience, it is worthy of an article. In fact, I DID write an article about it...

...but I digress.

My first tri this season will take place in this lovely 50 meter indoor pool you see in this post. I was initially excited about an indoor swim because of the heated water. Now, I've become more nervous about it than I would have ever imagined.

As I sit here and write about it, I think it's simply because of the close-up view spectators can have of you. Once you're far out in a lake, you just become a mesh of bright-colored swim cap and splashed water. In a pool, people are just a few feet away from you, able to watch you closely and I think it'll make me more self-conscious about my stroke, rotations, etc.

Anyway, so what cracks me up is that I was so terrified of doing an OWS last year. Now that it's become what I know, something that had seemed easy to me (indoor pool swimming) seems harder than what I now consider easy.

Bottom line? Harden up, have fun and get it done! Plus, I feel better already having figured out what was making me so nervous...and I'm not nervous anymore. Maybe I should just go ahead and delete this post...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Miss My Golden Brown

I was looking at the pics from my second tri back in September and I was struck by how brown my back and shoulders were.

Over these last few months, I hadn't realized just how much my natural paleness had been silently pushing out the soft amber that my training this past summer had helped me acquire.

I am such a pale person and getting a tan - even in modest amounts - has always made me feel better.

However, as I've aged and started to appreciate my mother and grandmother's terrific skin - and, therefore, what mine could be someday - I've decided that sunscreen on the face is a must.

To back up, I believe we are meant to be in the sun. The latest findings show the value of Vitamin D natural sunlight helps us obtain. Obviously, too much time in it can lead to skin cancer, but again, we're talking about extremes.

So, this summer, wanting to protect at least my face against premature aging but still wanting to reap the benefits of sun exposure, I just used sunscreen on my face. I got some nice tone to my shoulders and arms and that was enough to make me happy.

Maybe someday I'll wince when I start to see the wrinkling on said shoulders and arms, but today is not that day. Maybe even as soon as next year, when I really start to up my training for Half-Iron and Iron distances and will be out in the sun longer, I'll add the sunscreen elsewhere. But today is not that day.

Anyway, looking at my coloring in this picture has made me even more excited to be out on my new bike, sweating hard underneath a ninety-degree sun, my skin being recolored by nature. I can feel the sun's warmth now just thinking about it.

My, I sure do sound eccentric. Hmm. Oh, well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

10 Ways to Boost the Ol' Metabolism

WebMD has a good slideshow about ways to boost your metabolism. Here are some highlights as well as some commentary. Be sure to check out the link at the end for the full article.

1) Build muscle (I'm doing)
Everyone burns calories, even while doing nothing. This rate is much higher in people with more muscle. Each pound of muscle needs 6 cals a day while each pound of fat needs 2.

2) High intensity workouts (Thank you, triathlon training)
They deliver a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than moderate workouts.

3) Drink more water (Thank you, triathlon training)
In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four.

4) Have your drinks on the rocks (Check)
Ice-cold beverages prompt the body to burn more calories during digestion.

5) Eat more often (No problem here)
When you eat large meals with many hours in between, you train your metabolism to slow down.

6) Spice up your meals (Will start)
Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can temporarily boost your metabolic rate by 23 percent.

7) Eat more protein (My biggest goal already, actually)
The body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates.

8) Drink black coffee (I just will never, ever be able to do)
In one study, the caffeine in two cups of coffee prompted a 145-pound woman to burn 50 extra calories over the next four hours.

9) Drink green tea (I've got some in my cabinet and will make some today)
Drinking two to four cups may push the body to burn an extra 50 calories each day. That adds up to 5 pounds of weight loss in a year.

10) Avoid crash diets (No problem)

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Know You're a Triathlete When...

I found some of these listed in a forum on BT (great stuff, guys) as well as a few other sites I'll reference at the bottom. I hope you enjoy.

  1. When you are vacationing 89 miles away at the beach, you leave five hours ahead of your wife and children on your bike and meet them there.

  2. When you're on a long run and have to use the bathroom, you run into the woods and another runner is doing the same thing - and it doesn't bother either of you.

  3. You forget that talking about daily LSD [Long Slow Distance] and speed weirds some people out.

  4. When asked how old you are, your answer is 30-34.

  5. You wave at other cyclists, because all triathletes are friendly and, if they are not, they are probably purist cyclists trying to get into triathlons and they do not yet know that triathletes are friendly.

  6. You have absolutely NO idea what to do with yourself on your off day. You mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, washed the car, and there are STILL 4 hours of daylight left! Aarrgghh!

  7. Your children are more likely to recognize you if you put on your bicycle helmet.

  8. You know where the good fishing is in the lake because of how the water tastes.

  9. You think an Ironman is easier then a marathon because you don't have to start by running fast.

  10. You feel like you took the day off because all you did was swim 3000 yards.

  11. Nobody believes you when you say, "Never again".

  12. You take part in the corporate challenge to improve your base speed.

  13. Your spouse is looking forward to the day when you will slow down and just run marathons.

  14. You know what bricks are.

  15. You are actually interested in the mile by mile recap of the fairly innocuous question, "So, how was your race?”

  16. You have paused in front of the mirror in your wetsuit and thought, “Hey, I look like a superhero."

  17. You have the belief that as long as your marriage is intact, you can afford yet a little more training.

  18. Your co-workers rarely see your hair down. It takes too much time to blow-dry after a 5:30 am swim and twisting wet hair into a bun takes 15 seconds.

  19. Your bicycle has a name, sleeps INSIDE the house, and is worth more - emotionally and monetarily - than your car.
  20. Shoveling snow is a part of your cross-training schedule.

  21. You make your 5 year old sit in a jogging stroller and go for a run because the baby doesn't weigh enough.

  22. You ride your bike more than you drive your car.

  23. You can run a 1-mile faster than your teenage kids - who are in track and cross country.

  24. You tuck your wife in, wait for her to fall asleep and then go workout.

  25. You know from experience how many minutes you can swim in 45 F or lower water before your core body temperature drops dangerously low, and then time your transition into dry clothes to avoid hypothermia...in an outhouse.

  26. You have done an OWS while it was snowing.

  27. When you ask your dog if he wants to go for a run, he scampers and hides under the chair shaking.

  28. Your spouse doesn't blink when you say, "I should be back from my run in three hours."

  29. Your co-workers no longer think it's weird when you eat your "second lunch" at 3:00.

  30. An easy swim is any distance less than 1500 yards.

  31. You've run a marathon, but never just by itself.

  32. You plan your vacations around your training for your A, B or C race.

  33. You know the difference between an A, B or C race.

  34. When traveling, you select your hotel based on the exercise room.

  35. You consider work regeneration time between training sessions.

  36. When people praise you for being able to run 3 miles, you feel insulted.

  37. Your kids grab water bottles and energy bars when you suggest a family stroll.

  38. You think there are only two seasons during the year: racing and off.

  39. You need a picture for a job application and you only have race pictures.

  40. You know what the Yellow Socks Brigade is...and you belong.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ironman Championship 2008

Yes, there's one for triathlons, too.

There are many Ironman events around the globe. Just to name a few, there is one in China, Brazil, Japan, Australia, Lake Placid, France, Frankfurt, Canada, Switzerland, and, yes, even Louisville, Kentucky if you can believe it. The championship race happens in Kona, in Hawaii every year.

At the very end of this post, you'll find a link to the hour-long NBC special about Kona this past year. Even if you're not that into triathlons, it's just spectacular story-telling, and I promise you you won't be bored.

The lady who won the women's race is Chrissie Wellington. She had a flat tire, lost her CO2, had to rely on the kindness of another competitor to give her hers and came back after losing 5 minutes on the bike to win the thing.

There's the story of a former motorcross champ Ricky James. Because of an accident he became a paraplegic. He was racing his first IM.

A Navy SEAL, David Goggins, was racing to raise money for kids of fallen comrades. He said that a Navy SEAL holding a bake sale just wouldn't cut it. He needed "something medieval" to do so he picked the IM. A Major League Baseball player, Jeff Conine, was a competitor as well.

But, probably my favorite story is of Harriet Anderson, a 72 year old racing her 17th IM. I've decided that I want to be her when I grow up.

So, enjoy, be inspired and, as always, thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breaking Up the Monotony

This month I'm doing an Ironman Challenge. The goal is to go the distance of the Ironman race in one month. So, my goal is to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. So far I'm on track. I've swum 2.2, biked 58 and run 10.

When warmer weather arrives, I plan to start an Olympic distance training plan. This means a few more hours a week than what I'm already doing for training. My training schedule's not exactly barren currently, but there will be a lot more work involved.

So, as I come out of the Ironman Challenge, I think I'm going to devote the month of February to something different, just to add some renewal to my life. I'm still going to keep a small base of the 3 sports, just in smaller quantities.

Instead of taking a spin class twice a week, I'm going to take it twice a month. Instead of swimming 3 times a week, I'm going to swim once a week. Since I've been so negligent with my running, it'll probably stay the same: once a week. I'll still do strength training 3 times a week, though.

So, what will I do instead? The world is before me. Maybe I'll go snow skiing once a week. I haven't done that in close to 10 years and I miss it. When I've got a good groove going downhill on the white powder, it's one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I might take that pilates class at the Y afterall. They've also got a kickboxing and basic training class that look like fun.

I just need a break from the usual before I really plunge into tri training again in the spring. Stay tuned for more details about my absolutely interesting life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Plans are plain. Or are they?

I decided last week to write down my goals for the week in a table on my BT Training Log. I'm also writing them down off to the side on this blog, too.

As I've been doing my training this last year, I've just had a general idea of what I might squeeze in each week. I've just gotten up, seen what my day looks like and then train doing whatever I feel like. I believe this has put me in a deficit. So, the idea for the goal-writing was born. (A novel idea, huh?)

I met my goal of lifting 3 times for 30 minutes each time.

I met my goal of swimming 3 times per week, 900 yards each time. This totaled 1.6 miles.

My plan was to take a spin class twice this week. I did so on Tuesday, but I had to cancel Saturday morning because of icy roads. I was up and ready to go, though, so it wasn't because I was lazy.

So, I've had to move biking once. I took that spin class this afternoon and a couple other people from that class were sticking around for the next one. I did that, too. So, I exceeded my bike goal by 50%.

I truly believe this one is causing me the most difficulty because of the cold weather. Everything else takes place indoors. I had to move my 2-mile run once, but I completed it according to the reschedule.

I moved my 4-mile run once, but I only completed 2 miles of it that day and the mileage was not consecutive. So, my plan was to finish out these 2 miles of my run today after spin class. Well, since I did 2 spin classes, I was particularly beat so I only got in 1 mile. I did make it a brick, though.

Positive: Having these goals has helped me. Prior to this, even after I've worked out, I've always felt like I've had something more to do hanging over my head. Now, all I have to do is to go to my spreadsheet, look at what I've finished for the day and relax because I'm done. No need to worry about tomorrow either because it's on my schedule.

Negative: I am disappointed that I've had to move my runs around so much. I consider the moving of the bike the exception because it really was inclement weather's fault.

Learned: I think I need a plan for my planning. For example, there is a 10K running program I'm looking at and it will tell me how many minutes and miles I need to do per week. I'm currently doing one for swimming, so that's taken care of. When Springtime rolls around, I'll be doing an Olympic distance plan for all the disciplines.

I'll give a report toward the end of next week. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Surprise

If you treat the first day of the new year like any other day, it will be any other day.

The cold weather out my door was laughing at my cowardice, using the wind that knocked against my windows as its bellowing voice.

Each time I responded with a shudder. Each time I lost a little bit more determination.

Then came yesterday. The wind was absent. The sun seemed to offer me its warmth, its energy, its strength. I felt stronger as if today could be the day I break out of my running rut. It was 29 degrees and I'd run and biked in colder weather, afterall. The few weeks I'd missed running outside were over. The new day was offering me a chance to claim my blank slate.

However, even though the wind wasn't present today, I didn't need it to discourage me. It had left enough of a mark within me the last couple weeks for me to take up its flag in its absence. "Boy, it's just so cold outside," was how the flag always began its wave. Today was no different.

Gary and I don't do anything to celebrate New Year's. It's just not that big of a deal to us. However, as the New Year's Day afternoon began to fade, I realized that I simply could not start off a new year with another excuse, with another day of cowering before the cold air outside.

I got dressed and put on my heart rate monitor. "I don't know whether I'll be back in an hour or twenty minutes," I told Gary as I grabbed a bottle of water and left the door.

The first five minutes are always the hardest because they're the coldest. I had quickly decided that I would just run for two miles; however, when I got to my turn-around point, I realized I had the energy to make it three.

I am so glad I didn't give in to the fear. That run was refreshing and invigorating and I am so glad I took that first step out my door.

Even though I try not to make too big a deal out of the first day of the year, the truth is I would have regretted not running yesterday, of giving in to the comfort I wanted to maintain.

I have got to remember that if we spend our days waiting around for the perfect conditions to do something, we may never get it done. Afterall, the sword isn't forged in circumstances that are easy. Stressed under fire and finished by cold water, it only becomes what it's meant to be under the unusual.

I didn't want yesterday to go out as any other day. Whether I liked it or not, this first day was becoming special to me. Now, it's even more so.


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