Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Lots of things happening right now... Good and bad.

First the bad:
  • The Fairlee course will probably be shortened to 17 miles (from 24) due to road conditions. I rode that course with Spence a few weeks ago, and I thought it was fine. I'm VERY bummed about the shortened course, and keeping my fingers crossed that they can patch up the roads in time.

The Good:

  • My A race will be Greenfield then. It kind of was already. I'm going to sign up today.
  • I had an awesome swim yesterday at Puffers'. 4 laps (~1600+ yds) of beautiful open water swimming. It totally kicked the pool's ass.
  • I have the best LBS on this side of the mississippi (so as not to compete with Amazing Hip's dude). I just got a tuneup, front derailleur replaced, and brakes adjusted... with a ONE day turnaround! FREE!!!!
  • I beat the weather today. I saw it was going to rain (all day) starting at 10am, so I got my bike in at 6am - LOVE the new derailleur.
  • I get to go home to PA tomorrow! I can't wait! - Shadow - what are you guys doing tomorrow night? I know! I changed my plans again. What can I say? Life's a little chaotic right now. :)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

RR: Webster Sprint Tri

Webster Sprint Triathlon
Webster, MA
June 25, 2006
8:00 am
Rain, steady, 60-70s

Why is success so surprising? Why is it so absolutely dumbfounding when we reach a goal we set? Why is there such a sense of wonder, of awe?

I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something I’ve been addicted to lately.

A little background: This is the same race site (and course) as the Danskin triathlon I did as my very first last year. I wanted to go back to see what I could do (with a new bike and more training and experience). I wanted to see if I had improved at all. I doubted that I had, and I hadn’t even bothered to check what my times were for the last race. No expectations. No pain.

This morning dawned defying the weather forecasters. Cloudy. No rain. I thought we had dodged a bullet. I felt silly for calling my new friend Joe the day before and telling him it might be wise to pack everything in plastic. I felt really dumb for making that garbage bag pack cover for my “tri bag.” But, I reminded myself that this is New England. The weather changes in the blink of an eye.

My training partner, Jo, and I head out on the road, only to meet our new weather in short order. Rain. Lots of it. Having some extensive experience in the stuff, honestly it didn’t phase me. So what? We’re going to start in a SWIM, for heavens sake! Bring it on.

We get to the race site and register. Listening to the sights and sounds of the race, I notice that the organizers must have asked my dentist to give a sample of his office music for prerace festivities. We get to the bike rack and this poor little soul comes up to rack her bike somewhat grudgingly. She says, “I can’t believe they aren’t going to call the race!” Me: “Why!? It’s just raining.” Oops. Seriously. I don’t get it. So you get wet. Then this other guy on our rack was grumping about how there were other better things he could be doing on a Sunday morning. My thought? “Well, just go do them then!” (I didn’t say that one, thankfully, as the brain-mouth barrier had been reestablished.)

My stomach isn’t playing nice, so we make the rather LONG trek to the bathroom (by the lake). Thank goodness things happen that should and I am suddenly a much happier camper. As we tromp back to the bikes I remember just how long that run is going to be from the lake to the transition area. I also note how bad that ground is going to feel on my bare tootsies and opt for the extra seconds to put on a pair of tevas after the swim (smart!).

By some stroke of genius, I had organized each part of my transition area in separate plastic grocery bags (the night before: so that unpacking was a cinch and nothing got wet neither during the transition setup nor the race). We finally head down to the beach, take a practice swim and wait for the dudes to start the race. I look for Karis and Joe (although I honestly don’t remember what he looks like… it was a good way to pass the time though!). We wait some more. 8:10. 8:20. 8:25. Finally the RD comes on the horn. Apparentl,y there was a downed tree on the course (Bunny hopping not having been mastered yet, I was very thankful they removed it) and LOTS of standing water. Woo Hoo! Ignorance is bliss. I don’t really care, just get me started on this damn swim. I’m freezing my arse off here!

We finally get going. La la la. We’re in the third wave, and man this is a long swim. I’m still not out to this first corner. Round the corner. BLAM!!! Oy. “F&^% ME!,” I yell. Some freaking Clydesdale tri-dude just rang my bell pretty nicely. I figure since I can still curse like a sailor (and draw some decent laughter in the process… I’m here to help folks!), I must be okay. Thankfully the rest of the swim was uneventful. I remember sending Joe some happy swimming thoughts. (Don’t think he needed them, to be honest….)

I get out and glance at my watch. Oy. Well, that sucks! Shake it off. There are things to do. Need shoes. Need to run 1/3+ mile to bike.

So, before you all tell me that I should save the party or the make-over for next time, keep in mind that it’s a freaking HAUL to the transition area. I didn’t have time to reapply my eyeliner, and still spent 7:24 in la la land.

I was a good triathlete and re-set my computer, but the gods hated me I guess (or really, really loved me) as the sucker crapped out right at the beginning of the 1+ mile long hill. Lovely. Maybe I didn’t want to know how un-fast I was going anyway. Fine.

The hill has three stages. I’m well versed with this thing since I did it last summer. So I’m a little sad when I see a gal walking her bike just a few feet into it. I tell her that she can do it, and she responds (a little bitterly), “No, YOU can do it.” I argued one more time, hoping she would just get mad at me and hop back on.

I get up the hill, take a deep breath, and hang on for dear life. The worst screaming downhill I’ve ever encountered meets me at the very tippy top.

OhmygodI’mgoingtodie… Momcanhavethecats.

And then: “Momma! Just killed a man… put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he’s dead. MOMMAAAAA….”

Okay. Let’s just say I see ½ of my life flash in front of my eyes. Nasty road, lots of water, obstacles, and VERYFREAKINSTEEP. Hands cramping.

I finally see the lady at the bottom… HARD right hand turn. I crawl around that puppy and start working. Lots of nice rollers and flat coming. Let’s haul it. Three guys thought they could pass me, but I love rollers. I pass ‘em all again. And then some. I cruise into T2 (after seeing Jo out on the run).
T2 is much better (2:17), however I manage to drop my sunglasses and step on them (clutz!). Momma always said my middle name wasn’t Grace for a reason. Thank god it’s raining!

I decide I’m going to kick it up on the run. I want to say that I left it all out on the course, and while I worked hard on the bike, I still feel pretty decent. Tired, but decent. Some gal in my AG passes me and I try to keep up. Nope. There’s kicking it, and there’s foolish. Maybe I’ll catch her on the flip side. I see Jo again, tell her to push it in (she’s having a great race!).

Nothing weird on the run. No chickens or dead frogs. Just baby rollers. As I head back to the finish, I see another lady in my AG. She’s a marked woman. I am absolutely determined to catch her and pass her. I don’t care how it happens, or what shade of blue I am when I cross that finish, but I am going to be ahead of her in the standings, darnit. (Of course I wish her the best and all of that….)

We round the corner. I’m gaining, but it’s hard. Gaining some more. We round the last corner. I pass her (“Great job!”) and head on to the grass (thinking: Wouldn’t this be funny…. I just busted my ass to pass this poor lady and I go blam on my butt on the grass?). Thankfully that didn’t happen. I see a dude blaze by me as I kick it. (Darn – you better not mess up my picture, Cowboy.)

Can’t breathe. Can’t see. Must hit stop.

Breathing, seeing and stopping the watch all commence and they remove my chip. I find Jo. I think she’s talking to me. I mumble. “Um, are you okay?” Blank stare. “Wha…?”

I think it’s safe to say I left it all out there. Anyhoo, I’m tickled pink. There is almost nothing better than knowing that you are getting better, and having a ton of fun doing it. Next up…. First oly in two weeks!

2006 (2005):
Swim: 18:42 (18:18)
T1: 7:24 (7:06)
Bike: 50:02/14.7mph (58:13/12.7mph)
T2: 2:17 (2:32)
Run: 27:36/9:31 (29:42/10:14)
Total: 1:46:01 (1:55:53)

Friday, June 23, 2006

More Rambling...


Thanks to my single commenter, I'll try to keep this short. :)

This Sunday is Webster Sprint Tri. Should be a ton of fun, as it's the same SAME course that Danskin was last year (oh, and it's like $30 cheaper).

Can't wait to tackle this hill....

Race report to come, ya'll!

Have wonderful, safe weekends...

OH, and....

happy birthday to SPENCE!!!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A little miracle...

My run this morning started out as nothing special. It kind of sucked, truth be told. I changed my schedule around today because I noticed that I feel "flat" at work. Probably I overworked myself last week. I thought maybe a lie-in might help. (This is the time that the life of a grad student is very nice indeed.)

I looked outside and saw blue skies. Excitement. I got dressed, ate something and was out the door for a slow and easy 6 miles.

Little achilles pain. Mash the crap out of trigger point.

Little right knee pain. Take it easy. (That's nothing new, and I'm learning to embrace these little aches and pains as badges of honor. They say hello. I say come along for the ride.)

Tired. Not surprising, seeing as I indulged my usually strict self to watch a movie until 11 last night. It feels good to do that every now and then.

Slow. Working on that, but it's:

Humid. Wickedly so, which is making my:

HR very high. Fine. It is what it is. Today will be like an unplanned tempo as the temperature and humidity inch up.

I have a million reasons to quit (okay... maybe 5). But, deep down, I still enjoy what I'm doing.

In the end, it was GYGO podcast that saved me. And, sorry, guys, it wasn't IronWil or Kahuna that inspired this time. In fact, I'd almost call it a miracle.

See, I'm so far behind in podcasts, it's almost like I'm ahead. I've been catching up slowly though, and today, I thought it might help.

Cue Episode 14. It wasn't advertised in the beginning as anything special. It was Easter weekend (see, I'm THAT far behind!!), and they were just winging it. Wil was talking about her hand, forearm and foot fettish (and I was chuckling, because I love a strong man's forearms... and calves, and I can appreciate a nice (clean) foot as well). It was light and funny, and took my mind off of my little complaints.

The heat pressed on. Sweat dripped through and on every part of my body. Down my face. Into my eyes. I had almost completed an entire 24 oz bottle of water in an hour. I still had a mile to go, and I really just wanted to walk. Who would care? Who would know?

And then Wil mentioned someone from blogland I really admire. As soon as she started talking about this "strong woman" I knew exACTLY who it was going to be. I broke in a grin and said, "Sheila!" Sure enough. And then to make it all better, Kahuna read one of her posts (about a run no less). If was the right freaking medicine at exactly the right time.

So, thanks guys! And of course, thanks to Sheila. This life is so funny (especially in this very small context). I don't know. Maybe I see more than I should in small events, but they seem to be so few and far between, it just seems more worthwhile to grasp up what I can. It lifted me up. It took me out of my misery. Had it been another blog, I doubt it would have done the trick.

We never know when or how we will have the chance to touch another life, whether it be in a good or bad, huge or very small way.

For those interested, this is what I heard:

"As always, I am battling the brick demons. I am just running as best I can. I'm not looking at the HRM, as it would be pointless. I'm just trying to get a decent cadence with tiny wittle steps (a la Elmer Fudd). I pull my hat down further over my eyes as the sun is bugging me and so is the wind. I get to the first mile. 8:42. What the fuck is that? I shouldn't be running that fast (remember, I am S-L-O-W). Especially after that hard ride. But really I don't feel all that bad. Just the usual this-fucking-sucks-it's-a-brick-run-why-the-fuck-do-I-do-this-shit bad. So I figure that since I'm into a headwind, and I will always run faster back towards home, what the hell let's do another 7 minutes out and then turn around.

No problem. It does suck just a teensy-weensy less with the little tailwind. I figure I must look like total crap, but then my head registers, "Hey, we don't really feel all that bad maybe we CAN keep a decent run pace up in an Ironman." I guess the more you do this shit that hurts you, the easier it feels. Thanks coach! My threshold for suckiness is much bigger now. I am thinking that few of my friends that I used to train with could keep up with the shit I do now. Or maybe they could. I alternate between feelings of invincibility and total suckitude. This is what keeps me training, I guess.

I start the last mile home, and all I can think is, "MAKE IT FUCKING STOP." No walking, no slowing down now, just run and get it done. In reality, I was also thinking how long could I keep going like this? And I know that with a little Coke or Ultra Violence, a long, long time (I didn't even use the old Ultra Violence today!!!). I was listening to some music on the radio, but seriously I didn't even hear it."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I had a *moment*

So, yesterday, I headed out for a brick. I still stand by my postulate that weather people have the only job where they can be wrong every day and not get fired. They were calling for severe thunderstorms. We had... blue skies. Bah!

I got home, changed in a jiffy, fixed my front tire (again - what is up with THAT!? not a flat, just keeps rubbing on the brake...), and headed out the door for the beginning of a brick. My plan was to ride Rt. 9 (Uber hilly road), come back and then go for a 4 mile run.

Not really having much time for a warmup (stupid), as Rt. 9 starts pretty much outside of my apartment, I started in on the hills right away. The first one wasn't bad, but the legs weren't liking it... at all. I made it up one hill, down, and 1/2 way up the second before I realized that this is a fairly advanced ride. Maybe it's better to take it a bit at a time.... Go a little further each ride (I'll plan to do a hilly ride a week), and pretty soon, just do all of Route 9! That will be my end-of-the-summer goal.

So, I turn around (go up another hill), and hit my Winery route. Ahhhh. Much better. Some very gentle grades. La la la. I'm enjoying the heat and the wind and the SUNSHINE until I happen to look to my right. I saw a dead kitty. :( I *almost* stopped (people were out and about at the house across the street.), but it made me so sad, I realized I really couldn't do anything. He was so cute too... This heat is so hard for our little critters - Don't forget about them!

Soon, I forgot about my sadness, though, because I happened upon a little find.... I passed this road called "Hardwick Pond Road" and thought, "Gee, I wonder what's down there!" I love exploring, and I was greatly rewarded... I round a corner after 1/2 mile and find...... a HUGE POND! (Who'd a thunk?) It gets better.... There are 3 swimming docks a good distance out. (I'll never swim there by myself of course, but it's nice to know that I *can* go there on the weekends, should I so choose!).

So, I turn around (after a lady that looked VERY much like one of my good friends from school asked ME for directions.... I don't think I helped that much because I was still trying to make my brain work correctly. "That can't be Melissa... She's in Oregon." Geesh.), get back to the house, grab a frozen Energice (not bad), my fuel belt (it's hot!), and I'm out the door.

The legs are a little wonky, so I focus on small baby steps. I take it slow for the first mile (as it includes two short but steep hills). Gradually I settle into a rhythm. I turn around after 20 minutes (realizing that I'm about to burn over 800 calories for the day, and I probably shredded my legs a bit on the hills) and head back again (I've now travelled this road a few times today already... and I think people are starting to recognize me as "that crazy girl!").

I see a lady cross the street to get her mail, and wonder if she's a runner... She just has the look. She looks at me and tells me that she's jealous because I'm doing what she usually is at that time! Woo Hooo!!! I tell her that maybe I'll see her out sometime. :)

And then the unthinkable happens. Just a few minutes later, a man comes running out of his house and asks me if he can talk to me. I'm a little confused (I don't know him at all!). He crosses the street and tells me that he's training for his first marathon (MCM) with his son, and asks me about my running back ground. (I admit to getting a little chill... This is a first for me.) Welllll, I did my first marathon in April, I tell him! He gets excited and starts pelting me with questions. How do I pace? How often do I run? What am I training for?

And then: Do you drink when you run? He starts to tell me that he ran an 8 miler on Sunday WITH NO WATER! (Guys, it was 90s here with a dewpoint near 70 on Sunday. I also ran an 8 miler Sunday, almost completely finishing a 24 oz bottle of PowerGel Endurance, and another 24 oz bottle of water when I got home....) I promptly conjure up my meanest mommy voice and tell him that that is a very BAD idea! Well, I was somewhat gentler, but my eyes almost popped out of my head. Ohmygosh! If he learns nothing else, I hope he heard me say that! I told him that he should also be replacing electrolytes, and to check the MCM website to see what sports drink they are using... and then to train with it. I hope he heard me.

But, let me just tell you how cool it was to be mentoring someone about marathon training. I am by no means an expert, but it was just the greatest feeling. It's one of the things I love most about running and triathlon - that ability to pay it forward and share the gift with someone else. That, my friends, is what it's all about.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Diet Revisited, Training Week, and Bike Name Revealed

Alrighty then... New diet. I kind of splurged a bit this weekend, mainly because I was so far behind and because it was a pretty big weekend (for me). So, I am feeling MUCH better now. In an effort to get back on the wagon, I have a new diet with much less emphasis on counting cals, and more on just eating healthily.

6:00: Oatmeal, brown sugar, milk (swim at 8-arms tired)
9:30: 12 oz chocolate milk (skim), then a little later: plum, granola bar
11:30: turkey and swiss on multigrain bread with tomato (whole sandwich); banana
2:00: apple, yogurt
5:00: 1/2 lb. haddock, 1/2 c brown rice, big salad, piece jalopeno blue cornbread
7:00 (planned): 1/2 c LF mint choc. chip icecream

Here's a pic of dinner... It just looks so good, doesn't it?

So, what do you think? Better???

I'll add another little meal on double workout days.

Anyhoo, even though I felt like such total crap last week, I managed to pull off one of my biggest training weeks yet. (As in EVER). Fun stuff!

Mon - s1500, r3

Tue - b15.2

Wed - s1500

Thur - b13.1, s300 (Puffers)

Fri - rest

Sat - b24.1, r1.3, s100

Sun - r8

Swim: 3400

Bike: 52.4

Run: 12.3

Time: 8:56:00

Woo hoo! Next race of the year is coming up this Sunday - Webster Sprint. It should be a good one, as it's the same course that Danskin was last year.... I have some hopes, but they all line up after: "finish the gd swim." Girl's gotta have priorities.

Oh yeah! How could I forget... The topic of my nameless bike came up in Fairlee this weekend. It was a struggle for me because of the girly color. So we decided that it had to either be a girl's name (which I wasn't cool with for some reason) or a gay man's name. Sooooo, I've had this major crush on Vin Diesel for YEARS, and it just FITS. Jo and I came up with it on the way home, and honestly I just knew it when I heard it! It'll be Diesel for short (and sits next to Tank), or if I'm in a really bad mood VD.... :) Or Vinny if I'm happy. What a versatile name! And, if rumors are true (well, that and the fact that he's a major celeb), it's the only way I'll ever be with him (*sob*).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fairlee Excursion

Just a couple of weeks ago, Spence contacted me and told me that she lives on the Fairlee course (first oly ever, coming up 7/9).... She asked if I wanted to come up and ride the bike route.... Ummm yes! And, how cool would it be to meet a fellow blogger? Very cool, as I was soon to find out.

So Saturday at 6am, Jo and I load up the car. Bikes, helmets, bike shoes, running shoes, wetsuit, bathing suits, towels, pump, food, and other assorted and assundry items litter the car. We stop THREE times to fix the bikes (note to self: must get roof rack), but we get there just in time to meet the most generous and hospitable host EVER. We get our acts together and ride down to the transition area (um... which had looked much bigger in the pics Spence posted....) And then we start.

We start out slowly on a nice flat road. Ahhh, this isn't so bad, I think. Give me 23 more miles of this. Mile 3 - Spence says, "this is our first baby hill." Jo: "That's a BABY hill?" A sign of things to come, for sure!

I haven't ridden with Jo all season yet, and it becomes apparent why. She has a ROCKET attached to her bike. I mean, someone should really talk to her about that... I'm sure it's not legal.

Somewhere around mile 6 or 7? we come to what Spence says is the first of the monsters. Ug. 5.4 mph most of the way, with HR of 189 (92% for those playing along at home). But, I did it.

We all catch up again and I hear Spence say to Jo that the next one is just as long but STEEPER. How the f...?! Okay, they like to grow 'em steep here in VT.

All along the way, I'm enjoying the company (that is when I'm not slogging up the mountains). It's a beautiful sound when bikes shift in unison... click click click, pedal pedal pedal. And, it's GREAT to have the company of friends on a bike ride. I've been missing out.

Hill 2. Jo and I unleash a "BRING IT!!!" Oh my god she was right. It IS steeper. The last one was a question mark. This is heinous. Why am I here? How am I ever going to finish this triathlon? I'm never going to make it. I've been riding hills! How is it that I'm so unprepared for the wrath this monster is dishing out.

Wait a goddamned minute. I've been through worse. I've hiked 22 miles (a day) in the ME 100 mile wilderness. I've backpacked with sciatic nerve issues and 2 blown out knees. I finished a marathon with cramping. I've been through so much CRAP in my life and gotten through with FLYING colors. Why should this be any exception? Come on, girl. Get it done. I was hoping that Spence wasn't right behind me because I literally started talking to myself at this point

And.... I realized I was humping my bike. You know what I mean. You know when you're on a really hard hill and you start using your upper body? I managed to quit that and made it to the top. This biker dude came along as we were catching our collective breath in a parking lot. He looked refreshed, like he had just done 10 FLAT miles in the largest chain ring... La la la! He waves to us and says, "Come on !" We all mumble something like, "yeah, yeah... "

The rest of the ride was wonderful! Rollers and Screaming Downhill and FLAT. I'll take it! We finally get back to Spence's house and Jo and I decide to run about 15 min off the bike. First brick of the season, and it didn't feel too shabby, except for the fact that my HR was 180 or so. Must work that out.

We get back and all pile in to go to the lake. Spence is chatting about some sort of plant growth. I wasn't really paying too much attention, to be honest (sheepish grin)... I thought it was just some interesting information about the lake. I get the wetsuit on and get in. HOLY FREAKING CRAP! IT'S COLD. (not as cold as puffers was on Thursday, though). They tell me to shut it pretty much (as I'm the only one with a wetsuit). We start swimming a bit. About 50 yds out I notice some thing yanking at my arms, but pay no mind.

One more stroke, and I'm in the midst of a freaking JUNGLE! Hundreds (it seems) of these nasty sprouts are just below the surface and their viney arms are yanking at mine! I get my head out of the water and scream! Spence starts laughing. Jo and I catch up to Spence and I say, "I'm sorry, but that is some NASTY SHIT!" Yeesh! Soooo thankful we did that.

So, we get back and shower (that was GREAT!) and head to the deli. I swear, I've never liked Salt & Vinegar chips... until yesterday. I mean, they used to make my tonsils swell just thinking about them. Until yesterday. I saw them and I wanted them. I ate them like they were candy. (See? I'm getting better at listening to my body....)

We finally get going on the road, and all the way home I just keep saying, "That was so much FUN!" It really was, Spence - Thanks so much for showing us around and being such a wonderful host... especially when you had a tri the next day!

Some things I observed and learned (kind of a last will and testament... to be continued of course)

"have you ever taken your wheel off?" "No."
(learning how to take my wheel off)
baby hills
monster mountains
The meaning of "steeper"
"Come on!"
BRING IT! (always a staple)
what woodchucks are good for (not much)
the cutest/biggest dog in the WORLD
Salt & Vinegar Chips
The lady with the white hair
camp stomping grounds
"What's that noise?"
"How 'bout giving those aero bars a try?"
"See you in 3 weeks!"

Friday, June 16, 2006

You people are geniuses! (I'm feeling rather stupid.)

I have never been so happy and proud to have a blog in my life.

I did NOT think I was low on carbs. I was thinking calories (yes) and good fat (almonds, fish, avocado, lean meat). As it turns out, this could be a trifecta. I honestly think the only thing I was getting enough of was protein. And, you all thought I even needed more of that. Basically, I think the moral here is: More is more.

The calories were quite subpar. As Spence helped me figure out... My BMR is 1700. That diet was giving me 1500. Ummm, that's not freaking going to work!

After you started saying that I needed more carbs, I picked myself up off the floor, and realized you were RIGHT! My ass has been dragging hardcore. Like move 5 steps and feel like I hit the wall. I've been tired in a way I never have been. My *muscles* have been just absolutely fatigued beyond all measure, and I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me. It was an effort to lift my friggin' arm. NOTE: This is how you feel after a week of carb depletion!!!! It has a MAJOR effect.

So, yesterday (after realizing how much I was craving a loaf of bread), I went to the grocery store (this was after our open swim... I was absolutely ravenous) and ordered a 6" roast beef grinder. Normally these are so filling that I can only eat 1/2 at a time... I wolfed the entire thing down. I don't even think I bothered to chew. So freaking hungry and carb starved. Then last night, I had my usual chicken fair (Shadow: I can still only manage a 1/2 breast.... You're a machine!), with salad, brown rice, and a small piece of jalopeno blue corn bread for dessert. I left the table feeling satisfied and happy that I had prepared a well balanced meal for a change. It amazed me that my plate was full (what a beautiful sight!).

I got to bed at a good hour (sheesh, it was still light!), and woke up feeling GREAT! Lesson learned!!! Food is fuel! While I think I managed to cut the crap and most of the bad sugar, I think I just went and cut everything out. I'm not a friggin' rabbit. I'm willing to bet that my workouts go a TON better now. This week has sucked donkey balls.

So, now I am well fueled (or getting there) for my practice ride with Spence! My training partner and I are going to drive up tomorrow and ride the Fairlee course. Then we're going to swim (test the waters so to speak) and grab lunch. I can't wait! Report to follow.

Have wonderful weekends everyone!
Yay for Carbs.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My A-Ha! Moment

Sometimes it takes a while.... Sometimes it takes longer than *that*! This is one of those times. I'm okay with that though. I'm going through a change (I'm finally, FINALLY on FIRE to finish grad school - hence my AWOL nature with this blog in recent days...!) My schedule has survived a drastic change (I am now getting up at 5am every day), and my body finally accepted it today. I've been more forgetful lately, but that's because of these changes. I just have so much going on in my pea head that I can't remember where I put my keys, or my watch, or my swim cap. (But, I found the watch! Yay!).

Back to the aha! moment. I've been complaining to you guys that my legs (and my whole body, for that matter) feel dead. I thought I had come up with all of the reasons, but as it turns out, I forgot the most important one of all: My diet. I've recently changed my diet (I've made minor changes throughout the past month, resulting in what I thought would be a great diet to fuel my body and get down to basics...). I'm thinking that I'm not getting enough of something. I'm going to let you be the judge....

6:30 - Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal, brown sugar (swim at 8am)
9:00 - Rice or Soy crisps, grapes
11:30 - 1/2 whole-grain pita filled with tuna, egg or crab salad (minimal mayo), carrots, orange
2:00 - pear, LF yogurt
4:00 - 4 FF fig newtons (if have 2nd workout -run or bike)
6:00 - marinated chicken tender (like 1/2 breast), salad

Let's see if you find it. It hit me like a ton of bricks this am. Actually, I think it's two problems, but I have to sit down and do the math. Something tells me I can't ramp up my training, give blood, and recover from a race with this diet... Or maybe I'm wrong? Help!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dead Legs

Well, it seems that there are a few factors affecting my running.

The biggest is probably the fact I gave blood on Friday. That had a major impact right away, and I still feel slightly less than par. All normal, all good to keep in the back of my mind (and maybe next time, I'll do it after race season ends).

Next is recovering from last week's tri... Although, I suspect I'm pretty much done with that now.

Next is the bike ride I went on yesterday - Through beautiful MA farm country with many GREAT hills (Bring 'em on!). Can I just say I LOVE where I live? I'm finding my climbing ability (all seated, thankyouverymuch) much improved, and the fear has largely dissipated from "Oh my god, that's huge!" to "Eh, that's just a little bump... Get me to a bike!"

Finally... Ugh. Confession time. I think I lost some running fitness after the marathon. A whole month off followed by only running 3 days a week... And then getting slightly injured at the tri. Yup, it all adds up. But, the greatest thing about being in the *beginning* of tri season is that I can build it back.

So, enough with the excuses. I finally got back to it (after a week off) today. Felt pretty great to do a "double" for a change, and just knowing that it would get better in a week or so (if not in a couple of days) was enough to keep me happy. HR was elevated (duh), feet felt okay (except for right inside heel... not sure what was up with that, but I'm chalking it up to expected aches and pains.).

And, I'm starting to get that feeling (and those looks) that I'm moving out of my apartment some days... Especially Mondays and Wednesdays (swim and run days). guh. I have my computer, my swim bag, my running stuff, my lunch bag (which is quite large now, with all of the fruit and veggies that I pack), and my purse. If there's mail to be delivered, I shake my head and leave it for a Tuesday or Thursday (bike days). Or a Friday! Rest, glorious rest. Honestly I hate rest days normally, but it's nice to have a break from moving out!

But I love every bit of it! :)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

KKPW explained and Flux...

Okay, Jeno, you asked...
Since I can't sing it for you, I'll write down the words and you'll have to try to find a buddy that had this song sung to them ad nauseum. It was a personal fav of mine.

(And, actually, I think it's called 'This Old Man')

Vs. 1:
This old man, he played ONE, he played knick knack on my thumb
With a knick knack paddy wack give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

Vs 2:
This old man, he played TWO, he played knick knack on my shoe
With a knick knack paddy wack give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

(You see where this is going, I'm sure...)

Vs. 3: THREE; tree
Vs. 4: FOUR; door (or floor)
Vs. 5: FIVE; hive (although that always sounds dangerous, so I try to come up with something else during that lap.)
Vs. 6: SIX; with some sticks
Vs. 7: SEVEN; up to heaven
Vs. 8: EIGHT; on the gate
Vs. 9: NINE; on a dime OR all the time
Vs. 10: TEN; with a hen

I can usually get to 12 (which is what I need for a long set of 600 in a 25 yd pool). Just have to get creative with 11 and 12 (shelves works for 12... and 11 is much like 7). Hope that helps!

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program.


Swimming - Swam 3 times this past week, mainly because of the rain. Felt good to get back to it!

Biking - Biked once (and once more tomorrow). Because of stinking rain.

Running - Ran not at all. Because of bruised heels (yes both of them) sustained in triathlon. I think things are back to normal (after lots of icing). Might give it a go tomorrow after bike ride.

Giving Blood - Once. Yesterday. Freaking filled the bag, and then almost passed out. Probably due to the fact that my BP was 106/66 *before* donating. Nurse Betsy was a little nervous, and I was feeling funky for the next couple of hours. Drank a TON of water last night.

Killing Ants - 100s. My apartment seems to be a bit infested. And, let's just say that the Rookie - gu incident didn't help matters AT ALL! GAH!

Organizing - Lots and lots. I go through these phases where I feel like my life contains too much entropy (that's chaos for you non-science peeps) and I go into super anal mode. I'm there now.

Losing things - 5 times. I've lost my school keys twice (the second time led to the organizing frenzy), my car keys once. Also lost were my swim cap (found that tucked in my flipper) and my nice timex lap watch. That's still lost :(

So, the organizing apparently wasn't that successful because I'm very scatter brained. This happens sometimes too, and it's usually when I have a lot on my mind. Right now it's school. I want to get out of here, so I'm trying to organize my time (day, week, month) so that that can happen in a most efficient manner. The thing is that I'm working on a project that has almost nothing to do with my thesis. This is a huge problem.

I brought it up to my advisor this past week, saying that while I'm interested in this project, I'd like some sort of assurance that it will go in my thesis (i.e. not time wasted). His response was pretty fair, but it was the first time I ever felt used. He said to do another week's worth of experiments and then see where we are. Ummmm, okay. See, I'm at the point where I can get a week's worth of work finished in a day or two. And also figure out what the heck it all means while coming up with new experiments to do tomorrow. This means (I know) that I've matured into a thinking, breathing scientist. While I like this transformation, I'd also like to get the hell out of here.

One more week. And then my patience runs out. And, no more of this global "let's see where we are" crap. I want DATES, DETAILS, and CONCRETE PLANS, dammit! Probably one of the smartest things I ever did while I was here was to take a class on teaching at the undergraduate level (yes, they actually teach how to teach! How amazing - On my final evaluation of the class, I said that ALL professors on this campus should have to take this course.). We learned a lot, but the most helpful for my situation right now is that my advisor and I have VASTLY different learning styles. I am almost 100% linear-sequential and auditory. Guess what he is? Yup, global and visual.

Soooo, I ask a question with a fairly straightforward answer (yes or no, for example) and get.....

"Well, um, yeah, well, let's see... If we define the peak as blah blah blah, we can surmise that blah blah blah and then if we scratch our butts and pick our noses we can think some more and come up with something that isn't really anything at all."

Which leads me to ask the question... again. Before, it usually took 2 or 3 iterations of this until I get frustrated and then just say, "Is it YES or NO?"

So, now I know the problem. Not sure of a solution per se, but it definitely makes me smile when this happens now. :) Unless we're talking about my future.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Knick Knack Paddy Wack

Whew, nice that blogger is finally among the land of the living.

The rain has totally sucked, but I FINALLY got in a GREAT ride last night. I decided to head down to "Gate 43"... past the winery, past the beautiful big foot (pic to come), past the beautiful views... and down the rabbit hole. Down, down, down I went. And down some more. 1 plus mile of down. Which meant 1 plus mile of UP. I stuck 'er in the granniest of all gears and got it done pretty easily - And felt GREAT. There's nothing like that "cleaned-out" feeling after a hilly ride.

So, today it's raining again (surprise surprise). So, I got to work at 6am and finished two NMR experiments... analyzed one and got ready for my meeting at 10. But not so fast! At 8, I went to the pool, swam 1200 yds (one nice long set - using the song Knick Knack Paddy Wack to count laps - what fun!), showered, and came back with time to spare for a well-earned breakfast! I'm going to have to do that again! :)

Not much else planned except for work tomorrow (groan), a long run (the foot has healed now I think), giving blood (today), hanging out with a friend, and then getting my front derailleur switched out (to 105...) and riding with another friend. Should be fun! Oh yeah, tonight, I'm going to cuddle up on the couch and watch "So you think you can dance" with the kitties. That swing dance guy is amazing! Hey, I have to have *some* vice.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(give a dog a bone... this old man came rolling home!)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Is something missing?

Thanks everyone for your great comments. :)

So, above is the t-shirt we were given. It was a great race, and support was excellent. I even like this t-shirt more than most. But something struck me as a little odd. Maybe it's me. Maybe I need to get over it. It's just.... well, see if you see what I mean.

Unfortunately, it looks like I bruised my left heel during the triathlon at some point. I'm guessing on the run from the beach to the transition area. I really don't think it's PF, as it's on the outside of my heel, and the pain hasn't migrated like it usually does (up and down the fascia). So, that's good. In the mean time I'm icing and resting it. I'm thinking I should be good to bike though, as it only hurt during the run (and it hurts to walk, albeit less today than yesterday). I'll give the bike a go tomorrow.

One thing I'm lacking right now is training rhythm. I mean, I'm getting some good workouts in (usually 6-8 a week), so I'm happy with that, but since the marathon (recovery) it hasn't yet fallen into a predictable nature yet. This foot complication isn't helping matters, but I guess this is just a great time to practice patience.

Monday, June 05, 2006

RR: Ludlow Sprint Triathlon

Ludlow Boys & Girls Club Sprint Triathlon
June 4, 2006, 8:00am
Course: ½ mile swim; 14 mi bike; 4 mi run
Weather: 57-60F, light rain
Goal: Finish the swim. Have fun on the rest.

Short story: I met my goals… and then some. Vindication is sweet, indeed.

Long story: It’s been 9 long months since my second triathlon. That’s a long time to have the memory of getting towed in from very choppy water. It was the right decision at the time, but I’m happy to say that I’m a much more seasoned swimmer after this winter and spring. Still, it was with a good amount of trepidation that I went into this triathlon. I guess you could say that I’ve fallen in love with this sport through the training. Which makes sense, I guess… Seeing as that’s how I spend the majority of my time. So, this spring, I took a chance and registered for 4 (soon to be 5) triathlons… Which meant things had to start going better at the race scene.

So, I set about preparing myself for this race. I wanted to leave no unknowns. I biked the course the week before, so I knew that there was one challenging yet short hill and a bunch of rollers (but also some nice flats and descents). I checked out the pond while I was there too, and found it to be pretty warm and clear.

I also had a HUGE upgrade in equipment. I bought a new bike just before my marathon, and it’s fabulous. Then, just a week before the triathlon, I bought a wetsuit. And, ohmygosh, does it make a HUGE difference! The Thursday before the race, my training partner (Jo) and I went to Puffers (freezing) pond. It was COLD. So cold that putting my face in the water was a huge challenge. We swam across the pond and back – Probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

So, the night before, Jo came over and we went to dinner. For some reason, I was jonesing for buffalo chicken pizza. That decision would haunt me later, but it tasted good at the time. We went back and I went through my gear. Sunscreen was added to the list, having learned from my lobster mistake in Nashville. We chatted about our season, Jo convinced me to set the clock a ½ hour later, and then we headed to bed. As usual, this was just an exercise in futility, but I just concentrated on resting.

Race morning.
Rumble, rumble, rumble. Is that thunder? Erm, no. That’s my stomach. Ugh. Two trips to the bathroom later, and things seem to settle down. I get dressed in a jiffy (wearing my Nashville marathon t-shirt… that helped a bunch with the butterflies.) and before I know it, Jo is saying we should go! What?! I’m just a tad annoyed (this is why I wanted to get up earlier!), but we get going and get on the road. Thankfully, the week before I had worked out the kinks in the directions (actually my lack of direction sense… I ended up going 30 miles out of my way… the WRONG way the previous week for my practice ride.), so we get to the race site with no problem.

I park. Jo heads off for coffee (as she’s spectating, and it looks to be a nasty day). I get the bike off and then realize that I need to put my purse in the trunk. Not wanting to open the trunk and seem so obvious, I go through the back seat… and promptly gouge open my middle finger. Blood everywhere. Ugh. Well, at least I got my injury out of the way for the day, I think. Get the first aid kit and bandage up the offending finger. Get my (very heavy) bag, bike, help a man pump up his tires (his pump kept flying off of the valve), and finally get to the transition site.

Things are pretty organized, so I get set up. I’ve pretty much packed for every kind of weather. Shortsleeve shirt, longsleeve shirt, jacket, two pairs of socks, and lots of plastic bags. Jo comes to visit… I’m intensely jealous of her nice, hot, steamy cup of coffee, but realize that the upcoming gymnastics I will perform to get into the wetsuit will keep me plenty warm. I’m very happy of my bike rack placement, because it seems that I’m in the midst of other young women trying the wetsuit at a race for the first time. We all jump around, adjust and readjust and get a good laugh.

Finally, I head down to the pond. I go for a short swim around the first buoy, and I’m immediately ever-so-thankful that I went to Puffers on Thursday. This water is warmer and clearer… And I am well prepared. I practice my mantra: “I am a calm swimmer.” Danskin peeps will know what I’m referring to… J

They announce the wave order. Men. Women. Clydesdale Men. Ugh. Are you kidding me?! Oh well.

We sing the National Anthem. My friend Dan (the one that ran the last 6.2 miles with me in Nashville) had mentioned that when I hear that anthem before any race, it will make me think of Nashville. I remember thinking that was a bit odd at the time…. But, he was right. I think of that day, of the beauty of pushing through whatever limits I thought I had. And then I think of this day, and of the promise that it holds, if only I can remain calm and steady. I can do this. I am ready. BRING IT!

The swim.
The blue caps go. And then we go. I had lined up in the back, so I just wade in behind every one, and start to swim once all of the kicking feet are out of harm’s way. As usual there’s a bit of contact, but no drowning or choking. I settle in to a nice rhythm. I-AM-A-CALM-SWIMMER. Over and over. I’m managing to keep on course really well (as I’m sighting at the end of every chant). Just as I reach the last buoy of the out and back course, I feel a strange churning. I realize that I’m being overtaken by the Clydesdale men. Oh well. It’s my swim, and I only want to finish this.

I get going on the way back, thinking that this will probably feel shorter. It does… Until I suddenly become the recipient of the grab and pull… three times over. After the third time, I realize that while I’m trying to remain calm, this has to stop. I finally kick really hard and get out of the situation. I paid it no more mind and just kept swimming. (keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swimming, swimming…. Who am I?) Finally, I see the shore, and I see these people start to wade in. I pass a few of them by just swimming as far as I can. I get up. I’m elated. I conquered my nemesis. 18:48. Honestly, I don’t care if it took me a YEAR to finish. I’m just glad that it didn’t involve a boat or a lifeguard. And I feel…. STRONG.

Jo is at the chute, yelling her head off. It was so good to have her there! I get going to the transition area, wrestling with the wetsuit. I get the top half off, take off the cap and goggles and run to my bike. I finally just give up and sit on my towel to yank the sucker off. Phew!

I look around at what everyone else is wearing. Air temp is maybe 60F. Light drizzle. I go for the two shirts (short under long). Turns out to be the perfect choice. I get everything situated and clomp-run the bike out to the road. Attempt to clip in. And again. Deep breath. I am a calm biker. Finally I get it settled in and go… T1: 4:44

The bike.
I’m flying. Speeds of 17-20 mph. I have this constant thought: How the heck does this work? How do I race this sucker, but keep enough oomph in the legs for the run? I settle in what I think is a bit less than all-out effort. I spend a LOT more time in the aero bars than I have been. Some short climbs pass, and then comes the monster turn (which of course you have to slow down for) and a short, very steep climb. Uuuugggghhhh. Get there! Guh. That hurt. I spend the next ½ mile or so recovering, trying to remind myself to drink. This is a challenge today due to the cool temps.

Finally, I’m coming back to life (or so I think) when I see the chicken cross the road. Blink Why is the chicken crossing the road? Blink That’s REALLY a chicken (err, rooster) crossing the road… Right?! I’m going to hit the chicken crossing the road in a minute, if he doesn’t pick it up. Move, stupid chicken! Little bastard is all high and mighty and I have to actually brake for him. (Darn, it wasn’t that hard of a hill! Note to self: Must practice hills more to avoid hallucinating chickens…. Err, the chicken wasn’t hallucinating… Gah. You get my meaning.)

Post chicken, things are fairly good. I only see a HUGE dead frog and hope that he isn’t a casualty of a cyclist. (Yuck!) I pass a gal with my shoes and tell her nice shoes! She’s like, “Uh, thanks?” until I pass her… I hear her shout, “OH! You too!!!” (They’re pretty rare… bright pink and gray.)

Then I decide that I need a gel. I’m going into a head wind a bit, and I don’t want to bonk on the run. I grab one of these new 4X sodium Power Gels and rip open the top with my teeth. For some reason, I’m concerned about putting the little tab into my bento box, so as not to litter and all of that…. And in the process manage to dump a ¼ of the packet all over me, my bento box, and my bike. What a mess!!!! The stuff is on my water bottle, all over my bike (guess what I did after the race?), on my shifters, my brakes. *&^%! It’s worth a good laugh, though. Rookie. The rest is pretty uneventful. I get to transition and dismount without further calamity. 52:00 for 13.7 mi (15.8 mph!!! – Training avg. is 14.4 – holy cow, where did that come from?)

T2 is uneventful, although I’m starting to think that lace locks might be a good idea. I briefly chuckle as I remember Bob’s recent RR – “How Bob tie laces?” 1:44

The Run.
First thought: I need to do more bricks. I have a side stitch, and then to make matters worse, my right calf starts to cramp. Okay, walk it out. I get passed by a really nice guy. He tells me I’m looking great, and to keep going. I tell him, “Yeah, thanks! You too! I’m just going to have a little conversation with my calves first, and then we’ll be good to go.” That gets a chuckle and things settle down. First mile is 11:25. Kinda pokey. I take it up a notch and mile 2 passes in 10:46. Better-- but still (Hmm, maybe I pushed just a tad too hard on the bike….). Around this time I realize I have to pee. Badly! It makes my stomach feel awful, and I decide to walk a bit. Mile 3: 11:16. I pass a really nice lady when I start running again, and she gives me some advice to breathe deeply. It works and I sprint to the finish, with the last mile at 9:17. (The course was short…. I’m thinking 3.9.) 42:15; 10:50 avg. Final time: 1:59:28

This was a great race. It was very well organized, with a TON of very cheerful volunteers and police (that’s saying something considering it was cold and rainy). The post race food was good too. Beyond all of that, having the support of a friend willing to push you a bit and show you that you can achieve your goals is priceless.

On a personal note, there’s just something very fulfilling about conquering your demons. Even if it takes 9 months. Now that the swim monkey is off my back, I’m feeling a lot more confident about the 4 more triathlons I have planned (Or, at least that the registration fees were money well spent!). Next up in three weeks is Webster Sprint, and 2 weeks after that is my first Olympic triathlon (Fairlee, VT). I can’t wait.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I finished!

Real quickly here.

I didn't drown.... although I was on the receiving end of the grab and pull for the first time.

I didn't crash.... surprised myself with my speed, actually.

I didn't trip.... although I thought I was on a trip of a different nature when I saw the chicken (rooster) cross the road.

I finished! Report to come later (I need a nap.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Greatest Invention EVER!

Oh. My. Goodness.

What a difference a wetsuit makes!

Yesterday turned out to be a crazy day... sunny all day and then BAM! Thunder! Lightening! As I looked at the forecast until Sunday, my heart sank. Rain, thunder, more rain, more thunder! I was not relishing trying this wetsuit for the first time at a race, nor had I done ANY open water swimming yet (and we all know how much I love that!).

But 5pm rolled around, and it looked like we had an opening, so we blitzed it over to good ole Puffers "Iceberg" pond.

We get there and I wrestle the wetsuit on. Great fit. Look at the pond. It's *fuzzy* with pollen. Gah. Oh well. So this man starts asking me about my wetsuit (popular already!). He asks how I like it (it's great!) and what it's like swimming with it (I'll tell ya in a minute!). That shut him up :) I kind of laughed a little when he said that he had tried on a bunch (here I am... I just looked at the sizes on line, shopped around and hit PAY.) Nice guy, but a bit strange.

Finally got in the water. COLD! MURKY! Can't breathe. Err, well, I can, but I'd rather prefer to be breathing OUT when my head is in the water. I drink about half of the pond. My training partner is trying to be helpful. She's really sweet until she starts to get a little impatient. "Just stick your head in!" I wasn't mad. I really needed the push. We laughed about it later. Sometimes tough love works best.

I finally did it. I realized what was freaking me out was the sometimes very cold pockets (like *maybe* 60 degrees!). And not being able to see *any*thing... I fixed that problem by closing my eyes a few times. Finally I got going.

I came back to shore, and she tells me that she's going to come in (this girl is *tough*) with no wetsuit. Helps that she grew up in glacial lakes I guess. So, she gets in, and we head across the pond (about 250 yds). Made it just fine. Chatted for a bit, noticed the wind kicking up again and figured it'd be best to head back (didn't want to be crispy and all of that!).

What a GREAT swim. And, the wetsuit *totally* helps. I mean, there's just no way to drown. I didn't even have to tread water in the thing, I just bounced up to the surface... *Plink!* Might have something to do with the *extra* fat I have now, but I'll take it.

So, here I go! I'm ready now!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More changes...

I guess this usually happens (especially when you train with another woman!).

Without getting into the nitty gritty, I switched out Danskin for Webster. They are the *same* course, but Webster's timing is soooo much better (not to mention $30 cheaper!). New schedule and links are on the right.

I never dreamed I'd be doing 5 tris this summer. :)

Let's see.... other news. I'm finding that keeping up with my cat's shedding is like having a 5th discipline. Vacuuming and brushing every night. I almost wish I could shave them. "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...." JUST kidding. I think.

Oh, yeah, I'm hopefully trying out my new wetsuit tonight (barring any thunderstorms). My training partner is coming with me, but she's sick, so she told me that she'll watch me and if I start to drown, she'll come and get me. What are friends for? :)