Saturday, September 30, 2006

Endurance 50 Marathon Report

I don't know how he does it.

Dean Karnazes is waking up every morning, running a marathon in about four hours, then doing it all over again - each day in a different state, hitting all 50, with no rest days between.

I slept fitfully last night, dreaming that I'd lost my carefully-laid out clothing, that I was late, that I was left behind - but got up and ran one marathon this morning with Dean, and can barely walk this evening.

When I first heard of this stunt, of course I wanted to participate - and after all, I had a 22-mile run scheduled for Sept. 30 anyway, and Dean was supposed to run these marathons between 4:30 and 5 hours each. So I figured, sure, it's 4.2 miles longer, but it's slower than I planned to run a full marathon, so of course I could do it.

Well, Dean has been running around 4 hours, 4:15 or so, and since in my one marathon that I trained 16 weeks for I did 4:17, I knew today would be a stretch. The primary mitigating factor I tried to keep in my head was how much more fit I am now, how much more endurance I have, and how many events I've done this year that were much longer (in elapsed time) than a marathon, but still - with the half-Ironman last weekend, I am definitely not recovered and well-rested, and a marathon today, for me, wasn't probably advisable.

However, it was inspirational. A full group of 44 people showed up to run with Dean, who was so kind and interested in everyone. I'm fairly certain at some point in the marathon he ran next to every single person, heard their stories and discussed his running career - and then after the marathon, he continued to be incredibly generous with his time (taking quite a while to sign each participant's copy of his book, Ultra Marathon Man, but no one was complaining).

The race itself was not actually the Seafair Marathon course, as advertised - it was two loops of the Seafair Half Marathon, which is one of the few races I've done twice (now four times!). It was kind of hard to hear that two miles in - I knew coming to the finish line the first time would be demoralizing.

For the first loop, Danielle and I were usually in the front of the crowd. We were running between a 9:15 and 10 minute mile - perfect and comfortable. A bunch of the guys were really fast runners, so we kept speeding up a little then having to pull it back so we continued to have our police escort (the rule was, stay with Dean or you're on your own). When we got back to Bellevue's Downtown Park to begin the second loop, though, about half the group dropped off - the back half. That left the faster folks to run with Dean.

We had done the first 13.1 in 2:08, but by about mile 15 or so I was seeing my position drop from the front of the pack to the middle to the back...and by mile 17 or so, I could no longer keep up. I told Danielle I wasn't going to be able to stay with the group, and I don't even need to say what she did - of course she stayed with me.

Unfortunately, this meant that we lost the police escort stopping traffic and had to use sidewalks and crosswalks in order to follow the course - so we fell behind not only because I was slower, but also because had to stop and wait for the lights.

At one point, we almost caught back up to Dean - he had pulled off the course to use a Porta-Potty - but he was far enough ahead and must have sprinted to re-catch the group, because we couldn't make it. So we navigated the course ourselves - thank goodness for my great memory of these things, including where the mile markers were on the Seafair course (of course there were no mile markers out for us, but I knew where the 20 and 23 mile markers should have been, so that kept me motivated).

My calves had cramped at mile 14, and stayed that way the rest of the run. Other pains came and went in my legs and feet, and at some point, I felt weird cramping in my belly (which I later realized was likely the exact moment I got my period, sorry for the TMI, guys. Menstruation happens).

I had close to enough water and NUUN, though, and plenty of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and GU so I just kept on a decent eating schedule (every 50 minutes or so). At a couple of points, stuff hurt really bad. Danielle and I debated what we would tell someone else who was in pain - would we tell someone to walk? To stop? To keep going and push through? I knew from the street crossings that stopping sucked, but I wasn't sure about walking. Somewhere before mile 23, we decided to try it.

We stopped running and started walking, and all of a sudden it felt to me like I was trying to go through a brick wall. The air felt heavy and thick and my arms wanted to cut through it as if it were water and I was swimming. My head spun and suddenly it was actually harder to breathe. I believe Danielle felt something similar, because we looked at each other, said, "Uh-uh!" and started running again.

At mile 25 I stumbled over a bump in the sidewalk (Danielle had stumbled there on the previous loop, too). My left foot went all the way forward in my shoe, slamming my toes against the top, and I think I screamed. It hurt like hell, and I couldn't run normally anymore. I was running on the side of my left foot and almost regular on my right foot - a very bizarre feeling - but we were so close and I was going to finish running.

We had to cross another street, and after we did, I got a burst of energy that helped push me up the final hill to the finish line. My toes didn't hurt quite so badly then (although they sure do now!) and we picked up the pace considerably. Nothing hurt for a moment - and we saw the finish line, started our sprint, and stayed together.

The rest of the group had finished already, but they all looked when we arrived and started clapping and shouting for us. Even Dean, already signing autographs, came out from behind his table to greet us and give us both kisses on the cheek for finishing.

The run wasn't officially timed for anyone but Dean, but our heart rate monitors said we'd been going for 4:28. Take off 5-7 minutes for street crossings, and that's not a bad marathon!

So now, I'm incredibly sore. It's hard to walk. My knees and feet hurt. My hip flexors hurt and I'm walking as if I just got off a horse (I imagine...I've never actually been on a horse). My back and neck are a little sore, and I'm exhausted. Tomorrow I want to do nothing but sleep, and tomorrow Dean is going to wake up and do the Portland, OR Marathon. I'm impressed!

Dean has updated his blog with his report about the marathon today - if he did it in 4:07, as the site reports, no wonder I couldn't keep up - that means he did a 1:59 for the second 13.1, negative splitting the thing by quite a bit. And there's a picture here - Danielle and I are in pink, in the back, one person separating us from Dean. :-)

Friday, September 29, 2006

All the triathletes are right here

So there's this article on about where did all the triathletes go? Here's my answer.

There are very few sports where the professional and the recreational mix. Running and triathlon are two of them, and I think for good reason.

Who follows professional running and triathlon? Recreational runners and triathletes, that's who. Who helps provide the money for sponsorships of the pros? We do.

Maybe if road races or triathlons were only for the pros, people would pay for tickets to be able to watch. But...I don't think it's likely. Endurance sports are sometimes interesting to watch, but frankly, not usually. The distances covered (even in a sprint) are just too vast; cool breakaways happen over distance and the individual, sitting still in some grandstand, doesn't actually get to see most of it. So the pros need us, the recreational athletes: their sponsorships and ability to race depend on our wallets.

Road races and triathlons also require a lot from the communities that host them. The general public - people who don't care at all about triathlon or running - have to put up with road closures and limitations and inaccessible public parks. And then, every race requires a ton of volunteers! Imagine the cost of paying all the folks who hand out water on a race course. How many volunteers would come out just for the pros? And where would the money come from to support pros alone?

The article talks about how DNFs are on the rise. I certainly wouldn't advocate going out and signing up for Ironman without proper training - whatever proper training means for the individual in relation to his goals - but I don't think it's that big of a deal. There will always be people with too much money and too little sense who will attempt feats they shouldn't - climbing Mt. Everest, taking a space shuttle to the moon, whatever. But I have to believe that most people who want to complete the Ironman know that it's not just about the single day - it's about six months or a year of hard work to get you ready for the day. And we also know that no matter how ready we think we are or aren't, there's no promise we're going to finish.

Oh, and of course DNFs are on the rise - participation in running and triathlon is on the rise. Did DNF not exist when the Boston marathon was only open to men? Isn't it great for both sports that more and more people are participating - and CARE about professional athletes in these sports?

I'm a recreational triathlete and runner and proud of it. I'm honored to be able to participate in the same races as the pros, and I'm happy for them that they (usually) get their own categories and start times and the like. But I don't think the sports would exist on the scale that they do if the recreational folks weren't included in the races, big and small. I'm always in awe of the 8 or 9 or even 10 hour Ironman finishers, and the 2 or 3 hour marathon finishers - and I'm equally as excited to see the weight-loser or fund-raiser or happy jogger finish just under the cutoff. They're athletes too, and they have the right to be there, whether Martin Spierings likes it or not.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Funnest 5K!

Check this out!

From the site:
Aloha! Do you have a great attitude, sense of adventure, and a willingness to play rain or shine? Can you have fun with the unexpected? Then join us for the Winter Pineapple Classic - a 5K run with three large obstacles along the course and smaller obstacles at the end - on Nov. 11, 2006 at Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle. Obstacles are unknown until race day.
You have to do this as a team, either two or four people. So...duh! Of course Danielle, Aleks, Regan and I are forming a team!

Okay folks. I know there are a bunch of you out there who know me and read this blog and NEVER comment...and that's totally cool, but this message is for you: if you're local (or want to come visit!) and want to do this race, email me and I will see if I can put my friends in touch with other friends to form teams.

How much fun does this sound like? TOO MUCH!!!

Email me now! Yes, you! :-)

I ate a brownie

And I'm not too sorry. Slightly so, because now I feel really full.

Pre-workout: Mini Clif bar, milk in coffee: 130 cals
Breakfast: Pear, cheddar cheese, two hard-boiled eggs: 310 cals
Lunch: Chicken and mozzarella sandwich, 700 cals
Brownie: 400 calories (est)
total so far: 1540 calories

Run 70 minutes, 500 calories burned

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I got a flat tire! And I changed it myself, no problem!

Picture this: I've been lagging behind on a hilly ride - five guys, all hard-core serious riders, plus me. I can hang on the flats, but on the hills, my body is tired and it shows. Plus, I'm in a skirt, of course - everyone is quite aware that I'm a girl.

We're 1.5 miles from the end of our ride, at a stoplight. All of a sudden, hisssssssss! We all look at the source, and it's my front tire, visibly deflating.

Laugh or cry? Well, of course it's laugh - my nerves got the best of me. We cross the intersection - I carry my bike, thank goodness it's light - and I stop in some shade. Since we're close to the end of the ride and it is workday, the group splits up - three guys head back, two stay with me.

They offer to help me, but I say, "You know, I appreciate that, but I think I ought to do it myself. I'll let you know if I need some help." They look like they approve.

I get out my tools. I take the front tire off. They're totally watching my every move. I get the tire off the rim easily and pull out the tube. I hand the tube to one of the guys, saying, "Can you check this out and see if you can see the leak?"

Then I say something about how I'm not wearing gloves today, but I need to check the inside of my tire. Immediately the guy checking my tube shows me the hole - right next to the valve - and we can see there's nothing inside my tire that caused it. Looks like a pinch flat that blew.

I get out the new tube, insert it all around, and tuck the tire back into the rim. I have to use my tire lever to finish tucking the tire in, but it goes pretty easily. One of the guys looks at me and says, "Nice job! That was fast!" The other guy nods.

I am so excited, but now comes the hard part. Fortunately, I have a great pump - it's this one - and I'm able to pretty quickly get the PSI up to 90. One of the guys had offered to take over for a spell if I wanted; once I got to 90, I figured he could finish it off (it's so hard to pump beyond that). He gets it to 110 for me and we're off!

Suddenly, I'm not sore and tired anymore. I'm elated. I took care of my own flat tire when it counted!

So here are today's data:

Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, cottage cheese, nectarine, milk in coffee: 445 cals
Snack: String cheese and cherry tomatoes, 105 cals
Lunch: Turkey sandwich on ciabbatta, 600 calories
Chocolate: 1 small piece, 55 cals
Total so far: 1205 calories
Dinner: Chicken breast, peas, sweet potato with a little fake butter: 600 cals
Dessert: Someone brought over chocolate pudding pie, yum: 300 cals
Total for the day: 2105 cals

1.5 hours riding my bike, 800 calories burned

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Aleks said it all

And she said it here.

Just a run

Hey! Check it out! I only exercised for 84 minutes today! I ran outside, then stretched, then went to work!

And I feel okay with it! Mostly because if I'm going to run a marathon on Saturday, I better rest some this week!

So, today's data:

Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop, tiny bit of milk (because my coffee was too hot so I didn't drink much): 110 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, banana, peanut butter: 385 cals
Lunch: 1/2 roast beef sandwich (300 cals), lentil soup, 180 cals: total 480 cals
Snack: Yogurt and granola: 200 cals
Dinner: Salad with LF dressing and 3 oz salmon: 300 cals
Dessert: Pear and cheddar cheese, 250 cals
Total for the day: 1725 cals
Run 84 minutes, 600 cals burned

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back to the diet

Well, that little break from meal-tracking was all kinds of exciting, but I tried on two pairs of my jeans last night (yeah, fresh from the dryer, but still) and they felt tight. So it's time to really fix it. (You can tell it's Monday by my excellent resolve. Ha.)

Today Nancy asked if we could move our regular Tuesday run to Monday so she could come; she's out of town for the next couple of weeks. However, her hip was bothering her, so we opted to walk 4.4 miles instead. It was fine with me; I should be in recovery mode anyway, not full-on exercise anyway.

So we walked for about 68 minutes, then I hopped on the Stairmaster for a boring 30 minutes of more cardio...then did some strength training for another 30 minutes. It was a little weird - I couldn't get my heart rate up. It was as if my body was saying, "Hey! I may not hurt anymore from the weekend, but I'm not ready for anthing intense! No!"

That's pretty much it. The plan for this week is to be low-key going into Saturday's marathon.

Here are today's data:

Pre-workout: Pria bar and milk in coffee, 140 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, fruit, cottage cheese, 445 cals
Lunch: Cafeteria Indian food, 600 cals
Chocolate: 1 piece, 55 cals
total so far: 1240 cals
Dinner: Salad from Baja Fresh, 700 cals
Ugh: trail mix! John SHOULD NOT buy this stuff, because I can't keep myself away from it!
Total: 1940 of reasonable food....don't want to admit how many hundreds of calories I surely consumed in trail mix.

Walk 68 minutes
Stairmaster 30 minutes
Strength train 30 minutes
600 calories burned

Sunday, September 24, 2006

No such thing as coincidence?

The numbers are in, and guess where I placed in my age group?

Yeah, that's right. 13.

This is the fifth time I have ranked 13 in a race. (The other times were Cascade's Edge age group, Lake Stevens age group, Danskin age group, Lake Sammamish overall women.)

It really really is my number. And I'm happy with it, given the field - I had told people I'd be the top of the bottom third, and I was (13/19). (Overall, I was 125/187. That includes men.)

Here are the rest of my times:
OVERALL: 6:37:27
Swim: 43:02
T1: 3:45 (don't know how this is, thought I was much slower)
Bike: 3:34:46
T2: 2:08
Run: 2:13:45 (includes my potty stop!)

The only thing I have to say about these numbers is that I wish the potty was in the transition area, not outside it, so my potty time would be included in my T2 time. I want to know for sure that I ran a 10-minute mile after the bike. But realistically, I have to say that the potty took at least three minutes, so I should just get over it.

And my exercise twin, Danielle? Her bike was 3:31 and her run 2:10 - so as always, we're there together! (At this point, her swim is a lot slower, so her overall time was 6:44.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Black Diamond Half-Iron Race Report

Yay! What a great way to finish my triathlon season!

No, I didn't win - they finished the awards ceremony before I even finished my run. :-) But that wasn't the point of participating in today's race - instead it was about solid execution, start to finish, and I can say for sure that except for a couple little glitches, I met the goal.

Danielle picked me up at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start. The race is about 40 minutes away from home - so obviously we got there with a ton of time to spare. But it was good - our bikes were already there from last night's drop-off, and we set up our transition areas while we debated what we were going to wear on the bike. I'm not sure how cold out it was, but we could see our breath - and my toes were numb inside warm socks and my running shoes. We walked the 1.4 mile trail that the run finishes on (though we walked it finish to start so we could figure out exactly where to get our sprints on).

The sun came out and was shining on the water by the time we started. The event was pretty small - maybe 200 triathletes, and another 100 duathletes who had a time-trial start after the first triathletes came out of the water. So we started in two waves: men and women. I was really nervous because it's a double-loop swim that I'd get caught up in a mess of fast male swimmers doing their second loop while I was still on my first.

Well, had I actually done any math, I would have seen that was pretty much impossible. They only started five minutes before the women; I barely caught the slow male swimmers. And strangely enough (but this turned out to be a theme for the day), I was alone most of the time after the first turn. It felt just like swimming at Idylwood - slightly colder, but tolerable.

Oh, I have to put a shout-out about Sammamish Valley Cycle and Cindy who works there. They were a sponsor of the event today, and I was debating buying a pair of neoprene swim socks because my feet were so cold. Cindy takes a pair off the rack (they had a booth and were selling stuff), hands them to me, and says, "After you warm up, if you don't want them, just throw them to me on shore. And if you do, you can pay for them later."

Wow! What trust! Of course I am going to go pay for them, and they totally worked. My toes were warm, and the socks were actually quite comfortable to swim in.

I exited the water in 43 minutes - exactly what I expected. Since I had no draft for the majority of the swim, I'm thinking I probably swam just like I did at Lake Stevens (40.5 minutes), but I had a draft then. Either way, I was happy. (Update: exact time, 43:02)

T1 was not perfect. I didn't drop anything, but getting the wetsuit and socks off was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I ended up dropping to the ground and pulling them off while sitting. It worked, but it was slow. I also decided not to wear my bike jersey - as soon as I got the wetsuit off, I could just tell it had warmed up enough that I wasn't going to need anything more than my tri suit. I did pull on my lightest full-finger gloves, though - an interesting thing to do with wet hands! (Update: exact time, 3:45)

So then I'm out on the bike course. My heart rate was really high and I was breathing heavily - annoying! So I dialed it back, spun in an easy gear, and waited until I calmed down. In the meantime, I passed a whole bunch of girls and a few guys. I had no idea how fast I was going, but I was very aware of the drafting rule and knew I couldn't stay behind.

I ended up passing a former co-worker, Matt, and then he passed me back. For the first 30 miles, we pretty much leap-frogged each other every 4-5 miles or so. That definitely made things more fun for me. There were a couple other women who leap-frogged with me, too.

I started eating 15 minutes into the ride, and the idea was every half hour, eat half a PowerBar. It mostly worked - sometimes if the half-hour came on a descent, I waited until I was going uphill or flat - but I ended up eating three whole PowerBars. I tried something new: I cut them all in half with scissors, then opened each half-package, then stuck the wrapper back onto the PowerBar, and dumped all six pieces into my Bento Box. It was a perfect strategy. All the wrappers went in my tri suit pocket and I actually ate what I planned to eat. However, I have to say this: I HATE POWERBARS. I get the right fuel from them, my stomach tolerates them, and they're not so awful that I refuse to eat. But yuck. Yuck yuck yuck.

So at mile 28 comes THE HILL - and it's a big one. I let everyone pass me who wanted to and I did not chase them down. In retrospect, maybe I should have - I didn't catch them on the huge downhill, and I ended up alone for way too much of the race - but my goal was to keep things comfortable, and I definitely did that. And in doing so, the hill (all 2.1 miles of it) actually seemed smaller than it did when Danielle and I rode the course a week ago. It was over before I got sick of climbing!

The descent rocked - it's so fast and mostly smooth - except for these two women who caught me at the top of the hill and were totally drafting off each other were riding too close to my pace - so they passed me, I passed them, and it was not good because it's such a steep downhill on a busy highway. Eventually on a flat, while I was eating, they passed me and I never saw them again.

So began my 20 or so miles of solitude, during which I slowed down dramatically (I think - I felt slow) and got really, really bored. And I started having pain in my neck and lower back. I'm sure if there were others around me I wouldn't have gotten so unhappy about being on the bike. I started to fantasize about how great the run would be!

I did see some riders - but they were finishing the third loop and on the other side of the street. I felt like they were looking at me with pity. They probably were. I also felt like I was the last cyclist, but I absolutely knew I wasn''s just the games your head plays when you're alone for too long.

I did see some cyclists the last 5 miles or so. None of them looked really happy. But as I approached the park, my speed and mood picked up. I really was looking forward to the run!

Just as I came into T2, John, Gabriel and Camille were right there to yell to me and take pictures. It was awesome to see them, although I immediately felt bad that best-case scenario, they had just over 2 hours to wait for me to finish.

One last thing about the bike: kudos to the race organizer and volunteers on the bike course. They knew how to do a water bottle handoff and gave us the right kind of bottles, with the plastic top already taken off (so it just has the valve top). One of my friends had advised me to only do official Ironman 70.3 races; however, in my opinion, this race was better organized than Lake Stevens was!

Wait, one other bike thing: this course was 62 miles (my odometer said 61.75 when I pulled into T2). So a normal half-iron is 56 miles. I checked my computer at 56 miles and I had been going for 3:16. Yay!

My bike computer says 3:36 total riding time. I didn't get off my bike once - no chain dropping, no flat tires, no potty stops. I'm sure that was the longest time ever in the saddle for me. And no, my tri suit padding isn't good enough for that length of time. :-) (Update: mybike computer doesn't match what the race organizers say. They say 3:34:46, which I think is an average of 17.3 mph. Yay.)

So, T2. On with the running shoes, fuel belt, race belt, and hat. Off with the helmet and bike shoes. I planned to go to the Porta-Potty on my way out, and I did. I didn't have an urgent need to go, but I thought it would be better if I could. Plus, I got to see the kids and John as I left T2 and as I came out of the potty. (T2 time: 2:08; potty time included in the run: approx 3 minutes)

When I started running, I felt GREAT. Seriously. I felt fresh and happy and just perfect. Fairly quickly I noticed my feet felt a little weird - kind of sleepy, I guess - but that went away after about two miles or so. I didn't time my miles until about mile 2 - I was doing a 9:45. I ended up slowing towards the end and doing I think more like a 10:30 - some of those miles included some significant hill, and after the biggest hill I just slowed down. I'm not sure why - I actually felt like I was running fast most of the time - but when I checked my time from mile post to mile post, it was not quite 10 minutes for the miles from 8 to the end.

But I was happy - the goal was to run the whole thing, and I did. There were only a few people walking, unlike at Lake Stevens. The weather was great. I'm sure it was 70 degrees or so, so I was warm, but I wasn't hot and didn't need to pour water over my head or anything. I ate a packet of Jelly Bellys at miles 2, 8, and half a packet at 11, and a GU at mile 5. Anything but PowerBars, seriously. I felt strong. I never felt like I needed to eat, which I think is good - and towards the end, I felt a tiny bit of sloshing in my tummy, which I also think is good. Gordo said we need to learn to run with a full tummy, so I practiced today.

I got a cramp between miles 7 and 8, but I took deep belly breaths and blew it away. I could literally feel it disappear - just as a wind caught me and cooled me off some. Perfect.

I saw Danielle a few times - the course has three out-and-back sections, and she was about a mile behind me or so. As always, she looked happy and beautiful. She ran in a pink skirt, so I was a little jealous. :-)

I was so excited to hit the last turnaround (close to mile 10) then to re-enter the park (mile 11.5 or so), and to hit the trail (mile 11.7). At each of these points, I'm sure I sped up, though I stopped tracking my splits by then. I definitely ran the trail hard, passing one women but getting passed by another, who was just slightly too fast for me that even when I started my sprint at the end, before she started hers, I couldn't quite catch up. (Run time: 2:13:45)

I finished in 6:37:27. I had hoped that my way-better-than-Lake-Stevens run would let me finish in under 6:30 despite the extra six miles of bike, but not quite. However, I finished strong and felt good - definitely not quite as shell-shocked as I was when I finished Lake Stevens and they handed me Gatorade and water in two bottles and I couldn't figure out what to do with the choice. John and the kids were right there with hugs and kisses, and less than 10 minutes later, Danielle arrived!

Now I'm tired and sore, but happy. It was a solid race for me and the right end for this season. Just two marathons this Fall until I hibernate for the winter! (As if!)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Black Diamond Pre-Race Report

Yeah, there will be a post-race report, but I thought it would be good to write down my goals for tomorrow's race. It's so weird - I feel so calm about it, unlike how I felt about Lake Stevens!

My co-worker Bryan asked me whether this was an A, B, or C race. I hesitated, so he said, "It's a C." But upon reflection, I disagree - this race can't be rated that way.

This race is about SOLID EXECUTION. It's about taking everything I learned this season - and there was a lot! - and putting it all to work for me. Specifically, that means:

Swim: Swim comfortably. No panic. 40-45 minutes (I'm giving myself a break on the time because I've heard the course can be measured long and it's REALLY cold in that water, so I want to be able to have a buffer to keep myself calm).

T1: No dropping things. No forgetting things. Make the right clothing choices for the bike. (I think it's going to be arm warmers and gloves, but I will bring other choices and decide when I'm setting up in the morning.) Under 3 minutes.

Bike: 17-18 mph average; comfortable ride; high cadence (above 90 all the time, and really watch cadence on the big hill.) 3.5 hours would rock.

T2: My T2s have been fine. This one might be longer because I will allow myself to go to the Porta-Potty if I need to. 2 minutes or so.

Run: Run, no walking. Maintain a 10-minute mile pace. Finish the run in under 2:10.

Overall time goal: Around 6:30 - but solid execution is more important than time, which means I'm more concerned with working at the right capacity for the distance and how I feel than the actual time - and yes this means if I do an eight-hour half, but feel like I worked as hard as I could given the distance and the day, I will be okay with that.

I'm excited to go rack my bike! I'm leaving work in 45 minutes. Yay! I'll post tomorrow evening and describe how it was, maybe with pictures - though you probably won't see the blonde hair under my helmet or hat. :-)

Quick update

Yesterday the girls and I ran 90 minutes in pouring rain. Nancy pointed out that we'd run in more rain in the last month than all winter. That doesn't bode well! But we were all in good spirits, thinking up as many songs that have "rain" in the title or lyrics as we could.

Today I haven't worked out yet; I'm meeting Danielle at noon to swim.

Yesterday wasn't a great eating day, and today I'm trying to stay within a reasonable calorie goal, but with more simple carbs than usual (bagel and yogurt for breakfast).

My race is tomorrow! I'm feeling good about it. I got my bike back from Sammamish Valley Cycle after a tune-up and it looks great (especially the bright pink bar tape on the aeros and regular handlebars)!

Oh, and an update on the gorgeous Scott tri bike: It's on their web site now, but it says it's not available until Dec. 1. Sammamish Valley Cycle says they won't have them until January 1. So...I have to be patient. UGH.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shiatsu magic

I had an awesome workout planned for this morning.

Two mile tempo run (as fast as I can sustain for two miles, without dropping the speed), then indoor cycling, then repeat the two mile run but FASTER!

Unfortunately, towards the end of my run I started feeling some weirdness in my right hamstring. I felt it yesterday on my run, and it actually caused me to walk the last few minutes yesterday. When I stopped and got off the treadmill, I was limping.

It hurt through indoor cycling, so I decided to skip the second run and see if I could get a shiatsu appointment. I was lucky - one was available!

So I went at 1:30 p.m. and now I feel a lot better. Looser, warmer, stronger. I still feel slight pain in the hamstring, and I think she bruised my calf because I have a new pain there, but overall I feel good - and I made a follow-up appointment for Friday morning so I can do it all again and make sure I'm really ready to race this weekend.

Oh, and the tempo run - 2 miles in 15:30 - 7:45/m pace. That's pretty good for me!

One of the things I want to do after the triathlon is start charting my best times for the following distances:

1 mile (unknown)
2 miles (15:30 - 7:45/m)
5K (24:40 - 7:56/m)
10K (unknown)
1/2 marathon (1:57:30 - 8:58/m)
full marathon (4:17 - 9:48/m)

Okay, so I just tried this calculator, and my times really do fall in line with their predictions! So: it says I can do a 7:20 mile, and a 51:43 10K. So I'll have to shoot for those. I feel like I could run a sub-7 minute mile. We'll see.

Okay, so that's a lot of numbers. Here are some more:

Pre-workout: 110 cal Pria bar, milk in coffee: 140 cals
Breakfast: Banana bread, ham, cheese, milk in coffee: 445 cals
Lunch: 20/20 Chicken sausage pizza, 530 cals
Snack: Yogurt and granola, 200 cals
total so far: 1325 (and I'm still hungry!)

Run 30 minutes (tempo + warmup and cooldown)
Indoor cycling 1 hour
750 calories burned

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Numbers suck

I know everyone tells me not to weigh myself every day, and especially not to weigh myself morning and night.

But I'm obsessive! So I do anyway.

And I can't believe what I saw two days in a row: 145.

How can that possibly be? I ran 20 miles plus did indoor cycling for an hour on Saturday! I didn't eat more calories than I burned!

Sunday I probably did eat more than I burned, but I didn't yesterday, and I didn't Friday...and last week I was pretty good!

So what is happening? I don't feel bloated - and when I look in the mirror, I look normal. So how could my weight jump four pounds between Friday and now?

(14,000 extra calories consumed...but I didn't. Really. I'm sure I could, but it didn't happen.)

Okay, time to stop obsessing. But it's so hard!

I think what I'm going to do is to say I can't have my new tri bike until I weigh 135 lbs. Every day.

So here are today's data. I resisted the banana bread at the cafe today.

Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop and milk in coffee, 130 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, cottage cheese and blueberries, milk in coffee, 415 cals
Lunch: 4 pc california roll; 4 pc nigiri sushi; miso soup; sumonomo: 450 cals
total so far: 995 calories
Snack: 1/2 Pria bar, 85 cals
Dinner: Chicken salad (chicken, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, green peppers, low-fat cheese, avocado), 445 cals
TOTAL: 1525 calories

Run 80 minutes
Strength training 30 minutes
Calories burned: 750

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wake me up when September ends

I forgot how much it rains, and how demotivating it is to get out of bed when it's raining.

But I learned something new today about Matthew: If he says he's going to ride, it doesn't matter what the weather does - he's going to ride. He actually seemed disappointed that I wanted to change the planned route to avoid slick, busy roads.

We met at 6:30; it was still dark. Today was the last day I will attempt to start a ride before 7 a.m., at least without some serious lights. We just decided to ride about 9 miles out on the trail, then turn around and come back.

The first half hour the rain stopped, but the second made up for it by a lot. It POURED. And it was so slippery I couldn't ride in my aerobars on the flat ground; I just felt so unstable.

Anyway, not much to say other than it's time to break out the serious winter riding gear. My gloves were okay, but my booties are completely ripped up, and I need to remember my fenders next ride.

Oh, and I can't meal-track for yesterday; too random, too off-plan. Today, as I say every Monday, will be better. Plus, my weight was over-the-top impossibly high. I think that speaks to water retention in a BIG way - there's no way in the world I weigh what the scale reported this morning.

Here are today's data:

Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop and milk in coffee, 130 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, two hard-boiled eggs, milk in coffee: 415 cals
Lunch: Turkey sandwich, 500 cals
Snack: String cheese, 80 cals
Dinner: Chipotle chicken salad from Baja Fresh, 1/2 dressing, 650 cals
TOTAL: 1775 calories

Ride 1 hour, 450 cals burned

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Run to Work Day!

For nearly a year - ever since I realized I really could run 15 miles or so - I've wanted to run to work.

But schedule-wise, it's not really practical.

Today, though, we changed that. Yeah, it's Saturday and I didn't have to work, but Danielle had to teach indoor cycling at 9:15 a.m. And we had a 20-miler Run to Work Day!

And the craziest part was that Wendy, who lives in Seattle, decided to join us. (Look on a map if you're not local: Wendy lives in Seattle. Danielle and I live in Renton. The Pro Sports Club is in Bellevue, but really far north - on the border of Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland.)

So at 4:50 a.m., Wendy shows up at my house and we head to Danielle's, 1.4 miles down the road. Danielle had left her car at the Pro Club so this would be a one-way run.

Oh, I forgot to mention: the pouring rain on the skylight in my bathroom woke me at 4:10 a.m. (10 minutes before I wanted to wake up). But that was a good thing, because there was never a question about "Do we do it?" because of the rain - of course we do - I just needed to re-think my clothing strategy. Long pants instead of capris, waterproof jacket instead of semi-waterproof.

At 5:05 a.m., we were off...into the dark, rainy night. It's wrong to call 5:05 a.m. morning when dawn doesn't come until 6:40 a.m. or so.

I had mapped a route that was direct until we were about halfway there, then diverged a few times from the easiest way so we could get the mileage we needed. But unfortunately, the first part of the route included roads with no sidewalk and some with few lights. It was the safest route overall, but frankly, there's no good way to run in the dark from Danielle's house (or mine) to Bellevue.

The good thing was the dark parts were over very quickly, and the one part with no sidewalk and no shoulder afforded us the opportunity to do a quick pick-up and speed over this dark little bridge in a valley - no cars came until we were past it, back on the shoulder. And we didn't see a single soul (except for in cars) for the first hour or so.

During the first hour, I got some weird feeling in my right foot, just where it connects to my leg, but in the front. And another weird feeling in the left shin. They were fairly ignorable, but annoying. Running on my toes helped but felt hard otherwise. So...I didn't say anything and just kept running. The rain stopped after about an hour. Once we got to Factoria, about 8 or 9 miles in, I felt a massive sense of relief. It was getting light out and I knew we'd make it now.

It was a gorgeous morning once the rain stopped and the sun came out - and it did so right as we were climbing a long, long hill - not sure of the mileage, but definitely over a mile long, and steady. Then we had up and down all through Bellevue - it's a fairly hilly city, and the route I'd mapped included roads I'd never even driven, so I was surprised to find more climbing than I expected (or had advertised to the gals). However, New York is not a hilly marathon - the bridges include ascents and descents, but otherwise it's fairly flat, so training on hills will make it seem so easy. Or so I tell myself.

My pains subsided and returned over the course of the 3 hours and 48 minutes that we were out there - this time included potty stops and a stop at a convenience store to buy water when we learned there was a water leak at one of our planned water stops (a park) and the water was all turned off. I ate one GU and two packs of Jelly Bellys on the way and never really felt like I was fading; my heart rate stayed low and I felt happy the entire time (though kind of clammy, which I don't really like).

Arriving at the club - oh, we passed my office building, so I definitely did run to work - was awesome. We could not believe what we did. It's one thing to say, "I ran a marathon" or "I ran x miles" - but to say, "I ran from my house in Renton (and I did - Danielle's house is further, and we passed mine on the way) to work in Redmond" is really, really cool.

We think the route was 20 miles; the car odometer read 19, but we think because of crossing streets and just the way the roads go, we got the 20. I'm definitely counting it as a 20, anyway.

Then Danielle taught indoor cycling; Wendy and I took the class, but didn't do 100% of it. I did most, but at a lower intensity. My legs weren't all that interested in working hard anymore, even though Danielle definitely was and her work, as it always does, inspires me to work.

So now I enter a taper week in preparation for the Black Diamond Half Ironman next weekend - my last tri of the season. Yay! I need the rest!

I do know what I ate goes:

Breakfast: 1 Vitatop and small banana, 160 cals
Fuel: 1 Gu, 2 Jelly Belly packets, 300 cals
Snack: Smoothie, 250 cals
Lunch: Turkey and cheese sandwich, 500 cals
Snack: Carrot cake (yeah, birthday party), 300 cals
total so far: 1510 calories

Run 20 miles
Indoor cycling
2400 calories burned

Friday, September 15, 2006

I am in love

It was love at first sight - and it was fate.

After all, I was a bit tired from my run with Aleks this morning. I could have just taken a shower and gone to work early.

So why did I wander into the gym with an empty water bottle? Why did I stop to fill my water bottle at the water fountain under the magazine rack, despite someone using the water fountain ahead of me, and there were other water fountains around that were available?

Why, during the morning rush when there usually aren't any good magazines left, was there the October issue of Triathlete right there to catch my eye?

And why did I decide to hit the Stairmaster that day, with that copy of Triathlete in my hands, and why did I decide not to read the table of contents and instead just flip pages?

This is why:

This is my bicycle. It was meant for me.

Yes, it's pink and black - but that's not the only reason!
It's a tri bike - and not just any tri bike, but a women-specific design tri bike.
It's full carbon.
It's full Ultegra with Dura-Ace bar-end shifters.
And its cost - for the full bike - is under $4,000.

Did I mention today is Christmas at Microsoft? It's the day we get our bonuses. I've known what mine would be for a week now, but today is the day money shows up in my checking account.

This is fate.

There's just one catch - there always is, isn't there?

The bike isn't yet available in the U.S.

But my favorite bike shop - Sammamish Valley Cycle - is a Scott dealer. I called Cindy, who works there - she's been helping me find a tri bike - but she doesn't work until Sunday. So I'll have to wait to talk to her to find out when they can order one in my size.

If it is as good a ride as I expect to be, I'll be riding Canada in gorgeous pink and black style next year.

Here are today's data:

Pre-workout: Banana and milk in coffee, 90 cals
Breakfast: Bagel with egg, cheese, and ham: 475 cals
Confession: Part of a blueberry muffin: 150 cals (it wasn't a lot...but it was yummy)
Lunch: Cafeteria Indian food (chicken), no rice, naan, samosa: 600 cals
total so far: 1315, better slow down!

Run 1 hour
Stairmaster 30 minutes
Calories burned: 800

Weight this morning: 141.8 (down .6 lb from yesterday and the day before)
Pounds from goal weight: 6.8 (goal: 135)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gordo Byrn talked to me

Today Gordo Byrn came to speak to a small group of triathletes at Microsoft. It was a great talk! Here's what I took away:

- The best athletes are consistent, passionate, and persistent - not necessarily the most talented
- Be humble
- Practice running with a full tummy
- Eat real food
- Train with extra clothing on to sweat more if you're going to race in a hot climate
- Run a lot. Not necessarily long distance or fast, but frequently
- Don't go out too hard! Learn how to control your heart rate at the beginning of a race (while you're on the beach)
- Do the swim and the bike so that you can run your marathon, not walk - the race begins there
- He wears socks on the run, not the bike - but says you should wear them on the bike if you think you might get blisters
- He doesn't carbo-load and gets most carbs from fruit and vegetables and in training, carbo training foods. His "indulgence" in the off-season now was garlic cheese bread.
- Running in heat is mental! Train your brain to do it (wow do I know this one!)
- Training on a plan you can live with is better than burning out and getting sick and not executing on your bigger plan. If you can't execute the plan, it's not the plan for you
- In a given year, you should have 40 solid weeks of training (not in a row) - the other weeks are for illness, injury, rest, vacation, life, etc
- Know what your life goals are and where triathlon fits into them
- If you execute on your plan over time, you will improve. Period.
- If it's not fun, don't do it. JFT (Just ... Train)
- What is is. Don't focus on what happened before, in the last race, in the swim, in the bike, the last mile. Focus on what's in front of you and get it done

He was totally cool and inspirational. I am excited now to create my season plan for next year! There were so many times where he said something and Danielle and I just looked at each other and either knew exactly what he was talking about or completely agreed with.

Next year is going to be great!!!

Summer is over

I know summer is over because we've had rain two days in a row, and it's gray and cold.

I was not psyched about running this morning when the rain on my skylight woke me at 3:30 a.m. But I was able to get out of bed on time (4:25!) and get moving anyway. Nancy and Latosha were already in the locker room when I got there, and after a quick debate on whether it was raining hard enough to stay indoors, we decided to head out. It was only misting/drizzling, but it was the first day in a while where I needed my jacket (in addition to a long-sleeve shirt and capri-length pants).

We didn't plan a route, figuring we'd see how we felt and what the rain did. It stopped about 10 minutes into our run, so we meandered along the bike trail and then linked up with a regular route that we like to run. At about 50 minutes in, headed back towards the club, we decided to go the longer way around the block. Of course the rain started hard just then, so we pretty much got poured on for 10 minutes at the end. Surprisingly, I felt kind of whiny about it! Nancy and Latosha were perfectly fine.

Then I lifted weights and was happy with what I saw in the mirror - nice definition in my arms and legs. I need to do more pushups to tone my upper arms more, but I was able to do 15 real ones! I did them sort of fast, though, so I'm going to work on getting them done slow, like Danielle does in yoga.

My weight this morning was exactly the same as yesterday: 142.4. Here are the rest of my numbers:

Pre-workout: Banana and milk in coffee, 90 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, cheese, ham, two hard-boiled eggs, 385 cals
Lunch: Turkey breast, broccoli, baked potato (no butter, sour cream, etc): 340 cals
Snack: Yogurt and granola (1/2 packet - threw away second half so I wouldn't be tempted): 250 cals
Dinner: McDonalds Asian Chicken Salad, 1/2 dressing packet: 335 cals
Dessert: A cookie my kids baked, 200 cals (seems high, but that's what the package said), and a mini-brownie, 100 cals
Total for the day: 1700

Run 1 hour 10 min
Strength training 45 minutes
750 calories burned

Calorie deficit: 650!
Weight beginning of day: 142.4, same as yesterday

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The 5K "Fun Run"

Today I had to push myself beyond what I wanted to do.

I believe this: I race faster than I train. There's something about the adrenaline, excitement, endorphins, or whatever that gives me an extra boost.

But that doesn't excuse me from training hard - in fact, it tells me I have to train even harder so that I can race faster!

Since I rode my bike Monday and Tuesday, today I really needed to run. And I decided since I didn't have any running partners (I tried to convince a couple of the girls to come with me, but it didn't work out), I should do a tempo run.

The dreaded tempo run: the 5K "Fun Run" on the treadmill. The profile breaks down like this:

1K: Flat
.67K: 1% grade
.33K: 2% grade
.67K: Flat
.67K: 2% grade
.67K: 1%grade
.33K: Flat
.33.K: 4% grade
.33K: Flat

I ran a mile at 6.0 to warm up, then set the speed at 7.5 for the 5K.

I held the pace easily for the first 1K. My heart rate hung out in the high 160s, low 170s.

My heart rate started to climb as soon as I hit the first hill. I steadied myself with the treadmill handles and kept going.

I started counting intervals. .33K to go until the next grade change - that's 1 minute, 20 seconds. Go, Jessica. You can do anything for one minute and 20 seconds - and it's only one minute now. My mp3 player battery was dead, so I had nothing but self-talk to keep me going. Okay, .10K until the next change... .9, .8, .7, .6...

The second kilometer is always the hardest. I always want to quit then - I'm not halfway yet, so it just feels so hard and like I have so much left to go. My heart rate was about 178 or so, flirting with the 180s. But then I hit the middle part, and it flattens out, and I catch my breath.

Then it goes back up...for 1.33K. I break it into tiny pieces, just a tenth of a kilometer, and count down - then do it again. I remind myself that I'm a runner.

I hit the last little flat bit before the big hill - the 4.0% grade - and I tell myself I don't have to sprint at the end. It will be okay for me just to push through like this. Obviously I can make it now.

On the big hill, I let myself grab onto the treadmill handles, I put my head down, and push. I lengthen my stride - it seems to help, even though when I'm running flat shortening my stride seems to - and it's over before I even realize it, and the last little .33K feels so easy now, completely flat and right at the end. I know before the treadmill is all the way back down that I will push the speed. I go to 8.0, stay there for a few seconds, then 8.5 when I hit .25K left. At .20K left, my right hand is out of my control. It pushes the speed up to 9.0. And there I stay - until a second later, the treadmill is slowing and my legs are out of control and my head is completely empty.

The normal headrush that I get after running a 5K actually hurt this time - it didn't feel good. Like a bad drug? Not my good runners' high.

The two-minute cooldown ended so abruptly. I needed to restart the treadmill and continue walking - my HR was down in the 130s, but everything felt sort of wobbly and bad. After three more minutes of walking, I was okay again.

So there you have it. 24:40 was the final time; this is a tie for my best 5K time ever. Next week or the week after, I'm going to have to start the treadmill at 7.6. And I'm very afraid of that.

I've got some numbers for today:

Breakfast: Pumpkin muffin and milk in coffee, 480 cals
Pre-workout: 1/2 Power bar, 110 cals
Post-workout: 1/2 Luna bar, 90 cals
Lunch: 20/20 chicken salad, 320 cals
Snack: String cheese, 80 cals
Dinner: Shrimp stir-fry and jasmine rice, 350 cals
Dessert: 2 ginger cookies (40 cals), 1/2 c fruit (60 cals) and the last mini-Dove bar to get it out of my house (60 more cals): 160 calories
TOTAL for the day: 1590 calories YAY!

5K fun run + 1 mile + walking
400 calories burned

Today = calorie deficit (1600 metabolic rate + 400 burned = 2000 - 1590 eaten = 410 calories under)

Morning weight: 142.4. I'm now emailing Aleks and a couple other gals my weight and weight I'm going back to recording them here. Blah. Today, 142. Goal: 135. Maybe 130, but I doubt it. I don't want to drop a clothing size, just the little extra that I don't need to carry around.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Snakes on a trail!

Okay, I admit right up front: the snake (singular) on the trail (barely rhymes with plane) is completely and totally tangential to the day. But I don't care, it makes a funny title, and I don't know if I ever admitted this, but the hardest part for me about blogging nearly-daily is thinking up a title for my posts.

Anyway, I took a personal day away from work so that Danielle and I could go ride the Black Diamond bike course. I did half of it already, when I did the Olympic tri Cascade's Edge, but that was the day I got a flat and was tired from a century the day before, so I didn't think I really had a good feel for any of the course. Plus, everyone says there's a monster hill halfway through, and I wanted to experience it.

But first, Danielle was lifting weights with some friends at a gym near our houses, so I met her there for a strength-training session. Ugh. She works me hard. I usually don't think I need a trainer. Then, Danielle trains me...and I realize how much more quickly I'd see big results if I used her as a trainer (versus a training partner) regularly. This winter we share the goal of "getting ripped" - should be exciting.

So after we got plenty of lifting in (I went very light on the legs), we headed out to Black Diamond. It was so weird being at that park on a non-race day; we'd only ever been there for triathlons, and it looked so empty! Where are the buoys, the transition area, the cars lining the road for miles?

We set out on the course together, sort of side-by-side so we wouldn't be drafting. I was slightly in front, so I set the pace, and I wanted to push hard, but not have an all-out effort - I wanted to go about as hard as I would in the race, given I have to run 13.1 miles when I finish the bike. 10 miles into it, Danielle says something about my hard pace...and how she's sort of crashing and needs us to slow down.

HUH? It was surreal. I know she hasn't done a ton of outside riding lately, and especially not with me...but to be stronger than Danielle, even for one day, was just bizarre.

And what it showed me was how much she's given me and every other of her triathlete friends this summer: she's given us her season, and trained with us at our paces (some of which are close to hers, or at least her potential, and some of which are much slower). I actually feel like she has sacrificed her place in races so that her friends can be successful, because her motivation, information, and assistance has been invaluable to each of us. So I know she doesn't read this blog, but to those of you who are those triathletes I'm talking about, for whom she's given this summer - let's thank her in a big way very soon. :-)

Anyway, I was okay with slowing down. Last night I went to the Mariners game and for some weird reason decided to drink two beers. No one else with me was drinking, and I almost never drink alcohol. But I had two beers and no water, not during the game or in the evening, or even in the morning when I woke up with a pounding headache. I earned this hangover (though my husband says I didn't pay enough for it if I got it from two measly beers) and I was going to live with it. But if Danielle wanted to take it easier, cool.

We finished the first loop in 1:08 - average pace 18 mph. "Gently rolling hills" is how this part of the course is described, and I agree - it's definitely not flat, but none of the ups nor downs are that significant. We set out on the second loop, the one that contains the big climb.

It's fairly flat until you get to the mountain. I don't know what pace we were riding because I'm totally riding on cadence now - it's the only way that I keep myself from mashing, and I like to see cadence and distance on the computer, so I don't get to see speed unless I press buttons. On the second loop, I opened and ate a Pria bar and I refilled my aero bottle from a bottle in my cage on the frame. I was struck by how easily I did both of these things, and how far I've come from the beginning of the season (2,500 miles, approximately, according to my bike computer that I got in January). Oh, and one other thing was cool: because the course so far was fairly easy, I could stay in my aerobars for long, long stretches. This felt great!

So, the mountain. Danielle had said, "It's no Montreux." This made me nervous, since we used to judge hills by their comparison to Lakemont, which is smaller and easier than Montreux. So...why wasn't she using the regular comparison? Did that mean the mountain was bigger than Lakemont, smaller than Montreux?

The course description says a 2.1 mile sustained grade with flat spots. The first mile was fairly easy. It had short steep grades with easy flat parts in between. Then we got to a false top - I couldn't see land or trees higher than I was, so I couldn't understand where we'd go to continue up. Well, around the corner, I saw...and let's just say that second mile was HARD. Most of the climbs I do around here start out worse than they finish. This second mile was much harder and did not have the flats breaking up the grade. It was push-push-push all the way up. As a curiosity, I switched the computer over to speed (after all, I was in my lowest gear, so my cadence was going to be whatever I could do, which certainly wasn't 90 rpm!) and watched it drop from 8 to 7 to 6 to 5 mph. But it didn't get lower than about 5.5, and I didn't wheeze. In fact, my heart rate didn't exceed 178; that says I had some room to go.

And suddenly, we were at the top, and had miles and miles of downhill to go. This is definitely one of those hills where you get a much bigger reward for the work you have to do to get up - the downhill is like six miles or so (with some long flat parts too, but no climbing!).

The course then repeats the first loop, but we opted not to - we finished at 2:26, so adding another 1:08 (assuming I can do the same time the second loop around), that would be 3:34 for 61 miles. Yay. I'd be very happy if I could do something close to 3.5 hours for this course; anything under 3:45 and I'll feel like I worked to my capacity.

Then we did a quick little run around the lake - 1.4 miles of rocky trail. The run course ends around this trail, so it's good to get the reminder of how hard it is to run on it - must step carefully! Oh, and that's where the snake story comes in: a cute little black snake was on the trail, and I jumped to avoid it, but it got startled by us and started slithering away, so I had to keep jumping around to make sure I didn't step on him! And then Danielle starts with the Samuel L. Jackson voice and we were in hysterics.

So that was my day off. 1600 calories burned. Every day off should be so productive.

I didn't write down my food during the day, but I think I can reconstruct. It was a good eating day (well, so-so).

Breakfast: Reduced-fat coffee cake and milk in coffee, 350 cals
Snack: Yogurt and granola, 320 cals
Workout fuel: 1 Pria bar, 1 bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans: 210 cals
Lunch: Subway sandwich (no cheese), 360 cals, M&M cookie, 210 cals
Dinner: Pork tenderloin, broccoli, steamed red potatoes, bread: 800 calories
TOTAL: 2250 calories

45 min strength train
Bike 2.5 hours
Run 15 min
1600 calories burned

Monday, September 11, 2006

A new Ironman lesson

One of the things I was most looking forward to this morning was reading about Iron Wil's victory at Ironman Wisconsin.

She didn't finish.

I've been reading her blog for months now and I've been consistently impressed with her training, dedication, nutrition, and attitude. I thought about her a lot yesterday, even though I don't really know her at all, and sent little good wishes her way.

Well, stuff happens. She hasn't yet posted her write-up of the race and why she didn't finish, so I don't know exactly why yet. But as I begin my Ironman preparation, it serves as a new caution: I can train and eat and have the best support in the world, but race day, who knows what will happen.

So it just reminds me that this next year needs to be about the year, not the day - the journey, not the destination. Who knows what might derail me.

The fact that she didn't finish doesn't take away from what she accomplished in her year of training. But it's so shocking for her fans. Jessi said to me in email, "Part of me is still wondering if it's not just a bad joke or something, yknow?" And yeah, I do know!

But I'm sure she's going to rise up and and try again next year. I do believe everything happens for a reason (even though we don't always - or even usually - get to know what that reason is). I hope for Iron Wil the lesson is a good one.

So for my training, I rode around Lake Sammamish with Liz this morning - a brisk, fun, chatty ride. I realized I shouldn't be riding today at all, since this week I'm doing a huge ride tomorrow and my normal Wednesday ride, but now I guess I'll change the Wednesday plan to running.

Yesterday was a rest day; we took the kids to the Puyallup fair. Gabriel drove a pedal tractor with 225 lbs of weights in it more than 20 feet. He's so tough! We ate garbage, though, so it's time to get back on track. (I think I write this every Monday - nobody go back and check though, I don't want to know for sure.)

Today's data:
Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop and milk in coffee, 130 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, cottage cheese, peach: 390 cals

Bike ride, 1.5 hours, 600 calories burned

Saturday, September 09, 2006

18 miles = easy

But first, a little catch-up.

Yesterday morning I swam and biked (about half an hour each). Then I engaged in some completely MINDLESS eating - not just eating the wrong things, but not even thinking about it until after the food was in my tummy - so I didn't feel like blogging about that. Had I blogged yesterday, I would have talked about the really solid swim I did with Kathy - she had told me she swam slower than me, which wasn't true at all (her race times seem slower, but we ended up deciding that's because I swim faster than usual in a race and she swims slower). She set the pace and I pushed harder while swimming in practice any time all summer. It felt great! Then my bike was a short 8 miles with one nice climb - just enough work to make me feel normal. (I don't feel normal when I don't exercise.)

So this morning we had 18 miles of running on the calendar, and I got the most adorable running outfit to wear - this skirt and this top. But it was cool and threatened rain (we only got about 20 minutes of light rain, but still) so I also had to wear a long-sleeve running hoodie too (of course it was pink too). Hmm. My run wasn't easy because of my outfit, though my outfit did make me happy.

I was nervous about running in that skirt, because it doesn't have shorts underneath - just a built-in brief - and I worried that my inner thighs might touch and cause chafing. Well, it didn't happen, but I think it would have had it been warmer out and I were sweating more. I also noticed that my legs don't touch at all when I take long strides, like when I'm running fast, but when I do shorter strides they do touch a little. But it was okay. Guys, sorry for the visuals. :-)

So...the run. Like my title says, it was just so easy. We ran so comfortably, we chatted the whole time (the coolest thing was how big our group was: we started out with Nancy, Latosha, Danielle, and Wendy, plus Gabriel and Anessa on their bicycles). Nancy and Latosha only did 8 miles of the run since they're not training for a full marathon, but it still rocked to have these cool women to get up and meet early Saturday morning. It definitely puts me in a good mood for the day.

At the end of the 18, I felt 100% confident that I could have done another 8.2 to do a marathon today. I LOVE THAT FEELING. To know that my fitness level (at least for endurance) is so high that I could run a marathon any day - Yay! How awesome is that!

So this isn't my year to run a marathon fast. I wish I'd never set a speed goal for last year's marathon (Seattle, and my goal was sub-four hours. I was on pace for it until the halfway mark, where I got a killer stomachache and slowed down considerably. I did 4:17). This year, there's no speed goal for three reasons:

1) I am doing the Black Diamond half-Ironman in two weeks, so I don't have room in my schedule for a lot of speedwork
2) I am doing the Dean Karnazes Endurance 50 run when he's in Washington
3) I worry that New York is such a zoo that outside factors will prevent me from meeting my time goal

So, this year I'm just going to run the marathons for fun. But next year - I'm feeling so comfortable with the distance that I just know it's time to step up the speed and see how fast I can go. The more comfortable I get with endurance, the more I feel like something like qualifying for Boston is in reach, if I just decide that's what I want to do. Three hours, 40 minutes (at least for the next three years for me). Maybe!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A lot to work with on my swim

Knowing how to swim and swimming efficiently are two hugely different things.

I learned to swim fairly young and I've always been comfortable in the water (race swim starts excepted). I was a lifeguard and swim instructor in high school and college, so I think I know how to do all the strokes fairly well.

Well, I've always known there are issues with my execution. My left arm doesn't come high out of the water. I keep my head a little high. My kick is not very effective (despite the huge muscles I have in my legs).

So this morning, after my hour-long run with Nancy and Latosha (ow, hamstrings still hurt. But it actually feels better to run than to walk), I went down to the lake. Regan was supposed to meet me, but she had a rough night with her baby, so she called to say she wouldn't be there. I hoped some other people would show up so I could swim (won't swim alone), but at the same time I was hoping no one would show so I could bag the swim.

Well, 7:15, Jill Fry shows up. So I head down to the water with her; she swims A LOT faster, but I figured there's safety in her just being there. And we started talking, and every time I see her we just talk and talk and talk! So she ended up offering to look at my stroke as I swam.

I went out to the first buoy and she said, "There's a lot I could help you with." She said it really kindly, of course, but I knew what she meant...and the funny thing is, I was trying so hard to swim perfectly! So she offered a whole bunch of ideas, and I tried them out. Easier said than done. I thought they'd be easy, but you get into such hard-core habits that are hard to change!

Anyway, we ended up talking for more than an hour, and barely swimming. She suggested I take swim lessons or do the masters thing at Samena, which I was already thinking about. But she really strongly said I shouldn't take my four-month break from swimming, but instead use the time between now and formal training for IMC to take lessons and get better.

She also suggested I try some of the total immersion drills (she says she doesn't do all of it - it didn't all work for her - but some things are valuable) and do a web search on "front quadrant swimming." So I guess I will. I know she's right.

She also said something very timely. We were talking about coaches and I said that I didn't think I really needed a coach that much, at least not to provide motivation. And she said, "I think you're more of the type of person who needs a coach to tell them when NOT to work out."

So I had intended to swim from 7:15 until 7:45; I was still talking to Jill at 8:40 and I had a meeting with my manager to get my annual review at 9. Um, yeah, I blame that meeting for my banana-bread breakfast (something fast I didn't have to cook or prepare in the two minutes I had between my shower and my meeting).

Here is the rest of today's data:

Pre-workout: Small banana and milk in coffee, 90 cals
Breakfast: Banana bread and string cheese (for protein!) and milk in coffee, 410 cals
Lunch: Salad with salmon, 400 cals

Run 1 hour
Sort of swim
My HR monitor said 700 calories burned and an average HR of 100. :-) Since my resting HR is in the low 50s, I'll consider that okay.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The wrong response to overtraining

I am overtraining again. This is how I know:

-- I'm so tired.
-- My body is sore - especially yesterday after the circuit training class. I can't walk without a weird limp (both legs have really painful hamstrings).
-- I look for excuses to exercise more.

Yes, you read that right - when I overtrain, I create this cycle where I want to overtrain more. I feel guilty about needing and taking rest, so I try to squeeze in an extra workout or two. I try even harder to get an extra workout in if my nutrition is off, because I do sort of feel like if I just exercised more, I could eat whatever I wanted and lose weight. But at least this morning, when I intended to do an extra run, I didn't. Mostly because my running shoes are completely worn down and they make my legs hurt now. Wendy picked up a new pair for me when she was shopping this weekend, though, and I compared the tread on the bottom. My goodness, my existing shoes probably should have been replaced months ago! I can't wait to wear the new ones!

But I digress from my overtraining. Unfortunately, I don't have a plan to fix this. I will run comfortably tomorrow, do my triathlon Friday workout Friday, but low-key (not like last week when I froze, but somewhere in between leisurely and pounding), and do an 18-miler on Saturday (fairly flat, easy route). Sunday I really will rest. And get my hair done. I will post pictures of the blond 'do unless I absolutely hate it, in which case I will dye it back immediately. :-)

Today's data:

Breakfast #1: Pria bar, milk in coffee: 140 cals
Breakfast #2: Ham and cheese: 150 cals
Snack: Cottage cheese and nectarine: 150 cals
Lunch: Turkey sandwich, 500 cals
Total so far: 940 cals

Cascade bicycle club ride, 1 hour 10 minutes, 550 calories burned (allegedly a "brisk" pace, but it HURT)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First day of school

I didn't do the morning workout thing so I could see the kids off to school. First grade for my son, preschool for my daughter. Both of them pretty much ran into their classrooms, saw their friends, and ignored me. My son did let me kiss him (on the cheek) goodbye though. My daughter didn't pay me any attention once she found her best friend Christopher. Yay. Another year of, "What did you do at school today, Camille?" and her answer, invariably one of the following:

"Played with Christopher."
"Christopher went upside down and made me laugh."
"Christopher is so funny."
"Christopher does somersaults."

And while I'm completely off-topic, how about this. Camille handed me a Barbie on Saturday and asked me to play with her. She had a Snow White Barbie; mine was a teacher. So here is our conversation (I wrote it down right afterwards so I wouldn't forget it).

Snow White: Hi, my name is Snow White.
Teacher: Hi, I'm teacher.
SW: Hello!
T: Do you know your ABCs?
SW: Yes. (sings) A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P
T: What about the rest? Q R S...
SW: Q R S T U V W X Y Z now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me!
T: Very good! Do you know your numbers? Like, 1, 2, up to 10?
SW: Yes. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10.
T: You forgot some...6, 7...
SW: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
T: Great! Are you going to go to school next year?
SW: No. I have to wait for my prince.
T: Oh, Snow White! Not every girl gets a prince! Every girl needs to get an education so she can be smart and independent and take care of herself. We can't count on someone else doing that for us!
SW: Do you like my shoes?

At this point, my in-laws burst out laughing and I just rolled my eyes. Clearly I should not play Barbies.

Here are today's data:

Breakfast: English muffin, turkey, cheese, milk in coffee: 320 cals
Mid-morning snack: Cottage cheese and nectarine: 150 cals
Lunch: Sandwich (roast beef, swiss, veggies on whole wheat): 600 cals
Snack: Jamba juice, 170 cals
Dinner: Chicken and veggie stir-fry, 1/2 roll, watermelon, 1 Dove ice cream bar (60 cals): 600 cals
Total for today: 1840 cals - pretty perfect! No binging on bad things! Yay!

Circuit training class (running intervals and strength training); 1 hour; 450 cals burned

Sunday, September 03, 2006

How to be everything to everyone in one day

Yesterday I was an athlete running 16 miles. A mother being active outdoors with her son. A mother in a pretty dress taking her daughter and mother-in-law out to tea and shopping. A spouse to a business owner, helping him market his business. An employee, answering email and helping fix others' computer problems on a Saturday. A friend, going out to dinner with another couple. And a wife on a date with her husband.

Needless to say, today I'm a little tired.

First thing yesterday I met Danielle and Wendy for a 16-mile ride. Danielle's daugher and my son came along on their bicycles. We ran/rode the East Lake Sammamish trail - a new gravel trail about 9 or 10 miles long (we just ran until Gabriel's bike computer said 8.13, then turned around - we went slightly longer because he had been fooling around a little and not riding perfectly straight). It was a solid run for me - we ran between 9 and 10 minute miles and my heart rate was extremely low - I don't think it got higher than 140 the whole time, except the last mile when Gabriel fell off his bike and needed some encouragement to get back on and get going. The others had gone ahead, so Gabriel and I ran/rode an 8 minute mile - possibly even faster, I could only see the 7 on his bike computer's speed thing and not what number was next to the 7 - to catch up. Surprisingly, it felt great. I really need to start running faster more often - I think I could do it (not for a half or full marathon yet, but I am pretty sure I could run 7, 7.5 minute miles for a flat 5K now).

So after we got our Jamba Juice (yes, the lower-cal ones) for recovery - they're perfect if you add the protein boost for a 4:1 carb/protein ratio, I went home, showered, made my hair pretty and put on a cute dress to take Camille out to tea. She had cried when I said Gabriel and I were going out running/riding, and begged me to have a tea party with her. On the way to the tea house I decided to be a good daughter-in-law and invite my mother-in-law along, as she lives just a few minutes from the tea house. So we had a lovely tea and did a little shopping.

Then I went home, changed again, answered email from work, then left the house and dropped both kids off at the in-laws so my husband and I could run all over Microsoft and put up flyers for his business on the bulletin boards in the kitchens.

THEN I changed clothes in the car (yeah, on the freeway!) so John and I could get to our dinner reservation in Bellevue. Danielle and her husband met us for dinner and we spent three hours eating. Danielle has given up alcohol for the entire year until IMC; I had two glasses of wine and was drunk and sleepy.

So this post is a little broader than the usual fairly narrow scope of diet and exercise, but this is what balancing everything is like. And although it struck me yesterday with the number of clothing changes and everything how busy my life is and how much I have to work to be a decent everything (mom, employee, athlete, wife), it was actually a fairly normal Saturday.

Today I don't have anything planned, except going to church, which I've already done. However, my house is a mess, there's nothing to eat in the fridge, and I have a ton of laundry to do. But it's a gorgeous day, I want to get outside...but I also want to go to sleep and nap all day long.

So I'm off to clean and shop, and probably take the kids to a beach (lake) this afternoon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sunrise swim and freezing feet

I was incredibly disappointed to learn that sunrise is now 6:30 a.m. or so. This pretty much means the end of my early morning swims and bikes, mostly because it's going to get so much harder to convince people to come with me. At least I have my running gals!

So when I got to the lake at 6, it was so dark! But I figured the lake itself would be light enough, and it was getting light quickly. There was fog across the top of the lake like yesterday, but there was better visibility.

I thought someone had said they were going to meet me at 6, but she didn't show up. Fortunately there were enough others down there that I could get in the water. I did two laps, then saw my co-worker Bryan in a kayak. By this time, I'd pretty much decided that I was tired and not super-interested in doing the full triathlon workout. I have learned this summer that my lack of desire to work out precedes getting sick, so I figured I could bag today's bike and run. Why am I training so hard anyway? Is it because of the evil number on the scale this morning - so high I can't even type it? (Or get back on the scale to try again; I didn't want confirmation that the scale was right!)

So I offered to Bryan to take a turn in the kayak and watch the swimmers, but he didn't need me to. I did one more lap than I'd planned for a total of a mile swim, then got out. It was about an hour before I had to be anywhere, and I saw a couple of women I know but haven't worked out with much. They were headed out on a bike ride, so I asked if I could join them. They said they were doing a very easy ride, but I was welcome to come along.

Well, I learned something new. While an easy ride where we chat and whatever is fun, it's not okay to do soaking wet in 50-degree weather. Maybe 50 - could have been lower! And most of the ride was fairly shady, too.

I did put on a long-sleeve jersey over my (wet) tri suit and I wiggled my warm full-finger gloves over my damp hands, but it wasn't enough. I was so cold. It wasn't just my toes that were numb - it was the entire bottoms of my feet! And my hands, and my legs were stinging with the air hitting them. It was really uncomfortable - and even more so when I stopped. While in the car with the air on full-blast it was okay, but trying to walk from the car to the coffee shop SUCKED. And I had to do a favor for my husband, so I was at his shop for a short time before coming in to work - I had to sit on the floor by the heater vent with a blanket around me to be warm enough. And even then, my teeth were chattering and I wanted to cry. I HATE BEING COLD.

I originally started worrying about Black Diamond, because it's Sept. 23 and the water there is freezing year-round, but then I realized that if I push hard on the bike, I'll warm up enough to be okay, then I'll be running 13.1 miles and I'll definitely be warm for that. So...I think I'll be okay. But from now on, after I swim I need to either ride up hills or fast on the flats.

Finally, as I said above, my weight is really high. Usually when it's this high I can eat properly for a day or two and it drops back down to normal, but I thought that except for last night when I had the "tea party" with Camille, that I'd been eating maybe it was horrible after Danskin and just never went back down. I don't look fatter when I look at myself in the mirror. However, I found my Danskin photos from two years ago, and I appear A LOT thinner then. Now, I wasn't as strong then, but still...I look almost skinny in those pictures, and I definitely do not look skinny now. Which is okay, but I still need to drop a few pounds. Friends who read this and want to chastise me: I know you love me and think I look great, but seriously - I just want to drop 8 lbs or so, and I beg you for your support. I know you all know how hard it is to lose that last 5-8 lbs!!!

As such, here are today's data:

Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop and milk in coffee, 130 cals
Breakfast: Ham and cheddar scone plus milk in coffee, 350 cals

Swim 1 mile
Bike 10 miles
Approx 2 hours with HR monitor on
600 cals burned (see? Low key!)