Sunday, March 25, 2007

SimplyStu Worldwide Tri II

Oh no, not my ankle again! This time the culprit was a step down in the middle of a freaking sidewalk.

It was still dark early Saturday morning as I was walked from my car to meet others helping out at the Winter Park 10K. Without warning, the same left ankle that I sprained nearly a month ago buckled forward as the top of my foot found nothing but air underneath it. Luckily, I caught myself with my other foot before kissing the pavement, but I knew this was not good. %@?&$#!!!

I went on working the race anyway and enjoyed seeing MarathonChris and her daughter, and also meeting Maddy and her friend Kelly there. When I got home, I checked my ankle and found it to be tender in front. Unsure whether it would bother me during the SimplyStu Worldwide Triathlon I'd planned to do, I decided to rest it for a few hours and then do everything at home (swim in my backyard pool, ride my bike on a trainer and run on my treadmill). My plan was to do an olympic distance tri an easy pace and only for time (swim - 45 min, bike - 90 min, run - 60 min) because of the Olathe Marathon next Saturday.

I set up all my gear much as I would for a race that had two transitions areas (say, due to a point-to-point bike course). But something was missing so I went to my computer and made a SimplyStu tri bib for my race belt. Now I'd probably remember to turn it from back to front when I went from the trainer to the treadmill.

The "gun" went off at 5pm and I started swimming. Within a few minutes, however, my ankle was hurting from the water force pressing against it when flutter kicking. I then began kicking with my toes pulled back, which didn't hurt, but found myself flailing because my legs kept sinking. Eventually, I just switched to doing the breast stroke and after 20 minutes got out of the pool and decided to make the whole thing a sprint tri instead. I didn't have any problems finishing half the planned bike and run segments but was bummed about how things turned out.

That night while watching the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale, I contemplated how I could possibly continue my swim training without flutter kicking. Florida 70.3 was only 8 weeks away and swimming was already my weakest sport. Sometime during all the 007 action, it dawned on me that I could use a pull buoy and still get some quality training in. EUREKA!!

And with another day left in the weekend, why not tri again on Sunday?

This time, I decided to spread out the events over the course of the day, switch the order of the swim and bike segments, and not worry about transitions at all. In the morning, Dave (DH) and I rode our bikes along a route for 45 minutes and just turned around and headed back. Total time: 1.5 hours.

Later in the afternoon, I hit the pool with a pull buoy (my first time using one) and alternated swimming with it and breast stroking for a total of 45 minutes. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I got the job done.

Afterwards, I headed out for an easy-paced hour long run with Dave riding his mountain bike alongside me. I felt great the entire time (can you tell?).

So I ended up doing TWO SimplyStu tris this weekend: a sprint tri (Swim - 20 min, Bike - 45 min, Run -30 min) on Saturday and an olympic distance tri (Bike - 90 min, Swim - 45 min, Run - 60 min) on Sunday.

I should mention that Dave also did three "events" this weekend. On Friday, he rode one of his bikes on the trainer. On Sunday, he rode his tri bike while accompanying me on my 1.5 hour bike ride and then later he rode his old mountain bike while I ran. So, would that be a bike tri or tri-bike event?

At the very least, he deserves credit for the photos above. Thanks, Dave!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Iron Eric emailed me a couple days ago to ask how my Florida Half Ironman training had been going and I finally had to admit (mostly to myself) that I had been slacking. Yes, it's true. The last couple months I have not been training as much as I should have. Instead, I have been dealing with setting up a new home in Hawaii, lining myself for a new consulting job and rehabbing the injury from my last race. Excuses, excuses, excuses ...

My winter maintenance training has been a mish-mash. Some 30-45 minute swims here, some 1-4 hour rides there and some 1-4 hour runs sprinkled in as well. I started out following the D3 MultiSport 12 week Winter Maintenance Training Program and ended up doing mostly just the long workouts.

But this weekend I'll use the Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon to kickstart my tri training in earnest. Really, I will. With only 8 weeks until the half ironman, I need to, even though I just hope to fuel and pace myself better to be able to run stronger than last year.

So, my plan is to do a self-administered Olympic distance tri (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). Since I'm running the Olathe Marathon next Saturday, I will go easy to make sure I don't reinjure my ankle, which is nearly fully recovered but still a little weak. My measure of completion will only be time-based, not distance-based though, namely, swim 45 minutes, bike 1.5 hrs and run 1 hr. This way I won't be as tempted to push the pace. To further discourage myself from going too hard, I'll leave all pace-tracking devices at home and bring only my watch and swim/bike/run by feel, an easy feel.

If YOU have nothing else going on already this weekend, why not consider doing a Simply Stu triathlon as well? You don't have to register for any official event; you can do one on your own like I and many others are doing. There's no cost, no set distance requirements, no time limit. You can even spread out the events over the course of 3 days, 3/23-25.

If you're interested, just email Simply Stu to let him know you're participating. And tell a friend. Good deals like this should not be kept a secret!

Monday, March 19, 2007

One Mile at a Time

Well, yesterday's Foresters Miracle Bike Ride 80 mile route turned out to be only 76 miles long but I doubt anyone complained.

The first 30 miles were southward, nearly straight downwind and flat with scenic views along the Indian River. Dave (DH) and I set out riding together but somehow found ourselves part of a pace line going about 25 mph. I'd practiced drafting and pulling on my training rides with Dave but this was my first experience riding in a real pace line and I knew that I was working way too hard. The problem was I didn't know how to get out of the middle of it.

So I hung onto Dave's wheel for several miles, too scared to do anything but pedal, pedal, pedal. The guy just in front of Dave slowed us to about 23 mph, which felt good to me, but on his turn Dave cranked it back up, close to 27 mph initially, forcing me to sprint in order to keep up (crap). Then it was my turn to pull (oh no, I didn't get any rest the last mile!) and I dropped into the aero position and stayed at near my red line to maintain 25 mph as best I could. In a couple minutes the pain was over and I dropped back, way back, so I could recover and continue riding on my own. I knew I couldn't finish an 80-mile ride dumping my energy reserves so early on, not with what was in store for the second half.

Dave didn't know I'd dropped out of the pace line and so he continued riding with the group, which was fine by me. We met up at the first SAG stop at mile 23, just past Sebastian Inlet (pictured above along with the road that we rode on). Somewhere along the way, I'd lost the top soft part of my aero bottle straw but other than that, I was OK. After the break, Dave insisted on riding with me (I swear, no threats were made) and we continued the downwind stretch at a more comfortable 22 mph pace. A guy named Don caught up to us and joined us at mile 30, just as the course made a big turn and the fun began.

It started first with me almost getting blown off my bike as we rode over the causeway that spanned the Indian River. It then continued as we turned directly into the wind and got on a stretch of road that was under construction and one of the worst I'd ever ridden on. I tried not to look at the b-b-b-bouncing bike computer but could not help noticing that our speed was only about 15-16 mph now.

After 4 miles of bumps, dips, rocks, glass and other bike tire unfriendlies, we got to the road we were supposed to turn off on. It was much smoother, thank goodness, but the headwind stayed with us making even 17 mph seem like a grand achievement. At least the river views were pretty here too, though smelly (rotting mudflats, Dave pointed out). A little while later, we passed a group of cyclists waiting for one of their own to fix a flat. They were the first folks we'd seen since the SAG stop, a good sign we were going the right way.

The northward return leg on this side of the river had 2 semi-loop sections that broke up the headwind stretches into 3 segments. At the next SAG stop, located between the 2 semi-loops, we came across another group of cyclists. They were sitting down, apparently beat, and had decided they were going to skip the second semi-loop, deleting about 10 miles from the course (this was a fun ride so no penalty doing so). Bill, one of the guys from that group, decided to join us since we were still planning to do the whole ride.

With four of us now taking turns pulling about one mile at a time, the second semi-loop seemed to go much faster than the first one, which was actually shorter. We returned to face the wind head on again, but where was Bill? He hadn't said anything about dropping out so we waited for him. He finally showed up and told us he was fading having ridden something like 150 miles total this weekend. He assured us though that he had everything he needed to keep going on his own. He was also wearing a Space Coast Velo Sports jersey and looked to be a much more serious cyclist than any of us, so we believed him and continued on.

Within a couple miles, Dave, Don and I found ourselves struggling to stay together on another bad section of road and, of course, against the wind. Though we were no longer switching leads, I kept mumbling to myself "one mile at a time" to keep going. We regrouped somewhat before crossing the causeway back over the Indian River and then again at a long traffic signal where we were to turn left. While waiting we noticed the Starbucks that was mentioned on the queue sheet.

"Stop in for a tasty treat," it had said. We wondered who in their right mind would go in and sit down so close to the finish of a long ride like this? Not us, that's for sure, or else we'd never be getting back up.

The traffic light turned green and we headed north for the final 3 mile push into the wind. At last, we saw the familiar blue sign on the left and happily turned into the Walmart parking lot where the ride started and ended. We put our bikes on the car rack and enjoyed the free lunch that was being served. Shortly afterwards, Bill showed up. We talked about the tough wind conditions, other bike rides, and some movies. No one said anything negative about the course being a little short.

Total distance: 76.3 miles
Total riding time: 4:08:12
Avg speed: 18.4 mph

Thursday, March 08, 2007

LRM Photos

Below are some photos of me from the Little Rock Marathon last Sunday. The first one was taken somewhere before mile 8, where I fell. I was cruising along at an average 8:47 min/mile pace, which felt very comfortable given the cool, crisp weather conditions. The second photo was taken somewhere around the halfway point where I had slowed to about a 10 min/mile pace, but happy to be able to keep going.

The next two photos were taken as I approached the finish line. By then, I was feeling no pain whatsoever, running hard and overjoyed that I had actually made it. This Arkansas race was my 29th state in my 50 states marathon quest and my 39th marathon overall.

My ankle ballooned in the medical area, making for a very slow 0.7 mile trek back to the hotel. Once in my room, I did my usual ice water bath routine. Now 4 days later, the ankle is only somewhat swollen (usually pretty boney-looking) and I'm no longer limping. The scrape and bruises are healing quick too.

The only thing that looks to have sustained permanent damage is my glove. I'll have to get a new pair before the Olathe Marathon in Kansas end of this month.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beware of Little Rock

No, not the Little Rock Marathon itself. I mean a little rock at mile 8 of the race.

Everything was going so smoothly until my left foot found it and my weak ankle gave way. Down I went, hard, and I could not get back up.

Whoa. This could be serious.

I took a minute to do a quick assessment -- nothing seemed broken, but a nasty scrape on my right knee, bruises on both knees, a hole in the palm of my left glove (no hand injury though), and a probable sprained left ankle. I cursed to myself as a kind female runner helped me get back on my feet so I could hobble off the course.

Thankfully, I guess, I'd fallen right near a water station. A volunteer asked if she should call for medical assistance or transport back to the start/finish area (same for both the half and full marathons), but my pride immediately declined and said I wanted to try to get there on my own. I just asked for some tissue to wipe off the blood oozing from my right knee. I then took a few deep breaths and headed back onto the course, still limping quite badly.

I was truly pathetic, going no faster than probably a 30 minute per mile pace, and began debating the merits of continuing. But after about 10 5 minutes of hobbling, my left ankle miraculously started to feel better! Perhaps the adrenaline started kicking in and killing the pain? Whatever the case, I was able to switch to a limping jog instead that gave me hope that I might actually be able to make it to the half marathon point.

The ankle seemed to get neither better or worse after passing mile markers 10, 11 and 12, but I was moving along at around a steady 10 minute pace so I made the big decision to continue on instead of dropping out at mile 13.1. Finishing, no matter how slow, seemed much better than the thought of another DNF. (For those who may not know or remember, I did not finish my last race, Ironman Florida 2006.)

Before going further, I stopped into a porta-potty and glanced at my right knee. To my horror, I saw that globs of dark red blood had dribbled down my shin to my sock. But the blood was dry and the leg looked a lot worse than it felt so I just left the mess and headed out again. It was more important to keep moving to avoid my ankle swelling and stiffening up, which was already beginning to happen during my little break. I crossed the halfway timing mat in 2:05 and started up a gentle 3-mile long hill.

Now, usually, hills are my weakness so I am not fond of them. But this time, the hills seemed to work in my favor. Perhaps more effort meant more pain-killing adrenaline? Not sure, but I just kept plugging away and other participants kept coming towards me, which made me really feel like I was back in the race again. Along the way, there were pockets of lively music and spectators cheering me by name (names were printed on the bibs), even people handing out doughnuts, cookies and other treats!

After cresting the hill at mile 16, there was a somewhat steep 2-mile downhill section that was a bit scary for me. I was exceedingly careful about where I stepped, making sure my feet found no more little rocks or whatever to cause another fall. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom and at mile 18, the start of the flat, 5.5 mile out-and-back section.

This was probably the toughest part of the course for me because I hate long out-and-back sections, particularly late in a race. Plus, there was an annoying headwind on the outbound section and seemingly few spectators and distractions. To pass the time, I made a point to cheer for other participants that I passed, many of whom were walkers wearing "This is My First Marathon" signs on their back (walkers were allowed to start 2 hours earlier). I also began cheering for some who had already made the turn and were headed in the opposite direction. It still seemed to take forever ...

When I finally reached the turnaround (mile 20.5), I immediately perked up mentally and started picking up my pace. Besides having a tailwind helping, I was confident by then that my ankle was going to hold up to the finish. In fact, like running uphill, it felt better while running faster too (more adrenaline again?) and I knew I had plenty of energy left from having slowed down considerably earlier. So why not?

To help motivate me, I set out to catch a couple of runners who had passed me around mile 19. I caught up to the guy about a mile later but the woman he was with before was nowhere in sight. As I looked for her, I ran for a little while with an Army guy carrying a U.S. flag and we chatted briefly about the Marine Corps Marathon, my favorite large race and one he planned to run later in the year. He then urged me to continue running strong as I pulled away or he fell back, I don't know which.

After a little hill at mile 25, I finally saw the woman I was looking for and gave her a hearty word of encouragement as I went by her. She was wearing a blue bib so I knew this was her first marathon and she had obviously run a smart race to be running so well near the end.

One more turn and the finish line was straight ahead, just down a little incline. There was a good crowd along the final 0.2 mile stretch and by then, I was feeling no pain whatsoever. I ran hard to the finish line and crossed it with a net time of 4:05:50. It was my worst race time to date, but only by about a minute and a half so not bad considering what happened back at mile 8. And running a 5-minute negative split (second half faster than the first) is always a good thing in my book.

After getting my humongous medal (4" x 6" and purported to be the world's largest finisher's medal!), I made my way to the medical area to get my knee and ankle checked out. The staff shook their heads as they cleaned and bandaged me up but all I could think of was how much I actually enjoyed this race. The rolling course, great running weather, good music (often in the most unexpected places!), enthusiastic spectators, incredible race medal and, yes, even my extra struggles all made for a very memorable race experience.

Lesson learned: A little rock in the way can still result in a good day.

(I'll try to post more photos from the race in a few days.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hawaii Trip - Feburary 2007

I spent most of my time during this trip shopping, not at the beach or training (*gasp*). I severely underestimated the effort required to set up a new, for the time being, second home. Thank goodness my sister Joyce, who lives in Austin, kindly volunteered to come out and help me with this herculean task. My husband, who has no interest in shopping for things unrelated to bikes anyway, had to go to Omaha (poor guy).

For two straight weeks I prowled through stores looking for and buying furniture, lamps, electronics, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, and bedroom stuff. As well as miscellaneous items such as basic tools, a short ladder, a welcome mat and a fly swatter, just in case any unwelcome guests showed up. In addition, being in Hawaii and near the beach, a shoe rack, beach chairs, beach towels and some beach toys. I didn't even attempt to get pictures or any other home decor items this trip but did make sure to get a bike rack, since there's no garage, which instantly made the place feel more like home.

With the exception of large furniture items, which would be delivered, Joyce and I had to carry everything up 2 flights of stairs to my second floor condo (no elevators). I'm unsure as to how many miles I logged walking around in stores or climbing stairs, but it was surely the perfect way to taper for my upcoming Little Rock Marathon -- NOT!!!

In between shopping, lugging, and sore feet, we did have a little time to enjoy some nearby Hawaii sights, though. Like Honl's Beach, which is right across the street and, essentially, my back yard (that's Joyce behind the palm tree, not me, for the record).

We jogged along Alii Drive, a popular race and recreational route for walkers, runners and cyclists that goes past numerous condos (including mine), homes and scenic beaches. Within a mile going north are numerous shops and restaurants, as well as the start/finish area of the Kona Ironman. About 4.5 miles south is Keauhou Shopping Center and Kamehameha III Road, a nice 1.5 mile long steady hill climb with a wide road shoulder and sweeping ocean views.

Besides beaches and ocean swimming/snorkeling areas, we checked out a couple pools. The one located at the condo complex is big enough to swim laps in but probably for no longer than 30 minutes or one would get dizzy. A real lap pool is about 2 miles away at the Kona Community Aquatic Center. There are actually two junior olympic size pools there and we saw one being used for some aqua class and the other one for lap swimming alone -- COOL!

If we got done early with shopping, we tried to make it back in time to enjoy the beautiful sunsets from my condo lanai and loft.

And as a special treat, I took Joyce to the famous Donkey Balls Factory Outlet store, located a small town called Kainaliu, 8-10 miles south of Kailua Kona. Click the image below to view a little You Tube video she created from that trip and what Christina, her daughter, had to say about Donkey Balls.

I'll be back in June so more Hawaii pictures to come.

PS - If anyone is interested in buying property on the Big Island, I highly recommend my real estate agent, Cindy Wild. She's very easy to work with and is also a marathon runner and a volunteer at the Kona Ironman. She definitely goes the distance and beyond for her clients!