Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Color is Your Parachute?

Mine was actually black but it didn't matter. Swimming 200 yards with that thing on never felt so hard.

Then came 200 yards kicking with fins on one side, which was considerably easier but no arms were to be used except to take a breath and then switch sides. Felt a little twinge in my hamstring but nothing major.

Felt something else that was really weird disturbing, though ... a very warm stream of water hitting my arm as I was kicking and looking down so I couldn't see where it was coming from. I feared the worst. WTF, is someone peeing on me? Turns out they'd activated the fountain-like cooling system because the pool was too warm (I'd guess above 85 degrees). When it kicks on, there is warmer water in the pipes that gets ejected into the sides of the pool. Great, now it was probably a degree or two warmer near me.

After that, 200 yards with a belt that had two protrusions at the hip. Me: Hey, Coach, this thing is interfering with how I finish my stroke. Coach: It's telling you that you need more hip rotation. Doh!

Another 2x200 yards with no toys working on high elbow catch and putting it all together. Then finally 200 yards easy. Ahh ...

But wait, there was more to come:

4x50 yds in 0:55 with 5 sec rest - Fast for me!

2x75 yds in 1:15 with 5 sec rest - Ridiculous, I got no rest at all!

4x25 yds all-out sprint with 20 seconds rest - I made it without puking!!

Then 200 yards cool down with a pull buoy plus 600 yards warm-up for a total of 2450 yards.

Oh, and all the slower swimmers from last week were not there this week so I was back in the slow lane. But, I was not the slowest person in that lane (there were two of us). Hopefully, the other new guy won't get scared off. Cuz I'm liking these group swim workouts. Reminds me of bootcamp classes I used to take and teach.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Opportunity Knocking!

Last Saturday for the first time ever I got a weird hamstring pull in my right leg and was able to run only 7 of 10 easy-paced miles I'd hoped to do with a group. Now, having run full marathons 6-7 days after another marathon in the past, I doubt it was caused by running. The most likely suspect is a hard swim workout I did the day before that included 2x100 yards of kick board drills, which I rarely do because I'm a terrible kicker and I've actually wanted to kick less while swimming freestyle anyway. But I felt completely recovered from my marathon on Friday and thought why not do what the swim workout book says?

Well, I definitely felt my glutes and hammies after the kick board but thought nothing more of it until I felt a "pop" in my hamstring during the run. Darn it! Needless to say, I will not be running the 5K I'd hoped to run this Thursday and probably not the bike time trial next Tuesday either. I know hamstring injuries can be a b*tch if I don't let it heal so I will be taking it easy for a while. Luckily, I have no more marathons until the end of September and the faster running I'd hoped to do this summer I will just have to play by ear.

However, this gives me the perfect opportunity to work on my swimming again and yesterday was the first meeting of a new tri club group that has started up at a YMCA located only 2 miles away. For $60/month, there will be two club workouts a week and I'll have unlimited access to the pool/gym for other workouts on my own. Even though I'm on travel up to 4 months a year, I think it's worthwhile (unfortunately, they can't waive the dues when I'm gone).

And yesterday's tri club swim workout was great. Surprisingly, I was not in the slowest lane (I usually am) and the coach actually thought my swim form looked good -- WOO HOO! It was tough doing the faster intervals using only my arms to go faster (I was barely kicking) but the hardest were the 8x25s that included pulling ourselves out of the pool at each end and then jumping (not diving) back in. The coach actually let me get away with doing only 6 because I felt another mild "pop" in my hammy after the 6th one and was afraid any more out&ins might do more harm than good. My arms were thoroughly pooped by the time I got home :-)

But, I got some bad news about my speeding ticket. Because it was issued in Idaho, I CANNOT attend traffic school or do anything to prevent the points from appearing on my Florida driving record. So for the next 3 yrs, I could be paying something like 27% more for car insurance :-(

An extra $900-1000/yr for insurance and a gym membership adds up quick, doesn't it? Better make good use of the latter ...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Montana Trip Photos

Yes, the camera was busy this trip! I actually flew into Salt Lake City, UT, and drove 7.5 hours up to Missoula, MT. Why? Because I enjoy driving and haven't seen northern Utah, much of Idaho or Montana before. Plus, my (step) daughter and her husband live in the SLC area. So it was a chance to see them and more of that part of the country, all while escaping FL heat and humidity for a little longer :-)

Unfortunately, husband Dave couldn't come along, though he wanted to, because he already had business trips to San Diego, Washington DC and Seattle (in that order) during the same time I'd be gone. Here's what he missed:

Hello Montana!

Pretty Clark Reservoir. Where's my wetsuit?

Bison?  Bull ... It was in the same spot on the return trip too.

Rolling pastures.

Clark Fork showing me the way to Missoula.

A famous festival held July 30-August 3 this year. Darn, I would miss it ...

In Missoula, Clark Fork gets pretty big and goes right through town.

A closer look at the river after picking up my race packet at the expo nearby.

Guys trying to paddle UP rapids in short stubby kayaks. Man vs. Nature and Nature was usually winning.

The fish I caught on this trip. Really big ones, too.

Me and the kids who both tower over me so best to be sitting down. Last time I saw them was last Thanksgiving. Great to see them again!

Official Missoula Marathon race photos are now available and can be found here, if anyone is interested. Sorry, looks as if I took a Happy Pill that morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Missoula Marathon

Good and bad news: No more speeding tickets. (Got one in Idaho as mentioned below in the meme.)

But, I sort of hoped to be speeding during the Missoula Marathon. With a forecast of cool, crisp low 50's at the start and high 60's at the end, the weather was perfect. Only one hill just after the halfway point. So what the heck was my problem?

Near as I can tell, altitude. Although the race was only at 3000 to 3200 feet and some had told me it should not bother me, all the symptoms were there. Labored breathing while running a normally comfortable 9-ish pace, unusual thirst and peeing (more than once). But, nowhere near as bad as during the Colorado Marathon, which was run at 5000-6000 feet and led to my best (most enjoyable) worst (sluglike) PW of 4:32:05.

Now, had I used the running calculator that Stef had recently mentioned at the Bar, I would have known that running at 3000 feet meant I should adjust my expectations by 8 minutes. Doh!

Still, I learned something new about running at higher-than-usual-but-not-very-high altitude (I have another one at a similar altitude later this year). I had a good time overall and now have one less state left in my 50 states quest. And, really, 4:04:35 is not all that bad.

This race report will be mostly pictures since the beautiful Montana scenery was the best part about this race, not my running.

The cool mile markers used at this race. Made by local artists, they were available for sale at the expo along with other artwork (the proceeds going to charity). Of course, they would not be available to take home until after the race.

For the start, we were bussed to a small town called Frenchtown. Here's where they dropped us off. Looked like we'd been transported back to the Old West but with a paved parking lot.

The first few miles, we were running towards a big paper mill. It was actually quite ugly with its smoke stacks spewing white smoke into the air but at least it gave us something to run towards. Other than it, there was just miles and miles of farmland framed by beautiful mountains and big sky. Photo inset: me after passing the paper mill.

Around mile 7, we passed a large stable and saw our first big group of spectators. Saw some bison too in a corral but the photo didn't come out, unfortunately. For those who don't know, all photos during my races are taken while running!

Then back to more openness. By this time, I've talked to a guy from Seattle and another from San Diego who both told me they, too, were breathing harder than normal. Whew, it's not just me! I finally back off my original pace and hope I've not pushed too hard for too long already. Photo inset: me and the guy in back who knows he's in my picture so he hams it up some.

After mile 9.4, we finally turn off the same road we've been on since the beginning of the race. Nice change! We head past a pretty river called Clark Fork and see some folks heading out to do some rafting. I realize I need to pee and end up waiting for what seems like 5 minutes (really, probably only 2) to use a porta potty at the next aid station. Finally, a volunteer comes out and apologizes for taking so freaking long. Oh well ...

At mile 11.4, we turn onto Big Flat Road, which takes us into a nice shady forested area. Ironically, along this road is where the one and only hill on the course lies.

I cross the halfway point in 2:00:46 but know I'm not feeling as good as I should. Crap. Looks like I did go out too hard at the start. The hill is about 1.5 miles long with a deceiving dip about halfway. It's not any steeper than the ones I ran at the Kentucky Derby Marathon but I'm huffing and puffing and getting nowhere fast. But at the top waiting for me is a view of the river down below. Gorgeous!

After that, mile 15, there's a good downhill that makes it evident that I have to pee again. ARGH!! Fortunately, this marathon has at least one porta potty at every aid station (obviously, the race director is a woman :-). The wait this time is less than a minute and I'm back on the road hoping that'll be it in the pee department.

Back across the river we go over this cute one lane bridge near mile 16. A woman about my age running near me says that she used to jump off the bridge when she was young. I give her that "You've got to be kidding " look as the water looks to be only a couple feet deep but she assures me it's deeper in this one spot on the other side. Then she passes me. Eek! I'm usually the passer, not the passee late in a marathon.

So I stuck with her hoping to catch the 4-hour pace group, which snuck past me while I was in a porta potty. Those devils! After mile 20, however, she slowed down and I did the same after mile 22, involuntarily. Sorry no pictures the last 10 miles as I was working too hard. They were mostly just residential areas anyway.

Still, I'm managing to pass more folks than those that pass me (4 to be exact, one of whom was a much younger woman). Finally, I got to the last turn and see the finish line just on the other side of a bridge. And it looked like all of Missoula had lined up along it. Their wonderful cheering gave me extra energy to finish strong and the smile that left me around mile 22 came back bigger than ever. Jen was right, what a great town this is. Thanks Missoula!!

Final time 4:04:35 (9:20 avg pace)
8/25 F45-49 (the second largest female division!)
First half 2:00:46
Second half 2:03:49, not as bad as I thought it would be :-)

PS - Isn't that a cool race bib number?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

6-Point Meme

Well, it's been a while since I've been tagged but TinaGirl finally caught me. And it's about time I wrote a new post so here we go, 6 more random facts about me:

1. Without contacts or glasses, I'm blind (seriously, my vision is something like 20/600+ in both eyes). One of the many reasons why I didn't swim much when I was younger is because I didn't know about swim goggles.

2. My husband says he's never seen someone so little snore so loud. Maybe that's why all his jobs seem to involve so much travel?

3. The hardest thing about teaching for me was remembering student's names. In fact, I can forget a person's name almost immediately after meeting them. (OTOH, if their names were numbers, things would be different).

4. I look forward to crossing the finish line of a race someday with my grandkids. I want a race shirt that says "Grand Mama Jama" written on it.

5. Recently I've been thinking it wouldn't be all that bad to have a boring part-time job that allowed me to read/write blogs and surf the Internet to look busy.

6. Nowadays I rarely drive more than 5mph above the posted speed limit. But today, in Idaho, apparently I'd missed seeing a sign that dropped the speed limit from 50 to 40mph. Damn.

And like many others, I'm not tagging specific people but if you wanna play or have got nothing else to write about, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, July 07, 2008

How to Set 5K Race Goals?

OK, I need your help. How do you folks who run 5Ks figure out your time goals?

I know there are tools like McMillan's Running Calculator where you can plug in shorter race times to get an idea of what your longer race times might be and what your training paces should be. But for a person who has run almost exclusively long distance races, does it make sense to use such a calculator to go backwards and figure out the same things for a 5K? Or, should I plug in an even shorter race time, say, my recent 1-mile time trial performance?

Doing so gives me the following prediction and goal paces, all of which seem outrageously fast to someone who rarely runs sub-9 minute miles:

Input Distance5K PredictionPace
1-mile time trial21:396:58
10 mile PR21:156:50
1/2 marathon PR21:016:46
Full marathon PR21:206:52

Maybe it's better that I just keep chipping away at my 5K race times until I find I can go down no further?

I know it will probably take me a couple years to develop the speed and discipline it requires to run my optimal 5K race time with the marathon and triathlon training I'm doing, but I gotta say that the prospect of doing so is very exciting to me, more exciting than doing an Ironman right now (because endurance has always been my strength and being relatively new to swimming and cycling, I'm pretty sure I can do an IM in my 50s-60s and still see some improvements). Pure running speed, however, is something that I will probably begin to lose soon since I started running competitively at age 40 and am now in my 7th year. So if I'm going to try to run my fastest 5K times I think it's now or never!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Watermelon 5K

My second 5K is now history. I finished in 22:19 (7:11 pace) but the best part: no injuries!

With the Missoula Marathon next weekend, that was my biggest concern. Three years ago I ran my first 5K and my right Achilles tendon hurt like a motha afterwards. I also went out way too fast on a hot August morning and felt so bad during the second half that I never wanted to run another one ...

But time heals all wounds and it was time to try again. This was just a fun run, however, no timing chips. I can do this!

When Dave and I got there, we dropped off our donations for care packages being sent to the 3rd Battalion Combat Team, 4th Infantry-Division. Their chaplain is an Orlando native and they're currently in their 6th month serving in Iraq. Always a great feeling to do something for the troops!

Then I met up with some friends who were also doing the race (photo below L to R: me, RunningGeezer262, Sheri & Bob). We ran about a mile or so to warm up but it didn't take much to break a sweat. Yep, nothing like a hot & humid FL morning to get the ol' sweat glands working overtime. In fact, the reason the race has no timing chips is to discourage people from over-exerting themselves in the heat.

After the warm-up, we lined up in back of the 7-minute pace sign, which wasn't too far back, maybe 30-50 feet (there was no banner overhead or line/mat across the road, just markers on the side of the road which I couldn't see well being in the middle). Initially, I was thinking I'd shoot to finish in 24 minutes but decided 23 minutes (7:23 pace) would probably be OK as long as I didn't start out too fast. The horn goes off and I started my watch right away.

Within a hundred yards of the start we made a hard right turn and I remembered what RunningGeezer262 told me just before the race about getting caught in a bottleneck going on the inside of the turn. Oops, I should have gone wider!

Along the next straightaway, though, I pass him and we make another right turn soon. The crowd continues to thin out and it becomes easier to run without jockeying so much for position on the turns. At the first mile marker, my watch says 7:12. Hmm, didn't feel that fast!

The second mile seems to have even more turns and I'm sure that I've slowed down some but my watch says I ran it in 7:09 -- No way!

Soon afterwards, I pass a young woman who was breathing louder than I've ever heard anyone breathe. She passed me back as we headed down a little slope but I caught her again on the turnaround as we headed back up and no longer heard her (hopefully, she didn't keel over and die!). On the other side, I see RunningGeezer262 less than minute back. He says 'hi' and I think I just managed a grunt.

The last half mile seemed to stretch on for much longer but we finally got to the last turn at mile 3 and began our sprint to the finish. Then I see a guy right in front of me who's stopped in the middle of the course. Uh-oh!!

Yes, he barfs big-time just as I go around him but, fortunately, nothing gets on me. I continue on to cross the finish line in 22:19 (last 1.1 miles at a 7:14.5 pace). A good effort!

I don't remember the exact race time of my first 5K (so long ago that I can't find the results online, it seems) but know it was 21:50-something. Nevertheless, I'm much happier with how I ran this race. I think with some speedwork, a straighter course and more 5K experience I can probably get below 22 again without it hurting too bad. We shall see!

Thanks Dave for taking the photos!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Okay, ENOUGH. I've been a bit too content doing marathons and half iron tris. I've been avoiding the short/hard/fast stuff.

Why? Because I love going for hours at an easy-to-moderate pace. Going hard-to-puke fast, uh, not so much. I've also wanted to focus on my swimming more and tend to get injured if I push really hard. And my bike crash back in February did not help. Excuses, excuses, excuses ...

But while in Hawaii last month, I had the opportunity to go "fast" without it hurting too much. Actually, it was a total surprise. I ran with a group for the first time in 3 years and we did some speed and hill work for about 30-45 minutes. Then at the end, the coach had us run a one mile time trial down a gentle grade. I was totally shocked to finish first in 6:15.


Now I'm sure if it had been a flat course I wouldn't have thought it'd be as easy. And probably if we hadn't done the other stuff before, I wouldn't have thought that I had an advantage, being the endurance person I am. But both gave me a huge mental boost and I gave it my all.

Somehow I need to bottle up that confidence and drink some before I stop myself anymore.

As a start, I'm getting back to doing other things that have given me confidence in the past: push-ups, pull-ups and dips. Though never easy for me, these were pretty regular staples when I was training in the martial arts and teaching fitness classes 3-5 years ago and they made me feel like I could do anything. Right now, of course, I can barely lift my arms but I do feel better about myself having resumed doing them. (Thank you Ellie, Kevin and MizFit for motivating me!)

And while I'm at it, I've signed up to run my second-ever 5K on 4th of July. With 3,000 people, it'll be very crowded but, heck, it's not even timed so who cares. I'm just going to put myself out there and see what happens.