Sunday, August 31, 2008

Getting Back To It!

Wow, this has been a great week for me. Lots of positive signs that I am ready to get back to doing some serious training. And with 2 marathons and a half iron tri just over two months away, it's about time!

Tuesday - A solid 7-mile bike time trial (TT) performance, my first race since the hamstring pull a month ago and only 2 seconds slower than last time back in May (22.6mph avg). I followed it with a little 15-minute brick run to return the timing chip to the registration tent. Got some strange looks from others but it was my first outdoor run in a month and first brick since my sprint tri back in June -- Much reason to smile!

Wednesday - My first tri club spinning workout (and first spinning workout in ~10 years!) and I must say that there's nothing like new pain to make you forget about old pain. 10 minutes into it, I'd totally forgotten about the bike time trial the day before. Then afterward we ran repeats in 90+ degrees and high humidity which made me forget about the spinning. But I hadn't done any fast running since the 5K on July 4th -- More reason to smile! Then I swam 1350 yards easy in the pool (no pull buoy or fins). Let me clarify, there never used to be such a thing as an easy swim workout after I'd done a hard bike/run workout!

Thursday - An easy-paced 12-miler on my treadmill. Last week was 16 on the treadmill and next week will be 20 outside. I've always set the thermostat to 82-83 degrees to avoid getting too spoiled and, luckily, I won't be in Florida next week ;-)

Friday - 4050 yards swimming!!! Because I screwed up and thought the swim conditioning class started at 8:30am instead of 9:30am. So I decided to swim on my own for an hour and then do the class. Besides freestyle, I did 750 yards of kickboard, 500 yards breaststroke, 200 yards sidestroke and 100 yards backstroke. And during class, I made a startling discovery: breaststroke now seems awkward to me!

Saturday & Sunday - 40-mile and 27-mile bike rides. Dave has been struggling in the heat & humidity so we kept both rides fairly short and easy paced. But there was this one stretch for a couple miles straight into a 15-16 mph headwind today that I couldn't resist ... I hammered off on my own to see how fast I could go (maxed out at 19.2mph). On the way back, I got up over 27 mph -- Sweeeet!

Tomorrow I leave for 3 weeks of training in Kona. I've been asked to test out some athlete-engineered skincare products by Mission. I'll also be catching up on my blog reading.

Have a great Labor Day, Everyone!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Post-Fay Update

TS Fay and her far-reaching rain bands are finally out of here -- WOOHOO!! Here's a few aftermath photos that are sure to NOT make the news.

Lots of water in our backyard that only threatens to increase the mosquito population.

A big (~20") flat-shelled turtle that is not happy conditions are drying out.

A smaller, rounder one enjoying the wet grass.

A usually popular road for cyclists, but not today.

In other news, I'll be holding the first people trivia contest at this week. Up for grabs is a $25 gift certificate from an online sporting goods retailer (e.g.,,,, or Just be the first person to answer the question correctly!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fay, Fay, Go Away

Earlier in the week, you caused my Monday night swim group workout to be canceled, 3 hours of frantic mowing and tree trimming (SOP before the first major storm of the season), and concerns about power outages/surges. Then you decided to skirt south of us but slow down, turn back towards us and dump 8-10 inches rain in the past 24 hours. I've had to drain my overflowing backyard pool twice. The YMCA pool is closed (WAAH!). And roads are a mess with tree pieces strewn about from strong winds and drains/sewers struggling to keep up with all the water.


But, she continues to take her sweet time ...

And until Fay moves her fat fanny out of Central Florida, outdoor workouts are limited. At least I managed to get in one good swim workout on Tuesday before they closed the pool (I was the only crazy person there). Wednesday's 16-miler on the treadmill went well. Thursday was a rest day. Friday (today) will probably be all indoor workouts and we'll just have to see what pans out for the weekend.

Luckily, though, we're not having to paddle a canoe to get to our mail box or deal with gators swimming in the streets. Some areas just an hour east of us are badly flooded.

No, we're just inconvenienced. Whoops, just had a big power flicker and heard a transformer blow!

So I'm going to make the rest of this quick. Thank you to all who replied to my road bike post. YES, I have decided to get one too. But I'm going with yellow instead of the blue near the stem since I often wear yellow and, of course, want to match my bike (click for a closer look).

We'll get fitted end of October and early next year, the bike stork should be making a big delivery. A happy husband, more options for cycling, better bike handling skills and probably hopefully faster bike splits too ... Puuurrriceless.

Friday, August 15, 2008

On to Better Things!

OK, now that my head has been cleared, I can go on to talk about other much more positive things that have happened this past week:

- Swam in the FAST lane with the tri club group on Monday! I was in the intermediate lane to begin with but some other guys not in the tri group came to swim and we went from 3 lanes to 2. Coach put two of us from the intermediate lane into the fast lane and one in the slow lane. It was the first time I'd also ever swam with 5 people in a lane. But about halfway through a set I noticed there was only 4 of us. The other woman from the intermediate lane has switched to the slow lane. I stayed, though I was the slowest of the 4 by far. Stubborn :-)

- Ran 12 miles easy on the treadmill on Wednesday. The longest previous run since the hamstring pull nearly a month ago had been only 5 miles so a big step up. But endurance was not really an issue, just whether the hammy would hold up (it did!). Next week I'll do 16 and hopefully be back into marathoning mode by the end of this month, which is good because I am still planning to run the Clarence Demar Marathon in New Hampshire end of September and the Portland Marathon in Maine a week later.

- Worked 5 hours both on Wednesday & Thursday down at Track Shack helping out with packet pick-up for the first race of the season this weekend (our main running season goes from Aug-Apr). Great to see a lot folks I haven't seen since the last race on 4th of July. I'll also be working race registration on Sunday morning. While the hammy seems to be fine for long easy-paced runs, it does NOT yet feel ready to do any fast running so I'm putting a stop to any subversive thoughts ;-)

- This morning I discovered a swim conditioning class at the YMCA. I wasn't sure what that exactly meant but it turns out to be another lap swimming workout but with more variety of strokes used (free, breast, side, back). Good! The instructor also turned out to be someone I had known from before (I'd wanted her to take over my aerobic classes a couple years back when I began traveling a lot). Been a long time since I did side or back stroke, though (Oh my, definitely need work!). The best part was the water temp. Thanks to some cloudy days and rain this week, the pool was now down to only around 80 degrees -- HEAVEN!!!

- And I haven't yet made a final decision about the road bike. I'm still waiting to hear back on the price (it's a custom bike with a custom paint job so no prices posted) and about any discounts. One thing for sure: I won't be getting the bike as shown, which with Campy components would retail for about $8800 -- YIKES!

Eyes Wide Open

Sorry, this is a rant but I must get it out!

Heard a house alarm blaring.
Suspect #1 seen running to a car parked nearby: Hispanic male, 20-30 yrs of age, 150-160#, shaven or near shaven head, t-shirt and shorts
Suspect #2, driver: Unknown
Car: Red, looked like a Ford Focus, no front license plate

That's what I told police yesterday as I left my house shortly after lunch. It happened all in a matter of seconds just a block from where I live. I heard a house alarm faintly while in my car, rolled down my window to make sure it was what I thought it was, turned to look in the direction of the sound, saw a guy running to a car parked the wrong way on a side street. The car took off quickly and pulled up right in back of me as I waited to cross a major intersection. I was in the way of their only exit out of our little quiet subdivision.

What to do? Should I stay there to block them in and call police? What if they have a gun or become violent? What did I really see?

Well, I wasn't 100% sure they had anything to do with the alarm since I didn't even know which house it was coming from. The guy running to the car wasn't carrying anything and could have just been in a hurry to get someplace (like me). So I turned left (while they turned right), continued on for a bit, pulled over and called the police non-emergency number to report a suspicious incident.

Unfortunately, I have that number programmed in my cell phone. A year ago, I came home from the pool and saw a couple of high school age guys and a car parked in front of a house two doors from me but assumed they were friends of the kids who lived there and didn't pay much attention to them (the house had been broken into). A couple months ago, another house about 5 doors away was burglarized sometime in the middle of the day when the owner(s) was at work (I never heard or saw a thing). On my way to the pool a couple weeks ago, my neighbor across the street was busted for drugs and possession of an illegal firearm (AK-47). Other neighbors had apparently noticed the number of cars that were coming and going and reported the suspicious activity. I'd noticed a lot of cars but didn't put two and two together.

God, am I stupid or what???

Yes, not to think that things wouldn't be happening right under my nose.

I've known for a long time to be vigilant when I'm out running having had two threats to my personal safety and knowing the East-side Rapist still continues to make local headlines periodically preying on joggers and walkers in my area. Among his latest possible victims, a jogger found murdered along my favorite bike path a couple months ago and a bicyclist knocked off her bike and attacked day before yesterday. Jeez, what's wrong with people?

But now vigilance begins at home. You see, I'm one of the few who are in/out and around my neighborhood during the day because I work from home. I know there are guys that come around knocking on doors and windows to see if people are home and if they're not (or don't answer), they break in. I assume that it can and will happen to me. My husband and I have talked about possibly getting a hand gun but for now I have pepper spray near my bed, in my office and with me whenever I'm outside mowing the yard, walking to the mailbox or going out anywhere. I'm paying more attention to cars (colors, makes, models, any distinguishing signs) and people (what they look like, what they're wearing, what they're doing and whether they belong in our neighborhood). Ha, I'm already thinking that part of my training for the Zoom Yah Yah Indoor Marathon could be LOTS of laps around my neighborhood and double as a crime watch.

And wouldn't it be great if someone called the police to report a suspicious little woman running in their neighborhood for hours? It'd mean someone actually noticed and cared enough to call.

Because one of the bad things about living in a small quiet "good" neighborhood is that people assume it's safe. They don't notice things, are too busy to get to know others, and don't want to get involved in things like a Neighborhood Crime Watch Program (every year we try to start one but there's not enough interest *sigh*). Wake up, people!

Thank goodness school starts next week. A lot of crap that goes on here in Orlando is supposedly just kids bored over the summer and looking to make a quick buck. Oh, and the thing I reported yesterday, yes, it was a burglary attempt (signs of forced entry) but the guys were apparently scared off by the alarm. Hopefully they won't be back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Don't Need a Road Bike, Do I?

I already have 3 bikes (old mtn bike, tri racing bike, tri travel bike). I don't do group rides often. Most of the routes I ride are not very hilly or technical. Just because my husband is getting one doesn't mean I have to get one.

But she sure is purty (click for a closer view) and I could probably get 700 wheels.

Help!! I'm falling for this bike!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Swimming Milestone!

OK, for all you runners who may have been struggling with swimming as much as I have the past couple years, here's my latest piece of advice: Pull a hamstring!

No, not really. But, seriously, in the past couple weeks I think I've made more progress in my swimming than I have in months!! Thanks also to the new killer group swim workouts.

First off, the hamstring injury took away my ability to do the breaststroke (takes good hammies to do the frog kick!) so I have FINALLY gotten rid of that urge to fall back on doing breaststroke here and there for recovery during workouts on my own, which is good because my tri club coach's favorite recovery is clearly 200 easy freestyle. (Last Monday, Coach: Shirley, what are you doing? Me: (pant, pant) Just got done with the 3x200 set you asked me to do, Coach (pant). Coach: Give me 200 easy!)

Secondly, to do some of the things we've been required to do in the group swim workouts (which reminded Irish Blue of Navy Seal workouts she'd seen and have now got me thinking Coach may have read her comment on my other post, LOL), I've had to really work on generating speed and power via my pull and hip rotation, not kicking a whole lot to keep the hammy happy. And that's exactly what Coach focused on on Monday. After we'd done a bunch of descending, ascending and recovery 200s, he went around holding onto people's ankles so we were having to drag him! And as I was glub-glubbing through this latest form of torture, the whole pull and hip connection thing really clicked for the first time -- WOO HOO!

Which I think led to the third good thing that has happened since my hamstring injury, and the reason for the title of this post ... I can now do the 3x300 Threshold Test in my little Swim Workouts for Triathletes book fast enough to have a time that appears on their T-Pace Chart! A year ago when I bought this book, I was nowhere close and even just a month ago when swimming three sets of 300 yards with 30 seconds rest, each 300 took just over 6 minutes and 6:00 was the slowest time listed on the chart. What, don't turtles deserve to have a T-pace that's on the chart?!

But yesterday I swam the 300s in 5:46.64, 5:40.80 and 5:38.17 for an average of 5:42, which according to the chart (or just divided by 3) means my 100 yard T-pace or Threshold Pace is 1:54 (the book says yards and meters can be used interchangeably).

This means I can now do the other T-pace based swim workouts in my little book that I've been saving for when I'm fast enough. But mostly, it just makes me feel that I'm really a swimmer now! (I know, IT'S ABOUT FREAKING TIME!!!)

For anyone interested in knowing more about my struggles with swimming, I've created a history. Here are my major lessons learned after 2.5 years of serious swimming, 4 1/2-iron tris, 2 olys, 2 sprints and 1 Ironman attempt:

  • If you don't have a swim background, take swim lessons. Learning from a book or DVD does not work well.

  • Do not be content to just survive swim segments of tris. Work on your weakness!

  • Keep looking for a stroke that suits you. There are different ways to swim freestyle and everyone, even good swimmers should always be looking for ways to improve.

  • Do not swim laps mindlessly. Unlike running, swimming is nearly all about technique and if you're not thinking about it and working on it, you're not going to improve by much.

  • Have someone videotape you when swimming, both above water and underwater too, if possible. You'll be amazed at what you can learn from seeing yourself.

  • Join a group swim program. You will never work so hard and see as much improvement on your own.
  • Monday, August 04, 2008

    My First Race

    First of all, big congrats to Jen and RBR who both completed Barb's Race, their first half iron tri, under scorching sun this weekend, Calyx on completing her first half marathon on what looks to be a postcard-perfect San Francisco day, and Rural Girl, Pharmie, IronWil, Nancy, TriCajun and many others who did Steelhead 70.3, which turned into a duathlon due to wicked waves and a strong undertow that made swimming dangerous. Man, am I glad I decided not to do that race. Not only would it have been disappointing to have traveled so far to do a duathlon, my hamstring would probably have balked at all the walking around in sand they did before the race and then having to do two run segments. Funny, though, it wasn't long ago that I would have wished every tri I did turned into a du ;-)

    But the hammy is continuing to improve and things are looking good. Last week, I was able to do some short runs pain-free at a normal easy pace as opposed to super slow. Like I'd be probably faster if I just walked. During the swim workout after the one where I dragged that dam parachute, I clocked a 1:48 for 100 yards, which is like a speed record for me. No drafting, fins or pull buoy used, I swear! And this weekend on the bike, I was able to hold 20-22mph on Saturday riding in front during much of a 38-mile route and do 50 miles on Sunday at an avg pace of 17.5mph without much difficulty. So I feel I haven't really lost much fitness as a result of the injury, which is good.

    But I am missing racing and running, in particular. I started thinking back to my first race when I didn't know sh*t about training, nutrition, pacing or any of that stuff. I just ran and had fun. Life seemed so simple back then ...

    My first race was the 2002 Kona Half Marathon. I'd always been one of the slowest girls to run laps in P.E. while growing up and never thought I'd be in a race. Yet, here I was in one of my favorite places in the world lined up with hundreds of others at sunrise. I was scared. Scared of running alongside so many people, scared of aid stations (didn't know how to drink out of a cup while running and didn't want to stop for fear of cramps) and deathly scared of being timed.

    So I brought my own little 6 oz bottle of water to sip along the way, wore no watch and planned to view this race as one of my many nice leisurely jogs. Well, that lasted for about a mile.

    After the crowd had thinned out, I turned into someone else. I'd never felt the thrill of adrenaline pumping during a race, running in the middle of the street with no cars around, passing people or having spectators cheering. I was like a drug addict craving it, pushing for more and completely oblivious to the consequences. Gels, bonking, what's that?

    Approaching the turnaround, things had only gotten worse. I was feeling quite good by then and was now counting (yes, counting!) women going the other way. Several people were slowing going through aid stations and I was secretly happy they were so I could pass them, yet wondering too if maybe I should grab water since my little 6 oz water bottle was pretty much empty.

    But people were cheering for me and telling me how strong I looked. How could I slow down?

    As the last few miles clicked off I was breathing harder than ever before. I worried that I might have a heart attack or pass out but knew I was close to the end (of the race). I just needed to hang on. Upon making the final turn, I saw the finish line and it never looked so good (it was the first one I'd ever seen :-). I crossed it not having any idea what my race time meant. I was just so happy to be done!

    1:43:59 (7:58 pace), 2nd place F40-49, 7th Overall Female.

    Best of all, former Olympian Frank Shorter was the one who gave me my first race medal. Back then, not all half marathoners got them so the medal was the AG award. And that's how it all started.

    Now I just have to be patient.