Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What is that Disease???

Where you forget things all the time?

Oh yeah, Alzheimer's. That's what I think I have. Did I not just (like last Saturday) spend 3.5 hours in cycling purgatory due to dead legs?

Then why in the world would I be emailing my coach on Monday to ask if I could run a 12K (7.4 mi) race this weekend? Or, after getting the OK to do that, then asking if I could do a 14-mile bike time trial (TT) in addition a few days before?

All this knowing full well that I'm running the Fargo Marathon next Saturday (5/9) ...

Seriously, this is why I need a coach. I am getting antsy with all this training. I have not done a race since January which feels like freaking FOREVER! And all these killer race reports recently by RBR, Road Bunner, Stef, Leana, Petra, Formulaic, Jeanne, DC Rainmaker, Julianne, Oz Runner, Bree, to name a few ... WAH, I feel like I'm the only one NOT racing!!!

Well, Coach put my head back on straight. Yesterday I did my shorter bike intervals while everyone else raced 14 (Yes, I went to the TT venue anyway since Dave was doing it and it'd be easier to hit my 5 mile intervals at 90% effort there than by myself). I'm only doing the 12K race but that's not all this weekend (oh no, noooo):

Fri - 16 mi run @ marathon pace, 30-min easy swim.
Sat - 10 mi run (12K race + warm-up & cool-down).
Sun - 60 mi bike / 6 mile run, 45-min easy swim.

So, obviously, not much tapering for the marathon. But that is GOOD. Yes, you read that right! I wouldn't want to get used to running on fresh legs, would I? No, not this year when training for two iron tris two weeks apart.

Whose bright idea was that anyway?

I forget.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

50-Mile Warm-up?

Saturday's long ride in Macon, Georgia, was nearly a disaster. We were to ride the 56-mile bike course of the Rock 'n Roll Half Iron triathlon that I'm doing end of May and within the first couple miles, my legs mutinied. We are not climbing these hills no matter what you say!

And this course has a LOT of hills, nothing too steep or severe but enough to make me seriously consider turning around by mile 15 (making it the 30-mi ride scheduled the next day), as well as bailing on the 4-mile brick run afterwards. Tomorrow is another day, right?

But as luck would have it, the quiet back roads of Macon are also home to a number of nasty dogs who LOVE to chase bicyclists. Worse than the thought of continuing on was having to pass them again. I had no energy left to do any more pit bull sprints!

So I made the decision to continue no matter how painfully slow. A couple times I dismounted and checked my brakes to make sure they were not dragging. Nope, it was just me who was dragging. Maybe because of the back-to-back 14-milers I ran on Tues & Wed? Or the hard intervals I did on the bike on Thurs? But I only swam on Friday ...

Whatever, poor Dave rode behind me to fend off any more four-legged devils while I was in cycling purgatory. Thoughts of doing an easier May race danced through my head as I spun up hills at single digit speeds and struggled to maintain 16-17mph on flats.

But, I continued to work on my nutrition and a very strange thing happened at mile 50 (over 3 hours later). Suddenly, I realized had power in my legs -- WOOHOO, the spell was broken!!!

The last few miles I was out of the saddle riding up the remaining hills strong. Dave was wondering what the heck had gotten into me. We got back to the hotel and I headed out for the brick run on a dirt path we saw at Macon State College nearby.

Not-so-fun-except-at-the-end 55 mi ride, avg speed 15.7 mph.
Hot-but-fun 4 mi trail run, avg pace 9:12 min/mile.

I'll take them!

The next day's 30-mile ride on the RnR bike course went MUCH better, avg speed 17.6 mph (more like what I'm hoping to see on race day). Best of all, we got done in time to get a second free breakfast at the Hampton Inn :-) Below are some pictures from Sunday's ride and open water swim. Oh, and I'm sticking with this RnR race. My legs and I have made up.

No drafting behind "The Winnebago" (aka Dave :-).

Nice four-legged creatures we saw in Macon.

Bridge at Lake Tobesofkee a couple miles from where the RnR Half Iron starts/finishes.

Willing riding partner, reluctant photo subject.

Trying out my new sleeveless wetsuit for the first time.

The only other swimmer there (rest were waders).

The wetsuit worked great!

PS - If anyone has any ideas on what caused my performance turnaround so late in the ride (or has experienced something similar), please let me know your thoughts. I do often need a longer warm up than most but 50 miles is pretty ridiculous, don't ya think?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back in Orlando

Whew, since when is 12 hours of traveling considered a rest day?

I got back home from Kona on a redeye Friday morning with a 40-mile bike ride and a 2100-yard swim to do later that day. On Saturday was a hard effort 20-mile bike ride followed by 3 mile brick run, and in the evening a Kids House charity fundraiser event. Sunday, a 60-mile bike ride, then later a 2000-yard swim.

But you know which was the toughest for me?

Yep, getting dressed up and wearing high heeled shoes for 5 hours at the charity event. Man, am I out of shape for that!

The fun thing, though, was that it was a creative black tie event with a sports theme. Namely, people wore sports-related things in addition to or in lieu of the usual black tie stuff. Lots of guys wearing sports jerseys with their suits & tuxes; women with ball caps and nice dresses. I accessorized with a race belt, race number and my 2003 Boston Marathon medal :-) Dave wore sneakers and his Duke Blue Devils tie.

This year's live band was World Classic Rockers, comprised of former members of Journey, Steppenwolf, Santana, Toto, Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They played a bunch of rock songs that everyone knew and really got the place hopping. It was all for a great cause -- to help abused children -- so worth sore feet and some lost sleep, right?

Besides, I still managed to get all my workouts done (week 7 of Base Building):

Swim - 4 (6300 yds, incl. a swim lesson)
Bike - 4 (156.95 mi, 2 speed workouts & 2 endurance rides)
Run - 3 (21.97, one 12-miler and two brick runs off the bike)
Strength - 0 (none this week to allow for more swimming)

Today, thank goodness, is a rest day ...

I'll be catching up on my blog reading after my nap. Good luck to everyone running the Boston Marathon today!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Egg Swim Meet

We have a VERY casual swim meet at the Kona pool on Saturday and if you have a USMS card, you can swim. Warm up at 3, meet starts at about 3:30. Come and say hi even if you don't swim.

That was part of an email I got from Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen, one of my swim instructors here in Kona.

Me compete in a masters swim meet? HA, I've never even been to a swim meet, nor do have a USMS card. But I could certainly come by to watch!

And watch I did. Stop watch, that is. Coach Eric, Karlyn's husband and swim coach, handed me a green one and put me to work.

What fun!! A very low key meet, indeed. About 8 folks there competing, including Karlyn, pro triathlete Bree Wee and some local swimmers and triathletes. You could pick which events you wanted to do, start from the blocks, pool deck or in the water, and flip turns were not mandatory (but two-handed touches were required for butterfly and breast, as usual). Sometimes people were racing the same distance but doing different strokes. One guy even raced by himself a couple times.

The highlight for me was watching Karlyn and Bree go head to head on the 500 yd freestlyle.

Bree (left in photo above) is often one of the first women out of the water in tris but on this day hoped to be lapped no more than once by powerhouse Pipes-Nielsen (right in photo above). Now if it were me going up against either of them, I think a fair race would be if I swim 250 while they swim 500. Both are FAST!!

Here they are ready to go. Bree looks to be saying a little prayer, haha.

And below is 14 seconds of their race coming up on 350 yards. Karlyn is getting close to catching Bree and would eventually do so, but only once. Great job, Bree!

There were three of us timing Karlyn. My watch time was in the middle so 5:04:13 was used as the official time, a new 45-50 year old women's masters record for her -- Congrats Karlyn!!!

Tomorrow I get a swim lesson from Coach Eric (Karlyn is on travel). Who knows, next year they just might have to find another timer ;-)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Back

Appreciate all your thoughts on the bikini question! We shall see what I can find and what shape I'm in come August. Hopefully, though, I won't look like any of the women below, LOL.


Things continue to go pretty well here in Kona. Riding alone for hours, rolling hills, big trucks shaking me sideways as they go past, headwinds for 20-25 miles, just another day in paradise.

I'm continuing to regain confidence in my hammy when running. No more shuffling like an 80-yr-old with a 10-inch stride. Yesterday's 11-miler at half marathon pace was actually a dilemma. What the heck is my half marathon pace? I seem to have only two speeds nowadays, marathon pace and too fast for comfort.

So I did some calculations with previous races to try to get an idea:

RacePaceAdj Pace*
6/02 Kona Half Marathon
Same gently rolling course, similar 75 degs
12/05 OUC Half Marathon
PR, flat course, 40 degs
1/08 Deland Half Marathon
Most recent standalone 1/2, flat course, 55 degs
Post-Hammy Injury (July 2008)
11/08 Miami Man 1/2 Iron
Most recent 1/2 in a tri, flat course, 80 degs
11/08 Route 66 Marathon
Fastest 2008 marathon, mostly flat course, 40 degs
1/09 ZYY Indoor Marathon
Most recent race, flat course, 60 degs
* Adjusted for 75 deg temps and rolling hills based on Daniels running calculator.
** Predicted half marathon pace based on McMillan's running calculator.

Great, somewhere between 7:36 and 9:38. Screw it!

I decided to just run by feel instead and finished with an 8:10 avg pace. Ha, I should just run more often!!

But it appears my swimming is headed in the wrong direction. Case in point, Tuesday was another brutal 300 workout: 3 x 300 with 30 seconds rest, followed 2 x 300 with 20 seconds rest, then 300 fast. This, of course, after 900 yds of warm-up and drills (down from 1200 last time, at least) that included plenty of dreaded kicking, the nemesis of runners like me who have inflexible ankles. My last "fast" 300 ended up being no faster than the easy 300 I did in the warmup (6:15) but 10 times harder -- UGH!!!!!

Last year, however, I would have been ELATED to be able to even complete such a workout. There was no need for me to swim more than 200 yards to be warmed up. I avoided kicking and doing drills, unless in a group swim, which was not very often, really. The number of workouts over 2500 yds that were straight unassisted swimming (no fins, pull buoys or paddles) were few. But I was swimming 4-5 times a week, as opposed to usually just 2 lately, and retaining feel for the water better, I think.

So perhaps comparing last year's swim times to this year's is like comparing apples and oranges? Would I expect myself to run as well running only 2 times a week and be able to run 13 miles strong after 13 miles of warm up and running drills?

Well, actually, I might. Let's see what my swim docs say.

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tan Lines & the Great Bikini Debate

I love cycling. But I have yet to find a way to keep my legs from looking like they're still wearing bike shorts after a long ride!

These tan lines are courtesy of Saturday's 78 miler which took me 4 hours and 43 minutes (avg 16.56 mph) thanks to some crazy Kona winds. For several miles I was struggling to go just 12-13 mph and this was not uphill - GAH!

Humbled again by the unseen enemy. I once read somewhere that cyclists prefer a steep hill to a strong headwind because the hill is something they can see. I'd agree if I didn't have to see any steep downhills :-)

But at least I had my secret weapons with me to keep me company and going strong: lemon-lime Gatorade mixed with an orangeade drink I like, Hooah bars and PowerGels. I never came close to wanting to lie down and take a little nap alongside the road (really bad idea when you're out there by yourself). In fact, I got done and felt like I could have gone for a little run if I had to! Uh-oh, now having said that, Coach Bill may have me do one next week ...

Workout summary for week 4 of Base Building:
6000 yds swimming (3-yippee!)
157.3 mi biking (3)
15.67 mi running (2)
2 strength workouts
18:22 hours

Now on bikinis, do you think old(er) women should or should not wear them if they want?

Even before Valerie Bertinelli donned one for People Magazine recently, I'd been thinking of getting a cute one as a reward for all this hard work I'm doing. I have a big family reunion on my husband's side coming up in August and the last time I wore one in public was the last time we'd all gotten together for my sister-in-law's first wedding over 10 yrs ago. (No, I didn't wear it to the wedding. I meant afterwards while just hanging out watching the kids play in the pool.)

This reunion will also have lots of time spent hanging around at the pool, no doubt, and since I'm now a swimmer too, the new suit will have to be functional. I know Lisa and Stef both have talked about wearing one, or rather two pieces, and from the sounds of it, they haven't done so in years either. I really think that no woman would wear a bikini if she thought she looked bad in it. Regardless of what any other people may say or think!

But there are those who say bikinis make men view women as objects, they promote unhealthy body images, they make some people feel uncomfortable, they're OK for young girls but not older ones, yadda yadda ...

Your thoughts?

PS - Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend. Look forward to reading those race reports!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Maybe it's that I'm eating better?

Or the pseudo recovery week I had last week?

Or that I'm now in Base Building Week 4 and have finally adjusted?

Or because I'm back in Kona?

Whatever it is, I am feeling good!

Tuesday's 10-mile run was hands down the best training run I've had this year to date. Perfect low 70 degree weather with a light breeze (I prefer to train in warm weather as it makes racing in cooler weather even easier and I can still manage if it's hotter than expected). I had a good sweat going within the first mile and fell into the ZONE. Beautiful beaches, pretty flowers, smell of the ocean, lots of other runners and walkers about ... I was in paradise!

Never mind that it was a few degrees warmer than last week's 8-mile steady pace run, 2 miles further and a rolling course vs. a flat one, I finished with an average pace that was 23 seconds faster (9:02 vs. 9:25) and with an average HR that was 14 beats lower. Unfreakingbelievable!!

Maybe I can still run a 4-hourish marathon running only 10-20 miles a week and with no long runs over 10-11 miles? The Fargo Marathon is now just over a month away and still looks to be on although all the flooding in the area might cause the course to change. One thing for sure, though, if a dike breaks, I have a better chance of sprinting to safety now than I did before (I have a half iron tri 3 weeks later that is actually a more important race :-).

But I have been biking a lot and yesterday's 40 mile ride with 20 easy followed by 20 hard was another total surprise. I admit that I was actually dreading it because I knew it'd hurt a lot, not only because I'd be time-trialing hard by myself (Dave is not with me on this trip) and hadn't ridden any hills the past four three months, but because it's often a headwind coming back making things even more miserable. Struggling to go 16mph down hills is not fun :-(

But Mother Nature played an April Fool's Day joke on me!

She started off doing her usual thing pushing me along on the way out. It took every ounce of will power I had to keep riding easy. Man, I wanted to fly! Average pace for the first 20.22 miles: 15.67mph

But approaching the turnaround point, I could feel the wind shifting (that's Kona for ya!). Yep, now it was pretty much a straight crosswind. I got going on the second half of the ride and could not believe the speeds my little travel bike was traveling: 17-19 mph up hills, 20-22+ otherwise.

Of course, there was a lot of huffing, puffing and grunting, as well as mental games being played. Can I catch those two cyclists I saw at the turnaround who are ahead of me? Don't let that guy in back of me catch me. Don't let ANYONE catch me. The faster I go, the sooner this will be over. I'm Chrissie Wellington gunning for a new Kona IM bike course record. There's a car in back of me trying to run me over ...

The toughest part was having to stop at a red light with just one mile to go. UGH! No, I take that back. Having to start up again after stopping and go up a hill too was the toughest part. Double UGHHHH!!

Still, my avg pace for the second 20 miles ended up being 20.22 mph. That's the fastest I've ever ridden that course solo -- WOOHOO!!!

So what new things have I been eating?

Well, for one, scrambled eggs and ham over a large tossed salad. Funny thing is I really don't like the taste of eggs (have to mask it with lots of marinara sauce, salsa or ketchup) but my muscles have been saying yummy so into the mouth it goes to feed them!