Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Change on the Horizon

I love the smell of triathlon in the morning.

The smell, you know, that I-eat-gators-for-breakfast smell, the whole place. Smelled like ... Victory.

But I was only spectating. Four of my tri club teammates were racing, two doing their first-ever triathlon.

In the first wave was one of the first-timers, a guy who I used to be faster than in swimming two months ago but he now can kick my butt in the pool. His 750m swim time, an incredible 12:24. Faster than my fastest 400m swim time in a tri. *Cry*

And fast on land too. So fast that every time I clicked my camera, he was already out of the frame. And the same for all but one of my teammates who I managed to get in the swim-to-bike transition. I don't know how the heck Dave gets any pictures of me racing!

But it sure was fun to be out there cheering for them (I'm the dork wearing the lei).

My fellow teammates all finished well with three of four placing in their age group categories. Being sorta one of the co-captains of the tri club, I felt like a proud mama.

Dave and I also went out for a bike ride last weekend, the first one together in *gasp* nearly two months. It was short (only 30 mi) but it felt so good to be spending quality time together on the roads, to feel the wind on my face, and to be back on Genie, my road bike, who has probably been wondering whether I still loved her having not ridden her much lately, my tri bike, Cali, too.

Man, how I miss riding and tri training. I thought I'd be happy to return to running marathons this year but the truth is I'm not. I want to be doing more with my tri club buddies and Dave, especially now that it's hot & humid again. Ick! Running long is really no fun when you're drenched after just one mile and would rather be doing something else.

So, I whined to my coach, who was also at the tri last weekend (with the biggest skateboard I've ever seen, nearly the size of a small surfboard!). And guess what?

He's going to let me finish my 50 states marathon quest this year but allow me to focus on tris after the Casper Marathon (WY) on June 6th. Woohoo!!!

But not half irons (1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, 13.1mi run), where I can rely on my endurance and a strong bike and run to pull me through. No, for me, that'd be too easy. Besides, my tri club buddies are focusing on short course tris, sprints and olys, so training for a half iron would still not allow me to do much with them.

So the decision: this summer I'll be gearing up for an Olympic tri. Big gulp!

My target race will the Health First Oly Tri (1.5k swim, ~43k mi bike, 10k run) on Oct 3, a race I've done twice before in 2006 & 2007 and have always stunk up the non-wetsuit legal swim and died a slow death on the hot run. To meet my goal of breaking 3 hours, I'll have to lop off 15+ minutes (!), which means a LOT more time spent swimming and doing shorter, faster bike and run workouts.

Who knows, I might even get faster running marathons (last year I ran a 3:38 in Fargo while focusing on tris). But the main thing is I'll have friends and Dave alongside me who will make training and racing a lot more fun. This is supposed to be a fun hobby, right?

As my brave new friend K told me recently, "The worst thing that could happen is that I'd throw up." And if I flop, well, I'll still have four marathons in the Fall as comfort food ;-)

Friday, May 21, 2010



Due to the post-race adjustments, Jeanine Heath moves up to our overall 3rd place; Molly Izzo to our OM 2nd place, so you will actually get a 2nd place AG award. I’m organizing the stuff over the weekend and will begin sending awards out next week.

Joel Schiller
Delaware Marathon


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Perfect Recovery Workout

Wow, it was just what I needed. A lot of huffing and puffing, sweat and even some nausea towards the end, but a lot to be proud of afterward.

So soon after a marathon, you ask?

Yes. But it was not me who did it. It was K, a new person at our tri club run workout tonight.

I really didn't have a workout scheduled but showed up just to say 'hi' to my tri club buddies whom I love dearly and miss since I've been unable to do as much with them recently with all my marathoning. I had some new running shoes that I wanted to give a test spin anyway. Knowing I shouldn't be doing any of the speed work that was assigned, I told the coach I'd be bringing up the rear.

It was hot, really hot, like 90 degs F at 5pm when we headed out for our "warm up." There were 10-12 of us and the group spread out quickly as folks settled into their easy run paces. My legs and butt felt fine (YAY!) but I forced myself to run super easy. I chatted away with some folks at the back of the pack whom I don't usually get to run with often. Then I turned around and saw K running by herself falling further and further behind.

We'd only gone perhaps a quarter mile and I could tell she was really struggling. Have I mentioned it was hot? She began walking and I fell back to check on her since the coach was further up with others. K said she was OK but really out of shape. She mentioned maybe being able to go on if she could do 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking. I said fine. Let's do it together.

Initially, K didn't want to hold me back and encouraged me to go on without her but I told her I needed to take it easy because I'd just run a marathon. We walked on for a bit more so she could catch her breath and the coach came by. She too suggested run-walking but doing 1 minute intervals of each. I looked at K and told her let's give it a try. I'll keep track of time.

So we set out running again. I kept chatting away as we were when we were walking not realizing at first how hard poor K was working. We were running at probably a 12-13 minute per mile pace but for her that was really hard. I told her not to talk. I'd talk when we were running and I told her about my Delaware Marathon.

3 - 2 - 1, time to walk. She told me she'd quit smoking 5 months ago and this was her first time running. She mentioned again how very out of shape she was and asked whether she should maybe do something else to get started.

3 - 2 - 1, time to run. I told her that I thought the best way to get started running was to do exactly what we're doing, just go slow and do as much as she could, unless she had any knee or joint issues. She shook her head. Then I proceeded to babble on about how some people actually run-walked marathons this way.

We got to the mile 1 marker on the bike path doing the 1-1 run-walk and then decided to turn around and go back. Others in the club were supposed to run to the 2-mile marker and turn around so we'd see them coming back.

K didn't think she'd be able to do what we did to get out here. I suggested we go as far as we could doing the 1-1 thing and then walk the rest of the way in if needed. K was OK with that so off we went.

It was still 90 degs but felt a bit cooler going back with the wind in our face. The sun also went behind a big cloud for a while which was nice. I was doing pretty much all of the talking now as K was having a hard time talking even during the walk breaks. She was just barely making it to the end of the one minute runs.

With about a quarter mile to go, I pointed out where we'd started, which was where we were to finish. K had never been on this bike path before and had no idea how much further we had to go. Knowing the end was near was a huge relief to her.

Now only a couple hundred yards left and a large sign by the end is clearly in sight. K tells me she's feeling a bit nauseous. I knew she was staying hydrated as she had a large bottle of water with her and was drinking often. It must be due to a very high heart rate. But she surprised me by saying, "The worst thing that could happen is that I'd throw up." Wow, this girl is a real trooper!

I may have given her an extra 5 seconds of rest but we began running again. It was our last run interval and I encouraged her as much as I could to keep her going. As we got closer to the sign, I realized it was going to take a little more than a minute to get there, maybe 1:05, 1:10 max. Should I tell her?

I glanced over at her at the minute mark and saw there was no need. She was gunning for the sign.

Afterwards, we gave each other a high-five and walked around a bit while waiting for the others to return. Later she gave me a hug and thanked me for running with her. She told me she never would have gone so far or pushed herself as hard on her own. I thanked her for giving me the perfect recovery workout.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Delaware Marathon

Warning: The stunts in this post were performed by an experienced crazy marathoner and should not be attempted by runners who have common sense.

Apprehension. Now there's a feeling I haven't had at a marathon in a while.

Since my fall Tuesday night, I'd spent two days cursing, hobbling and ironing. Finally on Friday I could walk pain-free but my butt was still quite sore. I decided it was best for me not to try running at all until race day. Why am I doing this silly 50 states marathon quest again???

Oh yeah, I thought it'd be fun to travel and run marathons.

But there was no backing out. Dave was coming with me to the Delaware Marathon since he had to be in DC the following week anyway. The weather forecast was pretty good: party cloudy, 58 degs at the 7am start, high 60's later in the morning. I'd even been assigned bib number 77, which had to mean I was going to have good luck, right? Right??

Still, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never gone into a marathon not knowing whether I could run. OTOH, I knew adrenaline was a powerful pain killer. Here I am at the start doped up on a couple Tylenol 8-hours hoping for the best. Funny, I just realized I'm standing in front of some medical cots, things I was hoping not to see during my race.

For a smaller race (600 marathoners, 700 half marathoners, 200 relay teams), this race was very well organized with an attractive start/finish area (I like balloon arches). They also offered nice cash prizes to the top-3 open and top-2 masters winners, not that I was thinking I'd win anything.

50 yards into the race, my Achilles felt tight but my butt seemed to be OK. I was running and trying to stay positive. Woohoo, only 26 miles and 335 yards left!

The first couple miles we snaked along the scenic, flat Wilmington riverfront. This photo is actually from the race website as Dave had gone back to the hotel after the start of the race to get his free breakfast. Priorities!

Later, though, there were some hills and we'd see them twice since this was a double loop course. After mile 6 is where things started falling apart.

Because climbing hills requires using your butt and my left butt was broken (not really, but definitely not working right). To get up them, I had to use a lot of right hip flexor and my left calf so now they were complaining too. Hey, give us a break! We're not used to working so hard on hills. That's the butt's job. Yeah, not in our contract. We're going on strike. Blah-blah-blah.

Miles 6-10.5 seemed to take fooooooor-eeeeeeeeev-eeeeeeer and take a lot out of me. Not good!

Dave had his bike and was riding around on the course. He found me at mile 11, just in time to see my grimacing turn to relief as we headed back downhill.

But a little hill at mile 12 nearly locks my butt and legs up so I accepted Dave's offer to go back to the hotel and get more dope (Tylenol 8-hour) to hopefully get me through the race.

Back on the flat riverfront section was easier but I'm now just hanging on and only just over halfway done. It was the second worst I'd ever felt midway through a marathon (the worst being at the 2007 Olathe Marathon where I had major GI issues).

Dave is waiting for me at mile 15 with a baggie. I greedily grabbed it from him but dropped one and then another pill on the ground before I could get them into my mouth. ARRGGHHH! Now my hands aren't working!?!

Luckily, there are 5 or 6 pills in the bag. I saw Dave again a little while later and handed him the bag back with only one pill left. I swear I took only 2, though! (Technically, I know it is cheating to receive outside help during a race but I was past the point of caring.)

But unlike morphine or heroin, there's no immediate relief. I trudged on for a while dreading those hills and told Dave he should just go for a ride elsewhere and leave me to wallow in self pity. He refused. Perhaps he thought I took all the pills missing from the bag and would collapse any moment? I do look pretty awful in the above photo.

But then around mile 17, the drug starts kicking in! We're now back in Brandywine Park which had plenty of shade and the spring has begun to return to my step.

There are cute llamas in a zoo that I didn't see before on the first loop.

A pretty wooden foot bridge that I do remember from before but enjoy much more the second time (I've already passed the bridge so I'm not in the photo).

Nice river views.

And a wonderfully shaded bike path.

By the time I got to mile 19 where the hills began again, I was warmed up and ready to start racing!

Wow, what a difference. This time the miles seemed to fly by and the hills were no problem.

My high continued all the way to the finish. I didn't count the number of folks I passed after mile 20 at this race as there were so many relay runners passing me and distracting me (again, something like 200 teams!). But I know three people not wearing "Relay" on their backs passed me the last quarter mile, including one woman who happened to be in my age group. Oh well!

At least I finished and stayed out of the medical tent. Here are my splits for anyone interested:

Official splits:
First 5.2 mi (flat) in 44:46, 8:36 pace.
Next 13 mi (hills and flats) in 1:59:49, 9:13 pace.
Last 8 mi (mostly hills) in 1:08:39, 8:34 pace.

My watch splits (surprisingly even paced halfs):
1st half 1:56:11, 8:52 pace.
2nd half 1:57:02, 8:56 pace.

Final race time:
3:53:13 (8:54 pace), 4/29 F45-49, 39/212 Females.

Thanks to Dave for all the photos and support. No doubt it would have been much uglier if I'd gone to this race alone.

Now, time to see what all you bloggy friends have been up to. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and for reading!

Monday, May 17, 2010



Well, far from an easy race for me but I managed to run and finish!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Unpostable Injury


With a fast recovery following the Cox Providence Marathon and 50-60 degs F forecast on Sunday for the Delaware Marathon, I was thinking a sub-3:50 looked doable. But now all bets are off!

Because the ground jumped up and bit me again, this time at my first spin class in ump-teen years. &$#?$%@!!!

Now some of you may recall that I usually AVOID spin classes like the plague because I hate spin bikes (they never seem to fit right and hurt me more than the workouts) and I am not fond of riding indoors in general. But this one allowed, actually encouraged, us to bring our own bikes & trainers and the instructor is the coach of my tri club. I figured I'd be safe and it'd be more fun to ride indoors with my tri club.

Indeed, it was the best spin class I'd been to but getting off my bike would present a problem. It became very apparent that I'd not ridden on a trainer much. Who knew my bike would be much higher on a trainer than on the road, that I couldn't easily just lean it over to get my leg over it, and the floor would be so slippery when wearing bike shoes?

Man, I might as well have been wearing skates. And the spin room floor, of course, was one of those really hard tiled floors that made asphalt feel spongy.

Luckily, I did not hit my head (no helmet worn indoors) or re-fracture my tailbone (an old childhood injury). I was also able to catch my bike before it hit the floor (it got pulled over when my leg got caught on it). But now I have a most painful bruise on my left butt bone right where the left leg connects to it. Darn tush has lost much of its cush due to years of endurance sports -- WAH! And you'll just have to take my word for it as I'm not posting a photo of this injury.

Good news: It only hurts when I sit or move my left leg.

Bad news: I'll need to do both to get on a plane and run a marathon.

Good news: Ironing doesn't require sitting or much leg movement. (I have a big pile that I've been putting off doing. So much for being an ironwoman - HA!)

Anyways, Dave will have many nice pressed pants & shirts but who knows what'll happen on Sunday. Then again, whoever said running a marathon would be easy?

In the meantime, I'll leave you with some other photos from the past week:

Dave celebrated his 49th birthday down 25# from the beginning of the year, even traveling nearly every week.

His typical lunch lately (fruit salad, frozen mixed veggies, carrots & celery sticks).

Me (front left, red visor) and some folks from my tri club at Lucky's Lake, a local swim spot that has gained cult-like status in free swimming.

With no swim on my training schedule, I was there mainly to support team members who'd never swam in open water before.

But I couldn't resist getting in a quick swim myself. Busted ;-)

First-time lake crossers got to sign Lucky's "Wall of Fame", which has become so full now that folks are signing the ceiling!

Dinner with fellow ironwoman Vickie and her husband who were visiting from Michigan (sorry, terrible photo as my camera was on the wrong setting).

Nearing the finish of the Cox Providence Marathon.

My apologies for being MIA on blogs. I hope to catch up next week when I get back from Delaware and am able to sit for much longer than I can now (even with a doughnut it's far from comfortable). Good luck to everyone else racing this weekend!

Update 5/14: Able to walk pain-free today! Fingers crossed for running on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cox Providence Marathon

3:54:20.8 (8:57 pace), 10/88 F40-49, 58/360 Females.

I know, I know ... My goal was to just to finish the Cox Providence Marathon (Rhode Island) and I end up with a sub-4 BQ?

But I swear NOTHING spectacular happened. Really, this race was about as close to a training run as one could get. Thankfully, as I could use less drama after the Gator Half Iron! So you guys luck out as this race report is going to be fairly short.

Despite being a low key race for me, I decided NOT to run with my camera. I knew I needed to stay in tune with how I was feeling and stay focused on where I was stepping. Believe it or not, I'd already turned my ankle once at the Orlando airport - GAH!

The weather was forecast to be 60-65 degs at the 8am start, getting up to 75-80 around noon. Bleh! At least it was supposed to be mostly cloudy early and training in Florida and Hawaii, heat and I were on a first name basis (although I preferred not to see much heat at a New England race).

A half an hour before the race, I went down to check out the race start/finish area which was pretty much right in front of my hotel. Sweeeet!

Where is everyone?

There were supposed to be about 1000 marathoners plus double the number of half marathoners but no one was really lining up yet. So I went back to my room, put Mr. Camera away and came back 10 minutes before start time. One good thing about being small is that it's fairly easy to wiggle past people in a crowd and go through gaps in corral fences.

After the national anthem, I snuck in around the 9-minute pace sign. 60 degrees felt surprisingly cool with a nice breeze in our face. I ran by an easy feel, even enjoyed a few hills early on, and arrived at the halfway point in 1:54-something (~8:45 pace). Oops!

I knew heat would slow me down later though and I had no plans to push much harder at the end for a negative split or even an even split. Not with a 90% healed up ankle, my longest run in 4 months being only 16 miles and another marathon to run in 2 weeks.

But speed is relative. Around mile 15, folks around me began to melt. I stayed on an 8:45 pace until mile 19 then backed off and began walking through aid stations to make sure I got enough fluids into me. Blue skies, no shade, plenty warm. Still, people were coming towards me. At mile 20, I began to play "How many runners will I pass before the finish?"

Answer: 41, 17 of which were women.
2 guys passed me. 1 woman too, technically, but I passed her back on the final stretch so she doesn't count :-)

The only unusual thing that happened at this race was that my name didn't appear in the posted results. OMG, why am I not there?!?!

I went to the Yankee Timing trailer, showed the guy my race bib (which was folded now but not during the race) and told him my Garmin time. He said I was the third person whose time wasn't recorded for some reason (we were using the new Chrono B tag where the timing strips stay on the bib). He manually entered me into the computer with a 3:55:00 finish and I ended up with a 3:54:20.8 net time. Close enough.

54 marathons, 44 states done. 6 more to go!!!