Monday, July 30, 2007

Pride and The Fall

Note: I apologize for the inordinate amount of time it took to get this to y'all. Apparently, the "spam blocker robots" at Blogger thought this blog was spam. That kind of freaks me out but - thankfully, the Blogger gods have been appeased and I'm free to go on with my blogland life. Thanks for waiting - and for wanting to hear this. I can't tell you how flattered I am that there are people out their asking me to get off my butt and post - Thanks!

It was an interesting weekend in the world according to Phoenix.

As I reported on Friday, I had a VO2 Max test Friday evening and a 10K race the next morning.

The test was pretty cool. The coach, Adam Zucco, started by asking me my level of ability - to which I modestly replied "Beginner" with emphasis. He asked what races I'd done and I said I just completed a "mini-sprint". He used this info to set the test up - he chose to start with a low effort and build from there, which I was relieved with. The last thing I wanted was to crash and burn after 3 minutes in front of a room full of people. So, I got on Pyro, put the mask thingy over my face and started peddling. He confirmed that it was a very easy effort for me at the start and off we went. Every minute, he upped the effort required to complete a revolution and after 10 min. or so, I started to feel it. But not enough to drop my cadence, just enough to get my attention and get my respiration up. He asked if that was my normal cadence and I said "Yeah." He said it was at 90. Cool! Though later he said the top Iron man finishers don't touch 80. I assume he meant they had lower cadence/higher gears. Anyway, after 20 minutes, I was still going strong and Adam was making encouraging remarks about my fitness level. The one that really went to my head was "She said she did a little sprint but she didn't tell us she trained for it like she was doing Louisville." That made me blush and pedal harder. There was also a huge storm outside and I started to visualize that I was driving the rain - it was kind of a fun visualization and it kept me from slacking on the pace. Unfortunately, my storm building ability was a little too good and the power went out just before the 21:00 mark. And I had definitely not maxed out yet. Bummer. The important thing, however, was that we got my aerobic threshold, my lactate threshold, and my power output as well as some interesting metabolic information. So it was all really useful - and they didn't even charge me for the cost of the test. My aerobic zone is about where I thought it was - around 154 on the bike and, using the crude method of adding 10 beats to that, 164 on the run. My LT is 174 on the bike, estimated 184 on the run. Like Rural Girl, I'm a hummingbird. My power out put at lactate threshold is 150 watts. I don't know if that's good or bad, it is what it is. The bummer result was my metabolic data. Turns out I burn exclusively sugar - absolutely no fat. Which, of course, only requires one look at my rear end to see the truth in that. Yeah, tell me about it, I don't burn fat. Dang. He suggested I eat more protein and less carbs - especially simple sugars. My diet is relatively close to that ideal, but I know it can get better. So it will. He also theorized that I may have more fast twitch than slow twitch muscle fibers - which as I was a sprinter and long jumper as a kid makes sense. It also explains the disparity between my 5k and 10k pace as I will be getting around to in just a sec. So, especially when marathon training and next season role around, I will concentrate on more of the LSD and less of the intensity. It is in my nature to prefer the higher intensity workouts - even on longer distances. I like to burn hot. Go figure.

On to my 10k race report. I got to bed about 11:00 Friday night - after the VO2 Max test, a glass of wine and some cereal for supper. Not my usual carbo loading, sleeping, kind of optimal pre-race habit. But the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning and I felt as ready as I could be. I put on my race clothes, went upstairs for my usual pre-race oatmeal and coffee, and went to kiss Hubby goodbye only to find out he was coming along. He had thought about racing but he cracked a rib on our trip (I'll just let your imaginations run with that one for awhile) and wasn't up to running - so I thought he'd choose to sleep in rather than driving an hour to watch me run a rather impromptu race. But, he's Hubby and he was not going to miss an opportunity to cheer and take photos and generally make me feel supported and loved. That's one of the reasons I love the guy.

So, we were off. We arrived at the race 30 minutes before start, rushed through registration and got ready to rumble. I was feeling confident, even in the muggy, hot conditions, until I ran into a truck. Not figuratively. I literally ran into a truck. Lemme 'splain. As I was jogging around the parking lot, warming up, I passed a group of cyclists heading out for a ride. Part of me was salivating and wished I'd brought Pyro to ride instead of run but, alas, it was not an option. ANYWAY, as I was running by, I heard a voice say "I used to love running." I turned around to answer the voice and was only able to get out a little laugh before I ran into a pickup truck parked right in front of me. Luckily, I was only warming up. If I had been going at my full, lightening fast speed, I would've broken something. Like the truck. Thankfully, it was only my pride that was hurt. Still, it didn't bode well for the race that was about to start.

I took my place at the starting line, Big Shark Bra Top and shorts making me feel like a poser. Everyone was looking at me like I actually had game and, alas, I felt that I did not. I seeded myself just behind what I thought was the front of the pack and waited for the air horn.

When it went off, I started slow and easy, keeping 21stCenturyMom's advice to take the first two miles slow and surge from there. There were three races that were running simultaneously - the 5k which took off to the right at the start, and the 15k and 10ks which both went left. The 15k people veered off after less than a quarter of a mile and it was just us, the 10k warriors, left to battle it out on the corn-lined course. With the subtraction of the 15kers, I was surprised at the small number of people ahead of me. There was one woman that I could see and I just decided to keep her in my sights (she was pretty far ahead of me) and bide my time. I was passed by a couple of guys, one of them sounded like he was working really hard already. The hard working guy only made it to a few feet in front of me then he seemed to slow to my pace - again, I let him be and marked him for later. In the first mile, one woman passed me, Pink Chic. She was struggling, poor thing, and I knew she wasn't going to spend a lot of time in front of me. So, I let her go, and kept an eye on her. "You, chica, are mine. You are going down. But I'll let you stay in front for awhile. If that makes 'ya feel better." As you can tell, I'm totally working on my race mentality.

The first two miles felt like cake - though my heart rate stayed at 183 the whole time. Once I passed the two mile mark, I picked it up just ever so slightly. At this point, Pink Chic fell victim to my burning speed (tongue planted firmly in cheek) and I passed her. She took it hard but she stayed passed. Sorry, Pink Chic. Hard Working Dude, also known as The Dude in Black stayed ahead of me but the distance between us was getting smaller. I passed the first water stop, took a couple of sips, poured the rest and picked it up again. Before I knew it, the half way point had come and we were passing the finish line. I heard Hubby say "Go! You're half way there!!" So I went.

I passed The Dude in Black and he stayed passed. (You can see the chic that was way ahead of me in the front, yellow tank top - I was closing in)

Shortly after that, I heard her. There had been a couple of good hills on the course but I was blowing through them pretty well. We had come to the steepest hill of the course. I was feeling it, but I knew what I could handle and I knew there was plenty left in the tank. I could hear her breathing behind me but I knew surging now would do me no good. I let her go. She was a little thing with cut legs and a blue technical tank on. She was fast. As soon as she passed me and I tried to pick it up a bit more to keep her in the radar, I knew she was way faster than me. She would beat me and she would earn it. So I watched her get farther away and did not allow myself regrets. I was running my own race and that was all that mattered.

After mile 4, I removed the safety tabs. My heart rate climbed from 186, where it had been for the middle two miles to nearly 190. It. Was. On. Who it was actually on with, I'm really not sure. There was no one around except for - Yellow Tank Top Chic. The one who started so far ahead of me. I was closing on her fast - and she was struggling on yet another steep uphill. I didn't feel the hill, I just had her in my sights and I was attacking. She stopped to walk, I flew by. Another one down. Now it was just me and my watch and the last couple of miles. Unfortunately, those last miles had some killer hills. I ate each one for breakfast, promising myself that the downhill was dessert. They came and they went and I kept going. The last mile was almost all uphill and now it was starting to hurt. I was seeing fuzzy, wavy lines in front of my eyes - but I was still running and so I just kept running. I found that if I focused on the finish line, which I could see in the distance, the lines were less obvious than if I looked at the road ahead of me. So I looked at the finish line. This race was actually a wee bit over 10k, but they had considerately put a sign up at the Exactly 10k mark. It was there that I hit my stop watch. 56:40. Just over 9:00 miles - a pace thiry seconds per mile under what Runner's World says I should be able to complete a 10k in, according to my 5k PR. Not stellar. But not too bad for a former 12 minute miler. It was OK with me and it was the best that I could do on that day. The finish line was really close now, so I started to sprint. I'm not sure how I did, but I did. I ran like a bear was chasing me until I crossed the line.

Then I collapsed in the grass and tried to get out the words "How many women in front of me?" Hubby, who speaks Gasp, said he wasn't sure because a few 5kers were crossing just before I came in. So I waited for the awards. Crazy enough, I took second out of six in my age group. Crazier than that, though they only gave out age group medals, I was third woman overall. Lemme say that again. Third Place Female. Overall. Never, in a million, zillion years, when I was slogging out the miles pushing Boy Genius in a baby stroller and bemoaning how incredibly slow I was, did I ever think I would place Third Overall in a 10k. Even a small one, like this was. Even one with a lot of other slow women, like this one. Never in a million zillion years.

To temper the incredible pride that came before, Lady Tri was kind enough to send a fall. In the form of an endo. Thankfully, an endo onto the grass, so I wasn't hurt. It was a beautiful full somersault which ended with me in a pile and Pyro as the Cake Topper. I was tired. I had just climbed a hill- a hill that came at the end of a 2 hour, 27 mile, hilly ride. My legs were trashed from the 10k the day before. I was almost home. Almost home meaning, I was right in front of my house. I hit a curb. Thankfully, nobody saw. Or, if they did, they were kind enough not to let me know. So I got a healthy dose of both Triathlon Vitamins this weekend. Pride and Humility. Its all good.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Um. Wow.

Things are going really well in my little corner of the world. For one, this blog has been featured in the USAT-Midwest Region newsletter. So cool. I wish I could think of something brilliant and insightful to say, but AJ hasn't gotten back to me with any ideas.

Secondly, my friend Sally and Adam Zucco, both from Training Bible, are doing a VO2 Max demo tonight at Little Shark (team headquarters)and guess who gets to do the demo test? Your's truly!! So, I will finally know my true Lactate Threshold and what my freakin' heart rate is "supposed" to be when I'm training in any given Zone.

Should be pretty handy for these next few weeks as I pile on the mileage and intensity (yeah, yeah, I'm following the 10% rule and all that) getting ready for the Lake St. Louis Oly Distance in September. And, it will really be useful this fall when I begin marathon training for the Space Coast Marathon in Florida the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Yes, gentle readers, I did say MARATHON! Its time this Fire Bird got some run on. My run has improved greatly this season but I think it can only get better with some focused training. Plus, I just want to say I did it. What the hell, a couple of triathlons under my belt, I might as well do the 26.2, right? Sure. What the hell.

So, my motivation, which has been sorely lacking after my incredibly relaxing trip to the river (post and pictures to come, I promise), is starting pick up again. I can feel that fire in my belly starting to burn and I'm looking forward to what it has in store for me.

Tomorrow morning, I'm racing a 10k - my first - so I can start to get the feel for that distance at race intensity. I've run that far (and farther) many times, but, as you all can attest to, training is not racing. Wish me luck, sports fans!

And be careful out there!

**** Edit - Ok, so I'm the type of person to constantly "rear view mirror" edit myself and it occurs to me, after much thought throughout the day, that my above "scoff" at the 26.2 miles might not clearly be tongue in cheek. So, there ya go. Totally tongue in cheek. 26.2 miles is terrifying!! But I'm doing it because that's what I do - I look stuff that terrifies me right in the face and stick out my tongue and say "I'm doing it anyway." When I was four, I insisted I was big enough to ride the kids roller coaster. My mom and dad warned me that it would be scary, that it was bigger than it looked, but I insisted that I wanted to do it and that it would be fun. I got on that thing and I did it. With a big smile plastered on my face - right below saucer sized eyes filled with terror. I was, in fact, terrified, but I wasn't going to let my mom and dad - or the roller coaster - know this. I still love roller coasters. That is the nature of this beast.

Whew. I feel better now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gotta Get Away!

So, I wasn't sore from the race but Thursday's bootcamp with my friend Coach Sally has me in agony!!! Any of you lucky enough to live in or visiting the St. Louis area should check it out. Its a great workout and there are several triathletes (including Sally herself) involved.

Thank God I'm heading for the river tomorrow, my thighs are in dire need of recovery.

Did I mention that I'm heading for the river tomorrow? Not just any river, mind you, our river - as in Hubby's and mine. We first visited this river (which for the sake of preserving said river's quiet wildness I promised Hubby I wouldn't name) when we had been dating only two months. It was a test of sorts that we both passed with flying colors (thankfully!)

It was on this trip that I really knew Hubby was "the one". I had suspected it before, even that early, but on this trip, I knew. It was in the way we approached the challenges on the river together without tension or blame but with two heads working quickly to find the best solution. It was in the way that, when my beloved Dudley went missing on the trail (during the backpacking segment of the trip), Hubby (then Boyfriend) stayed positive and offered unparalleled support. I'll never forget walking down the trail ahead of him, calling Dudley's name then finally starting to break down as I lost all hope of ever seeing him again - and hearing my Future Hubby not walking, but running up behind me to put his arms around me and assure me that it would be OK. The sound of those steps running up behind me was the sound of my future. We found Dudley (of course) and the ending was nothing but happy.

The next summer we returned to the river and found the same gravel bar from the year before to camp on. It was perfect in every way - a raised and tree-sheltered spot for the tent, a beautiful bluff to look at across the river, a fire circle on a gravel beach to cook on as the sun set. Even a rope swing.

It was that year, on this gravel bar that we got engaged. Without a doubt, one of the most ecstatic moments of my life.

Last summer, we were back again. Same gravel bar, same idyllic feeling. Its our river.

Dudley's river too.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Aftermath

I thought I'd be sore - I'm not. I thought I'd be exhausted - I wasn't. I suppose that means that I should have put more out there, left more on the course. But, in my life so far, I've learned so many lessons through pain, it's awfully nice to learn a few through joy. That sounds a little like I'm feeling sorry for myself, but I'm not. Most of my "pain" has been self inflicted - ramming my head repeatedly into figurative brick wall after figurative brick wall just to prove to myself that it was hard. Enough of that!

The race euphoria has worn off a bit but, thanks to all of your encouragement and the support and love of my family, the famed post-race blues have yet to take seed. I'm gearing up and excited for the next challenge - Lake St. Louis Olympic Distance.

In other news, thanks to 21stCenturyMom, my FTE report is featured on Race Athlete's website! How cool is that!

Well, sports fans, its another day in this brand new triathlete's life - and I'm looking forward to grabbing it and running - or biking - or swimming with it.

Be careful out there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

FTE: The Real Story

With support like this, how can you go wrong? My dad, sister and my nephew came in from an hour away to meet Hubby and Boy Genius at the shuttle pick up at 7:00 in the morning. I could hear them cheering for me during the swim, on the bike, and at the start and finish of the run. They made me feel like a superstar.

My race really started last night, at my son's baseball game which started at 8:00. PM. Also known as "My Private Hell." Who in the hell schedules a baseball game for seven year olds at 8:00 at night? Boy Genius was grumpy before we even got there. And by grumpy I mean the "I hate you, I don't want to live with you anymore, your cooking tastes like vomit" variety of grumpy. These are exact quotes. So, yeah. I wasn't feeling real warm and fuzzy about the baseball game and the hours of sleep it was stealing from the Eve of my First Tri Ever. But, once we got there, he settled down, apologized, professed his love for me, and played a good game. He was especially good at hitting (he's probably the most consistent hitter on his team - Go Boy Genius!!) and kicking the dirt around so it got in the other players' eyes. He's crafty that way.

So, with about two hours less sleep than I would have preferred, I awoke this morning at 5:00 a.m. to the dawn of my (say it with me) First Tri Ever. Now, as you can probably imagine, I had opened my eyes several times before my "official" 5:00 a.m wakeup time. First at midnight, then 2:00, then 3:30. And probably a few more times before that. As has been reported by many other bloggers, sleep is not sound the night before a race. Especially not before one's FTE. Aren't you glad I didn't make you say it with me that time?

I was nervous bordering on Terrified Out of My Mind. But I ate about a half a bowl of oatmeal, a half a cup of coffee and a half a banana. Just before I left, I pulled up my training log and looked at the total number of running miles, biking miles, and swimming yards. "This is what you've put into this." I said to Self. "This is where you've been. Where you're going is a piece of cake compared to this." This calmed me down considerably and I was ready to go.

When I arrived at the race, I found I had a ton of questions and not a lot of folks to answer them. No bodymarking - so "Do we need our numbers on the bike?" No one knew. "Does transition close at all?" Again, no one knew for sure but there was a strong suspicion that, since there were a number of heats setting out from 7:00 in the morning until 8:45, that they would leave the area open to the athletes. So I set up my transition area to my satisfaction, made sure Pyro was all comfy on her rack, and slipped on my running shoes to head out for a warm up jog. It was cool but very humid - and I felt absolutely fabulous. I couldn't have been in better spirits. I felt tough in my uniform, my feet felt like they had springs in them and I was just totally psyched at the energy surrounding the race. I did my warmup without my socks and that felt so darn right that I decided to leave the socks off for the race as well. I smeared body glide all over the tops and sides of my feet and felt good to go.

The span of time between the end of my warmup and the start of my heat allowed me to find those butterflies again. And when you think of these butterflies, imagine about ten thousand eagle sized mothras beating around in my little tum. It was a little disconcerting. I was really going to do this - I was really going to swim/bike/run as fast as I could for an hour plus. That's when AJ's Race Phase No. ? began: OMG, OMG, OMFG!!!

Thankfully, it was soon time for me to go up to the pool and watching the other swimmers calmed me down. There were a couple of dudes breast-stroke/doggy-paddling/running on the bottom. And this one woman was doing the absolute slowest freestyle I have ever seen. That, my dear ones, is saying something. And you know what, though seeing them made me feel better, I didn't feel superior or like I was looking down on them at all. In fact I was kind of impressed that they were out there, giving it a shot. They were working a lot harder than the fishes on the other side of the pool, and they were doing it anyway. That was pretty cool.

The Swim

As soon as I got in the water, my nerves disappeared and I felt absolutely ready.
I started joking with the guy in my lane - we got lucky and the third person in our lane didn't show and it was just the two of us.

I'm the one in the blue swim cap with the shark on it.

And then, we swam.

Best swim ever - 300 yds - 5:44. A time that, for me, was, as our friend Bolder would say, stellah!



Easy Peasy.

The Bike

I cut a little time off of my previous trial runs here, but not a lot. My weakness, it seems, is cornering. I slow way down before approaching a sharp turn and I lose time on it. In fact, this one woman I cat and moused with for the entire last half of the ride passed me once and for all because I had slowed down to go down the chute into T2. And everytime she'd passed me before had been before a turn - I would slow for the turn, she would buzz past, I would catch her and blow by her until she caught me on the next turn. Something to work on. I got passed by four other people. Two chicks on the second lap, going up the only real hill of the course - and there was no way I was catching them. They were, without doubt, Out of My League. One dude passed me the same way - see ya dude, lookin' strong! And one chick who thought she had me on the uphill but I blew past her like she was standing still as soon as we crested the hill. See, I had a strategy. I was spinnin' up the hill to save my legs, not blowing all I had on the climb only to come out with nothing for the flats and the down hills. I didn't have time to give her that little pointer though, so I just said "On your left" in the most encouraging, positive, in your face sort of way I knew how. And after that, other than cat and mouse chick, I was the one that did all the passing. I passed on dude in a speedo on a nice road bike - like he wasn't even moving. And tons of folks on mountain bikes and hybrids. And two girls on road bikes - I heard one say to the other as I blew past, "I wish I could ride like that." I. Shit. You. Not. I wanted to laugh, thinking of all my rubber side down moments. Instead, I just stood up a little and pumped like I meant it to put a bit more distance on those two lovelies - cause that's what one of the Out of My League chicks did when she passed me. I thought it looked cool. Thank you, lovelies, you made my day. I hope you had a good race!

Final time: 31:37

T2 - :49

Yeah, baby!

The Run

As many of you know, after last weeks debacle, I was fearing the run a bit.

I started out conservatively -

And I just kept at it, grinding up the hills, encouraging and accepting encouragement from the other runners, and staying positive.

"OK, chica, this is where we started. The Run. You love to run. So, do it. Nice and easy. Relaxed like a Kenyan. You're going to do this. You're going to be a triathlete today."

And so it went for 15 minutes and change to the turnaround. The halfway mark came before I knew it and it felt great to turn around - especially since I knew there were more downhills than uphills on the way back. So, I started down the hill, and started to pick it up.

"All, right, lady, let's make hay while the sun shines, pick up that cadence, stay relaxed, you've got it."

A slight side stitch toyed with me throughout, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. I kept at it. I was encouraging the runners that were starting their run -"You're almost halfway, you've got this!" Until it occurred to me that if I had the breath to cheer, I wasn't going fast enough. So I picked it up some more.

When I passed the last water station, the one where this totally awesome lady had her garden hose on in her front yard and was spraying any runner that wanted it, I knew I was going to finish this thing. And, looking at the time on my stopwatch, I had a suspicion I was going to beat my 1:15 goal. So I picked it up some more.

The last 400 yards or so before the finish, I'm not sure if I was smiling on the outside, I was concentrating on keeping up the pace, pushing it a little harder, but on the inside, I was beaming.

"You're going to do this! You're going to be a triathlete, today!"

I could feel all the training, all the sweat, all the falls and the tears and the elation I had experienced on this entire journey - erupting as I crossed the finish. I did it. Today, I became a triathlete.

Run time - 28:33.

Final time - 1:08:15

I didn't win any bling. I was 7th out of 18 in my age group and 114 out of 200+ participants. Right in the middle of the pack. At first, I was disappointed with this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at this time of my life, I like the middle of the pack just fine. Most of my life I've been first - or vieing for it. First born, First in the Long Jump, "Best Actress", "Best Singer", blah, blah, blah. In the theatrical world, I was always fighting to stay at the top - if you want to work, you have to be one of the very very best. Always pressuring myself to be more - letting my self worth depend on the latest review, the latest role, what the latest director had to say about me. It was exhausting. And I was pretty good at it. But I wasn't good enough to stay up there without a cost. And that price tag was getting just a little bit ridiculous.

Being in the middle is kind of cozy. There's not a lot of pressure and nobody other than the people who matter are watching you. Nobody is waiting with baited breath for you to fall. There are victories and triumphs and failures here too, but they are more personal, more about your own growth, your own happiness than about what the masses are saying about you. I like it here, in the middle. I have lots of great company.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This is NOT an Official Post.

Well it is, but I said I wasn't going to do another "official post" until after my FTE. But, Pirate just tagged me a Rockin' Girl Blogger and I am so excited, I just couldn't wait!!! This is way better than even winning my FTE would be - So it totally doesn't matter what happens on Sunday because I have been labeled "Rockin'" by one of the coolest, rockinest chicks evah!! Am I gushing too much?

OK, so I nominate

No Wetsuit Girl
Little Miss Runner Pants

Man. Only five? Well, these ladies are rockin' it - now its their turn to pass it on. There are of course some rockin' mens out there too, but this one's about the womens. Rock on, bloggers!


This is, officially, my last post before my FTE. I haven't really sorted out how I feel right now. Part of me is totally non-chalant but I have this sort of tingly numb feeling in my whole body when I think about the race this weekend. Its happening right now, and I'm having a hard time typing.

My hopes:

I hope I don't forget anything.
I hope it doesn't rain.
I hope I don't crash.
If I crash, I hope I get back on (I will.)
I hope I don't flat.
If I flat, I hope I can get the tire changed quickly (yes, I've practiced this, but I haven't had to do it on the road yet)
I hope I get my nutrition all sorted out and right.
I hope I don't puke during the run.
I kind of hope I do puke at the finish. Then I'll know I gave it everything. Sick? Uh, yeah. Sick.

I don't fear any of the above. Whatever will be, will be. I can only carry my hopes with me and move forward, knowing I have put in the training, I have the will, I have the drive, I will roll with whatever Lady Tri throws at me. I know she's not my enemy - she's just a pretty tough instructor sometimes. And sometimes, sometimes she leaves me feeling like I've been hugged by the light. We'll see what she has for me on Sunday. Probably both.

I gotta say this. You guys have meant so much to me these months of training and whining and laughing and crying and commiserating. Though I haven't had the pleasure of meeting any of you (yet!) I count you all as my friends and I feel so very very fortunate to do so. Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again. This is just a little race coming up but this whole experience has done so much to shape me, encourage me, thrill me and sometimes spill me. And you all have made it so amazing. I'm getting a little verklept here, which seems sort of, I don't know, trite, but it really has been a journey to mark time by.

I'll see you on the flip side!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back on the Horse

Well, the shoulder is pretty much healed - some stiffness, but nothing like before. And the water tests came back clean. And it was a beautiful evening. So, I jumped back on that open water horse and I rode that bitch for awhile. Only 400 yards cuz, you know, taper. I have no idea what my time was but I wasn't really getting passed or passing anyone, I just sort of swam with the other fishies in the muddy water, found feet bubbles now and again to draft off of and knocked out my little swim. There were a couple of moments where I felt the panic start to creep in but I talked myself out of it. I realized that the natural thing when you are swimming in water of unknown depth is to fight sinking. You start thinking about the bottom and fearing getting sucked down there. But when you relax and really pay attention, you realize that the water is holding you up. All you have to do is move yourself forward. So I concentrated on that - feeling the water hold me up and moving myself forward. I thought about how warm the water was, how blue the sky was and how good it felt to be free in the lake instead of cooped up in a lane.

It was all good.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Still Seeking

Wow. So, much research has been done on the stages of grief. I would be curious to know the “Stages of a Race” and how they vary from person to person. So far, for me anyway, its seems the first stage is: Eager Anticipation. Followed by: Confidence. Then: Over Confidence. Next: Deep Seated Insecurity. Now: Seeking Balance.

Geez. What’s next.? I’ve come to terms with my strengths and limitations – at least for now. I’m looking forward to just racing on Sunday, results be damned – at least for now. It seems my confidence is returning though it’s still somewhat shaky and tempered by reality.

I think ultimately, this simultaneous relentlessness and inclusiveness is what attracts me to triathlon. Anyone can do this – if they put in the training. And sometimes the training will bring you to your knees. It will build you up then tear you down again – if you let it be your only gauge of self-worth. If you define success with a narrow scope and allow too much to depend on that success, it will eat you alive. On the flip side, if you allow the training and the experiences along the way to shape you, to teach you, and to nurture you, it will make more of you than you ever thought possible. It’s a little like hiking in the mountains. Go in prepared and with a healthy respect and reverence for the elements and all the inherent dangers they hold, and you will come away richer in body, mind and spirit. If you go in with nothing but hubris and the arrogant desire to shape the mountain to your own design, you will be lucky to come away with your life. Like the mountain, triathlon can be a patient, merciful, and encouraging teacher if you give it the respect it deserves – and not allow any individual aspect of it to dominate who you think you are. Like any brutal truth, what you learn and what you gain entirely depends on you and your willingness to humble yourself and allow yourself to be filled with what you did not know before.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


This morning, as taper week begins to . . . well, taper, I decided to get in one more run of the Ballwin Tri (also known as FTE, my First Tri Ever) Course. Everything but the swim and without really hammering the transitions. My plan was about 80% of race effort but, really, the bike ended up being close to 90% (maybe more) and the run . . . well the run SUCKED ASS. Donkey Ass. Dirty, stinky, just had some carrot induced diarrhea donkey ass. It was the run that wasn't. To put it more plainly. I. Walked. Walked. It took me over forty minutes to do the f*(&ing thing. In fact, as soon as I set out on the run I had the thought: "Who am I kidding? I'm not going to place in my age group. I must have been on crack." It was all downhill from there.

Or rather, it was all uphill. Or a lot of uphill. Suddenly the slow times of last year begin to make sense. Then I got a side stitch. Not just a "OK, forcefully exhale and relax your belly on the inhale, smooth out your stride . . . ah, that's better" kind of side cramp. No it was a "Holy crap, this is what Braveheart must have felt like when they were pulling out his guts!" kind of side cramp. I ran through it for a bit then said "Screw it, I've already lost this thing, anyway" and walked. I walked and cried like a little girl. Well, I didn't cry, but I wanted to.

As I walked, I tried to talk myself out of the downward spiral I was speeding down. "You had a really good bike. You're really getting strong on that bike." To which self answered back "I averaged less than 16 miles per hour. That sucks. I'm still two minutes over my goal pace. Total Suckage." Self said "Not, total suckage. That hill in the middle is tough - its going to be tough on everyone. And the detour cost you some time - just as it will for everyone. Let the bike alone. You did well." self tried a new tactic "Fine, you'll get through the bike, but here you are walking up this god forsaken hill. Walking. You're going to be last." "You know, next week I will not have stayed up until 11:00 drinking beer at a pool party the night before. Next week I will get up early and eat a bowl of oatmeal and not bonk. I will ingest a full gel instead of just half. I'll dilute my Gatorade and sip instead of gulp on the bike. Also, I'll be coming off of a week of taper instead of two days in a row of intense running and biking. It'll be a whole different ballgame. You can't use today as an indicator for performance a week from now." "Yes I can. You're going to be last." "Shut up." "You shut up."

I'd say it was a draw. Finally, I caught up with Hubby and we walked and jogged until the end. The best I can say is at least I did the whole course. I wanted to turn around but I knew I would feel that as more of a failure. I guess its time to adjust my goals, stay positive and just try to have fun out there. I need to give myself permission to not kick everyone's ass out there. Either way, I'll have a PR since it's my FTE!!

New goals:

Tier One: Not to forget my bike (Thanks to Jane for that one. Go give her a shout, she's doing her FTE on the same day as me, just in a different state so we don't have to try and kick each other's butts.)
Tier Two: Finish strong, knowing I left it all out on the course
Tier Three: Not to be DFL

Oh God. I really am doing this in a week. Crap.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Here. We. Go.

Well, sports fans, with my FTE (First Tri Ever) looming in the very near future, I am starting to get excited. I'm finishing my "peak week" up this afternoon with a quick, high intensity session on the trainer and a fifteen minute run off in the 90+ degree heat. Should be fun. Actually, one of the more surprising aspects of my training has been my ability to adapt to the heat. Heat used to be a workout killer for me, but (as long as I take my e-caps), not so much anymore. Today's run will definitely test those limits.

Peak week has been a mixed bag for me as I'm still not able to swim due to last weekends 25 year old induced shoulder injury. Pride/Hubris definitely goeth before a fall. Literally. I get one medal (third in my age group, Taste of Tilles 5k, thank you very much) and I think I can keep up with the fast kids. So not happening. So, my shoulder is still unhappy with me and swimming is right out. I am icing, Adviling, resting and praying. Worst case scenario: FTE swim is only 300m. I can knock that out regardless - though it might hurt a little. Then I'll take a week off of everything if I have to and get this puppy well. The swim is not going to win this thing for me anyway. Ironically, its my growing strength on the bike that will make or break my final time.

Starting tomorrow, my taper begins - a gradual drop off of duration with bursts of high intensity until race day. I know I'm going to be one antsy chick come next Friday. Someone's going to have to sit on me to keep me from swimming/running/biking my fiery little heart out. I'll see if Hubby can take off work for that one.

Come July 15th at 7:30 a.m., I'll see what these months of training hath wrought. I'm hoping for more bling. I hate to put it out there, but, looking at last year's times v. my training times, I have a decent shot at the top three in my age group. That's my Level 3 Goal. Speaking of which, I might as well put all that out there. My Goals are three tiered - Level 1 being the base level I'll be happy with - the bare minimum for me to walk away smiling and Level 3 being the "in my wildest dreams" reach. They are as follows:

Level 1 - Finish strong, knowing I left it all out on the course.
Level 2 - Finish in under 1:15.
Level 3 - (as previously mentioned) Place in my age group (35 - 39). Its a tough group to compete with, but its a small race. And I have so trained for it.

There it is. And Here We Go.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Funny Story

Just to show you how much training, racing and blogging have gotten into my brain, I'm gonna share this little story. TMI warning!!!

The other night I had a dream that I was racing in the Boulder Stroke and Stride. I was the only person without a wetsuit (the water was REALLY cold) and kept trying to draft off the same Clydesdale that was in front of me during my First Open Water Swim Ever. Like the FOWSE, though, I kept catching the guy and almost swimming over top of him which was freaking him out, so then I was trying to get around him which I couldn't manage either. Meanwhile, in the real world, my dog was puking on the floor from some plastic my husband had given him earlier that evening (?!?!?!?). I heard him puking in my dream and thought "Wow, Dudley is having a really hard time with this race. He's going to have to DNF." Finally, the puking woke me up and I poked Hubby and said "Dudley's puking." Hubby, subliminally knowing that he was responsible, got up to clean it up. Also, I can't see an effing thing without my contacts and I don't have glasses. So I was blind and incapable of assistance. I know, you feel my pain.

ANYWAY, as Hubby was cleaning up the mess, I told him "I was dreaming I was doing the Boulder Stroke and Stride . . ." He abruptly stops me with "What the F*@&!?! He's got a name for it?" I could hear how incredulous he was and only then did I realize that it did sound kind of . . . suggestive. "Its a race, honey. Its a swim and run race in Boulder, CO." "Oh." Sounding relieved. "OK."

Yeah. So, this is definitely permeating my home. At least we got that cleared up quickly. Otherwise, it could have been ugly.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Homage to Bolder.

This week, particularly this weekend held some of each of our friend Bold's traditional Monday post:

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

So, rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I will borrow his format with a great bow of reverence and assurance that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Without further adieu:

The Good

I got a couple of great training sessions in this week, not as many as hoped but some high quality, very encouraging workouts. I think I'm going to be ready for whatever Ballwin throws at me on the fifteenth.

My LSAT score is in. 163, 88th percentile. It was received with initial elation followed by deep disappointment (only top 12%? Crap, that's not going to get me a scholarship!) followed by acceptance and relative peace with the number. Its not stellar but its not too shabby.

I ran about 9.5 miles with a few of my teammates on a lovely trail near my house. It was very difficult but also a blast.

Two of my local friend's rocked Coeur d'Alene and have recruited Mary Ann (of the kamikaze rabbit incident) to do it with them next year. They even invited me to join them!!

The Bad

On the trail run, I was DFL throughout, though they seemed to take turns holding back and running with me. I guess that, although I'm faster than I've ever been, I still can't keep up with the 25 year old studs and chicas. They were very sweet and didn't try to make me feel bad but I felt bad anyway.

My Wednesday open water swim was cancelled due to "marginally unsafe e coli levels". I really needed to get back on that horse after Kevin Hunt's tragic drowning last weekend. For now, the horse is in the pasture and I keep looking over my shoulder at it. I know its gotta be ridden but I'm dreading it just the same.

In addition to peaking my fear of open water, last weekend's incident has also convinced some members of my family that I am insane and have a death wish for doing this.

Strain on the home front over the amount of training I'm already doing makes IM C'dA impossible for next year. One of these days, when I figure out a way to make money that's more flexible and when Boy Genius is older. But not this year. On a positive note, we are seriously considering going up there anyway to either volunteer or just party and cheer on the many peeps from blogland who are racing along with Annette, Sally and Mary Ann, my local "girls". Keep your fingers crossed on that front.

The Ugly

Not three minutes into the aforementioned trail run, I tripped on a rock on an abrupt downhill and took flight into the nearby bushes. Not the kind of flight I was imagining earlier this week but rather one that ended in scratches, scrapes, a circle of concerned 25 year old faces above me and a bad feeling in my shoulder. Though I was able to swim 1600 yards shortly afterward, the pain that followed that little stunt has convinced me that swimming is out of the question until it heals. It hurts to lift my arm and any rotation is near agony. Shit. I took yesterday and today off but I'm getting on my bike and running tomorrow. I have to get some peak in this week. Worst case scenario, I know I can knock out the 300 yard swim on July 15, even if I can't swim until then. Say a little prayer for me - or light a candle or something. This shoulder must make a miraculous comeback or I'm trading it in for a new one.

Much love to all of you guys out there - your support when I was in the dumps and your encouragement as I fly out have been beyond fabulous. I love you guys. I really do. Sniff.

Here's to better days!