Thursday, June 28, 2007

Advice on the Parts that are Private

Remember those paper dolls when we were kids? The ones that had vast wardrobes of regular day clothes and a perpetual supply of the coolest Halloween garb you'd ever seen? And all it took was a fold or two of the tabs and -- presto -- yet another outfit for yet another adventure.

Yeah, I hated them, too. Damned tags.

Anyway, I'm having a quandary about my clothing choices for my VERY FIRST EVER OH MY GOD AM I SCARED FOR THIS half ironman this weekend. Why can't I seem to dress myself?

Oh, maybe because I'm running on only a little sleep, because my taper has left me with a brutal case of insomnia that I can't shake without hours and HOURS of bad tv on at a whisper volume. And while I can't sleep and I'm often twitchy with coffee, at least I've seen every episode of LA Forensics.

(Goodness, I need some sleep.)

Aaaanyway. I digress.

Dress me. Right.

My quandary is this: I have two options for my clothing for Sunday's race and I can't come to a decision about which to do.

Option # 1: Super Easy, Potentially Painful

Tucked in the back of my closet is this little number. (And nope, that's not me in the picture. In fact, I don't even remotely look like that in it. Remember, guys...atheeeena. A-the-na.)

I usually only wear this for shorter races, mainly because that's the only kind of races I've ever done! But it's comfortable and when I wear it I completely forget about my clothing and focus on my racing.

The down side -- padding for the coocheroo. Woob, lady parts, my "area"... you get the picture. It's a tri suit. Hence, fabulous padding that dries before you get your wetsuit off, but has the protection of a maxi pad.

Option #2: Awkward, but Reliable

Now my second choice is doing a full cycling garb for the ride. My Team StayPut shorts are really great and have a sturdy gel pad (LOVE ME SOME GEL!) for my coocheroo. They dry well and are comfortable.

The team top, however, leaves a little to be desired. It's scratchy and tight in all the wrong places. It matches (a plus for my vain side), but I always am a little uncomfortable -- and a lot self conscious -- wearing it. It's a kit, so it can't be split.

And therein is my quandary.

Here's my estimation of the process...


The swim: Wear the race suit, with jog bra, under the wetsuit. Minimal complication.

T1: Easy strip of the wet suit, possibly put on arm warmers.

The bike: Minimal padding for 56 miles of racing. Fifty-six miles. Hmmm. Also, only one rear pocket. I don't think this will be a huge problem (I have a bento for my solids, and fluids are on the bike).

T2: Jersey girl fast and easy. That is, if I can still walk after the maxi pad ride.

The Run: Super comfortable. Plan calls for 3 gels on run (plus gatorate at rest stops), which can go in rear pocket. Picture perfect finish.

Prediction #2

The Swim: Full kit would be restrictive, so just wear cycling shorts and jog bra under wetsuit. Would be mildly uncomfortable, but my mind will likely be on trying not to drown.

T1: Pull on dry cycling top to complete outfit, possibly add arm warmers.

The Bike: Lots of cooter comfort, but scratchy and uncomfortable top. Three rear pockets for whatever.

T2: Trade tops for -- well, I don't know. A running top. Doing a half mary in my team top would be gross. Need to find a running top that has a pocket, or bring something to carry gels.

The Run: Shorts may feel unnecessarily padded, but let's get serious...I'll just be trying to finish at that point.


Of course, I'll bring it all. Isn't that what we do best? Over pack?

But, ladies -- I'd love to hear if you've ever done a 50+ ride in a tri suit or tri shorts. Was it horrible? Did you notice?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mountaineer Tri: By the Numbers

Okay, a little time over lunch, some tedious but informative clicking of the mouse and feeling a little better about this weekend. (Not about my performance, mind you. More about my preparedness for next weekend.)

Here's why.

For the life of me, I couldn't find the Mountaineer Tri course (new or old) mapped out on the various mapping services (Mapmyride, Bikely, BT, MotionBased, etc.).

So I spent my lunch making my own. I may be wrong on a turn or two, but I think it's close to accurate.

Here's why I feel a little better.

French Creek debacle ride was 4000 feet of climb in 52 miles.
The Mountaineer will be 2460 feet of climb in 56 miles.

French Creek was constant climbs and rollers.
The Mountaineer is two loops, the beginning and end of each are along the water. Result? The miles 0-5, 25-33, and 53-end are relatively flat. Which means our legs will have some time to rest in between hilly sections. I like rest.

Looks like there are three climbs in each loop on the course. The first at 7, looks like a map anomaly, rather than a real hill. Second, a steady climb from mile 10 to 14. And last, a challenging one from mile 19 to 20. That last one may hurt a little the second time around.

French Creek was a nutritional meltdown.
The Mountaineer will not be a repeat performance of my poor nutrition choices. No way, Jose.

French Creek was a mistake that happened way before I got on the bike that morning.
The Mountaineer will be following a taper, ample hydration and a ton a sleep.


My Dad once said that as a child I always had to try things once -- I never could take his word that they were hard or painful. It only took once, but I had to learn from first hand experience. Seems I have brought that approach into my adult life.

An Autopsy: French Creek Iron Tour

Well wasn't that a tad bit unpleasant?

And when I say a tad bit unpleasant, I really mean along the lines of eye surgery without anesthesia or elephant birth.

Sunday was just not my day. Just. Not. My. Day.

In order to appreciate how it went down (or, actually, up), you need to know how my Saturday went. Lovely! Mighty M and I had an "agenda free day," which in our household means we wake up whenever we want, we wander around the house doing chores without pressure, and maybe even run a lazy errand or two. We managed to put a new faucet in the kitchen without killing each other (home repair does not bring us together...more like brings out the worst in each of us), cleaned up after a busy week, and generally got our house in order.

So, when 8:00 rolled around and I finally realized that if I didn't run NOW, then I would miss my long run for the week, I grabbed my shoes and watch and got outta dodge. Ten miles in under 2 hours -- nice and strong, in fact 11:10 minute miles. BUT, of course there was the Sunday ride to consider.

And if not consider, perhaps sabotage.

Mistake # 1 : Leg drain.


And although I came back feeling great from the run, I didn't listen to the Yoda voice in my head telling me to eat. I was just too rushed to get things together and settled on some custard and, well, nothing else.

Good lord, what was I thinking?

(Oh, yes...and for those who know me know that I already learned this damnable lesson! With the same run course and THE SAME RUN TIME, almost to the minute! That makes it all the more frustrating to go through again!)

Mistake # 2 : Empty the tanks.

Sleep came after some running around to get all my nutrition and gear together -- sometime around 11:30 or midnight. Wake up call at 6:00. So that's, like, six hours of sleep. I'm not even pleasant on seven hours, much less six.

Mistake #3 : Lack of sleep.

Tried to get some food in me, as I was actually hungry in the morning. (Go figure, Watson!) Big bowl of cereal and a small coffee first, load the car, and then headed to the site. By the time I had gone through registration and got the bike setup, it was time to hit the road. At that point, I probably had 300 calories on board. I didn't feel the impending bonk yet, but I should have known. Seriously, I got a 5 on the math AP, but I can't manage to add up my calorie intake?


Mistake #4 : Slacking on pre-ride fuel

And I was off. I had my Garmin with me, so I kept an eye on my heartrate for a while. That is, until the first hill, which was a doosey. Like with the Taxing Metric (on these very same roads!), the first hill was one of the hardest. Soon it became apparent that the frequency of inclines and the occasional serious hill was going to make it very hard to conserve energy or have a good average mph.

In the first hour I had a 1/2 a bottle of Perpetuem. That's it.

Hour two? Second half of Perpetuem and 1/2 a bottle of Heed. That's it.

Approximate intake? 400 calories.

Mistake #5: Waiting too long to start "eating" and drinking

From there on out, I think the damage was already done. The hills were giving me little reprieve and I had very little energy to throw at them. I became dehydrated early -- of course -- and started craving water. I skipped the first stop (at 12 miles, when I was still feeling alright) and the next was at 30 miles.

Where I spent 38 minutes. Recovering. Drinking as much as I could. Looking desperately for nonexistent bananas (how can a rest stop NOT have bananas??). Staring at the map that showed how many, many more miles the group had to go for the 100 mile route.

And calling Mighty M. Because I was scared. Of my legs and my energy. He told me to think of next weekend and push through the 50 miles, so my brick run would really tell me something. I agreed in theory, but doubted my ability.

And this whole time, I'm wondering what the hell happened.

Seriously. What the hell happened??

I've been off the bike for about two weeks now because of it being in the shop and getting new bars, but before then I was riding 50, 60, and 70 mile routes without complaint for weeks. Can you lose that much progress in 10 lousy days?

I started doubting everything -- next week's half iron distance, any slim hope to make it through the iron bike. Everything. I was my own worst enemy at that rest stop.

38 minutes of this.

Mistake #6: Losing focus, big time.

From here on out, it was about survival for me. Just getting to the end of the road. When we were back on familiar ground, I decided to cut the 50 mile route short and just head back to the parking lot. But, in my survival state, I simply continued to follow the arrows on the road. Which, of course, did not lead back to the parking lot...they let out to the next loop of the course.

The next loop of the course.

Good grief.

So, one more rest stop (thankfully much shorter this time!) and back to the car. 52 total miles. Very close to the half iron distance. So at least I have that to put in my back pocket.

Next: a run off the bike.

I have never in my life looked forward to running more than this moment. Never. If it meant that I was done with the lousy hill climbing, I was game.

Did a quick changeroo in the parking lot and headed back out to the course. Got a number of second-take glances from the volunteers who couldasworn they just saw me bike in the other direction.

The run was short and uneventful. And the only good thing that happened since the night before, and that was merely happenstance. Alright, maybe a byproduct of all the time I've been putting into my running recently. At least I didn't manage to screw that up, too.

When I got back, I was cooked. My legs were cooked. I felt the tendons in my upper back and neck that got a workout when I was out of the saddle so often on the ride. My knees were already screaming at me.

And I was mentally cooked. I had blown it and I knew it. I had a chance to get a full century of hills in -- making a major training milestone -- and I blew it.

I learned so much from the experience, but the unpleasantness is still draped over me, even this morning. Being out there with no energy and no outlet was horrible. To know that I could have prevented it with better planning made things worse.

I'm a big optimist in real life. I'm always finding new perspectives for friends who are in bad spots and searching for a lesson in the wreckage.

So, I go through that process again, but this time it feels less restorative. I know what I learned from the day -- rest and good planning are essential for long days, a lack of good nutrition will kill your ride, and consistency is key.

But they don't make me feel any better. And even though I know I can run the 13.1 miles, and I just completed a 52 mile course that has the same or more climbing than Sunday's race, and I have a slow but consistent swim -- I just don't feel confident.

My mental game is off, and yesterday didn't help. Neither did last Thursday -- when I swam in my wetsuit for the first time and found it to be a little too large and much heavier to manage in the water than I had hoped. That didn't help either.


Is this the mental part of the sport? Is this the psychological side of preparing? Will I work through these fears and arrive at the starting line with some hope in place of this fear?

Because right now I'm discouraged. I need a good bike before next Sunday. I need to find my confidence out there again. I need to feel that "it" factor before I dip my toe in the Monongahela river. I need to know that the unexpected -- the unplanned and unpredictable -- will not be coming from me. To know that I'm prepared for the unplanned and unpredictable that the course will throw my way.

Maybe this is the respect for the distance I should have before a race like this. With so much focus on September, perhaps this is the heavy mental baggage a half ironman can dump on you when you're not paying attention, pretending like you can train through something of this distance. Perhaps this past weekend was a wonderful gift -- a warning of what can happen, and how hard it can hurt, if you are casual about 1.2/56/13.1. I'm in training, but I'm no machine.

Perhaps I just was reminded to be humble again.

Well, it worked. I am humble. I respect the distance. I get it now.

Day 76

Monday, Day 76

Nada, zilch, nothing, step away from the gym bag

Thoughts: I'm posting this as a day off right away this morning, so I'm not tempted to try to just go to the pool or some stupidness like that. Sore
all over -- back, neck, arms, and (of course) legs -- from the ride yesterday. I'm actually a little bewildered at how hard that was. I've done a bunch of 50+ rides on a weekend and didn't have to take a 38 minute rest stop. (Oh, no. I'm not joking. The Garmin doesn't lie. Thirty-eight minutes at the rest stop.) Something was very off yesterday and right now I am paying for it. Was it fitness? Was it Saturday's run? Nutrition? All? I don't know yet.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. Today is off. I'm having coffee/dinner with a friend after work who I
never get to see since she's an ER resident. Hopefully by tomorrow, I'll be on the mend. There is a half iron this weekend, cha'no.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Days 79, 78 & 77

Sunday, Day 77

Brick Bike: 52 miles, French Creek Iron, 5+ hours

Thoughts:  This ride kicked my butt for various reasons.  I'll go into them when I'm a bit fresher, but today was a day of hills and empty legs, no doubt related to my ill advised late night run last night.  I left disappointed, but at the end of the day, I did do a route that had 4000 feet of climbing, successfully used ecaps for the first time, and completed a brick transition.  I give it a B- grade, although the words "grade" and "hill" are on my short list of things that might make me spontaneously puke right now.

Brick Run: 1.6 miles, 20 minutes

Thoughts: Not breaking any land-speed records, but the legs made the transition flawlessly.  No awkward gait, no pain and felt good.  A nice confidence boost at the end of a disappointing day.


Saturday, Day 78

Run: 10 miles, 2 hours

Thoughts:  I started this run after 8, the night before a long ride.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  But, at the time it was really excellent.  I took a familiar route, saw lots of families and soaked in the great weather we're having.  But for the huge drain it took out of my legs for Sunday, it was a good thing.


Friday, Day 79


Thoughts:  Cleaned the bike, got the aero's set up for Sunday's ride, and spent some truly necessary time with Mighty M.  We haven't had much time alone recently and he got some really great career news this week.  We celebrated as we know best: tasty steaks on the grill, sweet potato oven "fries," salad, and fizzy.  Watched a movie and called it an early night.  I'm very proud of him, my Mighty M.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 80

Thursday, Day 80

Evening: Open Water Swim, 1200 ish

4 loops, 300

Thoughts: CGI Racing puts on this weekly open water swim that I've been drooling over from across the state line for months. It starts at 6:00 on a work day, so I've waited until now to get my act in gear to head out. Got reprieve from the bossman to come in early and leave at 4:00, braved the traffic, and made it there with time to spare.

This open water swim is SUCH a huge service to the Philly area tri community. Big. Huge. Supersized. And worth a post all it's own, since it was the first time I (a) put on my wetsuit in public, (b) swam in the darned thing, and (c) did an open water this season. Hmmmm....very interesting indeed. In-Deed.

Evening: Run, 4.5 miles, 55 minutes

Thoughts: I said to Mighty M as I walked out the door at nearly 9 (!) that I was doing my run under protest. I wanted it on the record. Frankly, it turned out to be a perfectly enjoyable run, but all I wanted after getting in from the NJ drive was a bowl of spaghetti and my bed. Here I am after 10 and still no spaghetti and no bed. Thankfully, though, there has been a shower to wash the pond scum/run sweat off. Seeeexy.

A Day in the Life

I adore Elizabeth Fedofsky's writing. Just love it. Is it possible that anyone who has managed to find my site has yet to see her's? A slim chance, but if so -- check it out!

Recently she did a great post on a day in her life. And imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Okay, maybe that rule is supposed to apply to monkeys or something, but you get my point. Here's a day in my life for all those either interested or easily amused.


11 Days to Half Iron
82 Days to Iron

5:15 AM -- Alarm goes off. I look at it sternly. It fails to turn itself off, so I do it the favor. Hit the snooze button three times. Thirty minutes should do it.* Go back to sleep.

5:45 AM -- Alarm again. Damn. Do a groggy once over of my day in my head. Question: do I split my workouts today or sleep a little now and do a double tonight. Probably should hit the snooze once to think that over.

5:55 AM -- Decision made. Swim later. Sleep now. Zzzzz.

8:00 AM -- Rested and ready for the day, I roll to the shower (cause I roll like that, yo) and get ready for the work day. First day back from vacation -- should be fun.

8:37 PM -- Late for work since I decided to actually blow dry my hair like a real grown up. Won't make that mistake again.

8:45 AM -- Dunkin Donuts, my mecca. My recent resolution to cut all the "extras" from my diet in the (desperate) hope to shed a pound or two means no cream in my coffee. Large coconut coffee, skim milk, Splenda. Not the same thing.

9:00 AM -- Work day starts, where I save the world with my left hand and knit shaws for the elderly with my right. Okay, maybe just respond to some emails, dig myself out from underneath a pile of recent income, deal with a board crisis (again), and start planning my week.

9:10 AM -- Natural peanut butter on raisin bread. Discover ants in my big canvas work bag. Ants? How did they get there? Appears they have discovered the only uncovered piece of food, a peach. Damn. I was looking forward to that. Toss peach.

9:20 AM -- Put a post up on the blog about the vacation, including the recent discovery that I actually have developed a muscle during all of this -- my heart. Not in a warm fuzzy way -- in a bpm target rate kind of way. Yeah...progress.

10:55 AM -- Remember how ticked I am at Pearl Izumi about their stupid runner/jogger ad and shoot off a note to, well, probably nobody. Makes me feel better, so I post about it. Turns out it ticks off others, too. Good to know I'm not (the only) crazy (one).

11:30 AM -- Obscenely large bag of carrots.

1:45 PM -- Turkey sandwich on wheat bread (toasted) with horseradish mustard. Lots of turkey because, well, I roll like that. Research new tires and tire mounting services on line. Turns out we made it home from Mass on a wing and a prayer -- my back left tire is so bare I can see the metal radial around the rim. I'm no mechanic, but that doesn't seem right.

2:00 PM -- Fulfill my addiction by signing up for local 5K on July 4th. Doing it with my 11 year old neighbor who is a peach. It's her first big "race" and we'll pull out the stops with signs and lots of cheering. $26 well spent.

2:01 PM -- Wait! $26? Email Active to tell them they missed giving me the member discount on the registration. Wonder if it's cheap to bother with $2 overcharges. Then realize that I want my two dollaaaaaaaaars!

3:00 PM -- Apple and handful of cherries. Decide I'm not coordinated enough to continue with the cherries and type/work at the same time without causing some Witches of Eastwick debacle. Put the cherries down for every one's sake.

4:00 PM -- Starting thinking about tonight's sessions and wonder why I didn't just get out of bed and hit the pool this morning. Call the bike shop to see if bike is ready. It is!! Yeah!!

5:00 PM -- Bolt from work and head to LBS to pick up Banana, with her fancy new cassette and chain. Spend some time gabbing with a fellow triathlete there about upcoming Philly Tri this weekend. He inquires after my races this year and I tell him. Feel like a stud. Leave with a big smile on my face, but $150 poorer.

6:00 PM -- Hit the YMCA for my swim. 2600 meters is a respectable start to the evening and didn't have to give any youngsters a black eye to keep my lane. Did watch a self-important jerk come in, complain about having to share a lane with the lifeguard, and then wait on a stool with -- I KID YOU NOT -- his girlfriend there to lend support. She was dressed in civvies and (i kid you not!) held his towel while he swam about 75 meters. He then decided to make a fuss about how sore his right shoulder was (!!!!) and departed soon after. Apparently I need a Cabana Boy for my next trip to the Y. Who knew?

7:02 PM -- Hurrily dry off and throw on clothes in the women's locker room. Wonder why all the ladies who are in the T/TH aqua-aerobics class always complain about everything. I mean everything. I suspect they are rather unhappy. Sigh.

7:15 PM -- Head home and chomp on a Balance bar in the car. Thanks to Jeremy, these are my new favorite snacks/treats/training excuses to eat a chocolate covered candy bar with caramel and not feel guilty.

7:18 PM -- Notice storm clouds hovering over D'town Holla in the distance. Wonder what the fate of my run will be.

7:19 PM -- Was that thunder?

7:30 PM -- Hugs and kisses with Mighty M. Hear about his day in the seriously crazy world of design (hey, I work in mental health and these guys are much crazier than my office!). Relay the story about the swimmer with an attendant. He's amply distracted by a big freelance project, but smiles at all the right times and calls me beebie. I'm simple like that.

7:45 PM -- Realize that it's about to rain and I should get my butt out there soon or I'll be soaked.

7:46 PM -- Wonder whether or not getting soaked is all that bad of an idea. It could be fun in this heat.

7:47 PM -- Begin search for a dark colored running shirt. No reason to make this run X-rated.

7:49 PM -- Wonder how one woman can have so many white running tops and so few dark ones.

7:58 PM -- Find my favorite new blue UA tee in the wash....the clean wash. But by the grace of God.

8:00 PM -- Tempo run here we come. And apparently the rain does, too. Lightening and thunder be damned. And life is good.

8:50 PM -- Return home soaking wet but happy. Life is good.

8:51 PM -- Realize that I completely biffed on dinner, aside from my Balance bar. Settle on a bowl of cereal to make sure I don't gnaw off my left hand in my sleep. Wonder whether Mighty M has resorted to chewing the furniture, but don't see any of the tale tell marks.

9:10 PM -- Make lunch for tomorrow so I won't gnaw my right hand off at work. Menu? PB sanny, yogurt drink, apple, large spinach salad with red pepper slices, shredded carrots, and almonds, and yet another obscenely large bag of carrots. I luvs me some lunch, let me tell ya.

9:25 PM -- Tell Mighty M all about my plans to do an open water swim (finally) this week and how the run was and how I'm getting my box of free samples from Hammer the next day and my excitement at getting Banana back...and then realize he left about a half hour ago to pick up something for the freelance job.

9:40 PM -- Make a game out of alternating between checking my email and Google Reader and standing in "my room" (previously known as the guest bedroom) staring at the mess of bottles, running clothes, bags of powders, heart rate monitors, gym bags, and generalized tri-crap on the bed. Do nothing to organize the mess in my room, but manage to stare at it a lot. Read some blogs, post some comments and send some emails.

10:00 PM -- Get me to bed. Day off tomorrow and a chance to get aero's adjusted on bike, so no need to pack a swim bag. A big bottle of water, a multivitamin, and a melatonin for sleep. Pretty face cream to stop me from looking fifty before I'm forty. And the tv remote.

Sometime after 10:20 PM -- Sleep, with Court TV or Bravo or something in the background. Probably snoring, although I can neither confirm nor deny this.

Btw, I have the coolest alarm clock. If you hit the snooze twice, it will snooze for 20 minutes. Four times? Forty minutes. Coolest damned alarm ever.


That was fun. What are your days like?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 82

Tuesday, Day 82

Evening: Swim, 2600 meters

WU: 300 low intensity, 8 x 25 kick (front, side, side, front), 8 x 25 drill (one arm, one arm, catch up drag)

MS: 6 x 100 moderate pace (1:58, 2:01, 2:00, 2:02, 1:59, 2:03) ri:10
5 x 200 at speed (4:03, 4:08, 4:10, 4:13, 4:12) ri: 40

CD: 300 low intensity

Thoughts: Fantabulous swim! My 100s were on track, although I would like to be able to sustain low 4s for longer in my 200s. Otherwise, it just felt wonderful to be in the water. Did a lot of concentrating on keeping my head down and reaching.

Evening: Run, tempo, 4.5 miles

0:10 moderate
0:30 tempo
0:10 moderate

Thoughts: Really pushed myself for the tempo set. A rain storm kept me cooled off and on my toes looking for darkened puddles and cracks. A good end to a solid day. Lovely. :)

Letter to Pearl Izumi

A little bit ago, Wes highlighted an ad that irked him from Pearl Izumi. I hadn't had a chance to see the ad yet, but I remember thinking that it must be pretty edgy to get under Wes' skin! :) Over the weekend, though, I brought my Runner's World mag with me as a special treat to read on vacation and finally saw the ad.

For those who haven't seen it yet, here is the text...

"We are not joggers. At Pearl Izumi, we don't jog. We run. And we think that matters. The thing is, running is endangered. You might find this hard to believe. After all, the number of entrants in your local 10k is surely on the rise, and every Saturday the park is packed with people prancing around in brand-new trainers, trying to nurture their chi or look good for their wedding or whatever. Unfortunately, a few if any of them are running. They're jogging, a half-hearted fore-aft movement of the legs that has about as much in common with running as bowling. And with all the jogging going on out there, runners are losing the soul of their sport. A sport that started with our ancestors running down dinner and remains to this day predatory at its core. Joggers are prey. Runners are hunters. If you belong to the latter group, revel in the fact that you sit firmly atop the bipedal locomotion foot chain. And run like an animal."

Well, now I understand Wes' state of irk! I felt it was necessary to share this runner's impression of their media message to the company, via email. I would imagine that I will receive the stock response, but I believe it's important to be an active consumer and this is a foolish and insulting campaign.


To whom it may concern,

I just wanted to express my distaste with your recent ad campaign, maligning joggers to the benefit of "runners."

You clearly have strayed from your consumer base. For the benefit of the humor you apparently saw in the comparison, you alienated the majority of Americans who benefit from the accessibility and affordability of running as a way to increase health and activity. You mock those who run for greater fitness, those who set personal goals and those who see collective running -- such as in a local race benefiting police or children's charities -- as a way of giving back to their community. You ignore the very important role that these individuals play in continuing to build the sport of running as not only an activity, but also as an industry -- an industry from which you directly benefit in product sales and brand promotion. It is this very group of individuals you mock -- who are preparing for weddings or staving off heart disease or diabetes -- that makes the sport of running a national movement towards greater health in an unhealthy nation and greater community involvement in an increasingly isolated body politic.

I am neither an elite runner, nor a fast one. I clog my local 5K and 10K races with my pesky entrance fees. I have personal fitness goals and see running as a way to achieve those goals. And I subscribe to Runner's World, where I saw your ad, as well as Inside Triathlon, Triathlete Magazine, Trail Runner, and Running Times. And I buy shoes and clothing. Lots of it. And I feel that your company, unfortunately, does not represent my needs as a consumer any longer.

And lastly, I don't jog. I run.




Now, take a second to check out Comm's recent post about what we do, because he clearly gets it!

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Seriously, I clearly had to get away.

Mighty M and I got back from vacation safe and sound, and rested. It was lots of fun, especially spending time with the nieces. I have pictures and antidotes to share about my travels, but I'll save that for later. For now, I have work issues to catch up on at the office.

On the training front, let's pull a Bold and do a Good, Bad, and Ugly version.

The Good

The excellent news was that I have now officially dropped my heart rate between 18 and 20 bpm on average!! Now that's something to celebrate. When I first got my Garmin at Christmas, my heart rate was stupid high -- but it was off season then. But my early season runs (April, May) usually had an average rate of mid- to high- 160s. (I know! My poor little ticker!) Buuuuut, my moderate run on Friday was an average of 147 bpm. So, my heart (if not my waistline) is feeling the positive effects of training!

The Bad

Okay, maybe not totally "bad," but not great. I was able to hold it together with some running and a bike session (stationary) over the vacation, which I was pleased about. Plymouth turned out to have some really great hills to train on, so my runs were strong. But, who actually trains properly on vacation? It's hard. For instance -- there was a health club nearby that had a lap pool I could use for $12 a day. But there was so little time to actually steal away and get the swim in without missing the next family activity. Maybe I could have been more disciplined. In fact, I'm sure I could have. But this was the first real vacation I've taken as an adult (I kid you not), so my runs and bike kept me satisfied.

The Ugly

Did you know that you can have an adverse reaction to Correctol? Um, neither. Until Sunday morning, that is, say around 6 am. Let's just say I have not been that violently ill since I had a bad stomach virus in middle school and my Dad spent two days swapping out cool washcloths for my face and emergency waste cans by my bedside. After a couple of hours it passed, but I was touch and go for a bit. Talk about an ugly awakening.

Here's the numbers:

Wednesday & Thursday, Days 88 & 87


Thoughts: Packing, last minute car issues, and a monster trip of over 8 hours driving wiped these away.

Friday, Day 86

AM: Run, 4.75 miles, moderate effort

Thoughts: Beautiful run! My heart rate was surprisingly low and the effort was great. Used an online route M's brother-in-law suggested and it was perfect. Had some hills in there for good measure and a stunning view.

PM: Run, 5.03 miles, hills

Thoughts: Snuck this one in while everyone was taking a rest after a loooong day of walking. Found a second tier of hills and did some repeats. Heart rate was a bit higher, but so was afternoon temperature, plus a long day of exercise. Very happy with run.

Saturday, Day 85

AM: Bike, 45 minutes, pre-set hill session

Thoughts: I. Hate. Stationary. Bikes. My legs were incredibly tired today, after a long day of walking and a couple of runs on Friday. It was not an enjoyable ride, but it was saddle time. I miss my Banana desperately. Sooo much.

Sunday & Monday, Days 84 & 83


Thoughts: Considering I was thinking I was hospital bound on Sunday morning, there's no complaint about not training then. Mighty M and I decided to head out late that night after dinner to return home -- with the hope of making the long trip a little more bearable without rush hour traffic. But we didn't get into home until after 3 AM, and Monday was every bit of recovery from the trip, the sickness, and the vacation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Days 91, 90 & 89

Tuesday, Day 89

PM: Swim, 2000 yards, 0:45

Set: 300 wu, 8 x 25 drill (catch-up, fist, weak side breathing w/pull x2), 8 x 25 kick (front/side/side/front), MS 10 x 100 ri: 10, 300 cd

Thoughts: My swim speeds are back down below the 2 minute mark and remaining relatively consistent. Last couple were slightly over 2 minutes, but I felt good about the set. For the first time, I incorporated bilateral breathing. I've avoided this in the past, since I never had much skill with it and felt good going long distances with a four stroke breathing pattern, but a three stroke pattern felt like I was wasting time breathing. But I
really enjoyed a five stroke bilateral pattern! Really. I felt more balanced and it was easier to stretch out longer. I guess all the bilateral w/pull drills have paid off!

PM: Run, tempo

Set: 3.1 miles, 35 minutes

Thoughts: Not too bad time-wise for me. I still am such a slow runner! Hopefully with a more concerted running approach for this coming week will help with that, but likely I'll always fall into the slowasmolassas category. Ah, well. At least I can bike well! :)

Monday, Day 90

No Training

Thoughts: Awaken at 4:00 am to banging on front door -- a neighbor alerting us to a flash flood on our street. Good morning! What a mess. The cars narrowly escaped being flooded on the inside, but a rude awakening. Failed to find the motivation to convert a bad morning into a training day, so I took the requisite MondayOff excuse.

I've encountered this malaise before in my training and it worries me. Some days I just don't have it in me. I just don't have the discipline to get out there and start the session. If anything is my downfall, this is it. It has dramatically improved over the last year and I've been able to rely on my own, internal, motivation to train when I "don't wanna," but I need to really apply more of this in the coming weeks. There simply isn't room to play at this. I have to keep reminding myself that this is an Iron distance. Perhaps my half iron in July will help put things into perspective. "Respect the distance" is advice a friend gave me once.

Sunday, Day 91

No Training

Thoughts: training time from today devoted to taking my bike in for an assessment, learning about chain suck, spending an hour attempting to properly attach new aerobars, realizing I'm an idiot and should never have removed the handlebar tape, and turning my attention (in frustration) to the laundry and watering the plants. Stellar training day, I know.

It's a proud day when...

...your bike mechanic looks at your bike, looks at you and -- impressed -- says, "Geeze, you sure use your big ring a lot."

And you smile back and think to yourself...boooyaaaahhhh.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Busy Bee, Banana in the hospital, and Bounding North

Busy as a bee over here! I've decided that it's a bit too ambitious to post daily (can you tell? I owe you like three posts already!), so I'm going to post periodically and at least weekly regarding training. The accountability will be there, just in bulk form.

This week in particular will be tres interesting, which is the extent of my French, even after too many years of study in high school and college. Anyway, two BIG challenges to training this week -- Banana and Plymouth.

First, Banana. My beloved bike. She went in to visit the great guys over at LoweRiders, my LBS, on Sunday to talk about the issues I've been having with the chain seizing up at the most inopportune in, when I'm going up super steep hills at blazing speeds like 4 mph.

Turns out there is an answer. I have chain suck. No, really, apparently that's a technical term. Without going completely into it, it seems that I've streeeeeeeetched out my chain with all these miles in the saddle and, as a result, it's not behaving properly when in my smallest chain ring.

Not only that, turns out that my cassette has been irrevocably bent out of joint during this process...slowly but surely. It "fits" the stretched chain, but needs to be replaced in order to accommodate a new chain.

And, frankly, this gives me a great deal of joy. Banana, bless her heart, has the original components on her -- Scimano Tiagra, to be exact. Yup, the group of components that are meant for "recreational use." Um...recreational use? Not exactly what I've been doing recently. Hmmm. Plus, these components (with the exception of the chain, which was replaced last year) have probably 5000 miles on them. I think we went beyond "recreational" a long time ago.

So, tonight I'm dropping her off to have a new Ultegra 12/25 cassette and chain put on. After the half iron race on July 1st, we're going to upgrade her chain rings as well, although I'm still debating whether I'll go for a two- or three-ring setup. I'm also going to upgrade the derailleurs, too. Because I love my bike. :)

Oh, yeah, and before I forget -- after MUCH wrangling and a horrible experience with an Ironman affiliated vendor, I finally received my new aerobars! I may or may not go into the tribulations that went on trying to get these. I sent a note to the owner/manager about my experience and am waiting for his reply. But, All3Sports came through for me perfectly and now I have my new bars! I'm in the process of getting them on the bike properly (the shims are not broad/thick enough to allow them to attach under the bar tape, so I'm going to re-tape the crossbar and try attaching them over the tape), but haven't tried them out yet.

So, this week's challenge, training without a bike. Does this mean I have to actually go back to a stationary bike??? Mis-er-able thought. Miserable!

Now for Bounding North. On Thursday, Mighty M's family has graciously invited me to travel with them up north to visit Plymouth Mass for a five day weekend. Wahoo! ROOOOOOAD TRIIIIIIIPP!!

Now, as a responsible little triathlete, I've already located the fitness club 2-miles away from the hotel, downloaded their pool schedule, and talked to their front desk about day passes. The sad part is that my bike training will suffer this week (which is a real bummer since I have a 100 mile ride next Sunday!), but the good news is that I will really be able to solidify my swim and run -- the run, in particular, which worries me come the half iron distance. Anyone run in Plymouth? I'd love to hear about good routes!

Okay, so time for some creative scheduling of sessions. I'm hoping that I can get at least one morning swim in each day and one late afternoon/evening run in each day. The latter will be hard, since I'm sure there will be dinners planned and other activities. Thankfully, M's family is exceedingly supportive of my training, so I don't think they'll mind if I slip out occasionally.

There you have it! Now, I'm back to getting through the bazillion things I have to complete before we take off. Goodness, this is a busy life! :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Day 94, 93 & 92

Because tasks and responsibilities have kept me from the computer, here is an update en mass. Enjoy!

Thursday, Day 94

Run: (am) 3.1 miles, 40 minutes

Thoughts: The pretty typical morning run, which is alright by me. Nice and sleazy. PM session was preempted by a late night at work, which was to be expected -- big event on Friday evening.

Friday, Day 93


Thoughts: Work took precedent today -- the typical m.o. when there is an event in order. Early in, late out and no personal time during the day. Good news? The event was a success. This time an Open House for my agency that was enjoyed and enjoyable.

Saturday, Day 92

Swim: 2000 meters, 40 minutes

Thoughts: Two sets of 1000. The task at hand was actually three sets, but developed an awful migraine and nausea during last 200. Stayed pretty unbearable for the next few hours, until a good dose of meds and a dark room did the trick. Siren, I thought of you this morning and can't imagine how these weeks have been for you. All I wanted to do was curl into a ball. Hang in there, sweetie! Great news is that I was able to keep my plans for Baby Jessica's birthday party and really enjoyed the time there with Mighty M's extended family.

Run: 8 miles, 1:30

Thoughts: Solid run. Went out with the intention of taking it a little slower than usual, since long session. Feet were sore, but I think that was due to my choice of shoes to scamper around in this afternoon. Another big day tomorrow should make up for the time off of training due to work and neighbors this week. No time for dawdling, especially with the Mountaineer on the horizon!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Mr. Geeeee
Happy birthday to you!

Proud papa to Mighty M, and adoring granddad to two beautiful nieces (the little nugget in the picture is Baby Jessica, who is turning 1 this Saturday!), Mr. G is celebrating his 29th birthday again today. I can't make his celebration tonight because of a Girls on the Run meeting (frown), so I figured a little blog recognition would be at hand. Mr. G has be sooo very supportive of all of my crazy antics, including my IM training -- he deserves a post all his own!

Happy Birthday,
Mr. G!

95 Days

Wednesday, Day 95

Run: 40 minutes, 3.1 miles

Thoughts: Morning runs always start out really tight and awkward, but after a 1/2 mile or so, I loosened up and hit a better stride. I'm a little concerned about my run, so I'm going to do a pattern of 3 miles, 5 miles, 3 miles, 10 miles this week and 3-6-4-12 for next week. The bike is solid for the half in July (especially since they apparently made the course FLATTER, which is a HUGE bummer!), but the run concerns me since the time off from my calf injury. Thursday has a pool session and run on deck, which is perfect. Now, if only I had clean running clothes... .

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

96 Days

Tuesday, Day 96

Training: None, Zero, Zip, Zilch

Thoughts: Things just weren't on my side today! First, I forgot my skivvies and had to skip my morning swim to come home, leaving no time for a plan B.

Then, turns out that the drama with these local boys came to a head yesterday. The moment I pulled into the driveway -- with t-minus exactly 53 minutes to change and get my butt out for a run before dinner plans arrived -- I realized it just wasn't going to happen. There was a crisis with our neighbor's that I needed to go over with her and she was positioned directly between me and my run. By the time I turned the key in the lock, it was 9 minutes until Dad was to arrive and I'm still in work clothes.

Just. Not. Winning. Today.

But, Wednesday morning has an open slot where the run can go and I'll have to find time to make up the swim if possible. If this is tri-life imitating art, then it's
Pollock at his best!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That feeling

You know that feeling?

The one you get when you've dragged yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour in the morning, somehow convincing yourself that your AM swim session is paramount, because it means you can get your PM hour run in before Dad comes to the house for dinner, allowing you to stay on schedule...and you've slurped down your pre-swim yogurt drink, even though it's kind of the last thing that sounds tempting to your palate just about now...and you've made it to the YMCA and avoided all those tempting shoulders on the side of the road where you're more than willing to pull over and just catch a few zzz's...and you're unpacking your well organized bag with folded work clothes and mini shampoos and your spare hair brush...and you realize...

...that you've forgotten your skivvies.


...and must return home...

...and bag your plans for staying on schedule just this once, but for your own personal decency...

Yeah, you know that feeling. Couldn't bottle it if you tried.


Monday, June 04, 2007

97 Days

Monday, Day 97

Bike: 21.13 miles

Time: 1:28

Avg: 14.8 mph

Route: Rt. 322/Honeybrook

Weather: 78* and slightly overcast -- very pleasant

Thoughts: There's something special about passing Amish buggies being driven by girls wearing bonnets when the air is thick with honeysuckle. It wasn't as fast of a ride as I'd hoped, but I continue to get stronger on these hills. Sometimes I bemoan the fact that I can't seem to find a route WITHOUT hills -- making speed intervals possible, or anything
other than hill training possible -- but it is always nice to see my ability to manage them improve.

Technical: I'm having some concerns about my cassette and chain rings. It seized up on this weekend's ride, requiring me to perform some roadside maintenance. Tonight it was crunching through the gears again. Time to stop in at Andy's to get some insight.

98 Days

Sunday, Day 98


Thoughts: Well, my primary thought is major disappointment. Usually Sundays are off for me, but this one was my first big open water swim (Nav-E-Sink in Rumson, NJ). I have the wetsuit now, and it was perfect timing to test my swimming. I looked forward to it all week.

Instead, two neighborhood teenagers -- who have been trouble in the past and will likely be locked up in the near future -- decided to rip up all the new plantings Mighty M and I made last weekend. Not only did they rip them up, they used the plants as projectiles against the house. At 2:00 AM.

Normally, I have an extreme amount of patience, especially with kids, especially those who lack the tools they need, like proper supervision and discipline. But, without going completely into it, these kids are sprinting down a bad path and sincerely enjoy the problems they cause. For example, after making the huge mess, they decided to stick around and see what we did about it -- lounging under a streetlamp for kicks and giggles. By the time we confronted them (twice), woke up the next door neighbor teen (their friend and often the co-conspirator), and decided to not call the cops, I couldn't go back to sleep. Sandman didn't come until about 5 am, making an open water swim on less than two hours sleep a bad idea.

So, that's a long explaination for a "day off," but I am thoroughly disappointed. I still have a brand new -- dry -- wetsuit and no idea how 1.2 or 2.4 miles feels in open water. Let's just cross our fingers that it doesn't feel too unexpected come July 1st!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

99 Days

Today on my ride, I made a decision.

Alright, I actually made many decisions -- some as simple as when to stop to hydrate my sweaty head, and some a little more complex. Thankfully, I have evolved.

So, today is rather memorable, or at least it will be upon looking back. Ninety-nine days left until THE day. That's pretty powerful, even without hyping it up.

Ninety-nine days.

Wow. Lots to do and lots done. Many miles left to literally travel and many milestones hit and memorialized.

How very fun.

I celebrated the day with a 45 mile, exceedingly hot and sweaty, but also surprisingly strong ride through southern PA and northern DE. It was intended to be 75 miles, but I was in a race with the sun and knew who was going to win. So, 45 miles it was.

Oh, my decision. Yes, right.

You may have noticed that a few weeks back I pulled my Training Peaks link from the sidebar. It was mainly because I was being a little less than rigid with entering all my sessions and it was time for something a bit more -- how you say -- inmyface. Currently, there is a 2' x 3' foam board in my living room (yes, Mighty M is very patient) that tracks my training. I don't know why I needed to see it like this, in permanent marker and all gridded out, but I did. And it gives me what I need now. Private responsibility with a dash of pen and ink panic.

An excellent tool.

But, there's also the public portion of this and I really believe that I do my best when I balance both. Never too much of either, never one without the other. So, I thought it might be fun to post each day -- all 99 of them -- my training activities. I don't promise anything special, but I've always enjoyed seeing what others are doing and following along. Maybe some who visit will feel the same about my journey.

Now, don't expect great prose and insight each day. I just don't have all that much insightful to say. But it'll be my little exercise in sharing. Like "what I did this summer" type-o sharing.

And, without further adieu,

Saturday, Day 99

Bike: 45 miles, 3:30 hours

Route: WC to Greenville DE to Kennett Square to Chadds Ford to WC

Conditions: Hot (91*F, 75% plus humidity) and sticky

Thoughts: Plan was to do better with managing my hydration under these conditions than last weekend, when I bonked at mile 20 and hurt the whole way home. Did significantly better this time -- approx 60 oz fluid per 90 minutes. Much better at managing effort, especially not going out too hot.