Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Off-Season Progress

I'm sitting in the airport at St Louis with still another hour before my flight leaves (I've already been waiting 2) and figured I should use the time to update my blog since the last half hour was spent reading everyone elses' more diligently posted and colorful entries.  I really need to take more pictures.  Maybe my new Mac will inspire me.

Even though it is the off season, I have been making progress on some of my off season goals.  Priority number one is to get healthy again.  I saw Dr. Dec again this past Monday.  She is happy with my progress in PT and has officially released me to do 15 minutes of running, outside, on flat surfaces only sandwiched between walk sessions, a few times a week.  She also didn't scold me too badly for trying to run a few times for a limited number of minutes before I was officially released.  I still have 6 more sessions of PT to attend and then, if I feel good, I am released to my own plan and don't even have to come back in to see her.  So, even though PT has seemed slow and a little unstructured for my taste, I plan to stick with it and hopefully be back on the roads in January.

My post Ironman lbs are also slowly coming off and I'm continuing to reshape my body.  The pounds aren't falling off as fast as they do for those Biggest Loser contestants, but I have managed to lose 6 since October and my suits are baggy again.  My biggest challenge is still the glass or two of wine, particularly in the holiday season.  I know it is unrealistic to cut it out completely with the holiday party circuit starting in earnest, but I've at least vowed to cut all non-party wine.  For some reason, which Tina explains much better than I ever could, my body metabolizes wine like fat and I can't lose or get leaner while drinking wine.  So, the plan is to maintain or maybe even drop a pound or two more between now and the New Year and then come January, its time for some real focus and hopefully those last 9 lbs will disappear.  I wish Subway would pay me $1000 for every lb I would lose.

As for the bike, I'm spending lots of time with it and my new power meter.  I still haven't quite figured out training with it.  The first few rides, my HR zones and power meter zones didn't match up well so we've had to do a bit of adjusting.  And, unfortunately, or fortunately, my power zones have gone up which only means I have to work out harder.  Right when I was starting to get the hang of it, my Quark started acting a little crazy and sending out numbers that the pros generate.  While I would love to generate those numbers, they are no where in my repetoire and so it is back at the manufacturer this week getting a tune up.  This month's progression on the bike has had lots of threshold intervals  -- no fun, but hopefully they'll help me build some more speed for next Spring.

Finally tennis. . . I've been really enjoying spending a little time on the courts during this off season.  I pretty much stopped playing this summer while training for the Ironman for fear I'd injure myself.  Now that the off-season is here, and mixed doubles season starts in January, it was time for me to get back out there.  Bart and my ratings both got bumped up this year so we'll be playing on a higher level team this winter.  This means we both need to find our A games if we are to have any chance to win.  Bart's A game is at least close by.  Mine will take some work to find.  Thankfully all of the work with triathlon training has made me faster on the court and more aware of my surroundings.  So if I can get some timing back and learn a few new skills, I might be okay. The last few Monday night's I've skipped my cycling and instead opted for an intense set of drills and clinic with 3 other gals.  The change of pace has been great and I've realized I missed the sport.

Will have to get on the Christmas wagon this week and finish up some shopping.  That is, unless I decide to head to Philly on Friday to watch the Tribe play their nemisis Villanova in the semis of the FCS playoffs.  GO TRIBE!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Even more about THE BIKE

When I posted Sunday about the Bike, I didn't realize how much "the Bike" would be the focus of my off season.  Then came Monday and my visit to Dr. Dec.

Since April, I've been struggling with hip pain and before that plantar fasciatis. Dr. Herring and Dr. Green got me through training and to be honest, both felt pretty good come time for Ironman.  I fully expected the tweaks of pain to go away completely in my rest weeks.  But they haven't.  And, in fact, my left side has become more plagued than it was before.

So I made my appointment and kept my fingers crossed that she would have my magic cure.  Maybe not a magic cure, but she does have a plan.  Unfortunately, I don't like it.  It seems my right weak side and my rather immobile left foot have lead to huge kinetic issues on my left side  -- my left hip, my left foot and a bunch of places in between.  So until I fix those issues with PT, I'm on "no run" orders.  I can cycle all I want, swim, strength train, run in the pool, do the elliptal but no running. 

It stinks, makes me anxious and I don't like it at all, but at the same time, I want to start January feeling like a million bucks.  Strong, injury free and ready to put in a hard season without getting sidelined.  So, I'm trying to keep an open mind.  I'll listen and put my efforts into getting better and riding faster.  I've got a fun new mountain bike to ride and a new road frame on the way so its a great time to be all about the bike.  Anyone up for a ride?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Detox Diet and "The Bike"

This week has been busy.  Winter workouts started at EF and its been so much fun to train with friends again.  Somehow planks and time on the trainer seem to go a little faster when there are friends to groan with you and hear your sore muscle complaints the next day. 

My focus this week has been on two things -- detoxing my diet and the bike.  As for the detox, I have now been 8 days without alcohol and 7 days without candy and 7 days back on my "diet."   I think the first few days were the worst although Friday brought some serious candy cravings and Saturday night out at friends without any vino was challenging.  But, I am seeing some success and that is keeping me going.  So far, my weight is getting close to IM weight again and my stomach is feeling great.  Not sure if it is the detox itself or the addition of my shakes made with UltraInflmx back in my daily routine.

The weather this weekend has been perfect.  Sunny skies, great temperatures.  Perfect for being outdoors.  Saturday morning SanDee, Kate, DB and I went for a long ride out onto the rural roads of Goochland and Rockville.  Nothing too crazy and a great fall ride.

After our ride, I headed to 3 Sports to pick up ... "The Bike."  Much to my chagrin, when we went into pick it up and handed Ben my normal, regular old pedals, he exclaimed, "No way.  I'm not putting those on this bike.  Where are your clipless pedals?"  "At home,"  I meekly replied.  "Well you need to put them on your bike.  I'm taking this pair."   So. . . after jokes about life insurance, I walked out of the shop with my beautiful new Titus and even more scared about my MTB escapades that were scheduled for Sunday.   Bart "kindly" put my new pedals on my bike when we got home and my cleats on my new yet to be worn MTB shoes and I headed off ot the pool for a swim and tried to put them out of my mind.

This morning, we put my bike on the trainer and I practiced clipping in and out of my new pedals.  They feel tighter than my road pedals and I'm definitely not as skilled at getting in or out of them.  After about 10 minutes of in and out, I figured I probably will go down at somepoint.  So, it might as well be my first day.  Bart and I met Shelley and Karen at Pocohontas for the ride.  After a tour of the parking lots so I could practice my pedals and we go use the bathrooms one last time, we headed out for the easy singletrack.  Shelly hung back during the beginning and game me my first lesson in handling -- stand with your pedals even when you aren't pedalling.  Easier said than done for a non-stander like me but it definitely made sense.  Karen rode lead so that I could see someone's lines and Shelly followed with advice.  Standing definitely felt wierd - particularly going down hill which I already dislike anyway -- but I did okay and my first topple over was a pretty soft fall.  Then we came to the creek.  At the creek, the trail winds down a fairly big right turn, over a narrow bridge and then up a fairly sharp climb.   The last time Bart and I rode and we came to the creek, I got off, walked my bike across the bride and up the hill and remounted.  This time I intended to do the same thing.  But my teachers had other things in mind.  My refusals fell onto deaf ears and soon I was on my bike with Shelly in front holding me back and she and Karen guiding me slowly down towards the creek.  At the bottom I pedaled hard up the other side, and ... ooops, over Karen's wheel before I went down.   Once on the other side, they made me do it again.  They tried for a third, but I drew the line and just kept riding, after I denounced them as friends.

After my hands stopped shaking and my breathing leveled, the rest of the ride was less dramatic.  I felt a little steadier as the ride continued but still not at ease.  After one loop, and no injuries, we headed back to the cars.  I love my new moutain bike and despite the fear am having fun pushing myself so far outside of my comfort zone.  Next week, we have a plan to meet again.  They tell me we'll ride longer and on a little harder trails which is intimidating but at the same time, I can't wait.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Feeling a little inspired by the giving spirit of pro Bree Wee and since this is the month of Thanksgiving, the theme for this month for me is giving.

First, the real giving. I've declared war on my closets and drawers. Its time to clean house and give to those who need it more than I the loads of extras in my closets and drawers that I really don't need or wear. Last weekend, I tackled half of my closet and one trunk of sweaters. This weekend, I made it through 5 drawers and the weekend isn't over yet. Already I have stacks of clothes set out to give. Not only does it feel good to clean house, I'm hoping it helps some others.

Second, a different kind of giving. Yep, giving two of my favorite things up . . . one for at least the next two weeks, and the other, for the month. Weight loss for me is one of the hardest parts of my training regimen. Even when I am 100% disciplined, it just doesn't come easy. One of my goals for the off season has been to lose 14 lbs. For the last month, I've "tried" unsuccessfully. There have been a lot of social events over the past month -- Bart's bday, my reunion -- so my discipline has wavered, and, in particular over the weekend. After last week at Tina's, it was clear. If I really want to do this, I need to give up two things - wine and processed sugars in things like candy. Today is day 2 on the wine and day 1 on the candy. Last night, on Halloween I stocked up with at least 4 mini candy bars. Oops! So, training partners. Keep me honest.

Post rain run photo . . .

Winter training classes at EF officially started today. After a run in the rain, Bart and I went to UR for a Sunday swim with team EF. EF has added a new swim coach, Rob, who has coached newbies, Division 1 and some serious swimmers. Am hoping that he, along with Coach K, can get my swim to the next level over the winter. Swim was fun . . . some new drills, and I even survived being in the same lane as Barracuda Bart without being lapped. Good thing we did short intervals today :)

Tired out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Masters last night after a nearly two month layoff from the pool was tough. In fact, it down right sucked, particularly the IM part. I felt inefficient, like a rock and laughed when my arms on my last set of fly barely flew over the surface of the water.

Our workout:
300 warmup (50 fr, 25 7k switch)
300 (fr, back, free, br)
2 x 50 build
Main set
6 x 300
0 fly, fr, bk, fr, br, fr x 2
e 3 X 100 r:5

I didn't worry about intervals, just getting the job done.

At the end of my 2500 meters, I was glad I went. Arms of rubber and wiped of energy, but still smiling.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting Back on Plan

This week really deserved a few updates . . . but by evening's end, I've chosen some Kona week catch up and of course, some much needed zzzs.

Monday, I started back "on plan." I was ready. Despite my occasional runs, rides and swims since IMLP, I didn't do a very good job keeping consistent or, for that matter, in tip top shape. And, without Coach checking in, it was often easy to sleep in or skip a workout. I definitely needed the break, mentally and physically, but now I'm ready to jump back in.

Kona week was perfect inspiration to get my groove back on. I'll admit it; I was a Kona week junkie. Every morning, I logged back onto to listen to the daily podcast and read the newly posted human interest stories. I read each of my favorite pro blogs with eagerness to see what Ironman week activities they had on their schedule.

My own schedule this week included a trainer ride, a scorching bike ride on Wednesday after work with some Guppies where I held on to Bart and Travis' wheels for dear life in the hope I wouldn't cause them to fall too far off the lead pack, a run with Parker, a run on my own with a little time barefoot in the grass, weights, a run in my old haunt with Deanna and SanDee and a reevaluation with Dr. Green. Despite my slack schedule post ironman and the minimal miles on the road, my hip and right foot are still not 100%. I learned I need some orthotics and above all, I learned I need to NOT SKIP MY WEIGHT TRAINING. It appears I have very tiny lateral stability muscles and so my hip collapses when I run causing my issues. So starting next week, I'll have 3 days of weight training aimed at strengthening those muscles and my core. And, I am not allowed to follow my usual m.o. and get in my cardio but not my weights.

The highlight of the week was a metric century in Salisbury, MD, the Seagull Century. On Friday late afternoon, SanDee, Deanna and I loaded up SanDee's car with our bikes and gear and headed up the eastern shore to Salisbury, MD. We hit lots of traffic so we stopped at Cape Charles for dinner. We discovered a charming little town and a great restaurant, Aqua. After another hour on the road, we arrived at our accommodations for the evening, the EconoLodge in Princess Anne. Definitely not luxury, but it worked for the evening and we all got some good zzzs. The weather didn't cooperate with our plans and we woke on Saturday morning to dark skies and a prediction of rain. The prediction turned into a downpour right as we were parking near the start. We almost bagged completely, but decided to grab some coffee and wait out the rain. It stopped and so we pulled our bikes out and headed to the start line. The ride was great! Well marked, flat, extremely well supported, great rest stops and best of all, fun riding partners. We took it easy the first 20 miles, hammered the next 20 and then gave the strong headwinds a fight for the last 22. At the finish, we were all glad we had decided to ride and planned to put it on our "to do" list again.

I got back Saturday night just in time to watch Chrissie Wellington beat Paula Newby-Fraser's record at Kona. She is truly amazing. I loved watching the emotion just pour out of her at the finish line. You can tell she loves what she does. I also got to see our local Richmond 3Sports fast guy Adam Otstot cross under 9:30. Technology is awesome!

So I end my week headed back on track with workouts and adding a trip to Kona during race week to my bucket list. Bart better get busy training ;)

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

The first song on my two favorite running mixes is Beautiful Day. Needless to say, I was psyched when Kate O invited Bart and I to join she and Joe for U2. And last night, U2 did not disappoint. The concert was incredible . . . a great mix of old favorites and great arrangements of new stuff that quite honestly I hadn't followed too closely (but will be adding to my ipod). The icing on the cupcakes so to speak was the awesome company of friends outside of our usual training mode, a limo ride and of course, Kate's infamous cupcakes.

Our limo awaits. . . Joe, thankfully, didn't have to chauffeur.


Tyler's chillin pre-concert

Greg, Kendall and Brooke

And, I leave you with the playlist from last night just in case you want to hear it all again. . .

Get On Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day / The Hands That Built America (snippet)
No Line On The Horizon
Your Blue Room
New Year's Day
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On

One / Amazing Grace (snippet)
Where The Streets Have No Name
Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hello Again

Yes, I have still not posted my Placid Race report. I did finish. And, I'm not sure why, but I just can't get motivated to put the amazing experience of that race week down on paper. Certain moments of that week are still so fresh in my mind and heart, others have gotten a little fuzzy. I know I'll want to look back on it when I do the next one. . . so its on my to do list. I promise.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying getting a little, okay a lot more balance back in my life. I've biked, a little, run a little and swum, very little. I've had some great relaxing weekends to sleep in and lots of time with our furkids, Lulu and Maverick. And, the icing on the cake? Bart and I traveled to Italy for two weeks and cycled up and down the hills and switchbacks of Tuscany.

So now its back to making up for lost hours at the office earlier this year, getting my workout routine back on track and focusing on nutrition (oh and losing my post IM lbs plus a few more).

Just a short post tonight, but wanted to say hello.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Getting Close

Yesterday I met with my coach to review my race plan and discuss race logistics and my nutritionist to talk food strategy for the final 10 days. Both tell me my body is more than ready for IMLP. Over the next week and a half its time for me to work on that last component - my mind. Its time for me to BELIEVE and to really remember why I've put in all of these months of hard training. Its time for me to want it! Coach Michael gave me my mantra for race day. Climb Confidently and Descend Bravely. Those are the words I will repeat in my head over and over again on the IMLP bike course.

So. . . over the next week and a half, I'm going to try and post things that inspire me.

Last night, I got a card in the mail from a colleague of mine who also happens to be a kick ass runner and athlete. Here is what it said:

"There is nothing in this world so STRONG as your belief in yourself."

Time to believe.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Germany Part 2

Its the end of day 3 here in Germany and the trip has steadily improved day by day. Yesterday (Monday) was a lighter workout and work day. I did strength training in my unairconditioned room to start the day (thank heavens the mornings have been in the low 60s) and started work at a leisurely 9:30 am. Work went smoothly and my presentation to a large group of company employees, while relatively unrehearsed, went well. However, if I plan to return here often, I need to at least learn some basic German. The meetings got less interesting when everyone switched back to German.

Dinner last night was local in Fellbach. Our meals were relatively simple, but very good . . . other than my taste of my hosts' appetizer - a small bite of very thinly sliced ox tongue that I was dared to try. It looked a lot like proscuitto, but definitely didn't taste anywhere as good. On a positive note, I love how the Europeans seem to cook with the seasons - my salad was made of the freshest vegetables and dessert was amazing berries with homemade rasberry ice cream. After a post dinner glass of wine while we waited for the rain storm to pass, I was ready to call it a night.

At 1 am, my body decided it would rather be on east coast time and I was wide awake for the next hour an a half. When my alarm went off the last thing I wanted to do was get up and put in a hard run. But I did. And it was hard. My US legs still haven't arrived. My workout was 2 twenty minute threshold repeats with a warm up, warm down and a 5 minute rest between repeats. I ran in the vineyards near the hotel -- beautiful scenery but also some hills. My legs weren't happy with me for the first set but by the second set, I was feeling good and ended the run strong.

After a long 11 hour day at work, we were treated to an amazing dinner tonight at Dal Sardo's in Ludwigsburg. If you ever visit Ludwigsburg, you must put this restaurant on your list. I let our host pick my menu and I can't tell you how happy I was to hear that this Italian restaurant in Germany made its own homemade gluten free pasta. It was to die for! We started with seasonal mushrooms sauteed in olive oil. Our next course was black truffles shaved over pasta tossed with olive oil and for the main course, a white flaky fish that was baked whole encrusted in salt and then fileted at the table much like a dover sole. It was surprisingly moist and not salty at all. To top it off we had homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh berries for dessert and wonderful wines throughout dinner. Definitely a dinner at the top of my best ever list.

So far its been a productive yet fun trip but I miss home and Bart, Lulu and Maverick. A couple more days and then I'm back in the states (and air conditioning)! Hope everyone's taper is starting to feel good.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Germany and Training Update

This past week I didn't fare so well with my training. Perhaps it was some burnout after my really great 23 miler the Wednesday before (which I think was a PR 23 miles for me even though a training run) or perhaps a bit of the stomach bug or food issues I dealt with last week, but I certainly didn't do so well sticking to the plan.

So I missed a long swim, a short easy bike and as of today, part of a long run. This isn't customary for me so I shouldn't stress about it but still I feel anxious. I am still not confident about that darn bike. Its no longer about the descents -- I think I've made my peace as best as I can -- but more about just how darn long it takes me to climb.

And now, I'm in Germany for business for the week. Travel for me isn't always easy when trying to stick to the plan. First, I have the food issues. Since I don't speak German and am pretty hungry due to training, finding safe gluten free food is a challenge and I don't always succeed. Second, my body clock is all messed up. I don't sleep well on the plane and I had a meeting once I landed so my total sleep for last night plus a nap was probably around 4 or 4 1/2 hours. On tap for today, my 18 miler from earlier in the week that I couldn't do because I felt bad. Clearly that wasn't going to happen. But I had to at least do something. So after a brief 1 hour nap, I headed to lunch with my colleague to refuel. I should have just eaten a bar in the room because my gluten free meal was not and I left lunch with a bloated and painful tummy.

After about 45 minutes in the room (where I did get a little inspiration from the Tour and the European Ironman championships in Frankfurt), I headed out for a run. My legs felt like lead and I clearly was suffering from jet lag/gluten issues. Despite the huge torrential rain in the midle of the run, I was able to struggle through 7ish miles before calling it quits for the day.

Dinner was more successful I think in the GF department and after I finish this, its off to bed for me. I'm beat.

So here's hoping my plan goes a little more smoothly this week and that I find something to eat (other than my GF bars that I smuggled in) to survive on for the rest of the time I'm here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An Ode to Jill

Today is my dear friend Jill's 40th bday party and alas, I am instead sitting in the Delta Club in Atlanta waiting to fly to Germany for business. What a way to celebrate the 4th.

But Jill. . . since you are a faithful blog follower, I thought I'd post and ode, well not really - I don't possess your eloquent writing skills - but just a shout out to you in honor of your birthday.

You are truly a fabulous friend and I credit you in part with getting me into this crazy yet fun lifestyle. I recall our early lawyering days when you were training for your first marathon. Your enthusiasm for the sport was contagious and I'll never forget your essay about your first marathon. So it was easy to sign on for my first and stick with it. Maybe now I can convince you to do a tri?

Your zest for a full life, fun, family and health always make me smile. Whether we are exchanging nutrition tips or meeting for lunch at the "beach" to take a break from our sometimes too serious work days or catching up on the latest, you always bring some sunshine. I know you have an open ear and will help me sort through things. Your friendship is certainly one I treasure.

So cheers to you today Jill. You are a fabulous forty! And here is my official raincheck for a post ironman - 40th bday big celebration.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crabtree Part 2

Friday night, Bart, Tyler, Lulu and I headed up to Wintergreen after work to grab some good zzzs in the mountain air and ride Crabtree and the Blue Ridge on Saturday. We rented the same mountain house we rented several times last summer. I just love it. From the moment we arrive, my body relaxes and I just feel "at home." We cooked up a big GF pasta dinner, took Lulu for an evening walk, and mixed up all of our liquids for the next day.

Bart and I originally had 120 miles on our schedule, but 120 miles in the mountains is just not doable from my perspective. So, instead, we decided to avenge the Crabtree loop and then add miles on the end of the ride on the Blue Ridge until we reached about 6 hours ride time. I actually was looking forward to the ride. My first time up Crabtree was such a shock and on tired legs and I was sure it was going to be MUCH easier the second time.

We woke to cloudy skies, predicted thunderstorms and windy conditions. Our seat to saddle time was pushed back later than we had planned, partially due to my sleepy eyes in the morning and partially due to our stupidity of leaving our bike helmets and shoes inside the front door rather than with us in the car when we arrived to start our ride at Reed's Gap. So after another trip up and down the resort, we finally started at 9 am.

Bart and Tyler planned to circle back a few times on the ride to make sure I was alive. Bart stuck with me as I cautiously descended Reed's Gap for the second time ever, this time in the wind. After we hit the resort, I gave him the go ahead to bomb down the rest of the way and I worked on my own descending skills. I rode my road bike this time, and there is no doubt about the fact that it definitely handles much better than my time trial bike.

At the Ski Barn, we were off on our loop and soon arrived at the first killer climb of the day. As I still worked super hard to climb the first hill (which has segments of 8% grade), I realized my ride was still going to be tough day in the saddle. I caught up with Bart and Tyler at the church right before the turn on Jonsboro where Tyler was fixing a flat. The next section, pre-Crabtree went pretty well, not super speedy, but I kept a good pace and just kept it steady through this relatively flat section. Right before the climb started Bart and I met up and exchanged water bottles (my road bike only carries 2) so I was ready to go. The first part of Crabtree is doable. It has some tough sections but also relief to give you hope. And then the fun begins. By the time you reach the sign that says that the store is in 5 miles, those miles click off VERY slowly. My legs were clearly not much better this go round and this time, my heart rate was sky rocketing and I was drenched with sweat. I kept reminding myself that I had ridden this before and that I could clearly do it again, but I wasn't so convincing. I stopped a time or two to catch my breath and each time I did so, my body just shook from the effort. And, I still didn't make it to the store without a short walk of my bike. I had really hoped to not walk a step this time, but I reached a point where it was walk or fall over. I chose walk.

Bart had a much better climbing day and he circled back a few times to check on me before we hit the store. At the store, I was spent. This climb for me is just not fun or enjoyable. Its tough on me mentally and physically and I just feel like it zaps whatever good training vibes I may bring into the day.

We refilled our liquids, ate a banana and some juice and headed back up to the Blue Ridge. Right away after leaving the store, you hit a short really steep section. I grinded my way up and refused to let myself stop during this stretch no matter how tough it got. Soon, I was at the BR and this time, there was no walking. At least a small achievement.

The BR was again like seeing mecca. It still is tough, but the climbs are more gradual. I think I'm getting more used to the descents as well. Once on the BR, there are a few uphills, including DB's favorite uphill in the sun, but a lot of downhill en route to Reed's Gap. This stretch went by fairly quickly and soon loop 1 was done. At the car, Tyler met up with us and then headed back to the house via Wintergreen mountain. After some serious debate, Bart and I headed back out onto the Blue Ridge. It was already getting late in the day and I was tired and wasn't having fun on my ride. But, I knew I'd feel guilty for not riding more so we set off. We climbed from Reed's Gap back towards 0 until we hit the part where you descend for miles. At that point, the winds had picked up and storm clouds lingered very close by threatening to let loose at any moment. We decided to turn around and head back and call it a day. Bart went ahead. . . he had one last piece of business for the day. Wintergreen Mountain.

I am not that brave yet, so I packed my bike up and headed up the mountain to sag for Bart if he needed it. He didn't. I stopped a few times on my way up and gave out encouraging words. He looked great climbing the mountain - strong and determined. I was totally proud - Crabtree and Wintergreen on the same day is impressive in my book. When I got back, Lulu joined me for my short transition run on top of the mountain.

We got a few minutes to relax and enjoy the mountain and then headed back home for a dinner party. In some ways, I'm a little disappointed with the fact that our ride was cut short. Once I got going again on the BR, I knew I had more time left in my legs, but in reality, we didn't have much more time left before we needed to leave to head back for dinner. In other ways, the shorter ride hopefully gave my legs a little more life for my long run tomorrow and they certainly still got a tough climbing workout.

For now, I'm done with Crabtree. I can climb it, but it still drains me. . . mentally and physically. And, right now, its just not a fun ride for me. So, on the 3rd, when we return to the mountain, its just the BR and me. For one last century ride.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Good Track Night

I am still working on my weekend report but decided instead to post about track tonight. I wasn't too pumped about going so I asked Coach Michael to join me for some extra support (and motivation). It worked! Some how my tired legs found a new rhythm tonight below 8 minute pace. Maybe it was Michael yelling encouraging words at me or perhaps just a little extra determination. But I ran 6 800s all below 8 minute pace which is HUGE for me. The last 3 splits were the fastest of the night - 7:50 pace; 7:48 pace and 7:48 pace. Yippeee!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Tortoise and ...the Bear


Last weekend was all about pushing the distances and getting comfortable with the fact that yes, I can complete the distance.

I was supposed to do my long run on Friday to give my legs one day off to rest before the long bike, but unfortunately work doesn't always cooperate with my training plan and I had two legal briefs that needed to be finalized and filed on Friday. That meant no morning run unless I wanted to get up and start around 4:30 am, and, I didn't. So I mistakenly thought I'd try the run post work. Nope, that didn't work either. By the time my day ended, I was beat, not mentally ready to tackle my longest distance other than a previous marathon itself and dreading the heat. So, Bart (who had just returned from the West Coast) and I decided dinner at Kona Grill was more appropriate. Their GF salmon, roasted vegetable salad and amazing cocktail were well worth it. Plus it gave Bart and I some time to dream about relocating to Hawaii or the West Coast.

Saturday morning's run was long and tough. We ran at West Creek out of convenience and started early. I did two 10 mile loops and then a little extra to finish. Mentally, I'm not great at loops because when I come back to the car, I want to be done, not just headed out again. The first loop felt hot, but my legs felt pretty good. Thankfully the sun wasn't blazing so temperatures weren't as hot as they could have potentially been. I made the loop with my four fuel belt bottles and a 1/2 gu every 2 miles. By the second loop, I was getting thirstier and I could definitely feel the miles on my right foot. I decided that I had enough liquids to go the Cap One loop and headed off. After crossing through the gates, I realized it might not have been a smart move. I don't always estimate my liquids well and I started to feel whoozy and get chill bumps right at mile 16. I stopped a cyclist and asked for salt tabs, but she didn't have any. At this point, I didn't want to turn back but wanted to just finish the loop. So I drank everything I had on me and prayed that the bathrooms by the tennis courts would be open. After some walk/run time to get there, they were. I downed a bunch more water, refilled my bottles and dumped a bunch over my head. It seemed to work, and I was able to run back up to the car for mile 20. At that point, I was feeling the joy of being almost done. I reloaded, picked some good tunes, and headed out to power out the last mile. Post run, per coach's orders, I headed straight to the ice bath to ice down my foot and hip. After getting out of the tub, the hare (Bart) pointed out my mascot (the tortoise) in the front yard. I laughed! He must have stopped by to pay homage to my long run of the day. While I'm getting faster, my long runs are still pretty slow. Considering the dehydration incident though, I was pretty pleased to come in averaging 10:30 pace for the run. If I can hang somewhere even close to that on race day, I'll be thrilled.


Sunday, I started my day much like the Bear. Grizzley and grumpy. I was tired and had no desire to ride the 115 miles on my plan. But, they were there and I had made plans with DB and the Schnupp group so I headed to WC to start my pre-ride miles. I'm glad I started early. My legs were not happy to be having to work again and my first few laps of WC were horrible. At this point I doubted that I would be able to ride 50 let alone 115. Amazingly, they started to warm up and soon it was time to meet DB and Ann and the Schnupp group. 20 miles in and 95 to go. The Schnupp group ride was advertised as a leisurely 28 mile Sunday social ride. My goal was to draft as much as possible and enjoy myself and my company for this loop. We headed out Patterson (up my favorite hill) and onto Manakin. I stayed in the back or in the middle of the pack and just relaxed. It was great to ride with the crew and definitely the highlight of the day. Someone's legs must have been feeling good though, because our leisurely ride turned not so leisurely as we turned onto Hermitage to head back into WC. As Richard put it, who decided to add a time trial down Hermitage today? At this point my legs felt okay though so I grabbed a wheel and hung on as we rode at a good clip back through WC and out to Patterson. Schnupp who is not afraid of traffic, then routed us down Patterson and up the rollers of Lauderdale. I was worried about the traffic, but actually the rollers were fun and soon we were back at Schnupp's house. DB, Ann and I chatted for a few and then headed back to WC to finish our miles. Ann had 40 on her schedule so DB and I looped WC a few times to keep her company while she finished up. We reloaded at the cars and DB and I headed out for Ride part 3 - the EF loop. Other than the newly chipped road in one section and the massive truck that passed us on Three Chopt, this part of the ride was fun and much easier than it used to be when DB and I first rode it 2 winters ago. The best part was on the Manakin stretch north of Broad where the wind was behind us and mid to upper 20s seemed like a piece of cake. I was praying that the rest of my miles could only go that well. When we got back to the car, I was at 85 miles - only 30 to go. DB agreed to go one 10 mile loop with me before calling it quits. This was where I started to really struggle again for the day. Bart caught up with us mid loop and was surprised with my slow pace. As I took inventory, I wasn't feeling so great. I did a great job on nutrition though so I knew it wasn't calories. But yep, nausea = lack of water. So I started drinking up again. As we headed up the Capital One hill, we saw a cyclist pointing towards the woods and saying something. Unfortunately DB had already started the descent, but Bart said, "Look at the bear!" A Bear? Yep, on our right hand side, in the meadow area and headed back to the woods was a pretty good sized black bear. WOW! Pretty crazy for West Creek. I struggled through the end of the Cap One loop and Bart rode with me 6 more miles while I desperately tried to drink more and more water. Must have been the key though because despite my angst at having to sit on the darn bike seat for another 15 miles, and the burning sensation in my left foot, my pace increased again over the last few miles and the nausea disappeared.

Finally back at the car and done with my 115 miles, I was ready to pack it in for the day and skip my transition run all together. But, for some reason I decided to check out how long it was and my instructions. Training peaks read as follows:

You are not going to want to do this but it is so important. Only a few more weeks of this Bethany - stay strong!

I laughed. Coach knows me well. I laced up my shoes, put on my ipod, and headed out for my 30 minute run. My legs surprised me. They didn't feel too bad, and by now, there was a good bit of shade on the road to cool the temperatures off. I finished the long day with a strong T run and then promptly sat in my car at WC and cried. I think I was just totally drained -- emotionally and physically. And, training for this event has been harder and more challenging than I ever expected. At the same time, I think I also cried because I was proud of my accomplishment of the weekend and was just emotionally overwhelmed. After collecting myself (and crying a few tears on the phone with my dad), I headed home for my second ice bath of the weekend. Still feeling a bit like the grizzly and ready to scavenge whatever non-sweet, healthy food I could find in the house.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

EF Camp and my east coast Kaloko

Time has flown since Placid Camp. Since last post, there have been more mountains in my training. Two weekends ago, I race the Over the Mountain Olympic distance tri with my friend Jill in North Carolina. And last weekend, I headed up to the Blue Ridge Mountains and Wintergreen resort for training camp with Coach Michael, Bart and six other training buddies.

First, if you ever want a great and challenging Olympic distance triathlon to add to your schedule, try Over the Mountain in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. I added this to my schedule late this year when I couldn't race Rumpass due to my hip injury and to help support Jill in her efforts to qualify for USAT Nationals. (She did by the way!) For me, my primary goals were to iron out my pre-race jitters and push myself hard for another race before Placid. This race was a point to point race so the logistics were a little complicated. Not having Bart as my sherpa and having to plan, sherpa and get my own stuff ready helped keep my mind occupied pre-race, and despite dozens of trips to the bathroom prior to the start, I think I did pretty well in the pre-race jitters department. I also raced hard - zone 4 pretty much from the gun which was a bit of a shock to my system given all the endurance training I've been doing lately for Ironman. I ran over my favorite tinted goggles with the car the day before the race, so my sighting wasn't stellar on the swim course. Not my best swim time, but not my worst either. The bike was my favorite part. Challenging - with two major climbs - but awesome scenery, fun descents, great pavement and support on the bike course and places where you could really get in aero and push. All criteria that make a fun bike. I dropped my chain at the bottom of the first climb but managed to stay calm and actually get it back on with relative ease. The run was hot, hilly and hard. My nutrition and salt as usual, may have been out of whack by the time I hit the run. I managed to push to finish under 10 min pace, but walked a lot and didn't run the run I know I'm capable of running. I was most disappointed in the walking and vowed that in the future, no matter how bad I feel, I need to keep moving, even if its a run shuffle.

Sunday, the day after the race, I practiced my new mantra in Pocohontas on my long run of the week - a 17 miler. TG40 joined me for the first 8 miles and it was fun introducing her to the park.

Last weekend, was essentially Torturefest 2. On Friday, we left work early and headed to Wintergreen for Endorphin Fitness' Training Camp. Thankfully when we got to Lake Monacan at the base of the mountain, the skies cleared, rain stopped and and by 2:30 we were in our wetsuits for a long swim in the crystal clear cold lake. TG40, who I convinced to join me for the first two days of camp, and I were swimming buddies and completed 4 laps around the lake before it was time to get out. It was awesome wetsuit endurance training. Next up, the long run. We changed clothes, organized our fuel and headed out for our long runs. I struggled a bit with my 19 miler - it was hot and humid, a little hilly and my right foot plantar was not cooperating. My pace was off and I finished 3 hours and 30 minutes later - 20 minutes slower than my goal time. I iced my legs in the lake, cried a bit in frustration, and then headed off to refuel with dinner and unpack.

Back at home base for the weekend, Coach Michael reviewed the course with us for Saturday's ride, we loaded up our water bottles with fuel for the next day and headed to bed. Our goal for Saturday was 100 miles - 2 loops, 2 times up the climbs at Crabtree Falls and 2 times down the scary descent at Reed's Gap. I had seen the course's elevations and I was already dreading the climb up Crabtree Falls where it climbs from 700 feet to 3200 feet over a span of about 17 miles. By the time we went to bed, my foot was throbbing and I had a terrible time getting to sleep. Part of it I'm sure was anticipation of the next day's ride - the rest was just discomfort and I suppose unfamiliar surroundings.

Saturday morning came too quickly. I managed to drink a juice box, and eat a piece and a half of toast with jelly and a few eggs before I could no longer get anything in. Thankfully, the girls morning started off at the bottom of Wintergreen mountain and did not include the descent down it. The boys flew by us and soon the four gals - Coach Sally, Jill, TG40 and I - were off. The first stretch was supposed to be flat or rolling like the hills we see in Goochland County. Coach Michael somehow forgot to mention the first major climb of the day we encountered shortly after the turn at the ski barn. I kept thinking to myself as I quickly dropped to the back of the pack, then off the back entirely, if this is flat, I am in major trouble. After grinding up the climb and a big descent, the roads did flatten out. The next miles were entirely doable, and I began to have some hope about the days ride. That is, until we hit Crabtree Falls.

Lance, Hawaii locals, one of my favorite woman pro Bree Wee and Lifesport training use Kaloko, a huge climb on the Big Island for their training. Although I've never seen it, from descriptions it is extremely steep and I would imagine, has quite a few switchbacks.

As I climbed the road at Crabtree Falls, it was definitely my Kaloko. Steeper than anything I had ever climbed before by far, seemingly endless and had switch backs the Tour de France should envy. Rather than looking at the hill/mountain as an opportunity to improve and a place to push and challenge myself, my self-doubt side came out in raging form. I was furious as I climbed - how could my coach have mistaken me for someone who could climb this? why am I here? I suck at this! how am I ever going to do two loops? My legs cringed from the long run the day before but my mind had also given up long before my body did. Somehow I managed to keep my legs moving in circles (I think my lowest speed was 3.6) and I made it to the country store - our first stop. I downed some grapefruit juice and tried unsuccessfully to convince another rider to trade McQueen for her Madone with a triple for the next part of the climb. From the store to the top of the Blue Ridge was another two or three steep miles with one or two short flat sections. As TG40 put it, I have never been so happy to see the Blue Ridge when we reached the top. Two loops of this crazy hard climb was not something I wanted to attempt. Once on the Blue Ridge, we seemed to settle in. There were a few climbs, but a lot of good downhills too. I tried to work on my descending skills and implement the tips that Coach Michael had taught us before the ride. All in all, not too bad and so I thought I'd face my last fear of the day, Reed's Gap.

From my Placid post, you know I don't like descents. Reed's Gap is a 2 plus mile descent from the top of the Blue Ridge, down past the guard shack at Wintergreen resort with numerous areas around or in excess of 15% grade. In other words, its steep. Before the start down, I reminded myself that I was in control of my speed and that my brakes would work. I went last and kept the first part on the slower side. By the time we reached the guard shack, I could smell my brakes (and those of my riding buddies too). We stopped around the guard shack, let our brakes rest, took a deep breath and then descended the rest of the way. Making this descent was huge for my confidence and stopping in the middle of it proved that my brakes would stop my bike if I needed them too. At the bottom, TG40 and I added on some extra valley miles to reach 52 for the day and then called it quits.

The speedy boys (including Bart) finished their two laps and the young speedy ones even climbed Wintergreen mountain to cap off their 100 miles. I have to say my fellow campers abilities did serve as some inspiration for me over the weekend. They can certainly climb, ride and run.

Saturday night we relaxed with a great dinner at the new brewery at the base of the mountain and headed to bed before our last day of camp. Thankfully, Saturday night, I slept.

Sunday morning Coach Michael showed some pity and shortened our initial workouts. We drove to Reed's Gap for the start of the day's ride. On tap - one hour north towards Waynesboro on the Blue Ridge and one hour back to Reed's Gap followed by a hard T run. Although my legs were definitely fatigued, Sunday's ride was almost easier for me. I'm sure part of it was mental - this part of the Blue Ridge was familiar to me and I knew I could do it. Coach Sally stayed with me and coached me for the uphills and I pushed myself on the downhills. My max speed was almost 40 mph. After the ride, everyone but Bart and I rode down to the guard shack to start their transition run UP Wintergreen mountain. But, because of my foot (and Bart's achilles), Coach kept us on the Blue Ridge for the easier slighter hills. I knew since I was given this out, I needed to earn my run and so I did. Some good tunes and the knowledge that camp was almost over allowed me to push myself for 52 minutes of good, hard running. Tyler, Greg, Grayson, Jill and Sally all get stud awards for running their T runs up the mountain.

I left camp with mixed thoughts - on one hand, I completed the hardest climb I'd ever done and two other hard days of training. On the other hand, I was disappointed and frustrated. I didn't like not being able to finish a workout and struggled with where I perceived myself in my training and progress in this sport.

The good thing about having a Coach is that they help you sort your thoughts out, tell it to you straight and get you moving on. That's exactly what Michael did today. It appears I need a healthy dose of mental training and belief in myself and my training. My body and fitness are there to do the workouts but my mind ends up winning when I doubt myself and my abilities. As Michael put it, I gave up on the possibility of even trying the second loop before my body ever got a chance to even try. Crabtree Falls, my Kaloko, could have been a totally different experience if I believed and faced it as a positive challenge.

So my goals for the next month are to believe in myself and my training and go after every workout I have left with a hunger and a desire to better myself. If my body gives out while I'm giving it my all, then so be it, but I'm not going to let my mind give up first. My Kaloko is already on my training schedule for the month and next time, I'm going after it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lake Placid Torturefest Part 2

The rest of Torturefest was far less dramatic for me but not by any means easy. On Sunday we got to sleep in a little bit and even ate a bit more than usual before venturing out for our 2 hour and 45 minute run. The day was crisp but beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed this run. We warmed up easy around Mirror Lake and through town before heading out on the official run course. The out part of this course is fairly uneventful. There are some rollers, but nothing too grueling. Once you turn onto River Road by the ski jumps, there is a beautiful river along side the road and a few houses interspersed throughout to keep your interest. I enjoyed having the other gals along for the run. I've done most of my long runs this year by myself with my ipod and it was great to have company and someone to chat with. My legs felt good for the most part and I was enjoying being on solid ground and not my bike. The trip back towards town was a little more challenging. The first hill by the ski jumps isn't too bad, just on the longer side. I'm sure however, on the second loop of the run course it will seem like a mountain. The worst hill is the one back in town. We'll hit this hill at probably mile 12 and 25. Its challenging on fairly fresh legs to run, or shuffle up in my case. Others have said the crowds at this point carry you up the hill with their cheers. Let's hope so. Its a toughie!

Post run, Kate O, Lynn and I took our ice bath in Mirror Lake. The cold water felt amazing on my hip and feet and I enjoyed the looks we got from passersby. Yes, in response to your slightly puzzled looks, we are slightly crazy! :)

Our treat on Sunday afternoon was an hour massage at the house. I highly recommend Lisa who works at the Mirror Lake Inn. My massage was fantastic and much needed. Sunday night the gang headed to Mirror Lake Inn for dinner. The service was fantastic and they had a great wine list but the groups dinner reviews were a little mixed. I enjoyed my beet salad, pork tenderloin, maple syrup creme brulee and probably a little too much wine for a training night.

Monday's training was a full loop of the bike course. I made up my mind before this loop that my goal was just to enjoy myself, ride my own pace and finish the loop. Loop 3 was definitely my best of the camp. The two May birthday gals (Shawn and I) were paired up for the loop. Having Shawn as my riding partner for the day was definitely comforting. She is a steady and strong rider and her bike handling skills (including descents) are great. Shawn rides because she loves it - and its obvious in her demeanor on the course. We kept a steady pace throughout the day and the big descent, while still scary, was no where as bad as Saturday. I managed to use my brakes a little less and tried to relax a little bit. Since I had no coach beside me this time, I just talked to myself out loud and repeated a few mantras as I went down the big hill -- "Relax" and "Pedal." I'll probably do the same on race day . . . hopefully my fellow competitors wont think I'm too much of a loon. Monday's loop also included the Haselton out and back. There's a good sized climb when you are headed back towards Wilmington, but you can move on some of the other parts. The stretch from Wilmington until the named hills was still my hardest section. The road isn't steep, but its a constant slow grind. Midway through the loop, I switched my Garmin readouts so that I could see the percentage grade I was riding. After learning that the last hill after Papa Bear had an 11 % grade, Shawn and I named it "The Bastard." Post-ride we had a transition run down the two steep hills to town (including the worst hill of the run course) for 10 minutes and then back up both hills. My legs definitely felt their previous efforts and Id be amazed if my shuffle up these hills was faster than a walk.

Back at the house, I got my second massage of the camp. This one was only a half hour, but still fantastic. Monday night was my night to cook. Kate O and I whipped up some salmon, roasted green beans, baked chicken and wild rice for an early dinner. Post dinner we begrudgingly put on our swim suits and headed to Paul Smith Community College for swim practice. I was beat and so were my camp mates. The pool at Paul Smith was chilly and without any lane ropes, it felt more like open water practice than swimming in a pool. At times, I felt nauseated and Karen B turned green after our swims around the pools perimeter. Coach K must have felt pity for us so after a 400 cool down, we were released from swim practice. Kate O took some great pics with her underwater camera -- hope you enjoy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Torturfest - Placid Training Camp, Part 1

The subtitle to this post should really be Facing My Demons in Lake Placid.

The trip to Placid went smoothly. Bart, Lynn, Kate and I loaded up the Beast around 7:30 pm with our four bikes, bags and bags of gear and the obligatory wine and some fantastic sweets (even GF ones) and started for Placid. After some bad fog and about 5 and a half hours of driving, we stopped for the night in Wilkes Barre, PA.

The next morning, the fog had disappeared and we were back on the road. Our "quick" stops for breakfast at a tiny diner and lunch in a quaint spot of Route 9 weren't so quick and we rolled into Lake Placid at the hour our cheeks were supposed to be on seats for the first workout of the weekend. Thankfully, the others had also arrived later than planned so we had time to claim our bedrooms in our beautiful accommodations, "Hawthorne," and unpack. The group took an easy spin around Mirror Lake and out the run course to stretch our legs. Bart and I soon discovered that the out and back on the run course was MUCH longer than we ran last year during our volunteer weekend. After our ride, we celebrated my birthday at the Brown Dog Cafe and even had a yummy 3 Fellers Carrot Cake for dessert.

After returning from dinner, we figured out nutrition for the next day's ride, loaded water bottles and set off to bed. At this point, the events of the next day began to sink in and I had my first melt down of the weekend. On our drive into Placid, we rode up the big descent into Keene. The grade on the hill looked steeper than I remembered and the hill longer. I am not confident in my descending skills and so I stressed and cried a bit to Bart before I went to bed. Not a good sign for the next day.

Saturday morning was cooler temperatures and the weather called for rain and some wind. I had my usual "pre-race" breakfast of rice, a banana and some juice and got my bike ready to go. I was in the second group along with Kate, Shawn, Deanna B and Lynn. Shawn brought us down the steep short hill from our house through town (it would become our transition hill) and coached me on descending. I felt uncomfortable from the start. I don't like the fact that bicycle brakes merely slow you down and already, I didn't like the sensation of not being in control. We stopped, descended another short steep hill, and I felt a little bit better, but still nervous as we headed out of town. After the turn at the ski jumps, we were greeted by the first climb of the course. It isn't named, but should be, and so by the end of the trip it was, "the bitch." The miles of climbing out of town took my heart rate up and my mind momentarily off the next step, the descent. My legs weren't feeling particularly strong and my heart rate was higher than I would have liked. Then again, I haven't done much climbing in the mountains yet. When we got to the top, Shawn told us the descents were about to start and to keep loose, hold the top tube with our legs and feather the brakes. I descended behind Kate O and in front of Lynn who kept me positive and kept saying words of encouragement -- "You're doing great" and "Almost there." I was thrilled when we got to the bottom and our SAG car manned by superwoman Kim, but was shaking like a leaf and spent.

We took off a few layers and headed for Jay. This is by far my favorite part of the course. It is flat, fast and along a beautiful river. I kept thinking to myself, why am I racing Placid and not Florida. I love the flats. I can ride 20 mph on a flat and feel totally comfortable but 20 mph down a mountain feels out of control and scary. Even on smaller hills, where I can see the end, I can go much faster and feel fine. Clearly its mental, and I continued to stress about my preparedness as we rode towards Jay and onto Upper Jay. In Upper Jay, you make a left hand turn and the next hill that should be named but isn't appears. As we headed up this hill, I got dropped, and dropped fast. The more I lagged behind, the more I stressed and the worse my riding got. Speedy Bart and Karen B passed me at this point and despite Bart's words of encouragement, I felt like crap. Before Haselton, we hit a potty break, regrouped and headed into Wilmington for our next SAG stop.

After refueling, we headed out of Wilmington and began the climb back to Lake Placid. It was on this climb that whatever positive confidence I had in my riding abilities disappeared and the demons appeared in full force. The Wilmington to Placid stretch, while beautiful and all along the river, is predominately all climb. Sometimes its only around a 2 or 3 percent grade, but there are very few if any "fast" parts. Again, I was quickly dropped despite DB's efforts to pull me up to the rest of the group and hang back. My legs just wouldn't push, and every time I looked at my speeds I was discouraged. How can I "race" at 7 mph? The more I stressed, I think the worse I rode. By the time I climbed Papa Bear I was a puddle. Yes, full force tears streamed from my face for the second time that day. My training buddies were awesome and encouraging. The told me to stay optimistic, have fun and not worry about my speed or pace. I had spent so much energy on the descent and worrying about my place in the pack that I didn't have that energy to spend cycling up all these hills. We plugged on back into town and ran into Coach Karen at the SAG vehicle. She sensed my frustration (it wasn't hard given the tears on my face) and we set off to ride the second lap together.

For Karen's coaching during the second loop I am extremely grateful. As a primary matter, I feel confident that I would not have made it down the hill the second time had she not been by my side. As we started out for the second loop, the wind picked up and gusts were no doubt in the 18-20 mph or higher range. The rain also started to pelt us. I decided that I was going to ride this ride at my own pace and try to relax. The winds were brutal up the hill out of town and coach Karen rode in front and pulled a bit and gave some pedal stroke and shifting pointers along the way. When we got to the top and started the descent, she rode beside me and encouraged me to brake lightly so I could feel it and pedal some so I would feel more in control of my speed. The winds by now were crazy gusty and by half way down, the wind gusted against my bike and it felt like it was being pushed all over the road. I wanted off my bike so badly at this point and was absolutely petrified. Coach Karen didn't give up though and kept encouraging me and talking to me. It was at this point that she told me that there was no way the wind could blow over my bike (which I believed at the time) and we worked on trying to pedal a bit and leg positioning through the corners. Finally, we neared the bottom, and I was incredibly thankful. Thankful to be done with the hill for the day, thankful to have ridden it in tougher conditions than I'll likely see on race day (I hope) and thankful to have a Coach to get me to the bottom and stick with me on my tough day.

The rest of the second loop was much better than the first loop. I'm not sure if I was much faster, but I certainly enjoyed it more. I took it at my own speed and laughed at times wondering what ProKaren thought about my gruelingly slow speeds, but I pushed on and was determined to finish. Near Upper Jay, I had a mechanical issue with my brakes (Bart discovered later that he doesn't think my rear wheel was in position) but we were able to stop the noise and rode on. I had nausea issues twice on the second loop, and tried to rectify them with some salt tabs and some extra water. Midway through the Wilmington to Placid stretch, Bart caught up with us (he and Karen B had done extra mileage with the Haselton loop) and he and I rode the rest of the way into Placid together. This time, I enjoyed checking off the 5 named hills into town - Little Cherry, Big Cherry, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear.

When we finally got back to town, I was so proud that I had managed to stick it through and ride the second loop. That Saturday by far was one of the toughest if not the toughest days I've ever had on my bike. The conditions were windy, the descent terrifying and I had wasted tremendous amounts of energy worrying and stressing. I learned that I had to make peace with this course if I want to have a successful Ironman.

I was so happy to put my running shoes and ipod on and head out for my transition run. It was still raining but it felt so go to have my feet on the ground and to not be on my bike. Although I ran the wrong direction, I had a great run on the road near the lake. My legs felt fast and my tunes boosted my spirits.

Post ride, we feasted on a fantastic dinner of steak, salad, sweet potatoes and wine. I think I smiled the whole evening knowing I had conquered and faced some major demons out there on the bike course. I had won though and had finished my ride. It wasn't pretty, but it was done. I can be tough on myself and I learned that sometimes, it isn't worth it. This Ironman is going to be tougher than I imagined. I needed to step back, adjust my goals, enjoy the experience and just aim to finish.

I think I was the first to bed Saturday night. I was wiped out, but slept well and looked forward to Torturefest day 2 and my long run.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Belated White Lake Race Report

So here it is . . . very belated. Work has been crazy busy with travel to Chicago and initially, I had been chewing on my race few days hoping I might figure out how I feel about it and what I want to share. To be honest, I've had mixed feelings. They still aren't all sorted out, but its so late now, and I've done my first century since WL that I need to get on blogging.

I slept terribly the night before the race. I was in that twilight area of not quite asleep but not fully awake either. And I stayed there all night long. Even my natural sleeping pill that usually puts be out didn't work.

My alarm went off early. 4:45. Since I was already sort of awake, I got up and started breakfast. I've been working on more pre-race calories so at 5 am, I ate breakfast - a cup of rice, a banana, 6 oz juice and a UltraMeal chocolate smoothie. I managed to get most of everything down and was feeling pretty good despite my less than ideal night. I had high hopes and was ready to race.

At 6 we headed to the race site to set up our transition area. I liked having all my stuff in my pseudo transition backpack (my tennis backpack) so I could ride to the race. I got unpacked, organized, body marked and as usual, took a few trips to the porta potties. TG40, Bart and I started to get suited up around 7 in time to warm up as the initial race waves went off. The water felt great like it had all week and I was ready to get started. Pre-race for me is always the worst part. I just want to start so my nerves will settle and I can start enjoying the experience.

At 7:30 when our race wave lined up, none of my fellow navy caps seemed to eager to go to the front of the pack. So to the front I went. I figured getting caught in the initial rush would be good for my mass start experience and I can throw a few elbows if I need to. The horn sounded and our group was out of the gate fast. I quickly moved from the front to probably the front third and just headed for the first buoy. Unlike last year, I couldn't find a great pair of feet to follow, so I just plowed on through the water, buoy after buoy. The back stretch got a little choppy and I laughed to myself because on the previous days, the water had been like glass. I thought about one of my favorite pros Bree Wee and her love of the choppy water and just kept swimming along. At the final turn buoy, I found a draft. I stuck like glue to a girl to the right of me and matched her stroke for stroke on the way into the pier. At the last buoy, she accelerated and I tried my best to follow. Out of the water and down the pier without slipping, I let myself look at my watch. It said 38 something. The timing mat was still a ways a way, so I ran hard to cross it in the 30s. My swim time was 39 flat. Far better than what I expected and definitely my strongest leg of the day.

T1 was T1. I struggled with the arms of my wetsuit but got it off, got my bike and ran to the mount line. Time for my favorite part - the bike. I had practiced my shoe trick a couple of times the day before and it went smoothly again after I got on my bike. I checked my HR - 165 - a little high so I let myself settle in as I rode easy through the small town of White Lake and over the first stretch of bumpy road. Soon I was on the road out of town and the wind was friendly. Again, I felt like I was riding easy and really just concentrated on keeping my HR in zone. About 10 miles in, I realized I had to use the restroom. Unfortunately, I was in the country, on my bike with no bathroom in sight, so I just pedaled and turned the corner to the next 20 miles and THE WIND. At this point my nutrition was okay. I was following my 10 minute plan - a bite of bar or a shot block or a luna moon every 10 minutes and a few sips of Gatorade/Carbo Pro every so often.

After the turn to the back 20, things changed. The wind was right in our faces, my stomach was starting to reject everything and I still had to go the bathroom. At this point, I backed off on all food and just tried to get my drink calories in and let my stomach settle. I tried to go like the pros but couldn't so ultimately stopped by the side of the road. That didn't work either and so after watching about 20 riders (including TG40) go by, and taking a salt pill, I got back on my bike again! My stomach still wasn't cooperating, and every time I got liquids in and started to push again, I gagged it back up. I will admit I let the back 20 get to me. I had to work to repass folks and I felt like crap. My legs had it but my stomach and heart didn't. And I was seeing my goal of a 3 hour bike slip.

After what seemed like ages, I turned the corner to head back into town and the wind eased some. I worked to get some more liquids down, knowing I needed the calories for the run. Seeing TG40 at the out and back and the wind at my back for the out portion gave me the boost I needed to finish the ride. My speeds picked up again on the way back into town and I was able to eat a gu. Even the bumps on the road at this point didn't seem as bad. I was almost done with the bike and if I pushed hard, I would still be under my time from last year. Definitely not the bike I had in my mind when I set out, but that's I guess part of racing. Time - 3:08:35

I got my shoes off in the final 1/4 mile before transition and ran into T2. After racking my bike, I tried to move efficiently through T2. Body glide for the feet, socks and my new racing shoes. Garmin, visor, race belt, running belt, and I was off. My T2 time would say I need to work on my efficiency.

The beginning of the run felt awesome. My hip didn't hurt at all and my legs felt like all the bricks I had run during training - strong and ready to run. My goal pace was 10 min miles and my first mile felt so easy. I stuck to water and oranges at the water stops because that was what tasted good and my stomach still wasn't great. Not a smart move. At mile 4, things started to change. My HR started to climb into zone 4 and my pace slowed. I passed Bart going the opposite way and kept pushing from water stop to water stop. At mile 8, I started to get chills so I downed a salt tab and some enduralyte strips. At that point, I realized I was behind plan on my gus and hadn't drank much gatorade. My pace was definitely slower and I was feeling the run more. But I still wanted a strong finish as close to 10 minute miles as I could. In the last mile and a half, I gave what I had left I pushed past three gals in my age group that I had been playing leap frog with during the back half of the run. I ended up around 10:30 pace average.

As I neared the finish, Bart was there to greet me with a big smile and I cheer. Total time 6:11.07.

One one hand I have really positive thoughts. I had a great swim and an overall 15 minute PR. On the other hand I still struggled with my nutrition and missed my goal times in both the bike and the run. I let my head get to me on the back 20 miles instead of staying positive. And in retrospect, I wonder if I should have pushed harder on the run. Overall though, I think I'm just tough on myself. My HRs were generally where they should have been and I raced a strong race and improved over last year. I have my list of things to work on and will be racing a few more times between now and Placid to try and iron out the kinks.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Glimpses of White Lake

TG40, Bart and I arrived at White Lake late last night (or really the early hours of the morning). Despite the fact that we made our reservations for the same beautiful lakefront condo we stayed in last year, last week we were "upgraded" to our new accommodations. Apparently, the condo above the one we were to rent had a major water leak and caused water damage in much of the rented condo. Thankfully, however, the owner of our condo had a back up plan, his brother-in-law's double-wide.

The tail lights on our house.

I was petrified at first. I'm not one for the rustic things in life and many of the trailers we had seen lining the lake last year were scary.

Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised. While not the Ritz, our double-wide is nearly lakefront, has a cute front porch, is comfy and even has cable. The furniture is an eclectic mix of leather couches, some 1970s decor and my favorite, some silk covered small slipper chairs. It has a shortage of wine glasses (none) and an abundance of bibles.

Today schedule consisted of resting, catching up on FB, eating, a 20 minute easy run, a 30ish minute swim in the beautiful lake and a drive of the bike course. The lake temperature is perfect and the bike course still as flat and boring as I remembered.

Tomorrow is race day minus one.

Enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This week has been all about healing. Bart laughs at my efforts to try anything to heal my hip and my entourage of healers, but hey . . . why pass up something that might work?

Starting with last Friday, I have been to Dr. Green three times for ART to my hip, heat and ice treatments and the beginnings of physical therapy. Each time, the ART has gotten progressively deeper and the range of motion in my hip before pain sets in greater.

On Tuesday, I visited Keith Bell, LAc for some acupuncture treatment. It was by far one of the most unique experiences I've ever had and, in my opinion, very beneficial. I was nervous before the treatment - needles and I are not friends. I'm one of those patients that can't look while giving blood and have been known to get woozy at the thought of a needle. Thankfully, the treatment doesn't hurt at all, and I was able to close my eyes so I didn't have to see any of the acupuncture needles. He did two treatments - one with me face down and one face up - and he treated me for my hip, right plantar and my usually inflamed digestive tract. While I was face down, I had a few needles up both my spine, in the left hip and lower back area and on both feet/ankles. While I laid there during the first treatment, I could feel the energy running through various places in my body and warmth. I was amazed. For the second treatment, I laid face up. This time I had the needles in my feet and one on my left wrist. I could feel the points furthest from my core the strongest. This time the energy flow was different - and I wasn't warm, but cooler. Soon enough, it was over and I was on my way. All afternoon, I felt energized and at various points during the day, felt the energy still flowing through my body. Keith indicated that it would take 24 hours for the treatment to fully integrate into my body but almost instantly, I was positive that it was working.

My workouts since Friday have been pool and bike based. I've swum a ton of laps - at hard pace (Monday's workout was 15 x 50s) and long pace (lots of 1000s). I've also spent a lot of time in the deep end of the pool water running. If you see me there, please don't laugh but please come and say hello. I am bored out of my mind and feeling silly running in circles.

Tuesday evening was my first attempt on the bike. Bart and I ventured to WC despite the stormy weather for our easy spin with our race setup. Not a good idea. The wind howled (aka aero position was difficult), the rain pelted and the temperatures dropped quickly. I tested my hip out - it felt fine at easy pace in easy gears, but as I pushed the gears and pushed a hill in aero, I could feel it twinge. After about 30 minutes, I was cold, grumpy because my hip wasn't better already and I convinced Bart to return home.

Last night's bike was MUCH better. I had a 60 minute zone 3 ride that I was only allowed to push if I had no pain. Work kept me later than I would have liked, so I rode on the trainer at home. I had NO hip pain this time either during or after and I was able to push the entire ride. Progress!

So where does it stand? Stairs no longer hurt, biking no longer hurts and plain old walking no longer hurts. My hip has bruises all over and it is still twinges when I stand on one leg and use all of my stabilizer muscles, but it is showing signs of significant improvement. Still no running outside for me this week but hopefully, with all of the healing this week, I'll be ready to go next week. Coach Michael promises I'm not losing fitness, but I'm still nervous.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

Tomorrow is supposed to be the start of my triathlon race season. My new race flats are screaming to be run in and my body is ready to peak for White Lake. All my training is pointing toward a great race and in particular, I've really made strides in my run and was looking forward to pushing myself on the final 10K of my warm up race - the Rumpass in Bumpass Olympic.

Unfortunately, my left hip has put my race plans for the weekend to a screeching halt. Its been tight since racing Shamrock and after long runs or bikes, I've had trouble climbing stairs. I had a few massages to try and loosen things up and in general was just training through it. Face it, with the recent level of training, everything in my body has been achy and tired. It wasn't hurting during the run or bike, so I kept moving on. After Sunday's threshold run, the tightness was worse and I could feel it during the run for the first time. I still wasn't too concerned on Sunday night -- this week is a recovery week leading into the race this weekend, and I figured it would work itself out with a few days rest. It didn't.

Monday and Tuesday I could feel my hip with every step and going up stairs hurt worse. I pushed through my brick Tuesday evening and my run still felt pretty good. Wednesday I flew to Chicago for work for the day and it throbbed. My hip was no longer just workout sore, something didn't seem right.

So. . . thanks to Endorphin's amazing team doc, Dr. Herring, I was seen right away on Thursday. Thursday's doctor's appointment wasn't encouraging -- it was either a inflammation in my hip rotators and glut medialis or a stress fracture. Between leaving Dr. Herring's office and my 5 pm MRI, I prayed hard. Inflammation, I could deal with, a stress fracture was an all too different story.

Thankfully Dr. Herring's call last evening reported good news. My MRI was negative - no stress fracture. This morning, I was squeezed in to see another fabulous team doc, Dr. Green, for some ART, heat and ice and massage. This afternoon the docs and Coach Michael conferred and discussed my plan to recovery and racing White Lake. So while there is no race for me this weekend, if I follow the plan, I should still be able to maintain my fitness and race hard in two weeks.

My new plan includes lots of pool time this week - a combination of water running and hard aerobic and anaerobic swims. I'm also allowed to bike this upcoming week at tempo pace and below. Next week, I should be back on the road to test out my legs again pre-race. I still can't say enough about how thankful I am to have such great team docs and a coach who work together to get me race ready.

Even Tina's on board too. I've got Omega 3 supplements and anti-inflammatory vitamins and shakes added into my plan for the next week and she's reworking my nutrition plan to make sure I don't gain back weight after I finally reached my White Lake goal race weight this morning. To top off the plan, I'm going to try some acupuncture.

So shoes . . . don't give up on me. . . . we'll race hard in two more weeks. In the meantime, Bart, Deanna B, Jill, Jennifer, Moose, Greg and Rob race fast tomorrow! We need a new round of PRs!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Sign of Spring

Several signs of Spring appeared this weekend. Workouts are definitely getting longer as my base building for Ironman Lake Placid ramps up.

Saturday, McQueen went for its longest ride ever. 81 miles and just over 5 hours long. Deanna L and Scott thankfully joined me for the first 50. We took a busier than I would have liked route from West Creek to Ashland but otherwise, the ride seemed to be going smoothly. My legs felt pretty good and I was able to keep a descent pace. Back at West Creek, I said good-bye to DL and Scott, refueled with an almond butter and jelly sandwich and some juice and headed out for the last 31 solo. I decided to test my legs and add a few hills to the route (since we had only done a few) and tackle the Millers Lane loop. My goal was two fold. First, to make it up the hills and second, to descend the hill from Manakin down Millers without the use of my brakes. To me, descents are far more scary than the ascents. Since I have that 9 mile descent to Keene in my future, I figured I need to start somewhere. I accomplished both goals, but my pace slowed considerably on the last 30 miles and it was clear I was running out of gas. I could not longer get my HR in the right zone because I couldn't seem to get my legs to pedal any faster. They were spent. Once back to WC, I finished my ride with a loop to finish out my workout time. My other proud moment of the day - making it through both gates at Capital One without dismounting or unclipping. I need to work on getting some more fluids in me while riding and next long ride, I'm going to give CarboPro a try.

As I racked McQueen on the back of the car, I saw this:

. . . the first sign of Spring. Worms galore - on the bottom tube of my bike, in my brake calipers, all over. McQueen got a post ride bath and is now just waiting for her new crank and ceramic bearings.

Today's workouts were tough. I was not sore from yesterday but my legs were definitely sluggish. We also had our first really warm day. My run was lackluster and my body was definitely not acclimated to warmer temps. My easy 8 miles felt like a hard 15 and my legs might as well have been made of lead. Even Lulu felt the effects of the warmer weather. She jogged with me for the first mile and a half but contrary to our other runs, she was happy to be dropped off at home to left me finish the work.

Post lunch and a little R&R, I headed to the pool to finish my last workout of the weekend. A VO2 workout in the pool. My main set was 10 x 200 with each 200 aimed at 4 min or less. Although I tried to hold back on the first several 200s so I'd have enough the tank to finish the 10, they felt easy, and I was clocking off times right around 2:50. As the 200s continued, they definitely got harder. I tried to keep form and hang tough. I made all of the 200s under 4 minutes, but one. The last. I missed it by less than a second. Irritating, but it gives me something to aim for at the next swim.

And tonight, its feet up and time to rest. . . that is, until tomorrow. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some Luck of the Irish!

I ran the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon today in Virginia Beach.

Although the race started a little on the chilly side (in the 30s), the weather couldn't have been better.

And neither could the finish.

A new PR for both Bart and I.

Mine - 2:03:17 and Bart - 1:35:47.

Congrats to Kate, Sharon and Jill on their 1/2 PRs and to Jim, Karen, Fawn and Patty for their awesome marathon runs.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Work and Play in Sunny CA!

My ride for the week.

On Wednesday this week, I travelled out to sunny California for a week of work and a weekend of fun. I am extremely fortunate that my client contact that I am meeting with and another engineer who works for my client are big into cycling. I am even more fortunate that one of them had an extra 54 cm bike that he fitted for me to ride.

Bonelli Park
So . . . Thursday post work, we went for our first spin around Bonelli Park. There is a loop around the big reservoir at the center of Bonelli that is close to 7 miles and includes a mix of flats and small climbs and a slightly larger loop (about 9 miles) that includes a pretty good climb and yes, my favorite (NOT), a twisty fast descent. Apparently, there is a fairly popular triathlon in this park. Raymond, Emmanuel and I rode 2 small loops and one big loop and had a great 22-23 mile post work ride.
Friday, post work, I switched hotels and relocated to Pasadena for the weekend. Bart was supposed to join me, but unfortunately, the flu struck hard early Thursday morning and he was too sick to travel. So, I enjoyed a little bit of alone time and ordered a girly movie, The Women, to go with my yummy in-room service salmon. The seafood out here this week has been really outstanding!
This morning, Raymond, Emmanuel, Emmanuel's wife, one of their friends Ray and I rode 60 miles on the LA river and Rio Hondo river trails into and back out of Long Beach. The morning started off a little chilly (in the low 50s) but quickly climbed in temperature so that I ended the ride in shorts and a long sleeved cycling shirt. The paths were fantastic - wide (so you could in most parts ride over 20 mph), flat and right through the city. Along the way, we passed a ton of horse stables and parks. The "river" isn't much of a river in most places, more of a concrete canyon, but still, the ride was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and I was blessed not to have to ride in the cold or on the trainer.

Here is the group in downtown Long Beach around the midway point.

With the Queen Mary in the background.

The prize of the ride was the leisurely pace along the beach and the fish tacos we had for lunch at Wahoo's. They were amazing and just what the doctor ordered to get us back to the start.

I had only one mishap of the day and added a war wound to my new bike helmet and seat when I toppled over towards the end of the ride. Unfamiliar with the territory, I rounded a 180 turn to face a short but extremely steep incline from the path up to the road. I missed the advice to switch my gearing and couldn't clip out fast enough or downshift from the big gear I had been riding the flats in. So. . . down I went. I'd like to call it graceful, but I doubt it was. Escaped with just a few bruises but thankfully no road rash.

My hotel window view.

Tonight, I plan to explore the shops and restaurants of Old Town Pasadena. I could get used to living in CA. Its amazing to be so close to the ocean, yet look out my hotel window and see the mountains in the very close distance. There are tons of outdoor activities, fantastic restaurants, beautiful parks and gardens and an outstanding fine arts, theater and music community.

I'm off to explore.