Monday, July 31, 2006

Low Profile

I've been keeping a low posting profile since LifeTime. No particular reason -- just not a lot of excitement happening in my life, unless, of course, you count the HEAT that has been happening over much of the US.

We've been training through it -- hill work; lactate threshold runs, etc. Bleah. The marathon is a mere 8 weeks away. We are running a practice 1/2 marathon race this Saturday (the Urban Wildland) and then those dang long runs really spike up for about five weeks until taper starts. I just have to hang in there and get them done.

I will confess that I cheated this last weekend. I was in Chicago for a business meeting last Thursday and Friday. Since I had lived in that FANSTATIC city for a few years, I decided to stay over the weekend and spend some time visiting my good friends Bev and her husband Ron. I had all good intentions to get up at 6:00 am to do a run on Saturday, but the heat and humidity were really off the charts.

I did get a small, but lovely, run in on a treadmill at Bev's health club. No substitute for a full-blown long slow distance, but what do you do?

The heat is supposed to pull back a bit by Wednesday. That will be a very welcome relief.

On other more important news, it is no secret that gas prices are out of this world. Hubby and I are some what lucky in that we live fairly close to downtown and can bus to work some days. I've even been able to ride my bike from time to time.

This whole global warming and oil-thing are very frightening and disconcertng. I read a GREAT article in The Chicago Tribune called "A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble". The article is very long, but well worth the read as it follows the path of oil production from places in Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela all the way to a service station in Elgin, Illinois.

Thomas Friedman, the superb columnist for the New York Times, has written a number of articles about "Petropolitics", which are very interesting. The basic premise is that as the price of oil goes up, the less democratic oil producing states are.

Hubby and I are looking at all sorts of ways to reduce our oil consumption, starting with some "car-free" days every week. We'll bus or bike or walk to where ever we have to go. It is a small start, but some thing within our control to help try to stem the tide.

What are others doing?

Monday, July 17, 2006

It Was What It Was....(Time results for LifeTime)

I'm STILL Number One in my Age Group (and STILL last of all the Athena's that competeted...) but that being said, here are my results from the LifeTime Tri last Saturday == (Note: if you are really interested, the very long, very descriptive report is the posting just prior to this one):

Swim: 1:00:49 Really terrible time. NEXT year, this is where I should be able to really knock some minutes off. Need to do much more open water swimming.
T1 (Transition One): 3:51.03 So happy to just be out of the water, I took a little extra time to appreciate dry land.
Bike: 1:30 Faster than anticipated, but still everyone kept passing ME.
T2 (Transition Two): 3:16 How the heck long does it take to whip off a helmut, rack a bike, put on a race belt and baseball hat and GO????
Run: 39:44 Slower than a normal 5K, but I lollygagged under the waterhose that the Minneapolis Fire Department rigged up for us.
Total: 3:17:39.

Not dead last of all the Oly racers, but pretty darn close. The real point is: I'm not dead.

My great friend Dori found me at the finish line and took a snap of me with her "crap cam". So here I am, in all my post-race glory.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Number One (out of One)

Well, I finished the triathlon -- swim and all.

However, the event had some kinks and I has a "less than stellar" performance in the swim.

The day was very hot and humid. By the start of the race at 8:00 am, the air temp was already in the 80's -- the water temp was 82 degrees. The race officials had been keeping an eye on the forecast for the day and at about 7:40 am, they announced that the Olympic distance for age-groupers and relay teams would be cut back a bit. Professionals and Elites had to do the full distance for each section. Others, including the Athena's, had to do the full swim (0.9 miles); but our bike got cut back by about 3.5 miles and the run by a full 5K (3.1). This means my totals were 0.9 swim; 21.35 for the bike and 3.1 for the run.

Official race results have not been posted, but my total time was 3:17 and some odd seconds. Last for all the Athena's (17th), with two either no shows or DNF (Did Not Finish) behind me.

However, I was the 1st Athena in my age group. (What that really means is that every one else in my wave was younger than me. Much younger.) Still and all, I should be able to have some fun telling people that I was first in my age group BEFORE I tell them the truth. Might as well bask in the glory for at least a second or two.

While I was waiting in queue for my heat to start, I chatted with some of the other women in my group. Most of them had done the event the year before. We shared some tips and had some giggles. There was a woman that had a megaphone across from us and I kept thinking that I knew that voice. I DID. It was Dori. It was so good to see her! I had not seen her since before her Grandma's event. She gave me a shot of encouragement and a hug and we were off!

The swim was tough for me. The route was a triangle and I got to the first buoy pretty easily. Fortunately, there were a number of support people out there. I took a break at the first buoy and then started on the very long stretch to the next turn around point. That is where I started to have some troubles.

As predicted, the heats that started the race after mine started to catch up with me, and soon other swimmers were bumping in to me, swimming over me and otherwise annoying me. There was a strong breeze which churned up some wave action that I had to swim against. Many times I'd do six strokes, pull my head up and found my self in basically the same place I had started. I got frustrated and a little nervous. The water was very deep (about 30 feet), which I hate. The support people along this stretch were positioned further apart. I'd poke my head up to site and, after a number of very bad words spoken aloud, I basically made up my mind to just simply swim from one support person to the next support person. I used the crawl; side stroke, back stroke, breast stroke and my good old friend, the dog paddle.

To borrow the slogan from my home state, the great state of Wisconsin, I just keep trying to move Ever Forward.

Finally, finally, finally I got to the second buoy and turned toward the beach to get back to shore. It still took me painfully long time to reach a spot in the lake where I could touch the bottom. Hallelujah and hooray, I got out of the lake and moved to T1. (Swim time was about a pitiful 1:00:00)

On my way back in to the Transition Area, I saw my loving Hubby and my SIL (sister-in-law), who came to cheer me on. Other friends were positioned along the chute: Angel and Carla (my IronWoman friends); Kathy T and Bea, my running friends. It was GREAT to see them there.

T1 went pretty well -- and I was off on the bike route. I'd ridden the course many times during my training, so I knew what to expect. I refueled by drinking my Endurance Formula Gatorade and just tried to keep positive and in the moment. (Meaning, trying to beat myself up too badly about my swim). I felt that I rode pretty well -- but again, not exactly sure of my time. By the time I got back in to T2, it was 2:39:00 on my watch.

My thigh was acting up (from what ever strange thing happened to it on Friday night) so it talked loudly to me as I was starting the run, however, miracle of miracles, I felt okay during the run. I did walk a bit -- it was now in the 90's, with high humidity and sun that wouldn't quit.

Some very kind spectators were out on the run course with bags of ice and extra water. The Minneapolis Fire Department had a truck out hooked up to a huge mister/sprinkler. Most runners took their sweet time while running through that spot.

I turned the final corner to the chute and came through at 3:17 something. There were volunteers at the chute that gave us towels that had been soaked in ice cold water. Boy, did THAT feel great!

I saw Dori at the finish, but Hubby and SIL were no where to be found. I borrowed Dori's cell phone and called him. They were still waiting for me to come in from the bike portion! He thought my time was excellent for the event. I'm just happy that I finished in one piece.

Marcia and Natalie also participated in the Sprint event -- although I did not see them there. The event was HUGE -- probably 2,000 participants. However, I did hear that they both finished and were pleased with their results.

I'll post official times when I get them... until then....

I'll bask in the glory of being #1 in my Age-Group (1 out of 1, that is).

Friday, July 14, 2006


Tomorrow is the big day -- LifeTime Triathlon!

I'm home, carbo-loaded, packed and hopefully ready.

My bike rack is on the car -- the bike is on the rack; all my race numbers are appropriately affixed to my bike, helmut and race belt.

I'm trying to relax, but finding that very difficult.

It is going to be very, very hot tomorrow. Air temp about 95 -- heat index in the afternoon of over 100 degrees PLUS humidity.

The organizers slipped a piece of paper in to our "goodie" bag indicating that they reserve the right to shorten the course or to cancel the event entirely. I'm hoping that does not happen.

They are also going to make the wetsuit decision tomorrow morning. Seems kind of silly that, with the air temp so hot, that wetsuits would even be an option. I'm pretty sure I can skip wearing one, although I would like the added buoyancy as a safety net.

I pulled a thigh muscle some how this afternoon. I've been icing and elevating my leg. I'm 99% sure that by tomorrow it will be nothing.

I'm going to "act as if" and have the best possible time I can have tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We're having a Heat Wave...a MN Heat Wave..

All together now! Sing at the top of your lungs:

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The temperature's rising,
It isn't surprising,

It's LifeTime Triathlon time!

Last year, the triathlon was held on the hottest day of the summer and this year looks to be the same. Predicted high for Saturday is a whopping 98 degrees.

Last year, when I did the 'measly' sprint distance, my heat was second to last to start. The air temp was in the high 80's when I started the swim; the water temp was 86 degrees. By the time I got to the run portion, it was in the mid-90's.

This year, I'm doing the Olympic distance. I thought I was SO smart to sign up as an Athena, which is a category for us "husky" gals. (Meaning weighing more then 145 lbs). The Athena wave will start the 0.9 swim early in the event -- right after the Pros and Elites.

Well, Ms. Smarty-Pants (aka 'me') forgot that all the age groupers will start the swim after me. So, Ms. SLOW Smarty-Pants (aka 'me' again) will have all those skinny speedsters swimming over me. Should be very interesting.

I'm trying not to get too wrapped up in this whole thing, but I am having some anxiety about the event. Most of my concern is about being able to finish the swim confidently. I've covered the distance (my last long swim last week was 2000 yards), but have done the majority of my swimming in the pool or with the extra mental and physical support of a wet suit.

It will be HOT, but I can handle that relatively well. I'm pretty sure I am not going to wear my tri suit. It is a one-piece and, once sweaty, it will be very difficult to get on and off if I need to use the portapotty mid-race. I've got plenty of PowerAde, gels and other nourishment to fuel me on the course, so that should be okay. It is just the swim that looms heavily.

Fortunately, I've got some new responsibilities at work, which is keeping me very busy during the day and that helps keep the anxiety somewhat at bay...

The goal is to keep breathing, keep relaxed and keep cool (ha ha).

Monday, July 3, 2006

Hindsight is 20/20

At long "anticipated" last, results for MinneMan are now posted -- My official time was 1:49:29.

The good news is that this is the best Sprint time that I've posted. The bad news is that I was 9 out of 9 in my age category. I thought that there was at least one woman that finished after me, but it turns out that she is only 38 (aka "Whippersnapper"). She had just racked her bike in the wrong transition spot with us geezers.

I try very, very hard not to compare myself with others out there. I'm slow and I know it. I really try to concentrate only on competing with myself, but that never seems to quite work. So now, I've got all these mixed emotions: I did great for ME but I was LAST in my age group.

(I'm also trying to work every angle I can: "Okay, if I had competed as an Athena, I would have been fourth from last". " Of all the women that started in my heat, there were 9 behind me". "Of ALL the women in the race that finished after me, all but one was younger than me". "I beat 10 guys!" What ever straw I can grab, I'm grabbing....)

Anyway, here is the recap:

Left Minneapolis at 5:25 am to get to Anoka. The weather was interesting. Blue skies to the east, big black clouds to the west along with the faint sound of thunder. By the time I hit 94 West, I was in driving in a downpour. The radio weather reporter said that there were very thin bands of showers moving through, so I kept moving up to Anoka and the start line. The weatherman was right. Within 10 minutes, I was driving on dry pavement.

When I got to the park, the skies were again mixed. I got to the transition area while they were announcing the water temperature -- just cold enough that wetsuits were legal. Yippee! I'm a lot more buoyant with it on and, yes, it does help with speed.

We were about 20 minutes to start time when the sky got very dark and we heard the first clap of thunder. The event was a USTA sanctioned event and their rules are that an event will be delayed for 30 minutes after thunder and/or lightening. We were now at Delay Number One.

I wandered the course; hit the portapotty (a number of times); wiggled in to my wetsuit; chatted with some other women (including the Whippersnapper mentioned above). More thunder. Delay Number Two. Wandered some more. Saw Dave, my swim coach, who was supervising the swim portion of the race. He looked a bit panicked because there were now rumors that the swim portion could be cancelled due to the weather, making the event a duathalon. Finally, the rain came. It poured for about 5 minutes and that was it. Skies opened up, sun came out, humidity ratcheted up and we got ready for the start.

I was in the 5th wave. The combined all the age group women of "35 plus", so my field started with 57 women. The water was clear, the ground was pretty sandy and it really didn't get too deep too fast, which helped calm my swim anxiety. The 0.3 swim was a triangle course -- out to a buoy, turn around the buoy and then back.

Once I got my head in the water, it took me a couple strokes to get my rhythm down, but soon I was in the groove and actually doing OKAY! I stayed with the pack until the turn around. I was really surprised by that and feeling pretty good.

Turned around the buoy and started back when I got off course. I thought I was doing fine but when I lifted my head, I was in the middle of the triangle. Then the panic started. I thought that I would take a little "catch my breath" break and looked for the support person around me. It was DAVE. There was no way I was going to paddle over to him and hang out there. So, I got back on course and found the next person -- a very nice girl. I hung with her for a minute and then started off again. Got off course again. This time I just swore (several times) and continued to paddle forward.

Finally, got back to where I could touch and got back on dry land. Swim time was 13:58. Sounds slow, but it was my best swim time ever for a triathlon. I was 7 out of 9 for my group.

Transitioned quickly and was off on the bike. The route was pretty much a big rectangle. We were in traffic for most of the race, although there were police at intersections and volunteers aplenty. Well, except for that first turn, where two policemen were manning the corner but not telling us to turn left. I went straight for about 100 feet and then figured it out.

Course was pretty flat, but did have some long gradual hills and a couple of biggies. Dropped my water bottle once and debated picking it up. It was one from a previous tri and has sentimental value, so I turned around and picked it up. Good thing, because apparently, for sanctioned events, there is a two-minute penalty for littering and dropping your water bottle counts as littering!

Finished the bike (13 miles) in 52.38, and 7 out of 9 in my group again. Again, a pretty quick transition -- popped a Cliff Block Shot, got my hat on and then off for the run.

Problems started from the get-go. Had to use the bathroom; found a portapotty. I was wearing my new trisuit, which I love, but is a one piece, so had to wiggle out of that (as opposed to just dropping my drawers...). Quads were squawking, so walked to loosen them up. Then there was the sun. Hot, high and roasting. Very little shade on the course. I did not run well at all. I also think I ran out of gas, having planned my nutrition for a 7:30 start, not an 8:45 start.

I just kept moving forward and was feeling better after about mile 2. One mile to go, back through a shaded parkway (thank heavens!) and then the finish line.

Crappy run time of 37.04 and 9 out of 9 in my group. Whaddya do?

Well, since hindsight IS 20/20, what I do is get my mental stuff together for LifeTime and train the best I can this week. It's a much longer course; we probably won't be able to wear wetsuits; it will probably be hot.

All in all, I am pretty proud of my results and the day.

Think I'll go for a bike ride now.....

Saturday, July 1, 2006

MinneResults from MinneMan

Here is the MinneVersion:

I PR-ed my Sprint distance time by 5 minutes. (PR= Personal Record).

Naturally, none of the Sprint distances for the races I did last year were of consistant value:
Buffalo was 0.25 mile swim (s)/ 12 mile bike (b)/ 3 mile run (r);
LifeTime Sprint was 0.4 s/15 mile b/3 mile r;
St. Croix Valley Sprint was 0.3 mile s/ 10 mile b/ 4 mile r.

Today the distance was .03 s/ 13 b/ 3 r ---- still, beat my best time from last year by 5 minutes.

Go me!

I'll post an actual race report -- with all the exciting detail -- as soon as "official" results are posted.