Friday, June 26, 2009

Past and Present

Unless you live in a cave or do not have access to any electronic device at all, you know that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died yesterday.

Both had significant impacts on my life, whether I liked it or not:

1971: I'm in 7th grade -- Mr. Rotinni's class: In addition to having to do the dreaded President's Physical Fitness test (which I always hated, being on of the two fat kids in class...), our gym teacher taught a segment on Square Dancing.

She'd partner up boys and girls and we'd square dance the hour away -- well sort of. The boys, who decided all the girls must have cooties, would pull the sleeves of their shirts over their hands so they wouldn't have to touch us.

Then, during doe-se-do, while we were supposed to dance in a circle with our arms/hands linked to our partners, the boys would add a little "whip the tail" in to the dance by releasing us, pretty much hurling us in to the wall.

Mr. Rotinni heard of these adventures and was very disappointed in us. So disappointed that one morning he made us move our desks to the side of the classroom to open a big, wide space, right there in the middle of the classroom.

Then, he made us square dance -- holding hands and being polite and everything! (At least we didn't have do do math...)

Something very strange happened that morning.

The boys decided the girls weren't so bad after all. As a matter of fact, the very next day, someone in class (I forget who), invited us over to her house after school for a "party" . A SLOW DANCE party.

So we showed up and slow danced the afternoon away. After that, we probably had slow dance parties at some one's house at least once per week. It was 7th grade heaven.

One of the songs that I remember from those days was "I'll Be There", by the Jackson 5. I LOOOVEED that song and especially LOOOVEED that song when one of the boys I had a crush on would ask me to dance while it was playing.

I have fond, fond memories of those parties and thank Michael Jackson for singing that song.
1976 -- I'm a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison: I'm 17 (started college early). I'm wandering up State Street after class, feeling overwhelmed and lost in a sea of 40,000 other students.

I walked past a poster store and saw it hanging in all it's red swimming suit glory: The FARRAH poster. Megawatt smile, mountain of hair and that swimming suit. I pretty sure my reaction was to just stop and stare. I'm sure I thought to myself "shit. great."

Feeling already lost and insecure, overweight and struggling with an eating disorder, there was no way I could measure up to that image. And every freshman boy in Madison and across the country had that image hanging up in their dorm room. Great.

I hated her.

Well, obviously, time passed and I got over my issues with food AND Farrah, thank heavens.

I grew to appreciate her talent ("Burning Bed", "The Apostle") and fell in love with her after watching the documentary of her fighting her battle with cancer.

She seemed like a genuinely caring and kind person. I'm sorry she lost her fight.

Present: Rochester Triathlon is Sunday. Olympic distance. It will be my second year participating. I'm ready for the swim and the bike. I'm still struggling a bit with my run. BUT, I'll be participating with my friend Nat and we'll have some fun.

We'll also be on the look out for Beth to wish her happy trials out there at the event.

My plan for when I'm out there hobbling through the 6.2 mile run will be to take my mind off my tight quads by fondly remembering Slow Dance Parties and life at Madison.

And being grateful for being alive.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ms. 60 goes Aero...

Minnetoka Tri was today. First time doing this event and I had a blast.

I'm really have so much fun doing triathlons. I enjoy the activities, the events and the courses. It is also fun to watch other competitors. I'm sorry I didn't discover this sport sooner, but... it is what it is.

Sometimes I worry about the time that I'll have to give up participating. At some point, I'll either be too slow, or just tooooo old to be spending a lot of time in performance wear.

Having said that, there are plenty of people in their 50's that compete. Even 60's and older are out there on the course. So if they can, I can (God willing).

The weather was much, much better today than two weeks ago when I bagged on New Bri tri. Then, it was cold (41 degrees air temp) and rainy.

Today was very was sunny and warm. Summer has finally, finally arrived!

Hubby is away on a business trip, so I went to the event solo, which was a little lonely. I set up in transition, went to the portapotty about a million times, got on my wetsuit and followed the masses to the start.

I stared at the lake for a little while, turned around and there was Nat. She had come to see me do the swim. I was very happy to see a friendly, familiar face. It was great that she showed up for me.

I was a little nervous about the swim. Not about the mechanics of the swim, but about the water temperature. My fears were for naught. The water was crisp, but with the help of my wetsuit for my core, I was just fine.

The swim is a little different than other tris. Instead of being an out and back, the course runs parallel to the shore line. I was in the last wave -- got in the water, started swimming and didn't stop once.

Not stopping is still a big deal for me. Not long ago (like last year...), I'd have to stop, re-adjust my goggles; let some of the stronger swimmers get by me and relax.

Then I had my "no stop" break through last year and it has been smooth sailing, or shall I say swimming, ever since.

I got through the 1/2 mile swim in just over 17 minutes. Not tooo fast, but certainly not tooo slow. I passed people from different waves, felt strong and just did my thing. I was very happy with my time.

Transition One (T1) was a little putzy. I was a little dizzy coming out of the lake (normal from rolling side to side in the water). I got tangled in my wetsuit but eventually got it together and got on the bike and out on the course.

The bike course was pretty, but hilly. Hillier than Chisago's 1/2 iron course. As I was getting out on to the course, this woman zipped right past me. Her age, according to her leg, was 60. She rocketed by me on her slick tri bike and immediately got in to aero position.

All I could think was "you GO, Ms. Thing" and "I got to get me another bike!".

We rode from the lake through Excelsior and out to Lake Ann Park (site of my "no stop" swim break through) and around that area.

I felt pretty fast and strong, although some of the hills were tough. Still, I passed plenty of people -- who then passed me when my chain slipped off. Twice.

After I finally got the chain back on, I caught up to and passed the posse, bringing myself in to T2 in under an hour.

Quick change of shoes and out to the run. My legs were stiff -- hills and just general stiffness, so I was slow going getting to the actual "running" part.

Eventually I got it together and started to run. I was slow, but got through it. Again, passing plenty of people, which is highly unusual for me.

At one point, I saw a familiar leg: it was Ms. 60, just ahead of me.

I decided to smoke her, which I did. (Evil grin).

I pulled in to the finish line at 1:53:48, which I believe is a PR for me for this distance.

Next up, Rochester Oly on June 27th.

So GLAD tri season is hear!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Previewing Chisago's 1/2 Iron Ride

Yesterday, Nat, Gary, Mary K and I drove up to the site of the Chisago 1/2 Iron race.

The bike shop that is sponsoring the event hosts three preview rides of both the Sprint and 1/2 Iron courses. This is a wonderful perk and we were glad to be able to see/ride/feel the course before the event on July 26th.

There were about 40 riders in total, but the majority of people were going out on the Sprint course. Our day was going to be a little "longer" -- like twice the mileage.

We drove up to the course venue (about 1 hour away from Minneapolis) at 6:30 am. It was nice to see the park and the lake. Before the ride, we went down to the beach to check out the water temp.


Also checked out the water level.


Also checked out the water clarity.


Should make for a fun swim in six weeks!

We started biking at about 8:15 am. The speedy bikers (with "real tri bikes") dusted us at about mile 3 and then we just did our own thing.

Mary and I had to cut the ride a bit short (pulling off about mile 45). We had to get back to the city for a couple appointments. We picked up Nat at mile 53 (SOOO close to the end) and drove back. Gary finished the whole course -- mucho kudos to him.

So what we learned includes:

The course is really pretty flat: Much flatter than Pigman's 1/2 iron course. There are some rolling hills, but nothing like you find in Iowa. Truth be told there is one really steep hill on the way back, but it is steep and short, so gearing down got us through it. Nat reports that there is a second steep hill on somewhere after mile 45 but before mile 53...Note taken.

Oh yeah: Nutrition: Despite each of us being experienced marathoners and/or triathletes, none of us remembered to bring any thing to eat while we were on the course. Fortunately, our new best friend, Joe (who works at the bike shop and provided sag support), carried a bunch of mini Clif bars with him and handed them out like candy.

Pedaling in to the wind is H A R D: Oh yeah (part two). I felt like I was flying like the wind for the first half of the course. Then we turned around. WIND. That sure took the smug out of my mug pretty fast.

We are going to make it: If nothing else, previewing the ride helped our confidence for the race in July. We may be slow, we may not be pretty out there, but we will finish the race.

Today's training plan called for yet another hour on the bike followed by a 30-minute run. Gary, Nat and I slogged it out this morning -- and now, I'm pooped!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I am a Wuss

My first outdoor tri of the year was today, except I wasn't in it.

We had a very unusual cold snap roll through last night, bringing lots of cold rain along with it.

Although I had my gear all packed last night, when I woke up this morning and it was 41 degrees, I looked at Hubby and said, "That is two degrees too close to the 30s" -- I'm not getting in the lake".

My friends and I had tried a brief open water swim last weekend and the water temps were "brisk" to say the least.

It may have been one thing to swim .4 of a mile in cold water, but this tri has a 1/2 mile swim, which takes me a bit of time to complete.

The thought of following that with a 14-mile bike ride (while wet) and then a 3-mile run just wasn't cutting it for me.

I may have let my mind get the best of me, but I do have at least one "good" excuse:

I may have a bit of Raynaud's disease. (I'm still in denial about probably having it, as I have the symptoms -- lose circulation in my fingers while I'm running in the winter ; they go white and get a little numb. It can take quite a while for them to get pink again. I have to wear both mittens and gloves to keep my fingers toasty... I'm in denial because I don't like to think of myself having "issues".)

Although this primarily only happens in the winter, symptoms do crop up if I get overly cold.

I was worried that swimming in the cold water would trip the trigger, causing me to lose circulation, which would be very hard to get back on the bike (also making holding on to the handle bars or breaking problematic) or the on run, where it would just be annoying.

So, I bagged the tri. There were 435 people signed up and, according to the race results, only 87 were DNS. That means the majority of people braved the elements and competed.

I really felt like a wuss after learning that.

The only redeeming thing about this whole day was that I did do a tri (of sorts). I covered the same distances from the indoor comfort of my health club.

I swam .5 miles; rode a spin bike for one-hour (surely covering 14 miles) and then ran for 3. I felt good, had circulation in my hands the whole time.

Tomorrow, my friends Nat, Marcia, Gary, Mary S and a new friend, Joe, are scheduled to do Buffalo. (.4 swim/13 bike/ 3 run). The weather is supposed to be much more cooperative for their event.

I'll be there to cheer them on.

I just won't have a spiffy new tee shirt to wear...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NY = No Go, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime???

So, lottery results are in for New York, but alas, I am not.

I have at least one friend who IS in, but I'll wait for Friend X to let the world know...

I'm bummed, but not totally hopeless.

I could potentially get in by being a Charity Runner. I'll be mulling over this option for a day or two and then decide.

There is a part of me that says "Okay, you didn't get in. Let the chips lie where they may".

Another part says "HEY! You are only getting older. You want to try to get in to NY next year AND potentially do IM WI? What are you, TWENTY? New York is already expensive, why not just buck up and run for a good cause???"

In the meantime:

I'm wrapping up my time here in Charlotte. I've been here on business the last few days. Nice city, polite people, interesting downtown. Loooove the weather. Hot, humid -- just my cup of tea.

Not so much back in Minneapolis, where the temps have been "reasonable" but the evenings still chilly.

My first outdoor tri is Saturday -- yes, THIS Saturday -- and I'm already preparing my list of "I won't do the event if..." list.

The first big IF is IF there is still ice on the lake.

Ha ha.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Giving Back and Cold Water

I've participated in a lot of events over the last decade. Marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5K, tris of all distances.

They are a ton of fun to participate in and, as race directors and organizers will tell you, a lot of work to put together.

I've also tried to do my best to "give back" by volunteering at a few events each year. I love doing it. I get a different perspective on the event, of the participants and feel like I make a difference to a runner or triathlete when I'm able to look 'em in the eye and say:

"Nice job, 5624", or

"Way to go, 623", or

"You've got this 7822".

I had my first chance to give back yesterday as a volunteer for the first Minneapolis Marathon. I worked the finish line for both the 1/2 marathon and marathon and had a blast.

It is always such a rush to see the faces of all the finishers: the people who've just run their PR beam. The one's who are doing this as "just another Sunday" cock their head as they gaze at their watches and usually give a knowing smirk. The first timers are my favorites, though. They smile from ear to ear and just look sooooo happy with themselves.
Even the folks who end up with a time that they aren't happy with are interesting to observe. Some take in the news with the grace of understanding that, for what ever reasons, the Gods of Running did not smile kindly upon them that day...
Others beat themselves up for not making the mark. You can just see their own disappointment in their eyes and posture.
The other selfish reason I like volunteering is that I leave the event re-energized and excited to be part of the running/tri communities.

So I got all revved up after the event and I was lucky to be able to meet my friends Marcia and Gary for a quick run around the lake and then our first dip in the lake.
Our first events of the summer are coming up this weekend. It was time to get in the lake for a quick feel of temps and to remember what it's like to not have lane lines.

I'm not sure any of us were expecting the lake to be THAT cold. And I mean cold! I had my wet suit on; Marcia and Gary braved the chilly water without theirs.
Maybe all the volunteers for next week's events could send a little volunteer warmth by way of New Brighton and Buffalo so all the triathletes can have a warmer swim...