Friday, May 16, 2008

Here's a crazy idea...

I'm not going to be able to make the Race for the Pennant this year. You see, it isn't happening on Memorial Day weekend, which I didn't expect, and the weekend that it *is* happening, well, let's just say it is a big deal at work, and I'll be working both Saturday and Sunday, so it is a no-go...

Buuuuut, I've gotten this idea. You see, hubby and I are road-tripping to Chicago starting June 5th, so I was thinking, why not do some 5K road races along the way. So what about...

Harbortown 5K, Memphis TN, 7pm on Friday 6/6.
Science Center Run for the Stars 10K/5K, St. Louis MO, 8am on Saturday 6/7.
Indian Boundary YMCA Commit to be Fit 10K/5K, Downer's Grove (Chicago) IL, 8am on Sunday 6/8.

Followed, of course, by a week of Chicago-style pizza and sloth.

I'm likin' it...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blogging it makes it real...

Or maybe my terror makes it real enough.

OMG, What have I gotten myself in to?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fartleks In Utero

This morning I woke up really really tired. I did *not* want to get out of bed. I convinced myself because it is Wednesday, and if I can just make it through this morning, tomorrow morning I can sleep a little later on my "swim only" morning, and then it'll be Friday!

So I finally dragged myself out of bed, dressed, and went upstairs to get my Garmin, where it was charging overnight. Press power, and , nothing. Nothing! Confused, push power again. Nothing. Go back over to the charger, place Garmin on it, and nothing. ARGH!!! Finally I decide to run without the technology, silencing a little voice that told me that that was my second warning to get back in bed.

Warning number 3, you ask? Simple. That was just stepping outside, because oh, buddy, it must have been in the upper 70's, and so freaking humid it felt like I was breathing liquid. I knew then, that this run was going to suck.

Nevertheless, I walked my warm-up, and gamely started jogging. After about half a mile, I decided I'd run the first mile, then turn the run into a fartlek-type interval workout where I'd run hard to a set point, then walk a bit, then run hard again. That's exactly what I did. It took me 45 minutes to go 3.5 miles, but I think the running segments were good and hard (based on RPE, no Garmin, grr), and I focused on not losing my running form.

This spring has been really tough on me... last year I didn't really start running until it was already a bit warm, so I didn't have to go through the transition of cold to hot, which frankly sucks. I keep reminding myself that I could run 3 miles without walking last May/June/July, and surely soon I'll acclimate sufficiently to the heat to bring some no-walking back. Blarg.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Public Restrooms

When an architect or builder designs a bathroom, why is it that they don't offset the sewer out-hole for the toilet line based on the knowledge that there will be a toilet paper holder on one wall or the other of the stall? You know what I mean - those bathrooms where your arm is rubbing up against the toilet paper holder while you are sitting...

When an architect or builder designs the bathroom, why do they not leave more than 6 inches of clearance between the toilet and the area where the stall door will be, knowing that the toilet paper holder will by Murphy's Law be on the side where the user will need clearance to simply get in the stall? Again, we've all been in those bathrooms where you open the stall door, stand up on your tippy-toes pressed against the toilet paper holder and suck in your gut to close the stall door passed your body. Seriously, what do people who weigh more than 150 pounds do if I can barely get in??


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Or Die Trying

This past weekend, I met a 68 year-old Boston marathoner.

I was asking him all about being fast (he beat me by almost 5 minutes at the Bellaire Run!) and about Boston and about marathon training.

He asked me about my first tri.

And about the man that died at the CB&I this past weekend. Ever since I found out, I can't help but think that I must have swum right past him. I mean, I know I passed several men... and now in my memory I have a vague flitting feeling that I heard a lifeguard say, at some point, "Are you ok?". I know I saw the ambulances go by as I was on the bike course. My sympathy goes out to the family of Randolph Parnell. It is such a sad sad thing to lose a loved one unexpectedly in the prime of life.

The sage marathoner looked at me rather shrewdly and mentioned that he intends to start one more race than he finishes. Indeed.

Monday, May 5, 2008

CB&I Triathlon Race Report

The long verson:

When the alarm went off at 4am, I woke up feeling *terrible*, just awful. I had a head-splitting headache, one of the worst I could remember in years! My stomach was also rebeling: I had diahrrea 4 times before leaving the house, and twice more at the race. On the way up to the Woodlands, I almost had to get Preston to pull over so I could vomit! I've had pre-race jitters before, but this was the worst!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I woke up feeling all crappy, but immediately downed some of my Bolthouse Farms Moccha Cappuccino to get things moving, if you will. I ate an English muffin with the intention of chasing it with a Snickers marathon bar, but it was all I could do to choke the muffin down, so I threw the bar in my transition bag.

I had checked my bike in the night before and packed my transition bag, so as soon as I thought my stomach was reasonably empty, we headed up to the Woodlands.

We parked in the spectator lot and walked along the peaceful waters to transition. The ducks/geese were sleeping, and the lights were mobbed by bugs, which at that hour seemed eerily beautiful.

I settled Preston in where he could see me tooling around in transition, got body marked, and went in. My bicicleta was fine, the rain hadn't come the night before, so I removed her plastic bags and she was ready to go. I unrolled the towel that I brought with me, really appropriately, it has a rainbow and a smiley face and says "Have a happy day!". I think it will be my official tri towel from now on. I set up my bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, everything on it.

Then I discovered the joys of a one-piece tri-suit in a dark porta-potty. (Body markings marked it up real good, too.)

Then I hung out with Preston again, used the porta-john again, grabbed my goggles and swimcap and headed over for the festivities to begin. I was practically dancing around with nervous energy as the first wave of men took to the water, waited for the gun, and were off! The sun was just peeking over the horizon as the race started. The water temp, by the way, was 76 degrees, wetsuit legal, but there weren't many wetsuits, probably because most didn't expect the temperature to go down a few degrees from last week, and also because an e-mail went out a few days before from race directors that there would be no wetsuit stripper volunteers even if wetsuits were legal. I watched the next two waves start, then moved over to watch the transitions begin before I got in line with my wave - the first wave of women.
It seemed then that things began to happen more quickly. I got in line, then soon we were being herded over the timing mat and into the (cold) water. I made my first mistake here: I chose to line up in the very back of my wave, but along the bouy line to hopefully avoid the beatdown at the start. This logic would have been fine if I were a slower swimmer, but it seems I've managed to claw my way up to middle-of-the-pack since February, and therefore I was having to pass breast-strokers. Not.Fun. And slowed me down. Anyways, lesson learned. Next time I'm thinking middle of the pack in depth, but perhaps off the bouy line a bit. We'll see how that goes.

Anyways, before I knew it I was up and out of the water and running to transition where I discovered my second mistake: I forgot to take the plastic protector thingies off my bike shoes and I fumbled around with that for too long. Otherwise it was pretty smooth, though way too slow. I managed to mount my bike without falling down, and so the ride began.

The ride was uneventful, but waaaaaaay too slow. I got passed by everyone and her mother out on the bike course. I kept fighting to up my pace, but I just didn't have anything more in my legs. I felt like almost the entire ride was a false flat with a fierce headwind - just struggling to even go slow! I also struggled with knowing how far 3 bike lengths is to avoid drafting. I am sure I erred on the side of being way too far off the wheel in front of me, and I do think that worrying if I was far enough back and trying to be "overtaken" properly hurt my speed. All of this is stuff that I can improve on, though, and I made my goal of finishing the bike in under one hour, so I was really pleased even though I'm already looking at how to get better. I really think a trainer will help: the other thing I noticed is that there was no place in the race where I wanted to stop pedaling and just coast for a second like I do when I'm biking in the neighborhood. I think time on a trainer will increase my "don't stop" stamina. I need to look into some gloves, or something, because my hands kept falling asleep, and I need to look into my fit and practice proper positioning, because every time I thought about it I realized that my shoulders were trying to climb on top of my head... Oh, and the other thing is that I need more time on a bike in my tri suit because my rear end got seriously sore! Lots to work on here as the bike was by far my weakest leg and the one where I could gain the most time with improvements.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I finished the bike leg, gratefully and not-so-gracefully dismounted, and ran into transition. No real mistakes here, just too much slowness, and off to the run.
The run was by far my strongest leg! I started running right out of transition, not trying to be fast, but just to run the mike legs off. I *immediately* started passing lots of people, which was really cool after the mental beatdown that being passed so much on the bike was. I decided to walk through all 3 aid stations to get some water, but otherwise I was committed to running the whole thing. I'd just pick out a target and pass them. The one frustrating thing was that the multisport setting on my Garmin doesn't show pace, so it wasn't until the first mile that I realized that I was actually booking it: 8:11 on the first mile! I can't even describe how cool a feeling that was. I actually had to look at the Garmin about 3 times to confirm that I wasn't delirious! After that, it was all just about holding the pace to the end. Second mile was just a tad slower, but still in the 8's. In the third mile the wheels were starting to come off, and rightfully so. 9:05. I could totally care less at that point, though, because I could see the finish line, and I knew at that point that I was going to easily break 1:45 - which was really secretly my goal #3. I could not wipe the smile off my face.
So, for the numbers:
Swim: 11:59.9 (27/51 age)
Pace: 2:24
T1: 2:19.4
Bike: 54:08.5 (32/51 age)
Pace: 16.6 mph
T2: 1:55.0
Run: 26:54.4 (21/51 age)
Pace: 8:37 min/mi
Total: 1:37:17.3 (25/51 age)
The race itself was well run, the volunteers were awesome, the food was yummy, the night before bike check-in was really convenient... can't say enough positive things about the race.
For my first tri, this was awesome. I was thrilled with the race and I am thrilled with the results. I've already updated my side bar with a whole bunch of other races I'd like to do this year - I'm totally hooked!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Tri'd

I did it.

500 meters swum, 15 miles biked, and 5k ran in 1:37:17.

Full race recap to come.

Friday, May 2, 2008


First tri tomorrow.

Freaking out.

Bike all checked in, chip obtained. Alarm set, bag packed. Checked, rechecked. Nervous.

Must go to sleep: goals first.
1. Finish.
2. Finish in under 2 hours.

That's it. First time, after all.

Must sleep. Quiet, restless mind....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm an athlete?

Yesterday a colleague said to me, "You know, Amber, I didn't know you were an athlete until I heard you talking today at lunch."

I'm an athlete??

I don't think of myself as such. When I expressed this to both my colleague and my husband, they questioned me. I don't know if I can clearly articulate it, but I just haven't ever seen myself as an athlete. As a child, I was a dancer. I hated anything traditionally athletic. I hated to sweat. I'd much prefer to curl up with a book than to run, bike, or swim (though swimming was always my favorite...). In college I found I enjoyed lifting weights, and I started running, but more as a means to an end. The exercise was the means to avoid a fat (rear) end. Then I got a job and stopped exercising and gained 25 pounds. So when I began exercising again, again it was just to lose weight and get fit. An unpleasant punishment for my sloth.

So at what point does one become an athlete? (Substitute your own term here: runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete.) I've often heard the argument that the difference between a runner and a jogger is a race entry form. If so, then I'm a runner. And I have, in a way, started thinking of myself as a runner. If the intent is to compete, then that is a recent development, because until 2008, I was not competitive, even in my age group. I am just as startled as everyone who knows me (perhaps more) that that seems to be changing with my 4th in age at the Mardi Gras 10K, and 6th in age at the Trolley Run that honestly would place me in many age groups in various smaller races around here. So I guess if racing with intent to compete makes me a runner, then I am a runner. If the measurement is based on obsession, than I surely am an athlete.

So why don't I think of myself as an athlete?