Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Was A Fish In My Last Life

I just had to be. I LOVE the water. I LOVE swimming... LOVE. IT.

Apart from the fact that I've slept thru both my morning swims this week, swimming is the best. Before you go all "that's-scandalous-where's-your-accountability?" on me, let me assure you that my masters team also meets in the evening and I went Tuesday evening, I'm going tonight, and I had open water swims last Friday evening and last night. The lake wins over the pool, HANDS DOWN. It's so amazing to be out there... I can't wait to do more.

Last night Maintenance Girl and I met on short notice and got probably about 1500 yards in. From the beach at the lake, we've discovered about 5 swimming floats and a buoy - all about 20 yards out from the shore and anchored in about 7 feet of water - that are around 200 yards apart. We discovered that we can "float hop" quite nicely, regrouping at each float...and 200 yards at a shot is plenty of time to get in a good groove and practice each component of open water swimming. Once we got to the 5th float, we turned around and hopped back. It's also a good way to stay out of the way of motorboats. Last night I was focusing on breathing and sighting to my weak side. It was so quiet and peaceful... it rained all day long and was still a little drizzly but totally calm and misty. Kind of an out-of-body experience. The light was ethereal... wow. It was the kind of evening that makes you glad to be alive, to be living, to be OUT there. I want to go again RIGHT NOW.

Alas, tonight I will venture to the pool for an hour. I did have an amazing pool swim on Tuesday evening was a small crowd and I actually had my own lane. The practice was especially fun and might interest some of you who don't have access to open water. It was an open water simulation designed for a 1500 yard open water swim and it went like this:

Warmup on your own for 10 minutes

Tri set: 4 x 25 EZ, sight every stroke as if you're in open water
Main Set:
6 x 100 yds with :25 seconds of rest after each 100. Pick a pace that you can manage pretty easily, as if you were pacing yourself for a 1500 yard swim. Hold your times. I picked a 1:40 and held about 1:36-1:40 throughout so I started on a 2:05 interval (1:40 + :25 seconds).

100 EZ recovery with fins, dolphin kick on your back or stomach

5 x 100 yds with :20 seconds rest. Hold your same time as above, even though you're getting less rest. This simulates race fatigue... hopefully the pace you picked is still manageable. I swam on a 2:00 interval.

100 EZ recovery with fins,

4 x 100 yds with :15 seconds rest. Hold your times. Push yourself on the last two as if you're passing the last people in the wave ahead of you, finish strong. (1:55 interval)

100-200 warmdown

This felt really good. I think I'm finally getting a handle on my left hand catch/pull problem and that free speed I was talking about is showing up as a few extra seconds per 100. Cool.

Heading to the ocean this weekend...looking forward to an open water ocean swim!!! Apart from the salt water, should be just as nice!

Train hard!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Da Big 3-4

June 25, my favorite day. It's always beautiful and sunny and hot - and right now I'm on my front porch, ON LINE because my honey got me an amazing AirPort Extreme Base Station for my birthday so now we're WIRELESS baby!!! OK, still dial-up wireless, but wireless no less. We picked about 40 lbs. of strawberries yesterday and will spend awhile cleaning and freezing them, staking tomatoes, watering everyone and then heading out to the pond for some swimming and cooling off. And eating cake.

Tempo run of the Fairlee course around the lake yesterday - stats went like this... WB said I had to come in under 55 minutes and predicted 52...

Mile 1 - 9:56 (first sub 10 min mile in three years!!!) avg HR 153
Mile 2 - 10:20 avg HR 156
Mile 3 - ouch - 10:54 avg HR 156
Mile 4 - 10:41 avg HR 160
Mile 5 - 9:12 avg HR 161, max 169...obviously this mile is short but I stopped the watch exactly where the chute ends with the finishing mat. My anaerobic threshold seems to be right around 162 at this point...the last two miles didn't feel all that great.
Total time, not including warmup: 51:04

Lance Armstrong-Like assault on Thetford Hill, TWICE, today...wish me luck!!!

And I hope everyone who's racing has a FANTASTIC DAY!!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Enough is Enough

I had a bit of a meltdown last night. I was only minor and I managed to not piss off everyone in my general vicinity but I can certainly tell that by the end of the day I'm really tired. I'm mostly over it as I got a good night's sleep but it was just one of those things that reminded me that I have a long way to go and unless I take myself seriously, I can't expect anyone else to.

See, a little note whizzed into my in-box yesterday announcing that the pictures from last Sunday's tri were posted. Now I've been training really hard and trying my best to eat well, to fuel my body and to encourage it to burn off lots of calories. I feel great, I'm TOTALLY motivated, my clothes fit better, I've lost some pounds... but I was not prepared for these pics. I'm not posting them because I want them to be a thing of the past...if you search hard enough, I'm sure you can find them. But I was feeling all studly and fit and strong...and to see those pics just threw me back into my old self, my old way of thinking and seeing myself and I hated it. Do I REALLY look like that?? How can anyone take me seriously as a triathlete? What am I DOING out there?? Every derogatory fat kid comment I could think of went thru my mind - and a few came out of my mouth. OK, I know a lot of race photos can be really unflattering. I know this. Does that make a difference?? NO!!! UGH. STOP THE MADNESS!!!

I realized an intervention was needed immediately and I got myself to bed and picked up my copy of The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training. I don't recall exactly what I read about because I fell asleep pretty quickly but I do remember that it calmed me down and helped me realize, again, that I can be whatever I want and do whatever I set my mind's just not going to happen overnight and it's gonna take a lot of work. OK. Fine. That's what I signed up for. We've all been dealt our hand of genes...some people were handed fast metabolisms and 8% body fat. I wasn't one of them. But I sure as hell have my health, my determination and my mental toughness... and I best be getting on with taking full advantage of all three. I'm making huge gains in every arena, even mentally, so I need to focus on that. There's just no place in my training program for self flagellation. Enough is enough.

Here's another quote I have in the front of my training log. Seemed appropriate for how I felt last night:

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize. – Robert Hughes, Art Critic

Now, moving on to my next round of workouts...

Train hard, be safe and have a great weekend!!! Speedy thoughts to everyone racing!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

To Be A Champion

My speedwork run got cut short last night when I had to be rescued from the armageddon of Zeus and Xena dukin' it out in the sky. No hail but the lightning 60 feet over my head gave me pause. It was a huge bummer because I only had a short window of time to finish the run and the storm brought it to a screeching halt. Luckily I had nothing planned for this morning so I set out at 6 am to git 'er done...

It was cool and misty in the river valley and the sun was just starting to burn thru. So beautiful. I'm so lucky to be able to train up here... it was a really fun set that went like this:

5-8 min. EZ warmup jog - I felt really loose and fresh...always a good sign.

Run 1 – set the timer on my watch for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Run out for that long, then when the beeper goes off, turn immediately and head back to the start - try to make it back in 5 minutes (another 2:30). Focus was on economy, running clean and quiet (In true Weasel Boy fashion, he added, "but you’re not a kid chasing the ice cream man or anything" I guess he knows me well because I AM that kid...)

Drill set 1: Skipping
This time concentrate on skipping form. Drive your knee up as high as possible with your back leg. Really push off. 20 seconds of skipping, then walk back to where you started. Repeat this 2 more times, drink water, and you’re off again.

Run 2 – this time, set the watch for 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Run out for that amount of time, then turn, and try to get back to the start in under 5 minutes. On the way back, gradually increase your pace all the way back. Trying to find a gearbox and pace between sprinting and half marathon pace, a pace that I can hold for an Olympic distance race that I will look back on as easy-peasy, but my former-self in the past will look at as crazy fast. WB says, "Go find it!"

(This is as far as I got last night... when I did the set this morning, I started over at Run 1 after warming up)

Drill set 2: High knee jogging and butt kicking
20 seconds of high knee prancing (heel doesn’t touch the ground). Slow – it’s all about control. Follow it with another 20 seconds (still heading out) kicking your heel up toward your butt. All about the kick rather than the number of reps. Walk all the way back – lots of rest. Do another 2 sets – drink!!

Run 3 – set the watch for 2 minutes and 40 seconds (see where this is going?) Run out, turn and get back in less than 5 minutes. Should be getting out past where you got for 2:30 on run 1…

Drills set 3: Skipping
Repeat drill set 1 – get some real air!!

Run 4 – Watch goes to 2 minutes and 45 seconds. WB: "Here’s where you get to push yourself again. I don’t want you puking, but you get to know that you’re only doing this for 2 minutes 15 seconds max. Hold the speed for as long as you can – enjoy the sensation of the wind really blowing through your hair. Remember to think how cool this is and smile as much as you want while you’re chasing your slow self down." Isn't he just the best coach ever? I'm on a mission to get him clients so if you're interested, let me know...

Jog slowly for 8-10 minutes but maintain the good running form as a warmdown.


I actually didn't do the 4th Run. I REALLY wanted to - I mean who wouldn't want to enjoy the wind really blowing in your hair? But the high knee/butt kick things taxed my hammies and quads quite a bit and I was feeling like one more big push might've led me down the road of injury. I actually had to talk myself out of doing it by reminding myself how pissed I'd be if I got hurt. There's time. I'll get there. Better to do less now than trash myself in time for later. Being injured SUCKS DONKEYS!! So I jogged home slowly. I also justified it by the fact that I had done part of the practice last night. It had to be ok...

I REALLY liked this set - it was a lot like many of our swim workouts where it gets progressively harder as you get progressively more tired... but it's SO rewarding when you can get through it. I'm looking forward to the next time I get to try it because I know I'll be stronger and I'll meet the challenge head on.

JC asked how I'm able to motivate myself to do these speed workouts on my own without the pressure of a group. Truthfully, I'm not really sure but I'm not going to question it. It's so rare that something like this motivates me for more. I think right now the biggest motivator is that I can do it, I can get thru it, without pain (ok, without bad pain) and that it just makes me feel like an athlete to be out there. I have this quote in the front of my training log and I think it says a lot about what kind of athlete I'd like to be. It was written in a note from Anson Dorrance, head coach of the UNC Women's Soccer Team and former US National Team Coach to Mia Hamm, one of his UNC players at the time. He spied her from afar at 8 am on a weekend morning running wind sprints alone on the soccer field. I'm not there yet but I will be... I want to be able to answer to myself and I guess for now, this is part of the journey:

"A champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching."

Train hard and stay safe...and HAPPY SOLSTICE!!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

VT SUN Sprint Tri - RACE REPORT 2006

It's always so hard to start a race report... I'm just never sure if anyone cares what time I got going or what I had for breakfast... anyway... here it is!!!

Sunday I raced my first sprint of the season and it was a blast!! The Vermont Sun Triathlon Series sprints are a great way to start off your season. The field is usually limited to 200 participants and last year was the first year they actually used timing chips - in previous years you had to yell out your number as you ran thru transition and hope someone recorded it for you!! So it's pretty low key...and being only about 1.5 hrs. from the Upper Valley, there are usually a lot of folks from my swim team racing. It's a great time, the venue is beautiful, the bike course is gorgeous and pretty tame and the run is a flat out and back. A great way to work all the winter cobwebs out and get ready for any upcoming bigger races.

I wasn't organized enough to plan a carpool with anyone so I headed out around 5:50 after a quick whole wheat bagel with pb & j. The ride was uneventful, I listened to the 22nd episode of GYGO and giggled for most of the way... and had just enough time to play some really loud, really fun music before arriving at the state park. 1 hour, 15 minutes 'til race time. Perfect.

I spotted Emily, one of my swim teammates, who I had convinced to sign up for this race. She was fired up and ready to go... her friend Steve had come along to scope things out and had wisely decided to bring all of his gear - you know, just in case... well, 5 minutes of chat later he was convinced he could manage the swim and he saw enough mountain bikes in transition to decide that his 1980 univega 10 speed would suffice... he was off to the race-day-sign-up line and Em and I were left waiting to pick up our packets in the pre-registration line. Chip, bib, safety pins, swag bag, body marked, good to go... time to get set up. Steve got his number and was sort of looking like a deer in the headlights crossed with a kindergartener on the first day of school... terrified and excited out of his mind. It was so much fun to watch and remember having been there!!!

So then we found Jen and Britta and we all got our stuff from the cars and headed for transition. I had a pretty good spot near both entry/exit points and managed to get on the end of the rack... set all my stuff out and was ready to go. This is the point when I get antsy... there're usually 45 minutes left to stand around and that's when I start to get nervous...when I have a chance to think. One of the things that WB and I will be working out in the next three weeks is what exactly I should do for my warmup. I don't have a set routine yet... the only thing I always make sure to do is get wet so that first plunge isn't a shock. For my last several races I've also spent several minutes elevating my heart rate in some way - a short jog or a few swim sprints... it makes a huge difference at the swim start if my HR has already been high because then it doesn't spike. I have a feeling we'll be building on this concept...

So I got wet (brrrr - I'd say about 68˚F) and then headed back to transition for the pre-race announcements. Then we were off... 4 waves... men 39 and under, men 40 and over, women 34 and under (my wave) and then women 35 and over... I had warmed up in the water wearing my swim suit and my Tri Geek Dreams Tri shorts (these totally ROCK by the way), thinking I would swim in them and have one less thing to do in transition (I have yet to purchase a wetsuit...I just really want to drop this weight before investing...) Well, just as everyone started walking over to the swim start, I realized that my tri shorts were all stretched out from being wet (and one size too big) and they were seriously dragging and filling with water when I did any kind of dolphining or anything. They needed to come off. But did I have enough time? I figured at least 4 minutes before the third I jogged fast back to my bike, ditched the shorts and jogged to the start. Wave 2 was just leaving so it was all good - plus I got that opportunity to elevate my HR so I was set. I had butterflies but I was determined to not let the negative thoughts creep in. I deserved to be there. I was strong. I took an inside line on the front edge and we were off!

4 dolphins and 10 strokes in I knew I had started off too fast. I couldn't catch my breath and every time I went to breathe I got splashed and swallowed water so then I had even less air!! The first buoy was pretty close to the shore - maybe 100 yards - so I held it together until then and then took 3 breast strokes around it for the first left turn. Then fell into a much steadier rhythm of freestyle, sighting every 3 cycles and swimming pretty straight. Straighter than my last open water swim anyway... I think all the work we did this winter in the pool on not crossing over the midline on the catch helped me a TON... I didn't feel like I had to make any corrections for the whole swim...and I started gradually passing people...even wet-suited ones!! A few of the fishes from the last wave flew by me (I'm talking swordfish fast, guys...they were there and two strokes later I was eating their bubbles...) but I didn't get overtaken by the whole wave behind me this time - only by the that felt good. There were two more buoys on the left (we swam parallel to the shore) and then one more left turn and a right turn around the last buoy. I passed about 4 more people by dolphining in the waist deep water (they were wading) and was off to T1. Here's what the course looked like:

Swim time, approx. 600 yards: 11:45, 70/162 out of the water. We all agreed that the swim felt short compared to last year... my time was 15:34 last year which seems like a HUGE improvement... a look at the overall swim times showed a lot of 8 minute finishes and the fastest swim last year was 9 minutes... so I'm willing to bet I improved some and that the course was also a little short. Whatever, I'll take it!!

T1 - shorts on (ewww...wet tri shorts... won't do that again) shirt on, glasses on? - no glasses off - helmet on, socks, shoes, we're off!! 3:05. Need some work here. I feel strongly about the socks on the run so feel like I might as well wear them on the bike since it's gonna take time to get em on in either transition... the shorts are great - a little padding for the bike, protection from chub rub on the run. Might consider no shirt and just having my swim suit but how long does it take to pull the shirt over your head? My shoes take forever...two velcro straps and a ratchet buckle like a ski boot. But they're so comfy. Whatever. I think I just need to practice and make it all go smoother.

I was excited to get going on the bike as I've spent the last week working on my cadence and spinning. I passed a few mountain bikers right away (that's the beauty of this race - there are all kinds) and dropped into a steady spin in my aerobars. Slowed at the first turn and then powered up two smallish hills. Once out onto Route 7, Amelia took over. She's a Cervélo ONE for those of you who haven't been following...which means she is the bottom of the line entry level tri bike. Cervélo doesn't make the ONE anymore because it was too good a bike for the price point (just under $1000) and I think that the Dual now has the same frame. Anyhow, as a tri bike she LOOOOVVES the flats and the easy rollers and once we got out on the open road, she took off and held a 24-26 mph pace for a solid 10-15 minutes. I felt really strong and passed a whole bunch of people, picking them off like I had in the half marathon. HOWEVER, once we took the last turn, the course climbs for about 0.7 mi. - it's not a super steep climb but it's enough of a climb that I had to shift onto my smaller chain ring and all the way down to the granny gear. Now I like to think I'm tough because my granny gear is no where near as easy to climb in as bikes with 3 chain rings... but I'm about ready to throw that excuse out the door because it's just lame. I will build the strength and power I need to stay ahead of all the people I passed on the flats. I'd say at least 6 of em passed me back on that hill...and then I passed them back on the last part of the course...but still...those negative thoughts and fears about being last have no place in my racing plan... and they creep in when people I've already worked to leave in the dust pass me by again on the climbs. I WILL get stronger. Overall, I kept a high cadence (+80) for most of the course, the hills being the only exception. I drank most of my one water bottle - just plain water - and no food. It felt solid and I was determined to push as hard as I could to see how much i had left on the run.

One fun thing, as I was zooming into T2, the lead runners were just finishing and I could see the #1 guy and #2 I cruised past #2 I said in a low voice, "Dig deep, you can catch him." He had about 10 yards to make up and he didn't pull it off but he came close. It was fun to see.

Almost crashed into this chick in front of me on the dismount...she stopped right in the middle so I pulled off toward the left but as she got off she leaned way left to dismount and was right in front of me. I had slowed down enough that I was in control but a quick, "On Your LEFT!" caught her attention and she moved. Rookies!!! (Heh... )

Bike time, approx. 14 mi. bike: 50:08, 128/162 overall, avg. speed 17.7 mph (that's FAST for me!!) 6:18 faster than last year's ride. I'll take it.

T2 - I had to shove two bikes down to make room for mine, helmet off, shoes off, shoes on, hat on (I REALLY need a new hat...anyone have a favorite they'd recommend?), race belt on, out the BACK of transition this time. I realized immediately that I had forgotten to take my HRM off my bike and put it on my wrist - bummer - I use HR a lot to pace myself. Have to deal... Grabbed a quick cup of Heed and was off on the run. T2: 1:29. Not too bad...

By this time it was getting really hot and the sun was brutal. Luckily most of the run was shady... I started off with really short strides and felt like CRAP for the first 10 minutes. No cramping or particular pains, just TIRED. I think I do need to have some kind of fuel either on the bike or in T2. I'm thinking perhaps Cliff Blocks would be good to try. A sprint is just a little too long for me to have nothing. Or maybe just gatorade instead of water. I'll have to play with things over the next few weeks.

The run is out and back so I was able to see everyone I knew at some point... everyone looked great and we all shouted encouragement to each other. I started feeling better by the end of the first mile and tried to pick it up a bit. Short strides definitely help with running economy but I was feeling like there wasn't much in the tank... Only 3 miles, I kept saying...only 2 miles...only 1.5 miles...less than a mile...this is ran 13 miles!!! I didn't want to have any energy left - I would not look back and say I could've pushed harder. That's a bitter pill to swallow.... but it just took forever to get to the end. A few people passed me but that's par for the course so far. I'm working towards not letting that happen will be a great day when I don't get passed on the run. 5Ks are so much harder than half marathons because you just feel BAD the whole time. More speedwork will help that's for sure. I had Phil and Sara's cowbell mantra in my head for most of the run ("I've got a fever...") and that seemed to help! I kicked it in for the last 100 yards and finished feeling strong.

Run time, 5K: 32:55, 150/162 overall. Last year I ran 33:38. Sub 11 min. miles is a first for me in a tri... I'll take it!!!

Approximately 4 minutes later I was back in the cool lake. WOW was it hot.

Final time: 1:39:20... last year's time was 1:45:38. I think it's safe to say that I improved in all three sports but that my biking has improved the most. That's good because from now until the end of August, it's all about the bike.

I confess, my post race food was not the best - a bagel, yogurt covered pretzels, cheddar chex mix, a few oreos, gatorade and a sprite. But it'll suffice for now. We hung out and chatted in the water for a bit and then enjoyed the shade by the beach and more food for a little longer before heading home. I hadn't realized it but just before the start, Steve had gone to shift his bike into a low gear to start off and he broke the gear cable (actually it just rotted off when he touched it) he had to ride the entire 14 mile course with only ONE gear option. Crazy boy. AND he didn't have any goggles. His bike split was faster than mine too... I.NEED.MORE.POWER!!! We had a good laugh about it. Oh, and poor Jen got a flat but was able to change it pretty quickly...I'm just waiting for my turn and the curse of the Flatman. I hope it comes during a training ride and not a race...

Headed home for a Father's Day celebration with my honey's Dad, brother and nephews. Sat in the lake, stayed wet and cool for most of the afternoon and savored the last of the garbage-barge food I'd be eating for another three weeks. Time to get serious about Fairlee and my redemption.

Stay cool and TRAIN HARD!!!

Tri-Blogger Training Day!!

On Saturday I got to meet and train with a tri-blogger for the first time!!! It was AMAZING!!! TriZilla and her fantastic training partner Jo (who will have a blog soon, I'm sure of it...I'm thinkin' perhaps made the two hour trek up to Fairlee to check out the course for the Great Fairlee Triathon. We had a BLAST!!

Let me first just say that I was a little bit nervous to meet them... I think other tri-bloggers have mentioned's funny how we get this really good idea about who/how someone is from their blog but meeting them is a very surreal experience... you know that you've never met and yet you know all these things about them and feel like you know them... it's weird. Needless to say, after about the first nano-second I was no longer nervous and we just had a great time. It was totally comfortable and fun and I would highly recommend meeting up with other tri-bloggers even if you're worried it will be weird. It IS weird, but only for a minute.

So knowing I had a race on Sunday, they had agreed that we should ride the bike course super slow and take our time so as not to drain my legs of what little rest they'd accumulated... Weasel Boy had given me the ok for this as long as I took it easy... we started off with a quick tour of Fairlee and checked out the parking areas for the race and then transition. I love showing off my playground and being a tour guide and these gals were the best ...taking it all in and so appreciative about it all. Then we set off on the course, chit chatting along the way...

It was supposed to be 86˚F, hazy hot and humid but I don' t think it got above 75˚F and it was pretty much overcast...totally perfect and cool riding weather. We had a great ride (read TriZilla's account here) and I managed to keep my legs nice and loose without pushing too hard. I really struggle on the hills with only two big chain rings on the front of Amelia... but I also struggle with the concept of losing that top gearing on the flats if I were to switch to three rings. More on that later...

After the bike, I opted out of the run to continue to preserve my legs... T and Jo were gone for maybe 20 minutes and then we "transitioned" to our swim. You should have seen the car these guys had going... the back seat was a foot deep in tri gear... it was a classic case of "you know you're a triathlete when..." Totally great. We discussed taking the back seat out and it sounds like that's the plan for future races... awesome. ;) Then when we got in my car, the banana peel and empty gatorade bottles on the floor gave me away... yes, I too am a triathlete. Heh...

We did a short swim to get a feel for the lake bottom, to experience the area with Eurasian Milfoil (not all that much fun) and take a look at the transition area from the water. The water was pretty cool but it felt good after the ride... quite refreshing actually.

We capped it off with a trip to the unusually crowded market/deli across the street for sandwiches and gobbled them on the cool shady front porch. It was a day to remember.

So now I'm even MORE fired up for our race, knowing that I'll have two additional friendly faces out there on the course with me come race day. How lucky are we to have all found each other on this world wide web?

Pretty lucky, I'd say. Train hard!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

VT Sun Sprint Tri - Preliminary Results

OK, first tri of this summer: check! It went great!

Last year on this course, I finished in 1:45.38.

Today's unofficial time: 1:39.20.

6 minutes faster.

It's totally working...and I'm SO PUMPED!!!

Details tomorrow with splits and the to go to bed NOW...

Hope ya'll had a great weekend!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sunscreen Addendum

As a follow up to Bolder's post about sunscreen, I thought I'd offer up this article from US News and World Report by Linda Johnson, AP Writer. I'm pasting it here so if you want to read it three months from now you won't have to contend with a dead link... The bold text is courtesy of yours truly...

Sunscreens Faulted on Cancer Protection

Associated Press Writer

Think slathering on the highest-number sunscreen at the beach or pool will spare you skin cancer and premature wrinkles? Probably not, if you're in the sun a lot. That's because you don't need a sunburn to suffer the effects that can cause various types of skin cancer.

Sunscreens generally do a good job filtering out the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn - UVB rays. But with sunburn protection, many people get a false sense of security that keeps them under the harsh sun much longer. That adds to the risk of eventual skin cancer - both deadly melanoma and the more common and less-threatening basal and squamous cell cancers.

And most sunscreens don't defend nearly as well against the UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles. That's true even for some products labeled "broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection."

Experts say the best protection against UVA is a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone. Consumers should also look for those that are water-resistant and have an SPF of 30 or better, indicating strong protection against UVB rays, and apply liberally and often.

More important, limit time in the sun, particularly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cover up, including wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Often, product labels are confusing or bear misleading claims. For example, the SPF, or sun protection factor, refers only to defense against the less harmful UVB rays.

"I don't think people understand they're only getting protection from part of the spectrum," said Dr. Sandra Read, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "You're accumulating this damage and you don't know it."

Many sunscreens say little about when to reapply - doctors say at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Nor do they say much about how much to use, roughly two tablespoons for an adult.

"Most people who use an SPF 15 get the protection equivalent to an SPF 5 because they put it on" too thinly, said Dr. Martin A. Weinstock, chairman of the American Cancer Society's skin cancer advisory group and a Brown University professor.

While a higher SPF number means more protection, the difference is small: SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays and SPF 50, often more expensive, blocks about 98 percent.

Most sunscreens work by reacting chemically with the skin, so they don't start absorbing damaging rays right away and must be applied a half-hour before going outside, something many labels fail to note.

And claims such as "waterproof" and "sunblock" are unsupported, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which years ago proposed replacing them with the more-accurate terms "water resistant" and "sunscreen." Manufacturers, including Neutrogena Suncare maker Johnson & Johnson and Coppertone maker Schering-Plough Corp., say they haven't complied because the FDA still hasn't imposed those rules - a delay that's spawned consumer lawsuits and pressure on the FDA from Congress and the American Cancer Society.

Still, doctors say people shouldn't abandon sunscreen: They probably should use more.

"Sunscreens do protect against skin cancer," said Dr. Babar Rao, a dermatologist at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. "We definitely still need sunscreen, even on a cloudy day."

Research has shown heavy sunscreen use lowers risk of squamous skin cell cancer, which has a high cure rate if caught early. Another study found heavy sunscreen use in children reduces the number of moles, which can turn cancerous later, Weinstock noted.

In 1999, the FDA announced tougher rules for sunscreen testing and label and ad claims, to take effect in 2001. But the agency put them on hold indefinitely to do more tests, said Dr. Matthew Holman, senior scientist at the FDA's drug evaluation center.

Last fall, Congress ordered the FDA to produce the new regulations within six months through a provision added by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., in the FDA appropriations bill.

"Twenty years is long enough for the FDA to ensure that all Americans have equal access to clear, accurate and comprehensive sunscreen labeling as their first line of defense against skin cancer," Dodd said, referring to how long the agency has worked on new rules.

Holman said proposed rules could be announced this summer, but then there will be lengthy hearings and revisions. "All we can say is really years" until they take effect, he said.

This spring, a San Diego-based law firm got pending lawsuits against makers of the top sunscreens - Coppertone, Neutrogena, Playtex Products' Banana Boat, Tanning Research Laboratories' Hawaiian Tropic and Chattem Inc.'s Bullfrog - consolidated into one case in Los Angeles.

Lead lawyer Samuel Rudman, who has called the makers "Fortune 500 snake oil salesmen," said manufacturers are fraudulent in their label claims.

"Our lawsuit doesn't say, 'Don't use sunscreen.' It says, 'Tell the truth.' If people knew, they would still use it," Rudman said.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 10 California residents, also seeks damages for unspecified injuries and other restitution.

The manufacturers either declined to discuss the lawsuit or said it is without merit.

Despite public education campaigns about avoiding sun exposure and tanning salons, skin cancer incidence is climbing. There will be about 62,000 melanoma cases and 7,900 deaths this year, the American Cancer Society estimates. There are more than 1 million annual cases of squamous and basal skin cancers, and about 2,800 deaths.


American Cancer Society:

Skin Cancer Foundation:

SO, do your homework, find a sunscreen that has the most helpful UVA blockers and USE IT!! I know I will...

Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend and all good thoughts to everyone that's racing!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Big Gear

So last evening WB dished out the following workout for me to tackle. I went into it all confident and feeling like it would be easy...and when I was done I'd been humbled. Not as easy as it sounds...if you even think it sounds easy. See for yourself...

Big Gear Bike ride
The aim of the big gear is to get you pushing a bigger gear without it really costing you - it’s not supposed to toast you, just get you going a little faster. The time checks from your ride this weekend [on the Fairlee bike course] tell me what I kind of thought before – the time you spend on the hills isn’t that significant compared to the time spent on the flats. You’re more likely to save time by riding faster everywhere apart from the hills.

So, the big gear is all about gaining functional bike strength. You need to find a stretch of road that isn’t too hilly.

Ride for 10-15 minutes, spinning, just to make sure everything is working and you are warmed up. Have a drink, and get to a good flat stretch of road, and find the gear that you would normally ride so that you can keep your cadence at 70-90, and your heart rate at where you want it to be when you’re racing on the flats. Ride in this gear with this intensity for 6 minutes. Back off for 2 minutes, drink have a breather, turn round so you’re on the flat still, and move your gear to the one harder than you would normally ride. Now you have to concentrate – try and hold the same speed (at least). Check your heart rate and cadence. Don’t let the HR blow up, but it’s ok if it goes up. Don’t mash the cadence, it shouldn’t be that much lower. Do this for 6 minutes, sit up for 2 minutes. On the last repeat, crank it up one more gear. Again, speed is the same or higher, cadence is still good, HR will be higher. Hold for six minutes. Sit up, drink and warm down for at least 10 minutes. Stretch off the bike and run for 5 minutes.

WELL...I was thinking that I spend a lot of time in my biggest ring, because Amelia has only two rings and when I want to go fastest that's where I go. But I realized last night that I definitely need to work on holding my cadence steady. I know this in my brain but I guess I hadn't realized until I watched my bike computer for 40 minutes that I vary wildly from about 50 rpms to 100 rpms. Not so efficient.

I had to do 4 repeats because the place I chose to ride was about 10 minutes away - and once I got there, I kept riding in the direction away from by the time I was done with the third repeat, I was as far away from home as I ever was on the whole ride. Knowing this, I used the first repeat to experiment and see where my comfortable spin at 80 rpms first, I was sure I could handle two rings down from the smallest ring (on the rear cassette, for you bikers newbier than I)...but it turned out that I could only swing a cadence of about 70 in this ring and it was HARD. Crap...I wouldn't be able to go any higher.

So I backed off to the 5th smallest ring and started the first repeat there. Not too bad. Cadence of 80, able to hold about 20 mph on the flat.

The second repeat was a little tougher but I could still do it and my HR only went as high as 75-78%... cadence of 80 rpms, avg. 22 mph. Cool.

The last one is where things got ugly. I tried to hold it for as long as possible but there were a few small hills on this stretch of mostly flat road and I dropped as low as 55 rpms at one point. OUCH. I have sore muscles today that I only today learned that I have. I was able to hold about a 70 cadence for most of the 6 minutes and my speed fluctuated from 18 mph to 24 there's where I'll be able to judge my progress, or lack thereof, from now on. Isn't self discovery fun? I'm taking it easy tonight, taking tomorrow off, doing an easy ride on Saturday and will race my first sprint of the season Sunday. I feel good about it...

One thing I've really noticed lately is that my HR and aerobic fitness are not limiting me much at all. It's all strength that I need to build right now. I was going as hard as my legs could go on the last repeat and my HR wasn't even to 80%...or ever NEAR my lactate threshold. I suspect my heart and lungs are stronger from swimming and all the breath control stuff we do... but also that my strength is lacking in relation. Nice to know what direction to focus though, eh? I feel good about it.

Next time I get on my bike, I'll just picture Lisa Bentley on her Cervélo and imagine that someday I'll get where I want to be...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Sorry I was gone for so long...I sort of missed last week as it whizzed by in a blur of half marathon recovery, an unexpected family gathering (and consequent two day trip to RI), a day of sleep and rest and a weekend of visitors. The pace of life in the summertime never ceases to amaze me. How we pack it all into a day is beyond me. Sometimes I feel like I can hardly keep up. Thus the quiet and crickets chirping over here at 2/3rds the vent...

Anyway, I'm all recovered from the race and feeling really good. Had a bit of a meltdown on Thursday last when I got up at 5 am to swim, got dressed, got all the way to the door, turned around and went back to bed. But that was the extent of it and now I'm good. Two good rides this weekend and one mediocre run and I'm back at it.

So, one thing you might or might not know is that Weasel Boy moved to Ireland in December (he's an englishman but his lovely wife is Irish). Gone was/is my awesome swimming and training partner. Alas, thru the magic of the internet and gmail, we've been able to chat almost every day and it's almost as if he never left. One day at the end of April it dawned on me that I had one month to finish getting ready for the half marathon I just ran, and I needed a plan. Almost jokingly, I asked the Weasel if he'd be interested in writing a plan for me for the month of May. He said yes and thus began a month of run training that got me thru my half marathon a screaming 30 minutes faster than last year. I did the work, but I owe the plan entirely to him.

Fast forward to the last week in May, just before the race...I again half jokingly asked if he'd like to take a stab at the month of June to get me ready for the Fairlee Tri on July 9th. He said yes again!!! Ladies and gents, I have a coach. A free coach! Well, not totally free, I have an obligation to spoil the crap out of his first born child, but essentially free. WB is looking for a good job in Bio Med research (yeah, he's one of those over-achiever, super smart, PhD kinda guys) so he has a little extra time on his hands - and he's willing to spend it on me!! What a great friend. (BTW, if you live in Ireland - Belfast area - and need someone to fill a position in biomedical research, he's your man).

So, Monday began cycle one leading up to my sprint tri this coming Sunday. The plan started with a prelude that included this bit of advice:

I think where you stand at this point is that you have all the endurance you need for an Olympic distance race. 1500m swim is no problem, you can cycle 25 miles in your sleep, and you just cruised a half marathon. Don’t take this as criticism, but your limiter is your willingness or ability to hurt yourself just a little when you’re training. I’m not saying you have to push yourself ragged every time you train, but you are at the point where you have to start experimenting with intensity, so that you can separate yourself from “finishing” and move on to “racing.” I’m not saying you are a failure if you don’t come in the top three, but you have enough experience and hours and miles under your belt to allow yourself to start to push a little, start to finesse the art of racing.

He could not have said it more exactly... this is what I've been struggling with for a long time now. Pushing until it hurts is my limiter. I think I spent so much time in my high school and college years injured that I'm afraid to push that hard because I'm sure it will take me out of the game. So, given that WB did such a good job of assessing my abilities in preparation for the half, I'm trusting him totally to move me to the next level. Here's what last night's speedwork session looked like:

warmup: ~7 minutes
EZ stretch

lap 1 (0.8 mi.) faster than ½ marathon pace, but not all out - think about posture, stand tall, think about moving yourself forward without moving up and down. Think economy.

Drill set 1: Skipping
Skip for 15 seconds – walk back to where you started. Skip again for 15 seconds, walk back, skip again, walk back. Have a quick drink then you’re off again.

lap 2 (0.8 mi.) again, pick up the pace, concentrate on experimenting with your economy again. Shift things around – see what feels good, what doesn’t.

Drill set 2: Strides
20 seconds of striding – not all out, but you’re pushing the pace. I want you to find yourself some gears. Walk back slowly to where you started. Do this another two times (drinking as much as you want) then off again.

lap 3 (0.8 mi.) dig in here. I know you’ll be tired and puffing – and if you’re not WHY NOT ?!?!?! - but now is the time to focus. Concentrate on keeping your form good through this last lap.

Drill set 3 - repeat skipping set 1

EZ jog home and stretch

total time: 40:36, not including the warmup or warmdown.

I was a little sore by the end so stretched a lot and sat with some ice packs while I ate my dinner...but today I feel good - strong, not sore. How freakin' lucky am I? My own personal Weasel Coach. One confession - I feel a little guilty about the fact that I'm not doing it myself - planning and holding myself accountable - but I'm looking at it as baby steps right now. I need someone to push me, to have faith in me where I don't have faith in myself. I'm hoping my confidence will build as a result and I'll finally be able to take the reigns. For now, it has to be enough just to follow the plan...

So Weasel, if you're reading, you rock dude. I'm fired up and can't wait to see the results...

Train hard!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Official Finishing Time - CBHM, 2006


Scott!!! YOU WIN THE NEW HEADER!!! Scott guessed 2:24:42, only slightly closer to my net time than Weasel Boy who guessed 2:24:35. Scott, send me your email address (click on my profile to get my email address if you don't want to post yours in the comments...) and get ready for a fancy new header!!!

Thanks to everyone who played... here are the official results if you're interested... A few more stats for you:

Based on Gun time, my time was 2:28:40 and I was 1490/1621.
On Net time though, I was 2:26:46, 1486/1621. So there were 135 people behind me.
Last year I finished 1535 out of 1586...only 51 people behind me. Cool. I think, after 4 years of racing and never being last yet, I can put that fear behind me...unless of course something goes drastically wrong...which is always possible...

In my age group, based on gun time, I was 294/327.
Based on net time, I was 291/327.

I was also invited to join a relay team of 12 to run the Reach The Beach Relay in September and then will run another half marathon in October. I'm totally looking forward to improving on all these stats...numbers can be really motivating...

And in other news, I've found an east coast blogger to train with!!! Tri Zilla, her training partner and I are planning to ride the bike course for the Great Fairlee Triathlon sometime before the race - pictures to follow (oh, and be sure to check in on Trizilla later on to read her latest race report)! VERY excited about this turn of events as it's made me green with envy watching all of you midwestern and western bloggers join up to train together.

OK, so onto the bike focus... bring. it. ON!!!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Race Report - Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Welp, it was a much better showing for Spence this year than last at the Covered Bridges Half Marathon. For starters, it was pretty chilly - 60˚F and drizzling when I pulled into the Quechee Gorge Village Parking area at 7:30 am. The last bus up to the ski area, Suicide Six, where the race starts, wasn't coming until 8:45 so rather than zoom all the way out there only to wait almost three hours in the rain for a 10:15 start (what a silly time to start a race...) I holed up in my car and listened to The Kahuna's harrowing story of his near death experience at Temecula Xterra. Yikes. It would have been nice to stay in bed a little later but the race organizers insist that we arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 so there's plenty of time to shuttle all 1500 of us up to the start. I also got through the first chapter of The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training...I can tell that this book is exactly what I need to be studying right now. Excellent.

Before I left the house, I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch with soy milk and about half a quart of water. I also packed a pb &j on whole wheat bread that I planned to eat at 9 am, one hour before the start time. Sipped on water in the car and felt like I was fueled and ready to go.

So at about 8:15 I decided that it was time to catch the bus. The lot had filled up and I didn't feel like waiting any more. I'm classically very early to races, usually in true OCD fashion...but the problem with that is that I do much better when I can be alone and have some quiet time before races...and being early gives me FOREVER to hang out and be social and...let's just say there was a lot of social going on. I managed to run into the parents of one of my preschoolers (yes, I taught preschool in another life), a few swim friends, two college friends that I hadn't seen in 12 and 14 years respectively (very weird!), my old landlord, my partner's co-worker, pretty much my partner's brother's entire family of name it, if I knew them from somewhere, they were there. It WAS fun to see everyone but I just get antsy and can't focus...I'm always afraid I'm going to say something wacky while I'm zoning out and thinking about the race... with triathlon it's a little easier because there's so much more to do... running, well, you just's you and your running shoes! Anyway...the bus ride was uneventful....

On to packet pickup - no problem, sat down and tied my chip onto my shoe... #769. Good enough number. Never had it before, seems fine... pinned my bib to my race belt and I was ready to go. But there was still an HOUR until the start. ugh. So I people watched while I ate my pb&j... I was feeling surprisingly calm and also very ready to run. I had a good taper this past week and when I got up this morning it was the first morning my calves and heels hadn't felt piano string tight. Good sign. I visited the porto-lets twice and was ready to go. Still 45 minutes until the start. :(

Finally, I decided I'd waited enough...time for my warmup... I was chilly with a raincoat, polypro top and warmup pants so I decided to go with my long sleeve polypro top instead of my short sleeved top for the race... I'd been moving around, not sitting, but I was still cold - it was a perfect day to run and I was almost psyched to wear the long sleeve top because I'd done so much of my training in it. Cool. Short sleeve shirt, raincoat and pants off, stuffed into my backpack and deposited on the bus that would take my pack to the finish...headed out for one last trip to the port-o-potty and then onto warmup... 40 minutes still to go to the start. Time moved so slow!!! A lot of people were grumpy about how much waiting there was...maybe if we all write letters they'll start the race earlier. It was ok today but last year when it was so hot, it was just too late in the day by the time the last people finished.

10 minute easy jog, everything felt good and loose, warmup done.... 30 minutes to go. Finally ended up chatting with the partner's brother's in-laws for the last half hour...convinced one of them to do the Fairlee Tri with me... cool. It was good. They headed off to the 8-9 minute mile area and I hung toward the back where the 11-12 minute mile folks were. 10:15, helicopter taking pictures above, and we're off!! Finally...

My plan was to keep my HR at about 142-147 for the first 6 miles which, for me, is about 70-75%. My training had shown this would produce 10:45-11:00 min. miles... sure enough, mile one, 10:58. Good. I felt great. Easy breathing, loose muscles, I felt SO much better than I had last year in the heat. When I passed the marker, the time clock said 12:33...two ladies behind me uttered, "YIKES, that's slower than we were walking in our training!!" I turned to them and said, "But remember that's the gun time... we just did 10:58..." The were relieved and said, "YIKES! We're running too fast!!" I didn't see them again but they were positive and determined - I was glad I had helped them in some way.

A big issue for me when I race is that I lose sight of my own progress and get focused on how many people there are behind me...and if I'll be last - which is one of my greatest fears. I made a conscious decision this race to look back only once at the beginning and not was about ME, not the other runners out there. I could control ME and only me so that was the plan. At the start, there were only maybe a dozen people behind me and the car at the back of the pack was in plain sight. But after that one look back, that was it. It was nice to not worry about what was behind me.

I also made a conscious effort in this race to thank every volunteer and fan - and to encourage anyone I passed. It's nice to focus your energy outward and it makes people smile. That was fun...

Mile 2 - 11:20. Ooops, a little slower...but I just wanted to stay under 11:30 for the first half so that's ok...
Mile 3 - 11:33. Hmmm...and my HR is creeping up...avg. 149 that mile...ok, I still feel good, but let's not go over 150. I also reminded myself that mile 3 is typically slow for me, no matter where I'm running - no worries...

Mile 4 brings you into the town of Woodstock and this is where the fans are - and there's a brief section where you're passing gazelles who have already run thru town and are headed back out. I was relieved to see a few familiar faces of people who I knew were running sub 7:30 miles so I wasn't that far back anymore. Cool. I had passed a few folks and started to play the reel-em-in game... picking a target and working to pass them... good way to keep your mind occupied....and quite encouraging.

Mile 4 - 11:26. That's better...but HR is averaging 151... ok, well, keep it there until mile 6.
Mile 5 has a little hill as you head out of town...passed 4 or 5 people who were walking up then I was heading out of town...

This race course is so beautiful and one of the really fun things about it is that there's something fun going on at every mile. Water stops were every two miles but starting at mile 4, there's live music at all the miles where there's no water... so there was the Lyme Town Band, then a group of older gentlemen singing a-capella, a jazz band, a rock band, a drum group going STOMP crazy... so fun...and then random families along the route that blast music from their car stereos and dance in the street - oh how I enjoyed the 6 and 8 year oldish girls dancing to the Jackson 5. But my favorite thing was the rows of kids - ages 4-7 - standing along the side with their hands out wanting high fives... so cute... and it's so great to get your mind off of things, if only briefly.

I knew once I was heading out of town that there were some good downhills so I had planned to try and gain some speed on these while keeping my HR where I wanted it. This is where reeling folks in became the most fun.

Mile 5 - 11:13, avg. HR 152...that's more like it.
Mile 6 - 11:17, avg. HR 156... ok, enough trying to keep it way low, let's fixate on 156 and keep it below that. 156 used to be my aerobic/anaerobic threshold but now I think it's up around 164 or 165... I was still feeling pretty good. I ate a Gu gel at this point...I don't really use gels and I know it's a bad idea to try new stuff on race day - I'd tried them before and knew they wouldn't make me ill...but after today that's it - I just don't like them. For some reason I felt the need to try once more. I think it worked fine and gave me a good boost but honestly, if I can find a way to carry a pb&j, I think I'll stick to that.

Mile 7 - 10:52, avg. HR 152. perfect.
Mile 8 - 12:42, avg. HR 153... this is where the one hill is - just before the mile 8 marker. I was starting to feel a little bit more tired but still pretty strong. And I was passing walkers left and right. I did walk briefly thru miles 6 and 8 water stops...but I had fixated on one woman with a fuel belt who wasn't stopping and I made a point to not lose her - that seemed to work pretty well.

Mile 9 - 10:56, avg. HR 154. At this point, I started to get cocky. My watch said I'd been running for 1:42... and just two short weeks ago, I hit mile 9 at exactly 2 hours. Was it really possible that I was 18 whole minutes faster than that, and still feeling pretty good? I was thinking I might be able to pull off a sub 2:20... but then I remembered about looking behind me and decided that looking that far ahead was probably not the best thing either. Still 4 more miles to go - anything could happen. I was still tracking Fuel Belt Lady and decided I would not let her drop me, no matter what...

Mile 10 - 11:07, avg. HR 155. My quads were starting to remind me they were doing most of the work at this point... but with only 3 miles left it was time to see what I had in the tank. To my surprise, Fuel Belt Lady WALKED thru the water stop at mile 10. ZOOM. Dropped her and never saw her again.

At this point, most people around me were doing some variation of walk/jog...and I found myself flying by them. I didn't want to leave anything out there. I was picking runners who were a good 25 yards ahead of me and reeling them in within 5 minutes... it was FUN. But I was definitely getting tired. I could tell that my long runs had only taken me 10 miles...and that last 3 was certainly feeling like the extra distance that my body knew it was....

Mile 11 - 10:38, avg. HR 158...nice to have my fastest mile be mile 11...that's worth something...

Mile 12 - 10:49, avg. HR more mile...I can hold this pace for one more mile...I can...I can do anything for one more problem...don't look back....don't let anyone overtake you...reel them in. I was feeling pretty spent at this point but was drawing huge strength from the spectators as I could hear them saying things like, "Wow, she's really running strong...and at this stage of the race..." I felt like a runner. It was running nirvana.

But where is the freakin' finish line??? I can hear the crowd, I can hear the announcer, people are walking back toward me with finisher's t-shirts and food, can it please get here NOW...I've had enough!!! I had just passed two women running together - I had reeled them in from a ways away - for about 2 miles I'd been watching them jog/walk and had been making steady progress toward passing them and right at the end they punched the gas. No way was I letting them by. They finished behind me...

Mile 13.1 - 11:52, avg. HR 161 with a max HR during the mile of 169. Ouchie...

BUT I HAD STUCK TO THE PLAN and FINISHED the race I wanted to run. The weather was perfect, my taper was perfect, it all went the way I wanted it to go. And the best part about it was that my mental state thru the whole thing stayed positive. I never rolled tape of the voices that so often have plagued me..."what are you doing out here? this is crazy, you're not fast enough, you're not strong enough, you don't have what it takes, what if you're last..." THEY. WERE. GONE.

I hit the finish mat at a sprint, making sure that the last two women I passed stayed behind me. Took a minute to stop seeing stars but I never felt like I was going to lose the contents of my belly. Some kind man took the chip off my shoelace for me and I was handed water, a tshirt and lots of smiles... Retrieved my bag from the pile and put on a dry top... Turns out I probably could've kept my short sleeve shirt on - and I wonder if being a little cooler would've kept my HR a little lower... but mostly I was fine... it was still gray with a nice drizzle... a perfect day for a run...

Unofficial finishing time from my watch: 2:26:49...putting Weasel Boy on the leader board with Scott in close contention for the win!! No results posted yet but stay tuned... I don't know WB - you might have to forfeit your guess since, A.) you don't yet have a blog and B.) you coached me thru the last month and had a very good idea about what time I would deliver... the judges are still making their decision. BTW, thanks SO MUCH for calling to wish me well last night. It was GREAT to hear your voice and know that you had such confidence in me... and thanks for the month of coaching... it clearly paid off...

Overall, I'm totally psyched with my race today. I think I did as well as I could've and it's a huge victory that I stuck with the plan and finished strong. It's so hard to start so far toward the back of the pack and feel like you're so slow...but that was part of the plan and it totally paid off in the second half of the race when I had so much left to burn. Passing people is the best...and I told every one of them they were doing a good job... And I think I only got passed once during the whole race. Cool.

So from 2:55 last year to 2:26 this year... I'll take that improvement ANY day. Now, for the next month, it's ALL about the bike...

Thanks for tuning in...and now back to my ice bags (no, I couldn't pull off the ice bath...I was just too damn cold from being out in the rain)

Friday, June 02, 2006

1 day, 21 hours, 39 minutes and counting....

I can't sit still. I just want to run!! My first race, the Covered Bridges Half Marathon is on Sunday morning and I'm ready to go NOW!!! I hadn't planned on quite the taper that I've done this week but I think it'll be fine... my heels, feet, and calves were really tight and a little sore so rest and stretching and light jogging has been about it for me this week.

So, the plan... two weekends ago I ran 10 miles and felt great. 3.1 more didn't seem like much...then last weekend I ran 10 again, in the heat and humidity...and it didn't go quite as well - but it still went. I'm taking that as a good sign - bad last long run=good race, right? Right.

So I'll start off with an easy 10-12 minute warmup run which is what I usually do before my long runs. This race is a point to point race so we park near the finish and they bus us way out into the country so we can run back. I figure if I held between 10:45 and 11:45 min. miles for that 10 mile run, that I'll start off the first 6 miles on Sunday a little slower... somewhere in the 11:30/11:45 range. There's only 1 hill at mile 8 and it's short...Weasel Boy thinks I should stay reigned in until after the hill and then see what I've got...I'm still undecided about this as I felt so good on my training run and making things faster on the second half went perhaps I'll start pouring it on closer to mile 6. Might mean I have to walk up the hill but as you can see from the elevation profile, there's a lot of flat and gradual down so that suits me just fine, especially because I've been training on rollers. I think it's realistic for me to hold 11:00 or just under for at least the last three miles. So that's the plan.

If things go according to plan, the weather will cooperate too. Last year when I did this race for the first time, they took 12 people off the course with heat exhaustion/borderline heatstroke. All the finishing times were super slow, even for the gazelles...we had a full month of cool (40˚F) rainy weather and then race day dawned 90˚F, humid and sunny. It was the first day of hot an no one was prepared. I tossed my plan about 5 miles in when it became about survival and finishing, not about reaching my goal time. I've never felt so bad after a race. But I finished...I was shooting for 2:30 and I came in at 2:55.

So far, the forecast right now is for cloudy, highs in the low 70s and a 20% chance of rain. I'll take that. We'll have to see what unfolds over the next day. I know I can beat 2:55. I'll be thrilled if I can hold 11:27 minute miles to hit 2:30 dead on... but I'd really like to be faster than that. 11:00 min miles would be around 2:24.

Now, I realize I used up my one and only prediction of my finishing time by guessing Bolder's finishing time, to the second. So I'm gonna hedge a little bit and declare that I'd like to come in between 2:30 and 2:20. In the spirit of the Tri blog alliance, I'd like to give everyone else the opportunity to predict my time...

Tri Barb has set the bar, predicting I will PR with a 2:22. Anyone else care to make a prediction? The prize is your choice...either a fresh new blog header, complete with directions on how to put it up, OR an oversized (like 3' x 4') custom made poster of YOU in your favorite triathlete pose (the only catch is that you have to send me the photo - I'll take it from there!!!) So? What say you? Better include seconds too as we could have many winners if ya'll only choose minutes...

1 day, 21 hours, 8 minutues, and counting....