Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Tap, Tap, Tap," said the Flatman

"Anyone home???" was the question that zoomed into my inbox this morning...

OK, yeah, it's been kinda quiet over here at 2/3rds... I've heard complaints of crickets and radio silence, musings of busted computers, and gentle nudges that my commenters miss me as much as I miss my comments (because ya'll know I'm completely comment driven).

I dunno. Just been living, I guess.

How lucky am I...

...that I've met some really great new friends in the past month, some who have touched my heart and shown me such unbelievable support and caring, who will be in my life forever?

...that I can ride my bike, run, and swim and my body listens and responds and does what I ask it to do, with very few complaints?

...that I am healthy and happy and employed in a job that I don't really mind going to every day with a home that's my favorite place to come to every night?

...that I have a loving partner and an amazing woofie who make me happy every day to be alive?

...that music is everywhere, and so many new songs, so expertly mixed, have wended their way to my door...and squirmed into my rapidly filling iPod to feed my soul and warm my heart?

...that I live in an incredibly beautiful place that offers me so many opportunities to be outside, close to the sun and the moon and the stars?

...that my family is close, comes to visit me, cheers for my success and buoy's my failures?

...that I have a HUGE extended family of bloggers, triathletes, runners, coaches, and friends who care about how I am, what I'm up to, and if things are going okay?

How lucky am I? Pretty damn lucky.

Summer, health, fitness, friends, family, this life, every bit of it... is so precious and sweet.

Don'tchya think?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Three-Fer

Keep reading, there's three today... gotta make up for lost time...

SO, the world has to know...

I HAVE THE BEST BROTHER IN THE WHOLE FREAKIN' WORLD!!! He got me one of these for my birthday:

I gotta calm down or I'm gonna pee myself... If you think you can't live without one, go HERE.

Thanks, Bro!!!

Wanna Be a Masters Swimmer???

Psst!!! Hey, YOU!! YEAH YOU, I'm talkin' to you!! You say you want to be a masters swimmer, be cool and swim wid da fishies?? LISTEN UP.

Go HERE, and check out all da places you can swim wid a masters team. It's not too hard...any meatball can do it!! Just click da button. NOW!!!

Or you'll just be fishy food...

Fairlee Pics! Thru the Eyes of Milkshake Girl...Photographer Extraordinaire

Sorry I've been kinda M.I.A. since THE RACE. Things are good, just been thinking about other stuff...non-blog (gasp!) related. It's been so FREAKIN' hot this week - sounds like ya'll are experiencing the same stuff so I won't complain too much - but misery loves company so feel free to leave me some comment love on HOW HOT it is in your neck of the woods (à la, "it's so FREAKIN' hot here my bike shoes melted to the know, that kinda thing...mabye a contest is in order... )
At long last, here are some pics from the race, taken by the famed Milkshake Girl, dressed in her gingham garb and roller blades. I can't believe no one got her picture so you could see what I'm talking about. She was a sight...and did a FABULOUS job of recording our day.

(Disclaimer: the pics that you are about to see will be part of the collection labelled "BEFORE I LOST THE WEIGHT." Most of them are really hard for me to look at but I was inspired by Scott's willingness to embrace pictures of himself and work toward acceptance of the now. I'm working toward the "after" pics but for now, proceed at your own is what it is...and like Scott, the smile says it all...)

A beautiful morning to race...

Me 'n TriZilla having just arrived in transition. I wore my Bolder Boulder shirt for good luck!! And my Livestrong hat for my peeps doin' battle...

Spence spots Milkshake Girl, just before the start. (Hey, lighten up Tattoo Boy...)

...and tells TriZ to smile! oh, and Jo is over on the left peeking over the crowd...

Wave 3 enters the water. I drew a red arrow so you can see me...the one without a wetsuit...

I was in the middle for a minute (blue suit straps) but wanted to be on the left so that I had an inside line around the counterclockwise buoys

Started making my way over to the left...

Got where I wanted to be - you can see my left arm directly below the orange buoy

And we're off!!!

T1, time to ride!!!

Yeah, the smile says it all. This race was SO MUCH FUN.

Not sure what's up with the lady in the pink dress...she looks distressed...

Just after this shot, the race volunteer at that intersection had to ask Milkshake Girl to move because she was ringing the cowbell so loudly. PHOOEY!!! I SAY MORE COWBELL!!! #1 Fan...

This one's blurry but I think I actually LOOK like a runner here...

Get out of the way, I want to be DONE with this!!!

Into the chute...always my favorite part.

It was a fantastic day at the races. Can't wait for the next one...

Train hard!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Race Report, The Fairlee Great Triathlon

OK, the details. Sorry for the delay, there just felt like too much to say so none of it got said.... here it is at long last (and at LONG...)...

The race was amazing, as was the entire weekend. The fun began on Friday evening with the arrival of my brother and his girlfriend. Dad arrived earlier in the week so we had a chance to all be together and that was great. Saturday morning we headed out for 9 leisurely holes of golf...I was really careful to stay in the shade and drink lots of water...and even more careful to not pull anything. Dad and I traded off a few holes while Bro, M and my honey played thru it all. Super fun. I even hit a few good shots! Let me tell you, once you've got the field hockey swing down, it's pretty hard to convert it to golf. I'll get there eventually, like everything else.

The rest of Saturday was spent lounging in the hammock and drinking lots of fluids. At around 3ish I went over to registration to pick up all my stuff - numbers, chip, goody bag, tshirt - and to see if I could spot TriZilla and Jo. They had tried to find me to go over to packet pickup but I wasn't answering the phone because I was in the hammock!! No luck...visited with a few of my swimming teammates and then came back home... and shortly thereafter the girls arrived. They took off again for a bit to drive the alternate bike course route...I had my brother check out my bike and I lubed the chain and checked over everything. Bro discovered that neither of my wheels were on straight - which would explain why things had felt like they were rubbing. I had centered them on the brakes rather than on the we fixed that and things felt much better. Fixed my number onto my bike and I was good to go.

TriZ and Jo came back and the three of us started cooking pasta supper for a fun group of racers. Even Milkshake Girl of swimming fame came and we convinced her to come and cheer for us all on Sunday. More on that in a minute... Pasta, pesto, garlic bread, salad, ice cream and brownies... then food coma! We had a fun time and it was great to have so many other faces to watch for on the course. I love my friends...

Double checked that I had everything packed and ready and then hit the sack. Slept like a baby!!

Sunday morning, 5:45 am wake-up. Quick shower to get my eyes open, oatmeal, gatorade and water... I also packed a PB&J in case I started feeling hungry closer to race time. I still swear by this if I don't have time for oatmeal. But given that I live right on the course, I had no travel time so plenty of breakfast time! Nice.

TriZ and Jo showed up around 6:30, we pumped up our tires and headed over to transition. I was thinking we'd walk so I had my flip flops on...they were thinking we'd ride... so I rode with my flip flops. Not the smartest thing to do on race morning but I was really careful and made it the quarter mile without incident. That'd be a nice report, eh? DNF because I caught my flip flop in my chain. Cool.

Transition was already a buzz and you would not believe the bike porn parading around. I saw every Cervelo model from the last 3 years and all kinds of Softrides, Elites, Litespeeds, Treks, Felts, some disc wheels, some wild aero helmets, really, even with Amelia I was feeling inadequate. But she's my girl and we toughed it out. It's about the engine, right? I set my stuff up at #187 and then got body marked and wandered around finding where everyone was installed. They put a number on my right arm and my right leg, and the letter "D" on the back of my right calf designating my age group, 30-34. I hadn't thought about it yet but that's when I realized that next year I age up! Cool... And I would have to watch for other Ds out there on the course.

I had a lot of energy going on... kind of butterflies in my tummy but not really nervous or anxious...just in kind of a heightened state...good adrenaline. Time to warm up. I talked a bit last week with Weasel Boy about a warmup routine and we decided that running and biking would only benefit me if I did it right before the start... and I'm always too worried about missing the we decided I'd just warm up in the water. TriZilla and I got in and swam a few hundred yards... I did some easy long strokes and some quick tempo lengths to get my HR up. I felt loose and ready.

I was in the third wave start... they spent forever with the pre-race announcements, mostly talking about the alternate bike route and I was antsy to go. The worst part of every race for me is from the time my transition is set up until the starting gun. I just don't know what to DO with myself and the last thing I want is to feed off of everyone's nervous energy. If I'm allowed to stay in the water, I do...but not this time.

Wave 1 was off...then 3 minutes before the next wave...while we waited, Milkshake Girl appeared with camera and awesomely 70's sundress...I don't know if we got a picture of her but she was a vision of enthusiastic tri fan...screaming her head off for all of us... Then wave 2 and TriZilla and Jo were off, 3 more minutes, then wave 3...finally. My goggles were under my swim cap, affixed solidly to my face, and I remembered I didn't want to start off too fast...I picked a spot on the left side of the pack, putting me on an inside line of the counterclockwise course. It looked long and far, but no where near as long or far as I remember it from the first time I did this race. I was totally psyched for the swim as I felt really comfortable and prepared. I spent so much time this winter working on my swim and the work definitely is paying off, from my confidence right down to my technique. I knew it would be good.

30 seconds left - Milkshake Girl screaming for us to swim fast - I smiled, and we were off.

I tried porpoise diving but the water was all murky from everyone stirring up the bottom...I knew there were a few rocks and I didn't want to risk not seeing them so I just started off swimming...we were in waist deep water anyway. Right off I was by myself. I picked a good tempo, one that I could hold for the first 200 yards but not for the whole race. I kept this pace until the first buoy and then settled in - here's where all that stroke calibration from the pool comes in handy because I knew exactly how to pace myself for this. It just felt great. There was no wind and I felt like I swam incredibly straight - and that no one was around me still. Not sure I understand that - it seemed like everyone swam wide - but it was nice to feel like I was dead on course and mostly un-surrounded. I swallowed a good amount of water but managed to not aspirate any of it so that was an accomplishment. It felt like folks were swimming past me, leaving me behind, all the way to the first buoy...but after rounding it, I started picking them off one by one - they had fallen victim to the classic blunder! Never mess with a sicilian when death... wait, where was I? Oh right, catching swimmers...

I was one of only a few without a wetsuit... the water was 71˚F so I didn't need one but I always consider it a badge of honor when I pass a wetsuited swimmer sans wetsuit. The rest of the swim pretty much went like the beginning...perfectly as planned. I even managed to draft a bit on a wider's really amazing if you can make drafting work for you. Makes a HUGE difference. I was able to catch some of the wave 2 pack and managed to stay ahead of all but the fishies from Wave 4. It was nice to not get completely swum over... before I knew it I was heading back into the beach. They had done a good job of harvesting a bunch of the milfoil and rerouting the course around the worst of it so all that sea grass prep wasn't needed...but it was nice to not worry about it. As I came into the beach, I did 5 or 6 porpoise dives and managed to pass a few people who were wading in chest deep water. I may not race fast but I'll be damned if I don't race smart. Perfecting this skill is easy and totally worthwhile. And it's fun too...

Swim time for 0.75 mi.: 25:27. (as an aside, I checked the fastest swim times this year against the fastest times last year and saw that everyone was 1:00-1:30 mins. FASTER last either the course was short last year or long this year... my time last year was 25:08 so I think it's reasonable to assume that I was a minute or so faster too. I felt stronger and faster... ) 288/469 overall.

Zoomed out of the water and headed to T1...I felt surprisingly fresh and not as wobbly as usual. Not sure if that's because I'm in better shape or because I didn't swim as hard as I could've. No matter... T1 went great, got everything in place while managing a quick chat with my family. I realized that I can get thru the transition without really thinking about it now that I have a good system. Shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, helmet, go! Jogged out of T1 and headed out on the bike.

The first thing I saw out of transition was Milkshake Girl, in her sun dress, on ROLLER BLADES with a giant green hand that said, "ALLEZ!!" on it... that she waved for all of us while maniacally ringing the cowbell she had purchased on her way home from dinner the night before. What an amazing fan. It put such a big grin on my face... totally hilarious. I managed a smile for the race photographer and it was off.

2 minutes in I passed my house where da woofie and my honey were sitting on the front lawn cheering. More smiles...then it was time to focus. High cadence, moderate heart rate, head down, into the aero bars. It was an odd sensation actually - I felt really really slow...but when I checked my computer, I was right where I wanted to be. Curious. My HR was pretty high so I backed off a bit to get it down to 75-80%...still at 90+ cadence and 18-20 mph. Cool. The ride went pretty much like that the whole time...I felt really slow but I wasn't. I concentrated on keeping the cadence up and not mashing, I worked my way thru 200 calories of Gatorade Endurance (note to self, holy acid reflux batman)... Overall it went great. As I passed my house on the way back, I waved at my family and glanced at my computer. My goal was to ride at least a 16mph average... the readout showed 17.9 avg... so I hammered the last 2 minutes and just as I pulled into T2, it hit 18 mph avg. More smiles... more green hand waving and cowbell... this is MY race. I don't even remember looking around to see how many bikes were already back... No crash, no more fear of being last... chasing down the demons...

Bike 16.6 miles + T1 + T2: 1:03:22, 414/469, average speed, 18mph.

OK, 5 miles left - my basic training run, the run I run at least once a week. No problem. But it hurt. A lot. The first five minutes felt really really bad. I felt like I was crawling, like my legs were lead and my right calf was threatening to cramp. I stopped for a few seconds to flex my foot and that helped. Up the first little hill and I was on my way. I knew what pace I needed for mile one but I sure didn't feel like I was holding it. Again, like on the bike, it just felt really slow. There were still a lot of people around me but most of them were passing me. Felt like I was running at least 12 min. miles. At the marker, I hit my lap button - 10:26. OK then, this is how it's gonna be. My mind was not calibrated to my body anymore. Just hold this pace and you're good then. It was HOT. But it was shady. And I knew exactly where I was and exactly what I had left to do. Just 4 more miles.

Mile 2 marker: 11:34. That's SOP for this run and me... mile 2 is always a little slower... but still shady and feeling a whole lot better than at the beginning. My legs had decided to cooperate and had gone from screaming to feeling numb. I'll take it.

Mile 3, my nemesis. I still don't know why. Weasel says it's because miles 1 and 2 are punishing rollers... so I'm tired by mile 3... but it's flat and it's mentally short... and I wasn't at all surprised to hit my lap button at marker 3 and see 12:00 min. Whatever. Par for the course. OK, 2 left, time to see what's in the tank.

I walked up the short, steep hill that is the first 75 yards of mile 4 when I realized that walking was faster than the shuffle I had going. My HR never got above 80% over the first 4 miles...but I was pushing as hard as my legs would go...there was no more juice!! NEED MORE POWER. It felt good to use some different muscles for a minute. At the top of the hill, I shortened my stride and took off.

Marker 4: 10:55. Leave it all out here. I started tracking people and picking them off one by one...I think I passed 3... but I was also getting passed by people with H, I, and J on their calves...having started in age group waves way after mine... oh well. Someday they won't catch me. It didn't bother me this time. Sure, it's annoying...but I didn't feel the need to keep looking over my shoulder to make sure there were still others behind me. It was my race.

Then I could hear the crowd and I knew it was time to be done. Runners were still passing me and I told them to enjoy the finishing chute... kinda fun. And then I was there... they announced my name, probably because I was from Fairlee and the race is in Fairlee... with lots of hoopla...and then I was done. It felt awesome. I forgot to stop my watch in the celebration of being done... but the last split works out to 9:51...and remember that last mile is a little short... but I'll take it.

Run 4.9 miles: 54:46 min. , 453/469 overall.

Total time: 2:23:36, 429/467 overall. If we had ridden the original bike course, I figure I still would've dropped about 10 minutes off my overall time from two years ago... so that's an accomplishment that I'm proud of. It was a fantastic day.

Impressions, lessons, and plans for moving forward to come tomorrow. Now I gotta hit the hay.

Thanks for tuning in!!! And train hard!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fairlee Great Triathlon, Prelim. Results

OK, redemption is mine. Well, except for the fact that the bike course was 7 miles short...but I finished vertically so that's all that counts. Overall time: 2:23... I was shooting for 2:20, under 2:30 so cool. Swim was about the same time @ 25 minutes - the overall consensus was that the swim course was long...I know I swam straight and faster than last year so I'd have to agree. The bike was fine and my run time was 5 miles/53 mins, only a minute slower than my fastest run around the lake...

Overall I'm happy with the race. I felt really good, it was HOT and I gave all I had so mission accomplished. It's way more fun to finish than to DNF. I feel vindicated.

Report later - now I'm going to nap...

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Bring it On!!!

OK, the bag's packed, the pasta supper has been cleaned up and I'm heading to bed. I'm ready. Weasel Boy called to check in and make sure of it...but I was ready already. It's going to be a great day. I'm sure of it. Tune in tomorrow - hopefully I'll have the energy for a preliminary report but if not, check in on Monday. Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes...time to serve up the WHOOP ASS.

Party on.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Time to Focus

Just settling in to watch Stage 6 of Le Tour. How in the world do those guys go so fast and then take their hands off the handlebars to mess around with stuff in their back pockets? Inquiring minds want to know... Also, what would it take to have a tour with all women? Hardly seems fair that the boys get to suffer thru and there's no opportunity for the girls...Maybe the Tour Du Canada?? How cool would that be?

Did my last easy spin around the lake tonight before the race on Sunday - EZ 6 miles, cadence +95, no mashing just spinning. They've put up signs announcing the race to local traffic, and they've taped the mile markers on the road. One nice thing is that they started the run course a little further back than last year so the spray painted numbers on the road that I'm used to pacing myself on are about 10 yards beyond the new taped I'm thinking it may feel like each mile is short. :) I can try and convince myself of this anyway...

I drove over to the stretch of sketchy road on the bike course to see if they've patched it yet and they haven't so we'll be riding an alternate route, which initially made me really mad but now I'm looking forward to it just being a different challenge. It's about 7 miles shorter and the hills are way less steep and long so it'll actually suit me and Amelia much better - and hopefully all the big ring work I've been doing will pay off. I won't have a good way to compare my results since the course is shorter...but I can still compare splits so it'll be fine.

I'm almost in the zone I need to be in to race. I'm thinking about getting up early tomorrow and going for a walk, maybe some visualization about how things will go. Here's what I'm thinking so far, but I need to focus things a little more:

1.) I want to do some easy swimming and a little bit of tempo/sprinting to get warmed up before the swim. My plan is to do 3 or 4 porpoise dives at the start but not go out as fast as I did in my last sprint. I will remember what we learned in practice on Thursday and find a good pace quickly.

2.) I'm not too worried about my transitions and trying to save a ton of time but tomorrow I will spend some time thinking about how I can be most efficient. I know it's free time but I want to keep my focus on the work for this one.

3.) Cadence, cadence, cadence. I want to keep my rate over 85, preferably at 90+ for as much of the ride as possible. I will focus on not not "mashing" and working to be consistent so as to give my legs as much of a chance to run fast as possible. I'd also like to see an average speed over 16 mph.

4.) T2 will be quick. I will focus on myself and not worry if there are a lot of bikes already racked. It's my race and I've learned from a lot of races that I will not be last.

5.) Like in my sprint, I don't want to leave anything in the tank during the run so I'm going to push. HARD. I'll keep my HR under 85% (< 162) for the first 3 miles but it's all out for the last two. Short, quick strides are the key.

I need to spend some time thinking about my nutrition. I certainly need to take on calories but the question is what and when. Will fine tune tomorrow.

OK, off to bed. More tomorrow. Hope you all are well!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Getting Ready

Our swim this morning was all about getting ready for Fairlee this weekend. I'd say close to half the team is racing so it should be a lot of fun. Coach hasn't posted today's practice yet so I'll give you the run down - after all, I'm here to help. This practice was notable for a lot of reasons but mostly for the 200s we did as the main set. Here's what we did:

6x25 Obstacle Course!!!

This was hilarious - the lake, Lake Morey, that I live near and the tri is in has a lot of Eurasian Water Milfoil which is a non-native evil plant that chokes out a lot of healthy lake life... It grows in about 8-15 feet of water and it's tentacles reach right to the surface. It's nasty to swim thru and can cause panic to even the most seasoned open water swimmer - and once you're thru, it's fine... so Coach took all the pull buoys and all the floating fins and pretty much anything that floated and threw them all over our lanes and we had to swim thru them as if they were milfoil!!! The idea was to stay calm and keep going even though there were these weird obstacles. Very fun... but I gotta say, the milfoil is still more creepy...

Then we did a stroke count set - this is always fun and challenging for I love 25s...

2x25 at a brisk pace to get your average stroke count per length (N). Mine is 18 strokes.
6x25 at N-2 strokes/length (so 16 for me)
1x25 at N-1 (17)
1x25 at N (18 again)

Then repeat that set. When we first started working on stroke counts back at the beginning of masters (3 years ago!) I could never calibrate my stroke well enough to hit my target counts... but now I am a calibrated fishy and I got em all. It's so cool to see that improvement.

The main set is where I think ya'll might benefit - I KNOW I got a LOT out of this. It's actually more an exercise in what NOT to do but it got the point across loud and clear. It's designed to simulate the start of a tri when you go out too fast...and then forcing yourself to settle into a more even pace. It went like this:

4 x 200
On the first length of each 200, do 3 or 4 porpoise dives as if you're entering the water from the beach and then swim the first 3 lengths (75 yards) at N+2 stroke count (yeah, this is where it's handy to have done the set above...but if you didn't, just go at a pace that feels really fast for 3 lengths) and then settle into a comfortable pace for the remainder of the 200. 30-45 seconds rest, rinse and repeat. What you find VERY quickly is that it's HARD to get your breathing under control and the lactic acid out of your muscles, even over that distance, even with that much rest. Much better to start off slowly and not cross that aerobic/anaerobic threshold at all... chances are you'll be more able to overcome the folks that started off too fast.

This was a timely practice for me because it reminded me that I started the swim WAY too fast in the sprint that I did a few weeks ago. I will not make the same mistake again this weekend!!

I've got one more easy ride tonight and then REST until Sunday. I'm planning on getting my pre-race warmup fine tuned and spending some time doing a bit of mental prep. There's a lot going on right now - family in town and more coming for the weekend, lots of distractions... but I will get in the zone...

New Song of the Week in my sidebar to get you all fired up for races this weekend. Can't WAIT!!!

Train hard!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The July 4th Ocean Swim that Wasn't

OK, the wind was gusting to around 25mph on both days I was at the beach this the open water swim didn't happen. I had planned to swim across this stretch of Narrgansett Bay over to Hog Island (see the little red roofed house behind the high dive float?) but it wasn't safe for the boat that was to accompany me so we bagged it. Had a nice swim in a calm pond on Monday instead. Much less choppy!! Here are some pics of the waves (and da woofie). Yikes - on the photo above you can see the dock is all wet - the waves were crashing OVER it!!

Hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th... It's time for me to get my head back into it... should be good and ready for Fairlee on Sunday!!! BRING. IT. ON.