Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh no, not again

I've been feeling better each day. Yesterday I did a short run and was feeling good during the 2nd half. Today I had school and then raced home so I could get a 1 hour ride in prior to the sun going down. It was a challenge to get the ride in because it was getting quite overcast with each passing minute.

I raced into the house, changed my clothes, pumped my tires and headed out the front door. I was so happy to ride today because a) I'm not training for a tri right now so any riding is purely fun riding and b) it means I am feeling better.

It was pretty windy out and my 'out' portion of the out and back took ~6 minutes longer than usual. I was soooo looking forward to the turnaround. Coming home I had the tailwind. Whoo hoo, I was flying back. I got off 25 and was on a side road when I noticed it how dark it was getting. I should have taken my sunglasses of, but I left them on. Because of that, I was too late noticing broken glass all over the shoulder. I think you know what's coming next. Yep, that hissing sound that is music to my ears.....NOT. It's more like nails down a chalkboard at this point. I immediately pull over, muttered a few expletives under my breath and proceeded to change my tire. Again. This one was a doozy though. I managed to rip a nice hole in the tire.

I have to say I was tempted to do this:

At first I could not find it, and then once I started the tire change, I saw it. Crap. Right near the sidewall. This will cost me another dollar right now. With all of the flats I've been having this season (5 for those of you keeping track), I keep two $1 bills in my tire changing kit. Seriously. I have no luck. So I tucked another dollar bill into the tire, put it back on the rim, filled it up and made it home. I'm tempted to leave that bill in there until spring comes along. I really don't like the idea of heading down to the bike shop or ordering another $60 tire right now.

On the bright side my nose was running like crazy during the ride. I think every last bit of head congestion made it's way out and I am breathing quite freely now through my nose. Tomorrow I have a 5 mile run planned. Unless Oz chimes in.......................

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is how I feel

I woke up this morning at 3am and had to blow my nose. That does not happen normally. I also noticed my throat felt a little irritated. Took me 2 hours to get comfortable and go back to sleep. Not good. I was supposed to run today (8 miles) but I just wasn't up to it. I told Wingman that I think I am coming down with a cold. Time to commence "French Fry Therapy". There's nothing you can't cure with french fries!!

After breakfast we went to Target to pickup some cold medication. It is such an insult that the good stuff is kept behind the counter and you have to show ID and they log who is buying these meds. Come on, I am not a criminal, I am a woman with a cold. I just want some OTC stuff. It's not like I'm asking for a case of stuff, I just want one box. So I decide to get something that is available right on the shelf. We make our way over the cash register to pay and the cashier stuns me. She asks for ID. WTF?!?! I asked her why and they need to verify the buyers DOB. Well, if that's the case, why are they scanning my drivers license?!?! I pay quickly because I am this close to having some sort of problem. Next time I need cold meds, I will skip my local Big Brother Target. Damn meth addicts ruin it for everyone.

I spent the day on the couch reading for school and taking a cat nap. I wished Wingman good luck as he headed out the door for his run. I will try riding the bike on the trainer tomorrow while watching the Jets game. Since the Jets beat the Patriots last week, I can ditch my Jets uniform for a while. I am off from school on Monday so I will get my long run in then. I am loving the fact that this is a short week of school. Only 3 days and then Friday we leave for Virginia and the Army 10 Miler. Gotta feel better by then. I can't imagine flying with a cold. I guess the bright side is it's a short flight.


Wingman to the rescue! He went to the supermarket to get me a few goodies to make me feel better. Good thing the 10 miler is coming up. I'll need a long run to work these off! (Note: the ice cream is a single serving size, not a pint. I'm not that much of a piggy!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just like Cleopatra

I am Queen of Denial.

For months I have been having various issues creep up during my runs. I chose to bury my head in the sand.
Then it all came to a head during the race a few weeks back. My right ITB, piriformis, knee and foot did this to me:

So I rested and stretched thinking it would all go away. During my training I also made sure to wear good running shoes. I track my mileage and replace pairs that are getting to old. I have flat feet and I tend to overpronate so I wear a stability shoe because, as I am Queen of Denial, I can correct my own problems. I don't need the extra support. Well, push came to shove and I picked up a pair of motion control shoes. Oh my. First run in them, almost all my problems seemed to have disappeared. Well, not all of my problems as I still have to read the Nikolai Bernstein article for my Adult Neuro class, but that's another story. My right leg felt great the entire run. Today was my second run in them. Still feeling good. So my year of denial is over. Or I am in denial about not being in denial?

Today's run was good. I went out after Wingman left for work. The temperature was still somewhat cool and the wind was starting to pick up. I had a 4 mile route mapped out so I changed, put on my shades (because my future's so bright, I gotta wear shades), grabbed the iPod, laced up and headed out. I started out at a nice pace and tried to enjoy the morning. I didn't realize the wind was at my back until I got to the halfway point. All this time I am thinking I'm a superstar.

Holy cow, after the turn I swear I was running in a wind tunnel. I had to work so hard to keep my pace because I was too stubborn to slow down. I figured this was a short run so what's the big deal, right? The big deal was that these last 2 miles turned into a suffer-fest. The problem with running out here is there is nothing to block the wind for you. It's just you and the elements. I know it can make me a stronger runner, but when you are in the moment, you can't see that. Then the strangest thing happened. This song came on and I hit my stride. Even the wind seemed to die down for the duration.

I have to confess to a guilty pleasure here with this song. Good stuff. I did hit the back button at the end to hear it again. Couldn't resist. I still struggled to keep the pace, but held on to finish strong. I guess the combo of tripping out with Donovan and the runner's high kicked in.

So the Army 10 Miler is next weekend and I am thinking about my strategy. Usually my race strategy has been to start slow and finish slower, but I am not sure that will work for me this time around. I did this race last year and was miserably under trained for it so I have a pathetic time to show for it. I would love to PR it by at least 10 minutes. So do I start out like a bat out of hell and hang on for as long as I can then let the wheels fall off, try to run an even pace the entire race, or try to run the first 5 miles a little slower and pick it up for the last 5? I am open to suggestions.

My run went so well today, that I am chomping at the bit for the Ridley 5k in October (yes I am still on a high from my run this morning). I run this race every year and have set a 5k PR each year from 2002-2006. I'm in a bit of a dry spell the last few years because my running had not been consistent. I am feeling it this year and I think I can break it. Today's pace of the 4 miles tells me I am close. I am tempted to get a 'pacer' for this race to keep me on track. I've done that before. I bring someone faster (yeah, like that's real hard to find....) down to the race to run with me so it will shame me into running a little faster and not letting myself slow down.

I forgot to mention that last week I picked up the ultimate trivia game:

Can't wait to play!!!

Well, it looks like the Queen of Denial is still here. I have avoided that Bernstein article long enough. Time to go read............

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's been 1 week.....

Sounds like that Bare Naked Ladies song. It's been one week since my race and my recovery has gone nicely. I took it easy Monday since I had a long school day. I sat there totally useless in class due to mental and physical fatigue. Tuesday I had a run on my schedule but there was no way I felt OK to run. My legs still hurt and the inside of my calf was 'crampy'. Instead I went to get a massage and as usual, she worked her magic on me and I felt so much better. On Wednesday, I had a ride planned but because I felt like I was behind on my reading for school, I took the day off. You see a pattern here? And Thursday was a scheduled rest day and that made it a good day to start following my training plan ;-) By now, of course, I was feeling like a bloated pig.

Friday morning I went out for an easy 5 mile run. I felt great during the run. The temperature was nice and cool. I wore a long sleeve shirt! Yipee, I love fall running. I picked a relatively flat route, put on some tunes, and was on my way. My legs felt a little tight when I got home, but after some stretching they loosened right up.

Saturday I went for a solo ride in the afternoon. Wingman was running today and I have a run planned for Sunday so I went out alone. I took my new favorite ~21 mile route. The problem was with all of the fall/pumpkin traffic out here, it made crossing Sound Ave is a real chore. I usually cross over at the Cooperage, but not today. Too many cars. So I rode past to Edwards Ave. The Cooperage is having their usual fall festival and to attract people to come in, they had a costumed character waving at cars. Guess who high-fived me as I went past.

Yep, Elmo showed me some love!! For a second though I had a flashback to the race and when Elmo stuck his arm out I expected to exchange water bottles with him. So I went on my way with a little extra oomph in my pedal stroke. And I would need it as it was quite windy out. I rode easy as I could still feel some fatigue in my legs. There was a noticeable difference from my taper to now. Plus the headwinds were causing me problems too. Getting back home was a chore. I am not sure I ever felt the tailwinds. How wrong is that?!? I was seriously working to get back up Twomey. When I got back, Wingman told me he felt great on his run and that all the biking he did over the summer with me must have helped.

Today I went out riding again. Our running training schedules do not mesh so well. I like running on Sunday and he planned Saturday runs. He wanted to do an easy hour on the bike today so I joined him. Originally I was going to head out for ~2 hours, but I cut it down for him. It was a near perfect day. The only thing that would have made it a better ride was if all the cars disappeared for that one hour. Otherwise, the temperatures were just right and there was very little wind. I rode easy and the speed was there! Phew, I was worried after yesterday's ride that everything I worked for was gone in just one week. I will head out this afternoon to get my planned run in.

Since it's football Sunday, I will assume my position on the couch later and watch my Jets get their heads handed to them by the Patriots. I hope I'm wrong, but just in case I've got my Jets game watching uniform ready to go.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diamonds are NOT this girl's best friend......

This past weekend I completed the Diamondman Half Iron Triathlon. I picked this race for a few reasons. I haven't done a half or full distance ironman since Lake Placid in 2006 due to my schedule and lack of time and I saw a window of opportunity this year to get a half in. This race is somewhat close to home (driving distance) and the course is flat. And the taper/race date fell at the beginning of the semester so all key workouts are done without the stress of being in school.

So I found myself on race morning awake before the alarm (note: I had 3 different alarms set - cell phone, alarm clock, and watch. Not that I am neurotic or anything). I got up and ate my breakfast then jumped in the shower. It's important to be clean before you sweat like a pig during the race. My race nutrition was put together the night before:

FRS chews, shot blocks, and a big bag of cocaine. Nothing gets me up more for a race than a little blow. OK, just kidding there. The white bag is Infinit, a custom blended sport drink that I've been using for a few years now. Works great for me. The bag here is a 3 hour mix that I put into one bottle that I take a swig from every 15 minutes and then supplement it with water bottles that are handed out on the course.

We had to pack up and check out of the hotel before the race because I knew we would not make it back before the "late" checkout time. So with the Element packed, we were on our way. The race was ~15 minutes from the hotel. Made it there with no problems, parked the car and headed over to transition. I've got my setup down to a science now. The woman next to me clearly does not understand setting up and her surrounding athletes. She had a large tarp on the ground with her bike stuff to the left of her bike and run stuff to the right. Really?!?! She took up so much room that other people moved her stuff in a little when she wasn't around.

Once my setup was done, I made my way over to the porto-john and took care of business. I was lucky that there was no line there. Got in and out quickly. Went back to transition, grabbed my wetsuit, swim stuff, and sneakers and headed over to the swim. Sneakers for the swim you ask? After the swim you have to run 1/4 mile to T1 and I would rather not do that barefoot over pavement. We were told to be careful entering the water from the ramp because of a 1 1/2" drop off. They had lifeguards at that point to warn you. I stepped off of the ramp into what I believe was a lake bottom coated with mashed potatoes. It was so gross. And what made it worse was that every few steps, you would sink down into it. At this point I decided it would be a better idea to swim to the starting line.

I found a nice spot to start from, away from the crowd so I could start the swim without having the crap kicked out of me. When they called "Go!!" I was on my way. The swim went pretty smoothly. I just kept the thought in my head that I was back home swimming in the lake, no stress. The course was a rectangular shaped out and back. I didn't notice much on the way out but on the way back, I heard a loud noise. Turns out I was swimming next to someone I refer to as the 'bitchslap' swimmer. He had a weird swim stroke. He had a straight arm recovery and would slam his arm into the water making a cracking noise. This would go on for ~10 strokes and then he would do a few breast strokes and then repeat the cycle. I picked it up a little to get away from him. The rest of the swim was good. I made my way to the ramp and followed the life guard's warning about the lip. Once out of the water, I stripped my wetsuit, put on my sneakers and ran to T1. Got in and out pretty quick and was on the bike.

I was looking forward to the bike course because it was real flat except for one bridge to climb going out and back. I felt like the bike was going to be my strongest event in this race. Once I hit the road, I started my watch timer. I have it set to go off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. I realized right away that I made a big mistake. My watch was set to go off every 15 HOURS!!! I did not want to take the effort to reset it. I would just be careful to keep my eye on the clock instead. I got into a smooth rhythm early on. My speed was up there with very little effort. I wanted to think about spinning and not mashing. I like to keep my cadence over 80 rpm. I looked down to see what my cadence was. Crap, something was up with the cadence meter. The display field was blank. Well, I guess I'm riding 'old school' at this point. I tucked down into my aero position and was on my 56 mile journey. I tried not to think ahead too much about the bridge ahead. I wasn't so concerned about the big bridge I had to climb, but the small bridge just before it.

It is a steel grated bridge and I am so thankful it was not raining and the roads were not wet. I would probably needed a change of shorts if I had to cross it wet. Once I crossed this bridge, the big climb was next.

These shots are actually on the way back, but you can see what I was dealing with. The climb really wasn't that bad on the way out. I had a tail wind helping me up the hill and I was able to spin easily. The side rails are really low until you get to the top. I was hoping a crosswind wasn't going to blow me over the edge! When I got to the top, I let 'er rip coming down the other side. Once at the bottom I got back into the aero position and kept moving. For some weird reason I had the theme from Rawhide going through my head at this point:

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

Hey, whatever it takes to keep the pedals moving. There were plenty of water views once you cross the bridge. I was feeling good until I came across this sight:

Yep, that's a nuclear power plant in the distance. And to make it worse there are signs along the roads of the bike course stating if you hear a horn sound for 3-5 minutes to turn to a local AM radio frequency. At this point, I was hoping to make it through without hearing the horn!! I saw quite a few people in boats fishing in body of water near the plant. That left me thinking about it for quite a few miles. I am not sure I would want to know what is capable of living in that water. How many heads would that fish have? And if I did catch something, would I want to eat it? Would it eat me?

I got my head back into the bike ride after this nice diversion. I passed a few people on the rest of the 'out' portion of the ride. I got to the turnaround and was feeling good. I had a little headwind to deal with on the way back. It wasn't too bad and my speed really didn't drop. I rode past the power plant again and saw the fishermen. Again, this occupied my mind for a few miles. Then I was approaching the bridge climb again. This time I climbed into the wind and actually had to pedal to get any speed coming down the hill. I white knuckled it because the wind was blowing me around a little plus the expansion joints on the bridge would rattle the bike. And to add insult to my injury, I would have to slow down at the bottom to cross the steel grated bridge. The rest of the bike was uneventful and I made it back to T2 feeling good. I looked down at my computer and saw my ride time. I managed to go 15 minutes faster than I anticipated. Sweet! Plus, I managed to finish my nutrition bottle without the aid of my timer. My thought after the bike ride was "I love this race course!!"

T2 went smoothly and I was on my way out to the run. You have to do a 1 mile loop around the camp grounds before heading out. I made a quick pitstop at the port-john again since I didn't know when I would see another one. I made it out to the road and tried to find my running legs. The roadway leads to a dirt road and down along a river.

As you can see, it's a boring course. Picture this view (minus the bridge) for ~4.5 miles out and back. It didn't take long for me to lose focus. My plan was to just run easy for as long as I could. Problem was the sun came out just in time for me to start running. I got really hot, really fast. At each aid station I took 2 cups of water (drink one, pour one over head/body) and a cup of gatorade. I was sweating like crazy and getting crusty. Plus I was slowly losing my mind (not that I had far to go). I tried to keep it together for as long as I could. When I got to the turn around, I think I started experiencing some of the stages of grief. "Denial" - there's nothing wrong here. I'm going to be OK. I'll just change my strategy and run 5 mintues, walk 30 seconds. That will get me through this. "Anger" - Oh for pete's sake. How much longer will I be out here? Enough is enough. Whoever designed this course is a sh%thead. "Bargaining" - OK, just run 3 telephone poles and then you can walk one. Just keep it moving. The pain is not so bad. "Depression" - This is never going to end. I'm going to die out here and no one will know. I contemplated hanging myself with my shoelaces but that wouldn't work because I use stretch laces so there would be no tension. And the Neil Young song "Down by the River" was going through my head:

She could drag me
over the rainbow,
send me away
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, oh, shot her dead.

Yep, I was in a dark place now. It took everything I had to try and get me out of this funk. Other people on the run course try to offer encouragement. They said things like "Looking good." Well, there was no mirror handy, but I think I had a pretty good idea of what I looked like with dried snot on my face, drool out of the corner of my mouth, salt crust all over, hair matted down. Yeah, I looked like a freakin' supermodel. Seriously, just tell me to keep on going. "Acceptance" - Well, I'm stuck out here. Nothing I can do about it except to keep on moving. I finally made it out of my personal hell and back onto solid roadway and civilization. Just two miles to go. Only two miles..........

When I got back to the campground I had to do one more loop around and then the finish line was near. Wingman was waiting at the entrance for me. I signaled him over and told him I was feeling bad and in trouble. I asked him to cover the last mile with me. I really needed someone with me so I could keep it together and not end up in a crying heap (which I was close to doing). We walked and ran together and talked. I still have no idea if anything I was saying made sense to him. I just remember rambling on and he kept me moving. Finally the finish line was in sight. He peeled off and cut through the trees to see me finish.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I said "no mas". I was cooked and wanted to sit down. They handed me the finishers medal and I swear I thought it was a joke. Check this thing out:

I know you're all jealous of me!!

I missed my goal time by 6 minutes. I guess that's not too bad. Plus at the end imagine my surprise when they announced I took 2nd place in my division. At least that medal was a little bigger.

A huge thanks to my Wingman/Sherpa for his help this weekend. He gave in to the dark side and said this weekend could be "all about me." Nothing like feeding my ego ;-) When the race was over, I packed my gear and he took it all back to the car and packed it all up. I got to sit down and relax before we hit the road. We had to come right back as I had school today. Needless to say I was worthless in class today. I was so fatigued mentally and physically.

Not sure I would do this race again. The run course really leaves a lot to be desired. Otherwise if there was an aquabike option, I'd do it.

No rest for the weary, the Army 10 Miler is in a few weeks. Yikes!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Almost there

Tomorrow morning Wingman and I will be leaving for my race in Delaware. We'll pack the car with my stuff and head out. Before we go I have to print the turn by turn directions for the bike portion of the race. I can't help but think that the course may not be well marked and will have to plan for that. When we get to the hotel we'll check in and then go out and do some recon. There is a bridge that I will have to cross twice (out and back) and I want to check it out. Based on some internet pictures I found, I might be stopping halfway over to put my head between my knees if it's windy. I'm not scared of heights. I just hope this bridge has a nice high railing on the side.

Otherwise the course is flat so I hope to get through the bike portion smoothly. I hope to check out part of the run course as well. From what I had read about it, looks like some portions of it is packed gravel.

The only other issue I have is the Swim exit. There is a 1/4 mile run from the swim exit to T1. I plan on leaving a pair of sneakers (not my actual race sneakers) at the swim exit so I can wear them to run to T1 in. No way do I want to tear up the bottom of my feet that early in the race. The race organizers have a special spot for people to leave T1 sneakers so I'll take advantage of that.

And I have to plan my pre-race music mix. Something to get me fired up on race morning. A sample of my usual staple is:

"Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys
"Time is Running Out" - Apollo Four Forty
"Heroes" - David Bowie
"Faint" - Linkin Park
"Time Has Come Today" - The Ramones
"Superhero" - Jane's Addiction

There's more to it but I think you get the picture.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In the books

Well, my last weekend is done. I had my last weekend ride/run prior to my race. Saturday's ride was rough. For the last 2 rides I've been on I've had issues with side stitches like you get when you run. It takes forever to go away. My position on the bike has not changed. The first time it happened I just figured I drank too much water prior to heading out. On Saturday, I didn't drink too much prior to the ride. I think this time it was a sandwich I ate just before the ride. I did not get any GI issues, just those darn stitches. I had to constantly sit up and massage under my ribs. I did stop to stretch out as well. I got some relief when I sat up or stopped, but it came back as soon as I went aero again. I swear I can't win. I did feel better towards the end of the ride. I was going to head out today to do a short easy effort to see if everything was better, but I never made it out. I'll wait until my next scheduled ride. Hopefully I won't be reduced to tears during the race.

My run yesterday was uneventful, which is good. I felt fine and just kept the pace comfortable until the last couple of miles. I had some good music going on the iPod and ran the back roads to stay away from the tour-ons that came out for the weekend. I was so happy that the weather was in my favor. It was a little breezy, but cool enough that I went out in a long sleeve shirt. I really enjoy fall and winter running.

My cousin and his wife took a ride out here yesterday and I showed them a little bit of the area. It was difficult to do because traffic here is getting bad on the weekends. After our mini-tour, we drove back up island to his mom's house for a BBQ. It was a small crowd and I managed to stop and chat with everyone. Most people know about my racing and training so I am asked about upcoming races. When I get finished answering their questions, almost always, someone will say "What's wrong with you?" or "Were you dropped on your head as a baby?"

I try to explain to them why I race. I enjoy testing my limits and seeing just how far or how fast I can push myself. They think the racing is difficult when actually the race is the easy part. It's the months of training that is hard. Keeping the motivation level up and not burning out or getting injured, that's the hard part.

When I was leaving the BBQ last night, I saw a text message on my cell phone from Bruce telling me he and a couple of people would be swimming this morning. I got home around 11:30p and the thought of getting up at 5:30a to go swimming just didn't appeal to me. I set the alarm anyway and would figure things out in the morning. Needless to say I dragged my sorry ass out of bed this morning and paced up and down the hall between the kitchen and the bedroom debating swimming vs sleeping. The swimming won out. With my school schedule I am not sure what swimming days I can make at the lake this week so I knew I'd better go swim. I sent Bruce a text telling him I was on my way. He told me that he and Vicki were doing 2 miles today. I said "Good for you. I'm, doing 1." I was slightly tempted at the thought of doing 2 laps of the lake, but then I am violating the laws of the race taper. So I did my one lap, wished them good luck for the 2nd lap, drove home, showered, ate and took a nap.

So as part of taper madness, I have begun to check the weather for race day. Up until today, it was going to rain on race day. When I checked today, it said sunny and 81. Whoo hooo. I'll take it. But then again, if it rains I don't care. It's a flat course so no downhills in the rain and it's my 'A' race so I'm going all out. I am also planning out what to bring. I have my race nutrition nailed down well. I will use a 3 hr concentrated bottle of Infinite for the bike course and will supplement it with water. There are two bottle exchanges on the course. I'll stay away from the gatorade on the bike and just grab water. I'll also be packing some Clif Shot Blocks in case I start craving sweets late in the ride. For the run, that's easy. I'll use the gatorade and water at the aid stations and carry some more shot blocks with me for caffeine (I am such a caffeine junkie these days it's not even funny). I have to bring my race morning breakfast with me. Don't want to have to scramble around town the day before the race looking for food. Dinner the night before is easy, Oreo's and potato chips........... OK, just kidding. I'll just pick something from this menu.

I am still thinking about clothing. I may wear a tri top for the bike and change into a regular running shirt for the run. I prefer to wear sleeves when I run. And besides, I don't want too many people getting jealous of my awesome cycling tan.