Sunday, December 7, 2008


As incentive for December, the TGs have been given the opportunity to win TG apparel by successfully completing a personal challenge during the month. The challenge can be anything – perfect attendance at workouts, a certain number of miles done, etc. I’ve decided to not eat any ice cream until Dec. 24. I’m quite fond of ice cream, and I eat it often; but I should practice better nutrition than I do, so I figured this challenge would get me started in the right direction. I’m not giving up ice cream for the whole month, though, because it’s a family tradition to have peppermint ice cream at the holidays and I will allow myself a small portion then.

I also plan to swim 105 more 50-yard laps so I will have done 60 miles for the year. My original goal was to do 2000 laps, or 100,000 yards. Since I accomplished that on Saturday afternoon, and there are still 3½ weeks in the month, I decided to do 3 more miles. And I’d like to run 8 more miles to reach 300 miles for the year.

Then there’s the challenge of planning for next year. I don’t expect to repeat as a Setup Events age group award winner. Five events are required in 2009, and there are only three events I have any interest in doing – Smithfield (4/4), 3Sports (7/19), Patriot (9/13). A fourth possibility would be Acorn (10/4), but I don’t want my 2009 season to last as long as 2008 did. I also want to do Rocket’s Landing (5/17) and Pink Power (8/9). Entry fees for all these events will add up fast, so that’s another reason to be selective about which ones I do. Training has become a way of life for me, so maybe I’ll just train for events, and not actually compete in them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Between Seasons

Today is Thanksgiving – traditionally the day we reflect on our blessings and fortify ourselves with truly yummy food to withstand the holiday onslaught ahead. For me, it’s also a time to catch up on my life and contemplate endings and beginnings.

I finished my 2008 season with the Richmond Half-Marathon. My time was not as fast as I’d hoped it would be, but it was faster than I’d feared it might be based on my training runs. There apparently was a problem with my chip and so initially I wasn’t listed in the official results, but an email to the race organizers remedied that.

I’m glad I’m done with running for awhile. If I didn’t want to make a solo attempt at an Olympic distance race in 2009, I might be done forever. I’ve gotten so slow, “running” seems a misnomer and somewhat pointless, when walking is much easier on my various body parts. And there were the photos from the Half as I neared the finish line – I look positively decrepit! Of course, I had just dashed across the street to retrieve my hat, which had blown off my head. It was a TG hat, and I wasn’t about to let it get away!

On many levels, my year was a success. I made my goal of earning a SetUp Events age-group award (actual prize unknown, but my name’s at the top of the list). My plan of doing more events than anyone else in my age group was the key. However, five sprints between late March and early October (plus one more non-SetUp sprint) is not a schedule I think I’ll repeat next year. I had a few PRs in the swim and bike legs of individual races. Though we’re only talking seconds, any improvement gives me incentive to keep “tri-ing.”

I didn’t do a whole Olympic distance by myself, as I’d hoped to do, but the HyVee relay with my sisters was my favorite race of the year. We’re already signed up to do it again on June 28, 2009.

My new season starts on Monday, December 1, when indoor cycling begins. Before then, though, I have closets to clean. And I’ll enjoy my turkey and pumpkin pie.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It was a What???

It was reported in last week’s paper that a large yellow animal, thought to be a lion, or maybe a bobcat, had been seen roaming a suburban street in Southside Richmond early Tuesday morning. Now this was not just any street – it was my street! The street I run on when I run in my neighborhood. If I’d done the run I usually do on Tuesday mornings, I might have seen this animal, too. Or maybe it would have seen me first. Would it have thought “tasty breakfast morsel,” or “frightening apparition”? The animal has not been found, or seen again on the street, but I ran at West Creek today.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Marathon Training

I had intended to concentrate my training this weekend on the Richmond Half-Marathon, which is 4 weeks away. However, I’d promised a friend that I’d go with her to an indoor cycling class at her fitness center on Sat. morning, so I met her there at 7:45 a.m. and we cycled until 10:15 a.m. I enjoyed the class, as indoor cycling is one of my favorite activities. The instructor was very good, too, so I felt like I’d had a challenging ride.

I came home to do my usual weekly “clean up after the cats” chores, and then I decided to go for a swim at the Tuckahoe YMCA. (The JCC was closed for maintenance, so members were allowed to use the Y, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity). After doing 1,000 meters, I went to Baskin-Robbins for a chocolate ice cream cone. I recently learned chocolate milk was a good recovery drink; I don’t drink milk (never have, even as a child), but I’m quite fond of ice cream, so I figured a chocolate cone was an acceptable substitute. Of course, since I was at the mall, I had to check out the sales. Then I had to go to another mall to hunt down a sweater to match the skirt I’d bought. A stop for groceries completed my day. I considered staying up to watch SP on SNL, but since I was meeting T&B early on Sunday for a trail run, I opted for sleep instead.

Sun. morning we did almost 10 miles on the trails at Pocahontas SP. It was a great day until about mile 8.8, when I tripped and fell flat on my face. Fortunately, the only damage was a scratched check and badly bent glasses. Our time for the whole run was about 3 hours. Since that’s my approximate time for the Half, I’m hoping 10 miles on trails will prove to be good training for 13 miles on streets.

IM Envy

Several TGs I know are preparing to do an Ironman soon and others are thinking about doing one next year. I admire their determination and ability to achieve this goal. I wish I were them. I wish I’d discovered triathlons when I was younger, when the possibility of doing an IM might have been feasible. I think I would have been physically stronger then, and more importantly, I would have been more confident about the outcome and more willing to risk participating. Now self-doubt tempers my IM desire – even with the best training in the world and perfect race conditions, how could I ever be fast enough to finish in the allotted time? And what if I seriously hurt myself trying? So I race vicariously as I follow the progress of my fellow IM-TGs, both in training and on the course. Even though I am not making their same journey, I’m glad to know them as they pursue their IM dream. I wish them smooth water, no headwind, and fleet feet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Relay that Wasn’t

I was supposed to have done the Riverside Sprint on Oct. 12 as a relay with two co-workers. Runner developed some sort of upper respiratory problem on Thursday, but she assured us she would be fine by Sunday. Since she had been the impetus for forming the team, we hoped for the best and didn’t consider a back-up plan. But when she was not better by Saturday afternoon, she reluctantly withdrew from the race. I figured Biker and I could manage as a two-person team and that I would do the swim and run. When I called her Saturday evening to confirm this plan, though, she said she also wasn’t feeling well. (Did I really believe her? Well, maybe.) But now I had a problem.

Not doing the race wasn’t an option. Afterall, I’d stood in a long line at 3Sports for packet pick-up and had a half slice of pumpkin pound cake as part of my “carb loading” dinner. As I gathered my gear, I thought about what part/parts of the tri I might do – just swim, swim and bike, swim and run, or swim, bike and run. I wasn’t excited about the bike course, but I put my bike, helmet and shoes in the car anyway.

Sunday morning, after talking with the race director, I switched the entry from relay to age group. I set up my transition spot and headed to the pool, where I chatted with other TGs while waiting for my swim start.

The swim went okay. I might have shaved a few seconds off my time if I’d been able to heave myself out of the pool quicker, but I was close to my anticipated time. The lengthy run around the building from the pool to the transition area, as well as a little trouble with my bike, added to my transition time, but I was feeling strong as I began the bike leg. I fostered that feeling as long as I could because I knew the dreaded Winterfield hill loomed ahead. I passed a few riders, and was passed by a few more. (Personal pet peeve – riders who don’t bother to say “on your left.”) I survived the hill and the vehicle traffic on the course. Then it was on to the run. I felt like I was maintaining a decent pace, with minimum walking, while I was on the course, so I was surprised to discover when it was over that, in fact, this was my slowest tri run this year, and maybe slowest ever. But, no matter, I finished. The other two women who had registered in the age group didn’t show for the race, so I got a nice pint glass and a watch cap for my effort.

This was the third time I’ve done this particular sprint course. The first time, six years ago, was my first official triathlon (I’d done an unofficial one the year before somewhere else). I don’t recall my times for the event -- probably the whole thing took somewhere around 2 hours and 15-20 minutes, but I do remember having to walk my old bike up the Winterfield hill. The second time was four years ago. I was supposed to do it then as a relay, too, but my partner bowed out several weeks before the event, so I did it solo. Riding a different bike, I managed to get up the hill without walking, and I finished in 2:11:25. This year I was a few seconds faster in the swim and transitions, and about 8 minutes faster on the bike, but over 3 minutes slower on the run, for a total time of 2:06:37. Even though that’s a PR for the course, I’d liked to have had a better run time. But next year is another season, and I expect to “tri’ again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Important Thing Is I Finished

Yesterday, Oct. 4, I did the Giant Acorn Sprint at Lake Anna. I will remember this event for two things. First, I had a hard time with the swim; so hard, in fact, that about 100 or so meters into it, I considered raising my hand and quitting. I decided to keep going to the first buoy, though. After a few minutes there trying to catch my breath, I headed for the next buoy. The swim didn’t get any easier, but I persevered. I don’t know why the swim was so difficult. I like to swim, and I’m fine in a pool. In past open water swims, it’s taken me some time to adjust to the cooler temperatures, but I was wearing a wetsuit at Lake Anna and really didn’t feel cold in the 74º water. However, except for brief intervals, my breathing was ragged and my stroke floundered. I felt marginally better with my face out of the water, so I backstroked and sidestroked from buoy to buoy, and, eventually, I finished. My swim time was 26:58, many minutes slower than I’d expected, but I was so glad I’d gotten through it, it felt like a PR.

At T1, my left foot got stuck in my wetsuit, and my chain came off my bike when I lifted it off the rack, but I was still on track to finish well within the allotted time of 2½ hours.

The bike course was pleasant, at least until the end. At the 10-mile mark, I thought I was going to make or even beat my anticipated time. The last two miles, however, seemed to have an unexpected abundance of “rolling hills.” I would have known this if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn on the way to the marina and/or had driven the course before the race. Anyway, the terrain slowed my pace. Then, as I was coming into the marina, I encountered participants who’d already finished the race who were leaving with their bikes and gear, and spectators with dogs and children. I decided it would be safer to dismount early and walk my bike in than to try to ride through the crowd, which added a few more minutes to my bike leg.

T2 was uneventful, and I was off on the run. I soon suspected I was the last runner on the course, and by the turn-around point, I was sure of it. I’ve never been the last finisher before. But I was having a decent run – certainly better than my last two sprints, so I put aside my embarrassment at being last and concentrated on finishing strong. My time was 2:21:05, 20 minutes and 20 seconds behind the other woman in our age group.

Although I’m disappointed with my performance, I’m not totally disheartened. I didn’t quit. Some of the things that slowed me down might not happen again (of course, there are always unknown obstacles to overcome!), but they’re things I can aim to improve next year. And most important, I finished my fifth sprint for 2008 and secured my spot in the Setup Events awards.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tri “Green”?

I’d thought about going to NC to visit my sister this weekend, but there is a gas shortage where she lives, so the trip is off. Even though I have a car that gets decent gas mileage, I don’t want to use gas for a trip that’s really not necessary. And that, plus gas at nearly $4/gallon, has made me take another took at my driving habits. I routinely combine errands and extra-curricular activities with my daily commute from the southside to downtown, but I’m thinking I should do more.

My options are limited, however. I could take the bus to work, but I’d have to adjust my routine and join a different pool and fitness center, one located closer to my house. I’m not quite ready to do that yet, so a more feasible solution would be to bundle my swim and strength training workouts into two days and drive just on those days. On the days I rode the bus, I could run or bike in my neighborhood. Biking or running to/from work is not an option.

But a problem with living “green” is that I would miss the fellowship of my training companions. I have limited my trips to WC, as it seems counterproductive to drive 25 miles round trip to ride my bike, when I could do the same thing closer to home. WC is a wonderful course, though, and I would hate to give it up entirely. The same is true of running at UR or Byrd Park. Trying to be “green” presents a new training obstacle, as I struggle to find, and maintain, a proper balance between responsibly conserving and consuming.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

“Best Laid Plan”

For the past 2 weeks, my life has been focused on work, to the detriment of my training schedule. I squeezed in a swim practice, and a bike ride and a run around my neighborhood, but mostly the pages of my training log are blank. Now that the September appellate-court crunch has subsided, training can become a priority again. I have 1 and 1/3 more sprints to do this season – the Acorn on Oct. 4, and the swim part of the Riverside Sprint on Oct. 12. Realistically, I’m as prepared for these events as I’m going to be. Continued training will help maintain my fitness level, but it won’t make me faster. However, it’s not triathlon training I’m worried about.

I’m also signed up for the Half-Marathon on Nov. 15, and I do need to be building up my endurance for those 13.1 miles. The last time I did a half-marathon (November, 2 years ago), I finished my tri season in July and then focused on running for the next 3 months. That’s not happening this year, and I’m feeling woefully unprepared. Unfortunately, “cramming” for a race doesn’t produce the same benefit as it might for an exam. I’ve heard under-training is better than over-training, and I’m hoping that theory actually works. I don’t have many weekends left that are available for some longer distance runs, i.e., more than the 3-4 miles I’ve been doing. Of course, I never anticipated running the whole thing anyway, so I expect to finish – eventually – even if I walk more than I’d intended. But I’d wanted to beat my previous time, which was just under 3 hours. I’m not feeling anywhere ready to do that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Goal Deferred

At the beginning of this year, when I started this blog, one of my goals was to do an Olympic distance triathlon, most likely the Patriot. I knew it was an ambitious goal, but emboldened by New Year optimism, I believed I could do it. Even into spring and early summer, I still thought doing the Oly was possible. In mid-July, however, as the deadline approached for signing up before the price increased, reality forced me to reconsider. I didn’t feel well enough prepared to tackle the longer distance, and I knew I would not be doing much training in August while I was in Iowa. So, I registered for the Sprint instead.

With no other Oly possible for me this year, the question now is, will I make another attempt next year? Given that my performance seems to be declining with each Sprint I do, I’m doubting I have the stamina for an Oly, even if I were assured of plenty of time to train properly, which I’m not (at least if I’d like to keep my present job, and it pays for my triathlon habit). Wishful thinking will carry me only so far on the Oly track. Since I don’t have to decide yet, though, doing an Olympic can be a goal deferred, rather than one deterred.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notch No. 4

The Patriot Sprint on Sept. 7 was my fourth Setup event for this year, so I’ve accomplished my goal of qualifying for an age-group award. As of August 26, having done three sprints, I was ranked 1/10. I’m signed up for a fifth sprint, the Giant Acorn on Oct. 4, so I’m pretty sure I’ll keep my top spot, because I will have done more events than any other woman in the age group. But even if I get relegated to second or third, I will still be within my overall goal.

The Patriot presented a new and different experience. Because of the rain from tropical storm Hanna on Sept. 6, the swim was canceled. Instead, we ran what we were told was a 1.25 mile loop around the event site. According to my Garmin, however, it was longer than that, and the web page for the event now says it was 1.5 miles. Considering the trek to the transition area, my time of 18:11 for the first leg was okay.

The bike ride was mostly on Route 5; while I didn’t like being so close to speeding cars, I felt more confident on my bike than in past events, and even passed a few riders. My time of 58:23 was slower than I expected for 12 miles; but, again, there was some discrepancy on the actual distance. Both 12 and 13 miles were mentioned in the pre-race briefing, my odometer showed 13, and I heard two other riders say their odometers registered 14 miles. So, I’d like to think I rode more than 12 miles – otherwise, somewhere on the course I must have stopped and taken a nap, and don’t remember doing it!

We finished with a 5K run on the Colonial Parkway. I set a new personal low for slowness on the run, and my overall time was a disappointing 2:07.40. Even so, I got a nice bottle of wine and a glass for finishing 2/2 in my age group.

Monday, August 25, 2008


At about 6:30 p.m. tonight, 108 hours after I began, I completed my birthday fitness challenge. I’m glad I did it, but I’m more relieved that it’s finished. Although, in round numbers, it took only 12 total hours for all three components (1/2 hour run, 5 ½ hours bike, and 6 hours swim), I feel like I’ve done nothing but this challenge for the past 5 days. I could have stuck to my original plan to spread it out over the whole week and do shorter distances each day, but once I got started, I decided it was, afterall, supposed to be a challenge, so I aimed to increase my work-outs and do it in 5 days to make it as demanding as practicable for me. I learned from doing this challenge that I can push myself to do greater distances, but I’m happy I don’t have to maintain this same schedule as my regular training plan.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

bfit update

Since my last report (48 hours ago), I’ve completed the bike part and swum 2.5 more miles, which just leaves 2 miles of swimming to do in the next 3 days. The challenge has gone better than I thought it might. After a one-half mile swim at ACAC Saturday morning, I rode my bike 36 miles at WC in increments of 14, 12, and 10 miles, stopping for water and a snack after each segment. Then for a change of scenery, I did the final 12 miles around my neighborhood after lunch. I had thought about stopping after 26 miles and finishing the bike ride on Sunday, but I decided I wanted to do the whole ride in 24 hours, which meant I had to finish by 6 p.m. Saturday evening. Other than a sore seat and tight shoulders, I felt okay after the ride. Since I didn’t get a second swim in on Saturday, I did 2 miles on Sunday – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Since I usually don’t swim this distance all at once, I was surprised that it was so doable, although I certainly wasn’t setting any records for speedy laps. I plan to do another mile of swimming Monday morning before work and the final mile Monday evening, unless possible thunderstorms close the pool. If that happens, I'll finish on Tuesday, but I'd really like to be done with this challenge sooner rather than later. Next year I think I’ll make up my own version – 6 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and 18 miles of biking, to be done over 2 days.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Yesterday I began the birthday bfit challenge. So far, I’ve run the required 2 miles, swam 1.5 miles and biked 14 miles. That leaves 4.5 miles to swim and 48 miles to bike in the next 5 days. Barring unforeseen events, I’m thinking I will be able to do this.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Life Story in Six Words

Last week a blogger I know challenged her readers to write their "bios" in six words. I'd been mulling this over for a few days, but six pithy words kept eluding me, until this morning when I was biking at WC. The six words that best describe my life: Set goal. Make it happen. Repeat.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be editor of the yearbook. The faculty sponsor taught typing, and she chose the yearbook staff from her best students. So, in my junior year, I took typing. I secured a place as a junior assistant on the yearbook staff that year, and I was chosen as editor for the next year.

When I decided to go to law school, I was determined to make the Law Review. Although my first year grades weren't good enough to be eligible (moving a 10-year-old 100 miles away from her friends into a new environment did not make for a home life conducive to study), I persevered. By the time I was in my third (and final) year, I'd earned a position on the Law Review staff and even had a small article published.

When I started doing triathlons, my goal was simply to finish the event. Then I started trying to improve my times, and I'm still working on that. I'm also considering doing a longer distance race. It didn't happen this year, but the possibility gives me something to work toward.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Birthday Fitness Challenge Ahead, Maybe

My birthday is later this month. Since it’s one of the “milestone” years (like being old enough to vote or to drink legally), I’ve been thinking of how best to mark the occasion of being old enough to start collecting early Social Security (at a reduced rate, and if I weren’t still fully employed). Several of the TGs have done the birthday fitness challenge – swimming, biking and running various distances based on their ages. For example, a 26-year-old would swim 2 miles, bike 26 miles, and run 6 miles – all in the same day for gold, in three days for silver, or one week for bronze. If I were 26, or even 46, I’d do this challenge without a second thought. But I’m going to be 62 – that’s 2 miles of running, 6 miles of swimming, and 62 miles of biking. Certainly, I won’t be going for gold or silver, but I am contemplating trying for bronze.

The run will be the only part I’ll be able to do all at one time. The swimming and biking parts will have to be done in segments, and I’ve been trying to plan a schedule for them. That I’ll be in Iowa the week before my birthday complicates the planning, as that means the next week will be hectic at work. Swimming a minimum of one mile per day for six days should be doable, even if I have to break it up into ½-mile chunks – one in the morning and another one at night.

The bike ride is a whole other matter. Timewise, I won’t be able to divide it into five or six short rides during the week. The most efficacious plan would be to do it in two days, on the weekend after my birthday on Friday. That means 32 miles on Saturday and 30 miles on Sunday – a daunting endeavor, since, to date, I’ve never ridden more than 20 miles at one time. A more practical plan would be one 14-mile ride and two rides of 24 miles each, which I can manage, if I can find a third day to ride during the week.

After I finish the challenge, or attempt to, I’m celebrating with a lemon drop martini, or maybe two since it’s a special occasion.

Geese Speed

As I rode down the FB hill at WC on my bike last Saturday morning, I saw the ubiquitous flock of geese that inhabit the area around the lake. Now, I hate those geese. In fact, due to a bad encounter with a mean rooster when I was 3, I hate anything with feathers, from a turkey buzzard to a parakeet. I don’t even like feather boas. Coach G. was riding beside me. As soon as I saw the geese, I said, “I’ve got to go as fast as I can,” and I took off, pedaling furiously until I was well past the offending creatures. (I later explained my sudden departure to G.) I had so much momentum, I practically coasted up the next incline. It was an amazing sensation to go that fast. I’d like to be able to do it again – sans geese, of course.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Team Work

It began with a random lunchtime conversation. I jokingly suggested we should have an office triathlon relay team. Immediately, one co-worker said “I’ll bike,” another volunteered to run, and I said, “that leaves the swim for me.” Then, because my co-workers were actually interested in this idea, I told them there would be a sprint triathlon in Richmond in October that we could do. I gave them some details on logistics, and plenty of opportunity to change their minds about participating, but they both insisted they wanted to do it. So, our team of “Running from the Law” has been born.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bele Chere

On Saturday, July 26, I ran the fastest 5K I’ve ever run. While this in itself is a rather remarkable accomplishment, it’s actually fairly amazing, considering the course had “a few moderate hills.” When my younger sister JJ suggested I join her for the Bele Chere 5K in Asheville, NC, she promised me a fun run, but she lied about the terrain. (She explained later she was afraid I wouldn’t do it if she told me the truth.) I had expected some hills, of course, because the race was in Asheville, but I wasn’t prepared for a “roller coaster” running adventure, beginning with the first hill just around the corner from the starting line. Up and down; momentary flat; up, up, and down; more of the same for 3.1 miles. Sometimes I thought about bike riding while I ran, as I tried to visualize my feet shifting gears to create momentum. Mostly, though, I heeded my sister’s alternating words of encouragement and admonition, as she raced ahead and jogged in place while she waited for me to catch up. Then we crested the final hill and sped toward the finish line for a time of 36:44. Since that was a PR for me, I was happy with the result, even though I was 9/13 in my age group. JJ has now decided she needs to be my personal on-site running coach, so she’s thinking about doing the Richmond Half-Marathon with me in November.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

3Sports Sprint

Today was my seventh triathlon on the Shady Grove course. (I did my first one here in 2004). On the plus side – my swim time was a PR for this event (Thanks, Coach AC!), and my bike time was also a PR.

However, on the minus side – I was beat by the heat on the run. Buoyed by my performance in recent workouts, I was hoping for a PR on the run, too; but I’d done those runs in the mornings, when it was 20 degrees cooler. Today, the hot, humid air was like a giant straw that slurped my energy down to the last bubble in the glass. I walked more than I ran, and my time for the 5K was abysmal, probably my slowest ever since I started doing triathlons.

But I finished, another event done toward my goal. Next up is the Patriot Sprint in about six weeks. The weather for last year’s Patriot was hot, so I plan to be ready for more of the same.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa starts Sunday, July 20. This event is in its 36th year. Bikers begin the ride by dipping their rear wheels in the Missouri River on the western side of Iowa and end it one week later when they dip their front wheels in the Mississippi River on the eastern side of the state. Although you can drive straight across Iowa on I-80 in about four hours, the Ragbrai route meanders along country roads and includes plenty of hills. (Yes, Iowa has hills!). The average daily ride is about 70 miles. One day of the week includes an extra loop for those bikers wanting to do a century ride. The route alternates annually between the northern and southern parts of Iowa. This year it passes within four miles of my parents’ farm.

For years I’ve hankered to participate in Ragbrai. My sister-in-law has done it several times, riding a recumbent bike. Riders are chosen by lottery, and entries for the week long ride are capped at 8500. An additional 1500 riders are allowed to ride each day for a single day, or part of a day. If I were in Iowa on Sunday morning, I could pedal my bike to where county road M16 meets Tamarack Trail, ride some miles with the Ragbrai group, and call my dad to pick me up in his truck when we stopped for lunch in a neighboring town. But I’m signed up to do the 3Sport Sprint, so Ragbrai will stay on my list of things I’d like to do for another year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday on the Trail with T&B

My usual Sunday morning routine is to “sleep in,” which means I get up about 7 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m., make a pot of coffee and read the paper. After I’ve perused the ads and worked the puzzles, I’m ready to take on the rest of my day. At 7 a.m. this morning, however, I was at the entrance to the Buttermilk Trail, ready to begin the 7.5-mile loop with my “play pals” T&B.

We hadn’t gone far when I realized I needed to take off my sunglasses because it was dark in the woods! Then a piece broke off T’s fuel belt so that it didn’t fit properly around her waist, and B. graciously agreed to carry the belt for her, as it did fit him. These adjustments behind us, we scurried along the trail, occasionally stopping to let some bikers pass. As we reached the Boulevard bridge, we saw several police cars and wondered if there had been another incident like the one last week on Belle Isle. Apparently, however, the problem was that a biker had been stopped for riding his bike across the footbridge rather than on the road. T. sped across the bridge, with B. and I several lengths behind. We regrouped on the other side and continued on the trail.

The trail seemed rockier than the last time I’d been on it, about two months ago. Trail running is supposed to be easier on the body because dirt is softer than concrete or pavement. But several miles of clambering up and down rocks, and dodging exposed tree roots, made me question just how much “easier” it really is! (Particularly as I made one spectacular descent – feet sliding and arms flailing.) Running on shady trails, for the most part, is cooler than running on roads and sidewalks, a fact we appreciated as the humidity increased.

Crossing the bridge onto Belle Isle, B. raced ahead, no doubt feeling much lighter on his feet because all the water bottles he’d been carrying were nearly empty. We completed the run in less than two hours. This was nine minutes faster than last time for me, a result worth the change in my routine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Strategy May Be Working

My plan to earn a Setup Events Age Group Award hinges on doing more events than anyone else in my age group. After one event, I was ranked 7/7, but after two, I’m now 2/9. The woman in first place has also done two events, and she’s speedier than I am, so if she does two more events (it takes at least four to qualify for an award), she’ll stay ahead of me. If any of the women ranked below me now, who’ve each done one event, did more events, they could move up, too, because judging by their times for the events they did, they’re also faster than I am. My third event in this series will be the 3Sports Sprint at Shady Grove on July 20, and I’m considering either the Patriot in September or the “Big Nut” in October, or maybe both for good measure.

Knowing When to Say When

Fearless Fourteen by J. Evanovitch, the latest volume in the Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter mystery series, has been published. A friend told me about these books several years ago, and every summer I read the newest one. Some are more entertaining than others, and the more recent books are not as good as the earlier ones. Another friend, who also has read them all, remarked that someone should tell the author it’s time to stop – Stephanie should give up the bounty hunter business, and Ranger, and settle down in the Burg with Joe.

But I imagine it would be hard for JE to let go of the fictional characters that populate her books, just as it would be hard for me now to quit doing triathlons. A physical injury certainly would hamper my participation; but short of that, will I know it’s time to stop? I do not want to become a caricature of a triathlete, someone whose name on the registration list makes the race director, as well as other competitors, grimace and groan. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but when it happens, I’m counting on a kind friend or teammate to say “Enough.”

Friday, July 4, 2008

Taking Stock

I like to keep track of things in my life, from how many days until I could retire from my job (546) to how many dimes I’ve saved in a jar on my dresser (690). I know that so far this year I’ve read 21 books (of which People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was the best), seen 3 movies, and written 28 blog entries. I’ve also swum 51,000 yards, or nearly 29 miles; biked 106 miles (plus 43 hours of indoor cycling); run 147 miles, attended 37 strength training sessions, and completed in 2 and 1/3 triathlons. In the same period last year, I swam 28,000 yards, or almost 16 miles, biked 64 miles, ran 130 miles, went to strength training 44 times, and did one triathlon. My numbers for 2006 are comparable. Triathletes who train at a much higher intensity than I do would have logged many more miles in the same time frame, of course, so my stats are meaningful only to me. They show consistency in my training routine and help me stay motivated. However, even though I feel like I have more stamina, maybe even slightly more confidence in my ability to do more than sprints, I’m not getting any faster. Perhaps, given the maxim that age slows us down, I should be glad I simply can maintain my times.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

We Did It!

Remember in my last post I said I always leave behind something I really need – this time it was my wetsuit! When I left for Iowa a week before the race, the swim had been cancelled due to flooding at the original site, so I decided not to take my wetsuit. I thought about packing it, “just in case,” but I didn’t really think I would need it. To my great dismay, however, I learned on Thursday (6/19) that the swim had been reinstated and the water temperature in the lake we would swim in was 73º. I wasn’t sure I could complete the swim without a wetsuit, and I was devastated that our sister relay would fail because of me. On Friday, I located a dive shop in Des Moines (a 2-hour trip from my parents’ farm) that had wetsuits for sale for $127.95 and I was prepared to buy one when we went to DM on Saturday to attend the mandatory race briefing and pick up our packets, as I was having no luck finding one to rent and figured it would be better than none. At the race expo, however, I did find a wetsuit for rent ($50 plus tax and cost to return), which put some gloss back on my attitude.

Because the race had been moved from its original location, and then revamped again to include the swim, there were two transition areas – the first at the swim site where the bike course started, and the second at the run site where the bike course ended. Bikes had to be racked at T1 on Saturday night, and the age group solo competitors also had to take their running shoes, etc. to T2. Neither site had any parking, so athletes were to park on race day at a shopping mall several miles away and ride busses to the swim venue for body marking and chip pick-up. Then they would be transported back to the mall from the run venue after the event ended.

This plan worked fine for everyone but the relay team runners, as the swim and run sites were 2+ miles apart and there was miscommunication about getting from one site to the other. One race official said on Saturday there would be no shuttle bus between them, and another official said there would be. An email was sent Saturday night to all participants clarifying the bus schedule, but we didn’t see the message, so my sisters and I all went to the swim venue. Then JJ, who was our runner, had to take the bus back to the mall, drive to the office park from which spectators and relay runners were being transported, and take another bus to the run site. She was not happy about this. She was even less happy when the bus stopped 15 blocks from the site because the roads were closed for the race and all the passengers had to walk the rest of the way. JJ can be quite feisty when she’s upset. Overhearing her tirade when told she could not open a gate to cross and had to walk around to the other end of the fence to enter T2, a volunteer immediately commandeered a golf cart and drove her to where she needed to be. JJ did remember to thank the volunteer.

Meanwhile, I was getting ready for the swim, which started at 6 a.m. The relay swimmers, about 150 of us, were in the third wave. The water temperature was 75º. I didn’t feel as chilly when I entered the water as I had at Yorktown, but it was still hard at first to get any rhythm in my stroke. I concentrated on swimming from buoy to buoy, and I cheered myself on by occasionally rolling onto to my back to see how far I’d progressed since the last buoy. My swim time was 48:55, which was eleven minutes less than the hour I’d allotted myself and five minutes faster than my one practice swim at the JCC pool.

T1 went smoothly. JB had been wearing her helmet since 4 a.m. so she wouldn’t forget to put it on. I gave her the chip and she took off. I’d planned to walk to the run site, but JB’s husband had driven to the swim site (even though spectators had been discouraged from doing so), and he gave me a ride. This, of course, inflamed JJ and made her recounting of her own trip to the site even more animated.

We had expected JB to ride the course in 1½ - 2 hours. When that time passed and she wasn’t there yet, we began to worry. We hadn’t been able to drive the course on Saturday because there were youth triathlon events that day that used much of the same routes, so all the roads were closed. Returning bikers had reported the course was very windy and had a rather steep hill in the beginning. We also heard there had been an accident, but a race official assured us we would have been notified if JB had been involved, so we continued to wait and I nibbled a few more fingernails. Finally, I saw her approaching the dismount line; her time – 2:12:05.

Another chip transfer and JJ was off on the run. JB, her husband, and I waited for JJ near the finish line. After we’d been there awhile, I noticed JB was still wearing her bike helmet! JJ did the run in 1:12:12. She would have been faster but she stopped at every water stop to pour two cups of water on herself plus drink one because she was so hot in the official race shirt I’d told her to wear. I’d read on the race website that participants were encouraged to wear their shirts, and it seemed like a nice “tech” shirt, but according to JJ, it didn’t “breathe” properly. Her favorite line from Talladega Nights – “Sweet Baby J----!” – and her desire not to let the team down kept her going.

Our total time was 4:17:27. I’d predicted we’d do it in between 4 and 4½ hours, so we were pleased, and I was especially proud of my sisters for participating. By the next day, they were almost willing to do it again.

A final highlight. While we waited for JJ to complete the run, JB and I were interviewed by a reporter for the Des Moines Register. The lower front page of Monday’s paper carried this blurb under the topic heading “More triathlon coverage” – “Family Effort: Three sisters who grew up in Hancock, [our names and ages], teamed up to complete the amateur portion of the Hy-Vee Triathlon on Sunday.”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On to Iowa

The flood waters are receding, and we're leaving for Iowa in the morning. I'm not good at packing -- I always take too much stuff, and forget something I really need, so packing for this trip is a particular chore. I have a checklist, but there are a lot of variables in getting ready for an event out of town and a week away -- a week that will be spent on the farm answering my parents' questions, "What is this thing you're doing?" and "Why are you doing this?" and
"You drove 1200 miles to ride a bike and run around Des Moines?" It's a very good thing I don't have to explain an IM to them!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Change in Plan

For months I’ve been planning to do the Hy-Vee olympic triathlon with my sisters, and I was supposed to leave for Iowa early next week. But due to the severe flooding in and around the area in Des Moines where the triathlon was to be held, the event has been moved to a higher and drier part of the city and there will be no swim. The event now will consist of a 10K run, 24-mile bike ride, and 5K run. I think I will do the first run, but that, too, could change. My sister JJ, who lives in NC and was going to drive with me, is having second thoughts about going at all – she thinks the change in the tri course, plus the flooding, is a “sign” we should stay home. Although I can understand her concerns, I don’t want to cancel all our plans unless absolutely necessary, so I’m hoping conditions improve soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

no. 2, on the way to 4

On Sunday (6/8) I did the Yorktown Sprint, my second Setup event in my quest to earn an age group award for 2008 (of course, I'm currently 7/7, but now that I've done 2 events and the other six women have only done 1 each, I'm hoping my standing will improve). The sprint featured a 650 meter open water swim in the York River, a mostly shady and flat 12-mile bike ride, and a hot 3.1 mile run. Because the air temperature at 4:30 a.m. was 78-80 degrees and the water temperature was 76-78 degrees, I opted not to wear my wet suit, as did most of the other 500+ competitors. But the water did feel a little chilly when we first entered, and I had a hard time catching my breath when I tried to put my face in. I swam at least the first 100-150 meters with my face out of the water before I found a comfortable stroke to get me through the swim part. One of the reasons I chose to do this event was to get some open water swim practice before Hy-Vee on 6/22. I think for that one I'm wearing my wet suit.

The bike ride went well -- I was prepared for the small hill at the beginning of the course, managed to pass a few people en route, and didn't fall off at the dismount. When I started the run, the temperature must have been at least 90 and I was grateful for the ice in the tiny cooler that I had with me in transition. I grabbed my hat and my race number and took off. About 1/4 mile down the road I realized I was still wearing the shoes I'd biked in! I guess I hadn't noticed this before because I hadn't worn my shoes with clips. Anyway, it was too hot to go back and change shoes, so I just kept going and did more walking than running. The real downside, however, was that I ended up with some painful blisters on my feet. I finished in 2:01:15 -- 76 seconds slower than I'd hoped for. I got a lovely paperweight for being 2nd in my age group (or, stated differently, because there were only 2 of us, last in my age group!). The woman who took 1st had a slower swim time than I did, but a faster bike time, and we were about the same on the run. I have to wonder if I'd remembered to put on my running shoes if I could have done better, but I did manage a negative split.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fun, Not Fear

I spent last weekend in North Carolina with my two sisters, one brother-in-law, one niece, and two big dogs. Aside from dealing with a leaky water heater, we had a wonderful time. I successfully defended my title as “Sister Scrabble Champion,” despite a strong challenge from my baby sister. I even did some “training” – if you count walking the dogs on the beach and riding a one-speed, coaster-brake bike around town.

I did do one amazing thing, however. I went parasailing with my niece. Harnessed to a parachute that was pulled by a motorboat, we drifted 800 feet (we were told that’s equivalent to a 30-story building) above the coastline for 10-12 minutes. The feeling of floating in the sky was fantastic. Of course, there was a moment of near panic as we ascended, when I realized the boat was a long, long way down and I hadn’t asked what to do in case of emergency if we needed to come down immediately. But since there was nothing to do but hang on to the harness strap, I decided I might as well enjoy the ride. As we descended, we dropped into a sea of swirling jellyfish (the captain said they weren’t the stinging kind). Then we were pulled onto the boat and returned to shore via a banana boat. What an adventure!

So, if I can parasail without trepidation, why can’t I ride my bike with both feet clipped into the pedals? For that matter, why does starting off with only one foot clipped in make me feel like I’m taking my first unsteady ride without training wheels? Climbing onto my bike has become a test of fortitude. I’m okay while I’m riding, but I’m terrified to stop because I fear falling off and seriously hurting myself. The three hairy cats that share my house would not make particularly handy nursemaids.

This morning’s ride at WC started fine. After two loops, I stopped at the parking lot for water. Hurray, no problem! I decided to practice some “stops.” One “almost fall” later, the chain on my bike got twisted. As I stopped, with my left foot not clipped in and on the ground, I toppled over on my right side with that foot still clipped in.

The only outward damage was a skinned knee. I got back on the bike, but my confidence was gone. Fear is a powerful glue. I simply could not lift both feet off the ground onto the pedals at the same time. I wanted to put the bike in the car and not get on it again until indoor cycling begins. But I’m supposed to do the Yorktown Sprint next Sunday, so I knew I had to deal then and there with my fear.

I changed into regular street shoes. Riding with the heels jammed against the pedals, I managed two short loops (between the parking lot and the FB entrance) and stopped without incident.

I couldn’t tell any difference in effort or speed riding clips v. no clips. Now I’m wondering if I should put regular pedals back on my bike as long as I’m riding it on the road. I want to feel as comfortable riding this bike as I did riding last week’s beach cruiser. Surely a more relaxed attitude will compensate for any perceived lack of efficiency. My new mantra – fun, not fear.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Now that I've announced the existence of this blog to the TGs, I'm feeling obligated, or maybe even compelled, to produce entries, and especially ones that people might think were interesting enough to read. In the words of a country song I like, "what was I thinking?!"

And to completely change the subject, one month from today is the HY-Vee Tri. I don't think I'm nearly ready for the swim part. I have yet to swim the distance required (.9 mile). I've done .8 twice, but never seem to have time to do more. I'm getting worried I won't be acclimated to the distance for the tri, and what I'm hearing in my head with each stroke is "what was I thinking?!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Toys

I have a wetsuit now, complete w/ TG logo, which I got on a great sale from Fit2Race. I'm not sure it fits right, though. When I ordered it, I gave them my measurements and took the size they said I should have. It was incredibly hard to get on, which the directions say means that it probably fits. Another marker of proper fit is whether you can "pinch" a bit of material in the arms and thighs once the suit is on, and if you can't, it's probably too small. I can do that in the arms, but not the thighs (oh, rue my misproportioned body!), so I'm debating whether to keep it or exchange it.

I have new trail running shoes, too. I'd intended to get a pair on sale, but they weren't as comfortable as the non-sale shoes, so I paid full price for a pair of La Sportiva Fireblades. According to the box, they were a Runners World choice in 2007. I've been wearing them some around the house before I try them on a trail.

I also have a new digital camera. It's not either of the models I originally thought I wanted, but the price was right for the features (do you sense a theme in the way I buy things?). An amazing thing to me about the purchase was that I saved $30 simply by ordering it online and then going to the local store to pick it up, instead of going to the store, taking it off the shelf and paying full price.

Finally, for Mother's Day my son and daughter-in-law gave me some family tree computer software. I'd been impressed with their set when I was in Florida in April, and I'm looking forward to having time to play with it myself.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Run Like A Girl

On May 4 I did the 5-mile trail run at Pocohantas State Park, which was part of the Run Like A Gril Series sponsored by Montrail. There were 300+ participants in this women-only event, ranging in age from 7 to 70. Point of reference -- I was faster than the 7-year-old, but not faster than the 70-year-old, who finished in about 45 minutes! The trail was generally a smooth track, but there were some fairly challenging hills -- most of which I walked up and tried not to slide down. Fellow TG TB, an accomplished trail runner, ran with me. She stayed on my case, ever urging me onward, and not listening when I said, "but I'm going as fast as I can!" TG TD also ran with us. We all used to run together twice a week after strength training at MMF, so it was good to have the group back together again. The entire event was great fun, and the swag was terrific -- nice tech shirt, socks, cap, and water bottle, plus some tasty chocolate-raspberry Luna bars. I definitely see more trail runs in my future.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Catching Up

What have I been doing since my last entry? I took my purebred Himalayan cat to a professional groomer – she looks much better, but she’s been living under my bed for two weeks now because whenever she ventures out, my two shorthair domestic cats hiss at her. She’s been groomed before, without any adjustment traumas, so I have no idea what happened this time. Perhaps I need a Cat Whisperer.

I went to Florida to visit my son and his wife, who were temporarily back in the US from his job overseas. We had a wonderful time – ate great seafood and mango key lime pie, went to an art show and the beach, and did a 5K race. The run was out and back over the causeway (I mistakenly called it a “bridge” and was corrected by a transplanted NOVA retiree). The temperature was warmer than I’m used to yet and I could have used another water stop at mile 2.75, so the last mile was slower than I’d hoped it would be. I finished in 39:01, which is not a PR for a 5K, but is the best I’ve done so far this year. The times for my age group ranged from 28:33 to 57:17, and I was 8 out of 24. There was fantastic fresh fruit at the end, along with sandwich fixings, granola bars, chips, and water. The best part, though, was running w/ my son.

I also tried out a wet suit in their pool. (I know that’s not recommended procedure, but I wasn’t in the water all that long). The pool temperature was 72, and even w/ the wet suit on, I felt chilly when I first got in. I had no problem swimming in it, but getting it on and off was a struggle. Any improvement in my swim time from wearing a wet suit will no doubt be cancelled by the increase in my T1 time unless I just do the whole tri in my wet suit!

Finally, I’ve been shopping for a digital camera. I’ve found several I like, but I’m having a hard time deciding which one to buy. The current frontrunners are two Canon models and a Panasonic. I’ve studied the specs, read all kinds of reviews, solicited other people’s advice/opinions, and made numerous trips to different stores to check them out, but nothing has said “buy me” yet. Of course, the point of having a new camera was that I wanted to add some pictures to this blog, but I wasn't able to figure out how to use some in this entry that my daughter-in-law sent me, so it may be a moot point!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

where's the motivation?

I seem to be lacking motivation for training this week. At first, I thought it was post-event let down from doing the sprint and 10K back-to-back, and I figured I was entitled to some recovery time. But it's been a week now, and I've not done much. Swim practice on Monday was devoted to flip turns, or in my case, trying to learn how to do them. Let's just say, I spent the entire hour in the remedial lane. Tuesday was strength training and indoor cycling, and I managed a short swim on Wednesday. I alternated 100 yard intervals with flip turn attempts, and a few times I felt like I almost did one. Thursday was more cycling. I skipped 30 minutes of strength training so I could shop for a digital camera. I'd considered swimming on Friday, but slept in instead. Today I volunteered for a duathlon. I'd planned to run afterwards at the same site, but it rained and I opted to come home for warm, dry clothes. Then my sister called me, the knob fell off my kitchen door, the litter box needed cleaning, I decided to go online for awhile -- it's not likely I'll get that run in today, as I feel my energy level sliding past zero. Maybe tomorrow ... ?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The 10K

I did the Monument Avenue 10K with my younger sister JJ and my daughter. Despite the on-off rain, we enjoyed the event. My time was 4 minutes slower than last year, but I still finished in the top 20% of my age group, so I'm trying not be too disappointed with the result. I was faster than I'd been in my solo practice runs, no doubt due to the "run faster, faster" exhortations with which my two companions propelled me across the finish line. My sister can walk faster than I can "run." At her own pace, she would have had a much better time, but she never let herself get too far ahead of me. My daughter left us at the halfway point, but waited at the 6-mile marker so we could all cross the finish line together. I'm hoping the photo will be spectacular.

One Done

On March 28 I did the Smithfield Sprint -- my first triathlon for 2008 and the first event in my quest for a Setup Events age group award. Nearly 500 competitors were registered, 3 in my age group. Since the swim was in a pool, and swimmers were spaced 15 seconds apart, it took nearly 3 hours to get everyone thru that phase. The elite athletes completed the whole tri before I even got in the pool! I entertained myself watching the other swimmers and spectators, at least to the extent I could see them. I'd had to leave my eyeglasses in the transition area so I'd have them for the bike, and transition closed at 9:45 a.m. I do have swim goggles with corrective lenses, which aren't my exact prescription but are close enough for distance viewing. Think generic reading glasses you can buy at the drug store. However, someone wearing goggles for several hours while staying outside the pool tends to attract some puzzled looks from other bystanders, so I only occasionally put them on while I waited.

Then it was my turn. The water was warm and the lanes were wide. The person behind me touched my feet several times, but she refused my offers to go ahead when we reached the ends of the lanes. And once as I approached the wall to turn, I saw another person swimming directly underneath me. He was soon gone, but at that instant, I felt like a fish in an aquarium. There was no ladder nearby at the end of the swim but I managed to heave myself out of the pool with some measure of grace and ehaded toward the transition area to get my bike.

I'm always slow in T1 because my goggles steam up and I can't see very well where I'm going. I don't want to fall down or run into anyone. I've tried leaving my glasses poolside, but ithere often is no good place to put them and it takes too long to find them. Plus they steam up, too. T1 took longer than usual because it was chilly and windy, and extra clothes were required. I'd seen one guy on his bike in just his swim trunks, but everyone else I saw was more warmly dressed.

The 10-miles bike course was fairly flat with only a few curves and small hills. Thanks to four months of indoor cycling and "power repeats" I managed to get up the hills without downshifting to "granny gear." The course didn't seem as intimidating as it had the night before when I'd driven it in my car, thinking "why is it I do this?" And if there had been less wind, the ride would have been quite pleasant. My time for the bike was 44:43, an average of 13-14 mph. I would have like to have been faster, but since this was my first ride sans trainer since last fall, and I dismounted without falling, I felt okay about it. I'm close to phobic about falling because I've taken some nasty spills.

The weather had improved somewhat by the time I got to the run segment at 1 p.m. My legs didn't feel like total bricks and I maintained my usual average pace of 13 minutes per mile for the 5K. I even did a negative split.

My total time was 1:42:48, which put me third in my age group. The first place finisher's time was 1:21:34, and second place was 1:39:48. I had faster bike and run times than no. 2, but she was faster in transition. We all got the same prizes, though -- a small thermos. It was a good way to start the season.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Changing the Team

A few weeks ago I registered one of my sisters and I as a relay team for the Hy-Vee Tri. My other sister has decided now she wants to participate, too, and she's offered to do the bike part. When I'd mentioned it to her before, she said she had to work (she's a nurse), but she's found someone to take her shift. She has ridden a bike 24 miles before, but she's a triathlon novice (for that matter, so's my other sister, but I think it's easier to be a "newbie" on the run). I'm concerned that she doesn't really understand what she's getting into. It's not like we're intending to win any prizes, but I don't want her to be overwhelmed by the event. And, anyway, assuming she can join us now, I have mixed feelings about changing the team. On one hand, to date, I've not ridden more than 18 miles at one time, but I'd figured I'd be ready for 24 by June. Also, having only the swim to concentrate on would not be a bad thing, because I'm still getting used to the Oly distance (.9 mile). I'd wanted to use this event as a precursor to doing a complete Oly by myself in September. Will doing only the swim be enough of a test? But, then, doing the tri with both my sisters would be special. We live in three different states and don't all get together but once, maybe twice, a year. Our recent gatherings have been shadowed by parental illness, so a sister reunion held just for fun would, indeed, be fun. "The B----y Girls" on a new adventure sounds promising. Here's to Beat-Bun-Uniq!


A woman I know recently set three records for her age group in a masters swim meet in the 100 free, 200 free, and 100 IM (butterfly, backstroke, breasttroke, , and freestyle). Her times for the 100 and 200 were 50+ seconds faster than the previous records, and there was no existing record for the IM because no one had done it before. This woman is 95 years old! She plans to keep on swimming as long as she's able and can drive herself to the pool. She also goes to work everyday at the family business. We used to swim at the same pool, but then she moved to a different part of town and a different pool. Year for year, she's a better swimmer than I am. What inspires me most about this woman, though, is her attitude. I am similarly inspired by another 92-year-old swimmer I know, who logs one-half mile per swim several times a week. And, of course, there's a fellow triathlete who started doing triathlons in her 60s and still competes at age 82.

I aspire to age as well as these women. But it's hard when I see little progress in my training. I feel stronger, but my times are abysmal. And it's depressing when my teammates are lamenting they only managed to run a 9-minute mile, when I'd be happy to do one in 12. Last year I could occasionally manage an 11- minute mile, but these days, it would be a miracle to go that "fast." But I'm keeping at it. Maybe someday I'll set my own record and inspire someone else along the way.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Something to "tri" for

Our team psychologist recently talked about the importance of setting goals. The essence of his theory is that having too many complex, specific goals creates stress, and fighting stress wastes energy, so a person should set one main goal, with some subparts, that is doable. I see the merit in this principle, even if I do tend sometimes to get bogged down in details. My ex-husband called this tendency "making everything too complicated," but he was a procrastinator par excellence, so .... Anyway, my goal for this season is to earn an age-group award given by Setup Events. To do this, I have to compete in (read, enter and finish) four triathlons in their state series. I've signed up for the first one on 3/29. I anticipate doing one in July and one in September, so that leaves a choice between events in June and October as the fourth one. Either one of those (or both) would likely require a wet suit, which I don't have. I could rent one, or buy one. This is where over-thinking comes in, as I mull the merits of having my own suit v. the expense of buying or renting. Then I have to consider how, even if , my pear dumpling body will fit into one, and if I could get out of it in T1. It might be easier to get Setup to change the rules so that only three events would qualify. From one simple goal to many tangents -- it really is all in the details.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

That certain language

A blogger I know often uses the "f-word" in her blog. I can't say I'm offended -- I hear that word frequently from other people. But I rue the growing, everyday usage of profanity as one more strike against the few remaining bastions of decency in our lives. According to my high school English teacher, Rhett Butler's famous line at the end of the movie version of Gone With The Wind ("Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.") was the first time such a word was spoken in a movie. It was 1939, and viewers were shocked. If the movie were remade today, Scarlett would likely reply, "Go f--- yourself!" and few people would even notice. Certainly, strong language is sometimes appropriate, but overuse diminishes its potency. I'm not advocating a return to the days when such language was not used in polite company, but I do think a little less vulgarity would improve us all.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Team Uni2Beat

I've officially registered for the HyVee Triathlon on June 22 in Des Moines. Since this will be my first Olympic distance tri, I'm going to do it as a relay w/ my sister JJ -- I'll do the swim and bike and she'll do the run. I'm hoping we'll finish within 4-5 hours (estimating 1 hour for the lake swim, 2 hours for the bike, and 1 and 1/2 hours for the run). Faster times would be better, of course, but I'm trying to be realistic. We'll find out in 112 days.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I've often said, given the demands of my job, I only have time for one "extra-curricular activity." That used to be my children, until they grew up and moved out. I was a volunteer at Maymont for nearly ten years, but I gave that up when I started doing triathlons. However, I've always had a yen for writing, and occasionally I've taken an adult education class. Last summer I went to great weekend seminar at the University of Iowa, and I'd love to go back again this year. But, it's the same time as the Hy-Vee triathlon, which I also really want to do. So, again, I must choose. I'm leaning toward the triathlon -- I figure (and I hope I'm right) my body will give out before my mind does, so I can still write when triathlons are only a memory.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If I Didn't Train

My house would be spotless,
My laundry neated folded.
My taxes would be filed,
The cat properly groomed.
But my bones would be frail,
My muscles puny.
I'd be a different person.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Long Time No Entry

It's been over two weeks since I posted an entry here. I think of things I might say while I'm swimming laps, running miles, or cycling indoors for hours, but then the rest of my life intrudes, and ... no time for blogging. And, I suppose, if truth be told, I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this blog thing -- I've kept various journals/diaries for years, but those entries were never met for public eyes. So who am I writing for/to now? And how much of my maybe-anonymous-self am I willing to share?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I'd like to do an Olympic distance triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 22. This is not as far-fetched as it may seem, as I usually go to Iowa in June to visit family. I wasn't sure, though, how best to get my bike there. My daughter has been my traveling companion in the past, but she surprised me by getting married in December, so ... she won't be making this trip w/ me. I also wasn't sure I'd be ready for that distance by then b/c I've only done sprints. Then one of my sisters agreed to drive to Iowa w/ me and to do the run part. But when I checked my work schedule, I discovered a conflict -- not insurmountable, but a difficult choice. A few years ago I would have put work first, but now I'm thinking I may not have this same opportunity again and it wouldn't be so bad to re-arrange things at work.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Runnin' with Garmin

My son and his wife gave me a Garmin Forerunner 305 for Christmas. I ran with it for the first time today -- 4 miles. It didn't make me any faster, but it was fun to monitor my pace -- I had moments of real speed (for me, anyway), and I concentrated on trying to remember how that felt so, hopefully, I can incorporate that movement into my total runs. Now, I just have to figure out how to use all the Garmin features. There are so many unexpected levels to my triathlon training.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Word Power

The coach of my training group has suggested that we each pick a word as a sort of mantra for the year. Several of the chosen words are "moment," "push," "balance," "endure," and "believe." I considered "prance" to remind me to lift my feet like a prancing pony instead of striking my heels on the ground and also that triathlons are, afterall, supposed to be fun. Then "accept" came to mind, as in accept where I am in my life, but there wasn't much motivation in that word. Next possible choice was "strive," but it, too, didn't seem quite right, so I've settled on "stride." "Stride" can signify working toward my goals, and it rhymes with "glide" and "pride," also words that will encourage me. And it's kind of a play on words because it contains the letters "tri." Another reason is that it makes a strong chant, "S-T-R-I-D-E, stride, glide," or "S-T-R-I-D-E, stride, pride," to replace the "1-2-3-4" that currently runs through my head as I run. Hey, someone I know runs to "Here comes Peter Cottontail," and she's a gazelle.

Bike Evolution

The bike I used for my first two triathlons was the bike my daughter had in middle school -- 3-speed, coaster brakes. Then I graduated to a hybrid with more gears, hand brakes, and toe clips. It also was heavy as sin, and I soon upgraded to a road bike that weighed much less. My bike times were faster, but I still wasn't getting the results I'd hoped for. In early 2007, I bought a Specialized Dolce Elite because it was a women's specific model and was on sale. I added aerobars and clipless pedals and felt like a pro at indoor cycling. Then I took it on the road. I never mastered unclipping without falling, and finally just decided to ride with only my right foot clipped in, but by November I was feeling more comfortable overall with the bike and was seeing some slight improvement in my times. In anticipation of the 2008 season, I had a bike fit with a physical therapist, who suggested a shorter stem and different handlebars to alleviate cramping/numbness in my hands. So, I've made those changes, and again, I'm a whiz indoors on a trainer. The real test will come in March, however, when I do my first sprint. As someone once told me, a bike goes only as fast as the person riding it can pedal.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Age doesn't matter?

In triathlon years, I am now 62. Like thoroughbred race horses, who, regardless of when they were foaled in 2007, turn one year old on Jan. 1, 2008, triathletes must register in whatever age group corresponds with their age on Dec. 31. So, even though my birthday's not until August, I'm already a year older than I was a week ago.

I sometimes find it hard to believe I'm as old as I am -- then I catch a glimpse in a mirror of the gray-haired lady who lives in my house, or I observe that the other runners in my training group can do at least 3, maybe 4, miles in the same time I do 2. I shouldn't have been surprised when I passed a group of young male spectators at a recent 8K and they called out "Go, granny. Look at granny run." But, I was. It wasn't until I told the story later to friends that I could even think it was a humorous antecdote.

So, as another season begins, I ask myself, am I too old to compete? Of course, "compete" might be too strong a word. I usually finish pretty close to last, but I do finish. And since there usually aren't too many other entrants in my age group, I've collected some nice prizes -- a coffee mug, a sports bag, an insulted water bottle. I like doing triathlons because I was never athletic when I was younger and the training keeps me motivated to excerise. I'd like to do an Olympic distance this year -- something that a few years ago seemed an impossible feat. I'm not quite ready for the "booty farm" (my son told me years ago that when I got really old I could sit in a rocker and knit booties to support myself), so I'll keep "tri-ing" instead.