Monday, September 5, 2011

Waiting for ???

After months of training, I’m starting to see some improvement in my swimming and running as I’ve gotten faster at shorter distances. While that’s a good thing, I’m leery of thinking it will continue, as I’ve been in this same place before – and optimism about my level of performance succumbed to injury. None of the injuries were related directly to training, however. Two years ago, I stepped off the edge of a sidewalk and broke a bone in my left foot. Last year I turned to pick up a suitcase and twisted my back. It seems as though whenever I think I’m getting “up to speed,” something happens, so I’m wondering – what will it be this year?

In The Pink

Two weeks ago (blame delay in posting on Irene!) a friend and I did the Pink Power Triathlon as a relay. She did the bike leg and I did the swim and the run. This was my only actual tri for the year – I enjoy the training, but dislike paying the ever-increasing entry fees for the events. However, the PP has good camaraderie and cute swag – this year’s socks were a special bonus, so I signed up. Overall, I was pleased with our performance. My swim was a few seconds slower than last year, but my run was a few minutes faster. My friend did well on the bike course, although a glitch in the timing added the transition times to the bike segment and skewed her ride time to seem longer than it was because speedy transitions are not our forte. The absolute best part, though, was seeing my daughter at the finish line. She lives in Maryland, and I hadn’t known she was coming. She’d been lurking in the area all morning, waiting to surprise me. As they say, our smiles were priceless.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adiós, Coach D.

The coach of the UR Masters Swim program has taken another job at a college in Texas. D. had been our coach for the past two years. Our group included excellent, competitive swimmers and other people, like me, who mostly swim for fun and fitness. D. offered us all motivation and encouragement. Under her tutelage, I improved my freestyle stroke enough to take minutes off my tri pool swim times. I also learned to do butterfly and flip turns. Of course, I wish D. well in her new position, but she’ll be missed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hill Thrill

On Sunday morning I rode my bike near Osborne Landing. A friend and I discovered this ride two years ago, as part of it is the same as the Rockett’s Landing triathlon course. We like the route because it has less traffic than West Creek and more variety. Sunday’s ride was the first for this year, and my goal was to do better than last year at keeping up with my friend, who is a good rider, even when she doesn’t train much.

So, as we started, I was pleased that I could almost match her pace. Last year she waited patiently at intersections for me to catch up. This year, I was close enough she didn’t have to wait as long. But after a few miles, suddenly, she was a red dot in the distance – just like last year. I pedaled hard to catch up. When I found her again, and commented on her burst of speed, she said she’d had some trouble at the beginning of the ride getting into her big chain ring. For the next several miles, we stayed within shouting distance, as long as I went nearly as fast as I could and she did not.

Then we came to a hill – not a particularly big hill, but one that was difficult for me last year. And an amazing thing happened – I passed my friend on the way to the top. Of course, she soon flew by me again, but I’d had my tiny moment of glory. Hurray for that hill!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma’m

These days my mailbox is filled with information about applying for Medicare – a not so cheerful reminder that in a mere few months I’ll be eligible. I had thought I’d mark that “milestone” by doing an Olympic distance triathlon, but as the tri season has begun and I’ve not registered for any event, it seems less likely I’ll do that race. The fact is that even though my swimming and biking have improved, and my running is starting to get better, I’m just not fast enough to finish an Olympic race in the time the organizers have allotted. If I did each segment in my best possible time, I might finish within seconds of the 4-hour limit, but a perfect race is not likely to happen. And I don’t want to pay for the disappointment of a DNF, which would only remind me how old I am. I plan to keep training, though, and maybe I’ll still go for it. But the fact is, I may stay a “sprinter,” and I can mark moving into my new age group by a PR for that distance.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An Encouraging Ride

Yesterday I rode my bike outside for the first time since last September. Given my propensity for falling on the road, I approached this ride with trepidation, as I much prefer riding indoors safely ensconced on a stationary trainer. Triathlons, however, are held outside, so I pumped up my tires and bravely pushed off down my street.

My usual neighborhood ride is 10-12 miles. Anything longer requires too many loops over the same territory (and too many barking dogs as I pass by) or venturing onto busier streets. There are a few small inclines, but mostly the route is flat. A disadvantage, however, is having to pause at intersections to check for traffic. Usually there isn’t any, but I slow down just in case.

Other than an unexpected gust of wind that I thought might topple me, the ride went well. I focused on proper pedal strokes, judicious gear shifting, and cadence. To my surprise, the ride felt almost easy, even fun. And, when I finished, I was pleased to note my ride time was seven minutes faster than last year on the same route.

I attribute this improvement to the past four months of intense indoor cycling under the tutelage of Coach E. I’m determined this year to maintain my bike fitness by riding regularly – inside or outside – after indoor cycling ends next week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joyful Numbers

Last Saturday was body composition day at MMF. Based on individual weight and measurements taken with a special kind of pinchers, a computer program generates a fat/muscle ratio. I had this same assessment done six months ago, and I wasn’t pleased with the results. Compared to an assessment done several years ago, not only did I weigh more than I wanted to, I’d gained 1.5 pounds of fat for every 1 pound of muscle. Since last August, I’ve tried to focus on better nutrition, curb my fondness for ice cream, and maintain a constant level of fitness activities. My scale told me I was losing some weight, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect from Saturday’s test. The results, however, were good. Three pounds of fat was gone.

Then on Monday at Masters Swim, we had to swim 25 yards freestyle without taking a breath, or at least taking as few breaths as possible. I figured, based on past experience with the same drill, and the fact that I usually breathe every other stroke, I would have to breathe 4 or 5 times. I was elated then to take only one breath, probably at the 12-15 yard mark.

Remembering an old General Electric slogan – “Progress Is Our Most important Product” – I give a shout-out to Coaches E. and D. – Thanks for all those intense cycling and swimming work-outs. The results are in the numbers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You Know You're Old When ...

*You hear news stories commemorating events that happened 50 years ago and recall those events "like they were yesterday."
*You celebrate "wogging" a mile in 13:54.
*You buy dress pants with elastic waistbands because they fit your shape better than the dropped-waist kind, foregoing a promise once made to not wear "old lady pants" in public.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Ready

A new year, a new race season. I like to start each year filled with optimism about improving my performance and setting PRs, but this year, my expectations are lower. Plagued most of last fall by defective body parts subject to chronic minor injuries, I just want to be able to cross the finish line without really hurting myself.

My daughter and I have registered for the Monument Avenue 10K – she’s aiming for 10-minute miles; I’ll settle for 14. I’ve become a “wogger.” (I saw the term in a running magazine.) Whether it’s defined as “a walker who occasionally jogs,” or “a jogger who mostly walks,” it fits my current “running” style. Not counting the miles I logged around shopping malls and parking lots while acquiring items for the families my office sponsored, gifts for my own family and friends, and finally, after-Christmas sale bargains, it’s been several months since I did any serious running. So, I’m starting slowly, one or two miles a week, and working on maintaining a respectable pace for short segments.

Swimming is my sport of choice this year because it’s the one sport in which my skill level has not declined as much with age. In fact, I’m a better swimmer now than I was several years ago. I’ve enrolled in an adult swim clinic at UR, in addition to the Master’s swim class, which means I’m in the pool at least three times a week. I might even enter a swim meet – something I’ve never done.

I’m not sure what triathlons I’ll do this year. The Hy-Vee Olympic in Des Moines, Iowa on September 4 is tempting, especially if my daughter decides to do it, too. As preparation, I’m thinking about a triathlon in June in either Tidewater or Maryland. Both offer distances that are longer than a sprint and shorter than an olympic, plus an open water swim. I’m beginning to think I’m a triathlon short-timer, so if I don’t do an Olympic distance this year, I may never accomplish it. Many of the races have time limitations now, and because I’m not speedy, I’m not sure I can finish in the allotted time. But for now, I’m keeping an Olympic on my schedule.