Monthly Archives: May 2010

5/25/10 Prepping for Camp

Tuesday.  Didn’t run today, was too sore so I just rode my bike 20 miles easy in the park.  I feel much better now so I’ll be able to run tomorrow.    Always surprised that easy spinning really does help your legs recover.

Sunday I had to do a 3 hour run.  It went something like this:

First 1:20 — “OMG, I’m a rock star, I can’t believe how effortless this seems.  I’m amazing!!  I better hold back and really pace myself.”  I had to FORCE myself to do a 9 minute run with 1 minute walk break.  Stopped at Dunkin Donuts to use bathroom, fill up on water and bought an orange juice. 

Next 1:00 — “Wow, this is not as easy as it was the first 1:20.”  I started to feel a little attitude in my quads.  Saturday’s hills on Rev 3 were starting to echo in my legs.  I dropped to an 8/2.  I discovered my watch has an amazing feature that I can set it to beep at me when 8 minutes are up and then when 2 minutes are up and it will keep doing that.  (I’ve been using this same Timex Ironman watch for seven years now and just NOW I’ve discovered the interval feature….)

Next 20 minutes — “Uhm, this is starting to hurt… like a lot.”  I changed my watch to beep every 5 minutes then 1 minute.  I was getting loopy otherwise I would have realized I meant to do 4/1.  I like the little beep — I quickly become conditioned to move as soon as I heard it.

Last 20 minutes — “Wholey Chapstick this is killing me!! Just make it to the bridge, just make it to the bridge.  Go, go, go. Don’t even think about stopping.”  At the bridge would be “town” aka LaSalle’s market where I could get some refreshments.  At exactly 3 hours I made it to Lasalle’s market.  Just shy of 13 mile – 12.57 or something like that.   Done running.  Stretch, decaf coffee, a little shaky and in a panic I grab a bag of peanut M&M’s and feel guilty about it for days.  (It was a bad choice on sooo many levels.  Not vegan, not nutrient rich, just not healthy.)

One problem.  I had 3 more miles to go to get home.  What to do?  Call my Mother and ask her to pick me up?   Nooo, you can’t do that.  Groannnn.  Pick up your butt, dust yourself off and get to walking.  I just walked the 3 miles home and it took almost another hour.  My legs were T.I.R.E.D. tired.  What made me think I was going to be able to do 15 miles in 3 hours in the first place?  Big ego that’s what.  Oh yeah, I’ll do a nice 12 minute mile for 3 hours.  12 minute mile is my race pace….  I had deliberately mapped out a circle loop instead of an out and back so I wouldn’t cheat myself out of the Opportunity of a long run.  Psychologically it made me run harder because I knew I had to get there.

I must remember to bring my Mr. Max massager to camp.  Spent hours massaging out my legs on Monday.  Really helped.

I’m putting together my packing lists for camp.  I’m getting emails from an interesting cross-section of  people on the team asking for tips and hints on how to get through the weekend.  Everyone is so nervous.  Even really great athletes are asking me for advice.  I’m laughing thinking I couldn’t keep up with you in my wildest dreams and you are asking me if I have any tips?  I remember that nervous feeling so well.  I remember I used to get so nervous before any camps I couldn’t sleep.   Now I have the opposite problem.  I’m not nervous at all which is kind of disappointing and not smart because you make more errors when you are not a little nervous.  I don’t know if I can make it through the weekend but I’m just not nervous about it.  It will be what it will be.

This morning as I was riding in Central Park I had a moment to myself where I just realized that the fact that I am out here doing what I am doing is nothing short of miraculous.  I tried to remember back to 8 months ago when I could barely make it over the GWB.  I remember driving to NJ because I was pretty sure I couldn’t make it that far.  I remember going out with the cycling team and getting dropped on the hill five feet from the start.  This is just amazing that I can ride 20 miles effortlessly.  EFFORTLESSLY.  So it’s really hard for me to conjure any emotions other than amazement and gratitude.  Truly, whatever I can do and get through is all bonus. 

When I look back at my journey over the last seven years I think it is amazing.  I went from not being able to run a mile, to running a 10k to a half marathon to 20 half marathons to 2 marathons to the Ironman, to not being able to run a mile,  to another Ironman, to Marathon des Sables and back to not being able to run a mile again.   And now I can run 13 miles and walk 3 more.  I think I finally get it.  It will go around and around again and again.  Just every time you go around you get a slightly different view.  If we can master being the observer and not get swallowed up in expectations and projections — life is a lot easier.

So this time I go to camp not worried if I can’t keep up.  I know every shortcut and how to turn around when it’s time.  I might not be able to keep up, then again I might be a rock star.  Let’s just see how it plays out.  I get to go and be out in the fresh air and just see what I can do.  I don’t have of the pressure of “oh my God, I don’t know if I can do an Ironman.”   I can do an Ironman.  I can even do one in August, nature and God willing.  I feel better and better every single day and I don’t really see any limits on what I can do.  Yeah maybe it won’t be this exact weekend but it will be one of these weekends.  Yes I will huff and puff and yes I will suffer but in a good way.  In a I’m-glad-to-be-alive way.

One line that comes back to me from Weight Watchers (and my WW story will come tomorrow after my seminar tonight).   There was a gal in our meeting who I just loved because of her wisdom.  Actually two gals.  Both of them lost well over 100 pounds each and were at goal weight and loving life.  Some new member asked the question that all new members ask “how long did it take you?” Because that’s what we all do, we sit and calculate if I lose a pound a week I’ll be at such and such a weight by blah….  (If I swim 1 mile in 30 minutes and bike in blah, and run in whatever…..) The life-time member looked at the new member and said “It took just the right amount of time.”  I just loved that line.  It’s so true with all of this.  Ironman will come in just the right amount of time.  I didn’t finish Ironman the first year and I struggled the second year.  I don’t really know what will happen this year but I’m not worried about it.   How long will it take me to finish?  Just the right amount of time.

Now I have to get packing — the fourth discipline of triathlon.


My friend Claire sent me this article from runners world about gratitude,7120,s6-243-297–13480-0,00.html  I think it hits home for me.

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5/22/10 Houston We May Have a Problem

Saturday.  Back from a heart-y workout on the Rev 3 Olympic bike course in Middlebury.  I think I can sum it up in one word.  Oooph.

So here is my dilemma.  It took me 2 hours to do the 26 mile loop the first time. It’s just one hill after another.  I figured okay, you’ve been checking the directions, looking for landmarks.  13 mph is sad but it’s understandable.  Now you’ll do the loop again.  You’ll do better.  Unfortunately the exact same number of hills and this time I did it in….  wait for it…. 13 mph.  Yes, 2 hours to do the same 26 miles a second time and I was trying.  I have to do this exact course in 2 weeks for the Rev 3 Olympic race.  This might be a problem.

Now here is the weird part.  I felt great.  I still feel good.  I was really proud of how hard I was working and climbing.  I was standing a lot to get up over the crests and pick up some speed on the lower hills (something I couldn’t do a month ago.)  I was really able to smooth out my pedal stroke — I wasn’t mashing.  One little spike in particular that I had done with my friend Ro a month ago I had to walk up that day.  Today, no walking.  Not even considering it.  And I did it twice.

That little spike of a hill was a real bookmark for me.  A month ago I just couldn’t summon up enough energy to suck in my stomach to climb the hill.  Muscularly I was sure I could do it.  Systemically I had nothing.  I knew if I had tried to do it that day it might have put me under.   Today?  It was still hard but there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to do it.  I could call in all the muscles and do it.  I was sucking wind afterwards but I did it. I wish I could explain the magnitude of the difference in how I feel.  I thought I had been feeling okay then, now I know what I didn’t know.  I hate to put a jinx on it, but something is working.  Vitamins?  Medicines?  I’ll just keep going, because I’m feeling really good.

My energy was great.  My muscles felt good.  I was breathing deeply.  The breathing is something new for me too.  In just last two weeks I’ve been aware of this next level of feeling good in my breathing and the air going all the way down into my lungs.  It’s an amazing feeling.  I’m not half-breathing anymore.  My lungs feel stronger.  Isn’t that weird?  I’m still sucking wind but on a much deeper level.

I went to my acupuncturist this week for my biweekly checkup and he said he noticed a big difference in the strength of my pulse.  Normally it is very faint and weak and hard to find.  This week he said it felt nice and normal for the first time.  I told him I’ve been feeling really good.  He’s never said I had a good pulse before.

I really felt the difference when I was out there riding today.  Nothing was fazing me.  My top speed going down a hill was 41 mph.  I hit 31mph several times on some downhills.  So how the heck did I come out to 13 mph?  The uphills…  I guess there were more than I really thought. And I’m still lugging extra baggage.  But 13 mph?  Really?  Really?

I can’t feel bad about this result because I felt great.  I will say I blew it a couple of times on some of the hills.  I underestimated when I needed to shift and lost some momentum.  But the second time through I did them much better and it meant nothing in my overall time. After that I just did a very easy spin around the neighborhood trying desperately to avoid hills (pretty much impossible.)

I do know that on race day I will be motivated by other people out there.  I was alone the entire time.  I started early at 7 a.m. and met 3 guys from my team (the 3 of the fastest guys…)  I got a big head start and they blew by me on mile 8 on a big uphill.  I saw them again on the second loop but they were just a flash of red flying by.  They did not seem to be having any problems with the hills.

So let’s see. Prediction for the Rev 3 race in 2 weeks.   My 1 mile swim should take me 35 minutes.  My bike is going to take 2 hours.  My run will take about 1:30 (figuring I’ll be walking a lot after that bike) and my transitions 6-8 minutes.  So we are talking a 4:15 minute Olympic distance if I am lucky.

But how can I complain or worry about how long it takes if I feel really good while I’m doing it?    I got home and thought for sure I would be wiped out and I’m not.  I feel pretty good.  I feel happy that I am able to be out there doing all of this.

Before I can worry about Rev 3 I have a little 3 hour run to do tomorrow and then a little thing called Memorial Day training camp next weekend.  For some reason I’m having difficulty summoning my worry muscles.  It’s all good.  Whatever I can do is more than I thought I would be able to do.  I was standing climbing and sucking in my stomach.  So I was slow, Beware the Turtle…. she has one leg out of the shell.


Quote from a card at St. Anthony’s that I really liked.

“When the dust settles and the race is won. When the crows disperse and the day is done. Please make sure I’m not still out there before you leave!”

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5/15/10 Beware the Turtle

Saturday.  Not sure I could be much more satisfied than I am right now.  Just finished the 10k in the park and I met all my goals.  I’m really pleased.  I ended up doing a 12:45 which is exactly 1 minute per mile slower than when I did this race in 2008 but I am okay with that.  My big goal for today was to run the 10k without stopping to walk at all.  Just dial into a steady pace and uphill, downhill, flat just do it.  And, I did it.  I did it, I did it, I did it.  I’m really so pleased that I think I have to stop and do the snoopy dance for a minute.

Other things.  No knee pain — none.  I was a little worried about this because on Tuesday my knee was giving me some problems so I stopped and walked it out.  I gave myself that out this morning.  No walking UNLESS pain somewhere and unless my heart rate was freaking out.   No knee pain.  Heart rate high but appropriate.  I felt normal, normal, normal.  Air was going into my lungs.  I did not feel dizzy, shaky, nauseous, tired, drained or anything else.  All I felt was focussed and working hard.  I’m sure I could have broken out and tried to run faster and hit the wall but I really wanted no excuses.  I didn’t want to not make it up a hill because I ran too hard getting to it.  I worked hard but monitored my heart rate and backed off when I thought it was getting to high.  I let my heart rate float up into the high 140’s and into the 150’s.  When I saw it over 150 (like 153 or so) I backed off a smidge but only a smidge until it was somewhere in the high 140’s.  At the half marathon I was trying to keep it to 145.  For today I just wanted to see what would happen if I let it hover a little higher.  I don’t think I could or should maintain that for a half marathon but for a 10k I was willing to let it go there.

I’m additionally pleased because I really let myself take advantage of other runners out there.  I never do that.  The first mile I was aware of a gal hovering right behind my left shoulder.  At first it was annoying me.  I don’t like people running right next to me.  (When I finally met Mark Allen the one thing I wanted to ask him is how he could run shoulder to shoulder with Dave Scott and not crack?)  I don’t run with people very often and usually I feel too much pressure to keep up with them or they are doing something annoying and distracting so I just want them away from me.   I thought this gal was going to annoy me.  Then she was running right next to me.  I noticed her cadence was really good.  I snuck a look at her to see if it was someone I knew.  Nope.  Just a ponytail flopping the wind.  She was going my pace but she had a fast little foot fall.  I decided to let her help me.  I would keep cadence with her and before I knew it we were up the first long hill on the westside and down into and back up the bowl by the reservoir.  2 hills down.  I already wanted to pump my fists.  This was huge.  HUGE.  I haven’t been able to run this much uphill without stopping to walk.  Already the day was a success.  This was very hard for me to do — not the hills — accepting help from someone else.  I thought she was sent by my running angel or something to pace me through the race.  I started to pick it up a bit going down the other side of the bowl and noticed she was no longer with me.   I was  little sad.

On the way up Harlem Hill she blew past me.  Stay on her, stay on her I told myself.  I looked at my heart rate.  157.  Too high.  Don’t let her make you run out of your zone.  If she can run this fast then she was just holding back before.  Let her go, let her go.  Run your own race.  That was my second lesson.  First was to accept help.  Second was to learn to say goodbye.

As I was approaching Lasker Hill I started to pass a lot of people who had stopped to walk.  I put my blinders on.  Don’t let them influence you.  You don’t need to walk.  You are doing great.   I just had to get up Lasker Hill and that would be the last big hill.  Not the last hill but the last big one.  I did it.  My friend Cat was at the top and I signalled three fingers up to let her know I was okay (that’s a short hand for saying “i feel above average”).  I had no spare breath to make a comment.  Then coach Dennis popped out of nowhere and was running next to me.  I just gave him the same three fingers.  He ran with me for about 1 minute and told me to keep it up.  I just had to get up that annoying little uphill rise before the reservoir.  I hate that false hill.  It’s annoying.  I was aware of a women wearing black shirt and black tights and I was following her up the rise.  Man she has good cadence too.  Look how fast and easily she is going up this hill.  Stay with her.  Follow her feet.  Pop, pop, pop.  Just stay with her.  Got up that little hill and I put out my hand to slap her five.  I thanked her for getting me up the hill.  We stayed together step for step.  We passed the 4 mile marker.    She gave me the thumbs up.   And then we passed pony tail gal who was now walking.  I guess she couldn’t maintain that pace afterall.

At Engineers Gate I was aware that I couldn’t keep this pace much longer and I had to let black pants gal go.  Learn to let go.  I had to get my heart rate down so I backed off a smidge.  Not walking, never walked, not even a second.  Just kind of caught my breath and then picked it up again.  The fact that I can do this makes me so happy I can’t tell you.  I now have two gears above walking.  This is huge.  I have walk, slow and kinda slow.  Six months ago I had walk holding onto something and walk briskly without holding onto someothing.  Lo and behold, there was black pants gal again but now she was walking.  I guess that pace had been too much for her.  I ran up next to her and told her to come on, keep going.  She started to run with me.  This time I got her up the annoying little bump by Cleopatra’s needle.  I felt strong being able to help her.  It stopped me from thinking about quitting.

Going down Cat Hill I seemed to lose her.  Lesson number 3.  Don’t hold back just to be nice.  You caught up to her.  You encouraged her to stick with you now don’t force her to come along.  Let her run her own race.  It’s all downhill from here.  Oh wait, no you have that stupid bump by 72nd street — that’s always a show stopper.  I hate that section.  Power to the legs, power to the legs.  I think of coach Scott 2007 riding by me saying “think light, fast legs.”  You will not stop.  Then I realized that I shouldn’t be saying the word “stop.”  (The mind doesn’t process negatives and just hears the word stop.)   So instead of saying don’t quit I changed the voice to say “go, go, go.”   Made it up that annoying hill.  Now I’m at the bottom of park, in the last mile and I just want to stop.  My legs are tired, I’m tired of working so hard.  Almost there, don’t stop now.  You made it up all those hills and there is no way you will stop now.  You are this close to reaching a goal.

Trudge, trudge, trudge to the finish line.  I didn’t have anything extra to give it a big push like the other people who were turning it on for the last 50 yards.  Next thing I know I’m crossing the finish line.  I did it.  I did the entire thing without stopping to walk.  Not even for one second.  I was soooo happy.  I turned around to see if black pants gal was coming.  She was only about 10 seconds behind me.  She crossed the finish line.  We high fived each other — sisters of the back of the pack  helping one another to get to the end.  Pony tail gal nowhere to be seen — that made me a little sad but she wasn’t as nice as black pants gal.

It’s all I wanted from the day.  Just a chance to see where I am.  No exhaustion from previous workouts.  No feeling faint or fatigued from lack of  vitamins or medication.  Just a hard day’s work.  12:45.  I can work from there.

Thursday I did a 18 mile time trial on my bike and that took me 1:01.

Friday I did a 2 mile swim time trial and that took me 1:20 (1:22 for 2+ miles)

Today I did a 6.2 mile run and that took me 1:19.

None of these times are fast or close to my best.  But they are where I am today and honestly I wouldn’t swap them for anything because they are hard earned and they are mine.  100% mine.  Did anyone else hear that rumble?  I think a storm is brewing!


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5/13/10 Goldilocks

I got this quote from Ralph Marston who puts out the daily motivator.  
If you’re able to worry, you’re also able to be confident. Because from a functional standpoint, worry and confidence are pretty much the same thing.Worry is the expectation that something negative will happen. Confidence is the expectation that something positive will happen.

Thursday.  Recovery week.  Chance to let our muscles recovery a little and gear up for the challenging workouts ahead.  Also a chance for us to take inventory on how we are doing — test our speed in swimming, biking and running.  For me I have additional marker data — how am I sleeping, eating and feeling overall?  I have to say my results are kind of surprising.

Yesterday was my 4th week of taking weekly mega doses of my vitamin D and daily mega doses of Iron.  And week two of new dosage of Synthroid. As I was about to take my vitamin D mega dose and mark it down I noticed that yes, in fact, I feel different.  For about the ten days or so there has been something different going on inside of me. I can’t put my exact finger on it.  I don’t feel extra sparkly, I’m not bouncing off the walls, but there is something different.  Deep down inside — where I used to feel this empty pit of fatigue and something sucking at my strength at the cellular level, it feels different.  I can’t think of the word to describe it other than unfazed.  My cells are not crying out “stop you are murdering us!”, they are kind of just sitting there saying “oh it’s Thursday?  what do you want in your coffee?”  It’s not so much calmness (although it is calm) it is more like undisturbed.  I can’t think of any other way to explain it.  I’m not up, I’m not down, I’m just hanging.  Dare I use the word, “normal?”

Over the weekend in CT, I got 8-9 hours of sleep every night.  I notice that I sleep better in CT.  I cannot stress how much sleeping full nights has been helping me.  Last night in NYC, I kept waking up every hour.  I think I’m going to try the ear plugs and eye shades tonight to see if that makes a difference.  In CT it is pitch black and the only sounds are those stupid birds chirping so happily outside my window in the morning.  NYC has an underlying roar that I think disrupts sleep patterns.

Tuesday I had a nice easy run in CT before heading back to NYC.  I was very pleased with how long I could go before I needed a break.  I’m starting to be able to just slow down a little and not actually have to stop.  The fact that I have more than one speed is pretty amazing.  I made up a hill that I haven’t ever ran up.  I was pooped at the top but I made it.

Yesterday I got back in the pool to swim for the first time since St. Anthony’s.  We had a nice easy 1 mile workout.  Just what I needed.  Something to reaquaint me to the water before I do my 2 mile time trial on Friday.  I wasn’t stressing about my splits (though I took them and they were on the slower side like 1:08’s — I’ve done worse and I’ve done better).  I had no judgment about it — just do what they say to do and see how it comes out.   1:08?  That’s interesting.  End of worrying about it.

This morning we had our bike time trial.  I was 1 minute slower overall but I’m okay with it.   1 minute over an hour.  I’ll live.  30 seconds here or there, is this really what I’m worried about?  No.  I worked hard this morning though I was aware that my quads and hamstrings are no longer burning.  I’m wondering if I need to up it a little more.  I’m breathing hard so cardio-wise I’m working, but shouldn’t my muscles hurt more?  I don’t know, just an observation.  If I push harder my breathing will be too hard so I’m kind of stuck in the middle.  But the weird thing is I have no judgment about my performance.  That’s what it was today.  The park was a little more crowded.  I got caught several times by large groups (why do they have to ride with 20 people in a pack? Can’t they break up into smaller groups?)  My time for 3 loops was 1:01 which comes out to 17.6.   That might have freaked me out before that I’m a good minute+ per mile slower than I used to be but now I’m not fazed.  It is what it is, just keep working at it.  I’m truly grateful that I can be out there and riding and getting stronger.

After Friday’s swim time trial I have a 10k race in Central Park on Saturday.  I’m pretty excited about it because it’s a 10k.   It’s not a half marathon.  I haven’t done a 10k race in a long time.  I think I can run the whole thing (maybe I’ll have to walk a smidge but not too much).    I’m going to try my best to just run the hills and recover down.  But we’ll wait and let it reveal itself to me.   Not good, not bad, just is.

So I’m okay.  Not feeling powerful and strong but I’m not feeling weak either.  My mood seems even.  Systemically I think this is a very good place to be.  Nothing in me is overly anything.  I’m not overly tired, overly rested, overly stressed, overly excited.  I’m not nervous about Ironman, I’m not nervous about Tupper lake and I’m not nervous about Memorial Day camp.  I’m ready to hunker down and work hard and just see where it all takes me.  Look up when I’m done and see where I am.  Right now I’m just somewhere right in the middle… like Goldilocks.



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5/10/10 My Home Town

Monday.  Eek, getting behind on documenting but I’ve been really busy with, gasp, work and anyone who knows me knows that having a lot of work to do makes me cranky.  But we all do what we have to do.

Along with work I’ve been back up in CT since Friday.  I will go back to NYC on Tuesday and will have an extended visit to my apartment for ten days.  It’s a strange limbo I live in these days — half of the time in CT, half the time in NYC.  I can’t say I’m never home because in reality, I’m always home.  I just have two homes.  And this home, in CT, I thought I always knew, is turning out to be very different from what I remember.  Every day I’m constantly surprised at this town I grew up in, filled with strangers who are the new locals and more expert in what is going on than I am.

On Friday I was zonked. After a drive from NYC and a long morning at UCONN Medical center with my Mom (nothing serious) I was too tired for a real workout but I knew I needed to move my body just for the sake of moving it.  I thought a walk in the woods would be in order.

When I was growing up, in addition to our back yard that was an open field used for baseball and massive games of capture the flag,  the woods were our play ground as well.  We had access to acres and acres of woods.  Our woods abut the state property woods and the Roaring Brook Nature Center’s woods.  All together it is about 250 acres of woods behind our house for roaming.  (Just to give you perspective, Central Park is a little over 800 acres.) It’s nice  because I can just walk out the back door, across our yard and I’m on our old paths and within a short walk I can link into the Roaring Brook Nature Center’s trail system.

This is all new to me.  None of these trails existed when I was a kid.  We had our own trails that we made for sledding and playing cowboys and indians in the woods and hunting for Indian arrow heads.  But basically we just ran around the woods free form.  In those days we made trails marked by landmarks “take a left at big rock, and then climb over cave rock.”  We were not very fancy.  Now the trails are nicely marked — blazed with different color swatches on the trees so you can’t get lost.  When we were kids the only advice my Dad would give us on getting lost was “head downhill, you’ll find the railroad tracks and your way home.”  Times have changed. There is more to do in the woods besides smoking and playing hooky from school.

All together the nature center trails are about 5 miles in distance.  I printed out the map from their website and I managed to do about 4 miles of the trails (I’m guessing).  The only downside is some of it is kind of steep because it is a mountain.  But some of the trails go sideways across the mountain so those are less strenuous.   Technically, I think the trails are kind of runnable.  I walked but briskly.

It was bizarre to walk through meadows that were once all grass feed for cows (and we used to have to time it just right to get by the one crazy bull in Mr. Werner’s field) and now they are all overgrown with trees twelve feet high.  Mr. Werner long dead, his farm long dismantled and now I’m walking through blazed trails in woodland.   I know it was a meadow because I remembered distinctly sledding down the meadow on a sheet of ice and going ass over elbow over the stone wall and over a 3 foot drop.  Good times.

But now people drive to the nature center to come here for a day of walking in the woods and getting lectures on flora and fauna.  Here’s my version of a “wood-be” guided tour.  “Is that a white oak?”  The hiking guest would ask.  “No,” I would reply “we call that called crooked tree.”  “And over there?”  “That’s called pine forest because, well, it’s full of pine trees.”  That’ll be five bucks.

Saturday morning was filled with huge storms and a wash out.  I got out on my bike for the afternoon for an easy spin and rode to Bristol which by car I would think of as out of the way. Turns out it is only 13 miles and 45 minute bike ride.  Found a bike shop there where I could get an aerodrink bottle for my bike.  (We actually have a good bike shop in Canton but they don’t do Triathlon stuff, just roadie stuff.)  I had to ask at the bike shop for directions for a longer route home.  It took some recalculating but if I went through Bristol and Burlington and Collinsville to get back home it would be…. about another  hour.  I gave up, no matter where I rode I got there faster than I thought it would take me.  I used to think Connecticut was so big, it’s not.   It just has a lot of mountains….  I managed a 2.5 hour ride for Saturday afternoon but needed to go through five towns to do it.

Sunday was my big brick.  I was supposed to go out to do the Rev 3 course again but I decided against it because I would be by myself and the winds were 20 mph.  That didn’t sound safe.  I mapped out a good 40 mile course and set out to ride.  What a luxury to leave your driveway and start your workout!!!

Note to self.  Look at the elevation map on mapmyride before you go out.  It took me 1 hour to complete the first 10 miles because it was all uphill.  Ouch.  But none of it was undoable.  There was just enough relief to keep me from turning around.  Temp was 47 degrees and with the 20 mph winds and the huge downhill on the other side of the mountain I was freezing.  It flattened out more toward the end but it was still cold, cold, cold.  I was not displeased with my hill climbing.  I am seeing progress.  Or at least I’m feeling it in my butt.

My big accomplishment was to work on my nutrition.  I put out all of my calories before leaving.  A lot of my old knowledge was coming back.  Now I remember why I like liquid calories so much. You need to take   a lot of gels with you to get 1,200 calories!!  I did some liquid and some gels.  I had a decent breakfast.  I’d be lying if I said I really got 350 calories per hour in but I definitely got in a solid 250 plus a little more and I felt okay.  I think having the solid breakfast helped a lot.  And actually eating the calories, not just carrying them made a difference.

Not sure why anyone would care but view my ride map here

After my 3 hour bike I had to do a 2 hour run.  I already told myself on my ride to not expect miracles on my run.  I decided to run a loop from my house through old Collinsville and see what was going on in that section of town.  (The town of Canton is made up of four villages, Canton Village, Canton Center, North Canton and Collinsville.)  Collinsville was named one of the quaintest old towns in the USA.  None of us can figure out why because Collinsville is basically made up of one block with a market, a bank and a church.  Oh and there is the old mill.  It’s pretty because the Farmington River runs through it but really if you are looking for something to do other than canoe, you are out of luck.

I ran by a lot of my old haunts.  The river where I used to play hooky.  The brook where I used to play hooky.  The school from which I used to play hooky.  Old memories, good times….  Most of it hadn’t changed much.  Different faces around town.  There is a funky market in downtown (downtown, hah! three doorways) some hippy kind of people having their coffee there. Horses we have, in our case it is a one coffee pot town.

The weird part about my run was that I actually ran.  I was shocked.  I thought for sure I would be wiped out and zonked but my feet started running all by themselves.  At first I kept telling myself to hold back don’t go nuts.  Then I decided that was stupid.  I would conk out eventually so why not just go until I conked out?  I did take a few short walk breaks but I made myself run up every hill.  I found that I was getting more tired from trying to keep a fast cadence going.  But all in all I am going to give myself a B- for that run.  It really didn’t stink at all.  I did 2 hours and when I got back I was pretty spent.  Total mileage was only 9 miles but that’s okay, I’m not that fast. It was still cold out.  I was supposed to do another hour on my bike but it was cold and I was spent.  I just did a ten minute out and ten minute back to spin out my legs.  Just shy of 6 hours when I stumbled back into the house.  Whew.

Hard, hard work but I felt good about it.  It was just solid effort, good nutritional strategy, good pacing.  Good, hard work.  I can live with that.  No extra fatigue, no heart racing, nothing extra ugly. Just a middle-aged woman trying to get into shape workout.  I can live with that.  I do think the key to successful race for me would be to find one where the water temp is over 74 degrees, the course is flat and the air temp is 60.  I’ll keep looking.


Here is a picture of Lasalle’s market “downtown” Collinsville.  Don’t think there is more to look at, this IS downtown Collinsville.  This and the Canoe store. Don’t blink!!

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5/4/10 Build a Better Bike

Tuesday.  Ah DOMS, delayed onset of muscle soreness.  Yesterday I was feeling pretty darn good and today, feeling the work of the weekend.  Nothing bad, just feeling the way I’m supposed to feel.  Like I worked out.

Last Thursday was a crazy travel day for me.  I had to be up in CT and I was planning on heading to training camp directly from CT.  Unfortunately my tri bike (Tina) was not back from Florida yet (they told me it would be Saturday before it was back) so I was looking suspiciously at Betty (my road bike) wondering how was she going to feel for Sunday’s six hour ride?  It was only after I got to CT that I got an email saying that in fact my tri bike was back in NYC and in the shop.  DARN!!!  I would have preferred to use that bike for my long ride.  Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.

But a dear friend of mine goes up North past my house in CT every week for work and I realized that the bike shop was very near her apartment.  On a long shot I gave her text to see if there was anyway she could pick it up for me and bring it to CT.  I would meet her and grab the bike.  She said yes she could do that and I was so excited!!  Saved!!  Things were looking good for the weekend!

So I was in CT all hooked up with my two bikes and ready for camp.  I had dropped my road bike off at the bike shop in Newington to get a tune up (and a new  derailleur which I’m not really sure I needed but I let them talk me into it.)  While I was at the bike shop I had a sudden realization.  I had my tri bike but the pedals were on my table back in NYC!!  They made us take the pedals off before shipping.  Chapstick!  Now I would have to buy new pedals too.  Enough with spending all this money on triathlon.  Then they rolled Betty out and she looked so nice and shiny.  And then I noticed her pedals.   Those pedals!!   I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West when she spies Dorothy’s ruby slippers!  Those shoes are mine!!!  I grabbed a pedro’s hex pedal thingamabobby and put it on the counter, I’ll take this too.  My master plan in place.

Flash forward to Saturday night, post 4.5 brick session in the heat.  I go up to one of the head coaches and do something I have never done.  I asked for a modified bike workout.  I just knew there was no way I was going to be able to do all that hill climbing for six hours based on my Saturday performance.  In all my years of training with Trilife, I have never had to get off my bike even once.  Even when other people had to, I was always able to gut it out.  I had come to accept my new limitations.  I would need an old lady version.  I felt like this was the beginning of the end.  You start making concessions now and then next thing you know you are playing shuffleboard on the Princess line.  But I had to acknowledge my limits.  Six hours in the heat was going to be a long time and those were some serious mountains on the route.  Coach was cool as usual and told me to let him think about it.  Maybe do the first loop and then a modified second loop.  That sounded like a happy compromise.  He’d let me know in the morning.

Saturday night I was planning on doing my operation on Betty and Tina.  Remove Betty’s pedals and put them on Tina.   I knew in theory it should work.    I took out the hex pedal thingamadoozie and put it into the pedal.  It didn’t fit.  WHAT!?!?!  I can’t believe it.  How many hex pedal sizes are there out there?  Can’t they standardize anything!!  I was so mad.  I was defeated.  Now I would have to ride my road bike for six hours and to be honest it wasn’t that comfortable after 2 hours.  My knees start to hurt a little.  Okay, okay, true confession time.  I did my own bike fit on my road bike.  It feels fine for 3-4 loops of the park but when I get off my knees hurt a little.  On my tri bike they don’t hurt at all.  So yes I know, I know, I will bring my road bike to get a fit but that wasn’t going to help me now.  I sat on the bed and fumed for a minute until I remembered that handy dandy little tool in my bike bag.

I have a mini bike tool with a hex part that has another little bit on the end that comes off.  I took that thingy and put it in the pedal.  Then I took the hex wrench from the bike shop and put it in the thingy.  It FIT!!   I was so excited.  But then I pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled and it was not moving anything.  I knew enough that I had to go the opposite way of the pedal (as you pedal you are tightening the pedal) and I knew that the right and left side were opposites, but no matter which way I tried I couldn’t get the thingy to move.  Once again my lack of arm strength coming to haunt me.  I had to call in the reserves.  One of the assistant coaches was staying on the floor above and he knew a lot about bikes.  I called him to come down and see if he could help.  He came in, looked at it, went pop, pop, pop and the pedal moved.  Couple more twists and he had it off.   Then the big test was would Tina take Betty’s pedals?   She did!!!  The shoe fits!!!  Woo hoo!!!  We put the pedals on in about two seconds and Tina was ready to ride.  I was so happy and so grateful I still can’t tell you.

Sunday morning 6:30 a.m. we meet in the parking lot to start riding exactly at 6:45.  I’m riding Tina and we are all set to go.  Of course I am expecting Tina to be all temperamental as she sometimes is.  But instead I start pedalling and she starts to purr.  She really gave me no problem whatsoever in Florida and she was happy here too.  Had we come to some kind of reconciliation after Lake Placid?   The temperature is just fine, I’m feeling fine.  The coach is following behind me and makes me stop because I don’t have my quick release lever tightened correctly.  Then he makes me adjust my shoes.  He makes me review my nutrition strategy with him.  How many calories would I be taking?  When did I start taking them?  What about fresh water?  How was I going to refuel?   LOL he must think I’m a mess.  But I was okay.  I had a plan.  I feel okay.  I’m just going to stay in the moment and go as far as I could.  I had some gels and some powders.  I kind of counted it out.  I don’t need as much as I think I need.  I take too many calories anyway.  I’ll be good.  I have plenty.

For about 10 miles we pedal nicely along the flats.  Then we hit the first steep climb.  Coach tells me to hold back and monitor my heart rate and don’t try to keep up with the sparkly kids.  He doesn’t need to tell me twice.  I was feeling fine but I was well aware of the difference between 1/2 hour of riding and 6 hours of riding.  I made it to the top of the first climb.  Coming down the mountain I felt great to be riding Tina.  I felt more control and I wasn’t scared at all.  I mentally thanked my friends for helping me get my bike.  Basically I spent the entire six hours thanking them in my head.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me be able to ride this bike.  When Tina is good she is the best bike on the planet.  I feel like my feet and the pedals are one unit.  My back is long and relaxed.  I can now stay in aero for a hundred years.  We are back to being together.  (Took a little while to get back into aero but now I’m good). 

Rode mostly by myself and then with a couple of others.  Stopped at the gas station to refill on water and have a gu.  Then we had the huge climb to get back.  This is where I kind of lost it.  My legs were shattered.  I had nothing.  Zip, nada, nothing.  I was climbing 2 miles per hour.  I was thinking back to previous years when coach George would come by and tell me to go into a harder gear because I was spinning too fast.  Not now, I was in my easiest gear and it felt like I was hauling a truckload of timber up the mountain behind me.  I was fading fast.  Coach Earl popping in to check on me periodically as I slogged my way up the mountain.  This wasn’t good.

Coming down the mountain was so much better on my tri bike.  Again I had to thank my friends for helping me.  If I had to do this on my road bike I would not have been happy.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Then I got a chance to chat a little more with one of the coaches and I had a bit of a revelation.   Have you ever had an idea going around in your head and in your mind it makes perfect sense but when you utter it out loud you realize that the idea is totally idiotic?  Something about the idea hitting air makes it expand into stupidity.  Well that is what happened to me.   I’m pedalling along next to Coach Earl and I’m telling him all about my drama of the day before.  I knew it wasn’t just me that had a hard time and I also know that I have a lot of factors going on, blah de blah, blah, blah.  So he says “How’s your nutrition?”  I say fine, my head feels clear.  (I use my head feeling clear as my barometer of how I am feeling — if I can think, I figure I have enough calories.)  Then I tell him my theory.  “See I’m trying to lose weight so I’m playing around with finding the minimum number of calories I can do these rides with.  I used to take 350 calories an hour when I was doing Ironman but now I am only taking 250 an hour and I feel fine with that.”   Poof, did you see the big balloon of stupidity blow up in front me?  Earl (who has been coaching me since 2003) looked at me.  I looked at him.  I said “oh my God, I’m an idiot aren’t I?”  Then I had to feel even more stupid when I said, okay I had two bottles with 200 calories in each of them and a gu for 100 calories that’s five hundred calories.  How far are we into the ride?  2 hours and 48 minutes.   I’m behind on my calories.  No wonder I was tired going up that hill.   Oh yeah, I also tried a different breakfast this morning.  I haven’t been able to eat solid foods so I tried a protein shake made of green stuff.  I could only choke down half of it, so the 400 calorie breakfast I thought I had was really only about 300 calories.   And that was at 5:30!  Oh my God!!!  Am I really such an idiot?  I know this stuff.  I know this stuff cold.  How could I be so absolutely stupid?  It’s hot out.  I am expending even more calories than normal.    What is wrong with me?

The coach is really nice though his face says “I cannot believe that after seven years you are making such a rookie mistake.”  He doesn’t say it but let’s just say it is hanging in the air above us.  Instead he says “okay when we get back to cars I want you to eat some solid food, okay?”   I mumble yes, mea culpa, mea culpa.  How do you say I’m an idiot in Latin?

We get back to the cars I fill up with water and calories and eat an entire cliff bar (300 calories).  I start to feel just fine.  I’m pedalling fine.  I’m keeping to the flats.  No more climbing.  But I’m feeling just fine.  Same coach comes by and tells me my focus is on digestion and to keep my heart rate low enough to digest the calories.  Yes sir.    I pedal nice and easy and start to feel better and better.  I suck down more calories in a drink.  I feel even better.  I’m absolutely kicking myself.  Practice caloric reduction outside of practice not during.  Yutz, Yutz, Yutz.  (Ooops I think those are potato chips.)

My last hour I am riding my strongest of the entire weekend.  I feel I have some strength.  My head is clear.   I have some numbness in my feet but that’s okay.  My bike is still humming along.  I’m feeling just fine and to think all it took was a big cookie…  Lesson learned the hard way. 

I will keep exploring breakfast options.  I’m also going to talk to my doctor about skipping the heavy iron right before a big training day as it makes it really hard for me to get solid food down.

I’m going to find something tasty and not green for a morning protein shake.  That Vegan powder thing was gross.

I’m going to incorporate some more solid food into my calories.  I used use Infinite exclusively but I think now I need to explore some different options.  We don’t just stay the same, that’s why we need options A, B and C. 

I’m going to go back to consuming 350 calories an hour for training sessions greater than 3 hours.  Under 3 hours I can go lighter and eat afterwards.  For these long weekends I will eat.



Not loving this picture but I do like the tires my friend D&G gave me for my birthday  two years ago that I finally put on Tina!!

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5/3/10 Teamwork

Monday.  Last New Paltz Camp of the season is over.  I guess the best words to describe it would be “unseasonably warm.”  In other words freakin’ hot!  In some ways it was good to train in this unexpected heat — let me think about that and I’ll bet back to you on exactly what those reasons are.   Of course I was worried about myself but as I saw younger, stronger, faster teammates than me dropping like flies I quickly became worried for the whole lot of us.  A couple seemed to do just fine in the heat — we’ll just call them abnormigines.  The rest of us suffered in the first of many sweat fests of 2010.

On Saturday we all drove the bike course that we would be riding on Sunday.  It was a 40 mile loop that we would ride twice.  Driving it in the car first put a little assurance than everybody wouldn’t get lost despite the cue sheets and maps provided (as well as marked turns on the actual roads).    I followed along intently as we drove to make sure I wouldn’t get lost.   It seemed straight forward enough.

Then at noon (90 something degrees) we got on our bikes and rode up to the top of a mountain.  I’ve done this climb a million times. (Okay maybe 6 times).  It’s hard but definitely doable.  I tried to  pace myself watching my heartrate (which was just fine and a couple of times over the weekend my watch actually yelled out – ‘pick it up slacker!’ in the same sardonic voice from the gps thingy in my car which kind of freaked me out.)  When we got to the top of the mountain we had to climb another winding hilly road to a parking lot where we would begin our workout.  I hadn’t gone up too far when my heart started that wild beating thing and moved up into my throat and I started shaking.  I pulled over and stopped in the shade.  I looked at my watch and my heartrate was high but only like 150 which is not dangerous scary.  I’ve seen 150 plenty of times and had been willing to plow through it.  But all my Danger-Danger-Will-Robinson   alarms were going off so I just wanted to wait until my breathing got down to normal.  A little scared, a little unnerved but in 100% self-protection mode.  I was not going to kill myself for any training plan.

The sad part was I had in my head that if I didn’t move from the spot where I stopped and got back on my bike at precisely the same spot I would have ridden the entire distance.  In retrospect I have to laugh at my stupidity.  Why not just walk your bike up?  No.  I couldn’t do that.  I had to get back on my bike in the same spot.  What an idiot.  So I got back on my bike and it felt doable.  Went up another hill — whole body starts shaking again, heart moves up to throat a little faster this time.  Pulled over and repeated.  The shaking was getting more pronounced.  Again I waited until my breathing returned to normal and started again.  I had to stop for a total of 3 times on this one stupid little driveway just to make it to the top.   I was more than a little worried.  What was the shaking thing about?  My heart was doing that beating out of my chest thing that I thought was gone.  I also had that prickly feeling and that cool rush that comes over your arms that I think is a sign of heat stroke.  Great that would be just my luck. 

There are a bunch of reasons for my heat exhaustion definitely the biggest being the heat.  But I also think coupled with a bunch of other little factors (my doctor had just upped my medication by a smidge on Thursday so maybe that helped with the heart palpitations?)  I am carrying 30 more pounds that I was in 2008 (though I think after this weekend that may be down to 25).  I got my period on Friday so I may have been systemically a little depleted.  I’m not sure I took enough pre-workout calories and hydration.  I just came back from another heat exhausting weekend in Florida and maybe I never really rehydrated/recovered from that?  I think you have to really load up on the hydration for two days ahead of time and I’m not sure I really did that (okay, I’m sure I didn’t really do that.)  So I don’t think it was one thing that made me have a shake down.  I think it was  like a recipe, put all those factors on a bike and put it on 92 degrees and let it boil. 

I got to the top and sat under a bush.  Waited until everything stopped shaking.  Was weird to take off my cycling shoe and see my foot shaking on its own.   We were about to embark on a 3 hour run.  I didn’t even know what to think about my shaking feet.   Everything stopped shaking fairly quickly and my heart palpitations seemed to go down quickly.  Maybe about 1 minute?   But it was enough to scare me.   I had plenty of water and nutrition with me.  Packed up my hydration holster and headed out onto the trail.  I didn’t have even the remotest plan of actually running.  Too hot.  I stopped at the rest room.  Definitely felt better.  Proceeded down the trail.  It was shaded.  Hmm.  Not shaking.  Took my little inventory.  I don’t feel that terrible.   I’ll just power walk.  Then I started my New Paltz dialog.  Same old conversation I’ve had with myself for years up at these training camps. It goes something like this.

Okay.  So here you are.  All alone on the trail once again.  What are you doing here? What are your intentions? 

I’m here to train.

Train for what?  You could be down having an ice tea at a nice cafe and look at all these sane people sitting here on the rocks just relaxing and taking in the day?

I’m here to get stronger.  (Notice I never say anything about Ironman in my head.  It’s always about getting the mythical stronger.)

Okay so if you are here to get stronger what are you doing about it?  What can you do right here, right now in this moment using what you have to get stronger?

I can walk faster.  I can pump my arms.  I can start counting off the strides.  Okay, here I can run a little, it’s not so bad.  I can run this one little section, right here.  To that tree, I can run to that tree.

And this is pretty much how my head works up the trail and then down, down, down toward the water.  Wait a minute.  I clearly remember the coach saying we are climbing to the top and the running downhill would be on the way back.  I ask a couple of rock sitters if they have seen a bunch of people wearing red run by.  They look at my like I’m insane. “Too hot for running” the guy says.  Yeah I forgot to mention it was a bunch of lunatics wearing red running by.  I was going the wrong way.  So I turned around and trudged back up.  Almost all the way back and I see the sticks in the road pointing to go up the mountain.  By now I’m feeling pretty normal.  Just hot like everybody else.  I find little patches where I can run and just keep moving.  I seek out every patch of shade and avoid the sun like a vampire.  Otherwise I just walk.

When I meet the team coming back down I turn around and join them in the run back down.  definitely feeling normal.  Hot and out of shape but no shaking.  I see how hot everyone else is feeling.  How did I make it through 137 miles in the desert only a year ago?  Maybe time to start sitting in the sauna again?  But we also had a week of sitting in Morocco before we started to run in the desert.  We had no acclimation for this at all.  This heat wave caught everyone by surprise.

My last hour of the run was out on a flatter out and back and pretty much everyone on the team looked like that had been thrown into a washing machine.  They looked haggard and tired.  There are no smiles anywhere.  I was just doing my jog/walk thing.  Pick a point, jog to it.  Pick a point, walk to it.  Pick another one.  Like we do in Central park – Lampost to lampost.  Seems to be how I get everywhere.  Lampost to lampost or tree to tree.  I now had plenty of people to run with because now they were all in my world.  The fast people having to walk.  Not knowing how to do it.  I get a couple of different people involved in my game.  A couple of people head back for shade.  Ironically, as usual, I feel best in my last hour on the wog (walk/jog).  I guess I made it to the other side.  My body parts just gave in and said “okay, we all told her we don’t want to do it but she is insisting so here we go again.  p.s. we hate you.”

When the 2.5+ hour slogfest was over we headed back to our bikes (coach shortened the run slightly due to wilting athletes).  I was walking to our bikes with one of my fav teammates (who is a lot younger, faster and stronger) and I confessed “I had to stop on the climb up the driveway.”  She looked at me nonplussed and said “Oh I had to walk too.”  Really?  She had to walk up?  Here I was thinking it was just me.  I think of her as so strong and young and skinny.  Why would she have to walk up?  ‘Cause it was freakin hot that’s why.  But right then and there I was reminded of one of the greatest benefits of training with a team is that when you see other people suffering along with you, you don’t feel like such a complete loser.  But then again, had I not been with the team I wouldn’t have even attempted that crazy climb.  I guess that’s what they mean by a double-edged sword. 

The ride back to the parking lot was pretty much downhill and everybody wanted to just get the heck back.  I was very nervous going down the big hills.  I was on my road bike and felt very uncomfortable.  I was really gripping my brakes and my bike was not slowing down enough for my liking.   Then it was just a ride back to the cars.  One of the guys on the team kept pretending to stop for something and then would miraculous jump back onto the road right in front of me so I could draft off of him.  I knew what he was doing.  Normally I don’t like to be that coddled but that day I was okay with it.  I appreciated him pretending that he wasn’t waiting for me but I knew he was.  (There is another guy on the team who waits for me on long rides but he rides around in circles until I catch up to him).  See another reason why teams are good.  Even the fastest of the fastest guys will have your back.  (That always makes me a little flumoxed when I see someone that fast be kind enough and thoughtful enough to wait for the slowest person).

We all melted into our cars.  4.5 hour sweat fest done.  Some cars peeled out of the parking lot so fast.  Everyone wanted to get the heck out of there.  All I could think of was a slushy.  I don’t actually think I’ve ever had a slushy but I knew I wanted one asap.  I pulled over into the Mobil station and they had a big ice machine and I had it with Pepsi.  Why doesn’t Pepsi taste as perfect as coke?  But it had to do. 

I was well aware that in 13 hours I was going to be back on my bike for a six hour ride and I had better get rested up toute suite!  In the back of my mind I was worried about the shaking, the heat and my overall suitability to even be out there.  I had the sneaky feeling that I may have finally after all these years met my limit.

Stay tuned for day 2.


Article my Mom found showing how normal people enjoy New Paltz.,0,3534620.story

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