Friday, December 28, 2007

High School, Revisited

We traveled to Maine the day after Christmas to see my family. We planned to stay until Thursday night, and I had to get in a swim according to my PLAN from Caitlin that I refuse to disobey. (Yep, I'm a little rigid...) Problem. Where? 

My friend Alina swims with a Masters team up there, so I thought perhaps I could join them. They weren't practicing Christmas week, however. Instead, she had gotten special permission to work out with the high school swim team. Did I want to come? Oh boy. 

The coach of both the girls and boys swim teams in Cape Elizabeth is a former classmate of mine--a guy with whom I was actually pretty good friends. I walked into the pool site and immediately saw him. The whole thing was like a weird dream. Here I am walking in with my best friend from high school to the pool, where we spent so much time, and there is Ben, my buddy and fellow swimmer--only he's the coach--and Alina and I aren't in high school, but are 37, and we are supposed to get in the pool and practice just like the old days with all of these kids... Bizarre. The whole thing was bizarre. 

 It was also a bit of a nightmare (even though I had fun). One of the sets we did was 12 x 125 on 2 minutes. The odds were to be done as 100 IM with 25 free at the end, and the evens were straight free with a start off the block. Yikes. Anway, we get started on the set and I quickly fall behind and fail to make the interval. No big deal. I'm a 37 year old Mom practicing with high schoolers., right? What did I expect? I already have no shame... Except that every time we started off the blocks, the whole team had to wait for me to finish so they wouldn't dive on top of me. EMBARRASSING! 

I apologized profusely to Ben after practice about holding up his team, but he just laughed and said he knew the team was psyched about the added break. BTW, my friend Alina is a rock start swimmer (former state champion in a billion events) --and she kicks the asses of the high schoolers, so she was in no way holding back the team as I was... 

In other news, I am finally starting to make some progress on the bike. I am now going faster while still staying in zone 1. Of course, I still haven't cured the boredom problem. It's pretty deadly. I'm supposed to ride 2.5 hours tomorrow morning, and I have my bike set up next to a table complete with drinks, a gel, 1/2 a Clif Bar, 4 books, 3 magazines and the TV clicker. Wish me good luck. 

Unrelated to all of this is super exciting news for me in Mommyland. My youngest has decided that she is now potty-trained. She's determined. No more diapers. This was a huge, special, total GIFT. My other two resisted training and probably would still be shitting in diapers if I hadn't insisted for months and months that they act like big kids. Lara is only 2.5 years old, and she basically wants to be like her big bro and sis. Sweet! She's gone three days with only one mistake. Of course this mistake was that she took a dump in her underpants--not pretty--but still, things are looking promising. NO MORE DIAPERS. Hallelujah!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I am Now...

THE IRON MATRON Tri-ing to do it all was just too whiny. It's a play on Iron Maiden. Not sure those who grew up post 80's will get it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Part of the Problem...

Is that I am a pastel girl. My favorite color is pink. My blog is a light, airy blue. I like stuffed animals. I like to watch Animal Planet.
Girls who like pastels and watch Animal Planet don't kick ass. They are like that girl in the song Free Falling by Tom Petty: fluffy, walked over, and left.

I am not fluffy, walked over and left, but I feel edge-less.Why isn't my blog edgy and black? Why don't I wear black stilettos? Why won't I get a tattoo, even though I WANT ONE. Why do I apologize so f-ing much? Why can't I deal with conflict AT ALL?

I think the reason (or one of the reasons) I love triathlon so much is because when I race I leave pastel girl behind. I am strong, tough, and I will be damned if I let the dude with the hot bike pass me. I will kick your face off if you touch me in the swim. In short, I am focused, aggressive, and sometimes downright mean when I race, and it makes me feel alive and real and free.

I think I am in need of a merger between my pastel self and my racing self.
I don't want my daughters (or my son, for that matter) to have a pastel woman as mom. How do I let my racing self out of her pastel shell without worrying so much that people won't like me anymore if I do?

I need a long, hard run rocking out to American Idiot and other Green Day rants.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Suck on the Bike

And it will be a long, long time before I can say otherwise. 

I am runner first, a swimmer second, and a biker--ummm. Not at all. 

Andy bought me Little Red, as I've come to affectionately call her, last Christmas. I gazed upon her a lot last winter, thinking how attractive (and intimidating) she was, but didn't actually get on her until May of last year. Just looking at those clip-on pedals and those skinny, skinny tires made my heart race (in a terrified way, not an excited way). 

The first time I rode her we went to this area where there is a one mile loop closed to traffic. I rode at about 5 mph, my grip on the handlebars so tight my hands hurt for like an hour after I got off. I fell. And then I fell again. I swore. I panicked. My knees got bloody. I screwed up Little Red's handlebars by falling sideways one too many times. I thought I would never be able to go on the main road, let alone race. But here's the thing: I had already signed up for the Timberman 1/2 Iron in August. Nothing like runner's arrogance , huh? (e.g I run marathons! How hard could 56 little miles on the bike be?) So there was no choice. Little Red and I had to become a team, and I had to learn how to ride. 

I had Jesse make me a plan, and I was off--wobbling a bit--but off. Now that I've been riding Little Red for 8 months, I'm no longer terrified of the main road or of racing (although I'm still a little anxious every time I ride outside). Nevertheless, I always opt to run first, swim second, and avoid biking at all costs. Until now. 

I began working with Cait last week. Now I'm running like 15 miles a week (as opposed to 30-35 I usually run) and I'm on the trainer what feels like 3 hours a day. Today I need to get on for two hours and ten minutes. Argh. So so sosossososo long. We just got about a foot of snow and it's still sleeting outside, so obviously riding outside isn't a possibility. Gotta love New England. I'm supposed to have a cadence of 95 rpm all the time when I'm riding. Um. That's like IMPOSSIBLE. Here's why: if I put it into a normal middle gear, I can't spin fast enough. If I put it into an easy gear, I can spin, but I'm not able to pedal smoothly. Does that make sense? Anybody have any suggestions for me? Is it just one of those practice makes perfect things? 

On another note, I was able to get a night away this weekend. I went out with a good friend of mine to a holiday party in town. I don't usually drink, but hey, it's the holiday season, and I was out SANS kids! So I had like three chocolate martinis. Right. I had to get up to run 60 minutes Sat. morning. It was not pretty. It might have been the longest 60 minutes of my life. Remind me not to do that again any time soon. Definitely. Not. Worth. It.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Life Outside of Triathlon???

I never wrote about my brother's wedding, which took place three weeks ago now. It was awesome. 

 I love my new sister-in-law, who is smart, fun, and gorgeous, but who most importantly loves my kids! She is really a favorite aunt already. My son adores her (and is perhaps a little in love with her--I'm not sure. Can one be in love at the age of 4?) My daughters were flower girls in the wedding, and they were so cute. Lara (my two-year-old) didn't make it down the aisle, turning around and screaming "Mommy!" when only half way there, but she was still super cute in her cake-like dress and shimmery gold shoes. My sister's daughter was also a flower girl. She was very poised, and tried her best to get Lara to go down the aisle. 

The best part of the wedding came when my cousin Nate, the best man and a musician, sang with a few other guys (my baby brother, AJ, included) a "special" song for the bride and groom. In the ceremony program it just said "special song"--with no other explanation. Even Jordan (brother) and Odessa (sister-in-law) didn't know what was in store. It was a great moment when they began singing "Open Arms" by Journey. Of course they had to sing it an octave lower than Steve Perry sings it, but still, it was AWESOME. By the end of the song all of us who grew up in the 80s were serenading Jordan and Odessa too. It was fantastic. My favorite picture is 

of Noah and Lara holding hands. When does that ever happen? 

My sister's children are Alanna, the older girl with long blond tresses and Sam, the older boy. The final pic., to the right, was taken after Lara scrambled back down the aisle and into my lap. 

It's been really cold here the last couple of days and it's been hard to motivate to work out outside. Yesterday it was snowing and wet when I got out of work, but like so many of you, I couldn't stomach the treadmill, nor did I have the time to go to the gym before pick-up, so I sucked it up and ran outside. After 200 feet I stepped into a huge, icy, slush puddle in order to avoid getting hit by an obnoxious "you better move" driver. My feet got soaked--which in my opinion is the absolute worst. I kept slogging, though, and the run didn't turn out to be so bad. In fact, about a mile before the end I had a great moment, running fast downhill while Greenday pounded in my ears and the snow fell in large wet flakes on my face. 

 It's kind of awesome when you defy the weather and just run. It makes you feel sorry for all of those people holed up in their snug homes, who just don't get it and totally miss out. 

Despite the above sentiment, today I just couldn't deal with the cold (it was 25 degrees with a wind at 4 p.m.) so I went to the gym. They have this new bike there that has a video screen attached to it. I've watched people ride it the last few weeks and observed that it measures everything--power, heart rate, speed, time, mileage. Also, you can select a particular course and the screen simulates the ride. Today there were only a few people in the gym, so I figured I could try and fiddle around with it without feeling the pressure to just do the workout and get off. It's pretty cool. I've never ridden and had my power measured during the ride. Generally my power measured around 120, although I've no idea what that means. I got as high as 250, and as low as 30. I tried a few of the simulated rides, but they made me feel nauseated. 

Does anyone out there use a power meter when they train? I'd love to hear people's opinions of it, whether it's helpful, or just another way to spend three billion dollars on this sport we love! Next week I start working with my new coach. I'm going to miss these weeks of only working out for 6 or 7 hours and only doing what I want to do!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

GNRCYO 5k Race Report

I ran the GNRCYO 5k this morning. 

My running club, GNRC , puts it on. We had a pretty good turn out, I think. I wonder if we hit the 100 mark? In any case we made $1200 for the club, which is awesome and a relief, since we're a new club and until now had no saved money. I won it for women, but my time was far from stellar (race results--21:29) and far from a PR. I never run fast on that course, and today it was windy, really cold (28 degrees at the start with a big wind chill), and I haven't done speed work in over four months. The last mile is a gradual uphill, so I ran two well-paced 6:50 miles, and then something like a 7:15 or so for the third. Anyway, I was about 10 seconds ahead of Maureen and Rose, two of my teammates, so I really just barely edged them out. I won a pair of Reeboks for holding onto first, though, which is very exciting. The last time I won a pair of shoes was in the Muddy Buddy with Andy two years back! 

5Ks really hurt. I was sucking major wind 1/2 mile into the race, and by the end I began to have those evil, defeatist thoughts, like, "Hmmm. I could just stop. That would end the pain. Who cares if you don't win? Who cares if I'm shamed?" Luckily I didn't listen to that evil inner voice and tried to counter it with singing, Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other from the kids' TV Christmas special, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. You know that show? Dorky, but it works for me. 

My two oldest kids have been taking skating lessons, and they both want to start hockey. I'm excited about this. I love watching hockey--but.... I was a swimmer. I want them to be swimmers too! Weep. We're starting swimming lessons again in Jan, so maybe they'll get the swimming bug back. 

I'm loving reading everyone's blog out there! Please know that if I've put you on the "Blogs I Read" list, I really do read your blog. It's amazing to think of you all training out there, all of the country and far from me. I thought of Flo this morning (who was just bemoaning the temps in the 60's they have there in Hawaii in "winter") as I headed out into the bone chilling, freezing wind and cold for my 5K! Wish I was there....:)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Building One's Blog

Takes a lot of time. I read so many blogs now--and I haven't even taken the time to comment on them or to add them to my own site. I need to do this. I want to do this. But... Here's the thing: I feel like I'm busting into people's clique of friends when I post a comment. 

Know what I mean? It's like the whole tri-blogger community is this huge group of friends and how do you break in? I think you break in by just commenting all the time and making yourself a nuisance, but I'm not sure. Also, you must make your blog super cool and FULL. 

By full I mean it should have lots of cool little lists and bars and a chart of one's workouts and those cool little photos boxes on which you click to take a step into someone else's universe. Also, you need a cool header--a cool title (which I don't have--mine's too insipid-too whiny.) I don't even know how to make a cool header--like Sara's from Trisara-Tops (such a great name) or MoMo's (love the Gerber Daises and the black and pink). How do you make a header like that?? Why do I even want to reach out? Why does this whole tri-blogger thing appeal to me so much? 

 I think it's because it is a way to reach out and connect with people around the only thing I have that is all mine and outside of my identity as a teacher/wife/mom. I exist in this super small suburban universe, and it's hard to break out. I am a mom. with brown hair. I drive my kids around in my Toyota mini-van. I teach Island of the Blue Dolphins. I listen to NPR or Books on Tape instead of music in the car. I don't have too many shots of Jager on Friday night when I'm out with my girlfriends partying it up. I don't go out on Friday nights with my girlfriends anymore. I only meet them at Starbucks and chat about being a suburban mom. I worry about hosting book club because of the stains and dog hair on my couch. My husband and I sleep in a king sized bed. I wear clogs to work. I can count on one hand the movies I've seen in the theater since my first child was born 6.5 years ago. I could go on. 

  Instead I'll say that I'm looking forward to my run tomorrow afternoon--during the hour I've carved out between work and home. I will play "Eye of the Tiger" and "Don't Stop Believing" and pound the earth and feel alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Now?

I ran 4 today in 8 min pace which is fast for moi. It's the Nano. How can you jog when "It's Raining Men?" comes on? 

Last week I did the same loop three minutes slower than I did today. CRAZY. I ran 37 miles last week--which is the most I've run in one week in a long, long time. I feel great--ready to attack those awesome long winter races they have up here in the north. Unfortunately, I don't know how many of my favorites races I'll be able to run this year. 

I emailed Cait scads of information about me, my current training and my goals. I mentioned the three billion races I'd like to do in 2008, but I don't have high hopes that I will be able to do even close to what I'd do if I hadn't decided to become serious about this triathlon business. 

I'm so excited to meet with Cait and get started with working with her, but I'm also sort of sad. There is a certain joy in planning your workout week and in deciding exactly what races you want to do and when. It will be hard for me to trust her and defer to her about what I should be doing day in and day out. But I will. I've done it my way, and I need to know if done another way I can improve substantially, stun myself and stun the world. 37 year old woman with three kids wins TIMBERMAN! Where did this girl come from? Can you believe she never considered herself an athlete until just recently? She ROCKS! Her parents and husband and kids must be so, so proud. 

Yes. Well. Anyway. I'm not just sad about giving up racing every weekend. It's that I will have to give up having running be the priority. Bike will take the front seat in my training. Daily running keeps me sane, and I'm scared. On the other hand, I am psyched to begin something totally new. I know she'll start me with weight training, and because I am little and powerless, I will actually be working to get bigger and buff. That is FUN. I've always wanted to have big muscles. I've spent my life either short and soft or short and little, but never short and ROCK SOLID, baby. I don't know what's up with the caps tonight. 

 I've been reading Locked and Loaded because the girl who authors it, Kim, is coached by Tim, who works with Cait and Jesse at QT2 Systems. After reading it I feel like a snorefest of a person. She really is locked and loaded. Alas, my partying days are over. I'm a mom. I'm a teacher. I'm almost 40. My hair is brown. The last time I was seriously loaded was in like 1995. I won't attempt to calculate how old my new coach, or her boyfriend, or Jesse, or this girl Kim were then. I've decided to run every single day until Cait gets back to me with a tentative plan for the season. I'm going to rock out to every cheesy 80s song I can get my hands on. I love ya, Ange! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gotta Love Green Day

I had a rocking 14.4 mile run on Thanksgiving morning. For me, running long on Thanksgiving has become a rite. It allows me to feel super fit and strong on a day that in the past made me feel indulgent and blobby. I take my family to to Maine for Thanksgiving to see my extended family, and so an added bonus of this run is that I get to run there. There's nothing like running on the totally quiet, misty-cold roads of coastal Maine in November. 

When I first became a runner I couldn't go out for a jog without my walkman; I had tapes devoted totally to running and these tapes got me through those years during which running 30 minutes felt endless. 

When I met my now husband he alluded to the fact that "real" runners didn't run with musical "support." (He was a college runner--a steeple chaser--and had strong beliefs about what distinguished the true runner from the jogger...youthful bologna I now realize..) However, at the time I both wanted to impress him and I didn't want to be a faux runner. I became used to running without music, and I never picked it up again. Walkmans became extinct, and I never upgraded to the I-Pod when they came around. I also never got a disc man--that piece of technology that existed between the walkman and the I-Pod--. So when Andy got my a Nano as a surprise gift I was pleasantly surprised, but I didn't think much of it. It had been so long (15 years!) since I had listened to music while I ran. Would I even like it? I figured perhaps I'd use it at the gym when I got annoyed with the sound of people and machines. Oh. My. God. I have been missing out on a whole world of inspiration for all of these years. I took the Nano out for my Thanksgiving run, and listened to it the entire two hours. At one point I was running down a quiet road, the tall pines all around me, and the song Wake me up when September Ends by Green Day came on. The music builds to a peak, and I just got so blissed out during the build. It was orgasmic. No lie. I felt so in touch and alive and strong. Words really diminish the power of the feeling I had. 

It got me thinking that one thing I would love is to exchange playlists with other triathletes. I know very few people read this, but if you do, and you have a great running playlist will you email it to me or put it into a comment? My Nano will not take over my running completely. I love listening to the sound of my breathing in the cold quiet of winter (not so much in the summer!) and to my feet pounding the road. But rediscovering music while running has been unbelievable. 

 Thanksgiving Day Playlist: Abba-Waterloo, SOS, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Take A Chance on Me Tomorrow from Annie Fight for Your Right to Party, The Beastie Boys Beatles: Twist and Shout, I Want to Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Get Back, Drive My Car Billy Joel: Sometimes a Fantasy, Only the Good Die Young Whadaya Want, Casey MacGill Pour Some Sugar on Me-Def Leppard Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day Just Like Heaven, the Cure Good Riddance, Green Day American Idiot, Green Day Nice Guys Finish Last, Green Day, Jane Says, Jane's Addiction Journey: Don't Stop Believing, Any Way You Want It, Separate Ways Michael Jackson: Beat It, PYT The Police: Roxanne, So Lonely, Bring on the Night Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie The Ghost of Tom Joad, Rage Against the Machine Van Halen: The Cradle Will Rock, Panama, Dreams

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Coach!

It looks like I have secured a coach for 2008. I'm really excited. Her name is Caitlin Shea-Kenney. It's taken me a long time to figure the coaching bit out. I knew what I was looking for but it took time to find it. Other coaches I researched or spoke to included DeDe Greisbauer, Kurt Perham, Dave Nerrow, and a few local coaches (who looked truly excellent) through Carmichael Training Systems. I was most star struck by DeDe, who is World Class (recently number 7 at Kona!)

Caitlin is a local professional triathlete who I have admired from a distance for a long time now. She works with Jesse Kropelnicki and Tim Snow at QT2 Training Systems. Jesse made a plan for me last year when I first took up triathlon, and I really like working with him, so I decided to see if they had any openings.

The other exciting thing that came from this is that Jesse asked me to join a team he (and Cait and Tim) are forming that is associated with Fast Splits, a local racing team. I know (or know of) many people on this team, and so I'm eager to get to know them and have the opportunity to train with some of them. Sounds fun.

Jesse also agreed to show me (or have Caitlin show me) how to draft on the swim. I have tried this at several races, but it never seems to work for me. I end up getting too close and wanting to pass the person I am attempting to draft off of, or I can't keep up with the person. How do you find the exact drafting match in the chaos of the open water race? It's a mystery to me.

Although I have made numerous lists of the different races I want to do in 2008, I plan to allow Caitlin to dictate what is good/not good for my training given my focus on Timberman as my "A" race.
The only races I've signed up for so far are races which I know will sell out:
1. Timberman 70.3--my "A" race
2. Mooseman Olympic in early June
3. Cohasset Sprint in late June. The Cohasset sprint is small and beautiful, and may already by sold out. It will be Andy's first triathlon--and I can't wait! He's going to love it and he's going to be so good at it.

My running club (GNRC) (Yes--that's me on the homepage! :) is hosting a race on 12/1, a 5K, so I will be running that. It's gonna hurt. I'm not in shape for a 5K (or any race really) but- oh well. If I race decently I will win our Grand Prix, which is very fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Training to Race, Not Racing to Train

This piece of advice keeps coming up on my radar screen. It is a piece of advice with which I have a hard time. I think this is because in order to put it into practice, I must change my mindset from one of a recreational runner/racer, to one who chases "A" races, PRs, age group wins, and slots to Clearwater and Kona.

These two mentalities are extremely different. I actually think the recreational runner/racer mindset is a more healthy and life-embracing mindset. When one adopts the chaser mentality (for lack of a better term) he/she becomes increasingly self-focused. Working out is about a goal, and folding in the social, spontaneous, carefree disposition of the recreational athlete hinders movement toward that goal.

For the last few years I have been racing with reckless abandon. My GNRC group will be go to a race and I can't help but join in. The more people racing the harder it is to say no. I know so many people at races now it's become a huge party--a party which allows me to stay fit, socialize, and get away from the humdrum of doing laundry, making lunches, and correcting papers. Many of my runner friends also love running tough races--the tougher the better. We run a tough race, bond about the conditions, the hills, the distance--we share horror stories over a post-race beer or during training runs for weeks post-race. (Chicago stories, for example, have only recently abated.) These friends race all year, no break, no periodization. It's not about that. It's a life-long hobby--not necessarily a deliberate, calculated movement to achieving self-perfection. PR-ing is fun, but not the point and usually not realistic given aging, non-stop racing, and an insatiable appetite to run, run, run.

So can I change? Do I want to? Sometimes I feel so clear about this. I think, yes, I want to change. I never have tried to maximize my potential. I want to know what I'm capable of, I want to know if there is a ceiling for my achievement. I want to do this before I begin sliding down the age hill. I am 37. I don't have much time. Other times I take a step back and look at the time I spend thinking and planning my workouts, the money I spend on equipment and coaching (not yet--but it's in the "plan"), the time my focus takes away from my family and work, or the serious nature of the pursuit, and I think, What are you doing? Why can't you just play? Why does it have to be about maximizing potential? Who cares if that 5k ruins your "training." It's fun--it's exciting! It's in your hometown! How can you say no?

Can I chase the dream for a few years, and then let go? If I do achieve the dream--Clearwater, Kona--will I eventually be able to let them go and return to the life of the recreational runner?

Today I met my GNRC group for a trail run. It was slow and delightful. I loved breathing in the chill, fall air. It will be hard to give up the spontaneous run in favor of the scheduled quality workout. It will be hard to give up the freedom of doing whatever, whenever, and not regretting it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I have been having trouble balancing work, family and training. Last night I had a dream that I was forced to take over another teacher's class, and leave my own class of sixth graders behind. I'm trying to understand what the dreams means. 

I have been fantasizing about resigning from my job lately. I love teaching, but I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I miss my own kids, and I am not able to do any training right now, let alone training for real. I think I may have had the dream because my subconscious was asking me not abandon the children I have taken under my wing this year at school, either mentally, or actually, or both. I have been teaching these children for two months now, and I think I have grown to care and feel responsible for them, even though I yearn to be free of that care and responsibility because I'm struggling under the weight of it. I can't give up teaching this year, and I won't. But I do need to figure out how to keep my sanity until June. 

The first thing I have done is to give up all "extras". I haven't been volunteering at my children's schools, I just gave up the position of president of my running club, I have given over website duty of my club's site to another GNRC member, and I've stopped caring that my garden needs serious help. I have a cleaning person coming every other week and I've increased the amount of childcare I get by an hour each day so I can squeeze in more work or a run. The whole thing is painful and I don't like it. I love gardening, and volunteering, and being really involved with my running club. But you can't have a career, care for your family, keep a house and train consistently if you don't streamline. This is going to have to be the year I learn to say no.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Revised Schedule

Some people have asked me whether I'm running Boston. 

 I'm pretty sure I am not. The reason is this: If I do run Boston, I will taper for it and then recover from it, which pretty much knocks out the month of April for training. April should be Base time--not time to be tapering and recovering. I'd like to do some longer winter races--like Derry and Stu's--but only as fun training runs with a bunch of other people on tough courses--and not longer than 30K. I loved running Boston last year, but I think it just doesn't fit with my goals for my summer season in 2008. I am committed to choosing my races this winter, spring and summer carefully, to make sure that they each have a purpose that leads me to the larger goal, and also that they are fun and are truly what I want to do. 

I have done many races in the last few years just because friends were running them, or because I just love racing, or just because... I know now that if I really want to excel I must focus and be less random about my training and my racing. 

So here is my new revised schedule (the first of many, I'm sure!) Jan: Frostbite 15k: Why? It's fun, it's early in the season, and it will serve as a test as to where my fitness is. 

Derry 16 Miler: Why? It will force me to get some endurance under my belt, it will serve as a good, hard training run. 

 Feb: Cape Classic 10 Miler: Why? It's in my hometown. I love this race. It will serve as a tempo run at slightly faster than or at 1/2 Iron run pace. 

Andover 10 Miler: Why? I've never done this and I'd like to. 10 Miles is my favorite distance for a race. Again, it will be a tempo run. 

March: Stu's 30K: Why? It's a tough, long training run. It's fun. It falls at a time when I should be building a strong distance base. 

April: Wrentham Duathlon. Why? Good early season test on the bike. 

May: Westwood 2 Mile: Why? A good speed workout. In my hometown. Goes by my house. 

Sudbury Sprint: Why? First tri of the season! Bring it on! 

Gilio 5K: Why? Get my legs moving for the next weekend at Mooseman! 

 June: Mooseman International. Why? Ange and I are both doing it. Should be a great race. Early season test of endurance. 

Old Orchard Beach 5K. This is a maybe. I'd like to use it as a pick me up for Cohasset the following weekend. 

Cohasset Tri at Sandy Beach: Why? Andy's first traithlon! I can't wait for this one. I loved it last year. It's a beautiful venue for a triathlon. 

July:Goose Rocks 5k in Kennebunk Why: on July 4th. I'll be up in Maine. It will be a speed workout. 

Urban Epic Tri. I heard it might be in July this year! I hope! 

Peaks to Portland 2.2 mile ocean swim. Why? Alina and I planned last summer to do this. It's a great endurance swim. I can work on surviving the open water and on sighting! OP 5K I love it. A speed workout. 

August: Maine State Tri. This is a maybe. If I'm tired I won't do it. I should begin the taper for Timberman. 


September: CELT Challenge. In my hometown. A last hurrah. 

October: Maine Marathon in Portland. My hometown! I've always wanted to run Portland, and next year I will do it! There seem to be too many 5Ks. If I treat them all as speed workouts (or hard tempos) will that work? Also, I don't have any half marathons. Since the 1/2 Iron includes a 1/2 marathon, should I?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Taking Time Off

Is hard to do for we compulsive types. I haven't been doing any really training save a few runs here and there, so I have been spending time instead obsessing about the next year and how I am going to train, execute, and become the next Chrissie Wellington. Don't laugh. You never know. 

I am going to state my goal FOR THE RECORD. 

1. Go five hours for the 1/2 at Timberman. Okay, Okay! I said it! I know it's very ambitious, but I'm dreaming big. It's easy to dream big when you are sitting on your arse contemplating the next season. My two other goals are to: 1. qualify for Clearwater, (which I did this year at Timberman, although I didn't know this at the time. Rolldown continued past five slots for a variety of reasons. But I digress...) 

2. Sign up for Lake Placid 2009. No goal for that yet. I just want to sign up. That in itself is a huge challenge. Hopefully I will get a spot if I set up camp the night before registration in L.P. 

Here is my race calendar so far for 2008: 

January: Frostbite 15K Derry 16 Miler 

Feb. Cape Classic 10 Miler Hyannis Half Marathon 

March: Stu's 30K 

April: Don't know yet. 

May: Sudbury Sprint Tri 

June: Mooseman International Shipbuilder's International 

 July: Peaks to Portland (swim, ocean, 2.2 miles) OP5K 

August: Maine State Triathlon (sprint) Brew Run (5.2 miles) Timberman Half Iron 

September: Pumpkinman Half Iron (MAYBE) CELT Challenge (Sprint) 

October: Portland Marathon 

November: World Championships/Half Iron. 

Nothing is written in stone yet except Timberman. I love planning. All for now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chicago Marathon Race Report

If it wasn't bad enough that I didn't feel adequately prepared for Chicago, you can imagine my dismay when I realized that the weather reports were accurate, and that I would in fact be attempting to run the marathon in sweltering, humid, city heat. I'm happy to say, though, after all of my fretting I ran remarkably well. I don't know if it was luck, divine intervention, or a fluke, or what. But unlike so many others, I didn't succumb to the heat, and I was able to post a 3:35:35 finish. This put me at 36th in my age group, 235 for gender and 1369 overall. Those numbers seem unreal to me--and speak to the number of people who didn't start, dropped out, or plain weren't able to survive the heat they way I was magically able to. I'd like to say that the numbers means I really was the 36th best female runner in my age group to run the Chicago Marathon this year. But we know that isn't true. I was the 36th best at surviving the heat, however. Compare those numbers to Boston, at which I ran a 3:31:43--five minutes faster than I did on Sunday--and at which I placed 802 in my division, 956 for gender and 5925 overall. I know that Boston draws a more competitive field than Chicago, but still, the difference is staggering.

Here's the gist of the race:
The heat was so bad they canceled the race at 4 hours and forced everyone still on the course to walk to the end. People at the 1/2 way point at 4 hours were bused back to the start. There was no water at the stops early in the course after the first waves of runners came through. I was lucky enough to never have any problem getting water or Gatorade. I guess this was part of the privilege of starting in Corral B and running relatively well. By the end of the day, 300 people went to the hospital--one died, 5, as of Sunday night, were still in critical condition.

The heat was like the air out of an oven -- emanating off bodies, the pavement, the sides of buildings. It was still and hot--75 at the start, 91 (according to a Bank sign) when I hit mile 16 at about 10:15 a.m. People were collapsing, throwing up. It was scary. There were people who were supposed to lead pacing groups who couldn't keep the pace they were supposed to run. I finished with one of the men who was supposed to pace a 3:20 group. Toward the end, with roughly five miles to go, I looked around me and estimated that about 80% of the people around me were walking--and these were people with bibs from corral A, Elites, people with pace markers stating they had clearly hoped to run 3:00 or 3:10. It was honestly like a death march. Runners were silent--.

Ange ran ahead of me most of the way and I found her with about 5K to go. She looked at me and said, "Mary Bancroft, help me through this!" Her last name is Bancroft. She was definitely out of it! I knew she was really hurting, but she's so tough. She stayed with me and kept running, despite the fact that everyone around us was walking. I wanted to try to talk her through it, but I was focusing so hard myself on continuing, that I just couldn't talk. With a mile to go she slowed at a water stop and waved me on. I picked up my pace a little, so eager to finish the race and be done with it. I finished about a minute ahead of her, and then waited for her to cross the line. When she finished she was weaving a little and so hot to the touch--I was sure she had the beginnings of heat stroke. We walked to the medical tent, and though she entered, they wouldn't even treat her! Apparently she wasn't bad enough and the tent was full. They gave her ice and had her sit down. They wouldn't allow me in to be with her, so I went to get her husband to tell her where she was.

Andy had been hoping to run between 2:50 and 2:55, but like so many others, he melted a little more than half way through the race. By mile 15 he succumbed to walking. He walked/ran to the end, finished the race, and crawled under a Gatorade table, which in his delirium was the only place he could find that was shaded. They basically hauled him to the medical tent where they proceeded to drain his toes of blood blisters and water. Apparently he, too, was not bad enough to receive care for heat exhaustion. Talk about a crisis situation!

I broke a sweat within the first quarter mile of starting. We entered a tunnel almost immediately, which was so hot and still and smelly, I wasn't sure I could stand it and it was only 5 minutes into the race! Anyway, I started out, as planned, at 8 min pace and held on until about mile 8 or so. At that point I didn't really feel the heat so much as I just generally felt tired. I knew this meant it wasn't going to be a great race for me. Usually in a marathon you don't feel tired until at least the halfway point. Mile 8 should still feel like you're floating on air! I slowed down to 8:15's and walked the water stops--taking a Gatorade and 2 waters at each one and then dumping one water over my head. People like me are the reason they ran out of water at the stops. I feel bad about that. When I passed Melissa C at about mile 15 or so I knew something was really wrong. Melissa looked like she was just exhausted--and that's not the Melissa I know--the one who definitely is capable of a 3:15. I began to notice that many people around me were dropping out, walking, cramping... By mile 20 I still felt surprisingly okay. I began to feel like I would finish, and I probably wouldn't totally fall apart. I did slow down, but I didn't have to walk, and I didn't think I showed real signs of major dehydration. I, did, however, began to feel like I was watching a movie in which I wasn't really a part. Sure, I was running, but I felt okay, and everyone around me was completely falling apart. It was a little horrifying. At mile 23 I found Ange, and the rest is history.

The whole thing was bizarre--almost surreal in retrospect. I still don't know why I was okay when others weren't. All I can think of is that I took it out conservatively and I am smaller than most everyone so I don't require as much fluid to stay alive.

I wish that my successful race despite the heat means I can go a lot faster--but I'm actually not sure that's that what it means. I DO think I can go under 3:30, but I think I need a lot more training before I can go much faster than that.

And that's the story!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lobsterman Race Report

It was a cold and windy and RAINY day. 

But I had a great race. 

Here are the details: We arrived at the site in Freeport at 9 am, nice and early for an 11 am start. The rain, which had been pounding throughout the night, was now just a drizzle. I was energized and ready to go. Alina and Andy were in a relay together, so we all rode in together and commiserated about the rain. 

Once we arrived I got my numbers, racked my bike and I found Ange and Petra. We chit-chatted about what to wear on the bike--arm warmers or no? Socks of no? How much fluid to take on the bike on such a cool day? We donned our wetsuits and I choked down a Gu, and then headed down to the water, which in the gray drizzle was looking awfully chilly. On the upside it was very fun to have so many people I knew there: my two greatest friends from high school, Ange and Alina, my friend Petra, Ange's husband Mark, Ange's brother Jeff, and an old high school friend, Brent. 

Alina was the first to leave us, as she was in the first wave as a part of a relay. She got right out front, and watching her got me nervous and excited. Next were the men, handsome in their wetsuits and green caps. 

 Finally it was our turn. We headed into the water--and boy--it was COLD. I have been spoiled--swimming in the ocean only on days that were warm and toasty. It was spitting rain and cold out, and my body just didn't want to be in the icy ocean. We had to tread water for several minutes before they let us go with their Go Go Go! 

I chose to start far to the right, thinking I might escape some of the madness and get myself out front. I did escape the madness, but the current pulled me further to the right, and before I knew it I was swimming alone in a cove, far away from the buoys and all of my wave! I headed back on course, frustrated that I had lost precious time swimming out of the way. It seemed to take forever to get to the first buoy, but once I rounded it things went a little more smoothly. I tried never to get too far away from the thrashing of everyone, not wanting to get off course again and waste more time. I began to run into the men who had started before us. I did see several of my wave around me too, though, so I knew I wasn't the first or second in my wave. The current pulled me all over the place, and I constantly had to re-orient myself. Finally the shore came into site, and I began to pick up my pace in anticipation of the end. 

When I began to stumble out of the ocean, I realized that while I had been swimming the rain had picked up and it was now pouring. I felt very dizzy as I pulled off my cap and goggles, and I nearly fell coming out of the water. I stopped, collected myself, and then began a slow job to transition. When I got there I tried to peel off the wetsuit, but my hands were shaky and numb, and I couldn't get my legs out of the wetsuit and over my ankles. If anyone has any tips as to how to to do this I'd be grateful to know them! I finally flopped to the ground and yanked it off each foot. Final swim time: 23:45. 

I felt unsteady getting on the bike. It was pelting rain and so cold, and my hands could barely shift the gears. People were passing me left and right. I finally settled into a rhythm and talked myself out of complaining inwardly about the rain and cold. I picked up the pace and passed a few people. Mostly, however, I was passed. I think this is because the 40-44 year old men started in the wave behind us. I hold my own in the water, but the fit men caught me quickly once on the bike. I did notice that only the men passed me. I was only passed by one woman, Petra, the whole ride. I hoped this meant that I was going to place in my age group, but I couldn't be sure. I knew Ange was ahead of me, and that Petra had passed me at about mile 20 or so. The only other women ahead of me were those women who had gotten out of the water ahead of me, and I knew there couldn't be too, too many of those. Also, our wave had the 35-39 women and the 40-44 women, so even if some women had gotten out of the water ahead of me, they might not have been in my age group. It turned out that my reasoning had been right. 

The ride became slightly more pleasant when the rain slowed to a drizzle again. Towards the end I began to see the fastest runners on the course. Andy was perhaps the fifth or sixth person I saw running. This meant that his relay was doing very well, and might win. He yelled to me that Petra was only 30 seconds ahead of me, which I knew because she had just passed me a while back. When I dismounted my bike I felt relief. The rain hadn't stopped me, and the run was sure to warm me up. Final time: 1:20:04. 

My hands were completely numb in transition. I could barely slip on my shoes, and I had a lot of trouble clipping my number belt. Also, my feet were totally and completely numb. I began to run, but it felt like I was running on stumps rather than feet. It was a very bizarre feeling. The first mile was uphill, which was actually good because I finally broke a sweat and started to thaw a bit. I caught Petra in the first mile, but she was having none of that! After a quick hello and a kindly, "You look great, Mary!" she took off at lightning speed, never to be caught again. Hey, at least maybe I inspired her to pick up the pace. :) 

Anyway, at about the turn around (it was a lollipop loop) I finally began to get some sensation back in my feet. It was gradual, with feeling returning to my heels first. By the time I was at mile 5 I no longer felt like I had stumps for feet. The last mile was downhill, of course, and I charged down, full of vim because I had my feet back and knew it was almost over. I felt great. Until I realized they had pulled one of those--"There's the finish line!--oops. Not yet." on me. You see the finish banner, but you pass it and then run another 1/2 mile loop and enter from the other direction. Grrr. I schelpped on, angry that I had clearly started my kick a tad too early. And then, it was done. Final run time: 44:45. 

I had thought I would do poorly, but other than the bike, I really did okay--especially on the run. Final time: 1:32 or so, I think. I was third in my age group. Ange was first, Petra second. Pretty fun to have the three friends take the first three spots in 35-39. 

Next race--the run leg of the CELT challenge in Cape Elizabeth. 

Oh--I also wanted to mention that Alina, Lorenzo (her brother) and Andy were second overall for the relay, and the first mixed gender team. Alina was the second woman to finish the swim overall, and Andy was one of the top runners, finishing in 36. yeah! 

After CELT I have the big monster--the Chicago Marathon. Yikes!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tri-ing but Falling Apart

This week I had my first week back to school. I am a wreck. 

Tuesday we began school, and I was okay. I worked hard at school, had a nice hard run after work by bringing the kids to the gym, went home, prepared for the next day and went to bed. 

Wednesday was harder. I gave myself some room and didn't do a morning run. Bad idea. Running after work is impossible. I have no time and no energy--no wiggle room at all. After work I made lunches, packed bags, tried to clean, tried to spend quality time with all three kids at the same time (impossible), planned my lessons, corrected papers, did laundry, ate something and tried to be a kind wife by conversing pleasantly with my husband. Then I fell into bed. 

On Thursday I went swimming before work, nearly fell asleep while teaching, had an after school meeting that ran over the time I had allotted it, squeezed in a 20 minute run, arrived sweating and gross to retrieve the kids, and then tried to prepare for the next day, spend time with the kids, and correct papers all at the same time. Andy got home and asked if I'd picked up health papers from the pediatrician I said I would pick up. I hadn't. He got mad. I cried. 

Also, it was Jordan's first day of school on Thursday and because it was my third day of school, I couldn't see her off. In fact, I can never see her off. That's the rub with working. Anyway, she went to school with her dress on backwards and no socks. She lost the pictures of her we had placed in her folder (as was asked in the teacher's opening letter to Jordan), but she (Jordan) lost them somehow between the hallway and the classroom and "was the only kids who couldn't share." When she told me this I locked myself in my room and cried. I simply and completely lost it. And that was only Thursday. Bad Mommy feelings choked me as I wept. Is it selfish to work? Would things have been different if I had been home in the morning instead of drinking coffee in my classroom frantically preparing for the day at 7 am? 

Today I skipped the morning run, scrambled to be a good mom and pick up both Noah and Jordan after school like the other moms, then made brownies with the kids and went outside with them so they could ride bikes, came in, cleaned the bathroom that Noah had peed all over, changed the sheets that Noah peed in last night, unpacked the dirty lunch boxes, made dinner, gave baths.... on and on and on. No running. I've run 9 miles this week. Oh. My. God. I'm in trouble. I may not survive this year. Will I adjust? Is it like training and I am just out of shape? Or is doing it all a TOTAL AND COMPLETE MYTH. The latter, I think.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Teacher Hat

Today I put on my teacher hat for the first time in nearly four years. I have been the librarian for the last three years, though prior to that I had taught for 11 years already. So entering the classroom this morning was not foreign, but it has been awhile. I had fun. I like my students. It was a good day. 

HOWEVER, I was so tired at the end of the day that I didn't run, and I had a 10 miler planned! Not doing it pretty much decimates my running mileage for the week, which is NOT good given that Chicago is screamingly close, and this week should be a peak mileage week. 

When I picked up my kids after work, though, they were so grumpy and tired and in need of Mommy, bath, dinner and stories, that I just couldn't drag them to the gym. It would have been heartless. I'm not going to be able to schedule major workouts after school. It will be interesting to see what happens to my fitness this year. Likely I will turn into a marshmallow. What can you do? I love triathlon, but I have kids, a husband, a career which I love and a home to keep. This may not be my best running/triathlon year. In a few years I hope to go part time and train for a full Ironman. All in good time. Of course, we never know what is coming down the pike--what is in store for us. Hopefully I will have my health and so will my family--so I can pursue that Ironman dream. 

Tomorrow I'll get up for a swim before school and I'll squeeze in a 45 min run right after school, I HOPE.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Super Me!

Yesterday I ran for three hours and 1 minute, each 1/2 hour faster than the last. 

It wasn't that bad! I was stunned. I thought it would hurt a lot more and would be slower. 

Here are my 1/2 hour paces: 9:02, 8:59, 8:41, 8:26, 8:10, 8:04. 

My first hour was super slow, but I believe it allowed me to do the last 1/2 hour in marathon pace, and the last full hour close to marathon pace. I haven't run that long since Boston, which is why I was surprised that it was so doable. 

I guess the 1/2 Ironman training did leave me with a good fitness base from which to boost up my running mileage. I'm still not thinking that Chicago will be a fast marathon for me. That's okay. I don't think it will be a disaster, and you never know, I could surprise myself. I am going to take it out in 8 minute pace, and see how I feel at the 10K mark. 

I followed up my run with a short ride today of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I don't know if I am just out of biking shape now or if it was yesterday's run, but I was really slow! I only averaged 16 mph and I was trying! 

A month ago I could do 17 mph with less effort than I put out today. That's what I get for ramping up my running mileage and leaving my swimming and biking in the dust. I am doing another long run next weekend (I'm going to try for 20-21 again) and the weekend after that I am scheduled do to the Lobsterman Triathlon in Maine. 

I'm not in good swimming and biking shape, but I'm still really looking forward to it. I can't wait to get in the water! I miss open water ocean swimming. I love Maine. I'm definitely planning on swimming Peaks to Portland next year. 

All three kids are in this tiny room as I attempt to write. Ah! They are wrestling, and messing with Andy's guitar and otherwise driving me bonkers! They are now fighting over a lampshade. A lampshade?? Where did that come from? I'd best attend to the lovable but high maintenance rugrats.  

School starts tomorrow! Good-bye free time and time with the kiddos! 

Here are a few pictures of life at home: Lara and Jordan playing dress up and Lara frosting a cake with purple icing. 




Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Leaving Maine

I just got home after spending the last week in Maine with my parents and my best friend and her kids. It's always a crazy, exciting, exhausting time when Alina's kids are there with mine. I shed a few tears when leaving. (My tears were nothing compared to my oldest daughter's, though. She was so sad to leave!) 

I love the beach, I love being away from the humdrums of home, I love hanging out with my my good friend from high school! I also love working out in Maine. I was able to get in a few ocean swims, a nice ride out to Fortune's Rocks in Biddeford, and a few good runs. 

This morning's run was the best and my longest since Timberman. It was very cool , almost autumn-like and very quiet because it's so late in the season. I was able to do the middle 4 miles at marathon pace (8:00) so that's good. The rest of the run was pretty slow. I did two ocean water swims--both around 40 minutes. 

On Saturday I went with Alina, which was great, except that it was hard to keep close to her. The ocean was very rough with huge swells and I had a pretty hard time keeping a straight line.  

My bike ride to Fortune's Rocks took me through downtown Biddeford and then out to the coast. I had wanted to see Fortune's Rocks because many of Anita Shreve's books take place there, including the one I just finished, her latest, Body Surfing. It was very beautiful there, but I didn't have a long time to explore because I felt I should get back to the kids. (Andy was there, which is how I escaped in the first place!) 

The last few days I have tried to pick up my mileage for Chicago. I might try to do a 20 miler this weekend. Actually, if I finished 18 I'd be pleased. While I try to pick up my mileage, I've started back to work. The last few days were teacher days and the kids come after Labor Day. I feel ready, but very sad to leave this summer of total triathlon/fitness focus. Teaching full time and being with the kids when I'm not working doesn't leave me a lot of time to train. Weep! It also doesn't leave me a lot of time to blog. Sadness. 

 Here's a few pictures of the kids living it up on the beach. I love summer in Maine! Here is Noah running int the waves, Jordan and Maria (Alina's daughter) about to run the kids OP 1k race and Lara, peering out from under her sun hat at the beach.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Timberman 70.3 Race Report

I did it! I did it! 

What a fantastic day! 

Here is the full report: I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep. I was scheduled to get up at 4:15 a.m. anyway, so it wasn't so terrible. I was shocked that I was able to sleep the night before. It could have been that I was exhausted from all of my anxiety, and my body just wanted to let go. 

When I got up a tried to eat, but my stomach was in knots. I managed to get down a Clif Bar and some water. It took a 1/2 hour to get to the site, and another 1/2 hour waiting to park. That was okay with me because I was able to sip my Gatorade and try to relax. Andy dropped me off (he and Mark, Ange's husband were scheduled to meet) and I headed to transition. We had to rack our bikes the night before, and Little Red was right where I had left her, waiting and eager to take on the day. (Okay, okay, I know I'm a loser personifying my bike!) 

I found Ange and Petra, who miraculously were really close to me in transition (the same rack! It must have been done by age group) and then proceeded to the port-a-potties were I spent the next hour in line. SO fun. I did have lots of reassuring chats with other athletes in the line, who helped to convince me that I would survive and that I might even enjoy myself. It was awesome to have Ange there. We were both freaking out, and that made it easier for me--that is, that my good friend who I knew would be fine in the race was also freaking out.  

At about 6:30 we put on our wetsuits and began walking to the race start. We were the 8th wave, and it was a little torture-filled to have to watch all of those waves go off ahead of us. The buoys looked so far away; I almost cried when I saw them! When it was finally our turn to enter the water I went way out to the start buoys, over my head, and tread water until the start. This allowed me to be in front of most of the pack, and the strategy worked. I probably saved myself a minute and I missed the chaos of the start. Most people just don't want to start over their heads I don't think. 

At the GoGo GO! I started my watch and tried to relax. The water was great and I felt strong and fast. I reached the first buoy and started passing people in the next waves. I did see a few of my wave around, but I knew I was doing well, because there weren't many. When we rounded the first buoy it became very hard to sight because the sun was directly in our eyes. I had to just sort of swim in the direction of the water movement. When I started to get close to the end of the swim I actually wanted to slow down I was enjoying myself so much. Final swim time: 33:45. Not bad for taking my time and enjoying myself!  

I ran out of the water, smiled for Andy and Mark, and ran to the mat where I flopped down to have my wetsuit stripped. That was nice. I hate struggling with that thing. Then I jogged to T1, put on my socks and shoes, helmet etc and headed out. TI time needs to be improved--3:10 or so. The bike was fabulous. The first part was slow and really hilly, but I like to climb and I'm pretty good at it because I'm small and I don't have a lot to carry. 

The one bummer was that at six minutes into the ride the sponge flew out of my ProDesign bottle between my handlebars. Of course! Ange was so worried about securing hers, but I just didn't deal with it and naturally it flew out immediately. She secured hers with a thin sliver of Duct Tape. That worked. I knew I had to start taking in carbs. I took in quite a bit of Gatorade and water, and began taking Clif Shots. I am so sick of GU that I just couldn't deal with taking one. I ate all nine Clif shots and a piece of a Clif Bar before I finally gave in and had one--not until about mile 45 or so! I was averaging about 17.5 mph at the first hour, so I knew I should pick up the pace a little on the second 2/3 of the ride. This was relatively easy because the middle part of the ride is really quite flat/barely rolling. It's an out and back course, so I got to go down the hills I went up at the end, which was great. I loved that part and even let out a yelp of excitement when bombing down the biggest hill at like 35 mph. Most people pass me on the downhill. I don't have the body weight to pull me down. What helps me on the way up is my weakness on the way down. Overall I thought Little Red and I did awesome, though. We passed a ton of men and women on super snazzy bikes. Little Red is just an awesome machine, even if she is a lowly Canondale road bike! I love her. Final time: 3:02. Average speed of 18.4 mph. 

 I saw Ange in T2 and I was psyched! She looked happy and strong and it was just so great to see her reassuring smile. Andy and Mark also cheered me on as I came through the chute, and that was great. I slipped on my shoes and headed out. T2 was a bit too leisurely, just like T1, but I figure my slow transitions give me more room to improve. I have to check what T2 was. Maybe 3?  

The run. First stop: Port-a-Potty. I banged on the door and it was Ange! I screamed at her to hurry up, not b/c of time but b/c I thought I was going to pee all over myself. I had needed to go since a 1/2 hour into the bike. I refuse to pee on the bike (save that one for Ironman) and I also refuse to dismount barring something horrible, so I was in serious need of relief. I knew I had lost at least 2 minutes after I left the port-a-pottie, but I was too happy to be on the run to really care. Plus, at this point I hadn't really figured out that it was possible to to go under 5:30 so I was just enjoying myself.  

My first mile (including the bathroom stop) was 8:49. Pretty slow start. But I felt great--so much better than I thought I would feel. I picked up the pace and started clipping off 7:45's. The pace was comfortable. I could've pushed harder, but I feared falling apart during the second loop so I played it safe. At the turn aroun point of the run (1/2 way point of the first loop) they had an imitation Bourbon Street. It was fun. The music was just what I needed. I took water or Gatorade at each stop, but I didn't think my stomach would take food, so I held back on gel etc. 

I saw Ange coming as I finished the first loop coming back to start on her second. She already had at least 2-3 minutes on me at that point. I knew she would crank on the run, so I took it as a positive that she wasn't further ahead than that! I hadn't seen Petra, and I wondered how much further ahead she was than Ange. (I knew she was ahead of us because she had passed me early on in the bike and her bike was gone when we got to transition.) 

On the second loop I started to tire, but I managed to keep every mile under 8 min. pace. By 10 miles I could feel blisters forming on the bottoms of feet. This is weird since I had broken in my feet to the shoes and they weren't flats or anything. The last three miles I really felt the hills, which I hadn't even noticed during the first loop. I came up one hill and thought--I swear this wasn't here before! Still I soldiered on. 

The last mile definitely took awhile (not really, but it seemed that way!). When I saw the final finish banner I was so relieved and excited. It had been a great race! I did awesome! I didn't ever fall apart! Final run time: 1:43 Aoubt 7:55 pace. Final overall time: 5:25: 04. It was a great day!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blog Reader

I've been reading triathlon blogs. They are inspired. They are motivating. They are helping me keep my cool. All of these people, all over the world are completing in these incredible ultra events--people just like me. I can do this. 

But oh man am I scared! The swim should be a piece of cake--but that's the problem. It 's the part of the race in which I should excel, and I'm so apprehensive about all of those people clamoring for a position. I'm also worried that I will be too spent on the run to really work it. I cannot wait to be on the other side of this issuing a report! I had great experiences at my first three triathlons. They were hard--but doable. 

I have to keep repeating to myself. I can do this. This is exciting. I can do this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Getting Really Nervous

I've been on vacation with the kids for the last few weeks which is why I haven't posted. I am tapering for the Timberman 1/2 Iron which is this Sunday. Ahh! 

I have been trying to rest, but I have had a few restless nights thinking about race day. Little Red (my bike) is getting a tune up today after I found a tiny tear in her bike tire. Yikes. That would NOT have been good. I am anxious about the whole race, but most about the swim. This has surprised me, since I am a former high school swimmer, and though I'm not screamingly fast, I am also no slouch. I'm worried about the chaos of the start, though. How do you break free of that many swimmers? There are hundreds of us! I don't want to head off to the side because swimming is my strength, and I need to find a direct route so I can use the swim to get ahead. 

I am quite pokey on the bike, so any advantage will help. The bike makes me nervous only because I'm not very skilled at eating and drinking on the bike, but I know I must do this. I am especially worried that I won't be able to pick up a bottle from a volunteer while riding. My plan for the bike is to take it out slow--between 17.5 and 18 mph, and then see where I'm at. I've been averaging 17 mph in my regular rides, but I'm not sure what the translates into during a race, especially a race in which I must save myself for the long run. 

 I am anxious for the run only b/c I fear not having the energy to do what I know my body can do on a regular day. My 1/2 P.R, at a hilly course with wind, was a high 1:36, but I'm thinking if I do really well at Timberman my split will only be around 1:45, and I could be even slower than that. Who knows! Today I am going for a 35 min power run (well--a z1/z2 run) and tomorrow a 75 min. power bike and a 45 min. swim. And that's it, baby! I wish I knew what others do for taper. I've been thinking about coaching. I want to learn enough about this stuff so that I can be my own coach. I'd like to know what percentage of athletes training for this stuff have coaches. If you happen to be reading this will you comment and tell me your thoughts on coaching? On vacation I was able to swim in the most beautiful, clear lake on the Cape. Here is a picture, with my superstar daughter in the foreground.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Who am I?

On Saturday I took the day off. I had a major, 5 hour workout planned for Sunday, and I raced on Friday night, so it made sense. I was irritable all day. Was it the lack of endorphins? Was it the fact that I wasn't able to "get away" from home life and have some time to myself? Was it that I got my period the next day? (very likely, actually!) 

You would think I would've been happy... I spend some much time workout out and my body really needed the break. I think my irritability has to do with the self definition that working out and being an athlete provide me. A hard workout justifies everything else. It's okay that I have not done anything else of real substance during the day if I have worked out. And if I don't work out, I feel my day has been lazy, useless, even if I have done a great deal of things "with substance." 

This summer I have moved my working out to a new level in preparing for this 1/2 Ironman, and I think my perspective (or lack of it) has become even more skewed as a result. Nothing makes me feel adequate except working out. This can't be good. Does anyone else experience this?  

Yesterday I got up at 5:30 a.m. for my long ride. I went 4 hours and then did a 41 min. transition run. I am in Maine for the week, and though I brought my Garmin, I forgot to also bring its charger. As a result, it was out of batteries and I was unable to use it for the ride. I have no idea how far I went (though I could measure it on Gmap pedometer) and also I don't have a sense of pace. This was somewhat freeing. I didn't work it the way I usually do, and the ride was pleasant and the transition run easier as a result. Also, the terrain up here, though rolling, really isn't as strenuous as it is at home. You can go for long stretches on the same road. Also, because I was riding early on a Sunday morning, there was literally no traffic until almost the end of my ride. In the Boston area I am constantly negotiating traffic, people, twists and turns. It's more stressful.  

I raced on Friday night--the Ocean Park 5K. The course is wicked flat, and wicked fast, and I love it! In the past, the course has also been a tad short, which is nice, but this year they had the course certified, and hence it really was a full 3.1. 

Still, I had a good race, beating a rival of mine (though I don't think she had a very good race) and PRing in 20:48, 6:40 pace. I have actually raced faster than that for the 5k, but never at on a certified course. So many courses that are not certified are a little short. Anyway, although I placed third for women in this race last year, I was a distant 10th this year, and I didn't even place in my age group! 

It was a beautiful, if humid, night, and everyone came out to race. Last year the race was delayed b/c of a thunderstorm, and I think a lot of my competition went home, allowing me to place third. I never place as well in Maine as I don in Massachusetts. The competition is way more intense up here! This goes for both road racing and triathlons. My husband also ran. He placed 5th overall and first in his age group. It was a comeback of sorts. He was an awesome steeple chase runner in college, but he hasn't competed for many years. The first four were all boys under the age of 23. I was psyched for him, although he was very nonchalant about the whole thing. 

My kids were with my Mom and my friend Alina watching and cheering. I love that! When I finished my oldest, Jordan, said, Hey mom! You beat that lady! Later she told me she loved my running outfit. I word a pink bra and a pink running skirt. She said I looked like a running ballet dancer! So cute.  

There was a kid's race before the 5K, and I ran with Jordan. Andy ran with Noah (age 3). It was a 1k-- a little long for such wee ones. Noah had a great time, but Jordan took it out fast (as kids do) and got a side stitch, which scared her, I think. We had to run walk the rest of the way, but I was really proud that she stuck with it. At the end she really wanted to run the final 100 yards or so, and though she was whimpering, she was also smiling.  

Today I am supposed to go for a swim in the ocean. It's cold and foggy, and I don't feel like it, but to not work out at all would be far worse! I am starting taper this week, which I'm glad about. I'm eager to do this 1/2 Iron and then re-asses what I want and who I am without training! My husband is back in MA, so Alina and I have to work out the coverage of the kids, since both of us want to swim. Next year we are talking about doing Peaks to Portland, a 2.4 mile ocean swim. Exciting and scary!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Overtraining. That's me.

I am officially over-trained. 

That's not to say that I put in way more time than a regular person training for a 1/2 Iron in August and a marathon in October. In fact, I'm training far less than what the plan that was made for me calls for. My biggest week was 14.5 hours, and this week I think I'll probably log about 13.5. Not so crazy for the peak weeks, right? 

 Tell that to my body. Food goes right through her. Her lymph nodes are swollen. She can't sleep at 3 a.m. but craves a nap around 1 p.m. She doesn't want to eat following workouts. She feels nausea when running and biking. Her body feels achy. Yep. I had hoped it was just a bug, but when I let up , the symptoms disappear, and when I resume, they all come back. Rats! 

I see my superstar friends Ange and Petra train, and they are doing so much more, and they are thriving! Ange's times are dropping and dropping--. She's just kicking butt! And Petra must be putting in at least 18 hours a week right now. I want to to do the work. Psychologically I am ready to do the work. But my body is not adapting with the ease I would like. I know that if I keep at this for years my body will adapt and eventually will take on more. I have asked rather a lot of it. Prior to May I had logged a good 6-7 hours a week during peak while training for Boston. But that was all running. And I've doubled that and added two disciplines, one of which I hadn't done (biking) since I was a tot cruising the neighborhood. So I probably shouldn't complain. I haven't gotten injured, after all. 

This morning I swam (3200 yards). It was my least favorite workout that I have to do. The main set is 1 x 800--hard, 2 x 400--hard, 2 x 200--hard. Hard hard hard. And boring. Argh. I miscounted on the 800 and did an 850. Annoying. I space out for 30 seconds and the next thing I know I can't remember how much I've done. After my swim I dropped Jordan and Noah off at recreation, and took Lara with me to the gym. (They have child care.) I spun for a 1/2 hour and then did a 40 minute run with two 400 pick-ups at 6:40 pace. I have a 5k tomorrow night. Should be interesting since I'm feeling so disgusto. Right now I just want to put my kids in front of a video and take a nap! Next week is lighter. Thank God. Did I mention another symptom I have is that I am a whiny crab? Sigh. 

Next entry will be full of vim and excitement!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Long Run. So Long. Kill me already long.

Okay, okay. In terms of marathon training it wasn't that long. But it was hard. 

I ran close to 16 with the first 1:25 in Z1 and the last 50 mintues in Z2. Z2 is hard work, man. Argh. As always, I didn't take enough water/Gatorade with me, and I had to stop at a store to re-stock the old fuel belt. 

Truth is, I can't stand taking all four bottles on the belt when I run. The belt is too big for me (it's my husband's) and it just bounces in such a violent and annoying way. With two bottles, the bounce is manageable. But, of course, two 8 0z bottles when you are going out for 16 isn't enough--especially in summer--especially in mid-morning on a nice, humid, sunny day. Anyway, I spent much of the run parched and annoyed that I was parched. The first hour I could barely hold 9:00 minute pace, and I just began to develop horror scenarios in my head: I'll never finish this race, if I do finish it will take 10 hours , my friends will kick my ass and I will be humiliated, etc. etc. 

 Luckily I was able to pick it up a bit after the first hour and a half and I averaged 8:10 pace for my last 6 miles. Of course, I should've been averaging that fast given that my hr was in the 150's for most of it... 

I think one of the reasons I find the long runs so hard when training for this 1/2 Ironman is that I am never, ever rested going into them. I did 3 hours on the bike with a 1 hour transition on Sunday and on Monday I did (for recovery) an hour of spinning and a 1/2 hour run. Hello! Working out for more than an hour is still hard! 

These plans (or those coach/gurus who write them) don't know what recovery is. Recovery is sitting your ass on the couch relishing the previous day's hard work. Anyway. Tomorrow I am supposed to swim in the a.m., then do a bike workout , then a transition run. When you train for a marathon you go hard maybe twice or three times a week--usually one speed session or tempo run, one mid-week long run, and one long, long run on the weekend. With tri training even the recovery days are hard ( I think). Spinning for an hour, even with a really low hr still is a workout! I think my body needs time to adjust. It's not happy. 

Probably signing up for a 1/2 Iron without ever even have done a sprint was a bad idea. But I did! I did! I can never seem to think small. Also, let's face it. I signed up with my runner's arrogance. Biking? whatever. I am a runner! A marathoner! I can do 56 miles no problem! And swimming? I am a tres amazing swimmer--though prior to this spring I hadn't swum a yard in like 10 years. Sigh.

The Lost Races

I just started this blog, and I am feeling SAD because I raced so much this winter and there is no way in hell I'm going to go back in time and write about them all, even though I want them to be written about. It's tragic. So, just because I feel like it, I am going to make a list of all the races I ran. Maybe as time passes I will supply race reports for each of them. Probably not, though. I'll jot a few words about each instead.  

2007 Races  

Jan. 1 Run 4 New Year's Day. Just a note about this race. I won it for women. Yes, it was a dinky little thing, and yes it was pouring, and who in their right mind runs a race in the pouring rain when they could be drinking cocktails to toast the new year or sitting on their asses watching football? So the field wasn't too competitive. But I won! I got a big trophy and everything. My kids were pretty impressed. They quickly developed a game in which each of them ascended the podium to receive the trophy. It was broken by the end of the day. Oh well. Time: 27:54 Pace: 6:59 Jan. 15  

Frostbite 15K Love this race. The course is a little short,which in my opinion is always a good thing. Time: 1:05:46 Pace: 7:05 Jan. 21  

Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry Derry: The Legend. It was hard, but Stu's was harder, and that's all I have to say. Time: 2:06:30 Pace: 7:54 

Feb. 4 Cape Classic Ten Miler I run this baby every year. It's hilly, but lovable, likely only to me b/c it's in my hometown. Time: 1:11:45 Pace: 7:11 

Feb. 17 Martha's Vineyard 20 Miler This was cold and windy and basically a miserable race for me. I had a great dinner with my friends afterward, however, which included a least a vat of wine. Time: 2:39:47 Pace: 8:00 

March 4 Stu's 30K As I said before, harder than Derry. Those last few miles had me crying for Mom. I loved it! Time: 2:29:23 Pace 8:02 

March 24 New Bedford Half Marathon Cold, windy, miserable. Not sure I will make a return visit for this one. Time: 1:36:54 Pace: 7:24 

April 16 Boston Marathon Great day for moi! Loved every minute of it! (Well, at least that's how I remember it...) Time: 3:31:43 Pace: 8:05 

April 29 James Joyce Ramble, 10K Perhaps a bit too soon after Boston, but it was a Grand Prix race for my club. Need I say more. I want to win that baby. Time: 44:24 Pace: 7:09 

May 13, Sudbury Spring Sprint Triathlon My first ever triathlon. I wasn't ready for the swim or the bike, but it was still fun. Honestly, it was so short, it didn't matter that I wasn't really ready... Here is the breakdown:

Place/Swim/Div Time/Swim (400 yards)

7/71 6:22

Place/Bike/Div (8 miles) Time/Bike 11/125 25:16

Place/Run (2.4 miles) Time/Run

5/61 16:33

Place/Overall Time/Overall Place/Div 73/468 48:11 6/74

May 26 Joseph and Rose Gilio Mem. 5K I always run slowly on this course. It's that super annoying last mile which is a gradual uphill. (But I still love the race--really, Mike I do.) Time: 21:42 Pace: 7:02

June 23 The Wildbear Triathlon My second ever triathlon. My friend Ange won it. Here is an article written about the goddess that is Angela. Time: 1:24:52 Place: 8th woman, 2nd age group

July 4 Firecracker 5k I had a good race, but I thought my heart was going to explode during that last mile. Super uneven splits. Time 20:54 Pace: 6:44

July 10 Cohasset Triathlon by the Sea I kicked some butt! I am most proud that I was the first out of the water in my wave. The pics on this site are from Cohasett.

Place/Overall   Place/Div Time       Place/Swim
60/600        2/58  1:12:10         31

Time/Swim Tran1   Place/Bike Time/Bike  Tran2  Run/Place  Run/Time
7:17        2:32        92       36:31     1:09     77       24:41  

I guess the times don't mean much unless you know the course: .28 mile swim, 12.22 bike, 3.3 run according to my faithful friend, the Garmin.

July 13 Marathon Sports 5 Miler Not my greatest race. Can you say overtrained? Also, I seriously dislike this course, which is super hilly and ends (the last mile mile) on grass. Yick! I might have to stop torturing myself each year with this one, even if it does earn Grand Prix points. Time: 35:11 Pace: 7:02

That's it! 2007 so far!

Next on my race calendar?

Ocean Park 5K Beach to Beacon 10K The Brew Run (maybe) Timberman 1/2 Ironman (OH MY GOD) Walpole 10K or maybe that 25 K in Gloucester Run leg of the Lobsterman Triathlon (relaying with my friends) CELT Challenge run leg (again, a relay with my friends) The Chicago Marathon