Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm Getting Close Now

Today Black Beauty was delivered to Fast Splits. Tomorrow she will be shipped off to Florida. I had a hard time saying goodbye to her. Of the three disciplines I like biking the least, but I still am attached to my bike. I don't know if you feel this way, but she is almost human to me; a partner in my racing. She's with me during the majority of my training, and she, I don't know, feels the pain too? Tries to get through it with me?

I may be sounding a bit looney, here, I admit.

When I got to Fast Splits I asked Brian, the mechanic/owner of the store, to remove the pedals for me. He said okay, but then left, thinking I meant remove them before she is shipped. I actually meant remove them NOW, because I don't have any other pedals, and I need them this week while the Black is away. I brought Little Red, my road bike, out of retirement because I have several more rides to do before I leave next Thursday.

I digress. Before Brian returned I began talking with this very pretty athletic woman about Clearwater. She asked me why I had ribbon on my water bottle holder (I have one of Jordan's hair bows tied on it). I felt stupid explaining that it helps me find my bike in transition. You see, there are actually quite a few black, Felt B12s on the women's 35-39 rack. Also, it makes me feel like a piece of Jordan is with me. Dumb, I know. I didn't try to explain that. Anyway, we continued to talk, and I asked her to explain to me the way the transitions work at an Ironman event like Clearwater. This was helpful. I get it now.

Later she introduced herself as DeDe.
As in DeDe Greisbauer.

Then I had to get all gaga like "I watched you the whole time online as you competed in Kona", and "you were awesome!" etc. etc. She is very tall and strong. Her bike was right there and it has DeDe Greisbauer written on the frame in script. It also has Team Psycho written in script on the fork. I didn't realize she competed for them. It shouldn't surprise me, of course. Team Psycho is an elite team.

Sooo.... anyway. I ramble on.

I have had some tough workouts this week, and I am feeling really strong and really ready and really, really like I need November 8th to be here already. Everyone keeps talking about the off season on their blogs and I am still trying to stay focused. Elizabeth F wrote the best post on the off season that I have read. She is a great thinker and writer. If you don't read her, you should.

Anyway, she points out that one's body needs totally recovery in order to heal. This rings true to me. I got stronger after each one of the births of my children. Now, this may be because after each birth I was even more determined than before to get my body, fitness, and self back. However, I think there's more to it than that. I really believe my body and mind were so focused on something else, namely making a baby, that all of my minor athletic injuries, both mental and physical, were allowed genuine rest. After those long rests, my body and mind came back stronger. (Athletically, that is. My mind did NOT come back as strong intellectually. That's another post, though.)

I have friends who race year round. There is no fluctuation in their workouts, mindset or their racing. I am beginning to understand that breakthroughs are made only when one learns to fluctuate. When you go hard, you must go really hard. When you rest, you must really rest. There are workouts that are in the middle, and there should be. But they shouldn't all be sort of hard or sort of easy. Likewise, one shouldn't have a sort of on season and a sort of off season.

I am psyched for Clearwater. I am psyched I have this one, last big race in 2008 to really give everything I have.

Then I'm psyched to park my ass on the couch and take a huge nap for a month straight. Praise God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jordan dressed as a runner for her Halloween party on Friday night. When people asked what she was dressed as she replied, "I'm my Mom."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BayState Half Marathon Race Report

A Little History

One thing I have missed since I started triathlon a year and a half ago is my running club. This is a club close to my heart. It was founded a few years ago by a group of us who ran together in the early morning almost daily. We had a big meeting/party, decided to become a club, got USATF certified, and started a website. We created an inaugural Grand Prix and had singlets made. Two years later our club remains strong at almost 40 members. This is not due to my involvement, however.

When I began triathlon, I pretty much stopped running with the group, even though I was president of the club and on my way to winning the Grand Prix. It was hard to coordinate my specific workouts with the workouts of the group, and I'm not the kind of person who can foist my agenda on others anyway. Still, I continued to train every once in awhile with the group, and I made sure I attended every Grand Prix event, insuring my win (for women) that year, and having a great time to boot.

In the winter of 2008 I got a coach for the first time. Now I was expected to answer to someone about my workouts; no more fudging things so I could catch a run with my pals. Plus, I had to stop road racing every weekend--which had tied me to my club more than anything else. I became completely MIA. New members joined the club and I didn't know who they were, whereas previously I had been the contact person for the club, and the entry into it. I resigned as president, another club member took over the website, and I tried not to feel too guilty that now my whole athletic life revolved around my triathlon pursuit instead of the club. Eventually my club stopped asking after me, and instead was just really surprised if I happened to show up for something. I've missed them. I also miss being a Runner. I miss racing every weekend. Most of all, I miss being central in that group.

I was pretty psyched to run this race with my club.

The BayState Half Marathon is one of the only club events I joined in on this calendar year, and I'm so glad I ran it, even if I did mess up my training for Worlds slightly. Nearly half the club participated in the event. Out of it came two Boston qualifiers (a few GNRCer's ran the marathon), four top ten AG finishes in a race of over 1000 runners, and two first time finishes of a half marathon. The most exciting part was that my friend Melissa, who had tried to qualify for Boston at two previous marathons, finally got her very deserved qualifier. She ran a smart, strong race. Michael, one of the founding members and the bedrock of our club, ran with her the whole way. The rest of us followed in a van after we had finished the 1/2 marathon, and several members jumped out to run with her in the final miles, despite that they had just run the 1/2 marathon. It was totally inspirational. It made me feel so connected to the club again, and it made me realize that after I finish IM this summer, I'm going back to the group. It's what I love and it's where I belong. That's not to say I won't also continue triathlon; it's just that triathlon will no longer be the most powerful force in my athletic life--deciding for me what I can and cannot do.

Onto my race. I had a great, great race.

Although I haven't really publicized this, I have begun working with a new coach, Jen Harrison. She's a pretty awesome person, and a really awesome coach. After Timberman I let Jen know how disappointed I was in my run there. She assured me that things would get better. And they have. On Sunday I had my first PR in over a year and a half in running. I attribute this to two things. First, Jen has had me do more running than I had been doing, and she has also had me do more intensity then I had been doing. Second, she has been watching me. This is pretty powerful, actually. She gets after me about being self-defeatist. She checks to see that I'm completing my workouts, and HOW I'm completing them, and with what attitude. At first this made me claustrophobic. I realize now that is because I've never been held truly accountable for my workouts. I have always worked hard. I have also always cut myself slack if I needed it. I have always tried to do my workouts as prescribed. I have not always FORCED myself to do my workouts EXACTLY as prescribed EVERYTIME. There's a difference. And the difference, I believe, resulted in a great race on Sunday.

Sunday was cold. This was rather shocking to me, since this fall it's been rather balmy. I was expecting to wear a t-shirt and shorts, but during warm up it became clear that a long sleeved shirt was in order. I cursed myself for not bringing gloves and tights. It was that cold.

I warmed up with Rose and Melissa, two of my GNRC friends. I wanted to run hard and fast during warm-up because I was SO cold. This would have been dumb, of course, so we ran a normal pace. After a mile or so I began to feel like I wouldn't freeze to death. At the starting line, however, I got chilled again. I couldn't wait to start running just to get warm. When we were finally let go, I wanted to take off like a shot. I remembered Jen's advice, however, to not go out too hard. It would feel easy, she had said. I knew that it would. It always feels easy at the start.

Except this time, it didn't.

I clicked my watch at the first mile. 7:23. What? I was trying! It should have been faster given the effort I was putting in. I tried to calm myself. The goal was to complete 7:30s I was doing great. It would be fine. Second mile 7:23. WTF! People were passing me left and right. Let them go, I thought. Get them later. But would I be able to get them later? Next mile: 7:24. Next mile 7:35. Next mile 7:33. Damn! I had hoped this race would prove to me the stellar shape I was in. Instead, I was putting out quite a bit of effort only to run 7:30s.

Then I took a Double caffeinated Expresso Love Gu. I felt it immediately. Had that been the problem? I had taken one 15 minutes before the start, so could I really have been depleted?

No time to think. I only had 7 more miles to make this race count. 7:18. I was on fire. I could do this. 7:12. Only five more miles. What's five miles? Nothing! Move! 7:04. Hold this and I could still PR. 7:07. I took in another Gu. No way was I risking exploding for lack of fuel! Rounding a bend and the wind was in my face again. Was I at the end of my fast miles? 7:11. I could still do this, but the wind was strong. Uk. Where did that come from? 7:24. Okay. Two miles to go. I could run these two miles really, really hard. Two miles is nothing. Imagine I'm on the track. And while we're at it, let's take some people out! Pass that guy! Pass that woman! 7:07. Could I do the last mile in under 7? Just one Chrissie Wellington mile? I am unstoppable. I am like lightning. No one can catch me. 6:59. Two tenths around the track and I'm done. 1:36 flat. A PR!

Final result:
136:01, 7:20 average pace.
6/191 in 30-39.

Yeah baby. Bring on the World Championships!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


New England foliage is always spectacularly beautiful. This year it seems brighter than usual. On the way to work yesterday I was startled by a red maple that was so bright red it seemed on fire.

It's a gorgeous season, and also a melancholy one, I think. The weather has been great lately; in the 60s, sunny and clear. Today was gloomy, but really this October has been perfect so far. Still, the leaves turning always makes me sad. They worked so hard, these leaves, from their birth in the spring. They brought energy to their host tree, and they were bright and green and happy all summer. Then, in fall, they become really beautiful for a short while, seemingly just to say "I'm here! Notice me know before I die!" And then they fall. Soon they will be crunchy, brown, crumbling into compost for next year's growth.

I feel my age in the fall.
I've got to keep moving to avoid crumbling.

I'm still riding outside, but open water swimming is over now. It feels as if I should be winding down, taking a break, baking cookies and chilling out.

I'm not. Clearwater is in just about three weeks.

I've been really working to keep focus. Jen has me doing really specific workouts that force me to pay attention to what I'm doing and force me to work. I'm going to make it. It's going to be good.

And then I'm going to sleep for about two weeks straight.
And then I start training for the Big Kahuna. Oh boy! I'm excited and I'm terrified.

I have a half marathon coming up this weekend. I'm running it with a bunch of members from my running club, GNRC. I haven't been in a road race since last winter. It's funny; I think of a half marathon is a pretty substantial race, but really it lasts only a little longer than a longish sprint triathlon. My goal is to take it out at my goal pace for Clearwater and then speed up a little bit every few miles, so I negative split. I'm not expecting a PR. My running has been much better lately, but I don't think I'm close to PRing yet. Soon enough.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Road We All Travel and Other Thoughts

This week while living at my in-laws (recall I am out of my house currently b/c of never-ending construction that I know I will someday appreciate) I was looking for something to read. I wanted something light, cheesy; something to fall asleep by. The hub and I are sleeping in my brother in-law's old bedroom, and I found The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck sandwiched in his bookcase. I pulled it out.

The Road Less Traveled belongs to a collection of books I associate with my late high school years. At that time I loved the self help section of the bookstore, which I believed held the secret to understanding myself and all the people on which I had crushes. These were books I reasoned would help me to become wise and deep beyond my years. Sure, most of them were intended for those in mid-life, but I was mature. I could appreciate such poignant reads as The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, A Gift from the Sea, The Fountainhead and Letters to A Young Poet. All are required reading for the seriously deep teenager.

Peck opens with the platitude, Life is Difficult.
But then I paused. Life is difficult.
Later he says, that personal growth is a "complex, arduous and lifelong task."
duh again.


I get it. I really do. But sometimes I forget... Or maybe most of the time I forget?

I think, sometimes, I believe that life should not be so hard--and that happiness should be the dominant feeling in one's life. We all deserve happiness. I deserve happiness. Something is wrong if one is not happy.


Ironman World Championships. Difficult. A "complex, arduous, and potentially lifelong task."

Ironman is life in a bottle. Uncorked it takes under 24 hours to play itself out. And we watch with intensity, fervor, hope, fear. We want the athletes to overcome the adversity of it, but we also watch with relish when one gets a penalty, a flat, must drop out, is disqualified.

Ironman is a way to confront life and take it on. Real life, raw life. Competing in these races, even the shorter ones that I have done, is hard. They are difficult. They hurt. Just like it's supposed to be--like life is supposed to be. And through the difficulty meaning is achieved.
Because if we can get through the adversity, there is joy. And if we don't really get through the adveristy? If we have a bad race, or worse a DNF? We pick ourselves up, and go back at it. The next episode will be better.

I want to take on Ironman. To do well at it I must take on the difficulty of it--the enormity of it. I know it's going to be very hard. I need to keep reminding myself that I don't expect Ironman to be easy--and I should not expect life to be either. I embrace that Ironman is hard. It makes it more worth it that it is.
This is the same with life.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A New Event

I have figured out my new job: race director. I am going to be the race director of a new, exciting series of events that feature swimming and running--but NO biking.

Think about it. You can do the swim and the bike--aquabike. You can do the bike and the run--duathlon. So WTF???? What about the swim and the run--sans the bike? Hmmm? I can finally see my calling. I might also create a series of triathons that looks something like this:

swim--3 miles
bike--5 miles
run--half marathon


swim--2.5 miles
bike--2 miles

What do you think? I'd sign up, that's for damn sure.


I am really working and struggling and suffering in my bike and run workouts of late. My running took a major dive this last year, and it's taking time to pull it together again, but I have faith that soon things will fall into place. Biking--well. I am going to kill myself working on the bike this winter, and I will improve, and the bike gods are just going to HAVE to make room for me in their club. That's all.

Swimming and I didn't like each other much for a long time. I overdosed on her in high school, and I didn't come away with any major accolades to show for my overdosing, so I basically kissed her goodbye at age 18 and began an affair with running. I didn't begin taking swimming seriously again until I started up with triathlon, a year and a half ago now. That's an 18 year hiatus.

Eighteen years and swimming and I have made up. In fact, we are officially in love. Everytime I get in the pool I go a little faster.

Today I did a 50 in 35.6 seconds--pushing off the wall. I couldn't believe it.

That is good for me, my friends. My best 50, off the blocks, when I was a kid in high school, was a 30.1. And that was when I was young, nubile, fresh! Of course, I was also 20 pounds heavier and was somewhat lacking in the motivation department....but whatever.

In short.

Thanks, swimming. I'm glad I have you right now.