Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Winner Take All

I'm embarking on a big year of training and racing with some very ambitious goals. I've been going back and forth with my coach and some friends trying to decide on what races to do, in the context of my goals. Everything came together yesterday, and it felt to me like the universe was telling me it's ready for me to begin. 

The series of events were uncanny--I'd decided to reorganize my house and garage to make it easier to sew (in the case of the house) and keep clean (in the case of the garage). My best male friend (is that BMF? Really he's a BAMF!), Brad, called and said he and his wife want to come visit me for the Labor Day weekend. Good thing I got my guest bedroom in order! This weekend is when I'd planned to do the International Day of Suffering (see sidebar of races/events), so now Brad and I will do it together! That is going to be so much fun! 

I found out that a double Iron distance race that I was considering doing solo allows teams, and I started planting the seed with Brad last week that maybe we could do it together. Yesterday Brad tells me he's in for the double team thing, which is great, because he's moving to Portland and the race is like an hour from his new house, so I tell him I need to check with my coach.

Then I had found another marathon, the LA marathon, that was good timing post-Disney for me to get the BQ. Brad said he would do that, too. 

I had studied up the Kona qualification data, and it looked to me that Ironman Wisconsin would be a great place for me to qualify, plus it's in my back yard and I can train up there all summer. I ran this by my coach a few days ago, together with where I'm at, fitness-wise, in running and what time I'd need to do to get the slot at Wisconsin.

All that was left was to gain approval from my coach, Nick, to put these races on the table, and we chatted last night and it's a go! So now you can see on my sidebar what I've got planned for 2017--Disney in January, LA marathon in March (although Nick thinks I might BQ at Disney), Volcano Olympic Triathlon in Lanzarote in April (more of a vacation than anything else), team double Iron in July, and then Ironman Wisconsin in September.

I know I am going to need to buckle in for this ride and be prepared for many ups and downs. Goes with the territory. I'm already lining up people to "stalk" me during the marathon at Ironman Wisconsin. I've done this for other friends of mine where they just see me and I yell motivational things at them like Harden The Fuck Up to keep them motivated. It's time to call in some favors and have it done for me. 

Things are a ways off yet, but I know from past experience that once you sketch out the ATP (Annual Training Plan), you have a good idea of what's about to happen and it ain't going to be easy!

But I am so excited and ready for this. I've been training for all this for years. It's going to be a wild ride--I just hope it's not like this:
Stay tuned, and check the sidebar if you want to learn more about the races I'm doing.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Revolution Number Eight, or Cream City Century Ride Report aka the Ride Where Everything Goes Wrong

Huh. In writing this, I thought I'd done 9 centuries this year, but sadly it's only 8. I'd wanted to title this post "Revolution Number 9" for obvious reasons, but I couldn't. Still, that's 850 (2 of them were 200k rides all or partly on the trainer!) miles of happy biking goodness! My first century this year was on June 5, and since then I've also done 3 triathlons (and won 2 of them!). So that's a lot of happiness packed into 3 months! I don't write up all century rides in such elaborate detail as what follows, but it was my last one of the year, and I really savored the day, and so grab a coffee or beer or 3 and enjoy!

Yesterday was my last century ride for 2016--the Cream City Century out of Waterford, Wisconsin. This ride was recommended to me by Tim of my bike club. In case I haven't said it a million times already, I am SO glad I joined the Downers Grove Bike Club. So many good riders belong and of course, are all wonderful people to know! I love biking and I love people who love biking! It's like I'm in a big love fest every time I ride with them!

The weather for yesterday was predicted to be awesome--low 80's with light winds 5-10mph, and the weather delivered! You can't really get better than that, although mid- to upper 70's is wonderful, too. But this late in August, low 80's don't really feel that bad.

Initially, the plan was to ride with Tim, and have him pace me to my fastest century of the year. However, Tim came down with a cold, and also his primary bike was in the shop. I told him he needs more bikes if he can't ride because ONE is in the shop!

I posted to the bike club Google group in case anyone else was planning on going, but had no takers as of Friday. I didn't mind, because I always find people to ride with when I show up to these things.

I woke up at 3AM yesterday (alarm was set for 3:30) so I'd have plenty of time to eat, down the Ultra Violence (Twinlab Ultra Fuel) and drive the 88 miles to Waterford.
I've been using Ultra Fuel for 16 years, thanks to my first coach, Mike Arenberg (he's in the book Becoming an Ironman, and his first triathlon ever was an Ironman!). It's basically 100% carbohydrates that you mix with water and drink to load up before long events. It was formulated for bodybuilders, but I use it whenever I'm working out 4 or more hours. One of my friends used to sip hers over the course of an hour, but I just down the entire thing (I mix it with about 16 oz. of water), and then proceed to go into an insulin coma.

I ate my usual breakfast, coffee plus a hard boiled egg on a toasted whole wheat English muffin (how English can it be if it's whole wheat?) with a little jam, had one more soft boiled egg, drank 300 calories of Ultra Fuel, and then I drank a Coke on the drive up. I cook 8 eggs at once so I have 7 for a week, and the 8th one is on top of the others and comes out soft-boiled and I eat it immediately! I love eggs, and they are good for me, and my cholesterol is just fine, thank you very much! I also drank about 16 oz. of water after breakfast.

So, I had a bit over 800 calories in the tank before I started riding. I know from all the years I've been doing this endurance stuff (and great coaches) that you want to be loaded up before anything long. One of the effects is that you really don't feel like going fast right away, because you are still working off a significant calorie load. But the main reason to do this is that you will never replace the calories you are burning, and you probably won't be eating lunch during your session, so you can still bonk without sufficient calories in the tank beforehand, even if you are ingesting enough while you are exercising. I've ridden with so many people who fail to fuel up properly beforehand, and then they wonder why I am still so strong at the end of century rides. Sigh...they should listen to me.

In my cooler were (2) 3-hour bottles of Infinit (my super electrolyte/caffeine loaded custom mix called Money Shot delivering 244 calories/hour), 2 bottles of water, a bike bottle of Gatorade for the drive home in case I wanted it, a bike bottle of just water (Skull Kingdom's frame is so small I can only put a 20-oz. bottle into the cage on the down tube, and when I use concentrated Infinit that bottle holds pure water), 1 Bass Ale for post-ride, 2 pieces of string cheese for post-ride, 1 frozen water-filled bottle of Coke (that's my trusty cooler ice!) and a frozen bottle of Endurox R4 for my recovery drink. Freezing the Endurox R4 lets it act as ice for the other cooler contents, and then it comes down to still being cold after a century ride! 

I left my house about 5:00. I had thought I'd leave earlier, but it's funny how things to do expand when I'm getting ready for these things, and besides I wasn't planning on doing anything else for the day!

I pulled out of my driveway and figured I'd start in on the Coke at 5:30. I listened to Diamonds and Pearls by Prince on the way up. Such a good album! I didn't speed too much, and didn't drive in the left lane much except to pass. I decided to stop at the Lake Forest Oasis (that's what we call the over-the-highway things in Illinois) to pee. All that coffee, water, Ultra Fuel and Coke necessitated the stop. I walk in to the building, and who do I see? Dennis, a guy from my bike club, that I'd ridden with 3 weeks ago, only I didn't remember his name. But we hugged (and I got French kisses on both cheeks!), and he introduced Scott, whom I'd met at bike club meetings but didn't remember his name, either. I assumed they were going to the same ride and they were, and I asked if I could ride with them, and they said sure. Scott hadn't ridden a century this year, and thus started the sandbagging. It's a tradition with these things, although I didn't trot out any of my own yesterday. Sure, I'm probably training a whole lot more than either of them, but I have no excuse not to ride a decent pace.

I left the Oasis a couple of minutes before the guys, only because I only had to pee and they were eating breakfast. I pulled out back onto I94, and not too long after, here comes a white SUV hauling ass. I decide to keep pace with it and it turns out it's Dennis with Scott driving! Well they keep going ahead of me, and before you know it we are going 100mph. I've never gone that fast in this car (it's only 2 years old), and I don't make a habit of going much over 85 on the interstates. I catch up to them and make some hand signals while smiling like WTF how fast are we going to drive? Scott dialed it back down to 90-95, and I (wrongly) assumed he had a radar detector and so would pick up any threats along the way. From the Oasis, it was about 34 miles to our exit, 333 (US 20).

Well holy fuck, that was some fun driving! Turns out I like driving my car fast! I didn't realize that we were supposed to race on the way to a century. Everyone knows that any century ride is a race even if you don't say it out loud. We get to Waterford High School, where the ride begins, and we park side by side. We get out and I immediately note that I have a bladder the size of a teacup and so I need to hustle in to pick up my T-shirt and cue sheet (which they spelled QUE at the table with the sheets on it which I thought was funny). I was pre-registered, so it was a snap to get my crap, but Dennis and Scott needed to register. Back at the Oasis, I'd asked why they didn't post to the Google group that they were doing the ride, and Scott said it was because they only decided at 4PM on Saturday!

At the registration table, I was standing next to Dennis, and I looked at his well-muscled legs, and commented, "My legs are bigger than yours!" Judge for yourself:
I'm shorter than Dennis but my legs are bigger. Does that mean I'm fat?
To which the guy manning the table, who by the way, was wearing a fucking awesome Spider Man kit, remarked, "But yours are much nicer to look at!" I probably blushed and thanked him. Then it was off to get our bikes out of the cars and get set to ride. I showed the boys the bottle of beer I had stashed for later. In retrospect, I should have brought more, but how would I know I'd be meeting up with people I know?

We took off, and initially, it was misting. There was a good deal of fog on the drive up, and after we'd turned off I94 it was pretty thick. It reminded me of when I was driving from the Albany airport to Lake Placid in 2007 and I was freaking out because the fog was pea soup and I could barely see the road. Great memories!

The mist felt fine on me, It was so light it didn't make a difference. I was a teeny bit chilly, as the temperature wasn't yet 70 as we started. Still, right off the bat, the 3 of us are passing people with aplomb. As we started to hit some hills, I lagged behind, because my hill skills suck right now--I haven't really ridden much hills since 2012, so it's natural I suck at it currently. But we'll fix that next year. Anyway, about 10 miles in, I'm not far behind the boys and I think my front brake is rubbing, and I stop and I was right. I fix that, and hope I might catch back up, but then I hit what felt like a pothole and shortly after that, I'm on a downhill and things don't feel right and I am thinking, "Please don't be a flat, please don't be a flat!" But I knew it was a flat. Fuck. My first flat this year.

I pull over and begin the process, only it's hard for me to get the tire off the rim because I sliced the tip of my right index finger (I'm right-handed) off Saturday night while slicing celery on the mandoline, and while I had it well-bandaged up, it still hurt to put pressure on it. So a guy stopped and asked if I needed help, and I explained my finger issue, and he started to help.He seemed nervous, though, I think because he'd never worked on a deep-dish wheel. Still, he got the tire off the rim, I inspected the tire and it looked fine, and I figure the pothole did it. Something got in there and jacked the tube. Oh well.

So we have the tube in there and the tire back on the rim and we use the CO2 and presto we're good. Only we're not. Either Craig didn't fully get the tire back on the rim or the CO2 blew it partly off. Now I'm fucked because the valve stem is (at least I thought) too far down the extender to get to to deflate the tube so I can put the tire back on the rim. Nobody, not Craig, not any passing cyclist, not me, has a long enough, thin enough tool to get at it. I'm fucked. I call for SAG and get voicemail. I try not to panic, and I didn't panic, but I really wanted to get in 100 miles! SAG never called me back and finally I unscrew the valve extender and fuck me there's the valve tip! So I deflate the thing and along come Tom and Suzanne, and Tom put the tire back on the rim and he had a regular pump and we got enough air into it to get me to the first rest stop at 25 miles in. What a clusterfuck! Well, lesson learned.

That was the first time I had a flat on the HED wheels.I know that I will continue to pay the extra $ for the tubes with the ultra long stems so that I know I can get to the damn thing without the valve extender!

Crisis averted, I thought it was the nice thing to do to ride with Tom and Suzanne for a bit. Tom was on a road bike and Suzanne on a cruiser, but boy they weren't slow! Turns out they'd ridden a century the day before and were obviously avid cyclists! What nice people! See this is what I love about biking! Suzanne asked where I was from, and she'd known someone who lived quite near to me! She asked what "I do" there, and I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Job." And I told her I was done. I asked them both the same. Tom still works in IT for a small bank, and Suzanne said she is, "finding herself." She had done economic development work overseas, and said it was hard to get those jobs in safe (i.e., non-war zones) areas now, so she was testing out other options.

I rode with them for maybe 5-6 miles, and then I just needed to go faster, so I just rode off. I knew they wouldn't mind. Friends and other cyclists let friends and other cyclists go fast!

I got to the first rest stop at 25 miles and was relieved to get there, and asked for a pump and we loaded my front tire up. Of course, I got all sorts of comments on Skull Kingdom, and one of the bike club volunteers wanted a picture of me with her, so I obliged, and he took one for me:
His name was Ken, and I told him I wouldn't hate him just because he has the same name as my ex-husband. He even told me how to pose when taking the picture. I'm sporting my brand new POC aero helmet. Another first for this ride. Frankly, I don't think it's faster than my traditional aero helmets, but maybe that's because of how small I am. Still, it's a plenty comfortable helmet, and one of the things I really like about it is that it really keeps the sun out of my eyes.

Shortly before I arrived at 25 miles, I heard something fall off my bike. It was a little baggie of valve extenders and tools. Turns out I'd failed to zip my seat bag back up and it had fallen out. In the process, I lost an EpiPen that was in there, so I hoped I didn't get stung. Oh well, life goes on. 

I left the rest stop and now I had to ride the 25-mile loop that was only for the century, and since I'd lost time with the flat, I was out there all by myself. It was boring and lonely, and the roads sucked. But the scenery was beautiful and the weather was awesome, so I really couldn't complain. About 6 miles before the next aid station at 50 miles (we returned to the first one for a second visit), I see a guy riding up ahead and figure I can catch him. He was wearing a hot pink jersey. I ride up to him and ask if he's on the century ride, and he says no, is there a century today? Yes. Well, obviously I'm faster than him, but as I pass, he speeds up and rides alongside me. So I say, "So you don't like it when a woman passes you?" He lied a little and said, "No, I just like the company." Well I'm thinking obviously you've been slacking if you can ride this pace but you weren't. Turns out he was doing his last long ride before Ironman Wisconsin. I asked him how many Ironmans he's done and this was going to be #3. He never did ask me the same question, but that's fine, I'm not out there to impress anyone but myself. He said he was just finishing an 80-mile ride and then running 6, and I said that's perfect and then you taper! I apologized that I wouldn't be up there this year to cheer, and wished him good luck, and then he turned off and I continued on to the rest stop.

This time at the rest stop, I had a half turkey/cheese sandwich. It was SO FUCKING GOOD! Even though I carry enough calories for normal circumstances, when I ride centuries during heavy training, extra calories are always welcome, and I do enjoy a hit of protein. I adjusted my Infinit bottles and headed out onto the next section.

Somewhere in this stretch, I either launched one of my Infinit bottles or else I left it at the rest stop. Another first. Fuck. Oh well, I still have 3 and can buy another one. I like them because they have lines drawn on them already. I'm not going to do that to any of my precious Ironman bottles!

There were 2 guys that I passed on this stretch, but then I thought maybe I'd like to pee and so I turned off on a little side road just before a big climb. Turns out I didn't need to pee, so 1 mile later, I'm climbing this big hill and there are other riders and I didn't do too badly on the climb, but some dumbasses (including my 2 NOT friends that I'd passed earlier) were riding side by side! Stupid fucking people! Then the road got really curvy and still the dumb shits are riding side by side while cars are trying to get around in a NO PASSING ZONE. Idiots.

Anyway, I caught back up to my 2 NOT friends, as I am faster than them, and I almost cussed them out for riding side by side, but I chose not to because who needs the anger?

We get to the next rest stop and it was just a thing off the side of the road across the street from what appeared to be a combination bike shop/bar. Only in Wisconsin! They had a rack to put our bikes on, and immediately one of the volunteers commented on how fast my bike looks, and said I must ride fast. I said, well I try, and that I won't even ride this bike if I don't feel like I'm fast enough for it. He said that was odd, and then I told him about a friend of mine, Dino, who has a really cool Trek with a flame paint job and that he puts tape around the frame and only starts taking it off as he gets closer to his target fitness/speed!

At this rest stop, I had another first--I ate a dill pickle! It was tasty, and I hoped it wouldn't upset my stomach. I was now out of Infinit, and figured I'd need the salt. I filled a bottle with the Gatorade they had, which was way, way too weak for my liking, but I had no choice. I took off and immediately began having trouble clipping in my left shoe. It had been truculent all day, but now I just couldn't get it in. Tough to ride fast like that. A guy named Dave stopped and clamped the shoe on there for me, and I thanked him and asked if I could ride with him. He said yeah, and we weren't going extremely fast, but a few miles later, we saw a pair of riders up ahead, and I said, "Let's go catch them." And Sandbagger Dave flies ahead like he has another entire gear! I work hard to catch up and I do, and we fly by these youngsters. Dave was hilarious and kept making stupid jokes like he hoped he'd finish the century before sundown! I enjoyed riding with him, and he said his quads were getting twitchy and it worried him because the last leg of the ride had a lot of FUCKING HILLS! Finally someone else throwing F-bombs! I commented that I throw them probably way too much, and then I said, "So they're not just hills--they're FUCKING HILLS?" We both had a good laugh, and then he remarked that the hills were going to wear him out, to which I said, "That's what hills are for!" And then I said, "Don't hate the hill--hate the rider!"

Dave and I made it to the 85 or so mile rest stop, and as soon as I parked Skull Kingdom, one of the volunteers shouted, "YOUR WHEELS ARE ON FIRE!" Of course, I smiled broadly at this, and everyone had a good laugh and a few riders went over to Skull Kingdom to take a look at her. Here's Dave and me:

And here's just me and Skull Kingdom, because as usual, the volunteers wanted a picture of her and I asked them to take one of me:

Guess who was reclining in lawn chairs here? DENNIS AND SCOTT! I was like WTF are you doing here, and it was partly due to Scott not having ridden a century this year. I was glad to see them, told them I'd had a flat, but all in all, I couldn't have been riding too shabby, right? I ate a small handful of Cheetos they had there (YUM!), and said let's go. Dave took off by himself, so now it was me, Dennis and Scott.

Dave had warned of the hills and he wasn't kidding. Now they came one after the next, and my legs were well fried by now, but I had to press on. I went up front, and I always worry that I'm not riding fast enough when I'm with guys, but then I think I'm usually wrong. Anyway, with about 5 miles to go, who should be stopped by the side of the road but Dave? He really was hurting. I waved as I went by and now thought I JUST WANT TO BE FUCKING DONE. And when I hit 100 miles, I was like HOW MANY FUCKING MILES IS THIS RIDE??? Those are typical thoughts during a century, because while they are advertised as 100 miles, YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Plus I know I added at least a mile on my little detour.

One again, my 2 NOT friends were still riding side by side, the assholes, and once again, I passed them soundly. I bit my tongue and this time asked the guy on the Bianchi which race he'd done. Earlier I was sort of an asshole when I saw the number on his helmet and asked, "What race are you doing RIGHT NOW because there's a number on your helmet?" I dislike it when people leave numbers on their helmets or bikes after a race. I know for newbies, it's a badge of honor, and I excuse them (if they are on let's say a hybrid or MTB), but decent cyclists I wonder what's wrong with them. Anyway, Bianchi dude tells me he did a 1/2 Ironman in Door County. Beautiful place. He said the race was really nice. I congratulated him and went on.

I got to my car just a few minutes before Dennis and Scott pulled in. I immediately grabbed a piece of the string cheese to wolf down because I felt an impending bonk coming on. I had already put on my Reef flip flops with the bottle openers in the soles, and I took out my cooler and said, "Watch this!" I took out the bottle of Bass Ale and opened it with my shoe! It foamed over a bit, and Dennis asked if it was warm, and I said, "No. I'm a professional. I know how to keep things cool in the cooler for a century!" I sucked that thing down so fast--it was just what the doctor ordered! I asked if anyone needed dirty clothes bags (the high school had the showers open for us!), and both guys said yes, I loaded bike into car, grabbed my bag of clothes, towel and toiletries, and went in.

I immediately took out my contact lenses, which felt SO GOOD! Then I took the BEST SHOWER EVER! Someone had left a bar of soap in there, but I brought my own shampoo and conditioner. I toweled off and got dressed and was ready for FOOD!

They had lunch (or whatever it was--due to delay of game it was already 3:30) set up in the school cafeteria. A small salad, spaghetti and meatballs, bread slathered with butter and a bottle of water, and I think I shoveled it all in in record time! Dennis and Scott were just a bit behind me, yakking with other people including Tom and Suzanne! Dennis has a business where he makes custom jerseys and shorts and stuff, so if you need that sort of thing, let me know and I'll hook you up.

I sat across from the boys and was probably yammering at high speed which is what happens when you are all endorphined up and had a shit ton of caffeine to boot. Turns out Scott is the chief radiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, which is where I have had many radiology things run on me. As I described my physician as "she," Scott knew who she was, and then he made a dry joke (I guess radiologists have a dry sense of humor) that he'd seen me before. Well now I finally understood what his vanity plate meant--BCUN U SOON. Earlier I'd thought it was just a "see you soon" thing, but I was wrong. I really enjoyed talking to Scott. He wasn't aware of just how much I train, and he understood the physiological challenges I encounter being hypothyroid and all. I described a little of my "journey" with that and how I was eminently aware of its impact on carbohydrate metabolism and sodium processing, and that sometimes I've been told I'm crazy, but he knows I'm not. He asked if I told my doctor just how much training I do, and I have, but really, it's hard for some people to understand. He told me to try telling them how many calories I am pumping through my body, and that that would help them understand why it's critical I be regulated on Synthroid properly.

We finished up and I told Scott I wouldn't be driving 100mph on the way home, and that I'd need to stop for gas about 10 miles out. We said our goodbyes, but here's me with Scott, and that's Tom and Suzanne in the background:
and here are Dennis and Scott:
I told them both I planned on winning the dessert competition at the annual bike club picnic in 3 weeks. I'm making individual Margarita Pies and chocolate chip bacon cookies.

I gassed up (cheap gas in Wisconsin!) and proceeded to drive home, mostly in the left lane, but no more than 85mph. Everyone was going fast, so I wasn't standing out. I drank the Endurox R4 (still cold!) on the drive back. When I got home, I drank another beer, wolfed down a small deli container of seafood salad, and then later I had a huge bowl of the sausage/tomato pasta I'd made on Saturday. I was well and truly shelled! That was a 21-hour training week last week, including one brick workout, one duathlon workout, one century ride, 33.5 miles of running, 175 miles of biking, 11,000 yards of swimming, 1.5 hours of strength training and lots of food! I lamented the fact that I am still without candy! My friend Brad will come through, though, soon enough, and all will be well.

I had such a wonderful day yesterday, despite things going wrong and riding slower than I'd wanted to. All in all, it was 104.6 miles in 6:18, which is slow for me, but it reminded me of all the hill riding I will need to do next year, especially since Ironman Wisconsin will be on the table, and that is where I will earn my Kona slot!

Hope you enjoyed this little novella--I enjoy writing it down!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nutrition Redux

I've written about nutrition in the past, and when I remember, I'll dredge up some old blog posts and copy them into this new blog, but today is a new reality for me in terms of nutrition.

First, some biological facts about me:

  • Female (yes, despite my short hair and somewhat muscular build)
  • Age 59 (60 in a couple of months), aka near geezer
  • Height: 5' 2" or for you metric types 157.48cm. I'm a shrimp.
  • Weight: 111-114 lbs. depending on hydration status and some other things, or 50.35-51.72 kg
  • Important health factoids:
    • Post-menopausal (hit that milestone at age 52)
    • Hypothryoid. Yes I take Synthroid daily, 125mcg
    • Bradycardic: My resting pulse is typically 48 and my maximum heart rate is about 160.
    • Decent cholesterol profile. At last test, total 228, HDL 63, Triglycerides 81 (they've been lower I should work on that), LDL149. Cholesterol to HDL Ratio 3.6. It's all been better, but I'll see where it's at in about 6 months.
    • Osteoporosis: When I was first diagnosed (because I requested a bone density test), I freaked out. But, I know that this is fairly common in petite women, and my doctor praised me for my continued strength training. I do take Raloxifene HCL (generic form of Evista), and have not experienced any decrease in bone density in 4 years. I also take extra Vitamin D for this. I did get a TUE for the Raloxifene, as it was required.
    • VO2Max: Need to get retested, but last time I checked it was 58. Not too shabby!
    • Allergies and asthma: I have always had allergies that weren't extremely limiting, but they seem to have worsened over time. I am basically allergic to almost anything except foods, like dust, pollen, cats, dogs. I am not allowed to have cats anymore, even though I dearly love them. The asthma thing is new, after I had an asthma attack 2 years ago. I didn't land in the hospital, but my breathing was very compromised. I use Nasonex daily, albuterol before workouts (and sometimes other times of day depending on airborne allergens), and sometimes Advair. 
    • No ACL in left knee since 1982. At the time it was torn, doctors did not repair them. I have a brace, but only need to use it if I want to do side-cutting activities, which I generally avoid! But I did wear it back when I played volleyball and softball. I could have it repaired, but that would mean probably 6 months of no running, and as long as I do mainly linear sports, it's not an issue. However, the lack of ACL creates muscular imbalances that I am constantly compensating for. The missing ACL is on my left side.
Up until I hit menopause and for maybe 2 years after, I had my nutrition all dialed in, and I could calculate how many calories I needed daily based on my exercise output, and it was a snap to maintain a particular weight/bodyfat. But menopause did a number on me, and then the hypothyroidism didn't help. Turns out I've been hypothyroid for years--it was just a matter of being tested and catching results when I was experiencing symptoms. Which when you keep becoming depressed for no good reason is how we figured it out.

Anyway, both menopause and hypothyroidism fuck with your carbohydrate metabolism, which creates a logistical nightmare for an athlete such as me. I need carbohydrates to function and fuel my training, but I can't take in too much or my body will start laying down fat, which I don't want. I didn't cop to this until last year, after I'd put on maybe 8 lbs. which made me feel like a fucking blimp. I knew I had to change my diet, I researched, and just like any other fat person, knew I had to cut my carb intake. It's not like last year I was pigging out on starch. I wasn't. I wasn't eating candy. I was eating starchy carbs in moderation. But the amount I was eating didn't work for my activity level at the time. So I switched my dinners to feature just lean protein and a huge salad, and I dropped 8 lbs. over 3 months. That is how I was eating until this spring, when I "fixed" my Morton's Neuroma. But then I started training in earnest again. 

As I picked up my training, I found myself bonking on 2.5-3 hour workouts on the weekend. So I decided I was eligible to introduce more starches on Friday and Saturday nights. That worked great, but then around late April-early May, I kicked the training up a notch. And I found I needed to increase my carb intake again.

Now, sometimes people laugh or sneer at me like "tough problem to have" that I need to garbage up on carbs. It is NOT fun. I am small, and my stomach is small, so I can only put so much in there at a time, and I do strive for an overall good diet. But I also ascribe to some basic tenets of sports nutrition, and the Monique Ryan book I have from years ago tells me that when I am needing over 2500 calories a day (YES!) that it's OK to eat things like candy, so I'm doing that again.

Another problem I have is that hypothyroidism fucks with sodium metabolism. As you can imagine, managing my electrolytes is very important, and I am not yet at the point where I have that exactly right again. I used to have that all figured out, but things have changed. If I ingest too much, I will retain water for 3-4 days (to the tune of 5 pounds!). If I ingest too little, my workout suffers. If I'm working out in extreme heat, it seems I can go high on the sodium intake without the water retention, but I haven't figured out what is appropriate for other temperature variants. Generally speaking, I'm good with just Gatorade unless I'm working out 4+ hours then I switch to Infinit, and I have several custom mixtures with varying amounts of electrolytes that I am trying. It's time for me to keep track of what I'm ingesting again so that I can get this right for any training/racing conditions. Water retention isn't really that big of a deal, except that I feel like Puff Daddy, and most of it is in my belly and it makes me feel like not eating which is not a good situation.

Anyway, according to the FDA, here is how I am supposed to eat:

At the moment, it's actually more like this:
I am back to eating at night until I am actually quite full, almost uncomfortably full. I know I'm doing it right when I sleep well and have plenty of pep for my workouts the next day.

Yesterday I swam 3500 yards, ran 6.5 miles (easy pace) and lifted for 30 minutes. I did not eat any candy (sadly I am OUT!). Here is what I did eat:
  • Breakfast was a hard boiled egg on a toasted Blueberry whole grain English muffin, with about 1 tsp. seedless blackberry jam
  • Drank about 16 oz. Gatorade during the swim
  • 1 banana prior to swim (at 6:55AM), and 1 immediately after.
  • Post-swim (I was starving), had 3 eggs fried in butter (I was craving fat, and when I do that's what I eat) with 2 slices of whole grain toast slathered with butter. Then I took a nap.
  • 1/2 can of Coke just before I ran
  • 12 oz. Gatorade while running
  • 1/2 serving Endurox R4 right after I finished running
  • About 10 Pringles topped with my homemade muffuletta for a snack prior to lifting (I was hungry post-run)
  • Dinner was about 5 oz. spaghetti with chicken liver/mushroom sauce, including some Romano sprinkled liberally on top
  • 2 beers. One was Tyranena Bitter Woman, and the other was Magic Hat Electric Peel
When I woke up this morning, I felt hungry but not starving. I weighed myself and the scale read 116, and I was like WHAT THE FUCK??? But I see that I took in a boatload of sodium (in the muffuletta and Pringles), and my belly feels distended, so too much sodium makes Crackhead appear fat. The pasta sauce also has bacon in it, so there you go.

As you can see, I pay close attention to what I'm eating, with the objectives of:
  • Maintaining my lean body mass. I do not want to become emaciated. I'm carrying more muscle than I used to when I was training this much, and I would like to keep it that way, thank you very much!
  • Fueling my workouts and recovering from them. DUH.
  • Enjoying a variety of foods. Life is too fucking short to be a fucking perfect eater.
  • Taking in sufficient micronutrients. I do take a daily multivitamin plus additional magnesium just in case. The Endurox R4 also has a good hit of vitamins.
  • Not getting fat. On my frame, 2 lbs. are very noticeable. While I'm not actively going for a particular weight, I do know that I race well at 109-113 lbs.
Overall, I think I'm doing a pretty good job. Sure I could be more puritanical, but as long as the above criteria are being met, I think I'm doing just fine! Is managing these things difficult? Not really--it's become habitual for me. If I want to train at the level that I do, I absolutely must pay attention to my nutrition. I don't use training a lot of hours as an excuse to eat like crap, either. Yes, I occasionally will visit McDonald's after I work out 4+ hours, and I do like my 1 (sometimes 2) daily beer. I find it entertaining that every time I ramp up my training that I am always surprised at how hungry I can get, and how it feels like I am stuffing my pie hole 24x7. But then when I notice sleep disturbances and bonking, I realize I have to work harder at getting enough carbs. It's always a fun process!

Since I'm going to turn 60 this year, I thought I'd mention some birthday gift suggestions, just in case you are wondering what to get me:
  • A Loki action figure. These are hard to come by and/or expensive when taller than 6". I prefer this one, since it looks like Tom Hiddleston.
  • Pinarello Graal 
  • Sidi Drako MTB Shoes, Size 38.5 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Smiles and Tokens of Appreciation Go a Long Way

Over the years, I've encountered many people in my athletic, personal and work lives who have helped me in some way, and I try and help others whenever I can. I have many tokens of appreciation, some of which merely signify we are happy to know one another. When I look around my house, I see so many little things (I now have a policy against anything larger than about 6" any dimension) that came to me under happy circumstances. I have articles of clothing that were given to me that whenever I wear them remind me of the giver. 

I especially appreciate when someone gives me something that is "me." I have an Incredible Hulk action figure given to me by my good friend, William. I have a hot dog ornament that was given to me by a former coworker, Liz. I once sent Liz a box of candy and fucks, because I knew she would like the candy, and I also knew she was running out of fucks. I wrote FUCK on about 30 Post-It notes! I have a skull given to me by Lori, and when she gave it to me, she told me how she had searched for the perfect skull. It's an anatomical model, that some people wouldn't like, but I love it. I have many things from my BFF, Susan. From skulls to a picture of some wild asses we saw in Hawaii when we were there together when I was training for my very first marathon! Joshua gave me some decorative bottles that have skulls on them and little things inside that I immediately asked, "Are those candy?" Sadly, they are not. My favorite earrings were given to me by Shelley--they are heads in a jar from New Orleans!

Back in 2004 when I was fortunate enough to get into Ironman Hawaii via lottery, I was there with Susan and another friend, Judy. They were my support crew and put up with my moody ass. Here's the 3 of us in a convertible that I rented for our stay and I think we were on the road up to Mauna Kea. This was taken after the race, which explains my winning tan! 

I had such a good time showing Susan and Judy my favorite places on the Big Island after the race. Some time after we all returned to the mainland (sadly), Susan sent me that picture in a beautiful frame. I display the picture always in my living room as it reminds me of good friendship and a wonderful experience. 

On our last day in Kona, we went to Lulu's on Alii Drive. It's now closed. Strung around the railings were banners from the race that merely read Ironman World Championship. There were no sponsor names on it. I asked if I could have a piece of it, and they gave me about 10 feet worth! I took it home and it was precious to me; however, I have given pieces of it away to others--some as they qualified for Kona, and some for inspiration. I don't have any of it left myself, which at times makes me sad, but I hope that the recipients appreciate it.

I try and give people a token of appreciation when they do a favor for me. It's not because I believe in quid pro quo (or as I like to call it, Squid Pro Quo),

but it's just the right thing to do. Sometimes people turn me down, but I'm usually quite insistent on showing them how much I appreciate what they did.Yesterday I decided to go swim at Good Samaritan Wellness Center again. I figured it was worth it for the cool water and hot tub to pay the $15. When I got there (finally, after I'd started on cleaning/organizing my garage, applied a bag of sand to my patio, dropped off a ruined car tire for recycling and checked if I could still get some hanging flower baskets), Jamie was at the front desk, but so was someone else, and she took my information and I paid the $15. Jamie winked at me, and I engaged her in quiet conversation after I paid up, and I told here when my next 3 visits would be, and without saying anything out loud, I know she will let me in for free. Just as I did a few years ago, I am going to give her a bottle of wine for the favor. I remembered that she liked reds, and I did quietly say to her yesterday, "If I remember correctly, you like reds, right?" I didn't even need to say WINE. She remembered, too. So I bought a pretty nice bottle, since after all, I'm still saving money based on her generosity, and I even found a nice wine gift bag at home and thank you card.

Why has this woman been so nice to me over the years? Because I show up smiling! One time it was to go there at oh-dark-thirty to do my very first 10k swim. Many other times it was because my Y was closed on a holiday (now my Y is open almost every holiday) or it was closed for the annual cleaning. We've both aged, but she is much younger than me (I'm guessing 20 years?).  When I went to swim on Sunday, she asked me what was new, and I told her I'd left my job and was starting in on some ambitious athletic goals.

I've had my share of being depressed and/or surly, but my natural state is exuberant and smiley. Some describe it as "bouncing off the walls." Well, yes, sometimes it's like that, too! As long as I'm doing something I enjoy doing, I'm generally going to have a smile on my face and know that my own smile can infect others. I've experienced incredible sadness, too, like in 2006 and 2007 when my parents died back to back. I was a wreck for the better part of 3 years straight, and for months after each parent's passing, I could barely go out in public without crying. But there were many people who were incredibly kind to me and I will never forget that. During that time, I learned how to help others through their own grief process, and unfortunately, have had to utilize those skills regularly. To me, there is no greater gift you can give a person than to be able to help them through that shit. When you know the horrors of deep, crippling grief, you never want to see a friend or loved one go through that, but you do what you can for them.

I'm sure I'm not always as thankful/appreciative for what others do for me, but I am always trying to get better at it. There have been times in the not too distance past when I've been depressed and thought I didn't have many friends. But I am finding that in having the time and energy to reach out to them all now, that I've not lost any of the important friendships, and those people are willing to stand by me and support me in my goals. And that, my friends, is the greatest gift I could ever receive. I hope I can make them all proud not just for what I accomplish, but for who I have become as a person. Because while I love the athletic stuff, none of that is going to be important when I'm dead. What will be important is that I lived my life with joy and integrity and gave as much to others as they have given to me.

For at least 10 years, I've mentored or coached (typically for free) many people because to me, knowledge is useless unless you give it away. No offense to people who charge for that, and I may begin doing that again, but having a passion for something and sharing that passion with others is one of the best things in life. I love gardening and love it when people appreciate my yard as they walk by, and sometimes we chat about plants and stuff. I love training and racing, which is why I like to be well-dressed when I do it so it's obvious the joy I am experiencing, even when it sucks. There is too much good stuff in life to experience for one lifetime! But I am going to give it my best shot!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hot Tub Time Machine

My Y's pool is closed today through next Saturday. I wanted to swim today to help me recover from the 200k trainer ride I did yesterday, so I started hunting for alternate pools last night. I had thought I'd go to Naperville Y, but it turns out they are closed, too. This morning I tried contacting Elmhurst Y, and theirs is closed, too! So I decided to bite the bullet and go to Good Samaritan Wellness Center, which is about 2.5 miles from home, and is a very nice pool and facility and pay the $15.

I got there at about 8:20, and recognized the girl at the front desk, Jamie. In the past, she has let me swim there free (off the books) when my Y was closed.I bought her a bottle of wine a few years ago as a thank you for the favors. I filled out the waiver form and was more than happy to pay for just one day (there's another pool close by that is only $10 a pop that I will visit the rest of the week). Another woman came to the desk, a member of the facility, and she'd forgotten her card. I turned to her and asked if they gave guest passes, so maybe I could be hers. They only do it on odd days, so I hugged this complete stranger and said, "I'm your sister!" And Jamie let me in for free.

I got to the pool deck, grabbed a kick board and pull buoy and grabbed my very own lane! I got in, and the water was nice and cool, as compared to my Y which is usually too hot for me. I did my warmup and was predictably slow, but I didn't care. Immediately, I began wistfully looking over at the giant hot tub, knowing I'd be in there when I was finished to stretch and relax. I have a caffeine hangover from drinking the caffeine-laden Infinit yesterday. But the swimming felt great.

In looking around the pool area (there's a lap pool, a hot therapeutic pool, hot tub and sauna), I recalled racing here many times in the past, as part of the Midwest Indoor Triathlon Club Series during the first part of several years. I remember how much fun I've always had at those races (format is 10 minute swim, 20 minute stationary bike and 15 minute track run. Scoring is based on total distance covered, so it favors strong cyclists, like ME!), and where I would go at this particular pool to get body marked. Some of the volunteers would show up year after year, and several remembered me from having won in the past, and also that I always raced in a 2-piece bikini, as I was comfortable in it, and then I only had to put on bike shorts for the rest of the race.

I remembered that I'd won my AG many times at those races, and thought I should look it up when I got home. I swam an easy 2700 yards and then hit the hot tub, which was luxurious! I stayed in there about 25 minutes, and savored the strong jets massaging my quadratus lumborum, triceps, glutes and forearms. I got out, took a nice long, hot shower (it's rather cool here today but nice), got dressed, thanked Jamie with a smile and a wink, and came home.

I looked up all those races. Holy crap I won a lot of those things, and I tossed all the medals because I had so many a few years ago. Here's the tally:

  • 2003: Raced and won 3 out of 4 races.
  • 2004: Raced and won all 4 races and the series.
  • 2005: Raced and won 2 races.
  • 2007: Raced and won all 4 races and the series.
  • 2009: Raced and won all 4 races and the series.
  • 2010: Raced and won all 3 (starting in 2010 there were only 3 races--Good Samaritan dropped out) races and the series.
  • 2015: After a hiatus from these things, raced and won one of the races.
Now, these things are very local, but over the years, they became quite competitive with serious triathletes showing up, so I was always proud and honored to keep winning them. They gave me a serious dose of speedwork in the middle of winter, which was good training and also great motivation. There are several friends I still have to this day that I met at these things!  I first met a now pro triathlete, Thomas Gerlach, at one of these things. He would win overall, and was smiling broadly back then and he continues to do so today.

It became known that I was a beast on the bike, and many times I would have the overall best female bike split, unless a pro triathlete showed up. Several friends and I even tested out what would be the best way to maximize distance on the bike, which depended on how they were calibrated. We were fiercely competitive at these things! And yet I know some people who might consider it beneath them to race one of these. Too short, too small, indoors, blah blah blah. To me, a race is a race--whether it's on my own, inside, outside and whatever distance. It's all to the training good!

When I got home from swimming today. a friend met me at my house. He gave me a nice grocery bag full of home grown tomatoes! So I guess I'll be making some kind of sauce soon! I gave him some of the Muffuletta I made a few weeks ago.

In a few hours I'm going to have a cocktail with another friend who is here from out of town, and then I'm waltzing down the street to a neighbor's who is also a friend and we'll share a few beers and conversation.

What an awesome day I am having! It's nice to reflect on the past to see where it's brought me today, it's great to encounter and know such kind and generous people, and it's great to have friends to share the bounties of our lives with.

Life is really good!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

No Excuses

Today I rode 200k (124 miles) on the trainer. It took me 5:37.52, for an average of 22.09mph. I only rode on the trainer because there was a stretch of rain that I didn't want to ride in, and the women's Olympic triathlon was on TV anyway, so even though the rain stopped after I was about 2 hours in, I just stayed on the trainer. The triathlon finished when I was about 3 hours into the ride. Since I was on a roll, I just kept on the trainer.

I have gone this far on the trainer before. I have Ultra (and when I say Ultra I mean farther than Ironman distance) friends who have ridden 7+ hours on a trainer. We do what we need to do to achieve what we want to achieve. And we don't have any excuses for not doing what we need to do.

Over the years, I have had people proclaim the reasons I've achieved what I've achieved athletically, and those reasons are, in turn, their excuses for why they haven't:

  1. I'm single. Oh sure--I don't have to answer to anyone, but I also get to do everything at home--from taking out the garbage to grocery shopping to laundry to cooking to cleaning to home maintenance to disaster mitigation. So please don't tell me how easy my life is being single. Anything that goes wrong is 100% on me. 
  2. I (used to) work at home. This one I agree with to an extent. If I ever had an 8-hour a day job, I would agree 100%. But I have never had an 8-hour a day job except when I was in high school and college. I've worked ever since I was 15, and I worked about 20 hours a week in college. I was a workaholic in my 20's and 30's, but mostly loved what I was doing. Although I wasn't doing triathlon back then. But it was part of my evil plan to be able to retire as early as I did. Working at home has advantages and disadvantages--the biggest disadvantage being that people expected me to be available ALL THE TIME. I stupidly switched positions back in 2010 that led to a higher stress position that eventually was my undoing. So what I'm saying is that not all work-at-home situations are created equal. Be careful what you wish for! Although I will say the lack of a commute afforded me some extra time to at least decompress. But the reality is that I busted my ass to earn the right to work at home. And then I busted my ass some more. So it wasn't all working in my bathrobe and slippers eating bonbons.
  3. I don't have kids. Oh so it's OK to trot out your kids as an excuse for why you aren't doing something? Why don't you try that excuse in front of them? I wonder how it would make them feel? Aside from that, I do know many fine athletes who have kids and manage to make it work, and they aren't all rich with nannies and concierges. Frankly, I wish my own parents had been active. As it was, I made a point to be more active in spite of their laziness. I have tremendous respect for all parents. Raising healthy, productive and kind children is one of the most important jobs in the world. What's funny is I get people playing the kids card whose kids are grown and out of the house. So what is their excuse now? 
  4. I don't work (currently). So this one is new, and true for what I am doing right now. But it has nothing to do with my past and how I got to be where I am today.
I am not at all implying that everyone acts this way. But plenty of fellow athletes do. What do any of the above have to do with someone having a poor diet and being overweight? Nothing. What do any of the above have to do with someone overreaching either at race distance or fantasy race times? Nothing. A person should race at a distance for which they have the appropriate amount of time available to train (and recover from). Why bother doing long course triathlon if all you are going to do is complain about how you can't train enough or have crappy race times? I have never understood this mentality. I try my best to just smile and keep my mouth shut when these things come up, although the older I get the harder it is. The fact is I've worked my ass off for many years. It has been at my own choosing. I never complained about how I don't get any help at home or when I'm working 65 hours in a week. I've accepted what I've been able to do with no excuses. I've trained at a level consistent with the distances I'm racing. I've never had a "perfect" diet, but I've managed myself so that I don't find myself needing to lose 10+ pounds.

The only thing I am highly aware of is my age now. It would be nice to have started all this nonsense when I was much younger, but I suppose that is just another reason why I am trying to make the most of my fitness while I still have it. When something tells me to stop, then I will. Until then, I'm going to keep on keeping on with NO EXCUSES.

Friday, August 19, 2016

She's Baaaaaaaaaaack!

Welcome to my new blog! For reasons I can't discuss here, I have archived my old blog. This blog is a fresh start. My entire life is a fresh start!

WARNING: If you did not read my previous blog, sit down and maybe put earplugs in your ears. I write exactly like I talk, and that includes fucking cuss words much of the time. I don't always swear, but get me riled up (e.g., cut me the fuck off while I'm biking, be oblivious to normal lane mechanics in the pool or just be stupid or an asshole), and I will let loose. But you will also see that there is another side of me that is very much into nature, self-growth, math, art, music, cooking and trying to be a good human being. So if you can put up with the swearing, you just might find something here. But it's your choice--you don't like it--DON'T FUCKING READ IT!

I left my full time job on January 29, 2016. It was a voluntary exit. Why did I leave? Because the job interfered with my main hobby--TRIATHLON! I was stressed out, working far too many hours, and becoming depressed. So I said FUCK THAT after I figured out that I had saved enough money to pull the plug on that shit. I was also beginning to figure out how to resolve the Morton's Neuroma that I've had in my right foot since 2010. Since that time, I've tried countless insoles, metatarsal pads, new orthotics, different shoes and just fucking praying for the thing to go away. It caused the ball of my right foot to hurt while running. Not all the time--just once I was like 40 minutes in. That fucking sucked! Well anyway, the solution for me was:
  • Wider shoes. I measured my feet accurately and turns out I need to wear wide (D width) running shoes and some casual/dress shoes.
  • An ingenious fucking device--a toe ring! I bought a pack of 10 of these things only because my tri baby Brad convinced me to race (after a 13-month layoff!), and I wanted something better than what I had been using that might even stay on my foot while swimming. I had been using a cut off piece from a toe manicure toe separator.
Check it out! I wear this while running and biking, and sometimes with regular footwear. I don't need to wear it while wearing flip-flops or barefoot. Since I began this protocol, I have experienced ZERO pain in the foot! 

So, with my foot figured out and ALL THE FUCKING TIME IN THE WORLD TO TRAIN, I started training in earnest again in April. There's another event here that I can't talk about (which is the reason behind archiving the old blog) that coincided with all this, but guess what happened? I train for 2 months, start racing and start WINNING again! Needless to say, I start having fun (I love training, but I love racing and I LOVE WINNING!), and start thinking about where I want to go with all this.

About a month or so ago, I started thinking maybe a Double Ironman was in order. After all, I've done an Ultraman, and so a Double would really be no big deal (well not big for ME). The best fucking thing about being retired is that I can train like a fucking madwoman, recover from it, have time for a social life, and still enjoy my other hobbies like cooking, sewing, gardening, and well--have time to spend on home maintenance projects!

So I'm thinking about what I want to do with my triathlon chops, since my endurance never really went away. Check out my training hour history:
As you can see, despite my former job sucking the life out of me during 2014 and 2015, I still managed to put in a decent amount of training--although swimming was the one thing I dropped whenever I wasn't "feeling it," which is why my swimming currently sucks. BUT, I managed to not be pathetic in terms of biking. If I don't put in at least 5,000 miles in a year, I consider that pathetic. But the 2 prior years I was sneaking a bit of biking here and there, way too much fucking time on the trainer, and not really doing anything intense. Same for running--since I have a treadmill in my house, and I was working at home, I could always go downstairs and get a couple miles in.

Well fast forward to this summer, and much to my delight, I figure out that I can do as much as I want ALL THE TIME! Of course, I still need to be careful I don't go overboard, as I love this stuff so much that I will drill myself into the ground! So I started biking a lot more, and I rejoined my local bike club, and that got me motivated to start improving my biking so I could get back the speed I used to have and maybe even surpass it. 

If you had talked to me in April, you would have heard me say that I didn't think I ever wanted to ride another century or do another Ironman. But then a friend got me into Tour de Cure ride, and said the team I'd be on needed 100-mile riders. I figured I still remember how to ride 100 miles, and it would be a good opportunity to figure out if I wanted to go that direction again. But I didn't want that to be my first century, so I did one the week prior--the Udder Century on June 5. I would say that 20 miles into that ride, I was grinning ear to ear and thinking I FUCKING LOVE THIS!!! I was so happy, and I only had one low spot during that ride, but I pushed through. Udder Century was my first 100 since Ironman Cozumel in December, 2013! I rode by myself and averaged just shy of 17mph. Not bad for a century comeback, eh?

Towards the end of Udder Century, I met the membership coordinator for the Downers Grove Bike Club--Tim. I saw 2 guys wearing Downers Grove jerseys, and rode up to them and we talked, and I said I'd think about rejoining, and let's meet up after the ride. So I finish the ride and Tim and Bob come and sit down to lunch with me. The first thing Tim says to me is, "Do you ever ride with women?" I said, "If they are fast enough!" And thus began a new friendship and I rejoined the club, and Tim asked me if I'd considered a sub-5 century. Well, um...no. Keep reading.

A few weeks ago, my 2nd BFF, Lori (Susan is my 1st BFF and you will hear a lot about her, even though she doesn't do triathlons) and I are talking, and she tells me I can basically cherry-pick a Kona qualifier now. I have the time to train properly and travel whenever I want. That got me thinking.

Then just last week I had a revelation--I've never gone for the BQ (Boston marathon qualification), and I should see what my BQ time is. Well, it's 4:25, and I'm pretty confident I can knock that out. And in October I'm going to Vegas to spend time with Susan, run a 50k, then celebrate the fucking shit out of me turning 60. Then in January, I'm going back to Disney to do Dopey Challenge--I've done Goofy (1/2 and full marathon on consecutive days) 3 times, and it's about fucking time I collect the other medals (Dopey is 5k/10k/half marathon/marathon). So I'll be a running machine, and I should be able to collect the BQ sometime in the spring.

Then I remember Tim telling me I should go for sub-5 century, and you know what happens next--I publicly proclaim I want the BQ, the sub-5 and the KQ (Kona Qualification). And also to be able to do a handstand, which should be achievable quickly. So here I am! I have hired a coach, Nick (one of my tri babies--we met at Ironman Lake Placid some years ago), who I am going to entrust with helping me achieve my goals. First things first--he believes I can do all this. He knows how I like to train, he's done Ultraman and we've talked training and coaching in the past.

So now I get to embark on this new adventure of shooting for the moon! Curiously enough, there's a full moon, and so here we go!

I have one more multisport race for the year--a duathlon on 9/18--where I intend to win my AG. Although I want to do a 1/2 NothingMan (for those of you new to me and my terminology, a NothingMan is a self-supported triathlon) over Thanksgiving weekend, coach-permitting. Starting 9/5, I begin concerted run training for the 50k and Dopey.

It's going to be weird for me to be coached again, but I know that I need to rely on forces outside myself to help me with my ambitious goals. And I know I will also get a lot of love and support from my immediate friends as well as my extended Facebook network. Of course, I do have some anxiety about all of this--who wouldn't? Seriously, nearly every day now, I pinch myself because my life is so wonderful! Here my financial planner had been encouraging me to quit my job for several years, and since I didn't grow up with much money, I had been reluctant to quit, and was prepared to work to the age of 62. But as fate would have it, it appears all my stars have aligned and I am free to revel in all my Crackheaded glory!

Thanks for reading and I am so looking forward to regular blogging again!