Friday, September 30, 2016

Training Update

I made this meme this morning. It cracks the fuck out of me! I thought, "What would Thor say about not giving a fuck? THIS! Imagine Chris Hemsworth saying it!

I am now only 4 weeks out from a 50k. My last marathon was at Ironman Cozumel in December, 2013, and it wasn't pretty. My Morton's Neuroma was well ensconced, and my hypothyroidism wasn't well-managed. The race wasn't a disaster, but it was a big disappointment.

Fast forward to today. My Morton's Neuroma appears to be well under control. This past Saturday-Sunday I ran 3:03 and walked 2:12. Actually, I'm pretty sure I walked even more during Ironman Chattanooga. I also biked 25 miles on Sunday during the race. That is a lot of time on feet, and my right foot was just fine! I was in running shoes while I was on the bike to make things even worse, and a lot of that biking was done standing up.

In terms of the hypothyroidism, in cooperation with my doctor, I'm getting things checked frequently, and will stay on an every 8 weeks schedule from now on, as I'm formally training, and it's critical I be regulated properly. Prior to my recent test, I didn't get tested since April, and that was when I really started ramping things up. I knew I was out of whack recently due to the sleep disturbances and maybe 1-2 excess pounds. I know that sounds ridiculous but I know my body extremely well, and know that I manage my calorie intake really well, and with all the training I've been doing, there is no way I should be putting on weight. But it's not much, so all good.

Kudos to me for tracking my sleep and TSH levels against my training volume, because I can see when I'm likely to get out of whack, so hopefully I can manage this well now. I don't lose energy when I go more hypothyroid because for me it's mind over matter, but the body finds a way to punish you for trying to do more than it can physiologically support, and the way my body punishes me is with lack of sleep and a few extra pounds.

My quads were really sore through Wednesday this week from all the running on pavement and the standing up biking. I felt really good yesterday, so good in fact, that I lifted legs and then did a Sufferfest video--Local Hero--and did it quite well. The video SUCKS BAD. It is fucking hard, and yet I cranked it out really well. And then my quads were sore again! BRILLIANT!

Today I was scheduled for another 5200 yard swim and a 50 minute run. I was wary of my ability to perform either well after getting only 6 (maybe 5.5--not sure--hours of sleep) and with toasted legs. But I usually feel pretty good once I get in the pool, so I got in with a Coke in a bike bottle and got started. I really tried to dial down the intensity since I didn't care how fast I went this morning. But guess what? I'M GETTING FASTER AGAIN! FUCK YEAH! I know from past experience that I only get faster swimming when I'm putting in at least 9k/week, and I'm up around 11k now. And I'm only doing 3 swims per week--the big, huge one, and 2 shorter ones which this week were 2900 yards each. It's nice to see that despite the punishment I'm dishing out to myself that I'm improving again!

I decided to cut the run short by 5-10 minutes depending on how I felt. I got on the treadmill (it's been miserable cold, rainy, shit pissing fucking weather here) and fired it up and felt surprisingly OK! I mean my legs hurt, but running didn't feel that bad! I did Zone 1 and Zone 2 stuff on the treadmill for 26 minutes then went to the indoor track. I did a mile as 4x400, then a 200. Now, when rested I can run those things at 8:00 or less, but today was 8:30 which is good considering. I ended up running 45 minutes in all, and it wasn't bad.

After working out this morning, a new friend, Lucy, who is the grandma of a baby girl down the street bought me lunch. We had a great time and then I took a nap and I am coming around again. Now I can stare at my fucking training for the weekend--a 2:00 run/1.5 hour hike and a 1:30 run/1 hour hike. WHO THE FUCK WRITES THIS SHIT???

We are supposed to have rain tomorrow but dry on Sunday. My preference would be to do the longer of the 2 sessions on Saturday, but that will mean treadmill. Then again, running on treadmill will ensure I keep my pace down so maybe that's a good thing. As it is, I get eye rolling when someone at my Y hears I'm running 2 hours, but then when I tell them I'm going to walk another 1.5, I dunno, they might think I'm batshit crazy. But I am, and I COULD NOT GIVE A FUCK. I will have to take a cooler with me, because the one thing (and I've only learned ONE FUCKING THING IN ALL THESE YEARS) I've learned is that cold fluids keep me happy during long runs on the treadmill. So I guess I just made my decision! I will start off with a Coke and then degenerate to caffeine-laced Infinint. OH JOY!

Apparently, I did training like this back in 2009 when I was getting ready for a 50-miler. But now I feel like I'm actually in better shape than I was then. Isn't that weird? Maybe because I've had 2 relative "rest" years ("rest" in Crackhead terms is I'm still training way more than you, so shut the fuck up) or maybe because I'm turning 60 and it's magical or maybe there are unicorns in my butt. I just don't know. Yes, blah blah blah I have the most amazing base known to mankind, and that's true, but a huge part of this is MENTAL. And I'm mental, for sure! Seriously, I have to be of the mindset that I can do what I need to do to excel! My coach already has my psychology nailed--when I asked him if I could do Triple T, he said it would be a good training weekend. Then a few hours later he said, "But you have to win." I told him I can probably win my AG and hopefully also the Masters Female division. The first rule of winning is that you have to BELIEVE you can win. For the 4 stinky multisport races I did this summer, I would say that at the first one I had no idea but felt good, for the 2nd I felt pretty confident, and then the last 2 I wouldn't say I thought I was a shoo in but I was VERY confident.

But, I have to take things one day at a time. If I can nail all the running this weekend, I feel confident in my ability to conquer the 50k and be well trained to begin a final push for Dopey Challenge.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ironman Chattanooga Training and Spectating Report - Part 2

Saturday, September 24
On this day, my training called for a 1:45 run and 1:00 of walking. Lori needed to do a short brick workout and then check in her bike and her bags. The night before, both Lori and I took a melatonin and an Advil PM, so we slept like dead people with no alarm set. I got 9.5 hours of sleep! It's been months since I slept that long!

Since it was going to be FUCKING HOT again, I didn't want to use my Fuel Belt, so I dump the Gatorade out of a 12-oz. bottle and filled that with Infinit. That would last me for about an hour or so of running and walking.

After some breakfast (of course, I was STARVING when I woke up!), Lori set up her transition area and got her bike ready, and I was all suited up to run:

Lori left, then I left. I headed approximately northeast from Karen's house. I knew it would be hilly. It actually wasn't that hot when I started running at around 8:45. It was beautiful where I was running, but I had to run on the road which I almost never do, and it was cambered, and so I had to try and switch sides of the road otherwise my legs and feet would be fucked up. I ran out for about 30' then walked up this switchback that was VERY steep! It went up onto the mountain thing, and I stopped when I was standing on about a 25% grade. I could barely walk back down! But it was beautiful. On the way back, Lori drove by on her way to check in her bike. She remarked that that was about as fast as she'd be running (I was on a hill again!) on race day. I ran back and reloaded another 12-oz. bottle of Infinit. The first part of my run was 1:00.50 running and 14:17 of walking.

For the second part of my run, I went the other way from Karen's house, as it should be more flat, although as it turns out it was an uphill grade all the way out. On either side of the road were these very steep hills and at some point I decided I needed to go up one of them just to change things up. It was fun, as at the top, I was barely running, but it was still great!

For the second part of my run, I ran 46:27 and walked 45:55. I alternated running and walking on the second part since I was on asphalt again. I knew my legs would be sore from this, but oh well! Of course, during the second part of the run it was FUCKING HOT! I think I achieved a whole new level of suntan, too!

Back at the ranch, I showered, Lori came back, and she and I went into town and decided we'd get lunch and get carry out for our dinner later so she could have all her food in early, as is customary when you wake up around 3AM the next day for an Ironman. We went to a Mediterranean restaurant, Taziki's, where of course, I ate twice as much as Lori (I had dolmades appetizer and then a sandwich with rice on the side and she had only hummus):

Lori got a salad for later and I got another sandwich (it seems I eat a lot of sandwiches on these junkets). Lori needed to get some yellow ribbon that she wanted to wear in honor of her dear son, Patrick, who sadly passed away this summer, so we headed to Walmart. When we got to the mall where it was, Lori asked me if we had time for a mani/pedi. Hey--it's HER race, we can do whatever she wants! So we parked and decided she'd get the pedi and me the mani. When we got in there, I asked if we could have a beer while we were prettied up and they said YES. So I walked next door to a Mexican restaurant, and they said they wouldn't let me take it out, so I walked some more (did I mention it was FUCKING HOT again?), then ended up walking to the Walmart where I picked up a 6-pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (one of my favorite beers), and I also got the yellow ribbon that Lori needed. On the way out, I spotted one of the lifeguards from the Y and he recognized me! That made me smile (as do most things, except for certain things that don't). I gave Lori a beer and I picked the colors for our nails (neon green with green sparkles!), and we got fixed up:

We returned to the ranch where Lori had to get her final bag preparation done and I needed to get my shit together for race day! Did I mention my legs were already sore? Oh well, too fucking bad--I'm training for a 50k and that is going to be happening a lot! Here is Lori doing her final prep:
And that was all she wrote for Saturday.

Sunday, September 25
Holy shit! I swear that the way I do it when I'm in training that spectating and supporting at an Ironman is just as hard as the race! It takes much coordination, costume changes and leaves little time for food. I awoke at maybe 2:30 before my alarm that was set for 3:15. My first job was to have coffee ready for when Lori awoke. First I made mine, then prepped my own breakfast, and when Lori got up I had her coffee all ready to go. I needed to be ready to get down to the swim start with Lori, and then I would come back and run, then I would go back with my bike for the marathon.

We managed to leave on time at 4:15 and first stopped at transition so Lori could put stuff on her bike. Meanwhile, Karen went and retrieved a friend of hers to take her to the swim start. Then Karen (bless her soul she was such a workhorse for us!) came back to get Lori and me and drive us to the swim start. The race had buses for the athletes, but we were on the EXTRA AWESOME VIP SERVICE PLAN, so we got dropped off! It was so cool for me to be able to stand in line with the athletes. I made a trip for Lori to calculate about how many people were in front of her, and I guessed about 130, so she was pretty much up front. I absolutely love this picture of Lori and me in line:
Lori is wearing a pair of my earrings, and I am wearing her Ironman necklace and a tie that she gave me to wear in honor of Patrick, who was a rabid Star Wars fan. I had made a yellow ribbon thing and pinned it to the tie. Both Lori and I were sporting some temporary tattoos. Lori has some actual ones, too, but I have got her in the habit of adding a few for race day. I have a huge stash of them!

Most people in line thought I was racing, but no! I was actually a little chilly so early in the morning, but nothing I couldn't handle, as I knew it would be FUCKING HOT before long!

Time passed and soon enough, it was time for Lori to get suited up to start her day. Here she is all ready to go!
I wished her luck, sent her off, then I began making my way to the start area. I would walk down the point to point swim course, try and catch Lori in transition and maybe a few other peeps, then hook back up with Karen to take me home so I could do my run from there. Usually, I like doing my run on race day on the actual run course, but since I would be walking first and didn't yet have my bike, I needed to go back home anyway, so I thought I'd run there. Besides, the marathon course for IMCHAT is FUCKING HILLY! I didn't really need to run more hills.

The walk along the swim course was more like 3 miles, as the path alongside the river was quite winding. Here is one sample of people in the river:
The athletes, due to the time trial start, were basically spread across the entire length of the swim course! I was worried I might miss Lori in transition, so I hustled on my sore legs to get to the cramped area where people were trying to catch their athlete in transition. I finally spotted Lori but didn't get a picture of her coming in as it happened so fast, but I did catch her running to her bike because my aerohelmet is easy to spot:
You can see her kind of center with the red and white stripes on the back of her head. I was happy I saw her, and hung out a little more, but then knew I had to go run while she was on the bike and then shower and eat and show back up on my own bike!

Phew, I'm exhausted just writing this!

Karen retrieved me, and by now it was FUCKING HOT. The expected high for the day was like 95. I felt so bad for the athletes--I would have melted in those conditions, as I did in 2005 when I DNF'ed Ironman Wisconsin, that had a real high of 110 that day!

I repeated the allegedly flat part of running from Karen's house and got in my planned additional walking as well. Holy fuck was I getting time on my feet or what? But that's what happens at an Ironman. It was FUCKING HOT and I showered and got my bike onto Karen's rack and she drove me back down. By this point, I am already an exercising machine, and I am the fucking Energizer Bunny. I have to be in order to do this!

Karen dropped me off and I found a place for a brew and some lunch:

It was the Brewhaus, and it was on the marathon course. They asked if I wanted to make a sign for my people, and I declined, since I'd be biking all over the fuck place and wouldn't be holding up any signs! Lunch was delicious, especially since I knew that was basically IT for me eating until after Lori was finished! You just don't have time to stop and get and eat food because you are afraid you will miss your athlete or others!

So now I started riding my bike. It was FUCKING HOT, but I was only wearing a swimsuit (as planned) so my peeps could spot me. Plus I was wearing the Star Wars tie. I'm sure I looked like a fucking goof, but as you know I COULD NOT GIVE A FUCK.  I managed to get to the first part of the run course and camp out around Mile 5. I was pretty sure I'd see Ryan first (he being the fastest of the bunch of my peeps), and I got a nice spot in some shade with a volunteer. It was amazing I didn't vomit it was so FUCKING HOT. Finally, I saw Ryan come cruising up:
I think he was happy to see me, and why not? He looked great, and FAST! Then I had to begin the process of waiting for Lori, who I expected next. It took much longer than I expected to see her, and I didn't even get any pictures of her at this spot, because next she started telling me what to do and when (which I fully anticipated so no worries!), and I said I'd do my best, even though it was already becoming difficult to navigate around this marathon course due to the bridges and roads and paths and such. But it was my job so I had to do it, right?

At this point, it would take me 2 months to write every detail, but let's just say I managed to see my friend, Rich, and I shepherded him at a point when he thought he was going to be chasing the cutoff, but he made it, and I saw Ryan again with just a few miles left to go in his race (he did AWESOME!), then I relocated Lori and rode near her for her last few miles all the way into the finish line, and I was SO HAPPY for everyone who managed to finish this race on a bitch of a day!

After Lori finished, it wasn't too long before Rich came out of transition and I was so happy to see he'd finished and he'd done SO WELL! Karen picked up Lori and me, and we went back to the ranch. I let Lori shower first, as she is the athlete. Meanwhile, I checked my bike computer and it turns out I'd ridden 25 miles! Who knows how much I walked and ran, too? All I know is I was tired and low on calories. After Lori showered, I did, and then we cracked open the bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne that I brought with me to celebrate:
Karen looked up a lot of results and there were a whole shitload of DNFs. So sad, but honestly, I expected it.

I will end here on a good note: I am SO PROUD of Lori, Ryan and Rich for finishing on such a tough day, and I am so honored I got to be out there for them. I think it was sometime during the marathon that I figured out another reason I love Ironman so much--not just doing it, but being there at a race--because I get SO MUCH ENERGY from it. These people give ME energy. It is the diametric opposite of people who SUCK your energy from you. That is why no matter how much training I am doing while I'm at one of these things, I feel great!

On that note, I hope you enjoyed reading this, and guess what? I'm going to do it again in 2 weeks at Ironman Louisville! However, that is not so far from home, so I will drive to Indianapolis on Saturday to meet Shelley, and then we will drive down and stay for Sunday. So I won't need to pack all my triathlon shit. I will still do a long run on Sunday, this time probably on the course, and I will be on LGL for the marathon. I am looking forward to it and I'm already tired in advance!

Ironman Chattanooga Training and Spectating Report Part 1

I decided months ago to attend this race in support of my 2nd BFF (or as we now like to say, my younger sister!) Lori, as she was racing and needed the support after one of her sons, Patrick, passed away this summer. I've supported Lori at Ironman Wisconsin twice, and she knows that I have pretty great Sherpa skills, and we would drive down together, so the trip was all set up.

A whole shitload of pictures have been posted to Facebook, so I'm not going to include them all in this post!

Wednesday, September 21
Lori flew from Denver (she now lives in Boulder) to Chicago and picked up a rental car. She stayed with her son, Jon, and planned to pick me up the next morning to drive down to Chattanooga.

I had moved my own workouts for the week around knowing that I wouldn't be doing anything on Thursday, so on Wednesday I ended up swimming, biking and running. I also needed to mow my lawn on Wednesday. Normally I would swim first thing in the morning, and I got ready to do that, but decided to go to Home Depot first to see if they could help me with a project. While cleaning out my garage in advance of Garbage Amnesty Day (you pay for 4 cans of garbage and then you can throw out unlimited amounts of crap), I found a long length of copper pipe. I decided I wanted to make it into a cube. My neighbor, Chuck, cut the pipe into 9" lengths for me, and so I need corners to connect the pieces. He delivered them to me all nice and bundled up!
I loaded my swim bag into my car and got to Home Depot around 6:15. I had fun chatting with 2 of the employees about how to do what I want to do. Bottom line was they don't have the parts I need. What I really want is a 3-way COPPER corner, but that doesn't exist, so I'm going to improvise with red PVC once I talk to a company who makes that about how I could join the two.

Anyway, I leave Home Depot and the sky is beautiful with the sun coming up, and I'm excited to get to swimming. I walk out to my car, get in and look north, and am like what the fuck is coming here? The sky was nearly black, so I check my phone and there is an ugly looking storm front coming down and we are going to get rain SOON. So I rush home so I can mow at least my back yard before it rains, because if I don't, I won't be able to do it and will need to ask my neighbor to do it. He would, but I didn't want to impose. So I get home, leaving my swim bag in my car, and I get to mowing all while looking at the approaching black clouds. For some reason, though, I wasn't scared. I would have taken pictures, but I didn't have time to stop! There was a shelf cloud, and then some mammatus clouds, and those things usually mean bad weather! But I managed to get my back lawn done (it took about 20 minutes) just as the raindrops began to fall, and then it started raining really good, and I was like PHEW! My front lawn would survive not being mowed since it had been really dry and it gets a lot of shade and never grows as much as the back.

So now I was like, OK when can I swim? I'd missed the morning lap time, but could resume again at 9:30 and basically had until 11:30. I decided I'd run first indoors since it was still raining, and then swim, and I would bike later. So I packed up run gear and headed to the Y. I ended up running 10' on the treadmill and then the rest on the indoor track. I got in a nice quickie of a track workout! I was actually running much faster than I've seen in MONTHS!  Yay for fucking me!!! After the track workout, I headed to the pool and swam my 2800 yard workout.

Then, I was scheduled for 1:30 of biking, but knew I'd end up biking during the marathon at IMCHAT, and I was now running out of time to be all packed for Thursday, so I cut the bike short to 1 hour and did it on the trainer to avoid spending extra time making a bottle and all that. Besides, the roads were now all wet and full of crap. I finished biking at about 1:30. Then I got to my almost final packing. I had all the food crap and gear crap organized. I also like my house to be relatively clean when I go away, so I worked on that.

Thursday, September 22
I woke up probably 2:30AM after sleeping for 6.5 hours. Yes, that is how I have been sleeping for almost 2 months now. I had my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) retested, and as I suspected, it's out of whack. My thyroid is UNDERperforming again. Seems odd, right? You'd think that since I'm sleeping less it would mean I was becoming hyPERthyroid, but I know my body, and what's happening is that since I've been training super hard, my poor thyroid is trying valiantly to keep up with me and failing. Anyway, in a few weeks as I increase my Synthroid dose, the sleeping issue should take care of itself.

But I needed the time on Thursday morning to choose my training and regular clothes and get it all organized, as Lori would be picking me up around 6:30AM. I got it all done and she arrived, and she'd rented a mid-size car, so all my crap fit in there. I had clothes to run in 3 times, La Gazza Ladra, which I'd ride during the IMCHAT marathon, my wetsuit in case I decided to swim in the river, a bag of fluids (Gatorade, water, Infinint, Endurox R4), a bag of bottles (bike bottles, Infinit mixing bottles and a Fuel Belt), a bag of car snacks, a bag of dry foods (including wine and champagne, crackers, bananas, English muffins), my regular clothes and a cooler containing cheese, Coke, water, hard boiled eggs (Lori and I love those for breakfast), sandwiches for the road, and some string cheese. I also brought my skull aerohelmet that Lori planned to wear unless she found a new one at the expo. All that crap fit into the car nicely!

The rest of the day was driving. It was about a 10-hour drive, and then we lost an hour moving into the EST timezone, to get to Hixson, TN. Lori's friend, Karen, graciously volunteered to put us up for the trip. We arrived, unpacked our stuff, and then Karen, Lori and I went into town and ate dinner right next to the transition area.

On our way back to the car, who should flag me down but one of my former coaches, Rich Strauss? It was nice to see him! He was there training for Kona and supporting his athletes. We chatted briefly, got a picture and were on our way:

I ended up staying up later than I should have, but it was worth it to spend time talking with Karen about some mutual bad life shit we have experienced. I then slept really well.

Friday, September 23
On this day, my training called for a 5k swim workout and a 40' run. I was aware of the athlete-organized river swim, but decided I'd rather be away from that for the day and instead go swim at the YMCA. At 5PM, I'd agreed to meet my friend, Rich, who I met on a bike ride in July and was doing his very first Ironman at IMCHAT, at the Underpants Run, so there would be about 2 miles of running in that. Lori needed to retrieve her bike and ensure it was in working order and check herself in.

Karen dropped me off at the Y at about 7:30 or so. I had swim stuff and run stuff. I figured I'd swim first and then run about 2 miles inside, since it was FUCKING HOT and I would be running more later. The downtown Chattanooga YMCA is an awesome facility, and the people are really nice. I had to fill out a waiver form, but with my YMCA pass, I got in for free. They have a dedicated lap pool, so I didn't have to worry about when lap time was available.

I chatted with some women in the locker room and then decided to check in on someone else who was racing--Ryan--because we were maybe going to meet up in the afternoon. It turned out he would be driving in from Memphis leaving around noon, so we agreed to just meet up for dinner. I ended up wasting some time and not getting in the pool right away, and didn't start swimming until 8:20. Here is the evil Ironman-style workout I did:

WU: 800 your choice
1200 at race pace, 1' RI
3x600 30" RI at race pace and last 50 of each a sprint
1200 pull w/paddles race pace or faster
CD: 200

So it's 5200 yards total. I'm doing this workout through October and then I will begin adding yardage to my Friday swims to prepare for a 10k swim on New Year's Eve or Day. I ended up PR'ing the time it took me to do the workout! This made me happy! I got out and spent a few minutes in the hot tub, then headed to the locker room to shower and change into running clothes. I made the transition then headed to a treadmill. After I ran for maybe 10 minutes, I had to go potty, so I left my stuff on the treadmill, then came back and some guy was on my machine! I was like WTF wasn't it obvious *I* was using it? I didn't say anything and just grabbed my Gatorade and cup of coffee (YES THEY HAD FREE COFFEE IN THE LOCKER ROOM!) and moved to a different machine and finished up.

I hadn't really sweated all that much, and I knew it was FUCKING HOT outside, and that I'd be sweating like a pig, so I just left my running clothes on. I drank my Endurox R4, left the YMCA, and walked to the expo. I let Karen know I was finished and to let me know when Lori would be done with her massage and then they would both be at the expo.

I walked into the expo and what should I see but a BEER BOOTH! I was like FUCK YEAH THIS IRONMAN IS AWESOME! It was Sierra Nevada to boot! $5 for a beer! YES PLEASE! I'd already had the Oktoberfest, so I opted for an IPA that was DELICIOSO! Walking around an Ironman expo with a beer? DOES NOT SUCK! Of course, everyone was looking at me and figured I was racing, because people tell me I look like one of those people who does those Ironman things. Karen called and let me know they were on their way, and so I meandered around with my beer. I was able to get a Little Debbie bike bottle (they were happy to give them to anyone!) that I will cherish. I wandered around and saw a girl at the Zoot booth wearing MY RUNNING SHORTS, so I went up to her, and turns out it's someone I met years ago that still stalks my blog! It was hilarious! This is Kate:
We were laughing our asses off about life and where we've been and what we are doing now. I didn't remember Kate at first, but was really glad to catch up with her! As you can tell, we had a giant laugh fest!

I got a call that Lori was arriving, so I had to leave Kate and meet Lori and Karen at the bike tech area. I was out of beer, so I picked up another one. I know from all the times I've sherpaed in the past that I need to grab any form of calories whenever I can because I am going to be running low no matter how often I manage to stuff my pie hole. Besides, did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

Yum--beer.  Bike tech couldn't fix Lori's brake issue, so we got out of there and I don't remember what happened for lunch, but we ended up visiting 2 bike shops and got Lori's bike all squared away, I bought a new pair of sunglasses ( I NEED TO BE FASHIONABLE AT ALL TIMES), and then we headed back to Karen's house to reconnoiter, and I needed to get ready for the Underpants Run. I made a plate of cheese and crackers for Lori and me, and we cracked open a bottle of wine I'd brought with me. Yum! I showered (see I told you I was going to be all sweaty again) and changed into my UPR clothes with some real clothes over them, we ate and drank a little, and headed back to town.

We parked near Rich's hotel, got out, and then met him and we began walking to where the UPR started. It was at least a mile. I felt bad for Lori (who wasn't running) that we were making her walk, but I was cool with it, and we had a million laughs on the way. Rich is a real character! We got to the running store where the run started, and Rich paid my $10 and I dropped off my canned goods donation, and we disrobed and Lori held our clothes. I think Rich and I were styling for the run:
I made that bra. It's funny that I rarely wear a bra (I have nice pecs but not what I'd call boobs), but it looks like I have proportional boobs to my frame, I guess. Of course, even at 5:30PM, it was FUCKING HOT. All the racers were laughing and we looked around at everyone and then it was time to go. We ran from the store up to the Pedestrian Bridge
and over it and then we stopped for calisthenics (jumping jacks basically), and then the leader did a thing where he asked how many were first-time Ironmen/women. Then he asked who had done at least 5, then he kept upping the number, and you left your arm up if you'd done that many. It came down to me and one guy, and I guess the leader couldn't believe I kept my hand up. Anyway, my current count is 18 and there were no women there even close--although IMCHAT would be Lori's 17th! Then there was a guy there who has done 30! Lots of people came up to me and said I was awesome and a few young women said they want to look like me! How very flattering! I try...

Then we ran back to the running store where we each got a glass of beer and a beer glass!

Wow, so the day wasn't yet over--we walked back to our car and left Rich at his hotel, and Lori and I headed back to Karen's so I could shower (AGAIN, BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING HOT) and change for dinner.

Karen drove Lori and I to Bi-Bas's Italian restaurant, and Ryan met us there. We had a great time, and the food was great!
Just before we left, Xavier arrived with his friend, Billy. Unfortunately, we had to go, but it was nice running into them! Xavier had stayed at my house a few weeks ago when he was here to do the Big Shoulders 5k swim in Lake Michigan. He will also be doing the Double Ironman next year in Portland when I do it as a team with my friend, Brad.

Well, so that was one helluva day, right? Did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

OK so this post is getting long, so I am going to split into 2 parts. END OF PART 1!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Resurrected Post from my Old Blog--The Hidden Time Costs of Ironman Training

I originally wrote this in April, 2008. I was training for Ironman Lake Placid.

When people talk about how many hours they train for Ironman, you usually hear numbers like 12-20 hours per week once you're about 12 weeks out from a race (as I am--FUH-UCK!). But like I always say, it ain't just the training that makes it hard. I keep track of the actual time (and mileage and assorted crap) I spend training and racing, plus sleep and stretching. But when a person is thinking about embarking upon training for an Ironman, the table below is what they really need to know before considering whether they have enough time for it. I'm sure I've missed a few things, so please comment away!

Bike Maintenance
3 bikes, 3 tuneups plus 1 for Ironman, 5 trips to bike shop per season at 2 hours per trip
Costume Changes
3 rides per week; 2 costume changes per ride; 10 minutes per change
Downloading, storing and analyzing workout data
3 rides per week; 5 minutes per ride
Fondling…er…washing bikes
1 or 2 bikes once per week; 1 hour weekly
Ride Preparation
3 rides per week; 20 minutes per ride
1 ride per week; average 2 hours
Reading and commenting on other blogs
30 minutes per day
Writing Posts
30 minutes per day
Reading tri mags
10 minutes per week
Online forums (questionable)
15 minutes per day
Reading occasional tri books
5 minutes per day
Stalking other athletes' race results
10 minutes per week
Extra Shaving, waxing and assorted hair removal
3 times per week
Extra Showering
1 per day; 15 minutes
Gazing at self in any available mirror
Um…10 times per day?
Um…extra "self-care" because you're so jacked up all the time
Once or twice a day; 10 minutes if female otherwise 1 minute each
Taking, downloading, uploading and organizing pics for Flickr and Blogger
10 minutes per day
Bottle Preparation
15 bottles per week; 1 minute per bottle
Bottle Washing
15 bottles per week; 1 minute per bottle
Extra eating
3 extra feedings per day; 5 minutes per feeding (eat fast!)
Checking the weather forecast
15 minutes per day
Extra time available during tapers
3 times per season; 10 hours per taper
Thinking about it all the time
Figuring out your training schedule
1 hour per week
Making lists of shit you need to do
15 minutes per day
Looking at race photos online
15 minutes per day
5 days
Costume Changes
5 runs per week; 2 costume changes per run; 10 minutes per change
Downloading, storing and analyzing workout data
5 runs per week; 5 minutes per run
Run Preparation
5 runs per week; 10 minutes per run
Online and in person shopping for crap
5 minutes per day
Costume Changes
3 swims per week; 2 costume changes per swim; 15 minutes per change
Downloading, storing and analyzing workout data
3 swims per week; 5 minutes per swim
Not swimming because you're yakking, flirting or otherwise distracted by scenery
3 swims per week; 15 minutes per swim
Travel to/from pool or other body of water
3 swims per week; 10 minutes per trip
Changing all the extra clocks and timing devices
5 extra timing devices; twice per year; 30 seconds per device
Hitting splits on your watch
About 200 times per week; 1/2 second per looking at timing device and hitting the button

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Woodstock Duathlon Race Report

HOLY FUCKING CRAP! I won my AG today. I was classed in 60-69, but I thought the skinny chic in the picture above would beat me. Nope! Not only did I win, but I was 2 1/2 minutes faster than I did 2 years ago, and I am training harder than I was 2 years ago, and well, I am just amazed that this is happening! Of course, I didn't taper for this--I'm training for a 50k!

I was trashed on Friday after a bunch o' running. I was supposed to run :40 and bike 1:15. I did the run, and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't at all fast, BUT, I ran all the hills on the route. When I got on the bike, I was like I have ZERO power, so I cut it short to :53.

Yesterday I swam a 5k workout. People think I do long, straight swims. Nope. This was a hard fucking workout: 800 warmup, 1200 race pace 1'RI, 3x600 30"RI at race pace with last 50 sprint, 1200 pull with paddles, 200 cooldown. That workout fucks you up. I did it last week, too, the day before my 1/2 marathon. A 5k swim isn't really a big deal, but when you do those intervals and end with the paddles, it fucking sucks. But I love it!

After I swam, I went grocery shopping and then tried to take a nap but failed. Then I went to my bike club's picnic, and that was fun. When I got home, I did finally take a 1.5 hour nap, which was really good. Except that I was groggy for about 30 minutes after waking up, because that much nap time will do that to you.

I then started thinking about what do I want to wear, etc., and I had my shorts picked out, then I selected a top, but figured I'd leave the rest until this morning. I did switch from the blue Louis Garneau winged aerohelmet to my new white POC, because I figured I could get the white helmet on and off quicker.

I got to sleep early (around 8PM) but kept waking up as is typical before a race. At 2:45, I decided, fuck it, close enough (alarm was set for 4:15), and got up. I mostly spent time on Facebook and tried not to be nervous. I still get nervous before races--I get dry heaves, I pace--all that shit--but it's part of the ritual, so I am happy that I still do it.

At 4:30 I thought I better eat breakfast (I'd already been drinking coffee), and had my usual hard-boiled egg on a toasted English Muffin with some jam. It was tasty. Then I checked my box of arm warmers and other cold weather gear and found my neon arm warmers! I thought they were too tight, but they fit just fine now (guess I was FAT when I bought them!). I brought some other things in case I wanted to change, but I thought those were good and since it was going to be cool, calf sleeves. 

At about 5:05, I started getting dressed after putting in my contact lenses and brushing my teeth. I swear I pooped like 6 times this morning! It felt good to put on the clothes (I'd already put Bitch in the car as well as cooler). It is nice getting ready for a duathlon--none of that swimming nonsense!

I drove to the race site--about 61 miles from my house--and had no recollection of having raced there before until I got to the park--Emricson Park. Then I was like OH FUCK THIS COURSE IS HILLY. But, hey, it is what it is. I remembered I'd gone there in 2014 with a friend, and she drove, which is probably why I didn't remember.

I set up Bitch, and they have these nice bike racks:

I didn't like the bike number sticker, but what the hell. I was ECSTATIC that I got #11!!!

In my head, I wasn't thinking I was going to win today, but I knew I'd enjoy myself. It was picture-perfect weather, and today was my last multisport (official anyway--I plan on a 1/2 NothingMan over Thanksgiving weekend if my coach lets me do it) event of the year, so in a way I was sad.

But I wore a necklace that belonged to my Mom (fake diamond--who the fuck cares?), and I had some of my Dad's ashes in my jersey. So no matter what, I would be accompanied by 2 of the people I loved most in the world. They would give me some strength, and then the rest would be up to me.

Debby Jones said she'd be there because her husband was racing, and I saw her right away. When I met her husband, Bob, I said I knew him, but we'd never met. I know I've seen him at several local races. Here we are pre-race looking like fucking badasses:
We got ready to go, lined up, and then the horn blew. There are no chips in this race, so it's a mass start and everyone goes at once. Immediately, I felt old and slow. Lots of people flying by me, and all I thought was, "Do your best. That's all you can do."

The run course is fucking hilly--like 4 major hills over 2 miles--but I felt strong on the hills albeit slow. I didn't care what my pace was, and didn't look at my watch. I just know I was so happy to get on Bitch and begin my bike leg.

Right away on the bike, I felt pretty good. Not great--but not bad. I started passing people pretty early, and started counting. And I would sight on the next person and plan on passing them. In all, I passed 27 people and 1 tractor. Yes, a tractor! I was like, what the fuck, do I have to pass THIS? But it made me laugh.

When I got to transition, I quickly switched gears, and was like, well at least my legs don't feel that much worse! And I wondered how many people would re-pass me. As it turns out, only 9. And they were FAST runners. Still, I didn't know how well I'd done, but was happy I finished with what I felt was a solid effort. Here I am all fucking happy I'm done:
Really, I had had a great time! What's not to like about a short race where you pass a bunch of people on the bike? But I didn't know how I'd done rank-wise until they started announcing the awards. I heard something about 60-69 and though I was toast, then I heard MY NAME! Turns out I'd heard the 2nd place woman and I came first! How about that!

I was so happy (first picture in the post), and still am. This was my final multisport race of the year, and it makes me sad, but I'm moving on to bigger and better things now. Still--I feel like I've come a long way in a short amount of time doing pretty major training! Seriously, I was afraid I'd lost it and couldn't show up and race well. But I guess I can. Now I race with such joy that any winning is gravy!

But I have to say that winning is fucking fun!

Running with the Devil

On 9/5 I began my formal training for the 50k in October and Dopey Challenge in January. This entails a lot of running. A lot of running is dangerous territory for me. I've done it before, but it's had consequences--maybe not while I was doing the training but months later.

My prior encounter with a lot of running was in 2009-2010 when I trained for and then did Ultraman Canada. I was in fantastic shape and just kept pushing my own envelope. It resulted in foot problems that nearly derailed Ultraman Canada, and that ultimately became what is a Morton's Neuroma in my right foot.

The neuroma isn't gone--it's just under control. So I never really know if it's going to rear its ugly head again. Yesterday I noticed slight tenderness in the ball of my right foot, but I expected some of that as I go through this training phase.

Speaking of it, I never really posted what the fuck the planned training looks like. So here it is (I left out the week of 9/5 that is already over):
I'm only showing you through the 50k because this is where the dangerous training is.

The point of this is to run my fucking head off, hopefully in a safe way. It is similar to the training I did for a 50-miler in 2009. I'm actually going a bit over what I need to do, but remember that after this, I will be doing Dopey Challenge which is 48.6 miles of running in 4 days.

When you look at the training hours, it doesn't look like much. But what you don't see in there is lots of walking to supplement the running. I just didn't bother setting up my training spreadsheet to account for planned walking, since I don't do that very often. I will be walking 1:45 to 2:30 after the double long runs on weekends (or wherever I placed them). Again, doesn't sound like much, but it's all TIME ON FUCKING FEET. This past week, I did a 1-hour run/1-hour walk on Wednesday, and on Thursday I did a 1:30 run/1 hour walk. Let me tell you how I felt on Friday. Trashed. When I walk, I walk in my running shoes. They aren't made for walking, but this simulates what might happen in the 50k. I'm not racing that thing--the point is to have a nice, long run in a beautiful place to celebrate my 60th birthday, and that will serve as one helluva training event in preparation for Dopey Challenge.

I used to think walking was boring, but when you do it in nice weather in a nice place, it's really enjoyable, and there isn't the pounding of running. I try and keep myself to 15mpm when I walk, and I usually do, just because there isn't any extreme terrain where I live.

What's funny is I live only .8 miles from my Y, so you'd think I walk there all the time. But I don't, because sometimes I am bringing stuff to both swim and run there, and other times because I am already getting plenty of exercise, and extra walking is noticeable to me. But when someone asks me why I don't walk there, I sometimes say, "I'm lazy." 

Now, only 6 months ago, I couldn't go for walks without some amount of foot pain, so I am very thrilled now that I can go for walks and I can be on my feet for extended amounts of time! It was making me depressed to always have some amount of pain, but it was something I was willing to live with. But now when I walk, I walk with impunity! Sometimes I'm sure other people walking think all I do is walk, and it makes me laugh. I get competitive about it, but just like when I'm running, I'm smiling! Sometimes I feel so sad for people who are out walking or doing other exercising, and they look like someone has a hot poker up their ass. If you hate it that much, DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR FUCK'S SAKE! There are unlimited forms of exercise--find one! Not to mention it's still summer and the weather has been glorious and there are all sorts of flowers still blooming and squirrels scampering and birds chirping and flitting about, so what's not to smile about? I will stop and pet anyone's dog (after asking if he/she is friendly), and I wave and say hi to all walkers, joggers and cyclists. I absolutely love it when a cyclist sees me running or walking and gives me the nod or the wave. I think they can tell I'm in pretty good shape, but nonetheless, I'm smiling!

So, with a devil on my shoulder, I shall proceed with this training. I just hope there's an angel on the other shoulder!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Evil Plan is Working

I know that sometimes other people think my training is psycho, and even *I* sometimes think it's psycho. But much of the time, there is very much knowledge and planning behind what I'm doing.

Today, I was scheduled for a 1:30 run and :45 walk/hike. This is part of training for the 50k I'm doing in October (see sidebar). Yesterday I did a 1 hour run and 1 hour walk/hike, so the point of today was to get at least 2 hours on my feet. This trains me to be "on my feet" for long periods of time, which when you train for trail races, is a good way to train without beating the crap out of yourself.

However, I have been beating the crap out of myself--my legs anyway. I raced Sunday on gnarly legs, and my quads have been beat to hell for at least 3 weeks. But nothing I can't tolerate or haven't experienced before.

Today was really cool because I didn't even start running until noon. And I didn't eat lunch first. And the weather was about like it's going to be in Vegas in October when I do the 50k. And I would have been about 5 hours into it. And I ran on crushed limestone in my trail shoes, and there were rocks and gravel and grass, and I used the hydration thing that I plan to use in the 50k. So it was basically a PERFECTLY STAGED TRAINING RUN! In fact, I kept thinking that my quads will be pretty toasted about 5 hours into the 50k (depending on the terrain--there is NO COURSE MAP to be posted! It's to be a fucking SURPRISE!), and I will likely feel hungry.

So when I finished running, I jotted down a few notes about what I want in my drop bag (Albuterol inhaler, change of socks and shoes, CANDY!, etc.) and so even though I'm only 6 weeks out from the 50k, it's already time to begin thinking about it. So among the things I need to do is to ensure I'm mentally prepared, as well as physically and also prepared for contingencies.

My legs hurt when I started to run, but that's OK, it was a FUCKING GLORIOUS DAY! I was so happy to be out in the prairie flowers and woods and I even ran some hills, and I know I was smiling the entire time! Before I ran, I walked about a mile to my bike shop, and after I finished running, I walked about 2 miles, then later I went back to the bike shop and walked there, so I got in at least 4 miles of walking today. TIME ON FUCKING FEET!

And I still feel OK, but I think I need a buttload of carbs--I'll get to them!

Tomorrow, all I have to do is a 1:15 bike and :30 run, and I do need to do :30-:45 of strength. And then Saturday is only a 5k swim workout, and then


It's only a 2-mile/12-mile/2-mile, but what the hell, I will have a blast no matter how my legs feel! And then it's only a couple of days before I get to go be BEST SPECTATOR EVER at IMCHAT in support of my 2nd BFF, Lori, and some other really awesome people I know. 

I do not have a time goal at the 50k, although 13-min. miles would be nice. The point of it is to get in a nice, really long run, in preparation for Dopey Challenge. So I'm sticking to my plan, and so far, so good! I'm not conventional, but I get the job done!

Monday, September 12, 2016

All the Eggs Are in the Basket

As you know, I've selected my target races for the 12-month period over which I intend to:

  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon
  • Qualify for Kona (Ironman Hawaii)
I officially began training for these things on September 5. Yesterday was the first race I did for the period. Races will calibrate where my actual fitness is, which then is used to plan my training and ensure that I am capable of meeting my goals.

The Naperville Trails 1/2 marathon was well run and took place in the Danada Equestrian Reserve, which is not too far from my house. I met my friend, Matt, there. The race started at 8:30, which was a bit late for our liking, but nothing you can do about it. The race was 100% on crushed limestone except for the last about 1/2 mile, where you run in on the grass horse track! There were some rolling hills, but nothing I would call "hilly."

My last 1/2 marathon was 4/12/2015 in Denver and I went 2:20. Yesterday I went 2:13. Not great for me, but the good thing is that my right foot didn't hurt one iota! In fact, yesterday was the first 1/2 marathon or more where my foot hasn't hurt since 2011! So actually I was ecstatic about my result, especially since I didn't taper and I went in with sore legs from last weekend's biking festival (50 miles fast with the A group of my bike club on Saturday, then 3 hours of Sufferfest videos on Sunday) plus 2 duathlon workouts last week. So to expect my best run would have been foolish. Still, I did visit the hurt locker, but it was nice in that Matt ran most of the way with me as did a 2:15 pacer girl. How great that was! I basically had my own personal pacers! Here are Matt and I before the race:
Now as to the eggs thing, after I raced yesterday (and I was 4/15 F55-59 by USATF age group classification, but if they used USAT age groups, I was first in 60-64 by 17 minutes!), I drove up to Madison, Wisconsin to cheer at the Ironman while spending time with one of my best buds, William. Here we are eating at the Badger Grill in the Doubletree Hotel, where we both have stayed previously and I already reserved for next year:
I think we met in 2003 originally, but William argued with me about that. William is an uber-ultra athlete. He's done a Triple Ironman. I love him and we try and spend time together whenever it's possible. That's really why I went up to Wisconsin, since I don't see him very often.

I wasn't in primo spectating mode, as my legs hurt like mofos from the race, but I did the best I could. I would ask people looking a bit shattered if there was anything they needed. I had brought gels, salt tablets, candy and HTFU. One guy said, "Albuterol." And I said I have it! I really hope that giving that guy a couple of puffs from my inhaler enabled him to feel better and get moving again. I know how awful it can feel when your lungs feel like they just can't work properly.

I stayed overnight with a friend, Emily, that I met 2 years ago at Tyranena Beer Run, another 1/2 marathon where I went 2:10. So I know I can go at least that fast (and maybe faster). I need my 1/2 marathon pace to be about 2:07 to really lock in on that Boston qualification. That's only 2 VDOT points from where I'm at now, and I've been that fast, so I feel confident in achieving the BQ. At Disney? Who knows? But if not there then certainly at Los Angeles marathon.

I have to admit, every day when I wake up, this BQ and KQ stuff is on my mind. Sometimes I say to myself, "Don't do anything stupid." But much of what I do is on autopilot, for example, driving fast in the left lane on a highway. But I've learned to give focus to whatever I'm doing, so when I'm driving, I'm driving, except when I need emergency McDonald's so that I don't starve to death:
OMG that was good. I was so happy to see that the McGriddle is back! But I digress.

Just because I've done so many triathlons and trained so hard for so many years doesn't mean I don't get nervous about races or goals looming on the horizon. I am already visualizing my finish at Ironman Wisconsin 2017. I signed up for it today, and I got the chills doing it:

There has been only one other time when I thought I might be able to get a Kona slot--it was in 2006. I was very well trained for Ironman Brazil. I was in fantastic shape. But then my Mom died a month before the race, and I still went. And I bawled my eyes out in transition before the race started. I felt so lost and alone. And I had caught a sinus infection and I was dizzy standing on the beach before the swim start. And then I got kicked in the face during the swim and didn't know until I was finished that my nose was bloody and my eyes were black and blue. But I finished, and of course, there was no Kona slot that day. The next year my Dad died, and after that I sort of just put the whole Kona thing on the back burner. I did a bunch of NothingMans, enjoyed that, and then I did Ultraman Canada in 2010 and am still very proud of that accomplishment--I was the oldest female finisher!

So it's not like I had given up on stretch goals, but early this summer I decided it was time to reach for the stars once again, and so here I am and it's fucking scary. I yell at my brothers to pay attention to their health--I don't want anything bad to happen to them in the next year. But you never know what life has in store for you!

Does that mean it's folly to put all your eggs in the one big, fucking basket anyway? NO! If you don't dream, you don't achieve. And even if you don't accomplish the dream, it is always worth the journey to have tried. Each time I do a major race, I learn something new about myself and find new satisfaction in doing it. And I absolutely love sharing my own knowledge with others. Over the years, I've mentored people who became faster than me (which is as it should be since they are younger than me!), and am truly happy for them. But I've had helpers along the way, too--people who have pushed me when I needed it--people who have stood by me when I've suffered emotionally, and people who might not be close friends, but they are always there to notice when I've done something good. And that's what this stuff is really all about.

So whether or not I cross the Ironman Wisconsin finish line in first place in my AG, I can say it will have been well worth my time and effort to give it a go. I am so lucky to even think about this! I am so unbelievably happy how all of this has come together for me, and honestly, I get all teary eyed at least once a day lately. Does that mean I'm weak? I don't think so. I think it means I really appreciate my life and fitness.

So when you get a bunch of eggs, PUT THEM ALL IN ONE BIG FUCKING BASKET. Your basket may just be to finish an Ironman or to get a degree or to get in better shape, but at some point you have to go for it. You will not regret it!