UPCOMING EVENTS for 2015: (Under consideration) BigHorn 50K, North Carolina/DC Marathon Doulbe, TURNING 50 (not in that exact order).

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

Athena is the Goddess of wisdom and war. In 2005, I declared war on my own bad tendencies: sloth, being fat, compacency, and being too old for adventure.
This is the story of how I went from being someone who never stood when she could sit, to being an ultrarunner, marathoner, triathlete, and *sigh* student.
"You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Friday, June 30, 2006

Tri-raider pics.


Do I look determined going up that hill?I thought my heart was going to blow up.

Spoiled rotten.

I was working on my muscle of the week post, below, when suddenly....nothing happened.

There's nothing quite like the quiet of a neighborhood of electric houses when the power goes out, especially since there was no storm, no wind. Well, of course there was the swearing that ensued because I had just finished my post and the computer went black...but, the sun was shining brightly, and then just birds, the soft whirr of hard drives, compressor fans, and electric motors powering down. No bubbling aquarium. No humming refrigerator or air conditioner or fans. Neighbors wonder into the street, dazed, and point to you, and them back themselves. You too?
(Meanwhile, drivers presumed that the lack of a traffic light entitled them to go straight through any intersection, without stopping and checking first, so there were some sirens).
I started thinking about what I could be working on during the lull, and having "Homer" moments. Hey, I know--I'll vaccum out the car! doh!
Hmm. Practice dancing to, uh, music...watch tv...doh!
The best I could do was pack my gear for tomorrow's triathlon, the Grady Williams Soft Sandy Deathmarch, (not its real name, just what I presume it to be after having received repeated warnings from friends about how difficult the 10K portion was).
When I was in college, I had lots of contingencies because it was South Dakota, so I had a wood stove and lanterns. Now I've gotten soft. I depend on my creature comforts. Everything in my house is electric, and I'm spoiled rotten.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Evil Slothful Athena

I tried to get up this morning and run. I really did. But then Evil Slothful Athena whispered in my ear, "You worked hard last weekend. Take it easy" I'll have to run later this morning, because we're going out to eat tonight and I have to get a head start on all the calories I'm going to eat. We're meeting up with my friend/nemesis Helen and her husband at a local Indian restaurant, where I'll stuff my self silly on samosas and saag. Ummmmmm. Helen and Stewart are on their way through Burque, headed for Farmington, where we're also headed on Friday.

Saturday is our wedding anniversary, and we're celebrating it by doing the Grady Williams Freedom Days triathlon in Farmington. It's an olympic distance tri, with a 1500 meter lake swim, 10K hilly "soft sand" trail run, and 40K hilly bike. Yes, in that order. Yes, I hate running in sand. Yes, I hate hills. Yes, one should expect a great deal of swearing.

Sweet Baboo, on the other hand, is giddy with excitement because he has not been allowed to run for a month due to a stress fracture in his hip. He's being released from the injurd list the day before the event, and like a bad kid that's been in time out for a month, he's off and running. Mini-me won't be at this event. It's just the two of us, so we get to act silly and swear and do all the things I don't normally do when Mini-me is around. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You know you live in the desert when...

...the headline of the newspaper reads,
"Heavy Rains Two Nights in a Row."
In a place where it almost never rains, this is like some strange cosmic anomaly visited upon us. My son, a jaded 15-year-old, even put a video game on hold to go outside and watch it. He was wearing an old windbreaker, because we don't have any raincoats. (Yes, we have umbrellas. We use them for shade.)

This is also a chance for cheap entertainment for me. I stand near the door, so that all the housecats (Hissy fit, Lily, and Whitney) gather near it, hoping to be let out--which they never are--and throw it open, "allowing" them to go out, if they wish, into pouring rain. What? you'd rather stay inside? Oh, well - you had your chance. Fickel cats. Bwahahahahahaha.

The real upside to all this rain is that the mornings are crisp and unusually gorgous - this morning was 52 degrees - and clear, and all the dust is washed away.

I'd take advantage of this time to go for a run, but I've woken up three days in a row with aching feet, lower calves, and back. I think it was from climbing those hills on Sunday (Gee, ya think?) at the Tri-raider. It's getting better each day, and I did a very, very brief run yesterday, so perhaps a moderate run tomorrow morning. I went to dance class yesterday, and came away feeling a little less stiff, but I think I need a good long stretch session.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buffalo Springs Tri-raider, race report

My Goals for this race:
1. Power up the three hills on the course (aka, not walking my bike up the hills this time, like I have had to at the Buffman and Squeaky and the Ransom Canyon triathlons)
2. Beat a time of 2:15, for reasons that I will explain later.

As we pulled into Buffalo Springs Park Lake at 5:am, there was lightening to the east on the horizon, and the wind was gusting strong.
Ugh. This did NOT bode well.

We drove slowly, in the long line up the hill to the parking area, with the wind rocking our little Honda, and I was reminded of 1) how punishingly steep the hills are, and 2) how much I hate wind.
After an hour or so of anxiety, the wind died down and the storm continued moving east, away from the lake. (I found out later on that race director Mike Greer was so freaked out by the weather he didn't sleep. ) After grabbing our stuff, we walked down the hill that I knew I'd be climbing in in a couple hours, and I was really beginning to wish I hadn't told everyone my goal of getting up those hills without walking.

Over the next couple hours, I: set up my transition area, drank a Sobe power drink, watched the Half-Ironman participants' start (that race was going at the same time as the sprint), drank a bottle of Heed, and went to the bathroom. A lot. When I'm nervous I have to pee.
In between, I tried doing some positive visualization, remembering what powering up and out of the saddle had felt like in spin class. I chatted with a few familiar faces (Marianna, Jane, Carol) and some new ones, most of which were perfectly delightful people. Unfortunately, I suck at names, so I don't remember the rest. (I remember Chantel's, though, because she beat me!)

It was crowded - about 1400 participants overall. First, we watched the menfolk/boyfolk take off in the first wave, and chatted (okay, well I babbled, as I often do). I had already taken a brief warm-up swim and found the water nice, and the sun was coming up.

Just as we crossed over the mat to activate our timing chips, a man came charging down the beach and leapt into the water, taking off after the males. He'd somehow missed the wave. He headed off, swimming like crazy, trying to catch up with the other men.
"That would suck," we all agreed soberly.

The swim was not my best, I think around 13 minutes. I'm not sure why, but I kept swimming off in crazy directions. At one point I was swimming along and reached out to touch something, which turned out to be a canoe and a volunteer waving me off toward the next buoy, as I was headed in a direction completely perpendicular to the rest of the swimmers (No, Misty, THAT way...) For some reason, my chip didn't activate, and I forgot to punch my watch until I was into the swim, so I only know that my T1 and swim time combined were 17:43. I'll guess my swim to be about 13 or 14 minutes because I think my T1 time is always pretty long after an open water swim.

<--This is an elevation profile of the bike course:
I grabbed the bike, helmet, et al and started up the first hill: a 7.5% grade hill. I dropped gears and got up and out of the saddle on Wunderfrost (my new name for my bike). My heart rate soared. Around me, some people were pulling over and getting off their bikes and walking. I was weakening as I crested the hill. I rolled forward on pure momentum, gasping like an old smoker. Then I pedaled out across the flat toward the next downhill portion, which was back into the canyon and across a small dam.

I was trying to get up enough momentum to get up the next hill, but my heart rate was still elevated, and I was breathless. About 2/3 of the way up the 6.7% hill, I finally gave out. I just had to catch my breath, so I walked for about ten yards, and then got back on the bike, crested, and headed out onto the flat.

BTW, The course claimed 20K, but my cyclometer registered 25K. I'd like to know if anyone else had similar experiences.

In any case, after the turn around, I felt a small gust and looked up to see one of the Pros from the 70.3 pass me on their way back to the lake - it was probably Natasha Badman, who got top female pro in the Half Iron. They were going so fast that I couldn't tell male, female, what - I caught a glimpse of a "P" on the back of one of their calves. There were many more gusts like that - on the bike, on the run. After a bit, I started seeing some age groupers, headed back from their 56-mile ride.

I headed back down into the canyon, across the dam, and then started back up the last hill: an 8.9% grade. By this time I'd caught my breath, but about halfway up, out of the saddle, I starting to weaken again - I couldn't get enough movement out of each stroke to get anywhere. That's when it occured to me, "this isn't the way it felt in practice. My cadence is too high." I powered out a couple of strokes to gain some momentum, and then shifted up a couple gears to a larger ring, and then powered it up to the top of the hill. I was so exhausted I immediately stopped pedaling a the top, just rolling forward slowly while people wizzed past me, gasping and breathing heavily. This is where my heartrate peaked, I think. My monitor told me later my peak heartrate was 180. I went sailing back down into the canyon, and transitioned to the run. Bike time: 1:09.
The run was uneventful except that 1) I was passed by Jeep Fleeb, who does events while carrying a huge American flag; 2) I rescued a baby turtle (2" across) trying to cross the road, and 3) there was a guy that set up a sprinkler in his front yard at the top of a ladder. My run time was apalling, my legs were worn out from those hills, and I had to take some walk breaks. I had a run time of 41:20, but I felt pretty good, and was able to walk around and chat after coming across the finish line. I immediately went down into the lake and paddled around for a bit. Ahhhhhhh.

Results:

  • I climbed 2 of the 3 hills on bike. I have now replaced the shameful picture of myself walking the bike up a hill in my blogger profile.
  • I chose 2:15 as my target time because I had looked at the times from last year and noticed that nemesis/friend Helen (Hi, Helen!) completed this event in 2:13 She's much faster now, but since it's my first year I wanted to see if I could beat her time last year. My final time: 2:12. The race results are posted here
  • I was 1st in the master's category, and 2nd Athena overall. My award was a curved clear lucite picture frame with the race logo inscribed on it. I've attempted to take a picture with my tiny little camera, so hopefully you can see it.
  • Mini-me (15-year-old son) ran this, and did it in 2:05:16, coming in 4th in his category.
  • Sweet Baboo (formerly known as Husband) did the half-iron Aquabike because of his fractured hip: 2000 meter swim and 56-mile bike, and completed it in 3:26, coming in 2nd in the 39-and-under category and 3rd overall.
  • Sweet Baboo was also registered as part of a relay team so he got two cool trophies, a small white buffalo (relay) and larger brown buffalo (aquabike) We also got a bottle of Llano Estacado Vinyards wine.
  • Sharkbait, aka Miguel, ran the Tri-raider sprint triathlon, and THEN tagged off with Sweet Baboo, ran back out onto the course and finished the 13.1 miles of the half iron race. Iron Miguel was awarded Grand master champion in the sprint, and as a male relay team, they placed 2nd.
  • Other race reports are here: TriGreyhound Part 1 and Part 2, Myles, and Dread Pirate.

In all, I was extremely happy with my performance in this race. I had fun, and I enjoyed it, and it was the first race I've ever had in which I didn't repeat the words, "What the f&#* am I doing this for?" repeatedly. I felt like to gave it my best shot, and that I was definitely feeling improvement in this, my first triathlon season. Wahoo!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ready for the Tri-Raider

Got my gear in piles, ready to pack into the car.
Got food ready to go (being a travelin' triathlonin' vegan is tricky).
Got a new tubular for my bike Val (for Valkyrie) after finding a hole in it.
Got new stick of sunblock.
Got a new stick of body glide.
Got dri-fit everything packed into bags.

500 meter open water lake swim.
Bike course with three hills: two grade 9 and one almost grade 8.
5k run.

Bring it on!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

One year ago


Steve blogged about how he became an Ironman a year ago today, and it put me in mind of where I was about a year ago.

One year ago...

...I could not run 100 steps.

...I had no idea that Carbon had much more crucial uses that merely being the basis of life on earth.

..I was content to play cheerleader while Husband and Mini-me did their 'triathlete thing,'

...the hardest thing I'd ever done was the physical fitness test in high school, and as an adult was step-aerobic classes.

...I did not by any stretch of the imagination consider myself an athelete.

...I was not aware of the existance of my Rectus femoris.

...I could not swim 25 meters.

...I'd never heard of Body Glide.

...I hated drinking water. I would drink maybe 3 cups of liquid a day.

...I rode my bike up and down the bosque trail, but never up hills, never up hills.

...I did not own a pair of running shoes.

...I never heard of anyone losing a toenail just from running one race.

...I thought the time was past for me to do extraordinary things.

...I'd never heard of sports gels.

But, one year ago...
...I was starting to notice that some of those triathlete people were as big and old as I, and some were bigger, or older.

What it Takes


I got the link for this new movie/documentary off Neoprene Wedgie's site today. It made me all goose pimply. I'm probably one of the last people to find out about it, but enjoy. Here's the trailer, and here's the teaser.

Okay, so did you watch it yet? Didja get all goose pimply or teary-eyed? Aww. You old softie!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cool thing number 542 about Albuquerque


Here and there growing wild around Albuquerque are quarter-sized daisies with striped undersides, Berlandiera lyrata. They are weeds. But we don't kill them. We walk around them carefully, trying not to to hurt them. They grow wherever they're allowed. There's lots along the bike paths. I have a big clump that I planted in my front yard, and a few in the back.

They aren't particularly pretty. Their tall, weedy folliage and large leaves dominate. They only bloom after sundown and before sunup, because once the sun is on them, they nod their heads, curl up their pedals, and go to sleep. Then their pedals fall off, but they bloom continuously throughout late spring, summer, and early fall.

So, why would I BUY a plant that grows wild here, the tear off pieces and plant it in other areas of the yard? Well, it's simple, really.

They smell like chocolate. Not "kinda," exactly. And it's very strong.

My big clump grows right now to the driveway, on the west side of my house. So, whenever I get into my car in the morning, I'm enveloped by the smell of chocolate. When Husband takes the bike trail into work, he rides through a cloud of chocolate smell. My next door neighbor comes out in the mornings just to smell them before sunup. It's common names are "chocolate daisy" or "chocolate flower".

Those of you in lush rainy states can't have it, because it doesn't like water. It only grows in arid and mountainous environments.

I didn't have any sore muscles to report, so I thought I'd have a mini botany lesson instead.

Have a nice day!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Five days to the Tri-Raider.


I'm very excited about my latest development in this thing called "being fit" . I was in spin class yesterday pedaling away and glanced down at my watch to see where my heartrate was. Hmm.
[164]
"Hmm," I thought, "that can't be right. Usually I'm suffering at that number."

Not long after that, I had the tension on the studio bike cranked pretty much as high as it would go, a combination that usually makes me feel like throwing up and/or my lungs are going to leap out and run away, and I was up out of the saddle, mashing down on the pedals for intervals of 3 minutes apiece.
[170]
But today it was bearable. The instructor says that means I've raised my anaerobic threshold. Cool! Just like all the books said. I tested it this morning on a run, and, again, was able to tolerate the higher heart rate.
Dontcha just love it when your body responds to cruel treatment?

cruel treatment: (n) anything other than laying around, watching TV court dramas, and eating.

This is especially important because there are 5 days to the Tri-Raider Sprint at Buffalo Springs. This is the one that has the 500 meter lake swim, then an out and back bike course with hills to climb up and speed down that are 6.7%, 8.9%, and 7.6%. In that order.

My goal for this triathlon is simple:

I WANT TO FINISH IT WITHOUT WALKING MY BIKE UP A HILL.

I had to walk the bike in two other triathlons I did in the same area: the Ransom Canyon Sprint, and the Buffman and Squeaky Olympic Distance. If I can meet my goal, I'll reward myself by changing the picture in my profile that shows me walking my bike up a hill. Until then, the picture stays as self-imposed punishment.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Honest. I don't even own a cowboy hat.

Have you ever gotten bored or maybe feeling a little narcissistic, and 'Googled' yourself?

"I wonder what would happen if I Googled "Athena Diaries, " I mused recently.

Let me state for the record that these are not MY "Athena Diaries". (Do NOT click on this link if there are children around!)

Just imagine my surprise. Some questions are better left unanswered, I guess.



Late night musings.

It's late. I know this. I went to bed nice and early, and is usual for me, my body punished me for this by waking me around 12:30, for no apparent reason. Since I'm not really much good at lying in bed quietly without waking everyone near me (namely, cats and Husband) I came downstairs to do some more work on Husband's computer.
Husband's computer has gradually slowed down to oh, say, the speed of writing on a stone tablet. I'm trying to avoid the dreaded RF (Re Format) but I think that's the inevitable end of this drama. Mine usually has to be reformatted once a year because I mess with it so much, but his is 5 years old and is only just now getting ready for it because he doesn't mess around with his settings and install and uninstall random files the way I do.

As well, Mini-me had access to my computer for a while and would also download and install random things, often without knowing it, owing to his penchant for visiting websites he should not be visiting. I would sit down at my computer, and all the colors would be changed, the background picture would be some random icon that was repeated a thousand times all over the screen, the resolution would be different, and the icons would be 2 inches x 2 inches. I would launch into a tirade towards Mini-me "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY COMPUTER??"

"NOTHING! I WASN'T ON IT! I SWEAR!"

translation: I was on it, and there's nothing you can do about it, even New Mexico doesn't let you smack your kids around.

Now, if I WERE to believe Mini-me, that leaves Husband, who had his own computer, and the cats. Oh, and the fish. Oh, and by the way, if you don't have teenagers yet, get used to that reply. NOTHING ever was done to your stuff, your carpeting, or your car and NOBODY had anything to do with it. Your computer mysteriously downloaded its own cache of naked Japanese anime girls, cheat codes, and vile Mp3's. Your car radio reset all its own stations to loud rap music. You carpet got tar on it. Your favorite box of cereal, purchased yesterday, was already all eaten when you brought it home from the store. ALL. BY. ITSELF.

Ah, but, anyway.

I went with Husband to see "the Lake House" tonight. As a science teacher, I had to suspend willing disbelief about the whole time travel thing, but I have to say, it's been a long time that a movie made me cry at the end like that. It was wonderful and romantic without being schmaltzy and gimmicy. I loved it. Go see it.

I was just reading Nytro's post about lake swimming. I was feeling pretty good about tomorrow's - I mean today's - lake swim. Now I wonder What Lurks Beneath. What is that? Did something just brush my foot? Is it a large some kind of fish that dwells in desert resevoirs and apparently, chomps on associated digits? I was also very interested to read what Nytro's coach said about training. Hmm. Given that I'm 3 weeks into my semi-almost-serious training mode, that means I have 5 more weeks of being exhausted left. Ergh. Good thing I'm off in the summer.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What is it with old ladies and bellydancing?

That questions was asked of me lately, but I honestly can't remember who asked it. I was thinking earlier today that the "old" may entirely have been inserted by my own subconconsience, as we are want to do, and then insist that we didn't do.

I'm not sure what it was that drew me to Oriental Dance (one of the preferred terms). I will say that, as a middle-class suburban white girl, it has been pounded into me over a lifetime that I should hate my body if it is not super-model perfect and that I should, in particular, hate all parts between the knees and shoulders. Several honorable men have labored to educate me against this falacy, but they couldn't overcome a lifetime of societal conditioning. Keep those things covered, for the love of God - nobody wants to see that!

As well, the messages include that if I am to embellish or use those parts of me, it should be for someone else's use: children, mates, etc.

I went to my first bellydance classes this week at Farfesha Studios in the 'Buerque. I attended at a couple different times to get a sense of what teachers I'd like the best.

I loved it. Although I can't speak for others, here is what I like and why I'm going back:

  1. It is a completely woman-friendly space. Nobody ogles, makes lewd comments, or acts catty. The women there did not know each other, but there was a certain happy satisfaction in the air. It was charged with anticipation, and we chatted about superficial, girly things. The comfort level of the room, and all instructions were tuned to a 100% feminine clientele, including an admonishment that "You can't see skinny hips move. Eat some cake!"
  2. Once I got over my intial awkwardness, I bared the belly, and I found that it was by far NOT the least attractive one there, but nobody seemed to care. Everyone was pretty confortable with themselves, even an extremely large woman who, I found out later, was a professional dancer.
  3. You get to drape myself in pretty, beaded, gauzy, jingly things. It's like playing dress-up.
  4. Remember when you were little and you danced in front of the mirror alone? You get to do that in dance class.
  5. It sounds cliche, but I felt empowered when I left there. I felt womanly, with a renewed idea that I am NOT a man, and that my body does not move or look the same as a man's body, and that it's a perfectly acceptable body.
  6. I like feeling graceful. Racing around in triathlons is great for exploring what my body is capable of doing in a strong, enduring sense, but dance class allows me to explore what my body can do is a graceful sense.
  7. Two words: toned core.

Do I plan to get on a stage? No. Endeavor to make Husband feel like a sultan? Maybe. After all, his birthday is coming up soon...and there's father's day, Christmas, anniversaires, and well, hell, every day is a celebration of some sort, right?

But mostly, this is my thing. For 60 minutes once or twice a week, I get to spend learn ways to move to music, toning my body and making it do things I didn't know it could do, and I'm feeling strong.

And that is what "it is" with old ladies and bellydancing.

New Muscle of the week

My new muscle of the week, which has made itself known by it's pissed-off, sore attitude, is the rectus femoris.

The rectus femoris extends the knee along with the other quadriceps. As it crosses the hip joint, it works with the other hip flexors to generate hip torque, and also stabilize the pelvis upon the weight-bearing femur.

Which is why mine got so damned sore last week. After two full weeks of spin class, in which I spent a great deal of time (well, more than zero for me is a great deal of time) up and out of the saddle, simulating uphill climbing. Speedwork also contributed to the soreness, because I was nearly sprinting and lifting my knees up more.

It's feeling better, now.

That's your science geek moment of the week.

Monday, June 12, 2006

And that's my final word, I think.

Six years ago Husband first brought the idea of a triathlon to my attention. We were still in graduate school, and I hadn't heard of them. He thought it sounded "fun." After he explained what one was, I stared at him and said, "Whatever, dude. I will NEVER do anything that is that much work. And I never run."

July of last year, after watching him run a few, I thought to myself, "Maybe I could do this. If it was completely flat. I'd never do one with hills." I started teaching myself how to run, and then ran the Cotton Country Sprint two months later. Slowlllly. But I finished it. Then I did some with hills.

Then in October of last year, I ran the 5K "fun run" at the Duke City Marathon, while Husband ran the half-marathon. I laughed at his happy, flushed face afterward. "I'm glad you enjoyed that, because I will never, ever want to run 13.1 miles."

I did my first half-marathon six weeks later, on the spur of the moment, and my second one in January of 2006.

This summer I'm psyching myself up for the Tri-Raider on June 24th. It has a 500 meter open water swim, three hills on the bike that range from 6.7% to 8.9% grade, then the usual 5K run. I've climbed them before, at the Buffman and Squeaky, but it's hotter now, I won't have Husband waiting at the end, to give me my post race hug, because he's doing the Buff Springs Half-iron. So, I'm a little nervous. To psych myself up, I'm reading "The Mental Edge." I've also read, "The Courage to Start," which I HIGHLY recommend.

I'm also reading "Ultra-marathon Man: Confessions of An All Night Runner, " but that one is just for fun. because I'll NEVER do anything that is that much work...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sure, they hate me now.

But they'll love me in the end!
Talking about the legs, of course. This was the first full week of training where I actually did the planned training, with spinning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and running on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm already investigating my new "muscle of the week" because it's one that's never hurt before, at least not where it's aching right now.

In spin class, we use heart zones, working from the low end of zone 3 up to zone 4. I'm working on getting up in the pedals, my weakness, because it's the only way I'm gettin' up those grade 8 and 9 hills at the Tri-Raider in a few weeks. It's supposed to be good training for running, too. I'm getting used to that burning feeling, or at least it's not as bad as it was. I'm so paranoid about traffic that these classes are a godsend.

I planned a run today, but last night legs and other body parts spoke said, "we took a vote, and if you don't take tomorrow off, we're going on strike". So, today I did a brief (3 mile) bike ride to get coffee, and tomorrow is another long lake swim.

I'm also investigating natural (whole foods) ways to get electrolytes, and am looking at Ultima Replenisher for sprints and Carb-boom and water for longer events.

Monday morning one of the instructors is having a special session where we can check to find out our max heartrate. I honestly don't know if it's 190 or 200. The highest I've seen is 177, and it felt like my chest was going to explode. Apparently, one can have a different max hr for running or cycling, etc. The girl that's doing it is a professional traininer and triathlete.

I'm spending the day getting all psyched up for my first dance class on Tuesday. I've purchased a copy of a documentary, "American Belly Dancer" off ebay and am waiting for it. Perhaps dance, including other forms, will be a good off-season activity, along with running.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Speedwork Report

In case you don't have a lot of time to read, I can summarize my speedwork for you pretty handily:


I am not fast.

The "S" on my pajamas doesn't stand for Super; it stands for Slow. It used to stand for Slothful. Maybe someday it will stand for "Speedy." I posted earlier this year that my running time was largely responsible for my long triathlon times; it hovers somewhere between 11 and 13 minutes per mile (or more, depending on whether the run is at the beginning or the end, or if it's a 5k or a 10k) That, and my lackadaisical transitions. I say this not to be self-depracating, but to be honest and forthright.
So anyway. Here's what I did:
  • I jogged about a mile and a half down to the high school track. This is a nice warmup jog: it goes up a steady, about 1% or slightly less for about a 3/4 mile, and then steeply downhill for 1/4 mile, then uphill again, with the last 400 meters or so through sand. I did it slowly, as it was a "warmup".
  • I used this time to work on getting rid of the last of my "bad form" problems by using "soft ankles," an idea I picked up in spinning class. I tend to hold my feet pretty rigidly, which I uses up a lot of my energy and makes my feet hurt.
  • I started out by running the 400 meters full out to see if I could do it. I made it about 2/3 of the way around in a little over a minute before my heart threatened to blow up.
  • I rested about 3 minutes, and then ran the 400 meters again, at a slightly slower pace. I made it in a little over 2:20.
  • I rested for 2-1/2 minutes, and then repeated it three more times. Times 3 and 4 were slightly faster, around 2:10 or so, but the fifth time was decidedly slower: around 2-1/2 minutes. I was running out of power. During each rest, I sucked down some Ultima Lemon-lime, to which I'd added a dash of lemon juice (see my previous post on Sugar).
  • I jogged home, back the way I came.
The last part of that run was a slight downhill 1% grade, as I mentioned, which in my opinion, is the best way to finish any run. You feel powerful and ultra sleek and athletic running on a slight downhill grade. The music is pounding ("Lose Yourself" by Eminem and "Loser" by Beck) and you're running and, for some reason, people in pickups poke their heads out the window because they've apprently never, ever seen anyone jogging before.
Time will tell if I get "speedy" doing this workout.

New Muscle of the Week

About ten years ago when I tried running in a fairly unorganized fashion. I just went out my front door and sprinted up the nearest hill until I couldn't run any more. At the time, it was to burn off anger over a bad break-up. I did it for about a month and then I quit, because I wasn't angry any more.

At one point during that time, I was alarmed to find a rather large swelling behind my knee. Oh, my God, I thought. What is that--some kind of tumor? I reached behind the other knee to get a comparative frame of reference, and was alarmed to feel an identical swelling behind that knee.

Finally, it dawned on me that this was, indeed a muscle, to be precise my hamstring; whose function before this point in time was to sit meakly behind me and provide ancillary cushioning for sitting.

As I said, that was ten years ago, but I've started having that same experience again since I started running, swimming, and cycling last year. Of course, Husband, ever practical, likes to point out, "they aren't new muscles; they've always been there. It's just that now you can feel them." This, however, does not dimish my happy excitement when I accidentally see or feel a "new muscle."

Which brings me to my new muscle of the month. This morning as I was shaking my moisurizer down to the end of the tube, I glanced in the mirror and saw a muscle heretofore unnoticed on my forearm. Science geek that I am, I had to look it up, and found that it is the Flexor carpi ulnaris. Apparenly, gripping aerobars and brake levers and whatnot have developed it.

It's primary function, along with the flexor carpi radialis, is to stabilize the elbow against valgus torque (An abnormal position where the elbow is twisted away from the midline of the body) The flexor carpi ulnaris is the primary stabilizer, with the flexor digitorum superficialis is a secondary stabilizer.

Thus I share with you, this science moment. Just because I'm off for the summer doesn't mean I can't teach, and it doesn't say "GEEKGRL" on my license plate for nothin'.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Do I need ALL that sugar?

I went for my cleaning today and my dental hygenist is not happy. She wanted to know what I've been doing differently. More sugared sodas? No, absolutely not. More candy? Nope, no more than usual. I chew sugarless gum, and have an occasional treat, but I'm not a candy eater.
She was perplexed. She acknowledged that as a Vegan, my diet should be pretty healthy and low sugar. (This is a common misconception. After all, potato chips are vegan. So are Sauders Chocolate creme cookies. I've checked.)
Then it occured to her. "What about sports drinks? do you drink a lot of sports drinks?"
Uhhh.... ummmm....

It turns out that every time you take a sip of anything with any kind of sugar in it, it combines with saliva to create acid that remains for the next 20 minutes . Take a 2-hour event, as is my usual glacial time, and all the times that I sip Cytomax during it, well...not to mention, the day before, I try to suck down Gatorade all day to get myself fully hydrated and chock full o' electrolytes.

As well, I've also had some problems at the Olympic even that I did a few weeks ago. Toward the end, I was feeling pretty throw-upy. Not because I had bonked, or because I was dehydrated, but possibly because I'd consumed too much sugar during the four-hours I spent trying to finish it.

Along with this, I've noticed that if I drink Gatorade or Cytomax right before the run portion, I'm almost guarenteed of having side cramps. Which I had at the Milkman this past weekend. Which I forgot to mention. They were fairly crippling for about the first 1/2 of the 5k. I don't get any other kind of cramp but that one.

Finally, my heart beat monitor tells me after certain events that I've burned something akin to 2500 calories. With all the training I've been doing, you'd think I'd be as thin as a rail, but no, I haven't lost a single pound since March of 2005. Like the Whooly mammoth, my body is stubbornly holding on to the idea that there is no food out on the tundra. I'm guessing that all the sugared sports drinks I've been sucking down are partially to blame.

And, let's face it; quite frankly, the Slothful Athena has plenty of fat stores on which to subsist during a sprint triathlon or a workout.

So, do I really need all that extra sugar?

I Googled, and found out that the average American consumed somewhere between 40 (according to the crystal sugar company) and 142 pounds (according to the government) per year. That includes all the uses of sugar, such as processed foods, drinks, alcohol, etc.

So, I'm going to try some experiments (I'll try them in training first before trying them in an event) First, I'm switching to water. It goes down easier and when it gets splashed on me, it's refreshing instead of sticky. Before training or an event (1 hour before) I'm going to take down a Lara Bar. They are simple, wholefood energy bars usually with only 2 or 3 ingredients. I've tried some and they are excellent. Second, for electrolytes, I'm going to try a couple Hammer endurolytes before the swim and maybe halfway through the bike. For the bike and run, water only. If I wind up doing another Olympic event, I'll load up my water bottle with Ultima, which has electrolytes and B vitamins and is sweetened with Stevia, which actually helps regulate blood sugar levels. For longer races, I'm going to check out other Hammer products, like HEED. After the race, it's good old Propel with Calcium. or plain water.

If anyone has any experience with this, I'd appreciate knowing - particularly women, because I do believe that women and men are very different in how they utilize nutrients.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Glacial running times.

Bumper sticker of the day -->

My performance at the Milkman was somewhat perplexing, and I've been trying to figure it out. My swim was better than usual; my bike was good, and then my run was nearly six minutes slower than it usually is. It was about 6 minutes longer than usual. I've decided that there are several possibilities:


  1. I drank a glass of wine the night before at Applebees. It did something to me.
  2. I didn't have my usual cup of coffee the morning of the race (I generally start the day with a soy coconut 110-degree mocha) I was suffering from withdrawal of coffee, or chocolate, or both.
  3. Heat. I hate it. Like a rare flower, I must be maintained at the correct temperature: between 68 and 74 for just sitting around, between 55 and 65 for running. Anything else just makes me wilt. And bitch. A lot. It was around 85 degrees when I was running. Case and point: today, it is 97 degrees. At night, in the desert, it cools to about 60 degrees. What this means is that I get all my business done in the morning and then hide inside like a prairie dog.
  4. My swim and bike were TOO good. I blew out all I had, and then didn't have anything left for the run.
  5. Humidity. Okay, I'm more like a high desert succulent, which does not tolerate humidity.
  6. There was a fire. A terrible flood. Locusts. The sun was in my eyes.
  7. Mind-control poison government jet contrails (and me without my foil helmet)
  8. Any combination of all or some of the above.

In any case, I'm going to start my first track-speed workouts tomorrow, and I plan to do them once a week. I'll be doing an easy 2-mile jog down to the track. Then, I'll do five 400 meter repeats, with about 2 or 3 minutes' rest in between. Then an easy jog back home.

Of course, all this will be completed before 7 am MST, for I, the slothful Athena, am only surpassed in my love of sleep by my love of not being caught running in the heat of New Mexico summer. Plus, I'm still trying to get those hyper-pigment whatevers, the brown patches on my face, to fade.

I've never done speed work or track work as an adult, so it will be interesting to see how it works out. The last time I tried to sprint was at a mother-and-daughter softball game up in South Dakota. My body headed toward first, and my legs stayed put. The result was that I wound up rolling on the ground in the dust and wearing most of the field. But that was back before I started running, so maybe my legs can keep up with the rest of me.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Few of my Favorite Things (race report)

In manner of Paul Harvey, I will first show you the end of the story.

The "Milkman" is one of the oldest continuously held triathlons in this area, and as a result has been chosen each year as the "best of the US" qualifier. My friend Karen, another Athena, has run it about twenty times, I think she said. (For another race report, click here!)

The event starts with a 500 meter out-and-back swim in Lake Van. Things you need to know about Lake Van: First, if you get in trouble, just stand up. It's that shallow. Where I grew up it would have been "Pond Van" but hey, this is the desert, and they get pretty excited when there's a body of water, so what the heck. Second, the temperature, becuase it is so shallow, is somewhere between cold and not-so-cold. Wetsuits are optional. I was pretty comfortable in mine. But...surprise! like a lot of lakes in southern New Mexico, it's very alkaline. This means bitter. You will, no doubt about it, get some in your mouth when you breath. It's bitter. You've been warned.

I was in the fifth wave - they go in waves based on age groups. I like the idea of waves, because people can be way faster than me and still be behind me. Of course, I also notice people in later waves passing me, but that's okay. It's just that it's so lonely being last. I like having people behind me.
As I was standing in line, I finally asked another Outlaw, Trub, why she had that white stuff all over her lip. I'd been wondering about it for an hour. Is it sunscreen, I thought, if so, why is it only on her upper lip? Does she know its there? She couldn't have been bleaching (or waxing, as Karen ventured) and left it on there, could she? Should I say something? would she be embarassed? Oh, forget it. I have to know.
"Trub, what IS that on your upper lip?"
"Got milk?" she asked.
"Huh?"
"GOT MILK, GET IT? It's the MILK MAN TRIATHLON?"
Oh! I am a little thick this morning, I guess.

Once out of the lake, it's an easy walk to a well-organized transition area. here are your instructions: Strip off the wetsuit. Sit down and bitch about how bitter the lake was. Try to dry your feet. Bitch some more, and spit a little, trying to get the taste out of your mouth. Ick. Get the socks out of the bottom of the bag, where they've been left for some reason. Put on the shoes, grab the helmet, sunglasses, a gel, the inhaler, the bike, and trot toward the start line.

Three things you need to know about the bike: First, it's bumpy. Second, they'll tell you it's flat; they lie. Third, it gets a little windy. This is, I've disovered, one of the benefits of being fast: you can get done before the wind kicks up in parts of west Texas and southern New Mexico. I'm not so fast. It's get windy and hot where I am.

The Bike course is a 12.4 mile course out and back along some rural roads. There was very little traffic, and it was just bumpy, windy, and uphill enough to be challenging. A fun race. I dropped a couple people, and dozens more dropped me. At the turnaround, they gave out FULL, COLD, WATER BOTTLES. How cool is that? Yum. Slurp. CLEAN water.

On the bike, I knew I was already tired. I hadn't had my usual morning cup of coffee, and I'm an addict. I'd gotten to sleep too late the night before, because Husband and I and a couple of other Outlaws had gone to Applebees. Applesbees is a very upscale Denny's, in that they find it next to impossible to make any manner of entree that does not represent at least two members of the animal kingdom. For this vegan, that makes eating difficult. Do you know that they have a "Fried Chicken Salad?" Is this the state of eating that America is in today? In a previous life, I would have been wildly excited about "Fried Chicken Salad," using it to rationalize all manner of disgusting eating, e.g., "it says salad...it must be healthy..."
In any case, we had a good time with other team members...fellow Outlaw Miguel, aka "Shark bait" was saying (in his thick, Columian accent) "Hey, Meesty, ju should haf a beeer. Eetz carbs, ju know. Ju need the carbs." Then he would start pouring salt on his food, "No crrramps! No crrrramps!" (Miguel is famous among Outlaw lore for apparently running off the course in an Ironman and running through a picnic, yelling for salt because he was cramping. They were trying to give him burgers and such)

But I digress.

The run was hot, but it was fun. It went all over, through the some grasslands and back, along a hard-packed dirt trail and around the pond-lake Van. At about the half-way mark, there was a guy that Karen referred to as the "oorah guy". He sounded like a Military Drill sargeant, and like the rest of the Milkman volunteers, was awesome and full of zeal. I could hear him yelling about half a mile away.
"YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT! YOU'VE JUST GOT A LITTLE MORE WAY AND IT'S MOSTLY DOWNHILL!
PUSHIT! PUSHIT! GO! GO! GO!"
(By the way, "downhill" was, at best, an extreme exaggeration).

Once again I surrendered to the feeling of being completely alone on the course. Some people were way ahead. Some were way behind. I ran along, pretty well into the "flow" until I got up to the "oorah" guy. After that, it was just work. And it was hot. But, I finished. Alone and hot. I headed to the lake to cool off, to be confronted with a large sign, "NO SWIMMING IN THIS LAKE."

So, I put on some makeup, of course, and hung around to see how I'd done. Karen got first in the Master's division and first Athena overall. I also got to meet Dread Pirate, who is cute and very fit - one of those tiny, swift, sleek people that I will NEVER be.

SYou know, some triathlons give you medals or plaques when you place. Cool ones, like the "Buffman and Squeaky give you very cool lucite dog bones with pictures of Buffman and Squeaky, two boston terriers, etched into it. The "Cotton Country Sprint" gives you a little bail of cotton, and the AtomicMan gives you a little Native American woven mug rugs. I have one of each. They are a few of my favorite things. when I feel like I'm not a good teacher, or could have been a better mother...I like to look at my little trophies. They remind that, although I'm not perfect, I give it my best until the end.
The Milkman Sprint Triathlon gives ceramic milk pitchers and milk bottles.

and now you know the rest of the story.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Well the car is packed, and I'm ready to go to the Milkman Sprint Tri in Dexter, which is tomorrow morning. I haven't done this one yet, but I've heard the lake is a little funky.

Here's some pictures from the Ransom Canyon Triathlon I did last month. This was the scene of my very first open water swim (link). Husband took these, because he wasn't able to do this triathlon due to pain that prevented him from running.

We just found out that Husband may have a stress fracture of the hip. Yikees. On a positive note, we may finally have a diagnosis after 2 months of pain (link).

And, of course, the requisite picture of the triathlete hoisting the cycle, as an offering to Athena, goddess of wisdom and battle.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Post-interview Jitters

This isn't particularly about triathlons. I went running this morning and it felt good. I ran 4 miles, in about 52 minutes, at a fairly easy pace, and tested out some of the songs that I've "repaced" using the Repacer application I bought. It speeds them up or down digitally so that you can match your best tempo.

After the run I had 2nd breakfast of a peach smoothie (1 can peaches + 1/4 package of silken tofu) and a toasted soy cheeze sandwitch. Then a nice, long shower and positive affirmations ensued. It was important to feel good today, because I had the first job interview I've had since 2000. I was applying for either of two different positions as a school counselor in the district where I work. Before the interview, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "You're well prepared, educated, and trained for this position. You kick ass!"

I should have started that earlier, though, because I was pretty nervous. For the interview I sat at the end of a long table and was interviewed by nine other people. Most of them I knew, but I don't take that for granted. I was handed the thirteen interview questions when I sat down, and asked all of them, in turn, by the interview committee. I asked a couple questions. I thanked them. They thanked me. I shook hands, and then left.

And now I get to breathe. Whew.

I think it went well. I'm up against some very good, very competent applicants (many of whom I know!) who would be good choices. I doubt that anyone else wants or deserves the job more. I can just hope that I have the right combination of qualifications, background, and presense to be chosen.

So, if you're so inclined, I'd appreciate it if you could do whatever your religious or philosophical leanings encourage you to do: cross your fingers, mumble incantations, that I get this job. Thanks.

...