NEXT EVENTS: IRONMAN BOULDER 2014, Run Rabbit Run 50-miler

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

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ah, what the hell.

So I had this post that I made earlier in the week, in which I was kvetching and whining about how I just couldn't stand the idea of failure. Thanks for all the encouragement, and to Fe-lady, thanks for all, um, the excitement. I appreciate the energy of the responses.

I've been pretty safe up until now. No cutoff times. No real challenges to just bust my ass. Maybe that's the real reason I haven't had any muscle cramps or blisters. I like to mosy. I don't like being hurried. Mosiers don't get cramps and blisters - they get cutoff times.

I also tend to catastophize. Just a little. E.g., "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!"

Between all the nice encouraging comments, a couple of private emails, and Sweet Baboo's tireless efforts (he actually analyzed my times and splits and compared them to the cutoff of 3:15 pm at SOMA, as well as making a few phone calls to ask questions of race directors, and working up a new training plan for me for the next month, completely removing any and attempts on my part to have any excuse whatsoever for giving up, as he often has done throughout our marriage) I've decided that I can do this. I can make this cutoff.

Plus, we've already paid the registration fee. I'm listed. If I don't show up, I'll be DNS, (did not start) which is far worse than DNF.

In other news, I'm peeling. And itchy. When I get to soma, I'll bring lots of liquid and SPF lotion. Also, this morning, I weighed in at 154 pounds, which means I've now lost 40 pounds since beginning all this madness in January of 2005.

Dread pirate has me on the demotivator kick now, so I'll throw in one more of them from despair, inc. as a last ditch attempt to catastrophize.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Soma Second Thoughts.


Now that I'm deeply into my post-race funk, I'm having second thoughts about Soma.

I've been looking at the cutoff time (3:15) and the high number of DNF's, and it occurs to me that probably, many of these people actually finished, but didn't meet the cutoff time or were forced to leave the course.

I'm used to being last, or nearly last. I don't mind losing. I'm used to having aid stations torn down as I go past, or even before I go past. I'm used to volunteers going home, and being accompanied by someone as the last runner in.

I know I'm getting a little faster over time. As well, for me, for now, there is the finishing, the acknowledgement and the recorded splits. They all say I finished. It may have taken me 8:56:00 to finish a half iron, but by golly, I showed up, did it, and never quit, no matter how hard it was.

However, I'm not sure that I'm internally motivated enough to work my ass off for over 8 hours, to swim, pedal and pound, then try to cross where the finish line was a few minutes ago, only to be told, "you weren't fast enough" and be labeled DNF. I'm not sure I would appreciate being lumped in with someone who walked up, stuck their toe in the lake, and then didn't try at all.

I think I could make the cutoff time. I think I could, but I'm not positive. I'm just not sure that I want to try that hard only to be told, "Your best just wasn't good enough. You didn't try hard enough. DNF"

As a teacher, I live in a world of external motivators, aka grades. It's a repulsive thought, the idea of saying to my students, "yes, you worked awfully hard on this project, but you didn't meet my standards, so I'm giving you a zero. Not credit at all. Now go away."

So I have some thinking to do, about whether or not I want to be told that my best just isn't good enough, and about whether I'm strong enough to handle it if/when it comes.

...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Now, I am a Redman-er-person.

(Note: new pictures uploaded, below)
We were standing on the shore of Lake Heffner, and it was 7:00 am.
I was staring up at the sky, muttering to myself "get lighter. get lighter". I did NOT want to swim in the dark. Under my feet, the shore was thick, red, Oklahoma mud. I liked the way it squished between my toes. It was cold, and I was anxious for the swim to start, because I'd heard the water was 70 degrees, and the air we were standing in was in the upper 50's or lower 60's, and windy.
Sweet Baboo gave me a kiss before walking toward the front of the swim start, ready to head out on his adventure to do his first full iron distance race.

BANG! The shotgun went off, and we started walking - some running - the 100 yards to begin swimming, because the shore area was so shallow, and then it was another 100 yards swimming out to the first buoy.

The water was surprisingly choppy, and the waves were high. I had to start breathing on the left - thank Good I'm good at bilateral breathing, - because every time I turned my head to breath on the right, a wave would smack me in the face.

The current was strong, and I veered off course several times, but not too far. Every once in a while, someone would cut across-directly perpendicular, mind you-my course, backstroking or something like that. I heard later that one guy in the half was out there for three hours before they finally pulled him from the water, blue with cold and disoriented, and took him to the medical tent.

As I swam toward the shore, others in the full were already headed out on their second loop, and I knew Sweet Baboo was one of them.

Deducting the time I spent walking to and from the first buoy, my swim time was around an hour or so, pretty much on target. I swam and swam until I noticed people walking next to me, and then stood up in waist-deep water, walked through the thick, red mud and started pulling down my wetsuit. Karen or Rich, with whom we were staying, took these pictures of us. They were awesome.

I pulled my wetsuit down to my hips, and then plopped down on my butt for the wet-suit strippers to finish the job.

On the swim, my S stood for Slapped in the face by waves.

I trotted over to my bike, feeling good. I had a sweet, sweet transition spot. I was in the first rack right in front of the bike entrence and exit. I hung my wetsuit over the rack, and then pulled on my bike shorts. The other two Athenas were there, geering up and headed out. I would never see them again, not till the next day at the ceremony. One of them, along with her husband, was doing her first ever triathlon. She did awesome.

I headed out directly in the wind. It was about 3 miles around the dam and then out onto the boulevard, half of which had been blocked off for us. After that, I never knew again how fast I was going, because my speedometer stopped immediately after leaving the dam around mile 3.2

The roads weren't as bad as I'd anticipated. Somehow, the constant rolling and small potholes at 45 miles per hour in a Honda weren't as bad on a slow bike. The wind, however, was now up to 25 miles per hour with 40 miles per hour gusts. I tried reframing it - first it was refreshing, then challenging.

At the first aid station, around 3.2 miles out (I had just passed a sign that said 10 miles) a volunteer guided me to a bathroom and held my bike for me. I fiddled with the speedometer cable and magnet, but it was not to be. I was in the porta potty for a long time. This is part of the puzzle I'm still trying to put together, because upon reflection, it appears that every bit of hydration I put in my system all day Friday and Saturday passed right on through. I just didn't realize at the time.

Around mile 3.2 (the sign said 20 miles) I stopped at another aid station to get some water for my bike. I tipped the bottle a bit to get some room for the Nuun tablet that would be dissolving in there, and then watched in horror as some of the water went into my little container of electrolyte tablets. Fizzzzzzzzz.
I worked hard to get the water out of there, but after that, they were pretty much glued together.

The countryside was great - green, green trees; red, red, mud, sunflowers, black birds. Very autumnal, peaceful, and of course, the ever present WHOOSH in my ears from the wind, that was gusting from the northwest.

In all, I drank about 6 bottles of water on the trip. I thought that would be enough.
I was wrong.

At mile 3.2 (40 miles, according to the sign) the wind had become disouraging. still, I was only 18 miles away and feeling pretty good - my legs weren't tired, I wasn't particularly tired, just pissed at the wind. Sweet Baboo says it's pointless to get angry at the wind, because it's nothing personal.
How wrong he is!
It's in MY face.
It's wasting MY energy.
It's holding ME back.
It's very damned personal.
Race officials and directors did a bang up job of controlling the cars bent on heading for a Saturday at the mall so that we could have a closed lane to ourselves. The ride back to the dam was largely uneventful save for the couple of cars that ignored traffic directions and then stopped, bewildered.
in my lane.
as I was coming.
A policeman ran up and banged on the guy's back trunk lid, screaming at him to move, and he finally did.

On the bike, my S stood for Sunburned, because my nasty sunburn stopped at the top of my bike shorts, not my running shorts (see below)

In T2, I changed shorts and hit the loo, grabbed my race belt and trotted out onto the course. I was feeling pretty good but noticed that I was going much slower than my anticipated 12-minute pace. I couldn't seem to speed up, and I didn't understand it; my legs weren't tired, and nothing hurt,
but
I felt tired.
Weary.
I muttered and sang to myself, and took a few walk breaks, but I wasn't drinking much because the wind was so strong that I didn't feel hot.
I did a great job of loading up my bra top with ice chips. I was afraid that if I gulped any water, I'd get a side stitch, so I just focused on cooling myself down.
That was my mistake.
Turns out that getting hot is your body's way of saying, "we're thirsty; drink NOW."
I also poured water over the top of my head, further confounding my body's temperature sensors - and further convincing myself that I was not thirsty.
Slower, slower, and still slower. By the turn around on the half marathon I sat down, sipped a cup of ice water with an electrolyte tablet, sucked down a good, stretched, and felt better. Duh. That should have been a clue.

By the time I reached mile 9, I knew that I wasn't going to do any better than 3rd place (there were only 3 Athenas) and wasn't going to make my 8-hour cutoff

Let it go, man, I said to myself. Just finish.

But I was just. so. tired.
I didn't get it.
What as going on?
I tried walk breaks', nothing was working.
I felt cool and comfortable. Chilly, even.
Around mile 10, some medic volunteers passed me in a golf cart, looked back, and then turned around to look at me.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just tired."
"Are you sure?"
"
Yes!" Geeze, did I look that bad?
Frowning, they drove off.

No cramps.
No muscle soreness.
No blisters.
So, why am I so slow?
Why can't I go faster?
Shit. This is taking forever.
I'm so tired. Why am I so tired?
Maybe I need another goo.

I pulled into the next stop and one of the women there frowned at me. "You have cold bumps," she said.
"I know, I 've been stuffing my bra top with ice chips."
She frowned again. "Do you feel okay?"
What was wrong with these people?
"Yes, I'm just tired."

More trudging. Slower, and slower, and slower.
this is crazy. If I can't do this, how am I ever going to do a full ironman?

Maybe I'm not cut out to do this. Maybe I'm a sprint kind of gal.

I wonder how Sweet Baboo is doing.
I wonder if I'll finish.

By mile 10, I was starting to imagine rest stops where there weren't any. I wouldn't call these full blown illusions. I was a little disoriented.
Also, I didn't realize it, but somewhere probably before the halfway point, I'd stopped sweating. completely.
It wasn't just that the high winds were cooling me off, I was running, albeit slowly, and the usual places weren't getting sweaty the wasteband of my pants, the band on my bra top, etc.
I noticed that I was kind of wondering on the path.

I passed Sweet Baboo at mile 12.5 - he was on his way out on the first half of his marathon for the full. Big kiss. Then he was off on the first of his 26.2 miles.

When I finally shuffled into the finish area, there was a long gate and people yelling. Yes! I was finally done! I was a - what was I? Half an ironman?
Red carpet.

When I came across the finish line, I cried, sobbing into Karen's shoulder as she - someone - put a finisher's medal on my neck. then walked me over to a table, where I was handed a finisher's T-shirt. 8:59. Fully an hour past my goal time. Yikes.

My S stood for Stubborn now.

The a lady at the T-shirt table said, 'Are you cold?'
Again with the frown.
"Yes, it's cold out here, isn't it?" After all, she was wearing a jacket.

"Yes, but I didn't just do a half iron triathlon."

I thought about it some more, and Karent said I was "white, really, really white"
and wondered over to the medical tent.
they took my temperature: 95.6 degrees. I got my very own foil blanket. Turns out I was pretty dehydrated. They put an IV in me, and about a liter of fluid.

"When was the last time you went to the bathroom?"
"um... um... about 4 hours ago.
"do you need to go now?"
"No."

Again with the frowns.
"Do you feel dizzy?"
"I feel kinda drunk."
"Well, let's see if we can sober you up," said the nice medic guy.
I spent 45 minutes in the tent, until my temp came back to normal, and my O2 sat improved, and even then they made me walk around until I could prove that I was able to do it on my own.

Then I got a nice message at the message tent. That's when I realized how sunburned I was. Ouch.

Lessons Learned:
1. I had a nice, meshy top I could have worn over my sky crop, if I wasn't so in love with the wind on my skin and all that crap. Wind on your skin means sun on your skin. Sunburn. I also had sunscreen. Why didn't I wear it? I don't know. But it's another reason I'm now a "redman."

2. When I went up to collect my 3rd place award (Athena) we were invited to select something from the prize table as well. I selected a nice, wide fuel belt.
Next time, I will hydrate, even if it means spending more time in transition and/or drinking on the bike until my stomach is ready to burst. I really believe that, had I been fully hydrated, I could have pulled this off my goal time of 8 hours.

3. The training really paid off. All the rollers I was worried about when we drove the course were no big deal. Today, two hours later, I have a bit of muscle stiffness - mainly in my quads - but nothing near the soreness I've had in the past. I feel great.

4. Whatever problems I had with my hydration, I got the electrolytes right. Not one single cramp, not even a tiny one.

5. The sexy black toe socks were awesome. Not even the hint of a blister. Of course, I was dehydrated, and not sweating, but I'd also done a 6-mile or so run the week before in them. They are great. so were the Highly Technical Underpants. Get them, and make sure you have a nice big toe box in your running shoes, too.

6. Bilateral breathing is really handy to be able to do when you can't breath out one side, either because you have a very spashy person swimming next to you or waves slapping you in the face.

7. Now that I've realized my mistakes, I'm ready to try a couple of full marathons, a century or two, and maybe my first full ironman in late 2007. I think I could do it. I may even come back to the Redman, since they don't pull you off their course. one guy finished after midnight; they closed down all the aid stations and followed him in a golf cart/portable aid station so that he could finish. Awesome. OKC rocks.

8. OKC Redman: Highly recommended! They cater to you. They fuss over you. They are the best stocked aid stations I've ever seen: veritable buffets with goo, enduralytes, gatorade, water, boiled potatoes, ice, etc., and the most enthusiastic volunteers. They block traffic. Safety is their utmost goal. when you finish, you get a finisher's medal and finisher's T-shirt, which is bright red and says, "finisher" on the front and "TRIATHLETE 70.3" on the back. At the awards ceremony, you get a full breakfast and beverages.

Today, my S stands for Stupendous.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tag - you're it

Dread Pirate had this link to a place where you can make your own de-motivational poster. I actually cheated and made two of them, because it was so much fun. click on the images to see them more clearly.


I've shown you mine; now you show me yours.

...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Adventure Begins.


Our hosts have wi-fi. Cool!

Here's my race packet. Nice stuff. Lots of stickers and stuff with my name AND number printed on it. Recoverites and even a sticker for my car (Note the 70.3) after I finish. Husband, doing the full, got a nice sports bag. Me, being a second class citizen doing the half, got a red nylon transition bag. But I'm not complaining.

The good news is that I ate and drank and peed all day long and made i to 160 pounds for packet picket - and there was no weigh-in. Oh, well. At least I can now sleep with the knowledge that when I registered and at packet-pickup I was Athena Legal. Tomorrow we check in our bike. Toodles!

Okay, maybe one more post.

It's 4:31 am here, and we've got the car all packed up. We've made arrangements for the Jonster, Hissy, Witty, Stella, and Lily. The cell phone is charged. Accomodations are ready. The last item on my to do list is packing my transition bag(s).

Knowing that I'm both a) Vain and, b) Like to mess with Photoshop and, c) Have far too much time on my hands, I'll share with you what the Vain Triathlete will be wearing at the Redman this year.

The SWIM is wetsuit legal, and I'll be wearing my sky crop (actually, I'll be wearing my pink one, since the black one hasn't arrived. Stupid UPS) my corrective swim goggles, and my Highly Technical Underwear. Actually, I'll be wearing the Skye Crop and Highly Technical Underwear all the way through the Redman, since they dry quickly. My Road ID will be my chip strap.

At TI I'll hit the ladies room, if I need to do so and the line isn't too long, strip off the wetsuit, dry my feet some (I'm lucky that I don't have horribly sweaty feet, so they usually dry pretty well on the bike) and don emsem #2 for the bike: This includes a pair of sugio cycling shorts, which are the most comfortable I've worn, my pink PI skull socks, my Shimano carbon cycling shoes, and my sunglasses and sweat band. If it's below 65, I'll take along my Terry bolero, which is a nice arm warmer. It ties around my waist when I don't kneed it. In my bento box, I'll be carrying along my inhaler, sunscreen stick, Burts Bees tinted lip stuff, a package of Nuun tablets and some Clif blocks with caffein. I had some Vegan jerky, but it disappeared. Thanks, Jonster. Then I'll grab the Wunderfrost, on which there will prepared Nuun solution both in cage1 (cage 2 has a pre-stretched spare Tubular tire and quick fill cartrige) and the aerobottle, and head out. the Nuun tabs are dropped in plain water, and in 2 minute, voila, perfect electrolyte balancing solution with no added sugar. Very light and easy on the stomach.

At T2, I'll exchange the cycling shorts for running shorts, and the PI skull socks for my Sexy Black Toesocks. If there's no line at the ladies room, I'll hit it and get rid of the Highly Technical Underwear, since the shorts have built in briefs. If my legs feel tired, I'll grab my running knickers instead, which have some compression. Then I'll exchange the headsweats for a bat, skip on my NB 766's, and I'm off for 13.1 miles of shufflewalking. I'll also be carrying (on my race belt) a small pack that includes Nuun tablets, my inhaler, and Clif blocks.

I imagine I'll have time for a snack before Sweet Baboo finishes the full IM. I've often joked that we should be pulling in about the same time.

See you Sunday. Or maybe Monday. We'll see what the REDMAN does to me.

...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Making Weight


So, I went to sleep at 160 pounds last night (yay!) and woke up at 156 (boo). What the hell is that all about? Could I have possibly exhaled THAT much water vapor in the night? The bed was dry when I got up...where did all that weight go?
I wouldn't mind except I really don't feel ready to to race against all the tiny bird people.
There's some sort of sick and cruel irony to all this, but I'm too nervous about this weekend to spend much time and energy on it. Perhaps, as Nytro mentioned, I flipped off the wrong person as a child. Meanwhile, I'm sticking to low fat, high-carb foods and lots of fluids. Geez.

Today I spent the day trying to transfer all my thoughts and ideas onto 4 sheets of paper for my subs. It's more work than it sounds like. Imagine, in your job, if you had to leave descriptions of your coworkers and your job while you're gone:

"Now Jenny has been a bit tempermental since the divorce. If she shows up with her mouth all set in a tight line, it's best not to ask her how things are, just let her go outside for a smoke if she needs to cool off. Jeremy tends to aggravate others, so when you arrange the meeting, put him near you and NOT near Jenny. He leaves his work area messy, too, to make sure he cleans it up. Take attendance at the meeting and report it to the supervisor before leaving. If anyone throws up, send them to the company nurse. Don't try to run Word and Excel at the same time; the computer will freeze up. Don't use the mouse on the computer on the left; the ball gets stuck. And don't open the windows. It's not allowed."

Tonight, I'm going pack up the food for the trip, including all the last minute carb stuff and post-race carb/protein stuff. Tomorrow we're heading first to a local eatery to stuff ourselves silly, and I'm packing sandwiches for the rest of the trip. After that, I think it's about a 10 hours drive to Oklahoma.

2.5 days until the mass swim start. There seems to be about 430 people registered. Should be interesting. I think I'll double Karens advice and count to 10 before I go in.

I may not have a chance to post again before Saturday morning. My bib number is 1254. I note that it is a number divisible by 3. That really has no significance other than something I noticed. Send nice thoughts my way, about 6:45 am Central Daylight Time.

...

Monday, September 18, 2006

My body remembers too well.

A few days ago I wrote about how I might have to change my registration because I was 5 pounds below the cutoff for Athenas at the Oklahoma REDMAN, which I'm running on Saturday.
It is to laugh. With all the carbs and sodium I've been ingesting, it's truly disheartening how quickly my body responded.

"Oh, you want to gain weight? Well, why didn't you say so??"

BOINGGG. Three pounds up so far.
I would have appreciated a little more of a struggle with this endeavor.

I spent today clearing up and entering all grades for my students. Tomorrow, I start writing plans for my sub while I'm on my way to Oklahoma (Thursday and Friday). When ordering subs, one never knows if they'll get someone with a degree in science or someone who cannot spell the word 'science' without a spellchecker, so the lesson plans have to be clear, easy, and straightforward. Plans have to be made. Good behavior extorted from 90 eighth-graders.

5 days until the REDMAN.

...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sexy socks and highly technical underpants.

This morning, I went for a slow, 5 mile jog. It still amazes me to see things like that in print.

I

went for a
5 mile
slow jog.

My legs launched an immediate protest. "You made us run yesterday," they said. "and pedal a bike, too."
"Shut up, bitches," I said, "or I'll make you run faster. Now that I know you can, I'll be expecting it more often."
They ceased their outward protest, but engaged in passive-agressive behavior by slowly tightening my quads and hamstrings until I could barely move. I slogged my way through it, anyway, and what I hope will be my pace on Saturday.


I tested out my sexy new socks today. After taking a picture of them last night, I plopped down on the bed, stuck my feet up so that I could admire my very cool, very sexy toe socks, and said to Sweet Baboo: "Admit it - you're ALWAYS wanted to do it with a woman wearing black toe socks."

And, being both wonderful AND wise, he admitted that of course, he had.

Sexy foot bling passed the most important test of all when I ran this morning: I didn't notice them, and forgot they were on. I also tested out some new underwear that I got at REI, super wicking black Ex-Officio highly technical underpants.

Now, there's a phrase I never thought I'd say:

Highly.
Technical.
Underpants.

Anyhoo, since I plan to pull off my wetsuit this weekend, and slip on a pair of bike shorts, I wanted something that was light, thin, fast-drying, and resembled swimsuit bottoms. I accidentally bought Mediums, but I am HAPPY to report that at least for this clothing company, my ass is Medium-sized, instead of large or XL, as Louis Garneau and SportSkirts insist that it is. (Note to the aformentioned LG and SP: if ever you insist that my ass is Extra Large, I will NOT, repeat WILL NOT, wear your clothes) I am happy to report that the Highly Technical Underwear passed its own test, both by being breathable and barely noticeable.

Then, Sweet Baboo and I went over a local world food store and picked up lots of gnochi, which in my opinion, is the best carb-loading food in the world. It's little pasta pillows, about an inch long, stuffed with mashed potatoes. Think miniature perogies. It's in little packages that don't have to be refrigerated, either. Think electric hot pot. We also bought lots of yakisoba, which I steam instead of frying.

This, of course, the week before the REDMAN, is carb and electrolyte loading week in the Double-barreled and Sweet Baboo household. Otherwise known as my old crappy old eating habits. I was down to 155 as of this morning, and now it's painful to be deliberately eating extra portions of heavy carbs, but everyone promises that as long as I lay off the fat, it will all be water weight and I'll be rid of it later. If not, they will die for their treachery.

[A side note: If I DON't end up at 160 by Friday, I'll have to change my registration to age-grouper, because the REDMAN cutoff for Athenas is 160.]

So, this week, lots of pasta, potatoes, and V8-juice. V8 juice has horrifying amounts of sodium, but as we want to make sure we don't have de crumps this Satuday, we are loading up on Na+ and K+.

6 days until the REDMAN. This time next week, Brian and I should be headed back to Albuquerque, fingering our finisher's medals with an almost obscene glee.

...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cotton Country 2006 (race report)

I got a new PR on my run today!
Okay, well, it's possible that most of us were just trying to outrun the mosquitoes. Turns out that this little town near Lubbuck gets all its annual precipitation in the same month, and then they have a mosquito bloom. I never saw such aggressive mosquitoes. They were biting me through my clothes. I was HAPPY to start running.

In any case, what exactly my PR is all depends on how long the run was. It was supposed to be a 5K. At one point during the run I saw a painted arrow that said, "TURN AROUND," but nobody else was turning around, and I'm damned if I'm going to be DQ'd for going off course, so I kept running. Some distance after that, I saw a volunteer who said, "turn around here".

During that time I had two people head of me that I'd picked to try and pass, using a kind of slow and steady increased pace, working on not blowing myself up by going out too fast. I found out that one of them was Shy-try girl. She didn't have an A on her calf like I did, so I didn't realize it was her until I heard a very quiet hello. I turned to see who it was, and then saw the T-shirt from the tri she did last weekend, so I said Hi back, but I could barely talk. I really was working hard just to pass anyone.

There was some other guy that was keeping pace with me for a while, really friendly, talking a mile a minute, but jeez, I can't talk when I'm running. I can barely breathe. eventually ran off, clearly bored with my failure to hold up my end of a conversation while running. I spent the rest of the race trying to catch up to him again, for no other reason that to see if I could. I never did catch up to him on the run, but I passed him on the bike later. He said, "Good job!"

Damn straight.
Hope you pedal as hard as you talk, talking boy.

It's ugly when I'm feeling competitive.

But back to the run. Every once in a while I'd think too myself, in a whining kind of thinking voice, "this is too fast. I can't keep this up. I'm breathless. this is too hard". I would then promptly punish myself for such whimpiness by doing 50 yards or so at a much faster pace. I did that a lot. I should do it again, because it made me fast.

Also, as it turns out, that the volunteer was in the wrong place. Oops! Estimates are that the run was actually 3.3 or 3.4 miles. If that's true, then my run pace was between 10:00 and 10:14. That's the fastest I've ever run before. EVAR.

Okay, okay, so it's not exactly blazing fast.
It's my PR, and I'm keeping it.

The twelve-mile out-and-back bike headed out in a 20 to 30 mph wind gusts. Whee. You know, there's nothing I like better than riding into a headwind. You?

Seriously, though, after I do the initial cursing of the almighty and asking myself why I do this crap, I've come to accept that if I race in West Texas and New Mexico in the spring and fall, I'm going to be battling some pretty bad winds.

This is one area in which I'm glad I was heavy. It was quite a chore heading into that wind. All I could hear was WHOOOOOSH. Every once in a while there would be a nice little cross gust, and I kept thinking, geeze, I'm glad I'm heavy. Any lighter and the bike would just start going sideways.

I was also thinking to myself, "Don't assume that there's going to be any wind behind you when you turn around". Wind on the plains in Texas is tricky. It may FEEL like you're heading into it, but then you turn around, and you're heading into it again. Wind in my face on the OUT and BACK? S$&T!

At the same time, I'm crawling along at what I'm sure is about 4 miles per hour, and the road is bumpy, so I'm trying to look at my back tire without crashing or running off the road, convinced that it must be low on air. I had the same sensation last year.

When I went around the turnaround, the world fell silent. Holy S&$T, I actually had a tail wind. --At this point, mind you, I had gone, oh, zero miles and was apparently standing still, according to my malfunctioning cyclometer.

In any case I headed back as fast as I could, and never felt any more wind. It was quiet and calm. It was actually surreal: I could see plants blowing almost sideways, and things blowing across the road, but I didn't feel anything.

I could also see Shy-tri girl on her way out, and how hard she was working. I wanted to shout some encouragement, something like, "it's AWESOME on the way back!" but I knew that all she could hear was WHOOOOSH.

I think my pool swim was pretty fast, but I'll never know. Not only does this triathlon not record splits, but I didn't push the watch buttons right. All I know is that my bike and swim together were 57 minutes, and my run was 34 minutes. My overall time was 1:34.

Afterwards, there are shower facitilites, and I tried a new trick: I used a spa exfoliating glove to take off the permanant marker number, and it works SPLENDIDLY. They fed the triathletes hamburgers with fixin's and chips. (I had the buns and fixins minus the burgers). The first place awards are little "trophies" that are cotton bales. Now I have two! (See above)

Results:

  1. A new PR for my run.
  2. Athena, first place.
  3. Although the run was longer, and the wind was gusting pretty heavily, I beat my time last year by 6 minutes.
  4. Last year, as I reported, I got my ass kicked by a man in the 65-70 age group, and I was dead last. I'm happy to report that this year I beat him. Yeah, I know. I'm pathetic, right?
  5. Sweet baboo got first place, Clydesdale. (And he was going to relax on this tri. Yeah, right.)
  6. This is a very cool, fast, very fun little sprint. The race director, DeeDee, is a hoot. And they feel you.
In other news, we stopped at REI and got new socks for next weeks REDMAN, as well as two boxes of Cliffbars, on sale.
[
My REDMAN Bib number, by the way, is 1254. I don't know if they'll "track" us online, but in case they do, you can track me by that number]

The socks --> are INJINJI socks.

Aside from looking very cool with sandals, they have individual compartments for each toe, to cut down on sweaty rubbing blistery stuff. Fellow Athena Helen says they are great for marathons and endurance runs, but I just can't wait to wear them to work some day with sandals and see if anyone notices. There's just something very nerdly cool about them.

Less than a week to the start of the REDMAN. By this time next week, I should be soaking, or sleeping. With my finishers medal around my neck. My motto is, "I'll take the damned medal off when my legs stop hurting."

...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I run.

"The question is," the pseudo-intellectual smirked,

when the topic turned to running
and runners,

"What are they running from?"


What am I running from?

I'm running from a size 16, 14, 12...
and a number on the scale,
from a lifetime of bad habits,
from hating my body
from a family history of depression and obesity
from diabetes
from a genetic predisposition to heart failure.

I run.

I run from the past,
from pain,
from ten years of smoking,
from asthma,
from fallen arches
from, "too old"
from, "too late"

I run.

I run from feeling trapped,
from feeling like a loser,
from past regrets,
from things I wished I'd done differently,

I run from the back of the pack,
from DNF,
from "you're too slow,"
from "you must be crazy,"
from, "isn't that hard on your knees?"

when I run,
I run to nowhere in particular.

I run alone,
without fanfare,
without audience,
just me and the pre-dawn darkness
and my footsteps.

I know I'm slow,
and I run like a girl.

Try and keep up.

...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Running Naked (clothing review)

About two weeks ago, Myles and I went to the New Balance store in Albuquerque. We both wear NB 766 shoes. Myles has had disastrous results when he's tried to switch to any other shoe, so I've learned a vicarious lesson and stick to the tried and true. It's a stability shoe, and has recently been upgraded to the 767, which is a bit more breathable.

This shoe is so terrific for me that whenever I get a new pair, I don't even have to break them in. They are ready to go, ready to race in, as is.

I also picked up some running clothes. I bought a "Sky Crop" top and a pair of "Meter" shorts. there's a picture of the sky crop to the right. The darker areas, as well as the entire back, are mesh. The one I bought was kind of a dark pink with white mesh, but I plan to get a black one for racing in, since the Outlaws (my team) all wear black. The "meter" shorts are small, split on the side, and have a built-in seamless brief.

The combination of the two is the closest I've come to running naked, I swear.

I took off the first day for my pre-dawn run, no watch, just the top, shorts, socks, shoes and it felt great. I tend to heat up quite a bit, or maybe I'm just extremely intolerant, and this top just wicks and wicks and wicks. It offers great support, as well, which most crops don't do without trying to make the dreaded uniboob. Around the neighborhood, I've taken to adding a soft mesh t-back top, because I don't like being stared at. I love this top. I may marry it. That's how great it is.

I'm going to get them for running events, and I want to try and see if I can swim in it next, to see if I could wear it in a triathlon.

Today, I wore my new Pearl Izumi cycling skort instead of my cycling shorts on my long bike (67 miles)

I do. not. recommend. this.


It is very cute, but it is not for long rides. After 20 miles, I started to feel, shall we say, tender.

(Not in a good, "love me tender" sort of way, but in a bad, "don't love me - I'm tender" sort of way. )

I was practicing putting power on the entire stroke, not just pushing, but pulling with my legs as well, and now my quads are really, really pissed off. I sat in a cold bath when I got home, so my legs feel pretty good, but I'm worried that I've compromised my long run tomorrow, which is supposed to be 12 miles.

Two weeks to the Redman 70.3. One of Myles' collegues lives 5 minutes from the race start has volunteered to let us stay with him. Mega-cool. Wunderfrost the Wunderbike is in the shop getting tuned up.

Next weekend, I'm doing an extended brick workout: It's called the Cotton Country sprint triathlon, and it was the first triathlon I ever did, so I'm eager to compare my time last year to my time now.

I never did get a chance to swim this week. I've been so busy at work it's pathetic. This week, for sure. I really want to try out my new paddles.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Stuff.

Labor day they had a sale at Sports Outdoorz in Albuquerque - 20% off anything you could fit into a brown paper bag. There I ran into Jane and family, including the twins, who are so cute they ought to be patented.

Anyway, I am never one to miss a good sale, so Sweet Baboo and I each bought a pair of Tyr handl paddles for strengthening your stroke. (I got the green ones) I think I have good form, but am just not able to move my hands through the water fast enough to really be speedy. I also got a pair of speedo flippers, which are supposed to increase ankle flexibility and nobody needs that more than I, the queen of the twisted ankle. I bought a "head sweats" head band - frosty blue, of course,to match Wunderfrost, and a pair of Teva transition sandlas, and some neoprene thingys to keep my regular glasses from sliding off because I have to wear them to run in the dark.

Earlier that morning, Sweet Baboo and I did our weekly long run. I went 11 miles, my longest continuous run-with no walking-EVAR, and he went, oh, like to Arizona or something.

I was carrying this flashlight that I bought at WalGreens for $5 - it has a kinetically rechargable battery in it, meaning that you shake it to recharge it, and an LED lightbulb. It seemed to do the trick, because it never dimmed in the 70 minutes or so that I used it.

Then I swam a half mile and called it a day. Myles came back and swam 4000 meters. After running 20 miles.

You know, not very many people make me feel lazy, but he manages quite nicely. And, there was a time when I would have felt very inadequate in the face of all that determination and strength. Now I just give silent thanks that he' is not a she that I'll ever compete against.

Of course, if I really start to feel inadequate I can just lean forward and comment on his form. "Hey, did you know that your legs kinda go off kilter when you're doing your bilateral breathing?
Nothing makes me feel better about myself than a good juicy critique.

But back to shopping. My favorite purchase, I think, was new socks. Isn't it weird how we are about the socks? Jane Williams talked about fun cycling socks in her book. Anyway, Myles has some very cool black socks with skulls on them that I thought were quite appropriate for Outlaws, so I was very excited to find a pair of socks that were both Outlawish, and in keeping with my newly acquired attention to gurlishness.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What am I, if I'm not an Athena?


Right now, as I'm typing this, I'm at 157 on the scale.

I wasn't planning on losing any weight, but I figure that the lighter I am, the faster I could get, so maybe it's a good thing. I'm running 4 or 5 miles on my short run days, and then a long run on the weekends. Sweet Baboo has been taking me on long bike rides, and I'm commuting to work occasionally on the bike as well. Since this coincides with going back to work, where I have a 30-minute lunch break, this means I'm likely to no longer be Athena legal by the end of the season of the SWC Series. The last tri of the season is October 1st.

When I started this blog, I was a 196 pounds and 66 inches tall. I lost 30 the first three months, just by cutting portions and being a little more active. Since March of 2005, however, I haven't lost a pound, but I've been getting smaller.

I must have been about 99% fat when I started.

My training was very hit or miss, but my body was so desperately unfit that ANYTHING was better than nothing, and so I started firming up. Then, in August, I decided I really, really wanted to be a better runner and started getting serious. I also started hydrating more, which makes me feel better but takes up lots of space, so that I wind up not eating as much. And I've cut back a little on fat.

("Yeah," you're thinking, "she's a Vegan; it's easy to lose weight" but potato chips, most donuts (I've checked) Paul Newman Dark Chocolate Bars, and soy lattes are all Vegan. So is deep fried tofu. If you really, really want to eat fat, you can do it in any venue or context.

People at work who haven't seen me since May exclaim, "You look great! What have you been doing?!?"

"Running, swimming, and cycling" I reply

"Oh," they say, looks of disappointment on their faces.

They wonder away, somewhat disgruntled.

I've shared this with Sweet Baboo, who said that they'd probably be happier if I lied and told them I'd done some insane "only purple foods diet" or, "eat butter on all your food and lose weight while you sleep diet."

I've had several people ask me, "If you're not an Athena anymore, what will you call your blog?"

I've had several ideas:

  • Tales From the Back of the Pack (probably already taken)
  • Geek Girl Diaries (geek girl was my college nickname, and it's been on every license plate I've had for the past eight years, through 3 states)
  • Geek Runner
  • TOM8TO Diaries (TOM8TO was the runner-up when I was trying to pick my vanity license plate several years ago)
  • She Ain't Heavy She's Just Slow
  • Slow, Brave Age-Grouper (with apologies to VJ)
  • Slow Cowardly Age-Grouper
  • Diary of a Mad Runner
  • At Least I Finished
Any suggestions would be appeciated. Maybe I'll have a contest. I could send the winner my old size 18 pants.

Or maybe I'll start eating more, and then I won't have to think about it for a while.

...

Friday, September 01, 2006

The family that tris together...

I would like to announce that Mini-me, age 15, has completed 14 events--4 duathlons, 10 sprint triathlons, an Olympic distance tri, and a 4K run--this season.

Due to the insanity of his parents, who became involved with triathlon in 2005, he got dragged around to various events, until he finally asked when he could do one. Now, when we show him a flyer and ask "wanna do this one?" he aks, thoughtfully, about the course, "is it flat?" and other questions. Because none of the other kiddos in his division (19 and under) have done enough to qualify, it's likely he'll win in the Southwest Challenge Series in his division.

At first, in typical teenage fashion, he tried to use them as leverage, but we refused to be drawn into it. "We're proud of you if you do them, and we're proud of you if you don't. " Eventually, he figured out that there were so few kids doing them, he'll almost always bring home some hardware.

Who doesn't love a medal?

Sweet Baboo made sure he had the necessary equipment, so he owns running shoes, race belt, a skin suit, and a wetsuit. He didn't work out during the summer, at all, but after I passed him in an Olympic triathlon, he woke up. (The Olympic, I always like to emphasize, was tough for him, but he never quit. He finished it, and was even running at the finish)

He's even joined Cross Country to help improve his triathlon time.

I like the people he's exposed to. He's learning good sportsmanship not just from our lecturing, or a coach yelling about it, but he sees it in action, modeled by adults, over and over again. He sees people who have finished and picked up their hardware going out to cheer in the late runners instead of just leaving. As triathlon is not always a cheap sport, of course all the men he meets work full time, go out for group rides, and then excuse themselves to go home and be with their families.

He saw his Dad miss out on two triathlons because of an injury, and handle it with grace and good cheer, showing up to cheer on Mini-me and myself and take pictures.

This is good stuff.

His teachers tell me that he's calm and well-behaved in class, and we've noticed that he's calmer at home, too. Of course, it's possible that some of that is due to age and maturity, but honestly, if you're running 15+ miles a week, you don't have a lot of energy left to raise hell. I've gt a couple of students that I'D like to take out and run around the track.

Today was his first cross country meet in Clovis, and in honor of this event I've decided he's outgrown the name Mini-me. As well, at 170 pounds and 5'10", he's hardly "Mini" anything. I'm going to start calling him by his earlier childhood nickname: the Jonster.

He's been wanting to do Rock-n-roll Arizona, ever since he found out about all the cheerleaders lining the course. However, he's too young and it's not allowed. Perhaps next year.

go, Jonster, go!