Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Wow such anger over a lone cyclist finishing up a nice ride before heading off to a teaching assignment. All I can think of is that;
1. Your ex-wife is a cyclist.
2. You are very insecure and intimidated by women who are more fit then you.
3. You don't exercise so you have no way of releasing pent up frustration.
4. All of the above.
Perhaps if you did some exercise you would be more relaxed and able to cope with the "inconvenience" of having to go around a cyclist on the road.
Have a nice day!
Fit fifty-something female.
PS. Bite me!!!! :-)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Saturday night we had the pasta party with the 5 other TNT chapters that are doing the race. No matter how many events I do with TNT I'm always really moved by the survivors who speak at the pre-race pasta party. Both people had amazing stories to share, and their attitude regarding the illness is amazing. I wonder if I'd be that brave if faced with a catastrophic illness.
So much for client/massage therapist confidentiality. I get back from the pasta party and there's a long phone message from my friend and fellow KC traveller, Mary. She also gets her massages from Lisa. I guess she and Lisa were talking about my pre-race anxieties that I had been venting to Lisa about during last week's massage session. Mary gave me this wonderful pep talk about how Westchester is my home field, and that I know the course and am a strong hill climber. She told me not be scared by some outsider from Florida. It gave me a great boost, and put me in a good frame of mind for Sunday.
So why did I title this entry "Much Ado About Nothing"? First of all the ringer from Florida was a no-show. I kept looking for a bike at her assigned spot on the rack. Nada! She did not end out making the trip after all. Second of all, the woman who my USI teammate said was so awesome a cyclist and runner and would probably win the age group, is deathly afraid of the water. She came up to me in before the race and said how scared she was and had been crying all morning. I guess she had been spooked by the choppy water on Saturday, and it looked the same on Sunday. She also was nervous about being in the next last wave with all the guys. I told her to do the swim at her pace, and to remember that she did St. Croix 1/2 iron in the spring. She confessed to me that her swim coach had swam along side her during the race. I had heard she wasn't a very good swimmer, but I didn't realize that she had such water issues. I guess it makes me appreciate the fact that I've been swimming since I was 5, and I'm comfortable in the water.
So to make a long story short, I smoked the age group again by over 10 minutes. If one is interested, the long story can be found at: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=27518&posts=2
Now if only I thought the World Championships could turn out so well. Reality check coming!!!
Friday, September 23, 2005
So what's with Westchester this year? Why am I on edge? I guess as I mentioned on my 9/15 blog entry the prospect of not one, but two serious threats to defending my age group title has me a little unnerved. It really shouldn't matter. After all there have been plenty of races I've done where I known coming in that I would not place. Sometimes I've surprised myself. Saint Anthony's is a prime example of a surprise Top 3 finish. Last year's Nationals with the 9th place finish was another pleasant surprise. So I know I can sometimes pull rabbits out of hats. I guess I've gotten spoiled with my successes as a fifty something.
What makes Westchester so different for me this year? I guess it's the expectations I've put on myself, and those of my teammates both from USI and Team in Training. I love being able to stand up on the podium wearing my TNT colors and say to those watching, "TNT has fast members too!!! Go Team!" Not that I say the first thing out loud. I let my actions say that, but I've been known to let a "Go Team" whoop as I leave the stage. I guess being a mentor puts me even more in the forefront of team consciousness. Maybe it doesn't and I'm placing too much importance on how I do. Though my mentees do talk about how awesome I've done this season.
The next thing that totally set me on edge was the wave assignments. I swear whoever did these assignments was on drugs! WTF where they thinking about when they put the 15 women that comprise the 50-54, 55-59, and 60+ female age groups in the same wave as the 113 men who comprise the 45-49, 50-54 and 55-59 male age groups? Not only that the 60+ men are in the wave in front of us which is mostly women! Why not make wave 8 all women, and wave 9 all men? I'm not sure if it's the prospect of all those guys in my wave that's bugging me, or the wave number.
It sucks! My wave is the next to last wave. Relays are behind us. With almost double the entries from last year the bike course is going to be seriously crowded when I hit the road. I hope the USAT folks are up at the front. :-Þ I hope they're not going to be hanging out on Claire's hill when I have to pass the sea of purple from NYC. I remember passing a lot people on the three climbs on the route. I remember climbing out of Port Chester was a bit of a cluster f#$k with people staying out to the left when they should have been to the right. This may be as big a pain in the ass as Mossman in terms of passing and making time on the bike course.
Okay I feel better now having put my thoughts down on "paper". I don't know how many people out in cyberspace are actually reading this. Even if it's just one person then at least I've been able to blow off some steam without somebody actually having to hear me ramble, or tell me to shut up. Journals have always been a good release for me. The only things that are different are I'm typing instead of keeping a handwritten notebook, and others get to read what I have on my mind. I'm not sure if that's good or not, but I've often thought about wanting to write a book. This is the next best thing.
Friday, September 16, 2005
My running sucks, and I just can't motivate myself to go out and run. I wasted all day Wesdnesday when the weather was nice. Thursday I wasted time again but I finally put on my running clothes on and it started raining again. Yesterday's blog was because I was in big time procrastinating mode. I did finally pull myself away from the blog, and ran for 40 minutes. It was nothing spectacular, but I did make myself run some hills. I miss having Jeannie around. Even though I'd run ahead of her, and loop back at least it was scheduled time on the road. I need a new weekday running partner.
I think my biggest problem is I'm addicted to working out with other people. I love my group rides, and when Mother nature rains on my parade I'm not so inclined to do something on my own. Tuesday was a wash out ride wise because I had to do my civic duty. At least I had my Team in Training group swim and run in the evening to get my sorry ass out of the house.
Chocolate Binges and Sleep:
So what did I do today? I downloaded the Hawaii course for the compu-trainer. I had great intentions of actually doing it, but it didn't work. My husband stayed home today and we went out for lunch. So much for going to the pool for a swim. After lunch I had gotten into the dark chocolate M&Ms. They're a Star Wars themed package called Darth Mix. The motto is "Come over to the Dark Side". When it comes to chocolate it doesn't take much to get me to the Dark Side. These things are truly evil! I can't just eat a handful of M&Ms, so I ate the entire package. (King Size no less!) I've been on a two month long chocolate binge! Argh!!!
There have been studies lately that tie in poor sleep to obesity. I believe it. My sleep has become totally FUBARed. (F#%ked up beyond all recognition.) It's a combination of stress and the hot flashes from hell. Sometimes I think I'm lucky if I manage to fall asleep within an hour and stay asleep for 3 hours. Who knows how much sleep I'm actually getting, but I'm not convinced how much longer I can function like this. I think the lack of sleep is contributing to my chocolate cravings and assorted munchie attacks I have during the day. I'm sure if I wasn't getting exercise I'd gain disgusting amounts of weight.
Pissing Matches on trinewbies.com forums:
I'm a member of several different triathlon message boards. I post on trinewbies, beginnertriathlete, and slowtwitch. The order that I've listed them also is the order of frequency in which I post. Slowtwitch is the hardcore tri-snobs board. Beginnertriathlete is the "touchy, feely rah, rah" board. Trinewbies falls in between the two extremes though at times it seems to have gone away from the newbieness and more towards the hardcore tri-geek. I like all 3 sites, but certain individuals that frequent both trinewbies and slowtwitch drive me crazy.
One thing I do on both trinewbies (TNO) and beginnertriathlete (BT) is post race reports in their race reports forums. It comes naturally to me since for years I've kept very detailed race journals. These forums have become sort of an online race journal for me. Sometimes I'm afraid I ramble on too much, but I like noting the little details that make the race memorable for me. I usually get a few encouraging responses from various forum members congratulating me on placing in my age group. I've had a very good season. Seven triathlons with nothing lower then 3rd place in my age group. I know that streak would have been broken in Kansas City if Mother Nature had not intervened. I'm a realist. If the streak doesn't end in Rye next weekend, it certainly will end in Hawaii. I can live with that.
What makes me crazy is the sarcastic responses I get from one guy from Northern California. He's much faster then me, but he's also younger then me. It seems to totally irk the hell out of him that I can place in my AG with Olympic times in the 2:40-2:45 range. In his age group 2:15 doesn't get him squat. Can I help it if I'm a 51 year old female from the Northeast whereas he's a 40 something male from California? Cna I help it if guys seem to peak in their forties and that those age groups tend to be the biggest ones?
In my latest race report from the Madison Triathlon I had put down my overall placing along with my age group placing in the various sports. He couldn't wait to jump on what I had posted in the slowtwitch forum regarding my opinion being FOP, MOP, BOP in the various disciplines. I answered the question in comparision to other women in my age group though it may not have been clear from my answers. Damn he had a field day with that. We exchanged barbs back and forth about what I had written. All of these exchanges went back and forth on TNO even though my comments that evoked his sarcastic replies came from a completely different forum. I was gratified by the people who had PM'ed me to tell me I didn't need to justify my results for him.
I'm comfortable with who I am, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished despite my sucky running. I'll just keep posting, and not be chased off by idiots like that. Unfortunately some are not so thick skinned, and do get chased off. We had one woman who was frequent contributer on the boards. She's very overweight but is tackling the problem by working on her nutrition, and by getting into triathlons. She's done some super sprints, and shared her race reports, but a few people belittled her efforts. She writes from her heart, and I must say she has given me lots of food for thought in terms of how I look at other people. I hate seeing people like that get chased off, but at least she has a good live support system.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Through out the years I've done this particular race my age group results have always been good. There were a few times that I didn't podium, including the year I broke my PR on the sprint course and placed Top 10 female OA. Unfortunately for me a good portion of those women in the Top 10 were also in my age group. That was back in my "youth" when I was part of a very competitive 35-39 age group. That was also back in the days of BTC. (before timing chips) We would wait around forever it seemed while they tried to sort it all out, and half the time they still managed to mess it up. You never really knew where you finished, and you didn't know whether you were getting an award until you heard the 3rd place time in your age group. Sometimes the awards ceramony didn't start until 2 hours after the last person finished. I don't miss those days!!
The other interesting thing about BTC days was the number of volunteers that were needed to track splits. The Westchester Triathlon was one of the few races I did back then that actually did all 5 splits. Most races I did combined transitions with either the swim and the bike, or bike and the run. (Come to think of it, some races still don't do all 5 splits, even with chips.) Some races did no splits what so ever. I did the 1989 National Sprint Championships and there were no splits. That's too bad. I'd love to see what Lance's bike split was in that race. (Yes, that Lance! 17 years old at the time and smacked all the pros in that race.)
Back then body marking was the way for volunteers to record the numbers of all the athletes as they came out of the water. If you were one of those rare people who used a wetsuit BTC you would have to tell the volunteers your number. I was amazed that they actually managed to get every athlete's number, and that the splits actually made sense.
The other interesting thing about this race is thinking about how much my equipment has changed over the years. Here's a picture of me with the bike from that first Westchester in 1984. Notice the old style Bell Helmet, and I'm actually wearing the race shirt from the event too. It's hard to see the bike completely, but it was an Austro-Daimler mixte frame. (girl's bike with sloped down tube.) I don't remember if I had the handlebar bag on during the race or not!
By the next year I was riding a road bike and as the years went by; my bikes got lighter, and more expensive. It seemed like for awhile every time I got a bike the price doubled. The other thing that happened as my bikes got more expensive was my bike splits got faster. Let's fast forward 21 years and look at my current setup. This picture was taken at Timberman, but this is what I'll be riding. Carbon fiber bike, Zipp 404s, time trial helmet, aero-bars with bar end shifters, aero bottle, etc. Ahhhh how things have changed in 21 years. Though as I look at these two pictures side by side, I think I've aged quite nicely. I like my legs much better at 51 then I did at 30. Thank you very much!
2003 was my first time doing the entire race in the Olympic distance format. I had gotten so stoked by my return to Olympic distance racing with Team in Training at 2003 Saint Anthony's, I decided I'd do another Olympic distance event with them. The Westchester Triathlon is our local TNT Chapter's race. Last year for the first time we actually had other TNT Chapters come for the race, so there was a lot more purple. This year there will be even more purple as we have 6 different chapters participating.
In 2003 I came in 3rd in the 45-49 age group. I got passed on the run first by my long time rival and current massage therapist; Lisa, and then by an unknown ringer from New Jersey. Last year Lisa and Linda did not do the race, and I had aged up. I smoked the 50-54 age group, and beat the other Polly in the race by 8 minutes. Polly is an unusual name these days. So what's the chance that there are going to be two of them in the same race, and finishing 1,2 in the same age group? She didn't stay for the awrds ceramony so I didn't even get to meet the other tri-ing Polly.
Lisa and Linda aren't do the race this year either so I figured I had a decent chance of defending my title. That was until I got talking to one of my bike club teammates who told me about Amy. She's a pretty strong cyclist, excellent runner, but not such a great swimmer. So my challenge will be to totally beat her on the swim, increase my lead on the bike, and then run like hell and hope to hold her off.
A terrific plan until I looked at the entry list, and spotted a ringer from Florida who is coming to do the race. I recognized the name as one of the top ranked women in the nation in the 50-54 age group. Damn what's she doing coming up to do "my race"? My guess is she wants the Alcatraz qualifying spot that age group winners are entitled to. She did a 2:29 at Memphis in May. Her swim time seemed rather average, but she had a smoking fast bike split, and a decent run. I guess I can hope that since she's a flatlander from Florida, that she sucks at hills, and that I can beat her on the hills.
I really shouldn't be making myself crazy over this race since it's supposed to be a tune up for the World Championships two weeks later. But as last week demonstrated I can't be totally casual about a race. Besides I want to put on a good show for my Team in Training mentees. :-)
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Saturday I did another sprint. This is my 8th multi-sport event of the year. I still have two more races to go in the next 4 weeks. This was my try to be laid back and casual race. I was rather casual about it. Normally 2 days before a race I do no training, and then do something easy the day before such as a 15 to 20 mile bike ride at an easy pace. This past Thursday I went out on the Unemployment Ride. My intention was to do just the 1st half of the ride. Normally when I want to take it easy I do the 2nd half by meeting them on the route, but I had a meeting to attend at 1:00 PM. So I did the first part, but was feeling so good, and felt like hammering with the tri-gals so I ended out going much further then planned. I ended out with 43 miles which was less then the usual 53 miles, but more then my original plan. (No wonder I don't want to work with a coach! I wing it too much.)
The funny thing about my casual approach to this race was that I did something that was more in the line of taking it seriously. My training partner and I actually drove the bike course on Friday, and then went and swam at the race site. I almost never review a bike course, though I know for new races it would help. Not previewing the 1/2 iron course was part of my problem at Timberman last month. So here I am driving the course of a 13.5 mile bike leg. Go figure! Actually I think it was mainly because my training partner wanted to show off the area that she has recently moved to.
Race day morning I didn't get up until 5:00 AM, and didn't arrive at the race venue until 6:05. It was a 7:00 AM start. Arriving that late reminded me of why I normally like to be early.
It was open racking, so I ended out with a lousy location.
I didn't have enough time to orient myself completely to the transition area lay out.
I had no time to do any sort of warm-up.
I was still standing on line for the bathroom at 6:40.
I did a half ass job of applying Body Glide before putting on my wetsuit.
Despite all those little mishaps I still managed to have a decent race, and win my age group.
8 triathlons down, 2 to go. One will take 15 minutes to travel to, the other will take about 12 hours to travel to.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
"Unemployment Ride"? What kind of name is that for a group ride? There is a story behind the name. When one of the senior members of my bike club retired in 1992 he decided he would ride on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Sometimes others would meet up with him, and they'd do a variation on the weekend group ride. Then a funny thing started happening. People started getting laid off from their jobs, including me. There were about 6 of us who got laid off so we started making jokes about NYS Department of Labor starting a cycling team, or riding over to the unemployment office to submit our weekly claim. So what had started out as one guy going out on a ride during the week, became a regularly scheduled group ride. It got added to our club's ride schedule, and due to the employment status of a number of the riders it became the "Unemployment Ride". Years later the name has stuck though most of the regulars either work part time, are retired, or stay at home mom. During the summer we get a lot of school teachers.
What I like about the ride is the mix of people, and tempo. We start off rolling easy, and then we really crank it up for awhile with speeds over 30 MPH. Then we get into downtown Port Chester, and we go easy again. Sometimes we'll crank it up again for awhile. When I first started doing this ride back in 1992, I used to get dropped on the fast part. I always could measure my fitness on how long I could hang on with the guys. Some days were better then others. These days I'm more consistant in my ability to hang on when the slugfest starts. I usually last until right before the last sprint. I'm not much for the sprinting thing.
Yesterday was nice ride. We varied the route a little bit, and the group stayed together. The pace was pretty steady. Some days the group can get really strung out if people decide they're going to chase down this one guy who tends to fly off the front. Tuesday he left early so we didn't have to deal with his nonsense. The route we took has a screaming downhill. I suck at descending so I do lose contact with the group, but I do get back on when we hit the flats.
That was the first part of my day. In the evening I met up with other Team in Training people for an open water swim. There were 7 of us from TNT and 5 other women were there to dod a swim, and joined us. It was great having 12 women swimming together. There were a lot of different abilities out there, but we kept an eye out for each other. That water is rather funky! The little jelly fish are pretty gross.
After the swim some of us ran. Andrea took off, and I tried to keep at her pace, but it didn't happen. It's funny because in races I can beat her, but in training I can't do it. I think I get more hyped up in the race. Chasing her is good because it makes me run faster. Running! The bane of my existence.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Thursday I went out for the group ride. Tuesday got me back into longer distance mode. Thursday I'd start to work on speed again without going crazy. I told Nancy I was going to take the short cut with Otto and not kill myself. However things change when three tri-babes show up on the ride for the first time. I always find myself getting amped up when new women show up on the ride. It's even worse when they're triathletes. Ohhhhhhhh, competition!!! One of the women who showed up won her age group at NYC triathlon witha time of 2:15ish. Damn, hot stuff. I guess placing 2nd in my age group with a time of 2:41ish isn't so impressive after all. But then again she is at least 10 years younger then me.
To make a long story short, I hammered away from the tri-babes for a good portion of the fast stretch up the ride. They needed some serious wheel sucking assistance to get back up to Nancy and me. Nancy and I are the hot flash twins. We spend a lot of our time together bitching about how little sleep we get thanks to raging menapausal hormones. So the nifty fifties show the tri-babes some kick ass biking. So much for easing back into the speed thing.
Today I repeat the same run course I did on Wednesday. It's still hot, but at least the humidity is not matching the temperature. I took 5 minutes off my run time today. I'm still not setting a blistering pace, but it was better then Wednesday. Woo hoo!!! Third run this week. Maybe I can start to have a training log that loks more like a triathlete's instead of a cyclist.
I also made it to the pool today. I hate to admit it, but it's been over a month since I've worked out in a pool. I haven't been totally neglecting my swimming, but most of it has been done in open water. Open water swimming is good, but I need the structure of a pool workout. I haven't really lost much on my 100s. My longer sets were a little slow, but I didn't push myself too hard since it's been awhile. I sure don't want to blow out my shoulders over my first pool workout in a month.
I was going to do a 400 yard cool down so my total workout would be 1800 yards. However when I saw what appeared to be a child size stool on the pool floor I lost my appetite for yardage and stopped. The town pool gets kind of funky by day's end. I'm used to the leaves, and bandaids but that was a little too gross for my taste. I am a pool wuss! I swam in the Hudson in July. I put up with the creepy creatures that were touching my fingers on Tuesday when swimming in Long Island Sound. But the possibility of some kid's bowel movement being in my lane was too much. I can't wait until the YMCA reopens next week!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
So of going to Worlds was on my goal list for 2005, why would there be any question of my not going? Maybe it was the idea that I didn't earn it by beating the people I needed to in order to make the team. Maybe it was the fear I wouldn't make the cutoff to count for official Team USA status. Maybe it was knowing that I'd be making this trip by myself without my personal one man cheering section, photographer, sherpa, etc.
But I think that last reason was the most compelling reason for me to go. I need to break free of those fears of a different life that faces me. So what better way deal with the possibility of becoming a single woman again then to go take a trip to a beautiful romantic place alone? I won't be really alone because I'll be there with hundreds of people who share a passion for triathlon. But still it won't be quite the same without him there.
So last week I faxed my Team USA contract, commitment, and entry form to USAT. This week I booked an airfare, and a hotel room. Later today I'll order my uniform. I guess I'm going now. I guess that means I better get my sorry ass out of the house more. My post travel training funk is officially over! Yesterday was a good start. I actually did all three sports.
Today wasn't wonderful. My run sucked, but at least I ran. I'll blame it on the wind, humidity, and yesterday's triple play. Hopefully as I get back into the swing of things, and refocus on my remaining races the running will feel better. Running frustrates me to no end. It's what holds me back from that next level. I look at the other women in my age group who just run so much faster then me. I think about the NYC triathlon where I biked 7 minutes faster, but the winner of the age group ran 8 minutes faster then me. Even though I think the run was short, I still had one of my better runs. So in 5 weeks can I do anything with my running? I guess we'll find out.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Stress in one's personal life has a definite impact on one's training and racing. I was amazed I did as well as I did in Timberman. Friday night before the sprint I wasn't convinced I'd be able to do the race, much less try to win my age group again. The thought of then trying to do the aquabike on Sunday was really making me nuts! What the hell was I thinking of when I signed up for back to back races?
To make a long story short, despite the fact that I thought I was going to puke during the swim, I ended out having a very good day in the sprint. I won my age group again. Once again my swimming and biking made all the difference. Sunday's aquabike was a very different experience for me, and despite not really pushing very hard I finished a respectable 7 out 20 women. All the details can be found on my race report at Beginner Triathlete
Thanks Pete for a good run photo. Now if I could do something about my atrocious form!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Saturday August 13, 2005
After much debate the night before we opted for a 4:30 AM meeting time. This would give us time to go to Mac Donalds for John. It was very clear that it had rained over night, but it was only drizzling a little bit as we left. At this hour there wasn’t much in the way of traffic so it didn’t take us a long as it did on Friday.
It was obvious that it had rained a lot overnight. We were hoping this would be the end of the rain, but that would not be the case. We made up to the race site in good time even with the Mickey D stop for John. Body marking didn’t take long at all, so I went to set up my stuff. It started raining again so my first order of business was taking one of my garbage bags and making a rain jacket out of it. I was glad I had found the garbage bags that I had packed in NY.
The rain started coming down really hard, so I made sure I covered all my stuff after I laid it out on my towel. They delayed the start of the race in the hopes that this band of rain would pass. I started getting goofy, and put my swim cap and goggles on, and ran around in the transition area saying, “It’s time to go swimming!” I was trying to relieve some of my own anxieties, and also lighten the mood a bit. Then I went and stood under one of the tents with a bunch of wet and cold triathletes. It was at that point that they announced they were canceling the swim, and would do a time trial start for the bike. At least they weren’t adding an extra run.
They then told us to go back to our cars, and that they would tell us at 8:30 what was going to happen. They also told people that if they did not want to do the race to leave since once they started the bike, no one would be able to leave. Mary decided she didn’t want to do the race at this point. I felt that wanted to do the race, but I was feeling very anxious about riding in this rain on an unknown course. I’ve raced in the rain before, but the level of nervousness I felt at this point was like nothing else I’ve felt before.
We went back to the car. I was glad I had rented the SUV. There was lots of room for the 3 of us. We listened to the radio, and waited for the 8:30 announcement. 8:30 came and went with no announcement. The music continued to play. 8:45 came and there was still no announcement. We’ve been out there for over three hours, and nothing has happened. Finally around 8:50 they come on the radio, and announce that the race has been cancelled and that there would be a 10K fun run. John, Mary and I look at each other, and are stunned. How can a National Championship/worlds Qualifier be cancelled? How were they going to figure out who would fill out the rest of Team USA? I’ve raced for years and I’ve never had a race cancelled.
In some ways I was relieved, because now the decision to race in dangerous conditions had been taken out of my hands. All of the angst I been feeling all week was gone. No longer did I have to concern myself with the hotshots who have trashed me in other events. I didn’t have to worry about not quite being on top of my game. All week I had prayed to God to give me peace about the race, and let me do my best, and accept whatever happened. This was not exactly the answer to prayer that I was expecting. God in His divine wisdom has a funny way of answering prayer.
I did opt to do the fun run. I took it real easy, and watched most of the field pull away. Many handled the situation with humor by running in their wetsuits, and bike helmets. It was pretty funny to watch that. At the start of the run it wasn’t raining much, but later in the run the skies opened. It was a beautiful run course. I would have enjoyed it better during a meaningful race. Afterwards, I grabbed a few extra towels and went back to the car. There I found a very wet and cold John and Mary. Also the field looked like Woodstock. Lots of muddy people and cars getting stuck.
USAT decided they would ask ITU if the United States could send extra people to Worlds. To be considered part of Team USA, Kansas City entrants would have to finish amongst the Top 16 USA finishers in their age group. It seemed like the fairest thing to do. I would have loved them to go back to the Shreveport results and take the Top 16 from there, but that wouldn’t be fair to the ones who bypassed Shreveport knowing they’d get another chance this year.
I have mixed feelings about the way they’re considering doing Team USA. I felt I was going to be on the cusp of making the team. Much was going to depend on how well I did on the swim and the bike, and how many I could hold off on the run. I feel a little funny about backing into the Worlds this way, but Honolulu will be our unofficial National Championship.
The Final Blow
Sunday morning we awake to sunny weather. The storms that plagued us have moved east, and may delay our departure. We actually get off on time, and arrive in New York a little ahead of schedule. Then the skies opened and the thunder and lightning started. They ended out closing La Guardia and our luggage remained on the plane. I felt like this was a repeat of our return from Lisbon. However this storm lingered. Instead of 45 minutes of waiting, it was several hours. I was not leaving the airport without my bike. There were a number of others who felt the same way. We hung out in baggage claim until 4 hours later when the airport reopened. We were all glad to see our bikes coming through the door.
Here is my finish line photo from the trip to nowhere, and back.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
It’s Wednesday morning and I’m up in New Hampshire now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ready to put my thoughts on paper about the race that didn’t happen. It’s hard to know even where to begin, but I guess simply describing the events as they unfolded is simplest.
Mary and I went into town to attend the women’s breakfast at 8:00 AM. I always enjoy the breakfast and seeing the ladies that I’ve met over the last few years. The other dynamic is the checking each other out that occurs. Mary noticed this in particular when she was taking a vitamin and someone asked her if she was taking Advil, and was she hurting. Then I guess the woman lost interest when she found out Mary wasn’t in her age group.
This year’s theme was sharing our stories about getting into triathlon. I had sent in a piece that was comprised of journal entries from August and September of 1983 regarding getting ready for my first race, and then the actual race itself. Jean liked it so much that she asked me if I would read part of it at the breakfast. I was already out in Kansas when she asked me this so I told her to bring a copy because I didn’t have it with me. She assured me she would.
Well, she didn’t, so I had to wing it. Not only that, I was the first speaker. So wing it I did, and actually it went very well. Everyone got some good laughs about my early venture into triathlon as a runner. I actually managed to stay within the five minute limit too.
It was good that I was the first speaker. I would have had a lot of difficulty winging it with my brand of humor after hearing the other stories. The next story after mine was pretty light hearted also, but the three that followed were very moving stories of women who did triathlon despite going through ugly an ugly divorce, losing a teenage son in a hazing incident, and struggling with MS. No this wasn’t one person! Three women, with three very compelling stories.
Since Mary and I were staying out near the airport we decided we would kill time by just hanging out until the expo and registration started at noon. It’s easy to kill time when you have a hotel full of tri-geeks wandering around, also trying to kill time. You talk to people you know from other races, and you talk to people you’ve never met before. But because we’re triathletes it’s easy to find common ground.
Finally the registration opened and we happened to have plopped ourselves down on the floor right in front of the entrance so we were some of the first ones in the door. After picking up all my stuff, I went on a shopping spree. I am not really a shopaholic, but when it comes to triathlon expos I can become one. I think I managed get out of there for under $250.
After going to the race meeting we finally head back to our hotel to pick up our bikes and go out to the start to rack them. With everything spread out so much, it made for a very long day. The race venue was way out in the middle of nowhere, but it certainly looked beautiful. Mary was having some mechanical issues with her bike. We had not done a great job of putting her bike back together on Thursday night! After resolving that we went out for about a 5 mile ride. On the way back I decided to air it out a bit and see what sort of gearing and momentum I would need on these rolling hills. What a fun bike course this appeared to be.
When racking your bike you get to scope out your competition a bit, and see what they look and act like. Mary and I got to see up close and personal the super intensity of one the heavy hitters in our age group. She’s one that would certainly finish in the top five as long as she had no technical issues. I thought I was intense and got hyped up, but I’m Ms. Mellow compared to her. First she was bitching about the racks being too high, and that her fluids were going to spill out if she set up her bike by the seat. Then she hadn’t brought any plastic bags to put over her bike, so she was mooching from others, including Mary. Then I guess she didn’t like one of the bags she got. “OMG! Take a chill pill lady!”
In the meantime the storm clouds are blowing in, and the announcer is saying that bad weather is coming in. He’s suggesting that people get their preparations done and leave. The clouds looked like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. This may have been Missouri, but it sure felt like Kansas. We’re driving back to our hotel and watching really wild lightning that’s going across the sky, not up and down. Mary is freaking out, and saying “What if it’s doing this tomorrow?” I’m trying to be optimistic and say, “It’s going to be beautiful tomorrow. This is going to blow out of here tonight.”
For the most part I’ve been pretty fortunate with weather at my races. I’ve had to do a few in the rain, but for the most part I’ve lucked out with some dry days when the forecast called for rain. I was trusting God to keep me safe, and help me do my best on race day. That didn’t necessarily mean kick butt, and do my best time ever. It just meant doing what I could do given all the circumstances of my life right now. After all my angst and freak outs earlier in the week, I had given it to Him. Whatever tomorrow would bring in terms of weather, and such I was trusting God to see me through it.
John, Mary and I went to the hotel next to ours for dinner. I had decided after last year’s crappy pasta party, that I wasn’t going to do that again. Also considering how far the host hotel I was glad I had not opted to do that. One trip a day into downtown Kansas City was enough.
The hotel where we had dinner was the site of a ballroom dancing competition. It was interesting contrasting competitive ballroom dancers with triathletes. They too have their rituals, and you’d see them practicing their routines out in the foyer before it was time for them to go on. You’d see them primping and preening to make sure everything looked just right. What they do is pretty and graceful, but it’s competition and the same intensity that drives triathletes can also be seen in these dancers.
After dinner, I went back to the room, and did my race eve rituals. I went through my checklist, putting all my gear back in the bag, laying out my food and clothing for the morning, and then taking my warm bath and shaving down one last time. After that I crawled into bed, and listened to the visualization and some of my race music. All I could hope for now was some decent weather.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I will share more about the weekend as I'm more able to sort out the events, and all my emotions. I returned to New York not only with my mementos of a race not done, but also the weather that wrecked havoc with tri-geeks' championship dreams. We were one of the last flights to make it into La Guardia Airport before the same storms that soaked us out in Kansas City brought their act to New York and closed down the airport. So there we were sitting in baggage claim waiting for our luggage and bikes that were sitting on the plane. It would remain there as long as the airport was closed. So our group of about 6 triathletes sat on the conveyor belt waiting for bikes and luggage, and shared our stories of our seasons thus far, and races coming up.
We were there for close to four hours, and the time passed quicker then I thought, but OMG I have get home, unpack, repack and make my way up to New hampshire for my next triathlon adventure; Timberman. I was not leaving that airport without my bike. I was not leaving Blue Bayou (say it out loud) in the hands of American Airlines baggage service. She is my lean, mean racin' machine, and I have enough anxiety flying with her. I always feel a lot better when she finally comes rolling through the oversize baggage area doors.
You should have heard the round of applause at each baggage carousel when it started up. There weren't many left at ours by the time it started up. Maybe there were 20 of us left from a totally full flight. The tri-geeks waiting for their precious steeds made up probably 35% of remaining people. There was a cellist waiting for instrument. As each bike came rolling through the doors the happy owner would let out a whoop and pump his/her fists in the air as if he/she had just won the Nationals. I guess landing before the airport closed and getting all our stuff back was going to be the major triumph of our weekend.
I did a lot of freaking out, calming down, and freaking out again over this National Championship. When I was out there I had to call my best friend/triathlon/prayer partner, and get her to pray for me and give me words of encouragement. I felt better after I talked to her, and was ready to leave my race in God's hands, and put Him in charge. God has a funny way of answering prayer, but I didn't have to deal with all the whatifs reagrding the race. More importantly those God loving farmers from the local church that came with their tractors to pull stuck cars out of the field after the event got some much needed rain for their crops. The tow truck operators came to make a killing, charging $50 for a tow. The farmers just wanted a contribution of any size to give their church.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
I think for the first time I was starting to think that perhaps would not be horrible if we chose to go our own ways. Despite our wonderful friendship there are things that may never be resolved for either of us. I got thinking about maybe I just take my share of the proceeds of the sale of the house, buy something cheap in the middle of nowhere, invest a portion of it, and take the rest and go try a tri in every state. I could certainly knock off the rest of New England quickly. The other mid-atlantic states would be easy. It gets tougher the further I get from the east coast.
The bike ride felt good and I took a swim afterwards. My sister's neighbor has an indoor pool that's about 11 yards long. It's air conditioned in the summer, and heated in the winter. DAmn I wish I had a neighbor like that. I don't live in a neighborhood with weighbors like that. *Sigh*
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Normally I'd leave for Nationals on Thursday, but I decided to make a side trip to visit family out here. I left on Tuesday for Kansas City. I wasn't figuring on seeing anyone at the airport heading out for the race this early. I was wrong. I spotted one of the women I know from last year's Worlds and Nationals. She had on a Team USA shirt so I recognized her. It was nice to hang out and talk to her since the the plane was late. Sheila is in the 65-69 age group, so she's already qualified for Worlds. She's part of the generation of women who have gotten into the sport later in life. The age group is much smaller. When she was in her 50s there weren't many so it wasn't hard to win. I can remember going to races with Jeannie who is around rhe same age as Sheila. She was always winning the age group with times that were so much slower then what I do now in my 50s. I'm an early Title IX woman so my age group is still pretty well populated on the National level. My generation was just entering college when Title IX kicked in so we got the early effects of it. There are women in their 50s who can run a 7:00 minute mile, When Jeannie and Sheila were in their 50s there probably weren't many gals running those types of times.
Sheila is an amazing lady. She's done a triathlon in every single state, including Ironman in Kona. I think that would be cool to do a race in every state. I'd love to add Hawaii to my short list thought it won't be for Kona. I have a long way to go.
States I've done so far:
New England: MA, NH, CT, NY
Mid Atlantic: NJ, DE, MD
South East: FL
Other: LA, and after Saturday, MO.
10 down 40 to go.
Monday, August 08, 2005
My emotions are raw right now. Some of it is pre-race anxiety, but a lot of it has to do with major things happening in my personal life. My triathlon training and racing has been a way to focus on something positive, and help me feel good about myself. My big goal was to make Top 10 again at nationals, and qualify for Team USA. I've had some really good results this season. I also felt I make some significant gains in the mental aspect of my game, especially with my recent performance at the Empire State Games. But suddenly the reality of my real life, summer coming to a close, and this race being here in a few days have all come crashing upon me. I can't even blame it on PMS anymore since it's hard to be pre when there's nothing coming.
I walk into Lisa's office, and the first thing I do is burst into tears. What a great way to go into a massage session. So today Lisa gets to double as massage therapist and sports psychologist. She helps me look at the situation from a different perspective, and I think that helped a lot. It doesn't change the reality, but anytime I can just unload for a bit helps.
I went out for the Monday Night Ride. It was not the ideal thing to do shortly after having a massage, but I was making myself crazy with all earlier packing and re-packing frenzy. Also I’m suffering from the typical post-cold/taper “OMG I’m losing my conditioning!” syndrome. I think Nancy was surprised to see me there, especially when I told her I was leaving for Kansas City the next day. She’s saying to me, “What are you nuts?” Yes, I’m nuts but if I don’t do something with myself I’ll go even more nuts.
My legs still feel pretty crappy, and my mind isn’t much better. I’m sharing my anxieties with Nancy, and she saying things like, “Even if you come in second you’ll qualify.”
“Hello, earth to Nancy. This is the Nationals, I’m not coming in second. In fact I’ll be surprised if I come in the Top 10.”
“You’re incredible cyclist. I saw what you did last week at the Empire Games”
“But, they can run much faster then me…..”
“That doesn’t matter. You’re great!”
Nancy doesn’t understand about the Big Fish in the Little Pond. She’s a medium sized fish in the little pond, and so it’s hard for to understand that there are wonderfully gifted athletes out there that may not cycle as well as I do, but they kick my sorry ass on the run. Some of those women who are awesome runners are better cyclists then I too. I’m good, but I’m not national caliber. Maybe with proper training and I can reach a higher level, but unless I get seriously faster on the run, I’m never going to truly be national champion caliber. That’s okay. I can live with that.
This ride an interesting mix of people. Most of them are people that I ride with on the weekend, but sometimes we get some newbies that come on the ride. About a month ago this guy shows up on our weekday ride on an ancient bike. He was wearing baggy shorts, sneakers, and I’m not even sure he had toe clips or not. I figured he’d last to about North White Plains and then we’d lose him when the pace picks up near the dam. He surprised me because he actually made it to the top of Bedford Road. On that particular ride I gave him suggestions about getting clipless pedals and real cycling shoes. So I guess he took my advice and then some because he’s been showing up on the Monday ride, and now has a new bike, clipless pedals and cycling shoes. He also got new shorts, but they’re still the baggy type. I guess he’s not ready for lycra bike shorts.
I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go on this ride. My legs felt weak, and the heat was bothering me. I was enjoying the social aspect, which is what I needed at that point. I kept debating whether I’d try to gut it out to the end, or bail out at some point of the ride. I was thinking I’d turn off at the end of Purchase St, and back to White Plains via North St. I was going to base my decision on how I felt at that juncture. However, I totally lost it when the baggy shorts newbie blew past me on Bedford Rd. That clinched it for me, I was not going to do the entire ride. I didn’t even go as far as the end of Purchase St. When I saw one of the guys head back to White Plains earlier, I decided I was leaving with him.
It was actually better cutting out at that point of the ride so that I got home earlier. I still had things to do to get ready for my trip. Everything is pretty much packed, but it's just all those dumb little things that I end out running around at the last second taking care of. It's those little things that always make my departure times at least 45 minutes later then planned. However leaving late for the airport is not good.
She starts telling me about how she's been checking out the entry list, and at all the people in our age group, and yada, yada. I had stopped looking at the entry list several days ago having decided that it doesn't matter who's in the race. What ever I do, I do. Knowing that so and so is in the race, doesn't change my stratagy. If they're that much better then me, I can't do anything about it. After listening to Mary, I looked at the entry list. That was a mistake. All the women who beat me at Saint Anthony's will be there, as will some of the other heavy hitters of the F50-54 age group. So much for Top 10 this year. Can I still qualify for Team USA? Who knows.
This morning I went into major repacking frenzy after the first of one of my multiple freakouts today. I had packed up the bike yesterday, and packed my tri-bag. I usually take the tri-bag as carry-on luggage, and have a separate bag for anything else I need. So today I'm sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast and thinking about what I'll be taking with me. Bike bag, and suit case gets checked. Tri-bag and computer bag go on the plane with me. Damn! How the hell am I going to get all that crap on the rental bus? I've done it before but it's too much like work.
So I proceed to take everything out of the tri-bag, repack it in a smaller transition bag to see if it all fits. (No wetsuit saves a lot of space.) After I determine it will fit into that bag, I unpack it, and put the empty bag inside the bike case. Then I take everything upstairs and figure out if I can get all of it into the suitcase with my other stuff. I don't really like checking my gear, but figured I can replace everything but the orthotics if my luggage vanishes. The orthotics will go into carry-on. I manage to get everything into the regualr bag. Thank you EMS!!! They make awesome bags on wheels.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
We can always go for the direct method. "Hi, I'm Polly, and I'm a tri-geek." We can also try the less direct route. "You played 18 holes of golf today? That's nice. I rode my bike 30 miles, and ran 3 miles right after." That might evoke the question, "Oh do you do triathlons?" or "Why in earth would you do that?" If you're talking to a golf geek you're more likely to get the latter question. Though golf geeks are just as bad as us when it comes to talking about new play things, and their latest round of golf.
I didn't have to resort to any of these methods tonight. I was relatively dressed up, and was wearing a gold necklace with a triathlon charm on it. One woman spots it, and points it out to her husband. "Honey check out her necklace. You'll find it of interest."
Me: "You do triathlons?"
He: "Yes, I've been doing them for 3 years, and you?"
Me: "Ummm, since 1983."
He: "Wow you've been doing them from the beginning...."
From there we compared what races we've done this season, what races we have coming up. We griped about how much we hate to run, etc. etc. His wife may have been sorry she pointed out the necklace. It turns out we've done a few of the same races this season, and that we'll be doing 2 more of the same races. When he mentioned his time in one of the races I decided not to tell him my time was about 7 minutes faster. No point in telling a guy in his early 30s that he got smoked by a 51 year woman. Though he did make a point of getting my last name before the evening was over, so I'm sure if he's like me, he'll go check out the results of the races we did.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
The town pool is pretty nice, and they have some lanes roped off for lap swimming. The other portion of the pool is a free for all, and by the time I get there after 5:00 PM, the water seems a little "funky". More then once I've come across band-aids, long strands of hair, leaves, and who knows what else. So I'll pass on swims at the town pool for awhile.
I did go out on my bike today. I only rode 8 miles with the group, and then turned off and came back home. It was tempting to go more, but after a few days off I thought it best to just do easy 15 to 20 miles. I'm not sure if it was the heat, lack of sleep, or lingering effects of the cold, but I didn't exactly blaze up the road today. 16 miles at a blistering 12.5 mph pace. I'm trying to walk the fine line between resting and recovery, versus over-resting, and coming up flat next week.
Yesterday I was getting bored and started getting into the anal tri-geek thing of checking out my competition for next week's nationals and the following week's Timberman. After about one or two names, I said to myself, "Screw it! It doesn't matter who is there. What ever happens, happens." I realize in a race the size of naionals I'm not going to be able to keep track of my competition the way I can in a small race. I know the names of the heavy hitters who smacked my butt the last couple of years and who are going to be there again this year. The other names on the list are random names that don't mean a thing. Some of them are probably a lot like me. They're The Big Fish in the Little Pond (TBFITLP) who are going to the big lake to try to outswim the sharks.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Hopefully I can figure out how not to make myself crazy and get myself well in the next few days. I guess this the way to force me into a taper, but I'd rather taper on my terms. I have zero energy at this point. Two days of no exercise, and I'm getting antsy. It's too freakin' hot to do much of anything except swim. However swimming is the last thing I want to do with my congested head.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
I just had the two most amazing days of bike racing. Even though cycling is my strongest event of the three sports, compared to pure road racing cyclists I've always thought I sucked. I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself. After all I'm training for three sports, and the women I've raced against just train for bike racing. The other problem with bike racing is it's by catagory and not by age. Even if I do find a race with a Women's Cat 4 field, most of them either are 20 years younger then me, or race all the time. Many times I have to race in a field with women who are not only 20 years younger, but are also Cat 2 or 3. I inevitable get spit off the back, and end out doing the race as a time trial until I'm mercifully pulled from the course.
As I mentioned on 7/27 I was going to the Empire State Games (ESG) to compete in the Masters Division. So off I went on Thursday morning with my two bikes, and all the associated shoes, helmets, clothes, etc. that go with each bike and event. I forget that time trials are Gear Geek Conventions. Even pure cyclists who take their time trialing seriously have all the toys. The guys are far worse then the women in this area. I think I was the only woman in the masters division wearing a time trial helmet, but there were a few women with tri or time trial bikes.
10 mile Time Trial
I had some mental issues that I needed to overcome in these two races. The first was dealing with the time trial start. The start has always made me a little nervous. For me it has always been a little bit unnerving being clipped in, and having someone trying to hold me upright and somewhat balanced. Last year's fall at the start of the ESG totally spooked me, so I was a bundle of nerves when it came time for me to clip in and wait. I get in the pedals and I'm rocking back and forth. I start freaking and hyperventilating. The starter tells me to calm down. I tell him I just don't want to be dropped like last year. Finally the holder gets me nice and steady. 5,4,3,2,1....and I'm off!
Number 83 was a no show so I was chasing a "ghost". I was disappointed I didn't have someone in that spot right ahead of me. I like to see if I can do a "Lance". The no show was someone I've passed in previous time trials. Oh well! I do time trials strictly by PE. I don't use my HRM, and I had forgotten to reset the computer after my warmup. I could tell roughly when I was getting to the turn around. After I got through the turn around, I could see that #82 was within sight. I wasn't sure I'd actually catch her, but I was going to have fun trying. I didn't quite catch her, but I crossed the finish line about 10 seconds afterwards. 26:23 for 10 miles. New PR for 10 mile TT. Won the gold medal. One mental hurdle down, road race anxieties were next.
31 Mile Road Race
I tend to have two anxieties when I'm doing road races and criteriums. The first is starting in a big pack with strangers whose bike handling skills may be suspect. The second is what is going to happen when the first attack comes. Will I be able to stay with anyone? More importantly, will I be able to stay with my competition? The masters women regardless of age catagory race with the masters 55+ and 65+ men. Usually on the first major climb the guys go, and the pelaton breaks up into little pieces. The same thing happened in this race, but I made a determined effort to hang with my competition. My competition being the same woman who got away with the guys in 2002, and cleaned my clock by 4 minutes. This year was going to be different. I was not conceding anything this time around.
Having overcome the first two anxieties, I had a new one to deal with. What happens if I can't get rid of her, and have to duke it out to the finish? Though that anxiety was based on the assumption that she wouldn't get rid of me first. That brought up the alternate anxiety of What happens if she attacks me on one of the climbs? Damn, I felt like I was in the Tour! I actually had to think like a bike racer, and play the tactics accordingly.
And play them I did. When she attacked, and got ahead of me I worked with the other riders and got back to her. When we regrouped I tried to not kill myself when my turn at the front came. I wasn't going to launch any attacks. I was content to do my share of the work and then rest. The guys were very respectful of the dynamics going on between me and Susan. They were not in contention for medals in their age catagory, but they knew Susan and I were going for gold in our catagory. They were willing to help either one of us, but they weren't going to launch any attacks of their own. When the final climb came they backed off, and let Susan and I go it alone. Here's how it played out:
Once again Susan goes up to the front, and starts pulling away. I'm trying to stay close but she's getting further away. I glance behind me to see if my "boys" are close behind. They aren't. In the meantime Susan looks back at me every once in awhile, and sees she putting some serious distance between us. I'm thinking to myself, "Hmmmm this is going to be tough unless the guys come back."
I crest the hill, and look back one last time. The guys are nowhere. They've decided to let the ladies slug it out for gold on their own. My mind is going a million miles a minute, and I'm thinking, "Okay you won yesterday, so it won't be the end of the world if you don't win today. This has been a good race, and you hung close......Time out! Okay let's see what you can do on your own. At least make it interesting. She didn't descend all that well after that last hill. Maybe you can catch her. Go for it!"
The real hills were done, there was a screaming descent coming, followed by little rollers, and flats. I am usually a major chicken $h!t when it comes to descents, but having done the hill once already in the race, and several times in practice I knew I could really air it out. I had no one around me, and no oncoming traffic so I let it rip. I hit 47.6 MPH at some point but didn't see that until after the race. As I coming flying down the hill ,and back to the straight away, I can see that I'm closing in. The question is can I catch her after the traffic circle 1K from the finish.
I come around the traffic circle. I'm totally focused on Susan, and not worrying about the turn. I'm not always real confident cornering, but again I stayed focused on my quarry. I finally come up on her wheel with maybe 500 meters to go. I'm thinking to myself, "Okay do I sit here, and make like Tour de France sprinters and go around her at the last second? Do I go now, and try to hold her off?. Is it too soon?" I then decided, "The hell with it, do what you did yesterday in the time trial!" I put my head down, and blew right by her. I wasn't going to look back. I figured if she came back around it was going to be one helluva finish. I just didn't want to know about it. After I crossed the finish line I looked to either side, and didn't see her. At that point I pumped one fist and shouted, "Yes!" I have not mastered the two handed fist pump. On the official results they had us down with the same time so I guess it was awefully close at the finish line.
I was really pleased with not only the physical effort, but psychologically I was right on the ball. When the concession speeches started in the head, I just banished them. I think I caught her by surprise at the end. I don't think she was expecting me to come back like that all by my lonesome. I was glad I got the chance to chase her down on my own, and not have to depend on the guys to bring me back again.
I felt I rode a smarter race then she did. I suspect those solo attacks off the front did her in after awhile. I had a little more in the tank when I had to go solo. But then again, I'm a triathlete, and I'm used to going solo. Though I'm not used to it coming down to milliseconds.
I use visualization a lot in my triathlon preparations. I listen to a guided visualization frequently, and I have certain pieces of music that help me get pumped up. I had listened to my race music play list on the way to the race, and replayed Tour de France coverage in my mind during the race. When the guys responded to one of Susan's attacks and pulled me back I felt like I had my "disco boys" helping me. When I went around Susan before the finish I thought about Lance taking off near the end of that one stage that put him back in yellow for good. Those mental images do help a lot.
July has been an amazing month for me. Just like it had been for Lance. I need carry these good feelings over to August as I get ready for Nationals in two weeks. But damn I don't like how July is ending for me. I feel like crap and I think I'm getting a frigging cold. I'm not panicking yet. It's the forced taper.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Last year I was in the Open division because only 3 women showed up for the Hudson Valley qualifier, so I made the team. Being in the Open division is tough for a tri-geek like me because I'm racing against Cat. 2s, and 3s who do nothing but train for bike racing. The Open division consists of 4 races (time trial, road, race, criterium, and team time trial) I brought two bikes. (tri-bike, and road bike.) All the other gear was pretty much the same.
I looked like major geek with my tri-bike, and disc wheel. I felt I had a decent chance to do pretty well since I'm used to time trialing. It ended out being a disaster when the holder let go of me too soon, and down I went with the clock running. You can see from the picture that this was not an auspicious start to a race. I managed not to be DFL, but only by a few seconds.
So here I am going back to compete in the Games again. I decided to only do the time trial and the road race. Criteriums aren't really my thing though in 2002 I did win the gold when I was able to get away with the 35-44s. I just didn't feel like being away for 2 nights, and racing for 3 days. I'm still a little toasted from 3 weekends in a row that ended with my Timberman double rehearsal.
So I'm doing two days of competition which will probably add up to about 40 miles of actual racing. So what am I bringing for two races? Two bikes (tri and road), two helmets (TT and regular), two pairs of shoes (different pedals on the two bikes), spare wheel set for the road race, and two different types of tires (tubies on my road race wheel set, clichers on the 650 Zipps)skinsuit, jersey, shorts, gels, energy bars, sports drink, etc. I was debating over whether I wanted two gear bags, and then came up with the perfect solution. My triathlon bag! It has compartments for two pairs of shoes, and two other compartments which will fit the two helmets and all the other crap quite nicely.
Am I such a geek or what?? So many accoutrements associated with my sports. (Obsessions would probably be a better word. LOL) I hope I don't end out looking like a damn poser when I do the time trial tomorrow. Stay tuned.......
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Yesterday was part 1 of the rehearsal by doing a sprint race at an all time effort. I won my age group. For all the race details check out my race report at: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=22679&posts=1
Overall I was pleased with my day. I also met an amazing lady. Marge Stahl is 75 years old, and still racing. She did the duathlon because she still was concerned about swimming's effect on her shoulders after last year's bike accident. She's the lady in pink. She reminds me so much of my mom in terms of build and appearance. She's a few years younger then my mom would have been if she were still here. I'm the youngster in that group photo. The lady on Marge's left is 63, and the one on my right is 57. All of us placed in our respective age groups.
Part 2 came today. I went out in the morning to do what is known as the Gimbel's Ride. Any serious road racer from the Metro New York area is familiar with this ride. It got that name since it meets in front of what used to be Gimbels department store. The store has changed many times since Gimbels went out of business. Ironically enough it's now Macys. The name has stuck around over the years. The ride has been around for at least 40 years if not longer. Many past Olympians and Tour de France riders have done the ride as hot shot juniors. Nelson Vails, and George Hincapie are two names that come to mind.
On a nice summer day the ride draws over 100 riders from New York and Connecticut. As the ride makes it way slowly up Central Avenue more and more riders jump on. By the time we get on Rte. 22 going out of North White Plains the has probably quadrupled in size since leaving Yonkers. It's a pretty impressive sight seeing this Tour de France sized pack heading up the road. Unfortunately many of the locals don't appreciate the beauty and power of such a large group so inevitably a cop from from one of the local towns we pass through gets on the loud speaker and reminds us to stay in the right lane, and ride two abreast. Today's cop was actually very nice about it. Sometimes a major blow hard cop comes out and demands that we ride single file even though the state law is two abreast on a 4 lane roadway.
Once we hit North White Plains the pace starts to pick up quite a bit. After we cross the resevoir, climb a short hill and start the descent the pace picks up some more. The ride splits into 3 routes and once that split occurs then the hammer goes down. I do the middle route so for 22 miles I'm hammering away and maintaining an average speed of 23.9 mph. At times I'm hanging off the back trying not to get dropped. I like to stay closer to the front, but my legs weren't exactly at their freshest. There was one point I got spit out the back, but I was determined to get back on, and make to the sprint line which is the border between Rye, and Mamaroneck. I was a good 10 bike lengths off, but just gave it all I got and caught up with the group just as they were cresting this little hill in Rye. I happened to glance at my HRM and saw I was at 174. Ouch!
Once the sprint is over the pace eases off as we head south on Rte. 1. However there is always a bit of a rushed pace in order to make it down to the Bagel Zone and be one of the first ones on line. The store has really good bagels and is one of my bike club's sponsors. In the summer we sit outside in a little park close to the store. In the winter we cram ourselves in at any available table we can. It's quite a sight in winter seeing all these cyclists come in from the cold for a cup of coffee and a bagel.
By the time my ride was done I had logged 57 miles. There was the bagel break, but it was a good 57 miles.
Part two of my workout day was a swim workout with my Team in Training group. We have a number of newbies that the coach works on form with. For the fishies he gives us a nice long set to do after the drill portion. The gal I'm sharing the lane with is one of my mentees. I've been helping her with her running and cycling, but when it comes to swimming she kicks my ass good. She swam in college, and it shows. I was starting to bonk a bit by the end of the workout. I really should have eaten a gel before I started the workout.
Now this obviously is not the order I'll be doing my events come August 21st, but it did give me an idea on how I might feel during the aquabike. I'm definately going to have to pace myself, and not hammer the swim and the bike the way I do in an Olympic. One good thing is that I won't have a 3.5 hour drive between days like I did this weekend. I should be better rested then I was this weekend.
Friday, July 22, 2005
So where does the hate part come in? Getting to and from the race. Anything that involves going over the George Washington Bridge on a Friday just sucks. When it's hot as hell and there's been an accident closing down an entrance to a major route, it doubly sucks. At least this time I managed to get out of the house before 1:00 PM. I might have made it earlier if I had the same sort of checklist for what needs to go in the car that I have for what goes in my triathlon bag. After several trips back into the house I get the car started and double check to see if I have my cell phone. I don't, so another trip into the house. How did I ever go to races without a cell phone?
Rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike are a mass of humanity in every shape and color. It's always bedlam so there's nothing restful about them. But when it's hot and I've gone through 48 oz of water between my house and this rest stop it's time to do something about the water. Not to mention the need to get more water! I walk in there and the smell of Cinnabun is overwhelming. I swear I can gain weight just looking at those things. It smells good, but I'd rather blow all those calories on some good chocolate. I have the bike locked on top but I don't get crazy worrying about someone stealing it while I'm in the ladies room. Probably 90% of the people in there wouldn't know the difference between it and a bike from Walmart. They'd take one look at the aerobars and ask themselves, "How the hell do you ride with those?"
This year I managed not to get lost. Last year I had the Map Quest directions from hell. I spent 3 hours driving around south Jersey trying to find the hotel. Stupid desk clerks couldn't even get me there. I missed out on having dinner with one of my friends from Team USA. This year I used Google Maps, and had no trouble getting to the hotel.
This year I actually got to have dinner with my friends and share triathlon war stories. I thought I had been anal last week scoping out my competition, but I'm not alone in this pursuit. One of the people at dinner was talking about how she "Googles" people in her age group who she doesn't recognize. Never had thought about that one! So what did I do tonight when I got back to the room? Yep, I did a Google search on the other women in my age group. Damn I can see what I'm going to be doing before Nationals. Based on my search I like my chances in the race tomorrow. One woman runs fast but does everything else slow. I can't get at the list with the bib numbers so I'm not going to be able keep track of her like I did last week.
I don't know why I'm getting so obsessed over my competition in these little races. I guess because it takes my mind off the big issues in my life that I'm having to deal with. I spent enough time in the car ruminating on what has happened in the last six months, and what may happen in the next few months. Focusing on my racing and doing my best has kept me in a more positive state of mind. That will help me cope.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I reflect back on those simpler times as my latest and greatest new tri toy arrived Wednesday. I finally broke down and got a Rudy Project time trial helmet. I didn't get the totally tricked out one with the visor and earflaps, but I got the Sython open. I don't know if it will make me ride faster, but I'll look faster. It even looks fast standing still.
I'm a firm believer in don't try anything new on race day, so I decided I would take it out for a test ride on Thursday. Normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a 50+ mile ride with a group of guys from my bike club, and other assorted roadies. Since I have a race on Saturday, I wanted make sure I didn't do too much. I figured I'd meet the group on Pinebrook Blvd, and do the cool down loop. I headed south, not quite sure when they'd be heading the other direction. I got to the end of Pinebrook, and decided I would go back the other direction, and catch them on my next trip down. Pinebrook is a about a 7 mile loop that is good for time trialing. I often see one of the juniors who used to race for our bike club practicing his time trialing. Yes he has a totally cool TT helmet. However he's 16 years old, and he is fast!
I had mixed feelings about whether I really wanted meet up with the group or not. Somehow I figured I get a lot of crap about the helmet. Also this was a good opportunity to just sit on the aerobars and not have to worry about the wheel in front or in back of me. I finished off my second loop and still no sign of the group. I could have continued back for a third loop, but then I was going to end out with more miles then I wanted. I know if I had met them I would have gone on with them, and what I had done on my own was really what this ride was about. So I turned off and went up the hill back towards home.
I am trying to act more like a triathlete, and less like a cyclist that does triathlons. By dialing back the mileage on this day, I'm saving my legs, and not worrying about my roadie friends getting more miles.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
SOBE Mossman July 17th
I guess I was really bored on Saturday because I ended out really scoping out my competition. Normally I look at the entry list, see who's in my AG, and see if I recognize any names from previous races or years, and that's it. I guess I was getting frustrated with my two 2nd places that were caused by getting smoked on the run. I knew Mary Dunn wouldn't be there. I've raced against her a number of times over the years, and she totally dominates in the age group. She is a major shark in the big ocean. Totally eats this BFITLP alive. Knowing she wouldn't be there I thought I had a decent chance to win this year.
Knowing Mary wouldn't be there I did serious scouting. I actually looked at their results from last year, and found that this woman who just aged up this year kicked my ass on the run last year. Not only that but her overall time was 2 minutes faster then mine. So she became my motivation for Sunday. I had two challenges for this race. 1) Could I reduce my course time by over 2 minutes? 2) Could I hold off a woman who ran a sub 20 5K last year?
I felt like this was "Mission Impossible", but I was going to give it a go. To make a long story short, I actually succeeded on both counts. For my "Mission Impossible" race report with all the details check out: http://www.trinewbies.com/phorum2/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=44617&posts=8 I cut 2 minutes off my time from last year, despite a slower bike and run. Okay the bike was only 5 seconds slower! My swim and transitions were faster. When I came back for T2 and saw she was nowhere in sight, I was determined to hold on for dear life. As it turned out I totally kicked her butt on the swim and bike so her 5 minute faster run wasn't enough. Score one for the not so fleet footed.
In the grand scheme of impressive race results this really was not much. There were only 4 women in the age group. My 3rd place at Saint Anthony's was far more impressive. However this was a great mental exercise in staying focused and not getting psyched out by past results. This is the type of focus I'm going to need for the next few weeks. Where this all leads to is to be determined.
Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of BFITLP.
Okay back to my recap of races done so far.
New York City Triathlon - July 10
I can find sprints in this area with no problem. They're a dime a dozen. Olympic distance is a whole different story. There are not many of them close by. I wanted to do another Oly before Nationals, so NYC became the race. The thought of swimming in the Hudson would have intimidated me a few years ago, but now it just seems like a cool thing to do. Last year I volunteered at the race. I hung out for the awards afterwards. When I heard the winning time I thought to myself, "Damn I can do that time in my sleep!" Also the winner was a woman that I raced against 3 times last season and beat by anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes. So I liked my chances in this years race.
I did have my anxious moments the week before with all the rain we had. Two years ago they had to make it into a duathlon because of high bacteria counts caused by all the rain. All I could think of was if I have to run an extra 5K I'm toast. With that mindset I didn't really taper right, and ended out doing a 45 mile bike ride the Thursday before the race. That was probably not a good thing to do, but it was all part of my "Nationals Rehearsal". *Note to self* "No 45 mile rides 3 days out from race."
The cool thing about this race is that the 45+ women are in the first wave. We get an uncluttered bike course, and the race clock time is really our time. On the other hand being in the first wave means making sure you have your shit together and being up at the swim start early. Many races I've been one of those people who gets booted out of transition right before the gun goes off for the first wave.
6:00 AM starts are brutal sleepwise but when else can you see the sun rise behind the George Washington Bridge? Also an early start like this means I'll be done before 9:00 AM and I'll miss the brutal heat of late morning. Some of the guys I know who were in those later waves complained about the heat.
I've lived in the NYC metro area since 1977. I never tire of the city skyline, the beautiful views of the Hudson, running in Central Park, and the energy that makes New York, New York. This is a race that lets one experience these things up close. I've driven up the Henry Hudson Parkway a million times, paid my toll, and crossed the bridge into the Bronx. In a car I don't have the time to appreciate the views. Riding a bike on these same roadways is very cool. Flaming through the tollbooth without having to stop is every driver's fantasy. "Damn, I forgot my E-ZPass!!!"
Easy passing was my modi operandi as I reeled in the fishies who had blown by me on the swim or the fleet of foot who ran past me on the long transition run from hell. Running over a 1/4 mile on concrete with bare feet sucks! I liked the bike ride, but the hills suprised me, and I didn't feel like I recovered well when I crested each hill. Maybe it was the 45 mile ride on Thursday, or maybe I didn't do enough hill work. Which ever it was I was a little disappointed in my 1:17:58 bike split.
I was happy to be in that first wave because for us the bike course was wide open. I watched the guys heading north as I was coming south. There was lots of yelling "On your left." and some newbie women who looked nervous with all these guys flaming up their butt, and past them. I've been in enough races where I've had the guys flaming up my butt, however training with roadies has made me used to the crowds.
Being in the first wave makes the run interesting. Running across 72nd St by myself was cool. I felt like hot stuff, but it didn't last long. At first there aren't a lot of people on the course. That changes as the youngsters come cruising by running their sub 7:30 minute miles. Then later comes the guys running their sub 6:30s. There I am "cranking out" my sub 8:30s. (barely, overall pace was 8:29). Unfortunately for me this run is 6.2 miles so when I get passed shortly before 5 miles by a 50 year old woman, I can kiss 1st in the age group goodbye. Losing the age group by 2 minutes is frustrating when I was off my usual 40K bike split by 3 minutes. Argh!!!!
2nd in my age group at NYC Triathlon sounds very impressive until one looks at the results closely and sees that there were only 8 women in the F50-54 age group. What's with that? Over 2000 people in this race and only 8 of them 50 year old women? The Pawling Triathlon with it's 450 finishers had 12 women in my age group. Maybe 50+ women are scared to swim in the Hudson. Who knows.
The good thing about doing this race is I got a chance to evaluate how things are going for me. Despite the disappointment in my bike split it was good rehearsal. I know I have to do some hill work in the next few weeks, and make sure I don't go crazy on the bike during race week. That will actually not be a problem since I'm visiting my sister for a few days before hand. I'll probably unpack the bike, and ride it around just to make sure it works.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Today was stinking hot and humid. I did my usual Tuesday bike ride with the group. The pace was good, and I love being able to hang with the guys. There's something thrilling about sitting in a pack going 30 miles an hour. This is a good ride for me. I get some solid miles in, and parts of it are fast. I try to keep the cadence high and work on different things.
It can be scary though when drivers do stupid things. I thought my life was coming to an end when an impatient driver decided to race a street cleaning truck to the corner. God forbid he get stuck behind the thing and have to go slow until he safely pass it. No instead he blindly goes around it as it's turning onto the street where we're riding. He crosses the double yellow line and is coming right at me and another rider. The two of us just look at each other, and say "Oh my God, can you believe that?" The driver missed coming head on into us by about a foot. We were going close to 30 MPH at the time.
I had one TNT person respond to my Tuesday evening run offering so we made it earlier. We did a little over 4 miles. I could have gone and run with one of the other mentors, but she runs faster then me, and in this heat I was looking to push real hard. I had done my 52 miles on the bike earlier. This run was just to remind my legs about running. My legs need constant reminders about it. I know running keeps me in BFITLP mode. I'll do a harder run tomorrow.