Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tour de France coverage as a training aid.

Or how a tri-geek plays at Race Tactics 101

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

OMG I've turned into such a geek!

Today I'm getting my gear together for the Empire State Games. I'm competing in cycling events of the masters competition. I'm doing a time trial tomorrow and and a road race on Friday. In 2002 was I competing in the masters division. I took one bike, one helmet, one pair of shoes, aerobars for the time trial, a skinsuit, jersey and shorts. I competed in 3 races. (time trial, road race, and criterium.)

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

Rehearsal for my crazy August double!

Last year at Timberman I did the sprint on Saturday followed by swimming on a relay in the 1/2 iron on Sunday. This year I'm doing the sprint again, but on Sunday I'm adding the bike to the mix by doing the aquabike 1/2. I've wanted to try this new format. It's made for someone like me. For years I've joked about being able to do a race with only the swim and the bike, and how I'd kick butt. Now I get a chance to test out my theory. I'd prefer doing it at Olympic distance, but this gives me a chance to test the long course waters without having to run.

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:

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

On the road again!

Race number three in week number three. I guess this making up for the race withdrawal I was having between St. A's in April and Pawling in June. I have a love/hate relationship with this particular race. I love the course. The bike is on country roads in South Jersey. The run is mostly on shaded paths meandering through a park. Also the bike is relatively long for a sprint. 16 miles and still only a 5K run. So for the charter member of the ISARTC (I Suck at Running Track Club) this is an ideal race.

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

Tri-geek toys

Things have changed since I started doing this sport in 1983. It was simpler that's for sure. Bathing suit, shorts, goggles, running shoes, helmet, sunglasses, towel and a cap. All of it fit in a plain old gym bag. I had one of those black Bell helmets that became popular in the early 80s. Ugly, hot, and heavy. As the attached photo indicates I was very low tech back then.

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

Reflecting on my season so far. Part 3

The Tuesday after NYC Tri I did a recon ride with one of my teammates. We were scoping out the course for the road race in the Empire State Games Masters cycling events which we'll be doing in a few weeks. She works with a CTS coach and her schedule called for hill repeats on that day. This is a hilly course so she figured she could get her hill repeats in by doing each of the hills at AT. Your's truly "Ms. Train By the Seat of Her Pants Tri-Geek" figured she'd could play that game too. When Nancy and I ride together we tend to push each other. As the song from Oklahoma goes....."Anything you can do, I can do better." So there we are pushing each other up those hills. I was venting my frustration over the crappy recovery I was experiencing on the Henry Hudson hills the weekend before. "Take that!" I trashed Nancy on the last long climb on our 2nd loop.

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: 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.

Reflecting on my season so far. Part 2

One race in April, none in May, and one in June. Now it's July and I seem to be making up for lost time with races on three straight weekends. The 3rd of three was not originally planned upon, but I love the race, and couldn't bear the thought of not doing it. So this coming weekend I'll make my annual schlep to South Jersey to do this sprint. Maybe this year I won't get lost driving to the hotel.

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

Easy does it!

The biggest challenge in heading into the last month before a big race is not to go crazy with training. I'm walking a fine line between what I'm doing for myself, and what I'm doing for the Team in Training people that I'm mentoring. Much of what I do with the TNT people is easy mileage for me, but that can add up after awhile.

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.

Reflecting on my season so far. Part 1

It's mid-July and I have 4 races under my belt so far. 2 Olympics, and 2 sprints. So far, so good. I'm about at the midpoint of my season. My season started early. Depending on how I do in Kansas City next month it could end in September on the beaches of Rye, NY or in October on the beaches of Honolulu, Hawaii. It won't end on the beaches of Kona that's for sure. :-)

April - Saint Anthony's - The big fish in the little pond (BFITLP) tackles the shark infested waters of St. Pete. No shark sitings in Tampa Bay, but just the reality of a slow runner from the Northeast tackling the fleet of foot from Florida in late April. Despite a pretty crappy winter I did manage to put a decent amount of miles on the bike outside. When all else failed there was the Compu-Trainer. For the first time in my life I actually did some real indoor workouts. The Compu-Trainer was one of the better triathlon related toys I've spent money on.

I figured I could do Top 10 down there. That was my public declaration. In the Who's Racin' This Weekend? thread at that's what I put down as my stated goal. We often put our wishful thinking goal down too. I put Top 5 as the wishful thinking goal. Then there's the super secret goal that we don't share because maybe we're embarrassed to have such delusions of grandeur, and don't want anyone to know. My super secret goal was Top 3. So despite a pathetically slow 10K time of 56:09 BFITLP became a shark in the big bay of Tampa/St. Pete by reaching the super secret goal of 3rd in the F50-54 age group. What I lack on the run I made up for by posting the 2nd fastest bike split in the age group.

June- Pawling Triathlon - This is a very popular local race that's not USAT sanctioned. However it gets a lot of the top local people out, and it sells out every year. In the past wave assignments have been based on when you entered. So if you procrastinated on entering you might end out in the last wave. This year they did something a little different. Last November they sent special entry blanks to anyone who had finished in the Top 100 in the 2004 race. If you sent it back before 12/31/04 you were guaranteed a spot in one of the first two waves. I came in 99th last year so I got one of these forms. So there I was in 2004, not knowing when Nationals were going to be or what other races I would be doing, sending in my first entry for the 2005 season.

I guess I must have been one of the early birds because I ended out with #18, and was in the first wave with 47 guys, and 2 other women. One of the women was last year's women's overall winner. The other was my friend, massage therapist, and long time rival Lisa. Lisa and I have raced against each other many times since the mid 80s. I've only beaten her once. She's more of a distance person, but she always uses this particular race as a speed workout the week before Eagleman. We swam stroke for stroke together, but my goggles fogged up and I tripped coming off the beach and fell flat on my face. Talk about embarrassing! There I am in the first wave with the big boys, and I fall flat on my face in front of all these people waiting for the later waves. I smoked Lisa on the bike, but as usual she reeled me in on the run. It took her longer then usual, and she did it right in front of her friends and teammates from WTC. (Westchester Triathlon Club) *Sigh* 2nd to her again!

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's the write time

I set up this blog last fall with the idea of sharing my thoughts about training and racing. I don't know where the time went, but here it is July 18th, and I haven't written a thing. I just did my 4th race of the season, and with the exception of some race reports on the various triathlon forums I post on, I've been very silent. That's not like me at all. So for the next few weeks I'm going to share my preparations as I head into my 2005 long term goal race.

My long term goal for 2005 as stated on my training log

Long term goals
Top 10 finish at AG Nationals & qualify for Team USA again.

A little background here. I've been doing triathlons since 1983. I had a few years off from 1999 to 2001 due to injuries, family issues, and weight problems. Before my time off I was pretty competitive in my age group. Top 3 was pretty normal except when I got closer to the numbers that end in 3,4,8 & 9. I always thought of myself as a big fish in a little pond.

I lost 44 pounds in 2001 and spent the good portion of 2002 getting myself back to a higher level of physical fitness. The bike was coming along quite nicely. I did some bike racing at the Empire State Games in the Masters division and won 2 silvers and a gold. Swimming was swimming, but I was battling my mind with running. So it wasn't until August of 2002 that I convinced myself that I could race triathlons again. To make a long story short, I came in 3rd in my age group, and 20th woman overall. Not bad for a 48 year old woman who hadn't raced in 3 years. I immediately went to the internet to find another race to do. I did the sprint at the inaugeral Granite Ledges Triathlon where I won my age group, and was 4th woman overall. I think all the fast women were in the Olympic distance race. :-)

In 2003 I decided I would try to do an Olympic distance race for the first time in 13 years. My last one had been the 1990 Bud Lite USTS race in Baltimore. I figured the easiest way to train for Oly after all these years was to sign on with Team in Training (TNT), and do Saint Anthony's. What a wonderful experience! (You'll see me write about TNT a lot since I'm still very involved.) I ended out knocking 11 minutes off my Oly PR and doing the race in 2:35. It put me in 12th place for 45-49, but it would have put me 2nd in the 50-54. It gave me something to shoot for the following year.

Then I got this crazy ass idea that I could go to Nationals, do the same sort of time, and make Team USA. I started working with a coach. I am not the most organized person. In fact I've been clinically diagnosed as ADD, and it impacts everything in my life from working, finding things in the house, and my training. I think I drove this coach crazy, and it was not an ideal match for me. I needed someone to stay on top of me more. I did a so-so time at Nationals, but did make Team USA with a pass down spot. So I would be competing for the USA in Madeira Island, Portugal in 2004.

Going to Worlds was exciting, but I made lots of rookie mistakes, and I sucked. Part of the problem was poor training. I spent 17 days in Australia and New Zealand in late January and early February. I did zero biking, a little bit of swimming, and some running. Anyone who has told you that it takes 1 day per time zone change to get back on track is not kidding. For two weeks it was very hard to get myself out of bed, much less do any sort of training. So basically my training for a race on May 9th started on March 1st. Do I regret taking the trip and scewing up my training? Hell no! This was a trip of a lifetime with my Dad that he paid for.

The rest of my 2004 racing season went much better after that. What I love about age group competition is that one actually can look forward to getting older. My non-athletic friends looked at me is if I had two heads when I told them I couldn't wait to turn 50. I did 7 more races after Worlds. Placed Top 3 in all but one. The one was Nationals where despite a foot injury I still came in 9th. I had posted one of the fastest bike splits in my age group, but could do nothing about the 4 women who passed me on the run, pushing me out of the Top 6 for a qualifying spot for 2005 Worlds. As it turned out 4 of the 6 Team USA spots were taken by 49 year olds who aged up. My 2004 results still made me feel like a big fish in a little pond.

So here it is 2005, and I have one more shot to grab a spot on this year's team. I'm not working with a coach. I debated it and actually started to fill out the profile, but I kept procrastinating. I just couldn't pull the trigger on spending that kind of money. Also there are other things going on in my personal life, so the coaching fees are paying for the therapist instead. Instead I'm doing my usual by the seat of my pants training. I've had some good results so far. 3rd at Saint Anthony's, 2nd at Pawling, 2nd at NYC, and 1st yesterday at SOBE Mossman.

The question for this year is: Can this big fish from the little pond keep up with the sharks in the big lake? My challenge for the next 4 weeks is keeping the good feelings going, and staying on top of my game. I'm hoping with Nationals in August I'll peak just right. The last 2 years they've been in September and October, and I've been a little toasted by then.