Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dear impatient driver,

Who the hell pissed in your Cheerios yesterday morning? You must have had one miserable bad ass morning to feel the need to honk your horn as you went flaming past me to rush up to the line of cars waiting at the red light. I guess you couldn't wait to pull up behind the last car in line. God forbid a lone female cyclist going 18 MPH in a 25 MPH zone slowed your progress up by a paltry few seconds. I guess it pissed you off further that I passed you and all the other cars waiting at the light and made a right turn on red. I'm sure all the cars in front of you really appreciated your venting your frustrations by continuing to honk as I passed and even as I made the turn.

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!

Sincerely yours,

Fit fifty-something female.

PS. Bite me!!!! :-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing!!!

After spending a good portion of Friday in a tizzy over things I couldn't control, everything worked out fine. Saturday was spent hanging out with my Team in Training group at the race expo, and doing a group swim. The water was kind of rough, which actually was good practice for Sunday.

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:

Now if only I thought the World Championships could turn out so well. Reality check coming!!!

Friday, September 23, 2005

My Westchester Pre-race Anxieties

I'm not sure what my problem is but I seemed to be overly anxious about this race. The way I'm feeling one would think I'm going for the World Championship. Oh yeh, I'm doing that a few weeks later. The difference is with the World Championships I know I have no chance of placing high. I just want to finish high enough among USA finishers to be accorded official Team USA designation and be scored by ITU. Anything else I do there will be pure gravy.

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

Random rants for the day.

Sometimes I make myself nuts. I go from super motivated and gung ho tri-geek to I don't give a shit about anything. Right now I'm in one of those I don't give a shit funks. I have two more races coming up in the next 3 1/2 weeks, and I'm not real excited. I should be excited at least about going to Hawaii for the ITU Age Group World Chammpionships, but perhaps I still feel like I backed in there with USAT's solution to the Kansas City fiasco. Perhaps there are some doubts about whether I'll be able to be an official member of Team USA by placing high enough, or whether I'm going to be another poser.


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 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

A stroll down memory lane. 21 years of the Westchester Triathlon

Next on my schedule is the Westchester Triathlon. That race is a little over a week away. This race is practically in my backyard. This will be the 16th year I've done this race. This is the 21st running of the race. It's nice to be part of a race that has gone on for that many years. I actually did numbers 2 through 14 in a row. Number 14 was the first year they changed it from sprint to Olympic, and I was doing it as a relay. I was having shoulder surgery a week after the race so swimming was out of the question. I wanted to keep my streak intact so doing the relay was my compromise. As it turned out the streak would come to an end the following season anyway. I wouldn't make it back to the race until 2003.

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

Trying to be laid back about a race.

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

Triple Play Day

Yesterday was another one of those triple sport days. It's not as brutal as it sounds since I spread things out. It's all part of doing staying in my routine, combined with the extra things I do with my Team in Training teammates. I suppose I could switch my bike ride to another day so that I only have the TNT swim and run workout. However I love the Tuesday and Thursday "Unemployment Ride", so I end out doing both.

"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

Day 3 of training like a triathlete again.

Wednesday I dragged myself through that miserable run. But one day of running doesn't make me a well rounded triathlete. So this will have to be an on going process. However the excuses are over. No more blaming post vacation blahs. I've got a month to get my crap together, and try to make a decent showing in Honolulu.

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!