Thursday, April 21, 2016

Here Goes Nothing!

Tomorrow I get on a plane and head to Tampa/St. Pete for the weekend.  What kind of weekend it will be? Who knows.  Since I last posted things haven't exactly gone the way I wanted.  I did get to do three rides on the triathlon bike before I dropped her off at the shop for Tri-Bike Transport to pick up.  The back was a little gnarly by the third ride where I went close to 40 miles.  It's more than I'll be doing in the race, but I always like having time on the triathlon bike.  The road bike? Not so good.  I was slow and the back felt like crap.  It just confirms what I already know.  I need to get another fitting for that bike.  I'm just not very comfortable.  Fortunately I won't be riding that bike on Sunday.

Swimming hasn't been so bad.  I had a few good workouts and actually repeated the T1 test that I had first done in February.  My times for the 300s went from 5:58 to 5:50.  Clearly the work I'd been doing was showing.  My last pool workout was Sunday with my Team in Training group.  It was a relatively short workout for me.  1600 yards total.  My back was barking at me.  Probably didn't like the 8 x 25s that I did in 23 seconds per 25.  The 1 x 400 that followed was over 8:00.  Not so good. 

I've run once since I got back.  I ran 3 miles on the track.  Took it easy.  Who knows how 6.2 miles is going to feel after swimming and biking on Sunday.  I've been doing a fair amount of walking, and I've just resigned myself to the fact that I'm probably have to do frequent walk breaks.

This past week I've been really cranky and suffering from a case of the "stupids".  That's where I just space out and don't remember what it is I'm supposed to be doing.  That's not a good thing when one is packing for an out of town event.  I have my check list with everything I need and have packed.  I've even put notes on what item is in what bag.  That way I don't have a panic attack when I can't find something in the gear bag that I actually packed in my suitcase. 

I've been trying to deal with the fact that despite my good winter of training, I may not be able to achieve what I was aiming for in this race.  It's rather frustrating to have all my work get trashed by one of moment of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Although this is not my A race for the season, I did want to do well.  I thought 2:50 - 2:55 was a reasonable time, which based on last year's results would have put me in top 5 in my age group.  This big fish in the little pond wanted to see how she could do with the bigger fish from the bigger ponds.  That may just have to wait. 

If nothing else, I'm going to Florida.  Nothing wrong with that.  I just have to not be stupid on Sunday.  I need to listen to my body, and hope it speaks louder than the inner tri-geek who wants to go for it. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Bump In The Road - Sleepless in Seattle

In my last post I asked, "How am I doing?"  Up until March 24th I was doing pretty well.  I had been meeting my stated goals of swimming and running 2-3 times a week.  I had structured swim workouts and some help from a friend who's also a coach.  My running wasn't particularly fast, but I had gotten a few 6 mile runs in. Cycling was taking care of itself although I wasn't satisfied with my pace.  However part of that is because there are parts of my group rides that are slow.  I try to make up for it when the group splits up.

I went on vacation on March 23rd.  Start with a couple of days in Seattle, followed by ferry to Victoria for Grand Pacific Open chess tournament over the weekend. Back to Seattle Monday night and dead eye (red eye) back home.   I was really looking forward to the weekend in Victoria where there are beautiful places to run, and a 25 meter pool in the health club attached to the hotel.  I was really pumped up knowing I was going up there with a good running base.  For the first time ever, I'd really be able to enjoy some nice long runs in Beacon Hill Park. There's a beautiful path that overlooks James Bay.  Previous visits I've spent a lot of time walking there and taking lots of pictures. This time I was ready for some serious running.  Though I wouldn't have minded an opportunity to ride with those guys in the picture below. 

It's beautiful place to run and there's even a statue honoring Terry Fox, the Canadian runner who was trying to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.  Sadly he was not able to complete the journey due to his cancer coming back.

I even had looked into possible group runs.  I think I packed almost many workout clothes as regular clothes.  When I discussed my plans friends were asking "Aren't you going there for a chess tournament?" Yes I was playing in a chess tournament, but the schedule is such that there's lots of time to do non-chess stuff like swimming and running.  Did I mention shopping?  Spring sales at The Running Room and MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop - Canada's REI) in addition to the US dollar makes shopping in Canada a sport of its own. 

*Sigh* Sometimes the best intentions get waylaid by unforeseen events.  You've heard of the movie, "Sleepless in Seattle"? That's what my Thursday became.  The day started out nicely. Did a tour of a couple of Washington State wineries tasting rooms, Snoqualmie Falls and ending with Boehm's Chocolate.  That's probably the best chocolate I've had anywhere.  All handmade right there at the store.  Wine and chocolate! My favorite two food groups.  :-)

Snoqualmie Falls


I should have quit when I was ahead.  However I did want to go out for dinner on my last night in Seattle, unlike the first night when I noshed on munchies and had wine at the hotel happy hour, went back to my room and fell asleep at 9:00 pm.  Hindsight is 20/20. One of the people I met at happy hour and I decided to skip the usually overpriced and not so great food at the hotel restaurant and venture out about town.  Ended out a place called Von's 1000 Spirits.  They make their own sourdough pasta right on the premises. This was a new one for me.  We split a beet salad and an order of sourdough pasta Mac & Cheese.  This was not your Kraft Mac & Cheese out of a package.  This was to die for! Even though we split the dish, I knew I'd need a few runs to burn that off.

Okay, once again I've turned my triathlon blog into a travel blog.  You're probably wondering where this is all going.  What's the bump in the road that I referenced in my title? To make a long story short, on the walk back to the hotel we were waiting at a light to cross the street.  Out of nowhere a woman comes up and tries to grab my purse off my shoulder.  I'm holding on for dear life.  In the melee, my phone goes flying out of my purse, I get knocked to the sidewalk, but manage to push her away, grab my phone and hold on to my purse.  She runs off, but several witnesses chase her down.  Really all I wanted to do was go back to my hotel and not be bothered since I didn't lose anything.  However when I stood up, I hurt like hell and sat right back down on the sidewalk. 

God bless all the people who helped me out.  There were the people from Benaroya Hall where the Seattle Symphony was performing that evening, who brought me a wheelchair and got me out of the cold. There were people who called the police and others who were able to identify the suspect.  Then there was my dinner companion, who I'd only met a few hours ago at happy hour, who took me to the hospital, stayed with me for the almost 3 hour stay in the ER and got me back to the hotel at the ungodly hour of 1:00 am. 

I didn't get much sleep that night. Hard to sleep when one's back is screaming "What the hell happened?" I did make it to the ferry on Friday, and got to Victoria.  The people from Victoria Clipper Ferry were very helpful in getting me off the boat, gathering my luggage and getting me through immigration and customs.  One of the organizers from the tournament met me at the ferry and helped me get to the hotel.  The hotel is a 5 minute walk from the ferry, which I usually have no trouble doing even hauling suitcases.  That was not the case.

So all those runs I planned on were replaced by frequent naps, a massage and some gentle swimming in the 25 meter pool.  At least my swimsuit got used.  All the running and gym clothes remained unpacked.  By Monday I was able to do some easy walking around town where I did indulge in retail therapy.  The ferry ride back to Seattle was beautiful, however the plane flights were painful.  First flight was a case of "good news, bad news".  The good news is, I got an upgrade to first class.  The bad news, last row in first class against the wall where the seat doesn't recline.  That sucks when one wants to recline the seat and try to sleep.  The second flight was worse.  No upgrade, lousy seat with no legroom, and a broken seat that wouldn't recline either. 

So where does all of this leave me?  The back is still hurting, though it's getting somewhat better. I have my good days and my bad days.  My training has been totally trashed.  I've managed to do some swimming since I've gotten home. Actually the swimming has gone pretty well.  I've been out on my bike once.  The back actually seems to hurt less when I'm riding on the aero-bars.  Mother nature has been a royal pain in the ass.  Winter didn't seem to get the memo about it being spring.  Tuesday it was 23 degrees in the morning with 9 degree wind chill factor.  It's been raining a lot.  Maybe I brought the weather back from Seattle.  Though I think it rained less out there than it has here since I got back.  The big question mark is running. I haven't given that a try yet.  I want to give that a little longer.

I have my first race in two weeks.  St. Anthony's.  Yes, the very race I want to redeem myself from the horror show of 2009.  Despite this setback, I'll still probably do better than I did in 2009.  However I may have to adjust my expectations for this particular race.  Looking at previous years results in my age group, I felt I had an excellent chance of placing in top 5.  2nd - 5th looked quite doable since those times were over 3 hours.  I'm not sure this is still a realistic goal.  However no matter how I feel in two weeks, I'll be there.  I have non-refundable plane ticket and hotel room. I've paid to have my bike send down there.  One day at a time.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 05, 2016

What's next?

As I looked back on the last two years since I rejoined the ranks of triathletes, I realized that despite my run and swim "training" (I use the term lightly) I did pretty damn well.  The question I had to ask myself was; "Could I do better?" Hmmm, eight age group firsts and one second isn't too shabby.  Really? Can I do better than that? Oh yeah, don't be one of the last swimmers in my age group, and don't let that woman you chased down on the bike pass you on the run at West Point Triathlon.  No problem! Just swim and run faster, and the bike will take care of itself.  It always does.

Although I'm not one to make New Years Resolutions, I do like to set some goals for myself.
  • Swim more.
  • Run more.
  • Bike better.
  • Lose the holiday pounds. 
Those are the little goals that are a little too general and vague.  I needed to clarify them more:

Swim more.
  • 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Increase my yardage.
  • Be more specific about workouts.
  • Work on my technique.

Run more.
  • 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Increase my mileage.
  • Work on improving speed, with more structured workouts.
  • Jun a running club.

Bike better.
  • Knock off the junk miles.
  • Work on pedaling technique and cadence.
  • Ditch the group if necessary for speed work.

Lose the holiday pounds.(5 pounds)
  • Be more diligent about tracking food.
  • Find the right balance between carbs, proteins and fat.
  • Cut back on the sweets.
  • Let the increased mileage do its thing to my metabolism.

Those are my training goals, but what about racing?

4/24: St. Anthony's Olympic distance. St. Petersburg, FL
6/26: Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon, Sleepy Hollow, NY
8/13: USAT Age Group National Championships, Omaha, NE
9/25: Westchester Triathlon, Rye NY
11/13 National Aquabike Championships, Miami, FL **

** I've been thinking about a 70.3, but that would totally depend on what I actually can do with my running.  I also don't know which one I would do. If I go for the 70.3 then I'd skip the aquabike, unless I find a race that's far enough away from the aquabike.

Next post: How am I doing?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Revisting the Scene of The Crime....St. A's 2009

In my last post I had written a summary of the last year and a half of my triathlon comeback.  I ended the post by writing the following:  "2016?  I'm looking to expand my horizons beyond the northeast.  Time to see if this big fish in the little pond can go swim/bike/run with the big fish in the big lakes.  First order of business is to revisit the scene of the crime.  The crime being my pathetic exit from triathlon with my sad performance at St. Anthony's Triathlon in 2009."

So what was so criminal about St. Anthony's in 2009? You've heard the expression "pouring good money after bad"?  Going to St. Anthony's that year was a classic example of that.  I was supposed to do St. Anthony's in 2008.  I wasn't doing it with Team in Training. I had signed up on my own with the idea that it would motivate me to get back to swim, bike, run as opposed to long walks during marathons.  I wasn't ready for various reasons, so I paid to defer my entry to 2009.  March of 2009 came and I had not been in the pool, I had not been running, and had only been on the bike a couple of times.  A person with half a brain would have said to herself. "Okay you paid $75 to defer your entry to this year.  It's a month before the race and you haven't done any swimming or running.  Just eat the $75 and be done with it. Why spend money on hotel, airfare, food, car, etc. just to justify spending $75 to defer your entry?  Can you really do an Olympic distance race with barely any training?"

I do have a full brain, however the prudent half of the brain was shouted down by the "what the hell, go for it" half of the brain.  So to justify paying to have my entry deferred to 2009, I spent $100 to go to the pool maybe 3 - 4 times before the race.  I also bought a plane ticket, rented a car, booked a hotel room, and paid TriBike Transport to ship my bike to Florida.  (That was the best money spent for that trip! I loved not having to schlep a bike case through airports and worrying about whether or not my bike would arrive on the same plane as me.)  Let's not forget about food and gas.  I don't recall how much I paid for all of that, but I'd guess probably around $1,200. That's not counting the money I probably spent at the expo buying stuff I didn't need.  All of that to justify the $75 deferral fee.  It's true there are worse places than St. Petersburg, Florida to spend a long weekend.  On the other hand, I could have saved that money and gone somewhere even better, and saved myself the angst of doing a race that I wasn't physically or mentally prepared to do.

The only reason I was able to finish the race was because the swim got completely canceled.  The day before when I went in the water, I couldn't swim much more then  200 yards before I was gasping for air.  The waves were high and I was struggling to make any progress.  I got out of the water that day and thought I would have my first DNF on Sunday when they have to save me from drowning in the rough water.  Thankfully the race organizers thought it wise to cancel the swim due to the rough water.  I was relieved that they weren't replacing the swim with an extra run before the bike. Instead the race went off with a time trail start on the bike. Every two seconds they would send a person out on the bike.  However it was done in number order and with a number like 3099 it was going to be a long time before I got on the course.  I can't remember how long it was before I got to go.  However I spent a long time out on the course for just biking and "running".  I averaged 14.1 mph on the bike, and walked a 16:40 pace and completed the race in 3:35:01. I finished 31st out of 33 women in the 55-59 age group. I had just turned 55.  Quite a comedown from 2005 when I finished 3rd out of 35 in my age group (F50-54) with a time of 2:43:10.

I had fun over the weekend hanging out with friends. The race sucked though I did enjoy walking with a guy in the 75-79M age group.  We talked about races we had both done, and places we had traveled.  However I would have rather been talking about this stuff over a nice meal and a glass of wine, not during a slow walk in a triathlon. 

After that race, I decided I was done with triathlon.  I was too damn competitive to be satisfied with back of the pack results.  I had given up on ever being able to run again, and felt I was too young to be reduced to walking the run course.  I thought I'd be in my 70s or 80s before I'd have walk the run portion.  Never thought it would happen in my mid 50s. I would now refer to myself as a former triathlete. I'd concentrate on Tae Kwon Do, working towards my Black Belt, and maybe do some bicycling.  Little did I know that 7 months later, my world would be turned upside down with a tumble down my stairs resulting in a broken ankle.  The black belt would have to wait a year and bicycling would have to have to wait two years.  Triathlon?  Not even on the radar. It was only a scheduling conflict between Tae Kwon Do and Team in Training that brought triathlon back into the picture.

Seven years later I'm returning to the scene of the crime to make my peace with St. Anthony's.  Call it the seven year itch, or revenge of the tri-geek, but a new attitude about swimming and running is going make things a lot better this time around. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Catching Up!

I truly suck at trying to keep this up to date.  My last post was in July of 2015 where I was trying to review my comeback season of 2014.  Here it is February of 2016, and I didn't even finish reviewing 2014, much less write anything about 2015. So here it all is in a nutshell.

Rest of 2014

Westchester Triathlon: Good swim, crashed on the bike, made sure the bike was functioning somewhat, finished the bike course, ran most of the 10K before the endorphins wore off and shuffled the last mile and finished in 3:09.  A rather painful finish!

As soon as crossed the finish line I was immediately dragged into the medical tent. (First time for everything. Hopefully the last time.) That's what happens when one of your Team in Training coaches is charge of the medical tent. Still won my age group. Then again the other person in my age group, got pulled after the bike leg because she way over the cut off time.

Treasure Island Triathlon, New Jersey: Rented a house Jersey Shore with a bunch of my Team in Training buddies.  Party time with a sprint triathlon thrown for good measure.  Day before race I could barely lift my arm while swimming.  Shoulder pain from the crash two weeks earlier.  Thanks to the magic hands of our in-house PT, I was good to go.  Survived the swim, kicked butt on a 4 loop closed bike course (no cars!), and held on for dear life during the run, and won my age group by a couple of minutes.  Could have won the aquabike division if I opted for that instead.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.


June 7: America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, Lake Tahoe, CA.   Spent all spring putting in lots of miles on the bike in order to do the 100 miles.  Not much swim and running during that time.  But I had a great ride! 6:35 ride time

June 14: Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon: A week later I do the triathlon with very little swim and run training. I was slower than the year before, but not a problem, still won my age group.  Beat some of the same women as last year.

June 27: Islandman Triathlon, Avalon, NJ: This was kind of a homecoming for me. Our family would spend a week there at the beach. I had not been down there since the first anniversary of my dad's sudden passing in Stone Harbor which is next town over.  The race was supposed to be 1/3 mile ocean swim, 12 mile bike and 5K run. However when the ocean looked like this:

The swim got replaced by a .8 mile run.  Oh joy! Just what I needed was an extra run to start off the race.  However I managed to chase down all the women in my age group on the bike, and somehow held them all off on the second run.  Still haven't done a triathlon with an ocean swim, but won age group for the first time ever in a duathlon. Generally I avoid duathlons because I have to run twice.

August 15, Timberman Sprint, Guilford NH: I had not done this race in 10 years.  Always loved this race.  Very competitive.  Nice swim, 14 mile hilly bike course, and a short 5K run. It definitely plays to my strengths.  I had slight mishap on the bike. I dropped my chain, tried to pedal it back on, lost my balance and toppled over.  Only thing injured was my pride as I was in the midst of trying pass a group of riders, who then proceeded to pass me as I lay on the pavement.  "Stuff" happens. Won my age group, but was shocked how I won it.  2nd place was 20 minutes behind me.  Twenty minutes is an eternity in a sprint.

September 13, Toughman Aquabike.  USAT National Aquabike Championship, Croton, NY
This was my A race.  I had looked at the results from last year's race in Ohio, and felt I could beat the winning time in my age group which was little over 4 hours.  But there's always the questions that linger.  How many in the age group? Will more East Coast people come? How do the courses compare? I knew this course was going to be hilly which for me is good.  I didn't feel I did as much hill training as I should have, but bike mileage was solid.  I felt good about my swimming.  I spent a lot of time doing open water swims over the summer.  The swim was not easy.  The Hudson River can be rather gnarly when it wants to be.  Fortunately the currents weren't too bad.  I loved the bike course due to it being totally closed to cars.  Not an easy course though.  A big climb up an 8% grade early on.  Since it's two loops, got to climb that sucker twice.  However coming down that same hill was rather scary.  I hit my time goal of under 4:00 with a time of 3:56. Yes it was good enough for the win. National Champion!  Even got a National Champion tri-top.  I don't think I'll wear it in any races.  Don't want to have the proverbial bulls-eye on my back, especially if I choose to go to this year's Aquabike National Championships.

September 27, Westchester Triathlon, Rye, NY:  I stayed upright on the bike, and shocked myself on the run by doing it in just over an hour.  I still can't figure out how I struggle to run sub 12:00 miles in training, but go into a triathlon and knock out sub 10:00 miles.  I guess it's a combination of adrenaline, the competitive fire within and perhaps I need a bike ride as a warm up.  Maybe I should do all my runs as a brick.  I did break 3:00 hours which was one of my goals. 

A year later I'm looking a lot happier as I cross the finish line.  Staying upright on the bike helps a lot.  And yes, with it came another age group win. 

So the first two years of my comeback have resulted in eight 1st place age group wins, and one 2nd place.  I guess getting old isn't such a bad thing.

2016?  I'm looking to expand my horizons beyond the northeast.  Time to see if this big fish in the little pond can go swim/bike/run with the big fish in the big lakes.  First order of business is to revisit the scene of the crime.  The crime being my pathetic exit from triathlon with my sad performance at St. Anthony's Triathlon in 2009. That's a whole other post, which I promise won't come in another six months.