Sunday, November 27, 2005

WARNING -- (Very Long) Seattle Half Marathon Report

I'm long-winded, not wanting to leave out any detail, so be forewarned. To make the long story short, I finished in 2:48:10 (chip time). Not a stellar time, and much slower than last year, but I was upright and vertical with a huge grin on my face.

Now, for the rest of the story...

This was my fourth consecutive Seattle Half Marathon. For some reason, probably the threat of bad weather, I just can't bring myself to do the full marathon. That and I've just started my own tradition of doing the half for the last few years.

As I am not one that likes to get up any earlier than absolutely necessary, and freely admit that I am a woman that is all about convenience and willing to pay for it, I usually get a hotel room in town the night before the race. This way, I can wake up an hour or two later than if I had to drive up. It also eliminates the problem of finding a parking space and/or freezing my ass off while waiting for the gun to sound.

So, at my leisure, I drove up to Seattle (I'm only about 35 miles south) and checked into my hotel. Once I got to my hotel room, I was pleasantly surprised to have this view out my window. It was way cool, especially at night when it is all lit up like the big Christmas tree that is on top. I tried to take a night time picture, but I did it from my room and it didn't turn out. And I wasn't up for going outside to try for another shot.

After checking in, I walked the half mile to the Westin hotel for the expo and packet pick up. As soon as I walked in the door, I realized I'd left my confirmation card at the hotel and we are supposed to have those in order to pick up our packets. However, I stopped at the trouble desk and asked the nice young lady if she was going to make me go back and get it. She said no, asked me my last name, pulled me up on her computer, and went to get my packet for me. Cool.

Next up was hitting the expo and getting my goody bag. One thing Seattle has started doing is having great Asics long-sleeved technical shirts for their marathons. Being in the northwest, having a long-sleeved shirt for long runs is a pretty nice thing. In 2002, the color was blue. In 2003, it was a gawd-awful orange. In 2004, it was a puke-green. This year, it was a much nicer brick red. Now, some folks might like the orange and the green, but I am not a fan of those colors, though I wear the shirt anyway. I actually like the red, though.

Now it was time to go poking about at the expo. I was interested in some cold weather tights. I wanted to pick up a pair that I could use for both running and cycling. Yes, cycling. I'm trying to train my backside to ride the bike sans chamois. I've discovered I have a lot of trouble with some of the padding in cycling shorts and would choose to eliminate that particular problem. So, I find two pairs, one by Sugoi and another by Adidas. I'm not very brand loyal so long as what I buy suits my needs.

I mosey around the expo, waiting for my friend, Carol, to call and find myself at the CompuTrainer booth. Of course, like many a triathlete, I'm a gizmo geek and this is one of those things that I've drooled over ever since I started training and racing. However, I could never seem to justify the expense. In talking about the trainer with the sales rep, he learns the name of my coach and then offers me an additional discount, over and above what he has already offered me. I tell him I have to call my husband first, which I do, but I knew what his answer would be, "Do what you want." So I did. I bought the darn thing. I figure if I'm going to spend hour after hour on my trainer this winter, I may as well train on the (simulated) courses I'll be riding. Cha-ching.

I finally meet up with Carol and eventually we head to my hotel for dinner at the local restaurant. Good thing we left when we did as it would seem the monorail got itself into a bit of a "jam" shortly after we left the area. Oops. Clearly, not one of someone's better days.

When we arrive at the restaurant, we have to wait for a few minutes before we are seated. While there were a few tables with people at them, it wasn't packed and there were plenty of open tables available. A few minutes later, a waiter comes by to take our drink order. A few minutes later, same waiter comes by to take our dinner order. I looked at my watch. It was 6:57 p.m. Twenty minutes later, I finally get the diet coke I asked for. At 7:44 p.m., we are finally served our respective meals (bare chicken caesar for me and fish & chips for Carol). Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I asked the waiter why it took so long to get our meal. He said it was the kitchen. Yeah, the kitchen is to blame for a 20 minute delay in the coke delivery, too. Not. I didn't leave a tip. Bad service doesn't deserve one.

Once dinner was over (much later than I would have liked), Carol and I went our separate ways and I head back to my room to get my clothes ready for the next day. I decided against wearing the new tights as that is a classic newbie mistake. And for all that the shirt in the goody bag is a technical one, it felt scratchy to the touch and I figured I better save that for another day. Besides, I'm a big one on not wearing a race shirt until after I've earned the right to do so (by completing the event).

Finally, I was able to wind down enough to go to bed and actually go to sleep around ten. Of course, six o'clock the next morning came way too early. But I managed to rouse myself, make some coffee, and looked out the window. Rats, the street was wet which of course meant it had been raining. And it appeared it was still raining. As I donned my attire for the day, I managed to eat a single Baker's Breakfast Cookie (Oatmeal Raisin, my favorite) and down just a few sips of coffee. This is not my usual breakfast, but I don't have a toaster handy.

Barb shows up while I'm dressing. Since we were expecting rather cold temps, and possibly rain (or even snow), I try to dress warmly. Once I'm done dressing, we head to the lobby where we meet up with Darcy IronAyla ) who is looking slightly chilled. The good news was the sky was clearing. We could only hope that the weather would hold.

We only had twenty minutes or so to the start of the race and Barb and I still needed to dump off our extra clothing at the baggage check. That done, Barb says she needs to use the potty, but that was no dice. Only 10 minutes to the start and the lines are longer than that.

The gun went off exactly on time. It took us three minutes to get to the start line. I had wanted to do a 5/1 run/walk ratio to ensure that I would finish the race. Barb and Darcy agreed to run that pace with me. Barb because she is having issues with her knee and Darcy would because she was just running it for fun and wanted company. We also decided we would probably run without walking for the first mile or two until it was slightly less crowded. I have a hard time with people that suddenly start walking in front of runners. In my (narrow) view, walkers should move to the far right (or left) and get out of the way. They should also not walk three and four abreast thereby impeding runners behind them. But I have a lot of pet peeves when it comes to racing. That's just one of them. You'll hear about a few more later as I'm quite vocal about my opinions and hold little back. News flash there to my friends and training buddies, eh?

So, there we are running down Fifth Avenue and me wishing I had a camera to take a picture of the buckled underside of the monorail. There was some serious damage done to that system and will likely be out of service for months. Bummer. Especially during the holiday season when many people use it to get from the Center to Downtown.

We weren't far into the race when I began to notice some chafing on my inner thigh. That didn't make sense though because these weren't new tights. I'd worn them many times before. I looked down and notice that the seam had started to split. Now, I know I've put on a few pounds, but that just wasn't called for. Well, I didn't bring a needle and thread with me, so I was just going to have to keep running.

About a mile into the run, you have the opportunity to be looking down on the crowd in front of you. It is an amazing sight to see thousands of runners around you, all with the same goal in mind: to get to the finish line.

The first few miles went great and I was feeling pretty good. I was actually surprised when an hour had gone by. We'd only done 5 miles by then, but I knew I wasn't going to PR, so I tried not to worry about my time too much. This was strictly going to be a test of my knee and I'm happy to say it fared very well.

About mile 6 or so, Barb needed to stop and use the port-a-potty. Darcy and I stopped with her. I looked down to examine the chafing and was shocked at how bad it looked. I wasn't quite sure what to do since I'd never been in that position before. But Darcy pointed out the aid station. It was unmanned, but had some "blister pads." I found one marginally large enough to cover the chafing and applied it.

After that, we were on our way again. Darcy kept pulling ahead of us and would then stand around and wait for Barb and I to catch up. I finally told her to just go. Goodness, Barb and I are old ladies and there was no reason she should hang back with us when she could go faster. She trotted off and seemed glad to go. I was happy for her.

It wasn't long before we approached Galer. Galer is a very short hill with a very sharp grade. I don't really know what the grade is, but it's pretty darned steep. The problem with Galer is the hill doesn't end there. Once you make your way onto Madison, you have to keep climbing. Last year, this was not a problem for me. I was able to actually run up Madison. This year I was content to walk. We began to run again once we topped the rise and began to go downhill again on Lake Washington Blvd.

I fully expected to walk up Interlaaken when I got there, but I was surprised to find I could continue to run for quite a bit. After a while, I admit we walked a little longer than our 60 seconds, but by then, we came to my favorite part of the route. It's the part of the course that goes through Interlaaken park. It's here where I meet up with another of my pet peeves.

Barb and I are running along, chatting with each other as we can, cautioning each other about slipping on the wet leaves, when I hear and see a Propel bottle hit the ground. I also immediately see who dropped the bottle and challenge her by calling her a "litterbug." She just looks at me. I was extremely angry at her careless and callous disregard for the park and her obvious lack of knowledge of course etiquette in spite of the two year old Seattle Marathon shirt she was wearing (as was I). I angrily shouted at her, "You pack it in, you pack it out!" Again, nothing from her that acknowledged that she did anything wrong. I finally told her she was a bitch and should be ashamed of herself. At this point her man-friend-husband-running-buddy-whatever says, "Okay, you've made your point now shut the hell up." Well, that just fueled the fire. Now, if they had apologized, or acknowledge the wrongess of what they'd done, I would have been okay with it. But they were clueless. Stupid. Moronic. And it annoys me when people exhibit that level of self-imposed ignorance. So, like a little kid, and certainly not like an adult, I told him to "Make me [shut up]." That the "Last time I checked, it was still a free country and I could say what I liked for as long as I liked." Okay, so not the most mature response in the world. They ran on ahead, and I didn't bother to try and keep up. Clearly, they weren't worth the effort.

Before I hardly knew it, mile 10 arrived. By now I was counting down, and while I was still walking 60 seconds every 5 minutes, and sometimes 10 minutes (I didn't always hear my watch, so I would keep going until the next time), I was starting to feel my hips and hamstrings.

I was getting excited. We were approaching the end. It wouldn't be long and we would see the finish line. I think my pace picked up just a little.

About mile 12 or so, guess who I see? Litterbug and her friend are ahead of me and I'm catching up quickly. I wasn't even trying, it was simply just easy to run at this point. So, naturally wanting to have the final word and to maybe soften the message just a little, I very nicely and quietly say as I'm passing, "Maybe next time you will reconsider throwing that bottle." They say something snide, to which I simply tell them in sign language that they are number one in my book. Another flippant remark from them, I don't remember what. He tries to make excuses saying it's a race. I try, unsuccessfully I think, to point out that that's what the aid stations are for (like, DUH! dude). I mention that I've done one or two races in my life and in some of those races, littering can get you DQ'd. He just keys in on my doing races and says something to the effect, "You sure don't look like it." At which point I just finally say, "Yeah? Well, I'm ahead of you now, aren't I?"

I stayed that way, too. I also managed to get ahead of the little chubby gal wearing the Red Wind Casino shirt. I turned to Barb after the race and asked her if we'd passed and stayed passed that shirt. I'd never mentioned my desire to pick it off to her, but apparently she shared my thinking. Of course, getting ahead of Litterbug and her man-friend was just icing on the cake.

As Barb and I were approaching the final hill towards the stadium and finish line, we were passed by the lead wheelchair athlete. While this guy may not be able to walk (or run) using his feet, he was clearly not the least bit disabled!

When we enter the stadium, I say to Barb, "If you have anything left, now is the time to turn it on." And she promptly does. It makes me grin from ear to ear to watch her.

And that's how I crossed the finish line. Grinning like a fool. Small wonder considering the fool I made of myself arguing with stupidity. You'd think I'd know better by now, but apparently not. I still keep trying to better this world one individual at a time. But who knows? Maybe, just maybe, Ms. Litterbug will think twice before she tosses the next bottle. And one day, maybe, just maybe, she won't toss it. When that day comes, I'll be vindicated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Bluest Skies You've Ever Seen...

...are in Seattle. At least the old TV show, "Here Come the Brides" would have us believe that. And being from the northwest, I can attest, it is true. But that only counts when you can actually see the sky. I took the picture below of Mt. Rainier a little over a week ago when it was still beautiful.

This is a picture of Mt. Rainier at sunset when it looks like a giant strawberry snow cone.

Both pictures were taken from my just outside the building where I work. The one below is the same shot, but on a foggy day. Unfortunately, we've had a foggy day that's lasted about a week now. And it's cold. Highs are in the low 40's. Brrrr...makes for some very chilly riding and more than a few numb toes.

Where is the Oneness...

...I used to have with the water? It's disappeared. at least I don't seem to be able to recapture it. "It" being that elusive feeling of being one with the water.

Before my surgery, when I was swimming three or four times a week, I could get in teh water and let myself go. It was therapeutic, even cathartic to get in the water and start swimming laps. Some days, I could get in and swim lap after lap and, except for that pesky thing called breathing, could almost, almost fall asleep in the water I was that comfortable. The notion of swimming 200, 400, 1000 unbroken yards was not a problem.

But not now. Now, if feels like 150 yards is 100 yards too long. What happened to my oneness? Will that feeling return? Is it because I'm only swimming twice a week instead of three or four? Or is it something deeper, more profound? Have I lost confidence in myself? Maybe. I'm not really sure. I'd like to think not. I'd rather think it was just a matter of time; that I as I continue to swim, I will work once more towards that feeling of competence, even invincibility in the water. No, I'm not fast, but I can endure. I want to recapture that feeling of "YES! I can swim 2.4 miles with ease (if not fast).

Maybe we call all work together on becoming one with the water. All together now, "Aaaaaaooooohhhhhmmmmmmmmm......"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Another Successful Week

Well, I've managed to make it through my third week of training. Volumes are light and intensity low, but at least I'm getting back into the swing of things. What is different this year is the amount of riding I'm doing on my bike. At the end of the 2004 season, I put my bike away in September and, except for a couple of rides on especially nice days during the winter, I didn't take it out again until early March. That's six months of bike training I missed. Between September and the end of February, I had a grand total of 65.7 miles on my bike. To my credit, however, I had 444 miles of running and over 72,000 yards (40 miles) in the pool.

Granted, in the next 6 months, I did my level best to make up for the huge deficit on my bike by riding over 1350 miles. But in 26 weeks, that's still only an average of 52 miles a week. Clearly, that is not a sufficient base for making it through an Ironman. In analyzing the data, I discovered that I also ran less than I did in the previous 6 months, garnering only 336 miles, but my swimming increased to over 91000 yards (51 miles).

Obviously, there was a flaw in the execution of my training plan (I was using the 26 week Ironman program in Gale Bernhardt's book, Training Plans for Multisport Athletes). I think the flaw was bailing on workouts because they weren't convenient, or it meant getting on my trainer (which I was loathe to do). It was just so much easier for me to bail on a workout if I was the only one to whom I had to be accountable. Now that I have a coach, I'm held accountable by someone else and I find that I am less inclined to skip a workout.

So, the training totals for this week (my weeks start on Monday, with that day off from workouts) look like this:

Bike = 36 miles
Run = 12.6 miles
Swim = 2150 yards

For the month, my totals look like this:

Bike = 94 miles
Run = 36.6 miles
Swim = 7000 yards

Already, just in the month of November, and the month is not yet over, I have surpassed my bike total for the entire 6 months of last winter. There may be hope for me yet! As long as I can continue this momentum, I may actually get through the bike portion of Ironman Canada in plenty of time to run a marathon (oh, now I'm excited!).

So, today was my last long run before the Seattle Half Marathon next Sunday. I managed to do a whopping 7 miles and it took me almost 90 minutes to do it. Yes, that means I was slow. I'm not sure if it was the cold 90 minute ride I did yesterday (brrr...I have simply got to visit Performance Bike for some cold weather gear) or if it was the trail I was traversing that made for such a slow run. I suspect it was a little of both.

To keep things interesting, the Y group has decided to change things up a bit so that we don't get bored with the same old run. Now, instead of regularly running along the Orting trail, we'll alternate between (nice, flat) Orting trail, the (hilly) Soos Creek trail, the (just as hilly) Pt. Defiance 5 mile loop, and a hosted run (please, give me more hills....NOT!). What all that means is I'm getting in some nice hilly, albeit SLOW runs.

No matter, though, as all this hill running is simply preparing my for next Sunday's race. Yeah, right, as though I'm going race against anything. I can't even race against myself this year. Last year I PR'd on the course. I don't expect to come anywhere close to that this year. In fact, I can't help but think that in order for me to even finish the race, I will have to stick to my plan of walking for 60 seconds every 5 minuts. Yes it slows me down, but considering that 7 miles is the furthest I've run since my knee surgery back in September, I think it may be a wise move on my part. More to the point, even my coach doesn't have me finishing the race any faster than 2:45. Even at that, just so long as I can finish upright and veritcal with a smile on my face, I'll be a happy camper.

Now I need to go plan my Thanksgiving Dinner. It's not nearly so lavish as VM, but it will certainly be plentiful. Have a great week everyone and a wonderful Thanksgiving. Try to remember all those things for which you are grateful. Health, family, friends, jobs. Remember, too, life is choices so if you aren't happy with anything, you are the only one that has the power to make any changes, even if the change is only in your attitude.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Golden Crowned Kinglet

One of the benefits of all the training we do is our communing with nature. Last Sunday, my Y group got together at a new location. While I used to live in the area where we ran, I hadn't been a "runner" when I lived there (1995 or so). However, I had just become a birdwatcher. I'm extremely amatuerish, but I don't care. I still watch for birds and try to identify them.

So, while I was out on my run this last Sunday, getting absolutely SOAKING wet, I was enjoying the scenery by the river. I remember hearing a bunch of birds twittering and thinking to myself that a flock of bushtits
must be flitting through the trees. Bushtits are a very small bird, only about 3.5 inches from tip to tail and fly in flocks of 20 or 30 birds of their own kind along with black-capped chickadees and/or juncos. They also tend to be a very busy bird meaning they will flit from branch to branch of a tree, rarely perching for more than 2 or 3 seconds at a time.

Imagine my surprise then, when I finally catch a glimpse of one of the birds in the tree and it isn't a bushtit at all, but rather another very small and elusive bird, the Golden Crowned Kinglet! Again, this bird is tiny. No bigger than the bushtit, but more colorful. The Golden Crowned Kinglet usually likes to stick to the top of conifer trees and because of that, is not often seen. But when you do, if you are a birdwatcher, you can't help but be enchanted.

So, this little bird, stopped me dead in my tracks during my run on Sunday. My only wish is that I had had my camera with me so I could have taken my own picture rather than relying on those taken by others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Planning & Preparation

I had forgotten how much planning goes into my training and into losing weight.

For training, I have to think ahead into the next day. For example, last night I checked my schedule and my coach had me swimming and cycling today. Fortunately, both workouts were relatively easy, only about 30 minutes each for a total of 60 minutes. But it took me another hour just to get prepared. I had to collect all my swim gear: swimsuit, towel, goggles, chest strap, and cap. I wear my swimsuit to the gym, so I won't need to change into it when I'm there, so I also wear a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt over it along with my flip-flops.

Since I'll be going to work straight from the gym, that also means I have to make sure I have everything I'll need to clean up after the swim and get dressed. So, the litany goes something like this:

panties -- check
bra -- check
top -- check
pants -- check
stockings -- check
shoes, can't forget the shoes (or the undergarmets for that matter) -- check
make-up (blush, mascarra, lip liner, lipstick, powder)-- check, check, check, check, check
soap, deoderant, shampoo, moisturizer (hey, I'm almost 50--I need the moisturizer -- more checks

Whew. And that's just to do the swim and go to work afterwards.

Now I've decided I want to ride my bike during lunch so I can avoid riding the trainer at night. That means not only do I need to coordinate which car I'm going to drive (bike doesn't fit well into my t-bird), now I need to collect all my bike gear. Here goes another list:

Bike in car -- check (including front wheel, not like Commodore)
Helmet -- check
Shoes (there we go with the shoes again) -- check
Bike pants -- check
Bike socks -- check
Bike bra -- check
Bike top -- check
Bike top (it's cold out so I'm doubling up) -- check
Bike jacket (told you it was cold out) -- check
Gloves -- check
Bike glasses -- check

Whew, again! Everything except the bike gets loaded into a bag and that gets put into the car, along with the bike. And it's loaded the night before. I don't wait for morning.

Okay, so I'm swimming in the morning and cycling during lunch. Ack! That means I won't get to eat, so I need to take something to work. *sigh*

Since I'm trying to lose weight, I must be careful about what I take. If I allow myself to get too hungry, I'll eat things I shouldn't, like the Tootsie Pops that are kept on my desk.

So, the next list:

Lettuce -- check
Black olives (this means opening the can and finding an appropriately sized container to put them in) -- check
Tomato (slice and dice and find another appropriately sized container) -- check
Chicken breast (thank goodness for Louis Rich, but it requires weighing, cutting, and another freaking container) -- check
Container *sigh* in which to put all of the above -- check
Lids for everything (well all except for the container that will hold all the containers; it's missing so for that I use foil) -- check

Hmmm...something to tide me over between breakfast and lunch.

Luna Bar (orange bliss, yum) -- check

And just in case a Luna Bar doesn't hit my fancy:

Oatmeal Raisin Baker's Breakfast Cookie -- check

And for afternoon snacking, assuming I can resist the cookie:

Baby carrots (oh, boy!) -- check

OMG! Finally, I'm done. Everything is ready. My food is in the fridge (will need to remember to take it out in the morning), my swim bag and bike bag, along with the bike are already loaded in the car. NOW I can prepare my dinner.

When I got up this morning, I was so pleased with myself for having everything ready. All I needed to do upon rising was get my clothes on, brush my teeth, put the coffee on, pop my bread in the toaster, kick back, check my e-mail, and try to wake up. (I fear the days when I could just hop out of bed and be out the door in 15 minutes are long gone.)

After consuming breakfast and pouring my coffee, I was out the door, ready to go for my swim. Wouldn't you know, though, in spite of all that planning and preparation I managed to forget something after all. I walked out of the house and got a mile down the road before I realized I didn't have a watch on. The watch that serves as my heart rate monitor. What good is the chest strap, which I already had on, without the darned monitor? Fortunately, since I was only a mile away, I could easily turn around and go back to get it, which I did.

I'm sure glad tomorrow is just a run during lunch. That should be easy to get ready for as the clothes are already in the wash. Now, for that list...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

No Trainer For Me Today

I'm happy, happy, happy to say that I didn't ride my trainer today.

I got up around 8:30 a.m. It was so nice to sleep in for a change. I don't do that very often...maybe once a week if I'm lucky. Anyway, I was hopeful last night when I went to bed and noticed that the skies had cleared somewhat. I even saw the moon.

This morning when I awoke, the skies were still only partly cloudy. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the weather would last for a little longer. I wanted to ride my bike outside, but knew I probably wouldn't be ready to get out there for another hour or so. I was still trying to wake up.

So, I ate my toast and drank my coffee. I entered some info in my on-line workout journal and downloaded my Polar data. I checked the skies again. Weather still holding. After several days of nothing but gray skies and rain, it was nice to see weak sunshine and a few patches of blue.

I tentatively changed out of my pajamas and got my warm tights on. I didn't even bother with the padded ones (in retrospect, I'm glad they weren't padded). I donned other essentials like socks, shirt, and jacket. Next, I had to get my bike off the trainer. Not hard, but harder to do when someone in the house is still sleeping and you don't want to wake them.

That accomplished, I put on my shoes, stuck a water bottle in a cage, stuffed my recently and fully-charged cell phone into my bento box, grabbed my helmet and cyclometer and wrote a brief note to my loved one on the whiteboard in the kitchen. To wit, "Riding on the trail towards Orting. Back around 11:30." And I was GONE!

The first few pedal strokes felt wonderful. My bike was moving. I was pedaling and my bike was moving. Oh, that was wonderful indeed. I wasn't going very fast, but I didn't care. I was instructed by my coach to keep my heart rate in zone 1, with 50%of my time in zone 2. That was it. That meant I was going to be going very slowly.

After about 8 minutes or so, I reached the trail. This is the same one I traveled a few weeks ago, just before Halloween. All the kids were out chasing pumpkins looking for a jack-o-latern. Today, a helicopter was flying overhead. I could tell he was near the tree farm and my first inclination was that he was spraying the trees. That notion disturbed me, but as I drew nearer, it became very clear what he was doing. He was moving batches of Christmas trees from where they were cut to where they could be loaded. It was an interesting process to watch as it only took him a minute or two to make a round trip. At first I thought someone had to be on the ground hooking him up until I realized that he was using a huge electronic magnet. The chopper would drop down on one side of the trail, pick up a load by turning the magnet on, fly over to the other side and drop his load by turning the magnet off. It was interesting to watch.

I saw lots of cyclists out that apparently had the same idea as me. They were going to take advantage of the weather as long as it would hold. My goal today was to ride for a total of 75 minutes. But I figured a few minutes one side or the other wouldn't hurt too much, so I rode out one way for 45 minutes. I reasoned that with the headwind I was facing and the fact that it would be "downhill" on the way back, I would return faster than I went out. I was right, too. When I looked at the data later, it took me 48 minutes to reach my turn around spot, but it only took 37 minutes to return to my start position. I average just under 13 mph (oh, that is sad) on my way out, but averaged just under 16 mph (with a 23 mph max) on the way back without an appreciable increase in my perceived exertion. Okay, so those times won't buy me a spot on the tour with Lance, but after not being on the road for most of the last two months, I was pretty proud of myself.

In total, I managed to ride for an hour and 27 minutes and it was the best hour and a half of my day. To complete my week, I only have to do a 70 minute run tomorrow. Piece of cake.


If I want to be successful at Ironman Canada, I simply most lose some of this weight. It will make me faster and it will make climbing those mountain passes a lot easier. But I don't need to lose just 5 or 10 pounds. Nope, not me. I don't even have to lose just 20 pounds. No sirreee. Not me. I need to lose forty pounds to get back to my former weight. To help you visualize what forty pounds means, imagine navigating up a mountain pass on your bike carrying a very LARGE bag of dog food strapped to your back. You know, the size you would buy for a Rottweiler, German Shepard, or St. Bernard. Better yet, since we are close to Thanksgiving, think turkey. I need to lose the equivalent of TWO, not just one, but TWO 20-pound turkeys. ACK!!!

I have lost weight in the past. In fact, in 2001 I joined WeightWatchers and proceeded to lose 75 pounds over the course of about a year. But even after that loss, I still wasn't at my personal goal weight of 135 pounds. That's what I weighed when I married for the second time (which was over 16 years ago).

I can't even blame having babies as the reason for my weight gain. My children were already half grown when I started gaining weight. I can blame it on quitting smoking. When all was said and done, between re-marrying and quitting smoking, I put on over 100 pounds. That's FIVE of those dumb birds.

If I don't do something to get my weight under control, I may be packing those blasted turkeys up Richter pass with me in 2006. Trust me, that is not a pleasant prospect. I look at myself in the mirror these days and I don't like what I see. Why is it so easy to pack on the weight and so hard to take it off? Something about the equation there just doesn't seem fair.

Okay, so I don't know exactly what I'm going to do. I could try following WeightWatchers again, but I'm reluctant because I don't like being hungry and WW is very restrictive in terms of calorie intake. But, let's face it, in order to lose weight, one must restrict their calories. Darn it.

Ah, well. Maybe just by putting something out here publicly, I can motivate myself to eat just a little bit less. Maybe I can start by just losing one of those turkeys.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Letting Go

Okay, this has nothing to do with triathlon, except in the sense that it may ultimately infringe on my training. Also, the following is not for the faint of heart as you may find some of the pictures in this post disturbing.

My mother is a hoarder. Most people don't know what that means, but I found this definition and it fits my mother: "Hoarding is the excessive collection and retention of things or animals until they interfere with day-to-day functions such as home, health, family, work and social life. Severe hoarding causes safety and health hazards.”

My mother is a severe hoarder. She does not realize how extreme her condition is, which just goes to show how deep her denial runs. This is the current condition of her master bath. In fact, this picture was taken a few weeks ago, so it is probably worse by now or, at the very least, certainly no better. The sink is clogged with dirty dishes because her kitchen sink (forget the sink, the entire kitchen) is too full. I alternate between being angry with her for keeping her home in such a condition, frightened for her health and safety, and saddened by the current state of disarray.

Things have gotten so bad in my mother's home (and while she knows and acknowledges that things inside her home are bad, I'm not convinced she realizes exactly HOW bad) that she will no longer even invite her children into her home. The only reason I have these pictures is I was asked to feed her cat while she was in the hospital. While she did warn me, and I had in inclination of what to expect, I admit I was stunned by what I found. You've already seen the master bath and the kitchen. Check out where she sleeps. When there is no longer any room on the bed, it (whatever it may be) simply gets knocked onto the floor.

This is not a new phenomena. It has been going on for years, decades even. I can remember as a kid that her bedroom was always "cluttered" with "stuff." Once all we children had moved out, she began to accumulate more and more things and they collected all over the house. At one point, I can remember a can of tomato sauce that must have been so old that it exploded all over the pantry. The ensuing mess didn't get cleaned up until she moved some years later.

Several years ago, she was out of town for an extended period of time taking care of a sick relative. While she was gone, my sister and I went into her home and "cleaned up." We purchased containers in which to put her copious amounts of fabric (which she has since replaced even though she has macular degeneration and can no longer see well enough to stitch a line). Some of the meat in her freezer had been there for almost 10 years. In fact, she had so much stuff in her freezer, all of which she was loathe to dispose of, that the door on the freezer no longer closed properly and she was using rubber bands to keep it moderately closed!

In addition to that, she had cans of food in her pantry that were so old they bulged. We made the decision to throw out anything that didn't have an expiration date on it (because it was purchased well in advance of expiration dates being printed) or anything that was obviously well past the expiration date. By the time we were done, we had, gotten rid of a couple of tons of garbage--so said the scale at the local dump. This is what it looked like when we were done.

Just a few years later, this is what it looks like:

I've been reading up on the condition of hoarding and it seems it is not merely a hold over from the depression days, though many people of that era are affected (my mother was born in 1927). It has more to do, however, with the inability to "let go." People that hoard are afraid of losing control. They are afraid that once they do, they will need the information or thing that "it" represents and then be unable to retrieve it.

It also has to do with an inability to organize and/or make decisions regarding that organization. Part of the problem is because there are so many categories of one. Hoarders see each item as unique which means it cannot be grouped with anything else. But hoarders are intent on trying to organize, so much so, that containers are purchased for the express purpose of organizing only said containers to become just the latest victims of the disarray. Such is the case as can be seen in the above picture of my mothers living room. Note the white plastic baskets near the chair on the left hand side of the picture. Note also the walker that would be impossible to use in this home as there is no place left for one to walk.

No doubt by now you have also noticed all the paper bags scattered throughout the home. Most of them are empty. Those that aren't may contain one or two cans of vegetables or some other food staple. They don't get put away, though, because the cabinets they would go into are blocked by, you guessed it, more paper bags with one or two cans in them. The cycle is vicious and never ending.

Another natrual consequence of the inability to throw out anything is even the ability to throw out the garbage. My mother has a large plastic garbage bag hooked over the handle of the vacuum cleaner (or maybe it's a carpet cleaner) in her bedroom. When she has something she needs to discard, it goes in this bag. There must have been fruit or rotting vegetation in the bag as it was teeming with fruit flies. When I commented on this to my mother and pronounced my disgust, her answer was to spray the bag with fly killer! Um, Mom...the answer is to take out the garbage...which, of course, I did.

Remember that carpet cleaner or vacuum from which the garbage bag was hanging? Well, this is the state of the carpet. I tried to suggest to my mother that not only would the carpet need replacing, so would the sub-floor since her cat has decided that any spare floor space is it's litter box. Mom's carpet is so filthy it is sticky.

Okay, this is really all I have time for today. I'll have to post more about it some other time. I admit to being a little lost as to what to do. My mother is perfectly senile. She does not have dementia. She has simply become so overwhelmed, she doesn't know what to do or how to extricate herself from the mess. She is also too ashamed to ask for any help, so I may be forced to call Adult Protective Services to help me (and my family) deal with the problem as it is clearly a problem.

If anyone else out there has had a similar problem, I'd love to hear how or if you solved it or what solutions you used.

I Survived!

I survived my first week with my new coach, that is. I wasn't required to do a whole lot for a couple of reasons. First, I'm still recovering from my knee surgery. Second, I'm recovering from a cold that took me out of the game for a week or so. Between those two things, it means I haven't had any steady training of any kind for several weeks (5 or 6). That means my HR is up in the stratosphere somewhere, but my pace is a little slower than a slug on dry pavement. Still and all, this is what the first week looked like:

Mon -- rest day
Tue -- Swim 30 min / Bike 20 min (bike means ride the freaking trainer--ugh)
Wed -- Run 30 min / 15 min core exercises (I'm such a core wuss...I was supposed to do 2-4 sets of 10-20 reps of just a few exercises. I was lucky to finish ONE set of a measly 10 reps. I sure hope this improves as time marches on.)
Thu -- Swim 35 min / Bike 25 min (Good grief--20 minutes was torture the other day)
Fri -- Run 35 min
Sat -- Bike 60 minutes flat to rolling hills -- weather precluded riding outside, so this was another (puke) trainer session
Sun -- Run 60 min

Mon -- Easy!
Tue -- 1000 yards and felt like I could hardly breathe / Managed to do 23 minutes on the trainer
Wed -- Since I'm supposed to be keeping the HR down (yeah, right), I just did a simple 2 mile treadmill program. Funny, but it didn't seem to help keep my HR down. It still sky-rocketed. Then I did the core exercises.
Thu -- Swim 1250 yards -- not dying this time, but still quite winded and still slow / Okay, I managed 27 minutes on the trainer this time.
Fri -- Same treadmill program, but this time I didn't adjust the speed or incline at all and I only did 1.8 miles in 30 minute. Holy moley, but that's slow! (Well, it is for me.)
Sat -- OMG! If I thought 20 - 25 minutes was torture, 60 minutes on a trainer is nothing but pure agony. However, I have to admit it is all mental. My body could handle the challenge just fine, so long as I left everything in an easy gear. But getting my head wrapped around pedaling in place was tough. I can run in place with no problem, but cycling in place is certainly a challenge.
Sun -- FINALLY! Got to get outdoors for a change and run. Again, not fast, but managed to do 5 miles in my 60 minutes. Still haven't managed to figure out how I'm going to get through the Seattle Half Marathon that is only 3 weeks away. I'm thinking I'm going to be a hurtin' gal come the Monday after. Fortunately, that pain usually only lasts a couple of days. I'm actually still hoping to get in enough base training in the next couple of weeks that my HR comes down and I can turn the race into a decent training run. I won't be able to race, but I can at least get some good training out of it.

This is me (in the middle) at my very first Seattle Half Marathon (2002). I was having a blast. My good friend Barb is on my left (right side of photo). I have no idea who the tall gal is and she is tall. Barb and I are no slouches at 5'6". We are evidently laughing about something. Like I said, we had a good time!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

DNF Dreams

I woke up this morning and realized I just DNF'd in a dream. I don't have any idea what race I was doing. All I know is I got through the swim, got to my transition area, allowed someone to use my camera to take pictures of me in T1, then I proceeded to march off someplace that had nothing to do with triathlon. I also know that I was doing the tri without the approval of my coach. That meant I wasn't pushing things as I approached T1. For whatever reason, I chose to walk out of the water and didn't start running until I heard someone come up behind me. Then I slowly kicked it into gear. Funny thing about that T1--I don't remember seeing any bikes.

Anyway, after leaving T1, I didn't get on my bike, I went to a house. I'm not sure why and I don't remember what happened there, but somewhere along the way, I know my husband lightly chided me for not continuing. Feeling guilty, I put on my bike shoes and prepared to go run. Yes, I was going to run in order to finish the triathlon. In my bike shoes. Hey, it was a dream. It didn't matter that I didn't bike first.

I remember leaving this house, where ever it was, but it wasn't mine, and going out the gate (white picket fence, even), and seeing other athletes that had finished the race leaving the venue. About this time, I decided to go to the awards ceremony (it's not unusual for me to be in a race where the awards are handed out long before I am anywhere close to finishing), and tell the officials that I was going to DNF, but I was going to finish the run anyway. In my bike shoes. Why did it not occur to me that I hadn't BIKED yet?

Very odd dream. Not sure of its significance, if any. I haven't had a tri-related dream in a long time, so this surprised me. The thing I do remember about it, it was a half-iron. Too weird.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh, What a Relief It Is!

I saw this on Flatman's blog and couldn't resist. I'm a sucker for tests, usually doing quite well on them.

So, I took the 8th grade math test.

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

So, after passing the 8th grade math test with flying colors, I moved on to some other interesting tests. First off, my IQ. No secrets there. My logical intelligence is decidedly below average. Well, duh. Why else would I be training for an Ironman. That's not terribly logical, is it?

Your IQ Is 130

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

Other than that, it looks like I'm a pretty smart cookie. What a relief. (Please, do NOT take this too seriously!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

Yeeehaaaw! Yup. Got on my bike today and rode for 20 minutes. Okay, so it was really for 23 minutes. I have no idea how far I went because I was on my trainer and my computer wheel sensor was on the front wheel, which went absolutely nowhere.

I also swam this afternoon. I won't try swimming during lunch again any time soon. I was a little late returning to work and I didn't dry my hair or re-apply my makeup. I felt a little, um, {nekkid} without it.

Anyway, woke up this morning and checked my e-mail only to discover my coach had finally got me up and running on TrainingPeaks. Had I opened my email last night, I could have prepared for my swim this morning, but that obviously didn't happen. Oh, well. At least I managed to get both the workouts in. Tomorrow is a short run and some core work. I think I'm gonna like this coach. Look out IMC 2006!