Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey, its totally random Tuesday

First, let me just say that Bascom Hill humbled me.  Wow.  I could actually feel the last drop of oxygen being removed from my blood stream and the cold, evil infill of lactic acid start pulsing through my veins, and then I would look up to realize I was only half way to the top.  Brutal.  But it was a great workout.  Dodging students was kind-of fun.  And, as Dano pointed out, we did pass at least three people walking their bikes up the hill.  Oh sweet victory!  But in all seriousness, had that hill stood between me and class when I was in college (it is smack in the middle of campus)....I would have missed A LOT of class.  That thing takes some determination.

Once we finished our 6x1:45 repeats, it was off for a nice cool-down along the lakeshore path and through the Union Terrace to finish things off.  The cold breeze was whipping up whitecaps on the lake and most of the classic sunburst chairs were empty.  Much different than the humid summer nights filled with lingering beer drinkers, but still a beautiful scene.  Fall is definitely on the way.

On the way home me and my obnoxious spandex stopped by the 11th floor of Meriter Hospital to enjoy the view.  Unfortunately, enjoying that particular view means you are probably visiting someone who's taken up temporary residence there.  Funny how that works, Grandma's currently got the best view in Madison, but I'm sure the only view she wants to see right now is the one from her kitchen window.  But she's in good spirits, comparing her heartrate to her "marathon running" grandaughter, and rockin' some compression socks of her own (wish insurance had paid for mine!).  Aren't grandmas great?  You should all go call your grandma's right now (if you're lucky enough to have one or two you can call).  You'd probably make her day....and maybe even yours.

And making my day yesterday was my all out attack on the laundry beast.  Definite progress was made.  And somewhere between getting ferocious piles of laundry under control, and my head hitting the pillow, I've managed to read the prologue of A Race Like No Other.  Whohoo.  I know.  Pathetic.  But my point here is that in those seven. whopping. pages. I read a dangerous little statistic; OPRAH'S MARATHON TIME.  Dangerous, why?  Because now I want to beat it.  And it is just close enough to what I think is possible for this marathon that I might actually try.  And while you may be thinking that a little competitiveness is a good thing, I'm not convinced.  Based on what happened somewhere around mile 9 of Saturday's 17-miler, when I got the crrrr-azy idea that I could try to beat my half marathon PR (in a high-volume-week training run -- brilliant), I do not think having any sort of time goal in mind for this marathon would be a good idea.  Because the train wreck that was miles 14 through 17 is not something I need to see again.  Especially not when there will be photo documentation.

And isn't that why we do this crazy stuff?  For the finish photo?  Or maybe its the sexy socks?  I'm not sure anymore, all my oxygen is being used for muscle repair at the moment and my eyes are getting very heavy.  Perhaps the "why" question is better left for another day......

Now go call your grandma.  :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Research isn't going so well

I have been trying to read this book, thinking that it will make me appreciate these 26.2 miles a little more, but marathon training makes me very sleepy.  I have yet to make it past the first chapter.  And unfortunately, my library doesn't have it on CD which means no easy commute "reading."  So I'm not sure this will actually get read before the big race.  Something tells me I'll be happier on race day if I actually run, instead of read about it.

Incidentally, I have some epic drive time to put in these next few weeks.  If anyone has good book suggestions I'd love to hear them.  I've got 25+ hours of windshield time in my near future.

US Gran Prix Cyclocross: Planet Bike Cup, Sun Prairie, WI

So this cyclocross stuff is totally new to me, but what a fun way to spend an afternoon.  It might have been even more fun if I knew more about this sport.  But what's not to like about watching a bunch of super-fit athletes ride fast?  Here's a little video to give you the highlights.  (I was a camera slacker and didn't get great pics.)

Best Kept Secret: USGP - SP from Jessica Gammey on Vimeo.

From what I can tell, cyclocross falls in a category someplace between mountain and road biking.  But overall its much easier to watch than either of them, thanks to a course thats only about a mile long (riders do laps for 40-60 minutes) and has ample food and beer available for purchase (we're talking golf cart with a keg in the back...in addition to food and beverage stands).  Triathlon could learn a little from this sport!

The course - mostly grass or dirt - winds up, down and around rolling hills....and I'm told gets EVEN BETTER when its wet and rainy.  It was pretty dry Sunday so the course was fast.

Oh ya, and there are hurdles.  Hurdles, in biking?

It reminded me of something you might have thrown together in your backyard when you were a kid....a crazy little obstacle course set up to race all the neighbor kids.  I have to admit, it looked kinda fun.....

But when is riding bikes not fun, really?

Friday, September 25, 2009

I can do it!

I'm thinking about sporting some pigtails and a running skirt for my 17-miler tomorrow just like her. I can do it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Victories

Just got back from a 75 minute run.  Run did not suck.  I might even go so far as to call it a good run.  So this is new, and different.  The Slowest Triathlete and running are getting along?  What sort of alternate universe is this?  But I did.  I had a good run.  I was just out there running along in the dark.  Zoning out.  Listening to my tunes.  Every now and then I'd glance down at the watch....oh, 10:20 pace....nice.  Then I'd think, hmmm, where should I run to next?  And I would just run there.  It really was that simple.  I didn't think, "ugh, how much farther?" or "can I walk?" I just. kept. running.  And at the end of it all, I was nearly home but needed to tack on a few more minutes so I thought "oh, I'll just run up this hill and around that block."  No, really.  I did.  At the END of a 75 minute run I said "oh, I'll just run UP THIS HILL."  And then....I ran up it.  Like it was no big deal.

What is going on around here?

So as not to lead you to think I'm getting a big head about all this lets talk about reality for a minute.  I am averaging a 10:30 pace.  No land-speed records are being broken around here.  And I still get noticeable lower leg pain after just a couple miles.  But when I think back to where my fitness was just five or six weeks ago, and then consider what I did tonight, I can't help but feel pretty proud of myself.

The fact that I can just go out and run over 6 miles on any old night of the week is a HUGE accomplishment in my world.  So please allow me a minute revel in my little victories.  Because I think little victories are of big importance when tackling something like the marathon.  Its a long, bumpy road to 26.2, and it can get you down at times if you let it.  So I'm going to enjoy this accomplishment for what it is just all on its own...not as part of a marathon training plan, but just for what it was....a really good 75 minute run.  On a Thursday.

What they don't put in the Ironman inspirational videos

Everyone knows bodily functions are not a taboo topic in the world of endurance sports.  I actually sometimes have to remind myself that my coworkers don't really care if I've gotten my "business" done before I get to work quite like my running buddies do before a morning workout (hey, it affects everyone if you've gotta get some "business" done in the middle of the run).

It amuses me the way that runners and triathletes talk about their potty status like its the weather.  But then (as you know), I love a good poop story.  These days though, I'm about at my quota of stories about bodily fluids.

Ironman race reports have been flying around this past week and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that every report I read or heard talked about poop, puke, or blood.  Every. Single. One.

In fact, there's more than one report about people puking during the swim -  that's the first two hours of the race - and it goes downhill from there.  The bike seems to have had its share of blood, and a little puke (way to rally from the puke-fest to place 3rd Hilary!), and a whole lotta "I had a hard time eating," (which meant puking was on the horizon).  And apparently things just completely fall apart on the run.  I will spare you the details.

I'm completely repulsed, but its a little like the car wreck that you can't look away from.......you're totally grossed out and yet you find yourself saying things like "how bad did it get?" 

I now know why Ironman registration is the morning after the race.  You're still high off watching the glory of the finish line.  Mike Reilly's voice is whispering in your ear, "you could be an Ironman."  And all those Iron-peeps are still sleeping.  Which means they haven't had time to get their race reports out yet to taint your Ironman-finisher dreams with reality.  Otherwise, I think that registration line might be a lot shorter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thoughts on compression socks

1)  For $60 they should DO the laundry not just be laundry.

2)  Getting them on should count as part of the workout.  How do the little nursing home ladies do this?  Between the socks and the wetsuit, who needs to actually race?  We could all just show up and see who can get into their race gear the fastest.

3)  Am I really going to comparison shop for socks?

5)  Did I just fall prey to the biggest marketing scam EVER?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Devil's Challenge Race Recap

I knew this race was hilly (I've done it before -- in 30-degree weather), and I still found myself in disbelief of the topography on the bike.  Add to that the fact that all this 12-mile slog-fest running I've been doing lately has apparently left me without a lot of power on the bike, and improved but still not blazing speed on the run....and well, it was only an OK season ender today.

All in all though, a fun day with friends and a great workout.  And that's what counts.

Race recap:

Alarm went off at 4:10AM.  Painful.  Although I had to pee so bad I would've had to get out of bed anyway.  Guess I did a good job hydrating?  I had laid out all my nutrition and packed my bags the night before, so all I had to do was get up and work my way through the assembly line.  Drank some hot lemon water, hoping to help my stomach digest when it would really rather be sleeping.  Oatmeal in a coffee cup, sliced peaches in a bag, and I'm out the door.  (In hindsight, a little more nutrition about 40 min before swim would have been good.)  Bike was already on the rack waiting for me.

Foggy drive to pick up Justine.  Potty stop.  Already?  Holy hydration.  Over do it much?

Justine hops in and we manage to get our groggy morning brains to carry on a lively conversation on the hour drive to Devil's Lake.

We hit up the McDonald's just outside of Baraboo for yet another potty stop before heading to the park, not wanting to have to use porta-potties.  There is a line of triathletes in the bathroom at McDonalds, which cracks me up.

The sun is just starting to come up as we take the final turn toward the park, with shades of purple and pink streaming across the tops of the bluffs and the fog hovering below.  Beautiful morning!

The rest of the pre-race ritual went pretty much without incident.  Chips, numbers, body marking.....  Get set up in transition.  I score some rockstar end-of-rack bike parking.

 Justine is completely keeping her cool even though this is her first race.  Impressive.  I'm managing to keep calm too.  Shocking -- although, about time.  We find some other friends who are there racing and spectating, tell race stories (lots of Ironman tales), laugh, basically kill time.  So much so that we completely miss the pre-race meeting and head straight for the beach.

Justine is off in wave three.  I get to wait around until wave eleven -- some 40 minutes later.  But I do find a friend in my wave, and even manage to get in a few swim strokes while I'm waiting.  I'm staying calm, have a great little practice swim and have high hopes for the race swim.

The lake levels are down this year so the swim is shallow.  There's a good bit of chatter about the best strategy....swim early, dolphin dive, or just run (like most do).  I decide I'm going to run until the water is waist high (about half way to the first buoy) and then dolphin dive, if I'm able to in the crowd (that's the hard part, sometimes you're just forced to do what the people around you are doing).  Seems equally as fast as running, and far less exertion.

I manage to stick to that plan and I'm feeling really good for the first quarter of the swim.  But after we round the first bouy I can see I've made a tactical error with my line-up.  Too conservative.  Should've just lined up in front and went for it.  The girls who are now in front of me are side strokin' and doing all kinds of crazy stuff....which is fine, but they are forming a big wall of slowness.  I see some open water ahead so I try to sprint through them.  Well, I think another girl had the same plan (at least from what I can tell) and we both try to hit the same small gap in the wall-of-slow.  I think she boxed me out from the left, so I end up swimming up on the girl next to me (sorry!).  Everything is chaos.  Arms, legs, water splashing everywhere.  Honestly, one of the roughest swims I've had, which I was not expecting.  Somewhere in all that mess my breathing goes whack and when I finally get some space I'm spazing and need to calm down.  Not easy because I'm pissed.  I was really feeling the swim today and now all the swim magic is just *poof* gone.

Thinking back, I wish I had not worn my wetsuit.  I know, sounds crazy right?  But the thing is so constricting.  I feel so much more relaxed in the water when I don't have it on.  I think I could've gotten my mojo back a lot quicker had I not had it on for this race.  I had debated -- it was only a 500 swim.  (Although after finding a little open water I swam way wide and probably added a few meters onto that.)  I did find my groove again....but at that point we were rounding the last bouy and heading into transition.  I needed the swim to be LONGER.  (did I just say that?)

I walk gingerly out of the water....lots of rocks....hit the steps and think, huh, I actually still feel pretty good.  So I jog it into transition -- something that's usually hard for me because my breathing wackiness really sucks up all my energy.  But not today.  I'm trotting into transition and happy to be headed out on the bike.  Loved that my bike was on the end so I didn't get caught up in all the nonsense going on mid-rack.  Because, miraculously, the place was a madhouse  --  people everywhere.  Not the ghost town I'm used to.

There's not a lot of zone-out time on this bike course.  You are either ascending or decending pretty much the entire 15 miles.  Starting with a big climb before you even hit the first mile marker.  Nothing like going anaerobic right outta the gate -- but you might as well get used to it.  You'll be getting friendly with your lactic acid threshold for pretty much all 15 miles.

Admittedly, I slacked on the bike.  I should've been faster.  But I knew it was hilly and I didn't want to totally blow up.  I also knew I had 45 minutes of running to do after the race, so I was thinking about that and was probably a little too conservative.

Did Hammer fuel in my water on the bike and managed to almost finish the bottle.  Again, probably thinking more about being able to add on the 45 minute run after than get through the 5k, but that seemed to work great for some sustained energy.  Probably got in about 200 calories.

The whole time on the bike I'm thinking, "at least the run is pretty flat."  Um, notsomuch.  I've done this course before.  How could my memory be so off?  The run was hilly too!  "Rollers" I believe they would be called.  But at times they felt a little like mountains.   No conserving here.  I only have one run pace, so I just found it and locked in.  Right at marathon pace.  In a sprint tri.  That's how I roll.  (I blame genetics.)

The Finish:
Because I was in the second to last wave all my peeps were done and there to cheer as I crossed the finish line.  Always a fun thing....though I tried to play it cool.  ;)  All in all I knocked about ten minutes off my previous time for the race.  But the race wasn't really fun for me.  The day was fun.  The race felt awful.  I think the sprints might be just a bit too short for me.  Just when I'm locking in to a rythmn and pace, the dicipline is over and its time to move on to the next one.  Which makes the whole race feel pretty uncomfortable.  But, maybe that's the point?  That's what actually "racing" feels like.  I wouldn't know.  I don't generally go into an event with a race mindset.  I'm usually thinking survive....finish.

So while my times maybe aren't improving as much as I feel like they should be, I am noticing a shift in my attitude toward race events.  I started noticing it at Door County, but got distracted by the horrible swim conditions.  This weekend I definitely noticed it -- a lack of nerves.  Which was really confusing to me -- going into a race knowing that your fitness and experience were enough to complete it, possibly even do well.  So what then.....?  That was the confusing part.  If I was prepared, did this mean I had to be competitive?

Scary!  If you're going to start setting expectations out there other than crossing the finish line, then that means there is the potential for disappointment.

I don't really like thinking about races in a competitive way.  It seems to kinda suck the fun out of it for me.  But I guess this is the natural progression.  Once you master a goal, however humble that goal might be, its time to move on to a new goal.  I think that's called progress.  And I'm cool with progress.  Progress seems to indicate more of a personal improvement goal, than a "be faster than your neighbor" kind of goal.  Which, for whatever reason, is a lot easier for me to embrace.

So in general I'd say there was a lot of "progress" made at Devil's Lake this year.  A great way to end the season.  Looking forward to next season already.

**this race also taught me not to recruit new people to the sport who are in your age-group as they have the potential to push you down a little farther in the standings.....looking at you Justine.....she managed to beat me in her first triathlon ever, although it was a small enough margin that I would argue that had we been in the same wave, I would have chased her down.**

**also, those stretchy shoe-lace things (yanks, and various other brands) = best invention EVER.  Why was I not using these three years ago?

**also, ran 45 minutes on the trail around the lake after the race.  A nice change of scenery.  Over 2 hours 30 minutes of workout time for the day.  Not bad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not really the end

My last triathlon of the season is Sunday.  I've been a little sad about that fact.  Especially in the wake of all the Ironman excitement.  I mean, where did summer go?  Did I really only do three sprint tri's this year? Is this stupid marathon really the only thing left to train for? Running? All I'm going to be doing is running?!

But then Warren Miller reminded me....the end of tri season is the beginning of "off"season. And now training for a marathon seems like its just preparation for something much, much better:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh mornings, how I wish I loved you....

because right now I need to find motivation for an 85 minute run.  Its been a long day.  I really, really just want to go home, eat some dinner, check some things off the to-do list, and curl up with my laptop before drifting off to sleep.

But no.  I need to go running.  FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF.  On a weeknight.  Which is really at least a two-hour project when you consider finding all the electronic gagets and making sure they're charged, finding something to wear, getting out the door for the actual running part, and then stretching and abs (ya, when those actually happen).

If I were a morning person, I could get up and get my running out of the way.  And then enjoy my evenings, as shortened as they may be due to the early wake-up calls.

Ugh.  How does one become a morning person anyway?  Is there a class?  Maybe a magic morning-person pill I could take?  Or maybe what I really need is a magic able-to-function-on-three-hours-of-sleep pill.  Yes, that might be even better than just being a morning person. 

Ok, if someone could just let me know where to find one of those little magic pills, that would be great.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This was a big weekend for reasons beyond Ironman.  You see, I had something of a breakthrough moment in my triathlon "career" this weekend.  For the first time in three years and 7+ triathlons I SWAM IN THE LAKE.  Why is this monumental?  IT WASN'T A RACE.

I actually elected to swim in the lake for reasons other than the lake being a necessary means to some sort of finish line. 

I know, its about time, right?!

I did somehow manage to swim without any wacky breathing whatsoever.  So now I have a positive lake experience to focus on when I'm standing at the start line trying not to puke up my oatmeal.  But swimming around just outside the swim area, where kids are playing and families are throwing footballs around in the late afternoon sun, is a somewhat different experience than standing at the start line with a bunch of competitors in the early morning haze.  So, while I'm not going to be so quick to think I'm cured of all my open water swim ailments, this was a great first therapy session.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ironman Wisconsin 2009: The Finish Line

This is your day.
All these people are cheering for YOU.
The dream is now....
Head into the light....
You are and Ironman!

Ironman Wisconsin 2009: Its A Beautiful Day

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ironman Madison -- the best week of the year

I have been out soaking up Ironman vibe.  Its like that favorite holiday treat...it only comes once a year so I gorge while I can.  Welcome to Madison Ironpeople. I'm so glad you're here!

I absolutely love downtown Madison this week.  My usual Starbucks is packed with Ironbods instead of stuffy suits.  Everyone with that chill kind of intensity of someone who's put in all the work and is now sitting back and waiting 'til its time to enjoy the reward.  It is such a motivating energy.  I swear you can get Ironman contact-high just being here.  The endorphins are everywhere -- like runners high without the work.

I just love it.

I can't wait to play Ironfan for all my peeps on Sunday.  It gets me all teary just thinking about it.  You're all going to rock this thing!  Its your day kids.....enjoy it, own it, and smile pretty when you hear the crowd on Martin Luther King cheer for you, and that distinctive voice boom "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sports Bra Splurge!

I got "the girls" a little present this weekend....

I splurged and bought two more CW-X sports bra's to match the one that I already have.  Why?  Because when you are willing to dig through a pile of dirty laundry for the already-worn-three-times, still-slightly-soggy, very stinky, I've-got-so-much-organic-matter-growing-on-me-I-could-probably-almost-walk-on-my-own bra every time you work out rather than wearing the five or six other options in the drawer.....you need to buy a few more.  Clearly you have found sports bra nirvana.  Don't fight it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Revelations of the Run

It came to me during my 12-mile slog-fest Saturday and I couldn't help but exclaim, out loud to my running partner, "Marathons are a really stupid idea."


But, crazy as she thinks I might be she hung in there with me for six miles of running and then biked along beside me for the return trip. Somewhere toward the middle of mile eleven she even busted out with the Rocky theme. Though at that point not much was helping. I was in the pain cave for sure. And the thought of adding 14.2 more miles onto that run felt overwhelmingly unattainable.

Every single run this week was a battle for me. I can come up with a list of reasons....too early, too late, too fast, under-fueled, over-fueled, dehydrated. Whatever. Its all a bunch of excuses. The truth is that THIS IS RUNNING. There are going to be good days, and there are going to be challenging days. But you aren't going to learn anything about yourself, or push through any boundaries without it getting a little tough. If running a marathon was easy, what would be the point?

So I had a little chat with myself, I said its time to suck it up and attack this challenge. This is running. This is you figuring out what you're made of. This is you living up to the challenge that you threw down for yourself.

This is you preparing to run from the statue of liberty to central park. How lucky are you? How lucky are you to be able to run? To be able to spend time training? To be able to pick your challenges rather than have life choose them for you? To have friends and family supporting you along the way (even if they think you're a little nuts)?

You are too lucky to be whining about bad running days.

So this is me, running.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I love a good race movie

Almost makes me want to take up mountain biking....except that I don't really like going to the ER. And I can't afford any more bikes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

$22 well spent

Made a necessary trip to the bike shop a few days ago.  My fuel cupbards were bare....completely out of energy bars and gels.  Rather than come home with the $5500 new toy I really wanted (sometimes I swear the bike shop is just torture), I came home with a bunch of Hammer fuels and these babies.  (TYR Velocity mettalized.)

Every time I swim I get out of the pool and think "I really need some new goggles."  But its not enough of a need to make a special trip, and well...I keep forgetting, until I swim again.  And what fun would swimming be without leaking, foggy goggles, really?

Don't they look tough?  I think they are guaranteed to make me faster and fearless in the open water, though I looked and couldn't find that in writing anywhere on the box.  What they did claim to be is UV protective and fog-free.  Which made me laugh, because a) all goggles say they are fog free and I have yet to find a pair that actually are, and b) like I need UV protection for all my pool swimming.  Any sunshine and open water I see is on race day and all races seem to happen at the sun-barely-over-the-horizon hour.

But I have to say....they were completely fog free for my entire workout.  Whole new experience being able to actually see what's around you in the pool.  And not always a pleasant one.  Sometimes its best not to know whats floating by you. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Early Morning Ride (brr!)

Don't let all this beauty fool you.....it was a COLD ride this morning.  September is certainly differentiating herself from August.  My hands were numb and had lost all dexterity by the time I got home.  Its been a while since I wanted a a hot, hot shower when I got home from a workout instead of an icy cold one. 

Considering I'm a slow mover in the morning, its dark until 6:20am now, it was going to be cold, and the dog decided to puke as I was filling up my water bottle....I'm pretty proud of myself for getting out there and gettin' it done.  (though the real credit goes to my workout buddy -- thanks for the accountability!)  20 miles in before work.  Not bad.
You do get some amazing scenery in those early morning hours.  I can see how people get addicted to the early workouts.  There seems to be a small stretch of time from just before sunrise until not too long after where the world is still kind-of groggy and half alert.  The sun's not quite up to full brilliance yet, and everything just kind-of suspends in this quiet, sweet morning glow. 

But then you almost get run down by a gravel truck 5 minutes from home and your peaceful morning bliss comes to a screeching halt.  A nice little welcome back to the rat race adrenaline kick, I guess.  Just a little reminder to be thankful for all the mornings we get.  Whether we're up to enjoy them or not.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


You know how sometimes, you're running along...feeling like a total bad-ass athlete.  Like you are totally rocking this workout.  Showin' it who's boss.  You are in it to win it today.  Running along thinking you look like Desiree Ficker or Amanda Lovato.....feeling pretty much like a triathlon rockstar.....

and then you run by a reflective surface and see the train wreck that is reality and wonder how it is that you are even able to continue to move in a forward direction with form that bad.  And whoa, girl back off the root beer floats already.

Ya, I hate it when that happens.