Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rip it

I was zooming along with my latest project, happy to be knitting again, thrilled that I was almost done. Then I took a good look at the project. A really good look. The project uses these yarns in this order:Each color is used once. Not twice. The pattern doesn't call for a color to be repeated. I knew that. But the yarn cakes got dropped , fell on the floor, were mixed up and the fourth color from the left got used twice; once where it should have been used and again after the fifth color. Instead of continuing to knit I got to tear it out. Yes indeed, instead of Runner Girl Knits, it was Runner Girl Frogs.

I ripped it back - no kidding - 56 rows. Ow. Four sets of a 14 row repeat. Everything I knit last week and then some. Normally if I'm fixing a mistake I'll unknit it but there was no choice this time. I spent an entire evening untangling and rewinding the yarn. I had been knitting with 4 strands of lace weight and each strand had to be rewound, a lightweight nightmare. Then I put the project semi-back on a smaller set of needles, unknit 2 more rows until I was sure I had the right stitches and reknit a row back onto the original needles.

Frustrating. And now I still have 1 color left to go!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Look both ways

Saturday's run with Anita was almost our last. Ever.

Anita and I met up early Saturday for a planned easy 6 mile run on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. It was a beautiful morning, clear, sunny, cool. Just the type of morning that looked to get hot so it was great we got off to an early start.

I felt tired from the get-go. I had trouble breathing and as usual it didn't occur to me that it was because I was running too fast. I was just on the level where I could talk, in spurts between breaths. Occasionally I'd make an effort to slow down but then I'd speed back up. It's the downside of my fast runs with Olivia; my legs get used to moving quicker but my lungs don't want to accommodate that. Hopefully my lungs will get stronger soon and keep up with my leg speed.

At the three mile turnaround we were having a great conversation and I had started feeling better and decided what the heck, let's run 8 instead of 6. I neglected to inform Anita of this and she didn't question not turning around. We were trying to do a 9:1 run:walk but I was wearing Mr. Garmin and she hadn't set up her watch for intervals. Since neither of us hears the beep anyway we decided I would just keep an eye on the time. This resulted in walk breaks about every 11-12 minutes that lasted 60-80 seconds.

At about 3-3/4 miles we came to where the trail crosses a street, at a "T" intersection. The street we were crossing had a clearly painted crosswalk and a stop sign; traffic along the top of the "T" (parallel to the trail, we weren't crossing it) had right-of-way with no stop. As usual as we neared the crosswalk we checked for traffic. There was a truck coming down the street and I thought I had made eye contact with the driver. We ran into the crosswalk and he kept coming. I slowed, he kept coming, I yelled, then yelled much louder and as Anita and I came to an abrupt halt he slammed on his brakes, an inch or two from us. I realized the driver had never once looked to his left to see if there was oncoming traffic or anyone on the trail in that direction.

This was a big pickup and stopped, the top of the hood came right to Anita's head. Maybe 10 seconds more and she'd have been splattered all over the street and I'd have gone flying. The driver, an elderly man, was horrified by what had almost happened and apologized profusely. His dog, sitting on the seat next to him, panted happily away while Anita and I stood there shaking in reaction. The sun had been in the old dude's eyes, but that was no excuse for not checking to see if someone was coming on his left. It was clear that he hadn't intended to stop at all, he was just going to roll through the crosswalk and the stop sign, and then turn.

After that we ran for a little bit but then I had to walk to try to calm down my heart rate. Adrenaline was pooling throughout our bodies and reaction had set in. We walked more in that mile than at any other time during the run and that mile averaged 13:45. Finally we felt a little better and began to run again but we never reclaimed the loose, flowing run we had before.

The run back was tough and I continually had to make an effort to slow down my legs. I got the feeling that we should have turned around at 3 miles, as originally planned. We would have missed the codger and had a fabulous 6 mile run. Our last couple of miles were our fastest, as usual on that trail, and I was happy to finish. Overall we averaged 12:30, :22/mile faster than the same run last week.

We took our time cooling down and stretching, trying to find some shade. The morning had fulfilled its promise and it was already quite warm. After a while I moved on to the second section of my day which involved much less adrenaline and much more patience. I spent the rest of my day with my mom.

This week I'm hoping to get back to a higher level of exercise. Maybe it'll even include a higher level of sleeping. And a lower level of work. Hah!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Friday

Happy happy joy joy, there's no work tomorrow! No official work. I plan on a fabulous little run (6 miles? 8 miles?) with Anita and then I'm going to help my mom with her paperwork and filing, since I've been incredibly lax in that department for the past month or so. I was too tri busy and tri tired that I wasn't even getting my own stuff done. Maybe after that I'll do my own filing, but that completely erases the whole "no work tomorrow" plan.

Last night Olivia and I continued what we're hoping are regular after-work runs. I was rightly concerned because the heat had returned. When I went outside at about noon it was nice; warm, light breeze. When I left work it was over 90 degrees and still. Ouch, not great running weather. I briefly considered bagging the whole thing but decided that was too wimpish even for me. Instead I told Olivia that we'd just run easier than we had on Monday. Great theory, not so great in practice.

We ran the same flat trail run as Monday and at the turnaround I looked and we had averaged about 15 seconds faster than on Monday. No wonder I was gasping for air. We took a longer walk break to cool down, then started running even faster. Again determined not to wimp out I said nothing, but finally about 3 long blocks before the finish I said we had to take a very short walk break again. We did, then finished up even faster! Olivia said she felt great, I was gasping too hard to say anything.

I know I couldn't do any distance at that speed but it's fun running balls out for short times. I'll look at those runs as my weekly speed work, although just running at your limit for 3 miles isn't technically speed work (I think the technical term for it is "dumb"). Hopefully it will still translate to faster running on the long runs when I'm not pushing myself to the edge.

Last night I knit for the third night in a row, for the first time in months. I'm loving knitting again, just like I'm loving running again. I can see myself getting back into the run/knit run/knit run/knit don't-do-anything-else pattern very easily. I'm going to have to make a point to continue cross-training because I think that's what is helping my knee be strong and healthy. At least for the foreseeable future I'll continue the hard core exercises (pun intended) that my therapist embellishes each time I see him. Right now my therapy exercises are taking over an hour again and that's ignoring any knee related exercises.

So what's that about not having to work tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Under the weather

My brain is telling me to quick quick quick train for and run a marathon. My body is telling me to stay in bed all day. Yesterday I listened to my body because it was loudest. A sinus headache that rapidly turned into a tension headache kept me prone most of the day. Not as if I don't have a bazillion things I could do at home if I was feeling well, but none of them got done.

I managed to knit last night, the first time I really felt like knitting in a long time. I quickly remembered the pattern and zoomed along. For about an hour, all that my head could manage. I enjoyed having needles back in my hands, enjoyed the feel of the yarn sliding along, enjoyed the look of the developing project.

On the quick quick quick front I've tentatively decided which marathon I'll run this year, assuming that my body cooperates. I don't think I'll be ready until at least late November, which eliminates quite a few races. It came down to either California International Marathon or Dallas White Rock Marathon, neither of which I've run. I'd like to get at least one missing state under my belt this year so by default I'm aiming for Dallas. I'm going to hold off registering for now, waiting to see how my longer runs go, and then hope I'm still able to get into one of those races. I've booked a hotel in Texas and I'm mentally ready, I just have to get my body to agree.

So much for a rest after all that tri training!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Moving on

In honor of not being on any team and not training for any major event (c'mon, Nike is just a half marathon), on Saturday I went for a lovely little run with Anita. Bree and Sandy were off running a marathon without me (and Bree set an incredible new PR!) so Anita and I were alone. We ran on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail from the Lafayette end and managed to run 10 miles. The longest run I've done since the half marathon I ran the day I skipped kickoff to run instead. It was great!

In a way this proved my assertion that I don't run as fast was recorded at the tri. We averaged 12:52/mile. Granted, we were talking the entire time and running very easily, but we were running. And talking for every single step of the way. But we didn't purposely slow down, we ran at a pace that I thought I could maintain for 10 miles.

Tonight I ran with Olivia, returning to our regularly scheduled weekly runs. Yes we miss Pam, but we'll continue running at least every Monday and hopefully a second day each week, to be determined. I was a little concerned about keeping up with Olivia since she's much faster than I am but I figured I could send her on her way since it was still light out. Imagine my surprise at my own speed. We talked in the outward direction, although I was breathing hard and having to talk between deep breaths. We didn't talk at all on the return trip since we were running way to hard for that.

I did manage to whine about once every half mile or so. I was pooped and wanted nothing more than to take a walk but I didn't want to tell Olivia that. So instead every once in a while I'd blurt out a complaint or whine. I'm happy to say that she totally ignored my annoying whining and we kept on running fast. I tried slowing down (ok, I announced that when we reached 3 miles I was going to quit) but Olivia calmly told me to just keep going.

We finished strongly, gasping and and tired. Another point in my argument against that whole 10:50 average on the first run loop: we averaged 11:53 for 3.27 miles and I was running very close to my limit. With only one short walk/drink break at our turnaround halfway through. During the race I took walk breaks and I was shuffling. Did I really run 10:50?

As much as I want to schedule a marathon RIGHT NOW I'm enjoying just running for running's sake. Next week I'll join Phil and probably Claudia to swim, just because. And soon I'll go for a bike ride, for no reason at all. Strangely liberating!

The Triathlon at Pacific Grove Race Report. Finally.

(be sure to read the thrilling posts leading up to the actual Triathlon at Pacific Grove:
Part 1: Tri Training: A Retrospective
Part 2: Heading out to the Pacific Grove Triathlon
Part 3: Almost there, Pacific Grove Triathlon
Now, where was I?? Oh yeah,
3 - 2 - 1 GO!)
The gun went off (horn? whistle? shout? it's all a blur) and the front of the pink-capped group sped into the water, dove, swam away. The middle of the group ran to the water, leaped in and swam away. The back of the middle of the group, where I was, ran to the water, waited for the person immediately in front of them to get out of the way and then dove into the water and tried to find room to swim. It was challenging because of the crowds. In my part of the pack were weenies and newbies who weren't as interested in swimming right over someone in their way and weren't as interested in getting kicked in the face. We just wanted to get through the swim without getting tangled in the kelp or drowning or freezing.

When I'm wearing a wetsuit I don't kick as much as I do without, but during this race I learned to be a defensive kicker. Whenever someone slammed into me I'd kick hard to keep them off. Not necessarily nice of me, but I didn't need someone using me as a flotation device. I know that going a straight line, without bothering to go around someone, is the thing to do in a tri swim but I just don't get it. I certainly wouldn't body check someone during a run, why would I do it during a swim?? My mama taught me better than that.

It was crowded, splashy and kelpy. Because of my pre-soak I had no reflexive gasping and freezing; because of my mental imagery I had no anxiety about the crowd. I was remarkably calm and focused for the first time in an open water swim around other people. The only change I made in my swimming was to breathe every other stroke, always on my left, sighting every other time. That made it much easier to get enough oxygen and I'd shift my eyes to the right while sighting so I'd see what was going on over there. When it got kelpier I sighted more often, trying to find a clearer space.

The huge orange buoys were good for sighting but I also kept an eye on the women swimming strongly in front of me. If one was swimming a straight line I'd just sight on her cap. That didn't work as well on the second loop when the woman I sighted on swam directly off course. I realized it quickly but I must have looked strange to the guys on the kayaks and surfboards.

Before I knew it I was back at the beach. I waited until I could touch sand and then got my legs underneath me and tried to stand up. Easier said than done, but I managed to wobble my way up the sand and around the rock, grabbing the rock for a slingshot effect back to the water. I ran in again, dove cleanly and swam away. It had cleared out considerably by that time.I was in a gap; slower than the leaders but faster than the back of the packers. While there were still plenty of women (and a couple of the slowest men) swimming near me, I was able to find longer stretches of open water. A couple of times during both loops I found myself on top of a large batch of kelp and following Coach Paul's instructions I stopped kicking entirely and just grabbed on and pulled myself along top until I was clear. That worked very well.

I got stuck for a while behind Kicky McSplasher and every time I'd try to veer around her she'd go that way too - an accident I'm sure, but annoying anyway. I finally just went straight ahead and clipped her on my way past. I also got behind a woman switching between breast and free stroke and changing her pace with the change of style. I ended up clipping her too. Sorry!

As I got about halfway between the last buoy and the beach the fastest swimmers of the wave after mine caught up and passed me by, one of them trying to go over me. Nuh uh, I wasn't letting that happen. Big area and she easily could have gone around me, I was swimming a straight line at that point and it's not like I'm so small she didn't see me. I got to the beach the second time and it was even harder to get my legs under me and stand up. Like a drunken sailor I weaved my way out of the water and toward transition.

Swim time: 40:11.9
Swim lap 1: 19:50.9
Swim lap 2: 20:21.0As I ran up the stairs and along the ramp I ripped off my caps and fumbled to unzip my wetsuit. I was freezing and my fingers weren't working too well. Despite my earlier, careful reconnoitering of the route back to my bike, I took the middle way straight across the grass instead of along either pathway. Because I had on booties I didn't care what surface I was on, I just wanted to get changed quickly.

"Quickly" being relative. I was so cold and fumbly that I just sat down to remove the wetsuit and booties and put on my socks and cycling shoes. I pulled on my arm covers, jammed the helmet on my head, put on my sunglasses and tore the top off a gel. All while trying to lift my bike off the rack. It seemed to have gained about 20 pounds since I put it there earlier in the morning. I got it off, finished the gel and dropped the package on my towel and headed out.

T1: 7:29.5

Where's the mount line? The nice man pointed it out and I jumped on my bike and sped off. In theory. I actually fumbled with the mount but I managed to get going. As I did I saw Olivia's wonderful sign and all my friends underneath, cheering away. What a lift that was! I took a drink and settled in. I calmed my breathing and took stock. I felt remarkably well and so I pedaled hard. Not to my limit, I wasn't that crazy, but I took advantage of how strong I felt. I passed many people and was passed by many more. I followed good etiquette and stayed right, although some people hadn't read the handbook.
I really didn't look at the scenery at all on the first loop. I passed Ms. Claudia as she was riding along, shouted hey, and continued on. I felt great going up the hill at the turnaround. There was a water stop there, which I wasn't expecting, handing out bottles of water or electrolyte drink. I had my own so I didn't have to worry about getting a hand-off. I made the turn with no problems and powered down the hill and away.

At this time my thoughts all were geared toward finding a place to pee. I knew I should have stopped either between the water and bike or before I ran out, but I wasn't thinking. I didn't want to take time but I was getting very uncomfortable on the bike. TMI, right? I scoped out the locations of the porta potties and considered stopping on my next loop.

As I neared the turnaround I saw, and heard, my buddies and teammates cheering. I slowed down for the tight turn and sped back up again, giving a big smile to my friends. Again I headed out, passing some people and being passed by others. Again I wasn't looking at the scenery as much as looking out for where I was going.
Once again up the hill, around the turn, back down. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go. About half way back at a little park I saw a guy run out of a porta potty and ride away. I slammed on my brakes, unclipped and leaned my bike against the side, ran in and took care of business and then hightailed out of there. I don't think it even took a full minute but I felt enormously better. As a point of information, cleats on the bottom of cycling shoes are very slippery on the floor of a porta potty. Just a warning!

Again back to the turn, again getting a lift from my friends. This time after I passed I got emotional and teary, and that's when I took a moment to think about all our honorees and everything they've gone through. I spent the next few miles thinking about my dad, about how much he would have loved spending the day in Pacific Grove. I dedicated this race to him, as I dedicate all my races to him, and continued on.I was a little slower getting up the hill again this time but I was determined on the way down to enjoy the scenery, for at least a few miles. I had missed seeing the lighthouse the other two times and managed to get a view when I passed it. I noticed there were surfers in the water (who knew?), seals on the rocks, birds everywhere. And lots of rude cyclists too.During all loops I made sure I was drinking frequently. I managed to eat my gel (I think I had 2, but I'm not sure) without glopping it all over. Much easier to eat with an extra hand to squeeze out the last drops. I was glad I had decided to stick with gel instead of anything else because my stomach was feeling fine and I didn't want that to change.

Back around the turn, more cheering, another uplift, and they shouted out that it was my last loop and to go to transition next time. Heh, I had asked Olivia to do that because I was sure I'd lose count. Thanks guys, you really kept me from going around an extra time.

I was getting a little tired, but more importantly the wind had picked up. The outward direction had a strong headwind, which turned into a cross-headwind in a few spots. I was still passing some people, being passed by others. I was much slower going up the hill for the last time and I was able to cut the corner tighter than I had before.

This final time back I wasn't looking at anything except the other cyclists who had apparently all gotten tired because many were riding crazy. I didn't want any accidents at this point. As I neared the end I looked at my cyclometer and thought to myself that I couldn't possibly be done, I must have one more loop to go. It was much earlier than I had thought it would be and I was really confused. Only the fact that the Olivia sign was no longer on the side of the road convinced me that I was, indeed, done with the ride. Keeping my fingers crossed that it was right, I headed toward the bike-in and hoped for the best.

I slammed on my brakes, unclipped one foot, came to a dead halt and slowly lifted my leg over the bike. I started to run back to my transition spot, realized it was crowded in there and had to pick a good line.Bike Time: 1:42:44.25
Lap 1: 25:15.8
Lap 2: 26:36.8
Lap 3: 24:56.8
Lap 4: 25:54.8

I racked my bike, shoving over the bike next to me that had racked right on top of my number. I pulled off my helmet and arms but had to sit again to put on my running shoes. I got them on, slugged down another gel, put my hat on and grabbed my race belt with my number. I clipped on the fuel belt and race belt as I ran out of transition.

T2: 5:21.9
I started running and Whoa! Wobbly legs, fast heart, yikes! But there was THE SIGN and my buddies cheering away, so I had to look good. Fake it, right? It worked and I ran (shuffled) along. I passed all my tri coaches and waved and slapped hands with them. I ran off feeling strong and -- well, not exactly. I was huffing and puffing and trying to get a rhythm, but it was tough. Wouldn't you know it, the sun had finally come out and it was really warm, almost hot. I was finally glad that I only had on the sleeveless tri top. I sucked down my Ultima, speeding (shuffling) along.

The route was changed at the last minute because of reconstruction on the trail path. We ran on the other side of the street from the return route, cutting over to the path after a the construction area. It was sort of down grade in that direction which was good, I needed that break. There was a water stop at the turnaround right at the Aquarium and I dumped a cup of water over my head. Although the trail was flat there, the street we turned onto was a small hill. Ok, maybe just a large up-grade. I took a walk break, then continued running.

I knew at one point we'd be turning left and going uphill. I reached that point and there was another waterstop at the bottom of the hill. I didn't take anything, and walked up the hill while I took a drink of Ultima. I carefully ran down the hill to conserve my quads, knee and back. Another left turn back onto the road and all of a sudden there were the cheering crowds again.

And Mama Lisa, running along side on me, on the sidewalk, asking if I was ok. I nodded and kept running. She asked if I was drinking and I nodded again, thinking that although I love her, I didn't want to get penalized for being coached. Go away, I thought quietly to myself! She asked again if I was making sure to drink. I nodded again, pretending that I didn't know her and she wasn't coaching. Once more, she asked if I was drinking and told me to make sure I started early. That time I yelled out Yes! and kept running. I was torn, she's run along side me in so many marathons and is always an enormous boost for me, but this time the regs clearly stated that no coaching was allowed. Oy! My answer satisfied her and she stopped to cheer on other people. Sorry, Mama Lisa, I didn't mean to be so rude!

Back along the cheering throngs. On one side of the road were the coaching staff, on the other were my friends. Zip around the corner, speed away again. And then walk once I was out of their sight. Dang, I was tired and breathing heavy and sweating and oof. I only took a moment and started running again. Lots of people out there, again passing and being passed. At the waterstop I again dumped water over my head and it cooled me off. Also, I again walked a bit on the upgrade.

The headwind was strong in that direction, good news and bad news. I appreciated the cooling effect and didn't appreciate the wind in my face or being slowed down. I never breathe well with wind in my face, whether it's hot, cold, wet or dry. I attributed my asthma-like breathing to the wind. And my quickly increasing fatigue.

Up the hill, down the hill, and there were my friends. My fuel belt was annoying me because it kept sliding on my tri shorts and banging my back. I grabbed one full bottle from it, ripped open the velcro and tossed it to Bree. She wasn't sure if she should catch it; would that be outside support? Would I be penalized? I didn't care in the least, I was even happy if I never saw the belt again.Speeding around the corner for the last time, one last cheer from all the coaches, shuffling as fast as I could. My breathing totally sucked by then but it was my last couple of miles in my first (and maybe last) triathlon and I was going to be damned if I slacked at that point. I poured more water over my head at the turn, walked for a moment on the grade, ran to the hill, walked up, ran down without regard to aching body parts and turned the corner. That was it, bring it on home. I hit the afterburners and started sprinting with a good quarter mile to go.Past the crowds, past my friends, sprinting as fast as I possibly could. I saw the finish line from way off and ran harder. I probably scared the crowd with my wheezing but I was determined to cut every second I could. I crossed the finish line and almost immediately had to completely halt to get my medal and have my chip removed. Then I kept walking and wheezing and almost crying and nearly puking.Run Time: 1:15:19.4 (ave min/mi 12:07)
Run Lap 1: 24:43.3 (ave min/mi 10:50)
Run Lap 2: 24:49.6 (ave min/mi 12:36)
Run Lap 3: 25:46.5 (ave min/mi 13:05)

Full Course: 3:51:06.95!
All rank: 813 of 897
Female: 322 of 398
Age group: 21 of 28

As I paced along, trying to breathe, Bree and Anita came running up to congratulate me. I gasped out a few words and kept walking, trying to catch my breath, trying not to get sick. At those moments I possibly felt worse than I even have when I've finished a race. I had pushed, I left everything on the road, I was empty. I paced up and down the street, Anita and Bree pacing along with me. I continued pacing until I thought I'd better get my butt down the street so I could see Claudia finish.

Sure enough, just a few minutes after me came Claudia steaming across the finish. We were finally done, finally completed what we had planned so many months before. It was over finished done, and I was thrilled.

But I couldn't catch my breath. Our entire cheering squad surrounded us, congratulating us. I sat down on the curb and tried to calm down and get my bearings. I finally was able to breathe and cooled down. We stood up and all headed back down the street to see our coaches.
Hugs all around, thanks rendered, astonishment (mostly mine) voiced. Then we got to Coach Al and Mama Lisa who in our hearts will always be THE coaches. More hugs, congratulations, thanks. Coach voiced concern that my lips were blue. Funny, right after our test swim a teammate told me my lips were blue. I guess I had spent the past 4 hours hypothermic. Time to dry off and eat.
Coach Paul reminded me that we had to check out at the TnT tent and get our pins. I'm so glad he did because it was the last thing on my mind. They knew I was done but officially I needed to check out. At that point I realized that I hadn't brought anything dry to change into. D'oh! Not like I've never done this before, never finished a workout or race and needed to change. Bree sweetly loaned me some cash (since mine was on my bike - in the transition zone) so that I could buy a tee shirt. Then although we wanted to go straight to lunch, we heard that we should get our stuff out of transition.

After being misdirected and redirected I got back to my bike and slumped onto the ground. I started stuffing the wet things into the wet pack, then stuffed it into the bottom of my back. I grabbed things and threw them in willy nilly, not particularly caring how they ended up. When most things were packed I took out my phone to check for messages and Claudia ran up and told me we had a table! Food! Beer! Hurry! I went to cram my phone back in the side pocket and caused my room key card to fall out. I slammed them both back in the pocket and with a big grunt heaved the pack on my back. I unracked my bike and hurried (hah!) back again. We scurried across the street, left our bikes on the front porch of the restaurant and sat.

We ate. We drank. We talked and chatted and happy happy joy joy. I was exhausted and still a bit sick to my stomach but figured food would settle it. We ordered, ate, drank, sat for along time. I was thrilled to be part of that crowd, happy to have my friends around me, glad beyond words that it was over.


I looked at the results later and had to laugh. Everything was faster than I had expected. Total swim time of 40 minutes? Sure, in a pool maybe. The visualization and mental rehearsal and pre-chilling myself worked as advertised. I didn't freak out, didn't jump every time someone came near me, was able to swim as I had practiced. Total bike time of 1:42? Not according to my practice rides! In fact, during our course preview rides I took about 30 minutes for each lap. Granted I was riding comfortably then, but 10 minutes faster per each lap? And the run! I can almost believe the overall average of 12:07, if I had been running the entire time without any walk breaks at all. And if I had been running faster than I thought I had. But the first lap with an average of 10:50? No way no how. Maybe on a track on a good day when I'm well rested. Right after I'd done a hard swim and bike ride? I don't think so!

I asked around and nobody else thought the run course was short. Coach Paul was frankly skeptical when I mentioned it, saying that they're pretty careful about marking courses. I know that, but still. I did realize that one reason I was wheezing wasn't that my asthma was so bad, it was because I was running so hard. I still can't believe it, but I'll take it until they realize their mistake.

Looking Back

What would I have changed about the training? My health, but that's a given. I would have liked to feel more a part of the team but much of that was my fault; it was hard to socialize with all the strangers when I didn't even want to socialize with my friends. I would have liked many more bricks, and longer distances for them. I really would have like to start the weekend workouts earlier. Meeting at 8:00 am on Saturdays and 8:30 am on Sunday, sitting through all the talks and clinics and then not working out until it was hot as a boiling pot of pasta or smoggy as Los Angeles in 1980 made the training more difficult than it needed to be. I understand that people like to sleep in, but I think more people would rather do the workout and get it over with early and have some time of day left for other things.


There are so many people to thank. I need to start with all the people who helped me raise $4,126 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the real reason we do all this. Friends and coworkers (who are also friends) and relatives gave me from $1,000 to $25 and every cent was deeply appreciated. Thank you for your generosity and concern for the cause that's so dear to my heart.

I have to thank my doctor for her assistance in getting me on some meds that enabled me to stop crying and get some training done.

Thank you to the incredible coaching staff of our tri team: Head Coach Paul for creating a comprehensive (and brutal) training schedule and for keeping an eye on my injuries all season; swim coach LuAnne for her kindness during my worst back aches and for trying to (re)teach me how to swim; coaches Mike K, Mike D, Andrew, R2, Adam for their time and knowledge and encouragement. Thank you to the team captains for their course support and Sunday workouts, and especially thank you to Christine for her exuberant spirit. Thank you to Erika for managing so well on her rookie season. Thank you to the mentors (especially Ginger) for holding things together.

Thank you to our honorees, for sharing your lives and putting faces to the cause. I wish you good luck with your treatments and recovery and life beyond cancer.

Thank you to my sis for being there when I needed her. For knowing what I was going through, for offering to come here at any time. For listening to me when everyone else was tired of hearing about my sadness and depression and stomach problems. Just for being you.

Thank you to the rest of my family for (mostly) understanding that I had no time or energy for anything except training. Extra thanks to Noah for for training tips and for reminding me that I "might be over thinking it a tad" which was spot on! Thanks to David for taking my worn old bike and making it tri-worthy.

Thank you to all the people who took such incredible and abundant pictures of the race that I was able to plunder for use in this report. I'd give credit where credit is due but I have no idea who took which picture. If I used your picture, thank you!

Thank you to Olivia for the Best! Sign! Ever! and for being the Best! Cheerleader! Ever! Thank you to Jeanette for listening in nauseating detail to all my woes and for drying my tears when I needed it. Thank you to my girls (in no particular order): Anita, Bree, Pam, Sandy, Mary Ann. I love you for always being there, even now that half of you are so far away. I will never ever forget our runs together, they are really the most special memories I hold. Bree and Anita, I will forever cherish the memories of you cheering me on at my first triathlon.

Thank you to Phil for being at all the trainings, for showing by example how to improve and how to get through it and how to get strong and fast. Thank you for your energy and good nature and even your doubts. Good job, Triple Crowner!

Thank you most of all to Claudia, who made me do this convinced me this was a good idea. I'm still not sure whether I'm going to kick your ass for this! Thank you for holding my hand through it all, for sticking with me through every little bit of training, for driving everywhere, for going out for wonton soup, for being every bit as obsessive as me about every teeny detail, for surprising me at the race with my friends, for pedicures and wine and -- ok, maybe not the wine, that's what started all this! -- texts and calls and really, just being my friend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Almost there, Pacific Grove Triathlon

(When last heard from, our intrepid heroes were heading back to their hotel rooms instead of participating in the team's final workouts ...)

When I got back inside my room I decided to go through my goodie bag, read the race instructions, affix numbers to places where numbers needed to be. I think my biggest surprise was finding out that you can't crawl during the run; "A participant who gains forward progress by crawling shall be disqualified." Here I'd been telling everyone that I'd finish the race if I had to drag my broken body across the finish line by my fingernails. Darn, that called for a change in plans. I guess I'd have to feel better and stay on my feet.

I got confused with all the race numbers. I knew the big bib went on my race belt for running and the big foldy cardboard number went on the bike and the little sticky numbers went on my helmet. I just wasn't certain where to place the cycling numbers. The logical place to put the bike number would have blocked either my access to my gear levers or to my bottles. I thought that the helmet numbers went back and front, but maybe they went front and side. I decided to leave all of those and take a short nap instead.

After what seemed like 5 minutes (and in reality was only about 30 minutes) it was time to go to the Team's Pasta Party. For the six of you out there who aren't familiar with this little ritual, the night before a Team in Training event is a large gathering of all participants and their family and friends and involves presentations and speeches and bland carbo-licious food. The larger groups normally get a better party, although this doesn't always hold true. As you arrive at the venue, all of the paid and volunteer TnT staff line up and greet the participants with boisterous noise and cheering.

I've been to parties with buffets, parties with terrible food placed in front of you, parties that lasted for an hour, parties that have gone on and on until it's way past our time for bed. This was one of the better ones. The buffet had salad, bread, plain pasta with sauce on the side, pasta salad, cooked veggies. I think there was chicken too. Piled in the center of the tables were pretzels, bananas and oranges. Our group took up almost an entire table; along with me were Claudia and Rocky, Rocky's parents, Phil, Olivia, Lindsay. After giving us time to eat and chat, the presentations started.

There were groups present from most of the western states. We were told how much money, as a group of about 340 athletes, we had raised (a total that escapes me now, but it was a LOT of money; our local team, training for Pac Grove, the Big Kahuna and Nations Tri raised over $178,000). Kudos were given to first timers (me! me!), repeat Team Tri'ers, coaches, paid TnT staff, volunteer staff. The largest fundraisers were called out and man, some people had incredible success. The largest fundraiser of the group won a sparkling new bike, courtesy of TnT's newest sponsor, Schwinn.
The biggest part of these pasta parties is when we hear from someone who has been personally touched by one of the blood cancers. This time the speaker was our very own teammate, Emma. Her daughter, our team honoree, has recently finished treatment for Leukemia. They both stood up on stage and Emma told the audience about cancer from a mother's perspective, with some comments from Lauren. She talked about diagnosis, treatment and their family life during all of that. It was heartbreaking and informative and inspirational and very well done. How could any of us be scared of a mere triathlon when facing cancer is so much worse. I wasn't able to hold back my tears, thus continuing my record of always getting a little weepy and sniffly at these talks.

After the party Coach Paul gathered our team together for final words of wisdom and the plan of attack for the (early) morning. We were supposed to meet at pre-dawn and ride our bikes to the transition area. With our humongous packs on our backs. Over three miles. In the dark. After walking our bikes for a half mile on a public street since nobody had lights. Claudia and I were among the very few who didn't like that plan (I have enough trouble not falling over when I can SEE where I'm going) and we asked if it would be ok if we got a ride there from Rocky. Yes, it would be. Whew! I was picturing my race being over before it even started because of some stupid incident in the dark. Some more chit chat, more talking, then we all went our separate ways.Except our group all stopped by my room first so that Claudia could help me attach my number to my bike. She ended up just placing the foldy one in the middle of the cross bar which meant it might blow in the breeze but wouldn't restrict my access to the gears or drinks. When everyone left I laid out all my things for the morning, filled my bottles with water and Ultima and stuck them in the fridge, wrote a big note to myself to not forget the bottles I had just stuck in the fridge, rechecked my stuff, fiddled with other stuff, got ready for bed, rechecked my stuff, got into bed, rechecked my stuff, read for a while, rechecked my stuff, had a glass of wine, rechecked my stuff, got back into bed, did some mental rehearsal for the swim, got out of bed and read for a while, rechecked my stuff, went back to bed and then actually slept for about 2 hours. Way to be be prepared!

When the first of my three alarms (paranoid much?) went off at 4:15 am I lay still for a few moments, stretched a little, thought about how freaking terrified I was, dismissed those fears and hopped out of bed. I showered and had a cup of coffee and managed to choke down a bowl of oatmeal. That was the first time I've been able to eat oatmeal since my stomach problems began and I took it for a good sign. I took my time finishing up my preparations (and remembered the bottles in the fridge) and met Claudia and Rocky outside the room at 5:30 am. We (they) loaded up the car and we headed over to Lover's Point. We passed all the TnT'ers trudging along the street with their bikes and congratulated ourselves on driving.Parking was an issue but Rocky squeezed the car into a teeny space. It didn't really fit, but we decided to let him worry about it. In the pitch dark we headed to our assigned spots in the transition area and attempted to set up our spots by touch. As it got lighter, more people arrived and started filling in all the empty areas and squeezing the bikes together. I chatted with the women near me, all TnT'ers from other chapters. Our coaches were wandering around, assisting and offering advice on gear placement. I got a few tips about which direction to place my shoes and what to place of top of what.
Claudia and I walked down to the beach and walked the entire transition route from water to bike to bike out to bike in to run out. I was glad that Coach Paul had recommended we do that, we were able to find which paths would work best. We also saw the lines for mount and dismount which would come in handy later.

As it got closer to race time we walked over to join the group, including Olivia with her fantabulous sign. When I said a few months ago that she was the Best! Cheerleader! Ever! I didn't even know the half of it! Throw in Lindsay, Phil and Rocky (and his parents), and Lael and I knew we'd be well supported. And then two more of the Best! Cheerleaders! Ever! showed up: Coach Al and Mama Lisa! As coaches for the TnT East Bay Marathon team they've taught me everything there is to know about endurance sports. We've also all become very close. I absolutely love them to pieces and knowing that they'd be there supporting me for my first tri was an incredible boost. Coach Al has taught me a lot about spirit, motivation, pacing and Mama Lisa has proven by example that you can do anything that you set your mind to. The two of them are so genuinely caring and loving and generous with their time and affection and it was fabulous to have them there.But it was also overwhelming to me. As the first wave of men (boys) got ready to race I was feeling sick and scared and trembly and on the verge of tears. I excused myself from our crowd and said I was going to go get ready but I don't think I fooled anyone. I went back to my bike and sat down, trying to focus, center, ground. Deep breaths, empty my mind. It almost worked, but I was too nervous. A short while later Claudia showed up, took my arm and told me she had something to show me and I had to come with her. Bewildered, I followed along like a trusting child. She requested that I not drown her when I saw the surprise and before I could muster any emotion at all, I saw them:

Bree and Anita had come to cheer for me at my very first triathlon. That was it, the tears started, the ugly cry began. There they were, holding signs and smiling and there for me. My best running buds, my only local peeps left of our very close running group. A surprise to beat all surprises and one that left me -- still leaves me -- feeling loved and cherished. I could not have been more thrilled. Thank you Claudia, for the surprise. It almost makes up for talking me into this in the first place!
After hugs and pictures and more hugs, Claudia and I left to suit up. We're not good enough at donning our wetsuits to know just how long it will take each time. Coach Paul had said we should be on the beach, ready to go, 45 minutes before our wave. We returned to our friends, had a few more photo ops and hugs and good wishes, then hit the beach. At that point we knew there was no turning back.
That's a crock, we'd known for months there was no turning back. We met up with our teammates who were in the same wave and got a few more instructions from Coach Paul. The wave before us started and it was our chance to get in the water, get used to the cold. I intended to get in there and release all my anxiety and fears before the start and it even worked a little. The water was freezing, about 55-57 degrees. Good thing I had booties and a squid lid, but I was still icy cold. Nevertheless I stuck my face in the water and blew bubbles until that whole flight or fight reaction was waterlogged and numb. Mission accomplished! I made sure that lots of icy water hit my entire body , that not a thing was left to be surprised at the start of the race.
As I got out of the water one of my teammates pointed at my face. My lips were blue. Hey, I was cold! Nothing I could do about it so I just ignored it. We all started lining up for the swim and it seemed that everyone wanted to go in the back of the bunch, which just wasn't possible. Claudia and I ended up about 2/3 back, with scattered women behind and to the side of us. We hugged each other and faced front. This was it, the end of four incredibly tough months of training and craziness about to pay off. It was 8:45 am, 1:30 after race start and time for the pink-cap wave of F29 Under/TnT Female 1 to begin. The countdown started:

3 - 2 - 1 GO!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Update on recovery

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled race weekend report which is taking forever to write and taking you forever to read.

My recovery is going well. I'm amazed at how much better my body feels after the tri, compared to how it feels after a marathon. There's two reasons for that (the feeling better part, not the amazement): (1) I was only out there less than 4 hours instead of my normal almost 6 hour marathon, and (2) I was on my feet running for 20 miles less than a marathon. I understand why people prefer to race a tri. Not my cup of tea, but if I was only looking at the aftermath then I might consider switching sports.

The only discomfort I still have is in my back. It's no worse than it was before the race but it's also no better. My therapist has just added back in the exercises that hurt in the short term but will hopefully correct the problem in the long term. Meanwhile it will be ouchy and my twice daily home therapy will take forever, but since I'm not training long tri hours it doesn't matter.

I'm tired. My sleep patterns are still crap. I had hoped that when I stopped the late workouts that I could sleep better but no. My stomach is still bothering me so apparently the stress of training for and anticipating the tri was not the (sole) cause. Bummer, I had hoped that would go away too.

Finishing my tri was not the magic bullet I had hoped for. Maybe I'm just impatient and and full health will come by, oh, the weekend. That would be nice!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Heading out to the Pacific Grove Triathlon

Could I possibly have more stuff to take to the race?? I'm used to packing for just a marathon, just for running, just for one run. Luckily I didn't have to pack for an airplane because I would have been stumped. I always carry on everything I need for the race but I don't think I could have gotten my entire dining room floor in a carry-on bag.Every time I added something to the pile I got more nervous. What was I forgetting? Did I really want to wear/eat/use whatever it was? Is there enough drink/gel? Will it fit in my car? Will it fit in my pack? Will I be able to carry my pack??

I finally decided enough was enough and carefully stacked everything, in order, into the pack. It was heavy but liftable. I also packed all the other clothing and toiletries I'd need for the weekend and set aside a few things to pack in the morning.

I didn't sleep Thursday night -- nothing different there -- and got out of bed early. I had my last physical therapy appointment to go to before driving down to Monterey. My therapist and I had agreed that we wouldn't do anything corrective, just things to stretch and ease my back and neck. The usual stim and heat, ultrasound and so on and I left feeling like a million dollars. A nervous million dollars.

After picking up my breakfast (a skinny vanilla latte, as usual) I rushed home and loaded up my car with all my stuff. Sheesh, you'd think I was leaving for a couple of weeks instead of two nights. My timing was excellent and I drove off to meet up with the others. I was caravanning down to Monterey with Claudia, Rocky, Olivia, Phil and Lindsay. No, of course we didn't all have our own cars. Claudia, Rocky and Olivia were smooshed into Claudia's car with her bike and all her stuff, not to mention their own things for the weekend. Phil and Lindsay drove down in Phil's car, probably with a lot more room since they didn't need a bike.

The drive went well and quickly. Amazing how fast you get down to Monterey when you drive 80 70 65 mph. Hey, I'm not admitting to driving any faster than the limit. Even though traffic was whizzing past us at well over 80. We decided to go straight to the hotel. Official check in time wasn't for a few hours but we hoped to get lucky.

I managed to get myself lost (took the wrong exit) and happily dug out my dandy iPhone with the GPS. In a couple of minutes I had placed myself on a map, placed the hotel on the same map, and got directions from one to the other. It turned out I only had to stay on the street I was on, go a few blocks and there it was! Without the phone I probably would have driven in circles for a long time. I think the phone paid for itself right there.

Our team (and I think all of the 340-ish competing people from Team in Training throughout the country, along with their family and friends) were staying at the Hyatt. I've stayed at many many many places in Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel but that's one place I've avoided, probably since it's off the beaten path. We were able to check in early and were put in the same building. It's a big resort with lots of buildings. I ended up with a ground floor room, right on the parking lot which concerned me because of noise. I parked in front of the room so at least nobody would be able to shine headlights into the room at 2 am.

Are there enough pillows on that bed? I knew I would end up throwing most of them onto the floor. And what's up with those incredibly odd lights? They looked like they were meant for someone to break into song in the middle of the night. Or like they belonged at the foot of the exam table when you're getting a ... well, all the women here know what I'm talking about.

We unloaded the cars and went to lunch. We couldn't figure out anywhere exciting and ended up at Carrows. I was afraid to eat anything except for a simple sandwich, I didn't want my stomach to get any worse than it already felt. I ended up with a turkey sandwich (and fries, which I hardly touched) since I know bland turkey and bland bread rarely upset me. Boringly dull, but safe.

It was time to go over to the expo, time to look at the water, time to see the transition area. Oooh, my nerves went nuts. I was trying to maintain, trying to be calm, breathe in breathe out. The water looked different this time:
The swim buoys were in the water and we could see the actual course. There were large piles of kelp everywhere. Oy. Hopefully the earlier waves would break it up before I'd have to crawl through it.
Claudia and I picked up our race packets. I was afraid that I would be put in the second TnT women's wave which wouldn't start until 9:30 am, 2 hours and 15 minutes after race start and the last wave before the relay. I wanted to be in the first TnT women's wave and luckily that's where I was placed: pink cap, start time 8:45 am at 1 hour 30 minutes after the race start. Whew, that would definitely give me enough time to complete the race, even if I had to crawl.

Wait. Reading through the regulations, crawling isn't allowed! What's up with that? "A participant who gains forward progress by crawling shall be disqualified." Hmmph. Guess I won't crawl then.

Our race packets were given to us in a very nice little "green" reusable canvas bag. It was heavy, containing a couple of magazines, literature, ads, our set of race numbers, our cap, our shirt. The shirt was a simple white short-sleeved cotton tee with the name of the race on the front and a multi-colored picture on the back. There were a few booths selling merchandise and the official branded logo merchandise. I liked the women's cycling jersey but even the largest size was too small for my comfort. I could have gotten a men's jersey but I didn't like the colors. Just about anything you'd need for the race, except for a bike, was for sale. Maybe bikes were being sold too and I just don't remember them.

Since we had lots of time before our team meeting we walked over to check out our transition spaces. Claudia and I were an aisle apart from each other, close to the "bike out" spot. The transition area was quiet and peaceful, very different than it would be in only a few hours. We cracked up at a sign that described the water we'd be swimming in. Great, now I feel completely safe! Good thing a wetsuit can be used as a flotation device.

Our training schedule told us we should be doing a 10 minute bike ride and a 10 minute run. Although I had brought an extra set of clothes in case I wanted to do it, I decided that rest would serve me better. Since I had tested the water 3 weeks earlier I decided to also skip our scheduled test swim. I didn't need to be reminded of how cold, how salty, how kelpy the water was. Believe me, I was well aware of the conditions and didn't need to go in again. And I also didn't want to get my wetsuit all wet and sandy before the race.

Our team gathered, pulled on their wetsuits and listened to Coach Paul give some last minute tips. We watched from the sand and stayed dry, then decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Tri training: a retrospective

It all started almost a year ago. I was gathered with a group of friends celebrating Olivia’s birthday. We were drinking wine and eating. And drinking wine. Claudia sat herself down beside me and started talking about joining the tri team. I thought about it. She poured me more wine, talked about Pacific Grove Triathlon. More wine. Phil thought doing a tri was a great idea. More wine. Enough wine that I agreed to join the team and sign up for my first triathlon.

Time went on. I finished my last marathons of 2007, started planning my 2008 races. In January I was tired and worn out and one bright morning during a normal little 6 miler my knee went out. I ignored it, figuring the pain would go away with enough ice and advil. I continued running, my knee kept hurting. Worse and worse and then I could hardly walk. I finally went to see my doc who’d magically healed that same knee a few years earlier, hoping for that same old magic. The MRI showed quite a bit of inflammation and a tear in the meniscus. I began physical therapy.

Meanwhile, there was major upheaval in my family and work got complicated. I needed to get some exercise and since I couldn’t really run I started pre-training for the triathlon. Claudia and I began swimming at the local pool, following an old swim calendar from another tri season. I had my bike fixed up and started cycling with Bree . I continued to try to run while engaging in constant physical therapy.

Like I normally do, while under stress I ate and ate and gained about 10 pounds the first few months of the year. By the time the real tri training came around I was at my heaviest weight ever and feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities. Luckily my knee was starting to feel better and I managed to get in a couple of good training runs. Wanting to get at least one race under my belt before tri training, I went to visit my sis and ran the Country Music Half Marathon .

After swimming in the safe confines of the heated pool we hit the open water in mid-May. My confidence took a nose dive. I continued running, slowly and with some knee pain, and continued short bike rides and swimming regularly. I decided I needed to run one more race before tri training began so I registered for and ran the See Jane Run Half Marathon instead of going to kick-off.

Tri training started and I felt out of place and way out of my comfort zone. Despite the pre-training I felt fat and sluggish and unhealthy and old. Three of those were true. I was still determined to follow through on my commitment to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to complete my first triathlon.

At our second track workout I was doing mule kicks and felt something in my back twist in a way that a back shouldn’t twist. So as not to seem like an old fat weenie I continued and finished the workout. I managed to aggravate what would have probably been only a minor tweak. With large doses of advil and a bit of rest it improved enough that I ignored it to continue training.

Meanwhile I was having trouble coping. With just about everything. My training wasn’t going well and I was spending a lot of time crying. Very unlike my normal attitude and mood. I was internalizing and trying to swallow all my emotions and face the world like my normal self. It didn’t work too well.

In mid-June I completed the Tri for Fun, a sprint tri that taught me quite a bit about what I needed to do for the real tri. I didn’t count it as my first triathlon (even though it really was) because I wanted my first to be the real race I was training for.

That’s when the horrendous fires raged across the state, leaving a thick haze in the air. I couldn’t breathe, found training a chore but continued out of fear that I wouldn’t be prepared for the race. I substituted a couple of indoor workouts for the outside ones. The weather turned hot and stayed hot.

My world crumbled when I found out that three of my dear friends were moving away within the next few months. My little running group, which I hadn’t been able to be part of because of my knee injury and the tri training, was reduced by half. My depression increased. I stopped sleeping and my stomach constantly ached. I was actually losing weight instead of gaining it. I had difficulty focusing, cried constantly. Somehow I continued to go through the motions of training, continued the swimming and cycling and some running.

I finally had to go to the doctor, had to get help. I started taking antidepressants and an anti-ulcer medication. Things got much worse before they started to get better. There was improvement, then setbacks, then a major setback. My back got so bad that I couldn’t do the workouts. I managed to do my first swim race, the Aqua Challenge, but I couldn’t run afterward.

Back to the orthopedist and back to physical therapy. My depression was lifting, my stomach still unsettled. I continued to lose weight without trying and continued to get an average of about 4 hours sleep each night. Tri training progressed with me feeling a disconnect from the team, not feeling part of anything and deeply needing Claudia and Phil present to feel comfortable with group trainings. Training increased in length and intensity and I walked the runs so I’d at least have some time on my feet. I was exhausted and hungry.

The end of the season approached and I actually ran the long run. We had our test swim at Pacific Grove and my anxiety level went off the charts. Although my longest bike ride went well, I was sad and scared and knew I wasn’t ready for the race.

A few weeks ago I started my mental prep in earnest. I knew that if I went into the race feeling the way I did, I’d never finish. In fact, feeling that way I doubt that I would have made it out of the water. When I got into bed each night, knowing I’d never sleep anyway, I’d mentally practice the swim and transitions and finish. I pictured myself calmly diving in, confidently swimming behind and next to many other swimmers, getting kicked and splashed and hit. I smoothly swam though the kelp. I mentally practiced getting out of the water, running around the rock and diving back in. I saw myself swimming from buoy to buoy and to shore. I could feel the icy water on my face, feel my limbs trapped by the kelp, taste the salt. Through it all I saw myself completing a very successful swim in a calm, focused manner.

I also mentally rehearsed racing through transitions, hopping on the bike and strongly pedaling out and back and out and back and twice more. I saw myself racing up the hill and speeding the downhill. I saw myself confidently making the turns and speeding away. I thought about when I’d drink, when I’d eat. I practiced being relaxed and strong and smooth. I knew how well the second transition would go, imaged getting my legs under me to run. I saw myself running and then finally saw myself sprinting to the finish.

Before the race I had hoped that I’d be sleeping well and that my stomach would feel good enough to eat well. Neither of those happened. The lack of sleep gave me more time for my physical therapy exercises and the inability to eat resulted in a total weight loss of about 20 pounds. I didn’t mind that part at all and hoped being lighter would aid my race.

My plan for the race was simple: do whatever I could and do it as well as I could. I wasn’t asking any more of myself, didn’t think I could produce anything more. Knowing my training (or lack thereof), knowing my back was hurting, thinking my knee might give out, having no idea if I’d be able to fuel up and keep it down. My goals were:
  • Worst case scenario: finish before they close the course
  • I’d be happy with: 4:30
  • Best case possible: 4:15

Sometimes we surprise ourselves!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Triathlon clothing, bike supplies, bathing suits, pack, etc.: $1,200
Personally raised for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: $4,126
Having your best buds surprise you by showing up to cheer you on at your first triathlon: PRICELESS!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On your mark ...

Last night was our absodamnlutely final training. We met at the San Ramon High track, a lovely place to run (when I started TnT 7 years ago it was rutted dirt; now it's composite and springy and cushy). Our workout was an easy 10 minute warmup, leading directly into a level 3-4 20 minute run with 4 15 second level 8 runs spaced throughout, then a 5 minute cool-down walk. I intended to just jog around the track for 30 minutes or so and call it a day.

My body had other intentions. I ran the warmup while chatting with our swim coach. My back felt normal, my knee felt normal, my stomach didn't feel too bad. As we trotted along my breath was deep, but not gasping. I felt maybe I was pushing it a little, not too much. I looked at my watch after we'd gone around what I thought was 3 times and had to ask if it had been 3 or 2; it was much faster than I'd expected. Once more around and mile 1: 11:33. Whoa! A full minute faster than I'd expected, a full minute faster than I should have run.

For the main workout I slowed down considerably. I thought. I threw in a couple of level 8 sprints just because I was feeling so good. Gasp gasp gasp but after a half lap my breathing returned to normal. I felt a couple of little twinges in my back and ignored them. I finished another mile: 11:30. Whoopsie, so much for slowing down! I figured I get another half mile before the time was up and I should run it easier. Uh, not so much. Last half mile: 5:50. I was happy to walk the next lap for my cool down.

Afterward I felt great. Really, great. We had a team meeting about the weekend and my nerves started pinging along but I was determined to not let it get in the way of my good run afterglow. I got home and started to lay out my stuff in order: (1) things to put on in the hotel before the race; (2) transition area; (3) swim; (4) bike; (5) run. It takes up most of my dining room floor, and I don't even have my bike in there yet. I added a few more things to my list when I got up this morning. Final packing will be tonight.

Tomorrow morning I have my final pre-race physical therapy, then it's load the car and drive to Pacific Grove. After a 10 minute run and 10 minute bike ride (or not), a short swim (or not), pasta party and team meeting it'll be time for bed and then before I know it I'll be racing.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tick tick tick tick

I'm not nervous at all about the tri. I'm not nervous at all about the tri. I'm not nervous -- oh hell, yes I am! I go from being quite calm and easy and lah di dah to feeling the hot acid dripping through my stomach lining. I'll even go for, oh, a half hour at a time without thinking about it. Then I'll do something like read Phil's race report or look at one of the youtube videos of Pac Grove that Claudia has been sending me and I'll freak.

I well know from packing for all my marathon travels that it won't do me one bit of good to pack before Thursday night; I'll just unpack everything to confirm that I have it. But I've filled up my dining room table with "don't forget" items and made lists on paper and in my head.

One last swim tonight, one last run tomorrow, then it's off to the races. I wish I could take the next few days off work, stay home and obsess, but that isn't possible. I'd like to spend the next few days sleeping until 7 am but that's impossible too.

I know -- I'll just think happy thoughts. Rainbows. Roses. Teddy bears. Sleep. Candy! (lovelier thoughts Michael!) (who knows that reference?) Happiest thought: FINISH LINE!