Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rain day...I mean race day report

A course record but no personal record. I was hoping to make use of my race wheels and cut my bike to under 3 hours. The rain gods had a different answer and my results deviated from my hopeful expectation.

Race day forecast called for rain after noon which in my view would be a welcome addition to a blistering, unshaded run course. The day started very overcast with a bit of chop in the water but slightly less than last year. The women's field was split into two heats this year, basically the young then the old ladies....I am an old lady of course. An ocean swim is challenging and I was getting tossed a bit but I was better prepared this year and felt like I moved well through the water. I was as direct as possible on the course and really only strayed a bit twice...once when the field started heading for the wrong buoy and once on the return as I was fighting the surf which was pushing me toward shore. I was calm and comfortable and my arms were churning faster then they seem to in the pool. My only complaint on the swim...the constant sea grass that I kept eating. I was pleased to see that I cut 8 minutes from my swim time last year and although slow at 44 minutes I was smiling.

The run to the bike transition was in deep sand for about 200 meters then through a water park. I was nervous about the bike. I wanted to get on and off before it rained......fat chance. I was roughly 15 miles in with a completely black sky in front of me. I just wanted to outrun the inevitable storm...not a chance. It started raining but it wasn't horrible. I tried to stay away from the pools of water collecting in the roadway. Have you ever been driving your car and been stuck in a downpour where your windshield wipers on high did not aid in your visibility so you pulled over? Imagine doing that on a bike except not pulling over. I wish I were kidding. I did not know what to do, obviously with swirling winds and heavy rains I slowed down dramatically. There was a guy perhaps 25 meters ahead of me and I hoped that I would see him before I clipped his wheel if in fact I was gaining time on him. I could not see at all. Later, when the rain subsided, I looked into my bento box which was full of water. My clif shots and endurolytes were floating....yes, floating. I had to bail out my bento box to try to salvage my nutrition on the day.

It rained again while I was on the bike, slightly less heavily but for a sustained period of over an hour. Again visibility was poor and the road was collecting water like a pool. The entire ride, between the rain and swirling winds, proved all too tense. I gave up on a good bike time early and just focused on surviving and staying out of the way of the 3 to 4 pelotons of cheating drafters throughout the race. Chris Legh, a pro and someone I thought would win the race dropped out because of all the illegal drafting that was occurring. I am hopeful that this will draw attention to this continuing problem with the race.

On to the run, when I arrived in transition I was happy and hopeful. I had done a fair amount of speed work despite my hobbled foot and sciatic problem and I thought I could move up in my age group chasing the old gals down. Everything was soaked, my running shoes weighed at least 4 pounds more then normal. Surprisingly I had no legs in the run, nothing, nada, no gas. Disappointing to be sure. At that point part of me wanted to DNF. Honestly, I could have wrapped my mind around the concept but I had no legitimate reason to do so....instead I mustered on.

In the end, I beat my 6 hour 38 time from last year. I had a great swim at 44 minutes, a long bike at 3 hours 16 minutes, and a long run at 2 hours and 22 minutes for a total of 6 hours and 29 minutes. My personal best at this distance 6 hours 23 minutes. I know I am capable of a slightly over 6 hour completion of this course so I will return next year. I have competed here in 125 degree heat index and in extremely hard rain....what more can the Mayan gods throw at me. We will see next year.

As a postscript, when the results were originally posted they listed me as a DNF. While I knew I did not qualify for a slot to Nationals I was really upset that the slow race I put together with considerable effort was not recorded. I managed to get the race director to fix the results and accurately report my finish, unfortunately I was not alone in my incorrect DNF status...it happened to many folks. Hopefully they too corrected this error.

There is a sadness that my season is over. I made great improvements this year but I also know that I am capable of much more. I'll look for some competition in the coming months--perhaps a half-marathon or two and I may be tempted to compete as early as January or March. I am my only limitation.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Reporta de Cancun 70.3, Tengo una problema

Yesterday was registration day. I went up to the registration booths and my name was not listed......at all. A slight increase in heart rate. We raced to the business center and got online ***BTW keyboards are not international. Several pesos later I had a printout of my registration in hand and returned to the registration booths. I am listed as Towne Liz, probably pilot error on registration given my limited Spanish skills. All is good, I have my packet and am official albeit I was plotting how to participate without race numbers.

Today the weather is hurricane.esque **I repeat keyboards are not international. It is raining heavily, it is very windy and visibility is poor. I was going to swim the race course this morning but the roads are flooded and even if we were able to overcome the obstacle of traversing 6 miles through 1 to 2 feet of water and downed trees we were unsure the course would be open. The swim is a scratch on the day, next we will go to the mandatory meeting and then later dropoff the bikes. The logistics on the dropoff remain the same--flooded roads, tiny bike tires, misery.

I am hopeful that the forecast holds for tomorrow but doubts linger. It will rain all day today with fairly stiff winds and a rough sea. Tomorrow it will be cloudy at race start, partly cloudy by 9 am, then raining by noon. It will be critical to be off the bike before it rains given the fact that their is little to no runoff for rainwater that collects on the road. As for temperature, there will be no repeat of last year's 125 degree heat index. At the warmest the air is supposed to feel like 78 degrees.

A little nervous about the swim, could be rough seas but there is a great potential for a PR and that is what I am hoping for.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today's Workout: Pain is relative

Up at 5:30 AM today for a quick 30 minute run. Abs first then out the door in the perfect morning air. The plan called for work in zones 4 and 2 today, nice speed that gave me hope for getting back into the 7 minute mile world. The foot is still bothersome, disappointingly so but at this stage you just have to bear down and push through it. The sciatic continues to be an annoyance as well both in running and sitting--not that I do either of these much.

Tomorrow is my travel day (speaking of sitting) . The bike was disassembled without incident and is now packed. I'll worry about it arriving in Cancun and then spend energy worrying whether I can put it back together in a way that makes everything work in harmony. Worry should be part of triathlon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Today's Workout: Swimming in an Artesian Bath

Up at 4:30 AM today after a late evening last night due to work travel. Abs then off to the pool.

Short swim workout today and thankfully slow. I'm certain the pool temperature was above 85. It's exhausting to swim in hot water, I wish the Y would conserve on energy a bit and notch the pool heater down several ticks--it's like swimming in a hot tub. Low mileage today, a mere 1,750 meters--easy as pie.

Tomorrow, a short 30 minute run. Did I mention I hate to taper? I hope to break down my bike tonight and get it packed up but then again, I've said that before.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Today"s Workout: Oh no

The best laid plans.......sigh. The bike is still not packed but I think I have mainly gathered my gear and potions. I was lending a hand to my nephew and his family yesterday which reminded me a lot of my Dad. Anyhow, before I knew it the day was over and my bike was still sitting there whole. I'm traveling today so the earliest I will get to it may be tomorrow evening--a little closer to departure then I like. While it usually--emphasis added--only takes a half hour to breakdown my bike I like to be very slow and methodical in this process. You don't want to get on the other end of your trip and realize that you have no pedals.

I'm also getting a cold. I thought I had fought it off with Zicam but the signs they are a plenty. Last time I went to NYC for work with this same colleague I was very sick--it seems the fate is destined to repeat itself although my symptoms thus far are not as awful as the last trip. Lots of Zicam, lots of Emergen-C today in the hopes that this will not interfere with my race on Sunday.
A day of rest today followed by a swim tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's Workout: Run like the wind

If ever there was a more perfect running day I cannot recall it. A beautiful sunny 62 degree morning. My feet were light and knees high (despite my excruciating plantar fascitis). I caught my reflection in the local Cadillac dealership window, excellent form, fast legs.

I ran in my old neighborhood today, something I occasionally like to do on Sunday's. There are a lot of restaurants and shops so there tends to be a lot of folks out and about. A guy who was jogging came out from my old street about 50 yards in front of me. I caught him fairly quickly and for the next mile I could hear him trying to retake me. It was fun. Perhaps I pushed him and he pushed me--I made him work and as for my workout it was great.

Today I must organize my gear and pack up my bike. I'll try not to use any knives (who could forget my season opening pack job when I stabbed myself). Packing is a methodical process--making sure I have everything I need, that I'm not carrying on liquids and that I have emptied my bags entirely of all CO2 cartridges. Last year the support bike shop had about 20 cartridges of CO2 for all of the competitors--kind of made it a bit nerve wracking on the bike.

Tomorrow, an off day and a travel day for work.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Today's Workout: No one likes the taper

The plan called for a 75 minute bike ride and a 20 minute run. I tried to stick to it but ended up riding for 110 minutes or so. I hate to taper. Well, let me rephrase that--I loved tapering off the Ironman training, the half-Ironman training is not quite so demanding so I feel like I don't need to taper.

It is exceedingly windy today and I have my race wheels on. I cannot imagine riding disk wheels, my zipps were catching the wind like crazy. I finally figured out that increased speed meant the wheels caught less wind but that's kind of frightening--go faster and still chance a spill vs go slow and increase your chances of spilling. Anyhow, if there is a wind in Cancun I will be ready but I won't necessarily welcome it.

My foot is still bugging me on the run. I'll just hope for the best. The time for miracles and the healing powers of western and eastern medicine are behind us.

Tomorrow, an hour run......yep, the taper continues. Off to my pre-race deep tissue massage.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Today's Workout: A day of rest redux

Up at 5:45 AM today and believe me that felt early. No scheduled workout today so I took care of the animal kingdom and rode into work. Not quite as beautiful as yesterday--a little warmer, a little cloudier but still, very nice. If only people knew how to drive that would make my commute completely pleasant and relaxing.

Tomorrow, no trifecta. I was a bit sad to see that. On tap, a 75 minute bike and a 20 minute run. I may ad lib, of course, that will hardly make me break a sweat. Also on tap, some bike tweaking at the shop, a little pre-race massage, and the gathering of my lucky socks and magical potions.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Today's Workout: A little swim

Up at 4:30 AM today, what a beautiful September morning. Abs the off to the pool.

A very short workout of only 1800 meters today. If all of my swim workouts were this short I would complain less--yeah, right. A little bit of speed workout today with plenty of rest. Everything felt good. If the Caribbean Ocean is as calm I'll have a great swim in Cancun. Last year the water was calm on the practice swim day and it was rather choppy on race day--so choppy that my greatest fear was seasickness.

Tomorrow, another day off. If the weather remains as beautiful as today I think I will ride to work--I love the two wheeled commute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today's Workout: Quality

Up at 5 AM, a girl can get used to that. Abs then on the bike for 40 minutes of mostly zone 3 work with a cadence of 80-90. Then out the door for a 30 minute run. Sure, my foot hurt some but I was moving today in the cool air. What perfect running weather. My run included 4 x 2 minutes zone 4 followed by 3 minutes zone 2. Zone 2 is a joke, I can't get there but I loved the zone 4 effort. My legs were turning, my heart rate was soaring, it was a high quality run.

I had another ART treatment yesterday focusing on a ligament that connects the femur to the sacrum and my foot. We are leaving the sciatic alone for now. While my foot still bothers my, the sciatic pain was not there today. Slow, steady progress.

Tomorrow, back in the pool with the Masters.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today's Workout: Back in the slow lane

Up at 4:30 AM today, Abs then off to the pool.

A short workout in a taper week, only 45 minutes on tap. Short and easy are not always synonymous. The toughest set today was a 4 x 200--sets 1-2 were 100 fast, 100 easy, sets 3-4 were 50 fast, 50 easy. I hate fast because...well, I'm not fast. When I see fast on my plan I know I'm going to be sucking air and it is going to hurt.

I jumped on the scale while I was at the gym today. I'm 3-5 pounds heavier than I like to compete at. We all have a comfort weight, I have a comfort competing weight but given the amount of food I have been eating since the Ironman no surprise that I'm tipping a little above. Oh well, maybe I will be more buoyant in the water.

Tomorrow, a little bike and run.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Today's Workout: Tinkering

A day of rest. Idle body, tinkering hands. I tinkered with my bike setup...again. A small tinker. My new aero bar pads were plastic and flexed with the weight of my body. I switched them out with my old ones which are some kind of metal--much firmer, they wrap around my arms a bit more--I'm looking to find the right aero position that gives me comfort and confidence hopefully translating into speed.

Tomorrow, back to my regular pool....finally.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Today's Workout: A Run

A 60 minute run today. Although it would probably be best for my Cancun preparations if it were extremely hot out I am enjoying the fall-like weather.

I'm still frustrated by my foot. The first five minutes of my run my sciatic bothers me in the buttocks, hamstring, calf and heel. The plantar fascitis is still there but not screaming as loudly. I am not at full speed and that is frustrating particularly given that it is my race strength. The ART has helped but the immediate magical cure I desire has not materialized.

Tomorrow, a day of rest.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Today's Workout: Trifecta Saturday

Up at 5:45 AM today and out the door for a 90 minute ride. I chose a hilly but quiet course that also has a fair amount of flats. The race wheels were definitely moving. I'm glad I have them on. They are a bit narrower than my other wheels so the balance is slightly different plus I keep them inflated higher than my other wheels so they react more abruptly to debris.

After the bike I ran for a hilly 30 minutes. That is a tough run. The first 5 minutes were quite painful for my foot and sciatic nerve but eventually things settled down. A pretty solid run but nothing close to my cruising speed.

Back to the local high school for my swim. Not sure what was worse, swimming in a strange pool or completing a set of 1,500 meters. That distance in a pool is utterly boring, give me some open water and I could be out there all day.

Tomorrow, my long run of the week but its only 60 minutes. To me that is rather brief and sure beats last week's long run of two hours.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Today's Workout: A second day of rest

I received a revised plan from my coach that had today as a rest day. I thought about riding to work but evening plans put a crimp on that. Nonetheless, Della and I did take a brisk walk around the neighborhood today which made for one heck of a tail wag.

Tomorrow, trifecta Saturday. I put the race wheels back on in preparation for race day. Trying to get a few miles on them to ensure my confidence in Cancun.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Today's Workout: Stranger in a pool

Up at 4:08 AM today, not planned but it couldn't be helped. Abs then off to Wakefield HS for a swim. Both of my normal pools are closed this week so I pretended that I was traveling for work and using a local pool.

The pool is likely older than I am. If you can get over all of the rust and the dimly lit room (maybe that's not a bad thing) it is suitable for my swim workouts this week. I was joined by the High School swim team--I noted that their legs whipped like the Thorpedo, impressive to view from underwater. 2,550 meters on the day--no Thorpedo or Janet Evans action in my lane. I was barely beating some of the seniors up and back.

Tomorrow, still guessing as my plan is missing a week. Probably an hour on the bike.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Today's Workout: Who am I to complain

Up at 4:30 AM today. I was a little pressed for time but things all seemed to work out.

Abs then on the bike for an hour. I repeated last Tuesday's workout of a long time trial working on gradually increasing cadence. I was a little low on energy but I managed to work zones 2-4 with effort. Out on my run for 40 minutes with 6 x 1 minute zone 4 efforts. It was a struggle to beat back the voice inside my head that yearned for an easy day.

Yesterday I learned that a woman I worked with over 12 years ago at the start of my legal career died of breast cancer. She is the third woman that I have known to succumb to this dastardly disease this year. Anne was 50, a devoted mother and wife who shared in my politics and took the time to mentor a young, punk attorney like myself (and mercifully lure me away from any desire to work at a law firm). As I suffered today on the bike and run I thought of Anne and what she would have given to be able to be on a bike or out running even though she was not an exercise nut like myself. She did live life well, especially after her first hard fought battle with the disease some years ago. Anne will serve as my motivation as this season comes to a close. When I feel like complaining I will just tell my mind to shutup and think of Anne.

Tomorrow, a swim at yet another new pool.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Today's Workout: Rest

I had my ART appointment this AM. Kevin videotaped me running to see if he could pinpoint some mechanical issue that is causing my myriad leg issues. Apparently, other than over-pronation, my form is nearly perfect. Is it cocky to say I'm not surprised--still it was kind of cool analyzing my run.

I noticed a small problem with my plan today. My coach thought my race was next week so this week's plan started a taper. I'm going to go with last week's workout to make sure I get my proper preparation in. Therefore, a bike and run are up for tomorrow.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Today's Workout: Closing out another pool

Up at nearly 6:30 AM today, a small benefit of the sun rising later. Off to the city pool for a swim. It was not too busy when we arrived but later during my workout the lanes started filing up.

Not a long workout today but three sets of 600 made certain I felt a bit of a burn. Overall, 2,200 meters on the day. Glad to get it done and out of the way early.

Tomorrow, is my day off but I have an ART appointment and will get videotaped running. My calf/knee issue is not as bad today. I feel it but you cannot notice it when I walk--unlike yesterday when I had the gate of an arthritic octogenarian.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today's Workout: Torture, torture

Out at 8 AM today for my run. What a beautiful day, no humidity, nice temperatures, kind of quiet.

My run was two hours today and it felt more like four. Mentally I tortured myself because I didn't really want to be out there. My right leg felt like I was just heaving it forward with the rest of my body for the first 15 minutes. I could not get full extension due to my sciatic problem and my foot hurt. Eventually things improved but then my calf/knee started hurting. I tried to pretend that my gu had some analgesic compound to help with the pain that was compounded by my mental attitude. I finished the run and although I think I eventually was moving well I was miserable which is shameful on such a beautiful running day. Subsequent to my run the sciatic nerve is unhappy, thus I am unhappy. If I had a pool of ice I would be in it even though it would only serve to dull my discomfort.

Tomorrow, I will do my Tuesday swim so I can sleep in on Tuesday.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Today's Workout: Soy Miserable

Up at 4:30 AM, yes, I know it is Saturday. I decided to try to get a quality bike workout in. A friend clued me into the Bay to County bike ride of varying distances but the one that piqued my curiosity was the metric century otherwise known as 62 miles. I almost....almost put my race wheels on but I am so grateful I did not (more on that later).

I get there, someplace in Calvert County MD, and there is no real organized ride. You come in, pay, pickup a cue sheet and head out with your friends. Oh wait, I came alone.....thus I rode alone until about 20 miles from the finish when I passed a bunch of guys and raised their competetive spirit (that was fun). The course was hilly, great training for Lake Placid but wait...I don't need hills right now. Then there was the wind--thus the reference to my race wheels. It was incredibly windy, a few near blow overs. No doubt that would have increased with my race wheels as they act like a kite in a crosswind.

Bottom line it was a good, long ride but between looking at the cue sheet (turns were about every 3 miles, I can't read without my glasses, and I didn't discover that they had arrows in the road until mile 30) and battling the wind it was not the 62 miles in aero that I was hoping for. Moreover, I thought I started getting a cramp in my right calf but I ran fine after. I hope the pain I am experiencing is part of my sciatic problem and not something new. Sure, my body deservedly might want to talk back to me after the long year but not three weeks before my final race. I'm hoping the six recoverease capsules I just took fixes my calf--I consider them to be magical in their powers.

So other than the bike I did a 24 minute run, a bit shy of the scheduled 30 minutes but I got tired of the returning bikers glaring at me freakishly. I headed for home and grabbed my favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then I decided to take a 10 minute power nap, 30 minutes later I awoke from my nap. I headed to the city pool and instead of doing my planned 6 minute swim I did Tuesday's 45 minute swim. Cheating...a little, but I am miserably tired. I have no idea how I endured Ironman training....really, I kid you not.

Tomorrow, a two hour run. I hope whatever is wrong with my knee/calf disappears between now and then.