Saturday, September 30, 2006

Off-Season To Do List

  • Plan 2007 Race Season: includes researching times, places and training plan
  • Decide whether or not to hire a coach (leaning towards yes)
  • Decide whether or not to buy a tri bike ($$$)
  • Find a biking partner who can push me; ideally they'll live within 30 miles
  • Give up soda (I've been drinking a ridiculous amount - 3 cans of Diet Pepsi a day!)
  • Research triathlete nutrition even more thoroughly and plan healthier meals/find healthier recipes.
  • Finesse my blog - add pictures (I meant to add IMWI ones but honestly, that fat lip is UGLY plus I have hips and thighs! Someday I promise I will get over this 7th grade girl mentality.) Add other bloggers' links, PR list, maybe build a personal template. (Help!)
  • Training for now = focus, Focus, FOCUS on swim stroke and weight training.
  • In the next month or so, formulate a more specific off-season training plan that will build my base for next season.
  • Write thank you notes for IM. Guilty wince. Especially when I picture TriSaraTops with her sore wrists -- and she was doing these how many weeks ago??
Note: I still haven't been able to run. My ankle swelled up the day after Ironman and is still achey. I want to run but am also not in a rush. I know that this is the perfect part of the year to give my body a full recovery. So I will.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Go Jump in a Lake

I did just that last night. And the water was... not exactly warm, but then, I did not expect it to be. Yet it was exhilarating. I was so proud of myself for just getting out there. You know you're "crazy" when a complete stranger pulls off the highway to ask what you're up to. You have to admit - the whole "crazy triathlete" thing does have its appeal. And that was just in the parking lot when I was putting on my wetsuit, swim socks and skull cap. Cute.

Then I dove into the water. I'm guessing that the temp was around 62 degrees. My face and hands recoiled a bit, but the rest of my body stayed toasty warm. Wetsuits are amazing. I'm so glad I went with a full suit; I knew that I'd be wanting to maximize my time in the lakes.

I have a long history of this; I remember swimming in May one year. I was a kid and those were my pre-wetsuit days. It has long been a point of pride in my family about who takes the first swim in my family's "lake" - really a glorified pond. And remember, the setting is Wisconsin: home of the icicle. Now, with my wetsuit... look out siblings. We're re-writing the records book.

Last night there was a fine chop going on. Kind of reminded me of... oh where was that??... Oh yeah, Lake Monona on September 10th. EXCEPT I was alone so I had that water all to myself to swallow. Which I did. I also was alone to soak up the autumn sun - truly a precious commodity.

I settled into that swimming rhythm, thoughts of school alternating with thoughts of my technique and Ironman memories, Chris's birthday coming up... and lasted a very comfortable 45 minutes. As I exited the water, a couple on the beach stopped necking long enough to stare at me, then give a little wave in response to mine. Isn't joy that way? You just can't keep it bottled up inside. It leaks out of me all the time!

Now you have some of it too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mirror, Mirror

Healthy Numbers: Heart rate, workout times & distances, workout rate numbers, e.g. MPH, minutes per mile

Evil Numbers: Weight, pants/swimsuit... clothing sizes - shoe size OK with me (not OK with my mother-in-law though.)

Healthy mind games: Umm. I don't know - Name that Tune??

Unhealthy mind games: The "Perfect" Game - requires only one player, one mirror, and one twisted mind.

Someday I am going to give myself permission to have hips and breasts - and maybe even thighs if I'm feeling really generous. Until then, my ground rules are: 1) stick to the healthy numbers and, 2) watch only my form when lifting weights in front of the mirror.

Today's HEALTHY numbers
21 minutes on Elliptical - Av HR 139
21 minutes lifting weights - core & upper body

Hey Tri-Men, do you have body image issues??
I know other Tri-Women have 'fessed up. (What's with us??)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Here's to New Beginnnings

I sit here with my first glass of wine in I-don't-know-how-many-months and raise it to so many possible beginnings...

Sweet Sister offered to climb a mountain with me.
Strong Sister wants to get me to Boston.
Husband thinks I should take up fishing. And baking cookies.

What do I want?

Last night as I was biking and lifting weights for the first time (nirvana!), I was sure that I would do whatever it took to get to an IM in 2007. But today, after a long trail ride with Puppy Piper and his friend, Bailey, I think hey... wouldn't a PR at a half-ironman be just peachy? Also, wouldn't it be nice to have that shorter distance training schedule, allowing Piper & Bailey to come with me at least some of the time?

I will be a part of the IM Wisconsin '07 though. I will volunteer on both Saturday and Sunday and be there for those athletes (lucky dawgs!) just as this year's volunteers and spectators were there for us. To those of you doing it, I'll be the volunteer toting all the extra pairs of long johns. :)

On September 10th, then, I'll be first in line. Look out '08; here I come.

Sometimes I think I'm more than the sum of my compulsions. This Iron Inside can be put to more use than seeing me through rainy races; it can see me through this - no THAT - postrace depression.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Crash, Bonk, Bang - Damn

I did not crash on the bike. I did not bonk on the run. But I'm doing so now. Discontinue reading now if you want to avoid a whole lot of self-pity cuz here it comes...

What do I do now??? I look at myself and see a junkie. I function fine all day at school but then I come home and in the hours that I used to train, I now surf other people's tri blogs. It's bad. I make lists that never get done. The first few nights I thought, hey, OK, I'll kick back a little bit. But it's Friday night now! I need to get on with my life. I am so sad that I didn't sign up for IM Wisconsin in 2007. I had promised myself, my husband, my job that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime distance for me and now that it's done... I'm bereft.

I really need to think this through. I can't just do a knee-jerk, run out and sign up for another IM. I entertain thoughts of somehow scraping up the cash for a community fund slot - on a teacher's salary! (Sometimes I do have a fair sense of humor.) I know that's not possible, but I do need to really evaluate; could I do another one, at another location? What are the hurdles?

  • Promise to husband: Taken care of. He's given his blessing on another one. He saw me at mile 23 on Sunday.
  • Promise to job: Last year, I had to say "no" to so many things because my training schedule just wouldn't allow me to participate in the afterschool activities that presented themselves. BUT, now that this year is underway, I see that I've been provided with the perfect opportunity to continue training at the level I did last year. I have some "extra" time for administrative tasks that I used to do last year on my own time. Implication? I can get my schoolwork done or nearly done during school hours, have time to do some of the extra-curricular stuff, and train.
  • Promise to self. Ooh, that's where the rubber hits the road. In Promise to Self, I have categories...
1) Can I do another IM? Would my knees tolerate it? I've been medication-free now since Sunday and my knees feel great. I really haven't done anything to test them - and I won't for awhile because my ankle is swollen - but still, it's a good sign that they're OK now.

2) Will I resent myself for inflicting another round of such LONG training sessions on myself? That one is so hard to call. There were times when I absolutely loved my training and times when I didn't. Now, of course, in retrospect, it all looks like it was rosy fun. Yet, I know of at least one occasion when I told my husband that it would be great to just go out and make up a workout as I went, not have it written in stone 3 months in advance and compulsory.

3) Then, I wonder, will it mean enough to me? I really wanted this Ironman. Will #2 be as special? Will I give it my all? I refuse to sign up and then end up losing heart and doing a half-ass job of it. It's all or nothing. Do I have the grit/the drive/the desire to do this again? How can I ever know that? That today's desire will last me through 5 months of training with a big ol' race at the end?

4) The Guilt. Training for IM took a serious amount of time. I had to sacrifice on family time and, really, mental energy. I know I was less present, less patient than I wished to be at times. Now, some of that is just plain old character flaw, but some of it was a direct result of being tired. Yet, on the flip side, at other times, I was nicer to be around because I was generally happy. Hmmm... another one that's pretty difficult to quantify.

5) I know that I told myself that once IM was done, I would branch out -pick up my guitar again, read more, be more involved with my nephews and afterschool programs. If I give this empty ache some time and restrain my urge to sign up, will those interests seep into the cracks? ("NO!!!" the Iron Inside is yelling. "They could never replace me!")

The gauntlet has been dropped.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ironman Wisconsin 2006 Race Report

I want to begin by saying - it was so worth it. All of the training, all of the family and work sacrifices, the aches and pains... all dribbled to nothing at about mile 20 of that marathon on September 10th, 2006. That's when I knew that I was going to make it, that I was going to be an Ironman before the end of the night, and that life is not just good; it rocks. Now on to my race report....

The Swim: A Contact Sport
Largest swim start in IM history and I believe it. Anyone out there that day felt it. I've been doing triathlons for 8 years and this was by far the most brutal swim. It wasn't even a swim race so much as a quest for survival. Now with that out of the way... I did survive it and even managed to do a bit of drafting. I have no idea how my sighting was because the waves made it hard to consistently see the buoys. Early on in the swim, I got behind a breast stroker whose very powerful kick caught me in the upper lip. I felt and heard my brain thud against my cranium and panicked, thinking, "Oh no! I can't continue if I have a concussion." Fortunately, within 30 seconds or so, I was able to evaluate that I was probably still in the race, but with a fat lip. (My husband later told me that he thought I had edema from over-exertion when he saw me.) At that point, I re-resolved to stay calm and as smooth as possible, no matter how many people crawled over me, side-swiped me, or that I inadvertently did the same too.

At one point I almost laughed because the guy next to me and I were doing synchronized swimming with our arms following each other's through the stroke. I'd say that I crawled about 90% of the time, breast-stroked or treaded water about 5% (logjams) and side-stroked the other 5% (pinched between other swimmers). When I think back on it, I am just amazed at how many of us made it out of that water at all.

T1: A Learning Experience
Out of the water to the peelers. I saw a guy just standing there and asked, "Are you a peeler?" He jumped and said yes, grabbed my wetsuit and yanked it down almost violently. Being an IM newbie, I was just standing there when he yelled, "On your butt!" Confused for a split second, I looked around at the competitors around me and thought, "Oh, he wants me to sit down and stick my legs in the air so he can pull my suit off." I had thought I would just step out of it. So I complied and had my wetsuit in my arms within split-seconds.

Up the helix I ran. It was exhilarating. The spectators were yelling, the other athletes were running, my heart rate zoomed up to 161, and I felt my face beaming. I tried to slow myself down a little bit, but man, it felt good to be doing this race finally!

Into the ballroom I went and grabbed my gearbag and then proceeded to the changing room. All of the volunteers were busy so I pulled on my clothes by myself and just asked a nearby volunteer if she'd repack my bag for me. On to the bike!

The Bike: Heat Comes from Within
I ran out to the bike racks and quickly spotted my very tall brother-in-law and Strong Sister. I waved madly and they spotted me, grabbed my bike, and thrust it into my hands. "You're beautiful!" screamed the Strong One. I pulled her to me and gave her a huge, wet, Lake Monona kiss right on the cheek and ran toward the mounting area. Sweet Sister and her husband were outside the bike area and screamed at me too. I waved and shouted "I love you guys!" Then I was at the mounting area. A volunteer held my bike while I flipped off my sandals and fumbled with my velcro bike shoe straps. "Ah, my hands are shaking," I said. She said, "Take time to breathe. Your heat comes from within. You'll warm up." Those words were to stick with me (as well as my sister telling me that I'm beautiful, of course.)

The ride out to the double loop was mostly about getting myself into a zone. My mesh bottle top plopped out about a mile into the bike and I had to turn around and get it. (I cursed that blasted thing and wondered how many times I would have to retrieve it that day!) I got out to the loop and there began the shivers. The whole first loop was, in a word, cold. Sometimes the rain misted onto us, and at other times, it showed less mercy and pelted us. For the record, I hadn't believed the weather report and optimistically had stuck to my planned apparel of a short-sleeved shirt and no gloves for the bike ride. Ouch. Or rather, brrrrr. One rider came up on me and said, "Look at those goosebumps." Ha, I wanted to say, don't you know that your heat comes from within??

Then I debated the logic of that comment for a long time, and convinced myself that if I just kept taking in calories I really would be getting warmer. I think I was kind of picturing a polar bear building up a layer of fat. With that thought, I plowed into my pretzels (absolute manna!), Clif bars and Chocolate Outrage GU. I stuck to my nutrition plan of:

On the 15s: GU and water
On the 30s: Gatorade and Endurolyte
On the 45s: A solid (Pretzels or 1/2 Clif bar) and water for the first 4 hours and then substituted GU for the solid after that.
On the 00s (top of the hour): Gatorade

UNTIL, my Endurolytes started falling apart. I had taped them to my frame and they just couldn't take the rain. I ended up taking about 4 of them when I had planned on taking 8.

Eating was a challenge because numb hands don't work as well as warm ones do! Instead of being able to follow my little GU ritual...

Detour for GU ritual: To eat a GU, I squeeze it into my mouth little-by-little by folding it from bottom to top like you do a toothpaste tube. When it's gone, I unroll it and then re-roll it from the top so the sticky opening ends up rolled up inside the clean part. Then I tuck that neat little package into the rubber band that holds my aerobar bottle in place. Takes some practice, but then you don't end up with (as much) GU all over your hands, bike, clothing, etc.

Back to the main story: Instead of being able to follow my GU ritual, I found that my hands would not obey my "Open GU" command so I had to rip the package open with my teeth. Then my hands wouldn't do the fine motor skills folding, but they would do the caveman clutch... Me squeeze whole packet in fist. I also had a hard time shifting and found myself batting at my shift levers at one point. Eventually, I succeeded in both endeavors. Phwew.

I saw my husband and puppy twice out on the course: right before the Garfoot Road Hill, and then at a corner somewhere. Both times I yelled to him that I was feeling great and smiled so hard I thought my face would split.

And I peed on my bike. Yes, I tried something new on race day. It was so easy that day. I was already drenched and knew that any fluid I produced would be outnumbered 10 times over by the fluid being dumped on me. And, I hate to say it, but it was almost fun. I think I'm a closet incontinent-er. After the first few tenuous times, I let myself go. Every little bump and bluuurp, there went another squirt. I could say more about warmth coming from within, but I won't.

The second loop of the bike was a little bit warmer. At about mile 62, a fellow rider had a flat and hollered out for a spare. I dismounted for the third time (1 was the mesh bottle top, 2 was to check what had felt like a flat earlier but wasn't) and gave him my spare tube. As I rode away - farther from special needs and my only other spare, I wondered about the wisdom of that generosity.

The notorious hills were as good on the second loop as the first. Yep, good. The crowds were amazing. I was seriously looking forward to doing those hills again just because the spectators were so encouraging, inspiring, and into it. They were with us. Some of my favorite comments were:
"I see the determination in your face; you know you're an Ironwoman!"
"Way to stay aero!"
"You signed up for Ironman, you must love this!"
"This is what you trained for!"
"Keep up that smile!" (I didn't have the heart to tell them it was a grimace.)
Even now, my stomach does flip-flops as I remember people leaning into us from both sides, dragging us up those hills.


When I reached mile 80, I reminded myself that this was a race and I should go fast. My heart rate had been lower than I had planned. However, I was feeling good nutritionally, and my only concern was a bit of tightness in my quads. But I was cold or something. I just couldn't make myself consistently go faster. I'd go faster for little bursts, but then my quads would freeze up and I'd back off again. Finally, at mile 90, I felt warmed up and told myself to take it home. I passed quite a few people at that point - quite a few of them men - and thought of Papa Louie's demotivator.

At mile 100, I began to visualize my transition to the run AND to anticipate warm, dry clothing. I reached the top of the helix and who should be there to take my bike but my brother! My dad was there to take the next person's bike but grabbed me for a quick hug and "I love you." (My family rocks.) I wouldn't have said that I was out of it or anything, but I remember just standing there, with my brother holding my bike, and me saying, "So, am I off of it now?" He fired transition directions at me and I finally thawed enough to run into the T2 zone and grab my bag.

T2: Fluff
This time, there was a volunteer available and she lead me into the changing room. I ripped off my soaking wet shorts, top, helmet and race belt while she arranged my sw-eeeet dry stuff. In no time I had on dry shorts, socks, and shoes. I kissed myself for having put a long-sleeved shirt into that bag and put it on under my short-sleeved running top. The dry socks were the winner though. Warm, fluffy, dry...mmmm. I wished I could change my heart rate monitor bra and my bandanna, but had packed no extras. Dumb. Lesson learned: always pack extras.

I thanked my volunteer and saw myself out the door. (One advantage to having volunteered there last year.)

I felt my bladder aching for release and considered pulling a double-header, but thought better of it and hit the porta-potties right outside of T2. My family was yelling for me; I could hear my name amidst the din, but couldn't really distinguish voices. The spectators at this point were again outstanding.

The Run: When a Marathon Isn't Long Enough
I head down State Street for loop 1 and another woman pulled in next to me and began to chat. I talked for a little bit, but then just couldn't anymore. I felt bad but realized that my mental energy was at a low point. I just focused on running, checking my heart rate every few minutes. It hovered right around 135, which I was happy with at that point. The next thing I remember is seeing my sister-in-law and she validated my thinking, telling me to keep it slow and steady, I'd worked hard for this. Then, a while later, I saw my husband and our puppy. He asked me if this was my first or second loop and I honestly, replied, "I have no idea." I started paying attention to mile markers after that and soon saw that I was at mile 8. I saw my sis-in-law and her family as well as my mother-in-law shortly after that and told them where I was mile-wise and asked them to tell Chris.

Somewhere along the way, a volunteer shouted that every step was one step closer to the end. In my blurry yet running-centered mind, I kept thinking of this, and forward I did move. Strong Sister & her 3 kids, my MOM, Sweet Sister & husband were volunteering at the aid station near the turn around. Happiness.

After I saw them, it was another game of every step is a step closer, and think how much closer I am than I was the last time I thought of that. I also (sort of) stuck to my nutrition plan for the run which was:
Each quarter of the marathon: 20 oz Gatorade, 8 oz water, GU, Endurolyte.

This "quarter" idea made it easier for me because I knew that I just had to empty my palm-holder, take 1 Gu, and 1 Endurolyte by each turn-around. I didn't even really watch my time. Only flaw: the Endurolytes were undone by the rain. I had taped 1 to each gel packet and salvaged what I could by pouring bits of them into my bottle, but to this moment, can't tell you how many of the 6 I managed to consume.

Shortly before mile 12, I saw TriAl v 2006 in the oncoming runners, but his number was hanging off sideways and I only realized it was him for sure when he was too far past me to shout. He looked strong and I daresay, the legs are as good in person as in photos. ;)

At mile 12, I got a bloody nose and stopped to sit on a curb, head between my knees, and made myself count to 30 before getting up to trudge again. I stopped numerous times (5 or so) to go to the bathroom and although I thought I was going to have diarrhea, I never did.

Mile 13 presented a tough decision. You run right up to within sight of the finish line and there are two signs. One says "To finish" while the other says "To 2nd Loop." I surprised myself though by thinking, "I'm not quite ready to be done with this thing yet. I want to do the 2nd loop." Then I fell in with another runner who was revving up the crowd - it was awesome to be next to somebody with spare energy and I told him so. We carried on a conversation for a long time and I realized that I was starting to feel better rather than worse! I dropped him when he stopped to walk through an aid station. I stuck to my resolution to run the whole marathon - even that awful hill through the university where only 3 people around me walked the first loop, and all but 3 walked the second time.

My thoughts of my family being at the turn-around kept me going. I wanted to see those guys so bad, but their shift had ended and they were gone. I consoled myself with thoughts of seeing them in a little bit, and clutched my water bottle tighter in my palm. By this time, Gatorade was a thing of the past for me, as was GU. Yep, I left 2 of my 6 packets high and dry on my fuel belt. I had had to force the 16th one...

Self-talk: You're making a deposit, you only feel good so far because you've re-fueled. You're going to want to make more withdrawals at miles 16-26. Keep eating.

However, I did make a deal with myself after that sixteenth GU; no more GUs provided I stopped for chicken broth or cola at the aid stations. Consider it done.

Finally, I reached mile 20 and I started to think, hey, I'm going to do this. I am going to finish this race and I'm not going to bonk or die. By midnight, I will be an Ironman. My pace may have even picked up.

I finally saw my husband again at mile 23 and by this time, euphoria was setting in. I told him I loved him and this was fun and I might have more of these in my future and that it was so good to see him and the others out on the course. I hadn't said that many words total all day! He cut across a parking lot to listen to the end of my discourse and then told me where to see his mom (mile 24) and that he'd see me at the end.

Those last miles were long, yet not long enough. I wish I could relive them, but you only get one chance. I wish I would have soaked up more but I was anticipating the crowds and then the finish line. Soon, they were there. My family picked me up at about 1/4 mile out and Strong Sister came out to check on me and said some more really embarrassing stuff. It must have also been motivating because I began to sprint it in.

Right before I rounded the corner to the finish, I heard my brother yell, "Laney, you rock! Laney, you rock!" The crowd picked up my name and started yelling it too. I poured on everything I had left and it felt beautiful. I slowed to let the man in front of me finish and then I had my moment - or rather capped all of the other moments of the racing, training, and planning of this last year - with this final moment of elation.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To Thine Own Blog be True

OK, I admit it. I'm starting to get a little freaky. Today was roller-coasterish. I announced to our whole staff that I was doing IM so everyone who didn't know about it earlier knew about it today and IM was suddenly inside my school bubble in a big way!

So on this wild ride, I felt proud to be doing it, but nervous because my quads were still sore from Sunday's long run and then that made me -- dare I say it?? (To thine own blog be true, Triteacher!) It made me dread Sunday. I haven't felt that way yet! I've been excited and fearful, but truly, it was dread, my friends. I dreaded the pain that I know I'm going to experience. I let the thoughts of that L-O-N-G bike ride start to creep into my pores. My stomach started revolving around thoughts of 25+ packets of GU - revolting.

And then...

I dragged my negative old self to my workout tonight. Just a 20 min. bike, 15 min. run, 15 min. swim... and there lay my salvation.

Out there, I found myself. I love to bike, I love to run and I love to swim. It is me. I am it. I am Triathlete.

So, I conclude... Right now, I may not talk a good IM - I may not even think a good IM - but dammit, when it comes to the doing part, count me in!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Important Stuff

So how am I going to pee next Sunday? I know all you men have your fancy little water pistols, but how does a tri-woman do it? While training, I've stopped as much as every 25-30 miles on my bike. However, I found it impossible to make myself stop at my 1/2 IM earlier this year - which made for a quite uncomfortable, obsessed last 20 miles. (Oh man, did my heart leap at every copse of trees I saw, but then my head would say, nope, let's hold out another 10 miles...)

All this thinking today lead me to formulate the following resolutions.

Next week at IM, I will:
  • SWIM: Pee freely and rinse my wetsuit on the way out of the water. (Sorry everyone else, but I bet you're doing it too.)
  • BIKE: Stop as needed, promise to stop at least at mile 56. I will not wet myself. Not because of any personal squeamishness, but because those poor transition area volunteers really don't deserve exposure to all of my body fluids.
  • RUN: EZ-PEEzy, force myself to stop at porta-potties as needed. I know that I won't want to, but at least there will be legal spots available. I'm not so sure about that availability on the bike course.

As before, writing it = I'll do it.

OK workout today, but I felt more fatigued than earlier this week. Afterwards, I fell onto the couch and slept deeply for 40 minutes. I woke up refreshed, but I'm not going to go out and do a marathon or anything.

I swam 45 minutes (on a popular lake on Labor Day weekend. Hmm... kind of more prepared for our mass swim start next week). I ran 90 minutes, but broke my negative splits record held this week. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

And, by the way, it's t-7. (Sigh, shudder, shake, flutter, smile...)