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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Back on the trainer again

I got back on the Computrainer for the first time since May this morning. I'm a little out of practice with having everything set up right, but thankfully, my fabulous husband set it up in the trainer while I worked late last night. I just had to turn on the computer, load up the program, put on some rockin' tunes and get on the bike. It wasn't too bad, but the time passed by soooooo slowly. I did get a 2nd wind when Queen's "Bicycle" came on with 5 minutes to go. It was nice to get the day's workout completed and still make it to work before 8 AM, because it allows me to be more "flexible" with my work. I'd rather be outside any day though. Stupid weather and dwindling daylight!

On a positive note, my poison ivy is healing nicely. It barely itches now. I think identifying it finally made it say "OK, you now know what I am. Good! Now, I can let you heal. Spiders indeed!"

Finally, I got the results of my cholesterol test and it continues to be high. I'm up to 234 (from 226 in March). The lady told me I needed to eat better and exercise more. I laughed at the latter comment. Now, I'm not the best eater in the world, but I am healthier than most of America. I think I'm headed to a dietician next to try to get this under control naturally. I know it is inherited from my mother, but it just seems weird that someone who works out as much as I do can have high cholesterol. At least my good cholesterol was very high (optimal even). As I'm about to turn 35, I realize I can't continue to ignore this as I have since the first time my results were over 200 at age 29 and end up kicking the bucket early from heart disease. I'm not ready for medicine. Let's see what an improved diet can do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Poison Ivy, Posing and Perspective

My company offered free health screenings today (cholesterol, glucose, triglycerides and blood pressure), so we had to fast for at least 9 hours beforehand. Of course, I still went swimming. To keep my mind off my hunger, I started composing this blog post in my head. I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying writing. Growing up, I would have begged for a math problem over having to write something down. Without further ado, here's my alliterative post for today.

Poison Ivy
I now suspect that I have poison ivy and not bites from an ill-tempered spider. My legs actually itched while I was swimming today. Breast stroke was the worst and today is individual medley day at masters, so there was plenty of breast stroke. I showed my legs to a medical professional and fellow swimmer. She said it looked like poison ivy to her. I looked it up on-line and I think she's right. I did go running through tons of the stuff a few weeks ago. It is either a delayed reaction, which is possible according to the literature, or I picked it up off of my clothing, car, etc. after the fact. I thought I was immune, but I guess I need to be more careful. The good news is that I'm not contagious to others and I can't spread it anywhere else on my body. The spots that showed up later were on less sensitive areas or areas not as in contact with the plant. Phew! I probably still need to dry clean and wash a lot of the clothes I've been wearing the last few weeks.

I've been lurking on the forum for months now and finally requested a formal username last week. I don't think I could handle some of the posts if I were a new triathlete. Heck, it is hard to handle them as an experienced one. Many of the posts come out against the triathlete who is just in it to finish. This elitist attitude is troubling to me. I always had the optimistic viewpoint that all triathletes supported each other regardless of speed or talent. Maybe that is just the good people of the Cleveland Triathlon Club. I'm going to try to not let it bother me. I will still feel worthy when I stand at that start line in July regardless of how long the race will take me. Personally, I've always been most inspired by the athlete that struggles and takes 14-17 hours to complete the race (or sometimes DNFs like Ironwil did) than by the naturals who finish their first in under 10 hours. It is harder for those of us without natural talent, but we persevere to the finish line just the same!

While I was swimming today, I got the same discouraging thoughts that I frequently get. I'm so slow. Do the other swimmers hate having to go around me all the time? Will I ever be faster? Do I even deserve to swim with the masters group? I then have to put it all into perspective. Yes, I'm slow, but I'm still doing it and I can swim forever without getting tired. Heck, last year, I wouldn't have been able to swim as far as I did today. Sure, it is nothing compared to a real swimmer's yardage, but it is a lot for me. I didn't even know how to swim until the end of 2002. I've come a long way since then. I'm not prepared to go back to swimming by myself and not pushing myself. I just have to keep practicing good stroke mechanics, keep going the distance, keep pushing myself, get more swim lessons, wash, rinse, repeat...I will be a better swimmer and I will post a decent time in Lake Placid!

Have an enjoyable Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I ran yesterday for the first time in over a week. It was an easy 40-45 minute run at an easy pace. For some reason, my right leg locked up on me with about 10 minutes still to go. Today, I'm a little sore and my calves have cramped twice when I sneezed. Now, I just don't expect soreness from such a short, easy run. Of course, I didn't expect the right leg pain during the run either. Is this just normal for after you take a week off? I'm a little worried about my 10.7 mile run on Saturday, but I do go see the ART doc on Friday. I'm sure it will be fine.

The spider bites still itch and now they are all red and bumpy. I wonder if I spread the poison around to the surrounding skin area when I scratched them Friday night. My mom is a nurse, so I asked her about them last night. She is now worried and has made me promise to go see a doctor if they get worse. I'm sure it will be fine, but it is just so weird.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Old friends, more spider bites and Happy Birthday wishes!

Matt and I visited my friend of now 23 years and her family this past weekend. She and I have been friends since she was 10 and I was 11. Her oldest kid is now 7. It won't be long until he's the age that we were when we met. Jen has moved all over the place because of her husband's job and while her residence has always been drivable, it isn't as close as I'd like. She now lives in Michigan just over the border from Toledo. I head up that way at least twice a year, so hopefully, we'll see each other more often now. Regardless, she is still a dear friend of mine and when we are together, it is like no time has passed at all. You have to love people like that! She and I have so much in common (besides our name) and I really love the lady she has become. And, she has a wonderful husband who cooks like a gourmet and two very well behaved children. Her daughter and son treated me like one of the family and her daughter told me she loved me before heading off to bed. My goal is to see them enough that the kids don't forget me.

So, I still have inflamed, extremely itchy spider bites on my legs. I found more this weekend. I hope that they are just ones I overlooked and not that he is staying in my bed snacking on me. Matt has no bites, but he says he is a friend to spiders and they know that. I bought some Cortizone, but they still itch like a mother at times. I found this information on the internet today, so I'm not making it up that he sampled me up one leg and down the other:

  • "Spider bites - these are the largest type of bite, often creating a large, raised, circular area with a visible pinpoint bite mark in the middle. They can grow in size and redness for several days, and tend to be quite painful. They can number from just one to 5 or 10, often in a straight line or confined to one body area. Spiders often travel across a body part at night, snacking along the way. The initial bite is often painful, but not always."
On a much happier note, today is the birthday for two of my favorite people. One is my pal Nicole. Happy Birthday Nicole! And, the other is my fabulous husband, Matt. For the next 11 days, he will be 35, while I can happily stay at 34. Of course, USAT rules has had us both racing as age 35 all season, so I'm a little more prepared than I might otherwise be to turn that dreaded age. Happy Birthday honey! I love you and I hope you like your presents.

Finally, I'm back to training again. I made it through rest week successfully. Actually, it was kind of nice. I didn't have the greatest run this morning (experienced some hip, hamstring and knee pain), but hopefully after visiting the ART guy on Friday, he'll fix up what remaining issues rest week didn't cure.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rest week - day #6

I've almost made it through rest week. With work getting busier, it hasn't been so bad, but I'm itching to get back to training, at least light training until November 1 (Then, as my friend Eric says, "game on").

Speaking of itching, I have 7 bug bites on my legs. They are not mosquito bites, so I can only guess that they are spider bites. Ugh! I hate spiders. I noticed the bites yesterday at work. The location of them suggests that the creature traveled down one leg, hopped to the next and "sampled me" along the way. Gross! I used to get really freaked out about bugs (especially ticks and spiders), but I came to the realization that I can't control what happens when I'm not looking or not awake. Letting go of things that you can't control is one of the most valuable lessons I've learned. I think it will serve me well come Ironman day.

The worst part about the bug bites is that they itch like heck! Last night, some wrong caller called our home at midnight. I'm on-call at work (more on that later), so I woke up fully, tried to answer my cell phone, realized it was my home phone and then answered to find out it was a wrong number. My response to the lady was "No, I didn't call you earlier and I'm sleeping now." After hanging up, I realized that my bites itched terribly. I couldn't get back to sleep. I tried many remedies, but had no bug itch cream. I settled on using an unopened tube of Monistat. Believe it or not, it actually helped and I was able to get back to sleep.

As I said above, I'm now on-call at work. One of my big clients is going through negotiations with its union, so they need many different pricings (mostly for the retiree medical plan) with a due date of yesterday. Now, I'm a pension plan expert, but I have dabbled in the accounting for retiree medical plans, so I've been tapped along with another guy to be on-call when they need last minute reviews. This could mean being called at 3 AM to check something that needs to go out by 8 AM. This is not my idea of "good times", but how can I say "no"? I started working at this place 6 months ago and since then, haven't been busy enough. We have to bill our time and I'm woefully behind in my billable time goals. Besides, I'm not the only one who wants to have a life. At least I get to go home and be woken up. The guys who did the work are staying till past 3 AM and are missing tucking their kids into bed at night and sleeping next to their wives. At least it couldn't come at a better time - training for Lake Placid doesn't officially start until November.

My manager came over yesterday and told me I needed to be more "flexible" with my schedule, now that this client team needs me so much. Now, I'm regimented about my training, but I will move it around and have never proven inflexible. I think he was just concerned, because I've been "educating" him about how much time I'll need to train for IM. I told him that if I have to work 50+ hour weeks, week in and week out, that I would go part-time in order to work no more than 40. Hopefully, that won't need to happen. I hope come July 23, that I'll be considered a great employee as well as an Ironman.

In that spirit, I better sign off to go check a spreadsheet. : )

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rest week - Day #4

I'm on my 4th complete day off from training. It is kind of nice to not have to run around like a crazy girl to get all my training accomplished, but I still miss it.

What is surprising is my body hurts like hell while I'm not doing anything. Matt tells me that this is normal and since I have no point of reference, I truly thank him for lending me his experience. I suppose you notice the hurting more when you don't have any reason it should be hurting that day. I guess in some ways, I always hurt a little, but I usually can attribute it to a tough training session. Before I know it, I'll be back to training, so I'll just enjoy this time, aches and all.

Another plus to being off is I won't have to miss my 2 favorite sitcoms tonight - "My Name is Earl" and "The Office". Last year, they were on at 9 PM, but tonight they premiere at 8 PM. I hope that isn't their regular slot, because I might have to give up Thursday night Yoga for good (note, I haven't been to that class since March). I know that Ironman training and general well being are a priority, but I really only have these 2 shows and "Lost" as my "have to see" TV shows. I know "Excuses, excuses"! Maybe I'll have to look into getting a DVR for my DirecTV. : )

Monday, September 18, 2006

Last Triathlon of the Season

The Portage Lakes race put on by HFP racing was my last triathlon this year. I've been wanting to do it for years since my first miserable performance in 2002 (more on that later), but it always fell on DWD weekend. However, I had mixed emotions on race day. Part of me was done with triathlon for the year and ready to just do running races. Part of me hated that this signaled the end of warm weather and a return to training in the cold or indoors. But, it was so great to see everyone from the triathlon club and my in-laws were fabulous spectators!

Fog delayed us for 1.5 hours. I can't blame the RD. You can't do anything about weather. My biggest concern was whether my nutrition would hold, because I ate breakfast at 4:45 AM. It turned out okay thankfully.

On a side note, I think I finally have control of my nerves. I wasn't nervous at all before this race. In fact, I was dancing to most of music played by HFP. I'm sure the other competitors thought I was a nut, but what do I care what they think. This wrangling of my mental game has been going on for years. Time and confidence have been key to getting this under control. I also credit my husband for pointing out that I'd do much better in my IM training if I didn't stress so much. Okay, back to the report.

We were scheduled to swim in the 2nd to last wave, but the RD changed it up and put us in the 2nd wave. There were 25 women total in the International distance race - truly fierce competitors too. The horn blew and we were off. I'm not a great swimmer, but I've improved dramatically in the last year. I got a little off track, but I think it saved me from being pummelled by the 30-39 male wave. A little chop in the water and bodies sliding by doesn't bother me anymore, but I really didn't appreciate getting my ankle yanked down a few times. Oh well. As I always say, "never get mad and never apologize". Before I knew it, I was getting out of the water. My watch read 34 minutes, which was the fastest international swim for me yet, but of course, I had to run up the hill to transition.

Then, after an uneventful transition, I was off on the bike. It is a 2 loop course that has some rollers and one good steep hill to keep you honest. This is my favorite part of the triathlon, but for some reason on the first loop, I was thinking "Why the heck did I do the international distance?" That passed as I started to pass people in front of me. The second loop flew by and I had a big negative split. Overall bike time was just shy of 1:13. My husband, the triathlon bike master (IMO), did his bike in 1:04, so I really felt great about my time. I was disappointed that the bike was 23 miles instead of the standard 24.8, because it would be harder to declare a PR.

Next was the run, which I'm okay at, but not great. For some reason, I was just flying on the run and felt great the whole time. I was determined not to get lapped by my husband and I accomplished that goal. I finished the hilly 6.2 miles in under 58 minutes, which is almost a good stand alone 10k time for me. Overall finish time was 2:49:15. My prior international distance PR was 3:01, but with a longer bike course. I figure that had I maintained the same speed, I would have PR'd by over 7 minutes. Not too shabby for a tough course!

After the race and today, I've been very sore. Dances with Dirt and this race were fabulous confidence boosters for me, but now I need some rest. My coach has prescribed at least one full week off from training. Normally, this would bug the crap out of me, because I haven't had a full week off in years. But, I think it is just what the doctor ordered. I can heal some nagging injuries, catch up on some sleep and start my IM training program with a fresh head and body.

Oh, and about the 2002 race. It was my 3rd triathlon ever. I did the side stroke on the swim while wearing aqua shoes and no wetsuit, rode a hybrid bike and was running with a slight shin overuse injury. I finished the odd distance race (.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 4.1 mile run) in 2:36. I was third from last OVERALL. I beat an old guy and a lady with a knee brace. And, I got beat by an old guy with a white beard and potbelly (think Santa here) wearing purple spandex! Still, it was fun and somehow I wasn't discouraged. I was just glad to be there. These days, I'm more competitive with myself and others, but I hope to not lose the basic love of the sport that I eat, drink and breathe every day now.

Dances with Dirt - Hillbilly style!

I did a great race on September 9 called Dances with Dirt. Here is my race recap and some photos.

“Dances with Dirt” is a 100 kilometer 5-person trail relay race (also has 50k or 50-mile solo ultra distance) through the “bowels of Hell, Michigan”. The terrain varies from regular trail (like Buckeye), rocks, sand, muck, mud holes, rivers, lakes, etc. It is like the Woodstock of running races, because while there are serious runners, most are there just to have a good time (many teams dress in costume or have a theme). My team consists of 4 wonderful women and me. We call ourselves the Hillbilly Goats. For our shtick, we wear Texas flag running shorts, wife beater tank tops (with hillbilly names – mine was Jen-Bob – and “sponsors” like beer and NASCAR written on them in permanent marker). We also have an official “Hillbilly” straw hat, plungers with HBG written on them, trucker hats, a decorated toilet seat and a tag line “Git R Dun!” that we yell as our runner is finishing. Besides me, the 2006 team consisted of Carie and Nicole (2 long distance runners) and Samantha J. and Samantha B. (2 triathletes/long distance runners). This group of girls is so cool that I can’t even begin to describe how much I love hanging out and running with them. Anyway, I’ll move on to the race day report.
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Hillbilly goats (Nikki Lee, Sammi Joe, Jen-Bob, Sammy Candi and Carie Mae)!

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Team just before race start

Carie took off on the 1st leg and even though she twisted her ankle in the first mile, she came in a smoking fast time. I took off for the 2nd leg. I didn't wear my monitor, but I knew my HR was too high to start, but I reigned it back in. Somehow, I and at least 100 others got lost and ended up going 4-5 additional miles. When I came upon the big group in front of me, we worked together, turned around and eventually found our way to the correct ending point. At that point, my scheduled 6.2 mile route turned into at least 10 miles. I was tired and thirsty, but felt okay. I figured that I was the most trained for long distance, so it was best that it happened to me. My teammates were certainly worried about me and the look of relief on their faces was touching.

Sam B. was gone when I showed up finally. Carie told her to go no shorter than 40 minutes to conserve energy. She came in just under 41 minutes. Great job! Sam J. was next. She got a little lost and fell down creating a nasty bruise on her leg, but still put in a good time (apparently the runners behind her rated her falling skills and gave her an 8!). Nicole then took off for her first leg. She was the first to get wet!

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Nic - plunger chick
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Sam B. and Carie
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Sammy Candi finishing her first leg
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Jen-Bob before her river leg
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Nic finishing her river leg

While Sam B., Sam J. and Nicole did those next three legs, I rested up. It was a chilly day, so I wasn't interested in standing in the river before my next leg's start. When Nicole came in, I jumped in the river and headed out. The river varied from 1 foot deep to waist deep. I got some small rocks in my shoes, but luckily, it didn't hinder me. The next 3 miles, I crossed three streams (ankle to waist deep). At the second stream, I landed on my side while trying to climb out on the slick, muddy bank. No injuries though, just dirty. : ) I finished the 3.3 mile leg in 36 minutes and felt good the whole time.

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Me after falling in the mud

Carie took off then to do the famed “This Sucks” leg. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as filthy as prior years, so she was disappointed. Sam J. then did “Stripper Pole”. There was a dirt ladder on this one with a sign at the bottom that read “Elevator broke, must use dirt”. Unfortunately, she slid down after only making it up halfway, but then conquered the hill. Sam B. then went off on her wet leg, which was pretty much the opposite of mine, so she got to experience the river joy! As she was finishing, she fell up the muddy hill, but still had that big smile. Carie was an “Early Leaving Bastard”, so we had to rush to the next relay spot. Carie’s leg was hilly and I could tell she didn’t love it, but she was done for the day. Then, it was Nicole’s mucky leg called “Where’s the F’N Bridge”. I didn’t get to see her come in, but I was told she was covered in mud (her favorite way to be!).

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Me with toilet seat decoration
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Nic and me
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Sam climbing the hill
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Sammi Joe demonstrating how high the water got on her leg
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Carie truckin'!
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She's got a little cap'n in her!

While the girls did those five legs, I rested again, but I did leave as an “Early Leaving Bastard” to conserve daylight. Last year, my last leg (called Vertigo due to the multiple high grass fields and steep inclines/declines) really kicked my butt. This year, I felt great the whole time. I even helped other runners stay on track with my eagle eyes spotting poorly marked turns. One lady shook my hand at the end of the leg to thank me. Of course, I really should give the credit to my LASIK doctor! I finished the 3.4 miles in 40 minutes and felt so good to have kicked butt on the leg this time. I was done for the day!

Sam J. was gone when I came in. When she finished her wet leg, we learned that she went through at least a half mile of chest deep water while crossing a lake. She also gashed her leg on something and was still bleeding the next day. She still had a great time though and can’t wait for next year! She and I then cracked open some cold beer! Sam B. did her leg next and will be happy not to do that leg again for awhile, but she enjoyed the cold one after she finished too. Nicole finished off the day with a fabulous 10-minute pace despite her knee pain (apparently Houston has no hills, so the “Billy goat” was out of practice). Overall, we finished in just over 12 hours once the time on the “cheating bastard” card was added to our finish time. We finished 293 out of 345 teams once the handicap for gender and age was factored in for all teams. We might not have been the fastest, but we certainly had a fabulous time!

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Sam J., Sam B., me, Carie and Nic at the finish line

So, for the whole day, I covered around 17 miles instead of the planned 13, but felt better than I had the last two times I did this race. I credit Angela for training me so well and for my running partners (Carie, Sam B., Sam J., Suzi, Stacy and Paula) braving the Buckeye Trail with me (including during a terrible thunder storm) on many a long run or brick! Can’t wait till next year!
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Chili dog dinner

Friday, September 15, 2006

Caught up in the blog wave

I never thought I'd ever have a blog site, but I've been inspired by some of my tri friends' sites. It is a guilty pleasure checking in on them in their journey through life and triathlon training. Now that I've signed up for Lake Placid in 2007, I thought it might be time to let others into my psyche as well. So, welcome to my blog. Hopefully, it will be a joyful journey to a successful IM completion.