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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Newer, cuter Jen

My good friend Suzi had her first child this past Friday, a little girl named Jennifer Grace. Here's a picture. My namesake sleeps in the same position I do when I nap at work! Isn't she the cutest Jen ever?!


I feel like a slug right now, an awake slug, but a slug nonetheless. Typically, my day off from training is Monday, but I trained on Memorial Day, so yesterday was my day off instead. Today, I only have Yoga on the schedule. I got to sleep for nearly 8 hours two days in a row! My hair is dry and styled and my clothes actually match. My co-workers are a little weirded out.

Last weekend was a tough, but good weekend. I rode 94.2 miles all on my own steam on a hilly course sometimes in the rain. Matt was out there and we hooked up occasionally, but I was usually by myself. At mile 91, he was behind me on this huge hill saying "imagine you are climbing Papa Bear on the LP course". When I got to the top, I raised my fist in the air in triumph. So, Saturday included a 6-hour ride for 94.2 miles and a 40-minute run for 3.75 miles. I was elated at my performance.

The next day, I got up to do my 2:20 run by myself on the N. Chagrin hilly trails. I wasn't sore and was still pumped from the day before. Apparently, no one told my legs though. 20 minutes into the run I wanted to quit. My legs were so tired and I was so hot. But, I made it through by keeping the pace slow and just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I think I got a little taste of what the Ironman run is going to feel like.

On Monday, I had a 2-hour recovery ride on flat roads. Matt put my race wheels on my bike. Again, I was pumped to try them out, but my legs weren't in on the plan. I complained most of the time, but I made it through it with a nice draft from my husband for about half the ride. We went for a quick open water swim (yes, the lake is still too cold for me) after to test out the wet suits for the first time this season.

Tuesday's workouts were good though and I'm sure I'll feel great after basically being off Wednesday and Thursday. I look ahead to the weekend and I have mixed emotions. Saturday is a 2-hour ride/30-minute run and Sunday is a 1:15 run. Part of me is looking forward to having some free time and the other part feels like a slug. I haven't had such a light weekend since February. But, I have my first half-Ironman next Sunday (June 10) and while it is not my A race, I'd still like to do well at it.

I guess I'll just enjoy having some free time and catching up on sleep. Soon enough, game will be back on!

Friday, May 25, 2007

7 Random Things

I have been tagged by Craig and DaisyDuc to list 7 random things about me, so here goes.

7. While I am a mathematician by trade, I believe in the zodiac signs - general traits, not daily horoscope. I'm a Libra.

6. My dad was in the Army for 20+ years, so before he and my mother split, my brother and I lived in Alabama for 2 years and Germany for 7 years before moving to Canton, Ohio upon their divorce when I was 9 and he was 7. Ich spreche Deutsch ein wenig. (Hablo español mejor que alemán - Jen, that one's for you.)

5. I absolutely love cereal, especially the sugary kind. My husband calls it FDC (Fine Dessert Cereal). Thankfully, he makes me eat a real meal before having my FDC.

4. Before I turned 30, I was extremely, painfully shy. My yearbook entries say "to a nice, quiet girl who always had a smile on her face." Smile? yes... easy conversation? no. Between being a consultant for a living, this athletic lifestyle, and all the cool friends I have made, that has changed dramatically for the better.

3. I was the stroke and starboard stroke (a switch hitter) for an 8-woman rowing crew for 4 summers (2002-2005). We called ourselves the "Dirty Oars". They are some of the funnest, rowdiest woman I have ever met. I miss them.

2. I'm going for my first 6-hour bike ride tomorrow. I hope it doesn't rain/storm too much. Downhills on wet roads terrify me. Lightning won't make that any better.

1. When I was single, married people would say "When you meet the right person, you will know." I thought that was utter crap, especially as I had already married one person and it didn't work out. Then, I met Matt and soon after told my BF that he was "it". I am a true believer and benefited from being patient. Love you Matt!

I shall tag Jodi and Jen.

Couple more pics from Maggie's marathon day

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Food for the homeless

As I was walking back from lunch today, a homeless guy saw the styrofoam container in my hand and asked "Is that food?" I said "Yes, do you want it?" and he said yes, then took it.

After I handed it off, I thought "Boy, I hope he can find a fork to eat that leftover pasta." Probably not the easiest food to pass off to the homeless. Seriously though, part of me wanted to keep it, because I'm hungry all the time and that would have been a good dinner for me. Charity first though, right? He definitely needed the meal more than I did.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

To Step or Not To Step?

My company instituted a wellness program last year. One of the events was an 8-week long Step Challenge. We were formed into teams and given pedometers. Steps from the pedometer counted as did "converted" steps from activities like swimming, biking, racquetball, golf, house cleaning, yard work etc.

As you can imagine, during the height of my half-Ironman training, my team was winning as was I. I did have taper and post-race recovery occur during the challenge, so I stopped posting huge weekly totals.

Every week, we would get an update on who won that week and who was in the overall lead from a team and individual basis. Going into that last week, my team and I were still in the overall lead on both. I won the individual competition for the last week and my team was higher than the nearby team, so I expected us to win. I wasn't there the day they announced the results about 6 weeks later. It turns out that somehow, both my team and myself placed 3rd. I got beat by a lady who did a lot of house cleaning and yard work and a young kid who played racquetball and golf.

Now, in the big scheme of things, who cares? It wasn't like the prize was some huge deal. My choice of activity isn't the be all end all. I guess my competitive nature got the best of me though and I had a sour taste in my mouth about the competition.

Almost a year later, they are having the second Step Challenge competition. Should I enter? It starts June 4, so will encompass most of my big Ironman training although the taper and recovery weeks will be in there too. I am leaning towards not entering. I'm afraid I will get too competitive and seriously, who cares and who has the time for tracking that information? Not me! Part of me wants to win though. Is that wrong?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Huge deposit in my Ironman bank

I believe I had a breakthrough weekend this past weekend. It was totally unexpected, which somehow makes it even better.

Saturday morning, I met Jodi for a long bike ride. She had 7 hours on the schedule and I had 5, so we met after she'd been riding for an hour. Many, many hilly and sometimes super-windy miles and 5:15 hours later, she dropped me back at the starting point. We had covered 82 miles longest ride ever. My butt was complaining a little, but overall my nutrition was solid and I felt relatively good. I headed out for a very hilly, yet quite fun 45-minute trail run after. I found my legs pretty quickly and really enjoyed traversing many streams and jumping over logs. I finished up near the Chagrin River, so I took off my socks/shoes and waded in up to my quads to soak in the chilly water for 15 minutes. I'm sure the people out for their afternoon walk thought I was a nutball, but it was easier than going home to a cold bath.

My sister-in-law was in town for the Cleveland marathon, so we hung out after my workout while Matt made us a great dinner. Maggie was as cool as a cucumber. I know I was nervous before my first (and second) marathon, but like her brother before a big race, she showed no fear - must be a trait inherited by blood and not by last name. : )

I got my race plan for Sunday from my coach - it said: stay in aerobic zone 2 for 10 miles and then pick up to zone 3 for last 3.1, but no higher. It was a training run after all, not a race for me.

We got to the start line a little late. I couldn't see any of the pacers, so I should have known I was too far back, but it didn't occur to me. For the first two miles, I dodged many walkers while making my way up from the 6-hour pace group to eventually the 4:30 one. I figured I should be able to do a 2:15 within zone with no problem.

It turns out that I had more in me than I thought. My pace was not technically zone 2, but it was very low zone 3 for the first 10 miles. There were times when I felt great and others not so much. Around the mile 6 aid station, I saw TriSara passing out PowerAde. She allowed me to rub her pregnant belly for luck. It provided just the boost I needed at the time. Thanks Sara!

Around mile 8-9, there is a long climb on the highway back into town. It was at this point that I passed the 4:15 pace group. I just kept feeling better and better after that. The Carnegie bridge from mile 10-11 is on my typical running route and I flew up and down it. Unfortunately, I didn't see Jodi at the bottom as the others did. After that, I just picked up the pace and finished strong. My final official time was 2:02:41, which is a 2.5 minute PR. Not bad for a training run the day after a 6-hour workout! It is definitely a huge deposit in my Ironman bank and a welcome confidence booster!

After the race, Matt, his mom and I grabbed a quick lunch and then headed out on the course to see his sister. Matt and I waited at mile 22 for Maggie. She was smiling and still trucking along when she got to the mile marker. She was using a Galloway plan, which she had modified at that point in the race to 2 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking. It kept her focused and moving forward, which is exactly what she needed. Matt and I accompanied her to mile 23 and then we sent her on the way. We waited for her around mile 25. By the time she got there, the race people had pulled up the cones from the road and had sent the police home even though the course was supposed to be open for 8 hours. She was forced to walk/run on the sidewalk and obey the traffic signals. That didn't bother her (it did me and her mom though), but the worst part was they removed not only the aid stations and mile markers but also the directional signs. WTF! Now that she was rightfully angry about. Luckily, I knew the rest of the way and accompanied her to the finish line. She did so awesome and was right around her goal time of 6.5 hours! I am really proud of her accomplishment and hope she keeps running despite the poor treatment from the classless race director. I will go on record saying that I will never do the Cleveland marathon again, which is too bad, because I did like the race course. Regardless, Maggie rocked her goal and she was fabulous! Here is a picture of her and me at mile 23.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Giving up?

A co-worker just asked me "Are you doing the Cleveland marathon on Sunday?" I said, I'm doing the half. She said, "What does that mean? You just go halfway and then give up?" Too funny!

Speaking of the Cleveland marathon, I want to give a huge "Good luck!" to my sister-in-law Maggie. She will be doing her first ever marathon this Sunday. Her training has been solid, consistent and I know she will do great! She lives in North Carolina, so it is fabulous that she is coming up here to race and to see her family. Good luck Mag!

A Feel Good Moment

I got an e-mail from one of the new triathletes who came to my tube changing practice session. She was out riding her bike a couple days later and she got a flat. With her newly learned skills, she changed the tube and got back on the road. She e-mailed me about it this morning.

It makes me feel good to know that I helped her. That's what I call just-in-time training!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Crazy Treadmill Guy

I'm lucky enough to have a free gym in the basement of my office building. It isn't fancy, but it has the basics (locker room with shower, 5 treadmills, 3 stationary bikes, 1 elliptical, some old-a$$ cybex-type machines and lots of free weights). I usually use it for weight lifting twice a week.

Almost every time I go to that gym, the crazy treadmill guy is working out. He randomly sings out loud to the tunes on his portable music player - usually only when he hears a really good song that he can't resist I guess. He runs for a long time, but he holds onto the top of the machine the ENTIRE time. I'm not quite sure why - maybe he's afraid he will fall off. Lastly, he gets off the treadmill regularly - possibly to rest, possibly for water, who knows why - but he LEAVES the treadmill belt running. Now, the machines have a pause button on them - they aren't that outdated. I wonder if he counts the total mileage on his running log?

At least he makes it entertaining for the rest of us. You've got to love the fact that he apparently doesn't care what anyone thinks. Rock on crazy treadmill guy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Showing the love and other random thoughts

This morning, I swam with my pal Sam J. She is one of the nicest people I've ever met. I always call her my biggest friend fan, because she is always so supportive. She was like that even before I knew her all that well.

Every Tuesday, we swim together in that little 20-yard pool. Having her there makes it fun instead of a drag. And, even on a day like today, when I couldn't get my 800s down to the time I used to do them in, she brightened my morning. As a bonus, she always brings me a Zone bar too in the flavor I like the best. What a gal!


Last night, I hosted a tube changing practice for the newbie triathletes in the Cleveland Triathlon Club. Officially, only 1 person (a lady) showed up. There was a guy there when I first arrived, who had just finished a swim in the frigid lake (crazy, I know). I approached him and asked if he was there for the tube changing practice. He wasn't, but he said he was a club member, a newbie and did need to learn how to change a flat.

So, there were only two of them there, but I think they learned a lot in the hour we spent together. Both of them were in their first triathlon season and both were doing a half-Ironman as their first race. I am impressed with their bravery. It took me years to graduate to that level of race. Goes to show you that you are your biggest limiter.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I'm very grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life, but I wanted to quickly highlight two that made my Wednesday night run a nice experience.

The run assigned by my coach last night was this:

Run 75 minutes total
Warm-up 20 minutes till you reach the bottom of a long hill then

Run up it for 2 minutes (think power, not speed)
Recover for 2 minutes
Run up it for 1 minute (fast feet, think speed)
Recover for 1 minute
Repeat 8 times
Finish run in steady zone 2

I lead a group run for the triathlon club every Wednesday night. The nice weather brought out a good-sized group of people. Most just kept running after we got to the bottom of that steep-ass bridle trail hill, but two stayed with me. Both of them had just run the Flying Pig race this past weekend - JT did the half-marathon and E-speed did the full marathon. Both were hurting, but they were willing to keep me company. E even did most of the hill repeats with me.

After 4 times through, I couldn't stomach doing any more, so we continued out for another 10 minutes then turned around for one more go at the hill back to the start.

I don't think I would have done as well without them, so thank you JT and E-speed! You rock!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The 4400

No, not that USA show about alien abductions. Instead, it is the number of yards I did today in my 20-yard pool - 110 laps or 220 lengths. Thankfully, it was broken into sets and not just one, long straight swim.

I wasn't feeling the swimming love today. It started with the 4:30 AM wake-up call. Then, I couldn't park at my gym's garage, because they only offer 2 hours of free parking and I knew I'd never make the swim and get ready in that time. So, I parked in my work garage which is luckily only a 5-minute walk from the gym. It may have been dark, but there were no hoodlums out and the weather was balmy.

I started swimming at 6 AM and just felt off for the first 3000 yards. Yes, you read that right - 3000 yards. But, then something magical happened, all of a sudden I was feeling the swimming groove and I finished the last 1400 yards at a faster pace per 100 than the previous 3000 yards. Including the rest breaks, the whole thing took me about 1:45. Not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm feeling good for getting it done.

4400 today - who knows what's on tap tomorrow? This is a year for setting new distance milestones. Game on!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Big Volume

So, I survived my first 20-hour week of training. It was no picnic, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm sure this is just the beginning of the big volume, so I will just have to get used to it.

On Saturday, in the middle of my 4-hour ride, I told my riding partner, Paula, that I wasn't feeling so minty fresh. She said "you stink?" "No", I said, "Just feeling kind of fatigued and not looking forward to going back up that big ass hill that we just careened down." She told me that we'd take it slow and get it done. And, we did. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I couldn't ride it entirely in the saddle, but I did ride every other hill on that hilly course in the saddle as instructed. Honestly, my "out of the saddle" legs were not entirely present anyway, so there wasn't much of a choice. We averaged just under 16 mph for the entire ride, but it was a good ride nonetheless and I felt good by the time we headed out for our 45-minute run.

On Sunday, Stacy and I headed out for a 2:15 run on the Buckeye Trail. Hilly and muddy as expected, but we had fun doing it. I tried out my new trail shoes, which were fine for the most part except for the two huge blisters I got (including my first blood blister). We didn't cover a lot of ground (just shy of 11 miles), but the hill training and root/rock running was priceless. Still money in the IM bank.

I got back home in time to get ready for the CTC picnic. It was a laid back affair. It was nice to catch up with everyone in a purely social situation. DaisyDuc put in an incredible 20-mile run on Saturday then not only won the duathlon she raced on Sunday, but she also led our CTC group ride before the picnic. Amazing! Then, I talk to Jodi and she went 125 miles on her bike on Saturday. Holy cow! I guess I know what I have in store for me soon (she's about a month ahead of me in the IM schedule and we have the same coach).

When I got home, I went down for a nap and stayed down for nearly 2 hours! You'd think that would keep me from falling asleep, but no, I fell asleep by 10:30 PM and had to drag my butt out of bed at 6 AM. Thankfully, today is a rest day. So, the big volume is here, but I'm ready for it. Just need to schedule the naps now. : )

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bringing on the volume

With Ironman less than 80 days away (yowza, it is going fast now), my coach is bringing on the volume. This week's workouts:

Monday - rest day (did have a swimming lesson, but didn't swim far)
Tuesday - AM 3800 yard swim; PM 90-minute bike ride
Wednesday - AM 4000 yard swim; lunch lift session; PM 75-minute run
Thursday - PM 90-minute bike ride followed by Yoga class
Friday - AM 4000 yard swim; lunch lift session; PM 90-minute bike ride
Saturday - 4-hour bike ride followed by 45 minute run
Sunday - 2:15 run (suddenly this feels like an easy day in comparison)

It's a lot of volume, but I seem to be handling it okay so far. Don't get me wrong. I'm tired, really tired, but hanging in there. Wish me luck staying awake for my many meetings at work. It is kind of embarrassing falling asleep during a meeting when there are only 3 of you in it. : )

My co-worker told me that I was brave for doing all of this. I'm not sure if brave is the right word. I think "stupid" or "crazy" fits better...just kidding!

I'll leave you with pictures of me with two of my biggest fans who put a smile on my face especially during the tired times. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday moment of zen

My cat, Jack, pretending to be a prairie dog! : ) It makes me laugh every time I see it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another day of swimming

So, today was day two with my new stroke improvements in place. I think I'm getting the hang of it. It feels weird, but it does feel exactly as the swim coach described it should feel. While still not fast, my times were consistent throughout the workout and I don't feel so spent after.

But, of course, one of the other friendly swimmers said after practice, "Can I give you some advice on your stroke?" I really appreciate that they care enough about me to watch my stroke and give me pointers, but I felt like crying (and almost did). I explained that I had just had a lesson and was working on some stroke changes. She told me I should probably just concentrate on those changes and not worry about her advice. I still wanted to know it, so she told me that I don't rotate enough. I'll have to set up another swim lesson in a few weeks to ask about how to incorporate that change along with the others. In the meantime, I'll work on the original changes.

The friendly swimmer told me that she constantly makes changes in her stroke and she's been swimming her whole life. It did make me feel better. I promise I won't cry over swimming. I'm still proud that I can swim at all given my extremely late start at learning it just 4.5 short years ago.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Swim Form

It's been awhile since I had a swimming lesson, so I scheduled one with a local swim coach who swims at masters with me and has given me lessons before. I just wanted to make sure my stroke wasn't too out of whack with all the yardage I've been doing lately.

Of course, there were issues. My elbow is dropping before I pull, my hands aren't wide enough, my catch isn't deep enough and I'm breathing too long. Her recommendation is for me to use the pull buoy and paddles almost exclusively and then wean myself off of them when I start to "get it".

Now, I don't want to be contradictory, but I simply cannot use paddles for that much yardage. Oh also, she recommends starting with 2000 yards and building up again. Well, my coach has 4000 on the schedule, so that's what I'll be doing.

I'm a fast learner. I implemented the changes today including about 1000 yards of pull/paddles. While I don't think I was any faster, I do believe I wasn't slipping as much and hope to improve gradually. It's all about the baby steps, right?

It would be cool if I could bring my 100 meter time through stroke improvement not stroke turnover. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!