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Thursday, June 28, 2007

You can never really go back

I believe that I'm in the best shape of my entire life. I hope so, because I plan to finish an Ironman in just 23 days. However, I may not be the thinnest I've ever been.

I had a client meeting today and my favorite standby pant suit was at the cleaners. I busted out a skirt suit that I bought for my first job and wore on my first day at said job over 12 years ago. Now, I fit into it, but it isn't as loose as I'd hoped it to be.

In fact, the ice cream sandwich I just consumed makes my stomach feel downright constricted. Of course, I could have said no to the ice cream sandwich, but when the head of your office is personally pushing a cart filled with ice cream products from door to door, it is hard to resist.

Well, I may never be the size I was 12 years ago, but I'll take my current fitness level. Why go back when life is so good now, right?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Glorious morning

There isn't much better in life than sharing a beautiful sunrise and a crisp, calm lake with your best friend in the whole wide world. Thanks for the swim and the laughs this morning my love!

(He wore the sleeveless suit this morning, but you get the picture.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday - Last Day

We met at 6:15 AM to drive out to the trail again for a 2-hour run. It was 36 degrees when we started. The weather was definitely not kind to us at camp, but it worked out just fine with proper layering.

My stomach hurt before we started and I thought I'd have nothing left, so was surprised when I kept up with the guys on the 1-mile descent. I'm good at running down hill. I settled into a steady pace and ran with Chris for awhile. He stopped to use nature's bathroom and I kept on by myself. I reached the waterfall bridge where we turned last time and peed for the umpteenth time in nature's bathroom (at least I had some tree cover unlike the many times I went on the bike course - so what if they see my butt, right?).

When I came out of the woods, I saw the others and thought they'd follow me as I headed up another trail (my kind of trail with roots and such), but they didn't. I was having a good time, but decided that running on the trail by myself was pretty stupid, so I turned around. By the time I reached the bottom of the 1-mile hill, my legs were still okay, but my stomach was sour. One more pit stop in the woods for me and then I then power walked up the hill to finish the 10+ miles.

There was an optional swim after, but all the Cleveland folks wanted to get on the road us included. We hurriedly got ready and were on the road by 10:15 AM. I was a woman on a mission and managed to limit the bathroom stops and be very efficient whenever we did stop. Paula's great at sticking to a plan, so we rolled into my driveway 8 hours and 45 minutes after we started.

I was so glad to be home and my husband was a sight for sore, tired eyes. He prepared a lovely meal and we spent some time chatting before heading up to bed. It was great to sleep in my own bed!

Now, I'm done with my story of camp. I think I'm ready for the Ironman race now. I'm grateful that I was able to spend some time getting to know the course. Now, we'll just see how it goes come race day!

Saturday - Money in the bank

Gary, Trephina, Angela, Paula and I headed out on our bikes at 5:50 AM. The plan was for Gary and Trephina to do the course twice, but skip the out and back sections while the rest of us did the whole course twice.

Now, I have only ridden 94 miles on 6 hours once before, so this was going to be a huge day for me. We planned to ride conservatively. Heck, we'd put in some major the work the two days before, so we weren't all that fresh to begin with.

Other than being really cold after the long descent, the first loop was very uneventful. I stuck to HR and nutrition plan and was feeling okay. We finished the first loop in 3:45 (not fast, but okay). We refreshed our nutrition and then Angela made the call to skip the out and back section this second time through, because there was no reason to be on our bikes for 8 hours. We already knew the course by now. Part of me was disappointed, but mostly I was relieved.

We got a little split up on the rollers heading to the big descent. By this time, there were a ton of other triathletes (and car traffic) out on the course. I rode the descent like a champ though and ended up passing Angela on the way down. We headed out a little on the flat section at a slow pace, but when our champion descender/flat rider did not catch up to us, we turned around. On the way back, we finally ran into Paula. She was having a breathing problem and was wheezing quite a bit. We rode back to a nearby restaurant and paid a nice lady to take Paula back into town. I know she was very disappointed, but she had already put in a solid 70+ miles and there was part of me that was jealous that she could stop riding.

Angela and I then headed back onto the course. On the ascent into Wilmington, the wind was just brutal. Angela was getting farther and farther away and I had nothing left to catch up to her. We regrouped at the convenience store. Hodska was there too waiting for his guys. I started crying, but I don't know why. I guess I was just so tired. I swear there was only head or cross wind that day and absolutely no tail wind. The guys all concurred and Gus said it was the worst conditions he'd ever experienced on that course. I guess that is good to know and I can hope for better conditions come race day. If they are the same though, at least I know I can do it.

The plan was for Angela just to ride her own pace from there, but luckily I was able to keep up with her for the most part. My stomach was killing me in the last 5 or so miles, so I just slowed down and drank only water. It helped tremendously. By the time, we rolled into the hotel parking lot, I had covered 100 miles in 6:45 ride time. Now, I have a new distance/time PR until the race! Woo hoo!

We transitioned quickly into running stuff and headed out for a 30-minute run. Paula was thankfully feeling better, so she joined us. We checked out the house Matt's family, Matt and I are staying at during race week and it is very cute! It is on Mirror Lake drive, has a full front porch with swing and a full back porch with grill. We peered inside and the living room looks very cute. Unfortunately, the bedrooms were shuttered. Maggie and Jean, I think we picked a winner.

After a shower and a quick bite to eat, we drove out to a river and soaked our legs in the wonderfully cold water. Hodska suggested going for a swim, but no one took him up on it.

We had another nice meal, including a large, dark beer for me before heading to Ben and Jerry's for one last treat. When we got back to the room, Paula opened up some celebratory champagne for Trephina, her and me. I definitely had no trouble sleeping that night!

Friday - Heading up the Mountain

Gary, Trephina, Angela, Paula and I headed out via car at 5:40 AM with our bikes to get a head start on the guys. It was cold and raining, but that wasn't going to stop us. No Whining, remember?

We did a quick warm-up on part of the out and back section of the course, before heading off the course and up Whiteface Mountain. Hodska said that we'd never ever climb like this on a daily basis and boy was he right. There was no flat section, just a continual climb. My legs and lower back screamed at me, but I kept steadily heading up the mountain at a 4-5 mph pace.

Angela and I reached the halfway point (4 miles) about 45 minutes later. Seriously, 45 minutes of straight non-stop climbing! Soon after, the rest joined us. We made a judgment call to not keep climbing, because the conditions were so bad and none of us wanted to fly off the wet mountain roads on the descent. So, we headed back down (we saw the guys heading up). I don't know if I have ever been so cold on a bike before. Of course, we were all sweaty from climbing and now the cold/rain/descent were freezing our hands into the brake grabbing position. Paula rode the descent rather conservatively, which is unusual for her, so you know the conditions were bad. I hope I have brake pads left.

We got to the convenience store and thank goodness they had hot chocolate. We warmed up in the store (dripping all over the place - we were lucky they were kind enough to not kick us out). We then headed out to do the 14-mile out-and-back section. When we returned, the guys were just getting back down the mountain. The crazies actually rode the whole 8 miles. They were all a little blue and looked hypothermic, but I'm sure they were proud of themselves. I'm proud of them. I'm also glad they didn't crash on the way down. The only mishap was Shawn got three flats on the way to the mountain and had to figure out the issue with his tire (glass in it) before continuing on. He did go out later in the afternoon and rode the whole mountain by himself. Now that takes grit!!

Hodska and Angela made the call to send us back on the course (12-mile stair step back into town) rather than riding the 28 miles of the course in reverse. Getting warm/dry was imperative at this point. So, we ended up riding almost 3 hours but only covering 34 miles. It was a tough, good ride though. It built character for sure. Oh, and the 12 miles didn't seem so tough after climbing a mountain earlier.

We got a quick shower and then headed out for a 70-minute run on the course. Paula, Angela and I ran together and it was great to get Angela's advice about the course. I will definitely be walking the steep hill coming back into town to save HR.

We then had a glorious 3-hour break. It felt decadent to have so much time. Paula and I found a laundromat and got to wash all of the stinky, wet clothes we had accumulated. It was so nice to have clean/dry clothes!

Before the next workout, Steve got us to show us a rainbow that had formed over town. Here is a picture:

Here is a picture of the rainbow viewers, Paula, Steve and Trephina:

We then headed out for our last workout of the day, a swim of the course. I had a much better time this time and finished it about 5 minutes faster. Baker swam past me at some point and I just "grabbed" onto his feet and held on. I lost him briefly before the turn, but then grabbed on again and rode the "Baker Express" all the way back. Gary kept popping up throughout the swim and I had to swim over him a couple of times. Both helped give me the "race day" experience. Thanks guys!

We then got cleaned up again and headed out for a good steak and of course, Ben and Jerry's after. Here are the rest of the pictures I took at camp, all on that night.

Chris Nook (we call him Robby McCuen) and Gary:

Baker of the "Baker Express":

The rest of the group at dinner:

The Cleveland Crew from left to right: Trephina, Scott (coach's husband), me, Chris, Jeff (hiding behind Chris), Paula and Angela.

Part of the Connecticut crew from left to right: Gus, Baker, Coach Eric Hodska and Gary (from CT, but didn't know anyone before coming to camp).

Hodska with the girls:

Shawn, after coming back from his solo trip up Whiteface Mountain:

The whole crew (minus Dangle) who went the whole way up Whiteface Mountain:

It was a tough, but good day. We were all exhausted and had to get to bed to prepare for the next big day.

Thursday - AKA MVP Day

At 7 AM, we drove out to a local trail for a 90-minute trail run, which included a 1-mile climb to the cars. I'm proud to say I made it up the hill without walking.

After the run, we soaked our legs in this cool lake and ate bagels.

We headed back for our first shower of the day, some more quick food and a little rest before regrouping at 11 AM.

We then headed out on our bikes for a loop of the 56-mile course. Hodska would regroup us periodically in order to break each part of the course down. It is not an easy course by any stretch of the imagination, but race day can be good if it is ridden smartly.

The course includes a long descent (6 miles I believe), which is a little scary to ride down but also exhilarating. After we got to the bottom, Hodska formed us into a paceline. For the next 10 miles, my HR soared as I tried to keep up with the uber athlete guys. Speeds were easily around 25 mph on this flat section. By the time it was my turn to take lead, the group had broken apart a bit, but I still held onto the 25 mph pace until it was time to fall back. It was fun, but I don't think I should be riding that hard on race day.

After the flat section, the group fell apart again for the climb back to Wilmington. It is probably one of the hardest hills, because it goes on mostly up for about 3 miles.

We regrouped at the convenience store where I peed for the first of many times out by a bush. I know, TMI, but it was just part of the experience.

Paula and I rode the 14-mile out and back section at a pretty good clip, because it took the guys a long time to catch us. This section is fair and only has one hill of merit. On race day, it should be crazy, because it is tight in there for so many bikes.

We then headed for the last 12 miles of the course. It is a stair step climb all the way back into town. This is easily the hardest part of the course. We got poured on during this section and my morale was starting to sink. I had been leading, because hills are my forte (Paula's superb on the downs and flats, but no slouch at the hills either). She offered to take the lead, which I misunderstood to mean that she thought I was going too slow. I said "This is the speed I'm going. You can do whatever you want." She meant that is wasn't fair that I brave the headwind the whole time and when she took the lead I realized how grateful I was that she did. When we headed up the last big hill, the guys were all there waiting at the turn to make sure we made it okay. The hill continued though, so I gave a quick wave, said "hi guys" and kept moving. I am grateful that they were there even if I didn't show it at the time.

We had time for a brief shower when we got back before we regrouped for a swim. The plan was to swim 45-60 minutes. The water was choppy from the rain/wind, but I did okay. About 17 minutes into it, I came upon two of our group. Apparently, it was thundering, so Trephina decided to head back. Gary and I decided that we could make it to the turn, so we kept heading out. It rained on us, but eventually it cleared. I wasn't ecstatic about the time it took me to swim the course, but Angela pointed out that the place we turned was probably farther out than the real course is and we had already run 90 minutes and biked 56 miles before the swim (kind of like a half-Ironman in reverse).

We went out to dinner at a local Italian place. Hodska presented the MVP award of the day and crazily enough, he gave it to me. My pace line work and swimming the whole course showed some guts I guess. It was very nice of him and I got a huge bottle of Recoverite, which should last awhile. Thanks Hods!

Of course, we went out for Ben and Jerry's again. Nothing like a dish of ice cream after a tough, long day!

We were exhausted, but knew we needed to get to bed early and rally for another big day coming up. Our idea of what is "clean enough" changed a lot during this camp and we never knew the bathroom heat lamp could be used as a dryer.


First off, let me send out a huge congratulations to my buddy/training partner Jodi! She finished her first Ironman yesterday in 12:37! Way to go! She had a steady swim, fast transitions, negative split the bike and ran the marathon in 4:35 (faster than I can go in a stand alone and she hasn't run in over a month)!


I just got back from camp last night. I took the morning off, so I plan to do the whole camp write-up at once. We'll see how long it takes. It was a full camp!

Paula and I headed up halfway to Lake Placid on Tuesday night. We stayed the night at a Holiday Inn Express where we swear there were sumo wrestlers above us. Oh well, it was still better than driving 9+ hours straight.

On Wednesday, we headed out early and arrived in Lake Placid around 12:30 PM. We had a quick lunch, went grocery shopping and unpacked before meeting the group for a short run.

Here is a picture of Paula and me before the run (we wanted a "before camp started" picture, but were too tired to take the "after camp ended" picture):

Here is a picture of our coach, Angela, before the run:

We did a short, "easy" 22-minute run and then Coach Hodska gave a short discussion including the three rules of camp. The only one I can remember and tried to take to heart was "no whining".

We had a nice dinner at the Boathouse restaurant, got ice cream at Ben & Jerry's (a trend for the week) and headed to bed. We knew the rest of camp wouldn't be so easy.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Just 33 days left till Ironman. On Tuesday night, Paula and I leave for triathlon camp in Lake Placid (camp goes from Wednesday through Sunday). We're stopping overnight at a hotel along the way and hope to arrive at the LP hotel on Wednesday fresh and ready to go! We'd also like some time to get food supplies at the grocery store.

I have no idea what camp activities will be. I know I'll probably be more tired than I've been, which is really saying something because I've been tired a lot since starting this crazy IM training ride in November.

Wish me luck! I packed my camera, so hopefully I'll have good stories and good pictures! Have a great week/weekend!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Can one explode from too much food? Probably not, but I feel like I could explode right now. I warned a co-worker that she might hear a loud pop.

I went to lunch with a few co-workers today. The Galleria has live music every Friday during the summer, so we went over there for food and entertainment. The music was good and they had two guys on stilts. Bonus!

I did eat too much however. Before I purchased the M&M McFlurry, I was already full, but it has become a Friday tradition so how could I resist? I'll need to ride a lot of miles tomorrow before those calories are gone. Oh well, it was good!


Well, this is my last weekend before camp. The schedule is kind of light - 4 hour bike ride, 30-minute run on Saturday and 90-minute run on Sunday. I'm supposed to rest a lot in anticipation of the camp, so rest I shall.

Hope you all have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Those that know me well would describe me as "always prepared", "motherly", "anal" (in an affectionate way), "organized", etc. I am an actuary and believe in contingency planning. I'm the girl who has sunscreen, extra shirt, extra underwear, lotion, facial wipes, bug spray, etc.

I even have a mantra I say in my head each night as I'm preparing for the next day. It goes "underwear, socks, bra, shirt, pants, shoes". I go through my work clothes and each workout's clothes to make sure each necessary item is there. It has worked quite well for me until today.

My husband is so fabulous and I'm very spoiled. Often, he takes care of all of the laundry by himself. He won't wash my bras though, because I think he fears ruining them. So, they build up in a pile until I break down and wash them. I'm now at the bottom of the barrel - all bras are either fancy, uncomfortable or not really fit for wearing. Last night, I thought I grabbed a fancy bra to wear to work, and I did, but it turned out to be a strapless one. D'oh! Talk about not comfortable!

So, I threw on my sports bra before lunch. Only problem is it doesn't quite "hide" under my black shirt and it is hot pink. I have 3,000 black sports bras (hyperbole), but I didn't pack any of them. So, I'm hoping my hair stays over it until I can change for my walk tonight. If not, oh well. My co-workers already think I'm strange. : )

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Couple more R4R pics

Thanks to TriEric and his lovely wife Aimee for these two pics of me at the finish! You've got to love Matt in the background of the second one with the wet towel on his head.

R4R pictures

Thanks to Trephina and Debbie for sending me these pictures!

Here is the group of CTC athletes post-race:

Trephina, TriEric, me and Debbie (check out our age group hardware and our matching hats):

Trephina, me and Debbie (a few of Angela's girls):

Monday, June 11, 2007

Race for Recovery Half Report

I am sure there are better ways to spend a weekend than to drive to Michigan to get ready for and then compete in a half-Ironman triathlon, but not for me especially given the outcome.

On Saturday, Matt and I got to the registration site around 3 PM. We got our packets and then headed to the lake for a quick swim. All week long, the water temperatures had been abnormally cold, but then it changed just as suddenly. I was roasting in my full-sleeved wetsuit and I was only out there for 7 minutes. I prayed that race day would be better.

After our swim, we drove the bike course. While sometimes smooth and most times bumpy, it was always exceptionally flat. Could be bad or good depending on the wind. We then grabbed dinner at Ruby Tuesday's, watched "You, Me and Dupree" on HBO and headed to bed.

In the morning, I ate my now typical nutrition before a long workout - bowl of cheerios with banana, half-bagel with jelly and boiled egg (no yolk). It seems to be working better for me to get a large breakfast in before a workout than a small one.

So, we headed to the race, set up transition, got a quick warm-up swim in and then waited for the race to start.


The race director told us to swim straight out to third buoy, turn around, head back through the original two start buoys and then parallel shore to the final turn-around. All was going well for me until heading back. There were no longer two buoys at the start, just one, so I kept stopping to look for the second buoy (apparently they removed the second one after we started - nice). I finally decided that the one had to be the right one, made the turn and swam parallel to shore. All was fine, except I seemed to be heading east to Cleveland because the buoys were farther away than I'd like. I swear I swim straight and I did sight frequently, but the sun was a factor and I'm fairly sure the buoys weren't in a straight line. I felt fine the whole swim, but by the time I got out of the swim, I was very disappointed with my time of 44:57. After looking at the results though, it seems I wasn't the only one who swam a little longer than expected, but of course I didn't know that at the time.


There was a long run up the beach to transition, but other than struggling with my race belt and gloves, it was uneventful.

Time: 3:11


Like I said before, the bike course was exceptionally flat. Of course, I've been training on hills all season, so I had no clue what kind of pace I could hold. There were a lot of turns on the way out to the loop portion and the road conditions alternated between smooth and very bumpy. The loop was about 12 miles long and we had to do it 3 times (Jane, get me off this crazy thing!). I was maintaining a good pace and passing lots of people (mostly guys). The road joints were merciless and the bumpiness got old quickly, but my pace was good so I was happy.

I had my very first successful water bottle hand-off from a volunteer. Last year I had to stop to fill my bottle. Yay me!

My HR monitor (not my Garmin) only worked for about 30 random minutes of the whole ride, so I have no clue if I was maintaining the right HR. I suspect that I was slightly higher than planned, which contributed to a fast bike, but probably slower run.

I finished the bike in 2:55:03, which is a 19.2 mph average. I can't say I was disappointed with that at all!

On a side note, I think what helped me get such a good time was not only my training but also my ability to stay in the aerobars almost the entire time. I passed many people who would take breaks out of the aero position and thus subject themselves to the wind resistance.


I transitioned quickly in T2. Uneventful, which is fine with me. I think I lost my Saltstick pills just outside of transition and really could have used them later, but I digress.

Time: 1:19


My legs felt fine off the bike. I saw my coach a few minutes after I started the run. I told her my HR monitor was broken and she said to just keep it slow and steady. It was just a training day after all.

The one thing I noticed immediately was that I had to pee. I'm not Miles Davis cool like TriSara, so couldn't stomach the thought of peeing down my leg into my shoes (I already have blister issues without having wet, pee-soaked shoes!). I started eyeing the surrounding area for a discreet place to squat. Thankfully, there was an outhouse john about 1.5 miles into the run (the RD had only rented one porta potty for the entire race and that was on the bike course).

When I finished relieving myself, I realized my watch had stopped about the time I finished the bike. I had no clue what the race time was now, so I just started my watch and tried to guesstimate the real time. In hindsight, it was probably good that I didn't know the real race time and wasn't tracking mile splits. I figured I might have a huge PR that day, but might have squandered some of the time had I known how huge it would turn out to be.

About half the run was in the shade which was good. My back has a huge sunburn on it that could have been worse. Matt assures me that the run was flat, but it seemed to be slightly uphill the whole time, especially on the 1.5 mile out and back trail section.

My stomach wasn't loving me, so the big flask of chocolate hammer gel I was carrying did not get consumed much and I ditched it at the halfway point. I told myself to just keep going. Walking could only happen at the aid stations and then only briefly. The second half was better, because I knew what to expect and I started drinking coke after mile 9. It was fizzy and warm, but just what I needed. The volunteers were wonderful and always had cold water available. For a 77 degree day, it felt considerably hotter.

I never saw Matt on any of the out and back sections which I hoped boded well for both of us.

In the last 2-3 miles, I kept thinking of TriEric's advice - paraphrased "just keep moving and let your mind go on autopilot". I quietly acknowledged the pain in my legs, but chose to ignore it and refused to stop running. When I got to the only real hill on the course which led to the finish line, I found a reservoir of energy that was supplemented when I saw my husband in full cheer mode with his arms held in a victory pose. I finished strong and my coach got to see it, which only made it better.

Total run time was 2:18:25, which is 4 minutes faster than at my last half-Ironman.

Finish Line

My overall time was 6:02:52, which is a PR by almost 28 minutes. I finished 3rd in my age group and 16th out of 34 women. Not too bad for a training day! Of course I will admit that the flat bike course helped me out tremendously!

Matt finished in 5:26 and had a great consistent race that should set him up nicely for Lake Placid. Note that he did not really taper for this race at all, so major props to him!

All of Angela's athletes raced extremely well and many of her girls, her husband and TriEric brought home PRs and age group hardware.

Yes, it was a great day!

Oh, and here is your moment of zen. This is a picture of my back after last year's Barb's race half-Ironman. My back today looks just like this. Will I ever learn?!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Post-Ironman list

Matt has been compiling a list in MS Word that contains all of the things we want to do after Ironman is over. I throw an item on the list every now and then. It is nice to have stuff to look forward to after Ironman is over. I'm afraid that I won't know what to do with myself. This race has been consuming my thoughts/life for almost a year now.

An item that isn't on the list but probably should be is "Find something else to talk about besides Ironman". I swear I have become the most boring person on the planet. I went to the Indians' game yesterday with a client who also is one of my good friends. I quickly noticed that she had no interest in talking about Ironman (seriously, what non-triathlete does), but then I realized that I had NOTHING else to talk about. We resorted to discussing the season finale of Lost.

I guess we'll have to go find fun Jen again in 44 days! : )

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

45 days!

I couldn't let the day pass without mentioning that there are only 45 days left to IMLP!! (I bill my time at work in 15 minute increments, so any multiple of 15 seems even more significant, especially when it is only 3 times 15)

This week is taper week for me before my first half-Ironman of the year on Sunday. You'd think I'd be worried about the race - after all, this was my A-race distance last year. But, compared to what is happening next month, it seems short and the training I've done has been more than enough (obviously) for a half. Sure, I hope to set a PR on the pancake flat course, but I'm not going to stress about it.

Originally, my schedule called for no swim this morning and to sleep in instead. Angela wants me to get as much rest as I can this week. I cajoled her into allowing a short open water swim though. When we got up though, neither of us wanted to venture out in the 50 degree weather to enter the 55 degree lake, so we bailed on the plan. I went back to sleep and got 1.25 more hours of sleep. Hope it helps! I will try to get in the lake on Saturday afternoon for a brief dip and to remind my body that a wetsuit is not a boa constrictor around my chest. : )

The time to this race, Lake Placid camp and Ironman itself used to seem so far away, but now it is go time.

June 10 - Racing for Recovery Half Ironman
June 20-24 - Lake Placid training camp
July 22 - Ironman

Let's get this party started!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Jen 1, Wheel 0

This past weekend's workouts were uncharacteristically light in anticipation of my upcoming half-Ironman this weekend. I slept, read, had lunch with my fabulous mother-in-law, saw a wonderful piano recital by Matt's cousin, went to bike shop, went to Target, spent time with wonderful husband, etc.

I also practiced changing a flat on my race wheels. The tires are so darn tight and hard to get off and put back on. Whenever I've needed to do it in the past, I would get Matt to help me when I got stuck. Yesterday, I was determined to do it myself.

While taking off the tire, I ripped a big blister hole in my index finger. I didn't cry. I just put on a band-aid and a pair of bike gloves and got back at it. Finally, success! Then, I had to put the tire back on. You would think that something that was so hard to get off would want to go back on, but not so lucky. I struggled, poured sweat and got a blister on my thumb, but I got it back on eventually. My hands ache, but I won the war! : )

I don't want to have a flat in a race, but I'd like to have the confidence to know that with a little patience and elbow grease, I can change it. Yesterday helped. From now until Ironman (just 47 days now!), I plan to practice at least once a week. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best, right?