Finish Line 70.3

Finish Line 70.3
Finish Line 70.3

70.3 Finisher!

70.3 Finisher!
70.3 Finisher

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time of My Life: Seven weeks 'til race day!

Although I am of the firm belief that, with a few exceptions, all good music happened sometime before 1980 (before, for example, "Disco Duck" and "I Don't Bump No More Big Fat Woman," both of which were I believe highlights of the 80's music genre), I have to admit that a few of the modern tunes manage to make their way onto my playlists and into my jogging songs. Although I am one of the few Americans that has never, ever managed to watch a single episode of "American Idol," that doesn't mean I don't know some of the songs from it, or from the singers who are plucked from obscurity into singerdom. I happen to like the song "Time of My Life" by Adam...oh, you know his last name. Second place to the other Adam who won, who has tattooed eyeliner and painted fingernails. For simple working out lyrics, nothing beats "I'm out on the edge of forever ready to run...." Well, of course I am. Right now, I have to be.

I had a long weekend of long workouts and there was a brutal, nasty, howling SW wind all weekend with gusts up to 35 mph. Well, okay, the 70.3 I'm entering has brutal, nasty, howling winds (you know it's gonna be bad when the race's own website describes the bike course as "flat but windy."), so this was simply practice for the real thing. Right. I came away from the weekend with most of my skin sandblasted off me, and two extra pounds packed on me (I'm swearing it could not possibly have been the dessert I ordered while eating out Friday night).

Saturday was a 3 hour bike. I did this in my 'hood, as Coach Claire, playing Cruella De Ville :-), suggested I do some hills, along with 3 hours of riding into the wind. So I did. About 12 of them, all but 2 into the wind (or it seemed that way) and 9 miles long. Actually, only about 3 of them ate my lunch enough to make me shift into the smaller chain and keep searching for a lower gear that woefully just wasn't there (that is always such a fun feeling, clicking the gear shifter and having the bike say, nope, this is all you got, so learn to live with it). But riding on the flats headed due south into that hurricane was pretty tough--sometimes I was lucky to average 11 mph during those segments, and I was really hunkered low over the aerobars, trying to make myself into Frodo size. I kept thinking I would make up for that when I turned downwind, and I did make up some of it, but not as much as I would have liked.

I tried some different nutrition on the bike for fun; I made some biscuits with raspberry jam and put them in small baggies in the bento box. Although they were very tasty and fairly easy to eat (in small bites) they didn't seem to fill the hunger hole in my gut like the old hard boiled egg does, so I'm afraid they aren't going to make the final cut (so far, the final cut is a hard boiled egg, several gels, gummy bears, and two small peanut butter sandwich cutouts made with a round cookie cutter--and go easy on the PB as it can cause you to choke if you swallow too much of it).

The annoying thing about riding the 'hood is how many stoplights I have to stop it, and it messes up my bike time. I know I will go faster on the average when I don't have as many stops and starts. Still, it gives me a chance to rest my weary rear off the saddle. Right now, the plan for the 70.3 is to ride straight through to 28 mile (halfway) and then get off for two minutes and stretch and use the portapot (hoping there is one at the turnaround point for us old ladies), and then back on for the second 28 miles. I don't need to get off at all if I don't want to, but if I'm on target for my time, IMO it's a good idea for me to get the blood flowing to all the nether regions again at halfway. I've got a long run coming up after the bike is done!

Sunday was a 2 hour brick, an hour ride followed by an hour run, and the winds were even stronger on Sunday and it was also getting rather warmish (again: told myself good practice). The bike was slow, rode with Patient Spouse on his new carbon rig's maiden voyage (and he needs to have the chain adjusted), just cruised a bit and then did a couple of major hills before cruising home, hopped off and did a 2.5 minute transition (majority of time was spent yanking off the long sleeve bike overjersey as the day had heated up considerably), and off for the run into the wind. I planned to go slow if need be, but I felt pretty good and did my run 8 minutes/walk 2minutes the entire time and ended with an 11:23 mile average and plenty of gas. I hydrated well both during the bike and the run, and took in a gel about halfway through the just over 5 mile run. Patient Spouse had bought me a gel squeeze bottle which I found I loved, other than finding room where to stash it. I put it in my jersey back pocket, but it was big enough to want to try to fall out and also to get in the way of me twisting around my fuel belt to get to my sports drink (no room for both it and my drink bottle in the fuel belt). I think I will try to use it. It's soooo much more convenient than having to open gel packs and squirting yourself in the face with them, and then ending up with sticky hands plus an empty gel pack that you have to carry or stash until the next trash bin. You can fit up to 7 gels into the bottle which should be all I need for the race (if I'm lucky), along with my egg and my PB cookie sandwiches and my sports drink.

I felt strong after the brick but I gotta admit that Sunday night I hit the wall around 9:15 p.m. and was happy to see my bed soon after that.

I'm happy with my progress so far. Yes, I believe I can fly (maybe not fast, but hey, who watches birds with a stopwatch anyway).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking Care of Business: 8 weeks until blastoff

Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO) was a sort of bubble gummish rock group that had a couple of hits, and IMO if they had found a better lead guitarist, they would have been a much better band. But you can't deny the fact that their song "Taking Care of Business" has a pretty strong backbeat and thus it has made my iPod jogging songs list. You just gotta get past the cheesy words.

I'm less than 8 weeks out from my 70.3. This means my workouts are getting longer, harder and there is, yes, some suffering involved (Chrissy Wellington, a Kona champion and one of my idols, said in an interview once that yes, training for winning does involve some suffering. Well, yes).

Saturday was a delightful brick, not because of the brick itself (2 hour bike followed by 30 min run) was delightful, but because for the first time in weeks the weather let me get outside. A bit on the breezy side, but sunny and warmish. I was pleased to notice my bike speed for the 2 hours was 15.1 average and I was trying hard to go slowly. Followed this up Sunday with a 7 mile easy run (note to self: now matter how hard you try, 7 miles is never gonna be totally easy. There was some suffering involved) that pushed me a bit since I was tired from the day before, and a delightful southwest wind was knocking me around a lot during the entire run. Then after I caught my breath, I went to the pool for 20 50 yard sprints. Yes, I am doing this for fun. I remember that.

I feel quite confident that I am going to finish this race, although the cutoff times still worry me inside that head space labeled 'worry about these things.' If there is a strong strong wind on race day (in Galveston, chances are about 93.43 percent there will be a strong strong wind from the southeast, unless it's a strong strong wind from the southwest) I worry that biking into it will fatigue me to a point that I can't recover sufficiently to go hard enough to make time. But I will worry about that tomorrow.

I'm starting to try to plan a bit in detail for the race; I've made hotel reservations, my bike gear is in good order, I've planned nutrition (mostly) for race day, and I've visualized the race in my mind several times. I've seen the run course so I know what to expect there; I've also seen a small part of the bike course. The swim still concerns me --not the swim itself, but the beginning of it as I'm very fuzzy on the details about the swim start (I know it's a deep water start, and I've seen photos of the start areas, but I'm not sure how you GET to the start line since I hear that the bottom of the bay is full of oyster shells that will cut your feet so no wading out--I think you enter the water from the pier, but I don't know if you climb down ladders or dive in, and if so, how and where do you warm up and get back out afterwards--or is that not permitted? These kind of little things can drive me nuts not knowing about them).

Patient Spouse was kind enough to buy me a gel squeeze bottle this weekend (Valentine's Day gifts for athletes are soooo romantic. OK, he did get me flowers, too). I managed to shoot gel into my hair, my bike and my sunglasses this weekend by squeezing a gel pack a bit too hard and the remainder of the bike plus the follow up run was a bit, well, sticky. If I can find ROOM for the gel bottle in the back of my jersey (it won't fit in my fuel belt which carries a water bottle, phone, and gummies, and has always been able to carry 2 flat gel packs), it looks like it might be less messy than gels, and it keeps me from having to carry a used gel pack around until I find a trash station. I plan to try it out on my 3 hour bike this weekend (please let the weather cooperate!).

Tonight's a spin class with Barbarian Bob, who will fill me in on all the Grammy award details that as an old rock n roller, I happened to miss....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Time Is On My Side

I am one of those that think the Rolling Stones were the greatest rock band of all time (yes, eclipsing the Beatles and the Who), if you could stand to watch Mick Jagger, that is. To this day I have problems watching him prance around the stage in a grown up version of hot pants, but if I close my eyes (which I did back in 75, the year they came to the Texas Cotton Bowl and it was so hot everyone fainted anyway), the music they make is rockin'. Put on Jumpin' Jack Flash and try NOT to dance.

I am officially (well, on Wednesday) two months away from my 70.3. This means the countdown has begun. There will be some suffering between now and then, no doubt about it, as I need to ramp up me and my workouts to a higher, stronger, faster, level (and surely the Olympic creed isn't trademarked?). I'm still very slow on the bike and I swear some days that with every ride I get slower. I was doing 15 mph average last summer and suddenly it's taking all I got to hit 14 mph average. OK, I am riding more hills and longer rides, but the brain doesn't process that kind of information. It just says YOU ARE FREAKING SLOW.

My running is definitely slower; I finished my half marathon on the 29th in 2:31 gun time, my slowest half ever, and I didn't feel like I was running all that slow (my fastest half was 2:21, but trust me, ten minutes is a big difference in a race). It was a good race, great weather and hardly any wind--my kind of conditions--but I just couldn't get the feet to go any faster than they did. I was pleased mostly with my nutrition but I think I didn't hydrate enough. I carried my own bottle and sipped from it and it was a warmer day than expected and I should have partaken of the water/gatorade offered at the many aid stations as well (although they never seemed to be at a location where I was taking a walk break, and I can get kinda obsessed about not taking walk breaks until the clock says TAKE ONE). Still, although slower, my running form has improved and my distance ability has improved--I had plenty left in my tank after the 13.1 miles, although my legs didn't necessarily agree with that idea.

My swimming is much better; I am so much more confident in the water and swimming a wee bit faster than I used to swim all the time now--instead of 3 minutes to do 100 yards I can now swim a 2:45 100 at an easy pace, and swim an even faster 100 at a moderately fast pace. I am not worried about the swim time so much as I am about (a) inhaling half of the Gulf of Mexico, and then disgorging it later at inappropriate times and locations and (b) high waves, smackdowns with other swimmers, and freaking out mentally in the water.

So. The bottom line--ain't it always the bottom line?--is in the next 2 months I have to work very hard to improve my bike and run times and distances (especially the bike) along with brick work and other fun and interesting throw up opportunities. Yesterday after all the snow and ice from last week (I never missed a workout, although the runs were all done on the Dreadmill), I actually got outside on the bike for a couple of hours. There was a little ice left on shady streets where I had to gear down and glide with my heart up where my helmet is at, and the north wind was blowing a pretty cruel rip that tore me up on the north Los Rios hills, but it was so good to be outside again for a change that I actually didn't mind all that. I was hoping for a bit faster ride than 14.1 mph average for 30 plus miles, but with the ice, snow, lights, stop signs and north wind in my face, it just didn't happen. I know in my heart if you take out all the stopping and slowing I have to do on the streets of northeast nowhere that I'm actually posting better times, but of course the only time I think of looking at my computer is when I'm battling a slight uphill into the howling wind and seeing 12.1 mph and therefirescreaming to myself THIS IS AWFULLY SLOW. I rarely glance at it when the wind is at my back and I'm humming along on the flats or downhill because hey, who cares then? :-)

I worked very hard my last 3-4 workouts to be sure I'm putting 100 percent of me into them--there can be no slacking the next 60 days. I realize an easy ride or easy run means EASY--you can't just go all out all the time--but when it's not easy, I can't back off. The start line is coming soon. I will be ready for it.

And a final shout out to my Packer fan friends--the Pack is back!