Friday, June 11, 2010

It's not just about the training

After spending 7 months training for the Ironman, I've come to realize that it's not just about the training. It's also about the hell I'm putting my body through.

At the beginning of training, I had some trouble with my right foot. I saw a podiatrist who diagnosed Morton's Neuroma and gave me a cortizone shot. Then, I had to get orthotics for my running shoes.

The orthotics helped but I'm still not 100%. However, I'll take the 80% I'm at right now.

Luckily, I've had no problems with IT bands or my knees. But a few months ago, I realized that my right shoulder blade was painful. I visited my massage therapist and she was unable to get the knot out of the muscles. So I broke down and visited a chiropractor. For the past 3 weeks, my chiropractor has been trying to get my back adjusted. Each visit, he tries to get my muscles to relax and adjusts my back. I feel like crying each time. I have more range of motion in my neck and back, but now I find another problem.

I've worked very hard on my swimming and now I have bursitis in my shoulder. All I need to do is hold on for 2 more weeks. Now, I'll probably visit another doctor and have a cortizone shot just so I can get through this relatively pain-free.

So, while I've been putting my body through hell, it's been slowly falling apart, too.

Or is it just that I'm 43?

Monday, May 10, 2010


I was more nervous for the Kinetic Half Ironman than I've ever been for a race.

Race morning, I felt rushed getting transition set up. I thought I had lost my socks, I couldn't find my water bottles to fill up my aero bottle, I barely made it out of transition before they kicked everybody out.

Swim: The first 500 yards are the hardest for me. I take the strokes very slowly, but I still find myself going on my back a lot and breast stroking in places. Once I turned the corner, however, I finally got into my rhythm and cruised in. My watch said 45 all-time PR for me! I found out later that the buoys had been blown short, but it was still a fast time.

T1: Had some trouble zipping up my bike jersey. Spoke with Donna and we were surprised at how fast we had swam.

Bike: Had my bike in its easiest gears because the first part of the bike course is straight uphill. Made it onto the course and was by myself for a long time, it seemed. Finally, the fastest people started passing me. Then I started passing people, who in turn leap frogged me. The winds started up. At one point, I was going 5 MPH DOWNHILL, the wind was blowing me so hard. It was hard to stay safe, especially with all the trucks and boats on the road. I was kind of hoping for a mechanical failure so I could just stop because I was getting more and more tired and going slower and slower. I would tell myself, just go 10 more miles, then see how you feel. When I got to 50 miles, I couldn't stop, so I kept going, just 6 miles more. It felt like the course was all uphill with a head wind.

I rode into transition and was stopped by a race official, who took my chip. Walter was there with me and we both told her that I could finish the race in the 2 hours and 45 minutes that were left. I only had to go 13 miles in 2:45. Surely, I could do that, even with lots of walking.

No dice, she said. These were race director's orders. I had never heard of this before in such a small race. On the race website, it said you had to be done in 8 hours, but there was no mention of a bike cut-off. I looked at Walter and he said, "just run without a chip." So, I took off my bike shoes, racked my bike, and put on my running clothes.

I ran the first lap very slowly. Well, I walked a lot of it. I did get to talk to lots of people, one who mentioned that this was a "death march." After the first loop, I decided to keep going. After the second loop, I was done. Walter and Alex ran in with me and I stopped short of the finish line chute. Four miles short of a half ironman.

This was supposed to be a training run, so lessons learned: I need more time on my bike. Even though it was so windy, I could probably have gone harder. I need more time running. I managed to run at least half the time, but I think I was so shot from the bike that that made it even more difficult. My swimming is coming along great. It's become my favorite part. This is good and bad: good because I was the most afraid of swimming, and bad because it's the shortest part of the race.

After the "race" I felt so bad I didn't even want to stay for my massage that I'd signed up for. I just wanted to go home. So I slept on the way home, took a shower and then a nap, dinner, then bed by 9 pm on Saturday.

My first real DNF.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heavy training weekend

Only 61 more days till CDA!!! If I were counting down the days till vacation, that would seem like forever. It seems like it's in a few weeks, instead. Will I have trained enough? Will I have a good plan for nutrition? Will I be able to do it? I'm so nervous already. The International tri I did in Rumpass only made me more nervous, instead of calming my fears.

This week was a heavy training weekend. I had a one-mile swim in a master's swim meet on Friday. That was easier than I thought it would be. Mom, Dad, Walter, Melissa and Alex came to cheer me on. Mom was shocked that she was watching me at a swim meet. I was not an athletic kid. I seeded myself at about 45 minutes and finished in about 32 minutes. Not bad. The middle laps are a blur, but I do remember hearing mom yell, "Swim fast!"

So arms and chest are tired, but time for bed. Next morning, up for a run. Team Z is doing a 4 mile hash run (which are so fun) so I had to get in more miles before the 10 am start. Started out at Crystal Thai restaurant, got on the trail and headed west. The first 4 miles out were pretty rough. Thank goodness for tunes because it kept my mind off how much it sucked. Turned around at mile marker 6, stopped by the masonic temple meeting room to use their bathroom and the next 4 miles flew by. I could have run all day at that pace. I didn't even want to stop. Joined the team and started our hash run. I was running with Masaki; the lead runners were out of sight, I think the sag runners took a short cut and Masaki and I got lost. We couldn't even follow the trail right. Thank goodness we found the W&OD trail; we got on there and made our way back. Had a fun lunch at El Paso Cafe with 19 other team members.

Sunday morn, up early to drive out to Harwood, MD. Did 48 miles on my road bike, hopefully for the last time. I tried out a few tri bikes on Friday and I'm ready to make the purchase. I'm hoping I'll be a bit faster, especially uphill, but I'm also hoping the bike will fit me better and I won't have such sore shoulders and neck after long rides.

I was so tired last night. Thankfully, Mom made traditional Sunday dinner and we got to join her. Mmm, pasta, meatballs and salad. Delish! I was exhausted when I got home. Took some Advil and was in bed by 10 pm.

Today, I feel refreshed. I'm not so tired, but I sure am grateful for a recovery week. Although, as Es and I joked around at a pit stop yesterday, we took all our recovery weeks already. I don't have any time for recovery. Only 61 more days till CDA!!!

Next race is Half Ironman distance in 2 weeks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rumpass in Bumpass Race Report

On my schedule for my training is an international distance triathlon as my first race. That's 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K race. The last time I ran an int'l distance was the Austin Triathlon in 2007. Back then, it was the end of the season and I was about 15 pounds lighter. But now, I am more comfortable in the water and I have a race plan to stay in zone 2 the whole time as a training run for Ironman.

We got to the race site early enough to have breakfast with the team, which was great. Then I went to body marking and got marked up all over. I went to rack my bike, and somebody told me my bike was on the wrong rack. "No, I'm number 54." "Your bike says 57." Whoops!! I accidentally told them the wrong number, so I had to spray sunscreen all over the numbers and they wiped right off. Numbers on, transition set up, wetsuit on (this should be an event in itself), and I looked at the swim course. I could barely see the first buoy! But I was trying not to psych myself out.

The race starts. First of all, it was so windy. The waves were hitting me every time I tried to breathe. I was kicked a bunch of times and went off course a bunch of times. I had to lay on my back a few times to catch my breath.

These were my thoughts during the swim: I cannot finish this. What if I just stop right now? I can't stop now; what will I do for Ironman? I can't do an Ironman. Relax, I'm in the water and I'm lying down. I love Lake Anna. I've swam here as a kid. We are the only ones lucky enough to be in the water today. There is no way I can finish this. This sucks. I can't even see the buoys. I'm not even on course. I'm almost done. I'm zen swimming. I'm going to finish. Yippee!! That was tough.

T1, no probs. Last bike on my rack, no prob. Joined the race while most others cyclists are on the second leg of their bike. shoom, shoom, shoom, other racers pass me one by one, or in some cases, three by three. On my second loop, I'm pretty much alone and I don't pass a single person.

Come into T2 and see my family cheering section. Get on run course, it's great! Out and back so I get to see all the other runners coming and going. Keeping my heart rate in Z2 was awesome. I was never very fast, but I did pass a few people at the end. Kept running until I'm done!

Not a PR by a long shot, but a great start to tri season. However, instead of making me more comfortable about my races, it made me more scared. Only 3 weeks to prepare for a Half Ironman...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Heart Rate Training Works

One of my biggest problems with running has been that I have to take walk breaks to catch my breath. On Sunday, I was supposed to run 2 hours. I only had 1.5 hours so I had to make it count. I started off from my house and ran to Kings Park Shopping center, past Lake Braddock SS, turned right at Burke Centre Parkway, and then turned around at Wheaton Ave. I didn't have to stop once that whole time. I kept my heart rate right in the middle of zone 2, and I felt like I could have run all day. The only reason I did stop when I did is that I had to pee in the woods. I turned around, ran back towards Lake Braddock, made a right on Lake Braddock Road, and came home from Southampton. All told, it took me 90 minutes to run 8.1 miles. I think that if I hadn't had my heart rate monitor, I would have run the same amount, but I would have had to take more walk breaks.

My feet still hurt while I was running, but not as badly as they usually do. So I'm hopeful that the orthotics are working.

We're leaving for the Catskills Mountains tomorrow for some skiing. I plan on bringing my bike and running shoes, and swim suit, so I can keep up with my training.

When I first started this journey, Malinda said, "You really have to love the training because you never know what will happen on race day." I'd have to agree with her and I am loving the training.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aqua Jogging

After waking up this morning, my feet hurt so much I didn't think I'd be able to run 12 miles on them. So I figured that I'd go aqua jogging.

After breakfast with Frank, I went to Wakefield and got in the pool. I aqua jogged for TWO hours, listening to my iPod and trying to keep my heart rate in zone 2. I got the run done without hurting myself further.

I'm really looking forward to my orthotics coming in so I can start running outside for real.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We can't keep rodents in this house

When Melissa was about 6, she asked for a hamster. I told her she could have a small pet when she turned 10. Of course, she remembered this promise and as soon as she turned 10, she hounded me for a hamster. We got a cute hamster and named it Maxi. That winter, we moved to Virginia and brought Maxi with us. We lived with my parents and my grandmother was staying there, too. Nonni had her canary there. That canary woke up every morning and sang beautiful songs. However, since the canary was up during the day, singing, and Maxi was trying to sleep, Maxi died about 5 weeks after moving to Virginia. Soon, we moved into our own house and got a new hamster from PetCo. It died after 10 days. So we got another. She lasted about 15 days. We were done.

Last December, a friend was moving out of the area and needed somebody to keep her hamster. So we took her in. She lasted about 10 days before dying of something. It was very sad.

Finally, Alex is turning 10. He decided he wanted a guinea pig. He researched all about them and discovered that you should get 2 pigs because they like the company. So we said he could get on and Melissa would get one and they could live together. During the big snow storm, Alex built a cage, we rearranged his room, and he got ready for 2 new guinea pigs. Instead of buying one this time, we found 2 on craigslist that somebody was selling.

During school one Tuesday, I drove up to Gaithersburg to get these 2 female guinea pigs. The kids named them Peanut and Riley. Peanut was Alex's and she was black and tan. Riley was Melissa's and was white, tan, and brown. They were both really shy and hard to catch to play with. But Alex was determined to get Peanut to trust him. He spent time each day with her, trying to get her more comfortable. Melissa was pretty indifferent to Riley, but she played with her a bit.

Saturday night, we went to dinner and ice skating with friends. Melissa and Alex fell asleep on the way home and walked up to bed in trances. I laid down to sleep at around 10. About 5 minutes later, I heard screaming from Alex's room. I tore down the hall, screaming, Walter!!! I ran into Alex's room, and there was Kika, in the cage, with Peanut in her mouth. Bella was also in the cage and Riley was running around. I jumped in the cage and started screaming for Kika to drop Peanut. She did; I picked up kika and literally threw her out of the cage. Bella just jumped out on her own.

Walter ran up and we looked at Peanut. It didn't look good. We figured out that Kika had broken her back. Alex was still not fully awake at this time and didn't understand what was going on. We finally managed to wake him up and had to break the news that Peanut had died. Alex broke into tears. Walter and I both held him while he cried. We were supposed to go skiing the next day and Walter said we could stay home if Alex wanted to, but he could make that decision the next day. Alex slept with me that night and Walter slept in Alex's bed. The next morning, Alex was still sad, but I convinced him that we should still go skiing or we'd just sit around and be sad all day. That was the right decision.

Meanwhile, Melissa still had Riley and all the responsibilities that go with that.

Monday, Alex decided to clean out the cage, and make it smaller, as well. Melissa didn't really want to help him, so I asked her if she just wanted to give Riley to Alex. She said, yes. So Alex got a new pet and Melissa can pet her when she wants to.

Riley has become more trusting of Alex and will even eat out of his hand. We've decided not to get another for a while so Riley will have time to get attached to Alex.

So, we have had five rodents in the past year and they have all died. Let's hope Riley lasts longer than any of the others.