Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
- The emphasis will be on bike fitness. This translates to: no more lollygagging on the bike! Cycling is my limiter and after reading my new texts, I have learned it's not my run in need of help, it's actually my cycling fitness. Superior strength and endurance on the bike is the key to a strong run.
- Add strength training to the equation. Time to bite the bullet - no more avoiding the weight room. Weight training builds strength - strength that has huge payoffs on the bike (there's that cycling thing again). It is highly recommended for females, veterans, novices and cycling-limited athletes.
- Get more sleep. Ironman training is tiring enough, no need to push myself into the wee hours to read, watch TV or spend more time with my husband and the cat. If I stop working late, there are more than enough hours in the day. And TV is boring anyway... new rule: I will watch TV only if I'm on the treadmill or bike trainer or strength training.
- Train smart. In the past, I have often been a victim of overtraining. This year I will learn what "easy" means, I will learn how to rest, and my workouts will focus on building efficiency, endurance and durability.
- Learn to relax. I will teach myself how to sleep before my races by eliminating anxiety.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
My 2009 triathlon season is, thankfully, over. By the time I got to Clearwater, my motivation was at a low for this year, and I was beginning to dread the starting line. So, including motivation, I have quite a bit to work on for next season. Learning to sleep the night before a race is now a big priority. Regaining my run speed is also on the list -- perhaps a spring marathon is in the cards. I'll also be working with different fueling regimes because none of what I did this year worked perfectly. 2010 will be a year of new techniques and refinement -- and a new age group. But for now, I'm taking a rest.
(Photos by Jim DeBonis)
Friday, October 30, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I'm switching gears - from triathlete to geek. As a web marketer for a zoo, I'm always looking for the best way to approach online marketing. And, because we don't sell a tangible product (we sell an "experience"), social media and networking have provided a great outlet for interacting with our audience (I've even noticed people will ask questions on Facebook and Twitter before thinking to look up the answers on our website). While learning about social media tools and searching and reading social media sites, I noticed a trend: the LISTS. Social media gurus are all about "top 'N'" lists... amused at the number of lists, and the number of "numbers," I started bookmarking them. And now I have my own list - a sort of list of lists.
It's in numerical order:
- One Social Media Site You May Not Know (only one?)
- 2 Social Media Marketing Failures
- 3 Social Media Measurement Tools
- 4 Reasons Social Media Marketing Fails
- There were many top 5s, here are two:
- 6 Social Media Myths
- 7 Ways to Approach Twitter
- 8 Social Media Sites for Local Networking
- 9 Social Media Aggregators to simplify your life online (having 9 sounds complicated)
- There were lots of top 10s, here are a few:
- Top 11 guidelines for using social media by IBM
- Top 12 Twitter Video Tutorials on Web
- 13 Enlightening Case Studies of Social Media in the Classroom
- 14 social media and marketing podcasts worth listening to
- There was more than one top 15:
- 16 High Resolution Social Media Bookmark Logos and Icon Sets
- The Future of Shopping? 17 Social Shopping Sites
- Top 18 Social Media Resources for Developers
- 19 Social Media Tips Under 140 Characters
- AND: 20 Social Media Tips Under 140 Characters
- But Seriously: In Pictures: 20 Social Media Blunders
- 21 Traffic Triggers for Social Media Marketing
- Believe it or not, there were even two top 22s (who'da thunk?)
- 22 DoFollow Social Media Sites Offering Profile Links
- The 22 Step Social Media Marketing Plan (that's a LOT of steps)
- The 23 Types of Social Media Users (omg, there are 23???)
- And that's where it ended... all the way up to... you guessed it, 41!
- 41 Top Tips To Growing Your Social Media Presence
- 42 Top Social Media Tips And Tools
- And I gave up, but I did find a Top 100 (well, top 100"+"):
- 100+ Resources to Boost Your Social Media Savvy in 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Asics Gel Lyte Ultra: one of the lightest training shoes I ever wore, it had the most comfortable tongue of all time (it was hard-wired to the flaps) - this shoe came out when the Gel Lyte series version number was "3" and there was no "Asics DS" series:
Asics Gel Lytespeed: almost a racing flat with lots of cushioning and very little tread, and in neon colors, another very comfortable tongue design - the "split tongue" which was more like extra padding along the flaps - I ran my first Boston Marathon in these shoes:
Monday, September 21, 2009
It was our last day in Pisa and my last chance to ride before we left for three days in London. To avoid a repeat experience, I asked the hotel front desk clerk for another shop in Pisa that rents bikes. To my surprise, he suggested I go back to the original rental guy, and, get this, that rental guy has "plenty of bikes" in the "shop." Oh, NOW you tell me. I marched out, determined to get what I wanted this time, because the day before I had found a great place to ride -- a trail along the old Roman aqueduct that led to the mountains. Those mountains would be my first destination.
I walked down the street and around the corner... only to find that bike rental guy was not even set up yet. I waited on the corner for about half an hour... then watched for another half hour while rental guy brought out each and every multiple-person Surrey bike (thanks to Google, I now know what they're called). And just as he finished putting up his display, two soon-to-be bikers jumped at the chance and got there right in front of me. As I walked up, they were haggling about something... rental guy looked up... ah, recognition: "How can I help you today?" I said "I want a REAL mountain bike, not THAT one" -- I pointed to my previous bike and continued: "you know, so I can ride up a MOUNTAIN" -- I pointed toward the mountains (I think). He said "you, come with me." The couple in front of me followed us. He led us to the shop and behold, there they were: scooters and mountain bikes... a veritable playground of two-wheeled vehicles. So THIS was it. The couple gets first pick. Then he wheels one out for me -- oh no, not another Bottecchia. I wondered: is Bottecchia is the Huffy of Italy? Where were all the Bianchi bikes? For cryin' out loud.
But again, time was short and I didn't want to argue. Besides, this one actually LOOKED like a real mountain bike. You MUST be kidding -- this mountain bike had its OWN rental rates: €13 for six hours. Come on, rental guy, cut me a break. No deal. I handed him €13 and my drivers license this time. It was 10:51 a.m. -- he said "I give you deal, I mark it 11 a.m." Big whoop. I grabbed the bike and got on my way, adjusting the seat when I was out of sight.
I found my way to the trail and I rode. Despite low air in the tires, the bike felt surprisingly good and shifted well. I rode to a little town called Asciano, built into the side of a mountain. I rode up the first hill I saw. It was so steep I thought I would do a wheelie and flip the bike over backward. Not good. I turned around. Half way down, I realized there were no back brakes -- not "worn" back brakes -- NO back brakes. Why didn't I check?? I ground the front brakes to a halt and got off the bike. Sure enough, the back brakes were broken. I put on my bike maintenance hat... I tried to remember how mountain bike brakes worked -- I just had to pop the the cable in the slot, right? Not so easy. I couldn't do it. I loosened the back wheel -- ah, that did it. Disaster averted, and I was on my way. But not before I learned that my dad wasn't the only pissed-off Italian man behind the wheel. One angry driver let me know how he felt about stopping in the road. Even though he was the only driver ON the road.
I rode down to the main drag and saw signs to Lucca. New plan: I would ride to Lucca and find a mountain or two on the way. The road to Lucca was perfect for cycling -- so perfect that there were groups of bikers decked out in their fancy bike outfits on the same route. I knew I had found THE place to ride. I rode through a nice town called San Giuliano Terme. When I reached Lucca (about 14 miles), I had found no mountain roads, so I turned around and went back the same way. I passed that first little town of Asciano and kept going, still hoping for a mountain workout. When I reached the town of Calci, there were signs that read something like "vista panoramico" and "Monte Serra." My correct assumption: there was a mountain called Monte Serra with a great view at the top. I followed the signs.
I rode up. And up. I stopped to get water (one great thing about Italy is the water fountains everywhere). I filled my water bottle and continued. Up and up, and up and up. I saw riders coming down. Lots of riders. I mused to myself that I had found the Italian equivalent of Everett Road hill in the Cuyahoga Valley. But it just kept going. I stopped to take photos of the scenery. I saw a sign that the summit was about 12k away... time was tight and I wanted to be back before Jim got out of his conference. I decided to turn around. But I rode to a point where I could get a photo of how high I was. Vista panoramico. I snapped a few photos, took in the view, and headed down... down down down down... I watched the road bikers fly by. I smiled. I found a mountain and all was good.
I finished the ride along the aqueduct and back to Pisa. My watch said just over four hours. Rental guy asked me if I was done. I nodded - he handed me my license. He asked me how the bike was. I said "good - you might want to put some air in the tires." For some reason, I felt no need to mention the brakes.
On the way back to the hotel, I saw a street vendor selling something familiar. Gatorade. And in my favorite flavor: Arancia!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
I used to look forward to training while on vacation. Back in the old days... when I was a marathon runner and nothing else. Vacations were easy back then. I didn't worry about finding an ocean, lake or pool to swim in, and I wasn't frantically Googling where to rent a road bike in a non-English-speaking country. All I needed was a pair of running shoes, shorts and a singlet -- my ticket to see the world. Even in the winter. I've run in almost every city I've traveled to. I've seen Paris, Rome, and London at times when most tourists are sleeping. I've gotten lost in Pittsburgh (easy to do) AND New York (next-to-impossible). I've run along Lake Geneva in Switzerland. I've run up a mountain in Scotland. I've run in the Hollywood Hills. I've run in violent wind storms in Brighton, England (see photo), and Chicago. I've stopped along the waterfront trail to admire starfish in Monterey Bay. I've gotten up at 4 a.m. to run in Houston in the summer. And because I AM the disaster magnet, I've even tripped and fallen over road construction barriers in Dublin, Ireland.
So, you ask: why don't I just pack my running shoes and stop complaining? It's simple: because I'm in training for an Ironman 70.3 in November. This is no time for a break. In fact, it's exactly the opposite -- it's time for hard training. How does a triathlete train hard in a foreign country on a limited budget? Your guess is as good as mine. I've scoped out beaches and bike shops in Italy. I've packed clothes for all three sports. I've looked up alternative workouts for swimmers without water and bikers without hardware. And tomorrow, I enter the realm of vacation training.
I will report back on my successes, failures and lessons learned. My one consolation is that I may come out of it with a faster run leg. And some new stories to tell. Hopefully not disaster stories.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The temperature finally hit 90 degrees in Cleveland -- just as I was beginning to think hot weather training would never happen this year. When I saw the forecast for Sunday -- over 90 and humid -- I did what all crazy triathletes do: planned a brick, a bike-run workout. There are several explanations for why they call it a brick (Google it), but my personal favorite is "Bike-Run-ICK!" For some reason, bricks don't feel quite the same unless my running shoes are making squishy sounds after 10 minutes off the bike.
My training this year has been severely lacking in long brick workouts, which might explain why my legs feel massively fatigued when I start the run leg of my races. But today, I realized why I've not been doing bricks regularly. I JUST don't enjoy running off the bike unless it's ridiculously hot. Call me insane, but it just doesn't FEEL right.
Today's ride was not only hot and humid, but fast. I rode my usual 2-hour loop, starting out fast but not trying to break any records. My goal was to get my cadence up by remaining in my small chain ring for the entire ride. It was very windy, but I felt like I was riding into the wind no matter what direction I was going. With about 45 minutes left in my ride, I got passed by a group of three guys, and I decided to try to hang behind them as long as I could (without drafting). Once I got my legs spinning fast, I was able to hold between 23-25 mph for most of the rest of the ride. The guys -- Joe, Jared (Jerrod?), and Lee -- were great fun to ride with. Joe was heading into a taper for Ironman Louisville in three weeks. At the first red light stop, they encouraged me to hang with them. I had the most fun riding I've had in years (maybe because of the companionship, maybe because of the speed, I don't know).
I finished the 40 mile (very hilly) ride with an average well over 19 mph and feeling very confident in my ability to ride faster without giving up my run speed. That has always been the question: how do I get faster on the bike without building massive leg muscles that will hinder my run?
Unlike the ride, my run today was more like a death march. I asked my husband to crack the whip on me because my motivation has been so low lately. He rode his mountain bike with me to carry water and gatorade during my run. I always feel guilty asking him to do that -- like I'm breaking the runners' code of ethics. I once read that you should never ask your spouse to be your waterboy, or girl (although Jim was born on the exact same day as Adam Sandler, so maybe that's why I do it?). Anyway, I wonder if the triathlete code of ethics allows it? I sure hope so -- I don't think I could get through these hot, humid workouts without him, and it helps me simulate race conditions. Jim is so much more than my water carrier -- he is an integral part of my racing: my bike mechanic, my travel coordinator, my psychologist, my cheering section, and my best friend. And I hate that he sometimes has to pick up the pieces of a wasted me after poor performances.
But today, he was also a slave driver, as he did not let me quit running after 20 minutes ("you said 40 minutes, you'll do 40 minutes"). Thus begins my training for that race in Clearwater in November.
(the photo is the sweat stain I left on my driveway after my workout)
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The middle of 2009 has been an act of desperation, and I'm not expecting much to change in the latter half. The next few months will involve quite a bit of juggling with my training because of work and vacation. To get through it with my sanity, I'm already planning for next year leading up to Ironman Lake Placid, to which, by some miracle, I managed to get an online entry before it sold out.
For the record, I only have one specific race left, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida, on November 14. It's a race I didn't expect to qualify for and one I haven't even officially "registered" for yet (registration doesn't happen until later this month, assuming no disasters like losing the password they gave me). That gives me at least three full months of training if I start next week.
Three full months... with obstacles. In September, I'm taking a 10-day vacation to Italy and London. Oh, sure, running is a definite during this trip -- hopefully some great hot-weather training. But swimming and biking will be a little sketchier. I have grandiose plans to rent a bike and see the countryside AND swim in open water, perhaps the Mediterranean? The photo above is of a beach near Pisa, Italy, where we will be spending several days. So, apparently, there IS water (but why is there no one in it?).
If things don't go as planned, I still have the end of September and all of October to regroup on the bike and in the water, right? Obstacle number two: most of October will require long days at work for my employer's annual 8-day Halloween event, "Boo at the Zoo."
When I was younger, I could juggle all of this and even excel when the deck was stacked. I'd like to say I can still stay focused and motivated, but right now, all I see are long days ahead and quite a bit of decision-making and acceptance of a sub-par performance in November. I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Steelhead takes place in Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful setting for a race, but I wouldn't describe the course as "fast," mainly due to rolling hills on the bike and run, wind, and a severe lack of crowd support. I've done Steelhead three times, probably more because of the location (driving distance) than anything else and the fact that I get to hang out with my good friend Mickey Rzymek who volunteers his time to support many of the Ironman races (and for some reason, it's easier to see him at races even though he lives close-by). Steelhead also has a great post-race spread by Pizza Hut, and who can argue with THAT?!
In 2003, the first year of the event, it served as a qualifier for age groupers to get into a full Ironman event. That year, I was still recovering from a bike accident in May, and I was trying, as usual, to get something out of my season after missing most of it from the injuries. I managed to win the overall women's race at Steelhead and got a slot in Ironman Florida that year, only to drop out of Florida from heat stroke on the run and subsequently give up triathloning for 5 years.
Last year, 2008, I decided to go back to Steelhead, only to realize it had become a HUGE event - someone told me it is the largest of the Ironman 70.3 races. That year, the swim was canceled due to high surf and I had a less-than-stellar race to finish 4th in my age group (40-44). But I still went back, and THIS year, the water was relatively calm and the day started out sunny and in the 60s.
The event had to compress space this year because of construction of a golf course where the parking lot - and the transition zone - used to be - in a nice square lot that provided ample space. This year, the transition was moved to a spot that had much less space and was very long and narrow. The result? Thousands of bikes had to be crammed on racks leaving almost no space between racks to run (with OR without your bike), and very little space between bikes to layout your stuff. Athletes also had to run a long distance from entrance to exit. It was a disaster in the making, for everyone.
I came out of the water third in my wave - knowledge acquired thanks to Jim and a race official who shouted "third white cap!" But the full impact of having a good swim and being in the 5th wave didn't occur to me until I exited the water and arrived at the transition zone (to avoid being a nuisance in T1, I took off my wetsuit on the way in). Upon entering, I noticed there were very few people in transition, and things were still in a state of relative non-disturbance. By the time I finished the bike leg, the place looked like it was hit by a tornado. I had to swerve to avoid running over wetsuits, shoes, goggles, Clif Bars, bottles, AND PEOPLE who were sitting down. Lord knows how many people got hit and how much stuff was lost or destroyed. I never heard so much frustration voiced by athletes before, during and after the race. Unfortunately, the only thing for the race organizers to do would be to limit the number of race entries -- there really was NO other place to put the transition zone.
The bike leg started out calm and cool, but by the time I finished, the wind had picked up quite a bit. I spoke with pro triathlete Andy Potts after the race and he noted the wind was increasing at a rate of 4 mph PER hour, which meant that the people in the last waves were in for quite a ride. And the finishers who came in after 1 pm were treated to a driving rain as well. Although I avoided the rain, there was a constant headwind from about mile 40 to the finish for me. My average speed was up over 21 mph for the first half of the race, but once I hit that headwind, it rapidly decayed. The wind had gotten so strong that it also became a factor on the run. Surprisingly, I saw very few people on the bike leg. Three women in my wave passed me. I eventually re-passed one of them who was having problems with her bike. When that happens, I always feel a twinge of sorrow (even if it puts me ahead) - but equipment upkeep is the fourth leg of triathlon. I said a thankful prayer that my bike-mechanic husband helps my bike (and me) get to the starting line in top shape.
After pushing the bike leg harder than usual (part of my strategy), my run never really took off. I knew there were at least four women in my age group in front of me. I thought I could catch them because I started out feeling ok, but after the first mile and its large hill, I felt like I never had any "pickup." It could also have been fallout from running hard in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The run goes through the Whirlpool Headquarters "campus" and has very little shade, but the support stations are great and provided us with ice, sponges, and sprinklers! I started to feel some stomach discomfort around mile 6 and expected to have to stop at a port-a-john, but I just plugged away, walking the water stops and trying to keep my miles under eight minutes. I caught several women in my age group, the last one around mile 8 or 9 (I think) -- my hope was that she was dying harder than I was. The saving grace of the Steelhead run is that the last two miles are flat or downhill, and that carries you to the finish line. At that point I looked at my watch and became desperate to get in under 5 hours - which I did (barely). My time? 4:59:21. When Jim said he thought I won my age group, I was incredulous to say the least. My time seemed hardly worthy of that. But indeed, it was true. I won my age group and landed a slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida, in November. One last chance to reap something from this season before I hit a new age group next year.
Friday, July 31, 2009
But the tri season this year has felt like a desperation exercise for me ever since Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June. Finding races taking entries that don't conflict with events at work has been a challenge. So here I find myself robbing my body of needed recovery time in order to lend meaning to my triathlon season before it ends.
The only way to approach the race cram is to learn something from the experience. Will I be able to push my 44-year-old body through 13.1 miles after a hard 56-mile bike? Tomorrow I will know the answer. I have high hopes after last year's two half-iron distance races only eight days apart. Surprisingly, my run in the second one was five minutes faster. But that was eight days of recovery. And I was one-year younger. Stay tuned.
Monday, July 27, 2009
- Was 5 weeks enough time to recover from an ironman?
- What's the big deal if I finish second?
- Is it time to accept the inevitable? (that at my age I won't be winning any races)
- How can I expect to hold this pace even if I pass her?
- If I do catch her, how will I feel when I die and she passes me at the finish line?