Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Been.....Interesting

This will be my last blog....at least for a while. Seems like there's really not much I have to say that interests others, and I've never written for myself, so I guess I'm about done.

This year has been a tough one for me and my entire family. Suffice to say, however, that God continues to be good and meet our needs.

I have realized--again--that there is way more to life than triathlon. It's fun, it's rewarding, but it has to be kept in perspective.

At this point in our lives, our children are a high priority. They are at an important age--we won't have them for much longer. My priorities now are my relationship with God, husband and family. Triathlon is only important to me because it is a goal on the road to trying to keep as healthy as possible. The older I get, and the more RA takes over, the harder this has become. But, I will continue to press on, doing the best I absolutely can.

My goals for 2010 are very simple (yet not easy): Stay strong, fight hard to lose 10-15 lbs., and Lord willing complete several triathlons next year. At this point, making it through the cold of winter will be the toughest challenge. My body is totally rebelling to the change in weather. I will do my best.

Jerry and I are thinking about moving to Arizona when Melissa finishes high school--that's about six years from now. I'll be over 60 and more than ready to get out of this cold weather. We will pray and work toward that goal, and hopefully it will happen.

I will still be on Facebook, although I have decided to be a little more discerning regarding "friends". That's all I'll say on that topic.

I pray everyone has a great holiday season and finishes the year strong. Thank you if you've followed me over the last 18 months or so. It's been very interesting.

God bless!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything's Relative and You Can't Always Get What You Want

I know, it's been a while. Spending too much time on Facebook, I guess. Have thought about a million things to write about, but I'll limit it to just a few.

October/November are interesting months if you're a triathlete. It's considered "ironman" season around here. OK, not so much "here", but many athletes from here are participating in iron distance races across the country: Wisconsin, Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona are the ones that come to mind, as I know people who have done/will do races in these states this year. Also, the 70.3 championship is in Clearwater on November 14th. As I said in a previous post, this is not the time of year for me to train outside. I did it for many years, believe me, and I loved it. But sometimes, you can't always have what you want.....

Which leads me to something I've wanted to share for a while. I have heard many triathletes make the comment that "anyone can do an ironman (or iron distance race) if they really want to." This statement is soooo not true. And, it is wrong for so many reasons. First of all, this takes away from those athletes who have completed this distance. Most triathletes know that an iron distance race is usually a life changing experience. It takes so much more than just swimming, biking and running to complete. There are so many other factors that influence an individuals ability to compete at this distance.

Many are limited by physical issues. For many, swimming is a huge issue. If you weren't a swimmer as a child, it can be very difficult to learn as an adult. Even people who have swam for years find open water to be very challenging. When you mix in the fact that most races are a mass start, well, for many that is a deal breaker. Some can learn to deal with this situation, but not everyone. I know people who are amazing swimmers, but the thought of swimming in open water with 2500 other athletes at the same time is mind boggling.

Some of us who are older and have been doing this a long time have other physical issues. Bad knees, backs, feet. Too many years pounding the pavement, running on hard surfaces. For some women, after having children our bodies are never the same. (I know, some women race even better after kids, but I believe those are "elite" athletes, and definitely the exception to the rule. I'm faster than I was in my 30's, but I was NOT FAST then.)

Family and career choices can also influence or limit completing this distance. Iron distance racing is very time consuming and very expensive. Those of us who have younger families know that we have to keep our priorities in order. My family will always come before my triathlon goals. Before kids, we spent a lot of time (and money) training and racing. I remember a couple years when Jerry and I would do a long bike ride on Saturday, and then run a race on Sunday. It was fun, but as your life and priorities change, so does your life style and life goals.

I consider myself very blessed to achieve what I have. I have had both my feet operated on (for plantar fasciitis, when they used to do that; would not do it again if I could do it over); one knee operated on once, and one knee has been scoped three times. I had a hernia operation after my second child was born. Two miscarriages, two D&C's. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2002, I did not think I would ever be able to ride or run again. In fact, several doctors told me to forget ever running--just be happy walking and swimming. And don't ever even consider trying a marathon again.

I have thought of a million more reasons, but I think you get what I'm trying to say. If everyone could run a 4 minute mile if they really wanted to........if everyone could swim across the English Channel if they really wanted to......if everyone could set a world record for the marathon if they really wanted to....well, we KNOW these things are not true.

My daughter is a club gymnast. She is near the level where many kids drop out of the sport, and I'm starting to understand why. Not everyone is BUILT PHYSICALLY to be a high level/elite gymnast. I see girls try really hard--never miss a practice, have special coaching, have amazing parental support, unlimited financial resources. But some of these girls will never get to the next level. They physically do not have the ability, for whatever reason. Some get injured over and over and have to stop so they don't ruin their bodies at age 11, 12, 13. Some realize there is more to life as a teenager than practicing 20-30 hours a week. The kids that make it are usually the ones that have not only the mental but also the physical ability to do so.

And on that same note, I'd like to address the topic of relativity. As I said, I feel very blessed to be where I am physically. So many people in my position are not able to do what I can. Yes, I am a very disciplined and driven person. But I believe God has blessed me with things other RA patients don't have. I have learned to be satisfied with any race or training effort. You know, it's really hard for me to read about women 10, 15, 20 years younger than me, complaining about how "slow" they ran in a race, or how their bike split sucked, or they just don't know why they can't swim faster than so-and-so. They are swimming, biking and running faster than 99.9 percent of people I know. You ladies need to get over yourselves. Be grateful that you have such amazing ability and have been blessed with that ability, determination and other things that make you so good at what you do.

I read a blog where the writer noted that being an ironman is not the same as being a hero. I COULD NOT AGREE MORE! Another blogger commented that while completing an ironman is an accomplishment, it does not, or shouldn't be as momentous as say, your wedding day, the birth of your children, finishing your degree, finding just the right career, etc. I AGREE!

I did not complete the one ironman I started, but I learned a lot about myself in that year. I don't know if or when I'll try again. But I do know that I am still a triathlete, I will continue in this sport as long as I'm physically able and am having fun. The minute it's not fun, I will re-evaluate why I do this. This is what I tell my daughter all the time about gymnastics. We will support you as long as you want; but when/if you're ready, you can stop anytime.

So, to those of you who have become an "ironman" this year--CONGRATULATIONS! And CONGRATULATIONS to allwho completed their first sprint (or any other distance) triathlon--you are a triathlete, and should be proud of your accomplishments. To those of you complaining about how slow you are--get over it--be grateful for what you can do.

(To those women who wrote the story in the New York Times about 6 hour marathoners--you ladies are major losers. What a horrible article. I'm so sick of the whole "you're not as fast as me so you can't possibly be on official marathoner" articles--get over yourself and keep those stupid opinions to yourself.)

On a personal note, I'm still trying to deal with the colder weather. The sun is out today, which always makes me feel better, regardless of the temperature. I've cut back on my training, hoping to give my body time to adjust to winter. I'm swimming about 4-5 times a week--swimming seems to be the thing that hurts my hips the most right now. Running/biking two to three times a week, and doing strength training 3-4 times. I'm really struggling with my weight/eating right now also. But......hoping/praying things will get better.

Good luck to everyone going to Florida, North Carolina, Arizona. Have a great time/race and consider yourselves blessed just to be there.

Until next time--God bless!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Already Cold

Today is October 13th, and we've had the heat turned on for about a week now. This is way too early, even for Chicago, to be this cold. Friday is our 27th wedding anniversary. The weather on October 16, 1982 was about 75 degrees, sunny and perfect. My parents were married on October 23rd, and it was a scorching 90 degrees. So, tell me some more about that global warming thing?!

Anyway, it has been a tough couple weeks for me with the cold weather starting. My rheumatoid arthritis is on a rampage now, my body is trying to adjust to the cold, damp weather. It really does a number on all my joints. Last week, my neck was really sore. It took we a while to realize it was just the RA in a flare up. Today I woke up with a horrible headache, and actually went back to bed for a couple hours (can't remember the last time I did something like that). If there were any way......I would be living in Arizona.

One thing I know--I will most likely never train for a race that takes place after early September. The change in the weather is too unpredictable, and my body would never be able to adjust. I really feel for those in the area training for iron distance races now. It would be next to impossible for me to be riding long outside in 30's and 40's. Heck, I ran 8 miles outside on Saturday in 45 degree weather and it was cold. Today is supposed to be 40, and while the sun is shining, it is windy and still too cold for my body. I will run inside on the treadmill.

I put my bike on my trainer last week. It will take me a couple weeks to get back to "love" riding inside again. The good part is I can catch up on TV/movies I otherwise would probably miss. Also, when the weather is really bad, I can ride inside early and not leave the house until later in the day. Makes it much easier.

Congratulations to all who ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday--it would have been a little cold for me, but I know it was much better than the heat of the last two years. The World Championship Ironman Triathlon was Saturday in Kona. It was great watching on the internet, although I didn't get to watch the people I know finish, due to the time difference. Looked to be a tough day, and everyone did a great job.

That's all for now. Hope everyone is enjoying fall--feels too much like winter to me.

Until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Drop Dead Diva.....Fat Like Me

It's been a while since I blogged. Every day I think of something witty I want to write, but then.....well, it just doesn't happen. But for the last 10 days or so I've had something on my mind and I want to get it off.

Let me start by saying that I DO NOT LIKE THE WAY I LOOK. I have ALWAYS thought I was too fat. Ever since I was 8 years old, I've always been the "chubby" one of the group. It's funny, because when I see pictures of myself at that age, I WAS NOT FAT! But, I guess everything is relative, and I know that I always felt fat.

When I was in 8th grade, I dated a great guy who was two years older than me. When I say he was great, I mean he was really HOT! All the girls were in love with him. I don't think anyone could understand why he liked me, since I was not what anyone would call a "babe". Anyway, we "dated" for almost three years. Then one day, he decided to dump me for a girl who was a year older than me. It was a very complicated situation. They got married right after she graduated, had two boys, and divorced. I haven't seen or heard from him in over 30 years, but I think about him a lot. He really liked me, did NOT think I was fat. He always told me I was beautiful, and I actually believed him. It was a long time before another man said those words to me.

So, this brings me to the TV show "Drop Dead Diva". It's a "chick" show on Lifetime Television on Sunday night. It's not going to win any awards, and it may only last this one season, but I really like it because of the basic premise: Hot, sexy, THIN, 20 ish blond model-type dies unexpectedly in a car accident. Through the magic of TV, she ends up in the body of a size 14, very bright attorney. It just so happens that her fiance gets a job at her law firm. What's really interesting to watch is how she adapts/adjusts to life in her new body. Her best friend--who is a young, blond, thin, model-actress and very ditsy--knows the truth, but no one else.

There are some very interesting stories, but I really liked the last two episodes. Jane saw an add for a dress that she really wanted. Of course, the boutique that carried the dress did not carry anything larger than a size 10. They treated her very rudely, and basically told her to leave because she wasn't the silhouette they catered to. She tried to sue the store. Although she didn't win the case, she was able to convince a stockholder (whose wife was a size 14 and couldn't shop in the store) that it was in the best "business" interest of the store to carry sizes for all women. The average women in this country wears a size 14, so you do the math!

The last episode centered around an attorney who really likes Jane and asked her out. Her mother put the idea in her head that the only reason he liked her was because she was "full figured". This had never occurred to Jane. She thought he liked her because he liked her. Turns out he likes her because she is beautiful, smart and sexy!

One of the best things about the show is for Jane to see what it's like to not be thin in the world we live in. When a person is heavy, he/she is treated differently than someone who is thin or not overweight. It is a fact of life, and no one can ever tell me differently. I have been there, and I see it all the time. People are much nicer to meet and more inclusive when I'm thinner than when I'm heavier. Yes, it is a cruel world out there. Kids are not the only mean people in the world. I wish it weren't so, but it is. A fact of life.

If you don't believe me, watch a movie called "Fat Like Me". A high school student needs to do a project to enter a contest for a college scholarship. She is a hot, thin, athletic blond. Her mom struggles with her weight, although now she has it under control. She remembers when her mom was heavy, and was very angry at the time. She decides to transform herself into a fat girl. She goes to summer school dressed in a fat suit, with her hair all messy, wearing glasses. Of course, all the guys that thought she was so hot now tease her to no end. She is befriended by one overweight, very sweet student.

Again, not the best movie ever made, but it shows how the real world treats people who are not only not beautiful, but fat. I'm so tired of hearing about racism in this country. Does it still exist, absolutely. But people are prejudiced toward a lot of things. My husband is Chinese, and when he was in grade school, he was teased, mocked and ridiculed mercilessly. There were not many Asians in the school system in the 60's, and if you were different, you were a walking target. It still exists today. You don't have to be from a different country or have different skin color. If you don't fit "the mold" then somehow people feel they have a license to treat you different (i.e. usually like garbage).

We have worked very hard to teach our kids that this is not acceptable. From what I see, it's worked. They are really good around the kids that are not popular, smart, or the most athletic. They understand the each person is special to God, and the golden rule is very important in our home.

So, as I once again struggle with the fact that I really don't like how I look, I try to remember that how I look IS NOT who I am. I am never going to be a size 4, heck, if I can get back to a size 8 I would jump off the roof with joy. But after 54 years on this earth, I need to accept myself the way I am. A very wise woman told me yesterday that I am healthy, fit, and to just get over my weight issues. I totally agreed with her. If only it were that easy.

So, the next time you see an overweight person, please don't assume that they are lazy, stupid, dumb, and don't care about the way they look. If you are blessed enough to have (or work hard at having) a great, fit body--good for you! Just remember, not everyone is in the same boat.

Until next time--God bless!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saving the Worst for Last

Yesterday was my final (5th) and longest (olympic) tri of the season. When I was planning my races, this was to be my "A" race, hopefully my best of the year. But as happens so many times, the best laid plans don't always work out.

I have been having major problems with my right piriformis, which in turn affects my hip, glute and hamstrings. But the hip/piriformis is by far the most troubling. It's something I have dealt with on and off for several years. It was even a little bit of a problem last year, but I don't remember it bothering me as much as this year. Maybe because I raced more often this year, as opposed to less but longer races last year.

Anyway, it was really bothering me on Thursday and Friday, so much that I contemplated not racing on Saturday. But, I knew I would be able to complete the race, so I decided I would head up there and try.

Waking up at 4:00 a.m., while not something I look forward to, is doable. But for this and one other race, wake up was 3 a.m. It's about a two hour drive to Niles, and they are on eastern time, so we also lose an hour. The race started at 7:30 our time.

Jerry drove, and we had a couple blips on the way there--we've been there 10 times, but still managed to miss a couple turns. We arrived about 15 minutes later than planned. I pre-registered, but packet pick up was a little crazy. There is race day registration, which adds to the chaos. They were also having a super sprint race in addition to the olympic, which means a lot of first time racers. I ended up "racking" my bike next to the garage building in the transition area (which is behind the fire station). It actually worked out nice, since I always seem to have trouble with those racks (me and my bike are small in height). Anyway, after a lot of crazy pre-race issues, the olympic race started--men in the first two waves, all women and relays in the third wave. The super sprint followed the olympic racers.

I wore my wet suit, and for the most part had a pretty uneventful swim. Sighting is hard on the way in because the sun is right in our faces, but I got out of the water in about 31 minutes. Not my best or worst time, but I was OK with it.

Coming out of T1 some young lady ran into me when I was mounting my bike. She felt really bad, I told her no worries, things happen. Have a good ride. The bike course is challenging--very little flat, mostly rolling with two tougher hills, one of which I had to get out of my saddle. I knew I wasn't riding as fast as I could--in fact, the first seven miles were really hard. I just wasn't feeling good. I realized later I had nobody to ride with to push me. I passed quite a few people, but no really good, fast riders. The last time I did this race I set a bike PR, and I was riding with a 35 year old woman for about 20 of the 25 miles (I dropped her at the big hill). I started feeling better after I had my gels around mile 11. I'm sure I negative split the course and what's funny is the two big hills are on the way back. I passed a 28 year old girl going up the hill--found out later she finished 2nd overall woman. (Our ages were marked on our calves.)

My bike time was really bad--somewhere between 1:14 and 1:15. (The race was not chipped time, so the splits are not really accurate as they include transition.) My time on the course in '07 was 1:09. Yikes, to say I was disappointed is an understatement. Plus, at Evergreen I rode 1:12. Oh well, it was time for the run.

As I was running out of transition, a lady passed me who I recognized--I remember her passing me in 2006 in the last mile of the run to finish 1st in our age group. Well, I figured if I was lucky I would get 2nd again this year, provided none of the others in my age group passed me on the run. I had no idea how many ladies there were, but I knew it wasn't a lot. (Turned out to be 5, I think.)

I had the worst 6.2 mile run of the entire year--I'm talking about since January, outside, treadmills, you name it. My stomach was fine--but my butt really hurt every time I took a step. At mile 2, I really wanted to stop. But, I knew I could finish. My original goal was to do under 2:50 (my time in 2007 was 2:39). After four miles, I knew this was not happening, so I decided under 3 hours would be good. I felt a little better at mile five, and two 40+ guys passed me and commented on my cycling abilities. Now I thought I could break 2:55. Final time was 2:54:19. When I was in my 30's, I would have loved to break 3 hours. But now, well, I was very disappointed, but knew that I did the very best I could.

I have to admit I played a lot of mind games with myself on the run, something I rarely do. This race was more mental for me than any race I've done in the recent past.

Jerry informed me that the winner of my age group finished in 2:43. I wasn't surprised at her time, and I was happy that I finished second.

I spoke with Kathleen--she was the age group winner and she's only 53 so I'll have one year without her in my age group if I go there again--she was sooo nice. She's headed up to Canada to do a half iron race next weekend. It's really fun to talk with the "older" ladies because while they are competitive, they're also very gracious in both winning and not winning.

Turns out that the overall winner was a 49 year old--2:29. And that 28 year old I passed on the bike up the big hill at 20 miles took second overall. Third place was Kathleen--which meant they took her out of the AG awards and I got first place. Ha! How funny was that. They gave away really nice plaques that had a printout with our name and time on it. (Now I have to look at that crummy time for a while.)

Yesterday I realized that after the bike portion of the race, I was in second place of all the women. Yes, it was a small race, but still that is kind of exciting. However, that good thought is outweighed by how bad my run was. Oh well, there will be more races (I hope).

Another thing I try to keep in perspective is that there is a point in time when I won't always get better. I'm starting to think this is that time. Maybe if I can stay healthy and not injured I still have a PR in me, but those are big ifs right now. But all in all, I'm pretty happy with my season. I have some goals for next year--drop a few pounds (which will definitely be the most challenging) and do one or two halfs next year, hopefully something new.

For now, I'm going to enjoy some rest time, which means swimming, riding and lifting for fun. I think I'll rest from running until my hip is better.

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend, especially Waddler and Sharkie, who did amazing at their half iron race. You ladies ROCK!

Hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend.

Until next time--God bless!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


(To avoid a really long facebook entry, decided to do this on my blog!)

The last 3-4 days I haven't felt like myself. I think the rain and cooler weather has impacted my RA, and I've really felt yukky. One thing I really notice is a lack of appetite, especially for good, healthy food. Since I'm tapering, I haven't been as hungry as normal either. So, I really didn't eat that much.

Last night I made tacos, refried beans and rice. Bad idea! I didn't eat much (Melissa ate as much as I did), but it just didn't sit in my tummy well. After a restless sleep (which seems to be the norm these days, what with those wonderful hot flashes and all), I woke up feeling sluggish and my stomach was still a little queasy.

I ate my normal breakfast of plain, instant oatmeal with a few raisins. I felt OK by the time I dropped Melissa at the gym. Her Saturday practices now start at 8:00, so I headed over to Waterfall Glenn, knowing it would be crazy hard to find a parking place. I parked on the street, and I didn't feel like going back to the parking lot to go to the bathroom, so I just started running. I know there's an outhouse about 2.5 miles into the run.

My training plan called for 60 minutes; I figured I'd run 7 miles (3.5 out and back), which is a little more than 60 minutes for me (today it was about 75). I actually felt good on the run. Stopped and went to the bathroom, and had an uneventful run. I was able to run all the hills, which was good since I haven't run at WFG for a while. But I must say that while Greene Valley's hills don't seem as tough, I think they really are, and that's where I've been doing my outside runs.

Anyway, since we only have one car, I drove home and picked up Jerry, who had a meeting at the gym. I drove to Lifetime Burr Ridge, and he drove to the gym. (This turned out to be a REALLY good thing).

I spent about an hour doing strength/core/stretch work. When I got to the locker room, I noticed I was REALLY dizzy and getting nauseous. I mean, so dizzy that I had to sit down. Bottom line, I felt really sick and couldn't eat or drink anything, including water. Jerry and Melissa picked me up, and the ride home was awful.

I exited the car and went directly to the couch. I just couldn't sit up without everything spinning. Jerry commented that I probably needed to eat/drink something ASAP. Just the thought of food was, well, not a pleasant one.

After about an hour, I started to get really thirsty. Had some Gatorade, and actually felt like I could stand up without keeling over. Bottom line: the more I drank and started to eat, the better I felt.

So, lesson learned: do not attempt to workout without enough food. Yeah, I KNOW THIS! What I didn't know is that the food I consumed the last couple days was either a) the wrong kind (most likely); or b) not enough (probably also true).

On a separate note, tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my IMKY failure. As the day has been approaching, it's been on my mind more and more. When I see the forecast is for a HIGH OF 74 degrees and partly cloudy, it makes me even sadder. I'm SO HAPPY for the athletes competing tomorrow, but sad it couldn't have been this way last year. Oh well, as I've said before, the past is just that, past, and I'm concentrating on my olympic race next Saturday.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend, particularly those in the Chicago Triathlon. The weather should be absolutely perfect.

Until next time--God bless!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer is Almost Over

It's been a while since I've blogged, and quite a bit has happened, little everyday stuff. I have been keeping up with facebook, so if you are a friend, you know my life day by day.

But in general, training has gone well. I find I am putting in almost as many hours training for an olympic distance this time of year as I did last year for Ironman Louisville. That's crazy, isn't it? I think because I've been doing a lot of biking and strength training, to make up for the swimming and running I'm not doing. Actually, I always do more than the program calls for, but not so much more as to get injured or overtrained (I hope).

Last Sunday I did my first organized ride of the season--Rotary Ride sponsored by....the Rotary Club of Naperville. Last year I rode the 100 mile route and did a 30 minute run after. This year it was an easy 62 miles, with a great catered pasta meal after. Soooo much better than last year. It's a fun, easy course and the best part is I rode the first 30 miles with Sheila (many of you may know her as Crackhead). Anyway, she was coming off some amazing training and Lake Placid, so we rode together well. She went on to do the 100 mile route. I rode back by myself. It was hot, but we started early and I was done early, so it really was a nice day.

Melissa's finished with her summer workout schedule for gymnastics. The gym was closed this past week, so I had more free time. This was my last week of quality/interval training, and now I begin to taper. The week was relatively uneventful--until Friday.

I am supposed to see my rheumatologist every six months, or at least have blood work done every six months to make sure the drugs I'm taking are not destroying my liver. Our finances being what they are, I put almost everything off this year. I decided it would be a good time to make the 1+ hour drive to Melrose Park--before school and the night practices start.

I drove to Burr Ridge and rode an easy 25 miles. It's on my way, so I figured the drive would be easy. HUH! I didn't realize they were tearing up North Avenue, which is already a pain in the !@# to drive on. I barely made it on time--she has one more patient after me and was leaving for the day, so if I hadn't made it, the trip would have been for nothing. Anyway, she says I'm doing great, considering my disease, and can't believe I'm able to do what I can. She did STRONGLY recommend I get the blood work ASAP, and said I only have to see her once a year as long as there are no problems. YEAH!

When I was riding on Friday, I noticed my right eye was bothering me. I figured it was from sweating, or salt, or whatever. By the evening, it was bloodshot and really painful. I think I've had this before, but can't remember what I did. Anyway, it's gotten worse every day, and I will definitely call the ophthalmologist tomorrow. People with auto immune issues need to get stuff like this looked at. It's probably allergies or something, but it is REALLY PAINFUL!

Today I drove out to Coal City and did the Bike Psychos ride. It's not that far, and I don't think I'll have any more organized rides, so I played hooky from church (again--shame on me). It was such a great day--cool, breezy, and sunny. I rode the 70 mile route which turned out to be 67 miles for me. I'm not kidding when I say that I rode 98% of the time without seeing another rider. I started around 7:50 (it was only 55 when I woke up, so I didn't rush to get started). I figured I either started after or before the other 70 milers, or else most of the people were doing the 100 or 124 mile routes. Anyway, I ran into two people I know--both doing the 100 together--and they took off at the 1st rest stop--they didn't stop. I was starving, so I did!

This ride was harder than last week--I think because I had a pretty hard run and swim yesterday, and just didn't feel like eating much last night or this morning. Yeah, I know better, but sometimes I just lose my appetite and it's really hard to eat. I'm still not wanting to eat, but since I need to swim and ride tomorrow, I need to find something appetizing.

So, 13 days until my last race of the season on 9/5--an olympic distance in Niles, MI. I love this race--it's a challenging bike course and the competition can be really tough. I'm just going to do my best and leave it all on the bike course and run the best I can. My recent runs have been good, but each race my run was slower than the last one.

It is officially taper time, although the plan I'm following doesn't really look like much of a taper. Less swimming definitely, but more running than the last four weeks, and the same amount of biking. I think I will edit the plan the second week so I get a good rest before the race. I'm going to need to be fresh.

Ryan starts his sophomore year at BHS tomorrow. He's not overly excited, but I think he's ready to go back. I think it's been a long, boring summer for him. Three honors classes should make it much more challenging.

Melissa starts evening workouts tomorrow. We will start her school on the 31st. I have all her textbooks, so I'll start working on her schedule this week.

Jerry is working hard and we love him for that. He's been very supportive--a great husband and dad.

Next Sunday is Ironman Louisville--the weather forecast: 81 degrees. Can you believe it? The last to years it's been in the 90's with a heat index in the 100's. Oh, what I wouldn't have given for that kind of weather last year. I KNOW it would have made all the difference in the world.

Hope everyone is enjoying the final days of summer--not officially, but it sort of ends after Labor Day here in Chicagoland. The kids are back in school, and things get back to "normal" for many people.

Until next time--take care and God bless!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OOPS...I Forgot....

After my post last night, I remembered I forgot to congratulate all who ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Chicago on Sunday. Props to all 17,000 who participated, especially Waddler, Lisa, and Gary. If I'm missing anyone, so sorry. GREAT JOB!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Quick Update....Another Sprint Race

Things have been pretty routine since my last post. Training has gone well. I really believe that the short distance races/training has been good for me, both physically and mentally. It's been fun and challenging at the same time. Doing races every two weeks has made it a little tough on the training, but now that is done and I'm just training for my "A"race, olympic distance, 9/5.

I raced in La Porte, IN on Saturday. It was the 30th anniversary of the race. It's run by the YMCA and they do an excellent job. The swim is 1/4 mile (it always seems shorter to me); the bike is 12.4 miles; and the run is 3.3 miles (always seems longer to me). I've done the race 3 times in the past--once as a relay on the bike, and twice by myself. The last time I did it was 2006. It's on the same weekend as Steelhead (which I did in 2007), and last year I did Racine, which is the week before.

It was a beautiful day, weather-wise. I little breezy on the bike, but my mechanic decided early in the week that I would use my 404 and not my disk--turned out to be a smart decision. It started raining on the way home--that worked out great.

As I looked around before the start on the beach, I saw a lot of very fit-looking "older" ladies. Last time I finished 2nd in my age group. This year, I was hoping for a top 3 finish. Actually, I just planned to swim, bike and run as hard as I could and see what would happen.

I had a good swim, although I got caught (again) in a group of slower swimmers for the first half. Women 35 and older were the second to last wave--under 17 and relays were last. The waves started 5 minutes apart, so there really was no bunching up on the course. My swim was about a minute faster than last time, so that was good.

I knew my cyclometer wasn't working before the race. It konked out on me earlier in the week. Jerry thought he fixed it, but when we got to the race, he couldn't get it to work. (Turns out I needed a new battery, which is what I thought in the first place.) So....I had no idea how fast I was going, or where I was on the course. I only saw one marking at 10 miles. In the past the course was really crowded, and the first 4 miles was. But I passed a lot of people before the turn around (it's an out and back course), and the last half of the course was pretty open. Plus, I think we had the wind at our back. I wanted to equal or better my time of 34:28--ended up with 35:53 (20.7 mph). I seem to be stuck on that 20.7 number this year!

The run was HARD! My heart rate monitor kept going in and out (I need a new strap; both of mine are pretty warn). When it was working, I was above my AT, so I know I was working hard. However, I know my pace was not what I wanted. I really wanted to go under 9 min, but I ended up running 32:10 (9:37). BTW--each race my run time has gotten slower--YIKES!

My transitions were both about 1 minute, which is good for me. When I was done, I was convinced I left everything on the course. I couldn't have gone any faster. My final time was 1:18:10--43 seconds slower than last time--1:17:33. I was really hoping to break 1:17, but it didn't happen. I had no idea where I finished. I really don't worry about that. Jerry always goes to check the results.

I changed clothes and chatted with a nice young man (he finished 3d in 20-24, and his girlfriend finished 1st 20-24). We were racked across from each other, and talked for a little bit. Jerry came over and told me that I won my age group (by about 5 minutes).

Turns out I did pretty well--1/11 age group; 12/123 women; 6th place on the bike. As usual, my swim was about the middle of the pack, and my run--well, we won't talk about that. The race director announced this was the largest number of athletes in the 30 year history of the race.

I was really happy with my place, but would really like to improve on my times. I guess being three years older and a certain number of pounds heavier doesn't help. But you know, when I look at the women who finished after me, I definitely do not LOOK like I would be faster than them. It just goes to show that you can't always judge a triathlete by the way they look. I would love to look like them, but I would NOT like to give up my time.

I have to add that my RA has really been acting up. I think the weather has been a factor--the change in temp and rain makes it worse. Stress is also a huge factor, something I'm dealing with in a major way right now.

So, all in all, I was very happy with the day. I really didn't feel my best before or after the race. I'm hoping things will settle down and I can put it all together for my last race. It would be so cool if I could win my age group there too. I last did the race in 2007 and placed 1st in my age group. This will be my last USAT race in the 50-54 division. Next year I'll age up. The race is very competitive and has a challenging bike course. I did my PR for an olympic distance there in 2007, and had my fastest 40K bike time. We'll see--I can only do my best, and I will be happy if I do that.

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend, particularly all my friends and acquaintances who kicked butt at Steelhead. Every single one of you are amazing, and should be very proud of such a great accomplishment. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend--there are probably a lot of races--I know the Naperville Sprint is Sunday. Have fun. I'll be at the Warren Dunes with Melissa's gym. I plan to bring my wetsuit and practice swimming in Lake Michigan while I'm there.

So until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Do As I Say, Not as I Do.....

I just couldn't let this go without commenting.

I am on the "list" to receive "Coach Troy's" coaching updates. Not sure how I got there. Anyway, when I read the latest post, I was beside myself. I thought to myself, "This guy coaches elite and recreational triathletes? He holds a training camp for Ironman Louisville--a.k.a.--hot, hot and more hot?" After reading this post, I don't think I would pay for his services.


The man goes on a 45 mile bike ride in Tucson where the temperature is 105 with two 24-ounce bottles of water? That's it. You have got to be kidding me. Not only that, but the next day does something similar--not as bad, but come on, you didn't learn your lesson from the day before?

Anyway, if you haven't already, please read the post and let me know if you are as shocked as I was.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two Races in Seven Days

Since my last post, I've completed two sprint distance triathlons. (If you follow my Facebook page, you know the basic, most important info.) For those of you who don't and are at all interested, here is the story:

Sunday, the 12th, competed in the Schaumburg Splash/Pedal/Dash Sprint Triathlon. The swim was 400 meters in a 50 meter, outdoor pool. 15 mile bike ride through residential neighborhoods, and a 3 mile run. This was my third year competing, so I know the course well.

It is the ONLY race I've done in 15 years that has a different finish than start location, thus, T2 is located away from the start near the finish. Not a big deal--dropped off my running shoes and hat there before going to the start line and checking in. The race starts at 6:30, so it's really nice that it's only about a 45 minute drive in the early a.m.

As usual, met some interesting people waiting in line for my swim start. (An older (50 ish?) gentleman who has completed over 280 triathlons--his body has paid the price, so now he sticks to sprint distances!) It's a time trial start with fastest swimmers first. I think I was number 172, which meant there were 171 people who started ahead of me. People don't always seed themselves properly, but I only passed about 4 people, and only one guy passed me (he had a low number, so I'm guessing he missed his start time). I had an OK swim, not my fastest, but better than last year.

The bike course is really fun--not really fast because you feel like you are constantly turning. I never really know where I am on the course, location-wise. I felt like I had a good ride, but my stomach had been bothering me since Saturday afternoon, and I still felt a little queasy on the bike.

I thought I had a terrible run. My legs felt tired and heavy, and my stomach was bloated and really yukky. I couldn't wait to finish. Turns out I had the fastest bike time of the three times I've done the race (averaged 21.03 mph), and my run time was just a few seconds slower than my fastest time (8:32 pace).

Finished 77th overall, first in my age group, 14th overall female, 7th fastest female bike. It was a great day with great weather. Rested the remainder of the day--I was tired but felt good.

Since I was racing the following Saturday at the Evergreen Sprint, my training during the week was tricky. I wanted to continue training for my A race--Olympic in Septemter--but also rest for Saturday's race. I rode a couple times, swam every day except Friday, and ran once. Friday was a workout free day--seems like the only days I rest completely are before races. I hoped it would be enough.

As usual, I slept short and fitfully Friday night--about 4 hours total. Up at 3:00 a.m., left the house around 4:00. It took us about 1:45 to get there, including one stop for a bathroom break. While waiting inside for Jerry, a youngish man walked into the convenience store, walked up to me and asked if I was going to Evergreen. Guess he could tell by the way I was dressed. He commented on how we "passed him going about 90 mph." Jerry was driving pretty fast. It was early and the roads were deserted, so he figured it would be OK. Turns out he was a coach and had 30 athletes competing in the races. (I saw him after the race and we spoke briefly. He asked me how I did--when I told him he asked if I would have done anything differently if I had known the outcome and I said YES! Keep reading and this will make more sense.)

Arrived at the race sight around 5:45. Saw a couple people I knew--Waddler, met Trisharkie, Perry, and Lisa. During the swim warm-up, I saw Jenny Garrison and introduced myself. She's a real sweetheart and she finished 3rd female in the elite olympice distance. The water was 76 degrees, which sounds cold so I warmed up with my wetsuit. Decided it was too warm and uncomfortable and swam without it. Good call--I would have melted. Plus, I hate swimming in a wetsuit unless I absolutely have to. It does make me faster, but I'm just not comfortable in it. I guess I've been swimming too long without one. For 500 meters, it wasn't worth the inconvenience.

The swim was crazy. There were only two waves of the sprint distance, which left no time for the crowd to thin out. While I wouldn't say I was beat up, I did get stuck in a group of slower swimmers. I should have listened to Jerry and started near the front. My swim time was slower than I'm capable of--when I looked at my watch it said 12:18--I was hoping for around 11:00.

Jerry handed me my glasses so I could find my bike in transition, but even though I knew where it was, it still took me a bit to find it. Our racks were in the back of the transition, so we had the farthest to run out and in on the bike. I had an OK transition.

The bike course was fun. Since I started in the last wave, I passed a lot of people on the course. I had my disc wheel, and there was a strong cross wind the first 6 or 7 miles. I was not happy. But then it settled down and wasn't really a factor. The course had a couple small, challenging hills, but that just made it more fun. I saw Waddler on the bike course and she waved!

My best time on this course is around 1:09, but I knew that wasn't going to happen today. I was hoping for 1:12, which is what I did--averaged about 20.6 mph. Definitely not my best for this distance.

I felt good when I started the run--felt strong and was running what I thought was a good pace. I carried my gel with me and walked for about 10 seconds at the water stops and gulped a little gel. I really pushed the last mile. I wanted to break two hours. My final time was 1:58:45.

I was really disappointed when I found out my run time was 29:04/9:23 pace. Last week when I felt HORRIBLE my pace was 8:32. Well, I guess the additional 10 miles on the bike and racing six days later could have contributed to the slower time. Who knows? My run is what it is. I KNOW I would be faster on the bike and run if I could get rid of this extra weight I've put on the last two years. That will be my goal (again) in the off season! It's easier to control my appetite when I'm not training 20 hours a week, too!

We walked back to the car to pack up. I brought stuff to take a shower at the beach house. A woman walked up to me and complimented me on my bike ride. I guess I passed her and she was convinced I finished in the top women--she even thought I may have won. She won her age group (45-49) so she was sure I won mine. I knew there were only two of us, and I was pretty sure I won my age group.

Jerry always checks the results for me--I don't have the patience to stand in the crowd to find my time, plus I'm too short and it's hard for me to see. But here they have a computerized sysem. You tell them your number, and they are able to print all your information and hand it to you. I went to take a shower, and when I came out, he had my little sticker with all my info.

They started the awards with the sprint race first. First award was overall women--top three. The race announcer started with third place first--there was a long pause as he looked several times at the paper--the third place woman's time was 18 SECONDS FASTER THAN ME! I couldn't believe I came that close to getting an award for overall woman in a race. The first place woman was 20 years old, 2nd place 35 (she had the fastest bike--1:10. We went back and forth for most of the bike, but she passed me near the end). 3rd place was 37--her final time was 1:58:27 . Finals stats: 4th out of 55 women with the second fastest bike time.

The top two women in my age group in the Olympic distance race always finish one/two when they go head to head. I can bike about the same as the number two woman, but the first woman is an animal on the bike (time of 1:06!) and can run 7:30 pace for a 10K. I've NEVER been able to run like that. She was a top collegiate runner and still holds a bunch of records.

While it wasn't my best race ever, I really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun! Got to talk with Perry and Lisa after the race, but never did see Waddler or TriSharkie. I was looking for Jenny to congratulate her, but couldn't find her either. We didn't hang around for the Olympic race awards, as Jerry had to work later in the afternoon and wanted to get home.

So, the bottom line is I love racing. Sometimes I do good, many times not so good. But it's always fun. I met a lady who looked really familiar. Turns out we know each other from Edward Fitness Center where I spent 17 years as a member. She still goes there. She's 49 and yesterday was her first race in years. She had a great swim, but her bike was knocked in transition and she wasn't able to finish the bike course due to mechanical issues. But when I saw her after the race, she wasn't upset at all because she still had such a great time just being there. She's excited to race again. I hope I see her at other races. To me, that's what this sport is all about.

When you get to be older like me, and you've done this so long, it really is about the journey and having fun. I was speaking with a woman about the same age as me, and she commented on how fun it is to do the shorter distance races. Our bodies are not so beat up when we're done, we can enjoy the rest of the day still being able to walk without limping, and the recovery time is not as difficult. When you're in your 50's, it takes much longer to recover even when you're in great shape, than when you're in your 40's or 30's. I never believed that when I was younger. I thought people just used that as an excuse, but it really is true. Plus, I started running when I was 14, so my body has seen a lot of pounding. The less I pound now, the better it is for me. I'm usually sore after a race from running on the hard surfaces, which I don't do on purpose when I train. It's just to hard on my body.

I have a true sprint distance race in two weeks. I've done it before, and it's a really fun, well run race. Hope I can do really well that day. We'll see. As usual, my goal is to have fun and do my best!

This post is already way too long. So I'll end saying that I look forward to somewhat of a recovery week. Today I rested--at least no workout. I'll probably ride 3 or 4 times, swim 5 or 6 times, run 2 or 3 times this week. Nothing really long (maybe 50 miles on the bike next weekend). Including my race, total training time this week was about 12 hours. I like that--enough but not too much.

Hope everyone who was racing had a great weekend and enjoyed the perfect weather here. Have a great week.

Until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Happened to Summer?

OK, so it's only two days, but what a drastic change in the weather. From 90's to 60's, which normally is not bad, considering summer will be back again tomorrow, and it looks like a great weekend for the 4th of July.

The bad thing about this is how the change affects my rheumatoid arthritis. Wow, I woke up today (after a really good, sound sleep, for a change), really stiff. You would think I would realize that this would happen, after dealing with this crazy disease for the past seven years, but it still takes me by surprise.

I decided yesterday that today would be a swim only day. I worked hard for about 10 straight days, and decided my body really needed a rest. My last two runs were crummy--Saturday I attributed to running/riding in the heat of the last week. But yesterday was another crummy 7 miler at Waterfall Glenn. I actually felt better after about 2.5 miles, but not as good as I thought I should have. So what should have been a 25 minute run turned into a 1:19 run. I did some strength training and a swim that included 16 x 50, and after that I was DONE!

As it turned out, today was a good day to skip my bike ride. I had a good swim with long intervals, and while I'm still tired and all my joints hurt, I feel a little better. When the weather warms up again, I'll feel much better. I noticed last week how good my body felt. I forget that when it's really hot, my joints and muscles feel amazing--almost like a normal 30 something year old person. Ha, the joy of getting old!

(I mentioned to one of the young aquatic supervisors at the pool this a.m. that I am old, and he very emphatically said, NO, YOU ARE NOT OLD! I'm glad to see there are still some nice, polite young men around!)

I'm enjoying watching Wimbledon. Would love to see Roger break Pete's record and win this thing. I would like to see him play Murray and beat him--Murray always plays Roger tough. In fact, I think he beat him both times they've played.

Just added up my numbers for June--a little light considering I was "sort of" tapering the first two weeks of June. Now I'm only training for an Olympic distance race, so my numbers and time will be down. However, my bike and swim will probably still be a little high, because those are my favorite!

For anyone who cares:

Swim: 40,400 meters
Bike: 357 miles
Run: 66 miles
S/C: 11 hours
Total Time: 62.5 hours

Looking forward to the Joliet Bike Club 4th of July ride on Saturday. Should be nice weather, and it's always a good ride and usually windy. Maybe I'll see people I know there.

Have a safe and happy 4th!

Until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer is Here.....and some other good news

Yeah, it's hot and humid and I got to run outside and ride outside without being cold and no wind. Ha!

It was a little warm on my run yesterday. Due to the shopping/gymnastics schedule, I ran after I dropped Peanut at the gym--11:30. I went to Waterfall Glen. Since I decided no half iron distance race this year, my "A" races will be the sprint at Evergreen (40K Bike--YEAH!) and the Olympic race in Niles on 9/5. So, I'm following an olympic distance training plan. Which basically means much less training, and more ME/FAMILY time, which is fine with me.

So, yesterday the plan was for a 1,000 meter swim and a 20 minute run. I decided that even though it was really warm, I wasn't going to go through all the trouble to run for only 20 minutes. So I packed up all my stuff (lots of fluid, salt tablets, gel) and ended up running 4 miles. Not much, really, but I really felt the heat. Not much company on the path, either. One other runner, a couple walkers and bikers. Most sane people were not out at that time. However, it's a good place to run in the heat because about 50% of the part I ran is shaded. It was hot, and I did take frequent, short walk breaks, but I really felt good when I was done.

Drove to LTF Burr Ridge and had a good strength/stretch/core session. Didn't even bother trying to swim outside--the pool was packed, and I knew the water would be ridiculously warm. It was almost unbearable the day before. I swam inside and it was refreshing and felt good after the hot run.

Last night was tough sleeping. Our basement and first floor stay nice and cool, but the upstairs, not so much. Our bedroom thermometer read 88 at 9 p.m. last night. I tried sleeping in the basement, but the couch is really uncomfortable and my back was killing me, so I ended up in my own bed. Put the fan on high, no covers, as little clothing as possible. Not too bad.

M,W,F Peanut's practices start at 8 a.m., which is great for riding near the gym. I brought my bike and did my 25 mile loop. It was warm, but after riding 112 miles in almost 100 degrees in the hills of KY last August, I feel like I can ride in almost any kind of heat. Time was a factor, as I had to get home to take R-man to the bowling alley. He couldn't find a ride, and I was not going to let him walk 2 miles to the lanes carrying his 14 lb. ball and shoes. He did it on Monday, and I felt awful. So, I dropped him off, headed back to the gym for Peanut, and then back to pick him up. I think I drove about 60 miles today. Short workout, but I feel good.

One thing I learned last week--tapering, rest and a day off really WORK! I definitely plan to try that more often.

The best news of the day: I take a medication for my Rheumatoid Arthritis that costs approx. $15,000 per year. I am very fortunate to have insurance, and my co-pay every three months is $150. Comparatively, not a bad deal. However, considering our recent financial woes, $150 is not chump change. I needed to order my next three month supply this week. I get it from a mail order specialty pharmacy. They always call to schedule delivery, etc. When I spoke to the pharmacy today, the very nice lady told me that I was eligible for a co-pay assist program run by the company that manufactures the drug. Long story short, I now get the first six months for FREE, and the second six months for $20.00. OMG, I was in shock. Instead of $600 for the next year of medication, I will be paying $20.00. That is such an amazing blessing. Thank you God!

I'm so excited to share good news. I love the summer, I'm enjoying my current reading (Stephanie Plum rocks!), and I'm saving money. What else could I ask for. Also, hubby has been working a lot of hours at the hotel, which is really good for our bottom line.

BTW, R-man bowled a 268 last week at practice. Went bowling with Dad on Sunday and bowled 204. Monday he bowled a 209. It would be great if he can bowl this way when school team tryouts happen. He would love to make the team again.

That's all I got. Tomorrow will be a later run. Rain is in the forecast, but it should be cooler. I could run on the treadmill, since the training plan calls for only a 25 minute run, and a 1500 meter swim.

Enjoy the warmth and stay cool.

Until next time--God bless!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Day of Firsts

As I was thinking about yesterday's race, I realized there were several things that happened for the first time:

1) First race since the distaster at Ironman Louisville--it felt really good to start and finish a race.

2) First race of 2009 season. Didn't know if I would race at all this year.

3) First race--EVER--without contacts. I did my first race in 1985, and have never not worn my contacts. I am really blind, so I need glasses/contacts to see. I used inexpensive prescription goggles, and it was a very short run to my bike out of the pool. It worked out really well.

4) First race driving the CRV. We've always taken the Town & Country, mostly because we can fit my bike and all my junk and four people. Since the car needs new tires and we still don't know why it sometimes won't start and the 'Check Engine' light comes on, I decided to see if I could fit my bike in the CRV. It works OK--it's a tight fit, and only two people can ride in the car. Since the kids stayed home and really aren't interested in watching me race anymore, it was a wise decision.

5) First time I drove home after racing. Jerry usually does all the driving. But he worked much later than planned Saturday morning, and only slept 1.5 hours, so it only seemed fair for me to drive home--it was only about 1:45 drive and I was fine after a sprint.

6) First time I messed up on the course. It's a long story, but I was an idiot. I thought I was done when I still had more to do (we had to run past the finish line and do part of another loop before the end). Jerry told me I wasn't done, so after I went through the chute and turned in the tag on my number (not a chip timed race), I kept going. I was upset because it cost me about 1-2 minutes, but it really didn't matter in the end. Jerry retrieved my number from the spindle and handed it to me before I crossed the finish line. I should have listened to him--he's ALWAYS right about that stuff. I felt like such an idiot.

7) First time doing this race. It was the first time this race was held in this particular venue, but it was a rebirth of the Rockton Tri, so I don't know if that counts or not. In any case, I don't think I've done a tri in that area before.

8) First time since 1991 I swam in an indoor pool as part of an outdoor triathlon. The Schaumburg race is in a pool, but it's an outside, 50 meter pool. This pool was 25 yards long. I have to say I really enjoyed the swim. Each athlete started 20 seconds apart, and I did a good job seeding myself. I guessed it would take me 7:15 to swim 350 yards, and my time was 6:49. I was happy!

9) First time I've been up at 4 a.m. since Louisville. Nuf said.

10) First time I raced with my disc wheel since 2007.

11) First time in a long time (only the 2nd race ever) the race didn't provide bathing caps. At least at this race they weren't required (in a pool swim, not necessary--but since I always swim with one, I remembered to bring my own). One race I did caps were required but not provided. What a mess. Now they provide caps.

And...I finished first in my age group. I know there were at least three of us, because they gave three awards for women 50-54. The race director said there were about 144 people racing. Jerry tells me I finished 6th overall female (according to results posted at the race), 19th fastest overall bike time, and 39th overall finisher.

Jerry said my swim time was right about in the middle of the pack, which makes sense. We won't talk about my run. I thought I was running faster than my actual pace. Suffice to say it felt like the longest 3 mile run ever. I think because I usually run longer, I thought 3 miles would feel short. Not so much. It was getting warm, and I really pushed the bike--averaged about 20 mph on a course I thought was mildly challenging. Many of the racers (including the director) thought it was a really tough, hilly course. I didn't really think so. I loved it.

I'm probably forgetting some other "firsts" I was thinking about....

I was chatting with the winner of the 30-34 men's age group. He is a veteran ironman finisher. He did Louisville the first year, said he probably won't go back. Not only was the air hot, but he commented on how warm the water was too. Yeah, I remember. He encouraged me to go up to Wisconsin and sign up for 2010--don't think I'm ready for that on so many levels! I'm going to stick to my sprint and olympic races and worry about next year later.

Happy Father's Day to all. Hope you're having a great day!

Tracking a friend at Coeur d'Alene...glad it's not me!

Until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Race Plans

On Sunday, my husband informed me that there was a race near Rockford this coming Saturday that looked interesting. I think he felt bad that I'm not going to do the half iron distance race that I've been training for since March. So, we checked it out and decided to go for it. It's in Roscoe, and was formerly the Rockton Tri. It will be a 350 yard pool swim, a 17-mile bike (which is what really got my attention), and a three mile run. It should be a small race and I plan to go, have fun, and do the best I can.

So, this week has been taper time. I've been following the taper I would have done for my half iron race, since my body is in that training mode. Monday I did a 1500 meter swim. Tuesday I rode, ran and swam and my body felt awful. Every session was hard and my legs felt tired and heavy. This is real typical of how I feel during a taper.

But today, I swam, rode and ran and felt sooo much better. Since all three sessions were really short and based on time and speed, I decided to ride inside on the spin bike at the fitness center and run on the treadmill. I wore my racing outfit to reacquaint myself with swimming in shorts and a tri top. It was a good workout, and my body feels fresh and rested. Tomorrow will be a short, easy swim and Friday will be a rest day.

I also signed up for a couple other races. I've wanted to go back to Evergreen. I did that race the first two years it was held, and they do a great job. Last year they added a sprint distance, but the key is the bike is still 40K--yeah for me. So I signed up for the sprint. I also signed up for a small sprint race in Schaumburg that I've done the past couple years. It's close, the price is right, and they do a great job.

I have plans for two other races--the 30th Annual LaPorte YMCA sprint which I've done several times--its a small race, great venue, and they do a great job; and the Niles Triathlon in Niles, MI on Labor Day Saturday. This will be my A race--olympic distance. It's a great course--challenging bike course which I love. I lost track of how many times I've done this race. It's a pretty easy drive and is always very reasonably priced. Every year the competition gets tougher and more challenging.

So, that will be a total of five races, and the entry fees for all of them is about what I paid for one of the half iron races I did last year. No overnight stays, which really cuts down on expenses (hotels, meals, extra gas mileage). Also, only one Sunday race to interfere with church for us and the kids. (We're hoping we can get them a ride to church and pick them up after the race--that's what we did last year!)

I have to say that while I'm getting the usual pre-race jitters, I feel so much better knowing I'm going to get to race this year after all. Jerry has been amazing and supportive as always. He knows how much I enjoy racing, and is willing to share this with me.

(I decided not to renew my USAT membership this year. I'm only doing two sanctioned races, so it's actually cheaper this year to just pay the one day fee for those races--more money saved.)

Congratulations to everyone who raced and rocked this past weekend--great job, everyone! Good luck to everyone racing, training, and riding this weekend. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.

Until next time--God bless!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why do drivers honk at cyclists?

It's been a little while since I've written. I've been spending time on facebook. I like it. It's quick. I can post several times a day. And since I'm not a talented blogger like some of the people I follow, I don't really have to have a lot to say when I post.

So.....what's new in my life? I've decided that the half iron race on 6/20 in WI is not happening. Just don't have the money. As a told someone the other day when asked about my racing plans for the year--I'm broke and burned out. Well, not really burned out, but it's a good excuse. I'm still holding out hope for about 3-4 races. I'll let you know when I know if they will happen or not.

I realized yesterday that last year I spent over $1,000 on entry fees alone for the four races I did. When you factor in all the other expenses, I just can't justify that right now. I really have to think about my family (i.e., kids) first when it comes to finances. When they were younger, it was easier. Now, bigger kids equal bigger expenses. Melissa will probably need braces, and I have no idea how that will happen. We may have to chose between gymnastics and braces. I hope that doesn't have to happen.

This was a crazy week of training. Peanut started her summer schedule at the gym. Since she is now a level 7, she practices Monday-Friday, 4 hours each day. I don't like to drive home and back again, so I get some good workouts in, between LTF in Burr Ridge, riding on the hilly streets, and running at Waterfall Glenn. The weather was pretty yukky, so I only rode outside once (Tuesday p.m.), and ran on the treadmill 3 times--too much for my body. I was able to swim and bike outside today--it was a gorgeous day. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow--rain is in the forecast for the morning and early p.m. Sunday looks like a better day for another ride.

So to get back to the title of my post--I was riding this afternoon on a frontage road along I-55. It's a narrow part of the road, and the street is really bad--tons of potholes, etc. I was riding up the little hill, a car was coming toward me in the opposite direction. As it passed, there was a car behind me--she laid on her horn, and really scared the heck out of me. I DON'T KNOW WHY SHE HONKED OR WHAT SHE EXPECTED ME TO DO! There was nowhere for me to go. I was riding as far to the right as possible. There was no shoulder. WHAT THE .........?

I actually do know why people honk. They are upset because they have to slow down for 5-10 seconds to let the other car coming toward them pass, before they are able to pass me. But please, really, what can honking your horn do, beside scare the heck out of the cyclist and maybe cause them (me) to swerve into traffic and for sure get hit? I just don't get it. I absolutely go crazy when a huge truck passes me, with plenty of room on either side of the truck, and insists on laying on the horn right as they pass me. Are they just ticked off because I'm on the road? Am I not entitled to be on the road?

Listen, I'm really a good rider. I pay attention to the lights and stop signs. I try to stay out of the way of cars. If a car wants to turn on red and I'm in the way, I move so they are able to turn. I ride the way I would want to see a cyclist ride when I'm driving. I signal when I'm planning to turn. I ALWAYS let the cars/trucks have the right of way--they are much bigger than I am and they will always win the fight anyway.

Anyway, I finally get that out of my head. I'm riding a six mile loop that is about 5.5 miles from my house. I like it because there are hardly any lights or stop signs, and usually the traffic is minimal. Today there was a little more than normal because I rode later--2:00 until almost 4:00. I knew I was taking a chance, but it really wasn't so bad.

There is a fire station on this loop. When I was on my third loop, I passed the fire station and a fire truck pulled up next to me. Right when it was along side me, they TURNED ON THE SIREN! OMG, it scared the heck out of me! I almost jumped right out of my saddle. Couldn't they have waited 10 more yards before turning on the siren, or did they do it on purpose to see me jump? If so, that really was not nice!

Now I'm heading home, passing a bunch of warehouses. It's really windy, and I'm riding into the wind. I hear a funny noise, like the noise you hear when a firecracker is set and before it explodes. A second later, I hear what sounds like a sonic boom! I'm not kidding, it was the loudest firecracker I've ever heard. I thought someone dropped a bomb, I kid you not. I turned and looked back and saw lots of smoke in one of the parking lots. REAL NICE, PEOPLE! It's not even the 15th of June, and you're messing with firecrackers already? YUK, I really hate firecrackers and the 4th of July.

Well, I got nothing else. Sunday is the Suburu Women's Triathlon in Naperville. Good luck to all the first timers, old timers, elite and pros. It should be a nice day, and I hope everyone has fun and a good time.

Good luck to everyone who is racing this weekend. I'll be praying for good weather and great times!

Until next time--God bless!

P.S. A friend of mind just started a blog. Check him out at www.massageguy-adayinthelife.blogspot.com.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Training, Racing (?), Other Stuff

Today is a rest day. So for me, that means I swam an easy 2200 meters this a.m. As I sit here typing, it is pouring rain and thundering outside. Guess we're lucky it didn't rain Saturday or Sunday. Saturday started out kind of yukky, but of course as I was finishing my ride, it turned beautiful. Yesterday was great--I had an early, easy outside swim (the water was warm, but not unbearably so). In the afternoon I "practiced" transitions--which really turned into a bunch of run/bike/run bricks. 4 min. run, 10 min. bike, times 8, plus one final 5 minute run at the end just for fun. It was actually a lot of fun. The neighbors now know I'm completely crazy, watching me run and bike around the block like a crazy person.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. The week before last was a "recovery" week, but I didn't do to good following the plan. I did fewer sessions, but still ended up training 16 hours. I just couldn't resist riding and running when the weather was nice.

I'm still not sure about the half iron race in WI on 6/20. I REALLY want to go, but don't know if I can justify spending the money on a race when things are so tight. We've talked about leaving the kids home with friends to cut down on the expense, but after paying bills yesterday, I just don't know. I've trained really hard, and I'm in good race shape (I think). I'm still too fat, but I feel really strong and would love to test out my fitness. We'll see. Maybe God will work a miracle and we'll find a way to make it work.

R-man had three of his six finals today. He already knows he aced his Biology exam, thus the course. That was the only test he was at all concerned about. I'm definitely more nervous about his exams than he is. He's a really good kid and a great student. I really wish I could find him a job for the summer. He's only 15, so he's even more limited than other kids in finding work. He will have bowling four mornings per week for a month, but then what?

Peanut starts her summer practice schedule next week. I'm pretty sure she'll move up to level 7, which means five days of four hour practices. Good for her, a little crazy for me, but it will give me tons of time to train. (Now, what I'm training for is still a mystery!) She finished her school work the Friday before Memorial Day and passed all her subjects with flying colors. She, too, is an excellent student.

Jerry found a part-time job at the Marriott in Burr Ridge. Because it's a "franchised" hotel and not run by the corporation, he looses the 15 years he had with the company--bottom line, a lot less money. BUT, we're very grateful he found the job. It's very close the the gym, and not a bad drive from home. He'll be doing the same thing he did at his previous job, so that's a good thing. It's an upscale area, so the tips should be good. All in all, good news!

Good news regarding R-man's cell phone. We have Verizon, and they just happened to be running an upgrade special. Bottom line, the kids will both get a new phone (nicer than what they have) and it only cost us $49.95. That is a really good deal. We're happy, and they're very excited.

As you may remember, I rode a lot of miles on my trainer this winter (over 2,500). Now, I LOVE riding my bike outside. However, I'm not crazy about fighting with cars/trucks on the road. I really try hard to be a good, courteous rider. I stop at signs whenever necessary, at lights (unless there is absolutely no traffic and I know I won't get a green light), and I follow the rules of the road. I ABSOLUTELY HATE when drivers honk at me just because they don't like the fact that I am riding my bike on the road. Heaven forbid a driver slow down to accommodate a cyclist on the road. It may cost them a total of 20-30 seconds of driving time at the most. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!

When I was riding last weekend, there were at least three cars that honked at me JUST BECAUSE! I just don't understand these people. I really try to avoid traffic when I ride, but there are times when I must cross a busy intersection, or maybe ride on a busy street for a short distance. WOULD IT KILL THE DRIVERS TO GIVE US A LITTLE ROOM ON THE ROAD?

I just read on a fellow triathlete's blog that he was hit by a car while riding over the weekend. He wasn't seriously hurt, but enough so that he needed to go to the hospital. Thank God he will be OK. But, the crazy woman that hit him got out of her car and proceeded to scream and yell and swear at him when he was on the ground, still attached to his pedals, bleeding! WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE! She claimed she didn't even see him. Well, maybe she needs to open her eyes and pay attention to the road. I know accidents happen, but really.....

OK, so that's my soap box for the day. End of rant.

Lots of races starting up in the next several weeks. Hopefully, I'll be able to participate in 3 or 4 this year--that would be my goal. My training is going really well--I'm a little tired today, but that's OK. Last week of long hours, runs and rides. Then two weeks of tapering before the race (I hope). After that, I'm not sure how I'll train. I'd like to do a couple sprints and olympic races.

Hope everyone is enjoying their training, racing and finally the warmer weather.

Until next time--God bless!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mixed Bag Weekend

Ups and downs of the weekend:

Thursday p.m. as I was taking my son to the allergists, by wonderful (ha!) car decided to die. If you remember, we just spent $1900 in March having the transmission rebuilt--for the third or fourth time, I've lost count. As I write this, it is still in the shop, and while they claim it is not the transmission (I don't believe them), they don't know yet what is wrong. Maybe the fact that it is a 1996 CHRYSLER (yuk!) with over 191,000 miles on it is the real problem. I would love to buy a new/used Honda, but financially that is out of the question.

R-man participated in a 30-hour fast beginning on Friday after breakfast until 1:00 p.m. Saturday. He spent the night at church with the youth group and DID NOT SLEEP AT ALL! He was crabby, tired, and nasty when he came home. I forced him into the shower--I wanted to do one last load of clothes that day. As the dryer started, I heard a thumping noise. I checked it out but couldn't find a problem. A while later, my husband informed me that the noise was R-man's PHONE! YIKES! He left it in his jeans pocket! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I'VE TOLD HIM TO ALWAYS CHECK HIS POCKETS BEFORE PUTTING HIS JEANS IN THE WASH? Maybe now he will remember?!

Well, he was really tired, and I feel a little bit (but not too) responsible for the damage to the phone. I probably should have checked, but.... J went on line hoping to salvage it. It works--but the battery is dead and the screen is kind of weird and hard to read. We ordered a new battery, and I guess he'll just have to live with it as is--to replace it is about $300 dollars. Needless to say, that is not going to happen!

I don't know if I mentioned it here or only on facebook, but J found a part-time job at the Burr Ridge Marriott, doing exactly what he was doing at his previous Marriott job. He took a drug test last week, and as soon as the results are in, he will be put on the schedule. Yeah, what a great answer to prayer!

I actually rode outside three times this week. Tuesday was a great day--rode for about 1.5 hours. I was due to ride Friday, but the all-day rain nixed that. So I rode on Saturday for another 1.5 hours. WINDY--typical May weather for this time of year. Cool, but not so much that it bothered me. I was still able to wear shorts.

Sunday I rode later in the day--after church and lunch--about 12:30. I was due for a 2.5 hour ride, and to be honest, I was really tired when I started. I did manage to ride about 43 miles, alone, without too much traffic problems, but still the wind was a factor. I followed the ride with a 2.5 mile run. The run actually felt better than the ride. It was perfect weather for running.

So, other than not knowing what is wrong with my car, how much it will cost, and if we have the money to fix it, it wasn't such a bad week. Peanut has about 5 days left of school. She's already finished three subjects, so that makes my life a little easier.

The more I evaluate our finances, the less chance I have of much racing this year. I think the half-iron distance in WI in June is pretty much out. Maybe a couple local sprints and olympic races, with one half in August/September is the new goal.

Congratulations to all who raced this weekend--in Galena, Memphis and Orlando. It's still too cold for me to consider racing outside, but good for all of you who participated.

This week is a recovery week--YEAH! I did a short, easy swim this a.m. just to loosen up. It felt good. The weather forecast looks fantastic, so I may ride a little more than required, just because....

Oh, and the prescription goggles are working pretty good. I haven't worn my contacts in over a week, and my eyes feel much better. It's different swimming with smaller goggles and carrying my glasses around the pool and locker room, but it's well worth it.

Hope everyone has a great week! Until next time--God bless!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

It was an interesting week/weekend. The weather was......inconsistent, which is to say pretty normal for a Chicagoland spring.

Still haven't taken my bike off the trainer. Hoping I can ride outside tomorrow. Training calls for an early swim, bike/run brick later. I need to decide before I sleep if I want to ride outside. It's kind of a pain taking CP off the trainer for the first time--hubby will do it for me and make sure she's ready to rock!

The cover of the latest Triathlete magazine has an article entitled "Body Image--Are Triathletes Obsessed?" That sounds like an oxymoron to me. I don't know ANY triathletes who are not obsessed with their body in one way or another. We spend most of our waking ours in either a swimsuit, shorts, jersey, bra top, etc. We get to see ourselves uncovered all the time, even in the dead of winter. We hang out/train with people wearing the same type of clothing. And let's face it, we usually judge how well an individual will race/perform based on how they look.

Lucky for me and others like me, you can't always judge a book by its cover. Sure, most of the time the "best" athletes look the best, but not always. Read the article if you haven't already. There are some interesting observations by the author Erin Beresini (guy or gal?). And although we would all like to look like the individuals on the covers of the magazines, many of us, no matter how hard we train or diet or even starve ourselves, will ever have that body.

Anyone else as sick of hearing about steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in sports as I am? Manny Ramirez--what a joke! He should be thrown out of baseball for being stupid! How can a grown man take a substance that helps female infertility and claim he had no idea what it was? How can a professional athlete put anything in his body without knowing what it is? If you ask me, there should be a zero tolerance rule in all of sports--not that I believe that will ever happen, because the athlete's unions, teams and leagues would never permit it! They really don't care what the athletes do, as long as it makes them money! And as far as role models go, I have taught my children NEVER LOOK TO A SPORT'S FIGURE AS A ROLE MODEL! There are so many more admirable and deserving individuals to look up to in this world.

Go Blackhawks! Just when I thought they were toast, they rallied and now have a chance to close out the series at home tonight. I really hope they can do it and don't have to go back to Vancouver for a game 7!

I may have mentioned that my daughter Peanut LOVES chocolate (as does her mom). She must have something chocolate in the house at all times. I decided I would bake a chocolate cake from scratch, because the mixes have too much junk in them, and I hate the canned frostings. The first one didn't turn out good-I confused teaspoons with tablespoons when measuring the baking soda and powder. However, the second one was a huge success.

So, I decided to try something else. I found a recipe for Chocolate Lava Cakes. You know, the cakes that have the gooey chocolate center! The recipe said it would make 10 large muffins. Well, I guess my muffin tins are way too small, because it made 26. I had one last night, and they are orgasmic! When I told Peanut that, she asked me what orgasmic means--oh oh, she's only 11--I hope I explained it OK! (Note to self--remember to think before you speak!). Anyway, they are a huge success--hubby ate too many and went to bed in a lava cake coma!

Had some good workouts last week. Did my long run on the treadmill, because of course that day it was cold, wet, windy, yukky! But I did get two 6 mile runs at Waterfall Glenn. I love that path--it has everything. Saturday was not a good day to ride outside, but it was great running. The path was really empty for a weekend morning, and I only got run off the path once by two women dressed in only shorts and bra tops, running about a 6 minute pace. I guess if you're younger, sexy looking and fast, it's OK to hog the ENTIRE WIDTH OF THE PATH! Oh well, I guess some people just don't pay attention to what's happening outside their world.

Had an OK mother's day. Spoke with my mom on the phone. I really don't like eating out, so hubby grilled some chicken and I made mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. It was a nice, relaxing day.

I'm into the heavier part of my training schedule, assuming I will do a 70.3 race on June 20th.
Last week totals:

Swim: 6x = 12,000 meters
Bike: 3x = 61miles (on trainer)
Run: 3x = 21 miles
S/C/S: 3x = 2:04
Total Time: 15:30 hours
Calories: 7,900

Hope everyone has a great week of training. Good luck to everyone competing in Galena on Saturday.

Until next time--God bless!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tired....or maybe just old!

I read a "Dear Amy" letter the other day in which the writer was a 50-something year old individual (not sure man or woman). This person was told repeatedly at times "you look tired". Not knowing how to respond, he asked the columnist for help. Her answer was to reply--I'm not necessarily tired, just old! Well, that's how I'm starting to feel on some days. Age, stress, physical wear and tear can really take a toll when you reach almost 54!

I had a lot of thoughts on things to write the past week, but now that I'm actually sitting down and writing, of course I can't remember anything really interesting or important.

Outdoor triathlon season officially kicks off in this area with the Galena Du & Tri on May 16th. The water temperature is at best in the 60's, so not a race I ever plan to do. Good luck to all you brave souls planning to race.

Spring running is well underway, and congratulations to all who have raced! The weather has been iffy to say the least, but that's life in the Midwest.

I worked hard last week. Put in lots of time and miles. I had a s/b/r day on Saturday and again yesterday. Although yesterday I swam and biked early, and ran in the evening (something I NEVER do, with the exception of last year's ironman). I enjoyed the quiet of the path and the beautiful weather, but I'm a little sore and tired today. Will swim later just to stretch and loosen up.

Still haven't taken the bike off the trainer. Peanut will be done with school in about two weeks, so that's when I'll be able to ride outside consistently. Hoping to ride outside Saturday, weather/time permitting!

I've been spending a little bit of time on facebook. It's fun because it's quick and easy. I'd love to be your friend. Check me out--Karen Martin Moy is my name!

Last weeks totals:
Swim: 5x = 10,500 meters
Bike: 3x = 75 miles (trainer)
Run: 3x = 17 miles (1 TM, 2 outside)
S/C/S: 4x = 2:41
Total: 15:43
Calories: 7,300

April totals:
Swim: 46,000 meters
Bike: 338 miles (on trainer)
Run: 75 miles
Strength/Core/Stretch: 14 hours
Total : 73 hours

P.S. Just added up the miles I've bike on my trainer since November: 2,500 plus! WOW! Can't wait to see how that translates to the road!

Hope everyone has a good week/weekend.

Until next time--God bless!