Triathlon Chronicles (Season 2): Sky Tri and Speedos

April 21, 2013

Before I tell you all about the Sky Tri, I have to get this out of the way:

Speedos. Guys, I don't care how beautiful you are, or, more likely, think you are, this is simply not a good look on any of you. We were seeing way, way too much of your April-in-Michigan bod, and it wasn't pretty. I know, you are all "Hey, it's a swim race, I don't care how I look!" (and for those of you who are all "I can shave seconds off my time by wearing a Speedo!" No. Those love handles create more drag than a pair of swim trunks ever will, trust me.) And I am just gonna ask, on the behalf of all of us whose eyeballs got seared pretty early this morning - please care. And wear something else.

The Sky Tri was an early-season hybrid kind of deal. Indoor short swim, bike and run outdoors, and since we live in MICHIGAN, it was 20 freaking degrees this morning. And we went anyway, my main triathlon partner Goddess #1 (there are a total of five tri "goddesses" in our little support group) and I, and as a special "let's-see-what-the-fuss-is-all-about" bonus,  the spouses signed up too ("Have some Kool-Aid, dear!" Heh.).

We all did the mini-sprint: 200 yard swim, 6.2 mile bike, 1.8 mile run. The swim, held at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, was a "snake swim" which meant you swam down one lane, ducked under the divider, swam up the next lane and so on for 8 lengths. We were all seeded according to approximate time for a 200 yard swim and hopped into the pool at 10-15 second intervals. If you needed to pass the person ahead of you, you tapped on their foot and then once they reached the wall, they were to let you pass.

Unless, of course, you are the guy behind me and it's just easier to swim right up my ass. Thanks, dude. Here, let me help you with your Speedo. Dork.

One of the unique challenges to this race was the transition from indoor swim to outdoor everything else. Normally, you do not change clothes in triathlon - with the exception of adding/subtracting bike helmet, shoes, sunglasses, etc, you wear the same gear for all three disciplines. While race organizers suggested just layering over your suit for the bike and the run, most people looked at the sunny, sub-freezing morning and said "Uh, no thanks." Stripping off a wet suit and stuffing damp body parts into winter running gear takes time, people. All of which got added to the swim time, and I just know at least 2 minutes of my time was spent in the Fighting With The Sports Bra category. Swim time: 12:56 (from start to locker room to entering the transition area outside; I think my actual 200 yard swim time was around 5 minutes. Maybe.).

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Heading outside with wet hair, that's where I was, and I think maybe it was almost 30 degrees at that point. The bike route included  a nice steep downhill on Maple Road, ruined by a sharp left onto Huron River Drive that required slowing down. The curvy scenic road with occasional uphills along the river is usually a pleasant ride, if one isn't somewhat damp and riding in frigid temperatures. It was probably the only time in my entire life that I approached an uphill ride thinking "Oh good, at least I'll warm up!" And that nice steep downhill at the start did, of course, turn into a wickedly gruesome uphill at the end. I tried distraction congratulating myself on my intelligence in choosing to wear wool socks today, and mentally placing Speedos on handsome male celebrities, just in case there really was some man somewhere who might look good in a Speedo (that last one got me all the way up the hill and into the transition area, but alas, my original hypothesis remains intact). Bike time: 32:53.

Readers of the Triathlon Chronicles know that my absolute favorite part of the race was next! Yeah, no. Don't like running much. Plus, more hills. Tired legs. Ran out of celebrities to put in Speedos. Got a cramp in my calf about halfway through, walked it out, ran (well, it's a bit generous to call what I do "running," but you know what I mean) to the finish and was amazed that my run time was 22:41 ! Yay me!

I took second place in my age group with my total time of 1:12:21. Of course, there were only two of us in our age group - the first place finisher being Goddess #1, because she is most awesome and has legs like she will run you down and kick your butt. Her time was 1:05:35.

The Kool-Aid drinking spouses also rocked in their first-ever triathlon, claiming second and third places in their age group with a 1:05:07 (that cute man in the photo to the left) and a 1:11:56.

And they are smart enough not to wear Speedos.

Triathlon Chronicles (Season 2): How Not to Train for a Tri

February 20, 2013

Howell Parks and Rec held their annual Splash & Dash indoor triathlon on Sunday, and here are a few things you should NOT do before competing in this event:

1. Do NOT go out six of the seven nights prior to the event (OK, 3 of the 6 were unavoidable social/spouse-work-related obligations, but it was still a bad plan).

2. Do NOT stay out until 1 AM, on a weeknight, three nights before said event (hey, I had Maroon 5 tickets!), and then past midnight the next night (hey, we had Red Wings tickets!).

3. Do NOT wait three days wondering why your ear hurts, and whether it's related to the water you got in your ear during a swim the week before, before heading to the doctor two days before your event.

4. Do NOT assume that because you have never had intestinal issues with amoxicillin, you never will.

Yeah, it was ugly. Item #4 meant that I did the tri on a breakfast of yogurt and half a banana. That wasn't good either.

I participated in this event with Goddess #1 last year (see previous Triathlon posts for information on the Goddesses) and it is a great way to experience triathlon if you are a beginner, and for experienced triathletes to check their training status. And for those of us who fall somewhere in-between, it's another crazy fitness goal.

The indoor tri is set up in 20-minute segments - 20 minute run, 20 minute swim, 20 minute bike. Volunteers keep track of your run and swim laps for you, and record your bike miles - it's a well-run (ha.) and organized event. With the focus on time, and not distance, this is definitely a go-at-your-own-pace deal.

Our event order was run-swim-bike (compared to a regular tri order of swim-bike-run). The run portion takes place in the gym - 11 laps equals one of the most boring miles ever invented, and just to make it even worse (if possible), there was no music. Even the young volunteer lap-counters (best line: "We can remember who you are because we're the smartest kids in the school!" Bonus points for modesty!) were complaining about the lack of tunes.

Twenty minutes and 19 laps later (about 1.7 miles), and it was time to move on to the swim portion of the program. Supposedly, we had 10 minutes to change and get to the pool, but our run must have started and ended late - we were barely wiggling into our suits when we got the two-minute-warning. Let me tell you, pulling the running gear off and pulling the swim gear on, over, everything... it just can't be done in 10 minutes.  Not if you, everything... stowed properly.

Twenty minutes and 31 laps later (just one lap short of a 1/2 mile)...I am not too proud to admit I staggered up the handicap ramp out of the pool.

Next up - biking. A small room, with maybe a dozen spinning cycles set up - it was cramped and hot, but it was rockin' out. Tunes were cranked up and the gentleman in charge - Jim Young from Runnin' Gear, I believe! - was an amiable drill sergeant. His constant cheerleading/coaching ranged from nice ("Can I get you some water?") to encouraging ("You can do it, you are triathletes!") to demanding ("Are you slowing down? No slowing down!"). Big shout-out to Jim for keeping us all pumpin'!

Twenty minutes and 6.65 miles later (results may vary) and we are all A) dripping, B) exhausted, C) in pain, D) glad it's finally over, or E) all of the above.

And the Rookie Goddesses are no longer rookies! We were all in different age groups. Goddess #4 came in 6th in her age group, I came in 3rd in mine and Goddess #5 took home the gold in her division! Yes, Goddess #5 - middle-aged rookie - scored a gold medal on her first time out. And no, she wasn't the only one in her age group. I know you all were thinking that, so just stop.

The best thing, as usual, is that there were all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of fitness at this event. People walked the run. They even walked in the pool. One woman was there with her 70+ year-old dad, and how cool is that? Yeah, I think he was the only guy in his division. I hope they gave him all the medals!

As for me - after a celebratory breakfast (I've never eaten an entire order of French Toast before, have you? Another goal accomplished!), I went home and embarked on the now-standard post-triathlon 1.5 hour napping marathon, with usual napping partner, pictured here.

My First 5K. At Midnight. On New Year's Eve.

January 1, 2013

Nothing like starting 2013 right with yet another stupid idea. And beer.

When the email announcing the <a href="">2nd Annual New Year's Eve Midnight 5K</a> showed up, the initial reaction from my Goddess Group was lukewarm at best (see my series <a href="" target="_blank">Triathlon Chronicles</a> for more information on the Goddesses). "This might be fun," was the first response. My reply was "Doubtful. But I can be talked into it. Maybe." Feel the enthusiasm there?

Thoughtful and considerate women that we are, we realized we needed to convince the husbands to join us. It was New Year's Eve, after all, and you should celebrate with your loving spouse if at all possible, right? It was clear that the hubbies were pretty content with the usual New Year's celebration of food, drink and falling asleep on the couch before midnight. Mine just rolled his eyes when I first suggested the idea of a 5K in downtown Ann Arbor Michigan at midnight on New Year's Eve. The other responses ranged from flat-out "Uh, no" to "Why would anyone want to do that?" Wait, that last one was my reaction. But the boys, they were a unanimous "no" on this.

Guys, do not let your women spend the day shopping together when you know they are trying to talk you into something. We have way too much time to strategize, and we really only needed about 2 minutes to come up with the It's-At-Bar-Louie-You-Can-Sit-And Drink-Beer-While-We-Run Plan. Bar Louie has a fabulous draft beer list - dangling the promise of microbrews got us a reluctant OK from the men.

You know where this is going, right? We started off with the casual you-could walk-it conversations, lightly applied every few days or so, which got all three male participants to agree that if the other guys were walking, they would too. We quickly signed them up before they could change their minds. Or before they figured out one of us had lied about their spouse's participation. Three men, three women, age range 50-57, varying fitness levels, 6 inches of snow, 28-degrees of coldness...sounds like a blast, doesn't it?

We got to Bar Louie at about 10:30 pm, which, for future reference, is about an hour too early for pre-race hanging out on the patio. Even with the propane heaters and 50+ people milling about, it was chilly. The costumes were great - tutus are the big running accessory this year, and the guys in tuxedo jackets and running tights were looking very sharp. The best part? Other than a little pre-race beer*? Walking through the restaurant, filled to capacity with folks in New Year's Eve finery - while wearing running gear. I'll put my fuschia Adidas up against the glitter stilettos any day.

We counted down to midnight and off we went. All you partying people in downtown A2? You are awesome. High fives from nicely-dressed people all along the route, people waving from restaurant and bar windows - and you smokers outside of Sava's? Your cheering section was fantastic - your secondhand smoke, not so much.

Oh, and to the girl whom I did not even run into really while rounding the corner and Main and Washington - I still can't hear out of my right ear. You have a future as Screaming Girl #2 in some future slasher movie.

Did I mention I've never run a 5K? I hate running (and yet, I do it anyway. Too many kinds of crazy, that.). My plan was to run/walk. I ended up only walking a few blocks - not sure if that was a testament to my stamina or simply needing to stay warm. My feet finally thawed out by Mile 2. And my beer was still cold and oh-so-good when I got back to Bar Louie, 39 minutes later (or so - no timing chip but they did have a finish clock). My companion and I were last in our group to arrive, even though a couple of the guys walked the route - which was puzzling until we realized that they took an "accidental" shortcut. My husband, who also had never run a 5K, finished in 34 minutes. Ran the whole thing, no shortcuts. Yeah, the eyeball-roller up there in paragraph three.

Here's to a few more dumb ideas in 2013! And beer.

Triathlon Chronicles Season 2: A Gathering of Goddesses

December 27, 2012

When we last saw our, heroines...Goddesses...we had just completed the snail-infested Zukey Tri and were entering the off-season, that time for reflection and lower endorphin levels and realizing how insane it was to be a middle-aged mom attempting triathlon when I could have been doing something reasonable like...mall-walking.

And now I'm sitting on the couch on this snowy morning wondering just what the hell is wrong with me. Apparently, there will be a Season 2 of the Triathlon Chronicles, and it will also include my first 5K. Resistance really is futile, I guess.

The Goddesses had a Strategic Planning Session last night, held, naturally, at LaVita Bistro in Pinckney - nothing like a little wine to lead to a collective "sure, why not." And we came up with a doozy of a season opener: Epic Races New Year's Eve Midnight Run.

Yes, that would be a 5K in downtown Ann Arbor. At midnight. On New Year's Eve.

Our poor husbands. I think they plan to hang out at Bar Louie and see if they can trade us in on more rational spousal versions, not that they will find anything remotely suitable in a bar in Ann Arbor on New Year's Eve. In the time it takes us to run a 5K. Wait...should I rethink that?


If you are new to the Chronicles, I am a middle-aged mom who, in a moment of menopausal irrationality, decided to use triathlon as a fitness goal. I then used my Awesome Powers of Persuasion to coerce some buddies to join me (Goddess 1-3, and we may be adding Goddesses 4 and 5 this year). The whole point to the exercise (heh.) is that you don't need to look like these ladies to get into a few local events:

Our experiences were that all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness could be seen at all three events we participated in last summer. We had simple goals that will remain unchanged for 2013 - don't drown, don't be last. Let the games begin!

Triathlon Chronicles: Zukey Tri a la escargot

August 26, 2012

I've included two versions of the same photo here for very important reasons. The first reason - Photo 1 - is simply because this is a hilarious triathlon photo. That is me on the left, with Goddess #1. I wonder which one of us is not looking forward to jumping into Zukey Lake at 8 o'clock in the morning?

I have no idea why I am so excited about this. Maybe someone was offering me coffee.

I'll get to Photo #2 in a minute. Because you are probably wondering why escargot are featured in the title of this post, right? This was yet another knee-high muck launch - new and improved, with snails! We stirred up millions of tiny freshwater snails, dead and alive - well, I am assuming some were alive, but how would you know? The water surface was absolutely littered with these little black and grey molluscs. They were small enough to be inhaled! Or get stuck in your ear, or in your...but enough about that! Once you got out of the muck, they were gone and everything was OK again! OK? Good.

'Cuz I'm trying to get y'all to do one of these! And, despite the wildlife, this triathlon was a blast. Since it was just 6 miles down the road, I saw lots of people I knew. The layout was such that friends and family could easily see the transition area and cheer everyone (Shout Out to Zukey Lake Tavern: you are missing an opportunity with the rooftop deck, which would provide prime viewing for devoted fans).

And I did this one as a team with Goddesses #2 and #3, which means we got to see each other throughout the race. So in addition to "only" having to swim a 1/2 mile through snails, I had built-in moral support. We all did! Goddess #2 ran with me from the lake to transition, where Goddess #3 stripped the ankle band off me and rolled out on the bike. We cheered our biker, at start and finish, transferred the chip and launched Goddess #2 into the run. Our transition times were crazy - 30 seconds - since no one had to change any shoes or anything. We also got to help out Goddess #1 as she checked a sprint triathlon off her bucket list (she took 3rd in our age group!).

Plus, there was beer.

And now look at Photo #2 below. I know you don't believe me - much - when I say that all shapes, sizes, ages, levels of fitness, and types of gear can be seen at these events. Look. At. The. Photo. There be love-handles! And generous booty! Beer bellies! Thighs! And that's just me! Heh.

The stats: I swam 1/2 mile in 24:31, Goddess #3 biked 16 miles in 49:23, Goddess #2 ran a 5K in 27:27. We are listed as 2nd in our age group, because they were not set up for team timing (although organizers had already OKed our team participation), and they dropped us from the rankings for awards. So if you see me listed in second place in the 49+ age group, I am not that good! There were three of me!

I'm working on running and swimming over the winter and plan to register for the sprint triathlon of the Tri Goddess in 2013. See you there!

Triathlon Chronicles: Danskin Tri in quaint little Howell, Mich.

August 5, 2012

I am sitting on my deck on this very nice Sunday evening, enjoying a glass of Oberon Sauvignon Blanc and trying to stay awake long enough to type this without too many typos. I did the Super Sprint portion of the Danskin Triathlon this morning in our very own Howell, easily the smallest stop on the Danskin Tri Tour, and I am tri tired, let me tell you.

I was pretty sure I was not ready for this race. Sweltering heat and an extended beach vacation cut into the training, and I decided to borrow a road bike from The Bike Guy two weeks before the event. In addition - and I am not making excuses here - Ok, maybe I am - I have had sinus issues for 3 weeks that a round of Zyrtec hasn't handled, so I will be going on antibiotics for a sinus infection tomorrow. And I am sure the 1000% humidity Sunday morning did not help matters.


The Super Sprint is the Weenie Run of triathlon, "just" a 1/4 mile swim, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run. The swim was in Thompson Lake. At the boat launch. Just Say Yuck To Muck, that's for damn sure (actually, I was using a different word that rhymes with "muck" but Maria runs a family-friendly site. Kinda.). Three steps into the lake and you are knee deep in it, so the only thing left to do is to dive in and swim in a choppy, weedy dirty lake. No offense to all you Howell residents - I've heard the beach area is wonderful - but I am not swimming in that body of water again if I can help it. The Loch Ness Monster could be co-habitating with the Creature From the Black Lagoon in there and you would never see it. I thought I swam fast, but my time was 14:55 minutes, which is...not so fast. On the other hand, I did come in 18th out of 62 in the swim, and that was with a splitting headache from the above-mentioned lurking sinus infection.

And you need to know that when I got home, I stripped off my suit in the bedroom and could hear the gobs of muck hitting the floor.  Gah.

The Bike Guy lent me his wife's carbon road bike. I think it weighs 5 lbs soaking wet. I rode it enough over two weeks to get a handle on the double-click gearing, but I didn't have time to get 100% comfortable on it. One of the lessons here is, don't ride a bike you aren't 100% comfortable riding! The other lesson is check your tires and your pump BEFORE race day. Big thanks and shout out to the Liv Giant "bike care" guys at the race for filling my self-inflicted flat tire. I did OK - 23:49 minutes, and an 18th place ranking out of 62 - but on a six mile ride, I should have been at 20 minutes.

And my head still hurt. And it started to rain. And the run is my favorite part. So. Not.

Goddess #2 (who did the sprint version and whose awful experience deserves a post all its own - got slammed from behind in the swim, blew a tire early in the bike) and I had walked the run course twice, and I have to say it is a beautiful course, winding through the cemetery and city park along the lake. At 2 miles, it is at the extreme of my non-existent running capabilities. Plus, I had nothing, really truly nothing, after hauling ass (or feeling like I was hauling ass - same thing, right?) in the swim and the bike. I know I walked at least 50% of the route for a 22:47 (42nd rank out of 62), which still gave me an 11:24 mile pace, and yeah, I'll take that.

And although I wasn't thrilled with my times I did end up 31 out of 62 Super Sprinters, and I am quite alright with that too, thank you.

Next up: Tri at the Tavern, the Zukey Tri! Goddess #1 finally succumbed to pressure and is doing the entire tri solo - the rest of the Goddesses and I are doing the relay team thing. I get to swim 1/2 mile in Zukey Lake! I wonder what lives in the muck in that lake?*

*I really did wonder, so of course I turned to Google. And there is a List of Reported Lake Monsters.  AND AND AND - there are no lake monsters listed for Michigan! We should totally change that.

Triathlon Chronicles: Not Done Yet

July 9, 2012

I know. You thought I was done. I thought I was done. I guess I'm not done.

Like birthin' babies, the fear and the pain dissipates into the atmosphere soon after the blessed event, leaving only the sense of accomplishment, the pride, the OMG-ness, the "that-wasn't-too-bad" hangover...add a tablespoon of insanity and a dash of hormones and shake well. And sign up for not one more triathlon, but TWO.

LADIES! The Danskin Triathlon is coming to Howell - "a quaint Midwest Michigan Centennial town" -  on August 5. Come join the Girls-Only fun! Goddess #2 (I have renamed the Partners in Crime!) is doing the sprint; I am still an official Triathlon Weenie and registered for the Super Sprint, a 1/4 mile swim, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run. 

August 18 is the Tri at the Tavern, the Zukey Tri in my very own backyard so to speak. Rick Beaudin, The Pinckney Pirate, signed up at the last minute last year and became an Instant Hero, Just Add Water. Yes, people, he did a triathlon with absolutely no prep, no training, no nothing. Will he do it again? Probably not ("I was crazy to have done it last year," he says. Yeah, maybe. Yet, sooo awesome.). But his can-do attitude lives on in the hearts and minds of rookie triathletes everywhere - "Hey, I did better than everyone who was sitting on the couch that day!" You betcha!

While I was willing to give the regular sprint triathlon a go, kinda, a few of the Goddesses and I decided to be a relay team. No prizes, but we do get the T-shirt, which is really more important anyway. Goddess #2 is our runner, Goddess #3 will bike and I will get the honor of totally sucking at a 1/2 mile swim. In fact, my favorite tri saying at the moment: I'd be a better triathlete, if swimming was as easy as your girlfriend. Yeah, it's sexist as hell, but I still snort every time I read it.

Triathlon Chronicles: Mission accomplished!

June 24, 2012

I'm a goddess now. I know, you are all "Rebecca, you are a goddess all the time!" And this is true, but my survival of the Tri Goddess Triathlon definitely raised the goddess bar today.

I'm writing this at 5 pm on Sunday after a 2 hour power nap, which was just as much a result of the triathlon this morning as it was the celebratory prosecco at La Vita Bistro in Pinckney afterwards. The prosecco seemed like a good idea at the time, as did the spaghetti, but the endorphin crash combined with the alcohol and carbohydrate load was harsh. I'll never get the pillow creases out of my face.

But I got my shit together now, mostly, so here we go with the much-anticipated rundown of the day.

4:30 AM: This is not morning. This is still night. Hubby shakes me awake, despite the danger to himself, and checks later to make sure I actually dragged myself out of bed.

5:00 AM: First miracle of the day - I didn't burn my eggs. Big mug of very strong tea (daily requirement), strawberries (picked at DeGroots on Friday and my ass still hurts, thank you), and an oatmeal-craisin-chocolate-chip cookie.

5:15 AM: Partner in Crime #2 (with Partner in Crime #3 from Grand Rapids!) collects me. We had preloaded the bikes last night, thank God. Off to get Partner in Crime #1.

5:25 AM: Me - "Uh, do we need photo ID?" PICs - "Yes!" Me - "Shit." Back to my house. Second miracle of the day - my wallet was where I thought it was.

5:35 AM - 6:15 AM: Nothing like a Jeep full of 50-something women singing "Who run this motha, who run this world" to pump you up. Beyonce is a goddess, of course, so it makes perfect sense.

6:30 AM - 7:15 AM: Unload the bikes and Partner in Crime #1's new bike has a brake pad rubbing the rim. Oh no! Outdoor Action Company to the rescue with their booth for free bike fixes. We head to registration to get our numbers and timing chips, and enter the corral for transition. This was impressively organized, I thought, with assigned spaces according to your race number. Volunteers come around with black markers to write your race number of your arms and hands - so when they drag your lifeless carcass out of the water they know who you are, I guess. Then they write your age on the back of your calf. We joke about what would happen if they had to record your weight there too, and what the average adjustment would be. Ten pounds lighter than reality seems to be the average.

7:15 AM: I am almost awake now. We grab our assigned neon yellow swim caps and head to the beach. Let me tell you, a beach full of 575 women of all ages, shapes, sizes and in various combinations of wetsuits, swimwear and workout gear - it be awesome!

8:00 AM: Words of wisdom from veterans - pee during the swim. We are in the 5th and final wave. The water was definitely warm (heh)...and the swim start is crazy. I need to read up on swim race strategy if I am going to do this again, that's for sure. The worst - backstrokers. For God's sake, girls, find another stroke that allows you to see where you are going. Good news though - the grindylows must have been busy with earlier victims. Or someone came in last night and cut all the seaweed.

8:13:53 AM: Yeah, my swim time was 13:53! And I am hitting the beach and hauling myself UPHILL TO TRANSITION, which was about a tenth of a mile away from the beach. Barefoot. Dry my feet, spray the bug spray, shoes and socks...wait, why do we say it in that order? But you know what I mean. Helmet, gloves, water, trundle bike out of the corral and to the uphill start.

8:18 or so: Yay, biking! This should be a strong event for me. But it's my biggest disappointment and can only be partially blamed on equipment. I have a nice Scott hybrid bike that I love, love, love, and with trail tires it is perfect for tooling around roads and trails in Pinckney. And it is totally outclassed here. I sent a text to The Bike Guy afterwards: "Need faster bike." His response: "Are you going to listen to me now?" Right. That said, ladies were biking on everything. I passed several who were so poorly fitted to their ride, I couldn't imagine going 2 miles let alone 11. But everyone was happy and chatty and my favorite comment as I passed one goddess - "I'm glad someone else is panting!" Tell me about it.

Weird discovery: bike helmets fit differently when your hair is wet. Thought mine was going to blow back a few times.

46 minutes 14 seconds later: I should be happy with this time. I went into this thinking under 50 minutes and close to 45 would be good. Why aren't I happy? Well, ALL the Partners in Crime beat me. And the top times were in the 30 minute range. Clearly some work to do!

OMG. That sounds like I'm going to do this again. Shoot me now.

9:00 AM-ish: Time for my favorite part of the program! Not. So, so not. The run is another uphill start, and I am not ashamed to say I walked it. Son #2 was "disappointed." Tough titties, kiddo. I had nothing in the tank for this run, and really needed to hydrate more during the bike. I did run most of the route, but walked the tops of the hills. 19:05  - less than the 20 minute time that I told myself I would be happy with...but a bunch more than my previous runs of 15-16 minutes on this route.

And a "reversal of fortune" was very close to a reality (thank you DJS for adding to my synonyms for "puke") at the end. The big celebration at the finish, with fruit and bagels and yogurt...God. I was gagging just thinking about it. And yet, I could eat a pint of ice cream after running a mile in 95 degree heat last week. Go figure.

Final tally:

PIC #1: 10th out of 25 in our age group; 60 out of 160 in the mini-sprint

PIC #2: she ran the duathlon (run-bike-run) and was 14 out of 48 in age group,  26 out 60 in the du

PIC #3: 16th out of 25 in age group, 84 out of 160 in the mini-sprint

Me: 20 out of 25 in age group, 114 out of 160 in mini-sprint

Most importantly, we met our goals. Partner in Crime #3 had the most basic of goals: don't die. We didn't. The rest of us had two main goals - finish it, and don't be last. Check and check!

The Ice Cream Mile

June 20, 2012

Today was the annual Ice Cream Mile at Pinckney High School, an event Coach Tom Carney has been running (ha!) for years to kick off the summer season. It's an all ages event, although the crowd is definitely skewed to the younger end of the age range, due to their superior ability to eat junk and run and not puke. Much.

So, here's the deal. Run a mile, eat a pint of ice cream. You can eat the ice cream before you run; you can stop and eat ice cream during the run; you can eat the ice cream at the end of the run. No running with spoons though! Time is total time - run time and ice cream consumption time.

Puking does disqualify you, however.

No high-tech chip-timing here, folks. One guy with a stop watch and one with a tablet and a pen (an upgrade from the usual flap from a cardboard box). You report in once you have finished your pint. If you think it's all fun, and not too competitive, you would be wrong. And there are serious strategies to consider!

Haagen-Daz? Too much fat, doesn't soften up quickly. Chunky Monkey or Rocky Road? Gotta waste time chewing. Metal spoons give you a definite edge. Ice creams should be positioned with lids off, spoons in. The most popular consumption strategy is after the run, although this seems to be hotly debated every year, along with the competitive benefits of plain vanilla vs. other flavors.

The high school guys actually ran a warm-up, and some of them wore  track spikes. The coveted Ice Cream Mile Spoon Plaque - old metal spoons Gorilla-glued to scrap wood - is a serious business.

This is clearly not the time for your best ice cream eating manners. And at 95 degrees today, it was impossible to avoid being a sticky, sweaty mess at the end. The winner? John Niska, age 16, who clocked in at 6 minutes flat with his mile and his pint of Haagen-Daz Strawberry. Yeah, Haagen-Daz. Rules are meant to be broken, baby.

I was one of the crazy old farts who ran this today. I think there were, like, three of us over the age of forty. If you've been following my Triathlon Chronicles , you can probably guess that I thought this was a great ice cream eating opportunity ruined by running. Plus, I am not a hot weather person - once it hits 90, I'm wilting no matter what I am doing. Despite my poor attitude, I ran a 16:06 Ice Cream Mile (chocolate). Son #2 (chocolate chip cookie dough) timed the running portion of my mile at about 12 minutes - SLOW, and I mean 5-year-olds were whizzing by as only small children full of fat and sugar can do - and my ice cream eating skills were even more pathetic at 4 minutes. But I wasn't last! And I didn't revisit my ice cream!

Triathlon Chronicles: Grindylows Exist!

June 17, 2012

This has been a busy Tri Training Week as the Tri-Goddess approaches on June 24! After a weekend of swimming off the boat (note to self: not sure husbands enjoying beer on back of boat are the best spotters...but we didn't drown, so it's all good, right?), Partners in Crime #1 and #2 and I ran the run route at Waterloo on Wednesday. It's gorgeous. It's also hillier than advertised, but I ran the whole thing, no walking, and was pretty pleased with myself - not my usual sensation after running anywhere, let me tell you.

In fact, I felt good enough to accept a friend's invitation to run on a horse trail near her house off the Brighton Recreation Area on Friday. This was possibly also influenced by an excellent evening of food, microbrews and music  the night before (Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers at the Ark in Ann Arbor...fantastic show, great music, nerdy eye-candy...mmmm hmmmm. But I digress.). Anyway, I showed up at 9:30 AM and off we ran.

OMG.  My friend is an Amazon. Who knew? I felt like I was running up Mt Everest, and she is trotting along  - way, far ahead -  like it's nothing (roping her into the triathlon orbit for sure now!). Her goofy dog was the sweetest thing ever and kept running back to check on me, and the whole experience emphasized two important concepts: 1)  knowing the trail is critical, and 2) you can run further than you think you can. I was hesitant on this run, not knowing the trail and thinking "One week before a race is BAD time to turn an ankle," and really, the hills were steep! But the trail was over 2 miles...and again, I did better than I thought I would.

Oh, and the other thing that became apparent the next day - I must push off on my left leg to go uphill. The pain in my left ass cheek on Saturday almost made me cry .

And of course, on Saturday, PIC #1 and I attended the Open Water Swim at Portage Lake in the Waterloo Rec Area and ran the run route again (BUG SPRAY. Gotta remember the bug spray!). Sore ass cheek and all. Race organizers set up the 1/4 and 1/2 mile swim course, and had a clock running. The $38 for this event was money very, very well-spent. All the maps and explanations in the world are no substitute for getting in the water and swimming the route. They launched the crazy Ironman people first - the ones who were going to spend the next hour swimming - and then the rest of us went. This was another confidence-builder - I can start faster than many of the folks there. I got boxed in at the start with slower swimmers all around me and no way to move ahead. Once the crowd spread out a bit, it was easier to manuever and after some confusion at the first buoy, I steadily made my way around the route and headed in towards the beach.

And then the grindylows got me.

A bed of seaweed (lake weed?) stretches across the approach to the swim area. And I am NOT kidding when I say it is full of grindylows grabbing you as you try to swim through it. I am a pretty good swimmer, open water swims do not intimidate me, but I had a few moments of true panic as I was tangled in water weeds and could feel the grindylows trying to pull me to a watery grave.

And I am pretty sure they do not spot you any time for dealing with grindylows, EXACTLY like in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

Triathlon Chronicles: Freaking Out

June 9, 2012

It's been a while since my last triathlon update and that is mostly because I've been in the really boring part of the program. Run. Bike. Swim. Run. Swim. Bike. Run. Bike. Bike. Swim. I could just end my post right there, but what fun would that be? Plus, you know there had to be some craziness in here somewhere.

More importantly, the Tri-Goddess is TWO WEEKS AWAY and I am in mild freak-out mode. Epic Races, the Tri-Goddess organizers, have been helpfully sending emails each Tuesday (Tri-It Tuesday! How cute is that?) mentioning all the things I should be doing but am not - yoga, rope courses, 5Ks, weight training, Pilates, marathons, karate, meditation, half-ironmans, primal scream therapy. Wait, I think I was screaming just the other day about something...I know, it was about feeling compelled to workout every single day now. Which I am NOT doing, which in turn leads to the mild freak-out mode.

So, I am back to the original goal of just finishing the damn thing, with the secondary goal of "with no catastrophic injury."  And I am trying to ignore the little voice in my head that is a little more competitive than that. At least, until race day.

Why The Swim Is First

It's kind of obvious, but the reason became brutally clear one day when I decided to do all three activities. I biked 12 miles in the early afternoon, came home and ran about 1.5 miles. That evening, I went to adult lap swim. Thank God for lifeguards. Seriously, I did about 4 laps and was inhaling chlorinated water that someone's kid probably peed in earlier that day. I felt like I had lead weights on my arms and legs, and the single, horrifying thought in my head was that this is how people who swim pretty well end up drowning. I crawled out of the pool before humiliation, stupidity and death - not necessarily in that order -  became realities.

Partner in Crime #1 and I signed up for an Open Water Swim at Waterloo Rec Area's Portage Lake next weekend. The swim course is set up with timing so you can see how you do in an open water setting. We are also going to swim in one of the local lakes this weekend, which has the added benefit of some boating and a beer afterwards. Did you know Map My Run works on water? It's not even called The Jesus Feature. I think they are missing a marketing opportunity there.

A Very Short Running Update

June 6th was National Running Day. I biked.

Oh, you want more? The good news is that my so-called running has improved and I can run the entire 1.5+ loop in my neighborhood without stopping, including the little Brentwood hill. Bad news is that I still hate it and I think I only have one speed: slow. I can run 2 miles on the nice flat LakeLands Trail, and that is marginally more enjoyable. But it's a little like eating fresh Brussel sprouts is somewhat better than eating frozen ones, when you hate Brussel sprouts to begin with.

Got Biker Butt? I Know I Do

Partner in Crime #2 rides a road bike, which forces me off the trail and onto M36. It's not all bad, and is certainly more like the triathlon bike course, plus I have to push myself on my slower hybrid to keep up with her. I'm not much of one for athletic specialty gear, but padded bike shorts and gloves have made the riding significantly more comfortable. Until today, when I ended up on the LakeLands Trail west of Pinckney.

I decided to head west on M36 today because I was tired of half the town telling me they saw me on M36 and thought I was nuts. I figured no one goes west on M36, because, really, what's there? No offense, Unadilla Township. I discovered, however, that people do indeed go west on M36. Lots of people, mostly in trucks. The paved road shoulder is not as wide, and the road kill count is very, very high. Four raccoons, one skunk, three unidentifiable furry creatures, two frogs, and a deer - and that was in the first mile or so. Anyway, west of Kelly Road, the Lakelands Trail crosses M36 and, tired of breathing the dead-animal miasma, off-road I went. Onto a soft, gravelly, chopped-up trail. It is so bad that bicyclists have made a track through the grassy edge where possible, to avoid the mind-numbing ride over the hoof-prints, the ATV tracks, the small critter holes and the six-inches of soft gravel and sand. I bumped along, wondering how far it was to Kelly Road so I could get back on M36, and hoping I could get there before I ended up with a migraine.

Turns out, my head was not the body part I should have been worried about.

Triathlon Chronicles: Some background on the crazy lady

February 3, 2012

It occurred to me that I should probably start at the beginning with the triathlon journal. I don't want anyone to think I'm some super-athlete or that I have a personal trainer who works out with me daily. Because don't you just hate those people who look fabulous after 15 kids and they act like it's no big deal to spend 4 hours a day in their fully-equipped in-home gym with the personal trainer while the nanny watches the kids and the nutritionist plans all the meals? You know you hate those people. Admit it.

Darth Vader (Trainer From The Dark Side, see previous post) just comes with my gym membership. I've never employed a nanny. I do all my own meal planning, including the restaurant reservations.

I am over 50.

I am short.

I could lose a few pounds. Except I don't weigh myself often, so who knows. I use the time-honored "do my jeans fit" and "too much muffin top?" criteria for weight loss.

I am not a jock in my current or past life, although I was definitely a "tomboy" as a youngster. If you don't know what a "tomboy" is, then you are not old enough to be reading this blog. Seriously.

My training plan - 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill, followed by various instruments of torture. Cable squat and pull (30 lb) - for knees, hamstrings, quads and biceps. Step work. Overhead body bar (24 lb). Stability ball stuff for hamstrings and core. Band pulls and rotations for arms and shoulders. And the dreaded "v-ups." You know that cheerleader move where they jump up with legs in a V, and the pom-poms pushed down in the V? Yeah that. But on your back with an 8 lb ball instead of the pom-poms. Only Darth could come up with such a chipper visual for that little bit of abdominal "enhanced athletic training technique."

But I don't mean to discourage anyone from trying this! No sir!

Once a week I try to combine 20 minutes on a bike and then 20 minutes on the treadmill, and currently I am still very much in the "Has it been 20 minutes yet?" stage with running especially. And it takes me a day to recover from a bike/run combo. But I have until June, right?

Triathlon Chronicles: Musings from a Crazy, Middle-aged Woman (v.1)

January 30 2012

Many of my friends in the 45-55 age group have been making an effort to eat better and exercise more. Someone was asking me why I thought there was this apparent trend, and my answer to that was immediate – cancer seems to be everywhere, and is hitting our circles of friends and acquaintances very hard. Seriously, the list of women I know who haven't dealt with some type of cancer is short. Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, melanoma…and then there are the uterine issues, and the menopausal cycles, and the divorces. Once the emotional and physical dust of these life-changing situations has settled, there seems to be a re-commitment to good health that can only be a good thing, and an even better thing if you can just sustain the momentum. And sometimes to sustain the momentum, you have to be nuts.So, one crazy day this fall – the planets must have been in some kind of funkadelic alignment, because I know there was no alcohol involved at the time – a few of us decided to sign up for the mini-sprint portion of the Tri-Goddess. The Tri-Goddess is an all-female triathlon in the Waterloo Recreation Area, organized by Epic Racing. The mini-sprint event is designed for first-time triathletes – ¼ swim, 11 mile bike, 1.5 mile run.We paid the money, and then we actually TOLD people we were doing it, so we’re stuck now.

Depending on the course, I wasn’t too worried about the biking (I am sure I will regret saying that too). But I haven’t run since high school. And I had no idea how far a ¼ swim was. And you have to do all of these, one right after the other, without crying. OK, maybe that is just my rule.

So, my friends and I made one very simple main goal, and a few sub-goals. The main goal was just to finish the event – “I’m a triathlete, baby!” The sub-goals included finishing without walking (or crying)(or drowning), and that spawned “finishing without being last,” “finishing without being too embarrassed about our times,” and “finishing without sustaining catastrophic injury.” Then we added a few of our own rules about attire , etc. (“I am not spending $200 on a tri-suit” and “Can we wear pants for the swim? Because I am NOT wearing a swimsuit in front of all those people” and “If I have to pee, I’m stopping, darn it”)(no, we didn't really say "darn it." Feel free to be creative there).

And then we threw ourselves into training, with a side of pain. I go to the fitness center at Michigan Rehab Specialists in Hamburg - so when I wrap myself around the treadmill ala the Jetsons, I don’t have to go far to the doctor and the physical therapist. You can’t beat that for convenience! So I worked with one of the trainers there - you know the type, all chipper exterior hiding the black soul of Darth Vader - on a training routine, and added swimming on Tuesdays at Pinckney’s Pathfinder pool.

Ouch. The good news was that I can, indeed, swim ¼ mile. Slowly. The bad news was that when I started in early November,  I could barely run a mile without walking and it took me a good 20 minutes to do that. The solution from Darth? Intervals. It should be a 4-letter word, and the really sick sick thing is that I them. A 4-minute warm-up - I started at 4 mph - then faster for a minute and back down for a minute (to “rest” LOL), rinse and repeat until you hit 20 minutes. It was horrible (more on middle-age pain later), but with the change of pace every minute, it was hard to get bored. Plus, it’s important to maintain an breathing. But score one for the Dark Side, my “resting pace” is now almost 5 mph and I can run a 12 minute mile if I have to, as long as I think about ice cream while listening to The Cult. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?