Monday, August 29, 2011


Something non IM related: A local radio station was doing a weekend tribute to the 20 year anniversary of the release of Pearl Jam's "Ten". It made me feel really old but it also brought back a lot of memories. 

That time was the beginning of my continuing obsession with Soundgarden and Chris Cornell. John and I went to Atlanta CD (an actual music store!) and I was looking to pick up Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger. One of the great things about Atlanta CD was their used pile. I was looking through the pile and came across "Ten". I didn't know much about Pearl Jam except that they were mentioned in every single article I had ever read about Soundgarden and the grunge movement. So, what the hell? I picked it up. After a couple of listens I was shocked to find that someone actually bought the CD and returned it. It was a nearly perfect album of 10 incredible songs. Badmotorfinger didn't suck either and I wore those 2 CDs out. 

The 20 year anniversary also brought back memories of Lollapalooza 2 in 1992. The main stage lineup included Ice Cube, Ministry, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners. It was an awesome show. Eddie Vedder jumped off the back wall at Lakewood and was carried to the front of the stage by the crowd. That would absolutely never happen today! John mused that we don't have the energy for all day music festivals like Lollapalooza and Ozzfest anymore. To which I replied, "Yeah, we would rather run, swim, and bike all day than stand around and drink beer in the hot sun." What has become of us?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Number 658

Number 658 – that’s my IMWI number. It’s starting to get real and so I am starting to get real nervous. The other day I was watching the 2009 athlete video and when I saw the swim it made my stomach hurt. The bike ride down the parking ramp spiral didn’t calm my nerves much either. So many things to stress about!!

 I know I am more prepared than I was for IMCDA but I am still worried about all those cutoffs. Great Floridian had a very nice calm and less crowded swim and very generous cutoffs. This will be me and 2500 of my closest pals fighting it out in the water with an “in water” start! I wish I knew that before signing up. At CDA I waited on the beach until the crowd started the swim and felt pretty free and clear. If it wasn’t for the waves I would have been just fine. This time I have to position myself as far as possible from the crowd so I won’t get slammed when everyone leans over to start kicking and stroking and get caught up in the washing machine. Ugh! My stomach is hurting again just thinking about it. 

I always panic a little bit at the start of any swim but so far I have successfully been able to talk myself off the ledge and get back to swimming. This race will have the extra pressure of being the area where I failed before so I know I will be extra nervous. I am just hoping for relatively calm water and being able to stay away from the pack. As John always teases – “hope is not a plan”. I don’t know how I can train any better for waves than just trying to get stronger.
The big push for training finished the weekend before last with our crazy century in the Gaps. I am pleased to say I finished all 101 miles with around 8000 ft of climbing. Wolfpen is no joke!! The first loop went well and I felt really good but the second lap started to really wear on me, especially with the increasing temperatures. The nasty little climbs became even worse and I about lost it twice. My speed started dropping dramatically as my energy waned. I didn’t think I was going to make the Wolfpen climb again but after cooling off and re-fueling at the little store right before I was willing to give it a shot. Leslie and I kept each other company with our chatting and bitching all the way up and we did it!! We really didn’t think we were going to do it at the store but the Bad Ass Bitches got it done! We texted the boys not to come get us and we would meet them at the car (this was the backup plan if we didn’t make it up). We started down the backside of Wolfpen and then the rain started. It drizzled and then poured and then stung! We only had a few miles left but the rain made us ride faster and when we were half a mile from the car the sun was shining. The boys were clueless until they saw we looked like drowned rats. It was a great feeling to be done with that horrible ride and AI am no longer scared or intimidated by “the Gaps”. I just hope it will give me the strength to finish my 112 by 5:30 pm on 9/11/11.

Wolfpen, loop 1

Wolfpen x 2 - we made it!

With the century ride from hell behind us, John and I headed to Jamaica to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. We spent 3.5 days at Sandals Whitehouse where we swam, rested and drank a lot! We got 2 almost 90 min ocean swims in before the drinking started, including some choppy water and wave training for me. The other vacationers must have thought I had lost my mind when the whitecaps started one afternoon and I headed out with my swim cap. Again, please no choppy water in Wisconsin!! I definitely felt stronger in the ocean currents than in the past but I can’t fight large waves for long and certainly not for 2.4 miles. Here is the beautiful water where we swam.

OK, so the trick now is not make myself and everyone else around me crazy for the next few weeks. Make sure my bike and gear are ready. Catch up on a few house chores and just rest, repair and relax. Yeah right!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sick....and Tired

Wow! Over a month has passed since I last updated my blog so this might be a bit long.

Since then I have made up for that disastrous 5K swim by placing third in my age group at the Georgia Games Open Water 5K swim. Thanks to Phil Sustar for helping me HTFU and finish strong!! That gave me a big boost in my confidence for the swim leg but I still need to "just keep swimming". The week prior to that swim I was majorly sick with a fever and congestion and runny nose that had me down and out for a couple of days. This was a wake up call that I was pushing too hard or as they say in USAT coaching, I was "over reaching". There is a fine line between good over reaching that is needed to get stronger and build endurance and over reaching that quickly becomes over training. I think I started to cross that line. Two illnesses in two months is highly un-characteristic for me. Time to back off a little and GET MORE SLEEP. 

I have always struggled with sleep. My mind is too active and it takes a lot to wind down and get to that sleepy place. Mind you I can fall asleep on the couch about 5 minutes after John turns on Mythbusters - it has happened so often that it has become a household joke. Sorry Adam and Jamie but you make me sleepy! The hard part is getting in bed and trying to get 8 uninterrupted hours. Happens about, well, never. Betty (our sweet but seriously disturbed Doberman) often wakes me up during storms or just because she is lonely, who knows? She needs more exercise and with all the training we haven't been home much. I also have so much going on trying to fit training in around my ever fluctuating work schedule that I don't have time to get enough sleep. I have been trying really hard with to make it happen and I was pretty successful last week but this week has been a bust. I am seriously looking forward to my Saturday nap since I know tonight won't be much more than 6- 7 hrs if I am lucky.

So back to being sick, 4 days later I foolishly did the Chattanooga Olympic distance tri despite many protests. My reasoning was that I felt better, I had no race experience for this year, it was a relatively short distance and I could stop at any time. I actually did decently on the swim, better than expected on the hilly bike course and sucked ass on the run (but kept moving with a smile on my face). It was probably no different than many of my other races except is was hot as hell and I had a good excuse for poor performance.

Delirious or happy - hard to tell

Following Chattanooga I cut back a bit on my training schedule. I realized 2 spin classes a week at 6am were killing me. I also realized that spinning Thur morning, working with a trainer, then doing a stacked brick that night (9mile bike, 1 mile run and then repeat) was just plain stupid going into a long weekend of training. Done. Ok, so that freed up a little time and yes I got more sleep too. Then the emotional rollercoaster started.

Two weekends ago we had a 112 mile bike ride on the training plan. We plotted out a hilly, technical course and it was a long hot grueling day but I made it though without feeling too horrible at the end. I felt good about my effort but was still concerned about making the time cutoffs given my avg speed was not spectacular. I told myself it was a training ride on an open course and it was really hot so race day will be better. I then realized while this course was hilly it was only about 4500 ft of climbing. I found out from Coach Tony Myers from ATS that Wisconsin was closer to 7000 ft of climbing. "Uh oh! Not good. Not good at all. Who the hell got me into this? Doesn't anyone look at this stuff before they decide to get everyone to sign up. What in the hell was I thinking?!! " An example of some of the rants from that weekend. OK, time to HTFU and get serious. Hopefully, it's not too late to fix this! 

That week Coach Tony mentioned that his athletes were doing a ride in the gaps to help prepare for WI and told me I should come along. Well, that wasn't going to happen for 2 reasons. #1 - I am seriously SLOW and would never be able to hang with them. #2 - The Gaps scare the sh** out of me. Well, about 10 minutes later I got an email from John saying he thought we should do the 3 Gap ride to get in more hill climbing. F** me! 

So, a few of the IronKidz (Harry, Peggy, John and I ) piled into Bumblebee and headed to the Gaps! Stephen Carhart from ATS graciously joined us on our little adventure along with Kim and Tripp. Kim and Tripp aren't training for anything but were headed to Lanier to visit a friend that afternoon so this worked best with their plans for a weekend workout. Wow, did they choose wrong! 

The Skeenah Gap course has a large climb at the beginning, some rollers in the middle and another big climb at the end. I was very concerned when we immediately started climbing knowing we still had the monster climb ahead of us. We had been riding for a little while and Stephen said there was a really nice Overlook I should see so I took that opportunity to pull over and stop. When he asked if I was OK. I replied that I seriously needed a Gu if we haven't even made it to the big climb yet. He assured me were about 3/4 through the big climb at that point and then I relaxed. OK, I can handle this. This is not that bad! The downhill was a bit nerve wracking but much better than a ride I did at Cheaha last year. The road conditions were great and I felt good. Stephen was doing some Cirque du Soleil sh** on the way down. Standing up and taking his hands off the handlebars. Sheesh, what a show off! (just teasing!) I don;t think there will ever come a day that I feel THAT comfortable on a bike. Ok, so big climb done, time for some rollers and then one last climb and done. Well, my definition of rollers is completely different than Tony's. At mile 30 there is a nice little incline that goes by a church so you can pray to Jesus that you make it up the hill. There is another fun one around mile 37 and one more kicker around 40. The rest just were little climbs and possibly one small section I would call rollers. Tony will later tell me that is what I should be expecting at Wisconsin. Cue  the ranting and cursing.

Somewhere between mile 40 and 50 Peggy has a little blackout and decides to get the hell off the bike. She's a smart cookie that Peggy. Tripp had also been battling leg cramps and and had a flat tire earlier in the ride so I think he saw an opportunity to get off the hella-coaster and he stayed with Peggy. Luckily they found some nice A/C and water to wait until we could come back and rescue them. The rest of us forged up the final hill and made it back to Turner's Corners feeling pretty darn good about ourselves. Harry and Kim both said that was the hardest thing they had ever done. Personally, my IM in FL was harder. The hills, heat and wind just kicked my ass for 112 miles. I actually felt pretty good after this ride, especially with the bag of ice on my quads. Mind you at mile 50 I felt a bit cranky and hot but after I doused my head in water I was good to go. Now, 112 miles of that sh**, that's another story.

 Kim, Peggy and Harry earlier in the ride

 Peggy enjoying that A/C

Post ride elation and sense of accomplishment was dashed with Tony's comments about the WI rollers. Much map studying and cursing was done and I went as far as to put both maps on the same scale so we were comparing apples to apples. WI still looks easier than last weeks ride but it's over 112 miles and is not to be trifled with. Here are the comparisons:

Tha Gaps DID made me feel like I had been doing at least one thing right - Hartman Hill repeats! Here is the elevation chart for Hartman Rd. Peggy, Harry and I have been riding this hill over and over again this summer and we can tell our climbing has improved dramatically.

This weekend I have a 14 mile run on tap for today, 40 mile flat and fast ride tomorrow and Acworth Women's Sprint Tri followed by more open water swimming on Sunday. Feeling good about my training right now but that can change at any moment. I do really wish I had one extra month instead of only 37 freakin' days!! That bike course and cutoff time is scaring the crap out of me. I hoped this time around would be different but it seems I am going to be sweating those cut off times again. 

Until then there is training to do. Next weekend will be really fun. John has channeled Coach Tony's masochistic mind and has a 100 mile torture fest planned for next weekend. We are headed back to the Gaps. Can't. Wait. 

Plan for next weekend - 2 loops of this - as Peggy said "Better get a bigger boat"

You finally made it to the end of this saga so I just want to share some of my latest obsessions for passing the time while in the car and during long runs:

Jay Mohr's podcast - Mohr Stories - hilarious!
Tina Fey's audiobook - Bossypants
David Sedaris - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

All have caused me to laugh out loud while running