Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Timing Is Everything

I read too much.

I read too much about running, about heart rates, about nutrition, about biking, swimming, triathlons. Who said "ignorance is bliss?" So right.

Cuz combine all my reading with my natural tendency to worry and you end up with a person who Must At All Times Follow the Plan.

If I have a Plan, I'm A-OK. And luckily, for the incredibly low price of $75, the D.C. New Triathlete Program provides a day-by-day plan of exactly what I should be doing and when, from March through July. The Plan includes one day off per week. You can mix the days around to suit your life, but you should get the six days in.

So, there's a lot of people in the NTP who apparently have never even looked at the Plan. Which amazes and astounds me. How do they function?

So this week, the Plan said bike Monday. Check. Swim Tuesday (2000 yards!). Check. Run one hour Wednesday. Check. Thursday off. Friday bike. Saturday run. Sunday bike.

But...sometimes the Plan contradicts itself. Like this Saturday is the first group brick (bike-run). Which means if I bike Friday, I bike again on Saturday. And that's two bikes in a row, which I am certain breaks some Rule that I've read about somewhere.

And this bothered me so much that I had to actually write and ask someone about it.

Am I mental?


God forbid I ride that bike two days in a row.

The life of an middle-aged-single-mother aspiring triathlete is filled with such dilemmas.

I just thought I'd share that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Scare Myself

It's been a weekend, people.

First, there was the Open Water Swim on Saturday, where my fright levels were at (what I thought was) an all-time-high.

After which I went to the bike store, and bought a bike that you need SPECIAL SHOES to wear.

And took it home ... then out for a few crashes. That's when my fear levels reached new highs. I've known how to ride a bike now oh, for 45 years or so? And all of a sudden, I find out that not only can I no longer ride, but that I'm actually TERRIFIED of getting on the bike.

Take the open-water-swim fear, multiply by 1,000 and that's how scared I am of my purty new bike.

And my group had a ride scheduled at 9 a.m. this morning at Hain's point, a part of D.C. popular with cyclists, runners, golfers, fishers. Which means it's busy pretty much all of the time.

I told Number One Daughter I couldn't do it. I was pretty sure I'd have to take the bike back, it was impossible, I WOULD NEVER LEARN to clip in and out. The rest of the night I spent asking myself who was I kidding with this tri-stuff. I'm such a poser. Etc.

Way to pump yourself up!

So of course you all know the ending to this story, because you've read it here oh-so- many-times before. I went this morning, practically frozen with fear, got on the damn bike, clipped in, clipped out, and JUST. DID. IT.

Fifteen miles in 1 hour. And of course, you all also know exactly what I'm going to say next: That I loved it.

Maybe some of you don't know yet that I struggle with anxiety anyway, daily, just going to work, just living. I know it's very chi-chi these days to have "social anxiety" but I've had it for years, and it's a real thing.

So when I say that I'm afraid of something, I mean the I'm-having-a-panic-attack-and-can't-breathe kind of fear.

It ain't pretty.

Yet I keep putting myself in these positions of doing things that evoke exactly that response.

Why? And why, despite all my success stories, do YOU all know before I do that I'll really be OK?

Well, I guess we'd need to drag out the psychiatrist for the answer to that, cuz I dunno. The obvious answer is I have so little faith in myself.

Number One Daughter's BF asked me the other day if I pat myself on the back for any of my accomplishments, and I said, "What accomplishments?" Like seriously, I had no idea what he was talking about.

I guess that's one reason why I need to blog about what I've done. For ME. So that I can remember how scared I was and that I did it anyway and lived to tell the tale.

Maybe one day I'll learn.

(And yes, I'm totally thrilled that I went on this ride this morning. And stayed upright.)


I got some good stuff in the mail this week.

First, I got this:
Outside of card

Inside of card, which included three photos from last year's July 4th 5k, PLUS a pic of my bike, revealed it was from non other than D.C. Spinster!

When you have friends out there finding the Patron Saint of Bicyclists for you, you really have nothing to be afraid of! Thanks, Peter!

Next, I got this bag of WHITE POWDER in the mail:
No, not cocaine! It's protein powder! From 21st Century Mom!

Both 21st and little miss runner have been independently telling me about the virtues of protein powder for weeks now. So 21st sent me a sample, and I gotta tell you: This stuff is great. Blend it with fresh strawberries and soy milk, and you no longer want to gnaw off your arm mid-morning.

Bloggy friends rock.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How to Put on a Wetsuit

I feel that I have a sacred duty to use these pages, err, pixels, to inform and educate. There may be some of you out there who are thinking, me? Wear a wetsuit? In public? No. Way.

Allow me to assuage your concerns.

Today was my very first Open Water Swim, aka "OWS," which means swimming that doesn't take place in a pool. It was a one-mile swim in Lake Audubon, in Reston, Virginia, a swim clinic that was prelude to a race tomorrow.

(You might remember that a few weeks ago I made a slight error and signed up for the race instead of the clinic. An error quickly put right by the lovely race director.)

Remember the morning of your first marathon? Your first 10k? 5K? First day of kindergarten? DO YOU REMEMBER THE STATE OF YOUR NERVES?

Yeah. Like that. I thought I would puke and die just driving there. My main worries were a) digestive (so to speak), and b) what if some horrible song started running through my head and I couldn't get it out????? Also, would I die from the cold (water temp was 64F)? And, lastly, could I finish?

To calm my nerves, the clinic started with a coach telling us how easy it is to DROWN. (I'm not making this up.) But! They had plenty of emergency personnel on hand. The other coaches talked about adrenaline, about how all your blood will go to your core so "don't worry if your lungs tighten up and you CAN'T BREATHE, because that's perfectly normal."


They started us slowly in groups of ten or so, and before I knew it I was in the water, and I started swimming. Kind of just like I do in the pool.

Putting on a brave face.

I took it nice and easy, as advised, and only stopped to see where I was, oh, 10,000 times or so.

The day was gorgeous, beautiful blue skies and nice and sunny.

I. Loved. Every. Minute.

No errant songs filled my brain. I was too busy trying to stay on some sort of course, which you would think might be easy since the course followed the shoreline, but you would be wrong. Mostly what I thought was: Am I last?

I swam freestyle. I felt strong the whole way, didn't get tired, breathing was easy. It was cake!

43 minutes later, I was done.

And I was, once again, DFL*.

(Hey, somebody has to be!)

So back to the wetsuit. I'm posting the photos below as a public service. If I can do this in public, you can too.**

1. Get wetsuit

2. Something about turning the legs inside-out:
Throw your butt in the air and party hardy like you just don't care... c 1979

3. Work it on up your legs:
Hey, Nineteen

4. Do the twist:

5. Now put your arms in:

6. Tug, tug, tug

7. Eh, bonsai!
New tri-friend, S., and me


*Dead F***ing Last

**Or you could just watch this:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

There Was No Blood

Despite not having seen or talked to certain ex-in-laws for 19 years, and despite a bit of fear and trepidation, I can attest that indeed, there was no blood.

Number One Daughter's graduation was swell.

Of course, there may have been one or two glitches here and there.

Such lost cellphone, a missing camera, driving around at 10 p.m. the night before graduation in order to find pitchers for the sangria, one incredibly overpriced "barbeque," some tears, lots of standing around, one regatta, trying to save 18 seats by myself, the bf having to go back to get the missing camera and recover the lost cellphone and getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic so missed the graduate's processing into the stadium, some rain, some sun, more rain, tons of rain, a lovely dinner, some toasts that I hope will forever bury some hatchets, and lots of love.

The graduate, her mom, and her dad

NOD and the BF

Thanks to E for the photos! Especially appreciated since someone left her camera cord somewhere in Philly...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Material Girl

Specialized Dolce

Have you ever seen anything MORE BEAUTIFUL?!?!

And Dolce? Means "SWEET."


Just so you don't get the wrong idea that all of a sudden I'm flush with dough, and tossing it hither and yon, here's where my new bike stacks up in the Specialized lineup (from most to least expensive):
1. S-Works Ruby SL
2. S-Works Ruby Module
3. Ruby Pro
4. Ruby Expert Compact
5. Ruby Expert Triple
6. Ruby Comp Compact
7. Ruby Comp Triple
8. Ruby Comp Frameset
9. Ruby Elite Compact
10. Ruby Elite Triple
11. Dolce Comp
12. Dolce Elite
14. Vita Sport
15. Vita (I think those last two are tricycles.)

It's on order from the lovely Capitol Hill Bikes, which is not exactly my local bike shop, but gets great recommendations. I went Saturday after a grueling 15 mile ride in the freezing rain up a few mountains in Rock Creek Park. So I was a little tired.

After chatting with me, (me: "Do you sell bikes?"), they put me on what looks like an MRI, scanned my brain and took all kinds of PERSONAL measurements. After all that, they chose three bikes they thought might suit me and fit my budget. I was so tired I couldn't tell much difference except this one had a great seat. Which is kind of like buying a car because you like the cupholder. Sigh.

They let me take it out for an hour spin around Capitol Hill to test. And ok, so my trapezious muscles hurt a bit afterwards, but that's to be expected, non? And that will GO AWAY once my muscles develop??? Please??

Of course I didn't buy it Saturday, because that just happens to be against the rules. So I dragged myself to REI where they had a sale—20 percent off all bikes—but sadly, had no salespeople. Now, if I were smart I would have gone to at least five more stores, but I'm not smart, I'm tired.

I went back to CHB on Sunday after church, and of course: They had sold my bike.

But, it's all good cuz I got to order this black one with just a soup├žon of pink. Which, when you think about it, totally reflects my personality. (Dark dark dark, more dark dark dark then? happy happy happy!!!)

For those of you keeping notes, I'm a 56-er.

It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and, after two weeks I get to go back and get a real, personal fitting.

It does NOT come with pedals. Those are separate.

I pick 'er up on Monday.

(Nonsequitor alert: Number One Daughter graduates on Sunday, and I go to Philly on Friday and I STILL HAVE NO PLACE to stay and all the hotels are sold out.)

I might not have a place to stay, but I will have a new bike. I'd like to personally thank my mortgage company for arranging this—and if I could figure out who they are, I would totally thank them.

ORN: 3 treadmill miles yesterday, 10 min pace
OSN: 1550 yards

Friday, May 09, 2008

Who's Your Mama???

So I've been struggling with my swimming.

As with running, I can swim forever as long as you don't ask me to go fast. Unfortunately, they have these pesky little cut-off times in triathlons. The NJ Triathlon swim is 1.5 K (which I JUST looked up and found out equals 1640 yards), and you have to finish it in 1 hour and 15 min.

Easy peasy eh?

So I've been trudging to the pool twice a week, and swimming sets of 100s (I go to one of two pools: one is 25 meters, one is 25 yards. These details matter, people, trust me).

And I've been timing myself. And it's been looking like this:
2:56 (per 100 meters)

and blah blah like that. For a bazillion meters. I can't get faster. I'm toooo slow. Wah wah wah.

And these two tri chicks have been trying, like for-evah, to 'splain swimming to me. To no avail.

But last night My Life Changed. And all because a D.C. Tri nutrition clinic I dragged myself to didn't happen. The nutritionist got stuck in traffic, so we all hung around waiting and I started chatting with a woman who is a Swimmer. Capital S.

Of course I instantly started up my auto-whining and whinging to her and she starting explaining this and that including the concept of "descending." And you know what "descending" means? It means "go faster with each rep." Which normal running people know as the concept of "negative splits."

Finally L. asked me if I had a piece of paper (of course not, let's be real), so another friend donated her Victoria's Secret receipt (you can't make this stuff up, I promise) and on the back of it, L. came up with a workout for this morning's swim.

"But I can't possibly remember all that!," I wailed.

"What you do is you take this here receipt, you WET it, and you SLAP it on a kickboard which you then leave at the end of your lane."

Well hell's bells.

To make a long story longer, and this might not mean anything to non-swimmers (it barely means anything to me except I THINK I'm catching on!), I did this, 1400 yards, my first time EVER this morning (after waking up an hour early by mistake because I screwed up my clock when I set it last night so instead of getting up at 5:30 I got up at 4:30. And wondered if the sun had finally burnt itself out because there was no sunrise. Sigh.) Onward!

200 warm up

4 x 100

2:11 (??)



100 technique

100 easy

I. Did. It.

In 38 minutes! 1400 yards. And I did it descending, too!

I might not have learned how to eat correctly last night but I learned a more important lesson: I ROCK!

Amanda Beard can bite me.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Story So Far

Since this is a purported running-cum-beginning triathlete blog, let's get that stuff out of the way pronto.

Sunday: 5 mile run, wherein I used every bit of strategy I've learned over the past three years (not):

Monday: 15 mile bike, in 1:14, doing intervals 12 min on/3 min off (yes, it would be nice if that meant ON and OFF the bike, but no. It doesn't. I asked.) Time: 1:14 or 12:16 mph

Tuesday: 1200 m swim, which took 38 minutes. Apparently? That's S-L-O-W.

So if you're a runner triathlete, that's the end of this post! Have a great week!

However, if you possess a morbid curiosity, read on...

As you know, I have to look decent at Number One Daughter's looming graduation, but I can't look like I'm trying. I have to look like, "Oh I dress like this every day."

After extensive consultation, [NOTE: Runner Susan LINK FIXED! CLICK HERE!!] Runner Susan decided I needed a personal shopper. Nevermind she's in Texas and I'm in Maryland where I live across the street from Nordstrom's. Susan had to send me the number for the Nordstrom's FREE personal shopper (Libby, Nordstrom's Bethesda) and then she had to harangue me until I actually made an appointment. She wore me down and I called. The personal shopper asked me a few questions on the phone and when I got there, she already had stuff picked out based on my description of "needing to look my age, but not so much."

Have I mentioned how much I loathe and detest shopping? No?

Anyhoo, I had a camera with me because Runner Susan made me take one.

And, she is also is MAKING ME DO THIS. (For the record: I am lodging an official protest against RS on behalf of all people who HATE the way they look in photos (not that you'd know it on this blog) for making me look like a big show-off-y person who can't get enough photos of herself in public. It's not me, it's HER.)

Here we go:
Outfit 1

Outfit 2

Outfit 3

Outfit 4

Outfit 5

Outfit 6

Outfit 7

Outfit 8

Outfit 9, the ONLY outfit I ordered on my own. Step away from the online shopping.

I have never had such a painless shopping experience in my life. My personal shopper gave me two dresses to try before she pronounced me low-waisted and said "dresses are out!" She'd take one look at an outfit and say, "Nope." I loved her! It was like having a best friend who just knows— and isn't afraid to say.

I bought one of these outfits which I can wear not only at graduation, but also at work. Trés practical, non?

I was home in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Girls, this service is FREE. As in FREE.

I don't understand why everyone on earth doesn't know about this! It's FREE!

So which one did I end up with? You decide.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

So Much Fun It Should Be Illegal

How come no one ever told me how much FUN triathlons are? HOW COME? I want answers.

D.C. Tri held a "brick-nic" today, at Centennial Park in Columbia, Maryland.

What's a brick, you ask? (Remember, there are No Dumb Questions.)

What's a "brick" and why is it named so?

* Bike-Run-ICK!
* That's how your legs feel for the first part of the run.
* Named by Mark Sisson and Scott Zagarino one day in 1988 after they completed a Bike-Run workout -- "Just another brick in the wall".
The "nic" part--well, that's from picNIC. Get it?

The regular part of the club was there, riding and running the course in preparation for the upcoming Columbia Triathlon . The new triathletes were riding the Irongirl course, with a 10-minute run afterwards. A brick.

I have to admit I did NOT want to go. I even called Number One Daughter (OK, R, we'll rename her D1), to whine about it. I hadn't signed up for it, I was nervous about it (It was Far Away! There were Serious Triathletes there! People I don't know!) and she told me to HTFU and go and do it.

So I did.

I carefully printed out the "cue" sheet (Why is it called that? I have no idea. It's also known as a "map" or "route") and then after feeling very smug for having printed it out, whereas some Other People Did Not, I promptly left it in the portapotty at the meet-up site.

Which wouldn't matter so much if I was going to be say, riding with Other People. And not 100 miles behind.

After much hemming and hawing about "Do I wear the jacket...or not? Will I get hot? But what if it rains. Then I'll be cold," everyone got sick of hearing me and we all left.

We were on some major roads with some major traffic and an itty-bitty shoulder.

I took this while driving the course afterwards. I'm not crazy enough to take pictures while riding! Only while driving.

I felt good and confident. Right up until I reached for the map in my 27 pockets and could find it nowhere.


That got my heart rate up. Especially because one of the tri-club peeps had said about 100 times before we left, "You will get lost without this map."

Somehow I kept catching people at red lights, or whose bikes had broken, or whatever, and got enough directions to keep me on the right path.

Just for the record, I'd like to state that I have NEVER RIDDEN HILLS before. Or run them. Or even seen them. The course was rolling, long, rolling, looooong endless hills. Like this:
Again, afterwards, in the car.

And this:
This was called something like Mount Kill Me Now Road

Which is where I dropped the chain, or it dropped me. Whatever. It fell off is what happened. Luckily, there was another slow-ish woman in front of me, riding with her AWESOME triathlete brother. I yelled (or cried) and this fellow came back and got my chain back on.

I was instantly smitten.

But that was nothing.

John and his sister Barbara took off up the hill and I soldiered on. Only I noticed a high-pitched whining noise, that got faster as I got faster. It was ANNOYING, and it was coming from my bike.

When I got here:
You don't see THAT in Bethesda!

I caught up with them and said "Do you hear something?" as I passed by. Um yeah. They did.

They both stopped and John pretty much took my bike apart. The bike wheel was misaligned or something.

It was VERY interesting:
You seeing what I 'm seeing?

And that's how John SAVED MY LIFE.

Soon it was time to turnaround. I cut my ride short by 3 miles so that I wouldn't keep people waiting.

14.5 miles in 1:30, a whopping 9.67 miles / hour.

It. Was. Awesome.

It was the most fun thing I've ever done in my life.

And the run? Was. Cake.


Not the usual I-can't-feel-my-legs thing.

And then we had a big picnic, and the next time I get married, I'm doing it in the middle of a triathlon.

A bike store exploded.

A gear store exploded.

L-R, New friends, Lindsey and Sandy, and moi.

The whole group.

And to top off this very long tale, when I got home I discovered a check for $600 in my mailbox, something about an "escrow overpayment."

Now if I were smart and clever, I would totally put that money in my teensy little savings account.

Or if I were smart and clever and spoke Latin, maybe I would say carpe diem, I gotta buy me a lighter bike.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Happiest Girl in the Whole USA

From: Gordon Gerson to me


We have removed you from the 1-mile swim and entered you in the clinic on the 24th. You will be refunded the difference between the two.


Gordon Gerson, Reston Masters Swim Team President and my personal hero
Howzat? HOWZAT? That is just FANTASTIC!!!Look! There are nice people in the world!

So, May 24, I'll be doing this, in case you are thinking of inviting me anywhere:

There will be one clinic at Lake Audubon which starts at 9 AM.

The clinic will be followed by a one mile swim in the lake. The clinic will cover the basics of open-water swimming and provide a chance to swim in Lake Audubon prior to the official swim on Sunday, May 25, 2008.

Swimmers will become familiar with the swim course. Clinic instructors will provide tips on effective and safe swimming during the one- and two-mile swims. The instructors are experienced swimmers and certified safety instructors.

Certified safety instructors. Clinic instructors. Wet suit rentals. No race!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It Was Only a Matter of Time

Before I got in over my head.

Like literally.

Over. My. Head.

Treading water.

Up the creek without a paddle.

My tri club advertised an OWS clinic (I know, I had no idea either. It means "Open Water Swim"), on May 24, because apparently it's a really good idea to have SOME SWIMMING experience in open water before you know, like actually going and jumping into open water, like say, in the Schuylkill River, for your first triathlon, just for example.

So, I noticed late last night, after going out on a school night (to see Mongol D.C. Filmfest), that the deadline for the May 24 Open Water Swim Clinic was May 1. That would be today.

I panicked. I followed the links. Clicked on this and that. Next thing I knew I had spent $75 and was signed up for ...


But did I notice that then? Noooooooooooooooooooo. Toddled off to bed.

This morning, however, as I was swimming my 1000 meters, I started thinking. How far is one mile? It's far. Like...waaaay far. And then I thought about how I hadn't seen anything about a CLINIC when I signed up last night. No, all I saw was something about a race. And it was on the 25th, not the 24th. And it cost $75, not the $30 that the D.C. Tri site had said.

Is it possible that I had MADE A MISTAKE???

After I got to work, I e-mailed my little friend to try to get a handle on the situation:

From jeanne mccann to alejandra:
sorry. i was on a conf call and im'ing and doing 20 thngs at once!

guess what. i just BY MISTAKE signed up for a 1 mile swim. race.
instead of an ows CLINIC.

effing idiot.
and the compassionate response I got?

From alejandra to me:




you might as well sign up for a half-ironman then. 1.2 is all you have to swim!!!!
OK, now she had me just a little bit worried:
Jeanne mccann to alejandra
[expletive deleted]
should i get out of it?
i can swim 1100 meters really slowly. 35 min. how far is a mile?
so, i could do it maybe in an hour?
with lots of breaks? Tell it to me straight.

And straight she gave it to me:
alejandra to me

the thing is...

you're swimming 3:10/100meters.

thats s-l-o-w.

just being honest here...
no. you don't need to do this. nor really probably SHOULD you. a mile is a long way. you're not ready.
Coming from someone who is always standing by, ready to tell me to get my ass in gear and just do it, I kinda took her word for it.

So I wrote to the race director and explained that I'm an idiot and despite the GIANT WARNINGS all over the signup that there are no refunds, I asked for a refund, or at least a chance to get into the OWS clinic, which deadline of course I had missed as I was busy signing up for the "Intro to Half Ironman Swim."


(Stay tuned, the personal shopper exposé is still on! It is SO ON.)