Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take Your Skirt Off, Cancel Your Manicure, and HTFU

Not only am I not running, I am also not swimming, and not biking.

I am, however, doing copious amounts of dips:

and when I say "copious," I mean, well, 10. OK, 15, now up to 20.


It's cold outside.

I quit my gym.

I have a bike trainer, but it's broken.

My favorite running trail looks like this most days:

and my other favorite trail looks like this:

How did I manage in prior years?? Did I just HTFU?

As to swimming ... um, I have no excuse as to why I'm not swimming.

After my sad half-mary, I took 14 days off to recover. I am quite sure this is not a recommended recovery plan.

But just yesterday, I kicked my own ass and ran 3 miles, after 21st C. Mom strongly suggested it. Which is good, because, let's not forget, I have yet another half-mary scheduled for Jan. 30 in the great state of Runner Susan.

And not only that, did I mention that in all the commotion of last fall, somehow, someway I managed to sign up for this??

Eagleman Half-Ironman. 1.2 miles of swimming fun, 56 miles of biking fun (that part might actually BE fun) and 13.1 miles of running fun)

Which is June 30 (165 short days from today).

I'm just not into it.

I mean really. Not. Into. It.

I want to take up knitting. Or reading. Or baking. Needlepoint! Raising orchids. Raising guppies. Something that doesn't require, you know, sweating.

This is how I'm feeling at the moment.

My current ennui might be in part due to the fact that I'm not training with anyone. I'm not in any group. I've been training alone since September. It turns out? That is not so much fun.

So, I've once again signed up for the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development Program. That was a great motivator last year, even though it wasn't the most welcoming group of people. It still got me all kinds of PRs. So hope springs eternal.

And I'm trying to decide what to do about training for this insane 70.3 distance.

I adore D.C. Tri Club, as you know. And they even have a half-iron training program. But...really, there's no one who is at my speed in that group. And that gets discouraging after a while. There's another, way pricier group here in D.C., Team Z, that has a lot of success with folks like me. (I'm not sure why, but some people seem hesitant to recommend these guys, even though everyone I know who has trained with them just LOVES them.) It's about $80/month, and I'm quite sure they will help me get the job done.

So why am I hesitating??

Because I am not all in for Eagleman.

I'm just not.

I'm wavering.

I could still cancel.

I don't even know if I'd get my money back.

I just don't know if I can commit to the kind of training I'll need to do.

I need a bike trainer that works.

I need to feel more comfortable riding outside on my own.

I need to get better at swimming.

Right...but why am I hesitating??

What to do??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Blue Gray Half-Marathon Race Report

Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 13, 2009, age 52
02:42:10 12:22 min./mile

You placed 526 of 557 runners, 236 of 258 Female runners and 19 of 19 in the Women's 50-54 division.

It was the worst of times...it was yeah, the worst of times.

Race day dawned with temps hovering around 35F, the kind of raw cold, gray day with a steady nonstop rain that there is just no escaping and that seeps deep into the bones. Not an invigorating cold, no. More like a pull-the-covers-up-and-put-pillow-over-head-cold.

Well, it could have been worse (it can always be worse). It could have been windy.

I wore my usual Emma Peel outfit: black tights, black turtleneck, blue vest, and then ruined the whole thing by topping it with a yellow rain jacket. I hate running in a rain jacket. I overheat, I hate the way it feels, and I hate the swishy noise it makes. But turns out it was a wise choice since it rained nonstop for the 2 1/2+ hours it took me to finish this bad boy.

Ms. Emma Peel of the Avengers

The race starts with a two-mile fairly rapid descent, followed by a flat mile, followed by a slight uphill, followed by sort of flat until mile 6 where it's another uphill, run around an athletic field and retrace. That nice rapid descent turns into a motherf$#@$^r uphill that if I knew anything about hill grading, I could tell you what it's graded at, but I don't, so I'll just say if I were riding a bike, I would have had to get off and walk.

The hill starts at mile 11 and ends around mile 12 1/2. Did I mention it's a motherf$#@$^r??

I spent the night at the lovely Susie and David's (Susie was one of the original bloggers from the Running Blog Family (for those of you who are new to this sport (I mean the sport of blogging); you should totally go read her archives):

Susie, David, Beau

I drove to Fredericksburg late Saturday afternoon, after a loooong day of swimming, boozing, and general girls-gone-wildness at the off-season triathlon, which quite possibly may not be the best preparation for a half-marathon.

And since we seem to have drifted into the EXCUSE portion of this broadcast, let's carry on, and add as another possibly-less-than-optimal pre-race strategy: not sleeping.

My detox from Klonapin is still going on (nope, not off it yet), and one of the less pleasant side effects is insomnia. If I manage to fall asleep, like clockwork I am bolt upright an hour later. I was wide awake by 3 a.m. the morning of the race, and it wasn't from nerves, cuz I wasn't nervous. (I did have a fascinating dream starring Thomas the Rubbish Marathoner, involving my underwear and...well nevermind. He's a married man! But it was pretty funny.)

Some other fun side effects: dizziness, feeling off-balance, legs feel detached. It really does kind of blow.

And still another factor is heart-rate training, which I started doing this fall. But this race is only the sixth time I've run with a heart-rate monitor, ever, so I'm guessing the training part of heart-rate training has not really had time to kick in.

I knew going into this race, given my long-run times, that it would not be a PR. I really didn't think it would be such a PW. I mean, this was slower than my slowest half-mary ever, which I practically walked and skipped through.

So, I told myself to treat it like a training run, and as such, was prepared to try to stay in Z2. To refresh:

Z2: 149-158 (basic endurance)
Z3: 159-169 (stay out of)
Z4: 170-180 (lactate threshold, pace you can hold for 60-75min)

I knew by mile 3 it wasn't going to be a good day. Even the downhill was hard, I couldn't get into a groove, I couldn't see (rain and fogged up glasses), and I was cranky and unsettled. I couldn't stay in Z2 but couldn't get into Z4. Dehydration? Detox? Desleep? You decide.

1: 10:45 (HR 150)
2: 10:33 (HR 159)
3: 11:14 (HR 167)
4: 11:48 (HR 164)
5: 12:20 (HR 165)
6: 12:30 (HR 165)
7: 13:03 (HR 168)
8: 12:00 (HR 168)
9: 12:18 (HR 172)
10: 13:29 (HR 168) (2:00:05)
11: 12:44 (HR 172)
12: 15:07 (HR 172)
13: 12:37 (HR 179)
.1: 2:10 (HR 180)

I was in the stupid zone the entire way. Lots of effort, no payoff. Not recommended!

I was a block of ice at the end. I'm still cold. I skipped whatever "festivities" there were at the finish, and just grabbed a cup of hot tomato soup (instead of a victory beer, like last year). Susan and David hustled me into their nice warm car, which I proceed to drench. I shivered my way into their house, jumped into a burning hot shower where I watched my body turn various shades of red, and then we all shuffled off to the thing that kept me going when I really wanted to quit: french toast at Amy's of Fredericksburg. And then drove the 60 miles back to d.c. where I sat in a boiling hot tub for a few more hours.

Why do I do these things again????

For you history buffs:

5. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 15, 2008, age 51
2:28:43 11:21 min./mile (10/10) Victoire!

4. National Half, March 29, 2008 age 51
2:31:57 11:36 min./mile (48/53)

3. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 9, 2007 age 50
2:34:26 11:47/min (8/9)

2. Philadelphia Distance Run, September 16, 2007 age 50
2:38:06 12:04 min./mile (221/303)

1. Parks Half Marathon, September 24, 2006 age 49
2:38:15 12:05 min./mile (55/64)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Annual Off-Season Triathlon: Not for the Faint of Heart

I forgot to mention, in my last post, that I have an event in between now and Sunday's half-mary.

It's not for the weak of heart.

It's the


The event begins at 9:00 am with a marathon swim session at the Wilson Pool where workouts will be provided depending on how long you want to swim...T1 is a quick change in the Wilson Locker Room and a caravan down the block...workout #2 involves brunch at Cafe Ole (http://www.cafeoledc.com/) ...T2 will be heading up the block to Envy Nails for workout #3: $30 mani/pedi's (or just one of the 2.)
Your friends in Spandex,
Julia and Karen
AKA, Your Local Organizing Committee
Fine print:
For planning purposes: this is all really close to the Tenleytown Metro stop.
The distance between the pool and brunch is 1 mile. You can probably walk if the weather is ok, or you can move your car. We won't judge you. The distance between the restaurant and nail salon is .4 miles. If you try to drive that distance, then we're all making fun of you. Especially if you are an Ironman.

(Oh, my ass they won't judge!)

How fun is this?? Do I know the most fun people on the planet, or what??

But I must offer one critique: Only three events? That's sissy talk.

I'm going iron.

I'm throwing in a wax.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Guess I Should Write Something Now About Running*

*Or, (title courtesy the lovely Coach Michele Buckley):
"How to Pass Out Naked in Your Office"

Next up, our intrepid heroine tackles the Blue-Gray Half Marathon, Sunday, Dec. 13, 7:30 a.m., departing from the now defunct (the blog not the person) Finally Running Susan's and David's lovely house.

OK, maybe it's technically true I have run a few half-marathons before. Technically.

I think Sunday will be my 7th half. And the question that remains is: WHY?? WHY DO I TORMENT MYSELF LIKE THIS?


My last long run was Saturday, 11 miles. I started out at 7:30 in the cold and rain, having left my rain jacket home. I realized the minute I got in the car that a) it was raining, and b) my rain jacket was upstairs. How is it possible to be lazy when you're about to run 11 miles? I have no idea, but I was too lazy to stop the car and go back upstairs to get my rain jacket, so I ran the first 5.5 miles in the increasingly heavy rain. I was C-O-L-D, but cold usually works for me and this was no exception. I made some decent time, but more important, I was able to stay in the lovely zone two of my heart rate training without a lot of walking.

After the turnaround, it got cold. Maybe high 30s. I was wet and cold and heading into the wind.

And then all of a sudden, someone shook the snow globe and I was running in a winter wonderland.

And just like that, I didn't hate running anymore.

If only I knew which switch to flip so that I could control this process!

I finished my run in 2:10 (the previous week I did 10 miles in 2:07), staggered into my office and tried to change my wet clothes. My fingers were completely numb. They absolutely would not cooperate. Somehow I managed to struggle out of my running bra and wet turtleneck, and then sat in front of my space heater AT MY DESK shivering when all of a sudden the room started spinning..and yep, down I went.

Imagine coming in early Saturday to catch up on a spot of work only to be greeted by that scene??

Have mercy.

In light of The Troubles, my goal for Sunday is to finish (bar too high?? ya think??) I don't think a PR is realistic this go-round, but that's ok. Frankly, I will be thrilled if I cross the finish line anywhere close to 2:30.

(A huge thank you to all of you for your support. You guys are too much.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


"We are all nervous to try because we are all afraid we might fail."

I wrote these very words last week in an e-mail to a friend; I was trying to diagnose her stuck-ness. (In my other career apparently I'm a psychiatrist.) And, being extremely well acquainted with stuck-ness, and all 'round aimlessness, and its cousins procrastination and insecurity, I took a wild-ass guess at what might be lurking behind the scenes: Fear.

It's the thing we're all afraid of!

Is the whole world wandering around in a state of fear?

How did we get like this?? OK, how did I get like this?

And what exactly am I afraid of?

The usual things, I guess. Success. Failure. Pain. Ridicule. Not measuring up. Conflict.

But it all boils down to rejection. I'm afraid that I'm not lovable. Period. END OF STORY.

Which is kind of stupid (also afraid of looking stupid).

Because really.

Most people are kind. Most people are not out to get other people, right? (RIGHT??!) Most people are too busy worrying about their own insecurities. It helps to remember this. It helps me remember that the important part of life is (to paraphrase St. Francis) not so much making sure you are loved, as making sure you remember to love.

Sigh. St. Francis. I know where to set the bar!

Some of you know I have HAD a little problem with anxiety, for which I take this:

I've spent my life being afraid, but I have also spent my life doing things in spite of my fears. It's a bold and brave way to live. It's really the only way to live.

I'm faced with some new things at the moment, and they are kind of scary. I find myself thinking more often about my own and others' mortality. I figure, if I'm lucky (or unlucky, depends on your perspective), maybe I have another 40 years here on earth. And I don't intend to spend them living in fear.

So, I'm tapering off Klonopin. I've been doing this for months, and I can tell you it's no picnic. After I decided to quit, I learned that Klonopin is highly addictive. So, yes, it turns out I'm an addict.

I'm experiencing, and have been experiencing, a lot of side effects from tapering, including racing thoughts, insomnia, impaired vision, obsessions, and this weird-ass thing where I can't quite feel my legs when I run—I think they call it depersonalization? I dunno. I also often feel like I'm looking at myself as an observer (don't I sound fun to be with??!)

(I'll add the usual disclaimer here that I am not suggesting that I have any idea what is right for anyone else when it comes to psychotropic drugs. I don't.)

I'm ready to experience the discomfort of fear and anxiety full-on. I know I'm a stronger person now, a much happier person now, than I was when I started taking this stuff.

All I can tell you is that this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to face. But, on the up side, I'm confident I can get through it, and I'm willing to take the time I need to get through it.

I'm ready to face life without a shield.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Girl's Guide to VO2 Max

Since I've been running around all weekend bragging that I just got my VO2 max tested, the people I've been bragging to have (naturally) asked me to explain what the hell I'm talking about.

Err..."It's a test where you find out how well your body uses oxygen and then you get heart rate targets for different kinds of runs."

So, let's let Ken Mierke at Fitness Concepts, give it a shot:
Maximal aerobic capacity or VO2 Max, the amount of oxygen consumed in one minute of maximal aerobic exercise, is widely considered the standard test for aerobic conditioning. Improving VO2 Max is a crucial step in maximizing endurance performance in any event lasting four minutes or longer. The higher an athlete’s VO2 Max, the greater the contribution of the aerobic system to energy production. This translates into greater endurance at any intensity

There. Got it??

The test involves a 15 minute warm-up on the treadmill (or the bike trainer, depending which activity you want to get training rates for) followed by the donning of a strange, claustrophobia-inducing mask, followed by Ken fiddling with controls and every few minutes leaning over and upping the treadmill speed for about 15 minutes until you want to throw up and keel over.

And then you go for 3 more minutes after that.

Eh, it wasn't so bad. The worst part was that my pals (hi Casey!) kept chatting to Ken, and he would look away from ME ME ME, and I was terrified that he would miss some critical piece of info and I would have to start ALL. OVER.

But never fear: The man is a professional.

A group of us went: Three got tested while running and two while on the bike.

Afterwards, we sat around (posing) while Ken tabulated the results.

The funniest thing was that we all wanted to know how we compared to each other, and how we compared to ... I don't know, the world, I guess. So my actual VO2 max is 36.5.

What do it mean??

Ken kept emphasizing that these results are a snapshot of our bodies, and they are only useful as a training tool. But we are all so conditioned to needing to know if we are fast or slow, or fat or thin, taller or shorter, stronger or weaker than the next guy, that we kept asking Ken everywhichway what these results said about us, individually.

Were they good?

So Ken finally parted with the tidbit that the average VO2 max for women is 28. So yay, I'm better than average. Other than that, I really don't know what good or bad is, although my rational brain tells me if YOUR zone 2 heart rate is lower than mine, yet your pace is faster, then obviously your heart and oxygen systems must be in better shape. But that way lies madness.

Better to just do what the man tells me:

We all got nice fat books explaining what everything means, but Ken broke it down for us. He said we really only need to worry about zones 2, 4 and 5b.

Zone 2 is basic endurance, where you are burning more fat than sugar. (That was pretty much all I need to know.) If you run faster than your (your) zone 2 heart rate, say during long runs, you are not burning fat, and you will not be able to eat french toast afterwards without paying the price.

Zone 4 is your lactate threshold and I don't really know what it means but I like slinging the words around. It makes me feel very runner-y. This is the heart rate at which you do tempo runs.

Zone 5b: Well, I don't like the sound of this, for good reason. It's called the Aerobic Capacity Training zone. This sounds suspiciously like speedwork to me. Ken warns that Zone 5 training carries a high cost and a high benefit, and that a little goes a long way.

Ken says the most common mistake people make is running too fast for the type of run they are doing, thereby expending too much energy, tapping into the wrong fuel source, and not reaping the benefits.

(Please feel free to correct my gross misinformation and oversimplification in the comments. But don't take away my french toast.)

All in all, it was a most pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning, not including the phone call I got in the middle of all this from Number One Daughter, telling me that she had spun out getting on the Beltway and a not-very-nice cop gave her a ticket! My little girl! (She was fine, the car was fine. Thank God.)

But I digress.

I haven't started heart rate training yet, but I'm buying a used Garmin 305 this week ($100, in original package). Somehow I think this will make me magically faster and thinner. I'll be sure to let you know how that works out.

Meantime, enjoy some more pix from our photo shoot:

I'm pretty sure I heard Casey ask for a cigarette.

Becky: "If I close my eyes really tight, I will see unicorns."

Bronwen is just fast. Like insanely fast.

Shelly about to descend.

Et moi, keeping it real.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

I love this time of year. The leaves are still on the trees here in D.C., but falling freely. The air is crisp. It smells like Thanksgiving, woodsmoke, and fresh starts, overlaid with a hint of winter.

What I don't love is trying to figure out what to wear for early morning runs, when the temps can range from the 30s (F) to the low 50s.

You think I would know by now, but I don't.

Lucky for me, I have this handy-dandy temperature chart (Excel file), from a post on dressing for winter running by blogger Joe Ely, over at my old pasttime, CompleteRunning.com.

The chart tells you what you need to wear for temps ranging from 63F to <10F. Of course you can customize it to suit your preferences, but I think Joe pretty much nailed it.

I downloaded this chart when it was first posted back in 2006, and it has saved me from having to think many times over.

And that my friends, is always a good thing.

Hope it helps you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 2009, Spectating Part II

Marathon day dawned bright, cold, and clear.

In all the time we spent together on Saturday, I cleverly made sure never to ask Dianna what she'd be wearing. I guessed something orange (she is the running chick with the ORANGE hat, after all).

More fail.

I climbed up out of Smithsonian Metro station just past mile marker 19, hoping I hadn't missed her, and taking a wild guess that she'd be wearing something orange. At least I had the foresight to ask her what pace she'd be running: 8:30s.

As the crowd streamed by I asked a few marathoners what pace they were running, and pretty much every one of them looked at me like I was nuts and said, "Don't know." (I guess I forgot that you can't answer questions while running a marathon.)

I asked the spectators if they knew what pace these folks were at. No one knew. But on one of those occasions as I was busily chatting up spectators, my back turned to the streaming crow of marathoners someone yelled out, "There goes the 3:30 pacer!"

Dianna was on track for 3:40.

Sure enough, like clockwork, a few seconds later, she saw me.

Yes, she saw ME, and called my name!

We rushed toward each other, gave a quick hug and she was off. And

More fail.

I hurried back onto the Metro, joined the throng and headed for the finish. It took forever to get there, but I fought my way through with minutes to spare. I took up my post at what I thought was around 25.5, and decided to start taking pix to test my readiness,

I am so ready!

Very soon, Dianna approached. I tried the old running backwards—at an 8:30 min mile—while talking and snapping photos. I think you can guess what happened. But just in case you are in ANY doubt...


Turns out I was much closer to the finish, a brutal bit just past mile 26 that is straight uphill. I heard the announcer call Dianna's name. We soon caught up with each other and I asked her if she made Boston. She had! But she was in a world of pain. You can read all about it here.

I took some more crappy photos at the end. Unless you were a stranger and then? Perfection!

If you'd like to contribute to my camera fund, or maybe to the send the photographer to photogaphy school fund, you know where to find me!

It was a fabulous weekend, and I don't know how I manage to know so many fast runners. I enjoy basking in reflected glory, I guess!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 2009, Spectating Part 1

Last weekend was a whirlwind.

My bloggy (and now real-life) friend, Dianna, was coming into town to BQ at the MCM (I love it when I talk like that) and I was lucky enough to watch her do it.

I'd met Dianna (aka the running chick with the orange hat) in the flesh only once before, when she ran Boston in 2007, like this:
I think this was around mile 9

And prior to that, I had only talked to her once, as I was slogging through mile 21 of the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon, when Susie handed me the phone and Dianna wished me well and I blubbered back, "I love you!"

So it's not like she went into this thing blind!

Dianna was staying in Crystal City (Arlington, Va.), near Number One Daughter's domicile. I decided to spend the night at NOD's place so it would be easy to meet up with Dianna on Saturday morning and get to the race expo early. (Also gave me the excuse I've been waiting for to spy on spend the night at NOD's. Turns out? NOD is ridiculously neat and organized. The apple apparently does fall far...) Anywho, I had to get 7 miles in on Saturday morning, so resorted to using the treadmill in NOD's exercise room at 6 a.m.


I kind of forgot how utterly totally miserable 7 miles on a treadmill, in a windowless, airless soul-sapping mirrored exercise room, with some horrible Britney Spear-like videos blaring from the TV, can be. After 1 mile I was swimming in sweat. I could feel the skin rubbing off certain tender parts of my body. HAVE I MENTIONED BEFORE HOW MUCH I HATE RUNNING?

God knows how, but I hung in there, 7 miles all told in 1:20 (11:30 min. miles). My biz done, I washed up, suited up and met Dianna at Pentagon City metro at 8:30 a.m.

I was full of warnings about lines wrapping around the block. Instead, we got there and waltzed right through packet pickup. So much for having the inside poop.

I had, however, cleverly brought NOD's camera with me, instead of my old utterly reliable one, because her's is compact and you can drop it and it won't break. I was going to document Dianna within an inch of her life.


Here's my BEST SHOT of the Expo experience:

Although this isn't too bad:

Pretty funny:

Where's Dianna, you ask??



How about some sexy Marines, at least??


Well, we left the Expo and went on our merry way. First order of business, score some crack:
Chinatown's (D.C.) Starbucks

We toyed with going to the Spy Museum (if you're ever in D.C., definitely go, it's worth every penny), but decided to stay low key and headed instead to the free Smithsonian American Art Museum, where we fooled around in this excellent exhibition. (It never ceases to amaze me how little I take advantage of this city's abundance. Thank God for friends coming to town to pull me off my couch of doom.)

We had some fun there. I took some more excellent photos of inanimate objects:
This is an amazing piece of folk art--an altar composed entirely of tin foil!

Next, we met up with Dianna's travel companions (her friend K was running MCM, and had her husband and two adorable kiddies with her) for lunch, which I conscientiously chronicled thusly:

Kids: one is a boy and one is a girl.

Dianna. I think.

It was right about here that I noticed that just possibly, something was wrong with the camera...

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Water Water Everywhere But How Do I Carry It?

Mon Dieu, 24 comments on a post bitching about water-bottle belts?? Apparently I struck a nerve. Marketers, heads up: Unmet Need Awaits Breakthrough Invention!

I tried to summarize and tabulate from the comments (although some people had trouble committing):

But here's the final tally (as best as I could sort it):

The handsdown winner: Various configurations of multi-bottle fuel belts--7 votes
Runner up: single-bottle holder--4 votes
Handheld--3 votes (I am secretly jealous of people who can run with handhelds because I think they are bad-ass.)
Camelbak--2 votes
Small camelbak--1 vote
Leave cooler by the side of the road--1 vote

There were some equivocal comments left on Facebook, too. One kind soul (thanks Lynn!) even offered to let me borrow her multi-bottle one, although the thought of wearing it makes me cringe.

Finally, a few of you referred me to the excellent Running and Rambling hydration 101 series.

This is obviously a field of study that needs more ... studying. Someone should offer a Ph.D. in fuel bottles/hydration systems/water carriers (first item of business: decide what to call these things.)

The bottom line is: I will have to move out of my comfort zone, and try something new!

Which one will she choose??

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Color Is Your Water Bottle??

Stand back, I'm about to revitalize our sad economy: I'm buying a new water-bottle carrier.

I'm sick of mine. Sick, sick, sick of it!

(Who knew a water belt could garner so much passion??)

The problem with my current carrier, (which holds one-bottle at a rather jaunty angle in the rear) is that the bottle is always bouncing around, the velcro fastener never works right, and the zipper is broken. A trifecta of fail.

But possibly the worst sin of all: It really makes me look fat!

I've tried several makes of water bottle carriers. I'm not a fan of those multi-mini-bottle ones, you know, like this:

I'd rather not publicly identify the maker of the one I currently use, so as not to unintentionally offend anyone longing to send me some belts to test (FTC blogger review rules notwithstanding).

I've never tried a hand-held, but I have a feeling that would also make me crazy.

What I really need is a guy on a bike riding alongside me, handing me various things as I need them (water, gu, bandaids, sympathy, wine, cookies, etc.)

Until that happens, I need to find a fab water-belt carrier.

What we need is a water-beltoff.

What kind of fuel belt do you use, and why? Do you love yours? Why, or why not?

The comments are open!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Secret to Life

In other news: I finally found the perfect apartment on Capitol Hill. (My grand plan is to move into the city, and rent out my condo in Bethesda). I've been looking pretty much every Sunday afternoon.

So I finally found the perfect place: a gorgeous one-bedroom basement apartment with a fireplace (working!) and loads of light, on a much sought-after block.

See? Who would ever guess this is the basement??!

Silly me, I figured that owning my own place and working at the same company for 12 years would make me a shoo-in for any apartment I wanted. The world was my oyster! (Within a certain price range.)

Not so much.

I got turned down.


It's not enough to get rejections from match.com, now I'm not good enough to RENT TO?


I don't think the owners even checked my credit, because they said they'd charge $35 to do so, and I never heard from them.

I'm so naive.

Apparently, they just did not like me. (I know, it boggles the mind.)

Some days I wander around thinking that I'm the only one who doesn't know what the answer is.

I wish someone would spill the beans.

Feel free to leave it in the comments.

We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t' mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi' his belt.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Satan, Thy Name Is Procrastination

Maybe it's the time of the year? Or maybe I have finally found the thing I excel in? Wasting time?

Saturday is "long run" day, but because I'm not running with any particular group (there's no more Trail Snails, sniff!), and no one is waiting for me, this is what happens:

7:00 a.m. Wake up, make breakfast. Get on computer. Read e-mails. Cruise the New York Times.

Look! It's only 7:30! I can get out to the trail by 8, home by 9:30, perfect. Whole day in front of me. I'll just quickly check out the comments on this Washington Post article...

...I can't believe people actually believe that the H1N1 vaccine is a mad pinko Communist gummint plot to take over the world!!! Must lower blood pressure. Let's check Google Reader.

Time: 8 a.m. No problem. I can get on the trail by 8:30, be home by 10. Whole day in front of me. Meanwhile, let's check out Crooks and Liars.

Maybe cruise over to Andrew Sullivan.

There's PLENTY of time to check Facebook.

Just, you know, to see if anyone posted anything interesting.

Wouldn't want to be left out.

WTF!?! How did it get to be 10 a.m.?!?!

And, etc. Like that.

Until it's noon. And then my day is messed up.

Even better is Sunday morning, when I actually DO have to be somewhere by 11ish, and the morning starts the exact same way, with GOBS of time to go for a nice long bike ride, right up until it's 10:30 and TOO LATE to go.

I'm a menace to myself.

Why do I do this?? I didn't used to be like this. Apparently, I cannot be left to my own devices.

Do you do this? How do you stop it?? Cuz it's starting to screw up my life!

In other news, I ran 7 miles on Saturday, which is the farthest I've run since last spring!

It's all coming together!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Uno, Dos, Tres...Cartorce?

I have a perfectly good reason for not blogging.

I've been reading.

No really.

I come home from work, make dinner, curl up on the couch and read.

For like HOURS.


But I know you've been wondering.

And the answer is: YES.

YES, I have been running!

You can read all the gory details right over there --------->

in my little workout log.

After some dithering around, I finally settled on a half-mary training schedule. (As my friend LBTEPA is wont to say: All hail the schedule!)

Runners' World
has a nifty little tool called SmartCoach (thanks for the tip, Adam!) You plug in all your numbers and out pops a training plan.

My training plan calls for three runs a week. (That's not enough, is it? Oh well, it's a start.)

The week of the 20th (one week after Nation's Tri) I put in 14 miles.

Last week, I ran 15 miles.

And so far this week I'm up to 9, with 7 on tap for Saturday.

I LOVE IT. I love having structure. I loves me a good plan! I am ever-so-gradually getting a teensy bit faster.

But mostly I'm trying to help myself learn to like running.

Cuz, you know what?

This s*** is hard!

Harder than cycling, where you're at least sitting down!

Harder than swimming (except for open water, nothing beats that for hard), where you get a wall every now and then!


Who knew?

And speaking of swimming and hatred, I dragged myself back to American University for a structured swim class (sort of pre-Masters') on Sunday nights. This is led by the same evil swim coach that I had in the spring. (Remember "Can you FEEEEL the water?") Yes, Coach Tammy is happy to once more be kicking my ass.

So, I'm starting again, again.

I have many more adventures to tell you about, plus kind of a big story to tell. But that will have to wait.

First, I want to wish great good luck to Adventures-in-the-Thin-Trade-David, who is running the Hartford marathon on Sunday, and Now-the-Plan-Is-This-Allison who is running the Melbourne martathon, her first! Better you than me!

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this video of my boyfriend, the awesome-if-egomaniacal Bono, who was in town to see me a few weeks ago, and who I dragged my friend Sandy to see at a nice intimate concert for 100,000 people at FedEx Field (rant about massive and overpriced, overproduced concerts held for future post) and she has the incriminating photos to prove it (so she says, anyway; ¿Dónde está?, Sandy??!):

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to Basics

I tried a little experiment last week. Instead of scheduling workouts and then blowing them off and feeling guilty, I decided to just take the entire week off. No early wake ups, no swimming, no biking, no running, no spinning!

The result? I felt like crap. Plus? I still felt guilty anyway.


I took off Monday through Friday, and I can't say I recommend this lethargy thing as a strategy, though it did hold a lot of promise. Every day I still felt like I had climbed a mountain. My legs hurt. And of course I still woke up at 6 a.m. And I was kind of miserable. Post-tri season depression? Maybe.

If I have a choice between not working out and feeling guilty, like crap, and gaining 10 lbs in a week, OR working out, feeling guilty, like crap, and not gaining 10 lbs in a week? Well, I guess I might as well work out!

But we all know that I can't workout unless I have a goal. So, after much thinking and tossing and hemming and hawing, I decided that I need to get reacquainted with my oldest blog companion: Running.

But you knew that already.

Yes, I'm going back to basics. Again!

My initial target is the Fredericksburg, Virginia Blue-Gray Half Mary on December 13, which I have run twice before.

But I decided to up the ante a little and sweet-talked Number One Daughter into doing a half-mary with me (her first! Her longest race to date has been a 5k! Bwahahahah!) However, clearly she was going to need something more compelling than a trip to Fredericksburg (no offense).

Disney is closed, sadly.

I looked at Austin. (I do love Austin!) But it's not until Feb. 14. I'll need to be at home fending off all my admirers that day.

So, we looked near Austin: Dallas! (Whatever. I don't really do Texas geography.)

We put the call out to our favorite Dallasian: Runner Susan.

She responded: How about you guys can stay with me? I have plenty of room. I'll heat the hot tub and serve you wine. (Deirdre to me: "Do you think she'll take us shopping?")

So, we found the Dallas White Rock Half-Marathon, Jan. 30, 2010.

I'm going to try to actually stick to a plan. It's a been a long time since I had a plan. I loves me a plan. I'm looking at good old Hal's intermediate, or good old Jeff Galloway's half.

Today was Day One of the get-yourself-ready-to-run week. I ran 3 miles in 34 minutes.

I'll let ya know how Day Two goes!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nation's Tri Race Report: How One Woman Turned an Almost-DNF Into a PR

Nation's Tri, Sept. 13, 2009
Total: 4:02:36 (2008: 4:08:27)
Age: 52
Swim 1.5 K: 46:56 (2:52/100m) (2008: 48:07)
T1: 6:05 (2008: 5:11)
Bike 40K 1:44:59 (14.2 mph) (2008: 1:45 /14.1 mph)
T2: 4:26 (2008: 3:49)
Run 10K: 1:20:12 (12:56 min/mile) (2008: 1:25/13:49 min. mile)
overall place: 3762 out of 3933
division place: 65 out of 71
gender place: 1313 out of 1453

I'm like the boy who cried wolf: I always say I'm not ready, so people tend to tune me out. But this time, I was really not ready.

I haven't been sleeping well. My training wasn't what it should have been. I wasn't mentally prepared. Plus, Saturday I had an argument with the kid so I was a wreck emotionally.

I just wasn't ready.

I got to transition at 4:45 a.m, for my 8:33 a.m. start (this was mostly so I could get a decent parking place). I was in wave # 31, the very last wave.

I seemed to spend a lot of time before they closed transition just staring at my set up. Maybe I was asleep on my feet. It was weird.

(Sidebar: Big shout-out to TIM! an underground reader who recognized me from these pages. HI TIM!!!)

The ladies around me were unfailingly nice and kind, although one had a little trouble with which way to rack and then where to put her stuff. Luckily, this guy is now an official and was on hand to strong-arm her ("hey I think it might be easier if you put your stuff on the other side..." Adam was fresh from a stellar performance at his first SECOND half-Ironman, the day before. I don't even know how he was standing up!)

Soon transition closed and me and 5,999 of my closest friends moved into the holding pen.

I was feeling jittery, like I was hepped up on caffeine, even though I hadn't had any caffeine. I was cold and tired, and my susceptible brain was busy remembering every swim scare story I'd ever heard. I was trying hard to counter all of that by remembering how many times I've done this, and my new favorite line heard the day before at packet pick-up: Swimming is when you get to lay down!

There was a slight breeze, and the water temp was a refreshing 72F, so wetsuit legal.

Into the water, wait 3 minutes, the horn blew and off we went. My legs felt constricted in the wetsuit. I swam for maybe 10 minutes, trying to loosen up and relax. No go. I suddenly knew that I was done. DONE. I wanted no part of this. I was exhausted, I was upset, I had zero confidence, and the buoys just looked too damn far away.

I looked around for a kayaker, and waved to her. She quickly paddled over, and told me to hang on to the end. I told her I was DONE, it was OVER, I wanted OUT. She told me I could rest and then go on if I wanted. No, I said, I am DONE. She had to keep shooing me back to hanging on to the end of the boat; I guess I thought I was going to climb in with her, but no, she had to signal to the jet ski guy. I was so relieved that I was finished. I told her how I'd swum this distance many many times, and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I told her this would be my first DNF. She (cleverly) said it didn't have to be, that I could still start up again if I wanted. Nope, I'm done, I said again.

I hung on for a few minutes, waiting. I starting thinking about all your comments, and about how I was going to explain this to everyone, and how I was going to feel getting my bike and going home. I thought of AJ, and I actually thought of that cheesey saying, "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever." I thought, well, what the hell, if I have to wait, I might as well swim while I'm waiting. I asked "my" kayaker if she would stay besides me while I tried again, and she said sure. So I started.

Major suckfest. I'm not fast but I'm usually pretty steady. Not today. I ended up doing a lot of breast and side stroke on that first leg, which made it seem like I was swimming on a treadmill.

At some point my kayak escort judged that I was going to make it, and took off. I looked around and realized I still had plenty of company.

After about 10,000 years I made it to the first turn and starting swimming across the river, parallel to the bridge. I think it was here that I finally finally FINALLY got into a rhythm and starting swimming freestyle, counting strokes to try to focus my mind. And from then 'til the finish I passed people like they were standing still. Damn, I'm a good swimmer!

It was a miserable, horrible swim. I was pleasantly surprised to see my watch reading 45 minutes when I finally exited.

Swim 1.5 K: 46:56 (2:52/100m)

I'm guessing that my mental freakout meltdown cost me at least 10 minutes. But yay to the 10th power to me for finishing that swim. God must have been with me because there is no way I finished that by myself.

My heart rate was skyhigh. I took my time in transition

T1: 6:05

The bike course was beautiful and I tried to enjoy it but my legs felt like lead. Despite there being 6,000 people on the course, I spent a good deal of it by myself, right up until the last turnaround when I finally got some kind of groove going.

I spent a few miles leapfrogging with two guys, a son and his father. The son was FILMING the dad as they rode, which meant that most of the time they were either riding side-by-side, or drafting, and of course the son wasn't exactly watching where he was going. These guys were a mess, and a menace.


I told them to please move over, that they were riding dangerously, but they ignored me. I finally dropped them because I was really afraid to ride near them. Fear, ladies and gents, is apparently what motivates me to push.

In fact, I was pushing the entire way. Was there a headwind? It felt like it. The course was relatively flat. I concluded that that I was just undertrained. My long weekend training rides, with their long leisurely stops, were just insufficient.

When I start to look forward to running, you know delirium can't be far off. My back was hurting, my neck was hurting, my legs were hurting. This was not fun.

Bike 40K 1:44:59 (14.2 mph)

Despite everything, I managed to beat my bike time of last year (1:46), which should have made me happy. But by this time I was on automatic pilot, just trying not to think.

T2: 4:26

Last night I had figured out that if I ran 13-minute miles, I would PR on the run. Now, 13-minute miles sound quite doable in the abstract, don't they?? I mean I can WALK a mile in 15 minutes.

My heart was pounding as I left transition. The run out was right next to the FINISH line, where hundreds of spectators lined the finish chute, and tons of athletes who had already finished were milling around. It was rough.

And here is where 21st Century Mom gets a big shout-out for encouraging me to run after every bike ride, which I faithfully did. And thank God.
Run out, scarfing a gu. Thanks Ray!

No matter how bad I feel, stick a camera on me and it's all sweetness and unicorns.

Look, I'm really running!

I programmed my brain to make me run for 13 minutes at a pop. If I took a 2-minute walk break, I still had to run 13 minutes. This strategy actually worked.

15:24 1:20:12 (12:56 min/mile)

If I had a dime for every person who encouraged me and told me "looking good," I'd be a rich woman. My DC Tri peeps were at the mile 5 water stop, where I ran thru a gauntlet of high-fives. I love my peeps.

And then, ta-da, I was done.

I was dizzy. My stomach was a mess. Every part of my body hurt, but especially my shoulders. Carrying a bottle of water felt like carrying a 10-lb barbell.

Miserable as it was, props to the race organizers for moving the finish next to transition, which meant no 1.5 mile walk back, like last year.

I walked back to my bike and just sat on the grass for a while til I got the strength to pack up. I headed toward bike out, and stopped by an abandoned water table to fill up my water bottles when a volunteer yelled to me not to use the gallon jug of bottled water because someone had just taken a swig from it. "Dude," I said, "I just swam in the Potomac." I laugh at the germs on a water jug.

When I finally reached bike out, it was locked up. Last year this was one of two exits, but not this year. I almost cried. There were about five volunteers there, so they could have easily been checking people out. One of them, obviously a saint or an angel, or both, took pity on me and opened the gate for me. I think he could tell I was about to lose it.

And then I drove home, feeling sick to my stomach and weak, and just wanting to get into bed.

Verdict? I am one tough cookie.

Also: I have a the greatest friends in the world. Many many thanks to all my blog peeps for your encouraging words, and to my D.C. Tri peeps (Becky, Sandy, Julia, Tuan, Shannon, Lindsey, Carolina, Lynn, Jason, Alejandro, Neal, Hugh, Travis, and all the rest of you!) for putting up with all my bullsh**.

I couldn't do any of this without you.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


What do you do when you're in a slump?

I've been in one for a few weeks and I'm scheduled to compete in the Nation's Tri on Sunday.

I'm contemplating bagging it.

So, what do you do?? How do you get out/over/on top of this thing?