Friday, February 26, 2010


Holy wind, Batman! So the sun hasn't been out since Sunday I think. Sure, fine, I can deal with that because we haven't gotten nearly as much snow as we were supposed to because mostly, aside from a slushy run on Tuesday, it has rained instead. So last night I went to bed early, like I always do, except I spent some time awake while I wondered whether or not the house was going to blow away. You know, I've heard nasty wind outside before, a few gusts here and there, but I have never in my life heard wind so consistently harsh.

A little over a year ago, a tree fell on the house during an ice storm. When that kind of thing happens, you tend to get a bit more jittery when you are hearing hurricane-force winds in the middle of the night. Granted, several of the larger trees left in the back yard after that storm were taken down as a precautionary measure, but it's all woods, so many were left.

At some point I realized that the power was out. This was another flashback to that fun ice storm when not only did a tree fall on the house, but the power went out and didn't come back on for a WEEK. That is not an exaggeration. The storm hit early one Friday morning and power was restored on the following Friday. I tried not to think about it too much and instead set my watch alarm and hoped for the best.

The alarm went off and the fact that it wasn't my clock radio reminded me what had been going on. The good news was that my clock was flashing numbers, so apparently the power was back. I also wasn't hearing any wind at all, so I figured I'd be just fine to head off to the pool to get my swim in. Well, the driveway was covered in debris from blowing trees, but hey, a lot of the snow was gone. I took the right out of my driveway and immediately came upon a huge tree lying across the road and making it impassable. I happen to live on a dead end road, so there's no such thing as a detour. For a minute I thought maybe I'd get out and try and move just enough of it to get by, and then I also noticed that it had ripped down a power line (thankfully not the one that supplies power to my house) and then I also remembered that I'm not Wonder Woman and maybe I should leave the giant-wrapped-in-power-lines tree removal to the professionals.

Ok, so what now? I had an easy run to do, so as long as I was up, I figured I might as well get at least something done. And before you get all worried, it wasn't windy anymore, so I wasn't in danger of getting hit by more falling trees, I just had to watch my step from all of the branches in the road. I managed to climb around the tree and head off for an eerily dark and quiet run. It was super early, this is school vacation week so a lot of people are out of time and of course kids aren't going to school, and it appeared that the power was out almost everywhere along my run route. And also the lawn-mower sound of people's generators running since so many of us had to buy them last year after the ice storm.

Upon my return home the tree was still across the road, so I waited a while before attempting to head for the pool again. Once I did try, I was kind of glad there was a tree in the way in the first place because the power was out at the gym so of course they're closed. I had to take some detours on the way there due to downed trees. Most of the traffic lights aren't working, and whether they are or not a lot of them are all bent at odd angles. The wind was insane. Apparently it may be days for some people to get their power back. I don't know how I got to be one fo the lucky ones with electricity, but maybe having it off for a week a year ago was paying my dues. There are something like 300,000 people without power in the state. So if not being able to swim today is the worst thing that comes out of it for me, I think I'm ok with that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


In case you are not all up on your abbreviations, that title stands for Boston Triathlon Team Indoor Time Trial Race Report. I did this race last year so this was to be a good test on where I am now compared with last year. I have some wattages to report this year on my training rides since I have the Computrainer, but last year I just bought it about 3 days before I started riding outside, so I had no numbers there to compare to.

Last year, this test of my biking skills turned out to be a pretty huge disaster. I can't even begin to describe how badly it went, nor do I really know why that was the case. I just know it sucked bigtime. It was my first experience in an indoor time trial and I had been warned that it was going to be worse than running a 5K. No way, I thought. Nothing can possibly be more painful than running a 5K. Oh, how wrong I was. And I learned the hard way. I remember starting out ok, but then pretty much just plain dying towards the end as my average wattage dropped like a rock and my heart rate jumped to 194 while my eyes crossed and I think I started drooling. Once I finally finished last in my heat, I collapsed in a heap over my handlebars and it took several minutes for me to regain the strength to sit up again.

This year wasn't quite like that. Oh sure, it was painful, but it was also far more tolerable, and the result was so much better. The circumstances were slightly different, as last year this race came at the end of a build week and this week it was at the end of a rest week, but that only counts for so much, and in this case it was way too much of a difference for it to be the only reason for such a drastic improvement.

Sure, it helped that yesterday was a total rest day. I can't tell you how happy I was to know that there was a Saturday morning in which I could just get out of bed whenever I felt like it and I didn't have to get on my bike for hours on end. I'd also have loved to scarf down some chocolate chip pancakes or something, but this was not that kind of day. I just had to enjoy the couch time. I'd say I made it to about 11am before I started going crazy. Fortunately, TBS had a pretty good Saturday movie line-up on. Between that, reading and learning a couple of new songs on my guitar, I filled the time. I sure did get my rest.

Anyway, this morning was the second day in a row in which I did not have to get up early for anything in particular since my heat didn't go off until 12:20 and it takes me about an hour to get to Boston. Or at least, it's supposed to. After some more TV watching (mellowing out and prepping for the race) my applesauce and such (1.5 cups is a whole lot easier to get down than the 3 cups I have to do before an Ironman) I was in the car and headed downtown. This year was also better than last year because it wasn't snowing and scary to drive down. Just sunny and windy.

I should've learned from my mistake of last year following these directions that Google maps is unaware that there is no longer a Charlesgate exit off Storrow Drive. I lived less than a mile from Comm Ave for 4 years and know exactly where it is and should've trusted my instincts to get off at Fenway, but no, I decided to follow the directions and wind up backtracking my way through Brookline, hitting red lights every 30 feet and watching the clock tick closer and closer to my heat. And then when I finally made my way to Comm Ave, the home of Landry's, I couldn't turn the direction I needed to go. Can you say frustration? I wound up being probably 40 minutes later than I needed to be after finding myself a parking space on some side street and making my way inside. I had at least managed to get down some caffeine before, so I was ready to go in that regard.

Once inside, I went to register and I wasn't all that worried because I remembered that last year they were running really late and we started at least 30 minutes after we were supposed to. Well, just my luck, we were set to start exactly on time. Great. I had just enough time to strip off my warm clothes, throw on my bike shoes, down my gel and walk over to where the guy was setting up my bike. I was supposed to warm up before, but that wasn't going to happen. That didn't bother me though, I've never been much for warming up. So after holding up the whole group (I knew almost all of them anyway, they can give me a hard time later) it was finally just about time to get started. Callibrated, ready to go.

Off we went. Suddenly I realized I couldn't remember if I was supposed to shoot for 275 watts or 285 watts. But for the first few minutes it didn't really matter anyway because I was sort of lost and spaced out and not sure what to focus my attention on. I also realized early on that due to the fact that my bike has been attached to my computrainer and in the same gear for the past 3 months or so, it was suddenly nearly impossible to change gears. The course was "hilly" so changing gears would be helpful. After a few minutes of thinking maybe I could get through without changing gears, I decided I needed to be a bit more forceful with my shifters, and eventually they loosened up enough that I could at least use a few of the middle cogs, even if I couldn't get to all of them.

When I finally was able to turn my attention to my watts on the screen, I saw that I was well over 300. Now, granted, I couldn't remember the exact number I was supposed to hit, but I for sure knew that it was not over 300, so I tried to settle down a bit. I had been worried about this ride since I hadn't done any hard bike workouts since... um, September I think? Maybe you can count my bike ride in Kona, but mostly that ride just destroyed my will to live (ever face a head wind for the last 30 miles of 112 mile ride when it's 90+ degrees out and you know you're going to drop out of the stupid race anyway? I don't recommend it) So I really didn't think that it was going to go well.

Somewhere in the middle of the 10K effort I settled down a bit and stayed closer to where I was supposed to be, or at least where I thought I was supposed to be. Somewhere towards the middle I started feeling that painful burning in my legs that made me wonder how far away I might be from what I consdered to be the inevitable crash and burn. But there were a few "downhills" that I spun out and relaxed a bit on before upping the gears again and pushing it.

The last stretch is up, up, up. I wasn't looking forward to it. But I decided to just put my head down and try and maintain a steady but hard pace. It was all going to be over soon. Then at some point the guy started saying that I was on pace to take the lead for the women on the day, so I can't say that that didn't suddenly motivate me to push a little harder. The worst part I think is when other people in your heat start finishing and you're still going. All those guys who can push well over 300 watts. It's not fair. But I was getting closer. At some point I finally kicked it into a big gear, stood up and pushed my way to the end, finishing in some amount of time I can't at all remember, but definitely several minutes faster than last year. I averaged 282 watts which was a whopping 50 watts faster than last year. It's hard to compare last year with this year, since I was in such a bad place 365 days ago, but it's still nice to know that there was a lot of improvement.

It's such a good feeling to have a positive experience. And ok, just after I typed that sentence I was thinking about when the last positive triathlon-type experience I've had was, and it was at the beginning of September, when I won a tiny sprint race nearly 6 months ago. No WONDER I've felt so crappy about my training and racing lately! Hopefully I won't screw it all up immediately by having a horrible race next weekend in Hyannis. But for now, I'll just bask in my time trial effort and be glad that I was late and didn't waste all of that extra energy on a stupid warm-up. (I'm kidding about that last part, surely I would've averaged at least 325 watts if I had warmed up properly and not been so rushed... and yes, I'm kidding about that, too.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ironman dreams already?

I'd be willing to guess that everyone who has ever done an Ironman has dreams about it leading up to the race. I can recall many, and of course most of them are about things going horribly wrong. The one exception is the time I did, in fact, dream that I won Ironman Hawaii. The catch? The finish involved running a series of very small laps around my grandmother's living room (she lives nowhere near Hawaii, but for some reason, that was where the finish was) so I'm not sure how legitimate that win was.

Usually it's a dream where suddenly it's race day and I realize I'm severely undertrained, but maybe if I go slow enough, I'll still be able to make it through. I've never had the one where I get to T1 and my bike isn't there, but I've been late to the start. In some cases, I think really late. Like late enough that people were already finishing, but I decided to jump in the water and do the race anyway.

Last night I had a dream that I was in Hawaii (that was presumptuous of me, wasn't it?) I was with a bunch of my QT2 teammates and we were staying at this big hotel complex that was way, way way up the hill. So far up, in fact, that we woke up race morning and it had snowed. And for some other reason I still can't figure out, the swim was changed from the bay to this sort of tide pool roughly the size of a backyard pool.

These are the kinds of senseless ramblings you're going to get from me when I have a rest week and don't have too much training to do.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Time for a REST WEEK

Just about the only thing that got me through my Sunday workouts was the knowledge that they were the only things standing between me and my rest week. Not to mention two complete days off from running. I ran a lot this week. I need a break. Yesterday was a pretty unreasonably long time to spend on my bike in my basement going nowhere. After a certain amount of time on the trainer I swear my skin starts to hurt from sweating for such a long time. But, as usual, I always find that the first half of the ride is the worst. Then later on, it's kind of crazy to know that suddenly I feel pretty good about the fact that I "only" have two hours to go.

And of course, after all of that, it's time to go out and brave the cold once again for a run. Somehow though, that transition run after my long run is always my favorite run of the week. I think part of it is just pure relief that I am no longer sitting in my bike saddle. And then of course the knowledge that when I'm done I can finally take a desperately needed shower and not feel the slightest bit of guilt at spending some quality time on the couch in front of the TV afterward. It has also warmed up to the freezing point lately, so I didn't have to wear the same stupid gore-tex windbreaker I've had to wear on 90% of my runs for the past three months.

Today was probably my "best" long run so far. If you knew how the other ones went, you wouldn't be that impressed. But the important thing is that I don't have to do one this week. I need to seriously savor this rest week because after that, the next 10 weeks to Utah are going to be incredibly tough. A bike time trial next weekend, a half marathon the following Sunday (one in which I sincerely wish I'd signed up under an alias) three more weeks of hard training, another rest week that involves traveling to California and starting my tri season with a 70.3, then nothing left to do but peak and taper. It's incredibly scary to me to know how close my first Ironman of the season is. It makes me remember back to when I had the bright idea to go to Ironman Arizona and felt like I was crazy doing 100-mile bike rides in January. However, back then I was at least smart enough to rent myself a condo in Phoenix so I could train outside. But apparently my intelligence in that department disappeared with my running ability.

So this week will give me not one, but TWO days off. I don't think I've ever been given two days off in a week that wasn't leading up to an Ironman, but I am certainly not complaining. Especially knowing what I'm in for during the weeks after. (have you ever had to ride your bike for four hours after running a half marathon? It's not exactly the funnest thing ever)

Only downside to the rest week? Not much training means way less food. I'm already in trouble because the food dreams have started to become more frequent. Last season I distinctly remember a dream in which I had an ice cream sundae that was so big I was eating it out of a giant trash barrell. The other night I had a dream that I was in Lake Placid and I had apparently finished the Ironman again a little while earlier. It was dark and quiet, and I was with a few friends in some building on Main Street waiting for them when someone came in and told us that the Ben & Jerry's was closed for the night. I was absolutely devastated. Kind of a funny dream for so many reasons, one of which being that not once have I ever actually made it to Ben & Jerry's after any of my six finishes up there. It probably does mean that I have to start researching ice cream places close to the Utah finish line.

So enough about my crazy subconscious. Yep, as you can see, I'm not that deep.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is February over yet?

When it comes to the weather around here, it seems that often times we will fall into a bit of a pattern. Last winter I remember there always seemed to be snowstorms on Monday mornings. I also recall that it was also always especially cold and windy whenever it was time for me to do my hill running workout. This year, although snow has been notably (and quite thankfully, I might add) absent, but it seems that Sunday has taken over as the especially cold and always super windy day. How do I notice this? Because Sunday is the day in which I have to do my long run and spend the most time outside fighting the elements. And trust me, when Sunday rolls around and once again it's time for me to head out with windchills in the single digits or possibly even below zero, I remember that merely seven days prior I had to do the same thing.

I like to think of myself as someone who isn't a weather wimp. I ride in the rain, I ride in the cold, I run in the same. The weather race day could very well suck (and somehow it so often does) so you might as well get used to it. However, there are times when it just starts getting old. Last weekend I returned from my long run with ice formed from my sweat in the liner of my jacket. This weekend I had the infamous split long run, where I'd run an hour, then go out and run another hour later on in the day after a bike ride. I guess the good news was that although there was enough time for ice to form, I had to work up the motivation to head out into the cold twice. And the second time is even harder because I don't exactly have a vast array of wardrobe options when it comes to incredibly cold weather. So my warmest jacket - the only one adequate to run in under such windy conditions - of course did not have time to dry between runs. Hat and gloves? Nope. I put them all in front of the fire, but it didn't help. At least I'd be starting in a clean shirt, socks and tights, but it still wasn't very much fun.

But hey, I guess I should at least be glad it's not snowing. Which is more than I can say for the mid atlantic. Nope, we're dry as can be up here, which is why it's so cold and windy. The sun is out a lot, which does little to help in warming things up.

Ok, if you're still reading after a boring, several-paragraph tirade on the cold weather, I guess I'll mention that the other night we had a little QT2 bowling night to show off a different set of "skills". I use the term quite loosely, you'll see. I hadn't been bowling in about a year-and-a-half, and I know that time was candlepin. Can't recall the last time I went "real" bowling. Fortunately, it appeared that for the most part my teammates weren't a whole lot better off than I was. Still, it was a fun evening and nice to get out and do something normal instead of getting together with the same people to swim, bike, run, race, etc. When we're out of season and not seeing each other a lot, it starts to feel pretty isolated.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day

What a silly "holiday." Are we honestly expected to believe that winter might end now? Around here we'd be lucky if it ended in 6 weeks. But at least it means that Groundhog Day the movie is on TV. Honestly, it's one of those movies you sometimes forget is that brilliant. I should've watched that one on the trainer this morning for my bike ride.

I think last year at this point I was pretty miserable with the winter. I'm not thrilled with it now either, but in spite of the arctic chill in the air, we've at least been spared from too much snow, which is more than I can say for the winters of '07 and '08 when we got dumped on on a regular basis. With the exception of this one little pocket of my driveway that never sees the sun and therefore never melts, I haven't even had to worry about slipping on ice or anything. Currently I am choosing to ignore the fact that it is, in fact, supposed to snow tomorrow. At least it doesn't sound like it'll be too bad.

This week begins my extra key run workout in an attempt to make me suck less at running. Normally today would've been a transition run after a hard bike ride, but instead it was an added tempo run. The good news is that I actually felt pretty good. I'm almost completely not sick anymore, which is helping... but let's just hope that remains to be the case.