The Return of Hammer Butt

Rites of passage… (is it it repassage?)

One of the very last things I need to do to consider myself “fully recovered” (more important, to really feel like myself again) from the year and a half of hemorrhaging followed by recovering from two surgeries was to sign up to do another triathlon which I haven’t done in well over two years. I’ve coached and been a “swim angel” for Danskin and a “swim sister” for Trek, but haven’t competed myself in far too long.

Since I only just got back to running and did my first 5K since it all began two weeks ago, haven’t logged any serious mileage on my bike because I’ve only been commuting back and forth to downtown and Proctor on the beast of a commuter bike, and haven’t done an open water swim since volunteering as a swim angel at Danskin two years ago, I was hoping to find one that took place in late September or maybe even early October to give me enough time to, oh you know… actually get trained up

After I posted my intent to do a triathlon on my accountability group, I went online to sign up for one of the races I was certain would be in September. Sadly, there were no Bob Green races (my first ever tri) on the calender, No Trek Women’s Tri that I can find this year, the Subaru Tri (my first USAT sanctioned race) is now the Toyota Tri and happened early this year. My last hope, the Black Diamond Triathlon is on Saturday this year, and I work Saturdays.

So I signed up for the Meridian Lake triathlon, Which is… August 26th.

I am in NO way trained up or ready for this. (at least I was smart enough to sign up for just the sprint distance and didn’t try to get right back to Olympic distance)

I hopped on Diva, my carbon fiber triathlon bike that has not left the basement for over two years, for a quick spin around the Scott Pierson Trail to see just how out of bike shape I am.

First Sunny Ride of 2010 - Febraury Insanity 001

I almost crashed within the first block because being a full carbon bike, it weighs next to nothing and felt super squirrelly, especially with the areobars.

I’ve been riding on the platfrom side of my combo pedals on the commuter bike wearing flipflops, so I’m also not used to being clipped to the pedals; having to come to a fast stop and not getting stuck and crashing is a concern at this point.

I managed an 11 mile ride (need to get up to 15 for the tri) and managed not to crash . I’ll be fitting longer rides in wherever I can for the next two weeks. I’ll start commuting to work on my road bike and taking the long way home as well.

Yesterday was the big day.

I headed out to Steele Lake for a solo open water swim.

I couldn’t find parking in my usual spot down by the boat ramp, so I had to put on my wetsuit the in main parking area. I’m sure it was a source of entertainment for a lot of folks. I’m thankful that we start out suited up, and that putting the suit on is not counted in transition time.

It wasn’t pretty. It was slow, clumsy, executed with very poor technique and it was pianfully apparent that I am extremely out of shape swimming wise, as I had to stop to catch my breath a lot and was a bit “wheezy” (common for me to not expand my lungs fully when they are compressed by the wetsuit)

The first mishap was forgetting to put my nose clips on. The first time I put my face in the water a huge rush of burning lake water rushed into my sinuses. In addition to the fact that it is painful because it’s the wrong pH, I got my first ever sinus infection a few years ago training in this lake (which being surrounded by houses/yards/septic tanks/dogs/fertilizers/etc…) is not what you want to have up your nose.

After a few stops to blow the water out of my nose I started getting into my rhythm. I’m still doing OK breathing bilaterally, but my sighting is off and I need to really work on that so that I don’t get off course during the tri.

I made it just shy of a mile.

I chose to swim off the beach rather than the boat ramp so that I could get someone to watch my shoes for me (and perhaps call 911 if I disappeared under water, in which case the lifeguard can would be a good marker as to where to find the carcass) and because the last time I swam off the boat ramp (where a lot of people fish) I stepped on a fish hook which embedded into the neoprene socks I was (thankfully) wearing at the time because the water was super cold.

What I didn’t realize is that there is freaking MILFOIL in the beach area. I didn’t notice it going out, but coming back, the first time I tried to put my feet on the bottom, I stepped in a big matt of it, and almost squealed like a girl. Being completely squigged out by the stuff, I flipped over onto my back and swam the rest of the way in that way until there was sand underneath.

The whole thing, start to finish was undignified, including realizing that I have completely lost the skill of getting out of the wetsuit quickly meaning my T1 transition time is going to suck.

But any open water swim (especially solo) you can walk away from right?

I also managed to get my run mileage back up to five miles, as I had to start over from ground zero after having my innards poked, prodded, cut, scraped and burned. It used to be that I never bothered to go on a run that was less than five miles, it has since become a goal. Life is weird.

I headed out to Pt Defiance and had a lovely run around Five Mile Drive. I took it very easy since increasing my long run distance or overall mileage too quickly will put me at risk for another round of illiotibal band injury, but I ran the whole loop (in the reverse direction going up the vomit worthy hill by the zoo and again between Camp 6 and Fort Nisqually) and I felt good afterward.

I did finally achieve one of my major goals this week, and that was to dump the 25 (yes TWENTY FIVE) pounds I gained whilst dealing with all the stress, medical, surgical crap and not being able to work out. (and of course, hanging out with those who regularly ate and drank to excess over the holidays which I will not be doing again)

I forget how much it is because all I can see is how much work I still have to do to fix my body composition fat/muscle ratio (and then there’s that whole, pushing 50 body changing stuff that goes on as well) so I only realize it when others who haven’t seen me for a while comment.

Several folks have asked how I did it.

The answer is, “There is no quick fix, there is no magic pill and there is no substitute for discipline and hard work.”

I ate and drank less and exercised more.

I dumped foods out of my diet that where empty calories and focused on nutrient dense healthier foods.

The very hard part was changing who I spent a majority of my time with.

When one is making any big changes in their life (even if it’s just getting back to who you used to be) you do have to be conscious about who you are spending your time with

If you hang out with people who regularly drink to excess and base their social life around alcohol and usually too much food; it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to be healthy. Some will want to be supportive, but it’s just a bad environment, and others will actually (be it intentionally or unintentionally) sabotage your efforts by telling you that you’re “no fun anymore”, “loosen up, just this once; it won’t hurt” or by filling up your glass when you aren’t paying attention or shoveling more unhealthy food onto your plate.

I’ve actually had morbidly obese friends tell me that I’m “too skinny” and “look anorexic” (uh, hello, I just barely got under 150 which is right in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height) When I was running marathons, I was down to my high school track running weight of 135.

Trust me, it’s much easier to be healthy (and happy) when you’re around other people who have the same goal. (as an added bonus, it tends to put you in a much more drama free environment)

All of these scenarios have happened to me at the hands of well meaning friends, despite the fact that my blood pressure had risen to a level where I could have had a heart attack or stroke at any time and had to have my second surgery postponed because they were afraid I’d stroke on the operating table.

None of this is about vanity (as has been asserted by one or two of my less than supportive “friends”) it has been about not just regaining but literally saving my life.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever hang out with your “party friends” just that it’s best to limit that time and when you do see them, try to do so in a more controlled environment.

I cut out most alcohol. When I do indulge, maybe twice a week, it’s normally only one beverage; maybe two if it was after a good workout like in the beer garden at the Great Kilted Run. I did have three glasses of wine over the course of a long night at a long awaited reunion with friends, and I made sure to work my butt off before I headed over there so that I had the extra calories to burn for both the wine and the wonderful desert that included ice cream and drank plenty of water. And of course, these are friends who would have totally supported my stopping at one glass (or not having any) had I so chosen.

I do still treat myself (I had Anthony’s Salmon and Chips and a beer just the other night) but do so on days that I’ve burned enough calories to allow it.

A tool that I have found incredibly useful is

It works on a computer/tablet and there is an Android app (I’m assuming it’s available for iPhone as well)

Your program your personal information, height, weight, goals (how many pounds a week to lose) and it tells you how many calories you should eat/drink each day to achieve that goal (to lose a pound a week you need a 500 calorie a day defecit, 500 X 7 = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat)

Once that is done, you log everything you eat and drink into the program and it keeps a running tally of how many more calories (and other variables you want to track such as carbs, protien, fat, iron, etc…

If you want to “earn” more calories, you have to exercise (which you should do anyway) you just enter the type of exercise you did, how long you did it and the program calculates and adjusts how many more calories you can consume that day and still meet your goals.

It holds you accountable and teaches (or re-teaches) you to think of food as fuel (which is what it is)

I have lost 25 pounds without depriving myself (which just leads to binging) While I try to eat mostly healthy foods, I have enjoyed pizza, beer, ice cream, mexican food, the occasional margarita, fish & chips, real cream in my coffee and real butter on my baked goods.

The other tool that my friend Christina told me about is the FitBit

It’s super tiny and I just wear it clipped onto my bra.

While I’ve never been a fan of pedometers, this thing is a “pedometer on steroids” has a great computer interface and integrates with many other programs including MyFitnessPal.

It not only measures steps taken, but floors climbed (there’s some motivation to take the stairs) calories burned, etc… I’ve found that it’s pretty darn accurate.

I syncs with your computer and keeps a running tally of your steps, miles, floors, calories burned and active score.

You enter your information, set goals and it tells you what you have achieved each day.

For me, that number on my desktop goads me into doing a bit more before the day is over.

One of the really cool things it does, is measure your sleep; how long it takes you to go to sleep, how many times you wake up at night and calculates your sleep efficiency. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, so this is actually important to know.

I do not have it synced to MyFitnessPal, because not everything I do is recorded by the FitBit (cylcing/swimming) and while you can manually enter it, I like using it as a separate tool which I can double check against.

I still have a LOT of work to do (at a few weeks away from turning 50 it’s not as easy as it used to be) but…

Hammer Butt is back… (I’ll be taking an updated Hammer Butt photo before the tri…)


~ L

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Kicking It Into High Gear-Getting Fit in Tacoma

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions-I do birthday/Samhain/Celtic New Year challenges at the end of October, but that’s another story all together.

January still lends its self to getting back on a schedule after the hectic holidays, and in the case of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, getting back on track so we don’t crash/bonk/vomit/have to push our bikes up hills

I got super out of shape last summer after breaking the foot/big toe, moving, renovating, etc… Then I took the nasty fall down the attic stairs, then the holidays (a time of year in which I take entertaining and celebrating quite seriously) hit.

January is IT by golly, I was going to do it! It was perfect timing; the holidays were over, I was healed up and friends were also motivated.

Well, of course, I got sick. Not only did I get sick, but I got hit with the upper respiratory infection from hell that took out almost everyone I knew (including the uber fit and healthy).

So I started (two weeks) late, but at least I DID start.

I need to be in good shape for Chilly Hilly at the end of February. Leo and I are ride reffing again, and it’s just bad form to vomit while pushing one’s bike up the hill when you are an event volunteer and supposed to look like you know what you’re doing 😉

Chilly Hilly 2010 009

Chilly Hilly 2010 020

January is when my running group, the penguins (yes, that IS because we waddle, why do you ask?) begins our virtual trek to Frostbite Falls (if you click on the link, my friend Karen explains the challenge which anyone is welcome to join)

Since I’m a “Tri-Penguin” I usually swim, bike and run to the falls (I’ve also been known to ski and snowshoe)

Since I’ve been on the spin bikes as opposed to my real bike, it’s taking me more than 100 miles to actually get there 😉

I keep a spreadsheet with distance/mileage, time, calories burned, elevation gain… to track my progress.

My friend Francine found a great smartphone/online program (yes, there are several including RunKeeper and Nike which a lot of my friends use) called Endomondo which not only helps track, but acts as a social networking/motivating tool.

What I like about this particular program is that not only can you use your GPS enabled smart phone to track and transmit your data. It will also take Garmin uploads (my preferred fitness tool, but it’s nice to know I can use my phone in a pinch) as well as manual data. It also supports many sports/activities that other programs don’t. You can also connect it to Facebook if you want to share your workouts with your friends.

My totals thus far: (remember, I didn’t start until Jan 15th, so it’s only two weeks, not a full month)

Cycling: 90 miles, 4048 calories, 5 hours
Running: 15.33 miles, 1998 calories, 4:42
Walking: 8.97 miles, 439 calories, 2:45
Swimming: 6 miles, 2453 calories, 4:30

I also tracked 4 upper body workouts, 0 miles, 476 calories, 2 hours

run in the park

So that’s 19 hours spent exercising…
120.30 miles covered
And 9,414 extra calorie burned (yes, that should be nearly three pounds lost, but since I’m gaining muscle back which weighs more than the fat I’m losing, I’m holding steady on the device to be avoided because it tells you nothing about fitness, the scale)

It’s a start.

If you want to join Endomondo to help motivate yourself and your friends (networking with friends sure keeps one honest on getting out there and doing it) you can do so by making with the clicky clicky here.

If you’re one of my friends and looking to connect, you’ll recognize this picture from last year’s St Paddy’s Day Dash in Seattle (the back side of my shamrock shorts says “feeling lucky”

In addition to sites such as the Penguin Runners and there are some great local resources.

Most Notably the “Y” (YMCA) of Pierce & Kitsap Counties Did you know that swim lessons from beginner to masters are included in your membership fee and that membership fees work on a sliding scale for those whose finances might not allow them to join otherwise?

Another is the Tacoma (Beer) runners

Another is the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club

We have a local version of the penguin list; it’s not been very active lately, but a group of interested locals could change that. Puget Sound Penguins

For those interested in Triathlon, there is South Sound Triatheletes

My short term event goals are Chilly Hilly, the Tacoma St Patty’s Day run, the Seattle St Patty’s Day Dash, and the Tacoma City Half Marathon. I haven’t set my triathlon schedule yet.

See you on the trails…


It Hurts so GOOD

This morning, despite the fact that I over slept and had to hustle to eat (enough so that I wouldn’t bonk, but not so much I’d barf), drink and get geared up for Spin (OK, at the “Y” it’s called “Group Cycling” for legal reasons)

I’ve been nervous about going back to Spin class due to how out of shape I am right now (yeah, I know, no one knows what the tension is set to on your bike but you and you don’t have to do the standing work if you’re not up to it)

It was a good, hour long, hard climbing workout and I did just fine. I’m apparently not is a bad a shape as I though I was, as I was fine on the standing work and didn’t reach my target heart rate until late in the workout on the big hill sections.

It was hard, and my quads are a tiny bit cranky, but it felt GREAT!

If I keep this up, I might not make an ass out of myself on Chilly Hilly (it just doesn’t look good for a ride ref to bonk or walk a bike up one of the hills)

This has nothing to do with “resolutions” (which I don’t do), and everything to do with the fact that I look and feel GROSS.

Last year was not a good workout year. I had all the “escrow from hell” stress, packing, moving, working on the yard and house (which was at least some exercise) and broken foot/big toe. I didn’t do ANY triathlons last year. (I did volunteer as a swim angel for Danskin and Trek and did coach some women in open water swimming) By the time I had the big projects done around the house it was holiday prep time and I had that lovely fall down the attic stairs. As soon as the holidays were over, I got this nasty upper respiratory/sinus crud that totally knocked me on my butt.

When I’m not working out and in shape, I don’t sleep well, and my immune system is not what it should be.

It was NOT a good year for fitness, working out, discipline nor keeping to any sort of schedule, and I’m paying the price for it now. The only thing that saved me was some early season hiking in the spring, and a bunch of good hard hikes in the fall.

Last night, I sat down and put my workout schedule on paper (OK, pixels) because having it printed up on my fridge and at work “keeps me honest”. I’m more likely to follow through with a written plan than random neurons firing in my head.

I also log what I actually log everything I do on a spreadsheet which tracks my time spent, mileage and calories burned by activities, and provides monthly totals.

The other thing that “keeps me honest” is putting it out where OTHER people can see it.

So here it is.

workout schedule 2011

Some things to note…

Everyone needs rest days scheduled. Our bodies get stronger when we rest and they rebuild. I have seven days a week scheduled because my body doesn’t usually want/need the rest day when it is scheduled. One day I way up, feeling exhausted and my resting heart rate is higher than normal and that tells me I need to rest. Whatever day of the week my body feels burnt out, will be the rest day. (I’m going for one rest day a week)

This may look “extreme” to some, but it’s not (as a matter of fact, it will get harder later in the season when I add long runs and bricks). I’m a triathelte. One who competes in three disciplines in one event, can’t just do one type of workout a day; it’s impossible to get enough training in each event. It’s also important to do “bricks” where you transition from one event to the next to train your body to be used to it. (running, after a hard, quad burning bike ride is disorienting and painful; the first time I did it in a duathlon, I was so wobbly and disorientated, I nearly ran into a tree)

Any day that I have the option of biking OUTSIDE, or skiing or snowshoeing or hiking is a day that I won’t be doing these, mostly inside at this time of year workouts.

I am super lucky to have TWO “Y” locations in Tacoma, so I have more options/time slots for spin classes and master swim. It’s not easy to schedule workouts around work and other areas of my life.

So there it is.

It’s printed and hanging on my fridge (and will be in my cube at work) and out there for the “world” to see.


Mood: Tired


Swim/Bike/Run or Why I’m too tired to rant or squee this week

I didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to rant yesterday or squee today.

In addition to being super busy at work, and my usual frenzy in the yard/garden, I’m finally getting off my butt, now that the foot/big toe is finally healed and working out again.

I’m volunteering as a Swim Angel for the Danskin Women’s Triathlon again on the 15th, and have signed up for two sprint triathlons in September (when I will also be volunteering as a Swim Sister for the Trek Triathlon).

I need to get off my butt.

Three months off of training has completely kicked my butt, I’m out of shape and weak (and none to happy with myself about it)

I already blogged about my not so smart five mile “run” on the steep evil trails of Chambers creek which left me limping for a few days.

I did take a rest day on Monday. (yard work counts as rest right?)

Tuesday, I joined the Harmon Bike Club for a ride, which was not the smartest thing I could have done since they were trained up for the Courage Classic and I’m in worse shape than I was in February (actually, in February I was kicking ass and taking names)

It was hilly (over 1,000 feet elevation gain) because ALL of Tacoma is hilly. (oh, since I live on the HILLtop, it’s a long uphill slog to get back home)

I was feeling pretty demoralized after I was done (the last person in) but at least I did it.

point defiance ride

Yesterday, Gene and I went out the Steel Lake for an open water swim. If I’m going to be a “calming” and “motivating” influence on women (most of them doing their first triathlon ever, many of them cancer survivors, some in active treatment) I’m helping through the swim course at Danskin, I’d better be competent and confident, so I needed to get back out there.

I managed to get through a mile swim. I did have to stop and rest a few times, but that’s no biggie. It’s probably the least demoralizing thing I’ve done since I started working out again.

Today was the Tacoma (Beer) Runners run.

We started out at Woody’s on the Waterfront, ran up and over the 11th St Bridge, around the tideflats and Foss Waterway, back up Pacific Ave and across the bridge of glass.

I was not fast and I was not last (but close)


I did not even stay for the beer (wait? Wasn’t that the point?). It was too crowded and too hot to wait inside in line for one, so I socialized a bit, drank some water and headed home and enjoyed a margarita on my newly screened back porch.

Now, I’m exhausted and need to go to bed.

I have another long work day tomorrow, and then I’m taking Alisa, Robin and Karen (all will do their first triathlon at Danskin) out for an open water swim clinic. I may swim a bit after they’re done to get a workout in. But tomorrow is about them and paying forward all the help Gene and Steve gave me when I was first starting out.


Mood: exhausted


Frostbite Falls via the RedHook Brewery

I slid into frostbite falls (after swimming and biking in circles) via the RedHook Brewery yesterday at the end of my 162.1 mile trek, the grand finale of which was a 35 mile bike ride with the Cascade Bicycle Club around Lake Sammamish.


a few pictures of the ride can be found here:

For those not familiar with the “journey to Frostbite Falls” that runners make each January, you can find a synopsis here

and a fun blast from the past can be found below:

That total includes:
100 miles of bicycling, (on my road bike)
33 miles of spinning (you don’t get far on those stationary spin bikes),
13.6 miles of running, (need to work on that now that I’m uninjured)
6 miles of cross country skiing,
5 miles of snowshoeing and
4.5 miles of swimming.

Obviously, none of these totals are where I’d like them to be. But when I think if where I was at this time last year (sick, stressed, sick, grieving) I am 130 miles ahead. I’ll take it and try to improve on it each moth.

Additional fun factoids: I exercised for 23 hours and 15 minutes this month.

I burned approximately 10,035.4 extra calories; at 3,500 calories a pound that’s good for just under a three pound loss. OK, I only actually lost two pounds, but I’m in the rebuilding muscle stage, and muscle weighs more than fat. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

I’ve got a February sheet on my spreadsheet just waiting for me to start out the month right by filling in today’s bike ride this morning and a masters swim tonight.


Mood: Tired


Spin it Baby!

My Tacoma-Pierce County YMCA adventure continues.

Because my body just didn’t hurt enough from the masters swim class last night, I decided to spin (OK, due to licensing issues, the YMCA has to call it “group cycling” but we all know what high intensity cycling done to music on spin bikes is, right?)

I had a Harmon Bike Club meeting tonight (just how many bike clubs do I belong to? 4?) to kick off the Courage Classic and the St Leo’s food bank ride so I had to do something earlier than the offering at the downtown Y.

I realized that I can go to any Y and that the Morgan Family Y on Pearl St is only 4 miles from my house. I checked their schedule and there was a spin class at 4:30-PERFECT! I’m kind of spoiled by having the downtown Y (which is 15 and over only) so close (a mile, if that) and was wondering what the family one would be like.

The locker rooms were split between upstairs and downstairs, with the downstairs filled with squealing kids getting ready to swim and the upstairs being very much like “my” Y downtown, 15 and over only.

This Y was older, but well maintained and full of interesting things including an indoor climbing area.

But back to the task at hand.

Even though I’ve ridden century and double century rides, I’ve been extremely intimidated to try spin. Afraid that I’m too out of shape (especially at this time of year) and wouldn’t be able keep up.

But everyone I know that takes spin classes in the winter totally rocks the hills come spring and I know I need to get back on my training. (I’ve been a slug) Spin is the way to do it when days are short and torrential downpours and ice are making the roads unsuitable for outdoor riding.

I showed up 10 minutes early (as requested for first timers) so that the instructor (Denise who was awesome) could help me set up the bike the first time. I set it up just like I set up my road bike so that was a no brainer.

The critical thing to learn about a spin bike is that they have weighted fly wheels and you can’t just stop them by stopping pedaling. They have a break lever down near the tension knob.

I had fully intended to stay in the far back so as not to draw attention to my out of shapeness and lack of spin juju, but another woman in the class told me to get right up front with her. (she was rehabbing an injured knee) The guy on the other side of me was an instructor, so the front and center row ran the gamut.

We did a warm up and then did “hills” (increasing the tension according to our own comfort/fitness/challenge level) and had the choice to stand up on the pedals or not (when riding hills on my bike, I tend to “sit and spin”. We also did sprints, a long “hill” increasing our grade 6 times over the course of the hill. We pedaled for cadence of 80-110 rpm; I was averaging a bit over 100.
I surprised myself not only by finishing the workout, but by really cranking the tension on the hill climbs, standing up and going for it.

Denice was awesome and made sure than everyone was comfortable and knew that at any time they could reduce tension or speed.

It was so NOT intimidating. There are no neon lights over your head telling people what your tension is set to or how hard you are working.

The music was fun, the instructor was fun and the whole workout was GREAT!

I could feel the burn during the workout but my legs feel great now (we’ll see how they feel tomorrow)

This will help me with cardio and hill climbing, but is obviously no substitute for long rides (several hours) to build my lactic acid threshold, help my muscles burn fat instead of glucose and build endurance for 100+ mile rides in the summer.

I can’t believe I didn’t suck it up and try it before now.

Tomorrow is my 2nd masters swim class.

Spin Tues-Thurs, Master Swim Mon-Wed. I need to get some weight training in there and probably start running at work at lunch as well as longer runs on weekends.

If I can keep this up, I’m going to be an animal (or at least not suck) by the time triathlon season starts. And maybe I’ll get this middle aged winter pudge off of me. (and hopefully not put it back on next winter)

Oh, one of the spinning websites I checked said 40 minutes at a 80-100 rpm cadence equals 15-20 miles, and I averaged 100, I’m giving myself 18 miles towards my Frostbite Falls goal.


Mood: tired


Hurts so Good!


Holy Crap! I hurt in places that I didn’t know swimming could make a person hurt.

All that triathlon stuff? My long slow swims at the gym?

NOT swimming.

Today I finally got brave and showed up for my first Masters Swim session at the Y.

(did I mention that I hurt in places I didn’t know swimming could make a person hurt?)

I’m going to have to read up on the drills because apparently, all I did in swim/PE in high school was screw around and I don’t remember all most of them. I remember a few.

And my (butter) fly? OMG… I look (and feel) like a paralytic Orca when I try to do the fly. I can do the drill where you only breathe every 4th stroke, but when I try to coordinate enough to breath of every stroke, it’s not pretty. I’m sure I’ll get it back.

My backstroke is still good and my upper body is pretty good on the crawl (yeah, I need work on rotatation, but who doesn’t?).

My kick is extremely weak. Part of it is being out of practice, part if it is that I have freakishly small narrow feet, and part is that due to my feet having been broken by horses stomping on them, I don’t point well (that and triathletes tend to save their legs for the bike/run). I’ll just have to work harder on my kick.

Of course, since I use mostly upper body doing the crawl, I was pretty good on the pull buoy drill.

My endurance isn’t what it should be, but that’s my fault for having been lazy this fall/winter. It will come back. I felt a tiny bit wheezy for a bit which is probably a result of whatever crud I was fighting off last week/weekend.

I am slow. I was the slowest one there, but that’s OK. I was the only new person there. I’ll get my speed back (I was pretty fast as a kid/teen)

This (being pushed and drills) is exactly what I need.

I did the whole workout and wasn’t told that I needed to go back down to an intermediate swim class, so I’m calling it a success. (and I’m going back on Wednesday)

I think I’ll sleep well tonight.


Mood: Incredibly tired


Tri and Tri again-Why yes, I am crazy

Triathlon # 11 is in the bag. (and to think that I haven’t even been doing this for a year yet)

I got a little crazy this weekend and decided to do not one, but two triathlons. (it is vital right now that I distract myself from tragic things I have no control over-the gory details are on my blog, but you probably really don’t want to know)

Hey, they were just little sprints so it was like doing an Olympic distance over two days instead of all at once right?

First, was the Ft Lewis Triple Threat Series Triathlon on Saturday.

This one was on the base, so I had to get there early to get a pass and get through the gate.

It was an easy process and I was there in plenty of time to get my transition area set up and go check out the lake. (this is a part of American Lake which is on the military base and not open to the public)

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We got nice long sleeve t-shirts with our registation.

I ran into my friend dragon boat friend Fay who I haven’t seen for some time

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Bill was there doing the REI bike tech thing.

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I had a rough week last week fighting off the crud, not getting enough sleep and dealing with a family crisis so I wasn’t feeling well.

I also started in the back because it was a mass start (everyone at once) and I didn’t feel like getting kicked in the head. I got squigged out on my warm up swim because of all the milfoil The stuff creeps me out (I did show some self control and did not squeal like a girl when it touched me), and with swim goggles it seems magnified and to be reaching up to grab you. I finished my warm up swim with my eyes closed.

I had a hard time on the swim, because I was snotty (the downside to wearing nose plugs means that snot runs down the back of your throat) and kinda wheezy. I also had a difficult time completely filling up my lungs.

Since I started in the back on the swim, the water was churned up and I couldn’t see the nasty milfoil.

I exited the water after the half mile swim at 20:10.

My transition from swim to bike was 3:01 (not 100% sure on this, I goofed up hitting my lap counter)

The first bit of the bike ride was pretty bumpy but once we got out onto open road it smoothed out a bit.

It was a closed course with lots of nice young soldiers blocking intersections for us.

My right calf and hip were a bit tight, likely as residual from the previous weekends 204 mile STP ride.

There were also some pretty significant headwinds on part of the course so it didn’t feel easy.

I came in on the 15 mile bike ride at 55:04 which was a 16:34 mph pace-I felt like I was going slower than that, but I guess I did OK.

My transition from bike to run was 1:58

I didn’t feel great on the run. It was getting warm and because I was either having allergy trouble and/or was fighting of an upper respiratory bug and was snotty (given the amount of snot that flowed out of my on the bike ride, I’m surprised there was any left)

I came in on the 5K at 32:26 (about 10 ½ minute miles) for a finish time of 1:52:32.

I guess that’s not too bad for someone that wasn’t feeling well physically or emotionally.

This is the first triathlon I’ve done where there were no finisher medals. Since I was in a big age group and didn’t place in the top 3, I didn’t get a shiny thing.

After the race, I rushed home, got unloaded, cleaned up and met Annie to go up to Seattle to pick up our packets for the SeaFair triathlon the next day. We got nice tech shirts and reusable shopping bags.

After that, the Icky Boy picked me up and we headed out for my other friend Ann’s birthday BBQ (it was over at 7:00 PM so it’s not like it was a late night)

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning to head down up to Seward Park for the SeaFair triathlon.

I tired to be clever and come up from the South on Rainer Ave South to avoid the crowds, but goofed up and had to come in from the North anyway. Annie and I talked on the phone, but I never found her in transition (there were 2,000 of us)

I parked several blocks up the hill and hauled by bike and gear down to the park.

It took a long time to even get into the transition area.

I was in wave 11 (out of 14) so I had to “hurry up and wait” for an hour. (we were kicked out of the transition are at 6:45 AM) The race started at 7:00 AM, but my swim wave didn’t go until well after 7:40.

We weren’t allowed to do any warm up swimming after 6:45 because the swim start and finish were close together and we could have confused the swimmers coming in to the finish.

Yeah, nothing like standing around getting stiff.

I was deciding that I really don’t like huge triathlons and all the waiting involved in getting that many swim waves off.

I finally got into the water (didn’t get down there in time for an actual warm up swim) to let some water into my wetsuit, drain out the excess and get acclimated to the lake (which was pretty warm)

I finally found Kathy at the start. She started in the wave (or two, I can’t remember) ahead of me. Luckily, I knew which swim cap she was wearing and what kind of wetsuit she has. We got to give each other a hug before we started.

There was more nasty milfoil and I was dutifully squigged out. (again, I did show some self control and did not squeal like a girl when it touched me)

Although I was a bit tired from doing a triathlon the day before, I felt good on the swim. I was less snotty and better able to breathe comfortably. I came in on the half mile swim at 19:25. (which was almost a minute faster than the day before)

My transition from swim to bike was 3:28.

The bike ride was a familiar tour of Lake Washington Boulevard and a ride across the I-90 floating bridge out to Mercer Island and back.

It is confirmed that I’ve been across that bridge on foot running and on my bike more times than I’ve driven it.

I finished the 12 mile bike ride in 46:31 which was a 15:38 mph hour pace, over a full mile per hour slower than the previous week; then again, the course was hillier and it was more difficult to get in and out of the transition area.

My 2nd transition was 2:27 which is pretty slow for me.

I headed out for the run which was a beautiful loop around Seward Park (which is surrounded by water on 3 sides) and realized that although I don’t like the waiting involved with big events, that I did love the spectacular beauty of this course and will do it again.

Then “the hill” came. As we rounded the loop road in the park, we made a sharp turn and headed up a nasty hill. This is where a lot of runners turned into walkers. I was not one of them, but I running darn sloowly.

This was the time that I realized that I was tired from the triathlon the day before and my exhausting week.

I took it easy because I didn’t want to injure myself. This two triathlons in two days thing was for fun, not to hurt myself. It took me 37:59 to crank out that 5K, (12 ½ minute miles, OMG I didn’t think I was that slow)

I came in at 1:50:04 (and shockingly was not last in my age group, but I was definitely in the back of the pack of those women)

I was number 1293 out of 1454 overall. I was faster than 161 other people.

I’ll take it.

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I got my shiny thing, hiked back up to my truck and celebrated with some Taco Del Mar nachos and a Negra Modello before coming home and meeting the Icky Boy for an early dinner.

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Today, I am resting.


Mood: tired


Triathlon anxiety… (is the hay in the barn?) and swimming solo

The temperature for Saturday’s triathlon is forecast to be 86 degrees.

That may not sound like much to many of you (and may even be laughable to some) but for someone living in Western Washington, it’s extreme. Consider the fact that black asphalt can radiate 180 degrees 6′ above it’s surface on such a day, and it’s down right scary.

This may be the race where I finally barf.

Today I needed to get one last (or maybe the 2nd to last) open water swim in before my first Olympic distance triathlon on Saturday (which I am totally freaking out about and am not ready for this early in this, my 2nd season of doing these things)

My regular swim partner Gene has had some “complications” at work and couldn’t get off in time to do the swim with me.

I had another potential partner from the South Sound Triathlon Club who wanted to come out, but he recently moved and couldn’t find his wetsuit. (no way do you want to try a mile in the current water temps without one)

So I had to suck it up and go solo.

I made sure that people knew where I was and when to expect me back.

I called the Icky Boy before I want in and after I got out (even if he came out to be bored and watch, he’s not a swimmer and even if he was, with me out in the middle of the lake, there wouldn’t be anything he could do anyway-but I know I like to know when he’s returned safely from something with significant risk)

The police are usually there and the outrigger canoe club practices in the area-both parties usually watch out for swimmers.

I was probably safer there than I was driving to work on I-5 this morning. I’m a strong simmer (but I’d by lying if I didn’t have self doubt and anxiety even though I swam that exact route last week with no problem)

It would be virtually impossible to sink in the wetsuit.

I towed my lifeguard float in case I got a cramp or took on water…

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I hydrated well today (it was HOT out) and ate some shot blocks for extra energy before I want out (they really help after a 10 hour shift at work)

People looked at me like I was nuts; nuts for wearing a wetsuit, nuts for carrying that silly float and nuts for getting in the lake and swimming out to the far end.

I felt good…


I swam it a bit faster than last time (no one to shoot the breeze with)

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I got out, texted work and called the icky boy to check in and headed home.

I’ve been tired the last couple of weeks.

I did two sprint triathlons in a week, and did runs two days after each of them.

I did a 71 mile bike ride a week and a half ago ago.

I haven’t been running as much as I’d like, but I have done a (slow) difficult half marathon this year.

I’ve done two open wter swims of just over a mile…

I’ve done FOUR sprint marathons (3 with 250 meter swims and one with a 400 meter swim) which is likely more than a lot of people have done this year but not enough if my books.

I just don’t feel fully trained up enough in any of my disciplines. Training for a triathlon and to be a staff rider for a double century with a full time job (oh, and a life) is a daunting task at times.

I feel like I’m not giving anything enough time or attention.

I’m resting tomorrow.

I’ve been tired. My legs feel fatigued and my morning resting heart rate is a bit higher than I think it should be (60 bmp)

I may do another swim on Thursday afternoon for confidence. I don’t’ use my legs much when I swim (difficult in a full wetsuit and counterproductive in a triathlon where you need to save your legs for the bike and run), so I should be OK. At this point, I really don’t consider swimming a workout.

Can I do an Olympic distance triathlon (full mile swim-40K bike-10K run) in the heat, this early in a season where I don’t feel I’ve done enough?

We’ll see on Saturday.

I will be supported by good friends (and my Icky Boy)

And I “haz he stubborn”


Mood: Swimmin’ baby…. Swimmin’


The Great Issaquah Triathlon Adventure

The great adventure starts the day before when I had to pick up my race packet in Issaquah between 2:00 and 7:00 PM on a Friday.

For those who don’t live here, trying to drive from the East Side down to the South Sound where I live at rush hour is pretty much the worst thing ever. It can take 2 ½ hours, especially on a Friday.

I was going to try to dash in and out (which as it turns out, would have been a grave mistake as everyone was hitting the roads because the weather was nice and traffic was a nightmare before 3:00 PM.) and take a back highway home.

But my wise friend Julie thought it would be a better idea to meet for Happy Hour in Issaquah. It would have been rude for me to force her to twist my arm to have a beer, so I obliged. Our friends Claire and David joined us as well. (pictures posted yesterday)

I got off work at 1:30 and made it to the packet pickup by 2:00 PM (I work about half way between where I live and Issaquah) and so did everyone else. It was a long line for ID/USAT license checking, packet pickup and body marking, bit it ran smoothly.

I then headed off to Target to get a few things on my shopping list and some cash.

Then I headed over to REI for some electrolyte solution/cubes and to visit. I noticed that there was a GNC in the same shopping center, so I grabbed a few of the 42 gram New Whey protein shots (they REALLY help recovery after a hard workout or race and at only 3 oz, they go right down even if you’re not hungry/thirsty.)

One of the managers at the store had told me earlier in the day that he was going to be grilling burgers (I had asked for recommendations for happy hour, bonus points for a good burger) for bike commuters and that if I stopped by, he’d cook me up a burger. I did, and it was good. I visited with him, Kelly and some bike commuters, and then headed over to the Brewhouse (Rogue Brewing Company) to meet Julie, Claire and David.

It was a gloriously beautiful day and we scored seats outside.

I hit the road around 6:30 PM and took Highway 18 home. It was a breeze, probably the easiest drive I’ve ever done from there.

I was home in plenty of time to fine tune my packing for the triathlon and get to bed early.

This is where things went bad.

As I was thinking about giving my poor congested allergy ridden sinuses a flush with the neti-pot, I could feel my nose running. That was odd because I was congested. The first thought that ran through my mind was, “Oh, crap, I’ve got a sinus infection from the few moments I was in that damn lake without my nose clips on.”

That’s when I saw that I had blood on my hand.

UGH! That’s (a nosebleed) what you need when you’re trying to finish race preparations and get to bed early.

The next “incident” involved my Garmin.

I KNEW I put it in my race bag. I SWEAR I put it in the bag, THAT night, I took it off the coffee table, took the cradle off of it, and PUT IT IN THE RACE BAG.

Guess what wasn’t in the race bag?

You guessed it. I dumped the contents of the bag (and every other bag/pack in the house) out no lesss than four times. I scoured every room.

I glared menacingly at the BadKitty and pleaded with the house faeries to return it.

At 10:00 PM (I had to get up at 4:20 and should have been in bed by 9:00 at the latest) I gave up.

I tore the apartment apart the next morning, and it was apparent that the Kitty and/or the house faeries weren’t giving it up.

That’s when I noticed that my bike computer was dead. (my bad night was turning in to a less than stellar morning)

Planning on taking solace in a mocha, I loaded up the espresso machine, poured the milk in my cup and YUCK!!! It plopped out like cottage cheese.

No Mocha, no place open that early to get one.

I was not amused.

I got out the door on time and arrived at the park to set up my transition area.

I thought this would be a small local event; Wrong! It was BIG!!!

It was VERY well run.

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Notice that the splash guard is not on my areobottle? I was so tired from lack of sleep and no mocha that I stuffed it in my bag instead of putting back on after I filled the bottle… DOH! I wore a lot of that electrolyte drink.

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When I pulled my wetsuit out of the bag, what did I find way down at the end of my sleeve?

My Garmin. At least that went right.

I wandered down to check out the lake before the mandatory pre-race briefing.

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You can see the buoy for the final turn through the arch (this is where we exited the water)

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My wave (the old lady wave) was 2nd to the last wave so I had lots of time on the beach to chat and do some warm up swimming. We were joking that we were having a “geezer party” down there. I had to get back in twice to get more water in my suit because I was drying out (and to answer the call of nature-if you think you’ll never pee in your wetsuit, you’re wrong-if you keep doing tris, you will)

The women in my wave here hilarious and lots of fun. We had a great time getting lined up for our wave and were joking about designating “kick free zones”.

We were a fairly small wave and we really didn’t swim over each other much. I had a challenging time passing one woman who was dolphin kicking. It got a bit crowded around the first turn (there were two) but after that, we all had plenty of space. One woman occasionally touched my leg to let me know she was there, but it didn’t bug me like the woman that kept grabbing at me last year in the Subaru triathlon.

I swam a solid crawl stroke the entire way and felt good when I got out of the water. I’m still a bit freaked out about my Oly distance tri next weekend, but I’ve already done one full mile + swim and will do two more next week.

I swam the 400 meters (& got out of the water) in 8:45 (I did 250 down in Elma on Monday in 5:26) which still puts me at being able to swim a mile in 33+ minutes.

My transition wasn’t so great; it was 3:59, of course it was a good long run from the beach to the transition area and since I was near the back of the TA, it was a good long run out with my bike, so I did transition faster than in Elma.

The bike was much more difficult than Elma because this course does have hills and I had get down in my lowest gears to get up one of them. There was also a no passing zone in the park, and of course, on the way back in when I wanted to make up time, I spent way too long behind a very slow person (I was going batshit crazy, but didn’t want to get disqualified). The other thing that really slows down the bike segment is a couple of nasty speed bumps. I heard something crack on one of them, I’m just not certain if it was my bike or my spine.

I came in at 51:05, which is a very disappointing 15.26 mph average. Of course, the big hill, the no passing zone and the speed bumps made this more challenging than other races.

My transition from bike to run was 1:54, but a lot of it was a fairly long distance into and out of the transition area so I’m not going to be too disappointed in it. I had hydrated very well and had to pee (yes again) I tried using a technique that a certain Athena triathlete many of you know told me about, but I just couldn’t pee on the grass while changing my shoes while casually chatting with the guy next to me.

I did not feel good on the run. I beat myself up pretty badly last week (this was my 2nd triathlon in 6 days with a 5K race in between) Whatever was spewing pollen just about took me out. I was actually wheezing. It was getting hot and it was a trail run which also slows things down. Oh, and I had to pee, bad.

I swear, it was the longest 5K ever, it’s like it was never going to end. We could hear the finish line but not see it. I had a bunch of people fly past me and was feeling like fail, until I realized it was the 5K and 10K race and they hadn’t just swam and biked.

The first part of the trail was freshly mowed grass (with 3-4 tall grass on the sides) and then it varied from gravel, dirt, rocks, potholes, etc… it was not a fast course, and my IT bands didn’t much care for the lateral movement. I came in at 34:32 which is an 11:06 pace. Given that I was wheezing and it was a rough trail, I guess I’ll have to take it.

I crossed the finish line at 1:40:15 which I don’t think is too bad. Hey, it’s a PR for this course and I won’t have to worry about breaking it until next year.

Of course, I got a shiny thing. (you know how much I love shiny things)

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I really enjoyed this race. The narrow no passing lanes are a pain, but with the narrow winding park roads, there really isn’t a save choice. It would have been nice if someone had checked the bike route there was some sand, gravel and even some broken glass in the bike lane (I saw one guy changing a flat tire)

I’ll be back next year.


Mood: Accomplised