Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend Review

I hope you all are having a great weekend.  Thanks again for all of the great support - you guys are awesome.

I started the weekend fishing with my dad (oh, I am an official Daddy's girl, by the way).  It was pretty awesome, this is the part of the Kennebec River I grew up on, and I just love being there.  It kind of hit a re-set button for me regarding training too - more on that later.

Fishing with my dad.

We did well, caught and released 12 fish between the two of us.  OK, dad caught 11, I caught 1.  But he had sinking line and I didn't, and they were bottom feeding.  That is my story and I am sticking to it.

My boy Bailey, keeping an eye on things

I just really like that picture of Bailey I took while we were fishing - I have no story to tell about it really except to say he is awesome.

The re-set button is official pushed.  I can bike, and I can swim - so it is time for me to focus on what I can do instead of lamenting about what I can't do.  I want to work on my swimming endurance and speed (and technique, always technique) and I want to get stronger climbing on my bike, and this is a perfect opportunity to concentrate on those two things. 

I went for an awesome 43 mile ride today to Parlin Pond from my house.  It got delayed a little when I went to top off my tire and something funny happened.  Specifically:
  Huh.  Something is funny, the air won't go in.

Yeah, I know, I need to mow the lawn.  Check out Main Street in Caratunk, that is as busy as it gets around here.

Oh yeah, the valve. I somehow managed to break the end off of the presta valve.  I think I would rather start a ride like that then to have it happen mid ride in the pouring rain or something. And the good news is that I got some practice changing my rear tire.  I need to practice that some more, I am kind of slow at the ole' tire change.

The ride was a blast - hilly on the way there, and downhill on the way back.  During the week this ride is out because of flying log trucks, but it is a great Sunday long ride. 

Northbound on Rt 201

There are pretty much no houses once you leave The Forks and start to climb up to Parlin Pond. Usually I see a few moose on this ride, but not today.  The one thing that kind of sucked was there were really strong headwinds the whole time pedaling up hill.  But it wasn't awful, and I figure bring them on now, so if we have them on race day, I will be ready.

My bike needed a break once we got up there.

Once I got to Parlin, I had a quick Hammer Bar and a drink and hopped back on my bike.  I thought the wind will be at my back heading down.  Well....not so much.  It was hitting me from the side, moving my bike 2-3 feet towards sideways.  I thought I was going to get knocked off of my bike a few times.  I just held on, stayed on the hood as down in aero position I didn't feel quite so in control of the wind.  

It took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get to Parlin, and took me an hour and 5 minutes to get down.  So yeah, it is a bit of a climb, but totally worth it for the ride down at the end (barring any crazy crosswinds).

I am trying to figure out a good way to show elevation change on my rides, so if anyone has a good suggestion, let me know.  This is kind of fuzzy, I did print screen from MapMyRun and then cropped it.

Congratulations! I just want to give a shout out to a few folks who raced this weekend.
  • A big CONGRATULATIONS! to Big Daddy Diesel on his first place overall Aquabike finish at Tri for Joe! Way to go BDD!
  • James at Ironman 101 came in first place at the Pump and Run he competed in this weekend! Congratulations James, you are a rock star!
  • Regina at Chiu on This finished the Great Hudson River Swim this weekend! Congrats on finishing the 1.3 mile swim across the Hudson Regina, you are awesome!
  • Jeff (from Dangle the Carrot) and Annie ran a 5k yesterday, I can't wait to hear all about it, but I know Annie totally crushed it!
  • Mark at Journeys of a Triathlete Father of Five - RunnerDude's Blog runner of the week!  Check out his interview HERE for a dose of inspiration.

Friday, May 28, 2010


First, I really want to thank you all so much for your awesome support and kind words yesterday.  I love getting comments, and you guys definitely gave me the pick-me-up I needed.  Thank you!

I am not normally a cynical B, I am a happy fun loving girl who loves to run, ride, and swim.  Taking my fun stuff away, I noticed I was slowly turning into this person:
Actually, I think this blog sums up how I felt at the time I wrote that blog yesterday:

Sneaky hate spiral.

But I will give you my version, it turns out a little better.

After a few moments of light squeezing, poking, and prodding, and looking at me hopefully for a wince or reaction, I explained again to Dr. Amby (that is now his nickname in my world) that he is really going to have to dig in deep to get me to feel anything at all.  His reaction? 

The doctor looked at my leg and said, "Huh, that doesn't seem right." 

Thank you Einstein.

He spent some time, and I mean a solid 4-5 minutes, ruling out plantar fasciitis (did I say my heel hurt?)  I think he really wanted me to have PF because he really kept pushing on my heel and arch, asking me if it hurt.  I kept telling him I have had PF and know what it feels like and this isn't it because, see, the pain I have is in my calf, when I push off, like to

He finally quit playing with my foot and started looking at my calf.  After a bit more soft, painless squeezing, he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said:

"Huh.  Must be some kind of tendinitis."

OK.  So maybe I have tendinitis, but how the heck do I treat this thing to keep it from coming back again once I rest it away and go insane in the process?  And how come no real exam?  Like a few pokes, a prod, no questions. 

I did talk a lot.  And ask a lot of questions.

Since my descriptions of the issue have generally mystified every health care person I have seen in the last 4 months (OMG - 4 months?), I brought this diagram of the calf, highlighting where it hurts in orange highlighter so it would be easier for me to explain the location of the problem.

Oh if you are curious, right diagram, where the calf is all opened up. In the center there, where the little arrow points to tibialis posterior.  Like a hot knife dipped in acid going into my calf, RIGHT THERE, thank you.  OH! And NEW this week! The popliteus decided to say hello. Just being neighborly I guess.

Get me back out there Doc, that is all I am asking.  Give me the tools I need to prevent this in the future. Please.  I will do whatever you ask.  I know it probably isn't even my calf that is the problem, that something else is messed up and taking it out on my calf.  See? I get it.  Now could you please help me help me?

"Let me set you up for some PT.  Umm....How about June 16th?"

Oh yes, that is really a great date to START to try and rehab this injury, it is only, lets see...20 days away...3 days after my next triathlon.  That would be perfect.  Thank you so much.  I would love to spend those 20 days trying to get better instead of fuming, frustrated, and...and...%#$%*$% (insert your favorite explicative).  But this sounds much better, thanks.

OK.  Deep breaths. 

I ask if I can pick out another PT that can fit me in sooner.  He said, "Ummm. Sure."


I did some research, and decided that this place is the best place in Maine to go for this stuff.  Or at least it seems to have the most comprehensive options for sports injuries, and Tri-Maine seems to like them.  So what if it is a 3 hour drive. 

I call.  The earliest appointment is June 11.  Sniff.

I am still looking at double digits before I get PT help.  But at least I know that this place is full of runners and triathletes, and that chances are they can get me going again.  And they were willing to work with the fact I am so far away, so I won't have to go back 15 times in 2 weeks or whatever.  Evaluate, I do the work at home, re-evaluate progress in 3 weeks - unless they find something funky.

I wish I could go there today and start.  I am on a cancellation list, just in case.

Till then? Well, I am going to ride and swim.  Hope that the knee thing was a freak thing on my last ride.  If it was just a freak thing (please, oh please), I am going to work as hard as I can on the two parts of tri that I have the least experience in.  I want to be a climbing machine on the bike, and a fish in the water. 

So yeah, that is my new plan.  Onward and upward!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is There a Docter in the House?

As I get ready to head to yet another doctor to try to help me figure out what is causing this...this...F-ing injury (for lack of a better word), my frustration level is rising.  This will be my third Dr. to look at the mystery leg since February.

The first doctor I went to told me with a shrug to "just stop running".  Didn't tell me why, didn't tell me what she thought it was, and shook her head when I asked for an MRI, saying, "you probably have tendinitis, just stay off of it. Probably you shouldn't bike either."

Right.  You all know how far I took that crappy piece of medical advice.  The fact that she acted so blase about it really bugged me - she didn't realized she was practically asking me to give up my soul.

So I went elsewhere.  With a similar response, saying, "Must be tendinitis somewhere in there." I asked where exactly (posterior tibial? Achillies? I wanted details!), and how could he tell from across the room without even looking at my calf. I was told, "Umm, it could be in a few spots". 

Huh.  That was not helpful at all, thanks.  Apparently all the doctors who got a D in medical school choose to work in Somerset County, Maine.  This Dr. was happy to send me to physical therapy at least.  I was joyous - thinking I was getting a chance to go to someone who would actually help.  

The PT took some flexibility, strength, and balance measurements.  I was pretty sure we were going to get somewhere.  She told me that very first day, and I quote:
"Tendinitis is often a crap diagnosis, it is often what Dr.'s say when they are not sure what it is." 
I thought, sweet, lets figure this thing out - this is a chick I can work with!  By the 15th PT session in about 3 weeks without a clear idea of what was causing my pain, without any measurement of anything since the first day I was there, the leg was getting worse.  I asked her what she thought it was, she said (and again, I quote):
"Ummm.  Probably some form of tendinitis."  
Great.  Another specific medical professional.  Running was becoming tough, and so I did what any tried and true bullheaded endurance person would do.  I waited a few weeks and ran a marathon on it.

Guess what?  It still hurts. Weird, right?  Who knew that running 26.2 on an injured leg wouldn't make it miraculously heal. 

Self massage with The Stick, Advil, tennis ball, Advil, and foam roller help, but now the pain is moving to different parts of my lower leg and calf, making the issue really hard to describe.  Yesterday on my ride, I decided that I was going to not worry so much about the run for a while, and just become the best damn hill climber I can be.  That was just before my knee started getting this sharp, stabbing pain just under the knee cap (for the first time ever on my bike). 

What the hell is going on?

So having switched Dr.'s again (do we have a winner folks?), I called a different doctor in a new county.  I am getting ready to make the drive to see the new guy who specializes in "preventative medicine, fitness, exercise and family medicine".  I picked him partially because of his claim to be a fitness/exercise guy, but mostly because he looks a bit like Amby Burfoot in his picture, so I am pretty sure he is a runner (how about that logic?)

This place is about 75 minutes away.  When you live in Caratunk, everything is an hour and 15 minutes away, except the bar.  If this thing doesn't get better soon, I am going to be frequenting that bar a bit more often. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Riding and Swimming

Today was fabulous.

I started my day with a 25 mile ride.  The original plan called for a 40 miler today, but I had some time constraints and other obligations that put a limit on my riding time (I had an hour and a half) so I got in what I could.

I rode a familiar loop that includes the River Road in Solon.  It is an gorgeous ride along the Kennebec River that has a few good climbs - the only downside of this route is the lack of shoulder (see photo).  The minimal vehicle traffic (there are a few cows sometimes) makes up for it, and I try to include this road on all of my weekend rides if I can.

I really didn't want to get off of my bike when my loop was done, but plan on spending quite a bit of time in the saddle until I can run again so I will get the ole motor (my legs) tuned up for my next race.  I have a killer route planned for next weekend, it includes an ice cream stop.

Later, I decided to go for my first open water swim of 2010.  It was...refreshing to say the least.  After my face stopped tingling and I began to feel my hands and feet, it wasn't so bad.  I swam for 30 minutes, I am not sure how far I swam though.  I can't even tell you how happy I was to have fresh Wyman Lake water in my face instead of chlorine.  The loons didn't swim with me today, but I know I will see them on one of my swims soon.

A man pulled into the boat launch with his son and when they walked out to look at the lake, I shouted, "Hi there!" at them.  The man looked at me, kind of waved, and then shook his head.  I heard him say something about someone being "F-ing crazy" (I don't think he meant me? HA!), and he and his son walked quickly to the truck and left.  It was pretty funny.

I was alone, (I took this picture with the timer!) and it was cold enough I didn't swim across, just back and forth along the shore.  This weekend, I have a swim buddy to go with me, so it is on!  

Before I take off and gear up for the LOST season final (yeah, I am one of those people!) I wanted to give a shout out to a few folks:

- Jon at SwiCycloRun rocked the Harryman Sprimpic (Olympic) race on Saturday - check out his awesome race report here.  Congrats on a strong finish Jon, you are SO ready to attack the Mooseman HIM in a few weeks! WOOT!

- Maria at 2010 Brings Racine completed her year opening race today - Bluff Creek’s Olympic distance.  I was sending you all kinds of good mojo today, I hope it helped you get your goal time!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hummer 911!

Check it out, I rescued a humming bird today! 

I noticed her just sitting on a window eave, and she didn't fly off when I got closer.  Weird for a hummingbird, right?

So I checked it out, and when I got there I noticed that her wings, beak, and body were all wrapped in a spider web.  Not that a spider did that - I think she did it to herself struggling once she got partly caught in the web.  I reached out and as gently as I could and got a hold of her and very gently unwound the webs.  These guys are so tiny!  I could feel her little heart beating and everything.

The coolest part was letting her go.  She sat there for a minute in my open hand, looking around, bobbing up and down, making these little squeaking noises.  Then after a bit (like 30 seconds maybe?) she spread her little wings, almost to test them out or something, pulled them back in, and then ZOOOM she was off.

Cool, huh? 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Randomness

Recovery from the race on Sunday is going well, the injured calf is still...well injured.  BUT the good news is that it almost feels like it did 3 weeks before the race, so I am pretty sure I didn't hurt anything.  Well, hurt any thing worse than it already was, that is.

If it wasn't for my left calf, I would say all my stiffness and soreness from the race was gone by Tuesday.  I definitely spent some quality time with the foam roller, The Stick, a tennis ball, and sitting in icy water, so I think that is why I felt so good so quickly.

Huh. I just re-read that last sentence, and taken out of context it sounds kind of funny.  No wonder everyone in this town thinks I am a freak.

One last awesome newly found race-day photo:

On to the random stuff:
  • I was lucky enough to be a winner in Laura B's Moving Comfort give-away! Take a minute and check out her blog.  Laura is the mother of a child affected by Joubert Syndrome. She and her husband created "Jog for Joubert Syndrome" to help raise money and awareness for Joubert Sydrome.    Thanks Laura!
  • Jeff - you can have my weight if you want, can't we just trade?  I want to lose 10-15 lbs before Timberman HIM.  My friends all freak out when I say this, but I think dropping the weight will help me tremendously with speed on the bike and run. We all have challenges, mine is that I drive a ton for work and find it hard to eat well on the go (and I really love chocolate covered pretzels. And pizza).  I work in the woods so it isn't like I can stop at a store or have a fridge to keep stuff cool.  I need to figure out a better plan, cut the carbs (and the pizza and pretzels.  That post-race bag of Milano's didn't help), and start paying attention to what I am eating.
  • With the marathon behind me, I plan on ramping up my training.  Long rides and hill repeats are in my future, and like the masochist that I am, I am looking forward to it.  The lake is almost 52 degrees right now, and I am going to try and get my first open water swim in this weekend.  Well, I am going to at least put my wetsuit on and stick my foot in the water. 
  • Runs are going to be put off until this leg thing starts to get better.  Or until my next race, whichever comes first.
  • Ramping up my training includes strength training for a change.  I mean, more than once every two weeks.  I know, weak.  My problem is that since I weight train at home (the closest gym is 1 hr away), I get so bored.  And find other things to do.  So my weight training has been as follows:

    - 2 sets of 10 lunges
    - go plant some carrots
    - 2 sets of 10 hammer curls
    - bake some cookies

    You get the idea, again, I need to make and follow a better plan.
  • My buddy Molly is doing her FIRST triathlon this weekend!  WOOT!  I hope she becomes another addict. 
To anyone who has a race this weekend - good luck!  

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    The Ride of Silence

    Tonight we number many but ride as one
    In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
    With helmets on tight and heads down low,
    We ride in silence, cautious and slow
    The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
    But tonight we ride and no one attacks
    The dark sunglasses cover our tears
    Remembering those we held so dear
    Tonight's ride is to make others aware
    The road is there for all to share
    To those not with us or by our side,
    May God be your partner on your final ride

    - Mike Murgas
    Big Daddy Diesel posted this morning about tonight's Ride of Silence - a silent slow-paced ride (max. 12 mph/20 kph) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.  It takes place in 299 places all over the US, at 7pm tonight. 
    Check out where your local ride is HERE and join other riders in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

    There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during National Bike Month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured. 
    Anyone who cycles has had a close call, an accident, or knows someone who has been in one, so to me, this is an important ride.  Since I live in the middle of nowhere (and love it, except when I want to do something like this) I am riding alone tonight, but know there are other riders out there with me. 

    Thank you Big Daddy Diesel for getting the word out on this ride.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Sugarloaf Marathon Race Report

    I am eating these hard-earned Milano cookies as I type.  Race is done, now for the race report! Munch. Munch. Munch.

    My mom (the sherpa), Beth, and I all left my parents house at 4:30 am to get to the race start.  It was cool in the morning, but the day promised to be a super nice one.  We were at the start around 6am.  My pre-race routine consisted of using The Stick on my calf, eating a bagel and banana, and popping a few Advil.  Pretty intense, I know.  I popped a few more Advil a few minutes before the race.

    I love this photo of Beth and I at the start line early in the morning.
    We are both pretty excited on race morning.

    This is a pretty small race, about 330 participants.  It is no frills, little swag, not even a timing chip to be found.  Oh, and I should just say this now.  The famous sticker was not in the swag bag.  As a matter of fact, there we couldn't even buy a sticker at check-in.  Beth and I were devastated. Since I have the JPEG, we plan on making our own somehow.  Actually, we are going to make magnets instead.  If anyone has any ideas how to take this:
    and make it into a magnet that can withstand the elements, let me know.

    The Race:
    So Beth, my buddy Steve W. and I were talking at the start line when this gun went off.  We started laughing, because there wasn't much announcing, just a gun going off.    They both ran ahead fairly quickly, I had a plan to take it easy (~ 10 minute miles or so) right from the start, baby that calf (which until I Advil'd up, wasn't feeling great) and just enjoy the day.  Plus, I haven't really run any distance since early April, so I really wanted to just make sure I finished.

    So much for plans.

    I ran into these 3 girls who were super nice and we started chatting.  Before I knew it, we were climbing the hill at mile 7 and my watch read 1:00  Oops.  I know that isn't blazing up the pavement for many of you, but for me on almost no training, it was a lot faster than I had hoped to be at the start of a marathon.

    So I kept going, because those girls were really nice.  The hills come at you for about 3 solid miles, some steep and long, some gradual and long.  Around mile 9 I gained some sense and decided to dial it back a lot.  I said good bye to my new friends and started running my own race (as I should have from the start).

    The highest point of the race is around mile 10 or so.  These are really some tough hills, and the awesome views of the Bigelow Range off to your left do lessen the sting a little.  Then it drops steeply for a mile down to mile 11 where you pass by the Sugarloaf access road.  

    My moment of darkness came so early it kind of scared me.  If you have run a marathon, you know what I am talking about.  It is when you get to that point where you need to push past a wall.  This happens to most folks around mile 21-24.  It happened to me from mile 13-15 and kind of came out of nowhere.

    I kept running, even though I really didn't want to.  I started getting frustrated and discouraged when people kept passing me like I wasn't moving. I finally pushed through when I reached inside my head and pulled out one of my favorite Randy Pausch quotes from The Last Lecture:

    Brick walls are there for a reason.  They give us a chance to show how badly we want something. ~ Randy Pausch

    I came through the back end of mile 15 running strong, passing the people who had passed me.  By mile 20, I was feeling pretty good about a 4:20 finish time, as long as I could keep up the 10 minute miles.  It was at that time that my calf started growling.  At first a soft rumble, it eventually became really angry. I stopped to massage it a little, but then decided that keeping moving was my best bet. I think it was a smart move, because I could have wasted a lot of time wallowing in misery trying to make it feel better.  Accepting it was going to hurt and moving forward seemed to work.

    I was pretty happy to see the mile 26 sign, I wasn't really hobbling but I was ready to get done.  Steve W. greeted me and ran the last .2 with me, which was awesome.  I finished doing the Blais roll across the finishline, which baffled all who were watching.  I hope someone got a photo of it.

    I just wanted to end with some photos.  Here is Beth crossing the finish line.  Congrats Beth on a strong finish!

    And here I am, coming into the finish.  Final time 4:35:01 - not bad for a gimp.
    No question, I would do this race again. I would love to run it healthy, I think I would definitely PR if things went OK for me, considering I basically ran on one leg today.  The only slightly negative thing to say about this race (besides the lack of sticker) is that it was not chip timed.  I think they managed it extremely well, but I am just not used to races without chip timing.  The volunteers and organization of this race were awesome, top notch for sure, and the scenery is amazing.   

    Congratulations Steve W and KC!!

    Congrats to my buddy Steve W. (the person who started my endurance addiction - thank you Steve!) Here is is, all pumped and ready to go in the morning.  Steve BQ'd AND PR'd on this race with a 3:31 - congrats Steve!  That was a hard-earned BQ and PR my friend, you totally deserve it.  WOOT!

    Congrats to KC on her super finish on Saturday, placing 3rd in her age group! Check out her awesome race report here!  Way to go KC, you are a rock star!

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Top 10 Marathon Moments

    First, thank you all for the awesome support and great comments regarding my last post.  I really do love getting comments, (more than I love Milano cookies even!) and I just re-read them all for an extra dose of inspiration before I head out the door to make the drive to my parents.  You are awesome.

    It is kind of cool doing a race that doesn't require a hotel stay.  I like that I get to eat really what I want the night before, which is going to be Molly Katzen's Sesame-Peanutty Noodles but I add some chicken for extra protein instead of tofu (because I am the only one who would eat this with tofu, and I am hoping to share!)  Seriously, this recipe rocks, try it.

    I have been thinking about my past marathons and made this "Top 10" list of snapshot moments I have in my head from past events.
    1. Going for my first run with my buddy Steve W (who is running Sugarloaf with ahead of me).  We ran 5 miles, he convinced me I should sign up for a marathon.  I did.  Later that week, after registering for the MDI Marathon, I emailed him asked him how far a marathon was.
    2. Driving the course of my first marathon the day before the race.  During the drive I boldly claimed that I really did like running hills.  At the end of the drive, John turned to me and said, "Well, I guess it is a good thing you like hills, because the first 25 miles of this race are uphill.  My arm is tired from down shifting."
    3. Thinking to myself as I was climbing mile 20 of that first marathon that I was actually going to finish.  
    4. Just after that thought, I learned that the hardest part of the marathon is the last 6 miles.
    5. Taking a wrong turn at my second running of the MDI Marathon, and people following me because I had just told them I did this race last year and I knew where I was going.
    6. Getting the guy from New Brunswick with the bloody nipples to keep going at mile 21 of my second running of the MDI Marathon.  He was ready to quit, I saw it in his eyes.  I grabbed his arm and pulled him back on the course, asked him to walk with me for a minute.  We walked and ran together for the rest of the race.  At the finishline he hugged me and said he wouldn't have finished without me.  That was cool, I have no idea who he was.
    7. Running up Battery St. Hill to the beat of Taiko Drummers at the Vermont City Marathon. That. Was. Awesome.  If you haven't done it, you really should.
    8. Taking a shot of beer at Mile 25 of the Vermont City Marathon, where I PR'd.  I love college students supporting a race.  And, well, beer.
    9. Telling my friend Cindy, when convincing her to sign up for the Goofy Challenge, "Really, how hot could it be in Florida in January?" Answer: So hot and humid, you think you are breathing through a warm wet sponge.
    10. Almost puking on Minnie Mouse around mile 21 of the Goofy Challenge after eating (well, chewing. And chewing. And chewing.) Black Cherry Cliff Shot Blocks. I actually did puke behind her.  Lucky Minnie.  I will never eat those things again. Ever.
    One last thing!  Best of luck to all who are racing this weekend.  I know three folks who are going for it this weekend, and I am sending lots of good mojo their way.  BRING IT guys!
    • KC at 140point6miles is doing the Florida International Triathlon on Sunday
    • Jeff at Dangle the Carrot is doing his first 70.3 - the Texas Man on Sunday
    • Teresa at Tri-A-Licious is doing the doing the Ironman 70.3 Florida on Sunday
    Stop by their blogs and wish them luck if you get a chance, they will certainly appreciate it.  These guys all give awesome race reports too, so check them out later this week to see how it went.

    Cheers all!

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    I Just Really Want the Sticker

    There is really only one way to get a sticker like this:

    You have to run the Sugarloaf Marathon.  Or at least sign up for it and pick up your swag bag.  But in my world, you can't put that on your truck window unless you have earned it by going the 26.2.

    Now most people would probably think about how running (waddling) a marathon on a nagging injury would affect the rest of their racing season.  Someone who hasn't run any distance to speak of for 3 weeks might even think, "This is going to hurt.  Is it worth it, really?"  I guess a sensible person might even think about how this aggravating injury would affect being able to do their job (since I need my legs to work, I should consider this).

    Not me.

    When thinking about the intelligence of running the race, the first thing I thought was, "I really want that sticker."

    Actually, it is the only thing I thought.

    Beth and I even talked about where we would put our sticker once we got it.  We haven't talked much about the race, but we have talked in detail about that sticker.

    Yes, this deceptively simple blue triangle strikes a chord in so many people, me included.  The traditional Sugarloaf Sticker (sans the 26.2) can be found plastered on cars and signs and places all over the world (my buddy Sam put up the only known sticker in Antarctica.  I don't know where he put it. But this is him in Antarctica.)

    I even have a small one on my bike.

    But the blue triangle sticker you get from this race has 26.2 on it, so it is even more special.

    So yes, I am running on Sunday so I can get a sticker.  I am pretty sure it is worth it, but I will let you know later.

    Here is the other thing.

    I don't usually get stressed out and uber-nervous before a race.  Mostly because I know I am not going to win.  I tend to always do the best I can in the situation at hand, so I am not so nervous about doing that.  I do get butterflies as I am standing in the starting line (wayyyy behind all the fast people).

    I am a bit freaked out about Sunday's marathon.

    I have been going about my week as if nothing special is happening on Sunday.  I have been trying like heck to get that leg to feel somewhat normal, poking and prodding, massaging and Sticking, heating and icing.  The specter of 26.2 is looming over me, and I am having a hard time trusting in my training because, well, I haven't really run in 3 weeks.

    Sure I have been biking, and yeah, I biked 100 miles on a trainer earlier this week, and it was hard.  But really, that is so different than running. Plus, I got to take a nap and eat Milano Cookies on the trainer ride.  I really will do anything for a bag of Milano cookies.

    This isn't my first time going this distance, it is my 5th (current PR 4:18).  I think that is why I am a little freaked.  I respect that distance, and have had my butt handed to me for not training enough for 26.2.

    I also think I am frustrated because I was doing so well with training, getting consistently faster over longer distances.  Then I had to change my training and slow way down because of the injury, eventually stopping the running all together.  Not being sure that your leg is going to stand up to what you are about to put it through is quite a strange feeling, and is a tremendous shot to your confidence.

    In the end, all I can do is the best I can do, and that is my plan for the race.

    Well, that and to get a sticker.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Have I Got a Deal For You

    I was recently approached by a fellow Beginner Triathlete member, Chad.   He had noticed that I was signed up for the Pirate Triathlon, a race created to raise money to sponsor families to go to Camp SunshineCamp Sunshine is a place families who have a child suffering from a life threatening illness can go for a week, free of charge, for a little respite from the terrible deal life has thrown their way.  
    Chad asked me to team up with him to raise $1500 so we could send a family to Camp Sunshine for a week.  Gulp.  $1500? By June 13? 2010? I jumped on Camp Sunshine's website and read some more about what they do, and it didn't take me too long to agree to team up with him to raise the money.  This place does some amazing stuff for people who just really need it, and is run largely by volunteers. 

    So yes, this is a shameless plug to raise some money for a great place.  But the cool thing is I was able to channel the Fat Cyclist's ability to unabashedly ask people for free stuff to help raise money for a great cause.  I was able to secure 3 sweet prizes that will go to 3 of our generous donors in a random drawing.

    Cool right?  Anyone who donates to the Camp Sunshine Fundraiser, will be put into a drawing to win one of 3 fabulous prizes. 
    1. A free pair of shoes from Brooks Running ($80 - $130 value, depending on the shoes).

      The Brooks award certificate that I am holding in my hand says "Good for One Free Pair of Shoes".  So yeah, like any pair you want.  Thank you so much Steve D from Brooks Running for that generous donation, you guys are the best! 
    2. A free raft trip for two with Adventure Bound ($170 value)! 

      Now, I know Maine might be a long way off for some of you, but I also know some of you are really not that far away, or at least maybe know someone who isn't that far away.  And really, you should experience the beauty of this area first hand.  Thank you John for your generous donation, you are awesome.
    3. $25 gift certificate to LL Bean.  Kindly donated by our friends at Fieldstone Media

      Free stuff from LL Bean, who couldn't use something from there?  Stephanie, as always, you are an awesome supporter of all the crazy stuff I do, thank you!
    The drawing will be on June 14 (the day after the Pirate Triathlon) and will be done using  There will be 3 random numbers, the first drawing is the shoes, the second the raft trip, the third the gift certificate.  Your number is the number order you have donated (so if you are the 16th to donate, your number is #16).

    It would be super duper awesome if you could help me and Chad send a family to Camp Sunshine.  

    Here is the link if you want to donate - you can also donate by clicking on the new Pirate Triathlon logo on the upper left hand corner of my blog.   Thank you for helping me help a family.

    Next up: 
    Pre-race jitters!  I just tried to take my dog for a walk and he almost had to carry me home. This weekend's marathon is going to be interesting. 

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    100 Miles to Nowhere

    I am happy to say that I totally CRUSHED the Short Spunky Girl From Caratunk Division of the Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles to Nowhere.

    What is the 100 Miles to Nowhere?  Well it is a race hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, The Fat Cyclist, who asked his readers to join him to ride a trainer, rollers, or on a small outside course for 100 miles to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  This is a race without a place, an event where hundreds of people participate all by themselves.  

    It sounded really dreadful.  When I read about it I thought, man Fatty, that is insane.

    Then I made a mistake.  I mentioned it to a friend and she said, "You couldn't do that Mandy. Seriously?  You can't even sit and watch TV for half an hour." 

    So, of course, I signed up.

    Well, I showed her.

    Race Report - 100 miles - 8.5 hours

    First, let me show you the delightful view I had.  It was gorgeous.

    But that is not all, sometimes I got to look at this:

    Riveting, right? 

    Actually, I made a mistake.  I decided I would do an hour and a half of Spinnervals with Coach Troy to get a "jump on the mileage".  For future reference, it is a really bad idea to do an hour and a half of Spinnervals at the start of, or in any part of a 100 mile trainer ride. Not that any of you are crazy enough to attempt something like that.  I don't think it gives you a jump in mileage.  It just makes the next hour and a half really hard.

    I am also pretty sure my bike computer isn't calibrated correctly, because those miles really crawled by.  

    After the Spinnervals debacle, I then watched The Distance: A Triathlete's Journey, The Illusionist, Tombstone, and The Hangover.  It was a big day.

    What can I tell you about the race?  When writing a race report, I enjoy to talk about the people I meet, the course, and how well the course was organized (this was the best organized race I have ever been to for the record.  "They" did a great job of managing the crowds.)

    It was hard, but not so much because of effort, but because of the mind-numbing mental challenge of sitting there for so long and literally going nowhere.

    After this race, I can now tell you a lot about 3 Wisconsin Ironman hopefulls, Edward Norton as a love-struck magician, how I think Val Kilmer was the best Doc Holiday EVER! (I got two guns, one for each of ya), and about a bunch of guys getting drunk in Vegas and try to remember what happened (Whose Fing Baby is that? I don't know, check it's collar).

    I am also now questioning the intelligence of riding that far on a trainer the same week as I am running a marathon.  With an injury.  Just saying, it might have been a bonehead move.

    I am not going to lie, I took a few breaks.  I think that the first 50 miles didn't bother me as much as the last 50 miles.  I was ready to send my bike computer back somewhere around mile 60. Really, I thought, it had to be malfunctioning.  I slept on the couch for a bit after mile 70.  I ate a bag of Milano Cookies around mile 75.  Yup, and entire bag.  Wished I had another bag at mile 85.  I looked for that bag for a while, then went back upstairs.  I started looking for excuses to do something else as I got closer to the end.  But I finally finished, and as I said, it took me about 8.5 hours.  I blame the cookies on the time. Or the bike computer. Or the nap.

    I will close with these awesome race day photos.  I think it shows the degrading of my psyche fairly accurately.  Full disclosure - all of these were taken at the end of the ride, so I was in all likelihood delusional.

    See you guys here next year?


    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Polar Bear Tri

    Final time 1:29:13...Not a great performance, but my approach to this race was just to have fun, especially with the calf issue and a marathon next weekend.   Looking back I realize I was nonchalant about it and now I am mad I didn't do better...Go figure.

    The day was a little rainy, but not so bad really. 

    Interesting set-up to this one. There were 13 waves, seeded according to projected swim times for 525 meters. The twist here is that they don't go from fastest to slowest. In fact, the first two waves are for the slowest swimmers, and then the next two were for the fastest swimmers, then the rest of the waves went from slowest to fastest.

    Yeah, I don't get it either, but it worked.  So, the first wave went at 8:25, the next at 8:45, and then at 9:00, 9:07, 9:15, 9:23 with the last wave, at 10:46 am.  So there was 2 hours between the first start and the last start, so a lot of waiting around for some folks.

    Especially the poor bastard who had to wait for me to finish the swim.  On to the race report.

    SWIM- 525 yds - 13:05

    Apparently, people actually train for the swim portion of the triathlon.  Weird.

    Making the drive to do 7 swims since October got me a time of 13:06 (remember, I live in Caratunk, full-time resident population 60, and the closest pool is about 75 minutes away).  Nope, not happy with it at all, but given the fact I haven't been to a pool much this winter, I am not surprised.  When the little college girl who was counting my laps put the sign in the water that said "Last lap," I was so happy I almost crawled out of the pool and kissed her, but I was too tired. 

    The part that was super cool was that my friend Mary (who was in a later wave of the tri - congrats on a great finish Mary!) -  was at one end of the lane cheering for me, so when I would turn I could see her smiling face and hear her yell "Go Caratunk Girl!" (in the picture, she is the one bent over, I am the white swim capped non-flip turner hacking my way through the water.  I might even be trying to sneak a break in here, who knows).  When I slithered (the best way to describe what I did) out of the pool she had a some guys cheering for the Caratunk Girl too, and I high fived them all on the way out to transition.

    T1 - 2:03
    Not a super long run outside from the hot humid pool area into the cool misty day.  My friend Chad gave me the tip to pick a lane as close to the door as possible, which shortened the run to T1 a bit. Thanks Chad!
    This is longer than I normally take for transition, but I did the idiot move of pre-zipping my jacket for a quick slide on pre-race to save fumbling during race.  Then I forgot I did it.  There I was, jacket now half zipped behind my back, arms in jacket, trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  The great news is, mom caught my idiocy on film.  This is at the height of my confusion:
    Bike - 11 miles 41:00 ~ 16 mph.  Eh.  I should have been much faster.  Honestly the pool really kicked my butt and I think I lost some time in recovery.  It took me a while to get cranking, like a sold couple of miles. I was finally getting into my groove at the end then it was time to run.

    T2 - 1:42 - Idiot move #2.  This was my first tri with new bike shoes (used to have toe clips), realized I can't run the run with them on. Duh.  Went back to T area after 3 steps and put on sneakers. Oops.

    Run - 3 miles - 31:25 - This time kills me because before my injury I was knocking off 8:30 miles. The calf hurt, it actually didn't bother me until I ran about 500 feet or so, and I was so hopeful that I was going to have a pain free run.  The blood just hadn't gotten there yet.  It quickly stood at attention and yelled ("Hey butthead.  It is me your calf. Stop it. Now.")  I didn't stop, but it wasn't the most comfortable run I have ever had.  Like a masochist, I went sans Advil, the last time I do that while I am working this injury out.

    The run course was awesome, mixed pavement and trail running.

    I love funny race moments.  During the run two girls with 19 and 20 written on their legs passed me.  I was OK with that, and I was trying to ignore my yelling calf.  Then out of nowhere, some 68 year old man blew my doors off, following those 2 young girls saying, "I am going to catch those whipper-snappers".  I think he blew their doors off too.

    The race was well run and organized as all Tri-Maine events are.  I don't see myself doing a pool tri again.  My biggest problem with this tri (and I assume, all pool tris) is you have sit around a long time for your swim wave - so the first wave left at 8:30, and then the last left at 10:45am. I don't see any way to avoid that though.  If any of you get to do the Tri Maine events, definitely do them, always well run and organized.

    What's Next? 
    100 Miles to Nowhere (tomorrow night, race report to follow Tuesday AM)
    Sugarloaf Marathon - 26.2 miles of waddling on May 16, race report May 17. Oh. That is in 1 week.
    Pirate Triathlon - June 13 - There is a fundraiser attached to this one with some great prizes - I will post more details on Wednesday

    Now, anyone know where I can get a new left calf?  Really, I need it.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Rainy Race

    I think I will bring the clear sunglasses for the bike portion of Saturday's race.

    Saturday's forecast is as follows:

    iconShowers High 55°F
    Showers. Highs in the mid 50s. Chance of rain near 100 percent.
    I am cool with the rain, I am really itching to do a race.  And the way I see it, I am going to be wet for 2 hours at most - hopefully less than that.  My friends who are were doing the race are not cool with the rain, and are already doing some serious backpedaling.  I got one email that read:
    I'm just saying...if it is 40 and raining sat am don't bother looking for me!!
    And another that said:
    I just want to make it clear, I might not show up.  It doesn't make me a wimp.
    And this last one:
    You are going anyway aren't you? Of course you are. I might not make it. 

    If they want to see tough conditions, they should see Regina's post on the Bronx Duathlon in April.  The photos of that race are pretty crazy, but I am pretty sure it isn't going to be all that bad.  Just in case, I am giving the camera to my sherpa (my mother) and hoping she gets some good shots of the deluge.

    Race report to follow on Sunday!

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Getting Amped

    I am really starting to get amped up for the Polar Bear Triathlon this weekend (sprint distance).  Races really help me to stay motivated, and I haven't been to a race since the Mid-Winter 10 Mile Classic in Feburary. 

    So yeah, I really need this right now.

    As far as the upcoming race, I feel pretty good about everything but the swim and the run.

    The swim because, well, swim training is my biggest challenge in the winter - the closest pool is over an hour away.  So, I just haven't been able to get to the pool too much.  That will remain one of my biggest challenges in early races, and makes the likelihood of me racing anything over an Olympic distance in the spring pretty small. 

    I figure I can make that up later in open water triathlons - soon as the water temperatures allow, I train exclusively in open water, and I swim a lot, which I think will actually help me in later triathlons.  I don't plan on being fast in this race, just steady.

    You all know the story about the run.  It will be fueled by Advil.  I am seeking a sponsorship if the Advil people are reading.

    I feel really great about the bike, it is a short 11 miles with a few hills and a few hairpin turns on the descents.   I need to remember those hairpin turns because I kind of need some work on my cornering at speed.  I have this (not so irrational) fear of taking out a crowd when I come around a corner a little wider than everyone else expects.  I am starting to see this as one of the downsides of always riding alone, you only have to look out for potholes, vehicles, and moose - not other riders. 

    The one thing I am sure of is that this race is going to be fun, because races are always fun.  That is why I do this stuff.  Also because I figure a PR on this course is a sure thing because I have never done this course, or this short of a distance sprint before. 

    And really, it is the perfect warm-up to the Sugarloaf Marathon (also fueled by Advil) the following weekend.  From this point on, I have about 2 races a month until Timberman, and I plan on treating these races as brick workouts and check points in my fitness level.  That is the plan anyway!

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Today I Ran

    I ambled over to the medicine cabinet and grabbed the Advil.  Put it back. Grabbed it again.  Put it back for a final time.  I need to see what this calf really is going to feel like when I run.  Compression sleeves? I held them for a second before throwing them back to the gear bag.

    I stepped out the door, getting ready for my first run in two weeks. Now that I finally realize I can be injured to the point of not being able to run, I am feeling a bit tentative.  I was almost nervous, stepping out my door and heading up the town hill, worried how the calf was going to feel. 

    How did I feel?  Not great really.  But not terrible either, so that is awesome.  I will take not terrible anytime. 

    My pace felt really clunky, heavy, and slow.  It was not, however, the hobble step of two weeks ago.  The calf hurt, and was restrictive - as if the muscle is shorter than it needs to be, not allowing me to open up my stride as I would like.  But it was not commanding my attention, so that is really awesome.  I will take that for now. 

    Things eventually fell into place, my stride lengthening, my pace becoming lighter and more comfortable.  But definitely still pretty clunky.  The calf is definitely better, just not back to what it was before the injury.   I think if I went longer, the run might felt better - I find I am a better runner after I have run 3 miles.  But I didn't want to push the calf too much, realistically I am probably teetering on the edge of getting better and re-injuring it. 

    In the end, I am calling an easy 3 miles at a 9:10 pace, a success. 

    Now I am off for a dog walk, Bailey is calling.  Then I will ice, compress, and elevate.
    H2O Audio - Beat The Boredom