Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Running Shoes

I got a new pair of running shoes today. My old ones were over a year old. I'd read in the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall that people were actually less likely to get injured in old shoes than new ones. But I noticed, about a week before my marathon that the tread on the bottom of my shoes was gone in a lot of places, and parts of the outsole were completely worn off. This caused a mild amount of panic in me. How could I run a marathon in such worn out shoes?

Anyways, I'm pretty excited about my new shoes. They are a pair of Saucony Kinvaras. My old ones were Saucony Guides. The new ones are about half as heavy as my old shoes, kinda going along with minimalist running shoe trend. I hope they work out. I've been a little less excited about running since my marathon, but I am looking forward to trying out these new ones.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

CIM 2010 - Race Report

I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning.  Actually, I had been laying in bed for a while, waiting for the alarm from my phone to tell me to get up.  It's funny waking up early race morning, wondering what you're going to do to pass the time before the race.  It always goes by some fast. I ate a banana and an almond butter and honey sandwich, and drank some lemon honey tea.  I got dressed in my running clothes and put my warm clothes on top of them.

I said goodbye to Raybon and Rory.  I somewhat ominously, but only half seriously, worried if I might die of a heart attack in the middle or the race, and wondered if this might be the last time I saw them.  During my last two speed sessions, my heart started racing as soon as I started my last mile repeat, jumping up above 200, and not settling down until I sat down for a long time and drank some water.  I promised Raybon that I would drop out of the race if I thought I was going to die.  I didn't really explain what I meant, but what I meant was I would stop if during the marathon my heart raced like in training.

I got all the way down the hall on the way to the elevator, when I realized I forgot my sunglasses.  I went back to get them, and hastily made my way back to the elevator.

When I got to the hotel lobby, there was already a long line for the bus.  I got there just a little before 5:15, when the bus was supposed to leave.   The bus wasn't there yet.  I had time to run to the bathroom, and chat with some other marathoners.  We all stood in line.  Shouldn't we have been sitting?  I guess if we knew how long we had to wait, maybe we all would have.  I took my fleece hat off, because I was getting hot waiting in the lobby.

I was nervous, but not really as nervous as I have been before other races, like Trans Tahoe Solo, or Hawaii 70.3.   I'm more experienced now, and my baby Rory has given my life more meaning, so races don't mean everything to me.

When the bus finally came, I climbed on.  There were no seats left for me or anyone else in back of me.  If I hadn't gone back for my sunglasses, I would probably have gotten on the first bus.   Argh.   As it was, I had to wait even longer for another bus to come.  This bus got lost on the way to the starting line, and was the last bus to arrive at the start, with only 24 minutes to spare.  No time to warmup.

I rushed with the person I sat on the bus with, Reesa, to the port-a-potty lines.  She told me a friend said to go all the way to the end of the row of port-a-potty's rather than waiting in the long lines.  We did this, and found a line with only one person in it.  We then dropped off our sweats, and headed to find pace teams.  We had discovered that we were about the same speed based off our half marathon times, but she went to the 4:00 pace team, and I went in somewhere between the 4:15 and 4:30 pace team.  I hadn't really planned on staying with a pace leader, I just wanted to sort of know where to line up in the mass of people behind the starting   line.  I had written on my hand target heart rates I wanted to fall in during different parts of the race, based on some online calculator I'd found.  Under 170 for the first 4-5 miles, 170-180 for most of the race, and 180-190 for the end of the race.  Those might sound kind of high, but I have a really high H.R. Max. If I couldn't stay within those ranges and keep with a pace leader, I'd just give up and go it on my own.

I went a pretty conservative pace, partially because I hadn't really warmed up, but also because I wanted to to keep my heart rate under 170.  My first mile 3 miles were all around 10:20, almost a minute slower than my average pace at the Silicon Valley Half Marathon on Halloween. I was a little surprised at how slow I had to run to keep my heart rate down, but it actually isn't that unusual for my heart rate to shoot up at the beginning of a run. It usually takes only about 10 minutes to settle down, but this never happened.

The first aid station, at mile 2, had run out of cups for water by the time I got there.  This made me nervous.  I had depended on getting water at the aid stations, not having brought any with me.  It also left me wondering whether I should keep to my schedule of taking one Gu per half an hour, with no water to go with it.  I had already taken a Gu 15 minutes before the start without drinking enough water.

In my fourth mile, my heart rate shot up to 211, and my average heart rate was 195.  I slowed down and walked, doing a 13 minute mile for my 5th mile.  This ended up being my average for the race.

I tried to get water at the second aid station, and took what I thought was a cup of water, only to find it was the sports drink, Ultima, supplied by the race.  This is thought by many to be a totally bogus sports drink, because it supplies electrolytes, but very few calories needed for the an endurance event.  I can't remember when I finally found an aid station with water, but when  did, I selfishly gulped down 3 cups.  I thought later that this might have been rude.  What if I caused them to run out of cups for people in back of me? After that, even at aid stations where they had tiny Dixie cups, I only took one.  Of course, drinking 3 cups of water at this aid station, I had to pee.

This was my first experience with a race port-a-potty.  I found one without a line after holding it for a long time.  There were four, which were all occupied, and I was impatient that the people inside seemed to take forever.  When one door finally opened, I kinda wished more people took their time.  It was a mess.  Yuck.  Also, I kinda learned that when I run for a long time with a full bladder, somehow the muscles I need to squeeze out pee quickly get tired, and it took me a while to empty my bladder.

I finally got back on the road.  I had hoped to maybe pick it up after the half marathon mark, and did for a while, but my heart rate jumped up again.  And when I slowed down this time, I went even slower.  I got a little discouraged by having aid station after aid station run out of cups before I got there.  I finally picked a cup up off the ground and carried it with me.  Ironically, every aid station after I did this, around mile 19 or so, had cups of water.

There were lots of times I thought about dropping out of the race.  Racing was tough in some ways. Despite my somewhat easy pace, my legs did hurt more than usual when racing. I cried out in pain more than once, when I landed funny and my knee or hip hurt. Maybe the lack of adrenaline made it harder not to feel the pain. I had also likely overtrained, and I was suffering from IT band problems. I remembered what I had told Raybon that morning, but I didn't feel like I was dying, despite my fast heart rate.  I decided just to mitigate it by going slow and taking every opportunity I got to hydrate.  There was part of me that was so embarrassed by my pace.  But I remembered my real goal was just to finish the marathon, not to meet a time goal.  

I used to look down on people who dropped out of races, just because they couldn't do as well as they wanted to, due to mechanical failure or their bodies not cooperating.  I felt like this was disrespectful to all the people who tried their hardest just to finish the race.  I believe you should give every race the best effort you are capable of on race day.  I realize now that I'm in no place to criticize people whose race goals are different than this, to whom winning IS everything.  It can't be my goal, since I'm not fast. But I also can't really hold them up as heroes, either.  I just can't relate.

I wasn't coached for this race, and I trained by myself.  I downloaded a training program and didn't seek advice from almost anyone really on how to run it.  But I did draw on inspiration from my Coach Tim in completing this race.  I thought about him running 12 minute miles in Boston a few years ago, due to leg cramps.  He's a great triathlete, who at age 47 won the amateur race at the competitive Vineman 70.3.  He could have dropped out, but stuck to what I heard he's told other athletes, to give the best race you can given what your body and the race conditions hand you that day.

I was lucky to meet some encouraging people on the race course. One person in particular helped me when I asked her what the race cutoff time was. She told me 6 hours, and that we would make it just fine. I told her I was slowing down, and she told me to keep going. I think being surrounded by other kind people at the back of the pack made me proud to be one of them, someone who just was out to finish the significant goal of completing a marathon.

With about half a mile to go, I saw Raybon and Rory. I was really happy and surprised to see them. I gave Rory a kiss and finished the race.

When I crossed the finish line in 5:41, I couldn't believe how hard it was to keep walking. One of the aid station volunteers asked me over and over again if I was OK. I was kinda staggering and limping. I found Raybon and Rory at the steps of the Capitol Building. We walked 6 blocks to a Starbucks near where our car was parked, and then made our long 3 hour drive home. We hit an In–N–Out drive through on the way back. I ate 3 hamburgers and a basket of fries. Rory was asleep, so we ate in the car.

I couldn't imagine getting any more stiff than I was right after the race. But it was really all I could do to stagger up the 10 steps up to the house and raise my legs up high enough to get over the bathtub walls to get in the shower. I moaned and groaned loudly. I used my arms to brace myself when I took steps. I thought of the Bride from Kill Bill, willing her body to move after being in a coma for years. 3 days later, I'm feeling pretty normal, apart from some mildly tight quads.

I'm dedicating this race to the memory of my Grandma Koto. At her funeral, people talked about how no matter what the circumstances of her life, my grandmother always thought of herself as lucky. She had no bitterness whatsoever about being put in a Japanese relocation camp in World War II. When she moved from her large beautiful home to a smaller room in a retirement home towards the end of her life, she made all of her caregivers her family and blessed everyone around her with her happy spirit. I hope someday I can bring as much joy to people as she did.

I feel really lucky that I was able to do this race and finish it, even if it didn't go exactly as planned. I met my goal, and finishing was a joy. It was also a great learning experience. It might seem unlucky that the aid stations ran out of water and the bus got me to the start so late, but I think in the end the people who are lucky are the ones who count themselves as lucky. I am blessed in so many ways in my life. I don't know why circumstances went the way they did for me, but I trust that God knows the plan even when I do not. I hope I get a chance to do another marathon someday.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

CIM 2010 continued

I'm blogging from Raybon's phone.  I couldn't fit anything more into my last post using this OS.

All in all, I'm happy.  I finished a marathon.  My pace wasn't what I expected, but I didn't have a goal time really.  I had a few other good races this season where I P.R.'d, so I'm happy with my progress.  Maybe I could have done even better if one of them was a focus event instead of a training event for the marathon.  Who knows?  Lots more to learn about how I train best and race.

CIM 2010

I finished my first marathon today.  Yay!

My goal was to finish, so I am pretty happy about that.

I didn't go as fast as I thought I would.  I predicted it would take me about 4:20, based on my half marathon and Alcatraz Challenge pace.  I used those paces with a few online calculators that were significantly more conservative than the Jeff Galloway calculator I blogged about in July.
 I went 5:41:26.

I got to the starting line 26 minutes before the start.  The bus the race provided from my hotel was late getting there, and then got lost.  I had no time to do anything more than use the  port-a-potty and drop off my stuff at the sweat check truck.  I didn't get to warmup, despite getting up at 4:30 in the morning and sleeping at one of the local race hotels.

My race was bad from the beginning.  Despite maintaining a conservative pace, after a couple miles my H.R was over 200.  I thought about dropping out of the race.

Maybe I was dehydrated?  I tried to drink enough water before the race.  But I got hot sitting and standing in the lobby and hot bus. And most of the aid stations were out of cups for water by the time I got to them.

I had to walk a lot and run slowly to keep my heart rate down.  I thought about dropping out, thinking if something waa wrong with my heart, it might not be safe to run.  I decided instead to drink water at aid stations where it was available, and run slowly.

There were some times I was sad and wanted to cry, but that mostly at the thiught of not finishing.  But otherwise I actually had a pleasant race. My intensity was low, so I had a little more energy to smile than usual.  My legs did hurt a bit, too.  I woke up stiff this morning, and hoped I'd loosen up_ but that never happened.  But mostly I felt cheerful, and enjoyed the race energy and company of the rest of the 13 minute milers.

I'm a little frustrated about not getting enough water and not getting time to warm up.  If you spend a lot of money on a race and commit to training you expect a bit better organization.  Enough water for all racers at minimum.  My next marathon, I'll definitely bring at least one water bottle, to drink

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rest in Peace, Grandma

Grandma's Self Portrait
My maternal grandmother passed away on Sunday.

It's been almost a year since I saw her. I wanted her to meet Rory, and was glad she was able to last year when he was 5 months old. It was really beautiful. He reached out and touched her hand, like he knew her. I'm glad they had that moment, and am sad they couldn't have had more. There is part of me that felt like his magic and life could somehow cure her Parkinson's and everything else that ailed her.

Before that, the last time I talked to her was before I was pregnant with Rory. I called her from Hawaii, after doing my half Ironman. We had a really good talk. I can't remember everything she said, only that she told me about an artist she was interested in.

She was a remarkable person, probably in more ways than I know. She was an athlete, an artist, a college graduate, and a business woman. Not all that many 92 year old women could say they were all of those things.

I wish I could have known her better as an adult. I moved hundreds of miles away after college and never returned. My love for her is that of a child for her grandmother, not of a best friend or her confidante or peer. She fed me, held me, took me to exciting places, helped me with my bandaids, watched over me so I would be safe.

One of my first childhood memories of her was when I was probably around 4 or 5. We were out to dinner at "The Smoke House" in Los Angeles with our extended family. They are famous for their prime rib, which everyone else at the table ordered but me. I wanted steak. I loved steak, and my family never had it for dinner. I was given a hard time by a lot of people at the table about passing up the famous prime rib, but my grandmother sat next to me and cut my steak up for me. I felt grateful that she helped me when a few others at the table kept making fun of me.

I loved her also because I felt like I was part of her in some ways. I wanted to be an artist like her. I inherited her absentmindedness and her love for food. She had fine taste, and I wanted to be like her in that way, too.

I'm not grieving heavily about her loss. Maybe grief will hit me will at the funeral. I had a horrendous day yesterday, and I felt guilty that inconveniences like a sick child, fatigue from a long weekend, a car breaking down, ants in the kitchen, waking up at 4 am, a sore throat, Rory climbing out of his playpen for the first time, and a painful 18 mile run somehow overshadowed the loss of someone who has had such a role in making me who I am. I guess life goes on, and caring for the next generation's immediate needs makes it hard to deal emotionally with anything but the here and now.

It has been heartbreaking seeing her get older, sleep more, get thinner, and become less aware of what is around her. I'm glad that she has moved on to a better place. I'd been depressed the week prior to her passing, knowing what was to come, and now I think I actually feel lighter knowing she isn't suffering.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


In the past, while racing, I used to think of it as a battle between myself and some metaphorical demons. When I was a preteen, my dad used to tell me that there is a little green demon inside you that makes you want to give up. Whenever I'd run in P.E. class in junior high and high school, I'd thinking of defeating my little green demon. I'd think about this when training and racing as an adult when I felt uncomfortable enough that I wanted to stop racing.

Since I had Rory, I started disliking this metaphor. I don't like to spend so much time in an aggressive state, even if the aggression is just against parts of myself. I'd rather be my own encouraging teacher, parent, or coach, who gently points me in the right direction and cheers me onward than someone who tries to violently stomp my less desirable inclinations into the ground. I just have really needed to be kind to myself in order to survive motherhood, and I'd also hate to have that angry voice come out whenever Rory does something "bad." Not that he ever does anything "bad."

While it is possible that the aggression might make me go faster while racing, I don't think it is worth it. I do so much racing and training that if I called on my aggressive instincts every time I thought it would make me go faster, it would probably affect my personality. I've also learned by watching Rory grow up that aggression is a natural inclination. We all have it, it's not bad in itself, we just have to learn to keep from feeding it and acting on it. I'm sure it has its place, but for the most part, I think my daily life would be better if I didn't make it a focus.

I thought about this a bit when blogging below about low blood sugar. What I used to think of as a metaphorical demon I had to combat, the voice that asked myself "Why am I doing this?", was probably just the very essential part of me that just wants to not starve my brain of glucose. There probably aren't too many parts of our thoughts and emotions that are always bad. Sometimes they are inappropriate or inconvenient for the situation, but in some context they make sense, and there is a good reason for them being part of us. We might have to reign them in, but there's no reason to get impatient or judge them.

I ran a half marathon on Sunday. After thinking about this for the past week or so, I decided to enjoy this race and feel good about it the whole time by being careful about fueling. I had a fun race, and didn't question "why am I doing this?" at all.

Anyway, that is a long serious buildup to something funny that happened. Since Sunday was Halloween also, there were a lot of costumed runners at the race. One of them that passed me a little before the halfway point was one in a red tutu and devil horns. I thought it would be kind of funny if at the end of the race I decided to chase down this Halloween demon instead of my metaphorical one. (I didn't chase her when she passed, because I was just trying to stay within a specific heart rate zone, and couldn't have chased her without going over it.) I didn't see her after she passed me, until the very end. I didn't catch her. She was near the finish line, and I had about an 8th of a mile to go. Once upon a time, I might have tried to find meaning in this. Does the fact that I was racing a devil mean I should rethink not trying to defeat my metaphorical ones? Would it have meant something if I had in fact beat the devil versus having her beat me? If this was a movie or book (it would have to be a goofy one), maybe it would. But this is just real life, so I'll just take it for what it is.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Half Marathon - Race Report

This blog entry will probably be really boring unless you like reading about pacing and heart rate. I'm just writing it as a training record.

I did the on sort of a Silicon Valley Half Marathon on a whim this morning. I signed up for the expo last night. I'd been thinking about doing it as a training run for the marathon I'm doing in December, but I've been sick for over a week. I still have a cough and ear infection, but my doctor thought it would be OK for me to do this race.

In a way, my race started yesterday. I swam for an hour, and since I actually wanted to do the Half Marathon in a somewhat fatigued state, I ran 6 miles. I got to the race a half an hour early, and tried to get in as much running as I could beforehand, although I have no idea how much.

My first two miles were pretty slow. I didn't see the first mile marker, but at the second mile marker I was at 20 minutes. I was holding back a bit, hoping the crowd would thin out some, not wanting to race around people and tire myself out. Since the crowd remained thick at 2 miles, I decided I'd just have to try to get around people. After that, I averaged about 9 minute 15 second miles, trying to keep my hear rate at around 85% of my H.R. max. Some of my miles were a bit slower than that, I think, maybe more like 9.5 minute miles. For the last 3.1 miles, I decided to just go hard and forget about the monitor. That got me up to around 9 minute miles.

I kinda wanted to average 9 minute miles for the whole race, but didn't want to push it when I couldn't do it without going over 85% of my H.R. Max.

I think I did a pretty good job fueling. I didn't eat a big breakfast, just two pieces of toast with honey and almond butter, and some lemon honey tea. I ate 3 Gu's throughout the course, and drank water at almost every aid station. For once, I didn't feel my stomach hurt every time I gulped down a glass of water. I ate pretty bland foods the last couple days, so that might have helped a little.

All in all, I'm happy that I finished and had a decent pace. 2:03:15, or 9:24 per mile isn't terrible, considering a year ago my 10K pace was significantly slower than that. I mostly wanted to do this race so I would have some idea how to pace myself for a full marathon. Since I was sick, I kind of wonder if I might be able to go a little faster than these results suggest, but maybe it didn't slow me down too much.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I'm sick so:

- I've been letting my baby watch too much TV
- I've been using paper plates, so there are less dishes
- I've been letting my CSA box go bad in my fridge, and eating frozen foods and takeout
- My house is a mess (but when isn't it?)
- I ran 6 miles today instead of the 10 I was supposed to

Saturday, October 23, 2010

OK, I'm Not Quitting

I think I've figured out a way I can still train for the marathon. I've been doing my long runs during the week so that it doesn't interfere with precious weekend time. I'll just do them on the weekends instead. There is one day a week that the childcare Rory goes to is not crowded, which was my concern about it, so I'll just take him there that day sand get in my speed work. It's the day I usually swim, but maybe I can swim in the evening instead. And I figure I can handle at least one day a week skipping my nap while Rory naps in the stroller while I jog, so that should be one more day. That might do it, and I'll try to cross train when I get a chance, too. I only have two more long runs on my schedule anyway, I may as well finish what I started.

Just had a really, really bad day on Thursday. I knew I needed to take some time to think about it, and I have. I think it will work out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Man Cold

I have a cold. So does Raybon. He stayed home from work on Wednesday. I'm still pretty sick, but he is on the mend. I went to Urgent Care yesterday because I also have an ear infection, and told them I might have the flu, because my husband was really sick, like he had the flu, but if I were to go by how I felt, I would just say I had a cold. My theory (actually originally Raybon's) is that my flu was milder than his because I had a flu shot. The Physician's Assistant who cared for me told me to search for "Man Cold" on YouTube. I thought the video was hilarious. Raybon not so much.

I made homemade soup for us, even though I was also sick. I figured he must be much more sick than me. I like cooking anyways, homemade soup is better than canned stuff, and there were some chicken breasts in the fridge that needed cooking up. I figured I'd need to be up until Rory napped after lunch anyhow.

I don't think Rory is sick. He's coughed a few times and is sleeping a little bit more, but he is very happy. Maybe he has a cold, too, but a baby cold is the opposite of a "man cold"? Rory is such a trouper. He has either never been really sick, or he is just such a happy baby he barely notices.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm a Quitter

I'm thinking of quitting my marathon training and just doing a half.  I'm no longer happy with the childcare that Rory is receiving during the time I take to train.  Maybe I'll think of some other solution...  I'm going to sleep on it.

OK, no matter what, I'm not a quitter.  I just have to think of my son first.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Low Self Esteem or Low Blood Sugar?

I read Runner's World Magazine in my bathroom.  Raybon subscribes to it.  I really like the magazine.  I preferred it to swimming magazines even when I was primarily a swimmer, because it always had answers to questions I wondered about, like nutrition, pacing, injury prevention, race prep, etc.  I'm not sure why there isn't an equivalent publication for swimmers.  Are there too few of us?  Maybe there is one, and I just haven't heard of it?

I read something that I found interesting in an article in Sept 2010's edition called Weird Science, which had questions and scientific answers to lots of questions about running.  The last question was:

20 At the end of a long run or race, why do I question the meaning of life?
I had a client who told me at the end of a marathon, she could see the Virgin Mary," says Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D. "She felt like she was dying." One of the prominent symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is angry, depressing thoughts. When your body isn't receiving the glucose it needs to perform, your brain, the air-traffic controller of your body, springs into action, sending messages—Why are you out here anyway, stupid? —for it to shut down and self-preserve.
Running Rx The day before a long run, eat three nutritionally sound meals and make sure your body's fuel tank is topped off before you head out. During the run, take in about 30 grams of carbs every 30 to 40 minutes. Before you head out, line up your answers to the inevitable questions (or at least draw up your will).

I found this kind of funny.  I question, "Why am I doing this?" pretty frequently when racing and training.  I thought it had to do with not having a strong sense of purpose.  There is a pretty good chance that it is just low blood sugar.  I've been a lot better at fueling since I had Rory, since I can't take care of a him in a bonked state.  Maybe I should try swimming across Lake Tahoe again and just making sure I fuel properly the whole way.  (Oh wait, they don't allow solo entries anymore.)  Maybe another 70.3 race?  I think I did Hawaii 70.3 on half a bottle of Perpetuem and one bag of Clif Shot Blocks.

Wonder why I never made fueling a priority before...  It's one of those funny things that I've learned to take care of myself better for Rory, but never did it for myself.  I'm worth it, too, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rory and Me

I just like this picture. We're at a pumpkin farm, where they had a train and lots of other fun stuff.  Rory had a blast.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

What Does an Athlete Look Like?

When I was picking up my packet for the Flip Flop Tri, my UPS guy was one of the volunteers giving out timing chips.  He asked me if I was doing the whole thing.  I told him, yes.  He asked me if it was my first time doing it.  I said, no, I did it last year.  He was very surprised.  I didn't recognize him, and I think he could tell, so he told me who he was.  I told him I didn't recognize him without his truck.

A couple days after doing the race, I was doing a recovery run down my street and saw him.  He stopped his truck to talk to me.  He asked me how the race went.  I told him I went half an hour faster than last year.  He then guessed that I did it in 3 and a half hours.  I told him I did it in almost 3.  He was very surprised.

I wasn't really annoyed by this, but a little puzzled.  I get this all the time, though.  Even though I run at least 3 days a week down my street, and was once seen frequently leaving the house early in the morning in a swimming parka, my neighbors are always surprised that I am an athlete.  Even people I've told that I am a triathlete forget it the next time I talk to them, and seem reluctant to believe me if I mention it again.  My next door neighbor would see my bike in my husband's car, and assume it was his.  No matter how many times I've told her he doesn't own a road bike, and that I do, she can never get this straight in her head.

One would guess it has to do with my weight, but I'm not overweight anymore.  I don't look like Desiree Ficker by any means, but I'm not fat.  I wonder if it is more my shy personality?  I remember right after I graduated from college, I probably weighed about the same as I do now.  One of my coworker's was incredulous that I enjoyed boogie boarding, and assumed that I only went because my boyfriend (now husband) liked it.  Really, it was the other way around. You don't have to even be thin or in good shape to boogie board.  So I don't think it is my body type that makes people think I'm either a bookworm or couch potato.

It's funny, though.  I do have an idea in my head of what an athlete looks like.  Maybe, I don't really look like one.  There's a couple of women that go to "Story Time" at the library that Rory and I go to.  I found out this week that they were both triathletes.  I figured they were both runners before I talked to them, because they really do look like they are.  They are both tall, thin, and muscular looking.  They also just kind of have that "look" in their eyes.  I guess I'm not as tall or thin or muscular as them.  No matter how thin I've been, I've always been kind of "soft", with enough padding to not have shiny, popping muscles. Am I missing the look in my eyes, too?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

First Post-Rory M.M. Workout

I went to my first M.M. workout since I went on maternity leave.  I was happy to see my coaches and everyone else there.  I asked Coach R. what lane I should get in, based on how fast I swam the Flip Flop Tri swim leg.  I got in that lane, let the person in front of me go for at least 10 seconds, and caught her in about a lap.  So I moved up a lane.  I found I was too fast for that lane, too.  So I moved up another lane.  That lane seemed to work pretty well.  It was a lane I swam in pretty frequently when I first started with M.M.  I swam behind someone I used to swim about the same speed as, left 10 seconds behind her and kept up just fine.  Phew!!! I guess I had a bad swim at the Flip Flop Tri.  I didn't swim on anything like the kind of interval I used to swim at, but somehow swimming in a lane Io once swam in with familiar people made me feel like myself again.  Maybe I will get back into shape someday afterall.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Before and After

This picture is of me on the run of the Flip Flop Triathlon in 2009.  Rory was 4 months old, and I could have raced in the "Athena" category, for heavier women athletes.   I look surprised in this photo, because I am in the middle of realizing that I forgot to put on my race number in transition.  Glad they didn't DQ me!
This photo is me on the run this year.  Can you tell I lost 20 pounds?  I'm wearing almost the exact same outfit, except for a couple of key things.  I did remember my race number, because I put it on before the swim, rather than putting it on after the bike like  I planned to before.  And, um, I'm wearing bike gloves.  Yup.  I tried stuffing them in my shorts when I realized they were still on, but they slipped and were uncomfortable.  I ended up leaving them on the course, figuring I could go back and get them, but they weren't there when I went back for them.

I usually think that the 20 pounds lost are pretty noticeable, but these two pictures don't seem to highlight it all that well, IMHO.  20 pounds lighter and 12 months later, I'm still manage to look like a dork in my race photos though.  Ha ha.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Santa Cruz Triathlon Race Report - 2010

The Santa Cruz Triathlon is one of my favorite races. Because it is local, I am familiar with the course which means I can build up the race in my mind, visualize it, and get more excited about it. And as you all know, I love the ocean. I get to swim in it, then enjoy the view while riding and running along it. I also just really like seeing familiar faces of teammates, past and present. My team, T.S., had a good showing for this race. I got a rush every time I saw someone in a team jersey, even if it usually meant they were passing me after leaving 10+ minutes back. I spent a bit of energy pumping my fist and cheering for people, just because I figured the energy I got back was more than worth it.

I did this race last year, 4 months after Rory was born. I was not in good shape to do the race. I was running once a week, and had gotten up to 5 miles. I wasn't riding at all. It was only my 3rd time on my bike in a year. I hadn't gotten to swim much either. I was nervous about doing the race, but really wanted to do it. I was nervous because I was afraid of being exhausted after the race, and having to take care of Rory afterward. The other thing I was nervous about was being apart from Rory. I figured I'd be away from him about 4 hours, the longest we'd ever been apart. He wasn't that crazy about taking a bottle, and not accustomed to being apart from me.

But I thought I deserved to do it. If I wasn't the perfect attentive mother after because I was tired, overall I'd be a happier, better mom if I was allowed to feel like a person in her own right. I promised myself I wouldn't race too hard. My goal was to keep moving for 3 or 4 hours, enjoy myself, and never race so hard I wanted to stop. I finished in about 3.5 hours. I was indeed very tired in the days following the race, but I was still glad I did it. And Rory survived my less than perfect motherhood. As he always does.

I'm in a much better place this year than last. I've gotten some of my edge back. While I raced in a postpartum haze last year, afraid of pushing too hard, afraid of crashing, afraid of getting kicked in the face in the swim, afraid of exhaustion, I decided to enjoy myself this year, but also enjoy pushing myself.

The swim was fun. Swimming in the wetsuit felt easy, and I felt like the swim went fast. The water didn't feel too, too rough, although there were some waves to look out for on entry and exit. I enjoyed swimming in a pack again, despite getting kicked and pushed. I relaxed and let my wetsuit float me through it. I was surprised when I got out that I was a minute slower than last year. So maybe I do swim better without a wetsuit. I don't think I was in better swimming shape last year. It did keep me warm, I guess, so maybe it helped me from starting the bike with cold muscles. I'm not sure whether the wetsuit vs. no wetsuit debate is as relevant as the fact that I'm not in as good swimming shape as I'd like. My fastest time around the pier is 23 minutes, and 24 minutes used to be typical. The fastest swim time for my age group this year was 25:20. Raybon says that is just how triathlon is, running and biking are more important, so if I focus on tri's, my swimming will slip. But that isn't it. I just don't live near a pool with lap swimming or workouts at times that I can get to them. I'm afraid I'll never get in good swimming shape. (I do have a plan that might work, maybe I'll blog about it later.)

Anyhoo... I had a slowish transition, having trouble getting my wetsuit off. I got on my bike. I'd been thinking about my bike all week. It's a course that isn't too hard, but has a lot of rolling hills. I read in one of the emails sent out by the race that one thing to do is to "Pretend the hill is actually 50 yards longer than it is so you’re accelerating over the top of them and not losing momentum." To my mind, this meant to bike the whole thing pretty hard, to not give it up on the hills, and since I'd naturally recover on the downhill, to not give it up then, too. I decided to push the bike for once. Every other tri I've done, I've been afraid to bike hard, wanting to save something for the run. I've run up to 15 miles at a time, sometimes in the heat, sometimes with a jogging stroller, so I figured I'd be OK with the run. And even if I wasn't, I've done runs and will do more this year, so I'd still be confident in my running ability if I had one bad run. This is my only race involving cycling this year, so I figured I'd risk blowing up on the bike. I pushed pretty hard, but I think I could have gone even harder. The times I picked people to catch and pushed a little harder, I was able to do so, without feeling exhausted afterward. Maybe I could have done a little more of that.

The trickiest parts of the course for me were the sharp (to me) turns around the turnaround in Davenport, and the little add on near the end at Long Marine Lab. I had passed a woman on a hill coming into Santa Cruz, and got passed back by her (and by lots of other people) at Long Marine Lab, because I slowed down so much because of the bumpier road and the sharp (to me) turns. I'm the opposite of a technical cyclist, doing most of my rides on my trainer.

I even used my aerobars this time! I've had them on my bike since Hawaii 70.3 in May 2008, but haven't ever really used them. Hawaii 70.3 was too windy, and I felt too unstable. I also was afraid I'd hurt my neck. The one time I used them in training, I crashed my bike by going over diagonal railroad tracks in an accident unrelated to the bars. My neck hurt so bad, and I wasn't sure if it was the aerobars or the crash, so I've always been afraid to use them. But when I brought my bike in to get checked at a shop the day before the race, another woman was having aerobars put on hers to race with the next day, her first time using them. It made me think I should try them, even if I haven't practiced with them. I did, and my neck feels fine today, and can probably credit them in part for my P.R. bike split, 16 minutes lopped off my time from last year.

I felt some stomach cramping during the race. I was trying hard to fuel well so I wouldn't bonk, but I think my Cytomax made my stomach bloat. I couldn't drink much of it in the second half of the bike. I drank only water during the run because of it. I don't know how much it slowed me down, because I felt like I had a good race nonetheless, but maybe it did a little. I'm going to try yet another sport drink. Any suggestions? I'm thinking of trying HEED.

The run was fun. I saw lots of teammates out there, and cheered for them. It was a little hot, but not too bad. Around 77, according to Raybon. I poured water on myself at the aid stations, and even once poured ice water down my bra. This was kind of funny, because I expected the water to drain out and the ice to settle in, but instead, the water and ice sloshed around in my bra, making lots of noise. I wonder if anyone knew what the sound was? I averaged 9 minute 8 second miles, which is faster than any of the many races along West Cliff I've done this year, so not too bad considering the heat and my push on the bike. Still, it was slower than my pace for Alcatraz Challenge. According to my "Magic Mile" calculator based on my time running one mile, I'm supposed to run more like 8 minute 12 second miles for a 10K, but I should add on 30 seconds for every 5 degrees of temperature above 60. That would put me at 9 minute 42 second miles at 75 degrees, so maybe I did pretty well with my 9 minute 8 second miles?

I'm stoked about the P.R., but really wanted to break 3 hours. Unfortunately, my watch broke sometime on the bike, and I had no idea where I was at time-wise on the run. Maybe I would have pushed harder if I knew how close I was, but maybe I couldn't have. Maybe I would have just made myself sick and gone slower? It's hard to say. I'm sure if I did this race again, I could figure out where I could shave 3.5 minutes off somewhere.

Apart from my swim, I've finally done an Olympic distance tri close to what I figured I would before I ever tried one. Before becoming a triathlete, I'd run a 10K at 9 minute mile pace. Though I hadn't cycled, people who had 9 minute mile run splits and swam like me pulled off bike legs 17 mph or faster, so I figured I should be able to do that. But when I tried to bike the course one day a few years ago, and then run it the next, my legs were so tired, I could barely move during the run. I got close to those stats in this race, so I'm pretty happy about that. It's been a lot of hard work to get there, raising my respect for anyone who has ever completed a Tri. Becoming a triathlete is at once humbling and confidence building. I've met so many amazing, interesting people along my journey, it makes me realize how much strength each of us has within us. Giving it my all and improving so much makes me feel like I should be on the front page of the paper, but I realize that most people in the race on Sunday have a story of starting slowly and improving, and balancing work, family and triathlon like I do.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Flip Flop Triathlon, 2010

I did the Flip Flop Triathlon today. Yay me!


Overall Rank (including men): 465 out of 735
Overall Time: 3:03:24 (Previous Olympic P.R. 3:23:49, Wildflower 2008)

Gender Rank: 116 out of 275
Class Rank (Women 35-39): 28 out of 62

Swim time: 30:58 (P.R. at Wildflower 2008, 24:02)
T1: 5:49
Bike time: 01:28:04 (16.8 MPH)(P.R. at Flip Flop Tri 2009, 1:44:51)
T2: 1:56
Run Time: 00:56:37 (9 minute 8 second miles)(P.R. at Wildflower 2008, 1:04:02)

I'm working on a race report. I'm too tired to finish it or proofread it, so I'll leave you with the raw numbers. Not sure anyone other than my Mom will bother to read this, but I'm pretty happy with them, so thought I'd put them up on my blog for me to look at, at least.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wetsuit Experiment

I tested out a wetsuit given to me by the Wongstar in the pool on Sunday. (The high school pool, not the tiny one described below.) I swam 100 yards with it, and then without it. With it, I was 3 seconds faster than without it, and that is with screwing up a flip turn with the wetsuit. I also swam a 400, and was 20 seconds faster with the wetsuit.

I swam in the ocean two weeks ago without a wetsuit, and was really cold after. My muscles in my legs cramped up as I walked. I guess that is what losing some pounds and not getting in the ocean to train will do to you. It made me wonder if my legs would be too cold to move after the swim leg of the tri I have in two weeks, hampering my ability to ride my bike.

So I will likely wear a wetsuit for the Flip Flop Tri I'm doing in a couple weeks. I'm slightly embarrassed about this... I still think of them as "cheat suits", but since they don't break the rules of the race, and everyone else will be wearing them, they aren't really. I think if it were up to me, they wouldn't be allowed, but if it were up to me, triathlons would also have much longer swims.

Where I'm Swimming

My little Rory is growing up. He's almost 16 months old now. He is very social and loves being around other kids, and doesn't have much of any separation anxiety. So I've been dropping him off at childcare occasionally for an hour and a half or so, so I can exercise.

There's some overlap between lap swimming at a nearby pool and the childcare at the Rec Center that I drop him off at. It allows me to get in 45 minutes of swimming, once a week. I also try to fit in swimming in the ocean or at the high school pool on a weekend afternoon.

The pool is, um, cute. It's small. 2 lanes only. Wider than normal lanes, but only 50 feet long. There is a gutter on only one end. A small pool with only one gutter means that there is more turbulence generated from water splashing up against the walls. It also means only so many strokes between flip turns. For me, only 11, if I don't push off too hard. 13 if I flip before I get close enough to the wall to push off, which is what I do, just to make for a harder workout.

The people are super friendly. It is a really small group of regulars, all women. They all love swimming, though none are super fast. I'm feeling pretty slow lately, and I'm the fastest. One of them is the lady who sells me my organic chicken hot dogs at the stand close to the pool. The other nice thing is they use minimal chlorine, unlike the local high school pool where I used to swim Masters, where I would have a headache all day if I swam early in the morning. Ionly was given the lowdown on why the chlorine is so high at the high school by the person who runs the lap swimming. She says they just dump tons of chlorine at the high school pool, because that means they only have to check the chlorine levels once a day.

I wonder if I'll ever have the luxury of swimming seriously again. I'd like to train for the hour postal (swim as many laps as you can in a hour) once my marathon training is done. The main challenge will be getting to the pool 3 times a week. We'll see if I can figure it out.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Golden Rule and Frenemies

The word "frenemy" was popularized by the show Sex and the City. I'm not sure how to define it exactly. A friend who sometimes acts as your enemy? An enemy who disguises herself as your friend? Both, sometimes in the same person?

I get confused by people who hurt me, and then are surprised when I don't want to hang out with them. When people hurt my feelings, particularly on purpose, I wonder why they would do that to someone they want to be friends with. Hurt people hurt other people. Maybe it's that simple? But apart from understanding why people act that way, I'm left with trying to decide how to react.

I've been spending a little time reading up on this. Mostly articles on "Psychology Today", and some other sites on the web. You can Google it yourself, I guess. One article I sort of liked was: How to Spot a Frenemy

I had (I use the past tense optimistically) what might be an unfortunate tendency to not trust my instincts about people who habitually hurt me. The take-away from the above article that I found most helpful is: "You do yourself a disservice (not to mention set yourself up for more abuse) by analyzing interactions, questioning whether or not you are being too sensitive or making excuses for why a person behaves the way they do. If you feel like you've just received an emotional kick in the gut, then you have just received an emotional kick in the gut. No analysis needed!"

The question is, what to do, once you've identified these people?

I'm seemingly lucky in that, being a housewife, I don't have to deal with coworkers. That cuts my obligatory relationships down quite a bit. But I still have friends of friends, friends of Raybon's, and soon enough, the friends of Rory to deal with. I wish I could insulate myself only with people who are true friends, but I can't. And even amongst my dearest, oldest friends and family, I'm sometimes dealt emotional blows that make me wonder whether my friendship is worth while. I'm an introvert, but still a social creature, who seeks support and hopes to grow as a person through my relationships with others.

I don't want to give a definitive answer, but the one I'd like to consider is the Christian perspective.

As you can see from the above, I initially sought out the internet for an answer to these questions, rather than the Bible, my pastor, or my prayer group. Honestly, I don't go to church anymore, so I don't even have the last two to turn to. I've started to distrust Christianity for a number of reasons. But to begin with, for some reason, some of the religious part of Christianity has lost a little bit of its resonance with me.

Before I start with what I've lost touch with, let me begin with what it is about Christianity that I still believe in. I believe in God. I believe that God answers prayers. I believe that God loves us more than we can understand, despite the fact that we are sinners, and that we are all infinitely precious to him.

By the religious part of Christianity, I mean the part the deals with the belief that Jesus, the man who lived 2000 years ago, is God, the son of the Father, who died to save us all from sin and death. The question simply occurred to me, why should I believe this? How does this resonate with my soul or personal experience? I knew that at one time it did. I voluntarily converted to Christianity at the age of 9, along with the rest of my family. I was old enough to know what I was doing and embrace the choice. The part that does resonate with me is that God loves us enough to suffer for us and our sins, but I'm not sure why he would have to.

On top of that, I started to question whether or not Christianity's philosophy was helpful in my life. I believed and tried to live out forgiving my enemies, and treating everyone as I would like to be treated. But despite my best efforts to be a good Christian, there are some people who took my good will and decided instead of reciprocating friendship, to think of me as a sap and continuously abuse me. In particular, I have one relationship with a loved one who hurts me over and over again, sometimes causing me pain on occasions that should have been joyous. Someone I trust and confide in more than almost anyone insists I must maintain that relationship despite the pain, because that is the Christian, forgiving thing to do. This only served to convince that that I am not a Christian if I need to maintain a relationship with someone who hurts me.

I've rejected Christianity as my guide in life, and instead often sought internet articles on psychology to help me figure out what to do. (Sometimes, when feeling like I need a bit more depth, I do crack open a book, too.) But it was an article in Psychology Today that I read yesterday, that made me think I should reconsider the Christian perspective. The True Meaning of the Golden Rule: Love Your Bullie It talks about the Golden Rule, which is central to Christian morality, and other religions. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus takes it a step further and says "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

The article says that we can achieve a better world by living by the Golden Rule. The thing that I find hard, is despite my best efforts to be kind to my enemies, some people continue to be my enemies nonetheless. Sometimes it just makes people think you are a sap. As an example, whenever I went out to get takeout for lunch, I would ask people if they wanted me to pick something up for them, despite the fact that they never did the same for me. I didn't mind doing going to an extra effort for them, until I realized that some of them were laughing behind my back about taking advantage of me. By trying to be kinder to them than they were to me, I did nothing but reinforce their feeling of superiority to me. It's hard to see how this makes for a better world, when by treating people more kindly than they treat you only makes them into jerks. I have lots of other examples of this, where I have willingly gone out of my way to be nicer to people than they are to me, and this only reinforces their selfishness and makes them look down on me.

Maybe I'm simply missing something. Maybe treating people as I would want to be treated means that I love them enough to not let them be jerks to me. As the article states:

"Treating people like friends does not mean that we must give them everything they want. We can be hurting people by giving them everything they want. We can be spoiling them, enabling them or helping them become bad people. The GR requires us to say "no" to people sometimes, but we are to do it nicely, without anger. Nor does the GR mean that we must let people abuse us, injure us or kill us. We are required to protect ourselves and to stop others from hurting us. The GR even requires us to kill people if there is no other way to stop them from being murderous. But it is not because we hate them. It is because we love them and they give us no choice."

The thing is, I'm not sure what this means when I extended into action, apart from the my attitude and intention. I'm not sure how I would act differently by calling someone "a friend" rather than an enemy. If I avoid someone who abuses me, can I really call that person my friend? If I say no to people who ask more of me than than I give back, how am I treating them any differently than I would treat an enemy or non-friend? I might be doing it out of concern rather than revenge, but I'm not sure how my actions are all that different than someone who might call that person their enemy. Is it an abuse of language to call someone we avoid, or even kill "a friend"?

What occurs to me, is that we don't follow the Golden Rule because it will make our enemy a better person. It may or may not. Suppose you were faced with that situation, where everyone around you disobeyed the Golden Rule, regardless of what you did? Would you join the crowd and forget about ethics altogether? Or should you continue to try to follow it, simply because it is right and makes you a better person?

Even if following the Golden Rule wouldn't make the people around you better, it still is, as far as I can see, humanities only hope for peace and happiness. A world where everyone took offense at any perceived slight and retaliated would be a horrible place. A world where everyone considered that their enemies are people who are hurting and need love would be a better one. Any ethical system would have to be one that would make a better world if everyone followed it. Still, I'm not sure it would always make a better world just because one person did.

This brings me back to thinking about Jesus. God came to earth and preached forgiveness and love of your enemies. By his example, we should follow what is right, not because it gives us more friends or makes us happier or more powerful, but because it is the right thing to do. In a sinful world, God came to earth and lead a sinless life perfect, and died friendless, and by the world's measure, powerless. I don't think, at least in the short run, he made his enemies better people by allowing them to kill him. There is some poetry there for me now at least, if not logic, in God coming to earth as a perfect person who showed us what it meant to love and forgive, and having to die the death of a sinner. In a sinful world, a perfect person would suffer because of his love for those who sinned against him.

I hate to end it there, because the message of Christianity isn't about death and sin, it's about God's love and redemption. I don't think I've even solved my problem with Christianity as a religion, but at least I'm not inclined to reject the idea that I once was inclined to, that of God on a cross.

And I'm still not sure exactly how to live my life or deal with people who hurt me. I'm only human, and being a mom of a precious, innocent little boy, I only have so much love and energy to go around. I know I can't expose myself to hurt and humiliation continuously from bullies, because the grief it caused me does in the end affect him. I'm not strong enough to not be hurt by others, and that hurt would end up hurting him. I can't be a good mom while nursing wounds. The best I feel I can do for them and myself is to acknowledge that their own pain and struggles, and pray that God and other people will care for them when I can't. Hatred certainly isn't the solution, I've always known that. I know from past experience that God answers prayers, and that praying for my "enemies" helps me heal my own wounds.

I keep reading and re-reading this, and keep thinking of more questions and tangents to go on. I'm going to hit publish anyways. This post is a little all over the place, and pretty long, so kudos to you if you've gotten this far in it. I'd welcome any feedback from any or my readers, Christian or not.

Monday, August 09, 2010

I Signed Up!

I signed up for the California International Marathon! I'm pretty excited about it. Hope the training goes well.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Cruz Cruz - Progress Over 7 Years

My TimeTop TimePercent DifferenceMy RankTotal RankPercentile

2004:  Had been swimming Masters a little over a year at that point.  One of the choppiest swims I've ever swam.  I remember ending up with a sore neck from cranking it from sighting.

2005:  I barely remember this swim, except that it foggy, so they shortened the course.  My biggest improvement was made this year, as this was the year I first started swimming seriously and regularly with the larger Master's group at UC Flip Flop.

2006:  When I swam this race, I remember feeling like it was the best race of my life.  I went into it not even thinking I was going to race hard, but ended up wondering if I'd skipped a buoy, because I came in behind a woman who swam a lane up from me, and my times were much closer to the leaders than I expected.  This was the year I trained at Cowell's more than any other year, favoring the ocean to the pool.

2007:  It looks like my progress slipped this year a bit, and I wasn't very happy with my performance.

2008:  Back in the game.  I swam for fun, bit I swam hard, and was pretty surprised at how well I did, considering I'D been swimming much less this year than last, and my Parkside Aquatic Mile results were not great.

2009:  Just had Rory.  Might have been able to pull off a 2-mile swim, despite having been in the water maybe half a dozen times since I had him, but did the 1-mile Roughwater instead, partially just to see my teammates. Didn't feel like I could do both.

2010:  :(.  It looks like I'm worse than the first time I did it, when I'd been swimming Masters for a little over a year.  It always kinda depends on who shows up, though.  Oh well, I'm still getting faster, just not getting faster as fast as I was.  Makes sense, since I don't have the time to train that I once did.  I am happy that swimming isn't the main focus in my life. Seeing Rory post-race is better than any result or reward. Will continue to focus on getting better from where I'm at.  I guess if it takes me longer to improve, that just means I can string out my post Rory P.R.'s a little longer. :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Cruz Cruise 2010

I wasn't planning on doing any of the Flip Flop open water races this weekend. I did a 40 mile bike ride yesterday, and was planning on doing an 8-mile run today.

I was complaining to Raybon about my lack of motivation in the pool the last couple of weeks. I actually trained pretty hard for Alcatraz. Well, honestly, by hard I mean I swam about 2200 yards or so twice a week for about a month. But I tried to maintain an interval that in not too distant memory would have worked for a lane that I swam in. Hard is all kind of relative, I guess. Nothing like as hard as I used to train.

So after training hard for Alcatraz, and then finding that about 100 people had boats move them closer to the finish line, I was pretty disappointed. Why did I train so hard only to get beat by people, that to my mind were assisted in cheating?

Raybon told me I should do a race I'd already done before, so I would know where I'm at.

So I did the Cruz Cruise today, a 2-mile swim in Flip Flop, not really knowing how I'd do, but hoping I'd get a little satisfaction that my month of semi-hard training would have helped some.

The swim itself was fun. I felt really at home in the familiar water where I used to spend so much time training. I also had fun saying hi to my old teammates from Flip Flop Masters. I got a nice red second place ribbon, and felt happy when my old teammates cheered for me as I picked it up from the my former coach. The announcer (one of my old lane mates) gave me a little bit of a hard time about "swimming for a different club." Well, sorry... Haven't been swimming at either club, but still loyal to the club I swam the most with in recent history.

I felt good swimming, but when I got out I was COLD!!! I never get cold. It was only 59 degrees! Positively balmy! Other than the 3 other races I've done post-Rory, I've been in the ocean just once. Guess I've lost some of my cold acclimation. I don't feel too sad about this. If this could somehow mean I get less hot when I run or bike, that's a good thing.

I kinda wish I had the race results in front of me but I don't. One person who beat me by 7 minutes in a one mile swim last year, beat me by the same in a 2 mile swim this year. So I guess that's some post-Rory progress? And someone who beat me by 3 minutes in that one mile swim last year, came in somewhere (maybe a minute, maybe less) behind me this year. So while I'm making post-Rory progress, people who were about my speed when I did the race two years ago kicked my butt. I pretended the people I was swimming with in the race were people that I would once have kept up with, but those people were dried off and dressed when I got out.

So all in all, I'm glad I raced today. I enjoyed the swim, and at least I know I'm a little faster than last year. All those 400's I did in the pool paid off a little bit, I guess. Hopefully this will motivate me to swim a little harder occasionally.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Marathon Training Begins Today

Haven't signed up for the race yet, but I'm starting the first day of my training plan today. I'm hoping that everything works out that I'll be able to complete the training and do the race. I've picked California International Marathon, because its December 5th date is pretty much right on track with my training plan.

Found this article on, which talks about splitting up your long run:

That makes training with Rory in the stroller seem a little more manageable. He would never nap long enough for a 4 or 5 hour run, but if I split it up, it might just work out. But who knows what his nap schedule will be like by the time the long runs start up? I'm just going to take the training plan one day at a time for now, hope for the best, and try to figure a way around if obstacles come up.

I'm using Cool Running's Beginner Marathon Training Plan as a base, and may end up splitting my long runs in accordance with the above article.

Alcatraz Challenge Video

I thought my race report was lacking in describing the experience of my race. This video this guy who did the race made gives you a much better idea of what the race was like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Raybon's Wharf to Wharf

Congratulations, Raybon on winning the Wharf to Wharf Challenge and completing the actual race today with a time of 55:38.  He had a really enjoyable race and is pleased with coming in under an hour, his time goal.

We still have a bit of a friendly competition thing going on.  I have to admit, I didn't even try not to compare his pace today and mine last week, since his original position on who would win the Wharf to Wharf Challenge was "whoever is faster gets to race without the jogging stroller."  I came up with the mile race, since figuring out who was faster over 10K didn't seem plausible, since one of us has to watch Rory at all times.  My pace was a little faster than his, but his was pretty close, and faster than my pace just a couple months ago.  So who knows who will be faster next month or in a year.  I hope he keeps running though, and given that he is a guy, and a former cross country star, if he does, he will get faster than me eventually.

Yesterday's Workout (And a longish story)

A few years ago I had something a little frightening happen to me.

It was my 32nd birthday. I was on my way to my first triathlon, the Tri For Fun in Pleasanton. I woke up really early in the morning to get there on time. I think I left the house around 4:30 am. (Those were the days when I could wake up early, do a race, chill out the rest of the day. and maybe even plan to sleep in again the next couple of days to catch up on sleep. These days, I still feel like I'm catching up on sleep from when Rory got up at 430 every morning.)

I was almost out of gas when I left my house in the Flip Flop mountains. I went to the gas station just 1.5 miles from my house. Before I could even get out of my car, I noticed an odd, but familiar person about 10 feet from my car.

It was a man who used to ride up my street.  OK, the picture to the left is not the man.  Thankfully.  The man who was there rides fully clothed (had a parka on at the time), and has a 'fro.  It could be his bicycle, though.

When I say this man used to ride up my street, I mean if I wanted to walk down my street on any given day, at any given time, there was a 90% chance I'd see him.  Seriously.  Day or night.

Granted, my street is a really nice street to go up and down.  It's 1.5 miles long, and doesn't have too much traffic.  It's nice and shady, in the redwoods, and even has a nice creek that runs along it.  But his behavior is still a little weird.  Most cyclists who log a lot of miles have cycling clothes and nice road bikes. They usually like a little variety in where they ride.

This guy would usually say hi to me, as much as I hoped he wouldn't.  It was always awkward, but usually I begrudgingly said hi back.  I resented having to say hi to him.  I felt stupid, not knowing whether acknowledging his presence would be safer than not.

Anyways, on this particular morning of my first triathlon, at 4:30 am, we were the only ones around.   He called out to me, "What time is it?"  I yelled the time back to him, without getting out of my car or opening the window.  He yelled at me, "I can't hear you, open your door."  I refused, and he yelled back "I'm not going to hurt you."  I can't remember what I said next, but he eventually left, without me getting out of the car.  At this point, I was too scared to get out and get gas, even after I couldn't see him anymore.  I drove about 35 minutes or to the closest gas station on the way to the tri, hoping upon hopes that I would not run out of gas in a place without cell phone coverage.

I called the police when I got back home from my triathlon.   I told the police what happened.  It's a little funny that I couldn't give a police report without pride oozing from my voice that I was on my way to my first triathlon.  Although, why is this funny?  I met a 9 year old who did her first 10K this morning, and she was so proud, it was the cutest thing.  Why can't adults be proud of themselves without it being kinda silly?  Anyway, I digress.  They seemed to take it seriously, and told me to call again if I saw him.

The next time I saw him (right in front of my house on his bike as I was getting out of my car), it freaked me out.  I called the police.  This time they were like "Um, it's not illegal to ride your bike down your street.  Sorry, can't do a thing."  I was annoyed at their inconsistency in their response.

Even a couple years after that, I would see him almost every time I walked down my street.  Also, many times when I'd just be leaving or coming into my house.  He even met my parents once.  Met my husband, too.  I've started referring to him as "my boyfriend" when I talk about him to Raybon.  I haven't seen him on my street for a while, thankfully, but I still see him in our little town elsewhere sometimes.  I would sometimes feel like I shouldn't walk down the street while pregnant, or when I walked alone with Rory when he was young, because he kind of scared me.  I'm sure it was safe, there are tons of people who walk down my street every day, because it was such a nice walk, but being an overprotective mom, sometimes I felt nervous and vulnerable.

What made me think of this was the workout I did yesterday.  I basically just rode up and down my street 7 times, to equal 21 miles and 1400 feet in elevation.  A modest, decent workout for someone hoping to do an Olympic length tri in a couple months.  I didn't have to ride somewhere that I would be out of cell phone coverage, and I didn't have to contend with much traffic.  I also had promised Raybon that this weekend he wouldn't have to take care of Rory much, since he raced the Wharf to Wharf today, and wanted to rest this weekend other than that.  I told him to hang a pink plastic bag where I could see it when Rory woke from his nap, so that I would know when to come in from my ride, and stop doing my hill repeats if I needed to.

This is a little different from the behavior of "my boyfriend."  This is the street I live on.  I have a good explanation.  I'm training for a race.  I have a baby I don't want to get too far from.  I don't do this every day, all day long.  But I couldn't help but wonder if I was being judged the way I judged that guy.  I'm not sure if this is just a humorous story, or if there is a moral here.

Why is this man's behavior somehow less acceptable than the crazy endurance athletes I admire? The answer, or course, has to do with social mores, culture, and subcultures.  But I'm someone who has tried at times in her life, to rebel against social mores that I found trivial or sexist.  I know there is a good answer to why his behavior is different, but I find it interesting that it is complex enough that it would take more time and thought to explain than I have room for in this blog post.  It has to do with matters of degree, and I'm not always sure where the line on the spectrum that separates acceptable from unacceptable should be drawn, just that I have my own opinion when I see something I view as unacceptable.

I really do believe this man is likely mentally ill.  Not sure he is dangerous to himself or others, and I couldn't diagnose him, but I believe someone could.  You might think this is kinda sappy, but he is God's child, nonetheless.  I don't intend to reach out to him or try to understand him to his core, but a little respect would probably be beneficial to my soul.  I wouldn't judge myself so much if I didn't judge other people.  I feel like a weirdo at times that I'm not within the happy confines of my sphere of loved ones, and maybe I wouldn't feel that way so much if I wasn't so quick to judge him or others.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fair or Unfair?

I'm going back and forth with the race director of Alcatraz Challenge about whether the race was conducted fairly. Let's just say I'm frustrated. I want to use this blog to make my case, since I'm not finding the email conversation satisfactory, but I'm not sure whether that would be passive aggressive, or if it would be a productive way of expressing myself and furthering a conversation amongst other triathletes and open water swimmers. The question is whether it is fair in an open water or multisport race involving swimming to use a boat to put people "back on course."

Sigh. It was a fun race. Can't let this frustration spoil it. I know I did a hard swim, and am a better swimmer than the results of the race reflect.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alcatraz Challenge 2010 - Update

I learned from an anonymous commenter on my last post that a lot of people were brought in by boat and moved closer to shore during the swim. That actually makes a lot of sense. I looked back a few times during my swim and saw that there were a lot of people behind me, but when I got onto shore and looked out, there weren't many people still out in the water. So maybe I wasn't such a bad navigator. I did have to run up the beach a little bit because I missed coming in near the finish line. I did try to follow the instructions given before the race on how to navigate the swim as best I could, so maybe I couldn't have done better than I did.

Wonder how many people got helped out by the boat. I wonder if they even took count of them. It doesn't seem fair exactly... In my mind, if you get helped by a boat in a swim, you should DNF... Maybe they just didn't want to disappoint people? Or maybe they were afraid people crazy enough to want to swim Alcatraz would not have got on the boat if they knew they would DNF, so it was their way of putting safety first?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Alcatraz Challenge 2010

Subtitle: Am I Still a Swimmer?

I swam from Alcatraz to Crissy Field (1.5 Miles), and then did an out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge (7 Miles.)

Overall Time: 2:15.51
Age Group Rank: 16th out of 24
Swim Time: 1:10.59 (Holy cow that's a long time)
Age Group Swim Rank: 22nd out of 24 (Seriously???)
Run Time: 1:01.50 (For a 7 mile run, that's an 8:50/mile pace. Faster than any pace I've ever done in a running race longer than a mile.)
Age Group Run Rank: 9th out of 24

I'd been looking forward to this race for a while. The Alcatraz swim has its obvious history that intrigues me. People think of swimming it as being a sort of death defying feat. I just really like swimming from landmarks, islands, or through natural channels. It's fun swimming and seeing the famous bridges and looking backwards occasionally to see Alcatraz in the background, and San Francisco in front of you.

This is probably a bad motivation, but all the people who seemed pleased with the idea that I would have to give up swimming after I had a baby would probably have to eat their words if they knew I swam from Alcatraz. I mean who cares what catty people like that think?

Anyway, I've swam Alcatraz before, and found it to be an easy swim the first time I did it. I didn't do it in a race the first time and I didn't time myself, but I don't think it took me all that long, and I didn't find it all that difficult.

Today is a different story. I think the conditions were a little rougher than usual, with the fastest time coming in around 40 minutes, when normally they'd be around 30 minutes. But looking at my swim rank, I'm pretty sure the conditions weren't the only thing going on. I did have trouble navigating. I had a long day yesterday, and Rory woke up about once an hour last night. I guess open water swimming takes more brains than I had available to me.

I know I'm a bit slower than I was before I had Rory, but even a few months after I had him, my ranking in other races were not quite as bad. So I'm not sure what happened, but I do know that next time I do this swim, I will take learning more about the currents and how to aim more seriously. The first time I did the swim, it was in a small group with tons of kayakers, who told me where to aim every time I popped up my head. This time I got almost no help whatsoever. I'm not complaining exactly, I just had my expectations in the wrong place. I think I may have given some bad advice to another participant based on my past experience, which I do feel pretty badly about. (Sorry, person who will never read this blog.)

Pretty happy with my run though. I didn't even feel like I was hurting in the run to get that pace. Guess my mileage and speed work is starting to pay off. 40 seconds faster than my last 10K mile pace, and faster than any pace, even before Rory. The question occurs to me now, am I a runner or a swimmer? Maybe I'm a triathlete, who has to figure out how much work to put into each sport? Even saying I'm a triathlete first, and swimmer second is something I would not have said in the past, but that might even be true.

True to my roots though, I did not wear a wetsuit for this swim. I was put in the "Aquathlon Wetsuit" division, but that's because there wasn't a non-Wetsuit Aquathlon division. It's a little ironic that I insisted that part of my reasoning is that real open water swimmers don't wear wetsuits, when my poor navigation makes me think I'm not much of an open water swimmer. OK, maybe I'm just tired and not able to get into the ocean as much as I'd like.

One more funny thing. I was tempted into buying a pair of shorts for this swim at Sports Basement last night. 20% off coupon and vanity made me want some cute ones I could wear under my swim skin. (Not too skimpy or anything, but tight enough to wear under my Farmer John swim skin, and without the padding in my tri and bike shorts.) But I did the entire run with a Fu Manchu mustache obtained from debris in the ocean. Why did I get one? How come no one else I saw did? People were staring at me, and the person who put my medal on laughed at me. Only after Raybon pointed it out to me after the swim did I even know about it. So despite spilling $30 on a pair of shorts to look less like a dork, I looked like a total freak. Bwa ha ha.

I gotta say that even better than running faster was walking around San Francisco on Fisherman's Wharf afterward and realizing where I'm at in my life compared to last time I was there in 2006 when I did my last Alcatraz. I'm happy. I really like my life. I love being a mom. I am left pondering what I did wrong in the swim, but a bad race doesn't get me down like it once did.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Magic Mile

I was wondering if I could predict how fast I should run a 10K based on how fast I ran an all out mile. I googled it and learned about Jeff Galloways' magic mile.

Here is a link to the calculator:

It calculates my times for various distances:

5K pace (5K time): 7:41 (23:50)
10K pace (10K time): 8:13 (50:54)
Half Marathon Pace (Half Marathon time): 8:34 (1:52:13)
Marathon Pace(Marathon time): 9:17 (4:03:08)
Marathon Training Pace (Marathon training time): 11:17 (4:55:32)

My 10K's haven't been anywhere nearly that fast. I've either gotten a lot faster in the last 2 months since I ran a 10K, I've been running too slow, or I'm just a much better miler than a 10K runner. The race I'm running this weekend, the Alcatraz Challenge, isn't really a good test, because it is hilly and not on a closed course, with lots of pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge.

And the Winner Is...

Raybon, with a time of 6:34.73. Splits: 1:23.85, 1:40.05, 1:49.70, 1:41.13

We each raced a mile on the SLV track. I went first, while he watched Rory, then he ran while I watched Rory.

My time was 7:08.3. Raybon didn't record my splits. Don't like to go negative on this blog, but ARGH. He called them out to me, but he called out my overall time on each lap, not the split for the lap. So here is what I remember, but my math is a little bit suspect: 1:45, 1:49, 1:51, 1:43. Pretty confident those are about right.

I'm pretty happy with my pacing. I'm reading a book called "The Runner's Body" and it says that though even pacing is an ideal many strive for, the fastest runners do sort of what I did. The example they give is for 10K and 5K runners, but maybe it works for a mile, too. Their first 1K is their second fastest, they get progressively slower, until their last 1K, which ends up being their fastest.

So Raybon wins. But I am happy that my mile time was at least close to my 1 mile P.R. from when I was 13 (7 minutes, and I think about 2 seconds.) Wish I beat it, but at least it is close.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wharf to Wharf Challenge Update

It turns out that strollers are not allowed in the Wharf to Wharf. While I have heard from people that if you stay in the back, there isn't a problem, staying in the back pushing a stroller doesn't sound like my kind of fun. When I think about it, pushing a stroller in a race with 15,000 people wouldn't have worked anyways.

So, I'm letting Raybon do the race, while I watch Rory and chauffeur him to the start and from the finish. I'm racing this weekend anyways in the Alcatraz Challenge 1.5 mile swim and 7 mile run. The Wharf to Wharf is Raybon's favorite race, so I don't want to take that away from him, since he's been training for it.

But this in no way means that we aren't going to do our 1 mile race. We're doing it tomorrow. The stakes have just changed. The winner now gets $75.00 to spend on whatever they want. ($75.00 just happens to be the amount you have to buy from to get free shipping. I need a new suit really badly.)

So who do you think will win? Raybon isn't the least bit worried.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rory's Rose

There is a rosebush in my parent's garden that never bloomed until after Rory was born. My mom sent me a picture of this rose, the first bloom of the year, nearly a year later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wharf to Wharf Challenge Update

Raybon, Rory, and I headed down to Flip Flop Sunday to do some races.  



First race in 3 years.  Training off and on, kinda just hitting the road when he feels up to it, which isn't tons.  Since it was Mother's Day, he offered to push the jogging stroller, even though I offered to do it, figuring I race all the time, and he doesn't.  He ran the 5K.


Ran the 10K.  Been training pretty consistently since January.  The last couple 10K's I ran, I bonked.  I was pretty bummed with a 1:02:37 in my race last month, given I'd been running more than any time in my life.  Just shows to go ya, what they say about junk miles is true.  Decided to throw in a little speed work, and promise myself that I would go easier in the first half of the race than I felt like.

Race Experience


He said he had a good race.  He started in the back of the pack, took it slow the first mile, and then picked it up.  His test for having a good race is feeling like you have to throw up at the end, which he did feel like.  A few people said they hated getting passed by people with jogging strollers.


I had a good race, too, I think.  I did an easy 10 minute mile the first mile, then went a little harder the farther along I went in the race. I didn't get sick or bonk (yay!), but my legs started to burn the last half mile or so.  I think I did about 8:47 my last mile, but I'm not sure.  My heart rate monitor doesn't do splits, and I'm not good at math when my H.R. is at race pace. A girl I passed at mile 4 held onto me, and we pushed each other along.


Raybon:28:38.1, or 9:14 miles
Nori:  58:49.9, or 9:29 miles
Who won?  Ok, we weren't racing each other, so that's not really a good question. He ran faster, I ran longer.  Who will win the Wharf to Wharf Challenge?  The jury is still out.  Raybon thinks he has it in the bag still, but maybe his confidence will be his downfall.

I had a post-Rory P.R., but I haven't gotten much faster since February (59:57 for a 10K), even though I've increased my distance and thrown in a little speed work. Hopefully more speed work will get me back to my pre-Rory shape. I can't decided whether the 10 minute mile for mile 1 was good pacing or not.