Tuesday, January 29, 2008
After downloading cool ride maps from the Austin Cycling Association, we picked one that could evolve from 23 miles to 42...depending on how the mood struck us. Then we encountered the 25-30 mph winds and suffice it so say, the mood was somber at best.
We cut it short, hauling in 15 miles that took almost 2 hours. At one point when Mr. IronMin was behind me, he laughed, "I've never actually seen you ride sideways before. Your bike is on quite an angle." Yes, it was just that windy out there.
We can handle the wind (although it was pretty challenging), we can definitely handle the warmer weather (70 degrees), but here's a new issue we discovered in rural Texas: the unruly dog. Spoiled in Madison, we just don't have the skills or the experience to deal with the Cujos of farm country. There are farms in Madison - a lot of them - but for some reason, not that many crazy dogs.
We're dog people, through and through. Our 2 are our family. Here they are at Halloween. Someone at work asked me how far I would go if one of my animals got sick. Without hesitation I said, "Are you kidding me? I would give up a lung if it would save their life."
Neither one of us is afraid of dogs. That somewhat changes when Texas Demon Dog comes flying off his wooden porch at 50 mph, snarling/growling/barking and bearing the kind of teeth you would suspect Little Red Riding Hood got to see on her grandmother.
And here's another interesting tidbit about the rural dog. He doesn't travel alone. Where there's 1, there's 6. It seems their strategy is to send in the littlest dog first...let them see what's going on, and if it's interesting enough - alert the rest of the pack. Just when you think to yourself 'Oh, look at the cute little barking terrier...it's just a little doggie...' Out from the shadows emerge the rest of the clan, led by something dog-like akin to a stallion.
We tried multiple tactics. 1) Yelling "No!" and "Halt". Minimally effective. 2) Sprinting as fast as possible outside of the canine jurisdiction. Difficult for 2 reasons - these dogs protect a lot of land...like 100s of acres, and did I mention the wind? Speed was not an option. Finally, Mr. IronMin deployed #3 - the dog whisperer. He dismounted his bike and made direct eye contact with the villain. Then when the dog started to get confused, he made 1 step in the direction of the dog. This dominance move made the dog run back into its yard. I knew getting him that Cesar Millan book would come in handy.
This technique worked well for a medium sized dog, but we're a little hesitant to roll it out on the bigger, Rottweiler-types.
I just carried a stick with me, in case I could distract a dog with a fun game of fetch vs. chase.
If anyone has any pointers, we're glad to hear 'em!
Monday, January 28, 2008
For those with limited time, here's a topline of the report: We did it! We both had fun! We both ran well! I didn't win, but that's ok. ;) And, lemme just say...Texans have no idea what cold really is.
If you have more time to spend with me, here's the details. We got up at 4:30AM to chow a bit - bananas, coffee, water, and I had a Slim-Fast for the carbs & protein since trying to find Ensure in the city proved to be a little challenging.
After several iterations of 'what should we wear'...a game that's fun no matter when you play but especially dicey at 5AM...we chose shorts and light tops. It was 45 degrees in the morning, warming up to 68 in the afternoon...and keep in mind we have been running in single digits so we were both inclined to run in tank tops and shorts. We drove to the start and by the time we parked the car, we had 8 minutes to spare. That's ok, my pre-race routine largely consists of a porta-potty and finding the start line, so we had lots of time.
Here we are, pre-13.1 miles:
My jacket was left in the car...this was just last minute prep. I was nervous...I have no idea why. Once I started running I was fine. As we neared the start line, Mr. IronMin asked, as sweetly as he could, "So it's ok if I run ahead, right?" Uh, yes. Please do. I don't want to be stressed the whole time trying to keep up!
Before the 1/2 mile mark, he was out of sight and I settled into a nice rhythm that I later discovered was about 10 minute/miles. WHAT?! I mean, for me, that's like fast. And I felt good. Really good. Scary good.
Since I didn't have my music on board (I'm trying to teach myself to run with just the voices in my head...shouldn't be too difficult - there's a few in there to choose from), I got to listen in and occasionally share in other people's conversations. Here are some nuggets:
- "Dude, if Wendy's is open it's all over. I'm getting some bacon"
- "Mmmmm, 27 Dresses was cute, but better as a rental. Juno was better"
- "Shouldn't it be easier to run downhill? I mean, like softer, because you're going down instead of up?" (Huh?)
- "What is this?! That last hill was supposed to be the last! No one told us about this one!
- "Can you believe this cold? I had to wear a scarf last week. This is ridiculous" (unless your scarf was accompanied by a 40 lb parka, boots suitable for 14 hour ice fishing trips and a balaclava, you don't get to complain about cold)
I, of course, do not run with the elite runners, so the conversations in my part of the pack are more casual and less competitive.I found a few people to follow. The first I affectionately called "Banana Boy". He was dressed in 3 shades of yellow, had a yellow bandanna, and blond hair. I could pick him out a mile away and since he was running faster than me, it helped to keep him in my sights. I also kept an eye on "Rocky Girl". She was running like a linebacker and looked like she could throw down at any given second. I figured if I encountered any trouble on the route, she'd have my back. Cuz you know, lots of fights break out in a running race and you gotta be prepared.
I steered clear of "Stinky Guy" (pretty self explanatory) and "Tambourine Man" who must've been carrying $3 in change in his waist pack.
Spectators were great and lots of cheering kept us motivated. I do feel obliged to offer a few cheering guidelines here though...since some motivation is oh-so-not-motivating:
- "Keep going! You're almost done" We were at mile 6. That's just not nice.
- "This is the last hill! It's all downhill from here" Well, if you read the comment above, you'll see that was just a blatant lie.
- "You guys look great!" I've been guilty of this one as well. As cheering transgressions go, this one is excusable. Who doesn't want to believe they look fresh, perky, and elegant like a Kenyan at mile 11?
Mr. IronMin cranked at 1:42:41. For a self-described "non-runner" he rocked the house. I'm super proud of him. A little jealous, but mostly proud. :) He is so happy with his time too! I told him a marathon is in his future. He laughs, but I'll keep working it until it's under his skin. That's my evil, diabolical way.
A few after-race pics:
And then there were Shiner Bocks and Margaritas! And a few sore muscles.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
However, #1 and #2 are totally true. After this week, I am soooo ready for vacation. Between work, work, and a little more work, there was just a lot going on. Not anything major - just the minutia of daily life. Errands, take care of this and that, shovel snow again...the usual.
It's been really stressful and I'm ready to put it behind me. My goal for the race is to relax and take what comes. That used to be Mr. IronMin's goal as well, but lately he's been dropping lingo about pace and goal times...so I think he may have gone over to the dark side. I, however, plan to frolic among the water stations while whistling the score from the Sound of Music.
I'll give up the full details after the race...even though an interview with me will be quite sought-after when I win. Don't worry, I'll still give a shout out to my peeps.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I don't mind running in the cold, and I think snow is pretty (when I'm not shoveling it), but when I saw this:
So, 110 minutes down under today...what to do, what to do...I decided to try a movie.
I settled on "Invincible", story of Vince Papale and how he walked on the Philadelephia Eagles in 1976. Starring - you guessed it - Mark Wahlberg, aka Marky Mark (for those of you from my generation and remember the early MW days).
And we had a very nice afternoon together. Aside from the eye candy (and there's even some in the movie for those who are attracted to the female gender as well), the movie was quite inspirational. I'm not a huge football fan, but it was a great story and it kept me going the whole time. The whole time people...that's a pretty good movie.
Tomorrow I'm back in the pool, even though I'm a little ticked off at it right now. It killed my watch last night. I was willing to overlook the fact that the chlorine has turned what used to be a pretty, light blue band into some sort of greenish-yellow hideousness...but then it had to go and actually break it.
Do you see the trapped condensation inside my poor watch? It's the chlorine eating away at it. Taking every tiny, helpless data point with it.
I'll wait until it dries out and try a new battery, but in the meantime, I'm not happy. And this is supposed to be an "Ironman" watch? Hmmmmmmpppppphhhhhh.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Then I came home and ate an entire package of Mac 'n Cheese. All.by.myself, thankyouverymuch.
And I still felt a little hungry.
This was bound to happen. I've read it about from other tri-bloggers. Food consumption explosion. That's what I'm calling it. The almost animal-like desire...no, need ...to eat everything in sight. Right now.
Run test was Thursday, and I did it on the treadmill. Not my first choice, but it snowed Thursday morning/afternoon in Madison and it was cold & windy when I got out of work, so the conditions pointed me in the direction of an inside test. Disappointing, but I made the most of it. When I first ventured down into the basement I was tip-toeing all over the place getting ready because it was so cold down there...when I was done, notsomuch.
After a solid warm-up, 15 minutes all out. I punched numbers in I've never seen before when my feet were doing the running...I actually went up to a speed of 7.0mph. At least now I know the treadmill can go that fast. Oh yeah, and me too!
I was shooting for 2miles. I had to set a goal, even one I knew I probably couldn't hit, just to keep me going as hard as I possibly could. I ended at 1.68. The .68 is very important. It's almost .75, which is 1 3/4 miles. That's getting close to 2. OK, I'm rationalizing but it's my dream and I can do whatever I want with it.
With testing week behind me, I have only one thing to say - It was fun! I loved pushing myself that hard and seeing where my limits were. I loved being drenched in sweat. I loved staring at the top of the basement stairs before staggering up them like I had just won the ultimate fighting championship. I loved uploading my data and saying - Yep, I did that.
And I survived.
Bring it on, baby! Bring.it.on!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
So, back to the test. 1000 yds all out. The last time I did 1000 yds for time was in August, near the end of the 30 week triathlon swim class. I pulled a 19:49 back then and felt pretty ok about it, considering that when I started I was happy to get 1000 yds in for a total workout.
Today I managed a 20:38. My 'all out' in the 9th set of 100 felt a bit more like 'all done'. At one point I felt water-logged. Like I couldn't get a good breath when I raised my head outside of the pool and I couldn't get a good stroke inside of it. I'm sure that doesn't make sense, but it almost felt like there was too much water for me to handle. Too much water to cut through.
It felt great to make it to the end though, and not feel like I was going to fall over with exhaustion. I have lost some fitness in the past 4 1/2 months. Not surprising, but it made me want to work that much harder to at least get back to where I was. The 3x a week swim class starts up Feb. 4th, and I'm hoping to hit the ground running. Wait, that's a little hard in the pool. Hit the water swimming? That sounds weak. I'm pretty tired. I got nothin'.
It's Monday and it's time for the inspirational, motivational, sometimes perspirational quote of the week.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
This Saturday was the annual bike swap in Madison. An event among bike & bike accessory lovers akin to the annual Filene's basement bridal gown sale. The doors open at 9am, but we have heard vicious rumors of a line forming outside at 7:30. Since it's a bike swap and not say, the day after Thanksgiving sale at Best Buy, I'm a little unsure as to what happens when the doors open. Where do they run to? There is no stack of Wii consoles in the middle of the swap. No huge pile of 1/2 off tubes. How do they know where the stuff they want & need will be located? I'm sure it's absolute chaos. We decided to roll in when the madness had died down.
At any rate, attending the bike swap with Mr. IronMin is kind of a lonely affair. He would probably equate it to going clothes shopping with me. As he hunted for the best bargain on that metal thingy that connects the chain thingy to the spoke thingy that he has been desiring in carbon or titanium, I just wandered around pulling Swedish Fish from my secret stash in the front pocket of my sweatshirt, trying to soak it all in. There were lots of interesting types haggling for their treasures. It was excellent people watching material.
All in all, we did score some great cycling clothes on the cheap...Mr. IronMin got a crankset for a bargain...and then the ultimate cool thing happened. I came across a screaming deal on some new triathlon cycling shoes. This purchase eclipses all of the other non-bike shoes in my closet. These shoes are so unbelievably cool, I have years to ride before I will even be worthy of them.
Meet my brand new, never worn, Louis Garneau Carbon Tri Air shoes...
That I brought home for $50. Not $200. Not $100. No, no, no.
It's just a good thing they're not in Mr. IronMin's size. He has been eyeing them up since we got home.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I have a coach!
Oh yes, and she is awesome. You probably know her, or you probably at least know and love her blog.
My new coach is ELF!
See, over the last few weeks I came to the stark realization that sometimes I might be more of a thinker or a dreamer than a doer. This is actually a huge shock to me because as an Aries I tend to jump in with both feet, run off in a million directions, fly by the seat of my pants, and start a lot of new things.
Ah yes - start - but not necessarily finish. That's the key to this self-actualization exercise. And I really, really, really want to finish this thing called Ironman. Really, really, really.
I don't want Ironman to turn into the latch-hook of Goofy I started for my sister's Christmas present, uhhh-hemm, some 12 years ago. The same latch-hook that my husband brings up virtually every time I ask "What should I get my sister for Christmas this year?" Mr. IronMin: "You could finish that Goofy latch-hook!"
Uproarious laughter. On his end, not mine.
See specimen to the right? That is not the handiwork of IronMin. That is someone else's work, posted on the internet for me to borrow. My handiwork ends at the very top peak of Goofy's hat. And that's if you start at the top of the canvas.
Oh no, this has been posted here to remind me, and show you, one of the (dare I say, many) things I have not finished. Sorry sis. No comment needed from you Mr. IronMin.
Back to the Ironman...I kept reading and researching and reading some more. I have books, magazines, bookmarked websites. And I was getting on my bike with no real plan, or running for no real reason. I suddenly envisioned myself waking up in August and wondering where the months of training had gone. This was not a solid plan. It was a plan for disaster.
After talking with ELF, I now feel...well...completely not terrified of that happening. I feel calm for the first time in 5 months. I feel like I have a plan. And a very, very good one at that.
It's a whole new world, and I like the looks of it!
Monday, January 7, 2008
OK, that really wasn't it. But that was just too funny to pass up.
I'm short on time tonight because if I had more time I'd be short on sleep, and sleep is just too important for me to shorten tonight. I had a momentous day of getting back in the water after a 4 month break, and it felt great to be back. Somebody made the pool longer since the last time I've been in, so I wasn't happy about that though. It used to be 25yds and I'm fairly sure it is at least double that now. At least.
I also think I may have sweated in the pool tonight, which I will agree with you - sounds gross - but more importantly is it even possible?
I knocked out 2,450 yds. This is why sleep is essential.
So in the Monday tradition, with the added celebration of being back in the pool, our inspiration comes from a swimmer:
If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail
Saturday, January 5, 2008
It's a great month actually because it is so full of hope and faith anew. In the grocery store Wednesday I spotted a woman purchase 10 Lean Cuisines, fruit, and water. I felt like saying "You go girl!"