Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phone Calls

So first I would like to talk about the fact that a few hours after I posted that last blog, my mother called me and the first thing that came out of her mouth was "Suck it up!" Man do I know her!

The next story I have is a funny one, but unfortunately it is at someone else's expense. I don't normally like to do that, but this situation was too perfect to pass up. Luckily, I have no idea who this person was since she never gave me her name, so I couldn't reveal her identity if i wanted to (which I don't). Here goes:

The other day I was working at my bike shop, minding my business, getting stuff done when the phone rings, which I answer. The following conversation:

Me: Thank you for calling (name of bike shop), this is Jo. How can I help you?
Lady on Phone: Hi. Do you carry any Kryptonite Locks?
Me: Oh, I'm not sure if we have that brand, let me go check!
(I know we don't but I run back to the lock section anyway)
Me: Are you looking for a U lock?
Lady on Phone: I am looking for a lock made of Kryptonite.
(At this I pause. She sounds so sincere and sure of herself, that I actually have to question my first instinct. Wait, does Kryptonite exist? Am I crazy for thinking it's not real? Should I tell her that I don't think there is such a thing? I don't want to tell her it's a fictional element and be wrong!)
Me: (suppressing surprised/confused/amused noises) Well Ma'am, we carry OnGuard locks and they're made of stainless steal
Lady on Phone: Oh I've heard of that brand, it's not good enough. I want one made of Kryptonite. Thanks.

And she hangs up. I hang up. I sit there for a second. Then I bust out laughing realizing how ridiculous that entire conversation was. Later as I retell this story to my co-workers and then even later to my friends, they have several suggestions for what I could have said when she asked for a lock made of Kryptonite, including:

"Oh, has Superman been stealing bikes in your neighborhood too?"


"I'm sorry, we don't carry any, but you should give Lex Luther a call. I think they stock them."


"Oh, production on the planet Krypton has been extremely backed up recently, we won't have any in stock for several weeks."

or even

"I think that Kryptonite brand locks are made of stainless steel, ma'am."

Every time I remember the conversation I laugh so hard I get tears in my eyes. That poor woman. I am so sorry that I am laughing at your expense. I hope that you were just having an off day or hadn't had enough coffee. Or that maybe you were playing a trick on me, in which case you should take up acting because you were extremely convincing....oh man...

ANYWAY! This is supposed to be a training blog, isn't it. Training, right. This week has gone pretty well. I have pain in my hip sometimes after work outs and every once and a while when I am walking around, but so far (knock on wood) nothing that has stopped me from completing a run. If this level of pain is as bad as it gets and I am not doing myself further harm (which the docs say I am not) than I can totally take this. I am just worried that the other shoe will drop.

I've done well in my two-a-days and some of my workouts this week felt really darn good. My running is still slow, but I am keeping my pace down on purpose, with striders or intervals to get a little speed work in without hurting myself. I am even substitute aquajogging for one of my easy runs each week. Yay for the dorky pool belt!

Had an endurance swim and a long run today, back to back. Long bike ride tomorrow with one of my co-workers from the bike shop. I'm excited because he knows more routes than I do, and I feel more comfortable knowing i have someone with me if I have a problem and we need to get back. If I ride 40+ miles by myself, I don't know what I would do if I had a mechanical issue or more flats than I had tubes for... Do have my RoadID though, always!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spandex, Yankz and a Chain Mark

Nothing says "Brick Workout" quite like the site of those three things on the athlete running down the side of the road in the park. And that's exactly what I had yesterday morning after stuffing my bike quickly into the boot of my Honda Fit, swapping my shoes and donning a cap in lieu of my helmet. This has been a recovery week, so my brick wasn't particularly long or arduous, but I was still happy with how good it felt.

Of course my hip is now acting up again. I was at the doctor a few days ago and made the decision not to get it injected. He told me that I would have to go easy on the workouts for a week (ack!) or risk long weakening my soft/connective tissue around the area (double ack!). I know me and I know that once I got the injection, I would have a lot of trouble NOT taking the risk of working out. I mean c'mon, a whole week? Right in the middle of my training? Except now my hip hurts more, and I am debating a change of heart. It's a tough choice. On the one hand, it would be better to take that week off now rather than closer to the race. On the other, I could get it right before a recovery week and just go easy on it. But how do I know that the recovery workouts won't still be more than I should be doing? And on some hand (lost track), what if it doesn't even fix the problem? Then I am risking weakened tissues on top of continuing to have this pain...

I am sure that my mother is reading this now and telling me to suck it up. Only she still hasn't figured out how to comment, so she's just saying it to herself and the dog lying at her feet. Nah-nah-nee boo boo!

Anyway, this is the decision I face. Do the best I can and hope the pain stays reasonable till after the race, or get the injection and take a week "off". ORRR wait and see if I can manage the pain and then decide whether or not to get an injection, while hoping that by then it isn't too late...

This post isn't really about Spandex, Yankz and a chain mark, is it?

In other news, the rain came this afternoon and I have hope that the unbelievable heat wave we have been experiencing has broken at least enough to make it less dangerous to train outdoors. 80 degrees at 5 am was not pretty, lemme tell you. Neither was leading a group ride of testosterone fueled crazies who wanted to hammer up the hills and race eachother when it was 105 with some astronomical heat index.

So things are looking up!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Warning: This post may contain TMI. Read at your own discretion. We triathletes are chronic over-sharers in my experience, so I'm not really worried that you won't read on.

Something new happened to me this week. I have frequently heard or read about people struggling in or dropping out of races with "GI distress", but I never really understood exactly what kind of distress they had run into or how it had happened. It had never happened to me, and I guess I am always relatively smart about how/when I eat in relationship to my workouts. Well I should say "have always been relatively smart". And after the experience I had the other evening, I plan to be very smart in the future. On Wednesday I came home and needed to go for my second workout, which was a run. It was very very hot outside and the AC at my work hasn't really been working well recently, so I wasn't looking forward to the heat. This factor, combined with the fact that the two people currently living in my house (who depend on me for dinner preparation) were whining about being hungry, influenced my decision to push back my run to later in the evening and start on dinner. I cooked my chicken with tomatoes and capers (see recipe from a few months ago) and it was delicious. So I ate it.

Now, I knew this was a bad idea. I just thought that I could wait a little while before I ran and I would be fine. Oh how naive I was. I started my run (in the still oppressive heat, I might add) feeling alright and not over-full. I got through my warm up and about half of my interval training when...BOOM BANG YUCK GAG!!! My stomach was suddenly angrier at me than I can remember it being in a very long time. I thought I would puke. Then I thought maybe I needed to run home to use the bathroom. Then I simply couldn't run any longer. I was literally bent over in pain. Once I could get vertical again, I had to power-walk the rest of the way home and lock myself in the bathroom when I finally got there.

Never again I tell you. Next time I will make the dinner, put my portion on the fridge, have a banana, and run. Chicken=post run meal. NOT pre-run. Duh Jo.

Also, it is 105 today with humidity off the charts. Heat? Fine. Humidity like this? Insane. Today I am supposed to run, but I honestly haven't decided how I will accomplish this...

If I run at 5 am tomorrow, it will be 80 degrees. That is the LOW for the entire evening. Dang.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Ocean

This past weekend, my wife and I went down to the beach. This is a bit of a hike for us, especially for just a weekend, but we always have an awesome time and we stay at my family beach house. This of course makes for excellent training opportunities. First there is the very long, flat stretch of highway with excellent bike lanes. But second there is, of course, the OCEAN! Yay! I didn't take my bike to the beach this weekend, cause I rode right before we left and had a ride planned for Monday after. BUT I did bring my wetsuit.

I love love love swimming in the ocean. And in my wetsuit. I feel very fast, and it's just a great confidence builder. This time my wife and our friend Becky walked along the beach as I swam, which ended up being extremely helpful for me. I used them to gauge how far from the shore I was every time I took a breath to the shore side. Using the houses/buildings is never a good way to tell because they are all different heights, but as long as my two walkers were approximately the same height as the last time I checked, I knew I hadn't swum out to sea. Highly recommend this technique if you have any willing helpers.

I got in my longest run since the last tri, and my hip held out through it, but it was sore after and is still sore today. I broke down and made another Drs appt to get it looked at again.

Another thing I broke down and did? Bought a trainer for my bike. I know, I know, it's summer, not winter, so it seems like the wrong season, but honestly with the heat waves we have been getting, it kind of necessary. Some days, especially if I have a double and don't want to be totally wiped for my second workout, training indoors is necessary. I just sat down and put it together tonight, so I am gonna use it for my ride tomorrow morning! I'm pretty excited!

Speaking of rides (wow this is a stream of consciousness post), yesterday I went out for a ride with two of my fellow bike shop grunts. It was really fun and awesome, and for them (they are serious cyclists) probably relaxing. I got a good workout though! It was very hot and humid, but we made the best of it. Thanks Dave and Amanda!!

I realize that I haven't posted a recipe in a while. I have a few good ones left, but I have definitely been in a bit of a cooking rut recently. I better get back into making some new dinners so I can give you some recipes! This is my new mission. More soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Ok, so the other day when I was out on a group ride with a mechanic from my shop (who is a serious character, I'll have to tell his incredible story sometime...) and he explained something to me about claiming your personal space on a ride. He said that if you hug the side of the road, the rider next to you will hug you, but if you give yourself the space you want from the edge, the person next to you will give you more space, instinctively. As I tried what he told me, it was immediately apparent that he was right.

Fast forward to today, as I am tootling along on my bike at rush hour in the park near my apartment. As usual, I try to give cars room to get by, so I hug the lines at the side of the road. More than once, though, cars buzz by me WAY WAY closer than is polite or safe or comfortable. Suddenly, my friend's words come floating back to me (possible screaming at me along the side of one of these nasty, speedy cars). I decide that it's time to stop being nice and trying to give cars room. Screw them. They need to give me room. So I start to take up more space in the road. I give myself the space I want. And guess what! Every car that passes me after that, gives me enough room! It was crazy! Now of course it's entirely possible that I had already been passed by all the a**holes out for the evening, but it's also possible that I have discovered the secret to getting more respect from angry, rush hour motorists.

Anyway, that is what I learned today at my second workout session. At my first session, I learned I that I am currently fit enough to swim 1800 meters without stopping. Not really a surprise, but still good to know. :)

Another Double!

About to head out for the first of my two workouts today. Right now there is a lot going on in the world of sports. Of course there is the incredible Tour de France, and there has been serious carnage on the race course this year. And there is the women's world cup soccer, in which the U.S. team has been making serious waves.

This lil' clip by Nike interviews goalie Hope Solo and her teammates about her recovery and return from serious injury. Very inspiring:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Flats and Bricks

Another few days of training under my belt on this new half-distance program, and for the most part I am seeming to handle the increase in intensity pretty well. I haven't been following the running portion of the plan exactly because I know that I will need to ease into running more slowly than the plan allows because of my injury history. The biking and swimming, however, have been manageable, so I am pretty excited about that.

I've also started two-a-days on this program, and my first real one didn't exactly go as planned. The problem wasn't so much a fitness issue, but was really an equipment issue. I did a run on Thursday morning before work, and then a group ride with the bike shop in the evening. Unfortunately on the ride I ran over something, probably glass, that shredded my tire and got a flat. And then another. So the ride took longer than anticipated and I had to take it easy on my last tube, because there was still a huge gash in my tire and I didn't have anything left to change another flat... But it was good practice to be out there changing flats on the fly!

Today I got in a really good brick workout in my local park. I actually might have enjoyed it a little bit...I know that might mean I'm crazy...

Anyway, I am trying really hard to keep my legs, and particularly my hip, pain free. This means I am spending a lot of time with that dreaded, yet heaven sent, foam roller.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finally! The race report!!

I've got one eye on the Tour de France this morning as I write this post. That, combined with the fact that it has been two weeks since the race, may mean that this won't be the greatest race report I've ever written, but here it goes anyway!!

A little back-story, in case you need a refresher: I came into this race without much behind my run training. I have been battling this hip pain for almost this entire season so far. Before the race I hadn't run more than 2.5 miles. I tried to keep my run together using the elliptical, which worked well for me in my sprint earlier in the spring. I decided to give my swim and bike the best go I could, and then to see what I could do in the run. I was prepared to forgive myself if my run was sub par.

The next thing I have to add is that I was pretty disappointed with a few aspects of this tri. The first of this was the parking and transportation. I had trouble finding parking for the expo, and so the morning of the race I arrived at the shuttle pick up very very early. This gave me much more time in transition than I needed, and I had to kill a lot of time between setting up my transition area and my swim start. The transition area was the largest I have ever seen. Rows and rows and rows of bikes, and a long run to get all the way through. I prepared well for my race though, in terms of gear prep. The only thing I forgot (I mean, you have to forget something, right?) was bodyglide.

Unfortunately killing time before the start did not include getting in the water to warm up. As far as I could tell, that wasn't allowed. There were 3700 participants lined up to enter the water off a tiny tiny dock. The swim start was done in stages, time-trial style. The girls in my corral didn't seem to understand how that worked, so I ended up at the very front of my corral, while my fellow racers were all bunched up in the street looking confused. The start of the race was slow. My wave didn't start until almost 30 minutes after the first. I did really like jumping in off the dock with only 8 other girls, though. And I was surprised when I got in! It was downright pleasant! The water was relatively clear, the temperature was perfect, and the course was pretty neat. We swam under a bridge, turned around, and swam back through a different part of the bridge. I did find myself getting relatively off course, however. I was very wide around the buoy and probably added a few hundred meters weaving around in the river. I think my swim time wasn't half bad, considering that. I also grabbed the tushes of several of the men I passed from the waves before mine. Sorry gents! I bet you didn't really mind...

The swim exit was crowded and the video footage taken by the photography company shows me shoving a man out of my way on the ramp up. Oops! I remember it being much more polite than it looks on the movie. I think I said something to him, cause he didn't look miffed. Anyway, I ran (and ran and ran and ran) into transition, all the way to row 24 where my bike was racked (out of more than 50 maybe?). My first transition was slow. I still need to practice wetsuit removal, and I'd really like to be able to start with my shoes already clipped to my bike. We'll have to work on that.

The bike course was a single loop that the international distance participants rode two times. It was a very interesting course, with several hairpin turns. The technicality of the course wouldn't have bothered me too much if it wasn't so flipping crowded. Being a relatively quick swimmer in the first wave of women, I started the bike amongst the bulk of the men. It was a cluster****. Seriously, passing people while getting passed by someone on a super aerobike with disc wheels (that sounds like a flippin' car coming up) was the constant state. I was yelling "on your left" while hearing "on your left" for the entire first loop. And avoiding drafting? Impossible. I have no idea if they gave anyone penalties on the course, because there was no point in which any cyclist was far enough away from the person in front of them. It was total insanity, and on the second loop it only got worse. Just as we passed by the transition, the sprint distance participants were entering the bike course. The fast ones begin zipping by again, while the slow ones on their cruisers and huge mountain bikes are weaving out in front of me. Ahhh.

Needless to say I was thrilled with a 19mph average on the course, given the amount of braking I was forced to do to not kill or be killed. Later I heard the race director say that the scenery is unsurpassed in this race and that should make up for the congestion problem. Scenery doesn't replace safety. I never had a chance to look around cause I was constantly navigating a crazy group of cyclists who are used to racing without drafting and have no idea how to ride in a group...

Ok sorry for that rant. Anyway, I left the bike course (thankfully in one piece) and ran (and ran and ran) through transition to my rack again. Second transition was still slower than I would like (always room for improvement, right?) but much better than the first. Then I headed out for the run, filled with questions about what I had left in my legs and what my hip would do over 6 miles. I went out pretty slowly, knowing I had to be careful. As I ticked off the miles I felt relatively good. It was tough, but my hip was holding up. It started to drizzle just as I started the run, which was a blessing in terms of the heat. With a mile left, the course looped back towards the finish and the fans were all there. We could see the finish line and I started to feel really good. But then I realized I still had a mile to go, and the course took us out on this ridiculous, never-ending clover. Ugh. That last mile was torture. I was very very slow. By the time we actually got to the finish, though, I found the strength for that last kick. My run average was 9:30 something minute miles, and I although I don't know what my splits really were, I am convinced that the last mile really brought it down. It was a crawl.

I know I should have been excited just to make it through the run, but once I did I immediately wondered if I could have pushed the pace harder. This is surely the triathlete's greatest weakness. Second guessing one's performance. Well that and overplanning/overtraining. Well. We have many weaknesses I think...

Anyway! The race was complete. It went well, all things considered. But then I had to get my bike back. That meant waiting in line for almost an hour for the shuttle back to transition, then riding my bike with all of my gear on my back, all the way to where I parked. I couldn't believe that this was what the race officials expected us to do. The most dangerous part of my day was riding around with all my gear on the streets of DC, totally off balance and exhausted. This was the final straw for me. I decided that I am not doing this race again next year. Maybe when they work out the kinks in a few years, with fewer participants, I will come back. But the current situation is just not my kind of race. Awesome to get the experience, but it wasn't the kind of race that I enjoy.

I finished in 2:47. This was much slower than I wanted, but I think a faster run would help significantly. Of course I would like to shave more time from my swim, bike and transitions, but I need to focus on how to keep away from injuries in my running.

Sorry for the brief report, and for the negativity. I am so used to loving every aspect of my races, and this one disappointed me. I'm super excited for my half ironman though, because I know it is a much smaller race! :)

Gotta get to the bike shop!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jumping back in!

Oh my gosh Hi! It feels like it has been forever, friends. Two weeks seems a lifetime, especially when I think about how much food and drink I had in that time, and how little exercise. But I have started up my training for my first half-ironman distance race! I jumped into a program around the 10 week mark, and so far haven't felt like I am too far behind in fitness. I guess the little running I did abroad (and the LOT LOT LOT of walking!) kept me in good enough shape to get back into the swing of things relatively easily. Swimming this morning was a bit tough (drills, and speed work?!? ack!) but I got through and I am excited to see where this new level of training can take me!

Things are still a bit hectic post-travel, as it my sleep schedule, but I am getting everything under control. I am about to download some race photos from the Washington DC Triathlon, and will accompany them with a race report, hopefully tomorrow morning? Maybe?

I do have to say though, despite being relatively happy with my own performance, I don't think I will do DC Triathlon again. It was a very crowded course, especially on the bike, and I was unhappy with the parking/transportation situation. More on that to come. I am sorry to have to make that call, but then again, it will save me a bunch of money to do a smaller race next year instead anyway... :)

More soon!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hello from Berlin!

My post race recovery has so far involved a week of wine and cheese (in France) and a week of beer and brats (in Germany). I feel fat and happy, and tomorrow I return to the states and will once again begin training (and blogging). My first half iron distance race is in September!! Eeee!!

Anyway, when I return I will give a full race report from the DC triathlon. But for now, I'm off to have my last, Berliner meal!