IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Wednesday, March 28, 2007



That would be my bib number for the Boston Marathon. Yesterday, I received a packet of information from the Boston Athletic Association. That packet included my "pick up" card with all the information printed on when and where to pick up my race bib. On this card, they print your name, citizenship, birthdate and qualifying time (pretty cool to see it in writing!). It seems there are two start waves for the marathon. The first wave, with blue bibs, start at 10:00am. The second wave, red bibs with numbers 11,000 and up, starts at 10:30am. I would be in the 10:30am wave...the wave for the slower runners.

I wanted to clarify something from a comment that was received. Just because I'm considering the Boston Marathon to be a "B" race for me does not mean I am nonchalant about qualifying! Nothing could be further from the truth!! I don't think my point came across properly via the blog.

See, QUALIFYING for Boston was the goal. That would mean the Tucson marathon was one of my "A" races and I trained my heart out for it. Those of you that helped me through that training know how hard I worked. But the goal never included actually running fast at the Boston Marathon. It's just something I gotta do now that I qualified. Does that make sense?

I'm still a little shocked that I made it, and lots of other people I run with are shocked, too! (I can tell by their reactions when I tell them about it). But now it's like all the hard work to "get in" is done, and it's just time to kick back and run the Boston Marathon just so I can say I did it! I'm not stressed about it nor training as hard for it as I probably should be, but I know it will be a good time. I just want to cover the distance and take in the scenery, since I may never be able to go back and do Boston again.

I'm still not feeling 100% healthy, but I should be fine well before the marathon. They say taper time is just about the time people start getting sick, and well, I guess I'm proving that little theory right now! I'm looking forward to "only" a 12 mile run this weekend. It's like I won't know what to do with the rest of my Saturday!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Looks like I'm fighting a cold now...Woke up this morning not feeling so good. My throat felt dry, my nose was a bit stuffed up and my eyelids felt heavy when I finally rolled myself out of bed after hitting snooze for the third time. This is so not a good time to be sick (is there ever really a good time to be sick??).

I went to the kitchen and chugged a glass of orange juice. I don't even like orange juice, but I do believe that the vitamin C and other good things in there help steer off minor colds.

Yesterday's run might've taken a little too much out of me. It was damp and very humid. Even though I changed shirts immediately after the run, that didn't stop my fingers from becoming numb when a bunch of us went out to lunch afterwards.

Might have to kick things down a notch for the next couple of days just to make sure I keep myself healthy. We'll see how things go. In the meantime, my germ-a-phobe personality has been Cloroxing all the door handles, lightswitches, remote controls and phones in the house! Can't help it...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Count another 20 (or make that 19!)

Today the marathon training plan called for the big 20-miler. The weather Gods were better to me than the last day I had to run 20 miles. The weather for this morning's run was very foggy, extremely humid, however, the temperature was about 57 degrees, which is quite nice! What was not so nice is that the location we chose to run wasn't exactly ideal.

For the past several days, this area has had a lot of rain. Running paths become muddy with very little precipitation. Waterfall Glen (or WFG or WTF) is a pretty popular place for runners because of the small hills and great scenery. WFG is a 9.5 mile loop of limestone path and dries up pretty quickly, even when it seems we have a lot of rain.

Earlier in the week, when I began soliciting company for this long journey, there were several comments and questions about whether or not the trail would be runnable (yes, that's a word)! We do have asphalt trails nearby, but none quite as fun to run through as WFG, so we stuck with the original plan of 2 loops.

With Mark and Tom training for St. Louis (just one day before Boston), Dennis training for an ultramarathon next month, Donna training for Grandma's in June and Pam and I training for Boston, and a bunch of other people who just like running long for the fun of it (huh??) we ended up with a pretty large training group for today's run! We even picked up Dennis V. who was planning on his first long run of the season!
(Why are we standing behind the handicapped parking mark? Was this foreshadowing the events to come??)

The air was pretty damp and the humidity made it difficult for a few of us to keep up the pace we had planned. The trail was flooded out near Turtle Pond and this caused us to jump up on some nearby railroad tracks. As BC mentioned, it was just like a scene out of Stand By Me. Only he called it "the movie where they found the dead guy." The other little snafu came between miles 8 and 9. We had to maneuver around the forest a bit and go pretty far off the trail to keep our feet dry. Some chose to run right through the large pool of water. Some chose to go through the forest and were attacked by sticker bushes which scratched up their legs pretty badly so they had to run with bloody legs the rest of the way. But, we all made it through, unharmed (well, except for the bloody legs part).

Although my hands never really did warm up for this run (I forgot gloves), I had a great time. The miles just flew by as we chatted about everything from races to training to families to current news stories to past experiences. The second loop went almost as quickly as the first. And, though two 9.5 mile loops is only 19 miles, I think I'll call it 20.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Boston is Nearing

In the last week or so, I've had a lot of people ask about Boston (the marathon) or how the training is going for Boston. We're about a month away from that race at this point, so this weekend will be the last long run in preparation for this marathon.

I haven't been running nearly as much nor as hard as I did for my last marathon and just can't seem to get really motivated about training hard for Boston. I think maybe the two marathons are too close for me - December and then April. There's really no "down time" when they're scheduled so close. Sure, I feel like I took some rest because the mileage starts off again at a long run of 6 miles to start marathon training.

But I think the main reason I'm so non-chalant about the upcoming marathon is because I am considering it a "B" race. My goal isn't to go out and crush the course nor is it to "qualify for Boston at Boston." (are you nuts??) My goal is to simply cover the 26.2 miles injury-free. Then I can move on to what excites me much more, and that is triathlon season!

So while I'm out in Boston, I plan to do some sight-seeing, try clam chowder for the first time and, oh yeah, run a marathon.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March Madness - Cary Half Marathon

One of the things the Cary Half Marathon is known for is the weather. Because the race is in the middle of March. Here in the midwest, that means you never know what to expect. It could snow, rain, be really windy, some combination of all those or it could be just plain beautiful. And the race is run, in or shine. It's like a badge of honor when you complete a race like this in brutal weather conditions so you'll hear people brag about the year they did the race when it snowed two feet and they had to run uphill both ways...with no shoes!

This year, we were fortunate to have almost ideal weather conditions. When I flipped on the television this morning, it said 33 degrees. I ran outside earlier in the week and it was 34 degrees and I froze. I decided I'd better layer up because I didn't want to be cold for 13.1 miles.

My carpool ride showed up right on time (I should have known). We made it all the way up to Cary without incident. By the time we arrived, the sun was shining and BC informed me that the weather forecasters said we'd only have wind of about 3-4 mph. Sweet! After we picked up our packets we headed back to the car where I debated on whether or not I was wearing too many clothes. Oh well, I had pockets in my running top, so I just figured I could carry what I needed to take off.

We headed on over to the start line and had already lost Randy and Donna. Even though this race isn't huge, we couldn't seem to find them amongst the field of runners. I had no time goal set for this race, I was just going to run with friends according to how I felt. It's amazing how different I feel when I don't pressure myself with any performance goals. BC, Joe, Angie and I just stood up on the curb, looking for Randy and Donna, but the gun went off and we still hadn't found them. I didn't even have my watch on the right setting, so I had to hit about 6 different buttons to get it to clear and start...this was a considerable distance after the start line. Oops.

Angie and I hadn't spoken in a while, so we had a lot to catch up on. Namely, her training trip to Solvang, my ride in Solvang, each of us have gotten new bikes, and a ton of other things that we'd normally share had we seen each other more recently. Within the first couple of miles, I realized I was definitely overdressed. I took off my much too heavy wool hat and put it in the pocket of my running top. By mile 3, it was just Angie and I running, talking, missing the mile markers and keeping a pretty good clip. The times I was able to catch the mile marker, I pegged us for about an 8:20 pace. Cary is a hilly course...8:20s is tough!

I heard Angie say she was shooting for a sub-2 hour race. Well, she was going to crush that if she kept this pace, so I told her that. Around mile 6, I learned that she hadn't been focusing on her run much and her longest run recently was 6 miles. Uh oh. This could get ugly!

The hills kept coming and it was difficult to talk during uphills. It was easy to tell when either of us was struggling because our sentences during those times were pretty broken. We chatted back and forth, passing people we knew, being passed by other people we knew and, just in general, having a pretty good run. I started catching our splits and we were still keeping the 8:20-8:30 pace. I couldn't believe I was keeping up. (I've been slacking in my running pace lately).

Not sure when it happened, but things started getting tough and I could hear the doubt creeping into Angie's voice as we talked. But I knew she could keep the pace...she wasn't breathing THAT hard (not like one of the dudes we passed...thought he was having a grabber!). We were into mile 12 and I told her that we were much closer to 1:50 than 2:00! Excellent!! We turned one of the last corners and she asked how much time we had left...about 3 minutes. And she turned it on. Yep, Ang still had some juice left! We were both breathing pretty heavy at this point, but we were feeding on each other's energy and it made for a strong finish!

We grabbed some Gatorade and headed over to see some of our friends finish. It's amazing how quickly the 13 miles seemed to go by! Of all the years I've run this race, I think this was the best weather I've seen. Joe crossed the finish line and immediately announced that he would not be back next year! (not sure if I believe that). BC finished while flipping the bird and wishing he hadn't worn a jacket. Donna finished injury-free. Randy finished while maintaining his planned heart rate.

I wanted to get a group shot of all the Salt Creek Tri Club people, but they left before I could get to the car, get the camera and get back.

All in all, it was a great race and near-perfect conditions. I just wish I had more time to chat with all the other runners I knew there. But SOMEONE was in a hurry to get home! Until next year....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First Century of 2007

That's it, folks! My first century ride (100 miles) of 2007 is now history.

Waking up on Friday morning at 3:30am in order to finish packing, shower and get off to the airport was no problem. I was pretty excited and anxious to get out there to experience this ride. I was also a bit nervous because my past rides on hilly terrain have been challenging. Combine that with the fact that I haven't been out on a road with my bike since November and the ride feels intimidating. Since I was doing this ride with Camille and Bernie, two very strong riders, well, it could almost make me sick to my stomach. What I kept reminding myself was that this was just a friendly little ride with beautiful scenery and I was here to have fun!

The thing with flying with a bike is that it can present all sorts of obstacles. They want to look in the bike case, go through all your stuff (which they inevitably "mess up"), they charge you extra for the bike, it can take a lot of time and just generally has the potential to be a big pain in the rear! This was my first time flying Jet Blue - and by far the easiest experience I've had traveling with my bike!

We flew to Long Beach airport - I think they have exactly 7 gates and just 2 baggage carousels. Camille met us near the baggage claim with wet swimsuit in hand - she had come directly from the pool. Camille's workout schedule makes me look like a slacker! Bernie went to get the rental car while Camille and I chatted. I then went over to get our luggage, which, unfortunately was removed from the carousel because we left it too long (10 minutes??!?). One of the agents scolded me for leaving my luggage there too long. Yeah, yeah, can I just have my bag now? We drove off to Santa Barbara where we stayed at a Days Inn. This would make our drive to Solvang in the morning short and sweet. After a quick lunch, we put our bikes together and made sure we'd be able to fit everything in the van in the morning. We met up with Camille's friend, Pete, for dinner. The meal theme of this trip was definitely seafood. I had more fish tacos this trip than I've had in my life! We went to a place called the Endless Summer Bar-Cafe.

We were clearly not the only ones at this Days Inn going to the ride. As I sent out the door in the morning to check the temperature, there were other riders already packing their things into vehicles.It was quite chilly! It took a little over 30 minutes to get to Solvang.

There were already people taking off for the ride when we arrived. There were more cyclists than I've ever seen in one place! We took out rime picking up our registration materials and getting our gear together in hopes that it would warm up a little. I started this ride with a thin hat under my helmet, a thin Under Armor shirt under my short-sleeved jersey, arm warmers, toe covers and long-fingered gloves. In a sick sort of way, I wanted that first hill to come quickly so I could warm up. My fingers were pretty uncomfortable almost instantly. I would say that we were all uncomfortably cold for the first 8-10 miles. Then it seemed to warm up. Riding through the sunshine felt almost perfect. Then we came to the first round of hills. Within minutes, I heated up quickly and toyed with the idea of shedding some layers. But you don't want to do that too early because when you hit a shady downhill, it becomes cold in a hurry!

This ride was feeling incredible! I don't know if it was my new bike, Sylvia, the beautiful weather and scenery or just the fact that this ride sure as hell beats an indoor ride on a trainer, but I was having a fantastic time! Everything felt great on the new bike and though we were tearing up some brutal hills, I felt better than expected. At the very first SAG stop, the extra clothing layers came off.

About 20 miles into the ride, the wind came out of nowhere. And no matter which way we turned, it felt like we were riding straight into it. It was pretty draining. We caught on to the back of a pace line and let a guy with "Wild Thing" on his jersey lead us for what was much longer than any normal person would have pulled. But this guy seemed to enjoy leading us as he always slowed down when it seemed the group was dropping off the back of his wheel. We were riding at an effort that made me think we were going 20-22 mph, but I looked at my speedometer and we were doing a measley 12 mph! UGH! Well, being in a pace line was sure better than facing this wind alone, so as we turned the corner, I got out of the saddle to catch the wheel in front of me (Camille's). It wsa then that I heard a loud Pssssssssshhhhhhhhh and my speed quickly diminished. You guessed it, I had a flat. I yelled "Camille!" to get her to stop, but I didn't think she heard me. Bummer.

I changed the tube and had to fill it with a tiny frame pump. Yep, the same pump I stole off Sanford (Sure glad I did that!). I couldn't get the tire quite as full as I'd have liked to, but I figured it was enough to get me to the next SAG stop. I slowly got back on the road and pedaled furiously to catch up. I pulled into the stop and found Camille and Bernie quickly. They were already wondering what happened to me. It took me so long to get there, they thought I might've moved on without them! I went to the bike guys, borrowed a pump and filled the back tire up. I then rode over to fill my water bottles and... Pssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhh! WTF?!?!??!!!!!

Bernie figured I may have pinched the tube, so he changed this one for me. (Thanks, BC). BC and I had each only brought one extra tube, and we used both of those, so I went back to the bike guys to purchase 2 more tubes...just in case. After what seemed like forever, we moved on. We had just about 40 more miles to go. More wind, more hills, but the warm temperatures and spectacular sunshine made it hard to not enjoy the rest of this ride. I was so happy to be outside in nothing more than shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. However, it did seem that I couldn't drink enough. I was constantly thirsty for the remainder of the ride.

We were warned of the "killer" hill that lay ahead of us, I guess around mile 80. It was pretty slow going and all the cyclists seemed to be moving in slow motion. I put Sylvia into the easiest gear I had and tried to hold a comfortable rhythym to crank up this hill. I was up close behind a guy wearing a Clif jersey, but I wasn't making any ground on him, so I decided not to try and pass him. Unfortunately, this guy decided to shift gears, pausing just for an instant and my front tire hit his back tire. Immediately, I was off balance and tried to correct myself by veering quickly right. And, more bad luck for me, I hit another rider and went down. Not hard, we were only going about 5-6mph, but just enough to embarass myself and give all the other riders a good chuckle. Yeah, very funny.

We headed into the last 10 miles of this century and saw a police car up ahead with a biker down. Not good. As I tried to keep my eyes on the road, I heard a sound that resembled a bottle rocket. And, you betcha, flat #3. I had now become quite efficient at getting the back tire off and changing it, but the cop told me the reason the guy in front of me fell was because he flatted during this same turn. That made me extra cautious for the rest of the ride. My knuckles were turning white on the handle bars! With 3 flats already, it wouldn't have surprised me if I had a 4th and I didn't want to be speeding into a turn if that happened.

Luckily for me, the last few miles were uneventful. They actually had a big banner with a "finish line" for the cyclists to cross. There, they handed out goody bags and herded everyone into this big courtyard-like area where there was a big barbecue going on. I couldn't believe how quickly the day went, flats and crashing included! It was a great ride that I hope to be able to do again in the future!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Off We Go To California!

I meant to take a picture of the new road bike to show you all, but haven't had time. I picked her up (her name is Sylvia) last week and things have been rather crazy!

The first thing I needed to do was put some pedals on her. Sure, changing pedals is easy, you say. Well, I have had a bad experience in pedal-changing that involved stripping a crank and going on a wild goose chase that lasted several months to find a replacement crank to make that bike usable. Therefore, I was extra-special careful when removing the pedals from my old Trek (from here on out known as in Sanford and Son because the bike is a piece of junk). It actually went a lot smoother than I expected.

Secondly, Sylvia (the new bike) came with a 12-23 cassette. No, I'm not a gear head, but these are things you learn about very quickly when it comes to riding hilly courses. Because Sylvia does not have a triple chain ring in the front, nor do I want to get one, I needed to get a 12-27 cassette for this weekend's ride. In case you didn't know, Solvang is hilly. Like, we here in Illinois have no idea what hills are compared to what they have in California. You people who have ridden the Ironman Wisconsin course and think it's hilly have no idea what hilly is compared to the hills in Solvang. If you've done Horribly Hilly...well, you're close.

SO - that means a 12-27 is essential if I want to be riding the century vs. walking my bike for a majority of the ride. I don't claim to have any sort of bike mechanic knowledge, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. My buddy, CJB (also known as JQ) said he had a 12-27 he'd let me borrow for the ride. Sweet, I didn't have to scramble to find one. I drive over to his house only to find that, no, he DOES NOT have a 12-27, he has a 12-25. Well, I don't need that...a)I MUST have a 12-27 and b)Gus has a 12-25, and I could've just used that if I wanted to go that route. (Gus is my triathlon also known as a TT bike). More importantly, while I'm at JQ's bike shop (a.k.a. garage), he gives me a quick lesson in changing a cassette.

Mind you, this all happens in less than a week and I DO have a full-time job, ya know! I locate a local bike shop that has the cassette and get ready to do the dirty work. You get to use this fancy-looking tool with a chain hanging from it for this job. And, although I was given a very nice bike tool box for my birthday last year, it does not have the right size wrench for this task. I tear up every junk drawer in the kitchen and box in the garage for a wrench and come up empty. (Note to self: Husband is not allowed to TOUCH my tools!) I got so frustrated, I had to walk away and go start some laundry. After I calmed down, I went back on my hunt for a wrench. Found one, not exactly what I was looking for, but I figured it was good enough for the job.

I take my time, and in less than 10 minutes, the new cassette is installed. You've got to be kidding, that was quite easy! It was much harder to find a wrench than it was to change the stupid thing. I run to the garage, put the wheel on the bike and shift it up and down to make sure I did it right. Yep, it works. Well, you can't really do this incorrectly...almost idiot-proof.

Last piece my new baby needed was bottle cages. It came without any. For a century ride in the 80 degree weather we're expecting, I wanted two. Got them from the same bike shop I got the cassette and another 10 minutes goes by while I install those. Oh yeah, compact pump gets attached when you put on the cages...stole that off Sanford, too. Not like he'll be needing it anymore. He's headed for retirement!

After all the finishing touches, it's just a matter of taking the bike apart to put it in the bike box for the flight to CA. I've decided that I'm out of practice in the art of disassembling the bike. Again, not difficult, but there are all these cool little tricks that I've been taught (mostly by BC) that just make your life a little easier when you get the bike to its destination and have to put it together again.

I plan on bringing the camera to CA for the trip and hope to get a few good pictures I can share with you. I, in no way, feel prepared to ride 100 miles in the hills of California at this time of year (heck, I don't think I'd feel prepared at ANY time of year!), but I do plan to have some fun while I enjoy the good weather, beautiful scenery and wonderful company.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

First of 3

Saturdays have been reserved for my "long run" for as long as I've started doing long runs! Yesterday, I needed to get in one of my longest runs in preparation for the Boston Marathon: the big 20-miler. According to the schedule, this is just the first of three 20-milers on my training schedule. Now, most people think 20 miles is just an absurd amount of miles to run. But yesterday, it wasn't the mileage that I was dreading. It was the weather.

It can be quite challenging to get in long runs outside during these months when you live in Chicago. We still have snow accumulation on all the regular running paths. This snow has been trampled, melted and then frozen back into a severly uneven surface making it unsafe to run on. It's these times that we die-hard runners take to the streets. The streets were clean for yesterday's run, however, the longer the run, the more traffic there is to face. Most drivers do not like sharing the roads with the runners and they're all too happy to let you know it!

I fell asleep on Friday night before catching the morning's weather forecast, so I flipped on the television when I woke up. 22 degrees. Yeah, uh huh, what about that piercing windchill? So I stepped out on my balcony and quickly jumped back into the house and slammed the door. Yep, definitely a windchill factor! A further look at the news showed the windchill was about 12 degrees. This can make a big difference in how to dress properly for a run.

I rustled through the closet to find all the much-needed set of hand warmers and all the necessary layers then proceeded to the kitchen to fill up bottles for my fuel belt. This poses another problem. It's difficult to get to your drinks because of all the extra clothes. Additionally, I need to wear two pairs of gloves (with hand warmers tucked nicely inside!) to keep my fingers from freezing off, thus making it difficult to handle the bottles during the run. How DO I manage?

Next problem is that NO ONE wants to run 20 miles in this weather. I have some pretty crazy, gung-ho, die hard endurance athlete friends, yet they all seem to turn into wimps when it comes to keeping me company on such a long run (well, BC, you are excused since you ran the 17 with me last week!). Now I know that if I can't get some other sucker to come out and run with me the entire time, I won't get the required mileage in. Sure, I'll tell myself I'll "finish up" on a treadmill later in the afternoon. But that never happens.

What is my solution? Shifts. I need an early morning shift...someone to start with me at 6:30am. This is BC. This is because he can't stand to sleep in a little if he knows someone is out there running. He needs to join in. Cool, he's great company. Then we swing back for shift #2. These people refuse to get up early enough to meet us for the 6:30 start, so they show up at 7am. This group runs a regular loop (of which I STILL can't figure out myself) of around 8 miles. After 8 miles in 12 degree windchill, these people are all too happy to jump in their cars and wish me luck for the second half of my run.

Enter shift #3...Joe M. Now, Joe cherishes his sleep-in days. Do not ask him to get up early to run. If you do this, be prepared to be showered with a bunch of f-bombs and be told how crazy and ridiculous your idea is. And like perfect clockwork, shift #2 ended at 8:30am...exactly the time I told Joe to meet me. However, for the last 4 miles, I was silently hoping that Joe looked at the weather for that morning and decided to bag the run. I was cold and another 10 miles in the brutal wind was not something I was looking forward to. I started toward my car to check my cell phone praying to find a voice mail from Joe telling me he had opted for the treadmill that day.

I was just about 4 feet from my car when a happy little tap-tap of someone's horn caught my attention. DAMMIT! It was Joe! Jeez, there was no way I could get out of this run now! Alright, fine. I knew that if I didn't do this now, I wouldn't do it at all. And that certainly wouldn't be good for an upcoming marathon! We now had just 9 miles left and, though I didn't know a route that would get us that mileage, we just took off and made up the route as we went along.

Joe and I trained for the Flying Pig Marathon together a few years ago. I remember some pretty crappy runs in the DARK and at least on this day, we had daylight in our favor! The miles went quickly as we chatted about everything under the sun. I almost didn't believe we were going to be finished so quickly...but knowing what pace we run on average and the time it took us to do the additional miles, it seemed to work out.

Thanks to all the "shift" runners for helping me complete this 20 miler in such tough running conditions. I'm sure you'll all let me know when I can return the favor!