Monday, July 31, 2006

Kanuga Bike Routes

I studied state bicycle maps for Transylvania County to find a longer route from Kanuga, which I did yesterday. I turned off Crab Creek Road on Dupont Road down to 276, then Island Ford Road to Brevard, then back on Old Hendersonville to Everett to Talley Road and back to Kanuga by the Apple Festival Challenge route. I went out with lot less information than I had for my usual routes, which are from the Apple Festival rides. I headed out Dupont Road which becomes Staton Rd, and it was up one 1.5 mile hill after another (with some downhill in between). And it was right after lunch and hot. I almost took a short way back, which probably would have been even more mountainous. After I decided not to turn the short way I stopped at a small store and asked, and I was told the rest of the way to Brevard was flat or downhill. And it was. I stopped in Brevard and had a milkshake at the soda fountain. I filled up one water bottle there, should have filled up both. But it did get cooler and the stretch along the river was particularly pretty. The whole thing was almost 49 miles in just under 4 hours.

I'm very happy to be on vacation at Kanuga able to swim and run and bike--last summer I had injured my shoulder and could only hike. I can now do the 660 meter (round trip) swim across the lake in 20 minutes--two years ago, before I joined the swim team, it took me over 30.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

last swim practice

Coach Jimmy gave me a superfish cap!

He gives them to kids for meeting a goal. He gave it to me as a general congratulations on how far I've come, but I was very happy today to do two 50 yards freestyle each under a minute. In fact the first one was 54.6 seconds and the second one was 56.9. We did a set of 75s--first and last 25 work on stroke count (swimming the length of the pool with relatively few strokes) and then middle 25 swim fast trying to keep the same stroke count. Then we did 4 50s fast, with several minutes of rest in between. I did one free, the fastest one, then one fly, which was 1:20something because I run out of breath after about 35 yards, another free, and then one backstroke in 1:04, which I was happy with because I thought my backstroke was really slow.

The swim team goes on vacation now for nearly a month, and I am sad to hear our coach may not be back in the fall. I wrote an email about him that said in part:
I came to this team a year and a half ago, having decided I wanted to do the Clemson triathlon. I was 49 years old and had never been on a swim team of any sort. In fact, I had hardly even swum laps in a pool--I had swim lessons as a child but they and almost all my subsequent experience were in open water. It was a very hard thing to do, to show up to a coached workout knowing that I really didn't know what I was doing, either in technique or etiquette. Jimmy has taught me and pushed me along, without ever once making me feel I didn't belong. I dreaded for almost a year when was he going to have us work on flip turns, and the first day he did I thought I would never be able to do it, but very quickly I was proud of myself that I could. This year I'm doing more and longer triathlons and very excited about the progress I have made.

I've thought a lot about a college coach (women's sailing team) who was an important reassuring figure in my life. I heard a phrase once that captured what I felt--that a good coach gives unconditional positive regard beneath the teaching and pushing. There aren't very many people who can do that, and in his quiet way Jimmy is one of them. That is a gift to me, and it must be an even more important to the kids on the team.
I'm grateful.

Monday, July 24, 2006


We've been having widely scattered thunderstorms that never got to us, so I got in the habit of ignoring clouds. But Saturday morning my three hour bike ride included almost an hour of light rain. My new Terry mesh tank was great for hot wet weather--didn't absorb water. Sunday I tried to go out on my bike in the morning but I turned around when it started raining heavily when I had gone less than a mile. I did get a good ride in in the evening. This evening it has rained hard here. The water of the lake out our window is orange with mud. We need the rain, unlike the northeast we are near drought--only 18 inches of rain so far this year, where normal is over 29 inches.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm here

I'm just busy teaching my first online course, so I don't feel like getting on the computer in my free time. I've dropped several students who didn't understand that an internet course was a real course and they were expected to work as hard as in a regular course and follow the rules. I'm working them hard. But I'm pleased by the quality of the work they are doing.

Yesterday at masters swim practice I swam 450 yards for time, as I had had to send in a time for 400 meters for a triathlon with a pool swim I am doing in August. I sent in 11 minutes then hoped that was too conservative. But yesterday I did the 450 yards in 11:26, which translates to something like 11:16 for the 400 meters (long course). The coach timed splits and my first 100 and last 50 were good, but my second 100 was a lot slower than the first. I was disappointed, but it gives me a much better idea of what to work on in pacing myself. What I won't have done before is a zigzag swim, or even have swum before in a 50 meter pool.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Race Report: Tri the Pee Dee

Short version:
Swim 700 meters: 21:06
T1: 2:16
Bike 25K 58:04 (averaged 16 mph)
T2: 1:06
Run 5K: 34:11
Overall: 1:56:42
61 out of 70 among women (and ahead of 4 men)
6 out of 7 in my age group

Long version:
Since my car was still in the shop Friday morning, my daughter and I set out in my husband's car for a drive of about 200 miles. We hit Friday afternoon traffic and I decided to take back roads and cut a corner--the back roads turned out to be very pleasant. We checked into our hotel and then visited the race site and drove part of the bike course until we realized we were running out of time for packet pickup and headed on to do that. I did at least learn of the big flaw in the bike course--one mile of dirt road at the beginning and end with a lot of loose sand. The race web site mentioned a dirt road, but said "The road will be scraped and will ride much like a concrete road; however, this section of roadway may have a few areas of sand." It was much worse than that.

I woke up a bit early, but had a fairly good night's sleep. I had a high-fat (like greek) yogurt and a whole-grain granola bar for breakfast. We got to the race course uneventfully and got set up. I rode a little bit of the bike course to check out my bike (in my Escort stationwagon I don't have to take the front wheel off, in my husband's minivan I do) and the road, which was pretty scary. I did a swim warmup--the water was warm but reasonably clear. The air temperature was 78 F at 8 am start time, according to records for a nearby town, 88 by 11 am.

The swim course was clockwise around the edge of a pond built for waterskiing. I thought I had a strong swim--felt comfortable the whole way and kept up my effort. But my time was slower (looking at watch times) than at Clemson, where I had trouble settling down into a smooth swim. Does a wetsuit make that much difference? Or did I swim faster when air and water were much cooler?

The first and last mile of the bike on the sand road were very slow and scary. Last year I wiped out on the bike and separated my shoulder in a race this time of year, and I really don't want to get injured this year. The rest of the course was good roads and almost completely flat--the race director said one hill with a vertical rise of five feet and he was exaggerating only a little. I thought I pushed it hard. I passed four or five people, including one woman in my age group, and was passed by three or four men. I was able to keep two who passed me in sight most of the way. I had forgotten my GPS, so I don't have any further information, but it sure felt fast. I drank almost my whole 22 oz. water bottle and ate my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I took two electrolyte capsules.

The run was three times around the waterskiing pond. It was pretty, but the path had some soft sand and it seemed long to do it three times. I was breathing pretty hard almost the whole time so I thought I was keeping up my speed pretty well, but it was hot. The last quarter mile I realized the woman I had passed on the bike was going to try to pass me, and I speeded up. I guess I hadn't been making an all-out effort, because I definitely did have more to give and I was able to hold her off.

Apparently I twist my body too much when I am really trying to run fast. I was happy and very spent at the finish. The sad thing is that the other woman's timing chip apparently didn't work, and her results are posted as if she didn't finish.

I'm happy with the race--while I was a little disappointed with my times, it was most exciting experience I've had of racing against someone else.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and then headed home with a stop in Columbia. The food served after the race was pasta salad and I didn't want that many carbs and didn't feel hungry, but then a couple of hours after the race I was starving and mid-afternoon too. Mid-afternoon we stopped and were lucky enough to find a good icecream place: the best icecream in this region is a chain called Marble Slab and it now has an imitator called Cold Stone. The traffic was not slow but it was heavy enough to take extra attention, and I got home very tired.

I've started a table of comparative results, an Excel file you can open here Course lengths are so unreliable I don't know how much it is worth, but I can see progress at least.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

off to a race

After driving much longer than I expected to Hartsville last year I said I didn't want to do any races that far away. But once my first Olympic distance race went well I wanted to sign up for another in the fall, and that one is associated with the end-of-the-season banquet and awards ceremony for the Palmetto State Triathlon Series. I looked up the series information, and you need to do 5 races to be eligible for series awards. Are there going to be more than 3 women in the 50 to 54 year old age group who do 5 or more races in the series? Doing 5 races did require doing one more distant one, and I picked this one. It should be fun to do a flat course. I don't know if I can beat my Clemson time--the swim is a little shorter but the bike is 15 1/2 miles instead of 11 miles.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

car trouble

I decided today to spend over $600 on repairs to my car--timing belt and water pump. That wasn't an obvious decision because the car is a 1998 Ford Escort station wagon with 150,000 miles on it. This was the first time it has quit on me on the road. My previous problems with it have been less dramatic and have been appropriate. When I replaced the battery last year I realized it had its original battery--I figured it deserved a new battery. I suppose timing belt and water pump are also things that wear out before the car.

The dealer was slow to diagnose it, so I am going to end up at least 3 full days without a car. I've been getting everywhere I need to go by bicycle (except 5:30 am swimming), and enjoying it even in this hot weather (high today was 96). I have a steep hill out of my driveway but the rest of the way to school is relatively flat. Maybe I will keep up using the bicycle more. I got a rack installed on my old mountain bike a couple of months ago and it works just right to carry my book bag. My office is only about a mile away--I haven't gotten into walking or bicycling before only because I almost always have to drop off or pick up a kid before or after I go to my office. But I could bicycle home and get my car, and it strikes me now as such an easy way to burn a few extra calories.

Monday, July 10, 2006

back from Concord

The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering went well. The only thing that freaked me out a little was that most of the sessions I attended, including the one I spoke in, were in the main hall of the Masonic Temple. We had a table and lecture set up on the floor in front of the platform, but my picture captures only some of the symbols of the platform:

My pictures came out much too dark--it isn't even worth trying to put into viewable form my picture of the banner on the other wall, which says: "Chartered June 16, 1797 by Paul Revere." There were lit stars in a blue panel on the ceiling.

My session went very well--generated a lively discussion. I started with some points from the conversation between history of technology and environmental history:
If wilderness is nature untouched by human hands then should we manage it?
The development of technology has changed our experience of wilderness.
Therefore, technology and wilderness are not simply opposites.
Our attitude towards wilderness has changed over time and Thoreau played a key role in that change.
Is Thoreau against:
--Technological progress?
--Unrestrained industrial capitalism?
--The idea that increasing civilization means conquering nature
If we follow Thoreau’s vision of a balance between wilderness and civilization in which one informs the other, where does technology fit in that?
Then I used quotes from my students to stimulate discussion. The organization is a mix of academics from a wide range of fields, high school teachers, and enthusiasts.

The Thoreau Society is very proud to have completed a project to make a DVD based on Thoreau's ideas intended to encourage high school students to reflect on their lives. There is more information at a web site called Life with Principle. We saw several chapters of it and my daughter thought it was great. It was not as historical as I had hoped--I'm not sure about using the environmental chapter in my class.

mousetrap picture

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

off to Concord

I wasn't looking forward to the 4th of July, but we had a regular swim practice (at 5:30 am!) and then I did a 6 mile run (slowly). When I got home it was 85 degrees and I was tired of the heat, but we went on a family expedition picking blueberries and it felt pleasant compared to running in the heat. I made low sugar blueberry jam using Ball Fruit Jell no-sugar-needed pectin. Actually I did use some sugar--one and a half cups for 5 cups of crushed fruit plus a cup of blueberry-apple juice. The taste is quite promising but I don't know yet if it will set.

I did some final preparation on my workshop for the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering. It is going to be a hectic trip--a full program and I also need to keep track of an online course I am teaching starting Friday and want to run and bike and get in a swim across Walden pond with the Boston Triathlon Team.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

a quiet weekend at home

I'm so glad just to be home for an entire weekend, for the first time since May 13 (and that was a race weekend, it was just that the race was here). Next weekend my daughter and I will be at the Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society and the following weekend I am doing a race a long drive away (we will stay over one night). I got in a long bike ride yesterday morning early and a run (4.25 miles at an 11:32 pace) this morning, and now I'm going to go swim in the pool because it is usually uncrowded when it first opens at 1 pm on Sundays.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

monthly totals

swim: 12 swims totaling 11 hrs. 55 min.
bike: 12 rides totaling 273 miles in 21 hours 40 min. for an average speed of 12.6 mph
run: 11 runs totaling 48 miles in 10 hrs. 36 min. for an average pace of 13:20
total: 35 workouts for the month in a time of 44 hours 11 min.

Most important was a big goal accomplished: my first international distance triathlon. I'm next signed up for a couple of sprints in July and August so I should work on speed, but it is hard in the heat.