Tuesday, September 19, 2006

swimming today

I felt draggy and discouraged at swimming today. But there was a funny moment in the locker room. One person told a story about a friend whose mother was athletic, and a graduate student who joined the team at the beginning of the summer said when she is 50 she just wants to be able to walk (for exercise). I said I'm 51. She said "When I grow up I want to be Pam."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Race Report: Hartsville YMCA

short version
1500 meter swim: 49:53 (with a fairly long run from the beach to transition)
T1: 2:47
27 mile bike: 1:52:08
T2: 1:52
10 k run: 1:17:23
Total: 4:04:01
Last in the race (though ahead of someone who started later) but second in my age group out of two. The fast people in my age group did the sprint this time--a 52 year old woman was second overall in the sprint with a time of 1:22:55. Last year my time was 2:04:56 for the sprint, so I'm happy about doing less than twice that.

long version
My daughter and I didn't quite get to Hartsville in time for packet pickup, which ended at 4. But I'm glad we went into town, as we stopped at a bookstore and asked for restaurant recommendations and got sent to a perfect place, called Shug's Smokehouse. My barbecue feast was half a small chicken and a half rack of ribs, with broccoli and salad (and my daughter's coleslaw) for $17. I ate less than half of it--we knew our motel had a refrigerator and we had a cooler so we took it to the race the next day to supplement the chicken and rice lunch provided.

We stayed at the Econolodge in Bishopville for the third time. It was almost empty--I had made reservations at the last minute and hadn't even bothered to try the motels that were closer to the race but maybe I should have. We were happy to have a refrigerator and it was quiet this time. I got up a little before 5 and woke my daughter at 5:20 to head out for the race about 5:45. We got to the race site just a little after 6:15. I knew most of the route, but wasn't sure I could spot the last two turns. A car in front of me with a bike on it made the first turn, and so I started just following him. However, he missed the second turn--there were about 5 cars who had to turn around when we saw cars with bikes heading the other way.

It was dark when we got to the race site, but by the time I had picked up my packet it was getting light. I set up in transition and then we had a picnic breakfast--I had a combination of high fat plain Greek yogurt and flavored yogurt. It was cold so I didn't do a swim warm up and in fact kept my long sleeved shirt on even after I had left my glasses in my bike helmet (and put on my prescription goggles) and headed for the start, then gave my shirt to my daughter just a few minutes before the start. I did learn from people talking around me that this lake is always very warm because the nuclear power plant uses it for cooling.

I remembered that the water was shallow on the right side of the course so I started to the left. The water was unpleasantly warm--85 degrees--but not as black as I remembered it. I felt like I was swimming well and keeping up my effort. My main problem was with sighting--I went past the second turn buoy on the wrong side (not realizing I was that close to it) and had to turn back and I also went to the wrong side of the beach for the finish. I'm disappointed my swim time wasn't better than the international distance race I did in June as I believe I have improved my form with the new coach.

I was last out of the water so transition was quiet. The bike course was hillier than I remembered. Because it was a two loop course I got to watch the fast people go by me on their second loop. There were two water bottle handoffs but small bottles--I drank both and the 22 oz. bottle I had on my bike and ate my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At the end of the first loop I passed a couple of people, a man doing the sprint and a woman doing the international distance, and then went back and forth with a man during the second loop.

When I got off my bike my legs didn't know how to run--the first time that has happened to me.

I still felt that as I started out on the run course, but after half a mile it felt ok. By this time it was hot. I had emailed to ask if there were going to be gels at the aid stations on the run course and was told yes, but there weren't. I had only put one in my pocket, so I started drinking Cytomax instead of the water I usually drink. It actually wasn't unpleasant and seemed to work fine. I walked stretches of some of the hills, in fact I was sorry the last mile was all downhill because I didn't have any excuse to walk

I passed the man I had ridden with on the bike; he repassed me once then was mostly behind me and we talked cheerfully at the three turnarounds. The woman I had passed was behind us the whole way until the last mile, when she speeded past us. The man caught up with me the last half mile. He suggested we finish together, which I thought was a wonderful idea--that way neither of us would be last. But then he got a terrible leg cramp and was nearly hopping on one leg. He told me to go ahead and I did. I got a big cheer at the finish, as they had just started the awards ceremony.

I went straight up to the awards ceremony, as we had checked for other people in my age group the night before so I expected to get an award. I got a nice hat that says age group second place. We ate our leftover barbecue and then headed out on the long drive home. We took a different route so we could stop for good icecream. I frequented Steve's icecream in Somerville MA when I was in college and I am fussy--Marble Slab or Cold Stone are about the only icecream stores in this area I consider worth eating at (or more rarely Ben and Jerry's).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

boarding school

I'm going to write about my own experience in boarding school in 1970-71 because my son is having some similar problems and it is bringing up my old shame. All I know that helps shame is to tell the things I feel so much shame about, to stop hiding them.

I went to boarding school with no idea who I was or how to relate to other kids. When another student was unhappy with her roommate I agreed to switch--I guess she had connected with my roommate and I had not. I didn't have any difficulties with the person who was considered an undesirable roommate, but rooming with her made me more isolated. I would have been isolated anyway--I didn't know how to connect with my peers. I just tried to do what was expected of me. I messed up once--we wore uniforms and when it got cold I started wearing a long john undershirt. But I only had one or two, so I wore it more than one day. A note was placed in the drawer of my carrel at study hall saying that I smelled bad. I left a note saying "a skunk smells its own smell first" and then someone else wrote a note saying "not in this case." I had messed up and I felt so terrible about it I couldn't bear to admit it. I grew up in a family where not knowing better was never an acceptable excuse for a mistake.

I don't know if anything could have helped me at that point. In my isolation at that school I discovered a love of science, and that eventually led me to another school and to some success in the world. I have hoped that it would not be quite so hard for my son--he lacks one-on-one social skills with his peers but he has pretty good group social skills. I'm thinking the person who contacted us has overreacted to the situation, but maybe I am just in denial. The frustrating thing is that my son stuck it out with a bad roommate last year and this year his better roommate didn't give him much of a chance before arranging to move to another room.

I've got a race tomorrow--hopefully I can burn up some of my pain then. I wish I had the stress relief of training today, but I think I need to take the day off because tomorrow is a longer distance race (1500 meter swim, 27 mile bike, 10 k run).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quote of the day

On the subject of heavy bleeding during perimenopause, Joanna wrote in the comment section of a guest post on Bitch Ph.D.:
My doctor did explain that the little arteries in the uterine lining that were waiting for a hormonal signal to curl back up and shut off the bleeding were not getting that signal, and that the progesterone (or other hormonal treatments) were designed to get them to do that. This helped remove some of the anxiety. She also said "your uterine lining is a little disorganized right now." I thought I should put a sign with that on my office door.
Why did no one ever give me this explanation? Though I still intend to try to wait it out without hormones.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

black and white photography

I'm close to committing to setting up a darkroom at home, my daughter and I are having so much fun in the course. My best print from last night (from the roll of film I developed myself last week):

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

details, details

My son has not been turning in all of his homework, so we went up to his boarding school (just an hour and a half away) and took him out to dinner to express our concern. We stopped by the nurses office afterwards because I was concerned about his case of poison ivy, and discovered that his after dinner medication had been marked as "take as neeed" instead of "take every day there is study hall." If asked my son has a pretty good idea of when medication will help him, but he doesn't have enough forethought about it to go to the nurses' office if he can avoid it. I just feel lucky it didn't take us longer to figure out that problem.

Friday, September 08, 2006


"You know you are a triathlete when..." lists are cropping up on my email group. But the one I want to achieve is:
You know you're a triathlete when you put more miles this summer on your bike than on your car.
I rode almost 1,000 miles this summer (May-August), but I put 9,000 miles on my car between March and August. I will increase my biking next year when my goal is a half ironman race, but I am going to have to also drive less.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I did a lot of photography in high school, not only in the school darkroom but I set up my own darkroom at home. When I got to college I tried to get into a photography class, but I got more or less laughed at when I took my portfolio to the professor to apply for the course, so that was the end of that.

Last year I took photography 1 and 2 with my daughter--since she is 13 she can take courses at the community college's extension program if I take them with her. I liked the teacher, but it was a long evening once a week and I learned almost nothing I didn't already know. Last night I got my reward.

The next course started last night: Black and White Photography. We got into the darkroom and developed our own film. We played with the enlargers but didn't actually make prints yet. I love it. I wondered if I would still be able to wind film onto a developing reel in total darkness--I thought maybe that knowledge was still in my fingers. It was--I did it smoothly on the first try.

I think maybe I should have been a chemist. I'm not particularly talented at taking pictures, but I do love the darkroom. My daughter thought it was really fun. Next we will look for the box of my old darkroom equipment that may still be in our attic. The plan right now is just so she can practice winding film onto the developing reel, but we are going to be tempted to set it up (and we have a halfway decent place--a basement room with no windows though non-light tight doors, laundry sink in the next room right by the door). The nice thing about black and white photography is that unlike almost everything else, the technology has hardly changed in 30 years. But I don't have time...

Monday, September 04, 2006

not a holiday, but not bad

We don't get Monday holidays, except Martin Luther King day, so I had to teach today. But my daughter had the day off and it was a break not to have an hour's drive at the beginning of my day. I ran later than usual and did my long run (6 1/2 miles). Tired legs when I started my short bicycle commute to campus, but I've gotten into the bike commute and don't want to take my car if I can possibly avoid it. It is only about a mile, so not significant exercise, but I figure it is good for my leg muscles to have that regular push.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday swim practice

When I first joined the swim team the practices for the masters team (adults) were Tuesday and Thursday 5:45-7:15 am and Saturday morning. But I never went on Saturday. When I first started I was told a cautionary tale about a youngish man who started swimming with the masters but then never came back again after he showed up on a Saturday and got whupped by the 9 year olds. I also knew that at most the masters had one lane on Saturday morning, and it is a strain to circle in one lane with people much faster than me (on weekday mornings we are often only two to a lane, or at least divided up into three lanes by speed). Later the masters went to practicing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 7:00 am.

But our new acting coach can only do two mornings a week until high school swim team season is over. With the turmoil of losing a coach and the different kids groups not all started back up yet, I heard that no kids showed up for Saturday practice last week, just three or four adults. Saturday practice is 7:30 to 9:30 am in the pool and then dry land--weight training in the gym. The coach had some core exercises he wanted to show me, so I rearranged my weekend plans slightly to be able to go to Saturday swim practice this week. It was the first time I had ever gone on a Saturday.

There were three adults and two kids--we each had a lane to ourselves. And this coach much more than the other has us each doing different things depending on our level. Two hours is a lot of swimming, but he has me going easy and working on form, so it wasn't too difficult. The hardest set I did was 100 yards of four different drills, 100 free building speed, then 50 hard, repeated 4 times. And I'm getting used to the coach, who is louder (and more of a toucher) than the previous coach. My only previous experience with being coached is when I was on a women's sailing team in college--being told what to do and what I am doing wrong as intensely as a swimming coach does takes some getting used to.

Then I changed to go up to the gym and immediately discovered a problem. I've literally never worked out in a gym--I didn't know I needed closed toe shoes. I felt pretty stupid. The coach decided that my sandals would have to do, and reassured the staff person supervising the room that I wouldn't be working with any of the weight machines. Instead he had me catching and throwing a 6 pound ball while lowering myself partway backwards on an incline bench and then doing something he called a donkey kick with my feet on a stability ball. I'm sore today but I actually was reasonably pleased with what I could do. Swimming (with lots of butterfly kicking) has strengthed my core a lot from what it was.

Friday, September 01, 2006

August training totals

swimming: 11 sessions for 10 hours 32 minutes
biking: 8 rides for 188 miles in 14 hours 23 minutes
running: 12 runs for 53 1/2 miles in 12 hours 1 minute
total training time: 36 hours 37 minutes

That is way down from 55 hours 47 minutes in July, but given travel and the push afterwards to catch up on grading my internet course and now the beginning of the semester, I won't worry too much about it, even though I have my second international distance race Sept. 17. My achievement this month is that despite lower mileage my bike speed has increased significantly, from an average that had been running around 12.5 mph to an average of 13.1 mph. And I'm seeing that on my hilly local rides.