Thursday, August 30, 2007

school start

I take my daughter to her boarding school at 11:30 this morning, and say goodbye around 4:30 this afternoon. Prayers appreciated. Last night she didn't want to be alone going to sleep and I sang her the lullabies I sang when she was a baby. I sang "He's got the whole world in his hand" as my prayer for her and for me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tri-America National Series Tour--Anderson SC

Quick version: last finisher, but there were three women who did not finish so 11 out of 14 among women. First in my age group, as I was the only one.
swim 2K--1:01:04
bike 58K--2:38:34 (average 13.6 mph)
run 15K 2:27:41 (average 15:51 minutes/mile)
overall time: 6:14:23
Official Anderson temperature at 2 pm, 91 degrees.

I first had the big ambition of wanting to do Tri-101 Halifax, but before I had to decide I couldn't make the cutoffs it cancelled. I then signed up for this race because it was close and scheduled for the weekend before my daughter goes away. It is the first race that Sommer Sports has done in our area, and not many people signed up. My summer has been full of travel and my training has been pretty scattered: I've averaged over 10 hours a week total training but only around 50 miles a week of cycling and 12-14 miles a week of running with long runs of 6 to 8 miles. That's mostly because it has been hot and I have been going slow.

Yesterday we took my son back to his school and ran late and then met friends for dinner, so I barely had time to pack. I got up this morning a little before 5 and made myself a cheese omelet. My daughter and I got to the race site about 6 for a 7 am start and it was still completely dark. I was glad I had picked up my packet yesterday and had some idea where to go. When I set up in transition the good news was that I hadn't forgotten anything.

The swim was a two loop course because of low water. Nobody swam it under 34 minutes, so I don't think it was especially short. I was thrilled with my time, considering that in June a 3K swim took me 1:53 (being more cautious). I think the two loop course actually helped me--I didn't have those long stretches where I tend to lose focus and slow down.

I hadn't had time to drive the bike course beforehand, and the bike course in our packet was quite different from the one posted online in advance so it wouldn't have done me much good. From where I live, if I ride to the northwest towards the mountains it gets hilly fast, but southeast towards Anderson where the race was tends to be considerably flatter. But in the briefing before the race there was mention that the course had been changed on the advice of local cyclists to get more hills (probably more for lightly traveled roads). It was hillier than I expected--not mountainous but my Garmin says total climb of +1411/-1276 (compared to +95/-25 for my international distance race in June). Those numbers aren't terribly reliable, but clearly there was a significant difference. Update: cleaning up the results with MotionBased shows a total climb for this race, adding together the bike and the run, of 3,450 feet.

It was a two loop bike course, and a few miles into the second loop I realized my legs were hurting. I looked at my GPS and I was 20 miles into the bike--another 16 miles to go. Not good. I passed one person at the beginning of the bike and was passed by another who said she was also on the first loop. I don't know where she came from as I don't see anyone with a slower swim time than me. I felt discouraged at times, but I kept up my effort pretty well even with my legs hurting. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank three bottles of water--the water bottle handoff worked well.

When I got to the end of the bike I could hardly stand up, wasn't sure I could get off my bike without falling over. I haven't done any bricks (workouts where you run right after biking) and I just hoped that when my legs got used to running it would be ok. I started out the run feeling my legs hardly worked, but sure enough after a mile or so they actually felt pretty good.

I had biked part of the run course, which was hilly, and heard before the race that the part off the bike course was even hillier. So my strategy was to walk up the hills and try to run the rest. That worked really well--there were times when I was looking forward to a hill so I would have a chance to walk.

The run course was an out and back, done twice. The second time around I was the only one on the course, but the person picking up the tables waited for me at each aid station. At one point I told him I had worried whether this race company was friendly to slow people and I was very impressed, and he said he would wait for me as long as it took me. I felt I could still run at a fairly good pace for me--mile six was 14:34 even with a significant elevation gain. I ate 3 gels. The last mile or so a police car drove in front of me with his lights on. As I was running on the left he caused great confusion to the cars that passed. Sometimes it is not fun to be last and aware of a cleanup vehicle behind me, but in this case I believed they were not impatient with me. My daughter ran the last bit to the finish with me.

I was sore and started to stiffen up right away, but I didn't feel as badly after the run as after the bike. I was happy I had done it--a good bit longer than my longest previous race (which was 1500 meters, 24 miles, and 10K). And it was the first time I have won (been the only one in) my age group. Everyone got a medal and the age group prize was a mug. SportsTracks says I burned almost 4,000 calories and my average heartrate was 83% of my maximum.

Friday, August 24, 2007

first week back

Classes started on Wednesday and so suddenly the university has been at full swing again. I'm pleased with how my class started out, but a lot of what I do these days is deal with students with questions about Science and Technology in Society (from "can I get into this course?" to "evaluate the course I took somewhere else for transfer" to "will my architecture independent study count for STS?").

My daugher and I shipped off four boxes of things she wanted to take to school in Massachusetts (two of them containing winter clothes). I fly up with her next Wednesday to deliver her to the school on Thursday. My son goes back to school tomorrow.

Yesterday the weather report said high of 90 on Sunday, today it says high of 94. So I'm not optimisitic about the weather for Sunday's race. And I'm very discouraged because I read carefully the schedule for race day and it says the course closes at noon. I don't think I can finish in 5 hours--I was expecting it might take me six. This isn't the race production company I usually race with, and I have no idea whether these people will be serious about their cutoff. There are 39 registered in my race and 37 in the shorter race held at the same time. So far no one else is registered in my age group so I have a chance to win my age group for the first time, but I'm afraid I won't get to be an official finisher because I won't make the cutoff. I was swimming yesterday at a pace that would say I could do the swim in 50 minutes, but I don't know that I can keep that up in open water. The bike at 37 miles is shorter than 3/8 ironman, but it will still take me between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. My goal time for the run would be two hours. I would have to have an awfully good day to finish in 5 hours, and it is instead going to be beastly hot.

Update: I got good news in reply to my email to the race organizers:
Actually we do not have an official cutoff for this race. The times listed in the timetable were based on our Clermont TriAmerica race which was held under much better weather conditions. You can concentrate on your race without having to worry about a cutoff time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

bicycle ride

I took my favorite Kanuga bicycle ride today, which goes mostly through a river valley (so is quite flat!).

There is more corn planted this year--I wonder if there is an ethanol plant in the area or just a higher price.

There is still some traditional culture around.

But so much sprawl--the large machines below seemed to be building a golf course.

The apple orchard is still there--old trees pruned as if they were espaliered, so old that the branches sag and then the young branches grow upward.

A lovely 30 miles.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Because of our kids' activites we moved our week at Kanuga to two weeks later than usual. Luckily this is a less crowded week and we were able to get a cabin, in fact the same cabin we have had the past two years in an earlier week.

Today I took my long run in the morning. I had a loop in mind I had done before, but I wasn't sure how long it was. It turned out to be 6 1/2 miles long. I would have added a little extra to it, as ideally I would have liked to run 8 miles for my long run today in preparation for my race in two weeks. But it started raining steadily just about when I was at the farthest point of the loop, and I didn't enjoy the second half. I'm glad I didn't push on--as it is my arms just above the armpit got badly chafed by my wet shirt.

I went to church in the morning and then this afternoon took a hike with my husband and kids and a cousin (who is here with his family--we didn't know they were going to be here) up Eagle Rock. We ate some icecream and then I hurried down to the waterfront to do the dam swim--about half a mile total across the lake and back. A good day.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Barbara Crafton writes:
I judge myself harshly, looking uselessly around for something to blame when I fail, as if failure were a moral category. It's not. It's just a fact of human life. We fail at things sometimes. It's not such a big deal.

Every time we try to deny this, we get into trouble. It's usual these days to avoid the word failure altogether: it's judgmental finger pointing, we tell each other. There really aren't any failures. There are just challenges.

Oh, please. Let's not minimize the pain of not being able to do something you want very much to master, the sharp sting of it, the way foolish tears assemble behind your eyes and threaten a march down your face when it happens. We don't have to wear a damn smiley face every moment of every day. Embracing the truth of failure could de-fang it for us, let us know that it's okay to feel terrible about not being able to do something because the feeling will pass. You will try again. You will learn how. Having failed doesn't make us failures; no person is ever a failure. We may have failures -- and, for honesty's sake, I want very much to embrace the painful truth of mine -- but we never become one.
My issue tends to be mistakes rather than failure, but the two are very close. I'm beginning to think that remembering that the feelings will pass may be the most useful approach to a lot of things.