Monday, October 29, 2007


I bought Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, but as Jenny says it is dense going. Still, it is good to know that the legwork is done to discredit low fat diets.

My A1c (average blood glucose) and weight have crept back up a little, and I've been experimenting with how to respond. My first thought was that my metabolism was slowing because of menopause and I should take the approach that my body just needs less food. But that hasn't had any effect. My peak training period for the half ironman, when I was putting in 15 hours a week, didn't have much effect either. Jenny has concluded that low carb diets over the long term slow metabolism. I'm not convinced, beyond that I find it helpful to eat carbs just before and during exercise. I was struck by an article in Newsweek that suggests different people get more or fewer calories from their food depending on the bacteria living in their intestines. I already half knew that (though not why)--I can digest the supposedly indigestible carbs in Dreamfields Pasta. But that doesn't lead to any useful strategies, it is just more evidence that what we eat is only a small part of the story.

I've wandered into reading fat acceptance blogs just when there is a gripping controversy going on in the community. I won't link right to it because you need to accept the culture first, but I recommend Shapely Prose as a starting point. For scientific information, check out Junkfood Science (though I don't agree with her about several topics). Reading that community reminds me that depriving myself is a negative pattern to get into, and so I have decided to eat more, or at least more freely, while being more careful to keep my blood glucose in strict control. That is what worked for me in the past.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

odd news story

Someone in my triathletes group passed on a news story about a man who has been put on the sex offenders registry in Scotland for having sex with a bicycle. I'm usually pretty intolerant about sex crimes but I don't get this one. According to the story he was alone behind a locked door. So who was hurt? Don't miss the note at the end of the story that he is not the first person convicted for having sex with an inanimate object. There is some discussion here and here.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I'm just back from the conference of the Society for the History of Technology. It was the 50th anniversary of the society, with a lot of interesting special events including a special symposium. But what I will post this morning, very tired, is the most amusing talk I heard. It was a talk by Rachel Maines on "Hedonizing Technologies, or Why Tatting and Cake Decoration are Like Ham Radio and Paintball." The focus was on how hobby technologies do not follow the patterns of progress that apply to other technologies, but instead often go backward in time. But she started out by arguing that unpleasant work often turns later into a hobby technology, from hobby coal mining to extreme ironing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Downloading photographs from Verizon cellphone

I have a Motorola cellphone from Verizon that is a year or so old (V325 model) and I spent more than an hour this morning trying to figure out how to download the photographs I took yesterday. I had the appropriate mini USB cable so I went looking for software. I tried some Motorola software which made my phone able to charge through the USB connection, but I later found information that Verizon disables downloading photographs that way.

I had better luck, eventually, with Verizon's online photo album. On the phone I went to camera and then gallery and selected a picture. I then went to options and selected To PixPlace and click ok several times to send a picture message. The trick is then to get to PixPlace on the computer--many ways of getting there give a message that the site is not available. I'm not sure whether works if you aren't already logged into Verizon or not. What worked for me is to log into Verizon first, and then do a search for PixPlace. That led me to frequently asked questions and a link that worked. I tried emailing a picture to myself but got a tiny version. But if I went to galleries and selected uploads and then click on the small version of the picture I got a decent sized version. Right clicking on that image and saving it to my computer gave me something that was of acceptable quality for my blog.

A picture someone else sent me needs first to be saved to the gallery, then it can be sent to Pix Place.

Since I didn't sign up for unlimited texting I assume I am paying 25 cents for each picture I sent to the album. But the online photo album is supposedly free if you have 75 pictures or fewer.

I'm less sore today than I was after the half-ironman, even though I hurt more last night than I did after the half-ironman. Bicycling is just easier on the legs than running. I'm already tempted by another century ride, though a flat one. It happens to be on the one free weekend I have before Thanksgiving, but it is a four hour drive.

Ride Report: Ride for the Raptors

I've done the metric century version of this ride twice, but this year I decided after the 60 mile ride every weekend I did to prepare for the half-ironman, I was in as good shape as I am ever likely to be to do the 100 mile version. I've only done flat 100 mile rides, and this one is very hilly. The organizers say 5500 feet of climbing, my calculations vary from 9115 according to Motionbased to 4619 according to Bikely (I'm actually convinced Bikely is wrong because it gave me a climb of 4769 for a 57 mile ride on many of the same roads).

It was a cold morning, around 50 F when I left the house. I didn't think a lot about how to dress but I got it right--shorts and shortsleeved jersey with warm armwarmers and a vest and wool socks was just barely warm enough when I started. I ate a big breakfast at Waffle House and got an early start, about 40 minutes before the mass start, because I knew it the 100 miles would take me a long time.

The first 30 miles is flatter than the rest, and I kept up a decent pace, particularly for a good part of the first 10 miles when I drafted off two men who had also started early. Not far after the rest stop at 30 miles is the worst hill of the ride, on Maw bridge road. The picture I took from my cell phone doesn't really give you a sense--it shows a little line of grey that is the road continuing up.

Some people I know passed me after the hill and invited me to draft with them, but I couldn't keep up. Still, I felt ok about making the decision at the 41 mile rest stop to take the 100 mile option.

That part of the ride goes north to Highway 11 almost to the mountains. There are no mountain climbs--probably only one or two uphills longer than a mile and none terribly steep. But it seemed like for the next 40 miles I was either grinding uphill in my easiest gear or coasting downhill. My one complaint about the organization of this ride is that only three of the rest stops have bathroom facilities--I stopped a a convenience store and also bought a pimento cheese sandwich, as the rest stops that far hadn't had peanut butter sandwiches (the next one did, but that was 25 miles of hills later. Some of the roads are pretty but there are stretches that are annoyingly long on busy roads. Thankfully it stayed fairly cool--the long hill on highway 11 must be horrible on a hot day. I had ridden the outer loop by itself some years ago and the route hadn't changed, which mostly meant I knew there were lots more hills coming. I took the uphills slowly, at about 75% of maximum heart rate and often less than 5 mph, and I felt I could keep going that way.

When I got back to the 40/80 mile rest stop the organizers were waiting for me. I said I didn't have much strength left but I wanted to crawl my way to the end. The last stretch isn't as continuously hilly but I knew I had four fairly bad hills to go. But I just kept at it at my slow pace, though it hurt some. I thought about quitting a good bit this ride but I wanted to be able to say I had done it. And after 8 hours and 38 minutes of riding time I had. Sporttracks says I burned 6,874 calories.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

parents weekend and swimming

We went to my daughter's parents' weekend, and all reports are that everything is going very smoothly. The school does indeed seem to be the right place for her. It was so good to see her. It was hot in Massachusetts--in the 80s.

The swim team is interviewing for a new coach and I went to one of the interviews last night. The trouble is the interests of the parents of kids who swim and the interests of masters (adult) swimmers are so different. I'm actually ok with what the masters group is doing now--swimming at the recreation center without a coach but with workouts from one of our group who has at times coached us. The team doesn't have anyone to coach the masters group right now (they arranged an interim coach for the kids but not for us) and they had us swimming in the dive tank of the university pool. We rebelled.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Full Race Report: South Carolina Half Ironman

Swim 1.2 miles: 00:56:40
T1: 00:04:25
Bike 56 miles: 03:45:55 (14.9 mph)
T2: 00:04:15
Run 13.1 miles: 03:24:09 (15.34 pace)
Total: 08:15:23 place 102 out of 107 women.

Last year I had planned to make this race my goal for this year, but then I got distracted by signing up for a longer race that was then cancelled. I decided to do this race only after completing the Tri-America race of about 3/4 the distance in August. After that I got serious about my training, doing a 60 mile bike ride each weekend and long runs of 9-11 miles. What I couldn't predict was the effect of a much less hilly bike course--there isn't any place to ride that flat around here.

I have twice done Festival of Flowers, an international distance race in June that uses the same basic swim and run course, so I knew my way around. I was careful to go down early enough the day before to drive the bike course. My husband went with me and drove, which allowed me to try to imagine how the bike course would feel. I kept to my usual routine from the international distance race--dinner at Ryans, stay at the Econolodge, a frozen quiche for breakfast. (I have type 2 diabetes so I can't load up on carbohydrates.) We got out of the hotel a little later than I wanted in the morning, but everything went smoothly getting set up.

The race started about 20 minutes late--they didn't have the turn buoys out on time. The air was cold (52 F at 7:30) and I couldn't face going into the water to warm up, even though I hadn't swum in my wetsuit since June. I was organized enough to carry a banana to eat before the start.

The swim start was in the water so I did get my face in the water before I started. The water was warmer than the air--I heard 76 degrees. There was a little bit of breeze instead of the usual dead calm. I wouldn't call it a chop, but I often got a wave in my mouth when I sighted. I started off at a moderate pace, following advice to find my groove during the first third. The elites had gone off course so the kayakers were making a particular effort to make sure we were going in the right direction. To my surprise I had a few people around me all the way to the first turn. After the turn the sighting was easier and I tried to push my pace more. That section was fairly empty, but in the third leg of the course I actually passed two people. That was exciting--I'm usually close to last out of the water. I was 98 out of 107 among women on the swim and ahead of 10 men. I was very happy when I came out of the water and saw a time on the clock that translated to about 56 minutes after my start. Someone kindly unzipped my wetsuit as I went past--I hadn't even started to think about it.

I didn't rush the transitions. I started my Garmin first, then the wetsuit came off fairly easily. I sprayed my arms and shoulders with suntan lotion. Glasses, headsweat, helmet, gloves.

My strategy for the bike was to not push the first 12 miles, which was the hilliest. The course is about 2,000 feet cumulative climb with no bad hills but enough up and down to give the legs a rest now and then. The middle section is really flat and I knew I wanted to push there. About 12 people passed me in those first 12 miles and I was amazed that I had swum faster than that many people (there was only one wave behind mine). I stuck to my strategy, not wanting to have tired legs at 20 miles. It worked--I was able to pass two of those people back and keep up a pace close to or over 15 mph from 10 to 40 miles (looking at 5 mile splits). Then there was a section of rough road and then when the road smoothed out again the most serious headwind of the day, so I worked harder towards the end for less than I had hoped. I rode mostly by heartrate; my Garmin says my average heart rate on the bike was 84%. I ate two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wished I had somewhat more food and I took three salt/electrolyte capsules with most of four bottles of water. My legs didn't hurt until the last 10 miles or so, and despite that I speeded up again the last six miles when I turned out of the wind.

I'm not sure why my second transition was quite so slow, though I was distracted a little by a photographer who had come to take my picture for a book on sexual abuse survivors. I changed my shirt to one with short sleeves that would cover my shoulders and prevent chafing under my arms. I did forget my hat and go back for it, but I was only halfway to the transition exit when I remembered it. My legs didn't feel as badly starting to run as they had in August, but it was daunting to think I was starting a half-marathon.

The course was a double out and back so my first lap there were lots of people on the course. I walked some hills but was pleased initially by the pace I was keeping--I thought I might be able to hit 8 hours. I at a gel every two miles (up to 10) and a salt/electrolyte capsule every hour and used the potapotty once. Thankfully there was a cool breeze--the temperature was in the area of 79-81 from 1 to 4:30 pm. The second loop was lonelier, but I actually passed someone. When I started back the second time they had opened the road and many people were leaving the race--the awards ceremony must have just ended. There must have been 100 cars that clapped and cheered for me or gave me a thumbs up or honked to me or said "you go girl." At one point the cars were stopped and people stuck their hands out the window to high five me. I got such a charge out of that I didn't stop to walk during the last two miles. I wasn't as fast but I felt I was still running strong (for me). My two mile splits to 12 miles were at a pace of 14:47, 15:50, 15:26, 15:37, 16:23, 15:34. That isn't slower than my long run training pace. There was one point towards the end where I felt "I'm going to collapse soon" tired, but then it passed and never came back. The last little bit to the finish is an evil hill, but I got myself to run the last part of it.

The finish line was still up even though it was after 8 hours. I had to ask for a medal but I got one. I didn't think to ask about my age group (women 50-54) because I knew five had signed up. But it turned out only 3 showed up--I learned only after I got home that I was third in my age group. I miss my daughter (who is away at school) who would have listened to the age group awards and noticed that they only announced two people in my age group.

I felt emotional running those last few miles with people encouraging me, and told myself I couldn't cry and run. After the finish I didn't feel as emotional as I had expected. I had talked to someone a few days before about how doing triathlons had for me been a way of learning to like my body. Doing my first half-ironman was the completion of something.

After the race in August I was saddle sore and badly chafed under the arms. I took steps to prevent those problems this time and succeeded, even though the distance was longer. I'm sore today but not terribly so--I even rode my commuter bike to work (only a mile). I told my students that I don't usually brag about myself but I did my first half ironman yesterday and placed 3rd in my age group. They clapped for me. One was bright enough to ask "out of how many" and I got a laugh when I said "Three, but I wasn't last."