Sunday, July 31, 2011

Next Stop - Lake Logan Multisport Festival

This Saturday I will be participating in my first Olympic triathlon in Western North Carolina.  There were a couple of requirements that had to be met in order for me to select my first Oly event.  One, it had to be towards the end of summer and two, it had to be wetsuit legal.  That way I had all summer to practice & when the big day came having a wetsuit would give me a little extra confidence for the swim.  Wetsuits give you extra buoyancy in the water along with help with your body position when swimming.  So essentially, my wetsuit is the equivalent to a security blanket. 

I have said a million times over that the swim is my weakest sport & apparently it is for a lot of other folks too.  I learned this yesterday watching the open water swimmers at the Lame Duck Tri yesterday.  Steve & I were part of the kayak support so we saw up close & personal what it looks like to not be ready for your first open water swim.  I knew back in January when I was picking this race that I did not want to be struggling to get through the swim.  I was really worried about a few people yesterday but everyone made it eventually.  Even the guy Steve was watching....the one that probably swam over a mile (it was only a 1/2 mile swim) thanks to really poor sighting.  At one point Steve said the guy got so turned around that he was swimming back towards the start.  He had to tap the guy with his paddle to get him turned around.  

I have come to terms with being a slow swimmer but I am steady.  Thanks to the couple of open water swims (OWS) at Laurel Lake I know I can easily swim a mile & sight well.  The wetsuit will be gravy!  I think it will help me stay calm when we start the swim.  I am not sure if it is a mass start or wave start.  There are just over 400 registered for the race.  This is a lot smaller than the Irongirl tri we did in May.  That one had just over a 1000 finishers.  So either way I think I am good.    Also, the wetsuit should help me with my swim time.  After all. it is engineered for speed, it says so right on it! The swim distance is 1500m, so instead of a 50+ minute swim time I should be 45+ minutes.  I will be flying!  ha
 The bike I know I am ready for.  It is a 40K (just under 25 miles) ride from Lake Logan to Canton & back.  Steve & I drove the bike course over Memorial day so I have a good idea what to expect.  There is a fairly steep climb at the 22 mile mark but again our Laurel Lake vacation has me ready for that too.  

The run, a 10K, is what I think I will struggle the most with.  My runs have been terrible lately.  The heat just kicks my butt when I run.  It gets my heart rate so high that the past couple of 7 mile runs I have had to cut short.  I have also had to do a fair bit of walking during them in an attempt to get my heart rate down.  Fortunately, today my transition run was back in line where I expect it to be.  So I am really hoping the cool Blue Ridge air will allow me to have a good run.

I really have no time goal except to finish within the 4 hour time limit.  Unless I have some kind of mechanical issue I don't think that should be a problem.  

Steve & I rented a cabin on the grounds of the race site.  The race is on Saturday morning so we will have the second half of the weekend to chill out & enjoy the location.  Sunday morning is the Sprint & Aquathon.  I am so glad the Oly is on Saturday!

I have 3 remaining workouts this week, a 45 minute run which I think I will do on the dreadmill to avoid any over heating issues, a 1600 meter swim & a 60 minute ride.  Easy peasy

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Water bottles are a little like underwear.... can never have too many clean ones.  Back in college, my roommate & I lived in Ravenswood on the north side of Chicago.  It was an old 6 flat with radiated heat, no air, & no laundry.  About once a month or so we would load up every bag, box & basket we could find with dirty clothes & take a taxi to the launder bar.  When we couldn't find the time to make it to the laundry we would just run across the street to Sears & buy some extra undies.  

I feel that way about these stupid bottles.  I am too lazy to wash them after every workout so they pile up.  Part of me wants to buy more but then there would be even more bottles piled up in the sink & on the counter. 

At least with dirty laundry you can hide it in the closest...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Camp Karma – AKA What We Did on Summer Vacation

Warning! – Really long & boring blog post below!  

Here are the Cliff Notes – We swam, we ate, we slept, we hiked, we ate, we kayaked, we drank, we ran, we cycled, we ate, we ate, we ate some more, we slept, etc.

Proceed if you wish but don’t say I didn’t warn you!!  :-)

On Saturday I picked up Steve from the airport around 3PM.  He spent about 7 days in China.  It was pretty much a record for shortest China trip ever.  That is part of the reason why I like to get all of our vacations set by January.  Build schedules always change but I like vacations to be set in stone.  It gives us something to look forward to all year.
That afternoon we hooked up the trailer & brought it to our house to load up.  Our reservation wasn’t until Sunday so we weren’t too rushed. 
On Sunday Steve was up around 5AM thanks to jet lag.  I got up around 6:30 to get my long run in before we left.  As I walked down the driveway I saw Steve down by the camper loading up the kayaks.  I was wondering why he was wearing his running gear.  Back in early May he fractured his right foot running.  He was out of commission for 12 weeks.  Well, 12 weeks were up & he went for his first run in so many weeks.  I really wasn’t too surprised.  It is really hard for someone that has been so active to suddenly become a couch potato.  Yeah, it pretty much sucks.  

By around 12:30 we were loaded up & on our way to Holly Bay.  I really like Holly Bay for several reasons.  The campsites are all wooded & nicely spaced from one another.  The lake is awesome.  It is so clear & great for swimming & kayaking.  There are a lot of boaters on weekends but the weekdays are pretty quiet.  Since it is a dammed up river the lake has lots of coves to explore.  There are a lot of places to hop out of the kayak & swim.

Back in January I booked Site D4.  The campground has 2 loops that open up for reservations 6 months in advance and yes they fill up 6 months in advance.  They have a few more loops that are walk in only but it is a crap shoot if you will get a site.  We have done it a couple of times but I rather not deal with the stress of wondering if you will have a site after all the time it takes to load up the camper for a week.

We spent a couple hours setting up & then went down to float in the lake to cool off.  It was going to be a hot week.  Before we left the weather channel was predicted a heat index of 100 -109 all week.  Yep, that is why we have a camper.  Love to sweat it out during the day but I want to sleep in comfort at night.   My tolerance is 1 night of tent camping, if that anymore.
We hauled the kayaks down to the lake Monday morning.  From our campsite we have a trail down to the water.   Which is another reason why I like the D loop.   I had a couple of swim workouts on the schedule for the week so I wanted to measure out a 1 mile swim.  Even though in each swim workout I have swam over a mile all summer long it is so intimidating to see it fully in front of you as opposed to 50 meters at a time.  

Steve hunting for his cache
Steve also wanted to look for a cache that was hidden along the lake.  We stopped for about 30 minutes for him to hunt for it but no luck.  He did go back a few days later to look again.  He did succeed in finding a copperhead but no cache. After finding the copperhead he quickly hopped back in his kayak & gave up on that cache. Later in the afternoon we drove to London to pick up a few things we forgot as well as scout out a bike route for later in week.

We headed out for my open water swim around 10AM Tuesday which fortunately was early enough before the boats got on the water.   Steve was going to follow me in his kayak.   The water was nice & calm.  I sighted good for the ½ mile out.  I did have a couple minor panic attacks although I was able to swim through them.   One was at the beginning of swim just thinking about being in the water then next one was when I saw a boat.  No biggie. 
I stopped briefly at the turn around for a couple of sips of water.   My arms were feeling tired, as well as my low back due to all the sighting.  My right shoulder was feeling a bit ouchy.  My left arm felt great.  They seem to tag team each other.  They rarely feel bad at the same time.    I had a hard time sighting on way back due to swimming into the sun & the slight fog of my goggles.  I asked Steve to paddle in front of me so I could sight off of him for the last ¼ mile.  I rather have him behind me but I just couldn’t see that far ahead of me.  I finally got back to the start.  Swim total = 1.04 miles in 51 minutes.  I was actually surprised by the time.  I only lost about 3 minutes off my 1600 pool swim time.   Although I should be faster at the Lake Logan International thanks to the wetsuit I still warned Steve to be prepared for me to be about the last person out of the water.

After the swim I made blueberry pancakes….so yummy.  In the afternoon we hiked to the Marina for ice cream.  If you haven’t figured it out yet I like to reward myself with food.   From our campsite it is about a 4 mile round trip.  We took Karma on the trek.  She did well on the way there but I thought we may have to carry her back.  She found her second wind though & made it home on her own.   She has always been a great trail dog.

I started Wednesday off pretty lazily.  I spent most of the morning reading.  I could have spent the entire day but I only brought one book so I had to pace myself.  I had a 75 minute ride on the agenda & with as hot as it was by mid morning I wanted to get it done earlier than later. 
This was going to be Steve’s first ride since he fractured his foot.  We scouted out a ride on Monday.  We initially planned to go from the campground on KY 1193 to KY 1277 & then turn around & go to the Powerhouse.  From previous trips to Holly Bay we knew the climb from the Powerhouse was a tough one.  When looking at the map Tuesday evening we saw at the 1277 turn around we could take a right & go down to the Mouth of the Laurel Boat Ramp.  We didn’t drive it the other day but it looked like it would be lighted traveled since it dead ended at the boat ramp.  Hmmm, we knew Powerhouse was a tough climb, why wouldn’t we have thought the ascent out from the boat ramp would be at least equally challenging?   I later asked Steve if he knew how steep of an ascent it was going to be & of course he did.  He just didn’t inform me.  I suppose sometimes it is best to not know.  Otherwise I may have bailed on the idea. 

We started our ride around noon.  We hung a left out of the campground onto KY 1193.  KY 1193 is like most other roads in Kentucky where we ride...rolling hills.  There was one long slow climb that was pretty tough but mostly it was a nice ride with the exception it was all in the sun.  I got to 1277 first & saw that there was a hill to climb once we turned.  I went back to find Steve to let him know to be in the right gear going into the turn.  Once we turned onto KY 1277 we were mostly in the shade & it felt great.  Before we knew it we were flying down the curvy road to the boat ramp.  At one point Steve ripped on past me.    Me?  I spent at least half the decent on the brakes.  All it took was one look to see the drop off into god knows what to stay on the brakes.  I know, Bluegrass Tri Chick’n is more like it!  I can’t watch the TDF decents during the mountain stages on TV without cringing & holding my breath.   The only time I let ‘er rip downhill is when the road is straight, I can see the entire decent & I have ridden it before!  For me, the risk does not warrant the reward.  

I caught up to Steve.  He was down on the actual boat ramp.  I decided that was one climb I did not want to do so I stayed at the top.  He came up to meet me & we took a little break.  I gave him my gel because I thought he would need it more than me considering.   The decent was 450 feet in 2 miles exactly .  I knew the climb out was gonna hurt.   When I run hills I keep repeating to myself ‘I love hills, I love hills’ over & over.  Surprisingly this does work….well, most of the time.   I don’t normally do this chant when I ride but I figured it was time to remind myself how much I love hills.  With this chant in my head we started the climb out.
To date this was the hardest climb I have ever done.  I have never gone to the BTC Hill Climbs…again Bluegrass Tri Chick’n.  I am afraid I would have to walk up the hills & how mortifying would that be in front of all these hard core cyclists?  I know it is better to try & have failed than not to have tried at all but I am still a chick’n.   I have done the Millville hill twice now which is pretty tough.   On the first climb I kept shifting into easier & easier gears.   I thought I was in trouble when I couldn’t shift anymore.  It took a couple attempts at shifting to really believe I was already in the easiest gear.   It was still so hard…my lungs were screaming, my legs were screaming, my brain was screaming STOP!   I don’t do this often when I train but almost every race I talk to my Dad.   Somehow just thinking about him helps me get over the hump of whatever I am currently facing.   On this ride, I asked him for a little push up the last hill or at least for a tail wind or anything that would get me up this darn hill!  

When I finally made it to the top of the climb I went on about ½ mile to make sure that was indeed the end of it.  I then turned around to wait for Steve to make it out.  He did eventually make it.  He had to stop at one point & took the gel I gave him.  He did great for the first ride in 3 months!  Not exactly an ‘easing’ back into training ride though.  

We tackled a couple more rollers before making the turn back on to 1193 but they were easy compared to wait we just climbed.  The return back was uneventful.  

Total miles = 19.04, total moving time = 78 minutes, 2 - Cat 5 hills

When we returned to the campsite we put on our bathing suits and went for a long float in the lake.  The water felt so good!  We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging at the site trying to move as little as possible.  It was so stinking hot!    

Thursday we woke up to thunder.    The sky was almost as dark as night.  My plan was to get my run in first thing in the morning so we could spend the rest of the day kayaking but mother nature had other plans.  I spent the rainy morning reading my book.  It was just too good & I had to know how it was going to end.  I knew a trip to London was in order later in the day to pick out my next book.  

I waited until what seemed like most of the storm had passed & started out my run around 12:30.  I figured it was better to get a little wet than wait until the sun came out & really steamed things up.    The Sheltowee trail runs through the campground.   I headed out toward the Marina.  I am not sure if my Garmin was accurate or not but it said I was doing close to a 14 minute mile.  Boy was I flying!  Ha!  Trail running is great but you really have to watch where you put your feet.  Last summer during a trail run I totally bit it on a tree root.  I still have the scars on my knees as a reminder.  Today I fared better.  I got in a dismally slow 4 mile run but I managed to stay upright so that was success in my book.   The highlight of the run was seeing a Tarpon Turtle walking on the trail.  He pulled into his shell when he heard me. 
Steve even did a 3 mile run.  I still think he is going out a little too much too soon but I can understand.  Hopefully he knows his limits.  

After we were done & cleaned up we headed to the big city of London, KY.  I really wanted to get the final book in the Stieg Larsson series.  We first hit Walmart.  To my surprise they didn’t have much of a book selection, unless you consider the Harlequin Romance series a good selection because they had a ton of those!  

We next tried the Walgreens.  No luck there either.  Steve did an internet search for local bookstores.  It pulled up a Barnes & Noble about 2 miles away.  We were both pretty shocked.  We followed the directions & pulled up to this brand new building with no name on it.  We saw someone going in & asked what the place was.  They said it was the county library.  Huh.  Google really messed up there.  

I saw a Kmart but really had no desire to go in.  My last experience with Kmart was when I lived in Chicago & I swore I would never step foot in one again.   Steve thought I was crazy & pulled in to the shopping center anyway.  I went into Kroger first to check to see what they had.  Nope, nothing.  So I reluctantly went to Kmart.   I asked one of the clerks if they had a book section & she pointed my in the right direction.  As I walked through the store I was really amazed at how nice it was.  It was clean & orderly & no general chaos in the aisles.  I got to the aisle she pointed me to & wow, they had an entire aisle of books and only ¼ of them were romance novels.  I did find the book I was looking for but it was in hardback.  They had the other two in paperback & I just didn’t want to spend $21 for a book I knew I would read in a few days.   After some deliberation I picked out some other summery looking read (Fly Away Home) basically because one of the reviewers said it was hilarious.  I figured I would pick up the other book when I got home.  

Friday was the only morning during all vacation the alarm was set.  I had a really long workout on tap & wanted to get it done before noon so we could have the rest of the day to do whatever.  I did get up around 7:15 but didn’t want to wake up Steve.  I had another 1 mile swim & needed him to spot me in the lake.  So I just hung out reading my new book & drinking coffee until he got up.  Sometime around 9AM we headed down to the lake.  I kept hearing rumbling in the far distance that sounded like thunder.  I wasn’t so sure I wanted to swim when I could hear thunder regardless of how far away it was.  Steve didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.  Figures, he wasn’t the one getting in the water.  

We had our kayaks locked together & realized we forgot the keys.  Steve went back to the camper to get them while I stayed & bailed my yak out from the previous days rain.  When he hadn’t come back down after 15-20 minutes I figured he was having a hard time finding the keys.  I went back up to the camper & when I went in it looked like an explosion of crap everywhere.  Yep, couldn’t find the keys.  We spent the next 30 minutes looking for them.  Finally, I remembered he had his swim trunks on the last time we went out in the yaks & sure enough that is where they were.  Boy was he relieved.  He was just about to get someone to cut the lock.  How mad would he have been if that was the case?!?

It was about 10AM when we headed back down to the lake.  I think the delay was good because by now the thunder was gone but there were a couple boats out on the lake.  Oh well, I needed practice swimming in the waves anyway.  I finished swimming 0.97 miles in 51 minutes.  A little slower & shorter than the other day but I wanted to take care of my shoulder.  It was still a little ouchy but not terrible.  

Top of the dam looking at the Powerhouse
Next up was a 2h15m bike ride.  I estimated about 35 miles.   My plan was to go out KY 1193 & turn around at KY 1277 & then go back down to the Powerhouse.  The round trip was about 13.5 miles.  I didn’t have it in me to do the Mouth of the Laurel climb again but I would do Powerhouse twice so that was just about the same thing.  

Powerhouse looking up to the top of the Dam

Wow, this ride was hard, hard, hard.  I don’t know if it was the oppressive heat index, the 34 miles & 4 - cat 5 climbs or what but I felt incredibly slow.  I never felt my cycling legs come alive during this ride.  I ended up finishing 34 miles in 2h22m.  Yeah, pretty much slowest ride ever.  I finished up around 1:30 & after getting my shoulders rolled by Steve I went to soak in the lake for awhile.  

House boats at the marina

 After lunch we went for a paddle to the marina for ice cream.  We then paddled out towards the dam & caught a few good waves from all the speed boats….always fun.  The rest of the evening was spent on my butt moving as little as possible.   I love vacation!

 Saturday was the last full day of vacation at the lake which was a bummer.  It never fails just when you get into your vacation groove it is time to go home.  Boo.  

We started the day with big breakfast.  Egg, bacon & blueberry pancakes.  Nummy num nums.  After breakfast we went on a paddle around a couple of the coves.  Surprisingly we found a quite one that we were able to paddle around & swim for a while.  A few of the coves are filled with tree stumps.  I always am a little creeped out when we paddle through them.  I feel like something is going to bump me out of the kayak & then I would be stuck swimming amongst the slimy, creepy trees.   From past experience, I know the shoreline is like quicksand in this area.  Not sure why but every cove that has these tree stumps don’t bother getting out at the shore.  Your feet will get sucked in which is even creepier.
After getting away from the trees we found a spot to hop out & swim.  All week long it has been brutally hot with oppressive humidity.   It was great being able to hop in the lake every time we got hot.  The lake warmed up over the week but still felt great.  We paddle around for another hour or two before going in for lunch.  Once back at shore we knew we had to lug the yaks back up to the campsite.  Neither one of us was looking forward to that task for a couple of reasons.  One it was so stinking hot & the second was that is signified the end of vacation.  Double boo.  

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing the stuff we didn't want to pack wet up.  I then gave Karma a bath since I didn’t want to bring home a stinky beagle.

She then drove us down to the marina for our last vacation ice cream. 
Sunday morning we had to pack up & head back home to reality.  Triple boo.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Out of Retirement

Week 5 of 8 of the Olympic Training plan was supposed to go something like this:

Monday = Rest Day
Tuesday = 1900 m Swim
Wednesday = 18 mile Ride then drop of bike at shop for tune up
Thursday = 4 mile Run
Friday = 2000m Swim
Saturday = 35 mile Ride
Sunday = 7 mile Run

Well, Mother Nature had other plans for Tuesday's swim.  We had some big storms roll through starting around 4pm that lasted a few hours.  So no swim for me.  I thought about riding on the trainer but that really wasn't appealing to me so I parked it on the couch for the evening.  Something about the rain makes me want to curl up on the couch & read a book or in this case my new Triathlete magazine followed by 3 hours of TDF watching.

I woke up Wednesday feeling crazy guilty for taking an extra rest day!  I was amazed at how much it bugged me.  I really needed to get my swim in on Wednesday since I had another planned swim on Friday.  Swimming 2 days in a row isn't a good thing with my shoulders.  I also knew I needed to take my bike in for its annual tune up.  If it wasn't shifting so poorly I would have waited.  I dropped off my bike Wednesday knowing I wouldn't be able to pick it up until Friday. 

Still love the kick stand!
Thursday morning I went for my 4 mile run.  After getting ready I decided I would ride after work.  I considered skipping the ride altogether but it bothered me that my weekly miles would be down significantly from the week before.   I went into the garage & pulled out my Fuji.  It has been sitting in the garage for the better part of the year since I brought Jake home.  I have ridden it once to tailgate last fall but that is it. I have had a couple offers from folks to buy it but I just wasn't ready to get ride of it.  I like having a backup bike.

Equus Run Winery
My first thought was to ride the Legacy Trail but after thinking about it I decided to ride the Masterson Station to Equus Winery route.   I rode it last week so I thought it would be cool to do a comparison.  Well honestly, I had this blog post in mind - see #4.  I know this post was a joke but it did make me wonder. Had Jake made me lazy?  I was about to find out.  It is about 18 miles & has become my favorite after work ride.  It is close to work, traffic is minimal & it goes through some beautiful horse farms. 

I started the ride & immediately felt how different the bike felt.  My quads were really working.  By mile 4 I contemplated turning right instead of left to cut the ride short but quickly decided against it.  I mean, it wasn't hard I just felt different muscles working.  That's a good thing, right?

In no time I was at Equus Run & the turn around.  I was certainly climbing slowly plus I noticed that my bum was getting sore which surprised me.  I guess it makes sense since the ride is so different between the two but still surprised me nonetheless.  I managed to make it back to Masterson station just before 7PM. 

Here is the comparison stats between tonight's ride & last weeks ride

                                           Jake            Fuji
AVG Moving Speed           16.2 mph   13.5 mph      
Max Speed                         29.9 mph   26.4 mph
AVG Heart Rate                 153            140

The Fuji ride felt a lot harder on my legs but I wasn't breathing hard at all.  I didn't attack the hills either week.  I agree with the referenced blog post that the dusty bike in my garage makes me work harder but I don't think I am any lazier for it.  I am a lot faster & I can run off the bike a heck of a lot easier with Jake!

Tomorrow night I pick Jake up.  Fuji is back collecting dust in the garage until next time. 

Jake in Atlanta

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Some of you already know that I am a Groupon junky.  I purchase just about every massage that Groupon offers.  About 2 weeks ago they offered an Ashiatsu massage at the The Massage Center in Dudley Square.

What exactly is Ashiatsu massage?   According to
"Ashiatsu" literally means foot (ashi) pressure (atsu) in Japanese.  Yep, I paid someone to walk all over me!  And honestly, it was one of the best massages I have ever had.  

Like most massages you go sans clothes.  They keep you modestly covered up with a sheet although this was the first one I have had that involved a half moon pose if you get my drift.   

She started with my upper back & shoulders.  Before hand we joked about someone coming in with with big 'ole work boots & some nasty feet.  Fortunately this wasn't the case.  She had nice soft feet.  I guess that makes sense, you wouldn't get a lot of repeat business if you didn't.  After a few minutes working on my back she called me 'ropey'.  Hmmm, never been called that before. 

Next she had me put my arm behind my back.  This made me really nervous because of all the issues I have had with my shoulders.  Surprisingly it felt really good.  I could actually feel my back loosening up.  

She then moved to my legs.  She did a similar thing with my leg that she did with my arm.  With the leg bent she proceeded to walk on my IT band.  WOW, I have never had anyone walk on my IT band before & holy smokes did that a hurts so good type of way.  I have been having some pain in my right hip from the increased cycling distances.   It is now a few hours after the massage & my hip is not hurting at all.  I can rotate it all around with no pain.  Nice!

After about 45 minutes she had me flip over on to my back where she worked on my neck for a while....this time with her hands.  She found some really tender areas in my neck including a muscle knot.  She worked on that for a while and the good news is my upper back/neck have more mobility now than when I went in.  Hopefully it will last more than a few hours!

Overall, this has been the best Groupon massage to date.  I will most certainly being going back.  If you are in Lexington, her name is Leslee Garman & she can be found at The Massage Center

Here is an actual picture of the ceiling contraption.  I wish I could have seen her in action!


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