Not much. Baffling as to why one would want to do either, but running a marathon is only slightly less disgusting.
Good Lord, girl, where have you been?
Training, training, training!
Didn't I tell you, there's a triathlon and a marathon to get ready for!!
I'm sure I've said this before, but blogging is sometimes like going to the dentist -- you know you have to do it, but you put it off and put it off, and then there's jsut too much work to do when you finally go.
I'm sure I've also said this, but I will try to post shorter, more frequent posts. But not this one. This one may turn out to be super-long.
First and foremost, the most important reason we're all here -- I would like to announce that as of today, I have raised approximately
goal for both the marathon and the triathlon.
Due to unpopular demand -- folks not wanting me to put their names out on the interwebs -- I am suspending the listing of the Fred's Team Honor Roll, although believe me, I've got it here with me.
Please help me honor the memory and fight of Prince Liam the Brave by helping to ensure that no child ever again has to suffer from neuroblastoma and other deadly childhood cancers. It couldn't be easier -- all you have to do is click here to go to my triathlon page, or here to go to my marathon page. The money that you donate goes to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research.
And let me tell you, I am earning every penny of your donations this year.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of each discipline, since I don't have the Buckeye Outdoors link on my site anymore -- and I think I should get it back, because the Training Peaks software that Fred's Team now uses, though a good program, does not have the linking capability to the blog that I was hoping for -- a brief overview of the schedule:
Monday -- swim
Tuesday -- run
Wednesday -- bike
Thursday -- run
Friday -- off
Saturday -- long run + swim
Sunday -- long bike
Can you believe I used to be a pack-a-day smoker?
First off, I am swimming. And by swimming, I mean not drowning for half an hour at a time. Which admittedly is hard to do in a pool that's only 17 yards long and 4 feet deep (NYSC pool in the Crowne Plaza, or whatever hotel that is). I have been working hard with the drills and the endurance, but until yesterday, I wasn't able to go more than 4 laps at a time without feeling like my heart was going to burst. It doesn't matter how long or how fast you can run, swimming uses a set of muscles -- and apparently a set of lungs -- that you don't normally use anywhere else. I have discovered that as long as I sidestroke, I can go for at least half an hour, which is what I was expecting the swim portion to be for me. So I had planned to do that.
However, I have been told by many people who've done this particular tri that the water in the Hudson River is at least 2 knots, and you are swimming with the current. If you put your arms in front of you, you will go point to point in 28 minutes. Additionally, I took my first open-water swim class, and after learning which is the correct way to put one's wetsuit on -- zipper in the back, and yes, I AM the only person in the world not to know that! -- and realizing just how bouyant and fast you become while wearing one, I think I might have to do more crawling and less sidestroke. That, plus the instructor kept saying to beware of the frog-kickers, and that would be me. I am feeling better about that, and also yesterday in the pool, I managed to do multiple sets of six consecutive laps, which I've never been able to do before. Okay, so it's only 100 yards at a time, and I'm going to need to do 15 times that to get through the swim portion, but I'm just looking to get through the swim portion.
Some other things I learned during the open-water swim class -- the wetsuit does not keep you dry. Water definitely gets in there, especially since I have a sleeveless one that I think is maybe a half-size too big for me. On the other hand, water also gets out, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Also, the ocean is very, very salty. I drank enough of it not to need extra sodium -- including electrolytes for my run -- for the next three days following. Something tells me the Hudson is not going to be nearly so "tasty."
Biking, one would think, would be much easier to take. Alas, not so. After spending nearly $900 on my bike, a Cannondale Synapse Women's Alloy 7 Sora, and learning to understand all those gears and how they shift, I discovered the one place Cannondale really skimps, and that's the seat. I was under the impression that, seeing as this is a woman's bike, that they would provide a woman-specific seat. Apparently they do, but it must be for a woman with no genitalia. I was wearing bike shorts on my rides -- which for the uninitiated is a pair of shorts with basically a Depends sewn in the crotch -- and was still getting such pains in the female parts that after my first 18-miler, I bled for two days (TMI, part of the process).
So back to Toga for a better bike seat, and an introduction to Chamois Cream, which is a cooling cream for one's, um, chamois. Apply directly to affected areas -- apparently things feel better if you wear the shorts without underwear. And amazingly, they do! Although why there is menthol in the cream, I don't know. Some parts of the body don't need to be mentholated.
I've been having palpitations about what to wear under the wetsuit for the bike and run legs. I was super-worried about tri shorts, given that I can barely stand riding in the bike shorts, and tri shorts have only a little bit of padding in the crotch, because you're also supposed to do the run in them. My friend and Teammate Abby suggested I do what she did, which was wear running shorts, and pull the bike shorts over the top for the bike leg. That was the plan.
Then yesterday, I discovered that I indeed had a pair of tri shorts that I unwittingly bought in last year's Jackrabbit post-Thanksgiving sales frenzy (where I also picked up the wetsuit for under $100, btw). So yesterday's experiment -- 18+ miles in tri shorts, no undies, to simulate the bike leg. And believe it or not, I did 23 miles in those shorts and it didn't feel too terrible! Of course, when I got off the bike my back seized up and my left arm had gone numb, but I can't attribute that to the shorts. So it looks like we might have a winner!
The other thing I have taken the plunge with is to buy and use clip bike shoes. They have a clip on the ball of the shoe that clip into the bike pedals. The idea is that you are helping to move the bike both by pulling up and pushing down on the pedals, which makes you go faster, and also helps with the hills. I was initially scared to use them, as I had visions of not being able to take my foot off the pedals and falling over. Turns out, it is extremely easy to unclip one's foot from the pedal -- as long as one remembers that one's foot is clipped onto the pedal. My first foray out with the shoes was a jaunt up to the GW Bridge and back, a nice, long and fairly flat ride up the West Side of Manhattan. The only problem is there is one section where you have to leave the path along the river and head into the city streets for two blocks. There is a stop sign where you cross from the street back onto the bike path. I got to the stop sign, stopped, and tried to pick my foot off the pedal. Why can't I lift -- wait a minute -- and then plop, over I went. Scraped knee and banged wrist -- that freaked me out, because as a stenographer, I can't afford to mess up my hands -- but otherwise, I'm no longer scared of falling over on the bike. And now I remember that my feet are clipped to the pedals. Duh.
Here's an observation I have as a runner-who-bikes: as a runner, you have to be aware of your surroundings, but as long as you're not running a race, it's okay to sort of "check out" every once in a while, you know, let your mind wander. You cannot do that on a bike. You have to be 100 percent aware 100 percent of the time, and it's so scary sometimes to be in Central Park and have to ride amongst the hundreds of bike-renting tourists and others who do not ascribe to that edict. Here in NYC, there's a huge business -- legit and otherwise -- in renting bicycles to folks to cruise Central Park and also Riverside Park. Why is it that people who clearly do not ride bicycles in whatever city or country they live in decide that a great way to see Central Park is to do so on a barely-working rental bike? They ride in packs of 10 abreast, oftentimes the wrong way (you are only supposed to go counter-clockwise on a bike in Central Park, just as with cars), usually without helmets, and doing things that people who would have enough common sense to fill a thimble wouldn't do, like stop at the bottom of the Great Hill when other cyclists are barrelling down that hill at 30+ miles per hour -- or even better, make a sharp turn across the roadway in that exact same spot. Or just stop randomly in the middle of the road. And my favorite of all -- TEXTING while on a bicycle. Apparently this woman must be a doctor informing her colleagues of an important medical decision that must be made immediately and could not possibly wait long enough for her to even pull off to the side of the road. Or maybe she's just an idiot. Either one.
The lower loop of the Park, below 72nd Street, is where the biggest number of tourist clogs and difficulties lie. As I was setting off on loop #4 of the Park yesterday -- and I was originally planning to do 3 full loops and then one or two lower loops -- I was riding around packs of tourists and others. I have found that "Coming through, coming through" as I ride works, because "on your right" and "on your left" doesn't work when the people don't speak English. At least the sound of my voice alerts them that I am passing by. So I'm trying to pass one woman who keeps drifting to the right as I am passing her there, and I'm saying "Coming through, coming through," and she's not paying attention and about to crash into me, so I go "Coming through, COMING THROUGH!!!" which wakes her up. She stops drifting and says to me, "Shut up." !! So as I pass her, I yell, "Watch where you're going and I'll shut up!" My righteous fervor led me to do a five-mile loop, since I was not about to ride on the lower loop any more than I had to, now that I had a mortal enemy. So thanks, biking idiot, for giving me my longest and fastest ride to date.
Running -- ah, running. Well, at least I sort of know how to do this. I'm a little concerned about the run portion of the tri, even if it's only a 10K, because it's mostly uphill, and goes the hard (clockwise) way around the Park. I know I'll make it. The question is merely, in what shape will that be? Upright, I hope.
My new not-so-secret weapon on the run are salt packets. Just little salt packets from the deli. I sweat like a moose when I run, regardless of the weather, so it's important that I maintain my electrolytes. Before every run I drink water with a Nuun electrolyte tablet dissolved in it -- love them! --- and for a long, hot run, I'll also take an S-Cap, which is another form of electrolytes. But along with gels and Gatorade, I'll also chew on a salt packet -- just like a stick of gum -- once or twice during the course of a run. As icky as it sounds, it works for me. For 10K or less, if I feel I need it, I'll have some salt about halfway through. For 10K or more, I use about the same formula as gels -- every 45 minutes to an hour -- unless I'm using gels that have extra sodium. Then I'll just take the gel, and hold the salt unless I feel I really need it.
And yes, I am still running in Vibrams, even though my many attempts to get Vibrams to sponsor even a fraction of my events were for naught. For naught, I say! I still love those damn shoes, and will wear them for the run portion of the tri and also the marathon, but you know, not even a "thanks but no thanks" from them. Does that cheese you off, too? Write them, at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know. Which is another reason why I switched to bike shoes -- and why I'm eying those Saucony Kinvaras...
In addition to the tri training, the Team began marathon training a few weeks ago. Our long runs are up to 11 miles. It's been over a year since I've gone over 8 miles, and it's both joyful and painful to get back up to the double digits. I had to take an ice bath after our first nine-miler. How far we have fallen! We start our Tuesday-Thursday sessions soon, but work will prevent me from doing most of the Thursday dates because of work. If there's one thing I hate to do without the Team, it's the Thursday workout, because those are stair workouts and they can be brutal. I don't think I will slack -- Liam doesn't deserve a slacker-- but without the Team there, I am afraid of not working as hard or as long as I should be. But we will make do.
Okay, nearly long enough. One small observation before we go -- I did my volunteer race during a rainstorm. When you do that, NYRR gives you one of those orange and white rain ponchos that you see the folks at the water stations wear during the marathon. While initially excited about receiving the coat, I was soon disillusioned. A decently constructed raincoat wouldn't have stood a chance in this rain, and this one didn't keep me even remotely dry, but it didn't even keep me warm, which is an unusual thing for a coat constructed of non-breathable plastic. And here's why -- it's glued together with what must be Elmer's School Glue, because by the time I got home, the hood had ripped off and the sleeves had mostly disconnected from the body. So not such a great giveaway after all, but I still have it, for some unknown reason.
Okay! Done for now. Donate, donate, donate!! And off for a run!