Saturday, October 29, 2005


Yup, moving again. We're now in Oklahoma for a few days. When it looked like, aw, crap, another wooded campground, no signal, we thought, we'll stay overnight and move on. But we checked all the available sites, and on this one Steve found a hole through the trees in just the right place, and we're in business.

And I have tried running again, this evening. After my 28 minutes the other day, my quads hurt for 3, count 'em, 3 days. Today they are OK and I did a cautious 15 minutes. If OK tomorrow, I'll do a cautious 20. But we have plans for kayaking, and also maybe some hiking. Now that we've decided to stay a few days!!

I have got to get running again. RNR Arizona is in less than 3 months.

Steve is building a campfire. Guess I'll go out. Maybe take my guitar.

Oh, yes, that reminds me!!! Our son Jonathan tried out for Nashville Star today! They were doing preliminary auditions in Morgantown, WV, which is about 40 miles from where he lives. He's been playing and singing country music in his living room for a couple years now and his wife, Jamie, urged him to go to the tryouts. He even bought a new guitar for it. He had 30 seconds and a list of tunes to pick from. He practiced up "Amarillo By Morning" and sounded really good, but they had over 500 hopefuls and only 20 spots and.... Jon didn't make it in. I mean, a lot of those singers do it professionally in bands, bars and wherever. This is the first time Jon's moved out of the living room. But I gotta hand it to him... it took real guts!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I'm trying again. This is the third time today.

We went kayaking for a couple hours today on Lake Taneycomo (what kind of name is that for a lake??) past Bronson, MO. Nice trip. There were great blue herons which took off from the water and flapped huge winge over our heads.

Yesterday I ran a couple miles -- 2, 2.5, maybe 3 but I doubt it -- 28 minutes anyway, hilly local roads. Today my quads are killing me. I hadn't run for about 10 days because even short runs were giving me sore quads and I figured I wasn't recovered from Chesapeakeman and I'd take a break. Now I'm sore from running after a 10-day layoff. CM was over 3 weeks ago... I doubt it would still be making me sore.

The signal held out long enough to send it! Whoopee! Now watch, I'll lose it with this one.

I'm going to try publishing this... hope it works.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


AARRRGGGHHH.... this is my second try at this entry. The first one got lost between composing and posting... "Page cannot be displayed, cannot find server..."

The campground here in Hollister, MO, assigned us a site with a nice shot at the southern sky except for the tree on the neighboring site, which blocks all reception angles from our site. Luckily, there's cable TV and yfi. My own computer doesn't receive yfi, but Steve's does; however, the service is s-l-o-w and spotty. Sometimes we can connect, sometimes not.

We had better be someplace with reliable signal on the morning of November 6, because I will SCREAM if I can't log on resulting in missing registration for IM Florida 2006. I will just have to find some friendly homeowner willing to let me use theirs, or something.

"Home," Garrett County, MD, is in the national news this morning, on both CNN and The Weather Channel, because of a foot of snow. Power is out and schools are closed. Snow and winter weather are what put Garrett County, MD on the map. Vacationers in a 200-mile radius know about Deep Creek Lake, but it's weather that gets the area national attention once a year or so. And here I am in Missouri where the temperature is expected to be in the 60'sF today. We got frost last night but that doesn't count for this snow-lover. I want to be back where heavy snow is covering the autumn leaves.

Hold your breaths, folks... I'm about to click "Publish Post" and hope I don't lose this a second time.


Monday, October 24, 2005


Whoo-eeee. I found the control panel for my computer, and changed to Central Time. Without asking Steve how to do it! AND succeeded in copying this web image to my files and then to my blog. All by myself. I scare myself. I know I can supposedly copy a web image directly, but I haven't made THAT much progress.

And now I'm going to bed, because although my newly-reset computer says it's 9:46pm, my body clock says it's 10:46. My rough calculations tell me I've probably spent 4 hours using the computer this evening. Tomorrow I start timing. And then deciding where to go from there. If anywhere.


...thank goodness. The campground where we stayed for 3 days in Kentucky was nice, tree-covered, but "shaded" means "no satellite for TV or internet." We watched a few movies on DVD, read a lot, and went to bed early. It amazed us to learn how TV and the internet alter our lives.

I'll have to ponder this. I know I easily spend 3 hours a day on email and other internet activity. Starting tomorrow I'm going to run my stopwatch to time exactly how much time it really is.

Too late to start today... I've already put in a good amount of time, catching up on 3 days' worth of email, and most of that I just skimmed, picking out the urgent, saving the rest for later. And I have things I've thought of the last 3 days that I want to look up on the internet. I'm going to start making a list.

The time on my watch, above, isn't the time I spent doing anything; it's just the time of day... Central Daylight Time, since we're now in Missouri. We're staying in Charleston, in a commercial community called "Boomland," which boasts "One of THE LARGEST SELECTIONS OF FIREWORKS IN THE WORLD" just like that, bold caps with that teeny-tiny disclaimer before it, so you can't see it till you're up close. Too funny. It is a huge fireworks place, though. As big as a good-sized grocery store. Maybe not a Super Wal-Mart, but a large grocery store. The other half, which is twice as big, is all kinds of theme-based statues and baubles... Native American, Mexican, Southwestern, pigs, eagles, dragons, cedar boxes, horses, woodland critters... I picked up a dragon scupture to test its weight (considering how hard it would be to mail for Christmas), and caused it to drop a large heavy glass globe it was holding, which rolled off and struck a dragon-claw statuette, which fell to the floor in several pieces. ~Sigh~ I offered to pay for it (it was only $2.99) but they didn't accept. Maybe I'll find one on the internet and have the company mail it. That way we won't have to carry it around till we happen on a post office, and wrap and mail it ourselves.

The internet... can't live with it, can't live without it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Here's my funky-different Ironman tattoo, just above my ankle! I didn't want the typical M-dot because it wasn't an M-dot race. So I had to doctor it to convey the message without being the actual trademark. A black-eyed Susan, Maryland's state flower, seemed appropriate. I got one off the Internet that wasn't too perfect, missing a few pieces and a little off-center, not quite what people would expect... like me. The artist said it will brighten up and be clearer as it heals.

I got it on my left leg, to be more visible those who pass me on the bike and run, and on their return from an out-and-back where I'm still on my out trip.

What I didn't realize till I saw the picture is... do I really have all those freckles on my legs??? I had no idea.

The artist himself was a trip. Really, really nice guy, clean-cut looking and sounding. He had the radio tuned to a Christian station, which was the last thing I expected to hear in a tattoo studio. He wore a t-shirt printed with one of those name tags you wear at a meeting, the stick-on kind that says, "Hello! I'm..." and in the name space was the word "Forgiven." We talked theology while he did my tattoo.

And yes, I was satisfied with all the pathogen-precautions, cleanliness and technique. I'm a nurse and it all met the standards I have learned and practiced myself.

I went through a few thoughts of, "Suppose I don't want this anymore later in life," but then realized, hey, this IS later in life... I'm already more than halfway through my life. Even if I don't stay in triathlon till I'm 80, I'll always have this emblem that says, "I DID IT!!!"

Monday, October 17, 2005


Geez, a half-hour run this morning, and I've got sore quads again. And I'm really tired. Guess it's going to take a while to bounce back... or climb back.... or crawl back....


We finally made family history last night and got a picture of my mother, the oldest living member of her family, with all of her descendants. It took some doing, getting them all together in one place at one time, but we finally have it. We had to wait for Avery (in black) to get home from work, which made Gracie (front left) and Collin (front right) way late going to their dad's, who had them for the night and school the next day; he said "Have 'em ready for bed and send them over the minute they're done," so Gracie's hair is still wet from her shower and they're in their pajamas. Jon (back row), Abbie (on his lap) and Jamie had brought my mother for a one-day overnight trip 250 miles. They were leaving the next morning at 7 to make Abbie's twice-yearly appointment with her cardiologist on their way back. What a whirlwind! I wish the ones in the front row, especially me, had been able to be farther away from the camera. Why on earth didn't I have Abbie sit with the other kids in front and put myself on the sofa with the grownups? I look like a giant. And of course 9-yr-old Collin had to make dorky faces at the camera in every shot. But we finally got it: my mother, her only child (me), my 3 children, and their kids, all in one place.

ID's, left to right:
Front: Gracie, me, Collin
Back: Jon with Abbie, Avery, my mother, Valerie

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Just so you're not confused now when you come to my blog... I'm changing the title. My husband wrote "Against the Wind" on my bike shorts for ChesapeakeMan to cheer me on and I'm going to use that for my title. I'm still me! And if I've changed my template, too, by the time you get here, and have a new look, well, I'm always changing things around in my life, trying to get it perfect....

I'm keeping my URL and address the same as it was, for now, so you don't have to change your links....


Today is a big day. Nancy and *jeanne* are running the Baltimore Marathon. Shelley and Cathy are doing Kona, Flatman is doing a 15-miler. Yesterday Holly ran 16 miles and is running the Marine Corps Marathon soon. Linae is doing the Great Floridian Half Ironman next week. Dawn ran a wonderful race last night. In fact, Dawn told me she ran 15K last week with no walking, inspiried by my my recent triathlon! If I can be some kind of inspiration to my fellow athletes, and all my fellow humans... then it doesn't seem so "about me" to do this marathon and triathlon stuff.

But this week I'm out of steam. We're here in Ohio, near Columbus, visiting our two married daughters and their immediate and blended families. There's been so much family stuff I haven't been online, haven't been in contact, nor have my running shoes been in contact with the road.

I'm out of steam, but I'm borrowing spirit from all these friends today to get me out there. I'll be checking throughout the day to see how my Kona friends are doing. I've checked the Baltimore Marathon site to see if there's live athlete-tracking but don't see any :-( But I'm putting on my shorts and leashing up my dog and going out there for an hour. I haven't moved my body for almost a week. During my taper week I itched to move, even when I felt sick. During the week after ChesapeakeMan I itched to move, and did so, as soon as my legs weren't stiff anymore. This week, I'm feeling sluggish and unmotivated. I don't want to bother.

If my friends can do it, I can do it. All of you are doing more than running for yourselves.... you're running for each other, you're running for the world, you're running for life, you're running for me. Each of us has a message of strength and courage built into our running. And the rest of us are grateful.

6 miles, 1:02, the first 3 miles felt good, but then as soon as I turned around I found out I'd had a tailwind. Fairfield County, OH, unlike Garrett and Dorchester Counties in MD, has logical winds: tailwind on the way out becomes headwind on the way back. Anyway, the return trip was harder. I struggled the last mile. This afternoon I took a nap and I kind of ache. I think I still haven't recovered fully from ChesapeakeMan. But I ran!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Top: Chain-link fence where visitors have left tokens of remembrance and gratitude. Hats, flowers, school projects, lapel pins, t-shirts, necklaces, stuffed animals...

Center: Fire-and-rescue personnel all over the country have given helmets representing their stations,

Bottom: Flags over wooden angel cut-outs (above)bearing the name of each person aboard Flight 93 -- the flight that fought back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ooh, ooh, ooh, lookin' out my back door...

Very pretty view as we open the door of our camper here outside Somerset, PA. The sky has cleared and these are prettier than the shots I posted earlier, which had white skies.

Later today son Jon, his wife Jamie, and their daughter Abbie are meeting us for a trip down to Shanksville (site of Flight 93 crash.) We've been there a couple times but Jon and Jamie have not. We're only about 50 miles from "home."

Monday, October 10, 2005


Yesterday I posted Journey's "Rottweiler" look. These shots, however, are her "hound dog" look.

Any guesses as to her lineage? You can click on the photos for a larger view. She's about 50 pounds, a little smaller than the average Lab.

Not aggressive, but will take on a dog that dares her. She also puts on a great "Stay the hell away from my owner" act, which is respected by humans, since she looks like a Rott when excited and is far from being a small dog. But she's a pussycat with people who pet her, dogs who want to play, children, babies, and... pussycats. She loves our cat Annie, who lies with her giving her tongue baths. Annie never showed any fear of Journey from the moment we brought her in (fully-grown.) She just kind of rolled her eyes like, "Oh, great, a new dog." Journey's reaction was a shug and "Oh, I see you have a cat. What's in this other room?" Oh, and bunnies. Someone had a pet bunny tied out in their yard, and I crept Journey closer inch by inch, restraining her, till close enough for her to sniff it. She and the bunny sniffed noses, then she got down on her elbows play-style and wagged her tail, then lay down with her chin on her paws in that "pleading" pose, eyes shining, tail wagging. "Please play with me..." The bunny showed no fear at all, only curiosity.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Here's my running buddy, bodyguard and chief cheering section. Per the title of my blog, she's one of my "Journeys." My journey through life, my journeys through all the states with my husband, my journey through my head; and my dog, Journey. Journey's a pound mutt of uncertain heritage. She looks like a Rotteweiler but if there's Rott in there, there's something else much smaller and softer, with white markings (including toes and tail tip.) She's not even as large as a regular-size Lab. We have thought there's some kind of hound in there, beagle or coonhound (she tracks.) And maybe German Shepherd Dog -- her tail is kind of bushy and she sheds in gobs from her haunches like a shepherd. She's so soft her hair feels almost like a cat's fur, her ears like silky blanket binding. Who knows? She's one of a kind, whatever she is. Her ancestors probably haven't included a purebred dog for many generations.

Actually she's not my chief cheering section... my friends are!!! But I'd like to watch my friends jump up and down and whirl around in circles when I say, "You wanna run?" And look hopeful when they see me changing my clothes, and get ecstatic when they see the running shoes going on :-)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Well, I tried to post another photo and whatever I did right, including changing my format, isn't working now. I'm back to my problem of not being able to click successfully on the "Add Image" icon. I click and nothing happens. Any input? It worked right after I re-did my whole blog to a new format but now it's not working. I found also that I needed to close every single window I had open and start afresh connecting to my blog in order to post pictures... but that isn't working now either. I need someone looking over my shoulder telling me what to do. I've tried switching from "Edit Html" to "Compose" and back again. I've tried clicking the image icon before posting anything including the title. I've cleared cookies on my browser. (Whatever a browser is.)

Anyway... I did succeed in uploading a profile portrait and one picture. It's a start.

MY FINISH PIC (hopefully)

I did it, I did it! Added a picture! HOOYAH!!!

I still don't have it right, though. I got it from Nancy's blog. When I tried to get it from the SAME SOURCE she got it from, it came out blank with a little X, and when I clicked on that I got "URL not supported" or something. But I was able to upload it from Nancy's posted image.

Maybe if I want to post pictures, I'll send them to Nancy, have her load them to her blog, and patch them in from there :-)

Friday, October 07, 2005


So here we are in the famed Intercourse, PA... had dinner this evening in neighboring Bird-In-Hand. We went over to Strasburg to the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater for a performance of the production Ruth, which was entertaining but a little hokey and had the flavor of a Billy Graham crusade. I love the story of Ruth in the Bible and think her encounter with Boaz, engineered by her mother-in-law Naomi, is one of the funniest get-togethers ever put together in words. The play did do a good job with that but omitted Boaz's capper, "The Lord bless you! This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier!" (Ruth 3:10) Which, loosely paraphrased, is "Thank you God! This girl is even better than I would have thought!"
The area is riddled with tour buses. We see gaggles of tourists everywhere taking pictures of farmhouses and barns. A sign advertises "Genuine Amish Experience." A group of cabins boasts "Amish Village Tours."
You can't have "Genuine Amish Experience" by hitching a buggy ride. And the Amish don't live in villages. Hutterites do, but Amish don't.
I object to folks driving around gawking at the Amish as if they were zoo animals.
I object to the exploitation of their way of life and belief system as a curiosity. To be sure, a whole bunch of the gift shops are Amish-owned and run. But they exude an aura of stewardship and humility. They don't blatantly advertise themselves.
I felt like kicking myself when I was out biking just as the schools were letting out (there's a school every few miles), and wished I had my camera with me to catch the kids with their long dresses and baggy pants and bonnets and straw hats carrying, not traditional school lunch boxes, but Playmate coolers. And riding bikes. I would have loved to have a shot of a group of a dozen Amish boys and girls riding their bikes home from school.
See? I want a picture of the cute Amish kids carrying coolers and burning up the road on their bikes. I'm doing it too.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Fish Died...

.... and I'm really sad. His name was Fish. I've had him for over a year and he has traveled everywhere with us, in our RV. He's lived in a clear plastic storage jar with stones from Lake Superior and pretty silk plants. When we've been moving I've screwed the lid onto the jar and put him in the sink. When we were parked he lived on the dining table. Whenever we sat there he'd come to the side of the jar and wag his tail and fins happily, and I'd feed him.

The worst of it is, I poisoned him. There were algae growing in his jar, and I transferred him to a new home, a pretty pickle jar. I cleaned the Lake Superior stones and silk plants with a household cleaner containing chlorine bleach, to kill the algae, and rinsed them very, very well, extremely well. I waited until I was sure he had adjusted to his new pickle jar and clean water (I use distilled water for fish and it never hurts them) without adverse effects, two or three days, and then put the stones and plants back in, yesterday. This morning he was sick. Lethargic. I took him out of the jar and put him in clean distilled water. He languished for a while and then appeared to be better, moving around more but still not himself. I aerated his water by dipping some up in a shotglass and pouring it back in to make bubbles, to make more oxygen available to him. I put him into new distilled water every couple hours, hoping that osmosis would transfer the poison out of him (as my eye doctor recommended once when I got something on my contact lenses.) But just as we were starting supper he sank to the bottom of his dish and stopped trying. I am so sad. I liked my fish and he has traveled over 10,000 miles with us. Hardly anyone takes a pet fish with them when they live and travel full-time in an RV. I've never seen anyone else with a fish.

I could cry. And it was just a fish, for petesake.
Just a fish...

Crisfield, MD

One of the things we did in the days before ChesapeakeMan was visit Crisfield, MD.
There's not a whole lot there except boat docks, gift shops, and restaurants, but there will be before long, as we saw several high-rise hotels and/or condos under construction.
I wanted to go to Crisfield because it figures prominently in the second half of one of my favorite books, Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. It's a novel about a family of kids abandoned by their mother who travel mostly on foot from Connecticut to southern Maryland to find a grandmother who doesn't know they exist. It's also a great TV movie with Bonnie Bedelia and Anne Bancroft, which shows fairly frequently on Lifetime, the Lifetime Movie Channel, and the Hallmark Channel. I enjoyed reading the book to my children years ago, and I catch the movie about once a year (and recorded it in case they ever stop running it) because I so admire the spirit, honesty, and good sense of the 13-yr-old girl who keeps her family together, and the grandmother who... well, I won't spoil it for you.
While in Crisfield we went to the historical museum where I was able to purchase not only Homecoming but its sequel, Dicey's Song,  which I hadn't read before -- and this second book has me seriously re-evaluating my self-image. Again, the same girl, Dicey, and the grandmother (oops, spoiler, if she appears in the sequel they must still be in contact with her, at least....)  When I turned 50, I had an emotional turnaround that told me, I have lived 50 years, I deserve respect, I am an adult, it's time to stop groveling and time for people to stop expecting me to. Over the next 3 years I remembered that some of the time but have slipped back a good deal of the time into doing what I think other people want me to do.  This book has been an elbow in the ribs saying, "Hey, remember??? You don't grovel! You don't cave!"
The characters are fiction but the places are real. The roads the children traveled, the towns they went through, are real. It was especially enjoyable to read Homecoming while staying on Maryland's Eastern Shore because we drove those same roads and went to those places. I love going to places where a movie was made or book was written, and getting the movie or book while there. I did this in all of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, when we visited all those homesites a few years back. At each place, I bought the book she had written about living in that place.
Although they're presented as "young adult" books, my kids enjoyed our reading Homecoming together at around age 9; the youngest child in the story is 6, and would interest a child that young, but the abandonment issue might disturb them. 12-yr-olds and teens would really enjoy them. But I urge you to read Homecoming and especially  Dicey's Song as adults (especially women), for the insight they provide into the conflicts people face between their private minds and the public face they show to the world, and for their profound conveying of respect for individuals' thoughts, needs, purposes, and desires. Dicey's Song stirred me profoundly. I'm going to read it again, to learn more about the way I want my life to be, the kind of person I want to be. The kind of mother and grandmother I want to be. And wife... being a wife is touched on peripherally in the stories, not directly. And woman. Definitely the kind of woman. The grandmother is simultaneously the kind of person you do and don't want to be. A fascinating person.
Read these books!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


And it's about as long as race day was. But....
Pre-race: Excited and happy, but not nervous. Nancy did my body-marking and that was a really nice personal plus -- my body-marker was my good friend. Number 768 on both arms, age 53 on my calf (I love it that younger guys can see my age when I pass them), "V" on both hands -- "Virgin," Nancy explained. I figured that under my gloves, diluted with sweat, those "V's" would be gone by the end of the day, which was very fitting. She also put Vaseline on the places I couldn't reach, sea-nettle protection. Sleeveless wetsuit, you see.
Swim start: On time, en masse, although I hung back and started when I was beyond reach of getting kicked, run over, or cussed at. We had to swim over the sea-nettle net and then we were thrown to the wolves (more on that.) A hundred yards or so out, past the dock where Nancy was leaning over the rail cheering me on, left turn and we were out to sea. Well, river.
Murky, nearly-opaque, semi-salt water. Bright buoys, plus canoes, kayaks, jet-ski's, lifeboats, even cabin cruisers, every hundred yards or so, impossible to go off course. Warm water. Within the first 5 minutes, the first silky caress of sea-nettle tentacles on my bare inner forearm ... damn!! Ouch! Right through the Vaseline! Well, it just itches and burns a little. I'll live. Oof, there's another one. Ouch. I ran into one at least every minute or two. With most I just felt the head and slapped them out of the way, or kicked them (they don't seem to sting hand or foot skin.) Little ones didn't penetrate the Vaseline, but larger ones got wrapped around my arms with their burning itching sting. But I was swimming well and apparently not going anaphylactic or anything, so what was one to do besides keep on going and getting out of there? I certainly was not going to flag a boat and whimper, "I got stung by a jellyfish" when everyone else was up against the same thing (at least those in sleeveless wetsuits, and one brave girl who wore just a swimsuit.)
Swim finish: 1:25:06!!!! Are you kidding me??? God gave us outgoing tide to make up for the sea-nettle curse. EVERYONE beat their expectations by about 20 minutes. I did a happy-dance on the chip mat.
T1:  Drying off, changing clothes. Meat tenderizer on my itching, burning arms. It must take a while to help. Potty break for the road. Time 11:09.
Miles 1-7 or so: Flat, slight headwind, average 18.5mph, there's supposed to be almost no wind so after the turnaround I'll be flying.
Miles 8-15 or so: I thought we were going into the headwind on the way out? A guy passes me and calls out the same question, so I know it's not just me. My arms still itch and burn from the sea nettles.
Mile 20: A "saddle sore" problem I got a few weeks ago wearing the wrong shorts is starting to tell me it's not healed up yet. Hmmm.
Mile 22: Wonder if I can do a saddle-sore jiffy-lube on the fly? Leaning on my aero's, opening my Vaseline tube, squeezing some onto my fingers, slowing to 12.5, wobbling some on the bike... a van comes along, oh great, the RD. "Hey, Ellie, what's going on, you taking a vacation or something?" I abandon the jiffy-lube idea.
25: OK, "uncle." Stop in a porta-pot and put about a quarter of a cup of vaseline you-know-where. Better.
30: Touring the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge now. There will be 2 loops of this. Now and then I pass a biker but they are few and far between. I was 3rd to last out of the water so there's practically no one left out here. Scenery is lovely but kind of passive.... flat, marsh grasses, tide pools.
40: So where's the Wildlife? I have seen one egret and a lot of roadkill (raccoons, possums, something that could be either a fox or a fawn, too dilapidated to tell.) They should call it the WildDeath Refuge.
50: Washboard Road. That's not its name but it should be. My husband better not want any "whatnot" for a month. This hurts.
60: Birdwatchers with long-range binocs peering out into the marsh. I slow down and call, "Anything good?" Hey, if there's an eagle or something, I wanna see it. "Just some yellowlegs, shorebirds." Nah, that's not worth getting off the bike for. Especially now that the road has smoothed out.
DID I MENTION THAT THE PREDICTION OF 7mph BREEZES WAS, NO DOUBT, A RUSE TO KEEP US FROM WORRYING??? It is friggin' WINDY out here!!!! My average has dropped to 16.5. I can't get the bike over 16 and frequently not over 14. And, as back home in Garrett County, MD, the headwind persists no matter which arc of the loop I'm on. The omnipresent, omnidirectional headwind has followed me here. Contrary to the belief of Western Marylanders, Garrett County is not the only place on earth where you can do an out-and-back or loop course and have a headwind the whole time.
My "saddle area" hurts. My arms still hurt from the sea-nettles and I ride one-handed and scratch with the other, alternating. The meat tenderizer did not work, although it is what they said to use. Now at aid stations everyone is telling me I should have used vinegar. I itch badly.
Mile 70: Special-Needs Stop!! Yay! I don't need much, just refills on my peanut bars (Lance brand, that must mean something), my bottle of iced tea (except it's warm), my homebrew energy gel. The guy with the mike jokes around with me. "So, Ellie Hamilton from ACCIDENT????, Maryland.... what do you have in your special needs bag, if it's anything you can share?" I shoot back, "Share? Forget it. You gotta bring your own lunch. This is mine!!" He laughs. He asks, "What's written all over your shorts, for petesake?" "All the good wishes from my friends." I read some and he repeats them into the mike. "Burn down the miles! We believe in your amazingness! Ellie's gonna be an Ironman! Against The Wind from her husband! And many more too numerous to mention... if you want to read Ellie's shorts, catch her at the finish. And by the way, if you see her age on her leg, Ellie is dyslexic. That's supposed to be 35."  I yell "WOOOHOOO!" and take off again, feeling renewed.
75: Well, that stop helped for about 5 minutes. Ow, this saddle thing is serious. Maybe I'll get a new saddle, a smooth one w/o this strategic pressure-relief cutout... the sides of said cutout are pressing right where my legs.... well, you know. I keep standing up, sitting back on the saddle, stand up, sit back. Ow. And, whoever is sticking a lighted matchstick under my left second toenail, you might as well stop, because whatever you want, I'm not giving it to you.
80: 20 more miles and I'll have a hundred. 20 miles is a piece of cake. Then 12 more. 12 miles is hardly worth putting my bike shoes on for. Except I already have them on. 20 bottles of beer on the wall, 20 bottles of beer....
19 bottles of beer on the wall, 19 bottles of beer....
18 bottles of beer on the wall, 18 bottles of beer....
Washboard Road again. Owowowowowowow..... even if he does want "whatnot" within the next month, I won't need it after all this vibration. Except it hurts. Stand on the pedals. Enjoy the bumpy effect on my voice like a toddler, "Yuhyuhyuhyuhyuhyuhyuh...."
A big Chesapeake Bay retriever patrolling his yard comes stalking down his driveway at me. True stalking, head down, neck thrust forward, gaze intent, tail out behind, legs stiff, gait stealthy. "Dog," I yell, "if you chase me you're dead meat!!!!" Up comes his head. Down goes his tail. Out goes the glint in his eyes. He turns and saunters back to his house. Must have been something in my voice.
15 bottles of beer on the wall... Get me off this bike. I will do anything to get off this bike. Even running a marathon sounds like a plan.
10 bottles of beer on the wall.... I hear gunshots. "Hey, over here, I'm over here!!!" Anything to get off this bike. I see guys out in the marsh shooting skeet. They must be trying to make the best of  there being no wildlife here. Oh, that's right, it's a refuge.... even if there were any wildlife, they couldn't shoot it. Well, they can shoot *me* if they want.... Just get me off this bike. My back hurts now too. The person with the matchstick to my toe gave up, though. I'm tough, I would not tell them anything.
NO BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL!!!! 100 miles!!! Zowie!!!
12 bottles of beer on the wall, 12 bottles of beer.... How long do I have left? Let's see, at 16mph, 12 miles, 16 times 12 is, hmmm, can't figure that one, divide it in half, 8 times 6, 48, double that, 96, an hour and a half? for 12 miles? Nah, that's wrong. How do you do this math? Oh, wait, I'm not doing 12 miles 16 times, I'm doing it at 16mph. Oh. OK. Try again. At 16mph, 12 miles in... Forget it. My math brain got tossed up there with the skeet. OK. If I'm managing, say, roughly 5 minute miles (random figure), 5 times 12 is... 60. 60 miles. No, I only have 12 miles left, what went wrong there? Screw it. I'll just get there when I get there.
10 bottles of beer..
5 bottles of beer...
AND I'M THERE!!!! You can take this bike and throw it in the dumpster, I never want to see it again.
Bike time: 6:53:09, Against The Wind.
T2: Change all my clothes. A metaphorical thing. Exit the tent. No husband. I told him 4pm and I am way ahead of schedule. He's not there yet. He has no idea how well I've done. Or if I'm still out there. Or he heard my thoughts on Washboard Road and has left me. T2 time 6:54.
Walk the first mile. 17 minutes. 25 bottles of beer on the wall....
Miles 2-8: run 5 minutes, walk 2. Except sometimes I walk through the 5 minutes, too.
Mile 9: Screw running. I'm keeping up a brisk smooth walk but I've got a blister coming that hurts when I run. I want to finish this thing.
12: Sing. That will help. I can't think of anything.  Amazing Grace, I can remember that. The 3rd verse is perfect: "Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; 'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." Over and over and over.
14: "I'm a redneck woman, ain't no high-class broad..."
15: "Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya..." (From my friends... remembering their posts about a virtual hand-holding circle around me.... ) "Someone's singing, Lord, kumbaya...."
16: 10 bottles of beer on the wall, 10 bottles of beer....
Tentatively try jogging. Hey, it doesn't feel bad at all. The hot spot on my foot starts again but with 10 more miles, even that's not going to stop me now.
Mile 19: Special Needs. I have no special needs except for a dry bandana, which I cleverly packed. I have blown my nose on my current one so many times it has a life of its own. Steve is there to meet me. He had gotten to the bike finish half an hour early, waited and waited, checked the bike racks, saw mine already racked, and relaxed. I thanked him and didn't tell him about Washboard Road. I hear the loudspeaker announcing finishers but I still have 6.2 miles, an out-and-back. It's 9:30pm. Do you know where your children (wife, husband, Ironman, whoever) is? Quick math. If I walk 15-minute miles with a little jogging I might have an hour and a half left. I tell my husband an hour and a half.
Mile 20: Start jogging again. 6 bottles of beer on the wall... I am able to job without walking. Quick stops at aid stations and jog on. I check my watch and discover a wild chance of hitting 15 hours. Holy $h*t. No way.
22: I pass runners ahead of me, and coming back from their out-and-back, who are trudging,struggling to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe they pushed too hard earlier, or maybe they didn't train enough, or maybe they trained too much, or maybe they are sick today but came out and did it anyway. Whatever is causing their immobility, I don't have it... I feel fine, except for heavy legs, sore quads (I didn't run over 16 miles training), hot spots in both arches, and an icky stomach from where I tried a Cliff Shot and re-learned not to try something new during a race. Saltines and chicken broth at mile 23 fix the nausea. Skip the rest of the aid stations. If I keep running (or whatever you call this) I could, just maybe, just barely break 15 hours. I'll probably just miss it but it's worth a shot. I do not walk anymore. Short, quick steps that don't flex my feet much (blisters in my arches) or make my legs stretch out (hamstrings.)
26: Into the stadium where we have to go 3/4 of the way around. 14:56 by my watch, quickly becoming 14:57.  Crap, even 10-minute pace, which seems impossible, would mean about 2 minutes for 600 yards. AARRGGHH!!!!  NO WAY!!! I can't do it! Yes I can, I will, I'm this close... I put the hammer down. Put the pedal to the metal. One more push.... rounding the curve, I see the clock at 14:58:xx and see I'm going to make it under 15 hours. They're calling my name now, and cheering, and telling me I've broken 15 hours, and I'm waving my arms and then stomping a war dance on the chip mat and Steve is there putting my medal over my head. I didn't see the clock because of my war dance but my watch says 14:58:19. I have done it. Finishing with my head up on two feet RUNNING and doing a war dance at the end!! I am totally amazed.
I'm an Ironman! And it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be....
After: The massage guy talked me into a massage. I was good at first, lying on my belly, but when I turned onto my back I started to shiver. Violently. Teeth chattering. Legs jerking like constant knee-jerk reflexes. I can't stop. I am not cold but my hands are. The massage guy puts my space blanket and 3 cloth ones over me and coaches my breathing. I continue to tremble violently. Steve, a paramedic, counts my pulse (90, not bad) and checks my skin turgor (OK.) I wonder if I needed more sodium out there -- I was aggressive enough with Succeed capsules, I thought, but take 2 more of them with a few gulps of Gatorade (which is ice-cold so I don't want much of it.) I feel mildly anxious and a little dizzy. The massage guy calls the EMT's over (they have only had one patient the whole evening and they all came trooping over like they'd been asked to a keg party) to check my blood pressure. It is OK. Both lying flat and sitting up. I feel better sitting up and my muscles begin to quiet down. Maybe a hot shower. I get a girl (who turns out to be a paramedic and a nurse) to go with me, I don't want to be alone in there. My hands are frostbite-white. The water is not warm enough and I figure it will just make me worse (they must have some kind of anti-litigation, anti-scald device on the showers for the high-school kids.) But I rub myself briskly with towels and blankets and put on my warm sweat clothes. I am better immediately. I guess mostly I needed to get out of my sweaty clothes. That, and maybe the salt capsules are kicking in. But I am able to walk back across the gym, out to the truck, climb into the truck, and stay awake for the 45 minute drive back to the campground. Whatever it was, I got through it.
More: Next day (Sunday) I felt like I'd run a marathon but that was about all. A little tired. A tad sore, like I was undertrained for the marathon. My arms still itched from the sea-nettles.  Awards for first place female 50-54 (I was the only one), champion grand-masters female (over 50... again, I was the only one. A nice clear-glass plaque with the race logo and my place etched on it. A ceramic USAT plaque in a base with a sculpted champion holding arms overhead in victory. A copy of James Michener's epic novel  Chesapeake, which I asked the race director to sign. Plus my medal and finisher's shirt. Plus the ill-fated wetsuit-that-might-not-be.
Day two (Monday): So tired I feel ill. Legs so sore I can hardly move. That mysterious second-day fatigue and soreness, I've had this before. My jellyfish skin is OK now.
Day three (today): I'm fine! Not tired! Not sore! Drove into town (about 45 minutes), did a whole bunch of errands, came home and cleaned out our truck thoroughly, vacuuming, washing vinyl, cleaning the upholstery... I wouldn't want to run a 10K but I feel normal. This whole thing was hard but a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Will I do this again? You bet. I am 95% sure that I will. It was one of the most fun, most satisfying, most challenging, most gratifying things I have ever done. I'm sorry it's over. I want to do it again!
Ellie, jubilant on Maryland's Eastern Shore


Yes, a full report on my race is still forthcoming. Be patient, friends, fellow athletes, and any progeny of mine who may be reading this a hundred years from now.
Fast-forward to awards...
In addition to the finisher's medal and finisher's shirt (yellow, like Lance Armstrong's Yellow Jersey):
Won my age group (female 50-54) -- a very classy curved, beveled glass pane etched with the ChesapeakeMan Ultra Distance Triathlon Logo and Female 50-59 Champion (the age group info said 50-54 but who's counting, I won it.) And a copy of James Michener's epic novel, Chesapeake, which I read maybe 15 years ago and enjoyed to the point of mesmerization.
Won the Female Grand Masters (everyone over 50) award -- a ceramic earthenware-type plaque with the USATriathlon logo, in a holder with a sculpture of a champion with arms raised in victory, and an engraved plate in the base with the legend :
USA Triathlon 2005 Mid Atlantic Regional
 Ultra Distance Championship
Female Grand Masters Champion
AND.... my name was drawn for one of 6 door prizes, each one an X-Terra Triathlon wetsuit.
Well, I called the X-Terra Wetsuit Company and gave them the reference code on the order form I'd been given (it said "Eagle 1"), and they told me that code  had expired. And that I should have a gift certificate, along with the form. And that it was for a $100 discount, not a whole wetsuit. And that the EagleMan race was in June. I said I knew that, but that the race I had just done, where I had received the gift, was ChesapeakeMan, put on by the same organization as EagleMan, and that I had just gotten it on Sunday. This surprised him very much. So I've e-mailed the RD and he's checking into it.
~Sigh~ It's always something... even if the wetsuit deal doesn't pan out, I'm still so happy with my race it doesn't matter. It's not like I have some kind of right to a free wetsuit. That was an unexpected plus. I'll be mildly disappointed if it doesn't fly but I won't be freaked out. (But I bet the RD will if all 6 that were given out turn out to be no good.)
I feel much better today, hardly tired, hardly sore. Went and got my eyelashes dyed, which I've been wanting to try... don't bother unless your lashes are blond or white. I can't see that it made any difference. But that, too, was not an important thing. It cost $20 so it's kind of like anything else you spend twenty bucks on and then turn out not to like all that much. The lady was nice to talk to and when I told her I couldn't see any difference she re-did them. So I left her a tip and thanked everyone and went and bought more mascara. I also got some stuff for Journey at PetSmart (a book on re-educating your dog if it does things like chew, dig, pull, etc. -- I know how to do basic training but problem behaviors that are instinctive to dogs are trickier.) And went to Barnes and Noble and got a book called The Messies' Manual on getting organized, and an Inside Triathlon magazine, and 2 (count 'em, 2) TrailRunner magazines. I'm wanting to keep trying new things and probably longer distances (although I doubt I'll ever attempt something as nuts as a Double Ironman or something.)
Since I got home from that expedition I've been cleaning out our truck. Cleaning the carpeting and upholstering with foam cleaner, vacuuming it, brushing out the dog hair that didn't come out with the vac, spraying it with Febreeze (one of my water bottles spilled who knows how long ago and it smells like wet carpet in there.) I'm letting it dry out now with the doors all open.
And while it dries out, I'm typing this, and thinking seriously about registering next month for Ironman Florida in November 2006. I am so sorry my Ironman is over. I had such a wonderful day and so much fun. There's no way I can say "I'll never do that again." It was hard but not nearly as hard as I'd expected. It was so extremely gratifying, not just finishing, but the whole journey.

Monday, October 03, 2005

ChesapeakeMan Ultra-Distance Triathlon
Times by my watch:

Swim: 1:25:06
T1 (Swim-to-bike transition): 11:09
Bike: 6:53:09
T2 (Bike-to-run): 6:54
Run: 6:22:05

Total time 14:58. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to break 15. I would have been happy to break 17, ecstatic to break 16. Breaking 15 is just unreal.

It's two days later now and I have not posted this to my blog till now because I've been doing a lot of e-mail about it (as many of my visitors know) and also I'm t-i-r-e-d and haven't had the energy to mess with my blog since I've been having trouble with my formatting and templates. Eventually I'll get it all figured out.

For now, I'm resting... recovering, as if I'm getting over an illness, except the triathlon was a lot more fun and didn't feel as bad as an illness. In fact, it didn't feel bad at all, except for the last 40 miles or so on the bike, where I started to feel like I must have lost my saddle and was riding on my seatpost. And like someone was shoving a lit matchstick under my left second toenail. Other than those minor annoyances, I felt pretty good. The run didn't feel any worse towards the end than just a regular marathon.

I am about as sore as after marathons I was undertrained for.... but a lot more tired, even more today (the second day) than yesterday (the day after the triathlon.) I am really, really tired today. So tired I feel as if I'm recovering from the flu or pneumonia, not a recreational event.... So tired I feel almost ill, except I have no fever (I checked) or any overt signs of illness (tissue swelling, decreased or increased weight or urination, loss of skin turgor) or any distinct symptoms (like headache, sore throat, aches) other than just muscle soreness that worsens transiently after I've held too still for a while.

They tell me this is normal. What did I expect.... to feel, well, normal?

But I am so glad I did this. I am so glad I trained the way I did, and so glad I finished, and am actually entertaining thoughts of doing it again (but not next week...) I looked forward to it for so long (trepidation and all) and now that it's done, I don't have it to look forward to anymore.

The metaphor of losing virginity is so apt. Read my last sentence. It's just like that. Except, in the case of virginity... (assuming it was good like it's supposed to be) you look forward to doing it again and again, having it get better and better the more you do it and the more you learn how.

What am I saying? Am I now married to this?

You know, I really, really enjoyed doing it, every minute of it, and I made a conscious effort to relish every second, knowing I'd be going through this "It's over" phase. I would rather be back on the bike than sitting here no longer having it all to look forward to, no longer in the midst of having it finally happening, feeling so strong and happy and determined. No wonder people get addicted to this.

Except, even if I do it again, it will never hold the wonder of that first time.