Saturday, December 30, 2006


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..... when you can't move your leg backwards or forwards.

Nevertheless, I just got in an hour's worth, probably a little sort of 6 miles, with teeny little short steps that weren't all that uncomfortable or even any slower than my usual.

But I'm behind in my distance plans now, and I can't do the speedwork in the FIRST program as I had hoped for an April marathon. In fact, I might not make an April marathon at all.

Thanks to Vickie and Sheila for tips and links to fixing my butt :-) And runr53 for suggesting massage therapy -- I called one and left a message, but she must be away for the holidays. I'll try her again. I think the piriformis muscle is the one complaining. I think it would complain less if I spent less time sitting on it, too, in front of the computer.....

Thursday, December 28, 2006


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Meet Ruth Thomas, and marvel at her Journey Of The Ages.

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Here she is studying her route in Hawaii.

She's 25 years my senior and this past spring she finished a voyage that makes my dream of a Pacific-to-Atlantic bike trip look like a training ride. She rode her bike to the smallest town in EACH of the United States. Not just coast-to-coast on Rte. 50 or the "Northern Route" or the "Southern Route" but into every single state to that state's smallest town.

It took her about 8 years. I love her!

Here's another, earlier story. Senior Cyclist A Bit Battered, But Not Blue

Old ladies of the world, unite!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Now that people are reading my blog again (maybe because I'm posting again?) I want to say more about what I posted a few days ago in "Amen!"

Here's what my trusty online dictionary
has to say:

Main Entry: amen
Pronunciation: (')ä-'men, (')A-; 'ä- when sung
Function: interjection
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek amEn, from Hebrew AmEn
-- used to express solemn ratification (as of an expression of faith) or hearty approval (as of an assertion)

Most of us know the translation as "So be it." Depending on use, it has nuances of "May it be so," or "It is indeed so," a word of general agreement and belief.

I noticed, when I heard someone say it on the radio, how much it sounds like "I'm in!" -- either way it's pronounced. This made me think.

I thought about what "I'm in!" means.

"I'm in" for the long haul. I won't back out. I'm committed.

I'm promising my contribution.

I've entered the race.

I will be an active participant.

I'm part of the team.

You can count on me.

I will give whatever it takes to achieve the hoped-for result.

I will do all in my power to keep what we have accomplished.

In a way, it's not all that different from, "So be it." "Amen."

I thought about what I would mean if I said "I'm in!" instead of "Amen."

It charges me to continue what I have begun, or, more properly, what the Lord has begun.

The prayer is not over. It's just getting started. It's ongoing. I have footwork to do, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, when I "end" a prayer with "I'm in!" I am not done with this prayer or this endeavor.

"I'm in." It's my new "Amen."

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Yup. Doing speedwork. Going along at a perky pace, put the hammer down some more, got a sharp pain deep in my mid-right-cheek that caused a simultaneous yelp and mid-stride stop, and a discouraged slow limp home.

Been on the Internet. Blinding flash of the obvious: Gluteal strain. Internet wisdom reveals that it's commonly suffered upon a sudden increase in speed or stride for which the body is not prepared.

So today I'm stiff. And limping. My butt cheek hurts. My hamstring is tight. I'm frustrated.... will I be able to pick up my 16-week-marathon-training program (which was officially to start with a 10-miler today) in time for an April 15 marathon?

Maybe I better go down a rung to a 12-week program.

Don't forget to read my previous post, in which I ask for opinions on reading/study material....


I'm cruising for running books. I got a $50 gift certificate there from my husband for my birthday (I turned 55 on Dec. 22.)

Recall a couple of my goals and dreams:
  • Run a 4:15 marathon to qualify for Boston (and then run Boston)
  • Run a marathon in every state
  • Dabble in ultra-marathoning

These are some of the books I've been considering. I can also get magazine subscriptions there. Thinking about Marathon and Beyond (although at $34.95/6 issues it would use up over half my gift allowance; all of the books below are available used at discount prices.)

Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison

Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger

Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels

Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Running, Second Edition, (Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Running) by Robert G. Price

The Competitive Runner's Handbook: The Bestselling Guide to Running 5Ks through Marathons by Bob Glover

Four Months to a Four-hour Marathon by Dave Kuehls

Running Past 50 (Ageless Athlete) by Richard Benyo

Ultra Running With Scott Jurek (Robbie Readers) (Robbie Readers) by Jim Whiting

Running Until You're 100 by Jeff Galloway

What would you get? Any choices from among these? Any I haven't listed?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Workout Stats

Pursuing my goal of running a Boston-qualifying marathon next fall (2007), I put in this workout today. Oh, yeah, I've forgotten to post: I'm eyeing an April 15 marathon in Indiana as a time-trial, then rest a couple weeks, and start the program over again aiming for a late-Sept. hopeful-qualifier, with maybe a November one as a backup in case something screws up the Sept. one.

Qualifying time at my advanced old age of 55 is 4:15, which is 9:45/mile.

I'm using this program and these paces. Nancy steered me to it. What would I ever do without her? The "official" 16-week build-up won't start till next week; you're supposed to be able to run 10 miles. I'm sure I can; after all, I just did a frickin' Ironman. But I took time off and then time easy and I'm building up again, so I won't hit 10 miles till next week.

My HR goals, I got from some other running article.... I'll have to look it up. I did a 10K time-trial a couple weeks ago; my time was 57:30, which is 9:16/mile, and the max HR I was able to provoke was 183. I tried to inch it upward but it stuck there. I could only maintain that for about 0.2 mile. The HR formula I'm using is based on Max Rate - Resting Rate (mine is usually 60) X % effort.

So here's what I did today, in case anyone is interested:

Type of workout:
Pace/intensive endurance, approaching aerobic threshold; week's long run
Increase endurance at quicker pace (I've been doing long runs at 11-13min miles training for Ironman's the last 2 years.)

A. 9 miles at 10K pace + 60-75 sec./min (= 10:15 – 10:30)
Met? Distance - Y; pace -N

B. Keep steady pace
Met? N

C. Keep steady perceived effort
Met? Y

D. HR 75-85% (152 – 164)
Met? Y

OK, explaining the “No’s”:
A. Overall pace quicker than expected
9 miles at 1:31:28 = 10:13/mile
B. Not steady at all, but terrain varied.
Mile 1 – 10:28 (warm-up mile)
Mile 2 – 9:56 (mostly downhill)
Mile 3 – 10:02 (rolling, predominantly downhill)
Mile 4 – 11:10 (long slow upgrade)
Mile 5 – 11:01 (turnaround in middle; upgrade till then)
Mile 6 – 9:19 (downgrade)
Mile 7 – 9:51 (rolling w/ uphill trend)
Mile 8 – 10:29 (mostly uphill)
Mile 9 – 9:38 (rolling, mostly downhill)

C. Actually HR reached 170 (90%) on a hill; otherwise within range. Perceived effort was quite steady.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I noticed the other day....

How much the word "Amen" (either way you pronounce it) sounds like "I'm in."

Try ending your prayer with "I'm in!" and see if it has the same effect on you that it did on me.

I'm in.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


We had everyone together at son Jon's house, except our youngest daughter Avery's husband Scott, who had work conflicts. Our get-together was Saturday after Thanksgiving, the most do-able for the most people. Daughter-in-law Jamie had worked all night (NICU nurse) ans spent the day sleeping at her mom's, but came over later in the afternoon.

It's rare to have all 4 generations together, every single one of my mother's direct descendants.

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The oldest and youngest of our clan: My mother, Ellinor Benedict, 85, and our granddaughter, Abigail Hamilton, 3 yrs. 10 months

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Our three grandkids being goofy: Abbie; Gracie, 8; Collin, 10

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The whole family!
Left to right:
My husband Steve; grandson Collin Clevenger; daughter Avery Elefante; daughter-in-law Jamie Hamilton; son Jon Hamilton; granddaughter Grayson Clevenger; me, Ellinor Hamilton; daughter Valerie Hamilton; Val's husband Anthony; Anthony's son Bradley; granddaughter Abbie Hamilton; matriarch/mother/grandmother/great-grandmother Ellinor Benedict

And as if a humongous turkey dinner topped off with 2 kinds of pie, 3 cousins to play with, and all her family together (Abbie LOVES her family, especially her grandpa and her great-grandmother), here is what her daddy found in their garage after dinner.

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He had seen a stray cat in there a couple times but had no idea there were offspring. For an almost-4-yr-old, Thanksgiving doesn't get any better. His name is Walrus -- Abbie's new word of the week. Walrus hissed and spit and bit when Jon caught him, but calmed down remarkably within just a few minutes. After some tuna, which he gulped like a dog, he got a bath, a nap wrapped in a warm towel, and then was deemed fit to play with. Within a couple hours after capture, he was purring in our laps and playing with strings the kids dragged for him.

Thanksgiving is about so much more than the food. Although that was good, too...

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Maybe I should call it more a "rule of thumb."

We know lots of "rules of thumb:"
When you race (running), no long runs or speedwork for as many days as there were miles in your race.
After a race or long run, calories don't count for as many hours as there were miles run.

And so on.

I have a theory that I think I will develop into a new personal rule of thumb:

For each hour in a hard effort (i.e., long run or ride, race, speedwork), an extra hour of sleep per hour of effort will enhance recovery.

For the 16 hours and 20 minutes I was on the course at IMFL, I needed to "replace" 16 hours of sleep. Not all at once. Maybe an hour a day for 16 days. I didn't do this religiously, since I thought of it about a week later, but I had been going to bed earlier each night just because I was tired. This was when the "hour of sleep per hour of effort" idea dawned on me.

A 6-hour marathon, then, would suggest 5 days of sleeping an hour extra per night (or day.)

For a hard 10K effort, extra sleep for however long that took.

Maybe, any training effort that we're still tired from an hour or so later, or the next day, should trigger the "sleep alarm" -- however long that effort lasted, get its equivalent in extra sleep.

It might not always be possible.
It might not be indispensable.

But it couldn't hurt.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well. I left a comment on Dean Karnazes' blog about how great it was to talk with him, and how I decided that if this campground customer could run 20-30 miles a day after just doing 50 marathons in 50 days, certainly I could go out and run for half an hour 2 weeks after an Ironman. And that I ran faster than usual because I was thinking about this daily-ultra-runner I'd talked to. And how excited I was later in the day when I discovered who he was. How I'd been on the web all evening learning all about him and feeling high.

Comments are subject to moderator approval.

Mine didn't get in.

Nor did I get a mention in his descriptions of people he'd met that day.

When he asked if I was a runner, and I showed him my IMFL mug, and he said, "Great! Congratulations!" he was probably thinking,

"Oh, you did an Ironman. How cute."

He probably was thinking, some woman goes through the motions of being a runner, and calls herself an Ironman, and doesn't know who I am???

Really, I didn't know. I don't surf running websites, I don't do forums or chatrooms, I only read an occasional couple fitness/athletic magazines other than Triathlete, I don't read running books. The magazines and books haven't changed much over the last 20 years, and I don't pay much attention to them anymore. I just do it.

I'd have known Jeff Galloway. Or Frank Shorter. Or Bill Rodgers. Or Ingrid Kristiansen. Or Joan Benoit Samuelson. Or Grete Waitz. Runners who were in the news when I was into the news.

I'd have known Lance Armstrong.

I'd have recognized the names of Tim or Nicole DeBoom, Natascha Baddman, Heather Fuhr, Lisa Bentley, Laurie Bowden. I'd have known Andrea Fisher by sight, since she was my neighbor for the week in the campground at IMFL.

This man.... somehow he just slipped through the cracks.

Like I told Nancy.... the Lord must have been so appalled that I hadn't heard of or read about Dean Karnazes, He just had to send him to me in person. And then get my friends to tell me who he was.

At least I noticed his thighs.

Back to my safe place under my rock.

Update: 21stCenturyMom has commented that I am, indeed, there in his comment section. I'm finding what I wrote in this blog but not the one she quoted (correctly!) from Dean's Run Home.

Why should this whole thing even matter to me? I have my friends. Why do I need feedback from some celebrity who never heard of me and whom I'll never meet again?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


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Remember to be hospitable to strangers, for you never know who you're entertaining unawares.

This morning at work at the campground office, I was talking to my mom on my cell phone (slow day at the office) and told her, "Oops, gotta go, got a customer coming. He's dressed for running. He's got awesome thighs." She laughed and wished me luck and I hung up.

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The man brought in a little bag of garbage and asked where the dumpsters were. I told him, but said, "That's small, just give it to me, I'll throw it in the trash can right here," which he did, and I did.

"How far you running today?" I asked. "Oh, 20 or 30 miles I guess," he said. "Great!" I said. "What are you training for?" He said, "Actually I'm running across the United States."

"Cool!" I answered. "So you're almost done?"

"No," he said, "I'm just starting."

"You're going east to west against the prevailing winds in late fall at this latitude? You're going to have fun when you get to Colorado!" We both laughed and he said he hoped Colorado wouldn't be too bad.

So he says, "You must be a runner. You didn't go blank or do a double take when I said how far I was running." I lifted my M-Dot Florida mug in a toast gesture and took a sip of my coffee. "Great, congratulations!" he said. "I barely survived, but it was fun," I observed. "I haven't run since, but I might go out today."

Then he says, "I just took a break from my trip, flew down to Texas, and did a 24-hour ultra. Plus I just finished running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days."

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"Awesome!" I said. "I want to do all 50 states. Except I don't think I'll make it in 50 days :-) Another thing I want to do is cross the country, not on foot but on a bike, Pacific to Atlantic."

"That's a great goal," he said.

"You better go run, you've got goosebumps on your thighs," I said, thereby letting the cat out of the bag that I'd been ogling his thighs.

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He laughed. "Well, we gotta break camp first.... my dad is driving the camper, he's my support crew."

"Well, good luck!" I said, and he said, "You, too!" and he left. I watched them disconnecting their utility hoses getting ready to leave. Another customer came in. "See that rig leaving?" I said. "The guy was just in here.... he's running across the country east to west on Rte. 50." "Hmph," said the man. "Wonder if he knows what he's getting into as he gets into West Virginia and Western Maryland. I hear they've had snow in Garrett County already, and you know what the hills are like out there."

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I was wishing I'd given the runner guy my email address so he could let me know when he got there, like the guy I met on the bike trail last summer. I was wishing I'd had my camera so I could email his quads to my friends.

So I told some of my email friends, including Nancy, about this encounter, and told them they missed some great quads. Nancy emailed me back, "Uhhhhhh, Ellie.... did he look like this guy? (Gave me this link) Dean Karnazes????" I emailed back, "Yeah, that was him! I just put his registration info in the campground computer this morning!" So then I went to the link to see who he was.

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Dean Karnazes. I guess every runner in the world except me knows about him. He has a blog (actually several) and I left a comment on this one. On his Daily Archives page, you can see that he was staying in Winchester, VA (except they listed it as WV.) That was before he left for the ultra in TX and he just got back yesterday. That was here! That was Candy Hill Campground, Winchester, VA! I threw away his trash for him!

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I'm glad I had my eye makeup on :-)

Monday, November 20, 2006

OH, NO....

I'm not really thinking of doing this, am I?

It's February 17.

I worked backwards on the calendar and determined that I could get in the lon runs. It's not like each increase would be new territory I haven't entered before.

The timing would be the same as last year, when I ran RNR Arizona in January after doing ChesapeakeMan the end of September.

I was very pleased with how I did at RNR AZ.

Oh, no.

What am I saying?

I'm not even running yet following IMFL. I'd have to do long winter runs in northern Virginia.... not southern Arizona.

Oh, my.

I can't afford it. $$$$ The main costs being travel and lodging.

A $52 entry fee, after an M-Dot race, feels like scoring a terrific pair of jeans for $6 at Goodwill.

What started this? I signed on to a Shenandoah Valley Runners list and someone told me she's training for MBM. She did IM AZ last April. Her pace is similar to mine and we could train together. I'm calling her..... maybe we could drive and room together.

I can't fly. $$$$$

I am really afraid I am going to try to do this. I made a training calendar. Here we go again....

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Yeah. Another one of those religious posts.

I don't sleep well. I have hot flashes and sweats and then when I throw the covers off I get cold. I'll wake up and find it still nearly dark but I hear birds and think or say out loud, "Are those damn birds at it already? Why can't I have a couple more hours?"

So this morning I woke up in the dark, looked at my watch. 4:30. I said a silent "Thank you, God! I get another 3 more hours of sleep."


Awake. Not stewing over anything in particular, just wide awake. Couldn't get comfortable. Too hot. Too cold. Bed too hard. Thinking about music.... how to adapt the theme from "Legends of the Fall" to play as a waltz that would sound old-timey on the fiddle, like "Tenessee Waltz" or "Beautiful Dreamer." What a stupid thing to be thinking about trying to sleep.

No sleep.

I said prayers. Lord's Prayer. Psalm 23. Both generally have a hypnotic effect on me. I rarely get all the way through Psalm 23.


I said silently, "Lord, what do you want?" (And I didn't say it nicely.) "I'm trying to sleep here. I'm going to be tired. My whole day will be a mess if I'm tired. I'll feel crappy and I'll mess things up and I won't be any good for anything. If you're so great than make me sleep."

And I got..... "We never spend any time together. You're so busy during the day, we hardly cross paths." So I brought up all the things I'm worrying about. It just got me riled. I said, "So, this isn't helping me any. What do you want to talk about?" I got...."Who said we had to talk? I just want to keep company with you." So I stopped but my mind just went into uncomfortable-silence mode. After a few minutes, I volunteered again, "This isn't helping me. I'm going to be tired." I got, "Would I wake you up to keep company with you and let it hurt you? Be still, and know that I am God."

And after a spell of dwelling on that verse.... well, I seem to have slept. I woke up before the alarm feeling rested and ready to get up.

Gotta go take the dog out now and get to work.

Friday, November 17, 2006


It's so long since I've run, it's like I've forgotten how. I couldn't find my running shoes. I put my socks on upside down.

I wore the dusty-rose long-sleeved running top my Calgarian friends, Dianne and Dawn, gave me as an IMFL present when they sprung their surprise visit to Nancy and me, as if their visit wasn't gift enough.

I ran a little over a mile, measured afterwards with my bike at 1.1. Whoopee. Time was 11:14.

Then I went on the bike and measured a real-mile course out to the road and back through the campground, in case I don't want to get out on the trafficked roadways during the winter. I can do laps. And I can also measure my mile-pace progress, although it's not flat. I might go to a track for that.

It feels good to have gone running again.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I just did a search hoping for news on the cause of the death of Barney Rice, whose hopes for everything ended during the swim at IMFL. All I'm finding is "cause of death was not immediately evident, but an autopsy will be performed."

He had 3 young sons. The youngest is 6 months. And a young wife, who went through his year of IM training like every other Iron Spouse. He had, the same as all of us this whole past year and that cold race morning, anticipation, excitement, a sense of adventure, and high hopes for a grand achievement. He had his bike shoes and helmet in his transition bag, his water bottles and GU packs on his bike. His ready bike waited in the transition area and.....stayed there all day.

I felt glad to make it out of the swim alive. When I reached the finish line 14 or so hours later, I found out that one man hadn't.

I'm still having dreams.

Last night it was being on the bike leg of the Ironman and finding, not hills, I don't know what you'd call them.... rock dunes, or something. They undulated up out of the ground like mountains, as high as a 3-story house. I was thinking, this is no place for a road bike; I need a mountain bike. They rose one after another. I saw a dip between two "dunes" coming and thought, oh, no, here it comes..... got my speed up and almost, but not quite, made the jump between them. My bike was bashed between the two rocky swells, all bent up. The wheel rims were creased into mere slits. I was unhurt, but finishing the race was out of the question. Even if I could get a mountain bike, there wouldn't be time afterwards to make the cutoff.

I've dreamed about being in 20-foot seas in a tiny boat; about crying as I tried to resuscitate a drowned cat; about being rejected from a music program and offered violin bows made of glow-necklaces instead of carbon fiber; and now about rocky swells coming like ocean waves destroying my bike.

I need closure. I hope they make it public when they find out why he died. And if it was simple drowning.... why??? A 35-year-old triathlete shouldn't have just gone and drowned out there, 2/3 of the way through his swim. It doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I started a Yahoogroup, Boston Bound, and a blog, Boston2008 (Boston Bound wasn't available, darn), for people trying for a Boston qualifier. We've got such a huge triathlon brigade here.... there have to be Boston hopefuls as well. Maybe even Boston-repeat hopefuls.

Let everyone know, 'K? People in Blogland, people "out there." Ship 'em to Boston Bound , Boston 2008, and/or here.

I think I'm serious about training for this..... think so? :-D

Except right now I'm still in my self-enforced 2-week no-training recovery period after IMFL.

Man, I REALLY want to get out there and run. I need to be careful not to go out too fast..... take this training year like a marathon, sensibly paced so I can hang in there the whole time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


On our trip back from Florida, we passed a big Salvation Army HQ building. On it were the large sculpted letters:

"Serving others through Christ."

I don't know whether this is the Salvation Army motto or not, but I was thinking, shouldn't it go:

"Serving Christ through others" ? That is, you serve Christ through serving others?

Monday, November 13, 2006


1. I'm in a small open boat, tossing and heaving in 20-foot seas. I'm thinking, "At least I'm in a boat."

2. I'm fishing and feel a bite on my hook. As I'm reeling in my catch, I discover it's not a fish, but a cat. I have to reel it in to save it, but reeling it in drowns it. I'm crying as I try to resuscitate it. (Probably most readers know, a man drowned at IMFL.)

3. In real waking life, I am learning to play the violin, self-taught, country-fiddle style. In this dream,I'm accepted at a large university music department, to major in violin performance. I show up for my first session with my professional private instructor, who finds that I'm slightly better than Vera Violet Vinn (you have to know Dr. Seuss to get that.) After hearing me play a couple measures, she signals me to stop, shakes her head, and says, "Do not finish your piece. You should not have entered this institution." I yell, "That's what I'm HERE for! To LEARN HOW!!" She senses how much I want this and says, "Well, let's see what I can do to help you perhaps a little." She starts by saying I need a better bow. The one I have is about 6 inches long. But all the ones she offers me are useless: floppy, not rigid. One is made out of a straightened-out glow-necklace. None are wood or carbon fiber (even violin bows are carbon fiber nowadays.) I appreciate her (condescending) gestures but realize I am simply not prepared to play the violin; I don't even have a bow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


We're about to take the satellite dish down to start our trip back north. Probably won't bother putting it up for overnight stays. So I won't be able to send or receive, unless we're somewhere that Steve's computer can pick up a Wi-Fi signal (mine's too archaic for that.)
Catch ya later!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Do you think it's reasonable to combine these goals during one year?

1. Dropping about 45 minutes from current marathon ballpark time, to hopefully run a Boston Qualifier in the fall, and

2. Continuing through that same year to run a few other marathons to add to my 50-state quest?

Background: In 2001 (before I started doing triathlons and was just a runner) I ran a 4:21 in late April and a 4:12 in October. The 4:21 inspired me to try for a BQ, which would have been 4:05 at the time. I went out too fast and blew it, walked a few miles, and still made 4:12. This was 5 years ago.

My qualifying time at my age now is 4:15.

Do you think I could do the necessary speedwork AND get in a number of marathons to increase my state tally?


While Steve was waiting around the finish line, he said there was a VIP podium where a lot of the first, fast finishers were dancing and partying.

He said, to me:
"I wanted to go up there and tell them, 'You're not the VIP's. Those people dragging themselves in here and the ones still out there struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other... those are the VIP's.' "

Monday, November 06, 2006


AGE 54
1:43:41 7:06:44 7:09:46 16:20:31 2045

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (1:43:41) 2:43/100m 2034

TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (7:06:44) 15.75 mph 1931

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 13.1 mi. (2:49:59) 12:58/mile
RUN FINISH 13.1 mi. (4:19:47) 19:49/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (7:09:46) 16:24/mile 2045

T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 12:15
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 8:05

Editor's notes:
Time spent on run at maybe 5 gas-generator-run floodlights for maybe 3 minutes each trying to get warm: 15 minutes

Ambulance time: 10 minutes

Sitting in a chair at a later aid station regrouping: 5 minutes

Pee stops: 3 on bike, 4 on run, total 6 minutes maybe

But who's counting?


My friend Carlene in Canada crocheted this dress and hair-band for Abbie -- having never seen or met Abbie or her parents (our son and his wife.) Carlene's another of my/our runner-marathoner-athlete friends.

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And of course you all know about Dawn and Dianne coming down from Calgary to cheer for Nancy and me. And then there's Lori Dorren, also from Calgary, whom I met on the run course and who kept me going for a long, long time.

My Canadian friends rock!!


I feel like a woman who has a 3-hour labor and then glides her first baby out with 2 pushes and says, "Wow, that wasn't bad at all." And then with her second baby has 23 hours of back labor and 3 hours of pushing and says, "NOW I know what everyone's been talking about. THAT wasn't labor. THIS is labor."

THAT wasn't Ironman.

THIS was Ironman.

Sunday, November 05, 2006



Seems to me a few days ago I made some rather glib comments about comments on the local Panama City Beach news about "brave" athletes and the upcoming "grueling" event. I didn't make it clear that my glibness was somewhat tongue-in-cheek... exaggeration by way of understatement. I don't think I even fully realized.

I've said to so many people that my impression of my ChesapeakeMan iron-distance last year was that it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd expected. I've been riding on that for a year. I had gotten my head into a place that was practically passing off an Ironman as no big deal.

Now I know not to understate. Or underestimate. Or mistake a first-Iron fluke as representative of how I'll do at Ironman in general.

Swim: Whenever I turned my head to breathe, or lifted it to sight, there was a wall of water nearly as tall as I am coming at me. I guess I caught a good draft on the first loop, as it was a mind-boggling 40 minutes; by my second loop, everyone else must have already gotten where they were going, because it was 20 minutes longer. It was a fight all the way. I barfed a little running to the T-1 tent, and sat down and sobbed when I got there.

But I got the swim done.

Bike: At first it was fun. I was supposed to spin easy and this I did. I passed people. People passed me. Then we turned north and into the wind that had created the surf. Spinning easy was "easy" but slow. I passed people. People passed me. Turned out of the wind and then made some tracks but then onto a road that was, as Iron-pal Rich put it, "like riding across railroad tracks for 20 miles." There was stuff all over the road that had bounced out of people's pockets and off their bikes: aero-bottle plugs, a whole aero-bottle, loads of "caged" bottles, folded-up tubes and tires still in their rubber bands. I read in the paper that Hillary Biscay's handlebars got erratic due to a loosening of her stem bolt, and I'll bet this is where it happened. It was fun, though, fo ride briefly alongside people passing or being passed and complaining together about the road ("It could be worse, we could still be out there on that swim...") By the time the road smoothed out, we were in our last 30 miles when your shorts feel like they have a sandpaper chamois anyway, so it was still rough.

But I got the bike done.

Run: Stiffly jogged and walked the first mile, then started running, walking only through aid stations. That was going well. Early in the second loop of the 2-loop run, I picked up with a woman from Calgary doing her first IM and we went together. She was wonderful company. But by mile 17 I had been fighting nausea and fatigue for a while and couldn't start running again. I told her the pact between running partners is that you don't sacrifice your own race for each other, and I was going through a bad patch and needed to walk, and she went on. I walked. After a mile or two I was slowing even more but didn't feel any better. I felt worse. I took more sodium. I took calcium and magnesium. I took Pepcid. It was cold. I was freezing. I felt awful. I felt like I couldn't expand my chest to breathe. I was scared. I had seen an ambulance a couple miles back and wanted medical advice; maybe there would be one closer, up at the turnaround. There was not. I got a Mylar blanket at an aid station. It helped minimally. I sipped hot chicken broth but it turned my stomach. There were these huge generator-run floodlights every half-mile or so -- kind of wrecked the full-moon ambiance I had so looked forward to, but I discovered they put out HEAT and stopped at each one for 2 or 3 minutes, leaning my head on it for rest while it warmed my body. I kept plodding. Cold, exhausted, afraid of keeling over in the dark far from a medical station. I became aware of the thought that the ambulance, if I ever got there, would be my deciding point: do, or do not. I might not be able to finish this race. Finally arrived back at the ambulance. Told them I was in trouble. Got my blood pressure and pulse checked, everything normal; sat there for a few minutes, they weren't very helpful; they said there wasn't much they could do for me if I didn't need to go to the hospital. I didn't think I did, and started on again. I took it for granted that my first steps across the finish, if I got there, would be into the medical tent and then God only knew where. As I approached the next aid station, and the next, I knew this was where I would need to report leaving the course, but took their drinks and a little food and found myself walking on. I guess the little rest in the ambulance had helped though because after a while I started feeling better. I was able to do a brisk walk again but whenever I started jogging I could see it was out of the question. So I ended up walking the whole last 9 miles. But I could breathe, and with 3 miles to go I could SING. Can you imagine? Able to sing, but not run. I sang hymns. "Be swift, my soul, to answer Him, be jubilant, my feet, our God is marching on." "Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee." "Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." I walked. But I could not run.

Got a second (or maybe third) wind with the finish in sight; pulled off my long-sleeved shirt to be wearing my red jersey in my finish photo. I had spent the last couple miles brushing my hair.... about a mile to brush it out (salt water, sweat, snarls from my ponytail band) and the next to maintain it (wind). People laughed at me but I wanted a hot finish picture, which witnessing friends tell me had to be a success, although we haven't seen the pic yet.

So I got the run done.

So I got the Ironman done.

Final time: 16:20. It wasn't my day to do a 14-something Ironman. But I feel more victorious with this finish than I now am with my less-painful, "that wasn't so hard" 14:58 at ChesapeakeMan.

Because the Ironman is grueling.

Last year it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

THIS was what I thought Ironman would be. Until last year gave me a swelled head.

I had the presence of mind to prissy myself up for my finish picture but not to notice that my HUSBAND was holding one end of my finish tape. I will forever regret that.

There's way more.... my wonderful friends who cheered and volunteered: Linae, Holly, and Shawn at volunteer posts; Kathy who hosted our pre-race get-together and worked in the medical tent; Dianne and Dawn who flew down from Calgary and surprised Nancy and me by showing up at the Expo. My husband Steve, who was out there every time I went by, and who worried as my expected return was half an hour late, then an hour, then an hour and a half, and longer. And held the finish tape for me, and I didn't even see him.

And Nancy, who has been so much of my inspiration as well as my companion, both virtually and in person, this whole year of training..... I watched for her constantly and was overjoyed every time I saw her on the course -- biking, running. Then when we met up as I was a mile or so into my second run lap and she was the same distance from finishing her first, she said she might not make it. I was pre-bonk and assumed she was going through a bad patch and would recover; at the time there were over 4 hours left and I called out, "Sure you can, walk!" But I didn't see Nancy anymore. I kept searching. I would have picked her out even in the dark because of her flashing red necklace. Unless she'd gone by while I was in the ambulance.... but I didn't see her and didn't see her and my heart sank as I began to understand that she must have decided to stop.

She left the course rather than risk the consequences of continuing toward what she had wanted so much. That, my friends, is bravery.

And yeah, people who undertake the Ironman are brave, because it's grueling.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


~Sigh~ Tonight PhotoBucket hates me too. I signed in with the wrong password too many times and now I'm in time-out.

Wait till you see my pictures though :-)

At registration/expo I met up with Commodore, Shelley, Lisa, and Bolder. As well as Rich from WV, who's been active on the IMFL Yahoo email group. It was so great to have friends there!

Registration: THEY HAD NO PAPERWORK FOR THE HIGHEST RACE NUMBERS, meaning.... ALL THE "OLDER" WOMEN WERE IN LIMBO!!! We couldn't register!! We had to wait till the paperwork CAME FROM THE PRINTER!!!! Actually we got quite friendly with each other, there in the holding tank. (I just think what my husband does with the holding tank when we leave a campground.) They sent us out to explore the expo while we waited, undoubtedly, as one woman alertly observed, a ploy to get us to spend more money. Lisa and I hung out together. We went back and waited some more. Finally the paperwork arrived and we got processed and now we exist. That was fun.

Lisa, Rich and I met up at 2 to ride the run course. We had a great time together, riding easy, pedal-around-the-neighborhood casual. Loads of bikers out; everyone smiles, waves, and says "Have a great race!" It is so much fun.

I was so busy and having so much fun I actually FORGOT TO EAT most of the day and never even missed it. Don't worry, I made up for it at dinner.

Might not get today's pics posted till tomorrow; don't know how long my penalty is at PhotoBucket, and of course I was expelled from Blogger photo-loading long ago.

Hope I can post them soon.... I worked hard on them. :-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


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Nurse Abbie and her mom tonight


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The beach/ocean yesterday morning. It looked the same today.

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An IronDad coming out of his training swim.

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Host Condo/Hotel Main Building

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From the swim exit to T-1

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Entering T-1

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It's really going to happen!

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Set-up Crew Members

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Unloading stuff into expo tent

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A neighbor here at the campground -- the ChampionChip people!!

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Another neighbor couple: Jamie Cleveland and Andrea Fisher, both pro triathlete coaches. Andrea is doing the IM. She won this year's Steelhead 70.3 (that Nancy did) and has also won the EagleMan Half (now a 70.3) twice. She's also set swim-leg records.

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And here's us.... if you look hard you can see my bike leaning behind the tree...

Trying something

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It worked! I copied the tag from PhotoBucket and it posted like magic! Thank you so much, Kewl Nitrox!

So, go to my previous post and click the link if you want to see the rest of the pictures now; later when we get back from THIS BEACH I'll post the rest. It was fast and easy. Wow!! Too Kewl!!


Wow! Kewl Nitrox told me about for posting photos. This is a cool, very easy site. The only thing I couldn't figure out was how to rearrange the pictures.... the one I meant to be last is first, etc.

Go here to see my album, where you can click on each photo to enlarge it and see the description, or click "Slideshow" to see, well, a slideshow. Some of our neighbors are famous. Flatman pointed that out to me (Texas Training camping rig.)

These are the pictures I wanted to post here but still can't. I've tried. Blogger hates me.

Steve and I are going to the beach. A 3-minute walk and 80+ degrees F and sunny. Mmmmm......

Monday, October 30, 2006

Florida Pics

Not. Sorry to disappoint you with the title. I keep trying and after I hit "Upload Image" I get "Page cannot be found." This is a total bummer, because I wanted my friends here to see:

The Beach.... where we'll start and finish the swim.
The transition area, which right now is a closed-off parking lot with lots of people wielding push-brooms (presumably to make the surface safe for bike tires?)
The upper parking deck, where tents are being set up for the expo
The road in front, where the bike and run will start and end

Some of our campground neighbors, one in an Airstream travel trailer painted with "Texas Iron Multisport Training", the other a Class C motor home (that's where the living part is permanently attached to the truck part), bright green professional rig with SportStats painted on it, along with images of IronPeople racing, including the couple living in the rig, and their kids running wearing race numbers, and "ChampionChip Timing"on the cab. THEY'RE IN CHARGE OF THE TIMING CHIPS!!

The mom, a young woman, thirtysomething, had a laptop on the picnic table, and the two boys, maybe 6 and 8, were finishing up homemade Play Dough. They told me the recipe. Same one I used to use except I cooked it; they just made it with warm water. The younger boy messed around with his glob of dough and then looked happily up at me saying brightly, "Look what I made!" Lying flat on the picnic table, it was a gingerbread-boy-shaped; he had poked eye-holes, drawn a smiley mouth with his finger, and shaped a perfectly vertical little weener in the appropriate location. I said, "That's really cute!" Mom looked around from behind her laptop to see, did a double take and cried, "Billy!! What is that!!" As he was saying happily, "A weenie," her hand came around the computer and she squashed the poor Play-Dough Boy's weenie flat with her fist.

I about died. Trying keep myself contained, I teased her, "Hey, it was anatomically correct." She rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, right," and went back to her computer.

I'm still laughing. Wish I'd gotten a picture of that, quick before her fist squashed its hopes. Not that I could have posted it....

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Tomorrow I will. I will go down to the beach/swim-start area and photograph it empty. I'll go to the upper parking deck of the Boardwalk Beachfront Hotel and shoot it with vendors' tents in the setting-up stage. And the computer-printed sign that says, "Parking Lot closed for Ironman." There's no one there. But there are definite signals that there will be.

The Panama City Beach News has little clips about these brave athletes undertaking this grueling event.

Brave? Grueling? Hmmm, it's just me and a bunch of my friends getting together for a swim, then biking all day then, hey, I got an idea, let's go run a marathon. Sure, why not? I was sick of the bike anyway.

I have been in chill-out mode the last few days. We've been traveling down here to FL, trailer in tow, which is such a normal activity for us that it's essentially no different than any other trip from here to there. With traveling, I haven't been training. Training is over anyway. Any further biking or running is just to stay loose, work off nerves (of which I don't seem to have any, not yet), and INCREASE the chance of spraining an ankle, wrecking my bike, or in some other way compromising the race. Swimming..... well, that will serve a purpose. I need to swim in the ocean, preferably before the race start.

The ocean's there, all right. Right across the road. Last night, our first night, Steve and I went down to the beach and watched 3-foot breakers roll ashore. We watched silently for a few minutes. Then Steve said, "So, you're gonna go jump in that and swim, huh?" I said lamely, "Well, once you get past the shoreline breakers, it's smoother....." Today it was lovely. We went and looked and it was beautifully calm. A swimmer in a black wetsuit was swimming back and forth parallel to shore.... bet I know what he was doing.

A group of about 20 bikers, a few of them with disc wheels, rolled past as we were on our way back to our campground. Bet I know what they were up to, too.

We're an easy 5-minute casual stroll from where it happens. Steve can sit in our yard in an easy chair with a cigar, a beer, and the day's crossword puzzle and watch the bikers go by twice and the runners 4 times. I guess he's going to track me on the internet so he'll know when I'm coming, then he'll get up, stretch, saunter to the fence, cheer me on, and go back to his cigar, beer, and crossword puzzle. The penultimate IronMate. Sit under a beach umbrella for 2.4 miles. Relax with a beer, cigar, and crossword puzzle for 112 miles, maybe catch a nap and a movie as well. Then watch the evening news, weather forecast, and the Man Show re-runs for 26.2 miles. It's tough, being an IronMate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


That's my Ironman Florida race bib number.

Genesis 25:26 describes the birth of Jacob, a twin, who entered the world holding onto the heel of his brother Esau, who was just moments ahead of him.

Joe Friel in Going Long recommends, on the swim, to follow closely on someone's heels and enjoy the draft.

Anyone tracking me on, be careful: If you use my last name instead of my bib number, there's also an Eleanor Hamilton. That's not me! I registered as Ellie, so if you enter Hamilton, make sure you select me and not her :-) She's from New Zealand like any other New Zealander, while I have the distinction of being from Accident, Maryland.

We're leaving for Florida tomorrow. This means battening down hatches tonight, preparing our home and all our worldly goods for the 900-mile trip, since it all goes with us. Anything moveable gets tied down, wedged in, duct-taped, or padded. Houseplants go in the shower. Musical instruments go on the bed wrapped in the bedclothes. Annie, the cat, goes in a kitty-carrier on the bed, walled in by pillows. Bookshelves get duct tape swathed across them. The TV's are velcro-strapped in. Dishes have to be put away (at least it happens occasionally, when we move.) Paper towels get a patch of tape so they don't unroll en route. Laptops go on the recliner. The microwave goes on the sofa. The water and sewer hoses get disconnected and stowed. The electricity gets unhooked. The satellite dish comes down and gets stowed inside the trailer. My bike gets dressed up in its nylon-and-lycra cover and secured in the truck bed. Steve backs the truck underneath the 5th-wheel hitch till it latches, we plug in the wires for the brakes and blinkers, and off we go, with Journey in the backseat all excited about going on a trip. It takes about 2 hours to get everything ready.

I still need a few things for the Ironman, but I'll get them in Florida, since we'll be camping across the street from everything Ironman. I figure I can get everything from goggles to socks there, or nearby.

Let's roll.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Less than 2 weeks. I feel physically wonderful. Training sessions are (comparatively) short, and easy, compared to what they were, say, a month ago. I feel like I could bike to the moon, and run, well, at least to West Virginia (which is about 20 miles away.) I have wonderful hopes for the Ironman.

But I'm depressed. I'm anxious. At work the cash register is screwed up. The credit-card tally is screwed up. Thank goodness no reservations have been screwed up. I have happy customers. Just annoyed employers.

Everyone gets scatterbrained, nervous, and impulsive during taper for a big event. I'm wondering if I'll go back to normal after IMFL is finished.

Reminds me of this story:

Doc, reading x-ray: Your hand is broken. We're going to have to put it in a cast but it should heal nicely.
Patient: Tell me, doc, after the cast is off, will I be able to play the piano?
Doc: Why, of course.
Patient: That's wonderful! I've never been able to play the piano before!

In other words.... to go "back" to normal implies that I was ever normal in the first place. I'm lysdexic with paperwork and short-circuited with anything electronic or mechanical, and I think of 27 things at once with the result that some of them fall through the cracks. I asked for a custodial position but I'm handling reservations and money. It's like having the orchestra percussion player do the violin solo.

Maybe I will feel better when my taperitis is cured.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I have, I think, finally come to terms with the knowledge that my swimming is not magically going to get better in the next two weeks. 1000-meter time tonight was 27:03. Not fast but, barring major marine complications, adequate to get me well under the wire on the IMFL swim.

I have a snootful of chlorine and I'm sneezing and blowing like a whale.

My sweet coach sent me a present: a copy of Going Long. I was at work when it came. My husband and 3 other staff members were there when I opened it up. My husband saw the title across the counter and said, "That better be about triathlon." Instant bedlam among the rest of the staff.

I just got a trial pair of bifocal contacts and WOW!!! I can see stuff up close!! I think I'm going to ask about getting the "distance" part a tad stronger. But this close vision is awesome. Much better than the mismatched lenses I've worn the last several days, strong in one eye for seeing distance, less strong in the other for close vision. Always felt a little cross-eyed. Wonder if I looked that way?

TOMORROW IS KONA. And according to the Weather Channel, they're expecting UP TO TEN INCHES of rain, with flash flooding increased by landscape changes caused by rockslides in Monday's earthquake. If you check the link, it looks OK, just showers, until you click on the High Surf and Flash Flood warnings. Nancy told me they're also expecting 3-foot ocean swells and 4-foot waves. Eeks. For anyone (like guess who) who's a tentative swimmer.... scary. And a biker dependent on things going well.... aarrgghh. I'm glad I'm doing Florida. And probably glad I don't have the 10-day forecast yet. Because we're still subject to the luck of the draw. And I stuck my neck out and bragged that I might be able to do 14 hours. Well, I said I MIGHT be able to. I didn't say I'm GOING to, or that I EXPECT to. I said, IF NOTHING GOES WRONG AND EVERYTHING GOES RIGHT, it COULD happen.

And I COULD win the lottery.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I tried these, and they were good. They cost $1.98 for a little pack of about 10 beans, at the bike shop. I decided they were a rip-off.... 10 frikkin' jelly beans for $2.

I looked at regular jelly beans, $1/12oz. bag at Wal-Mart, and at the Wal-Mart Great Value Fruit Smiles ($1/12oz.)

that we buy for Abbie and that don't last because I eat them, and Great Value Fruit Slices ($1/12oz.),

and the calorie/carb per serving content was exactly the same as the Sport Beans: 100cal. and 25g carb, give or take a couple. True, the Sport Beans have some sodium and potassium, but I've got sodium capsules and Gatorade for that. True, they have a few vitamins, but I take a multi-vitamin pill for that.

I decided the Sport Beans were a rip-off and bought the Wal-Mart candy, which worked wonderfully along with Cheese Combos and string cheese on long bike rides.

So what's the problem?

The Wal-Mart candy is cheap, and tastes good, and I can (and do) eat handfuls of it as snacks. I'll be carrying them on my bike all right, but on my hips and thighs, not in my Bento Box. Plus I have to keep buying them so I have some on my bike.

At $2 for 10 beans, I'm not going to be doing my evening noshing on Jelly Belly Sport Beans. They'll still be around come ride time.

Plus, it turns out I can get them for $.96 at Wal-Mart.


My math must be wrong.

Shelley has started a kitty in which IMFL'ers predict their finish time, and whoever comes closest to their prediction wins the pot.

Last year, my projection went like this:
Probable finish: 16:59:59
Possible finish: 16:XX:xx.
In-my-dreams finish: Sub-16.

The way it went down:
Start of race: Anything under 17 hours.
Start of run: I've got 8 hours, I can walk the whole thing if I want.
Middle of run: I'm way ahead of the game, I'm gonna walk a few miles and not break my butt.
Around mile 21: Holy $h!t, if I quit this lollygagging, I could finish in 15 hrs. I'm gonna walk/jog.
Mile 23: I better not walk anymore at all.
Finish: 14:58.

OK, here's some math, based on recent training results, including transitions.
Swim: 1:50
T-1: 5:00 (no jawing with tent-mates, even if they turn out to be my closest friends.)
Bike: 6:45 (15 min longer than ChesapeakeMan, where I went too hard, not saving anything 'cause I wasn't running afterward)
Bathroom break(s) on bike: 3:00 (I pee standing up w/o disrobing. email me for how-to, ladies)
Special needs stop on bike: 3:00
T-2: 3:00
Run: 5:40 (walking only through aid stations -- I really didn't need all that walking last year)
Finish: 13:29 ?????

No way? Can I have added this up right?

Of course, this assumes no flat tires or other mechanical trouble. However, it's adding 10 minutes to the marathon time I turn in when I'm sick but do the marathon anyway. And 20 minutes to last year's swim time, since I won't be carried downstream by an outgoing tide. And adding 15 minutes to the bike time I just did at ChesapeakeMan, PLUS bathroom stops, which I didn't take there (for which my coach gave me hell, so now I'm drinking more.) It's taking about 50 minutes off last year's "run" time, during which I walked the first mile and about 6 miles straight in the middle.

OK, revised projections:
Probable: 14:55 (PR by 3 minutes)
Possible: 14:00
In-my-dreams: 13:29.

Holy cripe. Dare I dream?

Update: Yep, math was wrong. I added it up a 1000th time and it's 14:29 in-my-dreams, not 13:29. Whew. That lets off a lot of pressure!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


A good training brick!

40 miles at 15.8mph, followed by about a 4-mile run. Transition 2:07, whew!

On the bike I kept riding through clouds of gnats. Some got in my mouth. Protein. I have little dead bugs all over me -- arms, legs, face. Less so now that my sweat has dried -- some fell off as I got dry. I'm going to go take a shower.

I feel human again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Well, maybe nothing so fun as capers, but weird stuff, dumb stuff, going-crazy stuff.

For one thing, I seem to have mislaid my brain. This is not anything unusual. I have things I use every day just suddenly disappear from my life. Sometimes I find them. Sometimes I don't. I hope I find my brain. My whoop-de-do job in the campground office requires that I be able to read both print and numbers, and understand how to use a calendar.

I had that dream about missing the race start -- taking my relaxed, no-nerves time and missing it. Telling myself when finally on the way that all those bikes going by must be the pros, who had a head start, and that the age-groupers are still swimming, and I might catch up. I hate that dream. I've had variations of it before marathons.

The other night I had that dream about my teeth falling out.... from what I understand, just about everyone has that dream. It's supposed to have something to do with performance anxiety, "losing face," or something like that. I hate that dream too.

I'm sniffling and sneezing and drinking Airborne. Stretching my ailing shoulder.

Last night I googled for a long time to find the guy I didn't marry in the 1970's and found out he became a Catholic priest.

I am positive that my WHOLE year's training is going to go down the drain in the next 2-and-a-half weeks. And that what training I DO do is going to result in the accident or injury that puts me out of the race.

Slowing down the ass-breaking training makes me feel like I've dropped out of the HUMAN race. I don't feel like myself.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Read this. It'll help you visualize (or fondly remember) your Ironman race. Or the one your friend, spouse, grandmother, etc., is/was crazy enough even to consider, let alone go through with.

But seriously, folks....

Regarding IM Kona, the latest bulletin on states that as of now they do not anticipate a change in Saturday's race plans following today's earthquake.

I was wondering that out loud as we were watching FoxNews. Then almost clapped my hand over my mouth, but my husband did NOT say, "A 6.6 earthquake affecting several billion people and you're worried about an Ironman there that you're not even doing?"

Well, yeah. I've got friends who have a lot of themselves and their bank accounts invested in it. And the 1,990 other entrants that I don't know are into it pretty heavy, too. Yes, it was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news.

However, my civilian husband apparently respected my concern.... or wisely kept his counsel.

The older of the two couples who own this campground (family-run business) is over there on a cruise ship at the moment. They have contacted their son here and they're fine. They thought the ship had hit something. All cruise ships and other vessels underway were ordered to move out to sea.

I can't imagine an earth force strong enough to cause a floating ship such a jolt as to make its passengers think they'd had a collision. And it wasn't even a "major" quake.... only a "strong" one.


Saturday, October 14, 2006


My shoulder hurts.

It started maybe 3 weeks ago, noticed it mostly while swimming, although it always felt tight like I needed to stretch out between my neck and shoulder. Then while making a reservation in the campground office I discovered I was holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder while I wrote. AHA! I'd been doing that every time the phone rang.

So I stopped that. I was glad it wasn't a swimming injury.

I don't think I had any shoulder trouble over the 2.4-mile swim at ChesapeakeMan.

Next swim.... hmmm, a little uncomfortable, no big deal. Last night's laps..... Ow. Oh, geez. Damn. Hell. WHAT IS THIS???? I bailed out of the last 10 minutes of the swim. My stroke count and lap times were deteriorating visibly and I thought, I'm going to hurt myself.

I was so happy with my last few swims because I got the Total Immersion book and figured out how to get more distance out of each stroke. But now my shoulder hurts again. I don't think it's exactly caused by swimming, but swimming aggravates it. Maybe because I'm pulling stronger, and longer.

Damn. I'm 3 weeks out from the Ironman. And I've got a bum shoulder.

My coach rewrote my swims for no time goals, no stroke count, no nothing except JFS (Just F-in' Swim.) Easy stuff. Nothing fancy. No watch (for counting laps and calculating pace.) No watch???? I'd rather swim without my suit. Well, no, not really.... I'll do without the watch.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Big-time taperitis here. Wanting to work out more than scheduled. More often. Harder. Longer. I feel great, why not go and make sure I'm still strong? Nope, cut-back time.

I saw a new saddle I wanted to buy. Buying stuff is what people do during their tapers. But a new saddle would be dumb. I don't have any really long rides left to see how it would work on a really long ride. I CAN'T GET A NEW SADDLE NOW!!! But I wanted it. I thought it might give me a better Ironman.

Last night I got on an internet-IM-article binge. Like an eating disorder, only a "training" disorder: denying myself what I wanted and reading about it instead -- like someone who won't let herself eat but pores over cookbooks.

I kept going to more and more how-to-train articles ("GACK! I didn't do it like that...") and what-to-eat articles ("GACK! I don't use that stuff, I'm sunk...") and what-to-drink articles ("GACK!!! I'm going to dehydrate or de-sodium or de-potassium or decompensate one way or another....") Somewhere in there must be the one golden tip or hint or suggestion or rule of thumb that will give me a better Ironman.

I finally just went to bed.

Which I should have done in the first place.

Shelley wrote in her blog a few days ago: "20 more sleeps until I go to Florida."

I've been thinking about this.

I'm cutting back biking. Cutting back running. Cutting back swimming. But as of tonight I have 21 more sleeps until race day, and on that I'm not cutting back. I've worked hard to make the most of every single ride, run, and swim. Now, while I do less of those, I'm going to concentrate on making the most of every single sleep. I don't have 20 rides, runs or swims left. But I have 21 sleeps. That's something I can do. As much as usual. MORE than usual. Hopefully, BETTER than usual. While making myself MORE ready to do this thing.

Taper time.

Sleep time.

Thanks for the tip, Shelley! You always seem to know what to do....

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Suppose I don't make the swim cutoff. $450 entry fee down the drink without even the chance to finish the race.

Suppose I get scared and panic on the swim.

Suppose I have some major mechanical meltdown on the bike.

Suppose the nutrition I've trained with doesn't work anymore... or suppose it's just dumb, my gumdrops, Combos and string cheese when everyone else is slurping high-tech gels.

Suppose I'm just going along at my own pace but I don't have 4 bike lengths between me and the next person and I get penalized for drafting. When I'm just minding my own business.

Suppose my favorite tri shorts that I've been training in ("wear what you'll wear on race day") have had enough and don't protect me from my saddle on race day.

Suppose I can't figure out what to wear (even though I've been training in what I'll wear.)

Suppose I can't .... well.... just suppose I can't whatever.

Suppose I pass out on the run.

Suppose I drop dead.

Suppose I have to go to the hospital.

Note to self: Photocopy insurance card and tape to back of race number bib. Plant real card on my husband.

Suppose my shoes hurt (I can never get them right.)

Suppose everyone else registered for this race is supposing the very same things...

Scared Scared Scared Scared Scared

You'd think I'd never done this before.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


From training, anyway. I did work, but only 9 - noon.

I'm glad I'm not training today. I'm tired. My quads are sore. The last 2 days (long bike followed the next day by 20-mile bike and 13-mile run) were my last hurrah before officially tapering. I'm glad. I'm ready for a break.

And already I'm getting taperitis: GACK, my quads are sore after running only 13 miles? A marathon is twice that far!! Well, but I ran the 13 miles after biking 20. H*ll, I'll be running a marathon after biking 112!!! Well, but I'd biked 67 miles the day before. So??? I'll be biking 112!!! After swimming 2-and-a-half miles!!!

I can't do this!!! See, my quads are sore after that little thing I did!! I'll never make it!!

Except, I already made it, last year. And I made the swim and the bike, just last week. And I've run 20 marathons. Or 21. I forget. I'm losing count. It doesn't matter. It shows I can do it. I just need to work up, mostly mentally, to doing it again.

That's what tapering is for, to let my body heal from training, stronger than before, so I can tear it to pieces again on the Ironman course.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


On my 13-mile run today, I found in a ditch the perfect on-the-run water bowl for Journey: a plastic Skoal can. (For my non-redneck friends, that's snuff, "smokeless" tobacco, gives you oral, throat, esophageal and stomach cancer.) It holds a quarter of a cup. If she licks it dry, I refill it. If she leaves some, I haven't wasted much from my Camelbak (it was hot today, water was at a premium out there.) The way she used to lick from the stream I squirted from the Camelbak, a lot landed on the ground. Not this way. And it fits easily in the palm of my hand for carrying. Its edge is sharp enough that, wielded right, it could be used as a weapon.

A Skoal can also makes a really good ice-scraper for your windshield (in case you want to know.)

So. Yesterday, 67-mile bike ride down. Today, 20-mile bike and 13-mile run (measured while I was out on the bike.) Transition was 2:31.52 transition (including shrugging on the Camelbak and leashing up the dog), run time was 2:25 with a negative split.


Other things learned (besides the new use for a Skoal can):

  • The flip-cap from an 8-oz bottle of Wal-Mart Great Value mustard or relish fits a 24-oz Gatorade Endurance bottle. Much easier for refilling an aero bottle than something you have to unscrew. This isn't an issue at a race where they hand you refills but when you're out on your own, it is.
  • The soft bite-and-suck valve from the Camelbak fits the aerobottle straw. I'm glad about this, as yesterday I cut my lip in two places learning to use the straw. (Yes, friends, I used the SOFT straw, not the HARD one.) However, when the valve closes, air doesn't get in to push the remaining water back down the straw, and I got splashed from the tube when I went over a bump. This I fixed by blowing down the straw until it made bubbles. I may cut the tip off the valve so it's open again like the original straw. Just so it's soft so that Klutz here doesn't cut her mouth.
  • A shower scrubbie-pouffie thing works better than the mesh plug that came with the aero bottle. ZERO splashing out the mouth of the bottle. It still holds the full 20 oz. (Thanks to Rainbow for confirming this -- I'd read it on a forum but she actually uses it.) I left the hanging loop on the pouffie and discovered I can carry the bottle over my wrist when I've got my hands full of other bike gear.
  • I can do a 67-mile ride one day and a 20/13 brick the next. And run a negative split on the 13.
  • Northern Virginia in October can be hot as hell. Just ask Journey. (Or me.)

It's the first time I've ever seen Journey acting tired on a run. There was about a 4-mile stretch of no shade and she indicated she wanted to stop; I assumed for a pit stop but she lay down on the grass. I've never seen her do that. I let her rest, gave her water (she wouldn't take it so I poured it on her head), and in a minute she was game to go. We came to a mud puddle which she waded in. I said, "Journey, sit!" She looked skeptical but sat, in the puddle. "Journey, down!" She looked aghast. I insisted. "DOWN!" She lay down. And immediately got the point. She stretched out. She rolled. She wallowed. She acted like a pig. When I asked if she was ready, she bounced up, covered with mud, and gave me her "I was BORN ready!" look. She frisked in front of me, as usual, the rest of the run (just a couple miles), splattering that crappy mud all over me. It gave her a new lease on the run. I should try it.

Maybe that's another thing learned. Another tip from a friend.

Monday, October 09, 2006


That ride I didn't want to do. Did it. Loved it. I didn't make 75 miles (did 67), not because I couldn't but because that's how many miles were in the route I took.

I went east on U.S. 55 to Wardensville, WV. Now, as soon as I crossed the state line into WV, the nice gently-rolling Virginia byway I was on became West-by-Gawd-Virginia, 6,000 miles up in the air. Apparently I was going uphill even when I thought I was going down, because at one point I got off the bike and checked to see if my brakes were stuck against my tires or something. Nope. Everything was fine with the bike. It's just West-by-Gawd-Virginia, of which Garrett County, MD is part, even thought it's in Maryland.

Anyway. Finally I was on a grade that could be perceived as nothing other than pure uphill. Up and up and up I ground, in my granny gear, for the longest time. And up. And up. And up. FINALLY got to the top, where one of those down-bound-truck-warning signs informed me: "9% grade next 4 miles." I wailed, "Oh, no, I'm going to have to go up it on the way home!" That must have been what I just came up. I went down it with my brakes on most of the time. I don't do downhills hell-bent-for-leather unless (a) I know the hill like the back of my hand or (b) I'm wearing leather. (Not that I have any.)

Stopped in Wardensville at a 7-11 to refill my fluids and food. The sign on the bathroom said, "HALT!! Not a public restroom. Management must OK use." So I asked the cashier. Told her, "I've ridden from Winchester [32 miles], and I drank more water than I probably should have, and I really need to go." She said, "Gosh, I'd like to say yes, but I can't let anyone use it right now, they're counting money in there."


Found a laundromat nearby with a very nice bathroom. And then a very nice police officer who told me a MUCH better way to go home. Rolling, a few hills, beautiful scenery, thru 2 WV counties and out onto US Rte. 50, which is the very same road I'm using for my virtual cross-country bike ride, which I haven't updated for quite a while. It was neat to be on Rte. 50 here in VA, which would be so close to the end of my virtual trip, when in fact I'm so close to my training-for-IMFL journey.

Anyway.... I did it, and I'm glad! I'm actually kind of looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow's 20/11 brick. Or 20/13, if I feel really good. Thing is, I tend to set these expectations of myself; if 13 is one of the choices, I'll have to be next-to-dragging to decide on the 11.

Or I could do 12.


After I'm done sitting here, posting this, I'm going to start getting ready for my last "really long" ride before IMFL... at least 65 miles, 75 if I feel good.

I don't feel like going at all.

I feel like I already did my IM last week. I had anticipated ChesapeakeMan way more than I realized, and it was Iron-distance in the swim and bike, and then that long run the next day, and I feel like I should be done. Physically I'm fine. It's just some kind of mental let-down. The THING is over, it should be downtime now. But the MAIN EVENT is still to come.

And I still have to go out there and train for it.

It's a beautiful clear day, high to be in the mid-to-upper 70's, light breezes. Couldn't get much better for a ride. I am off work all day. And all day tomorrow, also, when I have a 20/11 brick, 20/13 if I feel good.

OK, out there and at 'em.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I know, I know..... IMFL is stil 27 days out. Bolder says my life should be consumed with IMFL right now, which it is, except that I need to look beyond to keep from getting depressed. Because, when it is all over, I will get depressed. Marathoners call it PMD -- Post Marathon Depression. In fact, I've had a little of that this past week, following the Chesapeake Man AquaVelo (and running 15 miles the day after that.) I've been tired, and I've felt like I shouldn't have to train, because my event was over. It's been hard to jerk myself awake and say, "Hey, you haven't DONE your event yet, get out there and run!!!"

So, as I wrote in NEW QUEST, I am thinking marathon PR for next fall. Well, not an all-time PR, but a PR for the last 5 years and, as I said, hopefully, HOPEFULLY, a ticket to Boston. Except I'll still have to buy my own ticket....

I'm not doing speedwork, not yet. But on short runs, like an hour or so, I'm running myself a little faster than I really would like to be running, and I'm trying for negative splits.

I'm happy right now. Just did 6 miles in 58:09; trip out, 30:42, trip back, 27:27. 3:15 negative split! 9:09 pace on the return trip, yay!

Now I'm going out to see what I can do with my bike computer to make it visible around my new aero bottle, for tomorrow's ride. Going to take some engineering, I'm afraid.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Here's me coming around a corner at ChesapeakeMan! You can go here to see the rest, but they're basically the same, except that some were taken before I took the ponytail out of my hair,

like this one:

Like my red-and-black color scheme? That blue Camelbak tube sort of wrecks it, though :-( However, I have, just this very day, acquired a white/black/red Profile Aero Bottle, which, if it works as well as everyone says it does, will replace the Camelbak for races (I'll still need it for long rides by myself.) My bike computer is nearly hidden by it, so now I'm going to have to move my computer ... and I don't know where else it can go. It was hard even finding room for it with my aero armrests on the bars. There's some kind of adaptor knob you can get to mount it to a bar going front-to-back rather than side to side. I'll have to check the feasibility of that. ~Sigh~ It's always something.

Oh.... and this wetsuit picture? That's not me.

Or, at least, it's not my wetsuit. Mine doesn't have a triangle logo thingie on the front of it like that.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I'm starting to think about Life After Ironman Florida.

I'm going public with an aspiration (delusion?)that a few of my friends may be aware of.

I want to qualify for Boston.

At my age (55-59) it would take a 4:15 marathon. I've run that before. I've run under that before. With structured speedwork, I think I might be able to again.

So I'm looking on and for marathons in Sept. and Oct. that are reputed to be fast, are a reasonable drive from Maryland, in states I haven't run before. Columbus is a fast course that I'm well-familiar with but I'd like to add to my 50-State tally into the bargain.

I'm looking at these:
Atlantic City (probably Oct. 14, 2007)
Johnstown, PA (probably either Sept. 30 or Oct. 7)
Rochester, NY (not as close by, but possible, probably Sept. 16)

I haven't run a marathon yet in any of these states. They're early enough to recover from and then re-train for Boston (if I make it), and also could be made to fit whatever timing we have for our fall traveling to wherever.

Johnstown is only about an hour and a half from Garrett County, MD and it looks like that would be the easiest to get to. According to reviews from previous runners, traffic control could be better but I'm used to running in traffic. There's a net elevation drop of 500+ feet in a combination of downhill and rolling. I'm used to that. I might just go for that one. I might just.


My yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet has disappeared right off my wrist. Somewhere between the end of ChesapeakeMan and yesterday, when I realized it wasn't there.

This is the second time this has happened. Previously, when I did the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon, I noticed that afternoon that it was gone.

Luckily we got one in our ChesapeakeMan goody bag so I have a replacement.

I've heard of people who haven't had theirs off since they put it on several years ago. Mine won't stay on. I think I'm going to cut a section out and close it with yellow duct tape to make it smaller.

Too bad I'm not that small all over. I used to be.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006



I just got back from swimming.
1800 meters, 50 minutes.

I'm still tired from the weekend. I stopped to rest every 50-100 meters. I couldn't keep a rhythm. I breathed on the 3rd stroke, on the 2nd stroke, on the 4th stroke, on every stroke. I got water up my nose. I inhaled mouthfuls and choked. I couldn't keep my legs up. I wanted to quit after the first 5 laps.

I should think positive. When I first started doing triathlons, my 1-mile time was 1:20. By the end of the first year, I had it down to 1:10. Then I got a wetsuit and it came down to 1:00. Now it's two years later and a mile is taking me 45-50 minutes.

I will never be fast.

But at least I can make the cutoff times.

I hope. Barring bad surf or currents.

ChesapeakeMan down, IMFL to go.


Hey, everyone, Nancy has posted a great report about this event. Everything she wrote, I went, Yeah! Yeah, me too! Yeah, it was just like that!

Except I didn't throw up.

And it took me two tries to find the Special Needs stop. Maybe Nancy noticed it on her first trip past it because after I missed it they started advertising themselves via bullhorn :-)

And although I didn't see Nancy's unsportsmanlike guy riding side-by-side with his Dear Whoever in the van, I had to put on my brakes when a driver pulled out of a string of about 5 cars to pass the rest of them, with me coming along in her oncoming lane. Did she pull back into line? No, she just kept coming at me. There was no shoulder. I hit the brakes and slowed down. I didn't have to get off the bike, though.

Nancy's food discoveries always make me want to try them. Uncrustables, hmmm. So, are they more durable and/or less ooze-y than just home-assembled PB&J on Wonder Bread? I'm all for the cheapest option.

I don't think I included, in my somewhat-vague description of my bike ride, that all-important information on my nutrition and hydration that everyone always wants to know. At least I do.

I had set my watch to beep every 10 minutes for a drink, with a longer beep every half-hour for food or a salt capsule. Food was a mixture of Starburst jelly beans, Wal-Mart Great Value Fruit Smiles, Wal-Mart Great Value Fruit Slice Candies, cheese Combos, and string cheese. I had 68 oz of Gatorade Endurance in my Camelbak, and 2 24-oz water bottles in my frame cages. I loved my food mix. The jelly beans were a little too sweet; I'll probably skip them next time.

First half-hour, all I took was water.

After that, every 10 minutes I took 4 long swallows of Gatorade from my Camelback; every half-hour a handful of my weird party mix, and every hour a salt capsule, at which time I drank water rather than Gatorade.

I was counting on the Gatorade to do double-duty for both fluid and calories/carbs.

Last year I loved it when the half-hour beeper went off, because it helped mark nice big milestones of time; I often thought, "Wow, food time again already?" This year the long beeps seemed to come even sooner. I loved it. I was flying! I must have started my timer on the 2nd of the 3 10-minute intervals instead of the first, because the half-hour beeps weren't always coming on the half-hour, sometimes 40 minutes or something. This confused me a little, especially late in the ride, when I forgot whether it was salt time or not, and whether I had eaten anything at the last beep (I got off schedule when I was hungry before a beep and then skipped eating on the beep)..... I'd be pedaling like mad, watching out for bumps in the road and fighting the wind, and "Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep...." OK, what am I supposed to do? Did I take salt on the last beep or the one before that? What's it time for, and is it time for it already???

I wonder if they make a talking watch, like blind people often have, that you can program with a robot issuing audible messages: "Eat. Something. Now." "Take. Salt. Now." "Drink. Water. Now." "Breathe. In. Breathe. Out."

Later, when I was clearing off all my watch splits and resetting it, I disovered that I had set it for TWO 10-minute intervals, not three, and it had been beeping to eat or take salt every 20 minutes. And here I thought the time was flying because I was having fun. Obviously, I was confused before I ever got on the bike.

My coach, while tickled with my overall performance and my time, yelled at me for not taking in enough fluid. She was sort of appalled when I said I didn't pee during the bike ride. (I had peed about a gallon and a half after the swim, though; probably took my kidneys awhile to start catching up again.) As a matter of fact, after I did the math (68 oz Gatorade from Camelbak; 24 oz water; about 4 oz Coke, which was a bad idea and which I traded in at an aid stop for Gatorade, drank about half of that) I discovered my total intake had been about 108 oz. for 8.5 hours of swimming and hard biking, about 12.7 oz/hr. She said I needed to aim for at least 20 and preferably 30, if I wanted to be hydrated enough to run a marathon after getting off the bike.

After I got home, I counted out how many swigs it takes from my Camelback to consume 8 oz of water. I need 10 swigs every 10 minutes to equal 20-30oz/hour. This will mean a stop to refill my Camelbak, which can be a little time-consuming, as it's hard to screw the lid back on when it's full to the gills.

So I have ordered an aero bottle. And I have read on some forums (fora? What's the plural of "forum"?) that on bumps they can splash right through the scubbie-poufie-thingie and get Gatorade all over you which of course dries sticky, so it's best just to put water in your aero bottle.

So if I do that, I will have to recalculate my calories and carbs. Might have to go back to using gel. Or honey homebrew, like Nancy.... Or I might just get extravagant and spring for a keg of HammerGel.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Wow. Now I'm tired. It always hits me sort of as a delayed reaction.

Oh, I forgot.... I didn't report on my post-AquaVelo run. Yeah. I decided on 3 hours, which I figured would be about 15 miles and quite reasonable and appropriate after doing IM-length swim and run the day before. I ran out for 1:30 and then turned around. Equal splits despite a headwind on the return trip. When I left Nancy's to start home, I measured my distance with the truck and my turnaround was at exactly 7.5 miles, so it worked out perfectly.

Followed by a 4-hour drive home. I got really sleepy after about half an hour and stopped for coffee, a Coke, an ice cream cone, and got some Boost and some more water for the rest of the trip.

Yesterday was a rest day (except for work.) Today was an optional short easy bike-run brick: 45-minute easy bike, 20-minute easy run.

I didn't do the brick.

I intended to, after buying a few groceries, after work. But I nearly fell asleep over my grocery cart. Came home, put the groceries away, watched a movie, and I'm going to bed now at 7:30p.m. I am really, really tired. Like, really fatigued.

I feel as if I'd finished my Ironman, mentally and physically. It felt pretty easy at the time, well, not easy, but not like I was killing myself -- pleasantly strenuous. But now, mentally or physically, I don't feel inclined to go out there and keep training. Feels like I ought to be resting on my laurels, not still working at it.

The next 3 days (if I train as scheduled for this, my final peak week) are going to be hard. An hour and 15-minute swim tomorrow; 75-mile bike Thursday; 20/13 bike/run brick Friday. Then a couple rest days and then I start my taper.

I don't want to think about training right now. I'm going to bed with the sun to get a good long rest before getting up at 5:30 tomorrow for swimming before work.

Gad, I feel tired.