Thursday, August 31, 2006


Wish I'd been able to take this picture, but didn't have my camera along. A black bear with 2 cubs crossed the road not 100 yards in front of me while I was biking, and stopped maybe 50 feet off the side of the road. Since bears can sprint at 30mph, I didn't want to ride that close to a female with cubs, so I stopped. She looked at me. I looked at her. Finally I said, "Hi!" cordially but loudly, whereupon she turned and took her cubs off into the woods, and I rode on by.

They were so black and so beautiful. The cubs were not quite as big as Journey -- about the size of Springer spaniels. This year's cubs (they stay with the mother 2 years.) I feel so privileged to have seen them so close.

I saw lots of deer, too, including a doe with 2 fawns. This is always lovely to see but not unusual. The bear with cubs is less usual. I see a bear maybe once or twice a year here, or every year or two -- it's always special, especially the cubs.

It was a lovely ride. I started out tired but kept my gears easy, didn't push, took roads I haven't taken before, kept making up new loops.... I was scheduled for 75 miles but being tired hoped I'd manage 50; however, I kept feeling better with the easy spinning and had done 68 miles by the time I got home. I could easily have done the other 7 but it was getting dark. Spent too much time having lunch with my mother.

It was a beautiful, blustery early autumn day. Yes, early autumn... our trees start turning the end of July, and by the end of August there are a few yellow trees and quite a few leaves down on the back roads. It was overcast and alternately misting, drizzling, and sprinkling, 60*F and a little windy. I just had shorts and a short-sleeve jersey but as long as I kept pedaling I wasn't cold. A few people had their woodstoves going already, and the air smelled wonderful. Except when I got a whiff of the paper mill about 30 miles off... this indicates a weather front coming up from the south, which is Tropical Storm Ernesto.

Deer, bears, fallen leaves, wood smoke.... mmmmm.

This week's training so far:
Sunday: Biked 70 miles, 4:46 (total time 4:50, 4 minutes in stops.)
Tuesday: Ran 13, 2:20.
Wednesday: Swam 3900yds -- 2.2 miles -- 1:30.
Thursday: Biked 68 miles, 5:14 (total time 5:24, 10 minutes in stops, including watching the bears.)

A good week.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Looks like the tide will be INCOMING, that is, AGAINST the swimmers, for Chesapeakeman's point-to-point swim. Race start time is an hour after low tide... right about when it starts coming in.

We better start swimming now, Nancy....

I may change my blog name to AGAINST THE TIDE.

From the MD Dept. of Natural Resources Fisheries & Wildlife Tables:

Tides for Cambridge starting with September 30, 2006.

Day High Tide Height Sunrise
/Low Time Feet Sunset
Sa 30 Low 5:45 AM 1.1 6:59 AM
30 High 9:57 AM 1.6 6:49 PM
30 Low 3:41 PM 0.7
30 High 10:47 PM 2.8

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


.... train anyway.

For some reason I'm still tired from Sunday's bike ride. I was scheduled for a 12-mile run today, put it off till mid-afternoon hoping I'd work up some kind of desire for it, which didn't happen. So I set out with heavy legs and a heavy heart. Thought about Commodore's thoughts on quitting. Visualized being 12 miles from the finish line in the run of IMFL, when surely I won't feel like running 12 miles. At mile 2, I started with the beer bottles: "10 bottles of beer on the wall, 10 bottles of beer...." Every mile, I took down another bottle of beer. And the miles ticked by.

I visualized running with a handful of people in the Ironman, all tired from the bike, all wishing we were done, all of us helping each other along. You can't bike together in the IM, but you can run together. I thought about walking through the aid stations, then saying to my group, "Come on, let's go," and the whole group limps off at a jog again.

8 bottles of beer on the wall.... 7 bottles of beer... come on, gang, we can run 7 miles, look how many times we've run 7 miles before.

I got a blood blister on my toe. It squished with every step. And eventually I got back home, the run was done, I didn't quit, I didn't bag it, and it's more miles in the bank and practice in being mentally tough.

I am going to do this Ironman.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Here are my two sweet pets, Annie and Journey... thought you guys would like this.

I'm relaxing after a 70-mile bike ride... stats: 70.86 miles, moving time 4:46, total time 4:50 (read: almost NO stopping!!), average 14.8mph. My average speed has increased by about 1.5mph over the summer. I'm looking forward to some faster times on flat roads at ChesapeakeMan and IMFL. I did a favorite 20-mile loop twice and then my favorite 30-mile out-and-back. My lower back and my lateral quads hurt towards the end. After a plate of food and 3 aspirins, I'm feeling a lot better. It was a good ride. A really good ride. But I was glad not to have another 42 miles followed by a marathon.... thought lot about what Commodore said about quitting. I think that essay is going to keep me going a lot in the next 10 weeks. Even though I'm nowhere near quitting anymore, I still think about it, think about taking the shortcut home, wonder just like last year whether I'm up to this venture. Just because I did it last year doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to make it this year. But I will not quit. Not me.

Today's ride finally took me out of Colorado into Kansas, in my fantasy "Tour d'Amerique." Click on the link in my sidebar to see my map so far! Judging by how straight the road has become, it's flatland, which is no doubt a distinct relief -- maybe I can start making better time now :-)

I'm watching "Hondo" on TCM. I've been waiting probably 2 years for it to air sometime. John Wayne is the star. It was made in 1953 and, unlike a lot of movies of that era, has real scenery, not painted backdrops and fake shrubbery. I'm recording it. TCM does not have commercials, which makes it even better."Hondo" was Western author Louis L'Amour's first full-length novel. I LOVE Louis L'Amour. Stories of journeys, adventure, suspense, survival, courage, and honor, people pulling together and making it on their own, living on coffee, beans, bacon and wild game. Hokey as hell -- the good guys always win, the bad guys always get what's coming to them, the women are either virtuous and strong, or ladies of the evening, Indians are mostly savage heathens -- but I love 'em.

Friday, August 25, 2006

2.4 hours?

A couple people have commented that 2.4 hours seems like a lot to spend in meditation, prayer, or whatever.

I think so too. In fact, my doc and I laughed about it and decided 10% of waking hours was a better goal to shoot for. And even that, something to shoot for, not something to expect to achieve immediately. A goal to train for.

Even that seems like a lot.

Maybe you do it like athletic training... increase by 10% a week.

However, I easily spend 3 or 4 hours a day on email, blogging, mapping my running routes, looking up sports nutrition and athletic injuries and training programs on the internet. My athletic training and goals could easily be a religion.

Nancy asked about multi-tasking.... meditating while swimming, etc.

We're on the right track here. Except when I'm swimming I think, one, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. Running: One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Biking: One, two, three, four. And so on.

Sometimes while I'm running, a song with the rhythm of my cadence will play itself in my head: "Now there's RED-haired BLUE-ticks all O-ver the SOUTH; LOVE got me IN here and LOVE got me OUT." That's a good one... Big Red the hound dog, trained by a prisoner, who used the dog to escape. Good song. But I could be ruminating on a Psalm as well as a redbone country song. But the Psalms don't have that catchy rhythm.

2.4 hours.

Why not 24? Why not 100%? In everything give thanks. Pray without ceasing. Offer your body as a living sacrifice.

Make every moment of life a prayer.

Why not?

Is it possible?


I've just been looking at my training totals so far for this year.

In 2006 I have covered:
Swim: 50,536yds = 28.7 miles (45.9km)
Bike: 1689.7 miles (2705km)
Run: 510.1 miles (820.9km)

This is the equivalent of 11.9 Ironman triathlons (geez, within a tenth of a mile of finishing my 12th) plus 3 century rides plus 7.5 free-standing marathons, and another 47.9 bike miles.

And I'm not even approaching the mileage some of the rest of you have been putting in.

We are awesome, gang.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


This is long; I've highlighted the main points in different colors, which will give you the short version if you want it.

This has been such a good day.

Started out with doing some research online for godly counsel on a question of theology/scripture/personal morals/faithfulness that's been bugging me. I found the results of this search very reassuring and comforting. Last night I was talking to my psychiatrist (yeah, I see a psychiatist a few times a year, take some meds) about why I feel spiritually dead lately, and he suggested that it wouldn't hurt to "tithe" 10% of my time to God. I asked... "You mean 10% of 24 hours or 10% of my WAKING hours?" He just laughed. This is like asking, "10% of my gross income or 10% of my bring-home?" Right now I'm going with waking hours. But he and I both hit on the fact that 10% of 24 hours is 2.4 hours, a number which has great significance to me right now, and we pondered whether that means something. Probably not. I asked how I'm going to find roughly 1.6 hours in the schedule that's already coming out my ears and we both said at the same time: "Seek first the kingdom of God and all else shall be given unto you besides." Well, I was given a lot today.

Took both pets (Journey and kitty Annie) to the vet to update shots and the cost for both of them was HALF what I had been expecting.

Went to the bike/sport shop for new swim goggles and got great TYR race goggles for $10. I looked at streamlined red Camelbaks, asked the cashier if there's a layaway plan, and she said, "Actually those are going to be on sale Labor Day Weekend." Cool!!! I looked for red bike gloves but they didn't have any, only gray and black. Their Trek gloves were all $24.95.

Went for a swim in my wetsuit and new goggles, an hour and 10 minutes scheduled, but I kept going a little more, 3450 yards in 1:17 (1.96 miles), which if my calculations (including the length of the lake swim area) are correct, works out to 2:23/100 yds. My time is definitely coming down, even though the wind came up and I had to fight some chop, the kind that slaps you in the face, makes you take in a mouthful of water instead of air, makes you have to sight over the waves. I was thrilled with this swim.

While eating lunch, I looked on eBay for gloves. Holy smoke, there were the same brand-new red Trek gloves, size small, $5.95, auction ending in 2 hours 45 minutes, 1 bid so far. Are you serious??? I decided to wait; usually I wait till the last few minutes to bid. This way my bid doesn't just push the price up, and it helps me decide whether or not to jump in, since by then probably the other bidder(s) have gone as high as they're going, and if I decide to go that high I can easily outbid by a less than a dollar, and they won't have time to retaliate.

Since I felt so good and had a couple hours left for the gloves, I went for a bike ride. The ending auction gave me incentive to push a little to get back in time. I also had the chance to try out my latest homemade energy gel (recipe below). Bike ride stats: 20 miles, 1:14, average pace 16.3mph; 16 minutes faster than when I rode this route about 6 weeks ago. This day is going so incredibly well.

Back home, I had some supper while I watched the auction. No further action. So I put in my bid with 4 minutes to go and got the red Trek gloves, sold in the bike shop for $24.95, for $6.06. Totally unbelievable. The only possible catch is, they're coming from Great Britain, hope the shipping isn't out of sight. But this day is going so well, it can't go wrong. Even if shipping is $10, I've still saved $8 or $9 (with tax), and they didn't have any red ones in the store.

I can tell I've worked out but I'm still feeling good, and may even go out for a short run, making the day a triple. I can't believe how much difference it makes taking every other day off.


Dollar General Store has just about all the canned and packaged foods I buy, at about half what they cost at Wal-Mart. Brand-name cosmetics and toiletries cost next to nothing, too.

If you mix peanut butter with an equal amount of mashed garbanzo beans, it cuts the fat in half and still tastes like peanut butter.


  • 3 tablespoons jelly (I used grape, $1 for quart jar at the Dollar Store
  • 1/2 cup maltodextrin ($2 for a pound in the liquor store's "moonshining" section)
  • About a teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (270mg sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid -- water, juice, Gatorade, whatever

Microwave the jelly 20-30 seconds to melt it. Stir in the liquid. Stir in salt and maltodextrin Yes, it will all fit in there. You can use Carbo-Pro but it's $20-$24 or so for, I think, a 2 or 3 pound can. Stir in vanilla. This made enough to just fill my 4.5oz gel flask. I didn't use the liquid, and after the jelly jelled back up, I couldn't squeeze the stuff out of my flask. By then I was on the ride. I stopped and squoze some Gatorade into it from my Camelback and shook it like crazy. That worked. So put in that extra tablespoon of liquid.

By my figures, this should have about 350 calories, as slightly less than 90 grams of carbohydrate. I couldn't find the exact calorie content of plain maltodextrin, but a product called Carbo Gain lists maltodextrin as just about its only ingredient, and states that 1/2 cup is 190 calories. Carbo-Pro gave information per oz or 28.5 grams, but I don't have any way to measure or translate ounces or grams.

To me it tastes really good, about the same texture as Power Gel but way better tasting, and look at my ride stats. I drank a quart of Gatorade as well, with 1/4 tsp. salt added (540 mg. sodium).

Now that I've sat for a while, I don't think I'll run after all. I did a long, fast (for me) swim and short intense ride (long hills), and now that that's all settling I do realize I'm tired. So I'm going to call it a day.

A very, very good day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Well, I've been looking and looking on Commodore's blog for the post discussing whether triathlon is a sport for the well-to-do, and I can't find it. Help me out here, Comm. Where is it?

I've been thinking about this ever since he posted it.

Is triathlon expensive? Definitely.
Is it a sport of the affluent? Not necessarily.

I'm anything but affluent but I hang in there in triathlon. I admit I'm a cheapskate. Not by choice but by necessity. We retired on not really enough of a nest egg, lost my nurse's income, and went from salary to pension for my husband. We get along. Sometimes we have to work, not so much to make ends meet as to have stuff. Satellite TV and computer, for instance. And so that I can pursue triathlon.

I wear DeSoto Sports tri suits, shorts and jerseys I've gotten on eBay. $25 for a $125 tri suit. $20 for a $60 pair of shorts. $11 for a $50 jersey.

My 70-oz Camelbak was $14.95 on eBay (a discontinued no-frills-no-bulk-and-no-external-fill model that used to retail for about $40.) I made pockets out of a calico bandana and sewed them on.

Bento Box, $10 on eBay. Gel-flask holder with flask, $4.95 on eBay. Set of 4 gel-flask replacement caps, $1.99 on eBay (no one else apparently needed any.)

I got a $400 X-Terra triathlon wetsuit on eBay for $150. Never worn.

I had to budget around all these items. Each of them meant a choice between having that and having or doing something else (except the small-change items like the flask caps and holder.) I saved for the wetsuit and then waited until one I wanted was up for auction, and crossed my fingers that I'd get it.

I get polyester/nylon/cotton (not much cotton) socks at Wal-Mart, something like $5 for 3 pairs. I get my bike gloves at Wal-Mart ($6.95 Bell's.) I get my sunglasses at Wal-Mart ($8.95 Panama Jack). I get my sport bras at Wal-Mart ($6.95 FOTL.) I get my swimsuits at Wal-Mart, or did, until my favorite Catalina one-piece came out this year with tacky molded-foam bra-cups. So I didn't get a new swimsuit this year. Oops, yes I did.... a zip-back Zoot trisuit/swimsuit with quick-dry fleece pad. $12 on eBay. Half the price of the Wal-Mart Catalina suit at that. Except for the ones I bought half-price at the end of the summer a couple years ago that I'm tossing one at a time as they wear out.

And of course my 100-lap Timex Ironman watch came from Wal-Mart, like everyone else's.

I do have retail Cat-1 road shoes. $99 from Performance Bike, on sale from $149. Big budget item. And a Giro helmet. And I do have a nice Trek 2100 Womens' Special Design road bike. That cost nearly what we saved last summer by working for our campsite.

And I do pay a coach. She gives me a senior discount. But I'm still a month behind.

There are things I want. Like, to do more tri's, probably Oly distance, but at $65-85 per event plus getting there, I don't do much of it. I used my whole last gym paycheck to register for the ChesapeakeMan AquaVelo that Nancy and I are doing Sept. 30 as training for IMFL. Steve commented that $185 was a lot to shell out for a training ride. But it's the only event I've done since the Arizona Senior Olympics tri in March. Oops, no, forgot the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon in June. That wasn't awfully expensive, $35, and the room cost $89 for the one night, and I had 2 roommates who shared the cost with me, and the pasta dinner was INCLUDED in the registration cost, so I had no food costs, took hand-to-mouth food with me in the car which I borrowed from our son to save the cost of driving 300 miles each way with our Ford 250 diesel truck. I didn't spend much on that marathon.

Twice this summer, most recently this past weekend, my bike has needed adjustment and/or parts plus labor that came to nearly $100. That meant doing without something else. Like a new red $50 Camelbak with a wide-mouth external-fill feature, quicker refill on the bike course at IMFL. Like a new pair of red Trek bike gloves ($24.95). Like an Ironman helmet ($50) and red Michelin Ironman triathlon tires ($50 each.) I will probably get new tires before IMFL and maybe I can find red ones, but they'll probably be $30 each and they won't say Ironman on them. I now have a shiny new rear cassette that doesn't cause my chain to skip in the outer gears, but I don't have some of the other things I was hoping to get. They'll have to wait.

And do I want all these new red accessories for IMFL, or do I want to save on the cost and have money to buy stuff at the humongous expo when I'm there?

Quite possibly everyone else has the same budget issues but doesn't dwell on them or post about them. But I've been thinking about it ever since Commodore's post, how much I'd like to spend on triathlon vs. how much I can spend and how much I actually spend.

Triathlon is definitely expensive.

But you don't have to spend a lot of money to do it. You just look for where you can cut a deal, and spread your deals out over time. And in between, you save for them.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


That's a brick that's missing the middle part. My bike is in the shop getting some adjustments.

I swam for an hour (2400 yds) and then ran 8 miles (1:22, negative split by about 45 seconds).

I felt wonderful.

I can't believe how much difference it makes for me to train only every other day. And today's double workout came after 2 days off. I can go faster and farther than when I'm struggling to keep up with shorter ones 6 days a week.

It's not traditional for IM training; but it works better for this Ironwoman.

Suppose I do 2 hours, 2 or 3 days a week -- that's 4-6 hours. Add a 4-6-hour session once a week and that's 8 - 12 hours. It still comes out to an acceptable number of hours per week. Although I will say I've always been skeptical of the value of a certain number of hours or miles per week. I think the body covers distance based on how much can be done at a time, not how much is done in a week. This has always been what's worked for me with marathon-training, too. 3 runs a week including my long one is about my max. A 30-mile week is a rarity. But maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I'm feeling way better and training way better with a rest day every other day. Came home to a recovery meal of "Two all-soy patties, special sauce, tomatoes, salt, lettuce, onions on two whole-wheat buns." Not precisely a Big Mac but it hit the spot and had that supposedly-ideal 4/1 carb/protein ratio. Plus it tasted good.

I feel great.

Friday, August 18, 2006


OK.... who exactly is doing IMFL? Nancy, Commodore, Bolder, Shelley, Bev, me (you don't need a link for me, you're here already).... who else?

Since not everyone reads my blog, maybe you who do can put out an APB so that all the IMFL folks will get a heads-up and pop on over to sign in. Or you can just tell me they're doing it.

There is going to be a HUGE crowd of bloggers and emailers who know each other but haven't met yet. How are we going to recognize each other?

I'm posting this on the IMFL blog as well.

Chime in, folks! Thanks!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Wow! What a great day. It's hard to believe that just a week ago I was so tired and discouraged I told my husband I was thinking of giving up on IMFL. Today's workout was a 40-minute swim followed by a 50-mile bike ride. As I got into the 74*F water for a warmup, I thought how actually the swim is a cool-down --- the swim pre-cooling me for the ride. I had ridden to the lake and didn't know how to handle my wetsuit getting there and then heading right out for the ride, so I didn't use it today.

Now, either I'm going crazy, or getting increasingly dyslexic, or the earth has moved. I always start my lake swims at the north end of the swim area, where the bottom is sandy, then start encountering rocks and boulders and reefs about halfway, which persist until the turnaround 75 yards later. Today, I saw rocks and boulders and reefs as soon as I started swimming, and they cleared as I approached the turnaround. Am I crazy? This is backwards. These boulders are too big to have been displaced by lake currents and transported 75 yards to the other end. But there they were. I swam over them (actually brushing some with my hands while stroking -- incentive to keep my stroke wide and shallow), exited at the now-sandy end, and decided to reverse my direction from usual to make my exit easier for transition. I observed, too, that my trip south-to-north was quicker and met less resistance than north-to-south -- also reversed from usual. Either I'm going crazy or the earth moved. Or maybe the wind changed, but that doesn't explain the repositioning of the reefs.

Warmup over, I did a beach start. 41 minutes netted me 1650 yards. Damn. If I'd been watching my laps instead of the time, and doing the math, I'd have gone one more lap to have just over a mile. But I was watching my time and it was time to get out.

Transition was 4:56, including carrying my bike across a couple hundred feet of grass and up a set of wooden stairs. I needed to pee but the bath house was too far away -- I could stop by the side of the road faster, and would.

I could tell as soon as I started biking that it was a good day. Took it easy, trying to keep my effort even (did not use HRM), didn't overexert myself, and had averaged 14.8mph by the turnaround at 25 miles, including a 1/2-mile downhill that I took maxing out at 43.8mph even squeezing my brakes intemittently. Of course, I had to go back up that hill, which I did in my granny gear. I used it for a few others, too. By the end of the day my average was 14.0, so obviously there was more downhill on the way out, and vice versa.I didn't take that pit stop till the turnaround. Kept just putting it off.

I had my watch set to beep every 10 minutes, when I drank Gatorade spiked with an Airborne tablet, with a longer beep every 30, when I took a salt capsule with water and ate something. Eating every half-hour was an experiment and I found I feel better eating half as much every half hour, than eating more every hour.

On the way up the monster hill, I got a sudden, strange, specific craving for turnip greens. ????? And, since I'm a redneck, I just happened to have some at home, which I included in my post-race meal -- canned, since although this is redneck country it's not turnip-green country, too far north. I ate them with cider vinegar; they would have been better with some bacon grease, but I'm not so much of a redneck as to have that on hand. Still, they were so good I ate the whole can, along with a breaded fried chicken breast (more redneck food) and rice with BUTTER. I deserved it.

The ride home was just as nice as the ride out, despite the increased uphills. With about 12 miles to go I got another craving, for the chicken bouillon broth I'd brought, so I stopped, fished it out of my Camelback pocket, and swilled that down. It hit the spot directly. I was taking no chances on sodium depletion today, even though it wasn't all that hot or humid, high 70's, clear, mostly-shaded roads. I kept being amazed at how I was able to go up hills with a nice cadence and relatively low effort on higher gears than earlier in the season (although, yes, I did use my grannies on about 3 of the hills. What the heck, I AM a granny.) I was feeling a little tired after about 35 miles but nothing serious.

Got home still feeling great; I had left my running shoes on the picnic bench for a quick transition in case I felt great enough to add a short run, but getting off my bike and looking at the running shoes I decided I didn't feel THAT great and scratched the thought of a run. It wasn't on the schedule custom-designed for me by my coach so it must not be in the stars.

So a pint of chocolate milk, put the chicken on to cook while I showered, sat down to the aforementioned chicken dinner, and I'm done.

My total bike time was only 10 minutes longer than my actual moving time. I'm whittling down my stops. I had a couple longish ones waiting for traffic, crossing the main road; one to see what noise my front wheel had started to make (I still don't know... sounds like katydids buzzing -- bearings?); one quick stand-up pee stop on the shoulder of the road (girls, you have got to master the stand-up no-mess pee technique); one to get my salt broth out of my Camelback and guzzle that down; and one a couple miles from home for 2 vehicles driven by tourons (a locally-coined word combining "tourist" and "moron"), one towing a boat, the other 2 jet-skis, trying to make a sharp left turn into the angled driveway of their vacation house. There was no shoulder where I could go around them (soft gravel and grass) and I couldn't go around to the left where they were turning. So I pulled my bike off the road (good move, the trailer with the jet-skis rolled back a couple yards to right where I'd been) and sat on the guard rail waiting for them to figure out what they were doing. I had been on a good roll for the upcoming incline but said touron vehicles were fooling around right on the incline, and when I ground to a stop I didn't downshift, so when the touron trucks finally got off the road, it was hard for me to get going again in the gears I was in. But I managed and was soon on my way again. I think IQ testing ought to be mandatory for tourists, but I don't seem to be able to get that program up and running.

So I'm back in the saddle after my bonk 10 days ago and some gun-shy hesitation to get back on the bike, cured fairly well by Sunday's 30 miles and completely by today's 50, enough sodium capsules and a squeeze-bottle of chicken bouillon.

No doubt only a few of you have actually read all this; it's as long as my ride was. But I had fun writing it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior
that was going on.
So he called one of His Angels and sent the Angel to Earth for a time.When he returned, he told God, "Yes, it is bad on Earth;
95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not." God thought for a moment and said,
"Maybe I had better send down a second Angel to get another opinion."
So God called another Angel and sent him to Earth for a time too.When the angel returned he went to God and said,
"Yes, it's true. The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good."
God was not pleased. So He decided to email the 5% that were good,
because He wanted to encourage them, give them a little something to help them
keep going. Do you know what the e-mail said?

...Okay, just wondering; I didn't get one either...

Monday, August 14, 2006


Well, maybe it's just me, but I thought these two sleeping-child shots were beautiful.

I entered this in "Close-Ups."

And this as an "Individual Person." There were a bunch of categories but you could only put one picture in each one, so some of them weren't ideal choices. There were a lot of good photos of individuals.

Maybe this just wasn't the right venue for these two pictures. Dare I wonder if it was suspected they might be professional and they were DQ'd from the amateur competition? They were displayed but I was surprised that they didn't win anything at all. I thought the baby one stood a chance of "Best in Show." However, see my next post, below, which you've probably already seen if you've gotten to this one :-)


AAAaaahhh! I was expecting ribbons and I got them. Although the Garrett County, MD county fair is a small, old-fashioned event that you can see in entirety in a couple hours, there are hundreds of photo entries, some very good photographers in this area, honest-to-goodness competition. Judges are professional photographers and entries are judged on composition and photographic technique. Still, of course, it's highly subjective.


I got BEST IN SHOW for this one, which I entered on a whim, not my usual style at all, kind of bizarre. In addition to Best in Show, it won in the Digital Still Life category.

It's not a digitally-created composite; I used a sheet of background paper from a roll, something like shelf paper, for the backdrop, draped on the kitchen counter and up the wall so there'd be no visible joining of horizontal and vertical even though the peppers rested on the paper. I entered it as Digital because I did so much retouching -- darkened and sharpened the shadows, smoothed out a decaying spot in one of the peppers. None of this was explained in the entry but I had manipulated it enough that I thought I should classify it as "Digital."

Here are the rest:

Blue ribbon, first in "Reflections" category.

Blue ribbon, first in "Flowers" category -- I'm surprised it won, since it's not a flower, but they didn't have a "Mushrooms" class or even a generic "Nature" class.

Blue ribbon, first in "Sun Effects" category. I shot this out a train window in Switzerland last spring. The window refracted the rays.

Blue ribbon, first place in "Miscellaneous." I had pictures of Abbie in just about every category and had nothing left except Misc. for this one. Guess it was the best "miscellaneous" shot.

Red ribbon, second in "Garrett County" class, supposed to capture the flavor, spirit, and general Gestalt of our area. This was taken at last year's County Fair. Look close -- she'd had her face painted like a kitty.

Red ribbon, second in "Children." Abbie was jumping on a trampoline and flopped onto her back. Check the static in her bangs.

White ribbon, third in "Water Scenes" (no "Lightning" or "Weather" or "Skies" category... there were plenty of good photos of water scenes, this was sort of off-topic.)

Yellow ribbon, fourth or honorable mention or something, "Garrett County." Maybe it would have scored better in "Water Scenes." It's my grandson Collin at the locally famous Swallow Falls.

So I guess I'll keep my camera. I get a little bit of prize money.... not much -- I don't think they've changed the cash premiums since the fair's first year in 1956. "Best in Show" carries no additional premium, only what it already got for its blue-ribbon first-in-class win, plus the champion rosette ribbon and the recognition. But I'll be about $50 richer for my ribbons.

Blogger will apparently only let me post 10 photos. I entered 11 in the fair and got 9 ribbons, 6 of them blue, including the Best in Show. The two that got no recognition at all are in a separate post -- and here I thought they were pretty stunning. You just never know.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Here's my bike-trail buddy Ray on August 10 at the end of his trail. He had told me, while we were riding, that he was looking forward to having someone take his picture in front of the Capitol building.

Here's the email post he sent out to his cheering section:

Hi! Well I made it to the nation's capitol (see attachement for photo) this afternoon. After a 45 mile ride on the C&O Towpath trail I managed to ride through some of D.C.'s traffic to the safety of the National Mall where many monuments and memorials are located. Riding around the Lincoln Monument, past the World War II, Korean, and Viet Nam Memorials, and along side the Washington Mounument was quite a thrill. After riding some 4,000 miles across the country I was, to say the least, smiling ear to ear with a great sense of accomplishment. Knowing I had the support and well wishes from many friends and relatives helped me continue through the tougher times along the tour route. So thank you for your support, thoughts, and prayers. This was a bicycle tour that will be hard to duplicate, though I'm sure I'll try again in the future (read: southern tier route - CA to FL).

Read that last sentence again.... he just rode 4,000 miles and is already planning to do it again. Just like us goofy Ironmen who finish 140.6 miles and immediately sign up for another one.

Remember All in the Family? The episode where Mike and Gloria had their baby? And Gloria finally pushed the baby out and Michael was excited beyond sanity, yelling, "That was great! Did you see that? That was so great! Wow, honey, when do you want to have another one?"

To which Gloria replied, rolling her eyes, "Not now, Michael, I have a headache...."

A correction to my comments about Ray: It's not Landis, it's Lander. And that's not his last name; it's the name of his hometown. Oh, well, at least I noticed that he had something written on the placard on the back of his bike... some of you may be familiar with the email tagline I sometimes use: "I'm not totally lucid. Maybe I need sodium."

Anyway, you gals whose curiosity was piqued by my description of the man who took care of me and asked me to dinner, here he is. And I will be forever grateful to him for sticking with me when I was down. And the truth was, I was in fact down. I felt really, really crappy. Mildly scared. I was glad not to be alone.

It has taken me a whole week to get back on my bike. But I just finished a nice 30 miles. And I found that an easy, even effort, even here in the hills, netted me a better average speed -- 14.6 mph -- than when I try to push the hills and bust my backside on each one.

Another lesson learned.

Congratulations, Ray. And thank you.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I did some calculating. With 12 weeks left till IMFL, I have more time than I thought. I was thinking, September should be my peak month but is going to be complicated by the new job at the new campground in an area where I don't know where to bike or run or swim. And maybe it will be, but I figured out with a calendar what distance-increases I need to do, and it's doable. I had thought I had no time left: I was thinking, August is half over, September is shot, October is taper month, I've gone as far as I can go. But that's far from the way things are. September isn't shot; I just need to find out where to train. And it will be warmer longer in Winchester, VA than home here at Deep Creek Lake, MD. If I increase my long swim by 5 minutes a week, my long bike 10 miles every 2 weeks, my long run 2-3 miles every 2-3 weeks, I'll be ready to do the 2.4-mile/112-mile AquaVelo at ChesapeakeMan Sept. 30, rest from that, and still be able to do a 20-mile run a couple weeks later, 3 weeks before IMFL. I'll be ready. This is going to work out.

Ran yesterday, I'm working up my nerve to bike tomorrow, conservatively, a couple hours; today I swam. Couple-minute drive to the lake, easy laps in the swim area for an hour, 2250 yards. I'm not tired. Swimming easy doesn't tire me. It relaxes me. I wore my full wetsuit, although I didn't need to for the water temperature, but it was good to practice wearing it.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I get really down sometimes, as my friends all know. I think *jeanne* is right that I was still exhausted from whatever went wrong on my bike ride Sunday; Nancy is right that 25 hours of work and 15 hours of training add up to much more than 40 hours; everyone is right that I need more rest and need to trust myself more, and maybe respect myself more too.

Now I'm going to get some photos ready to enter tomorrow in the great prestigious Garrett County Fair. Not exactly the Louvre but I expect some ribbons and I can use any validation that comes along right now. Because along with toying with giving up on IMFL, I've been considering selling my camera as well. Some kind of "what's-the-use"conspiracy against myself to abandon everything I care about.

So I'm staying in the game.... continuing my training, and putting pictures in the fair. Ribbons will make me decide to keep my camera and start taking pictures again.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I haven't bounced back from Sunday's crappy ride. Yesterday I was so tired and discouraged I was crying and saying I thought it would be a good idea to quit training and give up IMFL. I haven't looked at my bike since Sunday. Can't stand to think about getting on it. Yesterday I skipped my scheduled 13-mile run and called my coach. She said we'll back off for awhile. She rewrote my schedule for 3-4 day training weeks for a while. This isn't much for Ironman training but it's what I can tolerate. I have never been able, in marathon or triathlon training, to go over 3-4 days a week without breaking down physically, mentally or emotionally. I did my training for ChesapeakeMan 3-4 days a week last summer. My friend Dianne calls me the "Queen of Undertraining." I emphasize rest over training and it always gets me where I want to go.

Today I was scheduled for a 30-mile ride but I still can't look at my bike. So I did yesterday's 13-mile run. Very slow pace, jogging 11 minutes and walking 2, to simulate what I think I can do at IMFL, walking through the aid stations for a 6-hour marathon.

I really was serious about quitting yesterday, for a while. My life would be so much easier without the pressure of Ironman training.

Or.... my training would be so much easier without pressure from the rest of my life.

I don't understand why it can't work like Steve says: if I work 25 hours and train 15 hours, that's 40 hours a week, why is that less doable than a normal full-time job?

I don't know why it's not that simple. Anyone have a clue?


Steve took this picture last week at one of the campsites here at the park. With all the signs, and all the verbal cautions, they're still doing it.

A beautiful bear lost its life last month because it was availing itself to the food left out by stupid campers. Some people called the bear "stubborn" and "dangerous" and "persistent" but all it was doing was making use of a consistent food source. Officials tried to take her away several times but she returned each time -- and why not? Relocated miles away, she had to forage for wild food; back in her familiar territory, she had a plentiful source of very attractive human food for herself and her cubs.

Like Rachel commented .... In so many human vs. animal situations, it's not the animals, it's the humans. The animals are behaving normally, looking out for themselves and their young. The humans are just being stupid.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Well, I set out to do 85 miles, ended up doing 87, b/c I stopped in a little town to replenish my Gatorade and water and couldn't find my way back to the bike trail.

Yeah, bike trail. I decided, rather than brave the damn hills again for 85 miles, I'd drive 45 minutes to the, um, forget what it's called, Allegheny Alliance rail-trail or something. It's dirt but it's smooth and flat. I underestimated how much work dirt and flat would be and how hot it was going to get. I think I didn't take enough sodium. I should have known. I got converted to sodium last summer by Nancy. I just didn't think it was going to get that hot or that I'd be working that hard. I should have known, when I finished off my Gatorade after about 50 miles and had to get more. I ate plenty, drank plenty, but started feeling really crappy with about 20 miles to go. Got off the bike and sat on the ground. Then put my Camelback on the ground as a pillow and lay down. Still felt crappy. I was a little worried. My hands weren't swollen but I was sure it wasn't dehydration or low sugar, I'd been taking both food and Gatorade, just not enough of my Succeed Capsules, one an hour, when previously on a hot day I've taken 3 an hour. I just didn't think it was that hot. Or that I was working that hard. I took a capsule with just a swallow of water, and another 20 minutes later, and another 20 minutes after that, and started to feel much better.

The fun part was that when I started feeling sick I had been riding for about 8 miles w/ a guy who was on his way to Washington, D.C. from Seattle. This was totally cool. Before I started conking out I asked him a lot about it, since I want to do that some day. He asked me about Ironman and said he absolutely could not imagine doing such a thing.

When I had to get off the bike to rest he stayed with me. I think he was worried. Actually so was I. I really felt crappy. He stayed with me and we biked slowly to the next trailhead, a couple miles. Rested again. He asked me out to dinner. I couldn't eat and I really just wanted to go home. He bought me ice cream, which I couldn't eat. I wanted chips but the ice cream shack didn't have any. He looked like Kenny Rogers. His last name was Landis, which didn't click in my mind till I was in the truck on my way home. We had even talked about Floyd and doping and everything, and it still didn't kick in. He had his name on a "Caution" triangle on the back of his bike. I saw it but it never registered. After the ice cream we walked back across the parking lot and my HR went from 90 to 114 with that easy walk. I called my husband to try to get a ride home but I had the truck and he couldn't think of anyone who might be able to come get me. I called our son. He was working. Called our d-i-l... no answer. Night shift nurse, she was sleeping. So Kenny Rogers Landis and I got back on the bikes and rode slowly, another 9 miles to go before where I was parked. I got a flat tire. Whatever can go wrong, will. But after changing the flat I guess everything had kicked in and I felt pretty good, was able to ride normally again. It started to sprinkle. I asked Kenny if I could give him a lift to where he hoped to camp. He said only if I'd go to dinner with him. Damn. I would have liked to but I needed to get home. He stayed with me till I got to my truck. He gave me a hug. Damn. Eyes the color of your task bar. My age.

I got home without incident, had soup, a banana, a little bag of chips, Gatorade, an Airborne tablet, water, I'm peeing a normal color, just tired.

So tomorrow and the next day I'm working 7-4 and taking both days off training. That's good recovery time.

Lessons learned:
  • Don't go out too fast.
  • Don't underestimate the effort on a flat course. Especially a dirt/packed sand one. It wasn't real rough, definitely doable, but it wasn't asphalt either.
  • Keep up with electrolytes, 2 capsules/hr on a cooler day, 3 when it's hot. (Found out it was high 80's.) I learned this last summer but got stupid. Must be the hair. I think IQ points adhere to gray roots and gradually grow out of your head.
  • Finally: Don't get so nauseated I can't go out to dinner with a cool biker guy my age. We'd have had so much to talk about! Could have been the proverbial 2 ships passing in the night.

Next time I'll know better. I won't have a sodium bonk again.

Now you all can yell at me....
Ellie, well-chastened

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I have too much going on. I can't blog for awhile. Unless something really amazing happens. (Except everything that happens, I think is really amazing.)

I'm going to keep my Garrett to Gulf and Ellie's Tour d'Amerique maps up to date (more or less.) For anyone who doesn't realize it, these are the maps showing my bike and run mileage as point-to-point trips: running from Deep Creek Lake in Maryland to Panama City Beach, FL, and biking from Florence, OR to Ocean City, MD. Check my sidebar for links.

I'm in a down time training-wise... discouraged and tired. Some injuries trying to happen in my feet and knees. I took yesterday off training, taking a nap instead of swimming, which was supposed to replace an 85-mile ride. Today I did the swim, in Deep Creek Lake, very choppy with wind and boat wakes. It felt good and up until an hour ago I though, hmm, I should do that every day -- but now I've got a crick in my neck and shoulder, can tell I was fighting "surf." Still, in an hour I did 2250 yds; three years ago I could only swim a mile (1760 yds) of freestyle in that time.

Tomorrow I'll do something for an hour or so, rest on Saturday, and then do a long bike on Sunday.

Seems I can't do the training AND live my life AND work AND blog about it all. Something has to give.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Many of you commented on my posts about the bears last month. Well, here's the very sad update. She had been trapped and relocated twice, but bears are like homing pigeons. This one, as the article explains, was starting to argue with human rivals (no doubt that's how she saw them), as I described in my Bear Hunt post. It's just normal behavior, really -- humans have food that's very attractive to bears, the bear tries to get it, the humans defend their food.... if it were another bear defending food, there'd be a fight. It's too bad the humans weren't more discreet about the stewardship of their food. But they haven't been, and the bear was becoming more than a nuisance, she was a potential threat. I hate this. The three cubs are old enough to forage but not really old enough to hunt. And guess where they've learned from their mother to forage? I see more trouble coming.

The deer couple pictured in my last post have been nibbling greenery just outside my picture window for the last 5 minutes or so. I don't have another picture but I've been watching them. The buck is a nice 8-pointer, still in velvet. I'm not a hunter and I hate to think of him getting shot; my son, for example, would be thrilled with him, and he'd provide a great deal of nutritious, delicious meat. And it is a truth of nature that deer are so abundant in this area and the winters so long and severe that, if all the deer were allowed to enter it and compete for the available ramaining food, many would die a slow, miserable death before spring.

I have these conflicts: I love the deer but realize their utility to humans, and humans' utility in sparing the deer from starvation. I love the bears but realize their potential for causing human injury and death (and injury or death to my cat.) And although I'll catch a spider on a piece of paper and put it outside rather than kill it, I don't hesitate to kill wasps, because their sting makes my heart pound, and makes me itch and swell and breathe hard and get dizzy. Doc gave me an EpiPen but I'm not going to let a nearby wasp live, and hope the EpiPen works if I get stung.

Oops, there they both go, running "deer-like" through the meadow down the hill. Someone must have spooked them. How beautiful they are on the run.