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 PhotoBucket.com 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 ironmanlive.com, 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 Ironmanlive.com 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 marathonguide.com and runningintheusa.com 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.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Subtitle: Snags, Snafus, and Sniggles

Here I am leaving the Special Needs stop at mile 65, ready to start the second loop of the bike course.

I'm happy in this picture because I finally found the Special Needs station.

I knew it was at the high school at the end of the first loop of the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. I remembered it from last year, a guy in a tent with a mike calling out numbers, talking to me (over the mike) as I sorted out my Special Needs bag, asking me what was in it, and what on earth was written all over my shorts??? I had written, in silver Sharpie, every good wish from my friends and husband (who contributed, "Against The Wind"), all over my shorts. I explained this to the guy and told him a few. He said into the mike, "So, anyone who wants to read Ellie's shorts, see her after the race!"

No such guy this year. No such tent. I was looking for it. I passed the RD with a mike and he said, "Lookin' good for Lap 2, Ellie!!" I yelled, "Where's Special Needs?" He said, into the mike, "Back there! You missed it!" "Can I go back???" He directed me, through the mike, to circle back through the parking lot, which you see over my right shoulder. So I did, and found Special Needs, which I had seen way back by that blue section of the high school behind me, just a few people with a bunch of gear bags, but I had seen gear bags ahead where I thought Special Needs would be, and I had headed for that. These folks said, "We called out your number.... we thought you didn't need anything when you went breezing by." I said, "People at every aid station have been calling my number and yelling for me! You guys need a sign or something. You got a "special-needs" athlete here anyway." So they gave me my bag and I got what I needed and before I left the station a guy had acquired a bullhorn and was yelling to approaching bikers, "Special Needs! Number 175, Special Needs Bags Here!" So at least they listened and changed their approach. One of the women said, "I wonder if that's why so many people didn't stop?"

So in this picture I'm all refilled and on my way, blissfully unaware that the wind has increased twofold since the first lap.

Back to the first lap. I looked forward to seeing more wildlife in the wildlife refuge than last year, when all I saw was roadkill. The first wildlife I saw now was two black buzzards (only a hair more aesthetically attractive than turkey buzzards) picking at the remains of something on the road. They did not want to give it up for another one of these bikers they had apparently gotten accustomed to, and waited till the last minute to fly off, practically in my face. Whatever they were finishing off, there didn't seem to be any pieces of metal surrounding it, so I guessed that it was not a biker.

Remember "Washboard Road" from last year? They haven't resurfaced it. Five miles of serious bumps. This year, however, I did not have a pre-existing saddle inflammation/injury, so it should not have any effect on any of my husband's "whatnot" expectations. My main fear was that my bike was going to fall apart, or that my gumdrops and jellybeans would fly out of my bento box. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. Gack, this section of road is not good when you're on a road bike.

After Washboard Road, there was the house where, last year, a Chesapeake Retriever up to no good had been zeroing in on me. Either he was not outside this year, or he doesn't live there anymore, or I had the wrong house. Anyway, I did not meet up with him this year on either lap.

Oooooh, a marsh full of snowy egrets, I tried to count them but couldn't. And they took flight. Now that's gorgeous. As was the blue sky with its cumulus and stratus clouds, the golden, blowing marsh grasses, the rivulets and tidepools, the mixed hardwood and evergreen forest, the smell of pine and salt water. I pulled the band off my ponytail for the joy of feeling the below-helmet length of my hair blowing in the wind. There were fishermen on bridges. Seagulls on buoys. Athletes on bikes.

I kept my gears in that sweet spot where pedaling in the 80's was effortless, and kept passing and passing and passing people. Passing them, like, fast. And, mean girl that I am, going "Heh, heh, heh..." inside when the person I passed was a guy with an age in his 20's, 30's or 40's written on his leg, because I knew that when I got in front of him he'd see that my leg said 55. But I didn't have a marathon I had to save something for, as nearly everyone else on the course did. So I was throwing caution to the wind, which, at God knows what velocity, was blowing it far away. Still, I couldn't stop that self-satisfied feeling every time I knew that the younger person (especially male) could see how old I was.


Starting at the pre-race meeting, people Nancy did not know asked her if she was Nancy and said they'd read her blog. She had no idea who they were.

At the swim start, a young couple approached me and asked, "Are you Ellie from Accident?" They were from Cumberland, MD, about 50 miles from Accident. (Yes, Accident, in case you haven't encountered that yet in my blog.) I said, "Yes, do I know you?" "No," they said, "but we know you.... you wrote a report on this race last year." OK, so they must have done a search on ChesapeakeMan and my blog report came up. What I want to know is how they picked me out of a crowd of 200+ black wetsuits at a triathlon swim start. I was wearing my cap already, so it wasn't my hair. My current profile picture is too small for any stranger to identify my face. My previous one, I had a glass of beer in front of my face. There was an older one for a while, in my wetsuit without my cap on... maybe that one tipped them off. But it was strange.

I asked Nancy about this when we were on our way home, and she said that she had told people just to look for the two old ladies hanging around together. I called her a nasty name. We're good friends; she can take it.

And there was this dumbhead who got his just desserts:

Nancy and I were taking our bikes to my truck when all of a sudden there was a biker in the last 30 yards of the course lying face-down, motionless, on the road, his bike lying several feet from him. Paramedics swarmed over. The nurse in me wanted to go pitch in but he had medics there and I minded my own business. When we got done with our bikes, the guy was gone. An older man, maybe 60's, street clothes, not a racer, was sitting on the curb hugging his leg. Report was, that was the guy the biker hit. We learned later that the man reported having seen the biker coming, "didn't think he was coming that fast," and thought he had time to step out and cross the road. In front of a biker hell-bent on the approaching transition/finish line in a race. Word was that the old guy ended up getting sent to the hospital. I'm not usually vindictive but I felt like, SERVED HIM RIGHT. Sheesh. "You can make it, that train's not coming fast." They said the biker had finally gotten back on his bike. No idea who he was, if he was running the marathon leg, or if he was, whether he was able to finish it. Gack, there are some stupid people in the world. Stepping out in front of a racing biker in his last few yards.

Uh-oh. My resolution to cut back on my loquaciousness has lagged. Shorter documentary next time. Maybe.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

ChesapeakMan AquaVelo Part 2

OK, where did I leave off? I guess I just kind of gave a quick overall. Maybe that's all that's needed :-) I can get so wordy, I'm sure a lot of people who go to my blog glance at the latest post and say, "Forget it." I gotta learn to cut down.

More on the swim: I found that when I repeated a mental mantra of "Glide, glide, glide," and emphasized the glide more than the stroke, I apparently swam better, because it was during those times that I gained on and even passed a few people. I also abandoned my bilateral breathing, and breathed to the left, my natural breathing side, every 4th stroke. After a while I tried switching to breathing to the right, to equalize the muscle effort, and after a minute or so discovered it had resulted in my turning 90 degrees to starboard from the course, so I gave up on that and breathed only to the left. It was comfortable and I didn't have to think about it.

Bike strategy: Coach Mary had recommended going nice and easy the first 30 miles, then bumping it up to about 65% effort till 90 miles, then, if I felt good, going for it and starting to aim at people to pick off.

Well, the way I accomplished this was, start out by selecting gears in which I could easily spin an effortless cadence in the 80's. And as a matter of fact, this is what I did the whole time, even though somehow I did pick up the pace after 30 miles and again later on. In fact, by about 55 miles, I was whizzing along passing a lot of people and hardly being passed by anyone. And I was thinking, uh-oh, I wonder if I've gone too hard too early; I wonder if I can keep this up for another loop.

Especially when the wind picked up on the second loop.

But I kept it up. When I started pushing my pedals hard and feeling leg effort and my cadence dropped to 78 or so, I shifted down to get back to effortless 80's. When it got to 90, I didn't want to move my legs that fast and shifted up to get back to easy 80's. And that is what I did the whole time. There's a "sweet spot" I like wherein it feels like the bike is going by itself, and the pedals are going around because the bike is going, and my feet are going because they're on the pedals, with just the slightest suggestion of helping it along the least little bit. That's my sweet spot and that's where I like to ride, and on a flat course that's where I was able to stay.

I finished thinking I was glad I didn't have a marathon to run, but also knowing that if that had been on the schedule for the day, I could have done it. Which, I guess, was the perfect place to be at the end of an Iron-distance swim and bike with no run planned until next month when I do all three in the real deal.

Some details, snafus, and funny things coming in the next episode of my continuing saga. But this is enough for folks to read for now.



Short stats:
Swim: 1:56:47
Transition : 8:33 (sheesh) (Oh, yeah, forgot, part of that was peeing about a gallon)
Bike: 6:30:26
Total: 8:35:45

NOTE: 4 hours after firsts posting this, I just corrected it -- in my original post I reported my bike time as my total time!! Nope! Bike was 6:30, TOTAL was 8:35. Now that that's straightened out....

I felt GREAT, except for a slump of about 10 miles between about miles 65 and 75. Had just come out of Special Needs stop, so maybe it was the shock of getting going again, plus finding that while I was in SN, whoever is manning the wind fans up there must have given a signal: "OK, wind-fan personnel (angels? Deceased meterologists?) on the count of three: One, two, THREE!!" Because the second loop of the bike course was distinctly about twice as windy as the first. Like riding into the friggin' Santa Ana or something. I hunkered down low in my aeros, pulled my knees into the bike, and tried to make myself as small a package as possible. I saw people ahead of me looking like they were having trouble steering their bikes straight. It was a gale.

Swim -- well, my stroke has gotten bad the last couple months, I haven't diagnosed the problem yet; I expected about a 2-hr IM swim and that's what I got. However, I got it against incoming tide in the second half, plus an inadequately-marked course in the first half that kept me veerin out into the wild blue yonder and being redirected by course patrol ("It's over there..."), then with the tide, not only swimming a little upstream but continuously veering toward shore and having to re-orient to get back in line with the buoys (which were more visible and more frequent in the second half. Gotta talk to the RD about that.) Actually, given the currents and the way I've been disconsolate about my inefficiency and slowness, I was very happy with the 1:56.

In the transition tent, Nancy, our friend Melissa who is training for Kona, and I were all there together! Nancy had finished about 5 minutes ahead of me, and Melissa came in just a few minutes after me. We might all have had shorter transitions otherwise... we talked a little about the currents etc. as we got ready for the bike. But it was fun and heartwarming.

I am going out to run some now and will finish this later, when I get back "home" to VA. Nancy and I had planned 18 miles but Nancy is feeling sick with a sore throat and cold and is going back to bed. I don't know if I'll do 18 but I'm going out to do some. It's raining. I feel like I'd biked a hundred miles or something :-) Not sure how far I'll get. Think I'll do loops so I can bail. That's making provision for the flesh.... in other words, making tentative plans to be a weenie. But I've got a 4-hour drive home, too.

Off and running. Catch you later.