Sunday, July 30, 2006

How to Train, Get Filthy, and Have a Good Time

A friend and I have been planning a week's camping trip to the area around the John Day Fossil beds with our kids for months now, and we finally got the time to do it. The kids had a blast digging thundereggs and finding fossils, and we all got very dirty, dusty, hot, and tired. It would have to be the hottest week of the year (106 in the shade, of which there is not much in the desert).

But, like the faithful triathlete I am, I took my bike, wetsuit, and running shoes along. Unfortunately, I didn't take into consideration how many gravel roads we'd be traveling on. My bike got more than filthy, and there just aren't that many bike shops in the middle of nowhere. Or, 50 gravel road miles from the middle of nowhere, which is where we were. I did stop in a small store and get some WD-40 and clean up my chain and cogs as best I could. The nice part is that I got to swim in the John Day river and in beautiful Walton Lake, at the top of the Ochoco mountains (4500 feet of elevation does something to your breathing in your stroke though!). I had also forgotten the wonderful hospitality of Central Oregon drivers. Almost everyone who passed me gave me a wide berth on the road, and most waved or tipped their hats to boot. I got to run by all of the fire crews and helicopters (much to my husband's distress, since we were out of cell phone range, we were camped in the middle of several big fires), and take a bike ride to the Ochoco summit. It doesn't get much better than that (even if I was beyond filthy by the time I got home).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ironman Dreams

Yep, they've started. The Ironman stress dreams. The first one was last night. I'm in Panama Beach, Florida and the Ironman is about to start. For some reason, it's in a lake in the middle of the city. The streets are warrens, like something out of a medieval European town but with skyscrapers thrown in for good measure, and I can't see the lake anywhere. When I finally find it, I realize that I've left my wetsuit at home. The race officials tell me that wetsuits are required, and I have just enough time to go and buy one before the race start. So I walk back through the maze of streets and shops, but all of the sporting goods shops are closed. The only shop open is a lingerie shop, but they do have a wetsuit in their window. It is light pink neoprene with ruffles all over the sleeve and leg cuffs. I fret that the ruffles will cause lots of drag, and ask for some scissors to cut them off.

Just then, I hear the horn signaling the start of the race. So I got into a dressing room and change into the wetsuit, throw my Visa card at the cashier, and run out the door through the narrow streets to the lake and jump in with the rest of the triathletes. I am the only person in a pink ruffled wetsuit in a sea of black, and all the other triathletes are looking at me like I'm a crazy person. I wake up just as I realize that the ruffles on the pink wetsuit are causing me to swim so slowly, I'm barely at the back of the pack.

Oh, I can hardly wait to see what I dream as we get closer to race start!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On My BookShelf

I'm reading two Ironman training books right now. Be Ironfit by Don Fink and Going Long by Joe Frield and Gordon Byrn. Each of them has some really good stuff to offer anyone training for this kind of distance. The Ironfit book is much more readable and usable though. I like the training schedules, and I'm basing my own schedule loosely on the ones in the book, from here on out. The book is very straight-forward and includes almost everything you need to do to get from triathlete to Ironman.

Going Long has some genuinely great nuggets of information, but you have to plow through pages of acronym-infested, almost-undecipherable text to get to them. The authors have the unfortunate habit of acronymizing too many real words. Do we really need to call "breakthrough" workouts "BT" workouts? And what about ATP, ME, LT, TT, and all the other acronyms? By the time they're done shortening everything, I keep having to page back and forth while reading to remember what everything is called. Couple that with many nearly-incomprehensible tables of data (and this is from a former engineer who loves her Excel spreadsheets and tables of data!) and the book becomes signifigantly less useful than it should be. It's worth a read though, or at least a skim, for the good information that's buried beneath the chaff.