Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Bike is Back

My bike arrived today, all in one piece and looking very welcome! More and more athletes are arriving and it seems that they've all cycled past our hotel at least a dozen times. I was feeling really antsy, wanting to get out there too. While waiting, we drove the course today. It was really quite lovely, with nice-looking road surfaces (except for one stretch near the turn-around), and much more rolling and curving roads than I had expected (I wasn't looking forward to 112 miles of flat and straight). The biggest hill is a bridge over the bay, but hopefully my hill-trained legs will still serve me well on all that mostly flat ground.

I picked up my bike late in the afternoon, and got to take it out for a short spin down the first part of the course. I was passed just outside the hotel by two serious-looking dudes who obviously thought I was slow-enough looking to dart drastically around me into traffic. For the next dozen miles, they kept looking over their shoulders to find me (apparently disconcertingly) still there, just spinning along behind them (politely far enough back not to be drafting). Ah, I just love being underestimated. Sadly, they treated the motorists around them with equal disdain, riding side by side well into the lane and blocking up cars behind them. No wonder half the drivers want to run all lycra-clad two-wheelers off the road.

This morning was a nice two-mile ocean swim, with schools of fish surrounding me and dolphins just out to sea a little ways sending larger fish leaping out of the water into the air. The water is a gorgeous turquoise with incredibly white sands. Wish I had my camera cables, I'd share a photo or two. It's just heaven to swim out there. And I'd forgotten how buoyant salt water is, it makes swimming almost effortless!

Tomorrow, Ironman Village opens. Whee!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dispatch From Florida

After grueling day of transit yesterday on Bankrupt Airline (read: no food service other than "snacks", ancient seats that kill your back), I was more than ready to take a swim this morning. It's beautiful here and we're right on the beach. The ocean had more than a few wetsuit-clad swimmers churning along this morning. It was a bit colder than I thought it would be, especially when you get out past the shallows, and I think I'll be wishing for a full wetsuit instead of a farmer john style. But the water is really beautiful and it felt great to swim out there.

I have to admit, I get major butterflies every time I think about Saturday morning and standing on the beach with all those people. Heck, I get butterflies every time I see the Ironman logo on the back of another shirt (apparently, it's mandatory that if you've done an Ironman before, you buy enough Iron-logo'd apparel to wear for the whole Ironman week. It's only Monday, but the Iron-logos are walking around everywhere already.)

Tomorrow I'll hopefully get to pick up my bike and check out the rest of the course.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I Have a Number!

For those of you who have said you'd look in on me at Ironmanlive.com on race day, I have my bib number: 2323. That feels like a good number to me (though I am not normally a superstitious type), another good omen.

I went and had my last back-cracking yesterday (oh do I wish I could pack my chiropractor in my suitcase!) and a good massage, and slept so wonderfully last night as a result. I also had my fastest long-distance swim ever, doing the last 1,000 of my 4,000 in 14:20, for about a 1:26 pace. I am feeling good and ready, and we leave tomorrow morning! Now all I have to do is finish packing, ha. The list from the Ironman website of what I need to bring includes such items as "bike pajamas" (I wonder if I should also bring my bike a teddy bear in case he gets lonely in that transition area overnight), and reflective tape which is supposedly mandatory - great, one more thing I have to somehow find in all my spare time.

We're bringing a laptop along, so hopefully I will be able to update this blog while we're in Florida.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bye Bye Bicycle

The UPS man came took my bike yesterday, the next time I see it will be in Florida! My sweet husband let me borrow his bike, which I actually used to use for a year after I wrecked my last one. Dang, it makes me appreciate my own bike so much. And it totally shows how much fit matters. I took his bike for a ride and it isn't quite fit to me, though he and I have about the same length legs, so I thought it would be fine. Now I'm sore everywhere, and my shins really hurt (a lesson in what not to do right before a big race!). I also really miss my Terry women's saddle with that lovely cut-out in the middle. Really, really miss it. 'Nuff said.

It's also suddenly gotten cold here (finally, though we've had a really lovely warm October so far), and biking means completely bundling up with leg warmers, arm warmers, ear warmers, full gloves, the whole mummy deal. It will feel so great to be back on my own bike, in the warmth with just some shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. I can't wait!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Good Omens

When our daughter was about two, she used to call almonds "omens". I would always ask her "are these good omens or bad omens?"

"Good omens, mommy," she would say with the utmost toddler seriousness, my humor flying over her head.

Today, the first week of my taper, I had a handful of good "omens" before setting out for a semi-long bike ride of 4 hours, with a half-hour run as a follow-up. The weather was stunning: Oregon autumn beauty at its finest. Vine maples and oaks turning brilliant red, and maples, walnuts, and alders turning gold, set against a blue sky. I biked up through the broad Willamette valley, picking as flat a course as possible to mimic Florida. Into the teeth of a typical north wind, I was only doing about 16 mph, but when I turned around, I flew home at 20 - 25.

All along my route, people kept giving me thumbs-up. Truck drivers, farmers, field workers, moms in minivans. It was as if I had a big sign saying "almost at the Ironman, cheer me on!" I'll take that as a good omen, and maybe when I'm out there slogging away in the Florida wind, I'll remember all those cheery Oregonians wishing me well.

Monday, October 16, 2006


So this is it. I've peaked, I'm in the home stretch, in the taper, heading toward the starting line. I've done my last long bike, last long run, it's all downhill from here (well, until race day, that is). It hit me today when I was thinking about all of this that this is probably the peak of my life's fitness as well. I will never be as fit again as I will be in when I walk to the beach on Ironman day.

Sure, I trained for the Ironman once before, even had my entry number and hotel reservation. But that was when I was 25, young and impatient and too driven for my own good. By this time, three weeks before race day, I was a wreck. Overstressed, underslept, having been through a bout of shin splints, and suffering from ulcers and severe anemia, my doctor actually threatened to take a baseball bat to my bicycle if I dared to head off to the Ironman. So my race number has sat in the bottom of a drawer all these years, mute testimony to the fallacies of blind ambition, and a challenge to me to find a smarter way to train.

So at 25, I was not nearly as healthy, fit, and strong as I stand today at 40, mom of two (though I looked a damn sight better in a bikini back then). This, then, is it. The zenith of my power in this human body. A resting heartrate of 48, and more strength and endurance than I've ever experienced. I'm not planning on training for the Ironman next year, or the year after, or the year after that. It's too much of a time and resource drain on my family. Though I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, it's not something I could put them through on a regular basis. I may revisit the Ironman again, perhaps at age 45 or 50, but the aging process will take its toll on me between now and then. Perhaps not much, but it will be there. I'll be a little stiffer, a little slower to recover, my muscle mass will be a little less, my endurance slightly reduced.

Yes, today I stand on the peak, and it is both exhilarating and slightly scary. But it's a damn fine view.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why Ironman Blogs Always Stop About Now

Who has time to write? In the last week of peak training before my taper, I'm trying to get double workouts in every day. With the kids' homeschooling schedules, this gets mighty challenging. Up in the morning, go to Karate with the kids, son goes to friend's house, daughter goes to soccer. Bring bike along. Bike 1:15 while daughter is in soccer. Pick up kids, eat early dinner. Take kids to robotics team meeting on the tandem bike. Ride home by myself, ride my own bike down to work (coaching swimming). After swimming, get in 4,500 yards. Bike home. Collapse. Get up tomorrow. Do it all again.

Is it any wonder that most Ironman bloggers just stop posting right about now?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Flesh Is Strong But the Stomach is Weak

I feel like I'm in tip-top form, all the muscles firing nicely. I can ride six hours, start running, and my legs hardly feel fatigued at all. I can picture myself making it through the Ironman without actually sitting down in the middle of the road and crying now.

There's only one major weakness that I'm worried about. My stomach. I guess I didn't encounter this particular bugaboo when I trained for the marathon and half-Ironman, because they don't last this long. Somewhere about 5 1/2 hours, my stomach just up and quits functioning, folds up shop, throws in the towel. I'm worried. I don't really want to crawl across the finish line, heaving my guts up. And I definitely don't want to DNF because my alimentary system is in shut-down mode.

So this week's long ride, in addition to being a gear check, will be to try a new policy: no solid food on the bike whatsoever, and I'm going to try taking a Dramamine before heading out. After reading about IM Florida seasickness issues on the BBS, I was going to try that out anyways. I'm notoriously green around the gills in the slightest oceangoing vessel (odd for someone who has flown in aerobatic airplanes without a hitch, but there you have it). So we'll see if the dramamine has the added benefit of quieting the queasies.