Blogs tagged with "aging"

Low-techie in my non-tri-related
There were almost 4000 bikes in transition.

I had nothing even resembling a taper, but I took the day before easy(ier) with a shorter swim and run, and I tried to get two good nights of sleep leading into race morning (although Expedia did everything to thwart that by allowing us to book a hotel with no vacancy two nights before the race, making us scramble around Racine at midnight on Thursday looking for a place to stay). Even though my legs were fatigued, I attempted to come up with a race plan - just to have one.

My race plan was simple: hammer the bike and see what happens. I guess it's basically the same thing I tried to do last year because of my hamstring injury. The difference was that this year I was able to run without pain, and I've working on bike speed by riding with faster riders.
I went back and read last year's race report only to realize that this year I had an identical (disappointing) race (on the bike). The water was a little warmer this year and the swim course was slightly different, but the rest was mostly the same.
W45-49 start

The water was calm and the women in my age group weren't overly aggressive - in fact, everyone was courteous in the water when any contact was made. I felt strong the whole time, visibility was good, and I came out of the 1500-meter swim in the top ten in my age group (time: 22:18). It was a long run to the bikes, and my overall transition was slower than I would have liked, but I was happy to finally win the struggle getting my wetsuit off over my heels.

Like last year, my bike leg began with pain and soreness and I immediately struggled to push myself. With all my long riding, all my body wanted to do was settle into a comfortable pace - you know, the way you do in Ironman. Aerobically, I felt fantastic, but my quads were sore and cement-like and protested immediately. Similar to last year, the first few miles of the 40K bike course were spent playing leap-frog with another woman. I passed her on the "hills" (not really hills but more "up"hill than the flats, and one was a long bridge) and she dusted me on the flats. The mostly-flat bike course has several turns and two turn-arounds. The most memorable thing during the bike leg was seeing the referee nail a guy for drafting. It happened right in front of me, and when the leap-frogger passed me, she said "that guy was a jerk!" (although I think she used a different word) - to which I replied "did you see they nailed him?" We had a laugh and then she took off.
Bike finish

My speed was pretty steady, but after the turnaround, five or six women in my age group passed me before we pulled into transition. To my dismay, my bike time - 1:09:37 - was only about one minute faster than last year. I had another slow transition struggling to both rack my bike AND get into my running shoes. Once I was running, things started to look up.

Without a specific time goal (sub-7:00 pace would have been good), I wanted to at least chase down the women who passed me on the bike. I managed to do just that. Only that. My first three miles were under seven minutes, I felt good and I wasn't limping. Around mile 5, everything changed. I felt like I had "hit the wall" in a marathon. I lost mental concentration and my legs felt heavy and discombobulated. At mile 6, I made the mistake of turning around - to see an age-group woman I had caught was now catching me. I willed myself to hang on, but my legs were revolting.
I've felt better at finish lines.

With less than a quarter mile to run, I dragged my uncooperative body to the finish while praying that I wouldn't get passed in the last few seconds (and thus die of embarrassment). It was good for sixth in my age group - by a hair. My run time was 43:28 - about three minutes faster than last year - and my total time was 2:19:41 (about four minutes faster).

My surprising finish place made me instantly regret not having tapered for this race. I guess I always feel that way after USAT Nationals because it has always come at an inconvenient time of year. And this year, I certainly never expected to be in the midst of Ironman Kona training. My choice was made when I took my Kona slot that morning in Coeur d'Alene. But standing at the finish line in Milwaukee, I wasn't thinking "big picture" - only reacting to one small moment in a grand scheme.

Now I can see clearer and be satisfied with it and look forward. There's always next year. In Chicago. In a new age group.

Thanks to my husband Jim for the photos, all the driving and support with these whirlwind weekend trips.

Menopause. There. I SAID it.

It's like nature's cruel joke. I'm not surprised it has the word "men" in it. If I didn't know better, I'd be sure to blame them for it. But currently, I find that I'm blaming IT for everything else.

For every woman, I'm sure it goes down different. I used to be under the impression that the so-called change of life happened over "years." And not until at LEAST age 50. But a few months ago, I started having hot flashes. For several years I was also under the impression that hot flashes were the same thing as night sweats. Once in a while I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched and have to get up and change my clothes. I thought maybe I was in that very-early-but-not-quite-starting-to-think-about-it-yet menopausal stage. But my older (you know, 50-something) friends would say "oh, that's a hot flash." Hmm.. really? OK. I can deal with this.

Then the real hot flashes began. Like, this-is-all-out-war-with-heat-seeking-missiles hot flashes. In the DAYTIME. During work. During workouts. All hours. Every day. I had been living with a screwy temperature regulation in my workplace that usually found me complaining and in a coat to avoid finger-numbing cold. But a few weeks ago, my good friend and cohort, Linda, saw me fanning myself and she asked me if I was ok. Oh, just a hot flash, I said. Her comeback?

She grinned and spoke these words: "Welcome to the dark side."

I don't like the dark side. It makes me crazy. My already frazzled nerves have gone to completely frayed. And so far, I have found only one upside (ONE!) to this new state of existence: my grocery bill will no longer skyrocket when I need to purchase feminine products.

Menopause has now become my excuse for just about everything. Bad race? Must be menopause. Heart rate out of control during workout? Menopause. Can't sleep? Menopause. Foot itches? Menopause. Hangover? Menopause. Ran a red light? Menopause.

I didn't used to do that. I used to desperately search for reasons why my body didn't cooperate in racing/training situations. One day after a particularly bad situation, I think I said (out loud): "I'm going to blame this one on menopause." My friend Julie was within earshot and responded with: "Sounds good to me. I blame everything I can on menopause."

And there it was. My go-to excuse.

Dropping out of races last year with respiratory infection/asthma/dehydration? No. It was actually menopause. It CAUSED all those other things.

Hip injury in Kona? Menopause.

Falling and tearing my shoulder? Menopause (for both the fall AND the tear).
And most recently, getting a stress fracture in my tibia for no apparent reason?
Yes. Menopause.

And seriously, in THIS case, this might actually BE the case. I recently read that just going through menopause can cause a bone density reduction of up to 20%. After discussing the likely causes of this particular stress fracture, my orthopedic doctor suggested I talk to my PCP about getting a bone-density test (DEXA scan). So that's the plan.

In the meantime, I'm finding ways to not run much. But I'm swimming more. And I'm learning some things about myself and swimming that I always knew but tried to deny. There may be more swimming in my future. I may even blog about it.
I know, I haven't blogged much lately. What can I say? It's probably menopause.

Menopause. There. I SAID it.

It's like nature's cruel joke. I'm not surprised it has the word "men" in it. If I didn't know better, I'd be sure to blame them for it. But currently, I find that I'm blaming IT for everything else.

I went back to Lake Placid this year to even the score. The score, as you may remember from last year, was:

Ironman Lake Placid 1
Jeanne 0
This year, I vowed it would be a different race. A different me. A different attitude. A different plan. But not a different disaster - in fact, it would NOT be a disaster.
That was my vow.
The vow was the reason I signed up for Ironman St. George in May. I was desperate not to make any mistakes this time. When I toed the line at Ironman Lake Placid, the knowledge of how to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run would still be fresh in my mind.
What I found out on Sunday was that, despite my best plan and my best race-day decision-making,  mistakes can and will be made. Stupid mistakes. Mistakes accompanied by a phrase that has now become part of my husband Jim's vocabulary: "I KNOW what I'm doing!"
Unfortunately (or fortunately), in triathlon, especially Ironman, it's difficult to ever know if you have the perfect race plan until you're in the midst of it. Executing that perfect race is what keeps many of us coming back to this sport. There are always places for improvement (or for things to go wrong): in the swim, on the bike, on the run, AND during transitions. And don't get me started on the weather... or that old Disaster Magnet bugaboo - NUTRITION.
So this year, with the near-disaster at Ironman St. George fresh in mind, I tweaked my nutrition to the point that I now believed beyond a doubt that... I KNEW what I was doing.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back.

Julie (J3) and me with my awesome new
Punk Rock Racing jersey

On Wednesday night, July 20, after a nine-hour road trip in the newly-dubbed "J-lopy" (my friend Julie's Ford Expedition), the J-Team -- Jim, Julie and I -- arrived in Lake Placid. Thursday morning, we went to race check-in, took a stroll around the race expo, and did some grocery shopping. Thursday afternoon, Julie and I went for a bike ride so I could remind myself of the hills at the beginning and end of the bike course. I was very relieved to find it wasn't nearly as difficult as I remembered from last year.

Disaster Magnet with Brian Shea of PBN.

That night, we ate at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery  -- with props to them for letting us watch the Tour de France on their wide-screen TVs! On the way out, I was fortunate to run into Brian Shea -- the nutrition mastermind behind Personal Best Nutrition (PBN). I had always hoped to meet him and we had an opportunity to chat for a while. In addition to being an athlete, Brian is very humble and ridiculously intelligent about all things nutrition-related. And he was kind enough to let Julie take a "look-at-me-I-met-my-idol" photo for me (see photo left).

On Friday, we revisited the expo because, after talking to a Blue Seventy rep the day before, I had my eye on one of their wetsuits to replace my nine-year-old DeSoto T1. While trying it on, a woman walked up with news that the water temperature in Mirror Lake was over 76 degrees, and the race would likely be "wetsuit optional." What this meant was athletes choosing to race with a wetsuit would not be allowed to compete for age group awards or Kona slots. Well, THIS was completely unexpected. For a LOT of people.
My thought process went from considering a new wetsuit to seriously considering a speedsuit. It's not something I wanted to shop for in a hurry, but there we were. AT the Blue Seventy tent. AND they told us their swimskins were being FedEx-ed to their hotel that day. It didn't seem like an everyday coincidence.

Then came the second one. My Bike Authority Fleet Feet teammates happened onto the scene (embarrassingly while I was dripping with sweat trying on a wetsuit in 85+ degrees). After a few questions and a phone call, the Blue Seventy rep had generously agreed to honor our Fleet Feet store discount! With the water-temp news, I suspected they would sell out of speedsuits as soon as they arrived. So I jumped in Mirror Lake for a quick lap on the swim course, and then we sped back to the expo to purchase a newly-un-boxed Blue Seventy swimskin.

And kablam! Just like that, by day two, our Ironman Lake Placid trip had become a random set of unexpected, and opportune, occurrences. But so far, no disasters. At this point, the only things left to do before race day was to attend the race meeting Friday evening, pack and deliver my transition bags, and rack my bike.
We went back to our hotel (we rented a cottage at Wildwood on the Lake), I did a quick run, and we decided to get out of town for a bit. One of my biggest problems is pre-race anxiety, and the usual prescription is to stay as far away from the race venue and other athletes as possible to avoid getting nervous and unsettled. I felt a little guilty because I didn't socialize more with the rest of my team, but I hoped there would be time for that after the race. After having visiting the Olympic venues in 2010, we decided to visit The Wild Center in Tupper Lake -- it's a beautiful natural history museum of the Adirondacks in a very peaceful setting, perfect for relaxing. That night, we attended the pre-race meeting and then grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel.

Then came Saturday. The day before. Unlike the rest of the week, time went lightning-fast on Saturday. We finished the day with an early dinner at our cottage (cooked by Julie) - again, to avoid the hype. And we went lights-out around 9:30 p.m. All I really needed was one dream cycle of sleep and after tossing and turning until 12:15 am, I finally dozed off. The alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. and just like that, race day was upon us.

Body marking at 5 a.m.

I ate my usual pre-race breakfast before 4 a.m. (race start was 7 a.m.): a banana, orange juice, coffee and soy protein powder mixed with Hammergel. I would also down a caffeinated PowerBar gel and water within 15 minutes of the start. We drove down to the start, prepped my bike with race nutrition, and dropped off my special needs bags.

Did you say you want to know what I put on my bike and in my special needs bags? Well... it's funny you should ask that question. Because this time, I KNEW what I was doing. Based on experience, I decided to use all

Saying goodbye to Jim before the swim start

With about an hour to the start and my special needs bags in place, the only thing left to do on race morning was relax, stretch, use the portajohns, put on my new swimskin, and get in the water. I was determined to wait as long as possible to avoid getting cold and tight. At 15 minutes, I said my goodbyes to Jim and Julie and made my way to the beach, finally getting in with 7-8 minutes to go. From where I was treading water, it was obvious that more than half the competitors had opted for wetsuits (I have no doubt it had something to do with the fact that over 1300 were Ironman first-timers).

The 2.4 mile swim is a two loop course in Mirror Lake. Because my swim went so well last year, I moved over to the right hand side of the start line and at the front. I met up with one of my teammates, Ed, who I was happy to see had followed my advice about start location. Treading water without a wetsuit was definitely more taxing, but it wasn't long before the cannon went off. And in an instant, we were on our way.

The swim start

To my delight, like last year, I didn't get clobbered right away and found I was swimming mostly out of the melee until the second turn buoy. But on the back leg of the first loop, I got kicked and smacked and decided to move to the outside. At one point of the swim, there was a huge wave that came by - I have no idea where it came from but it caught several of us off-guard and I noticed a few people had to stop and regroup. I was expecting about 35 minutes for each loop because my training yardage has been dismally low (under 3000 yards/workout) since I broke my rib in a bike crash in mid-May. Much to my shock and surprise, I came out of the first loop in about 30 minutes, I hit the split and entered the water for my second loop.

The Mirror Lake swim course is unique in that there is a cable lining the course about five feet under the water surface. If you can swim along the cable, there is no need to spot buoys. That's a BIG if. Last year, I managed to swim right along the cable, but this year it was next-to-impossible. Every time I tried to get near it, I got pushed and kicked. By the time I could hear the announcer at the swim finish, I had already stopped twice to fix my goggles after being kicked in the face.

Out of the water finally, searching for a familiar face in
the crowd.

I exited the water and looked at my watch. It read 31+ minutes. In complete disbelief, I ran toward the transition, stopping for a wetsuit peeler to help me out of my swimskin. On long run into the transition, I helped another athlete who was struggling to get out of HIS swimskin (he probably also bought it in a panic that week). Then I grabbed my bag and ran into the tent. With temperatures in the high 50s, it was chilly enough to don arm-warmers, at least for the first hour of the bike. I took my time to get everything on and adjusted and ran to get my bike -- this Ironman was the first one in which I've witnessed volunteers in the transition zone helping us retrieve our bikes. Being in the rack furthest from the exit, I had to run the furthest with my bike, but it all went by pretty fast.

The beginning of Ironman Lake Placid's 112-mile two-loop bike course is a severe downhill. Last year I launched my water bottles (the first time) at the bottom of the hill. So I rode very conservatively at first while everyone else went blowing by me. After a quick trip through and out of town, the bike course has a rough series of climbs that begin at the Olympic ski jumps. The climbing is followed by what's affectionately known as the "screaming descent into Keane." This all happens before 20 miles. After that, the course is relatively flat -- with two out-and-back sections -- until you get near Whiteface Mountain (the Olympic downhill ski venue). Then it begins to climb again with several significant rollers until you reach "the Three Bears." The bears are a series of three hills - baby bear, mama bear and papa bear. My belief is that papa bear suffers from the "Heartbreak Hill" syndrome. It's mostly difficult because it comes so late in the race when your biking legs are toast.

Obviously this is early because I still
have my arm warmers on.

My goal for the bike leg was to maintain a very easy aerobic state (Zones 1 and 2) for the first loop and then keep it as low as possible on the second loop while still maintaining similar speed. Lake Placid bike course is notorious for deceiving bikers because one of the steepest hills is in the first five miles. Going hard at that point is barely noticeable and it's where everyone should consciously hold back. Last year, I went too hard and paid later on the bike course. This year, I spun up it. I paid no attention to athletes passing me and tried to keep my heart rate down and my legs spinning. By the time I reached Keane and the 20-mile mark, my average was well over 20 mph. From there, I was able to comfortably maintain 20-23 mph until we hit the final hills. Again, I spun up them.

This year, I was determined to enjoy the experience on the bike. And I was fortunate that a large group of triathletes from my local area were competing and spectating on the course. It was a great feeling to be part of this larger group -- their cheering was integral to my day. I heard my name several times shouted not only by my own

Bike finish (note arm warmers gone)

When I got back to town to begin my second bike loop, my bike computer read 2:54. I saw Jim and Julie and I remember telling them I was thinking of pushing to try to go 5:50 on the bike (last year I did a 6:10). I was almost dead on that pace. If I picked it up only a little bit, I might even go sub-5:50. Indeed, I KNEW what I was doing. I took the second loop very similar to the first, determined to save my quads for the hills on the run. Nutrition-wise, throughout the bike, I maintained about 200 calories and 20-24 oz of fluids per hour and felt no stomach or GI distress. And by the time I reached the finish, I had slowed just a little -- I pulled into transition with a time of 5:51.

Climbing off the bike was not nearly as painful as it has been in the past. I actually tried to stretch out my legs as I ran barefoot to grab my bag in transition. As I ran into the tent, one of the volunteers yelled to me that I was carrying my bike bag! So I turned around to go back and grab the RED bag. I don't think I lost a lot of time with that mistake -- in fact, I think I was laughing about it the whole way to the tent. The volunteers in the tent helped me locate everything I needed for the run -- I loaded my pockets with Gu packets and Thermolytes and was on my way. On the way out of transition, I took two Thermolytes and put on my hat. Just as I started to run, the velcro closure on my hat popped open and I had to stop and fix it. The funny part was that the spectators at the run start were with me every step of the way... they quieted down when I stopped running, and as soon as I put my hat back on and started back up, they erupted with cheers. And I was off.

It all starts here, at "run out"

The Ironman Lake Placid 26.2 mile run course is an out-and-back loop done twice -- the loop begins with two miles mostly downhill, and finishes by coming back up those hills followed by a flat out-and-back in town. I saw Jim at the start of the run and he reminded me of my plan: to go out at an 8-minute mile pace. I settled into my marathon shuffle only to realize that I felt very very good. My heart rate was well within an aerobic zone and my legs were not tired.

It's easy to make a big mistake on the first downhill by going out way too fast. I held back on the way down the hill to save my quads from the pounding. Seriously, I held waaaay back and I went through the first mile in 6:59. NO! That was NOT the plan. It felt SO easy, but I backed off anyway. I didn't want to make that mistake. Or worse, I didn't want Jim to yell at me (for making that mistake). I jogged, ingesting water and PowerBar Perform at the first aid station. When I got to mile 2, there was more bad news: 7:05. NO WAY! I backed off even more. Mile 3? 7:07. SLOW DOWN! (but I felt so good and I still wasn't breathing hard at all). Finally, by mile 5, I managed to slow to around 7:20-7:30.

By the time I was well into the run, the temperature was hotter than the predicted high of 74 degrees (it felt like upper 70s or lower 80s). When I got back to town, my pace had slowed a bit on the uphills. And then I saw Jim and Julie. I prepared for the chastising, but all Jim yelled was: "How are you doing?"

My prepared response? "I KNOW what I'm doing!" (Although Julie maintains that I "never actually answered the question.)

Finishing the first loop of the run, feeling good
and still smiling

I grabbed the nutrition from my special needs bag and managed to down the bottle of EFS in the next two miles. By the time I was heading into the second loop, I was back on a 7:10 pace. But by mile 17, I had slowed to 7:45 pace and I was starting to feel fatigue in my legs. All the while, I had run free of nausea and stomach distress. I maintained one Gu Roctane every 30 minutes, sips of water and Perform alternated every aid station and four Thermolytes per hour. It was around mile 18 that I decided to take the Pre-Race/Liquid Shot mix hoping to wake up my system and get me through the final eight miles. Yes, I KNEW what I was doing.

By mile 19, I was doubled over at an aid station vomiting the contents of my stomach. Thanks to my experience in St. George, I knew I could recover from this, so I sat down and waited for it to pass. For assistance, I had two wonderful aid station volunteers -- one of them named Ryan. He helped me with ice water, determining if I was in trouble, and then urged me to get back out there running as soon as I felt better.

After about 7 or 8 minutes, I got back up and started jogging (my two-mile split was 22 minutes). My stomach distress was gone and I settled into an 8-8:30 mile pace. At mile 20, my watch read a total time of 9:39 and I started doing some calculations. I almost couldn't believe it... but if I ran an 8-minute pace, I might be able to finish before 10:30. But on the final hills, my pace dropped to near the nine-minute zone. The final out-and-back to the finish was the longest 1.5 miles of my life. I kept looking for mile 25 (where was it?!?!!), and even after I passed it, I had NO energy to pick up the pace. On the downhill homestretch, I looked at my watch to see 10:30, and I didn't even care.

Coming into the finish - still smiling.

I heard Mike Reilly's voice announcing finishers as I rounded the last corner to the finish on the Olympic speed-skating oval. I took a deep breath and smiled. Ironman Lake Placid was over. I crossed the finish line in 10:32:46 -- my Ironman PR -- and finally laid to rest the demons of Lake Placid.

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, I was struck with nausea and volunteers insisted I take a break in the medical tent. I didn't want to, I just wanted to go celebrate with Julie and Jim, but I was feeling very ill and at least I could get medical help if necessary. After a bout with vomiting and chills, I was up and out of the medical tent in record time. It was my second PR of the day.

No explanation here

By the time I found Jim, he already had the news -- I won the women's 45-49 age group. Jim knew because he and Julie were getting text updates from our friend Ron in California who had quicker access to the internet tracker (our iPhone reception in Lake Placid was sketchy at best). What we didn't know until Monday night was that I also broke the age group course record (after comparing the results from the past 13 years).

Although I reached my goal of finishing Ironman Lake Placid and did it in my best time ever, I still had to learn the hard way one of the cardinal rules of endurance events. Never EVER do anything on race day that has not been proven in training. I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing. I had executed a great race right up until I got stupid. I thought any caffeine-containing substance would be the same but it was a mistake that could have cost me much more than 7-8 minutes. Despite being the Disaster Magnet, I got lucky this time. Next time it may be a disaster. And if I attempt to do anything stupid again, I'm sure Jim will remind me of the time I said, "I KNOW what I'm doing," when in reality, I was being an idiot. Jim and Julie have a knack of keeping accurate historical records of these things (and documenting it in photographs), such as the arm-warmer vs. hypothermia incident of Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2009 that they will never let me forget.

All I have to say about that is: what is a support team for anyway if they can't keep score?

There are a few more things I want to write before wrapping up this race report (sorry it's so long). At my age, I never thought I would be capable of finishing an Ironman in a time even close to 10:30. In my mind, the best-case scenario was 10:40 -- and not on a course as difficult as Ironman Lake Placid. And certainly not 1.5 months after fracturing a rib in a bike crash and two weeks after racing a hard 70.3.

Happy Birthday J3

My race at Lake Placid would never have been possible without the support of Jim and Julie. They do so much more than just cheer for me on the course. They keep me sane and healthy during race week. They try their best to help me avoid making mistakes (especially when I KNOW what I'm doing). They look out for me (even though they can only laugh when I punch myself in the face while trying on a wetsuit). Julie even came to Lake Placid despite it being her birthday on race day when she should be home celebrating with her family (I hope our custom chocolate raspberry whipped cream cake was a good enough substitute).

In addition to the J-Team, there were a few more people involved in making Sunday's race as successful it was. My good friend Ron (Punk Rock Tri Guy) has been an integral long distance member of the J-Team. With his positive attitude and enthusiasm, he has kept me motivated through some of the toughest moments of the past year, and he's been very generous with his time and Punk Rock Racing gear. My fondest hope is that I am as good a friend to him as he's been to me. I also want to thank my incredible orthopedic doctor, Sam Patterson, and my massage therapist, Mike Hale, who have gone above and beyond the call to keep my body healthy and intact. Speaking of healthy, I also want to thank Olly Knights (that's right, Olly of Turin Brakes) for reaching out with some of the best nutrition advice I've received this year. Finally, I'm thankful for my new BAFF Multisport teammates, our sponsors, especially Muscle Milk, Bike Authority's Sherman McKee and Bill Dieter at Second Sole for the type of support that makes racing these triathlons even possible.

(All photos courtesy of Julie and Jim)

I usually write a "yearly recommitment" blog in January or February to jumpstart my training and remind myself why I race and what I love about my sport(s). This year, as we head into the holidays, I'm recommitting little early because, non-thinking person that I am, I registered for a race in May and my serious training must now commence, albeit in the midst of a five-day snowstorm in Cleveland.

I'm struggling with a less-than-stellar 2010 season and it's causing my recommitment to take on a certain reassessment-like tone. To my dismay, I'm still searching for answers to the same old questions:

  • How do I finally get faster on the bike? (I thought I figured this one out last year, but, alas, it didn't work)
  • How do I reconcile my passion to run marathons with my desire to race well in triathlons? (Whether you call it a need or an obsessive-compulsive behavior, it's something I MUST do.)
  • Where on earth will I scavenge up the cash to pay for ever-increasing race entry fees, gear (including necessities like running shoes, nutrition and supplements) and travel expenses? ...and still have something left to eke out a living or, *gasp*, take our yearly trip to the UK [to see Turin Brakes and our ever-expanding number of wonderful English friends].
  • How do I mentally deal with the age-related slowdown? (or the other age-related disasters like throwing out my back the day before my biggest race)
  • How do I let go of past disasters so I can race (or blog) without a bad attitude? (or so SOME people think)
  • What can be done for my newest ailment, allergy-induced asthma, a.k.a. "being allergic to spring," "not being able to go outside in the spring" and "ripping my hair out on the indoor trainer while everyone else is finally going outside in the spring"
  • How do I finally get command of those two age-old bugaboos, nutrition and sleep?

In the coming months, I will try (note: TRY) to address each of the above questions calmly (note: CALMLY) in a blog, with high hopes that some of my readers can help me find solutions.

For today, I'll just tackle the recommitment part. Why do I run (, bike, and swim)? I do it because, unlike my job and relationships, it is the one thing I do that depends entirely on me. Performance is directly related to the amount of effort I put in both physically and mentally. It does not depend on who likes me or who I schmooze or how good I am at marketing myself or spinning the truth. It's governed by a (sort of) golden rule that I always believed in: hard work pays off. In the case of the Disaster Magnet, a little luck sometimes helps, but... you get the point.

I'm fortunate to have new friends and an expanded support network heading into next season. I look forward to racing as a new member of a team -- the Bike Authority Fleet Feet Multisport Team. In turn, I plan to give back that support and (hopefully) a little age-related wisdom to my friends and the local triathlon and running community.

On Thanksgiving, I did something I haven't done in almost nine years. I ran a five-mile race. Not just any five-mile race, but the

Mom checks out an explanation about beach erosion.

After registering and getting my number, I did some reminiscing with my mom. We took a walk and snapped some photos of the main beach (see photos below) -- a place I hadn't seen in over 20 years. Everything looked so small. The sensation was compounded by the fact that erosion had reduced the beach to a tiny strip of sand. In the cold dawn, I could barely conjure up images of summers past. Even the boardwalk -- the site of all that walking and all those splinters -- looked small and insignificant.

When I lost all feeling in my fingers, mom and I went back to the car to warm up. Jim just laughed at our need to see the beach in this weather. When I could feel my hands again, I got out of the car and went for a pre-race jog around the campgrounds. Again, everything seemed so much smaller than I remember and I was surprised to find it took me only 10 minutes to cover ground that seemed to take a whole day on my very first bike (the one with the banana seat that started out with training wheels).

A reason to wear my
I've seen better days (and better finish sprints).

Inevitably, disaster struck. (Did you expect something different?) As I passed mile marker 4, I felt like I ran smack into a wall. The last mile was a death march (I can't believe I just wrote "death march" in describing a five miler). I was in slow motion as I watched the women in front of me pull away. At that point, my brain turned off and I just ran it in. In my younger days, I would have fought to the very end. But on Thursday, I decided that I am now older and wiser. And I can choose to run it in.

My last mile was so slow, I refuse to mention it here. It was so slow, I may have been running backwards. It was so slow, I wondered if the course was long. It wasn't.

I "ran it in" to finish 66th overall, 5th among the women and first in the women 45-49 (i.e., old) age group. Mom, Jim, and I hung around long enough for the sun to come out, get some post race refreshments, and pick up my award (a neat little mesh bag). When they announced my age group and my time as 32:00, a guy in the crowd said to me: "that's a GREAT time." I added "for an old lady."

Older and wiser.

Here are some photos of the beach of my youth:

In my quest to get healthier and eliminate as much stress as possible, I seem to have done the opposite. Researching nutrition and dietary supplements has actually added stress to my life. I spent the last two weeks trying to determine if what I'm currently doing is working or if I should change it. It all came about with an announcement by Hammer Nutrition that they are changing the make-up one of their supplements. Yep, like so many discontinued running shoes, it's the one I use and love.

This daily vitamin supplement is Hammer's "Premium Insurance Caps" (PICs). It took me two separate tries to get the dosage right -- I had given them up many years ago because the recommended seven-capsules-a-day made me feel bloated and tired. But when I started training for Ironman again two years ago, I went back to Hammer and found that I could drop the dosage to four a day. I gave it a second chance and voila! it worked much better. I feel great during the day now and my workouts are strong. Last year, I stretched my budget to add Hammer's "Race Caps Supreme" to the regimen based on raving testimonials (from Hammer athletes, of course). I noticed nothing -- I didn't feel better than usual after four hours of cycling -- my energy levels didn't change. But I still swore by PICs and many other products in the Hammer line such as "Recoverite," whey and soy protein, and Hammer Gel.
This year, Hammer announced a change in PICs -- they are removing the ingredients that can be found IN THEIR OTHER PRODUCTS. Oh, GREAT! Just what I need -- they're changing the ONE thing that seems to work and is ridiculously affordable. Now I have to buy more to get the same result. Disappointed, I went looking for a new daily supplement.
If you Google "athlete" and "supplements," you will be bombarded with testimonials about breakthrough products that will make you feel "20 years younger." Many of them claim they will turn back time both in how you feel AND how you look. Now that I'm in my mid-40s, I want this. Desperately. I click through. With hundreds of products out there, how can I tell which ones, if any, actually do what they claim? If you're geeky like me, you search for bad reviews of the products on bulletin boards. And what I've determined is this: either there is nothing really scathing to report about any of these products, or people don't waste their time writing a bad review. I've also confirmed something else in my quest: triathletes, in general, have way more disposable income than I do.
There's only one thing left to do: trial and error. It's not something I'm looking forward to when I have so many other things to figure out this year. But I do believe that supplemental vitamins are necessary for endurance athletes training 12-18 hours a week, and I don't get all the nutrients I need through diet alone.
So here's the first item up for trial: Enerprime by IMPax. It's described as "a synergistic blend of superfoods, adaptogens, antioxidants, phytonutrients, herbs, enzymes, and micronutrients," and claims it does everything from increasing endurance to counteracting stress (so we've come full circle). I still can't find info on whether it's a supplement to be taken in addition to regular multivitamins or actually itself a "multivitamin." It's expensive enough that I can't afford to take much else. I'll start at ground zero, one supplement, and go from there. Enerprime is recommended by top triathlon coach and fitness expert Ben Greenfield (who also recommends several other products in the IMPax line, so I'm already wary of those motives). I figure if it doesn't work, I can look elsewhere or go back to Hammer Nutrition and formulate a plan by talking to one of their experts. Hopefully, I'll know the effects within a few weeks and report back. Any recommendations are welcome.

Most of you may already know I work in the marketing department at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. My main responsibilities include the Zoo's website and social media presence, photography and video. If you love animals, working for a Zoo is a reward in and of itself. But all jobs have their issues. I could tell you a million things that are stressful in trying to market a Zoo, and both zoo and non-zoo fans could probably guess many of them. But today, I just want to write about how, as internet marketers, we try and try and try to give people what they want, we try to serve up information for them in several outlets and formats, and yet, they will still find things to complain about. I constantly wonder if it is a direct result of the instant-gratification society we live in or if it just has to do with my views of society as I age (there's that word again, "aging"). Will it get worse as time goes on? And, why is it that we can have many people giving us a thumbs-up on Facebook, and yet we can't shake off the sarcastic and negative comments?

I encounter the same thing with my personal social media sites. I love going to concerts and I love to take photos and video, but sometimes, I just like to enjoy the show. After great feedback on my videos, I have felt a responsibility to my YouTube friends to keep supplying more. But now, when I upload several videos from a gig, instead of getting a "thank you" from people, they ask me if I have more video from the show.
Maybe it's just human nature. Maybe it's just MY nature in wanting to please everyone. I wish I could give out some lessons to be learned from this, but I'm still trying to get a grip on it myself.

Most of you may already know I work in the marketing department at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. My main responsibilities include the Zoo's website and social media presence, photography and video. If you love animals, working for a Zoo is a reward in and of itself. But all jobs have their issues.

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