triathlon

The Big Off-Season Tune-up

  This is the time of year when triathletes can finally rest and take it easy.

My off-season officially began in the last mile and half of my Olympic distance race in mid-October. The heat got the best of me. I mostly walked it in, feeling lame, alarmed, and defeated. (But would you believe I podiumed?) I knew I didn’t feel right. And with chronic insomnia, I hadn’t felt right in a long time.

I made a long overdue appointment with my doctor. She took eight vials of blood and performed a couple of other tests. Yup, she pretty much looked at everything under the hood.

The good news:

• I’m not going to have a heart attack anytime soon.

• I do not have sleep apnea (according the home test that made me look like a Jedi warrior and scared Todd’s cat 7)

The bad news:

• I’m low in iron, but not anemic. According to Runner’s World, 56% of the runners they polled had an iron deficiency.

• I’m low in vitamin D. Yes, you can be low in D even when living in sunny So Cal. I had tested low in this three years ago too. Being low in D can cause fatigue. I guess it’s one of my bug-a-boos. My body doesn’t absorb it well. Back then, I was told that 50% of Southern Californians are low in it.

• My endocrine system is a bit of mess. My doc said, “I’m amazed you’ve been able to do what you ‘ve done. Your body isn’t producing energy right now.”

The great news:

It’s fixable. I just need to give myself some time to let my body rest and get re-adjusted with the meds and supplements. Which means, for now, super light workouts. No exercise within four hours of bedtime. Limited activities. And do whatever I can to reduce my overall stress. I’m still a bit overloaded with work, but I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. For now, I'm basically going to have to act like a bear in hibernation.

I’m glad I got checked out. I had about a million excuses to put it off. But in retrospect, the beginning of the off-season is the perfect time to get checked out by your doc. Okay, your turn. If you haven’t done so in a while, please make an appointment so you can have a great season next year.

A Training First: ‘Cause I was THAT Busy

One of my favorite mantras is “There’s a creative solution for every problem.” Last week was a particularly stressful one.

Two family emergencies on the East Coast. Screaming deadlines for three clients on the West Coast. And a longstanding commitment to hang out with a friend’s elderly mom for a couple nights while she was on a business trip.

I examined my living room from my desk that afternoon, looked longingly over at Blaze (my tri bike) and realized there was only one way to get the training in. So I rolled out the Herman Miller desk chair for a seat that’s a little more aero. Propped up some ad awards annuals under the front wheel and got to work.

Then I managed to get some edits done for an investment product, came up with a bunch of ad ideas for a technology company, and read a long report on a new line of cosmeceuticals (beauty products dispensed by dermatologists). Hopped off the bike to take a couple of calls in between from people I will be eternally grateful to in Boston and D.C. as well as my big sis’ nearby in Long Beach.

When all was said and done and done and done, I put in 30 miles on the trainer. It wasn’t the highest quality workout. But it opened up the capillaries, helped me de-stress, and served as a mental victory.

 

 

My Cyclocross Champ

  I promised myself I wouldn’t post another thing until I got this one done. Todd definitely earned an exclusive post here. He won another title! This time he snagged the SoCalCross Southern California Prestige Series of Cyclocross (Master’s A 45+).

They counted the best 11 races out of a possible 21. If my numbers are correct, he raced 19 out of 21 of them. It was a suspenseful season that began in September and ended in late January. Quite a few of those weekends involved racing on both days.

Cyclocross is quite a departure from his mountain bike races. Instead of disappearing up the mountain trails for 45 minutes for each loop, they completed as many 1.5-2-mile loops as possible in about 45 minutes alone. In the process, they had to jump off their bikes to climb over barriers 10% of the time. Kind of reminds me of steeplechase, except with a bike in hand.

It’s a high-intensity race that involved a lot of team tactics that remind me of watching the Tour de France – complete with dramatic sprints across the line. (The photo below shows him reaching for the win.) They raced in grass, asphalt, mud, and sand.

Todd had some tough challenges along the way – a nasty cold that kept him out for a couple of weeks, an even nastier crash that had him hobbling for a good part of another week, and a frustrating mechanical that lead to a DNF. But he came back from those mid-season snafus stronger than ever. His best eleven races were all firsts and seconds.

Cyclocross is a family affair here. His brother Brad won the Single Speed A category and finished on top of the podium, too. He raced in 21 out of 21 races and faced some pretty incredible competition out there.

I have to give huge props to Dorothy Wong, who organized every single one of these races. Each week, she put on these flawless events with fun, creative, and generous prizes – and even found the time to race herself. I swear I was rooting for her just as loudly as I was for the brothers! And, of course, I need to thank his sponsors Spy Optics and Blue Bicycles. The guys had a great time racing with Team Spy Blue.

Todd vs. Tom

Last weekend Todd and I had a little tiff – a rarity for us. It lasted all of ten minutes. He had just returned from a cyclocross race. I had just completed a pretty long brick. We were both high on endorphins and happy that it was beer time. Todd has been racing just about every weekend since September and doing awesome. The nice thing about cyclocross is he doesn’t need me to be there to pass water bottles to him. I’ve been going to the races nearby and enjoying time to myself, training, socializing, getting stuff done, and watching my guilty pleasure shows like Top Chef and Millionaire Matchmaker without him.

Since October, he has told me he wanted me to be there for the finals. So for the past three weeks, I’ve been building up my training in anticipation that training might be difficult during a weekend of cyclocross cheerleading in Bakersfield. I did an extra long brick (for me) with the last hour and a half in the rain so I could be there for my man! I had my cowbell ready.

Imagine my surprise when he announced, “Caroline (his brother’s girlfiend) is not going next week,” he continued, “So we were thinking of just making it a brother trip.” “Is this to save gas?” I riffled back defensively. “Have another beer,” he joked and added, “I want you there, but I don’t want Brad to be traveling alone and we could fit all four bikes (a backup bike for each in the pits just in case) in my car and…and…”

I felt dejected. I felt disappointed. My mind raced ahead in true chick fashion. And then it dawned on me. ‘Easy girl, you want to be home next week. You want to see Tom Brady and the Patriots in the playoff game! Don’t fight this. Embrace it!’

I looked at him. “We can get our own room. You can go if you want. We can work it out,” he stammered. “No that’s okay. I can watch the Patriots game!” I replied with a grin. “Have another beer!” I suggested. He looked at me and smiled. Yeah, this is the man who has had to console me the last two years when my team lost in the early round of playoffs. He knows me.

Yes, I’m that kind of girl. I not only like the sappy romantic movies, I also love my sports. Today while I wait to hear how he does in the finals, I’ll be watching my undefeated alma mater Syracuse University men’s basketball team take on Notre Dame from the trainer. And tomorrow, while I wait to hear how he did in the one-day title event, I’ll be watching my Pats. Pretty much a perfect, rainy weekend here in So Cal.

This Week’s Top 6-2-3: Thanksgiving Style

Six:

1. Awkward Family Moment: Started the holiday weekend by taking my nephew O’Neill out to dinner for his 21st birthday. We sat at the bar of our favorite restaurant as we’ve done for years. He abstained from drinking because he took an oath not to for his golf scholarship. No alcohol was needed for us to have a great time. Some old friends spotted me with a handsome dude and the wife approached us inquisitively, “Amelia?” “Hey!” I replied. “Steve (the restaurant owner) said you were dating a handsome, hot guy…” and she looked at O’Neill wondering, “Is this your guy?” “OH, NO!” I answered quickly, “Well, he is a handsome, hot guy! Can’t you see the resemblance? This is my nephew!” I found myself rifling through my iPhone pics to show I wasn’t that much of a cradle robber. O’Neill took it in stride.

2. Turkey Trail Trot: I opted against doing the Long Beach Turkey Trot and running on the boardwalk. Thought I’d be better off training on the trails for the XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run in December.

3. Lost: Crystal Cove was closed to due to unsafe conditions (rain). So I ran at the far end of Aliso Woods Wilderness. It’s been years since I’ve been around those trails. Probably 15 years at least. I got lost. I ran/walked an extra three miles. This made Todd laugh his butt off and save the voicemail to play for his brothers Thanksgiving night. It was funny.

4. Lovin’ It: My getting lost gave him more time to ride his cyclocross bike on the same trails, so it didn’t matter if he made us late for dinner because it was my fault already!

5. Dinner: It was excellent. The highlight was the entertainment portion, which included my brother-in-law’s brother Jimmy in an arm wrestling duel with O’Neill and then a full-on food fight with a couple of cans of whip cream with my niece. We were all in fits of laughter. Jimmy’s dogs were happy to clean the floor. Yup, we’re a really mature bunch.

6. Dessert: Back at Todd’s, we waited for brother Brad and girlfriend Caroline to arrive. This is a family of jokesters. I am VERY easily punked. We waited. We drank. Suddenly, his condo shook. The cat, Seven, freaked out. Me too. Turned out it was Brad, shaking the sliding-glass door. Spiked my heart rate more than that trail workout. This East Coast chick doesn’t like earthquakes.

Two:

1. My sister Jane (O’Neill’s mom) set a 10K personal record of 50 minutes (at the age of 56)! Hey, she didn’t take an oath not to drink. That’s worth celebrating! And it gives me hope that I can get faster too. Her secret? Yoga every morning!

2. I took advantage of the Black Friday special to sign up for three more triathlons at Bonelli Park next year. I’m psyched! I need a lot more races under my belt to get over this race-start anxiety bug-a-boo.

Three:

1. Todd crashed badly at his cyclocross race on the last lap. I waited for several minutes holding my iPhone camera waiting for him to cross the line. Then I heard Todd call out to me from the medical tent. After hearing the medic’s play-by-play, I’m so glad I didn’t witness the crash. He wondered if Todd would get up. Todd has never crashed out of a race.

2. He rode his bike gingerly back to the car. He has nasty tire mark gashes in the inside of his left bicep, a stiff right shoulder, and a really banged up right calf. He’s been hobbling around ever since.

3. I left my rehab quality ice gel pack behind for him to use this week with instructions, “Ice, ice baby!” Despite the limping, he rode for an hour and forty minutes last night and recited all the wildlife he saw out there today. It was a very long list!

Do You Ever Dream You’re Running?

Or swimming? Or biking? Or racing? I do on a pretty regular basis. Of course, these dreams are never anything totally like real life. There’s always some highly entertaining weirdness involved. Must be recovery for my brain.

I think I watched too many detective shows with a friend last week. We were entranced with NCIS, CSI, and Lie to Me episodes. So big surprise, last night I dreamt I was being chased. I was hauling you-know-what through back alleys, hopping over fences with ease, and running at a very fast clip. It wasn’t a jog or a trot. It was a full-on SPRINT for my life.

I woke up with a grin. Somehow that dream made me feel optimistic about my running in the future. And my sheets looked like they went through a stirring mixer. They were tossed on the other side of the bed. Sleeping is supposed to be about rest, but tell that to my subconscious.

Are You a Barge or a Sailboat?

Since my fitness isn’t 100% right now, I’ve been thinking about form a lot more lately. Last Saturday, I overheard Coach Mary giving a teammate some advice, “Barges have flat hulls. Sailboats have keels that cut through the water with less resistance,” she explained, “You want to rotate on your side more like sailboat with a keel.”

That analogy really resonated with me. I told her, “I think I’m a hybrid. I’m a sailboat on my right and a barge on my left.” Over breakfast, my Master’s swimming teammates recommended this drill to help correct it. So, how about you? Are you a barge or a sailboat?

It was a Sad, Surreal Day in Seal Beach


On October 12th, I walked out of my local CVS drugstore and suddenly had a strange gut feeling. I had no idea why, but found myself scanning the parking lot for anything amiss. I took a different way home. Drove a block and still didn’t feel right, so I took side streets back toward my place. Two blocks later, I saw two cop cars blocking another side street. I drove slowly passed them and witnessed two police officers cuff a big, hulking man and pull him away.

I presumed there was a bank robbery since it was a block away from Bank of America. When I got to the other end of the street, it was blocked off by a parking-enforcement truck. The officers looked visibly shaken and prepared to leave as they waited for two more cop cars from neighboring Los Alamitos to speed by. I made it across the street, parking in my carport, and chatted with my neighbors on the corner. We were grinning and in disbelief at the number of blaring sirens we heard in our small town.

I went inside and posted on Facebook, “Anybody have any idea what's going on in Old Town Seal Beach?!! I've never seen so many cops or heard so many sirens in the 20 years I've lived here. Plus, the Los Al Police are here in force too.”

Ten minutes later, I got a call from a friend who heard from someone at Patty’s Place that two people had been shot at the Salon Meritage and there might be another shooter. I immediately called my friends with businesses on Main St. to tell them to lock their back doors. I heard helicopters overhead and presumed it was the police looking for another shooter.

My sister, Jane, called from Long Beach to see if I was okay. Her friend, Nancy, was concerned about me and heard on the news that six people had been shot. I called my Dad back in Boston to let him know I was okay. The rest of the afternoon, it was a volley of calls to and from friends and clients, checking in. It was unsettling to think of the people who didn’t make it. And what might have happened without the quick actions of the Seal Beach Police Department. If they had not caught him so quickly, I surely would’ve crossed paths with him. He was headed for the street I was on to pick up his 8-year old son at the elementary school a half-mile away. Who knows how many more people he would’ve shot if he’d had the opportunity. The sounds of a half dozen news and police helicopters continued overhead until dark.

In a couple of minutes, this shooter took the lives of eight wonderful people – Michelle Fournier, Randy Fannin, Laura Webb, Michele Fast, Dave Caouette, Victoria Buzzo, Lucia Kondas, and Christy Wilson. They had busy, full lives and loved ones who depended on them. The Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce set up a fund to assist their families.

Their loss is such a shock to all of us. Our tight-knit town is collectively mourning and doing everything it can help their families. It is estimated that 4,000-5,000 turned out for the vigil the following evening. Grief counselors have been called out to talk kids of all ages in schools.

In a town of 25,000 people, we lost more lives in this incident proportionally than New York did on 9/11. I didn’t know any of them personally, yet all of their faces looked so familiar to me. I know I’ve swam with Michele at the McGaugh pool. I’ve exchanged hellos with Dave many times on Main St. I’ve seen Laura at Nick’s Deli and Lucia at Café Lafayette. In a town this small, we all know someone who knew them. We all know someone who was within earshot of the crime. (One of my friends was annoyed because she thought it was CSI filming around the corner that day.) We all know someone who was with their loved ones or friends when they heard the news of their loss. We all know someone who had a close call and for one reason or another didn’t make it to the Salon Meritage that day. We all ache for those who lost their lives that day.

You can feel it as you walk around town. People have let down their normal polite facade. Everyone is a little more tender with each other. The empathy is palpable. In some ways, it's still sinking in. Whether we knew them personally or not, we know we lost some of our own. People who loved this town and everything in it – just like we do. They enjoyed walking on the pier at sunset. They enjoyed the simple pleasures of coffee at La Crema, lemony chicken soup at Café Lafayette, a glass of wine at the bar at Walt’s Wharf. They looked forward to our little Christmas Parade each year like little kids. It is, indeed, a Mayberry by the sea.

This Week’s Top 6-2-3:


Another whirlwind week, but a good one!

Six – The Training:

1. I started out the week with another open water swim on a Tuesday morning with Sharon Swimmer.

2. Another tempo run on the treadmill.
3. Another ride on the trainer.
4. My first crossfit class in ages and it showed. I was rusty and almost instantly sore. I followed it up with a treadmill run, which made it feel a lot like a brick workout. I may be on to something. It took a glass of wine to get through the foam rolling that night.

5. Since we had a big red tide, spanning most of our beaches, we substituted our open water swim with a hike. Yup, back to the exact spot where I met Sharon Swimmer last month.
6. Did a long run in the hilliest part of the neighborhood I could find. For some reason, going up felt better than going down.

Two – The Races:

1. I signed up for the XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run on December 11th. It will be a 15K. I know the trails well, so I know it might involve some walking. The picture up top shows what may be the easiest portion of the race.
2. I can’t stop thinking about Kona coming up – tomorrow. Can't wait to watch it all on www.ironmanlive.com.

Three – The Fun Stuff:

1. On the hike, we spotted this big guy’s tracks. Mind you, I don’t have a small foot. I’m an 8.5. He looks like a moonwalker. We had no particular route in mind, but ended following this mystery man’s tracks for almost three miles before turning back to the car just because they made us laugh.
2. We went to the Farmer’s Market at U.C. Irvine. I got a good haul ‘cause I’m on a mission to re-stock my freezer with healthy stuff I can just thaw out quickly.

3. Todd is sponsored by Team Spy this cyclocross season. Lots of good things happening for him on that front. I’m so excited for him!

This Week’s Top 6-2-3:


Wow, last week came and went faster than a Kona qualifier. Barely, getting in a recap before the next one! Here it goes…

Six – The Memorable Workouts:

• A tempo run on the treadmill.

• A kick-my-butt rowing class that left me drenched.

• A recovery spin with my unpaid cycling coach. His tip for the week: use a recovery pace, but spin those legs faster so they get used to that cadence when it really matters.

• An interval run on the treadmill that included 10 x 400s.

• An open water swim with “Sharon Swimmer” at Corona Del Mar. The ocean was totally dark and spooky on that overcast morning. I figured out kelp pretty much creeps me out! Plus, open water swims just exhaust me. (And, apparently Seven too.)

• A 9.3-mile mixed trail run (photo above). It was slow and in my opinion a little too much, too soon. I’ve been following the Galloway 10K running app on my iPhone. After that I adjusted it down from “Improve My 10K Time” to “My First 10K.” I’ve done dozens of 10Ks in my life, but thought the distance climbed a little too fast since I haven’t done any in a while.

Two – My Mindset:

• I’ve been feeling like a human pinball lately.

• Maybe in another month things will calm down.

Three – The Races:

• Todd came in 4th again in his cyclocross race on a mountain bike. He won a cool belt buckle as a prize. ‘Nuff said.

• Sharkbait made it through her big day as the Swim Race Director of the Orangeman Triathlon. She added some key innovations to improve safety for the all the competitors, especially the newbies. Way to go Sharkbait!

• My master’s teammate, Tammy, finished the Orangeman. We were so proud of her. Can’t wait to give her a hug the next time I see her.

(A bonus pic of Seven. As aloof as cats can be, he's pretty affectionate when he knows I've had a hard day.)

This Week’s Top 6-2-3

Six:

• I had a nice belated birthday swim in the bay and dinner with TriDiver and Ryan.

• I went for a bike ride with my shadow and unpaid cycling coach Todd.

• He had me do a time-trial start for the first time. He held my bike seat while I clipped in on both sides, and instructed me to put my bike in the big gear for the start. 3-2-1 – off I went as hard as I could. That was my Tour de France experience for a Monday morning.

• Sharkbait organized a college football/birthday-bash-for-Cathy. Sharkbait graduated from USC. I’m a Syracuse alum. SU is really known for basketball. I didn’t have high expectations for a win, but I had a lot of fun.

• I’m back at my crossfit gym. I did two treadmill runs. Still easing back into everything, but looking forward to doing crossfit again.

• I met a new friend, Sharon, on trail patrol a couple of weeks ago. Turns out she’s a swimmer. I added her to my cell as “Sharon Swimmer.” Her name popped up with an invite to join her and her friend Mary on Saturday morning for an ocean swim in Corona Del Mar. I was psyched to get the practice in with some new pals. The three of us met the next afternoon for another swim. So I set a PR for three open water swims in one week!

Two:

• I have to give a shout out to Roadrunnersports.com. They have a huge selection, including narrow shoes for my skinny foot and neutral shoes for the orthotics I have to wear.

• Their confirmation email said check back within 24 hours for detailed shipping information. Um, they arrived on my front door in less than 24 hours. Their VIP deal is totally worth it.

Three:

• Todd came in 4th in his first cyclocross race of the season, missing third by a fraction of a second.

• He did the race on a mountain bike for his new Team Spy Blue Elite Racing Team.

• Found out TriDiver came in first in her age group at the TriRock Triathlon. She edged out her man, Ryan, by only a minute. (They blame the differential on the transition times.) Hey, I knew they’d be pretty compatible when I played matchmaker. I didn’t predict that would include race times!

Turning 50 with a Tri

I had a loooong time to think about turning 50. I even had a mock 50th birthday party last year when my dear friend Sharkbait forgot that aging up didn’t really mean turning a certain age already.

I tried not to fret over it – like I did when I turned 25, 30, 35, or 40. Instead I imagined doing something rather impressive to defy my age and mark the occasion. I thought of doing 50 50’s in the pool. Climbing 5,000 feet on my mountain bike. Running 50K or 50 miles in a week or less. Doing a custom crossfit WOD and naming it for my mother! But being sick with shingles a couple of months ago pretty much wrecked those ideas. Though I’m calling it a mulligan and thinking I can do all of those things before I turn 51 – let the record show!

So what could I do to celebrate the Big 5-0 last week? I’m a lucky girl. It was decided for me by the love of my life and some of my dearest friends. I did a tri all right. Three parties – three nights in a row. Lots of awesome thoughtfulness catered to little ol’ (or should I say “old?”) me.

On the actual day, Todd and I took a nice walk around the lake. He indulged my photo bug with lots of shots.


Then we hung out and drank some beers on the floor and played with the cat – the highly entertaining little guy Seven – before heading out for a romantic dinner at Opah.


The next night, I made it to Master’s for a workout to find a homemade Yankee pot roast dinner (by Sharkbait, BTW I prefer to think of it as a Red Sox pot roast dinner) and plate of homemade brownies (by her daughter Nikki) waiting for me. It was fun to blow out the candle and have a nice little celebration with my Master’s team. It feels so good to be swimming with them after a couple of months off. I really missed these people.

Then the next night, I got the surprise of the half-century. I knew Sharkbait wanted to take me out for dinner. I knew she had something up her sleeve. I never predicted it would turn out to be something like this evening. She was in cahoots with our dear friend and ocean swimmer extraordinaire, Lynne Cox.

A ruse was involved. On the way to “the restaurant” where we had “reservations,” we quickly dropped off Nikki to pick up their dog Roxie to walk her home. The dog likes to visit Lynne and her mom. She’s a water dog. She loves to blow bubbles in the pool.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We went inside to say, “Hi!” When we got to the kitchen, I knew something was up. Perhaps it was my favorite green plate on a stack of plates. The row of wine glasses.

Or the sweet aroma of clam chowdah!!!! I just walked in on an authentic New England seafood dinner. We hung out on the patio and enjoyed the first course: sourdough rolls and The Original Fish Company’s New England clam chowder.

Then came the next course, lobster flown in from Young’s in Belfast, Maine with corn on the cob and potatoes.

And then the piece de resistance – the most incredible birthday cake I’ve ever seen in my life from the Great Dane Bakery in Los Alamitos.This cake was so delicious that I promised Lynne I'd be sure to post some pictures of it!


It was truly a work of art. I’ve never seen anything like it – and it tasted just as phenomenal as it looked. What can I say? I have a weakness for chocolate! Thank you Great Dane Bakery!!


Kind of beats a race report doesn’t it?!!! Well, it does if you're not in race shape! Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about last week.

This Month’s Top 6-2-3:

August flew by at warp speed and I fell off the blogger bandwagon. It was a bittersweet, manic month of fun social gatherings and family emergencies. I’ll focus on the fun here.

Six:

• Todd and I celebrated four years together with a hike. It seemed only fitting since we met on the trails.

• The Twins put on an incredibly decadent dinner party for us – their old Tri Diva teammates, complete with custom glasses. Though we’ve gone our separate ways, it’s always a riot to get together!


• I’ve been trying to get more open water swims in. TriDiver rewarded me for my “bravery” with cupcakes at Sprinkles after our fun beach day workout at Little Corona Del Mar. (She spotted me doing the back stroke and gave me tips out there as we swam the buoys. That's a good friend!)

• I got a track workout in on my old high-school track in Massachusetts. This track was dirt in my day. It's amazing now. It was hot and humid, but I got ‘er done, jet lag and all.


• Finally made it back to Trail Patrol after three months off because of those darn shingles. Started back with a hike and this was my reward – an ocean view of Laguna.

• Todd received his Kenda U.S. Cup West Champion jersey for his big win of the series in June.

Two:

On the race front:

My dear blogger pal Tawnee Prazak finished her first Ironman. You can read about her adventures in Canada here.

My friends Dave Cox and his stepdaughter Amber Foster had a great outing at Nautica New York. In fact, Amber the speed demon mom was the ninth woman overall.

Three:

I traveled back to Boston and D.C. and back to California in 72 hours with nothing but my race bag. I consider that training.

• I got to see my dad.

• I got to see my best from second grade, Jean.

• And in the midst of a 22-hour day with nothing but a Clif bar and a packet of tiny pretzels all day, I got to have a much needed Bloody Mary and lobster roll at Logan Airport.

This Week’s Top 6-2-3


Six:

• Seeing my Red Sox have their best July in history with 20 wins (yeah, I’m one of those fans).

• Hearing my 20-year old nephew finally ask, “What kind of bike helmet should I buy?” after I nagged him to wear one for a DECADE!!

• Catching up with Ryan and TriDiver at the last concert in the park of the summer.

• Dancing with my big sister, Jane, and getting some quick cardio
(yeah, it’s genetic).

• Feeling a definite improvement in my energy – FINALLY.

• Starting what I dubbed “sub-base training.” Cause it sort of feels like I’m starting in the basement after the better part of 11 weeks off. (Better it be me than the Red Sox!)


Two:

• A great weekend hanging out with my man and man cub. Seven's paws look big here. Definitely an optical illusion.

• A fantastic meditation class with my Ohm sisters. Call it mental training.

Three:

• A bike ride to my own private Idaho, a rolling paved stretch inside a park with no cars.

• Another easy peasy ride on the trainer.

• Two aquajogging sessions with my big sister’s marathon training group.

This Week’s Top 6-2-3

Six:

• Cadel Evans, a mountain biker, finally won the Tour de France. Australians want a national holiday to celebrate his yellow jersey.

• Andy and Frank Schleck take 2nd and 3rd in the Tour. Their dad was a pro cyclist.

• Brent Blankner of the podcast Zen and the Art of Triathlon, and ultraswimmer Jamie Patrick swam across Lake Tahoe last Sunday. You can learn more about their adventure here.

Ryan Barnett completed Ironman Lake Placid holding an American and military flags during the last two miles. He finished 4th in his age group and 20th overall. He’s been juggling the dual role of stay-at-home dad of his 8-year old daughter and elite Ironman athlete, while his wife “The Commander” is serving overseas. The family was finally reunited just in time for the race. Think we’ll see him at Kona too.

• One of my favorite bloggers, Ian Milkenson, placed sixth among the pros at Ironman Lake Placid. Sure I admire him for being fast. But in one of his posts a while back he wrote about pulling his car over to help a little old lady who took a fall in a park. I prefer to think of him as racing with a cape, but I guess that wouldn’t be very aero.

• Todd put in a solid six-plus-hour ride on his mountain bike Sunday, after keeping me company for the first 10 miles. Glad to see him get his mo back.

Two:

• Muffin top. Yup, more calories in than out the past few weeks. Weird.

• Let’s call it a Minnow muffin top. Somehow, that sounds a little better.

Three:

• I had another great ocean swim lesson from David Cox last Saturday.

• I finally met David’s stepdaughter, Amber, who finished Oceanside with us. Well, way ahead of me.

• And an outdoor ride on Blaze. Just an easy peasy spin to make me feel like a triathlete again.

Crossing Lake Tahoe

I’m planning to take a dip in Seal Beach this weekend. But ultra swimmer Jamie Patrick and Ironman Brent Blankner have something much more adventurous on for the weekend agenda – crossing Lake Tahoe – 22 miles of open water swimming at an elevation of 6,300 feet. They’ll take off Sunday morning at 3:00 a.m. and estimate it will take at least 12 hours. You can follow their crossing here. They promise to have video, pictures, GPS positioning, and telemetry of the event.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the conversation with the hashtag #SwimTahoe. Follow them @metabender and @zentriathlon.

I’m sure all of this will make a great podcast soon on Zen and the Art of Triathlon too.

Revisiting the Chicken$#@* Swimmer Checklist

Nothing like some mandatory time off to bring on a little introspection. When I started swimming and triathlon, my goals extended beyond races distances and finish times. I wanted to learn some skills. And in order to accomplish those goals, I had to get over some fears. I laugh now at some of the things I was afraid of – and laugh some more at some of the things that still get my heart rate up way too much. Wow, what a little head case. Okay, here’s the list:

1. Swimming laps without drowning. Check. 2. Sharing a lane with another swimmer. Check. 3. Circling with even more swimmers. Check. 4. Swimming in a lake. Check. 5. Swimming in an enclosed bay. Check. 6. Swimming without stopping in the open water. Check. 7. Swimming far, Ironman distance far. Check. 8. Swimming bilaterally. Almost there. In the pool, yes. In the ocean, not always. 9. Swimming through surf. Even barely existent surf. Nope. 10. Swimming in ocean swells. Nope. 11. Swimming without a wetsuit in the ocean. Nope. 12. Doing flip turns. Nope. 13. Race starts. Nope.

Since I’m still not feeling up to snuff, my training and race schedule is totally up in the air right now. The only thing I can do with certainty is work on some of these weaknesses a little bit at a time. So for the next few weeks or longer, I’m going to focus on #9 through #11. When I have my normal energy back, Coach Mary has promised to help me with #12. If I can get over some of these bug-a-boo phobias this year, I’m sure that will feel as good as any PR. Even if I don’t master those skills, at least I’ll dip my toes in the water and feel better about myself for trying.

This Week's Top 6-2-3

Marine Stadium Marina, Long Beach

Summer Concert in the Park at Marine Stadium Park, Long Beach

Six:

6. I hung out with an 88-year old woman named Mary last night. She was a World War II pilot and told a bunch of funny stories. She's still as sharp as can be and swims with a group of women in Seal Beach. She offered to help me with my ocean swimming this summer. Thanks Mary, I need it!

5. One of my all-time favorite pro triathletes, Melanie McQuaid, completed two races in two states over the weekend – XTERRA Beaver Creek in CO and Vineman 70.3 in CA. Thereby earning enough points to qualify for the XTERRA Nationals and Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 48 hours! How cool is that?

4. Speaking of double-doubles (not the In n' Out kind), Beth and James Walsh took 2nd and 1st place in their age groups at Vineman this weekend. Whatever they're putting in their training mix and Vitamix, it's clearly working.

3. Did I mention that I love Thor? Seeing this sprinter lay it all on the line to take a rather hilly stage on the Tour made my day.

2. Seeing the Frenchman,Thomas Voelkler, win the yellow jersey on Bastille Day made me happy too. It's amazing how a French rider usually pulls off a miracle ride on this holiday each year.

1. I'm moving up in the Tour de France Fantasy Challenge. Now ranked #9,569 out of at least 22,000. Can't wait for the big mountain stages this week.

Two:

2. There was only a slight uptick in my energy level this week. I'll take it, but can't wait for more. The phase after shingles feels like mono. You just want to be horizontal.

1. On a mission to fix that Todd got me some 5-hour Energy. I only use it in case of emergency - like meeting an afternoon deadline. I only consume half. Despite the cheesy packaging, it just has caffeine and lots of liquid vitamins in it.

Three:

3. My 19-year old nephew, Noah, got to watch me for a change as I practiced my dolphining and getting acclimated to the surf. I'm so proud of this kid. He's worked as a certified chef since he was 17. He cooks for a 5-star restaurant and a pub. His girlfriend Katelyn joined us. She offered to swim with me some more later too. Thanks Katelyn, I need it!

2. The next day, it was Todd's turn. Then we met the family for a concert in the park, picnic and bottle of malbec. It was a perfect summer night.

1. I'm still a big scaredy cat about little waves. When they break near shore, I can't help breaking into a run. So that counts as a brick, right?

This Week’s Top 6-2-3

Six:

6. I love Thor! So blown away by his ability to keep the Yellow jersey for a week, especially that last hilly day!

5. Though I personally love rest days, when the Tour takes a rest day, I go into complete withdrawals. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

4. I was absolutely haunted by seeing Chris Horner complete that stage with a serious concussion. He had no idea where he was or if he finished. The real reason he couldn’t continue? If you attempt to play sports before fully recuperating from a concussion, you risk something called “Second Impact Syndrome” which can be lethal or cause permanent brain damage. Concussions don’t show up on MRIs or CT Scans. The neurologists I’ve interviewed on the subject recommend this neurological test to screen for a concussion and determine the best time to return to normal workouts.

3. I’m not sure what’s more perplexing – seeing the number of times Contador crashed or watching him toss his sponsor’s 10,000-Euro bike to the ground in disgust every time he needed a new one.

2. Chrissie Wellington set a new world record of 8:18:13 in the Ironman. I think she’s elevating the sport for women in the same way that Billie Jean King did for tennis.

1. My Versus Fantasy Challenge team is ranked 10,669 out of at least around 20,000.

Two:

2. I received some coaching on entering the surf from my friend, David Cox. He’s quite the ocean swimmer and a great teacher. (More later.)

1. Watched my Master’s Swimming friends race in the annual Seal Beach Rough Water Swim on Saturday. I was so proud of them. (More on that later too.)

Three:

3. My favorite quote of the week came from pro triathlete, Joanna Zeiger via her husband, “When your body tells you not to workout, it's not lying to you.”

2. Particularly fitting since I was glued to the mattress this week like chewing gum on hot sidewalk. Guess it’s normal post-shingles fatigue thing.

1. My subconscious is taking over for my lack of physical activity. Last night I dreamt I raced in two heats of the mile. The race venue was an underground garage. I dropped out of the second heat because I was so annoyed by all the columns. Yeah, my dreams don’t always make sense, but they’re entertaining.

This Week’s Top 6-2-3

Six:

6. I’m thrilled that the Tour de France has begun.

5. It reminds me of one of my happiest TDF memories. My family rented a cottage on Nantucket in ’04. It had a huge 60” plasma, flat-screen TV which was a rarity back then. No one in my family was interested in cycling. But my dad faked it and watched it with me every morning.

4. I’m so glad that I ended up with someone who enjoys the Tour as much as I do each summer.

3. I signed up for the Versus Tour de France Fantasy Cycling Challenge contest for the fifth year in row.

2. I really like my team’s chances: Thor Hushovd, Mark Cavendish, Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Robert Gesink, and Mark Renshaw are some of my top picks.

1. Think I qualify as a Thor Hushovd groupie. I took this picture of him at the Tour of California in its inaugural year. He’s one of my favs.


Two:

2. Sharkbait’s teenage daughter, a super-talented swimmer, got whomped by a wave last Thursday and hit her head hard enough to hear a crack in her neck. She had to be transported by ambulance on a backboard to the hospital. Scary moments for her mom and friends. We’re all so glad she is okay.

1. The kid still wanted to get back to the beach that afternoon. She’s fearless. (Wish some of that would rub off on me.)

Three:

3. I threw up the white flag last week and realized recovering from shingles is not going to be a quick fix. It’s hard to get through a workday, let alone workouts right now. This too shall pass. If you have any loved ones over 60, encourage them to get the vaccine for it. You can't get one if you're younger.

2. An 1,100-yard swim on Saturday left me as fatigued as a 100-mile ride on the bike last year. I fell asleep in front of an old Doris Day movie for the better part of the afternoon. Kind of pathetic. Kind of decadent. I’ll try to dwell on the decadent.

1. Had a fantastic Fourth of July. A nice dinner with steak, Portobello mushrooms, and asparagus grilled on the barbecue with some pasta. Followed by a view of six different towns’ fireworks.