Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Ride or Not to Ride; That is the Question

It's Saturday. I want to ride, but...I am once again recovering from an injury. I just spent the last hour Googling for advice on what to do. 10 stitches in my right calf. Bike injury from Monday afternoon. My way of adding excitement to our DC to Mount Vernon ride. So, what to do? It seems clear that I could end up with a slower recovery and bigger scar on one hand; or I could end up frstrated, less fit and possibly gaining a pound or two on the other hand. Then there is what I am calling the "fun" factor: I like to ride on Saturday with my husband, sweating together and enjoying the scenic Western Dane County roads. I have a short time to ponder. Wish I had an expert to give me definitive guidance!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From Peak to Valley to Peak!

My favorite quote used to be "The harder I work, the luckier I get."  This season has caused me to change my mind.  I worked hard: February through April I followed a marathon training schedule, enduring  wind, rain, snow, below zero temperatures and ice; including taking a fall while running fast, hitting ice on a downhill, falling forward strking my left knee, arm and both hands, and inspite of blood, pain, mud and holey running tights, finishing the six miles left in the run; including getting in those two 20 mile runs at a Boston pace.  (This is the "peak" part.)  I increased my distance and my speed gradually.  I followed the advice of an expert CTS coach @

Did my hard work result in good luck?  Heck no! (Here comes the valley part.) Two weeks before my first marathon effort, the CellCom Green Bay Marathon ( ) things fell apart.  On a ten mile Sunday run, I got out six miles and my right shin started to hurt.  Downhills were excruciating.  I stopped when I could no longer stand the pain.  This clearly was more than shin splints.  I wasn't warming up and feeling less and less pain.  I ended up limping back six miles.  What happened to this idea of hard work and good luck??

Six months later, after two MRI's, two sessions of aircast use, lots of PT, and a gradual return to running, I was ready to try to achieve this goal again!  The Summit Credit Union Haunted Hustle ( was my focus.  It is my neighborhood marathon, covering trails and roads that I regularly run and so close I could pick up my packet by driving less than ten minutes, and I could be dropped off by my husband just thirty minutes before the start.  Only one problem:  it sold out!  I had delayed registering wanting to be sure I wasn't going to throw away a hundred bucks. (Maybe not a valley, but definitely a "dip" in my success trajectory.)

Fortunately my neighbors and friends who own the Endurance House ( )gave me VIP treatment.  They let me register in advance of the "waiting list," the night before the race.  How's that for a high anxiety situation?

Race morning was dark and cool, but I donned my sunglasses, race belt, handheld water bottle, ForeRunner, iPod shuffle and cool weather running gear and off I went with enthusiasm, anticipation and trepidation (ie those shins). 

I was right about wearing my sunglasses for the semi-dark start.   What a morning; what a day!  It was sunny and in the upper forties, low fifties.  No wind.  Just a little frost on the wood bridges and walk ways.  I followed my nutrition plan relying on PowerBar vanilla gels and my GU Brew, along with taking advantage of the water stops along the way. 

I focused on leaning from the ankles, completing my stride and keeping my running cadence in the upper 80's.  Thanks, Brian Heiderscheit at UW Sports Medicine Runners Clinic! ( )  I implemented the run/walk plan designed by my CTS coach.  Okay, maybe only through mile 14.  After that I ran most of the race, other than long uphill climbs, and I ran on grass and dirt whenever I could.

Arriving at mile 24 was pretty emotional.  I knew then that I was going to achieve this goal, and I knew from here to the end, I could use up whatever I had left in me.  (Finally another "peak"!)

As I crossed the finish line it took a lot of self-control not to just break down sobbing.  Having that medal put around my neck is the most memorable moments in this Boomer Beginner's running career, so far!

I also must admit that as I was completing that last mile, I thought," You know I have another six miles in me.  I could do a 50K!"

Stay tuned,

The Boomer Beginner

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Year of "TRI"ing!

It has been more than I year since I have written anything, so let me explain what's kept me busy.

I set several goals last winter: to complete an Olympic distance triathlon, to qualify for USAT Age Group Nationals and to run in my third North Face Endurance Challenge. To say the least it was a busy and challenging winter, spring and summer! In the midst of all of this I also changed jobs.

What I learned along the way is that how you think, as you deal with the heat, the distances, the details, the adversity and the complexity, really matters tremendously. With the help of a great coach, a few medical folks (breathing and allergy specialists) and a supportive spouse, I worked through some disappointments and ended up achieving all of my goals. (I believe that what I learned from endurance sports helped me process and overcome the stresses in my work situation as well.)

I am very fortunate to be a "boomer beginner" and to be enjoying multi-sport and running at the level that I am. Sometimes when I wish I had a better swim, a better ride, a better run, I try to step back and remember how few people still are involved in endurance sports and competition when they get into their fifties.

Year-end Questions:

Did I ever master stripping the wetsuit? Not yet. The best thing was that nationals were in Alabama, so no wetsuits were allowed. The water temperature was too warm.

Do I now know how to disassemble and reasssemble my bike for shipping and competing purposes? No. But I have purchased a bike case, and I am planning to practice this winter. Maybe even for our trip to Colorado for Thanksgiving.

Do I now do a better job of pacing when I am running? Not exactly. I still have races where I start too slow or too fast; races where I end up out of breath and needing to slow down briefly. But, I do know more about how to control my breathing, and I am working on learning to run by feel, rather than by ForeRunner.

Do I enjoy working on these goals? Absolutely, but somedays it is hard, cold/or hot, challenging and lonely work. I have yet to find a training partner to share the joy and misery with.


Completed the Capitol View Olympic Distance Triathlon
Competed at USAT Age Group Nationals in Tuscaloosa
Qualified for Team USA going to Beijing for ITU World Competition in 2011
Finished second in my age group in the North Face Endurance Challenge 5K and 8th overall.
Set a new PR in the Haunted Hustle 10K.

Am I coming back for more next year? See my next post.

The Boomerbeginner

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Boomer "Tri's"

The past six months have really pushed me. I made the decision to become a triathlete and I entered two sprint distance triathlons. Getting ready was challenging, sometimes painful and often exhausting. Just simple things like learning to ride with cleats and unclipping were frustrating. I had read that you unclip your right foot for safety reasons, leaning to the right to balance, not into traffic. Okay by me. Then I tried learning to do that. Not once, not twice, but four different times I fell onto my left knee, because I unclipped that foot, but leaned left. (Did I mention that I am not a quick study?) What my husband suggested is that I have a left tendency and maybe I should just go with that? Thank goodness for logical observers. My left knee now has a permanent knob and scar, but I did get this under control before race day.

My first tri was with my daughter, the "veteran" triathlete. (She had done one before.)It was right near home, so we could practice the bike route and the swim. Wetsuits were another new learning opportunity. I did my first open water practice swim in Lake Superior in May. The waves were impressive and the water temperature "stunning". However, I gained confidence knowing that if I could swim a 400 in these conditions, I could certainly complete the swim in my first triathlon. What I was, and am, still learning are the fine points of preparing for, putting on and taking off the wetsuit. Body glide- what a great invention! Now to figure out how to run, strip down and pull of the suit quickly, while simultaneously removing my swim cap and googles.

So, how did it that first tri turn out? We both placed in our age group! My daughter got third and I got first! The prizes were large beer mugs (very Wisconsin) complete with graphics of the region and "award winner" printed on them. Nice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Question of Distance

I wonder if I will ever learn the basics of this running sport? I have been at it for a year now, and I still amaze myself at the mistakes I can make. The newest one happened as I undertook some speed work on a quarter mile high school track.

My Carmichael coach had made it as simple to understand as it gets: go to the track, warm up for 1.5 miles; run two laps (800) in 4 minutes; recover for one lap; do another 800, same speed; recover for one lap; do a single lap (400) in 2 minutes; recover for a lap; do another 400, same speed; complete a total of six miles.

Now it's not that I haven't done these before. I understand the pace and distance ideas here. However, I usually just do them on the road using my ForeRunner to measure out the distance. The track ideas was to give my legs/feet a nice fast, flat surface to enjoy, and also not have to worry about marking the laps.

The night was perfect. But, the track area was crowded: a lacrosse team practicing on one end of the infield (football field), a football team practicing on the other end; Special Olympic athletes being trained in track events on the track itself; and various recreational runner and walkers using the track too. So, I decided to stay out of everyone's way by running in lane 9 or even slightly off the track. I did my warm up, and then off I went into my first interval.

For me a 08:00 pace is a good challenge, but one I can achieve. However, when I completed my first interval I was disappointed. I had taken too much time. I completed my recovery lap and did my second 800. Same thing. I did the next recovery lap and ran my first 400. Too slow again. The same thing happened in my final 400. I was discouraged. I have been working hard to build endurance and speed. This made no sense.

As I completed my next lap, I looked at the distance as I crossed the starting mark: it was more than a quarter mile. I consistently ran the remainder of my 6 miles using lane 9. Then I downloaded the Garmin file at home and looked at the splits. I was not running quarter miles. I was running .28 miles. When I converted my data, I had made my pace goals! In fact, I might have done even better if I hadn't allowed myself to doubt and become unfocused while doing the intervals.

When I owned up to my question of distance in my conversation with my coach, he mentioned to me simple track etiquette: "On your left." In the future I will claim the inside lane, except for getting in the way of Special Olympic runners.

Another day, another challenge, another learning opportunity in the life of this Boomer Beginner!

Anyone else got a story to tell?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Running High

Sometimes running "high" is not about speed or competition, even if you are in the Denver area. Sometimes it's about running with someone you love and are exceedingly proud of. That has been my opportunity and my joy for my last two runs. That doesn't mean that these have been my best runs, given the altitude, but they have been some of my most enjoyable runs.

Now I head back to the reality of the MidWest and running alone while I learn to run long. New goal: run a half-marathon. May 24th. Plenty of time, right?