Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Rest

Once over the finish line it was time to grab some food and drinks and get the gear bags. Luckily for me Andrew had got my bike already. We had to sit in the traffic jam for a while to get out of the Expo Center but I took the time to get my brand new birthday present compression socks on. They look naff but they really do work. I then cracked open a pickle juice and a bag of crisps (I should have taken 5 pkts at the food tent while I was at it). I got a pencil and the back of an envelope and started the birding challenge. I had forgotten all about it earlier when I could have got some ducks on the lake. First up was a black vulture.

8 birds later and we were at NXNW. We found some friends inside but decided to snag the tables outside to allow for more folks to show up. We ended up pretty much taking over that area. It was great - close enough to the oompah band to hear them but far enough away to be able to chat with frinds, many of whom I only get to see occasionally. I had a couple of beers and enjoyed the time there. All too soon it was time to roll and get back to Lago for party #2. This would have been the time to have a second pickle juice but I was feeling rather full.

We had to stop to pick up the pizzas on the way home. A few folks were already at the house plus my family so I got outside 5 slices pdq and cracked open another beer. Then it was time to do my slideshow about being a geologist, quickly followed by the lighting of candles on my 5 cupcakes (in the center of the massive tray of 50). 2 cupcakes devoured I had to wash sticky fingers and play my violin. I had a very appreciative audience of 5 and 6 year olds who took to dancing and capering about. The adults listened politely! Then someone asked about car washing and Andrew mentioned push ups. I summarily dismissed those as stupid ideas and did the bedtime story instead. It ws then bedtime for the kids (and me) and I decided I was done.

Next up for me will be Bandera 100K and another bash at Rocky Raccoon 100 miles.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Race

Living in Lago Vista meant a 3.30 am alarm on race morning. Ugh. We had done bike drop off and packed all the gear the day before so all we had to do was to eat breakfast and get down to the race. Transition set up and body marking was done by 6.30 am so then we just sat around in the dark, freezing and waiting for the sun to come up. My wave was due off at 7.40 am, ten minutes after the pros. Andrew had to wait another hour.

At 7.20 am I ditched my sweater and flip flops in the morning clothes drop-off bag and headed down to the start. They had people parachuting in with the colors while the national anthem was sung over a PA system. Just as the lady got to the ‘free’ in ‘Land of the Free’ the power went out. The gathered masses filled in the last missing line and watched the ‘bouncy castle’ arch over the Swim Start slowly deflate. It seemed an ill omen but the timing clock was still working and unfazed officials started the race on time.

As our lilac-capped wave of old (50+) and young (18-25) ladies inched down into the ‘on deck’ position I wondered about the wisdom of starting such a venture. But there was no turning back now. I edged out into the lake toward the outer part of the group away from the marker buoys. They counted down and we were off. The swim is a strange event. I have no fear of it and have no doubt I can do the distance but it is nonetheless unpleasant. It is impossible to get into a rhythm. As soon as you do someone swims into you or you into them. Plus I had to defog my goggles several times. My freestyle is rubbish but it is the only practical stroke in a pack. So I swam that unless I was in the open when I did my breaststroke, which is much more efficient for me, as fast as my freestyle, I can see where I’m going and I don’t get worn out. After five minutes I heard the wave behind start. These were 45-49 men so I knew I’d get caught. I kept out of their way to the right of the buoys. After a bit they did catch up, and then the yellow caps of the 45-49 women, and then the next group and so on. I rounded the first buoy and checked my watch – I was about where I thought I’d be time wise so got my head down and kept going. After rounding the next buoy I started swallowing water every so often. “Concentrate” I barked at myself. But rather than being lack of concentration I think it was just that the waves were coming at a different angle. By this time I was thinking “I’m fed up with this I want to be done with this swim”. Not too much later I was out of the water and running up the ramp to T1. Just inside 55 minutes – almost exactly what I had predicted based on training times.

My transition was slow. I don’t have tri-gear so I was swimming in my costume and had to get it off and put bike shorts and a shirt on. We all have to dry feet and get bike shoes on but concerning my efforts “more haste, less speed” springs to mind. Helmet on, I got a nice man with sunscreen coated gloves to put sunscreen on my face and arms and I was off on the bike leg. Once I got going I looked down to check the speed, but my little bike computer had gone. “Bloomin’ heck”, I thought, “somebody’s nicked it”. But Andrew told me after that as it only cost $10 that was highly unlikely and that it had probably been knocked off somehow. “Oh well”, I thought, “just ignore it – it doesn’t actually directly affect speed so just pay attention to the mile markers”. So I settled in to do a steady 15 miles per hour or so that would get me just inside 4 hours and not leave me too tired for the run. I used Perpetuum in my bottles. I like that in ultra runs and hadn’t had any time to experiment with anything else. I had a few gels with me also. At the first aid station at mile 12 I was busting for a wee so I got off here, took care of it in a nice pink Port-a-Potty and then took the opportunity to have a gel and a quick hamstring stretch. Off I went feeling much better. The rest of the bike went fine, if a little slowly. The only problem was that I got a fair bloat on which was pretty uncomfortable from the halfway mark on. But I managed the electrolytes and fluids carefully to not push it over the edge while still keeping somewhat hydrated. I know from ultrarunning that these things can usually be managed if you pay attention. Many hundreds passed me, but I just let them go. Andrew had told me not to try too hard on the bike so that I had something left for the run. It was good advice. Towards the end of the bike I was passed by a lot of guys in the 25-29 age group. But I caught loads of them back up on the run, even though I was going pretty slowly. Andrew passed me about halfway round the bike course. He looked to be going well. I was glad that I rode the course a few weeks ago. Even though they have markers every 5 miles it helped to have an idea where I was on the course. So I finished in 3.51 breathing a sigh of relief that there were no mechanicals and no flats.

Off with the bike shorts and on with the running shorts and I was away on the run. I thought at that point that I should be close to 71/2 hours. But running after the bike is always harder than I bargain for. I walked for the first 5 minutes to get the feeling back into the legs and then tried to run the downhills and flats and walk the ups. The bloating was still a problem but I kept working at it. Then I noticed a pre-cramp feeling in my right outer calf. I never normally cramp. So at the next aid station I forced a bit of banana down, and a couple salty prezels. I kept drinking the PowerAde they had. I kept on this banana and prezel habit every 3 miles or so until I was done. Plus I had a couple gels. I would have had more but I was still pretty bloated and couldn’t fit much more in. It was quite hot on the run so I did use the iced water sponges quite a bit. I figured managing the body temperature would help decrease the sweating which would help with hydration and electrolyte balance. Plus it felt nice. Andrew passed me again when he had 3 miles to go and I had another loop left. On the second loop I knew it was going to be touch and go to get inside 8 hours. I couldn’t believe I was so slow, but there it was. So I tried to push along as hard as I could. The result was almost even loops (the 2nd just 21 seconds slower than the 1st), but I just missed the 8 hours by a little over a minute. Anyway I was done and was happy to get the finishers medal. Not too bad for a woman of 50.

I enjoyed the race a lot and it was well organized, but I have to say there was one thing I hated about it – the unbelievable amount of trash generated. It was way beyond anything I have seen at any other race. I wonder if any of it gets recycled. I might just see if I can do something about that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Thing Is Done - I’m Halfway

I had a great and memorable day and I was exhausted after. I’m halfway to a hundred. I plan to keep up the pace for as long as I can. Use it or lose it is the saying.

Here’s the Challenge breakdown. For those wanting a blow by blow account that will follow. As you can see some tasks were accomplished, some not:

Half Ironman Triathlon Check
Pickle Juice 1 out of 5 (no excuse)
Rendezvous with friends at NXNW Check
Beer drinking 2 pints and 1 can (of target 5, no excuse)
Cars washed Zero (flat out refused to do it)
Gardening Too dark
Pizza slices eaten Five – check
Bags of crisps eaten 1 pkt of 5 (forgot to buy them)
Cup cakes made 50 (cheated - Norma and Phoebe did it)
Cup cakes eaten 2 of 5
Violin playing At least 5 minutes – check
Talking about my work At least 5 minutes - check
Reading of bedtime story Check (although much less than 50 mins)
Taekwondo forms Clean forgot – chalk that up to senility
Reading of Shakespeare None – no excuse
Push ups and sit ups Too tired
Knitting None – brain too addled to follow pattern
Bird species seen and positively identified 8 (of target 25)

Looking at it another way I:

Got up at 3.30 am, ate breakfast, rode in the van with Andrew to Travis County Expo Center, got bodymarked and organized gear in 2 transition areas, sat around freezing, swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles, ran 13.1 miles, picked up gear ate a bag of crisps, drank a pickle juice, rode in the van to NXNW doing birdwatching (got 8 species), drank 2 pints Hefeweissen, hung out with friends, rode home in van, picked up pizzas, hung out with friends at party #2, ate 5 slices of pizza, drank a can of Fat Tire, played several tunes on the violin, admired the fantastic job Norma and Phoebe did with the cupcakes, enjoyed my Happy Birthday song with candles, ate 2 cupcakes, did a Powerpoint show about me being a geologist, told people there was no way I’d wash their cars, read a bedtime story to everyone, said good bye to guests, put Phoebe to bed………and ran out of steam.

Thanks to all who came to the parties to help celebrate and to those who sent well wishes before and after. And most of all to my family, who helped, encouraged and supported this piece of self-indulgence. And well done to Andrew who did a great time – a PR by a lot - and who did all the driving and picked up my bike at the end.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

If in doubt give it a go

So I did 20 miles on the bike and a 3 mile run this am. Felt a bit rusty but the back didn't seem to affect it. In fact it feels a bit better. So now mentally I feel much better and will go with what I've got. Will send out party invitations later.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Things not good

I am very worried about the event. I had to deal with our big research meeting at work and got sick (stress I'm sure) and then had a trip to England for a conference. In the week between I put my back out. I then had to go to England. Two transatlantic flights didn't help it at all. So with the cough and the back and work I haven't been able to train for three whole weeks. I wanted to do a long bike tomorrow but I'm not sure I can do anything. I will go to the chiropractor again on Monday. This sucks :(

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Halfway Birthday Challenge schedule

Longhorn Half Ironman (official race out at Travis Co Expo). Cheering squads welcome!
Swim 1.2 miles
Bike 56 miles
Run 13.1 miles

I think it’ll take me between 7-8 hours. Race starts in waves so I’m not sure of exact start time but if we say 7.30am I should be done around 3 pm

Pick bike up and start Pickle Juice drinking challenge (5 x 500 ml bottles) and drive to Austin for a short stop at a bar to meet up with Austin–based buddies (so they don’t have to trek out to Lago Vista on a Sunday evening). Venue NXNW. I will start the other part of the drinking challenge (a modest 5 bottles/pints of beer). Mixed with pickle juice though……..(in my stomach I mean, not in the glass!). So I’d schedule this bar rendezvous for 5 -7 pm.

Drive home (we will have a party at the house) and launch straight into the next part of the challenge:

50 repeats of Taekwondo forms (I do half the total form)
50 minutes of bedtime story reading to Phoebe (I need to get a book that would take me nearly 2 hours to read so she just gets half the story!)

Then Andrew came up with the following party activities just to make sure I am totally done for.

5 car washes (lucky lottery system or first come first served (no Hummers or Vans (Mrs Schwartz!))
5 slices of pizza
5 bags of crisps
5 mins of violin playing (ear plugs will be provided for guests)
5 mins of knitting
5 mins of reading Shakespeare aloud
5 mins of talking and computer photos about what I do (promise to make it funny)
5 mins of gardening
5 mins of sit ups
5 mins of push ups

25 species of birds see and name though the day.

make 50 cupcakes and eat 5 of them

Finish drinking challenge. Collapse into bed.

That's it - done - halfway to 100!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Long bike

I rode the course today, all 56 miles of it. It is fair to say that I was tired afterwards. One mean dog tried it on but luckily I was going too fast. Bit of a shock though to have it run out snarling and showing teeth. I'm thinking I might complete the physical part of the challenge with 50 repeats of Taekwondo forms. The tri will take 7-8 hours and then we have to get the bike back etc so I'll run out of time if I'm not careful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Six weeks out

I am ready for this thing to be here. Even though final plans are not set yet, I want to get it done. I am hovering on the edge of injuryland. But I feel ready. A few more long efforts and I will be there. Not sure about the original time goal, but I will give it as good a shot as I can.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pickle Juice

Training is going OK - need to get the miles up on the bike and run. I'm pretty much there with the swim.

Been thinking about the other parts of the challenge and have come up with part of the drinking challenge.......which will be 5 x 500 ml bottles of pickle juice. I hate the stuff, but it's good for you! After the tri I should be able to get 2 of them down without too much difficulty. They have to be very cold though. The other 3 will be the challenge and will be spread through the rest of the day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The mower is dead. Well and truly dead. Maybe hubby can resurrect it when he gets back from Colorado. So the lawn, which is now about 18 inches high, has to be strimmed (for the Brits) or weed wacked (for the Americans). I'll do it bit by bit.

This week is a recovery week in the training schedule, which in practice means loads of workouts at a level of about as much as I can do. LOL. Plus I started back at ATA last night with sparring and combat weapons. It is unbelievable how hard a 2-minute round of sparring is. Anyway despite being tired and sore I headed for the pool tonight after work only to was closed. The sign said "Closed due to high chemical content". Whenever I see the word chemical I think of my stepmother - she is a chemist. Her pet peeve is the way people use the word chemical like it is something evil. Everything is made of chemicals. So with regard to the pool sign I wanted to say "What, you mean the pool is too full of water"? But I suppose it was chlorine or whatever. So fate had dealt its hand. I thought "I hurt and need to rest, and here's the break I need without feeling guilty". (I thought about swimming in the lake but as I'm on my own and am really tired I thought it might be foolish"). So I'm writing this drinking a beer instead! Only one though as I have a run in the morning before work and I'll do the swim tomorrow, provided the pool isn't full of chemicals. Sorry Norma!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Full weekend

Have done 4 workouts (2 bike, 1 run, 1 swim) this weekend. Need to mow the lawn tonight and that will probably kill me as it is a foot high after our vacation and all the rain while we were gone. Andrew did 3/4 of it before he left, but you can only go 12ft before the box is full of clippings and the mower, which is old and knackered, clogs up.

New top speed on the bike 31mph :-0

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Disney was great

Back from Disneyworld. A good time was had by all. I swam in the sea twice. Quite hard in the waves. Another 3 seconds has come off the 100yds time (at the first pool workout after getting home). Overall fitness has suffered and weight has gone up but my technique is improving. No more work trips now until Burnet TriHard in Sept. Going to work on the bike while Andrew and Phoebe are in Colorado.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Knocked about 10 seconds off my 100 yds time for freestyle. So now I'm just very slow, as opposed to an Ohio River coal barge slow :)

I also got a good workout herding kids at a swim meet in Marble Falls. Phoebe swims with the Lago Vista Tidal Waves!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bike training

Biking terrifies me. I got up to 27 mph this morning - it felt more like 90! But then again I thought that about 17 mph back in 2005 when I first borrowed Andrew's road bike. Still I have a plan and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A training window

A small window has opened up between foreign trips and the family vacation. So it is back on the bike and into the pool. I'd say I'm on target so far. No point overdoing it. And I worked on the sleep deprivation, endurance and functioning whilst eating/drinking unusual fare while I was away. The half ironman isn't the only part of the Birthday Challenge - let's not forget that.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Break in the Training (yet another)

I'm going to Amsterdam tomorrow until Friday for a conference. I'll do my best to do something constructive training wise and not eat/drink too much. But I hear temptations are rife. Never been before - it looks a great city, and I'm staying in the heart of it at a fancy hotel. At the very least I need to visit a coffee shop.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Official training schedule

The official half iron training schedule has been printed out. It's a 20 week program which I joined halfway through week 20 (they count down), and it is ready for modification and excuses already. Like they say ride an easy 60 mins. I am doing 10 mins at a time on the trainer in the garage to get my butt used to the very sharp saddle. I survived 49 mins of it at Danskin a couple years back so I know it can be done. But right now I am sore. Ran 2 miles to test the ankle out. So far so good.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Training has begun

Mexico and Kentucky trips are done. Despite the fact that I still have a dodgy ankle I have started my training. Today I had a swimming lesson from Coach Andrew. I discoverd that I had been swimming a duff freestyle for 45 years. No wonder I have always preferred breaststroke. So now I have drills to do to make me more like a fish. But the bike will be worse. So the half ironman is actually going to be quite a challenge. I have set a time goal of around 7 hours - it sounds doable on paper but we'll see how the training goes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Planning my training

The thing I will need to work on most is the bike. But realistically I won't be able to do many sessions per week. So I will probably arrive on the start line undertrained, which has been my MO for the last few years anyway.

If there is alcohol in the drinking challenge then I will also have to practice a bit as I hardly drink at all these days. Now that sounds better.

Everything is on hold until after May in any case due to work and other things.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The blogspot is created

So this year is the big 50.

To celebrate I have decided to do a birthday challenge. I have witnessed Greg Carter's hulahooping, ramen-noodle eating, climbing etc extravaganzas from the comfort of a poolside chair for the last several years. So now it is my turn.

The theme will be "I might be an old fart but I'm only halfway", because I think it would be cool to live to 100 and I want my telegram from the Queen (although it probably won't be from ERII - who knows if we'll even have a monarchy by then). But I digress.

The first step is to create a blog so that a formal commitment is made. So here it is. The next is to plan the event.

I have had in mind to do this birtday challenge for a while so when Andrew told me he wanted to do the Longhorn Half Ironman and I found out it was on my 50th birthday (Sunday 17th Oct) it was an obvious step to just make the event part of the birthday challenge and do the race with him. A Half Ironman is just half way, and 50 is halfway to 100. Hence my theme.

Other things on the challenge might include rock climbs (I can bail at half height right?!) some Taekwondo (I just do half the total form anyway), playing a tune or two on the violin…... and then there are the eating and drinking challenges (don’t know what those will be yet, but almost certainly potato chips will be part of it (50 packets??? maybe not).

And of course there will be a party, so watch this space.