Archive for July, 2008

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Gaining Momentum

July 31, 2008

Quakerman 2008 Kid’s Race. Luc is the second in from the left of the girl in the red shirt. I am the one in the water. Obviously!

First order of today’s business: Kerri W was hit by a car in Colorado yesterday, Kerri you are in my prayers and I am wishing you a speedy recovery!

Hip Hip Hooray! Or as they say in Texas….. Yeee-Haw!!!!

Slowly but surely the head is getting better. During some intervals this week each time I hit a certain power level my head began to hurt. Nonetheless I have gotten in some good solid training. I should be cleared to road ride on Sunday, however I may not be cleared to race at the Summer Sizzler.

Which bumms me out because I looked and looked and the next race is the Finger Lakes Triathlon at the end of September (That I can get to) Silver lining: I will jump into some 5K’s and enjoy training with some speed….. hopefully beginning next week!

Let’s not tell the doctor I have been out on the mountain bike. On a flat crushed stone trail (come on!!!) That can remain our little secret. Okay? Good.

Every day Texas is getting better and better. Kevin, also known as the Wev has found us a house near the good stuff in Austin, and far enough from the bars…, although you’d better believe that on Sunday night post race I will be on a mechanical bull. With a seat belt. And a Helmet. And bubble wrap wrapped around me!

And we’ve potentially got another cowboy on board. Ken from the Stud lane is looking for a fall 1/2 Ironman to do and needs just a little more convincing….. come on…. come to Texas with 2 people you know and 3 people you don’t! Hey fly with us, at least you are not flying with me before I overcame my fear of flying…… back then you’d have nail marks up and down your arm (just ask Curt).

There are a few things you might want to know when traveling with Cow Girl Mary. Just a few.

1. I often wear the same clothes for days in a row. Just ask Ashely and Marit how many days I wore my red board shorts in Florida. With luggage fees these days you can guarantee this!

2. I can live with or without the Internet. Believe it or not.

3. I can assemble my bike and yours. No problem.

4. I get up early. But I won’t make you get up. You may find me on the front steps or balcony waiting for the day to unveil. What can I say every day is like Christmas when traveling!

5. I tend not to brush my hair on vacation. Yes, I only consider it a vacation when I am racing.

6. I can go with or without the shower. Don’t care. You might.

7. I am in charge of coffee. Period.

8. I don’t care where we eat out but please take me somewhere specific to the area. I don’t’ want to go to Applebees…… when in Florida I go to Dirty Dicks…. when in Texas I want to eat whatever Cow Boys eat and wherever they eat it.

9. I can sleep anywhere. Couch, middle of the road, in your bed. I don’t’ snore and I don’t care if you do. You can set off a nuclear bomb next to me or lay your feet on me and I won’t wake up. Call that a special talent of being a nurse.

10. The afternoon before a race I east spaghetti and meatballs. Every time.

The only 2 real requirements that I have aside from racing my heart out is that I need 2 bona fide cowboy hats. One for me and one for Kari M. And of course the mechanical bull.

So just when Western New York is hunkering down and gearing up for fall….. just when the leaves are continuing to turn the beautiful colors that they turn….. just when the triathlon season comes to a close…..

This Clan has out salt licks ready and we’ve got lots of excitement. This Cow Clan is taking on Texas and we will be ready. Turn up the furnace or really treat us and turn up the Texas chill. No matter what it brings to us we’ve got one thing that’s damn unbeatable…..

We’ve got each other and we’ve got mojo. With that combination….LOOK OUT AUSTIN! And wait till you see the cool house we rented!!! Near coffee, Austin and most importantly Lance’s Bike Shop!

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Look on the bright side……

July 31, 2008

Ashley and I the morning of Gulf Coast 2008. Photographer…. Marit!

Routinely I am asked how it is possible that I am so positive. People lurk and wait….. there’s gotta be a day when she’s down, or that positivity must be medically induced. No one is that positive. No one.

Well I am.

How is it possible? Is it medically induced? Am I just showing one side of myself and carefully censoring the bad days?

Nope, nah, nada, sorry to disappoint.

Censor the bad days? Have you not heard I didn’t finish IMLP? That was a pretty darn bad day. Yet…. oh no positive spin….. it still wasn’t the worst day of my life.

I spent much of my childhood being pretty sad. In particular ages 10-20 when I battled Bulimia. I remember those years as being dark, horrible and sad. You couldn’t pay me to return to that life.

I remember as I embarked on my recovery….. in the hospital….. I remember making the choice to be happy. To instead look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Does it always work? Well eventually. I might react and then have to take a few steps back…… because if there is one thing I have learned in this life I have learned that no matter what…. there is always a silver lining.

When I got married and became a mother I set some basic rules for myself….. I would live in a house without screaming (I grew up in that house), I would always show my son the positive rather than the negative…. and that I would be his example.

We all know those people who are incessantly negative. They drag you down. In my world if I ave nothing positive to say then I will remain silent. Most of the time ;-).

Do I have the recipe nailed? No. Am I perfect? I just choked on my coffee.

I am not striving to be perfect. I am striving to be positive. There’s so much in life, the big picture that we can look to when things are not going right. There’s always the silver lining…. if you take the time to look hard enough.

And whatever hardship I happen to be facing….. in someone else’s world they are facing something so much worse.

So give it a try, just for a day. If you find yourself staring down the glass of the half empty look to the sky. That silver lining is there. Look hard for it. And if you are patient enough you just might even see the rainbow behind it.
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Back to the Start

July 29, 2008

Hamburg, Germany ITU Professional Race… World’s 2007

If you’d have asked me 2 weeks ago what I would be doing the second week of my Ironman recovery I would not have told you than I got a good long run in, a great swim and on deck is a sweet spot bike ride…. I would most likely have told you I would have been sitting by the pool with my feet up.

Not so much!

In some ways I am waiting for the sting of the CNF / DNF to hit me. The more time passes…. the longer it doesn’t. I am still waiting. Perhaps it is that I have had my tears and it’s time to move on.

I am good at moving on. In most things I am.

Maybe it is just that in the grand scheme of things I have been through worse things.

Maybe it is just lurking around the corner.

As it is still summertime I am still taking some downtime, as this little head injury has not at all healed yet. There is still a lot of pain and some vision changes. I know this can last a long time and I just have to wait it out. I am learning to sit on the couch and sitting on the side edge of the pool while Luc swims his little heart out.

And every day I dream of Texas.

This morning it was back to Masters and back to outdoor long course. I had to take it easy but I tell you this…. I swam a bit with a helmet! No joke! Grimm brought me his kayak helmet and we did get pictures…. with a camera that had film. Who uses film? Not to worry the photographer Rauni, promised to have them developed quickly.

It was actually quite a buoyant helmet and not uncomfortable. Flip turns were a little weird, and there was not enough coverage in the back of the head, but hey it is a start!

And sometimes that’s just where we need to begin, at the start. New goals, new workouts, new ideas. A season that goes past September and allows me to run in the fall….. I love to run in the fall.

So as we continue to work from the start I am relishing in the feeling of having an extended season doing what I love to do!
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The Cause of Death in Recent Triathlons

July 29, 2008

My friend Karen Wilson is a talented physician at The University of Rochester, and she’s also an avid triathlete. She sent me the link to this really interesting article from the NY times:

Recent Triathlon Deaths Have Experts Searching for Answers

The most interesting point she made was this:

I don’t think they autopsy the brain routinely, and sudden head trauma may not show up that quickly anyway. It doesn’t even appear that CHI is a consideration

Now does this mean that everyone who dies in a triathlon has been hit in the head? No. But say I was killed at Ironman Lake Placid. The most likely place a medical examiner would have looked to would have been my heart.

I could have very simply been knocked out, and with 2000+ people swimming over me, well you know the rest.

Plus think about this…… feel the back of your head…. that big lump right in the back. Now move your hand down your neck to where you feel that second bump, that vertebrae at the top of your back. That’s unprotected area.

We’ve heard of the lacrosse player around here who was hit right there with a ball and died. And the softball player who took a hit there and died. It’s a rarity, and it takes the perfect hit, but get wailed there and you are done.

So there letter has been written and has been sent to various people. When a swimmer complains about a swim people tend to listen. Listening is all I want. Will there be change? I don’t know. But as you take a look at the profiles of the people who have unfortunately died in a triathlon, they are not people who should have problems with their heart. As Karen pointed out, a head injury isn’t going to manifest quickly enough for an autopsy.

Are we overlooking something? Are we overlooking the head?

While my accident is certainly a combination of being in the right place at the right time for three separate blows to the head (if I could only be in the right place and the right time for the lotto), it doesn’t discount that another cause of death could be completely overlooked.

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On Strength Training

July 28, 2008

Before we begin….. CNF= Could Not Finish…. which Missy so graciously pointed out! And…. stay tuned…. Dawn from Splish is designing a cool Texan suit for me, as soon as I have the design I will let you know! I told her any color, anything…. just make it Texas…. with Eggers on the butt of course! How else will I meet my creepy Internet friends????

As training for Austin has begun I have happily returned to some strength training. There is a lot of debate amongst coaches and those who consider themselves to be professionals in the exercise science fields, as to whether strength training hinders or helps multisport athlete. While I am in agreement that to become a faster swimmer, biker or runner you need to swim bike and run, I do believe that strength training has its place in our programs.

In recent years I have stayed out of the weight room because it is very easy for me to bulk up. With my anatomy I would likely have been a better bodybuilder than triathlete, so the actual weights are something I tend to stay away from.

Yoga has been my mainstay for a few years now, and if you don’t think yoga involves great strength…. come on over to Breathe and we’ll just see about that. In addition to yoga one of the best purchases I made was the Vasa Trainer. In college I spend many many hours on this awesome piece of equipment and there is so much more that you can do than just work your swimming form. You can do just about anything on this machine, which enables me to use cords and my own body weight to build strength.
I also am a huge fan of surgical tubing, stretch cords and stability balls. Functional Strength Training is a term that’s become increasingly popular over the past few years and is essentially what I am a fan of. I took a seminar with Chuck Wolf a few years ago and his approach caused me to absolutley fall in love with this mode of training.
There’s research to support FST and there’s research to knock FST. There’s research to support strength training and flexibility and research to debunk it.

I personally believe that a stronger muscle is a more durable muscle. I believe that it is essential to strength train especially after the age of 40 when it is believed that you begin or continue to lose muscle mass each year (depending on what you read).

I like to make it simple… if you have the time a few sessions of strength training per week can’t hurt you. If you are trading swim / bike / run workouts for a 60 minute stability ball session then I’d raise an eyebrow. As long as it is additional in my program, I do it about 6 times a week.

For me a typical session is a mixed bag and is never the same. I find 20-30 minutes, which during the day is easier to find than one might think. I see what I am in the mood for and either break out the cords, ball or hop on the Vasa. I hit the major muscle groups, I hit my core and then I call it a day.

I don’t’ do muscle groups A on day one, B on day two and C on day three. That’s how body builders train. I like to hit the whole body, allow the muscles to work in tandem because essentially that’s how the body functions.

I don’t ever only just use my biceps. I don’t ever only just use my shoulders. Everything operates together and that’s why I love FST.

I have some athletes who hate FST, they feel their best work is done with free weights or on machines. I have them do what they like to do (imagine that!) and what they can get done quickly and without interference.

I think the best mode of strength training is the one that doesn’t detract from your normal swim / bike / run grind, and is something that is easy to remember, that you enjoy doing and that is fun.

So if strength training is something that is important to you, take the time to figure out which mode fits you and what you are looking for. Keep it, fun and keep it simple!

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10 Weeks

July 27, 2008
There are ten weeks until Texas and I’ve got week one in hand. I feel excited again, like I have something brand new to chew on for a bit. This week’s nothing too special, a lot of frequency and the return of my beloved sweet spot trainer rides, a long run and a long bike… but nothing lone like I have been doing forever.

It feels great to have a new focus. A shorter faster focus. It feels fresh.

I keep expecting the pain of the CNF to hit me. It still hasn’t. Maybe it won’t. Right now I really feel like I have been there and done that with Ironman. It’s definitely time for a break.

Suddenly the season I thought would be over by now is in a way just beginning. The trip is coming together quicker and cooler than expected. Five of my awesome athletes will be traveling with me. And they are as excited as I am.

Don’t tell my doctor but I rode outside last evening. On the mountain bike, on a flat trail. It’s strange when you have an injury that prevents you from road riding not because you physically can’t, but because of the possibility of something happening.

As careful as I can be I can’t say that someone else will be just as careful. I have been promised road riding by Saturday on my Cervelo, that makes me really happy. Perhaps being grounded from the bike is then short lived. Hooray!

Until then I am dreaming about Austin and enjoying the new life that is being breathed into my season. On August 9th I get to race a sprint triathlon…. and I can’t wait to test the snap that I hope to have!

So here we go, rather than the end….. we have a beginning. Now I just need to design the perfect suit!

Here is what I have so far, but remember I have a brain injury so my creativity is imparied…….

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Texas or Bust!

July 25, 2008

I am headed to Texas this October. It’s official. I am officially registered for Texas Longhorn 70.3. I told my coach I had three goals:

1. Sub 5

2. Qualify for Clearwater 2009 (I did this race in 06 and vowed I’d never go back, but I have a head injury…. what do I know???)

3. Ride a mechanical bull.
Coach assured me that I would have trouble with only one of those goals. You can imagine which.

So Train-This is headed to Texas and I couldn’t be more psyched. It’s going to be one interesting weekend. As long as hole doesn’t blow into the belly of our plane.

There’s much work to be done between now and then. Monday is the new start date for all of it too. The greatest thing about last weekend is that I did not forge ahead and I did get pulled off the course. Because I have legs fresher than even the winner of Lake Placid 2008. And now I’ve got a whole rest of my season that I didn’t expect to have.

I’ve been focusing on 140.6 for so long I haven’t had the opportunity to work on my 70.3 issues. You see it was a long time before I slipped up and started heading above 5 hours. Then I had all sorts of issues and I kept landing back where I didn’t belong. If that sounds cocky I don’t intend it too….. it’s just the truth about me. We’ve all got that time we belong at….. and I know where mine is.

I am anxious to go fast. I’ve never said that before…. and I’d better be careful of what I admit!

I’ve selected a plethora of races, some good running races to get me back into the running swing. There’s no more 6 hour rides…. there’s no more 2:30 runs….. hip hip HORRAY!

So the Ironman and I had a nasty little breakup. He kept asking me if I thought he was fat and I got tired of it, if you really want to know the truth! I mean come on!

As of today, which I am led to believe is Saturday, the pain has decreased even more. I attended the Friday night lake swim and my friend Dave Soule (who did a 10:40 last week!!!!!) gave me his motorcycle helmet to swim in. Even in the lake I was worried about getting hit. I am giving a swim clinic in Sept. at this lake and I will be speaking a lot about etiquette and swimming straight!!!!!

I thought I would be emotionally broken after an Ironman DNF. I really did. Now it could be that I will have a delayed reaction and break down next week…. but today it’s just fine. Monday I cried and by Tuesday I felt really grateful. Had I not stopped I would have finished that race, slower than I was ready to and I would have trashed myself for any remaining season.

I am so grateful to the man who stopped me. I had actually passed the aid station and stopped at the hockey net where we throw old water bottles. So this guy had to run over to me and I was about to clip back in.

Whew. I got lucky.

So as we prepare for Texas there is a flood of excitement coming our way. I have a whole new schedule of races….. check it out here….. and I am really excited. I am most excited about one thing…. going fast. I know I can go long, it’s been a while since I went fast.

So bring it on Coach T! And I promise not to ride the bull until after the race, and with a helmet!