Review: A Week of Firsts

• first duathlon
• first ride in the rain (downpour during said duathlon)
• 5k PR during first leg of duathlon
• first 50 mile ride
• highest mileage week on my bike (so far)
• highest mileage month on my bike (so far)

This week I logged 93.4 bike miles and will have logged over 27 miles on-foot after tomorrow's planned 4 mile easy run. Yesterday I ran an easy half-marathon distance training run...last long run before the Riverbank Run 25k a week from tomorrow. Today I "recovered" by biking for 50.3 miles--my first 50 mile ride.

It was a really nice ride. I rode the first nearly 24 miles with 4 JDRF team members, then turned around and headed back to my car...with a bit of noodling to hit the magic 50 mile marker. The other riders rode a full century...and really tried to talk me into it. I probably could have been persuaded, were I not staring down a goal race in 8 days. A race that I am hoping to PR. Perhaps next month will see my first century ride. I'm not impatient...I know I'll do at least one in 2010.

Tuesday night I rode nearly 25 miles with a local women's cycling group. That was really nice, too. After the ride we headed to a bar & grill for pizza and beer. Great way to finish a great ride. I immediately felt right at home with the 5 other women who attended the ride (4 of whom met at the bar afterwards). I'm really looking forward to making that ride a regular Tues. night event.


Second Act: Steelcase Grand Duathlon, The Race Report

Previous "episode" of the race report can be viewed HERE
A picture tells a thousand words...and this one tells the story of a woman who is a consistent and strong runner (note, still not fast, but I move pretty well for someone carrying an extra 20#s), relative to her cycling...for now.

I placed 100/126 overall and 27/42 women. Really, 27/42 isn't too shabby for a first try, I don't think. And there are many things I can do to improve for next year, both for the running legs and the bike leg. I can't wait to see what I am able to do next year--especially if we don't have monsoon conditions during the bike leg.

Tonite I'm going to meet with a women's cycling group. I wasn't sure when I talked to the organizer last week if I would feel recovered enough to join them tonite, but my legs feel fabulous. The right knee crankiness from yesterday is gone and I have very little in the way of DOMS. I am looking forward to getting in on some group rides, rather than always pedaling alone.


My patience has run out.

So I am writing an incomplete race report, since official stats are not yet posted on the race management website. I'll post the complete dirt once I have all the #s. (see subsequent entry for the #s)

My duathlon went better than expected. I made only minor noobie mistakes (slow transitions, though partly due to weather and needing to add clothing during the first transition, but also due to my plan to be methodical in the transitions and not forget anything important, like donning my helmet for the bike leg, which is an automatic disqualifying offense. Just as I suspected I would, I forgot to remove said helmet after 2nd transition from bike back to run, so after a few yards dumped it in the grass next to the course--I don't think anyone caught that moronic move on camera...phew!). Also had the time of my life and definitely consider the sprint duathlon my favorite event...it even trumps the half marathon, now!

We arrived at the race site with nearly 2 hours before the scheduled start to check-in, get my ankle band with the timing chip, my # bib, commemorative technical shirt (which was not listed on the site as a tech T until recently, so I ordered med., but wish I had ordered small...the med. is huge!), and set-up my bike, helmet, shoes and other items in the transition area.

Time passed pretty quickly, but it was nice to leisurely use the indoor bathrooms at the race site a couple of times, ingest a packet of sport beans, figure out the transition area and its exits and entry, and be relieved that it wasn't raining. The race announcer told us 2x that the weather forecast was for the rain to hold off until an hour or two after I would likely be finished. I highlight this previous sentence because it is important in the grand scheme of things.

The race started a couple of minutes early...that was kind of nice. This doesn't really happen during road races and there is nothing worse than standing at the starting line for an extra 5 minutes when runners are ready to GO! It was also a little chilly and breezy at the start (hubby says he saw an actual air temperature reading of 48) and I was wearing only a tank-top, so my arms were getting cold. I decided to have my cycling gloves on for the first 5k, which was a good plan--it saved me from having to take time in transition to put them on and they kept my hands a bit warmer.

First 5k felt good. At first I kept looking at my Garmin during the first couple of minutes of the race and it was showing 9:58, then 9:59...wha?! I know I'm running faster than that! Duh, I had it set on a different screen from what I run with 99% of the time. I was looking at the time of day, not my lap pace. My lap pace was actually about 8:15 at this point.

I maintained a challenging, but not painful pace for the duration of the leg, since I didn't want to burn out before I even hit the 2nd leg on the bike. When I finished I was pretty sure I'd hit a personal record time for the distance (I did, and under far less effort than my last race of this distance), but couldn't recall exactly what my 5k PR was--I don't generally like the distance and have not run one in almost 2 years. The last time I ran one it was 99% humidity and warm, just before a late-May storm. It was asthmatic hell.

My finish time for the first 5k was almost 27 minutes flat, according to my Garmin (and this was without a chipped start). A 15 second/mile increase in speed...about 45 seconds faster, overall.

My first transition was the slowest in my age group, if I recall what I saw on the results sheet (I took a couple of blurry cell phone photos of the results, but missed a column or two of info. and they are really difficult to read--hence my eagerness to see the official results with full details online). I didn't rush things. The last thing I wanted to do was to look back and regret screwing up a transition and potentially making for a less-than-successful race leg. I knew I wanted to put on long-sleeves. Since it wasn't raining I chose a snug cycling top (as seen in the photo above), rather than my wind/water-resistant zip-front jacket. I changed shoes, donned my helmet, made sure my Garmin was reset for cycling, trotted my bike over the timing pad at the cycling start line, clipped-in, and was off.

The first few miles went very well. I felt strong and comfortable and enjoyed the literal change of pace. The turns into the wind really sucked, but I knew that eventually I would have the wind at my back, so I didn't push. I still had a long way to go.

After maybe 4 miles it started to drizzle. That lasted for a couple of minutes...and then it started to RAIN. And it continued in this vein for at least the next hour. Suddenly the wind was the least of my concerns and I was regretting choosing the long-sleeve cycling top over the jacket.

The remainder of my ride was pretty challenging. One out-and-back stretch took us headlong into that wind and rain. My pace REALLY dropped here. And I was OK with that. I knew that today was not the time to feel enslaved by any sort of time/pace goals, as I had never before ridden a road bike with slick tires in the rain--much less during a race. I took corners VERY conservatively. Perhaps too conservatively, but I figured I would still finish faster upright than I would if I had a bad crash. Besides, this race is an automatic PR until next year, so I wasn't feeling too pressured. Plus I was still passing more people than passed me, so that had me feeling pretty confident as a newbie cyclist.

The last few miles had me wanting to just be done. I wasn't miserable, per se, but I wasn't really having "fun" by this point in the race. I wanted to be out of the worst of the wind and rain.

I took it easy for the last mile or so, heeding advice of experienced multi-sport friends to spin more gently and let my legs recover for the last run. I was glad I did this. My transition went well and was faster than the first by about a minute, I think (mostly because I didn't try to take off any soaked clothing that had adhered to my skin from the 2nd leg, just changed back to my running shoes--which were now actually filled with standing water in the plastic heel cups of my Superfeet insoles--and reset my Garmin back to running mode). Though, like a dork, I still forgot the helmet thing...which didn't cost me any time, but did make me look like the noob I am, I'm certain.

My last 5k running leg went surprisingly well. My legs didn't feel too rubbery after a minute or two, though the bottoms of my feet felt sort of beat-up for maybe the first half mile. I have no idea why that was, other than maybe from putting cold, wet, heavy shoes on.

This leg was officially my 3rd fastest 5k time ever, which proves that cycling has not hurt my running and has perhaps even made me a stronger runner for the shorter distances. I'm sure this leg would have been even faster (as it was I was only 7 seconds/mile slower on this leg than on my 2nd fastest 5k race) had I not been dragging a minimum of 5#s of water on my body. One of my regrets for wearing the cycling top vs. the jacket was that I couldn't easily take the top off, since it was stuck to my skin and didn't have a full zip front, as my jacket does. I would have been more comfortable back in just the tank-top for the run--and weighed less, too. I had planned in advance to remove the capri-length tights that I wore over my tri shorts after the first 2 legs, but there was also no way that those were going to come off without a fight, so I left them on.

Overall the race was a really awesome experience that I can't wait to repeat next year, except with better weather. Kinda stinks that we have had an unseasonably warm and sunny Spring, only to have race day be such a wash-out...literally in some spots (there were areas on the 5k run course that had orange cones surrounding massive puddles in the middle of the road by the last run leg). Today--gorgeous and sunny (though still pretty windy). I think I anticipated my abilities pretty well going in. I had guessed that I would finish around 2:05-2:10 and was only about 4 minutes slower than that. 4 minutes that would have been absorbed by a day with less wind and rain, especially for the bike portion. I was easily 1-2mph slower than I had expected to be. 1mph faster would have taken almost 5 minutes off of my time.

Now I have a 2:14:04 race PR that should be no trouble demolishing next year, especially if I drop even 10#s (for a faster run) and have better race day conditions (faster bike). I feel like my training prepared me very well for this event and doubt that I would do much different next year, in terms of preparation.

Du, or du not...there is no tri. To be continued...


Mustering-up all the HTFU I can muster.

Tomorrow's duathlon day forecast:
Sunday: Rain. Steady temperature around 54. Breezy, with a east northeast wind between 17 and 22 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Seriously, I can't have this first race be under mild conditions (like the entire rest of this Spring has been, instead of a complete 180 of the season-long trend)? I could tolerate wind or rain or cold...but ALL 3?! I don't think I've ever even had to do any running in races in the rain after dozens of races in 4 years. But a running race would be no biggie under those conditions. Yeah, it would be kinda crummy, but without having to deal with transitions or relatively fast speeds it would be tolerable. I've never ridden in the rain and am not liking the thought of trying it for the first time during a race..."nothing new on race day." That should include decreased braking performance and increased slipperiness around corners (of which there are several on the out-and-bake bike course).

I'm really at a conundrum re: how to dress and what to have in transition (in a plastic bag to stay dry). Those conditions are really borderline for requiring long-sleeves on the runs. I'm almost certainly going to want to don my wind/rain-resistant jacket for the ride, though. Right now I'm planning on the following "wardrobe":
• 5k run #1 - lightweight baselayer top (long-sleeve), short-sleeve cycling top, tri shorts, capri tights over shorts, race belt with # bib attached (easy to have my # on top of outermost layer)
• 30k bike - same as run + windbreaker jacket
• 5k run #2 - remove jacket, cycling jersey, and possibly capri tights
Perhaps the thing I am dreading most is putting my wet running shoes on for the second run leg...gross. I hate wet, clammy shoes. My BlisterShield sock powder is going to pay for itself tomorrow, methinks.

Right now I'm looking forward to having this goal behind me and looking ahead to my 25k race in 2 weeks. I'm also looking forward to warm, dry clothes after the race and a ride home in a car with the heat cranked.

On the bright side, no matter how pokey my time tomorrow, it will be a PR and likely one that I will easily beat next time around.


Heading into the home stretch

Everything is going right. You are prepared This is fun and challenging. You are a winner!
This is what it says at the bottom of the "Last-Minute Checks" section in the Race Day Checklist section of my Training Plans for Multisport Athletes book (which, BTW, I highly recommend).

This gave me a chuckle, but it also helps to put things in perspective. Since this is my first ever duathlon (and first multisport race of any sort) I need to approach it like I have every previous "first." It's an automatic PR. No matter how long it takes me to cross the finish line, I will be able to claim the status "duathlete," just as I can 5ker, 10ker, 15ker, 25ker, half-marathoner, marathoner, and trail racer. None of those events have left me never wanting to try it again after the first go (though after 3 marathons I am pretty confident that I won't ever want to endure that ever again...and I'm content with that).

6 days 'til "D-day." My biggest worry right now is rain. Running in the rain is fun...biking in the rain can be sorta dangerous (braking ability is decreased and roads can be a bit slick). Forecasts are for "chance of rain." Hopefully that holds-off until later. Looks like temps could be in the low-to-mid 50s during the race, which isn't bad. A little chilly for the bike portion, but fabulous for the running legs.

I've pretty much settled on what I will wear, too. That tank at left is really a "running" top, but those pockets on the back are perfect for biking, too. I may have to pick up another one at some point (especially since the Champion/C9 tanks that I've loved for running seem to no longer be carried at Target). The one I have is sort of a light orange color (to match the handlebar tape on my bike, of course). I will probably wear my butterfly arm warmers for the first run and bike portions and then strip them off for the last running leg. On my booty I'll be sporting a pair of Pearl Izumi tri shorts.

This week is taper...I don't mind so much. Last week was still pretty challenging, capped-off with a true 3 leg brick workout...a 2 mile run, followed by an hour on the bike, with a 3 mile run to finish...last 2 miles at race pace. I was sorta dreading it, but it went well. I feel pretty ready for race day, which is the point of the last 10 weeks of training.


Longish-Term Plans

A little over 4 years ago I started running...with the primary intent to use it as a means to drop my last 10 or so pounds. Well, now I sit here with an added 10 on top of the original. NOT the plan. I have found the hard way that running only works for weight loss for those who do not find a great increase in appetite. Some people are lucky and find that running actually decreases their appetite. I am not one of the fortunate few.

I have the opposite problem. Running turns me into a ravenous eating machine. I don't know if it sets-off reactive hypoglycemic symptoms, or what. Though I am suspicious that much of my issue is related to the increased need for carbs to support aerobic endurance workouts. On a few occasions I have experimented with reducing my net carb intake, since a low-carb diet was how I originally dropped 60#s (and regained 20 when I got lax about my eating and started eating overly-processed crap, again). This did not end well. I can remember one particular 4-5 mile run that left me walking slowly for the last mile. I bonked. Hard. I hit the wall that many marathoners hit. The wall is all about glycogen depletion. One does not have to run beyond the 20 mile marker to experience this. Cutting back the carbs can bring on the wall MUCH earlier. It's a strange sensation and not one I have actually experienced during a marathon. In those cases what stopped me in my tracks were killer calf cramps.

So, I'm obviously a slow-learner. But I still want to be at my goal weight. Instead of struggling with this BMI that is just over 25 (technically overweight), I want to get down 20#s to 125 and a BMI of about 22--right smack dab in the middle of "healthy" for my height and build.

The solution...cut back on the running and the carbs to support it, and re-implement weight training and a lower-carb, higher protein diet (probably something on the order of South Beach. Lower glycemic carbohydrate sources). More muscle mass will increase my metabolism and not require nearly the level of carbohydrates. I'm also going to increase the cycling as the Summer goes on. I feel like I do better on the bike when a little hungry, especially since I'm not doing a ton of performance-oriented workouts, but more slower endurance stuff.

I won't really be able to get moving on this plan until early July, since I am already committed to a 25k in early May and a trail relay in Mid-June (ie I still need to do a lot of running in the next couple of months for those events). In late June we're going out-of-state for DH's class reunion, so I'm targeting July 1 as the start date for my new fitness/diet plan.

Right now I'm tentatively planning to run 15-20 miles/week until school starts back up in Sept. and I start training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon. I'll probably do that with 3 runs...perhaps 4, 6, and 8 miles. On the bike I'll likely target something in the range of 80-100 miles/week over the course of 3 rides. For the weight-training I will plan to do 2 45-60 minute upper-body (running and biking take care of the rest) Cathe Friedrich workouts incorporating free weights and core work. I just pray it's not a miserably hot Summer, as we don't have central air and doing weight workouts indoors can be ghastly when it's like an oven in the living room.

Since my metabolism seems to adapt quickly to repetition, I'm hoping that throwing variety at it will kick it into gear, too. I'm also going to have my PCP check my thyroid function again, as well. I last had it checked 2-3 years ago and all that was measured was the general TSH levels, which can appear normal (and mine were bordering on low even then, from what a few knowledgeable people suggested to me), even if free t3 and t4 levels are low. I'm suspicious about the possibility of being hypo, since I have more than a few symptoms and risk factors, like a pre-existing auto-immune disorder and family members who are treated for the disorder.

I'm just hoping that I can find something to get this weight off for good. I am pretty good at maintaining, but am truly starting to feel like this is a hopeless battle. I am currently the thinnest woman in my family. Obesity runs rampant. I feel like my weight has ruled my very existence since adulthood. By about age 19 I really started to struggle. And the weight slows me down. It's frustrating to know that there are people who train erratically and a fraction as much as I do, but have consistently faster PRs.

I know the competition should really be only with myself, but I know I could do so much better if I weren't hauling an additional 20#s around. The general rule of thumb on weight is that all other things being equal, a person can expect to run 3 seconds faster/mile for every pound lost. That's a full minute/mile for me. That's 13 minutes off of a half-marathon performance. That would put me WELL under 2 hours, since I am already just barely over that mark.

I can't make my asthma just go away. The pounds should be something I can control. Should. Even on a bad asthma day I'd like to be able to finish closer to the front of the pack, instead of straggling at the back of the mid-pack


Good News is GOOD NEWS!

Woot, the hubby's removed lymph node was free of cancer, so that spot on his arm had not yet sent its evil further into his body! Tomorrow we will celebrate with a little bike ride (I'm doing just an hour, then a 4 mile run as part of a brick workout) after he works a half day. Tonite we are celebrating with pizza...and beer (duh!).

Keep slathering on the sunblock, friends. Your skin is your largest organ and your first defense against a harsh world. Cancer doesn't always care how active we are or how healthy we eat and when it comes to sun exposure it's often those of us with the healthiest habits who are at greatest risk. Pasty is healthy and it's nice to get to a certain age when most of your peers start wrinkling. I'm determined to still get carded well into my 40s.



That's what nearly 29 miles with some rolling hills thrown in for "fun" are on a flawlessly sunny 70º day in April. Today Oby the wonder-bike and I joined the JDRF team for a training ride. This was our first group outing. Prior to this I had never rode with more than 2 other people. It was fun! I didn't ride as socially as I might have if I didn't have that duathlon looming (IN TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY...ack!). I pushed myself just enough to hover at the higher end of comfort. I'd say 6-7 on a 10 point scale. Just enough where recoveries from hills weren't too bad, but I didn't take it super easy, either. I think I only popped down onto the granny ring on my triple crank on one LONG hill.

Today I had no trouble keeping a 20+mph pace for a couple of consecutive miles with lots of 15-17mph miles (I swear those smoother roads helped. Our chip-sealed roads right around here really seem to suck the pace). My overall pace was about 15.5mph, at least for the last 24 or so miles of the ride. I forgot to start my Garmin for the first few...duh. I don't feel like it's going to be all that out of the question for me to hit that 30k (18.6mi.) bike leg of the race in around an hour. Of course, that will all depend upon how shot I feel after that first 5k run. If I run that conservatively I have high hopes for the bike leg. Right now I'm guesstimating that my entire race time + transitions will be in the 2:05 neighborhood. 2 if I have a good day, 2:10 if I fall apart. I'll be interested to see how close this ends up being to reality in 2 weeks.

Tomorrow I am planning on 20-30 miles with 3 3 mile intervals thrown in. After that I start a sort of a taper. The nice thing about duathlon training is that all the biking is not leaving me desperate for taper. I am looking forward to a couple of easier weeks, but not CRAVING them. Even by the end of training for a half-marathon I am usually very ready for a break.


2 weeks from tomorrow...

...and I'm going to have to put something like that sticker below on my car.

Today I completed my last long run (13+ miles with my local running buddy--who I'm pretty certain is now confident in her ability to complete our planned 25k race in 4 weeks) before the race, tomorrow I will be doing an easy 29 mile group ride with the JDRF crew, then Monday my last tough bike ride before starting a sort of "taper" leading up to race day.

I get a little nervous thinking about the race...not the running parts, but the biking parts and the transitions. Mostly I fear crashing--either by myself or into another cyclist (thus ruining both of our races). Or the possibility of mechanical issues or flat tire. Or simply doing something completely moronic and humiliating like forgetting to take my helmet off after the bike portion and running my last 3.1 miles with a dorky helmet on my head. Seriously, I would not put this scenario out of the realm of likely outcomes. I know myself too well.


Umm...it's all my fault.

Tonight: Rain showers before 2am, then rain and snow showers likely. Low around 33. Breezy, with a north northeast wind 15 to 18 mph increasing to between 23 and 26 mph. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Thursday: Rain and snow likely, becoming all snow after 8am. Cloudy, with a high near 35. Breezy, with a north wind between 22 and 24 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around 1 inch.

Thursday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow showers, mainly before 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. North northwest wind between 16 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.

Yeah...so yesterday I hit the nearby garden center and purchased 3 Ostrich Ferns and 4 Pulmonaria (Lungwort) plants. Mind you, this is not the first time I have purchased plants and had Spring turn back to Winter within a day or two of my purchase--far from it. I actually think this year may be the first that I've jumped the gun this severely. Most recent years I have tried to wait until May to buy things for planting, but this Spring has been so unseasonably warm and sunny that some stupid part of my brain had me convinced that I'd be "safe." Ha...joke's on me! Luckily I have not yet planted my purchases, so they will be going into the garage for a few days--until this Winter relapse passes.

Once it's safe to plant, the ferns will go near our front door, behind some hostas. We had previously had some Azaleas and Rhododendron there, but there wasn't enough light and after a few years they languished and eventually gave up the ghost entirely. Depending upon how much they spread we may add a couple more to fill in, or perhaps a couple more bleeding hearts, since they also seem to do well in our yard.

In-between our existing 5 bleeding hearts I planted the Pulmonaria. They should have pretty foliage long after the Bleeding Hearts die-back in mid-summer.

The garden center was still nowhere near fully-stocked, so in a week or two I am planning to go back for Spotted Dead Nettle ground cover to fill in other empty areas. They have a new yellow one that I'm looking forward to planting. Most of the color in our yard is pink, lavender, or white.

In other "growing" news, we finally have some Triops hatching in Dane's latest Science project for his Life Science unit. The first batch didn't hatch, which we surmised to be an issue of too-much-tank (they were in a 1 gallon aquarium). We tried the second half of the eggs in the tiny tank that came with the kit and all is well. Once they are bigger I will likely switch them to the larger tank, again.

Since it's kinda icky out and I only have a 1 hour ride on the agenda I'm planning to do it using the bike trainer. I was really looking forward to my last "nowhere bike" ride dropping off of my current 30 days' training graph in just a couple of days, but it's MI and it's only early April, so it was probably unrealistic of me to expect the end of crappy weather at this stage, huh? Tomorrow's 5 mile speed workout with 2 mile warm-up may end up being 2 miles with 5 miles of wind sprints, I fear. *pout*


Spring Break

AKA another school holiday that kind of messes with my routine for a week. But it's not so bad. Tonite I had a 6 miler on the agenda, so my guys hopped on the "ditch-seeking steering" resale shop tandem and crept along beside me. Nice way to spend an hour of quality family time.

Yesterday I enjoyed nearly 30 wind-swept miles on my bike. These windy rides are tough, but they add an extra challenge, which will make me stronger/faster on duathlon race day--in less than 3 weeks. Plus coming home was fun...I had one 20mph mile in there. That was exhilarating. Even with the wind at my back while running I don't know that I've ever hit much faster than a 9:15 pace, except during a race. And that 20mph bit on the bike took almost nothing out of me.

That's one thing I'm really enjoying about the cycling. It doesn't really seem to be hurting my running, but for the same # of training hours I am feeling much less beat up than if I were logging 9-11 hours strictly on-foot. I'm really looking forward to training for my first century ride in mid-July. I already know that I could go half that far without stressing my body all that much. Well, except maybe my butt. I'm still toughening up those ol' sit bones.

Tomorrow is a rest day and we're supposed to have T-storms on-and-off all day, so DH and I are planning to hit an awesome garden center nearby to find a few things to plant in the yard. It took about 8 years of living here to really find what actually grows well in our heavily-shaded (and deer-infested...I think we should give up on our hosta "appetizers," but DH wants to keep fighting the long-legged rats with roadkill-scented Plantskydd) yard: bleeding hearts, myrtle, and spotted dead nettle (sounds horribly ugly, but is beautiful...pretty foliage and flowers in pink and lavender).

The bleeding hearts are gorgeous for maybe a month, then they die back. I'm hoping we can get the myrtle and nettle (that's it, over to the right) to fill in, since those ground-covers always look pretty and don't seem to choke-out other plants.

The next house we buy HAS to have a better variety of lighting conditions (and, perhaps, no roving band of a dozen or more deer). I like the few things we can seem to grow, but I would REALLY like to be able to grow a bigger variety of flowery things (like roses, lilacs, and hydrangeas), as well as a butterfly/hummingbird garden. We dumped a lot of money into azaleas and rhododendrons a few years back, but our conditions are too shady for even those. They can tolerate some shade, but we have some pretty heavy shade in the form of Oaks and Maples. I'd love to see several of these trees gone (they have a tendency to drop large branches during windstorms...or sometimes just because they're old), but that's no cheap proposition, either. We'd probably save money by simply moving, heh.



The current quote above...
Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?
Peter Maher
Today was a tough run. 13.12 miles, 44 degree windchill, soaking rain the entire way. I was cold and I was underdressed. Everything on me was stiff and my usual easy pace was 30 seconds slower than it has been of late.

But I didn't wimp-out. I did my run. It took me over 2.5 hours, but I did it. And it didn't kill me. Sure, I would have been more comfortable with some sort of water-resistant, long-sleeve jacket on, but that wouldn't have scored me extra hardcore points. Heh. Squishy shoes are kinda fun, too, as long as there are no blisters or hot spots involved. Yesterday I saw several runners and cyclists during my run in near 80º temps. Today I was out for more than twice the time and saw no one else...well, I did see some people out golfing. Had they been closer to the road where I was running I would have shouted some words of camaraderie to them. Runners apparently aren't the only die-hards (some might call us insane).

One more long run before I start a sort of taper before my duathlon. Not long before the nerves set in. I'm not worried about the running portion...I know what I'm doing there. But the biking stuff and transitions have me pretty freaked-out. I keep envisioning crashing, unsuccessfully unclipping and falling in transition, not clipping properly and falling exiting transition, flat tire, etc. Ack!


One step closer...

...to a clean bill of health.

Yesterday Derek underwent surgery to more fully remove the forearm skin and tissue that would have potentially carried melanoma cells, as well as a lymph node in his right armpit. Prior to surgery he was injected all around the original "mole" area with a radioactive chemical to track to any potentially affected lymph nodes. The tracer did lead to that single lymph node and we will find out in 10 days whether there was any cancerous activity in that node, as well. Obviously we're hoping that it was caught early enough to not have spread to the node. If there was spreading, then there is likelihood that chemo would be the next step, but we're optimistic that this will not be the case. From everything I've been told by others who are familiar with melanoma it sounds like we caught this very early. For the time being we're breathing a little easier.

Surgery went well. It took a bit longer than expected, mostly because Derek's lymph nodes appear to be pretty buried in his armpit. On the way home he started getting queasy and not long after we arrive home he made a sacrifice to the porcelain god (I had that same reaction after my first experience with general anesthesia and asked for anti-nausea meds the next time around--worked like a charm). After that he was hungry and binged on Fruit Loops and Ritz crackers. Today he's felt much better and practically begged to run to the store to combat a mild case of cabin fever.

The day before his surgery we had a marvelous, albeit windy, bike ride in the afternoon (DH took a half day off). We rode 43 miles--my longest ride ever by nearly 10 miles. It kicked my ass a little, but I was surprised by how strong my legs felt just hours after finishing the ride. By yesterday AM my legs felt 100% strong. Tonite I ran 6 miles and aside from the heat (seriously...80º on April 2?!) and wind I had a strong run...though my fartlek workout was really more wind-sprints into some very strong, gusting wind. I'm feeling well recovered from last weekend's brutal 15k race of endless hills. Tomorrow 13 miles are on the agenda, likely in 60º rain. That sounds kinda dreamy...and we desperately need the rain.

Today a recent online order from ZombieRunner.com arrived. I ordered my usual 2toms SportShield and BlisterShield, but also some nylon UV protection MOEBEN sleeves for both Derek and I. His are plain white...mine are a bit more girly and fun. I tried them on and found that they felt really cool. Hopefully I can wear these in the Summer while biking and not overheat. I may try them for running, too, though it's easy to overheat while running, even with very minimal clothing. In that instance I may simply continue to slather up with plenty of high SPF sunblock and do my best to choose shadier routes and run earlier or later in the day.