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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Passing the Pen to the Next Generation

It seems my sports nut/journalism student wrote an article about one of his favorite triathletes   Love this boy like crazy.... wanna see why?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fine Art of Marketing: Different Approaches to Skinning the Cat

 On Monday night, I heard my washing machine gasp its last breath and die, thus beginning the saga of speaking to salespeople.  I should mention, I am not a fan of the hard sell or having to talk to people. I like to do my research and go touch what I’m looking for to see what it looks like in real life. Pressuring of any sort tends to make me say, “Fuck it, I don’t need you.”  Not always a productive response, but true nonetheless.

We stopped at a number of places, only two of which had any appreciable selection – Sears and Brothers Main. The salesperson at Sears was a grouchy-looking woman in clothes that didn’t fit quite right.  At Main Brothers, we worked with an older gentleman with a cane and smile. We petted the same machines at each place, and the differences in the marketing finesse are worth a compare and contract.

** We explained that the Whirlpool Duet washer we had purchased 8 years ago stopped working
Sears (S): Asked several times if we used HE detergent in it (I did- religiously- HE Tide only, she never saw a drop of regular detergent EVER). Said several times to us that, you know, not using HE detergent is the reason most of the Duets fail, pause, **Looks at me kinda sideways**. The repeated questioning of my detergent use was irritating because a) I take care of my stuff, b) she seemed to be inferring I was lying to her about using HE suds, and c) WTF business was it of hers anyway? She then started with her pitch - you know you could get it repaired - we do that- but if you spend the money on it and get another year out of it, are you going to be mad you didn't just replace it? 
Brothers Main (MB): Have you called to have it looked at? We work with a great guy who does all our repair work.  He’s great.  Let me give you his card.

** Comparing the machines:
S: pushed us to the store brand a bit, gave a pretty standard sales pitch, the sale ends Thursday if you want free delivery. Then she vanished.
MB: Asked a couple questions about what we were looking for, then steered us over to a set that was under a display, explained they had them as a special deal for a great price if you bought the set – its like getting the dryer for $400 off – what a great deal! He showed us a couple features and assured us THIS was what we were looking for, and then said let me know if you have questions and ambled off towards the desk.  We wandered a while and looked at his entire selection.  Once or twice when I started opening the lids of the lower-end models he got up to see if I had questions and steered me gently towards the HE stuff I said I wanted.  I was kind of fascinated with a washer that had a see-through lid, and he quickly told me the lid was really not what mattered, the only thing it was good for was entertaining cats and did an impression of a cat trying to catch a passing sock in the cycle. He told us the delivery fee  ($50) included a dryer cord, wash hoses, and hauling out the old ones.  Mike told him we’d just pick it up and buy the cords and hoses.  He said “No you won’t. I’ll put that in for nothing.” He also told us about a $50 per item rebate on the set, it doesn’t start until Friday, but I would give it to you too.  We’ll make it happen.

** By the numbers:
Sears price was $1438 with free delivery, they never mentioned the manufacturers rebates.
MB price was $1367 with $50 delivery (if we wanted it), plus $100 in rebates.
What felt like a GREAT deal in discussion, was truly only a savings of $21. The "free" cords were probably part of the price anyway, but felt like a deal, much like the paired set price. But we felt like we were given a deal and great service to boot. 

** So, the end result?
We bought from Brothers Main and will be washing clothes on Friday night. My decision was strictly based on salesmanship because –lets face it  - I piss away $21 all the time on nothing.  Sometimes it’s just about HOW you skin the cat that matters.
Salesmanship and Marketing for the win!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

So Now We Have a Pair of Iron Balls ...... Brain Droppings from Ironman Muncie 70.3

The Schwag
 So last weekend Mike, Alison, and I completed the Inaugural race of Ironman Muncie 70.3 (formerly the Muncie Endurathon, one of the country's oldest triathlons), known in our house as "IronBall" because, apparently we are all 12 years old here and equate racing in Ball State University country with testicles made of iron.  Just go with it. 
Out of the swim

Lots of stuff happened here, I think I'll just randomly share them with you all.  
* For your laughter and enjoyment are my race pictures from the official site.  I'm not sure where sports photographers buy their special "Unflattering Action Lens" but I would greatly prefer  it if they switched to the "Beer Goggles Lens" next time. 
 * One of the stressy moments of the day was when the water temps were announced.  Temp at 6:30AM was 81.  They announced that since it was above 78, the race was no longer wetsuit legal, so a choice had to be made - swim with your assigned wave (my wave took off 3rd) or start last if you wanted to swim with a wetsuit and not be eligible for awards (more than an hour after the 1st wave).  Well, I wasn't going to be getting any age group award anyway, but starting later meant being way further back in the pack and right from the start and being out in the heat another hour. So the decision became much easier and I swam 1.2 miles without a wetsuit for the first time.  I get tougher all the time.  
Bike into T2

* {TMI WARNING- boys, I'd skip this one} I am ready for menopause already.  Or a hysterectomy. Not only did "Aunt Flo" appear 2 weeks early (Whiskey!Tango!Foxtrot! Seriously. ) but race morning was day 4 and I seemed to be dumping fluids pint after pint.  Choice. We got up at 530, got ready and were at the reservoir by 630.  Things had already reached EMERGENCY stage, having bypassed a disposable Diva Cup and a gigantic Tampax.  I had also soaked the pad of the bike shorts.  I was not going to make the potty line in time to salvage anything so I did what I had to do- I changed a tampon in transition as nonchalantly as I could.  We were racked by the pros who were busily reaching down their shorts to apply Chamois butter, so I guess I fit right in.  How's that for "First"??
* As I waited to go down to the start, I noticed my neighbor had a bottle of spray sunblock.  I asked her if I could use some.  She didn't answer (since she was already gone), so I took the silence as a yes and applied a few sprays to my neck chest and arms. Seriously, though, I wouldn't say no if someone asked so it was OK.
* Alison and I started in the same wave.  We found a good spot on the beach to claim for our own and we waited for the the start buzzer to sound, she leaned over and said "Have a great race, I hope you don't bleed to death."

Run out at T2
* The water at the reservoir was awesome.  Warm, clear, and not stinky or boat gas.  It was a great swim.  The lack of wetsuit was not a problem at all.  What was a problem? The swim ended at the beach, then you ran up a huge long hill, and THEN you crossed the timing mat.  Too bad the mat wasn't at the water, it would have been a much better swim time. 
* The bike was great.  Flat and fast, headwind out, tailwind back. Had a bike PR for the HIM distance.  Had a great time on the bike. Since the ladies started before all the men under 60, I got passed a LOT by fast boys on fast bikes, most of whom were nice enough to lean over and say something like "That's a purty bike" before they dropped me like a bad habit. I averaged 18.3 mph for 56 miles - very cool!
  * The bike was an out and back course in 2 directions so I saw Alison twice on the bike and she looked good.  I tried to catch her after seeing her just before the first turnaround about 10 miles, and when I saw her just before the second turnaround she had gained a bit of ground on me but not much.  I never did catch her though.  Saw Mike at about my mile 40 and and told him to hurry up and catch me.

Who's that guy yelling?

* Once I was back to the transition area, I dismounted and jogged in to rack my bike.  The heat of the day hit me when I stopped moving and the stillness set in.  I'm not sure what happened to the wind from the bike, but there was absolutely nothing moving.  I used the potty quick and got to changing shoes and hats.  I again asked my neighbor to borrow her susnscreen.  Her bike was back, but she was not around so I again took her silence as a yes and applied liberally. I also stopped at the susncreen apply-ers near Run Out for good measure, although I think the teenager applying mine just had fumes on her gloves and no actual sunscreen.
  * As I exited Run Out, I heard some guy yelling "GO JENNY!!!" I could not place him.  He yelled again.  Noticed he was wearing an older IMWI Finishers shirt. Still couldn't place him.....he looks familiar..... and then there was Kathy Fitzmaurice with an umbrella a little ways down yelling my name too.  It all came together who the guy was - Kathy's husband Adam Ball.  It really is cool to have a cheerleader you had no idea would be there.
 * The run became a shit show quick.  The temp on the road was at least 95 and there was no wind and the course was nothing but unrelenting gently rolling hills. There really was no flats to be had - we wer either headed slightly uphill or slightly downhill.  Period. Yuck. 
I gave try at running as best I could, but it was so freaking hot, my pulse would skyrocket as soon as I tried.  So i walked a lot of the 1st mile, then took water, a piece of banana, 2 icy wet sponges and a cup of ice, then gave another shot at running with a run 3/walk 2 method. It was not long before I was simply walking most of the run just to get the end. 
* I get to some dark places in my head when the run goes sour.  Disappointed in myself, I get really irritated by people who say things like "Looking great!" as they pass you.  I had a couple meltdown moments on the run, which I'll share next.
* About mile 5ish on the the course, I was patted on the back as I was walking uphill, hot, sweaty and feeling defeated.  A tall lumberjack-looking guy said "People like you inspire me!"  My immediate response was to be offended. My response went like this: People like me?  Who's that- fat people? Old ladies? Crappy runners? What?? He did not respond and kept going.......perhaps I scared the lumberjack??  Much later on the course, I got to thinking he was probably referring to the "Ironman Wisconsin" Logo that was written across the seat of my bike shorts..... (Sorry for being such a beyotch, Lumberdude, I was a little touchy about my performance when you arrived on the scene)

* At about mile 4 I saw Alison running back in, which would be about mile 9 for her.  She was on a walk break (I have NEVER seen Alison walking) and she looked hot and had a couple ice sponges under her shoulders.  You know it's rough out there when you see Alison at anything less than a steady determined run pace..... Anyway, we both headed to the middle of the road.  I should have said Good Job or something. What I actually said was "It's hot as dicks out here, Batman!"  My daintiness filter was already gone at that point.

crying as I walked, wouldn't look up
* Just as we approached the turnaround on the run course,I was passed by Triathlon Barbie and her entourage as she was giving them all a lesson while they ran about how important it is to drink cola when it's offered on the course.  As they passed me, she turned around and said "Don't you quit, you're doing great!"  I responded snarkily "I'm not quitting, just slow." She said "Great!  Don't you quit now, keep at it!"  I wanted to poke the back of her perky head, but instead just said "This ain't my first rodeo, Barbie." and kept on my way.   

*I saw Mike again about mile 7ish as he was headed out to the turnaround.  I yelled: You better hurry if you're going to catch me, WimmDogs!  (the moment called for a little bit of  WWJBD- what would Johnny Brown Do?).  Mike passed me about mile 8, looking good.  He had made up an HOUR on me at that point. Ugh.
 * It only got worse.  My back and hips were locked up tight from holding a single position on the bike for so long and the heat was wearing on me terribly.  I was in survival mode, just getting to the finish line and getting out of the sun. I was fried to a crisp and felt like I was on fire. The course was getting hotter and hotter as the day went by and the asphalt was blazing. By the end of the day it was over 98. There was no shade.  What had been shady on the way out had shifted as the day went on and was now shady on the other side of the street.
* About 2 miles from the finish, I saw one of the photographers as I was headed up a small hill.  I started tearing up, hot, hurt, and tired.  Knowing it would be a race picture, I hung my crybaby head so my hat brim covered my face.  He kept yelling "Hey Wisconsin!" to get me to look up but I wouldn't.  So stubborn sometimes.

Can I stop now please?

* If someone had come by in one the golf carts and asked me, I'd have taken a ride back in and said screw it. I was that done, and I am never willing to give up and SAG in even when I probably should.
* At mile 12.5, there was one final F*#%king hill.  At the top was a guy who was yelling the participants up...."Come on! Sack up! You should be running this! You're almost done!"  I was at my limit.  I burst into tears and sobbed "Stop yelling at me!!"  He stopped :)
* at mile 13, I was cresting the top of a hill, sobbing my eyes out like a toddler, then I turned down the lane to the finish.  It was downhill so I was jogging it in, biting my lip to suppress the tears.  There were Mike and the Viemeisters (cool!) and Mike is yelling "It's all worth it, you get a cool hat!!!).  That cracked me up and I started laughing.  I got to the finish line and it was over.  I was hot, sweaty, crampy, tired, sunburned EVERYWHERE, including the backs of my legs and ready to get out of the sun.

End Result: Swim was the Swim, Bike PR, Run PW.  Not a PW overall. 
Review: One of the best races I have ever done from a a volunteer and organization perspective, but if it's always that hot, I don't think I'd do it again.

The aftermath: Had a nice dinner at a greasy pizza place with Alison's college roommate's husband and daughter, which was cool.  He is a professor at Ball State in exercise physiology, so dinner conversation was interesting and entertaining. 
The next day we headed home, and took a short detour through Elwood, IN where my grandparents and other family lived.  It was a nice walk down memory lane see all the local landmarks, check out Grampa's house and his paint store and to share the local stories with Mike.
Fun Times.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Milton Optimist Club 10K a/k/a Adventures in Africa

So, again we are at the number 13.  Avg speed for this race: 13:13.  One day REAL soon we are getting back to the 12's or lower.......
So anyhow, here is the Independence Day Lucky 13-

1) It's been a while since I've had a race shirt I've really liked.  This is one of them.  I love the slogan "Optimism - Play it Forward."  It kinda sums up my goals in life: Keep a positive outlook, do good things for other people for no reason, that kind of stuff.  Not that I always achieve it, mind you - sometimes I am a snarky beyotch- but a girl's got to have a goal.
2) This was only the second run of the week for me. Probably should spend more time running if you want to  get faster...... but the bike is sooooo much more fun.
3) It was hot out there.  it is always hot out there on this particular run (imagine that, a hot day in July..... who'd think??). Not just hot, but that overwhelming Africa grade heat where you expect to see a lioness come pouncing out of the brush after a zebra or two. Holy Hell I hate that kind of heat on a run.  Add in some open road with little to no shade and you have there a recipe for some serious whininess.  In all seriousness though, the bulk of the water stations were out on the open part of the course, as well as a sprinkler station at a local farm, so the heat was thwarted as best as the RD was able.
4) This is a great little race.  No frills.  Cotton tshirts.  No chips.  No times posted online.  They barely advertise it at all, not on or any other registration site, just a little blip on the Milton 4th web page.  Registration is a paper only by mail or in person affair (*GASP!!*) only. And yet, there are a ton of people there, mostly locals who do it every year or a newby or two who decided to give it whirl since it's in their backyard. Kudos to Kris Koeffler for putting on an event the community can really get behind.
5) Five.... the number of people I passed after the halfway point. On this race, I know that I generally make the most headway on others after the 5K mark.  Lots of folks can wing a 5K.  I am not particularly speedy, but I keep a slow steady pace and can do some distance for a long time.  So the rabbits take off and go hellbent for leather and I plod along doing my thing and pick them off on the back half when they fizzle out after the hill on the turnaround. Best of all, most of the folks I overtook appeared to be over the age of 10 and under 70..... so they were more in my age range than the people I usually pass :)  I think there were at least 13 people behind me overall.  I love that.
6) Phil and CJ (and Tucker, one of my favorite puppies) were at the crossroads that was both the 1 mile and 5 mile mark.  You gotta love having a cheering section on the course, thanks guys. Shortly after seeing the Gredler gang, I came across a kiddo trying to attack me with a dinosaur machine gun style squirtgun.  I was pretty hot, wish he'd had better aim - totally missed me with every drop of water.
7)  After the 5K mark, I set my sights on a lady about my age up ahead.  I spent the last 5K trying to catch up to her.  She was running just a bit faster than my pace the first half and was slowing a bit.  I tried to keep running when she did and to keep running a bit longer when she stopped for walk breaks.  I made up distance on her each block, each mile.  At the finish, I was just  a few steps behind her. I patted her on the back and told her I'd been chasing her for miles and she gave me a good run for my money. If it had been an 11K, I'd have caught my pace bunny.
8)I love that the whole Wilkinson clan came out.  I spent most of the first half as a Wilkinson sandwich, with Jack and Brendan leapfrogging with me off the front and Michele and Sparky leapfrogging on the back.  Those kids did awesome.  We stuck around for the end to cheer the kids, because really, that's what life is all about.... cheering in the next generation and lighting the fire.
9) At the finish line, was my favorite preschooler, my niece Izzy.  She was hot and tired and crabby, but still just about the cutest thing ever.

From my sister at the finish.  All I see are eyes, boobs, and hips, everything else is a washout.

Coming up on the first corner just after the 1 mile
Heading into the last mile
10) Remember what I said about this being a no-frills kind of race? There was no official photographer there either, as evidenced by the super-terrific photo documentation of the race shown here.  Sadly, I think they are some of the best race pics I've ever taken, mostly because they are blurry  so you can't see all the stuff flopping around in high def.
11) Mike puked on the course and still managed to almost PR.  What's up with that?
12)The best part of this run is our usual post-race dip in Storrs Lake nearby.  It's about 1/3 of a mile across, a good distance for some open water time.  The water is nice, there are just a few fishing boats to contend with, and it's rarely wavy or rough.  This year, Mike and I were joined by Alison, CJ and Phil, Jamie, Steve, and Jeff. It's always nice to swim in a small group to help you pace and sight.  Plus, it felt awesome to get in the water and cool off.  Win-win.
13) We stopped at McDonald's on the way home specifically to get something cold to drink.  Have you had one of those new Mango Pineapple smoothies there?  Those things are delicious!  I do not normally advocate for fast food, but I think I have found my new go-to treat.  O.M.G.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fort Atkinson Half Marathon: back to 13 things

We're back to 13 again...... *sigh*
Saturday, Mike and I did the Fort Atkinson Half Marathon.  What a great race! Tons of good schwag (tech tee, backpack, medal, pancake breakfast, lots of giveaways, and wet towels at the finish), the city was so friendly and welcoming, the course supported well, and the spectator presence was unreal.  Everywhere you ran people were in the driveway, had sprinklers going, had hand made signs made, cowbells, etc.  EVERYWHERE.  My only disappointment was I understood this was a flatter course and I would call it quite hilly, not big hills, but lots and lots of little rollers that grab your attention all the way through it. Despite that, I would do this over and over, thought it was just a real gem.  Plus I was far from the slowet person there, which never happens!
For this one, I was thinking I would do the songs at each mile that kept me moving forward.

1. Vampire Weekend: A-Punk. Love this song, it makes me laugh and reminds me of the movie Stepbrothers. Great to get you going, very upbeat.  Spent this first mile picking my pace bunnies.  There were a handful of power walkers behind me and I was determined they stay there.  I played leapfrog with a lady (I'd pass her, she's pass me, etc) in this first mile and up the first bigger hill. There were a couple of other folks I picked to pass later on.  Picking people to pass helps keep me focused on forward motion and not on the mechanics of the run.

2. Beatles: Octopus's Garden. Passed two twenty-something girls who were chatting and jogging/walking early on.  They looked very chirpy and I named them "the cheerleaders." Passed them and never saw them again.... it was just too early to for that level of perky.
3.  Alexa Rae Joel: Notice Me. Great song. Continued to play leapfrog with the lady from the start.  Together we passed Cubs Cap guy and his momma (It never pays to run in basketball shorts), and then shortly after I passed the old dude in the green shirt. It was pumping me up to continue to pick people off.  I call this sniper running - picking people off one at a time. What can I say? It helps me pass the time...
4. Anthrax:efilnikufesin-n-f-l.  This mile was dedicated to passing the leapfrog lady.  At one point as we were running past an aid station, she held out her hand, shook mine, and said "Nice to meet you, I'm Mary Ann, and I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of each other today."  We talked a bit during a walk break (she was from Illinois, gave me advice from the running clinic she went to (um, yeah) and told me I needed one of those Ironman watches that you can program for intervals (uh, I was wearing one....), and told me her son was training for an Ironman.  I let her run ahead again as I walked up the hill, then I got ahead of her on the downhill and that was the last  I saw of Maryann. By the way, you really shouldn't sing along to this song when there are others around.  Not everyone appreciate the lyrics....(NFL-  nice fucking life!)

5. The Dollyrots: Brand New Key.  At this point in the run, I was wondering just exactly was meant by what I had heard about the course being pretty flat.  It was pretty frigging hilly for me so far right from the beginning. I passed the pink top girl in this mile.  Then she passed me, then she stopped in the portapot and and I got ahead again.  She passed me again in a bit and walked a 100 or so yards ahead of me a while as we walked up a hill.  I spied a small person in green basketball shorts ahead of her.  I intended to pass them both soon, but first I had to walk up the hill.
6.  Gwyneth Paltrow: Country Strong. This mile started in the country and headed back to town. I passed the pink top girl for the final time and then came up on green BB shorts guy, who actually a boy about 13 years old. I gave him a thumbs up, said "halfway there!" and executed the pass.
7. Hot Chella Rae: Tonight, Tonight. Love this song, always pumps me up. Sang it for a while and didn't care who was listening.  Sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do to keep the motivation to keep moving.

8. House of Pain: Jump Around. "I'll serve your ass like John McEnroe/.../if you come to battle bring a shotgun..." Somewhere in this mile while this song was on, I passed 2 more random people. 
9. Billy Joel: You're my Home. I heard this song come on as I was passing over the river through downtown Fort.  It made me think what a perfect song it would be for a first dance at a wedding and I started sobbing a little too myself.  This little lapse of sappiness made me realize I was probably skating on the edge of bonking a bit so I ate some powerbar gel chewies from the pouch I was carrying and - VOILA! - no more sappy crying as I slogged along :)
10. The Police: Canary in a Coal Mine. Passed another pink girl. The streets here were very hilly and domed so bad I had to run down the middle of the street to keep from feeling like I was leaning sideways.  I thought, seriously? More hills? This is nuts!!
11. Alien Ant Farm: Smooth Criminal. We were headed through downtown and the farmers market.  I Picked a lady to pass up ahead who was soon being paced for a few blocks with hubby and kids. I waited, since it felt mean to pass a woman with her fan club watching, so I hung back and kept it easy   Pretty soon, she pulled off to the side and was doing some stretching for her back and I executed the pass without contributing to her losing face.  Cool.

I need a nap after all that!

12. Cake: The Distance. Passed a girl I called Thirteen.  She looked like a shorter chubbier version of Dr House's Thirteen from the show, and she was the 13th person I passed. Somewhere in here, there was a lady on a bike in a medical shirt who was shouting at me "Go Jenny!" "This is a short day for you!" Looking good Jenny!"  Obviously she knew me.  I did not have my glasses on and she was going by me so fast, I couldn't focus her face before she was too far away to make out he face clearly. I was tired and didn't have the presence of mind to say I need my glasses -who are you?  I felt like an idiot, because I couldn't place the voice even though I recognized it.  (Later found out it was Julie (Plautz) Neppl, who I went to grade school through HS with.....duh.) Sorry Julie, I wasn't myself and was blind as a bat :)

13. Pitbull: I know you want me.In this last mile I played leapfrog with weepy pink shirt girl.  It took me a while to figure out she was running with a constant medical escort.  I quit passing her because it felt wrong, this seemed like an important moment for  her and I don't know what leads to a personal escort, but I wasn't going to purposely rain on her day.
.1  Lady Antebellum: I Was Here. In these final couple blocks, I ended up passing her because she slowed way down and I just couldn't slow anymore, I needed to be done. Mike was nice enough to capture my finish on his phone.  Thanks? I had no idea there was so much jiggly stuff going on . Wow.

Aquathon Series #2: 12 things

So I am very excited to only be posting 12 **TWELVE** things for you about this race.

1. We have nicknamed this race the Gun Show.  Seriously, everyone who shows up is ridiculously fast.  For something that is so short, I am always way far last.  Kinda bites at your enthusiasm for it sometimes.
2.  Because of this, I spend my time on the run announcing to the corner marshalls that I'm last.  Hopefully they appreciate knowing they can pack it up and go home.  Its the least I can do for making them wait for me.
3. This night the water was much warmer than the last one (Tough to get colder, the last one was 54 degrees...).  Wore a sleeveless wetsuit for this one.
4. There were a ton of people there this time.  And they were still all smoking fast.
5.  The swim went well. Felt fast and was able to pass up a couple pace bunnies by the end. 
6.  I took off with Alison at the beginning.  We could walk out quite a ways.  Before actually started swimming I was able to walk a few steps ahead of her and declare "I'm winning Alison, better hurry up!"  She wasn't amused. :)
7. Took off from transition knowing I was doing really well for time.  It isn't often I am out of the water before a bunch of people.  Alison encouraged me to swim on the inside of the stream of people, which worked well.  I swam out too wide somehow on the middle leg or I think I would have been faster yet.

From last year

8.  I only slowed to walk twice I think.  That was OK.  It's harder to walk on the out and back courses because all the fasties are running at you the other direction, which is motivation to keep moving.
9.  At the halfway point, I did some quick math and realized if I hustled back I could break an hour.  That was my carrot. It hurt.
10. I didn't do it.  Close though, just missed it and it was a PR time. Gives me a goal for next time :)  Although I am last at every race, I am currently in second place in my division.  I am hoping for a bobblehead trophy again this year, so hopefully not too many more chubby chicks join in the series. Sometimes it pays to be fat and stubborn.
11.  They announced that the last place man and woman in the series will win a pitcher of beer and a bucket of wings each month for a year at Quaker Steak and Lube.  Pretty sure if the past 2 years are any indication, I should nail it. At last, a goal!
12.  Best thing about Aquathon night is Chipotle afterwards.  Had a great supper with the Viemeisters, Zach, Steve, and Jamie. Yummo.

Capital View Olympic Triathlon: 13 things

(To review, I am using the format of using the same number of key points as my run minutes per mile.  I'm hoping you see less and less of me here that way)

1. This was our first true triathlon of the year.  As usual, there were some jitters as we got ready to take off for the swim.  God lord, that swim looked long!  The water was a balmy 62 degrees.  I chose to bring a sleeveless wetsuit.....too cold for that.  Swam the first leg of the triangle swim with my head out of the water - rescue stroke style- until I could contain the face-in-the-water panicky feeling from cold water swimming. 
2. They started women over 40 in the swim wave that went off just before the men over 60 and the relays teams.  I would not have chosen to send the slow fat old ladies off at the end, but they didn't ask my opinion.
3. Did I fail to mention that we did this race before? 2 years ago.  The race was nice as far as organization etc, but the difficulty of the course was a total suckfest. I swore I would never.ever.ever. do it again. And yet, somehow we were toeing the same line again. 
4. I was thinking about it as I ran up the beach to transition and to my bike.  "This bike is going to suuucckkk."
5. Once I took off on my bike, I quickly found my groove.  I was out of the park quickly and headed out to the loop.  There was no shortage of folks on mountain bikes to pass as I headed out.  There are couple good downhills on the way out, but you have to turn right at the bottom of them and head up a monster around the corner. I hate it when there is no chance to enjoy a good downhill.
6. Then came the loop around Enchanted Valley Drive.  It sounds very fairy tale-ish.  The first part of it is- long winding downhill, coasting forever.  Heavenly (but you know when you are headed downhill, the climb back up is never as satisfying).  Then comes the climb back out of the valley.  Into a headwind. uphill.  The biggest hill comes up just before the turn to go back to "the stick" back to Gov. Nelson Park.  Mile 15.....ouchie.
7. Headwind followed me back to the park.  The bright spot in this is I got to pass a couple of my pace bunnies, including a freakishly fast dude on a commuter bike. 
8. Once back to the state park, I was dreading the run.  I got to a fork in the road by the ranger station that wasn't marked and I took the left one.  I should have taken the right one, but it wasn't marked and since my wave started so late, there was already people leaving and there were pedestrians all over both paths.  It ended up OK because it eventually dumped me out where I was supposed to be.
9. The run is a 10K trail run, first through a hilly open prairie, then through a hilly dirt path in the woods.  I don't enjoy either type of trail and I especially am not a fan of hills.  I sucked it up and ran as much as I could, shooting for a 80/20 ratio with varying success.
10. The last time we did this, it was really hot and the open prairie was insufferable.  This time, it was cool, overcast, and had a strong breeze which made for a much better experience, even if I didn't like it much.
11. Shoe choice was poor. I wore my Gel Noosa tri shoes which let in a lot of trail debris.  I have a pair of trail shoes, not sure why I didn't remember that I had them and wore them.
12. I was not last (there were I think 5 people finishing longer than me).  I beat my PR on the course by 9 minutes, mostly on the run. I've decided I will probably let this course PR stand.  If I ever start talking about this race again, please stifle my crazy-talk and remind me that I said I was never doing this race again because the bike is way hard and it's a trail run.
13. I do have to give props to Endurance House for putting on a first rate event.  Even though I don't care for the course itself, they still put on a heck of an event.  The registration was easy, the packet pick-up was easy, the schwag was great (tech tee, backpack, etc), the volunteers were awesome (thanks Wade and Tracy!!), there were plenty of course markers and corner pointers.  The after party was great too - plenty of food, a beer truck, and best of all, they had print outs of your results when you finished so you didn't have to wait for the results to upload when you get home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Race Day Recap by the Numbers: Beloit Biathlon (Duathlon)

Well folks, I’ve been away for a while, unplugged from the bloggy life and existing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn exclusively. I’ve been reading your blogs, many of them, but not commenting much at all since I read them using Google Reader and frankly I am just too damn lazy to click out of Reader to comment. The truth is I miss writing more than a snarky quip of 140 characters or less, but like every habit it’s hard to get back in the swing of things with regular posts. If you have ever heard me leave a long, rambling voice mail message, you should know I have more to say than can be squeezed into a Tweet. Sooooo ….. how do I get over that hurdle and get back to exercising my writing chops?
I’m thinking as a means of dusting off my keyboard and getting some thoughts documented again, I need an expectation of myself for when I should post. Since I really have 2 goals this race season, I want to incorporate them both.
Goal #1: Post more regularly to Blogger.
Goal #2: Be a faster runner.
So how to include them both?
Here’s the plan: to do a post with a short recap of each race/event this season with the number of thoughts about the event and my performance equaling the number of minutes/mile I averaged on the run. Hopefully, you will see my posts becoming more succinct, instead of getting lengthier!
Now, lets get to this race report business… This past Saturday, I did the Beloit Biathlon. It had nothing to do with Shooting or Skiing, thankfully. Here it is by the numbers:
1. One. The number of people I was faster than on Run #1 of this duathlon (120/121). Proof positive my running needs some work, yes? (On the second run I was 107/121, so a mild improvement in the rankings).
2. Two. The number of times I have medaled at the race in the past. I took home a 2nd place Athena in 2007 and 3rd place Athena in 2008. 2009 was a non-bling year, and 2010 was the year we volunteered as our SWAT volunteer race for the year.
3. Three. This is how many times Mike and I have competed at the Beloit Biathlon before this race. If you ask Mike, it was two, but he would be wrong.
4. Four. I was 4th in the Athena class for this race (of 6). And I was seriously bummed that I did not take home any hardware this year.
5. Five. Number of friends racing. It’s always good to see a familiar face on the course, and this is no exception. Mike Wolfgram, Mike Norton, Mike Wimmer, Steve Knox, Brian Morgan – they all did a terrific job.
6. Six. The number of minutes I shaved off my previous PR for this race, mostly on the bike and transitions. Yeah me.
7. Seven. I had a great bike split. Ended up averaging almost 19 mph on the bike and wound up with a rank of 40/121. I wish I could somehow relate that kind of performance to the running legs. This has nothing to do with 6, but I couldn’t come up with a post for 6. I didn’t follow the convention, sue me.
8. Eight. The number of Cousins mini subs I think I saw Mike eat. Man he loves those things. These people do the post-race snacks up right! They also had chips, bananas, oranges, cookies.
9. Nine. The best thing about this race is that it does not start until 9AM. Do you know how much this rocks? There is nothing better than a race that starts later than 7AM. I love my bed and the more time I can spend snoozing in it in the morning, the better.
10. Ten. The only thing that can top a race that starts at 9, is a race that takes place in a city that is a mere 10 minutes from town. I mean seriously, could it get any easier?
11. Eleven. The number of miles the bike is advertised as being. It is actually closer to 10. Much like the 2-mile runs, which are actually 1.65. On a positive note, it makes you look very speedy in the official splits!
12. Twelve. How many times (x 1,000) Mike told me the story of his performance and dissected every minute of the race for me. Dude! I was there, too.
13. Thirteen. My average pace per mile for this first run was 12:40. For the second Run it was 13:19. Next time I post, I am hoping to only have to come up with 11 or 12 things to write about.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pushing the Reset Button

Ironman has been done and over for a week now. It was a wonderful experience for me with lots of highlights.  I shaved time off my swim and transitions and took nearly an hour off my bike from last year, allowing me to finish comfortably in under 17 hours a la the plan, even after I was reduced to a walking-only regimen a bit after the halfway point of the marathon. I smiled literally all day. Aside from the technical stuff of the details of the kick, pedal, and stride are the personal connections through the day - seeing people you know cheering you on, people you don't know calling your name (it's on your bib, but it takes a while to figure out why all these people know you), and people doing hysterically funny things that keep you going.  I find myself living for one connection, one person to the next and that is what got me through the day in the high spirits I finished with. I had a blast, enjoyed (almost) every minute.
Eclipsing all of that is knowing that Mike was unable to achieve his goal for that day. He can tell his own story, it's not mine to tell. It's ironic in hindsight that everyone's encouragement and attention to saying "You'll do it this time" were directed at just me most of the time prior to race day.  It was a given that Mike was going to get there and be comfortably ahead of me, I was the one who would be racing the stopping of the clock.  After all, he is stronger than me, faster than me, can go longer, harder, and endure more suffering than me before breaking.  I wish we had had that day instead.  Had the tables been turned, it would have been easy for me to concede and support because that was the performance that was expected of me really. I can see that every mention, every picture, every "atta girl" someone sends, crushes his spirit and sends him to dark places.  I am not able to experience the joys that come with the achievement because the mere mention feels like rubbing it in Mike's face and I watch him become more and more hurt and distant with each word and picture. I hesitate even to post a race report as I know talking about my own wonderful day will feel like a kick in the teeth for him. I know he is a bigger person than what I am seeing right now, but I can empathize in knowing he is still licking some fairly large wounds.
And so, with no  further ado, today opens the next chapter.  I am done talking about Ironman until Mike is ready to move forward.  The pictures will be archived, thoughts of the tattoo put on hold, the scrapbook mementos and Finisher stickers tucked away for later, and the conversation geared once again to what is on the horizon not what happened in the past.  It would be great to celebrate and relive it over and over, but it is not worth the emotional costs at this point in time.  
So what's next?
On the short term, I want to continue to work on my weight and lose that last few pounds that seem to be permanently affixed to my ass. Operation Eat Whole begins again today and will hopefully be a giant success without the concurrent pressure of trying to peak my endurance training.
I've also done zero activity for the last week, unless sofa surfing counts. So tonight, weather-permitting, I will try a short run and see where that goes.  We'll take it from there, but I am intent on maintaining fitness through the winter. And taking my pup for nice long walks. And finding joy in life every day, because that is what it really is all about.

Brought to you by the letter J-Wim
Fortitudine Vincimus! (Through endurance we conquer!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

IMWI Spectator Guide 2010

Spectator Guide
Wimmers Do Wisconsin -Part Deux
September 12, 2010

Mike Wimmer ~ Athlete #1497
Jennifer Wimmer ~ Athlete # 2692

Race Start: 7 AM from Monona Terrace

The Swim:
2.4 miles/3.8K (2 loop course) in front of Monona Terrace

If you want to see the start, you’ll need to get there early (like by 6:30) There is no parking at the Terrace and parking in the downtown ramps may be tough. You can park at the Alliant Energy Center and take the free shuttle to the Terrace.

Where to watch:
There are several options here. Be aware that these areas are all quite crowded. Think early about where you want to be watching from and ease your way into position.
• from the sidewalk along the lakefront in front of Monona Terrace. (Good lateral view of the swimmers as they pass by twice)
• From the top of Monona Terrace (great view of the “washing machine” from above and there are vendors there selling breakfast items and drinks)
• At the swim exit chute (you can watch swimmers exit the water and get wetsuit stripped)
• If you want to watch the swim exit, please get there right away after the start. This fills up very fast and gets very crowded once the athletes start exiting the water.

Anticipated Finish Times:
Mike: 8:40ish AM.
Jenny : 8:30ish AM

T1 swim to bike transition:

wetsuit stripping at the swim exit in Law Park next to the Terrace building and run up the helix into the Terrace and dress for the bike. You can see this from the “grassy knoll” area. It’s packed there, so you may see us and we might not see you. Stripping is cool to watch though .
Roughly 10-15 minutes??

The Bike: 112 miles/180K start ~ 8:45AM

The course goes from Monona Terrace out to Verona where we do two 40-mile loops before heading back to the Terrace for the run.

The easiest place to watch is probably Verona at the High School aid station. That is roughly mile 50 so there is plenty of time to get there. The riders come by very quickly so it may be difficult to spot specific riders and it’s hard for riders to find you in the crowd, but it is very spectator-friendly here. There are usually area service groups that sell concessions, grilled sandwiches, etc here so bring a few bucks to eat lunch.
There is a free shuttle by the Terrace (corner of Wilson St) that will bus you to Verona. You could also drive to Verona and park by the library.

Good spectator spots on the bike course:
• Verona HS aid station (easiest to get to, bussed in and out from downtown area-see above)
• Mt Horeb HS aid station
• Timber Lane – very steep hill (the 2nd of 3 hills known affectionately as “the 3 Bitches”) This is the best option to actually see us (going very very slowly uphill) but it fills up fast and is a bit more difficult to get to. Athletes go by very slowly here and it is really easy to see them. You have to park in the residential neighborhood and walk down Timber Lane. If you want to go here to watch, ask us about instructions.
• Midtown Road- the 3rd big Hill. This is a less crowded option than

Lunch: You have lots of options here.
In Verona, you can eat at the stands along Main Street in Verona, or if you head south you’ll find some places to eat. You head up the hill to the corner of the course, there is a gas station in walking distance where you can buy a cold soda or snacks.
I recommend that you pack a few snacks and water in a backpack to bring with you. It is important you stay hydrated and nourished – it’s a long day for spectators too.

Anticipated Finish Time: 8 hours (@14 mph avg) ~ 4:45-5pm ~ This is a total guesstimate.
Mike is hoping to be off the bike by 4PM, Jenny by 4:30, but who knows.

T2 (Bike to Run Transition): roughly 5-10 minutes to change clothes/shoes

The Run: 26.2 miles / 42K ~ start 5pm-ish

The run will be more spectator-friendly than the bike. This is a 2 loop course and you should have several opportunities to see us if you move around a little. The finish line is near the Capitol. You can watch runners there, along the square, or further on down State Street. State Street is great because you see the athletes pass down and back. Once you see us running toward the Capital the last time, you will have time to get to the finish to watch us cross the line.

There will be a lot going on in this area, especially in the afternoon and early evening. Find somewhere to eat some supper; there are more options than I can list within easy walking distance. I recommend Ian’s Pizza (sold by the slice) on State Street, especially the Mac & Cheese pizza – YUM!

Realistically, we are looking at finishing the run between and 11pm and midnight, so find a place to entertain yourself, and be sure to find time to sit and rest – it’s a very long day! As the race winds down and it gets darker outside, the spectators usually start to move closer to the finish line and you probably should too. (There can be a shady character or two out there at night, so be safe!)

With all that said, anything can happen and times can be way ahead or behind. Ironman can get the best of people on the bike or more often on the run, so don’t get worried if we get off schedule.

The Winners:
The men’s winners will probably be finishing about 3:30-4:00pm. Women’s winners will likely be 45 minutes or so after the men’s winner.

Foofy Stuff:
Unless you are totally into the triathlon scene, spectating is frankly kind of boring. There is a tent by the finish line where you can make signs or you can bring chalk and write encouraging messages on the State St like “only 6 hours left” or “stop puking” or “you paid to do this??”
There is also an IM shop in the Terrace where you can look at or buy mementos or overpriced gear. Let me know if you need our wish list and sizes :)

Tracking your Athlete:
They have computers available in the Terrace where you can check the athlete tracker on and type in our numbers if you lose track of us – or if you can’t make it and are following from home. They are also showing it live on so if you can’t come and you’re interested you can watch the live feed and see some of the race and the finish line. (Be warned- we tried to use the live feed last week for IM Louisville and it was AWFUL to try to get this to work and only barely got it going before we saw our friend cross the finish line. If you use this, you very possibly might not see anything at all).

Taking care of yourself for race day:
• Wear comfortable shoes with good support and cushioning. You will do a lot of walking; flip-flops or cutesy shoes will not serve you well.
• Get a good night sleep.
• Pack a backpack with a few snacks, a water bottle, some money for snacks/meals, sunscreen, a disposable rain slicker, a light jacket for evening. Remember that you will have to carry it all day, so pack light!
• Be sure to get enough to eat and drink. This is an endurance sport for the spectators too!
• Take time to rest and relax. Find a park bench or piece of shade and get off your feet.
• Enjoy the ambience of the day ~ it can be very uplifting and exciting!

VERY IMPORTANT- We can receive no outside help so please do not help us. Do not hand us anything, including water, a jacket, hat, food, or anything. We may be suffering, but it is our choice. This could cause a disqualification. We paid good money to suffer so let us.


Many thanks to Mike Wolfgram from whom I pirated the majority of this guide, with some minor adjustments for pacing as he is far faster than we are!

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