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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crossing the Bridge

For the past week or so, I have watched my youngest son flounder a little bit as he tries to find himself some semblance of a life after football. Several days, I came home from work to find him ambling around the house looking for something to do or taking a catnap on the couch. I know it has to be an adjustment for him. For the past 4 years, he has been involved week-in and week-out in one form of structured athletic program or another – football practices and games, off-season lifting programs, other programs to increase speed, explosiveness, and form, and training camps. Every week had a purpose and every day had a specific goal. Someone else planned your life and you lived up to their expectations and did what they asked, you worked the program and proved yourself as a solid reliable performer.

For the last 4 years, we have watched as he has matured in to a solid, muscular athlete, a formidable presence on the field. He has honed his nutrition to maximize his muscle base. He has watched his fluid intake to stave off performance deficits. He has heeded the advice of his coaches in building muscle and strength the right way, through hard work and not synthetic hormones or chemical quick fixes. He has worked hard and followed the program to a T, and now he has reached a crossroads.
Now things have changed dramatically. No one is telling Lucas how, when, or where to exercise. He has lots of tools he can use, but no instruction anymore. This is the first of what will be many opportunities to transition from the “kid world” of taking direction from others into “grown up land” where you take the tools you have been taught along the way and find your own way in the world and trust that you have the tools and training needed to succeed.
I don’t always give my kiddos the room to show off how adult they are becoming, but I am trying to release the reins and let them fly on their own. Some days are harder than others, but you have to have faith in the universe to make itself right.

Last week it started to happen. A few days last week, I came home to hear from Lucas that he had gone running. He ran from our house to Franklin and back (just shy of 2 miles). No one prompted him to di it, he just slid on some shoes and took off. He was pretty proud of himself and posted on his facebook that he was "a workout warrior." Friday, while driving home I passed him as he took off down the hill towards Franklin. I gave him the high sign out my car window and nodded to myself with pride. My boy was running. Cool beans.

Over the weekend we talked a bit about routes, pacing strategies, building endurance. We discussed what I like to call the Pi Route, a 3.14 mile route around the neighborhood. He got lost in the description of street names and turns to take. I suggested I would show him the route sometime, not expecting him to be very interested in that.

Monday, I got home from work to find him at home, kind of antsy. Mike soon followed and Lucas gave me some needling about showing him my route. So we all got ready and off we went. I tried to explain the route to them, saying they were going to be faster than me so here are the directions. Lucas shook his head and denied he would be faster than me, but deep down I knew he would be. Lucas and Mike jogged with me a while, Lucas turning and running backwards, basically chugging it for my benefit.

Before long he and Mike were up ahead. I pushed myself to keep them in sight, able to hold about a half a block behind them for much of the way. I was determined to keep up so I pushed myself as hard as I could and kept moving. As Lucas crested the final big hill leading to home (the last 0.1 mile), I finally lost sight of him, able only to see his head bobbing up over the crest of hill occasionally if I kept speeding up a bit. As I crested the hill myself, I saw that Mike and Lucas were doubling back up that last 0.1 mile to run me in to finish. So there you have it- my boy ran his first 5K. And he smoked me, but was a class act enough to come back and run sweeper for his poky old mom.

Now I have a new goal. My kiddo has the running bug. He broke that first 5K barrier and will only keep getting faster (He did after all go from nothing to a 5K in less than 2 weeks of steady running.....). Lucas is my new pace bunny. I will work to build my own endurance and speed back up to keep him in my sights and never again lose him over the crest of a hill. It's pretty likely too lofty a goal, but just the same I am so proud to have been there for and influenced what is really the birth of a runner. He had the tools all along, he just needed that nudge to pull them out of his toolbox and figure out a way to use them. All by himself an grown-up-like.

It's ON now, pace bunny. Look out for momma.
Maybe you'll even take up cycling and swimming, then we can really play hardball!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Easy Button

SOOOO….. What now you might ask?

We are 2 weeks out from IMOO and I have just kinda been drifting through life, enjoying the unstructured nature of rest and recovery mode, perhaps a bit too much. It’s interesting what fills the hole where training has always been!

Looking ahead I have some loose plans for September 12, 2010:
a) Go faster (DUH!)
b) More run training
c) Lighten my load by about 30 pounds
d) Have just as much fun while moving more quickly

That’s it. What? You thought there would be more or more detail?? There will be, it’s early yet.
I am in the process of evaluating my options for how to accomplish a & b.
Wednesday, we have a meeting with Brent, a USAT Coach at the Sports Med Acceleration Program to talk about some strategic planning and what we might be able to do there without having to sell a kidney to finance some coaching. I am thinking more about doing a few short key training phases with him, not so much a full year of coaching and getting too spendy. Despite what my kids tell you, I am not made of money! I think we can swing it if we don’t get too out of control with our needs.

I am also combing the Internet looking for ideas for a training program to follow. Having followed one now for a whole year, I know which components were working for me and which ones I could use a different approach with. In past years’ half marathon and full marathon plans, I used Runners World training plans laid out in miles with goal paces based on my actual race times. Last year, I adapted an Iron-distance plan out of the Triathlete Magazine triathlon plan book. The problem that arose from that is that the plan was laid out in hours (time). As a slow, fat triathlete I found I really need to be told how FAR (miles) to go and not how long (time) to go. Mostly, this is because as a slave to the laws of physics (gravity, inertia, etc), I tend to do as much as the plan says and not much more. Sooooo…… if the plan says do 45 minutes of running, that’s what I do. For the 8-minute miler that means something much different than the 12.5-minute miler, but even knowing that I didn’t make an adjustment in my volume. So, to keep myself an honest woman, I need a plan measured in distance.

I have been at a plateau for while with my weight for far too long. Initially, I expected there to be a bounce back up from my all time low weight when I finished Dr Partello’s program as my body found it’s set point. I am now about 30 pounds above where I thought that set point should be and I am determined to get back there. Carrying around that extra “junk” takes its toll on my speed and endurance and it’s time for it to go away for good. We have a couple of bodybuggs (those little black things you see the contestants of the Biggest Loser wearing) on the way to help with calorie balance management, so we’ll see how that goes.

As far as the “have fun” part of my goals, Mike and I have talked a little about that too. For right now we are in negotiations with our son who works at Staples to find us some “Easy Buttons” . I am thinking maybe a little one to mount on my tri bike handlebars. Going up Midtown and Old Sauk Pass would sure be more fun …… And maybe we could carry a little one with us to the finish line and push it for Mike Riley? I envision him asking how it went, me pushing the button and the button says in its canned voice “That was easy!”

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm Not a Cream Puff Anymore

Let's get the guesswork out of the way. Yesterday I completed the Ironman Distance for the first time at IM Wisconsin. Mike and i decided a year ago to complete this race as a celebratory milestone - our 20th anniversary along with my 40th birthday. I finished the distance, but did not make the final 17 hour cutoff time. I finished up the run leg of 26.2 miles with a final time of about 17:40. Although I do not have an "official" finish time, I finished the distance, I crossed the finish line (as it was being torn down while waiting for me), I was handed a Finishers Tshirt and a Finishers medal, but I will be listed on the books as a DNF (Did Not Finish). But this day was about the journey- before, during, and beyond- not about an arbitrary line drawn in the sand somewhere in Hawaii in the 70's.

I thought I would be devastated not to make the cut off. I'm not. It may sound nuts but reflecting back, it was one of the best days of my life so far. I have been reduced to tears too many times to count in the past 24 hours, but they are joyful tears. Over and over and over, I was reminded or made aware for the first time of people that cared about us, how we were doing, and hoping for the happy ending to the fairy tale.

I could dissect my day ad nauseum for you, analyzing every little place where I went wrong or where I could have changed the outcome, and there were lots of them. I'm not going to though. I'll just share how my day went. You'll see where I'm going with this.

We arrived at 4:45, pumped bike tires, stocked transition bags with last minute wardrobe changes, and dropped our Special Needs bags off at the truck. Mike and I sat at the Terrace as we had a long time to wait for the start, trying to wrap our heads around the day. We laughed alot, I could tell Mike was nervous. Soon we ran into Phil, who was also participating, and CJ, who helped Mike bring down the stress level a notch. Mike spotted my mom and sister. Outside we saw Alison too. I was so glad to see so many important people in my life and know they were there. As we headed down the helix, it was so cool to see so many people we knew. They sent a shout out, gave us a hug, waved. Alison walked down with us, Mike Wolfgram had some last minute advice. Another blogger friend, Tiffany, came right out into the mix before we got in the water just to wish us well. It was amazing.

The Swim: 2.4 miles
The swim was pretty uneventful. I was worried about the mass start, the "washing machine." It was not bad at all. There were a lot of people-think about 2400- in the water with us, but it was not long before we were spread and could find our own little patch of water. I got beat up a little at the turn buoys, but otherwise uneventful. I was swimming next to the same guy most of the second loop who backstroked almost all of the loop and tried to swim over me several times. I thought about giving him a solid punch in the nuts to get him to go away, but I just let it go. :-)
After the start of the second loop I had to contain myself, I could hardly stop smiling. Every time I caught myself smiling my google leaked so I was working the hardest at containing the facial expressions so I didn't swamp my eyeballs. Not a bad problem to have if there must be one.

Transition (T1):
once out of the water, I looked over to Mike Reilly's booth and waved at the lady we met in the gift shop (more on that later.) Tiffany and her companion stripped my wetsuit (that was an experience!!) and off I ran up the helix to the gear room. I quickly grabbed my bike bag and headed to the change room to get help from a personal dresser (how cool is THAT!). Alison was there volunteering and she quickly scooped me up and got me changed and ready. She was awesome. Once dressed and ready, she gave me a huge hug and sent me on my way.
I headed out to the bike racks and saw more folks I know- Kari (trimama), Steve Knox who took my picture with his phone, and lots of others calling out. it was hard to weed out the voices of those I knew and those who were simply cheering.

Bike: 112 miles
As I set off down the helix and out onto the course, I felt like a million bucks. I couldn't have stopped smiling if I tried. I saw Erin with her Vislas along John Nolen and tried a wave. I said out loud to no one in particular, "this is awesome- you're going to be an ironman today."
As I rode along "the stick" I was biking strong and feeling great. It heads uphill somewhat, but I was in the small chainring, determined to keep a lid on the excitement and conserve. I felt like I was doing just that. I crossed over onto "the loop" and started my first loop. The feeling was incredible. There were people set up to spectate everywhere- in driveways, along roadsides, at corners, on hills. They were everywhere cheering, ringing cowbells, clapping, some in costume or blasting music from the back of someones truck or from someones porch. False flats, the long grind into Mt Horeb, the 3 "Bitch Hills" of Old Sauk Pass, Timber Lane, and Midtown? Not a problem, I sailed up them feeling like rock star. I heard my name called out over and over; the energy was palpable and I soaked up every bit of energy from it that I could.
My performance started to turn about 1/3 of the way through the second loop. I was still happy, but I was really heating up. I was wearing a helmet I was not used to wearing and it was black and not well vented. I started taking more water, was trying to keep up the calories and stay hydrated, but it was a formidable job. After the long, long grind into Mt Horeb-ble, I was feeling toasted. Near the top, I stepped off the bike and was feeling low. A guy at the corner got out of the passenger side of an SUV wearing a Chicago Police shirt grabbed the seat of my bike and told me "Get on, I am going to help you get going and I'll push you as far up this hill as I can." By the time I started the Bitches, i was very hot and tired and was starting to worry I might not make it back in time to make the 5:30pm bike cutoff. I saw my SWAT friends on Timber lane and they pumped me full of good karma and sent me on my way. They were pretty much the last of the spectators on a hill that was filled with people not that long ago. i asked if they thought I could make it back in time, and of course they said "Absolutely!!" but I knew my clock was ticking. I reached Midtown for the last time and as I turned the corner I had already decided I was going to walk that hill, that I didn't have it in me to ride it. I looked up and saw Lucas, Chelsea, my sister Michele and brother-in-law Jeff, with my favorite (:-) and only) nephew Jacob who ran along side me carrying a sign that read "Go Team Wimmer". They will never know just how much I needed that at that particular moment. I rode that hill because of them. About halfway up I stepped down for a couple seconds to catch my breath and re-group. A lady in a banana costume came up to me and said "Get on your bike, I'm running you up this hill right now." (True story, you just can't make this shit up - lol) And so, I was escorted up the remainder of the hill by a running banana.
Once over the hill, I used that energy to fuel my determination to make it to the Terrace by 5. As I had calculated many times, I knew I had to be done with the bike course and on the run before 5:00, hoping for 4:30 and be able to run 15min/mile to be in by midnight and make the cutoff. I hauled ASS back in on the stick, every time I looked at the Garmin I was at 20-21 mph. I flew back up the helix at about 5:10 and knew I was already behind and it would take the perfect storm of circumstances to pull it off. I saw my family again overlooking the bike timing mats and I gave them a wave and took off to get my bike gear off and the run gear on. I had work to do.

Transition (T2):
Alison met me at the door of the change room and pulled off the quickest transition on Earth. I needed that and I needed her and it made it all good. suited up, I headed on the run and again saw all of my crew. I got a big Jacob hug, I saw more of the awesome signs Lucas and Chelsea had made, and I saw that the had made Tshirts for this. I headed out and to my fate.

The Run: 26.2 miles
as I headed out back into the heat I knew I was behind the 8 ball, but I wasn't going to stop until they pulled my chip and packed me into the golf cart. I saw Jeff Hahn and Mike Wolfgram who had encouraging words and advice. I heard someone shout Jenny - way to go I'm the banana!" (that cracked me up.) My guts were full of Gatorade and Shot Blocks and I was feeling iffy. As I walked everyone in the crowd along the chutes through downtown was calling my name and cheering for me. I had no clue who most of them were or why they knew me. It took a while to know that most of them were just reading my first name off my bib number, so then I was listening for someone to call out Wimmer from the crowd. I walked as fast as I could, ran until I thought I would puke, and stopped the Gatorade and switched to Coke to settle my stomach, water, lots of ice, and cold sponges into my shirt to try to counter the heat. The heat was my biggest problem, with nutrition being second in line. I knew I needed to be under 15 min miles to make it and I was doing mostly 16s. I was too hot and sick to my stomach to push it faster. as the sun started to go down, I was hoping that was my shot to pick up the pace. I began running more and walking less, but it was a struggle as the walking was tightening up other muscles. I made the cutoff for the halfway point (9pm) back on State St with a little time to spare, but behind pace to finish. I teared a little bit, but there was no time to spare for a breakdown. I drew energy from those I knew on the run course at the time (Audrey, Angie, Brenda, Tina, Tiffany, and so many others). It never gets easier to reach the turnaround, see the finish chute ahead of you and turn to go the other direction.
I had to make the turnaround at other end of the course (mile 19ish) by 10:30 or they would pull me. Alison popped up every where- on her bike, along the walkway, on the path, on State at the final push to that next to last timing mat. With Alison and others along the course I made that cutoff with about a minute to spare, no time to waste. Mike Wolfgram appeared out of nowhere and walked with me. He pushed me as much as I could be pushed and said "you can do this- you need to do 13 min miles to finish." I knew that, I also knew that I had not done a 13 minute mile all day despite my best effort. I decided I was going to try as hard as I could at that point because he was there. everything hurt, I was cramping everywhere, my guts had stopped processing everything, and I wished I would puke but couldn't. I had had to pee for 6 miles but knew I did not have anytime to stop, even for 30 seconds. Mike walked with me the whole pathway in the dark by ourselves. He talked me of the ledge and kept me focused, quietly listening to my whining and redirecting my focus. Shortly I noticed a guy on a bike following me. I kept going, but soon told him that if they were going to pull me, to decide to do it in time for me to see Mike finish. Before long, Alison appeared again. She walked with me until I was approached by an IM guy who asked what I was going to do. I told them I knew I was not on pace and was not going to make the finish. He offered me the choice of riding the cart back or finishing on my own likely without course support and in the dark. I told him I was finishing what I started. Alison grabbed my hand and walked with me, told me she was walking it in with me, which she did. I found out later she had to work in the morning and felt terrible that she was out with me, but despite my encouragement she was there for the duration however long it took.
Eventually, we reached the capital square. Out of dark from nowhere, came my son Nick, who I didn't think was coming, followed by my mom. We walked to the chute which they left partially erected for me. All my family was there surrounding the finish- my dad, my sister, Jacob, Lucas, Chelsea, Mike, CJ & Phil, and Mike Wolfgram, with Nick, my mom, and Alison. I got some love in and was handed a medal and a Finishers hat and tshirt. It was amazing.

Connections Made and people who made my day yesterday or every day:
* On Saturday, I was chatting with a lady in the ironman store at the Terrace. Mike and I shared our story with her and she started crying and gave me a hug. She eventually introduced herself as Mike Reilly's ("The Voice of Ironman") assistant and said she'd be looking for us on race day. She hooted and hollered for me every time I saw her. How cool.
* When I went through Camp Randall the last time and was still struggling to make pace, I was greeted by one of the volunteers. She said "Are you Jenny Wimmer?" and told me she follows my blog. I wish I was together enough at that point to remember her name now but it escapes me. she walked with me around the football field and really lifted me up in a down moment. Again, how cool. If you read this, thank you, thank you, thank you.
*volunteers everywhere that were the best ever. No one is getting paid, yet everyone is asking, begging really, to help make you successful. The best volunteers on the face of the Earth, hands down.
* Mike Wolfgram, who was there all day. he was there for some of my lowest moments toward the end, and he left me only to go ahead to try to help Mike make the cutoff once we knew I was not going to get it done.
* My SWAT friends who were there every step of the way. They popped up everywhere all day. Awesome.
* My family- they were all there and it was amazing. I had no idea the amount of time they spent on the course, from start to finish. Not only did they put up with the crazies of training, but they were there all day, just to be there for us. Mike's mom was posting our updates all day through facebook even though she couldn't leave North Carolina. I have not said enough about any of them here, but I don't even know where to start.
* Alison Viemeister was there from beginning to end. it started with long training days all summer long and answering endless questions and calming nerves. This weekend she was Tri-Sherpa extraordinaire, seriously. She was the go-to person for my family of ironvirgins, she collected all our bags and our bikes while we were running, she was everywhere on the course somehow, especially on the run where she rode her bike ahead of us through the whole thing, stopping to encourage us, then riding ahead to be there again. she kept Mike's mom updated all day by phone, she even decorated my driveway the night before.
* Michelle Alswager, we went to HS together, ran in the same circles as acquaintances. Through chance connections she has become a lifesaver for me in this journey.
* Blogger and Facebook pals- There are so many people I have connected with and they all seem to be my biggest supporters. I was going to try to list them all out here, but I don't even know where to start there are so many. i love you guys, you are great.

This morning, we were again at Monona Terrace killing time while waiting to find out if we could snag a copy of the Athlete DVD. as I sat in a chair overlooking Lake Monona, I started reading through the Facebook updates from the day before. I had chills and tears streamed down my face as I read though them and the comments to follow. There were people posting comments and updates that I had NO IDEA even knew who I was, let alone cared how our day was going.

There are no words to express how much it meant to me to see people I knew, to receive words of encouragement yesterday and every day leading up to it. I didn't fully realize how wide my circle of friends was until now. Thank you for supporting me and thank you for your friendship. it means the world to me.

There is always the ongoing debate about who is REALLY an Ironman- the ones who go to Kona, the ones who go sub-12 hours, and so on it goes. I am not sure where my head is at with this. I didn't buy Finishers Gear today and the tattoo is on hold. I got the tshirt, I got the medal, the told me I was a finisher, but they didn't call me an Ironman. But I think in my mind, there will always be an asterisk next to today's finish. You know when you see something while reading and when you follow the asterisk to the bottom of the page there is a statement qualifying or justifying the word or phrase? That's how this feels. I am more of an alloy- one part iron, one part aluminum. This year, there is an asterisk by my name, next year that changes. Only next year, I would prefer that Mike Reilly address me as Iron Maiden.
It's time to do work.
Thank you for seeing me through one of the best days of my life.
I have pictures to post, but that will have wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And so the Waiting Begins....

So IMWI is just about upon us. The taper is beginning, the worry is setting in. I ask myself did I do enough? Did I work hard enough? Was the training plan right? Can I make the cutoffs? Can I do the work on race day? I think over my work for the past year or more and pick apart the days where I cut things short or went too slow or did what was fun instead of what I needed and wonder if it will come back to haunt me. Does anyone but me even care about this? Will anyone even be paying attention besides me on September 13th?
At this point, it is what it is, it’s too late to change things.

The Swim:
Swam the Madison Open Water Swim Challenge last weekend, which happens to be in Lake Monona on the actual IMWI swim course. It was training so I didn’t go hell bent for election, but rather wanted a feel for the distance in open water. I finished the 2.4 mile swim it in 1:43. I was hoping to be in by 1:30, so that was a little disappointing to be honest. Lets hope I can shave off some time at the big show, which serves only to give me more time on the bike. I can make this time cutoff easily, but all time spent lollygagging here could bite me later.

The Bike:
I am really sweating the bike, and I don’t know why. I have let the challenging hills of the course get into my head a little and psych me out I think. Sunday, we were supposed to get in our last 100 miler, which I was really thinking would get me a confidence boost. It was not to be however as I got called in to work and had to give up my long ride AGAIN. Now I am left wondering where I am going to fit in a hundred during my taper and if that is even possible.
The hills on the IM course are just a bitch, simply put. Unrelenting ups and downs, twists and turns that get in my head and take me to dark places where the voices whisper to me “you can’t do this” .. “it’s too hard”.. “you are a cream puff and you aren’t fooling anyone…” Dark places and dark thoughts are a definite risk here.
If I do what the voices in my head tell me to do, then getting done before the 5:30pm cutoff will be a struggle. Getting in before 4:30pm (my ultimate goal) will be damn near impossible. I think my biggest challenge will be keeping my mind right and not letting those bad boys wear on my psyche.

The Run:
I hate running this year. I am frustrated with being DFL at every running event I do over a 5K and I am just getting tired of it. There are a few days here and there that feel easy and fun, but they are far too few and far between to maintain my motivation to do it more often or better. Part of it has to do with the extra 30 pounds I am carrying around, part of it has to do with procrastinating in this discipline, and some of it has to do with me not putting forth the effort I know I should to improve. One of my biggest struggles this year is that my master plan the I adapted from the Triathlete Magazine Plan book uses minutes as a means of making workout assignments for the run, not using miles. I know for a fact that my 13-14 min/mile pace is not the norm and that this plan is probably geared more towards a 8-10 minute mile pace. And yet I am still doing 47 minutes if the book tells me to, instead of adjusting the distance to better fit where I am at and doing what should really be more like 60 or 70 minutes when it calls for 47.
Bottom line here is that if I can make it off the bike by 4:30, I can walk/slog the run in by midnight. If I am much later than that, I will have to do more running than walking. If I don’t make the bike cutoff, I can go eat some pizza and cry in my beer.

The next 18 days will be where I work on my mental fitness as I taper physically. Positive thoughts, visualization techniques and positive self-talk will abound. I CAN do this. I WILL do this. I need to believe in myself.
I’ll be reading a lot of articles and sweeping negativity out of my head.

And I’ll be enjoying watching my kid kick butt all over the football field when I need a little distraction.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

IMWI 2009 Spectators Guide

**I have this in a Word document, but can't seem to figure out how to post it or share it publicly. If you want the document in Word, email me and I will send it.

Spectator Guide
Wimmers Do Wisconsin
September 13, 2009

Mike Wimmer ~ Athlete #
Jennifer Wimmer ~ Athlete

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: 8:45 AM.
Jenny : 8:30 AM (about 90 minutes @ 2:15/100)

T1 swim to bike transition: wetsuit stripping and run up the helix into the Terrace and dress for the bike
Roughly 10 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, 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 (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
· 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.

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. If you are in the mood for pizza, I’ve heard that Avanti’s pizza is quite good. If 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 minutes to change clothes/shoes

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

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 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 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 my wish list and sizes J

Tracking your Athlete:
They have computers available in the Terrace where you can check the athlete tracker on (click on Ironman Live and it’s in the lower left) and type in our numbers if you lose track of us – or if you can’t make it. 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 fo the race and the finish line.

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!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spririt of Racine Half Ironman - Random Thoughts and Ramblings

What can I say about SORT? This was my third Half Iron Distance event and the second time I have completed this particular course. I have been calling this a catered training day all summer, so I really didn't put a lot of thought into planning this day or strategizing. My goals for this day were simple:
* Better last years time for this course
* Try not to be DFL (That would be dead freaking last to the uninitiated, yo)
* Get an idea where I need to expend the greatest effort in the last 8 weeks of training for IMoo.
This year, we opted to stay in Janesville and commute the 80ish minutes to the expo and the race. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel getting nervous, we didn't have to leave our home vulnerable to the big ideas of teenage boys home alone on a weekend, and we got to sleep in my own bed instead of tossing and turning in a cruddy hotel bed. Although it made for a lot of time in the car, overall I think it was a good move this year. Except for the nearly an hour we spent in a traffic jam outside Alpine Valley caught up in concertgoers for the Dave Matthews Band, that was a little rough...
The race itself? Overall, I'm feeling pretty good. The swim was point to point with the current, so it felt really fast. In Google Earth, it measured 1.1 miles instead of 1.2 miles, but whatever - it was close. it will be tough to compare to last year because last year there were fog and cold issues with Lake Michigan an the course was moved in at the last minute and was way short. this year, it took off farther up the beach and ended further down the beach, so was longer than last year. The buoys were placed close enough to shore that it was about waist to chest deep through out which prompted a lot of people walking instead of swimming.
My swim wave was huge, and I mean GINORMOUS! They sent off a group of women that included all women 35 and older and Athenas. We counted up from the results that that meant our wave was over 250 women. It felt like a mob scene and I actually had to stop and collect myself 3 times when I got punched (PUNCHED!!!) in the face by other swimmers. I swam over people and swam over myself. At one point I took a forward stroke and ended up punching another lady square in the crotch.......that couldn't have felt good.
actually, i think this was a good experience because it was good practice for the in-water mass start for IMWI known affectionately as the "Washing machine." I now know I ca take a solid punch and keep going.
The Bike? I felt awesome on the bike. Sweet Lucy didn't let me down at all. I remember last year thinking people were crazy for calling this a flat course, and this year I really did fl like it was a FLAT course. There were just a couple of hills to conquer. I stayed in the big chainring the whole time and just hammered it as fast as I could.
The drafting packs I saw coming at me from the previous waves and fast riders were pretty ridiculous. I can't imagine if you got swallowed up by one of the peletons it would be easy to break free as they were big and fast. Being more toward the back of the pack, I had not a lot to worry about from a drafting POV. I lost time at the 45 mile water station when i stopped to pee, but it had to be done. Pulling up sweaty spandex bike shorts is no easy feat!
The Run? Here is where I identified my weakness as if I didn't already know. Once off the bike, i could not motivate myself to make my legs hurt enough to run. Could not make myself do it. First I was going to just walk a half mile and start running, then it was a mile, then I would take a couple blocks of running and peter out. I saw Jen Brady pass me early on starting her second loop and she was running like a freaking gazelle. I watched person after person fly by me as I tried to muster the weakest of shuffles. I knew at some point I would pass Alison, and then Mike, and then Phil so I tried to run until I saw them so they wouldn't see me walking. What happened in actuality was as soon as I saw them in the distance, I would start to run and then I would stop for a "walk break" that lasted until I saw the next SWATtie coming along and then the fake out would begin again. Pretty sure I was fooling no one but myself, but whatever.
This is a double out and back half marathon course, much like her big sister IMWI. For those that don't know, you go out a quarter of the distance, turn around and comeback a quarter of the distance, go to about 50 yards of the finish line and turn around to start the second half of the half marathon and do it all again. Last year, I got all weepy at the turnaround by the finish line and this year was no different. I cannot express how heartbreaking it is to see the finish line and know you are only HALF done. And to make it worse, people are shouting "you're almost there" and "way to finish!" and any number of encouraging finisher phrases because they don't know you are not headed to the finishers chute.
This is where I wish I had family or friends that were actually interested in spectating these events. it would be such a lift to have some say "you're doing great, we love you, and we can't wait for you to get back here!" or better yet, to be out on the course (which is decidedly sparser once most of the field has finished their second loop) and offer encouraging words that are meaningful.
I go to a very dark place on these second lonely loops. You see a lot of people you don't know saying things that sound trite and disingenuous but are intended to be encouraging. it really does the opposite to me. I hear someone say "Looking good!" and I struggle to smile and have to stifle a "Bite me."
Once I got to the the second turnaround for the final 5K, I begin to count the number of people who are behind me and calculating a) whether I would make the cutoff time and b) how many runners were behind me, who looked like they would have started with me or after me on the swim (basically old women, fat women, and old men), and how likely they were to catch up to me and beat me to the finish. I counted 11 people behind me. That doesn't mean they were slower than me necessarily as they could have started later, but they were behind me at any rate giving the illusion of besting them.
So, the run was mostly a walk. I knew Phil was walking up ahead of me about a mile ahead after the first 5K, and I tried for a while to catch up to him, but since he is about 10 feet tall with legs up to his neck, i just could not get it done.
Funny thing:
*On the run, I stopped to use a potty at an aid station. I opened the door to find some tall guy standing at the urinal with his pecker in his hands. I shut the door quick and then had to stand there and wait, then look him in the face when he came out of the john....... Had I not been so tired I would have been able to come up with something funny to say, but honestly WHO doesn't know how to lock the door behind them in a unisex portapotty??
*one of the things I chanted to myself on loop 2 was "You can all kiss my double out and back ass." Like a mantra, over and over. In hindsight, inappropriate and kind of weirdly funny. Glad there was no one around to hear THAT!
* On my last pass through the aid station, a teenage girl held up a huge tray of Oreos. I grabbed some in both hands said "I LOVE you!" and pecked her on the cheek. Pretty likely she thought I was crazy.
What comes next:
*I was not DFL. But I definitely need to spend some time on the run miles. Apparently, not running more the 5-10 miles a week since a half marathon in May did not prepare me to run a half at the end of a HIM. Who knew?
* Ride that IM course several more times. Learn where I can turn it on and where I need to conserve myself.
*Figure out the nutrition thing for going long. I didn't eat nearly enough and had no plan for meeting my calorie needs which had a lot to do with running out of gas on the run. I wasn't bonking, but I was not fueled right either.
(We stopped on the way home at Rocky Rococos for the Muy deliciouso, Batman.)
The numbers:
last year: 37:25 (1219/1379- 88%)
this year: 34:17 (1107/1206- 91%)
net effect: 3:08 faster
last year: 3:32:52 - 15.8 mph (1363/1379- 99%)
this year: 3:17:29 - 17mph (1108/1196- 92%)
net effect: 15:59 faster, moved forward in the pack by 7%
last year: 3:15:29 - 14:55 min/mi (1362/1379)
this year: 3:22:30 - 15:28 min/mi (1174/1176)
net effect: 37 seconds per mile slower, lost 7:01
last year: 7:37:50 (1367/1379)
this year: 7:22:58 (1164/1176)
net effect: 14:52 faster overall improvement, but improvements on the swim were cancelled out by regression on the run.
We got work to do - Toughen Up Buttercup!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trek Triathlon- Pleasant Prairie

JANESVILLE, WI Age: 40 Gender: F

Distance: Short Course
Clock Time 01:42:03
Overall Place 1181 / 2544
Division Place 32 / 74
Swim 00:15:24
Swimrank 389
Trans1 00:04:23
Bike 00:37:40(Mph 19.1)
Bikerank: 204
Trans2 00:03:08
Runrank: 2120
Run 00:41:27 (Pace00:13:22)

Up at 3:30 AM to drive to Kenosha area (OUCH!!). Got parked, walked to the Rec Plex, set up transition and got ready for takeoff. (Special thanks to Jeff for 1-going back to the car for my sunglasses and 2- hailing the Trek rep to get my race wheels pumped up when I could only figure out how to let air OUT of them which was not really helpful.... SUPER SHERPA award goes to him, hands down!)

The 3:30 wakeup call was a problem in the pre-race "routine" ....... could have easily resulted in one of these ----------------->
but managed to overcome the feeling when I looked at the portapotty line that was easily 200 people deep.... LOL.
Swim went well, passed through at least 3 colors of previous waves and managed some trick maneuvers in noodle dodging.

Bike course? Flat and fast, finished up with the 700 number women (I was 1369). Felt like a fricking rocket, smiled the whole time.

Run? Flat course, had zero gas left, lost all ground gained on the bike and probably more. My running sucks, it is what it is....*sigh*.

Great weekend, had fun with my sisters, who did awesome! would love to do something different with them next year!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Sometimes I am left wondering about my attachment to reality. I know you are shocked to hear that (not I have gone from a life of relative inactivity to the opposite extreme, and yet I still find myself feeling like a total sloth when I compare myself to the people I surround myself with socially. And by socially I mean some pretty hardcore, driven triathlete type people. People who get up early to swim or workout, bike all the time, and who give you shit if you take a rest day that wasn't on the plan because you are tired, it's rainy, or life got in the way a bit. I can always seem to find a way to compare myself to these folks and feel inferior to their skill or their perseverance.

Is that really reality?

Once in a while I get a snippet of how "regular people" see me and what I do. A few months back, Mike was bantering around with some of Lucas's friends on Facebook, talking to them about how he was willing to help them organize a summer running group. Justin referred to us as "the running gods of Janesville." As in Mike and I. Running.GODS. ....... Really? My first thought was that the poor child really should get out more and meet some folks. Most days I don't feel particularly god-like. Chugging Freight Train, maybe. Not a God.

Tonight, I was kicking myself for going for dinner and postponing a scheduled run. We ran into someone who works in the same building as Mike. He introduced to his wife, who said "Oh, you guys are THE Athletes." It really took a lot to stifle a big giggle. She called me an ATHLETE! Ha! As is athletic..... as in skilled, fast, maybe nimble even....... An.Athlete. Interesting, since I really have a hard time classifying what I do as athletic. It is slow, sometimes painful, almost always slower than those around me, hardly what I would call athletic. But I guess it is a matter of perspective and what you see as your own reality. I surround myself with people I consider athletes so that I can learn from them, draw motivation from them, and hope that someday, somehow I can achieve 1/10th their speed, strength, and stamina. But to someone who has more contact with mere mortals and not superhero types? maybe, just maybe, I might qualify to be way far in the back of the pack of what might be called athletes........

OK, you can call me an athlete, but you have to use air quotes when you say it, that's the new rule.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson

Well folks, it's been a while since I've done much posting here instead of snarky comments on Facebook. Sorry for that. I brew up some great blog posts out on my long runs and rides, but somehow life gets in the way and I just don't find the time in the day to put those thoughts into the written word.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what people can achieve. It seems it was not that long ago that I found myself making excuses for why I couldn't possibly do things. Going for a walk with my dogs, hopping on a bike, losing 20 pounds, doing anything active or social was pretty much out. I was plagued with excuses.... too much to do for work, too much stress in my life to participate in life rather than watch, too much I had to manage for my kids, my home, my job, my yard, my everything. "I can't," "I won't," "I'll never" were integral parts of my vocabulary.

What I've learned over the past few years, is that the only thing that holds a person back from achieving anything is the restrictions they place on themselves in their own mind.

As I was running tonight, my mind wanders. I was trying to find the motivation to keep moving and found myself repeating the same idea over and over to keep going. "You can do anything for a minute," which quickly became "for a block," "for a mile," and "until you get home." I bargain with myself a lot that way, gutting it out to the next goal and then setting new ones. I think really that is the key - setting your mind on a goal and realizing that your mind is what holds you back, not your body. My friend Alison's go-to phrase in Ironman training is "Forward is a Pace" and I find applications for that mantra almost every day.

Often I find myself in conversations with people about how I got to where I am today. I don't solicit this, because really I am still a little awkward about discussing it and the attention it brings. In my mind, it really isn't so special - anyone could do it if they were in the right frame of mind. But, with that said, if someone wants to pick my brain or find motivation, I want to encourage others to achieve for themselves. People ask how much weight I lost. When I respond with the truth - 185 pounds lost initially- I start to hear the excuses. They say "I could never do that because (insert reason)..." They ask about my training, then tell me how they could never do that because they have bad knees, bad backs, asthma, smoke too much, smoked too many years, or any other of a variety of "I can'ts."

I struggle for the right responses to this. It seems rude to tell them to stop making excuses, but really that is what I feel would be in their best interests, someone to shock them into changing their frame of reference. My response is often that it's not so special, anyone could do it if they put their mind to it..... and I honestly believe it's true.

So for the future, I think my advice will be to change your vocabulary. You aren't on a diet, you are changing your lifestyle. You aren't training for an event, you are training for your life. You need to take "can't", couldn't", and "never" out of your vocabulary, it closes your mind and only holds you back from your possibilities. Change the way you look at things - think about how you could make something happen, not about how you could NEVER make something happen.

You can't run? Fine, then walk. Can't walk? Stroll! Can't stroll? Then crawl. Can't swim laps? Do the dog paddle, go water walking, or whatever. Do what you can and make the most of it, the only thing holding you back is your mind telling you to stop, or worse that you shouldn't even start. it's a in your head and how you think about things.

You've got to start somewhere so it might as well be here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tour de Cure

next month Mike and I will be riding in the Tour De Cure ride in honor of our neice Sarah.
Here is the link to the page describing our story. (and Mike's page)

Juvenile Diabetes affects so many young lives. We want to see a cure, not just a means of managing this disease. If you can help us with a pledge, large or small, it would be appreciated. If you aren't able to help, please donate your time, write a letter to support funding, say a prayer, or whetever you can find within you to help JDRF.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

Learning to blog from the Blackberry

We just found that we can upload. Blog posts from the phone. How cool is that?
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

It's business time, people!

What can I say? Its been a while since I have felt much like putting more than a few smart-mouthed comments on my Facebook page and really getting down to business.

I am currently in the last couple days of week 3 of Ironman training, which is going pretty uneventfully. I have managed to get in almost every workout, with the exception of a few swims which is directly related to a distinct lack of pool availability rather than a motivational deficiency.

I have missed only 1 run, which I think is nearly miraculous since I can find every excuse in the book not to run. I am not not fast by any means, but my big fat butt is out there pounding the pavement on a regular basis. At 14 miles per hour most of the time, which incidentally is about as fast as most people walk. Gotta start somewhere eh?

After reaching an all time high for my weight after my initial weight loss 4 years ago, I am now trending down again. Mike and I have our own version of the Biggest Loser Challenge going, complete with weekly weigh ins and last chance workouts. I of course relish any opportunity to create Excel spreadsheets with formulas and auto-calculations, so that was yet another way for me to put my mad computer skills to work. So far I am down 18 pounds in 5 weeks (next weigh in is tomorrow) with another 20 or so to go. I have even managed to win 2 of the 5 weeks.

I have spent the last week on vacation. We didn't go anywhere, but I needed to take some time off from work for my mental health, and Mike's mom was here for a visit. I think I am full up on my shopping quota for the moment. We had a great visit!

Today we took a short bike with several of the ladies from the tri club (Alison, Kitty, Brenda, Tawnya, and Mike and I). We did a loop of the old Janesville Triathlon route, which was a good mix of rolling hills and wind. We managed to get back to Kitty's just as it started to rain. We are supposed to go on a ride tomorrow in Brodhead, but who knows- it's supposed to rain all day. If that doesn't pan out, we will go to Edgerton to swim at the high school and maybe get in a run (I have 1800m swimming and a 10 mile run on the plan).
Monday is back to work and back to reality. Fitting in all I need to do for work and all I need to do to get my workouts in, be a mom, manage a house, take care of the pups, and managing everything else life throws at ya. It's time to get down to the business of being Supergirl. It's Business Time, Peeps!!
148 days til Ironman Wisconsin
(but who's counting??)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My mom says I don't blog enough lately...

My jet-setting parents would like me to blog more so they can keep tabs on me from Central America. I am having trouble mustering up much that is blogworthy since I have entered the crackhouse that is Facebook..........

I'm working on it mom. Hopefully I put something together soon but for now I hear that I can now Facebook from my Blackberry....I'll be checking THAT out tomorrow.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Totals

OK, well 2008 started out pretty good, and then kinda fizzled out.
Got in a marathon in early summer which burnt me out on running for quite a while. Then came training for 2 half Irons within a month of each other, as well as a couple of other minor events just for fun.
After that came the IMWI hoopla and excitement. Next thing you know, I am just kinda sailing without a training plan and doing whatever I felt like doing, which ended up being a fat lot of nothing much and piddling around.
by the time December had rolled around and I was feeling a bit more into it, my body quit cooperating. I spent most of the month with a cold, then a cough, then what was some sort of freaky ear issue. The Urgent Care doctor that insisted that the reason I couldn't hear and that my ear was feeling like it was going to explode from pain and pressure was a wax impaction (RANT: um, WRONG! I did not get to be almost 40, an experienced nurse and mother, and a reasonably smart person by not recognizing when I need to flush my ears with peroxide instead of spending $200 have a doctor pressure wash my eardrum with his magic potion of, get some wax out of my ears. The problem was a little bigger than that I think and it ended up resolving on it's own in the following 2 weeks).
So anyway, in a year where I was on track to far exceed the numbers form the year before, I fizzled out into a lackluster finish. **SIGH**
Final numbers:
Swim: 64.51 miles (2008: 32.93) .... 41hrs, 13.53 min
Feeling pretty good about that number. I spent a lot of time in the spring working on swimming when I was having ITB issues to rest it from running.
Run: 431.49 miles (2008: 594.88) .... 106 hrs, 15.27 min
I really lost my motivation to run this year. First injury, then I just couldn't seem to gain the ground back that I wanted to and I struggled. Alot.
Bike: 1750.23 miles (2008: 1885.7).......84hrs, 32.22 min
It got colder earlier this year so I got fewer rides outside and haven't spent nearly as much time as I needed to in the trainer as I should have I guess. I am surprised at this number actually.
Also of note here is the time I spent doing alternative cardio (videos etc), stretching, yoga, and pilates in the early Spring. The time spent there was significant as I tried to heal my IT Band, and then moving forward through the year.
Overall, I suspect the time spent (over 232 hours in 2008, and I can't get the report to run for 2007) is probably about the same from 08 to 09 as a much larger volume of time was spent in the pool, but I am still disappointed overall. Rather than kick myself, it's just time to get moving forward int he new year.
What's next:
*Take off the 35 pounds that crept back on this year (WTF!!!! Where did that come from? )
*Train for IMWI in September. I think this will also show an increase in my total mileage for 2009 as the volumes needed to be successful almost require it.
*Find a few races to do in the meantime that are fun and will keep my motivation going.
*Finsh my training plan and work the plan without finding excuses not to follow it.
Oh Yeah, in case I forgot to mention it today......
253 Days to Ironman Wisconsin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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