Archive for October, 2008

Result: 7.7 miles in 1 hr 24 min

My goal today was 7.7 miles in 1hr 28 minutes and I beat that by 4 minutes with my awkward run/walk style. Not being able to run the whole way really bugs me, but I am able to set a pretty good pace, still, given the distance. My goal for the half in December is to finish in no more than 2.5 hours. So far, I am on track for doing that. However, my miles got slower and slower today so I definitely need to factor in fatigue and distance and be realistic about my time.


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3 miles – run/walk – about 40 minutes although I did not take my watch/heart rate monitor

Took two days off from exercise (and got a fantastic massage!) but time to get back to work. Next event is a half-marathon run in Tucson on December 7. Given that my longest distance of late is 6.5 miles, I need to get moving (hahhaha) and up my distance so I can feel pretty good for the race.

Yesterday’s massage worked a lot of kinks out of my tight hamstring, so I felt better when I ran/walked three miles today. Friday I will bump my mileage up to 8 miles so we’ll see how things go then.

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I write this evening with a heavy heart and a contemplative mind. News reached me today of the sudden death of a colleague at my former school. My confusion upon reading the news was confounded by my misreading of the Subject Line. What I thought said, “Congratulations” actually said “Condolences”. I had to close the email and read the subject line again to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

My interactions with Phil were regularly infrequent if that makes sense. Once a week I visited a satellite campus to provide technology assistance to my fellow faculty there. Many of those trips I had lunch with Phil as we ended up in the break room at the same time. I remember that he would pack a sandwich and some chips in a little ice chest. We would eat together quietly and chat about this or that.

During one of our conversations, I learned that Phil had never tasted sushi. In fact, he had not heard good things about the cuisine and was hesitant to try. But, I finally talked him into going with me to a local sushi place that I thought was pretty good. When we got there, I gave him the full introductory tour. He learned to use chopsticks, ate a few pieces of a sushi roll, and even tried some sashimi (ahi tuna, I believe). We begged off the saki as we had to return to work, but I bet he would have tried that, too. The whole time we were there he kept talking about how much he enjoyed the food and how he never thought he would try it.

There is a word in Japanese that is said with great gusto and means, “delicious”. That word is “Oishii”. When I think of Phil and that day at the sushi place, I think of “Oishii” as everything for him that day was truly delicious.

Good night, Phil. Rest well and pass easily on to the next adventure. You have given me a great lesson and that is to taste each minute of each day and exclaim, “OISHII!”.

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So, I finished. And, I finished in approximately the time I had hoped (3.5 hours). Turns out the bike course was 5 miles longer than it was supposed to be. I thought maybe my odometer was off, but someone else mentioned it as well. The bike was almost 32 instead of 27.

What did I get? Well, I got the very cool finisher’s medal shown above. On the back it says “FINISHER SOMA TRIATHLON TEMPE, ARIZONA”. I got the opportunity to compete in (well, complete) a very well organized and supported race (thanks again to all the volunteers and the directors and organizers!). I got to swim in Tempe Town Lake (yeah!).

But, more than the items above, I got from this event what I always get from these types of things and that is a sense of amazement and wonder at all the people who work so hard and train so hard to achieve a goal. You don’t just get up off the couch and do one of these events (well, some people do and I hope I at least passed some of them). You train, you sacrifice, and you work hard. And in the end (for us mere mortals) people don’t do these kinds of things to win races. They do them to succeed at something they committed to and worked hard for and, for many of them, thought they couldn’t do. So, a big “CONGRATULATIONS” to all competitors in the SOMA Triathlon today. You all did a great job. Can’t wait until next year (where I WILL be doing the half Ironman).

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7:42 am – The horn sounded for my wave (12 of 12) in the swim, and before I knew it I was swimming madly in a sea of frothing arms and legs headed East toward the Mill Avenue bridge. There’s something about the start of a race that catches you and sweeps you up into a series of “moment by moment” experiences and this race was no different. All I could think about was a) not drowning due to getting smacked in the head or kicked in the face and b) keeping my line as straight as possible to avoid “bonus distance”. I managed to accomplish both of these tasks and made my way around the course.

Swimming in Tempe Town Lake was not as bad as I thought it would be. In spite of the occasional “questionable floating lake particle” that I inhaled or the infrequent and unintended gulps of water, swimming in the lake was not really an issue (guess I need to wait a few weeks to see if any of those unintended gulps contained critters that should NOT be in my body!).

8:09 am – After approximately 27 minutes of mostly freestyle swimming, I exited the lake with the help of the “lake puller” volunteers. Up the stairs and down the carpet, I headed to the waiting “wetsuit pullers”. These volunteers have the fun job of helping the athletes strip their wetsuits off their bodies as quickly as possible. As you are running, you reach behind your back and pull your zipper then slip your arms out of the wetsuit sleeves. As you approach a volunteer, you sit down and they do the rest of the job for you. THANK YOU WETSUIT STRIPPERS!

With wetsuit in hand, I headed into the transition area. As the prize money for first place was nowhere in my sites, time was not a serious issue. So, I had some Hammer Gel, drank some water, put on my socks and shoes, visited the porta john (yes, again), put on my helmet, glasses, and gloves, and ran across the transition area to the “bike mounting” area.

8:14 am – On the bike now and ready to ride, I made a right turn out of the Tempe Beach parking lot and then hit the sharp curve of Rio Salado Parkway. The bike course was very convoluted and had lots of regular turns and U-turns. I am sure that designing a course that winds its way through downtown Tempe is not the easiest thing to do, so I can appreciate the task of the race directors. I must say, though, that the course was extremely well marked and monitored and there were many, many times I just “put my head down and rode”. What a great feeling after all the miles training and commuting with traffic and lights to deal with

“BB” the wonder bike gave a stellar performance as I was able to maintain an 18.6 mph average for the course. I passed lots and lots of people on the bike and was, of course, passed by lots and lots as well. Passing during a triathlon is tricky business as drafting is not allowed. Each person has an invisible box around them and when your box touches another athlete’s box, you have to pass in 15 seconds or incur a 4 minute drafting penalty. In a race with narrow lanes (online in a few places) and 1800+ riders, timing is critical. All the riders were great, though, and I did not see any accidents or abuse by the athletes. Vehicular traffic, however, was another matter as a couple of impatient folks actually turned onto the course in front of oncoming bikes. I guess they just couldn’t wait and didn’t really understand that a race was in progress.

9:57 am – I finished up the bike a little later than I had calculated and headed in for the second transition. Not looking forward to the run, I took my time. After another snack and some NUUN water, I exited the transition area and started on the run course.

10:06 am – I very quickly realized there was no way for me to run the entire 6.5 miles. In addition to being pretty burned from the bike, a nagging hamstring injury reared its ugly head. So, I resigned myself to a staggered running/walking pace. I am not a runner, but when I actually run I can keep a good pace just not for very long. So, I started running 100 paces and walking 50. Then, I went to 50 running and 25 walking. At some point I switched to 50 running and 50 walking. At any rate, I passed lots of people (well, some people) and TONS of people passed me. But, I still finished in 1 hour, 19 minutes which is nearly a 12 minute mile pace. I figured that was not too bad given I walked probably half the distance.

11:20 am – Finally crossed the finish line and took a big lunge through the Slip & Slide optional exit. With 93+ degree temps out, that water sure felt good!

See SOMA Triathlon – Results Writeup – Part 3 to finish up…

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  • Swim: 27 minutes
  • Transition 1: 5 minutes
  • Bike: 1 hr, 43 minutes
  • Transition 2: 4 minutes
  • Run: 1 hr, 19 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 37 minutes

Read on if you want the details….

SOMA Quarter Ironman Race – 2008 – Tempe Town Lake

2:45 am – Saturday evening I set my alarm for 3 am hoping to rise early and eat a bit before heading down to Tempe around 4:45. Trouble is, my alarm automatically adjusts for time changes and apparently, somewhere, there was such a change last night. I woke at what my clock said was 1:45 but what hubby’s said was 2:45. Realizing that now my alarm would do me no good, I got up and groggily shuffled into the kitchen.

3:15 am – Breakfast of champions ensued: scrambled eggs, cheese, tortilla, juice, coffee. I knew I would use a lot of calories today so wanted to get as many in me as early as possible with time for digestion.

4:45 am – After checking and rechecking my bags and equipment and clothes and food and reading Bicycling magazine articles about the return of Lance Armstrong (GO LANCE!), I gathered up all my things and drove down to Tempe. Parking near the Beach Park was impossible, so I had planned ahead and packed all my things in a nice rolling bag. Bumping along in the dark with my bike pump in one hand and the roller-bag hitting the back of my foot, I wondered what kind of craziness it takes to be up this early for a race.

5:00 am – Arrived at the transition area and stood in a long line of competitors waiting to get in. Rock music blared from the speakers nearby as a cheerful announcer worked his way down a list of announcements. Over 1800 people were racing today and lots of them were here already. I bumped my way to the far side happy to see my bike had made it through the night unharmed.

5:15 am – All my gear is ready and placed in strategic locations next to my bike. Tires are aired up and the bike looks ready to go. Great! I just have 2.5 hours to wait until my wave (the last one) of the swim start. (Jeopardy music plays in the background…the guy next to me is also standing there waiting having arrived even earlier than I did). “Well,” I said in his general direction. “Guess I’ll go stand in line for the porta-john and do something productive.”

5:30 am – Back from my task and standing once again in front of my bike and all my gear. Feeling glad now that I did come early as I watched the guy next to me blow a tube and race to get it changed before the race. If something had been amiss, I was there in plenty of time to deal with it.

5:31 am – Adopting the pose of the thinking man as I rested my chin on my fist. My biggest quandary at the moment was how much gear to take with me out of the transition area which was closing at 6:15.



5:45 am – After standing around for a few minutes and checking everything over yet again, I made my way out of the transition area and acquired a seat along the concrete bench next to the lake. I wanted to be front and center when the first wave began (6:30) to see how people negotiated the entry and exit.

6:25 am – Still waiting for the first wave to begin. Took a decent photo of the sun starting to rise of Tempe Town lake.



6:45 am – Hubby and I finally made contact. I began the arduous process of putting on my Zoot Fusion wetsuit (inhale, grunt, tug, pull, don’t use fingernails, repeat with next small section). When I bought the thing in Idaho last summer, I had to try on three of them to find the one that fit. Took me 15 minutes to get in and out of each one. But, was it worth it. The suits are amazing and provide a level of buoyancy not to be believed unless you have experienced it firsthand.

7:00 am – Done with wetsuit and ready for another 20 minutes of standing around. In the first wave of swimmers, someone finished the .6 miles in a mere 11 minutes. Bikers streamed quickly out onto the bike course behind me.

7:20 am – Headed over to the line of Quarterman athletes standing in waves to enter the water. Before I know it, the line moved and we inched toward the shoreline. Goggles on securely then it was my turn to get in the lake. I must say that swimming in Tempe Town Lake was the part of the race I was least looking forward to. Given the odoriferous nature of the West and East ends of the lake and the green scum floating around the edges (not to mention the dead rat I saw in the lake last week), jumping into and inhaling even a drop of that water was the last thing on my list of fun things to do. But, I put my mind in Lemming mode and headed into the brink. Entry into the lake was not at all shocking. In fact, the water felt warmer than the air around it and the wetsuit did the trick. I stroked slowly over to the green starting buoy. The biggest issue for me at the moment was the dire need to empty my bladder. There was no time while standing in line previously and the fluids I tanked up on earlier were knocking on the door to get out. I floated away from the others and tried to relax without success. [Note…if you are ever in an open water swim, watch for the swimmers who seem to be “just floating” and steer clear!] Finally, I was able to complete my task and none too soon as the horn sounded for our takeoff.




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Packet is picked up and bike is stored in the transition area. BB (that’s the bike by the way) is resting and ready to race and so am I!

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