Monday, December 29, 2008



Give me 'til New Year's, kiddies.

It's not that I'm busy. Just highly unmotivated.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Check it out

Love these spinning bikes. Where can I get one?

Women riding exercise bikes at Krylatskoya Physical Fitness Clinic. Moscow, Russia, 1989.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lesson Learned: Always Look First

It's snowy outside. We probably have about 3" of accumulation. And for Wisconsin, Colorado, or Boston, that's nothing. But here it is a big deal.

So it was a big deal when I decided that running 10 miles on a treadmill simply would not do and headed to Pawnee Prairie Park for a trail run.

It was very cold, but not uncomfortably so (at least while running). Actually, the only real discomfort I experienced was an unbearable need to pee.

In the summer, that wouldn't be such a big deal. Pawnee Prairie is equipped with some adequate (if not exactly nice) facilities. But those facilities are closed during the winter, it seems.

You see where I'm going with this, right?

I was only a couple miles into my run when I decided that I simply could not hold it. Fine. Okay. It's cold, but it's not unbearable, and there's no one around anyway. The only real issue is properly positioning myself so that I don't end up misfiring and dampening any of the three pairs of pants I'm wearing. To that point and purpose, I used a nearby tree for, um, balance.

Got things done without incident, stood up, and started readjusting the layers of clothing. At that point, I felt something poking me. I looked at my gloves and saw that they were polka-dotted with about a dozen little burrs. And as I continued to re-position various articles of clothing, I soon realized that I had gotten these damn little sand burrs everywhere.

No, really. Everywhere.

So the lesson for the day is this: ALWAYS look first.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Race Report: Jingle Bell 4-mile and 1-mile

Because I raced both, suckers.

4 mile, took off like a rocket. Wasn't sure where the starting line was, so who knows how far off I was in starting my stopwatch. I had been vacillating up to the last minute, not sure if I wanted to race or not. Really, all I needed was 5 miles, and it didn't matter what pace I ran. But $20 is expensive for a training run, so I was intent on racing. The first half mile or so saw the usual clutter and dispersal, people sorting themselves out into what paces they would eventually run. At about the 1/2 mile mark, I fell into step with an older man. I had tried to convince my dad to come do the race with me, but he wasn't confident about his ability to run 4 miles at this point. So I pretended that this guy was my dad. He was just fast enough to challenge me without pushing me too hard. After about a mile and a half, he sped up just a touch, and I wasn't quite ready to go that fast.

So I immediately fell in with a woman in a green, fleece pull-over. She was running at about the same pace as me (maybe a little faster). Just fast enough not to push me, not fast enough to break me. Or it didn't seem fast enough to break me at the time.

She must have been counting on a negative split, because she picked up the pace quite a bit after the 2 mile mark. And it was about that time that we headed uphill, and she put on a little acceleration. I'm not sure if she was trying to drop me or not, but I was half-conscious at the time that it would probably work. Oh, I stayed with her up the hill--there was no way I was gonna let someone pull that kind of shit on me in a 4-mile race!--but I knew I was going to pay for it later. I continued to dovetail her, matching her stride for stride, until we came up to only aid station on the course. I hadn't been up early enough to get enough water in, so I had been thirsty from the beginning of the race, and I needed that water. She apparently didn't need any, so she ran on while I grabbed a little paper cup and drained it. By that time, she had put maybe 15 yards on me, but I let her keep it. I was pretty sure that I could gradually work my way up to her before the end.

Past the 3 mile mark, I really started to hurt. That uphill acceleration was coming back to haunt me. Green-sweater girl was still a good 15 yards up, but I knew I could still catch her if I could suck it up and just run. About that time, a lady in bright green tights and bright red socks pulled up alongside me. And there was no way I was going to be passed by a lady in bright green tights and bright red socks (especially since she looked well into her 50s). We ran together. I told her, "I'm trying to catch that girl in the green." She said, "I'm trying to catch that girl in the blue" (who was about another 5 yards up from my mark).

With maybe half a mile to go, I started to accelerate, and she came with me as long as she could. I did manage to catch that green girl, but about the time we caught up, we hit another hill. She had the gas to go up, and I slowed way down. So I didn't finish with her, but I did at least catch her. Which wasn't really enough, but whateveh. I was pretty happy with the run, but I'm disappointed with the time on the last mile. I don't know that I could have gone any harder than I did, but I wish I had more to give. I'm pretty sure that by next year, all those splits will have an 8 at the beginning instead of a 9.


And then I had about 45 minutes to hang out. Drink water. Eat a banana. Have some coffee. Except that there was no coffee because the lady in charge of the coffee pot was having some issues with getting it to brew! So no little pick-me-up for Jamie. So I meandered over to the start line to stand in the cold, instead. There were the usual ankle-biters and munchkins there. Oh! And there was this middle-aged woman with a little girl (about six, maybe?) who I assume was her daughter. They were stretching, and this woman was saying things like, "Now, remember, there will be all kinds of people here who have had a lot more practice with running than we have, so don't go too fast at the beginning!" and doing the kind of stretches that you do in elementary school P.E. classes like she knew what she was talking about. But not in an annoying way. In an endearing way. Here's this poor woman who probably hasn't run a mile since high school, just trying to go outside and do something active with her daughter. It was sweet. But dorky.

Oddly enough, at the starting line for the 1 mile race I met a professor who teaches at Annenberg. As in, Annenberg School of Communications. At USC. And of course I was fully outfitted in USC Tri merchandise, so we chatted about that. He was in town to see family, and decided that he would do a little 1-mile race while he was there. Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

I tried to go out hard at the starting, erm, airhorn, but of course I was not going to go out with the munchkins or track stars. They could have their 5-minute mile. I would be happy with anything less than 8 minutes.

And of course it hurt. It always hurts. It's supposed to frickin' hurt. I think I could have gone faster if I hadn't already run 4 miles hard. But I'm still happy with the result: 7:49. Not quite a PR, but the 7:47 mile came with a friend (who runs cross country for Newman University) pacing me. And afterwards I told her never to do it again, it hurt so bad. So the fact that I did that speed on my own without a pacer and without even thinking I would puke at the end gives me hope. Hope for next year, and the year following. Hope for--who knows?--maybe sub-7:00.

It was a good day. Good weather--sunny and cold with very little wind. And there were hamburgers at the end. Really, really good hamburgers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Runner's High": Running Anyway

Sunday, November 30. I want to do a 10-mile run. Somehow sucker my dad into getting out in the cold Kansas weather to jog the first couple with me. Fifteen minutes before we had planned to leave, it starts sleeting. Not raining. Not snowing. Sleeting. Like hail, but colder. And the wind is blowing so hard that the sleet is coming down at a 45* angle to the ground. Wind from the north. Like really cold wind. It stops after 5 minutes, but the clouds still look menacing.

We run anyway.

Wednesday, December 3. I wake up at 6:00 a.m. to reports of a severe wind advisory. Seriously. The National Weather Service issues tornado and thunderstorm and flash flood warnings. Well, in this part of the country, they also issue severe wind advisories. Our local NPR broadcast journalist reports in a friendly voice that the today we'll have a high of 39 degrees, a low of 18, and winds from the north at 30 miles per hour gusting to 45. I crawl out of bed and throw tights, arm warmers, leg warmers, windproof pants, a scotch-guarded top, a hat, and gloves into my (too small) bag. I go to work. The wind howls around my car, and I spend my first two training sessions watching the trees outside the windows bend in the semi-darkness and listening to the scratchings and creakings of blowing branches.

I don't care. I run anyway.

Running is empowering. Whether it's too hot or too cold or too windy or too rainy or too snowy or just plain miserable outside, an athlete (or anyone, actually) who really wants to run is going to go outside and run. And that's it.

What's more, if the athlete is worth his or her salt and has any measure of endurance experience, he or she is not going to whine or brag about it. He or she might casually say, "Oh yeah, I ran earlier today." But will not regale listeners with tales of brutal conditions.

That's why I'm falling in love with running. It makes me feel tough. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel that I don't need anyone or anything to approve or praise me. Or need anyone or anything at all, for that matter.

That's why I run. It's difficult to start running. It's difficult to keep running. And if it doesn't hurt by the end, then I'm not doing it right.

But afterwards, in the glow of the runner's high, I feel strong and capable.

And that's enough to get me out there again next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Current conditions in Wichita: Cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Temperature 38*F. Humidity 55%. Winds N at 28 MPH, gusting to 45 MPH. Visibility 10 miles. (thanks, KMUW).

Hills? Bah! I laugh at your puny hills!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Beginners' Guide: Choosing a Race

I started this post with a plan. There were bullet points. There were practical applications. There were links.

But I deleted all of that.


Because choosing a race isn't a step-by-step process. It's not about finding something local, or about a pool vs. lake swim. It's not even about distance, or about what you think you can handle.

It's about a passion. It's about friends doing races, prompting you to say, "If Jenny can do it, I bet I can." It's about trolling the internet, coming across a blog, and realizing that the unachievable is achievable. It's about watching TV and seeing something truly amazing and determining that you will be a part of it, no matter what it takes.

It's that time of year. If you want to race this summer, now is the time to find one. So troll the internet. Check Trifind. Hang out at bike shops, at run shops, at the Y. Get in touch with your local swim/bike/run club. Keep your eyes and ears open. And eventually, you're going to stumble onto something that really, really excites you. "Yeah," you'll say to yourself, "this one looks good. It's nearby. I can do those distances. It looks like fun."

And that's your race.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Starting to get little, niggling feelings in the back of my head. Like worms are nibbling on the base of my brain.

I got so burned out and tired at the end of this season--due in part, I'm sure, to the crazy hours I was keeping and the crazy responsibilities I took on at work--that I haven't even wanted to think about next year. In fact, I wasn't sure I would still want to race in 2009. Maybe it was time for a change. Give tri a break. Do just biking. Or just running. Or something completely different.

So I started to get back into climbing (long story, but there's a girl involved). I'd go to the Kansas Cliff Club (local indoor climbing gym) once or twice a week and spend 2 or 3 hours climbing and belaying (and getting nowhere with said girl, ahem).

Thing is, climbing is one of those all-or-nothing things, at least around here. Because if you're going to be into climbing and live in a state where there is absolutely no significant climbing available within a 6 hour drive, you've got to be really serious about it. Because it's not like you can just drive to the nearest good climbing (in Arkansas, by the way) on a whim.

But I am not hardcore about climbing. At all. In fact, I don't think I even really like it, right now (even with the love interest). You know what I like? Swimming. Biking. And--yeah--I really like running. I like doing those three things more than I like climbing or lifting weights or even doing yoga. And I don't know why I like those three things so much, but I fully intend to keep doing them.

Which has got me thinking about next season.