Tri-ing in the Holy Land

The ramblings of a struggling triathlete in Israel

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Location: Israel

I'm the mother of 3, a teacher and a couch potato turned triathlete.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Here we go again :-(

Yesterday I missed my swim workout because I got home too late.  Ok, no big deal -- I figured maybe if I was up early enough, I'd do it today and if not, it's just one swim workout.  I woke up this morning with a stomach ache, so swimming was out.  I thought I would feel better by evening.  Well, it's 6:30 in the evening and I still don't feel well.  It looks like I won't be running tonight.  Nothing tomorrow, either -- I'll be working until very late.

This is how it always starts -- work or illness or injury sidelines me and then the downward spiral begins.  I guess I could view this as a three-day break which I may have really needed, judging from my last two workouts.  How else can I keep life from sending me into a slump?

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Good morning world!

I am not a morning person.  Never have been.  If it were up to me, all races would be in the evening.  We actually have a few of those here now and believe me, racing in the evening is a lot more fun than racing in the morning!  The last time I went for a pre-10 a.m. morning run was at my last race -- in Eilat in October.  The only reason I did it then was because the race organizers wouldn't agree to have the race in the evening.  I would have compromised on swim/bike in the morning, run in the evening, but nooo....  The last time I went out for a pre-10 run was in December 2010 (I don't even remember this, but it's in my training log).  The last time I ran before 7 a.m. was in October 2010 after I'd finally managed to ride my bike all the way up to Ein Netafim.  I got there at 6:45 a.m. and ran 2 km.  Then there was the time in September 2010 that I got up to ride and discovered that my derailleur was broken.  I was already out of bed and ready to move, so I went for a run, instead.  In short, I do not like running in the morning.

Fast forward to July 2012.  Last night's brick was canceled, so I thought I'd go out for a run, instead.  I found myself working until late, though -- before I knew it, it was much too late to go out running.  I'm on a training streak and I'm trying hard to stay consistent, plus, I'd only run once this week, so I decided to haul myself out of bed at 6 a.m. and get out there.  And I did.  I was out the door at 6:34.  Incredible.  You can only imagine what my legs thought of being asked to run so early in the morning.  Let's just say that they were mainly screaming four-letter words.  After about a kilometer, though, they got with the program.  It was hot and gross outside, but it was morning and I went running.  It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty, but I did it.

Can I go back to sleep now?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bikes and dogs

Before I write anything, let me introduce you to some of my best friends in the world:

Blackie is an 11 1/2 year old half Dalmatian, half who-knows-what.  We adopted her when she was five weeks old.  She is smart and loyal and would do anything to protect us.

Chico is our 3-year-old Pug.  He is as cute as he looks, maybe cuter!  He loves to play and to go for walks and to drive Blackie nuts, though she is generally very patient with him.

Sadly, Mocha is no longer with us.  She and Blackie came from the same litter and we adopted them together.  A year ago, we had to put Mocha to sleep because of a tumor on her liver.  I still think about her often and it always brings tears to my eyes.  She was big and had a loud bark and strangers thought she was scary, but she was actually a gentle, kind soul who would never hurt a fly.  In fact, she was scared of flies!  

I live in a mainly residential community of about 6,000 people.  Many of the people here have dogs.  Most of them take their dogs out for walks on a leash.  However, for some reason, some people think that it's acceptable to walk your dog on public sidewalks and streets without a leash (which, by the way, is against the law, but for many Israelis, the law is just a suggestion).  I adore dogs, but I don't like meeting them when I'm out running or riding my bike when there's no one holding on to them.

On my ride this evening, I rode into a traffic circle at about 30 kph.  I saw a couple of people with a big dog standing on the corner.  I noticed right away that the dog was not on a leash and the dog noticed right away that I was on a bike.  It a split second, he was under the sidewalk railing on and coming at me barking.  I screamed at him to go away and his owners called him, but he pretty much ignored all of us.  I slowed down and kept screaming and I guess when he figured out that I was not interested in playing with him, he decided to leave me alone.  As I rode through the traffic circle, I yelled out to the owners to be careful with their dog because if he'd gotten caught up in my wheels, I would have crashed.  Apparently, they couldn't hear me very well, because they called out, "What?" I was too out of breath and getting too far away to answer them.

At the top of the dead end road after the traffic circle, I made a u-turn and came back down.  As I approached the traffic circle again, the owner of the dog (who now had him on a leash) was standing at the corner GLARING at me.  He yelled out something, and I'm sure it wasn't nice, but I have no clue what it was because there was a head wind and I couldn't hear him.

What a jerk.

A little while later, I met dog number two.  He was all on his own, running in the street directly at me.  He wasn't as big as dog number one and I'm not even sure he was all that interested in me, but he since he was running directly into my path, I screamed at him and stopped.  He just ran on by.

I am so tired of being chased by dogs.  On our long rides outside of town, we have to deal with sheep and goat herding dogs that belong to the Bedouins in the area.  These dogs are never leashed (they're also never in a town with people walking around, but they have a tendency to leave the field where the sheep and goats are and run after cyclists in the road, who I assume they think are sheep or goats who have strayed off).  Most of the dogs in town are on leashes, but there's always the occasional one who isn't.  I don't know why people think it's ok for them to walk their dogs like this.  What about the people and especially children who are afraid of dogs?  Don't they have the right to walk around without fear of being attacked?  I take my dogs out for walks, but I'd never dream of letting them run off the leash.  They can do that in my yard.

I'll bet if that jerk knew how much it would cost him to replace my carbon road bike if his dog made me crash, he wouldn't keep walking it off the leash.

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Running and allergies

I've been doing some reading on running and allergies and I've reached the conclusion that I'm just weird. Actually, I reached that conclusion some time ago, but I digress...

So it seems that most people with allergies find it hard to run outdoors during allergy season. For me, allergy season is more or less twelve months long, but my daily antihistamine seems to take care of my "seasonal" allergies. It's the chlorine allergy that makes me miserable. The good news is that running seems to take care of that. All that sweating must flush the histamines out of my body or something, because running invariably takes care of my itchy, watery eyes, or at least for a while. Now there's a good reason to run, especially if I want to keep swimming!

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Chlorine allergy?

Among the many things that have kept me from training regularly, I seem to have developed an allergy to the pool.  I feel fine while I'm swimming, but the following day, I wake up with itchy, red, watery eyes and often with a stuffed up nose.  It took me some time to make the connection, but now I'm absolutely positive that the pool is the culprit.  I have other allergies as well that make my nose and throat itch, so I take allergy medication on a regular basis, but it doesn't seem to do much for my pool allergy.  I also have anti-allergy eye drops that do help some, but the only thing that really makes me feel better is staying out of the pool, which clearly is not an option -- it's not like I have a lot of opportunities to do open-water swimming here in the desert!

So I was searching online today and I came across an article from a few years ago that convinced me that I am in good company.  If Ian Thorpe could overcome his chlorine allergy to become one of the best swimmers in history, I think I can deal with mine.

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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Still alive

It's been almost two years since I last posted here.  Blogger looks completely different!  Anyway, I thought maybe if I started blogging again, it would help keep me motivated, so here goes...

The last couple of years have been uneventful for me tri-wise, apart from the fact that I got a new bike, which I've barely ridden (it has about 2,500 km on it and I've had it since October 2010).  I've dealt with atypical pneumonia (winter 2011), nerve problems in my neck (for the last year at least) and a sprained ankle (late January).  Along with all of that has come the inevitable weight gain, though I've lost about 4 kg in the last couple of months.  I think I did a grand total of two races in 2011 and I've done none so far this year.  That pretty much sums in up.

But...  The second half of 2012 has started well.  I had a great training week and I'm hoping for more like it. My goal for the second half of the year is to try to stay focused and not get thrown off track by the unexpected (or the expected -- like work).  I may race, I may not.  What I want most is to just get back in shape and then see where that takes me.  Encouragement appreciated (if anyone is actually reading this!).

Oh, and here's a picture of the "new" bike (or maybe I should say the bike that was new in October 2010...):

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I want to win a new Garmin

Ok, so I haven't posted in over a year, but I have been training and I've even raced a few times. I'm posting today, though, because I want to increase my chances to win a new Garmin Forerunner 310xt. See the details here:

My 305 died a while back and it just wasn't worth it financially to get it fixed -- it would have cost almost as much as a new one. So now maybe I'll win a new one!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tel Aviv Triathlon - 27 June 2009

I just realized that I never got around to posting my race report from the Tel Aviv Triathlon. Well, here it is, as posted to my mailing lists. I'm currently nursing a knee injury and it may be a while before I have another race report to post.

Tel Aviv is only about an hour or so away, but I got a good deal on a hotel room through the teacher's union and the race was a day before my 19th wedding anniversary, so Avi and I decided to make a weekend of it. This gave me an extra hour to sleep in the morning, which is pretty significant when the race starts at 6:15 a.m and you want to be there by 5:30 at the absolute latest. The only problem was that I ate way too much hotel food the night before the race and it kept me awake half the night. Not exactly the ideal pre-race meal!

I got to the race at 5:30, got set up in the transition area and headed down to the beach. There wasn't enough time for a real warm up, so I just swam a bit and waited for the start. The swim was a 750 meter triangle which we had to do twice, running up on the beach in between. One of the things that I don't particularly like about this race is the really long run into the water. It's only about knee-deep for maybe 100 meters or so and there are holes that you can't see, making it really difficult to actually run. In fact, I didn't see a single person running into the water -- everyone was safely wading until it was deep enough to swim.

I felt pretty good during the swim. The water temperature was comfortable to slightly warm (I'm guessing about 26 or 27 degrees Celcius) and there were some small waves that I wouldn't have noticed at all if they hadn't made it difficult to see the buoys. In previous Olympic distance tris, I've found myself swimming almost completely alone. This time was different. It certainly wasn't crowded, but there were always other swimmers near me and I even caught up with and passed a few. When the second lap was done, the guy next to me said, "That wasn't bad," and that's when I remembered to look down at my watch. I was nothing short of shocked when I saw 30:00 and change. This was by far the fastest I'd ever swum 1500 meters and I'm not convinced that the course wasn't short, but the race director insists that the measurement was accurate, so who am I to argue? ;-)

After a quick transition, I was out on the bike course. This was a draft-legal race, but at first, I couldn't find anyone to ride with. Then two guys passed me and I managed to hang on behind them. The three of us worked together for quite a while. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could do my share of riding up front, letting them rest for a bit. I couldn't have asked for two better people to ride with. However, after about 15 km or so, a few more guys started riding with us and things changed. Not all of them were willing to work -- most of them just wanted to hang on at the back -- and I didn't like the way they were riding They weren't riding as straight as I would have liked and they would fall off the back and then speed up in order to catch up, yet every time I tried to get ahead of them and ride behind the two guys I'd been with all along, they'd manage to edge me out of the way and I found myself behind them again. At some point, while I was trying to pull out a salt tablet, they dropped me and I didn't make too much of an effort to hang on. So I found myself riding alone for pretty much the rest of the course. It was ok, though, and I had the best ride I've ever had on an Olympic distance course, averaging 30.3 kph, according to my bike computer (I suspect that it was slightly more, as that included the run out of the transition area and also slowing down at the end because I wasn't sure where the turn-off was). The course was slightly short -- about 37.3 km, I think, and my time was 1:13 -- much faster than I'd hoped for (of course, I thought the course would be 40 km).

T2 didn't go as smoothly as T1. I got off my bike and ran into the transition area, wondering why there were so many people just hanging around. Then I wondered why there wasn't a single free spot on the bike rack and why I couldn't find my stuff. That was about the time I realized that I'd run into the wrong transition area. This was the transition area for the sprint distance (which hadn't started yet, thus the people hanging around). Oops. I ran out and found my own transition area, feeling very stupid. I later discovered that I wasn't the only one to make that mistake, which did make me feel slightly better.

The run...

I'm still a relative newbie to triathlon, I guess, but I have learned a thing or two in the last five years. One of them is that there are no shortcuts. If you don't put in the training, things won't go well in the race. That's just the way it is. I knew that coming into the race and I didn't expect much from the run. That's exactly what I got -- not much. It was 10 km of just trying to survive.

I have never liked the run at the Tel Aviv Triathlon. It's in the Yarkon Park, along the "river" (more like a muddy stream) and although it's pretty much flat as a pancake, there's not much shade and it's always hot. There are also always people on the course -- the ones who come to the park on Saturday morning with their kids or their dogs or their bikes and couldn't care less that there's a race going on. So with the sun beating down on your head, you need to run around people who are just strolling along and also try not to get run over by a bike. To make matters worse, they've changed the course so that the out and back are on the same side of the river, meaning that there are runners going in both directions on the path. But to be honest, none of this is what made the run bad for me. What made it bad was very simply lack of training. It was hard, my legs didn't want to move and I started to feel really lousy after about 5 km or so. I had to take several walk breaks -- three or four, I believe -- and I probably would have taken more if I hadn't realized that I was about to PR big time. I forced myself to run the last 3 km, thinking I would come in at under 3 hours. However, the distance markers must have been misplaced (or the course was long) because it took me over 8 minutes to get from the 9 km marker to the finish line -- I'm not capable of running quite that slowly. So I didn't break 3 hours -- I finished in 3:00:26 -- SO close!!! And if I hadn't stupidly run into the wrong transition area, I would have broken 3 hours.

This was a 20 minute PR for me. 20 minutes!!! Even if the bike course hadn't been short, I would have PRed. Of course, every course is different, so the PR really doesn't mean much, but I now believe that I can go under 3 hours, even on a full-length course. My run, including T2, was slower than my bike time (yes, really -- how embarrassing is that?!) and was probably the worst time I've ever done for a 10k. If I actually train, I can easily take 6 or 7 minutes off that run time (running the whole thing would help me achieve that goal, I think!). My relative placement in both the swim and the bike show that I have made a lot of progress in the last year. I'm still a back-of-the-packer, but there were plenty of people even more at the back of the pack than I was. So despite the lousy run, I finished this race feeling really good. I won't be competing at the elite level any time soon, but I no longer feel like I'm just making believe that I can keep up with the "real" triathletes :-)

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