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.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

June totals

My totals for June are pretty pathetic, I'm afraid. Mostly, it's because of my knees. However, life got in the way a bit this month, too. July is going to be better. Here goes...

swim: 18,500 meters
bike: 118 km
run: 27.5 km (yikes!)

What's particularly sad is that 10.5 km out of 27.5 was run in races! However, I also managed to set a new PR for 5k this month.

Those statistics include two races. Oh, and I also got a new piece of hardware :-)

The good news is that my knees are feeling much better. I am going to ride on Saturday (the plans have been changed slightly, so I can ride anywhere from 25 km to 100 km).

My plans for July are to participate in one triathlon (the Ashkelon Triathlon, which is taking place together with the Maccabian Games) and to try to run a little bit more than 27.5 km. Ok, maybe even a lot more... We'll also be saying goodbye to our coach in July (at the end of the month). That will certainly be the low point of the month :-(

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

To ride or not to ride???

No, I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth. I've just been buried in piles of matriculation exams. They finally dug me out on Sunday :-)

My workouts have become somewhat sporadic in the last three weeks (or at least what I'd call sporadic, which is anything less than five to six days a week). I've been sufferng from knee pain which finally seems to be going away. I have no idea what caused it, as it started after two days of rest, but it's been rather painful at times and riding my bike seems to make it worse.

Which leads me to the question of the week -- to ride or not to ride? At tonight's swim workout I was informed that on Saturday, we're riding 110 km. I have never ridden more than 60 km, so that's a very long distance for me. There is an option to cut it short to 85 km, which seems more reasonable and probably doable. However, one knee is still bothering me a little bit. I suspect it will be fine by Saturday, as it's getting better and better every day, but I still don't know what caused the pain to begin with, so I'm not sure it's a great idea to do such a long ride. On the other hand, I really want to do the ride. I did 55 km when both knees were hurting and it didn't make them any worse. A week later I did the Tel Aviv Triathlon and survived it without any lasting damage. And last week I rode 23 km and ran about 4 (we were working on transitions) and although my knees bothered me right after the workout, by a day or two afterwards, they were fine (as in back to the same point they'd been before that workout and maybe even a little bit better).

Today is only Tuesday, so I still have three days to think about this. Yes, I can count -- Saturday is four days away, but since we're riding at 6 a.m., I think that deciding by Friday would be the smart thing to do. I think that if my knees are back to normal by Friday that I probably will ride. I hope I won't regret it, but I will still have a couple of weeks to recuperate before my next race.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tel Aviv Triathlon

I'm on the right. Thanks again to Tan for the picture.

I spent the entire last week trying to decide whether or not it would be a good idea to do this race. My knees have been bothering me for about a week and a half, I have no idea what's wrong with them and in the last two weeks, I did three rather pathetic swim workouts, I ran once and I did one long ride. That's way off my normal training schedule and I was especially concerned about the lack of running (and how running on my knees would feel). However, I'd already registered and paid, so I decided to go, telling myself that if anything hurt, I'd just stop after the swim or after the bike. Yeah, right. I can't even imagine quitting a race in the middle, so I don't know how I convinced myself that I would even consider it.

Things started going wrong last night. I had planned to have dinner on the table by 7 o'clock or so (early for us) so that I could be in bed by 9. For various reasons, that didn't happen. And by the time dinner was ready, I wasn't all that hungry. I ate some pasta and instead of drinking water, I drank diet cola. Big mistake.

I managed to get my stuff ready and be in bed by about 9:45, but I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. I think the cola had something to do with that, but so did the noise my family was making. I did finally fall asleep, only to wake up when DH came to bed. I have no idea how much sleep I got, but it wasn't much.

My alarm went off at 3:20. I was up at the meeting point at 4:00. I got my bike on the bike cart and got on the bus. I had planned to sleep on the bus, but the driver couldn't turn off the lights because one of the parents was handing out numbers and shirts and obviously had to be able to see in order to do so. Finally, about 40 minutes into the ride, the lights went off. Of course, the whole ride was only supposed to take about an hour and a quarter.

Next thing I knew, I woke up to the sound of ambulances. We weren't moving. I looked out the window and saw cars stopped and drivers standing in the middle of the road trying to figure out what was going on. There had been a bad accident and we couldn't move until the road had been cleared. No big deal for me -- my starting time was at 8:00, but the kids were starting at 6:30.

We got to Tel Aviv at 6:00. The kids got their bikes off the cart first, because they were in a big rush to get down to the starting area. Then I got my bike and got set up in the transition area. Despite the fact that the sprint wasn't starting for another two hours, all of the "good" racks had been taken and we had to put our bikes on one of the last racks. No big deal.

All of us doing the sprint hung around for a while, cheering for the kids and for the elite athletes doing the olympic distance. At about 7:20 or so, we headed down to the beach. I took a short run on the beach and my knees felt fine. Then I went for a warmup swim. The water was great and pretty calm. My goggles didn't leak. Everything seemed to be going well, apart from the fact that it was starting to get rather warm.

Finally, at 8:00 on the dot, we started. There were over 300 people in the sprint and we all went out together. What a mess! There wasn't anywhere I could go to escape the masses, so I just ran into the water with everyone else. It wasn't too bad. I got kicked a bit and pushed and grabbed a bit and almost got swum over, but I was fine. In fact, I was amazed at how well I was keeping my cool and concentrating on swimming (and even trying to swim relatively fast). However, I also noticed that the water was a lot choppier than it had been while I was warming up, presumably because there were over 300 people moving it around! Going around the buoys was a bit tough -- I got stuck in a group of people that I couldn't get around. I just kept swimming. After the second buoy, I noticed that I was even passing people. But then some of the breast strokers ended up in front of me and to the sides of me and I was trapped. I did the best I could to get rid of them, but it took a while. And then someone swam right across my path. I think that's when I ended up swallowing a mouthful of salt water. Yuck. But soon the swim was over and I found myself running out of the water. I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that the swim had taken me about 17:45 -- much longer than I thought. I suspect I also swam a bit more than 750 meters (and I guess that choppy water had something to do with it, too).

The run to the transition area was long. It had to have been at least 600 or 700 meters, if not longer. It was also slippery at some points. I just took it slowly and I was glad to note that my knees were fine. It's when I got to the transition area that things took a turn for the worse.

First it was my shoes. I had a towel layed out and had planned to wipe the sand off my feet before putting on my shoes. Remember that I had to ride and run in these shoes -- I was stuck with them for the rest of the race. Well, I forgot to wipe my first foot and only remembered after it was in the shoe. I wasn't about to take off the shoe to wipe the foot and risk not being able to slip it back on again, so I just left it on, sand and all, and wiped the other foot. Then I put on my number. When I did that, I saw that one side of it had come unfastened and the little plastic ball that holds my number on my race belt was missing. I couldn't race with my number hanging like that and I thought about just tying it on, but then I decided that I really wanted the plastic ball. I looked down and saw it on my towel. I picked it up, threaded the race belt through the number and then put the plastic ball back on. This took me at least 30 seconds, but I guess I should be glad that it didn't take me as long as it usually does! Then I put on my helmet. And I couldn't fasten it. At this point, I was laughing at my complete lack of coordination (and luck). Finally I got it fastened and I was out. My total swim plus transition time was 23:20.

No need to describe what happened next. I got on the bike, got one foot in the toe cage and couldn't get the other one in (this theme seems to repeat itself race after race no matter how often I practice this during training, though I have had a few lucky races). I played with it for a while and then gave up for a few seconds, deciding that I'd work up some speed and then try again. That worked.

The bike route was very crowded. There were 700-800 people on it (sprint and olympic distances) and it was only about 5 or 6 km long (we had to do two out-and-backs). It was very hard to avoid drafting and I saw a lot of it. I started out ok and at a decent pace, but some time after the first turn-around, I started falling apart. Pedaling was getting harder, I felt the wind in my face (in both directions!) and my left knee was starting to hurt. I was getting passed right and left. When people started passing me on mountain bikes, I got pissed off and started riding faster. I must have looked as bad as I felt, though, because for the first time ever in a race, men passing me started asking me if I was doing ok. This continued for the entire rest of the race.

My speedometer (which was working for a change) read 20 km, but I wasn't at the end yet. It turned out that the route was closer to 21.5 km. Finally I reached the end and got off my bike. Ouch. I could hardly walk on my knee, much less run on it. I thought about quitting the race. I had to rack my bike in any case, so I thought I'd rack it and then decide. As I was limping into the transition area, I heard someone scream my name. Quit? No, I don't think so...

So I racked my bike, took an extra couple of seconds to drink and then headed out. I was in pain, but I noticed that slowly but surely, I was working out the stiffness in my knee and it was hurting less and less. Note that I did not have any running-after-cycling aches or pains -- it was only my knee. Total bike time, including the transition: 48:59. Slow.

As I ran out, one of my private students screamed my name. And then the youth coach was cheering me on. And then my coach (as I ran by, I told him that my knee hurt).

At this point, it was about 9:15. In Israel, where there is no cloud cover in the summer (or almost none) and the temperature is always hot, 9:15 is not the time of day that you want to be out running, or at least not in June. And there was almost no shade on the run. Although my knee was starting to feel better, I was starting to feel really awful. My heart was racing and no matter how slowly I ran, I couldn't get my heart rate down. It was way up at 180 or so and just stayed there. I took water at the first water stop. That didn't help. At the second water stop, things started getting worse. The volunteers were each holding several cups of water, but they ran out just as I got there. There was plenty of water on the table, but I was nowhere near the table because I'd run left in order to grab a cup from one of the volunteers. So I had to stop in my tracks and wait for the volunteer (who wasn't in a big rush, though I couldn't really be all that upset with him -- it was very hot and they'd been working for a long time and there were lots and lots of runners going by) to get me some water. He finally did, but not before I said, "Faster, please!" At least I remembered to thank him. After this, I couldn't get my momentum back. I took a walk break. The only time I'd ever done that before in a race was three years ago in a 5k in the US when I wasn't in the kind of shape I'm in now.

There were several bridges that we had to run over during the run. I ran up a couple, I think, but at least once or twice, I couldn't face running up the bridge, so I slowed to a walk. And running down was worse -- I was really afraid of damaging my knee, so I went down really slowly. I just kept taking more and more walk breaks. Then this guy showed up and got me to start running again. We ran together for a while, but my heart was racing again and I had to walk. He stayed with me for quite a while, talking to me, encouraging me and even holding my hand, but I just couldn't keep running. More walk breaks. Finally he gave up and ran ahead (but I was thankful that he'd stayed with me for so long). The sun was hot and I was dying. Ugh.

At the beginning of the run, I'd heard someone cheering on "Hava", who I knew was one of my competitors. In fact, I'd had the identical experience (same person, even) in the Jordan Valley Triathlon. Because I'd had the experience last month, I knew I could run faster than Hava. But I wasn't sure what Hava looked like (because she's always behind me!). There were lots of men passing me, but no women. Until one whizzed past (she was only "whizzing" because I was walking). I thought, "Oh no! There goes Hava!" I tried to catch her, but I couldn't. Then another woman passed me. I decided that maybe this one was Hava (or someone else in my age group) and I was not going to let her pass me. I started running, caught her and passed her. We played this game until almost the end of the race. I'd walk, she'd pass me and I run to catch up and pass her again. At the end, she couldn't catch up with me, because as soon as I knew that the finish line was near, I decided I'd done enough walking. So as far as I know, only one woman actually passed me during the run, and as it turned out, it wasn't Hava.

I finally passed the finish line, feeling really ill. I was so glad to be finished. I was not happy with my time -- 1:47:23. My run time was rather shocking -- 35:03. Only later on did I read that apparently, it had been longer than 5k. That kind of makes sense -- I did walk a lot, but I still don't think I was slow enough to finish in over 35 minutes, especially since I finished the 5k run two weeks ago seven minutes faster than that! It would have been hard to make the run exactly 5k, because we ran up one side of the Yarkon River and back down the other. I doubt the bridge that we had to run over to get to the other side was positioned at exactly 2.5 km from the starting point.

Totally bummed out about my terrible race (but glad that it was over), I brought my bike to the bike cart to get it ready for the trip home. I told my coach about my terrible race and he said it was no big deal, considering all the trouble I'd had with my knees and my lack of training in the last two weeks.

A little while later, I went to see the results. Imagine my shock when I saw that I'd finished ahead of three other women in my age group and taken 3rd place! The most shocking part was that I was 3rd place in my age group for the run! I can't believe that three women ran even slower than I did!!! Actually, that's when it occurred to me that if I was hot and feeling awful, a lot of other people probably were, too. So my lesson for the day was this: No matter how bad it gets, don't give up. You're not the only one suffering! On a good day, I might have caught the second place winner. She finished about 7 minutes ahead of me, but it was a really really bad day for me. The first place winner was way out of my league -- I think she finished something like 25 minutes before I did! Oh, and Hava finished a minute or two behind me :-)

So at the awards ceremony, I got a trophy for my worst race ever. Come to think of it, my second worst race was probably the Galei Hadar Duathlon and I got second place there! Maybe there's something to these bad races after all!

I got home at 2:00 only to discover that I couldn't shower because a pipe had burst and there was water gushing into our backyard and our basement and we had to turn off the main pipe and call the insurance company (a very big deal on a Saturday in Israel -- fortunately, they provide emergency services and this was definitely an emergency). I went to the pool to take a shower (I must have looked kind of funny in my tri suit with numbers on my arms and legs!). And then I ate and started grading exams. Ugh.

I think there were several factors that contributed to my poor performance today. Obviously, the knee problems and lack of training were part of it (though I don't think that two weeks of reduced training is all that significant). In addition, my nutrition has been far from ideal for the last couple of weeks, mainly because I've been spending so much time checking exams that I haven't had much time to prepare normal meals. Also, I was definitely dehydrated. I visited the porta-potty at about 6:30 a.m. and I didn't go to the bathroom again (nor did I feel any great need to) until I got home at 2:00 (and I've had a headache since about noon). In fact, I think this was the most significant factor and it is something I will keep in mind for future races. I really need to increase my water intake, not only on race day, but on the days before, too, so that I don't start the day dehydrated. It's really tough to stay properly hydrated here in the summer, as it's so hot and dry.

I think there's something to be learned from every race, good and bad. Today was definitely a learning experience for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lost near the Gaza strip and how I made friends with the waves

Today we did our long ride to the Zikim Beach, south of Ashkelon. I'm pretty sure I'd never been to Zikim before and even if I had, I had never actually driven (or ridden) there on my own. I knew the general direction and there was a car behind me for almost the entire ride. About 5 km before the end, though, the driver made sure we knew where to turn off the main road and then he drove ahead.

I did fine for most of the rest of the ride. I could see the rider in front of me and I read the signs. Just before the last turn, though, I lost sight of my teammate. I got to the end of the road and saw an arrow pointing left that read "Zikim". Of course, there were also arrows pointing left that read "Alei Sinai" and "Dugit", both of which are settlements in the Gaza Strip. I knew that Zikim wasn't far from the border, though, so this didn't concern me. So left I went.

I passed an army base and then I started to wonder. Why would the army base be right next to a public beach? Then I noticed that I couldn't actually see the beach anymore. Then I looked up and saw a soldier in a guard house above me. He had a gun, of course (big deal -- most soldiers carry guns and I see them all the time). Though the soldier didn't bother me, I did start to wonder if I'd made the correct turn. I stopped and turned around to see if I could spot the rider behind me. He was nowhere in sight. That's when I decided to call my coach. It turned out that I was supposed to have gone right at that junction. If I'd kept riding long enough (and it couldn't be all that far -- you can see Gaza City from the beach at Zikim), I'd have hit the border and hopefully there would have been someone there to turn me around and get me going back in the right direction. I don't think I really would have enjoyed riding around the Gaza Strip on my bike! When I got back to the junction where I'd gone wrong, I saw the other sign -- the one that pointed to the right and read "beach". I guess I need to practice my reading comprehension skills!

Got to the beach (finally!), got dressed and headed for the water. When I tried to put on my swim cap, I realized that I was still wearing my sunglasses. Duh. Took off the sunglasses, put on the swim cap, put on the goggles and I was set.

There were waves today. Not huge ones, but bigger ones than I've ever had to deal with. The kind that used to scare me. I saw the kids in the water and I decided that I was not going to give up this opportunity to prove to myself once and for all that I can do anything I want to do. I headed out. A wave knocked me over. I got up. A wave hit me in the face and I got salt water up my nose. I kept going. Next thing I knew, I was swimming. I was swimming under the waves and loving it.

I swam out a bit and then went back. Then one of my teammates told me to swim out to some bottle that was floating (anchored) in the water. It was fairly small and hardly visible from the beach. It was even harder to see from the water. That was the idea, actually, to try to spot it while swimming. So off I went again. As soon as I started swimming, the bottle disappeared. I kept stopping to look for it. The lifeguards probably thought I was drowning. LOL. Every once in a while, I would spot it and adjust my direction. My teammates later told me that I swam zigzag the whole way. No surprise there!

Finally, I could see it close up. Just as I reached the bottle, I heard the lifeguard calling out on the megaphone to come back to shore. Since there was no one else that far out, he must have been talking to me. I could barely hear him. I hadn't planned on going any further anyway, so back I went.

I went in one more time to try to deal with the bigger waves closer to shore. One of the coaches explained that rather than running, I should jump under them, kind of like a dolphin. I decided to give it a try. I wasn't terribly successful, but it was a whole lot of fun. I can't believe I used to be so afraid of waves! Going under them is such a great feeling! I was doing this with a couple of other people. We hung out a bit in the water and then headed back. On the way back, I caught a nice sized wave and body surfed a bit -- I felt like a little kid!

I could have stayed in the water all day long! I'm so glad that I've finally made my peace with the sea. This was one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome in order to become a "true" triathlete.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Women's Triathlon - Herzliya, Israel

Picture courtesy of TAN

I was hesitant about doing this race for several reasons, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with the race itself (fear of swimming in the sea, having over 200 exams to grade before Monday, having to provide my own transportation, etc.). I'm glad that I decided to do it. This is a wonderful race. I had heard great things about it, but I just didn't understand what could be so different about a women's triathlon. I was so wrong! First of all, seeing only women around me made me a lot more competitive. It was also very empowering and I can't even explain why. In addition, there were lots and lots of spectators. I'm sure many of them were the men who couldn't compete in this race. They were everywhere, cheering us all on. Also, this is the only race I've ever done that gives finisher medals. Usually, no one even notices me when I cross the finish line, unless it's a very small race. This time, I crossed the finish line and was immediately greeted with "GREAT JOB!" as the medal was placed around my neck. Then, the same woman said (in English -- she was American), "You did it!!!" and I got a flower. True, it was only a sprint, but for many of the 400 women who competed today in the sprint and the "amateur" distance, this was their first triathlon. Every single woman who crossed the finish line today was made to feel proud of herself.

Now for the report...

I left the house at 4:50 to drive up to Herzliya. I was supposed to drive up behind a friend and her family, but instead of driving behind them, she rode with me and we followed her husband and kids in their car. This made the drive up much nicer. We got to Herzliya at just after 6 a.m. By the time I got my car parked and got set up in the transition area, it was about 6:30. Then I had to wait in line for 10 minutes to use the porta-potty. Starting time was 7:00 and I hadn't warmed up yet, so I completely forgot to go to the registration area. I didn't need to register (I have a permanent chip and number and I was preregistered for the race), but I did need to pick up my race packet (I love my race t-shirts). I ended up doing that after the awards ceremony and, of course, ended up with a size large (fortunately, the shirts are pretty small).

After the porta-potty (there was actually toilet paper and lots of it! You could tell that this was a women's event!), I did a very short run (basically from the transition area to the edge of the water) and then a short swim warmup. The water was pretty calm and I felt confident about the swim.

I started the swim in the middle of the pack this time, rather than off to the side. It was quite a long run in the water to the point where we could actually start swimming, so I figured by the time we started to swim, we'd be spread out enough to avoid any serious pushing, kicking, etc. I was more or less right. It was a bit crowded when I started to swim, but I just forged ahead. I didn't swim quickly, but I swam confidently, trying hard to swim in a straight line. I felt like I was swimming really slowly (and I wasn't making much of an effort -- I'm still getting used to swimming in open water and I don't feel confident enough to actually try to swim fast), but when I got out of the water and looked at my watch, I saw I'd finished in around 16 minutes or so. When I stood up because the water was too shallow to swim anymore, I got hit in the back by a nice sized wave which really gave me a nice push forward. I was fortunate not to lose my balance. Instead, I took advantage of that push and ran as fast as I could out of the water.

The run to the transition area was on the beach and then up over a short bridge. When I got there, my feet were covered in sand. I had a water bottle that I'd prepared to wash my feet, so I splashed some water on them and then wiped them as well as I could on my towel. Then I put on my shoes. This transition was a bit slow, but I took advantage of it to get my heart rate down (it had shot up running through the water and across the beach and over that little bridge). My swim + transition time (chip time) was 18:18.

The start of the bike route was a small hill. It was a bit hard for me to get the momentum I needed, so I started out kind of slowly. I also had some trouble getting one of my feet in the toe cage (I'm going to get clipless pedals soon -- I swear! Check out the toe cages in the picture above). Within a minute or two, though, I was ok and on my way. Then I discovered that my bike computer wasn't working (again -- this happened on my long ride last week and I have no idea why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't). This was not good, because the bike route was five times around a 4 km loop and even though counting to five should be easy, it isn't when you're in the middle of a race. The route was mainly flat with a few slight inclines and one nice downhill section (that we never had to go up, as we were going in a loop). There were lots of women on mountain bikes and a few of them even passed me, but none of them passed me and stayed in front of me. I passed quite a few people and was passed lots of times by very fast women. It was impossible to tell who was in front of me, as I had no idea which loop the other women were on (and some of them were doing the amateur" distance -- they did two loops of the same course). So I just kept riding and passing as many people as I could. In order to avoid drafting, I decided to count as I passed. So every time I passed someone, I counted out loud (in a whisper -- I didn't want people to think I was nuts!) to make sure it wasn't taking me longer than 15 seconds. Well, 15 seconds is apparently a very long time. I had no problem passing people in a lot less.

One funny thing I noticed during the bike section. I had put a lot of baby powder in my shoes. Well, remember the water I spilled on my feet to get the sand off? Baby powder and water don't mix very well. As I was riding, I felt mud at my toes. It was pretty gross and I wondered if it would bother me during the run (it didn't). One other thing... I drank twice during the run. Both times, I thought I was going to vomit afterwards. It was a very unpleasant (and unexpected!) feeling. I managed to keep my drink down, though.

As I got to the end of the 5th loop (or what I hoped was the 5th loop!), I started preparing for the run, spinning in a lower gear. I don't remember actually getting off the bike, which means I must have done it pretty easily. I do remember looking at my watch, which read just over 1:03. That meant 45 minutes or so for the bike. Usually the mats are placed at the beginning of the run, after the transition, but today, the mat was before the transition, so my chip time reflects the exact amount of time that I was on the bike course: 45:00. That's a good time for me -- more or less the same time that I did at the Jordan Valley Tri two weeks ago.

I went into the transition area, racked my bike and then, seeing that it was crooked, straightened it out, took off my helmet, turned my number around and set out for the run, only to be stopped in my tracks by an official who was trying to tell me something. The only thing I'm really capable of processing in the middle of a race is someone cheering for me (when they call my name), so I had no idea what he was saying. He was telling me to run around the back of the racks, so that's what I did.

The first thing I noticed during the run was that my legs didn't hurt. Not at all. In fact, it didn't even feel like I'd ridden my bike at all! So off I went, incredibly happy to be pain-free! The run was along the marina, past the back entrance of a shopping mall. There were lots and lots of spectators along the route (and lots of boats, too!). It was a very nice run, though there were several twists and turns and I was very glad that there were volunteers directing us! Although I was in no pain, I don't particularly love to run, so I was very anxious to get to the turn-around point. Finally, I was there and I knew there were only 2.5 km to go. That's when I noticed how many people were behind me. Lots and lots of them. I couldn't believe it. Oh, and I was passing people, too. Lots of them. I got passed a few times, but I was too busy being amazed by the fact that I was running past people to be bothered by those who were running past me.

With 1.25 km to go, I got to the turn-around point for the amateur distance. That's when I saw my friend Ella, who was doing her first triathlon. I screamed her name (I actually screamed as I was running -- does that mean I wasn't running hard enough?!) and she turned around and saw me. I ran faster to catch up with her and tried to pull her along with me, but she was too tired to run at my pace. And since I was already running fast (and passing more people!), I decided that it wasn't all that much further to the end, so I'd keep running fast. And I did. My heart rate monitor was beeping like crazy. I have no idea how high my heart rate went because I couldn't be bothered to look down at my watch. I just kept running. Hard. 1 km is a lot longer than it sounds. I was getting tired, but I kept running. I kept thinking I'd see the finish line around the next turn. It was never there. Then I saw Danny, Ella's husband. He cheered me on, telling me that there were only 200 meters to the end. Two thoughts came into my mind. The first was that when we cheer people on, we always tell them, "200 meters to go!" even when it's more. The second thought was that I was never going to be able to keep up this pace for 200 more meters because I was dying. But I kept going. Then I saw the hill. The only hill on the entire route, about 50 meters or so before the finish. A hill?! Yikes -- I was never going to make it up that thing. So I didn't look up the hill. I looked down at the ground and just kept running as fast as I could. Then I saw the finish line and then I was across the finish line!!! I looked at my watch. 1:31:31 (my official chip time was 1:31:32). A quick calculation told me that I'd finished that run in way under 30 minutes. Later, when I looked at the results, I saw that I'd done the run, including the transition (remember the official who stopped me in my tracks?) in 28:12. That means that the run itself was under 28 minutes! My previous PR was just under 30 minutes. I took about two minutes off my fastest 5k time and I did it in a triathlon, after swimming 750 meters and cycling 20 km!

Of course, I also shattered my best time for a sprint tri. I've only done one other in a race (two weeks ago) and my time for that one was 1:43. I realize that the courses were different, but 12 minutes is still quite a big difference!

There were lots of fast women there today. I was 10/19 for women 40-44 and 78/122 overall. I was 78th in the swim, 76th on the bike and 77th in the run. Talk about being consistent!

A couple more achievements...

There's this one woman who's not in my age group, but who finishes just ahead of me in every single race. She's been around for quite a while (much longer than I have), but she's also quite a bit older than I am. It drives me nuts that I'm always so close to beating her but I never do. Well, today, I saw her up ahead of me on the run. I took off. I beat her by 1:15 (eight places).

And the second achievement: In the Eilat Triathlon six months ago (my first), I came in 3rd in the super sprint. The girl who came in second was a team mate, quite a bit younger than I am, who passed me at the end of the run. The woman who came in first was my age and she
beat me by about a minute and a half. As I was looking over the results for today's race, I came across her name (I was looking at the other women in my age group). I beat her today by eight minutes (and five places in our age group)! Six months ago, I resigned myself to
the fact that she was better than I was. Well, she's not anymore!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

May totals

May wasn't too bad for me, training-wise. In fact, despite the fact that I did two races in May (meaning extra days off from training), my May totals were much higher than April.

swim: 20,950 meters
bike: 147.5 km (this was with only one long ride -- I had a race or practice race every weekend in May apart from one and my races and practice races are all sprints)
run: 52.95 km

Ok, so it doesn't look great, but have a look at this:

March: 22,150 meters
April: 12,840 meters
May: 20,950 meters

March: 113.25 km
April: 117.16 km
May: 147.5 km

March: 48.2 km
April: 40.07 km
May: 52.95 km

My swim total was a little bit higher in March, but I swim more than I need to anyway, so that doesn't matter. What I really need to work on are the bike and run, so I'm glad that my mileage is increasing, even if it is happening pretty slowly!

I also competed in the Lehavim Triple Super Sprint (1st place in my AG -- I didn't have much competition...) and the Jordan Valley Triathlon (sprint distance -- 5th place in my AG). I also achieved two of my 2005 goals -- to compete in the Lehavim triple and to compete in at least one sprint length triathlon. Oh, and I achieved a 4-year goal -- to reach the age of 40 in the best shape of my life.

I'm not one for setting monthly distance goals, so I don't really have anything in mind for June. Just to keep training and maybe to stop complaining about it so much ;-)

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