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.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Playing with my new toy

I could get so addicted to the Garmin that I might not have time to train anymore! Here are the stats from today's ride. Ignore the time on the ride -- I only remembered to put it on autopause in the middle of the ride, so that includes a couple of stops.

Here's the map:



Heart rate/distance (with grade marked in red -- you can see my heart rate climb when the ride gets steeper):

I could go on all day, but I need to take a shower, eat, talk to other family members, etc. This is so much fun!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How cool is this?

Ok, so it doesn't take a lot to impress me. I found some time to play with my new Garmin 305 which finally arrived a week and a half ago. The following is a picture of the route that I ran on Wednesday (marked in light blue). Note that the loop is 2.5 km -- I did that three times, plus the parts outside of the loop for a total of abut 8.5 km. I've marked my house, too. Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn't have highly detailed maps of this area (which is why my route is such a small part of the picture -- any closer and everything starts to become a blur), but I still think it's pretty cool.

Tel Aviv Triathlon - 16 June 2007

I wrote this a week ago, but I haven't had time to post it until now. Enjoy!

Before I even get to the race report, I have to say that this is one of my least favorite races. The course is generally crowded and it's always very hot. The first time I did it, two years ago, it was a nightmare. Last year was better, but still hard. I decided to do it again for a couple of reasons: 1) it's one of the bigger races of the year and 2) for the challenge.

Even after having made the decision to do the race, my mental state going into it was not great. I've been very stressed out due to exam grading and I knew that this time, it was going to be unbearably hot during the run because the starting time for 40+ sprint was 9:00 (an hour later than last year) and the bike course had been lengthened, meaning that it would take longer to get to the run. If you've ever been to Tel Aviv in mid-June, you know why it's really not a smart idea to go running at 10:00 in the morning. On the coolest of June days, that would be about five degrees above unbearably hot and humid. However, the race organizers had decided on the late start time in order to spread out the heats and have fewer people on the course.

Had we actually started at 9:00, it might have been nice. There was a delay in getting permission from the police to start the race in the morning, so all of the heats were delayed. The 40+ sprint started at 9:10. For the first time ever, they decided to have separate starts for the men and women. This was really great for the swim, though it did have a disadvantage that I will get into later. Anyway, the women started at 9:12, two minutes after the men. It was wonderful -- no pushing, no getting beaten up, no nothing. We just got to swim (well, after running a very long distance into the water). So I don't have a good excuse (or even a bad one) for my lousy swim time apart from the fact that I just didn't swim very fast. Enough said. At least I enjoyed myself (apparently a bit too much).

T1 at this race is very long -- a 600 meter run to the transition area. The only part about it that I remember was when we had to run across the sand at the beginning. That was tough. The rest is a complete blank.

I do, unfortunately, remember getting on my bike. After actually being able to find a spot to mount my bike on the very narrow course, I couldn't get my feet clipped into the pedals. This happens sometimes during a race, but today was particularly bad and I was weaving all over the place, praying that no one would ride into me. Once I finally got clipped in, I took off at a nice pace and all was going well until I decided to take my first gel. I reached for my gel flask and got... nothing. It wasn't there. Gone. No gel. I normally take two gels on the bike and this gets me through the run. All I had today was water -- not even a sports drink. Just plain old water on the long course in the hot weather. I was surprisingly calm about this. I was a bit surprised, but I just kind of took it in stride and said to myself, "Ok, I can do this with just water. I just need to drink a lot." Later on, I would see my gel flask lying in the road. I have no idea how or when it fell off my bike.

This was a draft legal race, so I set off to look for someone to work with. Here's where those two minutes that separated the men and women at the start of the race worked to my disadvantage. There was not a single woman on the course (or at least none anywhere near me) that I could work with. I needed a man (and yes, this is legal -- you're allowed to draft off of anyone, regardless of age, sex or even race distance). The fast men were two minutes ahead of me or more. I worked hard to find one and eventually, I did manage to rest a bit while drafting off of other people, but I suspect that these were not ideal partners for me, because every time I tried to take the lead, they would fall back almost immediately. What that says to me is that they weren't as fast as I was and I was wasting precious time drafting off of them. Finally, on the last loop, a group from the up-to-39 sprint (who started half an hour after us -- I was glad to be old today!) passed me and I tagged onto the back of the group and worked with them until the end of the loop. They continued on and I was finished. I'd averaged around 31 kph on the bike, which is very good for me, but I know I could have gone faster if I had been able to find riders closer to my own ability on the course. My bike split was the third best in my age group, only 40 seconds slower (for 25.4 km) than the woman with the fastest split. I should have been at least as fast as she was. If we'd started with the men, I would have been (note that she came out of the water about three minutes ahead of me -- I'll bet she found more people to work with on the bike).

T2 was over way too soon. I was completely freaked out about the run before it even started. It was HOT out, the course was 400 meters longer than other sprint courses here (when you're a lousy runner, 400 meters counts -- believe me!), all I'd had on the bike was water when I'm used to taking gels, I'd barely slept the night before the race and I had bad memories from this run course. This was not destined to be a good run. The only good thing I can say about it is that I ran the whole thing. It was slow and ugly (almost three minutes slower than last year on the same course). This was the first time in a long time that I was unable to pick up the pace before the finish line. I had nothing left.

I finished 7/18 in my age group. I guess the run was hard for other people, too, as I was 8/18 on the run, even with my lousy time. It wasn't hard for the woman who had the fastest run in my age group, though. She finished 5.4 km plus the transition in 23 minutes and change and had the second fastest run split of everyone -- men and women. I would think this was a mistake if she hadn't done the same thing in every race this year. I saw her whiz past me today (she was slower than me on both the swim and the bike). Man is she fast for a 40-year-old woman!

Next year I'm doing the Olympic distance. They started at 6:40 and the bike and run courses were both short. Seriously, I think that it would have been easier for me to do the Oly distance today than it was to do the sprint. It certainly would have been cooler.

That's it for triathlons in the first half of the season. There's supposed to be a "triple super sprint" some time in August, but the date hasn't been set yet. The next "regular" race is in September. That gives me lots of time to work on my running.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Just another boring post

Since I have full control over comments on my blog, I guess I should just delete offensive ones like the ones I received to this post, but this was just so silly that I decided to leave it. I mean, if my blog is so boring, then why is Anonymous not only reading it, but coming back for more? And I'm pretty sure that I've never behaved in a repulsive manner towards anyone.

Anyway, since this is a triathlon blog, I'll post something tri related. I had a great ride today -- we rode to the beach and I managed to hang on to the back of the lead group for quite a while. This was the first time that's ever happened, so I was on cloud nine. After the ride, we did a short run and then went swimming. The sea was a bit rough and I just heard on the news that someone drowned in Ashkelon today (which is where we were). We managed to swim, though, and then spent the rest of the time just playing in the waves.

Sorry to bore you all to death. Now I'm going to go take my own advice and do something productive (like grade a few hundred matriculation exams).

Goodbye, Terence

Terence was this really funny Malaysian guy that I knew online through the Penguin Runners and Penguin Athletes mailing lists. He was originally a runner and was later inspired to try triathlon. Terence was always joking and always had a positive attitude, even after being diagnosed with two brain tumors in early 2006. After his first surgery, his doctor ordered him not to run in the marathon he had been planning to do. So, being the good patient he was, he listened to his doctor's orders and did the half marathon, instead. That was Terence.

Today, I received the news that Terence is no longer with us. I never met Terence in person, but this picture (grabbed off of his own site) is exactly how I like to think of him and how he will remain in my memory.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Proof that I don't know how to run

Now that I've finally figured out how I can post video here, I can show this. It's from the Lior Triathlon in April. I really hate this video for a couple of reasons. The first is simply that I hate the way I look (and I think I've taken off a few pounds since then -- my bottom looks particularly big here relative to the way I normally look). The second reason I hate it is the same reason I have for posting it -- because my running is terrible. I barely pick up my feet and I look like I'm sitting down. This was at the very end of the race and I was pretty tired, so my form had deteriorated and looked worse than usual, but it doesn't get a whole lot better. Any suggestions on what I can do to fix it are welcome.

It takes a few seconds before you actually see me, but once my husband focuses in on me, you'll know. The quality isn't great because he filmed this on my cell phone. Oh, and if it says "image coming soon", just ignore that and hit the play button.

Ok, deep breath... Here goes...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Women's Triathlon, Herzliya - 2 June 2007

Thanks to 4sport for the picture

After not training for a week (apart from one day) because of a yucky cold and still having a cough on the morning of the race, I didn't have any high expectations of this race. All I really wanted to do was to have fun. This is one of my favorite races and I was just happy to be there.

The warm up:

After getting myself set up in the transition area and then, after leaving, realizing that I had no idea where I'd put my bike, I had to go back into the transition area to find it. It took me quite a while to locate it in a sea of over 600 bikes (Where did all these women come from???), but I eventually found it and made a mental note of the row number and then head out for a short warm up. I figured I'd run the first km or so of the course that I'd already done two times before. I knew it was an easy run and also probably shorter than the 5 km that it was supposed to be because I'd always done it quickly. Well, imagine my surprise when I got to where there was supposed to be a turn and discovered that I had to run straight, instead. They'd changed the course! Ok, I could handle this. I ran to the end of the street and asked one of the volunteers what the rest of the course looked like. He said it was all on the sidewalk and it was easy. Then I ran into one of the referees, a woman I know well. She had just ridden the course on her mountain bike and she told me how hard it had been for her to bike up the hill. The hill? What hill?! There's not supposed to be a hill!

Anyway, I finished running, did a very short swim and then listened to the briefing. I heard something about running on a dirt path. Dirt path? Didn't the volunteer say it was all sidewalk? Ok, I can do a hill. I can do a dirt path. No problem.

The swim:

The swim was very uneventful. I got hit and kicked a lot less than last year. The only problems I had were the long run in and out of the water and the fact that I got stuck between a bunch of women swimming very fast breaststroke. I find it incredibly annoying when people swim breaststroke as fast as I swim freestyle. Oh, and I think I zigzagged a bit, too, but nothing too terrible. After running/skipping/stumbling out of the water, I took a look at my watch and saw that my time wasn't too terrible for 750 meters (especially considering how much running there was in the water). It was slower than last year, though. I suspect that the course was short last year, as I remember having a lot more trouble swimming.

Thanks to Shvoong for this and the following pictures


The run to the transition area is across sand (the kind you sink in up to your ankles) and then over a small bridge. I was prepared for this, as it's been the same all three times I've done this race. I hate running in that sand, but it went by quickly. I found my bike, got my stuff on and headed out. Lately, I've taken to running a bit past the mounting line because I hate it when people stop dead in front of me and I don't want to do that to anyone else. It's easier to run just a few more steps and then get on the bike on the side of the road. The referee (another woman I know) found this rather amusing, though, and she yelled at me to get on my bike. LOL.

The bike:

I had some pedal problems at first (my feet kept slipping off the pedals and I couldn't get my left foot clipped in -- I had to pedal up the hill at the start of the course clipped in on only one side). Once I was properly seated on my bike, though, I soared. I passed so many women that I couldn't even start to count them. The bike course is five times around a 4 km route. With several hundred women on it, it was very crowded. And since half (or more) of those women had no idea how to ride on the right, it was also fairly dangerous. I did a lot of screaming on the course and even that didn't always help. I narrowly avoided several collisions with women who decided to drift left just as I was passing them (and after I had loudly announced that I was passing them). I also got stuck behind women riding abreast of one another several times. Overall, though, I had a very good ride. I got passed by a very few women, but I passed many many more and I felt strong and really good. I don't know my exact final time for the bike (the timing mats weren't all working today), but I can see by my 4 km splits that I was one of the faster women on the course today. All of my splits were under 8 minutes.

As fast and pleasurable as riding my bike was, I had certainly had enough after five times around the same boring course and I was more than happy to get off.


Getting back into the transition area was a bit problematic. There were women from one of the later heats (a shorter race distance) just coming out of the transition area and I couldn't get in until they'd passed me, so I actually had to stop. I don't remember that ever happening before, but this race has really grown in the past few years and I guess there are still a few things that need to be worked out now that it's become so big. Once I'd racked my bike, I changed shoes, probably a lot slower than I could have -- I was glad to be off the bike, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to the run (Did someone say hill? Did someone say dirt path?). Once I had running shoes on both feet, though, I didn't have any more excuses to be in the transition area, so off I went.

The run:

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was tough in the beginning, but I stuck it out. At some point, I started coughing (stupid cold that won't go away), which made breathing a bit difficult, but I kept running. I got to the hill and ran up it (slowly). I got to the dirt path and slowly ran down the small hill with the soft, kind of sandy dirt. Then I ran harder on the path until the turnaround. 2.5 km already run. I was halfway there. I don't actually remember much about the way back. It was easier than the way out (the dirt hill was very short and I got to run down the longer hill). I had no idea what the route was to the finish line, so I just followed the women in front of me. The nice surprise was that unlike last year and the year before, there was no hill just before the finish line. I came around a corner and saw it about 100 meters ahead -- the rest of the run was flat as a pancake. Seeing the finish line always does something to me. I took off at sprint pace, hoping I could run that fast to the end. I did. It was over. Quite a few women had passed me on the run, but I'd managed to pass a few, too, so it hadn't been all that disastrous. If I could have held off the cough for another half hour or so, I would have been able to breathe more easily and maybe I would have run a little bit faster. But honestly, I didn't care all that much. It was over.

My final time was 1:31:24. This was about four minutes slower than last year, but I'm pretty sure the swim and run were short last year. They weren't this year and that was reflected in most of the times that I looked at -- almost everyone was slower. Assuming that the distances were correct this time, this was a very good sprint time for me. In fact, I think it's a PR.

In any case, my goal had been to have fun and I did. It was a great race. I'll be back next year.

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