Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poulsbo Marathon and Half Marathon

Sunday, October 17, 2010
7:30 a.m. @ NKHS
Come out and enjoy beautiful Poulsbo!
Finisher medals and t-shirts are included with entry.
Register at http://www.poulsbomarathon.embarqmail.com/ or
go directly to http://www.active.com/ for on-line registration.

I went out and ran the half marathon course with my husband on Sunday morning. My goal being to dial in the mile marker locations for the race. Now, my husband is a die-hard trail runner and rarely ventures out of the forest these days, but he agreed to hit the roads with me on this occasion. (I guess when your wife is organizing a race you need to check out the course at least once!)

From the start at Strawberry Field on Hostmark Street we enjoyed the nice moderate downhill for the first mile or so and were fully warmed up by the time we hit Lemolo Shore Dr. Following the shoreline through the neighborhoods and waterfront road of Lemolo is always a treat and Shawn, my husband, commented on that fact.....something along the lines of, "I forgot how nice it is to run down here", were uttered. We jogged through town and up past the Well Being Yoga studio on Jensen Way (come join my Active Yoga class on Thursday nights and keep your muscles nice and limber in between training runs!).

After passing through town, we hung a left on Sunset and travelled along the brightly colored houses and manicured lawns of the "Skittles" neighborhood before we rounded the corner back onto Front Street and headed down the hill toward Fish Park.

Neither of us had eaten much breakfast and we were both wishing for a friendly aid station about that time (they'll be there on race day), instead we slammed a gel, hit the turn-around and headed back up Front Street  from Bond Road. It's a moderate hill that you can get into a good groove on. That said, Shawn was getting further and further ahead of me, as he always does when we hit an incline. We regrouped as we made a sharp turn into the driveway down into American Legion Park. Here, you run down the drive all the way to the start of the paved path to the playground, follow the path to it's end, then run through the grass toward the gravel and paved paths that weave through the woods and spit you out onto the boardwalk that then leads you to Waterfront Park.

The Guest Marina and park were bustling with people heading up to the shops on Front Street. This is one marathon that you can actually arrive by boat for....there are three marinas in Poulsbo and all are within walking distance to the race start. Just hoof it up Hostmark Street (about a mile) and you will arrive at the race start fully warmed up and ready to roll.

After trotting through the parking lot toward the Marine Science Center we hit the steepest block on the course - the section of Front Street that becomes Hostmark. It's a short little section that is soon over when you turn almost immediately onto Fjord Drive. Back the way we came, past the marinas and parks, back up Noll Road and through the portable paths at the high school to the little south side gate at the track.

The North Kitsap Track is brand spanking new and as soon as our feet hit it we felt an immediate spring in our step. Aside from the trails, the track is the place my husband most loves to run, so this was another selling point for him. The finish is smack dab in front of the covered stadium....aahhh. The measurements looked good...all of my efforts cycling and mapping the course have not been in vain. I was really hoping to have the course officially certified this year, but instead I am going for an honest, accurate measurement. If all goes well and we do not have to change the course for next year, we will work on getting it officially certified.

Now, to preview the second half of the course......this weekend is out since I will be running the Roots Rock 25k in Port Gamble on Sunday morning. FYI, the Roots Rock races will be starting at Gate 6 in Port Gamble now, instead of the previous start location. There will be signs to direct you to the start.

Poulsbo Marathon and Half Marathon - October 17, 2010
Roots Rock 25k/50k - Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made

Alicia Keys wasn't talking about running a marathon, but that's all I think about when she belts out "Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York!" My husband and I are both training for the New York City Marathon in November. This will be the first time we have run the event and my husband is raising money for Team for Kids as part of his journey to the finish line.

Last year while training for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon I suffered an acute injury that forced me to train exclusively in the water or on an elliptical machine, so this time I'm taking a different approach. I'm planning to under train and arrive perfectly healthy. Yep. I'm planning to under train for the New York Marathon.

My plan is to run just three days a week, with one day incorporating intervals or fartleks, depending if I am at the track or out in the trails. Another day will be a tempo run of varying length and intensity or just a good effort on the hilly terrain that starts and ends at my front door.  The third day will be my long run, with a high percentage of those on dirt trails. In between I will be cross-training on a bicycle, swimming, and doing yoga. This is where I have to be careful, because overdoing it in a spin class can make it really hard to come back and hit it hard on a tempo run the next day. The cycling and swimming needs to be kept strictly moderate, aerobically speaking.

This plan is based on the Furman Institutes "Less is More" plan. I used this basic training format before and managed to hit a PR at the Boston Marathon, so I am going back to it. I have finally fully accepted that my body just can't handle high mileage and that works for me because there are so many other things I love to do!

Big Apple, here we come.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Seattle to Portland 2010

by Elisa

July 17 & 18, 2010 - The Group Health Seattle to Portland bike ride.  204 glorious miles between Seattle and Portland on roads that were both scenic and not so scenic.  Well okay - maybe some of the miles were not so glorious.  They were for the most part the back highways and biways that typically only locals frequent. 

The ride is split, for those who chose to take their time, into two days - 99.2 miles the first day and 104.8 the second day.  It is possible to complete the ride in one day - but I can only see one benefit from that - being done.  I am not sure I could have gone more than the 99 miles that first day.  Heck, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it another mile after the first 99.  The official half-way stopping point was in the town of Centralia, WA and more specifically - Centralia College.  We opted for the tent accommodations (= free) and a shower ($5).  I slept like a baby.

Backing up a bit - the weather for the first day was overcast and cool (54 degrees, if I remember correctly).  It wasn't until 1 p.m. in the afternoon were we able to strip down from our windbreaker layer and enjoy some sun rays. The route takes us through the back roads of Seattle along the shore of Lake Washington near Seward Park into Renton (distribution center area) and further into Auburn.  I have to say that after the initial 20 miles, I kind of forgot about the scenery and became more focused on the people and the biking. 

Michelle, Shawn & Greg gearing up to go!

Michelle striking a pose at the first free food rest stop sponsored by REI.  This was the first stop of many that we were able to practice patience.  The lines for the restrooms were LONG!

Lunch!  We found a spot away from the crowds.  Looking back on it it seems like we were the only ones around.  Hah!


Michelle & Shawn gearing up.  We practiced the two/three bike kick stand quite a bit.

Michelle & Shelly

Don't forget your sunscreen!  It finally warmed up enough to take off out jackets.

Shawn, Shelly & Greg

One of my favorite spots on the ride - a twelve mile (ish) bike trail  that got us out of the traffic and we were able to enjoy the comfort of being on our bikes.  Aahhhhh.

Michelle & Shawn

NW Adventure Chics!


Greg says 'Let's Go!'

What do you mean you are out of all you can eat spaghetti?  Bummer. 

Saddle up!  Day two.Just another line for the restroom.This is where I was saying "if I don't go any farther, I would have still accomplished something...120 miles is the farthest I have rode in two days" - and it kept going up one mile at a time.
The front and back of a three seater bike.
Yo Shawn.  Leave the yoga moves to Michelle.

Hands down the best part of the ride.  This bridge is located in Kelso, WA and spans the Cowlitz River.  When I came to work for General Construction Co. in 1999, I was assigned to this project.  I helped see this bridge get built.  I won't bore you with the details - but I can say that it was a sight for a sore butt!

The line-up of bikers waiting to be escorted across the Lewis & Clark Bridge that spans the Columbia River and separates Washington State with the State of Oregon. 

Couldn't leave out the unicycler.  He's the guy in front of the gentleman in the blue jacket.  Taking photos while riding a bike is tough work.

Now, ask me if I'd do it again.  Absolutely.  But, I would prep my butt better next time.  Ouch.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

Greg (a.k.a. "Dad"), Elisa, Me, Shawn, Shelley - STP Finish, Holladay Park, Portland, OR

Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 4:55 a.m. Kingston to Edmonds Ferry. If we didn't make this ferry, we were in trouble, it's a long drive around from Kingston to Montlake. But no worries, after boarding the boat we all made a bee-line to the cafeteria for coffee. Our adventure had begun. Dad, Shelley and Elisa had all dropped off bikes and gear the previous night at our place. My step mom, Lynn, loaded up the tents, pillows, sleeping bags and such in the truck. She was gracious enough to drive down and stake out a great spot on the grass for us at the Centralia College Campus, which is the official half way point for the ride.

We arrived at the Montlake parking lot near Husky Stadium at 6:00 a.m. and those of us who hadn't picked up our packets yet headed over to the packet pick-up booth, scoring an official STP water bottle on the way, and making a quick pit-stop at the port-o-potties too. We quickly pinned our numbers on our jerseys,  and attached numbers to bikes, helmets and any bags for the luggage truck. We only had one bag between us for the luggage truck, as most were safely with Lynn.  It was overcast and cool, so I opted to wear the provided STP tyvek jacket.

Groups were rolling out about every 15 minutes, starting at 4:30 a.m. and continuing on until 7:30 a.m. There were about 10,000 cyclists who participated in this 30th edition of the ride. The STP is not a race, it is a celebration of cycling and all sorts of riders on all kinds of bicycles come out to join the fun. That said, from 4:30 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. the riders who roll out are aiming to complete the 204 mile route in one day, and they make good time. Not that anyone is timing them.

Our group rolled out at 6:30 and headed off across the Montlake Bridge and on along the shores of Lake Washington. We were on the two day ride plan, thus the camping gear.  More than a few cyclists got tangled up in crashes the first day of the ride. Most were minor incidents due to lack of experience riding in a group and people forgetting that there were 100's of cyclists behind them that they needed to communicate to regarding stopping, slowing, turning etc. By day two everyone had settled into a nice groove and the constant communication got almost silly. Almost.

How did we feel day one? Great! The sun popped out around 1 p.m. and we filled up at the REI food stops in Kent and the lunch stop in Spanaway. The food is "free" or included with your entry fee, however you want to look at it. Either way, it sure is nice to have food and beverages waiting for you every 25 miles or so. As the day wore on, butts and legs began to tire and chafe, or chafe and tire, respectively.

Rolling into the Centralia College Campus was bliss. I grabbed a free Darigold Refuel Chocolate Milk and chugged it down while my Dad and Elisa were off finding Lynn and our campsites. Aahhh, laying in the grass in the sun, knowing we didn't have to get back on our bikes for a while was delicious. Live music was playing and there were massage tents set up for those who were interested. Elisa took advantage of a great massage  before we set up our tents, lined up for the showers, then headed off to find dinner.

Azteca is where we ended up, as the food booths had mostly been wiped out by the time we decided to mozy out and get a real meal. I've never gone through so many bowls of chips and salsa waiting for a meal before; we were tempted to eat the plates by the time our food arrived. Needless to say, the town was swarmed and swamped with hungry riders.

10:00 p.m. Sleep.

5:00 a.m. Wake. Take down tent, etc. find bathrooms and breakfast. Coffee!!

6:30 a.m. Roll out. "Hey lady, slow down! You're going to fast, I have to stand up for the next 100 miles!", my husband shouted my way, getting quite a few chuckles from nearby riders. Yes, despite the padded shorts and Body Glide, our rears were feeling a bit tender. Some more than others.

Day 2 was rolling and hillier in general. The stretch between Centralia and Winlock offered quiet country roads and short ups and downs. Lot's of fun. More coffee was had in Winlock, plus a breakfast sandwich or two by some in our party. Then it was on to the lunch stop through more rolling, country roads. We arrived at the lunch stop in Lexington still cycling in clouds, with a gentle, light rain meeting us here and there.

We found Elisa, who had gotten ahead of us at the last pit stop, already in the long, but steadily moving lunch line. By the time we ate and used the facilities we were all shivering. Would the sun come out soon? We hoped for it, but it was still before noon, so time would tell.

As we had all been riding our own pace and kind of wondering where the others were for the first part of the day, we decided to stick together and use the pace line to help each other out from Lexington to the Lewis and Clark Bridge and on to the finish line. I wanted to make sure we all made it to the finish line in good shape, and together, so we could celebrate our accomplishment as a group in Holladay Park.

Riders get escorted over the Lewis and Clark Bridge in large groups by the Goldwing Touring Association. We ended up at the very front of the group of about 200 riders. Shawn, my husband, decided to scream up the bridge ahead of everybody. Elisa, Shelley and I all stuck together and shook our heads at all the water bottles littering the side of the bridge where they had been rattled loose by the jarring action of wheels going over the expansion joints. Luckily, we didn't lose anything, as there is no stopping allowed on the trip over the mighty Columbia into Oregon.

By the last "free food" stop in St. Helens the sun was out, we were tired, and the mellow music drifting out from the High School snack shack made it hard to drag our butts off the grass and back to our saddles. My Dad noted that some riders were calling it quits and catching rides at this point. We managed to get going after a prolonged break and really focused on using the pace line to pull our group to the finish together successfully.

After a seemingly wild goose chase through the city of Portland, we arrived finally at Holladay Park. Hallelujah and Amen! Where's the beer garden? My Dad bought a round for all after our bikes were all safely loaded in the bike truck bound back to Seattle. Everything tastes better after you've busted your butt for hours, and the Fat Tire Ale did not disappoint. As an added bonus, a friend of Elisa's was there to greet us and she offered us FOOT MASSAGES. It was as if the Gods had descended to bestow more blessings. Cold beer and a foot massage after 204 miles on the bike. Amen again.

And then run! Run, run, run to the bus. Oh, no! The last bus to Seattle leaves in, what?! 5 minutes. I was scrambling to change out of my riding clothes, forget about a shower. Elisa, Shelley and I were jogging out of the women's dressing room and I saw my husband waving me over to the panini stand in the hotel lobby. "We're going to miss the bus!", I yelped, as I eyed the sandwiches on the grill. We took them lightly grilled and ran. Whew. We made it on the bus and there were many jealous riders eyeing our sandwiches, and yes, they were delicious.

Home through traffic. Arrive in Montlake @ 11:00 p.m. Sunday, July 18.  Retrieve bikes from bike truck. Prop eyes open. Head home.

What a journey.

Ride on folks!  - Michelle

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Time to Share

I feel that I am now ready to share about what has been going on in my neck of the woods.  It's time to put it out there  in order to heal and to maybe make some connections with others that are experiencing similar struggles.  I do believe that we all struggle with something and yet feel that we are all alone.  We are not alone.

After an eight day hospitalization, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder.  The hospitalization came about after four nights of little sleep and two seizure like episodes that had me on top of the world.  I was HAPPY!  Picture Will Ferrell in the movie ELF when he arrives in NYC for the first time.  My point of view of the world was one of change and my filter was way off.  I was going to fix all the global problems and I thought I was someone of grand significance. 

What started it all was husband and I went to see a marriage counselor and the first visit sparked something in my brain to trigger it to fire just a bit differently.  My husband and I didn't even really say anything at that meeting, the counselor just simply told me that I needed to 'FEEL'.  Feel?!  What do you mean?  I am strong, feelings are a sign of weakness.  Those that know me would probably agree that I don't show emotion.  Oh - but I am still full of emotion.  Lots and lots of emotions and because for so many years I have been unable to show or speak them - they have been bottled up inside and are now ready to blow.  I was on a mission to show happiness and to help other seek happiness as well.

I had been taking care of myself (body) with exercise and diet.  My mind was constantly being challenged with opportunities, but my spiritual side of my self had been in a gray spot.  I grew up in an ultra religious home early on and went to school at a Christian school, until 4th grade.  Church and God were something that I learned right along with walking and talking. 

So what do you suppose was the first thing I discarded when I felt it safe to do so?!  You got it.  I was not raised in the right church environment for me.  But it was my experience.  I learned from it and continue to learn from it.  I've gone back to church a few times and haven't felt the right place yet.  I would rather go to the mountains and look at the beauty that surrounds us.  That to me is God showing his beauty and grace.  Until I was put in the hospital. 

Now I look at everything as having a purpose.  God is in control and is guiding my life and the lives of those around me.  We are all on our own journey and are all able and capable of making choices that will change directions, but God is ultimately in control. 

I have good days and I have bad days.  The bad days are mostly self inflicted as I am still learning how to retrain my brain and when I say bad - I don't mean horrible - just days that I am thinking more than I should.  My short-term memory is horrible.  My long-term memory isn't much better.  My thoughts still travel way out into left field and I have nights where I am unable to sleep.  I struggle with my patience level, which isn't good when I need to have extreme patience with three small kids.  My husband is now needing to the work of two during this time of recovery and he deserves more credit than anyone.  But all in all we are doing well.  I am surrounded by a huge network of friends that are looking out for me and my family.  I AM BLESSED!

My goal each moment of the day is to remain PRESENT, to LISTEN and to ask myself - What do I FEEL right now? 

So with that, I leave you as I feel I need to turn my attention back to my household and the two non-napping children that I have been ignoring while I type this.  Please keep me in your thoughts as I attempt the 31st Annual Seattle to Portland Bike Ride (200 miles in 2 days) this coming Saturday.  I've found it necessary to back off on my weekly training schedule and focus on recovery.  I have still been biking, but the longest ride I've completed for quite some time is a 40 miler a few weeks back. 

I have felt that I needed to get that off my back in order to move forward with the adventures to come!

Taking a leap of faith,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Timber Town 10k

Port Gamble, WA. Sunday,  July 11, 2010. - One way to get a really good running workout in is to line up for a race. You are almost guaranteed to push yourself a little hader than you would just heading out your front door for your usual, or in my case lately, not so usual, loop. I have been slacking off a bit as far as running is concerned in lieu of embracing summer and focusing on the bike, as the STP is looming. If you don't know what the STP is, it is Cascade Bicycle Club's annual one or two day ride from Seattle to Portland. This year it will be July17th and 18th. Yep, next weekend.

But back to the trail race. Part of the Roots Rock Trail Running series, the Timber Town 10k starts in a grassy meadow, up the trail a bit from the main trailhead in Port Gamble. My husband and I had it penciled on the calendar, so recent slacking or no, we were going to give it a shot. We didn't want to miss out on all the fun and great prizes. Plus, we didn't want to miss the chance to earn points for the series, a serious matter, for sure.

After parking in the grassy lawn near the race start, registering, and hitting the bathrooms, we ambled up the lane with the other runners to the starting line scratched in the dirt. The next thing we knew Poulsbo Running's Chris Hammett had shouted "Go!", and we were trotting off through the lifting fog, across the meadow and on into the single track trails leading to the main forest roads. Heading, seemingly, up and up for the first couple of miles.

Again I had failed to warmup properly and my stomach was a bit off - I"m blaming it on all the ice cream cones and Dove bars I have indulged in since it finally warmed up around here after the Fourth of July weekend. Plus, a consistent lack of sleep this last week due to the late night and wee morning yipping of the eight week old German Shorthair Pointer my husband arrived home with last week. (That's another story.)

Or maybe I was just running too hard up the hill. Hm. Anyway, after ambitiously passing two runners on the twisty single track, I found my stomach rebelling and had to pull off in the bushes to regroup. I was immediately passed by said runners, as well as another, one of the local elementary school principals who happens to be a devoted trail runner himself. "Hi Charlie!" I gasped. I certainly didn't want him, or anyone else for that matter, to see me hurling trailside at only two miles into the race-the finish line would be so much more appropriate. So I took a deep breath, focused my mind on controlling my nasea, and got myself going again, hanging on to Charlie's heels as best I could.

After another half mile of rollicking single track, we crossed a logging road and Charlie, apparently tired of me breathing down his neck, graciously encouraged me to go ahead of him. I plunged ahead into the skinny, wooded trails again, hoping I would make it to the finish line without tossing my cookies.

Happy day! I soon found my rhythm and settled in, enjoying the romp through the forest; a smile plastered to my face. It truly is a great way to start your day. Even if you're feeling a bit queazy. Seriously. The second half of the course offers exhilerating downhills on trails and roads, with just a couple short, sneaky inclines toward the final mile. After sipping the water at the aid station, I dumped the rest on my head and felt relieved by the coolness. Aaahh. Now to push hard to the finish.

Half a mile from the finish I stuttered at a wrong turn, following the runner in front of me. We both quickly realized we needed to stay on the main road to the finish, and we were off again. As I approached the finish line I could see my husband and heard him shouting, "strong finish!" and I decided to make it just that.

We milled about by the finish line, watching more runners come in, rehydrating and grabbing some fruit and bagels while we waited for the awards. We knew there would be some great prizes from the dynamic duo of Chris and Brooke Hammett, owner's of Poulsbo Running and the race organizers. Raffle prizes included a pair of shoes, Smartwool shirts, socks, hats, an Amphipod running belt (which I won, hooray!), and lots of other great prizes. Shawn and I both earned points in our age group for the Roots Rock Trail Series. I took first place in my age group and Shawn took third place in his.

Roots rock! - Michelle

Up next in the series: Port Gamble Half Marathon, August 8th, 2010

Our new pup and future trail hound. It's hard to resist this high energy surprise. Okay, we can keep her. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes stretches 71 miles from Plummer, Idaho to the town of Mullan. It is a paved trail and is a cyclists dream. Clean, scenic, mostly flat, few street crossings (I don't think we came to more than three stop signs for 45 miles!) with bathrooms placed regularly along the trail, although no running water is to be found at these bathroom stops, so stock up your bottles at Harrison, or at one of the other towns further east.
We started our ride at the Plummer trailhead, where it is mostly downhill all the way to Harrison. After Harrison the trail is flat and straight. There is a beautiful bridge crossing over Lake Coeur d'Alene along the way to Harrison from Plummer near Chatcolet. The wind was at our backs the whole way out to Gap Rock (about 45 miles from Plummer), which we didn't fully realize until we started on our return journey. No wonder the first 45 miles felt so easy!

Gap Rock rest stop is located just after the trail crosses under Interstate 90. We enjoyed the shaded picnic bench and were entertained by the chipmunks as we took a short break before making the return journey. Our new plan was to stop in Harrison on the way back for burgers and drafts. It was a good carrot to keep us going as we were getting tired and the wind was no longer our friend. This would be the longest ride any of us had done within the last two years, and what a great place to do it!

The Chain Lakes section graced us with blue heron and bald eagle sightings, as well as cows and horses. Numerous recumbent bike groups were taking advantage of this wonderful trail as well; we must have seen at least twenty recumbents.

The intrepid cyclists arrive at Harrison, ID. Where's the burgers?

A trailside pub delivers the goods, plus outdoor dining and a great view.

Chatcolet Bridge allows bike and pedestrians to cross the south end of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Ninety Miles! Whew. What a great ride. I think we are all ready for the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride coming up mid-July.

Pedal on folks!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Experiencing Thai Massage

I love getting massages. My husband is pretty good at giving a good massage himself, but nothing beats a  full hour of professional massage. I've had deep tension releasing massages, hot stone massages, therapeutic massages, Swedish massage, sports massages.....it sounds like I get massages all the time, doesn't it? Well, the truth is, I treat myself to a massage after a big event, such as a marathon, and my husband signs me up for a nice massage from time to time, usually around Mother's Day or my birthday. So, really, I'd say I splurge for a professional massage about twice a year-and I'm always glad I did.

So here was something new, one of the yoga instructors (who also is a licensed massage therapist) at the yoga studio where I teach is getting a new type of massage certification in Thai Massage, and she has been putting her new skills to test on the rest of us down at the studio (bummer for us, lol). I gladly offered  my bod up to practice new techniques on, not really knowing what it was all about, but always up for a new adventure.

I think I timed it right, because I don't think Michelle needs anymore practice getting her new massage techniques down. I guess it pays to be the last guinea pig! Ninety minutes is the minimum time for a real Thai Massage and it can be continued for up to three hours. The massage is conducted on a mat on the floor with the use of different yoga props, including bolsters, blankets and pillows. Clients wear comfortable, stretchy clothing, such as you would wear to a yoga or fitness class. There is no use of oils or lotions. It incorporates yoga postures and breathing, as well as traditional massage techniques. Also, the massage therapist will use his or her feet to massage different muscles. No, she didn't walk on me but pressure was applied using the feet, and it felt fabulous. I found myself wondering if she was using her hands or her feet at times, often I wasn't sure which it was. At the end, I felt stretched, aligned and most of all, relaxed. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it.

Massage, a great addition to your overall long term health maintenance plan. If you're interested in giving it a try, Michelle is offering a discount throughout the month of July. Contact info. is below. Enjoy!

Michelle Clemens, LMP
Nationally Certified
Therapeutic Massage and Body Work


Well Being  Health Center
19337 Jensen Way NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370

Happy Massaging!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Training with a PAC

It just comes down to the fact that working toward a goal with like minded people, interested in having fun at the same time is one of the reasons why I like training for triathlons and it's THAT time of year again!  I joined the inaugural Power PAC group from the local gym I belong to and now we are off and running with year #2 of training.

Here's to another year of memories and laughs ladies!

Seattle Danskin 2009
(back: Gnome, Sheenah, Tara, Audrey, Liz, Betsy, Annika, Jen, Elisa, Mary
front:  Michele, Lori, Julie, Laura)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Save the Date

The NW Adventure Chics are entering the world of race directing. We are excited to be organizing the 1st Annual Poulsbo Marathon and Half Marathon, here in beautiful Poulsbo, WA and the surrounding area.

1st Annual Poulsbo Marathon
and Half Marathon

Lutefisk, Lefse, Ya Sure You Betcha!
October 17th, 2010
Full Marathon Run
Half Marathon Run/Walk

Both Races Start and Finish at North Kitsap High School

Stay tuned for more info!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Books That Motivate

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports
 by Kathrine Switzer

"The most important running book in the last ten years." - Marathon and Beyond

Chapter 12 Official at Last

"And so, uh...you ladies are welcome at Boston. But you have to meet the men's qualifying time!" -Jock Semple (somewhat grudgingly), April 16, 1972

"We were official! We did it! It was an exhilarating victory and the end of a six-year campaign that was by turns controversial, exasperating, and exhausting. We were free to be athletes and no longer had to run carrying the banner of the whole female sex. It was very important: this acceptance marked the first time in history that women were given permission (and thus, endorsement) to participate in what had previously been a men-only sports event. We knew we were breaking down a political and social barrier just as surely as our suffragist foremothers did when the won the right to vote, or forced universities to become coeducational."    - Kathrine Switzer

In 1967 Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon (others had run, surreptitiously hiding in the bushes by the start and joining the race in progress, never receiving official recognition),  flying under the "no women" policy radar by entering as K. Switzer. She diligently trained for the race with her college track coach  and on race day was supported and encouraged by the somewhat surprised male runners around her. However, when the race director spotted her and recognized that she was clearly a woman, he was far from happy about it.

"....I heard the scraping of leather shoes coming up fast behind me, an alien and alarming sound amid the muted thump-thumping of the rubber running shoes........before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back screaming,"Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" -Kathrine Switzer, on her skirmish with Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple (Chapter 7)

That was just the beginning of Kathrine Switzer's efforts to make the Boston Marathon, as well as other distance events, open to women, and ultimately to get the marathon added for women in the Olympic Games in 1984. This is a fabulous, and  inspiring memoir. A "must read" for all runners, as well as those interested in the history of civil rights.

Happy reading folks! - Michelle

click here to link to the book at Barnes & Noble: Marathon Woman, by Kathrine Switzer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chilly Hilly With A Toe Jam Kicker

Shawn, Elisa, Greg - Near Battlepoint Park

***Warning, intrepid cyclists only need apply. ***
Oh, yeah, that's us.
 Welcome home Daddy-O! My dad just rolled into town fresh from the dry desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona, so we decided to reaquaint him with the joys of cycling in Kitsap County, Washington. We (us year round Washingtonians) thought it was a warm day. It had to be in the upper 60's, for sure, maybe even the low 70's, and the sun was gracing us with it's presence. Shawn, Elisa and I all whipped our jackets and/or sleeves off after the first few hills on the approach to Battlepoint Park on Bainbridge Island. He kept his thermal underlayer on. It is a true testament to how well the body adapts to different climates.

A "woo" worthy climb. One of many.

Shawn, Michelle, Greg, Elisa with Illahee Beach State Park across the water behind us.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

Just to add a little fun and extra challenge into our adventure, Shawn led us through Fort Ward State Park, and out along the water on the south side of the island. It seems the park is not currently being maintained, but it is still suitable for biking. Shortly thereafter, as we were strolling along the water just admiring the view, we took a sharp left and, gulp!, craned our heads upwards as we scrambled to get into a manageable gear for our attempt up Toe Jam Hill-site of the annual Toe Jam Half Marathon.

It was a close call, and we certainly were wishing for mountain bike gears, but we made it up the steepest section, and after that, although we were still climbing, it almost felt like we were heading downhill, such was the relief we felt. There were still many more hills to conquer and downhills to freewheel. My Cateye clocked my top speed at 39.8 mph. Yahooooo! Good thing I didn't hit a pothole-but what fun.

Welcome Home Dad!!! -Michelle

Bainbridge Ferry with Seattle Skyline

About three hours into our ride, my Dad (a.k.a. Greg) was shaking his head at our distance covered. We had pulled off along the east side of the island, along a beach road with a stunning view of Seattle across the Salish Sea, to gobble down whatever food or gels we had left at that point. We were 40 miles into our ride. "I'm usually at home and relaxing in the pool by now," he quipped. "Welcome back," laughed Elisa. "No kidding," he replied with a wry grin. The hills really do slow you down. Fact.

We continued on the roller coaster route, making our way back to the Agate Pass Bridge, which leads into Suquamish and onto Poulsbo. We will all be riding together in the upcoming Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, otherwise known as the STP, next month. This ride was a great confidence booster for all of us. I think we are all really looking foward to our upcoming 200+ mile jaunt from the Emerald City to the Rose City.

55 miles, 4 hours: A challenging social ride. :)

Happy riding folks!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Hammer Nutrition

I recently attended a West Sound Triathlon Club meeting where Brian Frank, owner and co-founder of Hammer Nutrition spoke on endurance nutrition needs and guidelines.   His talk was aimed at those of us that train for events lasting more than 2 hours and really closer to 3 hours in duration or greater.  This could include triathletes, marathoner runners and century cyclists. 

I am providing a general overview (from my notes) as to the highlights of the discussion.  I am not making any judgements to the truth behind his statements or opinions, nor am I assuming I have perceived his information 100% correctly, as he intended it to be perceived.  It is just information.

Brian's discussion was broken down into three main talking points, highlighted below and discussed in greater detail to follow:

  1. Fluid
  2. Calories
  3. Electrolytes

We, as a whole, live in a state of dehydration.  Then right before an event, we pack in the fluids.  Our body has adjusted to the dehydrated state and now doesn't know what to do with the excess water - it is confused.  We should effectively hydrate always.  RULE OF THUMB:  1/2 of your body weight in ounces each day - throughout the day (don't drink more than 20-24 oz. in any one hour).  Also, know how much you have been drinking.


As a whole, we tend to over consume on calories.  If we are following a training schedule that allows for a period of tapering, there should be no need to 'carb' load prior to a race event.  The reduction in activity and training will provide adequate calorie or a deposit into a carb bank to aid on event day.  Carb loading the evening before an event will only make you 'full' and will make for a potential stomach/GI concern, which is never good on race day.

We need to figure out how many calories our bodies need to sustain energy levels throughout training and competition.  That number should be the least amount one can consume, any more than that is unnecessary.  The number should be no more than 200 calories/hour MAX.  For triathletes, those calories are consumed on the bike and during the run.  Need to keep in mind that you will not want to feel full as you are coming off the bike and moving into the run - monitor those calories carefully.  When running, our bodies process fewer calories - about a third fewer than on the bike. 


On average, we consume over 8,500 mg of sodium each day.  Our bodies only need 1,800 - 2,400 mg of sodium daily.  Therefore, our bodies can not process sodium correctly and have adjusted to high sodium nature most of us have.  It was noted that if you are serious about performance - CHANGE DIET! 

Be honest with sodium.  If you operate in a low sodium state and were fast prior to the race you can replace sodium.  Sweat = high sodium diet.  Don't be afraid of replacing if managed. 

How do we know if we have too much = SWELLING.


To ensure that our bodies are burning fat energy vs. glycogen (muscle) energy, it is a good idea to train and start races on an EMPTY stomach - for any event, short (sprint tri) or long.  There is no need to eat.  It takes three hours to digest - plan from there.   Not a bad idea to take in 100 calories (gel) as you enter water for the swim and then once on the bike fuel up as your caloric needs require.

Summarized by Elisa

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Books That Motivate

***One of Sports Illustrated's Ten Best Books of the Year***

"What emerges here is an athlete whose determination is so fierce that it seems almost exotic. She is fit. She is focused. She is Lance Armstrong with body fat." - USA Today

Excerpt from the book:

"The tide was racing at maybe ten knots by now, and the strength of the whirlpool was growing. Immediately, I cut to the right and swam with all my strength. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw John and the skiff captain caught on the outer edge of the whirlpool." (On her way to being the first person to have swum across the Strait of Magellan.)

"I can do this; I really can do this, without a wet suit or anything to warm me. It is amazing how incredible the human body is that it can do so much. That it can go beyond the everydayness of life; that it can be extraordinary and powerful, and harbor a spirit of hope and pure will." -Lynne Cox

Sometimes the perfect book falls into your hands right when you need it most. If you're training for a triathlon or straight out open water swimming event and you are looking for some motivation, you seriously need to read this book. Oh yeah, and everyone else out there too, swimmer or no. This woman's accomplishments and spirit are truly inspirational.

She set the first of her many world record open water swims when she crossed the English Channel at only sixteen. She eventually swam across the icy Bering Strait-without a wetsuit. She has been studied by scientists eager to find out how she can survive in water temperatures where most would quickly perish. In her book, she does a wonderful job of taking the reader into her mind, so that I felt like I was swimming right there alongside her-if only I had the athleticism, skill and mental toughness to do so.

Happy reading folks!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Mudfest at Blue Lake

June 6, 2010 - Blue Lake Triathlon & Duathlon - Olympic Distance (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run); (5k run/40k bike/10k run) -  Fairview, OR

***My First Olympic Distance Triathlon***

What's that big bright thing in the sky? - When my husband and I arrived in Portland on Saturday, June 5th, the sun was shining and it felt like summer, which was very welcome after experiencing one of the coldest, wettest May's on record this year here in the Pacific Northwest. After picking up our race packets at Blue Lake Park, we dropped our bikes off in the transition zone with numbers attached (they would be secured overnight by event staff) and headed over to the swim beach to have a look at the lake.

Blue Lake is beautiful and with the warm, sunny weather it was tempting to get our suits on and jump in for a swim. Families and kids were playing in the water and soaking up the sun. The swim course was already marked by big green and red buoys. There had been a sprint distance triathlon, as well as kids triathlon already that morning. A typical sprint distance triathlon involves a 1/2 mile swim, a 15 mile bike, followed by a five kilometer run (3.1 miles). Distances can vary a bit depending on the course.

Parking for the course was moved to the Chinook Landing about 1.5 miles from the park due to excessive precipitation the week prior, rendering the grassy fields that were to be used for parking a muddy mess. In order to save the grass from being completely ruined, cars needed to be kept off it as much as possible. Shuttle busses were available to deliver us to the transition zone from the parking lot on race morning.

After checking out the lake we headed back towards Portland to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Benson, a beautiful, historic hotel right on Broadway. Unbeknownst to us, the annual Rose Parade and Starlight Run were scheduled for that evening and would run right past our hotel. Oh, goody. lol. So much for early to bed; might as well enjoy the festive mood surrounding us (shoulder shrug and grin). We should have added that run to our weekend, had we only known sooner; I do love to dress up!

Apparently Portland has more micro-breweries than any other city in the United States; my husband was keen to check them out (okay, I was interested too), so we strolled over to Deschutes Brewery for appetizers and fresh drafts.  After enjoying the great atmosphere there we headed over the Henry's, to enjoy their outdoor patio dining and watch all the costumed people fueling up before the Starlight Run and the Parade. It was the perfect evening for a parade: warm and windless.

We enjoyed the run and some of the parade from our hotel window, which got rolling around 9:30 p.m. We knew though, that we had to rise early the next morning in order to be ready to race at 8:00 a.m. in Fairview, so we closed the shade well before the festivities ended and drifted in and out of sleep to the tune of marching bands and parade revelers, until the police cleared the streets around midnight.

Race morning dawned with the pitter patter of rain on our window. Say what?! Yes, rain. Breakfast was coffee and a Cliff Bar for both of us. We left our hotel at 6:15 a.m. and headed to Blue Lake, having to switch lanes on the freeway as our car was hydroplaning in the puddled ruts. Could it rain any harder? It always does right when you pose that question, doesn't it? We parked at Chinook Landing and joined the line of triathletes waiting in the downpour for the shuttle buses. We were all shaking our heads and laughing at the abrupt change in weather. Yesterday had been so promising!

After arriving at the park, we made our way toward the transition zone, with a quick stop at the restrooms on the way. I was using an umbrella in a mostly futile attempt to stay dry (and warm) until the race start. We half joked that we should have stayed at the hotel, slept in and partook in the special champagne brunch they were hosting in one of their restaurants that morning.

Bodies marked, bikes racked, helmets, shoes, etc. organized for a speedy  transition at our assigned rack locations, we wished each other good luck and Shawn headed off to start his duathlon, while I finished donning my wetsuit and headed down to the lake.  The duathlon and first wave of triathletes began at 8:00 a.m. Waves began in five minute increments according to age, with the elites starting the race off first in a special "elite" wave. My wave began at 8:30, so I had time to start getting a chill in my wetsuit while waiting on the beach.

The 60 something degree water felt downright tropical when I  got in and swam out to the starting corral with the other gals in the 40-49 age group. After all my worries and preparations for the swim, it ended up being the best part of the race. Swimming in the rain is much more enjoyable than racing your bike through street wide puddles. I felt relaxed most of the swim with the exception of swallowing a bit of water from an unexpected wave in my face and the few times that faster swimmers in the waves behind me bumped into me as they overtook me on their way to the finish. My swim time was 38:38. It's relatively slow, but for me it was a victory. I exited the water running and feeling good, already unzipping my wetsuit and pulling my arms free as I ran through the mud toward my first transition (T1).

Wetsuit off, helmet on, glasses on, then off (better vision without in the downpour!), bike shoes on, bike jersey on, grab bike and run through the muddy, grassy chute to the road. Ding. Bike leg has started. Clip in and go! The bike leg is a mostly flat course with two out and back sections, the second one along the river(?) and airport. There were a couple dicey spots in the park where we had to cut through the muddy grass, making a u-turn back to the transition zone.

Cycling past the airport on the return to the park, a plane took off to my right, heading the opposite direction as me, while a blue heron simultaneously glided across the road right in front of me. At that moment, I felt very glad to be out there, pedaling hard in the inclement weather.

During the bike leg I had a little competition going with a very fit older (68) gentlemen on a tri bike. I caught up with him and passed him about 7 miles into the course, after which we leapfrogged each other at least seven times. If one of us lost concentration or paused to hydrate or fuel up, the other would pounce and pass. It really made it fun and kept the pace going for both of us. Drafting is not allowed in triathlons, so when you pass, you have to do it decisively and the other person may not grab on to your wheel as you would see in races such as the Tour de France. In triathlon, you are on your own and it is essentially a time trial.

Twenty five miles later, as I dismounted and jogged back through the mud with my bike, I realized that my legs felt really good and ready to run. This was partly thanks to my good fueling and hydrating efforts during the bike leg. (Gels at miles 1 and 22, with electrolyte drink steadily along the way.) My T2 (transition two: bike to run) was faster than my T1, but would have been speedier if I had been able to get my helmet off more quickly! My hands were wet, cold and stiff, so stiff that I had a really hard time just squeezing the little chin-strap buckle. I finally got it off and quickly slipped my shoes on in the mud (no socks), grabbed my hat and race belt and headed out of transition to the run portion of the race. The approach to the run leg exit resembled a pig pen, with the mat virtually camouflaged in mud.

As I started off through the park my legs felt good and I picked up my pace. Mud and puddles really don't bother me when I'm running. As others jogged around each puddle, I splashed right through, high stepping it as I went. Two miles in and 4.2 miles to go to the finish, I had a smile on my face. It was hard but I was having a blast out there. I had passed numerous people on the bike leg, but on the run I was overtaking people left and right. I offered up some "good jobs" and some were tossed my way as well.

About 150 yards from the finish line I spotted at gal with the number 40 on her right calf (someone in my age group!). I sped past her, up away from the lake, and down through the finish chute, almost losing my shoe in the mud as I approached. Whew, I did it! Shawn was there, freezing his butt off in the pouring rain, waiting for me. He soon headed off on his bike, back to the van to find something warm to wear. My run time was 46:59.

Shawn did great in the duathlon and I'm hoping to keep improving on my swimming abilities for future triathlons. What a great feeling to have trained and finished successfully. It's all about actively living life. There is just so much out there to experience. Rain or shine, it's all grand.

Ride on folks!


Friday, June 4, 2010

Reflection and Refocusing

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some recent events and discoveries are requiring me to slow down and reflect on many different things on many different levels.  I guess you could say I have been forced to stop and smell the roses.  While I will not be partaking in this weekend's Blue Lake Tri as Michelle and her husband will be (and as my plan and training has worked toward) but I will definitely be cheering them on in spirit!   

I leave you with this...

We Are a Part of the Earth

...the earth's swift rivers, the silent footsteps of spring, the sparkling ripples on the surface of the ponds, the bright colors of the birds.  We are a part of the earth and it is a part of us. - Chief Seattle (c. 1790-1866)

We Belong to Each Other

We may wonder whom can I love and serve?  Where is the face of God to whom I can pray?  The answer is simple.  That naked one.  That lonely one.  That unwanted one is my brother and my sister.  If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  -Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Adventures in Open Water Swimming

There I was, back at the lake again. It was cloudy and cold, but calm. The water was glass. I had a friend with me who was a very competent swimmer. She left it up to me as to where and how far we would swim. I decided on a couple warmup loops close to shore before heading across the lake. It was a quarter mile swim across and I felt strong and relaxed this time, if not especially speedy.

After arriving at our destination, we chose another point to swim to further up the lake, adding another quarter mile. I arrived at our second resting spot feeling good and so with encouragement from my buddy, we decided to swim the full half mile straight back to the swim beach where we had originally started.

The trickiest part of this portion was sighting. The beach was a long way off and at one point I looked up and realized I was swimming in a circle! Yikes. Redirect. This was followed by a bit more zigzagging by both of us until we reached the shore. I'm not sure how much we added on to the distance by swimming slalom, but I finished feeling strong and picked up the pace for the final 100 meters.

I DID IT!!! I swam a whole mile in the lake. Our last half mile took us twenty minutes,well, really me, because my friend kept getting ahead of me and then swimming back. If I can keep up that pace for the swim portion of my upcoming triathlon I will be out of the water in a reasonable forty minutes, with my legs still fully rested, as I have given up using my kick at all. I can do the whole swim without kicking at all due to all the balance drills I have been practicing using the Total Immersion drill series. In the end, that is what has brought me to the place where I can comfortably swim a full mile without tiring. If I keep it up, I know I will eventually get faster. An added benefit is that my legs will be fully ready to cycle and run, which are my strong suits.

I'm actually starting to look forward to this Olympic Distance Triathlon. Who would have thought? Probably everybody I know except me. LOL.

Michelle's Swim Training for Olympic Distance Tri:
Week 1: Wed.- TI Drills; 10x100 w/ 8 rest breaths; Thurs. - same as Wednesday
Week 2: No swimming (family vacation)
Week 3: Wed. - TI Drills; 10x100 w/ 6  breaths; Thurs. - same as Wednesday but took more rests at wall
Week 4: Wed. - TI Drills, 12x100 w/ 6-8 breaths; Thurs. - same as Wed.
Week 5: Wed. - TI Drills, 12x100 w/ 6 breaths
Week 6: Tues. - Drills, 12x100 (6 breaths); Thurs. - TI Drills, Swim w/ fists, pull buoy, 12x100 w/ 6 recovery breaths and half with no kick
Week 7: Tues.- 800 yds.
Week 8: Tues.- Lake swim 800 yds.
Week 9: Tues.-Lake swim 650 yds.; Thurs.- Lake swim 800 yds; Sat.-Lake Swim 800 yds.
Week 10: Mon.-(pool) 1500 straight w/ pull buoy; Wed.-(pool) 800 yds.; Thurs.- Lake Swim 1750 yds.
Race Week: !!!!!??????

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Sneak Peak at the Tour de Kitsap 2010 route(s)

My original plan was to participate in the Munchen Haus bike ride over in Leavenworth, however circumstances were such that I was home in Kitsap County on the morning of the ride.  Despite being home, I was still mentally prepared to do a century ride that day, and so decided to check out the Tour de Kitsap route, which is coming up July 25th. I've ridden most of the sections before, except for the loop out to Scenic Beach and around Kitsap Lake. It's a gorgeous, hilly ride in every direction.

I started out from home and hopped on the route in reverse at the junction of Totten and Widme roads out near Suquamish. From there I had mostly cloudy skies through Suquamish, Indianola, and Kingston. As I approached Port Gamble, though, the skies cleared to mostly blue and I took the opportunity to sit and have an apple, a blueberry muffin and a Red Bull while watching the bustle of people at the farmers market.

"What a great day for a bike ride," one lady exclaimed to me, as I sat. I smiled and replied, "we'll see what it looks like by the time I'm done." I was 26 miles into my ride and had many more miles, and hours of riding left before reaching my brother-in-law's house in Tracyton, where I would meet my family for dinner and catch a ride home.

From Port Gamble, I headed along the highway past the Hood Canal Bridge and turned off toward Memorial State Park, riding through Lofall and the surrounding communities, heading towards Finn Hill in Poulsbo and then on to Clear Creek road, which leads all the way into Silverdale. From there, the route jumps over to Old Frontier, which led me to Newberry Hill and out to Seabeck Highway.

It was on Old Frontier that the torrential downpour began. I kept hoping it would abate, as I was determined to make it out to the Seabeck Highway loop, as well as Kitsap Lake....the portions of Kitsap I had yet to explore on bike.

Newberry Hill is actually at the very start of the Tour de Kitsap ride, which begins in Silverdale, and is a very long hill, with a roller in the middle. I put it in an easy gear and kept a steady pace and didn't have much of a struggle with it at all. At the junction with Seabeck Highway the course goes right  and I enjoyed the looooooong downhill that loops around toward Scenic Beach State Park. In fact, it was such a long hill that pedaling was a waste and as it was raining buckets on me the whole way down, I got quite cold and stiff  and looked forward to pedalling again by the end of it.

Along the canal I stopped at a little store near Lone Rock that was closed, but had a covered patio with a picnic table, to get out of the rain and respond to the ringing of my cell phone. It was my husband, offering to come rescue me from the downpour. I declined. I could see a large patch of blue sky heading my way over the canal and had a good feeling. I would be riding in the sun again soon, I just knew it.

Or maybe not. The rain continued and I began to get quite hungry. Shorty after turning off onto Holly Road I came upon a Texaco/Food Mart with a sheltered store front. Inside, the clerk eyed me with much concern and encouraged me to stand by the food warmer. I laughed and ordered a burrito. Yum, chomp, and I was on my way again.

I decided to skip the Kitsap Lake portion of the ride and turned left onto Seabeck Highway from Holly Road, heading back to Newberry Hill-where the sun did come back out to greet me! Despite the reemergence of the sun, my hands were wet and cold and I was having difficulty shifting from my small chain ring in front to the big ring, so I spent the last several miles spinning at a slightly higher cadence than I would have normally chosen. Such is the dangers of riding in the wind and rain, but it was all worth the effort.

Newberry Hill led me down to Old Town Silverdale, where I turned and headed along the bay, up Bucklin Hill to Tracyton Road, arriving finally at my brother-in-law's place and the promise of dinner and a hot shower. My husband was kind enough to bring me some dry clothes to change into.

What a gorgeous ride, even in the rain.
72.6 miles, 5 hours 12 minutes of cycling

Tour de Kitsap  - July 25, 2010 offers 32, 46.8, 71, and 100 mile routes with aid stations and support. It is part of Silverdale's annual Whaling Days Festival.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Me vs. The Water

Pool Time
I refuse to be conquered by the water. I will swim confidently. Damn it. That was my mentality when I arrived at the pool the day after my lake fiasco last week. I was thinking about the pool the way a fighter might consider his or her opponent in the ring. I was mentally shaking my fist at the lap lanes as I walked out of the locker room. That's it, I'm doing this. No more warm ups, Total Immersion drills, counting strokes, taking yoga breaths at the wall......nope, just get in and swim, and don't stop. Okay, stop eventually, but not before 45 minutes was up at least. Guess what? It happened.

Okay, I confess, I cheated a bit. I used a pull buoy for the whole swim. (Which is just more proof of how intimidated I am by swimming.) My kick is such that it is hindering me more than helping me anyway, so I used arms only for 30 straight minutes, at which point cramps I had been fighting in my toes, feet and finally calves got the best of me and I decided it was time to get out. I was thrilled though, that I didn't feel tired or out of breath the entire swim, so I dubbed it a success and made a mental note to arrive at the pool hydrated next time.

Lake Time
Fast forward to the following Tuesday, back a the lake. I didn't want to use that same old shorty wetsuit  that I had been so miserable in last week, and I didn't have time on short notice to pick up a rental. But I really needed to get back in the lake, so, in an apparent attempt to sabotage myself, I decided to us my husband's old surfing wetsuit (he's six foot two, I"m five five and a half). If nothing else I provided everybody with some comic relief.

This time I stayed closer to shore and did loops around the pilings. I didn't feel too streamlined, but I did feel buoyant, which boosted my confidence. Still, it was COLD and I was ready to get out after about 650 yards. 

Pool Time
Wednesday morning I went back to the pool and resolved myself to swim 1500 straight with no pull buoy and no rest breaks. I did a short warm-up then started off, counting wall tags to make sure I swam the whole distance. Lo and behold, I DID IT! I got into a good rhythm with my breathing and just kept going, taking one short break to swish my goggles in the water since they were fogging up. On my last wall tag I looked at my watch: 37 minutes! That's a respectable time, I thought, a capable time. I even had the energy to speed up for the last 100 yards. I got out of the pool thinking: bring on the half iron man!

Now, to see if I could feel this good in the cold, open water of the lake in May.

Lake Time
Thursday morning, back at the lake. I had a new wetsuit this time. A full suit, but sleeveless and it fit me. Perhaps my subconscious is trying to tell me something though, because just as I arrived at the lake I realized I had forgotten my cap and goggles! Crap. Elisa saved the day by producing some kid goggles out of her son's swim bag. The cap I could do without.

I felt better this time and I liked the sleeveless wetsuit. My arms had easy, full range of motion. Still, it was cold. Brr. The wind and a few raindrops were present, and also a few rays of sun. I managed about 700 yards of good freestyle and headed in to shore feeling more confident than the last time, but knowing that the more times I get in the lake before the Blue Lake Triathlon on June 6th, the better.

I'm heading back out tomorrow to tackle the lake yet again. Wetsuit, check. Goggles, check. Swim cap, check. Booties, check. Gloves, check. This time I'm going to try to stay warm and swim a full mile.

I'll let you know how it goes.