Thursday, August 30, 2007


Well, the race just got more real for me. The bib numbers are in. I was trying to figure out this nervousness. How can I be so nervous? I feel prepared. But can't seem to shake the jitters. It's the same feeling you had when you were a kid waiting in line at the carnival. You wanted to ride the Zipper but when you saw it spinning and flipping and watched how high in the air it was when it stopped and then there was the chance you would stop upside down - well geeze, just writing it I'm getting nervous. But then you got on and well, it was great. The tumbling and turning and laughing and screaming. And then you got off and you wanted to do it all over again. Well, I'm waiting in line to get on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time to Clear the Mind

Ok, well, those who thought they knew me are going to get to know the real me these last 10 days before IMWI. It has started. My mind may have been mush before but the haze has set in. The extreme sighing is becoming more frequent. And I am creating small checklists in my mind of what to take, eat, wear, and so on but when I go to write it down can't remember what I just thought of.

I have been reading fellow bloggers and tri mates blogs the last couple of days. They have become retrospective. Clear thoughts about what the past year of training has meant to them. I have given the past year a lot of thought. I have definitely had time to do it with all the long rides, runs and swims. But now, today, as I sit here and try to put it all down - well I can't seem to organize the thoughts. If I have a moment of clarity I plan to put all those thoughts into words but for now - well I hope I can thru the grocery store without buying what I don't need, I hope I put the groceries away in all the right cabinets. I hope I drop the kids school forms off at school and the mail at the post office and not vice versa.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Ironman - My Incredible Shrinking Husband

My husband started his "Ironman" journey January 1, 2007. With his blood pressure numbers rising he decide to make changes in his life before his blood pressure made those changes for him. In January he changed his diet. In March he started to walk. In June he started to ride his bike on Sundays. Sounds easy huh? Just like all you have to do in an Ironman is swim, bike and run. For anyone who has struggled with weight or who has trained for an Ironman knows that it's not "that easy". Today, he is over 100 pounds lighter than he was 01-01-07. He is my inspiration. He is my hero. He is and will always be my Ironman.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday - Verona / Sunday - Rain, Run, Swim

I started writing this blog yesterday, Saturday, thinking not much would happen today, Sunday. I had an hour swim and a 2 hour run on the schedule. The most important part of the training plan was to be finished by 9 so I could be home in time to go to church at 11. Didn't think this training day would be a big deal....... Got in the car at 4:40, half way into the city the rains came down. Hard. Torrential. Wipers weren't wiping the water off fast enough. Lightening. Thunder. The works. UGH! I hate running in this but there was no way I could swim. Lightening = no swimming.
It was still pouring when I reached tri-beach. Saw Bubba waiting in his car. Gave him a toot and found a spot 2 blocks up. "Rain before 7 gone by 11" I thought. Wait, I needed to be done by 9, well I would hope for the best. The rain let up and then stopped about a mile into the run. The lake was churning. Waves. Waves. And more WAVES. There was no one running. Just city workers picking up trash from the day before. It was still dark but an occasional flash of lighting would brighten the sky. Stopped by North ave. and used the p.a.p. Coming out I nearly ran into a group of guys and one very cold young lady walking down to the lake. It was obvious that they had enjoyed the night before and decided to watch the sun come up before getting to bed. Aaaahhhh, to be young again. They questioned my sanity for 1. running so early and 2. running in stormy weather. Hmmm. They probably drank more alcohol than I have had in the past 2 years and they are stammering towards a choppy lake in the rain - and they are questioning me?! :)
The miles passed pretty quick. Runners were slowing starting to appear. No one was saying good morning. I was starting to feel like a leper. At least on the bike if you don't want to say hello you just nod. No nods, smiles or hello's this morning. Bubba told me not to take it personally, I was a suburban girl in the city. Finally, with about 4 miles left people starting smiling and nodding back! YEAH! Made me happy. The waves were still out there. The water was turning. Couldn't even see the buoys off of North ave. Was asking myself, how could I swim to the 4th buoy if I couldn't see it? With a mile left Bubba asked if I was going to swim. I could see tri-beach and the water seemed a little calmer inside the the break-wall. I told him to ask me when we got to the beach. Ok, we're at the beach. Swim? I had to try. Even if I just swam the first 200 M, and just kept going around them, it was important that I got my swim in.
Put on the wetsuit, cap, goggles. Got in the water and felt this piercing in my lower back, and then a burning feeling. What? Grabbed my back and then felt it again! What the ...., something was stinging me. Here was my chance. I could get out right now. No swimming in the waves today. Well, I know I'm not allergic to bees or wasps, so it was just a sting, no damage. Watched as Bub swam away. Enough nonsense I thought. Just go. I don't know why today was different from the other times I struggled but for some reason today was different. I felt relaxed. As a wave came I was able to swim with it. Up and down. I wasn't fighting the water but floating in it. My arms moved me forward, my legs propelled me. I would float and swim, all at the same time. It all fell into place. I was ecstatic!!! Stay calm, stay focused. Just keep going. Thank you Jesus. I can't wait to call Keri and tell her. I can't wait to tell Scott. I repeated those 3 things over and over.
I made it to 700 M. The waves were coming quicker now. They seemed to have gotten larger. I heard a group of women standing on the running path. I would go up, EEEEE they would squeal, I would come down, OOOOO they would moan. I finally stopped and looked at them. They started running and I continued on, for about 4 more strokes. I checked my watch. It was 8:30. I didn't care how long it took me to get to this point or that it was time for me to turn around. I conquered the waves!!! I ended up getting out of the water at the 200 M mark. All the turning and movement made me feel sick. Like sea sick. Saw a tri mate on the beach earlier in the swim and he had to get out at 800 M because of the sea sick feeling, now it was my turn. Again, I didn't care. I was thrilled with my swim. THRILLED!!! Mission accomplished, run - done, swim (in the waves!!!) - done, church on time - done. :) While in church I thanked Jesus one more time in case he didn't hear me the first 100 times I was in the water.
One year ago I never heard of Verona Wisconsin. If someone asked if I knew where Verona was I probably would have guessed Italy or Spain. Today I can get there without the help of Map Quest.

Friday was my last training ride on the Ironman course. The weather was perfect and thanks to the sinus infection, I was well rested. Keri drove up with me and we met Bubba. Had made 2 maps of the course for me and Keri so we wouldn't get lost but surprised myself with how little I needed to look at the map for direction. While riding I worked on keeping my mind and body still while climbing the hills and staying focused on being in the moment of the ride. I've learned how defeating it is to think "I still have another loop left". On the other hand, I enjoyed riding with Keri and letting her know what was coming when we would turn a corner. It was a big bang to my confidence realizing I had become familar with the course.
Race day is less than 3 weeks now. Tick tock. There's nothing I can do now that is going to change my performance on race day. Tick, tock, tick tock.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Have a Note From My Doctor -EXCUSED (or excuses)

Um, excuse me, Ms. Bernhardt. Hi, it's Pam. I have a note from my doctor. She said I have a sinus infection and that I have to lay off training for at least 3 days - probably more but at least 3. If I'm feeling better tomorrow tho, I'm going to suit up and just kind of do what I can. So, I'll see ya Thursday.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Double D and the CDC

Keri and I headed up to Wisconsin to ride the Dairyland Dare 100k - some of the Moo Crew and club members were riding the 200K. We planned on meeting them Saturday morning in Dodgeville. I picked Keri up from work Friday afternoon. I was starving. I packed grapes, frosted pretzels, water and gatorade to snack on. As we inched our way out of the city, during rush hour, I nibbled and then began taking handfuls of food to try and fill my grumbling stomach. The snacks weren't working, I needed real food. As we approached Rosemont, I almost caused an accident when I saw the neon sign for Magnums Steak House. I was so distracted by the thought of a big juicy steak and baked potato that I almost slammed into the car in front of me. We finally made it to Janesville Wisconsin and stopped at Texas Roadhouse. It wasn't Magnums but it did taste good. The restaurant added a Thelma and Louise feel to our road trip. Country music, pales of peanuts, the only thing missing was the convertible. We got to the hotel around 9:30, tired and ready for bed. I didn't pack my bed roll for this trip. Well, I should have because this Country Inn and Suites had feathers pillows. I requested foam when I made the reservation but because we got there late they had no foam left. UGH! So, I took 2 bath towels folded them in half and placed them on top of the pillows. I then took some allergy medicine and hoped for the best. My pillow topping reeked of bleach and thoughts of puffy eyes and an itchy nose made my eyes, nose and the rest of my body itch. Eventually I did fall to sleep and slept pretty good until the alarm went off. The towels worked because my eyes weren't swollen. My nose was itchy but I think it was from the bleach.

We got to Dodgeville and found Bubba right a way. The rest of the group was driving in from their campsite. While we waited we prepared our bikes, got our chips and used the bathroom. The group arrived and we headed off a little after 7 a.m. I knew this would be a difficult ride but I was going to take it a mile at a time. My legs felt good and mind was clear. I was able to stay seated on all the climbs before the first rest stop. Yah hoo! Keri was doing great and we saw the gang getting ready to leave the rest area. I told the guys to be careful and please call me when they were done riding so I knew they were safe. Off they went. Well, the weather wasn't cooperating. The clouds covered the sun and the sky was rumbling louder than my stomach the night before. Then the lightening started and the rain came. Keri and I finished our bananas and bagels and continued on. We weren't riding for more than a minute when we realized our cleats were sticking to our pedals, we couldn't get them out. Freeing our feet became our main focus. We struggled for about a quarter mile. We passed several other riders experiencing the same thing. This was so freaky. We managed to clip out, clean the sand off the bottom cleat and keep going. But this was something we struggled with for the rest of the ride. With each stop I would play with the tension on the pedal. Finally by the last rest stop I had fixed the problem. Before reaching that rest stop tho we did a lot of climbing. I can't believe how calm I kept my mind and how still I was able to keep my body as I pushed my pedals and defeated each hill. One after the other, I mentally crossed them off the map. I would see people getting off their bikes and walking up but I would try not to look at them. It was my bike and the road, actually my pedals, my feet/legs and the road. I got stronger as I conquered each rise of the pavement. I tried to remember what I had done leading up to this ride. What did I eat, when did I go to bed, how much water did I drink. I know all of these things played a role in how good I was feeling. I had to make a mental note to myself, remember this feeling when you are in Madison, if you can do this ride feeling this way then you can do Madison feeling this way. Ok, now, how many frosted pretzels had I eaten? Was it half the can or just a quarter?

By the end of the ride the rain had stopped, the sun was out and the wind picked up. I think we were riding about 5 hours and 15 minutes. Keri felt great and so did I. We saw Ken at the finish. He was cramping bad and decided to head back before the cramps became paralyzing. It was perfect timing. We all changed and packed up the cars. Then headed into a pavilion for some fresh vegi's, chicken and pasta. I can't say enough good things about this ride. It was extremely organized. Communication was clear from the day I registered. The course was well marked. The rest stops were well stocked. We received a t-shirt and glass with our packet. There was plenty of sag support on the route. The race organizers should be feeling good this morning on how well this ride went. I encourage anyone reading this to try the Dairyland Dare next year. You won't be disappointed with the challenge or what is provided to support your ride.

Well Sunday morning came really quick. I knew it would. I packed my stuff for Sunday on Thursday. I had everything ready so I could sleep as late as possible. 4:10 and the alarm sounded. I turned it off as quick as I could so it wouldn't completely wake up the hubby. Kissed him and the kids and went to get ready. Choked down a Powerbar while getting dressed. Was able to get a bottle of water down as well. Did about 3 minutes of yoga and it was 4:30 - time to go. Threw the bag in the car, opened the garage door - it was raining. Crap. Ran back in the house and grabbed a rain poncho for me and Caroline. She was coming with me. As I was pulling out of the garage she was pulling up. She got in and off we went. Fortunately the rain stopped before we got to 95th street. Was able to park the car by tri - beach for free!!! Called Bubba - he had to run 20 miles, I had to run for 3:15 minutes - we figured it was about the same time/distance so we met up. Oh, forgot to mention that we signed up for the Chicago Distance Classic (CDC). Our plan was to run for as long as we could before the race, run the race and what ever we needed after, we would just fill in. Put my timing chip and bib # on, (that Caroline was nice enough to pick up for me) grabbed a bottle of gatorade from the car and off the 3 of us went.

I love to run. It's weird, some people are like, "love to run? - I run to the refrigerator during a commercial, that all the running I like to do", not me. Maybe it's because early on it was my comfort time. My time to try and figure out life, to think or when I ran with music, my time to listen to music with out someone telling me to turn it down or change the song. Running also brings out my competitive side. I had to keep telling myself - I need to keep a 10 minute mile pace. Today I wasn't running to get a fast time but running to complete a distance in a certain amount of time. I couldn't let myself be distracted by the clock or catching another runner.
We started out at a good pace. We got 3 miles in at - what do ya know - a 10 minute pace. We used the pap's and headed to the start. Reminded Caroline and Dennis I was going to keep a 10 minute mile pace. Caroline laughed and said that I've never kept that pace - but then encouraged me that I could do it. Then off they both went to run their races. I finished the gatorade and threw away bottle. I was standing with the 10 min. pace group and it was time to use the bathroom again. The race was starting in, oh, about 3 minutes. There was no time. No problem, I was taking it easy today. If I remembered correctly, this race had pap's all around the course. The horn sounded, off me and 8,000 other runners went. By mile 1 I was regretting my decision to wait. Checked the pace clock. I was around 9:40 - that was good. Mile 2, same thing but no pap. Mile 3 - good time, no pap. UGH! Ok, the next open Starbuck, McDonalds or ally that I see, I'm going. Mile 4 - 40:45. I sped up a little. I'm thinking it was the urge to go that made me pick up the pace. Then finally, there it was. A grey port-a-potty. I knew it was going to be bad because it was at a construction site but I didn't care. I had to go. There was a line of 6 women. Ok, 2 minutes each woman that's going to put me 12 minutes behind. Things moved quickly. I was off on my estimate. When I made it to mile 5, I was 6 minutes off my pace. This is when I made my mistake. I thought, no problem, I can make it up. I started to run. Ok, mile 7, lost a minute, mile 8 lost a minute and a half, mile 9 boom another minute. By mile 10 I had gained the time I had lost and then some. I checked my Garmin at that point and I was running a 7:30 pace at that moment. Ok, slow down. Stop running. Hmmm. What was the 10 minute pace finish again? Just slow down. I got things in check and slowed things down. But it was to late. The damage was down. Because if I did finish in 2 hours 10 minutes, I had pushed myself, running fast, when I really needed to just take it easy and jog this race not race this race. I was beating myself up because I had just beaten myself up. What was I thinking. I lost the site of what this was supposed to be doing. Note to myself, no more running a race to just train in. It doesn't work. Maybe I can do it in a tri but not running. Crossed the finish line with a clock time of 2:06 and change - chip time turned about to be 3 minutes less. I was not happy. The group met at the fountain. Before we knew it we were off and running again. I was tired. Really, really tired. I still had an hour swim I had to get in. We made it to the beach and then headed to our cars to get our swim stuff.
Caroline and I changed in a nice, clean Starbucks bathroom. Since I was there I figured a Chai Tea Latte wouldn't hurt. I felt better after drinking it. Made it to the beach. Bubba had already started. Told Caroline I would see her in an hour. Decided to try and swim without the wetsuit. The water was cold but felt good. Swam for a while and decided that I needed the wetsuit. The water was a little choppy, I was tired and I kept stopping and starting my swim. Thought the suit would make me more comfortable. It was a good decision. Once I had it on, I was able to swim without fear. I had every intention of turning around at 400 M but there was this couple swimming together. The man asked me what point we were at and I told him. He asked me were 800 M was and I pointed to the buoy, 400 M away. He asked his girlfriend what she thought about continuing and she said, well, since they were out there they may as well continue. That was all I needed to hear. I put my head down and swam to the next buoy. The current was a little strong on the way back and my stroke got sloppier than on the way out. My head felt heavy and I had trouble breathing. I stopped at one point and let out this huge belly burp. While burping I looked to the shore and there was this runner parallel to me. While still running he turned around and gave me this big thumbs up and then turned back and kept running. I couldn't stop laughing, well I did stop and continued to swim to the beach. It took me 49 minutes to swim a mile. I was happy with it. I was tired. I wanted to go home. Caroline was tired too. It was a long training week-end and it was over! The taper begins. 4 weeks and counting down.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Whaw .... I'm Tired

"Go ahead, you're going faster than I am." I said with a smile to an older man with very large rimmed 1970's style glasses. He was riding a bike and looked like his helmet was just kind of balancing on his head.

"No you go honey - I can wait." He replied.

So we both went.
"Miss, why are you running so slow?" he asked rather boldly.

"I'm just finishing my 3 mile run,.... I mean 3 hour run. See." I showed him my Garmin.

"Well, good for you! That's great. Do you do this everyday?!"

I started to laugh and replied - "No just Saturdays. On Sundays I try to ride between 85 - 100 miles."

"You're great! Tell me something where do you live, cause the wife and I" and he pointed to a little old woman just ahead of us, riding a bike and balancing her helmet the same way he was. "We live in Evanston and ride with a great bike club, you're welcome to join us!"

"Oh thank you." I told him and then told him were I lived and said that I also ride with a great bike group. Then said, "Well, I'm done! It was nice talking to you."

"You too" he said. "I think you're really great!"

I wanted to ask him to come home with me. I could use that "Great" word after all my long runs and rides.

Saturday a small group of us met at the lake front. A lot of the club members were either racing this week-end or traveling which left just 6 of us on the beach to swim and run. The water was as smooth as could be. Honestly, I was relieved. I needed to get a long swim in and knowing that I wouldn't be paralyzed with fear was, well, a great feeling. I kept swimming on an angle and had to straighten out every once in a while. From time to time a stray wave would come out of no where and push me around. I kept calm tho. Didn't freak out. Made my way past the curve on Lake Shore drive and out to the first buoy. Stopped and looked for some familiar faces but saw no one. Literally no one. So headed back. There was a current, so going back was a little tougher than heading out but eventually made it to the beach.

Once we got going on the run, it was suggested that we stay on the lakefront for a change. We always cross over the drive and run thru Lincoln Park so a change of scenery sounded like a good idea. As we made our way thru the new route we saw a lot of nicely tanned, finely toned beach volleyball players, dressed in little tiny swim suits just jumping up and down, having a good ol' time bashing that white leather ball around. The objection was made by the person who suggested this new route that he had no idea that we would see this. Hmmm, I guess I believe him. ;) Felt good the entire run. My right knee was a little stiff but there was no pain. As usual time seemed to go by quickly. Made it back to tri beach but I still had 32 minutes left to run. So I got my stuff and waved good bye to the group and found my family on the beach. Once again they had come into the city to play while I trained. Finished the last 32 minutes and was tired. We all were tired and hungry. We packed up the beach toys and headed off to get something to eat and go home.

Sunday we woke up to rain. I started riding early because I needed to get five and a half hours in. I met Keri around 5:35 and we rode into Frankfort. The rain died down to a light drizzle. Scott I. showed up to ride with us and we headed out to the reservoir. I was having some knee issues. It felt tight and stiff. We picked up Mike B. at the pet cemetery and turned around to head back and pick up the rest of the riders in Frankfort who were starting at 7:30 a.m. By the time we got there the drizzle turned to rain. Pat and Bubba were ready to go along with a member from the Chicago Wheelman. Off we went in the rain. We rode at a cautious pace, which made me happy since I was riding for time and not distance. By the time we got to the BP station in Elwood the rain turned to drizzle and when we left the station the rain stopped. We were cold, so the pace picked up a little. Even with all the rain and feeling tense from riding in it, it was a fun ride. Then I looked at my watch. CRAP! I had an hour and a half left. I'm not doing it I thought. I'm tired, cold, soaking wet, I'm not going. I told myself this for about 3 blocks and then said to Keri, I have to keeping going. She was feeling good and was happy to keep going. Hey, did her rain poncho keep her dry and warm - cause mine did nothing except make noise and blow around probably causing more drag than I needed. We decided to follow Mike B. home. Well, half way to his home anyway. I checked my watch every 2minutes, counting the seconds away. Of course this makes it feel like time is going by at a snails pace. Finally, the turn around point came and we said our good byes to Mike and headed home. We had to make some extra turns to make the 5 and half hours but when I got to my drive I had ridden 87.5 miles in 5 hours and 30 minutes and I was TIRED!

16.5 hours of training last week. I'm tired. The way I can describe this feeling is how I usually feel after I have run a marathon. The body wants to rest but the mind is still running. Almost like a tightly wound clock that just needs to slowly unwind. UGH! If anyone has a clue on how to get things unwound faster (legally) then I'm listening cause this is making me crazy. I have turned into a slap happy idiot that is laughing at everything because I can't seem to get the mind to rest with the body.