Monday, June 29, 2009

The Hellhole Ride--Character Building

I've decided every Ironman is like a two part play: the training and the race. The training takes much longer and has less action but is the most important. It's the character building phase. The race, of course, is the plot. Keep in mind, however, that even the character building phase can be peppered with excitement. Single, traumatic, impossible workout feats that define who you are as an athlete. Those are the "breakthrough" workouts, the events that convince you that, no matter what God hands you on race day, you'll make it to the the finish line. If I hadn't had these "character building" workouts, I doubt I would have finished Ironman Arizona last April in those hellish conditions. I can remember a difficult 3-mile ocean swim from the Cove-Scripps Pier-back to the Cove that helped prepare me. And a crazy weekend in Borrego Springs (100 mile ride Saturday in the desert, followed by a 20-mile run on Sunday) that simply defined me.

Lately, I've been on fire. I've been really revving up the workouts, very focused, and I can feel the fatigue starting to challenge me during these final weeks of Ironman training before the taper. I only have 4 more weeks of training. This week will close up the final week of bike-focused training before I start my "final push." The excitement is palpable.

I've been kind of lax on posting on my epic weekend rides. Last one came close, especially when we renamed "The Spirit of TCSD Ride" the "No Mercy Ride", after I forgot to include the left-hand turn onto Mercy Road on the route slip. After hand-correcting all the route slips, we promptly missed the turn onto Mercy, adding an extra 3 miles to a 70+mile (hilly ride). By the end of the ride, after everyone was exhausted from all the climbing, it definitely was the No Mercy Ride!

This Saturday's ride was one of my defining moments that I will remember when it gets tough on the Ironman Canada course. Maybe I should have given it a more exciting name than the understated "80-mile Palomar Ride". I knew it would be hard. 7100 feet of climbing and the forecast predicted heat. This ride is included in many pro's training schedules around here and was made famous by the final stage of the Tour de California. The mountain was calling me.

I've seen many able cyclists hitch a ride home and turn back early after bonking halfway up the mountain. I had ridden the 64-mile version 3x before in cooler weather. Now, it was time to challenge myself a bit. Could I do it? Could I make it the whole way? I had my doubts, especially after feeling the fatigue creep into my legs after a tough 2-weeks of workouts.

I met the group at Kit Carson Park early Saturday morning before 7 am. The final, cool wisps of fog were clinging to the ground. We took off, heading north, and I did my best to stay in the middle of the pack. It was a great group, and we exchanged funny stories about the obsessive-compulsive habits of triathletes as we warmed up. Before we reached the first climb, the sun melted the final remnants of fog away, and the temps began to rise. The sweat began to drip like a leaky faucet down my cheeks. It was going to be one of those days.

We began climbing up Lake Wohlford, the first major climb, and the group splintered. I rode alone between the fast group and the slow group. Great practice for Ironman race day. I found my rhythm and toiled up the hill slowly but steadily on my tri bike (Torch). This ride would have been so much easier on my road bike (Pandora) but that's not who I'm riding on race day! The road snaked narrowly up and around and up and around. I clung to the shoulder, lined with broken pavement and glittering with the glass of a million broken bottles carelessly thrown from drunken gamblers driving back from the casinos or countless pickup trucks, indigenous to the area. A few large semi trucks carrying loads of dirt squeezed past me on the narrow road. They were loud and large but at least they were slow and somewhat considerate.

I finally reached the top of Lake Wohlford, and feeling fresh, cruised down the descent to try and catch the group ahead of me. Farmland surrounded me, and I drank in the scenery. Ponies and horses with shimmering summer coats grazed contentedly in the early morning sun, still pleasant and comfortable. The silver leaves of an olive tree orchard contrasted starkly against the lush, velvet green grass carpeting the lawn beneath. All of this beauty was instantly broken by the overwhelming stench of a chicken farm. I suppressed the urge not to retch as I rode by. I cruised by Valley View Casino, a huge concrete complex in the middle of nowhere. At the bottom of the giant hill lay an even more massive Harrah's Casino, in an even more desolate location, surrounded by nothing but vast, vacant brown desert. I pulled into the taco shop at the base of Palomar to regroup. We had made it over the first "speed bump".

Still in good spirits, we all headed east on Hwy 76 to the South Grade Road of Palomar. We still had 5 or 6 miles before reaching the bottom of Palomar, and the entire thing was uphill. In addition, the sun was now beating down on us with incredible intensity, and we were fully exposed with absolutely no shade to protect us. The entire time, as I crawled to the base, I stared in awe to my north. This enormous, 5,000 beast of a mountain rose up before us. I was completely intimidated.

We finally reached the South Grade Road, and I silently rejoiced. I'm not sure why. Yea! 7-miles of 7% grade up a mountain! I think I was happy to finally be officially on the mountain. Plus, there were patches of refreshing shade along the way up. We started climbing (for real now; hadn't I already been climbing the entire 25 miles before?), and I made note of what my mileage read so I could count down the miles. Even though it was only 7 miles to the top, I knew it would be over an hour before reaching the summit. Luckily, I had plenty of fluids and food. The motorcycles were out in full force. These adrenaline-junkies love to race up the narrow, windy road of Palomar, occasionally wiping out. That's all fine and dandy, as long as they don't take me or one of my friends with them. I nervously clung to the shoulder.

Halfway up, I found Brent, struggling with a flat on the shoulder. I'm surprised more of us didn't get flats. Afterall, I think we rode the entire way on broken glass. I silently celebrated. Now we would get to ride together! He was starting to look a little miserable. Of course, he was out of water, not bothering to refill at the Taco Shop at the base. I gave him a bottle, and we continued up. My right hamstring began to cry out in pain. Well, first it was my knees. Then, my feet, as the heat made them swell. Then, my stomach began to bloat and fill with nausea (my sports drink was too concentrated). Then my wrists and hands from riding in the non-rideable hoods of a tri bike for so long, slippery with sweat. Different body parts took turns complaining. Thinking the hammy pain was a cramp, I popped some salt tablets. I counted down the final mile, blocking out the pain. It crept by at an agonizingly slow rate. I, too, was out of fluids now, and had been purposely undereating to let my stomach empty. I could choose between nausea and hunger. Hunger had seemed better but now I was getting dizzy. I warned Brent not to come up beside me, in case I toppled over. At least, in that case, I wouldn't take both of us out. I saw the 5,000 foot sign and rejoiced. We were almost there. The final 200 feet took an eternity. I almost cried when I saw the top.

--almost there

--view from the top

We refueled and rehydrated (club sandwich and Coke anyone?) at Mother's Kitchen, an angel of a restaurant at the top, nestled snugly in the shade. The top of Palomar was much cooler than the base, and it was actually pleasant in the shade (70s). Brent had another flat, and I helped him pry the tire off to see what the culprit was. Only after cutting my thumb did I find the invisible sliver of a metal staple wedged solidly on the inside of the tire. Eureka! It took the sacrifice of all of my fingernails and about 10-15 minutes to pull out the metal splinter. However, I was confident he wouldn't flat again. I reapplied sunblock, using some I had found. It had citronella in it, which I thought was supposed to be an insect repellent. Within seconds, 3 bees were chasing me around the summit. I was squealing and circling and gesticulating wildly like a madwoman, much to the entertained curiousity of several onlookers. Red-faced from the sun and embarrassment, Brent and I climbed back on our beasts of burden and headed down the East Grade. The rest of the group, wary of the heat and time, went back down the much steeper South Grade, which would get them back to the car in a total of 64-miles. Obstinately, I continued on my foreplanned 80-mile route.

We descended, and it was oh-so-blissfully sweet to spin and sit and cruise at 34 mph. About halfway down the mountain, 5 fire engines screamed past. Uh oh. Shortly after, we were stopped by a crew of firemen. A line of cars and cyclists sat and waited. A Ferrari racing up the East Grade had overheated and caught on fire. It was going to be awhile, we were warned. Climbing back up the mountain to go down the South Grade was out of the question. Recognizing some of my buddies on bikes, we snuggled in a scant patch of shade on the side of the mountain, ignoring the fire ants and prickly oak leaves biting into our asses. The heat was beginning to get to me, and my temper began to flare. After sassing off to the Fire Captain, an old geezer on a motorcycle came over to tell me what I big mouth I had. I glared at him and told him it was hot. He told me it was 93 degrees, and that it was perfect, and that I was a complainer.
"Guess I should have brought a sweater!" I exclaimed.
"This one's got a mouth on her!" he retorted. There was a lot more I wanted to shout back at him but I knew it would be a waste of precious energy; energy I needed to get home. I rembered Life Lesson #2: Don't Argue With Idiots, and bit my tongue. He kept on prodding me with mild insults. I looked at him with the biggest smile I could muster and dripping with sarcasm, shouted, "This is the best day ever!"

Luckily, the fire was put out quickly, and the cyclists were given a headstart down the mountain. Around the next bend lay the corpse of what had been a Ferrari. In it's place lay a pile of smoking, melted metal. Huh. Guess it really had caught on fire. But it's not hot or anything.

We reached the bottom and headed west on Hwy 76. The road was narrow, cars whizzed past, and the shoulder was unrideable. Hmmm, is this a theme? It was now 1:30 pm and unbearably hot. The sun was beating down on us relentlessly, and there was no shade. If there had been shade, I would have gotten off and laid in it. I began wondering if I could make it. My quit-o-meter was at an all-time high. But how would I feel if I quit? What would I do on race day if it got tough? I had ridden all this way. I couldn't quit now. I had to make it back. I didn't care how long it took. We passed the Taco Shop in silence, refusing to stop. Both of us knew if we stopped, we would try to bum a ride. I was on a mission. I wanted to make it back.

We turned by the giant casino and began the final, yet hardest climb back up to Valley Center. The casino climb--since it goes between 2 casinos--was the hardest part of the ride. It's hot, it's long, and I was beat up from all the other climbs (um, Palomar?). My right hamstring was now crying for mercy, and I realized I might have strained it. I found I could maintain a rhythm if I focused on exerting more force with my left pedal stroke but the ascents were particularly tough. We climbed up and up and up on a narrow, windy road with no shoulder as cars whizzed by. Ugh. We passed countless crosses decorated with dead flowers on the side of the road where other motorists and presumably cyclists had lost their lives. Not a good omen.

Right after the chicken-shit farm, we passed a sign with an arrow pointing left to "Hellhole Canyon." Hellhole? We were actually near some place legitimately called Hellhole? You have to be kidding me! It stuck, and the ride was christened "The Hellhole Ride." Somehow, we made it to the top of Lake Wohlford. Brent was out of water again but I refused to part with what precious little I had remaining. A fisherman took pity on us and gave us a bottle of water. Angels in disguise. We began descending back towards Escondido, and the temperature dropped a degree or two. I realized we were going to make it. I became overjoyed. We made it back to the car, and I hugged Brent. He proclaimed that the ride was completely miserable. I, however, think it was great character building.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shoe Review--Asics GT-2140

I normally don't do this. However, I recently had the unique opportunity to do an Asics Shoe Review for Online so I decided to give it a go. Afterall, I've been wearing Brooks for years and never had the courage to try anything different. What better chance to brave new territory.

I selected the Asics GT-2140. I have a narrow foot and was very pleased that Asics actually offers 2A (most don't, drastically limiting my selection). I have an odd running style too--even though I have high arches and land on my toes, my arches collapse, causing me to pronate. Thus, I need motion control and stability. The GT-2140 promised to do all those things. Plus, it was rated very highly in Runner's World .

When I first pulled them out of the box, I was pleasantly surprised. Most women's running shoes are offered in a single color, usually something naseating like pink or purple. The GT-2140 had 4 or 5 different color choices, none of them too girly. So they get a thumbs up on aesthetic appeal.

I walked around in them for a day, just to see how they would feel. They were very light and cushiony, fitting like a glove around the bottom of my foot. There was more room in the top of the shoe than I'm used to. I think it would prevent metatarsal nerve pain that often occurs after a mile or two of running when the foot starts to swell.

I took them out for a 6-mile test run. The run had a mix of roads, trails, flats, and hills. Immediately, the first thing I noticed was how light the shoes were. My turnover was sharp and quick, allowing for a faster pace. Bonus! On the flats and the roads, the shoes were perfect. Very comfortable, light, and cushiony. However, on my foot, they didn't do so well on the trails when my feet needed more support in the sand, around switchbacks, and up and down steep hills. I'm used to a much more supportive (and heavier) shoe. By the time I reached the road again, the muscles in my feet were sore. In addition, the extra room in the top of the shoe allowed too much movement for my very narrow foot. I think if Asics offered a 3A size (instead of 2A), I might do better.

Overall, I think this is a great shoe for neutral runners who are looking for something light with a little support. I love the lighter feel of the shoe and might be able to get away with them for shorter, flatter runs or even track workouts. However, for those needing a little more support and motion control (i.e. me), the GT-2140 may not work, especially for very long runs.

Btw, has a large selection of shoes and gear to choose from, and they do free shipping. Bonus! They also have a variety of women's specific run gear. Be sure to check 'em out.

What's your favorite running shoe and why? Women's Shop Asics Shop

Friday, June 19, 2009

Speed: is it all in my head?

I've been known to beat myself up about how slow I am. I get frustrated because I work so hard and have very high expectations so it's disappointing when I fall flat. I've decided to reevaluate.
1. Expectations & Comparisons:
This is like a bad word to me. Living in San Diego, I train amongst some of the most talented triathletes in the world. In fact, I saw Kate Major hop into the fast lane at my master's swim class. People from our club qualify for Kona at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. It's daunting. I forget to focus on myself. I get into trouble when I start comparing myself to others. Although it's natural (we are competitive, afterall), it's a mistake because we can't control how fast others are. I conducted a retrospective analysis, using my race data to see whether I have, in fact, improved since I started doing this 5 years ago. Although difficult, since race conditions vary, and every race was different, I was pleasantly surprised. I was happy to see drastic improvement in the sprint- and Olympic-distance races (I don't have a high enough sample number to evaluate my performance for Half- or full- IMs....yet).

2. It's All in My Head:
I was watching a show about George Hincapie (one of the best cyclists, period). It struck me as odd that he thought of himself as a poor climber. His mental coach simply instructed him to stop thinking negatively, and instead, to think of himself as an awesome climber. Sometimes, I wonder if it's not the self-fulfilling prophecy. I think I'm a poor cyclist; therefore, I am a poor cyclist.

I've decided to stop it. No more excuses. The bike is my limiter but not because I'm not built for it, it's not in my genes, or I'm just no good. It's all in my head. It's also the sport I have the least experience with. I've never done a simple bike race but I've done plenty of running races and even some open water swim events. I'm great at sitting on the bike and going for 100 miles. But speed? Nah. Why? Never worked on it. I lollygag on the bike. Afterall, I've always had to think about a run afterwards. To get faster, you have to go faster. Seems deceptively simple but it actually makes sense to me. I've had it. From now on, I'm not holding back on the bike. It's go time. A few weeks ago, using this mentality, I increased my speed on the bike for a 60 mile ride. I had to push myself to keep up with the faster guys in my group but I did it. For 60 miles. I was very proud of myself. It IS possible.

So as not to get too discouraged, I mapped my bike speed (mph) for the bike leg of different triathlons. Yes, for the most part, my speed HAS increased. Odd that my sprint and Olympic pace aren't too different. This probably reflects my hard work in the endurance section of the sport, but not the speed part.

3. My Strengths are Strengths because I DO Them More:
Seems obvious in retrospect. I've always thought of myself as a runner. Turns out, I've logged countless running races over the years. But much less so when it comes to biking and swimming. My swimming has started to improve because of the work I put into Master's classes. Maybe if I applied myself to the bike, and put in more fast miles, it would show. My limiters are only limiters because I've done less miles at that sport.
Obvious improvement in my swim pace (min/100 m). Yippee! My IM and HIM swim pace is faster or the same as for some sprints. Weird!

Below, shows my running pace for all the different running races I've logged, 5K all the way through marathon. I didn't realize I had done so many half marathons! Because I've worked on endurance so much, my speed hasn't improved that much. This also explains why my half marathon pace is so similar to my 10K pace. I can hold that pace for a longer distance. I just have a hard time holding a faster pace, regardless of the distance (yes, I know, track workouts--if only I didn't have an Ironman fast approaching!)

Finally, on a curious note, I can run faster off the bike in an Olympic triathlon than in a 10K alone. Weird! (5K was about the same speed as the run leg of a sprint tri--also weird). Only thing I can think of is my endurance isn't yet tapped (not until HIM when my run is slower than half marathon pace), and my adrenaline gets going higher in a triathlon, so I run faster because I'm more excited.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What? I Can't Eat Whatever I Want?!

I used to think since I'm training for an Ironman, I can eat whatever I want. Afterall, I'm constantly burning calories, and I'm ALWAYS ravenous. (I call my appetite "The Beast"). However, this year, I noticed after countless milkshakes, cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate croissants, I had gained a few pounds. "Ah, it's muscle," I convinced myself. But I couldn't deny that my waistband had grown more snug.

Finally, I couldn't ignore the simple fact any longer (afterall, I work in the obesity field; it's kind of hard not to notice when you gain fat around here). I decided to buckle down and get to work. What? I have to worry about nutrition? The OTHER 50% of the equation. Oh, yeah. That.

Last year, I went to a nutritionist who specializes in triathlon training ( However, I was more concerned about race-day nutrition than day-to-day stuff. BORING! Now, I pulled out her detailed notebook, with a customized Ironman nutrition plan, just for moi. Second, I began keeping a food journal. I added up the calories at the end of the day, and figured out my net total (calories in-calories out). I was looking for a negative number. I remembered to include my workouts! ( is great for this but there are many calorie-tracking websites out there). I didn't get too discouraged when my net number wasn't 0 or negative every day. Instead, I focused on overall changes for the whole week. For instance, after a heavy training weekend, it takes 3-5 days for the body to reover and replace the glycogen stores. Therefore, the calorie intake may exceed calorie output over the next few days but by the end of the week, the body should have regained homeostasis.

Anyway, keeping a food diary has kept me honest. I think twice before putting something into my body, knowing I have to document it. I plan ahead of time so I can eat 5-6 smaller meals frequently throughout the day. The key to eating healthy is to never get too hungry. I eat every ~2 hours. My body is very high maintenance! Since I've started doing this (about 5 weeks ago), I've lost 5 lbs and gained a lot of energy. Plus, my sensitive tummy is feeling 100% better. That's worth healthy eating any day!

Finally, to make sure my focus is on the right track, I leave you with this:
"If it was all about weight then there'd be a scale instead of a finish line"
-- Scott Molina

My Previous Posts on Nutrition:]

Other Resources:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taz Turns 10!

"What do you want?"

"Mmmm. This backpack is SO tasty."

Ten years old. That's basically 100 for a rabbit. He's my first rabbit. I got him when he was only 4 weeks old. From a petstore. An impulse buy. Exactly the opposite of how you're supposed to acquire a pet. I was tired of fish. They always died on me and weren't very cuddly. I'm allergic to cats, and dogs aren't good for an apartment. I saw the bunnies at the pet store, and they, of course, were ridiculously adoreable. All of them but Taz were Dutch bunnies (black-and-white; they look like they're wearing a tuxedo). Taz sat quietly in the corner and looked up at me with his large brown eyes. He's a mini-Rex, with luxuriously, soft brown fur that feels like a combination of down and velvet. I picked him up and held him, and that was it. He was coming home with me.

I knew nothing about rabbits. Taz was a great teacher. He taught me that he craved playtime. He could leap up on the table like it was nothing. His legs were like little springs. Nothing in the apartment was out of reach. He ran circles around the kitchen and living room, making endless loops. He circled my feet in tight, little spirals. He leaped in the air, kicked out his legs, and did 180s and 360s around the living room. His energy was endless. He was also extremely mischievous. He grabbed all sorts of precious trinkets off my desk and carried them off to his "burrow" under the couch where he could chew them into smithereens in private. He chewed through electrical wires (never once getting elecrocuted, luckily; I learned to cover them with plastic tubing), blankets, upholstered furntiture, table legs. Nothing in our apartment remained without teeth marks. His devilish-like energy earned his name, after the Tasmanian Devil (the Loony Tunes character).

Taz was bonded with Babs when he was 2-years-old. She bosses him around a lot, but he enjoys her protection, especially on car trips to the vet (she lays on top of him, and he hides underneath). The two are inseparable and are often found licking, snuggling, and grooming each other. Taz has moved from Wisconsin, to St. Louis, and now, San Diego. He is a well-traveled bun. He licks more than any other bunny I've known. He also has no clue how to bite. He loves to take turns "grooming". Basically, I pet, then he stops me with a nudge and licks me--wherever he can reach: my hand, nose, or eyelids. At 10, he's doing fantastic. The vet said he was could stand to gain a little weight (no problem! Eating is his favorite pasttime) but other than that, he's in great shape. He still lives with Babs; they have the entire upstairs to themselves where they roam free. When he's not eating or getting petted, he can be found sleeping under the bed. That's where he spends his afternoons, and he grunts annoyingly at me if I try to disturb him (even for food!). At night, he coos contentedly and LOUDLY. It's so loud, we have a hard time falling asleep but neither one of us have the heart to tell him to stop.

Taz--you've taught me everything I know about bunnies, and then some. I will never tire of your coos or your licks or running my cheek along your impossibly soft fur. Here's to many more wonderful years!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Meaning of Tri

I was invited to enter a triathlon essay writing contest a few months ago, and lo-and-behold, my essay was selected! It's now available in the anthology, The Meaning of Tri on Mindset Triathlon ( My essay is the 4th one listed: "Steps between the Swim Start and the Finish Line." Check it!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Picking Up the Pieces

I think I'm getting better (fingers crossed). As I came down with my "plague", I was devastated, at first, that I couldn't do the marathon. Then, I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to get better, get back to training. Then, I just wanted to be able to leave the house, the bedroom, the bed, have some semblance of a life again. Then, all emotions vanished, and I was simply existing. After 2 weeks of the most wicked, diabolical sinus infection ever concocted (except for the one I had 2 years ago, only because it lasted 8 weeks instead of 2), I seem to be doing better (please let this be true), thanks to 10 days of Cipro (at a whopping dose of 1 gram a day) and Prednisone (that's right, folks; I'm on the 'roids).

On missing the marathon:
I had done all the training. All of it. I was completely devastated. I kept thinking up until Friday night (for a Sunday marathon) that there was still a chance I could do it. Nevermind I hadn't slept in a week because of the cement truck dumping yellow gunk in my sinuses. Nevermind I had lost 8 lbs because I couldn't taste or smell and thought I was going to choke every time I swallowed. I was in denial. When Brent told me I shouldn't do it, anger followed (more like rage--tears, throwing stuff, the works). Then--bargaining: "Please, God, just let me be well enough to jog it slowly. Run-walk. I just want to participate." And of course, depression; that was Sunday, the day of the marathon. Acceptance came pretty quickly after that when I realized, in the bigger scheme of things, I just wanted my health; marathon be damned.

A year ago, I would have done the marathon. Or, started it and then get carted to the ER on a gurney. I've come a long way since then. Some days, you have to admit defeat. So you can come back another day to fight again. For the Rock 'n Roll Marathon, I knew it was time to fold 'em. And I'm so thankful I did.

On the Other Side:
Now that I'm starting to feel better again, I'm shaking off the cobwebs. Tomorrow is my last day of the 'roids and antibiotics. I can't wait. The side effects were just as bad as the infection (extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, dizziness, jitteriness, insomnia, stomach cramps and GI upset--I could barely get out of bed). I tried to go for a run the other day but it was too soon. The first 2 miles were great, and then the stomach cramps, muscle cramps, and extreme muscle weakness (I felt like my legs were going to give out) kicked in. It was a dreary walk home. Afterwhich, I flopped onto the bed and promptly passed out, sweaty running clothes and all. However, as disastrous as that run was, it still felt great to get outside and pump the blood through my veins again. At least I got my fix.

Today was the first day I felt like me again. High energy, enthusiastic, happy, full of life. Brent, Alec, and I had a blast: we went out to breakfast, checked out a festival in Solana Beach, dipped our toes in the water at the beach, went to Alec's soccer game, went out to lunch, I went on a bike ride, we went to the pool, and we ended it with a pizza dinner at sunset outside to a live band (Alec and I boogied down after eating our pizza). It was a fantastic day. In addition, I squeezed in an hour bike ride on the bike path. More like a test ride. I'm still fighting my stomach, muscle weakness and muscle cramps but overall, I felt pretty good. I know all those side effects will subside once I'm off the drugs. I just hope my infection is gone for good.

I hope I feel as good tomorrow as I do today. My high energy level is the quality I value most about myself. It's my life force; I just can't do without it. I hope I can get back to normal this week. I'm a little freaked about missing 2 weeks of training. Ironman Canada is right around the corner. But, maybe this is a good thing? Maybe I would have been too overtrained and burnt out to hit my key workouts (which always happens when training for an Ironman). Maybe this illness will actually make me stronger. Maybe, just maybe, it gave me the forced rest I needed. Now, I can ease back into training and come back even stronger than before. At least, that's my hope. But in all honesty? I really just want to be healthy (#1). And number 2? I really want to do Ironman Canada--just do it and have fun with the experience. I don't really care how well I perform. It would be nice but that's just the icing on the cake. Here's (glasses raised) to racing just to finish, and finishing with a smile on my face!