Saturday, July 29, 2006

My longest ride

My original plan was to go out for a three hour bike ride. My instructions from IronMauro (friend and personal Triathlon Guru ) was to find some hills. So I headed out towards Reggio Emilia and turned up to a little town named Baiso. The most important thing I learned today was that I really do have to eat or ingest something every 30 minutes. At 30 minutes and then 60 I took a PowerGel and was doing fine. Then I started on the uphill portion of the ride and met with two guys that were riding up also. We started chatting and I forgot to take my gel. At the 40' mark I started to get the shakes. My hands were trembling and I grabbed the other gel I had and took that. Within two minutes I was fine again. At the top of the hill I refilled on the water, stopped at a bar to eat a simple briosche and then take off back down the hill (wheee!!!) . Going home I took another Gel, stopped and bought (and ate) a banana and then had still some energy to cruise at a decent 25km/hour.

Total distance: 85.39 km
Time: 3h44'10"
Average: 22.8 km/hr.

I got home and felt fine. Felt really good. So now I just have to persist!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Did I tell you that I was training for a half Ironman? I don't remember 'cause I talk to myself a lot and think I've told someone or written about it and then realize I just have lots of scenarios running around in my head.
First I was going to do the Monaco 70.3, but then they wanted to charge 350,00 euro for the entry fee and I just won't pay that kind of money for a half ironman. A full yes, a half no. So then I found an alternative Half in Italy at the Lago di Mergozzo in the lakes area above Milan. So I was training for that but then Piero started going on week long, out of town business trips and I was discouraged about actually finding the time (and babysitter) to train for the race. So I slacked off. Then those scenarios in my head started playing around and all of the sudden me, myself and I decided that I wasn't doing the Half anymore.
Fastrack to yesterday afternoon when Hubby and I are looking at our calendars from now until the end of september. First we're here in Modena, then he goes to Gotenbourg for the European Athletic Championships (he has three marathoners running on the teams), then down to Puglia to the beach for the rest of august, and then before school starts I'm taking Olly for a "girls only" trip to London.
"And then you have that Half Ironman Race on the 17th"
"Oh, I'm not doing it anymore".
(Blank stare)
I started to explain that I didn't have time and he wasn't helping me out and I really needed some encouragement. He went on that I knew how to train myself better than he ever could and that my schedule was so erratic that I really had to live it day by day rather than write out a schedule that I try to stick to.
One hour later I was on my bike doing a 60km workout.
I have eight weeks to get ready for it.
If I cut out all my "waste" time I can do this.
Today I'm going swimming. Maybe running too...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Epilogue: Bangkok

We left our cocooned existence in Phuket on thursday morning, but before returning to Italy we decided to stop in Bangkok for three days. Our first wake up was at the Phuket airport where we realized that Linda's travel agent had not put us on the same flight, and she had missed her's by two hours. A little scrambling around and exchange of credits cards, they were able to put her on a flight right then and there, but in first class. Not only did she have to pay for the upgrade but she also had to pay a penalty on not taking the other flight. Never heard of this before, but, whatever. In the end it all worked out and we met up again at the Bangkok airport. Bangkok was sweltering hot and we took a bus to our hotel. By now we were slightly spoiled by our luxury resort enviroment and the more than adequate hotel room in Bangkok seemed small to us. Oh, well, we didn't really have to spend a lot of time in the room...It was about five o'clock at this point and the we just started wandering the streets looking around. Bangkok is an insane city. It has tons of traffic, lots of pollution intermixed with all different kinds of people. At one point we were just starved so we walked into this local restaurant where they had a picture of the food for a menu. Guess they're used to the international crowd... There were about ten cooks crowded into this little kitchen. I ordered some sort of chicken curry with rice dish and Linda a vegetable and noodle dish. It was really,really, really good and we only paid six dollars for the entire meal for BOTH of us. On the way back to the hotel to watch the world cup game (Italy vs Rep. Ceca) we stopped in an eyeglass shop where I ordered a new pair for myself (only seventy dollars!). Day two in Bangkok is sort of a blur. We started out thinking that we would just go shopping and actually we DID do that but we had two problems. Problem one: We couldn't find the stores we really wanted to go to. We kept getting sidetracked down all sorts of strange and crowded streets that then lead to scary quiet ones. Problem two: I ate something that my intestines did not like. I had to keep finding bathrooms and at the end of the day had hit them a total of about fourteen times. I was afraid to really go to far from anyplace that looked like it might have a restroom 'cause when I had to go, I had to go. A few times we were so frazzled and hot that we went back to the hotel just to sit in a quiet air conditioned room for an hour. On our last and final day we decided to go to a huge market on the outskirts of town. We found directions on how to get there by public transportation and were successful in getting there (Whee!!!) . It more than made up for our no shopping day from the day before. The market had everything we had hoped for: food, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, spices, paper (I love buying paper in foreign countries), shoes. It also had animals and a lot of local Thais doing their weekly shopping for food and fruit and veggies. The one thing that I haven't talked about on this trip are the Monsoons. Every day has been in the 90's and then about three times a day it rains. But it doesn't just rain a little tropical rain, it pours like someone is pouring a big bucket of water from the sky. It usually doesn't last for very long but the force is so strong that the sewage system that they have can't handle it. Everything clogs up and gets swamped. This happened both in the city and at our little market place on saturday. We were pretty much trapped for about an hour because anyplace we wanted to walk to had a foot of water. We both had on disposable shoes but Linda was kind of squeemish about not knowing what was in that water. The monsoons reminded me of all those Vietnam films where they picture troops in the rain for days and days. It was always this pouring rain, at that really is how it is. We finally made our way back to the overrail transportation and went back into Bangkok. We stopped at a few of the really huge , five story, indoor malls (gigantic!) and then went back to the hotel to pack and leave. I'm pretty sure that I will go back to Thailand again one day. It is a really beautiful country and has such wonderful people. Definately a part of the world that I've enjoyed visiting.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Phuket Marathon, Part II

Running in heat and humidity is not easy. To run 42km (a.k.a. 26 miles) in heat and humidity is even more difficult. It's doable, but you do have to set a few rules for yourself from the startline. Rule number one: forget about any record times. You just have to concentrate on the experience and not pay much attention to your stopwatch. Rule number two: drink, drink, drink. Throw water on yourself, dunk your head in it, do whatever you can to cool down. The organization had set up water stations every 2.5 kms which was really great. Only trouble was that when we came up to the first water station (and it was still pitch black dark out) I think I was one of the few that actually stopped. It was really humid out even at 5.00 a.m. They had big tubs of ice so I took handfuls of that and put it down the front and back of my bra and inside my hat to try and cool off. I ran the first kilometre with all the other journalists but then Liz and the Running Times girl took off so I just stuck to my own pace. Around 6.00 am it started to get light and there was a nice breeze that came along with it. The course went down a lot of country roads where people were sitting around breakfast tables on the sides of the roads looking sleepy but awake. There were some really cute kids in pajamas sitting on their front porches waving to us as we went by also. Someplace around the 21km mark we hit the coast...ahhhhh, a really nice sea breeze accompanied us for about 5km. My half marathon time was 2h15. The refreshment stations started to have a better selection with the halfmarathon one full of fruit. You could also see who was in front (or in back) of you. I was surprised to see Liz only about 3km in front of me, and even more surprised to see Julia (RW Australia) 3km BEHIND me. Last year at the Thailand Temple run she had run an hour faster than me. As soon as I came off the coast and headed back to the inland it started to get hot. It was about 8.00 a.m. at this point and I would estimate it to be 30° (about 90 degrees fahrenheit), but the humidity is what kept me filling myself with ice and trying to stay cool. We were routed on a main road with a little traffic. The drivers were cool though and not zooming too fast as they went by. There were some big hills that we had to climb up and I opted to just power walk them. I was doing fine, humming along, passing people that were walking but pretty much having a good time when I came upon Liz, the RW UK journalist. She was walking really slow and not having a good time. Don't ask why but she was wearing LONG pants and a LONG SLEEVE shirt. I don't know how she thought up this outfit. I mean, I would have run naked if I could, it was so dang hot. She said she felt dizzy but she didn't want to take off any clothing for fear of getting sunburned (she was that pasty white, english pale rose type). So I had her stop at the next water station and fill up her shirt with ice and drink more gatorade instead of just water. I made her walk a little faster and then got her to run one minute and walk one minute while I talked away...and this is what we did for seven miles, all the way to the end of the marathon. My thinking was that it was better to get her out of the sun and finish the race rather than walk a slow death march. It worked. She actually wanted run the last kilometre in. Our final time was 5h21'. We were 159 and 160 out of 280 runners. The first thing I did was hit the massage tent and have a foot and leg massage. Now this is something they should have at EVERY marathon. They had also set up a VIP tent for us where I had a delicious meal of rice and some Thai cooked veggies with curry. Yum! I would probably vomit at the thought of eating something like that after an Italian marathon, but it seemed to fit in fine in Thailand.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Phuket Marathon, Part I

Those squinty eyes come from me sleeping about four hours for the night. I tried as hard as I could to get to bed early, but when you're not tired there's just no way. The alarm clock went off at 3 a.m. and I immediately turned on the television to get in some Italy vs. USA soccer World Cup action, unfortunately I didn't get to see the best part. Anyway, I got dressed, ate a Powerbar, a banana and made myself some tea. Linda was also up and about and concerned I wasn't eating enough. I wasn't hungry at all and frankly just couldn't stomach anything at that hour of the morning. We went down to the reception where they were very sweet to have prepared a breakfast box for us to eat (bread, fruit, cookies, and other unidentified foodstuff). Too bad I hadn't seen it earlier. We took the hotel bus to the start which was only about a kilometre from the hotel. People were just kind of roaming around, getting excited. There were all the Japanese journalists filming everybody and a few Japanese personalities trying to get in their TV appearances. I just walked around, went to the restroom a few times and tried to relax. My favorite pre-race photo (courtesy of Linda) is this one of the product "Counter Pain Cream". That's what the girls t's spell out and they had to walk around together in the same line order for about two hours. At about 4.40 am the speaker for the race started asking us to line up. There were 280 runners signed up for the marathon so it wasn't a huge crowd yet. A lot of the half marathoners were already there even though they weren't schedule to start until 6.00 am. I lined up with a few of the other journalist that I knew: Liz from RW UK and Julia from RW Australia. There was a new girl that hadn't really introduced herself but I knew she was from Running Times. Slim and fast with about 2% body fat. Definately not in my league. Just as we were about to take off other journalists from Australia came racing down the road towards us. Apparently they didn't hear the alarm clock and woke up at 4.30 am! They blew some sort of horn and we were off...