Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Pictures

My apologies to Jen for plagarizing the title to this post...

The week before Christmas break, my dear friend Lynn came over to help decorate cookies the kids give to their teachers. It was a nice evening drinking wine, chatting, and playing with icing.

That Friday evening it started snowing! We had a total of over 11" in our neighborhood, so the kids spent a fun weekend sledding with friends. Joey was quite the entrepreneur with the snow shovel, and cleared many a walk and driveway earning over $50!
The kids and I loaded up the car on Monday and came down to the beach. I had a crazy couple of days trying to get everything ready for Christmas--buying a tree and decorating it, laying in food, and a some last minute shopping. I also was desperately tracking a package that was supposed to get to coach Jen, but was delayed by bad weather. Several of her athletes all went in on this. What a riot!

Joey came in to wake me up about 6:30 Christmas morning. He wasn't too interesting in snuggling with Mom, and instead was ready to start in on the present opening!

Joey's haul

One of two new bike jerseys for Mom--this one from DeLoach Winery

Sophie and her bone!

#1 Son and his Kindle

After opening gifts and playtime, we had a nice brunch--french toast and eggs Jefferson (like eggs benedict but with spinach and crab)--and went for a walk on the beach before it started POURING rain.

The finished 2000 piece puzzle

Maddy in her new "fur" coat

That night we had a quiet dinner and ended up watching the Nutcracker.  The following day the rain had stopped so Joe and I went for a run together.  That night was my friend Ginny's wedding in Norfolk--a very small, pleasant affair.  The Bride looked smashing!

VCU friends Ginny and Caroline

I haven't been so good about getting workouts in these past several weeks.  I did get on my bike yesterday and managed to avoid many of the 2-3" deep puddles in the roads, but my toes absolutely froze.  This week I hope to make one of the Fat Frog rides, but damn, they start early (7:30am!) 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Smacznego! Bon Apetit! Buen Provecho! Ith gu leòir!

Turns out today is National Cupcake Day! I know how I'm celebrating--thanks to Molly.

Goodness knows after today's 42 mile bike ride, I need some little reward. I got my butt kicked by a bunch of older men, one of whom has over a total of 11,000 RECORDED miles for this year alone. Another guy was wearing bike shorts (no tights) and sandals (no socks--and it was 50 degrees), and riding on flat pedals--like the ones on kids' bikes. Now I totally understand why the first guy could ride me under the table, but SANDALS?! Damn, that's hard core.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I can't easily do anything today except sit. Yesterday was my inaugural "Return to Weight Lifting" day, so I figured a 1/2 hour ab class followed by a 1 hr Body Shape class would do the trick. The ab class wasn't THAT bad, except for the SLOOOOW leg lifts. Then the perky young chick took over for Body Shape and had us do 8gazillion push ups. I'm not sure I like the whole "lifting" to music thing, especially when it's techno-80s mix at 110 beats per minute and you're doing lunges to the beat of the music. Hello! Can you see that my legs are twice as long as yours? From full lunge to knee lift position takes me 3x as long as the instructor. That and that it seems I'm really out of shape. There was one other girl in the class with an Ironman shirt on. I told her I'd much rather spend 6 hours on the bike than an extra 5 minutes in there.

So I survived that class, feeling like my arms were going to fall off, only to have Masters swim that night. Coach John laughed when I told him what I did that morning. Said something about it being "good for me." Sounds like something Jen would say. I led the lane for most of the warm up, and then decided when I saw that the main set was 3x (3x200s) to go to the back of the line. Time to do a little cruisin'. The first set of 3 200s was the hardest, since we got 5 seconds rest in between 100s on the subsequent ones. Who knew that 5 seconds rest could make or break your swim?! Then I actually took back leading the lane, and I did the last two sets of 200 in the same time, so I wasn't slowing down. Yey me! I then came home, ate dinner, watched Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and collapsed.

This morning I was still ok, and then went for a massage. ow ow ow ow, with a few aaahs here and there. Pecs and hamstring/glutes were horribly painful (surprise surprise), and of course that is where Brooke decided I needed the most work. I'm going to now pop a few more Advil, watch the Biggest Loser finale, and go to bed, provided I can actually lift my butt up out of this chair.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's December already?!?

Today I had to go to the mall to exchange some things. Wow. Christmas season is full on. Ack. I was just getting used to the idea that Thanksgiving was here.
I must give a shout out to my friends who all crossed that finish line and became Ironmen at IMFL and IMAZ. They all had awesome races and I had such fun watching all of them come across online. I only wish I could have been there in person! Congratulations Molly, Fave, Jill, Trish, Molly W, Mary, Lynne, Annie, Jackie, Kelly, Lisa, Liz, Sarah! So very proud of all of you! Here's the video of Molly crossing the line:

The weekend before Thanksgiving was my third time back on my bike since July. (How scary is that!) Deanna, Jill, SanDee, and I rode on Saturday. I didn't get the memo about someone dropping the hammer, and toward the end of the 30 mile ride I was sucking wind trying to keep up with their 24mph pace. Ooooph. The following day I ran the Turkey Trot course with some IMFL peeps. The weather was gorgeous and warm, and it was nice to spend a Sunday morning running with friends, even running hills.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend. #1 son Jim was able to come home a day early on Wednesday, so we first celebrated his 25th birthday (am I really that old?!) before getting down to the serious eating on Thursday. We love our now-traditional Turkey Trot followed by a tailgate at my car. Very low key race (even if Joe wanted me to try and beat him), and fun gathering of friends before trundling off for family to-dos. I did not beat Joe (he almost got a PR on the course) but was able to break an hour. SanDee's garmin said that the course had almost 1200 feet in elevation gain. No wonder we needed a nap afterwards! This is of me at mile 5:
We then cooked dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Williamsburg. My aunt is battling uterine cancer and is house bound, so dinner came to her. It was very quiet, just the 5 Olivers and them, but very pleasant. We had great discussions about the future of the middle east, given Jim's impending deployment, and especially Iran (my uncle was stationed there during the fall of the Shah) and we watched football.

Sunday I again went riding with SanDee, her husband Gregg and another friend of theirs. 40 miles and 5 counties! The route we took had a little bit of everything: farmland, barking dogs, friendly dogs, lakes, bridges, hills, tailwind and headwind. The weather again was very cooperative, sunny and gorgeous and about 70 degrees. I was a little over-dressed, but better to be taking layers off than freezing. Post ride we all hit the Hanover Tavern for brunch.

I've had my off season, and now the base training is back on. Which means it's time to get back in the pool. I thought I had it well planned when, 3 Mondays ago I showed up at 7:29 for Masters at the Y. John, the coach on deck, said I had a minute to get it done. I thought he meant to get in and warm up, but no. He meant a minute to do the whole workout. Masters, it seems, starts at 6:30, not 7:30, and has since forever. Ooops. Now that Jen also knows that, my Monday workouts in TP say something like "Masters--AT 6:30PM!!" so I can't show up late anymore. I have now made it on time for the past two weeks, and absolutely got my a$$ kicked this week when John put 600m in of both back and breast stroke drills. I really suck at breast stroke, and don't even ask about butterfly. That is NOT in my repertoire. I think I have forgotten how to swim properly regardless of the stroke I'm doing. My shoulder hurts.

I am also trying to figure out how to get in the strength training. I see everyone is enjoying that! I might take Michelle's challenge to heart and see if I can build up to more than 1 pull up (frankly, I don't even think I can do one...that should be fun.)

This coming year I want to nail down my nutrition, both for racing and in general. Joe is in the midst of reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (we've both read The Omnivore's Dilemma) and so he's asking questions about how we can change where/how we get our meat. We are shopping at Whole Paycheck much more and trying to cut down the processed foods that come into the house. It is a challenge with kids--what do you send for snacks other than fruit or pita chips? Joey in particular likes things that are full of unpronounceable stuff, especially the premade frozen waffles, the kind that are chock full of HFCS.

We are looking forward to a quiet Christmas, post party of course. We'll head up to Northern Virginia to see my neice and nephew in the Nutcracker the weekend of the 19th, and then drive to the beach. It'll be our first Christmas holiday actually there for present opening and whatnot. We'll be bringing bikes and games and running gear, and there are always lots of house projects to keep us busy. Sophie will have a great time chasing the birds!

Friday, November 20, 2009

For the soon-to-be Ironmen!

With lots of love from me...I wish I was there.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We came, we cheered, we may have danced the chicken dance...

Congratulations to all the 8k, 1/2 Marathon, and Marathon finishers! I'm sorry the day wasn't sunny, but luckily it was cool and a little breezy. I was able to round up a couple of accomplices to cheer on the runners a la Steve in a Speedo.

I like to think we had better moves, but we taped our segment during a busy point, and ended up high-fiving more than dancing. I downloaded a bunch of fun songs (sorry the sound quality is so bad), but gave my girls instructions to watch Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video so they'd know the moves. Here's our version:

A huge thank you to Vanessa and Jennifer! It was so much fun!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Races and Race Reports

What could be better than swimming, biking and running through some of this country's most gorgeous wine country? Why, eating and drinking your way through wine country with great friends too! Time to plan your summer vacation with a little 70.3 thrown in for good measure. Sign ups for Vineman open this Sunday at midnight (is that 11pm or 1am with the time change???)

Jen C and I have been scheming and this is what we've come up with:

  • We have a couple of ideas on houses to rent in the area, all that would accomodate 6-10, and all have a pool.

  • Jen has her professional chef friends lined up to prepare an awesome post race meal, complete with wine pairings!

  • We were also thinking of organizing a little barrel tasting too (can you say carb load???)

  • Thank you Molly for offering to be our sherpa and cheerleader extraordinaire! She's done this race twice so she knows how this whole point to point thing works. Yey Molly!

Race day is July 18th. I figure we'd need the house from Friday, July 16th to Monday the 19th. Let me know if you're in and I'll get working on it. Ideally I'd like to keep that cost down to about $100/night per person. If we have fewer than 6 we MIGHT be able to just horn in at my in-laws house which is just 20 mins from the race start, and 5 mins from the race finish, but I have to clear that with them. The chef's meal would run about $75 (that includes wine!) Who's in???

On a less fun note, I guess I need to talk/blog about the Marine Corps Marathon. For all my chatting about getting faster, I didn't deliver. I posted a disappointing 4:55, 4 mins off my current best time. It was a beautiful day for the run. You couldn't ask for better weather--sunny skies, breezy, and about 60 degrees. I was able to make it to the race start in plenty of time, and seeded myself in the 4:30 to 5:00 time corral. I looked all around for my high school friend's husband and he found me just after the gun. I was so glad to have someone to run with! Thank you Tony for the company. The first few miles went by really quickly, with the first hill up Lee Hwy and then down Spout Run. 30,000 is a lot of running company, and it was very crowded (yet only 21,000 finish). There was a lot of people dodging and maneuvering.

Running up Canal Road was beautiful and shady. We made it up the second hill to the reservoir fine and I took in my first gu at the 7 mile point. The downhill back into Georgetown was steep! I knew we'd fly down it, but kept in mind that such steep hills make for owie legs later on (thank you IMLP for that lesson). Lots of crowd support all the way down M Street, and then another downhill and around to the Kennedy Center. This part of the run is familiar since it follows roughly the same path as the Army 10 Miler. Joe was hoping to be at the Lincoln Memorial around mile 11, but didn't make it. There were TONS of spectators around there, which really helped, and I doubt I could've found him in the crowd anyways.

Then came the flat flat flat portion of the race out to Hains Point and back. Nice views along the Potomac and more shade. Aaah. Around the corner, beep beep over the 1/2 way timing mat. At this point I was hanging in there with the 4:30 pace group and doing ok but then I lost Tony at a water stop. And between here and mile 16, the wheels came off the bus. Maybe I should blame that Russian dude that started running with me and chatting up a storm (see pic below and can you believe his name was Boris?). He had been a professional volleyball player in Russia, moved to the US and took up beach volleyball, and now was getting into IM training. He seemed nice enough, but just kept talking my ear off. I wasn't sorry to lose him at a water stop. I knew these miles coming up (18-20) would be the toughest since you loop out to the Capitol and back along the Mall and didn't want to talk about how he should train for Ironman Nice.

At mile 18 I checked my phone and sure enough Joe had texted that he and the kids were waiting for me at mile 22. Not close enough! I found Tony again, poor guy was massaging out cramps just before the Capitol turn around. I asked if he wanted me to stick around and he said to keep going! I finally made it to the 14th Street Bridge and knew if I could make it to Joe, I'd be ok. That bridge is long. It's the last 2 miles of the A10M course, so I know the feeling well of running running running (along a freeway, no less) feeling like you'll never get to the Pentagon. The guy dressed as the Grim Reaper had it somewhat right: he was holding up a huge sign that said "THE END IS NEAR" which 22 miles in is technically correct, but it still feels impossibly far. I was so glad getting off that ramp into Pentagon City, and then saw Joey looking out for me! Yey.

I hit my goal time of 4:30 at the 24 mile point. For a few moments I did consider just stopping at that point. I had just seen my family (for the first time during the race) and the car and hotel were just behind me. Ahead lay 2.2 more miles of pain and frustration. Luckily the handsome young Marine with a bullhorn started talking to ME ("Hey, Ironwoman, get your ass moving! Just 2 more miles!" was about what he was saying) and motivated me to finish it up. I did find Tony again (he must've passed me as I was in the Cosi bathroom at the turn around at mile 23), and he used the phone to call his wife to let her know his expected finish time. He urged me to run it in if I could, so I took off, cranked up the ipod and tried to ignore my legs.

Coming up the final hill to the Iwo Jima memorial was bittersweet. Tons of spectators, lots of young marines, all cheering you up the hill (it's a steep one!). You can't let them down and not RUN up it. Ow ow ow. And whew, the finish line. The medals they give you are impressive--big hunks of metal of the globe, anchor, and eagle. I immediately called first Joe to say "come get me!" and Jen to weep into the phone, and tell her I finished...but.

I have been training for long distance racing for over a year and a half--I started training for IMFL in May of '08. That's a long time to be devoted to distance training, with no emphasis on speed. In talking with Jen H, we agree that my goal time is in me, somewhere. I need this coming year to see if I can translate my improved shorter distance PRs (Shamrock and the Army10Miler) into more consistent speed. Until then, I need to keep ahead of Joe. He's thrown down a challenge that he'll beat me in the Turkey Trot this year. I'll give him a run for his money!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Conquering the Red Baron?

In January I blogged about a rare run with my husband (read it again here). Back then I wasn't able to keep up with his pace--which is usually right around an 8 minute mile. My husband has the gift of natural speed. Here's a guy whose dad--who started running when he was 45--has run over 20 marathons, including Boston. Joe ran his first (and possibly his last...) marathon the year he turned 40. He found a training plan online and ran it almost to the letter, cranking out a 4:05 marathon. This was before I started the ironman journey and now I keep wondering how he'd do with a little coaching, some track workouts, and a better nutrition plan... Running with Joe was a lesson in humility about how slow I was, and that day in January I was left cursing him with raised fist, much like Snoopy at the Red Baron.

Yesterday we ran together, my regular 4.5 mi loop. Sophie pulled me along as usual, but where I'd normally reign her back with a strict "NO PULL!" I was keeping up with her just fine. And I was also keeping up with Joe. He might have slowed down a bit since his marathon training year since he hasn't been running as regularly, but he's still pretty quick. And yesterday was the culmination of the biggest running milage week for me EVER--almost 40 miles of pounding the pavement. And I did that loop in about 40 minutes and could've kept going!

I'm liking this new running pace. I'm sure at some point I'll still get my ass kicked by Lynnie, since she's getting better and stronger every day. But you know what? I'm thinking this 4:30 marathon thing is in my reach. Now all I need is a trio of farm animals to boogie with at mile 20!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Morning Run with Sophie

This video is a little wobbly, so I apologize in advance. Hopefully you won't get too woozy watching it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Madness

Here we are already half way through October, with the end of the year in sight. I have one more "A" race this year, and it's now just two weeks away! This week is my last big running week before the Marine Corps Marathon on the 25th, time to start believing! In TP, Jen has instructed me to start "thinking PR!" So that is what I will do.

The Army 10 Miler on October 4th was fun, even though I ran it with no one to find me at the finish line. I can't believe I pr'd, and by 10 minutes!! I was hoping for anything less than a 1:35, and I came in at 1:31:48. If only I hadn't stopped so long a the water stop at Mile 2...

That was a beautiful morning for a race--at the start it was about 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I had a fun evening the night before with my friend Heidi, shopping for wedding jewelry and then dinner at a Thai restaurant. Pre race I had my normal breakfast and coffee, and ate my clif bar just before walking to the start. I was early (unlike the Rock n' Roll half that started at 7am, not 7:30...ooops), and I hung out in my corral and watched the paratroopers drop out of the plane. Some guy behind me noticed my tattoo and asked which Ironman I had done. He then just wouldn't stop talking! I was glad for the start of the race so I could move away from him and hopefully lose him in the 30,000 people running. He found me at mile 2 while I was trying to down a gu. Ack!

I hit mile 5 and took stock--I was just at 45 minutes, and half way through the race. I realized I could, if I just maintained my pace, come in close to 1:30 so that became my focus. Don't slow down...steady... I didn't walk through any more water stops. At mile 7 I passed this kid, and commented to another woman that we couldn't let an 8 year old kick our ass. The kid piped up that he was 10! At the turn onto the 14th street bridge at mile 8, I took in my last gu, downed some water, and bucked up for the last 2 miles which are the worst! Running on a freeway, with no shade, and tormenting signs saying "Pentagon 1/2 mile" when you feel like you've run an extra 12 miles. I had been hitting my watch at every mile marker and at mile 9 it felt like I had no gas left, but I got it done in 8:50! Bonus! I sprinted in and just knew I nailed that run. Whew!

This weekend was more travel, down to Naples FL for my dear friend Heidi's wedding. Some pictures:
The Bridesmaids

The Bride and Maid of Honor--little ows on wedding morning

The Bride and her attendants

Post Wedding Fun

Live Sand Dollars!

Many congratulations to my friends who finished Kona--I am in awe! I am so so so happy for my friends Fave and IronGreg who got engaged this weekend. I also send lots of love out to dear Julia this week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eating Vegetables (it's good for you!)

Poor Jen, I called her last night and started complaining. About being alone at my races without my family, about how slow I'm feeling. She must've said something to ELF, because I was later instructed on Facebook to pull on the big girl panties and EAT MY VEGETABLES. And they're right. It's time to HTFU, realize that I signed up for these races ostensibly for a reason (like maybe because they'd be fun? or maybe I could set a new PRs?) Neither Jen nor ELF can do that for me, and neither can my family. And while it would be nice to have a familiar face meet me at mile 20 and say "Let's get you to the finish line sooner rather than later," I shouldn't rely on that. Just like in an IM, it should be ME that gets me to the finish line. That little voice in me in Placid was really annoying, telling me how much better I'd feel if I slowed down, how easier it was to walk than run. It almost had me convinced I didn't even need to finish, but I knew better on that score (Jen and my husband would've killed me!) I don't think I've tuned it out yet either.

I have a hard time with that voice. It is the voice of self-doubt. It can be very persuasive. It is the voice that says the hurt will stop when you do. It can easily wipe out months of hard work and progress with just a little whisper of "what if..." or "you don't need to do this..." or "ouch this hurts." I think this is where people who grow up athletic have it a little better in that they learned to tune out that voice back in high school or college. How do you reprogram that voice when you're just finding that athlete inside yourself at age 41? Ha, Jen, there's a question for your blog!

On the way to dinner I was doing some math. I was trying to remember my pace for the 2007 Monument Avenue 10k which I ran in just over 52 minutes, a 2 minute PR. I wasn't running that race with a specific time goal, but I was running with a friend. She had pulled away from me at the 3 mile mark, and I remember how I push push pushed to find her again and cross the line with her. Where was the voice then? Who knows. But I wanted one thing, and that was to not be beat to the line by much. My fitness has only improved since then, so I have no excuses but damn I still feel slow! Someday I want to run a sub 50 min 10k. Right now though, my 800m repeats that have me dying by the end are not far off that 8 1/2 min/mile pace from 2007. Is IM training really THAT damaging to your speed?!

While at dinner, Joey asked how much I'd pay him to eat his vegetables. I told him he better get used to being hungry, because I won't bribe him to eat. I guess I better figure out what I'm craving, and how badly I want it. No one is going to eat those veggies for me, and even if I have to choke them down, they're good for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Mishmash

This past Friday was LONG RUN Friday. 3 hours. All alone. Yuck. Maybe I should back up and let you know what I did Thursday. Thursday was "run hills with Lynnie and Jilly" day. We ran Riverside Drive on the south side of town, up and down, up and down. At 6:30am (or a little later because if you know me you know I'm always late). Bleh. Oh, and we're running at Lynn's new pace, which is pretty fast, especially on hills at o'dark thirty when I still haven't had my morning coffee. I kept reminding myself as I looked for those two girls waaaay ahead of me that I chose to do this over running 1:15 by myself. Here's the route:

So Thursday's run was hard. Then I get to top it with another tough 3 hr run with 30 minute intervals building from easy to zone 4. As I was putting on my running togs, Sophie starts bouncing up and down, "oh boy oh boy oh boy we're gonna go for a run!" I felt so bad that she wasn't going to be able to come with, but dragging a half dead Viszla after 10 miles wouldn't be fun. So home she stayed. I loaded up the fuel belt with gu and water, mapped out my run, and headed out. It was a beautiful day, thank goodness. Not too hot. The first 4 miles were good, and even included MORE hills as I ran up to Grove Avenue from the UofR/CCV cut through on Tapoan and Iris. I took in the first gu at Starbucks, refilled the water bottles, and was waiting for the light to turn when I ran into a friend. He's training for the Tour de Tucson that is our local JDRF office's fundraiser this year--lucky guy just got a new road bike, all carbon with better gearing. He's amazed at what a difference it made! So chat chat chat, gotta run...and off I go down Grove. I was cruising along and just ahead along the curb of the road was a turtle. Can't leave the turtle there to wander into traffic, so I ran holding him for a block or two looking for a good place to put him out of harms way. Someone's walled garden was just the place, but I think the roofers working there all thought I was nuts for saving a turtle.

I hit the 195 overpass and it was time to put it in high gear. Time for that zone 4 area. ooof. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to run this part on sidewalks that are buckled and wobbly. Oh well. Bounding over curbs and whatnot helped keep the hr elevated. I picked the route since it's familiar territory, and has ample water and potty stops along the way. It took me exactly 1:25 to get all the way down to the VCU campus. Time to refill the water bottles, so I wandered up to my old MFA program stomping grounds and found Rob! Poor guy, I left sweaty bottom prints on his chair and sweaty elbow prints on his desk. But it was nice to see him and catch up briefly before heading back out.

The way home wasn't half as fun. It was getting late (it was about 12:30 when I turned for home) and was quite warm. I was drinking as fast as I could refill those bottles, and taking in my gu every 3 miles. I did run into Sophie's trainer and was able to put the bugaboo in his ear about her staying at Vizsla heaven (he owns 2 viszlas) while we're in Florida. Trudge trudge trudge on home. The guy at Starbucks looked at me and said "You again? How far are you running?" The downhills back by CCV hurt, but not as much as the last hill up to our street. Home at 2pm, in the ice bath by 2:10. Then it was time for a nap. Then packing for the beach. Whew. Here's the map of my route:

We had a great weekend at the beach. Saturday was cool and overcast and since (HOORAY!) I didn't have a run to do, we took our bikes down to the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge to bike to False Cape State Park. I loved biking with the family. I think this is the first time we've ever all been on bikes as a family (the four person ones with the canopy on the boardwalk don't count). The kids are totally ready for new bikes though, and could probably use ones with gearing. Once at the park, we went out to the beach and had some impromptu races. The ride back wasn't nearly as much fun due to a headwind (welcome to my life), but the kids were troopers and handled it well. Next time we'll try biking all the way to the North Carolina border, which is about 5 miles further down from the Park.

Of course the day we have to pack up and leave was gorgeous. The guys went to hit some golf balls and Maddy and I goofed off. I did get my run in, with Sophie. We have a regular ~5mi loop where we run down on the road and back along the beach. She must have run an additional 3-4 miles just running ahead to chase birds then coming back to me. Tired dog = happy dog! We stopped in Williamsburg on the way home to visit with my uncle. My aunt is still in the hospital, but will be coming home soon we hope. I still need one of those pink "Cancer Sucks" splish suits.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking back...looking ahead

It's hard to believe my triathlon season ended over a month ago. Here it is almost fall and in my most recent coversation with Jen we agreed that I don't need to swim any more this year. I know, some of you are crying me a river, but I'm not sure that I'm all that happy about it. I think I'm a decent swimmer, so time in the pool is ok, especially with my friends training for IMFL. I have also only been on my bike twice since Placid! Two weeks ago I rode with Fave, Lynn, Jill, and Emmie who absolutely kicked my ass on a 56 mile ride. Maybe I should get on my bike more so I don't forget how to ride. Here we are at the start of the ride, hoping the thunderstorms and crazy rain we drove through to the start wouldn't dog us for the next 3 hours:

Whatever, I'm not training for anything requiring a swimsuit or bike. I am, however, supposed to be marathon training...

Yeah, I've got this little 26.2 mile run hanging over my head in late October. The Marine Corps Marathon. And I think the friend I had talked into running it with me is going to bag on me. Something about new babies and jobs...blah blah blah. (Yeah, Bob, I'm calling you out on my blog...) The problem is my running has been off since Placid. Did you read my previous post?! Just the thought of trying to slog through another marathon is freaking me out. I did run the Rock'n'Roll half marathon this past weekend at the beach, somewhat successfully. I was worried that since it was hot and humid I might bonk again. Luckily that didn't happen, but I didn't set any speed records either. Cue up the Marit quote about "slow, strong, steady" being the key for Ironman training. You don't see speed in there. I have this little voice in my head saying I should try hard and run a 4:30 (which would be a 20 minute PR for me!), so that's what Jen is going to have me doing--speed work. Fun times.

What went right last weekend? I paid attention to the two things I didn't get right in Placid: water and electrolytes. I took a salt tab every 2 miles, and a gu and water every 3 miles. I drank most of a gatorade just before starting too. I had been training in the nasty hot humid weather of the beach in August for the past 2 weeks (minus a couple of days while Tropical Storm Danny blew around). I had been out running at o'stupid o'clock--usually around 9:30 or 10 am. Those runs really sucked since it was generally around 90 degrees out. I couldn't make it more than 5 miles. Yuck. I must say, I'm pretty excited about this weekend's half--it was really affirming to know that I could 1) handle the heat and run smart and 2) run a consistent pace with minimal walking other than to down some etabs or water. Hooray for conquering a couple of little Placid demons. Here's a picture of me close to the finish line. Don't I look happy?!
Today's little 4 1/2 mile recovery run went well. I started out a little sluggish, but was able to pick up the pace in the middle and finish strong. I was very glad that it was in the low 70s and raining! Bring on the fall weather--isn't that why we like fall marathons?

While the rest of 2009 is pretty much planned, I've already started thinking about next year. Since it will be a year to develop speed, that means no Ironman Canada for me and that makes me a little sad. Instead it will be another year of early season triathlons and fall...I don't know what yet. Maybe road races, maybe just biking. So things I'm considering are:

  • Rev3 Olympic in Knoxville, TN May 9th
  • Columbia Olympic in Maryland on May 23rd (need to sign up soon)
  • Eagleman 1/2 Iron in Maryland on June 13th (signed up!)
  • Vineman 1/2 Iron in Sonoma, CA on July 18th. (sign ups are November 1st!!!)

I am also hoping to make it back for training with Jen in Tucson next spring (Sshhh...Joe doesn't know about that one yet.) I know I can make it to the top of Mt Lemmon, just give me a 1/2 hour head start!

Monday, August 31, 2009

IMLP Race Report part Deux, LOOONG overdue

The Run

I haven’t wanted to write this part of the race report. Can we just say my race ended in T2, with me having what was (for me) a kick ass bike?! Quite a few friends have said they were following along online and kept thinking to themselves that I wasn’t going to make it…yeah, the run was that bad. Better yet, instead of calling it a “run,” let’s call a spade a spade—it was a roughly 20 mile walk, with a little 10k action to start it off.

Ok, so T2 went pretty well, and I got out the door just behind Cyndi and Deanna. Both were walking (Cyndi very quickly…) so I caught up to them before the ski jumps. I chatted with both of them along the way, Cyndi so upbeat and positive even though she must have been in such pain from the torn labrum. Deanna had her toe broken during the swim, but she was out there getting it done. I was feeling good at this point so I trucked on down the hills. I remember feeling pretty hungry, and at the first aid station surveying their offerings. I chose 3 orange slices which tasted good, and some water. It became pretty apparent at this point that it was not the “upper 70” degrees forecast. The cold sponges were hot sellers—people shoving them down tops and squeezing them over their heads. They did feel great!

I ran my regular pace (about 10 min miles) for the first 4 miles, then things started slowing down. I kept wishing someone would flip the OFF switch for the sun, but it was still pretty high in the sky and I knew it wouldn’t set until well into my second lap. Damn. Mile 3 or 4 I took in a gu and some water, thinking I’d keep this up for the duration of the run. They didn’t taste too good. I thought it might be those orange slices I had, and tried to shake off the nausea. My plan was to run the first 13-18 miles, so I kept on truckin’. Close to the turn around, I passed coach Mark, and that’s when it hit me how rough so many of us out there felt. The aid stations seemed like more than a mile apart—and I think there were only two of them on the lonely, dark stretch out River Road (the Hawaii and Christmas themes). Oh, and I think there was the one close to the message board sponsored by Ford. Anyways, I digress…

At the turn around, I saw Lynn and Bethany trucking along behind me—both looking GREAT!—but I had hit a wall. What previously felt manageable became almost insurmountable. The heat felt oppressive, and my mind hit that ironman spacey place. I didn’t feel this way until about mile 15 of the IMFL run. I started trying to just run between aid stations, and that lasted another mile. So I teamed up with some guy named Matt who was walking a brisk pace. We chatted along until Matt felt good enough to run again. I tried to pick it up and hang with him, but it was a no-go until just past the ski jumps. Another mile of perking along, then I hit that hill back into town. Augh.

I walked up that after trying a quick potty stop (that didn’t help), and just at the top I found Bryan and Karen. A quick stop to tell her my woes—at this point I could barely take in anything. For the last 3 miles I had been nibbling on some pretzels and ice chips, but nothing felt like it would stay down if I gulped anything. Karen reminded me that with just over another lap to go, I needed calories. So I bucked up and took in another gu—very slowly. Then I made it to special needs and Joe and Joey. Joe could tell I was looking pretty rough but was very encouraging. I grabbed my long sleeve shirt of the bag, but had forgotten to pack any salt tabs. Does this woman look happy to you?

The turn around up there was so far back, but I snagged a few more kisses from my guys and headed back out of town. If my first loop was ugly, this one got even uglier. At various points I tried everything the aid stations had to offer. The Gatorade (orange flavor, YUCK) was a no-go, the chicken broth was ok in little sips, and the ice chips were good. Everything else did not appeal. I can’t remember taking in any more gus, and it took so much mental energy just to keep making forward progress, that contemplating nutrition was going to overwhelm me. Cyndi caught me and we tried hard to figure out how much more time we would be out there. She was pretty appalled at my ironman math—I couldn’t keep up with her speed walking and my mind had checked out hours ago. Just after the turn around, Lynn and Bethany caught me and we had a moment in the dark, all peeing along the side of the road. Classy! They also tried to convince me to hang with them and pick up my speed, but I couldn’t do it so off they went.

I hated passing the Olympic oval, hearing people being announced, and knowing that I had to find that turn around somewhere about a mile away. But Heidi, Joe and Joey found me, urged me on, and said they’d meet me at the finish line. Coming into the finish felt very different from Florida. I was happy to be done, but realized that I was darn lucky to have done so. My marathon time was a whopping 6:34, so much slower than IMFL (5:48), and a whopping 15 minute/mile pace. My total Placid time was an hour slower than Florida, mostly due to the run.

Karen was at the finish line and after a quick hug, directed my volunteer to take me to the med tent. I passed some TriGirl/Maramarc folks at the athelete food area and gave them a quick wave. Joe was able to finagle his way in to find me, and after I had a couple of iv’s, he helped me do a quick change into some dry clothes and helped me home.

I’ve thought a lot about this race, and what I did right and where I went horribly wrong. While I am very happy to have done the race, and have it behind me, I am disappointed in my time. I know I could have done a better job (but won’t sign up for next year to prove it!) In two races now, I’ve had issues with my run in hot and humid weather after what was, in both cases, a strong bike portion. Jen and I have talked it over somewhat, and there may be a nutritional piece of the puzzle that I haven’t yet figured out. I have promised my husband and family that I will take at least a year off from full ironman distance races, so I think they are all heaving a big sigh of relief about that. I have plans for next year, but will write a separate blog post for that…

Thank you, my friends, for the support and encouragement! I carried you all with me on ironman day and knew you’d be waiting for each update as I crossed the timing mats. Hugs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

IMLP Race Report Part 1

Be's a long one!

What started out as excitement and calm a couple of days before the race, turned into a full blown panic on Saturday. I think it was the finality of getting the transition bags packed—looking at everything I still had to organize and think through totally overwhelmed me. On top of that, I had promised Joey I’d make pancakes that morning, and I did, but it made me late getting out the door to go pick up Joe who was flying into Plattsburg around 10am. In the car on the way to get him I tried calling Jen, and a few other people, but spotty cell coverage and windy roads don’t make ideal “chat on the phone” and drive conditions. I was fighting off tears for a good portion of the drive anyways, thinking I was surely mad for even thinking I could ever tackle this course. It was good to find Joe and have him close. He’s learned by now what to say (no saying “you can still back out now,” just keep it upbeat and positive and repeat “you’ll do fine” over and over again). Luckily he had plans to hang out with Joey, allowing me some time to maybe put my feet up and relax. Joey was so glad to have someone other than me to hang out with! Four days with just Mom and her triathlon friends for company is tough on a 10 year old.

Our house, Karibou, had invited the rest of the TriGirl/Maramarc team over for pizza around lunch in lieu of a prerace dinner. It was nice to have staggered friends in and out, chatting about who had yet to turn in their stuff and rack their bikes. Lynn and I were finally ready around 2pm and headed down to the Oval. I tried quickly to get a lay of the land—and figure out where we run in/out of transition. Our bags were on numbered racks; it was nice that they were up off the ground. I had double bagged most of what I needed kept dry, since the weather was calling for thunderstorms that night and on race day.

By 3:30, I was trying desperately to relax and put my feet up. Holly had lent me a book, which I hoped would take my mind off the race, so I read for a little while. I was able to chat with Marit; she really helped calm me down, and had me go over my whole race plan. We did talk a little about the uncontrollable things, like weather and my plan for the down hills. Thank you so much, Marit! Someday I hope I can do a race with Marit close by to cheer me on! I knew there would be plenty of people there to cheer, including folks like Danielle who I had not met, and my good friend Heidi. She pulled into town around 4, having ridden up with the male contingent of the Richmond cheer squad—Ryon, Bryan, and another of their friends. By 5:30 it was time to start dinner: broiled salmon, brown rice, and roast green beans (and a little schluk of wine). Afterwards, we all made up our bottles of nutrition for the morning and hit the sack.

I was surprised how well I slept. No horrible stress dreams, no waking up every hour in anticipation of the alarm clock. I didn’t even hear the rain, which according to Holly was a pretty steady downpour. All the racers were up by 4:30. I quickly got dressed, and tiptoed in to give my Jofus man some kisses. He’d sleep through the morning and I wouldn’t see him again until much later. Heidi got up with me and since I didn’t have much of an appetite, we headed down to the transition area. Special needs turned in, body marked, and bike ready by 5:30! As I was headed back to the house, we ran into Cyndi. She and I trucked back down to body marking for our “pre-IM ceremony.” Before IMFL in 2007, I wrote “YES YOU CAN” on her arm; she did the same for me last year. This year, as we were both racing we took turns writing “YES WE CAN!” on each other. It was getting late—I needed to go EAT and take care of the morning constitutional. By this point it was pushing 6am…ack!

Too soon it was time to head to the swim start. Joe walked down with me, holding my hand. I got a little choked up thinking about my day ahead. There’s always that uncertainty just before a long race, a feeling like you won’t come out the other end quite the same. I tried hard not to think about NOT finishing, and focused instead on savoring my last few minutes holding onto my husband. I afraid that I had waited too long to get to the start, and that I wouldn’t be able to find any of my friends/teammates. 140.6 is a long way to go, and it’s nice to at least start the journey with some familiar faces nearby. Luckily I found some of them lined up for pictures! Whew. Kisses and hugs goodbye to the sherpas, and Lynn and I held hands as we walked over the timing mats. Just at the IM arch leading into the water, Sherpa Sharon (and IMFL peep) was there directing the athletes into the water, wishing everyone a great day/race. High fives and hugs and it was time to get wet.

Off go the pros, and the woman leading the national anthem gets some of the words wrong. The weather was overcast and drizzly, and as we waited for the cannon to go off, we took turns checking goggles and warming up a bit. I couldn’t see any familiar bodies in the crowd, but I knew they were there. At this point, much like at IMFL, I had the feeling like, yes, this is right. I’m ready and can do this. BOOM goes the cannon and I look at my friends and we head out!

The Swim

Just as Cyndi and I round the dock to swim under the flags, some lady starts FREAKING out. She passed me by on her way to Cyndi, who was trying to calm her down. The dock wasn’t more than 10 feet away, but this woman was in a total panic and grabbed onto Cyndi for dear life. We shouted to the lifeguard on the dock that the woman needed help, and it seemed like an eternity before they threw in the floaty to her. By this time, the diver popped up from below us, and he was able to wrestle the woman off Cyndi. Cyndi and I looked at each other, and Cyndi said if that was the worst thing to happen during the swim, at least it was over with! Time to start swimming.

The crowd was still pretty thick, but I was able to keep Cyndi in my sights on my left. The whole first half of the first loop was crazy—I wasn’t pummeled at all, but had a couple of close encounters where I went to breathe to one side and there would be a face immediately in front of mine. I didn’t feel I was swimming as much as being carried along by the crowd. At the first turn buoy I glanced at my watch: 23 minutes and change. The way back in was a little better and seemed to go much faster. As I came out of the water over the timing mats, I was still keeping up with Cyndi, and I was glad for a familiar face as we headed out for loop 2.

The second loop always feels so much better—people find their rhythm, there’s much more space, and you can focus on things like lengthening your stroke. Every time I breathed to my right, I could see the sun trying to peek through the clouds. I started singing “Here Comes the Sun” to myself, hoping it would stay out long enough to dry up the road down into Keene. At one point I saw a familiar stroke to my left. It was Lynn, and we said hello! As I rounded the buoys again, I was feeling good. Time to stop dicking around and swim. I thought for sure I had negative split the thing (I did by 1 minute) and I came out very close to my IMFL time (one minute faster). Total swim: 1:24:44.

Gotta love wetsuit strippers. They need them at every 70.3 race. Otherwise I end up sitting in T1, pulling and tugging and stepping on the wetsuit trying to get it off. Off with the wetsuit, and it was time to huff it to the transition area. It was lovely to see familiar faces along the way, especially Joe and Heidi. A quick run through the racks to grab my bag, and then I was in the tent. Talk about crowded! I found a seat close to Cyndi, she was lucky to have a volunteer helping her, and plopped down. Just then a volunteer came to help me (Halleluja!), and she was able to dump out my bag and get me organized. First things first, I had to read the note Maddy had written to me (I had one for each transition!). I thought of my Moo, and so wished she could be there. I think I showed the note to Cyndi… I dried off the feet and the volunteer helped put on my shoes, sprayed me with sunscreen (thank goodness!), and helped with the arm warmers. Time to roll. Run out of the tent, grab the bike from another volunteer and get to the mount line. T1: 9:53, just a minute faster from IMFL, but it included a longer run from the swim to the tent.

The Bike

I tried not to be apprehensive about the bike start. From the mount line, there are a couple of SHARP turns combined with STEEP hills, and on wet pavement in the midst of other racers doing the same thing it could be very dicey. I took my time, and stayed as far to the right as possible. I was pretty surprised that Joe and Heidi were able to make it over to the bike start, but they were there yelling for me! I also saw Fave and the other rock-star wives on the way out of town. I love racing with lots of friends.

I made it down the hill past the ski jumps, and settled in for the first climb of the day. I tried to focus on getting in calories while spin spin spinning up the hill. It didn’t feel like I was pushing it, but I was passing more people than passed me (that would change soon enough!) Cyndi caught up to me and we chatted a bit. She stayed with me down the first two small downhill sections, bless her soul, looking back to make sure I was good. Then Amy passed by. That poor woman had rented race wheels only to get a flat before the first aid station.

Pretty soon I was at the start of the Keene descent. The sun had come out and dried up the pavement, and I knew this first part was where I needed to let it go and relax. Free speed. The repaved road and no wind were wonderful! I passed the photographer and smiled—this was almost FUN. Then I hit the steep windy part. Cyndi took off, and I was on my own. Guys and girls were FLYING by me, so I again stayed as far to the right as possible to give them room to pass. I loved the fact that the whole lane was ours, no cars to contend with! I kept my speed to what felt comfortable for me, and when I hit the last little turn into Keene I almost wept for joy. I DID IT! I only needed to make it down that damn hill one more time, and I knew I could do it again. Turning onto 9N to Jay, I was feeling great. There was a little tail wind and I just got down into aero and cranked away. I was surprised to catch Shawn, who was still enjoying the rush of her bomb down the hill. She said “Have a good ride” as I passed, and I wished her the same!

From here through the hill toward Wilmington, I took in my carbo pro and water, trying to keep sipping every several minutes. By the time I hit the hill, it was getting pretty warm, and I took off the arm warmers. I reloaded my profile bottle with water at the turn to Haselton and looked forward to crossing the first timing mats at the turn around. BEEEEEEP is like a heavenly chorus. I thought of all my friends following along online, knowing they’d be waiting to “see” me hit another milestone. I loved that out and back for the chance to yell a quick hello to my friends and teammates! The next 20 miles were the tough ones: just enough flat sections to give you hope of covering the distance in a decent clip, but relentless hills that make you just groan in despair when you see that 8mph on your speedometer yet again.

I didn’t want to look at my watch until I finished the first loop. I didn’t want to know how slow I was going. I felt strong enough that I was certain I’d make the bike cut offs, but I didn’t want to know how close I would cut it. On the hills up toward Whiteface Mtn, some racer’s family had set up a tent on the left hand side of the road in front of their hotel. I figured it must be close to lunch because they were grilling what smelled like burgers. Damn, that’s not nice. Wouldn’t you know, their racer had pulled over and had lunch with them. He was just shoving the rest of his lunch in his mouth as he crossed the yellow lines to get back onto the course right in front of me. Uh, where are the course marshalls when you need them?! I so wanted to yell if they had enough burgers to feed all of us racers. Instead I just made it my mission to pass the guy and keep him behind me.

I can’t express how good it felt to finally see the painted cherries on the shoulder. I was almost back into town! While the Three Bears tend to get top billing as the worst of the hills in this race, I thought the hills leading up to the ski resort were much worse. It could just be that the crowd of people cheering helped propel me up those hills. I was almost to the top when I heard my name being shouted from behind me. It was Danielle and her daughter Lelia!!! Oh how I wanted to turn around and properly introduce myself (and maybe just SIT for a while). But then I was at the turn, looking forward to getting UP the bastard and then seeing my family. Then, more wonderful sherpas! Bryan was there clicking pictures—we high fived, for some much needed love, as I made it to the top. At that point my watch said 5:30 (total elapsed time from when the cannon went off). Quick math…it was 12:30pm and I was good!

Riding around the lake was so nice—sherpas galore! As I approached the special needs area I assessed my nutrition. One carbo pro bottle down, one to go. Swap those around so the full one is closer at hand. Water, ok. Grab more at the next aid station. Gu’s: three down, at least 4 still available. No need to stop! I just cruised through. Joe and Joey were there, I think I blew them a kiss. Heidi was down a ways at the TriZ tent. And the crowds through town were heaven—everyone yelling “go go go” and “great job.”

It was a little sad to leave them behind, but I was still feeling really good. I knew that would change as the hills wore me down, so I was anxious to get as far as I could before having it catch up to me. On the down hills, I worked harder to let it go and pick up more speed. I thought a lot of what Karen might say if she was riding next to me on those sections. On the flats I thought about how hard I had worked at Eagleman, and that day in Tucson when I had to stay on Jen’s wheel. On the hills I sang the “push and pull” mantra and thought of my climb up Mt Lemmon and Marit. Before long, I was again at the top of the long descent and it was time to go. After the race I checked my speedometer—top speed was 39.5mph and I think that was through the section of down hills along the lakes. The wind had picked up some, so I talked to myself a bit about how it was just a little breeze cooling me down, not monster gusts trying to knock me off my bike.

As I approached the last windy section, there were guys in the road yelling at racers to “STAY LEFT!” Up ahead some guy had crashed. He was on a stretcher and looked really banged up. Talk about sobering you right up! Ok then. I slowed down quite a bit, taking the last hills at a 20mph pace. I want to make it down in one piece. (After the race, I learned that he had crashed—more like flown right over his handle bars—going about 50mph right in front of Shelley. She and Cyndi both stopped to help him. Shelley is an ICU nurse and helped make sure his injuries weren’t life threatening.) I cried as I hit Keene. I was only 70 miles into the bike, but felt that my race was mostly won. Since May I had battled mentally with these hills, but I had done it and they were now behind me. Everything after this was gravy. I had a tail wind through Jay and Upper Jay and cranked along the next 10 miles going about 22mph.

It was about mid way through the flats through Jay that I really noticed the heat. I realized I needed to keep drinking more water since I aim to drink a full profile bottle an hour and had only refilled the bottle twice at this point. I started using whatever was left from the aid station bottle to pour over my head. I didn’t feel like I needed to pee until well into the second bike loop, but on that loop I went four times. I knew I’d need to drink at least 6 bottles of water—but I always forget that my bike times are over 7 hours. I hoped the electrolyte powder I added to my carbo pro bottles was enough, together with the added salt in the gu I took in. Two words: not enough. Not enough water, not enough electrolytes.

The out and back to Haselton wasn’t as much fun the second time. A girl I had been leapfrogging with all day finally passed me for good. She was a good sport and said, “Come on, Kate!” (she heard someone call my name up Papa Bear) “We’ve got a tail wind here. Catch me.” I just couldn’t. I tried to keep a positive attitude at this point, not letting the thought of the hills back into town get me down. I kept my pace on the uphills the same, getting up out of the saddle to make it up Mama and Papa Bears and the Bastard. Turns out my second loop was about 8 minutes slower than the first, which I had heard was a reasonable expectation even among the pros. Pulling into town was sheer bliss, even seeing so many guys hitting the turn around on their first loop of the run (and knowing I was that far behind them!) I was so glad to be off the bike, and practically threw it at the volunteer once across the timing mat. I am very proud of my bike split—it was a tough tough course, and I finished 112 miles in 7:38:44. My IMFL time was 7:13, so to be just 25 minutes slower on a much harder course I think was a testament to my general improvement in bike fitness. I also had moved up in rank in my age group: after the swim I was 84th out of 112. After the bike I was in 77th place. (That would change on the run!)

T2 wasn’t nearly as crowed as after the swim, but there was Cyndi! Deanna was heading out just as I walked in. I had a volunteer that tried to steer me to the porta johns, but I was having none of it. I just sat in the grass in the tent and peed! She was a little taken aback, but I think at the end of the day, nothing fazes those volunteers. She dumped out my bag, and again the first thing I did was read the note from my Maddy Moo. This time I remembered to put the note into a baggie with my Tylenol so I could take it with me. A quick change of shorts, shoes and socks and I was out the door. T2 time: 6:43, over 7 minutes faster than Florida!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lake Placid!

Tuesday afternoon, Joey and I started our journey north. The car was all packed up with race gear, suitcases, bikes, and a portable DVD player and movies. I was a little worried that since we weren't leaving town until 4pm that we would hit serious traffic around Baltimore. Luckily, the worst of the traffic cleared up and we flew up 95, making it into Lansdale, PA (outside Philly) in under 5 hours. We stayed with the Kraynaks, whom we had not seen in almost 3 years. It was nice to catch up with them and their growing family! Joey was able to get some good running around/play time with the boys on Wednesday morning. While it was very tempting to stick around and play all day, I was anxious to hit the road! Joey was such a trooper in the car, considering day 2 of the drive took over 6 hours. He only asked ONCE if we were there yet, and that was just a short 45 minutes outside of Placid.

I was releived to see that the worst portion of the descent into Keene had been repaved, and tried to point out landmarks to Joey as we pulled into town. I don't think he quite believed me when I told him that people on skis actually launch themselves off the jumps! We were both very happy to be done with the car ride, and were greeted at the house by Dr. Rick, Amy, and Lynn.

The house we are staying in was built in 1917 and recently completely remodeled. Joe and I have a bedroom with a sleeping porch just off it--Joey has slept out there several nights already. Every detail in the house is so well thought-out and executed. It is GORGEOUS!

Wednesday evening, a group of us met up for our first jog around the lake. It felt good to stretch the legs--Lynn kept up with the speed demons while I took my "leisurely 45 min run" workout to heart. While Joey explored the house's toys, the rest of us hit the grocery store and tried to buy them out of bananas. Soon after a good dinner of spaghetti/salad/bread, it was time to hit the sack.

Thursday morning, I was up with the smell of coffee (can I just say how wonderful it is to wake up to a full pot of freshly brewed coffee?!) and soon headed out with the Ricks for an early morning swim. The lake temperature is pretty nice--a refreshing 70 degrees--so it's warm enough that your hands and feet don't freeze, but cool enough that you don't work up a sweat. Just after we started our loop of the course, Karen, Shawn, and Shelley started their swim. Blake took this cool picture from the dock:

Later that morning, Karen, Shawn, Amy and I headed out on our bikes. We took the route out of town along the bike course--down those short, steep hills with sharp turns from transition. If I survive that, I'm doing pretty well! I had missed my chance to do the Keene descent with Bethany and Deanna since I swam early. Instead, the rest of us rode out the run route, then climbed the Cherries and Bears and Bastard back into town. By the time we were done and all cleaned up, it was time to hit the town for some lunch and a little souvenir shopping. Joey was all about the shopping, except when it was time to hit the expo and athlete check in. Apparently triathlon and Ironman stuff is not cool, but he did score a new hat that says "Support Crew" on the back.

That evening, Amy made a great dinner of steak and mashed potatoes, and after a quick visit with the folks from Mountain Ash, it was time for sleep! Friday morning was a little more of the same: morning swim, followed by a quick run around the lake. It was sunny and warmer, so Joey and I packed a picnic lunch and headed to the lake. It wasn't quite the relaxing interlude I was expecting--they were hosting the kid's fun run at the same time and it was packed with Ironman families. Maybe I'm biased, but in comparison to my pretty well-behaved kids, there are some real brats out there. (Little kids that just whine/cry at what they can't have or do, kids that kick and throw sand, kids that swim around growling saying they're an "ocean monstow".) So we ended up coming back to the house, and I had a much more pleasant nap on the sleeping porch!

Today it's time to pick up the husband at the airport, ride the descent into Keene (coach Karen insists I must do this), and then check in my transition bags and bike. I make dinner tonight--broiled salmon, brown rice, green beans. My friend Heidi will also get here around dinner!!! Yey!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

With less than 18 days to go...

This showed up in my email last night. I got all queasy reading through it. Can I really get through the first loop of the bike course by 1:30? The second by 5:30? The math in my head just isn't adding up to me making any of the cut offs. I better swim damn fast.

Thank you all for your encouraging words (yes, D, even yours helped!) I will show up for race day and give it the ol' college try. I think my mantra will be "Forward Progress." If I keep moving, I'm getting closer to the 140.6 mile marker. All I can do is give it my best, knowing that it will be a long day.

In the training I've been doing since getting home from Europe, I've been working hard on truly finding my groove on the downhills and I think I'm much improved over where I was just after Torturefest. My bike computer has said my maximum speed on my Blue Ridge ride last weekend was 35mph so I have gained speed somewhere. When not physically exhausted by jet lag, my climbing is good--I spin spin spin up the hills and have silly conversations with Marit in my head. (She tells me to "Push and Pull" and I ask her where the cupcakes and beer are.)

Now I'm off to ride my bike...paying the penance for not having biked enough in Europe!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A very overdue race report

Eagleman 2009...was supposed to be alot of things--a chance to set a killer pr, a chance to hang with Jen C and party, a chance to prove my new bike fitness. Well, I guess a 2 minute pr is still a pr, but not the 20-30 mins that I had hoped. And hanging with the Mashburns and RTC folks was good, but I missed hanging out for martini happy hour post race at the hotel with Jen. As for the bike fitness, I still suck at riding in a headwind.

This man probably thinks I'm stalking him: (me and Michael Lovato just before the pro start)

A quick picture with Jen H just before her start:

Swim: They changed the swim course since the boat ramp is under construction. But that was fine, since I only remember how stinky with boat fumes the chute was two years ago. Yuck. We started in the protected cove where ChesapeakeMan swim was. Yey! No current/chop and a great sight line. Then a turn, swim past the boat ramp, and a right turn back to shore where we started the race in 2007. My goal was to put my head down and swim--not dick around and chat with kayakers or other swimmers. For the first 1/2 mile, there was this chick in my AG who could not for the life of her swim straight. Someone should tell her coach and make her do lots of sighting drills. She swam zigzagging right in front of me, and kept cutting me off. Just think how much faster she'd be if she was swimming in a straight line. By the final turn, the fast men in the swim wave behind were passing us. Passing is a kind way to say they were basically swimming right over whoever was in their way. I guess if I was actually trying for a Kona slot I'd have to swim like that too. The water got more choppy at this point, but I kept my head down and made for the finish. My 2007 swim time was 42:21 mins. This year I swam it in 38:35 mins!

Again my goal in transitions was no dicking around. Get in get out. Shaved almost a minute off my time, even despite all the mud we had to run through. (4:21 in '07, 3:44 in '09)

The bike. I felt great. I had a good nutrition plan, and felt really strong. I made it through 40 miles of the bike in about 2:30, cruising along keeping a 19mph pace. I figured 16 miles, no problemo! Then the head wind. Shit. Whenever I caught up with anyone, or anyone passed me, we bitched about the wind. 2007 bike time 3:24:15, 2009 time 3:17:52. I did meet my goal to get in off the bike before Jen H finished her run. I passed her at about the 10 mile mark looking good.

T2, took time off from 2007. (4:11 in '07, 3:41 in '09) At this point I was down about 11:30 from my '07 time. I was hoping I could do at least as well on the run.

Run: The night before the race we had some loud thunderstorms go through, and the day of the race was overcast and quite cool. The sun came out on the run, and with a vengeance. I didn't feel like I needed to take in any salt on the bike since it wasn't hot--oops. I should've known that on a run with no shade like at Eagleman, any sun could really heat things up. I started out good--feeling like I had a steady, sustainable pace. At the first mile, Jen passed me on her way in. That girl was in the zone! She almost caught up with Jerome who was just a few hundred yards ahead. By the turn around at mile 7, things just started to hurt. I had been thinking that after IM training, a half would be a walk in the park. No. It all hurts. I had been running through all the water stops until this point, but then I had to walk them and find some salt. By the 10 mile point, I needed to be done and had to really push myself to not walk. That 11 minute cushion I had out of T2 was gone and my goal was just to get the darn thing done.

That finish line was bittersweet. Glad to have it done, time to go to Europe. Sad that it wasn't the race I thought I could do. Many times on that run I was questioning why I was signed up for something even more stupid. I could just go and spectate IMUSA and have a great time and not kill myself. There are lots of questions like this swirling around in my head. Maybe that's a blog post to come...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Up (Seeing, Grinding, and Driving)

For this past Friday's "Family Game and Movie Night" I took the kids to see "Up." Our new favorite joke is to yell "Squirrel!" when we want to distract someone. I might also seriously contemplate putting the kids in a "cone of shame" for punishment when they don't clean up their mess in the basement... After the kids went to bed, I stayed up chatting with Marit. Saturday was an early morning with another ride in the Blue Ridge on tap. Since my downhills are like her ocean swims--very fear inducing, but a necessary evil--it was nice to commisserate with her. We talked alot about our respective upcoming IMs, training, and vacations. I hope Marit someday considers coaching--for someone so young (just a few years older than my son) she knows just the right things to say that motivate, inspire, and make people believe that "YES, they can!" She lives that attitude and it really comes across. Thank you, Marit!

The following morning, we got Lynn, bike, and stuff loaded in the car and headed out by 6am. I ate all my various breakfasts, so I was well fueled for the bike ride. I was determined to work at those downhills, to not ride the brakes as much, and to just "let it go." We met up with our fellow crazy-IMPLers at the Reeds Gap exit off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just up the road from the Wintergreen resort. The weather was still cool, and quite foggy, but with the promise of blue skies and 80 degrees to come. Among this group, I am the least-strongest biker, and my current dislike of downhills contributed to my slowness. Yet something was working for me that day. I was cranking on the uphills, just relatively comfortably spinning in my lowest gear (if grinding away at 3,5, and 8 mile uphills can be comfortable), and then talking my way down going the other way. I feel like I've gotten my nutrition nailed--the combination of a heavy carbo-pro sippy bottle and gu--which takes so much guess work out of the ride. And I don't have to chew!

Most of the morning I didn't have much company, since the majority of the first 14 miles is downhill. I was the last to get to the turn around, but was able to keep up with Lynn and Shawn on the way back--managing to catch up to them on an uphill after a potty break. The next 10 miles were more grinding uphill. At one point Ed went screaming by in the other direction, probably pushing way over 50mph. Those next 10 miles back to our cars was another chance to try and let the bike have it's lead and pick up my average mph for the day. Another quick stop at the cars and it was time to head back to mile marker 0. That descent went much better than the first time, the sun had come out, there was some breeze so I was mentally talking myself through that, and trying to keep up with Lynn and Shawn (to no avail). After tinkling in the bushes at the major intersection, it was time for the last uphill grind of the day.

So, miles 1-3 weren't so bad. Then comes a little reprieve around the visitor's center where you can catch a little downhill. I gave the 4 foot long black snake in the road a wide berth. Miles 4-5 are nice and shady. Then Mile 6 hits you. Crap 8 more to go. Grind grind grind. Where is mile 7? 8? By mile marker 9 I am grumbling to myself (since I'm all alone)...this really sucks...Placid isn't this hard...can I go downhill now? I won't complain, I promise... Finally you get to mile marker 9, but then it's ALL uphill with no rest until mile 11. Just please, Lord, get me to mile 11. From mile 11 to 14 you don't have to pedal at all. Just coast, catch a nice breeze, and hold on till the end. I did manage to snap a few pictures on the way--of myself, of the deer at mile 8, and the view. Very nice, now get me off this damn bike. Where's my cupcake and beer?

I did it. I was very proud of how hard I worked on the uphills. But I was toast. Lynn and Shawn came in just a few minutes behind me and headed out for their transition run. We had an impromptu picnic by the cars, congratulated fellow IMLPers Tyler and Greg on their impressive 100 miler (who were headed UP to the top of Wintergreen, OUCH!), and cheered on Mark, Karen, and Rick as they tackled the 644 hill up to Reeds Gap (a NASTY 15% grade). Karen, Shawn, Lynn and I had a most satisfying lunch at the bbq/sandwich place in the valley before heading home.

The weekend wasn't over yet. Sunday, Joe joined me for a rare run sans ipod! It actually felt pretty good to run, and we made it out early enough to beat the worst of the heat. A quick packing of the car with overnight bags and dog, and we were off on our drive up to Gettysburg. Joe got a bugaboo about taking the kids up there. Maddy had learned about the Civil War in her Social Studies class, and they were all done with their benchmark testing at school, so it seemed like a good time to go. We hit some weekend traffic, and ended up pulling into our hotel close to 5pm. We left Sophie to get acquainted with the down comforters on our beds, and headed into town to explore and find dinner. The tavern we ate in is the oldest building in town, which was fun, and the kids enjoyed the miliary collectibles shop. We headed back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool before bed.

The next day started with a great diner breakfast, the new museum, gift shop and cyclorama. Then we started our walking/driving tour of the battlefields and monuments. I should've looked up family names from Michigan to see if there were any listed among the dead. I'm pretty sure my father's family came to the US after the Civil War.

Soon it was time to head home, and begin the taper! Kids are out of school this friday, I have Eagleman on Sunday, and we leave for Europe on Monday. It will be a busy week.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I've been having a hard time figuring out what to say about Torturefest, our training camp up in Lake Placid. It was a good experience--getting to know the course, and the hills. It was a bad experience--my total freak out on a descent in bad weather has robbed me of my confidence. What do those two things total when combined? No idea. So let's just recap the weekend here and see what happens.

Lynn and I drove up with Bart and Bethany, overnighting in Scranton PA. I don't think I've ever seen fog as thick, and driving through the hills/mountains of central PA at midnight was scary. The following morning was much better weather wise, and we made it into Placid close to 2pm. The first order of business was a bike ride! I think we were all happy to stretch our legs and preview the run course. Down down down out of town, past the ski jumps, and a left onto River Road to follow the river. I was thinking it wasn't so bad...up to the part where we had to climb those hills back into town. Coach Karen made sure we got to know those hills very well while we were there!

Our first dinner in town was good--and we got to help Bethany celebrate her birthday with yummy carrot cake. That was a pretty early night since we had a monster bike the following day. 2 loops of the bike course, minus the out and back section on Haselton Road. Karen let me try Carbo Pro for the first time, so I mixed up two heavy bottles (one for each loop) with about 900 calories per bottle. I planned on supplementing that with a couple of Gu's too. Kim was our SAG wagon sherpa extraordinaire and met us at multiple points along the way to refill bottles, collect and disperse clothing, and take pictures. We all loaded up our bottles and bikes, and headed out of town. There were quite a few other groups out, training and doing the same thing, and some were nicer than others. The hills just out of town didn't seem too horrible on the first loop, and soon we hit the big 9 mile descent into Keene.

Last year the Ironman website touted the bike course as having "impeccably smooth roads." Maybe this past winter was a bad one, because those first downhills were BUMPY. Here you are, screaming down the hill at over 30mph on unfamiliar roads, trying to dodge both traffic and bumps. I just kept singing "la la la la la" to myself as I alternated squeezing my breaks. There are some pretty steep sections, where it seemed that no amount of braking really slowed me down, and then comes the really curvy 2 miles just before Keene. Traffic on the opposite side has two lanes, but we were sharing one with trucks and cars. Whew. I made it down, and rendezvous'ed with the rest of the gang at the van. Not the most fun I've had on a downhill, but manageable. The next 10 miles made it all worthwhile though--rolling along at a good clip through Jay and Upper Jay with beautiful river views, smooth roads, and wide shoulders. Then came the bitch hill--a 3 mile climb up and over into Wilmington. Very much like Mt Lemmon--just put it in your easy gear and spin spin spin. The road here is narrow, with one lane in each direction, but traffic wasn't bad and drivers seemed used to bikers and gave us a wide berth.

After Wilmington, you turn uphill again to head back into Placid. The course rolls, with some small chainring climbs mixed in with some flatter sections where you can pick up your speed a little more. Twice we went past some waterfalls, and then caught up with a section of river. Right about then it started to rain. Yuck. All along the river there were fly fishermen, looking at us like we were weirdos for being out there. I kind of liked this part of the course--there were beautiful views, cool forests, and challenging climbs. Then came the Cherries, which lead to the Three Bears, just before coming back into Placid. They weren't all THAT bad, but then I was expecting a little break to cruise into town. Not. Another hill, harder it seemed than Papa Bear. Ouch. We pulled into our makeshift rest stop behind the van just alongside Mirror Lake, where the special needs bags will be, and it starts pouring rain and the winds picked up. Karen and Bethany pulled out for loop #2 first. Lynn, Shawn, Deanna and I put another layer back on and waited a little while for the weather to let up. I think we were all thinking how FUN this next part would be....

Through town, down the hill, and then back up it wasn't bad. We passed a group on the uphill climb that seemed to be poking along and then came the descent. I was in the lead, and started the bomb. With the rain and wind, I stayed pretty far out into the road, and got screamed at by Shawn as she passed me. I couldn't stay any farther to the right, since seeing the road for all the rain was hard, and the wind was really blowing me to the left. Just past the two lakes I was able to move over, but then trucks were going past and the wind started gusting. At some point, it seemed that I couldn't slow down at all, and I was having a hard time controlling my bike. I was fighting wind gusts, and my front tire seemed to be jumping all over the place. I almost crashed, and kept thinking that I didn't want to end up splattered all over the road. I was finally able to come to a complete stop, just 3 miles outside Keene. I was shaking and so scared, and wasn't sure if I wanted to finish the second loop. Lynn had been behind me the whole time, thank God, and stopped to and just hugged me, telling me I was safe. After a few minutes, she talked me into trying to make it the rest of the way (we didn't have any cell phone coverage) but I didn't make it far before giving up and wanting the SAG wagon. Lynn took off to find Kim in Keene and not a minute after she left it started to pour rain again. At that point though, Deanna and Scott pulled up in their car. Having only done one loop of the course, they were headed down for coffee in Keene and to act as another SAG. We passed Lynn on that curvy part, and quickly stopped to ask if she wanted a ride. Unlike me, she had worn her big girl pants, and was determined to make it all the way down.

Once at the van in Keene, we all agreed that was the scariest damn thing we'd ever experienced on a bike. I don't know if I was actually cold or coming down from the adrenaline, but I was still shaky. At this point, I knew I needed to get back on the bike and finish the loop. My confidence was totally shot and I doubted that I had any strength to deal with anything resembling a downhill. I thought alot about my friends from the Florida and Tucson camps, and what they would advise me to do. "HTFU and get back on the bike," is what they'd say. So I did. I didn't like it, and it took me all of the rest of the ride to feel any semblance of control. In the end, I'm glad I did. Death before DNF. When it was over, we did a 20 minute T run down the hill into town and back. Ouch.

That afternoon, many lucky housemates had massages. I think I took a nap. Then we ate a great steak dinner, played some cards, and ATE CUPCAKES! Yum. We all then fell into bed before 10pm. On tap the following day: a 16 mile run. Around the lake, down the hill, and out the run course to the turn around and back. The first 5 miles were tough, and I just felt slow, tired, and sluggish. (Could've been the almost 90 mile ride we did the day before...) Then we caught our groove, aided by Kim at strategic stops with water and gu. The run course is just as beautiful as the bike, winding along a river with the sound of babbling brook for company. Before I knew it, we were back at the ski jumps getting ready to climb the two hills back into town. Lynn is always good about pushing at the end, finishing strong. She ran all the way up with Bethany and me struggling behind until we reached the lake. Finally we were done! We stripped off our shoes and socks and waded into the water. Cold has never felt so good. Walkers, bikers, and runners went past yelling that we were crazy. But man, did that feel good. Another dinner out at the Mirror Lake Inn, in which many bottles of wine were consumed, and early bedtime.

Our third day there was another bike day. This time just one loop of the entire course. The weather was cold, but good--no rain and not much wind. I was still pretty nervous, and Karen took off with me 10 minutes ahead of the rest of the group to help talk me down the hill. All the way there I was going through mental negotiations with myself, telling myself that I had done Mt Lemmon and quite a few Blue Ridge rides, this shouldn't be any different. Karen stayed at my side pretty much the whole way, counseling me to "let it go," or "pedal through this part." We had a headwind, which really helped slow me down, but I still rode the brakes quite a bit and at the last steep, curvy part into Keene, slowed myself to about 17-18mph. Embarrassingly slow. Don't do this during IM or you'll miss the bike cut off slow. But I made it down the hill, without a major freak out or peeing my pants. Everything after that was gravy--I could relax knowing the hard part was over. On the downside of the hill into Wilmington, I used my new "free speed" mantra, interspersed with some "let it go's" and "breathe." Karen and I hit the turnoff to Haselton and I knew I was home free.

The rest of the ride went well. Karen left me to ride with Deanna, so I finished the last 12 miles through Wilmington and back up into Placid by myself. I was glad for it--the time alone with my own head was good, and I felt strong going up the Three Bears. At this point I was trying to visualize what it would be like on race day, for both the first and second loops. How will it feel with people at the top of that hill, knowing I am either heading back out for another loop, or coming in to start the run. I think either way it'll be good--being that much closer to finishing, knowing I can catch sight of my family, and hopefully be that much closer to becoming an ironman again. Yet one more T run off the bike, down and back up the damned hill in town and it was time for a massage!

I helped Bethany make dinner that evening, and then we piled in the cars to go swim. We were all butt tired and just a little whiney. We tried to figure out how to bag the swim, but the pool was reserved, and Karen had stuck around that evening to coach us. Very reluctantly we all got in the pool (which felt cold) and started our warm up set. The pool didn't have their lane lines up, making for some pretty choppy water. After about 800 yds, Karen had us all circle swim around the pool, first clock wise and then counter clock wise. Queasy. A final 500 yds and we all threw in the towel. Pop goes the timer, we are DONE.

The next morning was yet another run, this time just 45 minutes. Again we went down the hill through town, and turned around just shy of the horse show area. Bethany and Deanna started complaining that I had picked up the pace, but I knew this was it for workouts for the weekend, and I wanted to be finished for good. I don't know where I found it, but I had the strength to run up the hills, past the oval circle, and all the way back to the house. Man, it felt good to be done! On tap for the afternoon was shopping, lunch, some packing, and dinner. I was ready to head home and see the family, and have at least one or two days off completely. Lynn had flown to a conference a few days earlier, so Deanna joined Bart and Bethany and me for the ride home. We took a different route home, stopping for lunch in Bucks County, PA. We hit some traffic around Baltimore, but otherwise had a pretty good run back.

I had been scheduled that weekend to do a hilly olympic distance race in Columbia, MD. I am so glad I opted instead for the torture of Placid. Getting to ride the course, even in the bad weather, is good prep for whatever race day holds in store for us. I pray, of course, that it is not raining and blustery on July 26th. I have been working to regain my confidence on the downhills, and every ride out into Goochland that we do, I try to "let it go" just a little more each time. This weekend and next we're back in the Blue Ridge. Practice makes perfect right? And when all else fails, I try to remember "free speed" is what will get me to that finish line.