Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 winds down...the "hits' list

New Year's Eve is here. Finally.

We are still experiencing very weird weather -- temps in the high 30's or low 40's, rain -- not snow, even our lawn is starting to green up. This can't be good...

Stepson is here until about 2:00. Then he is off to work so Hubby and I will figure out what we are going to do tonight. His sister is having a poker party -- but they live a long way from our house and driving back with all the lunatics is not exactly my idea of fun.

We may just stay home, which I am fine with too.

I'm looking forward to 2007 but have to say that I've had a pretty good 2006.

Here is my list of 2006 highlights:

1) Our Trip to Europe. Hubby and I both agree that our trip was definitely the highlight of the year. Although we can't pick a favorite place or event or meal of the trip, the whole package was truly wonderful.

2) My finishing the Lifetime Fitness Oly distance Tri: Oh, and that 1st place trophy for Athena's 40+. May I remind myself that there was only one person in my heat (me), but hardware none the less. I signed up for the event again for 2007 and my goal is to have a better race time. This means finishing the swim much less time. I've signed up for another swim package with my swim coach and renewed my membership with the MN Tri Club. I need to focus more on those open water swims and biking.

3) Training for Twin Cities Marathon with Marcia, Mary and Cheryl: Notice I said TRAINING and not the race. The race was pretty good, although certainly not my best marathon. Training with these women was fun and inspiring. We had a lot of laughs inbetween a lot of miles.

4) Making contributions: I feel very good about the fact that I'm in a position to make contributions of money to causes I believe in, or time (to coach new runners or to stomp for a political candidate I believe in), or both. It really is true that you get back much more than what you actually give.

5) Living a sane life: If I wasn't sober, none of my life would be like this. I'm grateful every day for being able to experience life as a sane, sober person.

Other highlights include playing on our weekly golf league; enjoying lots of easy time off and spending it at home; enjoying the company of my friends; renewing some friendships that had fallen away; and most of all, spending time with Hubby.

Monday, December 25, 2006

ho ho ho

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

We had a nice, slightly chaotic holiday. Step-kids were over yesterday and so were my in-laws, Hubby's twin sister and daughter. We had a lovely mid-day meal sprinkled with a little holiday drama (caused by me and my big mouth).

All calmed down (eventually) and every one ended up going to Midnight Mass at the in-laws parish. It was a lovely setting: candle lit sanctuary; wonderful music; very peaceful.

The service was the service -- Catholic -- so there was some chanting, standing, kneeling and crossing (the last of those two were done by the believers. I pretty much sat and observed during that part).

It was very nice to share that with Hubby and his family -- and I was glad we could all participate together.

Today, Step-kids went back to their mom's house....(always sad to see them go). Hubby and I went to his OTHER sister's house for the rest of the day. Ate as if it were going out of style; played some games; talked and basically just hung out.

It was a great day.

I hope you and yours were also able to celebrate however you felt fit today.

Here is to a joyous, healthy, fun, PEACEFUL 2007.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finally --- snow!

It is December 21st (happy birthday today to both my father and my younger sister) and we are FINALLY getting a bit of snow.

Although it has been nice to not worry about ice and slipping and trudging through the wet stuff, a little snow this time of year is actually quite nice.

We aren't getting socked in like Denver, but it's anticipated that we'll have 1 - 5 inches by the end of tomorrow.

The not-so-fun part of this is that, although I'm off of work tomorrow, I have to drive about 20 miles from our house to my sister's in the morning to pick up her dog, who is at the kennel.

My sister, a rabid Green Bay packer fan, is in Wisconsin today with her husband and a bunch of their football friends. They will be attending tonight's game -- which is the big game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Packers.

I pick up Fletcher (the dog, my "nephew") for her before the kennel closes tomorrow for the holiday.

I'm happy to pick him up -- I'm unhappy about driving through the messy snow in my little Jetta. I'll also have to make an appearance at work so I can pick up my camera. I forgot it when I left today and want it over the holiday to capture lovely snow photos and incriminating family holiday photos.

I got the holiday cards out (yea!); we have our tree up (yea!) and I'm slowly coming out of my funk. (Yea).

The picture above was taken at the lot near our house where we've gotten a tree the past few years. The tree you see in the shot was literally the last one on the lot. It is in our living room now.

This picture is one of Hubby and StepSon walking the tree home. I'm including it because I think the photo is nice and also as "revenge" on StepSon, who has been so 'cooperative' about having his photo taken these last few years. Welcome to the Web, my boy!

After I post this blog, I'm going to sign up for some running and tri events for 2007. That will also help me move forward.
That's it for now....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Week Bites the Dust

I've been so cheerie lately.

Not really.

Still sitting in my funk, but am hopefully close to turning a corner. December 21st is coming up and with the solstice, the days will start to get longer.

First by nano-seconds, I understand this, but longer none-the-less. My mood really is impacted heavily by the amount of sunlight hours. I have very little motivation once the sun goes down.

Hubby and I have tried to get to the gym twice a week but we have a difference of opinion about when to go. I like to go right after work -- energy is still there, then I can get home after a work out and just relax. He likes to come home, have some thing to eat and then think about going. More often than not, when we do it his way, we don't go.

This week however, I did get a number of workouts in:

I ran with a couple of girlfriends last Saturday -- just under 5 miles. I didn't run well, but did get in the miles.

Sunday, I had a swim lesson with Dave. He was not as brutally critical of me as I thought he'd be. He videotaped me and I looked okay in the water. Much better than when I started lessons with him. My biggest visible problem happens when I turn my head to breathe if I lift my head back instead of just turning it to the side. Lifting causes my hip to open up too, which throws my glide off..

I swam again on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, Hubby and I did make it to the gym for a light workout.

Eating this week has been not so good, however. I don't seem to have much self control or ability to "just say no". My health club has a weight loss program that starts in February and I am seriously considering joining the three-month program.

We get our Christmas tree tomorrow...Hanukkah started tonight and I light the menorah. (I converted to Judaism many years ago, but really don't adhere to any religion any more. I like certain traditions of all religions -- but would not classify myself as a member of any religion at this point).

Our holiday will be very, very light. No presents between Hubby and me; very little for the kids or for family. No one really needs or wants any thing. (Which, I think, is a very lucky position to be in).

I'm in the process of figuring out which organizations that I'll send my end-of-the-year contributions to. Again, I'm thankful that I'm in a position where I can make some contributions to causes and groups that I believe in...

I'll get a few workouts in over the weekend; hopefully get our holiday cards made and out the door and relax a bit.

Ho ho ho ---

Friday, December 8, 2006


It's official!

I'm in a funk!

The weather is cold; work is uninspiring; I'm not training for any specific event (and if I was, I'm not sure I'm mentally in the game right now). Frankly, the holidays are a tough time of year for me in general, so I'm dealing with that right now.

I'm looking for some ways out of this -- I will probably just have to ride it out a bit.

I know that I have lots to be grateful for -- I'll try concentrating on being grateful for the next couple of days and report back.

For now: blah.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Deep Freeze

All I can say is BRRRR.

We've had a blast of very cold air move in to Minnesota over the last few days. Sort of a slap in the face from Old Man Winter.

That being said, we here in Minneapolis have been very lucky compared to other Midwest locations which were recently pounded by a huge winter storm that dumped a ton of snow along with the cold. I heard on the news that about 198,000 people in Illinois are still without power.

At least we have electricity and heat.

Yesterday was the Reindeer Run 5K -- this annual event is another of those "holiday biggies" that attract a few thousand runners -- including lots of families and folks that don't usually run the lakes on a Saturday morning.

I love running this race because "Santa" and "Rudolph" are there and lots of people dress up in costumes. I saw someone dressed as a tree running with two people dressed as presents; a few ornaments, lots of reindeer, a couple of elves that were dressed like the ones in the animated version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer... etc. All very cute.

I was supposed to catch up with other runners from my club, including my good running friends from Marathon days. By the time I got down to the lake though, the line to enter the tent to pick up race numbers for PRE-REGISTERED runners was huge.

This is pretty unusual. At most races, when you are pre-registered, the lines move along very quickly and orderly. Not here. Took me about 10 minutes to get half-way up the line when a volunteer announced that the lines should split, with half going around to the other side of the tent. I scooted over to the other side and got my number pretty easily but had no time to find anyone.

I ran the race but could really feel the fact that I have not been very active lately. I moved slowly, the cold air really cut down on my ability to breath correctly. (My asthma is much, much worse in the winter than the summer). Hills were hard for me to complete and feel strong. I was about 40 seconds slower finishing this race than I was the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. The really bad news is that this slow finish puts me in time range of races I ran when I was just starting out in 1999.

That put a little damper on my ho-ho-ho.

I know that it is normal to pull back on my fitness level after marathon training season is over AND I've been enjoying the pre-holiday eating season just a little too much, so both of those elements will add up to slower times and tighter pants.

I've also read that most runners will improve for about 10 years after they start running...and that runners, as they get older, start to slow down. This would mean a double whammy for me, moving in to my 8th year running and rocketing in to solid middle age.

I left the race resolved to really think about how I train and figuring out ways to train smarter and harder on multiple levels for 2007.

This would mean really looking at how and what I eat and being accountable in a real way, not the "gee I wish" way. It means getting up early to get miles in or yards in or spins on the cycle. It means finding some people that run a hair or two faster than I do to train with to try to improve my speed.

I also need to determine which events to do next year -- and what distances. A few tris have 1/2 price entry fees if you register before December 31st, including a 1/2 Iron distance I'm considering. (GULP -- 1/2 IRON!)

I also bit the bullet and signed up for a swim lesson, which is scheduled for later this week. Although I've been swimming, I'm sure that my coach will be very disappointed in me when I see him.

Enough complaining for now. I'm going to go get under a few blankets, drink some hot tea and dream of the summer.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Overload

Happy Day after Thanksgiving!

Again, too much time in between posts -- what can I say. Hubby and I have been working like crazy lately. I've been going in to work early (like 6:00 am or 6:30 am) and we've both been staying late (like 6:30 pm or 7:00 pm). A lot of projects to try to wrap up before the end of the year.

Turns out that, despite our great two-week trip to Europe, we both have a bunch of vacation days to use up before the end of the year. (At our company, we are allotted "x" number of Paid Time Off (PTO) days. We can carry over 5 days to a new year, but have to "use or lose" the other days). I've scheduled some days off between now and December 31st, but still have six unscheduled days to play with. Hubby has about the same. We are trying to figure out what to do -- since those project deadlines don't go away and we don't want to sacrifice our time off. I'll probably end up taking some time off and still logging in to work during part of my days off. That seems like the only realistic compromise.

It was a really nice holiday this year. Started out the day running the annual Turkey Trot 5K with 7,500 other of my close personal friends.

Actually, I ran with my marathon friends, who I have not seen since October 1st! The event was very fun, even if I was slow as molasses. It was great to see my friends and catch up a bit. Plus, the race gave away a great shirt this year, which is always a plus.

For Meal Number One: We spent part of the day with Hubby's parents, siblings, niece and nephews. (Hubby's kids spend Thanksgiving with their mom -- we spend the Easter holiday with them. Seems reasonable, except that every year, the kids forget to call their dad, which ticks me off to no end. (Hubby and ex-Mrs. Hubby don't get along very well and if he calls their house, it is always very uncomfortable....One of the kids text-messaged his sister (their aunt). We had her text back a message "Call Santa at this number". THEN Hubby got the finally got the call. I love those kids to death, but sometimes am just mystified about how forgetful they can be when it comes to their dad - my Hubby...)

I digress: After spending part of the day with Hubby's family, we went over to my sister and brother-in-laws and had MEAL NUMBER TWO. We planned to spend the night there, and Hubby's sister came over too. After dinner, we watched some movies, played poker and sat outside by a fire.

Yes, SAT OUTSIDE! The weather in Minnesota has been great this last week -- highs for the past four days in the mid-fifties.

It was soooo nice, that Hubby and I got out and played four holes of golf at the course near my sister's house. The course is officially closed, so no one was out there but us. We got to take multiple shots, practicing chipping, teeing and approach shots. Who would have thought it possible to golf in Minnesota the last week of November.

The other last holiday note: I actually participated in the craziness of Black Friday today with my sister-in-law. She makes it a tradition to hit the stores before the crack of dawn to take advantage of those early bird specials and discounts that kick off the holiday buying season. I've never done this before, so I told her I'd join her.

We left my sister's at 4:50 am and went to Best Buy. Parking lots every where were jammed. The store was packed with hundreds of crazy shoppers. I just stayed out of the way, while my sister-in-law went to find her purchases. Once she was ready, we got in line to check out. We were in line for 50 minutes! The line snaked through the store before we made our way to the registers. I could not belief it.

I'm glad I went along to experience it, but don't think I'll be doing it again any time too soon. At my age, I think I may need the beauty sleep more than the DVDs for $2.99

Saturday, November 4, 2006


I had to attend a Coaches meeting this morning for running club I belong to. It was held at a club that I don't normally get to -- lovely club with great amenities, but far from downtown and difficult, with horrid rush-hour traffic, to get to.

The meeting was supposed to be from 8:00 am until 11:00 am and I thought, since I was already there, it would be great incentive for me to workout after the meeting.

I packed my bag with my swimming gear and some indoor workout gear, as I wasn't so sure what I would want to do for the workout.

I got to the club at 8:00 am on the dot and the lobby was filled with Running Coaches AND runners. Apparently, there was an additional email sent out that told us to plan for an outdoor run before the meeting. I did not receive that one.

No bother -- that little snafu gave me an hour and fifteen minutes where I could workout before the official meeting.

I looked around the club and found their pool -- 25 yard/meters, warm air in the pool house and warm water in the pool so I decided to swim. (This time of year, I dread finding pools that are surrounded by glass walls, especially when the glass is between the pool area and the great outdoors. Glass is not such a great insulator, as you all must know, so the air temp in those pool rooms can be quite chilly).

I had a pretty good swim -- did 1000 yards. I concentrated on staying on my sides, reaching on the rails, bringing only half of my head out of the water and looking to the side (as opposed to behind me) when I would come up for a breath.

The water felt really good.

I have lost some of my summer endurance -- but would expect that as swimming really took a back seat after the St. Croix Valley tri last September. Fortunately, I think I'll be able to get that endurance back pretty quickly.

I was none too happy about what my reflection looked like in the mirrors of the locker room however. The harsh reality of looking at myself from ALL angles -- not just seeing the front of me from the waist up -- was pretty brutal.

It did help me with some resolve to change what I'm seeing, however.

After the meeting, I stopped at Costco and at the regular grocer to pick up lots of fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats and bubbly water. I did not walk out of either store with any M & Ms....(we do still have some leftover Halloween candy, however).

At a minimum, I can't say that I'm stuck eating heavier (or "easier" foods, like Chinese) because there is nothing in the house.

We are supposed to have a pretty mild day tomorrow. My plan is to get out for a run.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Helllllloooooo Winter!

What the heck happened to autumn?

About a minute ago, it was Twin Cities Marathon (October 1st). About 30 seconds ago, we left for our trip to Europe. About five seconds ago (aka "last Sunday"), it was a lovely warm day in the 60's. Hubby and I went spent the afternoon on the golf course, getting in one more round for the season. I am happy to report that I legitimately had a lower score than Hubby did for the round too!

Now, it is freezing cold (highs only in the 30's), it is dark at 5:00 pm (damn that Standard Time thing), and I'm ready to settle down for a long winter's nap.

Sigh. Looks like winter will be a long one.

Hubby and I have been getting to the gym a bit. Feels good to be getting back in to a routine there. I had one sugar-free day before the deluge of pre-Halloween, then Halloween and now post-Halloween candy set in. I've run a couple of times and even been in the pool a couple times. All of it feels good to do -- just may be not quite enough of it on a regular basis.

I'm starting to think of what events to do for 2007. I've signed up for the indoor triathlon (Tri-U-Mah) again, which will happen in February. I'd like to do LifeTime Triathlon -- Olympic distance again. I'd also like to try a couple other Oly distances and I'm flirting with doing a 1/2 Ironman distance.

There aren't enough race dates posted on any internet sites yet to help me make up my mind. The timing on a 1/2 Iron would be crucial. I don't want to do one too early in the season that the water will be cold (even if I can wear a wetsuit). The LifeTime date in July has proved to be the hottest day of the summer the past two summers, but if I could find a 1/2 Iron in late July or early August, that might be ideal.

I'm not sure I'll do another marathon next year, although it will be the 30th anniversary for Chicago Marathon. That has some appeal. I would like to do several 1/2 marathons -- Grandma's and Urban Wildland again -- then who knows!

Other semi-interesting news to report:

We've had a pair of plastic pink flamingos in our front yard ever since we moved in to the house four years ago. Hubby gave them to me as a house warming present. I went to the University of Wisconsin -- Madison during the years of the "Pail and Shovel" student political party. The two fellows running for student office made lots of promises, like raising the prestige of Madison to that of other east coast universities; promising a rebate for our high (!) tuitions (of like $400 per SEMESTER if you were a Wisconsin resident, etc.).

These guys were great fun. (Google "Pail and Shovel party" and you'll find a number of web-sites and info regarding the party and its accomplishments such as erecting a huge replica of the head and arm of the Statue of Liberty on a frozen Lake Mendota, ensuring our position on the same level as those elite east coast schools, Or, the 1008 pink flamingos they scattered around on Bascom Hill one fine spring morning.

Because of them, pink flamingos and I have a sentimental connection and Hubby gave me my very own pair to commemorate our moving in to the house. They have been in the front yard, just sort of minding their own business, ever since. The only change for them was in the spring and fall, when I put on or took off their little "sweaters" -- Ralph Lauren socks with the toes cut out so they could get the "sweaters" over their heads.

Last Saturday, I read that the company in Florida that manufactured these creatures for the past 49 years is no longer producing them. I thought to myself that I might want to put the guys (who were in their sweaters by now) in the backyard, lest any person wanting to snatch the icons from our yard. Then I thought "No, we live in a nice neighborhood and no one would do that.".


I got home from work on Monday afternoon to find only one flamingo in the yard. The other one? 'Poof'. Gone.

Perhaps migrated south; perhaps "adopted' by a new owner. Perhaps on one of those 'fun' mysterious vacations where the person(s) who took it will supply me with lots of cool photos, showing me a happy flamingo at the top of the Empire State Building, or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or getting a hug from Mickey Mouse...Perhaps just stolen.

In any event, I'm kind of sad about it and now the remaining, lone flamingo is in our BACK yard, where hopefully it will make friends with the bunny that hangs out there.

The only other interesting news to post is also political news. We are less than a week away from mid-term elections and I'm hoping for a Democratic sweep of seats for both the House and the Senate, along with the governor's office here in Minnesota.

Unlike the Pail and Shovel party at Madison, the current party in the big white house are not quite as "fun" fellows. They are very good at shoveling out quite a bit of "s*#@" but nothing quite as fun as pink flamingos. Not that I think that job should be all "fun".

But -- if I am to believe the citizens of this country find that the biggest pressing issue out there for us as a country to worry about is gay marriage, then it really will be a long, long winter.

Iraq; North Korea; Iran; stabilizing our relationships overseas; bringing our men and women in uniform home; medical care and costs; education; social security; women's productive rights; keeping a true separation of Church and State; creating real jobs paying real wages -- THOSE are issues we should be paying attention to.

I don't care who gets married or why they get married. If two people of the same sex want to have a legally binding commitment to their relationship -- so be it. It in no way cheapens my marriage or any one else's.

I guess my last comment on this subject tonight is a simple one: get out there and VOTE next week.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back At It....

Well, we made it back, safe and sound, from our European trip. The shot to the left is Hubby and me in Italy. The cathedral dome in the background is not the Duomo, but rather it is part of Spirto Santo, the church that was near our apartment in Florence.

I'm still basking in the "after vacation glow", but Hubby unfortunately got back in to the "grind of work" mindset pretty quickly. It is Sunday and he actually had to go in to work today to try to unravel an emergency situation. Bleah.

I finally got my tush in to the pool on Friday and swam 500 yards. A mere portion of my summer workouts, but you have to start some where. Felt very good to be back in the water.

Yesterday I met Dori for a run -- my first since the marathon. She is getting ready to run the Big Sur 1/2 marathon a week from today and wanted to do 10 miles. I told her I'd give it my best and tagged along with her. I made the whole 10 miles but only because Dori was there with me pulling me along. It was great being out on the trails again and running with a good friend.

This week my plan is to get back in to the swing of things again with eating better and getting back in to a workout routine. I'm not in training-mode right now. The only things planned for the rest of the year are a few 5Ks, but I would like to use this time to try to get back in to lifting weights, yoga, swimming, spinning and running. Hubby is committed to working out twice a week, so hopefully we'll be able to get fit together.

I'm attempting to post a few photos from our trip. We have a new MAC and the routine to post things is a little different from doing it with a PC.

This shot is of one of the canals in Amsterdam. We loved just wandering the streets along the canals watching the water, checking out the houses, bicycles and people.

This shot above is the outside of a wonder fruit and vegetable market near our apartment in Paris. The food is set up "just so". When we took some clementines from the bin, the shopkeeper scolded us: "No! We get them for you so as to not upset the display. It is all about the presentation!"

Bern, Switzerland got its name because when it was founded in 1191, there were lots of bears living near the territory. (Bern means bear). Nowadays, the bears are out of the city, but you can go feed them at the bearpits. We didn't have a chance to do that, but did find many statues of bears in a park near the river. Here is me hugging one of them. (You know me, always a friend to the animals).

Now that I've got this "photo posting" thing down, watch for more photos to come!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fini -- (almost)

We are back in Amsterdam, spending our last night at a really lovely small hotel called The Bridge. The hotel overlooks the Amstel River and our room faces the river. Very nice people, very cute room and reception and free candy in the candy jar. Who can beat that???

We left Florence last night after spending most of the day with my brother, sister-in-law and niece. We had one last meal together and then sat at the palazzo Publico watching the world go by. One last quick stop for some fun gifts and mementos and then my brother walked with us over to the train station so we could start the journey back.

We went from Florence to Milan, arriving at 10:00 pm. The train station is sort of dumpy and the neighborhood a bit questionable. However, we did find a grocery store for some water and a little pizza place near the station. We ordered a pizza and ate it at the station, while we waited for the overnight train back to Paris.

The train car that we were in lost electricity (!) in the cabins after we got underway. No big problem, since we were supposed to be sleeping -- but Hubby and I opened up the shade and watched the Italian country-side go by). Getting dressed in the morning in the dark (before sunrise) was somewhat more challenging, but we managed.

One last pain du chocolat (yummy) and then on to the train to go back to Amsterdam. We arrived at the hotel, freshened up and then took a very long walk around the city. We both really like Amsterdam. We figured that it must have some thing to do with all the canals and being near water.

On the way to dinner, we found a really cute little bistro and there was a CAT sitting on the floor near the entrance. I've seen a ton of dogs over here, but very few cats (inside windows or out on the streets). This cat was very friendly and I finally got a little bit of a "kitty fix" by petting its head and rubbing its ears.

We finally found a restaurant for us to share our last meal here and are now wrapping every thing up so we can have a smooth travel day tomorrow.

Hard to believe that after about 12-hours of travel tomorrow (excluding customs or weather delays), we'll be back in the States, in our little home with the cats and the kids and our family and friends.

C'est la vie.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"If you've seen one fat cherub....."

The title of today's post is dedicated to my younger sister, BooBoo. If she reads this post, she'll know what it means...

Our last full day in Florence today was mostly spent NOT in Florence. My brother and sister-in-law took us to a couple of the small towns/cities near here: San Gimignano and Sienna.

San Gimigano became an free municipality in 1199. Yes, 1199. There was a great (very old) church there with some phenomonal frescos that line the entire inside of the building. The town is very small and quaint, but was jammed with lots of tourists.

Sienna was, for us, a much more interesting and fabulous place than San Gimigano. Sienna was originally a Roman colony that grew and florished during the 1400s, becoming quite a powerful place before the Black Plague took out about 70% of its population.

The city is much smaller than Florence and the streets are so narrow, they don't even have side walks. Because of that, not too many cars brave the city streets and there are none of the buzzing scooters that careen up the streets in Florence.

We went to some of the most historical sites, including their Duomo (cathedral) and the Hosptial of Santa Maria della Scalla, which was the actual "sick room" that started in the 13th century.

Hubby, my brother and I all like the Duomo in Sienna more than the Duomo in Florence. Much more beautifully laid out, beautiful mosiacs and tiled scenes created as part of the floors; several naves each with their own personality. Just lovely.

We treated our tour guides (brother and sister-in-law) to a really great lunch that was off the main drag a bit. Hubby and sister-in-law split a huge Tuscan steak, I had sausage and white beans in a tomato sauce, my brother had grilled chicken breasts. This was AFTER the first course of pasta and the APPETIZERS of brushetta and chicken livers. (Hope the plane can make weight adjustments when we fly home!)

After lunch we went to a great cheese and salami shop that is owned by a friend of my brother's. We were able to taste some really delicious things and spend some time with the owner. He is a very fascinating man. He owns the cheese shop and a really great antique shop full of really different and wonderful things (manuscripts from the 1800s, old irons from that same era, old postal scales, walking canes, trunks and bread making kitchen tables, etc.) All very intriguing.

We were supposed to go out for dinner, but everyone was still full from lunch so we parted ways after getting back in to Florence. Hubby and I strolled the city for a while and are now getting ready to get packed up for our departure tomorrow.

We'll sleep in a little and then pack up. My neice will join her parents here tomorrow, so we'll have a chance to see her before we have to get on the train again.

We leave Florence in the early evening and go to Milan, then take the overnight train to Paris and then another train to Amsterdam. We are in Amsterdam for less than 24-hours and will then fly back to the states.

All in all, we've had just a wonderful trip. We've got lots of photos to share (once we are back in the states with all the right equipment) and lots of pounds to lose. I'm also missing my cats in a very big way, so I'm very excited to see them again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

David -- what a hunk

Our second full day in Florence is winding down. We've certainly lucked out with the weather. It's been sunny and warm during the day. Much better than the snow I hear is falling in Minneapolis.

Florence is very interesting. Small in square footage, but buzzing (literally) with the hum of thousands of scooters zipping through the very narrow streets. Some people have cars, but the preferred method of transportation seems to be scooters and walking. There are some tour buses that pass by and Hubby and I have stopped to watch them try to navigate down the narrow passage ways. Sometimes we make "bets" to see if the bus will actually make it past the row of cars or scooters without taking out a sideview mirror or a pedestrian. So far it is buses 10; cars/pedestrians 0.

We woke up a little later than we had wanted so we had to rush to get to the Galleria dell'Accademia to make our 10:00 reservation. We bought tickets to both the Galleria and the Uffizi from Select Italy prior to leaving the states. The tickets cost us a bit more money but were well worth it because having tickets in hand means not waiting in the very, very long lines to get in to see the exhibits.

The General Ticket line at the Galleria was already down the street and around the block by the time we got there. The line for people who already had reservations was about 1/8th as long. It only took us about 10 minutes to get in the door of the museum. I highly recommend getting paying the premium and getting the tickets before anyone visits Florence.

We made an immediate bee-line to see David. Unbelievable. Seeing the statue in-person was really something. Photos in books or any reproduction really does not serve it justice. The detail is amazing all the way from the veins in his arms, to the detail around the elbow that is supporting his right hand, which is resting on his right shoulder holding the sling, to the details on his hands and feet -- incredible.

We spent a long time looking at the statue taking it all in. We then backtracked the museum a bit to see some of Michelangelo's unfishined sculptures that line the entry way leading to the statue of David. They were also very interesting. You can see the detail of how the scuptures are "born" -- chisel marks and chip marks that outline the beginning of the emergence of a person. We could almost "feel" the person trying to emerge out of the stone. Very, very amazing.

The rest of the museum is of works from the late 13th century. Many interesting frescos and paintings -- all of religious nature. A section of the museum houses old (and I mean OLD) instruments: cellos, violins (including a couple made by Stradivarius in the 1600s), hurlygurlys, dulicimers, harpsicords and the first clarinets. Way cool. (geeze, you'd think that, as an English major, I could come up with some sort of adjective that was more descriptive than COOL).

In any event:

After leaving the Galleria (and walking past the General Ticket line, which now stretched and snaked around the block...), we made our way to the Duomo.

Again, unbelievable. So much detail to see in the stone carvings on the Cathedral. Hubby and I took many, many picutres. The sunlight played with the green, white and pink marble that makes up the building. We are hoping for some very good prints (once we can get them done and posted). We went inside the Cathedral and took more photos of the incredible works of art.

After we wrapped up there, we met my brother and sister-in-law for a lunch at one of their favorite resturants. Then they took us through some other of their favorite streets, pointing out some great buildings (and all the history as to WHY they are great). We took a tour of the Pallazo Medici Ricardi house. Hard to believe that a family could live in such a place.

After visiting the Pallazo, we parted ways with my brother and sister-in-law. Hubby and I wandered the streets back slowly, enjoying the scenery and a gelato (yum).

We are going to have a low-key night. We shopped at some of the local markets and are going to make a fun dinner at our apartment. We may wander out for a bit after that, or decide to put our tired feet up for the evening to rest up for tomorrow's adventure at the Uffizi.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In Florence -- safe and sound (with tickets!)

We got on the overnight train in Bern at 10:39 and arrived in Florence about 7:30 this morning. We had a sleeper car, which was small but very comfy for the two of us. (The car could accommodate 3, but we reserved the whole car for us. I could not imagine having three people in the space, but...must work!)

Sleeping on the train wasn't too bad. We did get some good rest although once we got to our apartment at about 1:00 pm, we both took a well needed nap.

Our apartment wasn't ready until early afternoon, so we wandered the streets and got coffee and a pastry. It is really beautiful here and different from any of the other countries. Streets are VERY narrow and buildings are VERY tall. Lots of little winding streets and scooters.

We found the Old Bridge, walked over to the museum area and then it was time to turn around and get situated at our place.

We stopped at a couple of markets to pick up some flat crackers (baked by a baker, not from a box), some delicious ham and cheese, a few tomatoes and a bit of fruit.

Our apartment is really wonderful. Huge rooms (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and salon) on the second floor of the building. Even has a washing machine. After a week of travel, that is a god-send.

We'll be heading out again shortly to explore and to hopefully to make plans to connect with my brother, who is also here with his wife.

The apartment has internet access (free, between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm), so I'll catch up on posting in a bit.

ciào for now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Switzerland = Lost

Not a huge post here -- our day is winding to a fast end here in Switzerland.

Started great on the train ride through France. Unbelieveably beautiful scenery, especially getting close to the Alps.

Got to Lusanne and had our first encounter with the lovely bathrooms. We didn't have to pay money but paid in other ways. Good thing I'm a runner and used to portapotties.

Train to Bern went smoothly and efficiently. (The Swiss are nothing if not efficient). However, Miss Organized somehow left the envelope with all of our train tickets and Europass ON THE TRAIN that went on to Zurich.

Panic city.

Friendly Swiss Rail guy sent an efficent email to the conductor on the train, who found the tickets and we made an unplanned trip to Zurich today to retrieve them.


Zurich was fantastic; got back to Bern in enough time to enjoy this picture-postcard city. Getting ready to hop another train to Italy. Will be there by breakfast.

Hubby had his beloved sausage and sauerkraut in Zurich today. He looked incredibly happy and content enjoying lunch.

At least he got a "reward" for my forgetfulness, although he is not letting me hold on to the tickets for awhile.....

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Adieu Parie

Our last night in Paris...after a rough start (getting so twisted around that first night while walking to and from the tourist office), we've fallen in love with the city and are sad to leave tomorrow.

We overslept yesterday and decided to not go to another museum (thereby avoiding the long queques). Instead, we walked to Notre Dame, which was truly impressive. Unfortunately, the lines were too long for our patience levels to actually get in to the Cathedral, but we did spend a lot of time outside on the grounds taking lots of pictures and taking in the beauty of the Seine, the buildings and people watching. It is very interesting to evasedrop here. Not that we could decipher many conversations -- English is rare and mostly spoken by Brits and Irish. Spanish, Russian, Italian, Polish and, of course, French conversations surround us every where we go. It is really interesting to us to listen and observe.

The day was beautiful -- partly cloudy and in the 60's -- so we decided to take the
"short cut" to the Effel Tower. I don't care what any guide book tells you, Paris is very walkable and you do a lot of walking because if you aren't familiar with the city, you get lost -- A LOT. We were very happy, however, to see that we were not the only tourists (of any language type) that had to pull the map out about a dozen times.

Our walk took us through many different areas, all with their own charm. We went through chic shopping areas to lovely residential to interesting business centres.

Finally we got to the grounds of the Tower. Wow! Beautiful park and then the Tower itself -- really very impressive. By the time we got there, the sun was beginning to set and the crowds of people had "thinned", meaning the lines to go to the top of the Tower averaged only 1-plus hours, so again, we skipped it. We sat underneath the Tower and took in the crowds, which included our first (and only so far) encounter with the infamous gypsies.

A number of tiny Bosnian women scan the crowds and go up to anyone they think speak English. One approached us and asked if we spoke English. Foolish me said "yes" and she held up a piece of paper with a bunch of stuff scribbled on it. Immediately, my hand went to my purse and I told her "No". She backed away pretty quick. We were approached again twice by other women using the same m.o.. Each time the woman asked us about English, we said "no". That pretty much took care of the problem.

After the Effel Tower, we went back to the Arc d'Triomphe and went up to the top Observation Platform (no line to get to that...). It was after dark and the view was unbelievable. We took lots of photos, including a couple of us complete with the full Parisian moon above us.

We took the Metro back to our neighborhood and had a nice relaxing dinner at a cafe. Great day.

Today, I made sure to get up early so we could hit the markets that are a block from our apartment. We bought a rosted chicken, fresh bread, fresh Gouda and Brie cheeses, some fruit and cherry tomatoes, which we had for dinner at the apartment tonight. It was great fun to shop at all the little markets and to be able to pick out such fresh and flavorful products.

I almost hate to admit this, because we are loving the espressos that we have every day, but I also found a Starbucks and got one of my beloved Venti coffees. That, honestly, was terrific. (Dori, if you are reading this post, I'm wondering if the 1-800 Starbucks locator works in Europe too (LOL))

We did get to Musee Dorsee today and the Impressionist art was wonderful. I liked Van Gogh and Monet the best. I was also able to "payback" Hubby a little bit for making me spend hours at the Louve looking at all that Egyptian stuff. He is not that hot on the Impressionist movement but he was a trooper and hung in there with me.

After the museum, we spent a long time in the gardens outside the Louvre just people watching and taking it all in. We stopped at a Cafe along the way home for a leisurely and delicious lunch and then sat out in the square near our apartment.

All in all, another great day in Paris.

We leave tomorrow afternoon for Switzerland.

We miss some of our routine, certainly our friends, family and cats (and, of course, our giant cups of coffee) but we are both really having a great time on our trip.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Ohh La La!

Greetings from Paris!

Hubby and I are sitting in an Internet Cafe, trying to figure out how to use a French keyboard-- the good old QWERTY board does not work.

So far the trip is going well. Amsterdam was great. Everything they say is true. Great walking city with plenty of bikes to dodge. The streets follow the canals and round the city in a circular motion. Therefore, we only got "lost" twice. Fortunately, lost is relative in Amsterdam. The city is small, so eventually you get where you wanted to be.

We went to the Anne Frank Huis -- very interesting, also to the Red Light District. Even MORE interesting... Ate a wonderful Argentinean dinner; had great coffee. The people were very nice and friendly.

The train ride to Paris was amazing. Service was spectacular -- got fed not once but twice, with food that was very good indeed. We went through the Hauge, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels on our way to Paris.

Good news -- arrived on time; bad news -- arrived during rush hour. Over 2 million people apparently used the Gare du Nord station to get home. Chaotic and exciting.

Found the apartment -- very quaint on a great street with an open market and good bakeries.

Tried to get to the Tourism office to buy Museum tickets but got hopelessly lost going there and, after getting there and being told it was too late in the day to buy them, on the way back. That was a bit frustrating: maps didn't jive, streets twisted and we wandered much more than we wanted to. But, we finally made it back and had a lovely dinner at the restaurant near our apartment. All was well.

I'm turning over the keys to Hubby so he can tell you about today...

Today was the day for the Louvre. It is quite hard to describe all of the world's finest pieces of art in one place. Unbelievable and Fantastic just don't do it. Amy's tolerance for ancient artifacts was put to the test. I am happy to report that she passed...

We started our tour of the Louvre by making a bee-line for the Mona Lisa. The crowd was just starting to gather in the lobby of the museum and luckily we beat the rush. This painting is absolutely amazing, no pictures or posters can prepare you for how this masterpiece looks up close. Not only the eyes follow you around the room when looking at it, but the mouth changes from an odd smirk to a smile and then back again as you move from side to side. DaVinci was incredibleé.

One of the most interesting items we saw in the antiquities section was the collection of tools dating back 200,000 years.

7 1/2 hours later, we felt satisfied that we finally saw half of the collection, oh well we have to go back!

Now Amy will tell of our adventure strolling down the Champs-Elysées.

We had a great walk through the gardens, to the Concorde Plaza, through the park leading up to the Champs (including sharing a snack of crepe de chocolat and banana along with a great version of the good old hot dog...)

We got to the Arc de Triomphe -- took great photos, which we can't upload yet (wrong size port) and then had a real dinner at a cute overpriced place in the Champs.

Some very nice locals helped us with directions to this internet cafe, so after dinner; we took the Metro to an area close to our apartment and are winding down our day here. Phew.

Tomorrow: the museum D'Orsay, the Effel Tower and a much cheaper dinner in this neighborhood!

Are we having fun?

Oui, sure youbetcha :)

P.S. KLM rocks. More about that later.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia....

Twin Cities Marathon is over and the results are on the books.

I finished -- not in stellar form, certainly not with a PR (personal record), but finished none the less.

It was much hotter than normal last Sunday. The afternoon temps hit the low 80s -- and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. These were very different conditions than we had been training in over the last few (and muy important) long runs.

Hubby dropped me off at the Metrodome at about 7:15. I had just enough time to get in line for the portapotties and then line up in the corral for the start of the race at 8:00 am.

I lined up with the group running with the Cliff Shot Pacer aiming for a 5:30 finish. Met the pacer -- met a couple of folks running in her group and then turned to see Marcia and Cheryl, my training partners. They were getting some last minute encouragement from our Coach, Sarah.

We all wanted to run with the pacer, but her plan was to run and take walk breaks during the waterstops. We had trained using a rhythm of six minutes walking and one minute of walking. The first water stop at TCM wasn't until mile 2.5. Given our pace, we were not scheduled to reach that point until about 24 minutes in to the race. We didn't feel comfortable changing our routine, so we decided to stick with our plan but to try to keep the pacer in site.

Marcia and I ended up running together slightly ahead of the pacer. (Actually, we were about 3 minutes ahead of her for more than half the marathon.) We felt great -- were enjoying the large crowds, the really beautiful fall leaves on the trees and scenery along the parkway, meeting new friends along the way.

Many of our friends were out watching the event and cheering us on. We saw our running friends Katie and AmyK near Lake Harriet. Not too far from them was another running friend, Bev, although the look on her face was not so encouraging. A few steps later we found out why.

There was a man in his late 40s that was laying on the pavement. Medics were around him -- one man was performing CPR; another was using the breathing bag trying to revive him. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. The man was rushed to the hospital, but passed away of an apparent heart attack.

He had been an avid runner with no history of problems. According to the paper, he and his son were running the marathon. His son went ahead of him and then his dad had his attack. The son didn't find out what happened until after he passed the finish line. Very tragic...

Seeing the man on the sidewalk certainly changed the mood of those of us running. We all got very quiet and I'm sure a few of us sent up a prayer or two. And yet, we all kept moving forward.

My good friend Mary found us a couple times on the course: near Calhoun and then along Minnehaha Parkway. Marcia's son was out there for us; she saw some women from her book club, and we found a couple other friends, including Angel and Carla (our Ironwomen friends).

Our good friend Dori found us right after that first water stop. She had her trusty camera with her and snapped a couple of pics. She also met us right before the course crossed over from Minneapolis to St. Paul. She was like god-send out there. She had ice, gels, and great words of encouragement.

Hubby found us several times along the route: near Calhoun, before Minnehaha Falls -- all times I was feeling pretty dang good.

About mile 15, I started to lose it mentally. The weather caught up with me; the sun was draining and I could not keep my mo-jo. That AND I had to find a restroom. I told Marcia to go on ahead of me and that I'd try to catch her.

That was pretty much the last time I saw her until the finish line.

Not long after leaving Marcia, Cheryl passed me by looking very strong. Not long after Cheryl passed me, that 5:30 pacer passed me. Drat.

I keep going, although I really could not get a good rhythm back.

Usually I have a bad patch or two during marathons, but I'm able to get it back. Not this time. I just kept cursing and considering dropping out. But, pretty much every time I was going to pull out, I'd look up ahead, and there would be Hubby -- ringing the cowbell, giving me a "high five", and encouraging me to move on.

I did.

Slowly but surely, I made my way through St. Paul to the Capital. I DID cross that finish line, at 5:57:49. Very sucky time.

My coach was waiting for me at the finish. I crossed the line, got my metal, saw her and just burst in to tears. I was SOOOO disappointed in my inability to make my goal time of 5:30. She was very kind to me -- and that helped, although truth be told, I am disappointed that I continually have "Race Day" issues that cause me to not perform well. I can train like the dickens, but I tend to choke during the big events.

Anyway, I did finish -- about 10 minutes or so after Marcia did; about 15 minutes after Cheryl and about 30 minutes after our other training partner, Mary.

I would have never made it without the help and encouragement of Hubby and my friends out there yesterday -- and certainly would never have been able to do it without my great training partners.

So it all starts with Marcia. If she hadn't had a milestone birthday and got that hair-brained idea that it would be "great" to run a marathon for her birthday, I wouldn't have signed up, trained, run the race or had CAKE at the end to help celebrate her b-day.

Dori sent me a picture of all of us at the finish -- The folks in the photo include Marcia, Cheryl and me, along with Marcia's husband and our other friend Nat, who both ran the 10 Miler earlier that day. I'm in the grey.

(Hubby took a bunch more photos that I will post eventually. He is in the middle of the "last minute panic" of trying to get ready to leave on our big adventure tomorrow. I best not bug him now to have him teach me how to upload those....)

In any event, here's to you, Marcia. Congrats on your 1st victory taiming the 26.2 mile beast!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Last of the Long Runs...TCM one week away!

I did not run with my running buddies yesterday. It was a grey, cool and wet morning. I just wanted a morning to sleep in, catch up from a long week of travel and work and just "be".

Today was a much better day for my last long run of 10 miles before the marathon next week.

We finally have a nice sunny day here -- first time in about a week. The lakes were crowded, but not too terribly so. I ran to Lake Calhoun for my warm up and then did a 6 minute run/1 minute walk and covered all three lakes (Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet). I covered the distance in 1:58:00, which is a very good time for me.

I know I should have been practicing either my marathon or Long Slow Distance pace, but the day was great and I felt pretty good.

I also got nabbed by a bit of competitiveness. When I was running the first half of Calhoun, I passed a woman who was speedwalking next to a guy that was running slow. I went from the first half of Calhoun over to Isles and closed that lake out, came back to finish Calhoun and then hopped over to Harriet.

I bumped in to that couple again. The woman was really kicking the speedwalking thing in to high gear and for whatever reason, I didn't feel like having my butt handed to me by a speedwalker. So I passed them.

Then it was one of my walk breaks and they passed me. When it was time for me to run again, I passed them and put a bit of distance between them and me. Walk break, they caught up and passed again, which REALLY bugged me. So I kicked up my pace.

She must have had her own competitive edge, because the next time they passed me, they were both running and at a pretty good clip.

And so it went, back and forth for about half of the lake.

With not much left to go, I finally decided "screw it" and kicked it out myself.

I passed the imaginary finish line way before they did. (And the crowd went WILD! LOL).

Now the hurry-up-and-wait starts till next week and the Marathon and then the trip to Europe.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Tick Tock...big fun coming in ONE week!

Long time, no post.

Our running club is winding down our training for Twin Cities Marathon, which happens in 9 days!!!

Last Saturday we ran sixteen miles as the "beginning of taper". Those miles really felt more like thirty-six. Typical start to the taper. We are tired, way over the whole training thing and now just waiting for the big event.

I feel pretty ready, although one never knows about race day. Could be good, could be not so good.

I haven't run since then. The weather here has been horrible -- unseasonably cold and very, very rainy. Fortunately, I had to go to a business meeting for a few days in Phoenix. I brought running clothes, but never got the chance to get out.

Tomorrow is our last long run before the event. We are scheduled to go 10 miles. The forecast is for rain and cold. Should surely make the run as fun as it possibly can. (Wonder how you can code HTML to indicate sarcasm....?)

The other really fun thing coming up is the trip Hubby and I will be taking to Europe! We leave on October 3rd and will travel to Amsterdam, Paris, Bern (Switzerland) and Florence.

My brother, sister-in-law and niece will also be in Florence for part of the time we'll be there. That will be fun spending time with them half the world away from where we usually get together.

It will be our first time in Europe and we are getting very excited about it. We have most of our arrangements made, have some tickets for museums already and are now just counting the days till we go.

I'm very excited but admittedly nervous about the whole flying thing. I don't like flying in general -- so the thought of sitting on a plane for over eight hours is just not particulars appealing.

I also don't like the idea of leaving our kitties for so long, but fortunately have some friends that will be living in our house while we are gone. It is nice to know that the cats will have company 24/7 while we are gone.

Lots to look forward to and lots to do before we go.

Makes life interesting, wouldn't you say?


Sunday, September 10, 2006

One last Tri (update) and 20 Miler Done!

The 'official' results for St. Croix Valley were FINALLY posted last week on Thursday. Took those folks forever to get them upload on the site. Then took me even longer to post this -- but at least there is a photo of me "charging" the finish line. (And, if you look closely to the left of me, you see two cheering women. Those are my good friends Angel and Carla both of whom are competing in Ironman Wisconsin as I write this. GO Angel and Carla!!!)

My swim was 13:56, with a T1 time of 2:45. I was well ahead of last years 2:07 swim time and 4:22 T1 time. (6:11 ahead on the swim; 2:37 ahead during T1, for a total of 8:48 ahead of 2005 results.

Then the "2-flat" meltdown. My bike time was recorded as 1:00:09. Last year it was 44:35. A whopping 15:36 over last year.

I'm guessing that the officials added all the time it took for me to get back in to the transition area after discovering Flat #1 and then trying to find someone with an airpump, filling the tire, getting back in and out of transition again in to my bike time.

T2 was faster this year (1:18 vs. 1:58 in 2005 (40 seconds ahead).

Run took me 32 SECONDS longer this year over last year (45:51 vs 45:19)

Total recorded time on the course for 2006 = 2:04:47
Time for 2005 = 1:56:19
"Official" difference of 8:28.


I know that, technically, the recorded time is the recorded time, but my "woulda/coulda/shoulda time" = 1:45:23 (if swim, T-times and run time were all as they were and IF my bike time had equaled 2005 time).

Sigh. Thus endth my 2006 Triathlon season.

All in all, I had a great season all the way from Tri-U-Mah in February until St. Croix Valley. I'm already excited to start training for 2007!

Speaking of training: I'm STILL training for Twin Cities Marathon. There is only about three weeks to go till race day and, thank heavens, we are just entering taper time.

I ran my last LONG run yesterday with my team. Marcia, Cheryl, Mary and I slogged along together for the entire 20 mile run.

We started at the State Capitol and followed the Marathon course back to mile 16, which runs along Minnehaha Parkway. That was our turnaround and we headed up the Marathon course again to the "finish". This is a great practice run because you can make mental notes of where certain spots are along the trail: "Okay, this is the distance from the Lake Street bridge to the Franklin Bridge -- lots longer that I thought". "Here is the spot that the big dreadful hill starts". "There are the portapotties".

We start out fresh for the first 10 miles and by the time we turn around to head back, we've got some of the mental/physical challenges created -- tired; sick of doing the walk/run thing; this is how the hill feels NOW, not 8 miles ago, etc.

Our little running group has really bonded over the training season. We were all keeping each other very motivated and on-task with our pace and our run/walk pace. It's been a blast running with them and really getting to know them.

After we were done with our run, the four of us had lunch at Cafe Latte -- a popular St. Paul restaurant. Food and conversation were both terrific.

Now we enter taper -- pull back on the miles a bit, rest, recover and get ready for October 1st. Fortunately, I've got lots to keep me occupied at work and at home.

Hubby and I leave for Europe on October 3rd. We're working on finalizing our plans. It will be both of our first times overseas. We are both very excited and I'm sure I'll cover more about our plans on the blog over the next couple of weeks.

Now, though, I think I'll go stretch my quads....

Monday, September 4, 2006

A Tale of Two Flats: Keep On Peddlin'

I'm still waiting for my official results for the St. Croix Valley Sprint triathlon. The event was held last Saturday -- and today is Monday.

The race coordinators split the St. Croix Valley events over two days: Sprint distance (0.3 mile swim/10 mile bike/4 mile run) happens on Saturday and the International distance (1.2 swim/ 24 mile bike/ 6 mile run) takes place on Sunday.

I thought that the results would be posted after the International event, but alas, I'm still waiting.

The event started off really well: I came out of the water in 13:38.

This was a 6.5 minute improvement over my swim time last year. It would appear that those lessons really paid off. Well, that and the fact that I didn't walk the entire swim. (The swim course is very shallow. I figured that out last year when I swam up to one of the support rafts to hold on for a minute and accidentally let my feet dangle below me and my toes hit the sandy bottom of the river. I looked up at the person on the raft and she said to me, "Oh yeah, you can touch the WHOLE WAY!".

With that information, what is any reasonable bad-swimmer to do? Walk!

This year, having that same information in my head, knowing I could touch if I needed too and armed with months of practice and lessons, I swam the majority of the course and when I needed a quick break, I just put my feet down and walked a step or two before paddling again.

I was so happy when I got out of the water so quickly, made my transition fast and hit the bike route.

That is when the "fun" started.

I got out about 4 blocks from the start and noticed that my bike was dragging. I looked down and could see that my rear tire was flat.

I had pumped up both tires before I left the house and why the tire was flat seemed to be a mystery.

I considered just going on with the flat, but the drag was really pulling me back. I also thought that, because the course is very hilly, riding the whole 10 miles with a flat would ruin the tire and be very tough.

I turned around, went back to the bike transition area and looked for someone with an air pump. None was to be had. I went over to the announcer and asked him to ask the crowd if anyone had an air pump. A very kind man, who apparently was the head cook for the luau that takes place for the "after party", had one in his truck, so he took me W......A......Y..... far away from the transition area, got his pump out and pumped up my tire.

I was very grateful but also dreading the precious seconds/minutes that were ticking away getting this little problem fixed.

He finished filling my tire and then I made it back to transition and out on to the course -- dead last.

Other bikers were coming back in to transition. A lovely, steady stream of bikers peddling their hearts out, looking over to me with that "Who is that poor schmuck?" look on their face. It was me, just trying to get through the course.

I thought about quitting a number of times -- especially during miles one through three. It just seemed like an insurmountable course and that I'd never be able to beat my course time from last year.

I kept peddling.

About mile 3.5, I saw some people ahead of me. VICTORY! Surely I could catch up with them and maybe even PASS them! I peddled on.

I did pass them -- and a few other stragglers. Hurrah! I gave it my all, pushing up those lovely but very steep hills to the turnaround at mile five.

They had a water stop there and I grabbed some water. In between gulps, I told the two volunteers that I had had a flat. One of them said to me, as he was staring down at my rear tire: "Are you going to fix it"?


I looked down and saw it -- a tire that was flat as a pancake. CRAP.

Now there is nothing I can do. The folks at the turnaround couldn't take me back. I was five miles to the bike finish -- if I walked it, it would take over an hour.

I just threw caution to the wind and peddled on. Fortunately, all that uphill on the way out becomes downhill on the way home, so I could coast a bit. The landscape in that part of Wisconsin is really beautiful, so I just tried to enjoy that and make my way home.

At one point around mile seven, I saw a deer poke out from the woods. I have seen deer a number of times out on runs or racecourses. I always take this as a good sign. The deer looked straight at me as I was coming down the hill toward it. It then just sauntered across the street and disappeared in to the woods on the other side of the course.

Thankfully, I got through the bike course and made a very quick transition out on to the run course. Most of the other participants were coming back in from the racecourse at this point. I still pointed my feet out and kept going. I felt pretty good during the run and even passed by a number of other runners.

I hadn't looked at my watch since I got out of the swim. I was too afraid that I'd get discouraged. With less than a mile to go, I thought I'd risk it and see what the damage was. Total time elapsed at that point was 1:58.

Last year, I finished the event at 1:56, so I was behind. But not THAT much behind considering all the bike troubles.

I finished the race pretty strong, clocking on my watch at about 2:04 -- so about eight minutes behind last year's time.

Hubby was there waiting for me, ready with his encouraging smile, a hug and an "attagirl". He also snapped some photos that I'll post when I have my official time.

We ate some pork sandwiches from the luau (dee-lish-si-ous at 10:00 am, let me tell you) and then started to pack up to go home.

I stopped by the Official's table to let them know that my times might look screwy. When I came in to transition to try to find an air pump, I crossed over the timing mat and had to cross it again after I got my tire pumped up and got out on to the course again. This means I crossed the bike transition four times (as opposed to two). They thanked me for letting them know and said that the impact would probably be that my splits would look a little "off".

I'm anxious to see what they look like and what my times for each leg really were. I know that my total time is what counts, but still want to see what the components were.

Any way, the lesson of the day was and continues to be: when life gives you a flat or two, just keep on peddlin'.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Junior Achiever

I finally got a swimming lesson in yesterday. I am taking a few days off from work to enjoy the last bit of summer laziness here in Minnesota.
With my time off, I decided to catch up on some things that I've been neglecting: swim lessons; cleaning out some clutter; a golf lesson; going to the fabulous Minnesota State Fair and more. Oh yeah, and relaxing.

I've been traveling so much for work lately that my swim schedule got a little off. I will be competing in my last tri for the season on Saturday, so last week I got back in the pool for some laps and then immediately signed up for another lesson.

So yesterday, my coach Dave had me do some drills that should increase my fluidity in the water -- really reaching my stroke out (meaning not cutting in to the water at my eye line, but to cut in to the water about inline with my wrist of my extended arm). Once I cut in to the water, I should set my extended arm in to the anchor position and rotate over to the other side.

He also helped me with a "yeah, I'm a swimmer" kick-off from the sidewall. He had wanted me to learn how to do flip turns, but I can't get beyond getting water up my nose -- yet -- so I'm still pushing off the wall for my turnaround.

The new technique works like this: I crouch down both my legs on the wall in more of a sideways position (I'm looking at the side wall, not the wall ahead of me). I get in to position underwater while I'm crouched down and then push off underwater. This helps me cut through the water more efficiently because I'm already on my side and not lying "flat" in the water creating drag.

I still have three lessons left and am feeling like I'm really coming along.

I took my lesson in the middle of the day and Dave had a client after me. A young boy of about ten or so. Once my lesson was over, I decided to relax in the whirlpool and watch Dave coach the kid.

The kid -- aka the "Junior Achiever" was quite something to watch. No pushing off the sidewall for him. Oh no. He used the diving platform to spring -- cat like -- in to the water and then he swam his 100 freestyle like an Olympian, flip turns and all.

I was amazed. The kid really was fast. I must have been staring at him with an amazed look on my face because at one point, Dave looked over to me in the whirlpool and said "You don't want to know how fast he is going".

Damn straight.

I know that I am a plodder -- be it a running plodder or a swimming plodder. I'm really okay with that.

I do admire those speedsters -- and I fully accept the fact that I started this athletic journey of mine a little late in the game. No matter to me. I still enjoy being out there working my body, feeling physicially fit and taking in the surrounding around me (wonderful scenery when I run; feeling the velvet fluidity of the water when I swim. You know how it goes.)

I'm sure that this kid is competing on some team some where. Good for him. He was amazing to watch and did ignight a little of my competitive nature. If he can do a flip turn, I can to.

Looking forward to being a Senior Achiever.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I've been golfing just about a year now and just L O V E it! I started golfing last year after hubby and I got invited to play with another friend and his wife. They were playing on a Couples League and their partner couple could not make one of the weekly rounds. They invited us to play and, although I dragged my feet as much as I could, we went and I thought it was great.

I couldn't get a ball in the air -- couldn't putt at all -- but there was something about being outside on an early fall evening, playing a lovely Par-3 course with my husband and friends.

I was hooked.

Since then, Hubby and I played a number of times last fall, squeezing the very last drop out of reasonable play time in Minnesota. Believe me, there were plenty of times when we were scurrying out there on the course when it was freezing cold wearing sweaters, running gloves, hats and jackets.

We had a chance to golf in Las Vegas last January -- another Par 3 where we were partnered with another man who was practicing his short game. Fritz was a very fascinating man to talk with and to learn from, making our mid-winter golf experience even more enjoyable.

For all the Minnesota golf junkies who can't make it out of town during our inclimate winters, we have Golf Domes available. Domes are big structures with inflatable dome ceilings where you can practice your drives and chips. Hubby and I frequented the dome often during the winter months.

Finally, spring came and we signed up for the same Couples League that our friends play on and we had the opportunity to play with them every Friday night for the past 3 1/2 months. Our last game for the summer league was last Friday and I'm really sad to see the league come to an end.

My game has improved -- I took some lessons, which helped -- and getting out every week helped too. I still can't drive worth a dang, but every now and then, I make a shot or a putt that makes it all worth while.

It is really nice to have an activity that my husband and I both can enjoy together. I can see us golfing together for many years to come.

That being said, one of my goals for this summer was to play a full eighteen, or "the big boy course" as I like to call it. Hubby and I went to a course about an hour north of Minneapolis yesterday and, man oh man, was I handed a big piece of humble pie.

Lost about a million balls; really couldn't drive (chip or putt) very well; couldn't really get the dang ball out of the tall grass very effectively; it was an amateur nightmare. Hubby didn't play his level best either, but still we had a great day out there together.

I still have a very long way to go with my game, but that is okay with me. As an adult, I've had so much fun discovering different interests and passions, whether those interests were running (started at 39); scrapbooking (started at 41); learning Spanish (some where in my 30s); political involvement (in my 40s); swimming and triathlons (40's), etc. Adding one more -- golf -- won't be that big of a thing.

I blew off a Long Run to go golfing -- the marathon is about 5 weeks away. I'm not worried -- yet. We still have a couple of long runs that will put me to the test. I also will compete in my last triathlon for 2006 this Saturday.... I know that I'll cover the distance, although I probably shouldn't be too over confident about my swimming or biking.

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Trophy Wife

Another long week of sales meetings and travel just ended for me.

I started the week in Minneapolis (home base) attending a two day meeting for one of my company's sales teams. Monday was a blast -- we got to do a little team building by playing golf. The Manager of the group is a member at a very nice country club in the area and we played his course. My first "big boy" course.

We were divided in to four teams of four (each team had one woman). I golfed with the Manager, a sales guy and an account manager, who I happen to sit next to at work. We had a great round of golf and everyone contributed. I helped "seal the deal" on three holes, which I was very proud of.

Tuesday were meetings (bleah). After work, I ran with the Beginning Runners that I'm coaching at my Health Club. We had a beautiful run along the downtown trail. I got home about 8:00 pm and found that the mailman had delivered a package for me from LifeTime Fitness.

Inside the package was a very nice trophy: acrylic, triangular in shape, with a photo of the elite athletes entering the water at the LifeTime Triathlon.

Remember when I posted about coming in first in my Athena age group? And I was joking about it because I was Number One out of, you know, ONE? Apparently, LifeTime recognized this as a legitimate placing because the engraving on the trophy reads:

LifeTime Fitness Olympic Distance First Place Female, Athena, 40 - 49.


Although I do thing that getting the award is kind of funny, there is another part of me that is HUGELY proud of this goofy piece of plastic. I feel slightly vindicated for all those times that the faster, skinner runners in my running club sniffed their noses at me plodding along in my slower-than-molasses style.

I really no longer run for the tee shirts (although I do like it when the race officials decide to give out technical shirts that I can use for running or long sleeved shirts that are good for sleeping), I do like the hardware (medals). The trophy is very nice and I'm going to display it proudly.

In ended the week on the East Coast attending another meeting. The sales group works in Portsmouth, NH, a wonderful seacoast town located about an hour outside of Boston. I have been to Portsmouth three times and just LOVE it there. Very pretty land; wonderful town built around a square, fun progressive people and great running routes. I ran on Thursday night for about an hour -- through the town, out towards the sea, through some beautiful neighborhoods. Felt terrific!

We had a fancy dinner on Thursday night -- the sales team, some of their preferred customers and some of us from Minneapolis. We ate outside overlooking a beautiful bay.

The meetings were held on Friday morning and, frankly, this group is probably the most grumbly of them all. They complain about everything. My presentation kicked off the meeting at 7:30 am and, from what I hear, the group stayed out the night before partying. Imagine how happy there were to hear from me, then, bright and early in the A. of M.

I got through it, meetings ended and we were on our way home. Phew.

Got home in time to meet Hubby and our friends for our golf league where I played a really great round of golf. Yippee!

Next week, I'm in town all week (yippee!) and Hubby and I will celebrate our 1-year anniversary (yippee!)

Wonder how he feels about having a Trophy Wife?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Running on my Own...

After waxing poetic about how great it is to have such wonderful friends to make those long runs worth while, I ended up bagging them on Saturday and running on my own.

It wasn't as bad as "bagging" really sounds, though.

Hubby and I golf in a Couples League on Friday nights. I had promised him that my running this marathon would not cut so much in to our time together as training for my other events has in the past. So, despite what my coach says about having Fridays be a total rest day before the big Long Slow Distance (LSD) Saturday, we golf on Fridays. It is a small Par 3 course -- very pretty -- and we golf with another couple that have been our friends for several years. We walk the course -- really no biggie, LSD run or not.

Last Friday, we got off the course later than we usually and Hubby and I putzed around on the way home -- ran a couple of errands, had dinner late, etc.

I woke up at 6:00 to run and just decided "screw it". I slept in.

Honestly, part of my rebelliousness was because we were supposed to go 18 miles. We had just done a 1/2 marathon the week before and I felt that going from 13 to 18 was a big leap that I wasn't ready for. So, the alarm blared at 6:00 am and I promptly turned it off.

I knew that I'd have to make up the miles and get a run in. I got out of the house about 1:00 pm and followed a route from my block along Lake Harriet and then connecting with Minnehaha Parkway. Most of the run corresponded with the marathon route, including the one really ugly spot of the marathon route off of Cedar Avenue, near Lake Nokomis.

(It is interesting to me that this section is also a section of the LifeTime Fitness Triathlon. I LOVE it when I'm doing the Tri, but HATE it as part of the marathon. I suppose it's because I'm riding a bike when I'm on Cedar during the Tri versus not being quite at the half-way point for the marathon.)

In any event, I got out there and did my thing for 16 miles and was very glad I ended up running alone.

Here are the things I observed during my run, that would have escaped me had I run with the group:

Fish swimming against the current in Minnehaha Creek.

Sleeping ducks nestled in creekside.

My first glimpse of a tree with leaves that just hinted at color change (uh oh!).

The Minnesota Freeze playing a tournament near Nokomis. (Apparently the Freeze is our Australian-style football league -- whatever that means).

Great gardens and yards that adorn the beautiful homes along the parkway.

Kids playing in the park, including a dad teaching his son how to play T-ball.

People walking their dogs.

A wonderful elderly couple out in their yard. The husband was going to take the dog for a walk -- the wife was standing close to him, stroking his face and smiling. I hope Hubby and I are like that when we are their age.

Finally, after I was just about done with my run, I veered off the course, whipped my shoes and socks off and waded in to the wonderful waters at Lake Harriet beach. My aching feet and knees were 'oh, so happy'.

I think I needed this kind of run -- where I can take my time and observe things around me rather than just ticking off the miles and getting the run "done".

Sometimes you just have to run and smell the roses.

Friday, August 11, 2006

In to the LONG stuff now....

Tomorrow my running group and I will be tackling 18 miles. Can you say BLEAH?

We only have about seven weeks until Twin Cities Marathon, so the long, tough stuff starts now.

Actually, most of the training drills this session have been much tougher than in previous years. Don't know why exactly, but our mileage seemed to go up fast on the long runs and our weekly sessions seem to alternate between doing fast runs and hill runs. (What the heck ever happened to Easy Does It or EDI?)

I'm glad I have a good group of gals to run with, however. My friend Marcia, who's birthday this year started this whole thing; new friends Jane, Mary and Ally; old friends Cheryl, Bea, Kathy, Bev, etc. Makes the runs really worth it.

Last weekend, a number of us ran the Urban Wildland 1/2 marathon. It was a great event. I finished 10 mintues faster than I did at the Wells Fargo 1/2 earlier this year and felt pretty good the whole way through the race.

I ran mostly with Marcia and Ally -- until a potty break sent them ahead and me waiting to "go" -- literally. We were running 7 minutes with a 1 minute walk break. The course is very pretty. We ran through residential areas and nature preserves. It was great fun.

The rest of this week was spent mostly in Salt Lake City (SLC) for work. I flew out Sunday and back late Wednesday, just in time to miss all this new travel fear and crap. SLC is very pretty with the mountains and interesting buildings downtown. There is definitely a Mormon influence (you have to be a "member" to go in to bars, but I hear that membership is pretty easy to get); downtown is a ghost town after 5:00 pm; but they do have plenty of coffee houses (thank heavens) and I hear that most of the city has a pretty liberal bend. (The conservative crowd has settled in the suburbs).

I ran once. Found a great path through the city, by the Tabernacle, up to the capital, through a beautiful part and up a mountain side. W O N D E R F U L.

I communed with nature and came up with a gratitude list while the miles pounded away.

I'm not so sure I'll be as grateful tomorrow about mile 15...

Got home on Wednesday night and the new terror warnings came out Thurday morning. Hubby and I have plans to go to Europe this October after the marathon. I really don't want to cancel our trip although I will say that I do have some anxiety about the trip. (I'm not a very good flyer to begin with.) We are not making any decisions yet about our trip. We'll wait out this recent thing for a week or so and then decide.

Stepson goes back to his mom's on Monday, which also produces a yin/yang feeling in me. I love him and have a hard time living with him. Part of it is he is 16 and part is that he has been some what spoiled by his parents. I usually end up in the role of WSM -- wicked step mother -- nagging him about helping around the house or at a minimum getting out of the house. If he had his way, he'd sleep in late every day, eat junk food till he burst and then would sit on the computer playing games with cartoons on in the background.

Yet, on the other hand, he is a smart, personable kid who can be a lot of fun to be around. Once he leaves, the house gets quiet and it isn't long until I miss him.

Funny little ironies, no?

Sunday, August 6, 2006


Last night, at some point in the middle of it, I officially became older than my mother.

My mom, known to her family and friends as Margaret or "Mugs", died of breast cancer on August 6th, 1969 at the age of 47. I was 10 years old.

Although I don't remember much of her, I do vividly remember parts of her illness, and the morning she died.

It was very hot in Milwaukee that August. My mom's illness had progressed and she had been bedridden for most of the summer. The cancer that had started in her breast spread to other organs, including her lungs. She ultimately had to have a tracheotomy, which was supposed to help her breathe, but would clog with mucus causing more coughing and problems. Little by little, she withered away.

My grandmother came to live with us that summer to help my dad out. That particular weekend in August, my mom's favorite sister, Sharon, came up from Illinois with my two cousins. Our house was full of people. My sister Tina, then 5, and I had to sleep in a bedroom that was in a part of the house that must not have been insullated very well. It was hotter than heck in that room. I didn't sleep well that night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing a lot of commotion down stairs. I was too tired to get up so I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next morning, my dad woke me up. He had Tina with him and he picked her up and put her on his lap. I knew right then. He said "Your mother passed away last night. I'm sorry". I just laid there looking at him and looking at Tina. In an instant, every thing changed.

Zoom ahead one year, five years, ten...move forward twenty, thirty and now thirty seven. Might as well be 1,000 years for all I can remember and for all that I have missed.

I've had a lot of mixed feelings about this particular day, when I'd pass my mother in age. IF I'd pass it by. For years, I thought that her fate was my fate -- that I'd get cancer and be dead already. I'm not alone having that type of thought, I know. Many people who have lost a parent fear that they will come to the same early end.

But I did make it past her time -- albeit only by a few hours now. I'm hoping that those hours will stretch in to days and months and years....leaving me to die peacefully an old woman.

Very melancholy blog enter, I know. I've been moody for the past couple of weeks and pretty sad about this date. I'm (still) angry that she died and angrier that I don't remember her. I'm sad that she's not here and that she -- and I -- and Tina -- missed so much.

I'm not so idealistic that I believe, had she not gotten cancer and lived, that we would have had this perfect mother/daughter thing. I just would have liked the chance to have experienced it, instead of looking at it through the lens of an outsider observing my friends with their mothers. Or my friends as Mothers with their children.

Anyway, for what ever reason(s) that was not meant to be. It was just sort of a hard day and I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that along with the woman I never really knew.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Low Profile

I've been keeping a low posting profile since LifeTime. No particular reason -- just not a lot of excitement happening in my life, unless, of course, you count the HEAT that has been happening over much of the US.

We've been training through it -- hill work; lactate threshold runs, etc. Bleah. The marathon is a mere 8 weeks away. We are running a practice 1/2 marathon race this Saturday (the Urban Wildland) and then those dang long runs really spike up for about five weeks until taper starts. I just have to hang in there and get them done.

I will confess that I cheated this last weekend. I was in Chicago for a business meeting last Thursday and Friday. Since I had lived in that FANSTATIC city for a few years, I decided to stay over the weekend and spend some time visiting my good friends Bev and her husband Ron. I had all good intentions to get up at 6:00 am to do a run on Saturday, but the heat and humidity were really off the charts.

I did get a small, but lovely, run in on a treadmill at Bev's health club. No substitute for a full-blown long slow distance, but what do you do?

The heat is supposed to pull back a bit by Wednesday. That will be a very welcome relief.

On other more important news, it is no secret that gas prices are out of this world. Hubby and I are some what lucky in that we live fairly close to downtown and can bus to work some days. I've even been able to ride my bike from time to time.

This whole global warming and oil-thing are very frightening and disconcertng. I read a GREAT article in The Chicago Tribune called "A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble". The article is very long, but well worth the read as it follows the path of oil production from places in Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela all the way to a service station in Elgin, Illinois.

Thomas Friedman, the superb columnist for the New York Times, has written a number of articles about "Petropolitics", which are very interesting. The basic premise is that as the price of oil goes up, the less democratic oil producing states are.

Hubby and I are looking at all sorts of ways to reduce our oil consumption, starting with some "car-free" days every week. We'll bus or bike or walk to where ever we have to go. It is a small start, but some thing within our control to help try to stem the tide.

What are others doing?

Monday, July 17, 2006

It Was What It Was....(Time results for LifeTime)

I'm STILL Number One in my Age Group (and STILL last of all the Athena's that competeted...) but that being said, here are my results from the LifeTime Tri last Saturday == (Note: if you are really interested, the very long, very descriptive report is the posting just prior to this one):

Swim: 1:00:49 Really terrible time. NEXT year, this is where I should be able to really knock some minutes off. Need to do much more open water swimming.
T1 (Transition One): 3:51.03 So happy to just be out of the water, I took a little extra time to appreciate dry land.
Bike: 1:30 Faster than anticipated, but still everyone kept passing ME.
T2 (Transition Two): 3:16 How the heck long does it take to whip off a helmut, rack a bike, put on a race belt and baseball hat and GO????
Run: 39:44 Slower than a normal 5K, but I lollygagged under the waterhose that the Minneapolis Fire Department rigged up for us.
Total: 3:17:39.

Not dead last of all the Oly racers, but pretty darn close. The real point is: I'm not dead.

My great friend Dori found me at the finish line and took a snap of me with her "crap cam". So here I am, in all my post-race glory.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Number One (out of One)

Well, I finished the triathlon -- swim and all.

However, the event had some kinks and I has a "less than stellar" performance in the swim.

The day was very hot and humid. By the start of the race at 8:00 am, the air temp was already in the 80's -- the water temp was 82 degrees. The race officials had been keeping an eye on the forecast for the day and at about 7:40 am, they announced that the Olympic distance for age-groupers and relay teams would be cut back a bit. Professionals and Elites had to do the full distance for each section. Others, including the Athena's, had to do the full swim (0.9 miles); but our bike got cut back by about 3.5 miles and the run by a full 5K (3.1). This means my totals were 0.9 swim; 21.35 for the bike and 3.1 for the run.

Official race results have not been posted, but my total time was 3:17 and some odd seconds. Last for all the Athena's (17th), with two either no shows or DNF (Did Not Finish) behind me.

However, I was the 1st Athena in my age group. (What that really means is that every one else in my wave was younger than me. Much younger.) Still and all, I should be able to have some fun telling people that I was first in my age group BEFORE I tell them the truth. Might as well bask in the glory for at least a second or two.

While I was waiting in queue for my heat to start, I chatted with some of the other women in my group. Most of them had done the event the year before. We shared some tips and had some giggles. There was a woman that had a megaphone across from us and I kept thinking that I knew that voice. I DID. It was Dori. It was so good to see her! I had not seen her since before her Grandma's event. She gave me a shot of encouragement and a hug and we were off!

The swim was tough for me. The route was a triangle and I got to the first buoy pretty easily. Fortunately, there were a number of support people out there. I took a break at the first buoy and then started on the very long stretch to the next turn around point. That is where I started to have some troubles.

As predicted, the heats that started the race after mine started to catch up with me, and soon other swimmers were bumping in to me, swimming over me and otherwise annoying me. There was a strong breeze which churned up some wave action that I had to swim against. Many times I'd do six strokes, pull my head up and found my self in basically the same place I had started. I got frustrated and a little nervous. The water was very deep (about 30 feet), which I hate. The support people along this stretch were positioned further apart. I'd poke my head up to site and, after a number of very bad words spoken aloud, I basically made up my mind to just simply swim from one support person to the next support person. I used the crawl; side stroke, back stroke, breast stroke and my good old friend, the dog paddle.

To borrow the slogan from my home state, the great state of Wisconsin, I just keep trying to move Ever Forward.

Finally, finally, finally I got to the second buoy and turned toward the beach to get back to shore. It still took me painfully long time to reach a spot in the lake where I could touch the bottom. Hallelujah and hooray, I got out of the lake and moved to T1. (Swim time was about a pitiful 1:00:00)

On my way back in to the Transition Area, I saw my loving Hubby and my SIL (sister-in-law), who came to cheer me on. Other friends were positioned along the chute: Angel and Carla (my IronWoman friends); Kathy T and Bea, my running friends. It was GREAT to see them there.

T1 went pretty well -- and I was off on the bike route. I'd ridden the course many times during my training, so I knew what to expect. I refueled by drinking my Endurance Formula Gatorade and just tried to keep positive and in the moment. (Meaning, trying to beat myself up too badly about my swim). I felt that I rode pretty well -- but again, not exactly sure of my time. By the time I got back in to T2, it was 2:39:00 on my watch.

My thigh was acting up (from what ever strange thing happened to it on Friday night) so it talked loudly to me as I was starting the run, however, miracle of miracles, I felt okay during the run. I did walk a bit -- it was now in the 90's, with high humidity and sun that wouldn't quit.

Some very kind spectators were out on the run course with bags of ice and extra water. The Minneapolis Fire Department had a truck out hooked up to a huge mister/sprinkler. Most runners took their sweet time while running through that spot.

I turned the final corner to the chute and came through at 3:17 something. There were volunteers at the chute that gave us towels that had been soaked in ice cold water. Boy, did THAT feel great!

I saw Dori at the finish, but Hubby and SIL were no where to be found. I borrowed Dori's cell phone and called him. They were still waiting for me to come in from the bike portion! He thought my time was excellent for the event. I'm just happy that I finished in one piece.

Marcia and Natalie also participated in the Sprint event -- although I did not see them there. The event was HUGE -- probably 2,000 participants. However, I did hear that they both finished and were pleased with their results.

I'll post official times when I get them... until then....

I'll bask in the glory of being #1 in my Age-Group (1 out of 1, that is).