Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Greetings from Santa Fe, New Mexico!

Hubby and I are here, along with my sister and brother-in-law (aka BIL). We're here visiting BIL's parents, his brother and his brother's wife. We are all having a blast enjoying the wonderful sights of the town and mountains and just relaxing together.

Prior to coming here, we were all in Las Vegas for four days. My sister's birthday was week and she wanted to go to Las Vegas to celebrate. Hubby and I LOVE Las Vegas (we were married there), so when my sister invited us to come along on the trip, we gladly accepted.

We stayed at Paris and had a great time. We gambled at a number of casinos. Hubby and I like playing craps and, although we didn't win a lot, we held our own at the tables. We spent Sunday watching football in the Sports/Book areas at Planet Hollywood and The Mirage, watching two different games. We walked the Strip, ate great food and Hubby and I even had a chance to golf.

We got to Santa Fe yesterday -- just in time to participate in the farolito walk the town as part of their celebration for Christmas eve. All the shops, churches, hotels and many residences line their sidewalks and rooftops with farolitos -- luminaries -- and the everyone in the town strolls the city. It is beautiful.

The main section for walkers is Canyon Road, which is lined with galleries. Some galleries are open during part of the walk, but for the most part the street is just filled with people and dogs out walking and enjoying the evening.

We had a great time. The weather was cold and crisp, and the sky was wonderfully clear lit by a bright, white full moon.

This morning, we went to my BIL's parent's house and had a very yummy brunch. It was a very peaceful and easy holiday.

Tonight, my sister, BIL, Hubby and I went to a great little place -- the Del Charro Saloon, where we sat in front of a raging fire, ate great (and inexpensive) food and just had a ball.

We have a couple more days of fun and then go back home on Friday. It will be great to get back in to a routine, see the cats (who are hanging with Sabrina...) and welcome in 2008.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter -- bleah

Man, have we had a turn of weather since Turkey Day!

San Francisco and the Thanksgiving holiday were both wonderful. The weather was clear, sunny and unusually warm while Hubby and I were visiting with the rest of the family.

We were all out at Stinson Beach, which is a wonderful stretch of land near San Francisco. The trip was fun and very relaxing. It was really great to visit my family.

We came back to cold and grey weather though and it has only gotten worse since then.

The snow started on December 1st.... just in time for the Reindeer Run, a 5K race held every year at Lake Harriet.

The race was event that the team I had been coaching (Marianne and Sangreal) had been training for.

Everyone met at my house, since I live so close to the Lake. The Reindeer Run always attracts hundreds of runners (literally) so it is just easier to park at the house, use warm, dry "facilities" and then head off to the start line.

Marianne has been a friend of mine for a long time. She's part of my running group and was making her running come back after taking a little time off during the last year.

Sangreal is new to running. She is peppy, kind, funny and a darn good runner. Reindeer Run was her first race ever and she was raring to go!

As we were leaving my house, the snow flakes started to fall, and fall, and fall. By the time the race started, the snow was sticking to the ground and by the time we all crossed the finish line, there was actual 'accumulation'. (Accumulation is what us folks from the Snow Belt call any snow coverage that you actually have to shovel).

We all finished the event in fine form -- and I was very proud of both of them.
We tried to take a self-portrait after the event, and you can see for your self how well that worked...Oh well, the photo is still pretty cute and you can see how happy every one is to have finished!
And just like that, my 2007 race season was over...
Winter, however, was just starting and it has been cold and snowy ever since.

I'm already sick of the cold and am longing for golf, green and running unfettered by layers of clothing.


At least we are only eight days away from the solstice and then the days start getting longer!

(I'm practicing optimism. Is it working??)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A week of Thanks

Here comes Thanksgiving!
Although who would know it, with all the ho-ho-ho-liday advertisements, catalogs and merchandise in the stores?

Our mailbox is jammed every day with catalogs, the bell-ringin' folks are already positioned outside stores and offices collecting money in red kettles, and pretty much every elevator I've gotten in to lately is playing some version of some holiday song -- traditional Jingle Bells; Techo-Jingle Bells; Alvin and the Chipmunks Jingle Bells...

I certainly can understand that retailers are a little worried about their sales this year. What, with gas over $3.00 a gallon and the adjustable rate mortgage problems, there is a whole lot less money available for cool presents to give / receive this year.

But the merchandisers and marketers are really pushing the calendar this year, in my opinion.

Heck, there was holiday stuff out in some stores as early as September.

Can we just slow down a little? Can we enjoy the moment and season we are in? Puleeze???

Let's give a little time and respect to the November holidays: my birthday (okay, so it isn't an official holiday, it is a day that is special to me....) and Thanksgiving.

This year, Hubby and I will be traveling to San Francisco to spend time with my brother, his wife, one of my nieces, my older sister, my sister-in-law's mom and who knows who else. My younger sister and her husband will stay here this year, and Hubby's kids spend the day with their mom. Sabrina has to work on Friday, so after she spend some time with her mom and family, she'll be back at our house with the cats.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing my family, hanging out for a few days, being relaxed and having some fun.

Why else do I love Thanksgiving? You mean besides the food (yum) and the fact I can sleep in pretty much as long as I want to?

I love the whole concept of taking some time this week to be conscious about giving thanks and being grateful.

During my "normal" life, I sometimes forget to practice gratitude. I try to remember to list the things I'm grateful for every night -- at least in my head, but sometimes I fall asleep too fast to get through the list.

I also find that running or just being outside allows me some space to say a little "thank you" to the gods above for my life, my health, my friends and my family.

This week, though, is the time of year where being grateful "out loud" comes easier:

1) I'm grateful for my health. I spent years abusing my body with too much alcohol and too much food. It hung in there with me until I could get it together. Now I try to treat it with some respect by eating better (not perfectly but much better), not drinking at all, and embracing physical activity. It's my little way of saying "thanks for not giving up on me".

2) I'm grateful for my Hubby. A man who makes me laugh every day, who is kind and loving and handsome. He is caring, interesting and very smart -- plus, he puts up with my shenanigans on a daily basis. I love him with my whole heart.

3) I'm grateful for my friends: my sister and probably my best friend, Tina, Mary K, Marcia, Nat, Adrienne, Cheryl, Dori, Bev, Liz, Cindy, Ginna, Kathy T, Bea, Nancy, Mary B, Amy P, Luis, Gary, Adam, David, Marty, Tom, Derek. These are people I've know forever or for just a short time and each has taught me many important things either through experience or by example or both.

4) I'm grateful for my family. I miss my parents more than I can express, but I'm very glad that I have good relationships with my siblings, with Hubby's children (although I'm pretty sure they both sometimes consider me to be the Evil Step Mom), his parents and his siblings.

5) I'm grateful for having a ROCKING year running and doing tri's. I PR'd in every event but one this year. For an middle-aged broad, that is pretty darn good.

6) I'm grateful for my cats. Gorby, Callie, Lefty and Kirby are all bundles of joy that I could not live with out.

I'm grateful for dinner, which Hubby just made for me and is hot and waiting for me on the table. He is calling, so I've got to run for now....

If I don't get back to post before Thursday, I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2007

One one-thousand, Two two-thousand,

Three three-thousand....

That is all it would have taken for me to set a PR at New York City marathon last Sunday: three tiny seconds.

(For all you non-runners PR is runner lingo for "personal record").


Not having a PR is really the only disappointment that happened over the weekend though. All in all, the trip was great, the marathon was wonderful, even if challenging. Hubby, Sabrina and I all had a very good time in the Big Apple.

Besides participating in the event, we got a chance to see the city and to spend some time with one of my very close friends, Adrienne, who lives in NYC. The other sad thing for me was that we did not get a chance to connect with my niece, Chelesa, who is also a New Yorker.

We flew in to LaGuardia on Saturday morning. The weather in NYC was not so wonderful -- Hurricane Noel was in its last throes, causing cloud cover and a lot of wind. Fortunately all of this was to die out during the course of the day and Marathon Sunday was expected to be perfect marathon weather: cool and partly cloudy.

We went to the Marathon Expo and I found the Toyota people. I got my entry in to NYC Marathon as part of the Engines of Change team. The rest of the team that was picked for the event had met earlier in the day for a photo op so I was not able to meet other athletes. I did get a chance to meet some of the Toyota people and representatives from Active who work with Toyota on the Engines of Changecampaign.

There was a film crew there that was filming the hubbub at the booth. They spent a little time interviewing me -- which was kind of fun. Watch for the video on YouTube. (Ha ha).

After the Expo, we checked in to our hotel, which was very close to the center of Times Square. Then we wandered around looking for dinner. My entry included a ticket for the Marathon pasta party, but I felt that Hubby and Sabrina -- good troopers that they are -- had had enough Marathon fun for the day and it was time to do something nice for them.

We found a little deli near our hotel and had a nice, relaxing dinner. I went back to the hotel and hit the hay while Hubby and Sabrina hit the streets to people watch and have some fun.

I had to be up at the crack o'dawn to catch one of the race buses over to the start line in Staten Island. At 5:15 am, Hubby and Sabrina walked with me from the hotel to the Public Library, where scores of buses were lined up waiting for anxious marathoners to board.

I waved goodbye to Hubby and Sabrina, boarded a bus and the adventure was underway.

NYC Marathon requires that all runners arrive at the start, which is at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, well before the 10:10 am general corral start. My bus arrived at 6:15 am. The early arrival results in a lot of "hurry up and wait" activities: go to the portapotty; find some water; go to the portapotty again; find some tea and a bagel; chat with some people; go to the portapotty again; and repeat.

Fortunately, there were some great bands playing music and I got a chance to chat with other runners from Norway, Germany and the UK.

Finally, finally, finally it was time to line up for the start. As I was looking for the 5:00 hour New Balance Pace team, I got a call from my friends Mary K and Dori, who had both just finished a run back in Minneapolis. They called to wish me good luck. That was a very special call to me.

I finally found Larry the Pacer and positioned myself with his team. Larry, by the by, is a veteran of 80 marathons. That is pretty darn impressive. As I lined up with the pace group, I was feeling pretty confident that I could make a 5:00 or 5:15 goal time. (HA!)

The cannon went off, the crowd cheered and we were off! The Verrazano is a double-decked bridge and I was in one of the Corrals that got to run on the top of the Verrazano. This is good for two reasons: 1) the view, which was spectacular and 2) if anyone pees over the side of the bridge -- and people did -- you avoided the sprinkle.

The bridge covers the first two miles of the course: a little more than one mile is UP the bridge, which is made of concrete. My legs, not exactly "peak training fresh" felt both the incline and the unforgiving concrete. The bridge was my introduction to the many challenges of the course.

The route winds through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and then back in to Manhattan for a big finish in Central Park.

The crowds along the course were absolutely amazing. Lots of people cheering, clapping, encouraging. I don't think I've heard crowds so loud for so much of the coures. It was actually kind of nice when I hit a couple of the quiet patches. I could regain some concentration.

The course also employed over 100 bands sprinkled along various places on the route, which was also great. I heard some great music, which also took my mind off my quivering legs.

I also got to see parts of the city I had never seen before, which in all, it was all wonderful.

The not-so-great parts involved:

Losing Larry the Pacer early in the game. (My fault: I took off ahead of him on the Verrazano (like an idiot).

I also got off my "run 7/ walk 1" routine early because I couldn't hear the beep of my watch signaling the switch from run to walk.

I also had to use the portapotty right before the 5K mark, which is never a good thing. The line wasn't so bad, but the woman in line before me took F O R E V E R to do her business. I lost no less than 5 minutes waiting for her to wrap it up so I could do my thing.

My legs really had not been feeling fresh during the stretch of time between Chicago and NYC. Chicago's course is pretty flat; NYCs is very hilly between the bridges and the inclines of the streets. I got fatigued pretty early and had only glimpses of a second wind or two during the event.

I finally got to see Hubby and Sabrina at mile 16, at a spot right after the route crosses the Queensboro Bridge (aka the "Torture Bridge from Hell") in to Manhattan. It was a great pick-me-up to see them for a nanosecond before I trotted up 1st Avenue and in to the Bronx.

At a couple of different spots, I ran in to a couple other of the Engines of Change runners: Megan from Chicago and Dennis from L.A. We chatted for a bit and then went our own paces to the finish.

The final push from the Bronx, over one last *)%#(% bridge in to Manhattan was very cool. A sound system was playing Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York" -- the crowds were very encouraging and I knew I only had that last -- very long -- stretch down 5th Avenue to Central Park and the finish.

Unfortunately, I was very tired by this time. I was doing my best to just concentrate on moving forward. I would run seven minutes, take a minute walk break and then run until I hit the water stop, which were located at each mile marker. I'd walk through the water stop and then run again. I did this for the last five miles of the event.

I was also very disappointed in myself because I was pretty sure that I would NOT have that illusive PR...I just was not sure how bad my time would actually be.

That last turn in to Central Park was a godsend. There were still thick crowds lining the course and that helped. Apparently Hubby and Sabrina were part of the crowd at mile 26. I didn't see or hear them as I passed. I was way too in the "I just wanna finish this thing" mode.

There were also lots of hills in the park, which did not help. I just kept going and going and going until I could finally see the signs that marked the last 400 yards, then 300 yards, then 200 yards, then the finish.

I crossed the finish and was THRILLED to have done the race and to be DONE. I got my medal (yeah!) Got through the finish corral and went to the Runner Reunite area to find Hubby and Sabrina waiting for me. Hubby snapped this picture of me -- I think I look pretty pathetic and spent.

The next day, Hubby, Sabrina and I walked -- (okay, I hobbled) around the city. We went to Ground Zero and Wall Street. Ground Zero is quite sobering, even so many years after the horrific event.

We also went to 5th Avenue and looked around Tiffany's, F.A.O. Schwartz and the biggest Apple Store on the planet.

The Apple Store was jam-packed with people testing out all the cool gizmos. I finally got a chance to look up my race results on a MAC at the store:

Final time: 5:36:45. My second best marathon time.
Best time recorded for me: 5:36:43 -- Grandma's Marathon, 2003.

So, PR'd on a flatter course, when I was much younger.... I suppose there is something to be said for that!

Give me a second -- or three -- and I'll come up with cool thing to say...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Could this TAPER last any LONGER????

Holy cow!

I feel like I've been tapering for a million years.

Chicago Marathon was supposed to be my fall race. I was trained, primed and ready.

Then -- the race fiasco...not enough water or Gatorade; horribly high temps along with that lovely midwest humidity. The race officials closed down the race -- bringing home thousands of runners before the end of the event.

Closing the race was the smart thing to do given the conditions -- although I do have lots of mixed feelings about the decision and having to be rerouted to the end.

New York Marathon was to be my "fun" event. The course is open for 8 hours (although if you finish after 6.5 hours, you don't get a medal). I figured I could really take my time, do a lot of walking, enjoy the day...


Now I have to run the event for "real" and it is still over a week away. The race is Sunday, November 4th.

I've been running fairly religiously since Chicago, including one last long run last week of 19 miles. That run was brutal. I hurt everywhere.

Taper can be very hard. Cutting back mileage, still have a huge and hearty appetite; feel sluggish and a little unmotivated. This one has been going on since two weeks BEFORE Chicago. Enough already!

Having said that, I will also say that I have had some really great runs on Monday/Wednesday evenings. Since "official" training is over I've had to hit the trails by myself a couple evenings.

I've seen deer along the downtown trail three separate times during these runs. I love seeing deer. First, I think they are beautiful, graceful animals. Second, I think they are good luck.

With the sun going down so early now, the deer come out to look for food. It is amazing how many live within the city border. The full Hunter's Moon is also quite a wonder to behold on my runs. The moon is very full and very bright just adding to the very peaceful feel out on the trails.

One more taper 'long' run tomorrow (about 8 miles) and then I just have to wait out the week until we leave for NY.

I'm hoping that I'm still trained enough to have a good race. I'm excited for the crowds, I'm excited for the trip. I'm excited to be traveling with Hubby and Sabrina. I'm not so excited about the "hills" (aka bridges), but should hopefully be able to handle them with the grace of a deer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicago -- One Hot Race

Finally getting back to posting here. I've been very swamped with work and travel and training. I barely have time to READ blogs, much less post anything.

Today, a moment appeared and I'm here blogging and drinking coffee. What could be better?

My great friends Marcia, Nat, Cheryl, Mary and I all trained long and hard during a hot, humid Minnesota summer so we could toe the line on October 7th to run Chicago Marathon.

We flew down to Chicago on Friday, along with Hubby, Marcia's husband, Marty and Mary's love, Tom. All of us were very excited about the weekend, but concerned about the weather reports. Forecasts were for hot, humid conditions. We had so many training runs during hot, humid conditions -- we were sick of running through pea soup and had been hoping for a crisp, cool fall day.

This was not to be the case.

Most of us stayed at the Chicago Hostel -- located a very short distance from the start and finish line of the marathon. The Hostel was great! Very inexpensive, free breakfast, free pasta dinner before the marathon, wonderful staff. We stayed six to the room and slept in bunk beds. It was like being back in college.

We hit the Expo on Friday afternoon with 40 hours, 55 minutes and 54 seconds to go until race start time. Great booths with a lot more "stuff" than the expo at Twin Cities. (Bigger money poured in to Chicago Marathon). Crowds at the Expo were feeling excited -- again, much of the talk was about the weather.

We all met at Carmine's on Rush Street for a delicious dinner -- although our waiter, Dino, pulled a slight "waiter" trick by ordering us a "fabulous appetizer to share, served family style". What we got was platter after platter of appetizers -- shrimp, calamari, sausage, oysters, bruschetta, and more and more and more. Great food, too much of it and very expensive.

We were all so full after dinner that we walked back to the Hostel via Michigan Avenue. It was great to be back in the city, enjoying each other's company, window shopping and taking in the sites. I love Chicago -- and was really happy to be there with my friends.

Saturday was full of fun for Hubby and me. We took the "el" up to Evanston to meet my friend Bev and her husband Ron for lunch. On the way back to the city, we stopped at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies were playing the Diamond Backs -- it was the third playoff game in their series. Hubby wanted to get photos and we both wanted to soak in the atmosphere. We hung around there until the beginning of the 3rd inning -- Cubs were behind. It was to stay that way until the end, and, just like that, the Cubs were out of the series.

I did have a chance to ask some of the Fireguys at the firehouse outside the ballpark if the city was going to have hydrants open for the marathoners on Sunday. The head of the House said "Ask the Commissioner -- he is right over there", and pointed to his left.

Commissioner Orozco was at the game, milling around with us regular folk. I went up to him, introduced myself and asked if the hydrants would be open. He said "Oh, we have something better than that for you -- HUGE misters will be at the end of the race".

The second I hear him say "end", I thought we were going to be in trouble. Having run Grandma's and Twin Cities marathons in unseasonably hot weather, I knew that we runners need relief early and often. Misters are great, but only if they are used early on. He indicated that the misters would be in use by mile 20 and beyond.

Hubby and I got back on the Train, got back to the Hostel and then the girls and I started to finalize our race prep.

Sunday morning came fast -- we all got dressed and headed out the door. The sun was just coming up over the lake, which was just beautiful. It was warm but not horrible -- yet. We stretched, went to the portypotties and then lined up in our respective pace areas.

Nat and I lined up with the 5:15 group. We chatted with other runners until the gun went off and slowly started making our way to the start line. It took us 21 minutes to cross the start, but we were finally off and running.

The heat and humidity caught up to us FAST. Nat had agonized about whether or not to bring a water bottle and by the time we hit the first mile, she was very happy she did.

We hit the first water stop -- no water, no Gatorade. They were all out. This was not a good sign. I think that this also started to impact runners mentally. "If they are already out of supplies, what will happen when we get to the other water stop?" This caused us to get a little panicky.

I had Gatorade with me and I shared what I had with Natalie. My back-up plan during races is always to carry money with me. I figure if I get in to real trouble, I have cash to buy supplies or make a phone call or get a cab ride home.

Our pace was strong, but we were hot and Natalie was getting a little nervous. Water stop number two: Again, no water, no Gatorade. All gone.

Now, runners are really getting nervous. Fortunately, because I had lived in Chicago, I knew were a couple of convenience stores were along the route. At North Avenue and LaSalle, there was a gas station to our right that was mobbed with runners looking to buy water or Gatorade. We went in to the gas station, but it was too chaotic to stay there.

We left the station and went to the left of North/LaSalle to a Walgreens. It wasn't crowded at all and Nat and I were able to buy water and Gatorade. That was a huge help. We drank the water, splashed each others back and head and soaked our bandanna's. (I also always carry a bandanna with me during runs. When it is hot, I drench it with water and use it to cool my face. That is always a huge help.)

We kept on and got in to Lincoln Park. At the third water stop (about mile 5 or so), they volunteers had just received their extra water supplies. The runners actually mobbed the volunteers trying to get a drink. It was surreal.

We kept on going -- still very hot, pretty pissed off about the lack of supplies, but we kept trying to move one foot in front of the other. I kept telling Nat stories about when I used to live in Chicago to help keep her mind off of being hot and on to other things.

The crowds were great, which was also very helpful.

We hit the next water stop and finally found some Gatorade and water. I heard volunteers tell each other that what they were giving out was the last of their supplies. I was worried about our friends that were behind us. My guess was that they had not had any aide at the stops as of yet.

I was right. Cheryl, Marcia and Mary didn't get any aide at the stops until mile eight or so. Way too long to go without hydrating.

Fortunately, there were people that had hoses out and were spraying runners down and /or filling their water bottles, but they were few and far between.

We made our way back in to the Loop -- saw Nat's parents and boyfriend right before the 1/2 point and then saw Hubby and Tom before we turned out from the Loop towards Greektown.

We were on pace for our 5:15 finish -- but I knew that we'd have to figure out a way to get cooler or reduce our pace.

The 1/2 way point came and went and FINALLY saw that the members of the Fire Department were out with a giant hose spraying the crowd. RELIEF!

That, plus a Clif Shot, helped us to get a bit of a second wind. Nat kept saying "Let's just get to 17; then we can get to 20 and then it's a 10k to the finish".

I could do that! I knew I could.

Crowds were still great and at about mile 15, a woman had a bag of ICE. She handed it to me and I shared it with Nat and a couple other runners.

We could hear lots of sirens but we tried very hard to keep the sounds out of our head.

Right foot, left foot; right foot, left foot.

I saw one woman lying on the side of the road. She had some folks tending to her and looked tired, but coherent.

Right foot, left foot; right foot, left foot.

Mile 16 came and went. I expected us to turn to the right to move towards the Pilsen neighborhood. At almost the 17th mile, I saw Hubby, Tom and Marty. That was a great boost.

We kept running and I was thinking -- "When do we turn? We should turn soon!" Then, a young woman runner came up to me and asked, "Is it true? Are they shutting down the course?"

I thought she meant will they shut down the course if we didn't make the 6 1/2 hour time limit. I replied, "Yes, they do shut the course down after 6 1/2 hours, but that we were on our way to make it way before then."

Then I heard someone else say that they were shutting down the race because of the heat conditions.

BOOM. That was that.

I noticed that runners had stopped running -- that spectators were out in the street with us. Many people were on cell phones, checking Blackberries and PDAs to get the final word on the race. It was true -- the race was closing down.

Nat's boyfriend was standing along the route again and found us. He walked with us back to the finish area. I used his cell phone to call Hubby to let him know to meet us back at Grant Park.

I didn't know it at the time, but Hubby said that right after we saw them at mile 17, the Course Officials came by and closed the course. There was a group of Firefighters behind the Official and they opened up all the hydrants along the course. Hubby snapped the picture to the left, which shows the scene.

When Nat and I got back to the park, we decided to run it in to the finish. The Course Officials had us head to the chute the back way -- meaning we can in to the finish from the end of the race and ran it backwards to the finish line.

Nat and I crossed the line at 4:02 -- that was our total time for about 20 miles of running.

Marcia, Cheryl and Mary all were rerouted shortly after the 1/2 -- the Officials did not have their groups cross the finish, but everyone got well deserved medals.

All of us are disappointed that we didn't get a chance to finish the course. We all know that we could have made it -- it would not have been pretty, but we did feel like we had it in us to make the distance.

Having said that, we know that the Race Officials made the right call to close the course. Over 300 runners were impacted by the heat; one man died (although the official word is that he had a heart condition that caused his death...).

The biggest issue I have with the event is the Race Officials claim that supplies at all the stops were adequate. This just was not the case.

We are all happy that we finished what we were allowed to with minimal problems. Nat and Cheryl have decided to run Des Moines Marathon -- to finish what they started. I have
New York Marathon to look forward to in a few weeks. Marcia and Mary are going to concentrate their efforts on the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon in February... so we'll all be back on the running pony soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy these next couple of recovery days and being back at home!

Friday, August 10, 2007

August already....

Once again, I'm shocked at how fast time has flown.

LifeTime tri seems like eons ago -- it's been almost a month since the event.

Last weekend, I ran in the Urban Wildland 1/2 marathon. The day was cool but very humid and a little drizzly. I ran with a bunch of my friends from my running club. We all had successful days, with several of us posting PRs. I ran the 1/2 in 2:16 -- about 3 minutes faster than my 1/2 at Grandma's.

I'm very happy with my running so far this year. That heart rate training stuff really works. (I suppose that losing weight certainly helps too...) I'm hoping that I can stay healthy and strong between now and Chicago Marathon, which is less than 2 months away.

I've been jammed up at work -- Sale Conferences, traveling, projects due. Earlier this week I was in Salt Lake City for a few days for work. SLC is actually a very pretty city -- clean, walkable, designed for people to actually live downtown (meaning complete with grocery stores, parks and other people amenities.)

I got a fun workout in "running" up a canyon. There are some trails that will take up up the mountain through a park -- all very beautiful. I had a much easier time running down than up. SLC's elevation is over 4,000 feet. Minneapolis is only 900 some feet. Big difference.

I also took their light rail to the University of Utah one morning so I could swim at the Steiner Aquatic Center. The U of U campus is very pretty. Parts of it are relatively new -- rebuilt for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which were held in SLC and Park City, which is a mountain town close to SLC.

The Aquatic Center was great. They have a huge indoor pool (25 meter lengths) and a really terrific outdoor lane pool with 50 meter lengths. I swam outside. That was really wonderful. Warm sunshine, great pool and mountains all around me.

Hubby and I have been golfing quite a bit. We played a very fun 18 hole public course near our house last weekend -- very hilly and challenging but a lot of fun. I'm very glad that we have an outdoor hobby that we can really enjoy.

The Sales Conference and travel have gotten my eating and sleeping a bit off track...no disastrous consequences, but I know that I need to get back in to the routine of getting lots of rest and eating right.

Plans for this weekend: golf league tonight; long run tomorrow (16 miles); visit with my cousin, who is in town for a week, on Sunday.

Plans for next week: get through two days of work and then finally have a few days of vacation to gear up my training and to relax. Yee ha!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Weekend Race Results for All

LifeTime Triathlon was last Saturday. The event was great fun, combined with some work, some sweat and some unusual occurrences.

Minneapolis has hosted the event for several years. The event includes both an Olympic distance and a Sprint distance tri. It attracts professional tri people, who are racing for big money (the winner received $120,000 this year) along with Elite athletes and several thousand other regular Janes and Joes like me.

I raced in the Olympic distance event: swim = 0.9 miles/bike = 24.8 miles/ run = 6.2 miles.

This was the third year I participated -- my second year doing the Olympic, or Oly, distance.

Last year, the event was held on the hottest day of the summer. The temps reached the high 90's by early morning, along with drenching humidity. The race officials shortened the course last year for the Oly distance. We swam 0.9, biked about 20 miles and ran a 5k (3.1 miles).

This year, the weather gods smiled kindly upon us, so there was no reason to shorten the course. The temps were in the low 60's in the morning and the dew point was very reasonable. The lake temp was low enough to make the event "wet suit legal", which was music to my ears.

I also got to participate as a Team Toyota sponsored athlete. There were nine of us in total on the Team. We all got to meet each other the day prior to the event at the event's Expo. Each of them were very nice people and it was fun to spend part of the day with them.

Last year, the lake temp was in the low 80's -- pretty much tepid bath water. Wet suits were not allowed. It took me one hour to cover the distance swim distance. (I obviously take my time during the swim. The distance is one reason. The "water over my head" is another reason.)

This year, I got out of the water in just over 50 minutes -- a 10 minute gain over last year. The buoyancy of the wet suit helped boost my confidence in ability handling the deep and choppy water. I still stopped more than I probably should have, but still had a good swim time.

I did have some cramping in my calves during the swim (unusual occurrence number one) and my goggles leaked a bit, but neither of those events were distressing enough for me to quit.

My transition was pretty smooth, although I had to stop at the porta-potty before hitting the bike course. That was unusual occurrence number two: the number of times I had to pee* during this event.

(* Runners who read this blog will know that we spend an enormous amount of time detailing our bathroom habits with each other. The "natural" topic ranks as one of our top 10 race day concerns... Non-running friends, I promise that that will be the last reference to it in this entry. Just know I had to go a lot.)

The bike course winds through the Parkway system and is beautiful. It was very windy on the course, which was sometimes helpful (tailwind) and other times, not so much (headwind). I also dropped my chain about 4 miles before the end, which was a big drag. Fortunately, I could fix this quickly, but I did lose some time.

Transition to run was easy and I felt pretty good going out. The course was two loops around the Lake. I kept an eye on my heart rate and just plugged along. It helped that Hubby was out on on the course way and I also saw my very good friends Dori, Marcia, Sarah and AmyK who all came out to watch the event.

I finished in 3:40:09.
Swim = 50:50 (3.23 min/100 yds)
T1 = 5:34 (the "P" factor...)
Bike = 1:35 (15.6 mph)
T2= 2:37
Run = 1:05 (10:31/mile)

Overall, sort of on the slow side, but DONE! And much better than last year, where my swim was a 4.03 min/100 yds, my bike was 14.9 mph and my run was 13.14/mile.

I also won my second-ever event award. Last year, I won 1st place for Athena's 40 - 49. (There was only one of us -- me).

This year, I came in 2nd in that category (of 3...but still SECOND!). Hubby got my stats breakdown after the event and it indicated that I won 2nd place. We were getting ready to leave and I looked at the awards board and saw my name in lights! That was (honestly) pretty cool.

My friends Marcia and Nat had their triathlon event the next day. They both participated in the Heart of the Lakes triathlon, located in a town about an hour outside of the Twin Cities.

I drove down to watch my friends and the event. The event was very well organized, had over 1,000 participants and the course looked interesting. It was a beautiful day to race.

Both of my friends were slated for later heats and came out of the water looking strong. Nat kicked some major butt during the bike event and finished with a very strong run. She took 10th place in her age category.

I didn't see Marcia during the bike portion, but did get to see her hammer towards the run finish, with her omnipresent smile stretching from ear to ear. She placed 6th in her bracket.

I really am lucky to run and train with such wonderful women, who inspire me on a daily basis. They don't know this, but many times while I'm out on a course and in a tough moment, I think of them and they help push me through every time.

Cheers to them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Tuesday, so this must be Portsmouth...

I flew out here at the crack of dawn today to deliver some training to some of my work colleagues here.

I love this town. I've been here four times and each time has been really wonderful.

Portsmouth is a very cute New England coastal town. The houses are great, the town square a wonderful place to walk, drink coffee and window shop. The harbour is fantastic...

I've done some great running here too. Tonight was no exception. I only went out for about 35 minutes, but I'm really supposed to be tapering. LifeTime Fitness triathlon is Saturday. I went out tonight to work through a few cobwebs, run off some calories from dinner and to try to relax a bit.

I have one more long swim tomorrow morning and then I'll really pull back on the training to try to shore up some energy and glycogen before Saturday.

Great thing about the web: when traveling for work, I can plug in the name of the town I'm visiting, the sport I want to do and voila! A list of places to "do my thing" pops up. I'll be swimming in the community pool -- should be good...

The swim is my biggest concern. I've struggled a bit during the last couple tri's during the swim and the LifeTime swim is significantly longer (0.9 miles as opposed to 0.3 miles).

Tomorrow, the goal is to swim a mile, just so I know I can do it.

One other little thing that I've forgotten to mention: I'm actually a sponsored athlete (!). Toyota's Engine of Change campaign is sponsoring 130 athletes of all ages and abilities from across the country this year.

I filled out an application and they picked me as one of 10 people to represent LifeTime. Kind of a cool thing. I get a uniform to race in, get to participate at the Expo and have a bio on the website.

I can also say that I'm a sponsored athlete and watch all those faster, younger, smugger runners look at me in absolute amazement. Not because they are in awe, but more because they can't figure it out!

Hurray for the older, slower athletes like me!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Tri, Tri again....

I participated in the Freedom Triathlon on the 4th of July.

Hubby was very wonderful support -- especially as he had to get up at the crack of dawn to come with me as my support person for the event. Package pickup was at 6:15 am, which meant we had to leave the house at 5:30 am.

The event was marked as a 0.3 swim/13.5 mile bike/ 3 mile run, but found out that it was badly mis-marked. It was not USTA sanctioned -- which explained alot:

The event was not very well organized. The transition area was not set up in to age groups for racking (bikes). This meant it was first come, first serve. The lanes were very narrow, so space was incredibly tight.

I ended up in an okay spot, but did have some problems during the transition from bike to run as other athletes who had finished the event were milling about in the transition area. I was obviously still racing, but these (guys) would not budge out of the way. Grrrr.

The swim was in Medicine Lake, which had recently been on the news because of historically low lake levels. We had to wade out pretty far to get to the start sight, which was an "in water" start in depths about thigh high.

I thought the swim went better at this event, but it took me longer to complete it -- 21:31. I did have to stop at each buoy to catch my breath -- I did not have an asthma issue this time around, but still get very hyper in the water, which causes me to breath badly and then my swim form gets lost.

Turns out the course was longer than 0.3 miles. The race director thinks it may have been just under 0.5 miles. That give me a little hope that I'll be able to handle the 0.9 miles for LifeTime.

The bike was 14 miles out in farm land. Very pretty -- somewhat hilly. Long, gradual increasing grade hills. I had a pretty good ride -- but again felt slow: 54:04 (15.5 mph).

The run was incredibly fast -- if it was truly 3 miles (not!). Turns out it was only about 2.5 to 2.75 miles. I came in at 23.31...-- still under 10 minutes per mile. HURRAY!

Finish time was 1:43:49, so 1:10 over my tri on June 30th.

I have just over a week until LifeTime. I've got enough time to get in a couple of long bike rides and to spend some serious time in the lake.

The rest of the holiday was great. Hubby and I golfed and then grilled steak. I've had the last couple of days off and have been able to get organized, see a couple of friends and other wise relax.

Summer sure is flying by -- but there is plenty of time to still have some fun.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

MinneMan MinneVictory

MinneMan Triathlon was yesterday.

This is the second year I've participated in the event. It's a great tri -- well organized, nice course, fun people.

The really good news is that I had a seven minute PR over my 2006 finish time, crossing the line at 1:42:29.

The not so good news is that my swim was horrible. Really horrible. Horribly horrible.

Last year it took me 13:58 to finish the swim portion. Now, it was also a weird year last year in that the weather was very dicey. It was grey and thundery, which caused the race to have a delayed start. The bad weather also screwed up the lane markers for the swim and the course was actually shorter than 0.3 miles.

This year, the weather was clear and the markers were in their appropriate spots.

The water was only 69 degrees, so wetsuits were allowed -- but the extra buoyancy provided by wearing mine sure didn't help me.

I was fine for a while -- getting my stride in, feeling okay, when all of a sudden I was having big problems breathing.

I have a touch of asthma, which has never been an issue while I've been swimming. Yesterday was the first time that my airways got pinched, breathing became difficult and I panicked.

Combine that with being in water over my head, my swim quickly became a problem. I rested a bit with a couple of guards; kept going forward. Got around the buoy, saw my next rest target, swam up to him and it was Dave , my swim coach.

Talk about feeling like a schmuck. I've been taking lessons from him; getting better and here I am, freaking out in the water, needing a break.

I was holding on to his floater, when someone yelled "help". The real kind of "help", not the wimpy kind of help I call out for. Dave turned, pulled the floater away from me and was gone in a flash.

I just swore under my breath and started paddling for shore.

I got out of the water in 18:54. A full 4:48 OVER last year. Bad news.

The GOOD news is that my bike and my run were good and really good respectively.

I biked the 13 miles in 47.29 (last year it was 52:38).

My run ROCKED. I ran the 3 miles in 29.38. Less than 10 minute miles AFTER the other two sports. Last year I ran the 3 miles in 37.04, so my time this year was significantly better.

My transition times this year were slightly longer than last year, but after all was said and done, I ended up with a respectable PR.

I have another tri on the 4th of July and then the big one -- LifeTime -- on July 14th.

I'm very concerned about my swim portion for LifeTime. Fortunately, I have about two weeks to get ready. But, the truth is that I have not been putting the time in the pool and this may come back to haunt me on July 14th.

I have a lot more updates to blog, but it is getting late, I'm very tired and will have to continue this tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chicago, Chicago....

I had to go to Chicago last week to attend a two-day training workshop. I'm going to take the content of the class, whittle it down for our team at work, repackage it, reconnoiter (is that even a real word?) and then deliver it.

I say "had" -- like 'boo hoo, poor me' very facetiously. I LOVE Chicago. Always have, always will.

I lived there for almost four years during the late '80s. It was a great time in my life for me to be there. I was in my early 30's, single, very independent. I lived very close to Wrigley Field; worked in the suburbs for a couple years (reverse commute rocks) and then in the heart of the loop.

The city is so full of energy and life and always on the go. It was great.

Now when I go back, I either am running the Chicago Marathon or visiting some of the friends I have there. I've been back on business a few times, which is also a fabulous perk.

I stayed at one of my favorite hotel groups: the Kimpton Hotels. The hotels are in many major of the major cities, are a little kitschy, have very comfortable beds, great staff and will send up a goldfish to your room to keep you company.

The training was good -- subject was interesting, fellow participants interesting. Facilitator vacillated between being great and being pompous.

I got up at 5:30 each morning and either ran or took a long walk up and down Michigan Avenue. I had a couple of really great runs along the lake shore from my hotel, down to Navy Pier, up to North Street and back, making for a loop of about five miles.

I found out that a swanky health club in the loop are has reciprocity with my health club so I got in a 1,000 yard swim. This health club is not a big be liver in the concept of "heated pool". The water was a bit brisk. The only reason I could think of was that the triathletes in the city do a lot of their practice and races in Lake Michigan, which is mighty, mighty chilly. That or the club is cheap... Hard to know.

I did see several triathlete in the lake training. All but one were wearing wetsuits. The water was very rough on Saturday morning and one woman I watched seemed to stroke forever before she'd make any forward progress.

Watching those folks reinforced my gratitude that I swim in smallish, warmish, cleanish Minnesota lakes. Makes my triathlon life just a little easier.

Outside of training (attending) and training (doing), I got a chance to spend some time with my very good friend Bev. We had dinner in Evanston on Friday night and then got together Saturday afternoon before I left.

There was an art fair in Evanston that we wandered around, had a great lunch together and lots of laughs.

I got home last night and Hubby leaves today for a business trip of his own. He is going west for several days. We were able to have a nice dinner last night, get a round of golf in today and I'll take him to the airport in about an hour.

My goal for the week is to keep getting ready for MinneMan , which is this Saturday. I feel pretty ready, but need to get in the lake a of couple times and get some good bike rides in.

That, and try to keep up with the huge, giant workload at work.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Grandma's 1/2 -- PR!

Holy cow! What a difference a little heart rate training can make!

I ran Grandma's 1/2 marathon yesterday in Duluth. It was a warm (aka HOT), sticky (aka MUGGY), bright (aka SUNNY) day. Despite all of that, I ran my best 1/2 marathon ever -- 2:19:33.

This is a PR (personal record) of 14 minutes and 4 seconds over my last best time of 2:33:38, which I ran in 2006 at a Holiday Inn 1/2 Marathon event in Rochester MN.

I felt unbelievably good the entire race. I was totally surprised.

A number of my great running pals ran the event too: Marcia and her husband Marty, Kathy T, Bea (who was running her first 1/2), Jen, Natalie, Carla, Bev, Rick, among others. We all had our own "plan" for the day. Some were going to run 9 minutes/walk 1; some would run 5, walk 1; some 6/1, etc.

I set my watch for a 7/1 routine and my goal was to keep my heart rate below my AT (171). I started running with Marty and Rick and before I knew it, my watch beeped signaling my first walk break.

I made the classic "mistake", which ultimately worked in my favor: I decided to keep running and would take my first walk break at the mile 2 -- the first water stop.

Usually, this 'change strategy at the last second' thing doesn't work very well for me. Yesterday, all the elements just seemed to align.

I ran with Marty and Rick for a while but separated just slightly after the first mile, after Rick announced we hit the marker at 10:33. Marty went on ahead; I slipped back a bit and Rick disappeared in to the crowd.

I was very mindful during the entire race of running the course tangents knowing that doing so would help me conserve some energy. I just kept putting one foot in front of another and looked ahead to figure out which side of the road to run.

I got to the first water stop -- it was very humid and I was sweaty, sweaty, sweaty. My heart rate was fine -- about 160. I wasn't tired or worried that I was going too fast.

I'm also a-typical in that I like running in the heat/humidity. My asthma bothers me less; I am happier when I'm feel warmer, so I grabbed some water, walked a bit and took off again.

The only person I knew that I saw a couple of times on the course was Marty. He and I bounced in front and behind each other until about mile 6. He was trying to do 6/1. We ran for a bit and when his walk break came, I was feeling really good, so I asked if he minded if I went ahead -- he said "go for it" and off I went.

My heart rate stayed pretty steady in the 160's, which felt very comfortable. A couple times, as I was trotting up a hill, it crept up past 171, so I just slowed down until it backed off.

I'm glad I did a lot of my long runs on my own. I love running with my friends, but really needed to have some training time when I was on my own so I could get used to the "alone" thing for the race.

I spent time concentrating on the scenery, on other runners, on spectators and poof, before I knew it, I was in the city.

The first time clock I saw was at the 10-mile mark. It read 1:50:53. I was really surprised. That is a very good 10-mile time for me. (I had set my interval watch, but not my chronological timer, so I knew how long I was out on the course, but didn't know what time I had actually crossed the mat to activate my timing chip. Turns out I was about 5 minutes behind the gun time, so my actual 10-mile time was about 1:45).

My good friend Mary B., who moved to Florida last fall, was out cheering on runners at about mile 11. She and her husband had plan to run the marathon, but she'd been sick and decided to not run. They came up for the event any way and were hanging out on the course. She ran with me for about 2 minutes and then I was off for the finish.

I came across the finish line at 1:24 something on the clock (gun time). I waited for my friends to finish -- we relaxed, drank LOTS of water, ate a little food and eventually got our gear bags to change in to some dry clothes.

My fellow coffee-crazy friends Bea and Kathy and I went to grab a cup of coffee to have with us as we watched the marathoners start to come in to finish. As we were walking to the coffee place, we found the board where the Race Officials posted the results. I scanned the paper to find my name and there it was in big, old Times New Roman font:



Thrilled, excited, amazed! And that was just about finally being able to have my first cup of coffee for the day! (Ha Ha).

I really was happy and proud of my efforts. Anyway, we went to about mile 25.75 of the marathon and watched the marathoners finish. I was very grateful that I was not running the full 26.2. The day turned out to be very warm and many of the runners looked pretty haggard. Or, rather, much more haggard then they usually do when they are less than a mile to the finish.

I drove back home yesterday afternoon. Today is Father's Day and I like to spend it with my Hubby, one of the greatest fathers ever.

My triathlon club hosts an Open Water Swim Clinic every summer and this year it was held today -- at 7:30 am -- on a Sunday-- after the 1/2 marathon -- on Father's Day.

I went anyway.

My swim coach was the instructor. There were about 30 or so people that all practiced mass starts and exits a few times; did some site-ing drills and other wise got comfortable in the water. The Clinic was held at the same place my tri will be on June 30 -- so I got a feel for the beach and the water depth, temp, etc. I'm glad I went.

I still have a lot of swim time to get in before my first tri of the summer in 12 days....I'm feel more confident about the swim portion though, mostly from having a chance to get in to the lake today.

The rest of Father's Day was planned with activities that Hubby enjoys: hanging out with his daughter and his family; eating ribs and just relaxing.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate my Grandma's PR!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Long Days

Days are long -- not just because we are approaching June 21st -- the longest day of the year -- but because the Edina Art Fair is June 1st and Hubby is really working to finalize his booth and photos.

Hubby does photography on the side and he is very, very talented. The Edina Art Fair is a juried art fair (meaning that a panel of people judge the work and determine who will be in and who won't). Hubby sent his work in last year (first art fair he tried to get in to) and was selected. We had a great time working the fair, meeting people, selling some of his photos. The problem last year was his location. He was tucked in an alley that was not well travelled by fairgoers.

THIS year will be different. He has a space that rocks and has a number of new photos this year that are breathtaking: some wonderful B & Ws from Europe and Minnesota's North Shore; great color shots from Europe and around our neighborhood.

Hubby works best under stress -- he is your typical "I'll write the paper the night before it is due" kind of guy...so we are at crunch week.

And, naturally, most things that can go wrong, have gone wrong. His MAC crashed and is now at the MAC doctor; he hooked up the back up PC and went back to printing and has run out of Light Cyan ink; so....we are certain to have some long nights before the fair opens on Friday.

I'm sure we'll get it all done, though. That is always how it goes.


The weekend was great. I got an 11.1 mile run in on Saturday and felt really strong. Finally got on my bike for about 20 minutes yesterday and was happy that I remembered how to ride (ha ha); today, I ran 6.8 miles -- felt a little more sluggish, but probably where I should be for where I am in training. Hubby and I also squeezed in 9 holes of golf tonight and I had my lowest score ever: 33. I had two pars and two birdies....Hurrah.


Tomorrow is another vacation day for me. I'll get in a swim, have a doctor's appointment and will meet my Beginning Running Team for a dinner tomorrow night.

Looking forward to an excellent day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

What's Goin' On....

Life has picked up the pace, that is for sure.

Work is busy, busy, busy. Projects are all coming together for delivery at about the same time and there is a lot of coordination that has to happen for everything to happen smoothly.

I had to go to San Francisco for a business meeting and got a chance to take a really nice six-mile run. Started at Union Square, ran down to the Ferry Building and then ran along the water past Fisherman's Wharf, up to a beach and back.

Out in the bay near the beach were a number of triathletes doing an open water swim practice. They were all decked out in their full body bodysuits, swimming in a long circle around buoys used for markers.

Seeing them reminded me of several things: 1) time to get back in to swimming. My first tri is on June 30th. My BIG tri is on July 14th. 2) Open water swimming still freaks the heck out of me.

I really admire those swimmers that confidently swim in the ocean. The likelihood of me being comfortable swimming in the ocean is pretty small. I'm not all that comfortable in a fresh water lake if I can't touch the bottom. It is a miracle that I can do outside tri's at all....

When I got back to Minneapolis, I set up a swim lesson with Dave, my amazing swim coach, who is getting ready to do his DOUBLE CROSSING of the English Channel. That means he swims from England to France, has up to 15 minutes to "rest" and then he swims back to England.

He is doing this as a personal challenge and also to raise money for our local YWCAs. He coaches a swim team of young people -- very young people. Kids, really. The team, called the Otters, will have several members going over to England to swim a single crossing as a relay team. Even those kids have more guts that I do.... No wet suits allowed; can't hold on to the guide boat to rest for a second (or many); salt water, currents and jelly fish.

Sure puts swimming in a puny Minnesota lake in perspective.

It had been a long time since I'd been in the pool and my technique was terrible. Fortunately, I have five lessons left and several weeks to get myself ready for that 0.9 mile swim in July.


My morning fitness group is over and the results are in. Officially, I lost 22 pounds. (HURRAH!). I say officially, because I weighed myself this a.m. after working out on my own as was down another 2 lbs. Although I like that number, it is probably misleading, since I had worked out and really lost a lot of water through sweat. I'll take what I can get.

The program was very helpful to me in getting me very fit -- increasing my endurance -- losing pounds that had been being very stubborn. I also met some really great women, who were all fun and very dedicated. Everyone lost weight and I believe that all of us met our goals.

We were all very disappointed at the end of the program, however, when we all were at the last class and the team leader did not have any plans or ideas for us for maintenance.

I, naturally, called the corporate office and complained. The man I spoke with was very empathetic, but really had no resolution as of yet. (The big excuse they all had was that the nutritionist at our facility had quit, so there was no one in place for us to work with. My argument back was that they didn't reduce our fee for the program, even though we got less "benefit" (no nutritionist) AND that other facilities have nutritionists, so why couldn't one of them helped us?

So for now, I'm still working out in the morning on my own and sticking with the diet. We'll see how that all shakes out.

I did do a test to find out what my actual heart rate zones should be (instead of guessing, like I was doing in the morning). Turns out, my AT (anaerobic threshold) is 171, not 150. (oops!)

AT is the point at which your body switches from burning mostly fat as fuel to burning more sugar. There are five zones to consider when doing heart rate training. Zones 1 - 3 are the fat burning zones; then there is AT, then there are zones 4 & 5 (aka the "killer" zones).

I had been working out in the a.m. under the assumption that my AT was 150, so hitting the bottom of zone 3 would have been at about 139. That is the rate that I tried to maintain during the a.m. workouts.

With an actual AT of 171, 139 is really in zone 2 -- so, I could have worked much harder!

During the test, I also found out that I am pretty efficient in burning fat in zones 1 and 2, which would make sense, since I had trained in those zones for 12 weeks.

Knowing this will help me with both my morning treadmill workouts and my running workouts.


Golf is in full swing (ha ha). I'm having fun golfing in the league with Hubby...and also had a great time golfing with my sister, sister-in-law and another friend last Tuesday.


Disappointed in the Democrats backing down off of the timetables for withdrawal, but not as disappointed as in our President for getting us in this mess in the first place.


That is about it for now...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

LPGA day of Fun....

I went to a women's golf clinic hosted by the LPGA last Monday. It was terrific.

There were about 120 women -- some who took the day off of work to learn, play and network and others that were clearly the "ladies who lunch" set.

The host of the event -- the LPGA -- had one of their touring professionals chair the day. We were lucky to have a woman named Cindy Miller. She is in her 50's, played on a number of tours, was on the Big Break golf show, and was voted Golf for Women's Teacher of the Year last year.

I loved her! She was very candid, very brass, very funny. Just my kind of female role model. And she swings a mean golf club, let me tell you.

The day was very full, but also very relaxed. We were able to really talk with all the pros there, get great tips and they gave us a very fun goodie bag. (Nice touch, because this event was not cheap).

We were broken up in to teams of about eight, including a golf pro, who was part of our team all day.

I was part of about six groups of beginners. We spent the morning practicing putting, chipping and our full swing. The other women on my team were in varying stages of "begginer". Our pro was a woman that is the featured golf expert on a morning T.V. show here in the Twin Cities. She was great. Fun, informative, helpful.

After lunch, we played on the course. The clinic was held at a very swanky, private golf club that just happens to be located very near where I live. It was great fun to play on a course I've only driven by....

I think I picked up some good tips that will help improve my game -- especially with holding my club and positioning of the ball when I chip.

I'm looking forward to participating in the clinic again next year.

My friend, LaVeta, and I are also taking three lessons together. LaVeta and her husband are our partners in the Couples Golf League. I'm hoping that all of this practice will help lower my score over the summer.

So golf on top of running and starting to get ready for triathlon season. I'll be busy, but outside, which you can't beat this time of year here in Minnesota.

Ahhhh -- summer!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Will Wonders Never Cease...GIG results

The Get in Gear (GIG) races were held yesterday. The weather could not have been more cooperative: warm, sunny -- just lovely.

This event is known as a 'kick off to summer running' event and generally draws about 5,000 plus runners who participate in a 5K, 10K or 2K event.

GIG was the event that the Beginning Running group I've been coaching were working towards. Realistically, they all should have participated in the 5K event, but I had a number of "over achievers" that wanted to do the 10K. I found this out after I signed up for the 5k....

This actually worked out very well, since the 10k started first and, running the 5K, which started about 20 minutes after the 10K, I could be done with my event and still be there to cheer everyone on as they got to the finish line.

I had an unbelievely good race. I felt very good throughout -- only took a couple of walk breaks, ran the tangents and just kept one foot in front of the other.

It got warm out there on the course but even that felt good.

In all my years of running (almost 10 years now), I've always wanted to run a 5K in 30 minutes or less....I did not hit that goal this time around, BUT I did finish with my best time ever: 31.04 for a pace of 10 mintue per mile.

Even more unbelieveably for me was that I finished 14th out of 66 women in my age group category.

I typically finish very near the bottom of my age group...and I know that I should not take much pride in this placing for this race. There are a lot of people that run this event without training at all or very much -- some people walk the course.

BUT, I'm very happy with my placing for the event nonetheless. Maybe this is my year for a 30-minute or less 5K.

My running group did very well in the 10K event -- they all finished and were very proud of themselves. I was too. They all worked very hard this season and I had a great time working with all of them.

I had lots of other friends from my running club that did the 10k was well. They all finished strong, despite the temps.

I'm registered for a 1/2 marathon next weekend and I have not been training very hard for the distance. I've been debating doing the event at all. This is a race where I have placed second to last a couple times in the event.

It is a point-to-point course and I'm afraid that I'll be so far behind that I'll miss the last bus back to the start line to get my car to go home... Hubby assured me that if that happens, he'll come and get me.

I ran some extra miles after the 5k yesterday to help me be somewhat prepared for next week Sunday. The extra miles helped, but I still am not quite sure how I'll do next week.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 27, 2007

What's Goin' On.....

So here is my mini update after many weeks away from blogging:

Hubby and I went to Las Vegas at the end of March. We had a ton of fun, although the weather was lousy. (Cold and windy). We gambled and GOLFED! It was our first time officially out in 2007. We had a blast. Our golf league back here in Minneapolis starts tonight. We play in a Couples League with some friends from work. I've also signed up to play in a LPGA event where we get some coaching, training and playing time. So looks like there will be a lot of time out on the links this summer. YEA!

I've been doing this weight loss program thing that is being offered by my health club. It is a 12-week course and we just finished week 9. We workout three days a week on a treadmill using heart rate monitors to help us determine our zones, follow an exchange-based diet and meet with a nutritionist once per week. Our group, the "Early Risers", consists of about eight people (7 women, 1 man). A couple of women attend somewhat sporatically, but the rest of us are there Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 am for our workout.

The program, plus the fact that I've been really limiting my sugar intake and trying to eat whole grains rather than white flour/rice, has helped me lose 18 pounds. YIPPEE!

My weight had been creeping up and I'd been struggling with Weight Watchers. This was a change I really needed. We have three weeks left of the program and then some of the Early Risers will continue to meet to keep the momentum going.

I know it is one thing to lose weight; it is very much another thing to keep it off.

My good friend Dori gave up all sugar at the end of last year. She has lost about 15 or so pounds and is looking great. I am not eating candy every day and I'm trying to really limit the sugar found in every thing else, BUT....

Every three weeks, after we get weighed, I pretty much eat what ever I want to eat for most of the weekend. I eat sugar, which pretty much makes me naueous in about 10 mintues, but I keep on eating it. (Old, old behavior there!)

In any event, I'm happy with the results; I'm happy about how I'm feeling physically; I'm happy my jeans fit me better and I'm running much better too!

I am just wrapping up coaching a Beginning Runners group. I had 7 women participate -- aged from 29 to 64. They were a great bunch of people to work with. Our race is tomorrow -- Get In Gear/ About 4,000 runners will do either a 5K or a 10K event. The weather is supposed to be beautiful and I'm excited to run the event and to cheer my newbies on!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Catching Up: Madtown and Spring Break

Finally back on line and able to blog.

The pace of things has been ridicuolously busy and then very tough to find time to blog.

Hubby, Stepdaughter and I went to Madison last weekend. Stepdaughter is graduating from college this spring and wanted to go to a Career Fair that Wisconsin was holding. Her first exposure to interviewing, grown-up clothes, resumes and answering the dreaded "where do you see yourself in 5-years?" question.

I went to college at Wisconsin. I was 17 when I left for the dorms and stayed five years. I was a little too young, a little too impulsive and a little too much of the party girl to really concentrate on studying. You had to be 18 to drink then (now the legal age is 21), it was the late 70's so drugs were fashionable and relatively cheap. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or English Major) to figure out how those five years went for me.

I have a lot of mixed emotions and memories about my days in Madison. There were some really great times with some really great people and a lot of not-so-wonderful times. What is really interesting is that I feel very emotionally bonded to the school and the city.

Eventually, after I moved to Minneapolis and got my act together, I graduated from the University of Minnesota. Perfectly respectable school with which I have no emotional bond. I get calls about twice per year from the alumni association asking for money and I just can't bring myself to donate.

Madison is another story. I still check out the headlines from the Daily Cardinal (a student publication). I became a card-carrying member of the Memorial Union -- all so I could relive memories and buy popcorn...I love wandering past my old apartments, up and down State Street, reading the Isthmus (a weekly newspaper that I worked for as a proof reader), and retracing my steps on campus, which includes walking past the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the top of Bascom Hill to see if he will finally stand up. (Wisconsin students will understand the reference).

I love going back there.

Hubby, Stepdaughter and I had fun. We went to the Union and watched the basketball team lose in an early round of March Madness...we ate some great burgers at the Plaza Pub...we gave Stepdaughter pep talks on interviewing and making a good impression.

I did my "I used to live here" tour and found that one of the apartments I lived in is slated to be torn down. Looks like a brand new highrise will be put up in its place. I grabbed some pictures and relived some memories of listening to Todd Rundgren, eating Rocky Roccco pizza and trying to figure out what the heck I'd be doing for the rest of my life....

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

On the training front: I'm running a bit with the club; I'll start coaching newbies again next week; I'm swimming a bit and am looking forward to getting back on the bike....

More later this week...

Thursday, March 8, 2007


It has been an absolute whirlwind since I last posted.

I did get in to Grandma's 1/2 marathon...yea! However, a lot of my running buddies did NOT get in this year. Entries to the 1/2 are selected via a lottery -- last year, pretty much everyone I know except me got in to the race. This year, it looks like it is me, Mary K (one of my training partners from last year's TCM marthon, Marty (my friend Marcia's hubby), MN Nat , and Bea. There is still a small chance that some of our other friends will get in the race, but there may be a small field of running buddies to train with this spring.

We've been training, but not too hard yet. Minneapolis got socked with about 24" of snow at the end of last week and it has been a bit cold and slippery out on the paths. Our temps have improved a bit, so things are melting AND we will have more daylight out there after Sunday's spring-forward movement of the clock, so that will help too.

Hubby and I will go to Las Vegas towards the end of March. We both had carry-over vacation days from last year that we had to use before the end of the first quarter, so we looked at our options and are heading back to Sin City. We'll relax a bit, gamble and play golf. That sounds like heaven to me.

Hubby's parents, siblings and spouses will be there the same time we will. We are going to stay on the Strip and they will stay downtown, so we won't be see each other the whole time, but will spend some time together.

I'm trying to get my sister and her husband to join us -- we'll see. Might be a whole reunion out there in the desert.

I've been taking some new action regarding my weight and nutrition. I'm not quite ready to post about the changes I'm attempting yet -- but can say that I'm trying very had to give up white sugar. It's been about 11 days. My good friend Dori was my "no sugar" inspiration.

With the exception of having a piece of Hubby's bithday cake, I've been successful in avoiding candy, cookies and all my crutch foods.

I'm pretty much hating every second if it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spring Training -- already?

Today was the kick off for spring and early summer marathon training.

February 24th??? While a winter storm warning is in effect, currently dumping about 10" of snow here?

As we say in Minnesota "yeah, you betcha".

Actually, I should clarify: as MINNESOTANS would say, "Yeah, you betcha".

Those of us originally from Wisconsin would probably say "are you nuts"?

Nuts we are it would seem, because at 8:00 am this morning, throngs of the hearty were bundling up and heading out to the trails to start the process of getting back to some level of fitness and speed.

I ran with my running club this morning -- it was really nice to see some old familiar faces that I haven't seen since the end of Twin Cities Marathon (TCM) training last fall.

I ran with Gary and Dori -- we plodded along for 6.2 miles. Once we got out on to the roads, it wasn't so bad outside. I bought some rubber spikes at Bed, Bath and Beyond that attached to the bottom of my running shoes. The extra grip from the spikes really helped me feel more confident about my footing on the snow and ice.

It was amazing how tough the run was though: partly because it was cold and blowy running in to the wind, partly because I have not run 6 miles in a very long time, but mostly because I am much bulker than I was last fall.


I did face the music last Monday when I saw the doc and got on the scale. The number wasn't pretty, but I'm ready to start tackling the bulk so I can be ready for warmer weather and less clothes. (That is the one really nice thing about living here and having winter: you can hide a lot underneath sweaters.)

When we were out on the trails, we ran past my TCM training partners Marcia and Mary. I'll be training with them again starting next week. We have a number of people that are trying to get in to Grandma's 1/2 marathon that are planning to train "unofficially" this time around. We'll try to follow a similar routine that the official group will be using, but because a few of the people aren't members of the health club, they are trying to avoid the (hefty non-member) cost for joining the official group.

After the run, Dori and I went to breakfast with a couple of other friends: Sarah and MaryJo. It was great to sit and catch up.

I was very happy to spend time with my friends, just shooting the breeze, enjoying each others company and having some very relaxed fun.

Hubby and I are now hunkered down in the house with the cats all around us. The snow is really coming down and we are very grateful that we have no where we have to be but here -- the house is warm and dry -- we're happy, we're healthy and we are very content.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tri U Mah -- 1st tri for 2007

I participated in the 3rd Annual Tri U Mah Indoor Triathlon today at the University of Minnesota. This event was the first triathlon that I ever did -- way back when in 2005.

The event is different than regular tri's in that participants swim, bike and run for 30-minutes in each sport, with a 10-minute transition between swim/bike and bike/run. The winners are determined by total distance covered during the 30-minute segments.

It is also different than most tri's because participants swim in a POOL -- in their own LANE without people swimming over them or having to do much siteing. As long as you can see the big blue line at the bottom of the pool, you are going to find the other side of the swim lane. Love that part.

Hubby did the tri with me last year -- but this year he opted to just be my cheer squad and personal photographer. Go HUBBY!

The photo at the top of this post is one my swim coach would love -- I'm gliding nicely on my side, my right arm is outstretched, with my left arm coming up on the rail to meet it, my head is looking straight down -- the only criticism I can hear my coach say is "get your head underwater"....

The other swim photo is 'artsy' and kind of cool -- and the one below of me on the bike is blurry, but I like it because it simulates how fast I was going at the time. ha ha.

It was a great swim for me -- I went .76 of a mile in the 30 minute time frame. My first year (before swim lessons), I covered .59 miles. Last year, .61 miles. I was very proud of my swim distance this year.

The bike was okay -- 6.42 miles (more than last year, less than 2005) and the run was 2.49 miles (slightly more than last year, slightly less than 205). I'm definitely carrying more weight this year than in years past and that is reflected in my times for the "dry land" events.

All in all, I covered more distance this year than ever -- 9.67 -- still less than my personal goal of 10 miles. I can't complain much though. I feel like it is a good start for my 2007 season.

My good friend Kathy and her husband did the event today too -- their first ever tri. They looked great in the water and I captured this shot of them on the bikes, still smiling and looking strong:

Training will start for Grandma's on February 24th. (Can you believe it???) That should help me increase my land speed -- however, I know that I have got to do some thing about my ever-increasing weight.

I have to see the doctor tomorrow morning (regular check up time). This is the check up that I cancelled in January because I didn't want to get on the scale. I've only INCREASED my weight since then, so tomorrow will be no picnic.

However, there is no time like the present to get depressed, feel like a miserable failure so I can get my act together. Again, ha ha.