Monday, December 29, 2008

This One's for Nat

I got an email from my friend Nat today: "Checked out your blog. Nothing new..."

Well, first, this is really an instance of the pot calling the kettle "Chalphalon". She hasn't blogged since December 21st, so....harumph!

Seriously though, not much new.

Christmas was nice and quiet. We spent Christmas eve with my sister and brother-in-law. We ate wonderful food, played pool, ate more food and watch a little James Bond. (This was a gift for the boys). They all drank. I had coffee and cookies. Yum.

Christmas day was spent with Hubby's family. There was a whole lot less drama than there was on Thanksgiving, which was terrific.

Like most families, I find some of my relatives-by-marriage a bit difficult to deal with.

I'm sure (fact is I know, based on the way I get treated by some of them) that they think I'm not really a picnic either.

So it goes.

Hubby and I did not do a lot about presents this year. He got me personalized golf balls and I got him mittens from North Face.

We really have all that we need: a house that doesn't have a mortgage payment that is continually resetting; jobs (at least for today); health (the most important thing); cats (almost as important as health) and each other (the BEST!).

Thank heavens.

Oh: I'm also blessed with a number of wonderful friends, like Nat, who put up with me and love me for reasons unknown.

(Hey: it's YOUR turn to post....)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

An answer for Oprah:

"How did I let this happen again?" -- Oprah Winfrey, wondering how her weight got back up to 200 pounds...

Hmmmmmmm.......Ummmmmm........wait a minute......ahhhhhh........ummmmmmmmm

Oh Yeah. How?

E-Z.

The same way all of us mere mortals gain weight: we eat more calories than we burn up.
I count myself as of of the mortals, Oprah. I'm right there with you, with a little more jiggle in my wiggle these days.

I blame it on cold Minnesota weather combined with minimal daylight hours and the fact that I'm not in training doing "2-a-days". (Heck, I'm not doing many "one-a-days"...)
I must also lay some blame on my absolute inability to put a fork down these days.

The only thing that is saving me is the Recession. Really.

In fatter (pardon the pun) economic years of the past, vendors and customers would send boxes and boxes of delicious treats to people working at my company.
I, in turn, would spend hours and hours circling the floor, finding and sampling all the treats.

The Recession has taken its toll on the "limit of $25.00" gift basket this year though, resulting in minimal treats on the floor. (I know, because my circling floor flight plan continues...).

So, I've put on a few lbs, but probably less than I would have had times been better this year.

I did some exercise in this week. I ran outside once. I swam once. I lifted weights twice and did a treadmill workout once.

Not really sure the activity counterbalanced the chocolate covered peanuts that passed my lips this week but, hey, the activity is a start.

The good news is that I realized that my first swimming event is coming up fast. I'm doing a swim clinic on January 11th, with my first tri following on February 8th.

Only a few more days until the holiday food fest is over and I can concentrate on getting my activity up and my weight down. Again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A blog in two parts:

Part I: Inspiration

I watched NBC's coverage of the Ford IronMan Championship (aka IronMan Hawaii) this afternoon. It was very inspiring.

I miss triathlons. I miss swimming in the lake. I miss riding my bike. I miss running outside without mittens (and jackets and hats and gaitors and long underwear and, and, and...).

Yes, I know I can swim in the pool (and I have -- a little); and I know I can go to a Spin class (I haven't in months); and I know I can run outside (which I do, with mittens, jackets, hats, gaitors, long underwear, and, and, and...)

Working out is just different in the winter. Sometimes the biggest part of the workout is getting to the workout.

I know there are plenty of people that are dedicated to the outdoors when it is cold, dark and snowy. My natural inclination is to nap, have covers on and eat calorie-laden foods.

In any event, watching Hawaii today reminded me of how much I really do like tri season and how I'm looking forward to getting back in to it.

My only "complaint" is that for the 90 minutes, the show focuses on the Pros and a handful of age groupers. It would be really wonderful to follow some of the back-of-the-packers -- kind of like the filmmakers did for "Spirit of the Marathon"....

Part II: Detraining
Greg, my tri coach from last summer, defines "detraining" as the period of time, where one is fully recovering from their training and race season by pulling waaaaaaaayyyyy back on volume and intensity.

I have been taking FULL advantage of this. For someone like me, this is not necessarily a good thing.

I've had a hard couple of runs this week. One on Monday, where I went out at night during a snow storm. Didn't feel very strong or fast, even with the little grippy things I wear on my shoes to help me stop from slipping.

I ran this afternoon and again, it felt tough. I haven't been wearing my heartrate monitor (because I'm detraining, don't you know...) and I felt sluggish and slow.


I was very glad to be out there though. The weather was nice today (in the 30's and overcast). We are supposed to get a big storm tomorrow and then it will be FREEZING, FREEZING, FREEZING.

Good thing I'm really in my best detrained shape!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I live for the future....

The future 2009 racing season, that is.

I never really know if I should say racing season or if I should say event season.

I don't really race per se. I'm happy to participate and to have a "decent" time (translate: not last).

Racing sounds cooler though, and these days, it is all about the cool.

As in COOL temperatures.

Like freezing.

Literally.

With snow and ice and all those wintery things I really don't care for.

Welcome to December in Minnesota.

We got about 2 inches of snow last night, which meant when I woke up to go run 8 miles with my friends, I ended up looking out the window, then getting back in to bed and going back to sleepy-land for a few more hours.

Two inches really isn't much snow; I've run in worse conditions. I just couldn't really do it this morning.

Rational: "I'm not really in training right now, so why not nestle in for a little snoozy-pooh?"

Needed: A reminder that winter will end -- days will grow longer (only 16 days till THAT happens!) -- and my 2009 season will be here before I know it!

I've got my race calendar pretty much figured out and I've registered for most the events that I want to do.

Vacation Sports is offering half-priced entrance fees to people that register in December for their 2009 events.

That represents big-deal savings!

I signed up for two of their tris (New Bri ($32.50) and St. Paul Olympic ($42.50); There is a third I want to sign up for, but there is a problem with the event link.

I will probably sign up for Urban Wildland 1/2 marathon again in 2009 and some friends and I may try our luck by entering in to the New York City Marathon lottery.

I enjoyed running NYC marathon in 2007 and would love to run it again with my awesome running partners.

I also reserved a room at the Wisconsin Memorial Union for Sunday, September 13th -- the day of IronMan Wisconsin. The plan is to volunteer at the 2009 event and then, the next day, register for the 2010 race...

Just thinking of an IronMan in 2010 should get me through winter 2009....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Drama!

This is the kind of Saturday during a holiday weekend that I both love and fear:

I ran this morning with some of my favorite running buddies. It was a wonderful run of just under 7 miles.

Came home, ate breakfast (Optimal cereal with soymilk, followed by a hunk of leftover birthday cake).

Paid the bills, drank more coffee, ate more cake.

Now, Hubby is running some errands and I'm settled in in my workspace located on the 2nd floor of the house drinking yet more coffee.

I'm wearing the my vision of the Housewife's Horror Outfit: Sweatpants (nice and stretchy to accommodate even MORE cake), sweat shirt, slippers and no makeup.

Blogging, catching up on blogs and, (ready for it????): watching "THE WAY WE WERE"!

Ohhhh, the drama!

Speaking of drama: nothing like family drama over a turkey, I always say...

  • Ran the Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning (no drama there, just a nice day to be out with 4,000 others trying to offset a few holiday calories...)
  • hosted breakfast for 11 people (lots of drama)
  • then hosted dinner for another four (even more drama)

All in all, Hubby and I did our best to stay out of the fray (by staying in the kitchen) AND it was a pretty fun day.

We're just glad to have the weekend to recuperate.

Hope you and yours all had a great holiday too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cake Rocks

My birthday was a lot of fun.

Hubby and I were both in San Francisco for various meetings last week. He flew out last Sunday and I went out last Tuesday.

My birthday was Wednesday and I had "officially" taken the day off from work. I spent the day in a most perfect way: slept in; had coffee; took a nap; took a walk; had a little lunch; took another nap; took another walk; did some sit ups; went for a run on one of my most favorite traveling running routes and then had a wonderful dinner with Hubby.

We went to dinner at Maykadeh, a Persian restaurant that became a favorite of mine a long time ago. Service was great; food was wonderful and we had just a lovely time.


Hubby bought me a beautiful bracelet -- I was very surprised at his thoughtfulness and generosity
We came home on Friday night and I was surprised again.

Hubby had 50 -- count them, FIFTY -- red roses delivered to the house on Friday night.

I have never, ever, EVER had such a wonderful flower delivery. I felt like one of "those girls" that get the giant heart balloons and huge boxes of candy on Valentine's day.

We had some friends over on Saturday night for a little party. Hubby and I made three different kinds of chili (meat (with ground turkey), veggie and white chicken)and we had lots and lots of CAKE.

It was a really fun party. Being able to celebrate with friends and family was the easiest way to make sure that I survived turning the big 5-oh.










Photos of friends and family above....


"Unfortunately" we are "stuck" with the leftovers. (Lots of chili, cake and other yummy delicious things). And it is Thanksgiving week. AND we are hosting dinner for Hubby's family on Thursday.


Good thing I have a gym membership....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

50 great things about turning 50!

I'm in San Francisco for a few days.

Technically, it is for business, but my birthday is tomorrow.

One could argue (fairly successfully) that I came out here a day early so I could prolong turning 50 by a couple of hours (Central time versus Pacific Time, doncha know...)

Fifty.

Holy cow!

FIFTY.

In an effort to embrace this new decade/era/age group, I've come up with a list of the top 50 great things about turning 50...

(Note: I really wasn't that clever in coming with a list of 50 things. I tried, but geeze: 50 is a very big number!

I've done my best to try to come up with a list of 5 things -- one thing for each decade. Also much easier to read...)

1) I'm still alive. Really. After wasting much of my youth deep in the depths of drug and alcohol abuse, I'm happy to report that I'm sober (13 years) and free of all the horrible things that go along with that life. I could have very easily been killed at any point during those years, but here I still am. Hurrah.

2) I'm still alive -- part deux. Really. Besides drugs and alcohol abuse, I was bulimic for many, many, many years.

Growing up a chubby chubbette -- no -- actually what I meant to say was -- growing up the fat kid in school -- I fell in to a pattern of eating issues that plagued me from 7th grade until about 1999.

It wasn't until I started training for my very first 10k that I took a long, hard look at my destructive eating patterns and quite abusing my body (aka "eating my feelings") for the very last time.

Here I am, oh so many years later, a strong, fit marathoner/triathlete with few whacko food issues.

3) I have a great network of family and friends: Hubby, my sisters and my brother, my family of running /triathlon friends, my fantastic non-running friends (who listen endlessly about my running and triathlon adventures), my virtual friends, my cats and, yes, even the squirrels in our yard, all provide me with lots of love, support and hours of non-stop entertainment. I love you all. (Hey Squirrels: you'll have more pumpkin when I get back home on Friday...)

4) I'm employed. This is a crazy time -- absolutely. I'm very, very grateful to be working for a company that -- so far -- has avoided much of the downturns and downsizing plaguing our industry today. Although my job can drive me crazy sometimes, I'm very grateful to be employed, have health benefits and some where to go on a daily basis.

5) I've got another 1/2 century to look forward to. Despite the inevitable sagging, wrinkles and other totally unappealing loss of elasticity and "looks", my plan is to be here for the long haul. I'm excited about the next 50 years and all the adventures and experiences coming my way.

Oh yeah: and there will be lots of CAKE for me this weekend back in Minneapolis.

Yippee!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cold, Dark and Lazy

Those three words pretty much sum it all up for me these days.

It is really cold here -- much colder than normal. I'm really not enjoying it -- but I have to admit that, because the cold has hit sooner than expected, I'm not as "prepared" as I should be.

Sure, I packed away my tee shirts and my cotton, comfortable summer outfits and am wearing my turtlenecks and layers. But I haven't yet switched from panty hose or knee highs to tights and long underwear. (Who ever invented CuddleDuds is a genius!). So, I'm pretty much freezing all the time.

I finally got out my Uggs and my mittens, but some how in the depths of my delusional thinking, I haven't quite come to terms that will not be 70-degrees again before the holidays.

Sigh...

It gets dark at about 5:00 pm. Just in time for me watch about 45 minutes of the news before I want to fall into a deeeeeeep sleeeeeep.

This drive to hibernate makes working out a little tough.... Sort of hard to do any pace work or hill work from a prone position under the covers...

What can I say...

--

I can happily report that Hubby and I spent some quality time last weekend at IKEA. We finally bought a number of bookshelves and storage cubicles to help get our house in order.

We have been trying to declutter the house and our lives. It feels pretty good to let go of some of the stuff we've been holding on to -- donating some stuff; recycling a lot of stuff; just letting go.

I've also registered for a couple other events: The Thanksgiving Day 5K -- a HUGE event held in downtown Minneapolis and the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon,scheduled for June 20th. The tri is close to home -- looks like a fun course -- and will be another race to help prepare for Chisago 1/2 Iron.

Yes, Nat and I will be doing another 1/2 Iron next summer. Our friend Gary will be joining us in the fun...

Lots to look forward to --

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wow

Watched the election returns until the wee hours last night.

Very happy that Obama was elected; curious about other Minnesota outcomes (e.g. Michelle Bachman still in the House? What's up with that?!?).

Happy that our clean water/outdoors/arts referrendum passed.

Baby Ruths almost gone (finally).

All in all, a good day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is the day:

V O T E

My neighbor Beth and I met at 6:00 am to go to our polling place. We were first in line.

By 6:30 am, the line was out the school's door, down the block and around the corner. Hurrah!

Take the time to vote today. It matters.


My American Prayer

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 3rd + 70 degrees + Mpls = HUH?

The weather forcast for today includes sunshine and temperatures reaching the low 70's.

It is November 3rd.

It is MINNESOTA.

I am taking the day off.

Blogging now, will get outside in a little bit.

Friday's forcast? 39 degrees and snow.

Gotta love it!


P.S. I did face my fears and got on the scale this morning. Not as bad as I suspected, which was also a surprise.

Nice to get two of them on a Monday morning.

ENJOY!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Scary:


Lots of candy ready for those cute little goblins that will be visiting the neighborhood tonight. Note the curious absence of Almond Joys and Baby Ruths...hmmmmm


Scarier:


Working from home today, I took a bike ride at lunch time. It was the first time in a very, very long time, that I actually got on my bike.

Beautiful ride; beautiful day. Only "huffed and puffed" a little bit; not enough to blow a house down...


Scariest!

The Scale. My nemesis. My arch enemy. My "Newwww-man...".

Tomorrow (after all the Almond Joys and Baby Ruths are gone...) I will face the music and get back to reality.

My birthday is coming up and I want to be able to face my first morning of "50" with grace, dignity and slightly looser pants.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fun Stuff in October


I can not believe it is the end of October - already.

It seems like only a blink of an eye ago, the weather was warm, the days were long and winter was a long, long way off.

This morning, we woke up to frost on the cars and crunchy grass (frost). We've turned on the heat in the house a couple of times already, sweaters are back in the drawer and I no longer feel compelled to go for a quick swim every time we drive by Lake Calhoun or Lake Harriet.

October has been a great month, though.

Started at the beginning of the month with a great run for me at the TCM 10-Miler event.

Mid-month, Hubby and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, where he played in The Golf Channel Amateur Golf tour's national event. He's played in the tour for the last couple of years.

It is a very interesting tour. There are teams in pretty much every state across the U.S. and in Canada. The teams play events in their area during the summer; have some regional events and then "The Biggie": The Nationals.

The teams are "flighted" -- meaning the players are broken down in to handicap groups, so no one is playing anyone much better or much worse than they are. (Similar to lining up in a running event at the corral spot where you expect to finish. This, for me, means I typically line up waaaay in the back.).

Hubby has made some great friends, played some really wonderful courses and has been a flight winner of several of the events, which is how he qualified to go to Nationals.

We were there for a week. He played golf every day; I worked a lot. Even though it was "vacation", I had several classes to deliver ("Language and Culture in the Workplace"; "Managing UP, the Art of Influencing").

We had a condo at Orange Lake, so we had a lot of space and a kitchen, but no internet connection. I had to go to the business center every day to connect to get my work done.

Fortunately, the business center was located right next to Starbucks, so I was happy as a clam to link in, do my work thing and have some coffee.

I did get to play golf once; I swam a few times in a really nice pool early in the morning before either the sun or the hoards of kids were up. I also ran a few times "training" for the Monster 1/2 marathon -- my last big event for 2008.

Hubby did pretty well for his first National event. His game - and his confidence - improved a lot over the summer. The best thing is that he didn't check his Crackberry once during the whole week and actually got to relax.

We had some fun during the evenings. We had dinner with some of his team mates and their significant others a few times; we went to Downtown Disney a couple of times and wandered around. All very fun.

The weather was hot and humid -- just the way I like it. So, it was very much a shock, as you might image, to get off the plane back here in good, old Minnesota. BRRRRR

However, the fall leaves have been just beeeuteeeeful. Kind of a trade off.


---

So, running Monster 1/2 last Saturday was quite lovely.

The course starts and ends at Lake Harriet, so my friends Mary, Marcia and Brenda, met a our house before the race to conserve parking spots close to the event.




Hubby drove us downto the lake/start, where we waited for Dori, who was in Minneapolis with her SD for the weekend. She signed up to run the 10-mile event. It was GREAT to see her.

Monster 1/2 was just one of the events held that day. Team Ortho also hosts a 10-mile event, a timed 5K and a 'fun run' 5K for trick or treaters and pets. People have a lot of fun at the events and there were a lot of people and animals there wearing some very cute costumes.

As we were near the bandshell taking pictures, I noticed a costume that caught my eye: Grim Reaper hood, scythe and "yellow bowl of sunshine" shorts. Yes, it was Steve Stenzel, who was there to run the timed 5K. (He came in 3rd by-the-by).

I called out to him, introduced myself and Dori as fellow bloggers and he took a couple pics with our group. Dori had the photo on her camera -- it is posted on her blog.

The race started at 8:45 and followed Lake Harriet, down Minnehaha Parkway almost to Cedar Avenue, back to Harriet and then looped around Lake Calhoun.

I started out with Marcia, Mary and Brenda, but by the time we got to the Parkway, I broke a head a bit and just did my thing.

The route is so familiar to me -- I live near it and used it a lot during the spring and summer for my training. I love the route, though. Every time I run the lakes or follow the parkway, I'm so grateful for being able to be out there, enjoying the day, the trees, the lakes, Minnehaha creek and more.


I settled in to my run and just observed every thing around me -- runners, spectators, costumes, fall colors... I just took it all in.

I had a nice pace going (just over 10 minute miles).

Another good friend, Gary, was volunteering along the course, so I got to see him a couple of times during the event.


By the time I got to mile 5 or so, I had to go to the bathroom, so I pulled off at a portapotty. There were three other women waiting to use the portapotty, but, once in, they took FOREVER to do their thing.

Now, I'm a female. Presumably I have the same body parts that they do. I was not wearing a costume; they were not wearing costumes.

Can someone, then, please explain to me why, oh why, did it take them over 1:30 minutes to do thier thing once in the john? What do they do in there?

I go in, I do my thing, I grab some Purell, and I'm OUT OF THERE. Forty-seconds TOPS. (Yes, I timed myself).


But, I had lost almost 5 minute waiting. I decided to just enjoy the day and not really worry about my finish time.


Good thing too! By the time I hit mile 10 (1:51 -- 4 minutes slower that TCM 10-miler), I decided mentally that I was done.


I was tired, mostly out of gas and was really looking forward to being finished. My last three miles were very slow, but did finally hit the finish line at 2:30:50. (11:30 / pace).


Dori had already finished her 10-miler (with a big, fat PR no less). She found Gary at the finish and they both were waiting for the rest of us to cross the line. Mary's significant, Tom, and her kids were also there, along with our friends, Cheryl and her husband Derek.

I found them all at the finish line and waited them for the rest of our crew to come in. Everyone enjoyed the race -- and we were all very proud of Brenda, who had just completed her first 1/2 marathon.

Everyone came over to our house, where Hubby had made coffee and breakfast for us. It was really fun to have everyone there enjoying good food and good company.



And so, the official events of 2008 come to a close! Kind of like fall. Just like "that" it's over.


I'll probably run the Thanksgiving Day 5K -- will also do the Polar Dash on New Year's Day, but that is really the first event of 2009....


I've already signed up for Tri-U-Mah indoor tri (February); Fargo 1/2 marathon (May) LifeTime Fitness Tri (July) and Natalie and I will do our second 1/2 Iron distance event -- Chisago (July). Gary is also "this close" to signing up for Chisago.


I'm considering doing the Minnetonka Triathlon (June), a couple nameless other Tris, maybe another 1/2 Iron distance for August or September and will throw my hat in, along with Mary, Dori and hopefully Marcia and Gary for the New York Marathon lottery.

I also have secret plans on being in Madison in September to watch IronMan Wisconsin. My goal is to sign up for IronMan Wisconsin 2010! Shhhhh...

For now, I'll just try to bask in the glory of a great 2008 season and have another piece of Halloween candy....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

TC 10 Miler: wet but wonderful



I ran the TC 10 Miler today (part of Twin Cities Marathon events).

The first thing I have to do, is thank my good friend Mary and her daughter, Layla, for coming to the race to cheer me on.


They waited in the freezing cold, pouring rain (see below) to watch me cross the finish....and, because of the layers and bulk of all the clothing items people wore, missed me in the crowd. Still and all, they were there, and after the race, they they took me to breakfast. What wonderful friends.

The race started at 7:13 am (right before dawn) and it was very chilly and very cloudy. It had rained a little bit before 5:40 am, making the roads slick, but it had stopped by the time were were lining up for the start.

As I was putting my warm clothes bag in to the shuttle van, I ran in to an old running buddy of mine: Heidi. I met Heidi several years ago when she was training for her first marathon (Grandmas). We trained together with some other really fun friends including Amy P and Mary B. As happens, life sort of got in all of our ways in the forms of babies, moving out of the city; moving out of the state, etc. It was great to see her and it reminded me to send out a few emails to reconnect this week...


(What a difference a year makes. Last year, my friends and I ran == or attempted to run == Chicago Marathon. As many of you may recall, it was hot and humid and the course supplies (like, uh, water....) were in very short supplies.

Chicago ended up shutting the race down. People were dehydrated and over heated. One person died. Many, many went to the hospital. My friend Nat and I got to mile 18 before they closed the course and diverted us back to Grant Park. Other friends, Marcia, Mary and Cheryl were slightly behind us on the course when they got sent back to Grant Park.

TCM was held the same date as Chicago last year. It was hot and humid here too, and I heard that the temp was in one degree shy of shutting down the race here.)

So today, "layers" were the smart thing to wear -- to keep warm. Not to help with runner recognition.

I ran very well, despite not having much "training" around this one, and ended up PRing this event by about 7 minutes and 41 seconds (off gun time); 8:32 off of chip time.

2008: Chip time: 1:47:38; gun time: 1:51:25


2005 (last time I ran TC 10 Miler): Chip time: 1:56:16 Gun time: 1:59:06


I've been sort of slug since the end of August. I'm swimming (a little); running (some); biking (not at all). Work is out of control; I'm in a little funk (still). But Greg says that it is okay to pull back after a peak event, so....all is not lost.


(By the by, Greg ran the marathon today, keeping pace for his girlfriend Devon. I think it was Devon's first marathon. They both finished in about 4:02. Very impressive for a first time result and running in the rain).

I really like the 10 mile course. It starts at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and winds west along a beautiful river road, crossing up and over in to St. Paul. We share the same last eight miles with the marathon course, stretching along Summitt Avenue, a wonderful street lined with huge homes.

I wore a long sleeved light dri fit shirt and layered it with a dri fit tee. I also wrapped a Sugoi jacket around my waist (which annoyed the crap out of me) until I hit mile 8.5 and the wind picked up.


It got C O L D. Needless to say, I was no longer annoyed with the jacket...


About mile 9, it started to R A I N.


Soon, it was C O L D and R A I N Y. Really RAINY. I was very happy I had that jacket.

As I rounded the last turn at the Cathedral and moved towards the Capital, I started to look for Mary and Leilah. We just missed each other in the crowd.

By the time I crossed the finish line, I was pretty well soaked. I got a MEDAL! I did not get one in 2005.


(Not sure if they gave medals this year because it is the 10th anniversary of the event, or if they do it as a regular "perk" now....who cares! It's just always nice to get a medal. That is the "tear" or "raindrop" looking item in the lower left corner of the photo above).

I got my warm clothes bag, met Mary and we hightailed it to the car and seat warmers!

So: one more longer distance race to go for the year: Monster 1/2 Marathon (10/25). Mary, Marcia, Gary and I are running it.

Should be a spooky fun time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Busy days...

I haven't posted in almost a month.

WOW.

Time flies when you are having "fun" (?).

Work has been very out of control lately. I work for a company in the financial services industry which has been, oh, let's just say "challenged" for the last few weeks.

Fortunately, my company happens to be in the clear, but like pretty much every other company and people, we are cutting back in a big way.

I think they say "More with Less", yes?

In addition to my regular duties, I'm also this year's Communications Chair for our annual Community Support (also known as United Way) Campaign. So, I've been building websites, writing scripts for kickoff events, securing speakers, coordinating fundraisers, etc.

Rewarding but lots of hours.

I'm hoping to get back to a normal work load by mid-October.

-----

I had my last tri event on September 8th: Square Lake Short Course. I set a 2 minute PR for myself. Swam well, biked much faster than at Pigman (17.4 mph vs just under 15 at Pigman) and ran pretty well.

My friends Gary and Marcia also did the event and rocked. Nat and Marcia's husband Marty came along to cheer us on. (Hubby was participating in his own golf event that day).

Steve in a Speedo came to check out the race and I "met" him as I came out of the water to make my way up to T1. He and his wife, Pharmie, did the 1/2 Iron distance the next day. If you haven't seen him in his Grim Reaper costume, you should check out his blog. He ran the entire 1/2 marathon wearing his costume. Still posted an unbelievably fast time. (grrr).

It's sad to me that tri season has come to an end. I really enjoyed this year's events. I've already signed up for my first 2009 event (Lifetime Fitness Tri)and am trying to figure out my race schedule for next year.

I do have a couple other events slated for October: Twin Cities 10 miler and the Monster 1/2 marathon.

I always seem to need to have something on the schedule to plan for.

Not really sure if it's because I'm obsessive or....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Friends Are the Best



It's almost been two weeks since Pigman 1/2 iron distance tri and have I been a SLUG...

Very little working out; very little adhering to an "athlete in training" nutrition plan.


Some of this slugginess has been wonderful: sleeping in a little later; having that extra serving of whatever it is strikes me at the moment...

However, believe it or not, this lazy streak is getting a little old.

So: goal for the weekend (after one last HURRAH at the great State Get Together (aka the Minnesota State Fair, where you can find pretty much every food item on a stick...)
1) Get back on the bike
2) Get back in the lake
3) Get out for a run or two.
4) Get back to counting points.
I do have one more triathlon to complete this year.

Square Lake short course is next week Saturday. My friends Marcia and Gary are doing the event too. It will be fun to participate with them.

Speaking of Marcia, I got a lovely surprise in the mail today -- a CD of photos that she and her husband Marty took of Natalie and I during Pigman.


Marcia and Marty weren't competing in the tri, but they sure had their own grueling day out there on the course. They spent a lot of time, effort and energy following us around the corn fields of Iowa both cheering us on and taking lots of photos.
As you can see from the photos at the top, all those hours on the course took a toll: both Marcia and Marty sprouted mustaches and needed glasses...


Here are a few:













Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Bay-BEEEE!



Hubby and I celebrated three blissful years of marriage yesterday.

"WHAAAAAT????", you say? "You and Hubby, hip oldsters that you are, have only been married THREE years????"

Well, we've known each other and been a couple for a lot longer than 3 years. We dated for a
L O N G time and then we moved in together (living in sin) and then we tied the knot in Las Vegas at the Forever Grand Chapel located in the fabulous MGM Grand Resort and Casino on August 23rd, 2005.

We had a great wedding. We got married exactly how we wanted to in a place we love to visit. It wasn't cheesy Las Vegas, it was actually a very nice ceremony in a very nice chapel, surrounded by many people that we love who were there to help us celebrate.

We had two Las Vegas touches, one traditional and one very "now". We got to pick our own music for the ceremony and the song we picked for our "exit as the new couple" was a classic recording of Frank Sinatra singing "Fly Me to the Moon" -- fabulous!

The "now" piece was a web-cast of the wedding that allowed people that did not come to the wedding to watch us through that "interweb" thing. That was great!
It has been a great three years and things only get better.

Our tradition is that Hubby plans our anniversary celebration for the odd years and I plan it for the even years.

Yesterday, Hubby proved he did a lot of really great planning!

We drove to Cannon Falls (about one hour south of Minneapolis) and we played a really fun and challenging round of golf at Gopher Hills.


The front 9 holes is set up as a "links" style course -- wide open spaces, lots of natural grasses, not much water. The photo to the right is of the front 9.


The back 9 holes is a more traditional course -- lots of trees, doglegs and elevation.



It was a perfect day -- sunny, warm, but not too hot. We played some holes brilliantly, some -- not so much.


After golf, we drove to Red Wing -- a very charming town on the banks of the Mississippi River town -- where we spent the night.




We took a walk down to the main river launch in the middle of the town, where lots of other folks were watching a beautiful sunset.


The American Queen riverboat had just launched from Red Wing and was taking its passengers down to St. Louis


We had a fantastic meal at a restaurant called Norton's and the Lucky Cat Lounge. Hubby had a very flavorful Cuban pork roast and I had grilled salmon. Deeelish!

Today, we woke up, had a little coffee before we got on the rode and then drove about 30 minutes to Prescott, Wisconsin, where my sister and brother-in-law keep their boat.

We went on a long, lazy river ride from Prescott to Afton for lunch. We all had a wonderful time enjoying the day.

Hubby and I both got a chance to really relax with each other and just to just "enjoy".

Now, I have 364 days to plan Anniversary #4....

I love you Choppy...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bittersweet and Sweet: Pigman 1/2 Iron Recap


Bittersweet:
Still reeling from having to euthanize Gorby on Monday night. Sad, crabby and eating every thing in sight. (I'm an emotional eater, in case you haven't figured that out...)

I did receive a curious call from the U last night. The doctor how had performed the initial necropsy yesterday called to ask if Gorby had been euthanized or if he had died on his own. She said the report didn't reflect what had happened.

I told her that we had to euthanize him and then asked her how extensive the tumors were in his midsection. She said they were multiple tumors all over his midsection and that the rate at which they reoccurred was "astonishing". She said that I made the right decision for him, which helps, but doesn't make the decision or the loss any less painful.

Anyway...

Sweet: Pigman 1/2 Iron Recap:


For those of you who like the "short version" .

Did I have fun? Yes

Was it hard? Parts of it

Will I do a 1/2 iron distance event again? You bet!
The stats:

Swim 1.2 miles: 49:18

T1: 5:02

Bike 56 miles: 3:45:51

T2: 4:28

Run 13.1 miles: 2:55:40

Total: 7:40:17



Long, drawn out version with PHOTOS!
I drove down to Cedar Rapids my good friends: Marcia and Marty L. Marcia has been training partner of mine and Nat's for many years and a veteran of many triathlons and marathons.

In fact, many of my running friends say ""MMMDI (Marcia Made Me Do It) because she gets us involved and excited about participating in lots of crazy events and activities. Marty is newer to this whole marathon thing, but has two under his belt: Marine Corp and Grandma's.

We met Natalie at the 'official' hotel, where many other triathletes were getting settled in to their rooms, getting their bikes check by Gear West, picking up their race packets and milling about.

The first thing Nat said to me was "We have the cheapest bikes here".

This is pretty much what all the other bikes looked like:




This is what our bikes looked like:
Actually, Nat has a very nice bike, complete with Aerobars. I have a great hybrid from Marin (the Fairfax). It is light weight, comfortable and gets me where I need to go. I'm just much slower getting there...

None the less, we felt woefully under equipped. And the race wasn't until the next day...

We wanted to check out the actual race area and get in to the lake for a test swim. This was a recommendation from our coach Greg. He also told us to check out the bike route, which turned out to be a very smart idea.

The start of the race is about 13 miles outside of Cedar Rapids -- Palo, Iowa. We got to the park and found a few other athletes checking out the lake and transition area.

Race officials were marking the swim route and the buoys look to be a L O N G way out, covering a L O T of the lake. More panic.

We got in the water and did a couple of quick laps, which helped relieve my anxiety quite a bit.

Once I got in to the rhythm of the swim, I thought: "Okay, I've spent a lot of time training this summer; I've put in the time and the effort. I just have to remember to put one foot in front of the other; take one stroke at a time and I'll be fine".

Driving the bike course was also helpful, because the map of the course was NOT very helpful. We got lost a couple of times, but made mental notes of the right turns; the location of hills and "rumbles" on the road.

Both Nat and I got very quiet during our course drive.

"Damn. Fifty-six miles IS a long way...."

We made our way back to the hotel, picked up Marcia (who had been volunteering at the check-in desk) and Marty and went to Olive Garden for dinner.

Marcia had prepared goodie bags for us filled with lots of fun treats, including Goldfish, sunblock, and funny glasses:






After dinner, it was time for bed.

The alarm went off early -- 4:15 am.


Nat and I got every all our stuff ready and caught a little bit of the Olympics. I think NBC was covering the popular sport of Four Square at 4:00 am....Here is a shot of Nat eating the first of many energy bars for the day watching the rousing game between Albania and Turks/Caicos...


Finally, we were ready to go, and I took this self portrait. Mostly "just in case" so that if I didn't survive, Hubby would have a photo of me:











We got to the event, set up our transition area and freaked out.


Marcia volunteered to do body marking:
And then it was time to start.

Nat and I signed up as Athena's, so we were in the 2nd wave. The Elites went in to the water at 7:30 am; we went in at 7:31 am.

The water was cool enough that we could wear wetsuits. That extra buoyancy really adds confidence! I felt really great in the water and did the ENTIRE swim without taking a break. That is a triathlon first for me. I was very surprised when I looked at my watch and it indicated that I took 49 minutes to cover 1.2 miles. I was very pleased.

Transition 1 took a couple minutes longer than usual. The day was going to be very hot and sunny and I needed to make sure that I had some sunscreen protection.

Finally got out on the bike course and had to walk through a couple of early mental challenges. "Man, it is going to be a really long day out here."

"Geeze, I don't really want to do all these HILLS".

"I should quit!"

But, I didn't! I just kept pedalling. Up and down; Up and Down; UP and down: UP and down

Marcia and Marty were driving the course to find us at various spots to provide cheers, water, ice and comic relief. At one point, they both were wearing the glasses/nose combo, which was hysterical. It was great to see them out there.

As tough as the hills were, I really had good energy along the course and at the end. I ate fig newtons (from Target -- deelicous, by the by), some Clif Shots, and Gatorade Endurance Formula with some Carbo Pro mixed in.

I was very surprised and very pleased that I didn't bonk at all nutritiously out there on the course.

The bike portion took me 3:45:51. I was much slower than I thought I'd be, but I contribute that to the hills and the Barbie bike...

Run: Okay, so it is now 11:50 am on a cloudless, hot August day in Iowa, where there is lots of corn, hogs and soybeans, but not many Maples or Oaks...

No shade on the run course.

No kidding.

I knew that I'd finish the race. There was no doubt. I decided that I was going to really just "have a day" out there and not kill myself for time. I was so happy with my swim and so happy that I wasn't about to keel over from hunger that what ever time that 1/2 marathon was going to take was fine with me.

So I "ran". Meaning I ran some but walked a lot. In my defense, there were a ton of people walking the course. I think the sun wore out a lot of us.

The course was very well organized with a water stop at every mile. Each was stocked with adequate water, Powerade, pretzels, animal crackers, oranges, bananas and ICE.

Wonderful, fantastic, refreshing ice. Ahhhhh....

I was amazed at how fast the miles clicked by, even though I was really taking my time.

I finally saw Natalie again right after mile 4 for me; about mile 8 for her. She looked great. She was taking her sweet time out on the run course as well. We chatted for a moment and then moved on.

Marcia and Marty were again out on the course. By now, they were the "new best friends" of many of the athletes on the course, since so many of us saw them at so many places. There aren't many spectators out along the course so I think a lot of participants were very happy to see Marcia and Marty multiple times during the event.

The last three miles of the run are uphill as you go back in to the park. That was the only real tough, tough spot out on the course. I found Marcia one more time, with about a mile to go. She hung with me until I turned that final corner and then I took off for the finish.

Crossed the line and felt unbelievably happy, proud and accomplished.

I found Natalie, who was also just beaming. (A grimy, sweaty beam, but beaming nonetheless).

We all hung around the finish area for a while and then got ready to go back to the hotel.

Cathy Yndestad, a triathlete from Apple Valley, came in first for women at the event. She is an amazing athlete.

The win at Pigman was her 11th win out of 12 starts THIS YEAR.

She was leaving as we were leaving and I went over to introduce myself and to tell her congrats. She was very gracious to all of us and heartily congratulated Nat and I on our accomplishment.

The nicest thing she said to us was that it was a tough day and a tough course. That made Nat and I feel like we were champions, even if we did ride Barbie Bikes.

Marcia and Marty took lots of photos too. When I get copies, I'll post some, and promise to not write as much...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gorby

I finished Pigman 1/2 Iron tri yesterday. Nat and I did a great job and had a lot of fun. Our very good friends Marcia and Marty were in Iowa with us and provided the best support triathletes could ever want.

I'll post a full race report with photos in a few days. I just am not up to it today.


I drove back to Minneapolis today to sadness.


Over the weekend, before I left for Iowa, we noticed that there were wet spots on the bed where Gorby had been spending his days.


We thought a first that we had spilled some water, but Hubby noticed on Saturday night the Gorby was "dribbling". He was starting to lose his ability to control his bladder.


His appetite had not picked up much -- even with the prednisone and was continuing to lose weight.


When I got home today, I called the Vet at the U and we determined the cutting his dose of prednisone might help.


I felt relieved with that diagnosis -- until he tried to get off the bed.

Gorby couldn't really stand well, his back legs collapsed several times under him. He made his way in to the kitchen and plopped down on the floor.


Kirby and Lefty, two of our other cats, came to stand guard over Gorby, but this was clearly the sign that I had to have that enough was enough and I had to help my friend get to the Rainbow Bridge.


Hubby came home. We called the U and told them we were coming in.


We got Gorby in to his carrier and took the very long, sad ride to the clinic.


The people at the U and the set up has always been impressive to me. They have a very comfortable space for both the humans and the animals to say goodbye.


We took our time with Gorby; he purred and we cuddled.


Then when we were all ready, the very nice vet with the very hard job injected the medicine to stop Gorby's heart while I held him close to me and I sobbed my heart out.


I got to hold him for a while longer and then the vet took clay impressions of his paws for me.


I'll get him back in a few weeks after his autopsy (necropsy) and cremation.


I just hope that I was the very best support to him that he could ever expect.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Look at that COUNTDOWN TIMER!

Yes, we are within 1 day and 20 hours of Pigman TRI! Yikes!

The summer of training just flew by.

Do I feel stonger?

Definitely.

Am I ready?

Hope so!

Am I nervous?

Absolutely.


My goal: enjoy the day and do the best I can. Finish the race with a smile and be proud to say "I am an 1/2 Iron(wo)man.

A shout out to my friend and fellow Pig: Natalie.

We are going to ROCK!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I am not a Mountain Goat...



The story, as it goes, is that I was rather klutzy as a child.

I don't remember it as such, but, I've been told.

Actually, I've been told that my mother first noticed this.

She remarked to someone after one of my falls, that had I been born a Mountain Goat, I would not have survived my first year.

She was certain that I would have fallen off some cliff or mountain side and would have never made goat -- er, I mean HUMAN middle-age.

Well, some things never change.

Since moving up to bike clips this year, I've fallen about 5 or 6 times. I've broken 3 mirrors. I've had bruised hips, hands full of road rash and a very beaten up ego.

Why ego, you ask?

With the exception of the crash that happened a few weeks ago, when I was riding over the Mendota Bridge and a kid, going the opposite way, crossed over the middle line and clipped my handle bars causing us both to fly off our bikes, every single fall has happened when I was either coming to a stop, or STOPPED.

Yes, stopped.

I'll clip out of my right pedal with no problems, glide to a stop and then WHAM! Fall over on my left side when unable, for whatever reason, to not be able to get my foot out of the saddle.

Fortunately, I have not done this in traffic.

Unfortunately, I have done this in front of other bikers, small children and many, many friends.


I fell last week, broke the mirror and scrapped my knee. Also had a wicked tender spot on the inside of my upper thigh on the left side, where the saddle landed -- hard-- in to my leg.

Today, my wonderful friends Marcia, Gary, Kathy T, Cheryl and Julie all joined me for my last "long" ride before Pigman.

We rode together for about 2 hours and then the team was going to head on back to their cars and I was going to go do one last little burst-of-speed blast.

I pulled off the trail to say goodbye, clipped out of the right side, stopped, and WHAM. Fell over to the LEFT, re-scraping my poor scabbed up knee, and re-hitting that tender spot on my thigh.

The mirror did not break.
Note to self: Find someone or figure out the way to loosen up the clip on my left bike shoe.


Bigger note to self: Mom was right.





Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Updates: Cat, Toe, Training - cha cha cha


Several updates today.



I'll start with the easiest:

Training:

I did a ROCKING swim yesterday with friends and fellow triathletes Marcia, Gary and Dave. We went to one of Marcia's fav places, Little Long Lake, which is a nice sized, clean lake just outside of Minneapolis. Gas boats and "large" boats are not allowed on the lake, so if there is any boaters, they are in small motorized fishing boats, canoes or kayaks.


The lake is secluded enough that there are not pesky policemen waiting to bust you with a $125.00 ticket for open water swimming. It is not so secluded that there were several other triathletes doing practice swims, so we were definitely not alone in the water.

We swam from the boat launch to a dock, to the other side of the lake, where we encountered about 25 campers, who looked to be about 12 or 13 years old and who were getting ready to go on to the lake for a little canoe adventure. I'm sure we looked like creatures of the sea emerging to attack the camp when we came out of the water.


I did not wear my wetsuit in preparation for the possibility of the lake at Pigman being too warm to allow us to us them. Usually, I depend on the wetsuit for that extra buoyancy in the water.

Yesterday, though I felt very good in the water without it. Hurray. Progress!

Toe:

You might recall Nat's "toe of woe" story from June where she ripped off her big toe nail while trying to put her bike rack on her car.



It took her several weeks to scab over and now she has this cute little bacon strip looking thing where her nail used to be. Looks oh, so chic. (See pics on her blog).

Well, never to be one to let my friends suffer alone, I had my own toe incident recently.

Actually, the actual "incident" happened in July at the Richfield long pool. I was helping to put the lane lines in the water for one of our practice swims and a rung from the line slipped under my big toe nail. Someone pulled up on the line and SNAP went my toe nail.

Hurt and bled like a muthafocker.


What I didn't realize until last Sunday, is that when it went SNAP, it really snapped the nail at the nail bed. I was taking off nail polish and realized I could lift the entire toe nail off my toe, except at one tiny corner where it was still attached to the nail bed.

yeech.


I could see that I had a new nail forming under the old one, so I just clipped the old one off. My new nail does not look like bacon, but it sure does look strange next to the others.


So Nat and I are TOE-ins. (Say it quick; should sound sorta like TWINS).






Cat:

You are probably sick of hearing about Gorby, but it is what it is. He had a recheck with an oncologist at the U this morning and the news was not good at all.

Tumors are back (surgery was a little over three weeks ago). This is a very aggressive cancer indeed.

The Vet, a very, very nice man, outlined a range of treatments including chemo, feeding tubes, blah, blah, blah to doing nothing but making Gorby comfortable.

The chemo course does not really do a lot for him -- it may extend his time a little. It may not.

The "do-nothing" course is also a crap shoot. We don't know how long it may be (or may not be) until he loses his appetite all together, is in pain (or not), is no longer having any quality of life.

Very sad news.


Hubby came with me this morning, and that was very helpful to have the extra support and pair of ears.

Right now, this moment, I'm leaning towards some minor medication to help relieve inflammation and to just let him enjoy what ever time he has left, spoiling him rotten.

I really don't like my friends (furry or otherwise) suffer alone.


And this absolutely breaks my heart.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Urban Wildland --

I got back from SFO, safe and sound. The trip was successful work-wise, Hubby-wise and training-wise.

I had that awesome hillwork out (see previous post) and also got a swim workout in. No, not in the bay, but in a pool at Club One. My hotel had discounted guest passes, so I took advantage of that.

The pool was small (only 3 lanes and 25 yards long), but I got in 2000 yards in a little less than an hour. I've been very, very spoiled by the 50 meter swims at Richfield this summer. Going back to 25 yards is "weird".

The shorter lengths also means I'll have to spend lots more time in the lake before Pigman, which is ONLY 14 days away. In fact, in two weeks, I'll be on the bike course of the event right about now....

Urban Wildland 1/2 Marathon was yesterday. It was my third time running the race.

Urban Wildland is a very well organized, pretty race. It starts at the Richfield Pool park (more officially known as Veterans Park), winds through a couple of nature preserves, through some nice neighborhoods, where the folks come out to cheer, and then finishes back at the park.

Last year I PRd at Urban (2:16:47 -- 10:24 per mile) This year, no PR.

Two of my friends, Cheryl and Carla, also ran the race yesterday. We all started together, but quickly started to do our own thing.

I ran really well to mile 11. I got there at 1:59 on my watch, which equates a 10:49 pace. I was doing my 7 minute run/1 minute walk thing and was feeling pretty darn good.

At mile 11, it was as if someone deflated the "feel good" balloon. It took me about 26 minutes to cover the last 2.1 miles. (Pitiful).

Finish time 2:25:02, or 11:04 per mile. Sigh.

The good news is this was my third best 1/2 marathon time....I also had a very FUN time, so that is good. I also have officially "covered the distance" for Pigman, so I know I can do it.

Cheryl and Carla also did really well yesterday, so it was a successful day for all.

So now, I move in to the last week of all out training for Pigman. Natalie and I were supposed to bike this morning, but it was raining so we decided to do our own workouts. We will hook up at some point this week to hammer out a swim or bike or run.

---
Cat Update: Thanks to Sabrina and Ginna for doing such a great job cat sitting. All the cats are doing well, although Gorby's status remains a mystery to me.

He seems a bit thinner and, although still eating, is not eating with the same voracity he was just last week. I'm supposed to get more information this week from the Vet -- so I'll have more info to make decisions and / or have a better understanding of what's to come.