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

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.


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


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


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

The summer of training just flew by.

Do I feel stonger?


Am I ready?

Hope so!

Am I nervous?


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:


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!


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.


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).


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.