Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kirby 12.29.09


Kirby the Cat moved on to the Rainbow Bridge on Tuesday morning, December 29th. It was about as sad a day as they come.

Kirby was originally Hubby's cat. Hubby and his kids adopted Kirby from a Humane Society when Kirby was just a baby kitten. The runt of the litter, in fact.

The adoption came during a tough time for Hubby. He was in the middle of a nasty custody fight which he was fighting tooth and nail. The kids were still little; Kirby helped fill Hubby's house with love and activity when the kids weren't there. Kirby would also provide a lot of comfort on the really bad days, when there was a court hearing, or some ridiculous demand from his ex would arrive in the form of a letter via US Mail. And, of course, Kirby would just be gentle, loving Kirby every other hour of every other day, bringing a lot of smiles, purrs and happiness in to Hubby's life.

We were just dating when Hubby adopted Kirby. I had my own cats and lived in a different house. When Hubby and I decided to move in together, we knew we were blending families: human and fur.

My cat Callie fell in love with Kirby pretty quickly. The two became fast friends. They would hang out together a lot and just sort of "be".

My other cat, Gorby, was definitely the alpha male in the house. He and Kirby did not get along so well for a long time. They finally got to a point where Gorby tolerated Kirby and then gradually got to appreciate each other.

In fact, it was Kirby that would keep Gorby company when Gorby was sick with the cancer that finally took him 16-months ago.

When Gorby died, my heart was fully broken. I didn't think I could ever reach that level of grief again.

I was wrong.

Kirby got sick very suddenly. He developed a strange hacking cough that got progressively worse over Christmas weekend. Finally, late on Sunday night, his breathing was very labored and we rushed him to the University of Minnesota Small Animal Hospital.

At first, the doctor thought it might be heart failure or cancer. They put Kirby in to an oxygen cage, which helped his breathing while the doctors ran tests through the night.

Monday morning, results were inconclusive, although both heart failure and cancer were ruled out.

Kirby was doing okay in the oxygen cage, but would begin gasping for air within about a minute when taken out.

More tests.

The only thing that came up as a possibility was something called "lipoid pneumonia". It is extremely rare. So rare that no one at the U had seen it in a live cat, only in one's passed away. Still, they were not positive that this was the problem.

We had a chance to visit Kirby on Monday night. We could put our hands in to the oxygen cage to pet him via a couple of port holes.

The doctor suggested trying a heavy dose of steroids to try to reduce the inflammation around his lungs. If the steroids were going to work, we'd see an improvement in about 24-hours. Hubby thought it was worth the effort, Kirby got the shot and we went home to wait.

The next morning, very early, we got a call from the doctor. The news came that the steroids had not helped and, in fact, Kirby was doing much worse. His carbon dioxide level had increased significantly. His lungs were just not strong enough to expel the air out, which created a build up.

The vet did not think that Kirby could keep up the effort of breathing for much longer.

With very heavy hearts, Hubby and I drove to the U and got to spend our last few minutes with Kirby. Then, Warren made one of the hardest decisions he's ever had to make in his life.

As peaceful as Kirby's passing was, it does not erase the fact that our house and our souls are just a bit more empty this New Year's Eve. That horrible ache I felt when Gorby died is back and it feels just as bad now as it did then.

Callie seems to be missing her friend too. She is sleeping upstairs on the couch that the two of them frequently shared.

I'm just hoping that Kirby has found Gorby at the Rainbow Bridge and that the two of them are sharing a little snooze and maybe some catnip and a really good tin of canned cat food.

Rest in peace, Kirby. We love you and miss you a lot.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Kwanzakah

Happy Holidays
Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad
Happy Hanukkah (late)
Happy Kwanza
Happy Winter Solstice
and all that jazz....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"what I learned last week on vacation..."

Hubby and I went on our first cruise last week.

It was a B L A S T.

Hubby's golf partner, Paul, and his wife, Deb, have done the cruise thing for years. They invited us to join them for some sun, golf and ocean breezes.

We booked on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which is the "freestyling" cruise line. Do what you want pretty much when you want.

We left Miami, had two full days at sea Grand Cayman and Cozumel as our ports of call. We golfed at both locations.

Let me say again: We had a B L A S T.

However, the big lesson learned on the trip was

"Check your camera BEFORE leaving the house".


My digital was on the fritz. Grrrrrr.

I had to buy an overpriced disposable on the ship ("duty free"!) which really limited my clicking creativity!


I'll post more about our adventures shortly, but will leave you with this:

When I got home, I did a little Google search on "Nikon Coolpix S4 problems" and found this:


Problem for Nikon Coolpix S4 Digital Camera
Coolpix S4, display doesnt show any image

Resolution: My camera worked again when i knock it gently to a table surface (object side).

I smacked the camera a bit and voila! Image popped up like a charm.


Guess we'll just have to take another cruise....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Arrives. Blech

After an unseasonably warm and dry November, winter officially arrived in Minnesota last week.

Nat and I did a quick run on Tuesday when the temps were still "balmy" -- 40s during the day and 30's at night.

On Wednesday, the wind shifted and the temps dropped. We had our first dusting of snow early on Thursday morning.

Now, the furnace kicks on about twice an hour; the lakes are starting to freeze and I broke out the Cuddle Duds.

Training this week went well. Coach Dan had me in the water three times; on the bike four times and running three times. I made it all but one of the runs, which was scheduled for Thursday night, the first really cold night so far. I just couldn't muster the gumption to get out and get it done.

Instead, Hubby and I hit Golfsmith, where they were having a 25% off of most everything sale. We stocked up on some golf balls, tees and got a couple of used clubs.

Why?

We are going on a little golf vacation soon with some friends of ours. The weather should be warm and sunny, which will be a very nice break.

I'll also be able to get some training in while I'm on vacation. It will be nice to run without wearing mittens and long underwear.

One last SHOUT OUT to Sabrina, Hubby's daughter. She's been getting in to fitness recently and ran her first 5K on Thanksgiving (see last post). She ran her SECOND 5K on Saturday -- the Reindeer Run.

She is really getting in to it, which is really fabulous. I'm very proud of her and her accomplishments!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Day and Torture Device







Long time, no post.

No particular reason; not feeling particularly inspired (or uninspired). Just not posting. You know how that goes.

Thanksgiving has come and gone in a BLINK. Hubby and I hosted this year. Served turkey and stuffing to 17 friends and family in total.

Warren's son spend the holiday with his mom, but we had the great honor of having his daughter, her fiancee and one of their friends join us for dinner. That really was very nice.

Our good golf friends, Paul and Deb, also joined us for dinner. They don't have other family here in Minneapolis, so we invited them to join the madness at our house. It was great to have them with us.

The other really cool part of the day is that Daughter and Fiancee both ran their very first 5K Thanksgiving morning! They joined Hubby, my great running pals Mary, Marcia, Gary and Marty and their families, me and 12,000 other runners at the TurkeyDay 5K held in downtown Minneapolis.


It was a blast and everyone did well. I'm very proud of them all for getting out there and getting hooked by the running bug.



Hubby and I had the rest of the weekend off. Slept late; ate leftovers; visited friends; slept some more. It was perfect.


Today, back to work and back to base training in earnest.

I took my base test with Coach Dan at SCS Multisport. I have some minor corrections to work on with my swim; a ton of work to do to increase power and endurance on the bike; and a few things to work on with my run, not the least of which is SPEED.

I decided to have him start sending me workouts now (which is just a polite way of saying I'll pay him to torture me). I've been enjoying my workouts waaaay too much lately, which just means I have not been working out with any amount of real effort.

He started me out today with 2050 yards in the pool, working on some drills and some builds; then I spent 40 minutes on my torture device, er I mean bike trainer.




YEEEECCCCCH.

Now I know that I'll have to become friends with my bike trainer, as I'll be sitting in the saddle a lot over the winter.

It is amazing how much tougher it is to ride the trainer than it is to ride outside.

But ride I will, whenever Coach Dan tells me to.

Looks like the long journey to Ironman Wisconsin has officially begun!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Exciting times for blogger friends

Several of my blogging friends have completed some big events recently:

Dori ran NY Marathon. She has YET to post her race report, but we did talk to each other shortly after she finished the race. Dori and I have been friends for many years. She is the one who got me in to blogging in the first place. . I am anxiously awaiting her blog update.

Waddler, now known as IRON WADDLER, completed the Beach2Battleship iron distance event last weekend. She wrote a really great race report about her experience which was interesting, inspiring and encouraging. (I like reading reports where people talk about the good stuff and the hard stuff. This definitely helps my mental prep for what I may expect during IM WI 2010).

TriSharkie did B2B too and had a very interesting 'heartfelt' experience...

Nancy Toby did the 1/2 Iron at B2B. She also wrote a great race and travel report.

Slimdown 220 did Ironman Florida. Another great job.

Beth wrote about her experience as an Iron/Spectator now IronWife. Her husband also did Ironman Florida. I'm looking forward to reading her husband's guest blog entry soon.

Sunshine posted some great pics and stories about her experience at the OBX Marathon.

Nat went through her pre-training tests with the coach we'll both be using. I won't tell you what she said in emails to me...I'll wait for her to update everyone via her blog.

My non-blogging friend Mary took her son to New York City to help celebrate their birthdays. No official running events involved, but running that city with a teenage boy? She deserves a medal for sure!

Me? I traveled this week to San Francisco where I walked a lot (but did not run, swim or bike). I've been successful at avoiding chocolate covered peanuts for over a week now. Both of my updates are exciting, but not nearly as exciting as those of my rockin' blogger friends.

CONGRATS to ALL!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monster Birthdays



Yesterday morning, birthday girls Nat and Mary, Marcia, Gary, me, Brenda, Heather and Jill all ran in one of the Monster events. Nat did the 1/2 marathon; the rest of us did the 10-miler.

The morning was plenty "crisp" (a Minnesota-way to say "cold") and windy, but the events were very fun.

Although none of us had the same sort of fantastic finish as our friend Steve, we were all happy to have finished and happier to go out to eat after the race.

I ran pretty well for where I am with my running. After struggling to "fall in love" with it again, I really am enjoying being out there and am feeling like I'm getting stronger.

I ran from mile 1.5 to 6 with Heather, Brenda and Jill, who were running each mile to the mile marker and then taking a 1 minute walk break. This pushed my pattern of LSD 6/1 a bit, which was good for me.

At mile 6 I dropped back a bit and took a couple extra walk breaks, but still finished in under 2 hours (barely), which was my goal.



After the race, we all went out for a quick breakfast. Hubby, Marcia's hubby Marty and Mary's love, Tom joined us.

I brought some cupcakes for dessert to help celebrate birthdays. (The real reason is that I love cake and will look for any and every excuse to eat it.... -- no really, it is because I love my friends and wanted them to feel special and so I could eat cake.... No, really....)






Re: Ironman stuff:

No swimming for the week. I was under the weather for a few days and didn't make it in to the pool. Nat and I will start going to a Masters swim group in a couple weeks, so that will help keep me get in to a pattern.

I finally set up my bike trainer and spent a whopping full HOUR on it last week. That was much tougher than I thought. Plan is to be on it three times in the coming week.

I am sure there will be a week/day/moment when these words will come back to haunt me, but I sort of wish I was really in training already. I'm getting antzy and lazy. (Anxious to start and feeling like taking a nap, all at the same time.)

That every happen to you?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nice week...


I spent most of the week in Charlotte, delivering a bunch of training to Team Members there. The weather was lovely -- sunny and warm during the day, cool and comfortable during the evenings.

I looked online to see if I could find a running group to run during my stay, but the group that I found meets in the suburbs and I was staying "Uptown". The group does do a 3-mile loop in the Uptown area on Monday evenings, but I looked this up on TUESDAY, so it was a no-go for the group.

However, I mapped out their route on the map provided to me by Conrad Hilton and ran the course on my own twice. Once looping the route twice, for a little over 6 miles; the second time looping once, for a touch over 3.

The course was nice and pretty quiet, looping from Uptown to South End, over to the BofA stadium, then up some long hill and back in to the Uptown area.


I also had the chance to swim once at the Y. Covered about 1400 yards, including a ladder set of 50-100-200-100-50 with 15 seconds in-between each ladder.


I got home yesterday to much colder weather, but the leaves are still on the trees and are now displaying peak colors.


I ran this morning with Nat -- we did a 5 mile run with some pickups. I love running with her because she really helps me challenge my pace and my limits. We are both very excited about all aspects Ironman right now: the training; the event; the process.


Thanks to BETH for posting the really cool link to wordie.net on her website. You can go there, plug in the name of your blog and the system will generate a word count "map" of your common themes and words that appear on your blog. WAAAY cool!

Off to get my hair cut and colored.....also WAAY cool...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Economic Stimulus

I am personally trying to help the economy as much as I possibly can by buying "stuff" to help me train for Ironman Wisconsin.

Only sort of kidding.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks:

I've upgraded my watch, moving from a Polar Heart Rate Monitor to a Garmin FR60 because the Garmin has a running pace feature. (The coaching group that Nat and I are using want us to train by pace, not just HRM).

Ca-ching!

Today, I bought a bike trainer so I can wile away the winter hours riding my bike in my house while watching TV. All in all, a much better proposition than wiling away the hours riding my bike OUTSIDE during the winter.

Ca-ching!

I'm not complaining because these tools are going to be very useful -- and I already really like the Garmin. It's taken me a little time to get used to the features, but I like the pace feature and find that little Virtual Partner of mine annoying (in a good way).

I am also not complaining because I'm fortunate to have a steady job in this economy, which means I can help spend money at some of our local business places (as opposed to mega stores).

I may be done with some of the economic outflow for a bit. (I'll buy Nat's old aerobars soon, but that really might be it until 2010).

Other news for the week: we had more snow and rain and cold temps over the last week, but the sun made a very welcome appearance yesterday and today, heralding in this year's version of Indian Summer.

I ran yesterday morning with Gary and Mary. It was a great run on a beautiful crisp morning. The air was brisk; the leaves on the trees brilliant and spending time with them was wonderful.

Later in the afternoon, Hubby and I went golfing with our golfing friends. The boys played together and the girls played together. The two other women are very fun and we all have a blast. The six of us went out to dinner at Kona Grill, a new restaurant here in the cities.

Today, the weather was even nicer. After buying the bike trainer, I met Mary and her sister for coffee and then took one last spin OUTSIDE on my bike. It was GREAT!

Coming up:

I travel to Charlotte tomorrow and will be there for the week. I'll train at the local Y and outdoors and will hopefully be able to enjoy a little warmer weather.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moving from hot to cold

I spent the majority of last week in Tempe delivering 10 training sessions to people that work in our business line.

I facilitated 3 classes on Tuesday; 4 on Wednesday, 2 on Thursday and one on Friday. Phew.

I also had a chance to enjoy some nice, warm weather. The temps were "cool" for Tempe -- 50s and 60s in the morning, rising up to the mid 80s during the day.

The weather people were warning people to wear a jacket or grab an extra blanket.

I slept with my hotel windows wide open and said "boo hoo" to all the Tempe weather wimps.

I also got one run in (wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt) and two swims. One indoor and one OUTDOOR!

The outdoor swim was wonderful! Sure wish we had an outdoor lap pool here that wasn't overrun by kids. We do have the Richfield long course (50 meters), which we can use in July at night, but I'm not familar with an outdoor pool option that can be used for lapswims during the day.

I really loved feeling the warm sun on my back and the cool water flowing around me. Plus it was cool to see my shadow on the bottom of the pool.

I came home Friday and you know what? You want COLD?

Try SNOW on October 10th. OUR weather people tell US that it was the earliest snow in Minnesota in over 24 years.

Fortunately, it melted pretty quick. Unfortunately, it is cold. Normal highs are in the 60s. Today, it was barely freezing when I woke up. So, I elected to turn over, get some more zzzz's and get my run in later in the day.

By the time I went out (dressed in long running tights, warm socks, long sleeved shirt, jacket, mittens and headband), the sun had peaked out from the clouds making the view pretty, but the temps were still cold.

People were hauling the last of the sailboats out of Lake Calhoun; there were significantly less people walking or running the lake, but the leaves on the trees were pretty and the water was still open.

It was a nice run.

After my run, I visited a local running store and bought a new HRM/pace watch. My coach for IM WI wants me to train using pace, not heart rate. It will be pretty depressing to actually see my pace, but hopefully it will help me in the long run. (ha ha).

We'll just see how that goes.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Training Updates

I think Nat and I found the company to work with for Ironman coaches: SCS Multisport. We both interviewed one of the co-owners last week and he seemed to pass all the "test" questions we had prepared. Both Nat and I had our own customized "test" question lists, based on our particular wants/needs.

My test questions were things like: "How do you feel about working with older/slower athletes?" and "How do you REALLY feel about working with older/slower athletes?" and "How comfortable are you with helping me with my goofy nutritional needs for the Ironman?"

Our guy passed with flying colors.

Training in earnest won't start until early 2010, but I will have some some base tests done measuring swim, bike and run outputs in early November.

I have one month to get ready for those tests.

Another test for me was running part of Twin Cities Marathon today. I had signed up to run the full marathon after I did not get in to New York this year.

My training went out the window for many reasons. My biggest problem was that I just was not in to running last summer.

Fortunately, my love affair with running started to get back on course at Square Lake tri. I had a really comfortable run at that event. Each time I've laced up the shoes from there on out has really been a nice experience. Hurrah.

It was too late for me to try to prepare for the full 26.2, but I thought I'd just get out on the course today and have some fun.

I ran pretty well, sticking to my 6 minute run/1 minute walk plan and just had fun. I got to mile 5 in 55 minutes and some change and then pulled out at mile 7 at 1:20:00. (I had a loooong mile time between mile five and six, where I pretty much dilly-dallied.)

The "predictor" had me coming in at a 5:07 finish, which would have been a HUGE PR and a GIANT miracle.

Other friends ran the 10-mile event. Gary, Mary, Beth, Steve and Sarah all had great races. I'm very proud of their results.

I'm also happy I enjoyed the day and did well with what I could do.

I ran another mile or so back to our house, showered and then met Nat and Cheryl at mile 21 to watch the true marathoners. The weather was perfect, so pretty much everyone we saw looked great out there on the course.

After watching the runners, I met Hubby and our golfing friends for lunch. Paul, Hubby's golf partner for tournaments, has a birthday next week, so we were able to celebrate with him today.

Next week, I travel for work but will be some where warm where I can run outside and will also have a chance to post some swim yardage and time on the bike.

Hurrah.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Out with the short sleeves, in with the wool....

Some one must have flipped the big switch in the sky, because fall fell here in Minnesota as fast as I've ever experienced it.

A week ago, the day was lovely: sunny, warm with a hint of a breeze. We slept with the windows open. Sunday, we golfed with some friends and about the time we hit the 7th hole, the wind picked up and shifted, the temp dropped like a stone and fall was here.

By the end of the week, I had turned on our furnace; shut most of the storm windows and pulled out the down comforter.

Today was the final confirmation that the season has definitely changed: I put away my summer shirts, pulled out my sweaters and WORSE YET, switched out most of my summer running gear in exchange for my winter pants, shirts, mittens, gloves and hats.

Dang.

I also find myself a little extra blue this time of year. Cold weather drags on me. I hate being cold 99% of the time; I hate waking up in the dark and leaving work in the dark. I hate feeling like I live in a hermetically sealed jar. So, inevitably, the first month or so of the season change leaves me a little melancholy.

I do have to say that I love the pretty fall leaves; the crisp fall air is usually a nice change (if we've actually had a summer with some heat and humidity); and there is some thing to be said about halloween candy :-)

Today was also fun because we got to go to the Badger/Gopher football game. The last time I was at a Badger game, I was a freshman at Wisconsin. I sat in the Student (aka Nose Bleed) section of Camp Randall stadium and spent my time drinking and participating in the "O SUCKS" chants that our section ("P", of course..) screamed over at our fellow game goers one section to our right.

Fast forward many years later when four really wonderful tickets were auctioned off as part of a fund raising event my company participates in. The tickets were offered as two sets of two tickets. We could bid on one set or both.

I was bound and determined to win all four tickets. I felt the tickets were part omen and part-homage to my year-long Madison connection since I'm doing IM WI 2010.

The tickets were for seats right on the 50-yard line, 9 rows behind the Gopher team bench. They could not be beat. I wanted to win the tickets, and then take Hubby, my sister and brother-in-law with me to the game.

There were a couple other guys from work that also bid on the tickets. The auction was open for about one week. About 30-minutes before the auction closed, I took a pile of work and my Blackberry in to our lunch room where the bidding sheets were posted and parked my self at a table next to the sheets.

The second my Blackberry hit high noon, I quickly upped the last two bids by one dollar each and won both sets of tickets.

The game was a blast. The teams were both had some really great plays and some blunders. There was enough action that we never got bored like you can if the game is a run away for one side of the other.

Of course, it didn't hurt that the Badgers won....31 to 28.

Also did not hurt that the seats were AWESOME and we could see ever thing that happened on the field.

Finally, it did not hurt that the weather "cooperated". Although the day started out a little drizzly, by the time we took our seats the rain had stopped and we all stayed dry.

It should also be dry tomorrow for the Twin Cities Marathon and 10-mile events. I had signed up to run the marathon with a couple of friends, but each one of us backed out of fully training for it. One friend switched over to the 10-miler; another will be out there cheering tomorrow and me? My current plan is that I'll line up at the start in the morning and run half of the race. I figured I paid for it, so why not? I'm not a bandit; I might as well enjoy some of the event, so...we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Choo-Choo: Base Training Begins

Well, my version of base training.

What this means is that the 2009 tri season is over; it is "lull" time before training for IM WI 2010 begins in earnest.

My goals for the next three months?
  • Lose some of the stubborn weight gained last WINTER (yes, winter) that would did not seem to budge all summer (yes, SUMMER).
  • Learn to love again. No, not Hubby. I love him all the time, no matter what. Love other stuff again like running; weight lifting; weighing and mesuring portions; limiting (evenutally eliminating) sugar and getting up and going to the gym before work.
  • Have a super solid base and be ready to hit the training in earnest in January so I have a reasonable chance of finishing the Ironman standing up and before midnight.

I am dubbing this the "Little Amy That Could" base building: "I think I can; I think I can; I know I can; I know I can".

The past week was okay for basic base: I rode my bike once; swam once and ran twice.

Currently, I'm least concerned about the biking/swimming pieces. It's been running that has been so tough for me this year. I just could not really talk myself in to a committed pattern of running. So, going out twice this week seemed like a huge victory.

I ran on Wednesday with my friends Gary and Marcia. We did 6.5 miles that included lots of hills. Gary created a route that takes us from our health club to a residenital area with 3 loops of killer hills (we did the middle hill and the big hill) and then we trot over to a bird santuary (with another big hill) and then we trot over to another residential area with more big hills. Then we plod -- becasue we are tired now -- back to the club. I actually really like the course. We get to do hills but not hill repeats, which, of course, serve their own purpose.

Today, Hubby was going to golf with his buddies and woke up before me. I was supposed to meet friends to run, but he neglected to reset the alarm, so I had a nice long sleep instead.

When I got out, I ended up running 8.02 miles, which included looping Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.

http://www.mapmyrun.com/route/us/mn/minneapolis/305125400037423107


The weather today is perfect! Cool, sunny, just lovely. I got tired, but not in a bad way, just in that "gee, I'm glad I'm out here doing this and I may kind of like you, Running..." kind of way.


I just may go on a date with Running again next week!

Upcoming stuff: Next week, I'm going to interview a potential coach for next year. I contacted a group that has a track record of training people for endurance events. My biggest concern is if the coach is really willing to work with an older, slower athlete. If I'm going to pay the money, I want the attention.

I'll keep you all posted.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Recap and Renew

Recap:

Square Lake Tri: For the last three year, Square Lake has been my "adieu to summer" event. And, each year for the past three years, I'm completely surprised that it actually IS the end of the summer.

We have such a short tri season here in Minnesota. It really only spans about 3 1/2 months from June until about mid-September. I travel a bit for work and always look up tris and tri club information in the cities I visit. Charlotte's season runs through the end of October. Tempe's season never ends...Minnesota? Fourteen jam packed, filled to the max weeks.

I try to "stretch" the year by including Tri U Mah in to my tri season count. Tri U Mah is the indoor event held at the University of Minnesota every February. It kicks off the new year for me, but there is that long, cold and lonely stretch before open water swimming and official tris.

I tried to get in as many events as I could this year -- signed up for nine; only participated in eight. New Bri Tri was just too dang cold for me to get in to the water...But the other eight were fun and challenging in their own ways, culminating in Square Lake.

This season was not my stellar best. I really didn't train the way I should have or wanted to (see all my thousands of previous posts for my lame excuses as to WHY).. Once I got to the start line for Square Lake, I was a little sad about being so lazy during the season.

My friends Marcia and Gary also signed up for this event and our other friends, Angel and Rick volunteered as kayak supporters for the swim portion.

The water was perfect. The temp was great, it was smooth as glass before the athletes got in the water. I do feel pretty good about my swim progress this year. I felt more comfortable in the water this year than I ever have. I stayed with the pack, only got off course a little bit, but all in all, felt just fine in the water.

Even though I'd done this race twice before, I forgot how hilly it was. The good news is on the downs and the flats, I flew pretty well -- up to 31 mph in a couple spots. The bad part is that shifting the new bike still seems to confuse me and had some issues with it on the up's. At one point my chain fell off and I had to pop it back on. All in all my bike was okay. It will be great once I get my shifting worked out.

I was most fearful of the run, which has been the most difficult for me this year. Once I got out on the course, though I felt really just fine. I had more energy and pep and less stiffness than I had all year. This run was definitely a confidence builder for me. I CAN enjoy running. I DO enjoy running...

So, although no PR this year, I felt pretty good about the race.

Renew:

Later that afternoon, Nat and I drove to Madison to volunteer/watch Ironman Wisconsin.

WOW.

We both had been toying with the idea of signing up for IM WI 2010, but wanted to see the race first, from the up-close-and-personal view point of volunteering. I was a wetsuit peeler, Nat volunteered in the T1 area and then we both worked the water stop in Mt. Horeb.

WOW.

It was incredible to watch the event, the process and especially the athletes.

Once we were done volunteering, we walked along the run course and watched the marathon.

WOW.

It was amazing to watch the athletes do their thing. Very, very inspiring and invigorating.

So, the day after the event, we joined a long line of volunteers and others waiting for the chance to sign up for a spot in the 2010 event.

We are officially now in training.

I can't wait! Let the fun begin!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Tri 2009

I can not believe that my last tri event of 2009 happens this Saturday -- Square Lake Short course.

This year has absolutely whizzed by.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for my performance at any of my events this year.

All in all, it has been a pretty disappointing physical year for me.

I'm worse shape than I've been in for the last two years.

I've struggled with having much motivation within my personal, professional or physical lives.

The summer was cold and pretty much non-exsistant.

I got involved in not one but TWO disappointing running groups.

I bagged my first outdoor tri of the summer because it was cold (call me "wimpy"); I'm bagging on Twin Cities Marathon because I couldn't get my mojo together to actually train (call me "lazy")

I really understand that I have no one to blane for MOST of the issues I list above except myself.

I ate the chocolate covered peanuts; I hit the snooze alarm over and over and over; I got my undies in a bundle because the Running Groups weren't what I wanted. (I did NOT control the weather, however...so I get a pass on that).

For all my complaints, there were high points:

I did had fun doing the 1/2 iron distances (even through I walked the 1/2 marathon portion of one and did the other as a relay)

I have an awesome new bike.

I am swimming better than ever.

I still have a posse of wonderful tri and running friends who put up with me.

My golf game improved a lot this summer.

So, yin and yang. Ebb and flow. One step forward, two steps (and about 15 lbs) back.

Not one to leave on sour note, or "Well, There's a Way to SNAP my Motivation Back":

After Square Lake, I'm going to Madison to volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin. Nat is coming along too. AND, I'm 99.9% sure I'll be lined up with the other volunteers on Monday morning to register for the 2010 event.

If swimming 2.4, biking 112 and running 26.2 doesn't jolt me back in to Motivation Land, I'll be trading in all my athletic stuff for applique tee shirts, elastic waist band and support hose...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Anniversary Fun



Hubby and I were married four years ago...time flies indeed.

We've had four years of fun and adventures and have enjoyed every minute together. (Okay, maybe not so much when we (I) fight about chores and the division of household tasks...).

I'm happy to say that I'm married to my very best friend, my love, my confidant, my every thing. I'm grateful every day for him and our life together...

To celebrate this year, we went back to the place our lives changed: Las Vegas, Nevada.


We found cheap tickets on Orbitz and flew out last Sunday (after I participated in the St. Paul Triathlon).

We stayed at the MGM Grand, which is where we got married. We gambled a bit, took a long walk up the strip, window shopped, people watched and ate a really great meal at Craftsteak.


Fun, fun, fun.




Thank you for every thing, HUBBY. You are the best! I love you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There May Not Be an "I" in Team, but there is a Nat and Gary...


Pigman 1/2 Iron distance triathlon took place last Sunday in Palo, Iowa.

Nat and I did this as Individuals last year. It was the first 1/2 iron for both of us. We both actually trained for the event over the summer and were ready to go -- not really knowing what the day would bring.

If you are looking for a challenging, well run event, this is one to consider. The bike course has lots and lots and lots of rolling hills. The run course may have one or two trees along it to provide shade, but mostly, you are out on a shade-less course.

However, the volunteers are great. The support along the course is wonderful. And, there are NO TIME LIMITS! Key, when you are on the putzy-side, as is yours truly.

We were signed up to do the event again this year as Individuals. After finishing Chisago, we had a little conversation about doing Pigman as a relay team instead.

I really vacillated on whether or not do change over to a relay. I wanted to do the event as an Individual for a couple reasons: I was pretty sure that I could beat my Chisago time. I am also seriously considering doing Ironman Wisconsin next year and thought if I completed two 1/2s this year, that I at least would have the mental imprint of knowing I'd covered the distance.

I did end up deciding to move over to the Relay though. I volunteered to do the swim (!). Nat wanted to do the run and we recruited our friend Gary to do the bike portion.

We named our team the Swine Flew Crew and hoped that people would have a sense of humor about our making fun of the H1N1 bug...

We drove down to Iowa on Saturday. The road trip was a lot of fun. We got to the hotel, checked in, ate a little dinner and then tucked ourselves in.



Oh: we did a little check of the weather before we went to bed. You know, as a "just in case". Last year, the weather was very typical for mid-August. Hot, humid, sunny.

This year? Well....

The weather gurus were predicting rain. Rain all night, rain first thing in the morning, rain though out the day.

OH! And wind. Lots and lots and lots of wind.

Uh oh....

So Ms. SmartyPantsMe (aka "The Weather Genie") said: "Oh you know those weather people. They are never right. We'll be fine".

And this is what we woke up to....


Rain, rain, rain and wind, wind, wind.

We all were very unsure about what to do. We could have very easily just said "let's go back to bed for a few hours and then order room service".

Instead,we got our gear, loaded up the car and drove from Cedar Rapids to Palo.

It was drizzling just a bit when we set up our spot in transition. We kept telling each other that if any of us wanted to back out, we could and it would be okay. We kept setting up. It got to be time to get out of transition and to get in to wetsuits and to line up for the water.

You know how hard it is to get a wetsuit on under regular conditions? Try putting a wet wetsuit on a wet body! Fun, fun, fun!

The first wave was elites and teams. I looked at Nat and Gary and was secretly hoping that they would say "OH NO! Don't go!". But they said "Good luck" instead.

Drat.
I lined up, the race started and I was off. Fortunately, the water was very comfortable. I got in to a nice groove on the way out, although I missed a buoy.
I got to what I thought was the last one out. I looked to my right and saw another one. Looked to my left and saw a support boat. I went right. Went a pretty long way before I heard the boat guy calling to me: "Hey! Hey swimmer! You missed a buoy".

His boat had blocked the buoy from my sight. Great.

I swam back to the left to round the buoy and then started to swim the next section of the course, which ran parallel to the shore.

That is when the sky decided to open up and it POURED. Drenching, pouring soaking rain, making it very hard to see more than about a foot or two ahead. All I had going through my head was "stroke, glide, keep my elbow up; stroke, glide, keep my -- HEY! what happens if it thunders while I'm out here??? --elbow up; stroke, glide, keep my elbow up"...

Finally, I got to the turn buoy and started my way to shore.


It wasn't too long after that that I got out, saw Nat and wobbled in to transition, where Gary ripped the chip off my ankle, put it on his ankle and took off for his 56-mile adventure.

I can not tell you how impressed and in awe Nat and I were of the competitors that went out out on that bike course. The winds were unbelievable. According to Weather Underground:

  • 8:31 AM: winds: 5.0 mph, gusting to 21.9 mph
  • 9:00 AM: winds: 20.7 mph, gusting to 26.5 mph
  • 10:oo AM: winds, 18.4 mph, gusting to 31.1 mph
You get the picture...


In the meantime, poor Nat, who had just been soaked by the downpour while waiting for me to get out of the lake, was freezing cold now. Gary was going to be on that bike course for quite a while and I knew that Nat would have to find some warmer, drier clothes to change in to if she was going to be able to stick it out until it was her time to run.











So, we left transition, got in the car and rode part of the bike course to cheer on some of the bikers. No one looked happy. Everyone was struggling with the wind and the hills. We saw quite a few bikers on their way back to transition. Not because they were so speedy and on the way back to WIN!. Rather, they had just said "enough" and decided to bag it for the day.


We passed Gary at his mile 15. We cheered him on (and checked to see if he wanted to give up the ghost...) but he pressed forward on the course.

After we cheered him on, we found a teeny town with a convenience store and found some coffee. Lousy coffee, but it was warm. I only felt semi-guilty drinking it while Gary was pedaling on that windy course...


We were now back on the road looking for a Target. Eventually, we found one and Nat got a couple of things to change in to. That -- and coffee from an actual Starbucks -- made all the difference. No more chattering teeth.

Back to Palo, back to transition and back to waiting for Gary. It wasn't long and we saw him come across the timing mat. He did not look any worse for the wear. Very, very impressive.




Chip off Gary; chip on Nat and she was off.

The rain had stopped and the winds had died down bit, but it was still mostly cloudy. This worked in Nat's favor. She got a break from the sun. Gary and I drove along the course and cheered her on in a couple of spots. She really was running very well out there, keeping a nice pace and looking very strong.

Gary and I drove back to the transition area and waited for her to cross the finish line. It was a really great feeling to see her run though that chute and to know that the Swine Flew Crew finished!

I feel a little bad in that I really had the easiest part of the whole day. Even with swimming during the downpour, I was essentially done in less than an hour. Gary and Nat carried the day and really deserve the credit for our posting a successful day.

After the race, we wandered around the finish area and ate some dee-licee-ious food and shared stories with other competitors. Everyone -- including the winner of the race, Dave Thompson, and Nat's and my personal hero, Cathy Yndestad, said that this was by far the toughest race they'd ever competed in.

Amazing.

We rock!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chisago -- awesome swim; okay bike and then.....

Chisago 1/2 Iron was yesterday....there are some good things to report and some, well, not so good things:

First: everyone in my posse of friends who signed up for the event finished. That is good news! For Gary, Marc, Dave, and Joe it marked their first 1/2 iron distance event. I saw them all at one point or another along the course and, although they wouldn't agree, I thought they all looked strong and magnificent.

Marcia, Mary and Cheryl did the course as a relay team. They rocked the house. Again, I saw them all out there on the course and they all looked great.

Nat -- ah, Nat. She and I started the event in the same wave. Once the gun went off, so did she and I didn't see her again until I passed the finish line. By then, she had already had a snack, rested and PICKED UP HER TROPHY. Yes, that is right: she placed 3rd in our division. She PRed by over 35 minutes. GO NAT!

Other highlights: seeing Steve Stenzel, who was racing, along with his CVA Tri team...finally getting to meet his lovely bride, Pharmie...even if it was a "meet and great" as she was running back in on the 1/2 marathon course and I was walking out. (Yes -- walking. More about that later...)

So -- where does that leave moi? Well, here we go:

I actually had a very good swim. I came in at 43:26, which was almost 6 minutes faster than I did at Pigman last year. I felt totally comfortable in the water, just did my thing and enjoyed the swim. What a big difference from years past where the water freaked me out totally.

My T1 time was also better than Pigman -- about 2 1/2 minutes better. Zip in, zip out.

Bike -- okay, so the new bike is great and all, but for what ever reason, the position of the saddle did nothing but bug me for 40 miles.

When I bought the bike, I didn't have my bike shoes with me and, Bob -- the really wonderful guy at Now Sports, told me to bring the bike and shoes in before the race so I could get the saddle readjusted.

Did I listen? No. I thought "how much different could the positioning be"? Well, apparently it could be a LOT different.

The bike seat hit my seat in a very uncomfortable way -- especially where my left sitbone connected with it. I squirmed a lot trying to find some comfortable spot, but really couldn't get in to a comfortable position. I tried to overcompensate my position, which impacted my lower back and neck, and, well -- you get the picture.

The course is pretty flat, with a couple of exceptions The first exception is at mile 40, where there is a short, but steep incline. I started going up the hill and shifted down, but couldn't get my gear to drop from the big ring to the little ring. I lost my mo-jo, cadence and speed and had to get off the bike to walk it up the hill.

That is when the friendly bike support guy showed up. He pulled over and helped adjust my gears so they would slip easier. (Apparently they were a little too tight). I asked him if he could adjust my saddle and, voila! He did and the ride got a whole lot better.

I came in over 6 minutes faster than Pigman.

But, when I got in to T2, I was spent. I was fully convinced I was not going to do the run. At all. I was going to DNF and I was really okay with it.

Mary and Marcia were in T2 and when I told them I was done, they said "What? Huh?".

I had to give it a minute or two to work myself through the idea of at least getting out on to the run route. The only way I could do it was to say "I can turn back at any time".

So, I got on my shoes and walked out of T2. (Even with all of this, my T2 time was 45 seconds faster than Pigman).

So -- dear Reader, you must be saying: All of these great times! Much better than Pigman! She must have PRd!

Ah, not so much.

I walked out of T2 and pretty much walked the entire 1/2 marathon. I could not get it together to run much more than a minute or two at a time with very long stretches of time where I just walked.

I had a mental cut off point for dropping out. If I got to Mile 4, there was no turning back. (Logic: If you get to 4 out, you have to come 4 back, and that is 8, which is more than half the total distance...)

Let me tell you, I had plenty of conversations with myself at Mile 1; Mile 2 and Mile 3. But I kept my head down and my feet moving forward.

I got to 4 and figured I was in for the long haul. Fortunately, there were lots of people walking on the course. The big difference is that they were walking IN. I was still on my way OUT.

I just could not muster the will to run much at all. Walking felt okay, but running did not.

I had another dark spot between mile 6 and 7. The part of the course is a one mile loop around a residential area. I was the only person out on the course -- I thought: I'm done. I'm getting to mile 7 and I'm dropping.

I got to the water stop and asked the friendly volunteers "Am I last"?

"No".

"Really -- drat! Can't quit if I'm not last..."

Then I asked "What would happen if I wanted to drop? Would I have to walk back or would I get a ride"?

The head volunteer said she didn't know and proceeded to make a call to the Race Director.

The Race Director didn't pick up the phone, which I took as a sign and pressed on.

Marcia and Mary, who had parked themselves near the water stop at mile 5/10, were STILL there when I got back to 10....They had their own marathon, just sitting there waiting for me.

Marci volunteered to go to the finish line and to then walk back to meet me to walk me in -- a very kind, motivating gesture.

So, I trudged on until she found me and some how I got to the finish.

Here is the interesting part: All in all, my finish was less than 10 minutes slower than Pigman, so...not really as dreadful as I thought.

And, even though I was S L O W walking those 13.1 miles, there were actually people that covered the distance taking more time than I did. (They just happened to smoke me on the bike....)

I'm glad I toughed it out. I'm fine with finishing the way I did. I'm grateful for friends who stuck with me till the end and I can't wait to do it again NEXT YEAR -- although I'll probably need to do a few more bike-to-run bricks, you think?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One week to go: Chisago

Chisago 1/2 Iron is next week Sunday.

Am I ready?

No.

But...it will be what it will be.

What will be fun about the event:

A bunch of friends are doing the 1/2 event too: Nat, Gary, Marc T and Dave H. (It will be the first 1/2 event for the boys).

A team of friends partnered to do the 1/2 as a relay: Marcia will swim; Mary K will bike and Cheryl will run.

It is always nice to have a posse of people all doing the same event. You can cheer each other on or commiserate or fret or even congratulate.

It will be fun to have so many familiar faces in the transition area and out on the course with me.

What will not be so fun about the event:


As evident by my complaints in this blog, this has not been my year of dedicated training. Sure, I've biked; I've swam and I've run, but I really didn't put in the total time I should have for the races I'm doing.

So, I'm expecting a bit of a painful race.

It will be what it will be.

--
Last week, I was in Charlotte delivering a week's worth of training. I had hoped to get in a lot of uninterrupted workout time, but got laid up with a nasty head cold. So instead of killing myself with workouts, I babied my self with sleep.

I did do some training while I was out there and then wrapped up the week with a really great long run yesterday and a 3-hour bike ride today.

So -- it will be what it will be.

---

The ride today was a sponsored ride hosted by my tri club. Riders could go up to 100 miles -- Nat, Mary, Mark, Dave and I only went out for about 3 hours.

It was a good ride, but Marc ended up with 3 flats and Nat had one. Marc's tires are very old -- so he had the same tire pop three separate times. Nat has "sensitive" tires, and popped her tube while riding over some fine gravel.

At least they both figured it out today and could take care of the problem. Next week, flats during the race would be a big drag.

---

After the bike clinic, I met Kathy T (Marc's wife) and Sarah at Lake Harriet. We all went to a Women's Sailing Clinic. I shared a boat with Sarah. Cynthia, our skipper, was a really great instructor and, even though we had very little wind, we had a great time.

--
After the clinic, Hubby and I grilled steaks and veggies and were able to enjoy delicious food and a beautiful evening.


It was a very full weekend and a great way to move in to taper week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

LTF finished: the "short" RR

Today, Lifetime Tri went much, much better than Rochester Tri did two weeks ago.

It really, really, really helped that the wind today was only about a quarter of what we had in Rochester. I was able to sustain 17.1 mph on the bike, as opposed to the paltry 12.7 I did battling 20+ mile headwinds in Rochester.


My swim time was much better than last year (go me).


My run was slightly slower than last year but significantly better than Rochester.


All in all, I'm happy, considering the extra lbs I'm carrying (and didn't really "see" until Hubby took all the photos below. YIKES! ) and the mediocre training I've been doing.

Came in first for my age group/Athena category again. (This ain't no big thing, since usually there are only one to three people in my category). This year, I was in it alone. Still nice to see "1" after my name.


Of all Athena's, I was solidly in the middle of the pack. I feel okay about this, since I was the oldest of the bunch.


THANKS to Nat, who volunteered as a body marker (and got to the course at 4:15 am); Hubby for being there to cheer me on; Mary and Marcia for coming down to watch and who helped keep me going.


Next up: Chisago 1/2 iron. Oh boy.












Friday, July 10, 2009

Lifetime Fitness Tri: Tomorrow. YIKES.

By this time tomorrow (10;25 am, central), I should be wrapping up the bike portion of the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, Oly distance.

Should be is, of course, the plan/hope.

Reality could be different. V E R Y different.

I'm not racing as well this year as I was last year. (Stubborn pounds that won't go away and mediocre training add up to lousier finish times...).

BUT I am out there and having fun, which counts for A LOT.

I'll break in the new bike tomorrow too.

I've ridden it a number of times already and really like it. It will be fun to race in it and not have to worry about things like:
  • stop signs
  • idiot pedestrians that walk on to bike paths without looking
  • little kids that ALWAYS turn to look when you call out "On your Left", which causes them to steer LEFT

The weather is supposed to cooperate -- high in the low 80s. If this holds, it will be the first LTF tri I've done where it wasn't the hottest day of the summer.

The bottom line for now is I'm excited, nervous and dreading the event all at once.

I'll be getting over to the Expo in a few hours and then on my way home to get my bag ready, carbo load and to "sleep".

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Catching up...

A few minutes to catch up on "stuff":

Rochester Tri, June 28th: Second time participating in the Olympic distance event for me and my friend Nat. The day was hot and very, very windy.

The swim was good, but when I got out of the water, a course marshall asked me if I had rounded all the buoys.

"Huh?"

Then she pointed to one I may have missed. (I am unclear, as my head was under the water for about half the swim).

I told her I thought I had hit all the buoys, but if I hadn't, why didn't one of the happy kayakers come over to me. (I DID see a kayaker -- actually several of them -- as I was swimming along. Not one of them paddled over to me to tell me I had missed a buoy).

The "I think you missed a buoy" news threw me off my game a bit. And I got a little pissy about it.

Then I got on the bike. Did I mention it was windy? So windy in fact, I almost pulled off the bike course... About eight times.

I had problems with my chain falling off, HUGE winds (20+ mph plus gusts), gears grinding and just not feeling "safe" on the bike.

I spent a lot of time using very bad language while trying to not tip over going up hills or blow over going down hills.

I struggled through the bike and then went out on the run. I really was not having any of it that day. I just did the best I could, which was not very good.

Ended up posting my slowest tri time ever.

Nat kicked some butt out there, fighting the wind BUT I think we were both glad it was over when it was over. She finished third in our division, but the race director screwed up and gave her award to someone else..... grrrr.

Then I had another really rotten thing happen. I either lost (dropped some where in transition) or WORSE someone stole my digital camera.

Okay, I'll admit: I was an idiot for carrying it with me in the first place. (I usually have Hubby take photos and hold on to the camera, but he wasn't with us). The camera isn't a great camera but the memory card had hundreds and hundreds of photos on it.

Irreplacable photos. Europe; my birthday; Hubby's birthday; the holidays; friends; events.

And NO, I did not download all of the photos prior to the event. (So I'm an idiot again).

I want to believe that I dropped the camera, but: I placed a Lost and Found ad in the Rochester paper. No call. I emailed the race director. No response. I called the park where the tri was held, no camera. Hubby and I even drove back to Rochester to scour the transition area, the parking lot and the roadside going from transition to parking. Nothing...

I also think if someone found the camera, they could have looked at the very last picture, which was of me and Nat showing off our body-marked arms. The could have IDed me (by looking at other photos), then looked at the race results to find my name and then did a google search.

Seems like a lot of work you say? HA! I would have done it if I had found the camera. It's the right thing to do.

Again, the camera is one thing. Keep it, I say. Return the memory card. It is useless to any one but the memory holder....

I don't want to believe that a fellow triathlete would steal the camera...that is just lower than low, in my opinion.

But...lessons learned. 1) don't bring a camera in to transition. 2) download all your photos as soon as you can, not "tomorrow".

---

Last item on catching up. After my poor performance on the bike, I finally broke down and bought a road bike. I got a Jamis.

I'm hoping it will help me "catch up" on my bike times. I'll find out this Saturday, when I participate in Lifetime Fitness triathlon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Past and Present

Unless you live in a cave or do not have access to any electronic device at all, you know that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died yesterday.

Both had significant impacts on my life, whether I liked it or not:

1971: I'm in 7th grade -- Mr. Rotinni's class: In addition to having to do the dreaded President's Physical Fitness test (which I always hated, being on of the two fat kids in class...), our gym teacher taught a segment on Square Dancing.

She'd partner up boys and girls and we'd square dance the hour away -- well sort of. The boys, who decided all the girls must have cooties, would pull the sleeves of their shirts over their hands so they wouldn't have to touch us.

Then, during doe-se-do, while we were supposed to dance in a circle with our arms/hands linked to our partners, the boys would add a little "whip the tail" in to the dance by releasing us, pretty much hurling us in to the wall.

Mr. Rotinni heard of these adventures and was very disappointed in us. So disappointed that one morning he made us move our desks to the side of the classroom to open a big, wide space, right there in the middle of the classroom.

Then, he made us square dance -- holding hands and being polite and everything! (At least we didn't have do do math...)

Something very strange happened that morning.

The boys decided the girls weren't so bad after all. As a matter of fact, the very next day, someone in class (I forget who), invited us over to her house after school for a "party" . A SLOW DANCE party.

So we showed up and slow danced the afternoon away. After that, we probably had slow dance parties at some one's house at least once per week. It was 7th grade heaven.

One of the songs that I remember from those days was "I'll Be There", by the Jackson 5. I LOOOVEED that song and especially LOOOVEED that song when one of the boys I had a crush on would ask me to dance while it was playing.

I have fond, fond memories of those parties and thank Michael Jackson for singing that song.
----
1976 -- I'm a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison: I'm 17 (started college early). I'm wandering up State Street after class, feeling overwhelmed and lost in a sea of 40,000 other students.

I walked past a poster store and saw it hanging in all it's red swimming suit glory: The FARRAH poster. Megawatt smile, mountain of hair and that swimming suit. I pretty sure my reaction was to just stop and stare. I'm sure I thought to myself "shit. great."

Feeling already lost and insecure, overweight and struggling with an eating disorder, there was no way I could measure up to that image. And every freshman boy in Madison and across the country had that image hanging up in their dorm room. Great.

I hated her.

Well, obviously, time passed and I got over my issues with food AND Farrah, thank heavens.

I grew to appreciate her talent ("Burning Bed", "The Apostle") and fell in love with her after watching the documentary of her fighting her battle with cancer.

She seemed like a genuinely caring and kind person. I'm sorry she lost her fight.
----

Present: Rochester Triathlon is Sunday. Olympic distance. It will be my second year participating. I'm ready for the swim and the bike. I'm still struggling a bit with my run. BUT, I'll be participating with my friend Nat and we'll have some fun.

We'll also be on the look out for Beth to wish her happy trials out there at the event.

My plan for when I'm out there hobbling through the 6.2 mile run will be to take my mind off my tight quads by fondly remembering Slow Dance Parties and life at Madison.

And being grateful for being alive.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ms. 60 goes Aero...

Minnetoka Tri was today. First time doing this event and I had a blast.

I'm really have so much fun doing triathlons. I enjoy the activities, the events and the courses. It is also fun to watch other competitors. I'm sorry I didn't discover this sport sooner, but... it is what it is.

Sometimes I worry about the time that I'll have to give up participating. At some point, I'll either be too slow, or just tooooo old to be spending a lot of time in performance wear.

Having said that, there are plenty of people in their 50's that compete. Even 60's and older are out there on the course. So if they can, I can (God willing).

The weather was much, much better today than two weeks ago when I bagged on New Bri tri. Then, it was cold (41 degrees air temp) and rainy.

Today was very different...it was sunny and warm. Summer has finally, finally arrived!

Hubby is away on a business trip, so I went to the event solo, which was a little lonely. I set up in transition, went to the portapotty about a million times, got on my wetsuit and followed the masses to the start.

I stared at the lake for a little while, turned around and there was Nat. She had come to see me do the swim. I was very happy to see a friendly, familiar face. It was great that she showed up for me.

I was a little nervous about the swim. Not about the mechanics of the swim, but about the water temperature. My fears were for naught. The water was crisp, but with the help of my wetsuit for my core, I was just fine.

The swim is a little different than other tris. Instead of being an out and back, the course runs parallel to the shore line. I was in the last wave -- got in the water, started swimming and didn't stop once.

Not stopping is still a big deal for me. Not long ago (like last year...), I'd have to stop, re-adjust my goggles; let some of the stronger swimmers get by me and relax.

Then I had my "no stop" break through last year and it has been smooth sailing, or shall I say swimming, ever since.

I got through the 1/2 mile swim in just over 17 minutes. Not tooo fast, but certainly not tooo slow. I passed people from different waves, felt strong and just did my thing. I was very happy with my time.

Transition One (T1) was a little putzy. I was a little dizzy coming out of the lake (normal from rolling side to side in the water). I got tangled in my wetsuit but eventually got it together and got on the bike and out on the course.

The bike course was pretty, but hilly. Hillier than Chisago's 1/2 iron course. As I was getting out on to the course, this woman zipped right past me. Her age, according to her leg, was 60. She rocketed by me on her slick tri bike and immediately got in to aero position.

All I could think was "you GO, Ms. Thing" and "I got to get me another bike!".

We rode from the lake through Excelsior and out to Lake Ann Park (site of my "no stop" swim break through) and around that area.

I felt pretty fast and strong, although some of the hills were tough. Still, I passed plenty of people -- who then passed me when my chain slipped off. Twice.

After I finally got the chain back on, I caught up to and passed the posse, bringing myself in to T2 in under an hour.

Quick change of shoes and out to the run. My legs were stiff -- hills and just general stiffness, so I was slow going getting to the actual "running" part.

Eventually I got it together and started to run. I was slow, but got through it. Again, passing plenty of people, which is highly unusual for me.

At one point, I saw a familiar leg: it was Ms. 60, just ahead of me.

I decided to smoke her, which I did. (Evil grin).

I pulled in to the finish line at 1:53:48, which I believe is a PR for me for this distance.

Next up, Rochester Oly on June 27th.

So GLAD tri season is hear!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Previewing Chisago's 1/2 Iron Ride










Yesterday, Nat, Gary, Mary K and I drove up to the site of the Chisago 1/2 Iron race.

The bike shop that is sponsoring the event hosts three preview rides of both the Sprint and 1/2 Iron courses. This is a wonderful perk and we were glad to be able to see/ride/feel the course before the event on July 26th.

There were about 40 riders in total, but the majority of people were going out on the Sprint course. Our day was going to be a little "longer" -- like twice the mileage.

We drove up to the course venue (about 1 hour away from Minneapolis) at 6:30 am. It was nice to see the park and the lake. Before the ride, we went down to the beach to check out the water temp.

Brr.

Also checked out the water level.

Low.

Also checked out the water clarity.

Weedy.








Should make for a fun swim in six weeks!



We started biking at about 8:15 am. The speedy bikers (with "real tri bikes") dusted us at about mile 3 and then we just did our own thing.

Mary and I had to cut the ride a bit short (pulling off about mile 45). We had to get back to the city for a couple appointments. We picked up Nat at mile 53 (SOOO close to the end) and drove back. Gary finished the whole course -- mucho kudos to him.

So what we learned includes:

The course is really pretty flat: Much flatter than Pigman's 1/2 iron course. There are some rolling hills, but nothing like you find in Iowa. Truth be told there is one really steep hill on the way back, but it is steep and short, so gearing down got us through it. Nat reports that there is a second steep hill on somewhere after mile 45 but before mile 53...Note taken.

Oh yeah: Nutrition: Despite each of us being experienced marathoners and/or triathletes, none of us remembered to bring any thing to eat while we were on the course. Fortunately, our new best friend, Joe (who works at the bike shop and provided sag support), carried a bunch of mini Clif bars with him and handed them out like candy.

Pedaling in to the wind is H A R D: Oh yeah (part two). I felt like I was flying like the wind for the first half of the course. Then we turned around. WIND. That sure took the smug out of my mug pretty fast.

We are going to make it: If nothing else, previewing the ride helped our confidence for the race in July. We may be slow, we may not be pretty out there, but we will finish the race.

Today's training plan called for yet another hour on the bike followed by a 30-minute run. Gary, Nat and I slogged it out this morning -- and now, I'm pooped!