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.

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.


We rock!