Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!
Hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday and a prosperous, healthy new year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Too much

So I'm thinking I might have gone from nothing to too much too soon. Although it's felt really good to get moving and get off my butt, I'm wiped out. Trying to start marathon training, while also getting back into the swim and bike of things has left me very tired. Oh, and of course there's also morning weight training with Elena. So I went from next to nothing to no rest day at all this week. Hm, not so smart. :-)

I repeated the first week of my Runners World marathon training plan since it's a 16 week plan that doesn't officially start until tomorrow. And I have to say the 6 miler (bumped up to 6.5 for good measure) was actually harder than last week. What's up with that. Couldn't have been the wind, rain, and chilly weather could it? T kept me on track though and didn't let me bail early, much as I might have liked to. It seems that along with my decline in cardio fitness, I've lost quite a bit of mental toughness as well. At least I've got 4 months to get ready for my last marathon. (Famous last words, eh?)

Monday, December 08, 2008

My next career....

Vanilla bean cupcakes with lemon filling, vanilla bean frosting, topped with white/yellow sanding sugar and a raspberry. Mmmmm, tasty.

Too bad I forgot Jeff has more than a dozen coworkers now and I didn't make quite enough. Guess only my bestest coworkers will get one. :-)


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Off my butt

I actually managed to get in some workouts this week. Of course it doesn't hurt that most of the 'higher ups' at work have been and are at a meeting. So a small reprieve in the work schedule allows some calories to be burned on my end.

I squeezed in a 3.5 mile run on Thursday at lunch. Followed by a 6-miler on Saturday and a short bike ride on Sunday, altho, hey, it included some pseudo-hills. So those are bonus calories. Feels really good to get moving again. With the marathon 4 months away it's definitely time to get on a regular running schedule.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Weekend Recap

After working until almost midnight on Wednesday night I just couldn't drag myself out of bed for the 10k Turkey Trot that I was *completely* untrained or prepared for. Darn. So continues my wallowing in work and lack of any sort of exercise what-so-ever.

Jeff, Bam, and I had a quiet Thanksgiving. We went for a 3-ish mile hike (no that's not really exercise). After which we treated ourselves to Starbucks. Bam shared my gingy bread man. Then I popped the turkey in the oven, watched the end of Miracle on 34th Street, and did some house cleaning. We enjoyed a nice dinner in which my poor dog watched me pull all the meat off the turkey and then, of all things, throw the carcass in the trash. I'm sure she was plotting a way to get to it. I briefly considered tossing it in the yard and letting her out, but only briefly.

Friday we packed up the truck and took off on a road trip to Buttonwillow. Dog and all. We got to the hotel and the creepiest guy was working the desk. Don't ask me how, but somehow the topic turned to how this guy has a farm or something and killed his own turkey for thanksgiving. And then I got the story about how he has pigs and slaughters them as well, but not in the summer. Because of the flies you know. And how his daughter wants to be a vet and tells people that she loves animals and her dad kills them. Hello?!?! Did I just step into some kind of horror movie or what?!?! I won't bore you with the complete conversation, but oh yes, there was MORE. WHAT.THE.HELL.

Luckily the topic FINALLY came around to how big my dog was (supposedly for check-in purposes, but I think he was trying to decide if he could take out me and the dog, or if the dog would be a problem). I said, "Oh, pretty good size. About 70 pounds. All muscle. Her nickname is Killer." Okay, maybe I didn't say that exactly, but he did write down "Big Dog" on the sign-in paper. I escaped with my room key and as soon as we had everything in the room, I put all the locks on and told Jeff about creepy guy. Good thing we had our BIG guard dog. Who promptly staked her claim to one of the two beds, even tho I had carried her dog bed in, and went to sleep. Some guard dog.

We came home Sunday without too much traffic and got ready to start the week. I can't believe I have to actually work 5 days in a row. What's that about? Ah well, about 3 more weeks and it'll be Christmas break. So looking forward to it.

Hope y'all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and are out there stimulating the economy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

WHAT have I done?!?!

I've jumped in with both feet and signed up to run the Illinois Marathon with my brother in April. Number 3 marathon....I must be insane. As soon as I get back from vacation I'll check out a training plan and see if I can talk Curtis (cycle/tri coach/PT/bike fitter extraordinaire) into coaching me through next year. Let's hope he says yes so I'll have some help in keeping my insanity in check. :-)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Pleased....and yet disgusted

So I opted to skip working (or working out) tonight and accepted the invitation to the Election Party. I only knew one person there (the host) and I usually get quiet around people I don't know, but as it turns out I had a really good time. Maybe it was the 3 dogs that put me at ease. :-) I arrived around 7:30 and the most surprising thing was how quickly it all unfolded. I expected it to be a closer contest. We poured the champagne and enjoyed a few toasts...maybe a few too many.

I am completely *disgusted* however that the stupid people of this state I live in have voted to amend our constitution to TAKE AWAY the rights of certain individuals. Yet more justification as to why I like most dogs more than most people.

Please Vote

Whoever and whatever your choices, make sure to vote today! If you don't vote then you can't complain when whoever wins inevitably screws things up.

I was invited to a "vote watch" party tonight. Not sure if I'll go. With so much crap going on at work, I'm pretty crummy company these days. On the other hand it would be nice to have some folks to celebrate or cry with, depending on how things go, as Jeff is out of town.

I'll definitely be glad to see the end of the stupid campaign commercials. The "yes" on Prop 8 ads really kill me. For those outside CA, Prop 8 aims to ban same sex marriage. Especially in this day and age, but really at any time, can't we just let people be people. Why do we want to restrict the rights of some people? How is that any different than discrimination based on race, gender, age? Okay, so I guess you know how I voted on that one.

Anywhoo, make sure your voice is heard today. VOTE!

Friday, October 31, 2008

What a day

So I'm now on my third boss in less than 6 months. If this keeps up I'm going to get a complex. Oh, okay, so #1 boss was let go, he didn't leave me voluntarily. Still, 3 in 6 months. *Sigh* I don't think I'm necessarily good at this whole change thing. I prefer stable. So it was a stressful end to the week.

Well, at least we called it quits early in the day to have our Halloween party at work. I ate way too much pizza and candy and cookies....and candy. It's no wonder my jeans are getting tighter and tighter. I'm eating like I'm still in training instead of a hiatus. Speaking of training, I'm going to say again that it's time to get back on a schedule. If I say it enough will it make it true?

Happy Halloween everyone. Hope you get more treats than tricks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Missing in (non) action

Well, I haven't been doing much training. Nor has anything exciting been going on. And as I've always heard said "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything." As such I can't really talk about my job. So...that leaves me with a rather short list of topics. For today I shall leave you with this little tidbit....it kind of fits me to a T (that's different than fits me *and* T :-). Cheers all and have a good weekend.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick and dirty race report

Work has been an absolute pain in the arse (again?!? you may ask....yes, sadly it's just getting worse.) so I don't have time for my usual play by play race report. I'll have to give you the highlights.

T and I did the Santa Cruz Mermaid Sprint Tri last Sunday. We had previewed the course and to put it politely, we weren't fond of it. So my only thoughts about the race were that I'd be glad when it was over. Highlights of the day:
  1. I'm psychic. I told T on the way to the race that I felt like I was going to have a flat on the bike. Yep, I did. (see highlight #5 below)
  2. The ocean swim was no problem really. Except for the nasty salt water getting in my mouth I was fine. I wasn't even having my usual, sprint-distance, panic breathing. I think it may be because I was moving at a snail's pace. Also I didn't think of sharks at all once I got in the water.
  3. T1 included a short run through the sand and a climb up about 100 stairs. No, I'm not kidding.
  4. My feet were numb from the cold water. It probably didn't help that I don't really kick much when I swim in tris. They finally warmed up about the time we finished the run. So I didn't have to have amputate any due to frostbite.
  5. I actually got a flat. Thankfully at the *top* of a hill. T stopped to help me change it. And a SAG (support and gear) guy stopped to help T help me change it. And he was so enthusiastic and excited to help that I told T to just let him do it. If I had known that Chatty Cathy SAG guy was going to give me a 15-20 minute recess from my race I would have smacked him away and T and I would have shoved that tire on there in no time.
  6. I *almost* got creamed by cars, or by other bikes because of cars, no less than 4 times on the bike route. Traffic control, although they had a lot of cops out there, was horrific. There were not clear instructions to the cars about 'stay' or 'go' and it provided some heart pounding moments for sure.
  7. The road was about as nice as a wash board. Crap road. Just crap.
So, as you might imagine, I won't be participating in this race again. Once was more than enough. Although finish time-wise it was a sad ending to a pretty good year, I'm glad to be through the season. With work sucking up my life, I don't have time or energy to work out anyway. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Medical Mystery

Bam really needs to go on the Medical Mysteries show.

She's been having limping/neck pain issues for a while now. Yelping when she tweaks her neck. Keeping it really stiff when she gets up. Both her regular vet, and the orthopedic vet she was referred to, were sure there was a protruding disc in her neck causing nerve pain. Or worse, tumors on her spine causing the same symptoms. So today she got a contrast CT scan, some x-rays, and a spinal fluid sample drawn. And yes, it's just as expensive for dogs as it is for people. And once again they showed....nothing significant. Sigh. I wouldn't feel so bad about spending the money if we had some answers. But she continues to stump the pros. It may be wrong, but I'm hoping the fluid sample shows something because then we'll at least have something to fix. Right now all we have to show for the piles of money is this:

And yes, the other dogs *will* point and laugh.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Just out of curiosity.....can I count a run as a 'good' run if I have to play let's make a deal with myself for pretty much the last half? If so, then I had a good run at lunch today. If not, I'm still zero for....however many workouts I've done since the 1/2 IM.

I was able to squeeze in 5 miles at 'lunch' and it felt pretty good for the first 3 to 3 1/2. That's when the deal making started. It was "Just keep running until X or Y", like "Just keep running until this song ends OR you get to that building." And then it was another 'x or y' situation. I managed to deal my way into running the entire 5 miles and kept my pace around 9:30. Not great, but better than it's been going lately.

It's too soon to tell, but maaaaybe I'm rising out of the slump a wee bit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Whatcha doin?

Not too much going on really. Work, work, work. Bah.

Last Friday T and I headed out for the Palo Alto Moonlight Run 10k. As you might deduce from the name, it was at night. We arrived just in time to grab our bibs, slap them on and head out to the 10k start. It was a little cool to start and massively crowded. I thought it was going to be a little local run, but evidently it's a pretty big deal. The crowd was actually a bit of a pain to try to negotiate around. Even worse when the run squeezed onto a bayland trail. We finished in just over an hour. And there was hardly any food left. And no goodies at all. I guess you have to hit the goodie booths *before* the run. Sigh. Cute long sleeved shirt tho. :-)

Sunday was a 20 mile ride up and down Calaveras and then a tiny run. It wasn't meant to be a tiny run, but we (okay, okay, I admit it it was ME) had the brilliant idea of running one of the trails. Even tho neither of us are really familiar with the trails out there. We figured, well, how bad could it be. Should be a loop, right? Uh, yeah, a freakin' straight UP loop. We did a tiny loop, less than a mile, and I wanted to spit up a lung. Or two. So that wasn't such a great idea. We forced ourselves do another mile along a stretch of the road and called it a day.

And this week I've just been dealing with work, trying to squeeze in a workout here and there. And dealing with getting Bam into an ortho specialist (she goes next week). Oh, and more work, and a little more work. If only I got paid overtime....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

If only I had listened to the stars....

"It might sound like fun, but you can't spend your life going from one adventure to another ~ you just won't have the energy for it....Quit while you're ahead and remind yourself how nice it can be to stay home and watch TV."

That's part of my Yahoo horoscope for today.  Man, those stars know what's what.  

I woke up yesterday with some kind of head cold/body ache thing.  But I made myself get out of bed and go to the cardio sculpt class at the gym anyway.  I really like that class.  She usually makes us do intervals of weights and cardio which makes the time go by pretty fast.  I was tired most of the day and had a huge nap and didn't get a whole lot done. 

So this morning I slept in a bit and then Jeff cajoled me into going for the "long" run I had planned.  I said I was planning to go 10 miles and Jeff asked "when was the last time you've run that far?"  Hm, good point. I guess it was Barb's Race, but that wasn't running.  So, listening to my own advice that I gave my brother, I didn't want to increase mileage too fast.  Since I've run a couple of 10k distances lately, I decided to do 7 miles and call it a day.  I looked out the door and the sun was shining brightly.  Well, no time like the present.  Yeah, it turned out to be quite warm and my run was what I will call "Junk Miles."  I couldn't keep the pace I wanted.  Couldn't keep any pace really.  I was sweating buckets and just felt weak.  To be honest I haven't had a decent run since before Barb's 1/2 IM.  I don't know what's up.  

I think I need some down time.  Some base building time, instead of 'training' for an event time. So I think that the Mermaid Sprint Tri on Sept. 28th will be my last event for the year.  Even though I had thoughts of running another 1/2 marathon this year.  A substitute for Nike, if you will.  But now I'm not sure I will. I may just take some time, figure out what kind of base training I want to do over the winter and get started.  My only hesitation is that I'm not so good at keeping up the training without the motivation of an upcoming event.  Well, I'll have to think about this some more.  Right now I'm too tired. ;-)

Should have listened to those wise old stars.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Weekend Labors

Here is just a quick summary of my Labor Day activities:
  1. Some actual work, not as much as I should have finished. But, hey, this is supposed to be a *holiday* weekend. And Labor Day to boot. So fire me. No, really. Please fire me. :-)
  2. Trimmed up the locks. Thought about chopping it off, but had a last minute change of heart. Maybe in October.
  3. A bit of house cleaning, but not as much as I should have. Hey, see #1. :-)
  4. Sunday morning T and I went to 'our local Road Runner' store to run the Nike+ Human Race. We showed up right on time at 9:00 to see folks finishing up. Um, yeah, seems the stores were setting their own hours for the run, and it started at 8:00. But the nice man from the store gave us the lowdown on the route, handed us our freebies (a Nike bag and a tech tee), and we were off. I told T that since we got the goods we could just skip the running part, but slave driver that she is it was no dice. Whew, was it toasty. Now we know why they started at 8:00 instead of 9:00. 10k in about 1:03.
  5. Monday there was training with Elena. Yeah, we're hitting the weights again. One word...OUCH. Then T wanted to ride Palomares and I unwittingly plotted out a route back through the Hayward Hills. Well, we had been wanting to do some hill training. But I really didn't need to try to kill us the first time out. Wiped out.
The rest of the weekend was spent running errands, kicking back, walking the mutt (who may need an MRI, which is a long story), and a general mish-mash of activities. Hope you and yours had a fabulous long weekend, and may the next one last a little longer. Please. :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Perfect summation

This quote perfectly sums up the endless requests I'm getting at work right now...
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein, (attributed)
US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)
And that's all I have to say right now. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, August 25, 2008

To run (far) or not to run (far)

My brother is semi-committed to doing the inaugural Illinois marathon. And has *subtly* hinted that I might want to do it too. However, I swore that I would *never* do another full marathon. I know, I know, I also said that after my first one and still did another one. But a THIRD?!!?! How glutton for punishment am I?

On the other hand, I don't feel that I realized my potential in either of my first two marathons. So I am contemplating a redemption run.

Another plus is that I had so much fun running the Flying Pig half. Another negative is that a marathon is twice as far. That's right folks, a FULL marathon is TWICE as far as a half. And damn, that's FAR.

Obviously further contemplation is required. Luckily there's plenty of time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Testing the waters

My tri buddy and I signed up for the Santa Cruz Mermaid sprint tri. We've been wanting to try an ocean swim and figured this one would be a nice short introduction, being just a 400 yard swim. Just so we weren't *completely* unprepared, we headed down to the swim route today to check out our swim skills in the ocean.

Let me just get this out of the way up front....I was a *bit* freaked out about the idea of swimming out there. I know, I know, I'm a diver. I should be used to 'swimming' in the ocean. Um, yeah, not the same thing AT ALL. I've only been diving in clear, warm areas. Think tropical. Hawaii, Aruba, Australia, Palau. Toasty spots.

So with much trepidation I met T at Seascape State Beach and we suited up to hit the water. The thing that stood out the most as we walked down the stairs (yes, stairs. and yes, we'd be expected to 'run' up these same stairs during the tri.) was that although there were quite a few people on the beach there was not a soul in the water. Hmm. I'm liking this less and less. The icing on the cake tho was as we approached the place where we were going to start, a bunch of folks were staring off into the water and pointing and chatting. We look but don't see anything. Until a bunch of fins surface. FAB.U.LOUS. A school of sharks I say, only half joking. Of course they were dolphins, but it only reinforced the fact that many things larger than I were circling out there. Oh, but wait, we've all heard those stories where the dolphins protected the people from sharks, right? Uh, right? Just patronize me here, okay. :-)

Okay, let's get it over with. I know I'm going to be eaten. Or at least come back with missing parts.

As we dip our toes in we confirm that it *is* in fact cold. But the further we get in, the more I realize it's not as cold as I expected. Soon enough we're swimming out towards the buoy where we would turn around.

The remains of a cement boat, the Palo Alto, are permanently anchored off the end of the pier and as we passed by it and stopped to discuss the *unique* experience we were having, we saw some BIG round eyes looking back at us. Sea lions. Awww, how cute. "Here little fella" I said as T yelled "NO!" Turns out a surfer friend of hers got bit by one. Oh great, now I'm freaked out even more.

Visibility was nil, water was nasty and super salty. On the positive side, buoyancy was amazing. I could 'tread' water without even having to kick my feet much. Fighting the waves was tiring though and I kept thinking I saw shadows below me. Now I could barely see my hand in front of me let alone anything lurking below. But that in itself was a bit disconcerting.

It was a quick swim, just around the short course and then we hopped out. Finishing up I realized that the temperature wasn't as bad as I expected, the freak out factor was about as bad as I expected, and the saltiness was just plain nasty and worse than I expected. But I still had all my limbs. Generally, I think I prefer to stick to rivers, lakes and reservoirs. :-)

We did a bike tour of the course and after T took off I did a quick tour of the run course. All in all, I'm not that thrilled with the course. The roads are in really crappy shape, there's a steep downhill with a sharp right turn at the bottom of it, there's really no scenery as the course runs through a bunch of neighborhoods instead of somewhere along the coast. All in all, it's a course I probably won't need to repeat. After the actual tri that is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another year older

And feeling more than that.

I have been unbelievably tired ever since Barb's, which was more than 2 weeks ago. Maybe these old bones just won't recover as fast as they did before. Maybe it's the late night Olympics. Maybe it's the slothfulness that I've been indulging in ever since Barb's. Maybe I'm having sleep issues again and don't even know it. Maybe it's because my diet has been less than exemplary lately.

Who knows. Anyway, I've decided to skip B'Days from now on. Well, except for the presents. And the pie or cake or both. Okay, I'm just skipping the part where I get older. :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

R & R & R

Rest.....Relax.....Rot (in front of the tube)

So, I've been mostly slacking off since Barb's race a little over a week ago.  I think I maybe earned a bit of a rest.  I did a nice easy trail run last week, and a moderate 1 hour ride this weekend.  Otherwise I've been pretty much vegetating. Especially now that the Olympics are on.  Can I just say that Michael Phelps *rocks*? A freaking 6'7" wing span...insane!  And how about Jason Lezak edging out Frenchie in the relay?!?!?  That was some AWESOME excitement!  I'm still exhausted, but I think now its due to late night Olympics viewing instead of HIM exhaustion.   

Tonight I made myself squeeze in a run before hurrying back to my tube.  I popped out a 10k before collapsing for the evening waiting for my Phelps Phix.

I've signed up for a couple of small events to hold me over until the next big thing.  I've got a sprint tri this Saturday, a sprint tri at the end of September, and a 10k in mid-September.   That'll keep me busy for a bit.  In the meantime I'm looking for more. :-)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Post HIM* Depression

A sense of 'what now' has come over me. My 'A' race for the year has been checked off my list. So what do I do with all these extra hours in my day (riiiightt....as if work won't *gladly* fill that in). I need the next one to keep me on track. Some sprint tris on the horizon perhaps? Another half marathon with better hydration/electrolyte management for a PR perhaps? We shall see. The search for the next even must start now.

Yes, I know....I've gone off the deep end.

*Half Iron (wo)Man

Barb's Race Recap...or...How I Became Half Iron


The stress begins: Jeff was working until noon, so we got a bit of a late start heading up to Guerneville for packet pickup. T had left a bit earlier and warned that traffic was awful, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as bad as it was. What should have been a 1-1/2 hour ride turned into a nasty 3 hour parking lot. With the pre-race meeting scheduled for 5:00, I got more and more stressed as we sat and sat. The GPS kept changing our arrival time…4:35…..4:40….4:56. Luckily T had saved us seats and we arrived with just a few minutes to spare. We got the low-down on what to do, where to find stuff, and how things *should* go. I headed out to the T2 area where T had saved me a spot next to her and set up my run stuff. The bike course isn’t a loop, but a point to point, so we would have two different transition areas. Shoes, fuel belt, hat and sunscreen went onto the ground in preparation for my run tomorrow. Then we were off to check into our cottage, find some dinner, and prep for race day.


After not sleeping well at all, I was up and packed and we were on the road. I arrived at Johnson’s beach a bit after 7:00. I rolled Ruby down the ramp and queued up to get body marked. A young girl was waving her marker around looking for someone to write on, so I headed over. She quickly jotted my bib # on my right thigh, my arms and my hands. Then she wanted my calf to mark my age. When I told her 38 (you race under the age you *will* be on 12/31/2008) she did a double take and said “really?!?!” Ah, bless you young lady….bless you. All marked up I headed to T1 to find Tina waiting with a saved spot yet again.


Time seemed to fly by and before I knew it we had to get suited up and head to the water. We quickly realized there was only 5 minutes between waves, not the 10 we thought. So our warm up turned into a swim to the deep water start line. As I was heading that way, I heard the announcer say “1 minute to start…make sure you cross the start timing mat!” ARRRRRGHGHG! I yelled to T that we had to go back and we splashed and ran our way back up to the timing mat, where we crossed back and forth several times to make sure it took. By then they were yelling out “10…9…8.....” and we were still about 25-30 yards from the start line. So we added a bit more distance and time to the 1.2 miles we were scheduled to swim. I think the prep work we had done, driving up to practice the swim a couple of times really helped. I didn’t panic at all and quickly found a groove. It was even *almost* fun starting so far back because I got to pass quite a few people. There seemed to be open space most of the time and I only jostled folks/got jostled a few times. All in all I’d say the swim went better than expected. I even beat my Catfish time by about 4 minutes! I was out of the water in 39:52.

As I was running up the ramp, I heard someone yell, “Wetsuit help ahead.” Oh, sweet. I had read that they were trying to get wetsuit strippers for the race. No, these aren’t some exotic-dancer type entertainers. They’re volunteers who help strip off your wetsuit as you exit the water. I wish we had pictures of this because it was hilarious. What happens is that you peel your wetsuit down to your waist and then you’re prompted to drop onto your back and stick your legs in the air. From there a couple of folks rip your wetsuit off your bottom half, pull you up onto your legs, chuck your wetsuit into your arms and send you on your merry way. It was amazingly fun ( I know, I know, how tri-geek can you get?)!


Totally uneventful, except for the little rock that got into my bike shoe that I carried with me for the next 56 miles. Bike shoes on, helmet on, glasses on, out I go. I had thought I might need arm warmers since the forecast was for a foggy, cool morning, but the sun was out bright and warm before we even began the swim (a bit of ominous, foreshadowing music here, if you please).


I’ve mentioned some of the bike changes that Curtis made over the last couple of weeks, but there were additional adjustments just a few days prior to race day due to setting up the aero bars. Usually he recommends a 2-3 week adjustment period for ‘settling’ into the new positions. Unfortunately T and I got about 40 minutes of riding to settle in before our race. So I was a *wee* bit nervous about a 56 mile ride with all the new toys but tried not to stress over it too much. Ha! There is a short steep hill right out of T1 and some people opted to run up it with their bikes and mount but I hopped on Ruby and pushed right up that hill. I think the adrenaline was pumping pretty strongly at that point. The first 20 or so miles of the bike went by pretty quickly. Soon enough I was through the half way point and still moving along pretty nicely. I didn’t stop at any of the aid stations, as I figured I had enough fluids with me to get through to the run. Curtis had cautioned us not to spend too much time in our aero bars until we were able to get a little more practice with them, but I just couldn’t resist. After about 40 miles though even being able to switch between 3 positions (aero, drops, hoods) on the bike wasn’t enough. I wanted off and the sooner the better. I started telling myself that if I just got up Chalk Hill at mile 44, it was pretty much all downhill or flat from there in. Soon enough I hit the hill. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember where it ended and was getting pretty nauseous from the effort. I made a rookie mistake of listening to someone who said “The end is right around the corner” when in fact it *wasn’t*. Finally I hit the top and some guys were there yelling “Nice climbing! You’re there!” I yelled back, “Great, so I can throw up now?!?” Well, I didn’t throw up, but I did need to chug a bunch of water. Unfortunately I was hitting the warmest part of the day and the course and I ran out of liquids about 6 miles before T2. I saw a lady riding in front of me and for a brief moment I contemplated riding up and snatching the Gatorade bottle off the back of her bike. Instead I just put my head down and pushed the last few miles into transition. And yep, I did *just* manage to get my shoe trick completed before the dismount line. Total bike time: 3 hrs 25 min.


Completely and utterly without incident. I got rid of the rock in the shoe, sprayed a big cloud of sunscreen around myself and was able to get some water from the aid station. But it was a bad sign that I was still *very* thirsty.


Thought number one: “Holy smokes, it’s hot.” (I later heard that it was somewhere in the mid to upper 90's.) It didn’t take me long to realize that my hydration was all out of whack. I was drinking so much water that my stomach was sloshing, but I couldn’t quench my thirst. I was popping electrolyte tablets like mad too. It was a very weird kind of feeling. I wasn’t bonking like I did at the Jungle Run a couple of weeks ago, but I just couldn’t get my legs to obey me. I’d tell myself, “Okay, you can walk the uphill parts, but you have to run the downhill and the flats.” I’d do okay for a bit then all of a sudden my legs would just start walking. I think it was partly because my stomach was so full. I’ve never run with such a full stomach. I decided pretty early on that I wasn’t going to have a great run, and that instead of killing myself I’d just get through it as best I could. A few thoughts kept going through my mind:

1) Rutger Beke from the Ironman Championship. His legs ‘just wouldn’t fire’ on the run and he basically said that he thought it would be disrespectful to the age groupers to drop out just because he was having a bad day, so he was walking the marathon. Of course even walking he would kick most people’s asses, but if Rutger can walk, then I can walk and finish this thing up.

2) Lollie Rodgers: Another Ironman Championship participant, but an age grouper. She basically just talked herself through the marathon. Just telling herself to keep going, keep moving forward, each step is a step closer.

3) Dean Karnazes’ quote “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

So even though it was my longest half marathon ever, by far, I did it. A mind bogglingly slow, brutally hot, fluid filled 2 hours, 57 minutes, and 39 seconds later I had done it. I was a half iron woman. Total time spent in accomplishing this goal: months of training of course, but 7 hours 8 minutes and 8 seconds this day. While I would have loved to have finished under 7 hours, the heat made it unrealistic for me. Given a better weather day I think I definitely could have shaved more than 8 minutes off my time and made my goal.

The best thing about the whole experience though was that I didn’t let myself get too down. Yes, I was miserable. Yes, I just wanted to finish, especially when I came through on my first run loop and the kid said, “Finishers to the right, second and third loops to the left.” Yes, it was hotter than our wood burning stove. But I still wasn’t swearing, or giving up. I was still telling people “good job, keep it up, we’ll get there.” I was still thanking the volunteers for coming out, thanking the ‘regular’ folks out there with garden hoses in front of their houses that were cooling us down.

And the next best thing? It’s a tie between the nice cold showers they had waiting at the finish line and beating the first IronMan finisher in, then hearing him say he just felt “full” from all the fluids he had to take in. Glad it wasn’t just me.

And as it turns out, there was more than one adventure this weekend. You see, it was Lazy Bear Weekend in Guerneville. And two guys hanging out, having breakfast together might well not be safe on their own.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Top or bottom? Right or left?

This is the Pre-Race photo from yesterday's race, but what you are looking at is two women who are about to become 1/2 Iron Women.  And roughly 7-1/2 hours after this picture was taken, that's exactly what T and I did.  We haven't decided which half is iron yet, but have firmly established that it's not our rear ends as they are a *bit* tender.  Details to come, but you may bow to us now if you wish.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One hot ride

If you follow the adventures of T then you'll know she had a professional bike fit last week. And if you're a regular follower of the adventures of T and Kris then you'll know that typically what one of us does, both of us do.

So, I visited with Curtis too and got some adjustments to Ruby. A smidge narrower bars, a longer stem, a higher seat that moved backwards and aero bars. Yep, I'm gettin' aero. Oh, and he also recommended I take the suitcase off the back of my bike. Okay, it's just a tail bag, but a seriously big tail bag. He saw it and asked me, "Do you race with that?" I sheepishly said yes. He informed me that I could probably gain 1/2 mile an hour up a hill if I ditched it. Also he said that in biking weight=$$ (because lighter things cost more) and I had the equivalent of somewhere around $1000 lugging that weight around. So no more racing with the tail bag!

He also assessed my mechanics and worked up a list of exercises and stretches for me. I have very tight hamstrings and some VERY tight spots through my back, but I'm mostly pretty flexible which is good.

See below for the almost finished product. She's beautious no? :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I forgot to give a shout out to my Aunt Pat.  

She finished her first sprint triathlon last Saturday and in what I hear were less than stellar conditions no less.  Actually I heard that, to quote Forrest Gump, there was "Little bitty stinging rain....and big 'ol fat rain.  Rain that flew in sideways.  And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath."  An Illinois summer storm *might* sour me on triathlon too.  I remember how thrilled (*not*) I was after running the Soak City half marathon in the pouring rain.

So I salute you!  Way to tough it out and do the damn thing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Swimmin' with the fishes

Last Sunday T and I headed out to the Stevens Creek Reservoir for the Catfish Open Water Swim. You could choose either 1.2 miles or 2.4 miles. Or if you're *really* adventurous (aka "nuts"), you could do both distances. We opted for the shorter one. We figured this would be another good opportunity to get used to being kicked, pushed, slapped, and swum over in general whilst being in water with the clarity of mud. If you can ever get used to that.

We arrived plenty early and boarded our shuttle bus for the ride to the reservoir. Very entertaining. The driver threw that bus around like it was a compact car and stopped and yelled instructions to the completely bewildered and clueless teenage volunteers. Probably less than a 5 minute ride and we were there.

Now we had about 40 minutes to sit around, basically on the ground (ahhhh, so that's why so many people were carrying those collapsible chairs) in the overcast morning cool. Soon we decided to slide (or stuff, push, tug, repeat) into our wetsuits just for the added warmth. We couldn't hear a word the announcer was saying, so when it got close to our start time we headed down to the start to warm up a bit. And warm up we did. The water temp was warmer than the air and felt so good. We got the briefing about where to swim, which seemed to mostly consist of 'follow the massive group in front of you' for most of us. Eventually we were given the start countdown and most of the group took off. We waited a few seconds for it to thin out a bit and then started our swim.

At about 50 yards into the swim, I take a breath to the left and see a guy making a bee-line for the shoreline. Poor guy must've had a panic attack or something.

Basically I just kept swimming, swimming, sighting, swimming, swimming, sighting. I had open water around me for most of the time, with a little jockeying for position and swimming around slower folks. But mostly I just kept going and going. I did realize that just like running, it takes me a while to settle into my stroke and settle my breath to the point that I'm not gasping. Unfortunately in sprint distances I don't think I have enough time to settle in, which makes it seem like I'm panicky and running out of breath for the whole swim. I guess I need to work on that.

Eventually I spotted the last buoy and swam until I couldn't swim anymore, then stood up and trotted up to the timing mat. Official time was something like 43-1/2 minutes. Not great, but not horrible either.

We later found out that the first finisher for the 1.2 distance came in somewhere around 22 minutes. And the first finisher for the 2.4 came in around 44 minutes. Wow, they're swimming *twice* as fast as me. Of course they were both Olympic team swimmers doing some training, but still. I later found out that the female Olympic swimmer was a distance swimmer, which is new for the Olympics this year. She expected to swim the 6.2 mile Olympic event in about 2 hours. Gulp.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jungle Run Report

Or...how stupid was that?  Or...way to execute a poor plan.  Or...how NOT to run a HOT 1/2 marathon.

I headed out this morning knowing it would be warm in Los Gatos, but I was definitely not prepared for how warm it would end up being.  I also just realized that I don't think I've ever done a summer half marathon.  Okay, yes, I've done the SF 1/2 which is *in* the summer, but to paraphrase Mark Twain "the coldest winter is a summer in SF."

It was about 70 degrees at 7:00 when we finally got started.  I had set my Garmin for my 'best' case scenario, which didn't include any adjustments for the  heat.  Poor plan, step 1.

For those of you who've seen the "Degree Clinical Protection" commercials, yeah, they're aimed at me.  On a good day I sweat like a pig so today I was bathing in sweat.  Nice.  I took some Cytomax on the run, but no E-caps (electrolyte tablets).  Poor plan, step 2.

Being so toasty, I decided to take water at every water stop, but to keep running through them. I'm not *that* coordinated, so I didn't get much water down my throat with each little dixie cup I took. Poor plan, step 3.

So, you get the idea.  This was a plan hatched for a nice cool day, not the day I had today. The biggest mistake was not adjusting myself to the conditions at hand.  And boy did it bite me in the ass.

The starting gun went off just after 7:00 and there was the usual slow walk/jog until there was enough space to get going.  Right off the bat we headed up a small hill out of the parking lot. Not too bad though and before long the crush was nicely spread out.  The first few miles went by pretty quickly with a few inclines, but nothing too major.  Grabbed a little water at the first water stop and was so pleased with my run so far.  I had visions of, not sugar plums, but a fantastic run dancing in my head. 

I knew there was another water stop coming up around 5-6 miles and figured I should shoot a Gu at that stop (since I was only carrying Cytomax and didn't want to mix that with the Gu).  About a 1/4 mile from where I thought the water stop was going to be I gulped the Gu down.  A little too quickly.  I was hoping to finish it right as I hit the water stop, but it was a little further away than I thought.  So the Gu sat in my stomach like a lump until I could get to the water stop to dilute it with a drink.  Or part of a drink anyway.

Six miles, seven miles, eight miles, all good.  I'm feeling pretty good although it seems to be heating up.  I start to wonder why this run is called the Jungle Run and figure they must have meant "Asphalt Jungle" as there is practically no shade but plenty of sun and heat.

Nine miles comes along with a small uphill and it hit me like a slap in the face.  Hm, that's weird, I should be able to handle that no problem.  As nine turned to nine and a 1/4 I felt like I was running through molasses.  It only got worse.  Belatedly I tried to force the Cytomax down, but it was way too  late.  I was already getting nauseous if I tried to push the pace at all.  And by at all, I mean anything over 10:30.  The last 3.5 miles were me trying not to hurl, walking, jogging a little, my calves cramping up to the point where I could barely walk, getting a hamstring cramp, side cramps, and begging my body to just keep moving.  Finally the mile 12 sign appears and I still can't make myself move.  I think once I got it through my thick head that I wasn't going to have a good day, I basically let my body give up.  Or my body had given up already and my head couldn't convince it otherwise.  

The worst part about the whole sad experience is that my next race ( a tri ) is in a nice toasty environment.  And for the first time I'm thinking I may not make it.  Sigh.  

They say it's just mind over matter, right?  Well right now the score is mind 0, matter 1.  

At least I still have my sense of humor

Today was the Jungle Run 1/2 marathon.  My alternate post titles were....

Hey, who put that wall there
Best 9.5 mile run EVER, followed by worst 3.5 mile 'run' EVER
Today was not my day....tomorrow's not looking good either

Yeah, that's how it went.  I'll post a full race report later.  Finish time was somewhere around 2:23, and since I was on pace (just under 10 min/miles) for the first 9.5 miles that kinda tells you how the last few went.

Stay tuned for the exciting details......

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Definitely the other

I knew I hadn't discovered the secret to faster swimming.

I hit Quarry lake this evening and the water sure felt good with the 90 degree heat. Of course I was still wearing a wetsuit. Hey, I'm a super wimp, what can I say. But I wasn't the only one out there.

I had a crummy swim tho. Just couldn't find a rhythm and I felt very sluggish. I finally gave up after about 1100 yards (guesstimate based on info about the swim course length obtained from the Parks and Rec guy).

So, it's back to square one, I guess. The water was super clear tho and I could see all the way to the bottom. And guess what...there *are* fish in there....and they didn't attack me. Also, no swimmer's itch. Guess I'm immune so far, thank goodness. :-)

Remember fun?

With all the training that's been going on this summer, I haven't really done activities "just for the fun of it." And I haven't been taking Bam running with me for a couple of reasons: 1) she had some limping issues and I've been afraid to get her back out there and 2) the times/distances have just been too long for her.

With my half marathon coming up this week, I've been sort-of tapering. (And sort of trying to squeeze everything in that I can early in the week so I can take a day or two off prior to the run on Sunday.) So in the spirit of a sort-of taper and to get Bam back out there for a test jog, I got up before the heat hit this morning and took her out to the mostly shady Garin trail. We cut a few corners and our pace wasn't exactly blistering, but I didn't want to push her too much on our first run together in a while. We were just jogging along and it was still fairly cool and she was so smiley and hey, look at that, we're actually having FUN! Now we just keep our fingers crossed that no limping occurs!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

One or the other

Well, I'm either getting faster in my swimming, or I'm miscounting and losing track of my laps. I'd put my money on the second one, but anythings possible I guess. I did a 3000 yard swim this morning, including some drills and speed work, and even with the rest intervals it took me just over an hour. Not too shabby.

Occasionally I can really feel that I'm gliding through the water, but it's a fleeting thing. I know my breathing needs more work. I still usually have both eyes out of the water. And I can't focus on all of the elements at once for very long. If I work on breathing then my body turn slacks off, or if I work on turning my body then my recovery gets screwy, or if I focus on a relaxed recovery then my kick goes away. Yes, I sometimes just drag myself through the water with my pull. Hey, it works in a wetsuit. :-) Anywhoo, I'm continuing to work on putting it all together and I'm enjoying it more and more.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

One tough cookie....with some ham on the side

This picture speaks for itself. Okay, I'll say it. I am *tough*. :-)

Mermaid Sprint Tri Swim 2008

Here's the side of ham.

Mermaid Sprint Tri Bike 2008 (notice the bare foot as I perform the 'shoe trick')

Mermaid Sprint Tri Finish 2008 (yeah, that's clock time, not chip time, thank you. :-)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What was I thinking

I finally signed up for that 1/2 marathon I had been contemplating. I now realize it's only a week away. I'm not ready. I haven't been running enough. What was I *even* thinking?!?!? Oi. Well, I'm just going to have to do what I can do. No use stressing about it now. I'm sure I'll do enough of that next weekend.

On a happy note, the winds have shifted and we don't have the smoke layer to deal with. We can finally breathe again. Nice.

And I'm settling into my new work environment finally. My boss is gone, we're in a smaller office space, and there has been a little 'dust settling' so things are getting back into a rhythm. I'm sure things will be quite busy in the next few months. And of course, they've put incentives in place to get people to hang in there. So hang in there for a while I will.

In the meantime, let's cheer for a short work week. :-) Happy 4th. Hope everyone gets a chance to kick back and relax. Cheers.

Monday, June 30, 2008


I was attacked by a bee or a huge fly or something with 1 very large tooth on my bike ride yesterday. I'm sure the offender *thought* it was just defending itself, but it left a humongous angry welt on my leg and what I'm sure is a deadly poison coursing through my blood. I was sure my leg would most likely have to come off. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it sure stung like mad all day yesterday. The poison must've worked its way out of my system overnight tho, as my leg is much better this morning, thank you very much.

Since my aunt has her first tri coming up (Go Pat! You'll do awesome!), and she asked, I've been contemplating some suggestions for a 'smoother' swim. Actually, I just don't want to have that panicked, breathless feeling again.

So, some thoughts of my own, and some stolen from other sources.....
  • Try and forget about the piranha, black lagoon creatures, and loch ness monsters that are most likely (NOT) circling below you. The fish are certainly more afraid of you than you are of them.
  • No, there are no sharks in fresh water lakes
  • Start to the outside of the pack, and towards the back. Yes, there will be some seconds lost as you watch the mad scrambling in front of you when the gun goes off. But I think the lack of panic and smoother stroke the space will allow more than makes up for that.
  • There is nothing wrong with taking a breath on every other stroke until you can settle into a nice rhythm of every third or fourth. Extra oxygen can only be a good thing....well, unless you're hyperventilating, but that's a different subject.
  • Practice breathing on both sides. That way if you encounter waves or the person next to you is very splashy (and this comes in handy at the crowded pool too), you can comfortably get a breath.
  • Don't crowd the turn buoys as you pass. That's where the swimmers will certainly bunch up as everyone tries to take the shortest route possible. Again, the extra seconds to swim a little further out can be mitigated by keeping a nice stroke and not fighting for position.
  • Try (altho I always fail at this) not to go out toooooo fast. I tend to sprint out of the 'gate' and end up gasping for breath and that leads to panic.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Okay, now if I can only follow my own (and others) advice, maybe I'll be okay on my next open water swim. Wishing you all smooth waters and relaxed swims.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No thanks, I don't smoke

Sadly, the last few days *everyone* in the bay area has been getting second hand smoke. Smoke from all the wildfires raging around the state is getting pushed over the bay area and just hovering. Today was the worst day so far, altho the winds are picking up, so hopefully this junk will get blown somewhere else. Yeah, a bit of NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude there.

Trying to get my workouts done in this crappy air hasn't been all that fun either. In fact, I've been working on talking myself out of some of them. What? The weather man says stay indoors? Guess I can't do my bike ride. Oh yeah, we have a trainer. Darn. Well I certainly can't do my run out there. Oh, gym membership you say. Sheesh.

Today I made myself head out for some brick workouts. And altho I felt fairly good doing them, I was rewarded with the nastiest headache I've had in a while. Damn that crappy air.

So while my brain tries to make me a couch potato, my stomach growls away and so I *must* workout to combat the incessant eating. In fact, I think it's time for my evening snack. Three cheers for snacks! Hip hip hip hooray!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One two three...breathe

I think things might be clicking for me in the pool. I've been doing some drills and working on my form. At this point I have to swim *very* slowly to keep nice form and have to remind myself of the things I'm supposed to work on, but I hope that in time those things will become second nature.

I had pulled a workout out of handy little waterproof swim workout book I bought, but sadly I woke up so late that I decided to just swim and swim and work on my biggest flaws. Start with the biggest ones and move on to the rest later. So , I did a lot of pulling with a buoy intermingled with a bunch of laps working on keeping the good and chucking the bad stuff. My main things for focus today....breathing and recovery.

Breathing ~ When breathing to the right, only the right goggle should be out of the water, and on the left only the left goggle. I'm much better on the right than the left so I did a bunch of drills only breathing to one side, then alternating. All the while trying to keep only one eye popping above the water line.

Recovery ~ Worked on high elbow, relaxed arm recovery. I tend to work way too hard on the recovery part of the stroke. Amazing how much less effort it seems to be when I let my arms relax for part of the time.

So I managed to put in a good effort with 3400 yards completed. So much for rest eh?

Hopefully some of it will stick when we do our next tri. Sadly, the pool is so much different than the open water situation that I tend to go back to my flail and gasp stroke as soon as the 'gun' goes off. Swimming sure seemed a lot easier when I was a kid. :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fun in the Sun

The three week string of triathlons came to a close yesterday with the completion of the Tri for Fun sprint tri. T and I did this race last year, so again it was nice to know what to expect. Mostly we expected a warm run. However the last few days here have been extra toasty so it was even fairly warm when T picked me up at 5:45 to head out.

As we got close to the park, we remembered why we showed up so early last year (besides the all important score of a small t-shirt). The back up of cars trying to get into the park was crazy. Oh, and so much for a good transition spot. Ah well.

We hauled our gear thru the transition, but the racks were already pretty full, so we ended up staking a claim against one of the plastic 'fences' they had put up as a border for the transition area. At least it was close to the swim exit and easy to find.

It was so warm we contemplated swimming sans wetsuit, but opted to suit up for the extra buoyancy factor. We were the fourth wave to head out and it seemed to be the biggest wave. The swim went okay, but never really opened up. I kept feeling hands brush my feet, and my hands kept brushing other feet. About 8 or 9 minutes later and it was over and we were out onto the bike.

The bike course was also fairly crowded and there was quite a bit of passing and being passed going on. One lady kept passing me and slowing down. So I'd pass her, then she'd speed up to pass me again. I finally lost her for good on the one small hill on the course. Ruby is pretty good at getting me up those little hills. Zipped around the 11 mile bike course at an average of 18.5 mph and headed down the park entrance towards transition. I was out of my shoes in plenty of time and slipped my leg over the bike to hop off and run into transition with T right there with me. We heard a guy yell, "Yeah, nice dismount! That's how you do that!" That's right, we rock. :-)

On with the running gear and out onto the course. And yep, it was much warmer than I remembered. I opted not to carry a water bottle for the short 3.1 mile run and that was probably a mistake. There was water available on the course, iced water even. Which felt good when I dumped it on my head but kind of cramped my stomach when I drank too much. My Garmin was a bit whacky, so I'm not sure what my run time came out to be, but I crossed the finish line in about 1:13. Yeah, it's a "Tri for Fun" so there's no official times. I just left the stop watch on my watch run for the whole event.

And now for some much deserved rest time. Well, okay, not really. I'll still be training, but I won't have the self induced stress of competing to add to the every day exhaustion. Well, it's something. :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Looking for a light

There were some layoffs at my work a couple of weeks ago and altho I still have a job I've lost a bunch of other things.

  • My boss. He got laid off, which totally sucks. We've worked together for about 6 years and I'm really going to miss him. Not just as a boss, but as someone at work I could always talk to about anything.
  • Motivation. I just can't find any. I try to do my work, but feel like I'm wading thru mud. Not just regular mud either, but super thick, SF Bay mud.
  • Confidence. Not in myself, but in my company's upper management. I just feel like they don't really have a 'plan' to get us where we need to be.
  • Direction. My 'new' boss is so overloaded that I'm not getting any guidence. Not that I need it on a day to day basis, but it would be nice to have some idea about where I should focus my efforts (or lack thereof these days).

I do want to see the drug we're working on in leukemia succeed, and I think it could with the right guidance. I'm just not convinced we have the right team for that. So I'm looking for a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I told some people at work today that I'm just not in a happy place and I think that about sums it up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Losing it....again.....

After the Flying Pig 1/2 marathon (way back in early May) I felt pretty good and hatched a plan to get another 1/2 on the schedule this summer. Time passes, as it always does, and my running has really slacked off. Well, it's not like I'm sitting at home on the couch...not all the time anyway. I have been training for my tris, swimming, biking and ......running. Altho, not running nearly as much.

And now that there's a 'local' 1/2 marathon that I could do, I don't feel prepared. Now the decision has to be made...do I skip this one and wait until I'm better prepared? Or go into this one with no expectations (RIIIIIIIIGHT, who am I kidding?), and just do it for the fun of it? *Sigh* Well, I still have some time to see if I've got any remnant of those Flying Pig running legs left.

So in that spirit, T and I went out for a 'long' run of 90 minutes yesterday. We did some of the hills at Coyote Hills, but not the monster Meadowlark. Part trail, part paved trail, this run reminded me how tough trails are on the ankles. And I have to say that I'm a bit sore in the quads as well today. Stupid hills. Or maybe it's from the tri on Saturday. Probably a combination of both.

Still not convinced that I'm ready to tackle a 1/2 in 4-ish weeks, but I have some time to figure it out. Another 90 minute run this weekend might help me decide. Or does anyone have a coin? :-D

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back where it all began

Saturday T and I were able to sleep in a bit because our sprint tri was in our backyard! Woot! We decided to meet at Quarry Lake at 6:30. T offered to come pick me up, but I decided to bike over since it was all of 1/4-1/2 mile away from my house. I packed up my tri bag, strapped it on my back and pedaled over to the transition area.

The day started off gloomy and overcast, totally unlike the last couple of tri mornings, but completely like we remembered from this event last year. Speaking of which, we realized that the 2007 Mermaid Sprint Tri is what started this madness! Last year we were doing our first one and we proceeded to do 5 sprints that year. Now we've even got an Oly distance under our belts. Kuhl, no?

By 7:00 we were pretty much all set up in our respective 'age grouped' transition areas. Then the spectating could begin. The most bizarre thing we saw was a woman who set up her bicycle trainer in the transition area and used it to warm up. Really?!?! Why not just ride your bike around? Ah well, she must be a pro or something....but then why would she be doing Mermaid ?!?! Weird.

Soon enough the first waves (one of which was the duathlon participants) were coming through transition. And chaos reigned, I must say. There were people riding through the transition area (a DQ at any sanctioned tri), people riding OUT the bike IN area, and one person even riding out onto the bike course with her helmet still hanging from the handlebars of her bike! At a sanctioned event, they'll DQ you for riding to the event (before it even starts!) without your helmet. Funny how last year we didn't really notice any of this. Maybe it was better run last year, but I think it's because we've done some more serious events since then. At least we were being entertained while we waited for our waves to start. For some reason the waves were reverse aged, with oldest participants going out first. And I think because of that they decided to separate the waves by 15 minutes. So I'd been there about 2 hours before my wave even went off. And as we went down to the water to get ready to start, I realized I forgot to eat my pre-race snack and I was hungry. Sigh, great planning there.

This time it was my turn to take off first and leave T with her wave. The other age groups hadn't looked quite as big as my wave was, and I felt it in the early part of the swim. I again had the out of breath, slightly panicky feeling. Really, really need to work on getting that under control. I never really felt like I settled in to a groove so it's a good thing the swim was only about 400 yards. Exited the water peeling my wetsuit off as I went. Up the transition and onto the bike.

The bike course was 3 loops around, and we were to keep track of our own loops. Yeah, any wonder why this course wasn't sanctioned this year? T had told me that we finished the bike loop in about 37 minutes last year (ya' *had* to tell me ;-), so I definitely wanted to do better this year. Sadly, I just wasn't sure that was possible. Even with Ruby's help that's a pretty good clip. Also, the bike course seemed really crowded this year. I was trying to pass people, but having to slow down and wait on turns for folks to get out of the way. I finally completed my three loops and headed in to T2 and my run.

Off with the bike stuff, on with the run stuff and out onto the course. I remembered the route from last year, which is nice because it's great to know what to expect. I especially remembered the beach finish and seriously....who wants to finish up a tri with running through sand?!?! Ugh.

Turns out I actually have improved over one year ago today, despite how slow I still am:

2007 ~ 2008
20:22 ~ 9:43 swim
4:04 ~ 2:33 T1
37:24 ~ 35:08 Bike
1:55 ~ 1:14 T2
29:29 ~ 24:38 Run
1:33:15 ~ 1:13:18

On a parting note, I also have to mention that apparently the timing chip system wasn't working so well. They first listed my swim time as 1:09, yes one HOUR and nine minutes. T found that quite amusing, I think. :-) Also, a bunch of people are missing swim times, T1 times (including the person listed as first place overall), etc. I have to say that if I were person #2 overall, I might be *a little* upset that someone with no T1 time beat me. I know, I know, it's a 'fun' little event. But c'mon, we all know I have not established control over my competitive side just yet.

Next up: 6/21 Tri for Fun Sprint Tri
(And yes, I know that Fun is even in the name of this one and I'm working on it.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008



T and I went to pick up our race packets for the San Jose International Tri (which was today). We took our bikes along with the plan of riding the *run* course. We'd already ridden the bike course a couple of times, but wanted to see what the run course had in store for us. We later realized that if we had been smart we would have done a brick workout to get a real feel for what the course had in store for us. Ah well, live and learn. :-)

Packet pickup was scheduled to start at noon, and true to form so far (same organization that ran Uvas), they were behind schedule. I have to say, when you claim that you are the "best run" triathlon in the US, you might want to have things start on time and be a little better organized. Anyway, we gathered our goodies, which included all the free Gu and Gu20 we could grub. Then we hopped on our bikes and headed out to the run route. There were arrows on the ground and mile markers which we kind of followed to get an idea of the route. It was so toasty that I actually got a little burnt even tho we weren't out very long. We also took a peek at the buoy set up for the swim course and I freaked myself out with how far it looked. I had to remind myself that it wasn't too much further than Uvas, so I'd be fine. We were home by 1-ish to rest up, pack up and get to bed early for a *very* early start on Sunday.


Once again we were up before the sun for a drive down to San Jose. T picked me up at 4:30....yes, 4:30 AM...and we were in the parking lot by 5:00. We are definitely early birds, but I think standing/sitting around waiting beats rushing to find a spot and get set up. We were so early in fact, that there were less than a dozen people there and unlike Uvas, the transition here WAS first come first served. One of the guys setting up gave us the low down on how transition worked and we picked what we thought would be a great spot. And promptly changed our minds and moved. :-) Once we got our areas set up we had a bit over an hour to wait and worry. We walked down to the water to check out the swim buoys again and try to figure out the route. Then I made a final pit stop at the porta-potties and we suited up and headed down to the water. Soon enough the first group was off and T started warming up. She was in wave 5, while I was in wave 9, so I had plenty of time to warm up after cheering her off.

Pretty soon my wave of folks was sent on its way and I was pleased to note that I didn't feel anxious at all. I mean there was the usual anxiety about maintaining some space for myself and settling my breathing and stroke into a pattern, but there was no panic. The only time I felt a tiny bit of panic was when I accidentally inhaled a huge mouthful of water and starting choking while I was trying to keep swimming. The swim didn't feel too crowded and I tried to remember to keep good form and really extend my stroke, keep good body position, keep my head down, etc. It seemed long, but not horribly long. I swam until my hands brushed the bottom of the shore and then stood and started running for the transition. The transition area was quite a bit further away than at other tris I've done, so I expected some fairly long transition times. I had forgotten my watch, so I had no idea what my swim time was, but had predicted it would be around a half hour.

Into T1 to strip off my wet suit and pop on my bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, bike top, grab my bike and run, run, run, out of the transition (not only was it far away, but it was a BIG area). Get to the mount area and hop on and start the almost 25 mile bike ride.

I felt pretty good heading out and was keeping a good pace, around 18-19 mph (I'm pretty sure it's slightly downhill at that part). About 6 miles into the ride I saw a lady on the side with her bike upside down (a sure sign of a flat) and she yelled out as I approached, "Do you have a spare tube?" I pulled off to the side and stopped to give her a spare tube (I was carrying 2 in my pack), as she apologized for asking me to stop and explained that she had blown-up her spare tube with her CO2 cartridge. I felt bad for her and was glad to help out. I'd sure want someone to do that for me if I was in her shoes. Of course, the devil on my shoulder was yelling at me that I was losing time and people were passing me by! Yeah, haven't quite shut that competitive little demon up yet. But, I did a good deed and hoped to get some karma kickback at some point. I figured with my luck I'd get two flats and be by the side of the road myself.

Luckily that didn't happen and although my pace slowed a bit, I was still keeping a good clip (for me). Sadly I was getting passed again and again. At least I could entertain myself with checking the ages of the super athletes flying by. At least until that started to just depress me. Hahaha. Somewhere around mile 14 I started onto Bailey road where *the* hill of the course awaited. It's around 1/2 mile long steady uphill and as I started up I did manage to pass several people, which made me feel better. I slightly underestimated where the final uphill push was, but I made it up without too much problem. Unlike the training ride we did here, I never felt the need to just pull over and stop. Maybe that competitive little guy isn't so bad after all. Zooooooom down the hill and back towards the transition area. Around mile 20 I really started feeling wiped out. I'm going to say this was partly from pushing hard, but I think it's mostly from lack of nutrition. I had a nutrition plan going into the race (which is a big change for me), but I just didn't execute it at all. I managed to take in a little food and a couple drinks of water/Cytomax, but that's it. Just sad when the calculation was that I had burned through at least 800 calories so far and still had 5 miles to bike and a 10k to run. My pace fell off to a disappointing level in those last few miles, but according to my Garmin I managed to average 15.8 mph for the route.

As I approached T2 and noticed that there wasn't anyone too close, I decided to try a new 'trick' I learned a couple of weeks ago. The trick is to reach down to one side, un-velcro the bike shoe strap, hold onto the back of the shoe and slide your foot out, then put your foot onto the top of the shoe and pedal. Repeat for the other side. The idea behind this is that you save a little time (probably not a big deal for someone of my 'caliber') in T2 by not having to pull off your shoes. You may not know, but I'm not *that* great of a cyclist and my control can be a little iffy when trying to multi-task (drink, eat, etc). So I was very excited to not only pull off the shoe trick, but also to be able to swing one leg over the bike and ride into transition and hop off just at the dismount line and go right into a run to my area to get ready for the 10k. So excited in fact that I totally blew my T2. Blew it in the sense that I forgot my water bottle and my Garmin. So now I was running out onto the nice toasty run course with no hydration (except what the course provided) and no idea what my pace was. Niiiiice. Definitely need to practice T2 a bit.

Well, as I mentioned, I had nothing to drink and no idea how fast I wasn't going. I could tell I was getting, or was already, dehydrated because I started to get chills. Awesome...6 miles to go and I'm already way behind the curve. I hit the first water stop and forced myself to down 2 cups of water. I was afraid to take too much and start cramping up. By mile 2 I noticed that I was bonking as well, and knew I'd have to shoot a Gu soon. Actually I probably should have eaten a Gu already, but I don't think I was thinking all *that* clearly. And because I wasn't carrying any water, I'd have to wait until I hit the next water stop. In my case bonking seems to be evidenced by SERIOUS negative thinking. It's not so much that I can't physically do the task, but my brain just starts to lose any hope and tries to take over my body and make it stop. As soon as I could see the next water stop, I pulled out a Gu and forced myself to swallow the whole thing. I don't have a great history with Gu type products, but I'm trying some different brands to find something I can tolerate. It's one of the easiest things to carry that packs about 100 calories per shot. I didn't notice an immediate improvement, like some folks claim they do, but within the next 10-15 minutes I was able to shut the little negative demon up for a while and tell myself, only X # of miles left, you can do this. Oh, and also about the time I hit the water stop, I realized that the course was *quite* different than the one we had ridden yesterday. Turns out the markings we were following on our ride were for the Mountain Bike Sprint Tri that had been held on Saturday. Damnit. So much for preparation. Ah well, nothing for it now but to finish up. It felt like the slowest 10k I've ever done. At somewhere around 5.75 miles my legs just stopped running. One second I was running, the next I was walking. What.The.Hell? I think the dehydration and lack of energy hit me all at once. I walked for a little bit then yelled at myself "What are you doing?!?! You're almost there!!!!" I managed to start running again and saw the playground where I knew the "6" was marked on the ground. Only a little more...keep running....around the final turn, where people were yelling out "100 yards to go"....Tina cheering for me.....I picked out a lady in front of me and told myself, "you are going to beat HER" and picked up the pace. Crossed the finish line (yes, in front of that lady), was handed a bottle of water, chip was pulled off my ankle, and I promptly wanted to puke. Walked around a little until T found me and I made her go down to the lake, take off our shoes, and go for a dip. The cool water felt *sooooo* good. A few minutes spent cooling down and bitching about how all the *ahem* larger and older athletes were kicking my butt, and how I felt like I was running thru molasses and then we went off to change before grabbing some food and scoring a couple of freebies.

All in all, it probably went better than I had hoped for (in retrospect). As I've mentioned in the past, I don't think my runners high hits until I've finished the event. THEN I get all happy and can look forward to the next event a little bit. :-) A little work on T2 is needed, and a LOT of work on nutrition strategy. But for my first International/Oly distance tri I think I did okay. I had hoped for something around a 3:15-3:30 finish time and manged to beat that, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Sadly, I think it's hard wired in me to expect more. :-)

projected: 30 min
actual: 28:57

3:39 (hey, I said it was far away, remember?)

projected: 1:40
actual: 1:27
(which works out to 17.1 mph average by my calculation. So much for Garmin's mph average!)


projected: 1 hr ?
actual: 1:04 (about 10:21 pace, a bit disappointed with that)


Upcoming events
6/14 Mermaid Sprint Tri (and only about 1/2 a mile from my house!)
6/21 Tri for Fun Sprint Tri (not officially timed, just a 'fun' event)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Inquiring minds want to know.....just *what* have I been up to?!?! Okay, so maybe there aren't inquiring minds, but just let me pretend that there are.

Training is going along, swimming, biking, running, more swimming, more biking, not too much more running. And of course there's work, which hasn't really slowed down too much. Sigh.

With my runs I've been working on keeping a steady pace. Harder than it sounds, really. On my *easy* runs, I'm shooting for 10:15, but somehow manage to hit either 9:30 or 10:30 and nothing in between. I think it has something to do with the lag time of the Garmin GPS. It yells at me "SPEED UP" (well, it beeps insistently anyway), so I do then I look and I'm too fast. So I slow down a tiny bit and we go back to "SPEED UP." Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down. Hmm, this is more work than a nice easy run should be. Tempo runs have been something like this: 15 min warm up at 10:15 (riiiiight), 20 min at 9:30 (uh huh, sure), 5 min at 10:15, 20 min at 9:30, then cool down for 15 at 10:15. Okay, at least I know I need to work on holding a pace. Doing these kinds of 'drills' has given me some of the fun back in my running tho. I think because I'm not pushing, pushing, always pushing as hard as I can, I can actually enjoy it a little bit.

Swimming, well, I've just been trying not to drown. No, I've actually been doing drills: kicking, pulling, 'speed' drills, etc. I'm not *sure* but I may be getting a tiny bit better at it. T and I have even hit Quarry Lakes a couple of times to get that 'open water' feel. One day we went and it was pretty windy. In one direction it was smooth sailing, but coming back the other way some little waves were slapping us around. So good practice for the real thing, I guess. Now all we need is hands slapping us and feet kicking us and we'll get some *real* practice. Oh, throw in a little claustrophobia and panic too for good measure. Item that needs most improvement: spotting the buoys....I get off line pretty quickly and consistently.

This, by the way, just cracks me up:

Biking has been coming along as well. One bizarre note....we did a longer ride last weekend (37-ish miles or something) and my tush/crotch was NOT happy. (Too much info?!?! Sorry. :-) I was wearing my nice cushy bike shorts too, not my barely padded tri shorts. Then on Wednesday evening we go for a 27 miler and I wear my tri shorts (hey, gotta get used to wearing them on rides) and my tush doesn't complain at all! Very weird, but it seems to me that I do better with *less* padding. Hmmm. Further experimentation may be warranted. I also tried sockless biking on the 27 miler. Didn't feel any different than socked biking, except maybe that my feet were a little chillier, even with my toe covers. My thinking behind sockless biking is that my feet will have a chance to dry out after the swim, while I'm on the bike, and then I can have nice fresh socks for the run. Still debating this philosophy with myself.

Anywhoo, that's what I've been up to...same 'ol, same 'ol basically. Next Sunday (June 8th) is the San Jose International Tri. My longest tri to date ~ 1.25k swim (.78 miles), 40k bike (24.85 miles) and 10k run (6.2 miles). And lucky me, I'm at a conference all next week so my training will be limited to what the conference hotel has to offer by way of gym/pool. That *may*a be a good thing tho. Maybe my body will be more rested than if I was at home trying to do my regular training stuff. We'll see. There are quite a few of my former coworkers from various companies going as well, so the real challenge will be making sure I get plenty of sleep....oh, and not too many cosmos. :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Uvas Tri Report

Saturday morning, dark and early, T picked me up at 4:30 for our trek down to the Uvas Tri. The race instructions said to allow 1-1/2 hours from the east bay for travel and to be there 'by 6:00'. Okay, we followed the instructions and got there a bit before 5:30. Parking was supposed to be 1/8 of a mile before we hit the transition area so when we got to the transition without seeing the parking we started to wonder. Evidently, they weren't expecting people *quite* that early and told us to turn around, turn into the first driveway and someone would be there shortly to show us where to park. We finally got parked and unloaded and started walking back to the transition.

This would be perfect...one of the first people there, we'd get an awesome transition spot. Yeah, not so much. It wasn't first come, first serve, as previously stated. The racks were grouped by age then by bib #. So you basically had to wander around looking for your age group and then find your bib #, which weren't in any apparent order. I always like a bit of organized chaos first thing in the morning. Even after setting up our transition areas we had about 1-1/2 hours to wait until the event started. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that the waves were switched around and T and I were in the same wave. There were a lot of people in our wave so I knew we'd lose each other eventually, but it was nice to be able to get nervous together. Hahahaha.

As the transition area started to fill up, we noticed the abundance of aero wheels, aero helmets, and really, really fit people. I started to think, ummm, I'm in the wrong race!!! I want out! I have to say I was more than a little freaked out at the prospect of getting swum, ridden, and run down by all these folks.

Soon they started announcing that the transition needed to be cleared, but by then we were down by the water in preparation for our warm up. The bottom of the reservoir was very mucky and I could see the water was still not clear, altho much better than the mud pit we saw the first time we cycled around it. The Elite competitors started, followed a group of men (younger, tho I forget the age breakdown), then us....women 39 and under. The start was an 'in the water' start, so depending on how close to the starting line you wanted to be, you were either treading water (up close), or standing at some depth. The countdown got to zero, they yelled "GO!" and we were off. Immediately I had trouble. There were a lot of people (expected), the water wasn't clear (expected), and I felt claustrophobic and like I couldn't breathe (totally unexpected). I've never had a problem with the open water swims before. I don't know if it was the bad visibility, the distance (3/4 mile), the tension of the long wait or a combination of many things. I do know that I had to talk to myself pretty much for the entire swim. First I had to talk myself out of just bailing, then talk myself into relaxing and breathing, even if it was more frequently than was efficient. Finally about 1/2 way into the swim I felt somewhat relaxed into my stroke and tried to settle in. It was a really tough swim for me tho, surprisingly. Also, I was WAAAAAY outside the line, so I'm sure I swam a lot further than necessary. I came out of the water in 27:49 according to the results, so while I'm no fish-woman, I had expected 1/2 an hour so I'm pleased.

The first transition seemed amazingly slow. I had to run to the furthest corner of the transition area and I struggled a bit with my wetsuit, so I have to work on that. My T1 was 2:54, so maybe not as slow as it felt, but still a lot of room for improvement there.

Finally got all my biking gear on and ran out the transition and mounted up. I was trying to push the pace, but still keep some energy for The Hill that I knew would be coming around mile 11 or 12. I hadn't seen T, since we were in different transition areas, but she found me on the bike and then zoomed around me on her way to the hill. It was amazing how tired my legs already were, even tho I felt like I didn't kick nearly as much as I should have during the swim. All I kept thinking about on the bike was The Hill. When would I approach The Hill. How much further to The Hill. Oh, and also to notice how many people were flying by me on the bike section. Definitely my weakest link, I think. Soon enough we made it to The Hill and I quickly ran out of gears, spinning slowly, ever so slowly in my lowest gear. It's a damn good thing I knew what to expect from that hill or I may have bailed and walked up, as we saw some people doing. I kept telling myself "You've done it before, even on tired legs, so just keep going" and "You know it's not that long, you can almost see the last section, just keep going." Finally I saw the mailboxes that I knew marked the top of The Hill. WOOO HOOOO! I did it! I was hoping to finish up the ride in under an hour and as I cruised into the transition, I thought I was just over. Ah, close enough. But actually my 'official' time on the bike was 58:44 for 16 miles. Nice. :-)

Through T2 in a fairly speedy 1:18, if I do say so myself, altho I'm sure there's room for improvement there as well.

The run you ask?!? Well, the run was a bit of a struggle. It had warmed up to probably somewhere in the mid 80's, which for me is a bit toasty for running. There were some rolling hills, and very little shade. Also, I decided not to carry a water bottle, as they had stated there would be support at every mile. That was probably a mistake. I took 2 glasses of water at most of the stations, one to throw at my mouth in an effort to get some hydration and one to dump on my head in an effort to cool off. I would have liked to keep about a 9:30 pace, but just felt sapped by the heat and my legs were so tired. I finished up the 5 miles in 48:35. I'm happy to have kept it under 10 min/mile at least.

My overall results: 2:19:22 in my first 'official' tri. Not too shabby, a middle-of-the-packer. :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Do the event butterflies ever go away? It seems that for running events I don't get nearly as many as for tris. In fact, I think they've started swarming (hm, do butterflies swarm?) earlier than ever.

My first tri of the year is this Sunday. It's the Uvas tri ~ 3/4 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 5 mile run. I think part of the nervousness is because the swim is longer than any tri I've done to date. In fact, I think it's *almost* twice as long as any tri I've done. Great...I've freaked myself out even more.

Also, it's supposed to be quite toasty and while the 'official' start is 7:30, my wave doesn't go off until 8:05 (yeah, I'm in the old lady last group). So there's plenty of time after the swim for the bike and especially the run to be nice and warm. Important point to remember: hydrate!

Well, I guess I gotta start the season somewhere and Uvas is as good a place as any.

Quick summary of recent workouts:
  • 70 min run on Saturday, nice easy pace (something new I'm trying out, I'll explain more later)
  • 3hr 15min, 43 mile ride on Saturday with some killer hills (for me) including the infamous Uvas "Hill"
  • Weights on Monday
  • 3000 yd swim on Tuesday and a baby brick (spin 35 min, run 15 min)
Okay, I have to stop thinking about the tri or I'm going to vomit. Think cool, fast thoughts for me on Sunday.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oink Oink

I arrived in Illinois on Thursday evening and was met by my brother and my niece, Spencer, who seems to have grown about a foot since I saw her at Christmas. We grabbed some food and headed to their house to crash for the night before driving to Cincinnati on Friday. En route, "Tainted Love" came on Rob's iPod and we were singing and drumming along when my niece pipes up from the back "I'm so embarrassed by this." Uh, yeah, she's 4. Where does she get this stuff?!?! Despite several downpours en route to Cincinnati, we made it in time to check into the hotel and have some dinner. For dinner we had a group of about 12 people, including Aunts, Moms, Grandparents, cousins. It was really good to see everyone.

On Saturday we arose to cloudy skies and sprinkles. By 9:30 we were heading out to the expo and Spencer's race, The Flying Piglet. As we were walking along, it started raining a bit harder and it was a bit longer of a walk than expected. Eventually we arrived at the packet pickup area and realized it was only the packet pickup for the kids races. Argh. So, we had about an hour and a half to wait for Spencer's race to start. And it started raining even harder. We spied some folks hiding out under an awning and asked if we could join them. Turns out they were heading out in the mess to run the 5k. So we had 3 chairs and a lot of standing room out of the rain. Well, mostly out of the rain. I was having flashbacks to Surf City, but by about 11:30 the rain tapered off and the skies started to clear. Now we just needed to get rid of the wind!

Around 11:45 Spencer went over to the Piglet Pen and lined up for her race. Holy Cow there were a lot of kids! There must've been 4-5 waves of 2-3 year olds before Spencer's race even started. Corralling that many kids was pretty funny to watch and there was one false start by the 4-5 year olds when the announcer yelled out "go" for the 2-3 yr old race. A bunch of 4-5 year olds took off running and the parents took off running after them to herd them back to the start line. It was pretty funny to watch. Soon enough the 4-5 year old race was on. Spencer went off in the 3rd wave and gave it her all! Way to go Spence! The other cute thing was all the kids had bib number '1'. The take away point..... Everyone is a winner. Riiiiiight. Oh, I mean RIGHT! Another funny thing...inside her goodie bag was a plastic pig snout, which we all got a kick out of her wearing. :-)

After Spencer's race we headed back to the hotel to grab some lunch. Then we had to find the expo to pick up our packets and get any freebies that were around. The expo wasn't too great, with not that many good giveaways. The race freebie tho was pretty cool. We didn't get tech tees (like the full marathon folks did), but everybody got a nice black duffel with the Flying Pig logo on it. Not bad. :-)

Saturday night we ate at an Italian place and tried to get to bed early since we were taking off for the start line at 5:45. It was about a 15 minute walk and the start was 6:30. The night sure went by quickly, but I'm not sure how much I slept. I'm pretty sure I was still on California time and trying to go to bed by 10:00 (7:00 Pacific) didn't work out too well. So all the runners met in the lobby and we were off to the start line by 6:00. Jeff, my brother Rob and I were planning to stick together while my cousin Jenni was planning a faster pace. But we all started off together in the 2:15-2:30 half pace group.

6:30 came and went with no start. Finally around 6:45 the 'gun' went off and we were on our way. Turns out that there was a 3 alarm fire along the marathon course and it had to be rerouted at the last minute......adding a 1/4 mile to the course. Ugh, I feel for those folks. The route was really crowded for most of the first 4-5 miles. It didn't *really* thin out until the split of the marathon and 1/2 courses somewhere between mile 8 and 9.

The first few miles were kept interesting by running across the bridge into Kentucky and then over another bridge back into Ohio. The barges were even blowing their horns to root us all on. Well, that's my reason why they were blowing their horns anyway. There were several bands along the route and we were wondering if they had gotten up early or just stayed up all night. After hearing some of the raspy voices, I'd have to vote for an all-nighter. Around mile 2 some guy yelled out "you're almost there!" Maybe he thought it was a 5k!

Rob, Jeff and I were pretty close together except when Jeff would hit the water stops. Rob and I were carrying water bottles so didn't need to stop as often. Soon enough we hit the first set of hills, which I didn't think were too bad. Maybe The Relay hills had prepared me more than I thought.

When I looked back to find Jeff, I couldn't see him. As we approached the relay turnoff I stopped and waited for him to make sure he was alright. Turns out his knees started killing him on the hills and he was struggling. I ran with him until he had to turn off for the hand off of the chip and then took off to catch up with my brother. Luckily he was wearing a bright yellow top and was easy to spot. We had one more hill and at the top there were folks handing out hard candy. I have to say it really hit the spot. Especially since I had forgotten my Luna moons and felt like I was about to start running on empty.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 we split off from the marathoners and the crowd thinned out a little bit more. This is also where we heard someone behind us say "If you're feeling tired, just quit." It was actually pretty funny and we got a kick out of it. I kept asking my brother how he was doing and hoping I wasn't pushing too hard. He kept saying he was alright, so we chugged on. Altho, I don't think he would have said anything if he *wasn't* alright. Wow, we really are alike in some ways.

After mile 10 or so, the route is pretty much all downhill or at least flat. Folks along the road kept telling us "It really *is* all downhill from here." And unlike when bicyclists tell me that, it was pretty much true. We hit mile 12 and I looked down at my Garmin. Dang! I told my brother "If we do a 9 minute mile we can beat my PR." He told me to take off if I needed to, but I reminded him (and myself too) that this race wasn't about PRing for me. Lucky dog, he'd have a PR no matter what. :-)

About a 1/2 mile from the finish we saw Jeff walking back to the finish line! What the heck! There were supposed to be buses back to the finish for relay folks. Turns out he couldn't find a bus and thought he could easily walk back. Yeah, well, he didn't count on his bad knees getting a lot more painful. He looked miserable. Thankfully there was a well stocked first aid tent at the end of the race and he was able to get his knees wrapped with ice.

Rob and I made it to the finish in 2:17:40. Pretty dang good for his first 1/2 marathon. Sadly, we were so much ahead of schedule (2:30 projected) that we didn't get video of the finish. Ah well, there's always 'next' time. ;-)

I have to say that the pace felt pretty comfortable for me. So now I'm wondering if I've really improved that much since Surf City, when a 2:17 felt like death, or if it was just the nature of that particular course, with the last 3 or so miles being downhill. I'm considering doing another 1/2 marathon this summer, just to test it out. I need something to replace Nike anyway since I didn't get the lucky draw in the lottery. I think part of the easy feeling was that I was finally having fun again. :-) A big thanks to my bro for that. Even if he didn't fall down or wear a pig costume, I had a blast running with him.

2:23:10 clock time
2:17:40 chip time

When we got close to the finish line my brother says "Let's go!" and takes off for the finish line like a bat out of hell. What the heck!!?!? Turns out he didn't want this guy in the red shirt beating him. Ah, like brother, like sister. ;-)