Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With The Old......

"If you do not consciously form good habits, you will unconsciously form bad ones."

The last couple of weeks of December have been busy. The weekend of the 19th, my cycle team had a ride/lunch/white elephant party. We got in around a 25 mile ride. There were a couple of times I let loose as I was on my tri bike, but for the most part we all stayed together. This meant going slower than normal at times for the newer riders, but at least I was getting in time on the bike. The white elephant exchange was kind of fun as well.

Then on the 20th, we had to go out of town for a grandmother's 90th birthday and then come back in town for Dalton's indoor soccer game. Then it was back out of town on the 23rd for Christmas with the in-laws, back on the 24th and Christmas with my family on the 25th. Then back out of town on the 26th with extended family. Luckily, after that we were home for good and I was off work the last week of the year.

During all the craziness, I have continued to work out, even getting in my longest swim session to date - a 2,800 yard workout. I'm excited that I'm at that point and I still have 11 months to go until IMFL.

This week off has been nice, but still busy. One of the guys from my Sunday school class at church put out a resolution challenge. From the 26th - January 1, he challenged people to workout at least 20 minutes a day by walking or running. You get points for time, distance, being outside, and if the outside workout is below freezing. My first workout was the day we had to go out of town, so I got up early to get my run in and it was below freezing. Wahoo!!!! An extra point. Even though I would have worked out every day anyway, this challenge has encouraged me to probably do more than I would have. Thursday was a busy day and I could have easily skipped the workout, but I knew others in the challenge would see a blank day and I wanted points, so I got my run in. Forming that habit of working out every day is what most people need to keep going, so I hope the challenge helped some people.

As I look back on 2009, I feel like it was a good year. I got a PR in the 5K, 10K, and sprint triathlon distances. I ran more than I did last year, and I swam over twice the distance I did in 2008. 2009 totals are:

Bike: 1384.26 miles
Run: 832.73 miles
Swim: 32683.26 yards
Strength: 3 hr 55 min
Massage: 3 hr
Race Volunteering: 4 hr 30 min
Soccer: 30 min
Spin Class: 1 hr
Walking: 15 hr 46 min 30 sec
Wii Fit: 20 min
Yoga: 23 hr

It will be interesting to see 2010 totals at the end of next year after training for the Ironman.

I hope that your 2009 was good to you and that 2010 will be even better. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time Versus Distance

"One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves." Karen Casey, from Achievement of a Life Goal

With the holiday season approaching, some things at work, and Madison's volleyball kicking into gear, things are not slowing down. But I am determined to get the workouts in however I need to get them in. Last Wednesday, Madison told me at the last minute that she wanted to go to Bible study. I had already planned to get in my 60 minute run before dark. We were having a hard time figuring out how to get her there and pick her up and still get Dalton where he needed to go. Then I thought, "Why don't I just get dressed, drive her there, and run from that house for an hour? I'll be done when she is." So that's what I did despite the 45 degree temps. And it worked out perfect. She called me on my phone to see where I was just as I was rounding the corner to the house.

I've also had to rearrange the schedule a little bit due to an all day volleyball tournament on Saturday. For the team's first time to play together in a real game environment, they did well (at least I thought). And Madison's serving amazed me. On the last game they were playing, they were down 24 to 17 (or something like that). If the other team scored a point, the game was over and our team was knocked out. It was our turn to serve. And it was Madison serving. She did great under pressure and brought the team back to 25-24. And then the other team won anyway. But I was so proud of her. It was worth it to rearrange my workout schedule.

Then after working out on Sunday with a swim of 2,500 yards (my longest to date) and a run, I got to looking at my Ironman program again. The one I plan to follow does the run and bike workouts by time but gives swim workouts, so it's distance there. I've been following a half-iron plan right now that also bases workouts on time. And I'm actually finding that I kind of like that. For instance, the other night when I had the 60 minute run - normally I probably would have gone 5-6 miles. But since I ran for an hour, I got in 6.2. So I may actually get more miles in this way, at least with running. I know later on I will do bike rides by miles, doing several century rides over the summer, and I know I will want to get in several 18-20 miles run toward the end of training. Well see how it goes.

I also noticed that my Ironman plan only has swim workouts of up to 3,500 meters. I don't think I like that since I'm already fairly comfortable with 2,500. I think I want to go farther, and in swimming you can. I may look at some other plans and take the swimming workouts from those. It will definitely be an interesting year, but one part at a time and one day at a time, I'll get there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Busy Times

"My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy." John Bryant

I guess today was a day that was too busy. Sure, I could be on the treadmill right now instead of updating my blog, but I pretty much refuse to start a workout after 9:00 pm. I don't mind working out past 9:00 if I've already started, but I don't want to start working out that late.

The past two nights I've gotten home late. Last night, I got home around 8:00. I got on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then the trainer for 45 minutes. I then took a shower and went to bed. Tonight I didn't get home until almost 9:00 and I had not eaten dinner yet. I knew I needed to eat. Tomorrow is a light day as far as activities go, so I'll do tonight's run tomorrow either before or after swimming.

I have looked at my schedule (training and activities) for the next two months to figure out what kind of workouts I need to do and when I can fit them in. I've got the December schedule posted on a cabinet in the kitchen. I need to find the time and get it done.

I've been looking at races/rides for 2010 and how they fit in my Ironman training. One thing that I decided to go ahead and do is an early season Half Ironman. I wasn't sure I wanted to do that, but several other people I know who are also doing IMFL are doing the same race and I think it will be good for me to see where I'm at and start testing the nutrition. So, training for that starts now. No more skipping workouts!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Slow and Steady

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." Confucius

Lately, that seems to be my theme. I'm getting it done, but it's slow.

Thanksgiving morning I went out for a run. I didn't really care how long it took or how far I went. I just wanted to get in a run that morning so I wouldn't feel so guilty about what I ate later in the day. When I headed out for my run it was in the mid 50s and the sun was starting to pop out. It was a beautiful morning and I was out to enjoy it.

Friday ended up being a travel day back home and a "get things done" day. We got haircuts, put up the outside Christmas lights along with some inside decorations, and had Madison's birthday party which included a trip to the mall on Black Friday. It actually wasn't too bad.

Saturday morning I headed out for a bike ride with one of my good TNT buddies. We rode a lot together last season and always ride well together. We headed "out" on our out-and-back route and I thought I was doing good. I haven't ridden outside in a couple of months and here we were going 18-22mph and it felt easy. A few hills started to wear me out, so around 17 miles we turned to come back. And WHAM! The wind hit us in the face. Our speed dropped and the hills got harder for me. I knew there was a reason I picked Florida for my first Ironman race.

Sunday was church and more of Christmas decorating. I told the family that if it didn't get done on Sunday, it wasn't getting done. Then in the evening, a cold front (for us anyway) blew through.

Todays temps were in the high 40s and low 50s. When I got home I decided to run on the treadmill. My body needs some adjusting to the lower temps. Last week I was running in the mid 70s in shorts and a tank. I just wasn't ready to head out in 50 degree weather today. I know, call me a wimp. So I hopped on the treadmill instead. And I always run slower on the treadmill. I can average 9:30/mile outside and usually end up a little over 11:00/mile on the treadmill. It's frustrating. But, I'm getting it done.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mexican Food Before Swimming is Not a Good Idea

"You eat a hamburger, you run like a hamburger." Steve Riddick

So, if you eat Mexican food, do you swim like Mexican food? Because that's what I did tonight.

Because of the holidays and because the pool will be closed Thursday and Friday, I decided that I would swim tonight. But I wanted to wait until my daughter got home from her orthodontist appointment and make sure we didn't have anything else planned for the evening.

Well, Madison's birthday is tomorrow (Wednesday) and the tradition in our house is for the birthday person to pick where they want to go eat dinner. Since we won't be able to go out to eat tomorrow night, she decided she wanted her birthday dinner tonight. At our local Mexican food restaurant. So, I decided to delay my swim, but not give it up.

After eating dinner I headed to the pool. To be honest, I don't think I swam any slower tonight than I normally do, but I definitely felt full. And I felt a little sluggish even if my time didn't really reflect it. In the end, I'm still glad I went to the pool and got the swim done. At least maybe I worked off some of that food I ate tonight.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back in the Pool

"The water is your friend...you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." Alexandr Popov


After a restful week of basically either walking the dog, yoga, or nothing, it was time to get back to some real working out. I was suppose to go for a bike ride with some of my fellow Team in Training cyclists today, but the weather did not cooperate. So, I changed plans and headed for the pool instead.

Swimming is the least favorite of the three disciplines for me. I don't like to be cold and always am when I first get in the water, and it just involves so much more than the other two disciplines. I can't swim at my house, so it's a pain to drive to the gym. And in the past when I've done my swimming, I've just swam 2,000 meters and gone home. But I have realized that, just like in running or cycling, to swim faster, you have to swim more and you have to do drills and intervals.

Today when I swam, I swam a 300 meter warmup. Then I did drills for 700 meters. Then I did the fun stuff: 10 x 50m with 15s rest in between. I surprised myself and swam every one of those 50m between :55 and 1:00. Pretty consistent and pretty fast for me. Then I did a 500m continuous swim. Overall, my average pace was just over 2:00 per 100 meter. I use to be around 2:30, so I am seeing some improvement.

I know between now and next November I need to hit the pool at least twice a week. Later in my Ironman training plan, I'll be hitting the pool three times a week. And I also know I need to swim longer. I've never really swam longer than 2,000 meters at a time because the longest swim I've done in a race was the 1.2 miles of a Half Ironman. I know that I will be swimming around 4,000 meters or more in some of my training swims. I really do need to become friends with the water.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recovery Week

"How important is rest in the training equation? More important than most runners know." Paul Goss

After my first marathon, I was told to take a day off for every mile I had just run. In other words, take 26 days off. I took a week off and did my first triathlon exactly one week later. Then for the rest of the summer, I just did what I wanted when I felt like it. No training plan and no stress about getting a workout in. I'm not sure I could do that again, but I do take a rest break after my marathons....at least for a little bit.

Monday when I got home from work, I took my dog Roscoe on a walk. We use to be in the habit of walking every day and then my training increased and the temps got hotter and suddenly we weren't walking anymore. We had a great time yesterday.

And then Monday night I went for a massage. I'm on a list at a massage school and they had called Saturday afternoon to see if I could come in. What better way to recover after a marathon than to get a massage. Today was my typical Tuesday yoga class.

I probably won't do much the rest of the week - just something light each day. Then I'll get back to working out on a regular basis, but doing what I feel like doing and nothing too intense. I've already got some races scheduled for the first of the year, so I need to keep the base I have, but I also don't want to over do it before the "official" Ironman training kicks in sometime in April.

My body will appreciate the rest.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon

"Running for someone else makes me less willing to give up or give in, more able to withstand the pain and the fatigue knowing that someone else is drawing power from my effort. I look at it as an opportunity to carry a portion of another person's burden, to cover some ground on their behalf, to try to lighten the load by shouldering some of it on our own backs. That's endurance." Kristen Armstrong


As a Team in Training participant, this pretty much sums up why we do what we do. And this year, for this marathon, it meant more than ever. One of our participants' personal honored hero passed away yesterday. This race was very sprecial to our team this year.

Heading into this marathon, I was hoping to set a PR. My record for the marathon distance so far is 4:44. I was hoping to get into the 4:30s somewhere. But when we woke up this morning to temps in the mid 60s and high humidity, I was a little reserved. I don't do well in heat and humidity, but thought I'd give it a go anyway. My plan was to run with one of our coaches and see what we could do. Shorts and a singlet was the outfit.

We figured we would try to maintain around a 10:30 pace, so when we took off and hit 10:13 at mile one we figured we were ok. We did pretty well the first few miles, despite the fact that by mile 2 I was sweating already.

Mile 1: 10:13
Mile 2: 10:22
Mile 3: 10:11
Mile 4: 10:30
Mile 5: got missed and combined with mile 6
Mile 6: 20:55
Mile 7: 10:47
Mile 8: 10:12
Mile 10: 10:25
Mile 11: 10:43
Mile 12: 10:23

At this point my coach's calf muscle was starting to cramp some, so he stopped and stretched a little and we started walking more through the aid stations.

Mile 13: 11:05
Mile 14: 11:24
Mile 15: 10:28
Mile 16: 10:58

At this point coach said he was going to have to walk more and sent me on my way. This was also the point where you head out to a kind of lonely out and back section of the course.

Mile 17: 10:41
Mile 18: 10:51
Mile 19: 11:14
Mile 20: 11:21

The sun started coming out and it started getting really hot.

Mile 21: 12:03
Mile 22: 13:25
Mile 23: 12:37
Mile 24: 13:31
Mile 25: 12:51
Mile 26: 12:39
last .2: 2:27

Garmin Time: 4:53:02. I'll post official time when I see it.

The course wasn't a bad course and was fairly flat. I think if the temps had been 20degrees cooler, I could have gotten my PR today, but it wasn't meant to be. I saw my family several times on the course and saw several TNT alumni as well, which helped. And coming into the finishing chute was nice because some of our team who did the half were done and were along the finish line cheering. My family was also there as well.

After the race, I headed back to the hotel room for a quick shower and then headed home with the two other girls I came with. I've got my lovely hot pink compression socks on and hope that when I wake up in the morning I'll be able to walk fairly well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Busy Day

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." Frank Shorter

Well, hopefully my mind has forgotten my last marathon since I'll be trying another tomorrow. But first I have to get through today.

This morning my son has a People to People meeting. He was nominated to be a student ambassador to Australia this summer and today is their first meeting. Then we leave early and head toward San Antonio for his soccer game. Two of my Team in Training buddies are coming to the game and from there, the three of us will continue on to San Antonio.

Once we get to San Antonio, we'll check into the hotel and then head to the expo to check in and get our bibs. From there we will head to the TNT pasta party, have our team meeting and then go back to the room to get ready for Sunday morning's race.

It should be a very busy day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Small Efforts Contribute

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." Robert Collier

As I prepare for the marathon on Sunday, I'm backing down on mileage. Today was only a 3 mile run. Most of the time, when I only run 3 miles, I feel like a slacker. But in the grand scheme of things, I know that even that 3 mile run contributes to the success of the longer runs. It's not always about the long run, but about getting out day in and day out and getting the runs in. Hopefully my small efforts will pay off on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visualization

"Spend at least some of your training time, and other parts of your day, concentrating on what you are doing in training and visualizing your success." Grete Waitz

I believe visualization is an important part of training. While I was in Florida, I had my picture taken under the Ironman fixture that eventually graced the finish line. While I was at the finish line catching, I visualized myself coming down the chute and crossing the finish line. And I will continue to do so throughout the year.

One thing that helps me focus and visualize is the fact that I go to yoga. I have been for the past 6 or 7 years, once a week (as long as the instructor holds class). I truly believe yoga has been a great asset to my training - in helping to clear my head, in helping with focus, and in helping with my flexibility.

With that, I'm off to yoga and will visualize me finishing the race during meditation.

Namaste

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Training

"It's not what you did yesterday, but what you will do today that will make a difference tomorrow."

Thank goodness yesterday doesn't count. Or the few days before that. Other than the swim in the ocean on Friday morning, I haven't worked out since Tuesday and that's too long for me. So today I went out and ran 4 miles. After all, I have a marathon to run this weekend.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Start of A Journey

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

And my dream of becoming an Ironman is being pursued. I stood in line this morning with the other volunteers and registered for Ironman Florida 2010.

In June of 2005, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles of running). Exactly one week later, I completed my first sprint triathlon (500m swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run). At that point, something inside me was born. I enjoyed the challenge of endurance racing and knew there would be more marathons and triathlons in my future. What I didn’t know at that point was how far I would take it.

In the spring of 2006, I did my first Olympic distance tri (.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike and 6.2 mile run). I wondered if I could do a longer one. The next step was a half ironman (otherwise known as 70.3). It involves a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. I did my first half ironman in the fall of 2007. At that point I began to question whether I could accomplish the “big one” – a full Ironman distance. An Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run – all in one day with a time limit of 17 hours.

I began reading the beginnertriathlete forum and read any thread I could that had to do with Ironman. I read lots of race reports, and I began to think that maybe I could do it. I did my second half Ironman in the fall of 2008 and knocked my time down. The dream of a full Ironman was growing.

I researched the different Ironman races and decided if I did one, I would do Ironman Florida. I had also read that it’s best to go to the Ironman race the year before to volunteer and experience Ironman and then get in line the day after to sign up for the following year. So, this is how I came to my decision to volunteer at Ironman Florida for 2009 and sign up for 2010.

Ironman Florida from a Volunteer Standpoint

On Thursday afternoon I caught a flight to Florida. I landed in Pensacola, hooked up with another BTer and made the drive to Panama City Beach, Florida. Got to the condo and headed for bed. Friday morning I was up early and heading down to the Gatorade swim. Several of us BTers met to do a practice swim in the ocean. And I am glad I did. In Florida, the 2.4 mile swim consists of 2 loops of 1.2 miles. No problem, right? So I head out and felt great at first. The salt water and wetsuit had me floating on top of the water. I wasn’t worried about time, so I just enjoyed the swim. My son had joked about there being sharks in the ocean. I didn’t see any sharks, but what I saw is something I hadn’t thought about – jellyfish. Luckily most of them close the surface were small and I did not get stung. A few things I learned from the swim:

1. The water isn’t as cold as I thought, but the wetsuit is good.
2. Salt water doesn’t taste so good and the taste stays in your mouth most of the day
3. If you tend to get seasick, an ocean swim is not for you (at times my body felt like it was in a washing machine)
4. 1.2 miles in the ocean feels like a lot further than 1.2 miles in the lake
5. It’s hard to spot the buoys when the waves get in the way
6. It’s nice when your feet hit the beach again

And I have to do two loops? I’ve got a lot of work to do.

After cleaning up from the swim, a couple of us headed out to drive the bike course. I had heard it was flat, but wanted to see for myself. And for the most part, it IS flat. Especially compared to what I’m use to riding on. But, there is one overpass that creates a fairly steep hill early on that is also toward the very end of the course. Will need to save some legs for that. And one of the long stretches has quite a few rollers and false flats. But, as far as Ironman bike courses go, it’s the flattest there is.

After that, it was off to the volunteer meeting and then to a pizza joint for a dinner with a few other BTers. It was nice to meet them, especially since most of them will be signing up for next year as well.

Ironman Florida 2009 Race Day Observations

Race day morning I got up early. I wanted to be at the swim start to see everyone hit the water. And wow!!!! What an experience that is. The water at the shore is quite shallow, so there is a lot of “walking into the water” at the first part of the swim. And in most races, everyone is going as fast as they can. Not here. In fact, some were purposefully holding back so they wouldn’t get caught up in the washing machine effect of waves and 2400 swimmers. The pros finished their first lap in just under 30 minutes. Simply amazing.

As the lead pro got close to finishing his second lap, I moved over to the swim exit. It was fun watching them come out of the water and even more fun to watch the wet suit strippers do their job. I stayed here for a bit before heading up to watch the transition area. From where I was standing, I could see the swimmers head into T1 and then saw them again as they headed out to get their bikes. I saw a couple of BT racers and cheered for them. I also stayed until the last swimmer came out of the water. Some of the last ones looked pretty beat up from the rough water.

It was interesting to watch the people though. All shapes and sizes of bodies, and all ages, too. A couple of athletes had prosthetic legs. It was also interesting to see what people were wearing. I was taking notes for next year. I definitely think arm warmers will be in my T1 bag. And I may have to get a bright colored outfit so my spectators can find me easier.

From there, it was back to the room for some food and rest before heading back out in the afternoon to watch the cyclists come in off the bikes.

About 3:00 we went out right in front of the condo to watch the cyclists come in. Our condo was less than half a mile from the finish, so when we saw the cyclists, they were pretty much done with that part of the race. I saw a couple of BTers and cheered them on. Some cyclists were taking their feet out of their shoes already, but most were just stretching things out and getting ready for the run.

After a quick bite to eat, I headed down to the finish line. I stood at the run turnaround and run finish area for a while. Most runners looked strong. Only a few were walking. Then just a little before 5pm, I headed over to check in for my volunteer duty as a finish line catcher. I got my shirt and wristband (which I needed this morning to get in the volunteer line to sign up), put some gloves on and went to work.

As each runner came across the finish line, a catcher would walk to the athlete and ask them if they were ok. Most were, but a few nearly collapsed and had to really be caught. Then we would walk them through the chute to get their mylar blanket, medal, finisher shirt and hat, and have their chip removed from their leg. If they were still ok at this point, we let them go on their own. If not, we walked them to the medical tent or massage tent or wherever they needed us to walk with them.

I did have to “catch” a couple of people and I did have to take a couple to medical. One guy just wanted an IV so he wouldn’t be so bad off today. I also caught an 18 year old who finished his first Ironman (and probably in less time than I will), a guy who crashed on his bike at mile 56 but still completed the race, a guy who said this was his first triathlon (not just first Ironman, but first triathlon), and a guy from beginnertriathlete. Let me just say that if you ever “catch” at the finish line, make sure to wear rubbers gloves and a long sleeve shirt. Trust me on that one. After 140.6 miles, some people are pretty darn sweaty.

I was only signed up to catch from 6-9, but ended up staying until 10:30 because at times there didn’t seem to be enough catchers. From there I headed to the bleachers (so I could at least sit for a bit) and watched the finishers come in until the clock hit 17 hours at midnight. The last official finisher came in with about 35 seconds left on the clock. What an amazing finish.

Then, after a short night of sleep, I was up early this morning to go stand in line to register for next year’s race. Registration was posted as starting at 9am. I got there a little before 7am and was probably 200-250 people back. I’d be curious to see what time the first person in line got there. Luckily, they opened registration early and I was in and out before 9.

And so it begins. I won’t officially start Ironman training until sometime in April, but I will start swimming and biking again as soon as the San Antonio marathon is over next weekend. I’ll work on my base over the winter before getting into specific training in the spring. Should be a fun year!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A New 5K PR - The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

This morning I woke up early and headed up to the church to meet some other members so we could all head out to the Race for the Cure together. I have done the race every year for the last 10 years and wasn't going to miss it this year, even though I just did a marathon last week.

As usual, I signed up for the chip timing division with the intent on running it as fast as I could. I figured if I blew up early I could just jog the rest of the way. After all, my legs are still recovering from the marathon, right? Guess they are recovered.

Temps were in the 50s so I wore shorts and a sports bra tank top. I had a long sleeve top on over that, but took it off 15 minutes before the start and handed it to my parents. I lined up close to the front and when the horn sounded, I took off, weaving in between people to get to a good spot where it wasn't so crowded. I finally found some space and just kept going.

As I got to the marker for Mile 1, I hit my split button. 7:34. Uh oh. Better slow down some. I've NEVER run a mile that fast in a race and I knew I couldn't hold that pace the rest of the way.

Mile 2 came with a split of 8:01. I didn't want to start thinking about what it would take to PR at this point. I knew I just had a mile to go and wanted to see what I could do. It helped when I passed a water stopped that was manned with many of my Team in Training buddies and they all cheered for me as I passed. That gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.

As I rounded the corner to the end I saw the Mile 3 marker and the finish line. I hit the split at mile 3 for a 8:19 split. Then I saw the clock. I had a little bit of time to make it under 25 minutes. If I could do that, I could set a new PR, so I turned up the speed.

Final time: 24:42! A new PR for me.
Class position: 13
Overall: 274
Average Pace: 7:55/m WAHOO!!!!

I don't know how many people were registered for the chip timing, but I feel really good about my race and about setting a PR, especially coming off a marathon. It feels good to finally get the 5K time down.

After I finished I got some water and then headed a little ways back on the course so that I could wait for my mom and dad to come through. Then we walked through the booths picking up free samples (got lots of free Lara Bar samples -- YUM) before heading home. What a great day for a race.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

D.C. continued and the Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Saturday morning we got up early to get a head start on the day. The plan was to see a few museums, have lunch with a high school classmate of mine who now lives in D.C. and then head back to the room to relax the rest of the day.

We started out by visiting the Native American Indian museum. While it was nice, we did a quick tour and headed to the Air and Space museum. We spent a little more time in there checking out some neat things. And of course, we had to experience the flight simulator. Brandi got to be the pilot and I was the gunman. Well, no one really showed us what to do. We were just told that the "red cone" needed to be at the top of the screen. When we got inside the simulator, Brandi put the red cone at the top of the screen and upside down we went. That got us both cracking up laughing. We had no idea what we were doing, so Brandi just kept spinning us round and round and I just kept pulling the trigger to shoot. I'm not sure how long we were actually in that thing, but I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. From there, we headed over to the Holocaust museum and walked through an exhibit called Danny's Story. It was very emotional. We walked through a little bit of the rest of the museum and then it was time to go. If I ever get back to D.C., I will spend more time there.

My friend and his roommate picked us up just in front of the Washington Monument and took us to eat at a nice little Mexican restaurant. Seemed kind of strange being from Texas to eat Mexican food in D.C., but I had the veggie fajitas and they were really good. I think the food was good, but unfortunately the service wasn't so great. They messed up one of the orders, sent it back, messed it up again, and eventually got it ready in a to-go box and comped that meal. Anyway, by then it started raining hard, so they we asked them to drive us straight back to the hotel. We took a little nap and then ordered some pasta that took forever to be delivered. After eating, it was time for bed.

MARINE CORPS MARATHON
Sunday morning we woke up early and got ready for the race. We had called for a taxi to take us to Union Station where we would then catch the metro to the Pentagon, which is where the runner's village was. Race morning was cold, but I knew that it would warm up as the day went on. I dressed in shorts, my long sleeve underarmour, and my race singlet. I had warm ups to put in my checked bag and a trash bag to keep me warm at the start until we started moving.
When we got to the village, we hit the port-o-potty and then gathered under a big tent to try and stay warm. Under the tent there was a Christian band and a minister conducting a non-denominational church service. That was pretty cool. We stayed there for a little longer and then headed over to drop off our bags. I waited as long as I could before shedding the sweats. It was COLD. I put my trash bag on (laugh all you want - I was warm) and we headed for the start line.
The national anthem was sung, we had a flyover by some kind of helicopter/jet, and then the cannon went off. The race was on.
When I signed up for this race back in April, I had planned on this being the only marathon of the year. I was planning on doing it step for step with my friend Brandi. However, in July Brandi had a back procedure that left her unable to train for the whole month of July and unable to really train properly at all. She had decided she would not wear her chip and she would just cut the course to meet me at certain points along the way. However, before we dropped our bags off this morning, she decided to see what she could do. She asked me to stay with her for a while to see how she felt and then she would tell me to go ahead.
So, when the race started we had decided to do a 3/1 run/walk combo. I knew going in this wouldn't be my fasted marathon, so what the heck. We started off at a fairly slow pace doing the 3/1 and it actually seemed to make the miles go by faster. The real "hills" of this race are in the first 6-7 miles, so it was actually nice to have the walk breaks. Here are the splits for the start:
Mile 1: 11:41
Mile 2: 12:36
Mile 3: 11:43
Mile 4: 11:46
Mile 5: 12:14
Mile 6: 11:39
Around this point I had to use the restroom. I NEVER have to do that during a race, but I guess since I wasn't sweating as much as normal, I had to go. I told Brandi I would run ahead to a port-o-potty and then if she passed me I would catch up with her. As I turned the corner to go ahead, I faced one of the hills of the race. Not a big hill compared to what I am use to, but big enough that I didn't get a huge lead on her. I found the port-o-potty and got in line. I spent five minutes in line, but made it up catching Brandi.
Mile 7: 17:09
Mile 8: 9:33
We settled back into our 3/1.
Mile 9: 11:58
Mile 10: 12:11
Mile 11: 11:05
At this point Brandi needed to walk. She told me to go on and run the rest at my pace. After being sure she was ok, I took off.
Mile 12: 10:02
Mile 13: 10:06
When I crossed the half marathon point and looked at my garmin I saw the half split of 2:35:16. I figured if I could do the second half just a little faster, I could break 5 hours. That became my new goal.
Mile 14: 10:24
Mile 15: 10:41
Mile 16: 10:38
Mile 17: 10:29
Mile 18: 10:59
Mile 19: 10:19
At this point, my left knee started to hurt a little due to either a tight lateral quad muscle (like has happened before) or IT band. I pulled over to stretch a bit and then continued on.
Mile 20: 11:24
Mile 21: 10:09
Mile 22: 11:06
At this point, we were on an out and back. I hate out and backs in marathons, especially at this late in the race. They get me mentally. From mile 22 to mile 23 felt like the longest mile EVER. But I finally got to 23.
Mile 23: 11:02
Mile 24: 10:50
Mile 25: 11:09
At this point I knew I would break 5 hours, but I made myself continue running. And let me tell you, that last .2 is not fun. It's a short but steep hill but I kept going. No walking for me at this point.
The last 1.2 miles was done in 13:08
Final results: 4:56:06
I couldn't believe it. As slow as I went in the beginning, and I run my 4th fastest marathon, just 12 minutes slower than my PR. Hmmmm. But that tells me that if I pace myself right in San Antonio in 3 weeks, then I may just be able to come up with a new PR.
Thoughts from the race.....
This was a good race and I'm glad I did it, but I doubt it will be one I go back to do. Ultimately, I'd like to do a marathon in all 50 states, so unless one is just OUTSTANDING I probably won't do it again. The course was good and for the most part flat. I got emotional reading the backs of peoples shirts. Lots of people were out there running in memory of a military person who had died in combat and when I saw the date-of-birth to date-of-death, I saw that most of those people were younger than me when they died. I am very thankful for their service to our country. And I liked having the marines at the water stations and at points along the course cheering us on and encouraging us. The best part of that is that when you finish the race, you get in line and a marine congratulates you and puts the medal around your neck. I almost cried when "my" marine put my medal on. Here he was thanking me for doing the race. Nope. Thank YOU for your service.
I got a little confused after that about which way I needed to go to collect my bag. I had gotten hot around mile 11 and taken off my under armour top and was now cold and wanted my sweats. I also wanted to get out of my tennis shoes. The other thing is that it took a while before you got to the post race drinks and food and I really needed it right away. Once I got it, I sat down to refuel for a bit and then got my bag and got warm. I waited for Brandi (who did manage to do the whole thing) and then we bought our finisher shirt before standing in the LONG line to catch the metro back.
When we got back to Union Station we decided to go ahead and eat dinner so we wouldn't have to get back out later. And when we got back to the hotel, we headed straight for the pool to soak our legs. Then it was back to the room for a shower and relaxation. One of the things I got suckered into buying at the expo was some compression socks. They seem to be all the rage now and lots of people claim they work, so I decided to give them a try. I put them on after my shower and kept them on until bed time. Whether it was the pool, the fact that I didn't push myself the first 10 miles, or the compression socks, my legs did feel better Monday morning than they usually do after a marathon. I wore the socks home on the plane and kept them on until about 9:30 Monday night. I'm almost back to normal today.
Overall, it was a great race and I'm glad we did it. But now it's time to look ahead. I've got the Race for the Cure 5k this Sunday and then the San Antonio Marathon November 15th.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Update from D.C.

Thursday afternoon we landed in D.C. and began our adventure. We caught a bus from the airport to our hotel and then bought a metro pass, which we then took to Union Station. From Union Station, we caught the hotel bus to the hotel to check in. Once we got settled in we ventured back out and headed to the zoo. I think this was the first zoo I've ever been to that I didn't have to pay to get in. Several of the exhibits were closed and at a few, the animals were inside, but we did have a good time and got to see some neat animals.

The metro has been an experience, but it has been pretty easy to figure out. When we got off one, the escalator to street level was llllllooooonnnnggggg. So long in fact that we got our cameras out to get a picture of it. And that's when it happened. My camera went bezerk on me and would not work. Ugghhh.

After the zoo we went to a little corner grocery store to get some water and a few snacks for the room. Then we ate some dinner and headed back to the room. We tried to look online to see how to fix my camera, but with not much luck. After watching our Thursday night shows, we went to bed.

Friday morning when I woke up I called the customer service for my camera. I learned it was a lense issue and there is probably sand in the lens from our Cozumel trip this summer. Unfortunatley, to fix it I will have to send the camera in and pay at least $75. I have to have a camera for Sunday, so our days plans included a stop at Best Buy. But first, a stop at the expo.

The expo was a good expo with lots of cool merchandise. Too much cool merchandise in fact. I had to get some. After a couple of hours at the expo we headed to Best Buy where we found a good sales rep and I got my new camera. Then we headed back to Union Square and decided to walk to the Capital and around the monuments close by. Then we headed back to Union Square, did a little souvenier shopping, ate dinner, and headed back to the hotel.

We'll see what tomorrow holds....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Ready To Head To D.C.

Well, the time is almost here to head off to Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. I leave Thursday morning with my friend Brandi.

Back in April when we signed up for this race, my plan was for this to probably be my only marathon of the year. Brandi and I agreed we would do the race together and get some good pictures along the course as we pass some of the monuments D.C. has to offer. But in July, Brandi had a back procedure that left her unable to train for a while and unable to train properly all season. I was training with the team and my times were getting faster. Knowing that Marine Corp will be slow, I signed up for the San Antonio marathon as well.

So, as Brandi and I head out, our plan is to do some of the race together and to have her cut the course at times to catch back up with me. She will not wear her chip, nor will she take a medal at the end, but she will at least get to do some of the course with me. I'm looking at it as a training run and then will come back and prepare for San Antonio.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Temps, Long Runs, and Back in the Pool

Here in Texas, we usually don't see fall temperatures. We go straight from summer to "winter". Note that I use the term "winter" lightly. However, this year was a nice surprise. After a really hot summer accompanied by a drastic drought, the first day of fall brought us rain and 60 degree temps. Nice!! That continued for 3-4 days before we got back in the 80s. It was nice while it lasted.

And at least the temps have been nice in the mornings. Because this last Saturday, I had a 20 mile run. We started at 6am with temps in the 60s and it felt good. We got lucky and kept the cooler temps for most of the run. I felt great until about mile 15. Then my IT band gave me a few fits and made my knee hurt for a while. Our options for the day were 18, 20, or 22 miles. Everyone went through the 18 mile aid station which was at the start/finish. I had decided when I started that when I got to that point I would decide if I was doing 2 or 4 more. When I got to 18, I told myself to keep going for at least 2 miles and if I had to walk some of it, well, so be it. So off I went. I ended up with 20 miles and was happy with my time/pace.

Sunday I decided to go swim as a recovery workout. I've got some big plans next year and part of that includes getting more efficient and faster at swimming. I've signed up for a swim clinic taught by Team in Training tri coaches and need to practice in between classes, so a swim on Sunday was perfect. I went swimming again Monday and was actually given a compliment on my form by the life guard that was on duty at that time. Now if only I can get faster!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Lot Of Catching Up To Do

Two weeks goes by fast when you are busy. The start of school, volleyball practice, soccer practice, tournaments, training.....it all takes time.

Labor Day weekend was a backdown weekend as far as training. We had a 10 miler, which I did on my own the Friday night before the long weekend so that I could be at Dalton's soccer tournament all weekend. Saturday and Sunday morning's game were both at 7:30. Did anyone bother to tell them this was a holiday weekend which is suppose to mean sleeping late? Guess not.

I did manage to sleep in a little on Labor Day and then headed out for a nice 6 mile run. The temps have actually cooled off a tad bit in the mornings now, so it's not quite so bad. Afternoons are still brutal, however.

And then the lovely events of this past week derailed me a bit. After the long weekend, the kids returned to school and I returned to work. Only to get a call Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 from Madison asking me to come pick her up from school because she wasn't feeling good. I managed to get my run in as we decided to wait until Wednesday to take her to the doctor.

On my way home from work Wednesday, I started to not feel so good. I decided to take a rest day in hopes that I would feel better and be back to myself on Thursday. It didn't happen. Madison and I have both been home sick. She missed her first school volleyball game and will miss the first tournament this weekend, and I will miss my much needed 20 mile run this weekend. Luckily the coach we have this season has lots of long runs in our plan (I've already done a 16 and two 18 mile runs). We have a 22 miler in two weeks. It just stinks.

Oh, and something else that stinks - cancer. Ok, maybe it doesn't stink. It flat out sucks. All kinds. In all people. No one deserves cancer. If or when you can, please support the cause to fight cancer. Any kind.

And because you may or may not know it, I will tell you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Most people think cancer only happens to adults. They are very wrong. Way too many kids get cancer and not near enough research dollars go toward fighting childhood cancer. And that's just wrong.

Ok, I'll get off my soap box now.

Today is also a day we need to remember all of men and women who serve our country and help protect our freedoms. Thank you for all you do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a Difference a Week Makes

We've been ramping up our mileage in preparation for the fall marathon season. Last Saturday (22nd) and this Saturday (29th) were both scheduled to be 18 mile runs. The first was suppose to be at our long slow pace. The second was suppose to include some marathon goal pace in there. I just really wanted to get them both done at any pace, really!

All season long there have been two other women that I run the long runs with. There are times when I might be a tiny bit faster and times when I might be a tiny bit slower. I'm ok with that on both counts.

On the 22nd, we started our run. The route was more or less an out-and-back with a 2 mile loop at the end for those doing 18 miles. We started out and I could tell right off that the humidity was going to get me. Since we were using the local trail (which also happens to have water along it) we wouldn't have our first "manned" aid station until around mile 5. When we got there, I looked at my watch and knew we had taken off a little fast. Then we hit the hilly part. And were still a little fast. I knew it would be bad. By the time we got to mile 13 I knew it wasn't my day. My knee was starting to hurt (tight lateral quad) and I was just mentally done. But, I knew I had to finish and get the miles in. So off I went doing a run/walk combo that became mostly a walk. By the time I hit the final two mile loop I couldn't see anyone in front of or behind me and I was in a part of town I didn't like being in by myself. So, I cut over and headed back. I ended up at 17.68 miles in 3:13:10.

This Saturday, the 29th seemed much easier. For one thing, the weather was a TINY bit cooler and it was definitely less humid. This week's route was a 4 mile loop. We would run it 4 times and then do a 2 mile loop to get in 18. The first lap was to be a warm up lap done slow. The next 2.5 laps at marathon goal pace, and the last 1/2 lap plus 2 mile loop as a cool down. As we took off, I had to remind the ladies this was a "warm up". I tried to keep the pace between 10:15 and 10:30. Once we finished that first lap, we took off for the rest. We did pretty good at maintaining around 9:30 for the next couple of laps and decided to maintain it for all three of the final laps. We would cool down on the 2 mile loop. When all was said and done and I looked at my Garmin, it read 18.69 miles in 3:07:33! I'll take it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School

I know I've been bad about updating my blog lately. I'll try to get better again. I've been busy with training. This month already I've run over 90 miles. It could be my highest mileage month ever.

The other thing that has kept me busy is that school started back today. I now have two kids in middle school. Dalton is in 6th grade and Madison is in 8th grade. Luckily, they both had a great first day and both really like their teachers. Let's hope it's a good year!




Sunday, August 9, 2009

Where Has The Summer Gone?

I can't believe there are only two weeks of summer left before the kids go back to school. I know that in some parts of the country they've already started back. It seems like the summer has flown by.

In running news, we are into the longer runs for our training for the fall marathons. I ran 14 miles a week ago and ran 16 this past Saturday. I've felt really well during the runs and have been running faster than in the past, so that's a good thing. We're scheduled for 18 this coming weekend.

And while some of my teammates are complaining of aches and pains, I think the thing that helps me is that I never get to go home after a long run and take a nap. I'm always off to a soccer game or something that one of the kids has going on. The fact that I keep moving all day helps keep me loose and keeps me from feeling sore. Although I could really use that nap.

I do have to say, however, that I am very proud of Madison. She decided that she wanted to tryout for a club volleyball team this year. Tryouts were today and she earned a spot. Practices won't start until November and the tournaments will all be in the spring. Hopefully her volleyball and Dalton's soccer will be on different weekends, but we'll see. It should be crazy, but fun.

It never ends around here!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Junior High Mission Trip

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being an adult sponsor on the junior high mission trip with our church. Four adult sponsors, 1 high school youth for music, and 12 junior high kids ready to work headed off to East Bernard, Texas, to help out folks in need. This was my first time on a mission trip and I had a great time.

We left on a Thursday afternoon. Since we would each have a work group once we got there, I ended up driving my own car. I got lucky, though, and got two girls to ride with me. They slept most of the way and we talked the rest of the way.














Our church was the first church to arrive, so we claimed a room and set out to arrange our air mattresses the best way we could so that we would still have a path to walk in. We thought we had done good and were totally full, but when the other churches arrived we had to squeeze two more people in with us. Yikes! It was packed.














Thursday night we met our group, ate dinner and got to hear about what we would be doing the next two days. My group was assigned to the "big house" and we would be scraping paint off the house and then repainting it. After sending the kids to bed, the sponsors met briefly and then we were off to bed.

Friday morning we woke up at 7:00am, ate breakfast, did the chores assigned to our group, made our lunches, loaded our coolers and headed off to the house. Upon arrival at the house we looked for any dangers the kids should be aware of and then got to work. Scraping paint with small paint scrapers is not easy. Luckily we had some hard workers in the group and it went well. We broke for lunch and the safety people came by with misters and popsicles for us. Yum! Then it was back to work. We managed to get most of the house done before leaving for the day.














Since we were staying at the church and there were 80-90 of us total, we showered at the local gym. We gathered our clothes and headed off. I haven't showered in a gym locker room in a long time! Then it was back to the church for dinner and games. It rained Friday night, so our swimming activity was delayed, but we finally made it to the pool and the kids got to swim for at least a little while. Then it was back to the church for worship and bed.

Saturday morning was a repeat of Friday morning. Only this time we were joined by more of the groups at the house. After all, we had to finish scraping and get to painting. Each group took a portion of the house. It's amazing that so many kids could work so well together. They did get a little paint on each other, but what do you expect with a bunch of junior high kids? By the end of the day, the majority of the house was painted. There was still a small area on the back of the house that needed to get done, but one of the leaders offered to come back the next weekend and finish up. The kids should be proud of their work.














Saturday night brought rain again, but it didn't seem to phase the kids at all. They got along well and enjoyed playing games with each other in the fellowship hall until time for dinner and sharing. After that we had a surprise activity. We were told we were having a duct tape ball! Yep. You read that right. We (sponsors included) were each given a plastic table cloth and a roll of duct tape. We had about 20 minutes to create an outfit (worn over regular clothes) to wear to the ball. Some of the kids are pretty darn creative! The ball was a lot of fun.














Sunday morning we woke up, packed, loaded the cars, ate breakfast, and then went to services at the church where we were staying. Several of the kids made comments about how good the sermon was, so that was nice. After service we headed home.

It was a short mission trip but we got a lot accomplished and had a lot of fun. Plus, it was nice to be there with Madison.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Lot of Catching Up To Do

Wow! It's been a while, hasn't it? So, what have I been up to since I got back from Tahoe? Let me tell you.

After I got home from Tahoe, I jumped right into my marathon training. I will be doing the Marine Corp Marathon in October and the San Antonio Marathon in November. I'm a captain for this season's Team in Training run team, so I'll be doing most of my running, including track practices, with them. The Saturday after Tahoe I ran 8 miles!
We also had a lot of volleyball going on with Madison. Games for a summer league on Tuesday nights; games for the church league on Thursday night; and clinics given by a club on Saturday nights. She also went to volleyball camp at the high school for a week.

The next big event was haircut time. Madison had asked to get her hair darkened some and she did, but the dye didn't really take on her hair and it didn't really look all that different. Dalton on
the other hand came out looking very different.













































Then on June 21st, I participated in the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon for the third straight year in a row. I wasn't sure how I would do considering I had only swam twice all year. I knew my bike would be strong coming off of Tahoe and I knew the run would be ok. Turned out I beat my best time by 2 minutes, coming in at 1:27:19 and coming in 6th place in my age group. Maybe I should not swim more often? No, it makes me wonder what I might have done if my swim was better. I passed lots of people on the bike, but got passed by two people in my age group on the run. Oh well, there is always next year.













































Then later that afternoon, we took Dalton to a residential soccer camp with the Austin Aztex. He was there through Thursday afternoon and had a lot of fun.

And finally, on July 1st, we drove to New Orleans. We went to eat dinner and took the kids for a culture shock walk down Bourbon street (although it was still relatively early so not too bad).
When we got back to the hotel Madison went for a swim in the rooftop pool and then we went to bed. Thursday morning when we woke up we headed to the Cafe Du Monde for breakfast and then caught a taxi over to the port where we got on board the Carnival Fantasy for a 4 day cruise to Cozumel and back.










I did manage to get in a couple of runs on the sea days, but after that I enjoyed the day by lounging in a chair on the deck. The day we were in Cozumel was absolutely fantastic as I found a beach that only allows 100 people in and it's all inclusive. The day we were there, I bet there were no more than 25 people all day. And the guacamole and hot sauce are AWESOME! Not to mention the drinks. Madison probably had 7 virgin drinks that day! We did just a little bit of shopping before getting back on board.
And on our last sea day, I had to race Dalton down the slides. What fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride 2009

Once again, the ride lived up to it's name, but barely (thanks to the weather).

Sorry it has taken me so long to get an update done, but I stayed an extra day in Tahoe, arriving back home Tuesday evening in time to go straight from the airport to Madison's volleyball game. Wednesday I spent unpacking and getting into bed early. And last night I was going to update, but a huge storm blew through our area with tons of lighting and a couple of tornadoes. There was no way I was getting on the computer during that. So here I am tonight.

Friday, June 5th, I woke up and instead of getting ready for work I got ready to head to the airport. My parents picked me up and drove me to the airport so I wouldn't have to pay for parking while I was gone. I got there early, but shortly after I arrived other teammates started arriving as well. There were about 35 of us on the flight out and once we were in the air, the flight attendant made an announcement about what we were heading out to Tahoe for. We got lots of applause on the plane. We flew from Austin to San Diego where we had a short (and I do mean short) layover. We got off the plane at one gate, walked to the next gate, and walked right back onto another plane. I'm just glad we made it.

Once we landed in Reno, we gathered our luggage and got on the shuttle bus that would take us to Tahoe. With the time difference, most of us were hungry and several HAD to stop at In-and-Out Burger. Since I'm a vegetarian, I had french fries. Some of my teammates more than made up for what I didn't eat. I guess they figured they were getting ready to burn a bunch of calories, so who cared.

Once we made it to the hotel I checked in and took my things to my room and then we all had to meet in the lobby to go get our bikes off the truck. I got my bike and when I got back to the room I unwrapped it, got the pedals on and aired up the tires so that it would be ready for Saturday morning's ride. Then it was off to the grocery store to stock up on things I would need for the weekend.

Friday night our whole crew went to eat at the Lake Tahoe Pizza Company. Last year when we ate there we had two tables full. This year, we had the whole room full of people. Lots of our teammates had brought family members with them this year. It was amazing to see the team go to work in helping the servers make sure everyone had what they needed.
















After dinner it was back the room and to bed so that I could be rested for Saturday morning's ride which was scheduled for 7:00 am.

Saturday morning I woke up early so that I could eat my oatmeal and get ready to ride. When I looked out the window, the ground looked wet. This did not make me happy. Then a teammate came to my room and let me know that the ride had been postponed due to the wet streets. The coach wanted to see if the sun would come out and dry things up. I wanted to crawl back in bed for a little longer, but knew if I did I would never get back up. When it got close to 8:00, we headed downstairs and met our teammates. And boy was it cold. And it was still overcast.









We headed out for a 20 mile ride. The wet streets made me nervous, but I tried to stay with the front group for as long as I could for two reasons. 1) I didn't know where I was going and I knew they did; and 2) I was freezing and needed to warm up. I stayed with them for a good while, but then I dropped my chain and had to stop to fix it. Got it fixed and just took off trying to catch them. I never did, but I came close and I stayed warm. Toward the end of the ride the rain started coming. It wasn't real hard, but it was steady. At that point I didn't care if it rained all day Saturday as long as it didn't rain on Sunday during the ride. As soon as I was done I headed to the room for a hot shower.

The next stop was the packet pick-up. We got our ride numbers, sticker for the helmet and wristband that we needed to have on us during the ride. We also got shirts and water bottles and I have to say I like this year's shirt much better than last year. Some of our teammates were selling merchandise so we hung around for a little bit and then all went to eat at a place called Freshies. I really liked it because they served a lot of vegetarian food. I had a wonderful veggie burger and fries. Yummmm!

After lunch we went back to the room and really just hung out and relaxed for the rest of the day until it was time to get ready for the inspiration dinner. Our team had all tie-dyed t-shirts to wear to the dinner so I put that on and we headed to the party. At this point, it was still raining. It had been raining all day.

The dinner was the typical dinner, but the best part for our team is that one of our teammates gave the speech. Mike is a survivor of AML. He was diagnosed when he was young and ended up having two bone marrow transplants. The cool thing is that his bone marrow donor was with him and would be doing the ride with him Sunday. How cool is that? And who knew how funny Mike could be. He had us all laughing and crying. I think public speaking is what he should be doing! Overall this year, TNT raised $6.8 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Go Team!














After the dinner we all headed back to one of our teammate's room for the team meeting. Coach went over the course and where our very own Central Texas sag stops would be so we would know where to watch for them. We put our Texas flags on our helmets and then said good night. We had a long day ahead of us.


Sunday morning I woke up EARLY. Our ride out time was 6:05 am and the coach wanted us downstairs at 5:30. The question of the day was how to dress. It was cold and was still overcast early (but no rain at this point thank goodness). I finally figured out what I wanted to wear and headed downstairs to meet the rest of the team. We got in our riding groups and headed over to the start. And at 6:05, we were off.

I was riding in a group of about 7 riders at first, but we knew we would lose a couple. Patrick, Shelly, Mike, Steve (the bone marrow donor) and I were the group that we knew would stay together throughout the ride. We knew the switchbacks at mile 12 may break us up a bit due to the climbing, but we knew we would regroup after that. For me, the switchbacks didn't seem as hard as they did last year and when I got to the top, I got on the inside, looked right at the photographer and smiled. I wanted a good picture. Then we enjoyed the downhills a little bit. We also stopped for a group picture before continuing on to our first sag stop.
















Once we were at the first stop we had to wait a bit. One of our riders was having some issues with his bike, so Patrick had stopped to help. We waited until Patrick got caught up to us and then took off again. By this point the sun was starting to come out and it was a welcome sight. I can't tell you how much I enjoy riding with the group of riders I have ridden with all season. It made the ride go by so much faster and easier than last year. The next thing I knew, it was time to get on the bike path out to Truckee. It wasn't crowded when we got on it, but it did get congested at times. Once we got off the bike path and back on the roads we took off. We had a bit of a tailwind and were doing 22-24 mph easily. We stopped at our second sag stop to refill drinks and grab some food and then headed back in. At this point we had lost Mike and Steve, but we knew they would catch up to us or we would wait for them at King's Beach when we stopped for lunch.

King's Beach was a welcome sight. I was ready for a short break by then and I was hungry for more than gummy bears and Lara Bars. I grabbed a veggie sandwich and some chips and sat down for a few minutes to eat. I also put rewetting drops in my eyes because at this point my contacts were so dried out from the wind I could barely see. The same thing happened last year so I was prepared this time. Mike and Steve did catch up to us at this point and after all had eaten, we headed out again for the last 30 miles and the long, tough climb up to Spooner Junction.

When we got to the bottom of the Spooner climb, I settled in to my nice, slow pace and just pedaled away. I knew there would be no fast speeds on the climb, but I did pass several people. At one point I told myself, "just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling". Toward the top of Spooner I got passed by some of our faster teammates who had stopped for another teammate to fix a flat. But every time one of them passed me, it gave me the inspiration to keep on going. I knew I would soon be at the top. And then next thing I knew, we WERE at the top and we were at the rest stop.

















The special thing about our team is that we use the rest stop at the top of Spooner to stop and wait for all of our teammates to get there before we head to the finish line. And when I say all of our teammates, I mean ALL of out teammates, regardless of how long it takes. And this year it took a while. Several of my teammates had a beer (or two) and we all stretched and relaxed. At one point someone thought I was asleep on the ground.















When our last teammate arrived it was time to head out again and enjoy the next few miles of downhill! We had made a plan to meet up one last time a couple of miles from the finish line so we could all ride in together. At this point we put all the survivors and Steve up front and then all of our "triple crowners" next. A person who gets their "triple crown" is someone who has fundraised for and completed a marathon, triathlon and century ride with TNT. We had five teammates who achieved this status after completing this ride.

I can't explain to you the feeling of riding in across the finish line with a team of 35 people who have become close friends throughout the season. And to see our survivors leading us in - wow!!!

Once we were done, we checked in at the TNT tent, bought our pictures and then noticed the black cloud in the sky. Time to head back to the room and get ready for the victory party.


The victory party was fun. Although there is no "formal" speaker, Mike got up on stage again and gave a recap of the ride before "getting the party started". And once he got the party started, the dance floor was packed. He even requested the cotton-eyed-joe for us Texans. I stayed for a little while and helped my birthday buddy Jenny celebrate her birthday and then headed back to the room. We had gotten lucky with the weather and had a great ride on a great day.














Monday morning came earlier than I wanted, but the good news for me is that all I needed to take care of was getting my bike back on the truck. I had wrapped it up Sunday night after getting back from the victory party so it was ready to go. We took it down to the truck and saw our teammates off. Then those of us who were staying extra days headed to a local restaurant for breakfast. After that it was time to try to take a nap. I say try, because in the time I was trying to nap my phone rang three times. There goes that idea. Then I was going to go do some shopping when I got the call that it was time to go swimming - in Lake Tahoe.




















There are several of us on the team who have done triathlons and have wetsuits. Since Patrick had driven to Tahoe, we had all sent our wetsuits with him so that we could swim. And that's just what we did. There were four of us with wetsuits and one who braved the cold water without. I didn't think I would make it because I HATE cold water, even with a wetsuit. After I did the Nike Women's Marathon I had put my feet in the ocean and they went numb, so I thought I'd have a problem here. But, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I actually stayed in the water for 15-20 minutes. I can definitely tell that I need to get back to swimming, though. Yikes! My swim fitness is not where it needs to be considering I have a triathlon coming up soon.

After swimming, I finally got in a little shopping so I would have something to bring home for the kids. Then while I was packing, it started raining and hailing. I told you, we got lucky with the weather. And then one of my awesome teammates fixed dinner for those of us who were still there and wanted to come have fun together. We ate, drank, and enjoyed each other's company until late, late, late! Then it was time for bed and my time in Tahoe was almost up.

I got up early Tuesday morning and headed back to the airport for my flight home. Once I was home, my parents picked me up again and took me to Madison's volleyball game. I was exhausted from another great trip and another wonderful America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting Ready for Tahoe!!!

One year ago today I was riding my bike around Lake Tahoe for the first time. Now, I'm getting ready to do it again.

This past weekend we had our last group ride here before shipping our bikes to Tahoe. We met at a teammate's house and did the ride from there, getting in just under 30 miles. After the ride we had lunch together, tie-dyed shirts for the pasta party, and then got our last minute instructions for event weekend. We had a really good turnout and a really good time.

Sunday was a busy day for us, but Sunday evening was spent getting the bike ready for shipping because this morning, the bikes went on the truck. It's kind of exciting to see the bikes go. It really hits home that the event is almost here. Some of our first timers had that look in their eyes like "I can't believe it's here". Well, it is.

I will work through Wednesday. I took Thursday off as it's the last day of school for the kids and Dalton will have 5th grade graduation Thursday morning. There's no way I can miss that. Thursday afternoon he will be "kidnapped" by our youth sponsor and some youth from the church and will be officially welcomed into youth group.

Friday morning it's off to the airport to catch my plane to Tahoe. I'm on the same flight as most of the team so it should be a fun flight. I just need to figure out what to pack between now and then. The forecasted temps are about where I thought they would be (lows in the 40s, highs in the 60s), but there is also a chance of rain on ride day. I'm not looking forward to that possibility, so I'm praying for the best.

A couple of my teammates will have laptops in Tahoe, so if I can I'll get on a do a quick update to let you know what's going on. Otherwise, you can expect a long report when I get home.

GO TEAM!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Great Weekend

Last week was a busy week with soccer, choir concerts, more soccer and just end of the school year stuff. The kids have 8 days left of school and are anxiously counting down.

Saturday my TNT cycling team had our last long ride before Tahoe. And boy was it a tough one. The ride was out in Blanco and we started at 7:00. Because of that, I spent the night with one of my teammates who lives only 30 minutes from Blanco. She also hosted a pasta dinner Friday night for anyone who wanted to come and we had a decent turnout. It all made Saturday morning much more tolerable.

Most of the team was able to make it out for the ride, so we had lots of riders. We started off in 3 big groups, but the ride is FULL of hills, so once we started hitting those, the groups divided out a little more. I settled in with the same group of riders I've ridden with most of the season. We ride really well together - same pace and good company. The morning was a little overcast, but very humid. I had a hard time breathing on a couple of the hills due to the humidity, but managed to work through it. The sun came out for a little while and I thought it was going to get really hot, but the cloud cover came back toward the end. The fun part of the ride was heading out to Luckenbach. Everyone wanted to sing the song!

After the ride was over we had a nice treat. One of our teammates has a son who is in massage school. As part of their training, they have to do massages outside of the school. For free. And they were waiting at the end of the ride for us. SWEET!!!!! After the massage we headed to one of the local restaurants for some more socializing before heading back home.

As soon as I got home I had to shower and get ready for an event we had to go to for my husband's job. His boss (who is also a client of mine) is heading off for a six week bike ride to Canada. I'm very jealous! How fun would that be?

Sunday we slept in a little and went to the late service at church. Madison had been wanting to go shopping for a long time, so I took the kids and got them some new clothes. Sunday night was an Aztex soccer game. It got a little sloppy thanks to the rain that came during the game.

This morning I got up early and headed downtown to spectate at the local tri. I had some friends and TNT buddies doing the tri and wanted to cheer them on. I'm really glad I went. It felt weird not participating, but it was fun cheering for everyone. After the race the kids and I headed out to my parents to relax around the pool for a while. I like when we get to do that.

And so another long weekend comes to an end. Luckily for me it's a 4 day work week this week and a 3 day work week the two weeks after that (due to my trip to Tahoe).

I also want to say thanks to all the men and women who are in the military and put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can have the freedom we have.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A New Running PR and a Great Ride With Teammates

Got up this morning to temps in the mid-60s. Awesome! Much better running weather than 80 degrees. Ate my breakfast and headed down to the start line. Got a nice little warm up jog on the way there. Talked to a couple of friends before lining up.

According to my garmin, we started right on time. I know the course well and run much of it in my daily runs, so I knew what to expect and I could visualize the whole course. When we reached the first mile marker I hit my split button and saw 8:00. Usually I'm at 8:30. But I felt good and kept going. Mile 2 was 8:14 and mile 3 was 8:12. The last .1 was :45. Total time: 25:10, which is a new PR for me. I keep hoping that I'll be able to place in these smaller races, but I ended up 4th in my age group. I'm very happy with my time.

After the run, I walked home, changed into cycling clothes and headed off to meet a couple of guys from my TNT team. We headed north into the headwind at the start of the ride, rode out about 20 miles and turned and came back. Total miles today on the bike: 43:78. Mentally, I needed that today. Wind and hills only make you stronger. Plus, I got to ride with some of my favorite riding buddies.

Tonight: relaxing in the recliner watching the season finale of Survivor!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What a Week

Tuesday night was kick-off for the next Team in Training season. I'm going to be a captain with the run team this season, so off to kick-off I went. It was great to see so many people come out and want to raise money despite the lovely economic situation our country is in. And you know it's a small world when one of the people signed up for your team actually went to high school with you. Wow! It's going to be an interesting season.

Wednesday night I headed out to hill repeats. I got there before anyone else so I figured I would go ahead and start and see how many hills I could get in. I headed up the hill feeling good, cooled off in the cul-de-sac at the top of the hill like we normally do, and then started my decent. You can build up a lot of speed if you want to, but still being a little cautious on the bike, I feathered the brakes more than normal on the way down. And it's a good thing I did. As I got near the bottom something felt "off" to me. I slowed down even more with the intent of maybe stopping and that's when I heard it. Pssssssstttttttt. The front tire was flat. I couldn't get stopped and clipped out quick enough and down I went. This time on the left side. Some minor road rash on the left elbow and a big bruise behind my right knee from where my leg hit the bike frame. I'm starting to feel a little jinxed on the bike. I was so mad that I went home and ran 4 miles.

Thursday after work I headed out for a run. I was hoping to get 4 in, but running at 5pm in the lovely heat and humidity is not something I'm use to at this point in the year. I got 3 in and called it quits.

Friday was a "get things done" day. We took Tank back to the vet for a check-up and to get his heartworm medication, I registered for Sunday's local 5k, clothes got washed and my road bike got yet another new tire and tube put on. I also caught up on some tv watching that got missed this week.

This morning I woke up early, loaded my cycling gear, and headed of to meet the run team. Since this was the first group practice I wanted to be there at the start. As soon as the instructions were given and the runners took off, I took off to meet the cycle team. When we headed out, I was very nervous. I was afraid of getting another flat and crashing yet again. After about 10 miles I started to relax just a little bit. We had a great group of us riding together that stayed together until our first stop around 20 miles. From there we took off and ended up in a couple of groups, but still close enough we could see each other. The group of us together decided to do the extra 5 mile loop. As we were heading west on that loop, a cold front hit. One moment we were hot and going with very little wind and the next moment we were chilly and fighting a huge head wind. It was that quick. As we turned the corner to head north, I got nervous again. You could tell that it had rained there because the streets were slick and the crosswind was VERY strong. At one point I felt like it might blow me off the road. I didn't want anyone near me and got very close to calling the sag vehichle to come get me. But I kept going. We somehow managed to dodge the rain until we got close to the end of the ride. And it didn't start raining hard until we got back to the starting point and were loading our bikes. Then the team went to eat together like we normally do. I ended up with 51.9 miles.

When I got home, I took a long shower and then tried to take a nap in the recliner. I never did fall asleep, but it felt good to just lay there. Then I had to take Madison to volleyball practice.

Tomorrows plan assuming the weather cooperates: 5k in the morning followed by another bike ride!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'M BACK!!!!!

...on the bike, that is.

Last week's workouts were a little less than stellar. After my "big" 10 mile ride outside on Monday, I attempted to do yoga on Tuesday. I say attempted, because I couldn't do half the moves. It was very frustrating. I can do a one -arm downward dog, but you don't want to see my attempt at a one-arm push-up. Not pretty. Then Wednesday I did a very slow 3 mile run on the treadmill to see if running would hurt the shoulder. I don't think it did, but either I was wrong or I slept weird Wednesday night, because I woke up Thursday morning and my whole upper back/neck/shoulder area was TIGHT. It was so tight that I called a couple of places Thursday to see if I could get in for a massage over my lunch hour. It didn't happen. I decided that my body may be telling me I was trying to do too much too fast, so I didn't work out Thursday night.

Friday night was spent running all over town like a chicken with my head cut off. My husband had to go out of town, so I got to be single mom all weekend. Madison had volleyball practice Friday night and we found out Thursday night that I needed to be at a parent meeting for Dalton's soccer Friday night as well. Both at the same time. Yeah, that would work if I could clone myself. Fortunately, we know some of the parents from Madison's volleyball team so I asked one if they could take Madison and bring her home. That was taken care of, so off Dalton and I went to soccer. After that meeting I ran him back home, got him some dinner, made sure he was packed and took him to one of his teammates house so he could spend the night and ride with them to his game in San Antonio the next morning while I would be out for my long bike ride. After dropping him off, I headed to the store to get gatorade and goodies for my ride and then headed to Taco Bell for my dinner and finally got home around 9:00. I ate and got my things ready and then soaked in a hot bath for a bit hoping that would relax my shoulder a little.

Saturday morning I woke up early and headed north for the Armadillo Hill Country Classic. This is one of the events some of our teammates fundraised for, so that meant we had some who would be doing the 105 mile route. Several teammates were planning on 80 and others were doing 60. I had originally been asked to do the 80 mile route with one of my teammates who also happens to be a survivor and is the honored hero for this season. He is an awesome guy with a great attitude, so I had no problem agreeing to this. But when I got there Saturday morning, coach had a different plan. He asked if I would be willing to get sagged forward a little bit so that I could meet up with one of the teammates doing the 105 route and have fresh legs to help bring him in. He told me I could ride the first 20 miles until I got to the third rest stop and then sag forward a bit and ride the rest of the route. So, that's what I did.

I tried to stay with Mike (the honored hero) at first, but he was just so dang excited, he took off. So I just kind of did my own thing, riding with teammates when I could find them, until I got further down the road. I do have to say that I was a little jittery in the beginning. When someone would get too close or cut in front of me I would put my hands very close to those brakes. But, I made it to the rest stop just fine. No so for Patrick. He popped a spoke about mile 19. But, he has done that before, so he was prepared and had extra spokes in his seat post. There were mechanics at the third rest stop, so he got it fixed and sagged forward with me. When Terry, Mike, Shelly and John came through the rest stop we were at, we joined them and headed off to finish the ride with them. And let me just say that neither Terry nor Mike needed my "fresh legs". Those guys were riding like they could go all day. It was wonderful to see their excitement. As for me, the heat started getting me latter in the ride, so at the aid stations I would stop and pour ice water over my head. When I stopped at the last one about 5 miles out Terry kept riding and said he wasn't stopping. Mike followed right behind him. I hurried up and dumped the water on my head and then told Patrick we needed to catch them. It took a little bit, but we did catch them. And it was awesome to be just right behind them as they crossed the "finish line". I checked my bike computer and I had gotten in 85 miles! Not bad for the second outside ride after a crash, huh?

I had planned ahead for the heat and packed a coke in my cooler, so I never made it to the proverbial "TNT finish line". When I got to my car, I stopped, got off my bike, grabbed my coke, and headed over to the curb to sit down and drink it. And then I lay there with an ice cold rag on my head and got water dumped on me. It felt good.

After I was finally cooled off a bit, I changed clothes and waited for our other 105 mile rider to come in. After she came in, I headed home to shower and headed to the victory party. There wasn't too great of a turnout since it's a local event, but Patrick, Mike and Terry were there, so that it was worth it. After that I headed home, had a glass of wine, and went to bed.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit (by that I mean that I didn't get out of bed until 7:30). Madison and Dalton made their own breakfast AND washed dishes, so that was great. I had my normal shake and we headed off to Sunday school and church. After church we headed home and put on our swimsuits so we could head out to my parents and spend the day by the pool. My parents were still out of town as well so it was just the three of us. The kids had fun swimming and playing in the pool and I just enjoyed laying in the lounge chair relaxing. I was in the sun for a little bit, but pulled the chair on the patio in the shade and took a nap for a while as well. It was a very relaxing Mother's Day.

Today was back to work but it was a slow day as most of the office was out on business. I finally got my massage after work (man am I tight - need to go back for more) and then headed to Madison's soccer game.

Today officially starts my marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so when I got home I headed out for a run at 7:00. It felt a little cooler, but by the time I was done with my 4 miles I was soaked. I fixed me some dinner, put the kids to bed and then at 9:00 took Roscoe out for his walk. I'm soaked all over again. It's going to be a long hot summer!

And just for laughs.....remember when I mentioned we did curb side collections and made over $800. Well, most of that was in $1 bills. I didn't really think anything of it until I got ready to take it to the bank to deposit. First of all, $400-$500 in $1 bills does not fit in the little tube at the drive thru. Second of all, I started thinking that even if it did, I may not want to send it all at once. They would probably get the money and go "yep, this lady is a stripper".