Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Ironman Is In My Future

A while back a friend of mine emailed me and said she'd love to do a destination event with me soon. I thought it would be fun and we started talking about what race we could do. She had also been thinking of doing an Ironman and then we found out a large group of folks we know from here were planning on signing up for Ironman Arizona 2012.....and so the wheels started turning.

We decided that we would do IMAZ 2012 together and began to make plans. The first step in the process was making plans to go out to IMAZ this year to volunteer and guarantee we would have a spot.

On November 19th, that process began as weheaded out to Tempe. Once in Tempe, I headed over to the pro panel at the race site. Another friend of mine was racing this year. She is in the Army and was racing as part of the Team Red, White and Blue. This group of folks is raising awareness and raising money to help wounded veterans. One of the pros is an ambassador of Team RWB and would be speaking at the pro panel. I went to meet my friend there and listen to the expert advice of the pros. It was actually kind of interesting as many of the pros said that during the off season they would be enjoying their choice of acoholic beverage and some chocolate. Now that's my kind of athlete.

After checking out the race site (swim course, transition area, etc), it was time to grab a quick bite to eat. There was also an author there who wrote a book called You Are An Ironman. The book is about 6 average age groupers and their journey to Ironman Arizona 2009. The author was there as were several of the folks he wrote about. I got the book and then listened to their Q&A session and then got some autographs as well. There was also a gathering of triathletes at one of the big triathlon stores in town. Lots of the pros were hanging around there and I got a couple more autographs. After that it was time to settle in, relax, and enjoy dinner.

Saturday morning it was time to get up fairly early because I wanted to run part of the run course. I got in about three miles before needing to head to the volunteer meeting to meet the captains for our aid station on Sunday. After that it was time to grab some lunch and then head to a lunch gathering for Team RWB, where I got a shirt so that I could support them during the race. I talked to my friend about possibly joining Team RWB and raising money for them next year. I wished the races good luck and we headed on our way.

Sunday was a long day. We were up early and at the race start to watch the swim begin. We hung around until we saw Brittany come out of the water and then grabbed some breakfast before heading to the run aid station where we were volunteering. We would be helping to set up the aid station and then stay for a little bit of the next shift to hand out nutrition to the athletes as they came through. The good thing about being there so early was that we would see the pros as they came through on their run. It was really neat to see that first pro coming down the path. I got to hand water to several of the pros and got some good pics as well. My friend Selene enjoyed volunteering as well, and her sister and future brother-in-law even jumped in to help. It was lots of fun, but can be very tiring, especially as the day got warmer.

After volunteering at the shift it was time to grab some food and do a little relaxing since we had plans to be at the finish line until midnight. We opted for a late dinner and then headed to the finish line for the last couple of hours. The finish line at that time of the evening is a pretty fun, festive, emotional and inspiring time. I wanted to Selene to see that and get excited about signing up the next day. The last official finisher came through with about 2 seconds to spare in the 17 hour time limit. Wow!

Monday morning it was up early again to head back down to the race area to get in line for to sign up. Volunteers get to sign up first and we were about 30-40 people back in line. It's a good thing we got there early because that line continued to grow and grow and grow. Registration opened a little early and before we knew it, we were standing in front of the volunteer giving them our information. We got the registration done and took our picture with our little piece of paper confirming our entry for next year.

After I registered for Florida, I walked out of the tent and thought to myself "what did I just do". I was excited and nervous and unsure of what the year ahead of me had in store for me. This time, I didn't really feel that way. It's weird in a way. I'm not really nervous about doing an Ironman. I know what kind of training I will have to do and I know what it takes to get it done. The thing that makes me most nervous is the temperature of Tempe Town Lake where the swim will take place. This year the temperature was 61 degrees. Even with a full wetsuit, I know that I will be freezing cold in that. Somehow in the next year I need to figure out how to get use to being in cold water for an hour to hour and a half.

For now, I'm still working out on my own schedule based on what I feel like doing. I do have plans to get back in the pool at least once a week and I've been doing trainer rides more frequently as well. I need to sit down and look at my race schedule for next year and see what I can fit in between the kids' volleyball and soccer tournaments. Specific Ironman training won't begin again until the end of April, but you can be sure I will be building that base before then.

It should be a fun year........

Susan G Komen Race For The Cure 5k

Just like every year (except 2010 when it conflicted with Ironman Florida), I signed up to do the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. I wasn't really trained to "race" it this year so I knew I wouldn't get a PR, but I was somewhat surprised at the results.

The race use to be downtown and then moved north for a few years. This year it moved back downtown. In looking at the map, I guessed that the first half would be fairly fast with a slight downhill and then the last half would be slower with a more uphill course. I forgot how hilly downtown is and was wrong. The first half of the course has more uphill than I thought.

It turns out I probably started out too fast for the hills, but I hung in there and got it done.

Mile 1: 8:32
Mile 2: 8:57
Mile 3: 9:08
last .1: 53:65 seconds

My final time was 27:28 for an overall pace of 8:48. I ended up 376 out of 1289 who were chip timed that day, 137/764 females and 13/85 in my age group.

It was a great day and it felt good to be racing again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The 2011 Chicago Marathon

Race morning I woke up at 5:00am. I probably could have slept later with how close I was to the start, but I would rather be early than rushed. I had taken two different outfits as possible race outfits - a cute pink one with a running skirt and the standard shorts/tank that I had worn for most of my long runs. Since I had only worn the skirt for a 12 miler, I made a quick race morning decision to skip the cuteness and go for tried and true.

I got dressed, ate my breakfast and checked the temps. The weather was warmer than I had hoped for and I knew I'd be fine once I got going, but the decision was whether to start with arm warmers or not. I had a trash bag with me to use for warmth before the race, so I decided not to mess with arm warmers. I knew I would shed them fast and didn't want to have to carry them for most of the race. I grabbed a water, grabbed my trash bag and headed to the race start.

The morning was beautiful and seeing the sun rise over the city was a sight to see. I have to admit that I stole a few of the pics below from the facebook album of a friend of mine who also did the race. Thanks JCP.

I found the port a potties, did my business and hung out for a bit before enterring the coral. About 30 minutes before the race start I enterred the coral and found a vacant spot on the curb to hang out.

Finally it was time for the national anthem and then we were off. With over 35,000 runners, it took me over 10 minutes to get to the start line. I shed the trash bag just before crossing the start. At first I was a little bit chilled, but very shortly we went under a bridge that seemed more like a tunnel and I was extremely glad I had decided to leave the arm warmers in the room. It was muggy and warm through that bridge and I knew from there on I would not be cold again.

I hit mile 1 and saw a 9:54. I was happy with that. I figured it might be a tad fast overall, but it was slower than my first mile usually is. I usually get sucked in with all the excitement and have to slow my pace down. The crowd here was good for me in that it helped hold me back.

I was able to hold a consistent pace for over half of the race.
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 9:51
Mile 4: 9:27
Mile 5: 9:30
Mile 6: 9:49
Mile 7: 9:19
Mile 8: 9:45
Mile 9: 9:44
Mile 10: 9:44
Mile 11: 9:46
Mile 12: 9:50

From about mile 10 I felt like I kind of had to pee, but not bad. I had been on the lookout for some open port-a-potties because I was not going to stand in line. Finally somewhere between 12 and 13 I saw an open one, darted off course, did my thing and ran back out.

Mile 13: 10:39

I settled back into my pace and continued on.

Mile 14: 9:47
Mile 15: 9:51

At this point it started warming up and I could tell I was slowing just a bit.

Mile 16: 10:02
Mile 17: 10:06
Mile 18: 10:20
Mile 19: 10:32

Somewhere around here I began thinking about all my other marathons. This was my 12th one and in all the previous ones, there was a point where I stopped to walk at least a little bit. In the Disney marathon one year I made it to mile 22 before I walked. I hadn't walked to this point yet and decided I would try to get further than I did at Disney at least. I did allow myself to slow the pace just a little because in reality, my dream was to not walk at all today.

Mile 20: 10:44
Mile 21: 10:40
Mile 22: 10:53
Mile 23: 11:19

I began to think at this point of the post I would put on facebook about not walking one single step. I knew I couldn't post that if I walked, so that was motivation. Whatever works, right? Besides, I only had 3 more miles to go. I knew at this point I'd get a PR, but the question was by how much. I calculated that if I ran 11 minute miles I only had a little over 33 minutes left to run. Surely I could do it.

Mile 24: 11:04

Now only 2 miles to go. Piece of cake.

Mile 25: 10:54


Mile 26: 10:32

The last little bit of the marathon takes you up over a bridge before you turn to the finish. It's not steep by any means but at mile 26 of a marathon it sure feels like it. I plowed up that thing anyway.

The last .2 were done in 2:16.

When I saw the finish line I picked up speed. I had made it. All 26.2 miles without one single step of walking. And a brand new PR of 4:26:18!

I was soooo happy! I got a mylar blanket just in case I would get cold, I got my medal and then I stretched out my legs and lower back. I exited the coral and found a curb to sit on so I could call the family and let them know I was done. After sitting there and drinking my coke for a while I made my way back to the room for a nice shower. Then I put on my compression sleeves and headed to Niketown for some well deserved finisher gear.

I have to say that Chicago is one of the most well supported races I've ever done. The crowds were amazing throughout the whole course. And since it was hotter than expected, most of the locals had their water hoses out and were cooling us off as we ran past. For as big of a race as it is, it was very well run. I'm definitely glad I did this one and can now mark another state off my list.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicago Pre Marathon

Ahhh, after training through the Texas heat, the time finally came for me to head to Chicago. After checking the forecast, it looked like I might get some cooler weather in Chicago. So I packed some long sleeved shirts and jeans. At the last minute I threw in a short sleeved shirt and some flip flops and I would be glad later that I did. After leaving work on Thursday, I headed to the airport for my flight to Chicago.

Friday morning I woke up to nice 60 degree weather and headed over to the Lake Shore path for a short 3 mile run. It felt great. After the run I showered, grabbed some breakfast and headed out for a fun-filled day of sight seeing. I had purchased a ticket for a hop-on/hop-off bus tour. I caught the bus and headed to the upper deck for some great views. The tour was pretty interesting and I learned a little history about Chicago. And I was glad I had a short sleeve shirt and flip flops because it got warm!

I didn't get off the bus until I was pretty far north. From there, I made my way to Wrigley Field for my 2pm tour. Let me just say that the tour was one of the highlights of my trip. I'd love to go back and go to an actual game there. We got to see the press box and the locker rooms as well as sit in the dugout. Pretty awesome!

After a little souveneir shopping, I made my way back to the bus. Before getting on, however, I had to hit the Hersey store and get me some dark chocolate for my "recovery" after the marathon.

I stayed on the bus until I got to the Sears Tower (or Willis Tower as it is now called). One of my friends had said the view at Sunset was nice to see and I timed it pretty perfectly. I even stepped out on the ledge 103 floors above the ground and looked straight down through the pexiglass.

After this I was exhausted and headed back to the room to rest.

Saturday morning I headed over the the Lake Shore path for another short run. Let me just say that at this time of the year, Chicago was an awesome place for a run. The path by the lake runs about 20 miles north and south. Lots of joggers and cyclists are out on the path and I felt very safe.

After showering and breakfast, I headed to the expo where I would run into a friend from home and meet another friend who now lives in Chicago. I also discovered that there would be an autograph signing by Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. For those of you who don't recognize those names, they are women from the US Woman's soccer team and my son is a huge fan of Alex Morgan. I knew I had to get an autograph and picture, so I hovered. I made sure that when they opened that line I was second to get in it!

Mission accomplished.

After getting the autographs, Tanya and I made our way north of the city and ate lunch at The Corner Bakery. Then I headed to Niketown before making my way back. I found me some pasta for an early dinner and then headed to the room to watch some football for the evening and to relax before race day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Training for the Chicago Marathon in the Texas Heat

After doing Ironman Florida last year, I decided to do "fun" stuff this year. And I have. I've done adventure races and shorter races, but I did decide to do the Chicago Marathon and add another state to my list of states in which I've run a marathon. And after seeing what my body could handle while IM training, I decided to go with a high mileage plan for the marathon. It all seemed great until the great heat wave of the summer hit.

I think this year we hit 100 degrees earlier in the year than we normally do and it hasn't let up since then. We are well over 50 days of 100 degree temps or more. In July, there were only 2 days of not reaching 100 and both of those days we hit 99 degrees. This lead us to have the hottest July ever on record. I think the lowest high temp last week was 104. The heat is not welcome and it's making my higher mileage marathon training program seem brutal.

My legs are handling the miles just fine and my cardio is doing well, but the heat is just killing me. A lot of my runs during the week are 8-12 miles. This usually takes me about an hour and twenty minutes to two hours to do these distances. But, when it's still 100 degrees at 8:00pm, it makes things hard.

During the week I get up early anyway to go into work early. I would have to start running at 3:30 or 4:00am to get the runs done before getting ready for work. Sorry, but that is not happening for several reasons, one of which is safety for me. As a female, I don't feel comfortable running alone before about 5am. Therefore, all my weekday runs have to be done after work. When I get home from work it's 100+, so I wait until about 8pm to head out. That brings up the "should I eat dinner or not" question. If I eat dinner at 5:00 or 6:00, then I'm still full when I run, but if I don't eat early, then I'm eating dinner at 10pm and going directly to bed. The treadmill is always an option, but we all know how much fun it is to do longer runs on the treadmill. And so I usually head out about 7 and end up walking more than I like to admit.

The weekends are a little different, but they bring their own issues. For instance, this morning when I started my run at 5:30am, the "feels like" temperature was already 85 degrees. Compared to 105, that's a cool front, but the humidity is a lot higher in the mornings. By the end of my first mile, I was already dripping with sweat. I can run for longer periods of time without walking when I start early, but I am totally soaked in sweat after 30-45 minutes and then my socks get wet and I get lovely blisters. And that's without going through any sprinklers.

So, I've continued my runs and getting my miles in, but they haven't all been pretty. There is a lot more walking going on than I like, but I can only hope that come Chicago all this training in the heat will pay off. I'm hoping Chicago will be cooler in October (and not have a really hot year like a couple of year's ago when they stopped the marathon) and that my body will be ready to go come race day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 9 - The Final Day

We woke up earlier this morning than we had planned, so we all just went ahead and got up. After showers and making sure the luggage was ready to go to the airport, we set off to find some breakfast. Last night while shopping we had found a crepe place and that sounded good so we headed in that direction. When we got there we saw they didn’t open for another 30 minutes. We decided to head the other way toward Eggs ‘N Things. When we got there we discovered a 45 minute wait. So, we ended up back at the hotel for their breakfast.

After breakfast we got the car and drove out to the Byodo-In Temple. For some reason the kids had originally wanted to go and since we had time we decided to do that this morning. We got there before the tour busses and it was very tranquil and peaceful at first.

We started walking around the grounds and saw the hundreds of koi in the ponds. Madison wanted to feed them so we went in the gift shop and bought some food. We came out and she started throwing the food to the fish. It was amazing to watch them swim on top of each other to get the food. And then the next thing we knew, Madison had a fish land in her hand to eat some of the food. That’s when Dalton decided he wanted some food as well. We stood there for probably 15 minutes letting the kids feed the fish and the birds.

Once the feeding was done, we let both kids ring the bell in the Bell House. The bell is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha.

After ringing the bell we took off our shoes and entered the temple. Before us stood the over 18 feet tall Buddha. After seeing Buddha, we walked around the grounds a little more before leaving.

We headed back to the hotel where we checked out and loaded our luggage into the rental car. We didn’t have to return the car until 6pm so we had time to do whatever we wanted. On our segway tour earlier in the week, the guide had mentioned an acai bowl at the Diamonhead Cove Health Bar. We decided to head there and try one for ourselves. The bowl was a lot bigger than we thought and we probably could have at least shared one bowl between two people, but it was yummy!

I had remembered seeing a triathlon shop not far from there and I really wanted a Hawaiian themed jersey so we headed that way. I don’t really wear sleeved jerseys a lot, but I saw one I really liked. I also found a sleeveless one I liked, but the smallest size was a men’s small. In the end, I ended up with both of them.

After that, we set off to drive around the island so we could see the few parts we had not seen before. We stopped at the Halona Blow Hole. The view was pretty, but we never saw the water come up out of the blow hole.

Our next stop was a macadamia nut factory. There wasn't a tour to take, but there was plenty to sample! We ended up buying a couple more bags - one coated in cinamon and one coated in caramel.

Since we had time, we decided to head back up to the North Shore and head into the town of Haleiwa. It is a quaint little town. There are some modern aspects to it, but most of it reminds you of what it might have been like before Hawaii became such a popular tourist destination.

We got stuck in a little bit of traffic up there for some reason, so after driving through Haleiwa, we decided to head on back and turn the car in. It was an easy process and we were quickly on the shuttle back to the airport.

We sent our luggage through the agricultural inspection and then checked our bags for the flight. We noticed when we got in line for security that they had the full body x-ray vision machine. It looked like they were making almost everyone go through it so we figured at least one or two of us would be sent through. Nope, 3 of us got sent through. Dalton, the only one who thought it would be cool to go through it, was the only one who got lucky and got to go through regular security. It wasn’t that bad, but it was weird wondering how much they can really see. I didn’t even want to think about it.

Once through security, we found our gate. Madison and I found plugs so we could recharge our phones and we passed time by reading. Around 7pm I asked the kids if they were going to want to eat before getting on the plane. They did, so $40 later everyone had a full belly.

Going home we were in first class again, but on a different type plane. This one wasn’t as nice as the one coming over and the seat didn’t recline near as far. I knew it would be hard for me to sleep. I was glad I kept my neck pillow out even though I got a pillow and blanket in first class.

After takeoff they served warm nuts, vegetable soup, fruit and cheese, a Hawaiian roll (yum) and a macadamia nut cookie. I ate some of it and had a little wine. Then it was time to try to sleep. I think I may have gotten around an hour of sleep from Honolulu to LA. We landed in LA at 5am and our next flight home left at 6:40am. On that flight we got served breakfast. I maybe got another hour or two of sleep on this plane. It was more comfortable and the seats reclined better, but still not like the seats on the flight over.

When we got near the airport, I could tell I was home. My allergies kicked in and I sneezed multiple times in a row. I hardly sneezed at all in Hawaii. Hmmmm. Anyway, as soon as we landed and got off the plane I could feel the heat. Ugghhh. I had worn my jacket on the plane because I was cold and that thing quickly came off. We headed down to grab our luggage. And wouldn’t you know it – another wheel on my luggage came off. That luggage is going in the trash.

My parents were outside waiting to pick us up and take us home. And when we got home, the dogs went crazy. They were very happy we were home. Our house sitter took great care of them while we were gone.

Vacation is over and it’s time to unpack and prepare to enter the working world again on Tuesday. Thank goodness for the 4th of July holiday.

Day 8 - Hanauma Bay and Shopping

Today was bittersweet. Even though we still have until Saturday evening, we had to check out of the timeshare today and move to a different hotel. We got up fairly early, ate breakfast, finished packing, checked out and headed into town. Our hotel for the night was the Holiday Inn Beachcomber. Since we were going on a snorkeling tour this afternoon, we wanted to stop by the hotel and at least drop our luggage off.

When we got to the hotel, I ran up to the lobby and luck was on our side. Our room was ready. I checked in and then we went to the valet area to park the car and unload the luggage. The whole process was quick and easy. They even gave the kids some drawstring backpacks. Very impressed so far. The room was nice, but nothing compared to the timeshare. Good thing it was only for one night.

After getting settled a little bit, we grabbed our beach gear and walked to the pick-up location for our Hanauma Bay snorkeling adventure. We were a little worried about whether we were in the right spot or not because there was no sign and we didn’t see anyone else who looked like they may be waiting for the same thing, but right on time the bus pulled up.

The bus ride out was about 30 minutes but along the way we got some history of the island and got shown Keanu Reeves’ house (at least that is what the bus driver said anyway). We stopped just outside the bay so that everyone could get snorkels and fins and then we headed in and were dropped off.

We got our tickets for entry and the time for our video. They are trying to preserve the area so everyone has to watch a 15 minute video before being allowed down to the beach and in the water. After the video we headed down the fairly steep path and then found a spot on the beach.

Dalton and I were the first two to get to snorkel. We headed into the water and once again, it was too cold for me. But, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance so I just dealt with it and got in. This was also the first time we would attempt to use our new underwater digital camera. Yes, it was supposed to be waterproof. I say that, because the first time I put it under water and tried to turn it on to take a picture, all I saw was a black screen. I came up out of the water and the same thing. I took it back and gave it to Joel and Dalton and I snorkeled for a little while. We saw a few fish but his mask kept leaking so I told him we needed to let Joel and Madison have their turn while we fixed his mask. We headed back to shore where I found out the waterproof camera wasn’t so waterproof. The bad part was that we had taken pictures on the catamaran and at the falls with it as well, so we are hoping the memory card is not ruined.

Joel and Madison got in the water for their turn. They weren’t gone very long before they headed back to shore as well. Somehow, Joel’s snorkel had come loose from his mask and was gone. Madison wasn’t done snorkeling so I got in the water and went back out with her. We didn’t really realize how far out we had gone until we saw the caution buoys, but we did see a lot more fish out there. We didn’t want to go too much further and the water got colder the further out you were, so we were both ready to come back in.

The rest of the afternoon was like this. Two of us would go out for a little bit and then come back and let two more go. The area was pretty, but every now and then a very strong wind would blow the sand and it felt like you were being sandblasted. It hurt. By 3:00 we were ready to head back to the top and catch our 3:15 shuttle bus back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel we all showered and got dressed so that we could go eat. There was a Jimmy Buffet Restaurant in the bottom of the hotel and we had decided to eat there. Yes, pricey. No, not original. Yes, easy and fairly quick.

After dinner and our free desert (we had a coupon), we headed up and down the street to finish up some last minute shopping. We also headed into the International Market. When we saw the henna tattoos, we wished we had gone in there earlier. The kids and I all would have gotten them. Oh well.

After shopping it was back to the hotel to make sure everything was packed for the flight home. Then we all read until bedtime.