Friday, December 14, 2007

Ho Ho Ho! A Christmas Meme

Growing up in a Buddhist family, Christmas was something we celebrated just to go along with everyone else. My parents put up a tree and decorations and wrapped gifts for us when we were little, but by the time we were teenagers, we were often just given cash to buy our own gifts (less work, less fuss, wrapping optional). And as we got older, the tree and decorations came out less and less.

Then I married Dave, who used to have "BAH HUMBUG" strung across his office doorway at Xmas. I decided I'd better take charge before it became just another day!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bag? Neither, most of our gifts are shipped/given directly unwrapped (but usually in a box or envelope) or sent via email.
2. Real tree or artificial? N/A
3. When do you put up your tree? N/A
4. When do you take down your tree? N/A
5. Do you like eggnog? Nope. Eggs, milk and me don't mix.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Not sure, but I remember having a blast playing with a Hot Wheels set one Xmas. Or was it my brother's?
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Not that I know of.
8. Hardest person to buy for? No one. Everyone we know loves gift cards.
9. Easiest person to buy for? Moi :-)
10. Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? I once got a coconut bra and grass skirt at a Secret Santa gift exchange. At the time, it seemed pretty useless.
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. It's tradition.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Die Hard. Yes, it qualifies. Yippy-ki-yay!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever the right gift comes to mind but usually when I have a deadline to meet.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Recycling is good.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Sees Candy if I'm lucky to get any.
16. White or colored lights? N/A
17. Favorite Christmas song? Snoopy's Theme. It's not really a Xmas song but it reminds me of the Peanuts show I used to watch as a kid around Xmas.
18. Traveling for Christmas or stay home? Usually we travel and often to get out of having to go elsewhere.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Umm ...
20. Angel or Star on top of tree? N/A
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People getting stressed over it.
23. What I love most about Christmas? Dave takes some time off from work.

And to keep things mellow, I'm not tagging anyone else but feel free to do one if you want. That's what I did :-)

PS - The poll below will stay open until I figure out how to close it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Coaching Poll

Just out of curiosity ...

If you had a MAJOR goal you wanted to achieve but felt you needed outside help with it, how much would you be willing to pay for a coach?

$0 would include asking for help from any person who is willing to give advice for free (friend, club coach, etc), or buying a book or generic training program and doing it yourself. $1-$100 would probably include most coaches who work with an organized training group, class or team as well as perhaps some basic 1-on-1 coaching services. Feel free to elaborate in the comments, if desired.

Poll Results (as of 1/8/08):

Thanks everyone for voting!

Monday, December 10, 2007

IMAZ Decision

Well, folks, it's been an agonizing couple weeks. Since the announcement of the new November Ironman Arizona race, I've gone back and forth trying to decide whether to sign up. There were as many reasons why I wanted to do it as there were why I shouldn't so I finally decided to consult the holy rolly decision maker of my household, the ever loved 8-ball.

But with 5 marathons already on my 2008 schedule and the long-time 50 states marathon goal as my priority, I needed a sound plan and a coach to help me get there. One local tri club coach basically said forget it (he felt no more than one marathon could be done the same year as training for an ironman). Two good online coaches, however, were more open to the idea. One recommended an excellent custom program for $395/month (yikes!). The other was still talking it over with his staff when it happened ...

The race sold out this morning. C'est la vie.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Crazy Cycling

No, it's not my next bike but I just had to share.

And what's even more odd is that this black and white photo was at Running Funky amidst all that bright colored stuff below.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Run Fun

OK, obviously, I'm having some after-effects from running the Las Vegas Marathon. Namely, the desire to have more fun by wearing fun things while racing.

But perhaps also to go faster too. I mean, Sweet Baboo destroyed his previous marathon PR by 50 minutes(!!!) running a 3:56 at Vegas while dressed as Elvis. INCREDIBLE.

And being only about 5'3", Dave has always told me to wear bright colors during a race so he could spot me easier. But now it seems that many are doing the same so seeing a person wearing yellow, red or orange is not as unusual as it used to be.

This calls for drastic measures, Running Funky measures, which, BTW, also does custom orders. More fun!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Splish Splash

Bree mentioned a company called Splish that makes cool swimsuits. I thought this one might be good for me since I've improved this year but still have got a long way to go.

Here's the idea behind it: Turtles are really quite speedy. I mean, if you look at the sloth, which moves at 4 inches an hour, I'd say the turtle is basically a rocket ...

I like the idea of being a rocket, if only to a few :-)

Some of the suits are pretty funny like this one. Can you imagine some guy wearing this? If I didn't drown from swallowing so much water laughing, I'd probably have to get out of the pool before I peed in it.

There was no description or explanation provided. Maybe it's something like: Wear this to discourage your competition from drafting behind you or even getting into the pool with you. By default, you'll be a winner.

And you can also design your own custom swimsuit too. How fun!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Las Vegas Marathon 2007

What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas.

Not if you're a marathon runner, thanks to race organizers publishing race results on the internet for all to see!

But does a finishing time really say whether a race went well or not? I mean, I met my goal to run a sub-4 race time and ran a negative split. I could say I ran a nice easy first half, felt good enough to run a faster second half, and had fun the entire way.

But, I'd be lying. This was far from being an easy race for me. Still, I must say that I did have fun, as a whole. And it actually started the day before.

First off, I've never seen so many Elvises (or is it Elvi?) in my entire life. At the expo, they seemed to be everywhere ... tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, fat ones, young ones, old ones, male and female ones, Asian ones, Hispanic ones, you name it. There were also some women wearing wedding outfits (but from their shoes, I don't think they were really getting married) and several others who were dressed up. I sort of wished I had some outfit to be more part of the Vegas atmosphere.

Then later I met up with fellow blogger Rural Girl and her wonderful husband, who, like Dave, prefers to be the picture taker rather than in the photos (grrrr). All this year, I'd followed her journey to Ironman Wisconsin and had been looking forward to meeting her in person. We had a nice pre-race dinner and talked and laughed about so many things that I'm sure the waiters/waitresses were giving us the "eye" since many other runners were coming in for their pre-race meals too. All I can say is: We Were There First :-)

So, now onto the running part ...

The course, as you can see below (if you can't, click to see a bigger map), starts off along the the Strip for about 6 miles and then makes a big loop off into no man's land until mile 23.5 when we run along the back side of lower part of the Strip and end up where we started. And knowing that this was my last race for the year and my goal was to have fun, I did something I've never done before during a marathon ...

No, I didn't go out and get myself an Elvis outfit. I brought along a camera, just like I did during my Foto Fartlek run!

But, let me apologize in advance for the quality of some of my shots. I took some while running and all while not paying any attention to the lighting conditions. It's an old digital camera with limited zoom so I just pointed and clicked. OTOH, if I dropped it or somehow lost it, I would not be too heartbroken.

So here we are at the start, which was in front of the Mandalay Bay Resort. The main race start time was 6:07am, about a half hour before sunrise, but the area was well lit with neon and flashing signs as well as a very high and bright light that looks like a big white blob in my photo. What I really wanted to capture were the firecrackers going off to the right but they didn't come out well, unfortunately. And, too bad you can't hear Elvis singing 'Viva Las Vegas' as we crossed the start line. Take my word for it, the race start was pretty exciting!

The first couple miles, we were running past huge, gorgeous hotels/resorts that were lit up with dazzling lights and signs. Then on the left around mile 3 was what I was on the lookout for, the fabulous Blue Man Group. And though I'd just recently seen them in Orlando, I would have loved to have stayed for their entire 45 minute set. But, alas, there was a marathon to be run and so I continued on past them, managing to get only a blurry photo and an audio snippet.

As the sun rose, the Strip took on a different look, one that I thought was not as impressive as in the dark but it was inevitable. There were still cool things to see, however, like this striking building in the distance, The Las Vegas Stratosphere Tower, big statues, signs of who was playing where, etc. And, of course, around me running were several Elvises and other dressed-up folks who were adding to the fun.

But soon after turning off the Strip, the course scenery became a lot less interesting and I began noticing a tight feeling in my left calf. Then within a mile, the balls of my feet, particularly the left one, began to hurt and I could feel my hip flexors starting to ache. WTF???

I slowed down and tried to figure out why I seemed to be having a meltdown so soon. Was I not drinking enough? Was I hitting the wall already? Did I go out too fast? Did I race too much/hard recently? Is it because I didn't run much the past couple months?

Well, I'd been running about an 8:50 pace so far, which shouldn't have been too fast, but I knew I'd somewhat strained my left calf (soleus) during the last mile of the Thanksgiving 10-miler while trying to hold off one woman from passing me (it bothered me after the race during some of my training runs earlier this week). The balls of my feet have been tender ever since the long barefoot swim-bike transition at Miami Man. The hip flexor thing was most likely due to not much running recently and pushing too hard at that 10-miler again.

I decided that the best thing for me was to run conservatively until ~mile 20. The course had a gentle upward grade until ~mile 18 and then had a gentle downward grade until the last couple miles where it rose a bit and then flattened out again. If I could make it to 20 with plenty of energy and no all-out calf cramp or a much more severe muscle pull, I could pick up my pace the last 6.2 miles and then my buddy adrenaline would be on my side to get me through the race.

So that was my plan and with any luck, I might still meet my sub-4 goal.

But around mile 12, I stopped at a porta-potty that a guy just beat me to (hey, what ever happed to ladies first ;-). Since he took longer than I thought he would, I took the time to stretch out my left calf and snap a photo of the scenery we were now looking at. Pretty boring but I liked seeing the mountains in the distance since I don't see any in FL.

The stretching and break from running really seemed to make a big difference, though, and so when I passed the halfway point in over 2 hours (my watch said 2:02:06 but the official split was 2:05:25 -- don't think it was adjusted to account for the time it took for me to cross the start mat), I told myself that I'd stop and stretch every few miles and forgo my sub-4 hour race goal.

Yeah, right. Once I got going, I never stopped again. At mile 14, I saw some very inspiring pint-sized musicians and started focusing more on the people along the course (runners, spectators, bands, cheerleading squads, etc). By mile 15-16, I'd sort of gotten used to the aches and pains, and noted they really weren't getting worse so I inched my pace back below 9 minutes.

At mile 20, my race began. I really picked things up on the downhill sections (easy on the calf but not so much on my feet) and saw some 8:24, 8:31 and 8:32 miles click off on my watch. Uphill and flat sections were in the 8:45-8:50 range and one of the good things about big races is there was no shortage of runners in front of me to try to catch. And names were printed on the bib so spectators could cheer for me by name (how I love that!). We could also see the tall buildings along the Strip that we were running back towards, which I found quite motivating. Sorry, no pictures the last few miles -- I was all business!

Around mile 25, I began hearing the faint sounds of the group I wanted to hear second-most along the course, the Las Vegas Taiko Drummers at mile 26. Not only did it mean I was near the end but I've loved Taiko drumming since I was a kid (I'm of Japanese descent). They kept me running strong to the finish and I managed to slide in just under 4 hours -- 3:58:44 (gun time was 4:02:04). Viva Las Vegas!

The only real complaint I have about this race is the finisher photos (every race has some boring sections so that was no biggie to me). Namely, they only had showgirls to pose with, no show guys, not a single Elvis! And it seemed that only the guys were going up to get their photos taken with the showgirls (go figure). NO FAIR!!!

PS - No more long race reports for the rest of the year :-)

Added: PSS - I never saw Rural Girl during the race, unfortunately, though she was also shooting for a sub-4. But looking for her helped pass the last few miles and I'm happy to say that she did run her third (second standalone, one was part of an Ironman) marathon well. I'll let her tell you all about it.

Las Vegas Marathon - The Skinny

Nice COLD weather and a pretty flat race course but I had some unwelcome issues crop up early in the race that threatened my sub-4 race goal.

Finish time 3:58:44 (9:06.5 avg pace)
Half split 2:05:25 (?)
F45-49 27/193
F 265/1586

The Full Monty by tomorrow!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Oh no ...

There's a new Ironman Arizona race November 23, 2008. Same relatively flat course as the April race, just later in the year when heat and gusty winds will hopefully be less than they have been the past 3 years when the race has been held in April.

And late November could work well for me ...

And there's only 7(!) participants listed so far ...

Would everyone PLEASE register and fill up that race ASAP???


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Last Race of 2007

And, boy, am I glad. It's been really hard for me (yes, me!) to stay motivated to train after my main 2007 race, Miami Man, 3 weeks ago. In fact, I didn't run for 10 days afterwards until the Thanksgiving 10-miler last week. Thank goodness I signed up for that race!

I finished it in 1:17:51 (7:47 avg pace), nearly 4 minutes slower than two years ago. I could blame it on the 10-degree warmer weather we had this year but, let's face it, I've really not been running much this year and what little I did was nearly all easy endurance type of runs. (OTOH, my swimming improved greatly and together with a better nutrition plan, my half iron tri race times dropped significantly.)

But the 10-miler did give me an idea on how fast I might be able to complete my last race for 2007, the Las Vegas Marathon, this Sunday: 3:39.

Of course, that assumes proper marathon training. HA! I haven't done any long runs since the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon back in October.

So, since 3:39 is a far cry from a PR anyway, and I'm really not in the mood to race hard again so soon, I'm just going to relax and shoot for another sub-4 marathon race time in Vegas. There'll be entertainment along the course (Blue Man Group again at mile 2 3!), running Elvises, and Rural Girl will also be shooting for a sub-4. No one will be waiting for me at the finish line so I can take my sweet time or decide later to pick up my pace for a negative split. My main goal for this race will be to have fun!

Good luck to Susan, MarathonChris, Maddy, Jen, Terry, Annette and everyone else racing this weekend!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

10 Reasons to Love Family Thanksgivings

10. While cleaning I found some things that I had lost.
9. It's not just me who got up early for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner workout.

8. We all came home hungry. (The kids ran a 5K, I ran a 10-miler, Dave rode 50 miles home from the race.)

7. Everyone knows I don't cook often so I got lots of help in the kitchen.
6. We found out our stove still works.

5. It was a good chance to see who's still alive and healthy.
4. I got a new family photo for my blog. (Couples L to R: Dave's mom & dad, Dave's sister & husband, me & Dave, daughter & husband)

3. We saved on shipping by giving Xmas gifts early.
2. It was a great excuse to go see the Blue Man Group.

1. I got a cool t-shirt from my mother-in-law!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year I had the bright idea to host Thanksgiving at my house this year. We invited my (step) daughter and son-in-law from Utah, Dave's parents from Texas, and Dave's sister and brother-in-law, who live only a couple hours north of us. So, a total of 8 people, including us, for our first-ever Thanksgiving dinner (no grandkids that I know of, yet).

What the hell was I thinking???

I'm now running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything for work done by tomorrow, my house cleaned, and all the various meals planned and prepared. Oh, how I wish I could cook like Petra and Bree. Or, at least use a crockpot like Wendy does.

So I'm going to say this early and make it quick because I don't know if I'll have time to say it later ...

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Meme, Say What???

Lisa, who recently completed her first marathon and is an awesome graphics designer, tagged me to do a meme.

What's that, you say?

As near as I can tell, it's a fun chain-letter like way of getting to know others better and making new friends. But don't ask me why they call it a meme.

Fortunately, this one does not ask you to provide as much details about yourself as I've seen on some blogs. Here are the basic rules for this meme (cutting and pasting from Lisa's blog):

• Link to your tagger, and post these rules on your blog.
• Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
• Tag 5 people at the end of your post by their names and links to their blogs.
• Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog.

My 5 facts:

1. Orlando is the furthest inland I've ever lived for any length of time (about an hour from the Atlantic Ocean). Other places include the S.F. Bay Area, San Diego and Monterey, CA.

2. I have a masters degree in Oceanography but am very prone to motion/sea sickness and until very recently did not even like swimming. I was into the physics and computer modeling side of things.

3. I used to play piano competitively until I was 16 (started around age 7) and enjoy dabbling in drawing, painting and computer graphics (photo above: my electric piano, painted wine glass, fish and flower murals, tri t-shirt graphic). There just never seems to be enough time to do all my hobbies.

4. My wedding was pretty weird. Dave and I got married on top of the Naval Postgraduate School building where we met and both worked. I selected the music: Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries as the processional and Star War's The Throne Room as the recessional. Dave made our wedding cake.

5. I was a 2004 Balance Bar Grant recipient and appeared in the May 2005 issue of Runner's World for my crazy 21 Run Salute campaign in which I ran 21 marathons in 9 months to raise $21K for families of fallen service members and to support our troops. Now I'm just a slacker (but keeping it fun). Added: Fundraising is one of the hardest things I've ever done!

Lastly, I'm tagging the following five fantastic females:

MarathonChris - marathoner and master of juggling 20 things at once!
Christina - my cute little niece who's always on the go!
Molly - a fleet-footed, four-footed female with her own blog!
Petra - marathoner and an Alicia Silverstone look-a-like!
Bree - super mom and a sub-10 2007 Kona Ironman finisher!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Miami Man 2007

YES! Wetsuits were allowed at this year's Miami Man and I managed to squeeze back into mine, despite all the PMS bloating and extra carbs (candy) consumed this past week. Usually, I'm not fond of racing this time of month, but I recently read in the October 2007 issue of Triathlete magazine that a woman's aerobic capacity is at its peak just before and during her period. What good timing! Reading that article, I mean.

So I was all smiles before the race. I'd brought a flashlight so I could set up in the dark (the transition area was not well lit and several folks had to wait until closer to sunrise). And I'd brought extra toilet paper since the porta-potties had already run out. Everything was going well so far.

But, they weren't allowing spectators in the swim start/exit area, so poor Dave had to go across the lake to watch the swim. At least, the pressure was now off of him to try to capture me on camera between laps or finishing the swim. He could just relax and try to guess which one of the many neoprene-clad, pink-capped babes out there was his. No harm guessing wrong, I say, as long as there isn't any proof (photo).

And to make things even more confusing, the double loop swim course meant that faster swimmers would be overtaking slower ones and so various colored caps were soon spread out all along the course. In fact, just as my wave took off, some of the faster guys in the very first wave were already starting to come in for the second loop (see photo below). I'm sure they were just thrilled to have to swim through a big wave of 40+ women.

A little grabbing, elbowing and kicking I can handle but full contact swimming, I try to avoid. So I stayed wide of the buoys and drafted a little but found it easier to swim on my own for the most part. Still, I seemed to be moving along pretty well. I was much more comfortable swimming in a wetsuit this year thanks to the new freestyle stroke I learned from masters phenom Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen and practicing with a pull buoy. A year ago, I cursed the extra flotation the wetsuit provided because it threw off my balance and made my kick ineffective, which I relied on more than my pull back then, actually.

Yep, I was cruising and having fun. The hardest part was actually coming in towards the swim exit. Besides swimmers converging onto the little beach, there were some tall metal poles in the water to avoid head-butting. Everyone seemed to slow down. At the end of my second lap, however, I made the mistake of going faster (started kicking to get the blood flowing to my legs). I came up behind some guy who kicked me good in the right eye/goggle. Owwee!!

It was soon forgotten, though, once I'd looked at my watch and saw 48 minutes (official swim time, 48:17) -- woo hoo!!

But who stole my slippers??? I'd left them in the shoe/slipper area alongside this path we were to take to the bike transition area and now they were gone -- ARGHH!!!

Well, I didn't have the heart to take anyone else's so I carefully jogged barefoot along the path trying to avoid stepping on any rocks, sticks or worse. It was obvious that I hardly ever walk around barefoot. And I had much further to go than many, probably a good 1/4 mile, because my bike was positioned very close to the Bike Exit (far right side of the Transition area on the map above). Lucky me.

On my way, I saw some porta-potties. What the heck ... I stopped, took off my wetsuit and headed in. Besides having to go, there was much more room to pull off the wetsuit there than at my bike and my feet were screaming at me. By the time I finally got rolling, I'd managed to use up a whopping 7 minutes and 8 seconds :-( Notes to self: toughen up those tootsies and practice peeing while swimming (not in a pool, of course!).

But even with that ultra slooooow swim-bike transition, I had still had a great chance to go sub-6 *if* I didn't blow it by going too fast on the bike or messing up my nutrition. So I calmed down and got down to business. I really needed new slippers anyway.

The bike course was flat, pancake flat, with a double loop in the middle. Really, the wind was the only thing to slow us down (oh, and flats but, luckily, not me). It started out around 8mph from the north and got up to a steady 12mph a couple hours later with a shift in direction, coming from the east, that I didn't remember seeing in the forecast but was definitely feeling. Either way, it was much harder getting back to the transition area than it was heading out. Yet, I did not see much drafting going on, which was nice.

That is, until the final few miles. I came up on a couple riders and, sure enough, this one guy was tucked in right behind another one and I could feel my blood starting to boil. But as I got closer, I saw they were riding a tandem, a C Different race team with a guide in front and a blind racer in back. As I passed them, I joked and said, "Hey, from behind, I thought he was drafting you." The guide said, "He is!" And they later passed me back, which I was totally cool with.

The only unexpected thing that happened during the ride was that it ended sooner than expected (official bike time: 2:45:38). Not that I really wanted to fight the wind for a couple more miles, but the course had been advertised as 56 miles and my bike computer was showing only 53.8 miles. Weird. (And later, I'd find out that others also thought the course was short.)

But, there was still a half marathon to run and I knew I'd ridden the whole bike course so I just kept moving. I exited the bike-run transition in 2:49, one of my better T2 times, and headed to the zoo!

On my way, I saw Dave wearing his bright pink polo shirt. He was still hanging out near the transition area since he brought his book rather than his bike to this race. The run was two laps, mostly paved but there were a couple short unpaved sections outside the zoo that my feet were not happy about, still being tender from the swim-bike transition. Then my weak ankles joined in complaining with every uneven step. Man, what a bunch of whiners!

Early in each lap, I saw some wild animals that had escaped. Well, not exactly ... they were just large stuffed animals that were placed along the path near an aid station -- cute. Later, however, we did see (and smell) some real animals, in their pens. We ran past a big African elephant, across from which a race photographer had positioned himself. Good spot -- no one would look fat next to that!!

The temperature was "only" around 80 degrees but it seemed hotter with much of the course run on black pavement with little shade from trees or clouds. Or, maybe it was because I wasn't drinking the Accelerade that was being served on the course. But, there was no way I was trying it during this race. Better safe than sorry, real sorry from my past experience with an unfamiliar sports drink at the Olathe Marathon earlier this year.

However, I was consuming extra gels, taking salt caps and drinking lots of water. Around mile 8 (second lap), I made a full stop to refill my Fuel Belt bottles and was still well on track for a sub-6 hour finish. It was just a matter of hanging in there for a bit longer, playing a few more mental games with myself. Sometimes running a multiple lap course is harder because you've already seen the course before and know what to expect. Sometimes it's easier, for the same reason. I couldn't seem to make up my mind ...

Until mile marker 12. Then I knew it was all paved and partly shaded to the finish. There were also spectators around to keep me going. So there I decided to pick up my pace after having allowed it to creep up above a 9:30 pace the past couple miles. I passed several people but had no idea which lap they were on until the last 20-30 feet when the finish line split from the main course and by then, it didn't matter. I WAS DONE!!!

My official race time was 5:46:20 with a run split of 2:02:27 (9:21 avg pace), about 2 minutes slower than at Florida 70.3 but no complaints. I met my swim and overall race time goals, even if the bike course was short (a couple more miles would have added no more than 7-8 minutes). A big surprise, however, was placing 5th in my division and winning an age-group award, which went 5-deep. I love awards that do more than collect dust :-)

Thank you, family and friends, for all your support and your patience in reading this rather lengthy race report!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm ecstatic to say that I successfully met both my swim and overall race time goals at Miami Man today:

1.2 mi Swim (AG rank)48:17 (8/17)
56? mi Bike (AG rank)2:45:38 (5/17)
13.1 mi Run (AG rank)2:02:27 (2/17)
Total Race Time (AG rank)5:46:20 (5/17)

I'll get a full race report posted in a day or so. Dave and I are spending an extra day in Miami celebrating my 46th birthday!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

All Marked and Ready to Go!

Well, here I am down in Miami. Interestingly, they body-marked us when we went to check in our bikes today. I guess they assume we won't take a shower the night before the race. Luckily, I brought an extra Sharpie with me :-)

The weather forecast looks great, especially compared to what I had at the Health First Tri about a month ago. The morning will start out in the low 60's and get up close to 80 around noon. Wind is forecast to be 8-12 mph, manageable, but less would be nicer.

The big question is whether wetsuits will be allowed. They have been in the past but only will be if the water is 78 or less degrees, which won't be determined until race morning when the official water temperature is taken. Some of the folks were saying that it's borderline. I hope they'll be allowed!!

But either way, my goal is to finish this race in under 6 hours. I completed my last half iron distance race, Florida 70.3, last May, in 6:07:43. My main focus will be to get my swim time in the 50-55 minute range (was 1:06 without a wetsuit last time!).

I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lucky's Lake Swim

This past weekend I heard that the Central Florida Tri Club was doing a practice swim at Lucky's lake. I'm not usually able to train with them because they mostly work out at the downtown YMCA, which I'm not a member of, but this swim was open to anyone. Lucky is an avid local swimmer who encourages people to come swim in the lake at the back of his beautiful home. No lifeguards but wetsuits, pullbuoys, noodles, etc., are all allowed. Just make sure you can swim the 1km round trip distance.

To greet swimmers at the edge of the water, there are two small decorative alligators. Though Lucky's website FAQs mention that it'd be unusual to have a real one over 5 feet, it does say there have been some gators in the past and there may be now, as well as fish, turtles, snakes, etc. Great motivation to swim fast if you needed some.

But, really, no one was too worried. There are folks who swim in the lake every morning. I, for one, was much more concerned with whether my wetsuit would still fit (next Sunday's race, Miami Man, is usually wetsuit legal but I'd not worn the wetsuit much since last year when I was in Ironman shape -- gulp!). And being a full wetsuit (one with arms) and having a new swim stroke, shoulder fatigue was another issue in question.

So off we went into the dark green yonder. It's 500 meters to the other side if you swim in a straight line, which few people do. There were no marker buoys along the way so great practice sighting off landmarks. Both out and back I definitely noticed that I veered to the left (no line at the bottom to follow!). I'm not sure why since I'm right handed and pull stronger with my right arm but suspect it has to do with having better balance on my right side, hence the right arm will stay out in front longer, and also always sighting with my right arm forward, both of which will cause my right hip to dip down, in essence giving me a rudder effect of turning left. So this week in the pool I will do some swimming with my eyes closed to test my theory and work on swimming straighter. The lifeguards will probably get some amusement watching me. Why the heck is she all of a sudden swimming into the lane lines?

But after 2 round trips (2 km), essentially the 1.2 mile distance I will swim in my race, I was happy. The wetsuit fit fine, my shoulders were not overly fatigued, and I got some additional experience swimming in open water. It would have been nice if I had set my watch to keep track of my swim time but I forgot (doh!). I guesstimate it took me roughly an hour including the rather lengthy breaks I took on both ends to talk to others.

Before leaving I went to sign the wall in Lucky's backyard. Since 1999, it's been a tradition for swimmers who had completed at least one 1km round trip and the wall was quite full. I managed to find an empty spot towards the bottom and received a patch (first photo). After 98 more crossings, I can get a cap. As Lucky says, "the best things in life are free."

But, can you believe I later bought some leftover Halloween candy that was on sale at Walmart? I should be banned from shopping right after Halloween (and Christmas), especially the week before my period. Did I mention that I've got to squeeze into a little black wetsuit this weekend?!?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Planning Ahead

Though it's not quite the end of the 2007 season for me, I'm already thinking ahead. I have to. Starting next year, I'll only have 4 more years and 17 marathons remaining in my "50 in 50 by 50" marathon quest. Of those races in the states I have left to do, there are certain ones I want try to avoid (trail races and really hilly ones). OTOH, there are 1/2 iron distance tris I'd like to do in addition. Oh, and I want my 50th state marathon to be part of a full iron distance tri to make it extra special.

I need a plan to make it all happen!

So I've drawn up a tentative events schedule for the next four years. Like this year, 2008 through 2010 will call for 5 marathons and 2 or 3 half iron distance tris. In 2011, the year I turn 50, I will do just 2 marathons, the last one being part of the Redman Iron distance triathlon (2.4 mi swim, 112 bike, 26.2 mi run) so I'm giving myself plenty of extra time during the year to train for it. There'll be other cycling and shorter events too but these races are the biggies.

Future Events Schedule
KY Derby Marathon 4/26/08
DE Delaware Marathon 5/18/08
Hawaii 70.3 5/31/08
Patriot's 1/2-I Tri early Sep
NH C. Demar Marathon end Sep
ME Sportshoe Marathon early Oct
NM Rio Grande Marathon late Oct
Miami Man 1/2-I Tri mid Nov
MN Z.Y.Y. Marathon mid Jan
NJ Ocean Dr Marathon end Mar
ND Fargo Marathon mid May
Eagle Man 70.3 early Jun
Patriot's 1/2-I Tri early Sep
CT Hartford Marathon mid Oct
RI Breakers Marathon mid Oct
Miami Man 1/2-I Tri mid Nov
PlayTri 1/2-I Tri mid Apr
WI Green Bay Marathon mid May
WY Casper Marathon early Jun
Utah 1/2-I Tri early Aug
Patriot's 1/2-I Tri early Sep
MT Montana Marathon mid Sep
IN Indianapolis Marathon mid Oct
WV Huntington Marathon early Nov
PlayTri 1/2-I Tri mid Apr
VT Vt City Marathon late May
Barb's Race 1/2-I Tri early Aug
OK Redman Iron Tri mid Sep

Why Redman and not some Ironman race like IM Louisville or IM Wisconsin, which are also in the Aug-Sep time frame?

Three reasons:

1. I have family in the TX and OK area (none in KY or WI)
2. The Redman course is relatively flat, much like FL
3. I can save becoming a first-time Ironman for another milestone birthday (I'll be eligible for a Big Island resident IM Kona slot starting in 2015 :-)

So there it is. All that remains is to do it.

If anyone will be at one of these races, please let me know!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Other Marathon

Began on Monday, just a couple hours after I dropped off Dave at the airport.

Day 1: Fever, body aches.

Day 2: Stomach cramps, diarrhea.

Day 3: Same, but not as bad.

Fortunately, I'm an endurance athlete.

I gathered all my medicines, water bottles and other necessities (cell phone, laptop) around me, laid down in bed and hung on. Dave asked if he should come home to take care of me but I told him there was nothing he could do. Even seeing a doc would not really help, just had to let the bug run its course, which it did.

So today, the 4th day, I am finally feeling a whole lot better. I'm up out of bed and able to eat normal solid food again -- YAY!!!

Was this perhaps my body's way of forcing me to rest???

Having felt so good after my race last Saturday, I was (quietly) considering doing a sprint tri this Saturday to get in one last open water swim before Miami Man. But now that I'm in a weakened state, I've decided against it. My focus will be to get 100% healthy by Nov. 11.

Maybe I just needed a good kick in the gut to remind me ...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon

What a perfect race!

Great weather, beautiful course, wonderful volunteers. Very few but very friendly runners and spectators (this was a very small race). No altitude issues, ankle injuries or GI problems.

Man, what is there left to write about?

Well, thanks to all the photos that Dave took, I got over my initial writer's block quickly. Plus, the faster half of this race was going to count as my Phedippidations Worldwide Half Marathon, which I was running as part of Team Elijah, hence the yellow reminder band I'm wearing in the photos, and so I owed the team a report.

First of all, let me clarify that the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon actually starts in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and ends in Sioux City, Iowa. According to the 50 States & DC Marathon Group and 50 States Marathon Club rules (there are two organizations that track 50-states marathoner achievements), a race that starts/ends in two different states can count for only one state, you choose. I choose Iowa, since I've already run the Lincoln Marathon as my Nebraska marathon.

So this race was my 42nd marathon in my 32nd state (I've run more than one marathon in some states, obviously). The crowd at the start, however, was one of the fittest looking group of runners I've ever seen. That's what happens when you give 4+ hour marathon finishers an hour earlier start. Yeah, well, not to be intimidated, I lined up in the middle. I was feeling good and thinking there were probably some folks who just decided to sleep in an extra hour.

As soon as we took off, I settled into a 8:30-8:45 pace. Of course, I hadn't trained to run a 3:40-3:50 marathon recently (heck, I was only running 20-30 miles per week and very little of that was under a 9 minute pace with the heat & humidity in FL and HI). But, 30-40 degree cooler weather makes a big difference, HUGE. I felt like someone had removed the shackles from my legs!

So I chose to run by feel. As long as the pace felt easy and I could comfortably talk, I knew I'd be OK. Early on, I chatted with a guy who'd run this race last year and asked him about the hills (the course elevation map showed a few hills but had no scale!). He warned me that the ones between mile 15 and 17 were really steep. Well, at least they're not really late in the race. I hate hills much more after mile 20.

Approaching mile 6, we crossed a bridge into Iowa and then ran on a quiet bike path along the Missouri River. I hardly saw anyone on this stretch but was quite preoccupied by the gorgeous riverside view and some trees with leaves that were turning (I've never lived in a place with 4 seasons).

Around mile 10, we turned off the bike path, went past a big park, and started climbing up a gradual incline. Near the top was Dave, the first time I saw him since the start (he'd gone to park the car at the finish and rode his bike backwards along the course to find me). With his hi-vis yellow bike shirt on, I could spot him from quite a distance. By then, I'd warmed up enough to not need my gloves any more and so I gave them to him rather than carry them with me tucked under a shoulder strap.

He confirmed that the hills to come were steep, like the race director didn't like us runners (gee thanks, Dave). A mile later, I crossed the halfway point mat in 1:57:08. The two pit stops I made at mile 5 & 10 cost me a couple minutes each but the little break for my legs was probably useful. It was doubtful that I'd need to make any more, though, since I'd finally started to noticeably sweat!

And more sweat was definitely in store because Stone State Park, miles 15-17, was where all the "fun" was. The first hill was a real doozy, a good 14% grade (OMIGOD!). Then we had a little downhill and uphill to recover (Ha!). But lurking around some corners were a couple more drawn-out 10-12% grade climbs. UGHH!!

Fortunately, there was a guy not far ahead me. He didn't know it but he was helping me get up the hills. As usual, I'd attached an imaginary line to him and was using it to pull myself up. I was gaining on him slowly but, still, my pace took a dive down to a 12:22 mile. I may be slow but I will not walk!

Dave, being the supportive husband-cheerleader-photographer, was at the top of the last hill to give me extra encouragement. As I crested it, I passed the guy I was behind, thanked him and then began celebrating by pulling away, fast. I knew it was pretty much all gradual downhill or flat from here on out. Dave rode his bike ahead and caught me doing what Chrissie Wellington, the recent Ironman Kona female winner, did when she knew she had the race in the bag.

Miles 18-21 were my fastest miles of the race with the nice easy downhill slope helping: 8:22, 7:48 (whoops, a bit too fast!), 8:07, 8:16. I began seeing some folks who had started an hour earlier. Here I am next to a Marathon Maniac who has probably run over 100 marathons and plans to run another one tomorrow. And you thought I was crazy?

The course then flattened out as we turned onto a bike path that followed a little creek. With no cloud cover or shade and temps now well into the 60's, I was starting to feel plenty warm, despite being from FL. There were very few people in sight along the course or on the course so I was glad Dave was at mile 23 to give me a mental boost. More of the same until the last mile of the race, he told me (thanks again, Dave).

By now, some of the celebrating had waned and I had resumed an 8:30-8:45 pace that felt manageable but was definitely not as easy as before. Mile 25 was actually the hardest mile of the race for me because most of it was straight down the same road for something like 10 blocks. Orange cones for as far as I could see ...

But finally I got to that last cone, made the turn and then one more to see the finish line. There it was, only 3 blocks away. Anyone between me and the finish? Well, let's see, one guy and one woman, but both are probably out of reach ... Oh, what the heck!

So I did the traditional sprint to the finish. To my surprise, the woman slowed to run across the finish line with her daughter, who was only like 2 or 3. She made it easy for me.

Net race time: 3:50:15, a Boston Marathon qualifying race time (BQ)!
First 1/2 split: 1:57:08
Second 1/2 split: 1:53:07, 4 minutes faster!!
3/8 F45-49
8/46 total Females
51/166 total Finishers

But since masters awards at this race went 3-deep, I ended up winning a 1st place age group (AG) award. Always nice to earn some extra hardware!!!

Post-race notes:

Dave and I flew home a few hours after the race. My legs feel very good, probably the best they've ever felt after running a marathon. I should have no problems being fully recovered in 3 weeks for Miami Man. But I need to come up with some new race goals for the Las Vegas Marathon in early December. My original goal was to run a sub 4-hour marathon.