Friday, November 30, 2007

Temptation

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???

PLEASE!!!

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!

GO GIRLS!!!

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)
T17:08
56? mi Bike (AG rank)2:45:38 (5/17)
T22:49
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?!?