Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Doldrums

I am feeling a little blue.  It's funny in a way.  I completed my 1st HIM ever and feel great about it.  But there's something about it all that makes me sad or something.  Maybe it's because I don't have another race lined up until February or so.  Or maybe it's just because I'm really tired and recovering... and it feels wierd not to really have a workout - a 30 minute walk and stretching isn't really a training session.  Maybe it's the let down after months of building up to a super big event.

Maybe subconsciously I thought life would change somehow.  I'm not sure why I would think such a thing, but it's the only thing I can think of that would explain the post-race blues.  Maybe it's because Mr. Darcy has a deadline and I haven't really seen him since before my race and life seems to have returned to complete "normalacy"... I got home from the race, ate, gave out presents (which no one seemed overly excited about - I guess t-shirts don't get a hooping and hollering.  In Angelfish's case it led to crying and "I want a dress!"), and then Mr. Darcy went back to work on his deadline, I put the girls down to bed, and it's been business as usual (except with Mr. Darcy working all hours of the night on the deadline) ever since. 

But of course it would be.  What exactly else would happen?  The aura glow of a 70.3 Ironman following me around making me somebody different?  No, of course not.  Heck, half the people I know or talk to at work or at daycare or at a store don't even know what a HIM is.  (They'd probably think I'm referring to the Big Guy Upstairs with the HIM abbreviation.)

So it's the big deal that for most people, really isn't that big of a deal.  Of course, it could just be that I need a big nap and my body is so tired that nothing is all that interesting or amazing right now.

I'm wondering how to summon up enough energy just to make it to and through the girls' soccer practice this evening... especially since my legs do not want to run (or even walk briskly) and the only way the little ladybugs agree to play soccer is if I am out there with them. 

I guess I'll do it just like I did my HIM, one foot in front of another and take anything that comes along the way.  And I'll start plotting my races for next season...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Never Give Up - I am an Ironman 70.3!!

First, I apologize for not letting you all know my race number (which was 1391).  Everyone in my group had technical difficulties with their iPhone (the person forgot the charger), blackberry (the person's will not continue to hold a charge), or had a technically challenged phone (like me).  And for the evil guy at the race weigh in (I raced Athena 39 & Under) who told me to "stop eating McDonalds" when I commented that the scale said it was more than I thought ... I'd been at the doctor the day before and it was 5 pounds lighter.  I know I didn't gain 5 lbs in a day. You're lucky I only responded "I don't eat McDonalds" and not what I was thinking... my race result was in a small part for you...and besides I look pretty good!

I AM AN IRONMAN 70.3!  I am so stinkin' proud of myself and my group.  One person who raced with us and who is working on becoming an elite got a PR.  Those of us who were doing our 1st 70.3 all finished, and were proud of our times too. 

Here's my race report! (I woke up race morning with my song "Shiny Medal" in my head...)

Overall time: 7:39:27* (Reported time: 8:11:27. More on this later.)

1.2 mile Swim: 31:44

Before the swim start, I was so nervous I wanted to throw up and possibly run away.  But I kept trying to keep myself calm and to keep my flight response from kicking in.  I looked for Woman in Motion and found her when a friend of hers called her name... it was great to meet her in person!  Sherry is super nice and it was great to meet her. 

Then it was time to get in the water.  The water was COLD! And God love me, I didnt' think about where I got in the water and ended up in the middle with the fast girls.  I knew they were fast because I had met one the day before because she is a friend of one of the others in our group.  She's almost an elite.  But I couldnt' get out at this point and I couldn't move either because we were about to start.  It made me even more nervous to be quite honest.

Then we were off.  At first I was doing great.  Swimming along but then no one was breaking away from me so the bubbles and feet kept coming and there was no where else for me to go.  Then I hit a bunch of seaweed that wrapped around my neck and got caught in the wetsuit. So what happened?  I panicked.  God love me.  Coach and I have discussed that this next year I just need to get used to races with lots of people because I can swim fast when I'm not panicking.

And thank you to the swimmer who stopped and asked me if I was ok when I was just bobbing along.  It helped me realize I was okay and that I could do this.  After 2 big breaths, off I went.  I caught up with a lot of people who had passed me during my panic and ended up with 31:44.  I'm pretty sure I was at least bobbing and panicking for about 3-5 minutes, but who knows.

I was frustrated with myself as I left the water because I could have swum faster, but tried to shake it off and pull myself together because I was not going to give up.

T1: 6:22

Obviously there is huge room for improvement here.  Of course, the main reason my T1 was so long was... I couldn't find my bike.  I was on the right row running up and down and I couldn't find it.  Finally, I walked and found it.  My guess is I was still a little discombobulated from the swim.  I think I can safely knock of at least 3 minutes on this just by finding my bike (next time I'll put something brightly colored on the bar or something).  But it is what it is.

56 mile Bike: 3:44:00 (Avg. 15 mph)  Reported Time: 4:26:00

The bike.  When you drive this course (as we did the day before), it appears less hilly than it is.  The course really wasn't bad.  I enjoyed it a lot, but what was not discernable in the car was that the "flats" really aren't flat.  It's more like constant but minor uphills or constant but minor downhills are the "flats" and the hills are what they are... which turned out to be nothing more than 2% grades although some were short making it more difficult than others.  I rather enjoyed it.  There could have been better road surfaces - lots of cracks in the road with holes that you couldn't see until you were right upon them.  Luckily we had ridden the course (via car) the day before so I already knew about the cracks and was doing my best to avoid them - not to mention pulling on bike shorts over my tri shorts after the swim so I could prevent tender parts therefore letting me ride my best race.  (I slow down considerably when I am having pain in the saddle.)

The problem though was going up the hill right before the aid station at mile 18, my chain popped.  I heard all sorts of crazy noise and realized my back tire wasn't really moving.  I thought maybe the chain had jumped so I tried to shift (bad idea).  More awful noise and the realization that if I didn't unclip, I was crashing.  I unclipped safely and got to the side the best I could and walked up the rest of the hill.  It killed me to be walking my bike.  It killed me even more when all the well meaning people who passed me said "You're doing great! You can do this!"  I wanted to scream back at them "it's not me, it's my F'N bike."  But I didn't.  I'd probably be one of those encouraging people if I saw someone like that too.  I know this because later when I was passing people on the bike course who were having a hard time, I shouted words of encouragement to them.

Anyway.  I made it to the aid station (thank goodness this is where I popped my chain, right?).  Even with walking that last bit of the hill, I had done the first 18 miles in 1:06:04.  I looked at my watch when I hit the aid station.  I then talked to someone who radioed trying to find the bike mechanic.  I then waited and waited.  More than 32 minutes later, the mechanic had arrived, fixed my bike chain and the derailleur and told me that if I hadn't gotten off the bike when I did, I probably would have messed up my bike to the point that he wouldn't have been able to fix it on the course.

Thankful but a little frustrated in the lost time and all the people who had passed me, I was back in business.  I tackled the hills and didn't even use the brakes on the downhills.  Even the big downhills where I got up to 30.7 mph.  So that in and of itself is a major accomplishment for me.  I love the feather the brakes when I get scared and I didn't do it once.  Now, I didn't say I wasn't tempted, but I didn't do it.

Facing an awful headwind on the last few miles into T2 was something.  But I still passed a couple of people. : )

T2: 3:52

This of course should be faster, but based on T1 was quite the improvement.  I'm not really sure why it took as long as it did other than I think I may have walked part of the way out of the transition area without thinking about it, and then started running.  At least I found my spot easily this time. : )

13.1 mile run: 3:03:43  (1st 7 miles average of 14:33/mi.; last 6.1 miles average 13:24/mi.)

The run.  My legs weren't hurting that badly at first. On the 2nd half my hips would start to hurt and my back would act up during the last 4 miles, but as you can see, I ignored it the best I could.  It sounds sad, but I was running the best I could on the 1st half.  I had forgotten my electrolytes back on the bike.  Not to mention that at mile 3, I realized I forgot to pull off the bike shorts I had put on over my tri shorts to prevent an ouchy ride.  But I wasn't uncomfortable in them, so it didn't really matter.  I had my gels and was eating them every 2 miles or so as planned.

The water stops were not 1.2 miles apart as they said they were... and if they were, it certainly didn't feel like they were.  And they had given out all of the sponges to the early runners - 3 to a person.  No wonder there weren't any left for the back of the packers like me.

But I was not giving up.  I started the run around 1:30ish and I knew I had until 5:06 pm until I ran out of time.  I was determined not to DNF because of time.  I had made it through a 32 minute bike nightmare, this I could do.  So, despite having to pee I passed up all of the port-a-potties and had even decided that if I needed to, I would pee on myself if that meant finishing in time.  Luckily, it didn't come to that.

Coming up on the 7 mile marker, a wonderful, wonderful man offered me a coke.  Coach had told me that a coke part way through a long run was one of the best things ever, so I said yes.  I think God sent that man and that coke to me because after I drank half of the mini bottle he gave me, it was like I had a new lease on life.

The other person that God sent me was a lovely woman named Amy who was doing the race with Team in Training in honor of her father who 18 months before had been diagnosed with Leukemia and just that week had found out he was in remission.  I walked a moment or two with her, introduced myself and told her I did an event for TNT this year and planned to do one next year as well.  We came up on an army sargeant volunteering with his new recruits at the water stations who poured cold water down our backs.  It was awesome!

I told Amy I needed to keep doing my 4:1's so I could make sure I finished the race and invited her to run with me.  It was such a blessing that she took me up on it.  She was running faster than I had been but not at a pace I couldn't keep up with... and I tended to walk faster than she did.  The longer into the miles we got, the more we pulled each other along.  We did a couple of 3:2's in there too when the going got tough but we both were determined to finish and finish strong.  Amy made the comment at one point that it was hard to keep going but then she thought of cancer patients and how they always had to keep going even when it seemed so hard.  The rest of the race didn't seem so bad after that comment.

People we didn't know were out there cheering for us.  They saw us running our 4:1's and racers who had finished yelled things like "that's the spirit! Keep running!"  and bystanders who didn't know us at all would ring cow bells.  One woman looked at me and I guess I looked like I needed encouragement and she shouted out "You can do this!  You are an Ironwoman, I just know it!"  I yelled out "Thanks!"  As I passed her husband asked if she knew me, and I heard her say "No, but she looked like she needed a friend."  All of these people out there helped me finish without knowing it. 

Amy and I ended up finishing together and we hugged each other and told each other we couldn't have done it without each other.  We finished with more than 1/2 an hour to spare.  So, thank you Amy from Virginia!  Running with you let me negative split my run and have a great time doing it!

I can't wait to see the finish photo of me at the end.  I was crying but trying not to cry, so my face is probably distorted into a terrible look, but believe me when I say it was the look of victory and the emotion of the entire journey I have taken.   It was (and is) the best feeling in the entire world.

I'm exhausted and aching at the moment, but I am thrilled and happy.  I am an IRONMAN 70.3!

I already know what I want to do next.  This next year, I plan to work on getting faster.  I'm going to focus on sprint and olympic distance triathlons, I may do a couple of road races (running).  I'd like to work in some weight training (at least in the off season) too.  Once I get faster, perhaps in 2011, I'll do another Ironman 70.3.  I liked the race and enjoyed the distance, but I want to be faster and more ready.  I think the Ironman 70.3 was harder than giving birth, and it was an amazing experience.  My only regret was that Mr. Darcy and the girls were not there to see me cross the finish line, but at the same time I know it was easier on them all to be at home.  Maybe for my next Ironman 70.3, they'll be there.

They did leave me a wonderful message on my cellphone (they'd been checking the race tracker off and on all day) that made me cry.  As did Angela's sister, Anna.  I thought a good bit about Angela on the race course, especially the run, so the call from Anna was wonderful in 2 ways - Anna herself is great but it also was as though Angela called me too.

I am so proud of myself at this moment.  A year ago running 2 minutes straight was super hard, and now I am an Ironman 70.3.  Coach told me that 1% of 1% of the world's population does an Ironman 70.3 or farther.  And I am now one of them.... and I have a sticker for my car, a t-shirt, a finisher's medal, and a necklace (a gift from Coach and Missy) to prove it.  I will wear them all with pride!

One last thing that I cannot forget to say is Thank You to Mr. Darcy and to Angelfish and Ladybug.  They have sacrificed their time, energy and money into letting me have the time in my life to train and to buy those things I needed for training.   Without Mr. Darcy's undying dedication on Sunday mornings and mornings that he got the girls ready while I trained, this wouldn't have been possible.  That's why this is not only my accomplishment, but theirs too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Race Day Approacheth...

... and I feel great!  I have to pack still, but I'm feeling good about the race.  I put together my list of things to pack (I do this so I don't forget anything... Mr. Darcy likes to tease me.  He says my lists have lists.  But it's the only way I can keep my life somewhat on track!), necessary laundry has been washed and dried, and a pile of items to pack has started to form on the living room sofa (which will have to be moved before I bring the girls' home from daycare or it will be spread across the living room floor).  My bike has been tuned, new clips put on the bottom of my shoes (I wore the others out but luckily had an extra set of cleats from the 2nd set of pedals I got when I won my bike.)  I sat down and not only visualized a great race but even wrote it down as I visualized last night... which helped me remember a couple little details I forgot to visualize out (like how I'm going to set up in transition).  I did everything down to imagining what I would look like on the bike and everything.

I am ready.  Other than the packing that is, but Mr. Darcy has an AIA meeting and has to work late tonight so I'll have plenty of time to get the packing in tonight after the girls are in bed.

I plan to have a great race.  I've worked hard and I'm ready.  I even did 22 miles on the stationary bike in 1 hour this morning.  (Coach picked up my bike for me since we're riding together and she had to pick up her bike too.  The bike shop guys are racing too so if worse comes to worse, I'll get them to look at it again on Saturday after I ride it around a little bit.) 

That's not to say I have no nerves.  I am a smidge nervous but its more along the lines of a minor underlying tension than all out nervousness.  I'm hoping it stays that way until race morning when I don't mind some pre-race jitters as long as it's not all out nervous to point of puking jitters.  I need the nutrition to stay down thank you very much!

According to the latest race report, the river was re-tested and all appears safe.  E. Coli is no longer present.  So, I'm excited about that. 

Now all that is left is to pack, sleep, travel, sleep, expo, rest, sleep, minor Saturday workout (probably more to keep me sane than keep me moving), and then race day!  Oh yeah!  This is going to be great!  I've already decided that no matter what, I'm going to finish the race - my very first HIM - and therefore I will definitely be a winner, just for the journey alone... not to mention I've been singing my "Shiny Medal" song. : )

Next post will be my race report... either Monday or Tuesday.  "See" you at the races!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I have returned again...

Yep, I'm back.  Didn't really know I'd been gone did you?  Well, I had another business trip.  This time to DC.  Flying most of the day on Monday (what is with having to take 2 legs to get anywhere these days? I'd blame it on Orlando but a friend in NYC was complaining about the same thing.), teaching my seminar, and then the rest of the day in the airport.  I did luck out though, I got earlier flights for both of the legs of my journey.  The irony was that only Angelfish seemed excited that I was home earlier than expected.  Of course, the house was a complete disaster so that may have been why Mr. Darcy wasn't thrilled.  He may have been hoping to straighten up before I made it home.  Instead the mess (especially the dirty dishes on the counter and the leftovers that weren't put away) just stressed me out.  Not to mention being tired from all that traveling.  For some reason travel just makes me tired... especially airplanes.

Anyway.  My stress has found me.  I feel like the evil stress bunny from H#ll at the moment.  Of course, it may have to do with having to unpack, re-pack, deal with doctors offices that don't bother to call in refills, have a doctors appointment, reschedule the cleaning people (there's no way I can get this place straightened by the time they would get here to do the real cleaning), reschedule a hair appointment, have a performance review (mine) with my boss, do my regular work, take the girls to soccer tonight, get everyone fed and cared for, and visualize my perfect race day. 

But then my visualization might not work if they don't get rid of the e.coli in the river.  They're shocking the river with chlorine (the poor fish and wildlife) and they'll decide on Saturday after the re-test comes back as to whether we swim... but then the question is will they just eliminate the swim or make us run some and then bike and then the real run?  I'm hoping for an e. coli free river, but if I can't have that then I really just hope they eliminate the swim and have us get on the bikes first.  I can sure as heck swim 1.2 miles alot faster than running a 10K.  But on the swim, I'm not all that worked up about things there.  It's all the other stuff.

The girls soccer game this weekend was a mess.  Angelfish took the field excited to play and then had to go potty and freaked out because there was no potty on the field.  She never went back onto the field after the soujourn to the potty.  Ladybug refused to play claiming she had a headache (we think she claims she has a headache when she doesn't want to do things), so we talked about things a little and watched her teammates (the few that would) play.  I'm convinced the other team had some 5 year olds on it... either that or they have a market on growth hormone... these kids really were BIG and they really knew what they were doing on the field.  Meanwhile, our team of 3 year olds often had (thanks to the referee) a child holding the hand of a parent while running up and down the field (which is how I got Ms. Ladybug to play... she did great while I was with her).  Of course this morning, Ladybug announced she doesn't like to play soccer because the other children make her nervous and that she'll only play if Mommy holds her hand.  I had to remind myself that she is 3 and this is probably normal behavior at this age.  I told her that the best way to keep from being nervous was to keep trying to play soccer with the other kids because that was how she would learn how to play and what to do and that she would realize the other kids are just trying to have fun too.  I'm not sure she bought it.

Let's hope that type of thing will help with my nerves too!  4 days (including today) until the 70.3... I can do it!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Friday 15

1. I realized this morning that in my sleepy state yesterday I missed my 200th post.  Well, I didn't miss it, I just didn't do anything to celebrate it.  So here's a minor celebration: 200 posts means more than 200 training days.  I think I had an extra post in there once when I found out I was going to be in the infomercial.  (The infomercial should be coming out shortly.  As soon as it is available for public consumption, I'll add it to the blog for fun... if I can figure it out.)  Either way, that's pretty impressive.  I've swum, biked, and ran all that while... just a little over a year at this point.  Yes, I know there are more than 200 days in a year but I don't blog on weekends for some reason, so training days occur more often than blog posts.

2. I am looking forward to Augusta.  I watched an awful video of people at the Ironman Wisconsin where they didn't make the cut offs, and through my tears for those people, I have vowed that won't be me in Augusta.  Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed and send our prayers from our lips directly to God's ears on that one.

3. I don't have my bib number yet, but as soon as I do, I will let you all know so if possible you can follow along.

4. Someone asked me the other day if I was going to do a full Ironman next year.  To be quite honest, at this point, I don't want to.  I miss the time with my family on the weekends. While I like the training while I'm in it, I miss hearing all the things Ladybug, Angelfish and Mr. Darcy were doing from 7:30 am to 1 or 2 pm when I'm getting home. 

5. Besides the thought of 2.4 miles swimming then 112 miles on the bike followed by 26.2 miles running make me want to throw up just thinking about it.  I admire all those who chase it and achieve it, all those who train for it and don't make it.  It is an amazing feat and people who do it are amazing human beings.  I am just not yet crazy enough to want to do it... yet.  (I never say never.) 

6. I didn't do the run yesterday.  I emailed Coach, told her what I've done so far this week and how tired I was and she said to skip the run and if I felt good enough on Saturday to do 3-4 miles of running then.  Let's hope that doesn't do anything to my race day karma, but Coach knows what she's talking about so I did what she said.

7.  I swam 1500 m as scheduled this morning.  I have to say I still love swimming the best.  There is nothing like feeling your stretch all the way in your armpit as your reach out in your stroke followed by the sound of the whooshing water.  I got in my zone and realized that 1500m felt like childs play today. 22:38 for 1500 m.

8. I decided to sign up for the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon with Coach.  This is the reason why I never say never.  In a million years, or even just 6 months ago, would I ever have thought I would be willing (or able) to run a 1/2 marathon.  And this was kind of my idea. I thought about doing the Seaside 1/2 marathon but that would entail a weekend away from the family, hotel rental, gas, and the entry fee.  While there is no Vera Bradley bag at the end of the Disney Priness 1/2 marathon, there are princesses, and a kids 100m run for the little ladies where they even get swag like their Trimommy does for the 1/2 marathon.  And Mr. Darcy can be there, and we can (hopefully if reservations go right when Disney will finally let me make them) have breakfast with the Princesses at Cinderella's Castle after the girls' race. I'm pretty excited about it.. and remember, I don't even really "like" running, although I like it well enough these days.  Something about it is just calling me, plus the family will be involved. YAY!

9. Another little something to celebrate is that I called Angelfish's pediatrician because I never heard from the nurse about the new blood work from her.  Turns out they're automating their files and somewhere there was a mistake and they were supposed to call us (duh).  The doctor was really apologetic and I forgave her when she told me that the lab had mistakenly only sent the 1st page of Angelfish's blood work and that a week later she got the entire report with the full breakdown of her cholesterol test and while the total is a smidge high (187 where the highest is supposed to be180 for 3 year olds) that the breakdown itself was really good and we don't have to repeat testing until next year some time and that's just to keep an eye on it.  Whoo Hoo!
10. Saturday is the little ladies' 1st soccer game.  I can't wait.  It should be fun and funny!  I've already decided that if they don't want to play that is okay, but they'll have to stay for the entire game with their team.  They are 3 after all, and I never really liked team sports until middle school.  As a kid, I liked my swimming and tennis.  Yes, I was on a "swim team" but other than relays it's an individual sport.

11. I'm looking forward to the weekend.  Soccer with the girls, being with the family, some outlet shopping with my friend while our husbands and kids watch football and the kids play together, and a 30 mile bike and 6 mile run. If only the brick resulted in a shiny finisher's medal then I would say that it is the perfect weekend.

12. I've got the idea of that shiny finisher's medal from Augusta in my head and I'm not letting go.  But I have promised Mr. Darcy that I would not return from Augusta with a tattoo.  Not sure that I have anything that I really want to see on my body when I'm wrinkly anyway.

13. But shiny medals from races are another thing.  I need to make a place for them in my office.  I have a good idea of where I want to put them, though.  Right where I can look up from the computer screen and see the girls' artwork on one side, some pictures of them, and then my medals and of course, my age-group plaque(s) (I only have one now, but I hope to acquire more eventually.)

14. A few minutes ago I got a friendly reminder call from ESI about the 70.3 Ironman Augusta and that I need to attend a meeting before I can pick up my packet.  It ended "See you next weekend!"  My hands started sweating.  Good news is that I didn't want to throw up though.

15. Sung to Don Ho's Tiny Bubbles:
Shiny Medal (shiny medal),
in my hand (in my hand),
Makes me happy (makes me happy)
Makes me feel fine (make me feel fine). 
Shiny medal (shiny medal)
in my hand (in my hand),
Make me warm all over,
With a feeling that I'm gonna,
Love you till the end of time. 
So here's to the long bike ride,
And here's to the swim -ming,
And mostly here's a toast,
to finishing. 
Here's to the hot hot run,
I finished today. 
And here's a bliss
That will not fade away.

It came to me when thinking about that shiny Augusta finisher's medal and how great it is going to be to hold it in my hand come September 27th.  You may just hear me singing it along the course.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back from Phoenix and Getting Ready.

I feel like I've been on a plane or in an airport way too much in the last few days.  But let's back up a little.

Sunday I ran the longest run of my entire life, and I ran a good 90% if not more of it.  I ran 12.25 miles at a 12:53 minute per mile pace.  I had hoped to finish in 2:30:00 or less, but 2:38:34 was close enough.  I got up at an ungodly hour because we were at the in-laws and allegedly were going to leave at noon.  Let's just say that their neighborhood doesn't have any street lamps.  Seriously.  At most there were 10 along the 6.15 mile route that I did twice.  I asked my FIL about it later and he simply replied, "it's a gated community. Street lamps are for crime prevention."  As an early morning runner, I like my street lamps.  I also thought about my time when I was "enjoying" my ice bath afterwards.  2:38:34.  My dream told me I'd finish the 70.3 in 7:48:34.  I think it's doable.

When we got home (we never leave the inlaws when we saw we will) around 6 pm on Sunday, it was time to feed everyone, bathe the little ladies and get them into bed.  Then I packed for Arizona (and Big Daddy Diesel, I was in Scottsdale so essentially Phoenix - 104!).  I was really impressed with my packing actually.  I fit not only my suit and various regular clothing and trip items into a carry on, but I also added running shoes, running clothes, cycling clothes and my swimsuit, goggles and swim cap.  Not to mention my HR monitor and corresponding watch and Road ID.  Oh yeah!

Monday morning I took the munchkins to school and headed to the airport.  I always laugh about the Orlando airport.  If I get there 2 hours before hand, I am always sitting around thinking that I don't need to get there that early.  But if I get there 1 to 1 1/2 hours beforehand (regardless of time of day), I end up running for the gates because of security, missing the tram, etc.  So, you guessed it.  At 8:30 am I was sitting at my gate wondering why the heck I get there so early.  Luckily all flights were on time, and it only took me until 5:55 pm eastern to get there.  Of course, this was 2:55 pm Arizona time.  (They have their own special time zone because they don't follow daylight savings.) 

So, I decided that I'd put some time in at the gym.  I think I'm a little nuts because I decided to do my 25 mile bike and 3 mile run brick that day.  I guess I figured I had nothing better to do, but I seemed to have forgotten that I ran 12.25 miles the day before.  My muscles however did not forget and were not very pleased with me.  But, I got it done anyway.  Then I ended up having a drink with a collegue and was up until about 1 am eastern time.

Luckily I got to "sleep in" until 6:30 am on Tuesday.  Of course, I woke up at 2:15 thinking it was time to get up and had to trick myself back to sleep a couple of times (again at 4:15 and 5:15 Arizona time).  Looking back at it, I should have gotten up and done my 6 mile run.  I had the best of intentions really.  The plan was to sleep in and be well rested for the seminar I had to teach, teach the seminar, and then at lunch time go for the run (on the treadmill though because of the 100+ heat).  Well, it turned in to: seminar, lunch with colleagues, working on load of emails for work, dinner with colleagues that didn't end until what my body felt like was midnight (9 pm Arizona).  I was practically falling asleep at the dinner table.

But I did get up early Wednesday and swam my 1700m.  Then I had breakfast and hit the road to the airport.  I got there early again.  8:45 am for my 10:45 am flight.  There was no one in security other than TSA agents.  The 2nd leg of the trip home ran late because of weather in Atlanta, so I didn't get home until about 9:30 pm.  The ladies were still up... stalling Mr. Darcy about bed time... and heard the garage door and requested to see me.  It was wonderful!  They gave me hugs and kisses and loved on me telling me how much they missed me and how they loved me.  It was the great end to the trip.

So I planned to run this morning.  But the girls were so happy I was home they were dragging their feet about getting ready, eating breakfast, etc.  Instead, Angelfish wanted me to carry her around so she could snuggle with me the whole time and Ladybug was her independent self but kept calling my name just so I could answer her.  She told me stories about what she did while I was gone too, which was pretty cute.  They dragged their feet so well that Mr. Darcy had to leave to get to work and I ended up taking them to daycare.  By the time I got home, it was time for me to start work.

Thus the plan was to run at lunch time, but I am dragging.  Seriously dragging.  So I emailed Coach and asked what I should do.  She told me to skip the run.  While I'm glad to hear that because it's all I can do not to sleep at the moment, I'm afraid to skip it and do something wierd to my race mojo.  I should probably just listen to my body and my coach though.  I guess I'll let you know if I end up running... but it's not looking likely.  I definitely won't miss my swim tomorrow or my brick (30 mile bike and 6 mile run) on Sunday.

On the plane I read the September issue of Triathlete Magazine, and it was a good one!  All about the mental game and how to harness that power for races and training.  It was awesome and a good thing to read leading up to my 1st 70.3! 

Augusta is only 10 days away and I'm surprisingly calm.  Maybe it's because I'm so tired and I have all this work stuff going on that I'm distracted from it.  But when I think about it, I get excited and very, very minor butterflies.  At the very least I'm going to put together a list of what to pack so I can be partially prepared to pack.  I'd go ahead and pack now except I've got that DC trip to pack for first.  Once that seminar is taken care of, I'll be all set for race day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

TriBikes and Elementary Schools Do Not Mix

It is true, tri-bikes and elementary schools do not mix.  Okay.  Maybe I should clarify.  Tri-bikes and the before school traffic at the local elementary school do not mix.

I started my morning nauseas... I'm pretty sure it was from too much cake last night.  Yummy cake from Davis Bakery... our favorite bakery.  Yellow cake with strawberry preserves between the layers and strawberry cream cheese icing.  It was so good I had 2 pieces instead of just 1.  And I felt it in the morning, let me tell you.  But no vomiting, so I decided I had to go and ride my bike. 

It was dark when I left the house.  So dark that when I passed the Publix and saw that there was a police officer exiting his car, I hoped that it was dark enough that he couldn't see me... or that if he could see me he wouldn't care to take the time to pull me over and give me a ticket for riding my bike in the dark without any bike lights.  That kind of dark.  As I sped away (or tried to) at 16 mph, I was thrilled when he either didn't see me or ignored me.

I got through the traffic and on to my lovely closed road circuit.  I had it all to myself... probably because it wasn't even 6:30 am and it was dark.  As I rode along, I heard rustling and then a sound that if it was in a cartoon would have meant that some small animal was scolding me.  I looked over and there was a Racoon Momma with her Babies on the grassy side of the road, and in fact, Momma was the one chattering.

Despite feeling like throwing up, I was riding really well.  Guess that's what happens when you eat all your calories for the day.  I was supposed to keep at race pace - so between 16 mph and 17 mph (the idea is that while I can go faster I need to stay here because for me if I do the distance faster right now I have no legs left at all for the run) - and I was having a hard time not hitting 18 mph at times.  Luckily for me (I say with irony) a head wind came up, so then I was able to average 16.4 mph for the entire ride.  I would laugh when the wind would die down and I would look down and see 17.9, 18.7, etc. It was a much better ride than last Sunday... of course there were a lot fewer hills too. Hmm.

While it was still dark but slowly getting lighter a deer appeared.  A beautiful young deer that was pretty much as tall as I am when I'm on my bike and in aero (which I was).  I love seeing the deer run out there, they scare me too.  It's as though they're drunk drivers because I really have no idea what they're going to do next. I really don't want to be killed, riding my bike alone at dusk, by a deer who decides to dart out in front of me.  And this deer was CRAy-ZEE.  It ran across the road, down the median of the road, then back across, the side of the road, then back in front of me, and then finally back to the grassy side where it ran circles around the lake and then jumped the fence.  Let's just say I slowed down a little during this episode because I didn't want to end up as road kill.

Later, I saw two deer running and frolicking on the other side of the fence.  They had their side of the fence and I have mine.  It was all good... and they were beautiful.

Other cyclists started appearing (the sun had risen) and the first few sets of them almost jumped when they saw me.  I guess they thought they were so early they'd have the closed road to themselves... or I'm just that scary.  HAHA!

What does this have to do with elementary schools? 

Oh, yes.  I finished my last loop and only had about 2 miles left in order to finish the 35 miler, so I headed back home.  At one point, I thought should I just brave going by the elementary school or should I go the back way so I avoid the elementary school?  It was close to work time and the back way would be longer than the 35 miler and I didn't want to be late for work... so I went past the elementary school.

Seeing the traffic jam from the parents trying to turn in from every side and the parents trying to escape the school parking lot, I (at least) got onto the side walk.  I probably would have been killed if I hadn't been on the sidewalk, quite frankly.  As I approached the entrance, I unclipped.  I slowed but realized I might not have to get off the bike if I slowed just enough.  I waited for my turn, just like you would if you were in traffic.  But these parents were not paying attention to anything other than getting into that parking lot.  They were taking risks with precious cargo in their assorted variety of mini-vans and SUVs that I, frankly, would not if I had my children in the car.  This should have told me to get off the dang bike.  But, I'm a little stubborn.  I was at the point that the bike was almost completely still but I was still clipped in on the left side.  It was my turn.  I started to take it.

Either the driver of the lovely white Grand Caravan minivan didn't see me in my hot pink tri-top and on my bright red tri-bike, or she just didn't give a darn that I was starting to cross the road, and she stepped on the gas and went.  Luckily for me, I have a strong sense of self preservation and laid my bike down on the edge of the sidewalk.  I was going so slowly that it really didn't matter injury wise.  I have a slightly skinned knee and some minor scrapes (can you call it road rash if it happened on a sidewalk?) on my left leg (cuz it was still clipped in when I laid the bike down). 

It's a good thing I was in a good mood from the bike ride before this because all I did was pick up my bike, walk it across the opening to the school, and get back on it and ride away.  At this point, I was able to walk the bike across the street because every other parent in their cars saw me lay my bike and body down on that sidewalk and no one was moving.  Yup. Talk about embarrassing.

The irony is that as I laid the bike down, I saw my friend's car.  She was taking her daughter to school.  I emailed her later and told her I was the cyclist.  She said that she saw me and not knowing it was me thought I was looking rather professional on my bike but that I was taking my life into my own hands because elementary school drop off is plain crazy.  When I crashed she saw it was me and tried to get out of the car but was told she had to keep going because she was blocking traffic.  Good thing my body wasn't what was blocking traffic!

But I've learned my lesson.  Go around next time because tri-bikes and elementary schools do not mix!

There may be a small sabbatical from my writing over the next few days as we're going to Mr. Darcy's parents for the weekend followed by my work trip to Arizona to teach a CLE.  If I get a chance to write I will, especially since my next post will be my 200th post!  (I thought about doing a 200 item post and then realized that because I am loquacious by nature that it wasn't such a great idea.)  So, I'm not sure what I will do... but I'm sure it will unveil itself to me... probably while I'm writing it.  But not to worry the writing sabbatical does not equal a training sabbatical. 

A 12 mile run scheduled for Sunday (Thanks to Tall Mom on the Run for the encouraging Hi Five from her Blog!) and then whatever Coach has in store for me for the 1st part of next week will somehow get done in Arizona!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Darcy!

First, thank you to everyone for their supportive comments.  I feel like I have my own cheering squad!  And thank you to my new readers.  I get excited everytime I see another person has been added to the "follower" board!  Now for today's ramblings...

Today Mr. Darcy is 35.  We had a nice morning with the girls before rushing them into the car so Mr. Darcy could get to work on time and so I could get to the pool.  Not sure we were successful at getting them into the car so that we were actually on time though.  Traffic was a mess.  Not to mention I saw Mr. Darcy bump the back end of another car this morning.  Luckily there was no damage and no one was injured and the person he bumped was really nice about it. (Birthday present #1?) 

For me, a 2000 m swim ensued, made up of  4x500m (supposed to be negative splits) timed.  It was supposed to be a 2500 with a warm up and a cool down, but I was short on time.  And here's confession time.  I wasn't good yesterday about eating all of my calories.  And I wasn't good about it the day before either.  I've been good about hydration, at least.  Let me tell you, it showed in the pool today.  I negative splitted the 1st, 2nd and 3rd 500s and then my foot cramped during the last 500.  Uh. yeah.  So that made me a little slower on that last one.  Times were 10:16.93, 10:16.14, 10:15:43, 10:17.01.  Not so great.  One thing I know about myself though is that when I have planned workouts that contain negative splits, I always go slower.  It makes no sense, I know.  But it's been my history... like I know I need to save up my energy for the next one. But I felt sluggish in the water today and I think that's the nutrition. 

I hate to admit this, but I skipped dinner last night.  I just wasn't hungry. Then I had about 250 calories before the swim.  But after the way I felt in the pool and seeing that I was slower today than I was able to do last week, I am going to be on the ball with my nutrition.  I vow to eat all my calories (today that's 2511 calories) everyday - it may take some doing because the food I like (veggies and fruit) doesn't have a whole lot of calories in it, but I will do it!  In fact, I just had a bagel with cream cheese, an orange and a banana, and a v-8.  There will be a piece of birthday cake involved today too, so I will do it.

Last night's soccer practice was... well, interesting.  I picked the girls up from school, changed them into their soccer garb, fed them some sandwiches and watered down gatorade (which they like to call gator juice), and we were set.  Ladybug and Angelfish were excited.  They wanted to play some soccer!  They ran around the fields kicking the soccer ball and looking at the throng of people - parents and kids alike.  But we had to wait for the talk from the Y's athletics director first.  It's sad really that we had to listen to a "talk" about sportsmanship and the fun of sport for 3 year olds (directed squarely at their parents of course as they seem to be the bad actors), but so it was. 

Coach Mike seems like a nice guy, which is always a good thing.  Of course, any one who volunteers to coach 3 year olds at soccer has to be patient being to begin with.  When it was time for the practice to actually get under way, Angelfish and Ladybug decided that they didn't want anything to do with it.  They wouldn't run, kick the ball, or anything.  Angelfish even hit a kid in the stomach with her ball as she threw it and then refused to apologize.  Mr. Darcy took her to the car to discuss her behavior (and by the look of her face when they returned she may have gotten a spanking too. I'm not sure what happened.).  While they were gone, Ladybug got brave and kicked the ball into the net with the other kids on her team.  Then she did a couple of drills.  Mr. Darcy and Angelfish returned and all of a sudden she was not willing to play anymore.

Ladybug all teary about not wanting to play while Angelfish looks longingly into the distance...

But, I have to say...the girls were too cute in their soccer attire...

Before bed ... which I will say - they went rather willingly last night... wonder if it was the soccer practice... I love it when a plan comes together MUUUAAAHHHAHAHA!  Even if they didn't play much it still tired them out.  Whoo hoo!...

The importance of good hydration... watered down gatorade!

oh, sorry... yes, before bed, Ladybug asked me where Daddy's cake was for his birthday.  The girl knows there will be birthday cake.  I assured her that we were going to pick it up from the bakery after school tomorrow.  Angelfish wanted to make sure that Mr. Darcy would be getting his presents too.  I have a feeling Mr. Darcy will be fully spoiled with love today from his little ladies who love birthdays!

Mr. Darcy and I are having lunch today, and the wonder twins and I are taking him for a steak dinner tonight.  Of course, we're going to Outback which is family friendly, unless he decides at the last minute to chose a different dinner locale. 

(MR. DARCY BDAY GIFT SPOILER AHEAD, IF YOU"RE READING TODAY. Go to the next to last paragraph!)I got him the tennis racket he wanted (which is not a surprise since he showed me the racket and I told him to buy it), but at least I know it's something he'll like.  I think he'll be amused with what the wonder twins picked out for him (they get to "buy" gifts for loved ones from the dollar section at Target).  He'll be even more amused with what I didn't let them get him - a Hello Kitty coloring book, a jump rope, a plastic bag full of plastic worms, a flower covered notebook, a heart bracelet, and perhaps best of all a school folder with a princess on the front of it.  At 3, they needed a good bit of reminding that we were buying presents for Daddy and not for themselves.  Thus, the spiderman yo-yo, spiderman stickers, Ironman (the comic book character although I was secretly amused) crayons, and a dinosaur that roars when you press a button.   

The girls also got Mr. Darcy one of his favorite movies in the world on DVD... Back to the Future. They had a little bit of help with the selection of that one.  Ladybug had originally insisted that Daddy wanted a Barbie Princess video while Angelfish was angling for a Word World video.  Of the two, Word World is allowed in the house, but Barbie is not.  I've already caved on the Disney Princess crap stuff, but I have some things that I will not cave on.  Barbie is one.  Did you know that if she was a real human being she would topple over because 1) her feet are too small for her height, and 2) her breast size compared to her hip and waist would make it next to impossible for her to walk. Ugh. Don't get me started... let's just say Barbie couldn't do a triathlon.

What was I saying? Oh, yes. What more could Mr. Darcy ask for in a birthday? 

I hope it's a good one because I'm up bright and early for my bike ride that I switched from today, so he'll have the little ladies all to himself while I'm off riding my 35 miles at race pace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

17 Days and Counting

This morning started with an open water swim at Lucky's Lake. In my new wetsuit.  Coach said "you have to go try it out."  And so I did.  Of course, I had to use the restroom first so I rushed to put it on and get in the water because everyone was starting.  Um. Yeah.  You can't "rush" putting on a wetsuit.  I ended up with extra material behind my knee and the crotch of the suit being 3" below my actual crotch.  Yet I swam in it. Yup. Sure did. 

After the 1st length of Lucky's (500m although probably farther since I was having a hard time sighting in the dark - the sun is no longer up at 7:00 am), I stood on the other side and readjusted.  Better.  Back across the lake, I tried stretching out the neck a little.  It felt like the whole swim I was concentrated on the feeling of pressure on my adam's apple (or is it an Eve's apple since I'm female...).  The 3rd leg was better, more comfortable but I realized that I wasn't really kicking.  I guess the fact that I was so bouyant without having to kick made me subconsciously think that I didn't have to kick (aka to keep myself afloat and moving).  After a final adjustment of the neck of the wetsuit, the last leg back to start was the best.  I didn't feel like I was choking or like the suit was trying to make me shorter, and I was using my legs (although I probably could have used them more) and focusing on a nice stroke.

Taking the wet suit off was easy as pie. 1-2-3 and off!  If only I could get it on that way.  I didn't push myself overly hard on the swim today because I just wanted to get used to that wet suit.  If I had adjusted to it a little easier, I would have pushed to see how fast I could go.  As it was, it only took 48 minutes for the 2000m swim including all the stopping at the other end to adjust my wetsuit and check in with Training Buddy (who was also testing out his new wetsuit), rinsing off the wet suits, gathering our stuff and then wandering up to the car.  I would say that we took about 3 minutes at each end of the lake, and then it probably took about 5 minutes to wash down our wetsuits and walk to the car (leaving us at around 31 minutes for the swim). Not too shabby.

As we were leaving Lucky's Training Buddy told me about how he's decided to get a new bike and that now all of his mental imaging of race day was going to have to replace him from being on a red bike to being on a blue bike.  I said, "I'm impressed that you're already doing that.  I really need to get started on that too." And he looked at me like I had 3 heads and said "Race Day is ONLY 2 1/2 weeks away."

That's when it hit me.  Race Day is 17 days away... and counting.  That's really not all that far away... especially with all of the things that I have going on with Mr. Darcy's birthday and the weekend at Mr. Darcy's parents, then leaving for Arizona with work, followed by a work trip to DC, and then the race!  AY CARAMBA!

So I will start visualizing race day going very smoothly.  I'll also visualize crazy things happening and how I'll fix them - I always do that one at least once and follow it with the visualization of everything going smoothly. 

As for my 70.3 Ironman Augusta goals, I'm pretty sure I've said them before, but here they are again in order of descending importance: A) Finish in 7:48:34, in an upright position with a smile on my face.  (I'd love to finish in a shorter time than that, but I'm trying to be realistic in my goal setting. This is my very first 70.3 Ironman afterall.) B) Finish within the time allowed by the race officials, in an upright position with a smile on my face.  C) Finish within the time allowed in an upright position. D) Finish within the required time.  I want that shiny finisher's medal!!!!

This afternoon is the girls' first soccer practice.  It should be a hoot.  They wore dresses to school, so I'm going to have to get them changed into shorts and t-shirts, those cute little shin guard socks (Angelfish and Ladybug are so small that they don't make shin guards their size.), their tiny little soccer shoes, and their soccer balls.  They say they're excited, but I think I'm looking forward to seeing them all decked out and running around like silly things on the field.  I'm thinking there will be photos tomorrow...

Tomorrow is Mr. Darcy's birthday so I'll be moving my 35 mile bike to Friday so that I can be home with him and the girls in the morning.  Another swim thus is on the schedule for tomorrow. 

17 Days and Counting... at this time 17 days from now (it's about 4 hours and 40 minutes after my approximate wave start), I hope to be finished with the swim and the bike leg and on the run.  But first, to continue to train and prepare for the next 17 Days of life and triathlon!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Brick In Pieces

This Labor Day weekend was an interesting one.  Fun, not so fun, nervewracking (in more than one way) and inspiring all at once.

Saturday I had a rest day.  So we "rested" by taking the girls to Hollywood Studios at Disney.  We weren't sure what to expect but thought it would be different and hopefully less crowded than the other parks.  They had some cute shows and a few little rides, but nothing really to write home about.  The nice thing was though that all waiting was done in airconditioning, and the park wasn't so big that I felt like my feet were tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was THE BRICK, in pieces anyway.  Yes, the 60 bike and the 10 run.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that the 60 bike was in the hills of Clermont, including Sugarloaf.  Sugarloaf is a hill that many experienced cyclists have a hard time with the 1st time.  I'm not experienced.  Bike Shop Owner was riding with us and was helping me learn how to use my gears on hills (remember, other than knowing how to get on a bike and pedal it, I haven't been really riding a bike for even a year yet) and trying to get me to be less fearful and have more fun.

We did hills that were 3% grade, then 5% then 7% with some smaller ones mixed in, and then the 15% grade of Sugarloaf.  I was really focusing on those hills to the point that I forgot to pay attention to my nutrition, translated: I wasn't eating on the bike.  I had some major negative talk going on in my head with the 1st 5% gradient we did and as negative talk does, I ended up having to get off the bike.  I cried.  I cried because I was mad that I talked myself out of it and that I was crying.  Of course up the next small hill I realized I was shaking... so I ate and drank and boy did I feel better.  My cycling was better too. 

I made it up 2 hills back to back that Bike Shop Owner told me were much bigger than the one I didn't make and that he'd seen good cyclists only be able to make one their first time around.  Not sure if that was just shooting sunshine or not, but I felt better about things after that.  Funny how nutrition plays such a big role in things, eh?  I made it up the rest of those bad boys until we came to Sugarloaf. 

We came around the corner and there was no downhill to give you momentum to help you up to the top.  Nope.  I made it half way up and got off the bike.  I didn't want to get to the point where my mind was not nice to me again, or like another cyclist I know who got part way up and then fell over on the bike, so I pushed and then said "enough."  I don't want to get off the bike in any race or any workout, but I realized that it was about finishing that matters sometimes not my pride. (Perhaps that's why I had to crash my bike at the Moss Park Tri so I could finish dead last and still be proud of myself. Hmm.)

At the top of the mountain hill, I noticed that my back was hurting... pretty badly.  So I stretched it out and evidently laid in ants or spiders or something because I now have a line of bites down my arm with little pussy heads on them.  Let's just hope they're not of the flesh eating variety.  Then it was off again. 

I had made attempts to remedy my lack of nutrition and now was eating too much, so I ended up with stomach cramps.... once of which hit just under my ribs and shot down to my hip in the middle of a long hill.   Bike Shop Owner ended up holding the small of my back and giving a slight push as he pedaled his own bike while I was cramped up and still pedaling the best I could.  And this time, my legs were fine, my breathing was fine, it was my stomach!  More cramping ensued making the rest of the way back to the trail a bit slower than it should be.  Coach, Training Buddy and Bike Shop Owner were all really patient, which I totally appreciated. 

I can't say that the ride instilled in me a great feeling that I can finish the 70.3, but I asked Coach if she thought I could do the 70.3 and she said yes.  In fact, she said she wasn't worried about me and that if she had thought I couldn't do it then she would have talked to me about it.  I am taking that faith in me as mine.  If she believes I can do it, then by golly I can do it.

By mile 45 we were back at the start of the trail.  I was still having stomach issues and told Coach that I didn't think the run was going to happen.  She confessed she didn't even think we were going to make the 45 miles because what we did with the hills made it into what would have been a 75 mile ride on flat land.  We decided we wanted to at the very least finish our 60 bike though, and she said ok but wanted to get a quick drink from her car.

On her car, Coach has a Team in Training sticker.  When she got to the car, she found a napkin tucked into the windshield wiper on the back window that said, "Thank you for racing.  My son died at the age of 6 from ALS (Acute Leukemia Syndrome) in 1982."  Let's just say that poor Training Buddy was stuck with 2 teary eyed ladies at that point.  I forgot about crying on the hill (I embarrassed myself with that one) and the fact that what I just did seemed so super hard.  I realized that the person's son would have been just about my age today if he had lived, and it reminded me of why I started with Team in Training to begin with and why I am going to do it again in January.  The next 15 miles on the road seemed easy as can be... we even got up to 18 mph toward the end when we bumped into the Team in Training Century Ride team doing their 60 mile ride and we all finished up together.  Toward the end, I realized I could run that day if I needed too, but that I really didn't want to. I wanted to go home and be with my family.  Coach said we could postpone the 2nd part of our brick until the next morning.  She said it had to be in the morning though so our bodies wouldn't have recovered from the hills.  So I went home and spent the rest of the day with an ice bath, a nap while the girls were napping and then playing with them and being with Mr. Darcy.

Monday I woke up early.  4:30 am so I could eat and plot my 10 mile run.  I figured it out and headed out the door in the dark just a little before 6 am.  I ran and walked.  My hamstrings were tight as all get out and so was my lower back... even though I stretched really well before leaving the house.  I decided I would do what I could and set up a running plan that I called "corners."  I would run to a corner and if I felt like running more, I would.  If not, I'd walk to the next corner and then start running again.  A different sort of Galloway Method.  I hate looking at the watch, so I do this instead.  I ran about 1.5 miles before the 1st walking and it was just because of sore hamstrings.  I didn't walk more than 0.25 miles before running again.  I definitely ran more than I walked overall, and I felt pretty good but was just trying to pay attention to my muscles.  When they got really tight, I'd walk.  Then back to running once they loosened up again. 

Was I fast? No.  But, it was faster than I've done some of the other long runs that were part of bricks.  Of course, it was the next morning and in cooler weather (although still muggy as can be - I was pouring off the sweat and by the end of the 10 miles I was so wet my shorts stuck to me like I had gotten them right out of the wash without drying them), but I averaged a 13:53 mile pace which included sore muscles, tight hamstrings, and 2 times when I stopped next to a neighborhood garbage can to take my gels so I didn't have to cart the trash with me. I ran nice stretches of road and walked briskly.  I was pretty happy with it.  I had set a goal of getting the 10 miles done in less than 3 hours even though I was "doing what I could do."  I finished in 2:18:53.  That made me feel better about things. 

Coach emailed last night and said she'd been reading a ton of blogs about the Augusta bike course and from what she read she thinks that Augusta will be easier than the course that Bike Shop Owner took us on.  I am hopeful that is true, but one thing that I can say is that even if it is just as difficult (and I pray it is not more difficult) I can finish it.  It might not be pretty, it might not be fast, but it will get done.  And hopefully I'll be able to do the run afterwards (which will be a run/walk) in my case and finish that in less than 8:51:59. 

I'm still hoping for that 7:48:34 I dreamt about. I'll just break it all down in my head, like I did with my run, so that it's just A Brick in Pieces.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Fifteen

1. Due to a chain of events this morning (oversleeping, children wanting to snuggle, eating breakfast way later than I should have, not getting out to run until after 7:15 am), my scheduled 8 mile run became a 4 mile run.  The good news is that I didn't skip it all together despite the foggy, muggy, humid, and hot conditions (and everything else).

2. More good news is that I ran at an 11:24 mile average pace (which included walking for a little more than 0.1 miles while I took my gel).

3. Right as I thought that maybe I should try to run 2 more miles since I was running so "fast," my cereal (the breakfast I ate about 15 minutes before I started to run) decided to start to come up.  I  luckily stopped myself from throwing up in front of my neighbor's house, decided the 4 miles would be the end after all and vowed to never eat 15 minutes before I started a run again.

4.  I probably won't get the 2nd half of the run done today because I told Mr. Darcy I would have lunch with him.  I haven't seen much of him this week due to our schedules and his business trip, so lunch is more important today.

5. I feel guilty about not getting the 2nd half of the run done.  Especially after reading my friend Missey's blog and her coach's advice that what we do today will show us where we will be in 4 weeks and then on race day.  The positive side of this is that I used gels correctly on my run, drank on the run, pushed myself to run faster than usual on the run, and had good mental chatting (i.e. "you're doing great keep up the pace and see if you can go a little faster when you hit that hill over there.").  The negative... I only did 4 of the 8 miles.

6. My hamstrings were tight as rocks this morning when I woke up.  Thank goodness my lower back stretches have to do with my hamstrings.  Mr. Darcy said they'd probably loosen up while I ran.  I'm not sure that they did... at least not all that much.

7. I'm looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.  If only that meant I'd get to sleep past 7:00 am.  The little ladies are always up by 7 am on the weekends. 

8. I love that the past few days Ladybug has greeted me at day care with "Mommy!  I kept my underpants dry and clean all day!"  Now if only she'd do it while keeping her skirt down. (The child insists on wearing dresses lately.)

9. I love that Angelfish made me pictures at school the past two days and that she evidently has discovered the hole punch... either that or she's amazingly good at using scissors for a 3 year old.  I love that this prompted Ladybug to promise to make me "a beeeutiful artwork just for you tomorrow, Mommy."

10.  I love that our girls snuck out of their rooms this morning and laid on the floor in their playroom waiting for us and when we rounded the corner they yelled, "HI!" and then ducked under their covers to hide.

11.  Even better was when our dog (miniature schnauzer extraordinaire) dug both of them out and gave them "kisses."

12. Even better than that was when the girls took turns pointing at me and then Mr. Darcy while shouting "I love you!! I love you too!!"

13. Even better than that was when I asked Ladybug for a kiss before I went on my run and she gave me a look like it was soooo much to ask.  I asked her "Is it that much torture to kiss your Mommy?"  And she said "No.  Here's a kiss from me." and planted one one me with a smile.

14. Even better than that was when I asked Angelfish for a kiss before my run and she said. "OF COURSE!" And gave me not only a kiss but also a hug.

15. Now you know why I couldn't get out of the house and had to turn my 8 mile run into a 4 mile run.  Hopefully quality makes up at least a little bit for the lack of quantity.  Now to conquer the 60 mile bike and 10 mile run on Sunday! (I foresee an ice bath in my future....)

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Official. I have the brain of a triathlete.

Hopefully he/she isn't looking for it! HAHAHA.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed. Almost literally. I set the alarm for 5:30, but didn't get up until probably 6:15. I was so tired that for a brief moment, I had the thought of skipping my 25 mile bike ride. It was just a moment, and it was gone as soon as I told myself that I'd feel better once I got on the bike and that I'd feel even better about it when it was race day and I had those miles in my training bank.

So I donned my bike gear and then heard a little voice talking through the bathroom wall. (Our bathroom backs up to the girls' room and we can hear them talk while in there. Comes in handy for when you need to say "Be Quiet. Go to Bed." but are willing yourself not to go back into their bedroom that evening.) I wandered over to their room and there was Angelfish. She saw me and asked if she could get up even though the sun wasn't up yet. I told her yes, and she told me she was talking to her tummy and her tummy didn't feel very good. Turns out she was hungry. A potty break and a few breakfast muffins later, she was dancing around like the little morning sprite she is. Even got dressed while singing and laughing. The girl is a comedianne with one of those personalities that you just can't help but love. Ladybug was still sleeping since she kept herself up to 10:30 pm last night. I think she was hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Darcy returning from his business trip.

Once Mr. Darcy was dressed and moving about, I headed out to get my bike done. Except, it looked like rain. Even smelled like it too. I love living in a place with somewhat clean air. The smell of rain before it ever rains, that earthy yet wet smell. So, I got in the car and headed to the Y. I knew that if I got on the trainer the girls would distract me and it wouldn't get done. Plus, I honestly hate using a trainer. The stationary bike is not much better, but at least I can go faster on the stationary bike. I'm slow on the trainer. (It started to rain at mile 11, so I was glad I opted for the stationary bike. I know too many people who have gotten injured while biking in the rain, and this close to race day I don't want to take any chances.)

As I was driving, I realized that I am officially a triathlete. Why, you ask? Well, I saw a sign for the bakery that said "Long ride ahead? Stop in for a bagel with cream cheese and coffee. $3.99" Do I think of morning commuters? No, I think the sign is directed at me and my bike ride. I even think of the other morning cyclists that come out. Then I think about how it would be messy to ride the bike with cream cheese on the bagel and where the heck would I put the coffee. It would be dehydrating all that caffeine." And then it hits me (and I'm normally not a dense person), they're talking about everyone else. Those people going to work - in their cars.

I'm a triathlete with a brain on training. It's like going to law school. You enter your first year thinking like a normal person and by year 3 someone asks you a question and you can't give a definitive yes. It's a yes, but qualified by all the possibilities that could make it a no. When I teach a CLE class, I like to ask a rhetorical question and then joke with the audience: Well, since I'm a lawyer, the answer is "it depends." Then I talk about what it depends on and what other things we have to take into consideration too. Other lawyers find this funny. Non-lawyers seem to find it exasperating.

Now my brain is triathlete driven too. Long ride? Must be the bike. Water? Must be time for a swim or perhaps for hydration. Calories? What's the breakdown... is it a 4:1 ratio? Bagel special? Add an egg and it's all good! Cool weather? Let's go for a run! I have a feeling non-triathletes look at me like those non-lawyers. Mr. Darcy said to me the other day "why does it take you so long to figure out what to eat? It's just food!" But it's not. It's now fuel couched in terms of "nutrition and hydration."

Even though it wasn't the ride I planned, I did a good job on the stationary bike. I figured I should increase the resistance level today in an attempt to mimic what the road is like. So I ranged from level 9 to level 15 (out of a possible 20) during my session. I primarily stayed in level 10 and 11, but have to admit that on some of the downhills I cranked it up to 15 here or there, and that on the 1st giant hill that went to the top of the screen, I put it in 9 part way through because my legs were feeling super tight. I figured it was like changing gears. I also discovered that you can't stand up and pedal on a stationary bike. I tried before lowering the level from 12 to 9 for that big hill. Even so, I blew my regular times away for riding. 25 miles in 1:10:06. 22 mph average. How I would love to do that in "real life" on my bike on a hilly course. I had visions of professional triathlete status and people cheering me in while the ESPN announcers commented "and she only started triathlons at the age of 33!" Yes, I was thinking big this morning.

Afterwards I got my bagel special and ran in to one of the Moms from daycare (who I really, really like. Very nice and funny woman. A dancer and a physical education teacher.). I always laugh when I run into people after a training session because even with deodorant on, I know I stink. Luckily, she knows I'm a triathlete and that I train before work. We ended up talking about how alot of the kids she teaches can't even touch their toes and they're in middle school, and then flexibility and running.

Then it was off to work. You know that thing that pays my bills. Not the next training session.
Oh, and my 3rd place age group award for my last Olympic Distance arrived... isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A More Peaceful Morning

Thank God that this morning was much more peaceful than yesterday! I didn't get to swim this morning, but I'm hopeful for a lunch time swim again today. If I did it yesterday, I should be able to get it done today. (Please Fate, turn your head from that little comment. )

Last night as I laid the girls down to bed, I asked them to make good choices for the morning. I asked them to choose to listen to their Mommy, to use the potty and get dressed nicely, and to wake up and choose to be happy. I told them that I would work on listening to what they said too and that I would work on being more patient. Yesterday afternoon was free of kicking and hitting, but I was short on patience and they were not listening overly well. We had a nice time watching "Word World" before bed though.

Then once they were in bed, I prayed. While I am not a big proselytizer, I need to share what happened next because it's as though God is talking to me. I asked for the strength to be more patient, to not be so quick to get frustrated, and to be shown the path to be a better parent. I was not feeling like the greatest Mom last night. Then I opened my Bible randomly. I do this from time to time and every time I read something that makes me feel like God is talking to me. Sort of like Gabriel Betteredge (the House Steward) does with Robinson Crusoe in The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, if you've ever read it. (And if you haven't and like mysteries, I really recommend it. It was one of the first mysteries written.)

What I read said to seek solace in and find strength in God. That reminded me of the video that I saw last week of Team Hoyt doing an Iron Man on the Blog "My Life as a TriMommy." Then this morning I received an email from my old hairdresser in Atlanta and it too ended with the quote from Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." If that isn't a neon sign from God, I'm not really sure what is.

So to say the least this morning I am feeling blessed despite not getting to swim. I enjoyed my time with Angelfish and Ladybug this morning and am feeling thankful to have them in my life. Mr. Darcy appears to be missing me today because he left me a voice mail message while I was out taking the girls to daycare, then sent me an email with a picture of him from his cellphone saying "Thinking of You, "and then another with a picture of the conference room where he'll be spending his day of meetings. It is good to be loved.

I also discovered in my sleep that I'm upset with the owner of the bike shop I frequent. He is a nice person but a bit of a cycling snob and has a high opinion of himself. A few months back he wanted to swim with me so I could help him improve. I agreed and gave him the time and place of my next swim workout. He was shocked that I swam "over there" and I told him that I live "over there" (which I had told him several times before). I asked him didn't he ever wonder why I was always saying to him that it would take me about half an hour to get to his shop. His response was (and you can tell that this has bothered me subconsciously because I remember all of these details): "Well, you swim slow, bike slow and run slow, so I figure you just drive slow too."

At the time I just let it pass because these are the types of things he says from time to time. He also will ask you how much you weigh and tells you if he thinks you are losing weight. Evidently he also made some comment to Coach that the wetsuits wouldn't fit her or I because they'd be too small. So, he thinks we're fat too. In my case, fat and slow. Let me tell you how tempted I am to burst his ego with the fact that the wetsuit that worked for him is a WOMEN's size 12-16. He'd probably refuse to wear it afterwards, so I'm not going to do it because I'm trying to be the better person. But I find it funnier than can be. Normally it wouldn't be amusing but with the way his personality is, it makes it very funny.

He's supposed to ride with us during the 60 mile bike portion of our 60 bike/10 run brick this Sunday. Perhaps that's what set my subconscious off. In my sleep I told him what was what and that I could swim circles around him. In the dream, I used some words that my mother would call "sailor talk" to do so. I laughed about the dream when I remembered it yesterday while swimming, but it also told me something. Even my subconscious thinks that I can do the 70.3 and I'm not about to let anyone tell me differently.

So perhaps this is a morning of revelations. One much more peaceful than yesterday's. And I still plan to swim... at lunch time. (Update: I did my swim at lunch... 36:34 for 2000m! This eating all my calories thing must work.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tempting Fate?

This has been a morning and a half already. I think there may be some sort of charmic conspiracy to see how dedicated I really am to getting my workouts done. Perhaps I threw down the gauntlet to Fate without knowing it when I said I was committed to making each and every training session. I know she likes a challenge and has a rather unique sense of irony. Is that what it is? If so, I'd like to find a way to distract her or apologize or whatever I need to do because breaking down in tears over children's shoes really isn't becoming (even if it did get Ladybug to stop being so completely evil this morning).

Last night was supposed to be a 1 hour track practice with the Team in Training marathon team. I got there in plenty of time, as did the storm that was brewing. At first it looked like it would keep moving and we might get a little rain, but nothing we couldn't handle. About 3 minutes later, the lightning started and the thunder told us (along with the ever brightening bolts of lightning) that the storm was getting closer. Coach told us to go home and told me to try to get my workout in at our house if the weather was okay. Well, I got home in time for the storming to start at the house. So I dropped my bike off at home (it wasn't letting me change into the large chain ring and almost made me crash trying... turns out a bolt was just too tight) and headed to the YMCA. I was a woman on a mission. Determination was my middle name.

I finally found a parking spot, got inside and ALL of the treadmills were taken. So I resorted to an elliptical machine for 6 1/2 minutes until someone finished and I pounced on the open treadmill. Finished my 15 minute warm up and then started my 5 minutes x2 of race pace, which I did at 11:32 because I figured I needed more speed (even though on the road race pace has seemed to workout to be closer to 12 minutes) and because it was a hopeful race pace. 1 minute of recovery and then back to race pace for the last 5 minute interval. Then 15 minutes of cool down that turned into more of a 13 minute pace for 22 minutes because I figured I had to use the elliptical machine so why not. Even with the warm up and the 1 minute of recovery, my overall pace worked out to be 13:38. I was pleased. Not only did I avert missing a training session, but I did it well.

This morning started with Mr. Darcy getting up at 4:30 am. Mr. Darcy never gets up at 4:30 am unless maybe a round of golf is involved or a puking child. There was no round of golf, and (thankfully) no puking child either. Mr. Darcy was going into work to finish a few things before his 8:30 am flight to Fayetteville, NC. Only later would I discover that he took the girls' new sneakers with him.

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. I wanted so badly to sleep. Evidently it was going around because after stretching and getting dressed for my morning swim session, I tried to wake the girls. Angelfish clung to me like saran wrap and was sweet as could be. (This is the same child who got upset with me last night because she was talking up a storm at bed time and I told her to be quiet. She responded, "Mommy, I'm trying to talk to you and you told me to be quiet. I want to talk to you. That's not very nice." How guilty does that make you feel? Even if I know she needed to go to bed.)

Ladybug on the other hand... at one point she started talking to me as though I were hard of hearing - loud and very slow: "I. Don't. Want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed. I. Want. To. Sleep." I remained calm, told her I wanted to have a nice morning with her before we had to leave for school and asked her to please make the right choice to get out of bed and get dressed. Let's just say her response was less than cordial and I ended up being screamed at, hit, punched, and kicked by a raging 3 year old. A spank did not cure the problem. So, I got her dressed and strapped her into the car seat leaving her to rage (while I had an eye on her from inside the house - she was in the garage with the garage door closed, the car off, the mini-van door open and the house door open) without beating me up.

It was this very moment that I realized the girls shoes were missing. And that it was now already 7:32 am. I called Mr. Darcy, who was in a rather grumpy mood. Two grumpy moods at this point do not make for a friendly conversation unfortunately. He yelled, and I hung up. I talked Angelfish into her old sneakers but for the life of me could only find one of Ladybug's old sneakers in the house. Goodness only knows where it is. I found a pair of dress shoes that are too small but that that Ladybug can wear until the other sneaker is found (it's too small too, but at least it's bigger than the dress shoes) or until Mr. Darcy returns from North Carolina with the girls' sneakers.

Ladybug finally calmed down and said she wanted to come inside. So, in she came and was pleasant enough using the potty and getting yogurt and milk for breakfast (yay, calcium!). Angelfish then decided that she wanted the dress shoes that I was going to put on Ladybug and threw her own tantrum and untying her shoes. It's 7:45 am at this point and I've gotten to the end of the rope that I've been so desperately clinging to still in the hopes of salvaging the morning and turning it from stressful into blissful. Well, I got to the end of the rope and fell into the abyss.

I don't generally scream at my children, but I did. I screamed that I had enough and they were going to wear the shoes I told them to wear. I screamed that I needed to get a swim in for my race that was coming up and now I couldn't because I had to still take them to school and go to work. And then I stood in the middle of the room and cried. I'm not a big crier, but there I was standing there crying. Crying because I couldn't find that dang sneaker, because I couldn't get my swim in before work, because I still had to figure a way to pull myself together so I wasn't screaming at my kids, because I felt like I was a bad mother for having to strap my child in the car to prevent her from hitting and kicking me after I did all I could to gently wrestle her into her clothes. I cried and said, "I just can't find the other shoe."

Something about it spoke to Ladybug. Angelfish said something about her shoes and Ladybug told her she needed to wear them because Daddy took their shoes to his meeting. Angelfish said "Mommy's silly." Ladybug told her in a very strict sort of way "No she's not. She's sad." and then told me she'd wear the dress shoes. Thank God for small miracles.

By 7:55 am, we were fully clothed and shod and sitting in the car headed to daycare. While there was no hope left of getting my swim in before work at 8:30 am, there was at least hope for familial peace. When I got home from daycare, I discovered Mr. Darcy left me a nice message about being sorry that our call earlier hadn't gone well and that he was about to get on the plane. That made me feel a little bit better too. I'll still have to apologize for my part in the not so friendly call when he calls later.

Now I'm holding out hope that something else will catch Fate's eye much more interesting than my vow to not miss any more training sessions before the race so I can get my swim in during my lunch hour today (which would mean I would actually take my lunch hour instead of working through it like usual). Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed!!

(Update: I got my 2000m in! I must have been in a hurry because I did it in 39:24. Pretty fast for me! Now if I can do that before the aid of the current in Augusta...)