Monday, July 27, 2009

Down the shore

There is a columnist named Steve Duin who works here at The O. He is from the Philadephia area and spent his summers growing up in Ocean City New Jersey. He still goes there every summer with his kids, who are now grown. Every once in a while, Steve writes a column about New Jersey. Sometimes is the shore, sometimes its Bruce Springsteen, but it always makes me homesick.

In his recent column, you can read here
Steve talks about summer at the shore. He talks about Wawa coffee and the newspaper. He talks about the Ninth Street Bridge and how you can smell the salt water. Just reading this makes me homesick. I can see it in my mind - driving down the shore, getting close and breathing in the first whiff of that salt water smell. I can hear the seagulls and feel the humid air.

I love it when he writes these stories, they catch me off guard and bring back the best memories. Thanks Steve, I'll be smiling about this all day long. Because as Bruce says "down the shore everything's alright".

17 down, 3 to go.

It is so hard to believe that we are only three weeks away!
Last weekend was a killer - 15.5 miles on Sat followed by a sprint tri on Sunday. This week, I took Monday off. I just needed a break. I felt pretty good the rest of the week, not so tired, like I have been. I mean, I was tired, just not exhausted. I wasn't so hard to get up and I wasn't dreaming of bedtime all day long!

Here are the totals for this week:
1 hr and 15 min of swimming
4 hrs and 10 min of cycling
4 hrs and 20 min of running
2 hrs of weights/ab workouts
for a grand total of 11 hours and 45 minutes

Our run on Sunday was 10 miles and I swear, it felt like 4 or 5 - it went so fast! It was hot out so maybe I was just having a heat stroke!!

Both of our swims this week were in the pond and both were very relaxing. I felt like I was in my own world, quiet and calm. I actually enjoyed it!! Looking forward to another great week!

The lesson in everything.

I believe there is a lesson in everything that happens to you. You may not recognize the lesson, you may not want the lesson and you most likely don't think you need the lesson - but most of the time, its there. I also think that the Universe will keep at you until you learn the lesson. Let me just say that the Universe has got to be exhausted with the lessons it is trying to teach me. I am a a slow learner. I think I recognized the lesson this weekend...

I am a planner. I like to plan, actually I have to plan. Then, I expect my plan to be followed. I am not a "go with the flow" kind of gal. I got nuts when things are off plan. I don't roll with the punches and I don't make the best of things. I am married to a wonderful man who is very flexible, who finds the humor in everything and who tolerates what he recently called - my obsessive compulsive behavior. Sometimes I say to him "what I am going to ask you to do may not make sense, but I need you to just do it and not ask me any questions". Usually, he compiles. I think I've gotten better over the years, he probably thinks I'm getting worse.

It all started Friday night - I don't know why - but it did. Probably just setting us up for the weekend. I was carrying the laptop computer from the living room to the office and somehow lost my grip on it. It came crashing to the ground and the corner landed squarely on my foot. Ouch! I thought I broke my foot and there is a pretty good bruise there. Wow, that hurt. I had a flood of panic that I wouldn't be able to ride or run on Saturday morning.

We got up Sat and my foot was red and sore, but ultimately, it was okay. We headed to the pond to do a few laps and then head out on the bike. Trevor and I both just purchased heart rate monitors that are super awesome. They've been our guide the past few weeks. Trevor's broke earlier this week. When I got out of the water, it looked like mine was breaking too. I found this incredibly disturbing.

Trevor had to be at the store, so he could only ride for about an hour. I was going to ride for three hours. My plan (because I always have a plan), was to start the ride and then Trevor could just turn around and come home when he needed to. Trevor was not up for this plan because he didn't know where I was going to take him, so he wasn't sure he would know the best way home. At the time - this really annoyed me. Thinking about it now, I realize that I am the one with the plan - Trevor goes where ever I chose to go - he hops on his bike and follows me - he doesn't have to think about it or worry about where we are. So, really, its my own fault. But at the time, I was more concerned with my plan and how this change would affect it.

Instead of going with my original plan, we took a different route - more of a loop, that way I could bring Trevor home and then head back out. We were riding along and I heard Trevor yell to me, he had lost his water bottle. I pulled over to stop and wait for him. I unclipped my left shoe and then turned to look over my right shoulder. I then proceeded to tip over to the right, I couldn't get my right foot unclipped fast enough and so BAM, onto the ground I went. My leg was scratched, my hand hurt, my handlebars were bent, my water bottle holder came loose. I was angry and annoyed. Of course, this would not have happened if we had stuck to my plan. The Universe was trying to tell me that people get hurt when we don't follow my plan. Right?

I don't understand why Trevor didn't get on his bike, ride back to our house, pack up my stuff and dump it on the lawn. Probably because he knows that I wouldn't leave and that if he tried to leave, I'd follow him.

We had about 20 more minutes to get him home. I realized that my chain was skipping. When I fell, it messed up the gears. This would make for a difficult ride. Ugh. I dropped Trevor at home and kept going - I tried to stay away from the big hills because my gears would just change on their own and I didn't wan't to fall again. Of course, every time the gear changed, I wanted to cry. Then I'd look at my watch, which was breaking too, and that made me want to cry.

I was almost home and had to go up one super big hill. I got off my bike and walked it because I did not want to risk it. About half way up this hill, a man on his bike came up behind me and asked if I was okay. I told him yes, that my chain was skipping and I was almost home. He asked if I wanted him to take a look. I thought "right, because you'll be able to fix it?" but I said "sure". We pulled off into a driveway. I held his bike while he worked on mine. In about 3 minutes, he had fixed it. Now I really wanted to cry....

This guy probably had a plan for his day - how his ride would go. But he stopped and helped me. I didn't know him, I may not ever see him again, but he helped me. I thanked him, he got on his bike and rode away. He told me to stop by the local bike shop, ask for Jesse and tell him that Tim sent me. I rode the rest of the way home and my chain didn't skip even once.

At this point, my tension all went away. I wasn't annoyed anymore. I actual thought "okay, Universe, I got it." A plan is great, but I really need to work on being more flexible, rolling with the punches, making the best of things, acknowledging other people.

I stopped by the bike shop and Jesse got me all set up. Turns out Tim is his neighbor. I'll be dropping off a thank you present for Tim later this week. I just can't get over how awesome it was that he stopped to help me.

We made it through the rest of the weekend without incident. The lesson got through this time. I just need to remember to tap into this when my plans fall apart in the future. As Denis Leary says in the movie The Ref "Welcome to the real world kid, where things don't always go your f-ing way". So True. So True.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Reason

I was cleaning out the word documents in my computer and found the following. I copied it off of some blog I read last year, back before we decided to do triathlons. I hadn't yet learned to swim, but I was thinking about it, wondering about the possibilities. I read this and it spoke to me. I read it now and it has even more meaning. If you wonder why, as I often do, this may help...

When bobbing around the water, waiting for the world to turn, with the music blaring and the crowds gathering and the mass of swimcaps all around - we are, each of us, a tiny universe - with a story, a purpose. We, each of us, have somebody up there who's breath won't return until they see us safely out of the water. We each answer to something other than ourselves in answering why we are here. It is never a simple thing. And when you toe that line, in the instant before you step into the water to Take Your Mark, you are their ambassador. You represent everybody who believed, or doubted. Who showed up because of, or in spite of. You cross for everybody who hasn't crossed yet, who will one day, and who never would. And you can either pull that weight, or let it pull you.

Because if you know not suffering, or anger, or defeat; if you've never felt like you are more than who you are; if you've never asked yourself what you are truly made of - what absolutes live inside you, and resolved to discover what...well then, of course you'd never be interested in the first place. It is a thing we all have in common out there - a determination, a requirement, to be Who We Are Instead.

Yes, it is. It is that big of a deal. It is that hard. It really is. That's sort of the point.

The rest are just details. The rest figures itself out. There's never a "good time". It's never going to ideally suit your universe. You'll never think to yourself, "Geez, you know what I'm in the mood for? Madness." It will always be hard, you will always have to work to find the balance, it will never make sense to everybody, often not even yourself. And that, too, is part of the journey, and part of the forging. If you have to talk yourself into it, then wait until your time comes. Until you're drawn in. Until the current takes you. But if you're just making excuses...well then. Life is short. Get in already.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Girlfriends & Dudes Sprint Triathlon Race Report

First, let me say, I wasn't too sure about this event. This week has been a recovery week, which is good, but the day before was a long run. We had our 25K benchmark with our marathon training group. That's 15.5 miles on Saturday, the day before the triathlon. I was a bit concerned that my body would give out.

We did this same course about a month ago and it was not a good experience. The swim was a disaster, so I had that in the back of my mind. I've put a lot of distance between my swimming then and my swimming now, so I was holding out hope that things would be different this time. And man, were they different.

One main difference was the timing. The last event was at 5 pm - this event was a 9 am. I do much better in the morning! It was nice to get up a little later and take our time getting out there. We were sponsoring the event too, so we needed to get there and get our race gear set, as well as our booth.

We got to the site in plenty of time. There was time to spare! We knew quite a few people and got time to visit with all of them. Before we knew it, it was time to start.

Here is our booth - right by the exit from the swim and the finish line!

This is a down river swim. We walked 1/2 mile up river to the swim start. Here we all are.

There were three starts. A charity start, a women's start and then a men's start. There were about 250 participants. That's a lot of bodies in the water. Last time we did this course, there were 20 of us!

I got in the water, further out, away from the shore than last time. Of course, I stayed to the back. I get real nervous. I don't know what it is about the swim, but I always feel so sick to my stomach, until we actually start, then I calm down. The last two events we've done, I have really had no sense of panic. That gives me great joy, I can't even put it into words!!

The gun went off, I did a few breast strokes, then put my head down and off I went. I swam the entire way. The water was a bit choppy and there were some swells. That was a strange feeling. Before I knew it, I was standing up and making my way out of the water.

Swim time: 14:24 (1/2 mile)
That time is a bit misleading. Coming out of the water, my watch said 12:40, but the timing marker wasn't until you got up the hill towards the bikes. So their timing makes me swim look longer and my transition shorter, but time is time right?

In this picture, you can barely see me - pink cap, purple shirt - all the way at the back on the right.

There's Trevor!


Then, onto the bike. I rock it on the bike. For some reason, I think this is my strongest part of the event. I passed quite a few people on the bike. It was flat and fast and the wind was only blowing in one direction - which meant we rode into it, then we had it at our backs. Last time, the wind was blowing sideways and that was just tough the entire time!

Bike time: 40:44 (12 miles)

Pretty quick in the transition - off the bike, into my running shoes and off I went.

T2: 1:32

On the run! I was most concerned about how this was going to go. I worried that my legs would just be too tired from yesterday. Wow, was I wrong. I felt so light on my feet. I wasn't tired, my heart rate was low. I decided to push it a bit and just run as fast as I could in my heart rate zone. My per minute time yesterday was around 11 - 11:30. I ran this 3.1 miles at a 9:20 pace. For the life of me, I can't figure that out! Trevor had the same experience - he went faster andf elt better today than ever!

Run time: 29 min (3.1 miles)

Total time: 1:28:52

This was over 10 minutes faster than a month ago on this course. I was 5th out of 19 in my age group. Trevor finished 3rd out of 10 and got a trophy!

This event was unlike any we have ever done before. Sherri and Alex from NW Personal Training put on the best events. We love to sponsor them and this was the first we actually participated in. We got an awesome goody bag, a really cool finishers medal and the T-shirts are the best ever (see the picture)

Today, I really felt like I had turned a corner. My swim was calm and enjoyable. I pushed things a little harder than normal and still felt good. It was as if all my early mornings have paid off. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life and there is nothing I can't do. Just like the Hagg Lake Olympic Tri last weekend, I enjoyed every single second on this event. That makes it all worth it. That makes me want to do more. That feeling will get me through the next four weeks as we close in on Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3. I feel like I am ready. I am thrilled about that and can't wait to see what the next few weeks will bring!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

16 down, 4 to go

This was a recovery week, so things weren't so extreme. After Saturday's triathlon and Sunday's run, I really needed an easier week. I felt like I was fighting a cold all week long, but looking back, I think it was allergies. My throat was itchy. I am feeling good now that the week is over, so that's great news!!

I wasn't so tired this week. I gained a ton of confidence during the triathlon on Saturday and that has really made a huge difference. I am now so completely excited about the 1/2 Ironman in August. I'm not so scared or apprehensive about it.

Here are the totals for this week:
1 hr of swimming
1 hrs and 15 min of cycling
5 hrs of running
2 hrs of weights/ab workouts
for a grand total of 9 hours and 15 minutes

Next week will be back to it. Its the beginning of the final countdown toward August 16th. None of the upcoming training will be as hard as what we've been through!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

9 years

On July 16th, it was 9 years since my first date with Trevor. It was 4 years since Trevor proposed to me. I don't know where the time has gone. It seems to go so fast these days.

We have always had long standing traditions. We have gone to the same restaurant for dinner for every anniversary of our first date. This year, we decided to start a new tradition....we went to dinner some place close to home, that we had a gift card for! Quick and cheap...its all about the time together.

Every year on our dating anniversary, I ask Trevor a bunch of questions....I call it our "yearly review". Then, on our wedding anniversary we decide if we want to renew our contract for another year!

I think this has been one of our best years together. I think we let go of many things that were holding us back. We've kind of taken things to the next level around here. We've always had lofty goals. This year, we made the biggest strides towards achieving those goals.

Our family has grown - we brought two new kitty's into the mix. There are so many things that are in flux for us right now, but I have never felt more secure. I love my husband, I love my life. I look back on that first date 9 years ago and I feel so fortunate. I could never have imagined that things would have turned out this way. Just goes to just can't tell what opportunities life will present.

Here's to another year....can't wait to see what it brings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some notes from the back of the pack.

Planning for our Half Ironman in August, I’ve been doing a lot of research. I’ve been reading some race reports posted on blogs. Some of the people are like me, beginners/amateurs who are taking on the biggest physical challenge of their lives. Others, are professional (or should be) and finish these events in half the time I expect it will take me.

I tend to focus on the reports from the people like me – the ones who take 7 or 8 hours to complete the event. When I see a finish time in the 4 or 5 hours, I usually just move on. I have taken the time to read a few of the elite reports and I have some things I’d like to tell them….the elites….

You don’t know me and you don’t know what I’ve gone through to get here. Those of us at the back of the pack are a different breed, but the same beast as you. We all have the desire to push our limits. We all start and end the race alone.

The swim starts are always in waves – by age group, not by pace. This means that the elites will always find themselves swimming over the slow swimmers that start in previous waves. Believe me, this is more stressful for us than it is for you. You may find it annoying that we are in your way…we find it frightening. So, please, give us a break. We aren’t trying to be in your way. Many of us are just trying to survive.

When you pass us on the bike, you are doing your second loop – we are still on our first. You pass us and think “out of the way, you are slow”…we think “wow – look at you go!”

When you are crossing the finish line, we are either still on our bike ride or just coming in to start our run. While you are meandering through the transition to cool down, we are gearing up for another two hours on the road. Now, you can pay us back for the swim by getting in our way!

When we smile and yell at you “good job”, it wouldn’t kill you to smile back and say “you too”. I know that the front of the pack is serious business, but come on.

I always joke that anyone can go and workout for a few hours, it’s the real athletes that can keep at it for 6 hours or more! I can’t imagine what it is like to finish these events in the times you finish….just like you can’t imagine what it is like for me to take the time it takes me.

Those of us at the back of the pack may not be natural athletes. Some of us were overweight or still are, some of us are just slower. We’ve prepared, just like you. We’ve sacrificed and struggled, just like you. Many hours have been spent alone in the pool, on the bike, on the run. We’ve gone to bed early and gotten up before dawn. We’ve had to explain ourselves to our friends and families who totally don’t understand what we are doing.

Some of us are scared of the swim, the bike, the run. Some are scared of all three. I am scared every time I get in the water…and just about every minute in between.

We feel the overwhelming rush of accomplishment when we cross the finish line, but we don’t get to stand on the podium. Many times, the podium has been taken down when we cross the finish line. The elite wouldn’t wait around two or three hours to get their medals.

We may not have the right equipment, we may not know the right way to do things, but we know that we’ve done something great. We know that you’ve done something great. Don’t think less of us just because it takes us longer to do it. And we won’t think less of you because you’re faster.

We’d love to be like you someday, instead we are just struggling to be us. There’s room out here for all of us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I dreamed a dream

My father’s father passed away a little more than 12 years ago. I’ve posted before about how my Grammie and Pop-Pop lived across the street from us while I was growing up. They raised me almost as much as my parents did. I spent many summers at their house, lots of vacations, sick days, weekends, holidays, etc. Just about every memory from my childhood includes them.

I was the only grand-daughter and that always made me feel like Pop-pop loved me more that the other two (I’m sure he loved us all the same). He called me turtledove and would squeeze me until it hurt.

Grammie and Pop-pop were the most awesome grandparents. Grammie is still alive and lives her life more fully than most people half her age. I want to be like her when I grow up. I miss Pop-pop. I miss him a lot. I think of him all the time.

Trevor’s grandfather’s have also passes away. We often talk about how much our grandfather’s would have loved some of the things we do. We both wish that the other could have met our respective grandfather’s. I know Pop-pop would have liked Trevor.

I see a lot of my Pop-pop in my dad. Sometimes I feel like I am hearing my Pop-pop instead of my dad. We don’t have any videos or recordings of my Pop-pop. So, I haven’t heard his voice since before he died. When someone has been gone a while, you start to forget what they sounded like.

Last night, I had a dream and Pop-pop was in it. I can’t remember the last time I dreamt about him, but I would expect it was around the time of his death. Last night I heard his voice, saw his face and touched him. I woke up and immediately had tears in my eyes. I wanted to go back to sleep and back to that dream, but I knew I couldn’t and I knew he was gone.

Hearing his voice was comforting, but it made me miss him more

Hagg Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

Okay, enough wasting time...let's get to it!!!

I have been so apprehensive about this event. A few weeks back, we did our first triathlon of the season and I just about lost it. I was so overcome with fear and I immediately decided that I wasn't going to do the Olympic distance, I was only go to do the sprint. After a day of coming to my senses, I chose to stick to the plan and go ahead with the full meal deal. .9 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run.

All week long I had been more excited than anything else - probably because I was so tired!!! I was concerned about the fatigue I was experiencing, but really just figured it would be what it would be.

I woke up Saturday morning and felt like I needed to throw up, I was already nervous. On the drive out to Hagg Lake, I told Trevor that I couldn't wait to get started so I could stop feeling so nervous. I had many thoughts run through my mind - mostly about how I could get out of doing what I was about to do. I just didn't want to do it. How could I do it. What was I thinking, why had we made the decision to go after this goal.

Trevor, of course, was in the passenger seat, calm and collected. He was talking to me as if we were going to the movies and I was having a heart attack in the drivers seat.

We got to the Lake and unloaded our gear. We were cutting it kind of close and had to hurry. There was a group of people at a car next to us who were getting ready and I heard one of them say "before we get going, let's say a prayer". I had the urge to go join them. I needed a prayer. I felt even more sick to my stomach now!!!

We got checked in and started setting up our gear. I was putting my timing chip around my ankle and the guy had told me that the straps were sharp on the edges, so make the band tight, then back off one notch. For some reason, that translated into this "the band stretches, so make the band tight, then tighten it one more notch". As soon as I snapped it, I knew it was too tight. No time to do anything about it now, so I just had to deal with it. Awesome.

We stopped at the bathrooms and headed down to the beach. Trevor's wave start was at 8:01, mine was at 8:10. He went down to the beach and I waited. My heart rate was really high - around 125. I was SO nervous. Trevor's wave went off and then mine headed down to the beach - it was all the women doing the Olympic distance - about 60 of us. I got in the water to wait, put in my ear plugs, secured my cap and goggles. And waited. I looked at my watch and my heart rate was down at 100. All of a sudden, I knew I was ready. I decided to enjoy every minute of it. I knew I could swim the distance.

The horn went off - I took a few breast strokes just to get moving. For the first time, I felt no panic. I put my head in the water and started swimming. I stayed to the outside of the pack and didn't feel crowded at all. I rounded the first buoy and was feeling pretty good. I kept reminding myself to relax and enjoy.

The Olympic course was two laps - the sprint course was just one lap. However, the sprint people were set to start at the same time that I was coming around for my second loop. As I swam towards the buoy to start the second loop, I could see them lined up on the beach ready to start. I knew I needed to kick it in a little and get around that buoy before the other swimmers got there. I did and had no problems.

Around the last buoy, the water got a little choppy just because there were so many other people in the water with me. The faster of the sprint folks had caught me and the slower of the Olympic folks were there with me too. I came around the last buoy and saw the exit from the swim. I was on the letter "Y" of my counting and all I could think was "You are going to do it."

I got to the end of the swim, climbed out of the water and looked at my watch:
Swim time: 36:53

My heart rate was around 165, which is too high, so I walked up the carpet to the bike racks and gave myself some time to calm down. By the time I got to my bike, it was back down in the 140s. I took my time and got everything set for the bike. A friend had told us to make our transitions deliberate and not waste energy. I think I actually said that word out loud while I was putting on my bike shoes.

Transition 1: 5:54

Now, on to the bike. The course starts with an uphill right out of the transition. I was ready for it and had no problems. As I made the turn onto the main road, I was so overwhelmed with pride that I started to cry. I told myself to pull it together and get on with it! So I did.

The course was hilly, but honestly, not as bad as I expected. We do our training rides on some ridiculous hills near our house and none of these hills were as bad as the worst of those. I like the long steady climbs. I got my fill of those on this ride. My heart rate was where I wanted it, I drank my fuel just as I had planned. I felt really good.

As I came around the first loop, most of the people around me turned off to start their run - they were doing the sprint distance. As I started my second loop, I found myself all alone and wondered if I would be alone for the next loop. As I came to the top of the next hill, around the bend I saw some others. I quickly caught up to them and passed them. On the second loop, I passed several people. Everyone was very friendly and talkative. It was very supportive - we all cheered each other!

About half way through the second loop, I saw my in-laws. They had come out to watch us. That put a smile on my face and got me through. As I was approaching the end of the second loop, I saw Trevor getting started on the run. I love when I see him. He looked great. We cheered each other.

I got back into the park and dismounted my bike.

Bike time: 1:31:11

I made my way through the crowd of people (there were about 1000 of us out there between all the events going on). Many were sprinters that were done, so they were just walking around, taking their time. I had to dodge a few to get back to my bike rack. I got them and took off my bike gear, put on my shoes and my visor, some sunscreen and off I went.

Transition 2: 3:18

Off to start the run. I'm not a fast runner and I am okay with that. Lately, I've been running 10:30 - 11 min miles. Today, I wanted to push it a little and get that pace down around 10 min miles. I figured I'd take it easy on the way out and once I hit the turn around, I'd see how I felt and go as hard as I felt I could comfortably go.

The run was very hilly. Lots of ups and downs - quite a few people walking. I was going - strong and steady. I saw Trevor's parents again and then Trevor again. I knew I was almost done and I felt great. At one point, I was passed by a 57 year old woman. There was another 30 something girl there too and she turned to me and said, "that lady is amazing". She passed me and I said "we all are". She agreed.

I climbed the last hill and saw Trevor and his parents waiting there for me. As I came around the corner, I saw the finish line and was so happy to be done! They announced my name and said "welcome back". I love that.

Run time: 1:03:09

TOTAL TIME: 3:20:25

Trevor had finished in 2:59. We stretched, got our gear together and headed to the car. Trevor was a ways ahead of me, but when I got to the car, he wasn't there? He finally came around the corner and said he had gone to see if we got finisher's medals. Apparently, there were only medals for people who placed in their age group - he then pulled out a medal and put it on my neck - I got 3rd in my age group. I knew there was no way this could be true. NO WAY. He said the guy said it was true. I figured I would wear the medal proudly. It didn't say 3rd place, it just said "Hagg Lake Olympic Triathlon" and the date.

The results were up online Sunday morning and I finished 12th out of 18 in my age group. The rules had stated that they would not be mailing awards and that you had to be present to get your award. That meant that finishers 3 thru 11 had packed up and gone home by the time I finished! And since Trevor went to ask about medals, I was able to secure one.

Today was one of the best days of my life. About half way through the bike ride I realized this: I can do so much more than I ever give myself credit for. I owned it today - I was in the moment for the entire event. During the swim, I put my head down and swam. I seriously enjoyed every single minute of today and can't wait to do it again. I love that Trevor and I do these things together. I'm real proud of him too!


I've mentioned before that I need to find ways to count laps and get through my swims. I use the alphabet. In the pool, I do a lap for every letter. I have transfered this to my open water swims, I use a letter for every 10 strokes, then I look up to sight and move on to the next letter and the next 10 strokes.

I use this way to pass the time, track my progress and give myself some positive self talk. Currently, my favorite letter is "I" - because of the following...

"The inches we need are everywhere" - Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

I know that's from a football movie, but it really got to me. "Life is a game of inches". So true.

15 down, 5 to go

This week was probably the toughest week I've had. I spent every minute of every day this week feeling completely and totally exhausted. Every day I had to convince myself to get out of bed and do what was on the schedule. I kept trying to convince myself I could do less than was called for, but in the end, I stuck to the schedule. But wow, was I tired.

The great thing is that Sunday morning, I was talking to our friend Doug who has done lots of triathlons, including an Ironman. He said that during his training there were weeks where he kept telling himself that he just needed to make it through THIS week. It was good to know that what I was feeling was okay. Doesn't change it, just makes it okay!!!

Here are the totals for this week:
2 hrs of swimming
4 hrs and 35 min of cycling
5 hrs and 35 min of running
2 hrs of weights/ab workouts
for a grand total of 14 hours and 10 minutes

This week will be an easy week - until Saturday - then we have a 15 mile run, followed by a sprint triathlon on Sunday. Sounds fun, right??

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hagg Lake on Saturday

Saturday morning - this is what we'll be doing....the Hagg Lake Olympic distance triathlon. That's a .9 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride and 6.1 mile run.

We've been training for Lake Stevens (1/2 Ironman) for 14 weeks now. This Olympic distance has always been a part of the training plan. I've only done 3 other triathlons, all sprint distances (half of the Olympic). After our last event - on June 21 - I had some serious second thoughts about this race on Saturday. I had decided that I was only going to do that sprint distance because I was so overwhlemed by the swim. Then we started doing some open water swims in the pond by our house and I realized that it was going to be okay. I had a few friends give me pep talks - one who said "with your 1/2 Ironman coming up, you have no choice but to do the Olympic". That kind of slapped me back into reality - we had a training plan and I have been sticking to that plan all along. Now is no time to stop.

The entire event on Saturday will be shorter than our workout last Saturday. I need to get my mind out of the way. I get in the water and I know I can swim the distance, but I get started and my mind goes wacko..."can I do that, should I stop, should I roll over and float, how will I make it two laps, am I motion sick, is there water in my ears????!!!!"

My plan for Saturday morning is to relax and enjoy it. Even if I come in last, I'll finish. I want to have fun. I enjoy my training. I look forward to my rides, runs and even the swims. I've put in the time, the effort and the focus. Its just one day, on the way to another day in August.

I had coffee with my father-in-law this morning and was telling him about my anxiousness and he said, "you can do anything". He said it so matter of fact, I really liked that and I thought, "he's right, I can". And the "anything" I'm chosing to do this weekend is waiting for me at Hagg Lake. Details to follow.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We love REI

Really good customer service is hard to come by these days. Actually - it seems that adequate customer service is hard to come by - really good is damn near impossible.

We have shopped at REI for a few years, we are members there and have always been satisfied with our purchases. Trevor bought a heart rate monitor there last year and was told by the salesman that it was good for triathlons and would work in the water. It never has. That has always bothered Trevor, but he never took the time to take it back, he just used it on land and tried not think about the fact that he paid $200 for something that didn't do what he wanted.

On Friday, I purchased a Polar heart rate monitor from a guy who is part of our marathon training group. He spent almost two hours with us going over the software and all the information you can get from my heart rate monitor. It is an amazing tool to help with training. I can complete a workout and then download the information onto our computer where it shows just about every measurement you could want. I am so excited to use it to fine tune my training. I used it for the first time yesterday and it worked in the water, on the bike and on the run.

Trevor keeps telling me how envious he is because his monitor doesn't do what it is supposed to do. Today, we went back to REI to see if we could exchange his for one like mine. They don't stock the one that I have and so they gave us back a full refund. To my debit card. We didn't ask them to do that - they offered to do that. I was shocked. Seriously, shocked. It has been more than a year since we bought that thing. Wow.

We left there saying that anytime they have what we are wanting to buy - we'll buy it there. We'll also tell everyone we know about their customer service. They did more than they needed to do. This gives us the confidence to shop there, knowing that they want us to be satisfied, no matter what.

So, whatever you are looking for....look here first:

Holy crap (AKA 14 down, 6 to go)

What a week. This has been the highest training volume week of all. And I felt it. I'm not sore, but I am tired. Really tired. I feel good, I just want to sleep....alot. The only thing that has gotten me out of bed each day is knowing that eventually, I will get back in bed at some point.

Monday morning, I was still tired from the weekend. I got up and headed the gym to swim and cycle. On the way there I actually considered turning around, going home and getting back in bed. But I had read this somewhere "there are only two times to train - when you want to and when you don't want to". So, just like every other day, I went and I did what was on the schedule. It wasn't so bad after all!! 45 minutes in the pool, 60 minutes on the bike.

Tuesday morning was another tough one. Upper body weights, ab workout, then a 7 mile run. Really?? Then, that night, we headed to the point for a 1/2 mile swim. I am feeling better in the water, but I was SO tired and cranky, the last thing I wanted was to go do that. But we did it anyway.

Wednesday morning - 80 minutes on the spin bike and a 15 minute run. That night we headed to the pond again, this time for a mile swim. Probably a little less than a mile. There was a group of other swimmers there, I think the triathlon club in Portland comes up on Wed nights to swim. It was kind of nice to see other crazies out there with us!!

Thursday morning, total body weights, ab workout and a relaxing 45 minute run. Where I alternated between feeling really good and feeling really bad. Funny how the mind and body work.


Saturday - this was our longest training session of everything up until now and everything after now. Its all down hill baby!! We swam 1/2 mile, rode 58 miles and ran 3 miles. This took over 5 hours. It was almost 100 degrees. And it was a fabulous workout. We both really did well. The 1/2 ironman bike ride is 56 miles, so we needed to get that done and now that we've done it, we know we CAN do it. That makes it easier to wrap the mind around. We came home, ate everything in sight and went to bed at 8 pm. because...

Sunday - can you say 12 mile run? I wasn't sure I would make it, but once we got started, I loosened up and felt pretty good. Its 2:45 right now and I am nearing the point where I am ready for bed!!

Tomorrow is right back at it - Saturday will be our biggest event so far - an Olympic distance triathlon - 1 mile swim, 26 mile bike ride, 6 mile run. I am really excited for it!

Here are the totals for this week:
2 hrs of swimming
6 hrs and 20 min of cycling
5 hrs of running
2 hrs of weights/ab workouts
for a grand total of 15 hours and 20 minutes

I have to say that I am shocked at how well I am holding up. I guess there is a lot to be said for training and taking care of your body. I get massages every few weeks, not the relaxing kind, but the kind that hurt! I eat to fuel my workouts, I take supplements that work for me. I get good quality sleep whenever I can! We are on the downhill now - August 16th will be here before we know it. And I'll tell you - I can't wait!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 4th: Then and Now.

Growing up, I always loved July 4th. We lived on one of the main streets through town, my Grandparents lived across the street. The parade went right down our street and the fireworks were at the high school around the corner. We had the best seats in the house for all the celebrations. Every year, we had a big family picnic, that often included friends and friends of friends. Sometimes we’d have 50 or so people sitting on the lawn watching the parade and fireworks.

We’d usually have our meal around 3 or 4. The parade started at 5. The meal was always the best of everything. Lots and lots of it! It always included Grammie’s potatoe salad and coleslaw. I don’t know what she did to those dishes to make them so amazing, but I still think of them now. Jersey tomatoes were in their full glory at that time of year. I just remember the food being so fresh.

After dinner, we’d clean everything up and head out to the end of the driveway where our lawn chairs were positioned. The streets were lined with people. We’d sit in the sweltering New Jersey heat and watch as the bands went by. We’d see the clowns, the politicians, the kids on their bikes. My parents and grandparents knew everyone! During the parade, people were constantly coming over and saying hi – shaking hands and hugging. After about an hour, it was all over and we’d retreat to the garage for dessert.

Dessert was always the best part. We’d have a table FULL of desserts. Aunt Pearl always brought her chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know what her secret was, but man, they were good cookies. Grammie always made her “yum-yum” cake – this incredible pineapple upside down cake that was even better the next few days as leftovers. We’d stuff ourselves full of desserts, then sit back and wait until dark so the fireworks could start.

Around 9, the show would light up the sky. Lots of “oohs” and “ahhs”. It’d be over by 10 – we’d eat some more dessert while we watched the traffic jam. All those people trying to get home….and we were already home. This happened every year of my life. I always looked forward to July 4th – there were some people we’d only see on that day each year and we’d look forward to it. I attended for the last time 10 years ago. The last July 4th at Grammies was about 5 years ago. Grammie sold the property and moved to Florida. When people found out she was moving, they would say “what will we do on 4th of July?”

These days, I dread July 4th. I dread the week before and the week after. So do our dogs. I don’t mind the one big firework show, its all the little fireworks that go off non-stop for the two weeks around this day in all the neighborhoods around us. Our dogs go nuts and are inconsolable. Plus, we have jobs and have to be up early to get to them, so when someone, somewhere is setting off fireworks from 10 pm until midnight on a Tuesday night, we can’t sleep.

Normally, Fort Vancouver has a huge fireworks display. This year, they won’t be having that. This means that the thousands of people who normally go and watch will be left to their own devices. Everywhere I look, I see tents selling fireworks. And I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? They have always seemed like an accident waiting to happen and a stupid waste of time.

Every year, we wait and eventually it comes – the first firecracker of the season. When that happens, Trevor and I both just sigh in disgust, knowing what we are in store for. What a stark contrast to all the July 4ths of my childhood.