Friday, April 30, 2010

I week down, 17 to do

We will say today is the end of week 1 (of the final 18 weeks before Ironman Canada.
This week was very eventful. We made the decision to add another marathon into our training program. So, on May 16th, we will be running the Capital City Marathon in Olympia. We figured that we need some longer training runs. Mentally, it will help to have done multiple runs of 26.2 miles before Ironman.

Here's what the week entailed:
Sunday - 6 mile run/35 mile bike/1 mile run
Monday - upper body weights/abs
Tuesday - 70 minute cycling class
Wednesday - 45 min swim (2000 meters)/legs & abs/60 minute spin class
Thursday - 4.5 mile run
Friday - Upper body weights/abs

Saturday will be a rest day and then back at it on Sunday.
Swim: 45 min
Bike: 4.5 hours
Run: 1 hr 45 min
Weights: 3 hours
Total: 10 hours

We have had a lot going on this week and I have been feeling tired and sore in the mornings, but once I get to the gym or out on the run, I feel good. I am excited for our training volume to increase. I remember last year, training for the half Ironman, I had a few weeks where I was just wiped out. I would lay my head on my desk at work during the day. After I got past those few weeks, I wasn't so exhausted. Can't wait to get to that place in our training again....the not so exhausted part!!!

This next week I will focus on positive thoughts, quality workouts, recovery and peace of mind. Its time to really kick up my mental game. I need to spend some time visualizing. Never underestimate the importance of your mind!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Road to Ironman

Trevor and I have been registered for Ironman Canada since August 29, 2009. We have 18 weeks of training left until August 29th, 2010 arrives. While the end of August seems far away, you know how fast time will be here before we know it. Please follow our journey along the road to Ironman. I will post weekly updates and share our training, nutrition, thoughts and feelings.

Our journey started about two years ago when we made the transition from runners to triathletes. We had always wanted to do triathlons, but we had one small obstacle...I couldn't swim. For several years, this had been our excuse. I finally decided to face my fear, took a swim lesson and Trevor came along for the ride!! And what a ride it has been! We completed our first sprint distance triathlon in August of 2008 (six weeks after my first and only swim lesson). Sprint distance is a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. In 2009 we decided to tackle the Half Ironman distance. We completed the Lake Stevens 70.3 Half Ironman on August 16, 2010. Half Ironman distance is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. It took me 7 hours, Trevor did it in six and a half.

Immediatley after Lake Stevens, we felt that a full Ironman was just too much. Two weeks later we had signed up for Ironman Canada. The truth is this...there is nothing like the feeling of completing something you never thought or imagined you could do. Once you do that - you want more of that feeling.

We ran the Portland Marathon in October. I finished. Trevor broke his foot at mile 6, that was his finish. For the first time, we trained through the winter for a spring marathon. On April 11th, we completed the Whidbey Island Marathon. We have been swimming and biking to maintain our fitness in those it is time to BUILD our fitness in those disciplines...

This is really where it all gets interesting. The next 18 weeks will take us far beyond any level of fitness we have ever attained. It will include another marathon, a half Ironman and then the full Ironman. There will be weeks where our training load is over 18 hours. We will need to fuel more efficiently than ever before, rest and recover better than ever before and become more mentally strong than ever before.

It is exciting to think of what these next months will bring. It is scary to think of what these next months will bring. Once you do the thing you thought impossible, what excuse do you have for everything else? We'll let you know when we get there. Come along with us. You might think we are crazy. Then again, you might find a little crazy in yourself. If you do - we can help you find an outlet!

Ironman distance is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile - doesn't that sound FUN?!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whidbey Island Marathon Race Recap...

We left on Saturday to head up to Whidbey Island. We weren't really sure how long it would take to get there - one person said 6 hours, another said two and a half!! I think it took about 4 and a half. We stopped for lunch, got the rest of the way there and headed straight to packet pickup. We were really suprised to see that only 323 people were running the marathon, it looked like about 2000 were doing the half!

We were really excited for this event. Trevor didn't get to finish the Portland Marathon due to the broken foot he suffered at mile 6, so this would be his first marathon since 2004. No pressure!!

The weather was shaping up to be perfect - cloudy and cool - just how we like it! We got our packets and headed to our lodging. We were staying at a private resident's house. Lodging is limited on the island and when it fills up, they match marathoners to residents and you stay at their house. Our friends Doug and Melissa were matched with local residents Jack and Carmen about 5 years ago. They became fast friends. Doug and Melissa invited us to stay with them at Jack and Carmen's house. We weren't sure how that would be compared to a hotel, but know that any friend of Doug and Melissa is a friend of ours.

The accomadations could not have been better. Carmen was out of the county, but Jack was the most amazing host. The nicest man, he made us feel completely at home. And what a home it is! It sits high on a hill, overlooking the cove. We saw a sunset that would make you cry, deer in the yard. Beautiful, peaceful, calm. Just what I needed.

Here's the view from our room....

Things have been crazy for us and I have been really feeling drained these last few weeks. I wasn't sure how this marathon was going to go, but I went through the motions as always. We ate our normal pre-run meal, went to bed early. I didn't sleep well at all, my mind just wouldn't stop. Usually I have pre-event anxiety, but it doesn't mess with my sleep.

We got up at 4:30 am, had a smoothie and some coffee and hit the road around 5:45. We parked at the finish line and were bused to the start line. It. was. cold. We were freezing while waiting for the start! Finally, it was time and off we went.

The only thing I knew about this event was that it was hilly. Really hilly. I figured "we love hills", so what's the big deal. The course was not closed, meaning many of the roads were open to traffic. We ran a lot of the miles on the shoulder of the road. If you run, you know this can be a real issue. Too many miles on the slope of the road can cause mechanical issues with your legs and hips. I have some recurrent injuries that tend to show up when we run on the shoulder. Mile 17 is usually when it will happen. During our long runs I always try to stay in the middle of the road or on the sidewalk where it is level. This wasn't always possible during this run.

The course was beautiful. I was having a great run - the first half was pretty fast for me. At mile 13, I was at 2 hours and 20 minutes. I figured I would be able to beat my 5 hour goal with room to spare. The first 13 miles were all hills. You would go up a hill, turn a corner and see that the hill just kept going. I felt strong.

At mile 14 we had a flat out and back. I started feeling a little weak. My pace slowed and I was having trouble really focusing. The pack had really thinned out. With so few runners, there weren't a bunch of spectators, not much distraction. That's okay, I just kept plugging along. We headed back through town, along the water and the shoulder of the road was really sloped. About mile 17, my leg started to let me know it wasn't happy with the situation. I stopped to stretch and knew the last 9 miles were going to be tough.

I was wearing my fuel belt around my waist and it was driving me NUTS!!! I had worn it during our 21 miler and it didn't bother me at all. I must have readjusted that thing 100 times during the first 17 miles. I'm not kidding. I cannot believe how much energy I wasted with that thing. In the past I have carried a bottle, but during the Portland marathon my back bothered me and I keep thinking about Ironman - will I really want to carry something?

At mile 19, we pass the finish line and start an out and back...uphill. At this point I had started to walk and once you start to walk, it is tough to get going again. I knew that. Looking at my watch, I had plenty of time. I really wanted to stay positive and just keep moving.

I was hoping to see Doug and Trevor on the out and back. Sure enough, I saw Trevor in the distance coming towards me...he was walking too. I felt the biggest smile come across my face. I crossed the street and gave him a big hug. He was battling. He said Doug was a bit behind him, battling as well. Misery loves company, right? I felt better knowing we were all in the same boat and it really was okay. We kept moving and soon enough, there was Doug. I gave him a big hug and we just kept on moving.

I started to play games with myself. They had cones on the street, I would run for 10 cones, walk for 10 cones. Finally, around mile 24, I decided to just walk the rest of the way. I knew I wasn't going to make it under 5 hours and that was fine with me. I figured I would finish shortly after 5 and that was pretty good.

I finally got to mile 26 and ran the last little bit across the finish line. 5 hours and 17 minutes. Done. Thank the Lord!!! Funny thing is this - my pace was 12:06 per mile pace, in Portland (I ran the entire way) was 12:00 per mile. I walked most of the last 5 miles. So it wasn't such a bad day after all.

I think I started off a little too fast, messed too much with my hydration belt, was adversely affected by the slope of the road. Most of all, I really just felt mentally and emotionally exhausted. We just lost one of our pets and are about to lose another to cancer. I have cried so much over the last two months. Around mile 23, I lost control of my emotions for a few minutes and just cried. For many reasons. I just didn't have it in me to be strong. Then I got over that and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

After we were finished, we went and had lunch - the best fish and chips ever. Our the window of the restaurant (we were right on the water) we saw a whale. Amazing. We went back to Jack's, cleaned up and made the long drive home. Sore legs, tired bodies, proud selves.

All you can do is prepare. On any given day, you do the best you can do that day. That's what we all did. We finished, we made some mistakes and learned from them. This is just the beginning of the season. I will admit, it scared me a bit about Ironman....but that's kind of the point...if you aren't scared about covering 140.6 miles, then why even do it?

We have a lot of work left to do. Another marathon at the beginning of June, half-Ironman at the end of June and full Ironman at the end of August. This one is over and done with. It really was a great event and I know we'll do it again. Plus, we made a new friend and we can't wait to see him again!! Thanks Jack for letting us stay with you, it made it all worthwhile!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One day at a time.

We are still mourning the death of our dear Wookie. Life has thrown us a curveball...we learned this week that one of our cats, Gus, has an inoperable tumor. Prognosis is 6 to 9 months.

Gus is our $10,000 cat. I've written about him before - here. He is 12 years old and for the last 10 years he has been riddled with health problems. Two and a half years ago his tail was removed due to a tumor. They type of tumor he had was very invasive and almost always reoccurs. That is the case with Gus - his tumor has reoccured and because of its location (on what is left of his tail), there is no room for surgical removal. The only option we have it to try and shrink
the tumor so that he can be more comfortable.

In 6 to 9 months, the chemo will not be effective anymore and the tumor will grow, become painful and there will be nothing left to do about it. As you can imagine, this is the worst news. I have now started to have the same conversations with Gus that I had with Wookie. We talk about heaven and about how he needs to tell me when its time. Mostly I tell him that when he wants to go, he needs to just go - Wookie is waiting for him. Gus and Wookie are old friends and have always gotten along.

Gus has been my best friend for 11 years. I got him from a shelter in New Jersey. I was living alone and I had to put my cat Bobo to sleep and it just about killed me. My house was so quiet and lonely that I knew I needed to get another pet. I found Gus. He had been in the shelter for 9 months and his chances were running out. The first time I held him, he rubbed his face on my nose. Then when I sat down, he curled up on my lap and went to sleep. It was love at first sight.

For a while, it was just me and Gus. We moved from New Jersey to Oregon, all by ourselves. I made the drive and Gus rode shotgun. We had a great trip, he was the best passengar. He has always liked to ride in the car.

When we moved in with Trevor, Gus was immediately at home. After a few months he realized that Trevor generated more heat than me and he began to sleep on Trevor's head. He has slept on our pillows for the last 10 years. He has seen many additions to our family and has tolerated ever one of them. He has had many medical problems - 10 years ago he had a blood disease and I had to feed him with a syringe. Our vet has always told us how lucky Gus was that we are his parents. There have been times that I thought he wouldn't make it, but he always has. A part of me hopes that is the case with this, but deep down, I know its not. I know his time is coming to an end and while I am incredibly sad about that, I am also grateful that I have been able to love him all these years.

Things are crazy and hectic with us right now - between the businesses, training, coaching and the animals. I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. The vet told us to take one day at a time. I feel like that is what we've been doing for the last two day at a time.

So we take joy in the little things, remind ourselves to remember every moment that we can and depend on the strength in each other to see this through to the end. Never before has a cat been loved more...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ahhhh....the taper....

Sunday is the Whidbey Island Marathon. This week is our taper week. Last Sunday we ran 4 miles. I can't remember the last "long" run that was only 4 miles. This is the first time we have training for a Spring event. Usually, our heavy training is done in the summer. I feel quite accomplished to have completed our training through the darkest, coldest, rainiest days of the year.

We are running this marathon with our dear friend Doug. Doug is also training for Ironman Cananda with us. I guess if we do enough marathons before IM Canada, we will be able to say "I only have a marathon left" when we get off the bike that day. Its all about perspective.

On Tuesday, I did my last run before the marathon. I love to reflect on my training during those "last" runs. I feel ready for Sunday. I am excited for Sunday. The marathon is such a strange thing. It can be unimaginable if you have never done one. It seems ridiculous - 26.2 miles...why? I know I will ask myself that questions many times on Sunday. Then, I'll turn the corner for the last .2 miles and I will know why. It is in those last minutes that it all becomes clear.

The marathon is a true test of discipline and strong will. I expect it will take me 5 hours. Most people cannot be alone with their thoughts for 5 minutes, must less 5 hours. When you put your body and spirit through such a physical challenge, you learn a lot about yourself. You learn what you can and will endure. You learn how tough you are. You also learn that limitations are things we put on ourselves, things that we allow others to put on us. Limitations do not exist.

Once you do the unimaginable, everything else becomes possible. That is what I look forward to on Sunday...being reminded that I can do anything I set my mind to do. Anything.