Friday, September 30, 2011

Turning into a dog

Here is a picture of Asha back in July when we first brought her home.
And here is a picture of her this morning.
I have noticed that she is really getting big. She sings a little song that goes like this "I'm getting so big. I'm turning into a dog....I'm turning into a dog". And she really is!

When we first brought Asha home, she was 5 months old. She was smaller than Buster and now she is bigger than Maggie! We love watching her grow and can't wait to see what kind of dog she becomes!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy 2 year anniversary to Maggie!!!

Two years ago today, our sweet girl Maggie came to live with us. Here is the blog I posted when we got her - here . What a crazy two years it has been!
Maggie turned out to be nothing that we expected. We were told that she was part Australian Shepherd, part grey hound. As she grew, we realized that she is mostly pitbull. That is fine with us. We were not looking for a pitbull, we wanted a dog that would run with Trevor. Maggie runs, but not the distances we were hoping for in a new dog.
When Maggie came to live with us, we were not prepared to have a puppy in our house. All our animals were older and had settled down years earlier. Maggie was full of energy and none of us knew what to do with her.
Maggie was also very timid and afraid of everything. The first month we had her, she would not go out into the yard by herself. When she needed to go to the bathroom, one of us would have to go outside and actually stand in the middle of the yard with her so she would not be afraid.
We walked her and ran her. She would go with us on our Sunday runs. We'd do a couple "Maggie miles" before our long runs. Maggie would stay in the car while we ran. She went everywhere with us.
Maggie had some anxiety issues and those were manifested in destructive chewing. Maggie destroyed everything - the inside of our car, our couches, every toy she ever touched, blankets....if she was near it, she destroyed it. We were slow learners and finally started to kennel her when she was alone in the car. The final straw was when she tore out the entire back flooring of the car and the wires that connected the fuel pump. My car wouldn't start. Trevor came and spliced the wires back together. Then, while I was driving, Maggie was in the back seat chewing on the wires again and the car died because she chewed through them. Oh Maggie!!!
Luckily, neither of us cared about our stuff, we just wanted to be sure she was safe. We took her to the dog park to socialize her, we did puppy obedience classes, we took her every social place we could to get her used to being around people.
About six months after we got Maggie, Buster came to live with us and he really brought her out of her shell. She gained so much confidence from being the resident dog and showing a new pup the way we do things. She still gets nervous around new people, but she's getting better.
This doggie is the sweetest, snuggle bug ever. She just wants to be next to us. She loves to lay on the couch, curl up next to us and have the blanket put over her head. She likes to be covered up.
She can run through the yard faster than any dog I have ever seen. It makes me believe she may actually be part greyhound!

Maggie has turned into a really nice, happy dog. She smiles, literally, when she sees us. Its the craziest thing, but when we get home and she sees us, she will run to us, tail wagging and big smile on her face. She and Buster run with us a couple times a week. She does good unless its warm out, then we have to go slower. She's very sensitive to the heat.

We love Maggie. She has been a great addition to our family, she entertains us with all her little quirks. We can't imagine a life without her and I can't believe she's been part of our family for two years now. She's growing up fast and we are trying to enjoy every minute.

Monday, September 26, 2011

With me for life

When I was 19, I got a small tattoo on the inside of my ankle. I got that tattoo to feel grown up. I had always followed the rules and this was a chance to break the rules. I was so proud of my little flowers and heart. Over the years I often forgot it was even there. About two years ago, I wanted to get another tattoo. I had considered it for years but could never think of what I would want on my body forever. After a lot of thought, it came to me. I wanted something to symbolize our pets.

I love our pets. Our world revolves around them. We do not have human children, we have animal children. When I was thinking of getting a tattoo, I wanted something with meaning, something I knew I would never regret. A tribute to our animals fit those requirements.

For about a year, I had been paying attention to other people's tattoos. When I saw one that I really liked, I would ask them who did their tattoo. The answer was always the same - Atlas Tattoo. I'd say there were 4 or 5 people who we asked. They all saw different artists, but all at the same place. I made an appointment with the owner, Dan. Then I just needed to find reference material and figure out exactly what I wanted.

I decided that I would do flowers - one for each of the pets. I searched for just the right ones. I am very happy with what I chose. When I got the original tattoo, we had seven pets - Gus, Roxie, Wookie, Opal, Daisy, Norwyn (whom we call Tuna) and Maggie. Last year, I added Buster and just this past weekend I added Asha. When I first got the flowers - they were all seperate. When I added Asha, we added some leaves to tie them all together. I am just as in love with my tattoo as I am with our pets. Here's how it looks.....

Gus/Roxie and Buster: Gus is the orange lily - lilies are my favorite flower and Gus was orange. He is surrounded by baby's breath - that's for Roxie. We call her baby and she LOVED Gus. She thought he was her mama. Then the venus fly trap is Buster. Buster chases flies every where and sometimes when he smells something great, he make this chomping noise.
Opal: We always called her the "tan dog they call red" - she was a Red Heeler, but she was really tan. We believe that Opal comes to visit with our current pets - they always say "a little red cloud told me..." This red rose has a little ant on top of it - that is for DJ, a mouse we had for a very brief time. As silly as it may sound, we loved that mouse and I cried when she died.
Daisy and Norwyn: Daisy is the blue daisy - her flower covered up the tattoo I got when I was 19. Norwyn is a tuna cactus flower - because we call him Tuna.
Maggie: This is a Maggie Rose
Wookie and Asha: Wookie is the purple fluffy flower. One time I drew a picture of Wookie and I used a purple crayon and made him super furry. We always called him the furry purple dog. Wookie visits our current pets too and they tell us "a big purple ghost said..." Then, there is Asha - a pink Asha flower with a blue center for her blue eyes.
Saturday night when I was getting my tattoo, I thought a lot about the pets who are gone - Gus, Wookie and Opal. Tattoos hurt, no matter what anyone says, they hurt. While I was trying to keep my mind off the pain, I thought of our sweet babies. It made me really sad to think how much I miss them and how long they've been gone. It always makes me feel incredibly glad that I will have a part of them with forever. Tattoos aren't for everyone and if you don't like them, don't get one. I love my tattoos. I love looking at them and thinking about our babies and I really love when people ask what my tattoo means. It gives me the chance to talk about our pets - past and present.

I am hoping that I don't need to add another flower for at least10 years. I want the ones we have now to live long healthy lives. And as Trevor and I grow old, I want to look down at my leg, remember all the ones who came into our lives and how lucky we were to be able to love them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

24 hours

Asha just completed the best 24 hours of her life with us! We've gone an entire day with no peeing or pooping in the house, no ceaseless barking and a full night of sleep. Thank you Jesus! We are hoping this streak continues and becomes business as usual.

The last two months have been exhausting for us. We hadn't been sleeping through the night, we were constantly up with Asha. There was no rest on the couch in the mornings or in the evenings, we were constantly chasing Asha around to get her to stop barking. Every time we came home, there was a mess to clean up. We were feeling really frustrated and it was hard to be patient with her because we were so tired. I was feeling like we were in way over our heads and wasn't sure how we were going to make it work. I knew we would, I just couldn't see any sort of hope. I was feeling helpless and sad.

Last week, Asha was a guest blogger. You can read her post here. It was therapuetic to read that. It really helped me see things from Asha's point of view. Here is this little creature who cannot see or hear, all she has is us. I thought of how frustrated she must be and how she certainly wants to be calm and relaxed. She certainly wants to sleep and be in a stress free environment. That really helped me to realize the importance of being patient with her.

I started sleeping on the floor with her at night so that when she wakes with a start, I can touch her. I know I won't have to do it forever, just until she starts to feel more safe. We've stopped bringing toys up with us at bedtime. We've started walking her three times a day. Believe me, I would rather lay on the couch and do nothing, but she needs the exercise and the mental stimulation of getting out of the house. So we walk. What a difference. When we go to bed, she lays down on the bathroom floor with me and I massage her back. After about a minute, she is asleep. She gets up and moves a few times a night, but she doesn't go crazy and she doesn't need to go out to pee.

One of the biggest issues we have is that she runs into the front room and barks like crazy. Then she runs the circle from the front room to the kitchen to the foyer. And barks. We chase her down. On Sunday, I started putting a leash on her and tying it to me. She goes everywhere with me now and can't run into the front room unattended. She is much more calm and so am I.

We haven't really been able to give her a toy while we are all on the couch because Maggie is very possessive about toys. If another one of the dogs has a toy she wants to take it and gets angry if they even look at her while she has a toy. We've really been working on this and letting her know its not okay. Last night, all 3 dogs were able to chew on toys in the same room while we watched TV. Asha wore herself out playing with her toy. And THAT is what we need.

I don't know if this is fluke or if we are moving into a new phase. She's not as destructive now that we are exercising her more. When its time for a walk I always say "time to walk it out Asha". I know all this changing surely has more to do with us than with her. I am sure she sensed the aggravation and frustration.

Sunday was a busy day for Asha. She had a follow up appt at the vet. We gave her a bath ahead of time. She is SO fluffy when she is clean. She layed down and slept after her bath, while her fur was wet, and now she has bedhead on her butt. The fur there is sticking up in all different directions. It is really cute!

We took Maggie and Buster with us to the vet, because we go everywhere as a family. Asha just loves people, so she was very excited to be around the vet and the vet techs. She had to get some shots and when they held her to put a needle in her shoulder, she SCREAMED. Within a minute, she looked like this: She forgives quickly.

Buster is very jealous at the vet. He can't stand anyone looking at anyone but him. He says "look at me! What about me?! Does this look okay to you?" The vet always looks in his ears so he feels like he is getting examined too. Maggie just lays there nervous about the whole situation.

I am sure we are not out of the woods yet, Asha is still a puppy and still needs much attention and training. I am feeling much more in control of our household and that is good for all of us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Champoeg Half Marathon Race Report

It has been a long time since we've done JUST a half marathon. That sounds silly, I know, but its true. The last time I did a stand alone half marathon was two years ago. We've really been focused on longer distances - marathons, triathlons, etc. So when Trevor suggested we do this race, I was pretty excited.

Our friend Brian from Energy Events puts this race on. He took it over from another management company and was looking forward to putting his touch on it. We have partnered quite a bit with Brian, he is the one who put on the Vancouver USA Marathon (I was the volunteer coordinator for that), but we've never actually done one of his races. We are training for the Columbia Gorge Marathon on October 23rd, so this was a good training run for us.

The nice thing about the race is that the start time was 9:00. It was about a 45 minute drive to get to the park. This would allow us to follow our normal morning routine. With the addition of Asha to our family, routine is very important.

We got up at 5:30, as usual. We had breakfast and took the dogs for their usual walk. My legs were feeling tight and sore. Sleeping on the floor was catching up to me and I was concerned how the day would go. I wanted to do the race in under 2 hours. My previous best half marathon was 2 hours and 9 minutes - that was about 6 years ago. My most recent half marathon was 2 hours and 20 minutes.

We got out of the house at 7:40, 10 minutes later than planned, but I figured we would have plenty of time to get where we were going. It was raining when we left home and I wasn't too happy about that!!!

We arrived at Champoeg Park at 8:20. Brian let us park right by the start/finish line. Front row parking, you can't beat that!! We caught up with our friends Jo, Trish and Greg. We don't get to do too much with our friends anymore because of our schedules, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to race with these guys today!

Before I knew it, it was time to start our race. Trevor and I kissed goodbye - we both had goals for the day. We wanted to run faster than we've ever run before. I wasn't nervous, I just wanted to get going. It wasn't a huge crowd and I liked that. I don't do well when there are too many people around.

The horn sounded and off we went. I settled into my pace right off the bat. I wanted to run a 9:05 per mile pace. My first three miles were right on. Then, for some reason, my pace slowed to a 9:10. I felt like I was pushing hard enough and didn't want to completely blow it out by trying to get any faster. We ran a beautiful path through the park, along the river. It was pretty flat, only a few little hills. I powered up the hills, I didn't want to lose any speed.

Around mile 6, I noticed that the mile markers were about 1/4 off from what my GPS said. I figured they would catch back up later in the race. As someone who has measured routes before, I know that unless you get the course certified, it is impossible to be dead on.

The second part of the route was an out and back, which I love because that means I get to see my friends. We came out of the park and onto a country road. Just before the turn around I saw Trevor. I made the turn around and then got to see my pals - Trish, Greg and Jo. I love them.

I was still right around 9:10. I was doing the math in my head and I knew that would going to put me dangerously close to the 2 hour mark. I also knew that if the mile markers didn't catch back up and the route was long, I wouldn't make my 2 hour goal. I picked up the pace as best I could. My water bottle was just about empty, but there was no way I could afford the time to stop and refill it at the 10.5 mile water station.

I really hauled ass the last couple miles. It felt like it was downhill, which was nice. This last part of the course was back through the park. It had started to drizzle and it felt good. I was zipping along at an 8:30 pace - guess I could have gone a bit faster earlier if I had two miles at that pace left in me! I crossed a long wooden bridge and saw my pal Brian. He asked "how's the route"....I yelled back "awesome!" and it was. I know just about all of Brian's crew and it was so fun to see them all out on the route and have them cheer for me by name. Every time I needed a pick me up, I'd see one of their smiling faces and get a high five.

I came around the corner and saw the turn off of the path towards the finish line. The last tenth of a mile was on the grass. I looked at my watch and knew that I was going to be so close to the under 2 hour goal. I saw Trevor waiting for me and as I approached him I threw my water bottle to him so that I could use all my energy to get across the line. I sprinted across the finish line and my watch said 2:00. Depending on how the chip timing went, it could go either way - either 1:59 something or 2:00 something. I was really hoping it would be under 2. But I was still really happy with my time. A personal best!

We walked around a bit to cool down. Trevor had a good race - he finished in 1 hour and 45 minutes, a personal best for him too! We went and got some yummy teriyaki that they had for the finishers. We ate that while we waited at the finish line for Trish, Greg and Jo. We talked with Brian about the course and what a great time we had. The official times came out and mines was 2:00:31. damnit. That will haunt me.

Our friends crossed the line, we hung out with them for a bit. We have been so busy lately that we don't get to see them as much as we would like and so it was a special treat to be with them today.

This has been a year of personal bests - the marathon, that half ironman and now the half marathon. I spent so many years just chugging along at a comfortable pace. Its really been fun to push harder and see what I've got in me. It was also really fun to do an event that didn't take an enormous toll on my body. I was sore and tired, but not completely spent like I am from our events that take 4 hours or more.

We stopped and got coffee on the way home, ordered a pizza and tried to sleep on the couch, but a certain someone named Asha wouldn't allow it. The day ended with some Yocream. It was a good, good day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Blogger....Asha again!

Its been about a month since my last guest post and I've got lots to say, so mom is letting me write another blog entry. Here's my last one....

This last month has been crazy. My mom and dad are still trying to figure me out and I know its been tough for them. I'm blind, deaf AND a puppy! I am really lucky that they love me like they do and they keep telling me that its a good thing I am cute.

First things first, since my last post, I had a couple more seizures. Now I take medicine for epilepsy and its been almost 4 weeks since my last episode. I take a pill twice a day. My mom hides it in treats, sometimes I find it and spit it out, but she makes me sure that I swallow it even if she has to give me two or three more treats!

I am getting bigger and that means its easier for me to get into things. I can get up on the counter now and get just about anything that's up there. One day, my mom left a frying pan in the sink. When she got home, she found it in the living room. I'm pretty strong.

I get bored really easy and I am always looking for something to entertain me. Mom and Dad have gotten me all kinds of toys and food puzzles. Since I am so smart, I've figured them all out and after a about 20 minutes, I am looking for something else to keep me busy. I've found some really fun things like the wood molding along the sliding glass door, the blinds in the front room, the wooden end table and even the carpet. There is an endless supply of stuff to chew on. I've noticed lately there aren't as many things on the counter and there is never anything in the sink anymore.

Bedtime has really been a challenge for all of us. At first, mom and dad brought me all kinds of treats and toys at bedtime to keep me busy, but that's stopped. Mom says that bedtime is time for sleep not playtime. I'm learning that now. We've gone two nights with no toys and I'm getting the message. I still spend a little time looking for my toys because you never know.

I get scared at night. I'll be asleep and then all of a sudden I wake up. I jump up and bark really loud. Next thing I know, my mom or dad is there to touch me and tell me to lay down. I'm usually so upset that I can't do that. We went a lot of nights without sleep. Around midnight or 2 am, I want to go out and go to the bathroom. I go to the bedroom door and bark, that always wakes someone up!

The last few nights, my mom has been sleeping on the bathroom floor with me and I really like that. I wake up and she's there - I don't need to be scared. So I get up and find a different place to lay, then I go right back to sleep. Last night, mom got 8 hours and sleep and let me tell you - she's a lot nicer when she gets rest! I'll have to remember that.

Usually when my mom gets home from work, I am just starting to melt down. So she comes home and I immediately start barking. I can't help it, I know she hates that and doesn't know what to do, but neither do I. Last week we changed our routine. Now, when mom gets home, she takes me, Buster and Maggie for a long walk. That helps me get some of my energy out and gives her a chance to decompress. Then she brings me along with her while she's doing her chores. We go upstairs together. There, we wash her face and change her clothes. Then we go back downstairs and clean up my mess from the day! I lay at her feet while she gets lunches ready for the next day. I bark alot less because I have stuff to do.

We've also been walking every morning. Maggie is losing weight! I can tell when I wrestle with her that she doesn't weigh so much. I love going for walks! I do so well on the leash. Sometimes when we are walking, I smell a person coming the other way and I always want to meet them. Sometimes I get to, sometimes I don't. I get mad when I don't get to meet them and then I misbehave a bit, just to show mom and dad that I'm not happy!

On Sunday night, we started ANOTHER new thing. We walk right before bed time. I think they are trying to exhaust me. And you know what? Its working!! The last two nights, I've gotten up on the couch with mom and taken a nap while we watch TV. Usually, I run around and bark. I know they hate that, but I can't help it!

I feel bad for my mom and dad. They want to do what's best for me, but its tough. No one really has advice for them because no one has a dog like me. They try all different things, some work, some don't work. I'm just 7 months old, so I am still a puppy. Someday I'll be a dog and they'll forget all this crazy stuff, right? From what I hear, Maggie was a challenging puppy and she's turned into a great dog! Except when she has a bone or a treat, she doesn't like anyone to get near it! Especially me! Mom and Dad are working with her on that. But if she gets mad, she always apologizes.

I know its hard to imagine not being able to see or hear. It limits the things that can occupy my attention. My mom, dad, Buster and Maggie are my whole world. I like it best when I am with them. I know they'll figure out exactly what it is that I want. They can't be with me all the time so I need to figure out how to entertain myself without destroying everything we own!We turned a corner this week, now that we are sleeping better, everything seems easier. Mom is more patient and she keeps saying that is what I was sent here to teach her. I'm doing my best :) I promised my mom that things would get more manageable as I got older.

I cannot tell you how much I love my family. And you could never imagine how much they love me. Sometimes I think its a dream, but in a dream, my mom wouldn't make me get off the counter....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 11th

I didn't have a chance to do a Sept 11th post due to our event this past weekend. So this is a couple days late.

Since this is the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, its a bigger deal than in previous years. There have been a ton of shows on TV about it. Usually, they play the same programs year after year. I always watch them, even though I've seen them. Every time I see that second plane crash into the tower, it shocks me. I always try to remember the shock that came that day when you didn't know that second plane was coming. This year, they had some new shows and I'll admit, I was obsessed. I could not get enough of the personal stories about 9/11.

I think its easier to not know the specifics of what went on in those towers after the attacks. It is too hard to wrap your mind around what those people actually went through. To think of being in that hell, of trying to get out, of not knowing that those building would crumble. Or worse yet, to be in those buildings and realize that you were not getting out. To be on one of those planes and realize that you were going to die that day. To be a spouse who gets a phone call from your husband or wife, calling to say goodbye because they are on a plane that has been hijacked or because they are on the 100th floor and have realized there is no way out.

There was one show that we watched that I cannot get out of my head. It was called "Hereos of the 88th floor". It was a story of what happened on and around the 88th floor of the first tower hit. There were two men who took charge and helped get many people out of the building. They worked on the 88th floor. Sadly, they died that day, but they saved tens of people.

There was one story that stuck with me. I can't get it out of my mind and it actually makes me angry. The people from the 88th floor were telling their story. They talked about a secretary who worked with them. She was quite overweight and she had asthma. As everyone started to make their way down the 88 flights of stairs, she was really having a hard time. Several of her coworkers stayed with her, helping her down the stairs. According to them, she was having a hard time breathing and kept sitting down and telling everyone to go ahead without her.

The stories continued of the struggle to get out of the building, the crowding of the stair way, the swaying of the tower when the other tower fell (they didn't know that's what it was), the firefighters going up the stairs. Eventually, there was only one man left with the secretary. He said that she was drenched in sweat, he kept telling her that he'd stay with her, not to worry and to keep moving. He said she kept sitting down and telling him to go on without her. There were somewhere around the 10th floor, maybe below, I don't remember exactly. He said that 5 firefighters came down the stairs and told him they would carry her out and he should go ahead. He said "no, I told her I would stay with her". One of the firefighters grabbed him and said "this building is coming down and if you don't go, I will throw you down the stairs".

He ran and he made it out alive. The secretary did not. Neither did those five firefighters. You can talk about bravery and heroism all you want, but there are 5 families who have a hole now because of this woman. Not to mention her family. And what about the people who stayed with her, trying to help her and then eventually went on to save themselves. What type of guilt do those people live with? It makes me angry because her disregard for her health resulted in her death and the death of others who were willing to die to save her. Some people have disabilities or diseases that cannot be prevented, that cannot be cured and there is nothing to be done. Obesity is not one of those. If you are going to work on the 88th floor, you damn well better be able to walk down 88 flights of stairs. If you can't, you are putting your life and the life of others at risk. Everyone deserves to live, but why should someone risk their life to save you when you won't save yourself? Our of all the tragedy that day, this one really sticks with me. This may be the most senseless of deaths. I don't think we even realize how our choices could possible affect others. Probably not the lesson most people took from that show, but I believe it is an important one. Someday, your health my be all you've got. Take care of it. You never know when you'll need to run for your life.

We'll never forget. Impossible to believe its been 10 years.

Max Muscle Vancouver Triathlon/Duathlon Race Report

This race report is from the race director!! I would really have loved to participate in this event, but I had too many duties as the race organizer!

I swear, time really gets away from me and before I knew it, this event was on top of us. So much goes into an event like this and much of it happens at the last minute, you just can't do some things ahead of time.

We had been preparing for this event for a while, but the last week things kick into high gear. There are always little crisis items that arise and must be dealt with. This event was no exception.
In the last two weeks, our entries sky rocketed. We were up around 150, which was almost twice what we had last year.

The event is USA Triathlon sanctioned, meaning there are rules we need to follow. That is also how we get our event insurance. Part of the sanction requires water quality testing. Last year, Parks and Recs had the water tested every week over the summer and I had access to those results. I expected it would be the same this year. We pay close to $1000 to use the park and for participant parking fees. This is a bone of contention for me, but there isn't much we can do about it.

I had emailed my contact at the parks over a week earlier and asked for water quality results. Wednesday night before the event, I got an email back from him saying that due to budget cuts, the water testing was discontinued. Uhh.....this is a pretty big deal, our insurance would be void if we didn't have that water quality test. I emailed him back asking how I could get that water tested in time. Since I knew his response time was slow and he has been historically unhelpful, I took it upon myself to find someone to help me. I found a contact from the health department who was responsible for testing other waters in the county. I emailed him and left him a voice mail explaining my predicament. The next morning, he called me back and said he had contacted the lab and they would rush the results for me. He was going out to take samples. It was going to cost us $150, but it had to be done. Later in the day, I got an email from my guy at the parks and rec telling me that there was no way to get the water tested in time. I emailed back to let him know that the health department guy was helping me. The parks guy said "I wonder how he got the lab to get results in time". Guess what dude, its called he asked. That really made me angry.

Friday morning came and I got the call from the health department - the lab had done the wrong test and so he was going back out to take more samples and have them rush the results. I wouldn't have them until Saturday morning. Okay, now we are cutting it a little close. I was having chest pain all day Thursday and Friday, probably because of this. When I finally emailed my swim director this info, he said "Holy shit....that's a big deal....we have to test results".

We did the packet pick up on Friday and Saturday. For the first time at any of our events, I called in help for packet pick up. It is extremely difficult for me to delegate. I trust no one. In the interest of my sanity, I needed to let go. And I did. You know was GREAT!!! I was so much more relaxed having someone else do all those things. I was able to work on other last minute details instead of stressing about the packets. Oh and good news, I got the call Saturday morning from the health department and the water was totally safe!!

Saturday night is when the rubber really meets the road. We had to get all our set up ready to go early on Sunday morning. Trevor went down to the park and met with our set up crew. About 5 volunteers who would be there Sunday morning at 5 am to set up the transition area and start/finish. The amount of shit needed to put on a triathlon is really ridiculous. We were fortunate to have a friend from another event company loan us alot of things we needed like fencing and coolers. That made it much easier.

The weather was supposed to be in the upper 90s on Sunday. I was really concerned about that. I wanted to be sure we had enough water and ice. The biggest logistical issue was one of the water stations on the run course. It is 1.5 miles down a closed park path. I was able to use my car to get the water down there at 5 am, but if we needed more during the event, it would have to be carried down there.

Saturday night while Trevor was down going over transition with the guys, I was making numbers for the bike racks, printing out a final parking list and loading the car. We went to bed around 9:30 and every hour were awakened by a barking Asha. I got no sleep. When the alarm went off at 3:45, I was already awake. I both love and hate this time on event day. I hate it because I don't want to get up at 3:45. I love it because it means the wheels are in motion and stuff is getting done. Plus it will be over soon.

My job on race day is course marking and set up. I drive around and put out cones and chalk mark the ground to tell participants where to go. This is my favorite part of the day - its so calm and quite out there and its time to myself before the craziness of the day. This day, however, it was stressful. I got a late start and then had to run a key back to Trevor, so I was hauling ass to get it done in time. I was putting out one cone at a dark country road corner and I heard some jingling. I look over and there was cow, looking over a fence at me about 3 feet away. I said "cow, you are going to see some action today".

I made it back to the park around 6:30. Registration was going to open at 7 and I needed to get that all set up. The guys were making quick work of the transition area and it was all coming together nicely. The sun was just coming up over the pond. Again, very peaceful among all the activity. This is when time starts to fly. It was 6:30 and before I knew it, the park would be full of people waiting to start their event.

I was feeling pretty good about things, we had lots more help this year than we did last year and things were moving along without issue.

Participants started showing up and you could feel the energy and excitement in the air. There were a lot of beginners at this event and I could sense their anxiety. I know that feeling all too well! I tried to greet everyone and make them feel comfortable, all the while, running around with the last minute changes and details.

Our friend Doug was the swim director and that took about 1000 pounds of worry off my shoulders. I loved that I didn't have to think about that at all. He had it covered.

We had 5 different events going on - 3 distances of triathlons and 2 distances of duathlons (bike/run - no swim). Start times were staggered and it was important that we coordinated and ran it all smoothly.

Start time for the first race was 8:30. At 8:15, I grabbed the microphone to do a briefing - giving details about the race. About half way through my talk, the microphone died. What to do now? I couldn't find my timing guy - he was the one in charge of the mic. What to do? One of the race participants picked up a big orange cone and said "use this". So I did. You have to improvise, right? I yelled through the cone like a megaphone. I was almost done and the timing guy came over and was like "why aren't you using the microphone?" He changed the batteries and it was working again. Whew. I finished the briefing and got that first group over to the water to start.

After this, its really just a whirlwind. The three races started, people headed out for their bike rides, came back and went for their runs. I was announcing the finish line, that's always my job. I try to say something personal about as many people as I can - things I found out about them during packet pick up or customers I know. I really like the feeling of connection when they come across the finish line. It makes me feel a part of their success.

It was really starting to get hot out. I was worried we wouldn't have enough water. Sure enough, I got a text from one of our water stations that they didn't think they would have enough water. Looking at our finish area, I didn't think we'd have enough water either. So begins the scramble....we sent people to get water and then had to get it the 1.5 miles out on the path. We had some great volunteers who ran that distance with three gallon jugs of water and with cases of water. After the bit of panic, we got it all covered and every participant had water when they went past an aid station. We did not run out.

We had just over 130 participants cross the finish line. Some were first timers, some were seasoned veterans - Ironman finishers. The group is so diverse, its fun to watch. So many familiar faces and many more new ones that we'll see over and over in future years.

In the week before an event, I always ask myself why we do this. There is so much to do, so much to deal with, so many sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, unexpected bumps. At those times it does not seem worth it. Like when the event shirts end up costing three times what we expected. We say "we won't do this again next year". Then the starting gun goes off and that all changes. By the end of the day I find myself saying "I love this. I can't wait for next year". That's what I said on Sunday.

After that's all done, the work continues. The last finisher crossed the line about 12:30. It took several hours to break things down and get them home. We tried to relax on the couch for a bit, but Asha wasn't having that. We took the dogs for a walk around 8:30 and I was literally falling asleep while we walked. Now its over and onto the next thing. I'd say it was a success. That's a good feeling.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Who's idea was this?

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have decided to do the Columbia Gorge Marathon on October 23rd. We needed to start ramping up our training. The last couple months we have been running, but nothing too long. 13 miles is the furthest we have gone. Yesterday, we made the jump to 18 miles. Gulp.

We got up at our usual time, had breakfast, relaxed with the dogs. Around 7:30 we hit the road. Trevor's pace was going to be about 9 minutes slower than me so I started on the route 9 minutes before him. We figured he would catch up to me around mile 12.

Right from the start, I wasn't really feeling it. I was having a hard time motivating myself. I was pushing my pace and our route was hilly. It was also pretty warm out, even that early. I was holding my pace and doing okay. I was having a hard time staying focused. I kept thinking of ways that I could cut the route short. Around mile 8, I was really not wanting to do the full 18. I was thinking that maybe we should just do the half marathon at the Gorge instead. My pace was right on track so I don't really know what the problem is.

Around mile 11, we had a water/bathroom stop. I stopped and waited for Trevor. I wanted to walk home. Actually, I wanted to lay down in the grass and fall asleep. After about five minutes, Trevor came running up. We walked for a minute and then kept running. It was then that I fell apart. My pace slowed quite a bit. I was glad that we kept moving.

The last two miles were really more than I could handle! There was one big hill around mile 17 and I said to Trevor "I'm walking that hill". We got to the top and ran the last half mile home. When we arrived home I said "why'd you make me run 18 miles" and Trevor reminded me that it was my idea to run the marathon. Damnit, why do I come up with ideas like that.

Oh well. Its over and we did it. There will be many more long runs like that over the next 8 weeks. They have to get easier....right?

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Marathon in 9 weeks

Last year was full of marathons. In 2010, we did 5 marathons and an Ironman Triathlon, so if you count the marathon at the end of that, then we did 6 marathons. This year, I have done one marathon, Trevor hasn't done any. We did the Rev3 half ironman triathlon in July and have been wandering aimlessly since then. Our workouts don't have a focus like they do when we are training for something. We have decided to do the Vineman full ironman in July, but its not really time to start serious training for that.

I really want to do another marathon this year. The only one that is close enough to home is the Columbia Gorge Marathon on October 23rd. We did this marathon last year and it was an awful day. You can read my race report here. I have brought up the idea of doing this one again and Trevor keeps saying no, he has no interest in doing that one again.

Here is the conversation we had the other day:
Me: I really think we should do the Columbia Gorge Marathon
Trevor: Okay

I guess I wore him down and so now we have decided that we'll do it (unless its a torrential downpour like last year and then we are going to breakfast instead). That means, we need to start training for a marathon. We've been running 3 times a week and our long runs are between 10 and 13 miles. We've got 9 weeks to get that up to 26.2 miles! We'll do 18 on Sunday and that will give us a pretty good indication of how the next 9 weeks will go.

I am actually really excited at the chance to redeem myself on the Gorge course. They've changed it a bit this year and I am interested to see if its any easier. Last year I was so disappointed at the weather. I have dreams of this marathon being run in the crisp fall air under blue skies and falling yellow leaves. That's what I want this year. I guess we'll see on October 23rd. For now...its time to run!!!