Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2 Years

2 years ago, I was about 50 minutes into the bike portion of IMFL feeling like I was going to die. I had major stomach issues after that swim, and the first 12 miles of the bike royally sucked. But I did it! Man, I cant believe it's been 2 years already. In some ways it feels like a lot longer, and in some ways it feels like I just did it.

I just got done reading my recap and boy, does it make me want to do another one. I will, just probably not anytime in the near future. The next time I do it, I will be better. Just like the next marathon I do, I will be better. So I've got a lot of work to do!

Speaking of that, I've been doing good with getting myself to the gym, and last night I did my first interval workout on the treadmill. I only did 4 quarter mile repeats, but I did them at a sub 8:30 pace, and I didnt die, so that is a good thing! I'll get that sub 30 minute 5K, then we'll work on a sub 60 minute 10K. Right now my half marathon PR is about 2:35, so I'll have to assess things and figure out a new goal for that. And we all know what my marathon goal is. All in good time!
So, since IMFL, here is what has kept me occupied:

- I took a year off to be fat and lazy

- I got laid off, and spent 4 months getting caught on my Soaps instead of taking advantage of the time off and training. The only productive thing I did was paint the kitchen cabinets.

- My sister in law got married in Colorado

- We sold our old house (in 3 days, I might add) and bought a new one

- I turned 30

- Courtney got married

- I hosted a fetus party (baby shower) for my friend Julie

- I got to touch Chrissie Wellington

- I did 3 marathons

- I did a grand total of 2 tris, including HyVee

So, I guess I've kept busy enough.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lets ban slow people from running!

Earlier today, a friend of mine from RE forwarded me the link to this article in the NY Times discussing "plodders" doing marathons:

Ironically, she sent it to me about an hour after Dan sent me this article about the woman who was proud to be DFL at last week's KC Marathon:

Both ends of the spectrum there! First off, I am a slow runner. I think we have established that by now. When I first started running, I was sort of embarassed about it. And it was for exactly the elitist attitude that is displayed in the first article. But I quickly got over it. Because I enjoy doing it, and it makes me feel good, and I'm proud of myself for getting out there and doing it instead of sitting at home on my ass watching 90210 reruns every Saturday morning. Not that I havent thought many a time that I would rather do that!

Yes, I would like to get faster. But "faster" for me is not the same as "faster" for you, or for anybody else. For me, it means being able to run a sub-30 5K and a sub-5 hour marathon. Those are MY goals. There are always going to be people, like those quoted in the NYT article, who will think that those time goals are totally lame and that I'm not a REAL runner. Well, pardon my French, but they can fuck off. The thing is, no matter how good you are at something, somebody will always be better. And VERY few people are born with such natural talent that they just start off being an amazing athlete. Everybody has to work at it. And just because some of us have to work really hard to get under 5 hours in a marathon doesne make our efforts any less valid than people who have to work really hard to get under 3 hours in a marathon. So, whatever.

Thankfull, I have encountered very few people who are so enamored with themselves that they look down on anybody else's pace or ability. And really, if you have to look down your nose at what other people are doing, doesnt that sort of take the joy out of what YOU are doing? I think it must. So tomorrow morning I'll go out and run 6 or 8 miles at a nice 11:40 pace and go home feeling good about what I just did, and then sit on my ass and watch football. Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me!

Speaking of which, I have to be pace group leader tomorrow morning because Kristi is out of town....and we're going to Ponaks tonight. I learned early on that mexican food on Friday night + Saturday morning run = bad idea, but here I go. We were invited out, and I cant turn down Ponaks! That's sacrelig. Or maybe I just like to punish myself.

I'm actually looking forward to running, I havent run since Chicago and I'm ready to get back out. Well, I did go to the gym a couple of times this week (which felt great) and one of those times I got on the treadmill after I lifted with the intention of jogging for 20 minutes. That turned into a 10 minute jog because my legs were toast. Woooo boy, were my legs tired. I dont know if it was still from the marathon, or from lifting again for the first time in a couple of months. Probably a combo of both. But, it was a good week, and I'm excited to get back to running and get back in the gym.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Go faster

I was just catching up on some blogs, and a paragraph in Liz Fefofsky's blog stuck out at me:

The best long course athletes come from short course backgrounds. Speed & technique before endurance. Why? It is much easier to make the neuromuscular changes required for good biomechanics/form when you are working on shorter distances. The more you can hold form over longer distances, the more efficient you will be, the faster you can go. Want to stay at the same slow speed? Shuffle a marathon year after year.

Hmm. Uh, yeah, that would be me, shuffling a marathon year after year. And I wonder why I'm not really getting faster. I don't mind putting in long runs. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. But I hate, HATE doing speed work. I also have convinced myself that it is a waste of money to do any races shorter than a half marathon. Sigh. For a reasonably intelligent person I can be pretty dense sometimes.

So. What am I gonna do about it? Well for one thing, I really do need to be doing some shorter races. 10Ks would be good. Also, and I know I have been saying it for-ev-er, but I need to get back to some strength training. In looking at pictures of myself at races several years ago back when I WAS doing strength training, I had much better form. Here I am at my first ever tri back in 2004.

Look, I'm actually striding out! Suffice it to say, I do not look like that in any pictures from more recent races, and I know it's because I'm weaker. Weak body = poor form = slow times.

And I know I've been saying this one for a while now too, but I really need to drop 10 lbs or so. It's not even an question any more, if I am going to get a faster marathon time, I NEED to do it. It was all so much easier when I was single and spent 2 hours a day at the gym and basically ate nothing but chicken and rice and green beans! Because here's the thing, cooking for just yourself is boring. So it was just easier to have a pretty basic, clean diet. But I do love to cook, and in the last 3 years that I've been married, I've been doing a lot of it. I try to make pretty healthy foods, but it ain't chicken and rice and green beans. I think my biggest problem is portion control, I don't exactly need to eat as much as Dan eats.

So! Here is my plan.

  • I am not going to do a spring or summer marathon next year. I wont have the time to work on speed if I have to start ramping up my mileage right away after the first of the year.

  • I will do a fall marathon, and really, I'd love to do Chicago again.

  • I will do a spring half marathon, maybe Olathe again, and PR there.

  • I will also do at least 2 5ks and 2 10ks by the end of the spring session of RE. Right now I couldnt even tell you what my PRs for those distances are, as I cant remember the last time I've run one.

  • I will sign up for the spring RE speed sessions.

  • And by God, I will lose 10 lbs!

It's fun to just have to worry about going far. But, I think it will be even more fun to go far, faster!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chuck Norris never ran the Chicago Marathon

I did not make 5 hours. It wasn’t for lack of trying, it just wasn’t in the cards. Which is kind of a bummer. But then I realize that I DID PR by 8 minutes, which is certainly nothing to be bummed about. Actually, it’s really kind of hard to be bummed about much of anything when you think “hey, I just finished a marathon!” I really hate people that get so competitive with themselves or other people that if they don’t meet a goal, they act like the whole experience was a waste of time. Because it’s never a waste of time.

So anyway, we rolled in to Chi-town Friday evening. We were staying with some friends up in Glencoe, which was really convenient and nice not having to pay for a hotel downtown. Friday night was pretty low key for me, Dan and his friend Heath on the other hand were up until 3 playing Golden Tee and doing shots of Patron. I was woken up around 5:30 by Dan sleepwalking, throwing a pillow at me and trying to find the bathroom, and he was still drunk when I got up at 8:30. I’ll cut him some slack though since Friday WAS his birthday. I’d need to drown my sorrows in Patron too if I were turning 39. Haha! Almost 40 :)

Saturday we watched the KU game and then drove downtown to packet pickup. I have never seen such a huge setup for a race expo before, it was crazy! We caught the tail end of it though, so I didn’t have to stand in line or fight any crowds, which was nice. Saturday night was another low key night, just dinner in and then early bed time for me.

The thing I had the most trouble with in getting ready for this race was deciding what to wear. It was COLD. Not chilly, as in its 50 degrees out, cold as in its 30 degrees and people are wearing winter coats. Luckily I brought a pretty wide assortment of clothing options. What I ended up going with was a short sleeve shirt, and 3 long sleeved layers on top of it. Then I wore some old pants over my running shorts, along with a head band and gloves. I had planned to wear my pants right up until I crossed the start line, but ended up taking them off before I even got into the starting corral because my top layers were keeping me warm enough.

Once I made my way into the starting corral, I positioned myself behind the 11:00 min/mile sign. I talked to a guy from Lawrence who was wearing a Turkey Trot shirt from a few years ago, as well as a whole bunch of other people standing around. We were so far back, we couldn’t even see the starting line. When the gun went off, it was like a clothes hamper had exploded. People started throwing shirts and jackets and pants everywhere! Dan was standing along the side somewhere, and a pair of pants in my size actually landed on him, so he stuffed them in his backpack for me. Ha! It took a while for us to start moving, and once we did it was lots of “walk a few steps, stop, walk a few steps, stop”. I had expected that with a race this big, so it was fine. There was so much clothing on the ground though, and NICE stuff. Adidas and Nike technical jackets, pants, etc. Looking at my results, it took me about 17 minutes to reach the start line, which really isn’t bad at all.

After I got going, it was just one huge mass of humanity. I normally really hate crowds, and it was definitely crowded, but not so bad that you had no room to move or people were constantly bumping into you. So it was actually really enjoyable. Almost right away we went through an underpass that was over a block long, so my Garmin lost reception for a couple minutes and threw off my readings for the rest of the race. Oh well.

The first several miles were all through the streets of downtown, and they were just PACKED with spectators. It was so cool, I’ve never experienced anything like it. This whole way, people were still shedding clothes left and right. After about the first mile or two, I started getting warm and decided to take off my top 2 layers. Let me tell you, the homeless people in Chicago cleaned up on Sunday. There were so many clothes being tossed aside, I guarantee they all are being put to good use.
The first few miles ticked by so fast, but I was making sure to stay on my target pace and not speed up with all of the adrenaline. It was hard to do, because it was all so exciting! Another funny thing while we were in the middle of downtown, I have never seen so many guys pulling off and taking a piss on the side of the course! Every alley we passed was lined with guys peeing on the side of buildings. Oh, to have it so easy.

I hit the 5K point in 36 minutes, which was just about right for my target pace. I was feeling great, the weather was perfect for running, there were tons of spectators, and I was trying to just soak it all in. I hit the 10K point at 1:12, which again was just about right for me. We headed north through Lincoln Park, then turned west for a couple of blocks before heading back south. Now, I love Chicago, but I don’t know too much about the specific neighborhoods though. But this was most definitely the gay neighborhood because there were tons of tranny and cross-dressing cheering sections. Ha! I loved it! You don’t get that everywhere!

I was still chugging along, feeling great. Hit 15K at 1:47 and 20K at 2:22. Right around that 20K mark Dan spotted me and yelled my name, and I managed to see him for a second as I ran by. I think I was in the middle of eating a pouch of sport beans at the moment. We turned west right before we hit the halfway point, and I about died when I heard what song was playing as I came up on it. They had some huge speakers set up right by the 13.1 mile clock, and they were playing….the Nebraska tunnel walk song! I know Nebraska isn’t the only team that uses it, but talk about motivational!

The part of the course where we headed west was probably the most boring and had the fewest spectators, but the streets were still lined with people. They just weren’t necessarily 10 deep like they were when we were downtown. Whenever we made a turn and headed back towards downtown, I kept my eye on the Sears Tower (I know it’s not technically called that anymore) to try and judge how far out we were. Right about here is when it started feeling like I had a LONG way left to go. Up until this point I had been doing really well with only walking through the aid stations long enough to drink, but I was starting to take longer walk breaks. I was still feeling OK, but my knees and hips were getting really tight.

I hit 30K at 3:40, and according to the text update that Courtney got, I was still on pace to finish in 5:10. That’s when things went downhill. And looking at the course map now, I can almost pinpoint exactly where things started getting really painful.

A few weeks ago, I had been talking with some people during a Saturday run about how marathons are so hard because they are mentally tough, and they don’t really HURT, they are just uncomfortable, but that you start thinking that it WILL hurt and that’s when things get bad. I had been telling myself the whole race that that was the case, it wasn’t going to hurt, it might be uncomfortable, but it was nothing that was going to kill me. Well let me tell you right now, that is just a lie that runners tell themselves in order to get to the starting line of another marathon. Because that shit HURTS! I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and I was hurting. Bad.

My knee was getting really painful, but almost the worst part was my groin muscles were getting really tight, which was making my whole torso hurt. My abs still hurt today. I was trying to stay positive, but I was definitely at that “IhaterunningandIamneverdoingthisfuckingshiteveragain!” point. So, the last 8 miles or so I spent a lot of time walking and being pissed at myself for thinking a marathon was a good idea. But everyone else around me was obviously in the same boat, so that did help some. I wanted to stop and lay down more than I’ve ever wanted anything, but every aid station had a “runner drop out” tent and I’ll be damned if I was going to use one of them. So, slowly and painfully I just kept going. I obviously wasn’t going to make 5 hours, but I really didn’t care.
FINALLY we turned back north and we had less than 3 miles left at that point. 3 miles really isn’t a lot, but it sure feels like it when you are at mile 23. Around mile 25 I saw something that actually did make me laugh out loud. A guy was standing on the side of the road, cigarette in one hand, the other hand holding out 2 cans of Miller High Life. Ha! I doubt that anybody took him up on it, but it was pretty funny at the time. If I hadn’t been hating life so much right about then, I might have grabbed one just for the comic factor of crossing the finish line with a can of High Life.

When I finally made it to the “1 mile left” sign, I was determined to run the rest of the way in. It was more of a limp/shuffle, but I like to tell myself that it looked better than walking. Finish lines are always sort of anti-climactic for me, but it sure did feel good to cross it! The finish chute was so long, I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of there. First they had people there to give you a foil blanket, which was good because as soon as I stopped moving I was cold. It was still about 40 degrees, afterall. Then they had people handing out medals. Then were the people to cut your chip off. Then were the tables with Gatorade, then water, then bananas. All they had were bananas! Not that I felt like eating anyway, but come on, give me something besides a freaking banana. Then they had free beer, which I DID take. Yum! Too bad that holding my beer meant I couldn’t keep my blanket around me, and it was too cold for that, so I just had to drink as much as I could and then ditch it. I wanted to sit down so bad, but they made everyone keep moving through the finish area. I swear, finally about a mile later I was out of it and was able to get to the runner reunite area to find Dan.

After I found him, one of the first things I said was “I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking, but I am not doing KC!” Ha! Um, yeah, so about that. I would still like to run KC this weekend. But my body is laughing at me saying “you dumbass, that is the stupidest idea you have ever had, there is no way you are running 2 marathons in 7 days”. I know enough to listen to my body or else I’ll just tear myself up, so I will be sitting it out. I know a lot of people running it though, so I’ll just go cheer.

So once I got some warm clothes on and sat down for a bit, we went and met up with our friends Tyler and Amy who had moved up to Chicago last year. Tyler ran it too, and finished in 4:10. We walked around a bit looking for a place to eat, and we were GOING to go to Chipotle, but for some reason that my brain cannot comprehend, the Chipotles in downtown Chicago are closed on Sundays! WTF?! Come on now, it’s not like downtown KC that it completely deserted on the weekends. But I guess they lose enough business to not make it worth it. But they could have cleaned up this weekend with all of the marathoners! What goes better after a marathon than an 1100 calorie burrito!? NOTHING! So anyway, we found some food, and then Dan and I headed up back to our friends’ house in Glencoe.

My finish time ended up being 5:36, which yes, is a little disappointing, especially considering I was pretty close to my goal pace up through the 30K point. But like I said, it’s hard to be disappointed at all when you finished the damn thing, regardless of the time. I absolutely LOVED this race, and will most definitely be running it again. I could even make this a yearly thing. So maybe I’ll be back for 2010!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I would never wish for the heat they've had for Chicago the last 2 years, but come on now. Below freezing?!?!?! People! I know it has been a mild summer, but I am not ready to run in 30 degree temps yet. Oh well, I have run in much worse. The trick will just be staying warm before the race starts. I typically warm up pretty fast, so I guess I'll just have to wear lots of layers that I dont mind tossing. Thanks to our own personal Runners Edge meterologist (aka Brett Anthony), we've got a pretty good forecast for the race:

Time Temperature Wind Precipitation
7:30am 30 degrees, mostly clear West 10-15 mph None
10:00am 36 degrees, sunny West 10-15 mph None
Noon 41 degress, sunny West 13-18 mph None
1:30pm 43 degrees, sunny West 13-18 mph None

I'm shooting for 5 hours, so factor in a good 30 minutes for me to actually make it to the starting line once the gun goes off, I should finish around 1. Lets split the difference and say it will be 42 degrees. Awesome. Dan had better bundle up. Or find a bar that's open early. I have a feeling he'll be doing the latter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If hard work pays off, the easy work is worthless

I know I havent posted in a while, but things have been pretty uneventful. And, I'm almost afraid I'll jinx it if I talk about it, but damn, things have really been clicking! All of my runs have felt awesome.

A couple of weekends ago I had a 20-miler that turned into a 19-miler and left me with some sore hips and blistered feet. But, that was because I had accidentally worn my old, worn out shoes. The right shoes truly make that big of a difference! As luck would have it, we were running from the Garry Gribbles store in Lawrence, and there was a NewBalance rep there that day letting people "test drive" their shoes. We started off with an 8 mile loop through the KU campus, then stopped back at the store before heading out for the rest of the run, so I was able to switch into a new pair of NB at that time. They were better than my old shoes, but definitely not for me. I'm an Adidas girl, and even when my shoes are new, they feel good to me. These did not. Of course, my feet were already blistered, so that probably had something to do with it. But really, that's my only "bad" run of late.

I've got my pace band for Chicago and am feeling good about being able to hit my time goal. Last weekend I did 14, and ended up with a negative split for the last half. I hooked up with some people in a little faster pace group, and pushed myself to stay with them. I ended up doing that last 7 at what will be my race pace, and I still felt great at the end. So, that really boosted my confidence. And all of my weeknight runs I've been doing faster than race pace, so that is feeling good too. Just under a month to go, I'm starting to get excited! And I'm still hoping to do KC that following weekend assuming that I feel good. October should be a fun month!

Now, I know that a lot of "pure" runners do not run with headphones. They say you should be listening to your body and concentrating on your stride and breathing and all of that, not zoning out listening to music. Well, I like to listen to music while I run, and I think it helps me. I dont wear headphones on my long Saturday runs since I'm with the group, but I do during the week. Nothing makes me pick up the pace like a little Nelly or Luda coming on!

I always like hearing what other people have on their running playlists, and people sometimes ask me what's on mine. Some of my favorites are:

Best of Both Worlds- Van Halen
Cold Hard Bitch- JET
Fuel- Metallica
Get Back- Ludacris
Heart of a Champion- Nelly
I Don't Care- Fall Out Boy
Ladies and Gentlemen- Saliva
Let it Rock- Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Lose Yourself- Eminem
Move Along- The All-American Rejects
Rollin- Limp Bizkit
Runnin' Down a Dream- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Stronger- Kanye West
Whiskey in the Jar- Metallica

Friday, August 28, 2009

20 miles tomorrow

Tomorrow I've got my first 20 mile training run for Chicago. Well, if you dont count ET! The weather is supposed to be awesome, so I hope everything goes smoothly. We are running over in Lawrence, which is kind of a hike, especially since I need to start at 6. But it should be a good time.

Last weekend I ran 12 and I just felt really rough. It sort of made me question the reality of running marathons on 2 weekends in a row, but I am just chalking it up to a bad run. Sometimes you just have a bad run no matter what you do! Running this week hasnt been a toon better though, I've been sucking wind like a freaking 2-pack a day smoker. I dont know what the deal is.

Last weekend, one of the ladies in RE who lives close to the start of our run invited everyone over to her house for brunch afterards. It was on my way home, so I decided to stop by. Her husband was there, and I heard him talking to a couple of girls from the group about triathlons, so I moseyed over and jumped into the conversation. Lets just say this guy turned out to be a complete dick. The conversation went a little something like this:

(after him making several mentions about IM Wisconsin)
Me: Oh, have you done Wisconsin?
Him: YEAH! Twice!
Me: oh ok
One of the girls asks a question about how it must be difficult not to draft on the bike with everyone coming out of the water and getting on the bike course so close together. Dickhead starts going on and on about how it's SOOOOO difficult and requries a great deal of skill not to draft.
Me: Or, if you're a slow swimmer like me and come out of the water behind most of the people, you dont have to worry about it. Haha!
Him: Well I'm MIDDLE OF THE PACK, so, that doesnt apply to me!
More conversation about triathons, one of the girls asks if Ironman races are the largest events.
Him: Yes, there are 2200 people in each Ironman, they have the most participants of any triathlon.
Me: Well actually, there are others that are larger. For instance, there are well over 4,000 people that do Wildflower every year....
Him: rolls his eyes at me like I dont know what the F I am talking about
More convo, in which I make several references to doing an IM
Him: Have you DONE an Ironman??
Me: Yes, I did Florida in 2007.
Him: Oh, that's the easiest Ironman course.
Me: Fuck you, douche nozzle!
What I really said: Well, I dont think I'd consider any Ironman EASY.....

And then I had to walk away before I throat punched him, and go home and call Courtney.

So, congrats to him on being a 60+ year old, middle of the pack, asshole who has done a grand total of 2 Ironman races in his whole life. I bow down to thee.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Well I always need a new challenge. My main goal for this year is to break 5 hours at Chicago, but for some reason I found myself looking for yet ANOTHER goal to tack on. So, um, how about 2 marathons within a week??? Sounds good to me!

I always see people with Marathon Maniacs shirts on, and so I was checking out the website this week and found myself being able to answer "yes" to over half of the "are you a maniac?" questions. I'm also keenly aware of the fact that I'm running Chicago on Sunday, October 11th, and that the KC marathon is on Saturday, October 17. Hmmmmmm.....the wheels are turning.

So! Last week after ET I felt great, I could have run another marathon over the weekend. But since Chicago is my "A" race, I did the right thing and took a whole week off. Even though I felt great and was ready to run again. Now, I know I'll be pushing it harder at Chicago, looking to meet my time goal, but I think I will still be able to run KC. And really, even if I end up feeling too trashed that week following Chicago, no skin off my back to not do KC. This just happens to be a good opportunity to get in 2 marathons in a week, being that I'm already planning on one, and the other one is local.

So that's the current plan!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ET Full Moon Midnight Marathon

So after a slight delay with our connecting flight in Phoenix, we finally got into Vegas around 10 Friday night. We were both starving, and since the hotel we were staying at was right across from the Hard Rock, we headed over there to have dinner at the Pink Taco. Ha! Dan got more than one giggle out of that one, I myself would never laugh at something so juvenile. Pfft.

I had planned to stay up really late Friday and then sleep in on Saturday, in the hopes of being SOMEWHAT rested for the race Saturday night. Um, that didnt happen. By the time we got done eating it was 11:30, which was 1:30 KC time, and I was beat. We went back to the hotel and the movie Sliding Doors was on (one of my favorites!), but I just couldnt keep my eyes open. Then I was awake by about 8:30 Saturday morning. Oh well, I figured I could take a nap later in the day.

We headed down to the pool and I found the rest of the gals from Runners Edge who had arrived earlier on Friday, and we spent a few hours there just relaxing and hanging out in the sun. Our hotel was right next to the UNLV campus, so we decided to take a walk over there to stretch out the ol' legs. We thought it might be kind of scenic, but all we managed to find were the athletic fields and an apparently abandoned greenhouse. After that we went over to the Olive Garden for an early dinner, and then back to the hotel to *try* to nap. I laid down in the room with my book, but just couldnt fall asleep. Normally I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but I just couldn't do it. So, I got a little rest, but no shut eye.

At 8:00 that night it was time to load up the busses for our 2 hour drive north to the middle of the desert for the start of the marathon. I think there were about 800-some people doing all the races (there was also a 10K, half mary, and a 51K), but everything was so well organized that it never felt like there were that many people around needing to get on a bus. Of course, a lot of people did drive themselves, which I cant imagine doing. Why drive yourself 2 hours out to the middle of nowhere to run a race in the middle of the night, only to have to drive yourself back when you finished? No thanks.

The drive out was pretty uneventful, and I think I did manage to catch a few minutes of sleep. Before we knew it, we were pulling up to the infamous Black Mailbox, which by the way is white, where we'd be starting from. It was only about 10:30 when we got there, so we hung out on the bus for a while longer before getting out into the "cold" air. And really, it wasn't cold, it was perfect running weather. Low to mid 60's.

Everybody was just milling around talking and having a good time, and the race director was on the bullhorn trying to locate a runner by the name of Hellen Keller. Or Hellen Kellen. Or something. But you can imagine how much fun we had with that one (it's Hellen Keller, no wonder she cant find the registration table!). Wrong, I know. Somehow everyone sort of got herded out on to the road, and before we knew it, she was on the horn saying "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!". That was it, that was our start! No big fanfare, no starting gun, no actual starting line, just "GO!"

Now, this is a race to do for the pure love of running, and for the unique experience of being able to run through the desert at night. As with the actual start, there was no fanfare, no bells and whistles. I decided to run with Cynthia and SueAnn from RE, and by the time people had gotten spread out after the first mile or so, it was basically just the three of us, passing the occasional person or the occasional person who would pass us. It was very solitary, but it was amazing. We weren't concerned with keeping any certain pace or any goal time, so we really didnt even pay attention to what pace we were running, we just kept it nice and relaxed, even making ourselves slow down even further several times. No need pushing it at a race that was just for fun!

The moon was a few days past full, but it was still very bright out. We all had to wear lights on our hats or carry some other kind of light, but you really didnt need them. It was more for safety. My light burned out after 2 and a half hours, but it wasnt too big of a deal. We could see the road just fine, and to either side of us we could see the shadowy figures of scrub bushes and joshua trees, with the outlines of the mountains in the distance. They had aid stations, but they were spaced every 3 miles, so a little farther apart than other races, so we had to carry our own water bottles. They did have cups, but they encouraged us to carry our own water bottles and just refill at the aid stations to help prevent littering the desert. I had borrowed Court's Fuel Belt, and it worked out perfectly.

The first half of the race was all on an incline, but it wasnt really that noticable until about mile 11. Then miles 11-13 got steeper and it definitely felt like we were running up hill. Since it was dark, you couldnt really see where the hill crested in front of us, our only clue were the increasing number of cars headed towards us. I guess people who had come out just to do the 10K and driven themselves were headed back to Vegas. Again, I dont know why you'd drive a total of 4 hours to run for an hour, but whatever.

Finally we crested the hill and we knew that the rest, quite literally, was all downhill. That sure was a great feeling! We picked up our pace a little bit, and I was still feeling really good at that point.

Now, one of the hard things about doing a race at midnight is timing your pre-race dinner. We at at 3 that afternoon, which was pretty early. But it still wasnt time for me to digest it before the race started. I had been hoping I could make it until the end, but ah, when you gotta go, you gotta go. They did have a couple of port-a-johns along the course, but of course, none when I needed one. So I just headed off the road a bit further than I'd gone just to pee, and took care of it. Ha! I was glad I had thought to stick some tissue in my pocket for "just in case". Now I'll tell ya, that moon seemed EXTRA bright right about then. I knew nobody could see me, but it still felt like there was a spotlight on me. So, check another first off the list.

By about mile 17, I was really starting to get stiff. This was now my longest run since OK City, and I was definitely feeling it. I was having to walk a little more than I wanted, and my IT bands were really tightening up, which hasnt happened in a long time. Thank goodness Cynthia and SueAnn were nice enough to stay with me, it sure helped having someone to run/walk with!

At mile 20 we had to pass the "town" of Rachel, which was where the finish was. Then we had to do a 10K out and back. I was super tired and sore and crabby by that time, so it was hard to head out and not just turn left and call it good. But out we went. Thats about when I hit the point that I've just decided I'm going to hit in every marathon. The "IhaterunningandImneverdoingthisfuckingshiteveragain" point. I started contemplating ways to get out of doing Chicago in 2 months. Could I break my leg? Get a concussion? Come on, there has to be some good way to get out of doing it, I cant just puss out! But I am never ever running a goddamn marathon again. EVER! Oh, and did I mention I hate running? Because I do.

It was also about this point that it got COLD. Up until then, it had been perfect. But now it was 5am and I was freezing. They say it's darkest before the dawn, well apparently it's the coldest before the dawn too.

The sky was just starting to turn pink, and when we turned around at mile 23 and headed back to town, we were facing southeast and had the pleasure of watching the sun come up over the mountains while we gutted out those last 3 miles. It was beautiful, I can't remember the last time I got to watch a sunrise, and I've never gotten to watch one in the desert. THAT made me so happy that I had done the race. When else do you get to do that? Watch the sun rise over the desert mountains while you are running a marathon? Unless of course you're Forrest Gump on your (totally unrealistic, I mean, he wasnt even carrying a water bottle) cross country run.

So we finally made it back to town and crossed the finish line. And once again, there was no fanfare, just a simple timing mat and a clock set up. No cheering fans, nobody waiting to give you a massage, just a simple "I'm done". It was perfect, I cant imagine mucking up a race this pure with a fancy finish. I loved it. Of course, I loved sitting down even more.

They had a big breakfast spread inside the Little Ale'Inn for us, but I never feel like eating after a race, so I just got a Coke. And a Coke never tastes as good as it does right after you finish a marathon. Seriously, best thing ever.

Because of when we finished, we were on the last bus back to Vegas, which didnt leave until 8. So we had about an hour and a half to kill just sitting around. But that was fine with me. Finally the bus pulled out, and we drove back the way we had just run. It was neat getting to see the landscape in the light! While we didnt see any animals while we were running (bummer!) we finally saw all the cows we had heard about on the drive back. They must have been sleeping when we ran by earlier.

It was about 10 by the time we got back to Vegas, and Dan and I still had to check out and head over to Planet Hollywood where we were staying that night. So I just showered up and we hopped a cab over there. Luckilly, it was closer to the Chipotle on the Strip, so once we got checked in at PH we hoofed it down there and I got my mandatory post-long run burrito. And again, they messed it up. The Chipotle in OKC made it too small, this place tore the tortilla all up when they wrapped it so it was hard to eat. I like my burritos big and fat and with the tortillas in tact! Whats so hard about that!?
By the time we got back to the hotel it was about 2pm and I FINALLY got to sleep. I took about a 5 hour nap before I woke up hungry again and we went out in search of dinner. When we got back to the hotel after dinner, I had enough energy to play $20 in the penny slots and then it was back to bed. Kind of lame going to Vegas and spending half of my time asleep, but that's better than blowing hundreds in the casino!

Monday we walked over to Caesars for the second highlight of the trip, lunch at Mesa Grill. I have a bit of a crush on Bobby Flay, so it was MANDATORY to eat at his restaurant. And it did not disappoint! Even Dan agreed that it was awesome.

So, all in all, a good trip, and a fantastic experience. Would I do a midnight marathon again? Probably not, but I'm glad I did it. Definitely an experience that every marathon runner should have, and it's a great way to check Nevada off the list. 4 down, 46 to go!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The important stuff

Some things are just more important than others. Getting Chipotle after a long run or a race happens to rank up there among the most important things in this life. And I have just discovered that there happens to be a Chipotle inside Harrah's out in Vegas. Score! So we should be rolling back into town after ET just in time for me to get showered up and go get my burrito. Or I might make Dan go get it for me. But regardless, I will have my burrito!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Meet Fred

So if you didnt know by now, I LOVE my dogs. Almost to an unhealthy level, and Dan sometimes wonders outloud if I love the dogs more than I love him. I am that person. Crazy dog lady. And I especially LOVE Boston Terriers. We have two of them, Penny and Walter. See, arent they cute?!

Then there is our big oaf, Max.

He was rescued as a puppy by my friend Megan, who found him and the rest of his litter abandoned with their mom in a cardboard box. Who would have thought that this little 2lb malnourished puppy, who could walk under Penny while she was standing, would turn into a big, loveable, clumsy 80lb beast?? Not me, thats for sure. He got a little bigger than we expected, but that's ok. My friend Dawn has his brother, Tucker. Which reminds me, we need to get together so the boys can romp around!

Anyway. So I love Bostons (and Max) and have been helping out a bit with the rescue group that we adopted Walter from. I've transported a few dogs, and held a few over night, but that's it. We weren't really sure about fostering, since we already have 3 dogs, and our house is a circus as it is. But then last week they had a message up on the website saying that they were in desparate need of foster homes. Well I am a total sucker for trying to help out some little Bostons, so I asked Dan, and he said we could. (of course, he was getting ready to leave on a 9 day fishing trip, so probably thought it would be hilarious to leave me at home with our three dogs PLUS a foster) So I called up the rescue agent and told her we'd like to try it out. She had a boy waiting to get into foster right away, so on Wednesday night I picked up Fred.

He was found as a stray down in Arkansas, and was turned over to MABTR. He is THE sweetest little guy ever! Just wants to sit on your lap and be loved and petted and give you kisses. The first couple days he wasnt too interested in playing with the other dogs, just wanted to stay glued to my side, but today he was out in the yard running around with them and playing chase. So I think he's getting a little more comfortable and coming out of his shell. He's such a good boy, he seems to be housebroken and he does great on a leash, but doesnt seem to know any commands. So we'll work on that.

I know he'll make an excellent pet for someone, but it already makes me a little sad to think about him leaving! Luckilly though, since we already have 3 dogs, we are NOT taking on a 4th of our own. No way. Dan has been trying to bribe me with the promise of letting met get more dogs if we move to the country, but since THAT isnt happening, 3 dogs it is.

So if anybody is looking for a new little friend, you can find Fred and lots of other Bostons that are waiting for a family at http://www.adoptaboston.com/

Monday, July 20, 2009

Problem solved!

Shin splints are gone! I got in 14 miles on the 11th, and it was painful. Took me quite a while to loosen up. Then I tried to run last Monday and I just couldn't. It hurt way too bad. I got maybe half a mile before I had to walk. I was starting to get really worried considering that I have ET coming up in 3 weeks!

So anyway, I had a chiro appointment on Wednesday and I mentioned to her my problems with my shins. She said that sometimes what causes that pain is that the smaller bone in your lower leg, not the tibia but the other one, gets a little rotated which puts stress on the muscles and ligaments. The little knob on the outside corner of your knee is where that bone attaches. So she felt my knees, and said that it seemed to be a little "out" on my left leg. She adjusted it, and, VOILA! Shin splints gone!

My right leg is pretty much 100% better, I must have been compensating in some weird way for the pain in my left leg. My left leg is still a little tender, but it is WAY better than it was. I did 12 on Saturday, and it felt completely fine after the first couple of blocks. I am so glad I decided to mention it to her. So I think I should be good to go for the rest of my training for ET, and for the race itself. And oh yeah, for Chicago!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shin splints

So apparently I have developed shin splints. I'm just assuming that's what it is, I've never had them before. Now I don't want to be overly dramatic and say that the pain is crippling or anthing, but, it hurts really bad! It feels like my freakin' tibia is going to snap in half. They do feel better as I run, but it takes a while. I ran 10 on Saturday and it took the whole first half for them to loosen up, and I ran 3 last night and they never did. Sigh.

I dont know what I did to cause this, I haven't really been doing anything that different. Unless the bit of lifting I've been doing has been enough to jack me up. It shouldnt be an overuse injury, because I haven't gotten my mileage back up very high yet. But it's not like I took a major break from running either. So who knows.

I guess the best treatment for it is rest. Well, I have a marathon coming up in a month, so I dont really have time for much rest. So I guess I will just have to ice after I run. Does anybody have any other tricks to help this feel better?

While reading fellow running blogger Oz Runner's latest post, I was reminded that I need to get a light for ET next month. They say you are required to run with a flash light or head lamp, and I know I'm not going to want to carry a flashlight in my hand for 26 miles. So I need to look into getting a head lamp. I am really looking forward to this race, it should be a total blast. I mean, when else do you get to run through the high desert in the middle of the night and watch the sun come up? Probably never! So it should be a good experience. One month from today!

Speaking of which, I asked Eladio what I should do about my long runs, since I'm following a training plan for Chicago which only gets me up to 18 miles before ET. He said I should be fine with that being my longest run. I dont know if I believe him. Seems like I should get up to at least 20! But he's the expert, so I'll trust him on this one. And I'm not planning to run it for time, so I should be fine.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Triathlons are fun

Somehow, I managed to be smiling in all of my race pics from Sunday. Granted, I knew where the photographers were, so I did make an effort to look like I was having fun when I came up on them. But I usually end up with a few where I look like I'm in excruciating pain. Not this time! Guess I actually WAS having fun!

Happy to be out of the water

Happy to be on the bike

Happy to be running

Happy to be done!

And thanks to Bryce for figuring out some sort of magic internet voo doo and saving my pics off without the watermark.

Monday, June 29, 2009

HyVee Tri race recap

First off, this race was AMAZING. It was probably the most fun I have ever had at a race. The organization was superb, the course was fantastic, and the race village was huge. Secondly, I am an idiot and didnt know that my Garmin has a "multisport" function that lets you switch easily between biking and running without having to reset it, so I didnt wear it on the bike. Seems like I keep learning stuff about it's functions AFTER a race. Oh well, now I'll know for next time.

Bryce and I rolled into Des Moines around 3 on Saturday and headed straight to this sports bar, Legends, to meet up with his friends Dutch and Tony (who also goes by Skinny or Big Gay Toni, depending on who you ask) who were also racing. Tony's girlfriend Katie was there too, as well as his parents. We hung out there for a bit, and then went over to the MANDATORY race briefing that was being held at a school not far from the race site. Usually the "mandatory" race briefings aren't ACTUALLY mandatory, but this one was. You had to attend before they would let you pick up your packet. Lame.

Anyway, lets get on to the first cool thing about this race. They give you the greatest schwag bag ever. You get a bike jersey (and not a crappy one, a really nice one that is actually in your size), a good Headsweats hat, and a nice back pack that is absolutely stuffed with goodies. I havent even gone through it yet to see what all is in there. IMNA needs to take a lesson from the HyVee folks, because you really should get a goodie bag of this caliber for doing an IM. I mean, this wasnt even a half, and it totally trumped anything else I've ever gotten.

So after that, we headed back over to Legends for some dinner. Tim had joined us by this point, and some of his buddies from Columbia came and met up with us for a bit. The Columbia guys are FAST, and rolled up in a truck with about 20K worth of bikes on the back of it. Jealous! I think they all ended up placing in their AG, or something crazy like that.

After dinner we headed down to the race site to drop off our bikes and check things out. This was my first chance to see how amazing the venue was. I think the thing that impressed me the most was the finish area. It was HUGE!! They had these huge grandstands set up on 3 sides of it, two separate enormous video screens set up so that everyone on the whole site could watch the finish line, and even just the lead up to the finish was so cool. Really made me look forward to finishing!

The way the site was laid out, the road that the runners came in on to finish created sort of an "island" in the middle of the site. It was cut off from the other side of the site with the TA and lake and all, but in that middle "island" is where they had all the tents with vendors and food and entertainment and such. So to get to it, they had 3 or 4 huge pedestrian bridges set up that crossed the run course at various points, connecting the two sides of the site. It was really neat. And I would have pictures of it, but I got there and realized my camera was dead. Damn!

Got our bikes checked in, checked out the site, checked out the swim start, and then headed back to where we were staying since it was about bed time. We were staying with Bryce's friend Stu's dad. He and his wife were nice enough to let us crash at their house even though Stu wasnt up there to race. Was in bed by shortly after 10 with my alarm set for bright and early at 3:45.

My one complaint about this race is the parking situation. There was minimal parking on the race site, so they had other various locations set up with shuttles to take people in. The weird thing was, they had the volunteer and spectator parking areas WAY closer to the race site than the athlete parking areas. The athletes were supposed to park about 5 miles away at some mall! Which would have been OK for getting TO the race, but afterwards you'd have your bike, and you couldnt take a bike on the shuttle. Which meant that you'd have to ride back to the mall. Which again, isnt that big of a deal, but sort of annoying. Lucky for us, Stu's dad offered to drop us off in the morning. His house was actually a lot closesr to the race site than the mall, so we'd have a shorter ride back. Plus we wouldnt have to wait around for a shuttle to get us down there.

We arrived before 5:00, got our chips, got body marked, and TA areas set up. As I was setting mine up, I realized that I had forgotten my swim cap. Damn! I knew they would have extras somewhere, so I set about trying to find them. It seriously took me about 45 minutes to track them down, because every volunteer I asked told me something different, so I spent a good deal of time walking around trying to find a damn swim cap. Finally I found them in a crate RIGHT next to the swim start. By that time, I had just enough time to jump in the water and test the temp before the first wave went off. They had told us that the water temp was 86, which is HOT! It appeared to have cooled off a bit though, and was actually pretty comfortable. Still not wetsuit legal, but not boiling either.

The first swim wave went off at 6, and then another one went off every 4 minutes. Mine went off at 6:24, and the time seemed to pass pretty quickly while I was waiting for it. There were a lot of people in each wave, and I had a hard time finding some open water to work with. It was very crowded the first 300m or so, and I was getting kind of frustrated. Also, my goggles fogged up pretty quick, and they had the buoys spaced really far apart, so I was having a hard time sighting. I kept having to sight about every other stroke, and that was really slowing me down too. Finally I was able to get some open water, but I was still going pretty slow because of my sighting issue. I should have just taken the time to stop and take my goggles off and rinse them out. Oh well.

It was a clock-wise loop, and after we turned to head back to shore, we were pretty much straight into the rising sun. Which was making it even HARDER for me to sight. Fantastic. Also, somewhere in here, I was just swimming along, minding my own business, when my hand came down right onto some dude's package. I dont know if he was backstroking or what, but it was definitely package! Ha! So I finally made it back to shore, not really sure what my time was since I wasnt wearing a watch, but just happy to be out of the water.

When I got to the TA, I was happy to see that there were still quite a few bikes left. Even though I was in one of the middle waves, I was sort of worried that I would be at the very tail end of people heading out on the bike since my swim was so slow. But I wasnt, so that was good. I feel like I had a pretty quick transition, just pulled on my helmet and socks and shoes and was off. We had a short ride through the park, before pulling out onto the main road for the course, which was a simple out and back.

This course was completely flat, with just a couple of small hills before the turn around. On the way out, we had a slight headwind, which I only really noticed because I felt like I was working really hard and not going very fast for my effort. I got to the turn around, which kind of scared me a little bit after falling over and landing on my face at the one during IMFL, but this one was a little wider and I maneuvered it just fine.

The ride back in was FUN! I did drop my chain one one of the hills here, which usually freaks me out, but I just stayed calm and clicked back up a gear, and caught it right back. Now we had a tailwind, and I was able to keep my speed at over 20mph the entire way back. I was passing quite a few people, which felt great. There was one chick who was going just a TINY bit slower than me, but every time I would try to pass her, she moved over and blocked me. Granted, there were a few people right in front of her, so I couldnt tell if she was doing it on purpose or doing it because she was thinking about trying to pass them. But it was pissing me off, and I knew I needed to get around her. So finally I just punched it up a notch and got by.

Coming back into TA I was just having a great time and feeling realy good about my bike. Since I decided so late in the game to actually do this race, I'd only gotten in 3 rides, none of which were 25 miles long. My goal had been to average 16mph, and I ended up averaging 17.3. So I was very happy with that! When I got back to my rack, the two people on either side of me had racked really wonky, so it took me a minute to get my bike on. Then I just switched out my shoes, grabbed my race belt and the Garmin, and headed off.

The run was the part I was least worried about, since a 10K is cake, but this is where my lack of training really hit me. It was pretty apparent that I hadn't done any bricks, and my legs felt like lead. About the first mile of the run course was inside the park, which was nice because there were so many spectators. Once we got out of the park, there was a pretty decent hill, which I decided to walk up instead of expending too much energy running it with my heavy legs. Of course, this is where I saw Tim, as he was flying down the hill going the other direction. At the top of the hill was an aid station, and then a nice downhill, before we turned and had to make our way up another gradual incline. About half a mile after I turned around, I saw Bryce going the other wasy, and of course I was walking, AGAIN. Seems like I only see people I know when I'm walking.

After I got up the last hill and hit the aid station, I FINALLY started feeling really good, and was able to run the last mile or so at a pretty good pace. Coming into the finish was as cool as I had imagined, they just really made a big production out of it. I got my medal and a water, and then headed off to find a place to rest in the shade for a few minutes before looking for everyone. Really, the only part of the race that I'm disappointed with is my run, I know it could have been a lot faster. But I'm happy with the rest of it, my main goal was to have fun, and I did. My splits ended up being:
Swim (1500m): 43:42
T1: 2:10
Bike (40k): 1:26:26
T2: 2:00
Run (10k): 1:13:17
Overall: 3:27:34

After I cooled off a bit, I crossed one of the pedestrian bridges into the middle of the action, and went straight to the beer tent. I knew that's where they would all be hanging out! I found Tim and his Columbia friends there, so I grabbed a beer and joined them. Bryce joined us shortly thereafter, and we just stayed there for a while in the shade enjoying some beverages. We knew Dutch would be finishing sometime soon, so we went to watch for him, and then straight back to the shade and beers after he came through. I can't remember exactly how long we stayed there, but I think it was about noon when we left.

Tim had been lucky enough to grab a close parking spot, so he offered to drive Bryce and I back so we didnt have to ride. Definitely nice to have a ride. We got showered up and headed back to KC, and I was home by about 5:30.

So I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone, I really dont think I've ever had a better experience. IM was close, but I think this was actually better, in terms of just the overall event, and I didn't think I would ever be able to say that. I will definitely be back next year. If all races were this cool, I'd race every weekend! :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Triathlete stew

The website for the HyVee Triathlon has posted the current water temp for the reservoir we'll be swimming in. As of yesterday, it was 83 degrees. Yes, that's the water temperature. They also made a note that as of that reading, it is not a wetsuit legal swim. Ha. Ha ha! Wear a wetsuit in 83 degree water? Are you kidding me?? I will be shocked if I see ANYBODY wearing a wetsuit on Sunday. Even a shortjohn would be so hot. I might get heat stroke by the time I finish the swim anyway, no way am I adding a layer of neoprene. Swimming is supposed to be a little bit refreshing, this will not be.

It has really been too hot to do much of anything outside the past few days. I had actually planned on going out to SMP last night and getting in one last swim in the lake, but I ended up needing to drive out to Harrisonville to pick up a couple of bostons that MABTR was taking into rescue. A "breeder" down in Joplin had them living in crates outside. The small, short muzzled breeds are especially susceptible to heat, so they should not have been out there. Poor guys panted the whole 45 minute drive back to my house. They sure were friendly little suckers for having been cooped up in crates their whole life! They were stinky as heck, so they both got a bath, and then got to spend the night down in the nice cool basement. If we didnt already have 3 dogs, I would have just kept them both!

On Sunday I got out for a semi-long ride, but still cut it a bit short because it was just so hot. I went out south to my favorite stretch of straight, rolling pavement, and got in about 18 miles. I was planning on 25, but dang! Being out there in the blazing sun really takes it out of you when you arent acclimated to the heat yet. We've had a fair number of days in the 80's so far, but lately it's been in the mid-90's with a heat index of over 100. Hopefully it cools down a LITTLE bit for this Sunday.

This Saturday I'm getting up to run 12 with RE and then heading up to Des Moines for the main event. Should be a good time. Dan's got the Lenexa BBQ this weekend so can't come. The couple of time's he's missed a race it is a bit weird without my cheering section!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New game plan

OK! Since I have decided at the very last minute to go ahead and do HyVee on the 28th, I have some serious business to get down to. I havent swam in....a while. And I havent ridden in....a while. I feel a bit like a tool for doing a race that I'm not trained for, because I hate it when other people do that. But, I'm fully aware of my limitations, so you wont find me complaining afterwards about a less than stellar performance.

So here's the plan. They have open swim in the lake at SMP on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I am going to go out there this week and next week to swim, and then ride. I'm not a HUGE fan of the monotony of riding in SMP, but I can always just leave the park and ride out west if I feel like it. I dont want to just give up on lifting the next 2 weeks since I was kind of getting into my groove, so I'll still do that on Monday and Wednesday. And I WILL get up and run in the mornings. At least I know I can run a 10k with no problem.

Sunday is Fathers Day, but I am going to plan to get a semi-long ride in. Ideally, I really need to get at least 25 miles. So all that should leave me sitting in an OK position. It will just be fun to go race again!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Did I really say that I didnt feel like doing any tris this year? What the hell was I thinking?! I was in Lawrence yesterday to watch IMKS 70.3 and was SO bummed that I wasnt racing. So bummed that I actually almost started crying a couple of times. It just felt so weird being a spectator. Sad!

However, it WAS fun getting to finally watch one! I've never gotten able to watch since I've always been racing in them. And this was a great race to watch! The way they had the run course set up, it was basically a loop of 3 out-and-backs that the athletes did twice. So we parked ourselves at the 3-way intersection of all those out-and-backs and got to see quite a bit of action. Plus, there were a bunch of big name pros doing the race, so it was cool getting to see them! Chrissie Wellington, Tim DeBoom, Joanna Lawn, Nina Kraft, Luke Bell, etc. Very cool. Aaaaannnnnndddddd, Chrissie Wellington even stuck around after the race and was handing out medals to the finishers, then after that she was over in a tent signing autographs and I got to get my pic taken with her! She seemed so genuinely nice and happy to be there, and was so patient with everyone wanting a picture or autograph. Very nice to see.

I had gone out to Lawrnece on Saturday night to spend the night with Courtney at her friends house and then head over to the race site early on Sunday. It was nice not having to drive all the way in from JoCo! Then Dan and Bryce came over in the morning because we had a couple of other friends racing too. It was cloudy and cool and sprinkling for most of the morning, then by the time people were out on the run course the sun had come out in full force and the temp had jumped up to the high 80's. And of course I got fried, I swear, I'm never prepared with sunscreen. Bad times. Dan had brought Max and Bryce brought Emma, so we also had 2 very hot dogs on our hands. We were able to find some shade out along the run course though, and Max cooled off pretty quick. I wore the ever popular "more cowbell" shirt from IMFL, and it was of course a big hit. I dont know what it is, but people just love that shirt!

So! Since I realized that maybe I DO in fact want to do some tris this summer, I'm going to go ahead and do HyVee in 2 weeks. I signed up months ago, and had planned to ride up to DesMoines with Bryce since he's doing it too and Dan has the Lenexa BBQ that weekend and cant go. I was going to just scrap it, but being at the race yesterday quickly changed my mind. So I guess I need to get on my bike and into the pool a few times here in the next couple of weeks! It's an oly, so I feel like I'll be fine with my MINIMAL swim and bike training. I wont be fast by any stretch of the imagination, but lets be honest, I never am. I'll just go and have fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

No 70.3 for this one

Ok, so 2 weeks of lifting are done, and I feel good! And I know it's all mental at this point, but I even feel like I already LOOK better. I just dont feel as squishy anymore. The scale has gone down a smidge, which is nice, but honestly that's not even what I really care about. Before I got into all this running/triathlon stuff, I was a total gym rat. Lifted 6 days a week, and I looked like it. Super lean, cut, just looked the way I wanted to. You'd think that running marathons, and I dont know, DOING AN IRONMAN, would keep a person in shape. And it does. Just not the same shape as hitting the weights.

My overall plan is to be running in the morning then lifting after work, but so far I've only managed one morning run. I've found that I have just been so TIRED, not to mention sore, with this new routine. I'm starting to get more adapted to it though, and am not feeling quite as worn down as I was at first. So that's good.

Saturday is the last day of RE for the spring session, then we have a week off before the fall sesion starts. I know, I know, the "fall" session starts in June. But it ends in the fall, so I guess thats why it's called the fall session! My friend Stacey is going to come run with us on Saturday, and is thinking about signing up at mid-session in August to train for the KC half marathon. I hope she does! I have been trying for ever to get someone to sign up, and I may have finall found a victim, er, taker. Anyone else in KC should really consider it as well, I just cant imagine a better way to get your long runs in. So, go sign up. Do it now! www.kcrunnersedge.com

This weekend is the IMKS 70.3 race over in Lawrence. I was all gung ho about signing up for it back in the fall, and was going to sign up for the Steelhead 70.3 as well. But I just sort of petered out on the whole tri thing this year and decided to just run. I dont know what it is, but for some reason having done a full IM now just makes anything shorter seem kind of blah. I know I shouldnt think that way, doing a sprint or oly or half is still a blast. And lord knows I need to work on my speed. But there's still that part of me that thinks "Ironman is just so COOL, anything else is pointless!". Kind of like how anything less than a full marathon now is boring. Geez, I really need a better mindset :)

But anyway, I'll be heading over to Lawrence to watch Court and a few others race it, and maybe that will snap me out of it when I see all the fun I'm missing out on. Because a half really is a fun distance, it's totally doable training-wise, and you're still done before dinner.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hello summer!

So yes, i got a little lazy after OKC and took about 3 weeks off. Eladio is always telling us though that the Kenyans take a MONTH off after a marathon, so what is 3 measley weeks!? Psh! Totally deserved it. I was definitely ready to start running again after that though. The bad thing about the timing of my littl break was that it happened to fall during apparently our only 3 weeks of spring. So once I started again, it was hot. Well, in the 70's, but thats a pretty big jump from where we had been. But still not bad though.

This past Saturday I had a 12 miler and thought I might just have heat stroke. Even though we started at 6:30, so I was done around 9, it was still about 80 by the time I finished. Usually I have a few people to run with, but Saturday everyone in my group was only doing 8. So they turned around at 4 miles, while I still had another 2 to go before I got to head back. I dont mind running by myself, and it was kind of nice to be out on the trail without anyone else around. The first 4 miles were pretty flat, then the last 2 before the turn were HILLY. Long, steep hills. The kind where you're pretty much forced to run on your toes to get up them. Fun times. But at least that part was in the trees and shaded.

On my way back, when I was at about mile 10.5, I passed two older guys going the other direction, not in our group. As they passed me, one of them looks right at me and says "better pace yourself!". WTF?! Pace your damn self, dude. Did I really look that bad? Probably so. I am not one of those girls who looks cute when they are running, I always end up looking like a hot mess. Oh well.

On Memorial Day Dan and I went to the Royals game, and as I was sitting there in my shorts, I looked down and was MORTIFIED by how my legs looked. No wonder my thighs got chafed at OKC, they are a big blubbery mess! Well, relatively speaking, anyway. I need to get those puppies toned up again.

Now, I knew I needed to start doing something else besides running. So in a half-hearted attempt to do something, I (dont laugh) had bought the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD and was going to do that in the mornings before work. Which I did, for a few days. But dang, it is boring! It's a decent workout, I can definitely give myself a better one on my own. It would definitely be good for beginners though. So anyway, I'm going to start getting up and running in the mornings, and then lifting after work. Works out well, since it's starting to be hot in the afternoons when i get home anyway, and I'm not a big fan of running in the late afternoon heat. So we'll see how this goes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OKC Marathon recap

Yes, it's been a while since I wrote anything. But I will make it up with a nice long post! And if I can ever find the cord for my camera, I'll put up my pictures from the race....

Windy and humid. Two words that you do not want describing the day of your marathon. But the two words that most accurately described Sunday.

This was my first Runners Edge bus trip, and I really loved it. We left Saturday morning around 8, and rolled into OKC sometime after 1. We headed straight to the expo to pick up our packets and do some shopping. Marcela, Pritha and I were starving though, so we skipped the shopping and walked over to Bricktown to grab a sandwich as soon as we got our packets.

Once everyone got loaded back on the bus, we drove part of the course to see what we would be in for on Sunday. The parts we saw all looked relatively flat, with just a couple of short hills. Nothing to worry about. We got checked into the hotel and everyone had a chance to relax before dinner. I was so glad I had gotten my own room, a king size bed all to myself! Quite the luxury when I’m used to sharing a queen with Dan and the two bostons. I read some more of my book, took a quick power nap, and woke up ready to eat again.

Now, at this point, I should mention that since Friday I had felt like I was starting to get sick. Not really bad, but just that feeling that I WOULD be feeling bad soon. My eyes were hot, I was a little achy, and felt like I had a slight fever. I had been downing Gatorade all day, partly to make sure I was plenty hydrated for the next day, and partly to try to flush out whatever was in my system. I hoped that all the fluids and a good night’s sleep would have me feeling better in the morning.

About half of the people in our group had decided to go elsewhere for dinner, but the rest of us headed down to the pasta dinner. The OKC marathon is a memorial marathon, run in honor of the 1995 Federal Building bombing victims, and the pasta dinner was actually held on the memorial grounds. I had been to the memorial before, and it’s of course very touching. But being there to run a marathon, which is an emotional experience in itself, just made it even more so.

The dinner was really good, as far as pre-race pasta dinners go, and they had live music and several speakers. The first speaker was Amy Palmiero-Winters, a runner who had lost her leg to being hit by a car while out on a training run. Despite that, she’s an elite athlete and holds several world records. She would be running the marathon on Sunday while pushing a 9 year old girl in a wheel chair. Those are the people that really inspire me, and the ones I think about when I’m out there hurting. I remind myself of all the people who do races with a prosthetic leg, (or TWO prosthetic legs, as is sometimes the case) and that if they can do it, then I sure as hell don’t have anything to be complaining about with two functioning legs.

We also got to hear running legends Dick Beardsley, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers speak. Joan won the first Olympic women’s marathon event in 1984, and is still a world class runner today. Up until that point, women’s distance events were not allowed in the Olympics because of a (very wrong) notion that women were not capable, or would severely injure themselves. Now it’s widely accepted that women are actually physiologically built BETTER for endurance events than men. So, there!

Once we got back to the hotel I headed up to my room to relax, read some more of my book, and catch the news. We had known that thunderstorms were likely that weekend, and were all a little worried they’d be hitting OKC in the morning. We lucked out and they didn’t hit OKC at all, but stayed to the north and west.

I woke up on Sunday morning just praying that I would feel better, and I didn’t. I still felt like I was getting sick. But at least I didn’t feel any worse! So before I even got out of bed I knew that the day would be a struggle. We all met down in the lobby for some quick words from Eladio and a prayer, then headed off to downtown. It was very crowded, this was by far the largest race I’ve done. I believe there were around 20,000 participants between the marathon, half marathon, relay, 5k, and kid’s marathon. It was so nice riding the bus, since we were able to get dropped off fairly close to the start, and not have to worry about parking or anything. I dropped off my gear check bag, after a bit of trouble finding where I was supposed to do that, and got in the start corral behind the 12 min pace group. Surprisingly, I was having no nervous tummy issues, which is a first for me. No last minute trips to the port-a-john!

The start was right next to the memorial, and before we started they reminded us that we were running a memorial marathon with 168 seconds of silence. One second for each person killed in the bombing. I don’t think there was a dry eye down there after that. Once the gun went off, it took me about 10 minutes to get to the actual start mats since I was so far back, and then I was off!

I was wearing a pace band for a 5:15 finish time, so I knew how fast each mile needed to be. Runners Edge uses a “smart pacing “ strategy that has you warm up the first couple of miles at a much slower pace, pick it up in the middle to build a cushion, and then accounts for fatigue at the end. So my pace band employed this method instead of an even pace for each mile.

Before I even got half a mile in, the humidity hit me hard. I hadn’t noticed it much before I started running, but as soon as I did, the air felt as thick as pea soup and I was sweating like a pig. Great! Perfect way to start the race! We haven’t had much, well, ANY, humidity up here yet this year, so I definitely was not acclimated to it. At least it wasn’t too hot, and there was a nice breeze at our backs. There were lots of spectators at this point, and I was running with Marcela, so the mile and a half before the first aid station passed relatively quickly. Somewhere around that point Marcela stopped to use a port-a-john, so then I put my headphones on and tried to focus.

The humidity was really bothering me those first few miles, and just making me feel so sluggish. I felt like if I’d had any fever when I started, I was sweating it out now. My whole body just felt like it was burning up, and it was only in the low 70’s. That really worried me, and I was afraid I would have trouble in the later miles. But I just kept going, and tried to focus on where I was at.

Every mile I checked my pace band, and I was right on where I needed to be. So helpful, and very reassuring. I highly recommend using a pace band for anybody doing a half or full marathon (you can order one here). The miles seemed to be ticking by pretty fast, and I was in good spirits. Pretty soon it was time for the half marathoners to split off from those of us doing the full. I was actually really worried at this point, because when the half marathoners split off at Lincoln, I was totally alone. There was NOBODY around by the time I got to that point, and I HATED doing the last half of that race all by my lonesome. So you can imagine my relief to see that there were tons of people heading on to the full marathon course. Yeah! That meant I wasn’t totally at the back of the pack!

My feet were feeling good, my legs were feeling good, I was a bit stuffy, but other than that I was OK. Around the aid station at mile 8, I ran into Steve from RE. He was doing his first marathon, and starting to struggle a little bit. I talked to him for a minute, and then went on. It’s nice to have people to run with and talk to, but in a race, everyone needs to do their own thing and listen to their own body.

We were winding through some nice residential neighborhoods now, but by about mile 10 I was starting to feel pretty tired. 10 miles is a long way to run anyway, and then getting to that point and thinking about having to run another 16, well, it can be a little depressing. Just before the half way point my ipod died. Which was OK, because my sinuses were so congested that they were making my ears hurt, which made it kind of annoying to have earphones on. So it was nice to take those off. I stopped for a quick potty break at mile 13, and was back on my way.

Now, by this point, I was having an issue I’ve never had before. My damn thighs were getting chafed! Hello, thunder thighs! Gah! I think the main problem really was that my shorts were wet both from me sweating so much and from pouring water down myself at every aid station, and everyone knows that wet material chafes you way worse than dry. So they were wet and the seams were just rubbing my poor legs raw. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself the problem was. Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to lose a couple of pounds. But, whatever. It was the damn wet shorts, I tell you! Regardless of the cause, it was still painful. Luckily, right about then I saw the pink ladies sitting on the curb with a stick of sport slick getting their feet all re-greased, so I stopped and asked to use some. The pink ladies were these 3 gals in matching pink shorts and shirts that I saw a lot throughout the race, and they happily let me borrow their sport slick. Much better!

I knew we were getting close to the lake, and now I could see it. About that time I really felt the wind pick up, mainly because we were out of the protection of the neighborhoods. I saw DaShaun from RE in front of me a little ways, and made it my goal to catch up with him before the 14 mile mark. Just before you hit 14 miles, we turned south onto the trail that ran by the lake. And straight into the worst headwind I have ever dealt with. It was a sustained wind of about 25-30 mph, and I don’t even want to wager a guess as to what it was gusting up to. Up until then I had been pretty much right on my goal pace, and I just knew this was going to kill me.

The wind. I felt like I had run into a brick wall. All I could do was put my head down and try to make as much forward progress as possible. About then I caught DaShaun and we walked for a couple of minutes commiserating about this blasted wind. We decided we’d run to mile 15 and set out. Before we got quite to the mile, he decided to take a walk break and I trudged on. I felt like I was getting nowhere, and that if I stopped moving I would get blown backwards. It was that bad. I walked a lot more than I wanted to, because running really wasn’t getting me anywhere any faster than walking, but it was using twice as much energy. And to top it off, right about then the sun came out and heated things up. Fantastic! I had finally gotten over the humidity factor, and now I was dealing with wind AND the beating down sun. Thankfully, the sun went back behind the clouds after just a few minutes.

Finally, the road led us away from the lake. And straight up a bridge, which was one of the biggest hills of the course. I kept thinking that the wind would stop or that we’d turn out of it, but no such luck. We were pretty much straight into that dam headwind the entire rest of the race.

By this point, I had reached the point where I felt totally spent. I was tired, hot, sore, sweaty, I could feel the blisters on my feet, and I just wanted to be done. I wouldn’t really say I hit the wall, but my mood was pretty sour. Around mile 18 there was an aid station that had some “showers” set up for us to run under. Boy, did that ever feel good! We were still straight into the wind, but I had found MY second wind, and picked the pace back up a bit.

All along the course, they had banners up remembering the bombing victims. Each banner had one of their names on it, and reading the banners on this stretch of the course was getting me all choked up. I don’t know why NOW it was affecting me. I guess you just get to the point in any marathon where your body and your mind are so beaten, and all of your emotions are just right there on the surface. So it’s all just part of the experience, but I had to make myself stop reading them because getting choked up was making it hard to breathe.

The miles seemed to be going so slow by this point. Or maybe it was just that *I* was going so slow. Either way, I kept watching myself fall farther and farther away from my goal time and it was really bumming me out. I knew I would still PR though, but it was disappointing to not reach the goal I had set. I can’t remember where I was on the course when it happened, probably somewhere between mile 23 and 24, but when I looked down at my Garmin and it read the time that I had wanted to finish in, I just about started crying. But again, that made it hard to breathe, so I pulled myself together.

I was still having to do a lot of walking due to the frickin’ wind, but when I hit mile 25 I knew I could run the rest of the way in. There was an aid station about a half mile later, and I did walk through that so I could get a good drink. We turned a corner about a quarter of a mile before the finish, and it was a straight shot in so you could see the finish line. It was nice to be able to see it, and nice that I wasn’t still so far out that it would take me forever to get there.

A little before the finish, Eladio was standing on the side of the road watching for all of the RE people and gave me a high-five as I went by. I was so happy to cross that finish line, but it really wasn’t overly emotional or anything. I ended up finishing in 5:44, about 30 minutes slower than my goal time. So, that was disappointing, but I finished, and I PR’d (by about 25 minutes!), and I felt good. Really, that’s all I could ask for on a day that had less than ideal weather conditions and when I wasn’t feeling 100%.

The finish area was pretty large, and I had to look around for the place to get my chip cut off. I finally found it, and all the people sitting there were chatting amongst themselves and didn’t even see me. I had to ask about 5 times “are you taking chips?” before they finally saw me. Then, they tell me that they ran out of medals and shirts! Fuck! It’s pretty shitty to finish any race, let alone a marathon, and be told that you don’t get a shirt or a medal basically because you were too slow. I did manage to find a table that had finishers shirts left, but of course, they were out of smalls. I have NEVER gotten a size small finishers shirt. And the mediums are way too big, so I never get to wear any of my finishers shirts in public. Lame. I wish races would order more smalls, since they ALWAYS run out. Not all of use slow pokes are a size large!

At the OKC marathon, one of the cool things they offer are cheeseburgers at the finish. But, if you’ve ever finished a marathon, the last thing you want is a cheeseburger 60 seconds after you finish. A lady was walking around with a tray of them and pretty much shoved one in my face. I had to just walk away. And I still hadn’t found anything to drink! I REALLY wish they’d have some water available right at the finish, but you had to walk quite a ways to find any. So, didn’t meet my goal time, no medal, a too-big finishers shirt, cheeseburger in my face, and no water. But I was done.

I walked through the memorial on the way to where our bus was picking people up, and noticed that a lot of people put their bib numbers and medals on the chairs (each victim is represented by an empty chair). Very neat.

I got over to where our bus was, but our bus driver was missing, and the door was locked. Ugh! At least there were some benches right there, so I took a seat and waited for the driver and other RE people. Turns out, our bus was broken down, so a few of us had to catch a shuttle back to the hotel. No biggie. I got all showered up and packed and went down to the lobby. Our bus had been fixed by then, and everyone from the group was back to the hotel. I still had an hour to kill, so I walked over to Chipotle to grab a burrito. I must say though, I was very disappointed in my burrito. It was seriously about half the size that they make them here in KC. I don’t know if that is normal down there or if they were just being stingy because they were getting hit with all of us marathon people at 2 in the afternoon, or what. But I was not pleased! Think I’ll get a free burrito if I send in a letter of complaint? It still tasted good though.

We loaded up the bus and set out for home. One of the nice parts of the bus trip was having so many people to talk to and relive the experience with. Eladio let anyone who wanted to share get on the microphone and tell a little about their day. Most people did, and it was really neat to hear everyone’s stories. Only a couple of people hit their goal time, and many were quite a ways off, like me. So that definitely made me feel better. We stopped in Wichita for McDonalds (hey, Chipotle and McD’s within 4 hours of each other is perfectly normal) and then watched “Run Fat Boy Run” on the way home.

So all in all, it was a good trip. I feel pretty confident that if it hadn’t been for the wind and me not feeling 100% that I would have been able to hit 5:15. I know that no race is ever going to have ideal conditions, but hopefully I can hit one this year that has better than we did on Sunday. Next marathon is the ET Full Moon Midnight marathon in Nevada in August, and I’ll try for 5:15 again there.