Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 8 miler...

I hadn't planned on running tonight, but my gear was clean, my brain said run & my body agreed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Redefining Cold...

Yesterday was a crystal (howbeit ice) clear reminder of what one can overcome for what they love & subsequently what they hate (treadmills)...





If you had asked me if I would go for a walk around the block, shovel the driveway or to stand outside ringing The Salvation Army bell yesterday, more than likely my answer would have been "No".

When I pull up the weather widget I have the same reaction you do, the elongated sigh that inevitably slips out when you see that it's -13 again with a -30 windchill. What happens after that on days I have marked down to run is something I have yet to understand.

The thought of layering 2 jackets over 2 tops, one pair of tights over the other, a balaclava layered under the hat & face warmer, the gloves under the mittens doesn't really phase me. The thought of how miserably frigid the miles ahead could be if I haven't chosen the proper layering or route away from the wind doesn't come to mind.

Instead my heart beats a little bit faster at the idea of running. Just to seize that opportunity to conquer the obnoxious. A voice in my head says "you should do this, you can do this, it's only ________ miles."

Is this the voice of reason? Judging by the expressions on the faces of a few of the motorists I met eyes with along the way I am inclined to believe that no, it is not. It was a mix of "Is she out here on purpose? Who is she running from? Is she crazy? She must be crazy.".

When you set out to run 3 miles and end up going over 6 because you feel great, even with all of the Michelin Ninja layers, frozen hair,eyelashes adorned with ice & a face-mask frozen solid from your breath ... you know you have found something you love.

Soon enough these conditions will be familiar to me again & I wont be so fascinated by the fact that I can create frost & ice crystals. But for now I'm enjoying it in all of it's obnoxiousness. I feel so blessed that God has given me the capacity to because I know a lot of people don't. Yay, it's winter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lavished...

In the past weeks it has occurred to me that the life I live is blessed & with all of the passions I am fortunate enough to pursue, it is lavish.

The holiday/christmas season has it's way of displaying & enticing people into luxuries they do not have, but could. I admit that this time of the year habitually stirs in me the desire for things I want & for the most part do not need.

Step outside of the now evergreen & holly berry swagged stores, onto the trail & into the solitude of the woods where no advertising is being shoved down my throat and those inklings of discontentment fade. Where running through the steady rain, slipping on leaves atop of mud & the fear of deer hunters not noticing your florescence are instantaneously made worth it come sunrise.

Thus was the chronicle of last weekend's trail run with Maggy & Dannette (the newest recruit).

We began at 4:30am headlamps on, it was so pitch black with clouds of rain that we needed to use the small handheld flashlight too. Our breath fogs the air casting a haze in front of the lamps.

About 2miles into the run we come across a skunk, pause & with boisterous conversation encouraged it to move on so we could continue. Thankfully we do not get sprayed.

The route I mapped took us through areas of rolling prairie & sections of wooded single track.

5miles in the rain is now constant. While somewhat peaceful and serene falling onto the leaf encrusted ground below there were moments when it sounds like someone was following behind us. Logic says "That is because the rain is pooling on the tree branches before falling down in large droplets." Imagination says "drunk deer hunter? Beer, guns & dark, not a good combination." Logic wins.

Mile 7, avoiding swampy sections of the trail is not worth breaking stride. Our shoes sound like the agitate cycle on most washing machines, water sloshing with every step. The air temp is in the mid 30's so wet feet are less than ideal, but bearable.

Mile 8, the sun is just barely starting to rise. Several portions of the trail bring us close to gravel roads & we can see hunting rigs pulled off to the side of it. With the echo of a few sporadic gunshots we make the decision to pick up the pace a little bit. Two miles left to go.

As we pass one of the lakes the photographer in me surpasses the runner. So worth it.


We finish the route at the frigid seat porta-johns: a welcome sight. 10miles before dawn. Not fast, not particularly comfortable, but none-the-less enjoyable.

The journey to the Lean Horse 100 , 274 days from now, will have many trials and adventures. This was just one of them. I look forward to all of it, even as I sit here stiff & a bit sore from a week of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, crossfit & barefoot running all of which will hopefully make me stronger for the most challenging race I have set out for yet.

God,

You have lavished upon me a beautiful life. Feet that have run literally thousands of miles. Lungs that have breathed the hot, humid & crisp air on countless swims, rides, runs, grapples & yes, even front collar chokes. Eyes that have been humbled by views of such splendor that words fail to express it.

Every mile & every hour you are there with me. You know when my legs are so swift that they do not feel like my own, I relish in that. You know when my legs feel like lead, my upper body weighed down like mortar fighting for each push forward. You know when LVL2 class makes everything I learned in LVL1 disappear like a shaken etchasketch. My constant companion.

May all of your creation praise You. Including me. Training brings me pleasure & spurs me on to praise, to You oh Lord God. Thank you for it all & for family and friends that while they may think me crazy at times still continue to ask how it is going.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Years In Miles...

The Lean Horse 50k in late August was swiftly followed by my busiest work month for the entire year. No complaints, but posting to my blog hasn't been as high on the list of priorities. However hitting my goal of 2009 miles between swim/bike/run before the calendar flips over to 2010 has.

Maggie's "Years in Miles" Birthday run added another chunk to my mileage tally. Currently I'm at 1,927.8

It was a good day, here's some video/snap shots from the epic trail run...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lean Horse 50k- Race Report

The journey to Lean Horse began at midnight Thursday in a truck filled with tech gear, two overly excited runners & Cory our gracious driver/crew. Having taken many a road-trip as a kid the 9hr drive to Hot Springs, SD wasn't bad, but sleep was something of a precious commodity.

Arriving in Hot Springs we immediately headed to packet pick-up and I found myself feeling as though I had shown up to run the 5k at a Marathon. Once the pre-race meeting & meal rolled around this feeling only amplified. The ultra crowd (mostly 50-100milers) is such an inspiring collaboration of characters. Those with beards longer than my arms, leathery tans, sculpted legs, those with nicknames & even a few with the eldest child syndrome of "The family was fine enough w/o you wee 50kers coming along" type attitude. Overall the welcome was warm despite everyone being quite focused on the epic feat to come at dawn.

Dawn came early. With a solid night's rest & ambitions high Maggie and I were ready for it. After drawing a smiley on the back of our calves then applying a copious amount of sunscreen, deodorant and sport shield we were good to go. We watched as the 50 & 100miler's gun went off at 6a.m. before being loaded onto a bus then taken to the Carroll Creek aid station where the 50k started.

The ride there was gorgeous. Pine adorned rolling hills with roaming buffalo & deer everywhere. Once we navigated a slight detour (ie. getting lost) the bus dropped us off at the trail.

Porta Johns were non-existent most of the race course. The start was no different. Being that 20 of us had close to an hour to wait before the start and anxious bladders, it became a theme of people walking into the woods, behind a rock or off the side of the road to do their business. I couldn't help but laugh.

Soon enough a man with a stopwatch counted down from 10 & we were off! Mickelson trail is beautiful in the morning light, it is flat and fast. We ran comfortably at a 9:30-10:00 pace for about 7miles before meeting up w/ oncoming 50-100milers.

We continued on exchanging cheers & well wishes as we went. The temperature (as we thought it would) began to rise early, but being that South Dakota has a drier heat than North Dakota it didn't effect us, yet.

Around mile 12 Maggie & I got confirmation that there was only one other 50k woman in front of us. Several runners had mentioned this to us prior, but we weren't sure we could trust that knowing that sometimes women look like men in their running gear. However, when a group of runners tell you this at once w/ great confidence in their voices, you believe them.

From then on it became a challenge of monitoring pace, we were excited about our placement & that added boost of adrenaline kept trying to push us to a pace that couldn't be maintained for 31 miles. It was about this time too that the leading male 50miler passed us.

It also became a game of tag with this poor 50miler. He was struggling, low on electrolytes and leaning over to hurl every 2-3miles. I'm still unsure of how/if he finished, but I have never wished more that I had carried salt-tabs w/ me than when he asked for some.

There were times when aid stations (typically 5-7miles apart) seemed like an oasis in the desert we just couldn't get to fast enough. Cory was a Godsend meeting us between stations at several places along the course w/ water & orange slices (the best thing EVER).

I was not about to have a repeat of Fargo's fueling disaster so, even though I never felt particularly thirsty or hungry I stubbornly kept to my plan to gel every 3-5miles & take a dose of perpetuem every 10-12. This worked well & I avoided getting dehydrated, a problem which had taken several runners out of the race.

At mile 16 the heat was trying to edge a grip on me. Thankfully a compassionate volunteer at the aid station looked me straight in the eye, asked me what I needed, then grabbed my hat to fill it with ice. I am used to paper cups & gu being thrust out to be grabbed by oncoming runners & never being asked what I need at a race. This was unique and so appreciated.

With the relief of ice now melting & trickling down my neck Maggie and I had the chance to look ahead as we rounded a slight curve onto Argyle road. Runners who had previously run this race had told me about Argyle road, that said: seeing it for yourself is a different story.

This is where the epic part of the 50k would begin for me, the miles that lead up to that, the 16 miles we breezed through, one could consider a "warm-up".

What lay ahead was a monster hill stretching to the sky & in Maggie's own words "I hope heaven is at the top of that hill." explained our sentiments exactly. One part of my brain thought "Good now we'll be able to see how far ahead the 1st place woman is." & the other "Well, I hope our trail hill training out at Maplewood was enough.".

Thankfully the advice I took from an ultra-runner early in training bode well for us on race day. He said that most 1st time ultra runners never train to walk and you need to train to walk just as much as you train to run. What hills Maggie & I had covered in training we made sure to train w/ walking. On race-day that really shined. We walked as swiftly as possible (I would say we hauled) on the uphills, picked up the pace on the downhills & ran what was maintainable on what little "flat" section followed before reaching the next climb.

I am not about to complain about this road. In some sick way I actually enjoyed the challenge and it kept the mind occupied off of how many miles you were running. One hill at a time.

Once in the hills we quickly gained on the woman who was in first place and passed her. I looked over my shoulder multiple times expecting her to be close behind, but after a few rollers she was nowhere to be seen.

A few more miles conquered and the road felt more remote, we were literally the only people there for miles. Now imagine how startling it is to have a gazelle of a woman appear in your peripheral vision before silently disappearing over the next hill. I had just been passed by the leading woman in the 50 MILER! It was beautiful to watch that kind of talent.

Maggie & I decided that once we reached the aid station at mile 20ish we would give ourselves the boost of listening to some music. This was exactly what was needed. I played a little air guitar on the uphills & Maggie attempted a few Shakira type moves as we continued on.

Eventually around mile 24ish a gap started to form between Maggie & I. We had discussed this in training that we would separate 6-8miles from the finish and run what pace was comfortable. I had always figured that Maggie would be the one to pull away and she was. We stayed relatively close together for a few more miles. When the Garmin registered 26.7 I celebrated running farther than I had ever run and wanted to shout out to Maggie, but she must've figured it out as she charged ahead picking up the pace yet again, the gap widened.

I was not discouraged by her because I love this part of the race when it becomes your own and when it also becomes the most difficult. After chugging down two glasses of ice cold coke (Yum!!) at the last aid station I had accidently soaked my ipod when pouring water over myself and it would no longer work properly. With a little over 3miles left to go I wanted to be frustrated with that, but I decided it was time to pray/praise and give God the glory for how far He had enabled me to go and to ask for His strength to push me as fast I could go over the remaining miles.

My left quad was starting to get angry, but I pressed on. Trying to talk myself into mainly running, but it turned into a "don't let yourself walk more than 30seconds before running again" strategy I used at the Fargo marathon. I passed several men once we finally reached town and began to near the finish line. Not far off in the distance was a man looking over his shoulder every few blocks unrelenting in his goal to not let me pass him. I did not.

Rounding the corner by the DQ I knew I was close, I held back from running hard wanting to finish with a sprint which I did coming in at 6:03:44. WOOHOO!!!

Now when I tell you that I placed 2nd for the women, (Maggie taking 1st, go Maggie!!) and 6th overall don't cheer too loudly. Yes, I am proud of the finish, but there were only 20ppl. total in the 50k.

Instead cheer for the fact that I finished my first ultra & will never be the same. In the words of a friend "Welcome to the dark side of ultras". It is official, I am addicted to the long haul. Victory blisters & all!

Was I sore afterward, yes. Am I still? yes, just not as bad. Have a run since, yes! What is next? A 1/2 marathon in Oct. & a filthy 5k, but I will not be training strenuously for either. Now starts my off season: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. :) It has been a stellar race season!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Average Jo Sprint Tri-Race Report





My apartment currently resembles one that has been hit by a cyclone. Has it? No, of course not, I live in North Dakota where the only exciting weather happens in the winter. None-the-less starting at the front door continuing out onto the patio are what remains of the rain soaked Tri gear and my husband's riding leathers that have been set out to dry.

I readily admit that this level of disarray & clutter eats away at my need to have things tidy, but for the time being I am choosing to view the chaos as echos of the wonderful adventure that was this weekend.

Race Day!

Leading up to this race I was told by several people that it was a "busy" or "crowded" event. With this information in mind, I woke up early Saturday to make the hour & 1/2 drive to Perham,MN in hopes of attaining the best spot in transition I could before the bulk of triathletes arrived. A little over 15 min. after the park opened for set-up and body marking I was there. Entering the park I immediately noted three things.

#1.) I will have to take my road-bike onto a wet gravel road for the first 30ft. outside of transition before making a hard right onto pavement. Ugh.

#2.) The transition area is on grass.

#3.) With only one other triathlete setting up in transition over 15min. after the area was open to do so: this is not a crowded race.

With grey clouds overhead & already damp ground from the storms that rolled through Friday night, I was in no hurry to set up. I racked up my bike under a tree, attached the pirate flag & left most of my gear in the obnoxiously orange bucket beside it covered w/ a plastic bag to keep the rain out before getting body marked, wandering around the course & taking a short run.

The feel of the race was small town organized. Watching the other triathletes roll in I enjoyed the fact that this really is an "Average Jo" triathlon. Very laid-back, a lot of people's 1st tri and only a couple of people there to really kick it.

Compared to the HIM two weeks ago it was such a stark contrast. For the first time at a triathlon I had to mentally prepare to put myself at the front of the pack so that I wouldn't have to weed through slower competitors.

I also had the chance to be the more knowledgeable triathlete explaining how tris are done & even how to shift a bicycle on hills to the nervous 1st timers with a lot of questions.

Swim- 1/3 mile 9:08 Ranked 17th Overall among men & women!!!!

Just as the first wave of swimmers were released it started to pour. I was going to get wet anyway & I was in my wetsuit so this didn't phase me. However, my hubby who was already drenched by riding the motorcycle to the race was now getting rained on yet again. Thankfully my sister showed up with an umbrella to help keep both of them at least somewhat dry.

As my wave started to line up in the water I put myself at the very front. Which is actually a kind of intimidating place to be, but I knew the water was shallow & some people were planning to walk portions of the swim so it was the right decision.

The horn sounded, I chugged through the water until it was up to my hips then dove in. When I rolled to breathe I could see a lot of women still walking, looking tired from trying to push through the water. When I wasn't breathing all I could see were weeds. The kind that float about 6inches below the surface. It's a good thing I was more focused on my breathing because of the pace I was trying to maintain otherwise the fear of taking in a mouth full of weeds may have freaked me out.

My sighting was spot on, rounding the final buoy I sighted and was able to see that I was paced about 3rd or 4th in my wave. This never happens, I started to get excited.

Exiting the water I was tired, but I expected to be. I told myself from the beginning that a sprint tri needed to be a "sprint" so I had to give it all I got for each sport to get the times I hoped for.

T1- Guessing 2 minutes.

Unfortunately the rain caused some confusion amongst the volunteers & possibly messed with the timing equipment (no chips for this race) so I don't have the times for my transitions.

I was blessed enough to have a very kind triathlete next to me in transition who put a plastic bag over the gear I laid out just before it started to rain so there was no putting on of soaked gear over a soaked body. Despite passing through a kiddie pool just outside of T1 my feet were still covered in some grass which made its way into my sock, but other than that it was a good transition. Wetsuit came off easy, everything went on easy.

Bike- 12 miles 43:49 (16.4mph)

Clipping in on wet gravel was easier then I expected. The fogged up sunglasses was not. I passed a handful of people not far outside of transition & was able to stay ahead of them for the following miles. The roads were very wet so we had to ride cautiously, I didn't do much differently than normal but ride further into the lane to avoid the tire grooves that were holding water. The rain subsided to more of a mist, but about 6miles in we made a right turn into a stiff 20+mph headwind and about 9miles in made another right turn taking blasts of wind off of the lake making a few cyclists swerve.

It was a challenging bike, but I've trained in worse conditions so it was manageable. I had some muscle cramping that I had to push through, I also got passed by some people, I also passed about 20ppl (mostly those on mnt or hybrid bikes, but a few road-bikers too). The HEED was yummy.

Nobody was that fast on the bike in those conditions so while I was hoping for somewhere around 18-20mph I'm happy with my pace. I ranked 9th overall women for the bike!!

T2- Under a minute.

Swapping out gear at t2 went quick. During the bike my road-shoes filled with water, so my socks were totally soaked going into my running shoes, but still went on easily. I took a pull off of my gel flask before ditching it as I ran out.

Run- 4miles 36:07

At the start of the run my calves were thinking they were going to exchange words with me. I would have none of that.
I ran a pace I could maintain, took in some water.

The path we ran on is a familiar one & sweet spot for me. It is where I learned to run a little over three years ago. Back then I could only run for a minute or two at a time thinking I had to sprint those 1-2min. and here I was after already swimming & biking running faster and longer than I ever could on this trail before.

Around mile 2 I was starting to get annoyed with carrying my hand mounted water bottle. It was sloshy, I wasn't really thirsty so it felt like dumb weight. I ditched it by the side of the road that I could easily drive back & get it after the race.

By ditching the extra weight & my legs now feeling normal I started to pick up the pace. Passing people who had earlier passed me and were now fading. It felt fast, the kind of fast I usually feel during my Thursday morning group run. It was hard, but a lot of fun!

About 1/4 from the finish there is a short yet steep uphill. I decided not to beat myself up & fade by running up it so I walked. Then really hammered it at the end, sprinting across the finish-line. I love that I can hear my husband's voice crystal clear over the others cheering at races, hearing him say "kick it baby, bring it home" lit me on fire.



Total Finishing Time: 1:29:03!

It was a such a great/fun race for me. I placed 13th overall for the women & 7th in my age group. This is the closest I've ever gotten to placing at any of my races and I have to say it feels amazing!!! :)

Coming off of a stellar race like that mixed with knowing that the Young Life Olympic Distance Tri is 46 days away (if I feel I am able to do that the wknd before my 50k, haven't decided yet) & the Lean Horse 50k is only 53 days away all I want to do is get out there & train. I love to.

But, right now I am trying hard to be gentle to myself & smart. Yesterday once some of the adrenaline had worn off I noticed that the tip of my right index toe was hurting to walk on, red, sort of swollen & warm to the touch. No blister, no broken skin, nothing like an ingrown toe-nail. WebMD.com's symptom checker had a broken toe for the top hit when I put in my info. I'm not convinced yet, either that or I'm in denial.

Today it feels better than yesterday, which is encouraging. I'll give it some time, which probably means only biking & swimming this week. Hopefully it will be nothing. :) I'll find out!

On a side note, volunteers willing to stand outside in the pouring rain & wind like that during Saturday's race rock!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Liberty Triathlon 70.3- Race Report

The past three weeks have been a vivid reminder of why I love to swim, bike,run. With the marathon behind me, warm enough weather for OWS,great riding conditions & fresh-ish legs in the run I felt like a hamster set free of his plastic orb. It was awesome. The training that followed was equally so.

Fast forward to the week of the Liberty HIM and I had a solid plan for how I was going to taper. Take a look at my training log and you will notice my plan went down the drain when the plague monkey onslaught ensued hurling me into a kleenex & pillow oasis. There are worse things to have happen during a taper, like taking a fall with your bicycle several days before a marathon, but having a cold wasn't pleasant.

Friday- The plague kept me up most of the night with congestion, I maybe got 5hrs of sleep. We (Jeremiah, Mother-in-law & me) travel across Minnesota kind of on an intense timeline.

After a bit of navigating we find the race site. It is a beautiful well kept park.

I take a glance at the lake, "it doesn't look weedy, good.". Then I get the chance to eye over part of the bike course. I am one of those that doesn't always want to know what is ahead of me so we don't drive all of it. "It doesn't look nearly as hilly as what I have been training on, good.".

Our timeline gets as congested as I am. We hurry to pick up Jeremy's dad who flew in from Japan at the airport, then to the hotel where I am able to snag a short nap before heading to packet pick-up.

In the line at packet pick-up I hear a lot of triathletes exchanging their comments of being "so nervous about tomorrow" and I realize that beating this cold has kept me so distracted that I haven't had the chance to be nervous. I'm totally okay with that. By the time I make my way through the line I am starting to feel more worn out than I did after some of those long training days.

My hours are limited and I need to get some dinner then crash. Dinner at Chino Latino's is excellent, but all the sinus junk kept my appetite low and I don't eat much. As we leave the restaurant it dawns on the me that I have a half ironman TOMORROW and need to grab some calorie dense food I can stuff in my face at the hotel before nodding off.

My Beloved takes me to Lund's, a more upscale grocery store with stellar cookies. I get a vitamin C smoothie drink,fresh sliced mango,1/2 dozen macadamia nut cookies & one of those obnoxiously over frosted children's cookies. He also grabs me a bottle of Nyquil before arriving at the hotel.

I ingest everything listed above. Yes, everything. By this point I am feeling a little loopy from all the sugar and whatever it is in the Nyquil that makes you sleepy. Perhaps the mango & fruit smoothie will compensate for how unhealthy everything else was. But, I can honestly say I would do that as my pre-race fuel again, it rocked!

Saturday-RACE DAY!

My husband will attest to the fact that I move slow when I'm tired and even more so when I'm sick. So I set my alarm early and actually woke up on my own just a few minutes before it went off. Thankfully the Nyquil helped me sleep through the night & the healing mercies of my God had me feeling the best I had felt all week that morning.

Over five days of worrying if I would be able to actually race & if I could would I be able to finish all of it were put to rest. I knew I felt good enough to race and I was shocked to feel confident enough that with all the adrenaline, cold meds & prayer I would be able to go all the way.

Arriving at the transition area to setup I felt a bit intimidated by all the lean tri-suit clad athletes with their aero bars and Zipp wheel endowed tri-bikes. I had none of the above, but my road bike is very nice and fits me well, not to mention the best shade of orange. While setting up I see a few other simple set-ups like my own and I feel a little bit more like I fit in.

With my transition area set up I get body marked then head down to the beach for the pre-race meeting and to get myself situated in my wetsuit. I decide not to psyche myself out by swimming at all before the start, I was worried my congestion would really effect my breathing during the swim & I didn't want to know how bad it was going to be. There are two waves before mine, they start lining up & before I know it, it is my wave.

Swim - 42:49

As the horn goes off releasing the triathletes in my age group I take a quick glance up at the buoy beyond the olympic distrance's turn around. It seems surreal, it is actually race day, I am kind of in a daze, but I am doing it! I am instantly filled with passion & for a split second feel nervous for the first time at this race. I chug through the water until it is deep enough to break into free-style. Praise God my breathing seems to be okay and to my delight I am actually at relatively close pace to the other swimmers in my wave, even passing a few of them. It wasn't the fist & foot fight in the water I am used to during triathlons, which was nice. Even though I zig-zag a little bit, sighting is good.

I round the turn-around buoy, sight a few times and pick the line I want to follow to shore. In my mind I keep thinking "this is going a smooth as I could have ever hoped, make sure you are breathing to each side so your neck doesn't get sore & you need to do ABC once you reach the transition area.". Reaching the shore I feel great, not worn out but not like I wussed out and took it easy on the swim either.

T1-2:42

Stripping off my wetsuit, goggles & swim-caps then tossing them into the 5gallon bucket like I had practiced in my living room on Thursday went perfectly. The bucket was a great idea. Getting on all of my gear while soaked went fine too, my goal was to stay under 4minutes in T1 and I held to that.

Bike- 3:22:53

The first loop of the bike course went by so fast. I was averaging about 18mph which considering the hills and the 1.2mile swim prior is great for me. Cycling isn't my strongest sport, but I do love it which helps a lot. Attitude is a huge component of endurance races.

My plan to fuel every 15-20 minutes goes well, but I am drinking slightly more because I'm dry from breathing primarily out of my mouth due to all of the sinus crud. Around mile 35ish is when I am supposed to take in my hammer bar, but the idea of chewing something doesn't sit well with me so I take in more hammer gel & make sure I am taking in the Perpetuem drink first before the HEED.

At no time during the bike did I feel poorly trained for the distance. Despite being passed by a fair amount of people & only passing a few others myself. It was perfect weather for the ride, the volunteers at each intersection were absolutely fantastic which helped keep me invigorated.

Reaching mile 48ish on the bike I could start to feel my cold medication wearing off and my pace slowing down because of it. By this point the temps were starting to rise as well and at mile 50 I am low on liquids, but the bottle exchanges have already come & gone so I had to stick it out. Sometimes bicycling miles can feel like longer than running those miles, this was one of those times. In training I worried about bonking on the bike & I encountered a few spells like that while training. Thankfully I managed to keep from doing so on race day.

Yes, it got a little tough towards the end and I was ready to get off the bike, but my pace wasn't that far off from where I expected it to be all things considered.

T2- 1:42

I spot my hubby who is sporting his green spartan kilt as I enter the transition area. Seeing a familiar face who is as excited to see you makes me smile. I chuck my jersey, helmet & sunglasses into the 5gallon bucket, throw on my orange tank, race # & hydration belt, then my shoes before running out. My goal was under 2min for T2 and I held to it.

Run- 2:31:53

As I start the run I am shocked. Why? Because my legs can actually run! It takes the first three miles until I am actually comfortable with a pace/stride though. I also had to stop at one point to shake the sand out of my socks that got into them at T1.

It feels good to finally be at the sport where I feel most at home.

The run course is a black asphalt bike path that circles half of the lake, but is blocked by portions of wooded areas and rolling fields that keep those lake breezes from cooling me off. I can see the heat taking it's toll on the people I pass who are already on their way back from the turn-around point.

In hopes of avoiding my fueling/hydration issue I had during the Fargo marathon I start being proactive early. Taking in fuel every 3-4miles before water stations & topping off my water bottle every other.

The trail while hot & a tad hilly was a wonderful place to run. I enjoyed it. Reaching the turn-around point at mile 6.5 I was told to "celebrate the cone" which marked the spot so I did a little victory dance for the volunteers just to be obnoxious. I figure they have been waiting out there cheering for hours it was the least I could do. :)

Miles 7-8 were prayer miles for me. Not a wall, just time to refocus. I really wanted to finish the race well and have a portion of the run that felt fast. My pace wasn't bad until that point, but I wasn't feeling lithe. I started using the uphills as an opportunity to blow my now more congested nose, it worked. Scriptures of victorious battles & the Lord's provision cycled through my brain.

Then I started to pass people. Sets of two or three at a time. At least 10 ppl in those last few miles. Mile 11 I finally felt the lithe feeling that I knew I could pick up the pace and maintain it, so I did. At mile 12.8ish the route took me through a campground with lit campfires that really dampered my breathing, but Jeremy's Mom was there cheering me on.

The rest of it was literally downhill. About 1/4 mile from the finish I heard a group of people I didn't recognize cheering my name & reminding me to smile at the huge camera at the finish. Or at least I thought it was my name, pretty sure it was. After talking to DH on the way home we realized it may have been "Steve in a Speedo" (& crew) who's blog we've been following.

At the same time my gel flask pops out of my fuel belt & I'm starting to sprint so I just keep hauling.

Crossing the FINISH LINE felt as surreal as the start of the swim. It felt like an accomplishment, but at the same time one that would sink in over the following week or so. Which it has done.

Finishing time was: 6:41:59, Not bad!

I feel a bit bad for how un-celebratory or talkative I was at the finish, but for 13.1 miles I had been telling myself that I would be rewarded with a soak in the cold lake to cool me off & keep my quads from turning into rocks. Until that reward was granted I really couldn't think of much else.

This whole week has been a celebration though, I loved the race, the recovery has been perfect, my cold is almost completely gone & my appetite for food and more tris is definitely back. :)

What's next?

Well, since I was able to get ahold of the race director for the Average Jo triathlon in Perham,MN next weekend to okay my late registration (which she did). So that's where I'll be!

Trying to choose between long distance running & doing triathlons all summer is my current mental conflict. We'll see how it plays out. :) Either way, it will be a great racing season.

*Pictures will be available as soon as I can get them off of my In-laws memory card. The Vibram Five Fingers I was gifted with the day after the race have been the best thing ever & if you ever get to eat here, you will NOT be disappointed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recovery & Riding...

Much to my delight the past 1.5wks have been a shining recovery. Being that the marathon was so difficult I had mentally prepared myself for the recovery to be the same, but it hasn't.  The ice baths, walks, swims & hammer balm in addition to allowing myself a few more hours of shut-eye each night did my body wonders. 

The muscle memory came back into my legs about 4days after the race. I wasn't able to run with the comfort and what is considered finesse (for me) that I usually do, however, it was running and I was thrilled! I have logged three runs since then, with today being the best so far. I finally feel fast again. :) Woohoo!

Knowing that I have a full marathon base to go off of for the 1/2 Ironman next month my focus has now shifted to cycling. I love to ride & it gives those running muscles some more time to repair.  

So, yesterday morning I set out on an adventure to tackle 50miles of very hilly country roads w/ Tangerine.  Since I am relatively new to this type of cycling it was the longest distance I had set out to cover. Just the idea of it was exciting. 

Leaving Fargo the weather was perfect, the temps were sitting comfortably in the 60's and the wind was a gentle 8mph.  It is a 35mile car ride to the site I park & unload the bike so for those 35miles I had my usual moments of zoning out, going through my mental checklist of what gear to put on & what to put into my jersey pockets followed by checking the speedometer. It wasn't until I was just about to take my exit off of interstate that I realize the wind had started to pull the car. 

Unless you are one of those beautifully ambitious people that desire to train in harsh winds, this is not a good sign.  In order for my car to get tugged at as it was I knew the wind had to be a steady 25-30mph with a few 35ish mph gusts. Joy.  

While this inevitably put a damper on my desire to meet a time goal, it did not snuff out the drive to embrace this adventure. Yes, the wind might kick my arse, but I was still going to try it.  

Fueling for a HIM is very much uncharted territory. I had ideas of how I thought I would fuel on the bike, but such ideals had not been tested as my cycling mileage up until this point was split between commutes to the gym, time on the trainer w/ a swim in between & the commuting home again. Not exactly optimal testing grounds, but I had managed to grow quite fond of HEED.  Yesterday was my chance to test these ideals out.

Perhaps it's the fact that I'm polish, left-handed and somewhat dyslexic that I have difficulties with two bottle cages being mounted on my bicycle or perhaps it's my noob status as a cyclist. Either way, I had a plan. One bottle of HEED on the bike, one bottle of Perpetuem in the jersey pocket. Also in the jersey pockets were a Hammer bar, Gel flask, Cellphone & $5 in case I needed more water at the only gas station along the loop. 

Fargo tends to be fairly windy, but the amount of wind blocked by office buildings & homes is notable when you realize the lack of it on country roads lined with empty fields and endowed with a tumultuous crosswind. I had many conversations with My God yesterday, this section of road was just the start, "Lord, please help me stay upright."

With a watch mounted on my bicycle I kept a mental note not of the total time, but of each 15min lapsed. The plan was to fuel every 15-20 minutes. And I'm stoked to say the plan was spot on & worked wonderfully. 

There are times when the weather conditions I train in seem so obnoxious it's funny. As I turned into the one portion of the route that was directly into the wind it was one of those. If I didn't know any better I would have thought I could have been blown backward had I stopped pedaling at any point. It was so tiring, but the idea of how fast I would be going on the way back kept me going. 

Eventually I got myself out of the headwind & onto the part of the route I love/hate. A slight downhill before Everest. Trying to savor every once of momentum of that slight downhill & getting into the proper gear for the climb ahead is always a huge challenge. Everything was going great until *tink, clunk, ching* and zero resistance in my pedals.  These are sounds I do not long to hear. What do they mean? Your chain has just derailed. 

I heard this sound twice yesterday, both at the most inopportune times. But each time I was able to flip the bike over, put the chain back on & continue riding.  And each time, even with the kerfuffles I was able to climb Everest. 

The rest of the ride was a blast, well fueled, well geared.  There were sections of downhill I was going so fast it actually made me a little nervous, the first loop I tapped the brake a little bit & the second I just enjoyed it for all it was worth.  

We as people live so much of our lives driven by fear.  Yes, there is always that tipping point where a lack of fear becomes reckless, but for me half of an adventure is the fear of what lies ahead, what could happen & what you feel when you have concurred. 

I concurred those 50mi. yesterday.  Moments of it were beautiful & moments of it were ugly, but I made it and have an itch to push myself further and faster. Just hopefully with less wind and no chain derailments next time! :) 

T-minus 23days now until 70.3 I bounce back and forth between feeling prepared or not. Now I know what I'll need for gear & fuel on the bike. It's just a matter of testing my legs to see how the swim/bike/run all fit together. I see more bricks in the near future. It should be good. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fargo Marathon- Full 26.2- Race Report

When training for a race I often visualize in my mind how the events of the day may transpire. Partially to get myself psyched for the day & also to prepare myself for what may go array so that I am ready to encounter the obstacles ahead.

Since January I had been compiling pieces of this vision only to have it beautifully dissolved this Saturday. Very few things were as I had envisioned, but I still consider it a great race. 

The alarm was set to go off at 5a.m. allowing me enough time to eat & debate my choice of hat or beanie for the 100th time in a 24hr period before heading to the Fargo Dome. After a night of tossing, sleeping & turning the alarm was not needed. I was awake early, not the least bit nervous, but excited to embrace the challenge I had trained over 5months for.

Arriving at the Dome I met up with my running buddy Maggy who I planned to run most of the race with.  She was calm, collected & excited. We chatted for about an hour until finally the Announcer motioned all of the runners to start lining up. We quickly found our 4:30 pacer "Bill" who gave us an enthusiastic debriefing on how he paces a group & what to expect. The man has obviously done this before & loves to. It only added to our "Lets do this!" attitude. 

The starting line was packed with 13,000 shivering runners. The national anthem was sung, a prayer lifted up to the Lord (one of the day's highlights for me), then the crowd jolted as the gun went off. That jolt was followed by a 6minute walk for our group to actually reach the first timing pad. 

The weather other than being a bit on the cool side was nice. By mile 6 I was warm enough to exchange my beanie for the cap & ditch my gloves (thanks Sweetie). We continued onward into my favorite portion of the race course. Hearing the sounds of thousands of runners echoing between the buildings in Historic Downtown joined w/ the trumpeting pep-band was momentous.

I was blessed with an ambitious pacing group primarily composed of 1st time marathoners with a few seasoned athletes mixed in. Chatting with them, listening to the crowds & bands who came out to support us even in the literally freezing temps made the first 10 miles pass with ease.

For a while there I thought a sub 4:30 marathon was in store for me & Maggy. 

Then I reached mile 11, a brick wall. Having run several 1/2 marathons I knew hitting the wall was normal so I kept to my pace, despite quads that were starting to growl.  Around mile 16 it felt as though I was starting to break my way through it. This was an illusion.  If the brick wall wasn't going to come down, I was going to push it. And push it I did. I fought all the way to mile 18 before I was unable to keep up with my pace group after slowing through a water station. 

From miles 18-22ish I was still consistently running, just at a slower pace. My pace group was still within view 1/2 mile ahead. At this point I was between pace groups, the 1/2 marathoners had finished thinning the amount of runners on course & most of the spectators were cold and kind of weary of cheering. Since I choose to split my training between group runs & longer runs alone, this didn't effect me poorly, but it did make me wish I had my ipod. 

Jesus was my companion & conversation. I requested strength to keep pushing/moving the wall and that my family would still be there cheering me on at the spot I had chosen even though it was taking me a while to get there. The struggle kept me focused & in prayer which I remain thankful for. 

My prayers were answered at mile 24 as I rounded the corner to see my parents cheering, Loudly. There is no way to express how much I needed that. To have the incentive of them being there & the encouragement they provided once I reached them. 

Not long prior to reaching them I had started a run/walk approach. Only allowing myself to walk 20 quick seconds before running again until I could no longer run. Rinse, wash, repeat.  

Every water station from then on I topped off my water bottle & used it as a reminder to drink! When it's cold I have a hard time hydrating.  Race-day was no exception. Feeling light headed also reminded me to gel. Unfortunately the cool weather had turned my gel into paste which would not squeeze through the nozzle of my flask easily. So I started to unscrew the cap and pour it out instead. I popped a few shot-bloks in sporadically.

Miles 24-26 were crazy difficult. My quads felt as though they were trying to eat themselves or turn to stone and my back began to hurt which worried me. It felt like my kidneys. Still sort of light headed, feeling my organs & starting to get chilled by the now falling misty rain I decided to take a stop at a fire hydrant that had a sign post near it to crack my back & do a mental check to see if it was actually dangerous for me to continue on. 

Cracking my back helped take some of that pressure off & just standing for a few minutes was refreshing. Then came the realization when I tried to stretch my legs and could not lift my knees to hip-height that my muscles were running out of time and I needed to keep moving in order to finish. Passing my mental check-list I got back on the road. 

Encouraging other runners has always helped keep my mind off of a tough portion of a race, so that's what I did.  I passed a few of them, but my pace group at this point was no longer within view, let alone reach.  Not that I had the energy to rejoin them anyway. :)

Finally the Fargo Dome was within view. I attempted to pick up the pace. No idea if I actually succeeded, but I tried. Rounding the corner & entering the downhill chute the hammer finally broke through the wall I had been pushing for the last 15miles. The crowds were loud & I wanted to finish well so I used every ounce of upper body strength & energy I had left to thrust myself into a sprint and over that finish line. Yes!! I made it & I was under 5hrs!!!

Unlike what I had envisioned all my months of training there wasn't this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when the finishers medal was put around my neck. I needed to find my husband in case my legs would not carry me any more, I needed to find Maggy & I needed some chocolate milk. 

It is true what they say about not truly being able to enjoy your experience post an endurance event until about 3days afterward.  When I reached home & looked up my time. 4:38:36 I was thrilled. A 10:38min/mi pace even with the wall. But I still wasn't totally jazzed. More tired & sore than anything.

Today is day 3  and I can now say that I have all of the emotions of accomplishment & jazz I expected to have at the finish line. I pushed the hell out of that wall,mentally held it together when my legs were hashed, somehow sprinted across the finish line & also PRed my previous 1/2 marathon times. There is a lot to be proud of there!!

Since the race I have traded text messages with Maggy who did get her sub 4:30. (Yay Maggy!!!) Both incredibly sore, we can't wait to run our next race. I spent the first 10miles of the marathon "encouraging" her into the Lean Horse 50k this August. Now it is something she wants.

Yesterday I had a peaceful recovery walk. It felt great & even though getting up from a seated position, stairs and putting on my socks hurts like mad making my legs twitch in muscle spasms afterward, I attempted to run. Why? Because I absolutely love to run!!  Was I able to, no, my muscle memory hasn't come back yet. But I am hopeful it will soon.

Until then, icebaths, recovery walks & swimming. 

What do I think went wrong? I didn't get the amount of fuel in I thought I had. After unloading my race belt & setting my gel flask flat on the counter it revealed that I had only ingested maybe 2.5 gels. That is less than I typically take during a 1/2 marathon and only 40% of my goal fueling for this race. Not good. I should have started unscrewing the cap of the flask earlier, but that is a lesson learned. 

I was also still babying a bruised knee & tense legs from a fall with the bicycle Thursday. 

What's next? T-minus 32days until 70.3!!! Hoping for a quick recovery. I'll keep you posted. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Training: T-minus 4days...

Yesterday was one of those days. The kind of day that makes you wish all other days could be just like it. Knowing full well that if that were to truly happen over time such days would seem mediocre so you really shouldn't wish for that at all. 

As I left our apartment building & headed toward the garage to fetch Tangerine a strange sensation occurred, a breeze. It was oddly unpleasant. In anticipation for the day's ride I had neglected to put on bicycle shorts under my tights & being that it was three flights of stairs to climb in road shoes to go get them, I made the decision to go without. 

The Liberty HIM is only 38days away which means that I have exactly 38days to get my badonkadonk accustomed to riding with little-to-no padding. After clipping in and sitting down I realized that the saddle on my road-bike is actually reasonably comfortable. Not at all what I remembered from last year. Yes, one less piece of gear to launder on a weekly basis!

Exiting the parking lot I knew I was in tune for a stellar commute.  Sometimes equipment feels like just that, equipment. Other times it feels like an extension of my body. Ever since I was 12 Betty always felt that way, but Tangerine is new to me. A different breed of bicycle than I ever rode prior to becoming a triathlete & that intimate familiarity is still left to be earned. 

With the amount of riding I have been able to cover in training already this spring that familiarity is increasing rapidly. I am encouraged. It's like discovering the perfect degree of lean & balance for holding a heel or toe-side turn when boarding. Yesterday I found that with Tangerine. Each movement was fluid. 

There are sounds my ears long to hear, they inspire me & I seek after them. My Savior's voice, Jeremy laughing, the camera shutter, my feet as they kiss the ground as I run. The sound of beautifully shifting gears on my bicycle has become one of those sounds. It reminds me of the sound a cartridge makes as it is loaded into a gun. It is powerful & empowering.  

Upon arriving at the gym, I quickly changed into my swim gear & made my way to the pool. Still invigorated by the ride I was hoping to carry that into my swim, which I did. Doing so brought me to a PB for the 1.2mi swim. That only added to an already fantastic training day. There were points during the swim I got distracted & felt my form falling apart, but I am learning to remind myself to find my calm and get back into a comfortable flow of motion. 

It was a beautiful day.

Tapering for the marathon which is now a measly 4 days away has been a challenge in restraint. Running with my buddy Maggy today definitely helped. It is good to have a second voice of reason to encourage me to take it easy this week. I have so much excitement about this Saturday that it's difficult to just sit still. The warmer weather & clear skies hasn't helped that.

In my mind there is an almost constant ticker-tape of 26.2 thoughts. Will my layering be right for the weather come race day, will I have enough fuel, how many walls will I encounter, how long will Maggy & I be at the same pace, will I be able to spot my cheering family amongst the crowds, what should I put in my post-race bag, etc. etc. It has made work difficult, but I am managing. The Lord has also given my Beloved an added dose of patience. How the man can handle so much run/tri talk when taking most of this season off to pursue Jiu Jitsu is beyond me. 

All that said I feel ready. Ready to embrace the challenge of the race & passionate about the training that follows it in preparation for 70.3 

Do I always feel this way? No. Sometimes I feel tired, sore & more than a little crazy. But right now, I am ready. 

26.2 here I come! 

*Disclaimer: Betty is my snowboard, Tangerine is my bicycle & Maggy is a talented runner. All of which I have purely platonic relationships with. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Still on the Wagon...

Where the last 20days have gone has been somewhat of a blur. A delightful, tiring, yet inspiring blur. 

The ice & snow has now melted, the river levels have lowered & while the temps range from 30-80 degrees I have spent a good portion of my time training outdoors on foot or bike.

On bike: Bicycle commuting has been my primary mode of transport.  It is just as enjoyable as last year, but I am still in the "spring" phase of having to steel myself against inconsiderate motorists mixed with roads dusted with gravel/sand.  The looks I receive when I walk into the gym or a place of business all decked out in my cycling gear are fascinating. The elderly in general have an expression of intimidation paired with confusion, children think I am spandex clad super hero & tend to follow me around, the rest of the public just wonders why I walk so funny in those shoes and stare at them trying to figure out what type of shoes they are. It makes me laugh.  

On Foot: Marathon training has swallowed the majority of my mental focus in regard to training.  The Fargo Marathon is only 10days away & though I am looking forward to race day finally being here, I do not feel this way because I am sick of the weekend long runs or running.

Granted I have felt sick when running, but an odd thing happened after I spent the first 10miles of a 20mile training run feeling horribly green because I had foolishly over eaten at brunch & it had not settled before I set out. (Bacon, Cheesy hash-browns & Caramel rolls are not advised pre-run fuel.) Once I had reached that tipping point at mile 10 getting over the acid burps/nausea and went on to finish the final 10 miles beautifully I knew not only would I be ready to run the 26.2, but I want to go further & run an ultra. The strength I have to hold it together mentally when physically I my flailing definitely inspired me. 

After Fargo my running will need to taper in order to train well for the cycling portion of the 1/2 Ironman in June, but once that is finished I will start adding the miles back on in hopes to run the Lean Horse 50k in August. The 50miler is tempting, but as my hubby lovingly pointed out, probably not that attainable considering the terrain for the race & the average temp during it. 

Jeremiah has an amazing way of helping me to train smart & race well.  He is incredibly supportive, but can also be the voice of reason when I am over doing it or setting goals that I need more experience to realistically meet. It used to drive me nuts. But I've grown to really appreciate & need it. 

Work has swallowed up what is left of my mental focus. It is spring & with that comes a flood of a different sort for a wedding/portrait photographer. My first big shoot of the '09 season went very well. Now I have the challenge of balancing a busy training schedule & editing which thus far has been successful. I should be settled into that new routine in the next couple of weeks here.  :) 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Adventures in video blogging- Episode #2

This week's episode features highlights of a handful of the stellar training sessions logged so far. For more details (if you want them) check out my training log!

As a side note, at some point I should post a gag-reel of all of my bloopers. Hopefully I will become more comfortable in front of the camera soon. Until then feel free to laugh with me at my deer in the headlights expression & be happy that I have corrected the mic volume issues from last week. Also, ignore the wetsuit in the background. I haven't found closet space for it yet.

Without further ado Episode 2!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Video Blogging- Episode #1

I figured it was time to give this a shot. Hope you enjoy the video blog post for this week!


*After posting I realized that the final few seconds got caught off. Oops! Nothing terribly important, just blah blah about getting a hydration/fuel belt as the hand mounted water bottle isn't comfortable or sufficient for the longer runs I've been doing/will do.  Also, the Red River is supposed to crest again later this month which may interrupt some training, but I am trying to remain optimistic! Sorry about the glitch, I will keep things shorter next time to avoid that. Oh, and talk louder. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not so bad!

While most people wouldn't give a second thought to the way they swim, those of us that do triathlons spend hours in the pool each week trying to improve it. Since I was insanely curious about my form I talked my sister into taking some video (Thanks Ash!)

The swim was a very weak area of me last season, I just didn't enjoy it. Thankfully this season it is becoming more enjoyable and my form, judging by the video is better than I expected which is very encouraging.

Keep in mind it was filmed only a few hours after a race.







Any input or suggestions you triathletes might have for me would be great, feel free to leave a comment!

Floods & Blizzards

It is difficult to put to words the trials and triumphs I along with countless others in this area experienced last week in our battle against a rapidly rising river.

Lines of laborers & laughter outlined this city. We have been exhausted physically & emotionally. But we have rallied together & embraced what looked to be an impossible feat at times.



At the beginning of the week I did what I could to maintain a reasonable amount of training in the morning then sandbagging in the afternoon or evening. Eventually the need became too great & the toll on my tired/sore muscles wouldn't allow for that. I am not disappointed about missed training, it was necessary, but I am longing to get back to a normal routine.

It is hard to believe looking at the miles of sandbag levees & over a foot of fresh snow that in just 38days the Fargo Marathon will be run. I am looking forward to it now more than ever. Side-by-side the people of this city, knee deep in mud, covered in sand & falling rain (or snow) put forth a monumental effort to save the very ground thousands of runners will tread.

Yes, there are neighborhoods here that are almost unrecognizable due to the flooding. Wednesday I found myself in a sandbag line along a portion of the scenic route I run nearly every weekend. I was shocked when I finally realized where I was. It is now under at least 8-10ft of water.

Trails have been flooded or crumbled, houses have been lost, a few levees have been breached, but overall we have been successful & that is something to celebrate!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A few words...

Since roughly 124 miles of training amongst the three sports has left me with limited time & energy this week to blog I thought I would keep it short & use pictures to say the majority of the words for me.

As you can see my week has been beautiful & yummy.

On Tuesday Tangerine made it out of the garage for a ride around the parking lot. Still too much gravel & snow to ride far. I am hopeful for next week!

On Wednesday Jeremy surprised me with my mystery birthday gift that he could barely keep secret until it arrived. The new Ipod Shuffle. The card attached read "May this fuel your efforts & remind you that I am with you each step of the way." the engraving on the clip reads "For My Beloved Swim, Bike, Run".

The start of this week was a struggle to find solid ambition for training. (I'm in one of those grind weeks.) Between the encouragement of other triathletes/runners at the gym, during my Thursday group run & the gift from DH I was in good spirits for my 12mile run today. My body felt great, the conditions were perfect & the playlist function on the shuffle made it easy to listen to sermons along the way.

Now for the really sweet stuff. CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Or breakfast as it turned out this morning.) My Birthday is on Monday and since Nichole's isn't open on Monday Jeremiah brought a Sea Salt Chocolate Charamel Almond cake home for me early. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. And no, there is none left.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some things remain the same...

While catching up with an old friend I hadn't spoken with much over the past 2-3 years a prominent question was raised...

Is there anything about you that is the same?

On the surface there is very little, but the core remains the same.

Opposed to previous plans & desires I am not living alone in a canvas tent isolated somewhere deep in the wilderness writing about the joys and struggles of primitive life all the while compiling a vast work of photographic art to go along with the novel.

Instead I am living with my husband in a 3rd story apartment in suburbia writing about the joys and struggles of training for a 1/2 iron & marathon all the while compiling a vast work of photographic art that captures Other's life moments & whatever I find beautiful in my daily life.

I never did spent over a month on a three part tour of New Zealand, Fiji & Australia relishing in the beauty and culture of those wonderful places.

Instead the engine on the car I had just bought seized eating up all of my trip funds that were then needed to replace a vehicle. The month I would've spent on the tour I spent getting to know the amazing man who I would later marry & his family.

I no longer define the closeness of a friend by how much we agree on topics of life & religion. We are all imperfect people. I delight in how those imperfections reveal character and have the capacity to spur another person on. If we all agreed how would we grow in knowledge & understanding?

My appearance is no more anchored on trademark hair. Function has come before vanity. Function equaled to 2ft. less hair, no perms & no color, but I can fit it into a swim cap, under a helmet and run without being slapped by it.

My life, as it has always been, is one driven by passion & what my God has blessed.

The life I live now, while drastically different than what it used to be or what I thought it would be, is not a compromise to previous passions. Passion itself has not been relinquished, but rather morphed into other loves, adventures and activities.

Of course the quip of stubbornness has not relinquished either. (Only goes to prove the comment I made earlier about the imperfect.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Blizzard & Birthday Bike Shoes...

While spring may be on it's way (as evidenced by the daffodils on my previous post.) the weather this week has been less than convincing. Falling snow on Monday lead to a blizzard that closed down most of Fargo yesterday. Thankfully my Beloved was able to work from home so we hunkered down for the day & marveled at the lack of visibility beyond our 3rd story patio.

Contrary to the concerns of my friends & family, no, I did not run outside yesterday. I will admit that a curiosity of what running in such weather would actually feel like had crossed my mind, but that is all the further it got. So it was another Tuesday stuck on the dreadmill for 3miles.

Much to my delight peering out the window this morning I was not only able to see the road, but a passel of people headed to work on what looked to be clear roads. Time to hit the gym again. Roughly two hours later my 1.2mile swim, 21.6mile bike & 1mile recovery run/walk were complete. Another solid training session logged.

Driving home I grabbed out Jeremy's point & shoot to take a few shots of the blizzard "aftermath". Some pretty large drifts out there!


Now that you've seen the height of the drifts (as tall as a FedEx truck) imagine running through them. I am trying to be optimistic that at least some of the 7miles of my long run tomorrow morning will be cleared. The snow crews in Fargo have done an awesome job clearing the roads so far which means there is hope!

On to the exciting part of my day... (If you don't count the Reubens I had for dinner.) Since Island Park Cycles will be packed hosting the St. Patty's 5k on Saturday Jeremiah approved the picking up of my b-day present early to avoid the chance of my size being out of stock should someone else be interested in the shoes. So here they are my Specialized Elite Rd. :)

I tried on at least 6 different shoes, different makes & models and kept coming back to these. Beautiful fit & the velcro straps mean easier entry/exit during tri season. Just makes me all the more anxious to hop on Tangerine to try them out. For now I will settle with staring at how pretty they are sitting in their box.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Time & training...


Time was a scarce commodity last week . Training on the other hand was plentiful & stellar.

Swim: I actually had portions of my swim where I had enough of a rhythm going that I didn't have to tell myself what move to make next or when to breathe. It came naturally. Getting my 1.2 miles into a reasonable time set is looking more attainable.

Bike: After doubling my mileage last week I am more then pleased with my body's capability to adjust to what I throw at it. I am getting stronger.

Run: Upon completing my 5mile route with the people at DBRC Thursday I was shocked to look at the clock and realize I had maintained a 9:10 for the entire distance. A strong 10.5 long run finished off the week. Running the full 26.2 come may 9th looks promising and enjoyable.

As of mid-week last wk. I am registered for my 1st HIM on June 13th. Weeks of preparation continue, but I am blessed. My husband has yet to grow tired of my constant tri-talk and is a great encouragement. I also love training & am appreciating the chatter of the ladies at the Y and the "regulars" I see there.

More on this week to come.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

wind, Drifts & Dreadmills

I woke up this morning to the ever annoying *WHAP* the ceiling fan/vent in our apartment makes repeatedly & without rhythm whenever the wind has exceeded 20mph. While it may be a beautiful, sunny, 29 above outside the wind, windchill and accompanying snow drifts have left me less then zealous about braving the elements to do my run today. So I am stuck on the dreadmill, thankfully for only 3 short miles.

With the weather somewhat messing with my timeline for today and the desire to bake I have made this...


Upon doing so, (for the second time in little over a week), I have decided that reading Runner's World while hungry is a BAD IDEA. Their "Healthy" suggestions/recipe for banana bread is not what ended up in my bread-pan, but rather what recipe I could find that didn't include eggs as I was out. 

The result amounts to a not-so-healthy but very tasty morsel.  The good news is any future attempt at making another loaf will cease as I am now out of both eggs & butter. 

Carb loading, not always a bad thing, but I'm fairly certain not intended to be paired with shortening. All the more incentive to get myself out the door, down a few flights of stairs and onto the dreadmill I have fruitlessly been trying to talk myself into hopping on.  Sigh.

As a footnote: Yesterday's training went very well. Upping the mileage on the bike while still maintaining a strong swim afterward was difficult but successful. Hopefully tomorrow will be more of the same!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

14 days & 12 training sessions...

In the past week I have settled into a routine. One that is delightfully more structured, but tiring. Hence my blog post neglectfulness as of late.

Over the course of 14 days I have logged a total of 12 training sessions. w00t!

In summary...

Swim: Continues to get better. I would hope so after 4mi. of it this month. Attitude makes much more of a difference then one would expect. I am learning that if I mentally feel like a swimmer I perform better, if not my form falls apart and I'm dead in the water.

Bike: Not even a fraction as fun indoors, but having a simulated workout with animated cyclists passing by to chase after on an LCD screen definitely helps. Just need to add distance in the coming month. Then hopefully back on Tangerine in not too long!

Run: Still absolutely love it! Trying to behave my training program is tough. Running anything under 5miles seems silly. Had my first experience running in a semi-blizzard at 5am Thursday morning. Wasn't as miserable as it could have been, but was glad to warm up when it was over.

Tri-gear has been on my mind this week. Once I can actually get on my bike again I will need pedals & road shoes (no more baskets and sneakers for me). Maybe some Aero-bars. And definitely a wetsuit. I've decided that spring seems closer when standing looking at said gear at the local bike shop. So, that is where I found myself at least twice this week.

In other news I have been very distracted by the Jersey design contest I have entered into on Team Estrogen.com Voting started on Friday and so far my design is in the lead.




It has been titled "She loves hills". A combination of two of my Japan photos & conceptually based off of the daisy petal pulling tradition of "he loves me, he loves me not." Most cyclists love hills whether it be for the joy of coasting down them or the ability to gain on other competitors while climbing.

Come Friday the final vote will be tallied. I'm excited to see who wins. :) Having my design & photography printed on a jersey would be awesome, not to mention the gift certificate at TE. I'll keep you posted on how that turns out.

In closing for this week, something to pray for would be: health. My Beloved found out he had Pneumonia last week & still doesn't feel 100%. Definitely better then he was prior to anti-biotics though. In the last two days my lungs have felt a little iffy so I'm really hoping I haven't caught it. Could just be a normal cold in combination to stiffness in my swimming muscles or something along those lines, but I'm allowing myself more sleep & being mindful to take in plenty of fluids.

Time will tell what's what.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Too Funky for Myself...

I found it ironic that the song "Smells Like Funk" by the Black Eyed Peas was one that came into rotation on the ipod during my run with the Dick Beardsley group this morning. The reason for that being that before leaving the apartment I realized that I was, in four little words: Too Funky for Myself. What does this mean? It basically boils down to a handful of factors...

#1) When you run outdoors during the winter layered in tech gear so as to avoid frostbite I am convinced one sweats more then the average human being on this planet.

#2) If you alternate the days you swim with the days you run this gives your running gear time to dry between uses.

#3) When you still haven't entirely caught up on the routine flow of laundry since Japan the last thing you want to do is wash the tech clothes that have special washing requirements.

#4) There is always this lingering dialog between your normal psyche & the athletes mind which makes you question with intrigue: Just how many more days can I go without washing my running gear?

#5) You know that eventually you will reach the day when even if the houndstooth fleece, running tights & sports bra are dry they smell of your wonderful sweaty musk that only a dog could love.

Unfortunately #5 never happens on the same day. Which brings me back to the intrigue of #4.

It just so happened that today was the day that at 5:15 AM #5 slapped me upside the head. A sense of mortification rolled over me when I knew that it was too late to do anything about it(not even perfume could help) and that a group of runners I appreciate would either have to congratulate me on my funk or stay several yards away.

Thankfully a local news crew that had come by the store to tape a live segment on us crazy outdoor winter runners kept everyone pretty distracted so I was spared the scowls or pats on the back. Whew!

I was tempted to go for the 7mile route this morning, but I decided to play it safe. I know the uptake in training is going to take some adjusting and I'm trying not to revert back to my old ways. Injury prevention is key right now. So I stuck with the 5mile route which tracked a different way as I was finally able to keep some other 5milers in view to see which route they took. Their route bypasses that which I had been doing & is better lit with less ice on the path.

Sub-zero temperatures were my companion once again. With minimal wind it was manageable though. My face got chilled during parts of the run, but I know why. Breathing through a face-warmer limits the amount of oxygen I am able to take in and when I am running swiftly to keep within eye-sight of the ladies I am following that puts me at a disadvantage. From the looks of it I have escaped any possible frostbite for now.

My "swiftness" was not an illusion this morning. After returning home and mapping the new route I was able to calculate my pace which put me at 10min/mi which for me is really decent. It is possible I dipped below the 10min/mi pace, but I can't be 100% positive of that. I neglected to wear a watch because it freezes at these temps. All I had to go off of was the clock in the store & I know we left slightly later then usual due to the camera crew taping.

All in all, it was a good run for me. Seeing the sliver of the moon, the twinkling stars & people just happy to run made it well worth getting up so early.