Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ironman Canada Blues....

Lately I have been feeling a bit down.. sort of not quite right... at first I thought it was the weather or the fact that I realized its mid August and despite the fact that we frequently have nice weather in Seattle through September, fall is closing in quickly and we really haven't had much of a summer. I'm sure it is a bit of the above as I love summer time, the late nights, lots of light and time spent playing outside, but then I realized the REAL reason. There won't be an Ironman Canada for me this year....

I have spent the last 5 years either in Penticton racing, signing up or playing support, and this year..... well the closest I will get is to check in on those participating in one of the best events around. Penticton not only host a great event, they are all about Ironman and know what it takes to make first timers as well as seasoned ironman athletes feel welcome and supported.

I will miss walking down Lakeshore drive this year..... to swim with 2000 of my closest friends, I will miss the magic of Richter Pass and Yellow lake and I will wonder how this year I would feel at the turn around on the run knowing in 13 miles I would hear my name called out........ Ironman Canada certainly has some wonderful memories for me, I miss it, I just might have to put another Ironman on my calendar next year so when the end of summer starts rolling around I won't be thinking about why I'm blue.

BEST OF LUCK to all those racing in Penticton this weekend, my thoughts will be with you and I'll be wishing I was out there sharing in the energy and electricity of the day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vineman 70.3

Well, I started this blog a few months ago with aspirations that I would update it on a routine basis.... well you can see the results, not too good? I guess I am just not a "writer" like some folks, while I think about various topics to blog about it seems the time gets away from me and I would rather do lots of other things than sit down and write, well that being said, I actually sat down- I guess I was more captive in the car as we were driving home from California and it seemed a good time to get my Vineman thoughts down. So at long last, an update :)

The day started early as the alarm or shall I say alarms, as there were 3 or 4, (I lost count) set at the brisk hour of 4 am. We all got up and quietly dressed in our race gear and went about our own individual pre-race routines. Bry took our bikes back downstairs to the car while I was getting ready and before long it was time to head up to the Russian River in Guerneville as this is where our day really began.

We made it up to the race start pretty quickly and actually rolled in at about 5:25 before the “official opening” of T1 so we were actually able to park on a side street up in the little town and make our way down to get body marked and set up in transition. As this race was fairly large (about 2100 racers) and because the river is quite narrow and shallow we were set off in waves by age groups with there being approximately 16 or 17 waves. Bry was set to go at 6:54 and my departure was at 7:34. Once down in transition I had plenty of time to get set up, take a few more bites of breakfast, send Bry off in his wave and wait in line for the port-o-potty.

I was feeling good and ready for racing and felt calm, not too nervous as I felt prepared and ready to go. It was especially nice knowing the water was warm~ 72 degrees, unlike Boise (55ish) and I was prepped for a strong swim.

The swim:
I headed down to the beach as early as my wave was allowed. Due to the out and back nature of the course we were unable to get much of a warm up except the 8 minutes in between waves. I quickly headed into the water once my wave was called and did as much warming up as possible taking time to get used to the water and stretching out my arms. We were told to expect the swim out to be a bit longer than the swim back due to the current so I told myself to push the first half super hard as I would have an added help on the way back in. Once the gun went off I started hard and settled into a strong pace hoping and looking for some feet to draft from however only found another gal who was matching me stroke for stroke. We swam along in that fashion for a bit until we finally separated, I never stopped pushing to find some feet but they never materialized…… oh well I guess I was on my own. Reached the turn buoy and re-doubled my efforts to push despite the fact I could sight some men from the wave in front of me walking, yes walking through the river several yards to the side of me-that’s how shallow parts of the course were~! Swam back down river and sighted on the bridge that was close to the finish chute and put an extra push to finish strong and ran out of the water finishing in just under 35 minutes!!!!! My best ½ Ironman swim ever and I was thrilled. Ran through the crowded transition and made my way on to the bike course.

The Bike:
Began the bike having to run up a small hill, as I couldn’t get clipped in at the bottom of the hill and figured I was faster running up it than risking a fall. (gravel in the transition). Took the first 5 miles pretty easy to get warmed up although pushed them a bit as I knew this was one of the least technical and smoothest parts of the entire ride. Mile 5- 19 were through beautiful wine country(actually the entire course was beautiful- not that I was looking around while racing-enjoyed the view when we pre-drove the course) however on crazy roads that were very rough and windy with about 50/50 time spent in aero position and the rest pushing hard through the pot holes. Once past mile 19/20 the curves mellowed out a bit but the winds seemed to pick up, I pushed really hard and I continued to hear coaches quote “anything under zone 3 is underperforming” I kept a close watch on my speed and cadence as well as heart rate and kept pushing along. Reached the last technical section of the ride up and over Chalk hill road and leap frogged back and forth with a gal in my age group exchanged hellos and finally after reaching the topped pushed ahead and put some distance between us. Spent the last few miles trying to make up a little time lost on the hills and technical section telling myself to rally and push on to get in to reach my goal time. Reached T2 and mentally prepared myself to run.

The Run:
In and out of T2 as quickly as possible although had a little brain fade as I started bagging all my bike gear, like you have to do with your swim gear, finally realized that wasn’t needed and grabbed my hat and Gels and got running. Wanted to run strong, and mentally had some time frames I was set to keep on pace with. The run course is a challenging one with a fair amount of hills. It was fun getting out on the run and watching the pro men and women running back in as they had started over an hour in front of me and were all running in on the out and back course. I always find it gives me good energy to congratulate them and encourage those I pass so I kept this going along throughout my run. It also was helpful to keep my mind from drifting into thinking about how I was feeling as I was watching for Bry on his way back in towards the finish. I saw him sooner than I expected while I was at about mile 3.5 and he was looking good and running strong. We crossed, yelled encouragement and continued on. Out towards the winery to run a loop and then back to the finish. I started feeling a bit sluggish about mile 7 and started doing crazy math in my head to figure out my pace and how much time I had left to make my goals, etc etc. The sort of math that makes you think to yourself “quit thinking, and just run silly” It was at this point I started pulling out strong words to help motivate myself. Picked the word DETERMINATION, and from there took those letters and basically found a word to repeat out of each letter of the word: D-Desire, E- Energy T (can't remember the word I had here) E-Enthusiam R-Race M-mentally strong, I- Inspire, N-Never give up A-Attitude Etc.. this seemed to help me through a mile or so and then it was time to push it in.. took the last 2 miles to really “make it hurt” and push for my goal. Finished hard down the stretch achieving a new PR.

Icing on the cake—Bryan, Kyle and MacBeth will all be traveling to Clearwater as they all received roll down spot during the awards ceremony ☺

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Boston... and the Marathon

Day 1 Arrival in Boston (Thursday)
We arrived in Boston early on Thursday morning checked into the hotel the Kimpton Nine Zero. Since we arrived early in the day our room wasn’t quite ready so we headed out to start our touring. Boston Garden was almost directly across the street from our hotel and although the gardens were not yet in bloom it’s a great park with a nice walking path continuing along Commonwealth Ave. We wandered about for a while and decided since it was still early we should start our touring. We had already purchased a “Charlie card” for the ‘T’ (subway) for the week and decided our first stop would be Harvard. After arriving in Harvard square we joined up with a walking tour and spent the next 1-2 hours learning more about Harvard and the early days of the area. Our tour guide was quite “wordy” and although we were all quite tired form our read eye flight we learned quite a bit. Harvard definitely is a very different type of school--- we walked through Harvard yard briefly checkout out the Natural History Museum which we decided to save for another day. Walked around the area a bit more and grabbed a bit to eat before taking the “T” back to the hotel. Once checked in we napped for several hours before heading back out for some dinner at the Kinsale an Irish pub where our waitress set us up with a great list of the best things in Boston to see…..
Day 2 (Friday)
First up on Friday morning was to get our “Go” cards which were basically a discounted tour card that allowed us into many of the city attractions for one price. Definitely a great buy and easy to use. Once we picked up our cards we decided to take the Redline Boston Trolley tour to get a bit of an overall view of the city as well as to make our way out to the Marathon Expo. The Trolley took us through the city with our trolley guide telling us interesting bits and pieces about the city. We arrived at the Marathon expo, I quickly checked in and grabbed my gear prior to going through the various booths and checking out all the vendors. The expo was great, well organized and fun to check out. I of course had to buy a few “souvenir” items to commemorate my Boston Experience. After the expo, we continued our trolley tour and went out toward the waterfront and took a Harbour Cruise out to the USS Constitution “old Ironsides” and wandered around Breed’s Hill. Once again we reboarded the trolley and headed back to home base for a quick nap prior to a pre-dinner run. We ran out through Boston Commons and were able to quickly find access to the Esplanade a great water front trail for a brisk paced 35 minute run. We had a great dinner in “Little Italy” at Dolce Vita- a traditional Italian restaurant in the midst of the ‘Northend’ and of course following our dinner had to check out Mike’s Pastry for some excellent Cannoli—YUM! That concluded our second day and we headed back to the hotel.

Day 3 (Saturday) Museum of natural history (glass flowers exhibit) Harvard Square, on to the T and out to Sam Adams Brewery tour.

Day 4 (Sunday) The women’s Olympic Trials…… Fortunately the women’s marathon was a looped course and the first loop (the city loop) ran nearly in front of the hotel. We were able to see the women just at about the mile mark and man are there some fast girls. Maggie took an early lead which was quite impressive as most everyone was expecting Deena Kastor to lead the way. After watching the ladies pass by we again headed through the “Commons” to watch the women through the rest of their race. Maggie continued to lead the way and was looking strong throughout, despite the fact that Deena seemed to be gradually reeling her in and by the final lap of 4 it appeared that if she was able to keep up the pace, which she did, she would eventually find herself in the number one spot. It was great to watch these gals, Desiree Ficker looked great through the first couple of laps and was in the lead group however seemed to fade and couldn’t quite hold the pace as she gradually drifted back further and further each lap….. it was hard to keep in perspective that each of these gals in there own right were amazing runners and had some amazing credentials and stories behind their individual qualifications and journey to the trials. Take for example Joan Benoit who was running in her final Olympic Trials, amazing… what a great story and impressive lady! She finished her day setting a new marathon record for over 50 year olds at a blistering pace of 2: 48. We spent a bit of time at the finish line taking it all in and cheering all the ladies across the line. While there we actually spotted Lance Armstrong as he too was watching the finish and preparing for Marathon Monday. After the finish we grabbed a bite to eat, headed back to the hotel, relaxed for bit and I did my final quick run at the hotel gym. We had booked the pre-race dinner earlier in the day so had a bit of time before our reservation so decided to use our “go card” to take a quick tour through the Aquarium as well as to walk through Fanuiel Hall/Market place. Pre-race dinner was at California Pizza Kitchen for a chop salad and foccacia bread which I know works as a pre-race meal, almost as good as Mexican, and since we didn’t see much in the way of Mexican food in the city seemed like a good choice ☺ Went back to the hotel and set out my race gear to as to have it all ready to go on Monday morning.
I woke fairly early to catch my bus by 730, didn’t have the best nights sleep, not that I expected to prior to a big event but was actually pretty calm headed out the door. I kept thinking to myself how I really just wanted to enjoy the day, the experience, not go too hard but hopeful I would have the legs to run somewhere around 4 hours. Bry walked down to the park with me, again our hotel was perfectly situated and I joined the huge line of folks boarding the buses for Hopkintown. The lines moved along quickly and we were on our way about 7:45. The Boston marathon is an impressive event, I continued to be impressed by the organization, volunteers and the magnitude of efficiency. It was fun to go cruising through the city against traffic and through red lights with police just waving the ribbon of buses along. It took some time to get out to the start, having a great bus driver avert a near collision only once due to some crazy car trying to pull in front of another bus. Once out at the start it was really an athletes village, funny how some folks who had definitely been there before had blankets, air mattresses and gear just to hang out and relax prior to the start. I actually didn’t’ have too much extra time in the village arriving just over an hour prior to my start time of 10:30 in the second “red” wave. I quickly found a port-a- potty line had one last pit stop and took a few minutes to find a spot to stretch out a bit and place all my gear in the dry clothes bag, drop it at my bus and head for the start… just as the sun came out. I walked out to the start and with only a few moments to spare was in my start corral just before the gun went off and I started my run.

The first couple of miles were pretty crowded but overall not too hard to get into a bit of a rhythm, the crowd was great and I tried to keep it at an easy pace so as to not go out too fast. I tried to take in the sights of these small towns as we wound our way back into the city clicking off the miles, looking back it seems like a bit of a blur….. I was wondering if it would be weird to be out running not having any one else on the course that I was running with, I mean there were 21,000 plus others but I wasn’t looking for any one or running with anyone other than the thoughts in my head. As I clicked off the miles, I was amazed at all the crowds cheering and the people lining the course. There was music and bbq’s, Boston RedSox updates and of course many many aid stations. I mostly stayed in the middle of the road as I was running with my Gatorade and gels and didn’t want to stop until later in the race, unfortunately it seemed that I may have been a bit too hydrated as about mile 6-7 I had to make a quick pit stop. As we made our way along the course I was looking forward to mile 17 where I would see Bry and my parent who were planning to come out and cheer. Once I reached that point in the race my legs were starting to feel pretty heavy although I was still keeping my pace and the idea of seeing them along the route as well as looking for them in the crowd took my thoughts away from the heaviness in my legs for a while, despite the fact that they were out there, we never saw each other…. Me them or them me… oh well, they cheered with the best and were out on the course early enough to see the leaders I pushed on and figured I would see them at the end. For about the last 6-7 miles there is a lot of support along the way and although heartbreak hill is definitely not easy I told myself “I live in Seattle” there are much bigger hills on my weekly runs and I keep plodding along despite heavy legs. Once in the city I had my sights set on a sub 4 hour time, this had been in the back of my head all week, truth be told, although I was not going to be disappointed with any time if I knew I mentally was in it and giving it my best. Although there were a couple of ‘longer’ walks along aid stations near the end, I was able to finish strong and felt very pleased with my effort. Not a PR, I didn’t expect one, but sub 4, felt good, wasn’t injured, had fun and mentally didn’t give up. I am pleased with how my marathon ended and I feel I didn’t go so hard as to have a negative effect on my upcoming tri season. Meeting all my goals for this event!

Day 6 Tuesday Earth Day
The Nine Zero hotel, prides itself in being green and as part of the Earth Day celebration offered Free bicycle tours on Tuesday morning. We met the guys from UrbanAdventours at 930 and took a great easy spin around the city. Mostly we saw sights we had previously seen however it was really fun to be on a bike, loosening up my legs a bit and enjoying another sunny day in Baastan. We also got our first view of Fenway and took pictures out front with the Ted Williams statue. Later Tuesday afternoon Bryan, Dad and I went back out to Fenway Park. We first had to go to Cask and Flagan a local pre-game hangout to have some snacks and the boys to have a pre-game Beer. Once appropriately hydrated and nourished we spent a bit of time walking around the park and, of course, had to do our part to contribute to RedSox Nation and purchased some new baseball hats. It’s amazing and very cool to see the kind of support this team has…. I’m not sure if its because the RedSox have such a rich tradition or have been around for much longer than our home town Mariners but this city Love’s their team! It was so much fun to be a part of and it seems that everyone, I mean everyone had some sort of RedSox team gear on! The game was great and despite being out in the center field “bleachers” we had a great view and it was a great game! RedSox 7- Angels 6 ☺ ( I may have to adopt this team and become an honorary member of RedSox nation, almost enough to encourage me to move to Boston as it was really a fun time.
Day 7 Wednesday
The forecast was for 80 degrees, and being from Seattle where its not likely to be this warm for another couple of months, Bry and I decided to find a nearby beach to soak up some sun. As we had by this time gotten quite proficient at using the “T” we headed out toward the JFK library, which we didn’t’ see- or have intentions to on this trip, and spent our afternoon at Carson Beach. It was a nice beach, just outside the city and had all the necessary amenities… those being sun, sand and water… we didn’t swim or wade but it was fabulous just relaxing and basking in the sun! After our time at the beach we headed back into the city to pack our bags and enjoy one more night out. Our final destination, Boston Garden for Game 2 of the Celtics first round play-off game against the Atlanta Hawks. The garden although new is also steeped in tradition and the rafters hang with 16 World Championship banners, along with quite a few banners of the Boston Bruins (we didn’t get the trifecta of Boston pro-sports this week, but watched the games on TV if it counts), the crowd was great and Celtics game was fun with a resounding victory. I would have to say that this town LOVES their sport teams and it was fun to be a part of, never once did I feel like an outsider or tourist as I had adopted these teams for the week. I would have to say though, if given the choice I would go back to Fenway over the garden as the crowd there was so much fun and the atmosphere and tradition at Fenway was awesome.

All in all we had a great week, packed with sight seeing, marathon fun, sports tradition and getting the flavor of Boston, the locals were friendly and the city was welcoming and the weather well, it was fantastic.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Swim test and Long run

Today I started my day off with a swim test... I thought to myself ok, I will get this swim done and checked off the list today as I really wanted to try and get my long run in as well since tomorrow is supposed to be wet and rainy and upon getting up this morning it was cold but clear....
Well, made it to the pool at 8 so I could get my workout in prior to the water aerobics class where the group seems to literally crawl out of the wood work and take over the pool with their terry cloth cover ups.. yes you remember em, at 9 am sharp!

Started my swim and I guess I have been spending more time in the pool than normal... not really a crazy statement but I realized this because 200 into my workout my goggles actually shot off my face breaking across the bridge of the nose. Now I have broken straps before and thrown goggles away from being scratched, leaky and other wise "unusable" but never before have they flown off my face..... Usually there is a spare pair in my "bottomless" tri- bag but not today... nope , not today the day I need to actually get this swim in the books and 'test'. Well I was actually preparing to push through the test without goggles when I realize their is a set sitting near the hot tub that I figure... well they have been left behind won't bother if I use them? So I made it through the swim, borrowed goggles and all and actually improved my time from my last test by nearly 25 seconds :) I keep telling myself ALL the work in the pool has to pay off and now it seems it is.. bad goggles and all.
Later today I struck out on a long run in preparation for Boston.... it was a beautiful day and just great to be outside in the sunshine even though it wasn't warm I was in shorts and part way through the run had to tie my long sleeve shirt about my waist which reminded me spring and summer have to be close....... (I hope).
Since I was able to do both my workouts today, I have tomorrow morning off to enjoy family brunch and guilt free sleeping in, waffles and coffee and most likely some Easter Chocolate !

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Well I've finally done it.....

I've decided its finally time for me to start a journal. Not sure how often I will write or exactly what I will include. Mostly its a way for me to stay in touch with friends and write about my daily trials and tribulations as a triathlete. So here goes, we'll see what happens from here.