Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for a lot of things... My husband and our life together. My friends and my family and perfect 4 legged children. I have a pretty fantastic life, and some of the best people to spend it with..... I couldn't ask for much more.

Today, for the first time in about 6 years I was able to do a 10mile run on Thanksgiving. Injury after Injury put a stop to that for so long, but today, with only a few minor body aches I had a fantastic 10mile run, half with Shane & my dogs and the other half to negative split and push myself a little. The last two miles were even in the rain and I absolutely loved it.

I'm so very thankful for my body turning the injury page and finally getting to do more of what I love so much.


And, last, but not least... I'm thankful for the brand new jug of Bloody Mary mix that Shane just spotted in the fridge. Yes, the Holidays are here...

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

El Tour de Tucson

Part 2 of Plan B - El Tour de Tucson.

Having never participated in any stand alone cycling event like this, I had NO idea what I was in for. I was going into this event 100% blind, and tagging supa along for the ride. Thankfully, she had a few bike races under her belt so she at least had a little bit of experience.... So, after a late Thursday night flight and sushi dinner we were up Friday for a quick run and off to the bike shop to get momo's bike set up for her....

3+hours later we were on our way to Tucson, just a tad late.....

One thing I've learned for sure about the Supa and I. Blonde or no blonde, we are two blondes in a pod... or the blind leading the blind...or whatever, I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say here.

Somehow a couple hours later I got us to the packet pickup and we were on our way. I had no idea what to expect from a bike race expo. Would it be like a marathon expo? I mean, I had just been to IMAZ expo the day before so I wasn't expecting much.

After a few turns and a few directions we were entering the hall to the packet pickup.... or so we were trying. No sooner had we stepped into the building, the emergency alarm was telling us to evacuate. Of course.... Fortunately, it was no big deal and we were allowed to re-enter shortly.

Race numbers check. T shirts check. Big screen TV showing last years race and HOLY SHIT what have I gotten us into!?!?! What the hell is THAT? That's like tour de France gone camping... walking their bikes, peeing, crashing, changing flats IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING RIVER BED. WTF???

I digress, as I had been told by many who have done the el tour... during the race there are 2 "washes" you must cross. You must dismount your bike, and walk across a (hopefully) dry riverbed. Twice..... Sounds like fun, no? Hey, I figured at least everyone had to do it, right?
I guess I was expecting more of the short dry wash behind my house.... Not a full on middle of nowhere half mile experience.... but whateva... this was just for run, right?

Over the next few hours we managed to feed our bellies, find the crappy hotel (no offense anyone who loves Tucson - but I'm a big fan of the city... and, I've seen a LOT of it!) that I managed to book at the last minute, get our bikes ready, food ready, and I even managed to entertain supa in my ambien'd state for a while :-)

A couple hours later we were very begrudgingly out of bed and packing the car up in the dark... We had a mile ride to get to the start line where we would sit and wait for TWO hours before the start.... I can only compare it to the New York Marathon start... Where you are bussed out for several hours of waiting.

I had no idea where we are in relation to the start. There were over 8600 people doing the race, and a couple thousand of them had the "Platinum" or "Gold" classification and would get to start up near the front with the pros, elites and ubber fast cyclists... We were somewhere probably about 2/3 back in the "bronze" section... I would guess behind about 3-4 thousand cyclists.

For the next ~ 6 hours I had the TIME OF MY LIFE. I worked my ass off and earned every single mile out there. I earned every single person passed and group dropped.

It was like nothing I had ever done before. Because of where we were placed in line we had to work really hard to get from group to group to group. Supa was fantastic! For the first half of the race where I am usually still warming up, she pushed me. She has an incredible fire and race competitiveness in her. I fed off it and I thrived.... We were like 2 pees in a pod out there. We were wearing matching allthingstriathlon jerseys and despite what you might think about wearing Tri-gear in a "Road" race, it was actually a fantastic decision!

People were INCREDIBLY nice to us. Not like I expected. We were the "Tri-Girls" or the "Tri-Chicks." If we got separated, some would tell us where our teammate was. I even had people slow down in the middle of the pack to let us be together. Of course there was also some teasing along with all of that. "So Tri-Chicks... You ready to run now? You gonna go run a marathon after this?" We just laughed and played along...

As for the actual course. It was TOUGH. I was trained for a flat race. A flat race on a tri-bike that weighs about 1/3 what my road bike does. The el tour was HILLY. No huge climbs or too steep climbs, but when you haven't done any hill riding you feel them. For the first half Supa would climb the hills about twice as fast as me.... Thankfully I had Shane's Zipp 404 wheels on and they REALLY helped me zoom on the flats and descents and I could catch right back up.

The first half seemed really tough for me. I had just one goal of sub 6 hours so that we could get the "Platinum" finish and be allowed to start with the faster people if I chose to do it again. Well, that and it just sounds cool!

The first wash came just 8miles into the race. It was no big shake. Hop off, walk across, back on bike. It wasn't steep or too deep so I didn't bother putting the caps on my shoes (I had been warned with Speedplay cleats you needed the caps so rocks didn't get stuck).

The second wash however came around mile 50... It was nuts. Deep, deep sand, rocks, hilly.... We literally had to take our shoes and socks off at the end to dump the sand out of them. It took about 10mins to get through this wash... We were starting to worry about the sub 6 finish at this point.

For me, this is where things started to get better. I was 50miles in and finally feeling really good. Warmed up so to speak.... I will let Supa share how she was feeling at this point, cause I think her first half experience might be a little better ;-)

We started working with some guys around us.... We would work our way from group to group. I would get a faster group in my sights, pull out in front and was just on a mission to get them! Yes, I was working extremely hard, and pulling men twice my size that were just being lazy.. but I didn't care - I was feeling it.

I could go on and on about the race and the people and the entire experience, but what it comes down to is I really truly felt like I was in my element. My legs felt absolutely fantastic. While I was tired and couldn't have given any more out there, I was surprised at how comfortable I was....

We saw several crashes around us, but besides getting a little anxious, I was never scared, or tense.

I gave it my all out there which is something I am very very proud of. While a 5:30 finish would have been nice, I don't see how it was possible based on the packs we were with due to the start...

One thing I am really really proud of is that Lindsay and I were not passed by ONE SINGLE girl. Not one. We rocked it out there, tough Ironman - Tri-chick style...

This is a plan B I can be very satisfied with. With that said, I think I will be back again. Now that we have the Platinum classification we can have the preferred start, and from what I'm told start with a pack that could help cut up to an HOUR off of our time with much less effort. An hour? How cool is that?

Oh, and next up might just be THIS race.... Now, if I could just figure out how to get a 10lb lighter and faster bike? Hmmmmm...

I think I might just be hooked.

PS. Supa has pics - hopefully she'll post some soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Suck it up Buttercup

The theme for the next few weeks - Suck it up Buttercup.....

I should not have waited so long to post something. I've blogged in my head several times. Sitting on the beach in Mexico last weekend I was going to right all about the trip.... Riding for what seemed like eternity the day before we left...I was going to write all about that...

Somehow I just never found the time to sit down and write it all out, so for that I have to apologize in advance for the ramblings I'm about to start. At least I'm warning you. Oh and the 3 huge glasses of iced tea and 10hours of sleep last night won't help... just sayin.

Here we are Ironman Arizona weekend. I just got back from the expo with momo. Bless her heart she continued to train after CDA. Yes, so have I, but not the 6hour bikes. I just don't think I would of had that in me. That, or the thought of the "b-line." She's after something on Sunday though, and I have NO doubt in my mind that she will achieve it. We'll be out there all day long helping her get there... As if she needs it.

It was weird to be down there for an Ironman that I wasn't standing in line to register for. I thought I might have "that feeling," that desire in me wishing I was doing it... but I didn't. I guess that means I am doing the right thing by not having an Ironman on the schedule for next year. Or maybe it's just the home thing. To me the race is about the entire journey. I loved every minute of the course, the traveling, etc in Coeur d'Alene. I thought about doing IM Canada next year, but I didn't hop on it. Didn't register. I do think however, that will be my next one. Maybe training in dry, hot dessert makes me long for the hilly, GREEN scenery? The challenge? Who knows - but I'm sure when it comes time to making that call next year I'll know where I want to be.

For now I have my first "PLAN B" race coming up on Saturday. The best part about it is I convinced my girl to come join me. Really, it wasn't that hard. 109miles, followed by IM sherpaing momo, bloody Marys (don't worry momo, I promise we won't miss you even if we are a little buzzed. In fact, you might find us more entertaining!), oh and 85degrees. Like I said, it wasn't that hard to get here here....

The bike race will be a first for me. I'm riding my road bike. I couldn't seem to get the fit right on momo's and didn't have time to play with it, so I even though I did my training (if you can call it that - 3 long rides) on Momo's bike - I put Shane's Zipps on my road bike and while it's much heavier than momo's bike - it's comfortable. And, now Supa gets to ride momo's bike!

I've asked some advice from friends that have done the race before. Apparently the beginning is NUTS - there are 10-12000 people the do the race! There are 2 washes that we have to cross by getting of our bikes and carrying them over. I was told if you wear speedplay cleats the caps are a must of rocks etc. get stuck.

Like I said, and adventure.

Two weeks later I will finish off Plan B with the Tucson half marathon. I can't even believe how good my running has been. I'm excited to see what happens on race day.

After that it's time for some "off season" Let my body recoup. I've been basically "training" for a year straight, and I know in order to see improvements I have to let my body heal. I hate to see the fitness drop, but I know it has to in order to have a good year next year.

I'm still struggling with my lungs somewhat so I'm hoping some time off and rest will help my body heal entirely. If not, I will head back to my Dr. for some more tests.

Ya never know, maybe a holiday trip to the ocean will help them? I think I'll have to hope for that :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Plan B HURTS

Well, I'm officially into Plan B training. Holy Heck it hurts. Ok, it's not that I'm training any different or harder, I think I was just so mentally ready to take some time off and now my body is mad at me. Of course I'm too stubborn to give in to my body, so it's a few more weeks of "Suck it Up Butter Cup!"

Or something like that.

I met with a coach last Thursday to help devise a 5 week plan to get me ready for the 109mile El Tour de Tucson bike race, as well as a half marathon a couple weeks after.

His plan, totally doable.

My pre-plan "plan" STUPID.

It started off with easy Wed, Thursday workouts. My lungs are better each day, but last week they were still hurting quite a bit.

Then come Saturday, off with the easy in with the kick my own ass. I learned a few things in the 4hours of calf torture that was my bike ride.

* No wonder cyclist have killer calves. ROAD bikes are SO different than Tri-Bikes.
* Riding 4 hours for the first time on a new bike, road bike none the less, is DUMB.
* Especially when that 4 hours is mostly flat, and you are riding with someone who is peak IM training and has aero bars
* Seriously, I love mini-me even more now. And, I LOVE aerobars!
* My body was really ready for a break from these long rides.
* IM AZ bike course is FAST. If you have aerobars and a tri-fit that is. Oh - and no wind. 2 hour loops, TOTALLY doable! I'm excited for all you doing it in a few weeks!
* That being said, I have NO desire to ever do that race. It's boring. And Ugly. For some people fast trumps boring. I'm just not one of them.

In that 4 hours I offered Melisa $100 to switch me bikes for the ride back. My calves hurt THAT bad. I don't think I've ever even noticed my calves on my tri-bike.

So, after that 4 hour torture fest Momo, Natalie & I met for an early morning DOWNHILL run. We drove up into North Scottsdale for a one way run. Most my runs are rolling runs. Some up, some down. Not this one. This one was a net descend of 800ft. Why would I torture myself with that? ITBS and all?

The half marathon in Plan B is downhill. About 800ft in total. I needed to make sure my IT band could handle it.

It was rockin fast run, even in the middle of zone 2. I had some twinges of pain, but mostly still my calves and some in my hips. A little knee pain, but not buckling pain.

It's now Wednesday and I'm STILL sore. My calves are so tight that when I get out of bed I basically walk flat foot because it hurts to push off and use my calves.

And, now that I have this official plan.... I chose to do my long runs on Weds. Yah, didn't so much think that one through when I killed myself on SUNDAY and had another 90 min run today. 2 10+milers with only 2 days rest is not a good idea. I made it though, and very happy I had absolutely NO IT band pain.

So the next 2 weeks will be building up my mileage and numbing my butt for 109miles on November 22nd. I'm still harassing Supa to come do it with me. Now that she doesn't have the election excuse anymore, I TOTALLY think she needs to do it. FOR ME!

And 2 weeks after that I will be putting my legs to test and trying to PR (should be hard) at the Tucson half marathon.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting over the last week. I am so tired and sore and ready for this to be over with, but at the same time I just can't live with letting all the hard work and progress I had after Ironman CDA go to waste. I don't have anything to prove to anyone, but I want to do this for myself. I want to show myself that all my hardwork is worth it, and that I can overcome just about anything.

I know that I have some physical limitations, but we all do. And, we all have our own way of getting through them. I guess this is my way. Not letting go.

That said, I am sure I was thoroughly enjoy our time over the Holidays in Mexico this year. Maybe it will be Shane trying to get ME to walk to the bar this time, you know...for exercise :-)