Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mount Lemmon

I'll keep this short and sweet. Unfortunately, the ride didn't happen - so I'm going to save a full post for when I actually get to reach the top!

Sunday I was feeling pretty worn down - house chores, etc all day long. When I finally sat down about 7pm after 10 hours of laundry, picking up, bathing dogs, unpacking from Mexico and re-packing for the bike trip I was DONE.

I made a big batch of red sauce and we had a pasta dinner, salad & glass of wine. I was fully fueled, that's for sure...

I woke up several times throughout the night. I had some sharp stomach pains, which I thought maybe ulcer related (a wee bit too much alcohol in Mexico and over the weekend maybe?). Then I just couldn't really get back to sleep. I didn't FEEL nervous. I mean, it was just a training ride, not race.

I had my caffeine, and made a PB bagel for the road trip. The 2+hours of driving I was fighting back watery mouth, nausea, etc. I told Shane I was happy I was driving or I think I'd really be sick.

When we got to the meeting spot, James & Diane were already there. The excitement kinda took over and for a brief moment I felt better. I mentioned to Diane my stomach was really upset and she had actually just picked up some pepto, so she offered it to me. Mind over matter, right?

The first 5 miles is a slight incline to get to the base of the mountain. I was already dying. HR was high and I was working WAY harder than I should have been...

It only got worse - the first few miles of climbing weren't too bad. James & Shane were pulling away from us, and I'm sure Diane was just slowing down to stay with me. I was a mess. Everyone stopped to take pictures at about 3000ft - the view were amazing, even despite the horribly polluted air (wind storms).

They all looked a little worried about me, and James (ex-pro cyclist) mentioned it wasn't worth it - that I really needed my whits for the descent. I thought about that for another mile or so, as the nausea got worse and I couldn't really take in any fluids. I finally just stopped - told Shane I was done...

I was so bummed. It was a gorgeous day, a little cool and some winds, but overall not too bad. I just really got worried I wouldn't be able to get back down the mountain, not to mention not enjoying the climb and the scenery AT ALL.

I had 11 miles to get back to the car and it was brutal. I couldn't keep my bike steady, just felt awful. I was so relieved to finally get off my bike and eventually home to bed...

I spent all afternoon wrapped up in a blanket freezing & full of aches, with a 75lb dog cuddled up next to me. At about 9pm I finally broke the fever and start sweating like mad... I slept 10 hours and woke up feeling SO much better!

I know I made the right decision, but just bummed! I can't wait to make the trip again, and take pictures from the top!

Big props to Diane who finished the climb by herself!! She's only been riding for a year now & is a superstar!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A long weekend in Mexico

I know I say it all the time, but I just love our little place in Rocky Point. It was about 8 years ago when I made my first trip across the border, and it was such a different experience. My roommate at the time, Erin, had her sister & friend in town visiting so we decided it would be fun to take them there. We got hand written directions from someone at work & left at about 4PM.

We had only lived in Phoenix for about 5 months so we didn't know our way around the valley, let alone how the heck to get to Mexico. She talked to a travel agent online & asked where we should stay. Mind you, 8 years ago Rocky Point was not what it is now. There were only 2 resorts, some homes and condos, as well as a few "hotels."

After a VERY long trip, and a very intimidating drive through the border town of Sonoyta, where we had no idea where we were going until we saw a random sign pointing to the right that said "Puerto Penasco." I'm not even sure we knew then that it meant "Rocky Point."

The town was ABSOLUTELY crazy. People all over the streets partying. You could not even get through. It was a relief to get past the border town and on our way to the beach. It seemed like FOREVER to get there.... Finally, after a long boring stretch in the dark we started to see sand, and palm trees and signs.

Unfortunately it was the SAME THING. Craziness.... absolute craziness. We finally found our hotel, paid for our 2 night stay in cash & got in to our room HORRIFIED. Cob webs, spiders in the shower.... nasty dirty looking beds. Now, I wasn't so used to nicer accommodations at this point in my life, just leaving the college life and living very much so paycheck to paycheck. I also had yet to have the opportunity to sleep in a Four Seasons, so my expectations weren't THAT high. However - if you have ever seen me around a spider, you would understand where I'm coming from.

SOMEHOW - we were able to communicate to the hotel person we needed our money back. We could not stay there. We drove to the few resorts they had, and finally found one place with a room. A junior suite. We spent ALL our money on one night's stay.

Needless to say it was not the greatest first experience. It just so happened to be that it was the weekend of the Mexican Independence day and we were among the very few Americans in town.

The following year my running group decided to go down and do the Rock Point 10K. I took it upon myself to find our accommodations. After some research I found the neighborhood of Las Conchas. It was about a 10min drive from town, a gated community with a guard. GORGEOUS beach homes.

It was the best thing I ever did. For the next 3 years we did the same. Rented out homes for up to 60 runners for the weekend. The largest home would put on a pasta party before the race, and it was always a great time.
We really fell in love with the area, and when Shane & his business partner (at the time) were looking for investment opportunities it seemed like the perfect place. After several months of searching we finally found our home. It was actually harder than you would think. The prices were starting to rise and many people were coming from California and Arizona to do the same, invest.

It was a rough first 2 years with renting out our home. Things were destroyed, the house was not cared for well. Our neighbors basically hated us, and every time we got to the house we were heartbroken at what we would find. Finally, we came to an agreement with our co-owner to not rent anymore. We would rent to a family or close friend, but it just wasn't worth it. We never made any money off the rentals, and we didn't go as much as we would like to enjoy it. We found an incredible man, Miguel, to be our caretaker & our visit this past weekend was the first time we saw how good he really was.

We pulled up to the house and all the landscaping looked AMAZING. The trees and flowers were blooming & all cleaned up. The house was immaculate inside and out. Shane didn't have to spend the first day cleaning up and in a bad mood. IT was WONDERFUL.

Something about this trip was different all around. Shane & I were both more relaxed. For the first time I wasn't obsessed with getting my 4-5mile walk or run in every day. Actually, I was probably more lazy than ever. AND, it felt fantastic. I much needed rest, I suppose.

We had our friends Amy & Robb with us for a couple days and had a blast with them! We were also able to work on getting Internet set up in the house so we can spend more time there & work. Absolutely perfect.

I know there has been a lot of bad press about Mexico in the news. I think every person I spoke to about going asked me if it was safe. I assure you people, Rocky Point is as safe as it was a year ago, two years ago. You always have a risk when you leave the country, but when you get there you forget about it all. The people are so nice and so friendly. WE are their economy. The depend on us and our money to survive. I always have a really hard time when I see or here "American's" acting rude, being disrespectful. We have our favorite places we go to eat, our favorite fish market person. We even brought some presents for our shrimp guy & his family this last trip.

Again, back to the bad press. If you read more closely into the articles you will see that the drug cartel problems are the border towns like Nogales & Tijuana. Sonoyta is far from the areas that are publicised as being dangerous. We plan to go back once a month until the Summer and have absolutely no fear. It IS safe.

Of course I only remembered to take pictures one day. The dogs were SO tired. Passing out on the deck & I thought it was too funny to not take pictures. The one chair they are sitting in is all broken, GROSS padding on it from the renters, but it's "bub's" chair so we had not thrown it away yet.... You can see how tired they are, and Abby with her pink lips - everyone asks if she's wearing lipstick. My little pretty princess.

I can't wait, 3 more weeks and we will be back, this time for the Rocky Point Triathlon!

The 75lb lap dog.


Can you see the "lipstick?"

Trying so hard to fight it.... eyes barely open

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Facebook Survey

"I am a marathoner"

1. Number of marathons you have run:

4 stand alone full marathons, 2 ironman marathons: Monaco 2001, RnR San Diego 2002, NY 2003, St. George 2007. Ironman CDA 2007 & 2008

8 half-marathons: Dessert Classic, Arizona Distance Classic, RnR AZ, AFC 3 times, Seattle, Tucson.

2. Where was your first marathon? Monaco 2002

3. Favorite Marathon course: New York, even though I hobbled in pain for 20miles, the crowd was AMAZING....

4. Most memorable race: Again New York. Shane proposed to me before the start of the race. He had a shirt printed up that said. "He asked, and all I got was this crummy T-shirt" It had a picture of the ring - which I was given AFTER the marathon! My IT band locked up at mile 6, and I hobbled the last 20miles to the finish line. Shane ran it with a hernia.

5. PR? St George. I think I could run a lot faster now, but my IT bands don't want to let me.

6. Ever run in a costume?NO

7. The only running shoes for me: I've tried them all - currently Asics Nimbus!

8. Ever injured? Story of my life - mostly IT bands, but I had a stress fracture 2 weeks into my first marathon training. I thought running in Nike Prestos was a good idea. Not so much.

9. Hot or cold weather runner? COLD - not like snowy freezing cold, but 50 degrees is PERFECT!

10. Morning or evening runs? Morning absolutely.

11. What is your motivation? Running is HARD. It's one of the best workouts I can do where I push myself. I love to eat and drink wine and running allows me to do so. My dogs are probably my best motivation though. The look on Baxter's face when he gets to go for a run is PRICELESS

12. Ever DNF? I pulled out of a half ironman, probably the best thing I've ever done for my health.

13. Marathon I'd like to forget: I would like to forget the PF Changs RnR half. I was sick, broke a fever and had a personal worst time. I absolutely hated the race & the course.

14. Favorite post race nosh: Salt

15. Galloway or Higdon? My first 3 marathons were with Racelab. My last was the Runner's World 3 day a week running plan. I will never go back to running 5-6 days a week.

16. Flat course or hills: Rolling

17. Back, Middle, or Front of the pack? Middle, Moving my way UP!

18. Run alone or with a partner: I love both. Sometimes you NEED someone, and sometimes you need to run alone. However, I really don't like running without my dogs!

19. Ever win your age group? Only in a 10k.

20. Favorite post marathon indulgence: Adult beverages and French Fries! ;)

21. Funniest T-shirt spotted on another runner during a marathon: I can't think of anything right now!

22. One part of your body that has never seen body glide: Well for running my big toes, but cycling is a whole different story....

23. Best part of running: You can do it just about anywhere!!

24. If I didn't run I_______________. I have been there. I couldn't run and I was miserable. Absolutely Miserable

25. I can't run without______________________.I kinda have a big list. Sunglasses & Gum are a must. I feel naked without my visor, my fuel belt, my Hr Monitor and my IPOD.

26. Ever lose a toenail? Yup, just a couple though.

27. Gatorade or Cytomax? Gatorade ONLY

28. Favorite gel flavor? I only like Power Gel. Plain, Raspberry or Green Apple

29. How many days after a marathon do you usually start running again? about a week.

30. I run, therefore I ________________________. ????!

31. Pre-race routines? I am pretty mellow now. I try on my outfit, lay everything out and put my chip on.

32. How often do you cry during a marathon? The first 1 was at the finish. The second one I don't think I cried & the 3rd I cried a lot. Pain, and happiness

33. What was your worst/least favorite marathon? I don't think I would ever do RnR San Diego again. I injured my IT band at that race & have never been the same.

34. What is your typical night before the marathon meal? Whole wheat pasta, spicy red sauce with mushrooms & buffalo mozzarella. A side Salad & a glass of wine.

35. Would you run a marathon again? I would LOVE to run another marathon, my body on the other hand doesn't agree :-(

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fearless, or a little less fearful.

I've had a good, no make that GREAT year so far. It actually started after my DNF at Soma. I decided to put my efforts to a little more work and then to the test by racing my first bike race, and shooting for a big PR at the Half Marathon distance.

I pushed, I left my comfort zone and I had great success in both races. Little did I know that was the beginning of my fun. The beginning of a long awaited peak in my fitness. The hard work I've been doing for so many years, battling injury after injury. Training my hard heart out. Battling a huge lack of confidence in myself and my capabilities. It was all about to really start paying off.

2 Huge Pr's at the 10k distance. Not just placing, but winning my Age Group. I never ever ever thought this would be me. For the first time in SO long I have this new fearless mindset. It's ok to feel that burn, to push beyond what you think you can do. Even if the bonk happens. Even if the disappointment happens again. It's ok. As long as you gave it your all, that is what matters.

Maybe pulling out of the half ironman last year lit a fire in me. After working so hard and having my health get in the way I was on a mission. I dug deep and pulled something out of me, and now that I have it, I'm having so much fun with it!!

On another note, I think giving up on racing ironman for a year is balancing me out. I'm having so much more fun with my workouts. While I'm still following a kinda schedule, no coach, but I have in my head an outline of what I should be doing, I can change my mind without stress.

I'm heading to masters almost every week 3 times. I show up, get in the pool & do what I'm told. And I push the bar. When she says level 5 I am gasping for air. I'm not worried about pooping out. I just simply DO it. And you know what?! I have my 100's down to the 1:24-1:26 pace for level 5. And not just one of them, multiple.

I'm running on a whim. Sometimes even letting my dogs decide which road they want to turn down. I don't care about the pace, or time or distance... I'm enjoying it, and I think they are too.

I'm listening to a new cycling guru that is helping Shane & I. He said no big chain ring. Spin, Spin, Spin. I'm slower than I've been in a long time, but I am finally seeing the hard work pay off. I'm no longer scared of changing something to loose ground. I'm just having faith.

In 2 weeks I will be doing something that if you asked me to do a year ago I would have laughed at you. A group of us are heading to Tucson to ride up Mount Lemon. It's about 6000ft of climbing over 26 miles. I'll be riding my road bike that I loath. It's too big for me, it's heavy & it's only a 9 speed. And, I have crappy stock wheels to boot. And you know what, I'm not even scared. I'm just going to DO it. I might be the last one up the hill, but I don't care.

2 weeks after that Shane & I are doing the tour de Phoenix bike race. My second bike race ever, only this time I get to start with the fast people. I have no idea if I will be able to hang on our not, but you only live once right?

And 2 weeks after that is my biggest challenge (mental) of all. I found my big girl pants and did the unthinkable. I officially registered for the Rocky Point Triathlon. Something I've sworn up and down I would NEVER EVER do. I've raced the 10k several times. I've biked on a relay team. But, after a horrible horrible experience where I was stung by a sting ray a couple years ago, I just thought I could never bring myself to do this race. To tempt fate & swim in that water.

After multiple people questioning my reasons for not doing it, I realized how ridiculous I was being. So, I found my big girl pants and I did it. No turning back now. And just like that, I'm in. It might seem like a small thing to some, but to me it's like a mountain I'm climbing over.

The craziest part about it all - I'm not all that scared... yet.

I know that my PR's and race achievements can't last forever. I know I can't push myself all the time. But, for now I'm so happy with the confidence it has given me to do things I said I didn't care about. To do things that are fun and not worry about the small things.

I've said before, and I think I'm really keeping to my word. This year is about getting my love for racing back. Going back to my roots. Enjoying all of it. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I'm finding the athlete I think I lost somewhere along the way..... This time, I don't plan on letting her go.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Foothills 10k

Another week down, another race down. Another unbelievable PR & even more unbelievable, another 1st place. It's really all unexpected and I'm kind of in awe of it myself.

I heard about this race several years ago, but was always too injured, or just coming back from injury and too slow to want to race. I heard it was crazy fast, and for sure a PR. A downhill course. I didn't realize she was talking about the 5K.....

Friday afternoon when I went to register us for the race, I was trying to figure out where the race actually was. The website had no race map, just a brief description. Then the words came. "Turn right and go up into the HILLS."

So much for a downhill course... HA! Oh well, at least the finish and start are downhill - and being familiar with the area the hills couldn't be that bad.

It was really a great race. A little weird to be bussed to the start of a 10k, but hey - gotta love a point to point race, right? The morning was gorgeous. About 60degrees (actually a little warm for racing by my standards) and sunny! Not too windy, Air not too thick. It seemed very organized. Get on the bus, get dropped off, put stuff in a bag to be returned at the finish & start.

After an initial porta potty stop, I was walking over to stand in the sun so I didn't get cold. As I walked up someone asked me if I was doing Coeur d'Alene this year.... It took me a minute to figure out. Gotta love Ironman Schwag - it's the best conversation starter! Shane & I ended up talking to this really nice couple for about 20mins. About races and Ironman, working from home, etc. It was pretty cool. We haven't raced in so long that we really don't know a ton of people out there anymore.

Of course I happened to notice that the woman was in my age group. Kinda hard to hide when it's written on the race number in black ink. After talking more about racing she tells me she just did PF Changs in 3:45 after doing Tucson right before it. Yah, I guess I don't have so much to worry about being her. She's FAST.

Shortly before the race her husband asks me what I'm going to finish in. I told him I had no idea, that my last race was just under 49mins. I assumed he was checking out the competition for his wife. Too funny, I thought. I looked at Shane & said - "If it's close at the end, Don't let her (we'll call her "J") beat me!"

Shane & I went for a couple minute jog to warm up. I woke up with my knee really sore that morning and was pretty worried. I rolled and iced and also put on some of the Myomed creme before we left the car, but it was still hurting.

This was a non chipped timed race, so we started right up front. There were some crazy fast people we saw warming up that morning. Like, I'm pretty sure they ran a 10k to warm up for the 10k.

The buzzer went off and we were off. The first mile a nice quick downhill. I felt pretty good, getting into my rhythm. My knee pain - GONE. Garmin was showing mostly sub 7min pace, but I knew it would be short lived and just went with it. Sure enough right after the first mile marker we turned right and the climbing started. It felt pretty good at first, then out of nowhere, once again I got a stupid side stitch. This one was REALLY painful. Like, hurt to breath bad. I sucked it up and tried not to slow down too much, but I think the pace went down into the low 8's at this point. Finally I pulled through and picked the pace back up into the 7's.

Unfortunately while this happened I got passed by a few people. "J" above being one of them. I tried my hardest not to let her get too far ahead of me, but I had already picked up some speed and was feeling it. As she passed Shane said, "She will not beat us." I have to admit these steep little hills were pretty tough, but I didn't get passed on them so everyone else must of felt them as well. I slowly gained a little bit of distance back on "J." The downs were harder for me. Some were so steep I just wasn't good at the turnover yet. Shane was doing something cause he was just FLYING down them. Then he would pull back & wait for me.

It cracks me up how he just has this race ability. I mean for all of our regular runs we're just trotting along side by side in our zone 2s. But he can just KICK it into this fast gear. It looked effortless for him. He grabbed water at the couple of stops and would hold it until I caught up to get it. Of course I was breathing so hard I couldn't drink any so I would try, end up with it all over my face, then just pour it on my arms or back cause I was getting HOT.

The deal was, I would pace us for the first half and he would pick it up for the second half. Unfortunately those hills kicked my ass! I knew I PR's my 5k and actually hit a lap so I could see it later on the Garmin. We got closer to "J" just before mile 4. Shane just slowly trotted up behind her, then passed her. I'm thinking he did this WAY too soon, cause I'm not the most competitive person, but some people are and I was worried she would pass me again & I couldn't hang on. But, I slowly crept up and passed her. And ran as hard as a I could for the next couple of miles.

Shane asked how I was doing a couple times. I responded with, I'm going to throw up. :-) Little smart ass replies back - "We haven't even laid the hammer yet." Oh good God, what does he think I have left in me. My response. "Payback is in the pool on Monday."

The last incline before getting on to Cave Creek Road, the final downhill stretch took a lot longer to get to than I thought. I was thinking it was at least 3 miles, but I was off by over a mile. That was my goal.. just run as hard as you can without puking until you get to that road, then it's a nice downhill!

I eventually passed one more girl, pretty sure she was NOT in my age group, but it was fun to pass her non the less. I could see 2 more girls way too far ahead to be passed, but I liked that those and a few that took off really fast from the start were the only ones in sight. I started having thoughts that with "J" still behind me, I could possibly place in my age group. Look at me, I was giggling inside. I wasn't running a 10K. I was RACING a 10k! How cool :-)

I did look behind a few times to make sure I wasn't going to get passed in the last stretch.... Then, I "tucked and rolled," per Daniel's advice. I gave it my all and ran about a 6:40 pace for the last half mile... As I approached the finish line I saw our friends Amy & Robb cheering me in. It was very cool. Amy trained & ran the first two marathons with us. It definitely felt like the good old days again... Only, a little bit faster!

Amy placed first in her Age group for the 5k and we were waiting for the awards... They thought there were not many people in front of me so we waited around to see the 10K results. It took FOREVER to past them, but sure finally they were. Shane went to look and came back with a smile on his face. He said, "2 for 2!" I was first in my age group again. "J" finished less than 20 seconds behind me....

The awards for 1st place were gold rimmed coffee mugs that said 1st place. Unfortunately I broke the thing 5minutes later (oops), but oh well. I already planned on grabbing an old medal for Bub & telling him I won for him again. As you can see above, he didn't know the difference and wore it and posed proudly. It really is cute as can be how excited he gets. I do think he's wondering when Dad is going to bring the bling home for him? Rocky Point buddy, just a few weeks!

I don't know if I would have done so well in this race without Shane pushing me, but either way I'm very happy. I think I know how far I can push my body now, and can hopefully carry it into my next race, and most of all carry it over into triathlon racing. This will never be about sheer competition for me. I always need to be having fun... I never want to be one of "those bitches" I've raced with several times. That's not what it is about for me. I was out there racing, but I was having fun and smiling and would not want it any other way.

Final results per my garmin -
47:10 - 6.3miles (Shane's read 6.3 as well), 7:29 pace.
7:29 pace for 6.2 would have been 46:29!!!
First 5k - 3.11miles, 23:28, 7:33pace
2nd 5k - 3.19miles, 23:42, 7:26 pace - NEGATIVE SPLIT!!! :-)
Total ascent - 1014ft
Total descent - 1589ft
Net - 575ft loss - good net down, but definitely some climbing!

I would absolutely do this race again. Very well ran. Beautiful course!