Saturday, December 31, 2011

Number 34

I've been meaning to write this post for a week now, but somehow between the sunshine in Mexico, a sick dog & a fancy New Years Eve party… it's a wee bit late. On December 24th I turned 34. It was a pretty darn good year for me. I decided I'm liking my 30s and I can only hope that it just keeps getting better. So, with that I want to do a little fun post about 34 things, people or places that helped make my year! I've thankful for each one of these...

In no particular order, here we go:

1. Sunshine: Don't get me wrong, I love a good swim in a nice cloudy rainy day… but nothing gets me outta bed and moving like some blue sky and sunshine

2. My job. While I won't go on and on about how my job is so wonderful & I'm changing lives or living my dream career (cause those just aren't true), I am extremely lucky to have been given this opportunity to work from home with Melisa. It gives me so much flexibility to do all the things that make me happy. I take care of my pups, keep the house from falling apart (aside from maybe peak Ironman time), the fridge is (usually) full, I can almost always fit in all of my training & I get to help my sister out and spend time with mini-me niece. Yes, I'm very thankful for my job.

3. Mexico. Lots and lots of time spent at our house in Mexico this year. Friends and family joined us some of the time, and sometimes it was just Shane, me & the dogs. Something about staring at the ocean just makes me melt. I heart the beach. I heart Mexico.

4. Shane. My best friend, my partner in crime. He gets me (or at least does a good job of pretending to most of the time). We laugh, we have fun, we make fools of our self. We frustrate the hell out of each other, and push each other as well. It's a pretty darn good match.

5. Recovery e21. This product has helped me push when I didn't think I had any left in the tank. Recover faster. Meet a fun and talented group of athletes, and to top it all off… it helps when those Mexico trips got a little too crazy. Thank you e21 for letting me represent such a great product all year long!
6. Pedicures. I love me a good pedicure. I hate my feet, but I freaking love having sparkly red toenails and soft heels. Those little pedicure ladies kept me from losing any toenails with all my running and never once (at least in English) made fun of my ugly, sore calloused feet. Is there anything better than a foot and calf massage after a long ass training week?

7. My dogs. We officially had our first year with LMT (little miss thang) Juliette Thanksgiving weekend. She & Baxter have become BFFs and she's made her way right into our hearts. Baxter will always be my baby, my boy… but this little girl is about as close as one can get to compete! I'm so so thankful for my kids...

8. Facebook. I'm not saying I'm necessarily thankful for it, but boy oh boy has it been part of my year. Probably WAY too much. It's entertaining to say the least, but it can also be fun. Keep up with friends, reconnect and laugh at memories. Yes, Facebook you were definitely part of my 34th year…

9. Friendship. I have always been blessed with meeting and building wonderful connections with people. From new people I've met in the past year or so, to some I've known for 10+ years, to those who I've known since I was just a kid. I'm forever blessed with all these people, and incredibly thankful.

10. My blog. This blog started out in 2007 when I wanted to document my training for Ironman CDA. It turned into much, much more than that. It's always been heavy training and racing based, but it is also a way for me to share my memories. The good, the bad and the ugly. While I haven't been writing as much over the past year, I have definitely looked back at a lot of my posts and loved seeing how I've grown. How my thoughts have changed, how my writing has changed and how I see thing differently. Pretty stinking cool.

11. Peanut Butter. Oh my, yes my love for peanut butter was in full force this past year. When Costco's organic peanut farmers ran out of their harvest and I could no longer get my beloved peanut butter I about died. For reals. Of course I found some substitutes but I was certainly a bit worried for a while. My peanut butter toast gets me outta bed :)

12. Our coach. At the beginning of the year the coach I was working with didn't have time to work with athletes. It was February and I was determined to have a great season so I did a ton of research with coaches and ended up hiring Michelle after an hour conversation with her. I loved what she had to say and we just sorta clicked. She's kicked my ass from one side to the next, but she's helped me start my journey of becoming the athlete I had no idea was inside of me. I can not wait to see what happens this next year. Thanks Michelle.

13. Mumford and Sons. I just can't seem to get enough of their music. It's happy, it's dark, it's just got this beat that I love love love to listen to.

14. Recovery tights, socks, shoes. Can't get enough of them. I never thought I would be one of those nerdy people walking around in this stuff, but I so totally am.

15. ART. My magic man Dr. Sherman might be one of the biggest reasons I'm able to push my body so hard. I'm fairly confident I'm helping build his kid's college fund, but hey… someone has to do it right?

16. Mingus Mtn. In 2010 when I got tricked into doing Answer to the Challenge I was convinced I was going to die. I was completely undertrained. I hurt in so many ways I wasn't sure I would ever sit on my bike again. I cried and threw a 2 year old tantrum halfway into day2 after climbing Mingus Mtn. BUT, this year I was in WAY better shape, knew what I was in for and came back to kick Mingus' ass. I felt amazing at the top and did it in a pretty darn good time. So, so proud of that!

17. Coeur d'Alene. CDA means a lot to me. I grew up just 30 mins outside of it, and spent my summers sitting on the beach and swimming in the lake. When I chose to do my first Ironman, there was NO question in my mind where it would be. I've done the race 3 times now, and while I still haven't had my best race there…. I'll keep coming back!

18. Ebay. I discovered how much fun Ebay can be in the past year, well actually few months. I came back from CDA on a mission to sell a bunch of stuff and buy a new bike. It's fun, it's addicting a little crazy as well.

19. Yoga. I'm not putting THAT word on their cause I'm thankful for it, or it was a big part of my year… but since I finally broke down and actually went to a REAL class (ok actually 2) I thought I should put it down here.

20. Running. This has been my BEST year of running so far. I've reached new goals and pushed myself harder (and differently) than ever and ya know what? It's worked. Found some new running buddies and created some new PRs. Yes, I'm thankful not only for my improvements, and running friends but also thankful once again I'm still ABLE to run!

21. Scrabble. Fun, entertaining and a good time killer. I can't spell for anything, but when you play online… you get a dictionary. Love love love me some scrabble

22. Mexico Sunglasses. I just can't get enough of them. I've got polka dot Ray Bans. Mirrored Ray Bans. A couple aviators (YAY RED). Some sporty ones for beach runs, some funny purple Kanye-West esque ones. Shane has his Turbos and whatever else I grab for the bargain price of $5. I've already got my next purchase figured out, just gotta get back down there and find em :)

23. 9 mile hill. I used to hate it. I used to hate climbing it. I used to be uncomfortable and slow and loathe it. This past year it became my friend. I hit a new PR by climbing it (slight tail wind) in my big chain ring. Can't wait to tackle it this season!

24. Martinis (lemon drop). Yes, I know it is counter-productive of all my training, but they are just so DAMN GOOD. Especially after an ass whooping Wednesday hard run and swim.

25. iPhone. Shane made fun of me for an entire year for my blackberry. But, it worked it was only a year old and who cared. But, he finally took me to Best Buy and said enough and bought me a new iPhone. That's really all I need to say. I heart my iPhone and can't believe I waited so long to get one!

26. Shoes. I heart my shoes. Always have. I suppose in the last couple of years my collection has dwindled, because I spend most of my time in flip flops and workout clothes, but every once in a while a special occasion comes up and I need me some new kicks… These were from this past spring. Oh I can't wait for it to get nice out again so I can wear them. Anyone getting married?

27. Garmin. I spent a lot of time training on my own this past year, but I'm such data nerd that it kept me going. Too slow, speed up. Crap - HR 125… suck it up and pedal faster.

28. Pizza. I know, not the best for me food, but it's my go to meal when I'm either starving, or Shane is out of town. I created a pretty healthy version of it myself that works perfectly when Shane is out of town. The whole wheat flat out bread (only 100cals), trader joes pesto, whatever veggies I have or just mushrooms & sundried tomatoes, a little feta cheese & crushed red pepper. Throw it in the oven at 400degs for 7 minutes and eat with a side of mixed greens and it's the perfect meal.

29. My new bike! While I haven't fallen in love with her yet, how can you not look at her (Margarita) and not just fall in love. I'm so so thankful after a whole lot of drama I got her. Now I just have to find a saddle that doesn't kill me so I can get back out on her!

30. Training peaks. Best training log out there. I tracked my training from 07-10' on a site that lost ALL my data. So happy to now be on TPs where my coach enters the workouts, I give feedback and it all gets meshed together. It allows me to track progress, and totals for this data loving nerd. 2011 totals… ~650hours total; 5,225 bike miles 334,793 swim yards 1110 run miles & ~20hours of strength.

31. Texting. I hate to admit it, but every since my iphone (and a little before) conversion I've become a texting whore. I have NEVER liked talking on the phone, but love love keeping in touch with people. Sending pictures, making training plans, asking questions. It's quick, it's simple and I'm way way way over-using it.

32. Mini me. She's growing up fast, but I still get to spend a lot of time with her, and thankfully… I'm still cool in her eyes. Pretty thankful to my sister for making her :)

33. Arizona. I may bitch and complain about it between June-September, but how can you not be thankful for living somewhere the suns shines 98% of the time and on January 1 you are riding your bike in 78degrees? Swim year round in an outdoor pool, and wear flip flops year round.

34. I've had this word on my mind for a while. It's something that everything I've listed, and so much more has helped build inside of me. It's something I was missing for a long time. It's something that you can't buy, or seek out. This past year I've built more confidence than I actually knew I had in me. I don't know how it finally came out, but it did. It allowed me to put goals out, reach for them and then grab them. To speak my mind (probably too much) instead of just agreeing. To not worry so much about what anyone else thinks about me or what I'm doing. To get in a swimsuit in front of anyone and everyone when it's something I'd never been comfortable doing. At age 34 I feel better, more happy and content then I have in my life. So much so I put on this way too short sparkly mini dress, stark red lipstick and 4.5" red platform pumps and toasted the new year with friends.

"Remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." unknown.

I can't wait to see what this next year brings, but most importantly I'm so ever loving thankful for everyone and each memory that made this past one so incredible.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Birthday Swim

For the past few years I've done some birthday workouts on my own. I'd bike xx miles, swim xx meters & run XX mins. I think the first year I even managed to do them all in a day. Always before my birthday, since it's on the 24th and well it's kinda hard to ride your bike and swim the laps at the beach….

Some people wonder why they heck I would want to push myself for my birthday, (yes I was asked this questions last week) vs relaxing and indulging. If you read this blog, well then you know that is just not my style.

Last week started the birthday workouts off with an impromptu bike ride. It was my first ride post Tucson half and my legs were still tight, but manageable. I met my training partner T on a pretty cool am and we headed out for a 2 hour flat ride. We were bundled up cozy, but the sun was shining and as we were heading up north we looked over and saw the 4 Peak mtns covered in snow. It was absolutely gorgeous. As we got close to the 1hr mark just chatting away I noticed we were at about 17miles so I decided we'd turn around at exactly 17 making it my 34mile birthday ride. It was perfect. It helped loosen up my sore tired legs, had a great social ride with my friend and couldn't help but just smile at the fact it's the end of December and I'm able to be outside in the sunshine on my bike…

Next up was the birthday swim. I'd been thinking about it for a couple weeks trying to figure out which day would be best. With the holidays & no access to a pool plus I had promised to watch my niece for a few days I came up with Monday the 19th. I put a post out on Facebook asking for company and before I knew it I had a group of about 10 people willing to come swim with me! I had no idea I'd get that much response wanting or able to come mid day during a work day but I was happy non the less!

Of course life gets in the way and the group slowly broke down, but I feel so lucky and blessed that I had a few friends able to still make it.

Preston, one of the friendliest most inspirational guys I've ever met - He started doing triathlons when he was about 50 and is a multiple ironman finisher, including KONA! He is the welcoming leader for our tri group, TriScottsdale.
Nigel, friend of Molly, got persuaded into joining in on the fun! I have to admit I was pretty excited as the last time I swam with him he gave me a run for my money so I put him in my lane and gave him the task of actually doing all 34x100 with me. All went great & we swam side by side until I tied his feet together with a band…. I think that is about where I lost him:).
Sweet Tracy took a half day off work to join in on the fun. I've just become close friends with Tracy in the past year and I'm really grateful to have met her. She's one of the most positive happy people I've ever met and share's my favorite triathlon quality of always "looking good" :)

There were a couple of spectators as well. Abby, baker extraordinaire, did the swim on her own earlier that morning, then made us the most delicious chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and took pictures. Really? I mean, how sweet is THAT?
Tracy's daughter came along and watched/enjoyed the post swim goodies and Shane stopped by for a treat as well.
I feel so blessed to have such great people in my life, and most of all for the ability to be able to celebrate my day doing the things that I love. Here's the workout for anyone interested. You can ignore the interval, it's set for the extra long gainey pool :) Next up - birthday run tomorrow. 34mins ez, 34mins tempo! Anyone can do THAT!

Happy Birthday! Enjoy!
8 x 100's easy @ 2:05 just warming up. stretch it out.
5 x 100's buoy only @ 2:00 tight core good rotation stemming from hips. neutral head position.
4 x 100's paddles/band ONLY. Nice. Must force rotation from hips on these to keep feet from sinking. rest is 15" after each or @2:05.
4 x 100's swim paddles only @ 2:00
5 x 100's swim where you go 50 sprint/50 easy @ 2:00
8 x 100's again @2:00, descend in sets of 2 (ie 2 holding 1:43, 2 holding 1:41, 2 holding 1:39, 2 holding as fast as you can go. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

ending on a fantastic note

It's hard to end a season when your big A race was only half way through the year. Sure, summer training isn't the most fun in AZ, but sitting on the sidelines for 6 months after IMCDA wasn't what I wanted to do either. Since I didn't have my best day at CDA, I wasn't finished. After taking July off of training - absolutely no running and just ez swim and bike training to keep the blood flowing, I started back up training in August for Soma Half IM. I got a new bike, and without being completely comfortable on it, raced Soma in some brutal heat & while not having a great run - set a half IM PR.

Somehow I just still wasn't quite done. After a quick recovery from the half I sent Michelle a note and said I wanted to do the Tucson half marathon and yes it was only 5 weeks away but I wanted a PR. My old half marathon PR was a 1:45:32 at the Ogden marathon in 09. My last half was at the Women's half Marathon last Nov where I ran a 1:45:47 - I felt like I was in much better shape now, and was ready to work hard to get some speed.

Michelle put me to work immediately and had me running 4 days per week. One long, one ez aerobic, one speed and one race pace tempo mid distance run. I did this for 4 weeks and then had a ez 5th week taper. The first week was a little hard. My legs were tired and I was working to hit some speeds she gave me. The second got easier and by the 3rd week I was feeling good. The 4th week of hard work was a long run where the goal was to run ez for 45mins then start decreasing the speed ending at a 7:40-7:50 race pace. The run happened to fall the day after a big party so I was certainly in no shape to do that run, but somehow got it done. I figured after that effort (hungover), the race couldn't feel anywhere near as hard.

My goal went from just wanting a PR (anything under 1:45) to stating I wanted to run 7:40s. In my head I figured if I was training ending all my long runs at this pace, and doing tempo mile blocks at this pace, then maybe I could hold the pace on race day with a downhill course? Somehow I got 7:40pace = 1:40 race time, but I didn't realize I was a little off until the day before the race…. I knew everything would have to go flawlessly to get this done and I had my pacer husband to try and get me there.

But, before I get to race day I have to share one of the best pre-race days I've had yet. Maybe, just maybe it was my lucky charm. On Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in the Run4Sal 5k. I don't think I need to go into detail the story of this event, but what I can say is I thought it would be the most PERFECT time for my niece who has been dying to do a run event with me to participate as well. It would be her first 5k and what better place to do it? Shane & I signed up to do the race with her and all I can say is I'm so incredibly proud of her! She struggled a little bit with the cold and her lungs (asthma), but she finished strong and finished just under 38mins. Can you imagine running 3.1 miles at age 8??? Yah, me either! I can't wait to find out when she wants to do another one…

We headed to Tucson after the race and rather than going into a crazy long report of what happened over the next 24hours I just have to say the race could not have gone any better. We started the race with my speedy friends who were both trying to get a NY marathon qualifying time of <1:44 & 1:37. I figured I would be somewhere in the middle of those two times, but we all started out together. My plan was engraved in my head to start EAZY despite the most drastic elevation drop in the first half and then save some energy for the end. I had been practicing this for over a month and felt confident.

I had my garmin auto lapping every mile and giving me splits, but I kept the screen on overall AVG pace. My goal was to start around 7:45's and slowly trickle the pace down. After the first 2 miles it was stuck on 7:40 but the effort was EASY so I just kept plugging away. It was a very cool morning, but we were extremely lucky having the wind literally at our backs keeping it warmer and after the first few miles I had shed my layers and felt great.

One of our friends picked up the pace and pulled away after the first couple of miles and while part of me wanted to go with her, this pace was completely unknown territory for me… I was determined to stick to my plan. A gel at ~ mile 6 then the miles TICKED by and I started to see the avg pace slowly drop until it stuck around 7:37 until about mile 8. My breathing was finally getting a little harder but I still felt fantastic. Around mile ten I took a "SLAM." My new favorite pick me up! Miles 10 & 11 were some of my fastest at 7:25 & 7:22. The only real incline of the race came at mile 11-12.5. It wasn't incredibly steep, but you definitely had to work for it. Shane pulled out in front of me to sort of "pull me." I could feel my pace slow down so I switched my garmin pace to see the avg and saw it getting closer to an 8min pace. I tucked my head in and used my arms to help pick up the speed and wouldn't you know it, I did it. I ended that tough mile with a 7:41 pace. I'm fairly certain the last time I did this race that mile was closer to a 9:30.

With one mile left my quads were starting to cramp. My breathing was labored but at the same time I was slowly one by one passing every person I saw in front of me. I used that as inspiration to just keep going. In the last half mile I had my eyes on a girl in pink (go figure). She was till moving pretty well, and I wasn't sure I had enough time to get past her. Shane pulled out in front again and passed her and I gave it everything I had to reach her. At mile 13 I was side by side her to make the last right hand turn to the finish. I gave it everything I had an crossed the finish line about 2 second in front her her.

My legs locked up and I nearly fell to the ground. Shane gave me a huge hug and told me he was proud.

I did it. I set a goal, I followed a plan and I gave it everything I had out there. I know this was no Ironman and there were no age group placings, but this race might have just been my best to date. I did the work and in the end everything fell into place when it mattered.

My official time was 1:39:05. 6:27 half marathon PR, 9:37 course PR. Holy crap. One of my girlfriends finished a little less than a minute in front of me and will be working towards that 1:37 NY marathon qualifying times in a month & my other girlfriend PR'd by ~2 mins & hit her NY qual time. It was a picture perfect day and the most incredibly way to end my 2011 season.
I can't WAIT to find out what happens in 2012! Right now, I feel like the sky is the limit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

at the movies

Over the weekend Shane & I actually didn't have too much going on so we rented a few movies - a couple that I added made note of while watching some previews (isn't it annoying how some movies now don't let you skip through the previews?).

Anyway - I'm a sucker for a good story line, something sometimes kinda quirky and different than the big box stuff. Although, truth be told I am wishing my niece was a teeny bopper (just for this month - then I'll rewind her back to 8years old) so I could have a date to go see the new Twilight movie.

Examples of movies that I could (and have) watch over and over are:

Garden State - A little dark, but also funny and sad and has one of the best soundtracks in a LONG time.

Juno - I'm not sure I've ever loved so many one-liners from a movie, ever. Ellen Page is AMAZING and who doesn't love Bleaker? This is probably my most favorite movie in the past 10 years.

I'm also a HUGE Kevin Smith fan. Mallrats is my favorite but Clerks & Clerks II are right up there. The only one I've really never liked would be Dogma - just too out there for me.

There are several more, but those are definitely some of my top picks!

So recently I've seen a few that while they are no Juno, they definitely won me over:

The Music Never stopped. It's sad, it's amazing, it's inspiring. Again, LOVE the soundtrack.

An Invisible Sign. I'm not a huge Jessica Alba fan, but I think she NAILED it in this movie. It has a couple scenes that made me cringe, but when the movie ended I was like wow. I really really liked that. You will fall in love with the little girl Lisa.

Peep Show. If you think you have a messed up family, or crazy siblings… This will make you feel a bit more normal. Not the BEST movie, but something different.

Super. A little out there for me, and honestly I wouldn't have agreed to watching it if it weren't for Ellen Page. She defines Bat Shit Crazy in this movie! It's good for a few giggles, but also a little gruesome. Always fun when Kevin Bacon makes an appearance.

Hope you enjoy! Now, who wants to go see Twilight with Me? :)