Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Year in iPhone Photos

As I sat on the tarmac flying back to Seattle from my Christmas ski trip, I found myself looking through pictures on my iPhone. Every single one of them made me smile as they brought back memories from the past year. Here are some of my favorites:

(From Left to Right, rows 1-4) February: skiing in Utah with my parents and uncle. April: staying with my cousin and his wife in Boston before the marathon – I love math references. May: I received All-American honors for my 2010 season; I took this picture to send to my coach. June: Eastern WA riding – this was on my over-distance day: 130 mile bike + 1 hour run. June: Tri girls never grow old – celebrating Sydnie’s 30th birthday with a morning swim in Greenlake. June: Good luck flowers from a secret admirer (aka – my parents). June: Interview with Universal Sports to talk about defending the W25-29 AG title at Ironman CdA. June: Ironman CdA finish line – as long as I can still stand at the end of an Ironman, I will always go watch the finish line. It’s electric! July: A fun 4th of July BBQ – I love the shadow of the guy dancing in the background. July: celebrating friends’ wedding in Roche Harbor. August: Hill repeats at sunset with Mt. Rainier in the background. August: Puke & Rally at Hood to Coast – weekend of the year! November: run around Greenlake with Chrissie Wellington. November: Triathlon prom - aka a night out with some of Seattle's triathletes to celebrate the end of the season. December: Christmas themed swim. December: ski trip to Utah with my parents.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Holidazzle Run Recap

Outside the bar after a quick stop
If "12 Days of Christmas" was 9 days longer, my friends and I would have to make up the 21st verse. 21 runners running - that was us on Wednesday night. It was a group of friends all connected through racing and training. From doctors to writers to engineers to coaches to accountants to nurses, we took Queen Anne by storm in our decorative Christmas costumes. The 2011 Holidazzle run was a wonderful success and I was more than happy to see old friends getting together and new friendships being made. Here is a quick recap of the night.

6:30 - girls meet at my house, touch up costumes, laugh, hug, be merry.

6:45 - group picture and run route instructions

7:00 - first stop for pictures at a house with over the top lights and decorations. We run into the cutest group of elementary school carol singers for "The Christmas Song." We struggle after "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," but manage to sound acceptable.

7:05 - stop at Paragon Bar & Grill where the bartender serves us shots on the house. We also run into some guy friends who had organized a "Holi-dude" run to correspond with our route.

7:15 - continue on the run and manage to keep a pretty good clip.

7:45 - stop at Kerry Park for some more pictures and a few carols - Silver Bells, Jingle Bells to name a couple.

8:00 - end up back at my house for chili, snacks, salads, cookies, drinks, and other food stuff. The dudes rolled in a little later, so naturally I served up some White Russians.

I think most people left around midnight with the last partygoers lingering until 1:30am...definitely late for a school night in a group full of early morning workouts. Everyone seemed to have a blast and enjoyed a chance to share some endorphins and laughs during the busy holiday season. I love my friends and am very thankful for my health. The Holidazzle run was a chance to showcase them both. All week I've found myself laughing about things that happened throughout the evening; it was a great time. I'm already making notes and planning for next year.

Merry Christmast to all!

With 4 of my 5 Hood to Coast girl teammates
Puke and Rally for life!

Fast girls looking for a good time

"Say it's carol singers"
- Love Actually quote anyone?

Posing at Kerry Park with the
Seattle skyline in the background

One benefit of throwing a party -
leftover beer to last me through winter

Gotta love 20+ type A runners

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silent Night, Holy Night

Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the holiday season! I’ve made it a Christmas tradition to gather up some of my favorite runners and triathletes for what I call the “Holidazzle.” Of course I get excited about silly costumes, funny pictures, and quick stop at the bar. But really, I’m looking forward to tonight because it’s a chance to spend time with some of the people that have made this past year so great. I become a sentimental mush around the holidays and I get choked up thinking about all the wonderful people in my life, like my dear friend who ran a pace run with me at the crack this morning. You know who you are. Thank you to everyone who makes every training day so special. That is really why I do what I do.

I’ve been joking about making my friends sing “Silent Night” with me at Kerry Park on our run route. Last year, there were actually some crazy bystanders who requested carols to which we obliged. So if we don’t end up singing together tonight, I am getting my sentimental fix through the immortal genius of John Denver and the Muppets. When I was little, my parents had this record and we’d listen to it on Christmas Eve. Also check out the 12 days of Christmas rendition. So cute! If you aren’t touched by how adorable these guys are when they tell each other Merry Christmas at the end or “Stille nacht,” you have no soul, plus John Denver's glasses are awesome. I just love it.

Merry Christmas to all runners, triathletes, and friends out there!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Christmas - Healthy Living Edition

People who know me well know how much I love holiday festivities and themed workouts. And when I worked in public accounting, I would often tell my staff that we were going to start "healthy living month" to do little things to focus on living well. So I've put together 12 days of healthy living this year to celebrate life and celebrate the holidays. Here's my list:

12/14 Twelve different stretches: When people used to ask me about my stretching routine, my response was “eh, not really, maybe a couple quad stretches before a marathon to try to fit in.” I’m not quite as bad now, but I definitely need reminders about stretching. One of my friends gave me this stretch deck a couple years ago. I picked out 12 different ones to kick off my 12 days of Healthy Living.
12/15 Eleven minutes of Abs: I’ll bring it up a notch and challenge the 1990’s “8 Minute Abs” infomercial with my own abdominal exercises. I’ve found a lot of great exercises from Runner’s World like the one they posted for Lolo Jones. However, I’ll probably do my 11 minutes routine at home using a combination of crunches, planks, bicycles, and the metronome (reminds me of my high school XC ski days). I might even see if I can do this every day through the rest of the month.
12/16 Ten glasses of water: Here are guidelines provided by Mayo Clinic. I’m going with 10 because I am quite the sweater.
This day is also my tri team’s 12 days of Christmas swim. Sydnie bought a group of us festive swim caps and I can't wait to wear mine. I’m still nursing a bum shoulder from my mountain biking fall, so I can only participate in the kick sets. Bah humbug. :( As a side note I’m trying to see the positives on having a break in my swim training – I know I’ll come back more eager to put in a TON of yards and hopefully my kicking is also getting stronger.
12/17 Nine hours of sleep: Sleep is often the first thing to go when I try and squeeze in long training, a full-time job, somewhat of a social life, and some semblance of order (bills paid, clean clothes, food in the fridge, etc.) I have really been sucking at getting enough sleep during this busy holiday season. This day I will focus on getting a solid nine hours of sleep. If only I could do this every night, my body would recover better from the times I beat it up during hard workouts.
12/18 Eight Limbs of Yoga: There once was a time when I was better at practicing yoga. I love it and this day I’m going to attend a less advanced class so I can focus on the 8 limbs of each practice as listed below.
  1. Yama : Universal morality
  2. Niyama : Personal observances
  3. Asanas : Body postures
  4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
  6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine     
12/19 Seven servings of fruits and vegetables: There is no perfect formula as to how many servings of fruits and vegetable we should eat, but I’m going to shoot for 7 on this day. It shouldn’t be too difficult, since I typically have a banana at breakfast, 4 more servings throughout the work day and lunch, and a couple around dinnertime. Every other week, I get a produce delivery from Full Circle Farms. The deliciousness of their fruits and veggies will assist on this day.
Typical view from Kerry Park on one
of my most frequent run routes
12/20 Six meals: If I plan on meals throughout the day, I’m sure to eat healthier and not starve my body from the nutrients it needs during training. Christmas cookies and whatever treats in the office do not count as meals.
12/21 Five rounds of Silent night during the 3rd Annual Holidazzle: I really don’t think my friends will sing with me in Kerry Park, but perhaps I’ll still fit in my own Christmas caroling.
12/22 Four minutes off, four minutes on – bike intervals: This will be one way to break up the 2 hours and 30 minutes ON THE TRAINER I have on my schedule for that day. If I get crafty, I might even coordinate the music with ~4 minute songs.
12/23 Three easy workouts: swim, lift, yoga. An easy recovery day planned for the 23rd.
12/24 Two 10 milers: 10 miles at 7:20 pace, 10 miles at 7-7:05 pace. Another 20 mile run to prepare me for Rock ‘n Roll Arizona, which I’ll be running on January 15th. I PR’ed there with a 3:05 last year and I’m hoping I can run just as strong this year.
12/25 One day of Skiing: My family has been taking ski trips over Christmas for the past 10-ish years. Although it’d be nice to spend some time in my parents’ house and go to a Christmas service at the church from my youth, it’s also nice to get away for the holidays. We are lucky enough to stay slope side for the week. My routine usually consists of wake-up, coffee, read, breakfast, ski all morning, lunch, (maybe a nap), ski all afternoon, (maybe a treadmill session – but not on Christmas), read, cocktail hour, dinner, read, relax, bed. Repeat.
Every year is special, but I think I will appreciate the time with my parents even more this year. My dad was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma just over a year ago and wasn’t able to make the 2010 Knutson Christmas ski trip. Luckily, he has a break in radiation treatments this year and is able to spend some time with us on the slopes. Please keep him in your Christmas prayers.

Skiing at Vail in 2009 with my old man. The guy knows how to have a
good time. We tore up the Back Bowls that day.
12 Days of Christmas – Unhealthy Living Edition And if I hated myself and didn't love life, here is what I would do for the next 12 days (good thing I'll be doing the healthy edition). This is gross:
12/14 12 pack of Coor’s  
12/15 11 minutes of negative self-talk
12/16 10 Oreo’s
12/17 9 Christmas cookies
12/18 8 top pot donuts
12/19 7 glasses of wine
12/20 6 shots of whiskey
12/21 5 glasses of egg nog
12/22 4 hours of sleep
12/23 3 sticks of butter
12/24 2 packs of cigarettes
12/25 1 Bag of Dorito’s

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ironman World Championships on NBC

I signed up for my first Ironman in 2007. But in typical WTC fashion, I had to wait 52 weeks before  I could actually toe the line in Coeur d'Alene, ID in 2008. There are pros and cons with the Ironman brand economics supply and demand laws. I agree with most people that it is crazy, expensive, and crazy expensive. But the experiences I've gained through this sport have far exceeded the $600-$700 in entry fees per race.

But I digress. The real reason for this post is to reflect on how far I've come in the sport and to acknowledge that what was once a dream became a reality - twice! In December of 2007, I recall posting on Facebook a status of something along the lines of, "watching the Ironman World Championships on NBC and dreaming BIG!" My friends made funny to supportive comments, but I was serious. Even before watching the television replay I knew Kona was something that I wanted to experience someday, even if it would take me a few years.

Fast forward to June of 2010, nearly 3 years and 2 tearful rolldowns later. On June 27, 2010 after 10 hours and 42 minutes, I secured my invitation to triathlon's world stage. I won my age group at Ironman Coeur d'Alene that year and didn't have to worry about any slot allocation. I was in! My BIG dream of competing in Kona became a reality on October 9, 2010. And then I was lucky enough to experience it once again on October 8, 2011.

The NBC broadcast is where many people begin their journey and start to dream BIG. Here is the trailer for this year:

This year's broadcast will be played on December 10, 2011 1:30PM PST. Look for #1841 and in the meantime, dream on!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2011 Holidazzle Christmas Run!

The past two years I’ve hosted a Christmas run that I like to call the “Holidazzle.” The name was actually stolen from the Christmas parade that takes place in Minneapolis every year. As a Minnesota girl, I couldn’t resist using this title. It all started when my old roommate and I were talking about some of the Christmas light displays in our West Seattle neighborhood and I suggested we do a run to see them all. At first it was just going to be the two of us, but there were too many runner friends I wanted to invite. So, I mapped out a route that included a stop at a bar mid-way and my friends showed up with lights and cute costumes. I also baked up a storm and mixed together Christmas CD’s to give as party favors. It was a success from the very first shot of Irish whiskey at the Celtic Swell.

2010 was a bigger success and instead of just baking cookies, mixing hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, and having holiday beers on hand, I also cooked up a couple batches of chili (meat & veggie), mixed some salads, and invited more friends! I was in a new neighborhood, so I changed up the route and included a stop at Kerry Park in hopes that we’d gather around and sing “Silent Night.” (FYI – no such luck…maybe this year).

2011 is shaping up nicely. There is an awesome group of Seattle’s finest runners and triathletes (24 of us so far) who are excited to don their reindeer antlers and Santa hats while we run up to the top of Queen Anne for shots of tequila or whiskey. I limit the run to girls only, because I don’t know too many guys who like to dress up in Mariah Carey Santa suits (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about) or love Christmas music as much as I do. I have been baking since mid-November and started mixing the coveted Holidazzle Christmas CD starting in September (not joking).

Here is a list of cookies that I’m making*:

Butter cookies with cream cheese frosting – aka Jimmy’s Pink cookies from my favorite recipe book
Cocoa-Peppermint Patties
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Monster Cookies
Peanut Butter Kisses
Russian teacakes
Rice Krispie Treats
Mint Forgotten cookies
*yes, I realize the last two posts include cookie recipes…’tis the season for a winter coat.

And here is the list of songs on the Holidazzle CD mix: '
1.       The First Noel- Revive
2.       Silent Night- Wilson Philips
3.       Little Wood Guitar- Sugarland
4.       Christmas (Baby Please come Home) – DeathCab for Cutie
5.       All my Bells are Ringing- Lenka
6.       Angels We Have Heard on High- Third Day
7.       Home this Christmas- Justin Bieber (feat. The Band Perry) – don’t judge; this was part joke, part catchy tune
8.       Go Tell it on the Mountain- Little Big Town
9.       Please Come Home for Christmas- Jon bon Jovi
10.   A Child is Born- Rihanna
11.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Lady Antebellum
12.   I’ll be Home for Christmas- Josh Groban
13.   Gold and Green- Sugarland
14.   White Christmas- Otis Redding
15.   Frosty the Snowman- Fiona Apple
16.   Santa Baby- Pink Martini
17.   Christmas Lights- Coldplay
18.   Baby, It’s Cold Outside- The cast of Glee
19.   O Holy Night- Kerrie Roberts
20.   Winter Song- Sara Bareilles
21.   Christmases When You Were Mine- Taylor Swift
22.   Auld Lang Syne- Buddy
I highly recommend making this part of your holiday tradition; I like to host it on the Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year, perfect for admiring Christmas lights. I love the Holidazzle for many reasons. We all get in a good recovery run and nobody feels bad about eating Christmas cookies or missing a workout. It also combines several things that I enjoy in excess: friends, running, baking, and Christmas music (in no particular order). But I mostly love it because it’s a chance for me to see some of my closest friends during the busy holiday season and reflect on the year. When I first got into triathlon, I didn’t realize how many wonderful people I’d meet along the way who would continue to inspire, support, and encourage me. Thank you to this special group of friends who help me fall in love with this sport AND fall in love with life on a daily basis.

2011 Holidazzle pictures to come after 12/21! Until then, time to keep baking.

I love the my friends' favorite shoes look like this
The best part is Sam's Jewish

So funny that we ran into this kid both years

Up on the housetap reindeer paws, out jumps
good ol' Jenny Walls
I love these crazy girls

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Monster Cookies

First off, congratulations to everyone who finished the Seattle marathon or half marathon today. 2011 was another ugly year for this race. It has been windy and rainy since about 7:45 this morning. My hands and feet finally have some feeling back in them. It's a tough time of year when most people are finished with "A" races and recovering before hard training picks up again. And by most people, I'm referring to most triathletes I know. The Seattle course is also tough with a lot of hills. I've run the full 7 times; this was the first year (and maybe the last) running the half.

Secondly, I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes that will ease the pain of a disappointing or rainy day. Once you share these cookies with your family, friends, and co-workers, nobody will care about your race. Feel free to make these cookies anytime of year. I often bring them to morning swim workouts, BBQ's, etc. People go nuts about them. And since they are made with oats instead of flour, a lot of folks (including everyone on the gluten-free wave) think they're healthier. Enjoy!

The fruit bowl in the background is an old golfing trophy
from my grandma. Go grandma K!
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Monster Cookies 
About 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups creamy natural peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
About 1 cup chocolate candies or other mix-ins - I typically use a combination of peanut butter M&M's, regular M&M's, Reese's Pieces, walnuts, and milk chocolate chips, but there are lots of options (kind of depends on what looks good in the candy aisle).

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in baking soda, then oatmeal and mix-ins.
3. Drop onto cookie sheets with an ice cream scoop and flatten slightly. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until done. Do not over bake!
4. Remove from oven when slightly golden. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes until they have firmed up enough to remove to wire racks.

5. Share with your friends.
6. Accept compliments graciously.
7. Repeat anytime of year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

5 Ways I’ve Embraced Fall

5 ways I’ve embraced fall:

1.   Bring back the hoodie! Colder weather is the perfect chance for me to sport my favorite outfit - jeans and my Puke & Rally hoodie from Hood to Coast. Granted, I also wear this sweatshirt in the summer, but it comes out even more as the weather gets cold.

2.   Spending weekends at home. I was lucky enough to spend most of my summer weekends this year training in warmer weather. My friend Sydnie’s family has a house approximately 3 hours east that is perfect place to train without distractions. I was over there, even when she wasn’t, and able to log a ton of hot miles followed by naps in the sun, BBQs and early bedtimes. From early May to mid-September, I spent a total of 2 full weekends in Seattle and I raced Lake Stevens 70.3 during one of them. The rest of the summer was filled with friends’ weddings, races, and a trip to Vegas. But it’s good to be home. Seattle is a really wonderful place and it was time that I got back to my favorite local running routes, coffee shops, and Farmer’s markets.

3.  The 2011 race season had to end. It seems like I love my race calendar more and more every year. I have definitely shifted from racing anything within an hour radius to being more strategic based on my goals. 2011 was another great year! I set PR’s in all my distances for the third year in a row (amazing what a good coach will do) and it was hard to see the season end. But, I knew it had to. I spent about a month after Kona being really lazy and fairly gluttonous (for a triathlete! Hey - it’s relative.) And now I am focused on working on things (mainly my weaknesses) to get ready for 2012.

4.  Changes. Sometimes life is easy and everything is perfect. And sometimes life is easy and you think everything could be just about perfect, so you hold on to something bothering you instead of standing up for yourself. Fall was the perfect time for me to make a change and let go of what was bothering me. My friend shared a quote with me: “Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak; sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go.” Letting go was the best solution for me, even if it was the hardest.

5.  Seasonal reminders! Pumpkin spice lattes, fall colors…man, I love the fall colors, football games, tailgates…man, I love the tailgates, Thanksgiving, Halloween parties. And fall marathons – it has been great seeing all the runners on Lake Washington Blvd as they prepare for the Seattle marathon. Man, I love fall marathons. Here is my portrait of a perfect fall weekend: drinks with friends Friday night, a long run Saturday morning, tailgating and a football game Saturday afternoon/evening, and a ride on Sunday followed by Pumpkin spice lattes and seasonal cookies baked by yours truly. I was lucky enough to have more than one of these this year.
Even with the changes in fall and some sad news that I had to swallow, life is pretty great. I feel like the next year is going to be a tough one, on many levels. But I’m thankful to have a good job, a sport that I love, and friends and family who will be there for me no matter what. Happy Thanksgiving!

Best HTC team Ever!
Training weekend in Eastern WA
Finishing off my 2011 season in Kona

Monday, November 21, 2011

NYC Marathon Top 10 List

NYC Marathon – The night before I left for Boston last year I signed up for the ING NYC marathon on somewhat of a whim. I had to attain at least two goals in order to make it a success.
The first mile is super slow, but really cool

1 fitness goal: don’t get burned out during IM training
1 life goal: get new job that will let me take a couple days off for a non-world championship event the first part of the month.
I figured if I went into my summer training with the right mindset and trusted my coach the fitness goal would not be a problem. The life goal worked out great, as I was somewhat beyond my potential in my last job and needed an accounting gig that wasn’t necessarily tied to a fiscal calendar. By the end of October I was thoroughly enjoying some active recovery from Kona and had been in my new job for a couple months, so I was able to sneak away in November for a long weekend in the Big Apple.
I knew it would not be a PR weekend for me, but the chance to take part in a big city marathon and possibly pace my best friend to her personal record was something that I could not miss. Her goals would become my goals and if everything went according to plan we’d have a lot of fun running together.  
Sydnie and I flew out Friday morning settled into my aunt and uncle’s condo on Park Ave when we arrived in NYC. I’m lucky to have a big, generous family who conveniently happen to live or have lived in cities with cool races (NYC, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Madison, Mora, MN J). Friday and Saturday were spent doing a couple things around NYC, but mostly staying rested with our feet up. It was tempting to paint the town red, but since Syd and I are both pretty mellow most of the time, we are even more boring before races.
Race morning we were up at the crack to catch the midtown buses to Staten Island where we waited until it was time to line up in the starting corrals. As we settled into the runner’s village, one of the UPS volunteers let us camp in his truck until it was go time.
There isn’t a lot to report on our race. Even after returning to Seattle a lot of our friends have asked about NYC. We both come up pretty speechless because everything went so smoothly. The weather was perfect. The crowds were amazing. I did a good job pacing (1:39/1:39 splits J). And Sydnie did an incredible job smashing her PR.
In David Letterman style, here are my top 10 thoughts from running NYC:
1.   Do this race. I always tell people if you’re going to run one marathon in your life, make it NYC. The crowd is amazing and so is the course. Besides, anyone can sign up for it. You might roll the dice with the lottery, if you don’t meet the qualifying times, but it is certainly worth it. DO IT NOW. DO IT NOW. DO IT NOW. For me, Sunday wasn’t about chasing down a PR or any type of placing. But it was still just as important and special.
2.   Running with a friend can be WAY more fun. Sydnie later sent me this quote: “Never underestimate the miles you run and the people you run them with.” I completely agree.
3.   If a UPS driver offers his truck to stay warm in the athletes’ village, take full advantage. Sydnie, Jake, Julie, and I were nice and toasty until it was time to line up.
4.   42.195 kilometers = 26.219 miles. There were a bunch of people with shirts that had 42.195 on them. It seriously took until mile 16 for me to figure out what it meant. I knew a marathon was around 42.2k, but was confused by the exact number. At least my math mind kept busy for part of the race.
5.   Expect crowds. This applies to pre-race, the race course, spectators, and post-race. Although everything is extremely organized for 47 thousand people, it is still extremely crowded. That’s part of what makes NYCM special.
6.   Give your spectators some instruction. The only way I was able to see my cousin and her family in Brooklyn is because I had an idea of where they’d be and they knew what side of the road I’d be on. I spotted my fans around mile 8 in Brooklyn (one of the most electric parts of the course). I was able to sneak in a quick hug to the fam.
7.   Have a plan. If you typically have a race plan for marathons, go with it. But also be sure to have a plan pre-race and post-race.
8.   The longest part of the race will be after you cross the finish line. The walk through Central Park until you get to the UPS trucks carrying your morning clothes is much longer than you’d anticipate. Also, don’t plan on sitting or stretching out. The volunteers (as wonderful as they are) will keep you on your feet.
9.   Favorite parts of each borough: Staten Island – Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Brooklyn – mile 9 and the crowds along Lafayette, Queens – approaching the Queens borough Bridge, the Bronx – old school hip hop pumped up loud, Manhattan – 1st Ave and finishing in Central Park.
10. Although my focus has changed from running marathons to Ironman triathlon over the past few years, I’ll never forget my first true love. As an athlete, I have way more potential in triathlon, but 26.2 miles is still an incredible adventure. On November 6th I fell in love with the marathon all over again. I guess it’s no surprise. I do every time. 
Thank You, NYC.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It’s official: I’d rather get a face full of horse sh*t than miss workouts!

It’s official: I’d rather get a face full of horse sh*t than miss workouts!

Not even close to what I look like mt biking
On Sunday I crashed on my mountain bike. And by crash I mean took a real digger on a bridge that was the least technical part of our ride. Let me just say I’m dabbling in mountain biking and really liking it. It’s a good diversion from road riding and my TT bike. I’m just not very good at it. My friend Brent has taken me out twice. Two weeks ago he took me riding on a route that seemed like a green circle if it were a ski hill, but I still kinda sucked at it. After that he told me, “Dude, do that route 5 more times and I’ll take you real mountain biking.”
A little more what I look like,
but still a lot less cool
About mid-ride on Sunday (still a green circle) we were crossing a bridge that was covered in leaves. BOOM! He went down. Double BOOM! I went down. Same spot. Independent falls. I didn’t run into his wheel or ride over him. I got up, asked if he was alright, made sure my arm was attached, and then erupted in laughter. It was like “Home Alone” and some little brat put oil on the bridge to watch us wipe out. The rest of the day I took a nap to sleep off some of the trauma and did some home yoga. I had yoga on my schedule, but was NOT going to pay for it if I couldn’t do side crow or Warrior 1.

By Monday it was a struggle to put my hair in a ponytail, so I opted out of swimming and made a doctor’s appointment instead. No ligament tears or breaks, just a shoulder sprain and some bruising.
Later I got this message from Brent:

Real funny, horse
“I was telling my buddy how we apparently ran over a land mine while biking this weekend. I totally forgot that we were riding last year and he ate shit at exactly the same spot except he actually ate shit because his face hit horse poop that was on the bridge.  So all in all I think our fall was less tragic.”
When I was explaining this to Sydnie she asked, “Would you rather have a sprained shoulder or get a face full of horse shit?” I guess I’d rather face plant in horse poop. I’ve missed two swim workouts this week and I think I’ll be back in the water by tomorrow or Saturday. Still, it’s driving me nuts!! I realize a lot of people have injuries, and I’m no exception, but when it comes to the “would you rather?” game I’ll take horse crap over missed workouts any day.

I need to remember this during weeks when I’m 100% healthy. Give myself a different option: 4000 yards in the pool or a face full of horse crap. I’ll take swimming any day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Kona Race Report

Happy Iron-versary*!! I'm posting my RR from a month ago. Enjoy!
I worked so damn hard for that wristband.

* I meant to post this yesterday, but was still on East coast time from NYC and just got lazy last night.

Before I launch into all the details of my race in Kona, I first want to say how fortunate I am for my health that I can cover the 140.6 miles of an Ironman and also my lifestyle that I can take the time to train and enter events like Ironman. I know how hard I work and I also know the things I sacrifice, but if I ever feel the lows (and there are some) of a long season, I quickly remind myself that this is all “for fun,” not everyone has the opportunity to race an Ironman, and that I really, truly love this sport.

After a successful finish in Coeur d’Alene, I was given a break in training and racing. My workouts were planned to focus on recovery and maintain fitness before training for my next big event. I had a couple “fun” or “B race” events thrown in there – Seafair sprint and Lake Stevens 70.3. They were both enjoyable, but left me a little disappointed in my times and missing the “race ready” feeling I had in CdA. Still, looking back I know I needed the mid-season break. A season that starts with a marathon in January and ends with an Ironman in October is long and I knew my Kona build was going to be tough.

My Kona experience in 2010 was great and there isn’t anything I would have done differently. I had a very solid day and enjoyed every minute of the grueling race. But for 2011 I wanted more; I wanted to see where I stacked up against the competition.  After CdA Kainoa, very objectively, asked me what I wanted in Kona, “Do you want to race it?” My answer was most definitely yes, which I think she already knew. So she bumped up my swimming to 4 days a week and both my cycling and running miles were also up. My longest week of workouts topped out close to 30 hours, which included approximately 10 miles of swimming, 40 miles of running, and 350 miles biking. Other random statistics from that week: 3 beer showers (one before work – joking), 12 bananas, 13 hill repeats, too many gels to count, 3 long training days in 95+ degree heat, 1 full-time job, and zero mental breakdowns – success!

Bike Check
So with some solid training under my belt, I felt ready as I’d ever be for Kona. I flew out on Tuesday and got to take part in all the Ironman buzz and pre-race festivities. Sydnie flew over with me and we made sure to meet up with friends and teammates for swims off the pier, vendor parties (including the Specialized Shiv launch where they gave out free beer - I had one, and the slowtwitch party where we hung out with a few pros, guys from blueseventy, and engineers from Cervelo and Specialized), multiple stops at Lava Java, trips through the expo, and a pre-race dinner with the team. By Thursday and Friday I made sure to stay rested with my feet up and not get too caught up in the race week buzz.

Real Deal body marking #1841
Saturday morning, I was ready to go. I slept well Friday night and my alarm went off at 4am to make sure my breakfast could digest by 7. I walked down to the pier with Robin, Nina, and Sydnie, went through the motions of body marking, bathroom stops, pumping my bike tires, hugs from friends and teammates, and final words of advice from my coach. Kainoa told me to “stay strong all day,” which became part of my mantra: “strong all day, smart all day, tough all day.”

Swim – I started the swim just right of center about 4 rows back and lined up with Robin. We didn't want to start too far left, as there's typically a pull from the waves headed to shore. It was a good position for me and I started strong, despite the cluster that was at each buoy. I made it to the turn around in decent time, but it was tough coming back. I finished in a disappointing 1:17, but it turns out swim times were slower across the board Saturday morning. I didn't get down on myself and pressed on strong, smart, and tough.

T1 – I ran through the freshwater showers, into the changing tent, and out to my bike. Kara was there, so we exchanged smiles, words of encouragement, and looks of “glad that swim is over.” Kainoa was volunteering in transition and yelled some nice words as I was headed out in 3:11.

Bike – I made the quick loop through town on my way to the Queen K to head out toward the lava fields. I'm not a big fan of the Kona bike course. I like rides that are more hilly and technical, as they compliment my strengths on the bike and are generally more exciting. About 25 miles into the ride, my mind wandered in the monotony of the course and I was caught within the draft zone of another rider and penalized with a 4 minute drafting infraction. At first I was mad and disappointed in myself, as I certainly was not riding "smart." How could I let up during such an important race? But honestly, it allowed me to take some pressure off myself and was reminded that race plans aren't always perfectly executed (especially in Kona). I served my 4 minutes begrudgingly and watched my mph average slowly tick down. On the brightside, Joe and Kara both passed me in the penalty box and I ended up leap frogging with these two the rest of the ride.

The climb to Hawi wasn't as steep or windy as I remembered from 2010. But the winds picked up again as I headed back into town. I finished with a 5:43 bike. Without my penalty, I would have been within my expected time range, so I was feeling pretty good about that. I knew that if I remained strong and tough, I could still put together a race to be proud of.

T2 - I hopped off my bike and ran the perimeter of the pier. (Side note: I had no falls in transition this year compared to the 3 out of 4 tumbles I took during my 2010 IM races! Small victories). In the changing tent I quickly put on my socks, shoes, and visor. I made a stop in the bathroom, as I felt like my guts were about to expload from electrolytes. Luckily, it was all fluid, so I sprinted out of T2 in 4:19 and was ready to run.

Run – When I started the run I knew I wasn't in the position I wanted to be in off the bike. I knew I couldn't make up a lot of ground within such a tough field, but I still wanted to put together a strong run. So I tried to pace myself conservatively and finish within my planned range. It was unbelievable seeing so many friends and teammates from Seattle out on the run course. You truly make high 80s and humid much more pleasant. At mile 10 I was averaging around an 8 minute pace when I ran past Kainoa. She yelled to me, "Stay tough. You're passing a lot of people out there." It was true; I passed over 200 people on he run, unfortunately only 8 were within my age group.

Plenty of salt on my rump to illustrate heat and how much I sweat.
Just like last year mile 11 is where things got real. It's a long out and back stretch to the Natural Energy lab before heading back to the finish. Miles 12-17 were probably the hardest. However, it was really encouraging to have other friends and teammate out there racing. (Gerry, Dustin, Joe, Chris, Lilia, Kara, Robin, Jill, Whitney, Cindy B., Kathryn, Lisa, Cindy R., and Judy - I would have been so embarrased had you caught me at my worst. Knowing you were out there kept me motivated.) Just before the turn around in the Energy Lab, I saw Chris Whyte who yelled at me saying, "Catch me, Cathleen. I've been looking for you to catch me for the last 30 minutes." I knew I could NOT walk in front of Chris, so I made the turn and shuffled up the hill and past him just before heading back on the Queen K. Thank you, Chris, for yelling at me. :) At this point I had about 10k to go and was starting to feel a little stronger and tougher. Finally, I was turning right on Palani and past my friends and teammates toward the finish line. I even passed on more girl in my AG as I ran by my team.

And just like last year, when I made the final turn onto Ali’i tears filled my eyes and I didn’t want it to end. I definitely was ready for the pain throughout my body to subside, but I wasn’t quite ready for the season to be over. I guess that’s a sign of the joy I feel from this sport. But alas, my race and my season were both over. I crossed the line in 3:44 and ran into the arms of the first volunteer, with a total finish time of 10:53. This put me in 18th place for my age group. All my splits were ~5-10 minutes slower than planned, so I’m a little disappointed in my overall time. However, I’m proud of my fitness and I know I could not have been as strong, smart, or tough on race day without the hard training I put in over the past couple months. If things work out the way they did from 2010 to 2011, my fitness from this year will carry over into strong performances for 2012.
My 2011 season was not easy, but it has made me stronger both mentally and physically. It has been a year of learning and going beyond what I thought possible. Like Chrissie Wellington said in her victory speech:  “your limits might not be where you think that they are.” I am VERY excited to work even harder in 2012 and see where I am a year from now. I know I have A LOT of work to do to attain my goals for next year, but first, I'm focused on some recovery from this year.

Finally, thank you to ALL who have helped me this season:
*My team – whether it was swim sessions at the Bolin or Kutter Training Centers, the use of race wheels at Lake Stevens when mine were in the shop, encouragement in the water and on the road, or cheers in Kona, I feel very supported and proud to represent PauoleSport.

* My friends – those who are into triathlon and those who are not, you’ve helped me laugh, listened to me cry, and told me to toughen up and "believe" whenever I needed it.

*My bike team- especially the ladies from Team Group Health who encouraged me to join the Tuesday night hill ride group which improved my climbing and bike handling skills immensely.

*My coach – Kainoa, your Draconian updates to Training Peaks still scare the crap out of me some weeks, but your knowledge, oversight, care, and devotion to your athletes and team have made me the competitor I am today.

*Sydnie – you were the training partner and friend I relied on the most this year, always up for a weekday run, bringing me water during my long bricks, and making sure I made it safely out of the water after over-distance lake swims (with a hot Starbucks in hand!). You, Jenny, Alicia, Tesia, and the rest of the Seattle TriBabes made this season 140.6 times more fun!

*My MOM – thank you for coming out to Kona to watch me race and being there to “peel me off the pavement,” just in case, and also being near the phone to listen to training updates during weeks when, “I just want to sleep.”

*And mostly my DAD – I dedicated this season to you, not because you love triathlon, but because you’ve taught me so much over the years, like how to never, ever give up. I’ve thought of you on many a training session.

The successes of this year can’t only be measured in race finishes and PRs. Although it’s nice to shave minutes here and there and stand on top of a podium, the real joy I find in this sport is through the lifestyle it has given me, the relationships I’ve made, and the lessons I’ve learned. Congratulations to all the finishers in Kona this year. Best of luck with your off seasons and be prepared to make every year even better. Aloha and mahalo.

Sydnie, my mom, and I cheersing a great season with Mai Tai's at Jackie Rey's!