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