Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Day

On this date, in 2003, I was in a dark little bar, listening to a local favorite band called Liquid Sand with a group of friends, celebrating our beautiful friend Jenn's birthday.  I had been hanging out with Charlie for a little over a month, as friends, and was just on the verge of giving up on hope of it evolving into anything more.  At the end of the night, he finally made his move...and well, it was one of my happiest days ever.

Eight years later, I came home today to my cute little family with my daily greeting from my friendly Shitzu, Gizzy, covered in BURRS! 

Apparently, when Charlie came home on lunch break, our sweet guy, left 3 fresh presents around the house.  While Charlie was cleaning up his mess, he let the dog out to finish up any remaining business.

This is where his adventure began.

When the time came where it was time for Gizmo to come back in, the dog was no where to be found.  Sometimes he comes to a patch of driveway at the front of the house, Charlie walks to the front of the house.  Yet, no Giz to be found.

Charlie starts sweating bullets when he calls and calls and Gizmo does not respond.

A flash of white fur catches his eye, and there is Gizzy is down by the river, stuck in a bush full of sticker burrs.  He can not move and Charlie, now frustrated with his antics, insists that since he got himself into that mess, then he must get himself out. Grudgingly, Gizzy makes his way out of the bush.

He was quite the sight covered in thorny balls.  I spent an 45 minutes picking out those stickers when I got home from work.  And surprisingly, he did not snap at me once.  I felt like I was pulling out thorns out of a lions paw.  Gizzy just looked so grateful.  I just hope he learned his lesson.

You see, Charlie had no idea what he signed up for 8 years ago with that first kiss...and of course, you know, the adventures will never end. 

I leave for California in 3 days.  I have signed up to run in The Big Sur marathon.  I don't know what I was thinking, to run a marathon only 2 weeks after the MS 150.  The most I have ever run is 16 miles.  Am I scared? could say that.  At the same time...I just read an article about the Hoyt team...the 70 year old father who pushes his 49 year old quadriplegic son in the Boston marathon and in Ironmans.  And the documentary I just saw about the middle aged father who ran from Minnesota to Atlanta (My Run).  And I am complaining about a measly 26.2 miles?  I will suck it up.

I am half watching the "Voice" on TV.  Isn't amazing, how a voice can just send chills down the spine?  I am typing away on my blog, but some singers make me stop typing mid word from just sheer emotion.

I have a weakness for voices.  Milo Hamilton carries me back in time.  I was speechless the day I met Gene Peterson, the voice of the Houston Rockets, back in the day.  Today, on 94.5, they had a listener win DJ for the day (a.k.a "Doug for a Day") and I was all about his voice.  I could listen to that dude all day.  I wanted to tell the producer, sorry man, you gotta hire this beautiful voice.  Oh, and if you are a man...please do not attempt to sing like in a woman's voice.  It is as bad as nails on a chalkboard to me.  Seriously.

I will run far away.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MS 150 Reflection

The MS150 was an amazing experience.

I started out the morning stressed.  It was chilly.  I brought my arm booties and my leg warmers but I knew the weather was forecasted to be gorgeous.  So it was either be warm for the first few minutes and then be the hunchback on the bike for the rest of my 8 hour day...or suck it up and be cold.

I sucked it up.

And I am glad I did.  It was chilly, but I warmed up quickly.  There was tons of bikes.  So I went slow and easy.  We skipped the first rest stop, so that we could lose most the crowd.  So imagine my surprise when rest stop number 2 was Belville, TX.  We were already at the lunch stop. 

Continental had a tent with wraps and goodies.  We sat under the shade of the tree.  We had only gone 27 miles so we were feeling pretty good. We still had 4 more rest stops to go.

LaGrange was a beautiful sight.  We rolled in at about 4pm.  After that it was quite the whirlwind.  We found our amazing friend Norma, who volunteered to go with us, carry our gear, set up our sleeping area and be our rock. After showers and dinner, Norma and I went to check out the fairgrounds.

It was like a mini city.  There were tents everywhere.  The Mattress Firm tent had brought in mattresses with the box frames for all their riders.  We were in awe.  The sun was setting so we walked toward the finish line and watched the last riders roll hand.  They had the wheelchair bikes that you pedal by hand.  The riders had faces grimaced in pain but full of pride.  We cheered at the top of our lungs.  It was a magical moment as the sun slowly hid behind the horizon.

Morning arrived and I woke up with extreme anxiety.  I envisioned going through the Bastrop State Park and flying down a hill over 30 mph with the hundreds of crazy riders.  An accident just waiting to happen.  I knew, if I crashed, or anyone crashed in front of me...I was done.  It didn't help that the guy next to us described hills called "The Widowmaker" and "Killer" hill.  Sigh.

I moved  so slowly.  People had been up since 3:45am to find a place in line.  The race does not start until 7am and I am no hurry to start.  We let all the people rush most the crowd is long gone.  Once we get rolling, I start to relax, and I start to have fun. 

The park is gorgeous.  The smell of pine saturated my senses.  I was flying.  Hill after hill...I did not walk one.  Next thing I knew, I was out of the park.  Alive and happy.  Definitely not a bad as I worked it up in my head. 

As I sat under the tent in Bastrop, enjoying my cantelope, I turned to the 3 guys sitting next me  and prepared myself to share a common bond.  I asked them, "Was it just me, or was that park not nearly so tough as everyone said it would be?" 

I swear the music came to a screeching halt and they looked at me like I had 2 heads. 

They replied, "Uh no, that was the worst park ever...we had to walk at least 4 hills!!!"  They groaned in pain.

I lowered my head and did not say another word.  But inside, I was doing the happy dance.

Austin was only 30 miles away.  I put my head down and hammered.  I just wanted it to be over with at that point.  My shoulders hurt but my legs were strong.  Victory was so close I could taste it.  And when I finally the turned the corner and saw the took everything I had to hold back the tears.


It was an breathtaking moment, and one I will never forget.

After the finish, I turned around to wait for my friend and co-worker to cross the finish line.  His body gave him fits on the last stretch.  It was a proud moment to watch him cross after all the training, trials and tribulations up until this point. 

A rare beautiful fleeting moment that will live a lifetime in my heart. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Re-cap

Quick little update.

I am on day 6 of the 2nd Vegan Challenge.  It is going much easier this time around.  I am enjoying my food choices and dont feel deprived.  Plus, I lost 5 pounds already.  Although I know it is mostly water weight, it is still a huge incentive to keep going.

I ran the Davy Crockett Bear Chase half marathon this weekend and LOVED it.  It was quite a drive, but well worth it.  As soon as I found out we weren't wearing timing chips, I immediately decided that I was not going to try and push myself to beat my P.R, especially since I was not going to have an official chip time posted on the internet forever (in case I got amnesia or never know!).  Shoot, I was going to enjoy this run and not worry about the pace or my time.

I was hoping to just enjoy the scenery...and that I did.

It was gorgeous with tall pines and wildflowers.  I was surrounded by nature.  Here is the road leading up to the entrance to the Davy Crockett National Forrest.

The race ended on the high school track...where I was able to hang out with my buddies under the bleachers. They gave us cute little finisher bears...with our gun time finishing number. 

Today was the Space Race.  We were supposed to ride 40 miles...but I think we may have missed a turn or they miscalculated the distance.  Anyway, it turned out to be a blessing since it was my friend's first real ride on her triathlon bike.  40 miles may have been a little too much for the first go round.  

Regardless, we all had a blast.  It was a fun way to celebrate a birthday. A well organized ride, and I was happy to see it benefited the Ronald McDonald House.  Here we are at a rest stop...

Okay, I am off to bed. Weekend over...another crazy work week begins.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kemah Sprint Triathlon Race Report (RR)

So the plan was to leave the night before...but sometimes life just happens while you are making plans.  So we ended up set to leave in the morning.

I had set my alarm for 4:20 am...but it did not go off.  I have a new phone, and apparently, I forgot to set the day for Saturday.  Thankfully, I woke up to Charlie's alarm, but right off the bat, we were 15 minutes behind my target departure time.

5:02 am we are on our way, but we had to turn around for Charlie's wallet.  And then again for sunglasses.

Now, it was a race against the clock.  Transition was set to close at 6:30am.  The transition area is where you go in to a roped off area and set up all the items you need for all three sports.  Underneath your racked bike, you get a small patch of real estate.  Here is where the triathlete will lay out the helmet, running shoes, racing number, visor, sunglasses, and any other items needed to get you through the race on a perfectly folded towel. All the items are all organized in meticulous order to maximize your time in between sports.

By the time we parked at 6:15am and walked to the entrance, I had 2 minutes to rack my bike and organize my bag of goodies.  After I was body marked, I rushed in, threw my bike on the rack and dumped my bag out on a towel.  So much for the meticulous organizing part. 

Next up was the wetsuit ordeal.  I sprayed my self down with Body Glide, put Target bags shopping on my feet and started to climb in.  So far so good...thank goodness I had Charlie with me to lift the suit pass my bootie.  After the final tug, it was then that I realized the zipper was in the FRONT.

It was backwards.  Ugh.

I was not about to go through that torture again.  So, I decided to swallow my pride and sport the backwards look...and hopefully, maybe, no one will notice.

Oh but they did notice.  And then they talked to me all slow like, and patted me on the back and told me I was going to be just great. All I could do is just nod and smile.

Nod and smile.

So the 500 meter swim went...well, not so great.

It was more of an adjustment than I thought to use the wet suit during a swim. I am sure it didnt help that it was backwards.

Yes, it keeps you warm and yes, you are more buoyant.  That part is nice.

But it still takes some getting used to. I should of had time to practice with it, but I have been so busy.  Time has not been my luxury.  So I floundered around a bit trying to find a rhythm.   Okay, so maybe it was more than a bit. When I finally found my groove, I only had about 100 yards to go.

The bike was my time to shine. 12.5 miles.

As you may already know, I have been riding almost every weekend since January.  The only bad thing is, I forgot my clip-in cycling shoes. Ugh.  So although I was averaging 20-22mph, I can not help but wonder what I would have averaged if I was able to use both sets of leg muscles instead of one.  Oh well, this was my dress rehearsal for the rest of the season, right?

The 3.1 mile run was just okay.  It took me a good mile and a half to find my legs.  Therefore, this will be the training season to focus on more brick workouts.  That is when you do a workout back to back.  Note to self: I definitely need to add running after my bike workouts.

Overall it was a nice race.  This particular race production company puts on very well organized triathlon races, and this one was no different.  Great music, nice volunteers, and plenty of water and food afterwards.  Oh yes, and they gave out medals, a great tech shirt and a very nice race packet.

What I would change?  Wow, where do I begin?  Well, to start with I will set a back up alarm.  Leave earlier.  Have my bike already attached to my car. Bring my spin shoes. Put my wet suit on correctly.  Have my Hammer Gel on my body during the bike ride.  Bring back the Camel bak instead of water bottles (way easier to drink out of when hauling butt).  Wear sunglasses that I brought even when it is cloudy to prevent bug in eye (yes, I know, major duh).  I will be sure to remember my Garmin watch sitting on charger.  Eat a better breakfast.  Eat a better dinner.  Get more sleep.  Prepare my recovery drink in advance.

Hmmm....I think that about covers it.

Sigh. Yeah.  As I was a dress rehearsal for my upcoming season.

Oh yes, I would like to send a huge thank you to my hubby Charlie...who I tried, multiple times, to convince he did not have get up at 4:30am to drive me over an hour away to cheer me from the sidelines.

He did it anyway, and was my saving grace, especially for keeping my spirits up when things did not go as I planned.

Thank you, Charlie, I am forever grateful.

My times have been posted.  Significant improvement from last year...and I ran faster on the run than I thought but averaged slower on the bike than I thought.  Go figure!  And I did not come dead last in the swim (wiping brow).  And I am proud to say that I have officially moved out of the bottom of the pecking order (I am no longer in the overall bottom 5 in my age group...woo-hoo!)

Swim: 18:08
   T1: 6:17 dead last...but only because I wasn't meticulously organized. :)
Bike: 40:20 (18.9 average pace)
   T2: 1:24
Run: 31:19 (10:06 Pace)

And now...the Kodak moments.

Here are the backward wetsuit photos (and yes, that is extra crotch space and not an extra long torso).

My beautiful support group at the finish line

Friday, April 1, 2011

6 Month Countdown to Half Ironman

I signed up for Half Ironman Austin yesterday.

This means I have to put the nose to the grind stone for the next six months.

Despite the hard work ahead of me, this goal excites me.

Last year at this time, I could not swim a single lap of freestyle.  Not even a half lap.  I could breast stroke and doggy paddle but that was the extent of my swimming skills.  I wanted to do a triathlon, but I could not swim worth a damn.

I signed up for swim lessons at the YMCA in June.  It was for beginners who could not even float.  I could float, but I could not breathe.  I felt like I was wasting my time.

Frustrated, I dropped out after 3 lessons; although, I paid for 10.

Then, by fate, I was introduced to a triathlon coach.  She taught me more in a half hour than the 3 hours I had experienced at the YMCA.

Finally, I could swim half a lap. Wahoo!  This was huge.  I finally had something to practice.

And practice, I did.

I practiced 3-5 times a week and swam my first sprint triathlon in a pool.  I did okay.  I was so nervous that I doggy paddled and breast stroked for part of the race.  I could only freestyle in short bursts before I was gasping for air.  However, I was definitely better than what I was just a month prior to that triathlon.

Regardless of the clumsy swim, I enjoyed this triathlon and was officially hooked on doing more.

My next sprint triathlon was about a month later in an open lake.  I hyperventilated as soon as I discovered I could not see.  I was back to ground zero.  I drove home that day in tears.

I was starting to feel that I was just not destined to be a swimmer.

Yet, funny part is, I could not give up.

Thankfully, each sprint triathlon experience was a small improvement.

Yet sadly, even with 5 triathlons under my belt, I still do not quite yet feel like a true swimmer.

BUT I have finally gotten to the point that with enough practice,  I believe I will get there.

And with the help of my new Masters swim class at the YMCA, I have a bit more confidence that I can and will swim 1.2 miles.

Tomorrow, I have my first sprint triathlon of 2011 in Kemah, TX.  It will be my first time to wear a wet suit.  This will be an interesting experience.  Just trying it on last night was a workout in itself!

And so begins the six month journey of experimenting with nutrition, waking up early for masters and experimenting with different proper training regimens.  I will start off next week with another 21-day Vegan Challenge on Monday.  I would like to shed at least 10 pounds before the big day and I need to stop skipping those Masters classes.  Sigh...yeah...I definitely have a few vices I would like to drop in the process so this goal will bring about such positive changes in my life.  It will be a tough adventure ahead, but when I reach the end of my journey, it will be such a sweet victory.  Here goes nothing...