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What Two Triathletes Get Each Other for Christmas...

First of all, happy holidays everyone! We were busy preparing for and going to six (yes I did say six) Christmases, so the posting is a little late.

So what do two triathletes get each other for Christmas? Well, since I got Tony this past summer, there were no presents under the tree for me this year. He's still in the entry way of our house, though (I can't bear to send him out to our garage), so I could just look over and think of all of the great rides we'll have this year.

I got Steve a wetsuit for his upcoming races this year. He still has to model it for me. I also got him a huge tub of Carbo-Pro. It won't take long for the two of us to use it up! The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training was wrapped up and under the tree. We both can use a little help in that department! Oh, and I got him an ornament, something that sings and dances. Overall, it was an awesome Christmas. I've already got ideas for tri Valentine's Day presents:)

Below is our failed attempt at getting our cats to dress up for Christmas. Steve posted our "good" picture.

You can tell they're thrilled. Yes, those are footed pajamas. Kids' size XL. I think they are making kids' clothes bigger than they used to. I haven't worn that size since 5th grade.

Happy New Year everyone!
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A Fork in the Road

In an effort to get myself revved up again for the upcoming race season, I've been finalizing my race schedule for the next year. I should have all of the kinks worked out tonight because I'm meeting with my other residents to negotiate our weekend schedule after Jan 1st. When I was looking up the dates for my prospective races, I discovered that 2007's Twin Cities Marathon will fall on my birthday. Hmm...

After this past year, I swore that a marathon 3 weeks after Ironman just wasn't worth it. Now I'm just wondering... I'd like to get your opinion, so I will present the pros and cons.

- The 2007 marathon will be 4 weeks after Ironman. This year's was only 3 weeks post IM.
- It's on my birthday - what a fun way to celebrate! I ran my second marathon on my 21st birthday, and it was a blast.
- There's a good chance that my sister Steph will be signing up for the first time this year. I'd love to be able to run it with her.
- Being a week later next year may mean a little cooler weather. 50 degrees is much more agreeable to me than 70+.
-Presumably, I won't have pneumonia next year. It certainly complicated things this year.
- Streaks! This would be my 8th one in a row.
- Steve's all for it. He already told me he thinks I should do it.
- Who knows what the family planning situation will be in 2008. I may not be in a state to run marathons...

- Running the marathon on top of IM this past year greatly extended my need for recovery time.
- Um, this year wasn't exactly a PR.
- I would run the race just because I could and may take the spot away from someone whose dream it is to someday run a marathon.

I dunno. I'm just putting my thoughts down for now. I won't actually have to decide until the beginning of May this spring. Any thoughts out there?
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A Lesson From One of the Cats

Someday, I will post pictures. My cats are hilarious. I'm usually more of a dog person. I like the idea of having a full time running partner who's always excited to go however far I want to. In the meantime, I'm perfectly happy with my cats that fetch (seriously!), greet us at the door, love their bellies scratched, dig through the garbage, and drink from the toilet (we try to keep the seat closed to avoid that last one). Steve and I joke that we've been training them to be dogs since they were babies. I think it has worked.

The other day when I got home from work, I turned on the lights and sat on the couch for a second. Ella the Cat fell asleep sitting up with her head under the lampshade. I looked over and realized that I know exactly how she feels right now. I am craving sunlight and warmth. There are only four days total per month when I get to see the sun. Lately I get into work before the sun comes up and leave well after it has set. I have thought for a long time that I get some component of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The other day, I looked the symptoms up on the internet. They are:

1. A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- check. Chocolate has become my new best friend.

2. Weight gain
- unfortunately, yes

3. A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
? not really sure on this one. I don't think so...

4. A drop in energy level
- double check. I can barely muster up the energy to turn on the TV in the evenings, much less get in a good workout.

5. Fatigue
- Check. I know I'm busy, but I just seem to be so much more tired than normal. I've had my thyroid and hemoglobin tested, so I don't think it's anything easily explainable.

6. A tendency to oversleep
- I can't get out of bed in the morning. The only thing that gets me out of bed is promising myself that I can take a nap when I get home in the evening.

7. Difficulty concentrating
- My mind is always racing, so I don't know if I'd notice.

8. Irritability
- Check.

10. Avoidance of social situations
- It's hard to tell if I'm avoiding them or if I just truly don't have time for many social activities right now because of my work commitments.

I don't really feel depressed. I just don't have any energy. I don't feel very ironmanish right now since I can barely get off the couch.

I have been getting these symptoms every year for at least the last 10 years, but they don't usually get too bad until January or February. They seem to be early this year, maybe because of my work schedule? I know that come March and April, everything will warm up, the sun will stick around longer, and everything will be back to normal. I'll be back on my bike outside, I can wear a single layer of clothes on my runs (it's going to be highs in the 20s today - brr!), and it won't be long until I'm swimming outside again. The freckles on my face will explode like they do every year, and my pasty white complexion will become a little less pasty.

I'm not sweating all this too much yet. I still have plenty of time to be increasing my base workouts before IM training officially starts back. I just need need to find a little M-O-T-I-V-A-T-I-O-N...
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Late Race Report

One week ago today, I ran a 5K. With 8000 other people. Yes, I said 8000. We weren't exactly expecting there to be so many people, and it turned out to be more of an obstacle course than a race. I PR'd for slowest race ever, with a time of around 29 minutes, but it was a blast. I ran with my sister Steph and Steve, who decided to dress up for the occasion. He wrote a great account of it on his blog. My highlights:

1. Seeing ALL those people. There were dogs, strollers, kids, families - you name it, they were running the race.

2. I totally biffed it at around mile 1. I couldn't see very far ahead of me and didn't notice a raised part of the sidewalk until it was too late. Several people commented on my instant tuck and roll. They actually described my fall as "graceful". There was no blood. Maybe those pilates classes are working!

3. Steve's crazy costume. I came out of the bathroom at one point, and he had made, like, 30 friends. Everyone was pointing and commenting. It was fun to watch.

4. The weather was beautiful. We don't get many 40 degree mornings in late November in Minnesota. It was a nice surprise.

5. The finish line was 1/2 block after we had to stop. We couldn't cross it until minutes later because so many people were filing in. It gave us an opportunity for Steve to take his picture with the giant turkey.

6. Eating all those calories back and then some. Yum! I love pumpkin pie.
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Three Days of Work in Review

Saturday: Today, I Love My Job.

The days leading up to Saturday were pretty tough for me at work. I hadn't had days like these since I was down in the trauma ICU. In the last couple of months, I have had a lot of patients. Some get better, some get worse, and some don't make it. For the most part, I've been OK with all of it, knowing that my team and I are doing the best we can for each patient. By the end of the day Thursday, I was pretty convinced that I was going to need very large doses of Prozac very soon. It was just a rough day. One of my patients died just a little over 12 hours after he came in, and even though he looked very peaceful, it was just really sad. A couple more of them got even sicker, and now they may not make it. When you've been following them for weeks to months, it's really hard not to get attached sometimes, and I start to get a little protective. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I just know that it means I care.

The patients I took care of Saturday on my other team were tons of fun, and they all seemed to have smiles on their faces. I just kept thinking how beautiful they all were. I was done with work in 8 hours and was home in time for a nap before church. Everything went pretty smoothly.

Sunday: Wow, This is One Crazy Job Sometimes.

My alarm clock went off around 3:10 AM, but I couldn't seem to drag myself out of bed. I finally managed to do it and still made it into work by 4:20 or so. I should still have around 3 hours and 40 minutes to get all of my work done before rounds. I checked the new patients, and there were only 3 admits from the night before. I worked them up and went upstairs to look at their charts. I no more than get to the first patient when a Code Blue was called to another unit. I stopped to think for a second. Technically, that unit is not my responsibility, but there are no other clinical pharmacists in the hospital at 5:20 AM. I didn't give it a second thought;I decided to go. It lasted about one-half hour. The patient didn't make it, even though we did everything we could. Wow. What a way to wake yourself up in the morning! My sympathetic nervous system was revved into very high gear. I should be OK, I thought. I still have plenty of time to work up my patients before rounds. I was cutting it close, but I made it back to my office in time to check for labs and get all of my work done. I logged back into the computer only to find that there were two more admits. Arrrggg! Well, kick into overdrive. You've got to get them done. I raced through checking labs, ran back upstairs to look at the new patients' charts, and made my list of med changes for the medical residents. Thankfully, the attending physician was a little late. I wrote down my last change just as he was rounding the corner. We finished rounds over 3 hours later. I wolfed down a fruit roll-up and ran to the pharmacy 15 minutes late to relive some of the inpatient pharmacists for their lunch. Funny. I had already put in an 8 hour shift at this point and had not yet eaten lunch myself.

I put in my hour of checking orders, and just as I was finishing up, they called another Code Blue in the intensive care unit. I ran up to see of my co-pharmacy resident needed any help. The patient was having breathing trouble, and she didn't need any medications. I went back to my office to finish looking at my patients for the day. I quickly realized that I wasn't going to make it a couple more hours without some lunch, so I ran over to the caf only to realize that they were mostly closed. I settled for a bag of Doritos and two cartons of chocolate milk. Two hours later, I was on my way home; it was a 12 hour day.

When I got home, I was basically nonfunctional. I took a 1 1/2 hour nap, watched TV for another 1.5 hours, vacuumed my house, and crashed into bed at 10 PM. My WONDERFUL husband offered to give me a backrub, then I passed out.

Workouts this weekend? Unless you count running to codes and walking all over the hospital, zero. None.

Monday: hopefully Back on Track

I woke up this morning at 4:30 AM with a terrible feeling that I'd overslept. A quick mental check revealed that it was Monday, and I could sleep in until 5. I did weekend sign off, and now I'm back in my office. Today is a project day, and a much needed one at that. My big residency project is hanging over my head like a huge black cloud. I'm relieved to have some time to devote to it. Tonight, I try my hand at Pilates again. I'll probably lift weights afterward to make myself feel better. Thursday is my first 5K in over a 1.5 years. More on that later :)
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Grace Is Not In My Vocabulary

Note: before any of you worry any further, I am pleased to inform you that the Ironman Wisconsin bracelet officially came off after my last post. It was ready. I was ready.

Now onto today's topic... I have never described myself as graceful. It in no way suits me. Strong, yes. Powerful, yes. Fit, yes. Able to endure, yes. Graceful, coordinated, etc, not so much. I am built more like a softball player than a dancer or a distance runner. It's OK. I learned to accept that a long time ago. No offence intended to any softball players out there. I was one for 6 years before I discovered track. I'd still love to find a summer league sometime.

This month, my goal is just to start getting back into shape. Nothing crazy, just feeling relatively fit again, building up a base for IM training. It will be starting before I know it. So this month, I decided to try something new. I signed up for a pilates class. It's once a week for 6 weeks. I feel completely out of place. I've got a fairly decent core already, but I figured this would challenge me and loosen me up at the same time. I am enjoying it for the most part, but it's not the type of workout I'm used to. I threw up during my first spinning class. That's when I knew it was for me. Pilates in a studio is just so much different than doing it watching a DVD. There's no one in my living room staring at me and telling me that I'm doing it wrong. There's no mirror in my living room to show me that I'm doing it wrong. The dancer from my undergrad does not have a mat next to me in my living room to show me what it should look like. Sure this is her second session, but she looks like she's been at this for years. No, this will not be an easy class for me, and that's exactly why I need to be there.
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A Great Day

So I lied a little. The bracelet didn't actually come off until today. I got home from work a little late last night, Steve and I watched America's Next Top Model ( a very guilty pleasure) while putting away laundry, and then I helped him pack for his trip to New York City for his big photo convention.

This morning, I woke up bright and early (3:40 to be exact) to drop Steve off at the airport and then came home for a 1 hour nap before heading to work. You'd think that with an alarm clock going off that early, I'd be crabby. For some reason, it was just the opposite today. Work went really well, and for the first time in a long time, we were not swamped with patients. It gave me some extra time to spend teaching my medical residents and pharmacy student, which I love doing. I even managed to squeeze in a noon talk by one of the physicians about her recent time in Darfur working for Doctors Without Borders. It was really interesting from both the political/world view as well as the medical view.

This afternoon, I vowed that I would be able to cut off my bracelet, so I went to a spinning class at my local Y. Dan, my instructor, just finished IMMoo this fall, too, and he always offers fairly challenging classes. He laughs just like Eddie Murphy in the Beverly Hills Cop movies. I can't explain it. You'd have to just know what I mean. Anyway, it was nice to see some familiar faces from all of the classes I took last winter. Alas, I still do not have an indoor trainer. I honestly don't know that I want one anytime soon. Class actually went pretty well. I took it a bit easy. No use going crazy on my first day back. This probably won't make sense, but the happy place I imagined during class, which used to be a flat part on my favorite trail, has turned into my 3 hardest parts of the IM bike ride. Maybe it's because those are the ones most ingrained into my memory. Maybe I was just telling myself that even if this were a difficult class, I've certainly gotten through worse, or maybe it just means that I'm rested, and I'm back - ready for the next adventure.
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Today, the Bracelet Comes Off

OK. You're probably all going to think this is weird. I am still wearing my "all access pass" bracelet from Ironman, which was nearly 2 months ago. At first, I couldn't bear to take it off, sort of like the smile on my face. It was a conversation starter, and it reminded me of what I had just accomplished. Soon the Ford Ironman Wisconsin letters started to fade as did the 2126 written on it. I couldn't say why. I just couldn't bring myself to cut it off. The past couple of weeks helped me to realize its significance. Its initial purpose was to remind me of what I had just accomplished, then it was to remind myself that even if I didn't finish the marathon in record time, I was still an Ironman. Lately, it has meant that Ironman status was attained this year, and it's the goal for next year too. In order to accomplish this goal, I need a fresh start. So... I decided that I would not work out until November 1st. It's probably an arbitrary day, and I admit I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but my OCD needed me to pick a specific date, and the first of the month seemed like a good choice. It's been just over 4 weeks since my marathon. Up until today, the bracelet has reminded me of why I am resting and why I NEED to rest to be able to start training again for next year. Today, I get to cut it off (just in time for frigid Minnesota weather!) I'm not going to go all out right away. I may start with an easy 3 mile run. I also want to get back into spinning and swimming. I've even thought about taking a pilates class at my local Y. We'll see. I'm not going to get back into shape overnight. For now, I just want to enjoy being active again.

So what have I been filling my time with lately? Well, I've been putting in my usual 55-60 hour weeks at work, and my residency project has been calling for me too. Today I got to pass off the on-call pager that I've had to carry for the last 2 weeks. Whew! No more worrying it will go off at 4 AM. I also sewed 2 quilts, one for my good friends Jess and Al who just got married and one more to go on Steve's and my bed. That makes 4 quilts that cover me at night. I know. I have a problem. I love not being able to move under their weight. I have also been serving as a big sister football fan for my high school and college brothers who play. The season is wrapping up now, but it's been so fun to be able to watch them. The pros have nothing on high school and D3 college. The tickets are cheaper, the seats are better, and you know the players personally. Along with all the games has come lots of family time, which has been really fun. I had to give some of that up during my training over the summer. Finally, Steve and I are barely, just barely, starting too look for a house. We don't anticipate having to move for at least a couple of months yet, which is probably good because I won't be making a full salary until July or so. I'll keep you posted how getting back into shape goes!
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Picture Time!

Alright, folks. My personal photographer got a couple of minutes to get all of my pics up, so here they are. First, the new pony tail. I'm sure you all have been anxiously awaiting to see how short it really is.

OK, so it's not THAT short, but it used to fall halfway down my back, and now some of it barely fits up!

Marathon Pics:

Steve and I just before the start. Yes that is my lucky sweatshirt. Yes, I do wear it before all of my races. Yes, I do wash it.

Me in the middle of one of the hardest races ever.

I'm on the right. You can see the masses of people down at the finish line. I can't believe how many people were still down there by the time I got there!

My sister Steph and me, just after finishing the slowest marathon of my life (see post below to find out why). We got asked on Sat if we were twins or "just sisters." Just sisters? Has this lady ever had a sister? They're amazing, especially mine!

Well, there you have it. I didn't want to bore you with all of the photos, especially since Steve posted some on his blog a few weeks back, but I figured I'd show you what I've been up to. What else have I been up to? Well, it seems not much. I have decided to take most of the month of October off. Ironman + marathon + being sick left my body feeling like it REALLY needed a break, and with more IM goals coming up, I want to start out fresh. So, I'm working my 60 hours a week and playing Suzie Homemaker for a while. I cleaned my house and now have been working on a couple of quilts to keep me company while I catch some of the new fall shows on the tube. Boy to I feel lazy, but I know it will probably pay off later. My clothes all thankfully still fit, but I'm sure looking forward to starting up again really soon!
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Happy Belated Birthday!

... to me! My 26th birthday was on Saturday, but I had to work this weekend, so this post is a little late. It's funny. Usually around the time of my birthday, I get just a tiny bit sad. It's stupid, I know, but it's happened since I turned 20. I guess sad is the wrong word. It's more like a very real awareness that I'm now officially a year older. This year is different.

I can't quite say what it is. Maybe it's the fact that they had to write "26" on the back of my right calf for my duathlon last spring to signify my age at the end of the year. That was the first time I faced another year older. Maybe it's because I managed to pack a lot into 25: graduating from pharmacy school, starting my residency, celebrating my 3 year wedding anniversary, finishing my seventh marathon, and becoming an Ironman. It's going to be a hard year to top!

I celebrated my birthday by getting up at 3 am for work. After I put in a 9 hour day, I caught the end of my brother Matt's football game. My mom, two sisters, Steve, Matt, and his girlfriend went to church and then grilled at my house. Steph had made an angel food cake - my favorite! Yum!

Pics to come soon from the marathon and my new haircut. My personal photographer has been quite busy. Apparently photographing the cover for The New York Times' magazine is more important than getting my blog photos up:) Check his story on his photo blog.

I went inline skating tonight. I only went 7 or 8 miles, but it felt great. It was my first workout since the marathon. My lungs still aren't up to par. I think I've got a bit of bronchitis yet. It's getting better, though. I know I just need to be patient, but that's not something I'm good at. I love inline skating, but usually it's my respite from running. Tri training is so varied that I don't really need a respite day, so I haven't been out in a while. The weather is that wonderful crisp feeling, and the leaves are gorgeous. It was the kind of evening that makes you just grateful for being out there, part of it.
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I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty...

I have taken the whole week off so far. I walk a lot at work but haven't even thought about working out. I've been filling my time with my ginormous "to do" list and have been very successful at checking things off. Bills? Check. Phone calls? Mostly check. House cleaned? It's a never ending battle, but it's getting checked off. Quality time with the family? Working on getting it in. Quality time with the cats? Every day. I've also managed to get sucked in to some of this season's new TV shows, although I'm weaning myself off for fear of getting addicted. That leaves one major thing to check off the list - Sarah improvements. That's right, folks. I have been neglecting myself the last couple of weeks. I finally got around to giving myself a mani and pedi on Tuesday, and last night, I cut my hair for the first time since May! Just to give you an idea how long it's been, I had my bike serviced twice and my car serviced a couple of times as well in that time. By the time they were done at the salon, it looked like a small poodle had been massacred on the floor. I should have cut it before IM. The extra weight off could have meant a faster bike split:) My ponytail has gone from mid-back to barely there. Think how much room I'll have under my swim cap now!
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Run Report - The Race That Almost Wasn't

This recap could also be called "Recent Ironman + Recent Pneumonia + Heat Does Not = Marathon PR." I said it wouldn't be pretty, and boy was I right. Let's just say that it was slower than my Ironman marathon split, and it felt much much worse. I think I underestimated how much time it would take for me to fully recover from IM. I got sore much earlier than usual, and although the cough was better, it was still there. My abs are quite sore from coughing while I was running.

When I decided yesterday that I would try the race today, I resolved that I would not go for time. For the first time in 7 years, this was not an A race for me. Even though my time was terrible, I'm actually happy with my performance. I started and finished it, and that was all I was going for.

The crowd was great as usual. I can't believe how many people come out to cheer. The weather was warm, about 80 degrees, and it was sunny the whole day - not my preferred race weather but nice for the race I was looking to have. I've done the course enough times to know it well, and I just tried to have fun and keep a smile on my face. The finisher shirts are sweet! Brooks brand long sleeved performance wear. It'll come in handy very soon as the weather cools. Glad I stuck it out to get it :)

My cheering section was awesome, as usual. My sis Steph, Steve, and my sister-in-law and her husband were there to cheer me on at the start. My brother Matt waited a long time to see me pass his college, and Maddy was there to cheer me on twice at the course. I can't tell you how great they all were. To top it off, Steve biked much of the course and met me at at least 10 checkpoints. He was so supportive all day. I'm not sure whether it was support or concern (probably a little of both), but I was sure glad to have him!

So... what's next? Well, for now, I'm just going to rest. I'll probably try a few easy workouts next week, maybe later this week if I'm feeling great. I've got a couple of sore spots that I'll need to nurse back. There are a lot of improvements I'd like to make on the way I trained for IM last year, and I'll probably be sitting down to figure out a pseudo game plan soon.

Pics from the marathon to come soon!
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Gonna Give it a Try

This morning, I decided. I have been going back and forth all week, so I haven't posted since I had no idea what I'd be doing tomorrow. I still haven't completely eradicated my cold. I went for a run on Monday, and when I couldn't even make it 3 miles without coughing out both of my lungs, I decided to decide on Thurs. Thursday came and went, and I still hadn't decided. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I wouldn't do it. I went down to the expo just in case and decided that I'm gonna give it a go. It likely won't be pretty.

I don't even know if I will finish, but I've never skipped a start line. I just can't bring myself to miss this one. I am feeling a little better. The antibiotics have started to kick in. I'm not going for time, and for the first time since my first marathon, I just want to finish. I know that if I can pull this off, it will be a blast. It is their anniversary celebration, and there will be tons of excitement to keep me occupied for 4+ hours.

I'll give you a report, good or bad, but for now, number 1855 will be towing the line at 8 am!
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Pity Party

So I just finished up with my first weekend day of work. Just a little after 12:30 doesn't seem like a long day on the surface, until you realize that I had to get here at 4 AM. Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person? For the next 9 months, I will work 12 days on, 2 days off, and for the next 3 months, my hours will be 4 AM until whenever I get all of my work done. Yesterday I looked down at the 2 pagers I have to carry on weekends. Wow. I must be REALLY important, I thought. I felt pretty cool. It lasted about 2 seconds. When I went for my swim last night, I realized halfway through that I had left my pagers at home. I panicked for the rest of the swim and hoped that there weren't any emergencies. Then I realized that the 10 mile run I was hoping to do tomorrow won't be possible as I have to be near a phone the whole time, and I REFUSE to be on a treadmill for the 90+ minutes. Maybe just 7 or 8 on Monday?

I just finished my 3rd box of Kleenex in one week. That nasty cold just won't let up. I'm starting to look like Rudolph, and it's not even December yet. My cough is thick and juicy, and as far as I know, steaks are the only thing that are supposed to have that description. I wouldn't be so annoyed if I didn't have a Marathon to run in 8 short days. Mental note: must clear up lungs by next Sunday... Arrg!

Ahhhh, deep breath. OK. Sorry. I think that's all out of my system. Now, for a 3 hour nap.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 5 - The Future

So... Here it goes. After today, I will be officially signed up for IM Moo again next year. You may have noticed that I was a little reluctant to come right out and say it. I'll tell you the reason. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had told Steve that the two of us could do this together. One more thing to do before we finally settle down (for the record, I don't know if we'll ever fully settle down). Well, the night of IM, Steve had to go back so he could teach his morning class. The plan was that I would sign up on-site the next morning, and he would sign up online. Well, he had some computer problems, and in 45 minutes, the race was sold out. My heart sank when he called my cell on my drive back to tell me he didn't make it in. I felt so guilty. Since I had signed up with the intention of us doing it together, I thought about backing out. I didn't think it would be fair for me to get to do it again with him sitting on the sidelines. Good news! He officially got into the community fund yesterday. Let the journey begin. We will be at the start line together next year:)

Two weeks. The Twin Cities Marathon is in two weeks. I have run 5 miles since the Ironman. I'm not really worried. I ran a full marathon just over a week ago. The plan is to get in some cross training and maybe a decent bike ride this Sunday now that my buns are healing. I'm not out to PR this year. I just signed up to give me something to look forward to and to be part of their 25th anniversary.

On the immediate agenda - get rid of this nasty cold!!! They say that after a big event like a marathon (or Ironman), wedding, finals, etc, you are more likely to get sick. I guess I'm their poster child right now. I started to get a sore throat Sunday. I went to work yesterday but blew my nose the whole time despite some pretty strong cold medications. I came home last night and realized that I was running a fever of 101. This is normally pretty high, but considering my body temp is normally lower than the average, this is "I shouldn't have gone to work today" high. I called in today. My fever is coming down, and my body aches are subsiding, but I still don't feel up to par, and I don't need to be spreading this nastiness to my coworkers. I'm such a wimp when it comes to being sick. It's pretty pathetic. I'm just so used to being healthy. Being knocked down every once in a while is probably good for me. It helps me to appreciate my health instead of taking it for granted.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 4 - The Aftermath

When I got back to my hotel room Sunday night, I couldn't wait to hop in the jacuzzi tub. Sorry folks, I wasn't going for an ice bath. My body already felt like it had soaked in an ice bath for the entire day. I was chilly, and a hot bath was the only way I was going to get rid of it. I know, I know. It's only going to encourage inflammation if you soak in a hot tub, but I went from teeth chattering to cozy warm in about 5 minutes. Did I mention that I loved that room? When I went to peel off my soaked clothes, I was surprised to see my feet. You see, folks, I am normally quite proud of my feet. I rarely get blisters, I haven't lost a toenail in 7 marathons, and for how much abuse I give them, they still look relatively presentable. Tonight, though, they looked like death. They were soaked at the end of the bike. I put fresh dry shoes and socks on at the start of the run and had managed to keep them dry for most of it, but after it got dark, I couldn't see the puddles and stepped in a couple of big ones. My feet were squishy and soaked by the end of the run. When I went to peel off my shoes and socks, this is what I found. (Wil, if you're reading this, look away.)

My feet looked like death. Shriveled doesn't even begin to describe them. Remember that blister I thought I had? Yeah, you can see that mother on my baby toe. It had popped a long time ago.

I finished my bath, put on some warm pajamas, and Steph and Steve helped me into bed. I kissed them both goodbye, and they drove home (Steve had to teach an 8:30 class, and Steph had to work).

The next morning, I could barely make my way across the king-sized bed to shut off the alarm clock. My whole body felt like one painful arthritic joint. I managed to pack up my stuff and bend down just far enough to get everything off of the floor. My friends Maddy and Jess met me at the hotel, and we walked back to the Terrace one last time. We picked up the race results, walked around for a bit, and headed home. I may have signed up for next year's race. I'll talk about that later. Jess has an amazing back seat. I snuggled up with my pillow and a blanket and slept the entire 4 hours home.

I was stiff all day Monday, but by Tuesday, I was walking just fine. I even made it up and down steps with relative ease. I started to feel as if I really hadn't worked hard enough. I actually hurt for longer after my half IM.

One pain stayed with me all week, though. It was the pain in my ass. Seriously. I have biked 100 miles several times before. I have biked in the rain before. Unfortunately, I had never biked 100+ miles entirely in the rain before. I have never had to use body glide or Chamois Butter with my bike shorts, but apparently I should have on Sunday. I debated on whether I should even tell you about this, much less show you a picture, but since Steve posted a back pic of me heading up the helix in my swim suit at the race, there's really nothing you haven't seen already. So, here it goes...

Yes, these are large oozing scabs. I didn't feel them too much on the run, but I sure felt them in the bath tub that night. I am still feeling them. They only hurt when I sit, stand, or walk. Today, a full week later, I am able to sit down without extreme pain. I had to wear Steve's boxers for a full 4 days before finally being able to wear my own underwear again. Sorry. I know that this is beyond TMI, but it's part of my experience, and I will sure learn from it.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 3 - An Addendum

Hooray! My home internet is again working! I finished my post in a hurry Friday (um, it still took over 2 hours), and when I got home, I realized that there were some pretty key parts that I failed to mention.

I had a smile on may face nearly the whole day. It kind of reminded me of my wedding day. I was smiling the whole time, not just when there was a camera pointed at me. The cameras I didn't see still managed to catch a smile. This was mostly due to all of the energy on the course, my cheering section, and all of the other bloggers that I knew were out there with me.

Steve and I the morning of the race. He was out in the rain the whole day to cheer me on.

Steph, Matt, and me before the race. Steph was there the whole day, too, and Matt was there for as long as he could be.

My friends Jess and Maddy were great! They seemed to be at every corner, and they had enthusiasm all day. Even when I wasn't around, they were cheering for all of the other athletes out on the course. They walked to the expo with me Monday, and they drove me home later that day. Um, yeah. I slept the ENTIRE 4 hours home. They carried my bags into my house, and they were off. More angels.

Stu! He was great. I needed him so much at the top of that hill, and he was there with the enthusiasm of a 6 year old at a birthday party. I can't wait to see him cross the finish line again next year.

OMG! Robby B - you and Kris were definitely my other angels of the day! I can't even count how many times I saw you throughout the day: before the start of the swim, at the end of the swim, at the top of the hills on the bike, on the run, and then at the finish. You were there the whole day. I feel so bad that I didn't give you a hug at the finish. You certainly deserved one! I somehow managed to black out most of the finish line. It's the one thing I would have changed about the day. I would have savored the finish more.

All of the other bloggers, Chris, Xt4, TriTeacher, TriSara Tops, Wil, and Tri Al. The one good thing about being a turtle is that you know that most everybody is in front of you. I got a glimpse of Xt4 on the run but didn't get to shout at him. I saw Al, too. He looked great, and those thighs are just as impressive in person. Wil, wow. I don't know what to say girl. I was thinking about you the whole time out there. You are such a strong person. Your strength is more visible than ever right now as you prepare for next year. Sara, I didn't get to see you the whole day, but your smiling face at the end was priceless. Chris. You are a rockstar man. Here's to another PR next year!
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IM Moo Recap, Part 2

OK folks, sorry to keep you waiting. My initial plan was to talk about the pre-race stuff then every day give you an update on at least one component of the race. My plan has already failed. I have been getting up at 4:30 AM for my current rotation, and it's really leaving me exhausted. As I've told you before, I'm not a morning person. Also, my internet at home seems to have crapped out, so I am seriously behind on everyone's posts. Sorry everybody! I'll try to catch up soon. For now, I have put on my finisher shirt and have decided to lock myself in my local coffee shop (free wireless!) until it closes. I'll see how far I get.

So... Where was I? Oh yeah. The alarm clock went off. I hopped out of bed and brought my clothes into the bathroom to change. I wanted to let Steve, Steph, and Matt sleep a few more minutes if possible. I then heated up some water using the room's coffee pot and made my traditional apple cinnamon oatmeal, two packets. I eat it before every race, no matter how big or small. Soon the rest of the room was up too, and we were on our way. On the five block walk, I reiterated how glad I was that we weren't driving. It stressed me out just looking at all of the cars trying to figure out where to go! First, we headed to the body marking area. It wasn't too long before I was covered with the number 2126.

Next I dropped my special needs bags, and we headed into the terrace. I went back into the T1 area and put 2 extra shirts into my bag. I had no idea how much I would need those later. Then the 4 of us just hid in a corner and talked and rested. I shimmied into my wetsuit (I'm getting pretty good at it!), and after a few minutes, we left the Terrace. I kissed everybody goodbye and started walking down the helix with the masses. It was then that I noticed that it was sprinkling. Heh, I thought. Well, it will just sprinkle for the swim, and the rest of the day will be dry and overcast. After all, the recent weather predictions have said cloudy with a 30% chance of rain, and this morning, the forecast predicted no rain.

It took about a full 15 minutes to actually get into the water. I wasn't in yet when they sang the National Anthem. There were lots more people behind me, though, so I wasn't really worried. I just kept pushing on, and soon I was swimming out to the pack. My plan was to start toward the back. I knew I would be getting lapped before I was even out of the water. I remember the guy on the loudspeaker shouting over the loudspeaker, "Who's going to be an Ironman today?" We all roared. Then, the cannon. It was started. I learned from my half IM that I needed to stay really calm here and not lose it. I’ve been practicing calm, smooth strokes, and it worked. There were no moments of panic. I worked my way in toward the buoys. I had to slow up a couple of times because if mini traffic jams, but for the most part, we kept moving. I think the whole mass of us was one big draft, because when we rounded the first big buoy, I was 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

There was the usual washing machine, and this was one of the worst ones I’ve ever been in. I tried to keep my cool, and I mostly succeeded. I managed to avoid most major catastrophes. I did get kicked in the jaw and shoulder once and in the nose another time. Those were the worst ones. It also really hurt when someone stabbed me between the toes with a fingernail. I just kept reminding myself that I was doing it to others too and that none of it was malicious. My friend TriSara Tops, though was actually shoved. That one was not an accident. I guess the “record number of participants” and the crazy waves just got to some people out there. That brings me to the waves. Wow, am I glad I did that half IM in July. These waves were just like those. They were huge swells. I actually swallowed less water this time around, though, and the buoys were easier to sight. My goal to get out of the water was 1:50. I came out in 1:55:34. I was only worried a couple of times that I wouldn’t make it out in 2:20. Turns out I was fine.

Good thing I had watched the video at Stu’s or I would have had no idea what I was supposed to do next. I started to peel off my wetsuit, and the strippers shouted that I should head down to the end of the line. I laid on my back, held on my bikini bottom, and a very nice lady had my wetsuit off in 1 second flat. I started to jog up to the helix and heard my brother Matt shouting my name. I looked up to see Steph and Steve, too. They cheered me all the way into T1, and Steve called Maddy and Jess, who met me at the top.

When I got into the Terrace, the volunteers shouted 2126, and in no time I had my bag of warm, dry gear. Another very nice lady helped me get all of my stuff on. Since it was still raining when I got into the building, I decided to put my black cotton shirt on underneath my jersey. I put the IM Arizona shirt I’d bought the day before on as my top layer. The plan was to shed it after a few miles, famous last words. I couldn’t help but think how much technical apparel I had sitting at home in my drawer, and here I was wearing two cotton shirts with my bike jersey. Oh well. I refused to let it get to me. In 9:37, I was out of T1. RobbyB had told us that it was a long way between the changing area and the bike pickup and that it would be prudent not to put on our shoes until we actually got to our bike, so that’s what I did. My feet got a little wet, but at least I didn’t slip. 2126! Someone shouted. The bike volunteers kept shouting 2126! until I reached Louise. She looked ready. I strapped my shoes, and the two of us ran side by side to the mounting area. We were off in no time. It was still drizzling. I looked down on my bike to see a note in my Bento Box. It was from TriAl. He had written little notes of good luck to all of us bloggers. What a guy!

I watched out for the bottle launchers that Stu, Robby B, and Thomps warned us about at WIBA. Mine stayed in just fine, but the guy ahead of me was having a heck of a time trying to keep his in place. I kept with my plan and stayed in my small chain ring all the way out to Verona. I knew that I could be pushing harder, but I refused to let myself. There was plenty of room for that later. The wind was on my back, and I felt great. People kept telling me that I looked great all through the first loop, and I believed them. I felt great. Two potty breaks. I guess I was keeping myself plenty hydrated.

That Arizona shirt? I didn’t take it off until about mile 38. I knew that Jess and Maddy would be on the course at about mile 40, and I wanted to see if I would be able to go without it. It was soaked at that point anyway. Sure enough, Maddy and Jess were there at 42 to cheer me on. They are such amazing cheerers! I didn’t want to get in trouble for accepting “outside help,” so I told them that if I just happened to throw down my shirt, and they just happened to pick it up, we shouldn’t get in any trouble:) At mile 55 or so, lots of people were already heading back to finish. I had been passed by the pros long before that point, and it just made me realize how very far I had to go.

I hit my demons at mile 80. My legs were getting a little tired. The weather was miserable. I still had 32 bike miles plus a marathon to go. I got a little choked up at that point; I was feeling very, very sorry for myself. That’s when I started to pray. I mentioned on my last post that I now think Ironman has changed me. For me, it seems to have been a spiritual journey of sorts. I’ve always gone to church, but lately, I’ve been searching for more. I started to pray out loud. I prayed for God to give me strength. I asked Him to give me comfort, and asked Him to help me get to that finish line. I then started talking to my Grandma Aggie. I never told you this, but I have always thought that I would do this race for her. She died of a heart attack 5 years ago. She was only 64 years old. She was my hero in every sense of the word. My bike jersey was to honor her. It was red (the red dress campaign is to raise awareness for women’s heart disease), and it had a big white flower on the front, one of her passions. I told her that I knew she was with me and asked her to give me comfort and to stay with me. Call it what you will, but in about 2 seconds, I was filled with strength, and I knew I could do it.

Maddy and Jess were there again about mile 84, and they later told me that I didn’t look quite as good as the first time around. After the first loop, I was 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff, and I knew that I would need that time in case I had a bike malfunction. The second loop was much slower. I still made it up the nasty hills OK, but I didn’t feel nearly as good, and I knew I was losing time. Also, I knew I was in for a 20 mph headwind on the 15 miles back to Madison. Six or 7 miles from town, I saw a familiar biker. I had given this guy 1 of my 2 spare tubes about 15 miles back. He was on his 5th flat at that point. I had told him that hopefully Karma would come back to me. Now he was on his sixth flat, and he told me that he was just going to ride it in. There was one slow nasty hill left, and when I finally got to the top of it, Stu was there. What energy that guy has! I needed him then, and he really pulled through. My fingers were numb. I was having trouble shifting, and I knew that if I got a flat, there was no way I would be able to change it. Luckily, that Karma did come back to me. I stayed flat-free, and when I saw Stu again about 2 miles from the bike finish, I shouted, “Stu, I’m gonna make it!” I just hoped that Wil and TriSara Tops were going to make it too. I had passed Wil at Special needs, and I had seen a bike that kind of looked like Sara’s with a flat a couple of miles back (I later found out that it wasn’t her). I got back to the Terrace, and I immediately saw Steph’s red fleece. I waved. The guy at the top of the helix said that he was surprised that I was still smiling. I told him that the bike was finally over, 8:07:39.

T2: I was so cold and shaking, and there were half-naked people all over trying to warm up. All I could think about at the end of the bike was how I was going to be able to button up the last resort bra and where I was going to find a garbage bag. The clothes I packed in my T2 bag weren’t going to cut it. It was still raining. Again, my prayers were answered. I peeled off all of my wet clothes. Man did that feel good! My fears were confirmed. I had no dexterity left in my fingers. The LRB is great for preventing bra burn, but its 11 front hooks were impossible for my fingercicles. Can you believe that the volunteer lady did it for me?!? Now that’s what I call above and beyond the call of duty. Just as I was finishing putting on my gloriously dry clothes, another volunteer came in with garbage bags. She told us that there were lots of people being treated for hypothermia and that we needed to take one and wear it for a few miles to warm up. Miracle number 3 of the day. I took 2 glasses of warm water, chugged them, and ran out the door. I was out of T2 in 10:17.

It was a little hard to start the run right next to the finish chute seeing people running in and knowing that I had an entire marathon to run yet. The bag was working. It didn’t take me long to warm up, and I started on a Cliff Bar. It wasn’t very appetizing, but I knew that I needed more fuel. I got into a very slow steady rhythm and started talking with some of the other runners. Now, I know that some of you out there don’t appreciate the talkers, but I wasn’t out to win the thing, and I was done being lonely. I hooked up with a couple of runners for a mile here and there, but we went our separate ways when they stopped to walk. I stopped for my 3rd (7th if you count the water, sorry guys) potty break of the day at around mile 5. At mile 6, I felt great. Around mile 9, I found Lisa. She was my 4th miracle of the day. We ran the last 17 miles together. We weren’t fast, but we only walked during water stops and up 2 hills. I can’t even tell you how many people we passed. The numbers from the race report indicate that it was over 300. We had never met before, but we were running the same pace. This was here first IM too, but her husband had already done 2. We talked off and on. Sometimes it was about life; sometimes it was just small talk. Mostly, though, we just ran; silently supporting each other. I could have run this thing by myself. Mentally, I was tough enough to do it, and my early AM training runs taught me to run even though my body felt like crap. It was nice not to have to, though. Running with Lisa kept me from feeling sorry for myself and kept me from thinking about the fact that my right little toe had transformed into one gigantic blister.

The nutrition was a little hard to choke down. I consumed 3 Cliff Bars on the run, and the last one didn’t go down easy. It was only mile 16, though, and I knew that I would still need a lot of calories to get through the last 10.2 miles. I took cola here and there, and the broth was amazing. Somehow, the giant conglomeration of weird food settled my stomach, and slowly the nausea went away. At mile 22, we passed a girl that had collapsed, and they were bringing in the ambulance. I hope she was OK. I knew that even though I only had 4 more miles to go, this race was far from over. I remember writing that I wouldn’t KNOW that I would be Ironman until I was 50 feet from the finish line. This was mostly true. It was actually about 2 blocks.

I really don’t have much to say about the run. It went by really fast, and it was the first time all day that I never worried about cutoffs. I felt strong for most of it. Two blocks from the finish, a guy next to us started to pick it up. Lisa commented that she didn’t have that much left. When I told her that I did, she instructed me to go for it. I replied that I just didn’t feel right about finishing without her, but she encouraged me to go, so I did.

I picked it up and felt like a million bucks when I crossed the finish line. I remember raising my hands up when I hit the tape, but the rest was a blur. Total run time: 5:30:13. Total finish time: 15:53:18. Lisa was right behind me. I gave her a hug, thanked her one more time, and never saw her again. A catcher grabbed on to me, but I didn’t need her. I felt the strongest I had all day. I was made of iron.
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IM MOO Recap, Part 1

Wow. Where do I start telling this story? My head is still spinning from this weekend, and I've been really anxious to start getting all of it down. Please bear with me. I think it's going to take several days. Today, I think I'll just talk about the moments leading up to Sunday.

Steve and I finished packing late Thursday evening. I still had to work Thurs, but my brain seemed to be focused on much different things than dialysis patients. It was probably one of the most nonproductive days I have ever put in as a pharmacist. We woke up early Friday morning. Steve packed up the car, and I made sure that everything was ready for us to leave (our usual responsibilities). We were out the door by about 8:15 and four hours later, we were there. I got to sleep for a couple of hours on the way out, and then I repaid the favor by taking the wheel for the rest of the way. We headed straight for the Terrace. I had read Xt4's blog the night before, and as usual, it was very helpful. We found a parking meter that was close and headed in the general direction of Ironman Central. An hour and a half later, I had my numbers, my instructions, and excitement brewing in my stomach. I hadn't really thought much about Ironman earlier that week. I think it's a coping mechanism I've developed. I just push it out of my mind and choose to ignore it. Sometimes I ignore it until the morning before the race. Friday, I let myself believe that it was getting close. Steve made the mistake of telling me early while we were standing in line that he had been thinking for the last month or so that he might like to sign up for this next year. Well, anyone who knows me knows that it takes very little to get me excited about others doing triathlons or any race or athletic event for that matter. I instantly started planning how we could do it together next year and encouraged him that he could do it. As crazy as it sounds, the last couple of weeks during taper, the thoughts of doing IM again soon had started to creep into my mind. There were so many things that I would do differently "next time." More on this later.

The only downside of the exhibit: I had my body fat tested at a free stand. The last time I had it tested, it was 16.1%. That was 4 years ago. Let's just say that it isn't that anymore. I was a little disheartened for a couple of seconds knowing this is the most I've ever worked out in my life, and somehow, I've actually put on a little chub. Wait. Step back. Reassess. It is normal for you body to change composition at this time in your life. You have not lifted weights in months. Last time was underwater weighing, and that is the most exact method. You are ready to do this race. I pushed all negative thoughts out of my head. There is no need for them now. There was never a need for them.

We checked into our hotel and headed out to Stu's. He had made a feast for us perfect for embarking on the journey that we were about to undertake. He has a beautiful house and an even more beautiful family. It was great to see some of the WIBA bloggers again and meet some new ones too. Thomps, Stu, Wil, Siren, TriSara Tops, Xt4, Robby B, Chris from Chivalry, and a few others were there. We laughed, talked, ate, and watched last year's IM Moo on TV. We stopped to take a photo before xt4 and I headed to the athlete's meeting.

On our way into town, x and I had a great talk. It's funny how we had just met face to face for the first time, but I feel like I've known him for years. We talked about life and about Ironman. I told him that I was a little concerned, that I didn't feel like IM training had changed me that much. He and Wil seem to have experienced life-changing transformations through their training. I told him that I didn't know if it was good because I had found myself beforehand or if it was bad because I was somehow missing something from this whole experience. I think now, though, that it did change me. I'll explain later.

Saturday, Steve and I checked into our "close" hotel room. It was a little more expensive per night, but it was walking distance to the course, and on race morning, I hate dealing with traffic. It's the number one stressor for me. I don't like trying to find parking. I don't like worrying about time. I don't like dealing with stop lights. You get the picture. Well, as it turned out, the Hotel Ruby Marie was perfect. It had a glorious king-sized bed with amazing blankets. It didn't take me long to fall in love with it.

Soon the rest of the gang arrived. My AWESOME friends Jess and Maddy brought my sister Steph along. We went to church and then headed out for supper. Now I normally drink a lot of water when I'm out to eat, but the night before IM, I was on a mission. The waiter quickly realized that I'd be a "chronic refiller" and adapted to the situation.

The food was amazing, and once we were stuffed, we headed our separate ways for the night. Steve and I walked down to shore and looked at the swim course one more time. We strolled beside the water hand in hand for a while thinking and talking about the next day's race. It was a moment forever etched into my memory. Back at the hotel, Steph crashed on our floor, and an hour or so later, my brother Matt rolled into town.

I slept like a rock that night, and when the alarm went off the next morning, I was ready.
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Today, I woke up an Ironman. I finished last night in 15:53:18.
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For Those of You Wondering...

My race number will be 2126 on Sunday. You can get updates at by punching my number in. Hopefully some stellar times will be popping up on your screen when you do.
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Support Crew

Ironman is not a task you take on alone. Although it can sometimes seem very lonely out there on long swims/bike rides/runs, I couldn't be here right now if it weren't for a whole lot of people.

I first have to mention Steve. I can't even believe how supportive he's been through all of this training. Heck, he even came on a 100 mile ride with me on hills! I think he tells more people than I do that I'll be on the Ironman course Sept. 10. The best part is, I can tell how proud he is when he tells them.

I next have to thank my families. Steve and I haven't made as many trips home this summer as usual, and I know that it has been a little hard for both of our parents (especially the moms). My weekends have just been too full to fit in the weekend jaunts. My sister Steph has had to put up with my constant IM banter for the past few months, and now that she's living with us, that has been amplified ten times over. She and my brother Matt are probably coming out this weekend, and I can't even tell you how much that means to me. My sister Anne has also been very supportive. I know she would come out to watch if she could. She has been there to cheer at so many of my other races. My dad is the most surprising to me. He's usually the strong silent type, but every time we see each other or talk on the phone lately, he asks how my training is going. I know that's his way of saying he's proud of me.

My pharmacy school friends have been so patient. They've put up with seeing me a whole lot less lately, and they've even scheduled some of our get-togethers around my workout schedule so I could still get to see them.

My undergrad friends have been the best. They are the ones who encouraged me to sign up for this race when I told them I was thinking about it. A couple of them are even coming out to watch me. They are taking off work and paying for a hotel just to watch me. When I was talking with my friend Maddy a couple of weeks ago, I told her that I was a little nervous. What if they come all the way out to watch, and for some reason I don't finish? I would feel terrible. She gave me the best response. She told me that they wanted to come out to cheer me on, that they were excited to be out there, and that if I don't finish, I'll need my friends more than ever. These are the same friends that have come to newly all of my marathons and have even run a couple with me. They're just plain amazing people.

My job has been really great, too. Although it hasn't been easy to try and balance work and training, my preceptors have been really understanding that my job is not the only thing on my mind lately.

Finally, I want to thank everybody I've met out in the blogosphere. This journey has been so much more rewarding because of all of the people I've met out here. Whether you are a fellow IM in training, fellow athlete, or just someone who stops by to read my blog now and then, you have helped me to get through so many workouts this year.
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Name Change

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

(Reinhold Neibuhr, 1926)

It's an old prayer. I can't remember the first time I saw or heard it, but I’m pretty sure it's on the walls in houses of half the grandmas I know. I thought of it on one of my last long rides a couple of weeks ago. Seven + hours by yourself offers plenty of time for thinking. I think these words have really hit home for me lately. The truth is, I haven't had "the wisdom to know the difference" in the last couple of weeks/months. I keep thinking of all of the things that could happen to prohibit me from finishing this race. I could crash my bike between now and then and break something. I could catch a nasty case of gastroenteritis from one of my patients. I could swim completely off course during the swim and miss the cutoff. There could be a 40 mph headwind during the bike, leading me to miss the bike cutoff. I could get hit by a car during the bike. I could (you fill in the blank; of thought of EVERYTHING). Most of these things, of course, are out of my control.

I know that there are a few things I could have done differently this year. I could have eaten healthier. I could have made another trip to ride the course. I could have started my training earlier. Overall, though, I think I've pretty much done my part. I've trained on hills. I've trained in the wind. I've trained in the heat. I've trained in the rain. I've trained on the course. I've practiced swimming in the greenest lake I could find. I've practiced my nutrition. I've practiced with my race clothing. I've tried to get enough sleep. I've (for the most part) followed the plan. I'm ready.

I've been wanting to change my name since Stu named me in early July. That was the first time I actually felt confident that I will finish what I've started here. I've just been waiting to do it until I felt more certain. I have been waiting for just one more bike ride; just one more swim to let me know that this deal is sealed. Although I'm feeling better and better about it with each day, I still don't feel sure that the title of Ironman will be mine. I just don't know it yet. The truth is, I'm not the type of person who just "knows" things. There will probably be a little part of me that won't know that I'm going to finish the race until I'm 10 feet from the finish line. It's just the way that I am.

So today, I am mustering up the courage to change one more thing. After today, I will be Pharmie, and I will be ready.
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An Apology

It has come to my attention that my arms are not happy with the way they were portrayed on my last post. They informed me that they have been working very hard the last few months. They help to propel me when I am swimming. They steer my bike and help to keep me in aero, and where would I be without arms to pump when I am running up hills?

My arms reminded me that just because they have gotten smaller does not mean that they are flabby lunch lady arms. they still have definition. they are still srong. so, to do them justice, here is a picture...

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Jelly Doughnuts

I think taper is now officially hitting me. I'm still tired, mind you, but I have felt like a jelly-filled doughnut the last couple of days. I stepped on the scale this morning and realized that I've actually lost another pound or two. I can't remember the last time I weighed myself, and this is probably a daily fluctuation, but I have to admit that I was surprised.

In reading out in the blogosphere, it seems that most of my fellow IM in training had set some sort of weight goal. I didn't. I never started training with the intention to lose weight. I figured that I would slim down a bit as a byproduct of all of the exercise. Now, just 1 1/2 weeks from IM, I can officially say I am 4 to 6 pounds lighter than I was during the winter. This isn't saying much. One forty-three (141 this morning) is my usual weight for this time of year, give or take a pound or two. In fact, I've been at the same weight since I was a freshman in undergrad. I do think that I'm a little slimmer than usual, though. My arms bulk up really easily, and since I haven't been lifting weights, they're definitely smaller. My waist is more defined. My chest is smaller (sorry Steve!). Unfortunately, my pants aren't much looser, but my buns and legs are much more toned. Yup, I'm a well-oiled machine ready for those hills. I just have to keep remembering this in the upcoming week when I feel like a Bismark.
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A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 2

I've hinted on my last couple of posts that I had another thing to add to this list. Everyone, meet Tony.

If I had to give my road bike a name, her name would be Louise (no offense to anyone out there named Louise). It just seems to fit her. She as an OK personality. She's a little on the heavy side, but she's very pretty. I don't know that I would really say we're friends. We're more like business partners. We just work together to get the job done. It seems like most of the time, I am doing most of the work.

Last Saturday, I met Tony. His full name is Tony Tequilo (as in Quintana Roo). I never meant for us to meet. I went into the tri store to buy some Enduralytes, and there he was. I don't know why I was compelled to name him Tony, but for some reason, I picture him as a person with a heavy Brooklyn accent and a strong Italian background. He's not big and rugged, but he is handsome, and I'm pretty sure he's tough as nails.

I should probably back up. Last spring, Steve won the grand prize drawing at a local duathlon. It was a Quintana Roo Kilo. Because he is an awesome husband, he had just gotten a new bike this year, and I was planning on doing IM MOO with my road bike, he decided that I should have it. Can you believe it?!? I'm pretty sure he's the best husband in the world. On Memorial day we went to the tri store to redeem the coupon. Unfortunately, the company had all of their Kilos on backorder. They told me I could upgrade to the Tequilo and pay the difference. Then they told me that the Tequilos were on backorder too. At that time, they said that they were told that the bikes would be in in August. They didn't know if it would be early August or late August (which obviously makes a difference when you're talking about training with the thing). I have been calling every few weeks, and the update has been the same: we don't know when the bikes will be in. We haven't heard anything. I called about 1 1/2 weeks ago, and the guy told me that we likely would have to wait till next year and get the 07 Kilo. I was bummed but had already come to the realization that I would likely be riding my road bike in Sept.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a Tequilo in my size at the bike store. I guess they had just gotten it in, but they probably won't be getting any Kilos in yet this year. I called Steve, and he said not to come home without the bike.

So... he is now mine. I'm pretty sure that I will be riding him in just 2 short weeks. I have taken him out on a few rides, and I've gotten the shifting down. The clipping in and out is the same, so I don't have to relearn that part. He still doesn't fit perfectly, and that will be my goal this week. I will hopefully be talking to the amazing guy who fit me to my road bike very soon.

I'm still a little nervous about making this switch so late in the season. I have done most of my training on my road bike, my road bike has more gears (27 vs 20), and riding my road bike has become second nature. On the other hand, Tony is lighter, hopefully faster (once he fits a little better) and has a seat angle that will should better prepare me for the run. He's also easier to shift mutliple gears at a time on the hills. At this point, I'm still not exactly sure what I am going to do. I'm going to throw in a hill ride or two this week (short of course) to see how he handles on the hills. This past week, I was just trying to get the feel of riding him. I took him for my 60 miler yesterday, and we did OK. My legs felt great on my 6 mile run, but I'm not sure whether that was because this distance was significantly shorter than my recent rides or if it was because the bike was easier on them.

Both people I've talked to in the local bike shop seem to think that I should be OK after 3 weeks of riding him. Any thoughts?
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Still Tired...

It's been a week, but the fatigue has not yet let up. Work was really crazy this week. The pharmacist I am working with on my residency took the week off, so I was in charge of the 18 surgical ICU patients plus one pharmacy student all by myself. I had more than one 10 hour day. It was draining mentally and emotionally. I went in one day, and my eyes welled up. We had one patient who was in a bad accident, and his family had decided to withdraw support (they knew it was what he wanted). Anyway, all day he had a piece of paper sitting on his chest. It was a poem talking about how today he is going to Heaven. It's just so hard to work up there sometimes. That same day, we had a patient who was in for the second time in a month. I guess the first major accident didn't teach him a lesson. Why can't people realize that second chances are rare?!? I just wanted to shake him.

My workouts didn't go exactly according to plan this week. I knew it could even be harmful if I trained hard when I felt so drained. I still managed to get in some key workouts. I went to the lake for a 1 mile swim on Friday evening. I had hoped to make it longer, but it seems I was absent this week when our hot days turned into cloudy and 70 degrees. I realized when I got there that I probably should have brought my wetsuit. That was an understatement to be sure. My local YWCA (who keeps their pool at a bathtubish 80 some degrees) has conveniently closed for maintainance during my entire taper, so I will be doing all of my swims in the lake from now on. I hopped in the water. There was only one other guy swimming. All of the life guards had gone home. It was chilly, but I figured that once I got moving, I would warm up. I did, for a while. After about 600 meters, the cold started to set in. I had goosebumps. My head started to get cold. My calves got a little tight. I managed to swim another 1000 m before hopping out of the water. Guess the reduced fat me does not appreciate arctic water. I had my heat on high for the 9 mile drive home and had to take a warm bath to finally get rid of the chills. My 2 mile swim tomorrow will be in a wetsuit!

I don't know what's wrong with me. I read up on the posts of fellow IM MOO in training tonight, and it seems most people are crawling out of their skin now that they are on taper. I just feel relieved. Sure there's a lot on my mind this week, but the fact that I have to work out less is somehow comforting. Maybe that's a small sign of burnout?

There has been one other thing on my mind this week. His name is Tony, and I'll introduce you to him tomorrow. For now, I am going to bed, and I'm not setting my alarm.
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This seemed to be the theme last week. I was just tired. That's the only word that comes to mind. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, even more than normal. I had trouble getting out the door for my workouts when I got home from work. All I wanted to do was sleep. I wanted to sleep for three days. I still do. I missed a couple of workouts last week because I felt completely drained. I guess this combo of work and working out is finally catching up to me. I got up at 3:30 am for my 18 mile Friday run. Three thirty in the freaking morning. Now, I know that there are a lot of IM in training out there who do this on a daily basis, but I am not nor have I ever been a morning person. This was the second time in a month that I've gotten up to do a run of that length long before the sun was up. I had to do it. It was the only way I could fit it in my schedule.

My legs were ready to be done with my bike ride at mile 30 yesterday. Somehow I convinced them to go another 70.2. I even convinced them to run 4 miles afterward, and they felt OK. I used the same nutrition plan as last week, and it worked again. I love Carbo Pro.

My mind has been elsewhere the last couple of days. I'll write about it soon, but suffice it to say that I have something new to add to my list of "my favorite things."

I am now officially on taper. It's funny to look at my schedule and think, "Wow. I only have to work out 15 hours this week." I guess I've come a long way

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going home to take a nap before my 6 mile run tonight.
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Random Question

So Steve and I were at the Science Museum of Minnesota about 1 1/2 weeks ago, and they had this bike thing there. The whole purpose of it was that you could generate enough power on this old crappy exercise bike to light up some lights. If you generated a whole lot of power, you could make the bell ding at the top of it. Easy, right? Especially for me, an Ironman in training (or so I thought). I even had a 100 mile ride scheduled for the next day. Steve hopped on. A couple of pedal strokes, and the bell dinged. I hopped on. I pedaled and pedaled. Some of the lights lit up. Lots of the lights lit up, but I could not get that damn bell to ding. I got off the bike. Steve hopped on again. Ding! I hopped on. Lights, but no dinging. I must have tried it at least 6 times. I never got the bell to ding, and, humiliated, I gave up. I decided that it was not worth wasting more energy on. I am not the type of person to give up and walk away, though, so it took a little extra effort. I have several theories why this happened:

1. I ran 16 miles the day before, and my legs were still tired.
2. I have not biked without clipping in for 3 years. My feet kept slipping off, so I never really got a good position on the pedals.
3. I have converted every fast twitch muscle I've ever had in my body into slow twitch muscles prepared for the 112 miles of Wisconsin hills.

Anybody else got any ideas? I am ashamed to even have written this!
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This Week's Schedule

Hooray! I was off of work by 4:15 today. This never happens on a Monday. I was expecting to come in and have 9 out of 18 of my patients being new. Today I only had 2 new patients. I'm going home to enjoy my extra few minutes of freedom. One positive note: one of my patients started to wake up today! He actually opened his eyes. He's been on my unit for a couple of weeks, and I really want to see him recover (as much as he can anyway), so this was definitely a step in the right direction. I deal with so many trauma cases and head injuries every day. It definitely keeps things in perspective. It pretty much makes my training seem insignificant on most days, but just in case you're wondering, here's what I'm up against this week:

M: 4000 m swim
T: AM - 45 minute run, PM - 30 min swim (open water if possible) with a 90 minute biking brick afterward
W: 80 minute run with strides
Th: 120 minute bike
F: AM -2700 m swim, 18 mile run
S: off!
Su: 100-112 mile bike (I'll see how I feel) with a 4o minute run off

After this last hard week, I'll be tapering, which I'm sure will come with its own challenges. Boy am I looking forward to it though!
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The Hills, the Wind, the Rain, and the Suburbs

The Hills:

Hills, hills, and more hills. I had huge granny gear uphills, long painful ones, slow assents that were disguised as flats (until I looked down at my speedometer), and gigantic rollers that stretched about 4 miles. My max downhill speed was only 35 mph, and a lot of my fast descents were thwarted by red lights at the end. The grand finale was the big hill I had to climb at mile 110.5 in order to get back up to my house. In the end, I probably managed to get in 80-85 miles worth of hills and the rest was relatively flat.

The Wind:

The wind wasn’t actually too bad today. It was about 10 miles per hour and was my headwind on the way out for my two out and back loops. That meant a tailwind on the hills on the way back!

The Rain:

The weather guys said that it would start raining at about 11 this morning. It was predicted that some areas could get up to 8 inches of rain. I wasn’t excited about that. It started sprinkling at around 10:40. “Wow,” I thought. Those guys were actually right today. At 11, it started to sprinkle harder. It sprinkled for the next 4 hours of my ride. It rained lightly off and on. For the last 35 minutes of my ride, it all out rained, poured actually. I was just plain pelted my whole way home. I could feel my shoes squishing. My whole body was soaked. I think it’s going to take about a week for my new shoes to dry out.

The Suburbs:

I grew up in very rural Minnesota. We had a few animals, and we were surrounded by farmland. I now live in the middle of a big city. I can walk to the local grocery store and 10 different restaurants. As silly as it seems, I think that living in the city is as close to living in the country as I can get. I don’t have to deal with the same traffic. I don’t have to choose from 10 different chain restaurants when I go out for supper. Around 20 miles into my ride, I started to question whether I would really be able to stick with this route. I had ridden past hundreds of tan houses by then and tons of signs advertising Model Homes! Single Family Homes! Homes for Sale! Newly Built Homes! I thought that I would go crazy. I’m sorry if you live in the suburbs and love it. I’m not saying that they are bad places to live. I know that they are supposed to be more family friendly, safer, and quieter than the city, and there are not jobs in the country for everybody. I’m not trying to offend anyone here. They’re just not for me. When I looked down at my odometer, I was averaging 14 mph. “This isn’t going to work,” I thought to myself. “I need to kick it up a notch, and if that means going back to one of my other routes, so be it.” Then I saw them. Cows. I had hit farm country. I have never been so happy to see and smell cows in my life. Guess I’ll be just fine in Wisconsin.

The Traffic:

Eight, count ‘em eight people cut me off during my ride by not stopping behind stop signs/yield signs/cross walks. I am guilty of doing this once in a great while too, so I understand that sometimes it just happens. However, an apology wave, mouthing a “sorry”, or backing up so the person could cross are the appropriate response measures to take. NONE of these people even acknowledged what they had done. I had to clip out and walk around at least 4 cars because they were completely blocking my reentrance to the bike path. One lady actually cut me off twice. She blocked my intersection while I was heading up the hill on the way home. Then she stopped right in front of the intersection while waiting to get into a parking ramp. By the time I got home, I was just plain fed up. One of my coworkers was complaining this week that bikers don’t always follow all of the traffic rules. My response was that drivers out there aren’t always watching out for bikes, and that I need to be watching out for myself. I rest my case.

The Nutrition:

I managed to consume 12 scoops of Carbo Pro, about 60 ounces of Gatorade, 40 ounces of water, 2 packages of Fig Newtons, and 2 Eduralytes (it wasn’t too hot today, and with all of the Gatorade, I didn’t really feel like I needed them).

The Summary:

112.5 miles. Time: 7:34. My legs were actually really sore starting the run. I’m not sure if they were still just tired from Thursday’s 18 mile run, if they really liked the stops last week, or if the Reuben last week served as superfuel. I wasn’t as diligent this week about making sure that I wasn’t mashing on my pedals, so that is something that I will work on again next week. At any rate, I know that the hills today were worse than last week, and I’ll be on them again next Sunday.

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Recap of Last Sunday’s Ride

I wrote this while waiting for my bus ride last week, but I just haven’t had time to type it up. Steve posted a pretty funny version of his recap on Sunday. This one will just be informational.

We started off the morning by sleeping in. We hit church the night before, so I didn’t get up until 9 AM. It was heavenly. :)

I had asked Steve earlier in the week if he wanted to join me under the condition that we could stop at the malt shop in Stillwater if he came along. At first, he said no, but I think that the temptation of blueberry malts got to him.

We left around 11 am and told our neighbor that we’d see him in about 8 hours. I don’t think he believed us. I mixed up some super strength Carbo Pro for each of us, and we were off. We headed onto one of our favorite trails up to Stillwater, a town that has a few good hills heading in.

We did several laps back and forth over the rollers before heading down to the malt shop. Miles elapsed: 52. Miles to go: 48. Steve of course ordered the blueberry malt, and I helped him with it a little. He also ordered a ham and cheese, which came with their homemade potato chips. What did I order? Did I pick something healthy? Did I go with the usual grilled chicken? No. I ordered the Reuben (the dressing came on the side). Halfway through a 100 mile ride, and I ordered a sandwich piled high with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut. I knew I’d probably come to regret it, but it sounded good at the time. Plus, all that salt has to beat what I’d get from a few Enduralytes.

We finished our meal and headed back up the huge hill. We returned to making laps back and forth. As I suspected, the sandwich didn’t sit the best, but it never came back up. I guess it was a test for my stomach’s ability to tolerate what I put in it during the race. Miles and miles later, we were home. I chugged some chocolate milk and went out for my 3 mile run. My legs didn’t feel too bad!

Last Sunday’s ride was more a test of distance than time. This Sunday’s 112 mile solo trip was the endurance/nutrition/speed test.
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First Century!

Just wanted to post a quick note to tell everybody that I finished my first century ride yesterday. Technically, it was 100.37 miles. My total time was around 6:43, and I even did a 3 mile run-off afterward (my program only made me do 2, but I felt like that was somehow cheating myself). I'll post more on it later. Mr. SLS took lots of pictures, so you can take a tour of the ride.

First of all, let me say that I have the most AWESOME husband in the world. He not only rode 100 miles with me. He also did all of the hills I threw in. All in all, I'd say that the ride was about 60 miles worth of hills and 40 miles that was for the most part flat. We hit one mother of a hill twice. It's either bigger than or comparable to the 3rd hill in the IM loop. I did it sitting down:) There was a bit of a wind yesterday too, about 10-15 mph. More later.

I can't promise any long posts in the next couple of weeks. By the time I put in an 8-11 hour day at work (not counting my commute) and throw in my workout(s), I literally have NO time left in my day. This week's training schedule:

M: 8 X 500 M swim
T: AM: - 12 X 100 M swim; PM - 60 minute hard bike followed by a 30 minute tempo run
W: AM - 45 minute run with strides every 5 minutes; PM - 90 minute hill bike ride
Th: 18 mile run
F: 2 1/2 mile open water swim in the AM, 1 hour run in the evening
S: off - woo hoo!
Sun: 112 mile bike with a 30 minute run-off

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, but after such a successful week last week, I know I can do it. I'm feeling better about those cutoffs...

I slept 11 hours on Friday night and 10 hours on Saturday night. It felt GREAT!
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Back in the Saddle

Not too much time to post - I just got off work and have to head home to get ready for company. Just wanted to let you know that I'm back at it, and with a bang. I did a fairly easy swim to recover from the HIM on Monday, but I had a pretty good sized knot in my left quad, so I took it easy Tues and Wed. Better to let a couple of easy/medium workouts go and get in the really tough ones scheduled for this weekend. Last night, I hopped back on the bike and knew that I'd be fine doing the rest of my workouts this week.

This morning, I got up at 3:50 AM to get in my 16+ mile run before heading to work. The problem: I am NOT a morning person, but for some odd reason, I was up and at 'em, ready to go. I had everything layed out last night. It helps me to peel myself out of bed come morning. I ate a Cliff bar and headed out. The first couple of miles were slow. It was cool this morning, but it was so humid that my body was working overtime just to suck in air.

It was kind of fun feeling like I had the whole city to myself. Seriously, I probably only saw 5 people during the first hour. Soon the city started coming to life, and I started picking up the pace. I finished my 16.3 mile run in just over 2:46. My legs actually felt great, and I never hit the point where I felt like I wanted to walk. Maybe my body is finally realizing who's boss! I have a 2 mile swim tomorrow and a 100 mile bike with a run afterward on Sunday. More later!
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Pharmie is in the House!

I have decided that I have two alter-egos. SLS was the nickname I was given by a bunch of friends in pharmacy school. It was easier to say than my hyphenated last name, which said fast sort of sounds like a German meat. SLS has been a runner for a long time. She has done a couple of triathlons and was probably the one that first thought of signing up for IM. She doesn’t always have a lot of confidence in her ability to become Ironman. She has a few doubts in the back of her mind that ask, “What if I don’t make the cutoffs? What if I can’t make it through the run? Do I really belong in the same class as all of the other great athletes that are going to be at that start line?” SLS has definitely been around the last couple of weeks. More doubts since the foot problems surfaces.

I was given the nickname “Pharmie” by Simply Stu at the WIBA ride a few weeks ago. It was fitting since I am a pharmacist and did in fact grow up on a farm, a double whammy if you will. Pharmie is calm and is very confident in her abilities. She knows that her past tri and running experiences will help her at IM. She knows that she has trained long and hard for September 10th. She was at her best at the WIBA ride, confident that she would actually be able to pull this off. She was at my race today.

The day started off with a 4 AM alarm clock. We had our stuff all packed up last night, so we ate breakfast, put our bikes on the rack (well, Steve actually did that part), and headed up to the race. It was about a 45 minute drive, and we cranked the radio the whole way because they kept playing awesome songs. We got to the site at about 5:15, got rock star parking nearby, and headed to the transition area. The bike racks were marked for our individual spots, so I didn’t get to pick my place. It was just as well, though, because my place in the transition area was really good. Steve did the sprint distance, so he was in a different part of T. I started setting up my huge pile of stuff. I really need to purchase a tri suit for days like today, but for now, I just figured I would change between swim, bike, and run. I knew that this would take longer, but since I plan to do the same thing in Wisconsin, it was a good chance for a dress rehearsal. I finished setting up my stuff and peed my usual 3-5 times while waiting for the race to get started.

I should probably take a moment here to tell you about today’s weather. The forecast was for it to be 101 with a dewpoint in the mid 70s. For those of you not from Minnesota and/or not obsessed with the weather, that is VERY sticky. There was also a wind in the forecast. It ended up being sunny. It was about 95 degrees by the end of the race with a dewpoint in the mid 70s and a wind that was probably 15-20 miles per hour. Whew! If my intent was to prepare for racing in warm weather that IM could throw at me, I guess I did it.

My big dilemma the last couple of days was whether or not I should wear my wetsuit today. The race directions said that wetsuits may be worn without regard to water temperature. I did an open water swim with my wetsuit on Friday at my local lake, and it was so hot that I could hardly stand it. I wanted to try it today since I’ve never actually worn it in a race before. I knew it would be good practice for Wisconsin. Since it is sleeveless, I knew it wouldn’t be quite as hot as if I had full sleeves. The swim started at 7 am and the lake was big, so there was a chance that the water would be a little cooler in the morning. Plus, since swimming is definitely not my strongest event (very, very slow), any extra benefit would sure help. The cons: wearing it could actually hurt my performance if I cooked in it. What to do? I called my friend TriSara Tops yesterday and asked for her opinion. She said I should see what other people were doing today, but she was leaning toward me wearing it. I was too. This morning, I got to the lake and checked out the water. It felt a little cooler than when I waded in it yesterday. There was a lady down there who asked me how the water was. I told her my dilemma, and she told me that she thought that I should wear it. Since she is a 20 year veteran of tris and has done 7 Ironmans(!), I figured that her opinion counted for something. I resolved to wear it. I love meeting random strangers at races.

I squeezed into my wetsuit and headed down to the start. The water looked a little choppy. Boy was that an understatement. My goal was to finish in under an hour. Don’t laugh. I know I’m slow. I’m still working on that part. We went in in waves of 50, and I was in the 4th wave. The first couple of hundred yards were chaotic as usual. I managed to get kicked in the eye nearly right away, but it didn’t do any damage. I was working pretty hard at first, and my usual breath every three strokes had to be cut down to every two because I was running a little short of air. The water was pretty choppy, and waves completely went over me more than once. I headed to my usual position of way to the left of the buoys. I know it wastes energy to go that much further, but I just don’t love swimming in the middle of the craziness, especially since I’m usually the one getting run over. I rounded the first big buoy. Wow. My time may actually be OK today. I headed to the second big buoy. The water on this back stretch was a little calmer, and by then, I had settled comfortably into my usual 3 strokes per breath. I was feeling calm and relaxed. I had a little trouble sighting the second big buoy. The small buoys in between were sparse, so I had to completely stop a couple of times to make sure I was still going the right way. That was my only complaint today with the set up of the race. When I rounded the second buoy, I realized that there was a chance that I could be out of the water in less than 45 minutes. The water on this home stretch, though, was terrible. If you would have been able to read my thoughts at that time, you would have seen this:

Wow. This water would be great if I were sitting on an inner tube drinking a margarita. **swell, swell** Is that a buoy or just another bright orange swim cap? **swell, swell, swell** Wow, this water is really choppy! **swell, swell** Where the heck is the buoy? Is the pontoon in front of it? **swell, swell, swell, swallow lots of water** Wow. I might just make 45 minutes. That is usually my 1 mile time in the pool. *swell* Well, maybe I underestimated the distance. I may not get out until around 50 minutes, but that would still be OK. **swell, swell, swallow more water. cough** It continued like this all the way up to shore. I hit shore in 50:16. On my way up the beach to T1, the guy behind me shouted, “I should have brought my wetsuit. That swim sucked!” I guess I made the right decision. :)

T1: I squeezed out of my wetsuit, threw on a shirt over my sports bra, threw on a pair of bike shorts over my sport bikini swimsuit bottom, socks, shoes, helmet, bike, etc. Time: 3:53. My longest T1 time ever, but I’ve never had to put on that many clothes in T1 before.

The bike started out great. I had the wind at my back for several miles. Then I turned into the wind. Wow. It was not pretty. The course was rather hilly, maybe even comparable to parts of the IM course. The wind combined with the hills did not make for a fast bike ride. I knew that the course was going to be hilly, but I’d never ridden it before, and they didn’t have an elevation chart available. More experience for IM I guess. I tried to keep it at a comfortable pace, one where I felt like I could still be going faster, but parts of the second half were pretty tough, and I know that my HR was high then. I can’t even count how many times I was in my granny gear. I was alone for the entire bike ride. I could see a couple of people about ½ mile ahead of me for miles but didn’t catch up to them until about mile 50. It was a little frustrating having people pass me, especially early in the bike, but I knew that I would need energy to endure the heat in the run. My overall time on the bike wasn’t great. I finished in 3:41. Given the conditions, though, it probably wasn’t too bad. Even the Wisconsin course has flats, and this one only had a couple of miles’ worth.

T2: By the end of the bike, I was so anxious to get out of the swimsuit bottoms. I don’t normally wear anything under my bike shorts, but without a changing area today, I really couldn’t put on the bike shorts without something underneath, and I didn’t want to wear them for the swim. It was probably the worst decision I made all day. I was pretty uncomfortable toward the end. I took off the bike shorts, threw on my running shorts (I needed the ventilation in the heat), and did a quick maneuver that impressed several people around me to get the swimsuit off. It literally only took me about 6 seconds. I changed shoes, hats, etc, and ran out. T2 time: 2:25.

I’m not going to lie to you. The run was just plain hot. I quickly came to love the wind that had plagued me on the bike. My goal was to just keep running and not have to walk. I did walk through the aid stations and stopped several times for ice from volunteers or to get my head hosed off (carefully making sure that my shoes didn’t get wet). I had ice under my hat or down my sports bra for most of the run **clack, clack, clack** The ice clacking against itself brought a whole new meaning to the term “knockers”. My run was slow, and I probably could have pushed it a little more, but I only got passed once and passed about 15 people. I started to wonder during the run if I could break 7 hours. I know that this isn’t a spectacular time, but this also isn’t an A race. I didn’t taper. I broke just about every rule about trying new things on race day. The heat index was 110 degrees. I was happy to still be running and not reduced to a massive puddle. My run time was 2:23. Definitely room for improvement. I finished in 7:01:59.

Nutrition: I experimented big time today with my nutrition. I used the Enduralytes (2-3 old ones per hour), and I am definitely sticking with them. My legs never felt heavy on the run despite the heat, and I never once cramped up. I didn’t drink nearly enough, but it was plenty to get me through the race. It would not have gotten me through IM. I only drank 4 bottles of water on the bike, but I drank at most of the run stops. I ate one packet of fig newtons during the bike and sipped on concentrated Carbo Pro mixed with Gatorade as well. I ate 2/3 of a Powerbar on the run and drank several glasses of Gatorade. It seemed to be plenty to get me through the race. I’m hoping to refine my nutritional plan on my long bikes in the next couple of weeks. Most of it seemed to work today, though.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the day. I know that my time wasn’t great, but considering the conditions, I’ll take it. Pharmie won today. She knew I could do it, and I did.