by | | 10 comments
Man...I Don't Even Come to My Blog Anymore!

It's true. For the last couple of weeks, I've maybe visited my blog twice, and even that's probably being generous. Steve's blog has been much more fun to read lately. Going to my blog just reminds me of one more thing I'm behind on, and that's not really anything I want to worry about now. Plus, there's really nothing to report. I've essentially taken 2 months off since Ironman, aside from a marathon, a couple of runs, a bike ride or two, and some inline skating. I haven't even been in the pool since September. Yeesh. I've really let myself go.

Work has been crazy lately, although when is it not? I switched from the Surgical, Trauma and Neurosurg Unit to a General Medicine floor. I knew the switch would happen in October when I was hired in July, but I didn't really stop to think what that would mean for me - learning a whole new area, new teams, new nurses, and a new way to structure my day. Needless to say, I'm still learning all of that. I started just over two weeks ago by working a 70 hour week to begin a 10 day stretch. I get home at night and am so exhausted from being "on" all day that I can't muster much of anything. Looks like this week will be another long one. Is it Friday yet?

We no longer have free dial-up (ie any sort of internet access) at home, so if I want to get up a blog post, I need to stay at work after already having been on the computer for at least 10 hours. Lately, I've been choosing to catch up on others' blogs and then going home. Sorry folks, there's really not much to report here anyway.

I haven't completely been ignoring triathlon and running, though. 2008 is just around the corner, and I've been working on The Big Plan. It's been a while since I had a fast season, so it's about time I dug one up again. The last two years have been very slow as far as race times go because I trained my body to do that for Ironman. This year, there's no Ironman to slow me down, and I've got PR fever. More on all of this later. For now, just wanted everyone to know I'm still alive. I'll try to report on something a little more exciting next time!
by | | 20 comments
26.2 and 27

Yeesh. Well, it's been a while. So what have I been up to? Well, I have been putting my life back together in the form of deep cleaning my house, sorting through our basement (which hadn't been touched since we moved), working some extra hours (those were nice paychecks), getting Tony fitted so we can officially ride together next season, and trying desperately to reconnect with the friends and family I have abandoned for the past two years. Oh yeah, and I ran a marathon two days ago.

I know I posted a while ago that after last year, I had resolved not to run a marathon so close to Ironman. When it came time to sign up for the TCM this year, though, I just had to. The promise of an extra week of recovery time, my sister signing up for her first, the chance to run 8 in a row, and the race being on my birthday all pushed me to do it, and before I knew it, I had forked over the money last May.

I honestly didn't know what to expect on race day. The marathon was pretty much a C race for me. I had put in the training for IM and knew it would be enough to get me through the marathon. I spent the month in between the two recovering and hoping that the terrible pain I experienced during the marathon last year wouldn't show up if I took it extra easy, so that's exactly what I did. A few short runs and some inline skating was the extent of my workouts between September 9 and October 7. My ultimate goal was to be there with Steph and to run with her all the way to the finish line, but I knew that given the circumstances, it might not be possible.

As most of you probably know, Steve spent the weeks leading up to my birthday scheming for one heck of a surprise for race day. He, my brother Matt, Steph's boyfriend Jon, and my brother Mike all dressed up as a farmer and 3 crazy barnyard animals to come cheer us on. I never peeked at his blog, or his car, or his studio, and I about died when I came downstairs Sunday morning to find them in full costume. When we were stuck in traffic on the off ramp trying to get to the start, they were dancing up and down between the stopped cars to the tune of horn honks, people shouting and cheering, and a whole lotta laughs and smiles. It's an image that will be burned in my memory for a long time!

In the 8 years I've done this marathon, there have been all sorts of temperatures and conditions, but this year was a hot one -the hottest day the marathon has ever had. I found out Sunday night that they were 1.5 degrees from cancelling the day altogether. We started in the low to mid 70s with 90% humidity and full sun. We worked our way up to 84 degrees with 60 to 70% humidity. I know that for a lot of people, this really doesn't sound that bad, but people trained for the 50-60 degree average, and with that humidity, you're basically in a pressure cooker. It was just plain miserable.

I stuck with Steph for the first half, but when I started to feel like I was going to lose my Shot Blocks, I told her to go on so I could walk. I knew that If my food didn't start digesting, I'd be in big trouble. Plus, I had been slightly cold with goosebumps all over my body for miles and was a little concerned that the heat was getting to me (lots of people did go down with heat stroke, a few of them with body temps of 108 degrees). So I run-walked the rest of the race. I found Steve and the gang at mile 15, and they were having a blast. I've never been a race where it was so easy to find my support crew, but you don't miss a bright yellow chicken standing next to a pig and a cow with the farmer close by! My theme of the day was "it's my birthday and I'll walk if I want to." I saw my friends Sarah, Trevor, and Maddy a little further into the race, and they all wished me happy birthday. I gave them all very sweaty hugs.

I was dumping water on my back and head, but the soaking wet front was all me.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I did run/walk intervals and took ice whenever I could get it. I was really disappointed that the race never provided any, but TCM is known for its spectators, and they came through with flying colors the second half of the race. I did my usual ice in the hat, sports bra, and mouth and was so much more comfortable. It wasn't long before I saw my farm animal support crew along with my parents, my grandpa, and my friends Jess, Tony, and Rachel just before mile 26. I asked them how Steph did, and they told me that she finished really strong (total time 4:41 - over her goal of 4:30, but everyone was over their goal times given the heat). I started to get really choked up. I am so proud of her. I saw her on the way down to the finish line and got choked up again. I crossed the finish line in 5:27, my second slowest marathon ever by far (I did beat last year's pneumonia race time).

I met up with the farm animals and Steph and we stopped for a few pictures.

Matt the Cow, Mike the Farmer, Steph, Jon the Pig, Me, and Steve the Rooster

Can you tell we're sisters?

We went home and cooked a big meal for our cheerers. We finished it off with the perfect birthday marathon food - birthday cake!

Steph (Nov 15th), Mike (Oct 12), and Me (Oct 7)

What I learned from the weekend:
1. I am not an IronJenny. My race times really suffer when my body doesn't have enough time to recover. I'm still not sure whether it's mindset or body recovery time, but I do know that I'm sorer now than I was the Tuesday after Ironman.
2. I am an ice person. When the temps start to creep up, I need ice during races.
3. Never underestimate Steve's creativity. The costumes totally made my day. I love you honey!
by | | 22 comments
Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

I have the day off today! I went back to work Tuesday after Ironman to find that I was scheduled to work 18 of 19 days in a row. Since I worked 10 days straight up to Ironman to get my 4 days off, I was not exactly excited. Yesterday I found out that I actually only work 17 of those 19 days, and today was a bonus day off. Yahoo!! So, first thing this morning, I’m getting this very long overdue race report up. It will likely be a very long one, so grab a cup of coffee :)


Ironman is different the second time around in many ways. The most comforting for me this year was that things were much more familiar. Steve and I stayed at the same bed and breakfast in the same room. It was our fourth trip to Madison and the first time that we knew we wouldn’t need directions. We knew where things were at The Terrace. Packing was much more relaxed and methodical. The plan was set.

Best of all, the people that we kind of knew this time last year all felt like old friends.

Friday was all about meeting up with and hanging out with friends. Some of them were old friends by now, some were bloggy friends that we hadn’t yet met in person, and some were brand new faces, but they were all amazing people. The athlete’s dinner on Friday was a blast. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time.

Saturday our personal support crew got into town. My sister Steph, my brother Matt, and Steph’s boyfriend Jon made the trip out, so we treated them to supper. They were there bright and early Sunday morning after a night of debauchery in their hotel room. What great race support!

Race Morning:

Steve and I woke up early, ate our oatmeal, and headed to the Terrace. We took care of a few last minute things in transition, handed our clothes over to Steph, Matt, and Jon, and then the two of us just quietly sat together for a few minutes in the Terrace. Before we knew it, it was time to don the wetsuits and make our way down the helix. It took us over a half an hour to get from the top of the helix into the water. We were all packed together, and Mike Riley kept yelling at everyone to get in the water and move away from shore. The music was blasting, Steve and I were walking hand in hand, and all of the nervous energy was palpable. We finally made it into the water with just a few minutes to spare. We heard Mike Riley tell us we were going to be Ironmen today, smooched one last time, and then the cannon sounded.

The Swim:

Most people have seen pictures by now of the swim. It’s as crazy to experience as it is to look at. There are hands and feet and bodies and heads everywhere. Thankfully, the visibility was pretty good, and I managed to avoid all but one kick to the head. There was plenty of other contact, though, and a few times were downright viscious. Twice I had someone grab my calf and pull backward and once I had someone deliberately shove me from the side. Somehow I managed to be swimming in a pack of people that preferred to be perpendicular to the buoys. There were several times when I looked up only to see a very off-track wetsuit swimming directly across my line of vision, colliding with everyone along the way. For the most part, though, my swim was pretty uneventful. I started far to the right of and behind the buoys, worked my way to the inside, and stayed there. I drafted when I could, which was fairly often, and after I had rounded the buoy that signaled I had 1/4 of my swim left, I knew I was on my way to a big PR. I swam relaxed, but at the same time, I knew I needed to keep up the pace because I didn’t know what the bike would bring. I had no idea. I exited the water in 1:34:07, nearly 20 minutes faster than last year.


Robby B! He was the first face I recognized coming out of the water. A quick visit to the strippers, and my wetsuit was off! I ran into T1 super excited. I waved escitedly to my famly while running up the helix, and they told me that Steve was already out of the water. He’d had a great swim too.

Secretly, I had been hoping to PR this year, and I knew that I was well on my way. Between my fast and easy swim and the beautiful weather predicted, I was set up to have a great day. I peeled off my swim suit, and a volunteer helped me to get dressed. Before I knew it, I was running out the door. I stopped at the sunscreeners, but apparently not for long enough (I had some CRAZY burns by the end of the day!) I grabbed my bike, and I was out – 8:32.

The Bike:

As a huge group of us were mounting our bikes right out of T1, one guy just plain fell over. I think he was OK, but I felt really bad for him. What a terrible way to start the bike! I braked down the helix – no need to get crazy here. I had a lot of miles ahead of me. As I made my way onto John Nolan, I noticed that my odometer was acting funny. I looked down at it for a couple of seconds to figure out exactly what the problem was, and I did something really stupid. I stopped paying attention to the road. I think it was only for a few seconds, but all of my adrenaline and excitement probably clouded my judgement. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air and hitting the pavement. Hard. I have no idea how I landed, but judging from my bruises and scrapes, it was sort of sideways Superman style. I looked over at my bike to even see what happened, and by now you probably know that I hit a construction cone. Of all of the embarrassing things to hit on your bike, a 2 foot high bright orange cone has to be the worst. The spectators let out a horrible noise when I landed. Total shock and concern. One guy ran over to me to make sure I was OK. I was so embarrassed, and I just wanted to get on my bike and get out of there. I have never wiped out like that before. A quick eval revealed that I had some pretty big scrapes and sore spots, but I didn’t think anything was broken on me. I picked up my bike, still a little delirious. I looked down and saw that the chain had come off, so I went to put it on. That’s when I realized that I had a big problem. The chain went on fine, but I couldn’t get the back wheel to move when I turned the pedal. I checked my brakes. They weren’t locked. My handle bar was bent in, though. I bent it back thinking that maybe it was pulling funny on my cables. Still nothing. By now, I was working with a sense of slight panic, extreme embarrassment, and deliberate urgency. I grabbed the brakes and shifted them a little to the side, and finally, the wheel moved, barely. A guy next to me was trying to help. I politely thanked him but told him I didn’t want to get disqualified. I turned the pedals. The wheel was now moving, but it couldn’t make it a full rotation without catching. It was bent. I decided to get on my bike, see how it would work and reassess the whole situation after I had been on it a bit. When at I got on it, the whole crowd cheered, just like they cheer when an injured player walks off a football field after laying there for a few minutes. Totally. Embarrassing. I have no idea how long I was stopped there. Maybe five minutes? Maybe ten? It didn’t matter. I was back on my bike and on a mission. I made it another mile or two before I needed to stop. My odometer magnet was rubbing on my frame, and the wheel was still rubbing against my brakes. I readjusted and forged on. Still rubbing. My wheel was just totally bent, and I knew there was nothing more I could do. Lots of people passed me, which is normal when I start the bike leg, but instead of light spinning, I was working hard to muster a 13 mph average with the wind on my back. That’s when I realized that I’d never make it. My legs were already feeling fatigued after only a few miles. There was no way I’d get over the hills on that wheel. A couple of people mentioned that my wheel looked like something was wrong as they passed me. One of them was Bob, a great guy that I had met at WIBA and had seen again at the Chisago half. I told him about the crash, and he wished me luck.

I felt a little sorry for myself, but I knew it was my own fault. I had thrown away a good swim and a beautiful day because I had stopped paying attention for a couple of seconds. I normally pray a lot on the bike leg during triathlons. It’s definitely the lonliest part and the part where the most can go wrong. I prayed even more unusual this day, though. I prayed to God, and I prayed for my Grandma Aggie to be with me.

I know I’ve mentioned my Grandma before. She died of a massive heart attack 5 years ago at the age of 62. She was an amazing woman, my hero. She learned to downhill ski in her 50s. She took us grandkids on roller coasters and any other adventure we could talk her into, and she was always, always there for us. Call it what you will, but I’ve always felt her presence with me during tris. At about mile 6, I asked her to be with me, and in my head, I knew that she was telling me that she was but that there was nothing she could do. I had to get to the next aid station. I pedaled on. At mile 12 or 13, I hit the aid stations. I hoped there was either tech support there or someone who could call tech support for me. I was in luck! One of the Inside Out guys was there! “Can you true a wheel?” I begged. I thought that even if he could straighten it a little, I may still have a shot at making it the next 100 miles. “Well, let’s see here, I might have…” He trailed off. “Let’s go back to my car.” We walked several hundred feet back to his race support vehicle, and then he did the most amazing thing. He pulled out a shiny new wheel that he said I could use for the rest of the bike (they put the broken one back on in T2). I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and started telling him and the other guy working there how much I loved them. I didn’t know that the race support guys offered such extensive services. He put my cassette on the new wheel, made sure everything else looked OK, and around 20 minutes later, I was off and absolutely grateful. Good thing I didn’t need a front wheel. They had already given that one away, and I got their only back wheel. Guess someone really was watching out for me. (Side note: I sent Inside Out Sports a love letter Tuesday after Ironman. I never got a reply, so I really hope that the right people got the email.)

I spent the next 100 miles telling myself to keep moving and that I was nt allowed to complain. It was truly a gift to be able to ride those miles at all. The accident could have been so much worse. I could have been seriously hurt or my bike could have been completely out of commission. I was riding on a borrowed wheel and a prayer – lots of them actually. I enjoyed the other riders out there. I took in the scenery once again, and I had fun with the fans. I got to see Triteacher, Matt from WIBA, and Jeremy from the Chisago half. I thought of Steve many times out there, especially when I passed the alfalfa fields. He’s such a farm boy. He loves that smell. I prayed again for now flats and for a smooth finish. I knew that 20-30 minutes to spare would be cutting it close, but I made it in with a smile on my face. Bike time: 8:36:30 - WAY slower than last year’s time in the cold rain, but considering the circumstances, I am happy I finished it at all. My cheering section was waiting for me at the end of the bike. I was so happy to see them and relieved when I found out that they hadn’t seen me crash 111 miles earlier. I told them about the crash, and they told me that Steve was doing well on the run.


IM Able once said that the reason that the marathon is so doable after a 112 mile bike ride is because you’re so darn happy to get off the bike. She is absolutely right. My butt and feet couldn’t have been happier to be off my bike. I saw Siren on my way into the change room, and she helped me get my bag. I changed my clothes and was about to run out the door when I heard a “SARAH!” I turned around to find Iron Wil just behind me. We had both thought that given our times in races all summer, we’d probably meet somewhere on the run, but I had assumed that my bike crash had nixed that possibility. “TRACEEEE!” I squealed like a four year old. Then we gave each other the biggest hug. “Here, I’ll wait for you. Let’s get you dressed. We’re gonna DO this!” That girl is one speedy changer, and in just a couple of minutes, we were out the door together.

The Run:

We ran together off and on for miles. I told her the story of my crash, and we both kept saying how we couldn’t believe that we had found each other in T2. I was so excited for her. She looked strong, and I knew that this was going to be her year. The run was actually pretty uneventful. I saw Steve at about mile 3 or 4 (his 11 or 12), and he said that he wasn’t feeling so good. I was all prepared to give him a pep talk the next time I saw him, but he looked really strong, and I knew he’d be just fine. I am so proud of him. I met up with Bob from WIBA again at about mile 14 1/2. “You made it!” he exclaimed, and I told him my story. I reminded him that we needed to be at State Street by 10:30 and then it was all about the finish. I knew I’d soon be able to call him Ironman. I also saw Erin, Stu, Tri Dummy, and a few others I knew out there - all ahead of me of course, and they looked great!

Miles 21 to 25 1/2 were pretty tough for me. My quads were giant knots, and I ended up walking most of those miles. I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to beat last year’s time, but I was grateful for the day and for the chance to finish at all. In retrospect, I’m not sure if it was the extra cranking on the bike or dehydration that did me in. I only peed once during the whole race. I think the dry air on the bike made me underestimate how much fluid I needed to be drinking. My skin felt salty, but I was never visibly sweating. I was a little worried that I was drinking too much, and being a health care provider, I couldn’t help wondering if I was secreting too much ADH and that’s why I wasn’t peeing. By Monday afternoon, I was still 4-6 pounds down from my pre-race weight, so I was really dry after all. Live and learn!

At mile 25 1/2, I started running again, knowing that I couldn’t finish the race walking. I saw Steph just up the road, and she was on the phone with my mom, who was apparently telling me to hurry up and finish already! I ran down the chute high fiving everyone like I was some kind of rock star or something. I sure felt like one. I waved to Matt, Jon, and Steve. Mike Riley was standing in the chute telling me that I was an Ironman, and then the race was over. 16:19:45, 27 minutes slower than last year. Xt4 put a finisher’s medal around my neck and gave me a huge hug. Thomps came up to tell me that although the second time around is harder than the first, I didn’t need to make it harder. More hugs. I got my picture taken with my medal and then turned around to see Wil. She finished just around a minute behind me. We both lost it. We’d done it. We were Ironmen, both of us, and we just sat there in a big sobbing embrace knowing what that meant.

I got to see Steve in the finisher’s area. It was the first time I saw him as an Ironman. I am just so proud of him. What a beautiful gift for us to be able to do this together.

Then I saw Bob. Bob, if you’re reading this, I absolutely knew you’d do it. I got your comment, and my email is I’d love to read your story. I think I interrupted a moment between him and his wife to tell him congratulations. More hugs and tears.

Steve and I met back up with my family. They put in a crazy amount of hours that day just to cheer Steve and me on out there. I hope they know how much it meant to me. I shared with them the full battle story and showed them the resultant carnage.

Bruise on my left leg.

My right hip

My left hand. Notice the nasty bruise on the heel.

The real stinger - my right elbow.

I got to See TacBoy and Greyhound as finishers and told them my story. Soon after, I learned that IM Able, though she put up a great fight, just didn’t have her day. I am so sorry, girl.

We collected our bags and bikes and walked back to our hotel. I showed them my broken bike, and it was so hard to drag that Matt just carried it the whole way. I don’t know how I made it those first 12 miles.

I didn’t sleep that well. Usually after long workouts, I sleep like a rock. After really tough ones, though, it hurts every time I move. Still, that king sized bed with the really great sheets couldn’t have felt better.

The next morning, we went back to The Terrace to buy some finisher’s gear and to pick up our certificates. I saw Bubba and Stu who both had amazing PRs. Great job guys! Then Steve and I drove home so he could teach a class and I could get started on 10 loads of laundry and lots and lots of dinner.

If I’ve forgotten anybody in my race report, I’m really sorry. Everyone out there at Ironman helped to shape my experience, and it meant the world to me. It was a pretty rocky day, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Guess I just had to earn this one!
by | | 22 comments
The Aftermath

I know that I owe a whole lotta race report. I finally got caught up on everyone else's blogs, but I think I need go get home and finish the 10 loads of laundry I started yesterday so I can still have early lights out. So... I thought I'd throw up a quick post about my battle wounds. Steve has pics, and I'll get them up sometime soon, but I've been showing them to people for the last two days. Somehow I think they make me look cool, so I've been acting like a proud 5 year old.

right hip
inside of left knee
top of left knee
palm of left hand
right elbow

inside of right ankle
sports bra mark at the top of my abdomen/bottom of my chest
right elbow (that one's a beaut!)
back of neck (my wetsuit has never rubbed there before)

patchy areas all over my body - guess I should have spent more time in T1 with the sunscreeners!

General Soreness:
all over, but not too bad - all of the above actually hurt worse

Yes, I am an Ironman, and I've got the scars to prove it! More on how I got 'em to come :)
by | | 27 comments
Ironman Times Two!

Just a quick post to say that I finished IM MOO #2 this evening. My time wasn't stellar compared to last year, but boy to I have stories to tell! More after I've slept a little.
by | | 4 comments
Race Day Tomorrow!

Yikes! Well, I guess it's go time. Off to bed soon. It will be an early morning alarm clock. I am SO excited to be toeing the line with my best friend tomorrow. It's been a whole year since we decided to sign up together, and I couldn't be prouder of him.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow night, Steve will have finished and I'll be coming in soon. A reminder - Steve is number 386, and I'm 2023. You can track us on Ironman Live here.

Good luck to all the other athletes tomorrow!
by | | 3 comments
Ironman Powers Unite!

This just in from Steve. I was too busy writing a nasty letter to Specialized since they decided not to cover my brother's bike under warrenty.

This is Phamie and I along with a bunch of our blogger buddies after getting checked-in at Ironman! Everyone rubbed my smooth body for good luck – I wasn’t ready for that! We now have our official IM bracelets on that give us all access.

We got to our hotel, unloaded our bikes, walked to the Terrace (IM headquarters) to get registered, grabbed a quick bite, met up with bloggers, hit the free pasta meal, and sat through the meeting of all of the rules.

Afterward, Pharmie and I found our spots in transition. She’s 2023, and I’m 386:

Tomorrow, we’re going for a final test swim in Lake Monona, load our bikes and gear bags in transition, and meet up with some family and friends.
by | | 6 comments

Am I excited for Ironman? Yes. Am I nervous for Ironman? Of course. It's the way I feel the week of any big race, so I'm doing what I do before every one- I'm ignoring it. I'm choosing to do or think things that keep me from wasting all of my energy on nervous excitement. I'll let myself get excited when we roll into Madison Friday morning. In the meantime, I'm having no trouble focusing my attention elsewhere, especially after Monday night. Apparently they don't call it LABOR Day because it's fun. It started with an early alarm clock and then off to work - day 8 of 11 in a row. It was a whole lotta craziness, and 11 hours later, I was more than happy to be leaving for home. I had hoped to get in one last medium bike ride as per my plan, but it gets so dark so soon now. I guess I'll have to trust my training and know that that last 45 miles isn't going to make that big of a difference on Sunday.

When I got home, I found that my mom, God bless her, had sent back two grocery bags of fruits and veggies. I started in on making some zucchini bread only to get a phone call. "Hey, can you come pick us up? We got into a pile up and our bikes are out of commission." It was my brother Matt. A couple of detours in the ghetto and two phone calls later, we finally found each other in the dark. Matt's bike was a mess. His carbon rear fork had broken into 3 pieces on one side, his tire was missing several spokes, and that's just to start with. He had swerved to miss a toddler on training wheels who had torn out in front of him. The kid wasn't wearing a helmet, so 2 220 pound guys cruising at 20MPH very well could have killed him. Thankfully, Matt and Logan were OK aside from a little road rash.

On the drive home, I joked that my car was making some funny noises and that it was about to die. Matt agreed to look at it when we got home. My car had other ideas. Waiting at a stoplight, we heard a THWUNK, and then the funny noises stopped - not a good sign. We guessed it was the serpentine belt, and the immediate rise in engine temp confirmed it. We made it to a side street before ruining the whole motor, but we weren't getting home. All we could do was laugh sitting there on the curb at 9 PM on a holiday. Matt and Logan vowed to never forget their IDs again since there was a bar 4 blocks away and they couldn't gain admittance.

Long story short: more phone calls, Steve came with backup car #2, Logan called AAA, car got towed to our house (Matt put in a new water pump last night), Matt's bike is in the shop (nobody there had ever seen this happen before. They're evaluating whether they'll replace the whole frame for free), Logan's bike is heading to the shop this weekend. Oh, and our washing machine died last night.
by | | 5 comments
Taper Nutrition

More on Ironman in a day or so. Just finished work and gotta get home to get in a short ride. Steve and I went to the Minnesota State Fair this week and indulged. Not as much as we could have, but we indulged. Final count: Itialian fried zapollis (sp?) with canolli cream inside, a huge piece of turkey jerkey, a strawberry malt, breadsticks with cheese and sauce, a pronto pup (that was all Steve, I couldn't eat one of those things), oh and the COTTON CANDY.

Hey, we could have gotten much crazier. It ended up being just over $20 for our night of junk food...enough to last us another year.

by | | 12 comments
Message That Made Me Smile Yesterday

Um, hi. this is Matt from your local bike shop, and, well, I think your bike's rear wheel needs its bearings replaced. It's probably gonna cost another $25. Just give us a call and let us know if it's OK to go ahead. (pause) Looks like this bike's got a LOT of miles on it.

Yes, yes it does.
by | | 4 comments
The Ride That Did Not Break Me

Let me first start this post with a disclaimer. I take good care of my bike, I really do (well, often with Steve’s help). I wash her and lube her and take her in for her maintenance when it comes do. I figured that it would be coming do really soon; might as well get in one more long ride before taking her back to the LBS. She was fine when we left the house on Sunday. She was coming due for a new chain but that was about it. Please keep this in mind.

I woke up at 8:30 on Sunday and my friend Jess’s fabulous cabin. I had only spent 36 hours there, but it was exactly enough time to do some much needed catching up with my amazing undergrad friends. I even managed to get in a 5.5 mile run and a 75 minute swim in on Saturday. Steve and I left the cabin early so we could get in our last bike ride. I was hoping for 112 miles. We were home around 11 AM – plenty of time to get my bike ready and prepare all of my nutrition. I guess there’s something to be said about that “too many cooks in the kitchen” saying. Seconds after warning Steve to steer clear of my uncapped bottle of Carbo Pro, I managed to knock his bottle onto the floor, the cupboards, and myself. Thank God it wasn’t my bottle. I had 16 scoops of carbo pro in mine (over 1700 calories), his only contained 6 scoops. Either way, it ended up being a super sticky mess and took us a good 10-15 minutes to clean up our splattered kitchen, not exactly in my pre-ride planned time allotment.

If I had been preparing for last year’s Ironman, the conditions would have been perfect. It was mid-50s and misting when Steve and I left the house. This time around, though, I was a little better dressed!. We rode together for a couple of miles before wishing each other luck.

The first 20 miles or so were pretty uneventful. It misted and sprinkled off and on, and even though it was a little chilly, I didn’t even need my windbreaker. Then it started raining. It never quite poured, but it came as close as it possibly could. It rained for two or three hours before reverting back to a sprinkle. Honestly, I sort of lost track by that point. My feet were soaked as was the rest of me. Everything was covered in mud and sand, and I made it my goal of the day not to eat too much of it. I probably lost more fluids in spit than in sweat over the course of my ride. I was pretty miserable for a while out there and thought of so many reasons why I should turn around and go home, but I persevered. I rode The Big Nasty 4 times, squeezing my brakes with everything I had each time, afraid of what would happen if I slipped on the wet roads going more than 30 miles per hour. My bike squeaked and creaked with every shift. The chain lube had long washed off and had replaced by sheer grit. By the end of the ride, it took some crafty work to get it to shift at all. Around mile 60, one of my aerobar rests died. They are spring loaded so I can lean down on them or put my hands under them when I’m not in aero, but one of the thousands of bumps in the county road must’ve been the last straw. It ended up in the down position, floppy and lifeless, but it still worked so I pressed on. Around mile 80, I realized that there was no way I would fit in a full 112. My average MPH was actually higher than last week’s, even with the wind, the rain, and 4 trips up Big Nasty. I had a near miss with an overzealous car turning left earlier in the week, though, and didn’t want to take another gamble. I decided to go for 107. By the time I hit 2 miles from home, there wasn’t a glimmer of daylight left. On the last 1/2 mile pedaling toward my house, I knew something didn’t feel right. Sure enough. I was halfway to a flat rear tire by the time I reached my front steps.

106.5 miles of hills.
One very squeaky bike that refuses to shift on command.
A flat, floppy arm rest for my aerobars.
Over 8 hours of rain.
A heck of a cold day.
A flat on my Gatorskins (that's only happened one other time in 3 years).

Despite all of it, my attitude for the day was actually pretty good! I took my bike to the LBS yesterday, absolutely embarrassed for anyone to see her in this condition. I know they’ll take good care of her, though. Turns out that in addition to the aerobar, the tire, the overdue chain, and the general servicing due, my rear hub has also come loose. She’ll be there for 4 days :( I just hope she comes out of it OK and that we can still be friends. I’ll need her help again in under 3 weeks!
by | | 4 comments
How Do You Get Over a Bad Swim?

You go for an amazingly fast bike ride! Steve and I tried out a local outdoor 50M pool a couple of days ago. It wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was imagining the sun on my back, a crystal clear pool, cool calm water, and no ladies on noodles. Bear with me people. I'm used to the indoor Y, and my last outdoor pool experience was at a posh hotel's adult only pool in Florida. Reality check: the locker room smelled a lot like pee, the pool was full of leaves, huge pool monkeys, and other random chunks, there was still a water aerobics class taking up half the pool, and the water was really choppy. I'm not sure if the choppiness was coming from the wind, the aerobics class, the other swimmers, or a combo of all 3, but I felt like I was going to drown for most of my swim (side note - I'm used to choppy water. I just wasn't expecting it in a pool). It was one of the worst swims I've ever had. It was a good mental toughener, though, which is exactly why I'll be going back next week.

Right after the swim, I went on a beautifully flat ride with my brother Matt. Those pedaling legs I wasn't gifted with apparently went to him. The guy is a machine. I struggled to keep up with him a bit, but I wanted to get in a good fast ride, so I pedaled my butt off instead of begging him to slow down. I cheated a little on the way back and drafted behind his 225 pound frame. Wish I could take him out to MOO with me. He makes an amazing draft! We were pulling 18-22 mph most of the ride, which is probably average for most people on the bike, but for me that usually requires a downhill of some sort. I love going fast! If only I could do it all of the time. Back to my hilly course this weekend...sigh. At least I can get some speed heading down those nasty hills!
by | | 7 comments
I Did The Big Nasty Three Times hill that is. I found out that its official name is Myrtle Hill, but I think The Big Nasty is more fitting. It's the type of hill that you have to ride your brakes all the way down for fear of death (especially since it takes you straight into downtown Stillwater), and on the way up, you feel like you'll die for a different reason. It's practically straight up, and it's 0.6 miles long. Every time I went up it, my average dropped about 0.3 MPH. We won't talk about what my average was at the end of day.

Thursday was my big ride of the week. It was my comp day for working last weekend, and since I had family coming to town this weekend, I thought it would be a better day for a ride. Ninety-five degrees and humid are perfect conditions for 106 miles of solid hills, no? Well, apparently not for me. I had a few nutrition issues, which is out of my norm and could only manage a meager 2 mile run after it was over. I was afraid that I was drinking too much on the bike, but when I weighed myself when I got home, I was 2 pounds down. I think I need to rework the enduralytes and water plan for next weekend's 112 miler. I I'll be doing the same course with another loop to hit up Big Nasty 4 times. The whole darn ride is hills, but I know I'll need it in 4 weeks.

Last night Steph and I went on a 20 mile run. I wore my GPS but kept having to mentally recalculate how far we'd gone because the miles flew by. My body felt like it normally does after hitting the pavement for that long, but mentally, it was the easiest run of my summer. Today I have that calm sense of quiet peace that comes with a physically tiring workout. And for some reason, soreness after running is my favorite kind. Maybe it's because it's the most familiar. I've been doing long runs for longer than I've been doing long bikes or swims or weightlifting. Even though it hurts, it feels good in some weird twisted way, more than just a "I must have gotten in a great workout yesterday" kind of way. I'm pretty sure this makes me crazy.

Other highlights of the week: Monday's 3 mile swim went really well, aside from the foot cramps that plagued me off and on. Does anyone else get these?

Last week of full training! This both excites and petrifies me. Parts of me know that I'm ready, but parts of me could use, oh, say another 4 months or so. I remember being at this point last year, having put in the training and going over the "what ifs". I guess you just never really know until you've crossed the finish line.
by | | 9 comments
My 9/11

I know that the two don't even compare, I really do. Cerebrally I can distinguish thousands of people being lost and injured in a terrorist attack against our whole country from (likely) structural collapse of the busiest bridge in my city. I know the difference between the meanings of the two events, between the scale of the two events, between the outcome of the two events. But my heart aches the same way today as it did nearly six years ago.

Ironically, I was on a workout when I found out about both tragedies. I was a mile from home in 2001, just wrapping up a nine miler before class - training for my second marathon. A woman outside a coffee shop told me to go home and turn on my TV. Last night my brother Matt and I were on a great bike ride when we passed an electronic billboard that stated that the I-35W bridge had collapsed into the river during rush hour. When we got home, we found 8 missed calls on his cell phone - worried family and friends. Every channel on TV had the same story. Coverage of the rescue efforts, speculation on the cause, descriptions of the injuries, and the death toll flooded our living room. I watched till I decided I shouldn't anymore and went to bed. We woke up this morning to Matt Lauer reporting from our city. Dozens of reporters were presenting the news outside the hospital where I work. It all seemed so surreal. When I worked up my patients, I actually only had a few from last night's horrific accident. Their injuries are no different than the injuries I see every day, but they somehow seem different. I can't explain it.

The pictures and stories and buzzing rumors are everywhere. I try separate myself from them like I do with all of the rest of the news that spews out of my TV and radio. This time, though, I can't. It's in my backyard. I was just running under that bridge a week ago on my long run. I biked by it a few days ago. The news won't stop telling me how many bodies are estimated to be at the bottom of the river. Those people are members of my city, my community.

It's not just the now that has me sad and anxious. An estimated 100,000-200,000 cars cross that bridge each day. Where will all of those cars go? I'm starting to worry whether I will still be able to get to work ok. The new detour will take cars a mile from my home, a route that is already chronically clogged, and the rebuilding will take years. If you don't live in or near a town built along a large body of water, it's hard to imagine just how vital these bridges are to our entire infrastructure as a community.

So as the stories of death and survival and searching and rebuilding and friends and family and community continue to surface, I've decided that it's ok to be sad today. Tonight, though, I'm shutting off my TV and going for a run.
by | | 3 comments
Check In

It was with a heavy heart that I came in to work today, especially since I work on a trauma unit. Many of you have heard about the tragedy of one of our major bridges collapsing during rush hour. Just wanted everybody to know that Steve and I and our families are all safe, but please keep our community in your thoughts and prayers.
by | | 6 comments
I Have No Bike Legs

When I was growing up, a hobby of my family was to participate in kid's pedal tractor pulls. It's basically where they slap a bunch of weight behind pedal tractors of various sizes to accommodate different age groups. The weight moves up the ramp, so it gets progressively heavier. Whichever kid in that age group pulls it the farthest wins. They gave out trophies for the top three finishers in each age group. I never won a stinkin' trophy. The closest I ever came was 4th, and that was usually if there were 4 or 5 participants. My 4 other siblings all won trophies at nearly every event. They all qualified for the state match. Steph and Matt even made it to the national and international meets. It was a pretty big deal. But me? I had to settle for the free can of Dr. Pepper for participating. Every. Single. Time. I am reminded of that today. I don't think I'm genetically programmed to have pedaling strength.

My half Ironman race at Chisago this weekend actually went pretty well. I went into it just hoping to finish around last year's time. I was secretly hoping for at least a little PR, but like I've said, this year's training has not been the same volume as last year. Well, I did PR - by nearly 15 minutes. I have been feeling pretty good about it until today when the official race results came in. My Place? 63 out of 68 women (74 if you count DNFs). I am darn slow in triathlon. Now I've never been fast, but in running races I can usually finish somewhere in the middle. Don't get me wrong. I've never gone out to win a race and found out a long time ago that I cannot compare myself to anyone but myself. Holy cow, though. I had the second slowest bike split of all the women, even though I cut 6 minutes off last year's bike time. So... Here's the lowdown:

Before The Race:
I looked in all of the local bike and run retailers for a suitable tri outfit since I have never owned one. In the past I have either done the whole tri in my swimsuit or changed in transition. After sifting through limited selection in St. Paul, I made the trek out to Gear West, where of course they had plenty of clothes to chose from. I found a great pair of shorts that did not make my legs look like sausages and a top that actually covered my belly button while giving me the extra support I need for the girls. Bonus: I thought I actually looked pretty good in it.

Steve and I got up the morning of the race bright and early at about 0400. He went to work putting our bikes on the car while I filled up the water bottles and lined up anything we hadn't packed the night before. We enjoyed early morning booty music and good conversation during the car ride, and before we knew it, we were in Chisago City. We checked in, set up transition, and joined the masses waiting for the swim start.

The Swim:
Last year, the water was so choppy that I couldn't see they buoys. We swam in a gigantic triangle and I must have swallowed a gallon of water. This year, there were no white caps on the water. I was actually pretty smooth. It was an out and back, which I had never done before in a tri, but it's my new favorite as far as swim courses go. Total swim time: 47:50. Still lots of room for improvement here, but I'm fairly happy with it.

I threw on my stuff, including an extra pair of bike shorts and my top, and I was off: 3:33.7 later.

The Bike:
I got passed by quite literally everybody on the bike, especially since I started in wave 2 of 6. I ate more than I ever have on the bike, but I was still hungry. I managed to consume 3 packages of Cliff Shot Bloks, 1 pack of fig newtons, my entire water bottle containing 7 scoops of Carbo Pro and 2 scoops of Gatorade, 3 bottles of water, and some Enduralytes. I have never eaten that much on the bike before, but like I said I was hungry. I have said before that this course is fairly comparable to IMMOO, although it is a little easier. It's never really flat and has a couple of pretty descent hills. Parts of the road were TERRIBLE. I remembered them from last year - the road is so rough that you can never really get into a rhythm because you're always bracing yourself. Overall I had a really good bike. I kept a good cadence and was singing to myself for the last mile (the Gambler by Kenny Rogers if you must know). I'm sure I could have gone faster. I just don't know how much faster before totally hashing my legs.

Off came the bike shorts, on went the running shoes, and I was out: 1:22.1.

The Run:
I started the run feeling a little crampy in my abdomen, and that feeling took a while to go away. It may very well have been all the food I ate on the bike, but I never felt nauseated, just like I had to back off a tad. I knew I was on track to PR over last year's time, so I tried to keep it in gear. I saw Rural Girl for the first time of the day when she had just a couple of miles left. She looked great! I found Steve on his way in a few more miles down the road. He looked spectacular too. He said that his knee was a little sore, but I knew he was going to make it well under 6, the time he expected to come in. We exchanged a smooch and didn't see each other again till the finish line. Turns out I missed seeing Iron Jenny and a few other bloggers out there too. I did stop for 3 minutes to walk halfway through the run to get rid of a little stomach sloshing. I also walked through the water stops. There was ice at nearly stop, and boy did I take advantage of it! I had it everywhere - under my hat, in my sports bra, eating it. It was heavenly! I finished fairly strong. Total run time: 2:18.39, 5 minutes slower than my half mary earlier this season.

Comparison To Last Year (my only other HIM):

Chisago Lakes 2006:
Swim: 50:18
T1: 3:53
Bike: 3:41
T2: 2:25
Run: 2:23
Total: 7:01.59

Chisago Lakes 2007:
Swim: 47:50 PR
T1: 3:33 PR
Bike: 3:35 PR
T2: 1:22 PR
Run: 2:18 PR
Total: 6:47.10 PR

Steve and me after the finish sporting our medals.

The Aftermath:
Well it seems that although I loaded up on sunscreen, I still got crispified. I have been wearing a sports bra to work for two days now because my burns are worst over my shoulder blades where my top came in. Steve and I enjoyed a glorious 45 minute nap after we got home from the race, and then I got to work cooking. I knew that with our race, Steph's 18 mile run, and my brother Matt's 40 mile bike ride, we'd be a hungry bunch. So I made a double batch of sweet and sour chicken with rice, pasta salad, 14 ears of sweetcorn, a turkey tenderloin, and washed up a couple of pounds of grapes. Time it took to all get eaten: 36 hours.

IM Moo, here we come!
by | | 8 comments
Um, Eww

So I don't normally get grossed out. I am a healthcare professional, and as such, my lunches usually consist of discussing topics involving parasites, bodily fluids, or worse. I see and smell things on a daily basis that would leave many people scarred for life. So when I head to the local Y to swim, not much grosses me out there, either. Now I'm not talking about the sights in the locker room. However unpleasant, the naked elderly ladies who just finished their water aerobics class are nothing I haven't seen before. The slimey floor under my feet often prompts me to wear my sandles in the shower, but I can deal with that. The pool monkeys (those gigantic clumps of hair that lurk at the bottom of the pool and follow you till they wrap themselves around your fingers)... well the pool monkeys aren't my friends, but I suppose they're just a part of swimming pools. The other day, however, when I thought I saw a small turd float into my lane, well, that was my tipping point.

I couldn't tell exactly what it was at first. It was small (about the size of a marble) and sort of round. It was staying put for the most part. I tried to ignore it. I told myself that it must be something else. My goggles are getting pretty old and scratched, so I can't see the best. I swam another lap. It was still there, sitting at the bottom. A huge groupe of little kids in the lane next to me got and out and left. I knew I wouldn't be able to finish my workout wondering what the heck it was, so I called the lifeguard's name. She handed me a small net and I scooped it out. I still couldn't tell what it was at first - a rock maybe? I prayed that it wasn't a turd. I handed the net to her. She made the final diagnosis - a bandaid, rolled up really funny. Whew! False alarm! Bandaids do not gross me out. There's lots of them in the bottom of our pool, especially during the summer. I finished my swim and headed home.
by | | 7 comments
My Version of WIBA

If you want to read a really great recap of WIBA 07, head to Steve's or Wil's or Rural Girl's blogs. They've got some great pictures and awesome descriptions of the weekend. Steve put most of our pics on his site, so if you want to see our wetsuit Christmas card worthy picture (amongst others), head on over there. Been working on this post for over a week now. 'Bout darn time I get it up.

I have to admit that I was more than a little nervous heading out to WIBA, for lots of reasons. As I mentioned in my last post, my training hasn't been as strong as I had hoped it to be by this time. I'm certainly not ahead of last year's training and in fact may be a little behind in comparison. Also, being one of WIBA's first year crew, I just didn't think it would be the same. I'm usually more of a small group get to know everybody kind of person. I knew WIBA would be big this year. I just couldn't fathom how big. Steve and made it to dinner just a little late Friday evening (still had to put in a full day at work), but once we got there, my worries started to fade. Our group was HUGE but familiar faces like Tri Al, Wil, Stu, Robby B, and Thomps stood out right away. I also recognized other bloggers from pictures but always feel like a stalker introducing myself, so I waited till Saturday to meet a lot of those folks. We got to sit by some amazing people from Bloomington, IL, and I was quickly reminded that this one thing called Ironman is an instant bond maker. Suddenly our huge group wasn't so scary, and by bedtime Friday night, I was really looking forward to Saturday's swim and ride.

Saturday morning came sooner than I would have liked, but we were up bright and early to squeeze into our wetsuits. We got to meet Taconite Boy at the swim. I was afraid of looking like a stalker introducing myself, something like, "Yeah, you're Tac Boy, right? Um, yeah, I've read your blog." But he was totally cool. Soon Steve, Wil and I jumped into the water and had an amazing time swimming stroke for stroke with each other. Of course we did have to take a few seconds here and there for a good laugh and to make sure our fellow swimmers weren't getting picked off by the ski team practicing a little too nearby. Then it was on to T1!. A little creative changing in the parking ramp helped to prevent Run Bubba Run from seeing a little of Pharmie than he needed to. Before we knew it, we were heading down the ramp toward the rest of the group. The next time I bike down that ramp will be during Ironman. Only 8 weeks away! Steve and I had decided to go with the 72 mile group right away. We didn't know how his knee or my training would hold up, and we were more out to see the course and have a little fun than kill ourselves in the heat. Our group started out really small (only 4 of us decided to do the 72 miler), but it turned out that most of the big group ended up just going 72 anyway. The heat and the hills got to 'em.

My mini group started out as Steve, Thomps, and Widget. I'm not sure if it was because I was the only female, lack of training, or the fact that I'm just plain slow and steady, but I just couldn't cut it with those guys. I tried and I tried, but I was killing myself to barely keep up with their "easy" pace, and even then they were stopping to wait for me. I'm usually the waiter, not the waitee, and for me, it was humiliating. After I told him multiple times, Steve and the guys finally dropped me at around mile 30. I met up with Run Bubba Run and his friend Pam soon after that, but I really couldn't keep up with them either, so I told them to go on. I think Bubba was appalled that Steve would have left me. Honestly, though, I actually felt better once they had all gone. I could finally make it my ride, just enjoying the hills and meeting up with other bikers here and there. I finally got to meet Triteacher, who is just as sweet in person as she is on her blog. I also got to meet a great guy named Mike from the Twin Cities who is training for IM Moo. I had sort of thought that this weekend would be a make or break for me, but it was really neither. It just reaffirmed that I need to kick it into gear even more in these last two months. Steve and I met up at the end of our ride and just went for a one mile run. It was hot and I was in great need of a shower. Day 2 accomplished. We met up with the group at the Great Dane for supper, where Steve proceeded to eat his famous "man burger" with pizza for dessert. I stuck with the sensible fish, vegetables, and rice. The hotel had fresh cookies waiting when we got back, and we both ate those too. Delicious!

Sunday we met up with the group fairly early to try to beat the heat. I ended up running with Wil and Chris Sweet's wife Cara. I can only hope to look like her when I'm 5 months' pregnant someday! The three of us ran together for a while through the early morning streets of Madison before Cara stopped at her car. Wil and I ran together for a while longer and just talked about life and Ironman. It was great to have her there. I can't wait to tow the line with her again on September 9. She put so much work into the weekend along with Stu and Robby B, and it turned out fabulous. WIBA 2007 was another success!

Funny as it sounds, WIBA weekend was a very much needed vacation, even with all of those workouts. For two whole days, I slept, ate well, got to spend some alone time with Steve, and didn't think about remodeling houses, selling houses, paying bills, finishing residencies, starting a new job, or squeezing in my training. I left all of those thoughts on the course, where they belong. It also rejuvenated my training. I know what I have to do to get this done again. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a 2 hour bike ride planned...
by | | 7 comments
Race Report and Confessions

So… What’s in been, like six weeks? I owe anyone who still stops by to see if I’m breathing now and then an apology. I won’t make excuses. First, I guess I’m long overdue for a race report… New Prague Half Marathon. May 12. This was the first race that I’ve run with my sis, Steph, since we did a 5k around 3 years ago. As I mentioned in my pre-race report, I wasn’t going for time. We just wanted to have fun. Plus, I am slow as molasses lately. It was proving to be a gorgeous day as we checked and put on our numbers, and it didn’t take us long to start spotting familiar faces. We saw four different people from our high school there. Turns out my class’s track star is getting pretty big on the local running scene (he ended up placing second with a time of 1:09.25!). I made my customary few trips to the porta potties, so when I felt like I had to pee at the beginning of the race, I chalked it up to nerves. After the start, I realized that I indeed have to go again, so I kept my eyes peeled for another porta potty. Turns out there wasn’t one. I looked for bushes. It was a rural course with lots of hills. Nothing. Since it was just early May, there wasn’t even a cornfield to duck into! By mile 7, I felt my eyeballs floating and couldn’t think about much else, so I when I spotted a potty sitting at the side of the road, I thought it was a mirage. I was in luck! It was the only one on the course, and I had to wait 2 minutes (a long time in a half), but it was SO worth it. Steph and I finished strong. Our splits:
12:25 (bathroom stop)

Total time: 2:13.29. Average around 10:16 a mile (just about exactly 10 without the BR stop). The only time I have to compare it to was the half I ran there in 2003, when my time was 1:56.44 with an average of 8:55. Am I settling for mediocrity now? Maybe, but four years ago was a very different time in my life. Someday I’ll go for PRs again. Just not this year. To end a great race with super fun company, we moved 4 Uhauls full of stuff to our new house. I could hardly walk by the end of the night. Oh, and the race shirts? Not ugly! They’re a nice dark grey with blue writing – way cuter than the day-glow yellow ones they gave out a few years ago.

So other confessions… There are lots of reasons I haven’t been writing. I've still been quietly lingering at most of my favorite sites but totally slacking on my own blogging. I have been super busy, but I think deep down, I don’t really want to talk about my training. I had all of these expectations for my Ironman this year. I was going to start my training really early. I was going to get super fast. I was going to set myself up for a great big PR. I knew when I signed up for this one that it would be a challenge. I’d be smack dab in the middle of my residency. Steve and I would be buying a house. I just hoped that my superwoman powers would overcome all of these potential obstacles. I can blame my consistent 10-14 hour days at work. I can say that my many of my long bike rides aren’t happening because I’ve been working weekends that some days are so mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining that I missed my exit off the freeway to get home, and when I did get there could hardly muster the energy to talk, much less get off the couch. I could blame moving, remodeling, and all of the deadlines associated with both of those as affecting the training. The truth is, though, I just blame myself. None of these should matter. I am an Ironman, and I want to make it all happen again. I know I’m not really far from where I was at this time last year, and I have gotten in some really quality workouts, but like I said, I want to be better than I was at this time last year. I don’t want to show up at WIBA in a couple of weeks and look like a total dork who just can’t cut it.

There will be no race report from the Liberty Half Ironman. I skipped it. Mentally, I knew I could do it. If I can run a marathon a couple of weeks after IMMOO with pneumonia, I can convince my body to complete a half IM, even without being in peak physical condition. I elected not to, though, because I wanted to get in a longer bike ride. I also managed a couple of other quality workouts and lots of house stuff, so I don’t regret it. It was my first DNS, though, and it makes me sad to think about it. I’m sure with decades more of racing to do, there will be more DNS for various reasons, but I’m not the type of person who is OK with signing up for things and then backing out.

Booked our hotel for WIBA today. It’s going to be a blast. I can’t wait to see last year’s crowd and meet some new bloggy friends! Training has been patchy but not terrible. I guess we’ll see how I’ve been doing when I get back on those hills!

Residency is over in 10 days!!! Yahoo!!! You know, not like I’m counting or anything. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, but the truth is, I’m ready. I’m ready to be making a full salary. I’m ready to not have to report to my preceptors. I’m ready to join my new team. The fact that I’m staying at the same hospital makes it all that much easier. I have learned so much this year. It’s amazing to look back and think where I was at this time last year (waiting to see if I had passed boards, scared to death of being on my own). I’ve come a long way, baby.
by | | 8 comments
Race Week!

Well, make that "Run 13.1 miles with my sister and a bunch of other people." We've been squeezing in long runs every week, including last week's Run for the Cheese run, where we all but sprinted at the end to get to the grocery store. I was craving smoked string cheese for three days beforehand, and by mile 14, I may have broken into the store had we not made it in time. Thankfully, Steph humored me, and we made it to the store with a few minutes to spare. I believe that the best line of the night came at one of our water stops when she told me that if I wanted cheese, I'd better focus.

Anyway, the half marathon this weekend should be tons of fun. No time goals. Just want to have fun... The runners are great, it's a good hilly course, and the race T-shirts are known for their special ugliness. I may have to post pictures!
by | | 8 comments

So the 60 hour work weeks with family time in between has kept me busy. Training for IM #2 and buying a house have more than filled up any extra time I may have thought I had. Blogging has taken a back seat. Actually, it's more like dragging somewhere behind the car by now. My house is a disaster, as is to be expected with moving, but it's driving me crazy. I am feeling behind on absolutely everything, so when I went to the Y last night, I finally listened to the signs.

I got there, ready for my 3200 M swim that was planned. I undressed and headed for the shower. Goggles? Check. Towel? Check Swim cap? Uh oh. It somehow managed to crawl out of my bag. In 4 years of swimming regularly, I have never forgotten my swim cap. It's always in my bag, and I can't imagine swimming without one. I thought for a second. I could buy one at the front desk for $5. I could run home and get one of the many I have as backup. My house is only 3/4 mile away. It would only take about 10 minutes to go home and come back. Then I had a realization. Someone was trying to tell me something. Maybe there was a reason I shouldn't hop in the water. I took it as a sign. I skipped the swim and went home to do a little Pharmie upkeep. A bikini wax, pedicure, and leg shave later, I am now ready to head back to the pool. Sometimes it takes divine intervention...
by | | 10 comments
When Two Triathletes Buy a House

Yep, I’ve got houses on the brain right now. It’s funny to think at how being triathletes influenced our purchase. So for a little fun, I’ve come up with a few ways to spot a triathlete homebuyer:

1. Their new house is not more than ½ mile from a bike path, which leads to LOTS of other bike paths.
2. There is also a really nice area for running nearby – grass trails on a beautiful boulevard one way and a college track the other.
3. The house is not too far from the YWCA (where they practically live anyway).
4. Every house they looked at required a close inspection of the basement to ensure adequate bike storage.
5. The clothesline in the basement made them really excited. They finally have someplace to dry wetsuits and swimsuits.
6. The garage has plenty of room for doing bike repairs.
7. In designing their new kitchen, they are ecstatic to finally have a cupboard for large tubs of CarboPro, water bottles, and their giant container of gels, powders, and bars.
8. After those long Sunday training rides, the new porch with its soon-to-be added hammock will be perfect for a little nap.
9. The living room’s fireplace (which will be converted to flip-the-switch gas) will be nice and toasty – perfect for keeping away those post-exercise winter chillies.
10. On really intense weeks where a special treat is warranted (or even if it’s not – who am I kidding?), there’s a homemade ice cream shop just 3 blocks away.
11. There's now an extra bedroom for bloggy friends to come and stay (or family, or friends who live close by and for some strange reason can't seem to drive themselves home). If you're planning to visit the Twin Cities area anytime after May, let us know!

by | | 7 comments
I'm Not Dead. I'm Just...Moving

In case you’ve been wondering, I did not fall into a Robin Egg Induced coma. One and a half bags proved to be enough to fully kick the cravings. I’m sure that come Easter, the cravings will be back in full force, though :)

Work has been busy as usual. I’m back in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the next two months, and since my preceptor was out of town until today, I have been running the show. Quick public service announcement – people – WEAR YOUR HELMETS! We see so many bicyclists and motorcyclists who haven’t been helmeted, and the results are often devastating. Just like seatbelts, helmets don’t always protect people, but they’re the best we’ve got, so for goodness’ sake, wear them. OK. I’m off my soapbox now. It’s just getting to be that season, and it makes me so angry sometimes… My big residency project is still hanging over my head like a nasty black cloud. I’m secretly hoping it will do itself since I will not have time in the foreseeable future. ARRG!

The big reason I’ve gone MIA? Steve and I bought a house. It all happened so fast that our heads are still spinning. We won’t officially be moving for another 5 weeks or so, but there’s still a lot to do in the meantime. We got pre-approved for our mortgage on a Thursday, started looking on a Friday, and put in an offer that Monday. Yeah. I told you it was fast. The past 2 weeks have been spent on the phone and computer with mortgage people, realtors, phone company, electric company, insurance agents, etc, etc, etc. So if I’m a little behind on the blog side of things (which I very much am), I apologize. We love the new place though. It’s only a couple of miles from where we live now. We’ll have more space for Steve’s studio, us in general, and our bikes – yeah! Now Tony won’t have to sleep in our living room. He can live in our new basement with the rest of our bikes.

Training? Oh yeah. I sort of forgot about that. It’s starting to make me a little nervous. It seems that everyone else training for IMWI is way ahead of me. I know that I’m at about the same place that I was this time last year, but I had hoped to be a little further ahead of schedule this year. My half mary is 4 ½ weeks away. My first 1/2 Ironman is just 7 weeks away, and I’m just trying not to think about being in Ironman shape quite yet.

I got in two really fabulous workouts last week. Both of them were the direct result of having someone to share them with. My first was on Tuesday when my bud Maddy made the trip over so we could have a run together. We don’t get to much anymore since her job is actually by her house now. It was just like old times. We talked about our jobs, updated each other on what’s going on with our friends, and just reveled in the fact that we were out there together again. It poured rain. Cold Ironman Wisconsin 2006 bouts of rain. We had to wring out our clothes 4 miles later. Steve had to meet us at the door with towels to avoid drowning the house, but none of it mattered. The dread for workouts that I’ve been experiencing lately completely disappeared. That night, I went to bed absolutely happy.

On Thursday, Steph got home from work early, and even though she had been hacking up a lung with this nasty cold she caught, she decided to join me on my long run. She said she’d go about 3 with me and then I could drop her off and keep going. At the halfway point for 5, she decided to keep going. At the halfway point for 7, we stopped to get a drink and turn around. I figured I’d drop her off at home after 7, but we got there, and she decided to keep going. Nine miles together on one of those beautiful breezy evenings in the dark. It felt like 3, and her cold’s been disappearing ever since. I started to wonder if maybe I’m not as out of shape as I’ve been telling myself.

My times in the pool have also been improving. I think I’ve managed to cut off about 4-5 minutes per mile this winter, and that feels good. I’ve still got a LONG way to go, but I’m much better than I was this time last year. Now if I could just get in more time on my bike…
by | | 10 comments

Achille's Heel

Everyone has one – one big food weakness. I have lots of them. There’s one food, though, that really gets to me. I’ll eat them till they make me sick, and then I’ll eat them some more. I can’t help myself.

I have given candy up for Lent every year since I can remember. It really is a sacrifice for me. The problem is that many Catholics have “The Sunday Rule” during Lent where on Sundays, you can get a short break from giving that thing up. So… I tend to more than make up for the candy I didn’t eat during the week, and come Easter, watch out… Well, this year I tried an experiment. I decided that for Lent, I am not giving anything up. Instead, I am going to pray more throughout the day. Since I didn’t give up candy, it is just a special reminder of all of the gifts God has given me.

For the first time in years, these are available for me to eat before Easter, and I am out of control.
by | | 13 comments
Random Life Updates

First of all, I want to congratulate Mikie's team for getting THIRD PLACE in the state tournament. We got creamed on Friday night's match against Frazee. They just outwrestled us. There were a few questionable reffing calls, but mostly they were just a great team. So on Saturday morning, we were up against the #3 rated team for 3rd/4th place. It was back and forth the whole time. The crowd went really wild when Mike tied up the match as the second to last wrestler. As it has many times this year, it came down to our heavyweight. He was up against the guy who pinned him in round 1 of individuals. Our guy got the pin in the first period. The entire cheering section went nuts. My voice is finally back today, but boy was it gone! Over the weekend, my father-in-law suggested that I should be on the other end of a 1-900 number. Think Rachel Ray but deeper and without quite as much pep.

I decided that there will be no workout today. I have been trying to configure my training plan all week, and this afternoon, I realized that I could keep my Wednesday off. I can switch Saturday's long bike ride and Thursday's long run and still get them both in. By the time I'm done with work on the weekends, the Y is closed, and without access to a trainer, there's no access to a bike. It's supposed to warm up this weekend, so maybe some of the ice will melt and I'll be able to bike outside soon. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Meanwhile, our Y just got all new spinning bikes. I can't tell you how excited I am. The old ones were rusty, unpredictable, and offered very few adjustment options (they never quite fit me right because the handles could only adjust up and down, not forward and backward).

Only 4 more months of 12 days on, 2 off! Good thing, too, because I am feeling pretty burned out. My residency will officially be over at the end of June. Hopefully then I'll be able to move to every 3rd or every 4th weekend, and when I do work, I will get days off during the week. Yahoo! Speaking of work, I now officially have a job lined up for after residency. Now we can (maybe) afford our triathlon habit!
by | | 4 comments
Proud Sister

I’d like to interrupt this regularly scheduled triathlon blog post to talk a bit about a completely different sport – wrestling. My “little” (he wrestles 215) brother’s team, the United South Central Rebels, is currently at the MN state meet, and I’ve caught wrestling fever!

Our Team

I’ve always thought that there’s something to be said about high school and D3 sports, where the tickets are cheap, you know most of the team, and the kids are there because they want to be; because they love the sport.

My high school alma mater beat their rivals by 1 point at the section meet, relying on a pin by our heavyweight. They’re now at the state meet as the little team that few people have ever heard of. Although they made it last year too, they were a very young team and got a little “deer in the headlights syndrome.” They got stomped.

Wednesday was our first meet. It didn’t’ start off on a good note. We were down 11-0 after our first 2 matches. Slowly but steadily, we caught up to them, and we ended up winning 39-20 thanks to 3 pins at the end. As a proud sister, I have to brag that Mike’s pin at 215 clinched the meet. Our heavyweight just got to go out there and have some fun. The fact that he pinned his guy too was just an added bonus. I cheered so loud that I gave myself a headache!

Mike with his winning pin

Yesterday our 5 individuals had their matches. Two of them got beat. Mike got beat, too, but since that guy went on to win his next match, Mike’s back in it today. The other two guys won two matches apiece and will be in the semifinals tonight. Woo Hoo!

Tonight we’ll have our work cut out for us. We’re up against #2 rated Frazee (#1 rated Canby actually got bumped out in the first round). We’re the definite underdogs, but since no one knows who we are, no one knows what we’re capable of!

by | | 10 comments
Now I've Really Seen Everything

In my over a decade of exercising and competing in races, I have seen a lot of crazy thing, but my spinning class last night ranks right up there with them. One of the ladies in the class was knitting. Yes, I said knitting. I guess you're still getting some of the workout in with the leg movements, and it was an endurance ride, but still. I'm afraid I'm turning into a workout snob, but I really don't think it was appropriate. Am I wrong?
by | | 7 comments

The Donnings of a Minnesota Runner

Boy have I had some extremes in apparel in the last couple of weeks!

Two weeks ago, we were having “high” temperatures in the range of 0 degrees here in Minnesota, not counting the wind chill. So just for the heck of it, I decided to make a post out of all the clothes I was slapping on.

Here’s the list:

- Enell sports bra – hideously ugly but amazingly supportive.
- White tank top, tucked into my tights to avoid the updraft
- Thick long-sleeved technical shirt
- Thick long-sleeved technical shirt with a half zipper, just in case I need a little ventilation.
- Two pairs of spandex tights
- Smartwool socks. They’re like little massages on my feet while I’m running.
- Ski mask to keep as little skin exposed as possible
- Ear band on the outside of my ski mask for additional coverage on my ears and forehead.
- Running shoes
- Watch
- Mittens
- Reflective vest. It still gets dark very early here.

Wouldn’t you know, after 20 minutes of getting dressed, I had to pee. Then I redressed, retucked, and headed out. I was a little chilly for the first mile but the next 7 actually felt pretty good. It was afterward that I had a problem.

You can't really see it, but there are icicles on my eyelashes.
I had to lock myself in our bathroom in front of a heater drinking hot chocolate for 45 minutes before I started to warm up. Those post running chillies are a be-otch!

Fast forward one week. Orlando is having a cold spell, the chilliest it’s been in a long while: record lows. It was in the low 50s when I got there for my business conference, but it warmed up to 80 by our last day. I totally took advantage of it! I ran every day there, except for the one where I did a long swim in an outdoor pool. It felt so good to run free, and it’s unbelievably easier to get dressed when you only need shorts and a tank top. I ran 6,8, and 4 miles in the sunshine and even got a little pink on my shoulders. I came to the conclusion that my recent funk really has been the lack of sun and the crappy cold weather. Can’t wait for spring…

by | | 14 comments
The Benefits of "Grab Bag" Swimwear

In the last 2 months or so, I've given a lot of blog time to First I wrote about the gigantic purchase I made there. Then I wrote about Steph's ugly suit. I really do love the company. They've always treated me great. I've recommended them to lots of people, and yesterday, they made a lifer out of me.

I got home to find that a package came in the mail. I was at first a little confused since I hadn't ordered anything. Then I looked, saw that the sender was, and became really confused. I opened the package and found two swim suits with this letter inside:

Dear Sarah, would like to thank you for being such a loyal customer. We were utterly enthused by your recent blog post "The Dangers of 'Grab Bag' Swimwear" and we would like to express our gratitude for your excellent coverage on the suit, regardless if "crazy, cool, hot" isn't so cool. As a token of our appreciation, we have enclosed an XD Skin for you and our very own ClubSwim lap suit for Stephanie.

They sent me a $100 rockin' suit. I cannot wait to try it out, and needless to say, Steph's new suit is super cute! I never expected to get anything out of that post (except for maybe a laugh). I knew that with the grab bag, you are just supposed to expect a size and a brand. The print is up to them, so we never complained to the company. I cannot believe that they did this. I've been smiling for the last 2 days. Now that's great customer service!
by | | 5 comments
Tagged Times Two

I’ve been double tagged! First of all, can I just say that taxes totally suck when you actually have to pay? The last couple of years, we’ve had easy street since one or both of were grad students. This year, we could only claim 1/2 of a year of student-dom for me, so we had very few deductions. The damage? Not only did it cost us over 400 dollars to get our taxes prepared (we have a LOT of W-2’s, student loan forms, and there’s Steve’s home business stuff), but we actually had to pay in an extra 2000 dollars. Ouch. Definitely no bike shopping spree this year.

So… The first tag was to describe 6 weird things about me.

1. I love to go grocery shopping. I find it relaxing. I think it all stems back to my time in undergrad when I was really broke. Grocery shopping was one thing I never had to feel guilty about. Hey, you gotta eat, right? Also, I’m a huge coupon freak. I saved over 45 dollars on our last grocery bill.

2. I have never taken a puff on a cigarette or used any illicit drugs. I don’t think I’ll be starting anytime soon.

3. I have been riding a bike since I was 6 years old. I have competed in numerous triathlons. I am an Ironman, but I still cannot pop a wheelie to get up onto a curb.

4. I have a strange tendency to get goosebumps on only one side of my body at a time. It usually happens when I get a funny kiss on my cheek or a nuzzle to my neck. It also happens when Ella the Cat sticks her wet nose in my ear.

5. Up until my sophomore year of high school, I thought that running was only for people being chased. I first started running to get through the mile we would have to run for PE that spring. I guess it stuck.

6. I am a dog person. My first marathon training partner was my parents’ dog. She ran a couple of 15 milers with me. I cannot wait to have a dog to train with again sometime. Since we don’t really have the time or space for an 80 pound dog right now, we got two cats and trained them to be dogs. They now greet us at the door when we come home (including strangers!), fetch, eat dropped things off the floor, and run to the door when we get their harnesses out of the drawer. They step in them so they can go outside. I’m not kidding.

My second tag is all about tris.

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever

I trained for months. I had everything planned out. I had chunks of power bars cut up, put in a Ziploc, and twist tied to my bike. A few hundred yards into the bike, the whole contraption fell off. I considered it for a second and decided to keep going. Soon after that, I realized that something didn’t feel quite right. I soon found out that my timing chip had fallen off during the swim! I went on to finish somewhere around 3:30, I think, and when it was all over, I was so hypoglycemic that I almost threw up in the finish line food tent.

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon

IM Wisconsin. I don’t even know where to begin. I remember the pain and the elation. Most of all, I remember how lucky I felt to have Steve, Steph, my brother Matt, Jess, Maddy, and all of my blogger friends there for me all day in the rain.

3. What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?

I have a couple, although neither of them are really that embarrassing, just gross. During my half IM at Chisago Lakes last year, I got to T1, set down my wetsuit, and realized that I really needed to pee, so I did. Standing up, I just let it run down my leg before putting on my bike gear. It was a grass transition area, and I just kept thinking, God, please don’t let anyone see this.

A close second: during IM WI on the bike, I looked over my left shoulder to check for any other bikers. There were none, so I haulked up a massive loogie. Just as I was letting it fly, I realized that a pro had sneaked up on me. I think I hit him. I let out an apology, but I was mortified.

4. What's the most thrilling thing that's happened to you in a tri?

Mile 25 of Ironman Wisconsin, I realized that I was actually going to finish for sure. At mile 26, I took off the plastic bag I had been sporting and ran the last 0.2 in the drizzle. When I finished, people all around me were trying to hold me up. I didn’t need it. I felt so alive that I could’ve done just about anything at that moment.

5. What is something you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?

So many of them - that I have the most supportive husband in the world, that God has blessed me with so many gifts, and that my butt cannot withstand 112 miles in the rain without acquiring massive scabs (I’ll be researching Chamois Butter for next year).

6. What is The Big Goal that you're working towards?

IM Wisconsin 2007. The Big Goal is to get both Steve and Me across the finish line.

I’ll leave all of the tagging up to Steve since he got them both too :)