Rollar Coaster

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It's sort of been an up and down last couple of weeks. After all of the Thanksgiving running around, I worked 7 days in a row and topped that off with my comp day consisting of trying to squeeze in all of my Christmas shopping. By the middle of last week, I was completely exhausted and totally burned out. My workouts suffered for sure. I was supposed to start my 16 week 70.3 training program, but I think that will officially kick off this week instead. Oh, and there's that half marathon I've got planned for January. That puppy's only 6 weeks away now. I've been getting some workouts in, but they're not consistent enough to be PR worthy yet.

The upswing happened on Friday when Steve called me at work to let me know that my letter had finally come. I passed the huge test I took in October. I am now officially a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist! I guess all of that hard work this summer finally paid off. Yesterday Steve and I spent the day getting ready for our annual "Hague House" Christmas party. Hague was the street I lived on in undergrad with 5 other girls. We are all still great friends, and now that most of us are married and some of us have kids, we have to work a little harder to get together. We've been really blessed the last few years, and this year, except for one family who got stuck in a snowstorm, we were all able to get together for an evening of great food, wine, and watching Ben (one of the kids) chase our cats all over the house.

Today our rain turned quickly to ice, so the other holiday get-together I had on the agenda had to be postponed. Sorry Tiff, Kelly, and Victoria! So I'm trying to update some stuff online and get my application for taking pharmacy students on rotations all finished up.

I actually have the day off tomorrow as well, my last one before Christmas (a 9 day stretch), so I'm trying to burn off all of the burnout before I get really crabby!

I'm hoping to start off the day with a spin class with one of my favorite instructors, Melissa. She used to work at the Y where we go, but she left to start her own studio. She offers one free class for newcomers, so I hope to join in at 5:45 AM tomorrow. Melissa is AWESOME, and ever since she left, our spin classes just aren't the same. I've spent the last 1.5 years trying to find someone I like as much as her but with no success. I'm looking forward to having the real thing tomorrow!

Giving Thanks 5K Race Report

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Quick post before heading to bed. We just got home from Thanksgiving with one of the families (since we grew up in the same town and all of our aunts and uncles are close, we usually have 4 Thanksgivings and 6 Christmases to choose from). I ate my meal over 7 hours ago, and somehow I'm still full.

I'm one of the few people who actually has to work tomorrow, so this will be short :)

Steve and I did this race last year and had a blast. It's a little smaller and less insane than the really big 5K that's run here in town, and they limit the field to 700 people. I think they must have come close to their limit, but the crowd was very manageable. I didn't really know what to expect going into this race. Unlike Steve, I haven't run a 5K since doing this one last year. I've had one speed workout as of late, and that was just last week. I had an idea of what a good time would be for me but didn't really know if it was achievable at this point in the game. If nothing else, it would serve as a good baseline marker.

Steve and me before the start of the race. Notice that I'm wearing my lucky sweatshirt.

As soon as they shouted "Go!" I tried to settle into a comfortable speedy pace. Last year, the course was measured in km, so I was expecting it this year too. It was a two-loop course, so when I saw a 3 soon after we started, I figured we were talking km again this year. When I hit the 1, I looked at my split and realized that I was doing pretty good. Too good in fact. The time didn't quite fit. I assumed that the markers were a little off. When I hit the 2, my split was a bit slower than expected, but I was still on track for my goal race, and it confirmed my theory that the first km was short. When I hit the 3, my time was still slow and I was starting to wonder why I hadn't seen a 4km mark in the first loop. I was a bit confused but was keeping a pace that was just under throwing up. When I got to about 1/2 mile from the finish, I realized that there was no way I was going to finish in my goal time. Something just seemed off. The splits weren't adding up right.

Trying to book it into the finish line. I swear my hips aren't that big in real life. At least I hope they're not...

I crossed the finish line 25:29, a craptastically slow time for me. At least it gives me something to build off of. I was sort of hoping for a sub-24 minute time, but realistically, without a lot of recent speedwork it's probably what I deserved. I couldn't have run it any faster, that's for sure. Steve had been waiting at the finish line for over 7 minutes by the time I crossed it. I think he finished 4th overall. Great job honey! As for those crazy splits that I couldn't make sense of? Turns out they were the mile markers counting backwards! I've done my fair share of 5Ks, and I've never seen one marked like that. Live and learn I guess.

I don't know when my next 5K will be - maybe next year around this time. It's really not my favorite length. I don't have a fast twitch muscle in my body and am totally built for distance. Somehow Steve and I are a bit opposite on that spectrum I guess. It's not that I don't like the burn, and other races certainly aren't easy. I was telling Steve on the way home from the race that I didn't even feel like I'd officially "earned" my turkey for the day. Am I alone on this one?

In other news, I heard about a possible inaugural marathon here in MN in May. I'm not sure of the logistics besides the fact that it would be held in Stillwater, a town not far from me. Tempting...

My Friday Night Out

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Last night around 8 PM, I put on a tight little black outfit, my most expensive shoes, and a little extra flair to really get noticed. Then I hit the streets looking for some fun.

Of course my little black number consisted of running tights and some really warm long sleeves, the most expensive shoes I own are my Saucony Hurricane Xs, and my "extra flair" is an orange reflective vest that resembles what you'd see a construction worker wearing. And with the cold weather we're having, I may as well be going out because it takes me forever to put all of these clothes on.

I was back in under an hour, and I had a fantastic run. I had to work this morning, which meant a 5 AM alarm clock and no intervals with Steve's speed Saturday crew, so I squeezed in a 5 miler in the dark last night. It's getting pretty chilly around here, but I'm getting used to it again.

I hit the dome for intervals on Tuesday. I did 600s with 90 seconds rest in between - nothing too serious, and my pace needs a little work, but at least I was relatively consistent:


I'll hopefully be working my way up in repeats and down in time over the next few weeks to months. I'll be doing my first half marathon of 2009 in 8 short weeks, and Borsch has thrown down the gauntlet. My half marathon PR is somewhere around 1:56, and he's sworn that he's going to beat it. I guess that means I'll just have to set a new PR! Just try and catch me Borsch!

Turns Out I'm a Minnesotan After All

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So I've been a little bummed lately. Since the clocks fell back a couple of weeks ago, I leave home when it's dark in the morning and leave work when it's dark in the afternoon. On top of that, the beautiful long fall we've had is finally over, and winter will soon be upon us. There have been snow flurries several days already with a couple of mornings of actual snow that has stuck around overnight. Our temps are now in the 20s to mid 30s, and I know it's only going to get colder. Getting ready for a run takes twice as long because I have to put on so many clothes, and after I get home, I have to camp by the fireplace to try and scare off what I like to call "exercise chillies."

Today Steve and Borsch had convinced a bunch of people to come out and do a track workout. I had a long run on the books, so I decided to do a few miles ahead of time and then just run the rest on the track so I could still see everybody. I checked the weather channel this morning, and they were saying that the temp was 31 degrees with a 15 MPH wind. I put on a tank top, light under armor, and medium weight shirt on top with shorts underneath pants for my bottom half. I also brought along an ear band and mittens. I stepped outside and knew it would be a chilly run. I'm not sure what the wind chill was today, but it probably wasn't much higher than 20. But a funny thing happened. My body is just used to this, and even though I'm almost always cold while sitting at home, I was warm within a couple of blocks. A half a mile into my run, I had to shed my pants and tie them around my waist. I was running in shorts. My first really cold run of the season, and I did it in shorts. My body just knows. I really don't know how it does it. I ran the next 3.5 miles in shorts, and I was comfortably cool. I had to put my pants back on while waiting at the track, but I was a little sweaty by then, and even Minnesotans have limits.

At the track, Steve and Borsch were waiting at the start line, and Ryan was there too. Turns out he did Steelhead. He saw Steve cheering and saw me finish. It's funny how you can travel 8 hours to do a race and meet a guy who lives 5 miles down the road! Before long, Iron Girl Nyhus and Greg joined us along with Jen, a really cool girl who got her ears talked off while running with me. I just stuck with the long run theme and ran a few more miles while everybody else did intervals.

Jen and I on our run. I talked the poor girl's ear off! I hope I didn't scare her away...

We said our goodbyes, and Steve, Borsch, and I ran home to pick up Steph for her birthday meal. I had the most amazing strawberry French toast:

Yummy! That giant ball is real whipped cream.

I'll be doing my intervals this week in shorts again, but they will be indoors. Dome running starts at the Metrodome on Tuesday. 600s, here I come!

I'm Back!

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After working all weekend, I had the day off today. I managed to catch up on lots of home stuff, and strapped on the running shoes for a 9 miler this afternoon. IT WAS AWESOME! It was pretty chilly out there - 41 without the windchill. I wore shorts and a light long sleeve T-shirt, and I was the most underdressed runner out there. Hello? This is Minnesota. It's only going to get colder people. Sure I had an ear band on, but everybody else had pants, hats, and mittens!

Today was my longest run since TCM. I hope to keep up the long runs over the winter and do the Winter Carnival Half at the end of January. More on the 2009 race season later.

I now have even more incentive to get/stay in shape this winter. Of course New Orleans 70.3 is at the beginning of April, but Steve and I just booked a trip to Mexico in the middle of January, so I need to be bikini ready by then :)

I've had a bit of time off since the marathon and am looking forward to finally getting back into things again. The full training starts soon!

Patiently Awaiting the Mail

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Steve got me a sweet Cyclops Fluid 2 Trainer for my birthday. They're coming out with the new latest and greatest model this month, so the Fluid 2 went on a major sale at REI (like 90 bucks off). I'm quite confident that I'll never be able to out power the Fluid 2, so for me, it should work just fine. With New Orleans early next spring, I'll be a good trainer this winter.

With the test, the marathon, marathon recovery, and my birthday, I didn't actually pull it out of the box until last Thursday evening. That's when I discovered that the small pieces were missing. I called the company, and they're sending me the missing parts, but with Columbus Day thrown into the mix, they still haven't come. I had a sweet 32 mile ride in the sun on Saturday, but today it's cold and getting dark early, so I really could have used an indoor ride.

I did a 6 mile run on Monday to test out the legs for the first time since the marathon. They felt OK, but my right IT band was feeling a little stiff, so I'm trying to take it a little slow. No use busting something now.

So... no workout today. Boo. I may go to the Y in the next day or 2. I want to get back into my traditional winter weights routine, and I hope to get a little faster in the pool this winter in preparation for NO.

I haven't totally given up on riding outdoors this fall, but trying to get out there after work now that it gets dark so early is darn near impossible. Guess I'll just keep watching the mail...

Twin Cities Marathon Race Report

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...One week later. It was my "birth week" this week. My birthday was Tuesday. I am now officially 28! I think I ate cake at least 5 out of the last 7 days, and just as I had resolved to clean up my eating a little, my brother Matt gave me a belated birthday gift - 2 huge bags of mixed Halloween candy. This is going to take some serious willpower.

So I owe you a race report. You've probably heard by now that it rained. It rained a lot, but I'll take the rain over last year's heat any day.

The day started out with a gathering of farm animals in our living room. The cow, the pig, and the chicken were back, and this time they brought 2 cute farm girls with them in the form of my sister Annie and Mike's girlfriend Brianna. My mom was there to supervise the craziness. Thanks mom! A hearty breakfast of oatmeal with lots of water was on my menu. Soon we were in the cars and driving to the marathon start - just 5 miles from my house. The freeway off ramp is always the spot that takes the longest to navigate through, and in keeping with last year's tradition, the pig and the chicken began running up and down the street between stopped cars. After we had found our parking spot, I looked over to see Steve doing a pole dance on a street sign in his chicken suit, a sight that was both disturbing and hilarious.

Borsch and I did a little warmup and then went into the Metrodome to stretch. The familiar smell of Ben Gay greeted my nostrils, and though I was disappointed to find out that they had converted one of the ladies' room into a men's room, I eventually found a bathroom to use for the traditional pre-race ritual. We did a few minutes of stretching, and before we knew it, it was time to drop our stuff off with our support crew. We stopped for a picture and then filed into the starting chute. A few minutes later, we were off! I had warned Borsch ahead of time that we had to purposely run slow, because the huge crowd and adrenaline of the morning always moves your legs faster than they should be. We were hoping to keep a 10 min/mile pace, and the first lap was perfect - 9:55! I was a little nervous after my massive side cramp incident at Grandma's Marathon a few months ago, but I think I managed to will away any that were coming on. Borsch kept telling me that he felt "floaty" for the first few miles. He was off to a great start.

I don't exactly remember when it started raining - maybe around mile 4 or 5? I know it was early on. At first it was just a mist, but it didn't take long for the sheets to come down, and that's when my feet started feeling squishy. I should have listened to that inner voice that told me to wear my tri shorts for the race. My running shorts do some awfully weird bunching when they're wet. I still felt great, even though I was worried that the furry support crew was getting soaked.

The rain started to subside around mile 12 or 13, and by then, I was looking forward to finding the farm at mile 15. I had seen lots of friends out there already. Maddy and Luke were EVERYWHERE, Sarah and Trevor brought their dog and one year old son, and Rural Girl managed to navigate her way through traffic to cheer us on too. Thanks for coming out you guys. It really meant a lot to have you out there.

The furries at mile 15 didn't let us down. They were cheering their wet hearts out! The rest of the race is sort of a blur. Our times started to slow down after 15. Borsch was cramping up, and I was feeling like I was running a marathon. Summit was a welcome sight - our home stretch! We saw our support crew at the top of the hill right before mile 26. I let them know that Borsch was just behind me and ran in for a 4:36 finish. It wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but I'm happy with it nonetheless.

A few thoughts: TCM is well known for its amazing crowd. It was down this year by about half I'd say, but I can't believe how many people came out to support the runners. It was simply amazing. This was my ninth TCM and my 10th marathon. I've hit double digits! Borsch and I had passed a guy early in the race who was wearing a banner that said, "This is my 3ooth marathon." What an inspiration. I told him so and got a little choked up. I don't think I'll ever hit triple digits...

What I've Eaten Today

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Guess my marathon summary will have to wait till later. I have to conserve calories. Usually the day I run a race, my stomach is a little queasy, and I don't feel like eating much. The next day, though, watch out! The list so far today:

A large bowl of Great Grains cereal - 6 AM
2 fun size Salted Nut Roll bars - 8 AM
Leftover spaghetti and cake - 10:30 AM
Leftover Fish and a small bag of chips - 12:15 PM
Almonds that a coworker had to give me because my stomach was growling - 1:30
Banana - 3:30
Baked chips - 5:45
Two salads - 6:30
Papa Murphy's Gourmet Chicken Mediterranean DeLite pizza - 6:40

...and now I'm finally full

* In my defense, I got up at 5:30, so a 10:30 lunch wasn't that far off.

Monster Weekend Update

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I'll post more later. I see an early bedtime in my future tonight because I have to be into work extra early tomorrow. Boo. I had asked for the day off, but I guess it wasn't in the cards. I just got back from church an hour ago. The great thing about living 5 blocks from a Catholic college campus is that they have late services, which fit perfectly into the schedule of a very busy weekend. I indeed have a lot to give praise for today. I am truly blessed with the gifts of family and friends. I had a good race today, and I have the BEST husband in the whole world.

The crazy huge test that I have been obsessing over for months was Saturday, and it was every bit as hard, random, and irrelevant to my practice as everyone said it would be. But it's over for now. I take comfort in knowing that I studied my butt off, and whatever the outcome, there's probably not much more that I could have done. We won't find out the results for at least 60
days, which is stinky, but I'm just going to try and put it out of my head for the next couple of months.

I rushed home after the test to find that Steve had finished cleaning the house. It looked great, and one of the biggest bouquet of flowers I've ever seen was sitting on the dining room table as a congrats on being done with your test/good luck at the marathon/happy upcoming birthday statement. A little over an hour later, we started cooking for our bloggy friend meet up/family coming up for the marathon meal - salad, grapes, spaghetti, grilled chicken, and garlic bread - yum! We got to meet Rural Girl's adorable family, hang out with Stu, and catch up with Robby B and his lovely wife. I think they were all a little shocked to see my family filing in the door - Steph and Borsch were already here, but then my brother Mike showed up with his girlfriend Brianna, followed by Matt, and Mom and Annie weren't far behind. I love having a full house! Before all of our bloggy friends left, we stopped to take this picture:

Steve, Me, Stu, Robby B, Michelle, and Borsch posing for a quick blogger photo.

After finding bedding and figuring out where everybody was going to sleep last night, I passed out and didn't wake up till Steve's alarm clock went off this morning.

Steph, Steve (the chicken), Borsch, Mike (the pig), Me, Brianna, Matt (the cow), Annie, and My Mom before the start of the race

I'll write more on the race later, with more pictures. My awesome sister Steph took a ton of them! It was a lot of fun, and I saw so many inspiring people. Plus, I have a lot of people to thank. Suffice it to say for now that the farm animals were a HUGE success again this year. I'm quite sure that our cheerers have more fun out there than we do. Borsch and I ran most of the marathon together, and I'm so proud to have taken another one to the finish line. It rained, and body glide can't handle over an hour of rain followed by over 2.5 hours of wet clothes rubbing. I have burns everywhere. My time was good. Not great, but good. Given the lack of training I've had for this race, I'm happy with it. Plus, we got Borsch to his first marathon finish line, and that was the main goal today. I know I've made a lot of jokes this year about just winging it, and that's not necessarily the way that I like to train, but it had to be that way for this year. I try really hard not to take for granted the gifts I've been given, and tonight, I know that there are a lot of them.

It's a Good Thing I'm Running a Marathon in Two Days

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... because I have been eating "brain food" (aka crap) for most of the week trying to keep myself motivated and fed while doing some last minute studying. I have some serious calories to burn off! It's a good thing I completed grad school when my metabolism was still good! I finished going through the books last week, and this week I'm trying to get through them one more time. I'll be so glad when the clock hits 4 PM tomorrow, and the test is over. Even though everybody says I'll feel like I failed it, even though I won't find out the result for at least 6 weeks, even though there's a possibility that I'll be taking it again next year, I know that I'll just have to put it behind me, enjoy some supper with friends, and mentally prepare myself to run a marathon on Sunday.

I ran a 6 miler Tuesday morning, and it didn't go so well. I'm definitely in couch potato have been sitting on my butt doing nothing but reading shape. I don't really understand, because my 20 miler just 2 weeks ago went swimmingly. I hope I'm not totally kidding myself with the goal to keep up with Borsch and finish in 4:15-4:30, but I guess we'll see on Sunday. I've honestly been in worse shape than this and have made it through the race just fine. The weather is still supposed to be around 62 as the high with a chance of rain late in the day - perfect. I'm excited to have my family coming up and friends coming into town for the race. Plus, there's sure to be stories that come from Steve and my brothers dressing as a furry barnyard! Hopefully I'll throw up a quick post Sunday, but after this week, I may just sleep. I do have to tell you about my early birthday present though...

10 Days

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I checked yesterday. I usually start checking the weather a couple of days before the 10 day forecast comes out for a big event, just to start to get an idea of what kind of day I'll be facing. Today, October 5 fits in the 10 day forecast. Obviously, lots can change, but today, they're saying that it will be no higher than 60 degrees and partly cloudy, which would be PERFECT. It's been really warm the last two years, and I would love to run a cool weather marathon again. I had a pharmacy talk last night in downtown Minneapolis, and I got a little giddy when I saw the marathon signs on the lightposts. This morning, Steve dropped me off at work, and we drove through the start line area to get there. More butterflies. You'd think after doing this 9 times before, it would be old hat, but I still love the excitement.

This of course also means that my test is in 9 days. Crap. I've got a lot of cramming to do. Two more days of work, then it's 5 straight days of studying. Hopefully a run or two in there too. And I'm still hacking out my lungs. If Steve keeps sleeping in the guest room, I may have to move his dresser of socks and undies in there for him.

Despite How it Sounds, There is No Marital Discord

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1. Steve and I haven't slept in the same bed in 4 days.

2. I spent Friday night after work getting all hot and sweaty with a guy other than my husband. We went for hours, and it left me exhausted!

3. Steve was caught the other day buying flowers for his gay lover.

OK, OK. My life continues to be fairly boring - lots of work, studying, and the occasional workout so I don't die during the Twin Cities Marathon. As for the above statements?

1. I have a nasty cold. Again. Seems like I get one of these around this time every year. I've been coughing a lot in my sleep, and it keeps poor Steve up. Either he's not sleeping, or I'm awake worrying that I'll wake him up. We've been taking turns sleeping in the guest room. I seem to be on the upswing after an entire day on the couch yesterday, so keep your fingers crossed.

2. Borsch and I went for a 20 miler on Friday night after work. I had to work till 6, so we weren't done till 10:30. It was actually a pretty good run. It went by fast, and I didn't cough out a lung. I got to show him some of the tough parts of the course and hopefully get him excited for the big day. I love dragging first timers into the sport! Last long run is in the bag. Thanks for a good time Borsch!

The plan was to stop at the local gas station on the way home to get some ice, but the ghetto station that is supposed to close at 12 was locked at 10:30. Arrg! I settled for a cold water bath instead, and it worked just fine. I was shivering and my fingernails all turned blue, and Steve had to put a warm towel on my back so I didn't get totally hypothermic. But the next day, I was ready for 10 hours of moving Steve's parents into their new house.

3. Steve made a Target run a couple of days ago to pick up a few things. The young cashier commented on the last two items on the conveyor, "Well, let's see. The York Peppermint Patty must be for you, and the flowers must be for a very lucky guy... or girl." I guess a guy who regularly dresses in chicken suits, bowl full of sunshine shorts, and all of the other outfits he's come up with sets off a bit of gaydar :)

Seriously, though. The flowers are still gracing the dining room table, and Steve's been great. I've been extra whiny with this nasty cold, and with the big test approaching, he's been taking on even more housework to help out. I love you honey!

Square Lake Long Course Race Report

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Finally... A free minute to get this thing posted! My tummy is full if delicious bruschetta that Steve and I made for supper, I've got an obese cat warming up my lap, and mentally, I'm trying not to think about the fact that I've got a long run tomorrow. It was supposed to be this afternoon, but it rained ALL day, so I'm taking my chances tomorrow morning. I was the designated photographer for Steve and Matt's team du this morning. Check out Steve's blog to see all of the great pics I took. So, I'm super cozy on the couch and figure that studying can wait till tomorrow evening and it's time I put this post together.

The night before:

We got to bed a little late, but I fell asleep quickly. It wasn't for long, though. We woke up to drunk college kids screaming at each other in the alley right outside our bedroom window. Thankfully, the cops showed up and sent them all home. Grr. It's the second weekend in a row we've had to deal with obnoxious college students.

Race Morning:

Our alarm clock went off all too early, and we were off with my sister Steph in tow. She was our awesome photographer and cheering squad all day. Thanks again Steph! We set up transition, and before we knew it, the swim was about to start.

The Swim:

There were 4 waves, and I was in the last one (women). This meant that we were starting 12 minutes after the first group. I wasn't banking on catching many people, and I didn't. I hadn't swum in a couple of weeks, so the goal was just to stay smooth and not blow it all. I felt pretty good. The water was really clear, but it didn't really matter because I was alone for most of the swim, so there were no feet to watch out for anyway. I tried to draft when I could, but in two loops, we had all spread out pretty far. I exited the water feeling good.

T1: I was a little cold after stripping my wetsuit, but it was just overcast at that point, so I decided against long sleeves. Had I known the tsunami I was in for, I probably would have grabbed more clothes.

The Bike:

Again, in accordance with my "winging it" plan, I decided to go out pretty easy on the bike. I knew the course would be SUPER hilly, and if I pushed it too hard, I'd die on the run. Everyone and their granny passed me, but I wanted to keep it steady. It was hard not to set goals in the middle of the ride, so I stopped looking at my speed. I got stung by a wasp within the first mile, and it hurt like a mother. It took my mind off the course for the first loop, and just as the pain started to subside, the skies opened up. It just sprinkled at first, but before long, it was pouring rain. Freezing. Cold. Rain. Rain that was reminiscent of IM Moo 06, and just like Moo, my toes were numb, my fingers were so cold that I had trouble shifting my bike, and when I tried to take a drink from my water bottle, my thumb barely worked to squeeze it. The uphills were the same, but the downhills on the second loop were tough because I had to brake a little. Visibility wasn't great at that point, and I didn't always have a lot of shoulder to ride on. I didn't want to get smucked!

I realized with a few miles left that the "emergency" socks I had tied into a plastic bag in case it rained weren't going to do any good since I hadn't done the same for my SHOES. Doh! I was glad to be done with the bike, nonetheless, and as luck would have it, the rain stopped when I got out of T2.

T2: Nothing exciting here. In and out but now sporting squishy wet running shoes instead of bike shoes.

The Run:

I felt surprisingly great on the run. I'm not sure why I felt so good. Maybe it was the cool weather. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn't wearing the fuel belt that I've been sporting on my long runs lately. Maybe I left too much room on the bike. Whatever it was, I was hoping that it would last. It took 2 or 3 miles to regain feeling in my feet, but I felt really fresh otherwise. I was cheering everyone I passed and everyone I met, and that always gives me a boost too. I started to feel it a little by mile 6 or 7 but was able to keep pace and even managed to pass another 4 people in the last mile. I came in with a run split of 2:13:59, my fastest run split ever during a half.

Overall Numbers:

Swim: 45:51 - PR
T1: 3:17 - slower than Steelhead, but I had steps to run up and a wetsuit to peel off this time.
Bike: 3:33 (I think it was about 1.5 miles short too) - gotta work on this one, but without a lot of training, not terrible on a super hilly course.
T2: 2:13
Run: 2:13:59 PR on LOTS of hills.
Overall: 6:38:25 - slower than Steelhead, but I actually had a swim this time. My old 70.3 PR was 6:47, so even adding on another 6 minutes for the missing bike distance, It would have been a PR. On the hills. In the rain. Without much training.

Final Comments:

Yikes I'm hard on myself! I knew going into this race that I wasn't trained to actually race it, but somehow people passing me and not finishing anywhere near the top half of my age group got me a little down. I quickly realized that I needed to take a step back and realize that not only should I be happy that I haven't lost a ton of fitness, I had a freakin PR!

I would definitely recommend this race to others, but not high maintenance athletes, and not first timers. The course is really pretty and fairly challenging. The only bathrooms were in transition. At least the corn's tall enough this time of year! There's only one water stop on the bike (could be problematic in really hot weather), but the run is well supported. It's pretty cheap price-wise, so if you're thinking about it, go for it!

I'm already looking forward to New Orleans. I'm a little nervous about the heat, because quite frankly, I'm Minnesotan. I have a lot of room to improve on my swim, and I think I'll take a few form lessons over the winter. I've got room to pretty easily cut 10+ minutes off. I'm excited for a flat bike at NO. I've never had a flat course for a 70.3 bike, so a PR is definitely in order... As for the run, I'm getting there, but slower than I'd like. I discovered doing intervals at the Metrodome this past winter, and I think I'll be doing more of them during our snowy months. In the mean time, I've gotta pass this crazy pharmacy test.

Maybe I Should Not Train More Often

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Haven't swum in a couple of weeks. I've been (sort of) training for a marathon and fitting some long rides on the weekends, but probably not working out more than 3 days a week lately secondary to needing copius amounts of study time.

Quick summary of today's race:

* The swim was pretty uneventful, and since I was in the last wave, I didn't see many other swimmers.
* The bike was a bit short, by around 1.3-1.5 miles
* I didn't know that I was going to need an ark instead of a bike for the last hour.
* Hilly was an understatement for the bike. There may have been two or three miles' worth of flats, but definitely not more than that.
* I still managed a PR, even if you correct for the short bike.
* I felt SPECTACULAR on the run, better than I've ever felt in a half, and I came in with a 4 minute PR on hilly run course.
* I looked down at my arm at mile 1 of the bike to see a wasp trying to pull his butt out of my arm. It still stings, and now it itches.
* Steve made a lot of friends dressed up as the Grim Reaper on the run. His nipples, however, are no longer his friends.

More later! We're exhausted, and I've got to get back to Ironmanlive.

70.3 Me Asap

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The big race is tomorrow. Well, it's a big race, but I'm totally winging it. I picked an interesting race to wing - solid hills on the bike and run. Guess I won't be going for any PRs. Hope to still have fun, though, and be standing upright at the end. Plus, it'll be fun to see Steve dancing around like a crazy man in a grim reaper costume at the end, cause you know he'll be outrunning me even in full costume!

We should be back in time to write a quik race report and watch all of our friends finish IM MOO. People we'll be looking for:

Madison Duo
Rural Girl
JP Severin
Iron Min
Ms. R

Anybody we're missing? Good luck everybody! Have a safe race!

I'd Rather Be Ironman Training

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... because at least then I'd be on taper by now, and I'd have a rockin in-shape body. Instead, I've become a marshmallowey book worm.

The past two summers have been spent training for Ironman. The end of summer has meant that Ironman was approaching, and all of my training would soon pay off. This year, there is no Ironman. I thought it would mean a more relaxed summer, but then I signed up for THE TEST. I will be taking my BCPS exam October 4th, the day before I run TCM. BCPS stands for Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist. It has consumed my entire summer. I've been studying for this test since the middle of June, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. I can't really explain to people why I'm taking it. It's just more letters to put behind my name. It will give me a little edge over my colleagues when applying for jobs, but nearly every clinical pharmacist has this extra certification, so I guess it'll just put me at the same level as them. At any rate, I've been spending 10-15 hours a week studying, and it has left little room for any sort of workouts. The sad part is that a lot of people don't pass this test the first time, and just like Ironman, I know that even with lots of preparation, there's a possibility that I won't pass. Lots of really good pharmacists don't.

I've been a weekend warrior when it comes to workouts, trying to get my long rides and long runs in, but that's about it. I'll be winging it at Square Lake next weekend. It's been the story of the summer. I trained for Grandma's, but for Lifetime and Steelhead, I just showed up. The funny part was that I didn't fare too bad at either of them. I guess we'll see what happens at Square Lake next weekend.

Since Twin Cities Marathon is the day after this 8.5 hour exam, I think I'm changing my goal from sub 4:00 to around 4:20 or 4:30 - my usual finishing time. I'm totally taking that Monday off!

2009 will be different. I'm looking forward to not having this dang test hanging over my head. I was a bit burnt out after two years of IM training, and I'm really excited to start actual training again. I know it sounds funny that 2 marathons, 2 70.3s, a du, and an oly is taking it easy for the year, but it really has been low-key. Like I said, I've been winging it.

That said, needing a little incentive to train again and giving in to peer pressure, I signed up for this. Bring on 2009! But first, I've got a 70.3, an 8.5 hour exam, and a marathon in the next 5 weeks.

How NOT to Feel Like a Rock Star

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1. Race Steelhead du the week before.
2. Do no workouts for 5 days.
3. Realize that you have a marathon in less than 2 months and attempt to do a 14 miler as per your training schedule. Notice I say attempt, because it will be highly unsuccessful. There may be walking at the end since your legs are obviously not recovered from your race a week ago. Your husband worries and drives out to make sure you're not dead. Thankfully, you beat him home. This particular step is about as much fun as going to the gynecologist. Next week's 17 miler should be loads of fun.
4. Promise your husband that if he keeps you company on a long ride on Sunday, he can draft behind you. Because up to this point, his long ride was 40 miles.
5. Wake up sore on said Sunday. Quickly realize that your husband won't be the one drafting.
6. Stick to his back wheel like nasty old gum under a church pew. Know that if you slow down, you'll never make it home.
7. You now have successfully completed a 60 mile bike before Sunday morning church, so eat a bunch of cinnamon rolls and take a nap!

Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but yesterday's ride was hard, and our average on the bike wasn't stellar. I'm not too great at this whole recovery thing. I did the same thing at WIBA just a week after Grandma's Marathon. I just haven't officially dialed in on how long I need to fully recover after a long race. Practice makes perfect, right?

On a separate note, is anyone else out there TOTALLY addicted to the Olympics?

Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Race Report

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We're back! We left Benton Harbor around 5 AM their time and got home just a little after 1. It took us around 9 hours to get out there and just over 8 hours to get back - a PR :) This may be a long one, folks, so grab a cup of coffee an hunker down. Overall, it was a great weekend despite a few pitfalls.

First off, I want to congratulate Borsch and my brother Matt for an AMAZING half marathon yesterday! Borsch made his goal, and Matt pulled a 2:00:10 race out of nowhere to finish his first half ever. Until last week, he'd never even run 10 miles. I think I'm more excited for him than I was for my own race this weekend.

On the way home, I drove for a bit while Steve rested. He was just as exhausted as me after a long day of cheering yesterday! As I was driving, I got to thinking. Sara and I were talking after the race yesterday about how this was my last tri, um, I mean du for the year. Doing Ironman the last couple of years meant my tri season wasn't done until September, so August seems a little early. Steve and I had decided that we won't be going out to watch Ironman WI this year since we've already made 3 out of town athletic trips this summer. So... That leaves September 7th open, which coincidentally, is the weekend of Square Lake half iron distance race. I signed up when I got home. This way I can get in one last tri, have incentive to multisport train while I'm following the First marathon program, and be home in time to catch up on all my friends on ironmanlive! Plus, it's fairly cheap for a tri, so it's a done deal.

The Day Before:

We left our house just after 4 AM, and after a few stops, including a sketchy stop in Chicago (check out Steve's blog for that story), we were pulling into our hoopty Ho Jo hotel. Right away, we saw the Team Evotri sign hanging off of a balcony and Rural Girl, Trisaratops, and Stu just inside the door. We called up to them and were soon greeted with shouts and hugs. We unpacked our car and noted in the process that our hotel air conditioner didn't seem to work. We tried to make the air coming in cooler, but it was already set at the coldest temperature. Figures. We had nicknamed the hotel "The Hoopty Ho Jo" long before we had arrived because the reviews were so bad, but when there's nothing else left, you've gotta take what you can get. More on that later...

After dumping our stuff in our room, Steve, Stu, Rural Girl, and TriSara Tops and I left for the expo. It wasn't long before we found Iron Wil there with her adorable kids. We picked up our packets, got body marked, and dropped off our bikes.

Getting body marked at the expo the day before the race.

Then we played in the water for a while. It totally put my mind at ease. I'd been a little worried this week about what the water temperature would be like, and it was PERFECT.

Wil, Me, TriSara Tops, and Rural girl enjoying the water.

It was calm and 74 degrees, and I was ready to see what swimming with the current for the entire 1.2 miles would do for my swim PR. We had fun hanging out in the water and the hot sun then met up with TriCajun and JP, the newest member of Evotri. He looks (and is) so young, but that guy is smokin fast! We took advantage of the pre-race pasta dinner and then headed back to our hotel to escape the heat.

No luck in the heat escaping. Our room, it seems, had actually gotten hotter and stickier while we were away, so we went to the front desk to see what they could do. It would be one thing if the temperature was going to drop from over 90 degrees to 60, but the forecast didn't call for that. The front desk offered us a fan. Uh Uh. There was no way that we weren't going to sleep the night before a half that I had forked over a lot of money for. So they offered us the only room left - the jacuzzi sweet for a reduced price. We figured it was worth the extra money to be able to sleep, even though we'd never in a million years use the nasty jacuzzi. Since it was two rooms, though, Stu had somewhere to sleep on his air mattress besides his van. Bonus. For crazy nasty pics of the HoJo, check out Steve's documentation. Lights out before 10.

Race Day:

Our alarm clock went off around 4:30. We got ready and met Rural Girl and TriSara Tops, and to the race we went!

Rural Girl and I gettng ready to show them our all access bracelets.

I looked over my transition area about 4 times, made a trip to the porta potty, spent my usual eternity putting on my wetsuit, and we made our way down to the water. We had heard rumblings all morning that the water was really choppy since the wind had picked up, and soon I was looking at it first hand.

Walking on the beach with some of the members of Team Evotri.

The waves were big, and they were crashing onto shore. Sara commented that a couple of her friends from home weren't strong swimmers, and she was a little worried about them. After walking nearly the entire mile on the beach, the crowd started to turn around, and one guy ran by shouting, "Swim's cancelled! It's a duathlon!" Sara and Rural Girl were especially disappointed. Rural Girl because it was her third tri turned du of the year and Sara because this was her A race and she was ready to smash her PR.

Sara looking bummed that the swim was cancelled.

I just looked at the water, thought of Sara's two friends and all of the other athletes out with us who weren't necessarily strong swimmers, and figured that completely changing the race was definitely worth it if it meant that one person didn't die out there. Was I bummed? Sure. Did it change my mindset for the day? Absolutely. Did it affect my ability to claim an official PR? Most likely. Doing a little math in my head reveals that I probably would have PR'd anywhere from a few minutes to much more, but I'll never know... I still think it was the right decision.

Those were some massive waves, but the current was just crazy!

I went out and waded through the water for a bit, and you could feel it trying to suck you under even in just 2 feet of water. We heard after the race that one of the race kayaks trying to put buoys out had capsized just from the undercurrent. The coast guard gave a no go to the swim.

The Swim Run:

I was in the same age group as Iron Girl Nyhus, so we lined up together, but that girl is fast, so I never saw her again. Great to see you again IGN!

I tried taking it a little easy for the first portion. No use blowing the whole race with a 2 mile run. I finished in 18:13.


I was in and out fairly quickly. No wetsuit to peel off, no socks to put on, and I was already donning my tri top and sunglasses. Out in 2:05.

The Bike:

My legs felt a little Jello-y hopping on the bike at first. Plus, the first few miles were against the wind. I was worried that it was going to be a long day. I found my groove pretty quickly, though, and soon I was cruising! My MPH were all over the place, so I rarely looked down at my computer. I decided to just go by feel. I kept looking down, seeing fast numbers, and wondering if I was in a tailwind. I fully expected it to catch up with me later, but it never did. I never felt like I was pushing too hard, and for the first time in a long race, I was passing people. Of course a lot of people passed me, especially since all of the young guys started after me. With that many people on the course, I found myself getting stuck a couple of times unable to pass the person in front of me because someone was passing already. I tried really hard, though, not to draft and succeeded for the most part. This wasn't necessarily the case for everyone. Hoards of guys were passing in full packs. Not even lines that were too close together. These were packs. Like, out for a Wednesday night ride packs. The other excitement for me on the bike was at the second water stop. A guy was shouting, "Slow down! Accident ahead! Watch out!" about 300 yards before the water stop. I saw them loading one athlete into an ambulance. It was time to refuel, so I tossed my bottle and prepared for the handoff. I grabbed the water with my right hand, heard a noise, and felt the biker hit me from behind. I was left to steer with my right wrist and my very non dominant left hand. It was only by God's Good Grace that I didn't crash, but the guy who hit me wasn't so lucky. I apologized profusely and asked him if he was OK. He muttered that he was fine and that it was his fault anyway. I quickly realized that he was probably right, but I still ruminated about it a little for the rest of the bike. A guy stopped about 1/4 mile after the water stop, and I think it was the guy who hit me. He never passed me again. I hope he's OK. The bike went by so quickly. I don't know if it was the volume of people (I'm used to biking alone out there), my bike Tony, the course, or if I really did have a tailwind for 3/4 of the course. Whatever the case, I finished the bike in 3:05 flat. My computer said it was a little short at around 54.5 miles with an average of 17.5 mph including running in and out of transition. Ironman live says I did 56 miles with an 18.6 mph average. I'm not sure who to believe here, but it's a PR even if the course was a little short. My old bike PR was 3:35. Worst case scenario would be that it took me another 5 minutes or so to make up that remaining distance.

T2: I had a great spot in transition, and I was in and out in 2:07.

The Run:

The run was a little brutal. I don't think I've had enough training in hot weather this summer. Plus, I forgot my hat. Not sure how I managed that since I thought I'd packed two. Ice under my hat and in the front and back of my try top is how I get through runs in the hot weather. Yesterday I was stuck with just the latter two. It's my own fault. At any rate, I kept getting goosebumps and feeling funny, so I just slowed down and walked for a minute or two when it happened. The hour late race start, high sun, and unshaded run on blacktop didn't help.

When I saw Steve and James at mile 2, I was feeling good.

I had to post this pic because I actually have a leg muscle in it. I didn't think my calf muscles were actually visible to the naked eye :)

By mile 6.5, I told him that I was overheating but was OK. My legs felt good, my food and electrolyte intake was OK, but I couldn't beat the heat. Something to work on for Sept 7! At mile 11, I told myself that I wouldn't walk any more, and once I got closer to the lake, the breeze picked up and I was fine. The last few hundred feet were through sand and not fun, but I saw the finish line and pushed it in. Total run time: 2:36:30 - 18 minutes slower than last year's run at Chisago and 12 minutes slower than my first half ironman's 13.1.

Running toward the finish line.

I saw Steve at the finish along with James and TriSara Tops. Total finish time: 6:03:55. My half iron distance PR is 6:47:10. I'm thinking that this would have been a PR even with a swim, full length bike, and longer T1, but that's a lot of assumptions...

Steve had plenty of stories to tell me. He made a lot of people's days out there in his scandalous outfit, and people kept coming up to him and thanking him for cheering out there. The yellow shorts were a success!

After The Race:

Trying to recover while a volunteer removed my chip.

We waited to Cheer in Iron Wil. Sounds like she had quite an adventure on the run! We caught up with some of the rest of our friends, and everyone had a great day out there, especially Rural Girl, who secured a Clearwater slot! You're a rockstar Rural Girl! We said our goodbyes, which was really sad. I may not see some of these people for 8 months or more, and truly they are some of my best friends.
The Aftermath:

Of course, no post would be complete without pics of my nasty sunburns! I did put on sunscreen a couple of times, but I missed a few spots. I've really gotta figure out a way to avoid this...
A huge note of thanks to my awesome hubby who loves to ham it up and make people's races that much, ahem, brighter. You're always my favorite spectator. I love you Steve!
When we checked out of our hotel this morning, the lady commented, "Isn't that just a great room?" I didn't have the heart to tell her it was quite nasty and overpriced even for the discount they gave us, so I just politely agreed. She then went on to say that another couple gladly took our room that didn't have AC (last night was a bit cooler) and that another couple happily paid for a dirty room just so they had somewhere to sleep. Gross! I can't believe she admitted that last one to me, and she did it in such a way that suggested we were completely unreasonable for asking for the basic amenities that the hotel stated that it offers.
Glad to be home to my own bed tonight. Back to work tomorrow!
Five weeks till Square Lake, 8 weeks till Twin Cities Marathon!

...And Breathe

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Holy cow it was a whirlwind week. I went from being on vacation to working 7 (very long) days in a row, sewing two quilts, and studying the two hardest chapters in my "Updates in Therapeutics: The Pharmacotherapy Preparatory Course" book (I'm taking a massive certification test in October). Last night, I took a deep breath, watched So You Think You Can Dance (my current and only TV guilty pleasure), and packed for Steelhead. Tomorrow morning at 0400, we leave for Michigan.

I am so excited to see my friends again and am looking forward to racing my longest tri of the season. I'd also like to see a PR, but we'll see what the day brings. It's supposed to be 92 degrees on Saturday, which is apparently the only weather I get for HIM distances. My last two have been over a hundred degrees with the heat index.

Well, time to finish packing so we can get to bed! And since I can't show you my much smarter brain now that I've mastered biostatistics and clinical trials, I'll show pics we took of the two jean quilts we made this past week:

It takes a lot of work to cut up the old jeans, but we love to give these as wedding presents!

I really love the lady bugs and flowers. They make me happy :)

The perfect size for parades, summer picnics, and winter emergencies!

The strawberries on the back will be perfect for my cousin Andy and his fiance Kate .
Hopefully I'll have some great race shots for you in a couple of days. That is, if Steve's not too busy dancing around in his bowl full of sunshine shorts to take pictures!

Just Really Quick...

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Holy Cow! Just got back from vacation, and my "to-do" list is as long as my arm. Gotta get it all done before I head back to work on Friday, work 7 days in a row, and make the trip out to Steelhead!

Got back from a few days at the cabin with Steve's family last night. It was awesome with a capital A. Napping, relaxing, sitting in the sun, card games, and spending time with family. I even got my pharmacy reading done and some great workouts in. Pics to come later. My photographer is teaching a class right now :) Highlights:

* Steve's the greatest. Saturday was our 5 year wedding anniversary, and he posted the cutest tribute to "us". Then he shooed me out of the house so I could get in a long run while he packed the car. I wasn't really excited to go but knew I needed to. Sometimes I just need a good kick in the pants when that happens.

* Seeing our nephew Ian crawl all over the place. He's only 6 months old, but he'll be walking in no time!

* Asking Steve before our open water swim on Monday if he ever worried that fish would come up and bite his toes. His reply? "Something like that." I thought I was the only one! All I kept thinking about was the sparkly pink toenail polish that I have on and how the sun was most definitely bouncing off of it - looking exactly like the lures his grandpa uses. Thankfully, I finished the swim with all of my toes.

* The first 30 miles of my 75 mile bike were the most boring miles I've ever experienced. Normally I don't believe in headphones, especially on the bike, but I sure could have used a podcast or something. I saw one man with his dog, a herd of 6 stray cats, about a hundred rabbits, and one car. Far from the usual craziness I'm trying to dodge in the city. Plus, the trail was pancake flat, so all the excitement I had was stopping to pee twice. Thankfully, the rest of the countryside started to come to life around 8:30, so I didn't have to continue the singing.

* Yesterday, I took the day off from structured workouts and did some "cross training" - water skiing and jet skiing instead. How is it that I'm sorer from that than the 2 mile swim, 12 mile run, and 75 mile bike ride I did on the days preceding it?!?

* I slathered on sunscreen like it was going out of style, but I still managed some pretty strange looking sunburns. Only the ones on my lower butt cheeks hurt. Maybe I need a more full coverage swim suit, or maybe I just need a smaller bum.

Back to work! My cousin's wedding is just a few weeks away, and I haven't even started his quilt!
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Lifetime Fitness Race Report

So as I said yesterday, I managed a pretty good PR this weekend. I had left plenty of room for one after my last two races, but I guess that's not the point. The first oly I did (actually my first tri ever), my timing chip fell off in the swim. Then I messed up my watch and accidentally stopped it at one point instead of hitting lap, so I never knew my official time. I guestimated it to be around 3:30 based on my friend's finishing time, but I'll never know for sure.

When I did this race in 2005, It was 90+ degrees and my training wasn't really there. My time then was 3:30:42. Like I said, plenty of room for improvement.

I came into this race thinking that with my training this year, sub 3 would be rock star quality, sub 3:15 would be good, and anything around 3:30 would mean disaster had struck.

One of the things I really like about this race is that it's so close. It's just around a 15 minute drive for us. I also like it because we're racing right along with the pros - huge names that any other time I only get to see in magazines or on TV. Plus, the race support is great, and the schwag is fun too. It's well organized from packet pick up to finish line support.

Steve and I were talking the night before the race, and it totally confirmed that I am a type B personality when it comes to training and racing. It's funny because I'm so type A in all other areas of my life. I mean, I pick apart doctors' decisions for a living for goodness' sake! But the night before the race, I still wasn't exactly sure of our wave time, I hadn't come up with an official time goal, and I decided to leave my race nutrition plan for morning. Now don't get me wrong. I haven't always been like this, and I think some of the laid back attitude has come with years of experience. I know by now that my nutrition will be fine. I have a handful of products that I use regularly, and specifically what I use depends on the distance, the weather, and what my stomach tells me it can handle. The start time of this race is rarely accurate since we're sent out every 3 seconds, so once I have everything set up, I just need to wait and see how it's all moving along. And as for time goals, it took Steve and me about 5 minutes to figure out "great, good, and terrible."

The alarm clock was set for around 4:15, but Steve was up long before that. We had everything all packed up, downed some oatmeal, and we were off! We parked in our usual spot next to the bakery (yummy smells at 5:15 AM).
Grabbing all my stuff from the car.

We walked to transition, and after it was all set up, my area looked like this:
That's a lotta crap. No wonder it took me so long, although it was a little more organized by the time the race started.

It took a little over an hour from when the pros started to when Steve started. My start was close behind.

The Swim:

Confession time: I told our WIBA friends, but it's time to tell the rest of the world. I took a little time off from swimming after Ironman, like a lot of time. One thing led to another, and I never got back into the water until the middle of June (there's that type B again). When I did, though, it was like I'd never left, and I think all of that marathon training made my kick stronger! So I probably had between 6 and 10 1600+ M swims under my belt by the time I hit start on my watch yesterday. Deep down, I know there's time to shave off my swim and plenty of it, but for now, I know it's not going to make as big of a difference as working on my bike and my run. An added bonus was the fact that wetsuits were legal yesterday. We made the temperature cutoff by 2 degrees. Good thing too. I needed that thing to keep warm while waiting to hop in the water. It was mid 60s at the start. Steve snapped this pic before the start, and before the wind picked up!

It looked calm at the start but got a little choppy once we were in.

I felt really comfortable in the water. My stroke felt OK, and by the time I got to the first buoy, I knew I was on pace for a good swim. The next stretch was fairly choppy, but my WIBA swim had more than prepared me for that, and before I knew it, I was making the second turn and swimming toward the beach. I was out of the water in 35:31 - over 6 minutes faster than the last time I did this race. I don't think the wetsuit accounted for all 6 minutes. My only complaint about the swim was that the swim caps were green - the exact same color as the sighting buoys. Most of the time I just had to look up and hope that the rest of the crowd was swimming in a straight line...


My time was deplorable - a full minute slower than last time, but it took a few seconds to get out of my wetsuit, into my bike shorts, socks, shoes, helmet, etc. The worst part was getting my tri top on over my sports bra. My wet body and that tight top made for quite the sight I'm sure. I nearly pulled an ab muscle trying to get that thing unrolled over the girls! I was out in 4:04.

The Bike:

The big difference between this race and my last one was that I was on a different bike. I left Louise at home and had Tony. I was hoping for at least an 18 MPH average, but I only muscled out 17.9. It was still a 6 minute PR though. Total time: 1:25:39/25 miles.

Tony and I on our way to a PR.


Much better here. I was in and out in 1:46.

The Run:

I went out and fought through the heavy legs for the first mile. It was really starting to warm up, and I welcomed the areas of shade. When I hit my first split, I knew I needed to slow down a bit: 9:08

The second one went OK too. I was feeling good and joking around with the other runners. I was running with a lot of sprint runners at that point, too, so we were joking about the fact that they'd be done with their 5K soon and I still had another loop. I was feeling good - 9:08 again.

I saw our cheering section again at the turn into the second loop. Borsch and Steph were looking for me, and apparently Anne almost missed Steve's finish because he was he was running in at the same time I was turning to go out again. I never saw the sign for mile 3, but combined with mile 4, my time was 19:25.

I met up again with a guy named Eric from the Chicago area just before mile 4. We had joked around earlier in the race, and he told me that he finally found his running legs. He waited for me at the water stop when I dumped water on my head, and when I told him that I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up with him for the next 2 miles, he told me that I was his pacer, so we were off again. Mile 5 marker read 11:19. I didn't think I was running any slower, but I wondered if having a partner had slowed me down. When I talked to Steve later, that lap was incredibly slow for him, too, so I think the marker was off.

Mile 6 came before we knew it. I passed the legendary Frank Farrar on the way to mile 6. He was almost done with his first loop. We pushed into the finish, and I think the last 1.2 was a little short - Eric and I conquered it in 10:06.

My new friend Eric and I pushing it in.

Total finish time: 3:06:06 - over 24 minutes off my last oly time.

Steve found me right after the finish. The volunteers gave me a wonderful towel soaked in ice water. I sure needed it by then. The sun was in full force, and it was heating up fast! We found Steph, Anne, and Borsch, who had been great sherpas all day. I was feeling a little sick to my stomach, but it passed quickly after Steve and I sat down for a couple of seconds.

Taking it easy for a few second after the finish.


Swim: PR
Bike: PR
Run: PR
Transitions: We'll work on that.
Room for improvement? Sure. I don't think breaking 3 is out of the question...
Got to see some other great bloggers - Tac at bike dismount (Steve had to tell me later, I was trying to avoid the sprinters on the cruisers), MissAllyCat at the T2 water stop, and Jumper in the cheer section. Thanks for coming out folks!

Steelhead is in 3 weeks!
by | | 7 comments

I've been hoping that 2008 would be the year of speed, but after Grandma's, I started having serious doubts. I was having this conversation at WIBA with several friends: there comes a point when you know you can't PR at every race. The conditions need to be right, and the training needs to be there. The last couple of years have been slow - really slow, and there have been very few PRs. I was starting to wonder whether I'm just getting slower as I get older. Heck, this is my 9th year of marathons and my 5th year of tris. I'm not 20 years old anymore.

But today, there was redemption. I'm learning to train smarter. I'm learning to race smarter. Today the conditions were perfect, and I PRd. Big time. By over 24 minutes Boo-Yah!

More race report to come tomorrow. For now, we're heading to the lake and drinking frosty beverages!
by | | 12 comments
Race Week!

Lifetime Fitness oly is this Saturday, and holy cow, I haven't raced an oly since 2005. This should be interesting. Actually, it will only be my third oly ever. In my first one (also my first tri), my timing chip fell off in the water, so I didn't get an official time even though I finished. In 2005, I raced with basically a month of training. This year I think I've got enough training under my belt, but since I haven't actually followed a plan, I'm a little nervous (even though I should PR).

I was hoping for a few last solid workouts this weekend. No such luck. It sounds like everyone had a great holiday weekend out there in blog land, but I was stuck in my office feeling sorry for myself. I hardly moved for the 10.5 hours Friday, 10.5 hours Saturday, and 12, yes 12 hours of work on Sunday. Steve was nice enough to go for a ride with me Friday evening, but no other workouts occurred. I was busy taking care of people who blew off their fingers, burned themselves after getting fireworks up their shorts, crashed their cars while drunk, had blood coming from basically anywhere you could think of etc, etc. Seriously. I can't make this stuff up.

I'm really excited for this weekend, though. My little sis Anne is coming up to hang out at the end of the week and come cheer us on at Lifetime. She's been at all the LTF tris that Steve and I have done, so it's sort of a tradition. Plus, this year Steph may come to cheer us on. She's got a fun costume in the works, so you know we'll have to post pictures. After the tri on Sat, we're heading over to my aunt's to celebrate the 4th of July a little late. So excited to see all of my family!
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Let's Talk About Socks, Ba-by

So I've been a huge fan of Smartwool for years. I love to wear them around the house, and I've worn them for countless races. They seem to magically keep my feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and my tootsies feel dry even when they're soaked. I haven't bought new ones for a while, though, and mine are getting pretty worn. Now I've got a couple of new fun brands and thought I'd share them with you all.

The Bridgdale company sent Steve a few trial pairs this spring. I wore them for all of my long runs this spring and for Grandma's marathon two weeks ago. I gave one of the 3 pairs to Steph when her feet started to look like bad hamburger after our long runs. She wore them for each of her long runs too, and she never got another blister, not even during the marathon. Steve snapped this pic when they first came in the mail:

Mine are the three on the left. The top blue and grey pair is the one I gave to Steph.

Bridgedales are different than Smartwool in that the extra padding is only in key areas. They are much lighter on the top and through the arch. It makes them less "around the house" socks than the woolies (which I wear on our hardwood floors in the winter). They may be my new favorites for performance though. My feet stay really comfortable on the bike or during a run. They're really cushy without being bulky, and I heart them! They come in all sorts of fun colors, different shapes and sizes for various activities, and even come foot specific in some of their models. Check 'em out.
Just a couple of days ago, we got my shipment of Drymax socks, just in time for a sticky Minnesota summer. When Steve got 2nd in the Drymax challenge this spring, the company sent him a huge box of socks and told him that there would be some coming for me too. How cool is that? I finally got rewarded for putting up with his craziness :)

It's not the 42 pairs that Steve got, but it's probably a year's supply for me.

I'll let you know how they work out. I'm really excited to put them to my own tests!
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Houston, We Have Lift Off!

Yay for internet at home! Seriously, I haven't been this excited in a long time. So... a onto WIBA as I think I am officially the last one to post a recap.

Friday Steve picked me up right from work, but after slogging through rush hour in the Twin Cities, we missed the power clinic and even supper. Thankfully, all of our old friends were still around, along with a few new ones. There were hugs abound when we saw Iron Wil, Wil's husband James, Stu, TriSaratops, Thomps, XT4, RobbyB, Tri Al, and Rural Girl. We also got to meet Tri Cajun and Sara's frind Jacks. Robby had the best idea of the whole weekend, and soon we were in the most amazing Gelato shop I've ever experienced. The best part was that we got to pick 3 delicious flavors, and that was the small size! We hung out for a few more minutes, observed the massive mosquitoes that Wisconsin apparently breeds, and said our goodbyes for the night.

Saturday's open water swim went OK considering that it was my first since Ironman and the water was choppy. Steve and I kept stopping to look for each other, and Robby swam with us for a while to make sure neither of us drowned. Everyone's heard about the yellow shorts that Steve graced us with after the swim, and I was blushing all through supper as he passed James' camera around zoomed in on his junk.

Changing out of my swim suit and into my bike gear in the parking lot

All of the crap I had stuffed into my bike jersey - a camera, my cell phone, 4 packs of newtons, NUUN, enduralytes, and a multi tool!

It was so much fun to bike the course with Sara and Wil. We crammed everything into the bike - an epic flat ala Iron Wil, a nasty head wind for the first 30 miles, a quick thunderstorm, and wet roads on the way back. Thankfully, I had loaded up on Rice Krispies Treats and Combos at the gas station while we were waiting for the storm to pass, because I needed every ounce of that energy. The first downhill with wet roads and a side wind scared me to within an inch of my life. I've gotten really used to just gunning it on the downhills, but being pushed into oncoming traffic and feeling totally out of control forced a back off. Fortunately, the roads dried up as we got closer to Madison, and that sweet tail wind followed us back the whole way. Steve and I did our first run together in over a year - yay! I finished off the bike ride with a brick.

Of course no WIBA would be complete without some crazy bike sunburns!

Supper at the Great Dane was delicious as usual. I finally got to meet Min and few other first timers. It's crazy how much WIBA has changed since our first one three years ago. The camaraderie is still there. Now there's just more of it! Before we left, we had to snap a pic of of the original few who started all of this craziness, minus Thomps and E Speed.

That's a lot of fun crammed into one booth.

How cute are we?

Sunday's run commenced at 7:30,and Steve brought the sunshine with his yellow shorts. I got to run with Wil, XT4, and Thomps for the first 6 miles or so, and when they turned to head back, I joined up with Kat~, Ryan, and Ann (I think her name was Ann. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. I just remember that she has legs that I'm jealous of now and will never have in another 15 years). They are all making their first attempt at Ironman, so we talked a bit about the course, nutrition, etc. I think I totally sold Kat on Carbo Pro. You'll have to let me know how it works for you Kat! Usually I can't shut up when you get me talking all things Ironman, but I think Grandma's marathon the weekend before was finally starting to catch up with me. By the end, I was happy to have put in around 12 miles and to see the Terrace. We ran up the helix for effect. What a great way to end the weekends' workouts!

We stopped at Endurance House on our way out of town to say goodbye to our old and new friends. It's a good thing I don't live near Madison, because I'd be totally broke! That place is like the mecca of all things tri.

I slept the whole way home. No, seriously. I only woke up for Taco Bell and Dairy Queen. I was out for the other 4 hours. Have I mentioned how great my husband is?

WIBA was honestly my favorite vacation last year. I'd say it's in contention this year too. If you haven't had the chance to go, I'd highly recommend it. It's great to get in a good solid weekend of training, but it's really all about the friendships. I still remember driving out the first year knowing I was most likely crazy meeting up with a bunch of people I'd found online. I remember thinking it was weird that I'd never seen them in person but felt like I'd known them for years. I still only see these people once or twice a year (max), but they're really some of my best friends. I can't wait to see them all again at Steelhead and TCM, and maybe, just maybe, New Orleans. I'm still deciding on that one...
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We may (cross your fingers) actually get home internet hooked up tonight. Steve and Pharmie, welcome to the 21st century! If we do, more on WIBA to come later. If not, I'll have to stay late after work tomorrow to tell you all about it. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all, it was great to see our old friends again and meet some new ones, and I am SO excited to see everybody again at Steelhead.
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Grandma's Marathon Race Report

First of all, let me just say how excited I was to be able to do this race this year. Minnesota has several marathons, but Twin Cities and Grandma's are the two big ones. They regularly are ranked among the top pics for great marathons to run, mostly for the scenery, the spectators, and the race support. Since my family goes camping every year on Father's Day weekend, It's usually out, but once every 5 years, Grandma's takes place on the weekend after Father's Day. The last time this happened, it was just a couple of weeks before my wedding, and I opted against it. This year, though, I didn't want to miss my chance.

The week preceeding the race was pretty busy. We got back from camping on Sunday and put everything away. I started packing again on Monday, and by Wednesday, I had it all ready to go. Thursday Steve's parents were up, so I knew I wouldn't get anything done, and Friday we were going to leave as soon as I was done with work. I got up at 4 on Friday morning so I could be to work by 5 and (hopefully) finished working all of my patients up by 2. I had requested the day off, but we've been short staffed, so wrapping up early was my only option. Luckily, everything went as planned, and Steph, Borsch, and Steve picked me up around 1:50. You may have seen me napping in the car over on Steve's blog. Now you know why. I'd already put in 9 hours of work!

I had been a little nervous about the drive up to Duluth since we were on such a tight schedule, but thankfully, everything went swimmingly. We managed to avoid rush our leaving the Twin Cities, cabin traffic wasn't terrible yet, and the drive into Duluth would have been a breeze had it not been for an accident in the middle lane of the freeway that slowed us up briefly. As we got close to town, we realized that we'd even have time to check into our dorm before heading over to Justin and Kelly's house for supper. That's where we met up with Jess, Maddy, and Luke, some of our friends from undergrad. They were all running on Saturday too, so we gorged ourselves on pasta, garlic bread, and salad. It was a ton of fun to catch up with everybody, and we snapped this picture before we left:

From left to right: Steve, Kelly, her son Asa, Jess, me, Luke, Steph, and Maddy. You can't see it in the picture, but Kelly is 20 weeks pregnant, and she ran the half like a champ on Saturday, proving that it is in fact possible to combine exercising with having kids. You're my hero Kelly!

After supper, we drove to the expo to pick up our race packets - pretty uneventful, and since the clock was ticking, we didn't stick around long. Back at the dorms, we gathered all of our stuff for the race, and it was lights out by 10:30.

We set as many electronic alarm clocks as we could find, but one turned out to be enough - 4:45 wake up race morning! We donned our clothes, ate our oatmeal, and made our way to the bus.

Steph and me walking to the pick up spot.

Steve, Steph, and I waiting to board the bus.

Since it's a point to point marathon, the runners have to be bussed to the start line, so at T-2 hours, we were lined up like school children and boarding the yellow buses.

I fell asleep during the bus ride. It's a curse and a blessing not to be able to stay awake in a moving vehicle.

Once we got to the starting line, we pottied, stretched, looked for Maddy, Jess, and Luke (we never found them), and waited for Borsch to arrive on his bike. We snapped a few photos:

Steve and me ready to run

Steve went to find his place in line, and Steph and I decided that we needed emergency potty breaks. We were cutting it close by the time we got out of the port a potty line, so we had to cross a small ravine and jump the fence to get into the starting chute. We made it with a couple of minutes to spare! We were lined up between the 4:15 and the 4:30 pacers, and even though I was hoping to finish in 4:00, I knew I'd catch up to them soon enough.

I never heard the gun go off, but it wasn't long until the crowd started moving, and soon we were running! I said goodbye and good luck to Steph, and we parted to run our own races. I was a little sad to leave her since we'd done so many of our training runs together, and I wondered as I have in several of my marathons if going for time instead of going for fun and supporting others would really be worth it.

The first mile went perfectly. I wasn't pushing too fast, I felt comfortable, and I was making a conscious effort to take it easy. I hit my watch to split at mile one. I looked down and saw 9:00 flat. Crap. Ten seconds too fast. I knew I needed to back off just a little, and that's when it hit. I developed a nasty side stitch in my lower right quadrant. I tried belly breathing. Still there. I dug into it a little with my hand. No luck. I was nearly doubled over in pain and was having trouble breathing, so I stopped to walk for a second. I'd barely gone a mile. I took a couple of breaths, but nothing was working. Tried running again, and the stitch was back angrier than ever. I walked a total of 3 times before I even hit mile 2. I was starting to panic. I had already thrown my time goal out the window, and I was wondering how in the world I was going to finish the next 24.2 miles. It was going to be a very bad day. "Sarah!" I heard from behind me. I turned to see Steph and breathed a small sigh of relief. I told her what was happening, still panicked. She was going down the checklist of things to try, but I'd already done all of them. Just being next to my sister made me feel a little better, though, and soon the doubled over pain I was experiencing turned into a manageable pain that I could (sort of) run through. At mile 3, we stopped for water. Somehow we lost each other again. I looked for her for the next half mile, but I couldn't tell whether she was in front of me or behind me. The panic was subsiding, and determination to just finish the race was starting to set in. I honestly don't remember much of the race. The side cramps would migrate from side to side to the middle and back around again. I was totally miserable, and my usual joking, thanking and high-fiving the spectators, and striking up conversations with other runners didn't happen. The only volunteers I could muster up thanking were the ones handing me water and ice, which I desperately needed. At 75 degrees and full cloudless sun, the day was proving to be about 30 degrees warmer than my "ideal" marathon temperature.

Running with only a few miles left to go.

I saw Borsch a couple of times on the course. He turned out to be a great Sherpa, and I should have taken advantage of him more. I had sent him with some Rice Krispies Treats, just in case, and I really should have eaten them. I don't think shot bloks do it for me any more. I managed to consume 15 enduralytes over the run, but I could only choke down 8 bloks. I forced down 2 gels at mile 17, but I just couldn't eat any more bloks.

The course was really pretty - very scenic with trees on either side of the road, the occasional view of the lake, and the blue sky as the back drop. On any other day, I would have really enjoyed it. I can't say enough about the volunteers and the course support. There were ice and sponges at every water stop, and I took full advantage of them. I put one cup of ice under my hat and one cup full down my sports bra. It was the only way I could keep remotely cool.

Ironically, I started feeling better around mile 21 or so. Maybe it was the fact that there were more spectators. Maybe it was the fact that the sky had started to cloud over a little . Maybe I was just glad to be nearing the end. A little mental math revealed that I could at least break 5 if I stayed strong and didn't walk too much. Mentally, I still felt great. My legs were holding up just fine, better than any marathon I remember running in recent years. I was mostly able to keep the walking to every two miles during and for a few minutes after the water stops. I think I only had to stop early twice to alleviate the cramps.

I saw Borsch again at around mile 20. "Did Steve finish?" I asked. He just gave me a weird awkward smile and told me to keep running. I knew that meant that he either did really well or something had gone awry. I found out at the finish line that it was the latter.

I wasn't moving at warp speed, but I did pick it up for the last couple of miles and told myself that I could breathe when I'd crossed the finish line, cause obviously the cramps weren't going away. At mile 25, it started to sprinkle, and I wondered where that had been the whole hot day.

Finish time: 4:52:05, my 3rd slowest stand alone marathon, only faster than the day I had pneumonia and the day that the sun tried to melt the Twin Cities and Chicago (last year).

I found Steve at the finish, and he told me the bad news - he'd gotten really sick on the course and DNF'd. Maddy came in a few minutes after me, so we sat and waited for Steph and Jess. Mads showed me her nasty blisters. She somehow got them underneath the creases between her toes and feet, so she headed off to the medical tent for some popping. Luke had already been there to have his blood blister of a toe lanced. At least it was only one this time instead of all 10!

Steph told me how her race was going really well until about mile 21 when her entire leg locked up. Yikes!

My soaking wet body and clothes soon turned into my freezing cold body and clothes. The sun disappeared, and a short downpour ensued, so I needed my sweats and a blanket before we could snap this photo:

Hague House ladies sporting our medals!

The original plan was to take an ice bath in Lake Superior, but the teeth chattering pre lake dip convinced me otherwise.

We bussed back to the dorms, showered, and took wonderful naps before supper.

Getting ready before eating some of the most delicious fish I have ever tasted, I got a closer look at all of my burns. Turns out body glide wears off when you're soaked for 5 hours.

I like to call this one my "tramp stamp" burn.

In this one, you can see my bra burn, a burn on either side from the waist band of my shorts, and an extra special one on the middle of my abdomen from my creased number rubbing against my wet shirt. Yeah. Those all felt great in the shower.

Supper Saturday night was amazing. Hanging out with my friends again Saturday night was tons of fun, and brunch Sunday morning was inexplicably tasty. More naps ensued on the car ride back, and the weekend was over - marathon number 9 in the bag.

Thanks again to Borsch for being a great sherpa! Thanks Justin and Kelly for letting us raid your kitchen! Thanks to Steph, Maddy, Jess, and Luke for joining along! And thanks to all of the well wishers who have sent kind messages to Steve. It just wasn't his day, but I'm proud of him all the same.