...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...

T1:

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.

T2:

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.

Summary:

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!
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Redemption

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!
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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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WIBA! WIBA! WIBA!

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.