My Nutrilite Experience

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Well it’s officially been 3 weeks today since we got back from our trip to Long Beach, California to Tour the Nutrilite Center for Optimal Health. I was waiting to get my bloodwork back and to have my consultation with their medical director to write my full review, but since that happened this past Monday, I don’t really have an excuse anymore!

Nutrilite, a division of the Amway company, had contacted Steve and Me to see if we would be willing to come to California to check out their campus and learn more about their company. After verifying that they didn’t want our souls or even rights to our blogs in exchange for them picking up the tab, we agreed. Honestly, who wouldn’t want an excuse to leave Minnesota in November to see trees with leaves on them and water that’s not frozen? I finagled my work schedule around so we could make it a long weekend (I’ve never actually been to California and didn’t want LAX to be my sole experience). We flew down on Friday, spent the day with Nutrilite on Saturday, and had Sunday to do some more exploring of Long Beach. Steve took a ton of pictures of our adventures when we weren’t meeting up with Nutrilite. His post here has all of them.

I was actually pretty nervous going down there because Steve and I had no idea what to expect. Would they spend the whole day trying to sell us a ton of supplements? What kind of blood work would they be doing? We knew that this was a “blogger” event. Who else would be there? That last question was actually answered on our ride from LAX to our hotel where we met John, a fellow Minnesotan who is actually a weight loss blogger. I’ve been blogging and reading blogs since 2006, but it never really occurred to me that there are people who blog outside of the “athletic blog” scope. I mean, obviously I knew that there are blogs out there about literally everything, and sometimes they’re about nothing. I’ve never explored them, though. Honestly, for how much free time I have, I can’t even hit up all of the awesome tri/running/getting in shape blogs that are out there. As it turned out, Steve and I were the only “athletic bloggers” there. We had a great variety of weight loss bloggers, healthy living bloggers, and personal training bloggers. Steve and I have had a lot of blogger meet ups, so that part isn’t new to us, but it was a little different to have people bringing up our past races as awe inspiring and not just topic of conversation. My 50K at the end of October raised a few eyebrows.

Nutrilite is a division of Amway, and although I personally don’t have experience with that company, I am familiar with the stereotype of the pushy salesperson. Fortunately, I never felt like we were being pushed into anything. The day felt more like a learning experience and less like a sales pitch. We started off by having our blood drawn which was quickly followed by having a few measurements taken. I’ll discuss those results later. We were then treated to a tasty healthy breakfast before the learning began.

We started off the tour by learning a little bit more about how their supplements are made. One of their mottos is “Best of Nature. Best of Science.” This is probably a good description since the company chooses to extract the vitamins and other compounds directly from the plants that they organically grow themselves. They cited the numerous scientists and other researchers they have on staff and showed us a video of how the products are grown for their products. I don’t know how much evidence is out there comparing plant-based supplements to more conventionally made supplement products, but the theory behind it does make some sense. What I do know is that every person we met during our tour firmly believes in the quality of their products.

Let me take a quick break here to remind you that I am a pharmacist. As such, I came into this experience with a very different mindset. I am trained to be skeptical. I pick apart decisions that physicians make all day, every day. In my opinion, the best pharmacists are the ones that are of the mindset that every prescription is wrong until proven otherwise. It’s the safest way for my patients. Also as a pharmacist, I have seen over and over what happens when patients rely solely on supplements to treat very complex medical conditions, or worse, combine certain supplements with certain medications (this could potentially result in life threatening situations). I’m not saying that people should never use supplements. In fact, many supplements are beneficial, and some of them have been proven over and over again to be better than traditional FDA approved medications. It’s imperative, though, that if you choose to take supplements, you let your doctor and pharmacist know you’re doing so. I have long employed the strategy not to take anything “extra” in my exercise nutrition. Sure some of that stuff may give you more energy, but you really don’t know what it’s going to do to you after 17 hours of exercise. Bottom line: you need calories and electrolytes. Anything else is uncharted territory. Just because I’m a pharmacist doesn’t mean I’m a pill pusher, though, quite the opposite in fact. There are hundreds of conditions that need to be treated with conventional medicines, but those medications are not without risks themselves. They can have side effects, and they can be terribly expensive. I firmly believe that if there is a lifestyle change you can be making to lower the dose, number, or need for medications, you should be doing it. That’s why I found the Nutrilite Center for Optimal Health’s 8 Pillars of Optimal Health so refreshing. Their whole goal is to help people obtain their best health and to avoid some chronic conditions in the first place. (Interesting enough, this little soapbox basically says the same thing as the chapter in Dr. Duke’s book I just went back to read).

So… Those pillars of health. Most are self explanatory. They are:
1. Reduce your risk factors for chronic disease. Many of us were just given crappy genes, and there’s nothing we can do about that. Risk factors like smoking, however, can be changed.
2. Exercise – we learned about the 4-3-2-1 approach which I’d like to discuss on a future post.
3. Good macronutrition – eating appropriate amounts of carbs, protein, and fats.
4. Good micronutrition – getting appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (beneficial compounds found in food that aren’t vitamins or minerals). One great message I took away from my day at Nutrilite is to think color when thinking about phytonutrients. Color dictates the type of phytonutrients that can be found in a specific type of fruit or vegetable. There are 5 colors to look for – purple, orange, white, green, and red. Click here for more info regarding which phytonutrients can be found in your fruits and vegetables. Most people fall short in this category, and that’s where taking a daily multivitamin comes in. Nutrilite emphasized that taking a daily phytonutrient supplement should also be common practice. I don’t know if I’ve quite bought into that yet, but I have been working on eating lots of rainbows!
5. Mind, spirit, and positive attitude.
6. Adequate rest – are you getting enough sleep?
7. Good medical care.
8. Healthy environment and good hygiene.

Overall, I left the weekend knowing that I need to be taking better care of myself, especially in the nutrition department. I really struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables during the winter. I can’t get enough in the summer, but when the sun disappears, all my body wants is carbs. I’ve actually been doing a pretty good job in the 3 weeks we’ve been back. One thing that Steve and I have been doing more of is more frequent trips to the grocery store. We have the luxury of having more than 8 different grocery stores within a 5 mile radius of us. We used to employ the strategy of making one HUGE run every 3 weeks or so, but then we spent a ton of money, and much of the produce would go bad toward the end. Lately, we’ve been making weekly trips to the small organically-grown grocery store by our house (we save cereal runs and other pricey items for SuperTarget when I have my 10% off coupon – I can’t afford to feed Steve the $5/box cereal not on sale). The prices are a bit more expensive, but I’m not stocking up on crap that we don’t need and produce that’s going to go bad. Plus I’m really starting to realize the value of not putting tons of herbicides and pesticides into your body.

So as I mentioned earlier, I received my individualized health assessment in the mail at the end of last week, and Nutrilite’s Medical Director, Dr. Duke Johnson, gave me a call to discuss my results this past Monday. He started off the consult by stating that we were aiming for optimal health, not necessarily a perfect body. Good thing cause I’m far from it! Overall, there weren’t too many surprises.
* I need to work on flexibility (I have none in my hamstrings and am not a big fan of stretching in general).
* My bone density is great – chalk that up to 12+ years of running starting in my teens.
* I am deficient in Vitamin D – pretty common if you live in a northern latitude, or, as new research suggests, nearly anywhere. Turns out you may not get enough from sun exposure after all.
* My cholesterol numbers actually don’t look terrible, and my “good” cholesterol has improved since the last time I had it checked. This is one area where my bad genes come into play, so I’ve been watching it closely.
* My thyroid’s fine.
* My blood pressure and heart rate currently do not put me at risk for chronic disease.
* My body composition is still considered “healthy,” but it has changed over the last 6-7 years, even though my weight hasn’t. I think this may have to be the subject for a future post. Overall, my BMI, waist to hip ratio, and body composition combined fall somewhere between “ideal” and “normal.”
* One area that surprised me: my iron studies looked great. I can’t remember the last time I ate red meat. I actually have to force myself to eat any meat sometimes just because I know that I need the protein, so it’s nice to know I’m still doing OK in the iron department.

My consultation with Dr. Duke didn’t take very long. I knew what all of the lab values meant so I didn’t have a lot of questions. He did recommend that I take 3 pills of omega 3 (fish oil)/day, their magnesium/calcium/vitamin D supplement, Double X (their super powered multivitamin/mineral/phytonutrient combo), and a fruits and veggies supplement. That seems like a lot of stuff, and I still don’t know how I feel about taking all of it. One thing I did ask Dr. Duke about was the amount of Vitamin D found in their supplements. He stated that the Double X and the Mag/Ca/Vit D supplements each have 400 units. That would take me to a total of 800 units/day. The current accepted recommendation for Vitamin D is 1000-2000 units per day for people found to be deficient. None of Nutrilite’s products currently contain that much. Dr. Duke did state that they have a product coming out in another month or so that has higher Vitamin D levels. (Side note: Vitamin D is a fat soluble viamin. There is a possibility of “too much of a good thing. You can overdo it if you take too much).

Overall, the weekend was a great reminder of how to get and stay healthy and why our health needs to be a priority. I do think it kicked me in the butt a little bit, which I usually need this time of year. Racing season is over, and my body wants to go into hibernation mode. I left feeling like I had the tools to make some positive changes in my life.

(Full Disclosure: Nutrilite flew Steve and I out to their facility and paid for our hotel stay. They also paid for our blood work and several meals while we were there. I have no relationship with Nutrilite or Amway, and I was not paid for this write up. This statement is to comply with the new regulations.)

Surf the Murph 50K Race Report

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I think I'll preface this race report by saying that "officially" I am now an ultra runner, but I don't know how I really feel about it. I sort of consider a 50K a glorified marathon, like you don't really earn that title till you've gone MUCH further. Still, a number of seasoned ultra marathoners told me yesterday that I was now one of them, but I've quickly learned that that's just how welcoming they are.

We set the alarm for 4:30 AM. Steve's race didn't start till 8:30, but my registration opened just before 6, and I knew the drive would take me a little over 30 minutes. I got to the race site easily. My practice run there last week made me comfortable finding the site. I parked and went to find Guy and Jenny who were about to start their 50 mile race. I gave them both huge hugs and thanked them both for all of their advice over the last couple of weeks. A few minutes later, they were off!

I checked in, and it was just like Guy and Jenny said it would be. Everybody was super laid back and friendly, just standing around and chatting it up. I prepared my two gear bags then struck up a conversation with a fellow 50K runner. It was his first distance race. He skipped the marathon completely before braving a trail race. I don't think I would have been that crazy!

A minute or two before the race, we all filed out of the small park chalet. There was no "official" starting line. Nobody was running wind sprints to warm up. There was no National Anthem. We all stood out there with our head lamps on as the race director made it very clear that we were supposed to follow the flag markers and not the runners in front of us. Then he shouted "GO!" and we all took off. The 50 milers had started at 6, and the 25K, the marathon, and the 50K all started together at 7.

As we all headed into the darkness, you could hear all of the happy chatter between the runners, some between old friends and plenty of people making new ones. I talked it up with a couple of guys who were doing their first 50K, and we ran the first 3.5 miles together or so. When we hit that first aid station, I quickly learned the magic that is the food at trail races. They had everything - gummi bears, M&Ms, Gardettos, Cheese Its, Heed, Hammer Gels, and loads more. I wondered if I'd be able to peel myself away from the aid stations down the road!

The aid stations were small but well stocked!

I don't have a Garmin, so my plan was just to guestimate my pace using the approximate location of the aid stations. My lungs weren't burning too bad, but I hit the first one in 35:19 and quickly decided that I needed to slow down. I was in the most difficult area with lots of huge hills covered in rocks, roots, and leaves that required walking up them. I knew I needed to take that area slow in order to still be moving in 28 miles!

As I headed to the next aid station, daylight crept up, and I was able to take my headlight off. Miles 3.5-6 took me 35:09 (I'm not quite sure that the aid station was really at 3.5). It was the hilliest section, and there were times I had to walk the uphill and the downhill because the terrain was too steep and uneven.

The course sort of looks like a figure 8, and we did 2 loops. We left gear bags at the start and at mile 6, the middle of the figure 8. I dropped off my headlight and extra shirt, grabbed some more food (including a handful of yummy gummi bears!), and was off to start the bottom loop. Boy was it muddy! We had a beautiful day out there, but it had been raining for days, so the grassy area was pretty soupy in parts.



I hit mile 10 in 1:51:46. That aid station had all of the normal goodies plus pumpkin soup and banana bread. How cool is that? Right after that aid station, we headed onto some single track


Some of the single track



One of several downed trees in the path

Then the trail opened up to the real mud...


Much of the lower loop looked like this


I think this pic speaks for itself

I chatted it up with one of the 25 K runners for a while. His wife is an ultra marathoner, so it was cool to hear him talk about some of her races. He had to stop to change his shoes at the horse trailer aid station (which I hit in 36:5 for 2.5 miles - pretty sure that was off...). I kept going. It was on my way back that I met Hollie and Kami. Hollie had done a couple of 50Ks before, and Kami is a rock star who's done ultras all over the place, including Sawtooth 100 miler. Yes I said 100 miles. Holy. Smokes.

It took me around 1:04 to cover the last 3.7 miles. This part was a little single track before going back to rocks, roots, leaves, grass, and hills. Then we hopped onto some very adventurous single track to complete the loop. I finished the first lap in 3:33:21. I grabbed some more gummi bears from the aid station and refilled my Sharkies supply.

I also grabbed my cell phone. The plan was to have it so Steve and I could connect at the horse trailer aid station at mile 21.5. He called shortly after to say he was nearing the park, and I told him I'd be a little while, so he grabbed a foot long sub on his way. He'd already run in and placed 3rd at the Monster Dash 10 miler earlier that morning. My stomach was starting a little funny at that point, and I knew I was done with the Sharkies and the gummi bears. I was ready for some real food. My general rule for distance races is that if something sounds good, it'll go down and stay there. I was really in the mood for some PB & J, but the aid station didn't have any, so I grabbed a cup full of Gardettos. Yummy! I hit that aid station in 45:14, nearly 10 minutes slower than my first time covering that section.

It took me 35:37 to cover the next 2.5 miles or so, and the hills seemed MUCH bigger the second time around! I was still running with Hollie, Kami, and 2 other women, and at one point somebody commented that we had half to women's field in our pack. Now this atmosphere is FAR from competitive, but I think that comment got us all thinking a little bit... I was getting excited as I neared the horse trailer station because I knew Steve would be meeting me there to run the 6 mile bottom loop (the 50K and 50 mile runners were allowed pacers after the first loop).

I neared the park, looked up, and saw Steve sitting by the fire. The horse trailer aid station had PB & J, so I ate two 1/4 sandwiches and was on my way. It was SO fun to have him running with me. I apolized for taking him on the muddiest and least scenic part, but it was still beautiful.



Running with Hollie. Steve had just started with us.

The leaves were rustling, the geese were honking. It was just a gorgeous day.










We had great weather!



Picturesque

We ran the next 4 miles or so in 50:16. Then I headed into uncharted territory for me. That aid station was right around mile 26. I've run 11 marathons but never anything further...

The next 2 miles took us 41:42 (again, markers probably weren't exact).


Running through the reeds

Near one of the lakes


Running through the sumac

And then we saw the aid station.


(You can see the aid station on the far left.)

We said goodbye, gave each other a smooch, and Steve took a shortcut to the finish line in his car. I had just under 4 miles to go. The funny thing is that during a marathon, 4 miles seems like an eternity, but yesterday I "only" had 4 miles left. I tried to walk fewer hills. I just kept telling myself that I didn't need to conserve energy any more. I didn't have much choice but to walk when we were on the steep leaf covered muddy single track hills or when I was climbing over trees, but I kept running when I could. When I crossed from single track to open trail for the final time, I saw Steve sitting at the top of the hill. He was cheering like a maniac, even after running 20 or so miles of his own. He jogged with me to the finish.


Coming out of the single track. You can see the markers on the right.


One last hill...



The "finish line"


I did it!


I had just finished. Guy and Jenny were heading out
for another loop to finish out their 50 miler.

Final thoughts:

* There aren't any official results up yet, but I'm guessing I was in the bottom 1/4 or so. I'm sure with more than 2 practice trail runs beforehand, I'll feel a lot more comfortable knowing where and when to conserve my energy and when I can use a little more of it.

* I LOVE this community. It totally suits me - the food, the friendliness, the beauty of the course, everything. I thought more than once while I was out there that I was racing in the gorgeous fall woods with 160 new friends while Steve was in the middle of downtown Minneapolis with over 5000 other runners worrying about traffic, parking, and porta potty lines. Not to say that I don't like that once in a while, just not every time.

* The race went by SO fast. I know it sounds crazy, but there wasn't a lot of down time to dread how much further I needed to go.

* It's so much fun exploring a new athletic community. I remember when I first started in the tri community, I had no idea what Clearwater was. Yesterday I heard all sorts of race names that were totally unfamiliar, and it was exciting. It was really nice to know a couple of people who've done this before who I could harass with questions beforehand. It made a HUGE difference in my preparation for the race.

* This course was GREAT. The race directors are well known in the ultra community, and they did a fabolous job setting everything up. Everything went well, and I don't have a single complaint. The course was marked so well that at one point I hadn't seen a marker in a while and was sure I'd missed a turn somewhere. Turns out there just wasn't a need for extra markers at that point, and I was so used to seeing them all the time that a brief period between them got me a tad worried :)

* Training for a 50K isn't that much different than training for a marathon, but it's so much less about your mile splits and so much more about pacing yourself.

* I got some SERIOUS core workout yesterday. I coughed at around mile 27 and thought my entire core would explode.

* That being said, I'm really not too sore today. I would say that my muscles are a little more sore than after running a marathon, but my joints hurt FAR less. My right arm is killing me from carrying a water bottle for around 20 miles, but I'm not worried.

* If you're thing about trying a trail race of any distance, go for it! It's a blast. It's 100% different from road races, but you may just get hooked. I think I am!



Enjoying finally sitting down!


Those shoes looked new when I started. I think they look better now!


Steve and me warming up by the woodstove in the chalet


I don't know why, but my fingers REALLY swelled up afterward.
Thankfully it went away quickly!



Before I hopped in the shower. Notice the swollen toes to match the swollen fingers. What's missing? Blisters. I don't even have one...
Thanks again to Guy and Jenny for all of their pre-race advice, Steve for supporting me all the time through this craziness and running with me, and Kami and Hollie for keeping me company out there! See you next time! I have a feeling there will be one. :)

What the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks Have I Gotten Myself Into??

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So, about this 50K... Like I said in my last post, I waited to officially sign up for this race until I knew how well the groin would hold up. Training on hilly trails sounded like the last thing I should be doing, so I didn't really hit them until I felt good after TCM. Two weeks ago, I bought my new shiny blue trail shoes and hit up some single track by our house.

Yesterday I used my day off to check out the Murphy Henrehan park reserve, where the race will be held on the 31st. The plan was to do the 15.6 mile loop and tack on a couple of other jaunts to add a few miles. I brought the map with me. Thank God I did.

The race is offering four different distances - a 25K, a marathon, a 50K, and a 50 mile. All of the races incorporate the 15.6 mile loop, but the marathon and 50 mile tack on a little extra. I'll be doing 2 loops.

The loop is described as rolling hills for the first 6 miles with rocks and roots, flat and runnable for the next 6 miles, single track for 0.5 miles around mile 12 and then back to rolling hills. Since this is all new territory for me, I really had no idea what to expect. Turns out that "rolling hills" are some serious grade changes that I've really never experienced before. I'm sure these pale in comparison to some trail races out there, but yikes! I'm going to have to take it REALLY easy for those first few miles, both for footing's sake and to preserve some energy. I really didn't' know what "very runnable" meant in reference to the 6-12 mile mark, but it turns out that this is a good description. There are significantly fewer rocks and roots, and it's relatively flat. By the time I got to this part, I was already getting tired. It was cooling off, and I had put my long sleeves back on. I was starting to wonder if I'd ever get back to my car! On the way back, I was walking off and on and feeling a little disoriented. I wondered if it was the cold air, me being tired, or the fact that so much of the terrain looks the same. By the time I hit my car, I was more tired and sore than I anticipated I'd be. Today my thighs feel like they're going to fall off.

A couple of things to ponder:

* On my run, I met Les, the race director. He was the first person I'd seen in nearly 2 hours, so I was a bit startled at first. He asked if I was racing next weekend then introduced himself. Small world!

* I emailed a new friend to ask a few more questions about running a race this distance. It's great to know a few people who have done this distance (and much further) before. The race website says that they will have "the usual ultra foods" I wondered what that meant. Guy replied, "Foods are water, electrolyte drink,Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, Hammer gels or similar, fruit, cookies, cakes,brownies, pb&j sammies, candies (gummi bears, m&ms, etc), and my personal favorite, canned boiled potatoes that you dip in a dish of coarse salt. (try it!) The volunteers are almost always fellow runners, so you'll also see specialty treats like homemade jerky, banana bread, grilled cheese sandwiches,and in the summer; fresh strawberries on ice!!!" Holy cow you may not be able to peel me away from the aid stations!

* I did get lost a few times out there. Well technically, I wasn't lost. I had just taken the wrong turn. I ended up backtracking plenty of times. When Guy emailed me, he told me, "You'll be surprised how stupid you become after running through the woods for a few hours." OK. This makes me feel a little better both on the lost front and the slightly disoriented front.

If nothing else, this should be quite an adventure!

Twin Cities Marathon Race Report

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Better late than never seems to be my recurring theme here. Looks like the last time I posted around here was over a month ago. Yeesh! My tenth Twin Cities Marathon has come and gone, and this year did not disappoint!

There was much more preparation involved this year because in addition to Borsch and I doing the marathon, 10 of our family members were doing the 10 mile. Many of them were staying at our place, and most of them were eating here for their pre-race and post-race meals. The weeks leading up to the race were a flurry of emails about sleeping assignments, food assignments, and changing guest lists. My family kept commenting on how excited they were that the race would be over soon. I was starting to wonder whether encouraging them all to sign up was such a good idea.

Steve, my brother Matt and I went down to the expo the day before the race. It was a flurry of activity, and we stopped to talk to several friends we saw down there. Mark and Kris were doing the 10 mile, Alli and Ryan were doing the marathon, and my coworker Julie was doing the 10 miler. I managed to get out of the expo without totally draining our bank account. I found a super cute pair of 26.2 undies for my bud Maddy's batchelorette party that was that evening. We stopped by the costume place to pick up the farm animal costumes before we drove home.

I spent the afternoon cleaning and getting some of the food ready. After most of it was ready and some of the guests were arriving, I scurried off to make an appearance at Maddy's party. I'm not so sure it was a good idea. I spent my time at home worrying whether I'd make her party on time, and I spent my time with the girls worrying whether Steve was managing OK with my family at my place. I left Maddy's just before 8 and got home a frazzled mess worried that I'd messed up on both accounts. I shouldn't have been. Maddy was glad I stopped by for a couple of hours, and my family was all fine (Steve is AWESOME!). We got all 14 people through our one working bathroom in a reasonable amount of time, and Steve and I turned our lights off at 10:30.

I didn't sleep all that well the night before the race, which is a little unusual for me. I dreamt about it most of the night. Steve got up before our 5:30 alarm clock went off. Turns out I wasn't the only one not sleeping well. It didn't take long for our house to be a flutter with race morning activity! My aunt Jen was dreading her 10 miler. She compared her feeling of dread waking up to the way she felt before going into brain surgery a couple of years ago. Other relatives chimed in that they were ready to get it over with. I was really feeling bad for having pushed them to sign up. The marathon didn't start till 8, but we left the house early so we'd have time to spare for the 7 am 10 mile start time. Borsch and I said goodbye to them all and went back into the Metrodome to warm up. There was a chill in the air, but I knew I'd warm up as soon as we started running, so I was just wearing my shorts, a sleeveless shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a garbage bag to keep me warm. I sent all of my warm clothes with my mom to have at the finish. Borsch and I did a bit of stretching before making one last stop at the potties. I didn't get to see him again before the start (turns out the guys line was SUPER long, and they waited 15 minutes before hijacking the women's bathroom).

By the time I got outside, the chute was full. I saw Jenny, Guy, and Kim lined up. They had a huge bucket of candy ready for the kids along the course. Too fun! We wished each other good luck, and I snuck up a little further in line. I had been gunning for a sub 4 hour race all summer long, but the injury and a couple of really terrible training runs had left me doubtful whether this was possible or smart. I had hoped for some last minute long runs to re-evaluate the plan, but then my buddy xt4 sent me a come back to Earth email reminding me that what I really needed with an injury was rest. I thought about it for a few days and realized that he was right. I changed my time goal to closer to 4:10 (around 9:30s) knowing that if the groin really acted up, I'd be lucky just to finish. When the gun went off, I was well behind the 5 hour pacers. I kept it super easy for the first few miles.

Mile 1: 9:39. I heated up quickly. I knew I would. The garbage bag came off.

Mile 2: 9:10. Still feeling good. I smiled as I ran by the Basilica with its bells ringing. The long sleeves came off too.

Mile 3: 10:59 hit the lap late, got boxed behind some people at the water stop

Mile 4: 8:43 laughing and joking with the other runners

Mile 5: 8:57
Mile 6: 10:33 - looked over at the lake and marveled at the beauty of this race
Mile 7: 8:32
Mile8: 9:38 -gave my long sleeved shirt to a coworker. I was plenty warm!
Mile 9: 9:21
Mile 10: 9:25
Mile 11: 9:15 - still feeling good. This is the point where the wheels came off in my last 20 miler...
Mile 12: 9:24
Mile 13: 9:32
Mile 14: 12:03- had to make a planned stop at the porta potty. In 10 years, this was the first race where I had to run with a ziplocked tampon tucked into the waistband of my shorts. It cost me nearly 2.5 minutes but was totally unavoidable.

Mile 15: 9:14
Mile 16: 9:36 - I felt so strong. I was starting to hurt, but I remember hitting the mile marker and thinking, "This is how a marathon is supposed to feel!" Right around this time, I found my coworker Tzivia. We run about the same pace, and I was so excited to see her. We were both feeling great and commented how the miles had been flying by.

Mile 17: 9:45
Mile 18: 9:24 - I was feeling a little low on fuel but had run out of everything I'd brought. I took advantage of the orange slices and bananas spectators had brought for us.

Mile 19: 9:33
Mile 20: 9:31 - grabbed a couple of Gu packets from the Gu stop (the only one on the course)
Mile 21: 9:23 - saw Maddy and Luke. Maddy was upright after her night of debauchery! I was so surprised to see her, and I gave her a huge hug

Mile 22: 9:59 - up one of the last big hills on Summit.
Mile 23: 9:23
Mile 24: 9:02 - Tzivia and I were picking up the pace. I was feeling good but didn't know if I could hold onto that for 2 more miles. I told her to go on ahead without me. It actually worked out great because she looked for my family at the Cathedral and told them I was right behind her.

Mile 25: 9:41 - I knew I wouldn't break 4:10 but was RUNNING and feeling great
Mile 26: 9:49 - I high-fived my whole family as I ran by them
Last 0.2: 1:54 - I went as fast as I could but didn't have much in the reserves at that point.

Total finishing time: 4:11:38 - my second fastest marathon ever. My PR is 3:58. Someday I'll get there again.

Final thoughts:

1. My family had a blast. I needn't have worried. They all did better than they expected and are talking about "next time."

2. I've been doing this long enough to know what works. After my 20 miler, I went back to my old shoes. I'm back in the stability ones I've been wearing for years and will save the neutral ones Endurance House recommended for shorter runs. I wore my typical 45 degree outfit (shorts) despite my body telling me I should have dressed warmer. I was hot and sweating out there in no time. I brought Nuun along cut into 6ths. I dissolved it into my cups of water. Sometimes I chewed it first (it's not pleasant). It helps my stomach so much that I had to bring it along, and when I was impatient, I chewed it with a mouthful of water. It absoluely worked.

3. Could I have gone a bit faster and come closer to breaking 4? Likely. But there are some things that you can't change, like necessary bathroom breaks. I could have walked through fewer aid stations. I could have shut up while running with Tzivia. I could have put my head down and gutted it out, but I likely would have blown up, felt miserable, and not have been able to break 4 anyway. Eleven minutes is a long time, even for a marathon. I had SUCH a fun time out there. I hugged my friends. I high-fived my family. I welcomed newcomers to the race. I thanked the spectators and volunteers, and for me, that's what running the Twin Cities Marathon is all about.

4. The groin was sore but held up just fine. I think I'm finally on the mend. I wanted to see how it did before making any decisions, but I think I'm in the clear. I've been eyeing this one local race since this spring but couldn't really decide till I knew where my body was. This week I did it. I officially signed up for the Surf the Murph 50K on Halloween. I've never run a long trail race before. I went out to test the trails last weekend and will be going out again tomorrow. I'm not sure I know what I've gotten myself into, but maybe that's for the better...

Get Ready to Rock 20 Mile Abbreviated Race Report

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I was heading into this run knowing it was make or break time. My recent injuries and lackluster long runs left me a little worried about covering the distance. Turns out I should have been. In summary, it totally sucked. I spent the first half of it trying to perform damage control. My left groin was sore. My right one started hurting too, and my abs were cramped up the whole time. I felt nauseated. The humidity and temperatures climbed really quickly. I had to pee from the start of the run, and in the absence of viable bushes, I had to wait for the porta potty at mile 11. My average quickly dropped from 9:15 for the first 11 to 10:30s for the total run. At mile 19, I decided that I really needed to suck it up and just finish the run. At mile 19.5, the nausea got really bad, and I proceeded to barf 4 times while a half a dozen people ran by cheerily chirping that we were almost there. I finished. Steve says my finisher's photo looks as good as I felt.

I've got work to do:

1. Nail down my nutrition plan. I may be wearing a Fuel Belt for the whole marathon. If it means losing a few seconds per mile to maintain adequate nutrition, I'll take it.
2. LOTS AND LOTS of ab work in the next 3 weeks. The salvage workout mentality has left me super squishy in the midsection.
3. Instead of the 15 miler on the books for this weekend, I think I'm going to make it 17 or 18. I need one more practice run.
4. I'm going to feel out my old shoes. When Endurance House did my footstrike analysis at WIBA at the end of June, they determined that I was a more neutral shoe girl, not stability. I remember vowing to myself that if I started to get injured, I'd go back to what's worked for the last 10 years. I did transition myself to the new shoes over a month's time, but that may not have been long enough. I ran my tempo run in my trusty Saucony Hurricanes yesterday, and I felt OK. I think the groin is slowly getting better anyway.

Right after the run, we headed out to Madison to volunteer at IM Moo. It was the most fun I've had in a weekend in a long time. Steve has tons of pictures, but I'll have to hit the highlights in the next couple of days! Happy training everyone!

St. Croix Valley Olympic Distance Tri Race Report

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Well, here it is - my last tri race report of 2009. The outdoor pools are all closing, and the lakes are getting colder. In a couple of weeks, they won't be swimmable. It'll be too cold. I had high hopes for this race when I first signed up. It would be my first oly of the year, and I really have been working on getting faster. The groin injury, however, resulted in a screeching halt in my training, and I've been on the bike and in the water all of twice each since Chisago 70.3 at the end of July. Like I said in my last post, I've been just trying to get in most of my critical runs in an effort to be well enough for the marathon next month. It's hard to turn that race mentality off when you get to the site, though. I had told myself all week that if my leg wasn't feeling it, it was totally ok to DNF if it meant saving the marathon.

Steve and I got to the race site about an hour early. We knew it would be a small race (the sprint the day before had 400 + participants but the oly only had 111). Even though the race was technically in Wisconsin (Hudson), it's just a little over 20 minutes from our door. We set up our stuff, said hi to our friend Jen and her hubby, and shimmied into our wetsuits.



Jen and me getting body marked


The Swim:

The swim was a 2 wave start. Men went first and women and teams went out 3 minutes later. I knew I hadn't really put in any swim time, but somehow my times always come out the same regardless of how much work I put in, so I was still hoping to come out in around 35 minutes - slow by most people's standards but pretty normal for me. I positioned myself toward the inside and at the back. I'm slow enough that this position just seems to work for me, and this time was no exception. I had a lot of open clear water for much of the two loop swim, and compared to my swim at Chisago, it was very drama free. I hopped out of the water in 34:11, a PR by over a minute since my last oly.

T1:

I was very careful taking off my wetsuit. I sat down and pulled my left leg out with my arms for fear that I'd really aggravate my groin if I tried to get it off normally. Jerry MacNeil, local tri announcer, joked that I was demonstrating one way to get a wetsuit off and then commenting that I had MUCH better balance than Steve in putting on my socks and shoes. It felt kind of cool having somebody giving my play by play in transition. Thanks Jerry! After all that futzing around, I was out in 1:50.

The Bike:

The bike was the big "if" of the race. I haven't been putting in the miles, and even though I knew this was just a 40K, it's still something that should be trained for. I had talked to the ART doc on Wednesday asking for his blessing, and he specifically mentioned that I should be careful not to pull up with my left leg. I was on track for my calculated sub 3 splits after the swim and T1, and I spent most of the bike trying to baby my leg but pushing hard enough to keep at least a 17 mph average, what I knew I'd have to pull on the bike in order to even be close to 3. I got passed by a couple of guys initially but I did pass one woman and a few guys later on. Otherwise we were pretty spread out. The roads on the bike were a little rough in spots, but overall the course was beautiful. It was a gorgeous summer/fall day, and it felt great to be on my bike. My average slowly crept up, and by the end, I finished the bike in 1:24:40, a 17.5 mph average, and another PR by over a minute. I know that had I been better trained, I could have been WAY faster here, but I was just happy to eek out what I did.

T2:

I hopped off my bike, and my groin was SUPER stiff. My normal hustle to the rack was quickly reduced to a walk in an attempt to stretch out my leg enough to actually muster up something for the run. To my relief, it started loosening up pretty quickly. Coming in on the bike, I really had to pee, and for a couple of seconds, I thought I'd be able to pee on the bike, but I just couldn't relax enough. I was in and out of T2 in 1:59 with a port a potty stop.

The Run:

Truth time. Had I really screwed something up in my groin or would I be OK? The first couple of steps on the run felt pretty stiff, but I was able to loosen up a little bit. I took a gel right off the bat and focused on a relaxed upper body and a shorter but quicker stride (long strides tend to irritate the injury). To my astonishment, the mile 1 marker showed up really quickly. I looked down at my watch and saw 8:54. I was hoping to hold onto that. It would easily secure a sub 3 hour race. Starting the run, I was excited that it was only a 10K. After 3 half iron distance races this year, somehow 6.2 miles seemed short! I didn't have enough room on my watch for all of my run splits, so I took them every 2 miles. I hit mile 2 in 17:04 which meant that either I was picking up speed really fast or the mile marker was short. Miles 3 and 4 took me 18:49, so I'm guessing the markers were a little off. I got really direction turned between miles 3 and 4. It was a pseudo out and back with a bit of winding around in the middle. I was so confused for a second that I was questioning the run distance we were covering! I was still feeling strong at that point. My weekly tempo runs with Matt have gotten me used to running with side stitches and out of my comfort zone, so I just pretended that I was running with him! I kept trying to pick up the pace knowing that barring no major catastrophes, sub 3 was on its way. As I hit the 400 mark, I could hear footsteps. Someone was gaining on me. Drat. I had been passing people here and there, but nobody had passed me since the first 1/4 mile of the run. I wasn't about to let it start just before the finish. When the guy finally caught up to me, I saw that it was one of the guys I had passed and chatted with a little before mile 1. He thanked me then told me I had a great pace and that I had been his rabbit all day. I had a little gas in the tank, so I picked it up and pulled him in.



Booking it in at the finish - you can see the guy chasing me's elbow


I finished those last 2.2 miles in 17:29
I averaged just under 8:37/mile for the 10K, which is a huge improvement over my last oly run. Total time was 2:56:04, over 10 minutes faster than my previous PR. Never being fully satisfied, I can't help but wonder how much better I could have done had I been totally healthy, but I guess this just means I'll have room for improvement on my next one! It's a little disappointing to see that I still came in 9/10 in my age group, but 7 of the top 10 women were in my age group, and I can't argue with improvement.
Overall, this was a super low-key, well-run race. I would totally recommend it. Steve and I had a blast, and he even came in 2nd in his age group.
If the groin holds up, I may do a local 20 mile road race next weekend. I'll keep you posted!

Long Overdue Update - Running and Lack Thereof

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During my Chisago race report, I promised to write again on the recent success that I've been having in my running. It was right around that time that I was feeling on top of the world on every run. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was running my weekly long runs by myself and tempo runs with my brother Matt, and we were really pushing each other. I was feeling so good that I was starting to realize that sub 4 was definitely in my future, and a little voice in my head was asking if I should be aiming to BQ, a feat I've long thought I'd have to age into. Around 3 weeks ago, though, I started having a little bit of groin pain during and after my runs. I took it easy until my next important run of the week - no cross training in between, just aiming to heal up enough to get through another vital piece of training. I've still managed to get in my tempo runs with Matt, but I haven't done intervals in around a month, and my 20 mile long run this past Tuesday was bad enough to rank in the top 5 worst runs I've ever had. I only made it 16 miles, and I had to walk a couple of those miles. It wasn't just my groin. I had nutritional issues, side cramps, and mentally, I was toast - feeling really defeated, like my whole body has atrophied in the past month. I don't do injuries.

I saw Steve's ART chiropractor twice this week. It's either a very strained groin muscle or a sports hernia. I thought hernias were for old grandpas. During my first visit, Dr. Folske was thinking there's a 50/50 chance of hernia vs muscle. My visit Wednesday went better, though, and now we're thinking it's more likely muscle. He's giving me a few more visits before referring me to a surgeon. The good news is that it's tolerable pain if I alter my stride just a bit. The bad news is that it's slowing me down. The marathon is just over 4 weeks away. I'm not sure where this is headed. I'm still keeping sub-4 in sight, but I NEED a good 20 miler before then.

Steve and I are signed up for the St. Croix olympic distance tri this weekend. I don't think I'd be doing it if I hadn't already paid the money. It has quickly turned from an A race with the goal of finally hitting sub 3 to a "C" cross training day set up to keep me healthy enough for the marathon. Arrg.

OK, enough griping. I am really thankful that I am able to still be out there. I know it could be much much worse. I'm just so used to being healthy. On a positive note, I am downright giddy to be volunteering at IM Moo this year. We literally have a dozen or so friends doing the race, and It'll be a mini vacation for us! SO excited to visit Ironman village! In the meantime, if you need to find me I'll be doing groin stretches and flat legged situps in my living room :)

Chisago Lakes Half Iron Distance Race Report

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The alarm clock went off EARLY Sunday morning - too early if you ask me. Steve and I had packed up the bikes and all of our gear after our pasta feed on Saturday night. When I asked Steve what time he was setting his alarm for. He replied 3:45 AM, and my response was, "Why?? We're not leaving until 5! I'm not getting up until 4:30." Steve and I always disagree on this point. He likes to be up at some obscene time on race morning to be the first one in transition. I prefer to sleep in and get there with plenty of time to spare but not so much time that I sit around and stew about the race. Turns out that we both won, or lost I guess. Steve's early alarm clock woke me up, and I couldn't really fall back asleep. However, we didn't leave till around 5. It left us both a little crabby.


We got to the race site, and I couldn't believe how busy it was! We had no trouble finding parking, but we did have to park a couple of blocks further away than in the past. I dropped off my bike and went to pick up my race packet. The lady handed me my race packet with my T-shirt - a size large. I had registered for a small. She also told me that she hoped I'd brought a swim cap. They were all out. I could feel my frustration increasing. I normally love this race. I've done it twice and am quick to tell people how great of a race it is - well organized, fairly low key, and relatively inexpensive compared to other half iron distance races. When I told the volunteer that they had me down for the wrong size, she apologized and told me to come back at the end of the race. Turns out I wasn't the only one. Two other women in transition also had registered for small shirts and were given larges. I tried to brush off all of the frustration. There was nothing I could do about it, and I didn't want it to affect my race. I was also a little nervous about the closeness in transition. I could barely squeeze sideways between the bike tires. I had no idea how I'd squeeze my bike through there too.


Transition closed promptly at 6:45. Steve and I had each seen two different pairs of his students while we were preparing in transition, so we knew we were all there. We met them down at the beach as planned. I was so excited for them! We snapped several pics, I gave Steve a smooch and wished them all luck, and I went to wait in line for my wave to start. I was in wave 6 of 10, and before I could think too much about anything, I was off!


The Swim:

We were in waves of 50, and since the waves went by time of registration and not by age group, I lined up toward the back and outside to avoid getting trampled. Almost as soon as I got my face in the water, my goggles filled up. Dang. I popped up, treaded water by just kicking, shook out the water, and started up again. Again they started leaking. I pressed them onto my face more to get a better seal. The water was really distracting, but every time I tried to breathe left (I breath every 3rd stroke), the sun rising BLINDED me. I tried dumping the water out of my goggles again. There wasn't more than a few drops left in them, but it felt all wrong. I started to panic. I had barely started the swim, I was out of breath, and I was panicking. How am I going to get through the next mile? I started getting a really sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is silly. I pride myself on staying calm in all sorts of horrible situations in the water. I need to calm down. Despite my best effort, it just wasn't working. I started to wonder if my race was over before it had even really started. I was verging on a total meltdown. I looked up and saw one of the volunteers just sitting on the edge of the swim line holding onto her orange life preserver buoy. I swam over to her and told her that I just needed to rest a second and get the water completely out of my goggles. (For those of you who don't know, the rules are that you can stop, hold on, and rest as long as you need to provided that you receive no forward propulsion from doing so.) The volunteer smiled and kindly acknowledged that swimming in a lake is much different than swimming in a pool. I don't remember what I told her. I think I just mumbled something. I wanted to tell her that I'd done this more times than I could even attempt to count, that this was the first time anything like this had ever happened, that I'm not the type of person who panics in a swim. Instead, I just held on, methodically dumped all of the water out, wiped my goggles, and started back into the swim. I instantly felt much better. I was finding a rhythm again when I went to breathe left and someone physically pushed my face under right as I was about to suck in air. I felt the panic creep back in, but this time, I was able to brush it off. I've never understood why people do malicious things during the swim. I don't think I ever will. The rest of the swim was relatively uneventful. I eventually settled into a comfortable pace. When I hit the turn around of the out and back in 18 minutes, I knew it was short. Dang. I was secretly hoping for a PR, and a PR just doesn't feel the same on a short course. Eighteen minutes halfway through a half swim is normal for a lot of people, but not for me. With my lack of pool time, I figured I was looking at about a 45 minute swim. There's a difference between a good day and a miracle, and with the start to my swim, I knew it was short. I'm not sure what my official time was exiting the water, but my total swim time came to 39:27 after running up a huge hill into transition. This is nearly a 6 minute PR for me, so either I had divine intervention or it really was a little short.



T1:

I needn't have worried about getting my bike out in T1 because many/most of the rest of the bikes were gone. I loaded up my jersey, threw on my gear, and was out in 2:56.



The Bike:


My goal on the bike was to PR. The last time I did this race, it took us down along the river and on some TERRIBLE roads. I had heard they changed the course and was curious to see how it was. The new roads were AWESOME! Nearly every one was new. There was a several mile stretch of road toward the end that was reminiscent of the old course, but for the most part it was great. There were lots of small hills and one big hill around mile 45. We had a head wind for the first 25+ miles, and I knew it would be a tail wind on the way back. I tried to keep my cadence up and keep working without pushing too hard. After the initial flock of people passed me and the sprint course participants turned off our course, I settled into a good pace and did a lot of passing. I pulled over at one water stop to shift my water bottles around when a porta potty opened up. I jumped on the opportunity, which probably cost me a couple of minutes, but when I really have to pee, it affects my ability to get in adequate nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, I really tried to focus on it this time around. I've had my share of nutrition issues this year, and I was determined not to let it get the best of me. I stopped once more around mile 45. One woman had pulled over, and when I asked me if she needed anything, she replied that she had flatted again and needed a CO2 cartridge. I gave her mine thinking it was good ju-ju. Turns out I was right. I finished the bike in 3:10:28 (the bike was a bit short at 55.4 miles), just a few minutes slower than my 3:05 pr at Steelhead, which was really short at 54.5 miles. My average came to 17.4 MPH, which isn't too shabby for me.

T2:

I hit T2 a little frustrated again. The swim was short and the bike was short. I knew I was on stellar PR pace but didn't want to earn it on a short course. I didn't see Steve at first, and I was totally OK with that. I was hoping he was out there with his students and they were all having a great time. I had to hike my bike up onto my shoulder to get it into the tight transition area! I unloaded and reloaded my pockets and was out - 2:10.

The Run:

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on my run, and it's slowly getting faster. Secretly, I was thinking that I could stay sub 10 minute miles if I felt great, and when I hit my first mile in 9:10 feeling good, I got pretty excited. My goal was to keep things steady but easy for the first 10 and let it all out for the last 3 if I had anything left. The run was an out and back, so I was cheering TONS of people in as I was heading out. It kept me positive and kept me distracted. The first 3 miles were relatively shady, and I continued to feel great. The next 3 miles were out in the open, and even though it was just a little over 80 degrees, it had some major intensity. I was heating up! Just after the 6 mile mark, I turned onto the little loop they have us do before heading back. On that back stretch, I saw the medics with somebody, and when I looked in the car, I saw it was our friend Jeremy! I stopped dead in my tracks. I asked Jeremy if he was OK. He sort of just shook his head. Come to think of it, he was shaking all over. I made sure the medics had called his girlfriend, who was back at transition with their kids. Then I started back up knowing there was really nothing more I could do. At that point, the combination of the heat, having already run nearly 7 miles, and seeing a good friend being hauled away by ambulance started to get to me. I really felt myself pushing but could barely muster 10-11 minute miles. I did see a few friends out there, including Nat, AmyBee, Ally, and Dr. Joe, who I had befriended at liberty. When I hit the 10 mile mark, I really started pushing, but my splits weren't getting much faster. I kept pushing. I passed a guy at mile 11.5 who decided to run with me. We ran the next 1.5 miles together saying very little but quietly pushing each other in. It was his first half, and he's doing Arizona in November. I wasn't feeling great at that point, but having someone running with me really seemed to help. We ran our last mile pretty fast, and when we saw the finish line, he told me that I deserved to finish first since I had pushed him to keep going. Not wanting to hold him up, I sprinted in. Ten feet before the finish line, I had to stifle the urge to puke. I hit the finish line along the fence knowing that there was a good chance I wasn't going to be able to stifle that urge much longer. I was searching for the perfect spot. I looked over the fence - computers and timing equipment, no good. Someone hollered to me that they needed my chip. I ignored them. I was headed for an emergency. I looked at the grass in front of me - definitely a possibility, but then I saw it. There was a big Rubbermaid tote with used cups and other garbage toward the back of the finish area. I walked over, leaned in, and let out some serious projectile vomit. Twice. It was heavenly. I layed down on the grass and hoped the nausea would pass, and instantly two volunteers ran over asking if I was OK. I smiled and told them that I was fine, that I just needed to lay down for a bit. One of them asked if he could take my pulse. I replied that he was welcome to, but I had just sprinted to the finish line so it was likely going to be crazy. Then I apologized for having barf breath. I tried to keep joking around with them because I really did feel OK. I slowly sat up, waved to Steve, and asked him if he got the ralphing incident on camera. I often feel nauseated at the end of races, and it's not uncommon for me to have to rest for a second for it to pass, but I have to say that I'm pretty proud of the fact that I actually did hurl. I guess it's sort of a badge of honor thing. I really did push myself hard. It paid off too. I pr'd on the run by 2 minutes - 2:11:53 for an average of 10:04/mile, not too far off my goal of sub 10s. Total finishing time: 6:06:59, a 30 minute PR, a 20+ minute PR if you want to add some extra time on for another 0.5 miles on the bike and 0.2 miles for the swim. Either way, I'm starting to wonder if sub-6 is actually within my reach, and that makes this slowpoke really excited.

Final Comments:

*They did exchange my race shirt after the race was over. We're good again.

*Jeremy had to be taken away by ambulance, but 4 liters of fluid and a few drugs later, he was as good as new. The race director gave him free entry for next year :)

*It was AMAZING to have so many friends out there. Thanks for making my day everybody!

More reflection on the race to come. I need to head to bed for another long day at work tomorrow. Plus, marathon training resumes tomorrow night with a 7-8 mile tempo run!

Race Tomorrow!

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As usual, I'm SO behind on posting. It's been a super busy summer, and with the home improvement projects, work, and family time, it's flying by. I have a ton of updates I want to put up here, but we've got to clean the house for four hungry triathletes to be coming over tonight for a pasta feed. For now, I'll just have to tell you that my running has really been coming along. For the first time in years, I actually feel like I'm seeing improvements.

Race tomorrow - Chisago Half Iron Distance. This will be my third time at this race, and the weather is actually expected to cooperate for a change! The last 2 times I did this race, the heat index was over 100 degrees. Tomorrow's supposed to be around 80. It will be my 7th 70.3 and my 5th 70.3 in a year. I love this distance! It may turn into a super social fest. We know so many people who are racing it. This is gonna be so much fun :)

WIBA and Marathon Training

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Back from WIBA this past weekend, and as usual, it was a total blast. This was our 4th year heading out to Madison for the weekend of fun, friends, and training on the Ironman course, and this time, we brought a couple of Twin Cities friends along. IronGirl Nyhus and our friend Jeremy from Tri-ngmybest are both doing IM Moo this year and both came out for their first WIBAs. Hope you guys had fun!

Steve, IGN, and I all road tripped it out on Friday, checked into the hotel, and then made our way over to the group dinner. We caught up with LOTS of old friends and met some really cool new ones in the process.

Saturday morning came way too soon. Since the weather was threatening to be really hot and stormy late in the day, the open water swim started at 7 AM. The water was really too warm for wetsuits, so I swam in quite possibly the greenest, weediest water I've ever been in (see Steve's blog for pics of the weekend, but especially check out the face burned into the inside of my suit. I can't make that kind of stuff up). I probably only swam for 20 minutes or so, but I looked like a swamp creature by the time I got out. Yuck! Heading into the weekend, I was planning on doing my usual 70 mile WIBA ride. Since we were starting from Fireman's Park in Verona, though, most people had decided to do 2 loops (around 80 miles). I've done several 60 milers this year, but 80 on a hilly course is pushing it, especially since my knees were a bit tender from intervals a couple of days earlier. I decided to do one loop (40 miles) and see how I felt. I ended up doing most of the ride with Cara Sweet and Lisa Parisola, two super fun ladies. I had met them both before but hadn't really gotten to know either one of them. They are both a blast! It was really fun to pick Cara's brain. She's done several different Ironmans, a 50K trail run, and a bunch of marathons (including Boston a couple of months ago!). Lisa is just a hoot. That woman is used to training on FLAT country, but she survived the WI hills on a borrowed bike and in borrowed shoes. She even did it with a smile on her face! After finishing one loop, I tacked on a few more miles for a total ride of 62 miles. Thanks for keeping me company ladies! Thanks too to Stu and Al who rode those last few miles with me. After hopping off the bike, I did a two mile run off. Afterward, I was FAMISHED! Good thing Steve and Stu had started the grills and were cooking up deliciousness. I had the tank refueled in no time. Saturday evening, we went out for gelato. I love gelato, especially in the company of friends.

Sunday was our big run day. I didn't know how my legs would be feeling, so even though my marathon training plan called for a 12 miler, I was prepared to cut it off at 6 or 7 if I needed to. I was also not so secretly hoping to cover all 13 miles of the run course (the marathon does two loops). Cara Sweet and I started out together. She hadn't really done any super long runs since Boston. A baby with a broken leg tends to cut in on the workout time :) We started out slow just to see how we felt, and after two hours and twenty minutes of great conversation and being a little lost, we made it back to our cars. Hope I didn't get you in trouble, Cara!

Steve, IGN, and I rushed through the showers, packed up the Tahoe, and drove to Endurance House for a foot strike analyses and shoe purchases. I have been running in stability shoes off and on for most of my 10 years of marathon training. After watching my video, they told me I should be in a much more neutral shoe. Turns out these flat feet don't really overpronate! Conversely, Steve's high arches do overpronate a bit, so we both walked away with completely different shoes. I stuck with Saucony's, but instead of the Hurricanes, I'm now in the Triumphs. I'm trying to ease my way into them, but so far, so good!

... Which brings me back to the training front. After an exhausting weekend of fun and workouts, we had a sick call on Monday, so I pulled a double. This led to a late bedtime, which led to a very early bedtime the next night, and two days later, I finally got back into training. Arrg. Week 2 of marathon training is not going as smoothly as week one. I did my first tempo run tonight, and boy do I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to get my times back down. I've got time, though, and I know if I keep pushing, it will come. I've been chasing the 4 hour mark ever since I broke it in 2002. There are no excuses this year. I just have to keep working. Happy training everyone, and happy 4th!

Break's Over, Back to Work!

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I took nearly a full week off after my 70.3. Technically, my marathon training was supposed to start that Monday, but I decided it would be best if I took a few days off before diving into training. It always takes me a couple of weeks to fully recover from a 70.3 to the point that I can get through a long run without feeling like my legs are going to fall off.

I'm doing the FIRST training program again. My goal is to get in the 3 runs, 2 bike rides a week, 2 swims a week, some weight training, and LOTS of ab work. I've had a lot of trouble with cramping the last couple of years, and I know it's from neglecting the abs.

So far so good! I got in a long run with Borsch on Monday in the 90+ degree heat. Yesterday I did a mid-distance swim, and today I biked with my brother Matt. He's so much faster than me, and I was sucking wind for much of it, but I know the only way I'm ever going to get faster is if I'm chasing somebody during my training rides! This weekend is WIBA, which always proves to be a great time with friends and some really quality training. It'll be a great way to end week 1!

Liberty Long Course Triathlon Race Report

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My half iron distance tri was a blast. It was my first time on this course, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. All in all, it was a great day, but I did manage to make one veteran mistake and 3 rookie ones.

We set the alarm clock for around 4:15 this morning, but we had to hit the snooze button a couple of times to snuggle. We were out of bed soon enough, though, and while Steve loaded up the bikes and finished packing all of his stuff, I got our nutrition, wetsuits, and some of the other random stuff put into the car.

We got to transition around 6:15. It had opened at 5:30 but wasn't scheduled to close till 7:15, so I had asked that we not get there at the official crack of dawn. Being in transition too long just makes me nervous. We got our transition areas set up in between lots and lots of social time. We had so many friends doing this race. It was a blast, and for a few minutes, I forgot I was about to race for the next 6+ hours.


Steve and me in transition before the race


The Swim:
The long course athletes went out before the oly distance ones, and I was in wave 4, which was followed only by the older men. I was a little nervous for a few reasons. The first was the fact that I really have only swum twice since New Orleans 2 months ago, and I don't know if you can even count the 10 minute OWS in Nokomis on Thurs as an official swim. The second was that the water in MN has been FREEZING cold. We haven't had a lot of warm days in the last couple of weeks, and I was hoping I could keep myself from panicking. The plan was just to take it easy an keep a steady pace in the water. I did a great job sighting and never really got off course. I alternated between feeling like I was the only one out there and having a few run-ins with other swimmers. I got elbowed in the eye once and think I half assaulted another swimmer. The water felt GREAT, and though this definitely wasn't my fastest swim ever, it wasn't my slowest either. I was out of the water in 0:47. I ran up the small hill and officially hit the mat before T1 in 0:48:03.

T1: I peeled off my wetsuit, stuffed my nutrition and a few emergency bike supplies in my top, donned my sunglasses, helmet, and bike shorts, grabbed my bike, and I was out. I'm not sure what the official time read, but my watch says it took 3:27. I got out of T1 and had a really unsettling feeling that I was forgetting something. I went through the mental checklist and came to the realization that I was just paranoid.

The Bike: I was a little nervous for the bike because the race's website describes it as a very hilly, technical course. Like all of the disciplines for this race, I honestly haven't done a lot in the way of training. I did manage to squeeze in a really hilly 60 miler a week and a half ago after which my legs felt totally shredded. To my relief, the hills weren't too bad. Don't get me wrong, there were LOTS of them, and I sure loved my granny gear more times than I could count, but most of the downhills' momentum helped me get up the hills, and with the gorgeous weather, I CRUISED down those hills! The hilly course kept me engaged, and before I knew it, I was starting the second loop. I had gotten passed by everybody and their grandma starting the bike, which is pretty typical for me (especially since the short course athletes were doing the same loop and starting behind us). However, on the last loop, I felt really strong and managed to pass another dozen or so people. My legs felt great! I finished the hilly bike course in 3:22, a 16.6 average - nothing spectacular, but good for me. Rookie mistake #1: about halfway through the bike, I looked down and noticed that my chip was missing. I new it likely hadn't fallen off in the swim because I always pin the straps together (I lost my chip in the swim during my very first race). I was bummed for a second, but the timers had been doing a great job at recording our numbers at all of the important points, so I figured if nothing else, I could rely on that. My hunch was that it came off with my wetsuit in T1. I guess that naggy feeling that I was forgetting something coming out of T1 was for good reason!


Finishing up the hilly 56 mile bike


T2: I made the appropriate exchanges from my pockets, ripped off my bike shorts and shoes, grabbed my hat, and FOUND MY CHIP IN MY WETSUIT (well actually, Steve found it as he was in transition talking to me.


Stuffing all my food in my pockets and strapping my running shoes on!

I was out 2:18 but had obviously been a little distracted because a mile into the run, I realized I had forgotten my race number! We'll call this rookie mistake #2. I have such a routine in transition. Throw in another factor, and it all goes down the drain!

The Run: Just like all of the other legs of this race, I was a little unsure about the run. I had done an 11 miler 6 days earlier that was neither speedy nor painless. All I could think about for the first 1.5 miles was how bad I had to pee. We were running along lots of family occupied campgrounds, and the one bathroom I did see along the way was closed for cleaning. The teenagers doing the cleaning didn't seem very sympathetic toward this eyeball-floating triathlete, so I pressed on hoping to find some tall grass down the road. I found some tall grass in thick tree cover soon after and performed a modified move the leg of my tri shorts maneuver that prevented all of the out and back runners from seeing my very pale behind. It wasn't graceful, but I felt SO much better. I was cheering for all of the runners on their return trip, and the guy right behind me commented on my spirit. I told him it always makes me feel better. Staring at the ground for 13 miles just gets me feeling sorry for myself! He and I started talking, and as it turns out, he is training for his first Ironman in WI this year. Well, get me talking about IM and I don't shut up! We ended up running the next 12 miles together. Steve laughed when he saw us at the halfway point because he says I always manage to make a friend on the run.


Joe and me nearing the halfway turn around



Joe and me heading back - over halfway done!


We weren't fast, and between his hammy issues and my GI issues, we did have a few walk breaks, but the run was infinitely easier because I had a new friend to talk to. Rookie mistake #3 was not eating enough the day before. The food I did eat wasn't all that nutritious, and I didn't eat a very ample supper. Even though I was eating far more calories than I normally eat during a half, by mile 6 of the run, I knew I was in trouble. When I don't eat enough, I start to feel really nauseous, and that's when I know I really need to choke down more food. I ended up eating 3 gels, a pack of Sharkies, a cup of goldfish crackers, and a cup of Coke on the run. That's in addition to my calories on the bike. By the time I hit the finish line, my gut had totally revolted, and it took all my remaining energy not to barf. Given the heat and GI issues, I guess our run time wasn't too bad - 2:33:04


I was REALLY ready to be done, so I booked it in to the finish. Joe had to stay back to prevent his hammy from going crazy.

My total finish time for the day was 6:50:37 - my second slowest half time. I had a blast, though, and I will definitely do this race again. It's well-run, challenging, and beautiful. It's an early season race, but the competition is far from early season! Congrats to all of my old and new friends who had successful days out there, especially Jen, who medaled in her age group for her first Oly and Julia who took first in her AG for her first 70.3!

My veteran mistake: I'm losing fear of the distance. After 2 Ironmans, 10 marathons, and this being my 6th 70.3, I know I can bust out the distance regardless of the quality or quantity of training. I came to the obvious realization this week that the past couple of years have been super crazy, and I skimped on training where I needed to in order to keep up with the rest of my life. This summer, except for the porch remodel, work, and the usual commitments, I really should be able to make time for some quality training. I think deep down, I'm a little afraid that putting in the time won't really lead to a lot of gains in speed, and it's just so much easier to accept being slow when I know that I'm not fully trained to race. Does this even make sense?

Race Week!

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I have my second 70.3 of the year this Saturday. It's Liberty long course. I've never done this one before, but I wanted to a couple of years ago. I can't believe it's not even the middle of June yet with this being my 7th race of the year. After this one, I'll be doing WIBA at the end of June, Chisago Lake half at the end of July, and Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th. I can't believe this'll be my 11th marathon and 10th TCM in a row! I updated my 2009 schedule on the side bar the other day. I may throw in another race or two depending on what comes up, but that's it for now. I signed up for most of my spring races all in one day, and my credit card company called to verify the tremendous amount of charges :) Yikes this stuff gets expensive!

I don't have any lofty goals for this race. Heck, I just got back in the pool for the first time since New Orleans 70.3 yesterday. Yeah, I'm not proud of that, but you take what life gives you, you know? I busted out 1.5 miles with no problem. This is gonna be slow, but it should be fun!

Three For One! A Race Report Trifecta

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Yeesh! Well, I'm not even going to try to explain where I've been for the last six weeks - everywhere and nowhere at the same time I guess... Steve and I are in the middle of doing another remodel on our house, our porch this time. It'll look awesome when it's done, but like all of our projects, it's bigger than what we anticipated when we started. My baby sister graduated from high school this past weekend, and I'm still trying to recover from the debauchery. It's hard to believe that most of the kids I babysat for once upon a time are now college kids. Somehow that just doesn't seem right. Steve and I and our family have also been racing, more so than we've ever done this time of year. The year started out with the Winter Carnival Half Marathon (which was shortened to 1/4 marathon because of the cold). Then we headed to New Orleans for the 70.3, followed by the MDRA Mud Run 4 miler, the Winter BeGone Duathlon, Cannon Falls Duathlon, and the Apple Duathlon, which was just two weeks ago. Oh yeah, and I have another 70.3 in two weeks. Gulp! I'm WAY behind here in case you hadn't noticed, so I'll make the race reports quick and dirty, much like I raced them.

Winter BeGone (4/26/09):

We did this one last year, when it was cold but sunny and otherwise beautiful. This year, it rained. It rained a lot. There was wind, lots and lots of wind, and the cold topped it all off. Steve and I had signed up for the long course, but the lightning right before the race that promised to return led the race directors to force us all to do the sprint. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be out of the rain as quickly as possible, even if it did mean doing my first sprint multisport event!

The first run: I went out hoping that I could hold nines. My brother Matt and I ran most of the run together, and I was really surprised that the 17:51 I posted was for 2.25 miles, not the 2 miles I thought it was. Off to a good start!

T1: Transition was small, but I struggled to get in all of my clothes: 2:38

The bike: This ranks in the top 5 most miserable bike rides of my life. The cold and rain were one thing, but the fact that we either had a headwind or a cross wind for all but about 3 miles of the bike made it no fun. 52:51 for a 13 mile bike. I had really hoped to improve on my average from last year, but I guess this was not the day!

T2: 1:38

The second run: My mentality had totally changed. I went from knowing that I had to do a 10K after the bike to knowing that I only had 2 miles to gut it out. I just tried to run as fast as I could. The out and back course made it super fun. I got to see Steve, my brother Matt, Borsch, and my sister Steph. I got a little choked up when I saw Steph. It was her first multisport race ever, and she was doing it in some of the worst race conditions possible. I surprised myself on the second run when I came in at 15:46. I'm not a sprinter, so this isn't bad for me!

Total: 1:30:41 Total place: 19/42 women

Cannon Falls Duathlon (5/2):

Another family event! This time Steve and I brought Steph, Matt, Borsch, and my aunt Jen. We had a perfect day, and this time around it was aunt Jen's first race. I should probably give you a quick background on why it was so special to have Jen racing with us. Jen was hit by a car when she was 2. She was read her last rights because the doctors didn't think she'd make it. After a 6 week hospital stay and countless surgeries, she grew up perfectly healthy. She works for the international division of a big name corporate retailer, traveling all over the place. You wouldn't even know anything had happened, save for a few scars and the fact that her left eye is permanently closed. Then, 3.5 years ago, doctors discovered a brain tumor sitting on her optic nerve that threatened her vision completely. It turned out to be benign, but in removing it, doctors had to destroy her pituitary gland. For those of you without a medical or science degree, this tiny gland controls nearly every hormone in your body - thyroid hormone, growth hormone, reproductive hormones, stress hormone, and a few other things. It has taken a couple of years to get all of those levels back to "normal," but she still has to work 10 times harder than anyone to keep her body and her weight from spiraling out of control. She works her butt off! When we signed up for our races this spring, we invited Jen to come along. She did several test runs at the distance before the big day and signed up!

The 1st Run: I figured that Matt and I had stuck together for the run the week before, so we ran together again. The run was BEAUTIFUL. We ran by waterfalls, near parks, and around town. We finished the 2 mile run in 15:40.

T1: 1:22 I learned from my mistakes the week before :)

The bike and T2 (I forgot to hit my watch): It was an out and back race. This one guy and I kept passing each other. He was in a tractor. I love biking through farm country! It makes me feel right at home. My split wasn't as fast as I had hoped, but it was great to be out there with my family - 51:02 for the 14 mile bike

The 2nd Run: I hit my splits in 8:23, 8:23, and 8:11 for a total of 24:57 for the 3 mile run. Again, this was just a beautiful course.

The finish: 1:33:10 - total place 60/131. When I was heading into the finish, I saw Steve and Jen heading out from T2. When I finished, I ran back onto the course to help get Jen to the finish line. She finished, and she wasn't last. She made both of her goals, and we are all super proud of her. I managed to take some hardware home from this race. I got third in 20-29 year old women. Bonus!

Apple Duathlon (5/23/09)

Last time I did this race, I was training for my first Ironman! Steve and I saw our friend Ann in transition, and since we were were in the same wave, we decided to run the first 5K together. She was hoping for 8s. I was hoping to hit under 25. I was back in to T1 in 24:37, for an average of 7:56/mile. Not bad considering Ann had dropped me at mile 2 :)

T1: 1:09, not too much excitement. I decided on the fly not to wear bike shorts and rough it in my tri shorts.

The Bike: I had no idea how I would feel on a 33K bike ride in just my tri shorts. I know people do Ironman distance bike rides in just tri shorts, but I've never been that adventurous. I've always thrown bike shorts on over the tri shorts in T1 and taken them off it T2. I was uncomfortable for the first 4 miles or so, but it went away quickly. I did drop my chain once. I'm not even sure how it happened, and since I wasn't going up a steep hill, I was worried that I broke it at first! I also made a wrong turn once, but the great volunteers steered me back in the right direction. I probably lost a minute or 2, but going out against the wind meant that we had a sweet tailwind. I came into T2 after 1:12:47 for an meager average of 16.9.

T2: 0:54

The Second Run: 27:19 for an average of 8:48. It wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty, but I made it in without barfing.

Total time: 2:06:47, several seconds faster than the last time I raced this course, even with a dropped chain, a wrong turn on the bike, and feeling like I was going to die on the first run. However, the competition was TOUGH, and my time was good enough for 10/11 in my age group. It's now a world du championship qualifying race, and I think it's just going to get tougher in the next few years. It's always a great race, though, and this year was no exception.

What's next? Well, like I mentioned, I have a 70.3 in less than 2 weeks. It's been a rough couple of weeks. I know I can do the distance, but my training has been lacking. Between house projects and a REALLY scary month at work (layoffs and restructuring), I've had a tough time getting in quality workouts. I've got a long run scheduled for tomorrow night. My last long run was horrible. I had a heavy heart, and it made running light a little tough. Two weeks after my 70.3 is WIBA, and as always, I'm pretty excited to fill the weekend with good friends and great workouts. It seems funny that I'm halfway through my year's races, but I promise to put the rest of the schedule up soon!