Thursday, October 25, 2012

Something's been missing

It's no secret that I'm getting ready to run my first marathon this weekend (see previous post).  Every once in a while, I have mentioned training, but you may have noticed I have not giving "updates" like I did when getting ready for the Flying Pirate half marathon back in April.  It's not that I haven't wanted to share, but there are only so many times you might want to read, "I ran today," because my friends, when you are training for a marathon, your life basically consists of a combination of three things,

  • eat
  • run/cross train
  • sleep

and then, the rest of life's little pleasures like working and such, you fit in around those 3 basic elements.

Now I will recap 16 weeks of marathon training in one swoop .....

And there you have it.
It's been the longest, yet fastest, 16 weeks I've ever experienced.
Let the carb load commence.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Words for Wednesday

Holy crap.  I'm running a marathon this weekend.

                                                                                                                     -words from yours truly
                                                                                                                                (and you can quote me)

Friday, October 19, 2012

You know it's almost "Go Time" when....

  • you can access the 10-day weather forecast for race day
  • your entire GU supply has disappeared
  • you are counting the hours until your pre-race massage because all of your muscles are on freaking fire
  • it's time to make the carb-load grocery list
  • you have used all your body glide
  • the reminder to pay your life insurance arrives in your mailbox
  • you start making your road trip play list (or rather, have Jyl make it because you are iTunes challenged)
  • your long runs are now 3 or 4 miles
  • you want to eat everything within your reach or sight.....or dream about
  • you have 20 different lists going because you write stuff down as you think of things to do or items to pack, only to forget which list you put it on or where the location of said list is
  • I'd write more but I can't find my list.....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ramblin' Rose - Where clunky bikes and doggie paddles make the best stories....

So, September was a big month for Team Peeta.  Graham finished the half iron distance.  Jyl swam with the fishes (and a dead whale?) in Boston Harbor.  And me?  Well, I tri'd the swim bike run thing at the Ramblin' Rose women's beginner triathlon.  You know, to see what all this triathlon hub bub was all about.  I decided back in July that I would do this.  You know, when I had a peg leg.  Because of course that's when we come up with all our goals and grand plans...when we're injured and can't do anything else but think.  So, it was then that it was decided that this 250 meter swim, 9 (ish) mile bike and a 2 mile run would be in my future.  And futures become the present in the blink of an eye!

Actually, this was why I started this love/hate relationship with swimming.  It took me just about a year, but I graduated from back floats and doggie paddles to actually looking like I know what i'm doing....kinda.

Biking?  Well, you never forget, right?  So, I thought I'd just take my mountain bike that I hadn't ridden in a year (and never on the road).  Should be okay, right?  I mean it's got two wheels, handle bars and a seat.  A bike is a bike, right?

Running?  I can do anything for 2 miles.  That's what I kept telling myself anyway.

So, on a dark Sunday morning in September, I woke up well before dawn, put on a borrowed tri suit (thanks Lori!), ate my English muffin and peanut butter with honey, loaded up the beast bike and my bag on my jeep and off I went.  Two pretty awesome ladies, good friends and fine athletes came to be my "crew" and cheer me on.  Rebecca beat me there, arriving before 6 a.m. to help unload and carry gear to the transition, Maggie came with coffee and bagels with cream cheese.  I had to wait for my bagel post-race.

It was a chilly morning.  Poor Rebecca, I kept throwing stuff at her to hold and to carry; clothes, phone, water, cap and goggles!  I was so fidgety, we both thought it best I get in the pool to do a length or two while it was open for warm-ups, just to calm the nerves a bit.  Finally the hour or so of waiting was over.  It was time for me to get to the race briefing and then line up for the swim.  It was Go-Time!

Damn I make a swim cap look good.
I felt confident.  I had worked so hard at this swim thing.  Coach Sarah thought I could put in a really good time.  I doubted her when we first talked about it, but I slowly began to believe her.  I still had nerves though.  I've never swam with people chasing me before.  After a bit of a wait, it was my turn to hop in and push off.  And me thinks I pushed off a little too fast.  By the third length I was starting to doubt I could keep the pace I was on.  I told myself that I could slow down a bit, it was okay!  So I did.  Too much.  At the wall at a lane change, I glimpsed like four caps in my lane.  All bearing down on little 'ol me.  Time to pick it back up.  So I did, but unable to get my breathing rhythm back I had a little bit of a freak out.  I ended up at the wall for a good 45 seconds to a minute trying to get my bearings.  All the while, cap after cap after cap went by.  Finally I was ready to get this thing over with, and then I realized I only had one more length to go.  SERIOUSLY??  YOU COULDN'T HOLD IT TOGETHER FOR ONE MORE STINKING LENGTH???  Boy was I angry.  I got out of that pool and made my way to transition, ripping my cap and goggles off and muttering choice words the entire way.  I hoped I used my inside voice, but seeing the looks on some faces, I'm sure I cussed in front of children.

I have no words
for this picture.
I think I yelled at myself the entire way to my transition area.   Things like "this is so NOT fun," "this absolutely sucks," "what on earth are you doing," "just quit and put yourself out of this misery!" I think that was the last thing I said before I got on my bike.

Oh, the bike.  I pedaled my little heart out.  I don't think I ever STOPPED pedaling.  And still I was getting passed.  Passed like I was standing still...or going backwards!  All that kept going through my head was "do I really suck that bad?"  I got decimated!  I think I may have passed one person, only to mess up a gear on a coming hill and she got me right back.  But there was one fleeting moment when I wasn't cussing or hating on the world in my complete loneliness and discouragement when it was actually pleasant.  Riding, the wind in your face, the landscape.  And then moment was broken as the words "ON YOUR LEFT" cut through the air like a knife in my back.  "yea yea...on my left.  Don't worry sweetie, I'll get you on the run."

Props to Maggie for her
mad photo skills!
I think these shades make
me look fast.
I don't know how many of you have tried running after spending 9 (ish...i think the course was short) on a bike pedaling your little heart out.  If you haven't had the pleasure, let me tell you that you actually have to tell your legs to walk.  After a wobbly 1/2 mile or so, I found my sea legs.  2 miles at 16 minutes 25 seconds, and a bunch of passes later, I was DONE.  It was over!  I'd never been so happy and angry at the same time.

Rebecca and Maggie were waiting for me at the finish...

Crew:  "How was it?"
Me:  "It sucked."
Crew:  "Ready to do it again?"
Me:  "Let me see how different a road bike is, and maybe then we'll talk."

And then I had the best damn bagel and cream cheese EVER.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Words for Wednesday

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

                                               - Dale Carnegie, author and lecturer 

                                                             (as found on Runner's World)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jyl Conquers Boston Harbor

The weekend of September 22 & 23 was a busy weekend for this trio; each embarking our on own quest.  Last week, we read about Graham's Iron Adventure.  Well, on September 22, Jyl went to Boston to slay her own dragon, Boston Sharkfest; a 1500 meter open water swim across Boston Harbor.

Take it away, Jyl!

So this past weekend I had the crazy idea to swim 1500 meters across Boston Harbor. I thought in my brain this Shark Fest Swim, the first year in Boston, would be a good idea and practice for my ultimate work out goal of swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco in 2013.

I arrived Friday morning to a cold and dreary Boston. After checking the forecast, I saw the water temp was about 62 degrees, not the 68-70 degrees they mentioned on the website at the time of sign up. I had a sleeveless wetsuit, an awful thing (no one likes trying on or wearing one of these things) and really wished I went for and practiced with the full sleeve one… Never did it cross my mind that the water would be this cold! Mistake number #1 of the weekend!

Saturday morning came and was dreary and drizzly and cold again. Wishing I had gloves and a winter hat as I walked from the hotel to the start was one thing! Man, if the air was this cold, imagine the water!
Mom and I hung out at the finish line, where water taxis were taking us over to the start. I noticed these people hanging around looked like serious swimmers/athletes. Mom mentioned that no silly normal or person thinking they were in shape would jump into the harbor! She was right!

I finally boarded a small water taxi to the start line with about 20 other swimmers. Most were quiet and checking out the scene, and there were 2 college kids on my boat going in Speedos for the swim. Man, I thought they were crazy, but they were the only ones doing it I would soon realize. Sure they were about the 10% of the crowd, but there were people, including a very cute Olympian open water swimmer, Alex Meyer (who won the race, finishing in half the time I did it, and no wet suit).
Anyway, I had about an hour and a half to hang out and stare at the dark, cold water from the start line. I chatted with people from all over the country, some experienced and a lot this being their first open water swim race, like me. Most of the Bostonians weren’t scared of the water temp, that’s when I realized I was a Southern girl now… My 80 degree HFFA pool temp will never seem cold again!

We got our rules and regs, and 300 people were set to jump off the pier in 4 waves. I decided to go in mid pack, and ended up in wave 3.  I watched the other waves go off and began to realize I was crazy. Why was I doing this? I saw some people struggle at the start for sure, but did not see anyone go to the wonderful kayakers or paddle boarders…

Jyl, post swim with her nephew, Daniel.
Damn Jyl, that looks cold...
I walked toward the start of my wave, and was nervous. Some people were sticking their feet in the water and testing it and I pondered it, and thank God, I didn’t do it. The whistle went off and I was on the far side of the pack and one of the last to go. I didn’t want to get in the crowd and when I jumped in feet first, it was a feeling of shear panic. I have NEVER felt this before. Some choice words went through my brain and then my brain said MOVE. My face, neck, arms turned to quick ice cubes and the first couple of strokes I did not put my face in the water. I was frozen. I tried not to panic and breathe and finally after about a minute I realized I needed to keep going and move forward. I honestly thought if there were kayakers that first minute, I would have stopped. It was awfully cold! I did an obstacle at the tough mudder where you dunk in a dumpster of ice and quickly climb out. This was worse and I had to go 1500 meters to the other side!
I got in my groove and stayed on the outside of the pack and took one stroke at a time. I can say for about 10 minutes I didn’t freeze, but then about half way through the race, I got cold again. Thank God for the wet suit! It was a saving grace. I also wore two swim caps, and I guess any extra layer helped some!

I know I touched things in that harbor, and not sure what they were? Fish, the bottom, dead bodies, garbage. Or other racers I didn’t see, but I did have a couple freak outs of 'what is touching my fingers?'
Spotting was hard, because of fog and the darkness, but aiming for the city was the only way I went. Also following the other yellow caps the whole way!

Finally I saw the white tent near the marina (and lots of huge Boston harbor boats) and I tried to swim faster, not sure if I did or not, but I wanted out. The taste of salt water was another thing I couldn’t practice for, and wasn’t prepared for. I finally saw the back up of finishers near the white tent with the timing pad, and also at that time, I could hear people cheering from the side of the harbor. I KNEW warmth was in reach.  I touched the timing board and then had to swim about 50 meters to the ladders to get out of the harbor. At that time I heard my mom and family calling my name, and I smiled. Thank God I was done!

I got out as quick as I could and got that wetsuit off (with some great burns around my neck from where it rubbed) and got in a blanket and had a beer. I finished and NEVER have to do that again!  My brother checked my time and it was just over 30 minutes. Again the Olympian did it in 16 minutes, and my goal was just not to come in last or have a boat pick me up, which neither happened.

Would I do that again? NO- I swam Boston and I’m happy I did it. Am I going to do Alcatraz? I haven’t decided. I can say the 55 degree water can’t be any worse than the water of Boston, but the current and shark factor and jumping off a boat, still make me not click the 'Register NOW' button… But I do need a new challenge for 2013, and I can’t think of anything else that would be more challenging and more fun!

Hey Jyl.....remind me to update the Reasons Why Swimming Sucks!  

I am so, SO proud of you!

I get asked a lot why I keep going, keep swimming, keep running.....  How can I not when I have completely awesome friends, like Jyl and Graham, that continue to surround me with inspiration and motivation?  I am one lucky girl.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Things I Might Do Post Marathon

Today was a big day.  Today my training plan called for 20 miles.  Of running.  I don't think you realize just how far that is unless you are on your feet going 6mph eating this nasty GU stuff every 45 minutes.  Things hurt, things went numb....

It was awesome.

Dude.  I ran 20 miles today.


We all run for many reasons.  Some of us, 1% of us, decide to take the plunge and go for 26.2.  We begin a 16 week period of ups and downs and blisters and pain; and it's also a 16 week period of sacrifice of sorts.  One question that every runner training for a marathon can relate too is, "what are YOU going to do post marathon?"

And so, when you're running for 20 miles, you have lots of time.  Lots of time to talk, to cuss, to blow snot rockets......and to think.  And today I thought of a list of things I might do post marathon:
  • throw the biggest party EVER.  Drinks all around!
  • eat greasy-bad-for-me pizza
  • sleep in until 6 a.m.
  • drink a diet Coke
  • quit running
  • relax
  • eat pancakes
  • stay up past 9 p.m.
  • celebrate Oktoberfest in November
  • soak in a hot bath for a week
  • clean my house
  • burn my sneakers
  • read more than 2 pages of a book without falling asleep
  • buy the entire series of Dawson's Creek and Felicity and enjoy a different type of marathon where the fuel is miniature Reese's Cups, Hershey Nuggets with Toffee and Almonds and a pint of Ben & Jerry's

and just to keep things balanced....

Things I WON'T Do Post Marathon
  • eat Gu gels for breakfast
  • go on 15-20 mile runs for the hell of it

Friday, October 5, 2012

Food for Thought: Summer Vegetables with Sausage and Potatoes

If you do not already subscribe to, you need to. But then again if you do, my posts will become redundant and you will no longer read my Food for Thought editions.....(insert sad face here)

Anyway.  I made this amazing one-dish wonder with a recipe found on SkinnyTaste.  Quick, easy preparation, healthy, delicious and only a few ingredients.  Just the way I like 'em!  And yes, I know it's not really summer anymore, but you can still get zucchini at the grocer, or if you live in the south and are like my in-laws and tend to plant your garden a little late, you're still getting the "fruits" of your labors!

My apologies.  I once again forgot to take pictures of my amazing cooking skills.  I know you're sad.

Summer Vegetables with Sausage and Potatoes

1lb baby red potatoes, cut in half or quartered
2tsp oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder  
1tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
14oz Italian chicken sausage, sliced 1inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2Tbsp fresh rosemary (or other fresh herb like thyme)
2 cups zucchini, 1/2 inch thick and quartered

Place oil and potatoes in a large, deep non-stick skillet on high heat (Hope's Note:  I will be buying one this weekend.  I cooked this with a stick skillet and though it was still YUMMY, this part was a pain in my arse.).  Season with garlic powders, salt & pepper.  When the skillet gets hot and starts to sizzle, reduce heat to low and cook with a tight fitting lid on for abut 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the potatoes from burning.
Remove from heat and let them sit 5 minutes without removing lid.  Then set potatoes aside on a separate dish.

In same skillet, add sausage and saute on medium to low and cook until browned but not quite cooked through.  Approximately 10 minutes.

Season chopped veggies with salt & pepper.  Add onions, peppers, garlic and rosemary (or other herb) to skillet and mix.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers become slightly browned.

Mix in zucchini and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Return potatoes back to the skillet and mix well.  Add more salt & pepper if needed; cover and cook 5 more minutes.

Yields:  4 servings, each approx 1 3/4c

Nutritional Info:
326 calories, 11g fat, 23g protein, 33.5g carbs, 5.3g fiber, 5g sugar, 897mg sodium

Hope's Note:  I sliced the other halves of the orange and yellow peppers into strips to pack as a snack for one of my lunches this week!!

Hope's Note:  My mom gave me a Vidalia Chop Wizard.  Where I once laughed at her for using one, now I don't know if I could live without mine!  I did my onion, chop chop, pepper 1, pepper 2, pepper 3 chop chop...all in one swoop.  And there is was, in its own little prep container ready to go in the pan, already all together.  I am a BIG fan of easy and less mess, so I do love this little contraption!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Graham Finish(es) Strong

Instead of "Words for Wednesday," I thought I would bring you another source of inspiration.  My friend Graham, you remember Graham, entered the world of triathlon this summer.  His first event was a sprint distance at Tri Latta Triathlon on June 9.  This included a 750 meter open water swim, a 17 mile bike ride and 5K run.  This is important to know in order to help put what comes next into perspective.  About 3 months later, Graham, this crazy beast, entered and raced in the Finish Strong Half Iron Triathlon at Jordan Lake, North Carolina,on September 23, 2012.  The half iron distance is as follows:  1.2 mile open water swim.  56 mile bike ride.  13.1 mile run.

I asked Graham if he would share his adventure with seriously hope.  And, well, how could he say no?  Without further ado, I bring you Finish Strong Half Iron as raced and written by my good friend and training cohort!
as if setting up transition wasn't hard enough,
let's set it up in the dark!
After waking up early on race morning my mind started to go through its pre-race check list.  Everything was loaded in the car and I was ready to get to the race transition area and set up.  After getting to the race site I parked the car and started to unload my bike, it was still dark out so it made it challenging when attempting to check tire pressure.  I went over and picked up my packet since they didn’t have them available on Saturday at the pre-race meeting.  I took my bike, crate, towels, shoes, gloves, helmet, bike shirt and nutrition into the transition and racked my bike and laid out my stuff.  About 30 minutes before the race they announced that the water temp was 75 and wetsuits would be allowed – good thing I had my rental.  I put the suit on with about 10 minutes prior to the start and was ready to go.  Since it was a small race they put the men in group 1 and women in group 2.

The Swim 

No, Graham,
you can't come back
to shore....
I had my plan to swim straight and steady pace, not pushing too hard and try to focus on conservation of energy and hopefully avoid cramping in my calves which has happened a few times.  I would guess the first turn buoy was about 750m away and with a blink of an eye I seemed like I was making the turn, the little voice in my head said I think I am flying, that could not have been 15 to 20 minutes already.  After the turn I found my aim for the next turn and focused on my form and to stay relaxed.  After the second turn I realized that I am halfway done and heading back to shore, my voice went off again, telling me to relax and watch my form, at that point I realized that I had taken the second turn really wide and was about 75m wide of the site buoy – oops.  I again had to focus on staying calm.  Then I hit some waves from the side and surprised me some but was able to stay relaxed.  Other than swimming off course a little, I felt good.  Finally the last turn buoy, almost back to shore, focus on swimming straight, there just ahead is the boat launch and dock.  I kept my head down and really focused, then I decided I better check my direction again and just at the right time too – I was about 2 feet from swimming head first into the side of the dock, minor turn and another 20 feet until I could stand and run (ok, really walk) up the ramp.  After the ramp I headed towards transition and I saw Stephanie who came to help cheer me on and support.  I asked for the time and she said – under 29 minutes, I ran into transition and started to get changed for the bike.  After getting changed I asked again and she repeated “under 29” and I was shocked, the plan was to swim well and be in around 40 minutes.

The Bike

What I like to call
"Graham's bad ass bike pic"
The bike was the tail of two courses, 56 miles and basically the first 40 are about average minor hills turns and then the final 16 are brutal.  I don’t know the breakdown of my ride but the first 20 miles were good.  I hit the second water stop, which was supposed to be around 36 or 38 mile marker, and picked up extra water.  I continued to ride for what seemed to be another 30 to 45 minutes and I was expecting the 50 mile marker and saw the 40, ugh that took some steam out of me.  Oh and now this is where the bike starts to get challenging.  There were 3 long climbs and the first was near a cemetery and I thought to myself, when I fall off my bike and die from this hill they won’t have to move me very far to put me in the ground.  I pushed on only to find another equally challenging hill after having a minute or so to regain some focus and find some energy.  I knew the last hill was long – about a 3 mile climb and after getting through that I knew that I had conquered the bike and was almost ready to run.

The Run

Ok, normally I am a quiet person, I don’t talk to other runners, I just put one foot after the other and work on getting to the finish.  The run was anything but normal, I had to tell my body what to do and it talked back to me on many occasions.  I filled my fuel belt with water and I had 6 gels for the 13.1 run, ready, set, hyperventilate…ok, I have only gone 50 meters, that is not the right way to start a run.  Focus on calming down, it’s only a half marathon right?  After the breathing returned to normal, time to run to the first water stop, break down the run into lots of small goals.  I made it to the first water stop and refilled the two water bottles, I had been drinking some and pouring most on my head to keep my temperature down and avoid over heating which I have done in the past.  Next repeat previous goal, run to the next water stop and refuel, better take a gel while getting water too.  Ok, feeling good I hit the second water stop and feeling good, refueled and went on to the next stop.  At about the 2 mile mark I started to have pain in my left arch – I know that pain my brain responded – that is a nasty blister on my arch.  I haven’t ever had one there and it turned my run into a very painful walk run the remainder of the day.  I knew that I wouldn't let the blister stop me, I pushed on and hit the 3 mile mark when my right leg cramped from the top of my knee to groin, wow that hurt and I had taken a gel about 5 minutes prior, I decided that another gel was needed and started to walk again.  I pushed on, never stopping due to fear that my body would fall apart.  I hit the turn around and picked up my first wrist band and took another gel.  At this point I pushed myself to run a little and overall I found the run course a challenge.  Nothing too hard but it wasn’t a flat easy course that’s for sure.  Then I saw Stephanie, she was my support and she walked and talked and ran when I could.  I hit the 5th mile marker and I thought yay I am half way done!! Oh wait, no I am not – crap, this isn’t going to my plan.    After calming down and pushing through miles 5 to 8 I realized I hadn’t taken a gel in a while and went to the belt to realize I only had two left.  I came up with a plan to have them at the 9th and 11th mile markers and hope that my body didn’t get too mad.  So, I continue to run some and walk some, most of the walks were not by design or distance but due to my body cramping or reacting to still being on the course.  I felt muscles tweak, cramp, provide negative feedback to my brain from my hip, quad, calves and achillies both on the left and right side – basically my entire lower body.  I managed to keep upright and finally had about 300 meters to go when my left leg cramped really bad and caused me to hyperventilate again.  I almost fell.  I pushed through the cramp and focused on the breathing, one last turn and into the shoot.  Finally I crossed the line and then my lower body complained one last time and this time I couldn't remain on my feet and I fell, but at least I was already over the line.

I did it, I was now a HALF IRONMAN!

WOW!  Way to do battle, Graham!  Congratulations you Crazy Beast!  What you have accomplished is truly inspirational...and maybe a little crazy ;)

You can lay down now....

your work here is done!