Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Preparations

Preparing for the very early first half ironman of the year is a bit different from my race preparations of just 2 weeks ago. That race required borrowing a bike, backpack, water bladder, compass, duct tape, headlamp, paddles, et cetera, 3 nights before the race. For the race itself, I had these two fabulous teammates to rely upon to get me from point A to point B (then C, D, and E, followed by A again, then F, G... you get the point).

Olaf and Charlie are hands down the best adventure racing team possible. I think I'm going to ask them along for the New Orleans race. If I can draft off Charlie in the bike and Olaf can encourage me along in the run like at Natchez Trace, I'm winning this thing. My job requirements during the entire 12 hours of racing only consisted of carrying the team ovaries and trying to keep up. Oh, and not complaining for at least the first 6 hours, which I think I did pretty well, right Charlie? The vocalization of my butt bruising was mere fact, not a complaint. I think I kept up pretty well, except that first leg of the bike when the brakes were so tight on my front wheel that I couldn't spin it but 2 inches before it stopped. I tried not to get too stinky by tiptoeing through the mudholes, but that all went out the proverbial window as we trekked through the knee-deep creek. The water was strangely oily-filmed, which I attributed to the underground crude oil pipeline that was coincidentally within a mile of us at all times. I think it helped seal off the thorn wounds on my thighs and shins. No infections arose from all of that good clean dirt being ground into my skin. It was much like a healing mudbath. Or really not so much.

But back to the upcoming race. The only preparations I've made so far, with 5 days to go, are collecting my GUs and various other nutritional aids, and.. um.. well that's it. But it seems so simple to pack for a half ironman after that adventure race and all its required gear. Nobody is going to stop me along this race course and ask to see my knife and matches. But it IS New Orleans, so they might ask me to see something else. At least maybe I'll get some beads out of it.

On the agenda for this week is to find my wetsuit, get down my race wheels, change some cassettes, and pack it all up. Party time!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

It's Dad's turn! He's just 6 weeks younger than Mom, and in my opinion has the best birthday. What could be better than having your birthday on the first day of spring?

So one of the many ways Dad is a great dad is his patience with being around girls all the time. He not only had 3 daughters, but when we started acquiring animals, we got all girls-- cat, dog, horses. When we finally found a boy kitten, those two buddied up really fast.

He's surrounded.

The first grandchild to come along was, of course, a girl. But shortly thereafter, Jenny managed to have a boy, who loves his Granddaddy, and wants to do everything he does.

From the time she could talk, one of Emily's favorite things to do was go on an "A-wide" behind Granddaddy's tractor. Here's a picture that Emily took from the hay:

Dad is a man of many talents. Not only is he the best plastic surgeon ever (have you noticed the scar on my head from the time I hit a tree? I didn't think so..), he's also the best steak griller, bush hogger, chili cooker, anything fixer, and ice cream maker ever.
Dad always has a good joke to tell, and from years of working summers at his office, I know that he's known as the practical jokester. He's also a hard worker; he has won numerous awards in plastic surgery and been president of his professional society. He has used his talents doing mission work in countries such as Palau and the Philippines, repairing cleft palates and other surgeries that would otherwise go undone.

I get a lot of traits from Dad. My non-brown eyes (his are green, mine are blue), my fast walking, my fair skin, and the shape of my fingernails (I know it's a weird thing to notice, but they're identical!) are all from Dad. I think I also get my competitiveness and intolerance of really stupid people from him, haha!

Growing up, Dad was my alarm clock, breakfast fixer, and ride to school when I missed the bus. He made my lunches for me every day, and I always loved the smiley faces or notes he would put inside. Just recently I found a smiley face I'd cut from a note years ago and stashed away. Those really made my day!

Dad always makes sure his daughters are taken care of, and if advice is ever needed, he's always there to give solid, practical guidance. He's shaped my life in so many ways, and I'm so lucky to be his daughter! Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


When they gave me "elite" status for getting second last year in the Little Rock half marathon, I should've declined. Apparently nobody knew about this race last year, and they were particularly unaware of the large prize purse. "Large," to me is, well, any prize purse. Since I couldn't turn down a free entry to a race I was already going to do, I accepted and entered again. The big E after my number gave me access to the Perks Tent, where the elite racers and those who like to pay for long bathroom lines and "free" cokes went. I forgot to put one of the wristbands on in the morning, so upon entrance I asked if my number, 2013E, would get me in. The woman looked at me with a bewildered expression and said, "YOU'RE elite?" Was it the confused look on my face? The absence of a coach and escort? I KNOW I've gained weight over the winter... the XL saddlebags? Anyway, thanks. I was already feeling like I didn't belong.

I was supposed to start off slowly, at a 7:10 pace for the first 3 miles. It seemed like forever before the first mile mark, and before looking at my watch I thought, hmmmm, I've probably gone out too fast given my labored breathing and RPE. Nope! I was almost right on: 7:14. The same thing happened for miles 2 and 3. Miles 3-12 were mostly a long, drawn-out blur of pain. I would say it was all downhill from there, but there were in fact some nice uphills and false flats. There were a few bright spots along the way. I had a nice chat with a champion masters runner who'd done an ultra 2 weeks ago. A couple of other men ran with me for a while and worked on a business deal between miles 8 and 9. I should've just given up around 10 when the guy with plaid boxers and a basketball jersey passed me going up the hill. I would've if I hadn't passed him back on the next flat. Coming up on 12 miles, I could make out the figure of a female in front of me. I was actually gaining on her. With 3/4 mile to go, I made my move. I felt like I was running at 400m pace; the problem was that I had 3 of those to go. I passed her easily, but soon after realized my vision was blurring and I wasn't running straight. A few yards later, she fluidly overtook me for 11th place female. A PW for the last 5 years or so, but hey, who's counting?

After crossing the finish line, it was I, not she, who was greeted by the elite coordinator and escorted in my clothespinned mylar blanket to the Perks Tent, where a massage therapist was waiting on me. With the massage and recovery pizza I said farewell to my elite status and limped back to the car.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Quit Winter

I've had enough of coldness and rainy days and sweaters and gloves. I can't even roll my window down at a drive-thru without my Raynauds kicking in. I just want to go outside and run with no north wind making my last 11 minutes up Mud Island a tear-inducing, chin-numbing experience, like it was yesterday. Yesterday's high was approximately 35 degrees colder than Tuesday. So not only is it still winter, but we get teased by spring every so often, just making it that much worse when we have to dig out those sweaters we already put away again.

But the conditions at the downtown Y pool remain the same: warm and humid with good artificial lighting. There are always 4-5 people in each lane by the time I get there at 5:40(ish), and they've finished all but 100 or so yards of warm up. The water's always the same temperature; I'm guessing it's about 82F. It feels slightly cool when you first jump in, but gets to feeling a little warm by the main set. If I'm in Barb's lane, she'll be insisting on going last. Jonathan's always smiling and going last (ahem, skipping out) on the kick sets, and MC shows up later than I do- yay, I'm not last! I have to have Rob repeat the set instructions at least three times to get through to my foggy brain. Sometimes I throw everybody off by getting there at 5:30; I don't think they recognize me then. I manage to stand around and chat or adjust my goggles on those days until I've missed the warm up anyway. After swim is a hot shower while chatting with Damie in the next shower over, then it's off to a reward coffee before spin. It's all very routine, but that's part of why I like it.

Swimming seems to be the only training I blog about lately. Probably because my training mostly consists of swimming and a little running here and there. The next two weekends will be filled with racing, though, and there will be hours and hours to report about. The Little Rock half marathon is Sunday, which hopefully will not be multiple hours long, and will also hopefully have me finishing smiling and with a huge pink diamond in hand, if not a ginormous check to go with it like last year.

Upon scrutiny of this picture, I'm relieved to see that my left quad had a large dent in it last year at this time. For weeks I've been worrying that it's a new oddity. What a relief.

The weekend after the half marathon is the Natchez Trace Adventure Race in Jackson, which, as the name implies, should provide hours of adventure and maybe some racing thrown in. I may leave that race reporting up to Charlie, who seems to be able to remember event details even while extremely dehydrated and/or miserable. Me, I get a little hypoglycemic and my mind blanks out. Protective mechanism. That's why I keep going back for more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Breakdown Lane

I'm loving this swimming thing. I think it's an addiction to chlorine first thing in the morning. Except we have a saline pool... hmmm.

Tuesday morning I got in my new lane again, but with 4 others instead of 1 or 2. This is the no rest, no talking, no smiling part of the pool, apparently. Or if anyone does smile, it's before I finish the interval, so I miss it. I think MC cracked a few jokes, but the heavy breathing going on made it hard to hear. My heavy breathing.

Thrashing arms, inhaling water, coughing, sputtering, smacking lane ropes.. and that was just me. I somehow elbowed MC in the leg. Dropping my elbows perhaps? But I really am getting into this swimming thing, and trying hard when swimming is even better.
I swam my fastest 200 yards ever last week. For you fast people, it seems pathetic, but I have gotten nowhere near 2:42 in my life before. Maybe for a 100.

So while swimming has been boosting my confidence, the track workout this week did not. Keeping your heart rate in zone 3 for 800s isn't fun when you realize that your pace is 3:25 per 800. If it's really true, like Liz said, that I should be able to run my half marathon in a week and a half in zone 3, then I'm set.

I have a new sport that I'm adding to the list, at least until May 2. I've commited to be part of the Outdoors Canoe and Kayak race this year, partnered up with the big boss (not God, the big boss at work). He thinks that "whatever" I'm already doing in training will be enough to get me through this thing. Oh yeah, and win. I think it's paddling practice time. I guess Charlie and Olaf will appreciate my paddling abilities come adventure race day as well. Um, anyone got a canoe?