Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The favorite season

I love summer and probably always have. Living in New Mexico I'd forgotten about summer thunderstorms and crickets and June bugs and good tomatoes.

We've had loads of delicious ripe tomatoes every week in our CSA basket, and I have been obsessively cooking this tomato pie with them. So SO good! Hunter just grabs a cherry tomato and bites right into it. He is also loving the blackberry bush that grows next to our yard. We pick daily, and he doesn't seem to mind a little bitter redness on them. When we went blueberry picking, he spent the whole time moving along the row, picking from bush or ground, and popping them straight into his mouth. Normally I'd be cooking something with all those delicious berries, but we are eating them too fast.

Living more toward the western side of the time zone than I ever have, it gets dark so late, and we have plenty of after dinner time to draw with our 48 colors of chalk on the sidewalk, house, our clothes, faces, and cars.

The crickets sing our background music and we can watch for the moon to rise over the trees. It takes me back to days with my aunt Ethelyn in Senatobia.

Summer evening running is pretty great too, when you get to enjoy all those things on a newly discovered trail through the woods in your neighborhood.

Ahhh summer!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Muncie Endurathon

 Prerace hydration

Muncie 70.3, formerly known as Muncie Endurathon. This is one of the oldest half Ironmans in the country, and it's been on my to-do list for ages. Last year the heat caused it to be reorganized into a Olympic-ish distance, therefore it never filled this year. I had all these plans to train so much after the move, and it just didn't pan out. We finally joined the gym so I could swim and I did ride my bike a few times. For some reason running hasn't been my favorite sport lately. I was so happy on my NM runs and the happy running just stopped when we moved (except when I'm running with you Jenny! Obviously :)). But remembering when we first moved to NM, I didn't enjoy those first weeks, or months, either. Must be something about habit and familiarity I suppose. Anyway, I knew my runs weren't up to speed.

My bike mechanics. Yep, tires holding pressure.

After checking the weather obsessively for weeks, it turned out to be a perfect forecast. We stayed about 20 minutes from the race site and I left the baby sleeping with daddy around 5:30, since transition was to close at 6:45. Parking a half mile away, I decided that after trekking across the grass parking area I'd hop on my bike and ride the rest of the way to transition. But oops, my chain had popped off the chainring from sitting in the backseat of the car too snugly. When I went to put it back on, I somehow snapped open (and lost) the quick link. Is it just me, or has this never happened to anyone before? And of course it's right before a race. Two men were walking up as I stood frozen with a chain dangling from the derailleur. They kept saying, don't worry about that, the bike tech guys will fix you right up. I liked these guys' attitudes so I walked along with them to T1. A small woman popped up out of nowhere asking me if I'd found that my wheels didn't perform well in the wind due to my small frame size. I had no idea what crazy theory she was talking about and said, "you mean like in a crosswind?" --She nods-- "Um, no." Quickly changing the subject, she said she had never seen a frame so small. Hers was a 48. Mine is a 47. Centimeters! Really? Before I could argue the physics of aerodynamics and um, math, she hurried off. I joked with the guys about how she must be trying to play mind games or something, even though I was clearly not in her AG. I couldn't help but hope she saw me fly by her at some point on the bike with my aerodynamically challenged 404s.

After getting lost in the sea of transition and pointed in the wrong direction a few times, I finally ended up in the bike tech line, having not set up any of my transition area. The very awesome bike tech lady was so helpful and efficient, and she even let me go get things together while she worked, since I was getting a little nervous about the ongoing countdown to transition closure being announced every minute. I had planned to warm up, especially in the water, and hopefully even pump some milk so that my top would fit a little better. Neither was to be. I ended up happy just to have gotten through the porta potty line and used the thing barefooted (yuck yuck yuck!).

My wave was just my AG which is usually gentler than mixing us with males, but I still stayed wide to avoid punches. I am happy to report exactly zero panic attacks, even when the 40-44 males came plowing through, and even when the sun was so bright and so directly in my eyes on the last leg that I was completely completely blinded. Yay! But I am sad to report that I have never swum a split that slow (41 minutes) either in a wetsuit or in a lake, and especially not in both. If anybody gets so discouraged about their swim that they think it is almost pointless to keep at it since they couldn't get slower anyway, let me tell you, you can be slower. But ending the swim on a positive note, they had strippers (of the wetsuit variety) for us! Saved me another minute there.

The bike was flat and supposed to be fast so I was holding back a bit on the way out. I managed nutrition and sodium-- oh whoops, I forgot the salt tabs! -- ok I managed nutrition well and felt good most of the way. Around 20 miles we hit a no-pass zone that I had not been aware of (stupid me for missing the athlete meeting) and I ended up going 15 mph for about a mile (each way). It's highly frustrating to be stuck like that but I used the time to stretch and eat. I still don't understand why people who were clearly riding 20+ mph before had to suddenly slow down with nobody in front of them...

The return leg had a good bit of tailwind for part, which seemed to turn into a bit of cross, then headwind later. I did return a few minutes faster and felt ok about my split of 2:39. One of my immediate future goals is to work on my lower back pain. It is getting a bit cumbersome.

I paused in T2 to do something that I should do for every half: apply lip balm. There will be no more fat sunburned fish lips! The run course had a lot of shade and wasn't on the water like Oceanside, so my risk was lower, but the 15 seconds it took was worth it. I had a long run to get out if T2, and when I found myself walking part of it, I knew it was going to be a tough run. I just didn't pack the right legs to run a good half marathon. The course was pretty, there was shade, there were rolling hills, and it reminded me so much of the old Memphis in May course. Except twice as long.

Early on in the run I saw a woman going the other way with a homemade shirt that said "12 weeks postpartum." It was funny, I realized that many men and women with no kids would be really impressed! But my first thought was how much her poor baby had to sacrifice for her to do that for herself. Here I was feeling guilty enough about leaving my 15 month old (who, by the way, slept until 10!) for that long. And there's no WAY she was breastfeeding and racing that distance! Now I did a sprint when Hunter was 12 weeks, but that's another ball game.

Getting my mind back into the race was sometimes the more painful option-- who really wants to focus on the cramping of their vastua medialises??-- so it became a mix of motivating myself to catch another woman ahead of me and thinking of all the post race massages I was going to get. And how I may never race again. Just kidding. I didn't look at my watch until 2 miles to go, and I felt like I was running around 8 minute pace. I was right, yay for a whole minute per mile slower than Oceanside, but I'm not sure of the split accuracy saying I slowed by 45 sec/mi for the back half. The last 2 miles were soooo looooong but I finally got to the very evil last uphill before the finish where I saw Hunter and Jeremy! I couldn't manage much of a smile but I was so happy to see them. Split: 1:46, finish 5:12.

As soon as I finished Hunter was ready to show me everything. He couldn't quite understand why I grimaced while squatting or why I was so wet and salty, and he realized his mistake of wanting me to pick him up as soon as he made it.

Um, Daddy, help. She's all sweaty and gross.

So in summary:
1. Even if you suck at swimming, just keep swimming.
2. Muncie is a great course. I highly recommend it.
3. Apply lip balm in transition.
4. Learn how to fix your quick link.
5. I seriously need to work on muscular strength and endurance. Lungs good, legs not!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Extended Beach Coverage

We had such a good time at the beach, I just had to share a few videos and more pictures of sweet Hunter. This baby boy has gotten so big so fast, copying everything we do, showing us exactly what he wants us to do. He started giving us hugs one day out of the blue. This is especially common after he's whacked me in the head with a stick or shovel and I tell him to be gentle. :)

So here he is in action.

Independent sand castle contractor here

Couldn't get the video with his great big laughs to work, but this was my workout. He loved it.

After chasing us with the dirt, he gets his at the end :)



 Oh those curls. And that pouty lip!

I only get half his face due to his quick movement; it's not me trying to be artistic. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crickets are singing and lightening bugs are floating on a breeze

We are loving summer vacation here at the Harwood house. Last week was spent on the beach, the Gulf Coast beach, where we haven't been since before Hunter was born. He loved every bit of it. Except when it poured down rain for the last 2 days. Actually he didn't seem to mind because playing in any kind of water -- ocean, stream, rain, pool, hose -- is really awesome. It kinda messed up my run taper though. Did I mention this half Ironman that's coming up? It's Saturday. I'm ill-prepared. I used to go into these things without having run over 9 miles in many weeks, right? And giving up swimming too? I haven't actually done that, and have been going more frequently lately, but I have a hunch this will be a non-wetsuit doggy paddle for me. Why can't I just sign up for a downstream race (a la Jeremy's half in Augusta)? But on the optimistic side, this city is exciting because LOTS of people ride bikes, and I've even ridden with some of them. It's a small world, since I rode with my sister's friend's sister's husband (got that?), and a girl I've raced in the past. People who ride and do triathlons! It's like I don't even have to stalk cyclists on the road and then find out they're actually German and don't speak any English anyway. Ok, enough with the wordiness, onto the pictures.