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Monday, September 29, 2008

South Carolina Half Ironman!

This weekend's race went really well! It was the perfect prep that I needed physically and mentally to prepare me for Worlds!

Saturday was kind of a hectic day as usual. I woke up early to get my pre-race brick in and because I needed to be sure to fill my car up with gas before heading out of town, I spent a decent amount of my brick time waiting in the gas line. So I didn't spend as much time doing my pre-race warmup as I was supposed to have done because I was trying to book it to Cooper's baseball game! But I made it just in time!

The game was filled with drama as Cooper was having some difficulties. A story I'll fill you in with later, but I left with a bit of a broken heart as my little man went home and I was off to South Carolina.

The drive wasn't so bad. A few small moments of panic of not being able to find gels and then I couldn't find the hotel. So I went and got registered and checked in only to find the place I'd had a reservation at and it was NOT ok. I swear I'm no snob! I knew going in that it wasn't going to be the best place because my lazy self waited until the last minute to find a hotel room. But this place was BAD! Old, musty, bad crowd. I just couldn't do it. Thank goodness there was a cancellation at the Days Inn, so I was able to get a room over there! I got settled, organized, and focused on the race!

Sunday morning wasn't nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. I woke up earlier than I had set my alarm for because I never sleep well the night before a race. I felt pretty calm, cool, and collective about the whole thing, which was good. I went into this race for the purpose of testing my race strategies and learning from them, so I wasn't putting too much pressure on myself, which was good! As soon as I got into transition, Danni came over and introduced herself! She's a really sweet girl from blog land, and it was so nice meeting her. I also ran into one of my team mates, Steve who I didn't know was racing. And I got to say hello to Wes before the start as well!

The swim was really good! I swam a 35 in Hawaii in the ocean without a wetsuit, so I was hoping to do faster than that at this race considering it was a lake, wetsuit swim. I went off in wave 5 with all the women 39 and under, and though I went for it right at the gun in an effort to latch on to the back of the lead pack, I just couldn't get connected to them! So I ended up swimming pretty much the whole time by myself. It was weird almost. I kept thinking I was off course or something, but I swam straight from bouy to bouy, so I think there may have been just a lot of room out there or something. I ended up swimming a 33:33, which I was very happy with. I know better than to think I can swim super fast, and honestly in comparison to others, I wasn't one of the slower swimmers. So I feel like that is continuing to get a little better and better each time!

As I mentioned before, I've really focused on transitions this year, as last year my transitions were always slow. I had seen the transition times from year's past and felt like I should be able to do at least sub 2min on each. I came out of T1 with a 1:32. Again, really happy with that!

Going into the bike, I had a lot to think about. I'd not seen the course, but had heard a lot about it. I had heard that the first 20 miles were kind of hilly and then it was more rolling after that. I also knew that the roads were supposed to be kind of bad in certain locations. Kind of chewed up gravel with pot holes and such. I actually know a guy that wrecked 2 years ago and had to have surgery on his collar bone, so wasn't expecting this to be a super fast bike. Based off of previous times, I was hoping for a 2:40-2:45. I actually was feeling great for the first 20 miles! Yeah, I thought it was a little hilly, but legs were just kind of bouncing up the hills and all was well! After the 20 miles of hills though, came the crappy roads, and I felt like I couldn't really get my pace up that much with those types of roads. Plus, my back started killing me at this point, but I was just ignoring it. I could tell that I was on pace for the 2:40 split, so I kept pushing it a little. I came off of the bike thinking I'd hit the 2:40-2:41 range. I knew I had slowed down coming into transition some and I'd spent a little time getting my feet out of my shoes and my watch off of my bike. So when I saw my final bike split result of 2:43:04, I was a little disappointed. But, I felt I did pretty well, so I'm ok with that.

Coming into the run, I was feeling really good! I knew it was a little rolling, and I didn't want to set my sights too high, so Jen and I had figured 1:50-1:51ish. She told me to take the first mile really easy, and then get my speed up to like 8:30 splits for the first 1/2 of it. I was running what I felt like was really easy and realized I was running too fast of course, but I didn't feel like I was running too hard at all, so I just went off of effort. It was a out and back loop x 2. It got pretty warm out there on the run. But not horrible. It was mostly bad in this one particular 2 mile section that you were just out on the pavement directly in the sun. And we did that part 4 x, so that was a little daunting, but I managed. By mile 4, my splits were getting slower. The fatigue started to set in and my stomach was feeling really full. I kept sipping on fluids through the aid stations only because I knew I needed it, but not because I really wanted it. I refused to let myself walk. I only slowed to a walk for a few seconds to get my sips in through the aid stations. I was really proud of that, because on most races, I end up walking a little bit. But not this time!

I went into the race hoping to come out with a sub 5:15. By mile 10, I knew that a sub 5:10 was possible if I picked it up a bit and stayed with it. In every race I've ever done, the most of a kick I've ever been able to do is like 1/2 mile. So for me to take those last 3 and get moving again, was something I was really happy with myself for doing. I REALLY wanted that sub 5:10, and I wasn't going to give it away right at the end!!

I finished with a 5:09:04. My run ended up being 1:49:42, so justs under my 1:50 goal! I thought if I got in under 5:15 that would be good for top 10. Unfortunately, there were a lot of fast girls there yesterday, and I ended up finishing 11th overall. I missed the top 10 by one stinking second! Me and this woman were sprinting it out up this big hill at the end, and she took me by that one second right at the line! Shucks!! I'm always SOOOO close, but oh well! :) I did finish first in my age group though, and PR'd my 70.3 distance by 17:50. So overall, a very good day!

Congratulations to Danni and Kevin on their first Half Ironmans! And to Wes on a 9 min pr as well!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nutrition Tidbit!

I've been in the weight loss/weight control world for over 10 years now. I hosted a weight loss group for a several teachers that I used to work with and love reading about all the latest and greatest nutrition research. I'm a HUGE believer that all information needs to be considered differently by each individual person. There are no hidden secrets. There is no special formula. What's right for one person isn't necessarily ok for another, and there are NO bad foods! And if it sounds too good to be true... It probably is! :)

However, there are a few things that over the years have proven to work for the majority of people. And one common mistake I see a lot of people make is skipping breakfast!

You wake up motivated! Today is a new day and you want to start off right! You either aren't really hungry and eat nothing at all, or grab something small on your way out the door! You're doing great, right?? Well... maybe until lunch when you are starving and then decide to start feeding yourself. And by dinner, all bets are off!

We've all had our days. And even I am continuing to work on switching up my cycle even better. Because ideally, breakfast should be your LARGEST meal of the day, followed by a smaller lunch, and then an even smaller dinner. Not really how we as Americans normally do it.

I've always eaten breakfast. Love it! Breakfast food is one of my favorite kinds. But now I'm trying to eat even more of it in an effort to reset my clock!

And just in case you still have your doubts.... I recently read an article that said Sumo wrestlers use the "trick" of skipping breakfast and eating consistently throughout the evening in an effort to GAIN weight for their sport! That's a different take for the rest of us athletic people! :)

Enjoy your healthy breakfast, and make it a big one!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Catching Up!

With my blog that is!

It seems like I either have nothing interesting going on, which means I have time to write but nothing to write about. OR… I am up to a bunch of cool things, which means I have no time to write about it! Oh well… whatcha going to do? :)

Where to begin… I had a lot of fun this weekend with the Fam!

The workouts were shorter as I was beginning to taper a bit for the half ironman I’m doing this weekend. So I got home early enough to get in some quality time! First thing was an “Adventure Walk!” Oh yes… we went on a crazy adventure walk down a trail at a local park. Adam had taken the kids a few weeks ago while I was in Wisconsin, and Cooper hadn’t stopped talking about it since. We were waiting for an opportunity where we could all go and decided Saturday would be best. MANY sticks to watch out for. Several “crazy” maneuvers through some pretty serious grass, and a STEEP downhill that had to be carefully navigated! However, the adventure was well worth it as we made it to the river and proceeded to throw rocks in it! Good times!

*Me and the kiddos on our adventure walk! It looks like they are almost MY size already! :)
*Pretty Adventurous, hey?

After eating at one of my favorite pizza places downtown, Rocky Mountain Pizza Co., we were off to the races! The track races that is! Yep… 3 times a year they hold “The Festival of Speed”, which is a full day of racing for amateurs and pros on the track. No… I have not taken that step yet. Looks like a TON of fun, but also looks like something that I would completely kill myself in trying to accomplish! I keep waiting for a time that it wouldn’t matter if I got injured, and I guess you could probably say fortunately, that time has yet to come. :) We hung out with my friends Amy and Lee while we were there. They ARE actually brave enough to have gotten out there and start racing it this year. I think they are such studs! They weren’t racing that night, but have done so a couple of times, and I can’t wait to see them in action soon!
*The scariest part was making sure MY kids didn't do something to wreck the riders! :)
*A picture of my and Amy that Gracie took! She LOVES to take pictures!

The kids did really well, and I wasn’t 100% sure since it was there first time. But they have several kid races there as well, and they really enjoyed cheering for the boys and girls! I promised them each an extra dollar in their allowance if they were good, and they were both happy to learn that they had both earned the money! Cooper also insisted that Amy was very good as well and I should have given her $1. However, nothing was said about Lee. He must not have been very “good”??? :)

After a short run and bike on Sunday, we ended up scoring Braves tickets to the last game of the season. Adam had originally gotten the tickets from work for our neighbor, but something came up and they couldn’t go. So of course we wanted to use them. The kids and I had not been yet this season, and the seats were great! Plus, Turner Field has this whole Cartoon Network section for the kids that they love. The weather was perfect and the kids had fun cheering. The Braves won! So it was a great day!!
*Cooper at the ballgame eating dipping dots from his souvenir hat!
*Gracie doing the Tomahawk-Chop!

And In Other News…

Since the weekend, we are back in school! Yeah! A nice break at home, but back to having a little more free time for me!

I spent the good part of yesterday morning driving around in search of gas. The hurricanes that hit Texas have affected the gas distribution to the Atlanta area. Almost all of Atlanta is experiencing a no-gas problem! Of course when people hear of this, panic ensues and the places that DO have gas have LONG lines of people waiting. So places that got gas deliveries yesterday morning were out of gas again by 10am. Fortunately, I was able to find somewhere that not only had gas, but had the kind my car requires. They’d gotten a delivery after the morning rush and so word hadn’t gotten out quite yet that they had gas. I heard this morning on the radio that the gas sanctions that Atlanta has that requires the gas to be more refined than other places due to smog have been temporarily lifted. This means that surrounding states will be able to ship us gas until the distribution gets back on schedule. Good thing as Atlanta is a commuter city and the entire city would shut down within days if no one had gas to put in their cars! CRAZY!! :)

On a sad note, I lost a sort of friend this weekend. My hair is long and I keep it in a bun or ponytail 90% of the time. Because of that, I have a ponytail holder on me at all times. Well, a while ago it occurred to me that this one particular ponytail holder I had had either in my hair or on my arm non-stop for months! Sounds gross, I know. But it was clean. It got washed during my shower daily! I could remember having it on my person seriously non-stop since before my trip to Hawaii. Well yesterday, it finally broke. After over 5 months together, our relationship was literally broken. I know it is crazy, but I had actually become kind of attached to that ponytail holder. I mean think of it… we’d done everything together that entire time. It will always be remembered. And if you are looking for ponytail holders that hold up, well I have proof that the extra strength Goody brand apparently can take a decent beating!

I think it’s time for new swimsuits. I realized this morning during masters that my suit was dragging in the water… literally. The top layer basically now prefers to sag. I’m guessing that is NOT a good thing when trying to be speedy! Does it seem like all of my favorite things are finally giving out on me? I guess that’s a sign of the end of the season!

I think my weight-loss attempt is making me grumpy. Or snappy at least. I’ve done I’d say 80% well. This weekend during all of my fun outings, yeah… didn’t do so well. I’m shrugging it off to being part of “the learning experience!” I’m good when I’m on schedule, but having to think ahead and bring/prepare food… tad more difficult. What’s weird is that this isn’t my first showdown with this whole clean up your diet thing. I’ve done it before and think I used to be much better at it! See, I don’t believe in “dieting.” I am a believer in the whole life-style thing, and I’m working on the whole moderation thing. I mean what does one eat at a baseball game?? I mean come on! Overall though, I’m down 2lbs with 3 more to go. The good thing is is that I can start to see it a bit, and that’s always a motivator! I absolutely LOVE learning about food and how it interacts with your body. It is seriously a constant learning process, and when I used to really pay attention to what I ate I did it from a “want to be a skinny girl” perspective. Now learning how to eat well AND eat enough to fuel an endurance athlete makes it even that much more interesting. So I think I’m going to start posting some little tidbits I learn that work for ME as I go through this whole journey thing!

Well… that’s about it for now! I promise to try to be less of a stranger. Happy Day everyone!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Almost Here...!

*The first leaves beginning to change!

Seems like I'm always saying that! Right now... that goes for:

Halloween... Yes, here at the Mills Home we are already planning our Halloween costumes!

Clearwater...Or also the end of the 2007 season!

Turkey Day/Christmas....Again, the kids are looking ahead. We've mapped out that first comes Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas which = Santa, presents, family, and fun! We're on a count down!


Yes... after a very nice August for us here in Hot Atlanta, we were hit with a bit of a heatwave last week which left me unexpectedly suffering after returning from beautiful, cool Wisconsin. However, this week it seems like Fall and cooler weather are finally starting to settle in! I actually have worn long sleeves the past 2 morning workouts! :) And ohhh, those morning workouts... Do they hurt so much because I'm getting old or am I just a wimp? I used to get up every morning at 4:45am so that I could get my run in before going to teach. This was PRE-kids. Now... just knowing that I am going to get up early like that, and I'll start dreading it days before. Even though I will be in bed in plenty of time, it's like I just can't get used to it anymore.

But, I will say there is something to getting up early, getting things done, and then having the rest of the day to worry about other things, or if you are lucky... relax! :)

One of the main reasons that I've been getting up early this week is because believe it or not, we're on Fall Break. Yep... the whole week off from school this week. 6 weeks in/1 week off. I know... I think it's kind of crazy. I mean on paper it kind of makes sense, but I think I'd rather skip this particular break and just go back 1 week later. Then again, maybe the grass is always greener on the other side, right?

I must say though, it's been a nice week. Surprisingly, things have been low key thus far. I've gotten up early to workout and then we've just kind of hung out for the rest of the day. We've had baseball obligations, but that's it. And it's not like things to be so relaxed in our household. I guess that is a good thing though as I'm preparing for the South Carolina Half Ironman on September 28th. As of right now, I'm having mixed emotions about it. There's that part of me that is nervous because I'm getting ready to race and it happens no matter what race or what distance. There's the other part of me that's nervous because I really know very little about this race and what to expect. I've heard mixed things. I guess I'll go with it and see what happens. There's also the studious part of me that is ready to practice for Clearwater. To use this race as a homework assignment basically to put the final touches on my Clearwater plans.

I must admit too that I'm getting a little of the "end of the season" pains. The weather is cooling, things in life are settling down, and yet we're still out there chugging along to try to finish the season in a way that we've envisioned all along. Last year getting ready for Ironman Florida it was tough. But you just keep going, and it arrives before you know it, so I am sure I'll make it. But I do look forward to the end of the season because it gives me a stopping point to celebrate what I've accomplished and "start over" basically prepping and getting excited about a new year. And the fact that I already have IM Wisconsin locked in makes me excited just thinking about it!

My best wishes to all you folks out there prepping for your final races! And to those are have finished up... Congratulations! In the meantime... we'll be here getting "Prepared!" :)
*Cooper and Gracie wearing Mom and Dad's jackets in the house yesterday!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The "Crazy" Madison Trip!

Let me begin this post by saying... I LOVE WISCONSIN!!

Amy and I got a little bit of a late start on Friday. She had to work half a day, and I had to get Gracie to and from school, so after finally getting situated, we pulled out of Amy's house Friday afternoon at 2:30 for a 13+ hour journey!

The 12-13 hour drive ended up being a 14 and 1/2 hour drive because we got stuck in Nashville during rush hour and of course, there was a wreck, so we eeked our way through there. As it got late, we decided we needed coffee. We came upon Champagne, Illinois, which is close to where Amy actually used to live! It's also the home of the University of Illinois, so we pulled off in search of "the best" coffee! It was dark, and late so it took us a little longer to find it... but it was totally worth it! Plus, apparently it's rush week there! It was like 1am and kids were EVERYWHERE! We were laughing of how tired we were, but these kids were just getting started! Man we're getting OLD! :)

*Me and Amy in front of the capitol in Madison which is also the Finish Line!

Back on the road and a LONG drive through what has to be the longest USA state of Illinois, we FINALLY arrived to Madison and our hotel. Our reward... the very nice Adam of the Sheraton Madison Hotel let us go ahead and check in for our Sat. reservation. SO... we got a "free" room for Friday night, which is fortunate considering we only actually slept on Friday for about 4 hours!

Why did we do it this way you ask? So we could get up early and go to the Gatorade swim of course! :) So with a 14+ hour drive and 4 hours of sleep under our belt, we drag our happy selves out of bed and head out to the lake to swim 1.2 miles! We actually felt great! The water was as flat as ever! The temperature was perfect! The course was great! One loop around and I could have kept on swimming what seemed effortlessly!

*Us after swimming at the Gatorade swim!

Saturday seriously flew by. After our swim and a MUCH needed shower, we come over to the Expo and ended up being good girls once again by not spending hundreds of dollars on glorious Ironman merchandise! We walked all around and took in Madison, which is the coolest, hippest town ever! We went in search for lunch and found ourselves in a sea of RED where the Wisconsin football game had just finished. It was seriously one gigantic party! So now we can say we were a part of two college parties this weekend! Well… sort of :)

*Atlanta needs us one of these! It's a cycling vending machine full of tubes, c02, nutrition and other bike needs!

Saturday was slipping away from us and we still had to get in a 3 hour ride. The Ironman course in Madison is approximately a 12 mile ride from Madison into a little town called Verona. Once in Verona, you do 2 quite hilly loops and then head back into Madison for T2. To avoid the traffic and really get a sense of the chunk of the course, we drove out to Verona and did one loop out there. It’s definitely a hilly course. 5 or so major climbs and one pretty nasty decent if you aren’t really careful. Our friend we made Mark, actually took a dive on that hill. So I made a mental note that I’d be taking that curvy downhill cautiously! Mark was great too! Only 3 miles into our ride and Amy unfortunately had a flat. Of course, us girls are standing there yanking at the tire trying to change it when he comes by and offers to help. We ended up doing pretty much the rest of the ride getting to know our new friend who was also in town to sign up for next year!

*Us with Mark during a pit stop for more co2. Yes... I'm in my aero-helmet because my other one was stuck in my car at home. That's a long story for another day! :)

The 3 hour ride was a little short as it was getting dark quickly out there. We did get in the one loop though, so that was the important part. By this time, we head back to the hotel room, take some quick showers and couldn’t even make it out of the hotel for dinner because we were so tired. We went downstairs to grab something from the hotel restaurant before completely crashing.

Of course Sunday we’re up early again to get to the race start. I’ve never watched an Ironman before, and it was SOOOO much fun! And what an advantage to watch this particular race before competing in it because transition is FUNKY! You swim out to the buoys and start in the water. Do 2 loops in the water and then run through the chute UP the helix! It’s a hotel/parking deck that has this 3 loop circular hill that most people drive to park. This is part of transition! You run up the loopty-loop to the top deck of the garage. You’ll go into the building to get your T1 bag and get changed, back out to the bike area, grab your bike and run down to the other side only to ride the opposite loopty-loop down! Its nuts! But works, so I’m glad I got to see that before showing up next year and being like WTF?? :)

*The Swim Start!

*This is the helix loop that you run up on one side and then there is another one just like it that you bike down! Needless to say, transitions are kind of slow at this race!

We watched almost the entire swim and a lot of people go through T1. It was so much fun standing there cheering everyone on! Afterwards, we grabbed some breakfast and went out for a run ourselves. The weather was PERFECT! I don’t think you could ask for better race weather! Unfortunately, Coach Jen warned me that it isn’t normally that way. Wisconsin in September is kind of tricky. It can be really hot, or really cold, so maybe we can go for 2 years in a row of perfect weather! Our run was great on this trail around the lake in truly fall weather. And when I was finishing up my run, Chris McDonald, who ended up winning the race was finishing up his bike ride. I was screaming for him as I was running by and he was smiling. Apparently, he has a nickname of Big Sexy. Well…. I will validate that statement by saying he is super cute! :)

*This was a really cool handmade poster by a spectator made from foam art I think!

*A picture of 1/2 the transition area. There is a duplicate on the entire other side!

We finally got the opportunity to try to take a short nap that afternoon. We really needed some sleep at this point, but I just don’t sleep well in hotel rooms, so… oh well. Good thing there was so much excitement going on that we just kind of fed off of it! We went back up to the race and checked out some of the run course, which by the way… I’ve never seen so much crowd support on another course before. Tons of people lining the entire route cheering people on! College town, it had the best feel! We got to see Hilary Biscay run in for her 1st Ironman victory and Amanda Lovato run by with a big smile on her face looking great!

*Out on the race course!

If you follow Ironman than you probably know this, but we knew that both Chris McDonald (Big Sexy) and Hilary Biscay were racing in Wisconsin this weekend after finishing Ironman Louisville only one week earlier! Back to back Ironman’s and Big Sexy finished 2nd in Louisville while Hilary came in 4th. They BOTH won Ironman WI this year! How cool is that! And furthermore, we read Hilary’s blog to figure out why in the world she was doing this and it was a dare! Her and McDonald did it in a matter of trash talking because they’re both on the same team and apparently, it worked out very well for them!

*Hilary with about 2 miles to go to her finish!

*The finishers area at night! I thought it was beautiful!

So after hours of spectating, which is very exhausting, we go to head home. Unfortunately, we hadn’t noted where we had parked. Unbeknownst to us, there are like 10 parking decks in Madison that look a whole lot alike. It was dark and everything looked different as the race had cleared out quite a bit at this point. We walked around for about 2 hours before FINALLY getting a police officer to help us locate our car. I called Adam not sure if it had been stolen or what! Yes… a little stupid on our part, but I will say Madison is very confusing! So 3 hours later, we finally get to our car! We don’t make it into bed Sunday night until after midnight and then yet AGAIN get up less than 5 hours later to go stand in line to get our slot!

*Adam says it's pretty obvious at this point that we had both had 2 margaritas! :)

We arrived at the registration area at 5:30am and we were already about 75 people back! There were maybe 20 people that actually camped out and within 30 min there were hundreds of people! What we didn’t know going into this was that a new thing this year is if you volunteer for the race, you get priority registration. So at 7am it split into 2 separate lines with volunteers in one and slackers like us in another. There were at least 600 volunteers in that line. So at 9am the doors opened and we sat back and watched all 600+ people walk through the line before us. Some that had even gotten there just minutes before. Oh well… you live and learn. It went pretty quickly though, and finally after waiting in line for 4.5 hours, we got our number!

*In the first picture, you can see part of the line and how it is looping around where the transition area was. There's me also on my computer. It was cold and rainy that day, good thing it held off for one more day for the racers! I felt like I was back in college trying to score football tickets! :)

A few more quick stops later, we were on the road by 12:30pm Eastern time. Amy is a wonderful travel partner. We got to talking so much about everything and were going off of the directions TO Madison and just reversing them. Unfortunately, after traveling for what seemed like FOREVER through that horribly long state of Illinois, and many phone calls to my chastising husband, we finally concluded that we had gone the wrong way. For AWHILE! Had it not been for the interstate making this weird change, within an hour or two we would have seen the “Welcome To Wisconsin” sign and been completely out of our minds. So… our 13 hour trip home on Monday turned out to be an 18 hour trip that had to be split between two days. We drove on Monday evening until 9:30pm when we were so tired and it was storming, we had to stop. We spent the night in Effingham, Illinois I kid you not! And just to commemorate this quite memorable part of our trip, I bought this in the gas station in Effingham on Tuesday morning on our way home!

Finally, after another 9+ hours in the car on Tuesday, we got home! Oh I was useless on Tuesday. I couldn’t even think straight. I just kind of set there as I talked with my family. I’m still not even quite 100% yet, but things are starting to get back into the swing of things!

However though… even if I knew what I know now, I’d do it again in a hearbeat! Other than the little parking issue and the extra day of driving, it was a blast! I had so much fun with Amy! I am so looking forward to training with her over the next year in preparing for another new Ironman experience! Congratulations to all of you Ironman Wisconsin people! I can’t wait to be one of you next year!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Things That Make You Go Hmmmm!"

Do you remember this lovely song from 1990! Can you believe it was almost 20 years ago?? Yikes!

This has been my theme lately!

For example...

"What's That Brown Spot??"
That's the game I've played the past couple of days! :) It started with one of my toes. I was painting my toes for my race this weekend, one of my usual race traditions!, when I started picking at one of them. What was with that brown spot on my toe?? After some investigation, I discovered, Oh... it was just another bruised/dead toe nail! No biggie, that's just what happens isn't it? :)

Then the game continued in such a fun manner with my other foot. There was a specific spot on the bottom of my foot that hurt like you know what! There was a small puncture wound, and there was something brown inside! Yuck! The question was... Is it a splinter or just dirt?? Hmmmm... After some careful surgical procedures, ones a regular person should not try at home, I concluded that it was not a splinter but a place where one USED to be. I guess from running in that crappy transition area from my race, I stabbed my foot with something. It wiggled itself out, but left the reminisce of it's filth. Mystery solved!

Yet another opportunity to play the game today after my somewhat frustrating bike ride! After getting both kids off to school, I set out to do bike hill repeats in my neighborhood. You would know that is quite something if you knew my neighborhood! :) Attempting to be the properly prepared little triathlete, I got all of my stuff set up and out ahead of time, so as soon as I got home from drop-off duty, I'd be set! Loaded up, IPod running, I carefully attempt to descend down my extremely steep driveway without being clipped into my pedals (I'm having clipping issues. A story for another day.) I hit the ridge where the driveway meets the street and immediately start to fumble to the ground. I catch myself when my well... body area that claims me as a girl collides with the handlebar stem. OUCH! Not a good place to bring your body to a stop! One of my water bottles drops to the ground and explodes. So I place my bike in the grass and head back inside to retrieve another one. Heading into attempt #2, I start on a less steep decent deciding that I was the fault of my last almost crash. DOWN the hill I go, clipping myself in, when I hit a curve and begin to SLIDE! Ok... that is not right! Curve 2, slide again, somehow manage to keep from crashing a 3rd time in less than 10 min! Realize all of this is because of a flat. Nice! Walk myself and my bike BACK up the hill to proceed to change the tire. I am NOT good at this. Get the darn tire off, get out replacement tube, check tire to be sure the problem area is not still there, get everything put back together, BUT can not get the tire 100% back on. There's like a 2 in section that will not freaking budge! I'm on the ground holding this stinking tire in every which direction I can and it just isn't happening. Even tried to get a guy neighbor to help me, but he didn't answer the door (probably saw desperate woman holding tire in hand and decided to ignore it!) and so I switched it out, put my zipp on there and got my ride in. After riding, while showering off, I got to play the What's That Brown Spot?? game again!! Scrubbing my legs, was it Grease or Bruises?? Neither remove easily. Some spots are apparent because of the pain, but some required much time and effort to figure out!!

Finally when heading out of the shower to discover that the towel that I used once last night and hung up in my bathroom had a mysterious brown spot on it... I had had enough of this game, decided NOT to investigate, went with the safe assumption that one of my children attempted to "clean" themselves with mommy's towel, and got a new, cleaner one! :) I've grown tired of this game and hope it does not continue!

More things to ponder...

*My house as been infected with flies this summer. It's an unfortunate occurrence when you have a 4 year old and 5 year old that can NEVER remember to shut the door! The flies are seriously driving me crazy. Weird thing I discovered today though as I was vacuuming, they all seem to die in my bedroom. Ummm... what's that all about? Should I be alerted that something is wrong with my bedroom?? :)

*For the past 24 hours my Coach Jen has been constantly eliminating food from my diet! I've spent my day munching on carrots, veggies, applesauce, etc. I've had plenty of food, but why am I so horribly tired?! I'm seriously on a sugar crash! It's not like I sit around and eat sugar all day. Well... not everyday, but apparently it kind of is. If I'm hungry, I'll grab a granola bar or a z bar. They unfortunately ended up in the "junk" pile. It's not really like I'm that sad that they're gone. I wasn't in love with them or anything, but I was sitting around at 4:30pm asking myself if it was too early to eat dinner! I was on the phone with my niece and seriously couldn't even focus! So why is it when you eat sugar, you feel like crap and your body stores it in excess as fat, but when you come off of it, you go in like detox or something. Ahh!! I know there's the whole scientific stuff behind this so that there isn't really a hmmmm involved, but remember, I'm not at 100% mentally today, so bare with me! :)

Lastly, I've been driving my car under a lease for the past 3 years. Friday, Adam went and took care of the paperwork to buy it outright. I LOVE my car, so completely happy about it, which is good since it has more miles on it than you can imagine, so turning it in was not an option! :) So purchased out-right on Friday...Monday, my air conditioning dies! It is actually dying a slow death too, so took me until this afternoon to figure it out. But smoky smell + hissing noise + lack of super cold air= problem. So all day I've been driving in my car literally with that "hmmmmm" look on my face! I'm sure that was a sight!

Or maybe... I'm just REALLY confused from my lack of sugar and none of this is really happening??? Hmmmm?? If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, send chocolate and ice cream ASAP!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Callaway Gardens Triathlon!

Yesterday was my Callaway Gardens Triathlon! I said in my last report that this is a special race to me because I did this race in 2006 as my very first triathlon! And I was really excited to go back and do it a second time after training for the past almost 2 years since then to see the difference!

It's been a really great weekend overall. We went Saturday to my sister's house in Franklin, GA (about 45 min from Callaway Gardens) to spend the night. I dropped Adam and the kids off and headed over to the Gardens to register and get my pre-race brick in. Callaway is a really beautiful place, and they do special events for the Labor Day Weekend! They have a man-made beach, a little train that goes around the lake, putt-putt, Florida State University puts on a circus during the summer months that is really neat. This weekend they were doing a Hot Air Balloon special and had all sorts of neat activities going on. It is also like a Botanical Gardens place as well, with camping and golf and cottages and such. Just a neat place overall!

So everything went fine on Saturday. Got all my little pre-race workouts in. Funny story... got to thinking I might try the whole have shoes clipped in on the bike for the start of the race thing this time. I've practiced it, but never really felt completely comfortable with it. I'm fine with leaving my shoes on my bike to move into T2, but feel like I need to really nail the shoes in bike for T1 before trying it in the race. The transition area for this race is funky and can be long, and since I REALLY need to clean my pedals and have a super hard time getting clipped in on my left shoe, I thought I'd practice it and see if I could do it. Well.... didn't go so well! :) My shoes kept flopping and getting stuck so it'd stop the bike! I almost fell twice and ended up somehow putting this big gash in my right foot! It started bleeding like crazy! :) So I figured, I'd just suck it up and run with my bike shoes on for at least this race!

But the one thing I did notice there on Saturday was that 90% of the fun involved water. Not a good environment for a 4 year old with a full-length arm non-waterproof cast! So though we wanted to take the kids to the race on Sunday, we decided against it. I think that giant waterslide would have been too heartbreaking for her!

So didn't sleep well on Saturday night of course because I never do. But that was ok. Was having some stomach issues before the race as well, but was feeling positive, so was ready to go!

This race is kind of strange, first of all, it is the Oldest triathlon other than the Hawaii Ironman in the United States. So that's kind of cool. But it's REALLY laid-back. That can be good in some aspects, and not so good in others. For example, transition area... First come, First serve. No bike in/bike out, run out signs, so even though I got there in time to kind of get my pick of transition, didn't really know where to set up! So set up close to what we thought would be bike out to keep from having to run too far in my bike shoes. Because I knew where you came in from the swim and it's a LONG way from the opposite end of transition! Oh, and no race instructions in packet or anything, so it's not like I didn't look! :)

So all set for the race with my race plan in mind, I head down to the start. Went off in Wave 4/5, which was all women! :) The only girls that went beforehand were those representing collegiate teams. All collegiates went in wave 1 and there were a ton of schools represented! I thought that was so cool! I couldn't help but think how cool it would have been to be apart of something like that when I was in college! The swim was supposed to be a 1k, but it never really is I guess. I think it's actually between 850-900 meters, which is always good for me!

I line up at the front, the gun goes off and I immediately see 7-8 girls start to pull away. I wanted to latch on to the back of the pack and try to stay with them so I decided I was going to WORK to catch up to them, but as soon as I started to get close, we made a sharp left turn and entered into a sea of orange caps! All the 40+ guys that had headed out before us that were struggling/taking it easy. I've had issues before in navigating through these people, but I tried not to let them slow me down and kept pushing. Never saw the other pink caps again, but stuck with my race plan that I was not doing 1 race today, but 3. Race the swim, Race the Bike, Race the run as if they were individual races! So I didn't let myself slack off on the swim and kept pushing it the best I could.
*That looks SCREAMS determination! HA HA! :)

Finished in 14:13 this year as compared to my 17:58 from last time! That was good! Actually came out of the water in 13:50, so I felt pretty good about that, but I knew I had that lead pack ahead of me and I was determined to catch them on the bike! I haven't been the speediest in transitions in the past either, so I've been working on those. T1 this year was 1:22 and it was 2:09 last time. So that was great for me! Took me a second to get that darn left foot into my clip, but once I did, I was off!

The bike course isn't hard, but technical. A lot of sharp turns, so you have to be kind of careful, and remember last time I crashed on this bike course, so it was within my race plan NOT to do that this time! :) 2 loops, went well! Caught 4 of the girls ahead of me so was feeling good. One thing I kept doing for fun...I kept passing these speed limit signs for 20mph. Everytime I'd pass one, I'd look at my speed and say to myself, "I don't think so!" I thought that was funny. At least it kept me entertained! :)Bike time this year was 53:02 for 19 miles as compared to 1:00:09 last time.
*My LARGE rear headed up the hill!

T2 was a little tricky. They had the bike in/bike out situation all screwed up. Transition was basically divided into 2 sections. I was in section 1 and the bike in was in front of section 2. Well it caught me off guard, and I didn't want to run ALL the way around to the other side. People were going every which of way, so I just reacted and ended up crawling myself and my bike under empty bike racks! :) Still managed to get out of there in 1:20, which was faster than 2006's 1:51!
Ok... hard part, try not to fall apart on the run! Try to hold pace no matter what. This year, I've managed a 7:50 pace no matter what race, no matter what distance. In 2006, I ran this 5 mile run in 38:25, which is a 7:41 pace. So I KNEW I could do at least that this year. So no backing off! I think part of it is I think too much and let that little voice in my head take over and get me to back off. So I decided to go out Fast and build to Hard! It was a 3 mile out and back and then a 2 mile run around the lake. It wasn't hilly, but wasn't flat either. Long, false climbs mostly. It was good with the out and back because I could kind of tell who was in front of me. I was trying to not get passed and just run to people. Everytime I'd want to back off, I'd catch myself and try to push harder. There was a couple of times I literally thought to myself that if I could just walk through an aid station or walk up one of those hills, I could gain some energy and do better. But that part in me that knew better FINALLY took over and said NO! The real part of me knew if I started walking through the aid stations, I'd never get back in it. That I'd just slow from there, so I resisted YEAH!! Ended up not being super speedy, but did beat my 2006 time of 38:25 by 1 WHOLE second! I hit a 38:24 for the same 7:41 pace, but at least it beats my times from this year!

All in all, I won my 30-34 age group and came in 6th overall. I finished in 1:48:20 compared to 2:00:30 from 2006. So a little more than 12 min taken off of a less than Olympic Distance Race isn't so bad! I guess you could say I've made some improvements in the past 2 years! The key is that I stuck at it, and that was my success!
*Me with my plaque! ONE place away from the cool overall awards! :)

I have decided that part of my issue is that when I did this race 2 years ago and I was pretty much just a runner, I was about 7-8lbs lighter than I am now. I know some of it is the muscle I've gained from picking up the swim and bike, but it isn't ALL of it! I need to lose about 5lbs, and I think I could do that to improve my overall run and fitness without really losing anything on the bike, so now that's my new mission! *Refer to picture of me running out of the water! That would be JUNK in the TRUNK! :)

Wish me luck, I have a sweet tooth that is VERY fierce, and so if I come across as a complete and total *ITCH, I'm sorry!! I'll be in some detox! And I think Rachel Ross is doing this as well, so maybe her and I can call each other for some B* sessions! :)

Great Job to all of you guys out there in Louisville yesterday. I know that must have been so tough! But each and everyone of you did what you could do and that's what matters, so congratulations to you all!

Now off to eat something made from home that isn't processed... hmmmm??? :)