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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

Many people are setting New Year's Resolutions.  While New Year's Resolutions are a great concept, many people choose unrealistic resolutions that they can't stick to.  Of the people who set New Year's Resolutions, only about 8% of them successfully achieve their resolutions.  Many people have too many resolutions or their resolutions are far to large or broad for people to achieve.

I think that it is important to instead set goals that one can stick to.  I refer to them as goals, because for me, the stigma of the "resolution" that so many fall short of is not there with the term "goals."

My Goals for 2013:

1.  Lose 25 pounds...I realize many people want to lose weight as a "New Year's Resolution," but I have already set the wheels in motion for this and have lost 7 pounds since Thanksgiving.  For me, it is about getting to a healthy race weight that will help me achieve my race goals more efficiently.  By losing the weight at a slower rate, I am more likely to keep it off.

2.  I have the goal of eating more natural foods (less processed foods)...This shouldn't be too challenging since we don't consume many processed foods, but I am looking to eliminate even more of them.  By incorporating more natural foods into my diet, I am hopeful I will have more energy, lose a few unwanted pounds and feel better about myself.

3.  I am have some running goals for this year as well.

  • I am running the Little Rock Marathon on March 3rd.  My goal for this race is to run between 4 hours and 4:15:00.
  • I am also running the Drake 1/2 Marathon in April.  My goal for this race is to set a PR...This will require me to run sub 1:45:00.  It will be a challenge, but I KNOW I CAN DO THIS!!
  • I will be running the Twin Cities Marathon in October.  My goal for this race is to break the 4 hour mark.

4.  I am competing in a 1/2 Ironman Distance event in June and another in August.  My goal for one of these is to go sub 6:00:00...My current PR is 6:32:44 for the 70.3 mile distance.  I would be happy to break 6:30:00, but I will continue to push my body to new limits to break 6 hours!!

5.  I am planning to compete in Ironman Wisconsin in 2014, so I want to make sure I have a great base and remain injury free going into 2014.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Slip Slidin' Away

Thursday I went for a short run through Riverside Park and experienced Iowa winter running.  My run started off very well and was very beautiful and peaceful on the trails through the park.  There weren't many people out as it was a pretty chilly day and the trails weren't cleaned off very well.  In some places, the snow was packed onto the trail making the trail very slick and in other places, the snow was covering up the packed ice below.  Because of these slick spots, I managed to fall twice and ended up with both knees and my right hip bruised.  OUCH!!

My recent falls made me apprehensive to run outside on Saturday for my long run.  I knew I was to run 2:15:00 or approximately 15 miles and was seriously considering completing this run on a treadmill at the gym.  UGH!!  I'm not a fan of the dreadmill!!  When I woke up on Saturday morning, I decided to wait til midday to see what the roads would be like since we had received a light dusting of snow on Friday and into the overnight hours.

At about 1:30 pm I donned my winter gear (the windchill was only 2 degrees Fahrenheit after all) and ventured out onto the winter Iowa roads.  This turned out to be a very good decision!!  I was able to run outside in fresh air I didn't slip and fall on any snow or ice and I didn't have to run on the dreadmill!!  YIPPEE!!  Successful all the way around!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

So This is What it Feels Like to be a Hamster

Due to the extremely cold weather (the high was -9 degrees Fahrenheit with windchill) in northwest Iowa, I opted to run inside today at the local YMCA.  The local YMCA is a great facility that has an indoor track.  I was surprised at the large number of people working out on Christmas makes me happy to see that many people focusing on their health!!

My goal: to run for 2:15:00.
Actual accomplishment:  1:26:00 for 10 miles

I called it quits because my feet were blistered (when you run in a relatively tight circle for so long, it is bound to happen), my arm pit was chaffed and the YMCA was going to be closing soon since it was Christmas Eve.

This was a day of mental fortitude.  Counting laps gave me something to do, but I'm pretty sure I ran more than the 110 laps I counted. read correctly...110 laps...running in a circle...just like a hamster on a wheel.  I think hamsters are mindless animals that have no real thought while they run in a circle on their wheel.  This is where the similarity between us ends.  I could not stop thinking about why I was pushing through on this run and what I would gain from it.  The ability to push your mind will keep your body going...even in the most difficult times!!  Mental toughness...I own you!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding the Balance

There are many things in life that need balance...
       *Balancing home and work
       *Balancing friends and family
       *Balancing physical activity and mental well-being
       *Balancing nutrition and physical activity
       *Balancing triathlon training, strength training and stretching

I have recently tried yoga and have found the following benefits:
       *Mental Relaxation
       *Core Strengthening
       *Detoxification and Cleansing

These benefits are bound to help me see major improvements in my everyday life as well as my triathlon and marathon training.  I definitely want to incorporate more yoga into my weekly workout routine.  I am excited to try a variety of new yoga classes and figure out those that work for me to incorporate into my weekly workout routine.  Unfortunately, this will have to wait until after the holidays since we are gone for a few days for Christmas and the local yoga studio is closed more days than they are open over winter break.

My experience with hot yoga was one I haven't ever had before.  It allowed me to become more flexible throughout the session and the amount of sweat I shed was very cleansing!!  I have also found that regular yoga has allowed me to adequately stretch after a tough workout.  I am anxious to try the yoga for athletes class to see how that helps me as a marathon runner and Ironman triathlete!!  Bring on 2013 and finding the balance in life!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Undoing" 35+ years of Swimming

Sometimes I think it might be easier to be a completely new who has never swam before.  I am a swimmer who breathes on my right side only and have done so for 35+ years.  I am currently trying to "undo" those 35+ years worth of swimming to be able to swim with bilateral breathing, while also trying to be more efficient and faster in the water.  I have been swimming since I was VERY young and have thus developed a relatively fluid swim stroke that only allows me to breathe on my right side and is not as energy efficient as I would like.

You might ask, why does breathing only on my right side pose a problem?  Well...when swimming in an open water swim event (whether it is just an open water swim or a triathlon) it is much more beneficial to swim bilaterally.  Bilateral swimming allows for a straighter swim and better sighting when trying to keep yourself on the swim course.  It also provides you with the ability to breathe if the waters get choppy.  If I only breathe on my right side and the water is choppy, I may have difficulty getting a deep enough breath without inhaling the water that may be continuously pelting me in the face.  It also allows me to breathe if I have a swimmer next to me who is constantly making contact with me with their swim stroke.  I can then choose to breathe on the other side and avoid getting hit in the face and potentially losing my goggles.

I have been trying to work on bilateral breathing off and on for a while now, but it wasn't until recently that I decided I am REALLY going to focus on this and try to make it stick.  For whatever reason, breathing on my left side is NOT as easy and smooth as breathing on my right side.  While breathing on my left side, I struggle with body positioning, rotation, windmilling of the arms while breathing and hand/arm placement in the water (trying to avoid the crossover).  While knowing how much easier and better it feels to breathe only on the right side, I am determined to conquer bilateral breathing and become a much more efficient swimmer!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Out of my own way!!

Well, I have officially been back on the workout wagon for just over one week and I feel great!!  I have lost 2 pounds (with only 30 more to go to get back to race weight) and am excited about my progress (no matter how is still progress)!!

I have not missed one workout this week and have completed the following:
Monday:  1:10:00 on the bike and TRX
Tuesday:  1:00:00 strength and core work and 58:40 run
Wednesday:  1:12:00 on the bike and 1:00:00 in the pool swimming
Thursday:  43:44 run and 30:00 strength and core work
Friday:  1:15:00 on the bike
Saturday:  1:30:02 running and 40:00 strength and core work
Sunday:  30:00 in the pool swimming and 1:30 on the bike

During this last week of exercise, I have decided I am in control of my own destiny.  I have the control to say...I am going to get up and go exercise...I am going to go run despite feeling like hanging out with friends or family...I am going to go to the gym, even though I want to sleep in...I am going to cook healthy even though it is easier to go out for dinner...I am going to stop getting in my own way...

Week one back on the workout wagon and I didn't get in my own on to week two :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Adjusting and Resetting Goals

Originally I wanted to participate in Ironman Wisconsin 2013.  Due to a few changes and adjustments on the homefront, I have had to adjust and reset my race goals for the coming year.  My race schedule for 2013/2014 is as follows:

January 1, 2013:  28th Annual Resolution Run
March 3, 2013:  Little Rock Marathon
April 27, 2013:  Drake 1/2 Marathon
June 9, 2013:  Ironman Kansas 70.3 (1/2 Ironman)
July 2013:  Okoboji Triathlon
July 2013:  RAGBRAI
October 2013:  Twin Cities Marathon

One 1/2 Ironman distance event
September 2014:  Ironman Wisconsin

I have already registered for the 28th Annual Resolution Run, Little Rock Marathon and Ironman Kansas 70.3.  I am VERY excited that I have races on my calendar and the following goals for some of these races:

Little Rock Marathon...4 hour marathon (A sub 4 would be nice, but since I'm just getting back into it, I'm hoping for the 4 hour mark.)
Drake 1/2 Marathon...sub 1:44:00...this would be a PR for me at the 1/2 marathon distance
Ironman Kansas 70.3...I would LOVE to break 6 hours at this event
Twin Cities Marathon...sub 4 hour marathon

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's My Excuse????

I can give you a long list of excuses for why I haven't been exercising the way I should be and the way I want to be:
                I didn't sleep well
                It's too early to work out
                It's too late to work out
                I feel bad leaving the puppy in her kennel all day and then while I'm working out too
                I have to clean the house
                I have dishes to do
                I have laundry to fold
                I have to make dinner
                I was asked to go to dinner with friends
                I'm tired
                I want to spend time with family and friends
                I have a lot of work to do
                I have parent teacher conferences
The truth is:
                I've been LACKING MOTIVATION!!
                I've been LAZY!!

There are no more excuses!!  In order for me to get back into a regular workout routine, I have established the following schedule that I am going to keep:
                Monday:  5:30 am group ride
                Tuesday:  4:30 am strength training and 5:30 pm group run
                Wednesday:  5:00 am swim and 4:30 pm basement ride
                Thursday:  4:30 am strength training and 4:00 pm run
                Friday:  5:00 am swim and 4:30 pm group ride
                Saturday:  morning run followed by a strength workout
                Sunday:  Basement ride

Thanks to some friends and upcoming races I am registering for this coming week, I am starting TODAY!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who took my wagon?

It has been quite a while since my last post.  What has been happening you may ask...Not much in the area of exercise.  My exercise wagon got hijacked, but I think I may have found it.

I have come to some realizations while my wagon was MIA.
1.  I have gained 34 pounds since Ironman Wisconsin 2011 and this is not acceptable.
2.  I have let myself get so out of shape that it is a struggle to start back up...this is also not acceptable.  I am not happy with myself in who I have let myself become.
3.  I have goals, but little motivation to start working toward achieving those goals.  What ultimately motivates me?  Paying for and signing up for races that CHALLENGE me!!  Going out and doing a 5K or a 10K race is not a challenge for me.  Yes I could say that I want to get faster at these distances, but that is not a challenging enough goal for me to get out of bed or off the couch and get to work.  I NEED something BIG!!

So...What races have I signed up for to start pushing myself and get back the person I so want and need to be?  You'll have to check this out in my next post...coming yet this month...

Friday, August 17, 2012


Unfortunately my training has been derailed lately due to bronchitis.  I have tried cycling and strength training with bronchitis, but neither of which were very successful.  I became very winded and light headed during both workouts.  I haven't given up hope and will be running tomorrow morning.  As long as my lungs hold up, I should be good.  Only time will tell :)

I am hoping to get a couple more good weeks of training in before I have to taper for Ironman 70.3 Branson.  With only 5 weeks to race weekend, I have 3 more weeks of solid training left.  Now if I can just get the body back in order so that I can successfully complete my last big race of 2012!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Eat to Train vs. Train to Eat

Many people train so that they can eat whatever they want.  This sounds like a great way to justify unnecessary calories... "I just burned 3600 calories during that 5 hour bike ride...bring on the Swiss Cake Rolls dipped in Nutella with whole milk to wash it down!!"  (And yes...I have witnessed this exact indulgence after a day of cycling on RAGBRAI!!)

Just for the record...donuts are NOT something I would ever choose to eat...YUCK!!

Your body is a machine and like most machines, it requires proper fueling.  If you put dirt in the gas tank of your car, you probably aren't going to get very far.  Likewise...if you put junk into your body, you aren't going to feel good and your training/racing efforts will not be at their peak.

I've decided that for Ironman 2013, I will EAT TO TRAIN (a phrase I first heard coined by Bob Seebohar)!!  I will be limiting my intake of refined sugars and processed foods.  When I get home from a tough/long workout my body's immediate response is to refuel.  I want to make sure I'm properly refueling my machine for peak performance during training and racing.  By preparing meals/snacks from fresh foods before I leave for my workout, I won't be tempted to go out to dinner, indulge in unhealthy calories or eat more calories than are necessary when I return from my workout.

I will also be cutting alcohol from my diet for the entire year before Ironman 2013.  For me, this means that from September 9, 2012 through September 8, 2013 (race day) I will not be consuming alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol has many adverse affects on the human body.  During training and racing, these adverse effects are not worth the few pleasures that come with alcohol consumption.  I will have one year of alcohol abstinence to help promote good overall health, favorable training sessions and peak racing performance.

Properly fuel your machine...Let's EAT TO TRAIN and feel like a CHAMPION!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


On Wednesday, we rode part of the RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) route.  We donned our bikes at 5:40 am in Ames and rode north to Story City where we picked up the official RAGBRAI route.  At the start of the day, the temperatures weren't too bad...yet.  We refilled our water bottles in Story City and then set off for the 6 mile ride to Roland.  In Roland we stopped for some breakfast.  I had a very yummy breakfast burrito in the air conditioned community center.  We filled up our water bottles and road the 6 miles to McCallsburg.  We decided not to stop in McCallsburg as it was only about 5 more miles to Zearing.  We did stop in Zearing and refilled our water bottles before cycling the next 8 miles to St. Anthony.  We did have some tough headwinds during this stretch, but we pushed on.  We did not stop in St. Anthony, but pushed on for about 3 miles to Clemons.  We did stop in Clemons to refill our water bottles as the last stretch would be 16.5 miles.  The temperatures were increasing, so we were trying to get into our final destination, Marshalltown, before noon.  We did stop along the way to Marshalltown to get a frozen snickers and a free icy at a local vendor.  We also stopped at Beekman's Ice Cream for those who can tolerate lactose to enjoy a tasty treat and enjoy the breeze in the shade.  We then finished our trek into Marshalltown with some rolling hills and some windy stretches, but overall had a great ride with great friends!!

Great friends after a great day of cycling in Iowa!!

Harassing the hubby while he loaded the bikes in Marshalltown.

Total Distance: 71 miles
Ambient Air Temperature: 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Heat Index Temperature: 108 degrees Fahrenheit
Winds: South/South West 13-18 mph

Friday, July 27, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

Sunday, July 22 I completed my 4th 1/2 Ironman Distance event at the Chisago Lakes triathlon...1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  Each race is filled with new experiences and challenges...this race was no exception!!

I woke up mentally focused and ready to have a great race and have fun!!  I had my race bag already loaded and decided to put air in my tires before leaving the hotel.  The rear tire inflated like a champ, but the front tire was not cooperating...obstacle #1.  I decided to hold off on doing anything more with it until I got down to the race site hoping there would be bike support who would be more knowledgable regarding the Presta valve stems in my race wheels.

After loading up our gear and bikes, we headed down to the race site.  We had to park about a 1/4 mile from the race site location, so we wanted to make sure we had everything we needed for the day with us.  We got into transition, I set up my transition area and then took my bike to the bike support area.  The bike support crew said I would have to completely deflate my front wheel and then inflate it again to get the pressure up to about 105 pounds.  With only 2 hours before the race, this is not a good idea.  They did say that I had enough pressure in the tube and should have no problems with it on the bike leg during the race.  I then went to get my body marking before heading back into transition with my bike.  As I was returning to transition, I was stung by a wasp on my right ankle...obstacle #2.  OUCH!!!  Off to the med tent I went.  Med support asked if I was allergic...I have NO idea...I've never been stung by a wasp before. They cleaned it up and sent me on my way.  I have been stung by many mosquitoes and a bee a time or two, but the pain that comes with a wasp sting lingers for days!!

I had plenty of time before the start of the race, so I decided to take my bike for a spin to make sure everything was working properly and to know which gear I should be upon leaving transition after the swim.  My cadence sensor was not working on my computer...obstacle #3...back to bike support I went.  This time, they were unable to help me...Oh well...I've gone without cadence before and I'll do it again.  I put my bike back in transition and did one last check over my transition area before heading down to the swim start.  OH CRAP...I forgot the water for my bike bottle in the car...obstacle #4.  Easy husband and I were sipping on water bottles, so I used both of them to fill my water bottle on the bike.

I gathered up my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap and headed down to the beach.  After struggling with my wetsuit to get into it (the air temperature was too warm to be struggling to get into neoprene, but the water temperature was suitable for struggle continued), I conducted a prerace swim, which felt really good.  At this point, the nerves started to build...what is going on?!?!?!?  I haven't had nerves before a race in quite a while..."YOU ARE STRONG!!  YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT RACE!!  YOU WILL HAVE FUN!!"  I repeated this over and over to myself...mental fortitude and motivation!!

As the horn blew for our wave to enter the water, there were a lot of people around it is going to be that type of in the water...I can play this game!!  I felt like I swam really well despite a little trouble siting on the way back into the beach.  Overall my swim was strong and I finished the swim in 43:33.  Not my best, but I'll take it!!

When I got to my bike, I had a pretty fluid transition from the swim to the onto the open road!! cadence sensor is working...I don't have to go without cadence after all!!  I knew it was going to be a hot day and proper hydration and electrolyte intake would be key, so I immediately took my salt tablets...obstacle #5...stomach cramps.  UGH!!  I should have taken in some nutrition first and not taken my salt tablets on an empty stomach...I am NOT going to let this get me down!!  "YOU ARE STRONG!!  YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT RACE!!  YOU WILL HAVE FUN!!"  Once the stomach cramps hit, I started to drink more water to dilute those salt tablets in my stomach.  I would need this with the hot weather conditions we were experiencing.  As I approached mile 20 on the bike, I had nearly consumed all of my water and was looking forward to replenishing my water at the first water station just ahead...obstacle #6...they were out of water.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!  "YOU ARE STRONG!!  YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT RACE!!  YOU WILL HAVE FUN!!"  Problem solving mode...there were many water bottles that had been thrown on the side of the road with some water still in them...yes other athletes have drank off of them, but it is water and there is no way I can ride 36 more miles in this heat (did I mention it was a hot day...ambient air temperature was 92 degrees Fahrenheit and full sun) without water.  So I stopped on the side of the road and refilled my water bottle with a few of the partially full water bottles.  I kept moving forward and was having fun!!  I continued to drink my water since there would be another water stop at mile 32.  On the way to this second water station there were a couple of really fun descents, which also made for some rather challenging ascents...part of the fun of cycling are both the ups and downs :)  As I approached the second water station, I heard the volunteers stating that they were out of water...obstacle #7.  UNBELIEVABLE!!  I was nowhere near the back of the pack, so this was very poor planning on the part of the event director!!  I again stopped on the side of the road and refilled my water bottle using some of the water bottles that were partially full and had been thrown by previous athletes.  I was shocked to see that more people were not taking advantage of this and were completely passing by the water altogether.  "YOU ARE STRONG!!  YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT RACE!!  YOU WILL HAVE FUN!!"  I pushed on and got back to transition in 3:22:29, which I was pretty happy with.  

After a rather quick transition (2:07) I went out on the run.  I felt really strong off the bike and knew that I would do what it took to continue to have a great race.  At about mile 5 I started to feel the effects of chaffing...EVERYWHERE I had clothing...obstacle #8.  I was chaffing in places that one should NOT chaff!!  That burning sensation was rather uncomfortable, so I decided to try a run/walk method...the burning sensation was present whether I was running or walking, but with the heat and full sun, I decided to continue with this method.  I was feeling really good...other than the chaffing.  "YOU ARE STRONG!!  YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT RACE!!  YOU WILL HAVE FUN!!"

The clock time was from the start of the event.  I was in wave 4, so there was an 8 minute delay between the clock and my timing chip.

I came across the finish line in 6:32:44, which was a 3 minute personal record (PR)!!  I was VERY PROUD and HAPPY with my MENTAL TOUGHNESS and RACE EXECUTION for the day...the PR was just icing on the cake!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Child Within

This coming Sunday I will be competing in the Chisago Lakes 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon.  In preparing for this event, I have asked myself the following question:

"Why do I race?"  After all, I can swim, bike and run without having to actually race...don't I?!?!?!?!

The answer:
I grew up swimming in Lake Okoboji nearly every day (during the summer months of course...Iowa winters aren't really conducive to outdoor swimming) and LOVE the freedom swimming provides!!  There is a lot of time to be in one's own head when swimming, but this is when I can focus on my swim stroke, mental training and improving my swim times when I have speed work thrown in the workout.

I began riding a bicycle when I was a kid and though I ride much differently now than I did when I was younger, I still LOVE the feeling of the "open road" and the wind blowing in my face.  I love the opportunity to get to ride with other people and push myself to new levels.  I also enjoy those solitary moments when I get to visualize a race where I am on the top of my game and having the time of my life!!

I started running shortly after I learned to walk.  I have to admit that I haven't always been a long distance runner...this has developed as I have gotten older, and with age has come the realization of just how much I LOVE to run!!  I love the social aspect when I run with a group and at times I love the solitude and opportunity to be in my own head when I am on a solo run.

Triathlon encompasses all of the activities...swimming, cycling and running...all of which I learned to do as a child.  Activities I loved then and continue to love now.  Racing triathlon provides me with a reason to go out the door and train, an opportunity to combine the activities that I LOVE into one event and the opportunity to problem solve as each unique race provides me with new and different challenges.

So despite the challenges that the upcoming Chisago Lakes 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon will provide this Sunday, I am VERY EXCITED to get another opportunity to combine the activities that I LOVE into a RACE!!  I am racing for the child that I still have inside me!!

"Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked for her."

Mia Hamm

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Iowa Games Triathlon...Mental Preparation Needed!!

Last Sunday I participated in the Iowa Games Triathlon...triathlon #2 of the season.  The race went fairly well considering the inconsistent training I've had lately with our recent vacation.  I did not have much confidence in my physical training, mental training or race performance going into this race.  Due to my lack of mental preparation and physical training, I went into this race with zero nerves and zero motivation to push myself.  I think this lack of mental motivation and confidence in my training definitely negatively affected my race performance.

The swim started with a lot of people who did not seed themselves properly on the swim and as a result, it was the roughest swim I think I have ever swam.  There was a LOT of physical contact and I swam over many people who should have started out toward the back of the pack.  The water temperature was near 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which was WAY TOO WARM for swimming. 

After exiting the water I felt overheated due to the warm water temperatures, but I had a very smooth transition to the bike.  I consumed a lot of my water before even leaving the transition area and heading out on the three loop bike course.  Upon leaving the transition area, I noticed the battery on my bike computer had died and I would have to go with how I felt...I have definitely felt better.  I consumed all of my water before the end of the second loop on the bike...I definitely could have benefited from a water stop along the bike...good thing this was a short race!!  I started to feel my shorts chaffing in areas that should not chaff and mentally started to lose my focus...not that I had a whole lot to start with.  As the ride continued, I continued to lose focus and just wanted to get off the bike. 

The transition to the run went well, but shortly after starting the run, I ended up with side stitches on my left side and struggled with a severe case of "lack of confidence."  When I started the run I thought I could break 1:30:00 for my finish time...that didn't happen.  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:31:24.  If I would have been more motivated, confident and mentally prepared, I could have broken that 1:30:00 mark...

Mental I come!!

I have this book and will be utilizing it for my mental preparation!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Adventures in Yellowstone

After our adventures in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, we decided to stop off at Yellowstone National Park on our way back to Iowa.  We had never been to Yellowstone before and are very glad we went!!

We arrived in the park on Tuesday, got situated in our cabin at Mammoth Hot Springs (north entrance) and went to the local restaurant for a wonderful smoked trout spinach salad.  When leaving the restaurant, there were wild bison grazing and resting right next to the hotel.  It is amazing to see how tame these "wild" animals truly are!!

Our cabin in Mammoth Hot Springs

Bison sleeping next to the hotel
On Wednesday morning, we took a tour of the park.  We woke up at 4 am mountain time, ate some breakfast and drove to the south end of the park where Old Faithful was.  We wanted to see the "eruption" before the rest of the tourists started to infiltrate the area.  We arrived shortly before 6 am and must have just missed the previous "eruption," because there was water running away from the geyser location.  We walked around Old Faithful and toured Old Faithful Lodge (BEAUTIFUL architecture) waiting for the next eruption.  At about 7:46, Old Faithful "erupted" and we had some gorgeous views!!

The hubby and me at Old Faithful

After visiting Old Faithful, we took a hike to Morning Glory Pool and passed some beautiful views along the way.  Morning Glory Pool used to be a brilliant sapphire blue color.  Over the years, people have thrown pennies and trash into it blocking its vent causing the pool to change colors.

Flowing stream through Yellowstone
Morning Glory Pool

Once we finished our hike, we got back in the car and continued circling the park.  We stopped off at Lake Yellowstone next.  We put our hand in the lake to compare temperatures to that of Lake Coeur d'Alene...there is no comparison...Lake Yellowstone had to be around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit and Lake Coeur d'Alene was about 59 degrees on race morning.  Good thing that the swim was not in Lake Yellowstone!!

Lake Yellowstone
After visiting Lake Yellowstone, we got back in the car and drove to the Mud Volcanoes.  These were rather unique.  Instead of water bubbling up from the ground, there were pockets of mud bubbling up from the ground.  I've never seen anything like it!!

Mud Volcanoes
Next we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with spectacular views of the canyon and beautiful water falls.

We ended up stopping at Tower Falls on our way back to the cabin, but it was so crowded I didn't take any pictures.  It was great to get back to the cabin as we had been gone for nearly 10 hours and were exhausted from the sight seeing and tourists at all the stops we made.

On Thursday, we got up and ran about 4 miles around Mammoth Hot Springs.  It was just over 2 miles straight up the mountain and then came straight back down.  This was a challenge at nearly 7000 feet elevation!!  After our run, we decided to give the bikes a go...

The start of our climb back up the mountain

We rode down a gravel road 4 miles into Gardiner, MT with a descent of 1500 feet over that 4 mile trip.  The descent wasn't the problem...I knew we were going to have to climb back up to our cabin after eating lunch in town.  And climb we did...Oh boy was this tough!!  I have done Ironman, but this 4 mile climb seemed to be much more challenging...maybe it was because it was a steep climb (1500 feet over 4 miles)...maybe it was because it was on gravel...or maybe it was because it was at almost 7000 feet elevation!!  Somewhere in the first 2 miles I wiped out on my bike when my back tire got caught on some loose gravel and went out from under me.  Nothing major, but I do have a scraped up leg and a bruise the size and shape of my saddle on my inner thigh :)

Right after my wipe out...looks much worse now.
At about the halfway point, I stopped to take a picture looking back down to the road and stream from where we is a long way down. You need to really zoom in to see the road and stream...I knew I wouldn't be able to get a view from the top of the mountain down since Mammoth Hot Springs and our cabin are on the opposite side of the mountain. 

At about mile 2 of the climb looking back down to the road and stream where we started from.
There were a lot of switch backs and curves to get us to the top of the mountain, but with a few stops here and there (mostly to catch our breath and let the heart rate come back down), we finally made it to the top!!  Who's idea was that ride anyway?!?!?!?!?  What a trip...both the bike ride and Yellowstone itself!!  We had a great trip with lots of new adventures!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

And the winner is...

Our Ironman Coeur d’Alene day started with a 3:30 am alarm clock.  Good thing we were used to central time (as it was 5:30 am CST)…it made getting up much easier!!  After a quick shower and breakfast, we headed out the door with two athletes that were staying at our Idahome B&B with us, Jeannete and Sonia.  We were giving them a ride down to the start of the race.  The four of us loaded the car and were ready to head off.  Before we left, we decided to go through a checklist to make sure both athletes had everything they would need for the day…timing chip…check…race nutrition for the bike…check…race nutrition for the run…check…wetsuit…OMG…Sonia did not have her wetsuit!!  Goggles…check…swim cap…check.  Good thing we went through the checklist!!

After we dropped off both athletes, we found a place to park, loaded ourselves up with everything we would need for the day, donned our bike helmets and bikes and headed off to Lake Coeur d’Alene to the transition area.  I checked into the women’s change tent and then went to find our Zoom Performance teammate, Christine, who was competing in her first Ironman. 

We all headed toward the water’s edge for the swim start.  It was a lot of fun to see the professionals start their day at 6:25 am for their first loop of the swim course.  Starting 35 minutes before the age group athletes would allow most of them to start their 2nd lap before the age groupers would enter the water for their first loop.  At 6:59 am the gun went off and all of the age group athletes began their game of rugby in the water.  That is my analogy for the swim start of an Ironman competition since there is a lot of hitting, kicking and rough waters as you try to get your space in the water.  There were 2600 participants all entering the water at the same time…it was so AWESOME to see!!

An Ironman consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running.  The age group athletes begin their day at 6:59 am and they have until 9:20 to swim the 2.4 miles or they can’t continue.  They have until 5:30 pm to bike the 112 miles or they can’t proceed, and they have until midnight to run 26.2 miles or they don’t get an official finish time, medal, finisher’s shirt, etc.  There are a few other checkpoints along the bike and run courses, but these vary depending on the race.

After watching the swim for a couple of minutes, I headed off to the transition area where I began my volunteer shift in the women’s change tent.  I have volunteered in the women’s change tent at Ironman Wisconsin, so I knew what I was getting into…so I thought…

First the professional women started to come through, followed by the women age groupers.  At about 8:15 am, the chaos I was used to began…lots of women all coming into transition to change at the same time and not enough volunteers to help…this was nothing unusual…you just help as many athletes at once as you can and know that you have done the best that you can.  The part that I wasn’t anticipating was how cold the women would be after getting out of the water.  Those water temps were 59 degrees…the women were shaking uncontrollably, had little dexterity in their hands and were FREEZING!!  When Christine came into T1 (the transition from the swim to the bike), she yelled my name very loudly so I could go help her do a complete change before sending her out on the bike.  I was so excited to get the opportunity to help my teammate!!

When I was trained in Wisconsin to volunteer in the women’s change tent, we were trained to do the following:
1.    Be very excited for EVERY athlete coming into transition.
2.    Ask the athletes if you can carry their bag and help them change.
3.    Ask the athletes if you can dump their bag and then put all of their gear from the previous leg (in this case the swim) into their transition bag.
4.    Help the athlete change and get them out the door as soon as possible (when the women come out of the water and are wet, it is VERY DIFFICULT for them to get their sports bra and tops on, so they often need help with this).
5.    Think for the athlete, as they are often times too delirious and overwhelmed to think for themselves.

We were not trained to do any of this in the women’s change tent by our volunteer captain at IM CDA.  As a result, many of the volunteers sat around waiting for the athletes to ask for help instead of being excited, proactive and offering to help the athletes.  I was very disappointed in the volunteers in the women’s change tent at IM CDA. 

After T1, I went out on the bike course to spectate.  It was fun to see the athletes come through the first loop on the bike course and begin their second loop.  There was one athlete who got a flat tire near us on the bike and had NO idea what he was doing to change it.  Thanks to Coach Julie, I have had lots of practice changing flat tires (even if they weren’t really flat) and was able to help him.  After the staple was removed from the tire and the tube was replaced and inflated, I asked him if he had another tube and CO2 cartridge in his bike special needs bag that he could take with him just incase it happened again…he did not, so I took my spare bike tube and CO2 cartridge out of my bike bag and put it in his bike bag before sending him on his way. 

After seeing Christine go by on the bike, we relocated to a spot down the road where we could see her again before she headed back out of town for her second loop on the bike.  

As she left town, I went back into transition to the women’s change tent to help the women in T2 (the transition from the bike to the run).  I was able to help a few women that I had helped earlier in the day (coming out of the water) as well as women I didn’t get the opportunity to previously help.  I helped a deaf women change…that was a challenge since she was signing to me and I couldn’t understand sign language, so we mostly communicated through lip reading.  I also had a woman come through transition with a ripped bib number (all athletes need their bib number when crossing the finish line), so I bit a hole in her sweaty, ripped bib number to create a hole to thread her race belt through…yes I know…someone else’s sweaty bib in my mouth…these are the things you do for your fellow athletes to help them become an Ironman!!

Eventually Jeannete came into T2 and I helped get her changed and out the door…she looked GREAT and was in GREAT spirits!!  With about 30 minutes left on the bike before the time cutoff, Christine came into T2.  I was so excited to see her!!  I again helped her change and sent her out on the run.  She also looked GREAT and was in GREAT spirits!!  I was so happy both my girls were feeling so well!!

I quickly gathered up my things and left transition to go cheer Christine on out on the run course.  I spent much of my time in more desolate areas where there were few spectators and I was able to cheer on a lot of athletes at some of their lowest points.  Many of the athletes were thankful that I was out there cheering for them, some athletes were completely out of it and didn’t acknowledge me, while others were just pushing through to finish and go to the med tent. 

At 11:23 pm, Christine crossed the finish line and became and Ironman for the first time!!  I was so happy to get to support her (and all of the other participants) in any way that I could to become an Ironman!!  Congratulations to all of you…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!

After getting back to the B&B just before 1 am (it was a 22 hour day for us…boy was I EXHAUSTED), I decided which Ironman event I am going to participate in…Ironman Wisconsin in 2013.  I love the volunteers, course, atmosphere and water temps at IMWI!!  It is time to slay the dragon!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ironman CDA bike course

Friday we decided to ride one loop of the Ironman Coeur d'Alene's bike course (56 miles).  We were scheduled to ride the route on Saturday, but due to the impending storms on Saturday, we decided to ride on Friday so we didn't miss the opportunity to see what the course was like.

The bike course starts from City Beach and heads out to the southeast along a beautiful lake shore road (the same roads as the run course).  There are a few hill climbs and amazing views of Lake Coeur d'Alene before turning around and heading back toward City Beach. 

Once back at City Beach, the bike route leaves town to the southwest on a major highway (for those that are familiar with the Ames area, it is VERY similar to Hwy 30) where the speed limit is 65 mph.  There is a nice wide bike lane along this highway and vehicles are very respectful of the bicycles.  At the start of this leg of the bike course, there is a 2 mile climb that is at a 6% grade.  I was very intimidated by this climb at first, but it turned out to be much easier than I anticipated.  I must be getting stronger on the bike!!  :)

About 5 miles out of town, the road became VERY BORING.  There was a slight incline the whole way out to the turnaround and a 15 mph headwind, but there were no twists and turns, up and downs, or things to keep you focused on your task at hand.  The landscape became very similar to the Midwest and I didn't feel as though I was in North Idaho anymore.  At one point I must have "fallen asleep behind the handlebars" since I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and double shifted causing my chain to drop on a climb...Oh well...this forced me to refocus my attention on the task at hand :)

This is the view out of town...looks like Iowa.

We knew the turn around for the bike course was just past Setters Road, but we weren't sure of its exact location.  We kept looking for markings on the road (the course was VERY well marked up to this point with bright orange tape), but we didn't see any sign of the turnaround.  When we were close to 40 miles, according to the bike computer, we decided to turn around knowing it was about 20 miles back into town.  We weren't sure how we had missed the turnaround, but a few miles down the road it became quite obvious how it was missed...the turnaround was in the northbound lane!!  UGH...we ended up with a 61 mile ride instead of the planned 56 mile ride...Oh was another great adventure!!

The return trip went pretty quickly as we had the wind at our backs and it was a gentle downhill for the most part.  When we were about 2 miles from town, we had that long 2 mile descent at the 6% grade that we had climbed earlier when we left town.  I love going fast!!  What a fun part of the course!!

All in all, it was a successful 61 mile ride, even if more than 30 miles of it were REALLY BORING.  We were so hungry when we were done, we showered, changed and went to Bonsai Bistro for some wine, soup and AMAZING sushi!!  There is nothing better than fabulous food after a great workout!!
Wine and Soup...YUM!!
Sushi...even better than the wine and soup!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Ironman Battle


While on our trip, I have been doing a lot of thinking about which race would be the best for me to participate in for the 2013 year.  There are many factors that I have been thinking about:

1.  Time of year:  IM CDA would require me to have the bulk of my training at the end of the school year when chaos and stress are at a maximum...IM WI would be toward the start of my school year and the bulk of my training would be complete before the school year starts.

2.  Financial aspect:  IM CDA would require more money for travel than IM WI.  If we drive to CDA, it is at least a 2 day drive each way with gas, lodging and food along the way and in CDA.  If we fly to CDA, there is the expense of flying, lodging, transporting my bike to the race site and food.  Driving to Madison is a 4 hour drive one way which would require less gas, lodging and food.  Since I am not made of money, doing two in one year is out of the question.

3.  Do I want a second chance at IM WI:  In 2011 I finished IM WI, yes, but I wasn't really happy with my performance.  I know I could have had a better performance if I had done a better job of controlling my nutrition...Do I want to Slay the Dragon at WI???

4.  Experience something new:  Do I want the opportunity to experience IM in a new location (CDA) or on familiar territory (WI)?  I love the scenery in both locations!! 

I have less than 48 hours to make my final decision since IM CDA is tomorrow and registration for IM CDA is the following morning EARLY...hmmmm...what to do...What would you do?

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Wonderful Day in Coeur d'Alene

Today was a beautiful day in CDA (Coeur d'Alene)!!  We woke up at 5 am (7 am Iowa time) ate a quick breakfast and went down to the Ironman CDA race site so we could run one loop of the IM CDA run course (13.1 miles).  What a perfect morning!!  The run course has a couple bumps in the road, but nothing overly taxing.  It starts at city park and goes through some neighborhoods before utilizing the bike path along the lake shore. 

The bike path along Lake Coeur d'Alene with the Interstate overlooking it all.

After our long run, we returned to our B&B where our hosts made wonderful homemade omelets full of fresh veggies with a side plate of fresh fruit and cheese.  It was VERY TASTY!!

We decided to spend the rest of our day back in CDA.  We started with lunch at Beverly's, where we enjoyed a spectacular view and wonderful seafood.  I had the "King Salmon" and the hubby had the "Tuna"...both were very fresh and tasty. 

View from Beverly's overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene
King Salmon


After lunch, we met Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, in the lobby.  He is the announcer at Ironman Wisconsin (and MANY other Ironman events around the world)...the one who called out our names and said, "You are an Ironman" when we crossed the finish line.  We had a brief conversation with Mike and got our picture taken with him.  He is a great guy with a fun sense of humor ;)

We then went down to the Ironman Village, where we got sucked into the AWESOME atmosphere of Ironman!!  We met many athletes, volunteers, spectators and vendors.  Since it was a rather warm day, we decided to purchase a "Green Smoothie" made from organic kale, organic blueberries, organic lemon juice and a dollop of local honey.  Yes we were intrigued by the wonderful fresh, organic, local fruits and veggies that made up the smoothie, but I was even more intrigued by the mechanism for which they generated energy to the guessed it...a man pedaling a bicycle!!

After Ironman Village, we stopped off for a beer at Splash, drove the bike course (which makes me even more excited to ride it in the next couple of days) and had dinner with some FABULOUS friends and teammates...Martha and Christine. 

We couldn't have asked for a more WONDERFUL day!! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"High" and "Up" mean something!!

Yesterday we decided to ride our bikes from Post Falls, ID to Coeur d'Alene, ID (what should be a 7 mile trip).  The hosts at our B&B told us to take the Continental Trail along the river into town, but we decided to try an alternate route...hmmmm...maybe we should have listened to our hosts!!

We started out on Riverview Drive, which had a few gentle climbs, but nothing overly taxing.  When we stopped along the road to take a look at our map, it was decided that we would turn off on "Highland Drive."  As we climbed up some pretty steep slopes, I quickly figured out how it got its name.  We just kept getting higher and higher with every pedal stroke!!  Eventually we turned off onto "Upriver Drive." We continued to climb some very steep slopes...up, up, up we went.  This 7 mile bike ride quickly turned into 12 miles as we climbed up over the hill.

This is the GORGEOUS view from the top (zoomed in of course, so you can see the road below...far right...that we were supposed to be on)!!  If we would have taking the straight and flat path, we wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to see such AMAZING views!!  Sometimes it pays off to take the "road less traveled," but I also learned that if roads have the word "High" or "Up" in may want to avoid them :)

Since we climbed all the way to the top of the hill, we got to descend the other side.  I love the descent...the wind in your face, the challenge behind you (in this case) and speeds that easily exceed 30 mph without even pedaling :)

Once we arrived in Coeur d'Alene, we went downtown and decided to get a "cold one" at Moose Lounge.  It felt really good to sit and relax on the outdoor patio.  There were many people out and about to converse with (Ironmen, spectators and locals) and we ran into some of our team mates since we had our Zoom gear on it was easy for them to spot us :)

After going to the local farmers market, we decided to venture back to Post Falls via the Continental Trail that was previously suggested to us.  There were few terrain changes and this avenue provided us with a different view of the river and the city.  All in was a very successful day!!