So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Duathlon FAIL

So, that duathlon did not go so well at all.
In fact, I did not finish.
They call such a situation, "DNF" for "did not finish".

You can DNF in a race for a number of reasons - in my case, it was medical.

Everything started off fine.
I felt pretty good at the start, had a nice warm up and I was definitely in the mood to race.

The gun went off and I flew.
I wore my Garmin but I did not look at it.  Maybe I should have, turns out, my first Mile was 5:46.  I cannot believe I made such a rookie 5K mistake by going out too fast.  On the other hard, I felt really good and it was the easiest 5:46 mile I ever ran.  Mile 2 was at normal pace, 5:58.
Mile 3 is where stuff went wrong.
The mile was uphill and it was hard.  And it didn't feel good.

"Just get to the transition area," I told myself.  A few woman passed me: I went from being in 3rd place to being in 5th place.  My transition was long because I had to regain composure.
"You have the entire bike ride to recover," I told myself.

The problem was I did not recover on the bike.

It was very warm when the race started at 8:45am.  The sun was blazing.
I was thirsty and I drank my entire water bottle within the first few miles of the bike ride.  The course was hillier than I expected and I was just SO THIRSTY.  A few times, I tried to drink water from my water bottle even though I knew it was empty.  I kept thinking, "Maybe there is one last drop!"
I wanted water so badly....a drop sounded heavenly!

There was not a single water station on the bike course.  I began fascinating about water.  I couldn't stop thinking about.

I was passed 5-6 times (or maybe even more, I didn't count) on the bike...everyone had really fancy tri bikes.  I was expecting good cyclists to pass me.
I was also expecting to put up more of a fight, but I was just too thirsty and miserable.

I managed to average 20.1 mph (according to my bike computer) and I was actually OK with that.

Since I was still in the front of the pack at the end of the bike, the transition was empty.  Without the bikes, and coming in from the opposite direction, I felt discombobulated and could not find where to rack my bike.
I ran up and down each isle, feeling lost and confused.
I bet I had the longest 2nd transition.
But hey, at least I put on my shoes on fast!!  They slid right on.

I gulped the water I had stashed on transition but it did nothing for me.  Once you become dehydrated, it's too late to fix it.
I run out and easily pass 2 people.

My legs felt heavy - but that is expected.  That is OK.
However, I could no longer hear out of my right ear.  It was as if it was clogged with water - or, like when you are descending in an air plane.
I stopped and shook my head furiously.
I tilted my head and banged my ear - in the pool, that tends to work.
I opened my jaws wide, as if I was yawning - in the plane, that tends to work.

But my ear remained clogged so I kept running.
Eventually, things started to spin and I started to cry.

I didn't know what to do but someone made the decision for me by calling attention to the cops, who notified the paramedics.  Once the paramedics are notified, you cannot continue the race until you are checked out.

They gave me a lot of water, took my vitals and offered to take me to the hospital for an IV.  I declined, and signed a paper saying that I was responsible for myself - even my own death.
I knew I was not going to die.

Anyway, so that was that - it was an embarrassing and humbling experience to not finish a race.

I do ask myself - if I did things differently, would I have been OK?

For example, I drank plenty of water the night before but NO water in the morning.  What if I stocked my body with water and electrolytes?
What if I had a 2nd water bottle on my bike?
What if I wore a hat?
What if I did not have that glass of wine the night before?
What if I did not start that 5K so fast?
David snapped this photo of me on the live steaming:

Maybe I should have started in the second row and let the others pace me?
I knew that a lot of the girls were better cyclists, so I wanted to take advantage of the run.
I had a 5:49 mile in my last 5K - not that much faster - and I ran 7 additional miles after that race (in the same heat) and felt great.

So perhaps I was just destined for a bad day - which was exasperated by the lack of water and fast start.

I am okay with not finishing the race.
I am not proud - but I'm chalking it up to a learning experience.

I am upset, however, that I lost my camera.
I think I left it at the transition area.  I am not shocked - I was so out of it that I would have left my head if it was not attached to me.  But it was a new camera, and had pictures on it that I was excited to share with you guys.

I am still recovering - I have yet to muster up the energy to get dressed, even though it was now Sunday evening.  I am really really really hoping that despite a cough and scratchy throat, I am not sick.

Hayden is not feeling well either....
you may not notice it when glancing at this picture:

But if you take a closer look, you can see that he has snot dripping into his mouth:

It is awesome how someone can be so happy even when his nose is force-feeding him mucous.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Putting on the Shoes

Ever since Brenna could walk, she has been interested in her shoes.
I totally understand, who does not loves shoes?

Every day, she demands to select her own shoes. We keep the shoes on top of the play kitchen (I have no idea why). She pulls up a small chair when she wants to wear shoes. It does not matter if we not going anywhere.

It also does not matter if she is not dressed.

And nor does it matter if they are practical.

Putting on shoes is not an easy feat for a 2-year old (pun intended). She has the best luck with sandals, especially Hayden's since they are too large. Unfortunately, this means her shoes rarely match her outfit. We tried to compensate for this by painting her nails.  These feet look cute in any shoes!

And I may have gotten carried away and painted some extra feet:

With determination, she tries every day.
And although there are still some struggles,

she does eventually get it.

This made me realize that I also need to practice putting on my shoes.
If I only practice this at races, its going to take years to master the transition area.

The other day, as we were getting ready to leave my mother's house, Brenna had trouble sliding her foot in her shoe and my mother suggested a solution to her that perked my eavesdropping ears: baby powder.

If baby powder helps Brenna slide her foot into a shoe, maybe it can help me slide my foot shoe.

So my final duathlon workout focused on shoes. I set up a transition area by my front door, with my bike and running shoes laid out. And then I smothered them in baby powder.
It worked like a charm!  My foot slid and out of each shoe effortlessly.
 Here was the workout:
* 20 min bike ride to warm up. Practiced loosening my shoes while still on the bike.
* slipped off bike shoes, slipped on running shoes
* 800 (2:41 - which is a 5:25 pace, I must have been in a rush!) + .15 sprint
* slipped off running shoes, slipped on bike shoes
* 12 min bike ride. Again, practiced loosening my shoes while still on the bike.
* 1200 (4:15) + .15 sprint
* slipped off running shoes, slipped on bike shoes
* 12 min on bike. Again, practiced loosening my shoes while still on the bike.
* 800 (2:52) + .15 sprint
* slipped off running shoes, slipped on bike shoes
* slipped off bike shoes, slipped on running shoes, slipped off bike shoes, slipped on running shoes, slipped off bike shoes, slipped on running shoes...... etc etc.


Duh, right?

This single workout isn't going to be enough to result in a perfect transition, but I do think I will be able to get my foot in my shoe this time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Splash and Dash Race Report

I did this race for some open-water swimming practice.
And, in general, swimming practice since I failed to make it the pool.  (Actually, I did make it the pool once but had issues with my goggles so ended up in the hot tub instead).

I've done these before, as chronicled here and here.  The number of times that I choose to swim in that nasty lake astounds me.  Usually, I tag with friends to these little races.  But not this time - I drove myself to this race and did it because I knew it was good for me.
I spend a lot of reminding little people that sometimes we have to do things we simply don't want to do.
Like wait in restaurants for our food:

Or wash our hair:

Or take a nap, eat our vegetables, blow our nose or put our feet in separate pajamas legs:

I guess I ingrained that advice in my own head because I bailed on my running friends and took myself to the lake.

Even when you go to a race alone though, you are never alone once you arrive. The first person I saw was Brian. We've been running together for 8 years.

We hung out a lot more before I had kids and he decided to an Ironman. Back then, it was about Burning Man!

Since my goggles have a leak, I borrowed a pair from Shelly.
She said she put in "anti-fog drops." I had no idea these existed! I just assumed that everyone had foggy glasses.
I can't say that I had fun during the swim, but it was nice to have vision.

It was still hard to spot the green buoys when going into the sun though. At one point, I had to stop and look around. I am so glad that I did though because I needed to do a major re-adjustment in order to swim in directly towards the buoy.
I am not sure if Brian's goggles were foggy, but not only did he swim past a buoy, he swam past the finish.

1000 meters took 19:47.

When you get out of the lake, you run over a timing mat. That mat separates the swim time and run time.
Then you run up a grass hill to your transition area. You peel off your wetsuit and put on your running shoes.
Everything was fine until I got to my shoes - they would not go on!
Basically, I had the same problem as I did with my bike shoes last weekend.
Wide foot + orthotic + no sock + wetness = major frustration.
Eventually, I got my shoes on - it just took 3 minutes.

I started to run.
Even though I did a slow mile before the race, I did not feel warmed up.
Mile 1 was 6:09.
But then I found my groove.  The leaders had reached the turn-around and were running back.
I recognized the first two as professionals. I was not going to catch them.
The next two though were within my reach. I passed them both - and then Lewis Elliot passed me.
I chase everyone, even professional males.
Mile 2 was 5:49.
I started to get tired after that but I occasionally looked down at my Garmin and saw a sub-6 pace. That legitimized my fatigue, which made it easier to push through.
Mile 3 was 5:57.
After a short sprint to the finish at 5:37 pace, I wound up with a major PR.

The problem here is that the documented time provided by timing-chip includes the entire transition period.
It begs the question, Is it a real PR if it's not officially recorded?
I am going to go with yes because my Garmin says so.

The distance is .04 short because I lost signal under the freeway passes. But you see the average pace.
And then I went on to run an additional 7 miles with the extraordinary Janie and got some duathlon tips from Matthew Russell.

I am so excited that next week I won't have to get wet!  I feel like I paid my dues by swimming this weekend and so now I can not swim for the rest of the week.  Yay!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Last Duathlon Training Session

It's been record highs here, but it seems to be that way every year.
The kids are adjusting.  You know its a hot, sunny day when they seek refuge at the park in a tunnel:  

I have started to transition to morning workouts. The nice thing about Arizona is that we still have plenty of beautiful mornings left.

The kids seemed happy to receive their breakfast plate in the stroller. I was worried that they would resist breaking their winter routine of watching Micky Mouse while they crunched on their cereal, but I have them well-trained: they were scrambling into the stroller before I could even get the words, "Who wants to go running?" out of my mouth.

 Their jogging stroller meal has been pretty standard for a long time. It is always: a bunch of strawberries, a bagel thin w/ cream cheese (and cauliflower puree - but sssshh, they don't know that), a split banana, freeze dried apples and pears and Cheerios/Chex. This cherished combo of food is acceptable for any meal. I think they would be satisfied eating it for every meal.

For some reason I have always preferred the morning air - it seems more crisp and fresh than afternoon air, even if its the same temperature. This will be my last summer with the kids so we are going to relish and revel in every run.
We are literally going to stop and smell the roses!

Since the duathlon is next weekend, this is my last duathlon workout. I guess the timing is good - I barely have enough time in the morning for a bike-run brick, nonetheless a run-bike-run double brick. This is partly why I chose to do this workout in the midday, despite the heat. I also think training in the heat has some benefits.

It was 92 when I started at 12:30, and 95 when I ended at 2.
* 15 minutes on trainer, ending in 3 min / 1 min / 30 second sprints (30 sec RI)
* 1.15 mile loop at 5K effort (5:53 pace)
* 18 mile bike ride (it got really windy in the middle of this)
* 1.15 mile loop, ran it in the opposite way (6:12 pace, the heat and wind were getting to me)
* 1 min easy / 1 min sprint on trainer  x 5
* 2 min / 1 min / 30 second sprints back outside (30 sec RI). The wind was gone and I finished strong in the 5:40s. I drank coconut water throughout the workout and I think that helped. It was on clearance at GNC for just .33 cents a bottle!

This ends the duathlon season.  I wish there were more races - it would solve my swimming issues.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marquee Triathlon Race Report

This race had some high points (PR in the 5K) and some low points (um...the swim). Like all my multi-sport events, I made some mistakes and walked away with a list of things to work on.

I knew that I was under-trained for the swim.
However, since it was only 750-meters, and since I was wearing a wetsuit, I didn't think that it would be much of a hindrance. Well, I felt that way at least up to the start of the race - then my trepidation appeared.


I got into the water and swam to the start. They make you wait awhile for the previous wave to get a few minutes ahead. During this time, you have the opportunity to pee (I have never met anyone who did not pee in the water) and test your goggles.
Only then, with 2 minutes to the gun, did I remember that my goggles had a leak. How could I forget this?
I pressed them hard to my face. The suction made my left eye hurt.
There was no turning back at this point though.
I am somewhere among this sea of pink caps:

The blow-horn goes and off we go. I immediately forget about goggles as I am too busy trying to move in the mass of limbs that surrounded me.
My Dad took this photo so apparently he believes I am one of these girls:

I found myself tired almost immmediately.
My friend, Shelly, who does swim, described the swim course as "short."
I described it as "annoyingly endless."
I found myself wondering, How did I ever swim 1500 meters??? as I often came up gasping for air and choking on noxious lake water.

My swim time was 15:18.
My swim times for the 2 Olympic distances last year were 27 minutes (with wetsuit) and 29 minutes (no wetsuit). So this was not only my shortest swim - it was my longest.

I was just so grateful when I was out of the water.
Wet suit strippers pulled me to the ground, yanked off my wetsuit and flung me back up.

Unlike last time, I found my bike with eased since I marked it with floral colored tissue paper.
I collapsed on the ground and put on my bike shoes. The right shoe did not feel right.
I took it off, and put it back on.
It still did not feel right.
After wiggling and squiggling my toes, I decided to deal with it and hopefully, like my goggles, forget about it.

But as I started to run my bike out of transition, it hurt.
So I stopped.

I ended up laying my bike down, taking my shoe off and adjusting the insole.
It worked!
But it cost me. My transition time was 3 minutes.

Flustered, I began my bike ride.  (I think I did not dry my foot enough).

The bike was good. I passed a lot of people and no one passed me.
The results say my average speed was 20.5 - my bike computer said 21.7. But the course was a little long (13.2 miles vs 12.5) so the 21.7 is accurate.  Maybe a little slow for such a short course.

My second transition was not great either 1:39 - I should be able to take 30 seconds off this.

But my run was fabulous.
All my brick workouts have paid off because my legs felt fresh, as if they knew they were supposed to run fast.

My Garmin gave me these results:
Mile 1 = 6 min, 1 second
Mile 2 = 6 min
Mile 3+.11 = 6:52 (6:10 pace - this had the hill)
Avg pace = 6:04
Final Time = 18:54

My Garmin says I broke 19 minutes!
Race results say my time was 19:07 though.
19:07 is still the fastest female run time - and a 20 second PR. I wasn't tired at the end either...just a few deep breaths and I ran 6 more miles to cheer on the longer races.

Final triathlon time = 1:15:36.
Not bad. Not great.
But good enough to win the age group (just barely, I made a pass at the end of the run resulting in the win).

6th overall and with fixed transitions and better swimming, there is potential. But potential means nothing during a race, you get out what you put in. I need to suck it up and swim this summer.

This race was very well-organized with a good course and good crowd, including my beloved fan club at the finish:

And, as always, I enjoyed the company of the community and my friends. That part alone makes the swimming worth it.

I have noticed that all my friends are attached to some sort of club except for me. Clubs provide coaching, camaraderie and clothing.
It sounds nice!
Until you hear the monthly price tag.
Maybe one day.... when the kids are no longer in preschool (since that has a nice price tag, too).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Triathlon Training - The One and Only Week

I am doing a sprint triathlon on Sunday.
Sprint triathlons vary in distance - this one is a 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike ride, 5K run. 

I didn't feel the need to train for it because it is so short and my duathlon training is sufficient for the bike and run portions. 

This is my first time doing a Sprint triathlon so I don't know what to expect. Although it sounds easy on paper, shorter distances are actually not easier than their longer counterparts.  The decreased length means increased speed.  It's a different kind of challenge.

I examined the course map and I am disappointed with the run course.  Unlike the longer distances, we have the pleasure to run up a steep hill .This hill always seems to be in my races.

I used the course map to do my one training workout. The Triathlon Workout began at the course.  I was taken aback when I got out of my car to be nearly blown over by a speeding gush of wind.
The warm included 1 mile of the course, up the hill, 2 miles on trails to the canal and then the rest:
* 1.15 miles on canal "fast" (5:57 pace) - cross wind
* Headwind to my house with a 4-minute push (6:10 pace) and 70-second sprint (5:40)
* 14 mile bike ride back to car (mostly cross wind, but a little head and tail wind action)
* 1 mile on the course "fast" (5:57) - tail wind
* 800 in a headwind (3:15)
* 2x up the hill
* 1km in headwind back to car at 6:40

I felt good about the bike and the run.
And then I remembered - the swim.

750-meters is not a long swim - until you go to the pool and swim 15 laps.
I did this.  Once.

It is safe to say I will not drown.
It is also safe to say that I won't be one of the first people out of the water.

Which is fine but in hindsight, I do wish I prepared.

There really is no excuse.  I have access to a nice indoor pool that provides childcare.
And my kids like going to the childcare.
When we went, my kids walked in as if they ownded the daycare.
When I picked them up for lunch, Brenna was happy to see me.   Hayden pretended he did not know me.

But he can never ignore the promise of lunch.

I always order them the special. This week it was a hummus wrap.
It had a lot of vegetables so it was not their favorite thing, but they ate it up anyway.

Hayden ate his entire lunch holding a yellow matchbox car. I suspect you will see this in future pictures because it is not just a yellow car, it is THE yellow car. It must be in his hand at all times, including when he sleeps.

They also ate maccaroni puffs to make the meal "toddler friendly." Hayden, who tends to wear half of every meal spattered on his shirt, decided to take the  George Constanza approach to eating puffs by using a fork. 

Brenna, refusing to be out-sophisticated, followed his lead.

So we left the gym premises well-fed, slightly more refined and with the satisfaction of knowing that I went swimming because one time is better than zero times.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The First Easter

Technically my kids have been alive for three Easters, however this was the first Easter that we actually celebrated.
I am using the word "celebrated" loosely because really we just participated in an Easter egg hunt.  And, to be honest, we were more lured by the free breakfast.

My mother appeared to be off put that we celebrating Easter and not Passover, but I haven't had been to a Seder in 15 years and it's not like she offered to host one.

Plus, lets be real:  What is more fun:
Looking for brightly colored eggs filled with sugar, or an over-sized cracker wrapped in a paper towel?


Although, my kids really do love crackers. And I do have fond memories searching for it.

I tried to explain to my mother that it doesn't have to be one or the other. In future years, we plan to do both. I don't think you can have too many fun traditions in life (or free food).

Despite being 30, this was my first Easter egg hunt as well. My rookie status was immediately apparent when our kids were the ONLY kids to show up sans Easter basket.
I had no idea you were supposed to supply your own.
But we found eggs anyway and I have big hands.

The real celebration came this morning when all Easter goodies went on sale at the drug store. I was disappointed with my haul after Valentines day - you have to arrive within the hour the store opens if you want the best stuff.

This is true dedication on Monday morning.

We scored big bags of pretzel M&Ms (undisputedly the best kind of M&M), mini-chocolate bunnies, a variety of substance-filled eggs, window decals, a singing/dancing chicken and other pointless future clutter toys. The kids were especially taken by these glasses that have flashing lights at the bottom:

Basically, we got $40 of junk for $20 so it was a good Easter indeed!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Duathlon Training, Second Edition

I am feeling much more comfortable with this upcoming duathlon than my previous duathlon. In fact, I am feeling much more comfortable with this race than any previous multi-sport race since:
There is no (open-water) swim and there is no long bike ride.

It is still a new distance for me though so I want to keep my expectations low. The goal is not to have a superior race but rather a strong race. 

Duathlon workout #1:
* 20 min on trainer ending with 1 minute "sprint"/1 minute RI x 10
* Straight outside - 800 x 1 at 5k pace (3:09)
   -1 mile at "fast" pace (5:51)
   -800 x 1 at 5k pace (3:04)
   -30 second sprint x 3
* On bike - 16 mile ride
* Back to running - .33 x 4 (sub-6 pace)
Thoughts: This workout was hard to me because it was warm and sunny. Mid-80s at the start and upper-80s by the finish. I just felt so sweaty and thirsty (despite drinking water).

I had accepted that this was my fate for the next 7 months but then it got very windy and temperatures dropped 20 degrees in a single day!

Duathlon Workout #2:
* 2 mile warm up, 1.75 mile loop "fast" (5:54 pace)
* 7.5 mile bike loop x 2 (18.5mph avg)
* 1.75 mile loop w/ 1.5 min, 2.5 min, 3 min "fast" (sub 5:50)
Thoughts:  The wind was still lingering for this workout so I didn't check my paces until the end. I also did loops to balance out the head-tail-cross winds. Even though wind can be frustrating, I prefer it to the unquenchable thirst that accompanies heat.

Duathlon Workout #3:
* 15 min on trainer ending w 2.5 minute "sprint"/30 sec RI x 2
* Straight outside - 1.6 mile loop at 5k effort (6:07 pace)
* On bike - 21 mile ride (19.5mph, as good as it gets with street lights)
* Back to running - same 1.6 mile loop at 5k effort (6:07)
Thoughts:  I didn't look at my paces while running so it's a coincidence that it took me the exact same time each time to run the loop. I would love 6:07 to be my future 5k pace BUT I MUST NOT RUN THAT PACE IN THE RACE.

The challenge for me is going to be pacing.
This is why I cannot forget my goal: finish strong.

My second challenge will be transitions. I am always very slow in transitions. Yesterday, I ran with the kids to our local tri-store to buy no-tie laces.  I am hoping not fumbling with laces can save me some seconds.

This is not the first time I am going to attempt these.
Now, I just need to not be lazy and put them in my shoes BEFORE the race so that I can practice with them.

On our way to the tri store, we stopped at the park.
A young girl was very interested in Hayden. They quickly became an item.

But it was short-lived.


Next week the temperatures will be in the 90s.
This time of year is awkward because even though it is uncomfortably warm in the afternoons, it is still too dark to workout before work.  I am glad that I got these three workouts in - the next few weeks will be more about acclimating rather than accelerating.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Brand New Brenna

One thing you should know about Brenna is that she likes be in control.

For example:  She likes bananas.  For snack, I may offer her a banana.  However, simply for the fact that I chose the banana, she will refuse it and demand something else.

I let her make all the small decisions in her life - what she wears, what bedtime stories we read, what cartoon we watch in the morning, etc.  I also let her decide how to style her hair.

As her hair has grown, I have begged her to pull it back or at least choose a barrette so that I can clip the bangs out of her face.  Between my mother and myself, Brenna has barrettes in every color, shape and size. 
Large (possibly obnoxious) pink bow?  Check.
Small barely noticeable butterfly?  Check.
Sparkles?  Check.
Rhinestones?  Check.

A lot of them she selected herself at the store.  She carried them around like precious gold and shrieked when she had to relinquish them for two seconds so the cashier could scan  them.  And then as soon as we got home, they were dropped, abandoned and forgotten.

Even if I distracted her enough to pull back her hair, once she noticed that it was pulled back against her will, she simply pulled it out.

So for the most part, Brenna's hair was always in her face.

She didn't seem to mind but it did cause some issues.

For example, their pre-school had a tea party.  All the kids were instructed to wear their "Sunday Best."  Then they sat at fold-out card tables, lined with a table cloth, and ate copious amounts of unapproved sugar. As you can see by that nicely folded, unused napkin, my kids fail at fine dining - Photobucket

And as you can see, everything that went into Brenna's mouth also went into her hair:

The obvious solution was to cut her bangs.
To be honest, I am not sure why I did not think of this many weeks ago.

With a few clips of her scissors that she bought 30 years ago, my mother gave Brenna the only hair cut she knows how to do - uneven bangs.  I had the same hair cut when I was kid.

But just like that, Brenna could see out of both eyes.
And perhaps life looks better when you can see clearly because ever since, its as if she turned over a new leaf.

Some days, she has ZERO tantrums.  It almost scares me.

Just one example: she used to always throw a fit when getting confined into her car seat. She would scream and cry and wiggle and squirm until she was able to get an arm out. I would often have to pull over.

We haven't had to pull over once since the hair cut.

Coincidence? Perhaps.
Publishing this post can be the jinxing catalyst that flings us three steps back.

But at the very least she takes better photos because now you can always see her smile.

Pre-hair cut "Daddy-fun-time":

Post-hair cut "Daddy-fun-time":

She would never admit it, but she is thankful that we made this decision. And as she will learn over and over and over again, mom is usually right.