Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A quick Catch-up

Russell - rescue dog - very much a puppy who has added to the chaos in my house.
Rescue Blue dog with his buddy Patty. He owns her.

Enjoying a moment in Charleston

Welcome to the hospital!

Apparently it has been months since I blogged which is now giving me the opportunity to figure out what exactly I have been doing during that time.

Here is how the past few months have unfolded:


Hospital Stay - I finished IM Louisville on a high note and felt good about my racing only to land in the hospital just 2 weeks later. I had a staph infection that was resistant to antibiotics. I was waited on hand and foot at our local hospital and enjoyed a vast array of pain killers. This was the beginning of my off-season as well. I did not plan it that way but I was informed that it would be unwise to get in the water with an open wound. A few days in the hospital must have done something to me because I actually obeyed!


Ache Around the Lake - Ironically the same hospital that treated me for my infection was also the same hospital that I put on my Ache Around the Lake 8K for. So I guess you could say I was more motivated than ever to make that a success. A lot of work, a lot of stress all for a good cause. The race got pulled off without any noticeable problems. We raised a lot of money for the hospital.

Ziggy - the same day as Ache Around the Lake I was back at the house unloading the U-haul truck and washing coolers when we noticed that Ziggy was not feeling well. He had been at the race with me that morning and walked the 2 mile Ouch with my friend's son. After observing him for a few minutes I realized something was very wrong. His stomach was hard and he was in enormous pain. I dropped everything and rushed him to the emergency clinic in Flat Rock. His stomach had indeed flipped over. He had what many call "bloat" or a "twisted gut" which without immediate attention means a quick death. $1200 deposit for the surgery, Surgery performed, dog saved. 2 days later he comes home only to find that we are having complications. That evening he is rushed back to the emergency vet where he stays for the rest of the week. Finally he comes home on the weekend and is now all back to normal.


Finally life starts to calm down just enough for me to realize all the work that has been left unattended due to all the medical emergencies. I spend a few weeks trying to catch up - still trying to catch up for that matter. I just realized I may never be caught up.
I almost forgot to mention the 2 rescue dogs that arrived for the fall fun. Blue dog and Russell - I love them both but together they make things very chaotic. I can handle 1 rescue at a time but is just too much. They are in the system now and know the routine but the 2 rescues love to play and run and romp. They are enjoying the good dog life here but often driving me insane. Then add the next paragraph and you can see why it is all just about enough to put me over the edge.

A "friend" of mine lands himself in the slammer (I am sure it was no fault of his own) and leaves me to take care of his American Staffordshire Terrior AKA Pit Bull. As if I don't have enough issues to deal with. Luke spends his day terrorizing me by barking and tearing the dog run apart and then finally by digging his way out of the dog run. Increased a normal level of stress from a 7 to a 10+ within moment of arriving at my house. To make matters worse my "friend" was only supposed to be "in" for 4 weeks - I have now had the dog for 5+ weeks. May I say NEVER AGAIN!?! I don't need "friends" like this!!!

All of a sudden it is time to start training again for the Myrtle Beach Marathon in Feb. I start back running but my body is slow and everything feels harder than it should. I am reminded of why I never should take time off...because it always hurts getting just half of your fitness back.

My parents treated me to a weekend of camping with them in Charleston at James Island County Park. On the trip down there I get a call from the pet sitter that Luke has escaped and is no where to be found. I was pretty sure at this point I was going to have to turn the RV around and go home but I got lucky and another friend agreed to try to find Luke and take care of him for the weekend. The rest of the retreat was wonderful and very relaxing, just not long enough.

So last but certainly not least - I have been named the Director of the Assaults on Mt. Mitchell. What this means is I get to organize everything that has to do with the Assaults on Marion and Mitchell bike rides - certainly challenging and plenty of work to add on to everything else. Always give a busy person something else to do!
Let the holiday season begin now that I am caught up on one blog.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ironman Louisville

Standing around before the start. I think we were almost in Indiana! From left to right - Peter Ramirez, Me, Brad Fraedrich, Peter (from Canada) & Colette.

My rabbit for the entire run. I never could catch him, but he was running scared!

Very happy to be running down to the finish!

Ironman Louisville August 30th 2009
Race Report

I have spent years chasing a goal, always thinking that I needed to train my body more, gain confidence from big miles when in reality the difference between this race and others was completely between my ears. This was not a perfect race by any means but it was perfectly focused and that is what made the difference.

I did not plan on racing in any Ironman races this year and as many of you have seen this was my second one in just 5 weeks. No matter what I tried to convince myself, I had unfinished business with Ironman. When I started doing Ironman in 2002 my goal was to qualify for Hawaii. I did that. Then I wanted to break 11 hours which seemed very realistic because I had been so close many times. As the races went by I would often have a great ride with a not so great run or vice-versa. I started to lose the belief that I could get there and I lost sight of the goal. This summer I thought it was time to enlist the help of a coach. Basically Coach Jim saved me from myself (most of the time). His approach to training was a little different than mine but I was at a point where I needed that. His encouragement and confidence building strategy worked wonders for me. I felt like I was making progress again. Ironman Louisville was my goal for the season.

This Ironman was going to be different than others for a few reasons. I had a group of friends/athletes who would be competing with me in this race. For some it was their first and for others they were going for a PR (Personal Record). The swim start was going to be a Time Trial, so this meant that we would all start 2 by 2 in the river. I also knew that Coach Jim would be out on the course, but I did not know where so I was going to have to work hard all the time because I certainly did not want him to catch me slacking!

Race morning started at 4 AM. I was up and eating (banana, bagel with peanut butter, yogurt). By 5 I was on my way to the transition area to drop off my bottles and nutrition for the bike ride (the bike and gear all had to be delivered there the day before). Then by 6 I was standing in line for the swim start. The line alone must have been about a mile long. I could not believe it! I thought that I was doing good getting there early. Once the line got moving it went very fast, about 200m before the swim start everyone started jogging, then we jogged down a maze of ramps to the river, crossed a timing mat, and jumped in.

The swim was in the Ohio River. It was so murky you could not see your hands in front of you, or other swimmers. The Time Trial start meant that there were a lot of slower swimmers out in front of me which made it interesting. I had to sight a lot more than normal. I also had to really keep myself calm because I hate murky water. The only thing I dislike more is shallow, murky water which is exactly what I passed through. I admit I got some water in my mouth at one point and started thinking about all the pollution and then I started gagging. I calmed myself down and thought about my old dog Yoda. He used to get in any body of water, he did not care, he just loved to swim. So thinking about him helped me calm down and focus. I swam wide around the island hoping to catch some current but all I got was wind and wake working against me. I could see the finish of the swim but it took an eternity to get there. When I exited the water I looked at my watch and saw 1:12 which is one of my worst swim times ever. As soon as I thought that I replaced that with the thought that when I used to swim slower, I would bike really fast to catch everyone. I let the swim time slip away and focused on the next task.

I ran into transition, picked up my bags and went into the changing tent. There Jan helped me get my shoes, helmet and sunglasses ready to go. Jan volunteered ALL day. Maybe she wasn’t racing but she made me proud! I thanked her and ran out of the tent, got my bike off the rack and took off.

The bike course started out on a very flat but bumpy road. I was cruising along at 20mph and it felt easy. I figured we must have a tail wind so I thought I would just enjoy it while I could. I was passing people like crazy which has not happened to me in years. Again Yoda came back to mind. That dog was fearless. I too, needed to be fearless today. What have I been afraid of? It was now or never. I was having fun and enjoying the little rolling hills. They seemed so easy compared to what I have at home. I had to change direction for a part of the course and I still felt my tail wind, my speed was still 20 mph at 20 miles into the race. Ironically I had given all my athletes a card before the race that said “May the wind always be at your back”. It is part of an Irish blessing. No matter what the wind did I told myself it was at my back pushing me ahead. It worked. At 50 miles into the race I was at 2:30 and feeling fine. I was having fun and I was riding reasonably but going fast. Coach Jim was standing in the middle of a few hills catching me doing something right! Soon I passed the 100 mile mark at 5:03. I worked all the way in to the finish line and ended up having a bike time of 5:39 for 112 miles. That is by far the fastest I have ever biked in an Ironman. I was so excited.

Coming into transition again my legs felt a little more used up than I would have liked, but it did not matter because I told myself “today is the day”. Jan was there to greet me again in transition and send me on my way. After a mile or so my running legs were back and I just focused on passing people. I started thinking about how good it was going to feel to finally break 11 hours. I started thinking about old Yoda and how many 20 mile runs that dog did with me, how he would have run himself into the ground to stay by my side. I was running way too fast for the first 3 miles and still all the way until 8 miles and then I had to slow down and start getting fuel in at the aid stations. I talked with a few girls as we ran together and cheered for friends while I could but then after mile 20 I just stared at the ground embraced the pain and willed myself through. I crossed the finish line in 10:51.

This was my 17th Ironman and I finally got it right. Perseverance pays off!

Interesting Statistics:
18th Amateur Woman Overall
8th Place in the 35-39 Age Group – only the top 3 get to go to Kona
30th – Overall Woman – this includes the pro women
241 out of about 2400 people to finish the race.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ironman Lake Placid 2009

Ironman Lake Placid July 26th 2009
Race Report

It has been a long time since I have written anything resembling a race report but I figured that this race would be a good one to share with everyone because a lot went right, a lot went wrong and there was just as much that was out of my control. The Ironman motto is “anything is possible” and while I love the way it sounds I also know that “anything can happen”.
Race morning was uneventful. Things went smoothly and I enjoyed the energy that accompanies such a large race. The music was blaring, athletes were looking serious, spectators were in awe and the lines the porto-potty were 100’s deep. It was time to race! It started raining shortly before the start but that really did not matter because whatever the weather does I am still racing.

I lined up in the water and got kicked plenty before the race ever started. I was about 5 rows back which was too far back for me. Instead of being swum over, I was the one swimming on top of people, oh what fun. Hand to hand combat in the Ironman. It was crowded but I fought my way over to the buoy line and swam just inside the buoys on the first lap. I was putting in a good effort but really not overdoing it. After the first lap I came out of the water at 30:40 something which I was really pleased with. The next lap I swam outside the buoys and did not get as good a draft but it was still good enough to get me out of the water in about 1:03. I was really happy about that. I enjoyed my run down to transition and felt like a rock star as everyone was lining the streets and cheering.

I was in and out of transition pretty quickly and out onto the bike course. My legs felt great but I really tried to keep the effort on the easy side because there is nothing worse than going too fast on the first lap and paying for it on the second lap. I just wanted to survive this bike course without any random accidents. At mile 10 a nice guy passing me informs me that my rear tire is going flat. Unfortunately I already suspected this because I could feel it pumping along. I had to get off and check it out. It wasn’t totally flat so I just put some CO2 in it and took off again. No big deal. Then at mile 15 I started to hear a really strange noise. It wasn’t my wheel or my tire, but it was definitely me. At that point I touched my hand to my helmet and the plastic top was coming off my aero helmet. As soon as I touched it the entire top piece of my helmet came off on my hand! At this point I am laughing because this has to be some sort of bad joke. I know I am just being tested. I just hold onto the piece of my helmet on my aero bars and try to figure out what on earth I am going to do with it. Lucky for me Tiffany & Dave (great support crew) were waiting about another 5 miles up the road so I gave it to them. I know, I know, technically that is against the rules but I figured it was my best option. Back out on the road I try to get focused again. I am getting passed like crazy. I check my speed and cadence constantly. I am doing 20 mph and getting passed like I am back pedaling. I remind myself at least 1000 times during the bike ride to just ride my race and not worry about getting passed. At mile 40 I find myself on the side of the road yet again putting some more CO2 in my tire. I guess my valve stem is leaking. Of course it did not leak at all in the days before the race! I have no one to blame since I put it on myself with loving care. Finally I complete 1 lap - 56 miles in 3:08 which is fine with me. I set off on lap number 2 just as the wicked wind kicks up and starts howling. It is a variable head wind; meaning it seems like I have a head wind no matter which direction we are riding in. I watch lots of big guys pass me and wish I had the guts to draft, I just don’t because I never have and I am not going to start now. A guy who is 6’10” passes me. I asked him how tall he was because I have never seen a bike that big! I start heading back to town and the headwind is worse than ever. Thank goodness my speedometer stopped working because I think if I could have seen how slow I was going I might have been sad. I just wanted to get past mile 107 since it is around there that I got hit from behind by another cyclist a few years ago – which ended my race that year. As I get close to that mile marker I am very thankful to be out on the course and happy to be able to do something like Ironman. I remind myself of this and suddenly it gets easier. My legs are feeling good, probably because I did not ride hard enough. My stomach is revolting. I can’t keep anything down and I know that I am going to have to survive off Coke and pretzels on the run.
I finally get back to the transition area and run into the tent on my rubber legs.

I actually sit down and take a break. I feel kind of tired and hungry. I just want to sit in the transition tent, but I don’t. I take off running and to my surprise the legs still feel fine. Thank goodness something is going my way today! I hit the first few aid-stations and drink a sip of Coke with pretzels and then alternate water, chicken broth or maybe both. All of a sudden I am so thirsty I just want to guzzle everything. This is not really good but at this point I just have to do what I have to do to get through it. Despite my poor nutrition on the bike I am able to pass a lot of the people back who flew by me on the bike. My first lap was under 2 hours which I was thrilled with. It gave me hope that I was going to have a good run. Then all of a sudden all of the Coke, water and bland chicken soup start to come back up. The remainder of the marathon is spent heaving, running, drinking – repeat at least 6x until I realize at mile 25 if I really bust my rump I can still be under 12 hours. So I sprint (well, it felt like a sprint to me) and then have to really work my butt off coming around the oval to the finish to get in under 12 hours. Some people commented that I was really smiling when I crossed the finish line. Of course I was, I just finished an Ironman and that always makes me happy!

So, this event was my 16th Ironman and with that I proved to myself that no matter how many times you do it and no matter how well you train there are always lessons to be learned. I think that I enjoyed this race more than some of the others. Sure I wanted to be faster but as soon as I finished it did not matter anymore. At the end of the day Ironman is about being tough and crossing the finish line. It is about doing all the training just to get to the race; about the people you meet along the way, the people you train with, the people who support you and the fact that physically you have the ability to complete such a demanding event.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Irish

Many years ago I worked for an engineering company - no, I was not an engineer. I was lucky enough to travel to all sorts of interesting destinations and work on fast track projects. I really enjoyed it and I loved getting to meet all sorts of people from all over the world. My favorite project was based in England right outside of London. This was a joint project with Intel Ireland. Intel USA and Intel U.K. Being on a construction site can be somewhat intimidating for a woman - even me. Lucky for me I had a good Irish name and made lots of friends with the Irish lads. One of my favorites was Ben. He had such a thick Irish brogue that I only understood half of what he was saying. I do remember a few things he liked to say that I could understand - his favorite word was certainly the "f" word. The other thing he taught me to say was 33 and 1/3 - when you say it in proper Irish it comes out like "Turdy tree and a turd" or at least that is how I remember it. Anyway - those were good times over in England with all my Irish friends.

Rumor has it that Ben actually gave up smoking and is planning on getting fit! Times have changed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Festival of Flowers

This was a spontaneous group shot of everyone who happened to be standing close together. I think the reason why I like this shot is because we had all just raced hard and we were happy and we were having fun. We have a great group of people here in SC that we are able to race with. While we might all go head to head at the start line at the end of the day it is more about all the friendships we have made. I would never have met most of these people if it were not for triathlon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Weim Saved!

This is the poor little guy I picked up at the Greenville Shelter on Thursday. They told me he was 2 - after contacting the vet via his rabies tag it turns out he is 13! The people who owned him were going to put him to sleep in January (he weighed 65 lbs then) but a "friend" said they would take him. Today he weighs in at about 35 lbs. How could someone do this to a dog? They should be put in jail with no food! Despite having a bad last 6 months of his life he is more than willing to trust me and is so sweet. It makes my heart ache for him. Lucky for Leonardo (also found out is name from his old vet) there is a gentleman in Greenwood who is retired who is willing to share his home with him so that the last little bit of his life be lived in peace. Tomorrow on the way to my race he will be safely delivered to his new forever home. May he have all the love and all the food he can eat for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A new ride for the dogs!

The old car just wasn't working out well with the dogs. Squishing 5 excited dogs into a little car to drive them back and forth to the lake to their swim time was crazy with the old car. I figure since everything seems to be dedicated to them that my car should be too. Now they have the car they always deserved! Ok - it does not hurt that the new car also has enough room for my bike to ride inside.