Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Does Crossfit help with my triathlon training?

Someone asked me that in a comment the last time I posted.

I'm thinking, yes and no.

Yes, because it's motivating. It replaces strength training for me, and the competitive aspect of it makes me want to show up and work hard.

But no, because it's definitely not sport-specific, and I do believe in sport-specific training for triathlon.

So speaking of triathlon, it's about that time for me to make plans for next year.

But I'm pretty happy without plans. Plus, I can't stand the site of my bicycles. Isn't that terrible? I have no desire whatsoever to bike! Even on a gorgeous day, I just don't want to!

And of course I don't want to swim, so I'm not doing that either. Plus I worry about the effects of chlorine on my pink hair, and it's way too cold to swim outside now.

So, I run. I'm happy running. I don't really feel like racing, though. This weekend I think I'll take the kids to do a 1K run with Santa and his elves - that should be good fun, but I don't want to actually race the 5K adults' run myself.

I guess this is normal; I've had three years of being totally focused on racing and training. It feels so nice to not have to do anything. It's not that I don't love the exercise anymore; I definitely do. I just don't want to put triathlon training high up on my priority list right now, because when it gets moved up there, so many other things drop way down.

So, I'm blogging less, though I'm thinking about being a more general blogger and not writing about exercise all the time. I do have my Disney blog, but that's more about the family. Often I have stuff to write about that isn't about either.

And perhaps in January I'll pick out a race to target. But I know this: I do not plan on working on speed or moving up in the age group rankings for any given race. When I race next summer - and I am sure I will race some - it will be purely for fun. Maybe I'll be last in every race I target. Who knows. I just know right now, I need a break.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Loser blogger and loser runner

I'm a loser for not updating my blog. I'm still all about running with the girls and Crossfit.

But I'm a loser runner because I'm not doing the Seattle Marathon! I want to do it, and it was supposed to be my husband's first half-marathon. I was going to run it with him to support him.

Well, I have this thing about registering for races: I don't like to register until I know for sure I will be able to complete my training and get the race done. So that means I usually don't get the "early bird" price.

The Seattle Half Marathon is fairly spendy: $95 if you register late. And I didn't sign John up because, well, frankly he started out well with his training, then pretty much stopped training. He did that one 10-mile run two weeks ago, and I think hasn't run at all since then.

But since he's a guy, he's sure he could go out and run 13.1. To be honest, I'm sure he could (but it would HURT!).

Except when I told him what it would cost to sign him up yesterday or today, he said, "No way! I'm not paying nearly $200 for us to run 13.1 miles when we won't even win!"

Uh, okay. So, we're out. No Seattle Marathon this year.

I'm a little sad about that, because it is a really fun race. But there's always next year!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More butt-kicking courtesy of Crossfit

Wow, tomorrow might suck. I hope I can walk.

Because Crossfit today was NUTTY!

First I ran about six miles with the girls...well, only one girl today, but still. We ran. And chatted.

(Okay, non-sequitor: I'm listening to an AMAZING remix of the Paul Van Dyk song "Let Go." It might be the most incredible song in the world. It's hard to focus on anything else.)

Then in Crossfit we did more of those deadlift-clean things with heavy balls, then a bunch of pull-ups. And then, jump-rope. We were supposed to do double-unders - two times around of the jump rope for one jump - but I couldn't figure it out. So I just goofed around and rev'ed up my heart rate.

So then for our competitive activity, we did this:

40 double-unders (if you couldn't do a double-under, do times 4 of regular jumps - so 160!)
800 meters row
30 double unders (or 120 jumps)
600 meters row
20 double unders (or 80 jumps)
400 meters row
10 double unders (or 40 jumps)
then 30 deadlift clean things.

WOW. And OW. And I was behind, but the instructor told me to push through my deadlift clean things to beat two of the guys who were resting in between.

When I was done, I laid down on the floor - not even a mat - and watched the world spin. Okay, that's an exaggeration...but it was hard!

And I loved every minute of it!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

10-mile shape: I've still got it

So I haven't run more than six miles at once since....well, the Ironman. And one of my life goals is to remain in 10-mile shape forever: I must be able to wake up and run 10 miles.

I put that to the test yesterday. And I made it even more complicated by going out the night before! I tried to convince John we should be in bed by midnight (we were meeting our friends to run at 9 a.m.).

Well, midnight turned into 1 a.m. which turned into 2 a.m. which turned into "I must be ASLEEP by 3 a.m.!" That one actually happened. But I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to make sure I ate properly and hydrated. So, I was going on four and a half hours of sleep.

But you know, it dawned a nice, warm, semi-sunny day, and I felt excited to run. We were running the Lake Young's Reservoir trail - a 10-mile loop that can't be cut short (it's literally around a fenced-in reservoir, so once you've gotten close to 5 miles, you pretty much have to go 10 to get back to your car).

I ran with Danielle, and John ran with his friend Justin. Danielle and I just chatted the entire time - typical girl run - and including one quick stop for a bio break in the woods, we did the 10 miles in 1:41. So pretty much 10-minute miles.


And I felt amazing afterwards! I spent the afternoon dancing with my kids - this club I like was doing this thing called "Shorty's Dance Party" where kids get to go into the club and they play non-offensive top 40 music and the kids dance and goof around. And then, even though I said I wasn't going to go out more than one night a weekend...well, this was the last weekend we're going out both nights. So we did go out dancing half the night. Again.

And today? Nothing! No pain in my knees, feet, or any other joints; no muscle soreness other than a tiny bit that I think is still left over from my Thursday Crossfit class, where we did about a zillion squats and again I destroyed my quads. So pretty sweet!

Oh, and John? HE DID IT!!! The most he's ever run was seven miles until yesterday - and though he did take a few walk breaks, he busted out the 10 miles in under two hours. I'm so proud of him!

(Note: I don't recommend barely running then going from seven miles straight to 10...but he's a man, he doesn't listen to me or any other advice. He's limping slightly today, but now we know: he can definitely do it, and a half marathon is his for the taking.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More nutty Crossfit adventures

So I've now been active/athletic for about three and a half years.

And in that time, I've managed to overcome a lot of pigeon-holing: I thought I was clumsy, slow, unfit. And maybe I was - but those things aren't a permanent part of me.

I like to think of the Spanish language: it has two verbs that mean "to be" - "ser" and "estar." The simple way to explain when to use which is to think of "ser" as things you ALWAYS are. I will always be female. "Estar" is used for temporary things - like feelings. I AM happy right now.

So I thought I was (using the verb "ser") not an athlete. Now I know that I am (using the verb "estar," because it could change) one.

Anyway, so this Crossfit thing has really shown me that I've practiced and become a runner and a swimmer. But overall athletics - being coordinated, throwing, catching, sports-type skills - uh, not so much.

And I guess that's why I like it. Because it pretty much puts me back at the starting line, and it's HARD, and I'm embarrassed when I mess up. (Like today, doing some deadlift and then some other move with a heavy ball.) I laugh at myself, and I get frustrated.

And then I practice some more and some more and some more. After some time, it happens: I can do whatever it was I was attempting.

Getting it feels amazing - even if I'm the slowest in the class.

It's awesome to believe that I CAN eventually, even if I can't quite yet. With everything.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Okay I am a bad mother!

We just got home and discovered something tragic: one of our fish has died.

So, I have to confess: these six fish are my first pets. Ever. I can't even keep plants alive.

So someone call Child Protective Services. After this fish death, I don't trust myself with kids!

Okay, seriously, here's why I am a bad mommy. My kids were discussing my nicknames for them, and Camille said, 'You used to call me a burrito!' And I said, 'No, Gabriel was the Baby Burrito Boy!' And Gabriel said, 'Yeah, that's because when I was a baby, mommy was very poor, and she wanted money, so she always made me go out on the street and sell burritos!'

Uh, yeah. Whatever. No word what daddy was doing while the baby was selling burritos.

I wrote all of this on a mobile phone. Now that my fingers are cramping, I'll say one word about exercise: Crossfit. Okay more words. The more I go, the crazy stronger I feel...and the closer I come to puking!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musings on parenting skills, and we got a Wii

So, on the comment drama, upon reflection it's pretty interesting to note how a negative comment can practically destroy me and a positive one gets a "oh, isn't that nice!" and I'm happy for like a minute until I'm on to the next thing. I feel like I have a fairly thick skin, but that comment about my parenting skills just got to me.

But actually - and I'm not justifying - I'm a good parent. I definitely have my shortcomings, but in general, I think my good parenting shows in the amazing kids I have. I am approached all the time by people who just love my kids - they're both bright and comfortable talking to adults and engaging and fun! They can be reasoned with and hold real conversations. They pretty much rock.

The thing is, I just won't dedicate every waking moment of my life to the kids. I see a lot of people become parents and suddenly transfer all their hopes and desires for their own lives onto their kids. Well, I'm 32 years old and have a ton of life left. Sure, the next 14 years or so are earmarked for raising children. But that will not mean for me that I do nothing else but raise children. The going out and stuff is really about building and maintaining an awesome relationship with my husband - a cornerstone of a good family life, right. And frankly, other than the few hours a week I work out with the girls, I do nothing but work, raise kids, and play with my hubby. And those few hours of exercise and girl time are necessary for sanity, friendship bonding, and relaxation.

Anyway, one of my shortcomings as a parent is my inability to play. I don't like imagination games where we play dolls or cars or whatever. I can play games, though, but I'm not into video games. Um, until now...

Last night we had friends over, and we decided it would be really fun for both the adults and kids to play the Nintendo Wii. I've been thinking about getting one, so we ran out to the store and picked it up. And Oh. My. Goodness. How much fun! We got the sports games and the playground games, and all of us - adults and kids - played together and had a blast. My shoulder actually hurts from playing Wii Tennis! And I got my highest scores ever on Wii Bowling!

Obviously the Wii won't take the place of real activity - we went real bowling on Thursday, to the zoo on Friday, and ice skating today (ow my calves and ankles, by the way). But for indoor fun where we don't need to plan anything and can get to be a bit physical, it's great. And we have a projector in our family room, so there's no TV to throw a game controller at (only a 108-inch screen). We moved all the furniture, and voila! A perfect place for all of us to play!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Okay yeah I'm a bad blogger

I just don't have a ton to say in the off-season!

So here's what's up. In-season, my training was definitely interfering with my partying schedule.

Now, my partying is definitely interfering with my training schedule! On the weekends, I just don't feel like doing anything. And on the weekdays, it's all about me. I love running with my girlfriends, so I'm still all about that. And I'm all about competing with the boys from work in CrossFit. But my cycling...basically, if I didn't have to lead rides, I wouldn't be riding at all.

So actually, on a serious note, I have been having a bit too much fun. When you start to get the perspective that getting home at 3 or 4 a.m. is early, not late, something is a little warped. So I've decided in my never-ending quest for balance, that I am only going to go out one night per week, and I will only stay out as long as the music is good.

Lately, after we go out dancing, we end up at a friend's house hanging out until the sun comes up. That's just not necessary. So if we're not dancing, I think we should be heading home. I strongly, strongly believe that if I'm up all night, as a parent it's not cool to sleep the next day and not be with the kids. So I've been forcing myself (through the wonders of coffee and Red Bull) to stay up all day and be an extra-good mommy: I've taken the kids to the aquarium and to parks and all kinds of fun stuff the day after I stay up all night. And I can sort of do it, but it's really tough on John - he really needs more sleep.

So, no more. One night a week, stay out till the dancing is over, then go to bed, then wake up and be a good mommy. And I think that will help with being a good athlete, too - although my weight is down, my strength also feels down, and I'm sure that's all about not sleeping properly.

Oh, and I'll leave you with this: a very funny picture from my Halloween party last Friday night. John and I went as Kandi Ravers (what 16-year-olds strung out on Ecstasy wear to raves):


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's been a while!

Well, I'm definitely not a daily blogger anymore. But that's okay - I'm also not a daily exerciser. :-)

It's been so nice to not TRAIN and to just play. I run when I want, I dance all night, and I'm still doing that Crossfit thing.

Speaking of which: this week's Crossfit class totally played to my strengths. For our competition part, we had to do the following:

400 meter run
21 swings of the kettleball
12 pull-ups

...three times.

Right out of the gate, I was slightly ahead. Most of the other folks aren't runners, so I kind of figured even if they beat me on the first 400, they'd slow down on the subsequent ones and I might be able to take them.

Well, I kept my lead on the second-place person and gained time on the others when I was able to sprint the ends of my 400s. My heart rate maxed out at around 190, which is fairly insane - even on the 400s, the lowest it dropped was 175! So that was pretty nutty. And I won, with a time of exactly 10 minutes. The next-closest was three seconds behind me, and everyone else was a ways behind that.

I know: I am so competitive. I just am always proving to myself that I can do this! (Whatever "this" is at the moment.)

So in other news, I went to Arizona on Friday for the Pro Club to play show-and-tell with me. They were presenting the 20/20 Lifestyles program to benefits people from various companies, and the conference at which they were presenting was client focused, so they wanted to show off someone who had been through the program and had good success. Of course I was happy to do it; I love that stuff. So that was fun. And the Pro Club gave me a very generous gift card to the club, so now I get to shop in the Pro Shop or go to the spa or take classes or all of it. So yay!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oh wow. Serious pain!

Ow ow ow ow ow. I could barely get out of bed. I can't go up and down stairs (seriously - I took the elevator at work, which I NEVER do, not even when I'm wearing high heels). My legs hurt to the touch. Sitting down - especially on low things, like toilets - is excruciating.

But I ran four miles anyway, because frankly, running hurts about as much as walking, so why not?

And weirdly enough, our pace was somewhere between 9:15 and 9:30. I felt like I was running 12-minute miles - barely shuffling - but actually I was still running fairly well. It makes me wonder what my pace is when I just run by myself (like, no chatting with girls) and run whatever I want to do.

(Not, of course, that I'd give up a chatty run to test this. But I could add a solo run one day of the week to find out.)

So yeah, Crossfit. WOW. Like I needed bigger quads - but still. I sort of love it.

Even though John better not touch my legs in bed tonight. Yeah, the muscles hurt to the touch!

Crazy stuff, the things that happen when I've got to prove to the guys how strong I am. Of course, none of them were limping at work today.

Then again, none of them scored as high as I did, either!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weekend update, and OW MY QUADS

So, a weekend cruise is definitely NOT good for my diet or exercise. However, it is good for my soul!

John and I did a little weekend cruise with some friends - we left out of Seattle Friday, went to Vancouver B.C. and Nanaimo, then returned to Seattle Monday morning. Barely any time away from work, but it felt like a real vacation! (No kids, either - they stayed with the grandparents.)

So I didn't have time to work out on Friday. But I definitely had time to eat!

Saturday I was going to work out, but instead John and I climbed Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, then walked for a few hours downtown. Very fun. I am in great shape to hike! Cardio-wise and muscularly, it was a good workout. We only went up, though - took the gondola down. I do worry about my knees hiking downhill, and this hike was very, very steep the entire way. It was like climbing for me, honestly.

So then Saturday I found more time to eat.

Sunday, I probably should have worked out. But instead, guess what I did? If you guessed eat, you're right!

On my return yesterday, though, I got back into the right routine of exercising and meal-tracking. Okay, I didn't start meal-tracking again until today, but still. At least I started!

So yesterday Kathy and I went to the Pro Club and I ran on the treadmill for the first time in forever. We did the Gambler's Run - it felt really, really good. I walked into the club feeling fat and sluggish and walked out feeling light and limber. Yay!

Today I did my regular girls run on Tuesday morning, so that was good. Then I went to that Crossfit class again. Oh. My. Goodness.

So not only did we do about a zillion overhead presses, we ran, we did lunges, we did pushups, we did pullups, and then, we did this craziness:

Get out a heavy ball thing - it's about a foot in diameter, so it's a foot higher than the floor.

For 20 seconds, do as many full squats as you can - be sure you come all the way back up! Touch the ball with your bottom when you're all the way down.

Rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat....EIGHT times.

Your score equals the lowest number of squats you do in one of the sets. So if you do 15 the first time, then 14, then 15, your score is still 14. So basically, the rule is, don't drop repetitions!

I did 15 a couple of times, but ultimately settled on 14 as the number to maintain. And I did it - and there was only one guy in the class who beat me! I had to set a high bar, because I knew this was one thing I could excel at. When we were lifting, I had a bar to myself, because I'm the only girl in the class and just can't do as much weight as the guys.

When I was done, I could barely walk. Seriously, my legs were giving out from under me. I thought my quads were literally going to fall off my legs - that is how it felt! Isn't that nutty?

And I'm also like, hmm. Why did I do all that work? I've already got crazy defined quads. It's my abs and triceps that can use the help!

But, whatever. My competitive nature got the best of me. Let's hope I can walk tomorrow!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Run it all away

Yesterday was a BAD day. I don't know why - I woke up late, I didn't want to get out of bed, all my computers were misbehaving, I had to work late...and I found myself at 5:30 p.m. bursting into tears on the couch in my office.

I locked the door, closed the blinds, and tried to pull myself together. It wasn't working.

A co-worker stopped by and made some suggestions as to what I could do to fix my computer troubles. I work in freaking software development! Why oh why did my computer choose yesterday to decide it no longer cared to have an operating system on it? Seriously!

So once he had pointed me in the right direction, he asked, "So, do you have your running things here?"

Yup. I keep a set of running clothes and shoes as well as biking clothes and shoes here in my office, just in case.

Great idea (thanks, Steve!). I got dressed and headed out for a quick 30 minutes to clear my head.

When I returned, my OS was installed, the software build worked (well, worked as much as can be expected for this part of our development cycle), and all my happiness was regained.

Daily exercise. The cure for everything!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No goals

I'm so happy without goals.

Seriously! I know people say stuff like they have the blues after their big race, and need to set a new goal or look forward to a new race.

Well, not me. I was sure, actually, that I would feel like I wanted a new big goal. But honestly, it feels good just to run at whatever pace keeps me chatting with my girlfriends, bike for the joy of being on wheels in the fall air, and not swim at all.

I feel set free: one less stress in my life. I didn't realize how stressful training was until now. I really like being able to stay up as late as I want, whenever I want, and moving workouts around to accommodate my fun and family schedules instead of the other way around.

I like missing a workout and not worrying about how much it will set me back and when will I make it up.

And I love the way the weight is just coming off me! I feel great!

I know I'll want a new goal eventually - it's part of my personality - but for now, this is the life.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lowest weight in a long time...

And I've done less exercise than usual, too!

It's been a rainy week, so I skipped both my noon bike rides on Monday and Wednesday. Pretty much all I've done this week is run a total of 12 miles - two days of exercise - plus that CrossFit class.

And yet this morning, I stepped on the scale and got a huge shock. When I looked down, I thought it read 139.6. But something seemed off - I didn't have my contacts in, and the "9" looked weird. I stepped off the scale and lifted it up to my eyes so I could really read the numbers.


No way. So I cleared the scale and stepped on again.


WOW. The last time I was even as low as 136 was for like a day last November. I absolutely can't remember when I was below 135!

Obviously I have blown my 138-by-October-19 goal out of the water. Of course, I need to stay here for the next two weeks, and I'm not setting a new weight loss goal until then still.

I think the reason this is happening, though, is that I'm explicitly NOT training right now. I'm chill if I miss a workout. I'm not eating as if my stomach was a bottomless pit. And, frankly, all this dancing-all-night and missing sleep has an effect on my eating: I get stomachaches when I don't sleep enough and they make me unable to eat. (I know that's not a good thing...but it's the truth.)

This morning I put on my tightest pants. They're a little loose in the waist!

I have a sweater that I like to wear when I'm feeling my most thin. Unfortunately, when we were cleaning house to get ready to sell, I put it in storage. I might need to go get it out and see where I stand in relation to it.

I know I've said so many times here and to friends that endurance athletics and weight loss do not go well together. And here I am, living proof.

(Whatever will I do next year when I set a new endurance goal???)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

CrossFit might make me cross...

This morning, instead of my usual six-mile run with the girls followed by weight lifting by myself, I ran with the girls and then went to a CrossFit class one of my co-workers had put together for a group from work.

I really didn't know what I was getting into, other than that it seemed kind of like my strength training routine: functional moves that work multiple muscle groups at a time. Plus, doing it with fun co-workers seemed like a reasonable idea at the time.

We started out doing overhead throws and chest passes with a heavy ball. Then we did pull-ups on a bar - and man, I am so weak! I tried hard to do it well, but I looked silly. And being so short, I had to stand on a HUGE box to even reach the bar.

We also did overhead presses with a small squat and of course I wouldn't let them give me the light bar - but when I tried it with the big one, it was just too heavy for me. We compromised on the full-size women's bar.

The beginning of the class was technique, but even the technique training got my heart rate up there. Then we did the circuit in two teams of three. We had to row for eight calories, do 12 reps of the overhead press thing, do 12 jumps onto a box (which was REALLY hard for me, again because of the lack-of-height thing) and then 12 reps of an abdominal exercise - for 15 minutes.

Oh my goodness, it was HARD. And because I'm so darned competitive, of course I had to keep up with the person from the other team who started when I did. This was close to impossible because he could row harder (given his much longer legs and arms), so I was always working to catch up. I think he took longer breaks between exercises than I did, though, and we finished very close to the same position.

I'm just so darn competitive - and at the same time, I don't want to be bad at something! I can laugh at myself, sure, but I prefer to just "get it" on the first try. So it was a bit humbling - just like my mountain bike experience with co-workers.

So, it won't really make me cross. In fact, I think I will probably go back and do it again. New workouts are good, and it's nice to have a competitive element so I don't get lazy.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The craziest weekend ever

I followed Paul van Dyk down the west coast: Thursday night in Portland, Friday night in San Francisco, Saturday night in Los Angeles.

I slept maybe a total of six hours a night - most of it in either my car or a rental car.

I danced for, I'm going to say, 18 hours over the three nights.

(My knees feel worse than they did after the Ironman. Must be a sign of aging.)

It was absolutely incredible. Oh my goodness.

I didn't work out, but the dancing is probably enough. Plus, when I stay up all night, I get a stomachache and I can't eat much. My weight was 137.6 this morning - yay!

So if you don't know who Paul van Dyk is, it's TIME. Plus, a lot of his music is great to run to - around 120 to 130 beats per minute, which makes me run slightly faster than I usually do but not an all-out sprint.

See, I haven't lost my way. :-) My endurance training is just being used for something else now - partying with friends and connecting even closer with my hubby.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fight, not flight

I wrote a few weeks ago about hitting some guy in the head at a club, and how I had no instinct whatsoever to run away.

So today, I was leading the strenuous Cascade ride (18-21 mph on flats), and some jerks in a white SUV pull up alongside me and another rider. Obviously with malicious intent, and with both the front passenger and the back passenger windows rolled down, they yell something obnoxious. As is always the case with drive-bys, you can never hear what the words are, but I was definitely startled and my bike wavered a bit. I could hear them laughing out the window as they passed.

Thom, the other rider, immediately picks up the pace; there's a red light ahead and the car will surely get stopped there. I follow suit, but Thom really has the power when he wants so he pulls away. I yell, "Get 'em with that water bottle!" - which has some orange stuff in it, so I know it would be nasty in the car.

Thom nearly reaches them when they veer to the left and make what was obviously an unscheduled left turn. We cross the street together.

And you know what? I was disappointed. I was secretly hoping they'd come back.

Isn't that ridiculous? What in the world could I do, a small girl on a bike, with only a water bottle filled with plain water to threaten them with. They've got a humongous vehicle able to crush body parts and carbon-fiber with the slightest glance. But I wanted to fight. BRING IT ON.

Where did this come from? It's so natural, so instinctual, but at the same time, I'm not sure it was always there. Is this some kind of confidence brought on by weight loss, athletic accomplishments, higher self-esteem?

Anyway, I hope it doesn't get me in trouble.

In other news, my weight has been below 140 for three days now, so I'm calling my "140 by Sept. 27" goal completely met. And to celebrate, I ate a brownie and french fries. Oh my goodness. I'm skipping dinner.

(Okay, I'm not. I'm going back to a healthy plan and will have a salad with low-fat protein. But skipping meals is so tempting when I make mistakes. Then again, so is over-eating and starting over tomorrow. Both are really sucky solutions.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

I also love riding my bike

There is something so delicious about a Fall day. I knew that no matter what the weather, I was going to ride today - but I was super-happy to find that it was sunny and cool, absolutely perfect riding weather.

Unfortunately, I'm feeling a little off - I have a sore throat. It's not fair. I am incredibly healthy, right - but when I was in college, I could stay out all night and do it again the next night. Why can't I do it anymore? (I know why: I'm not 19 anymore. Grr. Youth really is wasted on the young.)

So I planned a route that had great downhills and not so difficult climbs - 18 miles of fun. I hit 46.9 on the first big descent and 45 something on the second. Yum!

I've really been enjoying leading the Cascade rides. I always feel a tiny bit stressed before the ride - after all, I have to be the LEADER, so I have to be strong and in control and up the hills first, etc - but once I'm going, it just feels good. And if I weren't the leader, it's entirely possible that the lure of my computer, finishing work, or talking to co-workers would take precedence over my exercise.

Nah, who am I kidding. If I didn't ride, I'd just go to the gym or go out for a run. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I heart dancing

I always know it's going to be a good night when I bounce out of work on Friday - and when I left the building Friday evening, I was already excited, and the babysitter wasn't even coming until 8:30 p.m.

But first, I had a stop to make - at my local gym (read: near the house, not near work) to meet a couple of friends who asked me to teach them my strength-training routine.

I was happy to help them, but I didn't realize until I was almost done that I *really* liked it. I mean, I got to lift, too - for the first time in probably six or eight months, I lifted three times in one week! (This has been my goal, but not often accomplished). But what was even more fun was teaching them new exercises they hadn't tried before, and helping them do the routine with the correct body positioning so as to avoid injuries. Oh my goodness, I see so many people at the gym doing things that will inevitably cause harm, so proper form is just so important. And sometimes it's just nice to have someone else check you out - the other day, Nancy saw me doing part of my strength training routine and commented that I needed to pull my elbows in or something, and she was totally right. It's helpful to lift with friends!

So anyway, hopefully I didn't annoy my friends by being bouncy and happy, but I actually had a blast teaching them what I do. I tend to do a lot of combination exercises - overhead press with a squat on a Bosu ball, for example, is one of my favorites - and they all work upper and lower body at the same time, plus balance. I hate when people say, "Oh, I'm such a klutz" or "I'm just clumsy." I used to say those things, too, and they're just not true. I may not be naturally the most agile person in the world, but agility can be learned and is not a function of body weight!

After the strength training, I got ready to go out. And I was so happy to find that my latest purchase from had arrived! I'm trying to not wear pink every single day, so I bought this shirt that looked cute online - it's blue and yellow. Oh my goodness, I just love it! Here's a picture of me and John at the club (taken by someone I pseudo-met online; he posts to the forums, and I figured out who he was by his posts and the fact that we both have attended the same shows recently).

Anyway, it's a little hard to tell, but the straps of the shirt are gold chains. Too fun!

The music was incredible - and amazingly, the club had no cover charge for 21+! And water, which is all I drank all night, was a reasonable $2 per bottle! So not only was this my best night out at a club in Seattle, it was also the cheapest.

And no, there was no trouble, so I didn't get into any fistfights with drunk idiots. In fact, people were pretty respectful and there was actually room to dance all night. Nice nice nice.

We saw two DJs: MarQ, who opened for George Acosta. So we pretty much danced from around 10:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., when the club shut down. We were (just about) the first on the dance floor and the last to leave it; I only took one break from dancing to drink some water, and then returned to front and center.

I should have been tired, but I couldn't sleep. We got in bed around 3:30 and dozed until 7:30, then got up for a seven-mile run. It was actually better than I thought it would be - we were slow (11-minute miles, I think), but I didn't care.

When John and I finally crashed, the kids were staying over his parents' house and we were supposed to have date night again. Lucky us! But...instead, we started napping at 5:30 p.m. and didn't wake up until 7 a.m. :-) Thirteen and a half hours of sleep - I think that's a record for me. Seriously. I don't think I've slept that long even when sick! (Then again, maybe I did when I was pregnant.)

Anyway, all that dancing and skipping dinner last night made my weight today a lovely 139.4, and I fit into my smallest jeans with no problem. So goal #1: get to 140 again has been met, and I'm thinking about goal #2. I am considering focusing on mini-milestones - like, by October 19, when I go to Scottsdale for the 20/20 weight loss program conference thing, I should be 138 consistently (meaning, three days in a row my weight is 137.5 to 138.5). Then by the Seattle half marathon, maybe 136....then January 1, still 136 (holidays are a horrible time to try to lose weight, I'll be more successful if I realize that and plan to maintain).

Yeah, I think I'll do that. And I'll keep dancing all night every few weeks, too. I'm sure it helps. :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feeling hot!

I've learned a few things since finishing Ironman Canada and NOT setting a new endurance goal. Remember, last year after I did my half-Iron, I did another half-Iron, then three marathons in a span of eight weeks, then pretty much went into Ironman training. So it's been a long time since I haven't had an endurance goal.

First, it's SOOOO much easier to keep my weight in check - and even down. I mean, I knew that, but it's another thing entirely to experience it. To manage eating 1,300 to 1,500 calories a day and feel just fine - including not depriving myself (yesterday I got my half of a cappuccino chocolate chip muffin, yummy yummy yummy) - is awesome.

Then, it's so great to wear heels again. Today I've got a pair that are just over three inches high. I love feeling tall. During my heavy running seasons, I really can't wear heels without pain in my feet and legs. Now, no problem!

And finally, the most important thing. I feel great. I know my weight isn't much different (140.2 this morning) from a few weeks ago - but the little bit does show changes. For example: on Tuesday I wore a new sweater that I picked out with Nancy and Wendy a couple of weeks ago. When I tried it on (a medium), it fit, but I sort of wanted a large. I felt like I looked a little fat in it. The store didn't have a large, so I bought it anyway. Well, wearing it on Tuesday, I couldn't see the fat at all that I saw when I bought it! And my tightest jeans fit, and I just feel like I look good.

I don't actually feel any healthier, faster, stronger, or anything like that. I just feel body-confident. I definitely still have weight to lose and physical things that could be improved upon, but it's so nice to feel good about myself.

This is something to remember.

I always thought I would lose weight and then be able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. After all, it always seems like I see thin people doing just that.

Maybe it's true for them. It's definitely not for me. I'm always going to walk that line between fat and thin. Sometimes I'll feel better about myself than other times; regardless, it's always going to be effort to stay on this side of the line.

And what I need to remember, and focus on, is that it's totally worth it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hmm...nothing much to say

It's definitely harder to blog without a specific athletic goal in mind. So, here are a few little tidbits about my diet/exercise life lately:

-- It's really hard to start running. It takes me at least four miles to warm up - and since I'm only running six to seven at most, it seems like most of my run is spent thinking, "Wow. Did I ever like running?"

-- Cycling is much more fun again. I went out with Jessi on Saturday and really enjoyed our ride. I took her on my favorite downhills. :-) So of course we had to climb back up, since we did a loop, but I know ways to avoid climbing super-steep stuff when I'm out for fun versus training.

-- Even on Saturday when I rode with Jessi, I was still sore from my mountain-biking experience.

-- Diet is difficult, but not impossible. Unfortunately, now that I'm at my normal weight (around 140), every day I wake up and I'm still 140. I know I have to step it up and really be diligent about my eating if I want to drop lower than this...but it's so hard.

-- I did eat out a number of times this weekend, though, and had dessert one night (mango and ginger gelato with chocolate sauce...yum) and I ate good things like bagels, and my weight's not up. So I can maintain this weight fairly easily if I want to - I just need to eat healthy most of the time and let myself have treats infrequently. Of course, I want to be lighter, so that's actually pointless.

-- I have said this a zillion times, but it's worth repeating: if I eat something carbalicious in the morning - like a bagel, muffin, coffee cake, et cetera - it doesn't have to mean that the rest of the day is ruined. But the rest of the day does work like this: I'm very hungry and much more tempted to continue to eat unhealthy. So if I can fight the hunger all morning and temptation and eat a large, high-protein low-fat salad at lunchtime, I'll get through the delicious yet poor choice for breakfast. But if I make a better choice at breakfast, there will be no fight all morning and I'll remain on track all day.

-- For the right foods once in a while, it's worth getting off track and having to fight to get back on.

-- Seven pounds is a dramatic difference - not so much in how I look, but most certainly in how I feel. I'm fairly certain people who know me can't tell the difference between 147 and 140 on me.
But there's a level of self-confidence that comes from being at a good weight. I wish I could say I felt that confidence all the time, but honestly, I don't.

-- I have an extra motivation for dropping a few pounds: the 20/20 office has asked me to go to Arizona to speak at a conference. I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to say, but I'm sure it's something like, "Look at my "before" picture and look at me today! Amazing, huh!" Which, of course, it is, but it's also a ton of hard work and dedication to the cause. I'm not going to say the 20/20 program is a miracle, but I'm happy to say it provides the right tools for a motivated person to get the weight loss done.

-- Meal-tracking is the single most important thing a person can do to lose weight. I will have to remind myself of this the next time I fall off the meal-tracking wagon. For now, I'm so happy I can get FitDay on my Smartphone!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ow ow ow mountain biking is painful!

But before I get to that, I'll talk about the Cascade strenuous ride I "led" yesterday. (I say "led" because I was the official ride leader, but the slowest rider in the group. So I was actually in the back doing sweep, with a guy going through the certification process in front.)

I totally kept up without an issue on the downhills and flats, as usual; at one point, I was slow starting from a light, and had to push at 25, 26 mph to catch back up, and it actually felt good and fun.

Uphill is always another story. But they didn't have to wait too long for me. And man, it is nice to ride those hills with my road bike instead of the tri bike - the compact double makes a lovely difference on my knees.

On one of the hills, though, for some reason I was third up out of six! That felt amazing. Of course, it took me the next 5 minutes of downhill to recover from the push.

So, mountain biking. The guys from work have been bugging me for a couple of years to go with them, and teasing me about being a roadie. I had some excuses, of course: I couldn't afford an injury that would impact my training, etc. But yesterday, there was no excuse. So I borrowed a mountain bike and went out with them.

I told one of my roadie/mountain friends where we were going. He immediately said, "Bad idea for your first time!" He explained it started out with a 400 foot elevation gain in half a mile, then was all twisty turny and tight paths.

But I'd already told the guys yes, so it was too late to back out. Chalk that up to one of my many personality flaws.

I didn't even know how to shift the bike when I got on it - and I felt like it was a little big for me. It was also weird not to be clipped in - I don't have SPDs on any of my bikes, so I didn't have the right cleats for those pedals.

So once I figured out how to shift, we started up. The beginning of the climb was kind of fun, but then there were some sandy and really bumpy parts. I ended up having to walk the bike part of the way, but I found I could actually run with it, so I didn't feel that bad. Plus my friend had warned me I'd be walking.

Once we got up, the paths we were on are on a plateau, so it's up and down, but minimally. I found I could ride comfortably when the trail was open and flat, of course - and I was surprised at how well the bike handled in dirt and over rocks - but I felt much more freaked out when we were on the tighter parts of the trail, where branches grabbed my legs from both sides and tree roots came out of nowhere and threatened to toss me over the handlebars.

I eventually kind of got the hang of it for a while, and could ride over some stuff. Riding over tree branches and bumps was definitely satisfying - as was climbing all the way up a small hill. Downhill was terrifying, and some of the bigger obstacles caused me to get off the bike and lift it over.

I can't really say it was fun. Apparently you're not supposed to sit on a mountain bike as much as I was, so let's just say I was in pain from the saddle from about halfway through the ride until the end, and today it's a constant annoyance. I also got tired towards the end and did stupid things twice (not sure what), resulting in falls off the bike.

Oh, and one time I was sure I could make it over a tree root, but instead I slammed the front tire into it, jamming my forearm into my elbow or something. Anyway, my elbow hurts. My wrists do, too.

Coming down was pretty bad, too - it had started to get dark, and the steeper and sandier parts were really scary. Fortunately, the co-worker in front of me told me where I should just get off the bike and walk, so I obeyed.

There were a few times when the leader of the group offered me a shortcut or an easier way to do something; of course my regular personality flaw caused me to say, "No shortcuts!" as much as I might have liked to make it a little easier. I just had to do it all, even if I fell and hurt myself.

I guess I will do it again sometime. After all, the first time is always the worst. And I could tell in some moments how it could be fun.

But in the meantime, OW!!!!!

Oh, and my weight this morning: 140.6, despite dinner at 8:20 p.m. at Jack in the Box, of all horrible places. I was hungry. :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9:32 pace average?

My darling friend Kathy is completely obsessed with her running pace, and completely certain that she's way slower than she is.

So Kathy, Sarah and I went out yesterday morning on a 6-mile loop. Later, when Kathy mapped it online, it was at least 6.1 miles (I always think that when I map something online, I err on the side of being low - it definitely works that way when I map bike routes).

We were running for 58:11 - which works out to a 9:32 pace average.

During the run, I felt like I was working harder than I really wanted to, but I wasn't sure if that was laziness at 5:45 a.m. or tiredness from the Ironman still. In any case, I felt like the pace was fast.

When I start breathing heavily, my lungs and chest feel all tight and kind of achy. I figure that's the remains of the Ironman. Otherwise, my muscles feel back to normal.

But you know, I believe we averaged a 9:32. And I feel really, really good about that. Because if that's what I can two weeks outside of Ironman, imagining that next Spring I could focus on getting faster and qualifying for the Boston marathon isn't really out of the question, is it?

To qualify for Boston at my age, I need to do a 3:40 marathon - which averages out to an 8:23 pace.

That's a huge goal. Possibly bigger than the Ironman. And I won't even start for months, until I drop some more weight (holding steady at 141 this week, yay!).

But maybe. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Did you catch Britney last night?

Oh man. I wouldn't want to be prancing around in my undies on stage and TV if I looked like that. But come to think of it, I kind of do, in terms of not being super-toned and thin right now...although I'll give her credit for not having stretch marks after two babies. I can't say the same about me!

Anyway, my weight last week at this time was 147 - the highest I've seen it in a long time. (Of course, I tend not to weigh myself when I know it's high.)

This morning? 141.4.

How did this happen? It's so simple. I won't say it's easy, because it's totally not, but it's just so simple it's almost hard to believe.

-- I re-started meal tracking.

-- I'm eating meals and snacks that are healthy and properly portioned. I did eat out three times this weekend, though, and my eating out included Phad Thai (noodles! peanuts! calories!), bacon, eggs, and cinnamon roll french toast (no need to say anything here), and Korean beef skewers (yummy, but I'm unsure how to meal-track that).

-- I'm not restricting carbs much (obviously) but if I did, my weight loss would be even more dramatic.

-- I'm exercising like a normal person: an hour a day, five days a week.

-- I am NOT giving up half-and-half in my coffee.

Today, though, at this lower weight (still overweight for my height though - my max weight in the "normal" category is 141), is where I really need to watch it.

I often want to "celebrate" being at a lower weight by...eating garbage. Instead, I need to continue to focus on these very simple rules.

Why is something so simple so difficult?

Friday, September 07, 2007

FitDay is my friend

I am fighting the desire to set a new exercise goal. They keep swimming around in my head. How about a 1:50 half marathon? How about a 50-mile ultra? Maybe I should do the Black Diamond half-Ironman at the end of the month?

No. How about I lose eight pounds and get my weight to a comfortable 135?

Because honestly, at 143, I am officially overweight and I feel it. Half my clothes don't feel or look good when I put them on. So that's that. I'm done with being on the edge of fat.

I'm on my third day of full meal-tracking again with FitDay. It would be 4, but I didn't track yesterday because I was offline all day. I was okay on calories, though. And my weight shows it: I've been dropping daily, as I always do when I get back on the wagon.

I'm also only exercising for fun, and trying not to stress when life happens and I can't fit it in. After all - if I can't fit it in one day, I probably will still have exercised five times during that week anyway!

I wrote a half marathon training plan for John, and I'll be running with him (and Camille in a stroller) on Saturdays. I'm definitely looking forward to that - I love fall running!

Oh, and I went out on the Wednesday strenuous bike ride. It was tough, but I pretty much hung in there. And riding my road bike again feels wonderful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Running without a goal

I met the girls this morning for a run (and guess when it started to rain? Sometime after we got back to the club, ha ha!), and found that running was easier today than yesterday. Perhaps it was the time of day - I definitely prefer an early-morning run.

I'm pretty sure I was close to my normal pace. We went out for about 50 minutes and did a couple of big hills. And then - I actually lifted weights! Woo-hoo! First time in months! I went down in weight so I could complete the full sets I wanted to do. I feel fine now, but I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow.

So...I'm feeling back to normal, physically. But it feels weird not to have a next goal. At this time last year, I was still planning to do another triathlon before the season ended and I knew I was going to do Ironman Canada. Now, I'm not sure what to update my blog header with. I'm not sure I'm going to do the Disney World Goofy challenge thing (the half-marathon one day, full the next), because I'm not sure I feel like dragging the family across the country so I can run. We can go to Disneyland in California instead.

John wants me to calm down and just exercise, so I guess I'll try to focus on weight loss (my weight is up 7 pounds higher than the maximum at which I'm comfortable). But...pretty soon, I'm going to have to think of what's next for me.

Maybe climb Mt. Rainier?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to the beginning

When I first started running, I ran on the treadmill because I was afraid that if I ran outside, I'd run too far and not have enough energy to make it back. (Like I'd collapse on the side of the road and not be able to walk...not exactly logical, but I did feel that way.)

I haven't done any formal exercise since the Ironman. Part of the reason I didn't before now was that it's hard for me to do anything "light" - I go hard or stay home. So...I stayed home.

But I was going a little stir-crazy, and this evening, John said to me, "What do you want to do right now?" He could tell I was restless. I suggested we go out for a little run - Camille can go in the stroller, Gabriel on his bike, and John and I could jog.

Well, we went out for just 30 minutes...and it was kind of hard. And at one point on our loop, I actually wondered if I was going to be able to run all the way back.

I was.

But I'm back to the beginning. It's amazing how much a big race takes out of you - so much more than a big training day.

By the way: John wants you to know he's not a weenie, even though my description of the story at the club may have made him seem so (according to him). The story was about me and my reaction - he definitely doesn't need me to stick up for him, I just wanted to!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Don't mess with an Ironman!

So, Thursday night, John and I went out to a pretty small club to see a pretty big DJ - #2 in the world right now, Armin van Buuren.

I was a little anxious because of how small this club is - I think this guy could sell out a place three times as large - but hey - how often do you get to see someone this big in such an intimate setting?

I was so elated to be going. Pretty much I was almost literally jumping up and down - and when we got there, I had one drink: vodka and Red Bull, my dancing favorite, and I was on the dance floor for the opening acts. (Remember this later: one drink only, at least three hours before the incident I'm going to describe.)

Of course by the time Armin came on, the dance floor was PACKED. But people were being fairly well behaved, except for a handful of frat boy types in football jerseys. John spoke to security about one of them who kept knocking into me, and security removed him.

But then, more than halfway through Armin's set, I hear a scuffle behind me. John was behind me, not beside me, so I turn around and some guy takes a swing at John's head. The guy is screaming and swearing and people are moving away from him and John.

Without a conscious thought, I reach out and hit the guy (much taller than me, of course) in the forehead. "Get the **** away from him!" I yell. I tried to push myself between him and John, and the crazy guy's girlfriend or wife or whatever starts holding him back. He's yelling at John and I'm yelling back. "Get away! Don't you even look at him," I screamed and held my hand up to his eyes so he couldn't see John anymore. Why that? No idea. Like I said, not a conscious thought except this: "I'm an Ironman. Don't you dare mess with me."

And you know, I felt that way. I felt completely charged up - willing to fight. I couldn't wait for him to take a swing at me, because I was ready and was going to fight back. Not that John wouldn't, but I was going to protect what is mine and not let some jerk who had too much to drink hurt my man. In fact, I almost felt disappointed when he didn't take me on.

He backed down, and later apologized. Apparently he has some anger-management issues. And possibly some closeted homosexual tendencies: the reason he got so angry at John? He was behind John and pushing to get closer to the stage when John turned around and said, "If you're going to hug my ass, you should at least ask for my phone number."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Do it again

Here's some song lyrics:

Oh my God, what have I done? (Do it again)
All I wanted was a little fun (Do it again)
Got a brain like bubble gum (Do it again)
Blowing up my cranium (Do it again)

- The Chemical Brothers - Do it again

This is how I feel! The further away from Sunday I get, the more I want to do it again.

But not in 2008. I've got a lot to do first - and I think it would make a pretty fun summer in '08 to focus on sprints and being as fast as I could be. But in '09, I'm thinking Coeur d'Alene. I like the timing of the race - late June, so you have the rest of the summer off if you want it. I think the family will like that.

I'm also going to convince my hubby to start swimming. He's back into cycling, he's started running and has discovered it's actually fun - now it's time to convince him that big muscular guys can too swim, and all he needs is some lessons and practice.

I'm not sure he's going to want to do an Ironman in '09 with me - I'm also not sure that's a great idea, given that our kids will be six and nine and still need us around a lot - but getting him more into it lets us share something that for a long time has been only mine.

I haven't done any exercise yet since coming home, but I am eating fairly healthfully. I've watched my morning weight drop a pound a day since coming back, too. And this morning I woke up without feeling any soreness in my muscles. I'm going to take a few days more off and resume working out next week.

I'm also working on some additional thoughts about my training and the course that I hope could be helpful to folks (Jessi and Jess!) who plan to do IMC next year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ironman Canada Race Report

I swam. I biked. I ran. I finished. My numbers look like this:

Swim: 1:28:34
T1: 9:00
Bike: 7:45:25
T2: 11:00
Run: 5:43:19

Pre-Race: The night before/morning of

After checking my special-needs bags once more and mixing my Carbo Pro/Gleukos solution (which was a little tough, because I'd gotten a new container so I wouldn't have issues at the border with bringing a large container of an unknown white powdery substance to anothe country, but the new container didn't include a scoop! So I had to guess at how much to put in), I took two Tylenol PM and went to sleep.

It was 7:30 p.m. The Tylenol PM made me groggy, but I didn't actually fall asleep until maybe 9 p.m. Exactly as I'd visualized, though, I woke up just a few minutes before my alarm was to go off. I turned off the clock and procrastinated, cuddled up in John's arms.

At 4:50, I got out of bed. I wasn't tired at all anymore, nor was I freaking out. I also wasn't the least bit hungry, but I knew I needed to eat. I hopped in the shower, then got dressed. John left to go pick up some coffee for me, and I sat at the desk eating my bagel, turkey, and cheddar cheese. I also planned on eating a Pop-Tart, but it was all I could do to finish the reasonable food, so I threw the Pop-Tarts in my dry-clothes bag and figured I'd bring it with me.

Pre-race goofiness

The plan was to walk the mile to the transition area from our hotel, but given that my shoulder had been bothering me and I needed to carry five full water bottles, I didn't want to do that anymore. I asked John to drive me and Danielle, and he drove us as close as we could get. Roads were blocked off everywhere; it was dumb of me to think we could drive all the way up. But it was better than nothing.

We dropped off our bike and run special-needs bags and got in a humongous line for body-marking. Luckily for us, a volunteer who wasn't assigned to body-marking got an extra marker and came halfway down the line to near where we were standing and started marking people. We joked about how we lost our chance for a podium start - if we'd stayed with the regular lines, the body-markers were having people stand on a little stool to get marked. So we didn't get a podium start or finish. But we didn't wait in a huge line for very long, either.

We then headed to our bikes. I started putting my water bottles on the bike and realized I made a mistake: the bottle that was supposed to be in my bike special-needs bag was still with me. There was no way I could make it back to the drop off and find my bag, so I went with plan B: instead of carrying two Gleukos-Carbo Pro bottles and one bottle of plain water, I would carry only Gleukos-Carbo Pro bottles and just have plain water in my aero bottle. I was annoyed at my mistake, but I let it go immediately.

I put the Clif Nectar and Mojo bars I wanted for the bike in my little food box thing (still in their wrappers, but the wrappers open). I dropped off the clear plastic jacket I wanted for the bike in case it rained in my swim-to-bike bag and was done.

Danielle came over and we headed for the Porta-Potty line. It was huge, of course, so she got the brilliant idea to go over to the finishers' area and use those instead. Perfect - we got to walk for about three minutes, then all the Porta-Potties were empty. No waiting in line!

We then got our wetsuits on, got our caps, goggles and earplugs out and put our dry stuff away. We dropped off the dry clothes bags and headed down to the beach. It was 6:40 a.m. - our timing was just perfect. We left the hotel at 5:30 and had exactly the right amount of time to get our stuff done, but not so much that we had time to freak out or anything.

We stood on the beach and watched the pros take off at 6:45. The water looked a little more choppy than Lake Sammamish, but not bad. Around 6:55, Danielle gave me huge hug and disappeared. I looked for her again, but I have no idea where she went. She told me later she thought I wanted to be alone to collect my thoughts.

Honestly, I had no thoughts to collect. I think the best piece of advice I got - and I got it over and over again, from so many different people - was to stay in the moment. I looked at my watch. I knew in less than five minutes I'd be swimming. I walked into the water up to my calves. I wanted to go deeper to get used to the water - it felt perfect, though, cool but not cold - but people were so spread out and I didn't want to be in the middle of the crowd. There were also a ton of people still standing on the beach behind me.

The Swim
I was a bit startled when the cannon went off. There was no countdown, and my watch already said 7 a.m. The water was shallow for a ways out, so I followed the lead of the athletes in front of me and walked through the water until it was about waist-deep.

From the very first stroke, I couldn't put my face in the water. I coughed and choked and started doing sidestroke - a nice sidestroke with a long glide, but still. I knew I couldn't do sidestroke the entire way and have a successful day (though I almost certainly could have completed the swim that with tired legs and a sore neck from not using both sides of my body evenly). So I tried again: I put my face in the water and immediately breathed in. Obviously that didn't work.

By now the current the other swimmers were creating had helped to pull me along enough so I could see buoy #20 - the last buoy you pass on the way back to shore. I wasn't even to #1 yet. I prayed that they didn't go in order, but instead were randomly numbered. (Nope, they went in order.)

I tried yet again to swim, and still couldn't put my face in the water. I did a lifeguard's crawl stroke with my head out of the water, but felt ridiculous - no one else was swimming like that. Plus, that would hurt my neck, too - which wouldn't contribute to a great bike ride. I looked over at another girl who was struggling. "I don't think I can do this," I told her. "I don't think I can either," she said.

Then I saw a guy grab on to a kayak, and the kayaker raised a red flag. I guess that means he was done. I thought, huh. Why don't I swim near the kayakers - on the inside of the buoys - instead of the outside where I am. So I started to swim sideways across the remaining swimmers towards the kayaks...and in doing that, somehow remembered how to swim and put my face in the water, forced myself to breathe out, and started going.

When I was at the first buoy, I checked my watch. Drat! I'd failed to press "start" twice, so it was still waiting for me to start it. But I saw the time: 7:10. 10 minutes to get to the first buoy. I did some quick math: if there are 20 buoys and it takes 10 minutes to get to each, that's 200 minutes, which is more than 3 hours. I won't make the swim cutoff.

Now that I was actually swimming (still to the left of the buoys rather than inside), I decided I'd check my pace periodically between buoys, assuming they were evenly spaced. Well, they must have been - it actually took me about three or four minutes between each. So that time works out to be a lot better. I knew with that pace I'd make it.

However, hanging back and then panicking put me in the weird position of needing to pass A LOT of people. But by now everything had changed: I was calm, comfortable, and in a rhythm. I swam between people, over someone's legs, around people, and pretty much whatever I had to fo to get to open space and go my pace. I touched a lot of feet and hands, and for that I'm sorry, but I know I didn't hurt anyone, which is more than I can say for the person who punched me in the nose. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it hurt for a bit.

I also go kicked a few times; that must be what people instinctively do or are taught to do when someone touches their feet. Trust me, I didn't want to touch any feet - it just happens.

When I got to the first turn, I was startled by the sight of the scuba diver watching me. I mean, I knew they'd be there, but they looked so funny just lying on the bottom of the lake, looking up!
It was longer than I thought it would be to the second turnaround, but by the time I got there, I was happy because I knew I'd finish - I'd checked my watch, and saw that I was still on pace to do about 1:30, given that the second turn is more than halfway back.

My wetsuit had never given me a problem with chafing throughout my training, this season or last. But for some reason, today it decided to chafe my neck. I kind of stopped partway through to try to fix it, but I didn't. I wondered if it was chafing because I was only unilaterally breathing on the right (where it chafed) and not bilaterally breathing.

I actually started bilateral breathing on the way back, but decided I was happier just breathing on one side, so I went back to that.

I wasn't sure when I should stop swimming; people ahead of me seemed to be standing and wading through waist-deep water. But I know it's faster to swim in that than try to run, so I kept swimming until absolutely everyone around me was standing, then I stood too. I walked, though, to get out of the water - I wasn't sure if I'd be dizzy or what. As it was, I wasn't - but it gave me a chance to get my wetsuit down to my waist. I kept my pink cap on longer than I usually do so I could be identified in pictures more easily.

The wetsuit peelers had a harder time getting my wetsuit off then I expected - I must have not unzipped it all the way. But it was all good, and I got my cap, goggles and earplugs off. Someone handed me my swim-to-bike bag and I ran to the changing tent.

It was chaos in the change tent - tons of people in there. I found a spot and opened my bag on a chair. I found my towel and tried to dry off some, then got my bike clothes on. As I was dressing, next to me was a woman who had had a double mastectomy. I was in awe of her for a whole bunch of reasons - surviving cancer, attempting the Ironman, and not being ashamed about her body.

I managed to get dressed fairly easily, though I had to remove my jersey the first time I put it on and try again - it was all twisted around me - and then I calmly put all my stuff in the bag and asked a volunteer to put sunscreen on me. She did, then took my bag, and I was off to retrieve my bike.

The Bike

Initially I went the wrong way to get my bike, but some volunteers directed me the right way. I managed to get my bike with its two bottles behind my saddle under the bike rack and started running with it to the mounting area. As soon as I got there and swung my leg over my bike, I knocked both bottles out. A zillion people were watching, so I quickly picked them up and replaced them and said out loud, "Let's hope that's the only time today I do that!" (And it was.)

I took off on Main Street and got passed, passed, passed, which I expected and it didn't bother me much. I saw a woman I know from the Pro Club and marveled at her speed, and then Sister Madonna Buder passed me, too! She is 77 years old. I was like, wow. I suck. But I just said to myself, I'm going to ride my ride. I'll likely be seeing a lot of these people passing me now later on during the run.

Once you get out of town, you're on the road that goes around a lake - the lake you run the length of later. There are a couple of short little hills, but I felt great and just did them. I found that I was able to stay in the aerobars much longer than I do when I ride at home - which leads me to believe I need to find places to ride that are less urban so I can stay in there and practice more. In the city, I just want to be closer to my brakes. The first "climb," McLean Creek Road, was no big deal at all. And I knew that once it was over, I had a long flat section and a steep downhill as a reward. That's the thing about this course: every hard part has a great reward...except one, and I'll get to that later.

So I'm playing tag with a handful of people, and it's near impossible to stay three bike lengths apart and still ride the pace I wanted to go. So that was tough, and it felt like the course marshalls on the motorcycles were always near me. They didn't say anything specifically to me, but they did to a guy who was passing - who threw a little fit. I was like, dude - you just gave them a reason to give you a penalty next time they see you. If all they're going to do is talk, nod and smile.

The course really is largely downhill for the first 40 miles, and it felt good - downhill or flat. On the flats, I kept the bike in an easy gear and spun fast, on the downhills, I put it in the big ring and just turned the pedals. I stayed aero for most of this part, with the occasional stretch or shoulder shrug.

I stopped for a potty break around mile 20. I had had to go since T1, but not too bad, and I knew I'd be making a few stops at least so I wanted to wait. A volunteer held my bike while I took care of business. So cool - no worrying about dumping my aero bottle!

I had been drinking the plain water in my aero bottle, plus sipping my Gleukos-Carbo Pro mix. But I actually felt like eating, so I was also munching on pieces of Clif Mojo and Nectar bars. At each aid station - about 10 miles between each - I took a bottle of water, poured it into my aero bottle, and tossed the empty bottle. The volunteers made these handoffs work so well - I had no issue whatsoever with handoffs.

Maybe 25 miles in I saw my car pass me by. "Hey, that's my car!" I said to no one in particular. My car pulled over up ahead and John, Charlie (Danielle's husband) and Gabriel jumped out, but John didn't grab the camera at first and I flew by. He got a picture of my back.

The next time I saw them, I asked, "Where's Danielle?" John told me she was about 40 minutes back. Okay, good - she's not going to catch me anytime soon. I wanted her to catch me, and in fact, expected it, but I didn't want her to catch me until Yellow Lake. That way, we could finish the downhill part together and run together. Since you can't draft, I didn't want to ride near her for the full ride - she rides faster anyway, and I didn't want to even look like we were cheating.

All smiles early on

John and the kids drove ahead me a handful of times, each time getting out of the car and taking pictures. In Osoyoos, the course turns and you begin the climb up to Richter Pass. I thought the timing mat for the 40-mile mark would be right here at the turn; it wasn't, so I checked my speedometer. Average speed to here was 17.8. (Note: if you look online, it will say something like 15 something. That's because the mile 40 timing mat is actually at mile 43 - 3 miles into the Richter climb. And the official time includes my time spent in the potty.)

I started climbing very calmly, keeping my heart rate and power output fairly low. Even still, I was passing people immediately. That was kind of weird - people who had passed me earlier were now slowing down. When I saw John on Richter Pass, I motioned like mad to the woman just in front of me, that I was about to pass. I wanted to say, "Take pictures of HER!" It was Sister Madonna again. John didn't get my frantic motioning, but he did take a bunch of pictures of me, and you can see in them that I'm passing her. Sure, passing a 77-year-old isn't much of a victory, but man, she's hard-core, and I'm proud to share a course with her.

Check out how hard-core Sister Madonna is!

So the first section of Richter was easy. I said to the guy next to me, "Where's the hill?" He laughed and said, "Just around that corner." I was ready for it. Each stair-step was shorter than the last, though possibly steeper. Either way, it didn't matter - no section of it was as hard as Lakemont. And though I definitely can't say that I could spin the entire way up, I wasn't having to mash the pedals to make it happen.

The rollers begin immediately after Richter - you get a nice downhill, then you're climbing again. I got two of them over with when I saw a sign that read, "Nine bitches (rollers) ahead." Hmm. I thought there were seven, and I already did two of them? Oh well, whatever.

I can see why people don't love the rollers because it's hard to get a rhythm. It kind of was - some of them required my easiest gear to ascend, and they all deserved hard gears to descend. But this is where it got weird: sometimes, when the road looked downhill, I was struggling to keep going at 11 or 12 mph. I figured maybe this is what people call a false flat and I was really going uphill.

But once I got back to town and got some perspective, I've learned that the wind picked up when I was around mile 60 and was harsh. You pass a farm or something called "Windy Valley" on the way, and I was like, "Yeah, it is windy." But I wasn't sure how to equate wind with my lack of performance. I still felt good - little pains were coming and going, like a pain in the top of my right foot (the same place I had a cortisone shot to fix, and it was fixed...until now, when I suspect it's un-fixed) and a pain in my left hamstring. And of course the usual shoulder, neck, and back tiredness that comes from both climbing and living in aerobars. Nothing was a big deal, though.

It seemed like forever to get to Keremeos, where you turn to do this out-and-back part. Danielle and I had not driven this part, since it seemed relatively flat anyway and we were more eager to preview the hills. Well, it got me worried right away. I was going 17-18 mph and I felt like it was all downhill. I didn't realize then that it was a tailwind pushing me ahead.

I knew Danielle was gaining on me, and I needed to stay focused to keep ahead. I got to the turnaround and got my special-needs bag. There wasn't much in it that I wanted; just a couple of Clif Nectar Bars. A volunteer was walking around with a box of stuff other cyclists had discarded from their bags and offering it to us. I didn't want anything, but I added my leftover stuff to her pile. I used the Porta-Potty again, then got back on the bike to head out of the out-and-back.

About a mile away, I saw Danielle. I figured I'd see her on the out-and-back, but not this soon. "You're almost catching me!" I yelled, and kept going. Seeing her kind of got my behind back in gear - and realizing the out-and-back really was close to flat, it was just the now-headwind keeping me down. I was happy when it was over. This was the part that just sucked, and had no fun downhill reward.

But by now, I was tired. And I knew that soon I'd start the climb to Yellow Lake. I couldn't remember what the exact mileage was of the lake, so at mile 84, when I was feeling kind of tired and low, I took some advice from the great Gordo Byrn and told myself I was going to quit, but not yet. I was going to quit in 7 miles, at 91. I thought maybe Yellow Lake was there.

Somewhere around here a guy on a mountain bike in board shorts and sneakers passed me. I thought it was cool, actually, but some spectators made some nasty comments about him. I was just thinking, see ya on the downhill, dude. And I did. There was also a man on a really old road bike with toe-clips. Hard-core.

Yellow Lake wasn't at mile 91, but I'd been climbing, so I knew it had to be fairly soon. Plus there were spectators lining the road cheering me on, and that sort of takes the pain away. Not as much as it did on Richter Pass, where there was less pain, but some. At mile 91, my new bargain was, "I'll quit at mile 95." And of course, by mile 95, I was flying downhill, passing tons of people and just enjoying standing up, stretching my legs, and going FAST.

But something happened at mile 100 - I was trying to shift of something, and I got my chain stuck by the small ring, between the smallest ring and the bike frame. It was totally stuck, and I didn't know how to fix it. Not 30 seconds after I pulled over, the bike mechanics showed up! In another 20 seconds they had fixed my problem, and I got back on the bike and continued to fly the rest of the way into town. There were some flat parts where I actually had to work (in other words, pedal), but mostly I just flew. It was a tiny bit discouraging to see all the runners going out - and some even coming back in! - but I just told myself, whatever. Race my race.

A volunteer took my bike and another handed me my bike-to-run bag and I ran into the change tent. The chaos of the morning was gone, and a volunteer quickly approached me and asked if I wanted help. I said sure and she helped sort my geat and find what I was going to wear. I had my shoes and socks off when I heard a screen and Danielle, arms open for a hug, came running in. PERFECT!!! We told the volunteer how we hoped it would work out this way: I'd swim faster, she'd bike faster, and we'd run together. Well, here it was - without either of us jeopardizing our races to be with each other, it just happened. Lucky us!

We dressed in our semi-matching outfits: me in a black tri top and the pink camo GymGirl from SkirtSports, Danielle in a pink tank top with the zebra-print GymGirl. And of course we had pink headbands and pink visors. Danielle decided not to wear her fuel belt, so I decided not to wear mine either. I took the food from the pocket and stuffed it into the two pockets in the GymGirl and the third pocket in "cleavage alley" of the tri top. Perfect! We both went to the Porta-Potty and took off.

The Run

Immediately when we started running, I felt some new pains - my inner quads on both legs. It sort of felt like the muscle was detached from the rest of my leg and was just hanging there. It didn't feel jiggly - it felt tight and separated. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It wasn't pleasant.

But it was runnable. We waved to everyone and learned something: even though we were both running in our regular running clothes, they seem to attract a ton of attention during an Ironman! Plus, it was so cool to hear people yelling our names, which were printed on our bibs. I kept thinking they were people we knew, but nope. Just people who can read. And yell.

Again, happy early on...sensing a theme here...

So the run was pretty cool out of town and the beginning of the lake road. Danielle was entertaining, singing and laughing. I didn't want to talk much for the first few miles; I was just trying to get into the rhythm of the run. I timed our miles, and they were just over 12 minutes, including walk breaks during the aid stations.

I had no desire whatsoever to eat. I knew I needed to, but I just didn't want to. I carried a little baggie filled with Sour Patch Kids, which I kind of munched on in order to make me thirsty in order to make me drink. I did drink water at every aid station, but by mile 4 I was realizing my lack of desire to eat would turn this run into a disaster if I didn't make myself have calories. So thereafter I took a cup of Gatorade - it was warm out, so drinking wasn't too annoying - and a cup of water.

We started seeing people we knew coming back the other way. It was fun to look at those athletes and guess what their finishing times would be - they were so impressive. And we kept on running. We each stopped at Porta-Potties a couple of times - which we deemed a good thing since it obviously meant we were hydrated.

But eventually, running got harder. We walked a hill somewhere in the first half, and it felt a lot better than running. And I started asking Danielle what she would think if I wanted to walk.
At first she said no way, we were going to run. It's funny how quickly goals you make when you're home and cozy and comfortable can get thrown out at the first sign of adversity. Run the marathon? WHATEVER.

It was all I could do to push on to the halfway point. The promise of interesting things in my special-needs bag kept me going.

But of course, when I got there, nothing looked interesting. I took my Terry bolero and put it on; it wasn't quite cool enough to need it, but I didn't want to tie it around my waist. I told Danielle I was going to walk back up the hill we descended to get to the special-needs station, and then when we got to the top, I said I just didn't want to run at all.

It was here that I had a little bit of a breakdown: I really just wanted to cry. I had no reason to cry. I just wanted to. Danielle said, "Here! Have some Princess Gummies!" and handed me some Disney Princess fruit snacks. The absurdity of Princess Gummies fixing my breakdown was enough to make me laugh, which brought me back to the present task of completing this marathon.

I really did want to walk, though. But apparently, I walk very fast. I started walking and Danielle had to jog to keep up with me. I'm not sure how exactly that works, since I'm actually shorter than her, but I've always been a fast walker and I wanted to get done enough that I wasn't going to go at a leisurely pace - or even a comfortable pace. My walk hurt - in fact, walking hurt my legs and right foot more than running - but when I ran, I got all this tightness just under my rib cage and despite my heart rate being low, I felt like I couldn't breathe.

Danielle said something technical (she is a triathlon coach and has a degree in exercise physiology, after all) that I boiled down to this: all systems related to breathing were sore and tired, too - not just legs and arms and shoulders and neck and back. When I ran, that part of me felt all tight and painful. But when I walked, I felt happy. Well, happy enough - Danielle's constant chatter and singing definitely made it fun, as much as I wanted the race to be over.

We stopped at every aid station, and when it got dark, discovered that chicken broth really is a great alternative to Gatorade. I also tried eating - I had some grapes and a couple pieces of cookie - but mostly I had no interest in food. I didn't have any gastrointestinal issues, though - my IronStomach plan worked, and I was happy with the outcome. In fact: when we were back on Main Street, a guy had a box full of donut holes from Tim Horton's. He offered them to us, and even though we know we're not supposed to take outside food, we each had one. Danielle said it would be impolite not to. And I thought it was funny.

After dark, Danielle wore a plastic light-up necklace, and people started talking about how she looked like Christmas. I got two purple glow sticks from a course marshall person and played with them to entertain myself. My walk/Danielle's jog was faster than most other walkers - and a lot of joggers - out there. So I didn't really feel like running would be that useful.

But when we hit mile 24, 2.2 miles from the finish, I said I'd do it - I'd push through and run to the finish line. We stopped once more at the final aid station, fueled up, and took off. I didn't like running much, but I soon saw my family just before the 25 mile mark, and that was a good boost, then we were on Lakeshore Drive and little kids were holding out their hands for us to slap and it just felt fun, even as it hurt. Running away from the finish line was annoying, but the turnaround point came quicker than I thought it would, and suddenly even though I said we weren't going to speed up, the homing-pigeon instinct took over and we did. I pulled out my lip gloss, one item saved from run special needs, and shared it with Danielle so we'd look pretty in our pictures.

Just before mile 25...almost there!

I thought our families were going to run across the line with us, but they didn't. Instead, steps from the line, Danielle pushed me ahead so I'd "break the tape" and cross ahead of her. I didn't really want to do that - we should have crossed fully together - but it was too close to the finish to react.

When I heard my name announced and felt the tape, I didn't feel some great joy or sense of accomplishment. I actually felt embarrassed - all this fanfare, and for what? Because I spent 15 hours swimming, biking, and running? Oh my goodness.

All done!

The Aftermath

I expected to feel something special, I really did. But at the time, I didn't. I took a happy picture with Danielle and right away our families found us. All I wanted to do was get home. I missed the fireworks and all that - I was hungry for real food, finally, and I wanted to just be done with everything.

Immediately after, and even yesterday, I didn't feel all that good about it. Doing an Ironman is a selfish venture. At one point on the run, Danielle and I passed a whole group of guys in matching yellow shirts with some web site address on it. I can't remember now what it was exactly (you know, lost brain cells as a result of endurance athletics), but when I asked the guys about it, they said they were doing the Ironman to raise money for children's wings of hospitals. One of them asked me why I was doing the Ironman. I answered truthfully, "Lord only knows."

Honestly, the race itself was fun at moments, but mostly it wasn't that much fun. I wasn't bored, but I wasn't elated like Danielle, or ready to sign up again, like other friends I know. It took a lot of time and training, and the outcome was that I get to wear a t-shirt around Penticton all the next day that says I finished. So did a few thousand others. And that's cool, but is it really worth it?

It's so expensive - all the equipment, sure, but also the entry fee, the hotel, the travel, the pictures, the dining out while in the race town for a week, the supplies - it costs a small fortune to become an Ironman. And it was also costly to my family: everyone had to move stuff around in their lives to accommodate me, and it was definitely rough in other ways on the people closest to me.

I'm not embarrassed about my finish time. Sure, it was slower than I wanted it to be, but mostly I wanted to finish the race happy, and that I pretty much did. I didn't crawl across the finish line; I ran. Did I "leave it all out there on the course?" No, probably not. But I'm not sure that's appropriate for me either - after all, I have a husband and two kids and a demanding job and school starting for my second-grader next week. I don't have the luxury of time to recuperate - I have to be ready to go NOW, no limping around or sleeping extra or whatever. My family has given up enough already for me just to do this.

I'm left asking this question: Did it prove something that I didn't already know in my heart?

I'd like to say I knew I could do it before I did it. At times that was true, but I also had my moments of doubt before the race and during. Many moments of doubt. Other people believed in me a whole lot more than I did, and for that I thank you and appreciate you.

But I am the type of person who, if you tell me the stove is hot so I shouldn't touch it, I immediately touch it to be sure.

Completing the Ironman is proof that I can complete an Ironman. Maybe it symbolizes more; it is definitely about physical and mental endurance, the ability to keep going when everything in you says to stop.

So yes: I proved that I could do it. And perhaps what that means is that many more people who don't think they could do it can. So many blog readers and friends have called me an inspiration. I have trouble seeing that - after all, I think about all my mistakes and missteps along this journey - but I guess when I look back to what I came from, who I was just three and a half years ago - it is fairly amazing.

What's Next?
Focusing on my family. Moving closer to work. Losing a few pounds. Exercising for exercise, not training. Reconnecting with non-triathlete, non-runner friends (I miss you!).

I'm not sure I'm going to get depressed without an immediate race goal ahead of me. I'm kind of looking forward to the downtime.

Again, thank you all for your support. I couldn't have done it without you. And I really do mean YOU - everyone who read this, offered advice, sent good wishes, thought of me, or cared in the least. THAT definitely means a lot.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I am an Ironman

And I'm too tired to say more. :-) Except: thank you for all your support throughout this journey. When I started to falter, I thought about you and how you believe in me.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


It's 5 a.m. and I've been awake for about half an hour, just lying in bed and thinking about the day. I get up before the alarm and take a quick shower; I'm not bothering to dry my hair for obvious reasons. I put on my heart-rate monitor strap and a ton of BodyGlide under it, my blue swimsuit, black sweatpants, and a dark pink Lululemon sweatshirt that Aleks gave me, plus warm socks. Also, I'm wearing my pink heart-rate monitor watch.

I eat a bagel with turkey and cheddar, a bottle of water, and one Pop-Tart (because race day is a great excuse for a Pop-Tart). I check my bags one last time, then put on my pink Crocs and head downstairs to meet Danielle.

It's 5:30 and she's perky and ready to go. Carrying our dry clothes bag and both special needs bags, we walk the mile down the road to the transition area. She's cheery and goofy and I'm trying to be, but inside I have a tummyache and I'm nervous. We arrive at the transition area and go straight to bodymarking - 2199 for me, 2407 for her.

I then pay a visit to my bike. The tires are pumped up and I add three water bottles to the cages: two bottles of Gleukos with Carbo Pro, one bottle of water. I also pour a fourth bottle of water into the aero bottle. I partially unwrap each of the bars (Clif Nectar and Mojo) in my little pink Bento box thing and am done.

I then visit my swim-to-bike bag and deposit the clear plastic rain jacket I got today when I saw the percent chance of rain was 85. Maybe I won't wear it, but just in case, I will likely be glad to have it.

With that, I'm done. I go to the Porta-Potty. When I'm done, I get back in line and prepare to go again. I do this until 6:30, when I put on my wetsuit and head down to the water, depositing my dry-clothes bag where it belongs. I've got my cap, goggles (de-fogged already) and earplugs in my hand, and my shoes are in the dry-clothes bag. It's time.

Except...I need one more Porta-Potty stop before I pull up my wetsuit all the day.

At 6:45 I watch the pros take off. Then I get in the water. It feels just like Lake Sammamish. I say goodbye to Danielle; we need to seed ourselves differently for the swim, but I hope to see her many times the rest of the day.

At 7, the cannon startles me. I head deeper into the water slowly, then start to swim when the water is past my waist. At first it's annoying to swim among all those people; but I fall into a groove and pretty soon I'm more or less swimming alone. Or at least it feels that way.

My mind wanders and plays song lyrics over and over. It seems like a long time before I reach the first turn, but then the second is immediately after and I know I'm more than halfway done. The beach gets larger and larger as I continue back, and soon I can hear the announcer and the spectators.

I get out of the water with a whole bunch of other people, and I run up to the wetsuit strippers (though they like to call them "peelers" now). Before I know what's happening, I'm on the ground and my wetsuit is off my legs, and the strippers are helping me up and pointing me in the direction of my bag. I call out "2199!" and a helpful volunteer hands me my bag and I run to the change tent.

I dry off a little, but mostly I try not to hop around like an idiot while putting bike shorts, bra, and jersey on. It's cool, so I put on the bolero and carry my full-finger gloves. Socks, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses and I'm ready to go potty and retrieve my bike.

Main Street is lined with spectators and I smile at them all, feeling so happy to be out of the water. I drink some water from my aero bottle. Now I'm off on the course and every 15 minutes I have to drink an eighth of my Gleukos bottle - every half-hour a quarter. I feel good at the first climb, up McLean Creek Road, and the first descent feels great. Then it's flat and downhill slightly for a long way. I start to get bored on this part, but I play a fun game called "Guess the fruit tree?" and smile at everyone who passes me.

Osoyoos is just ahead, and Richter Pass. I'm excited for it because it's different - and even though it will be hard, the downhill will be awesome and totally worth it. And it is hard - it's four Lakemonts, back-to-back, with some breaks, but 6.8 miles later it's done and I'm on the rollers. I count them - one through seven - and as I'm descending play another fun game: how far up the next roller will I coast before I need to pedal?

Then it's fairly flat to the out-and-back section. I stop to retrieve my special-needs bag and get my bottle of Gleukos; I also go potty here. I'm feeling pretty good. Could be done, but could keep going.

The incline to Yellow Lake is definitely something I feel more on a bike than in a car, but it's okay. The promise of the descent keeps me going - and when I see the lake, I know there's only one little uphill section left. I push through and let myself coast for bit, spinning my legs out and feeling some recovery. My mind turns towards the run.

I roll into town to the same huge crowds as before. Lots of people are out running now, but I pay them no attention. This is my race. A volunteer takes my bike from me and I run to get my bike-to-run bag. It will feel so nice to have dry clothes!

I hit the changing tent and strip as quickly as possible, then pull on my run outfit. I strap on my Fuel Belt and I'm on the run!

I start out jogging. I love the parts through town; I wave at people calling my name and keep a huge smile on my face. I'm watching my time, though, to make sure I'm not running fast. I know sometimes when I am so happy to be off the bike I start out fast on the run and can't tell because my legs are so heavy, and I want to be running 11 to 12 minute miles here - no faster.

Once I hit the road out of town, it gets harder to run. I walk aid stations and take in water and whatever looks good for food, but then I pick back up with my jog at the end of the aid station. It's rough going on the way out, especially seeing all these athletes on their way back, but I'm going to be an Ironman today regardless of whether I do it in 9 or 16:59.

At the turnaround, I retrieve my second bolero and my running gloves. I'm a half-marathon away from my title. My steps get a tiny bit lighter, even as the sky is getting darker.

Along the run, I talk to whoever is around me. I feel really happy and connected to people. I try to lift their spirits, knowing that lifting theirs will lift mine too.

The last few miles back into town are incredible. I want to be done and I want them to be over. But I want them to last forever, too. Plus, I love glowsticks.

As I come down the finish chute, the darkness completely lit up, I hear the words I've been working towards for a year.

And I burst into tears. John, Gabriel, and Camille are right there - John hugs me and kisses me and the kids jump all over me and I practically collapse...but right then, nothing hurts at all.

It's 5:49 p.m. on Ironman Eve. I'm headed to bed very, very soon. Thank you, readers, for all your good thoughts and warm wishes - it means a ton to me, it really does.