Monday, December 23, 2013

Being A Girl: The Holiday Edition

Sometimes I feel like I failed big time at being a girl. This is magnified at the holidays when I receive the perfect gift from a friend, or read a well-written 2013 year in review. Am I not creative? Am I not thoughtful? Why don't I enjoy decorating? Did I somehow not receive some kind of domestic/baking gene that seemingly 90% of women have? Am I a failure to all woman-kind?


(Sorry too much sugar from a work colleague, who gave me homemade caramels, carefully twisted into lovely brown non-stick wrappers.)

Every holiday season I go to Trader Joe's and buy the biggest poinsettia I can find. It is much prettier and takes up much less room than a Christmas tree. Plus, buying a tree means you have to buy ornaments, and you have to store those somewhere, and Lordy who has time for all of that decorating? (I would totally be one of those people who leaves up their Christmas lights all year if I had a house to decorate.)

Most of the decoration around my place is my Christmas mural, which is the fireplace mantel covered in holiday cards from friends and family. I really love the cards, so keep them coming!

I thought about sending a holiday card this year - especially when my boyfriend grew out his mustache for Movember. Most women with significant others in the Movember or No-shave November movement hate it. I thought it was epic. For one month, I got to live with a handsome hipster man and my boyfriend didn't mind.

I digress. What do I put on a holiday card anyway? As much as I think finishing a half Ironman is a momentous occasion, it seemed wrong to put a picture of a sweaty Suzanne on a card and send it out to all of my friends and family. The proper message for a holiday card seems to be only family related: new baby, what the kids are doing, family vacations, weddings. That's it: no triathlons, no marathons, no new jobs, no we-are-doing-great-living-together-in-sin.

Stop asking us when we are getting married. Happy Holidays!
The thing I like most about the holidays is music. It's the only time when it's okay for American society to admit that they like choral and orchestral music, and further admit that they like Julie Andrew's version of "Favorite Things" better than Carrie Underwood's version. I think it's sad that I have to set my DVR to record St. Olaf Choir's Christmas concert, which is on at 2 AM here. But, at least the good quality, Virgin Mary, baby Jesus in Jerusalem songs are still out there. I'm not religious either. Traditional holiday music is a good, quality reminder that insane commercialism and Black Friday specials are NOT the reason for the season. Whether you are into WWJD or not, find some peace and love in your souls, people.

I went to a fabulous holiday concert sung by my fabulous friends in Resounding Achord. They do a good mix of highly classical selections and they also do some standard Christmas tunes.

Shopping is a chore, and shopping for other people is near impossible. Unless I know you really need something, I don't know what to get you. Furthermore, there is nothing more lifeless and soul sucking than walking 2 miles from the closest parking spot into a mall where, people are become mad, pre-holiday trolls. I've worked retail over the holidays, and let me tell you - the sales people hate the holidays. Contrary to what the holidays should be, customers are rude, pushy, the lie to get deals, and are generally a bunch of a-holes. I tend to go to boutiques and buy fewer things and spend 30% more. Also, thank God for the Internet.

Guess whose credit card information was safe this season? Mine! :)
Once in awhile, I do get the itch to bake. Oh, and when I say itch, I mean it - I am allergic to flour. Not eating flour, but having flour around in the air. It makes my nose and ears itch something awful, and then I start to sneeze all over the kitchen. If you want my sneezed-on cookies, I make exactly two kinds: pumpkin/walnut/raisin, (which no one seems to like except a former neighbor - sad he moved), and chocolate chip.

I can't possibly eat all of the sugary stuff offered to me on a daily basis every day since October. So, why create more?

I made some banana bread. Go me.
Amidst all of this winter/holiday self-loathing, I did do something rather crafty this winter. . .

I was recently convinced that even I can sew a quilt made out of my old race t-shirts. It took two full afternoons, lots of mentoring, and fear of getting my finger poked with a racing needle, but I survived and even made something useful. Will I do it again? Eh, not sure. Aside from the fact that races don't give out cotton t-shirts anymore, I don't know how much patience I have to make sewing a regular thing. Oh, and there also takes so much thought about the process, what fabric to use, patterns... it's mind blowing. I feel the same about knitting. It would be nice to make holiday gifts for friends, but have a hard time sitting for a long time, or working on something so intricate.

I will be a terrible old lady.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lulu Lessons

As you are all aware, I own a fair amount of Lululemon clothing. I have two pair of black running Capri pants that I wear interchangeably. The oldest pair goes to most events because they are the most comfortable, and I've been wearing them for about seven years. The second pair, I bought two years ago, and the quality is not as good as the first; I am seeing a lot of wear, and there is now a hole in the thigh area. I believe this newest pair was purchased before the "sheer" era, or at least no one has told me that they can see through them. (Or maybe I should say, "Thanks a lot, jerks!"). I may give Lulu's pants another chance, but I'm not going to complain too much about a hole in a pair of pants (on the seam) that I've worn twice a week for two years.

I also like their tops, bras, and my fall/spring jacket with the nifty built in gloves.

The controversies surrounding Lulu in the last few years are upsetting. Part of your job as a CEO or marketing professional is to keep your company profitable, manage customer's expectations, and sell your image. Clearly, they missed out on some opportunities to take some Lemons and make Lemonade.

Here are a few ideas they should have considered that may have helped their image, and their sales:

1.) Make pants with different thicknesses: Some women love sheer pants. We know this because we still see plenty of women wearing them! Why not give those women what they want? Sheer for those who want to show some skin, regular for those of us who want to be able to touch our toes without showing our butt crack, and maybe even a thick pant for those colder months.

2.) Be earth friendly: Lulu could have taken a more earth-mother approach to the sheer pants, and donated the fabric to a worthy organization. I'm sure there is a good humanitarian use for all of that Luon. Maybe mosquito nets for children in Africa?

3.) Don't blame shit on your customers: I see nothing wrong with saying, "We try to create clothing that will be comfortable for most women. We can not make clothing that will be perfect for everyone, but we have many satisfied customers. We are open to suggestions about how to make our clothing better." That's it. Don't mention thighs (especially if you are a male), or say there is nothing wrong with your product. Someone should have given the CEO a speech coach is ultimately the problem here.

4.) Don't let your douche CEO talk on TV: Maybe Chip Wilson is part of the image problem. (Well, he definitely is now, in light of his comments on Bloomberg.) You should get to know someone before you judge who they really are. But, there is truth in stereotypes. Doesn't anyone else think that purchasing women's yoga wear from Chip Wilson sounds a little funny... no? Yes?

5.) Hire Suzanne: These  people should hire me. I have some good ideas. Luon mosquito nets - um, genius. They've tried to get into cycling gear, and haven't made an impact yet. I have some ideas.

Ok Seriously though . . .

Lululemon's CEO, Chip Wilson, kind of seems like a douche. But, I still like LLL clothing. Michael Jackson's questionable lifestyle never deterred me from listening to his music, and I would be sad to lose "Bad" or "Smooth Criminal" on my iPod mix. I've decided to continue to wear luon.

Companies definitely need to keep their products awesome and their image clean in order to be popular with the public. But, ultimately, remember folks: Companies do NOT have an obligation to meet every person's fit criteria, or to fit every body type. They are out there to make money, and they have to pick a target market. If you don't like them, or they don't fit you - don't wear them.

Love your body. Find a brand that fits you well.

My thighs rub together too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reset button

There is a reason the reset button exists. The button was invented for your safety; it was invented so you don't electrocute or burn yourself. The reset button can be frustrating, and can cause panic. That moment of panic when you realize your appliance isn't working and you go through a moment of, "Why the hell isn't this thing working anymore!? It worked just fine yesterday!" before you realize with a gentle push of the button, things start working properly again.

Last Friday, I got out of the office for an hour to run 6 miles and felt like I was going to lose my lunch, or pop a knee cap or something. Maybe it was the gin martini (or two) I drank the night before, or the Chipotle burrito. Ugh. I felt so belch-y. It is amazing that you can spend months on building up your fitness, then it takes, er, about a month and you seem to lose it completely.

The past few weeks have been tough. Since February I've been on the up and up, improving weekly, feeling sore in a good way, and growing a lot. After the Chicago marathon I took a week off, and just haven't gotten back into things like I was hoping to. Problemo numero uno is that I have no immediate fitness goals this winter besides just keeping up with things so it's not too hard to kick butt early next spring. I don't feel it is necessary to be spending two or more hours a day training this winter. Second, I feel like I should be giving my body a break anyway. Third, it is darker and colder and I have less motivation. And finally . . .

I thought gluttony and lethargy was something people enjoy . . .

It feels pretty terrible.

I just returned from a few days visiting my parents in Arizona. I got in a 3 mile treadmill run, a little core workout, another 6 mile run outside in 83 degree heat (5:30 at night!), and a short swim. (Digression: I've been looking for help with my swim stroke, and guess who helped - my dad. Sheesh, he was right there the whole time!)

Now that I'm back in my routine at home - It is time to set the reset button. I'm not exactly sure what next year has in store for me, but I'm just happier when I'm moving. It's never too late to start training for Wildflower (in May). Maybe I'll do the long course . . .

Friday, November 1, 2013

Signs of Winter

New Calendar
Seriously, even with my job as a professional scheduler/organizer, I still can't get myself into the 21st century, and prefer to scratch personal meetings and other tidbits on a paper organizer. Typically not the flowery type, I received a Vera Bradley organizer for my birthday four years ago, and now I buy one every year. This year the store at Santana Row didn't have any!! I thought, "Clearly this is a sign that I should join the digital age." Disaster averted, I found one online (note the irony). Here's to another year on paper!

Closet Reorganization
Last Sunday I skipped the workout, and reorganized my closet. It is time to put the summer clothes away, and start a Goodwill bag for those items not used in the past season, or anything (mostly shoes) that are toast from over-wear. Then, it is time to assess if I am thrilled with any of my fall/winter clothes from last year. If I were to put as much effort into my regular clothing as I am in triathlon gear, we'd be in business. For some reason I am proud when I need a new pair of running shoes, but completely irritated when I have to buy a new pair of heels or ballet flats for work. I think it's because the length of my pant legs are dependent on the shoe and heel. So, new shoes might mean new pants. It's all downhill from there.

Speaking of shoes. I think my feet have shrunk. At least the right one. Is this possible, or are shoe sizes getting larger?

Bike Trainer
I bought a bike trainer - it's a contraption you hook to the back wheel of your bike so you an ride indoors. It's kind of like spin class on your own bike. Ok it is exactly like a spin class on your own bike without the features of an actual class: i.e. other people, an instructor, accountability. So, now I'm on the lookout for videos/apps/sheer motivation to ride this thing on my own as needed because it's too dark to ride at night. I will pray that the weather continues to be lovely on the weekends so I can ride for real . . .

3 hours on a trainer?? Shoot me now. Luckily Strava just introduced some training videos if you join their Premium plan. I'll take a chance on you for $59.99, Strava.

Stupid Treadmill/Headlamp
Darker nights means - it's treadmill time! I joined a new gym a few months ago, so now I have new faces to stare at while I'm running in place. Time to make winter friends at the gym! I also found my reflective running gear during the closet reorganization and just need to dig out that pesky headlamp.

Cold Swims
This is by far my biggest fear of winter. Swimming when it's cold. Sure, the pool is usually warm but the daunting thought of wearing a swimsuit outside when it's cold then jumping into a chlorinated vat is agonizing. I shouldn't complain - this is California after all. But, it's not easy to find an indoor pool here. And 40 degrees is still 40 degrees. Dark is still dark.

The Good News
Winter will give me some new things to work on. I've decided to NOT train for a marathon in January and focus on some technique, strength training, and doing core workouts until I have rock-hard abs . . . (Rock-hard abs! There I go, dreaming again!). It's time to break it down.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Done. And. Done.

Back in June, I signed up for a 70.3 triathlon in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I was right in the middle of training for Barb's, probably in my peak fitness for the year, hopped up on endorphins and post-workout recovery shakes. The organization was basically giving entries away, and I couldn't pass up a $75 entry fee. Plus it would be a good redemption race if Barb's didn't go well. My parents also live in Phoenix, so bada-bing, badda-boom - killing two birds with one stone (triathlon and visit).

Barb's went great! So, heading into marathon training, I kept up with at least one bike and at least one swim per week, mostly for my sanity, but also thinking I might do this late-season triathlon. It started to occur to me that this marathon might be my last serious event for the year.

After Chicago, it is clear. I'm done. My official "season" has ended, and there is no reason to do a half Ironman distance event in November. No. Freakin'. Way. So, I'm going to hang up my wet suit, allow my Garmin collect some dust, and use less laundry detergent over the next couple of months.


This is not to say I won't be training through the winter, I just won't focus my attention to any major events, milestones, etc. My dream of doing core workouts until I have rock hard abs this winter is probably not a reality either. It never is.

After the past two years of longer events, I decided that 2014 would be the Year of the Short Course Triathlon! I am still getting a little faster, so I might as well use this momentum to answer the question, "How fast can I get?" before my body begins to slow down. Part of this goal was also to qualify for USAT (USA Triathlon) Olympic Age Group National Championships in 2014. I actually qualified for 2013, but I dismissed it like one of those "Who's Who Among American... blah blah blah" books in which your name is listed so you'll buy a stupid overly-priced book with thousands of names printed in it. Turns out, USAT Nationals is kind of cool, it's a PR-worthy course, you get to see a bunch of pros, hang out in Milwaukee, drink beer after - and I missed it.

Since I age up on December 31st to the 35-39 age group, Nationals seemed like a good goal for 2014. Plus, 35-39 year old women are beasts, so I'd have to train smart and really bring my A game.

As it turns out, my 3rd place finish at Pacific Grove qualified me for 2014!


So, now what's my big goal for next year?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chicago in Pictures

Welcome to the Expo. It was like an Expo. Very large. Lots of people sampling Powerbar. Race Expos are like Ikea; I can never find my way out. I've given up and now just resort to asking directions to the closest exit.
Running with Kenyans. Because the real thing would never actually happen.
Running Buddy and me. Some friendly Wisconsin-ites took this picture for us.
We took an architectural boat tour of the city. The skyline has changed so much since I was last there.
See, totally different. (Circa 1998)
Here's the information my Nike app had for the marathon. Unfortunately it won't give me mile splits. It would be good to know where I totally lost it, but alas. I finished.
Post race in Grant Park

The next day our results were posted in the Chicago Sun Times, and we went to Lincoln Park for brunch. This is my running buddy with her flight of French toast. This Batter and Berries restaurant in Lincoln Park was the

Chicken and waffles made me late to the airport for my flight home.

I sat next to some more Wisconsin-ites and their yappy dogs at the airport. I was glad they were not on my flight. Seattle, beware of Nancy and Tom Johnson and their dogs Lady Bug and whatever the other one's name was.
A new pair of running shoes await my return to running in a week or so.
 I had a race day red pedicure for the marathon. Possibly the last picture of my toes with all of the nails. Goodbye long toe toenail! See you next spring!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chicago Fun Facts (Marathon Recap)

The Four "F"s
According to the architectural city boat tour guide, there are four stars on the Chicago flag, each of which represents an important event in Chicago history. 1) The building of Fort Dearborn (Which was built to fight Native Americans, and was burned down later by Native Americans), 2.) The Chicago Fire of 1871 (Which was wrongly blamed on a cow.), 3.) Worlds Fair 1893, 4.) Worlds Fair 1933.

Sears, ahem, Willis Tower
When I was growing up in Illinois, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. The now Willis Tower is only the 11th tallest building in the world, and I can never seem to remember it's new name. The only thing I can think of is, "What you talkin' about Willis?" but my guess is that Gary Coleman has nothing to do with the renaming of this landmark.

In The Hipster Hood
Chicago has really awesome neighborhoods that need to be further explored. Wicker Park was lovely, and I hear Logan Square is where you can hang out with some hipsters. I thought hipsters were a San Francisco phenomenon, but I guess I was mistaken. Hipsters are everywhere, and they are still younger and cooler than me (apparently).

Oh Deer!
The night before the race, my running buddy and I ate at an Italian restaurant in Wicker Park for the pre-race carbo-load. We both ordered a polenta, which was poured onto a marble slab to harden, before it was smothered in yummy sauce. My sauce of choice - venison bolognese. That's right. When in the Midwest, eat something Midwestern! Bambi's mother was delicious. (Sorry veg friends.)

Going The (Extra) Mile
I forgot my Garmin for the race, and ended up using the Nike Running App on my iPhone. The app calculated my run to be 27.3 miles. Yes, almost a whole additional mile. Now, these apps are not perfect. I've known people who went for a little swim and their device recorded their swim to be 3x around the earth, but I have a feeling I could have cut a few more corners and saved myself a good 8 minutes. Also, it would be nice to know my mile splits, but it doesn't calculate those, so all I know is my best mile was 7:16 (wow!), and my slowest 10:14 (ouch!). I think I can guess which miles those were...

Chicago Playlist Regrets
My Chicago music mix was fine, but honestly I felt like I missed out on some of the experience. The great thing about this big city race is the excitement of the fans along the race course. It was/could have been more amazing. So many people cheering! I don't think I'll use my iPod again for a race.

Chicago Is More Gay Than San Francisco
I've now run races through Castro and Boystown (the gay neighborhoods of San Francisco and Chicago), and it is clear - Chicago totally out-gayed San Francisco. Their aid station was the best the best one on the course; it was themed "marriage" and they had a barrage of people in wedding attire, drag cheerleaders, and gay members of the marine corp performing a rifle routine. I expect better of you next time, San Francisco!

Best signs
"Don't pants the poop!"
"Don't poop (out)!"
"You run better than our Government"

Worst signs
"Hey Kenyan, you only beat my husband, because I let you." (Yep, doubt it.)
"The Kenyans are already drinking beer." (I doubt they drink much beer, which may be part of the reason they run so fast.)
"Smile if you aren't wearing any underwear." (Ok, it was funny at mile 1, but not so much the 10th time at mile 21.)

She Don't Use Jelly
I've never seen so much Vaseline on a race course. Granted, I've only run one other marathon. But, at the aid station you could readily get some lubricant as easily as a cup of Gatorade. These kind souls of volunteers held out cardboard with slabs, or sticks with gobs of Vaseline so it was easily accessible for those who "felt the burn" in those last 10 miles. Kind of gross. I was glad to be well lubricated. Oh, I'm sorry. TMI?

Negative Self Talk, Then Euphoria
At mile 22 I pretty much wanted to stop. I hated running. I think I started talking to myself out loud, berating myself, "How could you do this? You are not ready!" I probably had about 30 minutes of negative self talk after the race, and I almost passed out while waiting in the ridonkulously long gear check line. A nice guy helped me to put some ice on my neck, and the feeling passed. The next morning, although sore, I was like, "So, when is the next race?"

Post-Race Beer, etc.
They serve beer in the finishing shoot, like, right after you finish. The last thing I wanted 5 minutes after crossing the finish line was a beer. Maybe 45 minutes later. Also, they call the after-party the 27th Mile Post-Race Party for a reason. We must have walked a mile to Buckingham Fountain. So tired. (No, this is not the reason for the extra mile on the running app.)

Personal Record
I beat my marathon best by 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

8,544th place out of 40,230 runners? I'll take it.

Race Injury
For the first time in my running history, I may be losing a toe nail. Although ugly, I feel this is somewhat a badge of honor. Thank goodness it's close-toe shoe season.

Santa Clara in Chicago
I saw two people from my days at Santa Clara University. First, Chad Eschman, soon-to-be-famous playwright who just had a show performed on Broadway. Also, John Sabine, who happened to be performing in the Second City Show I was watching! Blast from the past.

Lincoln Park = Late
My running buddy and I traveled way out to Lincoln Park for brunch, and waited in line before devouring (my) chicken and waffle and (running buddy's) flight of french toast. This place was worth it. I missed my flight too. Yep, missed my flight for chicken and waffles. Can't say that has happened before.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Anxiety of slowing down.

Taper week, and I'm anxious. Again. This always happens right before, and right after a big event. What's more - after November I have very little on my calendar. There is an overwhelming, lingering sense of, "OMG! WTF am I going to do all winter??" which rapidly turns into the deeper question of, "WTF am I doing with my life?"

Yep, it's that strange. And I've been told that it is also normal. Here are some other questions that are making me anxious lately:

Chicago Marathon: Am I ready?
I damn well should be. I did the 20 mile training runs!

Will American Airlines make me late for the marathon?
This could happen. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the specific airline. Now I am jinxed. Great.

What do people do when they are not training? I'm so bored.
This week's training plan is 8 miles. Total. Then what am I going to do? I guess I could read or something. I always have half-read books on my nightstand: Catching Fire, The Alcatraz Swimmer's ManualChi Running (always good to review), oh and Malcolm Gladwell's new book is out! Now if I could only sit long enough to read without falling asleep, we'd be in business! (How did I ever get through graduate school?)

Why am I so damned hungry?
I am doing less it seems, but eating more. Why is that? I ate an extra breakfast burrito this morning. (They are small, but still.)

Is my skin getting old and wrinkly? 
Trying out a new cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Does any of this stuff really work, or should I just wash my face with soap and call it a day?

How will I afford new running shoes when my car insurance premium just went up?
Remember to heed the 10-second rule, even in stop-and-go traffic, even when people get in front of you. Hope the person in front of you is doing it too. Rear-ending someone is not fun.

How much money did I spend on triathlon-related stuff this year?
I've been fighting off the urge to add it up, because it might make me crazy.

Why don't humans hibernate like other animals?
I think we are really missing out on something here.

No more daylight?
I wake up. It's dark. Soon, I will leave work after dark too. Sigh.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chicago Marathon Playlist

Loading my iPod with new "Chicago Inspired" tunes for the marathon next weekend! I have 4.1 hours of music to listen to, so let's hope I finish the marathon before my play list runs out.

I tried to find the most upbeat music, with different genres represented. You will not see anything by the popular Chicago band Fallout Boy because I think their music is terrible. And you will see that, despite my love for Kanye West's music (not Kanye himself), none of his new album made it on the play list either. Musicals are great, but again, not great for a running soundtrack, imho.

Enjoy this random sampling of tunes. If you have other ideas, lemme know!

1, 2, 3, 4 - Plain White T's

1979 - Smashing Pumpkins

25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago

Amazing - Kanye West

Battle Scars - Lupe Fiasco

Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

Chicago - Frank Sinatra

Don't Look Back - Boston
In the back of my mind, Boston is always there. In more ways than one.

Extraordinary - Liz Phair

Homecoming - Kanye West w/ Chris Martin

I believe I can fly - R. Kelly

In the Kitchen - Umphrey's McGee

Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters

My Kind of Town - Frank Sinatra

Never Know - Wilco

The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace

Renegade - Styx

Seether - Veruca Salt

September - Earth, Wind and Fire

Show Goes On - Lupe Fiasco

Superfly - Curtis Mayfield

Superbowl Shuffle - 1984 Superbowl Champion Chicago Bears

Surrender - Cheap Trick

Sweet Home Chicago - Eric Clapton

Sweet Home Chicago - from Blues Brothers

Today - Smashing Pumpkins

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

21 Miles. Not so epic.

Did you hear about Ironman Lake Tahoe last weekend? Apparently, it was epic. With almost freezing temperatures, it was much more than the altitude these athletes had bargained for. While other sport fans were watching football and baseball on Sunday, I was glued to my computer most of the day, watching results for my colleagues in the the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club. I just can't care about million-dollar professional athletes, when I have been training with these epic people all year long. Wow.

How many more times can I say "epic" in this post? We shall see.

I wish I could have been there to support them. But, I did a swim relay on Saturday, and my last 20+ mile training run for Chicago on Sunday (between computer-stalking on the IMLT website). 

During the run, I tried to harness some inner strength from those in Tahoe. Solidarity. Or, as my Sass-girls like to call it, "Sass-idarity." Those brave souls risking the hypothermia to be an "Iron person" is just - wow! I tried to stifle my complaints, but damn. . . I really hate these long training runs. To epic proportions.

"If you hate it, then why do you do it?" 

Let's get a few things straight: 

1.)  I really enjoy triathlon training: it's challenging, I love the camaraderie, and seeing how it is making incremental improvements in my performance, mood, etc.

3.) The Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon last year was an awesome event. I am talking about the race itself, race day, running with a bunch of people, accepting water and electrolyte supplements from strangers, being in the finishing shoot with my friend, Christine. It was amazing! I wouldn't do Chicago if my first experience wasn't so awesome.

2.) I enjoy a good long training run. Give me 15 to 18 miles, and it's a good day. But, there is something about 20 that really sucks.

3.) Running for three hours or more is not the same as biking for 3 hours. Not even close. I even prefer swimming to these long training runs. I know. It's amazing, right? Who knew I'd be such a happy little fish.

Back to Sunday: my training goal was met - 21 miles. The first 8 felt terrible. But, then, I got lose, got funky, maybe focused a bit more, and finished. It wasn't that bad, and definitely not epic. I just is what it is. After a a few days of sitting on the good ole' tennis ball, my legs will be like new. Plus, I get to take it easy--ahem, easier for a couple of weeks. That is delightful.

This year, I am again reminded that training for a marathon is hard. Really hard. I can totally see why people put this on a bucket list, check it off, and never do it again. I keep saying this is my last marathon.

But, who knows? It could be completely epic! (I really hope it doesn't snow.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pacific Grove Sprint Triathon Recap (Seriously I'm still training for a marathon over here.)

Athlinks recently posed the following question on Facebook:

"How many events do you use to train for other events or experiment?"

Two years ago, I would have said, "zero." I only did events when I felt like I was ready for them. I would train hard for months, and that training would lead up to one big awesome run that I had put all of my energy into.

In the past two years, I've done at least 10 events that were just for fun, or experimental on some level. But, who am I kidding? Isn't it all an experiment?

Take last year's Turkey Trot 10k. I was still on my I-am-(half)-Ironwoman parade, and had just set a personal record for a 10k two weeks prior. "Ha!" I thought, "a 10k? I will nail this." About 2 miles into the race, I realized that it ain't happening, whereby I resorted to gawk at other runners, stop at a mimosa station, and give high-fives to children spectators. This day would not be lost on dead running legs!

Then there are days, like the Silicon Valley Triathlon where I use it to train for Wildflower, and ended up getting second in my age group. So, an experiment with surprising results. Unfortunately Wildflower, which I had trained for, didn't go well.

So, you see - it's ALL an experiment.

I signed up for the Pacific Grove Sprint Triathlon on a whim this year. It definitely wasn't a race that fit into marathon training. At. All. But, Pac Grove was my first triathlon two years ago, and I feel kind of nostalgic about swimming through a cold cove of kelp. Plus, it was the first year I could be there on a Sunday to do the sprint distance with my friends from the Mighty Broncos - the people who got me to sign up for my first triathlon two years ago.

According to the results from last year's sprint race, I thought the third place spot for my age group was attainable. I tried to put together a best-case scenario for the course. I honestly had no idea how long it would take me to swim .25 miles because I've never done it, so I timed myself at the pool one day and figured 8 minutes isn't too bad. As long as I could be closer to 19 mph on the bike, I could make up for my slower swim time. Then, I would need to run as close to 7 minute miles as possible. The run is only 2 measly little miles. How hard could that be? Hmmm.... I hadn't done any bricks workouts in weeks.

Then there were transitions.  For about a week, I considered no wet suit, and putting cage pedals on my bike to avoid another shoe change. I opted to do it the way I am used to. It's too cold to swim without a wet suit, not to mention kelp protection, and I would end up losing too much power on my bike without the proper shoes.

This whole thing was an experiment. My Garmin charger was misplaced, so I could only go off of how I felt. I wanted to see what I thought a full-out effort feels like for just over an hour. 1:10 would be a great time. Maybe at 1:06 I could podium (depends on the competition). . . could go either way.

Swim .25 miles: 8 minutes, 23 seconds
I got right in the front for the swim. "I'm slower, but people can climb over me," I thought. The kelp wasn't too bad this year (possibly mowed down by the Olympic distance race the day before), and the water was a balmy 60 degrees. I fought my way through a couple of people at the beginning, but I remembered that it was a short swim, so I tried to keep the momentum going.

Transition 1 (Swim to Bike): 2 minutes, 36 seconds
Pacific Grove has kind of a long transition from water to bike, so I was a little dizzy putting on my bike shoes, but I noticed there were still a lot of bikes on the rack. Translation: still a lot of people swimming. So, I'd better get going!

Bike 12 miles: 39 minutes, 23 seconds
Only a few men passed me on the bike. There are so many people doing multiple loops on this course, that I couldn't locate the other ladies in my age group. Translation = they were faster swimmers and already ahead of me. As long as I could hold my place, I was happy with that.

Transition 2 (Bike to Run): 1 minute, 23 seconds
Back to the bike to run transition, I was feeling feisty.

Run 2 miles: 14 minutes, 32 seconds
No excuses on this run. So I headed out for 2 laps of running as fast as possible. The first lap was pretty difficult, and the hill on the second half was enough to make me worry that my lead legs were going at a 10 minute pace. But, the second lap felt really good, and I felt confident that my time was under 1:10.

Overall time: 1 hour, 6 minutes, 21 seconds
A good race overall, and 3rd in my age group was just the icing on the cake. Tons of fun. It it worth mentioning that I was in the top 10 women overall, but also that there was a 15-year old, and a 12-year old girl in the top 10. Holy bejeezus! The 12-year old's swim split was faster than most of the men.

It almost makes me want a daughter. Almost.

I really like shorter distances, and think I could still improve a bit. Next year may be the year of short course triathlon. It would be awesome to go to nationals in my new 35-39 age group.

Now back to your regularly scheduled marathon training program. . .
3rd place in my Age Group. What will 35-39 bring next year?

Relay podium madness! I'm proud to know and love the people in the top two relay teams! Go Mighty Broncos!
Finally settled. 

A special shout out to my favorite German triathlon friend, Thomas. He had a really awesome race! Then he was robbed of a medal. (Ask him about it. I am protecting the innocent.) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts on a Monday: A-K

Someone gave me a book about training for an Alcatraz swim. This may need to happen in 2014.

Big Kahuna.
This past Sunday, I participated in the Splash and Dash for the Big Kahuna (1.2 mile swim/6.2 mile run) in Santa Cruz. It was my first time to swim around the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the first time I've swum 1.2 miles since Barb's race. I slammed an energy shot about 15 minutes before the start, and man, I was pumped. I also had one of my better 10k times! So, a good day. After the race, I spent some time on the course, helping at our tri club aid station. (They should really invent a water fountain that squirts water directly into your mouth as you run by. Lots of wasted paper cups.) So inspired by the triathlon community! What awesome people out there on the 70.3 course!

Chicago Marathon.
Of course this should be at the top of the list. So far the experiment is going OK. I'm setting aside a couple days a week to swim and bike instead of running 5-6 days a week. I feel much better on the 20 mile training runs than I did last year. Thank the athletic Gods! 

I just turned 34. I am a bona fide adult with a retirement plan, crossover SUV, and I may have joined a professionals "club." Holy shit. How did this happen? In triathlon years, I will be joining the 35-39 age group on December 31st. Women in this category are beasts! I will need to work harder to keep up with them. I have absolutely no events planned for December, or any of next year. I will again allow myself to eat cheese and drink wine. Even if I tell myself I will gain rock hard abs in December while everyone else is gaining 5-15 pounds, it will not happen. It never does.

I ate a package of Ritz Crackers this weekend. They are over-processed and delicious.

I am sad about the end of summer. Part of me is excited to wear cardigans, but the other part realizes that with sweater season comes dark skies and an inability to ride my bike after work. It's already dark when I wake up. This makes me very sad, and very sleepy. And, just because I don't have children doesn't mean that their going back to school doesn't affect me!! The traffic really sucks lately.

What up, G?

I'm registered for another 70.3 at Lake Havasu on November 9th. It was $75 and I couldn't keep my wallet closed for this fantastic deal (most half Ironman-distance races are $300+). This is an auxiliary event. Or maybe I'll change it up and do the Olympic and that will be an auxiliary event. My season of PRs is probably over (except the Marathon...). Events for the rest of the year are Just. For. Fun. Promise.

I need new music. Especially for the marathon. Help! Oddly, the band Boston is on my list to download.

The man I love.

Next weekend I'm doing the Pacific Grove Sprint Triathlon (.25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 2 mile run). I gotta check to see if those fast-twitch type II muscles are still working. This is the famous "kelp crawl" swim that I always say, "It's not a swim - it's a water adventure!" 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Mile

Walk a mile in my shoes? HA! Run a 10k in my shoes, then we'll talk.
If you only walked a mile in my shoes, you wouldn't get it.

I sincerely believe that people who have never really run consistently before write it off way too quickly. They decide that running is a cheap form of exercise and a good way to lose weight, so they go out for a bit, find it uncomfortable, walk (which is fine if you've never run before), then stop completely. Feeling defeated, they come up with the following conclusions about why they don't like running:

"My --fill-in-the-blank-- hurt when I try to run."
"I just get so short of breath when I try to run."
"Running just doesn't agree with me."

These things are all true. About the first mile. No one likes the first mile.

Runners, am I right about this?  I've heard that track workouts for my triathlon club have historically lower attendance when the workout calls for a "timed mile" - and these are people who do Ironman, for the love of God.

The trick to being in love with running, or any endurance sport, is to get past the first mile. If you were like, "Suzanne, go run a mile." I would dread it too. I hate running one mile only. That first mile of any workout is brutal. Believe it or not, my legs don't feel good during the first mile and my breathing is really uncomfortable. In fact, I now dread the first three miles. (This is why I don't do a lot of 5k runs). It takes a while before my legs loosen up, my lungs get enough air, and joints start to perpetuate a good rhythm. It takes a good 30 minutes to start to feel good.

So, remember this. I don't know anyone who loves running one mile. You have to give it time, walk before you can run, push through, because miles 5 and 6 are bomb diggity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Holy Crapathon, Batman!

60 days to Chicago? Are you freakin' kidding me?!

A good little monkey, I took it easy for a couple of weeks after Barb's Race. For the most part. There was one 15 mile run. I'll explain later.

My boyfriend and I took a little vacation down to Santa Barbara where we ate, drank, and slept in. The only exercise I did in Santa Barbara was cruiser down the coast for a few miles. Now I am looking at my training log for the past two weeks, with a bunch of random/short workouts and days off, and it's freaking me out.

On June 19th, I received an email, reminding me that the month of June is the official start to training season for the Chicago Marathon. (Many training plans, like Hal Higdon, are 18 weeks long.) Let's see, Hal Higdon's training plan for the week of June 19th includes: 26 miles or running, with a long run of 10 miles. My half Ironman-distance training, on the other hand, included: about 18 miles of running, 70 miles of biking, and a couple of miles in the pool.

So how does that add up? Well...

Fast forward to the week after Barb's Race (marathon training week 7), when Hal Higdon suggested a 16 mile run. I mean, I took a couple of days off, and it was only a week after Barb's Race. I can run a half marathon in my sleep. I am a superhero, people! How hard can 16 miles be?

POW! BANG! WoaH! Yikes!

I only made it to 15 miles. Sure, it might have been fatigue from the race, and not enough recovery time, but that mere 5k extra was just too much. It was a flashback to marathon training last winter. WOAh!

I knew when I signed up, that the Chicago Marathon would be an experiment. I am determined to keep up with some biking and swimming, so that will cut down on some marathon miles, but I am also hoping it might improve how I feel overall. Last winter, I felt like going back to just running was too difficult on my legs, and it probably took me until March to feel normal again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pure Evil. Waahahahaha!

Barb's Race - year two. My plan worked. Boo ya!
Evil Plan:
To finish Barb's Race in under 6 hours.

To finish Barb's race in well under 6 hours - not 5:59:59, but to make significant changes to my time from last year.

Evil plan tactic #1: Swim Faster.
I've always just tried to stay out of the way of real swimmers during races. You know - stay in the back, wait until they go, then start. Their pace is their pace, and mine is mine. I'm not a real swimmer anyway. Last year, at the turn around, the water was so shallow that someone literally swam over me, and my entire chest pressed to the ground.

No more! After months of keeping up with my lane peers in the pool, and fighting with flailing arms (while being smacked in the head a few times) during the Splash and Dash events, I decided to no longer make adjustments for others, and push through them as needed. I used their bubbles to my advantage and I probably accidentally swat people in the head or swam over them and did not apologize. There is a big difference between good sportsmanlike conduct, and being too nice.

I don't know what happened during that swim, but no one was getting in my way dammit. I was sick and tired of not being a swimmer. So, I pushed through some women. When there were two swimming side by side, I would just cut right down the middle of them. It is a competition, after all. I tried to keep my hands to myself, but wasted no time trying to go around other swimmers.

Evil plan tactic #2: Plot With My Evil Bike.
I surprised myself on the bike last year. It was probably because I had never timed myself on a long bike ride. So just over 3 hours sounded pretty darn good to me.

I biked a lot this year, close to 350 more miles than this time last year. I introduced the new bike, with new gears, and new pedals, saddle, shoes, etc. into training in May. As you may have heard, my new bike is haunted. It is constantly testing me. I now have a love/hate relationship with my bike. She is pure evil, but so am I. I'm thinking about naming her Miss Bigglesworth.

During the race, the front brake decided to rub against the tire. The. Entire. Ride. I physically had to keep adjusting it, and as soon as the road got bumpy again, it would move over again. Thhhhhhhh. So incredibly annoying. Somehow my bike time was slightly better from last year, but I was definitely more panicked, and frustrated. I was so happy to put on my running shoes.

Evil plan tactic #3: Run Faster.
The run was the worst part of my race last year. Last year, I just had nothing left - every step was like putting my foot into a foot of snow. Plod. Plod. It was uncomfortable, and annoying. My brain said, "GO!" and my body said, "No, no, no..."

This year I went to running "Rehab" (Run Even Harder After Bike). I did a lot more bike-to-run bricks, but it wasn't enough to just put in a couple of miles. No, no. I would run hard after biking. I know I can continue to move my legs after biking, but more importantly - the legs need to move pretty fast after biking. Otherwise, if becomes plodding. So, I worked on speed, and some more on speed. Also, anything that would make a run more difficult, I tried it: running in 100 degree heat on purpose, running up hills, running when I was tired, running slightly hung over (after July 4).

It worked! Wahahaha! I got used to the uncomfortable feeling of running, and knew what it would feel like. I kept pushing through the race, and didn't allow myself to go much slower than 9 minute miles. That was reasonable, and I knew I could continue at that pace without running completely out of steam.

Evil plan tactic #4: Transition Faster.
Last year, I spent over 7 minutes in T1, and over 4 minutes in T2. It doesn't take that freakin' long to take off a wet suit, folks.

I looked at a lot of times this year, and noticed that transitions do make a huge difference. Sure, I want to take some time to reorient myself before jumping into a new part of the race, but it can be done with a bit more urgency.

4 minutes was the maximum amount of time I allowed myself in transition - a reasonable amount of time. I ran through each transition. I used the wet suit shucker guy in T1 (you lay on the ground, and they shuck your wet suit off for you), then raised my voice at a girl on the other side of my bike rack because her helmet was stuck on my derailleur. Finally, I ran up the hill as fast as I could before clicking in, and riding off. In T2, I was literally eating, and putting on my Garmin as I was running out of transition. I knew I could make up for it later.

Transition #2 set up. Since I had to leave my stuff overnight, I took a picture to remember what it looked like. I still ran into the wrong row the day of the race, but I still maintained an < 4 minute transition.

My Evil Plan paid off. Every part of the 70.3 was faster than last year - over 31 minutes faster total. That's a lot.

Swim 2012 - 46:07 / 2013 - 39:55
Transition 1 2012 - 7:02 / 2013 - 3:47
Bike 2012 - 3:09:47 / 2013- 3:04:47
Transition 2 2012 - 4:45 / 2013 - 3:57
Run 2012 - 2:13:22 / 2013 - 1:57:07

Total 2012 - 6:21:15 / 2013 - 5:49:31

What will be my next evil plan?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trans Tahoe Relay: Sass-tastic

Sass 2.0. Trans Tahoe Relay 2013 - Sassjana, Sassard, Sasstine, K-sass, Sassbrenner, Sassanne, and our Sasscot.
There are a few things in my life that I can't imagine doing, and I can't tell you what they are because, I haven't even imagined what they are yet. One of those things used to be, swimming across Lake Tahoe.

Who does that?

People who swim across Lake Tahoe are those people who grew up swimming, who join masters swim clubs, who grew up next to the ocean, and own boats, and probably like to camp and fish. That was not me. Swimming for me was survival only, even in triathlons. My goal was always to survive the swim, so I could enjoy the rest of the event.

My Trans Tahoe team, Sass 2.0, wracked our brains this weekend trying to remember how we decided to do the 11 mile swim in the first place, and none of us can quite remember how it started. It definitely started with Lis-sass and Lin-sass, and a conversation about extreme sporting events, including Barb's Race. How I got involved is event is even more of a mystery (at least to me). God knows how, with my experience, why anyone would want me to be part of a swim relay. I guess if you have people who believe in you, you just can't refuse. We had a team name - SassMouth, and then like a bunch of school girls, started to incorporate the word sass or sassy into everything we did (sasskipper, sasscot, happensass). We signed up for the Trans Tahoe Relay 2012 on the day registration opened.

What followed was 7 months of training, and worrying about cold ass water. I was training for Barb's Race too, so as long as I followed the 70.3 training plan, and swam in colder water a few times, I would be fine for a 30 minute leg of the TT Relay. Right?

I don't think I mentioned this in my recap last year, but in my first leg swim leg last year, I panicked. I panicked a lot. So much, that I looked up at our captain on the boat, and saw the concern in her face (maybe). This was not an event for me. I had only started to swim, and I was already doing a major swimming event. I had paid for a room, a boat, and for the entire weekend, and I wished that they had scooped me out of the water and back onto that boat that instant. They could do it without me - they were more worthy of the challenge.

Last year: SCARED. This was before the panic.
It was a horrible feeling.

Sure, I put  my head back under and ventured forward, looking up to make sure my friends were still there. I started to feel better, but it was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I tried to focus on my stroke, the beautiful blue water, the sky above, the lovely mountains on both sides. The last 2 minutes, I got a side stitch but gritted my teeth until I could tag my next teammate in the water. The second leg was a lot better - I decided there was no reason to cry about it, and I was up for the challenge, so I pushed ahead. "Now, I have the hang of this!" I thought.

This year's experience was completely different. Most of my fear was logistical - like driving the boat around a bunch of other boats and swimmers. The swim - I wished it could have lasted longer. One of the most amazing 30 + 15 + 10 minutes of my life. After all of the swimming I've been doing, swimming in Tahoe is now my favorite. There is no gross ocean (aka groscean), no walls to stop and turn around at, no algae or duck poop. Just blue water, as far as the eye can see. It's like swimming through a magical blue crystal that kind of smells like gas (from the boats), but it is magical.

Now that the team has no more residual swaying back and forth from our 6 hour adventure, we look ahead to next year. I wonder what kind of swimmer I will be then.

I can't imagine not being able to swim.

This year: PREPARED! It was a perfect 10 kind of a day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Tapering

1.) Thou shalt have no other goals before me than thine own personal best performance.

2.) Thou shalt not falsify my efforts through self doubt or hold thyself in a negative image.

3.) Thou shalt accept one's shortcomings, but also embrace the times when you ROCKED!

4.) Remember to taper, and keep it holy. You need a little rest.

5.) Honor thy father and mother who giveth thee strength, encouragement, and good athletic genes.

6.) Thou shalt not kill. No killing allowed - even when cranky. Also, no killing yourself with over-training and mental beatings.

7.) Thou shalt not cheat on thy diet. It's not time to start eating massive burritos and drinking wine. Yet.

8.) Thou shalt not steal, unless it is stealing a few more hours of sleep.

9.) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy equipment. Do not blame bike or shoes for shortcomings.

10.) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors awesome time. Do YOUR best, not someone elses'.

Weekend Update: screaming quads before the taper

I'm much more calm about Barb's Race this year, so I don't have a lot to write because I'm feeling like an "old hat" at this 70.3 thing. (Ok, that's a stretch.) There just isn't as much internal training drama going on - I have much more confidence and excitement going into this year's race. At this time last year, I was so over it and was picturing myself slogging over the finish line.

This year, I need to focus on not over-training, and allowing myself some easier workout days.

AKA: The Taper.

Monday night was yoga. Oooouuummmmm.

Saturday morning, I put in 60 miles of cycling with a bunch of elevation and in good company; Old La Honda and Kings Mountain in one day. Oh how far I've come since the days of hating other cyclists for climbing past me while having a full-blown conversation! Now I can converse a little while my quads are burning! It's as easy as walking and chewing gum.

Yeah, it's harder than that actually. Do people really have a problem with that?

On Sunday, I ran the Jungle Run half marathon. I almost set a personal record on the Jungle Run course last year, except that I stopped to pee. This year, did not see a PR in my future, and decided I would run as comfortably as possible, and stay in front of the 1:50 pacer, who talked the entire time...

"There is a curve to the right up ahead. . .  You know this one time (insert personal story here). . .  blah blah blah."

Dude, you are a pacer, not a tour guide. Shut it.

I knew my legs would be a little shot from the ride, but my goal this season has been to run against all odds to mentally prepare for the worst on race day. My quads screamed at me during miles 5, 6 and 7 during the half this weekend. Those are usually my favorite miles of the race. But, I have to mentally prepare, because, on the race day, I'll have other types of fatigue to deal with.

Going to a happy place. Positive reflection. Oooouuummmmm.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My bike is haunted

My bike is haunted.

She had a flat within the first 5 minutes of my first ride. Of course I didn't have the proper equipment to change the tire because I hadn't even put a saddle bag on yet.

The breaks made a horrible, dull, squeaky sound. Kind of like an eerie haunting noice... boooowaaaahaaahaaa.

Her seat hurt my butt and other lady areas. It was only after 20 miles that I noticed. There was a very uncomfortable 30+ miles that followed.

She decides to skip the chain when I start pedaling from a complete stop. I try to shift down before I stop, but sometimes, when least expected, the chain jams and I have to pedal backwards to get the chain to engage properly.

After observing these problems, I took her in a few times for adjustments and a tune up. I made sure she was stocked with the proper equipment: saddle bag with plenty of tire repair, water bottles, a place to put food and my phone. Oh, and I replaced the seat the day after that horrible butt catastrophe.

But, on Saturday I dropped my chain. WTF!

I have some theories to why this is happening:

1.) The bike is just new and needs continuous adjustment before it settles. (Kind of like an old house settles, but this is a new house, and, oh never mind...)

2.) New bike's sister - the Griffen - is jealous. They share a room together, and at night, the Griffen pokes little holes in her tires or threatens her by saying, "You'd better not ride as well as me, or I'm going to bend your derailler, biatch!" So, it is actually my other bike that is haunted. Not the new bike.

3.) It's me. I'm having some troubles with the new bike and I just need to figure out what is causing them, then change me, not the bike. Generally she is very nice.

Knowing the situation, and having some idea of adjustments that could be made, I took my bike to a recommended bike fitter yesterday. I talked to the fitter for over an hour, and we tried a bunch of different positions. My bike seems to fit better now, at least while sitting on the trainer inside the store. The fitter agreed that I look more comfortable riding. Hopefully these adjustments will make the difference. Anyway, I will take her out for a ride tomorrow, then ride the Barb's Race course on Saturday. If I still feel like she is haunting me, I may decide to use her evil sister. Or maybe hire an exorcist.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2014: Let's start planning!

I'm already thinking about 2014, but I've made zero commitments. I will definitely make some. Later. And that 2014 will be epic - again.

Here's what's on my mind:

1.) Be a "streaker" and do ALL of the Tri California events. There are 6 nicely spaced events, including the Wildflower long course, a couple of Olympic distance events, a mud obstacle course, and an Alcatraz swim.

2.) Participate in only Sprint and Olympic distance events and work on speed. I may be more of a short course person - what do you think?

3.) Try to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This sounds horrible, but everyone is doing it. Maybe I'm missing the joy of running at my top speed for 3.5 hours. Hrumm...

4.) Sign up for a long bike ride like the Aids Life Cycle or RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). I've never ridden over 70 miles in one day. This would be a new non-running challenge.

5.) Train for a longer swim, like the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. Only 2.38 miles should only take me 5 hours. Ok, I exaggerate.

6.) Join the Prancercise revolution.

7.) Just go on a really epic vacation, like to Iceland, or Africa.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Random Recap: Because SF is Random

After the Mermaid Half Marathon last month, I knew my running had taken a back seat to everything else. It made me very sad, since I mostly consider myself a runner. Sure, I was happy to still be able to run 13 miles, which I hadn't done since January, but I could feel an unusual tightening in my quads. (It must be the cycling.)

When a friend and work colleague asked me if I wanted to run the San Francisco (2nd half) Marathon, I was game to try out my legs again. And hey - free t-shirt! The first half is over the Golden Gate Bridge, and quite hilly, so I figured the second half - a little run through the park, then through the city - would be a bit easier, and a great practice run for my upcoming 70.3. Running over the GG Bridge is really awesome, but I've never run through the city before.

I added some running miles, and worked my butt off at track workout for the past month. Anyhoo, I ended up beating my 2009 Personal Record by 55 seconds. I'll take it!


Why not? I've been hitting the speed hard. This PR is in my sights. Live for today. Motivate. Motivate. I promise your legs will not fall off.

Hills: There were some rollers in the beginning, so the course was not as easy as I thought. I really had to hustle up and jam back down when I got the chance.

Running on Haight Street: Out the corner of my eye, I think I got flashed by a homeless dude. But, I caught a glimpse of something and started to run faster. I still had miles to do and didn't want to think about this dude's junk for another 45 minutes. There is no San Francisco without a hint of nudity (or just full on nudity) - and the placement on Haight/Ashbury couldn't have been more perfect.

Talkative and noisy guy: It bothers me when people talk as they are running, and even more so when they are trying to chat with me. I'm running at capacity here! Not only that, but he was panting loudly and making disgusting hacking sounds to cough out phlegm.

1:45 pacer in view: He was there, in view, for most of the race. I thought I might catch him during the last three miles. I was close. Sometimes the pacers don't finish in time, so this guy was good.

Hipster Guy bumping tunes from his bike: When running without an iPod, it's great to hear someone play some Nicki Minaj. "Fly" is in my usual music rotation.

Bad bands: There is always one band that makes me want to get out of the area as quickly as possible. This one was a woman singing Bobby McGee.

Getting into a pace-line: I found a couple of people slightly faster than me, and followed them for awhile. I hope I was sneaky about it.

When you are running "Big Data" anything is possible, right?  I love how Silicon Valley this shirt is. HADOOP! 

The finish line that dragged on for miles. Can't beat that weather in San Francisco, though. Awesome day!

Final time according to Garmin. Looks like I ran a little extra, probably to get away from the talkative guy. Official time 1:45:21. Now I have to break 1:45.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eddie just wants to ride his bike!

Trash TV is great. I watch all of the Real Housewives shows because I know they aren't really real. They make me feel good about not having too many material possessions or meaningless relationships.

Well, it turns out one of my favorite housewives was married this past weekend! Yes, Tamra Barney was married to Eddie Judge. Personally, I thought this was a good match the last couple of seasons. He may have something to do with her evolving into a nicer person. Err. . .

Eddie proposed to Tamra last season in Bora Bora. I'm sure that was the producers idea. The entire time Tamra is like, "When are you going to propose??" I can just see the producers saying, "Pssst. . .just let her wait another day, then hide the ring in an oyster shell, like this." Men are awesome, but honestly, they don't sit around thinking about the most romantic thing to do for their woman on a daily basis. If your guy does to that - he's seen it on TV.

This season, the #RHOC (yes, I just did that) are taping a bunch of stuff leading up to the wedding, which apparently happened just this past weekend, after the taping of the show. During one episode, Eddie flat out tells Tamra that he doesn't have time to plan a wedding, and if she wants a wedding, she will have to do a lot of it herself. Tamra says, "If you don't want to get married. Why did you ask?" I'm with Eddie. Getting married and having a wedding are two completely different things.

Anyway, Eddie is a good guy for playing along on most things. He seems to know that she is going to call the shots on all of the girly stuff, and he is obliged to do things her way, especially since they are on a TV show. About her. If I were on my third husband, he would definitely be a good contender.

One thing Eddie likes to do that drives Tamra crazy is ride his bike. "He spends more time on his bike than he does on me." Well, yes, Tamra, because riding a bike takes longer. Duh. In an episode when the group goes to a winery, Eddie misses brunch because his bike ride is taking long than expected. Can you blame the guy? Here's how I see him weighing the choices, 1.) Be at brunch with Vicki Gunvalson, or 2.) ride my bike a bit longer? Hmmmm. Not a tough decision. Bike wins!

Clearly Tamra knows nothing about bike riding, and she needs to let Eddie have his time on the bike. It's not like he wants to ride his bike, he HAS to ride his bike. Also, the reason Eddie is hot is because he rides his bike. So, I'm not sure why she is complaining.

I was happy to read that Eddie's bike was placed front and center on the alter at their wedding. Maybe Tamra is a nice person after all. Although, I hope she told him about it in advance. Cyclists hate when you touch their bike.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Going downhill

Going downhill is scary.

I don't like it at all.

I don't like it with a box, I don't like it with a fox.

Going uphill rocks.

Of course, I'm talking about going downhill on a bike. You know, reaching speeds of 40 miles an hour, then seeing a pin curve in the road ahead. Of course, this rarely happens to me, because I'm fluttering my brakes most of the time. I know it's just practice and a bit of gall, but for now all I can think about it my last breath or what my face would look like after my skull hits a tree or tumbles hundreds of feet to my death below.

Sorry for the visual.

This weekend I rode the Sequoia Century 100k with some Meetup folks. I had been looking for a safe opportunity to climb Tunitas Creek. I had heard horror stories. So, I figured I would try it out with a few hundred other people - safety in numbers. The ride was super awesome, and I'm proud of myself for finishing my longest, most vertical ride ever. Yeah, I had to break up Redwood Gulch, but I made it. The steady climbing up Skyline Boulevard was just fine, and I even liked the 6 miles of Tunitas Creek - sections of 14% grade? Whatever. Totally doable. I met a guy at the bottom of the climb who said, "It's a beautiful ride up," and I focused on that most of the time. Trees, streams, lovely sun beams. Everything about it was breath-taking.

(Pun intended.)

I would climb Tunitas Creek again over and over if I didn't have to go down Alpine Road to get there, or down Kings Mountain to get back to the flat road. I saw a deer on Alpine Road and thought, "Oh deer, please don't move. Please don't come into the road!!" I found myself envious of the people going 6 mph up the steep parts of Kings Mountain, and I was just scared to blink on my way down at 30 mph. I know it just takes some getting used to, and I have yet to encounter such a downhill on a triathlon course so I don't do it very often.

Another metric century in the books. Except this one was 109.4 kilometers. Sneaky ride organizers!

About halfway through, at the lunch stop with GK. I sported my new SVTC riding gear. Gotta break it in! Also, next time I ride next to the beach, I need to remember arm warmers. It got rather cold, and I wasn't expecting it on a 90 degree day inland. It sucks going downhill when you are freezing. (Forgot to mention that earlier.)

After the ride with Steven. The hot meal at the end of this ride was great, and I got to spend an hour with some quality people and compare notes.

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of going downhill. Too risky.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Retiring Choir Robes for Spandex

Those of you who really know me, know that I spent pretty much 30 of my 33.8 years of my life in music. Whether it was dancing in my basement to a Zanadu record as a child, or deciphering budget line items for a performing arts grant - music was my life. Oh yeah, I ran too. But, mostly to stay in shape. It wasn't a life-long goal or anything. I just wanted to look/feel good.

I never felt like athletics were a viable career path. What was one to do with sports after college? I knew I wasn't going to be the next Flo Jo. (This is before I knew there was Kinesiology, Biology, and all of those science-y things. Science was never my strong suit.) So, I studied music. You can always teach, right? I had some talent, and was pretty studious. I had a dream, dammit. I was going to be awesome. I was able to combine my love of education with the arts and had a full time administrative job in the arts (pretty much) right out of college. I was on my way. I also sang in a choral group, was on a board, and spent every waking hour living and breathing the arts.

The arts world really burned me out. The passion I had for performing and being an administrator was thrashed by a series of unfortunately events that may or may not have been my fault. But, in general I was a very unhappy person for a few years. Every day my "career" seemed more and more like a thankless job, and that I was doing it for nothing. Very rarely did anyone ever thank me, or say, "Good job!" or give me a medal for participating. For many years, I thought I was above that, and that my day would come when people would recognize the hard work I put in. That day never came.

I was never one of those people who needed others to blow rainbows up my ass. But, you know, it's nice to hear a people calling your name as you cross the finish line, or have someone encourage you to run with the fast people at track workout. In athletics, people seem so in awe of what you are doing. In the arts, people think you want to be the next Brittany Spears, or wonder why you don't have a "real job."

A couple of years ago, I went crazy, cried myself to sleep every night, hated myself and wished I could have gone back to my life as an 18-year old. I distinctly remember someone sending me a congratulations card for my 5th place 100 meter dash Iowa High School State Track finish, but no one ever sent me crap when I went to State Honor Choir - 3 times. Why didn't I read the signs? Maybe I should have studied business, or medicine, or dang it, I should have taken that track scholarship to the tiny little liberal arts college in Iowa.

Instead of going to a therapist, I met some new people who were not in my arts world.

I started doing triathlons. And I started a career path that supported my triathlon habit.

Triathlon doesn't seem thankless to me. The harder I work, the better I get. Even when I don't do so well, people encourage me to try again. Note: Triathlon is not my "job" though. i.e I don't make any money doing it. Maybe that's where I went wrong with the arts.

I think non-profit arts organizations can learn something from amateur athletics. First, you have to encourage people to participate - despite their age or abilities. If they are 50 years old and want to learn to learn all of the songs of Burt Bacharach,  for the love of God, don't judge - just let them. If they want to bang on a drum, just let them do it, and maybe they will surprise you and want to try the violin too. Most importantly, you have to make it accessible. Shushing people because they sneezed during a Bach cantata isn't going to make anyone like Bach.

As races and  triathlons grow with more and more amateurs who are encouraged to participate, arts organizations are going out of business. Athletics has allowed anyone to get involved - despite age or talent - while the arts have shushed people out. Ironman is going strong, and Sherman Clay (they sell pianos) is going out of business after 121 YEARS. The art of playing an instrument seems a bit archaic, but people all over the place are being encouraged to stay fit, and jump over pits of fire (nod to the Spartan Race) - and people are doing it.

Also, do you know who gets jobs in the Silicon Valley - athletes. Former athletes are sought out by many companies because they are considered to be "team" oriented.

I think the music industry could learn something from the sports industry. You know, spread some endorphin around.

People ask me all the time if I will ever sing again:

Maybe. Only with really happy people. And not Tuesday through Sunday. I have to train.