Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hawaii 70.3 Race Report: A Lesson In Perseverance

I don't even know where to start?? How 'bout with this... MAMA GOT A SLOT TO KONA!!!!

Ok, so I just ruined the ending, but look at the bright side... now you don't have to read this whole darn race report. You already know how it ends. ;)

Moana was a traveling champ all weekend. She's really such an easy baby. I'm amazed all the time at how flexible and cruise she is... The airplane didn't phase her, the new portable crib in a new room didn't phase her, all the people and noise and excitement didn't phase her. Lucky for me, she's just like her dad in so many respects~ 100% adaptable and entirely pleasant.

We rented a condo near the race hotel for the weekend. I booked it through a website (Vacation Rental By Owner) and we were very pleasantly surprised at how nice it was, and how close to the race finish it was as well. When booking it, I swear all I was looking for was the cheapest one in the area, hence, the nice surprise at the granite counter tops and master bathroom that was bigger than our bedroom here at home. The whole weekend kind of went like that- everything just seemed to work out in my favor... mostly just little things, but when you unexpectedly find kombucha at the Foodland right near where you're staying and the electrical tape you thought you forgot to bring shows up in a plastic bag after all, it starts to feel like you're living out The Secret.

Anyway, Moana and I had fun getting ready for the race on Friday afternoon. She might take after me and be a swimmer.

Or a cyclist.

Ok, maybe not a cyclist. Baby doesn't look so pleased wearing the pointy helmet. But I promised her it would make her faster so she humored me and wore it for the picture.

I felt remarkably calm all day on Friday, and even Saturday morning. Truth be told, this was a huge race for me. I'd been training a lot, much more and much harder than I even let on here on the blog over the last few months. I felt like my training had been perfect- certainly enough to get the training effect I'd wanted, but not so much that I was jumping off of any overtraining cliffs either. I've definitely got Jen to thank for that, because she did reinforce rest and recovery a lot more than I would have been able to do for myself. Inherently, I think we all know we need to rest in order to adapt to the training, but in practice that's so hard, because if you take a day off you'll losing every bit that fitness you worked so hard to gain, right? Yeah, I know the feeling.

Anyway, my major goal was to get a slot to Kona. And again, I didn't make that public here on this blog, but many (ok, all) of my friends outside of the blog world knew that was the goal. As if you need another reason to hate me for living in Hawaii, here's one more... State slots. At Hawaii 70.3, local residents don't need to win the age group overall to get a spot to the Big Dance in October. We just need to be the first one in our age group from Hawaii to get ourselves across the finish line. And since it's such a small island, we all know each other and have been racing each other for years (have to prove residency for 3 years before you can apply for resident slot). Anyway, I knew I had a good shot at getting the spot if I had a good race, and this was my only chance to get it. And this year meant more to me than any other because seriously, how cool is it to get to participate in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon before your baby even turns 1? So it was now or never for me, which is why I'm amazed that I could even utter the word calm this weekend.

So, onto the race. We really couldn't have asked for a better swim course. With light winds, the water was as calm as ever, with visibility up to like 200 feet. I swear, swimming in 75 feet on water I could have seen a safety pin in the sand on the bottom, had I been looking. I did look a little, but mostly all I saw was white water bubbles because the guy I was drafting off of was kicking so hard. I got a great start by lining up right behind all the pros. This race is so cool in that we all start at the same time- the pros don't even get a head start! The bad news about lining up where I did was that I think all the fast people had the same idea, so throughout the swim I saw so many people ahead of me... I really thought I was having a bad slow swim. I knew I couldn't go any faster, so briefly it occurred to me that maybe I was having a bad day? I put that thought out of my mind as quickly as it came in and told myself that the swim didn't matter... even if I was having a bad swim it was still going to be fine...

So imagine my pleasant surprise when I got out of the water and saw 28:23 on the clock! Niiice. And then the announcer said 'Luis de la Torre' and I looked behind me and there was the former pro who is a complete bad ass (in the red in the pic). Ok, I was not having a bad day. I was having a great day.

Onto the bike. Control yourself. Control your heart rate. Up the hill. Stay calm. Settle in.

Or... screw all that and just keep flying!! You're rocking it!! Pass that chick up there!! Go GO GO!!!!

No no... settle in. Just relax. You're doing fine. Don't blow your whole race right now...

And so the mental battle continued for about 10 miles. Then I truly did settle in and just felt like a rock star. So may great thoughts went through my head. I knew there were so may of you out there online and cheering for me and~ I'm not kidding~ I felt your energy! Climbing to Hawi was out of this world... I felt like my bike had wings!

It was at this time that it crossed my mind that it really wasn't fair that those other local gals in my age group had to compete against me for the Kona slot. None of them have been though pregnancy or labor, so clearly I had a massive unfair advantage. Because climbing to Hawi yesterday was supposed to be hard but instead it was the easiest thing I've done in a long time.

Right before the top of the climb, my training partner, Motorpace, caught me and passed me. He gave me some encouraging words about what a great race I was having and I was like Monica from Friends, "I know!!" I rode legally behind him for much of the downhill. I was actually right near Bob and Marc at this point as well and I just couldn't believe it had taken them all so long to catch me. But I wasn't complaining. I was feeling your energy, Cat!!!

Anyway, I finished up the bike in good shape. 2:38. Sweet. I'd managed to take in all of the calories I'd planned, drank plenty of fluids, taken some electrolyte tabs, and was envisioning a 5 hour flat finish time. Yeehaw! Go Mama! But when I dismounted my bike and ran it down a little hill toward the rack where my running shoes were waiting, both my quads just seized up on me.

Oh crap!

I sat down in the transition area and as I pulled on my socks (yes, I said socks) I reminded myself to stay calm. This race was mine. Just stay calm and settle down and I was sure my legs would come around and I was going to be just fine.

My mind continued on with these positive thoughts, while my legs wholeheartedly disagreed. My quads were both just completely seizing- like you could see the muscles tightening up into little balls- until I just had to stop. I couldn't even walk at this point. Oh no. I have to at least walk. I have to keep moving forward. Those girls were going to catch me if I didn't keep moving forward. Move forward!!

I'm not a stranger to cramping at the beginning of the run in long races. In fact, it happens a lot, especially when it is Africa Hot and Humid like it was out there yesterday. Typically it just takes a couple of minutes and then I settle in and get my legs back. So I did not panic. Drink water and gatorade and coke at the aid station. Take a powergel (yuck). Swallow a couple more salt tabs. Move forward.

And so it went. I can't tell you a whole lot about the run, except that it was painful. I ran as much as I could, but had to stop and walk quite often to relieve the cramping. And my legs never came back. I battled cramping with every. painful. step. of 13.1 miles over a brutal hot and hilly golf course. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

In good news, there were several out and back sections of the course where I had an opportunity to see who was behind me, and I could tell that none of the local gals in my age group were close, so I had some buffer. Phew! Cause I needed it! By mile 6 I knew that all I had to do was continue with my walk/jog/slugfest and make my timing chip beep at the finish line mat and I was going to get the Kona spot.

A funny thing to me was when spectators on the course would say something like, "Try your hardest" or something dumb like that. Um, ok, this was not a matter of my brain giving up and me just being a wimp. This was a matter of some sort of hydration or electrolyte imbalance that was causing my legs muscles to stop working. It was not like mind over matter. It was more like Mama's gotta get this hydration thing figured out so I can run like I've been training to run. So I can run the way I know I'm capable of. My heart rate wasn't even high on the run because I couldn't make my muscles work hard enough to get it up.

Anyway, I got through the 13.1 miles in 2:04, which was disappointing in many respects considering how hard I'd trained on the run and how much I have improved over the last several months. My run time yesterday was slower than it was last time I did this race 2 years ago, although the run course this year was different so I guess you can't really compare. But still. That part was disappointing for sure.

But you know what?? Mama's going to Kona! So slow run time... whatever!! I had a great swim and a great bike and it gave me enough buffer to slug through the run and still accomplish my goal. And at the end of the day, 5:16 is not a bad time. It certainly wasn't my goal time, but it was still 6 minutes faster than what I did 2 years ago, so I'll take it. For sure.

And check out how excited Moana was to see her mama finish the race!

After the race, Scott was so awesome... grilled some steaks on our backyard BBQ... Nalani and I celebrated with 'Guiness Floats' (her idea~ I'd never had one but I tell ya what, they're yummy!)

So now, it's Ironman training for me! Yippee! I love training long. Kona this year will be my 9th Ironman. Moana's first. Sweet. I have much more to say on all this, and I'll have plenty of time this week while I'm recovering to get it on down on computer screen. For now though, it's off to bed where I can have some sweet dreams... and hope that maybe I'll be able to walk in the morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Oh boy! Oh boy! Here we GO!! Moana's first plane ride.

Oh please (oh please) let her be tired and just sleep. Of course, now that she is 7 months old (I know, can you believe it??), she sleeps a lot less than she did when she was really little. And especially in new place, she won't even think about allowing herself to sleep. In fact, she may not sleep this whole weekend.

In my old life I was that single gal in the airport who shivered at the sight of a baby boarding the plane with her mom. And I might have, once or twice, rolled my eyes (or something) when said baby was making noise. I just have this feeling that today is the day I will pay for those sins. So to all the moms out there who were at any time a victim of my airplane stink eye, please forgive me. I really am sorry. I just didn't know what it was like before.

Seriously, this is going to be an exciting weekend for Moana. I was just reviewing the Athlete Guide for the race and trying to figure out how to arrange our day tomorrow so we all have fun but I also get in all the stuff I need to. I think our day will look something like this:

AM: Go to Hapuna Beach for swim/ride/run. Just a couple minutes each sport, which will just get me more psyched up to race. As if I need that.

Scott and Moana can play at the beach while I'm taking care of business and then hopefully we can all hang out and play a little together. In 2007 when I was out doing my pre-race swim at Hapuna I saw a manta ray swimming around... mantas are seriously the most beautiful creatures in the water. So. Graceful. I'll be looking for one again this year for sure!

Then I'll have to go pick up my race packet and all that goes with it. Spend the day packing my bags into transition gear bags and chillin' with my feet up somewhere... Oh, and playing with a baby who will no doubt be mesmerized by all the newness. I wonder how many other athletes there will spend the evening before the race giving their baby a bath? In The Big Tub, nonetheless. Last time we tried a bath in The Big Tub there was a total meltdown.

Speaking of meltdowns, I think there may be a few on the run course this year. Our winds have been very light for the last several weeks and will continue to be light throughout the weekend. Which means that it's HOT. Really Hot. And humid. Sticky humid. Warning: Failure to pace correctly on the bike or a miscalculation of how much fluid/electrolytes one needs may result in massive meltdowns on the run.

Cat reminded me last night that ilovetheheatithriveintheheatilovetheheatithriveintheheatilovetheheatithriveintheheatilovetheheatithriveintheheat. I'll try to remember that on Saturday when I'm ready to rip my skin off so I can cool down.

So if you're curious about how the race is going, I think you will be able to follow it on Usually they have an athlete tracker (sort for W35-39) that'll give you our splits along the way so it'll be just like you're there. Sort of. Except you won't be there. It would be better if you were there. Screaming your head off at me. But I guess following along on your computer will suffice. ;)

One great thing about this race is that we all (men and women) start together at 7:00 AM. No wave starts. I love that. Let's race.

By the way, Scott just dared me to wear my pointy helmet on the plane. He said he would wear it if it fit him, but it doesn't fit him. Likely excuse. See? Everyone is full of excuses already and the race hasn't even started yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Excuses

Just sitting here... waiting for the gun to go off so we can just start racing already... except that gun isn't going to go off for several more days (4, but who's counting?) and I'm not actually done packing yet and we still have to get ourselves over to the Big Island...

Taper week is crazy... as in I'm going crazy... because really I just love to train long and hard and all this short stuff with 30 second pick-ups is killing me. It's a different kind of taper than I've ever done before... hopefully one that leads to 'peaking', whatever that means. I don't think I've ever actually 'peaked' before, even when I've been 'rested' for a race.

One thing that has helped me get through this week has been reviewing my log book. When you've been lucky enough not to get sick or injured during your training, and have had a high level of motivation to get through all of your workouts exactly as prescribed (with a coach who actually knows how to prescribe them!), it really leaves you with no excuses come race day. You know, usually I've got some sort of excuse up my sleeve... something to throw out the week before that gives a reason as to why my race might not be as fast as I wanted it to be... but this time, I have no excuse. I've done all the work*. I've been healthy. My nutrition has been good. I've slept and recovered appropriately. I feel great.

It's almost scary, knowing how prepared I am. Because the fear is still there, lurking in the back of my head, like what if it all doesn't come together like it should? What does that mean? I try not to think about that. Instead, I'm trying to envision the race turning out like I want it to.

So before we go, I have to give a huge thank you to a bunch of people who have really helped make these past few months the most enjoyable I can remember in my (long!) training history.

First of all, a huge thanks to Jen for sending me all those workouts week after week and really helping me focus on my run. I did more specific run training this year than I ever thought possible and 100% of the improvement I'm about to show myself during that 13.1 mile run is due to her guidance. Thanks, Jen!

And to my incredible swim/run partner, Nalani... you are the best!! I couldn't have asked for a more consistent, reliable, positive person to get to play with these last few months. And I can't wait to see you racing out there on Saturday. I'm sure you are going to impress yourself immensely! And you deserve every bit of it.

To my new friend, Jenny... like looking in a mirror, she said when we first met... YES! Without having you to trade off kid watching duties, I wouldn't have been able to get myself outside on my bike twice a week in the middle of the week... I wouldn't have been able to do those intervals week after week up Pineapple Hill... and I wouldn't have had another good friend to cheer for out on the race course! I hope your race is incredible as well. :)

My consistent and reliable biking partners Mike and Sandy and Spence and Amy and the rest of the Pac Velo crew... thank you for teaching me how fast I can go on the bike and how hard I can push for hours on end. Riding with you guys week after week was like motor-pacing. Pac Velo is going to have quite the showing this weekend, no?

To Ryan over at Island Triathlon and Bike- thank you for going over my bike with a fine-toothed comb and making sure it's going to work perfectly on race day.

All you bloggy friends out there... I've been more inspired and motivated because of so many of you. It'll be great to know that so many people I consider friends (even though we've never met!) cheering for me while watching online on Saturday. :)

And of course, none of this would have been even remotely possible without the 100% support of my awesome husband, Scott. The flexibility he has shown in allowing me to train every morning before he goes to work... all the Saturday mornings he didn't blink as I snapped on my helmet and pedaled away...

So you know what? No matter how bad it starts to hurt on Saturday, it won't hurt as bad as giving birth without drugs. So it's not going to kill me. And no matter how it turns out, I'm going to have a wonderful husband and a precious baby who think I'm the greatest waiting for me at the finish line. And I'll know that I did everything I could (legally, of course!) to give myself the best shot at having my perfect race. That's really what it's all about, isn't it?

*In reviewing my log book, I had to use all of my fingers (and most of my toes) to count the number of 56+ mile rides I did this year with brick runs afterward. And though my log book in 2007 (last time I trained for this race) had quite a few entries that said, "Slept in and skipped it", this year the number of times I wrote that was zero. Seriously, it's almost scary.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And The Surf Lessons Continue...

Today not only did Moana get to continue her surf lessons, Hoku did as well!

Hoku is like her mom. She prefers swimming without the board.

I met my friends Nalani and Ellen at Lanipo this morning and we swam out to the island you see in the first picture. It was, once again, an incredible day here. Our winds have been 'light and variable' for something like 3-4 weeks now, which makes for perfect glassy ocean conditions. If the winds stay down like this for 6 more days, it's gonna be a fast bike ride to Hawi... followed by a hot run where lots of people will melt.

Anyway, Moana got her weekly dose of sand eating. I wonder if sand counts as a 'Super Food'?

Scott was happy as he was able to get Moana back on his surfboard... this time while it was in the water (not just on sand)! She wasn't so sure about standing up on that floaty thing. It sure wasn't very stable. Good thing dad was holding on tight.

Sitting was cool though. I think she was mesmerized by the wax on his board. It was tough to get her to look up.

Currently, the dog and the baby are both knocked out and snoring. Not kidding. My baby is snoring. I think it's because she has a bunch of sand up her nose.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Whammy's!!

Woohoo! I survived the last weekend brick before Honu! The last weekend ride before a big race always makes me nervous... I always have this fear that I'm going to crash or get hit by a car or something... so I'm happy to report that it was mostly uneventful and I felt spectacular.

I started with my normal group- most of the Pac Velo Tri Team members- who were all planning on riding up to Sunset Beach and back... 62 miles. Earlier this week Jen said she would fly to Hawaii and beat me with a wet noodle (HA!) if I did that this weekend... So I told Mike that I was going to turn around early and not to worry about me.

Mike then asked the group, "Who is not going to Sunset?"

I raised my hand. The only person out of the 9 of us to do so.

Spence laughed. "One person!"

Mike's motto lately has been "Mimimalists needs not apply." So now I am shamed, but maybe they'll forgive me when I go have a great race next weekend. ;) Actually, it's all in good fun and I don't think anyone really cared one way or the other. 40 miles or 60 miles the weekend before the race... whatever floats your boat.

In Moana news... isn't it cool when your kid mimics you? Check out her Downward Dog.

And plank! Apparently Moana wants a strong core. Just like her Mama.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Super Food

One of the many benefits to having friends that are also moms is all the good stuff you can learn from them about raising your kid.

Last week Jenny introduced me to this book, Super Baby Foods, by Ruth Yaron. Since Moana is now eating some solid foods everyday, it's time for me to start thinking about her nutrition.

For a long time I've been pretty good about fueling my own body with good foods... you know, stuff that is (or was recently) alive... greens and fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and beans... Scott and I eat meat sometimes but I'm not a huge fan of cooking it so many of our meals are vegetarian. And it's crystal clear to me how much better I feel (physically and mentally) when I'm eating well. So it only makes sense that what I feed Moana will have an impact on how she feels as well.

I know if I was working full time outside the home I might not feel like I needed to go so far as to make all of Moana's food... not when those little jars are so convenient! But since my job right now is to be a mom (and I've always been an overachiever), I've taken a lot of what this book says to heart and have started experimenting with making my own baby food. Truth be told, it's pretty easy right now because she's not eating a massive variety of food quite yet... so I shouldn't give myself too much credit for mashing up a ripe banana or avocado and mixing it up with some plain yogurt and spooning it into the girl's mouth.

But I have to say, so far it's not nearly as hard or as complicated as I previously thought to prepare Super Foods for Moana. The book spells it all out and makes it simple. Heck, grind up organic brown rice in your food processor until it's like powder and cook it in boiling water for 10 minutes and you've got real rice cereal that actually tastes good. And as Moana gets older the book gives ideas of what to add to the rice cereal to make it "Super Porridge". Somehow the idea of feeding Moana Super Porridge sits well with me. :) And she seems to like it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It's now just 11 days until Hawaii 70.3 race on the Big Island. Let the taper begin! Yeehaw! Mama's been training her brains out for months and it's finally time to kick back, put the legs up, and relax while reading a book.

Right, Jen?

This is the first time I'm being coached through a taper, which is nice. Because this time I don't have to question the heck out of everything I do... Is it enough? Is it too much? Did I go too hard? Did I go hard enough? This time I'm just doing what Jen tells me to do and believing that my body will respond appropriately on race day.

TRUST. It's all about TRUST. Got it. I trust. I swear.

Although a major difference between what she's having me do and what I've done in the past is that this time I'm getting "taper" workouts that include the word "Brutal" in the description. As in, go to the track and make it hurt like never before. "ALL OUT MAX EFFORT", it says. WRITTEN IN CAPITAL LETTERS SO I CAN'T MISS THE INSTRUCTIONS.

See, I never would have thought of that. In my (old) world taper = rest. But I guess the rest will come later. Stay tuned next weekend to find out how it works!

Monday, May 18, 2009

These Things I Promise You

A year ago, Scott and I said this to each other... in front of about 50 of our friends and family members...

From this day forward I promise you these things.
I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow.
I will share in your dreams, and support you as you strive to achieve your
I will listen to you with compassion and understanding,
and speak to you with encouragement.
I will help you when you need it, and step aside when you don't.
I will remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health.
You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always.

It's interesting to look back a year later and wonder if you've followed through on your promises. Scott and I talked about it and decided that we did a great job together this past year! There may have been some doubters out there... considering the circumstances around our rushed wedding (hurry up and get hitched before her belly is too big and she can't fit into her dress!)... so we only had about 6 months together alone as a married couple before Moana entered the picture and anyone who's ever been pregnant can imagine some of the emotional over-reactions I had in those months! But the good news is that Scott is one of the most loving and patient and understanding men on the planet and he's in it for the long haul, so he put up with me and my hormones just fine.

It was really nice of one of our friends to volunteer to come over last night and put Moana to bed for us so we could go out to dinner alone. Time without the baby to reconnect with your husband is pretty important and it was good for us to be able to talk about our long term goals and all that. We threw around the idea of moving to the mainland at some point, but don't get too excited about that, mom, because neither of us could actually imagine leaving here in the next 5 years. And considering how much I shivered and complained of being cold while we were walking home in the 70 degree night, it's probably best for everyone if we just stay here. Who am I kidding? I can't live on the mainland.

And besides, I think it's so cool that Moana gets to grow up here. Yesterday, we took her up to da north shore where she got her first surfing lesson from her dad. She's learning the advanced 'Toes on da nose' technique right off the bat.

Or maybe a baby should just sit and play with her toes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Worth The Effort

Phew! What a busy week. I guess the good thing about busy weeks is that they go by really quickly. I can't believe it's Thursday afternoon already.

The last two days I've been doing the baby exchange thing with my new triathlete/mom friend Jenny. So yes, folks, TWO DAYS IN A ROW OUTSIDE ON MY BIKE! Glorious.

Though I have to say, it's a lot of work for a two hour bike ride. Yesterday I was coming home from Jenny's house... having left here at 9:00 AM and not driving home until 5:00... my X-Terra packed to the brim with my bike, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottles, cliff bars, recovery drink, Moana's toys, diaper bag, food/bottles, change of clothes for both of us... It takes several trips to the car on both ends to transport all the stuff. Of course I didn't bring enough food for myself so I was starving and since I forgot my salt tabs it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to suck on my helmet strap on the way home to replace some of that lost sodium. And I was just about out of gas but hoping I could make it without stopping at a gas station because I needed to get home soon b/c the dog hadn't been walked all day and I needed to feed the baby again and give the baby a bath and get her down to bed and then figure out if there was enough fresh food in the house so Scott and I could eat dinner... And I hadn't even taken a shower yet. AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

And then seriously my whole day was over. You know I didn't read a single blog yesterday? I know. Tragedy.

All for a two hour bike ride.

But as I was driving home, I was thinking about how it is so much more than that. The day wasn't just about the ride. Sure, it was awesome that I got it in, but really the day was about establishing a new friendship with Jenny. It was about sharing our ideas about raising our daughters... it was about trading training tips and racing strategies and figuring out that our coaches must share a brain (Jen- do you share a brain with Jimmy Riccotello? Jenny thinks you might.) It was about allowing our daughters to socialize with each other and have time in a new environment with new toys and things to look at. Plus, Moana gets to show off her rocking-back-and-forth-on-her-hands-and-knees skills to someone other than me.

Though I'm not sure Sadie is as easily impressed as I am.

Anyway, in order to make this new friendship happen, I need to put in some effort. Close friendships don't just happen on their own. Well, maybe they did when we were kids, but as adults, and especially now as moms, leading our own busy lives, I find that I have to go out of my way now to establish and nurture close friendships. Jenny and I have so much in common, and the more time we spend together, the more I like her. The reason it takes all day for us to each get our workouts in is because before and after each one we are tending to our daughters' needs and chatting it up with each other.

Today Jenny brought Sadie here. Truth be told, I was nervous about having a 16 month old here because this house is not baby proofed. Last night at 9:00 I mentioned to Scott that we should baby-proof it. We looked around like the bewildered parents we are... moved a couple of picture frames up off the low shelves and called it safe enough. And I guess for the couple of hours today, it was. Save for the bump on her head from getting hit by Moana's swing while trying to retrieve her dropped ball, Sadie left here unscathed.

So even though it takes a lot of effort to get together like we do, it's worth it for both of us. The sanity, the friendship, the change of scenery... it's all worth it. And now we will each have yet another friendly face to knowingly smile at when we're out on the Honu race course in the next couple of weeks. And that, my friends, is Priceless. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Swim Like A Mother

What a fantastic day!

Today I got to start off my first Mother's day with an ocean swim race... Yippee! Ocean Swim Racing 2009 has finally begun!

This is the Popoia Swim that my masters team puts on. We call it Flat Island Swim because we swim around the Flat Island. Get it?

Supposedly it's 1.6 miles, but I finished it in 35 minutes today so I don't think it could have been quite that long. I mean, I'm swimming pretty well right now, but I don't think I'm swimming that fast.

Funny story. You'll like this. Two years ago I was on the board of directors for the masters team so we were in charge of putting on this race. To that end, I was at the beach before the sun even came up helping to get everything set up. I saw this guy... a really HOT guy... playing with his dog on the beach that morning. He looked like such a great guy. I mean seriously- how awesome is a guy who takes his dog to play at the beach at sunrise on a Sunday morning? Especially one who is so hot? And why couldn't I find a great guy like that??

Anyway, I got back to my job of setting up the finish line flags and then the hot guy was gone. Bummer. I lamented my bad luck that I would likely never see him again. But you know what? I ended up meeting him at a Starbucks about 3 weeks later... yes, a first date at the coffee shop! (It's Okay To Look) The funniest part is that I didn't actually know it was the same guy until we had been dating a while and I was telling him a story about that swim... and he said he was there that morning and saw it going on... and I was like, "OH MY GOSH YOU ARE THE HOT GUY!??!!?"

The rest is history and this year he was playing with his beautiful daughter on the beach instead of his (our) dog.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the swim this morning. It was a beautiful morning with relatively light winds so the water was pretty calm and quite clear. The only negative part was that it was low tide. And this is only really a negative because we had to swim back behind that island where there is usually a little surf. Getting pummeled by white water crashing waves when you're in about a foot of water over reef isn't so cool. And then at one point we had to get across a stretch of maybe 25 meters of water that was maybe 3 inches deep. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it is true that it was too shallow to actually take a swim stroke and I had to scull my way across that section... just hoping I wasn't going to rip the chest off my brand new Blue Seventy suit on that shallow sharp reef. I did cut the top of my foot. But at least I didn't rip my suit.*

Other than that, I had a great swim. I was in the first pack of maybe 6-7 swimmers. I think there were 2 or 3 guys solo up ahead of us, and then our pack was next. It included the top four women overall and I ended up running up the beach as the 2nd place female, 5th overall I think? I don't know where all the fast guys were today? The girls placed 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th overall today. Girls rock. I was the only mom in that group so I won the "Mother's Division" which was pretty cool.

The best part was showing Moana off to everyone after the race. This is her 'My mommy is faster than you' look she gave to the gal who came in right behind me today. I'm going to have to teach Moana to be a better sport.

Ok this is better, Moana.

Afterward I did my usual weekend bike/run brick. It was good to do that workout after a max effort in the ocean like I had this morning. I'm ready for Honu. :)

In other good news, I PR'd a 5K yesterday morning! I was hoping to run right around 22 minutes, thought I could probably do it but wasn't quite sure... it was one of those possibly achievable goals that was still a stretch... but I crossed the line in 21:41 and was just really happy! The hard work on the track is paying off. Seriously, for a swimmer like me who has never been a good runner, to average under 7 minute pace for 3 miles is really sweet.

*By the way, I wore my Blue Seventy today because A) I wanted to try it out before Honu and B) I was curious about how much faster it would make me. I figured it would be a good test because without it I think I would have been right with Nalani, so I figured that however much I beat her by while wearing the suit would be a pretty accurate gauge of the suit's advantage. I beat Nalani by about 10 seconds today. So the suit is probably not worth it unless you need the psychological advantage.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eating Sand

Except for the pooping incident, we had a great time at the beach today with Kelley and Sara.

As expected, Moana just couldn't keep the sand out of her mouth. Apparently it's just too tempting and had to be tasted.

I suppose I could have been a more conscientious mom and stopped her before she got her sandy little hands in her mouth, but that wouldn't have made for a very good blog post now, would it?

If you blow this picture up, you can see the sand all over her face. It was also in her ears, her feet, her diaper...

When we were just about done I took her back into the ocean to get washed off as best we could. That entailed getting most of her body submerged in the water, and since it was a bit choppy out there today, at one point a wave washed up over her head. I thought maybe she would have been scared by that, but instead she just got this interested look on her face and then licked her lips. Apparently to see how that salt water tasted.

Finally it was time to go so Kelley and I took our daughters up to our blankets to get them changed into dry clothes. I took off Moana's disposable Little Swimmer diaper (can I tell you now how glad I am that I chose the disposable one instead of the reusable one??) and watery poop just came out all over the blanket. Ugh.

You know, Hoku (our dog) gets the squirts when she goes to the beach because she ingests too much salt water and sand. Apparently Moana does as well. I didn't think she'd ingested that much, but I guess a little goes a long way when you're talking about a little baby.

I really wanted to throw out the big beach blanket. Right. In. The. Garbage. Because... well... YUCK. But I folded it up and gave it to Scott who promised he would get it clean. I mean, I clean up baby poop, dog poop, and cat poop every day. I also clean our toilets on a pretty regular basis. But washing poop like that out of the blanket really went beyond my poop cleaning abilities.

Taste Tester

Moana is on the verge... of mobility... yesterday for the first time she got her belly off the floor while on her hands and knees. And boy does it make her proud! BIG smiles and some primal screaming from her when she's up. Today she started rocking back and forth while in that position. So far she's only figured out how to move herself backwards. (Apparently the remote control isn't yet enough of a carrot to move forward for.)

I don't know why I'm encouraging her to move since everyone says that's the end of getting anything done around the house while the baby is awake. I guess its the drive inside me that is always encouraging development and progress. I expect it from myself and I hope for it from my daughter. So what I'm saying is that this may be the last week I'll be able to get any laundry done.

She can almost run in this scooter thing now. I usually let her cruise around on our patio in the mornings and she digs it. Remember that out of control dill plant I wrote about a few week ago? In the true 6-month-old-baby-spirit of tasting everything she can get her hands on, Moana let me know that it doesn't really taste so great.

I'm excited for a fun weekend coming up! I'm running a 5K tomorrow morning. Clearly I am not over trained because the thought of killing myself for 3.1 miles is quite exciting to me! I haven't run a 5K in two years so am curious about what I can do. I ran something like 23:20 at this same race in 2007. Race pace calculators tell me at this point (based on my recent 10K's) that I should be running right around 22 minutes flat, so of course I think it would be cool to cross the finish line in 21:xx. We'll see if I can do it tomorrow.

Then on Sunday we've got the first ocean swim race of 2009! I live for ocean swim races. There are like 8 of them each spring/summer and they excite me so much! This one is put on by my masters team and since it falls on Mother's Day each year, they have a special awards category for mothers. And guess who gets to race as a mom for the first time this year? Bet you can't guess!! Ha! Anyway, it'll be really fun to hang with some of my old ocean swimming buddies that I haven't had time to play with much this year.

So it's a beautiful Aloha Friday here. Moana and I are going to go meet Kelley and Sara down at the beach here in a little bit. The ocean water is warm now and babies love it. There's nothing like sitting in the sand and having the gentle ocean waves roll up onto your legs. That, and it's about time Moana gets accustomed to eating sand.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank You

First of all, thank you all for your nice comments the other day regarding my Hodgkin's journey. It was healing in a way for me to write all that out. People who know me in real life knew bits and pieces of that story but I don't think even my husband knew it all. Actually, that's not all of it. Not even close. But it's enough for now.

It's not that I keep it a secret or don't want to talk about it. More that I'm just not sure people actually want to listen to it? Might still be a backlash of having my BF remove himself from me during that time. I learned that some people just can't handle it, so maybe rather than risk having people keep you at an arm's length because they don't understand, it can be easier to just keep quiet about it.

I do, however, reveal my story to just about anyone who I hear has been diagnosed. I remember desperately wanting to hear from other athletes who had been through cancer and its treatments, so now I almost look at it as my duty to share with others when they are confronted with the news. It's good to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel when you find out that you have cancer.

To that end, if any of you know someone who gets the news that chemotherapy is on their agenda, feel free to put them in touch with me. There really is something special about being able to talk directly with someone who truly understands. It's part of that 'club' thing that I'm a mandatory member of now. ;)

And to IronMatron Mary- that's cool that you're running the Marathon for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Funny story- I ran the Cal International Marathon in 1997 for the Leukemia Society. (Unknowingly paying it forward?) At that time it wasn't also Lymphoma (they added Lymphoma the following year I think). Anyway, in 2000 when I was doing Wildflower, I ended up running alongside a gal who was racing in her purple Leukemia Society singlet. We ran together for a couple miles and I actually shared part of my story with her and thanked her for her participation in the program. That was pretty cool for both of us.

Moving on...

In Moana news, look who gets to sit in the cart like a big girl now at the grocery store?

Having her in the cart is a heck of a lot easier than carrying her in the Baby Bjorn. Now I can actually lift the bag of dog food into the cart without worrying about knocking Moana's head.

Assuming the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I'll have to watch out when she starts talking. My mom told me that when I was little I'd hit up anyone in the grocery store for conversation. Once, Mom said she walked away for a second to pick out something from another aisle and came back to find me firing questions at another lady who happened to be within earshot. How may kids do you have? What's your dogs' name? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

10 Years Ago...

May 5, 1999
I was walking through the parking garage of the Cleveland Clinic when my mom's cell phone rang. We just spent the entire day at the Clinic, going from Dr to Dr to see if anyone could diagnose those lumps in my neck. My blood pressure was taken four times throughout the day and not surprisingly, went up each time. And now Dr. Esclamado was on the phone and wanted to talk to me.

"You have Hodgkin's Lymphoma." He said quite factually.

"What's that?" I asked. Completely naive.

"It's a cancer of the lymphatic system..." he began. I'm not sure I heard much else. Something about some tough days up ahead but a 97% cure rate for this type of cancer.

With my mom in tears and me in a complete state of shock, we got in the car and headed home. I didn't know how something like this could happen to me. I was 25 years old. And I was the healthiest person in that whole damn hospital.

Four days earlier, wetsuit on, I had been in Lake San Antonio waiting for the gun to go off, signaling my wave start at the Wildflower 1/2 Ironman Triathlon. My neck was lumpy and swollen and kinda sore. A doctor told me just before we left for the weekend race that maybe I had mono... we wouldn't know for sure until the test results came back. I told him I couldn't have mono... that he didn't understand my lifestyle. Mono wouldn't fit into my summer racing plans of three half-ironmans and and my third full Ironman. He replied to me, "No, you don't understand. If you have mono, we jump up and down and clap our hands." I had no idea what that crazy doctor meant when he said that but I didn't ask for clarification. I just stomped out of his office, determined to go race the half-ironman I'd been training for.

May 1, 1999
I crossed the finish line at Wildflower in 5:41, a disappointment at the time. My first thoughts after crossing the line... I just didn't have it today. No race gear. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I'm not so upset about that 5:41.

Back in Cleveland at my mom's house, the first thing I did upon arriving home from the hospital was to go for a run. I know my mom thought I was crazy. I'd just been diagnosed with cancer an hour ago and now I'm going to go for a run?? But it was the only way I knew to clear out my mind and figure things out.

45 minutes later I calmly re-entered my mom's house. My summer was planned out in my head. I would go back to my one-bedroom apartment in Tempe, AZ, find a doctor there who would do the staging Dr. Esclamado talked about, and figure out my treatment plan. I was going to continue to live my life as normally as possible throughout this whole thing. I was going to be just fine. Shoot, maybe I'd even do that next race in Lubbock, TX that I was signed up for.

June 1999
The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale had accepted me as a patient. The numerous tests and scans I went through called my Hodgkin's stage 2a, meaning it had spread down my neck to my chest and armpit, but that other than the lumps, I was symptom-free. It had not passed below my diaphragm, which was good for my prognosis. I would go through four months of chemo followed by a month of daily radiation.

I cried as the first bit of chemo was injected into my i.v. I felt like I was joining a club that I did not want to be a member of. But now that I was a member, I could never get out of the club.

My treatments were every two weeks, usually on a Friday. With that schedule I was able to alternate bad weekends with not-so-bad weekends. That first not-so-bad weekend was the weekend of the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon (1/2 Ironman) in Lubbock, TX, I was entered in. I asked the doctor if it would be ok if I still did the race, even though it was after my first chemo treatment. He told me that I could if I felt like it. I think he figured I wouldn't feel like it. But you know what? I felt like it.

June 27, 1999
I flew to Texas with my friends, unpacked my bike, and started swimming when the gun went off. That was a cool race for me, because it was the first one I'd ever done where I seriously about my finish time. It was just about getting to the line that mattered to me. I wanted that finisher's shirt. I wanted to wear that finisher's shirt at my next chemo treatment. To impress the nurses.

Somehow I got to that line in under 6 hours which was a complete shock to me since I walked so much of the 1/2 marathon. It was actually kinda cool being in the back of the pack. People were way more friendly on the run course and there were lots of people with great attitudes to talk to as we trudged along toward the final timing mat. It gave me a whole different perspective on triathlon.

June 30, 1999
At my second chemo treatment. Notice that cool shirt.

That was the end of any more triathlon racing for the year. I pleaded my case with the race directors at IM Lake Placid to roll my entry over to the following year, which they flatly refused to do. That was, until Scott Tinley somehow heard about my request and did whatever he had to do to make it happen. NOT KIDDING- Scott Tinley called me up on the phone and told me that my entry to Ironman Lake Placid had been rolled over to the following year. He is awesome. He didn't know me from anyone and totally didn't have to do that, but he did. And I'm forever a fan.

July 2, 1999
I cried again, but this time it was watching Lance Armstrong win the Prologue of the Tour de France for the first time. Having just completed my second chemo treatment, Lance was my hero. So even though I will be eternally bummed out that he divorced his awesome wife, his accomplishments post-cancer have been an especially personal inspiration to me. I can't help but cheer for him at the Tour again this year.


September 1999
I had my hair cut short because it was all falling out. Eventually I shaved my head. There's a picture of me bald somewhere... just one picture... It's not digital and I'm not sure where it is right now, so you'll just have to use your imagination on that one. Unfortunately I didn't have any cool boyfriend who would shave his head with me. No. My boyfriend at the time broke up with me and started dating one of my training partners. It was after a big fight we had. I was leaving the emergency room at the Mayo Clinic, where I'd been because my red blood cell count had dropped so severely that I couldn't stand up without getting dizzy and feeling like I might pass out. They were talking about giving me a blood transfusion. The BF showed up to be with me a few hours later, with wet hair and goggle marks. Then as we were leaving he asked me if I was going to go to the Triathlon Club meeting that night. Um, no. I think since I spent the whole day in the ER, maybe it would be better if I skipped that meeting and went home to rest. He then said that he didn't like it that my whole life was about cancer now. Um, yeah, it was. So that was the end of that.

Onward and upward...

November, 1999
After 4 months of chemo and plenty of complications that I won't go into right now, it was finally time to move on to radiation. I was looking forward to this because I'd heard that radiation was easier than chemo. Just a daily blast that lasted like 15 seconds. How hard could that be?

I guess it's different for everyone, and of course depends on the area of your body that they are radiating. In my case, they aimed the lasers at my neck and chest, which unfortunately burned my throat in a way that cannot be explained in words. One nurse compared it to getting a blistering sunburn on the inside of your throat. And then being re-exposed to the sun over and over again everyday so it just keeps getting worse. Yeah, something like that. Like I couldn't swallow my own spit because it hurt so bad. And the pain meds they gave me made me nauseous so I threw up 3 to 4 times a day. Acidic puke was not good on my burnt throat. I didn't eat or drink much for the four weeks I went through radiation. In fact, I slept alone in my dark bedroom for something like 18 hours a day just willing this time of my life to be over. At one point, even willing my whole life to be over. I told my doctor, in the last week of treatment, that I would rather die than go in and be blasted by that radiation machine again. Her reaction surprised me. I thought she would force me into the room and make me do it. Instead, she treated me like the adult I was and told me that it was my choice. She told me the statistics on survival rates based upon the total amount of radiation patients received and left me alone in her office to think about it.

Those were possibly the worst 30 minutes of my life as I cried (again) and argued with myself about whether or not I would choose to continue on. It reminded me of being at mile 22 of the marathon in an Ironman. How miserable you can feel at that point, yet being so close to the finish line. Sitting in that doctor's office, I felt like I was there. At mile 22. And there was a bus offering to drive me the rest of the way. But then there would be no finisher's medal. And I would have to explain to my mom and everyone else why I quit. Ok. I could not quit. I was not going to explain to anyone that I quit. Radiate away. I'll just keep sleeping. And puking. And feeling miserable all the way until the end.

December 3, 1999
It was the last day of radiation. Officially the end of my cancer treatments. I drove myself up to the clinic, stopping once on the side of the road to puke out my car door. Puked again in the bushes on the way into the building. I forced myself to walk in and let them zap me one last time. I was so skinny and sick and dehydrated and grey by this time that afterward, rather than letting me go home, they sent me back up to the chemo unit for an i.v. of fluids and electrolytes. Being in the chemo unit made me feel even worse. Especially since I was too dehydrated for them to start an i.v. My veins kept collapsing, and after three tries, I took the power away from the failed vampire and walked myself out to my car, promising that I would drink a bunch of gatorade instead of letting them try with that needle again.

December 10, 1999
After another week alone in my dark bedroom, I emerged with a slightly better ability to swallow. I walked into my bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet, removed all the pain meds and anti-nausea meds and other meds to combat the side effects of all those meds and dumped them all down the toilet. Flush. Ok, I know. Not the most environmentally friendly thing to do. But cut me some slack. It was a monumental moment in my life to get rid of all those meds. Time to let my body heal on its own.

And heal it did. Our bodies are amazing in their abilities to heal themselves.

May 6, 2000
I finished Wildflower 1/2 IM again. It was a huge celebration for me to complete the course again one year post diagnosis.

So if you've ever read this blog before, you know this story has a happy ending. Now I have an awesome husband who has his priorities straight, and the chemo didn't impact my ability to have kids after all. Ten years later... Life is good. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Just put Moana to bed in her cage... I mean, crib. She's 6+ months old now and will soon be trying to climb out of the thing so the doctor recommended that we lower the mattress. Scott just did it. And now her bed feels more like a cage. At least to me. She doesn't seem to mind the change.

Seems plenty of things have evolved around here now that Moana can sit up on her own. She sits in her high chair now to eat. It works a lot better for us than the bumbo chair or bouncy chair. She chowed down the poi today. Open mouth. Insert spoon. That is, when she's not playing with the toy that's attached to the high chair tray.

Bath time has evolved from a 5 minute quest to get a baby clean into a 30 minute fun activity to keep an overly tired baby from being all fussy in the early evening. Tonight she was whining about who knows what so we went upstairs where she stayed in her little bubbly bath tub until her fingers were like prunes. It's a real challenge for a baby to get her little hands on those soapy and slippery bath toys. But it sure keeps her occupied and not whiny.

Things are evolving for me on the training front as well. Lately, thanks to the help of a good coach, I've really started thinking about my workouts as either being key training sessions, or just recovery efforts. And in between key sessions, I'm all about getting my legs back as quickly as possible. Toward that end, ice baths have evolved into a regular routine. My poor little ice maker can hardly keep up with all the key training sessions each week.

I had a big weekend on tap that included longer workouts than usual. And because I no longer have all day free to cruise through my workouts (ahem, responsibilities at home now, ya know?), I've evolved into an 'On-time start Nazi'. On Saturday, I had it planned almost down to the minute. In order to get a 78 mile ride followed by a 4.5 mile run completed before noon (so I could take over with Moana and allow my husband to get to his soccer game on time), it was necessary to get going by 7:00. I met a group of about 8 people to start the ride at 7:00... waiting waiting waiting for everyone to get it together and finish peeing and pumping up their tires and putting their Clif bars in their jersey pockets or whatever... 7:05 and I'm snapping my fingers signaling it's past GO time... when rider #9 drives up in his car. Grrr. I wasn't waiting.

I know everyone and everything here is on "Hawaiian time", but I'm not anymore. I had less than 2 hours now to ride 39 miles to our turn-around point. Do the math. It was time to GO. I took off with the two other girls who showed up for the group ride and the boys confidently said they'd catch us later after rider #9 finished pumping up his tires. Guess what group of 3 girls put the hammer down and didn't get caught? Yep. Mama was on a mission. Thanks to our very short breaks to refill water bottles and change into running shorts, Amy and I completed our ride and run at 11:56. I had 4 minutes to sit on the patio with my legs up sipping a recovery drink before I was officially back on mommy duty.

Yes, life has certainly evolved around here.