Monday, September 28, 2009


Good news! I woke up this morning and did not feel like I'd been hit by a bus! YAY for small favors, ya know?

It's funny. Because only at the end of a massive Ironman build would you say that what I did this weekend qualifies as 'short'... though clearly my body interpreted it as 'short' at least in relative terms, because I woke up this morning (before my alarm went off) and had a desire to get out of bed and go swim.

And in the water, I felt good. Which hasn't happened on a Monday morning in, um, a long time. I was on top of the water with a long relaxed stroke and a strong pull-through. I love that.

Now Moana is napping and I'm not A)Training more or B)Passed out on my bed. Nope. Laundry is being done. Kitchen is clean. Floor has been swept. And bills will get paid before she wakes up! Later we'll actually go out and run some errands (Costco- here we come!) which clearly indicates that my energy levels have come back up to a more normal level. I did not have the ability to drag my poor tired body to Costco last week. But today, it seems like a manageable task.

Shoot, if I have this much energy today, what am I going to feel like next Monday after a weekend that is not even half of what I did this past weekend? Holy Moly. Watch out. Mama's gonna be BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS.

Anyway, it's good to have normal energy levels because it allows me to get through mornings with this energetic little one.Seriously, blow this one up and look at her face. And welcome to my world.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The other day out race numbers were posted on the Ironman website. I'm number 1450. A bunch of folks were posting their race numbers on Facebook and it was all very exciting. I made an off-hand comment about how I hoped my race number didn't predict my finish time. Lol.

Of course that could have been interpreted as insensitive to anyone who has a finishing time of 14+ hours for an Ironman. But of course I didn't mean it to be! Any finishing time at all for any Ironman is certainly something to be very proud of. And it got me thinking... back to my proudest Ironman finish... the one where I crossed the line in 14:21.

We'll start the story back in 1996. I was finishing up my second season of triathlons. 23 years old with a major crush on this HOT guy who also did triathlons... long story short (though I know this is the part of the story everyone wants to hear!) a couple of beers at a bar later and we were entered in Ironman Canada for the following year. (Ahhhh... the good old days... when you could enter Canada in November because it didn't sell out in 12 hours like it does now.)

I called up my brother, Jamie, who had also done a couple of triathlons, and convinced him to enter. He called his BFF from 3rd grade, Brian, and convinced him to enter.

Fast forward 6 months or so... my body clearly wasn't ready for that kind of training mileage and I ended up injured. Surprise surprise! Knees hurting a ton so I really wasn't riding my bike or running much at all. Another huge surprise? The HOT guy and I broke up (um, he turned out to be a jerk. Shocker.) so he wasn't even going to Canada to race. BUT, my brother and Brian and I were still gonna give it a try. Like the Three Muskateers.

Back in those days, I don't think Triathlon Coaches existed. We knew nothing about nutrition and hydration and recovery and all that. It was just like, "I wonder if I can complete that distance? That's a long way to go." And seriously, I really didn't know if I could do it.

I was scared to death at the start, but when the cannon fired off I went at it at hard as I could. I'd been swimming a lot (remember I said I hadn't been biking and running? So I swam. A lot.) I battled people that whole darn swim, but came out (unknowingly) as one of the top 10 women overall, including the pros. HA! I found out later how I was placed after the swim and then kicked myself for stopping to pee in the water before crossing the timing mat.

Off on the bike. It was easy for the first 40 miles- all downhill that course- and then you turn and start climbing Richter Pass. My computer said I was going 7 mph. And this was a 7 mile climb. Doing the math, I settled in for a long climb. I stopped to pee a couple times. I stopped for my special needs bag at like 75 miles or wherever that was, sat down on the side of the road and ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank my Sunny Delight juice. YES. I did that. What did I know? It was a long day and a girl's gotta eat lunch, right? I also had my Nutter Butters for dessert.

Back on the bike, my knee was hurting pretty badly. I had never ridden this far before and had it in my head that maybe I wouldn't be able to do it. And at the mile 90 aid station- right before the Yellow Lake climb, I stopped and told the people at the aid station that I wanted to drop out. They called for a support van to come pick me up.

So I waited. And waited. Like 20 minutes went by and still no van. I was getting impatient. I asked one of the volunteers at that aid station how long the climb was. She told me it was 3K. She lied, but I didn't know that at the time. I figured I could pedal one-legged up that climb and then I knew the last 20 miles into town were pretty much downhill so I could coast a lot. Riding in would be quicker than waiting for that darn van. I would drop out of the race once I get done with the bike.

So I finished the bike and then I swear this part is all a big blur. Someone took my bike and led me to the change tent where these women just took control and dressed me in my running clothes and tied my shoes on my feet and stood me up and pushed me out the exit of the tent. I remember repeating, "I don't feel like running a marathon right now..." several times and they kept telling me that I was doing great and I'd be fine. I stumbled out of that tent with a bagel in one hand and potato chips in the other and onto the marathon course.

For future reference, be assured that those ladies in the T2 tent KNOW that you don't feel like running a marathon at that point and seriously must be trained to ignore you when you tell them so.

So there I was, walking out of T2, when I vaguely remember the announcer saying something to the crowd about cheering me on to get me running. I obeyed the orders of the announcer and took a couple running steps and (in my own mind anyway) the whole crowd went wild. I remember thinking in my daze, "Wow. They really want me to run."

So off I went. To my complete surprise, I was able to run! I plodded along for about 13 miles and then right near the turn around I stopped in one of those lovely port-a-potties to pee. Um, holy cow it hurt to squat. My knees both felt THRASHED.

At that point, I was 13 miles from the finish line, which didn't really seem that far in the context of the day. My knees were done running, so I started walking. I walked. And walked. And walked. Every step brought me closer to that finish line. And after 14 hours and 21 minutes, cross the finish line I did! Totally in tears of disbelief! I did it! I was an Ironman. I got my tatoo the next day. :)

Jamie and Brian also finished in 15+ hours. Jamie waited for Brian to get out of the water, they did the bike together, sat in a hot tub at T2 for a while, and then Jamie went ahead on the run when Brian stopped on the side of the road to take a nap and to get a massage at some point.

Those were the days, eh? I suspect my day in Kona will be quite different from that day 12 years ago in Canada. First of all, Jen would kill me if I stopped for PB+J and Sunny D on the bike... but an IM finish is an IM finish and I hope I'm as proud of this finish as I was of that one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Done Digging Holes

It's getting close. 15 days. I'm exhausted.

I was out riding today with my friend Mike. 10 x 2 minutes hard in the middle of the ride. That's a whole lot harder on the road than it is on paper. I finished up the last one, right on Mike's wheel, as fast as we could go, mouth open gasping for air, legs burning on fire... and was glad to be done with that.

If you know me at all, you know I'm not one to ever skip out on workouts or complain that I'm tired unless I really am. I haven't complained a lot until maybe the last week, but I can totally feel that I'm right there on the edge. In between training sessions, I'm exhausted. But then when it's time to get out there and work, somehow I've magically pulled out that extra bit of energy I've needed to complete whatever main set I've needed to. Since my workouts haven't been suffering, I figured that this fatigue is still within the acceptable range, even though it's really the most fatigue I've felt, um, maybe ever?

But then I got it... the email I've been waiting for... the one that said, "There are no more fitness gains to be made. We are in full on taper mode!" Oh I can't tell you how nice that was to hear! I was told to stop digging holes for myself. Stop digging holes. Yes! I can do that! Err on the side of less from here on out. Yes! I can do that!

Two weeks. I've got two weeks to claw my way out of this hole I've been digging that hopefully isn't too deep. Two weeks to bring my legs back to life and get SASSY. (I love it when Jen talks about feeling SASSY.) Two weeks to eat right, sleep right, stay healthy, and sharpen up. Yes! I can do that!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Videos

It's interesting how our little ones go through stages as they grow. Asserting their independence, deciding what they want to do and what they DO NOT want to do, defying what we as moms do not want them to do...

I actually couldn't help but laugh at Moana today. We were at Jenny's where there is no baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. Moana can get up the stairs no problem these days, but she has no interest in coming down. Since I have no interest in her falling down, I only let her crawl up when I can be right behind her. And since I was in charge of both Sadie and Moana at the time, my choice was that it was not a good time for Moana to practice crawling up the stairs. She knew it too- because 3 times in a row she started to crawl up and I told her 'no no no' as I grabbed her and pulled her back down. The fourth time- you should have seen those fast twitch muscle fibers at work. That girl is quick when she knows she has about 10 seconds before mom is going to pull her off the stairs! Or maybe she misinterpreted my 'No no no' as 'Go go go!'?

Eventually I blocked the access to the stairs with a couple of chairs.

Anyway, we're still working on eating more solid foods. She still prefers the pureed stuff, though she will eat bits of soft food if she's in the mood. Tonight I put bits of soft tofu on her tray to see if she would eat it. She's had tofu before and eaten it just fine, but it was pureed and mixed with some other food (like sweet potato). Anyway, here's what she thought of the bits of plain tofu.

Another thing we're working on is her learning to hold the spoon herself. More fun than holding the spoon is apparently throwing it on the floor and waiting for mom to pick it up. Isn't that fun? We play that game several times a day.

And finally, I captured an attempt at walking on video. I love this!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Before And The After

This post will be written in two parts: The Before and The After.

The Before:
It's 10:30AM. Moana is taking a nap. I'm still waiting to go running. Because at 10:30 it isn't quite hot enough yet. Ha. Actually, while it's fun to blame Jen for making me wait this long to run, in reality I would have waited anyway. Surf was up this morning so Scott got up early and went surfing before his soccer game that he's playing right now. So I actually didn't even have a chance to run this morning while it was cool out.

Waiting so long to start poses some challenges. First of all, it gave me a chance to read Marit's blog in which she described her 20 miler yesterday as possibly the ugliest run ever. Sweet. Now I'm really looking forward to mine. BUT, she got through it even though she was feeling completely crappy so clearly I have to finish mine as well no matter how much it sucks.

Secondly, what the heck do you eat all morning when you've got a 3 hour run looming at noon? Have to eat something, but clearly can't eat too much, but since I'll be eating GU and Clif Bloks for lunch I'll probably be really hungry... or not... if its really that hot out maybe I'll just be nauseous. Anyway, I drank my coffee out of my Ironman mug from 2007 for some inspiration. Then I ate 2 eggs and toast with honey, followed several hours later by a bowl of grapenuts. Hopefully that'll get me through.

The good news is that running later gave me time to charge my garmin and my ipod. And I came up with a special playlist for this run. You can really add a lot of songs when you're making a 3+ hour playlist, ya know? I put some slower mellow songs in the beginning to encourage me to take it easy to start. After about 30 songs I put like 8 in a row that are faster hardcore rap songs... like 'Til I Collapse' by eminem. I think that'll be a good one. I know Jen said to do 5 miles hard in the middle of this run, but seriously, that's ridiculous. 8 songs will be about 30 minutes and surely that's enough, isn't it? I followed those 8 songs up with JoDee Messina's 'My Give A Damn's Busted', because that's very likely how I'll be feeling after a 30 minute push. Toward the 3 hour mark I put Rodney Atkin's 'If You're Going Through Hell'. That'll be appropriate I think.

"Well you know those times when you feel like there's a sign there on your back says 'I don't mind if you kick me seems like everybody has.' Things go from bad to worse, you think they can't get worse and then they do.
If you're going through hell keep on goin', don't slow down. If you're scared don't show it. You might get out b'fore the devil even knows you're there. If you're going through hell, keep on moving face that fire, walk right through it. You might get out b'fore the devil even knows you're there."

So anyway, clearly I've got some really high expectations about how I'm going to feel on this run. Ha. Scott has been instructed to bring home a 5 lb bag of ice so I know that'll be waiting for me, so that's good. I used up all the ice in our freezer for a long ice bath yesterday after that long brick- I didn't even want to get out of the tub- it felt so good! I actually just wanted to dunk my whole body in that icy water but feared a heart attack from the massive shock it would have been to my overhot torso.

Who knows? Maybe it won't be as bad as I'm envisioning. Here I go.

The After.

Yip yip yip! Mama ran. And ran. And ran. And then kept running. And then ran some more. And Did. Not. Slow. Down. 20.5 miles in just under 3 hours.

Seriously, out there I was like, "Whose legs are these?? Not mine. Are they Jen's? Are they Marit's? Are they Ange's?" It was like I stole somebody else's legs for the weekend.

But then I started telling myself, "No, these are your legs, Michelle. Your new legs. You have earned them. Every track workout. Every long run. Every brick run you have done this summer. You earned these legs. And they are yours to keep!"

So that's about all I have to say about that run. I ran out for 1:30:00 and turned around and ran back in 1:29:43. Uphill the last 2 miles. In the sun. And the heat. But was it hot? Not really.

Jo Dee Messina's song came on at about 2:25 into the run and you know what? My give-a-damn wasn't busted at all.

I can't wait for Kona.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So Far So Good

Ok, so today went well! Yay! Last long ride is in the books. Scott repeats my Yay, and raises me another YAY...

I rode with my trusty training partners, Mike and Sandy, who will also be racing in Kona. They've been riding crazy long all summer so today their plan was to go just 90. (I said 'just 90', like 90 isn't long. HA!) Anyway, we cruised together and held a nice steady pace, with a few planned harder efforts here and there. I felt really strong. Surprisingly strong. Like, my legs didn't hurt at all. How is that even possible?

I sprung an extra 15 minute hard interval on Mike and Sandy at about mile 75. They were game. We picked up the pace. Pushed hard. Into the wind. 13 minutes in I yelled at Mike (who was pulling) that we only had 2 minutes left. He picked up the pace. Sandy and I held on. One minute to go I started barking at Mike... GO GO GO!! 30 seconds left... GO GO GO!!!! I continued to bark. We really pushed that last minute. It was awesome.

Anyway, I did the typical route with them and then, um, had to turn around and go back out about 12 miles to a beach park that would serve as my final turn around. I will admit that I had a slight low point at this time, saying goodbye to them. I felt hungry even though I had consumed all the nutrition I was planning. My crotch was on fire because those bike shorts just weren't cutting it anymore. There was a ton of traffic at noon on Kam Hwy (why was everyone who owns a car on Oahu driving it around the island today???). And I felt like I was just covered in road grime, sweat, sunscreen, and a film of slippery fuel vapor. Yuck. I guess that really was the extent of my problems though. My legs and heart and lungs felt fine and I had no thoughts of cutting the ride short, even though I was so close to my house.

As I was approaching the final turn-around, I found myself catching a lone rider up ahead. He also pulled into the same beach park. I wasn't really feeling very social at this point and wasn't game for any trivial conversation, so I just went about my business filling my water bottles and splashing my face and arms with water in the bathroom. Back on my bike, I started heading out. The other rider was standing there looking very proud of himself and asked where I was headed. "Kaneohe" was my short reply. He gave me a smug look and with his best peacock expression he said, "I'm going back to Hawaii Kai." Just so you know, he was telling me that he was riding further than me because Hawaii Kai is about 35 miles while Kaneohe was a measly 12. I swear, I wasn't going to say anything to him, but I thought about Jen Harrison and how she writes about the snippy things she says to people sometimes, and I just couldn't help myself. I said, "Well I'm 104 miles into a 116 mile ride so Kaneohe is far enough for me today." Then I rode off. I guess I can get kinda bitchy when I'm tired.

Anyway, I felt solid riding home. I knew I was going to be able to run, so that felt good. A quick change, a banana, and kiss to Scott and Moana and I was out the door and running. YEP! No problem with the run. I wasn't supposed to push the pace until the end so I just cruised the first part. It was 1:30 in the afternoon on a hot sunny day, but I swear I didn't even notice the heat. And when it was time to pick it up, I could! I love that. I pushed that last mile (mostly uphill) home in 7:45. Seriously? Who am I? Not the old Michelle, that's for sure. The old Michelle couldn't run like that. Wouldn't have even attempted to run like that. Especially not after 116 miles on the bike. Wouldn't have even believed it was possible.

Anyway, I'm really proud of that workout. And the best part? I didn't even fall flat on my bed afterward. Nope. I drank my recovery drink in the shower and then rushed out the door to Sara's First Birthday Party! Some of you may read Kelley's blog... her daughter is 5 weeks older than Moana and they've been beach buddies for the last year or so... it's so cute to watch them together as they get older. Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon there at the party. I ate a big piece of birthday cake with ice cream... and fed some to Moana too... who loved it, by the way... :)

Now it's recover recover recover until noon tomorrow when I will attempt to run 20 miles at the hottest point in the day. That'll be a major feat for sure if I pull it off.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Scared For This Weekend

The tired-ness is setting in. Long tough week followed by long tough week followed by long tough week and now I'm finishing up the longest toughest week. I guess after this I'll be tough and able to go long. That's the point, right?

So tomorrow I'm riding 115 miles and following it up with a 30 minute run. I'll ride the first 90 miles with a small group and then I'm on my own to finish up the last bit, so that should be challenging. The 30 minute run doesn't scare me, except that the last 10 minutes is supposed to be HARD so that means just slugging through it isn't going to cut it.

And I guess, really, this workout wouldn't scare me so much except that I'm already so tired going into it. Day after day after day of hard training is taking it's toll. And I found out this morning that it really *is* possible to work too hard in the pool. So while I had a fantastic swim, I'm still paying for that effort right now, almost 7 hours later... I swear I just want to curl up on the couch in a little ball until it's time to eat again.

And speaking of being tired going into a workout, how about that 20 mile run on Sunday? My sadistic coach was probably tapping her long skinny fingers together when she was clearly thinking, "How can I make this run as brutal as possible for Michelle? I know! We'll make 5 miles of it HARD- faster than race pace- AND, don't start running until NOON when it's really really hot out..."

I told one of my training partners that I was going to wait until noon to run on Sunday and with her eye brows raised she asked, "Does your coach live here?" I laughed and said no, she lives in Chicago... "Oh, that's why she thinks it's ok to tell you to run at noon." Dana was right too- weekend weather forecast calls for wind on Saturday but no wind Sunday. That means that Sunday is going to be HOT. Stifling HOT.

Ok, I'll stop complaining now. You can tell I'm getting tired huh because before I was all like, "Oh I just love training!! Training long and hard is so awesome!!" And now I'm like, "Oh I can't believe I have to put my body through all that again this weekend..."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Still Processing

I've been meaning to blog for the last couple days, but it just seems that actually sitting down at the computer to do it has been such a challenge! If Moana is awake, she won't let me type without her help, and since you likely don't want to read a bunch of dgsuiaooghubnfffffffffffffdsaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa that she likes to write, I can only try to type while she's sleeping. And since I'm usually training during her morning nap, and napping myself during her afternoon nap, that only leaves the evening after she's gone to bed... but that's my only time with my husband, and spending it on the computer just doesn't seem right. Enough excuses.

I would be napping right now except I was too hungry to actually sleep. I figured I'd update my blog while I chowed down on my 19th bowl of cereal today. Lol.

Anyway, training is going well. It's big right now, but what's new? It's been big, and it's going to get bigger before it gets smaller. But Ironman is in 3 1/2 weeks and if I make it through this weekend's workouts as prescribed, I'm pretty confident race day will be a breeze. Ok, not really. That's totally an exaggeration. But I can say that I will be as prepared as possible, so that's something.

Moana is growing like a weed. I'm starting to stress about the fact that I have not done any planning for her first birthday party. (I know!?! Can you believe my baby is going to be ONE???) I guess it wouldn't normally be such a huge deal for me, except that First Birthdays are a huge deal here in Hawaii. People here go all out throwing 'Baby Luau's' for these occasions. First of all, I don't even know what a Baby Luau is, let alone how to start planning one. I woke up at 4:00AM this morning stressing about it. I can't pull that off. I can't. I'm thinking that we're just going to have a simple birthday party here instead of making Moana dance the hula at the beach. I just have to clear that by Scott first.

Yesterday I took Moana to the mall (Ick! I hate the mall) but there's a kids playland there and Moana gets a kick out of it so I take her sometimes. Anyway, I think it's cute to watch her little personality come out when she's in social situations. Upon arriving at the play area, she spent 10 minutes happily watching all that was going on around her while hanging on to my leg.
Then, once she felt comfortable, she was off! I could hardly catch her on film.
Her two bottom teeth are finally fully in. I swear she's the World's Slowest Teether. Which is ok, because she doesn't seem to be too bothered by the teeth cutting her gums. She's getting three more up on top right now that cut through about 2 weeks ago but are still barely showing. She is learning how to use them though. The other day my neighbor let her hold a ripe wild mountain apple that she'd picked off a tree in Waimanalo (wild mountain apples, in case you've never had one, are sort of floral tasting, more mild than an apple, with the consistency of a ripe pear). Anyway, right away Moana put it up to her mouth and discovered, for the first time, that her teeth can cut into food. That's big for her! She still pretty much spits out any food that is not completely pureed. I've been trying to get her to eat bread and cheese and peas and foods that are easily mashed. I thought I was doing so well... She clearly enjoyed picking up the foods and putting them into her mouth...

Most of the food on her tray was gone after a few minutes and I was psyched that we'd moved on from our complete dependence on the food processor and a spoon, only to find her high chair seat full of peas and cheese toast after I pulled her out of it. Back to the food processor for a while I guess.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flying Solo

Let me just say this- I love my training partners! They are awesome. They are reliable. They are dedicated. They are consistent. And they are strong.

But let's face it, when you're doing an Ironman, even though you are surrounded by fellow competitors, you are out there alone. Given that, it's good to know that you can spend hours and hours and hours (and more hours) alone with yourself while riding and running.

So to prove to myself that I could indeed spend so much time with myself, I did my long brick solo today. And you know what? It was awesome.

Part of my enjoyment of the training day was simply the fact that I just love training right now. But another part of it was that it was really pretty darn nice to not have to chase anyone on the bike. There's something to be said for going your own pace sometimes. So while chasing those guys around all spring/summer has made me quite strong on the bike, being able to ride long without redlining myself in the first 30 miles was great.

And guess what? When I don't redline early on, I'm stronger in the end! Huh. Who wouldda guessed? ;) I saved the 3 x 10 minute hard intervals for the last hour of the ride, did them into the wind, and felt super.

Off the bike, onto the run. Jen told me to run an hour today, which is only about 20 minutes longer than I usually go, but somehow it felt daunting. Maybe it was the anticipation of the 4 x 2 minutes HARD I was supposed to do toward the end? Seriously, who runs intervals at the end of a long brick run???

Um, I do!

I did an out and back route that usually takes me right about an hour, sometimes just a bit over. Downhill to start, which was nice while I was getting my legs back after that ride. Then I was running right along the ocean. Kam Highway isn't exactly Ali'i Dr, but I pretended it was today as I was running and enjoying the scenery. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace at all, but I got to my turn-around in 29:17. Hmmm. Maybe a little too fast? Maybe I'm screwed and will end up walking home since it's mostly uphill going back.

Turn around, start my intervals. I was pleasantly surprised that when I wanted my feet to turn over faster, they did! And I was even more pleasantly surprised at the end of the run when I saw 58:16 on my watch. Seriously? I negative split that run? Uphill coming home? I've never done that on this route. Ever.

So I was extremely pleased today with how all the training is coming together. 4 weeks from right now I'll be done with the Hawaii Ironman (um, I hope!!). Not sure what I'm going to do with myself when this is all over? Start sleeping in I suppose. And stop using up all the ice in the freezer as fast as the poor little ice-maker can produce it. Scott will appreciate that. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Think "Blue"

This post is dedicated to my old ASU diving coach, Ward O'Connell, who recently passed away at his Arizona home.

In college, I was a springboard diver. I spent my junior and senior years at Arizona State diving as a Sun Devil. My coach was a very positive man named Ward.

I don't think I could honestly say that Ward was the best technical coach I'd ever had. But I'd been diving for 6 years before I got to him and in that time, three very technical coaches had taught me most of what I needed to know about all the dives in my list. Keep your head up, swing your arms through faster, jump, spot the water, etc. I knew all that. By this time in my diving career, whether I actually did it or not depended a lot on my mindset.

And this is where Ward came in. What I needed while I was diving at ASU was to stop over-thinking things and let my body do the dives that it knew how to do. Ward was stellar at helping me do just that.

One dive I had particular problems with was an inward 2 1/2 (on the 3 meter board). For those of you unfamiliar with diving, that's when you stand backward on the board but then jump up and flip forward. For a while, inwards were my best dives. But the problem with inwards is that in order to do them well, you have to allow yourself to get pretty close to the board. If you get nervous and jump too far back, you lose your height and spin and can't then get the dive around. So the key, really, is to get yourself as close to the board as you can, without hitting it.

My problem was that I was getting too close. I started hitting it sometimes. I never got seriously hurt, but when you're hitting your hair on the board as you spin by it, it puts a little fear in you. Or a lot of fear, as the case may be. And in my case, so much fear that you just couldn't make yourself do the dive anymore.

So one day at practice, I was standing backward on the board trying trying trying to force myself to get that inward 2 1/2 off. Rocking the board, telling myself to keep my balance on my big toes, keep my head up... rocking rocking rocking on the board until I would just finally give up and fall off into the water. I just couldn't make myself do it.

Ward called me over to his chair on the pool deck.

"Michelle," he said, "I want you to get up on that board and think only of the color blue. Nothing but blue. Focus on it. Then do your dive."

Ward often said crazy things like that to us so I knew better than to ask why. I shook my head a little, disappointed that my coach couldn't give me any real advice to help me through this mental block. But what the heck. I got back on the board, and thought only about the color blue.

Blue. Blue. Blue.

Then I rocked the board, jumped up in the air, and nailed that inward 2 1/2.

Ward told me later that he knew that I could do the dive if I just stopped thinking about it. My body could do it but it was my mind holding me back. He was 100% right.

I found out yesterday that Ward passed away. It makes me sad because he really was the perfect coach for me at the perfect time in my diving career. Ward, I'm taking you with me to Kona. And at mile 10 of that marathon, when I'm facing 16 more lonely miles out through the lava fields, I'm going to Think Blue.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Good news! I didn't crash. :)

112 miles racing my bike around the island this morning. We'll call it a success! My question yesterday was "How long can I hang with the fastest gals on the island? Turns out, 110 miles. Those last 2 miles I rode by myself. Lol. Read on for the full report.

We started out at 5:45 this morning. It wasn't even light out. The first 30 miles are the scariest miles you'll ever ride- neutral behind a pace car going 20-22 mph and 200 cyclists are all trying to be right up at the front though clearly there is NOT room for everyone up there. It's really really nervous as everyone is so full of anxious energy. They keep it neutral during this time because it's all through town and on highways with tons of lights and traffic, etc. After about 30 miles we start a climb up Kunia road and the horn blows signaling the official start of the race and everyone sprints for their life. Crazy.

I don't have a very fast uphill sprint so unfortunately I watched 3 women ride away from me right away. GRRR. I was red-lining already and there was just nothing I could do but keep up my own effort. Good news for me was that my "own effort" resulted in a pace that saw those other women coming back to me and by 1/2 way up the longish hill (maybe 6-7 miles?) we were all back in the same pack. This hill is the key component to the race because if you don't make it to the top with the group you should be riding with, you won't see them again for the rest of the day. So I wanted to be with those girls at all costs, and I put in the effort to make sure that happened.

I crested the hill with the second pack of riders (the strongest men were in a lead pack that was apparently only about 2 minutes ahead of us). In my pack were the top 4 women and about 20+ men. We flew down the hill but that part was pretty scary because it had just rained so the road was all wet. The scary part didn't end at the bottom either because the rain started back up. Riding on wet roads and pelting rain in a big pack of anxious riders when you can't see results in people crashing. I saw 2 wrecks in my pack but safely navigated around each one. Phew!

My legs felt good today and while riding up there along the north shore I actually felt like there was a remote possibility that I could win the day. That would have been really cool. I knew it would be a race of attrition and it was going to be a matter of just conserving as much energy as I could for the hills at the end. I was actually bored at times for the 2 hours of flat windy riding as my job was pretty much to just sit on and watch the other women. I did pull through to the front a few times, more out of boredom and frustration at what felt like a slow pace. This is a road we train on just about every weekend and we always go quite a bit faster than what we did today.

Anyway, finally at about 85 miles, the hills started. Time to see who actually has legs vs who was faking it on the flats. Turns out, Esther and Jenny and I had legs. Roberta fell off over one of the steeper climbs. With about 15-20 miles to go I was pretty happy to realize that we had the top 3 women sorted out, and I was one of them! We still had maybe 5-6 men with us at this point too so it was a good little group. Esther had two male teammates and Jenny and I (both Pac Velo) had one teammate, so it sort of became a fun little tactical game there toward the end.

Esther has been really strong all year and today was no different. The final climb comes at 110 miles. I really really really wanted to hang with the group and duke it out in a sprint finish, but my legs were d.o.n.e. AHHHHH!?!? Didn't they know the finish was just 2 miles away? Didn't matter. I completely popped off the back on that final climb. It was frustrating because my heart rate wasn't even high- but my legs wouldn't function which is a problem during a bike race. Lol. Jenny and Esther rode away and I just hoped my teammate Jenny would win, though I wouldn't be there to witness it.

In the end, Esther got her win and it was very well deserved as apparently (I heard afterward) she took off for the sprint with about a mile to go and flew to the finish solo. It was all very friendly and in good sportsmanship as we chatted about how we were trying to beat each other after the race was over. :)

Here we are just after the finish.

I was also pretty happy about being able to cover 112 miles in 5:24. Granted, I was drafting, but I swear, only a few parts of it felt hard/fast. Much of it felt slow and easy to me. I think that's a good sign for things to come. Like, um, a long race on The Big Island in about 5 weeks. ;)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Racing Around Oahu

On Sunday we get to race around Oahu. On road bikes. 112 miles. The story is that this is the original ride that inspired the Ironman like 30+ years ago. So that's kind of cool.

View DEMRR 2007 in a larger map

We start near the bottom of the map and ride clockwise around the island. Up a big hill to Wahiawa (the center of Oahu is at like 1,000 feet or so) and then down down down to Haleiwa on the north shore where we'll face a nasty headwind for about 40 miles along the coast until we get to Kaneohe... and then the hills start. Short little steep ones for the last 25 miles. Doesn't that sound fun? Lol.

I live in Kaneohe so the temptation to knock off early and just head home will certainly be there. At mile 85 or so, when my legs are starting to feel the effects of the ride, a quick right turn and a 1/4 mile later I'd be home. Or I can keep racing for another hour+. Might be a tough decision!!

Although in reality I'm looking forward to this event. Goal #1 is to NOT crash. These big events are always full of crashes and I hope to not be a part of one. Goal #2 is to see how long I can hang with some of the very fast cyclists we have here in Hawaii. Pretty much anyone who calls themselves a cyclist will show up on Sunday, so it's a good opportunity to get a feel for where you stack up against everyone else. I feel reasonably fit right now, though this event has always kicked my butt in the past. We shall see how it goes on Sunday! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Steps !!!

If we're friends on facebook this blog will be a bit redundant, but if not, read on, because it's big news! :)

Moana started walking the other day! Ok, well she took a little step on Sunday. One small step for Moana, one giant leap for mankind. Or something like that.

But then this morning I was out running and came home and Scott told me that she took FOUR steps in a row! Then later this afternoon I watched her carefully take FIVE. Tonight when Scott got home we counted FIFTEEN. It won't be long before I start taking her to the track with me on Tuesday mornings for mile repeats. Lol.

Unfortunately the battery in our camera died today so I haven't been able to shoot a video of the walking attempts. But I did get this on film... Moana jammin' out to the Country Music Awards last night on TV... Kidd Rock opened the show with his All Summer Long and Moana thought it was da bomb. Apparently she's come up with a patented new dance called The Mashed Potato (thanks Jeff and Cat!)