Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happiest LadyBug On The Block

I've never really been a huge fan of Halloween... dressing up always seemed like more of a chore to me than anything. Probably because I am not creative enough to come up with a unique costume that I can be proud of. So now that I have a child, it's perfect, because Halloween is really about the kids, is it not? Now I can just dress her up and say that I participated. And that is fun. :)

So what was Moana for Halloween? A LadyBug! And quite happy one. Who would have guessed that she would have been okay in this crazy outfit?
I guess it was okay with her because it didn't hamper her ability to climb up on things.
There's not a whole lot you can really do with a one year old at Halloween, but I heard the mall is a fun and safe place for young kids, so I thought we'd check it out. Truth be told, I'd never been to the mall on Halloween. But you know what? It was really fun. Perfect for Moana!

There was a bit of entertainment... Moana was quite interested in watching the dancers.

She made some new friends with some teenage girls who instantly fell in love with her.

She really wanted to check out some of the costumes.
No Moana! Stay away from this one!!

There were giant turtles to climb on...
And a huge area to explore! It was tough keeping up with her. I swear, she would walk away from us and get lost in a heartbeat. I really think we should put a leach on her in these types of public places. No fear, this little one...
The stores were all giving away a bunch of free candy, but we weren't there for the candy. Just the people watching. That being said, we did accept a little sucker from a gal at one of the kiosks who really wanted to give it to Moana. What the heck. Let's see if she likes the sucker. :)

Looks like she liked it! Hey dad! Give that sucker back!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Run Faster

Well, I finally had a decent run today... first one since Ironman where I didn't feel like crap... which I guess isn't really surprising since it takes a while to recover from a race effort like that. I *know* that our bodies take some time to recover, but I really think some of it is in our heads as well. Like, because I know I should be feeling like crap, I feel like crap. Because I know I should be running slowly, I run slowly.

You know what the difference was today? I decided it was time to be done being slow. I decided that my body felt fine and that I could push the pace if I wanted to. So I ran 9 miles and did 2x8 minute hills at a solid effort. And it felt great.

I've been reading Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training For Runners. I actually read it a while back and then I read it again recently. I also read Brad Hudson's Run Faster- once right before Kona (hey, I needed something to do during that taper!) and then again last week. And I really like and agree with the theories of those guys when it comes to running. Neither of them are super conservative when it comes to running training, which is refreshing. Sometimes I read running plans and think that they are so darn conservative... you wonder how the heck you would ever improve if you were so cautious about your running.

In fact, prior to being coached by Jen, I was also very conservative about my running. I was convinced that if I went to the track and ran too hard, I'd end up injured and out for the season. I was convinced that running too many hills would leave me injured as well. And I thought 30 miles a week was a lot. So I was just conservatively putting in slow miles, but not too many miles, and guess what? I was slow. Then Jen had me at the track pretty regularly with instructions like GO HARD. AS HARD AS YOU CAN. ALL OUT. Stuff like that. And workouts that included hills. On purpose. Running up them HARD. And then again and again. I admit, at first I was like, really? I never would have pushed myself that hard, but I trusted that she knew what she was doing so I followed her instructions. And guess what? I ran faster. Go figure.

So given that I am not an injury prone runner, I'm now on board with a more aggressive running plan. And I like it. The Honolulu Marathon is in 6 weeks. I decided I'm not going to run it unless my key workouts give me reason to believe that I can run it well (For me. Running well for me would be in the vicinity of 3:40). The jury is still out on whether or not I'm going to be able to do that, but I think I'm now ready to put in some of the key training runs that will tell me if I'm on track.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Cake Video(s)

Ok, this video isn't 20 minutes... it's only 20 seconds! :) But too funny... at her party on Sunday, poor Moana wasn't interested in sitting in that high chair at all. And the birthday cake? NOT INTERESTED!! I think the real problem was that a whole bunch of people were standing around and staring at her. Let's face it, Nobody would be able to enjoy their food under conditions like that. Anyway, here's how the cake went over at her party.

I felt bad that she didn't really get the one-year-old-cake-eating-experience. So last night after she ate her dinner and it was just the two of us, I strapped her into the BOB, tied my running shoes on, and jogged her down the the grocery store to get a cupcake. We ran home with it, and here's how it went when she was in the privacy of her own home. She must have been thinking, "Hmmmm. It's green, but I don't think this is broccoli."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moana's First Year

Happy Birthday, Moana! A year ago today I was grunting and screaming and pushing and then POP! Out came this beautiful little girl who would change my world forever.

I know you're all waiting for the first birthday cake video... it's coming soon... still working on changing the privacy setting on You Tube so I can view it... but until then... if you've got a spare 20 minutes on this Tuesday, check this out! Ok, I know you really don't have a spare 20 minutes, so really this is just for my mom. And me. I have spent 20 minutes over and over watching it and I still cry every time.

Thanks to my amazing friend Jenny for putting this video together. Priceless.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Party... In Pictures!

Ok so for all my complaining about not being able to throw a party, I'd say Moana's 1st turned out pretty darn well. Although that's only because my husband is so good at throwing parties. And because Tori and Greg have the best backyard ever and offered it up for our use. Yes, that's a giant treehouse.
Turns out, the slack-key guitar guys really were a hit!

Since Moana can't quite dance the hula (yet!), Jonie did it for her.

Moana did her own version of a dance though.

Kelley and sara enjoyed listening to the band. Sara really got into the dancing too at one point!

Sadie was all about the car. Obsessed, with the car. :)

But you didn't have to be a kid to enjoy this backyard. Check out Nalani relaxing in one of the tree swings...

The boys played soccer. Yep, this backyard had everything.
I know you're all waiting for the cake pictures... the good news is, there's video. The bad news is, our camera battery died so the video is on Jenny's camera... so you're going to have to wait until Jenny gets the video uploaded to You Tube. But I'll leave you with this. There was a meltdown.

And you can try to figure out what happened here...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Preparing For The Party

I've been in denial for months now about the planning for Moana's Birthday Party. I'm just not a natural party planner- that would have been a really bad profession for me. Anyway, the fact that I ignored it for so long didn't make it go away, so little by little I did start planning.

The weekend before Kona we picked the place (our friend's backyard in Kailua) and the morning before Moana and I flew to the Big Island I sent out the invitations. That was pretty much all I did until today, and the party is tomorrow!

Did you know that Costco is like the worst place to be on a Saturday morning? I never knew that, but that's because I'm usually out riding my bike on a Saturday morning. Regardless, consider yourself warned. Stay away from Costco on a Saturday. I suppose the same could be said for Sunday, but I have no first hand experience with that. Just a guess.

All I can say is that it's a good thing I got my fix in this morning before attempting to maneuver that big cart through the warehouse floor. Had I not gotten sloshed around in the Pacific Ocean for an hour first, I might have really lost it before even getting the chance to pick out any of the prepared party food in bulk.

My vision for Moana's party was that it would just be a small gathering of some of our closest friends, and those who Moana interacts with regularly. We'd just spend a couple hours in someone's backyard, maybe pick at some simple finger foods, then everyone would go home after watching Moana make a mess of herself with some birthday cake.

Scott's vision was different. He wanted all of his friends to be there. He wanted a whole array of local Hawaiian food. He wanted a band. 1st Birthdays are a really big deal here in Hawaii and people really go all out planning such things.

So it appears now that we are each going to get a bit of what we envisioned. There will likely be more people there than I'd anticipated because Scott got on the horn this morning and invited old friends whose addresses he couldn't find in time to mail an invitation. And apparently, while I was out getting sloshed around in the Pacific this morning, he found some local guys to come and play slack-key guitar tomorrow. And while I was ramming my oversized grocery cart through the oversized aisles buying oversized bags of pita chips, he was arranging for a local restaurant to supply that local kalua pig he wants. I told him that nobody actually eats that stuff, and he said that was fine. It's his daughter's first birthday party and by god, we're going to have kalua pig.

So there you have it. We'll have baked pita chips and pasta salad... and we'll also have kalua pig and beer. Most of Moana's close friends will be there, and others will come and meet her for the first time. Slack key guitarists will play while Moana discovers cake with her bare hands. And we'll take lots of pictures for the blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm Broke

You know how when you're in the middle of a lot of big long training and people always say, "Good job. It's in the bank..." All those long runs and rides and swims.. In The Bank.

Well, my athletic bank account was HUGE a couple weeks ago (NOT to be confused with my real bank account, which is definitely NOT HUGE). Day after day, week after week, I made deposits. Little ones. Big ones. Consistent ones. Deposits. I was rich!

But then I went and withdrew it all on October 10. And now I'm broke.

I let myself be broke for about a week, but then since it really sucks being broke*, I figured I better start making little deposits again. So I hopped back in the pool. And I laced up my running shoes. And I made little deposits. Then today I tried to make a bigger deposit. I did a real swim workout, which followed a real run. And I found out that I'm not ready to start making real deposits yet. (Read: I am sloooooow even though I don't feel slow. But the clock does not lie.)

So the lesson here is that it takes longer than 2 weeks to recover from an Ironman. Duh. Marathon training just got pushed back by another week. I hope I'll have enough time to make sufficient deposits prior to Dec 13, because I'm not interested in bouncing a check on race day.

*Being broke (for real) is a bummer because you miss out on some cool traveling and training and racing opportunities... ahhhh. Such is life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Now What?

I know this is the 'off season'. I had a good (long) triathlon season in 2009 and I achieved many of my goals. Now I'm supposed to be resting and recovering and relaxing and enjoying it all.

But you know what I enjoy? Training.

I really do. I like it. I never really felt like I 'had' to train for anything. I was always psyched up and enjoyed those long and/or hard days. So now that they are over, I find myself asking Now What?

Well, for starters, I know that my body needs some down time to recover from all that I asked it to do this past year. I get that. Consequently, I didn't do much at all last week- just a couple of short easy get out there and move sessions. A total of 3 hours of easy exercise. I know it was what my body needed. But it drove me nuts. After the first few days I started going crazy with the house cleaning. I mean, seriously, I washed the couch cushion covers. I cleaned out drawers and closets that haven't been cleaned out in years. Can I start training again now please???

So I have a couple of new goals. First up! The Waikiki Double RoughWater Swim December 6. I don't know exactly how long it is- something like 4.5 miles I think. I've done it twice so this will be my third time. Last year I did it less than 6 weeks after giving birth to Moana. It's a super fun low key event where everyone has their own paddler/kayaker escort and there are no buoys other than the turn around buoys which makes it an event in ocean navigating just as much as endurance swimming. I sent my entry in today. :)

The week after the RoughWater is the Honolulu Marathon. I'm entered. I have been entered since May, when they opened up the event to Hawaii residents for one week for $35. It was before I qualified for Kona so I didn't know if I'd be doing Kona... I figured I was going to do a marathon this year one way or another, so that was my thought process in sending the entry in when it was cheap. But then I got into Kona so obviously the marathon got put on the back-burner in my mind. I figured I'd make a decision about whether or not I would run it after Ironman, knowing that there was every possibility that I wouldn't have any desire to run a step for several months. But guess what? I want to run. Shocker, I know.

I also know that what my mind wants to do is not necessarily what my body wants to do, so I won't say that I'm 100% committed to the marathon just yet. But I did take a look at the calendar and figured that if I give myself this week as another 'recover from ironman' week and do just a little jogging, I'd have 4 weeks to do a good block of marathon training and then a 2 week taper before the event. So while not ideal, it's possible. And since this is my 5th year living here and I've yet to do the Honolulu Marathon, I think it's time. I think this is the year. I'll likely make the final decision in a couple of weeks after I put in some key run efforts and see how my body is responding.

I know some of you will think I'm crazy, and to you, I offer this... My bike is still packed away in it's bike box. :) Maybe I'll unpack it this week, but I won't ride it until January. I have no fear of losing bike fitness. Shoot, I took 9 months off the bike while I was pregnant and came back stronger than ever. So there you have it. No biking.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Family's First 5K

Now that Ironman is over, I'm free to do pretty much whatever I feel like for a while. So when I heard that the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure 5K was this past weekend, I suggested to Scott that we sign up and do it. He was game! I'm a big fan of the Race For The Cure. Being a cancer survivor myself, it holds a nice little place in my heart, and I do it any chance I get.

I think when he agreed to sign up, Scott was envisioning a nice little jog with me where we might take turns pushing the baby jogger while chit chatting about the scenery. And truth be told, that's what I was envisioning as well. But then, just out of curiosity, I asked him, "How fast can you run a 5K?" To which he replied, "I don't know. I've never run one."

What? Never run one? Seriously? Never run a 5K? How could that be? Well clearly, he needed to run it. The sick sadistic side of me decided that he needed to know what pain felt like- he needed to feel how hard it was to push on a run when you're all done pushing but the finish line is still a mile away. Yes, he needed to feel that.

So there I started it... the goading... the I can do it in 21:40 but I don't think you can run it faster than that... You're not going to let Nalani beat you, are you?? etc. I'm not a very nice wife.

Sunday morning came and the alarm went off early. I started back up on him... are you nervous? It's gonna hurt... You're eating that for breakfast?? Ooooh, a black shirt. I don't know about that... Oh no! You can't wear cotton socks!! My even keeled husband refused to bite though, knowing how hard I was trying to bait him. He just smiled and told me that he refused to get sucked into my crazy little world. Lol.

I fed Moana her pre-race bottle and hoped that she wouldn't bonk during the race.
She was quite excited before the run started and wanted to get in a good warm up. It was hard to keep up with her!

Scott pretended not to be nervous, but he made sure he got in some good stretching before the gun went off.

As people moved to line up for the start, I sent Scott up to the front while I hung back with Moana and the jogger. I figured I should be polite and let most people line up in front of me, which turned out to be a mistake. Even with the jogger I can easily run under 9 minute pace, which turns out to be faster than most of the people I lined up behind. Negotiating that big jogger in and out of crowds and around people without hitting their heels is a way bigger challenge than I anticipated when the roads are narrow. But whatever. I didn't really care about my finish time- I just didn't want to ram Moana into too many people so I was happy when the crowds finally thinned out after the first 2 miles. Though I will admit I felt a strange competitiveness with a woman I saw pushing her baby up ahead of me at about mile 1. It was my mission to catch her and pass her. Which I did. Ha. Seriously, I need to let it go sometimes.

Anyway, finding Scott at the finish line was fun. He had the classic beginner 5K story... said he ran as fast as he could right from the gun, and then about a half mile in felt like he couldn't breathe anymore and had to slow down. He said he spent the rest of the race alternatively speeding up and slowing down as people passed him and then he tried to pass them back. He was cute- like a little kid smiling as he was telling his race story. :) He finished in 25 minutes flat. Not bad for someone whose only run training comes on the soccer field.

So how did Moana do in her very first 5K? Unfortunately, she bonked.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Don't Believe In Salt Tabs (Anymore)

Let me just start by saying that I am a cramper.

Hi. My name is Michelle and I am a cramper.

I have suffered debilitating cramps in most of the long races I have done in my lifetime. The most spectacular ones occurred at Ironman Brazil in 2003, where my leg seized up so severely that I stopped half way up a hill at mile 90 and spent a few minutes bent over my bike, unable to even swing my leg over the top tube. Or there was Ironman Arizona in 2005 when I stopped and sat on the side of the road half way through the bike and watched my quad muscle spontaneously seize and relax. Cramps have cost me HOURS in Ironman races. I have walked for miles of an Ironman marathon (like 8 at a time) because a single running step would cause severe cramping.

If you are a cramper, you'll sympathize with me. It sucks being a cramper.

Naturally, I was willing to do just about whatever it took to make the cramps go away. Must have been a dehydration issue, I was told. Drink more. Drink drink drink. Don't wait until you're thirsty or it'll be too late. Over the years, I taught myself to drink a lot in training and races. When that didn't solve the cramping problem, I was told that it must be an electrolyte issue. Take salt tabs to replace all that lost sodium and electrolytes. Ok, I can do that.

So for years I was all about salt tabs. I'd take them... and still cramp. Maybe I wasn't taking enough? Some people are salty sweaters (I am one for sure!!) and I heard they need a lot more. So I took more. I took a lot in races- was I taking too much? Hard to tell, given that I am not a pro and there was nobody inviting me into a lab to do a sweat rate test. So how the heck do I know how much salt to take? It was all a big guessing game. The problem with the salt experiment is that you sacrifice an entire year of training so you can experiment during an Ironman race with how much freaking salt to take and once again, get it wrong and end up walking half the marathon once your quads seize up.


This past year, I did a lot of reading... mostly a lot of research on cramping and the causes of cramping. In my research I came across some eye-popping and enlightening information regarding fluid balance in endurance running and racing.

The link above will take you to a page where you'll find a whole bunch of awesome blog posts by the Sports Scientists Jonathan Dugas and Ross Tucker. Essentially, they argue against the drink as much as you can campaign and tell you to just drink according to thirst. They say that our thirst mechanism is actually very well developed and that you can indeed, trust it. They say that you're going to get a bit dehydrated during long endurance events, and that's ok. Long races are an exercise in 'Managed Dehydration'. The people who win the race are the most dehydrated. They rehydrate after the race is over.

The first time I read this, I didn't believe it. I thought these guys were NUTSO. I thought they were talking about other athletes- this surely couldn't work for me. Could it?

The thing I found most interesting was this- When you sweat, you lose fluid and electrolytes. BUT, you lose so much more fluid than electrolytes that the concentration of electrolytes in your system actually goes UP. So, there is no need to supplement with electrolytes, unless you are over-hydrating to begin with. Your electrolyte concentration only goes down when you drink too much- and that goes for water OR Gatorade. So, if you listen to your body and drink to thirst, you do not need to replace the lost salt because your body is keeping it all in balance on its own. In a nutshell, when you sweat a lot, you lose lots of fluid... your electrolyte concentration goes up, your thirst mechanism kicks in, and then you drink to replace some of that lost fluid... TA DAH! Back in balance. Without a single salt tab.

The other thing that was a shocking bit of news to me is that cramping is not caused by dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Instead, they theorize that cramping is due to fatigue that makes your muscle fibers fire uncontrollably. Or something like that. Read their post- they explain it much better than I could. They say that to prevent muscle cramps, essentially you need to train appropriately, stretch, and pace yourself appropriately during your long races.

So hmmm. How do I apply this to myself so I can race the hottest Ironman on the planet without ending up doubled over on my bike or walking half the marathon? Well, for starters, I trained appropriately. Then, during the race, I consciously drank less than I normally would have. Remember, over the years I have taught myself to drink drink drink, so for me, drinking only to thirst means drinking less than normal. I paid close attention to my pacing on the bike, making sure I was never pushing too hard, I stood up and stretched early and often, and I didn't screw up my fluid balance by taking any electrolyte tabs. That's right. NOT ONE.

A risky experiment for sure. I was actually afraid to tell too many people before hand that I was going to race at Ironman Hawaii and not take any electrolyte supplements. I figured people would think I was NUTSO. But I wanted to try it and see what happened. And you know what happened? I had a very solid bike and for the first time ever, didn't have a twinge of a cramp while riding.

I did have two instances of cramps on the run- once at mile 15 and once right at the end... my sartorius muscle is always the first to seize up, and it finally did in the later stages of the race, but I am convinced that it had nothing to do with dehydration and/or electrolyte imbalance. It was simply a matter of fatigue and a weak muscle in there that was tired and overworked.

Anyway, if you want more info about this, read Jonathan and Ross's blog. And then buy their book. I did. And it allowed me to be smarter about fueling and hydrating myself- which led to a 30+ minute Ironman PR.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meet The Bloggers

One of the reasons I had so much fun last weekend was that I got to meet a bunch of bloggers and facebook friends... in person! Funny, because I felt like I knew these people even though I don't really know them, but I swear, when you read someone's daily diary that they post online, it's easy to get a good feel for them. That being said, these people's blogs will make even more sense now that I've had some face to face interaction with them. :)

The first blogger encounter I had was with Ange. She's another athlete coached by Jen (who I've still never met by the way!) and is from Maine. On Thursday after I got officially registered, Moana and I went into the merchandise room where I was trying to figure out which Ironman logo stuff I wanted (there wasn't a lot, by the way). Apparently Ange was checking out my necklace (the M-dot gold one) and then realized that she recognized me. "Michelle?" she asked. I was so psyched to see her I gave her a big hug. That might have thrown her off a little, but this is how well I feel I know these girls. It was like running into an old friend you haven't seen in years. We chit-chatted for a few minutes until Moana made it clear that she was done with the adult conversation. Unfortunately I didn't see Ange again until we were out on the run course, where we smiled and gave each other a little cheer as we passed in opposite directions. The most impressive thing? Her husband, Mark, yelled out for me somewhere in the second half of the run... impressive that he recognized me given that he'd only met me once for a few minutes. I heard, "Hey, GOOOO Ange's blog friend from Hawaii..." Too cute.

Immediately after meeting Ange in the store, I met Marit! Apparently Marit saw Ange and Ange told Marit I was right around the corner... and again, another big hug coming from me! Marit and I had spoken on the phone a few days prior so seeing her in person was great! The best part about that encounter was that she held Moana for me so I could purchase another M-Dot visor and tank top. Moana really was done shopping by that point. My encounters with Marit went on and on... we spent the whole hour before the race together keeping each other calm (ok, I was keeping her calm I think!). I never saw her out on the course even though I was looking for her... that bummed me out because I thought maybe she had a mechanical on the bike or something and dropped out... I was thrilled to see her later at the finish line though! Yay Marit! I also got to take Marit sightseeing in the ocean off of Waikiki yesterday. I think it's funny that she wanted to swim even though she's scared to death of the ocean. Just for future knowledge, Marit is much more talkative once we're OUT of the ocean. I tried to stop and tread water and chit chat out there a few times but Marit wasn't having any of that. ;)

At about mile 90 of the bike course on Saturday another rider came up next to me and I heard, "Michelle? Mama Simmons?" It was Charisa! We kept our chit chat short, mostly because she was flying by so fast! Congrats to Charisa for her podium finish in her age group. What a stud.

My encounter with ELF was just as brief... I saw her standing on Ali'i Dr maybe 2-3 miles into the run when I was suffering the worst of my stomach cramp issues. I knew she was giving updates to Jen all day and I was kinda bummed that the update would not be good at that point. I was happy to see her again at mile 7-8 and told her to relay the message to Jen that I was working through my issues and was going to be fine. :)

I was bummed that I hadn't met Kerrie- I knew that she passed me somewhere on the run, but Kerrie doesn't post a ton of pictures of herself so I wasn't sure I'd recognize her anyway... but then Sunday night at the awards dinner I was getting my food from the buffet line when I ran into her... we recognized each other right about the same time, though really, I only knew it was her because I recognized Glen. She posts lots of pictures of him. Anyway, we ended up sitting together at dinner so she got to meet Scott and Moana too. Can I just say how good those two are with kids??? Wow. Glen finished up his dinner and asked if he could walk Moana around. Once again, Moana was all done with this adult function and just wanted to be free to practice walking, so Glen took her away and played with her while we finished out dinner in peace. Those two are just awesome.

So there you go. Blogger friends in person! Don't worry though- the rest of you are just as important and I hope to meet many of you someday... in fact, here's what I looked like at the end of the race when I finally got my hands on my phone and could check my Facebook page. HA!
One more shout out I have to give is to my friend Jennifer Chalmers. Jen and I were training partners way back when we both lived in Arizona and had different last names. I knew Jen was going to do well in Kona, but I didn't know she was going to WIN our age group!! GO JEN! Talk about a stud. Jen has opened up a tri-shop so you can buy all your tri gear at TriBuys. Check it out!

Here's Jen and I on Sunday... we went for a little ocean float to chat about our races...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moana's Iron Weekend

So Moana had a fun weekend in Kona. And for the most part, she really was as good as an 11 month old could possibly be. I am always shocked at how adaptable and easy going she is.

I mentioned it in an earlier post before the race, but one challenge we had was getting her to sleep in the flimsy little crib. She did get the hang of it though after the first night. On the last night we were there she was so tired that she fell asleep with all the lights on while Scott was taking a shower and I was packing my bike. The safety blanket was a good thing to bring. She's all about that blanket.

The second real challenge was trying to figure out how to feed her without a highchair. Kathy suggested that I strap her down in her stroller to feed her. I tried that and it worked so much better- so thanks, Kathy, for your comment! Of course, I told Scott that strapping her down was the best way to feed her but did he follow my advice while I was out racing? Didn't think so. This is what she looks like when daddy feeds her.

My friends said that patio was an absolute MESS on Saturday. But on Sunday we went out to eat and that was much easier. She loves eating at restaurants. This is what she looks like when mommy feeds her.

Back to the patio... apparently this is where the gang hung out while I was out riding. It cracked me up to check out these pictures after the race and get an idea of what they were doing while I was cooking on the Queen K. Apparently, without mommy around, Moana goes topless.
Nalani fed her goldfish.

Moana liked the goldfish so much, she took them right out of Nalani's mouth.

And then she got to wear Nalani's hat.

My friends had a really solid nutrition plan for the day. At least Moana had a juice box.
Um, no idea what this is about. But it looks like fun!

Kathy was a huge help with Moana all day! Though I have to say, it's clear that Scott was the one who picked out Moana's outfit for the finish line. Why can men not figure out how to match clothes?

Anyway, obviously, she had a great weekend. It was really fun to have her there and I appreciate everyone's help. It really takes a village.

Those 5 days away took their toll on her though. She's been so tired the last few days here. I took her into Waikiki so I could swim with Marit today (story for another post) and walking back to the car, she just totally conked out. Clearly, she's still not caught up on sleep. Watching an Ironman is hard work, ya know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ironman Hawaii

What a weekend!

I have so much to say I don't even know where to start? It really was just a whole heck of a lot of fun for everyone this weekend. I have an awesome family and awesome friends who made the whole thing just GREAT!

See? I told you my friends had fun. :)

Saturday morning came dark and early. I woke up at about 3:00, not on purpose, but just because my body and mind were apparently ready to GO even though the race wasn't to start for four more hours. I got up, quietly made some coffee and went out to drink it on the lanai. Staying at the Kona Seaside was awesome, because we could just sit there and look at Palani Rd, which is the in/out of the transition area and the hub of the whole race. I saw all the volunteers walking to their posts, and eventually some early athletes as well. I ate my cereal, watched pre-race interviews with some of the top pros on You Tube on my iphone, listened to some jammin' music on my ipod, and got excited for the day.

Eventually I put my race gear on, kissed Scott and Moana, and walked down to the start. Ironman races are cool when they actually stamp your number on your arm rather than just writing it with a marker. Somehow that makes it feel so much more official... Most of the athletes had a blank stare on their faces as they went about dropping off special needs bags and pumping up their tires. I may have looked the same, but I felt pretty coherent as I went about my business. I ran into Marit standing in line for the port-a-potty, and then we ran into my friend Jennifer Chalmers. The three of us hung out together until it was time to get in the water. That was so good, because Jen and I were just chatting it up and there was really no time to even think about what we were about to do. We heard the National Anthem and then BOOM! Pros went off.

Jen and Marit and I zipped each other up into our speedsuits and hopped in the water. Jen and I stuck together and headed off to the far left of the start line. Like far left. Like outside the buoys left. Might have made the distance a tad bit further, but the open water was worth it. I'd been prepping myself for the beating they call an Ironman Swim Start so I was ready for the physical part of it... people climbing on top of me and all that... but it really wasn't so bad. I saw Jen off to my right for most of the first half of the swim, was in a pack most of the time, had open water at times. Pretty uneventful really. I was a bit annoyed that my swim cap was coming off (why do they make those things SO BIG?) and my goggles were too tight (I'd tightened them prior to starting because I figured someone would surely rip them of if they weren't tight enough). I stopped 3 times to yank my cap back down over my head because I didn't want to lose it. Anyway, eventually the swim ended and I was happy to be out of the water. The swim, though it was fine (59:05), was definitely not the highlight of my day.

I moved steadily through transition and then headed out on the bike. I was psyched. I felt good. There were thousands of people lining the road. I heard the announcer say my name. I heard friends yelling my name. It was all surreal and sweet and just like I'd been envisioning.

I knew I was moving well on the bike, even though I was getting passed by a ton of men. I came through the 40K sign in 1:11 which I thought might have been a little too fast, but I didn't feel like I was working at all. Maybe we had a tailwind? My breathing was fine. My legs were fine. I was just riding. Not pushing. So I just kept doing what I was doing.

I was very careful on the bike... constantly assessing how I was doing... how my body was responding. Every aid station I took time to grab a bottle of cold water and dump it on my arms and legs and chest and back and head. I followed my nutrition plan exactly. Throughout the bike, I drank 2 bottles of Perpetuem, 2 bottles of Amino Vital, 3 bottle of Gatorade, and 2 waters. (I stopped at the special needs bags after the turnaround at Hawi to make sure I got my bottles of Perpetuem and Amino Vital because I'm really not such a huge fan of gatorade.) I took a GU at 20 minutes, and then every hour on the :20... 1:20, 2:20, 3:20, 4:20, 5:20. Nailed it.

I thought the conditions on the bike were pretty good. It was hot and got hotter with each passing mile, but not crazy hot. There was some wind as we were climbing to Hawi, but not crazy wind. I've ridden in much worse. From mile 85-100 there was a good bit more wind- cross/headwind and that section is a lot uphill. But false flat uphill so you don't really know you're climbing, you just know you're going S.L.O.W... It occurred to me that if you didn't know this section of the course pretty well, you'd start feeling really bad. But I knew that it was uphill and I knew the wind would change when I got to the airport so I did not panic. Just kept riding my steady pace. I started passing a lot of those overzealous men who had passed me earlier, though packs of 4-5 men at a time would go by me and that was irritating. Drafting during this section of the course would really give you a big advantage because the wind was strong, and there were a lot of people drafting. Ugh. At one point I was leapfrogging with a gal in my age group... I passed her back after she passed me and she jumped right on my wheel as I went by. Not just in the draft zone, on my wheel. I looked back and was like, seriously??? I looked back again and asked if she was going to draft off me the whole way back??? She dropped off and I didn't see her again for the rest of the ride. I can proudly say that my bike split was my bike split. There was never a time when I could have been called for drafting. Not once. I'm proud of that. :)

Toward the end of the bike I was feeling awesome. My legs were still very fresh and strong. At one point right toward the end, we passed by an aid station on the other side of the road that was blasting some awesome music (Rihanna!) and I started singing along, outloud. I was literally bopping on my bike- I passed a guy and smiled at him while I sang. I had the picture perfect bike ride. I had not pushed too hard. I did not have even a twinge of a cramp (I always cramp at the end of IM bike, but not this time!!) I said out loud to myself, "You're going to be able to run". And I knew that I was good, even after riding my fastest IM bike split at 5:43.

Coming into transition, photo by my friend Roz!
Ironman transitions are awesome because somebody takes your bike and racks it for you. In the change tent, two ladies help you get your shoes and socks on. They stuff your pockets with your nutrition and they dump ice water over your head and they rub sunscreen on your shoulders. You just sit there for a minute and then get up and head out on the run.

Running out was awesome. I heard a bunch of my friends cheering for me. My legs felt strong. There were people everywhere. The thought crossed my mind that I might just have a race I could retire on. Like, does it get any better than this???

I came through the first mile in 8:07. Whoops! Overzealous. I do not need to run that fast. 9 minute miles was all I needed to nail this race. I backed it off, and then about a minute later got a wicked sharp pain right in my abdomen. OUCH!!! Argh!!! OUCH!!!! ARGH!!!!

I was forced to walk. ARGH!!! So frustrated!! After a minute or so I tried running again but the pain was too sharp. Walking. UGH.

Ok, regroup, Michelle. You're doing fine. Regroup. What do you need to do? Regroup. You're fine. Keep moving forward. You will get through this. OUCH. Be smart. What do you need to do? Regroup...

Those were the thoughts going through my mind. I knew that I needed carbohydrates, but felt pretty sure that I couldn't take anything in right away. GRRRR. I wanted carbs. I needed carbs. If I let my tank get empty I wasn't going to be able to do this. Fill the tank. But with what? Nothing sounded good. At mile 3 I drank some Coke. I don't normally drink Coke. But that Coke was awesome. And it made me burp. That helped. I started running again. And so it went. The run became a mission of survival. Get to the next aid station and drink some Coke and dump ice water on my head. That's what I did for the next 4+ hours. I finally got a GU down at mile 8 and started to feel better.

Back through town. Motivated by seeing my friends. I might not be having the run I was expecting, but I was in The Ironman. I changed my attitude from one of frustration to one of happiness. This is my day.
And then I saw Nalani. My awesome incredible super training partner extraordinaire. She and Kurt made this sign for me.
How incredible is she? She remembered the epiphany I had one morning at the track when we were killing ourselves trying to reach goal times and I decided that I had the gears inside me to push it. So for the rest of the marathon, while I was struggling like crazy to get to the next aid station to drink another Coke and dump ice water on my head, I thought to myself, It's In Me. And it was.

So I found out that it is indeed possible to do an Ironman marathon on a crazy hot day (yes, the crazy heat hit on the run) with only Coke and a couple of GU's. It might take a long time (4:27), but it's possible. :) I was reduced to the Ironman Shuffle between aid stations, and I walked (a long way) through each one. I struggled with feeling disappointed at times- it was not a pipe dream for me to think I could run under 4 hours out there. My long training runs and brick runs all indicated that 4 hours was not only possible, it was realistic. But wasn't happening. I think the major issue for me was my stomach rather than my legs, though I will say that I am proud of the way I held it together and regrouped through the whole stomach pain ordeal. Given that I still have a super sore spot right in my ab, I am wondering if maybe I tore a little bit in there? I don't know, but it still hurts.


Right toward the end I found myself running with this younger guy who clearly was not in a good place. We were less than a mile from the finish and I was back to feeling happy. I told him, as were running down Kuakini Rd toward Ali'i Drive, "This is awesome! The energy down here at the finish is the best!" His reply? "There's nothing awesome about this." I kind of felt sorry for that guy. Seriously? You're about to finish the Ironman World Championships... you're about to run down Ali'i Dr... this is the dream! It was sad to me that he wasn't soaking it all up. He didn't have the race he was hoping for. So what? Not many of us did. Ironman marathons are hard and there are only a handful of people who would say, "Yeah, I felt great running in that heat and had a super stellar marathon."

Anyway, I left that guy and ran ahead. As I turned onto Ali'i Dr, I raised both my arms up in the air and told the crowd to WHOOP IT UP!!!! Apparently after hours of cheering on finishers, the spectathletes need a little encouragement of their own. But you know what? When you ask people to cheer for you at the end of an Ironman, THEY GO NUTS! So I was once again on top of the world and floating toward that awesome finish line. Unfortunately, my head wanted to do what my body could not, and the inside of my right quad just completely seized up! It was actually quite a funny scene- there I was, doubled over, 400 meters from the finish line, unable to move, after instructing the crowd to WHOOP IT UP for me. HA! People were like, "Keep going! You're right there!!" And I was like, um, cannot move right now, thanks.

I dug my thumb into the seizing muscle and stretched for maybe a minute (laughing the whole time at how crazy it was!) and then once the cramp released, I continued running toward the line, a little less zealous this time.

I crossed the line without even looking at the clock, because right there I saw Scott and Moana, and the finishing time all of a sudden mattered not. I had finished the Ironman. For the most part, it was a great day. I was not going to have to go to the med tent. I was completely alert and mentally fresh and happy. And I was with my family.
So how did Moana survive the day? That's the topic of the next post. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Lovin' It

Hello from Kona!

I wasn't sure that I'd have computer access here, but Scott brought his laptop and we've got wireless at the hotel... and Moana is currently sound asleep... so YAY! An update from Kona!

I don't even know where to start. I'm just so happy! So happy to be here, so happy that I get to race tomorrow. So happy that Scott and Moana are here. So happy to have connected with some old friends... so happy that I feel fit and ready... I could go on and on...

This is why we train for Ironmans. To feel like I do right now. Ready. On top of the world. And in such a beautiful place on the planet.

So, the details... I've been swimming from the pier each morning. I wasn't actually supposed to swim this morning, but seriously, how could I not? It's the best place in the world to go swimming and I am not here that often. AND, they're serving free coffee about 500 meters out from a boat. The sign says 700 meters, but I'm pretty sure it's not that far because it only took me 7 minutes to get there. I'm a good swimmer but I'm not that fast. :) Anyway, It's social hour for triathletes out there, treading water while sipping coffee in the Pacific Ocean. Doesn't get much better than that.

I got to ride for a short while this morning with my old friend and training partner, Jennifer Chalmers. It was so good to run into her and get to spend time chatting. We haven't seen each other in years but connecting was just like old times. Look for Jen to be near the top of our age group tomorrow.

So Moana is adapting pretty well to the traveling thing. It's harder now, I think, since she's a little older than last time we traveled. She's getting so smart and knows so much, and consequently knows that all this is new and different and it's VERY stimulating for her. She can't sit still for a second, so that has its challenges. It's just so cute though to watch her soaking it all up- taking it all in. I keep telling her that she's at THE IRONMAN. Maybe that'll be one of her first words. Lol.

She was as good as an 11 month old could be on the flight over, though she couldn't figure out for the life of her why the guy next to her was more interested in his magazine than her. She kept reaching over and touching his arm as if to say, "Hey! Don't you see how cute I am? Why are you not paying attention to me?" I kept apologizing. He was a good sport, though they way he stood up and raced off the plane was telling.

A hotel room is an interesting place for a toddler too. I didn't have to do too much baby-proofing... just moved the trash cans up off the floor and put the toilet paper up high where she couldn't reach it. (She's getting taller so that means higher than just the top of the toilet.) She's pulled the phone and the alarm clock off the night stand and I just left them both on the floor. No use putting them back and playing that game over and over.

There's a flimsy crib in the room that she wasn't such a huge fan of at first, but she's figured out that it's where she sleeps. She did manage to fall asleep without too much hassle the first night we were here, even with me right in the room with her. I was nervous that I'd have to hide outside on the lanai or something until she fell asleep, but interestingly, when I went outside, she screamed. But then when I just plopped down on the bed where she could see me, she rolled over and relaxed. The problem came at 1:45 when she woke up screaming. At the top of her lungs. Um, what to do? What to do? At home I don't make a habit of running in to get her if she's screaming, so my instinct was just to let her cry for a minute and figured she'd go back to sleep. But she did not. After a few minutes I made the decision that I needed to NOT subject everyone in this hotel to my daughter's over-developed lungs, so I picked her up, only to discover that she had pooped. Really? That has never happened in the middle of the night! Even when she was an infant she never pooped in the middle of the night. I guess traveling even puts babies off their 'schedule'. Anyway, by the time I changed her diaper she was wide awake and ready to explore the hotel room. She was going to have nothing to do with that crib. So what was I supposed to do? Ugh. I let her crawl around the room for like 3 hours in the middle of the night, until I finally saw that yawn. Put her back in her crib and she fell back asleep. So yeah, 4:00AM we finally got back to sleep. That was a long night. Luckily last night she slept normally through the night and now she's taking a good long nap.

The one thing I really underestimated was how hard it would be to feed her a full meal without a high chair. It's really hard. We do the solid food feedings out on the lanai, and let's just say that the birds have figured out that our lanai is the place to be.

So though chasing Moana around has been challenging, I'm really glad she's here. Worrying about her and her schedule has not given me much time to worry about my race tomorrow. I'm still in the same mindset- not worried about the race much at all. No real nerves. Just so good excitement. Awesome.

Anyway, the little one just woke up, right on schedule. So mama's gotta go. I'll try to update again on Sunday. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Finally! Time to go to Kona!

I'm still trying to get excited. I think as I get older I've become much more even-keeled (sp??). When I was younger I was much more excitable... higher highs and lower lows... these days I'm finding myself more relaxed and mellow and laid back about everything. My husband must be rubbing off on me. He's a Local Boy through and through.

ANYWAY, I think I'll get excited when I arrive in Kona and see all the Ironman signs and postings and athletes and all that. There's so much energy in Kona this time of year. It's palpable. And really really cool. Regardless of whether or not you're racing, it's just awesome to be there. I spent 2 years watching before I got to race it and I tell ya what, there's something to be said for hanging out all drunk at noon and watching for the HOT athletes to run by on Ali'i Dr...

This is my friend Ellen... we were just getting primed and waiting for the eye candy to run by in 2005...
This year I won't be having any beers at noon (you're welcome, Jen) but I do still think I'm going to have a pretty good time. Seems like just about everyone I know from here will be there racing or cheering... as well as some good friends from AZ who I can't wait to see!

So... my goals for the race? I do have some time goals in mind, though I think I'll keep them to myself for now because you just never know what is going to happen on race day and how it will all unfold. I will say this though- I hope that my race is reflective of the training I have done. And if it is, the finish time will take care of itself. I don't feel like I need any of that 'Race Day Magic' because all I have to do is exactly what I've been doing in training and it'll be perfect. (Though I guess I do need my body to work with me on putting it all together in a single day.)

Looks like the weather may cooperate with us as well. Forecast predicts it'll be a somewhat 'normal' day, which still means hot and windy, but not CRAZY HOT and not CRAZY WINDY. I've ridden up to Hawi before when it's crazy windy and it's so scary- like your-foot-is-clipped-out-of-your-pedal-because-you're-ready-for-the-wind-to-blow-you-over-at-any-moment scary.... but Saturday should not be like that. So phew.

If you want to follow along, go to and use the athlete tracker. I'm number 1450 but searching for Michelle Simmons will work too. Or you can sort by age groups (W35-39). There should also be a live video feed of the finish line so that'll be cool. :) Sorry to those of you on the east coast who will have to stay up well past your bedtimes if you want to see the finish.

So Thursday morning I'll be swimming here... my favorite place in the world to swim...

In an ideal world, I'll finish while the sky looks a lot like this. See ya on the flip side!

PS- I'll be updating via Facebook from Kona- and giving my phone to my friend Kathy so she can update while the race is going on- so if you want to follow along there too, send me a friend request! :)))

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Race Week

Some random musings for a Sunday night....

Not that this will come as a huge surprise, but I'm not a big fan of tapering. My energy levels are returning to normal which is cool I guess. I actually stayed awake through a *whole* movie last night and that hasn't happened in, um, a long time. But I find myself antsy most of the time... tapping my fingers or toes and just wanting time to pass faster than it is. And I'm not feeling super stellar in my workouts right now. I don't feel bad, per say, but I guess you'd just think that with all this rest I'd be getting faster and feeling better while training but that's just not the case so far. I have been assured that this is normal so I'm not freaking out about it or anything, but I am looking forward to feeling really strong or something. Instead, I just kind of feel blah. It's weird- like I need a big training week to get myself pumped up. Hopefully I snap out of this and my sassy self comes to visit in a few days. If I were a betting woman, I'd say I'm gonna be fine before Saturday.

I finally started packing. I made a detailed list yesterday and it is two pages long. The second page is all the stuff I need to bring for Moana. Traveling to an Ironman with a toddler* is going to be different than traveling to an Ironman by myself. So much to think about, especially given that she eats mostly homemade food that I make for her... but without a kitchen this weekend I'm not going to be able to do that so I'll be improvising. I was out running this morning trying to figure out my race nutrition, but the whole time I couldn't even think about my race- instead I was trying to figure out what Moana was going to eat all day and what kind of instructions I'm going to have to provide for Scott to ensure her survival on Saturday. 'Race Day Nutrition Strategy' takes on a whole new meaning when you can't think about anyone but your almost one year old daughter.

So I'll probably be the last competing athlete to arrive in Kona this year. Seems like everyone is there already**... I'm getting updates via facebook from so many athletes about what's going on over there and I feel so left out! It's my choice, I know, not to go until Wednesday afternoon. In the end it's no big deal because it's not like I have to acclimate to the climate or time zone, and I've been there before so I know the course and the water and all that... but it is fun to take part in all the race week activities and soak up all the energy. I just figured that 5 days would be quite enough for Moana so we're not going too early. I'm flying over with Moana on Wednesday afternoon, and then Scott is going to come join us on Thursday after work. So I'll have my hands full traveling with a bike and a baby by myself. Yeah. Wish me luck on that one. And I don't know what I was thinking, scheduling our flight right during Moana's afternoon nap time. Hello?? Earth to Michelle??? Flights go from Honolulu to Kona every hour all day long and I picked her nap time? Ugh. I must have had a major brain fart that day I bought our tickets.

Anyway, in good news, when we get to Kona we'll be staying right in town near the start/finish. I'll be able to walk to the pier on Saturday morning rather than needing Scott to pack up Moana and try to drive me down. Yep, another decision that was based around Moana's needs. I figured that way Scott could walk down as well when they were ready to watch the swim, and then easily get back to the room so she could nap while I'm out on the bike (and then again while I'm running). So we're not staying in the nicest place in Kona (an understatement) but the location is good so that's what's important for us. Watching an Ironman is hard work so I want to make it as easy as possible for Scott and Moana. Mama wants a smiling family for the photo at the finish line. :)

*Yes, Moana is officially a toddler. She's walking all over the place, expressing her desires in no uncertain terms, and even throwing a token tantrum now and then. I can no longer call her a baby.

**I just got off the phone with Marit! We had the longest conversation because we just couldn't stop talking... what a cool girl. Looking forward to hanging out with her this week!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


October is an exciting month around here... First Ironman, then Moana's Birthday!

I cannot believe it is October already.

I distinctly remember last October... feeling super fat... big like a house... 9 months pregnant sitting at this computer watching Ironman online and all depressed that I wasn't there and thinking about the distinct possibility that I never would be there again... I swear, I NEVER would have guessed that this year I'd be racing there. NEVER.

But alas, in 9 days I'll take off at the sound of the cannon with all those other nervous athletes and I promise you, I will enjoy every stinkin' minute of it. :)

So lately I've been getting the same questions over and over again... From those who maybe don't know me very well or haven't seen me in a while I get, "Are you ready?" To which I answer confidently, "Yes." I am ready. There's no doubt about that. I've done every workout assigned to me, and I nailed all the key ones. I think I worked hard enough, but I don't think it was too hard. I think I did enough, but I don't think I was ever overtrained. I am ready.

The next question I get is, "Are you excited?" To that one, I answer, "Not quite yet." To be totally honest, I haven't thought a lot about the race itself. Every time I start to imagine it, I get images of how incredibly overwhelmed I was last time as I was quietly looking around me and taking it all in as I was getting in the water to wait for that crazy swim to start. It makes my heart palpitate a bit too much so I just put it away and stop thinking about it. That being said, if I can change my focus to thinking about being at the finish line and having my picture taken with Scott and Moana, I get excited. :) I am also excited about being there in Kona and meeting a bunch of my blogger friends... And there will be a ton of people there who I actually already know- my friend Kathy is coming all the way from Chicago, and a whole bunch of athlete friends from here will be there watching and cheering (and some racing of course too!) so the whole weekend will be quite social. I'm excited about that!

The last question I've been getting is, "Are you nervous?" My answer? "No." I don't feel I have anything to be nervous about. I mean, I'm not trying to qualify for anything. I don't have delusional ambitions about winning. There's no one in particular that I'm trying to beat. I'm sure my body has the ability to go the distance. So once again, I find myself feeling more curious than anything. Curious about how fast I can go... Curious about how long I can hold off those gazelle runner girls before they pass me... Curious about how I'm going to feel while running that marathon... just curious. I have nothing to be nervous about?

So there you go. October is here. Sweet. What a fun month this is going to be!