Friday, December 31, 2010

Dancing Skirt Necessary

I couldn't care less about New Years Eve. Seriously. Never really have, though now that I have a kid I've got a perfect built in excuse not to have to worry about New Year's plans. Totally overrated, in my opinion.

However, we did go out to dinner with a couple of our friends tonight at a nice restaurant that happens to be across the street from our house. They had a couple of guys playing live Hawaiian music so after we ate I took Moana over closer so she could see the guys with their ukuleles. One song later Moana proved that it was indeed necessary to wear that dancing skirt she insisted on tonight. It.was.hysterical.

She danced and twirled and swung her arms around like it was the last day of the year. Then she started doing somersaults. Right there on the restaurant floor in front of the band. Grandmas everywhere were swooning, including her own. The guys in the band were egging her on by doing a bit of dancing themselves. Then we gave Moana a couple bucks to put in their tip jar and she got a kick out of that part too.

So at least somebody enjoyed the heck out of her New Year's Eve! Now she's in bed and I'm just waiting for the bombing to stop. People here in Hawaii like to blow up fireworks on New Year's Eve, with the excuse that it's some sort of cultural necessity to keep demons away for the coming year. Whatever. They're a bunch of pyromaniacs who like to blow shit up. It's just a bunch of loud bombing that sends our dog into the closet and leaves trash all over the roads in the morning.

I hope it dumps rain tonight.

So as much as I'm not a fan of New Year's Eve, I *am* a fan of New Years Day! I love starting the new year with a great workout. I love hearing about how people do their 100x100's in the pool... I'd like to do that too but our pool isn't open on holidays so I haven't been able to do anything like that in 6+ years. Instead, I'll start 2011 with a 4 hour bike ride (wearing a sleeveless jersey!) in the morning. Yay! Can't wait.

So Happy New Year to all of you! Here's to a great 2011 filled with lots of great training and racing and dancing with toddlers... :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh Brah, You Hard Core!

This was the view from my TRX class tonight. Not bad, eh? OK I admit it- I did not take this picture- I stole it online somewhere- but it looked just like this as I was running backwards up that hill. I swear. Cruise boat and all.

I should back up. I think I mentioned before that I got a new TRX system to use here at home. I've been using it. And I love it.  Santa brought me a new workout DVD for Christmas and I did the 40 minute workout on Christmas day and was sore for about 72 hours afterward. Sweet. But I figured it would be a good idea to go to see someone who actually knew what she was doing with TRX before I hurt myself experimenting with moves I really have no business doing.

Gotta love Google. I found a gal who puts on a TRX Boot Camp type class at Kakaako Park several times a week. I emailed her and asked to reserve me a spot for tonight.

It's been about 20 years since I've taken a group fitness class of any kind so I was a bit nervous about what to expect, and even though I've lived here six years now, I wasn't even quite sure how to get to Kakaako Park. (Saved by Google once again). I showed up a little early and saw a Japanese couple who were about to get married, several homeless people with shopping carts and tents, a very skinny dog and a couple of fat cats. Gotta love beach parks in Hawaii. Finally I spotted couple of gals who looked like they were ready for a workout. I followed them.

I was greeted warmly by a couple of gals who were clearly regulars at this class. It didn't take long for Eden to get us split into groups and set to work. Essentially it was a circuit workout that alternated TRX exercises with other circuit training stuff that involved a medicine ball and kettlebells and jump ropes. Eden demonstrated each exercise and I did my best to pay attention but admit that I had to ask for clarification several times after we got started. Everybody was really nice and helpful and when I didn't know what to do they helped me.

At one point I was doing some crazy move on the TRX that involved me leaning forward and holding the TRX above my head and supporting my full body weight with my core. I might have been shaking a bit and can only imagine the look on my face while I was trying to stabilize myself. Sweat was just dripping right off the end of my nose. The drunk/crazy homeless guy under the tent was watching and calling out to me, "Oh brah... you hard core!" I tried really hard not to laugh or give him any attention, but this cracked me up.

In the middle of the class we stopped the circuit to do some hill repeats. I was running backwards up a short steep grassy hill while watching the Japanese couple tie the knot just as the huge orange sun sank itself into the ocean. Kind of surreal. After an hour or so I was feeling all wobbly and all jumped out. We were finally done. Get me a towel. I was soaked.

I don't know how often I'm going to be able to make it back to this class... evenings away from my family are hard and I try to minimize them. I need a morning class on the Windward side! BUT, if you live in town and are looking for a great workout to do in the evenings, email Eden. She's super cool and will get you hooked up. Then you can have homeless guys admiring your hard core too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Cannot Be Trusted Without A HR Monitor, And Other Ramblings...

I know you're all anxiously awaiting videos from Christmas. I'll likely post one or two... I am a bit overwhelmed by the 20+ we took and downloading them from the camera and uploading them to youtube right now is just beyond my abilities. But I'll get to it eventually. In the meantime, know that Moana is now truly a bona-fide Princess. Grammy even did her nails. Now Moana uses words like 'accessories' and 'mani-pedi'. And I'm using words like 'man-I'm-in-for-it.'

While it was easily the best Christmas I've ever had, I've still needed to escape the madness for a bit of training. Phew. All is still right with the world. I'm feeling whole again, being back on my bike and all. I'm pretty much a slave to my heart rate monitor at the moment, which isn't as bad as I thought it might be. It does require lots of solo training time because I don't think I have any friends who are biking and running as easy as I am right now, but after all the holiday hoopla around the house, alone time on the road is just fine with me. Just me and those flashing numbers on my watch that tell me to BACK OFF SISTER every once in a while. You really have to pay attention to go so easy stay in the right zone, you know.

So I found it very interesting when on Sunday my plan called for a brick run after a bike ride- and the run said "No HR- just run easy/natural and let me know your pace." Hmmm. Really? I'm on my own. Sweet.

It was just a 30ish min run so I did the standard loop I always do. And I did it in about the same time I always did last year. I *knew* that I was going harder than what I had been doing all week with those HR limitations, but nonetheless it felt 'natural' (he did say natural, right?) so I went with it. It did not feel hard to me. Just natural. I tried to convince myself that this was, indeed, easy.

In the back of my mind I guessed I was running at 10-15 beats higher than the HR cap I'd been given all week. But it felt oh so good. I got home, logged into Training Peaks, and proudly wrote in my pace for the super brick run. Felt fine! I wrote.

Coach replied promptly via email, Could you have kept up that pace for 26.2 miles?

Me: Um, nope. Maybe 13.1?

Coach: Then you went too hard.

Me: See? That's what you get for letting me off the HR monitor.

I bet he won't do that again.

In the end it was apparently a good lesson for us both- he learned that I cannot be trusted without a HR monitor. And I learned that my definition of 'easy' is not really 'easy'. Smart guy- making me prove to myself that I do not know easy. Too bad Moana can't just wave one of her magic wands and instantly enlighten me.

My reward for that run yesterday was another run today, with a HR cap 10 beats BELOW the low cap I had last week. Seriously?? Can I even walk with a HR that low? I wasn't sure. But I took it as a challenge. I love challenges. And I did it. I went 40 min with HR avg of 141. It was like a *whole new level* of easy! I'm not sure you could technically call what I was doing 'running', but hey, I hired a guy who calls himself jogdaddy to coach me so what did I expect? Of course, he jogs at 6:46 pace.

In good news, I finished that run and then got to destroy myself in the pool. Swim test. 5 x 300's. I swam 'til I felt nauseous. Perfect. Then I got to play Tug-of-War with Nalani. Yep. For Christmas she made me one of those stretch cord strap things that connect us together in the water so we can swim against each other in opposite directions and try to pull each other to our end of the pool. I cannot even begin to tell you how hard this was. Especially after testing myself with 5 x 300's. I think I lasted maybe 20 seconds before I just gave up, went limp, and let Nalani drag me away... Kurt got it on video so if he ever gets that to me I'll post it here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Welcome To The Program

'Tis the season... to pick a new coach!

Yep, January 1 is right around the corner... this is a fun time of year since we get to dream all about our goals for next year and then figure out a plan to achieve them.

As a coach, I am excited about having picked up a few new athletes for next year... getting to know them and what makes them tick... good stuff.

As an athlete, I've found myself insanely quite jealous of some of you out there who have announced your plans to train with new coaches... and I was inspired... for lots of reasons. I don't even know if I could go into all of them here, but I found myself overwhelmingly curious about what a good coach would do with me in 2011. I had sketched out a general plan of how I was going to train myself for IMCdA and was excited to implement it, but then just couldn't stop thinking about what differences there would be if someone else was doing the planning...

Picking a coach of course is a challenge. I knew I needed one who I respected, and I wanted one who knows running. And who knows Ironman. And one who wanted to take me on as a little project. Long story short (thanks to Kerrie for the recommendation!) right before the marathon, I contacted my potential new coach. We agreed to talk the following week.

After the marathon I got a very short email from him. All it said was, "3:56 on Sunday? You need to be much better at CDA."



Ok. Put your big girls pants on, Michelle. You need this. I replied, "Yes. I know. This is why I want to talk to you."

I was nervous to talk to him on the phone after that email but turns out he's not nearly as blunt when talking live. He's actually really nice. But he was still blunt. Which is good. I need that. We communicated a bit about what I have done in the past both training and racing and what I want to do in the future. At one point he said, "I think I know what your mistake has been and I know how to fix it."

Say no more. You're hired.

Can I just say that sharing your Training Peaks account with someone is akin to giving your diary to your mother?

Anyway, we just got started but already I can see plenty of differences in what he is telling me to do vs what I would have been doing with myself. Mostly (so far) it involves an intensity level that is far below what I have (ever) done. But he doesn't screw around with volume. This should be fun.

Given how easy my bike and run workouts have been, I was quite surprised to see the swim workout for this morning. It included the words hard effort, max effort, uncomfortable and then some more max effort. Really? Wow. Ok. Seriously, I think every meter after the w/u was quality work. Looking at the whole workout, I did a bit of math in my head and counted 4200M. So apparently while we are building my bike and run fitness from the ground up, we're not going to be letting go of the swim fitness I built this fall. Perfect.

I dragged Nalani out this morning to accompany me for my swim (actually, she gladly agreed to come when I asked her). She saw the workout and was like, is this supposed to be an easy one? This doesn't look easy. Nope. I told her I think it's his way of saying Welcome To The Program. Lol.

So I'm feeling really excited about this new element I have added back into my training. I really enjoyed working with a coach in the past and didn't realize how much I missed it until I brought one back in.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Have An Idea

Grammy comes tomorrow!!

Ok, I'm so excited to see my mom. Every time Moana has done or said something cute in the last few weeks I've thought, "Oh mom is going to love this when she has a chance to see/hear Moana..." Must be a mother/daughter thing but I simply cannot wait to share my daughter with my mom.

But since she's staying for a full 15 days I may have another story by the time her return flight takes off. You know what they say about company. Just kidding, mom.  Sort of;)

So this morning Moana came downstairs and said, "I have an idea!" I asked her what her idea was, but apparently she didn't really know b/c she just kept saying I have an idea! Too cute. And I thought, I can't wait until my mom hears her say that...

My idea was to start potty training in earnest today. Moana's idea was different.

I don't want to go to the potty.

I don't want to go shi shi (what we call pee pee around here).

Perfect. Except, not. Oh well. What was I going to do? I said, "Moana are you not ready to potty train?" And she replied sweetly, "I not ready." Not sure if she understood exactly what that meant but I put a diaper on her (like she asked) and let it go. I was really hoping to knock this potty training thing out over this Christmas break while she's away from daycare, but I'm not going to force it.

She's a smart one though, that Moana. I bought a bag of small candy canes and have been giving her one each day. She LOVES them. Pretty much every day she asks for one and I tell her you only get ONE. Then when she inevitably asks for another one I remind her that she doesn't get two, she only gets one. There were a few fits in the beginning over this but since I never gave in on the second one she eventually gave up the tantrums. So tonight she approached me in the kitchen and said, "You only get one. Can I have a candy cane please? You only get one."

So I smiled and gave her one.

Five minutes later she came back and asked sweetly, "Can I have more candy cane please?" I said, "How many do you get?" She replied with a sly smile, "Um, two!" Ha! At least now I know she really understands the concept of one vs two. But she didn't get the second one. I don't think she actually expected to because without protesting she went right back to watching Sesame Street.

So here's an idea... I wonder if I gave her candy canes for going to the potty if she'd be more open to the idea? I'm not normally into bribing my kid, but in this case, I may not be above it. Thoughts on this? She uses the potty sometimes, just not regularly. And she rarely tells me beforehand if she has to go (although she has done this before- just not regularly). Maybe a candy cane of she tells me and then actually goes? That might work. Clearly I'm thinking as I type here. Your experiences would be highly appreciated on this btw.

Moving on... it's been a week since the marathon and like a good little athlete I did not run at all for a full 7 days. But I was really happy to get back out there today. Just an easy peasy 40 minutes and it felt great. My legs actually felt better afterward than they did before the run. I love how that works. Early registration for Kama'aina (people who live here) opened for the Honolulu Marathon today. $35. Can't beat that. Count me in! I am so completely convinced I can do that better next year, so I'm gonna give it another try. How's that for a good idea?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Double Roughwater... Or, I Can't Believe That Crazy RD Let Us Swim Today

I woke up at 1:30AM because it was raining so hard I thought the drops might actually penetrate our rooftop. This continued for hours while I just tossed and turned and wondered if the race was going to be cancelled this morning. Eventually I got up and started brewing the coffee.

Scott came downstairs and asked if I even wanted to load up and bother going into town... he was sure the race would not be held. I considered that option, given that it would be kind of a pain in the you know what to take Moana everything down there just to be told, "Duh." and then have to turn around and just come home. But then I was like, You know what? If they actually do hold the race and I didn't show up I would be even more disappointed then if it was cancelled. So we packed up and got in the car.

Text messages flew while we were driving into town (I was not driving so don't get on me for this) and back and forth with Nalani and Jennifer... I wonder if they're going to hold the race?? Jennifer got to the beach first and sent the text, "It's ON!"

Holy cow. Seriously? Cool.

I arrived and took one look at the beach though and thought the RD was nutso. Seriously, it was pouring, and visibility was like 15ft. And I'm not talking about water visibility. I mean, you couldn't see anything b/c it was like we were in a cloud. This sort of poses a problem when you're out in the ocean swimming for buoys that you cannot see. But then again, maybe not so much of a problem b/c there aren't too many buoys in this swim to see anyway. There's a windsock about 250 meters out, another triangle buoy they place about 400M past that, and then you just swim along the Waikiki coastline for like forever 2300M until you get to the permanent Ala Wai channel buoy. Turn around and navigate your way back to the big triangle buoy and then turn in to the finish. This map gives you an idea- except the finish isn't where this finish is- instead you do a 180 at that far buoy and swim back.
Anyway, needless to say individual escorts are absolutely required since the swimmers can't see that far ahead to get to that buoy, but today, even the escorts couldn't see. It was like the blind leading the blind. Perfect. Adds to the adventure, right?

So I put on both my swim caps and stood around chatting with some friends. Looking around, I felt like this was the Who's Who of fast female Oahu swimmers. Not sure where all the fast men were? There were a few, but I think most of 'em wimped out and stayed home due to the rain. But not these women. I could only think of one super fast gal who didn't show up today (my athlete Karen, who is on the mainland). All the other typical players were there with their game faces on. We've all raced each other lots of times for years and years (racing on an island is like that)... based on past experience with these gals I guessed I would be 7th or 8th today if I had a decent swim. I knew for sure that 6 of them were just flat out faster than me. I also knew that I had to be on my game to get back to the beach before my long time age group rival, Jana... she is fiercely competitive... as am I sometimes. :)

So then out of the blue the race director yelled "GOOOOO!" and we all looked at each other and were like, are we supposed to start swimming now? I don't think anyone even had their goggles on? Love little races like this! Ha! I put my goggles on and ran into the water.

Not a whole lot to report about the swim itself. I got out to the first turn buoy right next to Jana, found Scott on his surfboard, and then just started plugging away. I was singing Beyonce in my head "Oooh boy you're lookin' like you like what you see won't you come over and check on it I'm a let you walk up on it ladies let 'em check up on it watch it while he check up on it..." Nice, no? That's about the extent of it for the first 45 minutes. Then I was like, man, I need a new song in my head.

The water was choppy and ugly but not as bad as we've faced in training so it was fine. You know, there is something completely freakin' awesome about a race when you are 100% confident that you have done the training and are ready to put in a good effort.

It rained off and on during the swim but I didn't pay much attention to that. I did not like being near the channel buoy though in this weather. You might wonder why rain is such a big deal during an ocean swim? It's not the rain- it's the run off from the land caused by the heavy rains. Makes the water just nasty nasty nasty anywhere near a channel that comes from land (which was our turn-around point). The water just got more and more and more brown and I made a conscious effort to keep my mouth closed- but that's just weird. Have you ever tried to swim with your mouth totally closed? Anyway, I specifically remember thinking that Lake Erie in Cleveland was probably cleaner. Yuck.

I was feeling a bit nauseous at this point- likely from swallowing too much of this nastiness- and I considered telling Scott I was going to skip the GU I had instructed him to give me after the turn around. But then I thought that if I happened to end up in a mano-a-mano battle at the end of the race I didn't want to be bonking so I was smart and stuffed down that GU. Yuck. But I did it.

Anyway, swimmers get pretty spread out during this race (without buoys this happens) so pretty much all I saw the whole time was Scott and his surfboard. I didn't know where any of the other gals were but I made an assumption they were swimming strongly so I kept up my best effort all the way back. Coming home I felt solid but that didn't mean I wasn't desperately hoping to see that final orange buoy. The biggest issue was that I was cold and my arms were both numb. It was like that buoy was never going to come. I kept looking up to see if I could spot it but only ever saw vast open ocean ahead of me so I tried really hard to just swim and stop looking. Just swim Michelle. Swim like it's never going to end. Just swim.

Eventually of course I got a glimpse of it. AH!! THE BUOY!! LIKE A BRIGHT SHINING BEACON IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN... Phew.

I made the final turn and had like 650M into a very strong head-current to get to shore. I took a couple of very long breaths looking behind me to see if anyone was close. I wanted to know if I was going to have to duke it out with Jana anyone? I saw someone back there but the gap was at least 50M so I knew that my place was my place at this point so I just put it on cruise control and swam in. At one point, I kid you not, I was swimming (hard) and absolutely going backwards. I knew enough to chill out and be patient and wait for the wave that was about to come pick me up and thrust me forward, but still, that was depressing to see myself actually moving backwards. I vowed not to look at the bottom anymore.

OK, ready for the best part of the whole race? I swam right up until I could touch the bottom and then as I stood up I heard Moana yell "MAMA!!!!!" Oh my this was so cool! She had been right on shore (in the rain) with my soaking wet friend Lynne who was watching her and they were waiting for us to come in. Absolutely awesome! I ran over to Moana with a huge smile and picked her up and then ran back over to get Scott (who had just dropped his surfboard in the sand) and all three of us crossed the line together. I hope somebody got a picture of that because it was one of my most favorite race finishes ever.

Afterward. The happy family! Thanks to Kim for this shot!

Poor Moana. She kept pleading, "Mama hold you... mama hold you..." (Meaning Mama hold me- she doesn't quite get all the pronouns yet) and man I tried but my arms were just cramping up. Sorry Moana. Mommy cannot hold you right now. Mommy's arms are tired.

Then I started shivering pretty much uncontrollably so I went back to the car and turned on the heat and changed into my fleece. Then I brought out the airpot of hot coffee I had brewed at 5:30AM and brought it out to share with my other hardcore swimmer friends.

So, wanna guess where I placed? 7th OA (12th including men- where were the men? Melting b/c of the rain? Wah wah?), 1st age group. Guess who that was 50M behind me at the final buoy? My awesome rival. Perfect. I won my age group by 45 seconds! My time (2:07) was my slowest ever and 9 minutes longer than last year, but everyone was a good bit slower than last year b/c the currents were way stronger than they've been in previous years. This is why I do not stress about swim times in races. You just never know how long it is going to take based on conditions or whatever. Last year was picture perfect. This year, well, notsomuch. But I am happier with my performance this year b/c I felt stronger and pushed more. Then again, last year at this time I was pregnant (I have not forgotten) so wasn't actually able to push hard...

Couple of other notes. Um, Nalani kicked ass today. I knew she was swimming well based on what she has been doing in the pool so I was anxious to see how she would stack up against these other super fast women. Nalani established herself as one of the fastest female swimmers on the island today coming in 3rd OA (6th including men). Nalani did not swim as a kid. Nope. She started swimming as an adult and for years could not swim in the same lane as me. Then she caught up. Then she started pushing me. Then she left me in the dust. She is proof positive that the swim can be learned and that smart hard work in the water actually works. Huge congrats to her! I could not be more proud. My other athlete, Jennifer also did very well coming in right behind Jana in 9th. I'm actually kind of convinced that I just took a better line than she did there at the end b/c she has amazing endurance so I totally thought she was going to get me. 

All in all a super wet fun day. I'm so glad that race director threw caution to the wind and let us race today. I do think that if this was the ever popular (over-crowded) regular Roughwater Swim that they might have been more cautious and called it due to weather, but that since this was just a small group of 41 pretty hardcore swimmers with individual escorts, they let it happen. Love it.

Next up? Finish that bottle of wine. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Um, Not Done Yet...

In my head I feel like I'm on my off-season break, and I suppose if in my head I'm on break, then really I'm on break. Except, well, I still have this little ocean swim race on Sunday. So funny how the Double RoughWater became a complete after-thought in the wake of the marathon.

It's been quite a beautiful week around here... I know so many of you on the mainland are enduring blizzards and temperatures that only need a single digit (or finger) to describe them and to you I have one thing to say... You don't have to live there if you don't want to... But moving on I'll say that while it has been beautiful here, it is not summer anymore and I think we're all gonna be quite cold swimming for 2 hours in the ocean on Sunday morning.

Last night I stayed up to watch the weather and the guy showed a map of the Pacific that showed a huge ugly dark colored mass off to the west of our island chain... and then he mentioned something about how this big storm would come in sometime Saturday night and last through Monday morning. Perfect. Storms around here mean epic things for the ocean.

I don't mind swimming in epic ocean conditions. Truth be told, I kinda like it. Swells, wind chop, currents, bring it on! I mean, if you're going to participate in a 7K ocean swim race, you better well come out with a good war story, you know? That said, it's the cold I don't like. The water is probably 75ish degrees which I know isn't THAT cold but after like 45 minutes being submerged in it without a wetsuit I do start feeling cold and sometime in the second hour I'll expect my hands to go numb (they always do). Even wearing 2 swim caps I suspect that just like last year I'll be shivering quite uncontrollably by the finish.

Scott will be paddling for me since we each need individual escorts out there. I was worried that he would be really cold b/c he's the not going to be working that hard just paddling to go my speed. Then he reminded me that he would be wearing a wetsuit. Now I'm not worried about Scott. But I probably should be worried about Moana b/c my plan is to bring her down to the beach and have a friend of mine babysit her while Scott and I are out on the water... but if it's a cold rainy day that really won't be a lot of fun for her or Lynne. Hmmmm. Not sure what to do about that. In good news, Moana is in love with her umbrella these days so maybe it'll be fun for her after all.

In the end, while I admit I have not thought a lot about this race in the past few weeks, I am confident that I will be fine out there. I really like this race. It's small- only like 40 invited swimmers did it last year. They don't advertise a lot b/c in all honesty the race directors don't want to be responsible for swimmers who are less than 100% confident being in the ocean for that long. It's more a matter of word of mouth thing and if you hear about it through your circle of local swimmer friends and you're motivated enough, you seek out the invitation somehow and get yourself in. It's so different than what we experienced last weekend with 23,000 runners from all over the world in that marathon craziness. I think this race is more my style. Come back Sunday for the low down on how it went.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Moana Chronicles, Dec 2010

I don't know what people are talking about when they say "Terrible Two's"? I love Moana being two. She's the cutest darn thing I've ever seen and she's actually just a ton of fun to hang out with- more and more every day, even as she gets more opinionated.

Scott has been working late and early this past week which means I've had more 'On-Duty' time than normal. I can see how if you were a single parent it would be easy to just center your life around your kid and really become partners in crime. (I mean that in the best possible way.) It's like, somehow when I know I don't have to come home and cook dinner for my husband we go out and play around after daycare and totally get out of our home-routine...

Take last night, for example. I picked her up at 4:00 and we went shopping at Target. (See what I mean? We totally LIVE.IT.UP around here) Moana hung out in the cart and helped me pick out toys for her cousins and her day-care Auntie and a couple little friends... So cute that I can ask her, "Which one?" and she goes, "Mmmmmm, this one!" And I'm such a sucker- I don't shop a lot but when I do I really do so the whole time I was sneaking little gifts for her into our cart when she wasn't looking. At two, she's still quite easy to fool. And I have a hard time not buying things for her.

She's also quite easy to entertain. You know what is the BEST for two year olds at bath time? Mr Bubble spray on soap! It comes in a can that looks like a whipped cream container but sprays on pink and thicker than shaving cream.

Last night when we got home and she was taking a bath I would ask her where she wanted me to spray the soap and she was like, "My elbow! My knee! My foot! My belly button!!" And the phrase of the night was "More soap please!" This stuff is the bomb. Tonight she walked herself right up the stairs before Sesame Street was even over and said "Bath time!" Yep. Spray on soap. Go get it.

So this morning Scott went to work early... usually it's me who gets up and goes early to train so she's used to her dad getting her up... I was in bed trying to sleep in but listening to her in her crib saying, "Daddy wake up! Daddy. WAKE UP!" Too funny. So I walked into her room and she was like, "Oh! It's mama! Mama get in crib?" Yes. She wanted me to get in her crib with her. So I did. It was hysterical. She's got pillow pets (a dog and now a new ladybug that she LOVES) and too many stuffed animals to count in there so it was a bit crowded. But she had a ball with me in there. She kept telling me to lay down "Mama LAY DOWN!" but I was like, "I don't fit in here sweetie..." Ha!

So eventually we got up and somehow she got a glimpse of the tail of her kitty cat costume from Halloween (the one she wouldn't wear out of the house to trick-or-treat)... it was up on a high shelf but she wanted it down... and then she wanted it ON. Ok. Whatever. I put it on her. And wouldn't you know it? She wore that thing ALL DAY. Ears and all.
Apparently she got some extra attention for being so cute at daycare today so I'm envisioning lots of costume wearing in the near future.

We're still working on the potty training too. She's actually in a good routine of sitting on the potty before her bath... she pees and poops like clockwork every night at 7:00. Nice, no? I just need to get her into the habit/routine of doing it in the morning and during the day too (which is up to me to take the time to let her do it). I'm thinking I'll finally focus on it for a few weeks over Christmas break. Daycare is closed for two weeks starting on Monday so she'll be home full time. My mom is coming out to visit (next week she'll be here!!) and I know she's super excited about spending time with Moana but I bet she didn't guess so much of it would be spent in the bathroom.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Is What I Wanted?

Just now I was standing at the landing at the top of the stairs, looking down that ominous flight of steps, trying to figure out how I would get down. Scott said, "Do you need me to bring you something?"

He's watched me hobble around over the last 36 hours or so and seems to have an understanding that my legs hurt. He just told me, "I don't think I've ever seen you so disabled..."

Yep. That about covers it! He's watched me train for and race 2 Ironmans in the last 3+ years but recognized this as the worst of it. I replied, jokingly but seriously, "Yes. See, this is why we train. So we don't feel like this. See, the more you train, the faster you complete the race, and the better you feel the next day. Don't train enough, and you don't have your best race, and you end up like this..."

I'm am not seriously hurt or anything- not like injured hurt- I've just got some really really ripped up quads and hips from running too far too hard yesterday. OUCH.

In the back of my mind I was hoping that the e21 I took pre, mid, and post race yesterday would have alleviated this. While I still believe in that stuff, and while I actually think I would be worse off today had I not taken any of it, unfortunately it is not actually a replacement for training. Lol.

But in the end, I am quite happy to feel like this. Because it means that I accomplished my goals yesterday. Last week, when I wasn't sure if I would/could do that marathon, I wrote, If I go out there next weekend and actually run 26 miles, staying relentlessly positive the whole time, and feeling completely spent at the finish line, well, that would be goal accomplished at this point. I got thrown. And now I'm learning. I'm learning how to change up my plans and accept that I can only do what I can do. But I'm still going to try to do it the very best I can.

Somewhere around mile 18 yesterday, when I realized how badly I was starting to hurt, I kept telling myself, "This is what you wanted, Michelle. You wanted to put yourself here... in this place of hurt. Embrace it..." I also self-talked myself into the fact that everyone around me was hurting just as badly as I was, even though they were all flying by me looking quite light and fresh. I knew that as horrible as those miles were from 20-24, I was quite happy to do them because it meant that I was not watching from the sidelines. I was out there, doing the best that I could at that moment, and that is indeed what I wanted.

So with that, I embrace this soreness and my inability to walk without looking like I am handicapped. Ideally at some point before the end of the week the stairs wont look quite so ominous anymore, but whatever. I don't have to run again until I feel like it, mentally and physically feel like it, so it's all good!

OK, I just re-read this post and yep, I sound like some sort of psycho endurance athlete... Ha!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More On Magic...

I ran the Honolulu Marathon this morning! And while I am not hurt, per say, I'm am certainly hurting... which should come as no surprise at all given what I put my body through this morning. Yep, before noon I ran 26.2 miles and then drank 3 glasses of champagne, 2 beers, a shot, and then another beer. I was in rare form, to say the least. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First off, I have to say that The Magic Man is indeed some sort of miracle worker. I limped around for 4 days this past week, unable to put pressure on my forefoot at all because of that rolled ankle. I went to see him late yesterday afternoon... 5 little needles followed by some manipulation and pop, something went right back into place and I was able to walk again. Yep. I believe in magic. He told me that my ankle would be fine to run today. He was right. It didn't bug me even a tiny bit.

Last night I was at a company dinner (Scott's company) when Rachel came and plopped down a margarita in front of me. She told me that marathon PR's are made of patron margaritas the night prior. Given that Rachel ran 3:03 last week in Vegas, I was eager to believe her so I drank that margarita no questions asked. Then we got to talking and Rachel pretty much had me convinced that race day magic does indeed exist. OK. My head was on straight. I was going for it this morning. What 'it' was, I wasn't quite sure... but I figured I'd know it if/when I got it.

On to this morning... It was pretty uneventful pre-race, save for the fact that I left my race number at home. Whoops! Nalani's husband was awesome and offered to drive back and get it for me... I ran sans-number for 21 miles this morning but he got it to me eventually. So cool of him.

The morning started off in the dark... with a massive display of fireworks at 5AM. This part was really cool. I was all amped up and mentally ready to go and believing in race day magic. We started somewhere near the start line but it took us a bit to actually get across it. I was figuring about a minute or so but didn't really know because my watch looked like this.
Yep. I stood by my original intention of running this marathon by feel. BUT, I brought my watch and started it when I crossed the start line because I figured I might want some of the information for post-race analysis. So I got some of my splits in chunks of 2-4 miles. I chose to skip the HR monitor as well b/c hey, if I'm gonna run naked, I might as well run naked, right?

Anyway, I felt like I was floating though the first 13 miles. Solid but quite cruisy. There were pace clocks at some of the mile markers on the course, so even though I didn't start my watch, I had a general idea of where I was at. Of course, the clocks were set to race time, not the time I actually crossed the start line, so I figured they were off by a minute or so, though I wasn't exactly sure. The clock said 1:52:xx at the 1/2, so I guessed 1:51ish for me, which was 8:30 pace avg, which felt about right effort-wise. I did the simple math in my head and reset my goals for 3:45 for the finish. I was still feeling quite decent but knew I wasn't strong enough to even or negative split today so I gave myself a couple minutes cushion with this new 3:45 goal.

I had to work harder for the next few miles. I felt like I was slowing down... I was not bogged down by this b/c I did not have a watch flashing the meltdown before my eyes (Can I tell you what an incredible blessing this was??). Looking at the splits I got on my watch it appears that I actually hung on to this 8:30ish avg for about 20 miles.

Then it all came unraveled.

Somewhere after mile 21 I felt my calf whispering to me... it was on the verge of seizing up. What to do? What to do? I had been telling myself that I was going to run every damn step of this marathon, but somehow that thought now just seemed ridiculous there out on that highway after 21+ miles of running when my calf was telling me it was nearly done. I knew if it seized up I'd be walking the last 5 miles to the finish... so I opted to stop and stretch it on the curb. Oh. My. Gosh. This felt so good I can't even tell you. Every little muscle in both my legs just wanted to be completely done by that point. Unfortunately I still had like 6 more miles to run. Excellent. Except, not.

The next 4 miles were hands down the worst of the whole race. Well, ok, the last 2 miles were pretty bad as well... My watch says 42:37 for those 4 miles from 20-24 so you can do the math on that. I stopped several times during that section to stretch and walk... it was bad. The thing was, I did not beat myself up at all for this. I stayed pretty mentally positive even through this physical meltdown, which I think is a big win. Because let's be honest here- I just ran 20 miles at 8:30 pace. That was some race day magic at work there because with a long run of only 13 miles leading up to this marathon, well, 20 solid miles is pretty cool in my book. I mean, there were so many times in the last 7 weeks that I did not think I would be out there running at all... shoot, even yesterday I was unsure. So the fact that I was out there, doing this, was a huge win. That I ran a solid 20 miles was another win. Of course I wish I could have done it for the full 26.2 but hey, you reap what you sow and I just flat out did not earn a great marathon with the training I did this fall.

The last 2 miles included going back up and over Diamond Head which also was quite ugly, so I was surprised to see 9:35 avg for the last 2.2 miles. It felt more like 12:35. Seriously. It was more than painful. It was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to think about how much it hurt.

But I threw my arms up in the air and smiled when I crossed that finish line!! The clock said 3:58:xx but official chip time was 3:56:56, which, while it was not the 3:45 I decided I could do half way through, is still fine with me given the amount of training (or lack thereof) I put in for this event. And you know what? I am not injured. So, YAY for that!

So back to this idea of race day magic... I concede that it does exist, but only to a certain degree. I'm still a believer that you cannot fake a marathon (ahem). The longer the event, the less you can fake it. My breakdown today was muscular. My muscles simply were not prepared to run 26 miles. I did not force them to adapt to this distance this fall. It is what it is. I did the best I could today, and honestly feel rather satisfied given the circumstances. Do I think I can run a better marathon in the future? Absolutely. Am I going to try again soon? Um, nope.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Much Magic Can The Magic Man Do?

I'm really putting The Magic Man to the test with my little quest to complete the Honolulu Marathon tomorrow. First it was the calf... he passed that test with flying colors (twice!). Last Sunday afternoon when I left his office I thanked him profusely and acknowledged that he is very much responsible for getting me to the start line...

So it was all good.

Then Tuesday morning Nalani and I were in the middle of a 4 mile tempo section of our run when I stepped in a hole and rolled my ankle. OUCH! ARGH! It hurt, but not that bad, and I was pretty focused on my pace, so I kept running. Finished the workout and didn't think about it again until I woke up Wednesday morning and felt the whole side of my calf, almost from my ankle to my knee, feeling quite tender. It took me a bit to figure out what the issue was- it was quite different from what I had felt before- then I remembered about how I rolled my ankle. Ah ha. That must be it. But I didn't think it would be a huge deal because after all, I was able to keep running on it Tuesday...

I iced it a couple times and figured it would be fine by the weekend.

Fast forward to Friday (yesterday) morning... I went for a little 30 min jog and could feel a 'clicking' in my ankle... that's probably not good I thought to myself... it didn't really hurt to run, but it felt, well, compromised. I finished that run and then my foot started to hurt on the outside just below my ankle bone. More ice and a last ditch call to The Magic Man begging for an appointment today. Pleeeeeease fit me in, I begged. Awesome guy told me to come in at 3:30 today.

Anyway, I went to pick up my marathon packet yesterday. I realize that limping through the expo less than 48 hours prior to a marathon is probably not a good sign. What was I thinking?? HELLO?!!?? The signs here are all pointing to no... I feel like I've just had so much adversity going into this damn marathon... yet I am not willing to give up. Not yet anyway. Not until The Magic Man at least tries to fix me. I will be smart though- if he looks at my ankle and tells me that he thinks it's a bad idea for me to run tomorrow, then I will not run tomorrow.

One thing that has been interesting through all this is that I've really learned a nice little lesson about my determination. Let's just say it is there. I can feel my deep burning desire to run this marathon tomorrow. That said, I have a deeper desire to start 2011 injury free. In a little bit I will drive 45 minutes to get to my 30 min appointment and hope against all hope that this guy really can perform some more magic. If I'm on the start line tomorrow, well then, he truly is magic.

Boy, there's nothing like not knowing whether or not you're going to run a marathon tomorrow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Under-Committing Vs Over-Committing

Today I was swimming with Brett and Nalani. We were doing a set of 50's with fins that included some butterfly. A total of 4 x 50's fly within the set and the intervals were roomy enough that we could do them and not die.

Before the second one, Brett said, "I'm gonna go 25 fly, 25 free." Of course I protested and told him there was no reason he couldn't pull off another 50 fly. Come on... We had fins on! Quit being a wimp.

So we swam the 50 and of course Brett did the whole thing fly. At the wall, he proudly said, "Under commit. Over produce." My initial reaction was Awesome, Brett! You did it! But then I started thinking, of course he could do it. It was ridiculous to think that he couldn't do it in the first place.

I couldn't stop thinking about this notion of under-committing. For the rest of the set I dwelled on it. It's very common among runners and triathletes to do this. Set the expectations too low from the start so that when you do better than you predicted, you can feel good about yourself. And everybody says, "Good job!" So you're proud of yourself for an effort that may not have even been your best. But it was better than you predicted. So therefore you can feel good about it. Right?

Does that help us become our best?

Right before we pushed off on the 3rd 50 fly I said, "I'm going to beat Brett on this one." Newsflash: That was a ridiculous statement. I wasn't going to beat Brett. First of all, he is a way better swimmer than I am. AND, his fins are bigger. But, the fact that I over-committed and said that out loud caused me to work WAY harder on the 50 fly than I had on the first two. I also went faster. I really tried to beat Brett. Did I beat him? Of course not. But did I actually achieve more in the absolute sense because I tried? I think I did.

I tried again on the 4th 50 fly. Nope. Didn't beat Brett. But man, I got a good workout trying!

So I'm not done contemplating this Under-commit Vs Over-commit thing. It's so easy to under commit, especially on a race morning. I'm tired. I don't feel that well today. I trained too much. I didn't train enough. I think I'm getting sick. Blah blah blah. The list can go on and on. We all do it. Sometimes the excuses we offer before a race are indeed quite valid, but in the end they are all forms of under committing, no? So that way we can feel good about ourselves even if we put in a sub-par performance based on our actual capability.

I am not immune either. In fact, I may be under committing to this marathon. See? I say, Oh, I'm totally not ready. I haven't trained enough. I don't even know if I can finish!?! And then any finish, no matter how far off my potential I cross the line, is a big win and I can congratulate myself. Vs if I still have some sort of time goal in my head and I try to hit it but I don't... well then, I feel like I failed. But it's all just a matter of perception. If I say I'm going to run 3:40 and then I run 3:47, I failed. But if I say I hope I can just finish and then I run 4:05, I succeeded. In this case is it better for me to under-commit or over-commit?

 I don't have all the answers here, but I am intrigued by this idea of under-committing. But you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, right?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bet You've Never Seen TRX Like This Before

I've been coveting the TRX System for quite some time now. I just never justified the $200 commitment to it, and I couldn't find any TRX trainers here in Hawaii to experiment with it first, and well, excuses excuses.

Cyber Monday came and I saw TRX at 25% off and I could not resist any longer. $150 I could justify. Given that I have my credit card number memorized, it only took about 30 seconds before the system was on its way to me.

It arrived Saturday! Immediately I opened the box and got it set up on a hook outside on our patio. The first thing I wanted to try was an atomic push up because, well, I'd seen the videos about them and they just looked so hard and I wanted to know if I could do one. Yay! I could do one. Well, I could do more than one. I did them 'til I failed. Then I rested a bit and did some more. Awesome.

Then Moana woke up from her nap and had some other ideas for the TRX.

Later I watched the DVD that came with the system about how to get the thing set up. Oh yeah, I didn't do that quite right outside. Not safe. Whoops. OK, well it looked like we would indeed need to use the ceiling hook thing I bought along with the system. The big burning question- where do we put it?

The short story is that hook now hangs right in the middle of our living room. Luckily I have quite an understanding husband. Lol. The thing was, I wanted/needed it to be in a place where I could still see my computer because I don't know how to do the exercises, so for a while I'm going to have to follow along to the DVDs on my computer. In good news, I can remove the TRX from the hook so it's not like it's hanging there all the time like a big elephant in the middle of the room.

Anyway, Saturday night in our house went something like this... me with a pitiful pleading look on my face, holding the TRX in one hand and the ceiling hook in the other.. alternating longing looks between Scott and the ceiling where I wanted it hung. Eventually Scott questioned, "Now?" Um, Yes! So he dug out his stud finder, ratchet, and drill. 30 minutes later the hook was in the ceiling and even though it was 9:30PM I started following along to the basic workout on the intro dvd. Scott had some other ideas about how the swinging apparatus in our living room could be used but this is a public blog so we'll just leave it at that.

So tonight Moana saw the TRX on the floor next to my computer. She picked it up and handed it to me and said, "I wanna swing!" So I hooked it up for her and she had a blast. Who knew about this alternate use of the TRX? (You have to get about 40 seconds into this one before it gets good.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm Such A Dedicated Coach

9:30PM last night I hear the familiar beep of my phone telling me I've got a text message. It's one of my local athletes, stressing out about what she should wear for the run/swim biathlon this morning. She didn't want to run in a bathing suit but she wasn't going to swim in running clothes. What to do? What to do?

This gal actually has a great sense of humor so we went back and forth for a while and came up with her ideal outfit for the race. Fluorescent tie-dye bathing suit with pink shorts... cap and goggles ON for the run. Perf.

Anyway, our 'conversation' (as always) was quite entertaining and Karen was nervous about racing again because she has not raced in a long time, and has been inconsistent with her training lately (to put it mildly). She is a fantastic athlete with so much talent and I have been encouraging her (sometimes with a hot poker stick) to get back in the game. The challenge is that since she hasn't been consistent with her training, well, her results are just not going to be where they could be. BUT, I knew that if she got out there and did it (a short fun race!) then her motivation would come rushing back. The 5K run/1K swim was perfect for this type of thing.

I started to kid her about me showing up this to give her a run for her money... I was NOT planning on doing this race... but as we continued our smack talk texting I began to see this as a fun opportunity to go play with Karen. Karen is a better natural athlete than I am, but I train harder, so that puts us on a similar playing field when it comes to races.

I was trying to get her pumped up to push hard out there this morning... Our conversation morphed into this:

Me: Now I'm pumped up to go race too! Honestly, that biathlon sounds a hell of a lot better than a marathon!

K: NO! U can't come! Cuz then I won't win. U losers STAY AWAY.

Me: Lol. You would still beat me, my dear. Though maybe I will stealth show up just to make you work.

K: Unfortunately if you show up I'll beat your ass. 

Me: Oh THAT may be just the ticket I need to show up tomorrow. What time does it start?

K: Midnight.

K: Midnight.

K: Midnight.

Me: I just sent a text to the race director asking for a free entry so I can kick your ass.

K: Oh really. I'll just go ahead and text a death threat. No big thing.

Me: If I have to show up to force you to gun it, well, I will. That shows my commitment to you as a coach.

It went on like that for quite some time. Good fun. I love bantering with that girl.

Short story goes like this. I got the entry into the race (gotta love it when the race director is another athlete you coach!!). I showed up this morning with an airpot full of coffee for the race staff and volunteers. Karen and I goaded each other on while warming up. The gun went off. I ran way too fast. I knew Karen was chasing me. I was thrilled my calf didn't even twinge. I started to die. I tried to put my swim cap on in the last tenth of a mile of a 5K (do you have any idea how hard this is???). I put my goggles on while still running toward the water. I was 20th OA (including men) into the water. I dove in and started to swim. Um, do you know how hard that is?? I'm sorry, but I was completely unprepared for the challenge of trying to swim when your HR is completely through the roof b/c you just raced a 5K. I felt like I was swimming so slowly (as fast as I could) but I still managed to pass 10 runners. Though somewhere along the line Karen passed me. I ran up the beach to see Karen standing there with a big fat grin on her face. Mission accomplished. She finished 3rd OA female. I was 4th. It was incredibly fun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Indecision 2010

I'm in. I'm out. I'm in. I'm out. I just can't freakin' make up my mind about this marathon. You think maybe I'd have it figured out since, well, it's next weekend.

I found a guy I am calling The Magic Man... he's a healer. He's an acupuncturist who knows more about every muscle, tendon and ligament than any human should. And he knows how they all work together and what happens when one gets a little too tight... and best yet, he knows how to loosen it all up and FIX ME. I've seen him twice now, and dare I say I'm fixed!?!

I wasn't going to run the marathon though if I couldn't get in at least a decent amount of training for it. You know, at least enough that I could feel good about finishing it and feeling like I was able to put in a respectable effort. Well, it's pretty much too late for that now. My long run has only been 2 hours. I did that on Sunday. In good news, it caused NO PAIN at all in my calf. Not even a twinge of tightness. I'm healed! BUT, the 2 hours did a number on my quads and I was actually a bit too sore for my own comfort afterward. I deemed tacking on an additional 13 miles impossible. I decided (again) that I'm out for the marathon.

But it turns out that Magic Man is also a great sports psychologist. He doesn't market himself that way, but last time I saw him we spent 45 minutes just talking before he even got to my calf. We talked about triathlon. We talked about the marathon. He asked me all sorts of really good questions. Like,

What does training mean to you?

What does this marathon mean to you?

What is your goal? (Not specifically about the marathon here- more like goal for competing in triathlon in general.)

These are really good questions. Ones we've probably all heard before but how often have you sat in a little room and really talked these things through with someone? When I told him I felt like a failure for not being able to follow through with the marathon training I set up for myself, he assured me that I am not. When I told him that my goal (for training and racing in general) was to really take myself to the well... to see how far/hard/fast I can push myself, he told me that I can still do that. I have not failed. I have just had a set-back. And its temporary. He told me, You Learn When You Get Thrown.

Then he left me alone in that little room with the needles sending all sorts of electricity through both my calves to contemplate that.

Yes. I got thrown. So now I have a decision to make. I can start the marathon, and run it with the intention of facing down those hard moments when they come (and hope against all hope that they don't come until at least mile 18), or I can opt out completely and miss this opportunity to see what I'm made of.

Given that I feel like I can do the marathon without actually re-injuring myself at this point (knock on wood!) I think I'm back in. But I think I need to completely let go of any time goals, because let's be honest, I'm not going to hit the one I set out to reach (that was a stretch to begin with). Let's review. I don't believe in race day magic. I believe in training.

So this is my plan (I think. I completely reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow, and based on the way the last week has gone, I just might!). I think I'm going to run it sans watch*. I know, I can hear all you pure runners out there falling off your chairs and gasping out loud. Who runs a marathon without a watch? Lol. I do! The Magic Man talked me through my goals, which, in the end, had nothing to do with time. My goal is to push myself to my limit. I need to keep a clear positive head in order to do that. I need to focus on how my body feels and push it as fast as it can currently go for 26.2 miles. I do not need to be bogged down by splits that will just piss me off when I see them because they are not going to be the ones I originally set out to do. I think in this way I can make peace with whatever my finishing time turns out to be. If I go out there next weekend and actually run 26 miles, staying relentlessly positive the whole time, and feeling completely spent at the finish line, well, that would be goal accomplished at this point. I got thrown. And now I'm learning. I'm learning how to change up my plans and accept that I can only do what I can do. But I'm still going to try to do it the very best I can.

*I might wear a heart rate monitor. At least for the first half. Just to give myself a decent shot at taking it out at a reasonable effort. Still undecided on this.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Victory At Sea

Ocean swimming is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

This morning we took another go at the full double roughwater course. Last time we did it (like 4-5 weeks ago?) it wasn't even planned... it just happened to be such a beautiful perfectly calm day and we were enjoying the warm clear water swim so much that we made the last minute decision to go all the way to the turn-around buoy. That ended up being quite a hard swim, even on such a perfect day. Today, based on the conditions, we figured we were in for it right from the start, but it was fine. We were ready. We wanted it. Bring it on. Come on, ocean! Whattya GOT???


The ocean was angry that day, my friends...

I don't quite know how to describe it in words, but it was epic. There were big swells. I mean, big swells. Generated by the 35 mph gusts of wind. And the whole way out they were going with us. I swear, half the time I felt like I was body surfing. The water would just come pick us up and push us forward and then slam us down the other side. It was tough to find a rhythm with my stroke. At times I just left one hand out front and pulled with only one arm while kicking madly to try to catch and use the wave's energy. It was actually quite fun, as long as I kept the right attitude. I remember thinking that it was awesome and bad ass that we were out there, and that we were not afraid. These were the kind of ocean conditions that many people would be genuinely afraid of. Rightfully so I suppose. Maybe I'm just an idiot for not being afraid, but really, we were fine. (There were 3 of us swimming and we had 2 kayakers with us so that probably helped reduce the Fear Factor.)

Did you know that while the swell can be going with you, the current can be fiercely against you? I knew that, but I'd never experienced it to this degree. At one hour, when we should have been at the buoy, we stopped to assess the situation. And while we could see the big red buoy, well, we weren't exactly close to it. OK, so this was going to be a longer swim than we originally anticipated. I tried to keep the negative thoughts out. Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.

So I put my head down and did my best to keep swimming. Problem with keeping my head down in todays crystal clear water is that I could see all the jellyfish we were swimming right over! They were everywhere. I got brushed by a couple but no serious stings. I don't think I've ever seen so many though. Try that sometime... swimming for over an hour in ocean water so deep that even though its crystal clear you can't see the bottom and knowing you were still probably 20 minutes from your turn around and the swells are throwing you all around and your arms have been numb for the last 15 minutes because the water isn't so warm today and then you see all the jellyfish right underneath you... Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.

We got to the turn around buoy in 1:21. Our kayakers gave us our GUs. I brought vanilla bean b/c I like that one and know what to expect with it. Nalani gets a bunch of free ones b/c she is sponsored by GU but lots of hers come in unmarked packaging... just silver packages that say 'new flavor'. It's always a wild guess at which one you'll get if you play GU Roulette like that. I laughed so hard while Nalani was trying to eat her silver mystery GU and she got slammed by a big wind swell wave just as she was swallowing. She came back up and said, "Mmmmmm. Gingerbread." Maybe you had to be there. But it was quite funny at the time.

Heading back we couldn't even hardly swim. All the big swells that carried us forward on the way out were now against us and it was just a ridiculous endeavor to try to swim through them. But somehow we did it. Nalani's dad (one of our kayakers) was having an even harder time than we were going back into the wind. For much of the way back, in fact, he was behind us because he couldn't get the kayak to go straight into the wind and swells. The good news (I mean, really good news) was that the current was very strongly with us coming back. So even though the chop on top made swimming very hard, if I could look and see the bottom of the ocean (at times I could) I saw that we were mooovin'! Man, how I wished that I didn't have to breathe and could just dive under and dolphin kick my way back. That would have been awesome. But as it was, we still made it back in 41 minutes! You do the math and figure out the strength of the current when it took twice as long to get out as it did to get back!?! Nutso, man.

We were all so pleased though getting out of the water today. So so so different than last time. My swimming endurance is just heads and tails above where it was last time we attempted this because I didn't even feel that tired at the end. Jennifer said it best when she said, "Well, THAT was a confidence building swim." No kidding. I think we all managed to stay relentlessly positive, we all felt strong at the end, and we all know that no mater what the ocean conditions are, we will be ready for the Double RoughWater Swim! 3 weeks! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dancing Queen

Random posts can be good, no? I hope so. Here's a bullet point one on Thanksgiving Eve...

~I went to pick up Moana from daycare today and when I walked in the door found the usual scene... Moana dressed up in some sort of princess outfit... of course wearing her pink sparkly 'dancing shoes' (the ones she insists on sleeping in now) and dancing around the living room floor. She was laughing and singing and just completely hamming it up. She's got some good moves, especially when you tell her to "shake it!" She insisted that another little girl there put on a dancing skirt too (even though Serena clearly was not interested). It actually was quite heartwarming when I asked Moana if she was ready to go and without even considering it she said, "No!" She just kept dancing.

~I asked Kirsten (day care lady) if she does this all day and she said, "Yep. Moana arrives every morning and first thing says, "Dress up, please?!?" And then she dances all day. Not a bad life, eh?

~Yesterday morning I was out running and trying to hit a tempo pace that should not have been hard. But it was hard. And my legs just felt sore. So weird- that my quads would actually be sore. From what?? I have not had a truly hard run workout in a very long time, so there was no reason for sore muscles like that. I tried to figure it out but came up with nothing. I finally just chalked it up to having an off day, quit the tempo early and jogged home. Well, it hit me about 15 minutes after I walked in the door. The flu. The kind that comes in like a lion and knocks you on your ass for the rest of the day. It was awful. I seriously went right back to bed and stayed there all day and night. The thought of food made me feel like I would puke. My head hurt and every muscle in my body ached horribly. I had a fever and chills... hot then shivering... It was one of the worst flus I've ever had. In good news, I had a gut feeling that it was only going to be a 24 hour thing. You know, when a virus comes on that fast and that violently, it usually goes away just as fast. Sure enough, this morning, about 10:00, I just felt it lift. Ahh. Achiness all gone. Phew. In bad news, I've felt pretty weak all day. Not surprising given that I didn't fuel myself at all yesterday. I did drink 2 bottles of Amino Vital (love that stuff) and took several e21 pills (love that stuff too). Though I guess as much as I love those products, they are not meant for sole survival, so today I paid the price.

~In good news, I did have a near normal appetite today so hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to normal. There's a 10+ mile Turkey Trot run tomorrow morning that I'm planning on doing. It's a cool concept- no one is allowed to wear a watch or pacing device of any kind. The winner is the person who comes closest to finishing in his/her predicted time. How well do you know pacing?? That's the name of the game tomorrow! Normally I would think I'd be pretty good at this, but given my lack of run training as of late, well, I may completely miss the mark! I've heard the course is 10.38 miles, and I'm thinking 'comfortably hard' should be like 8:10 pace... so that's what I'm going to shoot for (I think). We'll see how it goes. I'm thinking I want to run it at MP effort so it'll be interesting to see how fast that actually is right now. I don't feel like my calf is my limiter at all right now. It's the lack of training because of the calf set-back. And then the stupid virus I had yesterday. Grrr. So really, pulling off 8:10's tomorrow might be a small miracle.

~In other good news, I don't have to cook a turkey tomorrow. But we still get to eat one! We are going to Nalani's for the good dinner part tomorrow afternoon. Should be fun. I think Thanksgiving dinner should be with a good size group of people so we always look for people to join... Families in Hawaii are really good about that because there are so many people here who don't have any extended family at all. Friends become your extended family. It's cool. And Moana just loves going to Auntie's house.

Ok, that was enough randomness for now. I can hear Moana protesting bedtime pretty fiercely tonight so I'm gonna go help a hubby out. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running Running Running!

YAY!! OK, so I am feeling *super* happy right now... just finished another run and have no pain or tightness in my calf or achilles. I feel like doing a happy dance!

Yesterday I ran 10 miles with Nalani. We didn't push the pace at all... just ran and talked and it was all quite therapeutic. I've missed our long runs and the talks we have while running them. In the end, I was happy that I wasn't feeling any pain in my calf, but I was definitely feeling the distance and felt like my HR/effort was just way too high for the pace we were running. Felt like I was experiencing that HR decoupling effect that some coaches talk about when you're not really aerobically fit. That just sucks though. I mean, really? I'm not aerobically fit?? Give me a break! Even while I've been injured and not running much, I've been biking and swimming and doing specific strength stuff so I can't believe for a second that I should have been so winded at the end of that run yesterday. BUT, it is what it is and I'll take a winded 10 miler over no 10 miler any day.

And then it was the weirdest thing- for the rest of the day my calf just started feeling better and better. Those eccentric calf dips really work. And I've been stretching a ton and using the Trigger Point calf roller thing every night. So doing all the right stuff and four weeks later looks like I'm back in the game.

Today I went out and ran again- only an hour today but I threw in a little 20 minute tempo section where I ran MP-10. In good news, I can still nail pacing! In fact, I felt so good I thought briefly about extending the length of the tempo section... but then remembered that getting greedy is always what gets me trouble. So I was like, "Take your 20 minutes of tempo and go home uninjured, Michelle..." So that's what I did. It's amazing how I really have to fight that desire to do MORE FASTER HARDER. I won the battle with myself today though so score one for me for being smart.

Now I'm feeling a lot more confident about running the marathon. It's 3 weeks from today. So ideally, my big long weekend run would have been today... but I'm not living in an ideal world right now so I'm going to deal with the cards I've got, and that puts me doing my last (okay, only) long run next weekend. 2 weeks out. I think that's fine. I mean, it's not like I've been breaking myself down with 20 milers every weekend of this training block and need a full 3 week taper. I'm going to do a tempo 10 miler on Thanksgiving morning (Turkey Trot where I'll shoot for MP+10) and then hopefully an easy/aerobic 18-20 miler next Sunday. IF I get both of those runs in and feel no pain, I'm definitely IN for the marathon. That would make me super happy! I'll still have to reconsider my pacing goals for the marathon, but la la la I'm not thinking about that right now... I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks when the gun goes off.

In other good news, looks like tomorrow night is the big night! Michelle's Prime Time TV Appearance! Lol. The Fake Koko Crater Classic Triathlon is going to be on Hawaii Five-0 tomorrow night. I'm wearing a lime green top on the bike, which is likely the only place I might actually be on for a brief second, if at all. But I think I was the only one wearing green during the shooting, so if you see a lime green flash riding by, its definitely me. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Phew. Maui Wowie... I just spent the last two days working on Maui. I used to travel all the time for work (pre-family and pre-responsibility, lol) and enjoyed the heck out of it. It's been a while since I've had a chance to do something like this, so while I know it was hard for Scott to be a single dad for a day/night, secretly, I kind of enjoyed my little time away. Shhhhh.

It was a good trip and I was pleased with how successful I was on the work front. A couple of my best sales days for sure and well worth it to go over there.

Anyway, of course (like a good little triathlete) I did a bit of research before I went to find pool times and contact numbers for masters swim coaches, etc. Midday Thursday I placed a call to a guy who was listed as a masters coach there to get the scoop on swimming opportunities for last night and this morning. Our conversation started with something like this:

Me:  "Hi Malcom, My name is Michelle Simmons..."

Coach: "Oh hi, Michelle Simmons. You're from Kaneohe. I know your name."

Me: "What??"

I'm not actually that famous. Turns out this coach is also the USMS Coordinator or whatever for the state of Hawaii and just that morning he had been asked by the race director of the Double Roughwater Swim to confirm my USMS membership for 2010 to make sure I was eligible for the swim race next month. And apparently he has a good memory.

Anyway, he told me about a masters workout he was coaching last night upcountry. I was game for that so I told him I'd see him there.

Can I just tell you that it's COOOOOLD upcountry Maui at night! I was not planning on staying up there when I packed so I did not bring a sweatshirt or coat or anything warm at all. The pool was only up at about 1500 ft, but there was a gorgeous view as the sun went down over the ocean. That made up for the frigid temperatures (sort of), but it did not make up for the lack of oxygen I felt as I was doing flip turn after flip turn in this 25yd pool. I haven't swam in a scy pool in quite some time... it was just flip flip flip flip... I thought of Kerrie and others who live and train at altitude. No wonder Kerrie hates swimming. You can't breathe when you swim above sea level. My lungs were just completely burning... very different than sea level swimming. And I know I know. 1500ft is NOT that high. But it was still a problem.

Anyway, it was funny for me to swim with a new masters coach who did not know me. The main set was 900 yards. I was like, "Can I do that twice?" Ha! Part of the main set was 2 x 200's neg split. Malcom asked me, "Do you know what negative split means?" Again... ha! I was good though and just politely said, yes, I know what negative split means. He was really nice though and gave me some good stroke correction which I appreciated. Same stuff I've heard before, but he said it in a different way and took a little video on his iphone so I could see and it was quite helpful. He knew what he was talking about.

Toward the end of the workout he asked me who I swam with here on Oahu. When I told him that Brett Phillips was one of my training partners, he totally cracked up and told me that he grew up swimming with Brett. Small world. Such a crazy small world. Seems like everybody knows Brett. Of course then I posted on Brett's FB wall that I just swam with Malcom and Brett responded by telling me that Malcom was one of his favorite people. Nice.

Malcom also put me in touch with another big Maui swimmer who trains in the ocean all the time. I called her and we planned a 3.2 mile one way ocean swim for this morning. I was completely stoked to do this swim! What a great way to start my Friday!! Unfortunately it dumped rain all night last night so she cancelled at 5:45 this morning, saying that the run off from the rain would make the water all murky. Since the place we were gonna swim was known to be kinda sharky (Malcom told me about a 12 ft tiger they saw 2 weeks ago- it swam right under them!) she said it wasn't such a good idea to swim after rain like that. Bummer. But I made up for it by showing up at another pool that was open at 6:30AM and did my planned Friday workout by myself.

After I was done swimming this morning, the lifeguard approached me and we started chatting... I told him that I had been planning to swim with Janet in the ocean but we skipped it b/c of the rain... then he told me that Janet was one of his swimming partners and then went on to tell me about the 12 foot tiger they saw 2 weeks ago! I was like, "I know! Malcom told me about it last night!" Guess it's kind of a cool story after the fact. And given that it all turned out okay, I kinda wish I would have been there, because I love cool stories like that. Anyway, I just thought it was funny what a small world it is and how swimmers just know swimmers and there's this amazing common bond we have when you can just call up someone you don't even know and immediately be connected into the swimming hub of the island. Living in a small community where everybody knows everybody has its advantages for sure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What To Do?

So my calf has been getting better and I've been increasing my running a bit. YAY! On Sunday I went to the gym to run on the treadmill (the treadmill and the track are the only flat run options I've got). I wasn't sure how far I would get, but I placed an upper limit of 7 miles on myself and promised myself I would stop at the first sign of calf tightness.

I started easy for the first mile, then upped the pace a bit each mile. NO tightness. Awesome. Ended with the 7th mile at 8:00 pace just to see if I could run MP without tightness (a week ago I felt tightness after about 3 minutes at 8:13 pace so I stopped) and turns out I could! YAY!!!! I finished that run all sweaty and as happy as I'd felt in weeks. There's just something about a good run (especially when you haven't had one for a while) that leaves you with a satisfaction that is hard to otherwise match.

So I gave myself a day off from running yesterday and then hit it again this morning with Nalani. I went into it with a bit more confidence than I had on Sunday, though I still promised myself I would back off if I felt any pain or tightness in my calf. We went 9 miles this morning, with 2 x 2 miles at MP in the middle. The first 2 mile segment went just fine... easy jog for 5 minutes then hit it again. I made the second set, but I swear it was WAY harder than the first. WAY harder than MP pace should be less than 4 weeks out from the marathon. Of course that is not surprising given that I hadn't done any real training for 3 weeks...

Running home I was feeling such a mixture of emotions. On one hand, I was thrilled that I had just run a key workout like that. I started thinking that the marathon is back ON! But then I started thinking about my goals and about how hard it was to run MP for just 2 miles in the middle of a run that was only about 1/3 of the distance of the race... how would I possibly run the marathon I want without doing all the necessary training? I am not a natural runner who can just pop out miracles for 26 miles like some of you can... I believe I have it in me to run a good marathon, but I need to actually do the pre-requisite training to make it possible. But the thing is, I can't just jump right back into my previous MP plan because that would surely be a recipe for injury for my calf again... so what to do? What to do? I've only got a couple of weeks left...

Well obviously I can only do what my calf will allow me to do. So I have to be smart. After that run this morning my calf felt fatigued. I didn't re-injure it or anything, but it felt different than my left calf... So moving forward I have to listen to my body and obviously I have to proceed with more caution than I had previously. In all honesty, I am still not sure that I will be running the marathon. I just don't want to do it if I don't think I can run a good one. And 'good' at this point has been altered to 3:45ish instead of 3:30 given that I have missed such an important block of training... Anyway, I think my plan at this point is to do as much training as I safely can and see where that leaves me in a couple weeks. While I would like to run the marathon, I absolutely will not if I think I can't do it wihtout re-injuring myself. My goal of starting 2011 healthy is bigger to me than my goal of running the marathon on Dec 12. Though seriously, can't I do both? I hope so! But we will see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

e21 Triathlon Team!

Arcadian Nutraceuticals is the Australian company that produces Recovery e21 and the accompanying Joint Health product that I have been taking. Both are all natural products made up primarily out of micro-algae (e21) and green lipped mussel (Joint Health) and both have produced notable improvements in how I feel lately!

The products are rather new (Joint Health is brand new) and they are targeting triathletes as a primary market of athletes who will likely benefit. To that end, they are sponsoring a Triathlon Team for 2011 in an effort to get the word out about their products! The idea of course is brand name recognition and getting athletes to try it and see for themselves if they indeed feel the benefit.

I have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again on here in case you missed it last time. e21 is a product made up of Duniella Salina (500mg/tab) which is a soft celled microalgae cultivated in salt ponds in Western Australia. This microalgae has been compared to spirulina as a 'superfood' and is packed with nutrients and a full spectrum of electrolytes. I take 2 before and after (and sometimes in the middle!) of key workouts and races and it has eliminated my cramping issues and allowed me to recovery faster from hard efforts. I've been lucky in that I've gotten myself associated with this company early on so I have not had to pay for the tabs, but I tell you what... if they disbanded my sponsorship tomorrow I would start buying them because I really do believe they make a significant difference.

The joint health is the new product and this is what I know about it so far: My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore since I started taking it! What else do I need to know?? ;) Well, having done a little research to figure out why, it appears that green lipped mussel (from NZ) works as a natural anti-inflammatory, and when combined with glucosamine, it allows for better absorption of the glucosamine (which means you actually don't have to take as much of the glucosamine for it to work on your joints). Whatever. My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore!

If you're still reading, good for you! Here's a cool opportunity for you for 2011... Fill out the application to be on the Recovery e21 Tri Team. The plan is that you'll get the supplements at no cost as well as a tri-kit, some cycling gear, and a cute e21 splish suit! In return, they'd appreciate you helping to spread the word about their products by talking to your friends and mentioning your experience on your blog and/or Facebook... The team will be selected in 2 weeks. What are you waiting for??

Saturday, November 13, 2010

She Came. She Swam. She Kicked Our Asses.

So this morning we were hanging out under the coffee tent we set up at Ala Moana Beach Park... Chit chatting with friends and sipping on some excellent 100% Moloka'i (good thing it was so good and smooth and easy to drink that nobody even needed milk or sugar)... when Penny Palfrey walked up to say hello.

She came!

I was stoked to see her. How often do we get to race with super stars like her here?

The swim was hard. I forgot how hard it is to go all out for 30 minutes. Ouch! But it was good. The best part was giving Moana a high five as I ran up the beach to the timing mat! I ended up 13th OA, 6th female and 1st age group. My other swimmers who were there did amazing, really. Nalani was 4th female and 1st in her age group, and Jennifer was 7th female, also first in her age group (yep, she's 50... doesn't she look great? Healthy living will do that for you. Love that!)

And Andrew, who has just recently started swimming for real, showed major gains today coming out in 36 minutes, 4th in his age group! I was seriously impressed. He's come a long way in the last couple of months!

And, um, while I knew that Penny was obviously a good long distance swimmer, who knew she was also so fast?!? She crushed us all, coming out as the first female (at age 48) and beating all of the men save one. Yep, there was only one guy that didn't get chicked today. Love that! I was planning on gifting her a bag of coffee as a souvenir but didn't have to because she won a bag of our Maui as prize for her OA. Too bad I didn't have a bag of Kauai coffee for her. That's the one she probably wanted to take home as motivation to keep training and tackle that channel again...

After the swim the coffee went fast... people flocked to our tent and couldn't stop commenting on how good the coffee was. 6 gallons of the black gold disappeared within about an hour. Then the race director called Penny up for a little Q&A session regarding her Kauai Channel attempt while we were waiting for awards. The local swimmers were psyched to have the chance to fire questions at her.
I wanted to know how she trains for such long events. Seriously. What kind of training is involved in the preparation for a 72 mile channel swim? She said she does 60-80K/week, with a long swim of about 20K on the weekends. The ocean near where she lives isn't safe to really swim in (She said they've got 'crocs' in their water that they pretend aren't there, kinda like we do with sharks here... but apparently box jellyfish in Australia are more dangerous than box jellies here- they're serious down under and will kill you)  but she said they have a section of it shielded off somehow to make it safer so she does her long weekend ocean swims there. Yep. 20,000 meters, 6 hours, back and forth across a stretch of roped off ocean that is only 100 meters long. Every weekend. Can you even imagine? I thought I was doing a lot getting in 20K/week. She's doing that in a day. All of a sudden I feel so much less crazy.

Anyway, she did say that she will likely try the Kauai Channel again in March. Hopefully 3rd time is a charm for her. She was really cool. Very humble and didn't act like a celebrity even though we all treated her like one. And now Penny and I are like BFF's. Lol. OK, well were Facebook friends anyway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brewing The Coffee

Well, tomorrow morning is the Turkey Swim at Ala Moana Beach Park and Coffees of Hawaii is sponsoring the swim with brewed coffee for the swimmers/spectators and bags of coffee for the age group and overall winners. Sounded like such a good idea when the race director called me and asked if I would do it. YES! I replied. Count us in! Then I started to think about it and it hit me... wait, that means that I have to collect the brewers and the tent and the table and the cambros and the cups and get up in the middle of the night to brew all this coffee for everyone and get myself down to the park before the sun comes up to have it all set up... Lovely. At least I got a free entry into the swim so I'll get to race! Fair trade I guess.

Hope everybody likes their coffee black because I don't have any milk.

Funny thing (and somewhat related, keep reading)... yesterday I was out and about around town and ran into Penny Palfrey at a local cafe. You may not know Penny's story if you don't live here... she's a swimmer from Australia who has now twice attempted to swim the 76 mile channel between Oahu and Kauai. No one has ever done it before and she was hoping to be the first. She tried in March... made it about 30 miles and then got wrapped up in a massive swarm of man-o-war and had to bail on the swim. She came back to try again this past week. She was all over the news for her attempt at the crossing so some of us who cared followed her progress online.

Now, I've had some bad man-o-war stings before, but I've never seen anything like this.
Um, OUCH! Holy cow. I mean, seriously. This is what happened to her 17 miles into her 2nd attempt on Tuesday. Apparently this one on her face was the final straw.
I read her story on on Tuesday and felt bad for her, though seriously, attempting to swim 76 miles across a channel like that is just ridiculously insane.

So when I saw this woman walk into Kalapawai Cafe on Thursday with this giant scar across her forehead (Harry Potter style) I knew right away that it must have been her. I didn't want her to think that I was a crazy stalker, so I let her order her food before I approached her, but eventually I did go introduce myself. I think she was a bit taken aback because although I did not ask for her autograph, I did ask to get a picture with her. She didn't know she was such a celebrity. The funny part was when she was telling me parts of her story... that she's tried before in March (Yes! I know!)... and that she had to pull out b/c of the man-o-war (Yes! I know!)... that she is from Australia (Yes! I know!). Clearly the internet is an almost scary tool when someone like me can know so much about someone like her by spending just a couple of minutes on a particular website.
Anyway, I finished up my conversation with Penny by telling her I was sorry that she didn't make it across the epic 76 mile channel... I suggested that maybe as a consolation prize she could come race the 1.2 miles across Ala Moana and back tomorrow morning before she flies back to Australia. I assured her that man-o-war are very rarely (if ever?) present in this protected lagoon. She laughed of course and mentioned that 1.2 miles is a bit short for her, but that maybe she would come. I wonder if she'll actually show up tomorrow morning? She might. Wouldn't that be cool? I told her I'd give her a bag of coffee to take home with her if she did.