Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This is for Angela, who is about to bring her two year old, on a plane, from Chicago to Kona... for Ironman...

I actually meant to write this post a while back... right after we got home from our trip to Ohio... but that week after we got home was just crazy busy... then the week again was crazy busy... but when I got a message from Angela about how terrified she is of having to fly Zach such a long long long way, well, it prompted me to write up our experience flying Moana from Honolulu, overnight to Houston, then on to Cleveland... adjusting to a 6 hour time change... then flying her from Cleveland to Newark before boarding the mother of all flights... Newark to Honolulu. 12 hours in the air. Trapped in a small confined place. With a toddler who eventually was screaming at the top of her lungs, "I WANT OFF!!! I WANT OFF!!!"

Yes, Angela, this is for you. ;)

Ok, first I should say, Don't fret. I know I know. That thing about Moana yelling at the top of her lungs I WANT OFF, though true, wasn't as bad as it sounds when I write it. Or maybe (I was drunk) my memory is just bad. I think, really, what it was, was that after 11 hours on that plane, well, we ALL wanted off. We were just so over it by then, delirious really, that we didn't even care anymore if toddlers were screaming. Maybe I should modify that statement. I didn't care.

Wanna know what my secret was? Wine.

Let me go back to the beginning. The first flight, overnight to Houston, was quite empty. Nice. We could all spread out. Give Moana some space. I made the ASSumption that she would just sleep the whole time. I think that flight was like 8 hours. She typically sleeps at least 10 hours at night so I really thought this would be a no brainer leg.

It was not.

Moana slept for maybe 2 hours of that flight. Then she was AWAKE. And spent the other 6 hours using the plane as her personal jungle gym. It was all very exciting (for her). For us? Notsomuch. Nothing like pulling an all nighter on an airplane.

Next flight Houston to Cleveland. Could we be any more tired? Full flight. I'm squashed in the back of the plane near the window and Moana just completely crashed out on my lap the whole time. She was asleep before we took off and I had to wake her up after we landed. This sounds like a dream come true, except for 3 hours I could not move because I was trapped under the toddler. See, it would have been so nice and convenient if she would have slept on the leg where we all had adequate space... Wouldda, couldda, shouldda...

In good news, the adjustment to the 6 hour time change actually went pretty smoothly. Since Moana slept so little while we were traveling, and it was about 2PM when we landed (Ohio time), we just kept her awake and occupied (which was NOT hard, given the newness of grammy's house and those pink and purple tutus in the closet) until normal bedtime and she conked out at 7:00 and slept much of the night.

Moana is typically a good sleeper and sleeps like 10 hours at night and then 2-3 mid day... She pretty much got robbed of most of her mid day naps while we were in Ohio... I mean, she always got a chance to sleep a little but not as much as normal. She handled it well though and was a total trooper.

On to the flight home... I was REALLY hoping she would sleep on that first flight to Newark. It was right around noon I think so it was close to nap time. She was a complete squirmy worm though, on my lap again on a full flight... The last thing I wanted was for her to fall asleep in the last 15 minutes of the flight because I figured a nap that short would rob us of a longer nap later on the loooooooong flight ahead of us... but wouldn't you know it? Just as the pilot started his descent into Newark, she conked out on my lap.

And then the oddest thing happened... the plane landed, but she did not wake up. We pulled into the gate and everyone stood up around us. She did not wake up. Scott grabbed all our carry on bags (we were pushing our limit with these) and I stood up with a sleeping toddler in my arms. It was a miracle! She did not wake up. We did not have much time in the Newark airport between flights so we pretty much just got off one plane and got onto another one... and she did not wake up. We got settled into our new seats (a whole row of 3 this time!). She did not wake up. The plane took off. She did not wake up. We got served lunch. She did not wake up. Oh my. Is she dead? Nope. Still breathing. Just wiped out cold.

Not since she was a little baby have I been able to pull off a transfer like that with Moana. She *always* wakes up. So this was odd. But indeed, she managed to get her 3 hour nap in on 2 different planes and an airport transfer. That, my friends, is what they mean when they say, "Sleep like a baby."

So we were probably an hour and a half into our flight to Honolulu before she even opened her eyes. Nice, no?!? The problem here was that we still had TEN AND A HALF MORE HOURS TO FLY.

Angela will probably complete her Ironman in the remaining time we had on that plane.

In all honesty, I can't remember all that we did to entertain her during those hours, but I do remember one thing... accepting the juice the flight attendant gave us for her and putting it in her sippy cup. Big mistake. Big. HUGE.

Warning: Rant.

WHY DO THESE FREAKING COMPANIES PUT HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN ALL THEIR JUICES MEANT FOR KIDS?????? I normally steer completely clear of that stuff, especially when it comes to feeding Moana, but on this flight I didn't pack enough of our own food so we were reliant on what was served to us. I think that whoever is in charge of the decision to put that shit in juices and food for kids should have had to sit next to my squirmy worm child for 10 more hours on that flight while she wiggled and squirmed and screamed uncontrollably. I swear to you, when the flight attendant came by again and offered more juice I just about stood up and whacked her. Not that it was her fault. But I promise you, I have NEVER seen behavior like this from Moana and I just know it was all that HFCS she had.

I almost felt sorry for Moana because it seemed so clear to me that she couldn't even control her own squirminess. It was like she was possessed and just HAD to move. I was just beyond tired though by this point so instead of feeling sorry for her I just wanted to give her away to the highest bidder. Nah. Not even. I wanted to PAY someone to take her by that point.

Anyway, time for mommy and daddy to start drinking so we could relax. Amazing how much less you care that your kid is making a big scene when you're a little tipsy. I completely recommend this strategy.

So Moana FINALLY fell back asleep, after maybe like 8 hours of hell on a plane. I just kept telling her, "It's sleepy time..." and then we did everything we could to ignore her. (Which is hard when we're all so confined in such a little space.) Scott and I did not sleep though so we were both pretty freaking tired. But at least the squirmy worm was asleep. But now it's time for another RANT.


We weren't so lucky with Moana sleeping through that. Lights on = baby awake. But she wasn't ready to be awake. It was going on midnight Ohio time by now so even though the sun had not yet set in Hawaii, it was the middle of the night for all of us. This is when the most major of the whining fits happened.

"I WANT OFF!! I WANT OFF!!!!!!!"

Toddlers can yell REALLY LOUDLY when they want to.

Well guess what? We all wanted off. And guess what? If the flight attendants had not turned the lights on and pretended we were going to land when we still had close to an hour left, we all would have endured less of the screaming.

My brain must have blocked most of this out of my memory (for protection of the species??) because I honestly don't remember much about the end of that flight. Just that eventually it did end. And at some point we all stumbled off that plane and into the Land of Aloha, where we will remain for the foreseeable future.

So I just went back to re-read this post and I admit it doesn't sound all that uplifting or encouraging thing for Angela and Zach (and those other lucky folks who happen to be sitting near them on their flight to Hawaii). However, keep in mind the happy ending, which was that 1) Nobody died, and 2) Eventually the plane actually did land in paradise.

Finally, I will leave you with these tips:

~Drink wine early and often.
~Do NOT feed your child anything that contains HFCS (or now they're calling it 'Corn Sugar'- same thing).
~Bring a portable DVD player and a favorite blankie or stuffed animal.
~Drink more wine.

See you next week in Kona!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Fun Stuff

This was a really cool weekend for fun stuff!

The Blue Angels are in town... they've been buzzing our houses for the last few days in practice. If you didn't know what was going on, you might have thought it was the end of the world around here because of the incredibly loud noise those planes make. My neighbor told me that she dove under her table on Friday thinking that the planes were surely going to crash right into our building because they were flying so close.

They put on a real 'show' yesterday and today. It's really quite breath taking to watch these airplanes fly soclosetogether. This picture was taken by Mike yesterday. And thanks to FB I was able to steal it and repost it for you all.

Moana was pretty much scared to death of them for the first two days. But yesterday when we went out as a family to watch the actual show, she really got into it. As long as she was in my arms (her daddy's arms worked too), she was ok to watch... but if we tried to put her down she would grab our legs and whimper, "I scary!" Needless to say, my arms are tired. BUT, she did watch with amazement and would yell out, "OOOOOOH! LOOK AT THAT!!" and, "WOW! COOL!"

Moana and I sat on our lanai this afternoon during the show and waited for them to buzz our building again. They did in fact come really close. It was all good though. I actually like the way Moana grabs onto me and holds tight when she's scared. It's precious and rare to have such close interactions.

This morning we went out on a boat to the sandbar with some friends... There's a low spot out maybe a mile off the coast of our little town and people get together there every weekend to hang out and drink and float around and chill with friends. We should probably do this more often... but typically it's a once a year thing for us.

Last year when we took Moana she was too little to really enjoy it. But this year, she totally had a blast!

So today was a rare rest day for us. It doesn't happen all that often that we take a complete day off (doesn't an easy swim count as a day off? Lol) But today was a real one. No training. Nada. Nothing. Nalani shows us the real meaning of 'put your feet up'...

(What you don't see in that picture was the mai tai... or the sangria... no matter that it was 9AM.)

Coming back to shore we saw a gorgeous view of Windward Oahu. This is what my town looks like from the ocean. We don't get to see it from this angle very often, but man, it's stunning. Lucky we live Hawaii.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

With A Little Perspective I Probably Won't Think It Was THAT Bad

I have to laugh when I think about Karen's comment immediately after the 25K this morning... "Well that was a nice way to ruin my weekend." Ha!

Unfortunately I did not have the run I wanted this morning (obviously, neither did Karen). I have not felt super all week and while I was hopeful that I would be able to pull of my 8 min miles again, I think deep down I knew that my body just might not be up for it today.

I won't go into great detail, but here are a few bullet points:

~At mile 3 when my HR was already 177 (like 15 beats above where it should have been) and I was only running 8:15's, I ripped off my HR monitor.

~I really think that miles in Kailua are longer than miles in Kalaeloa.

~They really should put aid stations more often than every 3 miles when it's that hot out.

~The downhill you get after an uphill does not cancel out the slowness of the mile.

~Running into a stiff headwind when you're trying to hit a specific split is just not fun.

~15 miles is a long way to run when you're dying.

Look how good I am at pretending I feel great when there is a camera around!?! Of course, this was only like mile 9. Notice the HR monitor strapped around my belly button?

Driving home, Nalani and I were discussing our disappointment with our performances in this race. It's amazing how our perspectives and expectations change over time... If I step back and look at the big picture, I see that I averaged 8:16's for 15 hot hilly windy miles today. I was 115th OA (out of like 800+ I think) and 4th in my age group. That is not terrible. A year ago I would have been over-the-moon-THRILLED with that! Yet somehow I am not the least bit satisfied with that performance today. I probably should not be so hard on myself, but this was NOT a confidence booster for the marathon.

So instead of focusing on the negative, I'm going to think about the positive. 15 miles at 8:15 pace is a solid marathon training run. I've never run 15 miles at a pace like that before, so it's a PR. I get tomorrow completely off. No training whatsoever. 4 more weeks before the 30K which is good... I can actually do some long easy training runs in the meantime.

From this picture, you'd never know that we had all just been through hell.

Oh my poor aching legs!

At least *somebody* had a good day today. Andrew found a new gear today! Must be magic in that singlet. Lol.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Courage To Quit

I am not 25 anymore.

I think I've started a couple of recent blog posts with this realization. It must really be hitting home these days!

While I don't believe I have hit the inevitable 'slowing down with age' threshold yet, I have definitely hit the 'need more recovery time after races and very hard workouts' threshold. Specifically, when you race to your limit two weeks in a row after the age of 35, well, it takes a little while to fully bounce back from that.

In good news, I am paying attention and listening to my body and its messages better than ever before. I think a key factor in my ability to do this has been reading Matt Fitzgerald's books about training and organizing key workouts and listening to your body to know when to modify them.

Specifically, I'll give you an example from our track workout yesterday. 3 x 2 miles at 1/2 marathon pace with 2 min recovery. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to run 6 miles at the pace you can handle for 13.1 miles, but this workout is pretty darn hard. We nailed the first 2 miles without much issue. And 2 minutes seemed like plenty of rest. Next 2 miles were harder but still doable and we came in just a few seconds under goal pace. Perfect. 2 minutes rest went by quite a bit quicker this time. 1200M into the final 2 mile interval I felt the piano fall on my back. My breathing increased past the point of panting to nearly hyperventilating. 5 more laps to go at this effort? It was going to take some serious digging to accomplish goal pace now. I ran the next 400 at what felt like a very hard effort but was off the pace. And I quit the interval right then and there. That was enough for today.

Last year I do not think I would have had the courage to leave that workout incomplete. It would have felt like quitting to me and I would have felt like a wimp. But yesterday it was the absolute smartest thing I could have done. I "went to the well" two weekends in a row racing, and going to the well again on this track workout was just going to leave me thirsty... because guess what? The well was empty. The best thing I could have done for myself and my December marathon was to stop that workout before I dug myself a deeper hole. So I listened. I had the courage to quit. And I don't feel like a wimp. I feel like a smart athlete. I know that in a few weeks my body will be back to normal and I'll be able to nail these longer training days again. I know that. So that is why I am not worried about the fact that I couldn't finish that workout.

Now don't get me wrong- I am NOT advocating quitting a workout every time it gets hard and starts to hurt. But there is a difference between wimping out and being smart. And for those of us who are overachievers and typically lean toward more/harder/faster is better, well, sometimes we need to know that it's not.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Season

I'm still not done being happy about my race at Cedar Point, but at the same time, I am happy as hell that I didn't ride my bike today! I was planning on leaving it in its box to rest until Christmas, but Scott apparently decided to clean the house while I was swimming this AM (I know!?!!! What a nice pleasant surprise!) and unpacked it for me as a favor. How nice of him. It's still just going to sit in the corner and rest until Christmas.

It feels like a new season already. It rained on us while we were running this morning. The clouds hung around for the swim too. It's windy and cold (I know, zip it. It's cold *for us*) and we wore our fleece post ocean swim. It kind of feels like I should be making soup or stew or something. I think going forward I'm going to make these Saturday morning ocean swims sponsored by Coffees of Hawaii and bring a big airpot full of hot coffee for post swim. That sounds like a fun Saturday routine, doesn't it?

Anyway, I do feel like some sort of seismic shift has occurred. It's mostly in my head of course. But to have several months coming up where I do not train at all for triathlons, well, that's a pretty big shift for me. I'm super excited about it though!

It's not like I won't be training of course. It's just a change in focus. Run run run... Swim. Run run run some more. Then swim a bit more too. 11 weeks til the Honolulu Marathon. I didn't do much at all this week, mostly b/c I didn't have time because work took up a much bigger chunk of each day than normal, though I know a down week was indicated after the last 2 weekends of racing. My head wants back in the game now but my legs are still feeling the effects of the thrashings I handed them 2 weekends in a row. I actually still had a bit of soreness in my quads on my run this morning, which indicates that I shredded the heck out of my muscles last weekend (I knew this was occurring toward the end of the run- it was bad). So I'm going to wait until the soreness is completely gone before I do any key workouts. Of course, the 25K is next Saturday and 15+ miles at MP is no insignificant thing...

Taking bike training out of my equation frees up about 6-8 hours each week, which is really good news for the state of my house. It might finally get clean again? I know I should hire someone to do this for me but I have just not even had the desire to look for someone. So until then, my friends, I'm going to go unload the dishwasher and then fold the third load of laundry today. And then, gasp, I'm going to clean my desk. Seismic, indeed. I wonder what I'll find in those huge stacks of paper??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Princess Chariot

Crazy week this week. My true self sort of wants/needs to vent and complain right now, but I am not going to make this whole post a big huge moan... suffice to say that if my work always required me to be physically present somewhere at 6:30AM, until 4:00PM, I would not likely continue. After this week, I will appreciate even further my ability to typically work from home on my own schedule (which really just means that when I don't have an hour or so to work out in the mornings my day is just not the same. Yes. I am an addict. Sue me.)

Instead I'll tell you about how Moana is completely attached to her new tutus that Grammy gave her last week... I didn't see her this morning (because, um, I had to go to work at 6AM and didn't come home until time to pick her up from day care but I said I wasn't going to complain about that) but when I arrived to pick her up from day care today I saw that she was still wearing her little pink tutu over her normal t-shirt/shorts. I was told that she would NOT take it off all day. She napped in it. It even stayed on as she got her diaper changed. Sweet.

I know those of you who have boys are thanking your lucky stars that you won't have to deal with tutus and princess shoes with feathers and tiaras and all that... I swear, this girlie stuff is just engrained in Moana's DNA or something because I am *not* teaching her to be a princess. I do not know where she gets it? It's got to be some sort of instinct. Maybe she'll grow out of it? Mama can hope! ;)

The funny part was that I ran the empty baby jogger down to get her and then ran her home... I swear it was like the princess boarding her chariot as Moana climbed in for the ride. I really should have gotten a picture. Pictures of this stuff will be classic (and necessary!) later on in her life when she is a pro surfer or some other bad-a$$ athlete chick and I'll hold these 'dancing in a tutu' pictures over her head... threatening to show them to the world if she doesn't stop seeing that loser guy or something. Ha!

So I don't have a picture of that, but Steve In A Speedo did get a cool shot of me finishing Rev3 on Sunday that he posted on FB. Check it out. I look happy! I did not have to force the hands in the air/smile at this race like I had to at my two previous half ironmans this year. :)

I love bloggers who post pictures of races. It's so fun to read blogs of people who were at the same race as you and see their pictures. Kim posted this one of the swim start. Check it out, looks like I'm actually running into that cold water with my game face on! :)

I'm not done being happy about my race at Cedar Point, so that's good! But when does it end, you know? When can we finally just kick back and say, "I achieved my goal so now I'm done?" I'm now pretty convinced that I could knock out a 4:50 with the right training on the right day on the right course... it's this whole thing about never being satisfied I guess. There will always be another bigger/faster goal on the horizon I guess. Well, maybe not always. I think at some point age will catch up with me and I'll start getting slower. But I digress.

Back to Cedar Point. I think it's super cool that Beth won the OA. And that Kim was 2nd. On the run it occurred to me that my blogger friends and I were 3 of the top 4 gals in that race. How fun! And who knows, maybe the others are bloggers too who I just not have happened to read? So I'll end this blog post on a happier note than the one I started on... bloggers are cool.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rev3 Cedar Point, Or, The Day Mama Ran Herself Into A Win

Well well... I have so much to say but in the interest of finishing this post sometime today I'm going to have to leave some of it out. In fact, bullet points may be best here.

~Scott and I met up with some of the Trakkers folks on Friday at thee expo... we got to talk with the head guy from First Endurance nutrition... I love their stuff and they have been a sponsor of Trakkers all year. It was great to throw a bunch of questions at Robert and I feel like I understand their products even better now. Good stuff.

~Then we hit the rides. We had a BLAST at Cedar Point! How often does it happen that you have an amusement park like this to yourselves with NO LINES on any of the rollercoasters? I haven't been on a rollercoaster since senior prom and let me tell you... it was THRILLING! Nutso. Crazy. Jaw dropping. Stomach turning. Fast. FUN. I felt dizzy and lightheaded and all out of whack for several hours after those rides.

~The day before the race was, well, a mess. I felt completely pulled in 100 directions because family members came from all over to see us and play in the park and my athlete/friend Scott drove up from Louisville and I just felt like I was taking care of everyone's needs but my own. And true story... my pre-race dinner was at Perkins. I know. Food options at an amusement park are not even in the ballpark of what I would have preferred to eat, but since I didn't pack my own food and I was trying to keep a group of 10+ happy and together, well, Perkins it was.

~Race morning I was cold and it was windy and I was not happy. It didn't feel as cold and windy as Saturday morning, but it was still too cold and windy for my liking. I felt nauseous and like I needed to find a port-a-potty but I already had my wetsuit on and there was not anywhere to go nearby so I just crossed my fingers that the need would pass. My desire to get into Lake Erie was ZERO.

~I did not warm up at all. Some people got in the water pre-race, but I didn't even stick a toe in before the horn went off. Not ideal I know, but I was shivering and being wet while standing on the beach was just not a position I wanted to be in. I did jump up and down a bit on the beach to get my HR up, but that's it.

~The horn went off and we had to dolphin dive for like 50 meters before the water got deep enough to swim in. For the record, I prefer swimming over dolphin diving. I watched a gal dolphin dive her heart out and she got a huge lead on me in the first 10 seconds and then was gone. I spent the first few minutes of the swim trying to warm up so I just did my thing and wondered if I would see her later? I don't feel like I had a stellar swim but it was fine. By about half way I started feeling strong and smooth, even though the water got choppy. I remember thinking, "I bet other people think this is really choppy..." But I felt completely at home. I was catching lots of men from the waves ahead of us so had to do a bit of dodging so I wouldn't get kicked in the head but all in all it was fine. More dolphin diving at the end and again not fun. I swam as far as I could in before starting the diving part.

~There were no official wetsuit strippers but I totally ran up to the volunteers in the women's change tent and asked them to pull my wetsuit off. My family members watching my transition were like, "Why is she laying on the ground??" but it was all part of my plan. I hate trying to yank my own wetsuit off. My hip flexors always cramp.

~I felt like I fumbled around a lot in T1. My fingers were cold so they didn't work and I tried having my shoes clipped in to my pedals already and while I got my feet in my shoes eventually, I'm not sure that way is actually faster for me?

~I was really cold starting the bike and the pavement was crappy and I was not feeling great. About 15 minutes into the bike, Beth rode by me. That was just what I needed to get my head back in the game. I tied an imaginary 7 meter rope around her and went along for the ride.

~I felt like most of the ride I was completely legal behind Beth. On the little rolling hills I was riding a bit more aggressively than she was so I would end up in her space, but then would back off and get back in my space. I guess technically once I was in her space I should have passed her, and I did that once, but for the most part I liked her pace on the flats and downhills so I didn't bother. While I definitely had a mental advantage of not having to think about pace/effort (Beth is stellar at that, as I knew she would be) I don't feel like I had a physical drafting advantage. The official disagreed though. I didn't know it until the end of the race because they didn't tell me at the time, but apparently the official gave me a drafting penalty. My first one. Ever. I'm still not sure how I feel about that? I don't think it was a fair call, but it is what it is.

~I had to pee SO BAD by the end of the bike. I'd only had 2 bottles of fluids (not even 1/3 of what I would have had on a hot course) but clearly it was enough if I had to pee that bad. Unfortunately there were no downhills to coast on to let it go... I stopped pedaling some and peed a little bit, but I didn't want to come to a complete stop to finish the job. Peeing while riding on a flat road is a challenge indeed. I didn't get it all out.

~I started the run as 3rd OA female... Beth was still in my sight, though she did pick up some time on me at the end of the bike while I was not pedaling and trying to pee. About 1/2 mile into the run I was still dying to pee but didn't want to waste a lot of time doing it. Then, the best sight all day... a nice grassy hill about 1/2 mile into the run. I sat down on the hill, pretended to stretch, and watered the grass with my urine at the same time. Ahhhh. Relief!

~I still got to mile 1 in 8:20, even with my pee stop. Sweet. I wanted to hang onto 8's as long as I could, though realistically I figured 8:10's would be more like it. The first 3 miles were very steady and right on pace.

~As is typical for me, I was on the verge of cramping from the start of the run. I brought some magic micro-algae pills with me and swallowed 2 early on. A few minutes later the crampy twinges were GONE. Perfect. By mile 4 I was feeling really quite solid. 7:45! Nice. I felt really good. I'd been passed by 2 women already so figured I was in 5th pace OA, and I knew that at least 3 of the gals aheadof me were 30-34 (that is such a faaaast age group!). Wasn't sure about the other one b/c she'd been ahead all day and I hadn't seen her.

~At mile 5 I saw a gal up ahead of me. She wasn't running very fast. I actually figured she was just out for a training run or on the course to cheer someone on... but as I neared her, I saw a faded 35 written on her calf. Really? This must have been the gal who led the swim and the bike. And now, I was passing her. I kind of felt bad because I know exactly how she must have felt... I have been there... winning going onto the run only to have a bunch of gals pass you early on... She went from 1st to 5th in 5 miles on the run. But now, I was in 4th! I felt like a runner. And popped off a 7:48 next mile.

~More twinges of cramps around mile 6... more Recovery e21 pills... twinges gone again. I love that stuff.

~I did start to hurt a lot in the last few miles. I was still hanging on to 4th OA... I was timing myself so I knew I was going to break 5 hours, even if I did 10 min miles the last few miles I would still break 5... so I kind of felt like it was goal accomplished... but I still had a few miles to go. And it was straight. into. the. wind. Really stiff hard blowing wind. I felt like I was running straight uphill. I walked. I was hurting. My mantra had gone from "I'm a rockstar!" to "You're faster than you think!" to "Everyone hurts at mile 9 of a half ironman marathon" to "Hold it together" to "Oh please oh please just put one foot in front of the other and get to that darn finish line..."

~I crossed the finish line without any other women passing me... 4th OA! And my watch said 4:56:00! That is a major PR for me. I had my arms in the air and a HUGE smile on my face as I finished. Scott and Moana and my mom were all there at the finish, as was my athlete Scott. I just wanted to sit down. Moana just wanted my medal.

~Later I saw my results online. I don't know how they came up with 5:01? Even with a 4 min penalty I should have been 5:00 flat. I started my watch when the gun went off, got my splits accurately, and stopped it when I crossed the line. So I'm claiming my 4:56:00. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

~For the record, I am a swimmer. But somehow I came out of the water 3rd in my age group, moved up a place on the bike, and then moved up another place on the run. That is just so weird to me I don't even know how to wrap my head around it.

~I should be really sore today. I mean, really sore. Like, hit by a mack truck sore. I thrashed myself yesterday during that race. But I really don't feel that bad. That has been my story for the past 2 weeks since I've started taking that e21 stuff. I know I'm kind of harping on this stuff but I swear it's the most black and white difference between taking it and not taking it and how I feel while training/racing and then afterward as well. I'll tell you that I have been in contact with the maker of the product (great guys out of Australia) and have scored myself a working relationship with them. This is good for you guys because if you want to order it online you can use promo code 'mamasimmons' and get 20% off. For the record, I contacted them about this (they didn't contact me) because I was so incredibly amazed at how well the product worked. It's a new product I wanted to help them promote it.

~I am going to pack my bike in its bike box to fly home tomorrow and then it is gonig to stay there until Christmas. 12 weeks until the Honolulu Marathon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Well, THAT Was Different...

Finished the Rev3 Half swim today 3rd in my age group.

Finished the bike in second.

The, get this, I ran the gal down... the one who swam faster than my 29 and biked faster than my 2:34... yes, I caught her at mile 5 of the run. Holy smokes. What a crazy role reversal. I have never done that before. But you know what? I kinda liked it.

Mama's learning how to run. :)

Full report coming soon... Stay tuned.

Friday, September 10, 2010


We made it to Ohio! It was (thankfully) the most uneventful travel I have experienced all year. And kudos to Continental Airlines for providing pillow and blankets for an overnight flight... and a decent meal that they didn't nickel and dime us for. Moana did as well as could be expected for such a long journey. She didn't sleep much at all on the overnight flight, but was aleep before we took off on the second flight and we had to wake her after the wheels touched down in Cleveland. That was a full flight so I'm sure everyone around us was relieved that she finally slept.

Grammy has been having a grand old time entertaining Moana. As soon as we got here she had Moana dressed in a tutu and a crown and earrings and purple shoes with feathers. Moana was in heaven dancing all around the room in her spiffy outfit and checking herself out in the mirror. (Check out FB for pictures!) It was incredibly cute. Well, it was cute anyway until somebody had to take her OUT of the tutu for bathtime... Can you say tantrum? Oh my.

Moana slept 14 hours last night... we slept for almost 12... much needed and now we're pretty much adjusted to the 6 hour time change. I managed a short ride/run this morning just trying to stretch my legs out. Um, it's cold here. It's not even 70!?!? I'm glad I am not doing the Full Distance Rev3 on Sunday. Too cold. I think I'll even be shivering doing the half. In good news, the half ironman waves don't go off until 8:30 AM so we won't be quite as cold as we would have been... I'm not feeling super confident right now about my ability to put together a fast bike ride on Sunday (when my teeth will surely be chattering), but I do think I've got a PR run in me right now. 60 degrees will be helpful when it comes to that. So we'll see. I'm a bit worried about figuring out my hydration needs when it's cold like this. I'm just not used to training/racing in anything under 78-80 degrees- I know what to drink in those conditions. Here, I don't feel the urge to drink so I hope that I can get in enough... but I won't be able to just do my normal thing because I think that would be too much? Anyway, I'm going to have to find some GRRRRRRR in me because I'm just not feeling it right now. Maybe knowing that Beth will be out there racing too will bring out my GRRRRRR? (In a good way, Beth!) ;)

In a few hours we're going to drive over to Cedar Point... tonight we'll spend time at the park riding roller coasters (!!!) and meeting my Trakkers Teammates. I don't know that I've actually met any of them yet? And it's kind of late in the season to do that, especially given that I will not be on this team again next year... but I plan on having fun with them this weekend. I'll be racing in bright green on Sunday and I think that will be perfect b/c there will be a bunch of us out there. I'm thinking that will translate into lots of animated cheering from people I don't know. Maybe that will help me find my GRRRRRRRRRR.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Waikiki RoughWater Swim

I'm not 25 anymore.

You know, when I was 25 I could get up in the morning (unless I'd been out drinking the night before I guess) and feel all spry and chipper because whatever I did the day before didn't have much of an effect on me. Ahhh... to be young...

I woke up this morning and it was crystal clear that I'm too old to feel good while racing 3 days in a row. Well, not really, because I did still get up and race, and I did fine, but I really am still not 25 anymore.

Waikiki Roughwater was this morning... it's the biggest swim race we have all year. 2.4 miles in the ocean.

Some years it's fast b/c we have a nice tail current. Sometimes it's crazy slow and swimmers get pulled out of the water because the head current is so strong it's literally impossible to swim against it. This morning there was just a little minor head current so not too bad. Water was flat and calm and warm and clear so there really wasn't much to complain about.

I will say though, there were people from 23 countries there this morning... and from all over the US... It's split into 4 waves based on predicted time. I got put in the first (fast) wave, which I was happy about until I arrived at the race and heard some guys (who I know to be much faster than me) talking about how intimidated they were to be in the fast wave because all these long distance champions from all over the world were there and they knew they wouldn't be able to keep up.

Ok, if THEY are intimidated, clearly I should be too. Oh boy.

So I spent the hour before the race feeling nauseous with anticipation of how badly I was going to get my butt kicked in this swim... I warmed up and felt totally sluggish. You know, I'm only a decent swimmer when you compare me to triathletes... I'm not really a good swimmer when you compare me to real swimmers. I am completely outclassed here. Might I be the very last pink cap to finish? Why do I have these terrible negative thoughts before every race lately??

SHUT UP, Brain.

The horn sounded and we all ran into the water. I started way off to the side, as far as I could while staying in the channel so I wouldn't land on reef (low tide means exposed reef and it's hard to swim when there's no water). I was totally intimidated by these swimmers and oddly enough, instead of busting my ass to sprint to get with the fastest group possible (like I usually try to do), I kind of chilled out and just started at a solid steady pace. I found myself behind some people who were not faster than me, which I was surprised about because wasn't everyone in this wave going to kick my butt?
Anyway, I can't say I'm impressed with the effort I gave over the first half of this race, but somewhere in the middle the Michelle I know came out to play and I turned on the gas. I worked the second half of the swim solidly, but I still figured that all my age group competition was way ahead of me so was somewhat disappointed when I got out of the water, especially when I saw 1:01 on the clock. But then I looked around on the beach and didn't see some girls I was looking for so I got a glimmer of hope that maybe my swim wasn't as slow as I thought. Sure enough, I saw them run up on the beach after I was out. Hmmm. Maybe I placed in my age group after all? Checking the results, I saw that some super fast gal from Beverly Hills crushed us all, but I was second. Nice. I'll take it! Funny, but I really only compare myself in swim races to girls I know, so the fact that I actually (surprisingly) beat Jana and Anna today felt good. They've been beating me most of the summer so this was a nice 'win', even if it wasn't an actual win.

Scott and Moana came down to the swim this morning too. Moana had a blast playing in the sand and the water after we started...

Then she and Scott went to the zoo where she was enthralled with the elephants...
Then Nalani and her husband and I came back after swimming and we grilled pancakes and drank coffee at the beach.
So it was a super fun day! Next up? REST.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Creating Confidence

This morning was the Marathon Readiness Series 20K run. It was another chance for me to practice running marathon pace, this time for 12.4 miles instead of 9.3. So again, I was shooting for 8:00/mile. I've never run 12+ miles in a row at 8:00 pace before, but I thought maybe I could do it today if I felt ok.

My biggest challenge was probably the fact that I got back from The Maui Channel Swim last night at about 8PM and Nalani was coming to pick me up at 4:30 this morning... That swim was crazy... it took our team a lot longer than I thought it would to cross the channel b/c the conditions posed a bigger challenge than any of us anticipated. I was exhausted by the time I got home last night. (To put it mildly.) That swim deserves it's own blog post for sure so I'll get to that later this week after I muster up the motivation to download the videos. :)

Back to this morning! Nalani and I learned our lesson from a couple weeks ago and got a decent warm up in this morning. I wore my HR monitor again, more for gathering data than anything else... so while I was paying attention to it, I wasn't letting it dictate anything.

The gun went off and right away, in typical race fashion, everyone just took off... and Nalani and I kind of went with them. My breathing felt sort of labored right away. Within 4 minutes I noticed that my HR was 15 beats higher than it was during the first mile of the 15K. Hmmm. I thought I was IN FOR IT today. All sorts of excuses came into my head... That Channel Swim took way more out of me than I'd anticipated... I didn't eat right the last few days b/c I had been traveling... blah blah blah. It seems I'm creating a pattern here of making up excuses in mile 1 of running races.

SHUT UP, Brain.

Mile 1: 7:23.

Duh. Ok, well that certainly explains the heart rate. And the breathing. Clearly Nalani and I don't have a clue how to run 8:00 pace. At the 15K we went out too slow. Today we went out too fast. Ugh. Maybe at the 25K in a couple of weeks we'll get it juuuust right.

So we backed off a bit in mile 2, brought it back to 8:03. Hmmmm. Didn't feel like we slowed down THAT much. My HR certainly didn't come down much anyway. Only a few beats. Next mile 7:32. Hmmm. Didn't feel like we picked it up THAT much. Maybe these mile markers are off? Mile 4, 8:32. Ok. Yep. Mile markers DEFINITELY off. I felt like I was running very steady 7:40-7:50 range and my HR indicated that was also the case, but these mile markers were so screwed up. I actually got kind of irritated at this point... I mean, how hard it is to place the mile marker cones at the right spot? And why bother putting mile markers on the course if they're not going to be accurate??

So here I was, about 1/3 of the way into this 20K, knowing that I couldn't depend on mile markers for pace. I was already screwed as far as keeping my HR under control b/c we'd just started too fast. Even if I backed way the heck off at this point my HR would still be elevated for the rest of the race, so I felt like my only choice was just to go by perceived exertion and get my total time at the end. I figured I'd just run 'comfortably hard' and see how long I could hang next to Nalani.

That's pretty much how the rest of the run went. I ran comfortably hard for the next 4 miles, then the same/similar pace became uncomfortably hard, but I hung onto it. I continued to hit the 'split' on my watch at each mile marker, but I'm positive they were off. The last 8 miles ranged from 7:12 to 7:58 pace according to the markers, but the course was pretty flat and we ran super steady the whole time so those just don't make sense to me. I mean, I'm pretty sure I didn't pull off a 7:12 in mile 11. Please.

My heart rate indicated that I'd worked a lot harder in this race than I did in the 15K, but I still finished feeling strong, right next to Nalani. So that was really best case scenario! Our avg pace for the day was 7:46, (better than I'd hoped for), though I don't feel confident about my ability to hang onto that pace for another 14 miles. But in good news, I wouldn't have to to reach my goal for the marathon! And also in good news, I've got 12 more weeks of specific marathon training coming up (after Rev3 next weekend!) so I wouldn't expect to feel like I could nail my goal race right now. That's why we train, right? ;)

Lessons learned from this race: My pre-race breakfast was perfect. Coffee was awesome, necessary, and goes down just fine at 4:00AM. Longer warm ups are good. I really should pay more attention to my heart rate in the first few miles of a race if I want to hit the right pace. Take your pace indicated by mile markers with a grain of salt. I can run uncomfortably hard for longer than I thought. I love running races because I compete only with myself. (Truly, I don't care about what anybody else in the race is doing.) My training is working. Being sick and out of commission for 9 days did not cause my fitness to evaporate overnight like I feared it would. These Marathon Readiness races are awesome for creating confidence in race pace and effort. I'm faster than I think.

Oh, and swimming from Lanai to Maui the day before is not an excuse for anything.

Next up: Waikiki Roughwater 2.4 mile ocean swim tomorrow morning. This has been a huge weekend and it's not over yet... :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Suits Are Here!

Our local cycling community here was shocked to receive an email this afternoon stating that our biggest cycling race of the year, the 112 mile road race around the island, the one that was scheduled to happen in 4 days, was cancelled.

Lots of people, including me, are pretty bummed out about that.

I've been looking forward to this race all summer... I spent A LOT more time climbing hills on my road bike than riding flat and aero on my TT bike in preparation for this race... I was mentally and physically pretty geared up for a good one. So it's weird to just have it yanked out from underneath me.

I'm not one to dwell on the negative though, so I'm looking at the positives. Now I can do the Marathon Readiness Series 20K on Sunday instead. I won't be quite as thrashed for the 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Monday. And I'll likely have a better race at Rev 3 Half IM at Cedar Point next Sunday if I don't give an all out effort for 112 miles the week before. But the 112 mile road race was the one I wanted.

Oh well. Focus on what we can control, right?

The explanation we were given (ok, we weren't given an explanation, emails just started flying) was that the police decided they didn't want to work on Sunday to close some intersections as the lead groups were coming through. Who knows what the real reason is?

Moving on to more positive topics... The suits arrived today!

I've been bugging the owner of Coffees of Hawaii all summer to get these suits made... he eventually agreed to let me do it so I got the artwork to Splish and ta-dah! We finally have them! Now my home has become a little mini distribution center trying to figure out who has paid and what size they want and packaging some to mail out while setting others aside to hand deliver... Moana was a big help in this effort. She got home from day care this afternoon and saw the box and said, "OOOOOOH! Bathing suits!!" She immediately wanted to help me start sorting them.

She handled them very carefully.

And she was meticulous about inspecting for quality control.

Anyway, I don't have any extra suits at this point, but if you want one, stay tuned because we'll be placing another order to sell in Kona next month. So if you want one, let me know and I'll mark it down and be sure to save one from that order for you. :)

The first place I'll get to wear my suit is in Maui this weekend... I'm headed over there on Friday morning to swim the Maui Channel as part of a relay on Sunday! (9+ mile channel between Lanai and Maui.) My whole team is going to be outfitted in COH suits and we'll be flying a COH flag on our boat and of course I'm going to brew a bunch of great coffee for us to drink while we're hanging out on the boat between legs. I don't think my team is going to be super competitive... just out to do it for fun... which is right in line with my mindset about this 'race'. I'll be sure to post lots of good pictures on FB of us hanging out on the boat in our cool suits drinking great coffee and taking turns swimming in crystal clear warm water between Hawaiian Islands. It's a tough life.

This Channel swim is actually kind of a big deal. I've heard there will be some former Olympians there... This year there are 53 teams entered and 20 swimmers will do it solo. One of the solo swimmers is my athlete, Jennifer. She contacted me to coach her through this about 5 months ago so we've been working together since the spring. She's swimming this to celebrate her 50th birthday (she does NOT look 50!) and is swimming really well right now! She's done a lot of hard work (um, 6 x 1000's descend 1-6 was one of her staple workouts... along with several 3 hour ocean swims... yep). She is ready.

If you're bored at work and want a little Hawaiian swimming motivation, here's a 4 minute video someone posted on You Tube a couple years ago. Watching it got me excited anyway!