Monday, September 30, 2013

Fourth Time's a Charm

Well, registration for the Pittsburgh Marathon opens tomorrow.

My first: Livestrong Austin Marathon 2010


Trained mostly by myself
Recovering from a broken shoulder and wrist

The Race: 
Slow and steady

The Result:  
4:58:19 (so happy)

My Second:  Rock n Roll San Antonio

Training: I ran almost every single mile with the beautiful Bianca.  Flawless.  It couldn't have gone better really.

The Race:  86 degrees.  Hot, miserable and HARD. Not the result I'd hoped for.

The Result:  5:02:49

My Third:  NYC "Run Anyway" Marathon

Training:  Solid.  Moved from Texas to Pennsylvania part way through.  Was happy with my running and hoping to have a great race.

The Race:  The race was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy

The Result: No official time, but right around 5:00 miserable hours.  Not happy.  

It seems about time I have a happy race and I'm going to get it in Pittsburgh 2014.  Pittsburgh isn't an easy course, so I'm not looking to be fast.  I'm looking to have great training and finally a great race.  The two need to finally go hand in hand.  Pittsburgh Marathon here I come!  Who's with me Pittsburgh?

Fourth time's a charm.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm a Runner XXX

Susan Tirch
Singer Only in the Car 
39, Mars, Pennsylvania 

I started training for my first half marathon in August of 2009.  I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to do it.  Like literally, I didn't know if I could finish.  I'm 2 weeks away from running my TWELTH half marathon, and while I know it won't be my best half, I know I will finish.

I got to run my first half with Tracey and she (obviously) finished before me.  I remember her having a medal around her neck and asking her if the people that finished in under 2:00 hours got a medal.  She laughed and said no, everyone gets one.  And that's how I was introduced to race bling!

We take so much in life for granted.  Running for instance.  When it's going well, you never stop to take time and thank your body for being so awesome and allowing your legs to carry you.  It's not until it's gone that you stop and appreciate how awesome your body is.

I prefer to run on flat ground these days.  My legs just don't cooperate on hills of any kind AT ALL.

Sometimes I say to myself, why am I doing this?  Why am I running when clearly it's so difficult for me.  Then I remember what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and I'm all about getting stronger (mentally and physically).

I love running on a beautifully sunny day when the air is cool and crisp.  There's nothing like the sun shining on your face just enough to warm the cool air.  PERFECT.

I used to run 4 days a week in order to train for a marathon or half, but cutting back to 3 days has made me happier on so many levels.

I've tried to run and not care about my pace, but pace is such a huge mind game.  I am more and more thankful these days for running at ANY pace at all, but it's hard not to be frustrated with my new pace.

Running is not easy for me.  I need to accept that once and for all.

When you've had the perfect run, you crave it.  You'll spend 100 crappy ones in search of that 1 great one.

I didn't listen to music during my triathlon list past weekend (it's against USAT rules) and I didn't even miss it.  I was there was a recorder for the dialogue in my head.  Now THAT would be some blog post.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to have a Justin Bieber Birthday Party

Ok this really isn't a how-to, but this is what I did for my daughter Ella's Justin Bieber Party.  

First I bought every girl attending the party a peal and place star.  I used glitter glue to fill in each girls' name.  I hung them up as the backdrop to our "photo booth" but they were given to each girl to take home at the end of the party.  They are a vinyl sticker meant to hang up and remove and aren't supposed to damage walls etc.  I thought they were cute. 

I bought a bunch of photo booth props from Oriental Trading, Walmart and the Dollar Store.  I bought feather boas, hats, sunglasses, and beads.  I also used some of Ella's hats we had lying around the house.  Oh and don't forget the life size Justin Bieber cutout.

The girls needed a little more coaxing than I originally thought they would to dress up and pose with Bieber, but once they did they just looked so cute.

I plan to use the photos in Ella's thank you cards.  It should be fun for each girl to see their photos.

I think it was adorable.  The leftover props were also sent home with the girls as favors (hats, boas, beads, sunglasses).

I found make-your-own guitar and star beaded necklace and bracelet kits at Target (a LONG time ago) on clearance.  I bought them as a "maybe these will come in handy some day"and they certainly did.

The girls were really patient and strung their beads onto the elastic necklace and bracelets.  I think they had fun making them and most of the girls immediately put on their creations.

After the craft came the pinata.  The girls definitely needed to get up and get moving, and what's a party with out a pinata?

This is George's MacGyver for having no mature trees in our yard to hold a pinata.  Don't worry, no one was injured.

 Next came cake.  I loved making this cake and while it wasn't perfect (they never are) this is one of my favorite cakes.

 Ella especially loved this cake and was really happy with the zebra print.

It took her several blows to get her candles out.

But she didn't give up...

... and eventually got them all.

Finally, we played pin the lips on Justin.  Justin got plenty of kisses by the time it was all said an done.  I simply printed return address labels with red lips and wrote each girls' name on the lips (so they'd no which one was theirs when their blindfold came off) and I bought a $5 Justin poster from Walmart.

While I'm not sure everyone at the party was a huge Justin fan, it still seemed to be fun for ALL the girls.  Ella reported that it was her best party yet.   You know that makes this mama happy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mighty Moraine Man Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Recap

About a month and a half ago I announced on the blog that I'd be racing the Mighty Moraine Man Olympic distance triathlon.  It was the day I had signed up and about 2 days after I decided I would do the triathlon.  I had all but written off triathlon season this year and I'm so glad I didn't.  An Olympic distance triathlon is .93 mile swim, 25 mile bike (ours was 27) and a 6.2 mile swim.  

To be honest, when I signed up for the triathlon I didn't think much about the distances.  I just figured I could do it, but as the time drew nearer I began to realize what an undertaking swimming almost a mile would be and the bike course was extremely hilly.  Running 6.2 miles while doable, but hasn't come easily to me lately.  I had so much anxiety in the past month about this race, but I tried to just internalize it all and visualize myself doing the race.  Nevertheless, race morning I was NERVOUS!!!  

I met up with two friends doing the race Tracey (not THE Tracey haha) and Christi.  Tracey and I were both about to race our very first Olympic tris (only having done sprint distances before) and Christi was racing her first Tri EVER!  Tracey and Christi are both CrossFit fools.  In fact, Christi is the owner of one of the boxes I frequent.

Also there to support me was THE Tracey.  haha  Tracey, having just come off her Half Iron, sat this race out, but chose to spectate and volunteer for the race.

It meant so much for me to have Tracey there.  When I told her how nervous I was, she was reassuring.  I know she knows what it's like, so her words meant a lot to me.  She believed in me and I could feel her support.

The weather the morning of the race was anything but nice.  It was doomy and gloomy and the weather radar was calling for pretty severe storms.  There was talk for awhile that the race could be possibly postponed until the following day.  The race would NOT be cancelled due to rain alone.  It would only be cancelled due to thunder or lightening.

So yeah, we knew we'd get wet, we just didn't know when and how badly we'd get poured on.

The Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon hosted an Olympic distance and a Half Iron distance this year (its inaugural race).   The Olympic women racers were the last heat, so I stood nervously watching all the other athletes.  One women in particular struggled through the swim, finishing a good 20 minutes after her next closer competitor out of the water.  It was so inspirational to see.  She fought hard.  I knew then, I could do it.  No matter how slowly, I would complete my swim.

Next thing I know our wave is released and we're off and swimming.  I won't lie, I felt like a hot mess.  Everything I had been working on in the pool seemed to go to hell in a hand basket.  I was swimming in survival mode.  I definitely need to work on sighting.  I'm horrible.  I definitely do NOT swim straight and am unable to tell where the hell I'm swimming.   I would do a couple of breast strokes every so often to get my bearings.  It wasn't efficient, but it kept me headed in the right direction.

For the first leg (out to the first turn buoy) I felt extremely nervous and almost out of body.  I just couldn't get a good rhythm because I think I was still so nervous.  After I made the first turn, I told myself to relax and do what I know I needed to do.  I started to relax and before I knew it I was at the second turn.  After the second turn, I was headed home.  I couldn't believe how quickly it had gone.  When I swim that distance in the pool, it feels like I'm there for hours, but today it felt like 10 minutes.

Ok so it wasn't 10 minutes.

Swim:  30:05

I'm very, did I say VERY, happy with that time.  My goal was to do 45 minutes or less.  Just to be honest, I'm pretty sure this course measured short.  The wind apparently blew in the buoys and I've been told the course was closer to .75 miles.  Fine by me.

When I got out of the water I saw THE Tracey there and she gave me a huge smile and a thumbs up.  I had no idea what my time was, but I knew I must be doing ok because she seemed very happy for me.

I was beyond relieved when I got out of the water.  All the fear I had about the swim... well, it was now over.

With the swim over another fear arose.  It was now raining and not just sprinkling, but raining and raining hard.

I quickly headed to transition and hopped on my bike.  I had a long sleeve Under Armour half zip to throw on lying with my things, but I didn't feel cold and opted NOT to put it on.  I was in and out of transition pretty quickly and off on the bike.

T1:  2:29 

As soon as I left transition on my bike, the wind and rain picked up immediately.  I thought to myself, I should have thrown on my shirt.  I said out loud, "I hope I don't regret this."

Having crashed on my bike in 2010 in the rain (leaving me with a broken shoulder and wrist) I decided to be EXTRA cautious on this ride. I took all the downhills VERY slowly.  During the steepest descent  of the day, I glanced down and saw I was going 8.4 mph.  I wasn't taking any chances.  I did NOT want any crashes or broken bones.

The rain and wind were horrible at times.  At one point it was raining so badly that the rain hitting my face actually hurt.  It was like little pebbles hitting me in the face.  It didn't last like that forever, but it did rain (and pretty heavily) the whole time.  I got cold twice during the ride, but both times were short lived.  I'm actually glad I made the decision to leave the shirt behind.  I was actually, at most times, the perfect temperature.

The course is a tough course.  I rode it once prior to the race and it was brutal, but it was really hot that day and I think that made it worse.  Or maybe I built it up in my mind as so horrible, that on race day it didn't seem too bad.

I just kept a slow and steady pace going.  My goal was to average 14 mph so anytime I would dip down below, I'd push to get it back up.  In some spots the bike got pretty miserable.  Let's face it, riding in torrential downpours isn't exactly fun, but I was doing well and that was enough to keep me happy.  In addition, any time I'd start to get down or discouraged, I'd remind myself, "Hey at least the swim is over."  haha

I got passed one time on the bike by a female.  Actually two females and I went back and forth but eventually I overtook them both and finished ahead of them.  The only female who passed me on the bike was Tracey.  She snuck up on me at mile 11 and I never saw her again.   I started getting passed by the Half Iron men on their second loop at mile 13.  Wow, they're fast.

Out on the bike, when I still had about an hour to go, I started getting to a negative place because I realized I still had an hour more after I got off the bike.  Again, I reminded myself, "at least the swim is over."  Every time I'd say that in my head I'd laugh and get in a better mood.  I promised myself to take it just one leg at a time and not even think about the run.

By mile 19 I swear I was feeling amazing.  I was moving along so fast.  I said to myself that God must be on my shoulder because there was no way it was MY legs carrying me that fast.  I just felt so, so good.

Bike:  1:57:20 (13.8 mph but my garmin said 27.4 miles and 14.0... humph)

When I got back to transition, I was so glad Tracey (THE Tracey) had suggested putting my shoes in a bag (to keep them dry).  I had them in a bag and, in addition, threw my wetsuit on top of the bag.  Everything at my transition area was soaked.  Even if I had wanted to put on my shirt, I couldn't have.  It was about 10 pounds due to the water it accumulated.  Still, my shoes (and my hat) were dry and for that I was happy.

T2:  2:12 

When I started running, my toes were completely numb from being wet and cold.  I couldn't feel my feet.  I joked with the volunteers that I didn't need to feel my feet to run right?  

Shortly up ahead I saw George, the kids and Tracey.  I swear I couldn't hear anything.  I just saw them all standing there.  I wondered why they weren't saying anything.  George claims they were screaming, but I swear I couldn't hear them.  I did hear Tracey say, "you're amazing," and that made me feel good.  

I smiled and waved and said, "just 6 more miles to go," and I ran on by.  George and Tracey both said they were shocked to see me so happy.  Both of them thought that they'd see me disgruntled and in a bad mood.  I just wasn't in a bad mood at all.  I felt so happy.  

I'm not going to lie, the run sucked at first.  My legs felt so, so heavy.  It was a weird feeling and one I hadn't felt on prior triathlons.  I don't know if it had to do with the fact that my feet had been so wet for all that time on the bike, but things just didn't feel right.  I still tried to push myself and remember seeing my first mile complete in 10:01 (that would be my fastest mile). 

By mile 1.5 I was wishing I were finished.  I swear mile 1.5 to 2 were the absolute longest.  Finally, I was at 2 miles and praying to see the turn around soon.  I saw lots of people on the out and back course and so many people were encouraging.  I saw people struggling and people zooming right along.  I, however, was struggling.  My legs just didn't feel well.  What can I say?  They hurt.  My achilles hurt, my hamstrings hurt.  Any hill and my legs didn't want to cooperate.  

I walked several times throughout the course (all the water stops and a few of the "hills").  I honestly didn't care though.  It's what I wanted to do to feel good.  I kept reminding myself that it was MY race and no one else's and I should run (or walk) it the way I wanted.  

In what seemed like FOREVER, I got to the turn around.  I really thought my spirits would be lifted, but they weren't.  I would run a 9:45 pace only to find myself walking again (up small, small hills).  As every mile ticked by I prayed I wouldn't see an 11:00 pace.  Anything less than 11:00 was fine.  Even with walking, I did manage to keep my average pace less than 11:00 miles.  

Miles 4 to 6 went by pretty quickly.  I think I was just so happy to be almost finished that it didn't seem as bad any more.  I day dreamed of warm, dry clothes and crossing that finish line.  

As I crested the top of the path to the finish line, I saw George and the kids.  George was screaming this time (at least I heard him this time) and he sent the kids along with me through the finish line.  Jack was so darn cute, and told me, "I'm running faster than you are."  He sure was.  I was giving it all I had, but it wasn't much. 

I was so relieved to just be finished.  I know I had a crappy run, but I didn't let it get me down.  I know I did the very best I could that day and that's all I can ever ask of myself.  There's a reason I'm not running to my potential.  I don't know what it is, but I'll just continue to do what I can.

Run:  1:07 (10:48 pace official 10:37 pace per my garmin) 
Mile 1:  10:01
Mile 2:  10:20
Mile 3:  10:40 
Mile 4: 10:56 
Mile 5:  10:35
Mile 6: 10:44 

I will not let that run spoil my good time.  My goal was to finish this race in less than 4:00 and I did that by far.  I was happy the whole day (despite a crappy run) and I crossed the finish line smiling.

Total:  3:39:12 That earned me 3rd place in my age group!!!

A big thank you to George and the kids who came out in the crazy weather to support me.  Also, again to Tracey for being there (and taking all the pics you see).

Despite the weather, I couldn't have asked for a better day.  I'm so proud of myself for completing my first Olympic tri (PR baby).

Congrats to Christi and Tracey on their awesome races as well.  You ladies encouraged me and inspired me out there today.  Just knowing you were out there racing with me, pushed me to keep working hard!  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ella's 8th Birthday (Wordless)

Wordless Thursday, cause I'm that tired.