Monday, July 28, 2008

Two Highs and a Low

Has it really been 3 weeks since we "journaled". Holy schmoley. I'm on a high, but let me rewind a little.
We healed from our wounds but not without some self talk. As E wrote it took getting back in the saddle to help get over the crash. July 12th was Timberman triathlon up north in Grand Rapids hosted at Rutgers Sugar Lake Lodge. Great venue with some 500 participants between the short and the long race. We've gone the last 2 years with the main motivation as a fun getaway with friends. The race was super windy, but e and I both improved over last yr and I managed to bike and run my way to my second win of the year.

On the 17th E had his 38th b-day. His wishes... order a pizza and watch a movie. A nice low key movie "date" night at home. no s,b,r.... just low key. I think the movie of choice was There will be Blood. Good flick.

Also on the 17th, my 87 yr old Grandma had a significant change in health. It was determined thru an MRI to be a stroke. Questions arose... was this the beinning of the end? with 6 kids spread throughout north america, I was called on to send the first family email getting word out.

Sunday the 20th was Annandale, the 10th race in 11 weeks for me, not including the every other week BDTT. Was racing taking a toll? How do you ever know besides when you get a mental case of the lazies (we have another term for this but I'll keep it clean for the unknown audience). Erik and I stayed at Shelly's and she came with us to the race. She is such a fun spectator and has great eyes to watch for people. We left the doggies back at her place for this one. This race is historically hot and humid, but this year had nearly perfect conditions. Erik had a great race, posting his fastest bike split of the season followed up with a sub 7 pace on the 5.3 mle run. Supa-star. I had an ok race. Pre-race I visited the ever-so-helpful KO at the GW tent... What was causing my noise??? Soon diagnosed as a bent derailier with a crappy (way stretched out) chain. Moments later, I was off riding my super-smooth and quiet ride. What fun! I love my little silver bullet - we've been thru much together. Anyway. My race was ok - well, swim time sucked - I never swim well here. No wetsuit swim for elites. Am I that dependent on my wetsuit?? The bike I hammered, but had a hard time finding a rhythm. My time/pace was respectable, but at the time didn't feel quite "on". Time to run - I was in 2nd at the time. 1 mile in I dropped to 3rd - little becky youngberg cruised past at some blazing pace. Then mile 2 came with Marta at my side; we ran shoulder to shoulder til mile 3 when there was this slight up hill and she dropped me. Did she pick it up that much or did I fall apart? Eitherway... I finally finished and held on to 4th and still posted a faster time then last yr.

July 27th was Chisago half iron. My thoughts after annandale were "why did I sign up for this"? I had very litte depth for long training so far. The only half course I've ever done is Pigman in Palo, IA (oh and my very first tri, Tinman 1998 in menomonie). I wanted to try a new course and heard good things about this "local" half. I was totally happy when I found out that the bike course was changed from 2800+/- feet of clmbing to 800 feet of climbing- perfect test for IMFL!!! Erik and I pre-drove the bike and the run on Sat and got a visual for my predetermined transition "home". I felt confident for a solid bike, but the run had some rolling hills and a section of gravel roads. Not my strength, but let's give it a go.

We got our sorry butts out of bed by 4 am to fuel up and hit the road. Temps were going be perfect and winds calm to 8 mph. SA-WEET! I'm getting ready to swim standing with E who was pumped doing photos for the day, and Shelly comes flying down bearing hugs for luck. it worked. Swim was great - calm and good temps. goal: 33, reality 33:18. Great - let's go play on the bike. With the flat course I found a happy light rhythm and just peddled away. I see E at mile 30 and had so far avg 23mph. Super fun day - having a blast out there. Marlo came by at mile 42 and self talk was not to let her get out of sights. I started to work a little. With no real training for this I was hesitant "push". My legs were happy with a steady rhythm. T2 came and I smoked transition and was on a mission, but had to stick to a nuturtion plan if I was going to make this. My hip/IT/glute has been such a knot lately I needed to make sure I listened to my body. Thanks to Jeremy sartain (I think it was giving JM a break for some announcing) the crowd was rialed up as I was the 2nd female thru. Mile one- popping 2 IBPFN. Next stop - enduralytes, gatorade, water. I had cramps coming on... Ah crap... just stick to a plan.

The run was feeling Very steady. I was super confused that by mile 6-7 I learned that I was actually in the lead. How did this happened? Where was Marlo? Who was in first out of T2.? E was at 6.5 taking some scenic pics and I said where's Marlo. (couple aid stations mentioned first female thru- what???) We did not plan that E would be a "split" guy - but holy shit - If i was in the lead with 6 miles to go... who's back there and where? I kept focused on me and nutrition. Aid stations kept saying lead female. I looked at my watch at mile 10 and had a time of 4:15 so far... I was coherent enuf to do math and thought holy shit, I could break 4:40. Soon after, I had a guy on a bike by me and I faintly hear him phoning back to the race sight with the update. That is when I actually believed I was in the lead - roughly 2 miles to go. Running on adreneline! We turned the corner and I could see and hear the crowds and the park with the ever so entertaining Jerry McNeil. This was really going to come together! I felt awesome. I ran strong down a hill, onto the grass around the park and up a brutal hill thru the balloons. Jerry had the crowd so fired up! It was the best finish experience I've ever had. 4:37:13 then he announced it was a course record by 8 minutes, since Marlo's 2006 finish. Erik, Shelly and Jeff were there with big hugs. I wondered if I was ready .... I guess I was. Never underestimate the power of the mind.

Post race, back at his house, Jeff and Shelly made a super yummy grilled salmon that he just caught in Lake Michigan the week before -lots of grilled veggies. Oh was my tummy in such a happy place.
Back to Grandma. She has still been slipping daily, so we went from Chisago/Stacy area over to Wayzata to see her in the nursing home. Mom came up from Sioux Falls on Saturday, so we would be able to see her too. Docs say with virtually no nutitrition going down since the 17th there are only a few days left. Aunt Sue from Mexico flew in last night and will stay for nearly a month.

Wow what a mixed emotion day. I so didn't want to set my alarm clock and just let my body sleep..... so 5:00am comes, I hit the off button and continued my "recovery".

Next race, Turtleman Aug 9th.

For now, there will probably be some down time focusing on family.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Getting Back on the Horse

If at first you don't succeed (in staying on your bike), try, try, try to get back on again!!

Well Julie and I had an hour spin on Monday. What better time to overcome any mental anxieties over the mildly-traumatic crash of Sunday. We did our normal (safe) loop and even extended it to 17 miles. Great way to get the kinks (mental and physical) out.

By popular demand (okay, it was really CY) here are a few mending battle wounds. These pics were taken on Tuesday, so these are two days healed.

*****WARNING*****If raw meat makes you squeemish, you might want to quit reading/viewing right now.

It's kind of fun bandaging each other...ah wedded bliss.

Happy/Safe training!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Race, Strain, Recover, Push, Race, Celebrate, Crash!

Wow! What a week. We are in the thick of tri season and summer has arrived. I've had 8 races in 9 weeks with 5 more weekends of tri's in the next six weeks before the Ironman Florida training focused training kicks in. E has 5 down and 3 to go.

Last weekend was an emotional Waconia tri, the MN Best of the US qualifier. Going into it E and I were both gunning for some improvement. The ultimate goal for me would be to come out of T2 in first and pull off a win to claim the championship spot for MN female. The start of the day E and I were in our fleece tops and full pants. This is the end of June in MN? Temps weren't bad, but the the WINDS were the worst I've ever had (well that I can remember swimming in anyway). So basically the swim SUCKED! E said he drank about half the lake. I think most were on the swim/ breast stroke plan just to survive. 1/2 mile accurate swim and it took me just under 18 min (normally around 14), crap - I have some work to do. The bike went as planned and came into T2 in first with the 4 mile run. I pushed hard knowing what was on the line and the thick and super talented field of runners. by mile 2.5 my right hammy started to seize - CRAP! I tried to run it out, but the hills didn't help - I had to slow up a tad just start shaking the legs. Marlo passed as I continued to struggle with the leg. one more up hill past the park and down hill to the finish... could I hang on?? well the other hammy had that answer... Double crap! Double seize on the hammys with about 1 mile to go. Peg leg running.... well that was me! I stopped to stretch just to survive the last mile. Hung on to 2nd. Congrats to Marlo for being a rock-star athlete. E had a great race, despite the water log gut during the bike.

By Tuesday I was in for heavy massage work and wed skipped my first Black dog TT in years to work on recovery of the legs. We were both racing a sprint tri on Sat and kept training light for most of the week to be as healthy as possible for the long term.

Our 4th of July was pretty low key, including some R&R relaxing on the deck.... so relaxed that Erik applied sunscreen like it would naturally spread itself out. Oh and just cuz some men have hair on their legs doesn't mean that you won't burn. Unfortunately E was looking streaky red on the top half and just plain red on the legs. Bound to feel really good with the bike shorts on Sat am. Friday night we stayed at my sister Shelly's, to be a lot closer to race start. we had a little B-day celebration with her (hers is on the 6th) and some yummy dinner.

4:30 Sat am I roll over and give E a kiss as it is our 12th anniversary and we get to go to our happy place - another race with so many friends. E says to me on the way to the race...I don't think I can do this, my sun burn hurts so bad on my legs. Once we arrived, got settled and on our warm up he realized the other pains, actually we both did - our quads and gluts See on Thursday we did this great strength workout that we did for most of the winter 2x's/wk. problem was, it had been maybe 2 months since we've done the full routine and the 2 day sore effect was in full force. Our biggest killer - Jump lunges for 1 min straight followed by a 1 min squat hold. YIKES! We were so sore. We left the pain killers at Shelly's. We took it on full force and finished faster than last yrs time - me by 45 or so seconds and he by couple minutes. I finished 2nd for the 3rd tri in a row and this one had a some anniversary dinner cha-ching to go with it.

To celebrate we had a fun dinner our with some non tri friends that think were crazy to celebrate by racing and training. E and I enjoyed yummy pasta meals and cocktails/beers of choice to prepare for our group century ride Sunday AM. Our tolerance is so low that I think we were both home and crashed in front of the TV by 9 pm. Too funny!

So this morning Merilee, Jen and Marty came over for what was to be our longest ride of the yr. Objective: 100 miles. We pull out of the drive way around 8:15 with 70 degrees and partly cloudy - A perfect day for a ride. About 5 miles in and I hear this "AARRHHH!" I look back and Jen is ass over tea kettle - crashing her new bike! Yes we as triathletes seem to be so concerned about our gear. But Jen pulled off a full fledged somersault with the bike. The gymnast in her really shined and she rolled with grace. A quick mind, body and bike check and we're off and peddling again. We're rolling right along with some great tail wind sections hitting mid to upper 20 mph on the flats - way fun line riding. Great job pulling us for so long Marty. We manage to get lucky dodging a few other obstacles when at mile 56 E's front wheel gets caught in the eroding part of the black top. His quick reflexes yank his foot out and skids like Fred Flinstone would putting on the brakes. The dump for him ended with a large road rash just on his cute little butt cheek in the middle of a two lane road. I was riding right behind him and couldn't avoid the loss of control and managed to take a quality spill myself. The second I realized I'm down and in the middle of the road I see Erik saying "shit" grabbing his bike and moving to the skinny shoulder. I look back and no cars are coming over the slight rise. We do a quick body check for each of us. I took it pretty hard on my left side, no broken parts, but road rash central and a cracked helmet. We survived, fixed E's flat that he got in the process of the incident, and rode on... well for as long as we could. E's tire had skid against this ridge of the road so much that it tore right thru the side walls. A few minutes after the fix he officially blows out the tire. We call Jmac for a Sag wagon ride for E. Thank Jules for saving us!!! 4 of us rode those few miles to Julie's house, got cleaned up and I realized that I shouldn't ride anymore. E thought an urgent care trip for a scan was in order to test for concussion. We skipped that as I still had dilating pupils and just plain refused to go - I'm fine. E and I drove Julie's 4runner with bikes in back to our house and Julie joined MS, MW and JL for more riding. I'm happy to have heard there were no more crashes, and most posted their longest and more epic rides of the season!

It's been a pretty emotional roller-coaster of a week, but with today's experiences and thinking of what could have been with our crashes..... I'm so thankful for a wonderful husband, the best soul mate I could ever meet and the gift to live another day to live laugh and love.

Ride safe and keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mom's Movin' and We're "helping"

Well, after 29 years, Mom is pulling up stakes and moving...about 3 miles. While this may seem like an easy move, keep in mind that all of the prep work was done (nearly) on her own. Us kids helped with a bit of sorting, but it's hard to help pack up someone else's...treasure. Luckily, Mom aka Mary Ellen (Hairy Melon to her brothers) is what you might call a neat freak. Her house is always impeccably clean and organized, to the point of anality (not sure if that's a word, but you get the picture). I say this because if she wasn't so organized, the task would have been even more daunting. Mom really showed us her strength through the whole process. Adding to the difficulty is the fact the my Dad died nearly three years ago. She was left to pack all of the memories (pictures, clothes, knick-knacks, etc.) and grieve a bit more without his loving shoulder to cry on or listen the way only he could. In a way, I think a house is just a structure, but a home is everything else that you add to it over the years...and I don't mean the furniture. I mean all of the memories, with the good ones far outnumbering the not so good. (insert misty eyes here)

Julie and I left around 1:30PM on Thursday, June 19th and drove to the Southwestern Chicago Suburb of Oswego. We arrived at about 11:30PM. Now I realize that it doesn't take 10 hours to drive from MPLS to Oswego. Julie and I decided to make a pit stop in Verona, WI (fireman's park-part of the IMOO bike course) and join our friend Eric P. for a single loop of about 40 miles. Unfortunately, Eric's bride of 3 years (Michelle) was not able to join us. It was their anniversary, but Eric kindly made time for us.
Let me just say that bike course is least the one loop was. I'm not a very strong biker and easily get dusted by Julie each and every time, but man this was cool. The main reason for us doing the bike loop was for me to get a glimpse of what the Ironman course was like. In years past, just watching Julie bike part of the course was intimidating as hell. Hills are generally not my friend, but to climb cowbell hill and see those people cheering (in my mind of course) was cool. It wasn't as bad as I had pictured in my head all of these years. I might even pony up for an IMOO registration this fall...nothing in stone yet!! Well, Eric had to cut the loop short so he and Michelle could have a nice anniversary evening together. Great seeing you Eric!! Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday Michelle!!

The only strange thing to happen on our ride was as we were coming back into Verona. A young punk in a little black P.O.S. car blared an air-horn right as he passed us. I swear, if I could have followed him to his house I would have...done nothing because I usually avoid confrontation at any cost. Internally, I was fuming:P Anyway, we packed up and continued down to Oswego and crashed about 10 minutes after arriving.

On Friday, our great fortune was that all of the heavy stuff was moved by...what else, movers. We helped Mom with the "last few items"(two car loads) and then it was official, Westleigh Ct. was history. Now came some unpacking of boxes, some yard work and even breaking Mom's computer. We helped her select a new 46" LCD HD TV. All was fine by the time we left, but we had to make sure that the electronic Bridge game and her email were was and still is I think. We really did have a nice time with Mom and love her new (to her) townhouse. Plenty of room in a nice neighborhood and within walking distance of downtown.

On Sunday morning, we packed up some of my treasure that Mom had found and hit the road. Our drive home was uneventful and traffic pretty light.

I am continuously amazed at Mom's strength and grace, not only with the stress of moving, or even the death of Dad, but with the current phase of her life too. She is so open to new and different things...always willing to say "why not" when it might be easier to just stay the course. She'll tell you that she's not that strong but I know she is, heck, everyone who's ever met her knows that. I love you Mom and if you are able to click on the favorites BLOG link that I set up for you, you'll know it too!!