November 6, 2014

Having My Cake---and Eating it Too

I have always said I would never do a full Ironman (140.6 miles).  The idea of swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles, and then running a FULL MARATHON (26.2 miles) did not appeal to me. At all.  I have referenced this all over my blog, in various posts, and whenever I wrote that I meant it.  Whenever people would ask me why I didn't want to do a full, I'd answer that I love to swim, bike and run, but not THAT much. I likened it to a cake:  I enjoy eating a piece of cake, but the thought of eating a whole cake at once seems really unappealing.  I've done the distances before. I've done a marathon, back in 2003, and never want to run another. Although running is my passion, that's TOO much running for me.  I've biked a century (it was 106 miles, only 6 miles short of Ironman distance).  And I've done the Tiki Swim twice, both times the 2.4 mile distance. I had no interest in putting it all together.  I even remember telling someone once that even if my Ironman entry was comped, and I got free coaching, and all new gear, I still wouldn't consider it.  I simply, and truthfully, had no interest.  And it was telling to me that, after both of the half-Ironmans I have done (SuperFrog and Ironman Oceanside) I told my husband and best friend that I would never do a half-Ironman (70.3 miles) again.  If 70.3 seemed like an ungodly amount of mileage, you can imagine how 140.6 sounded to me.

Well, now I'm considering eating a whole cake.

Let me back up.

A few months ago, my friend Steena was doing Ironman Wisconsin (for the second year in a row, I might add).  Ironman puts live feeds on their website on race day, and I was on the computer watching for her on the finish line live feed. Now, I've watched these finish line live feeds quite often---whenever I have a friend doing one of these races I try to check it out.  Never before have I been pulled in.  But for some reason, on this day, watching the finish line of Ironman Wisconsin, I thought to myself "I want to do that!"  The thought sure surprised me!  I mentioned it to my husband, J, and he was not surprised at all!  He said that over the years, as he's watched me increase my distances from sprint to Olympic to half-Ironman, he's expected that one day I'd want to do a full.  I guess it's taken 4 years of me doing this sport  to wrap my head around the thought of actually doing it.

And can I do it?  I think so. I need a lot of training, obviously. There's a 17 hour time limit, and because I am so slow in swim, bike AND run, I'll be cutting it close.  But I know this---if I complete the course and don't make the time cut-off (and therefore be an official DNF--did not finish) I will still be proud of myself.

But I won't find out for a while.  Although I'm suddenly hungering for a full Ironman, I won't do it for about 5 1/2 more years. I have my eye set on Ironman Texas, 2020.

Why wait? Why 2020? And why Ironman Texas?

Well, when I train for a 70.3 race, it takes a lot of time. Obviously. I am fortunate that I don't work, so I am able to train a lot in the week while the kids are at school, but I still have to do a long run and bike (and sometimes a bike-run brick) on the weekends.  J has NEVER made me feel guilty about my time away from the kids on the weekend, and neither have the kids, but, as a mom, I feel guilt anyway.  Because for both half-Iron races I tried to train as much as possible on the course, I biked a lot on Coronado and the Silver Strand for SuperFrog, and on Camp Pendleton for Oceanside.  That meant that on top of the 3-4 hours or so of biking I was doing, I had to add on 60-90 minutes of driving time to get to and from my destination. I would be gone all morning and into the early afternoon.  Again, my FAMILY never made me feel guilty. It's me.  I know I need, and deserve, my own life and time away, but still. 

So when I think about doubling the training effort, and knowing that I will be away a lot on weekends, it makes sense to wait 5 years.  In 2020, my son, D, will be going on 16 years old. My daughter, A, will be going on 14.  It will be after her Bat Mitzvah, which will be a stressful year.  They will be both be teenagers, and while I'm sure they will still need me on weekends, I don't think they will need me in the same capacity as they do now, at ages 10 and 8.  For my own sanity and mommy-guilt, I would feel better about this.  They are only young once, and while it's unrealistic (and unhealthy) to be with them every minute, I don't want to overdo the swim/bike/run and sacrifice my time with two of the loves of my life.

Also, 2020 is the year I turn 50.  What better gift can I give myself than to do an Ironman?  Yes, waiting until 2020 makes sense.  And Texas?  Because I have a lot of family there. I have two sisters, who are my best friends. One lives in Houston (where the race is) and one lives in Dallas.  And my dad and step-mother live centrally, so it's not too far for them. If I'm going to be spending 17 hours (or hopefully less) on the course, I want everyone there cheering me on---my husband, children, father, step-mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, niece and nephews. While I don't really relish the thought of traveling to Texas for the race (and all the expense and hassle of shipping my bike, etc), having my family there to cheer me on, as we also celebrate my 50th birthday, is gold. That's priceless.

My son is very excited about me doing this.  I have two caveats---I need to make sure that my body is holding up enough to train (I'm perpetually injured) and I need to make sure my family situation is ok (we have so many medical issues in my family, so really, knock on wood)....but I'm committing right here, on my blog, that if my body and family situation hold up, I'll be competing in the 2020 Ironman Texas Ironman.  April 25, 2020. Oh---and also if my passion for triathlon holds up.  There's always that. I can't, and won't, put in the hours upon hours of training if I'm over triathlon and training by then.

In preparation, I have signed up for my third half-Ironman. I will be doing Vineman 70.3 in July! I'm very excited about this race.  It's a very popular race, and it sold out in about 7 minutes, so I'm very lucky to be registered. It's supposed to be hot---can get up to a yucky 90 degrees--but also beautiful, as the course goes through the vineyards of Sonoma County.  Unlike my first 70.3, when I felt nauseous after hitting the registration button, or my second, when I felt nervous, I have only felt excitement about this one.  Yes, the nerves will come, but I KNOW I can do the distance. While I'd love to improve my times, my main goal is to have fun and practice my nutrition for long-course racing (which I always mess up on during race day).

So, that's that.  I'm doing another 70.3 in 2015, with an eye in the future for a full Ironman.  Putting out there on the interwebs makes it seem more real.  And I know that though it seems so far off right now, the time will fly by and soon enough I'll be in the depths of training!

November 4, 2014

Awesome 80's 5k Race Recap ('14)

For the third year in a row, I ran in the Awesome 80's raceThe inaugural year, 2012, I ran the 10k option (it was my first 10k ever).  Last year they only offered a 5k option, which was fine with me, as I ran it with  my son.  This year it was again only offered as a 5k, and an untimed one at that.  Still, my son, D, and I were excited to run it, as we had fun dressing up last year and wanted to again this year.  Plus, the theme was Pac Man, and we were coveting the cute medals!

Having learned from the mistake I made in last week's 5k (not reading the instructions carefully) I made sure I knew when packet pickup was.  They only had a few hours blocked out on Friday afternoon, which was Halloween.  My kids were troopers, going with me to packet pickup at Road Runner Sports in their Halloween costumes, which they had worn to school.  While at Road Runner Sports, I treated myself to a new Amphipod belt for my phone (we have a Nathan brand one at home that doesn't really fit my huge phone), which I used during the race and loved.  We were given a t-shirt and bib; no goodie bags or timing chips, as it was untimed.  (Side note: I wasn't aware that this race was untimed until I received the race day instruction email just a few days before. Not that I wouldn't have run the race anyway, as I do love this race, but it would have been nice to know this fact at registration. All previous years were chip timed).

Friday night, soon after trick-or-treat, it began to rain. I heard that it hasn't rained on Halloween in San Diego since 1988, so this is truly rare.  I asked D if he still wanted to go with me in the morning if it was raining (I would go regardless) and he said yes. I had to laugh---he's hardcore like his mama!  But I wasn't laughing when I woke up early Saturday morning. The plan was to leave the house by 5:30, and I was up before 5. It was POURING rain.  Ugh!  I woke up D and he still wanted to go. We decided not to wear our 80's costumes; we'll save them for next year.  We got dressed in alternate clothing, grabbed some windbreakers, and headed out the door. Luckily it stopped raining soon after we started driving down to Mission Bay, and it didn't start raining again.

The last two years parking was hard.  There's a dirt lot at the corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sea World Drive that most people park in, including us. It's a bit of a walk to the start, but not too far.  However, I didn't want to park there this time, as I knew the lot would now be mud. I didn't want to park in it, OR walk in it. I chanced getting off the freeway an exit early and made my way down a back way toward Fiesta Island. I was glad I did, as there was PLENTY of parking in a real lot, and very close to the start line at that!  We got down there by 6, and waited in the car for half an hour, as the race didn't start until 7.  We finally got out and made our way to the start. It was very uncrowded, especially as compared to the previous two years.  They had port-o-potties, but also there is a real bathroom there, as it's a park. Last year I waited in a long line for the real bathroom.  This year I walked right in and had my choice of stalls! I believe the rain scared people away, which was a shame because it did stop raining after all.  D and I check out the DeLorean that was there for display, and then lined up to run.  D wanted to be up in the front; it wasn't a timed race, but there was a finish line clock and he wanted to check his time at the finish so he wanted to be first out the gate (I had my Garmin for me, so it didn't matter about my placement).

view of the DeLorean and hoverboard
Add caption
Soon we were off!  This course is always very boring...a loop around ugly Fiesta Island. I didn't take pictures this time, as I was actually running really well and didn't want to stop.  I've been running a 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio during training, but during the race I did 4 1/2 minute run and 30 second walk. My injuries (sciatic nerve compression and capsulitis in my toe) didn't hurt at all.  I felt great! At the finish line I double high-fived Chewbacca and Mario. Only at an 80's race, right?  I ended up finishing (unofficially, of course) with a 10:46 minute/mile pace, which is pretty darned good for me in a 5k.  Not a PR, but one of my best.  D finished the run in 29 minutes flat.  Much faster than me!

finish line

We got our cool Pac Man medals and were home by 8:15. I was proud of him for not only running such a great race, but for being willing to run in bad conditions.  We hope to do this run again next year, this time in costume!

loved this year's theme!

October 28, 2014

Surfing Madonna 5k Race Recap

The Surfing Madonna 5k/10k is a run that benefits the "Save the Ocean"project. I'd never done this race before, but was intrigued by the course, which is all on the beach.  I signed up months ago to do this run with my son, but only a week before found out that he had testing for his next karate belt at the same time (he is now a first degree brown belt---the next belt he tests for will be junior black belt!).  I asked my good friend Kelly to take his spot, and the race coordinators easily transferred his name to hers at no cost.

I've been injured lately (what's new, right), this time with capsulitis in my little toe, and coupled with my other injuries I had no illusions about a PR for this race. I ran simply for the joy of having a beautiful run along the ocean.  The race did NOT disappoint in this regard.

Although I've been running and doing races since 1998, I made a rookie mistake for this 5k.  I didn't read the website carefully.  Normally a few days before a race I receive an email with instructions for packet pick-up, race day parking, etc.  An email never came.  On Friday morning (the day before the race) I decided to look at the website for packet pickup info.  I had assumed that I would be able to pick up my packet on race day, which is typical for most local 5ks.  I was shocked to read that there was mandatory pickup on Thursday and Friday----at Road Runner Sports in Carlsbad, which is over half hour away!  The site also said there would be race day pick up until noon at the latest (the races started at 2:00) but didn't say where.  Ugh!  So I had to drive straight to Carlsbad after my kids got out of school. Heading north in Friday rush hour traffic is never fun, especially with two cranky kids who did NOT want to go to a packet pickup!  Once there, I easily got my bib and t-shirt (and was able to get Kelly's as well).  In a Facebook exchange with one of the race directors she pointed out that emails were sent out earlier. I checked---and yes indeed emails were sent out, but the latest one was on September 30!  As the race was October 25, that email was not on my mind.  I suggested to her that next year emails be sent out closer to the race date.  And, lesson learned for me---always, always read the website carefully.  You'd think with all the races I've done I would know that, but apparently I didn't.

sign on the course
Race day was weird for me, as I'm used to running most races first thing in the morning. I've done a few at night, but never in the afternoon. Because this race is run on the beach, it started at 2:20, which was low tide.   I wasn't sure what to eat all day, so I settled on a light breakfast and lunch. I picked Kelly up and we headed north to Encinitas, where we found parking on a side street without too much trouble.  I was really impressed with the festivities set up there--tons of booths, especially aimed at keeping the ocean clean; lots of people; and great music filled the air.  Kelly and I got in line for the bathrooms (real ones, not port-o-potties) then headed down to the staging area.  We had thought the race started at 2:00, but again, having not read the website carefully, I didn't realize they started to line people up at 2:00; the race itself would start at 2:20.  We settled in for a long wait. I was already regretting my decision not to bring my handheld with me, as it was hot and I was thirsty!  Yet ANOTHER rookie mistake!

start line

Finally the race got under way.  We started out running north. I began my new run/walk ratio, which is run 2 minutes and walk 30 seconds. I've found that this ratio really helps me run better and stave off the pain.  The race was entirely on the sand, mostly hard packed, as it was low tide.  There was only one spot (for the 5k, at least) where there was a large stream of water that was unavoidable to step in, but even that didn't really get my shoes wet.  I was expecting to run out a mile and a half and then turn back, so I was surprised at a 5k turn around just over a mile into the race (the 10k runners kept going, and I'm unfamiliar with their route).  I made the turn and ran back south.  Here I grabbed water at the water station, something I don't often do in a 5k but man, it was hot. Again, I was regretting not bringing my handheld.

on the course

a race doesn't get more beautiful than this

Soon I was passing the finish line area, because the course went south of that.  We went maybe half a mile south, then made another u-turn north.  In this area was a second water station (odd, because most 5ks that I do only have one water station, but this was much needed and appreciated as it was hot!)  Just before the finish line, the course got hard, as the sand turned loose and it was uphill, so that made me trudge rather than run.  I finally crossed the finish line, got my medal, and immediately went in search of more water! I found Kelly soon after, and we headed home.

seen at the finish line

A fun race for a great cause. And many lessons learned for this seasoned runner---make sure to read the website carefully, and if it's hot outside, it's better to be safe than sorry in terms of hydration!