December 24, 2011

My Bike Makeover

This week my bike underwent two big transformations: new PINK handlebar tape and clipless pedals! I am excited about the former, and very nervous about the latter. Both are influenced by my friend, Angi.

I've mentioned Angi before. I met her this past year on dailymile, and she has since become my biking partner. Over the summer, most of my long weekend rides were done with her. She motivated me to go longer, and helped me get up big hills I never thought I could do. She helped train me for my first Olympic-distance triathlon, which I did in September....and in fact came to cheer me on for the entire 4 hours I was racing.

For months she, and her husband, Steve (who taught me how to change a bike tire!) have been urging me to trade in my clunky pedals with toe cages for clipless pedals. Clipless scares me. The idea of being CLIPPED IN while I'm riding, and having to quick-release before I stop, is terrifying. I have to quickly get out of my toe cages, too, and remember falling a few times when I first got them. I hate falling.

But they have been pushing me to try them, even giving me Angi's old pedals and shoes (we are the same shoe size). Apparently, using clipless pedals will give me more power when I ride, which I can definitely use when climbing hills (ok, who am I kidding...I am so slow on the bike that I can use the extra power even on flat rides!) So this week I took my bike into the shop made the change. Yesterday I took my bike to a local park where I practiced riding while clipping and unclipping, clipping and unclipping. Right now, I feel moderately comfortable unclipping on the right side; I can't stop on a dime, but I think I can unclip given warning. I can't unclip as easily on the left side, but that's ok...even with my toe cages I always, always undid my right foot to stop.

So all that is well and good...but here's the thing: Angi is now battling breast cancer. She found a lump about a year ago, but didn't think anything of it. However, during a routine mammogram in October, she found out it was cancerous. She had a mastecomy in November and while the doctors are optimistic that they got it all, she is facing a few months of chemotherapy.

Her husband wrote on his blog that he changed his handlebar tape to pink to show his support for Angi, and that he is not changing it back until she is cancer-free. I am joining him. I can't wait to be able to change it back to blue. Angi will beat this---she's a tough athlete, and has an unstoppable determination and optimism. I have already promised her that when she's ready, I am doing a 5k with her; her first race post-treatment.

Please, please....if you're a woman, get your breasts checked. Check them monthly, get a mammogram yearly, and if you feel a lump, please consult your doctor immediately. And please, please...send positive thoughts, energy and prayer to my dear friend Angi!

December 20, 2011

Parent-Teacher Conference Woes

I haven't written an update on my daughter, A, in some time. This is not because she isn't doing well; actually, to the contrary, she is doing great. I haven't written about her recently because I am harboring some anxiety about her, and to write about it would mean actually having to deal with the issues in my mind. However, I am finally ready to write it all out.

As I wrote a few months ago, she is doing well in kindergarten. A is in the first of a two-year kindergarten program; this program is geared toward typically-developing children, who were born June through November. Ordinarily, these kids would be the youngest in their classes. The district recognizes that young kids may need an extra year of growth (social, emotional, etc) and offers this two-year program as an option for parents. You don't HAVE to enroll your child in the program if they're born June-November; you can go right ahead and put them in the regular one-year kindergarten class. For me, however, enrolling A was a no-brainer. I knew she needed this extra year, and am grateful she qualified based on her birthday (otherwise I would have had to fight to enroll her).

Last month her report card came out and we had her parent-teacher conference. The report card made me happy; the conference did not.

Let me explain.

Her report card showed her pretty much right where she should be. Academically, she is excelling, and is even above "grade level" in some areas (I put "grade level" in quotations, as there really is no grade level for the first year in a two-year kindergarten.) She is reading, and knows all of the sight words she's been taught. She's a pro at reading 3-letter words, and at home is almost done reading the Level One books of the Hooked on Phonics series to me. She is at "grade level" with math and most other things too. It was noted that she was behind on language, but that wasn't anything I didn't expect.

Her teacher, during the conference, expressed some concerns about A for next year. She said that while she is excelling academically, she worries about her with social and language issues, especially with language pragmatics, which essentially is using language in a social context. At home, she not too bad with it, but at school she is very quiet. She is very well-liked and has a lot of friends in the class (one girl even gave her a Best Friends Forever necklace last week) but I'm not sure how well she is relating to the kids. The teacher reported that the kids treat her "like a doll". For example, A will be playing with blocks and another child will say, "A, come play dolls with me." A will go and play...but when the teacher would ask is she had wanted to play dolls, she said no. She is not speaking up for herself in social situations, or having full conversations. Again, this is odd, because at home she talks in full sentences all the time.

The teacher thinks that A has the most problems during free play, when the classroom is very noisy. With her hearing aides, she may not be able to tune out the ambient noise. There are 26 kids in the room, and trust me, it gets noisy (I'm in there every Thursday to volunteer). During instruction time, when the class is quiet, she is doing well. She suggested that next year A spend some time in a special day class, for part of each day, in order to give her some quieter time.

Well, this doesn't sit well with me at all. I'm not opposed to a special day class if there was one that is appropriate for her...but in my district, there isn't one. The highest level of special ed class, the non-severely handicapped class, is way below her level. I observed it this past May, and watched as kindergarteners were being called up to the board to point out letters. If I put A in this class, this is where she's be expected to be A YEAR FROM MAY...pointing out letters of the alphabet. The child is already reading! Yes, the class was small and quiet, but I can't put her in an academic environment where she'd wither.

I've been considering other options, such as private school. However, from what I'm hearing from talking to others, private schools aren't always the answer. They often have large class sizes (as the schools want the money) and they aren't necessarily equipped to handle special needs. There is a deaf/hard-of-hearing school, but I'm not sure I want to segregate her. Besides, she is doing well right now where she is.

I called an IEP (the first one I've called---all my others have been her scheduled, annual reviews). The people there (her teachers and all her therapists) were convinced that they could meet her needs in the school district. We added another half-hour of speech therapy, with even more focus on social skills. We also added another occupational therapy goal of coloring, and the OT may be adding a goal of sensory processing. They talked about other things to do in the classroom to help her (put a stool under her feet, etc). They, too, nixed the idea of a special day class---she needs to be in the least restrictive educational environment, and she's too bright for the level of classes they have, at least at this time. I left the IEP feeling really good about what we're putting into place.

Additionally, I have found a local private clinic that has a social skills class, focusing on the language pragmatics! A has already been 3 times. I love that we're doing something extra, outside of school, to help her. And even at home, I'm prompting her more to use complete sentences rather than one-word demands (i.e. saying "I want some water, please" instead of "WATER!").

My plan is to enroll her at our home school next year for kindergarten (she's at a different elementary school right now, as our home school doesn't have the two-year class). We'll see how she does. If I have concerns, I'll raise them. If I find it's not the best fit for her, I'll look into other schooling options. I want to do what's best for her, and time and money are not the issues. It's finding the place where she's going to thrive. Nothing has to be set in stone; no placement is unchangeable. I'd hate to have to move her in the middle of a school year, but if I'm not happy next year, I'll do it.

I'm convinced that this little girl has what it takes to thrive. It's my job to ensure that she has every opportunity to do so.

December 14, 2011

Triathlete at Rest

It's now been about a week and a half since I crushed the half marathon course in Las Vegas and set a personal record. Since then, I have gotten approval from the Half Fanatics to join! The minimum level to join is 3 half marathons in 90 days, or 2 half marathons in 16 days. My 3 half marathons in 57 days (Long Beach, Silver Strand and Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas) has definitely qualified me. I'm now Half Fanatic #1642. I even got the shirt in the mail this week!

So, besides joining online clubs, what else have I been doing in the athletic world? Well, pretty much nothing. I'm on recovery break of sorts. Before I ran Vegas, I promised myself that I would run through the pain, balls to the wall, and then take a full two weeks off from running in order to rest my legs (I had been having glute pain, as well as some plantar fasciitis pain). I DID run the best race of my life in Vegas, and am keeping my promise to myself. Since I ran on the evening of December 4, I have not run one step. I am waiting until this weekend to run. It is SO weird not to run, let me tell you.

Additionally, I haven't been swimming or biking! I wanted to swim, and was planning on getting in the pool the day after I returned from Vegas to stretch out my legs. (I always, without fail, find that the best antidote to a hard run is a good swim). However, I returned home to an email from my gym saying that the pool heater was broken. It's an outdoor pool, and is usually heated to 80-82 degrees. It was now 70 degrees. Some people may have no hesitation getting in water that cold, sans wetsuit, but I did. Brrrr! So I didn't swim, and now the pool is closed altogether while they drain it and install a new heater. I hope to be able to swim next week, if it's fixed.

And biking? Well, I DID take my bike out for a ride this weekend, but two miles in my shifter broke. I had to call my husband to pick me up. During the short ride I learned that I am woefully unprepared for cold weather riding, and now I need to invest in a warm biking jacket and gloves (although I wore biking gloves, they are so thin that I literally could not feel my fingers). I hope to get a ride in this weekend.

So, what have I been doing? I've been taking it easy. I have not been doing nothing; that would be unthinkable! Instead, I've been walking the dog everyday, doing the elliptical and crossramp machines at the gym, and using the gym's spin bikes. I've also been doing some weight lifting. It is different for me, not to be swimming, biking or running most days...but I think my body needs this recovery. In a way, it's a blessing to be forced into slowing down a bit.

I also sold my bib to the Carlsbad Half Marathon. I will not Triple Crown next year; I'll do it instead in 2013. That still leaves 5 half marathons and a few triathlons on my agenda for 2012. I'm glad I cut out 3 half marathons!

I hope that the next time I write about my workouts, I'll be back to my triathlon-training self. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my recovery!

December 6, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

I am back from Las Vegas, where I had the most wonderful weekend away. I was debating on whether to break this recap into two different posts---one about all the pre-race activities and one about the race itself--but I think I will make it all fit into one post. Please bear with me on how long this post might get; I have lots to write!

To end any suspense, I had a great race. I ran the best race of my life, and while I didn't hit my ultimate goal of breaking the 2:30 time mark, I DID set a PR (personal record) and finished in 2:30 and change. My previous PR, 2:31 and change, was earlier this past June, at the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon. I am proud to say I set a PR by 1 minute and 9 seconds!

Also, while I had a wonderful experience in Vegas at the race, there were many, many runners who had horrible experiences. Apparently the organizers ran out of t-shirts, medals, and water on the course. The crowds were huge and there was no one to control them. Runners were denied medical aid. Apparently it looked like a war zone in the Mandalay Bay Hotel after the race, with runners puking, passed out, shivering with hypothermia---and no medical aid was available. You can read all of the complaints on their Facebook page, and on blogs such as Charlene's. I am horrified at what happened at this race, and am so thankful that I didn't run into any difficulties. A race of this caliber, put on by a reputable organization such as Competitor, who has been putting on multiple Rock 'n' Roll races for many years, shouldn't allow something like this to happen.

With that being said, let me start my recap!


While driving to Las Vegas was certainly an option for me, since it's about a six hour drive, I was lucky enough to find a cheap flight. The caveat is that the flight left from Long Beach, so I had to drive 90 minutes to get to the airport. I left the house at 6:00 Saturday morning, drove up, and caught an easy one-hour flight to Vegas. I took a cab to my hotel, the Luxor, which I had deliberately chosen for it's very close proximity to the start and finish line. (The race started and finished at the Mandalay Bay, which is right next door to the Luxor. This will come into play later on in my recap).

After checking in and putting my luggage in my room, I immediately met up with Skibba and her daughter, Little Miss. Skibba is a friend of mine who I met on Twitter. We actually met in person in June, when she also ran the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon. We chat on Twitter and often text each other, and it was great to see her again and meet her daughter. Skibba, Little Miss and I caught a cab and went to the expo to get our bibs, schwag, and check out the goods!

I was SO excited to go to the expo. Most of the races I've been doing recently had very small expos, with only a few vendor booths. Some had no expo at all, only a packet pickup. The last two races I did that had big expos (Carlsbad and Rock 'n' Roll San Diego) I was unable to really "do" the expo, as I had my kids with me. This time, it was just me and my friends, and I had all the time in the world to leisurely stroll through the aisles. I picked up my bib and timing chip, got my t-shirt, and received my schwag bag--which had a cool running headlight inside it for running at night. Score! Next, it was shopping time.

As I have written before, my leg has been in a lot of pain recently, and even just walking through the expo was hurting me. I was getting increasingly anxious about running the next day, and got the idea that maybe some compression shorts might help me. I found some at a booth and decided to buy them. I scored some RazzyRoo headbands, on sale for only $10 each. Finally, I stopped by the Another Mother Runner booth, where I bought a t-shirt (it says "Are My Kids Still Chasing Me?") and their book, "Run Like A Mother". I got to meet one of the authors, Sarah, who I tweet a lot with on Twitter (she's a fellow plantar fasciitis sufferer) and she signed my book for me! I got lots of samples of different products. One drink in particular, a cherry juice, tasted good, but gave me a bad stomach cramp. This wasn't good, as I had wanted to eat lunch (all I'd eaten all day was a scone at 6:00 in the morning at Starbucks before my drive up to Long Beach, and a Clif Bar I had in my purse the expo). I needed FOOD but felt too sick to eat anything. After the expo, Skibba, Little Miss and I wandered in the shops at the Venetian. The line for cabs was long, but we lucked out with being able to hire a stretch limo to take us back! Vegas style!

Once back in the room, I rested, read, and enjoyed my solitude. Soon it was time to get ready for dinner. Me, Skibba and Little Miss caught a cab and went to an Italian restaurant, Casa di Amore, where we met up with other friends we've met on Twitter (some of whom we've met before, some of whom we hadn't), including MoonkinRunning, CoachKristieLV, SpeedySasquatch, and SnowVols.

After a yummy pasta dinner, I was ready to go to another meet-up---this time, at the Eye Candy Lounge at Mandalay Bay. I got to meet many of my friends from Twitter, including Sara, Kimberly and Charlene, as well as many of my favorite bloggers such as Becca from See Becca Try to Tri, Emily from Sweat Once a Day, Beth from Shut Up and Run, and Jess from Blonde Ponytail. I met many more people, but I can't remember everyone!

Sara, Charlene and me

Becca and me

me, Beth and Jess

me and Emily
All too soon, it was time for me to go back to my room and get to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and had breakfast with my brother-in-law's parents, who live in Vegas. I hadn't seen them in almost 7 years, so it was a treat! I wanted to fuel for that night's race (I had never run at night before, and wasn't sure what to eat) so I just ordered some oatmeal and an English muffin with peanut butter. After, I wandered around the shops at Mandalay Bay, shopped for treats for my kids, then went back to my room to rest for a few hours. I didn't know what to eat for lunch; I was afraid to eat anything heavy or unknown. I ended up just eating a scone and a banana from Starbucks.

The Race

I had brought two possible outfits to wear to the race, one for cold weather and one for warmer. I decided to wear my capris instead of long pants, and a long-sleeved tech shirt. I also decided to wear my new compression shorts under my capris. Normally, I advocate to wear nothing new on race day (and indeed, this was one of 2 of my racing rules that I broke, the other being that I never practiced running at night) but I had been wearing the shorts since I bought them the day before, even to bed, and felt they were comfortable enough to risk it. I got dressed, taped my feet with KT tape, put on my throw-away jacket and throw-away gloves, filled my fuel belt with Gatorade and Gu, grabbed my iPod and Garmin, and went to Skibba's room to meet her and her daughter. I had brought some glow sticks and we made them into necklaces and bracelets and twisted them into our shoelaces. I also wore a glow-in-the-dark blinking necklace that I borrowed from my daughter.

The hotel was crawling with runners, all staying inside as long as possible (it was COLD outside!) All weekend I was struck by the paradox of runners in Sin City. Vegas doesn't call to mind healthy images for me (I think of casinos and cigarette smoke) yet here were thousands of runners. 44,000 runners to be exact. I had the same feeling back in the 90s when I went to my first Grateful Dead show in Vegas---it was odd to see Deadheads in the casinos. At any rate, the half marathon started at 5:30 (the full marathon had already started at 4:00) and we made our way outside at about 5:15. We were lucky not to have to gear-check; since our hotel was so close to the start/finish line, it didn't make any sense to.

before leaving the hotel room

me and Skibba glowing in the dark
outside before the race, trying to stay warm

We made our way outside and it was BEDLAM! 44,000 runners, all trying to find their corrals.

I was supposed to be in corral 29, but we couldn't really figure out how to get there. We ended up joining another corral, which was made of various people from other corrals. Apparently, no one knew where to go. Finally, we off and RUNNING!

The energy of the runners and the Strip itself was indescribable. Everyone was happy. People were wearing glow sticks, Elvis costumes, and other random costumes. There was a run-through wedding happening around mile 3 on the course, and I saw lots of runners dressed as brides in preparation for their wedding or vow renewal.

Around mile 1 I ran into trouble. My fuel belt was slipping down my pants; for some reason it wasn't on tight. I tried to tighten it, and in the process the whole belt fell off! Some guy behind me had to hurtle over it (sorry!) and I ran back for it. I had visions of my race in Long Beach, when I lost my camera and had to backtrack to find it. I got it back on pretty quickly, got it snug around my waist, but realized that one of the bottles had smashed and I was leaking Gatorade on my hand. I tossed the broken bottle and started running again. In the meantime, I had lost Skibba and Little Miss running ahead of me. I was on my own. I put on my iPod and took in the sights. At mile 2 I was getting hot and took off my jacket and gloves and tossed them to the side.

Running on the Strip, at night, was pretty incredible. We passed by all the hotels, all lit up. Even though it was dark outside, the street was still pretty lit up from all the hotels and casinos! When we passed by the Bellagio, their fountains were in the middle of one of their dance displays. It was pretty spectacular to run by that. There were tons of spectators on the street and lining the pedestrian overpasses. Soon enough, around mile 4, we veered off the Strip and ran a few miles in a seedy back section of Vegas. Even though this wasn't the Strip, it was still fun for me. I tried taking pictures, but most of them turned out fuzzy....running + darkness= bad pictures.

Flamingo Hotel, just one of many we passed

crazy costumed runner

bad shot, but this runner is dressed like Elvis

Meanwhile, I was having the best run of my life. I normally take a lot of walk breaks, but for some reason didn't need to. I usually take my first walk break around mile 3 or so. I rarely run farther than that without a break, even in training. My longest run that I ever did without a walk break was 5 miles and I only did that once. Well, on this race, I didn't take my first walk break until mile 7. MILE SEVEN! I was feeling so good! In fact, I only took 3 short walk breaks during the entire race. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was the fact that it was at night, maybe it was the crowds, maybe it was my mind digging deep...but for whatever reason, I was on fire!

On the negative side, I did notice that many walkers and half marathoners were on the left side of the street, despite being told (and signs stating so) that half marathoners were to stay to the right and marathoners were to stay to the left. I later read that this merge, of the marathon and half marathon, created unsafe conditions for the marathoners, who then had to dodge and weave around slower people. Also, I noticed that some water stations weren't properly manned (I recall one in particular that had no water poured, and volunteers were just then pouring out cups). This is why I always carry my own liquid. Always. You never know if water will for sure be available. Port-o-potties seemed few and far between, and only on the left side of the street, forcing half marathoners to cross into the marathoners' way. Luckily I didn't need to stop for one. And I myself almost ran into a spectator, wearing high heels, who was crossing the Strip (the race course!) to get from one side to the other.

When we turned back on the Strip, I started to get tired. I wasn't used to running for so long without many walk breaks. Miles 11-13 are usually hard for me, both physically and mentally, and this race was no exception. Plus, I was suddenly getting cold again. I was wishing I had my jacket and gloves, but those were long gone. Thankfully the crowds were back, since we were on the Strip, and that gave me energy. I could tell from my Garmin that I was doing well on time and knew that if I could keep it up, I could PR, or maybe even break 2:30. I kept running and running. My leg was hurting, but not terribly, and I chose to ignore the pain. I wanted to PR so badly!

Finally, at mile 13 I could see the finish line in the distance. At this point I really wanted to stop and walk....I was exhausted. I felt like I was going to throw up from the sustained effort. But I had to get to the finish line. People were walking in front of me and I had to weave around them in order to not break my pace. Finally, I crossed the finish line. My Garmin read 2:30. I was thrilled. Not only did I PR, but I was very close to breaking 2:30, only by a few seconds. I know if my fuel belt hadn't fallen off in the beginning of the race I would have made that goal, as I wouldn't have had to waste precious seconds locating my belt and putting it back on. Plus, now that I finished it, I was qualified to join the Half Fanatics, a group I have been coveting membership in (doing 3 half marathons in 90 days qualifies you for the lowest level; I ran my 3 half marathons in 57 days).

After I crossed the finish line, I got my cool glow-in-the dark medal (whew! they later ran out!) and my mylar blanket (which they later ran out of, too). Usually I have no use for the mylar blanket, but this time I was grateful. I was so cold by that point. I was sweaty and now that I was walking, the cold air and wind made me shiver. I called my husband to tell him I was done, and could barely speak to him due to my shivering and coughing. I waited for less than 10 minutes in the line to get my official photo taken, then tried to find food. They had bananas, which I craved, but they were all green. Instead, I grabbed a bagel, a yogurt, and a bag of pretzels. I saw water, which I passed on, but I saw no other food options. I didn't care at that point; all I wanted was to go back to my room.

I finally found my way into the Mandalay Bay, where it was chaos. There were runners all around, but it wasn't nearly as crazy as I heard it got later. I had a hard time navigating my way, but finally I found my way to the casino, and was then able to find the indoor passageway to the Luxor Hotel next door. Others weren't so lucky; because the Strip was still closed, cabs were hard to find. I have read story after story about people not being able to get a cab until midnight, or even 1:00 a.m., despite finishing the race a 8:00. And the restaurants were all packed and had hours long waits. I am SO glad I stayed next door to the finish line. I didn't have to deal with gear check, or finding a cab, or walking back to my hotel.

Once I got to the Luxor, I got on the elevator. I was still feeling nauseous, especially after eating the post-race food. I was on floor 24, and felt sick the whole way up. Someone got off at floor 23, and while we were stopped I had to talk myself into not getting sick in the elevator. When the elevator doors finally opened at my floor, I got out, walked to the wall next to the elevator bank, and laid right down on the floor, using my mylar wrap as a pillow. I was spent. I had used every ounce of energy on the race course. After a minute or so, I got up, stumbled to my room, and was in for the night. I slipped on my compression socks, left on my compression shorts, and slept. I was up early the next morning for my flight home.

All in all, I had a GREAT race, and a FANTASTIC weekend. I have never, ever run so fast or so well. I set a PR. I became a Half Fanatic. I am sad that so many others had horrible experiences, but for me, Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas will always hold a special place in my heart.

December 2, 2011

Erica Sara Designs Giveaway Winner

First of all, thank you to EVERYONE who entered the giveaway with Erica Sara Designs. This was my favorite giveaway I've done...I was so inspired by reading all of the amazing things you are doing to pay it forward and do some good in the world!

Using the random number generator, the winner is Yoli. Yoli, please email me at sugarmagnolia70 at gmail and I will get you in touch with Erica.

Thank you again!

December 1, 2011

Betting on Vegas--and Beyond

In a few days, I leave for Sin City. Sunday night I will be running the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, otherwise known as "Strip at Night", since the race will be run on the famous Las Vegas strip at night. In fact, this is the first year that this race will be at night. I am very excited, both in terms of the race (the lights! the crowds!) and the weekend itself (in addition to just getting away by myself, I am meeting up with lots of friends from Twitter and Dailymile, most of whom I haven't met in real life before).

I am a bit anxious, however. I am injured, yet again. While my plantar fasciitis is better (it's still there, but much better after several ART sessions, stretching and working on my form) I am having pain in my leg. It started during the Silver Strand Half Marathon a few weeks ago, when I had pain in my left glute most of the race. Since then, the pain hasn't really gone away, although it's spread more down my leg. I think it's sciatic nerve pain, which I've had before.

Because of this pain, I am re-thinking my race goals for next year. In 2012, I have 8 (yes, 8!) half marathons on the schedule, not counting the 2-3 triathlons I'd like to do. I'm thinking of cutting those races down to 5; there are 3 races in San Diego (Carlsbad, La Jolla and America's Finest City) that, when you do all 3 in a calendar year, you get an extra medal at the end, called the Triple Crown. I'm thinking now of waiting to Triple Crown in 2013. Those races are local and I can easily do them later, while having some more recovery time in between races might really help me.

Remember, I will have done 3 half marathons at the end of 2011--Long Beach in October, Silver Strand in November and Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas in December. This will qualify me for the lowest level of entry to the Half Fanatics, which I am anxious to join. So, having done these 3 races recently, here is my proposed 2012 race schedule thus far:

January: Carlsbad Half Marathon
February: Surf City Half Marathon
March: Super Seal Triathlon (Olympic distance)
April: Hollywood Half Marathon AND La Jolla Half Marathon
May: OC Half Marathon
June: Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon
July: Solana Beach Triathlon (sprint distance) (this is a "maybe" on my schedule)
August: America's Finest City Half Marathon
September: San Diego Classic Triathlon (Olympic distance) OR Super Frog Triathlon (Half Ironman distance)
October: Portland Half Marathon

Just looking at all of that, it really makes sense for me to take those 3 half marathons off the schedule to allow for extra rest time. I'll make my final decision after running the race this weekend; I have already bought my bib for the Carlsbad race, but can easily sell it.

So, what does this mean for my race in Las Vegas? Well, I'm planning on going all out, balls to the wall, and doing my best. I would LOVE to reach my "A" goal, (well, really my "B" goal) which is to break the 2:30 barrier. I'm planning on taking a few weeks off from running after this race, concentrating instead on biking, swimming and using the elliptical machine. I need to rest my leg and heal more.

So, here are my final goals for this weekend's race:

"A" goal: Finish uninjured (or as unhurt as possible) with a smile on my face
"B" goal: crush the 2:30 time mark (2:29:59 or less)
"C" goal: PR (anything less than 2:31, which is my current PR)
"D" goal: Just have fun and enjoy racing the strip at night

I look forward to updating this on Monday, when I return from Vegas, hopefully with a shiny, new PR!