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Today ends an era. I must say goodbye to my faithful Fuel Belt.
Now, I know this seems silly, but I have had this thing through thick and thin. In the past 8 years, anytime I have run over 8 miles, I have brought it. In the heat, it is with me over 5. It is always there, filled with whatever I need to keep me going. I stuff it with gels, Shot Blocks, Nuun, Starbursts, Endurolytes, ibuprofen, money, keys, cell phone... not to mention fluids. It has seen countless water bottles go in and out of it, but it remains the same. It has supported me through 13 marathons and thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of training miles. It has traveled the world with me on trips from Texas to Hawaii to Barcelona. In fact, it has traveled more with me than Ross. So when I was training for this last marathon, it looked like it was almost time to go.

See, I knew it wasn't doing the best. About a year ago, not wanting to say goodbye, I had done a little repair.
My sad state of stitching the velcro back on.

But now it looks like the elastic is going too, something that I can't replace. The more I looked at it, I realized just how far it had been stretched. Over and over, sad really. It was destined to break through at any point.

Because you are always supposed to "race like you train", I didn't want to race with a new belt. I said a quick little prayer that it would get me through one more race (Phoenix) and it did.

Now with Phoenix over, it is time to say goodbye to my little buddy and move on. While he can never be replaced, I am looking forward to lots of running miles with my new pal, a Nathan with room for TWO water bottles.

Rest in peace, my dear Fuel Belt.

Phoenix Phun!

Eight years ago this weekend, I ran my first marathon in Houston. It was all thanks to my friend, Jessie, who said "wanna go on vacation and we'll just run a marathon while we are there?". Hmm? At the time, I had not run over 5 miles. But I am always up for a challenge. And, thus, my marathoning began.

So this past September, I said "wanna go to Phoenix to run a marathon?" and Jessie was game. :) Plus, now living cross country from one another, it gave us a weekend to hang out, talk and reconnect. Yay! Jess flew in to Denver on Friday afternoon and we reunited for our trip. Trashy magazines and Red Vines- staples for all trips we take together.

With the race in mind, Saturday we spent doing all the pre-race duties like getting our packet from the expo,

And getting into the 'spirit' of the race by rockin' out.

That night was a pasta party with a bunch of running friends from Denver. After signing up with Jess, I kept finding runner after runner coming down to Phoenix. My friend Sonja was in the same boat, so we set a place, time and location and wa-lah! 20+ runners, support people, etc. out for dinner. It was the perfect way to get some good food, ease some pre-race tension and just hang out with friends. I was also excited to spend some time with Dana & Dan. It was going to be Dana's first half marathon-- and I kind of talked her into it... so I was happy she could meet us out. Plus, Dan (her hubby) got some spectathlete coaching from Sonja to help his day go smoother as well. Side note: HIGHLY recommend Harley's Italian Bistro if you are looking for good Italian in Phoenix. YUM!

All hugs and smiles before our race.

The morning came too quickly and I was off to the race. Jessie was doing the half (which started later) so, I got a ride down to the race with Sandy and Michelle. Thankfully, it wasn't too cold, so it made the waiting bearable.

While there, I went for a little warm-up run. Yes, more mileage before the race. It was something new to try, but I did it and I think I like it. It kinda jiggled out the nerves and I think it helped me so I didn't start out too fast.

Coming into the race, I really didn't know what to expect. I feel like I have been training for the Ironman, and this race just happened to pop-up. While that relieved some nervousness about it, I really didn't know what to expect. Since I am swimming and biking more, I have been running less than normal when training for a marathon. Not to mention that I have been feeling less than fast lately.

So earlier in the week, I talked with my coach and set some goals:
- Trying to negative split. (Run the second half faster than the first.)
- Trying to finish the race around a 4:10.

To accomplish these, we came about with a general race strategy of starting off at a 9:50 pace for the first 5 miles, working up to and staying at a 9:30 pace for the majority and then, hopefully, pulling in below that pace for the last few miles ~ so averaging about a 9:30 pace, if possible. This would end me with about a 4:10.

Back to the race. Although I knew multiple people running it, we all had different paces and goals in mind. So, after meeting up in the morning, we all wished each other well and dispersed into separate corrals. This helped as I could focus on me and what I wanted to do.

I started out a little fast for what I had intended, but got my pace down by mile 3. At mile 5, I upped my pace up to around 9:30s and kept it there. Since I was deliberately going slower, I really felt like I was "holding back" for the majority of the race. Somewhere between miles 5 and 10, I decided that I had about 8 miles of pushing in me and that I would hold my 9:30s till mile 18 and then push. I hit mile 18 and pushed. While I felt like I was pushing a lot more, my pace only dropped about 20 seconds. But, hey! that was a drop and I was happy. I kept on like this till the end of the race, slowly quickening my pace and finishing with 4:07:40-- yay!

So, that was it. I did it! I was very happy that I had goals and that I met them. I was also happy to see that my level of fitness was probably better than what I expected.
Part of the gang after.

As for the race in general, I would recommend it. There were lots of people, maybe too many for me for the pre and post activities (35,000 total). While our race course wasn't crowded, I heard the 1/2 was VERY congested. The bands along the route were great. There were even some "unofficial bands" that played along the way. Very entertaining. I enjoyed the humor of most of the announcers. There was tons of support along the way. And they gave out salt packets at 2 aid stations- yum. I had never had that before in a marathon, but it really helped. I think that I will add salt packets (like those you get from fast food restaurants) to my race belt. And the course was flat, flat, flat. While the course itself wasn't pretty, Arizona is. As you can see, they have lotsa funky cactii.
And nothing makes a better post-race celebration than good Mexican food (which Arizona has plenty of)... and margaritas!
Besides friends! Thanks to all (Jessie, in particular) for such a fun weekend! Cheers to a good race and great weekend!


I don't know if it is the weather, the nagging cold I had, all the miles indoors (treadmills and trainers), or just the amount of miles in general, but, while it is all going good, I am feeling extra slooooow and less than snappy.

I have been told by others who have gone through the same big base building phase to expect that. To expect my speed to drop and to feel like it is a bit of setback, and that one day it will just 'click'. So, that has eased the frustration with the speed a little. Lately though, I have found myself getting antsy, waiting for my 'click' to happen.

But, here's what helped. I was talking to my friend Sonja the other day (triathlete superstar). She pointed out that I was focusing on the wrong thing (speed) when I shouldn't be. Side note: Everyone needs a cheerleader, and she is often mine. Thanks, SON!

Anyways, what she suggested was tabulating my totals of how much I was doing. Total mileage. After all, that is what base building is about: distance, not speed. (There is a reason it is called LSD ~ long, SLOW distance.)

So, here it is, my totals from the last few months.

Disclaimer: Some distances are guesstimated b/c I sometimes train on time. Ie: ride 3 hours, swim 45 minutes, etc. but I erred on the side of shorter than longer.

Swim: 22,300 yards (12.7 miles)
Bike: 220 miles
Run: 107 miles

Swim: 23,700 yards (13.5 miles)
Bike: 158 miles
Run: 105 miles

Swim: 25,000 yards (14.2 miles)
Bike: 220 miles
Run: 125 miles

TOTALS: for Oct-Dec
Swim: 71,000 yards (40.34 miles)
Bike: 598 miles
Run: 337 miles

Put that way, I'm not feeling so bad about myself.

Not to mention, I have done my LONGEST swim (4900 yds), LONGEST ride (78.25 miles) and LONGEST run (27 miles) EVER last month. Although, I know it will only get longer.

Here's to more happy (and hopefully faster) miles!

New Years Resolutions

As the new year is upon us, it is the time a lot of people set their race schedule... Including me. I have had a tentative race schedule for awhile, but recently had some friends propose some different challenges that I added, so I am excited for the year to come.

January 17th ~ Phoenix Rock'n Roll Marathon

A fun weekend away with an old girlfriend in the warm weather. The perfect mini-vacation. You also have Jessie to thank for my endurance-junkiness. We had a similar trip to Texas in January 2002 where I ran my first marathon.

April 3rd ~ Croom Fool's Run (Florida)
A 50 MILE RUN! That's right. I'll be training for this one... And, no, I don't know how long it will take me, so check back to see how I do. Excited to be spending the weekend with my mom and running with (hopefully) my Moab companion and my GB-turned-Floridian friend!

April 19 ~ Running in the Grand Canyon
Childcare pending, we (Ross and I) hope to join our crazy tri friends who plan to run from rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon (46 miles total ~ 32 of it ascending/descending). We are excited to be running through o of the seven natural wonders of the world! Where we are in our training will determine how much of the run we do!

May 9 ~ Rev3 Half Ironman
Off to Knoxville to visit with Grandma Sue and Grandpa Al and experience a new kind of tri that is "focused on offering a fun, first class race experience for the whole family". Plus, we get to race through an amusement park!

June 6 ~ Kansas 70.3
Now we visit Grandma Diana and Grandpa Gary and experience our first "Ironman-sponsored" experience. We'll see if it is worth the price tag. :)

July 18 ~ Door County Half Ironman
Back to Wisconsin to race in beautiful Door County!!! The following week, we plan to relax in Ellison Bay, so let us know if you wanna visit. We have a huge property rented!

Aug 1-4 ~ Rocky Mountain Bike Tour
A lotta, lotta climbing. This tour will take me over many of Colorado's peaks, including Mt. Evans (14,990 ft). Oy boy! I am hoping the hills in Wisco will pail in comparison after this ride. 4 days and 272 miles of challenging riding! Excited to be doing it with my friend from GB!

That all this leads up to...


We look forward to racing with all of our friends and family there for support as we complete one LONG day, including a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. This has been a bunch of years in the making and will be the most challenging thing that we have (training) and will have done. I am happy to say this is a goal that Ross and I have set together and supported each other along the way. I am blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive and motivating husband.

Here's to a great year of experiences, races and personal growth!!!