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On the injured list?

I have been training for the Rock Canyon Half Marathon for awhile now... I knew I needed another goal to get me through the past couple of months. So, a half marathon it was.

I am not sure if I voiced this at all, but I injured my hamstring in August. I spent the 3 weeks leading up to Harvest Moon swimming, biking and elipticalling. It was torture. Then I raced on an owy of a hamstring, but it was my last race of the season, so I plugged through it and did what I could. It was nowhere near the race I wanted it to be, but it was what it was.

After HM, I rested and stretched and eased back into running and I thought my hamstring issues were over. 

HOWEVER, this past weekend my hammy flared up again while running. Great. But, we did 11 miles, and I could have done 2 more, so I figured all was good for the race this weekend. I would just fight through it when it started to ache.

Fast forward to this morning and my track workout. Straight up pain when I tried to run fast. So much that I cut my workout down by more than half (and that is SOOOO not like me).

Now I have a decision to make. To race or not to race. I still have to talk to Charley about it. And I am seeing my dr. in the morning tomorrow. But, all I can say is.... This. Really. Stinks.

Trotting with the Waltons!

Like many others, we have adopted doing a Turkey Trot as part of our Thanksgiving family tradition. When we moved to Colorado we chose the Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5k over various others because it (a) had a kid's race and - probably more importantly at the time - (b) was early enough for us to trot and get home to watch the Packers. Over the past years, the kids have come to grow and love their "turkey race" and we have come to realize how good it is to have that tradition for them.

This year, we signed up before realizing they cut the kids race. Entirely. I emailed the race director who told me that the kids were welcome to walk the 5k. Hmmm... don't think that will fly with my 5 & 6 year olds. Since we had paid, we decided we (the adults) would do the race regardless but I was dreading, absolutely DREADING, telling the kids that there was no race for them. Side note: Countless times this past year Linc has asked me to "wear our turkey shirts" together. Just so proud of doing the race last year.

Fast forward to last weekend and my friend, Tyler, emailed asking if we wanted to be a part of their family trot. Score! It was a sure-fire way to include the kids and get our traditional trot in. (And I wouldn't have to tell Lincoln he couldn't do a 'turkey race' this year.) So we bit our race fees for the first race and opted for fun! And so glad we did.
Tyler = rock star race director (with Josh)
Ross, my dad and the kids ready to run and roll.
Tyler did an awesome job at running the race. He set up a "run Rabbit run" format, so everyone predicted their time and started accordingly so that (in theory) we would all be racing to the finish/finishing together. Ie, if you thought you would run a 40 minute 5k, you would start at 10:10. If you thought you would run a 30 min 5k, you would start at 10:20.
This was a really cool format not only because it allowed for wave starts,
One of the first wave starts
Ross, Dad, Jackson and Hunter!
And they're off!
Probably my favorite wave start picture - I think this is awesome!
The format and the way the course was set up also allowed for great speactating and seeing everyone on the course multiple times.
Getting/giving the love on the course!

Beth and Margaret rocking the race!
Hunter coming around on his first lap.
Ross and Dad coming around!
Run, Jewels, Run!
 I ended up going off in a wave a bit later and running the whole thing with Anne - until she caught me towards the end! She gave me a little "you're coming with me", but my legs did not have it in them. :)
Anne = sweet, innocent and FAST!
We had a lot of great endings as well! From intense to joyous -
Go, Parker, GO!
Nothing like a little competition amongst family...

Margaret and Dave coming into the end
Tyler's dad finishing strong!
This race was PERFECT and gave each participant whatever they wanted. I know this post is filled with pictures, but here my FAVORITE snapshot of the day:

Thanks Tyler and Walton Family for letting the Strand and Phelps family join your celebration. On a day when family means so much, I appreciate you letting us join in on yours.

Santa Came Early!

Since having kids, we have started a rule - NO CHRISTMAS BEFORE THANKSGIVING! Basically, because between November 25th and December 25th ALL we hear about it Santa, toys, Christmas, etc. I know the average person can be overwhelmed with all of the holiday hubbub -- imagine that being repeated over and over (and over) in your household by two little voices continuously for a month. That's my life. And that's where the rule has evolved from.

So, this year, it appears I broke my rule... twice. (And I am kind of excited about it.)

The first time was with the kids, Ross and the Atwells. We enjoyed dinner along with a {gulp} Christmas parade (complete with Santa), a tree lighting, carolers, carriage riding and hot chocolate. It was the perfect night to "get into the season" - it was just a week earlier than I wanted it.
Waiting for the parade - so EXCITED to see Santa!

 Thankfully, there has not been too much collateral damage. With the arrival of my parents for Thanksgiving, the kids have been focused on them and not the jolly, old fat man. Whew! 
They even made a list for Thanksgiving

With that out of the way, I thought I was well on my way to celebrating Thanksgiving with the family, when... Santa stopped by with a gift for me!
A brand, spanking new tri bike! With everyone focused on the holidays coming, their season being over, etc, etc. it appears to be an opportune time to shop for new bikes and great deals. So, with the help of Charley, I sought out a prelim fit to see what bikes might be a good fit for me, did some shopping around and ended up with a smokin' deal from Josh at TriBella and a fit to match! To justify the cost, it will be my Christmas present (and then some), so I thought it was again worth "breaking my rule" and letting Santa visit a little early. ;)

I am so excited about the bike and think it will be the perfect thing to motivate me to get through the winter season and training for IMCDA.  Ross has even made a special spot for it in the basement.
It already feels at home. ;)
So... I guess it is OK for Santa to come once or twice before the gobble, gobbler.

My OFF season

So... it seems appropriate that pretty much my last blog was Harvest Moon - a whopping 7 weeks ago.

I told myself after Harvest Moon, I was taking some time off... and I did. It is the first time in close to 3 years that I haven't been thinking and training for the "next" race. It's not that I don't have some races on my schedule - I do - it's just that I was allowing myself some time to recover, not do too much and take life day by day, not workout by workout.

Planning my workouts went like this: Me: Jane, do you wanna run in the morning? Jane: Sure, how 'bout Cherry Creek? Me: ok. OR Me: Patty, do you wanna bike? Patty: Yes, Wednesday looks like good weather. Me: See you Wednesday. OR Me: AH, I hate this computer. Ross: Go for a run. Me: OK, see you in an hour. You get the drift. And, while I was worried about losing some of my level of fitness, it was quite refreshing at the same time not to have to concentrate on anything other than enjoying it.

And boy did I enjoy it.

Here are some highlights. Well, the tri/running-related ones.
Kicking off my planning for the next year with an IMCDA BBQ.

Yep, I signed up for another Ironman with these characters... and a few others not pictured here.
(They were probably off training.)

Running in the rain at the "Running of the Buffalo".
Me and Charley (coach and race director)
Even won me a Buffalo.
 Coolest. Award. Ever.

Pacing Todd in his 100-miler. YES! 100 miles. I was responsible for keeping him happy/running miles 57-71ish. A very cool experience and I was glad I got to share it with him.
What better way to distract/occupy a runner than by taking pictures. Even if it was pitch black
as we ran through the night.
So, here I sit. I've got one more weekend, till my life returns to a schedule. Well, a workout schedule... I've actually learned a lot by taking some time off. Mostly about time management. By not having a schedule set out for me, I made some choices of my own and learned a lot... In particular, I have learned that I have my father's over-working tendencies. If given the time, I will work, work, work, non-stop! (And be happy about it.) I run my own murder mystery party business - with plenty of work that "can" be done - so it is easy to do. Plus, I love what I do! Having a workout schedule does (and will) balance me out more. A schedule "forces" (for lack of a better word) me to stop working and pay attention to my health and my athletic ambition. So while I enjoyed my time off, I am certainly looking forward to getting back to training on Monday.

A month ago, I don't think I would have thought this... Enjoying my time "off" too much. But now, now it is time to get back to business - and I don't mean the murder mystery kind. :)

Think Different.

Steve Jobs passed away last night. Most know him as the pioneer of Apple. And most started noticing Apple about the time they purchased their first ipod. 4-5 years ago? However, Apple (and inevitably Steve) have been a part of my life for the past 16 years. It has been ingrained in me since I went to Best Buy at age 18 and said, "I want to be a designer" and the salesperson said, "then you need a Macintosh" (what Apple was called back then). At first it was the technology, but as I progressed through undergrad and grad school in advertising and studied the philosophies of both the business and the equipment, it moved me, as it did many other advertising individuals of my time.
An oldy, but goody, just to show that Apple has been committed to change from the beginning.

So what does this have to do with triathlon or running? Well, everything comes full circle. I have left advertising, but do not have to leave what it has given me or how I choose to adapt those philosophies and inspiration to what I do today. Thinking different about my training and races improves not only my physical abilities, but my lifts my mental spirits as well. I was just talking with a girlfriend who remembers me from before I got to know her as "the girl who was doing all that crazy training stuff and races". To me, that wasn't crazy, it just was. Thinking differently did not only make me a better creative, but thinking differently in my life continues to make me a better person, friend, wife, mother, and yes, even athlete. 

Here's another spot. THIS ONE YOU HAVE TO WATCH. The above spot is admired by creatives and mac users of old times, but this one, well, this one should resonate with everyone.

It is not that I am out to change the world,  although after watching this commercial, I think that I need to re-evaluate and think differently about that.

Sun sets on my season with a big 'ole HARVEST MOON

Well, what better way can you think of to celebrate your IRONMANniversary than to do a half Ironman? Ok, so I can think of A THOUSAND other ways to commemorate the occasion, but that is what I happen to choose to do.

Harvest Moon is a half IM that is run at our local reservoir. I have wanted to do this race since we moved out here since I train out there ALL THE TIME. However, Harvest Moon is also run the same weekend as Ironman WI (I {heart} you IMMOO), so the last few years we have been back in Madison this same weekend. Needless to say, I have had HM on my race calendar for the last year.

Despite the anticipation for the race, I really didn't know what to expect. Physically, I am in pretty good shape. BUT, I strained my hamstring about a month before, so I hadn't been running, like at all. Physiology would say I should still be able to pr, but my head was reminding me how hard the course was compared to my pr course (sea level and flat). All that in mind, I went into it with two goals:
(1) To "race" my swim and bike. In the past, I have always conserved energy on my swim and bike, thinking it would help me on the run, but I have come to think that I may get even better results by pushing on the swim and run.
(2) To end up "somewhere around" my pr. Considering (a) my strained hammy, (b) the altitude and (c) that this course is HARD (read: hilly, exposed and windy), I wanted to keep my expectations in check.

The good thing about this race is that I was plenty familiar with the course and plenty familiar with the peeps racing it. Pre-race was pretty low-key– just perfect!
Me, Virginia, Shelly, Stu and Jason.
Started off the swim and all was well. I can't really say much for the swim. The beautiful thing about the Aurora res is that it is so clean you can follow bubbles. I did. Unfortunately, the bubbles/feet led me straight into a kayak, so evidently the feet didn't know where they were going. Oops! So from there on out, I tried siting myself.

This worked well till I turned around. Once heading back to shore, I couldn't tell which buoys I was supposed to be siting off of, so I did my best. At one point, Katy-I-am-EVERYWHERE-Blakemore showed up in her trusty kayak to tell me I was going the wrong way. That helped me out and then I was heading for the big, yellow buoy at the end.

Out of the water, saw Ross and he told me I was doing good (he always tells me that). :)

Onto bike and off on my way. Now, I won't say much about the bike other than it is hilly and windy. However, I know this, so I planned accordingly. Living close to the course, I got a chance to ride it and I could plan for where I was going to hammer it and where to go easy. Thankfully, I did it that way. I rode it smart and didn't hold back. AND, I ended up with a bike pr time, regardless of how windy and hilly it was. Go me!

Onto the run. So here is where the test was. Immediately out of transition and, yep, hamstring still strained. Great. I mean, OW! I worked on keeping getting my heart rate down. To be honest, not a whole lot of people passed me on the bike... and none in my division. That NEVER happens (must be improving on my bike). So I get out onto my run and I hurt. It was hot. No shade. Ugh. OK. Just get through this puppy, I told myself. Walk every aid station if you have to (I did).

I come upon aid station #1 and it is rock, stock and loaded with RMTC volunteers-- YAY! 
#1 tip to racing: If you can get into a race where there is an aid station with all of your tri club or run club homies - do it! So I ended mile one happy, hydrated and doused with water from head to toe. Off to miles 2-13.1.

I proceeded, not feeling the best. Now I was starting to have nutritional issues as well as hamstring issues. So I just plugged along. What I have gotten really good about is assessing my body and what I can push it to for the next "x" number of miles and continuing on at that pace.

At some point Katy-I -am-EVERYWHERE-Blakemore (I didn't mention it, but she was also on the bike course) rode up to chat and give me some encouragement. At that point, I saw her water bottle and contemplated asking her for it. See, I usually run with my own bottle, but figured I was getting stronger and I could just live off the course. Not so. My nutritional issues, I later deduced, were coming from the fact I didn't have my own bottle to sip out of. Instead I was guzzling at aid stations, causing all sorts of weird stuff. Anyways... back to the race.

I worked my way through it. Aid station by aid station. Aid stations were only 1 mile apart, but as I mentioned, it was HOT, so by the next aid station, I needed whatever they were selling. Oy, vey!

At the turnaround was Anne (Tyler's wife). Now the thing I absolutely LOVE about the tri community is the support. We all get it. And we would all do anything to help another racer (ex: Katy-I am-EVERYWHERE- Blakemore giving up her Sunday to, well, be everywhere for everyone). So when I passed Anne, I asked her to take my heart rate monitor (it was chafing bad). As I took it off, I realized how incredibly gross and sweaty it was-DISGUSTING! Anne didn't blink and was happy to help. Now that is love.

OK, onto my way home. The second half was just plug and go. 5-10 minutes behind me I saw Tyler. Cool! We had common time goals and he started 5-10 minutes behind me, so I figured we were both on track. Plug, plug, plug. Just get through the second half. So, I did.

Mile 11 aid station. Jason caught up with me. Wanted to rally me to the end. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep up. I was just getting so bogged down with the water at the aid stations-- but I NEEDED it as well. 

Mile 12. RMTC AID STATION!!! I got a good dousing of H20 on the head and I was home free. That is the ONLY aid station I did not walk through-- onward home!

Hit the end and there were Ross and the kiddos and, yes, A SLIP AND SLIDE!!! I took it like a pro!

And is that where the story ends? Well, yes and no. The race DID officially end there. As did my "season". But I got to hang out with my friends, enjoy the day and get up on an actual podium.
Linc on slip'n slide
What a cutie- him, not me!
Yes, I got 3rd place for my age group. So, I was happy with that. (no pictures of the podium, as Ross was at the beach with the kiddos-- what a good dad.)
On top of that, I reached my goals- I "raced the swim and bike" with no repercussions on the run (ie, I think the run would have turned out the same regardless of if I had conserved before) and a pr for me.

And what, per se, was my PRIZE for 3rd place? What did they award me for all of my hard work, diligence and contribution for the sport?
Wine. How appropriate.
The perfect way to kick off my "off season". What is that?


It was earlier this week and I got a text from a friend. It just said "Can you believe it's been almost a year?". I immediately knew what she was talking about.
Me and Courtney ready to take on Ironman WI 2010
 2 years ago, Ross and I took a fateful step and signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2010... and last year we completed it.

A year later, I look back at our year of training and the event itself-- they were EPIC.
** I know the word epic is overused, so I looked it up in the thesaurus for synonyms. Here's what I found: astronomic, colossal, considerable, enormous, gigantic, ginormous, humongous*, jumbo, mammoth, massive, mega, monster*, monumental, prodigious, sizeable, tremendous, vast, very big, very large, whopping. (Who knew ginormous was actually a word?) I guess those would describe it as well.

What did I REALLY get out of the training and the event? Was it just bragging rights?

Starting: I thought so. I wanted to be an "Ironman".
Looking back: No way.

It's indescribable what I gained and learned over the year. Yes, my swim/bike/run form improved, as did my discipline, my drive and my dedication. Not just to sports, but to the other areas in my life.

Training not only taught me how to manage my time, but also how to improve the uses of it. While I am sure I spent less time at work, the time I did spend was more concentrated and I got more done. The time with my kids was cherished and special.

Among the other benefits I received from training:
  • Meeting amazing people along the way
  • Having goals and achieving them
  • Committing yourself to one purpose
  • Trying new things
  • Following through
  • Putting myself out there
  • Overcoming fear of failure
But most importantly, the support of others. This experience, and sharing it with my family and friends, brought to light how much they care about me and are willing to support me along the way. My mom crewing me in a 50, friends pitching in to watch the kids on big workout days, the turnout of friends and family at the event (AMAZING!) and those online. That is what I will always remember.

For anyone on the fence about doing an Ironman, I say DO IT!
 Everyone's journey through the experience is different and yields different results. You may go into the experience thinking that it will be a certain "way", it won't. You can plan all you want, but the experience will bring you what it does. While I thought that the year and my accomplishments would center around my swim/bike/running, it didn't. It was the emotional and spiritual benefits, not my fitness, that I will always remember and take with me. Even for those who sign-up and train and never make it to the finish line, the experience for those people too, will bring them more knowledge about themselves than most other experience in a lifetime.

If an Ironman were just about bragging rights, no one would do more than one.

Volunteering Rattlesnake!!!

I opted not to do the Rattlesnake Back2Back due to time commitment, but then I ended up volunteering for the sprint on Sunday so... go figure that one out? Anyways, it was a real fun time I had and volunteering at a race is always a blast.

The morning started out with Keith and Tom and I hanging by the swim beach soaking it all in. The sunrises out at the res are always awesome!
Another awesome sunrise at the res
Chillin' before the chaos begins
Then it was up into transition to start kicking people out and down to the beach. Here I ran into friends, including Michelle and Jon, whom I haven't seen all season. After catching up with them, I took on my volunteering duties and went to the swim beach to help out. Basically, I was letting people know the swim course and when (approximately) to get into the corral.
One of the best lane buddies a girl can have.
After making sure that everyone was safely in the corral, I headed over to the swim exit to lend my expertise in STRIPPING!!!  Get your mind out of the gutter... think this:
I have only been to 3 races with strippers and the other 2 were quite a lot longer distances, so I think that it is a real novelty to have wetsuit strippers at races and I was happy to help out.

And, boy did I have fun. I really do like to feel useful and this was position that allowed me to do so. Knowing the race mentality of some of the more competitive racers, I was all over helping out those who wanted to be quick and speedy. (Michelle even told me I was the best wetsuit stripper she had ever had. What an honor.) I got it down to a science of where to grab on the wetsuit and yanking just so to get the suits off with the least resistance and all.

But then there were also those racers who were stumbling up the beach, depleted after the swim, barely even able to get their wetsuit unzipped. Those racers I slowed down and helped out every which way I could. From unzipping, to helping get their arms out, to pulling it off. I did everything I could to get them in there and out of there efficiently without making them feel rushed.

It was awesome and I had such a fun time. The one thing I didn't realize about wetsuit stripping is you get COMPLETELY soaked. Like drenched. Water is flying at you from their wetsuits. When all was said and done, minus the mostly dry hair, I looked like I had just done the swim, seriously.
Your Rattlesnake stripper extraordinaires. You can't tell, but we are all soaked through.
After the last swimmer came through, it was onto the run to cheer people out onto the run and then a little bit later to the finish. I was excited to see the Ford family and catch a shot of Michelle as she headed into the finish looking strong!
Michelle finishing strong!!!
Is that a smile?
Then to hang with everyone else as the race finished. It was great to see all the Back2Back'ers and the smiles on their faces that they finished. It is a unique and interesting challenge and the race director always gives the back2back'ers something special. This year it was a very sweet running jacket and I was super-bummed I missed out on that! Next year...

While I didn't get to do the "official" back2back, I made my own back2back racing and volunteering!
Treat I found for the race... I thought it was appropriate.
Time to celebrate a great weekend!
Yum! If only every race could have a shot named after them.