August of Awesome (Rewind)



Miles Run - 151.04. My highest mileage month of the year!! (By quite a bit, and significantly higher than the last few months). Thanks to RLRF, my training seems to have improved. Not seeing an improvement in race times, but during my 3 "quality" runs during the week I can run longer without it sucking. Excited about that!

Races Run - 2 (2 half marathons)

PR's Set - Big. Fat. Zero. I had hoped to at least beat my time at GTIS over last year (only HM I've run twice). Fail. And Diva's was RIDICULOUSLY hard. :(

Minutes of Plank - 93. Yep, you read that right. 93 minutes. I didn't miss a single day of planks and I'm now up to 3 minutes a set. Unsure if next month I'll bump up to 4 minutes a set. Thoughts?




As much as I enjoy summer, I'm looking forward to some cooler temperatures. I really struggle in this heat! I'm super SUPER excited for my Disney weekend! And... my crazy 50 mile race is less than a MONTH away. Freakin!!



Outside of running...



To summarize (or if you are new to my blog), I went back to school and so far it is AWESOME. I love it. I'm taking 9 credit hours (6 in Criminal Justice and 3 in Sociology). The goal is another BA (in Criminal Justice). It should hopefully take just 2-2.5 years since I already have a BA and don't need to take any "fluff" classes.



A is loving Kindergarten and learned to ride her bike without training wheels!

Do You Believe in Karma?

Ever hear the phrase "good things happen to good people?" Well, I consider myself to be pretty decent (and I think I'm a good judge of character :D). But yet so much "bad stuff" seems to happen to me. I've had a rough few days, and another struggle came to my household this morning. J's car was stolen last night. From our driveway. I think we live in a pretty quiet neighborhood. And yet. Many of you probably don't know that before my ex and I bought our first house I also had a car stolen. From right in front of my apartment. It just sucks. Why do people do stuff like this? Maybe I was a dictator in a previous life? Anyway, a bummer of a morning. Luckily I still have my old jeep so J had a way to get to work. But still.



School is going... FABULOUSLY though. I got my first grade today!!







Yep. 110%. I don't do ANYTHING half assed.



And of course it was TKB night at the gym which meant another race shirt:







This shirt has a pretty cute fit, but too short to comfortably wear to kickboxing and it was THICK. This was from a Mother's Day 9.9k race. Yes, you read that right. 9.9k, NOT 10k. Because that would be crazy.



AND.



Surprise... A and I have changed our outfits for the family 5k. It's going to be so unbelievably awesome. I am PSYCHED.

Verbal Creativity

I've recently been concerned about the amount of times I hear my children say



'I hate'



especially when they are arguing with each other and it becomes



"I hate YOU."



I've told them that hate is a serious emotion and should be reserved for truly repulsive things (like sadistic dictators, or possibly cane toads) and doesn't need to be wasted on simple objects such as broccoli, the colour puce or even homework, and certainly should not be directed towards family members.



People in general tend to use quite a narrow selection of words when they want to describe something. Some of our neighbours, for example, don't seem to know ANY adjective that doesn't start with the letter "f" (and rhymes with truck). 'Nice' and 'good' are a couple of other overused adjectives. Similarly, my children don't seem to know how to describe their feelings except in the extremes of 'love' and 'hate'. I try to get them to think of another word that could be used instead, but so far the vocabulary levels are remaining fairly constant.



Except in the case of "I hate YOU." I have banned this phrase in our house and somehow my youngest four girls have managed to creatively string together a few innocent words which are just as bad, if not worse.



Mousie might say to Kitcat, who is annoying her, "You're my worst little sister!" Now Mousie only has two little sisters so you wouldn't think it was such a big deal. Kitcat didn't think so, though. She screamed like she'd been slapped.



Ducky has been heard to say to Teddy, "Out of the whole family, YOU are at the bottom of my liking list." This also produced the desired effect, which was to make Teddy dissolve into tears.



But by far the worst insult they have devised to replace "I hate you" is the one I've been hearing far too frequently lately - "You're my least favourite person in the whole world!"



Somehow this makes "I hate you" seem almost tame. It's one thing to 'hate' someone, but to say they are worse than every single other person on the planet is taking the insult to a much higher level. It's pure spite delivered with the sole intention of wounding.



Not exactly the kind of creativity I like to encourage.



Does anyone have some words of wisdom/advice for me?

Gonna Make You Sweat... and ALMOST time for Disney!


Costume reveal... part 2.








RLRF (MP, WK4, KR1)



I was PSYCHED when I saw my repeats were FINALLY going to be 400s. I've been doing 800s and 1600s and was looking for something shorter. Only. It wasn't much easier than the longer sprints.








Goal: 10-20 min warmup @ sub 11:09 - Actual: 20 min @ 1034


Goal: 10 x 400 @ 2:09 (400 RI @ 2:45) - Actual: 2:03, 2:03, 2:01, 2:01, 2:01, 2:00, 1:59, 1:59, 1:58 and... 1:46! and (2:44, 2:45, 2:45, 2:44, 2:43, 2:55, 2:43, 2:45, 2:44, 2:45)


Goal: 10 min cooldown @ sub 11:09 - Actual 1 mile @ 10:15


Total - 7.89 miles in 1:14:39










I know that is not SUPER fast, but I bet that is the fastest pace I've ever run for longer than a minute. And for that I'm pretty proud of myself. Only one more run until DISNEY!!

Walz Cycling Caps Review

Walz Cycling Caps Review



IMAGE SOURCE
Ever have helmet-head hair after a ride?  Felt stupid sitting in the cafe after a ride because your hair looks like something from a punk rock video?  Does your head freeze during those cold morning rides.  I have just that hat to fix these problems and look great while do it.  :-)
For my birthday I received a wool, cycling hat from Walz Caps and was greatly impressed.  Their quality and materials are great.  They also have a wide variaties of cool materials (cotton blends, wool, moisture wicking, eco-friendly, etc).  They can even personalize and/or custom make you a hat.  Even better is these caps are handmade in the USA. 



This is the wool cap I received for my birthday!
IMAGE SOURCE

I have to say their customer service is above and beyond.  My noodle size was in the middle of the sizing chart so I ordered a small/medium.  When I received the cap it was a little too small.  I called Walz up and they immediately sent me a size large/x-large.  They then told me if that was too big they would custom sew me one to my size if needed.   I received the large and it was only slightly too large so I threw it into the washer and it came out the prefect size. 
Walz Caps are awesome and they are great people.  I would highly recommend ordering some caps from them.  I tried to score a discount code for my readers but their shopping cart system does not currently support it. 
BTW - thye have free shipping and can personalize and/or custom make caps.

Come On, Irene: Peach Pie

We filled up a 5 gallon tub of water, put our small basement freezer (the one with the breastmilk library) on cinder blocks, removed most of the stuff from our porch, bought a few containers of shelf-stable milk, and hunkered down to wait.  In the end, we were lucky. Hurricane Irene came and went, and though at 2 a.m. it was an impressive--even scary--storm, the worst of it for us was a little bit of water in our basement, where it always gets wet anyway when it rains hard. We lost power for a few hours, and I was sweating, thinking about the freezer, but it came back on at around 3:30, and I fell asleep in about five minutes.

Other people we know didn't fare so well: our neighbor across the street had the fire department come help her pump our her basement last night when we lost power, my friends dealing with the heart transplant also have a flooded basement, FB friends in northern NJ are dealing with broken and flooded dams, and my mother has been told she'll be without power until next Sunday.  The good news is that people are helping each other out.  There is something about crisis that drags people out of their houses and away from their facebook feeds (not that one can't help there, too, like they're doing over at Bloggers Without Borders for a fellow blogger with two little girls who just lost her husband to a suddden heart attack).  Disasters put things in perspective, remind us of what we do have, even while we're entitled to hope for something more or something different.  I hope that right now if you're in a place to do so, you can lend a hand to someone who needs it; that support is part of what I love about the blogging community.

I think, in part, we were lucky because Irene is the name of my grandma-in-law, and she always took good care of me, until she could no longer care for herself. I never knew my real grandparents, but my uncle's wife's mother was the best stand-in I could ask for. She was a matriarch, a woman who ruled her house with a wooden spoon and a rolling pin.  It was Grandma Irene who let me stay up to see my first New Years' Eve and have a sip of champagne, raised me on coconut bread and pumpkin pie. The kitchen was her domain, and I was one of the few people she'd allow to go in there while she was cooking. My book of recipes still has some of her favorites, scrawled in her handwriting.


Our CSA has been sending us peaches each week, and this week I simply couldn't keep up, since we also had a watermelon and a cantaloupe to eat.  S. doesn't like cooked peaches, but I decided to make a pie anyway and hope for the best.  The verdict was positive: he said it was actually pretty good, and my son, who has been awfully vocal about his perpetual hunger of late, had three pieces.  (We are reading Farmer Boy together at bedtime, and I've been struck by how often the nine year old boy talks about eating, and what enormous meals he eats.  I. has been reveling in the descriptions, saying, "mmmm, that sounds good.  I'm hungry.")

So in honor of my grandma Irene, who was a hurricane in her own right ... if you still have power, bake one of these up and take it over to share with a neighbor.  It's a little lower in sugar than some other recipes I've seen, letting the flavor of the peaches themselves shine through.

Tell us ... how did you fare in the storm, if you're on the East Coast?  Have you ever had to weather a natural disaster?  Do you have a Grandma Irene of your own?

Fresh Peach Pie

Pie crust

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. oil (canola or very mild olive)
1/4 - 1/2 c. boiling water

Filling

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3.4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 T. butter, at room temperature
8 to 10 large fresh peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 egg whisked with 1 Tablespoon water (or a little milk of choice if you don't eat eggs)
course sugar for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fork together flour and salt, make a well for the liquids. Combine oil and water (I know, they don't mix) and dump them into the flour. Fork together all of the ingredients until it forms a ball. If you need to add more flour and water, do so. The dough should be a little bit springy. Divide the dough in two balls, roll one out and place one in a 9" pie pan.

In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender or fork to combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Mix until crumbly.

Scoop one layer of peaches into crust. Top with some of the crumbly sugar mixture. Layer more peaches and more crumbles. Continue until you've used up all of your peaches and crumbles. Roll out your second pie crust, and top your pie as desired. I cut mine into strips and created a lattice topping. If you'd like to cover the pie completely with the 2nd crust, just be sure to cut a few slits into the top crust to give that crust a chance to breathe while baking. Crimp the edges decoratively.

Brush the top with the egg wash (or with milk), and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you wish (I skipped this part).

Bake on the center rack in the oven for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. I start checking on my pie at 45 minutes, just to make sure the crust isn't browning too quickly and all looks good. Then I check every 15 minutes until I'm satisfied that it's done. Mine took an hour and 10 minutes, and it was nice and golden brown along the crust with the peach filling bubbling a bit in the center.

Cool until ready to eat.

Last of the summer 'whine'... or is it?



WHAT!? You're shitting me! I've been asleep for over two months and missed July & August!? Really? Did I miss anything?
No?!
That's alright then!

Sadly, I ain't been indulging in some humanistic hibernation during the summer or been in the slammer or taking refuge in some dark remote Scottish glen away from the spell bindingly annoying cunts who frequent the current birding scene (hmm the latter may actually have a little bit of truth in it).....Nope, I can honestly and proudly inform you that I've mearly been a lazy twat who for the last couple of months had lost all enthusiasm for birding!

Ok, I'd ventured out for a few bits of shit like a Red Footed Falcon in D*rbyshite (22nd June), some vocal Quails close to home (24th June) and a White-arsed Sandpiper in Cleveland (23rd July) but patch watching/general birding had almost become a very distant & hazy figment of my Vino Rouge induced imagination.

I was also forced by my inner insidious self to visit the Nerdwatching Fayre at Rutland Water (20th August) - This in itself made me actually question my involvement with this hobby. The myriad of tents, bellends, fuckwits, foreign holiday flogging buskers and general cheesy faced twats is and will always be birding purgatory but still like a moth drawn to the proverbial, I/we drag ourselves there every year!



So, that was my summer really, there's probably been a few other interesting things occur but I've consumed far too much Rouge Juice that my memory banks have fizzgogged and popped and now they hold nothing more than a few vague recollections of drunken evenings spouting mentalist bollocks on FaceBook!
Anyhow, in an effort to cleanse my mind, body & soul (and my liver), I've crawled out of my slumber and will now attempt to drag myself kicking, spitting, smoking & screaming back into the scene. It's nearly September and as most are aware, that's when them good birds are found, vis-migin' is in full swing and anything can turn up anywhere, so I'm gonna get my motor serviced, start watching what I'm spending, get my optics dusted & polished and try & work out how to use this new digital camera...

Now all I need is some of you useless cunts to get out and find me some quality to go & look at! Go Go Go!!

Gary Thomas - The Song Is You (5/90)

Big thanks to vocalist Lorin Benedict for sending this along. Dennis Chambers' drumming on this is crazy!


I'm still here......

I’ve been avoiding writing here in my blog.  I keep thinking that I will share things when I really get a grasp on it.  Yet do we ever get a grasp on it?  It’s the journey, I suppose.  In my journey, I have been SO blessed.  But it is also SO hard.  Like I’m sure it is for everyone.  I have been experiencing times of eating good and times of making bad food choices.  I am now 15 pounds heavier than my goal and I do not like that.  I do NOT want to gain my weight back.  I do NOT want to go back into a negative, self-loathing state.  I am in a new place and a new environment and I have to work HARDER now to keep the positive momentum I started.  I had so much motivation in Oregon and here I find myself stumbling to find my motivation.  I am new.  I am unknown.  I am isolated.  But I don’t have to stay that way.  One of my Oregon friends reminded me a while ago that I am not unknown to Him (Jesus Christ).  I am not forgotten by Him.  And she is right.  It is through my Savior that I was able to reach the unimaginable goal of losing my weight.  I cannot ever forget that!  And it is through Him also that I will keep this weight off and not get drawn back into a life of sadness and sorrow and self-hating.
I went to a women’s fireside this morning and heard a mother/daughter speak and sing to us about their trials and faith.  Their story was amazing and inspiring and I found myself weeping.  One thought that the daughter shared was that our suffering comes from seeking our will over God’s.  That following God’s will won’t take our pain away but it will take away our suffering.  I’ve also thought about the concept that when we suffer, it can mean that we need to repent.  I first talked about in the first weeks of my journey back in this post.  At first that sounds preposterous because it isn’t always our fault when we are made to suffer.  Yet maybe it’s our lack of not forgiving someone else, or not handling a situation as we know God would want us to that makes us suffer.  There is still so much pondering on that I need to do.  
A friend sent this Youtube link.  It was everything I needed to hear set to some beautiful music and I’m so thankful she sent it.  I’ve watched it several times and  written the words down so I can remember them.  Although these are words from a leader of my Faith, I think someone may also be needing to hear these words and be inspired as I was.
What does all this have to do with health and weight loss?  For my journey, it has everything to do with it.  Because my journey has been one of letting go my will and turning to my Savior and submitting to His will.  Miracles have happened in my life because I have turned to Him.  It’s about changing me on the inside as well as the outside.  I know that I NEED HIS help to do this!
A couple fun things to share.  We had a fun time with family at the park the other day.  I love being closer to my sister and sister-inlaw.  I even practiced playing baseball for the first time in years the and I can still hit a ball pretty far!  It was way fun.  

Also, Brent and I rode our bikes for a 10K the other night and I didn’t even break a sweat.  That felt good.

 And, we had some good friends from Oregon visit us just yesterday... our first to do so!  We had dinner and played games and laughed a lot.  We were overjoyed to see them... and I secretly wanted them to stay for several days.  It was so nice to see their friendly faces from our Oregon “home”.  Life is good!

Foto Friday!




20 miler. Pre-sweat.

RLRF (MP, WK5sub, KR3)




Goal - 20 miles @ MP + 20 (11:02)


Actual - 20.68 miles @ MP +10 (10:52)


Total time - 3:45





So did you know it takes forever to run 20.68 miles at that pace?  Treadmill will only do 65 minutes before it needs to be reset. FOREVER.








So I'm only 5'0" tall, don't think I'm anorexic or anything. But wow. I haven't weighed under 110 since pre-puberty. Unsure if this is good or bad. But my weight has gone down from my average 115 since I started the RLRF program a month ago. Maybe I need to eat more?






Tweedledee!!


You know you want to run with me at Disney! Don't you??







A's new bike!

My ex actually sent A a gift card for a new bike (SHOCK!!) We picked it up today and as you can see, she is super excited. Mostly because of the doll/plush carrier. You can see "puppy" thoroughly enjoying himself.



Have a great weekend!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Part II

Remember this?

I saw them again! Looks like they've neatly removed the first part of the decal. And added a taxi light (kind of cut off at the top of the pic). Must've been better for business.

DSCN6256





How to Spot a Truly Malnourished Individual

Recently, we were talking about our sponsored child, Talent, from Zimbabwe. Teddy asked if he was in this photo.



As this photo was taken in Papua New Guinea sometime around the 1950s, I told her "No, Talent isn't in the photo. And beside, some of these young children are malnourished. Talent has good healthy food to eat because that's part of the reason we send him money through Plan International every month.""That little boy looks like he's had plenty to eat," Teddy said, pointing at the distended belly of the little chap in the background.



"His tummy isn't round like that because he's full," I explained, "That's actually a sign that he hasn't had enough healthy food to eat. See how thin his arms are? And look at his rib bones. See, they are almost sticking right out through his skin."



Teddy did have a very good look before her attention was claimed by the next photo. As I saw which part of the picture drew her main focus (man in centre front) I expected another question was imminent. As Teddy drew breath I was preparing my answer as to why the man had a bone stuck through his nose. But instead Teddy pointed at him and made this comment:
"That man must be really, really badly malnourished because you can actually see his rib bones sticking right out through his nose!"






Seriously, though, it is appalling that so many children live in poverty, die from malnutrition or preventable disease, have no clean water to drink, no decent clothes to wear and cannot afford to attend school. If you've ever thought about sponsoring a child, consider doing so through Plan International.

Shreds of Summer: Korean Zucchini Pancakes

I'm not sure what it is lately, but I've been a pretty negligent blogger.  Part of it is the CSA.  Apparently, the universe is having the last laugh after all of my complaining about chard last summer: we have had eight (8) weeks straight of mostly zucchini/summer squash (which might as well be the same thing, in my book) and cucumber this year.  I've eaten about as many cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches as I can stand.  I've also just about exhausted the variations on squash-for-dinner, and I hate to subject you, my dear readers, to yet another one.  (I will anyway, but that's besides the point.)

But the other part of it is that life has sort of gotten away from me this summer.  Here's a quick update, in shreds, like the zucchini waiting to be added to the next round of dinner.

*          *          * 

I always get an itch to chop off my hair at this time of year.  It must be something about the beginning of the academic year; working in academe for 12 years has irrevocably tied my biorhythms to the academic calendar.  I got a sort-of job offer about four weeks ago now, back at the same university I'd left, working for a very different group of people, doing something that's quite a bit different.  Down side: huge salary cut, too much to justify day care for two plus the commute.  Up side: they're trying to work something out.  Down side: I'm in employment limbo.  I guess I'm preparing myself for the first day of school, just in case.

*          *          *

My son I. will turn five this year, and he's decided that he wants a friend-party this time, all about space.  We're doing a party at home, and I have been scouring the internets for party activity ideas.  So yes, among other things, I'm making cereal-box jet packs (complete with NASA stickers; now THAT was a find) and molding baking soda paste around small astronaut figures, which I am baking into "moon rocks," to be hunted for in a kiddie pool full of balloons.  Partygoers will drop said "moon rocks" into vinegar, oooh and aaaah at the fizzy effect, and retrieve astronaut for a souvenir.  I have tried this once so far and it worked, impressing I., so I'm hoping it wasn't a fluke.  I wondered briefly if it was sacrilegious or something to be baking an astronaut, and then decided it was OK.

*          *          * 

I got a speeding ticket recently for which I had to appear in court.  Mind you, I am generally not an unsafe driver; it was a particularly bad day, and I was paying no attention to how fast I was going, my mind in Philly with my heart-transplant friend, on being unemployed and not on unemployment, and on my destination (knowing that I was going to have a screaming child in my back seat at any minute, since N just LOVES her car seat ... not).  Of course, I had to take N to court with me.  Of course, she was due to be hungry just as court was to begin.  Of course, I tried to nurse her in the back row of the courtroom, and she proceeded to squirm and scream.  At the front of the courtroom, someone said "lady with the baby, please come forward."  I was so flustered by the whole experience that I didn't rebutton my shirt or tuck my boob back into my bra.  No, friends: I walked right down that aisle, exposed lactating boob covered only in my Moby, and that not even very well.  They reduced the penalty so that I would plead guilty and get the heck out of court.  I quickly agreed to this arrangement, and returned to the courtroom, where N proceeded to squawk like a parrot, and I was asked to leave until fetched by an officer to record my plea.  I'm not sure if she's going to be a lawyer or someone who practices civil disobedience.

*          *          *

My friend who had the heart transplant is still in ICU, after yet another surgery to close a "flap" and remove an infection that had spread the length of his torso.  I can't even begin to imagine what this has been like for him and his family.  His boys have been coming here for playdates once in a while, but I feel incredibly powerless to help, short of meal delivery, which I've been coordinating.

*          *          *

And my mother also managed to get herself stuck in the hospital with a kidney infection.  She insists that she is fine and doesn't need me to visit, but I am, of course, concerned; even if our relationship is imperfect, she is still my mother.  And while it may not be very serious, it would be nice to know that she's getting out soon.

*          *          * 

A hurricane is apparently coming, and I have a freezer chock full of breastmilk.  Anyone want to lend me a generator?

How about you?  Are you preparing for a hurricane?  Drowning in squash?  Baking spacemen?  Pull up a chair, stay and chat, and have a zucchini pancake.  Take my zucchini, please!


Zucchini Pancakes

600g – 700g zucchini or summer squash
2 t. salt
2 carrots, grated
1 large onion
2 c. flour
2 large eggs
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dipping sauce ingredients
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
** Optional: 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)

Top and tail your zucchini, then slice it into matchsticks.

Toss the zucchini with the 2 teaspoons of salt, then set over a colander for 30 minutes to allow the zucchini to soften and the liquid to drain out.

While the zucchini is softening, lightly beat the eggs together till combined.

Add the flour and whisk in till thoroughly incorporated, then add the water gradually, ensuring that you whisk well after each cup addition. Once the batter reaches the consistency of thin pancake batter (thin but not watery), add the strained zucchini and mix in.

Grate in the onion for a little sweetness, then add the grated carrot and stir in till everything is well combined.

Heat a non-stick frying pan (preferably cast iron for the even heat distribution and retention) with a little oil over low heat, then add about 1/2 to 1 cup batter to the frying pan.

When you pour in the batter, it should be no more than about 3-4mm thick at most in the pan. Feel free to spread the vegetables out into an even layer with a spoon to ensure even thickness and cooking.

Once the bottom of the pancake is browned and the top is dry and set, carefully flip it over and cook till the top layer is also browned, then set aside on a paper towel to drain. Serve warm.

Three Things Thursday

1. One month from today I (hopefully) will have completed my only (first?) 50 mile race. It's getting close and I'm getting TERRIFIED.



2. RLRF. I think I love it. Even though I am not sure if it is making me faster, I think it is making my training suck less. And even thought it is supposed to be RLRF, I am actually running more, just in less days. Huh.



3. I LOVE SCHOOL I LOVE SCHOOL I LOVE SCHOOL I LOVE SCHOOL. Oh. And I'm apparently the Teacher's Pet. Really, I'm the only one to do a reading assignment in the first week? I'm too old to be popular anyway...

South Africa Getaway

We went to Johannesburg, South Africa, last weekend for a little getaway. We stayed in a great bed & breakfast, A Room With A View.  I highly recommend.
IMG-20110820-00125

IMG-20110820-00116
Our room with views. The skylight was my favorite. And yes, I took these pics from the comfort of the bed. 
 IMG-20110820-00120
Nile was getting a manicure in the bathroom.

There was a cool bird outside the window.
IMG-20110820-00110
I was in total va-cay mode. I even let Nile eat graham crackers in and wear shoes on the bed.
IMG-20110821-00147

 IMG-20110820-00122

 IMG-20110820-00126
The view to the saltwater pool below.
IMG-20110820-00132

Something about the look of the place and the weather reminded me of L.A.
IMG-20110820-00129
Cat on a tin roof.

IMG-20110821-00176
We ventured outside to the gardens. Beautiful bird cages. The owner made all of the wrought iron decor by hand.

IMG-20110820-00139
Me and my sidekick.

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday








I think I love my legs in this picture.

Also... A little RLRF (MP, WK5, KR2) - TM resets after 65 min:












Goal - 10 miles @ MP (10:42)


Actual - 10.32 miles @ 10.39





Wheee!!







YUM




Excited for Disney!!

D-D-D-Doubler! 2011 PPM

I recently overheard my high school cross-country coach tell one of his current athletes the following:

An old coach of mine once said to me- "you can't put in what God left out." My response then and now... "Well, let's see how much he put in."

Saturday was a pretty rough day on the mountain.  I was dejected, to say the least.  This marked my third disappointing Ascent in a row, and afterward I didn't even feel surprised.  Not because I was unprepared, but because I was used to the disappointment of falling short of my perceived capabilities when it came to this race.

What made this year's disappointment different than those of 2010 and 2009 was that once I was done with those years' races, that was it.  Race season OVER.  Suck it up.  Reflect.  Stew.  Move on.  This year, I intended to come back and run the Pikes Peak Marathon the following day.  I didn't have the luxury of sitting back and letting answers come to me.  I had to make some immediate changes to my racing strategies to ensure I didn't put together yet another above-timberline gong show.

So what did I alter?
I decided my struggle on Saturday was likely caused by three factors:

  1. An overly aggressive early pace

  2. Insufficient hydration on a hot day.

  3. Insufficient nutrition.


To address, issue #1, I punched a slower finish time - 2:50 - into the trusty ol' pace calculator and committed to memory some of the early splits.

Issue #2 required I change how I like to race.  I decided to carry a water bottle on Sunday.  Some folks have absolutely no problem with this, and I don't mind running with one for long or slow days.  However, carrying any extra weight in the "sprints" has always felt unnatural and uncomfortable to me.  I bit the bullet and filled up the bottle.  I figured if it truly was a hinderence, I could ditch it up top.

For issue #3, I forced myself to come up with a more structured "plan" for what I was going to eat and when I was going to eat it.  On all of my PPA races, I had always gone light on calories, choosing to eat anything between nothing and two gel packets.  On Saturday, I had just the two gel packets.  While I never felt underfueled, it just makes sense that I probably was.  I stuffed an easy-to-digest energy bar and two gels in my water bottle holder and another two in a pouch around my waist.

All three remedies forced me into a "slower" mindset - one that got me ready to expect a longer, less pedal-to-the-metal type of day.

I was not surprised to find that my warm-up was painful.  I went through all my pre-race motions, just accepting the fact that I was one sore dude.

2011 Pikes Peak Marathon
Just prior to the gun, I lined up with a few of my peers.  While I smiled and let them think we'd all be running near or with each other, I fully expected to lose sight of them within the first few minutes of the race.  Right from the start, I continued to hurt.  Every step I took sent dull pangs of discomfort throughout my body - a grim reminder of the experience I had endured the previous day.  All I could think was "How the @#$%@# am I supposed to come even REMOTELY close to a respectable effort today?"  The only answer I had for myself was in the fact that others before me had done just that, so I knew it must be possible.

As the field sorted itself out on Manitou Avenue, I found myself a few strides behind GZ and Brad.  I could feel a different energy from the field - more relaxed than the front of Saturday's race.  Whereas virtually no one around me on Saturday besides myself walked the steepest paved section of Hydro, a majority of the marathoners switched to a powerhike on that stretch.  Brad began to disappear above me, but GZ and I were essentially matching pace somewhere around 40th place as we hit the top of the W's in 33:48.

Not much happened through the tame part of the course.  GZ and I played accordian, switching leads, but never leaving each other's sights.  Every once in a while, Brad became visible in the distance.    Every time the slope angled up, GZ, would catch up and blow by.  Whenever it dropped or flattened, I took the opportunity to open up my stride and would re-take the lead.  I had no choice; I only felt OK when I wasn't climbing!  Through Barr Camp in 1:28, I met up with Harry Harcrow and worked with him through the Bottomless Pit sign.  GZ had dropped a little, but Brad was now clearly visible ahead of me. At this point, I had no clue what was in store for me up above the trees.  Another meltdown?  My legs were bricks, but they weren't cramping like they had on Saturday.

A-Frame to Summit
I hit A-Frame in 2:08 and change - a full 12 minutes slower than the previous day.  Brad and I found ourselves in kind of a no-man's land.  Dude was delirious from altitude, as he chattered constantly for the next mile and a half.  I had sadly been alternating between run and walk for a very long time now.  My walk wasn't as fast as Brad's, but my run was, and I was running for longer stretches, so I went ahead and passed him a little before the 2 to go sign.  It wasn't a very confident pass; I just figured as long as I could keep squeezing in good running pulls, I should.  Matt passed me on his way down soon thereafter.  After a long gap, Daryn came into sight on his way down too.  This was somewhat expected.

What happened next, though, caught me completely off-guard.

I thought I was in about 30th at this time.  I expected to start seeing the trickle of downhill traffic turn into a full-fledged downpour, but I kept climbing and climbing and no one came.  I made it past the 1 to go sign and realized I was in MUCH better shape on this day than the previous one.  I realized there were quite a few guys within just a couple of minutes of me and a strong last mile might get them.  Most importantly, I began to realize that with a strong descent, I could end up catching a ton more.  I ran hard but comfortably through the last mile, passing a good five or six guys just past the Golden Stairs, and a couple more just before the summit.  When I hit the turnaround in 2:59:30, I had counted 18 guys in front of me.  Of those 18, almost half of them were within striking distance.

Descent
I got rid of my water bottle - both to save weight and give me two full working hands in order to catch myself in event of a spill - and sprung down from the summit like a shot.  Within a minute, I had passed two guys.  I felt like I was dancing on the rocks; the descent was coming so easily to me and I was thrilled.  By the time I hit the cirque aid station, I had passed a bunch more and suddenly found myself in 12th.  I knew exactly what top 10 meant and realized that if I held together, I was going to get it.  The thought pushed me as I caught another and yet another guy before AFrame.  JV was somewhere in that mess.  Just as I hit AFrame, I went by a cramping Brandon Stepanowich, who had been in 8th place.  This was the last downhill racer I would see for a long time.  Passing Brandon was bittersweet...as one of my friends, it pained me to see him struggling, and it didn't look good for him.

A-Frame back to Barr Camp only took 15 minutes, but it was an eternity.  The initial high of moving into the top 10 had worn off.  My quads were beginning to remind me what they had been through in the previous 26 hours.  As I dropped lower and lower, the temperature rose.  I began to call out, "BARR CAMP!??!"  I knew my pace had settled into something a little more pedestrian and the fear of getting caught creeped in.  Eventually, one of my calls for camp was answered, and I rounded a blind turn just to find Teresa and the crew there to refuel me and cheer me on.

The lower parts of the course were lonely.  Barren.  I felt someone gaining on me, but couldn't see a soul.  I tried to visualize another competitor struggling in order to focus myself on what was ahead instead of behind me.  The uphills sapped any remaining energy I had.  The downhills had become tiring.  I was hanging on by a thread.  When I hit the Bob's Road aid station, they told me that someone had indeed just left the station and had maybe two minutes on me.  I redoubled my focus and visualized catching him.  At the same time, I tried to shut out the feeling that I was also being hunted.  The aid station workers at No Name said I was less than a minute away from 7th...I tuned everything else out.  I remember nothing except trying to make up ground and being aware that I was running out of distance in which to do it.  Just before the top of the W's, two pro Euro cyclist guys emphatically pleaded to me, "fifteen seconds, allez, allez!"  Finally, I heard footsteps!  Just before I hit the Incline Cutoff aid station, I caught Corey Hanson - who was still going at a decent clip.  I tried to put a surge in to lose him for good, but he stuck with me and I could still hear his footsteps a switchback behind me.  Suddenly, my stomach turned.  Those weren't a set of footsteps I heard - that was two pairs.  I looked up, and there was Brandon, flying down like he was being propelled by an outboard motor.  I knew there was no holding him off for the next two miles.  At the same time, I was so proud of him - he had found a way to bounce back from his cramping issues at AFrame and had put together a very strong descent of his own!  (I soon learned of some sort of salt shot off of Teresa's wrist that cured him.  Not sure what that looked like...)




Oprah ran 4:44, right?
Hitting the pavement, I found myself alone again.  Neither Brandon ahead of me nor Corey behind me were going to alter the order by now.  As I passed the Cog Railway, the reality of what had happened started to hit me.  I was going to top 10 the Pikes Peak Marathon after throwing up a stinker the day before!  A spectator at the cog shouted a word of encouragement.  I gave a thumbs up in response, and next thing I know, all of the people waiting at the cog were cheering me on.  The number of people lining Ruxton continued to increase the closer I came to the finish, and the emotion traveled to my face.  When I saw my good friend and training partner Amanda with a half to go, my day was officially made - she couldn't hide the shock to see me so soon.  By the time I passed her, I was smiling ear to ear.  I came around the last corner into the crowd, and crossed the line in 4:37 and change, good for 8th place.



Tired, happy

Here is a comparison between my Sunday ascent and Saturday ascent by section.
Start to Hydro - 30 seconds slower Sunday
Hydro to W's - 2:33 slower
W's to 7.8 - 3:07 slower
7.8 to Camp - 3:07 slower
Camp to AFrame - 1:49 slower
AFrame to 2ToGo - 1:37 faster
2ToGo to 1ToGo - 2:32 faster
1ToGo to Summit - 4:37 faster





Gutsy race by Brandon.
Courtesy of pikespeaksports.us




Top 10.  Courtesy of pikespeaksports.us
Post-Race Thoughts
Nothing like ending on a high note!  While my plan has been to race Leadville next August, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about coming back for another PPM.  With fresh legs, I think it could be an even better experience.  Yes, I've thought to myself, "How fast could I have gone had I been fresh?"  Coulda.  Shoulda.  Woulda.  I chose to double, and I'm glad I did.

The awards ceremony on Sunday was fun; not just because I was happy with my performance, but because I had the opportunity to talk to so many friends and other competitors.  I'm not alone when I say that the past few days have been anticlimactic.  I need a new goal...soon!

Links:

Double results

Sunday results



This song...I guess it just makes me happy.  Mellow.  Satisfied...at least for a little bit.



Family Triathlon Weekend Photos




Not not easy being this cheesy!




The next Michael Phelps




T acting suprised (I love this photo)




It's a major award!




Bonnie with part of her team before she rocked the swim.
She is in the pink cap




Bonnie with her team after the race




T getting ready to swim. 
With a lost Mr HalfTRIng in the back ground.

Photos of Me
  1. Rocking the Finish

  2. Rocking the Bike

  3. A decent pic of me on the bike

  4. Sporting the magazine cover

  5. At least they covered my face to spare others

  6. Looking confused


Photos of Bonnie
  1. A little dirty from the swim

  2. On the bike

  3. Winning the run