Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving reflections...

Wow, what a year it's been. Last year's Thanksgiving was spent in Vail with family and friends. Skiing, my first Turkey Trot and treasured time with family and it couldn't get much better.

Since then I've discovered just how strong my body and spirit are and I've been reminded of just how important living life to the fullest is. I was laid off from a job I liked, I completed my first triathlon, I battled health issues, started a new job I love, became a runner, mourned my cousin and celebrated renewed life with a special friend.

This Thanksgiving I'll run my second Turkey Trot and share a meal with friends. And I'll celebrate those people in my life that have supported me through it all and shown me just how awesome life is. I am truly blessed and thankful for it all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seasons changing...

Usually at this time of year I'm so excited about skiing and coaching I can barely stand it. It's all I think, talk and dream about (well I imagine I dream since I don't ever remember the actual dreams) and I go up every day I possibly can.

But this year my heart is torn. I loved doing my first tri this summer. And I've fallen in love with running. Starting in August, post surgery, I started focusing a bit more on running which has always been my weakest link. I was cycling too but not swimming. As cycling season (for me) closed down the running ramped up even more. I'm now running 4-5 days a week and really enjoying it.

I joined a run group in a next door town and was welcomed at the end of September with open arms even though the group is much faster than me. The group leader, a professional running coach, is pregnant so she has slowed her pace which made us a perfect fit to run together most Saturday mornings. We motivate each other, chat and get to know one another and before we know it we've done more miles than we'd planned or hoped. I've looked forward to my Saturday morning runs all week with breakfast afterward which served as inspiration to get out during the week and get in the miles.

Next weekend I begin my season of coaching with an on mountain clinic and then I'll spend the last weekend before coaching in Florida with family. All of this is great but it means that today was my final run with the group until next spring. And I'm very very sad. To the point of tears a couple of times today. Who knew I'd be so sad about a running group? Those that knew me 5 years ago would bet money against that one.

The group has inspired me to start thinking about doing a half marathon next year. Yes, you read that right, I'm thinking of running 13.1 miles. If I've learned one thing over the last 2 years it's that I can do anything I decide I want to do if I plan for it, train for it, and want to do it. And this is something I want to do.

I know as I get into my coaching season and start skiing I'll adjust and be very happy all winter long. But sitting in the back of my mind will be this wonderful group running their miles while I ski on snowy slopes. And next spring, as the ski season wanes I'll know that I get to return to the group. It is fabulous to have beloved activities for all seasons!

Today I want to thank the leader of the run group, Erin. The miles with you have been more fun than I ever dreamed running could be. I will miss you this winter my friend but cannot wait to meet Baby Boy and run together next spring as we both start our comebacks! You inspire me, you motivate me and you are in the right profession!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blizzard of October 2009

Some photos from our approximately 18-20 inches of snow this week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Uh, oops.

So, I think I might be the world's worst blogger. :(

Wow, it's been quite a summer. Shortly after my last post I had a minor surgery which took me out of my workouts for the majority of July. I also moved in July up toward Boulder and live in the town of Lafayette. This town has great access to trails and fantastic roads for riding leading out to farm country and I've loved living here.

In August I started ramping up my running again finally coming to terms with the fact that if I wanted to run faster I needed to run more. I did my first post surgery run at a pace of 13:45 per mile for 2.6 miles. Definitely slow. I'm now up to running 3-4 days per week and my last hard pace run I did 3.1 miles at 11:20 per mile. Still slow but a heck of a lot faster than previously. I've joined a Saturday morning run group and absolutely love running with them. Or, more accurately starting at the same time then enjoying breakfast and coffee afterward. Well, actually the coach is pregnant so she's stuck with me for 2 of my runs and I really am enjoying her. She seems to know the perfect balance of pushing me and giving me a few ego boosts that just keep me going.

Today we ran the Dowdy Draw Trail just south of Boulder near the town of Eldorado Springs. This trail goes up, up, up on the way out and has some fantastic views. I can't wait to run this during the spring! There was a lot of walking on the way out as those hills just make my heart rate sky rocket but Coach Erin motivated me when I tried to turn around and go to an alternate, flatter trail, we chatted and ran and walked and we went out for 2 miles. My fancy new Garmin Forerunner 305 told me it was just over 2 miles. We turned around and headed back after Coach told me about some other trails we'll run as I get better for which I'm very excited!

The downhill went by fast but was so much fun. Have to be careful as the rocks just beg to trip you up. I can't wait until I have more endurance to be able to go further on these types of trails as it is absolutely gorgeous out there.

And I earned my power sandwich at Panera afterward for sure!

Good run, good company, good food. What more can a girl ask for on a gorgeous fall Saturday morning?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Danskin SheRox Triathlon

I know I know some of you have been patiently waiting for this report. As you know my new job is keeping me very busy and with a 2+ hour commute each day I'm exhausted by the time I get home. But, finally, here it is!

Sunday June 28th the alarm went of at 4:05 so that I would be up early enough to get some food in me a few hours prior to the race. I got up, ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich and got dressed. Grabbed my bag which I packed the day before and my bike and off I went. I parked in the lot about a mile from the race site, got my gear together and headed toward transition. I had no idea that riding with a heavily packed bag on my back would feel so different!

I got my transition area set up and did a walk through the race plan with entrances and exits from each event. The water had a small amount of chop but nothing bad. Weather was perfection for racing. I went back to my transition spot and got my wetsuit on to go for a warm up swim. Unfortunately when I got down they told use we weren't allowed to swim but I could get in and get wet at least which I did.

Mom and Gary (my stepdad) just barely made it to transition in time for me to hand off my camera to her and get a good luck hug and then went to line up to start the race. As the National Anthem played I realized it was the first time since junior high that it had been played for an athletic event that I was competing in!

Next thing I knew the elite racers were in the water and the gun went off. I couldn't see them from my vantage point of being surrounded by 1062 incredible women triathletes. When it came my time I moved forward and positioned myself toward the back and outside as was my plan. We waved back toward the crowd as is tradition at this race and then the gun went off. I waded to swim depth and off I went. My asthma gave me some trouble and I started to wonder if I'd make it. I wasn't able to put my face in the water yet which was really hurting my speed and making me more tired. I came upon a woman who was panicked so I stopped to assist her and we got a kayak to her. This break actually gave me a moment to relax and when I restarted I felt more in control. Just before half way I was finally able to swim with my face in the water and started passing people who had been passing me. I came out of the water tired but happy with the swim over all, making my way as quickly as I could up to transition, stripping my wetsuit to my waist as I went.

At T1 I removed my wetsuit, added socks and shoes, helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and headed toward the exit. I know I picked up time here as people were doing all sorts of random things in transition (towel drying hair!). I left transition wading through lots of bike traffic but definitely making up position. I only had a few people pass me on the bike and I was able to pass a lot. I felt good although wish my climbing had been a bit better. Not sure why my legs didn't want to work.

I came into T2 feeling pretty good. I dropped off my bike, switched shoes, grabbed my hat, inhaler, race belt with number and a sip of water and was off. The run was really tough for me. Made even more difficult when about 1/3 of the way through I realized my timing chip was missing. Something about that just dashed my spirits and made it tougher to push myself. Fortunately I saw some friends along the way and they cheered for me which helped. I made my way toward the finish and was able to run the last mile completely.

Nearing the finish my dear friend Gaye was right there and she cheered me into a finishing kick. I passed by Sheila Taormina who is touring with the Danskin race and who I'd had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of times. She recognized me and gave me an extra big cheer and I remembered what she taught us in the motivational talk. "Gambare" means to keep going in Japanese and I'd repeated it many times over the last month and a half through the layoff and training. As I finished I realized that it didn't matter that officially I would show a DNF because nobody could take away the fact that I am now a TRIATHLETE!!!!

The motto of this particular race is "She Swims, She Rides, She Runs, SheRox!" and a week later I still feel like I rock. What an incredible sport to be a part of and I can't wait for the next one.

This VIDEO is pics from the day set to a song that I heard for the first time on the radio while driving to the race. I think it's quite fitting!

Monday, May 25, 2009

I ran the Bolder Boulder!!!

When I awoke this morning I was beyond excited to get to racing my first 10k in many years! The skies were partly cloudy and it looked like the rain might hold off until after the race. After a breakfast of eggs, toast and a cup of coffee we headed off to the start with my aunt and uncle serving as a most excellent shuttle to the start for my coach and I. Her wave went off nearly an hour before mine so I had a lot of time to take in the surroundings.

This race has 54,000 runners so people are line up as far as the eyes can see. The Bolder has gone off for 31 years so the organizers have an incredibly well run set up allowing each racer to feel special. There are 84 waves in total. The first waves are qualified waves so the people in those waves have to submit times from other races proving they can race at a certain pace. Following that are waves of people who self-seed based on their expected times. I seeded myself in a 70-90 minute wave and registered early enough that I was in the first of those waves. As you line up you get behind a sign with your wave letters and as each wave goes off you move closer. All of the sudden you feel like you must have a wave or two in front of you but the volunteers are saying "Go time!" and you're moving to the start. A trumpeter plays his tune and then the gun!

Making sure to keep your pace in check the first mile is tough as noted by my 11 minute mile (goal was just over 12 minute miles)is the biggest challenge in this mile. I settled in for mile 2 including Folsom Field. Unfortunately, for some reason mile 3 hurt today. It was odd because it was virtually flat but I just couldn't find a rhythm and I had to walk more than I'd have liked. Mile 4 appears slow on the official split because I had to run into the port-o-potty unfortunately but it actually felt much better than mile 3. Once I topped the hill just after the mile 4 marker I felt like I hit a comfortable stride. Wish it had happened earlier but at least I found it. In the final mile the crowd cheering loudly. Starting up the last hill I just told myself I couldn't walk any more. As I rounded the corner toward the stadium the emotions took hold and I had an asthma attack. But I just didn't want to be the one who walked the last 3/10 of a mile. As I went under the 6 mile banner and peeked at my watch I saw that I'd taken 2 minutes off my 6 mile time from last week. Woohoo!!! I wouldn't hit my 75 minute goal but I'm improving and that's what really matters right now.

As I came around the turn into the stadium, down the little hill and hit the metal planking that protects the ground of the stadium the roar of the crowd in enormous! People line the railings cheering you on and you feel like you just ran into the stadium of the Olympics. Around the stadium about 3/4 of the way and there's the finish! Hitting the stop on the watch and I see 1:17:13. And I look around and can't believe that I've done it. If you'd like to see me cross the finish line check out this video. I appear at 4:01 in the video in the center of the screen.

After picking up my snack bag I headed for our designated meeting spot and found my coach and was joined shortly after that by my aunt and uncle. We waited to watch the pro race and the Memorial Day ceremonies. The male pro ran his race in, get this, 29:19!!! That's about a 4:43 second mile pace!

The Memorial Day tribute took on special meaning for me today as I prepare to send my oldest friend off to battle next week. God speed Brett Cheatham, you better come home safely! For the tribute sky jumpers come in with flags representing each of the branches of service and then finally the US flag. It's incredibly moving as Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American" plays in the background.

Next year, I'd like to qualify for the restricted waves. I'd also like to get the side stitches issue under control as much of the walking that I had to do was because of these. Hopefully more fitness will bring relief from these.

As the last notes of the Memorial Day Tribute finished the skies opened up and released a deluge of rain. We were parked a mile or so away so needless to say we were soaked by the time we reached the car but we couldn't believe the luck of the weather holding off until after the races and ceremonies!

Here are some photos from the day!

Before the race with my coach Andrea

After the race with Andrea

With my friend Gaye

Memorial Day Tribute

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's been awhile...

Oops, time got away from me by a bit. It's been a crazy couple of weeks though and I'll try to do a quick recap.

First, I got in my last ski day of the season on May 9th. Good day with good friends and okay conditions. Then, I turned 32. The year before was exceptionally good and I am excited to see where the next year takes me.

On May 13th I went to a wonderful presentation regarding my triathlon in June. Put on by SheRox the guest speaker was 4 time Olympian having competed in 3 different sports (swimming where she won gold, triathlon and modern pentathlon) Sheila Taormina. Sheila's stories of her career were mesmerizing and I really didn't want her to stop. But I took away one word from her talk. Gambare. It is Japanese and means "keep going". This word suddenly became a motto for me beginning the next day.

On May 14th I was laid off from my job. It's traumatizing, emotional, difficult and exciting all at once. I've been able to do a bit more training, spend time exploring my options and reflecting on what I want to do with my life. I've not found the answer yet but I know I will.

This weekend I'll be running in my first Bolder Boulder 10k race. One of the largest (over 50,000 runners) running races in the world it's a day of parties along the route, a great run and lots of excitement. I'm so excited that I almost wish the race was tomorrow! So wish me luck and cross some fingers for me. Race day environments really feed me so this is just the endorphin boost I need to kick my training up another notch!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Little known dangers of cycling...

So, this evening as I showered before my swim I noticed that the water felt especially hot on my lower back. But I moved on and didn't think twice about it. Then as I relaxed on the sofa it felt like the waist band of my jeans had rubbed my lower back raw. I headed for the mirror to check it out and discovered it. When riding there are all sorts of places to remember the sunscreen. Face, arms, legs, chest. Easily forgotten is that little spot on your back where if your jersey creeps up a bit this crack of skin is exposed. And when you do a 2 hour ride in sunny Colorado the burn can be intense. I'd share a photo but have you ever tried to take a pic of your own lower back without exposing any not to be shown on the internet body parts? Yeah, so not happening!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Where does time go?

This morning dawned the 5th weekend in a row with less than ideal weather. Originally coach and I had scheduled a trip to Boulder to join a group ride there but given the gloomy day with probably rain we decided earlier this week that would have to be canceled. So I awoke this morning with a plan of getting in my second 4.5 mile run of the week. Earlier this week I'd had a rough one so I wanted to do another to make me feel more confident. Just as I was searching Map My Run coach im'd me wondering what I was up to. Soon we hatched a plan to go to Sloan's Lake for a run. We met at my place late morning and headed up there.

With the grey skies temps were nice and cool at around 48 degrees. We were delighted to find that the parking area also had bathrooms and water available which will be great for summer runs. The loop around the lake is exactly 2.5 miles so I decided that I'd try for 2 laps. If I needed to walk at the end that would be fine. As I ran I realized that I passed another runner. And a lot of walkers. And I found myself not being the slug barely making it along. And suddenly I was about half a mile from being done with the 2 laps. And I was feeling great! So into the logs goes a 5 miler.

After our run Andrea and I headed for lunch at a local Irish joint. Although nothing about our lunch said Irish. I had a lovely chicken salad on a croissant with brie and pear while she had a burger with mushrooms. And then we headed for the active person's paradise, the REI Anniversary Sale. I resisted most of the temptations but came away with a tech tee and a running cap. I can't believe how soggy gross those caps get during even a cool run but I do love how they keep the sun, hair, and sweat out of my eyes!

I can't believe we've reached May already! I can't help but think back to how my life has changed in the last year and feel I am so very, very blessed by the friends and family who have been there for me. But my beautiful coach means so much to me and our adventures this summer will be sure to entertain my readers as well. I hope you'll stick around to read the saga.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I totally forgot!

Wow, guess I'm more tired than I thought! I need to tell you all about my tri practice yesterday. My coach decided we should a full distance triathlon practice. So, we (My coach Andrea, a team mate Corrine and I) met at 6 am at my coach's gym. The plan was to do a 750 meter swim, a 15 mile bike ride on the stationary bike, and a 4 mile run around the indoor track. I was dressed in my tri suit as instructed by my coach to test it's performance and comfort but I'm sure it looked a little weird in the gym. Oh well.

So, we started the swim which went well and as expected. Off to the bike. We used these crazy bikes with a program and silly computer graphics. One thing to note, 15 miles on a stationary bike is much more miserable than 15 miles outside where you can coast, enjoy the scenery and feel the wind in your face. Finished the ride and headed upstairs to the track.

Running as you all know is my challenge. It's where I battle pain both physical and mental. I had 4 miles in front of me which I'd never run without walking (at least not since childhood) much less after having already done the swim/bike thing. But, I had to try. For me it works better to set small goals and then extend them. I first said to myself that I'd run the first mile (9.25 laps). That felt okay so I extended to 2 miles. Hmmm, that feels pretty good so maybe I can do the full 3.1 miles that a normal sprint triathlon would have. Yep, got that. At this point I realized my pace was pretty fast. But I figured the math wasn't working right in my head but I thought I could probably finish the entire 4 miles. The last 8 laps were tough and took a lot of mental battles. But I did it. I ran the entire 4 miles! When I finally stopped and looked at my watch and did the calculations I'd run it at a 10:30 min/mile pace approximately. This is nearly 2 min/mile faster than my 3.75 mile run on Wednesday was. And I'd swam and biked before this.

Needless to say the high I'm still riding from this is incredible. The knowledge that A) for the next 2 months all my training will be toward improving my performance rather than being able to complete the event and B) I might actually be able to run the entire Bolder Boulder. And I just might do it at a respectable pace.

This weekend has been a fantastic transition to my spring and summer sports. Life is good!

Cycling Adventures!

I had an interesting ride today. I met my coach at her house and we loaded both bikes onto her car and headed for a town just south of us (Parker for those that know the area). We had a route from that someone else had plotted and had the written directions with us. We headed out in cool weather and I thankfully decided to wear my arm warmers. The first bit was a challenging climb at any level and as the first thing I did after yesterday's tri I was definitely suffering. But we made it to the top and were rewarded with a beautiful view over rolling hills, horse country and Pike's Peak in the distance.

Next up, fun downhill and then an immediate left turn at the bottom and right back up. After some more rolling hills (and some cursing from me as my quads talked sternly to me) we turned into a neighborhood. I took the next turn and expected to find the next road. Nope, just dirt. Hmmm, must have taken a wrong turn? Grabbed the iPhone and plotted a different route to the road. A few more hills and we were there. And greeted by more dirt. What the route didn't indicate was that this road was dirt. Okay, quick re-plotting and we turn around, attack some more hills and head south. We grabbed the next turn and it was nerve wracking as it had little shoulder, some cable guard rails and a fair amount of traffic. The reward for me was the coming down hill. My coach isn't a big fan of down hill but I loved this so I took off. I maxed at 34.6 mph and would have gone faster except that their was head and cross winds so I had to reign myself in a bit.

A few more miles of high traffic nerve wracking riding and we found a multi-use trail that would get us back to the car. We are really glad we rode this route today as we'd planned to use this on our group rides this summer (and there are some developments with this which I'm hoping I'll be able to share next week ) and we know we'd have some people mutiny on us on this sort of ride so now we can avoid. But my coach and I really enjoyed it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vail closes for the season...

Sadly Vail closed for the season yesterday with much ado. I planned to make a weekend of skiing both Saturday and Sunday with dinner at Dish in between. Unfortunately, mother nature had different ideas and dumped a lot of wet heavy snow on us Friday afternoon into Saturday which closed I-70 preventing my departure until mid morning on Saturday and thwarting plans to ski that day.

So, I enjoyed a wonderfully delicious meal at Dish once again with the fabulous team of chefs and staff. Favorite courses were the ramp tartlet, evoo poached tuna and their mini version of bacon, eggs and toast. Oh, and of course the chocolate dipped potato chips!

I progressed to the mountain Sunday morning and started skiing at about 9:30. I hit a couple of runs in Sun Up Bowl then headed toward Blue Sky Basin through Tea Cup Bowl. Skiing a few runs of powder in Blue Sky before heading back toward the traditional final day party at the top of Chair 4 where friends were partying the day away. Later I did a few more runs off Avanti.

So, here's to another wonderful season at Vail with dreams of Blue Sky Basin, Game Creek Bowl and Lover's Leap for next year. And next year will be Epic with an Epic Pass!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beating up the legs a bit...

So, I've never been a runner. Even as a child when I ran a couple of 10k races and even a 12k it never really was fun and I'm not good. And then this whole idea of changing my life came about last year and I started running. Just as I was getting into it I got injured and could hardly walk without pain much less run. I spent months getting my foot into shape with icing, stretching, the Strassburg Sock and my beloved Foot Rubz ball.

And then I started back. First, I got fitted for shoes (which I later found out were a size too big) and I started slowly on an elliptical. Since then I've worked my way to outdoors and dreadmill (uh, sorry treadmill) running. I did a 5 mile fun race in February and felt good (although I only ran continuously for 20 minutes, the rest was run/walk) and then my skiing and life schedules deflated my will to train and I took too much time off so I'm building again toward running the Bolder Boulder on May 25th. My plan right now has me adding 1/2 mile per week between now and then and trying to get 3 days a week running in. Yesterday was my long day of the week of 3.5 miles. I decided to take a new tact with this run and headed for the gym. Since I'd needed to walk more than I wanted I decided to back off my run pace a bit and see how long I could run without walking. My first goal was 15 minutes. I got there and felt good so I told myself I could do 2 more songs. And I got there and felt good so I said 1 more. And it kept going on like that until I only had an estimated 8 minutes left in the run so I found my 2 most motivational songs on my iPod and went for it. And I finished the 3.5 miles not walking (excepting the 2 minute warm up) at all.

Maybe I can be a runner.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Well, our ski season is winding down here. Today was a holiday so I took the opportunity to head to Copper Mountain, one of my 2 favorite mountains for one of my last ski days. I had a great day of skiing with some variable conditions but finding gold in Union Bowl. Laps of skiing this softer, wind blown stash was fun. But, in the end, I think I've decided not to drive up again tomorrow. The hour and a half each direction is wearing on me (and my car) and we've reached the point of diminishing returns. So, that makes today my final day at Copper for the season. I've enjoyed some absolutely fantastic days there this season with friends and while coaching. I thought I'd share some photos from the season at Copper Mountain. So, with a tip of the hat, a tug on my heart and fond memories I say good bye to Copper mountain for a few months.

Today after my final run on Union Bowl

March 3rd on a run off TRex during the Diva Summit

Early season with my friend Susan. Also joining that day was Katy and there were lots of laughs. And I always learn new skills with these ladies, they both ski like they're doing a ballet, it's incredible!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spinning to Nowhere...

So, on Sunday April 5th we had our Grand Finale spin class with the group I joined back in June of last year. We had up to 4 hours to spin with it being divided into 15 minute increments and the chance to get raffle tickets and great prizes. My goal going in was to ride for 3 of the 4 hours. In the end I rode for 3.5 hours and am quite pleased with myself. I didn't take many photos but here's one just minutes before the end. Forgive the blurry nature as I was holding it to do the self portrait and still spinning my legs. Oh and I was tired by then! I ended up winning a number of great goodies including a bike tune which is what I really wanted!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back to blogging...

Hello all!

Well, after a long absence for various reasons it's time once again to make my blog public and start sharing my life. Over the next couple of weeks I'll try to get some photos and stories up about this ski season which has truly be incredible. I sit here on April 6th having enjoyed 34 days thus far with hopes of getting to 40 by the end. During those 40 days I've skied with wonderful people including family, friends and athletes I coached for the season. Each has taught me things about life and skiing and I hope to pass some of that along.

Then, this summer, I'll log my adventures in my very first season of triathlon. Yeah, that's right, a season of triathlon which I hope to be the start of a new me. I've been training all winter and will start to ramp things up in the next few weeks.

I hope you'll visit often and see what I'm up to and share the ride.