Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Phone Download

I remember having an idea a while back to write a blog entry based on random pictures that I had taken with my phone.  I thought I'd do it every once in a while.  So I wrote that first entry and then I didn't remember to do it again until...NOW!  (9.5 months later...  :)

I did some nutrition lectures for the sports teams at the high school where Oscar teaches about 2 weeks ago.  I found this relic when I was checking out his classroom.  Haven't seen one of these for a while! 

About the same time, Oscar and I went out to get some ice cream and I caught this guy snooting around in the flowers!

Hard to believe our trip to Northern California was over a month ago!  I guess time really does fly when you are having fun!  (or training for Ironman)

I can't quite recall WHAT she had done, but I do remember it was something bad and I caught this picture of Roxy looking quite guilty.  :)

Cookie baking extravaganza for a church project!  We only had to make one extra dozen of cookies to cover all the "broken" ones Oscar and I ate while baking...  :)

This is an awful picture and in no way does the beauty of the morning justice!  But I snapped this one on my walk down to work from the parking garage one morning last week.  The sunrise was stunning.  Beautiful world we live in.

And in other news, I found out my pool is going to be closed ANOTHER 2 weeks longer than they had anticipated because they ran into some issues.  ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Sadness.  But no matter what, I'll get it all done.  And in the mean time, I just keep reminding myself that in a month's time I will be swimming in the beautiful, amazing Pacific!  Not a bad deal indeed!

Have a great night everyone!  :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Survived August!

Going into this month, I knew it was going to be a doosey.  Big miles on the training front - Ironman style.  Extra days working at the hospital.  And a quirky, rather sudden influx of personal clients.  Staying married.  Remembering to feed Roxy.  Keeping our house somewhat clean.  (I'd say keeping the fridge full but Oscar takes care of that :).  I know it's a lot less than many people have on their plates but it was enough for me!

But I'm happy to say, I survived!  I survived!

Now I know August isn't over yet.  But I think I'll make it 3 more days.  Especially considering tomorrow is an off day of training!  What?!  I know, I don't see those come around very often (at all) so I'm going to cherish this one and celebrate by sleeping in until...5:30 am!  :)

Of course there is a lot more work to be done in September - I haven't forgotten!  BUT, September brings with it less days at the hospital and BIG fun in that I get to race!  I GET TO RACE!  And racing is awesome for several reasons, including but not limited to, the fact that it breaks up the monotony of all the BIG training weekends!  YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


We are getting there.  One day at a time.

In the mean time, I'm also happy to announce that I survived week #1 of having no home pool (my YMCA shuts down for 2 weeks for routine maintenance this time of year, as is the case for most pools I think).  Of course week #1 of closure just so happened to fall on a week when I had 6 swims.  :)  But I got a little creative and begged my way into a few different pools.  Here is how the week played out:

Sun Aug 21st: 5000 yard swim at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Squirrel Hill with Oscar.  You have to pay the big dough for them to let you in but the pool is nice and coooooool.  :)

Monday Aug 22nd: 3500 yard swim at Pitt Masters.  Plan got a little screwed up when morning practice was canceled due to pool issues but we got the schedule rearranged to make it to evening practice instead.

Tuesday Aug 23rd: 4000 yard solo swim at Butler YMCA.  It's a 40 minute drive one way but they let me in for free.  And I got to see my friend Wendy!

Wednesday Aug 24th: NO SWIM!  Chlorine free for the day!

Thursday Aug 25th: 4000 yard swim at Pitt Masters where we swam really hard 75s and Meg made me laugh just as hard.  I'm pretty sure I snorted once or twice.  :)

Friday Aug 26th: 5000 yard solo swim at Butler YMCA.  Don't like the drive but I do like the cooooool pool! 

Saturday Aug 27th: 4000 yard solo swim (once again) at Butler.  The drive is much quicker very early on a Saturday morning.

Sunday Aug 28th: 5000 yard swim back at the JCC with Oscar.  Never a fan of the Sunday afternoon swim but it was nice to have company in my lane!

This week the Butler YMCA is closed so I'll be heading back to the YMCA in the town where I grew up!  It's even further than Butler but it will all be worth it when I swim a 50 minute IM swim right?  ;)  HAHAHA!!  (joking in case you didn't notice...)

Hope everyone has an awesome start to their week!  And HUGE congrats to all those racing in Louisville and Canada today.  Inspiration galore.  LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it!  :)

Friday, August 26, 2011


My German teacher in high school, Frau Grasso (now Frau Meyer), actually now teaches at the same high school where Oscar teaches.  This morning, Oscar found a picture in his mailbox - an oldie that Frau Grasso dug up from good old Greensburg Salem High School!

Of course Oscar immediately scanned the picture and emailed it to me, all the while laughing hysterically I'm sure.  It should be noted however, that I appear to be the only one properly hydrating in class!  I was destined to be a dietitian!  (it's also possible that I still have that long sleeve shirt... :)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and best of luck to all of those racing!  IM Sunday is upon us with Louisville and Canada!  I know what I'll be doing Sunday!  :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ballou Skies Time!

Well, to save you trouble of reading about my woeful ride today (let's just say, I strongly considered laying down on the side of the road for a nap while out riding and the only reason I didn't was because it was pouring down rain...), let's take a break from training talk and instead talk Ballou Skies!

As many of you know, I am racing for this awesome charity this year.  It's been a truly inspiring experience.  I have been amazed by Ryan Ballou and how he keeps smiling no matter the challenges he faces, by Ty Ballou (Ryan's father) and his passion and dedication for raising awareness for DMD and by my very own teammates who contintually give of their time and talents to do the same.  Plus, everyone is really fast.  :)  In fact, Ballou Skies (all Pittsburgh athletes) alone is sending 6 people to Kona this year!

Take a quick second to click on this link and watch the short video to see how Ballou Skies monies are playing a major role in funding some ground breaking DMD research at Ohio State Univeristy.  GOOD stuff to say the least!

How can you help?  Well I'm glad you asked!  :)

Let me first say, when I started to consider racing for a charity this year, I had reservations ONLY because...well...I hate asking for money.  Of course that is a totally silly reason to not do it, and I knew that.  But I was seriously concerned about keeping up my end of the deal in terms of fund raising.  What I've learned though is this - people are amazingly generous and supportive and very willing to help if they are able.  And so all you have to do is ask.  Which is what I'm doing right now (in case you didn't notice :).

IF you are able and feel in your heart that it's something you'd like to do, please donate to our cause!  There are several ways you can do so - if you go to this page, you can donate online via PayPal, on Facebook (with credit card) or via check (and the address is on the linked page).  If you'd rather send a check to me (made out to Ballou Skies), leave me a comment and I'll get you my address! 

Many thanks for the bottom of my heart!  And if you are able to be in Kona this year and see my teammates or I in our Ballou Skies uniforms, please give us a cheer.  Three cheers actually - for a cure for DMD!

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Take Heart

I've been a slacking blogger!  Not for lack of topics.  I think of great blog entries in my head but the transfer of entries from head to computer doesn't seem to happen very often.  Blame Ironman training.  :)

So to sum things up:

*This past weekend's training camp with Ben was a big success.  He rides his bike really fast and I try to keep up.  That just about says it all!  I spent much of the weekend looking at Ben's back wheel...or at times...looking at him get farther and farther away from me.  :)  I really enjoyed riding the bulk of my miles with someone though since I usually do most of my riding by myself.

*NOTHING you get to eat at a gas station stop mid-ride would impress Ben.  I think he was ready to go through the Wendy's drive thru (bike thru?) if I would have suggested it! 

*When Ben puts his head down and you can hear him shifting into a bigger gear - GIDDY UP!

*I rode a total of 210 miles between Saturday and Sunday.  That breaks so many personal records I can't even begin to detail them all.

*I also ate so much sugar (gels, gummies, sports drink, bars, oh...and perhaps a bit of coke and a snickers too) on Sunday that I was concerned my teeth were going to rot.  But STILL, on my run off the bike I had to take my emergency gel because I could feel a serious bonk coming on.  What we do to our bodies is just crazy. 

*And the beat goes on.  Back to more work this week.  I'm in the throes of Ironman training now and it's all become a big blur of swim, bike, run, sleep, eat, work, pack bags for next day.  But I honestly wouldn't have it any other way and am feeling so blessed for this opportunity. 

But what I REALLY want to write about is the Hillsong concert from Friday night.  Oscar and I LOVED it.  Needless to say, best performance either of us had ever been to, hands down.  It was an awesome night of worship.

They sang some of their old songs but a lot of their new ones from the Aftermath album, none of which O or I were too familiar with.  YET.  (now that I've downloaded the album and listented to it 10,000 times, I'm quite familiar with all the songs :)

My absolute favorite song of the night was one of their new ones - a song called Take Heart.  It's based on one of my all-time favorite Bible verses, John 16:33 (a verse that might look familiar to you if I've ever emailed you from my gmail account :).

"In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

I can't tell you how often I've drawn strength from that verse.  It has quelled my fears countless times and calmed my very anxious heart. 

I'll tell you what I fear.  I fear not living to my potential.  Not using the gifts that I've been blessed with and not honoring God how He wants me to.  I fear pride and I fear my own selfishness.  I fear hurting people that I love and that love me.  I fear cancer.  I fear my training schedule.  :)  I fear failure and I fear that my past failures won't be forgiven, even when I know they are.  I fear losing someone close to me. 

But you see, we serve an awesome God who has overcome it all.  So what really do we have to fear? 

Take Heart can definitely be a theme song for life.

A video of Hillsong performing the song in Seattle earlier this year.

Joel Houston (lead singer of Hillsong) talking about the song (and then he sings it).


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weekend Fun!

I've had another good week of training and am looking forward to this weekend where I will again attempt to ride my bike for many hours without combusting (or throwing poor Petey into oncoming traffic).  I have a little more confidence going into this weekend that I will be able to survive because I did 2 weekends ago, but only time will tell!  One day at a time.  Miles make champions.  :)

I'm really looking forward to the next three days though for a few reasons:

1) Massage on Friday!  Yahooo!

2) Photo shoot (oh boy, here we go again) with my awesome BallouSkies teammates.  It's not the pictures I'm so much looking forward to, but rather just seeing my cleaned up teammates all at once.  :)

Result of last photo shoot.
3) HILLSONG!  I've been wanting to see a Hillsong concert since, well since I knew about Hillsong.  They are from Australia though and don't tour in the US often.  And when they do, they go to places like NYC, Chicago, Philly, LA and NOT Pittsburgh.  Well this year they are coming to Pittsburgh and it's tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I cannot wait!  Oscar and I bought our tickets the day they became available.  Can't believe it's almost here!

4) Riding with Ben.  I recruited Ben to do a bunch of my riding with me (he is always a willing participant!) which I'm sure will make the hours pass quite a bit quicker than had I ridden by myself.  Ben, is training for Vegas.  Ben rides his bike very fast.  Ben will probably kill me this weekend.  Let's just say, I shouldn't have any trouble getting my HR up for the 2x20 minute intervals I have tomorrow mid ride.  :)  Mostly though, I like riding with Ben because his attitude is always good and positive. 

Ben and I before Eagleman 2010. He is a former football player who provides a very nice draft.  :)
Hope everyone has an awesome weekend filled with many fun things!  And best of luck to all those racing!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Race Report Of OUCH!

Things I was reminded of this morning about sprint triathlons:

1) A very long warmup is required because when the gun goes BOOM, there isn't any time to mess around!  (luckily I remembered this before the race also and warmed up for almost as long as the race itself :)

2) They are very, very painful.  Like OUCH!  I think my heart was pumping out lactic acid instead of blood from the gun!  (and it took me a good 5 minutes to stop breathing hard after I finished :) 

3) Young kids can swim very fast and also run fast too.  The swim today was in a LCM pool and there were 4 people/lane with two starting on each side.  One of the people starting opposite of me looked to be about 15 years old but also looked to be QUITE a swimmer.  Indeed, he lapped me!  (keeping in mind, he lapped me after about 500 meters!)  Also, on the run, I got passed like I was STANDING STILL by one of Oscar's high school runners (who is also a very good triathlete).  And the kid is 14, just about to be a freshman.  :)

4) Despite being painful, sprints are also over very quickly!  I JUST started to feel pretty good when we had about 1 mile left to go on the run.  :)  Also, they are FUN!  Especially today, when I knew so many other racers.  I had a ball!  (plus the bike course has an ITU feel with 5 laps so I got to see Oscar a gazillion times!)

Did I get my goal of beating my time from 2006?  Yes!  In fact I even set a course record today, the previous mark held by another Penn State runner (who was a freshman the year I had graduated so we were not teammates).  Also, I won some MONEY!  Woo-hoo!  Straight to the "power meter for Beth" fund!  :)

North Park Triathlon: 700 meter swim/12.5 mile bike/5K run
*It should be noted that T1 is included in your swim time and T2 is included in your bike time.  Unfortunately no extra time is included in your run time (it's just that slow)!  The run is just gnarly as all get out - all on trails (except for the last 400 meters) and rocky, rooty, HILLY and brutal! 

2006: 12:52/33:47/22:22 = 1:09:01
2011: 12:23/31:57/21:38 = 1:06:01 (split times are off my watch so they might not be exact but final time is correct)

Yeah fun!

On the "podium" with 2 great friends, Mimi and Jen!  :)
Such a fun morning and great to see lots of awesome performances including many first timers, many up and comers and many seasoned veterans!  And I'm already home, unpacked and finished with my race report!  :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend and congrats to all who raced!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pittsburgh Showdown!

This weekend I GET TO RACE AGAIN!

This makes me happy. 

Very, very happy.

What race you ask?  Where?  Well right here in Pittsburgh.  At the North Park Triathlon - a race so small that I don't even think it has a website.  GASP!

Guess how much it cost to enter?  $37!  You read that right - $37!  Not $370.  Not $3700 (the approximate cost to race an Ironman in NYC in 2012).  But just $37.  I almost fell off my chair when I read that!

I've done this race before.  In 2006, the very first year I did triathlons!  North Park was actually the 5th triathlon I had ever done.  You can read all about that experience here.  And here is a picture from that race (had to dig way deep in the archives for this one)!

Yes, that's a road bike (that wasn't mine).  Oh, and I wore my wetsuit also.  FOR A POOL SWIM.  I kid you not.  I am embarrassed to even mention it!

But despite my lack of experience and relative triathlon fitness, I was still kind of fast.  Because back in 2006, I still had some speed left in the old legs!  So my goal for Sunday is to beat my time from 2006.  And that's not a weak goal either.  I knew how to go really, really, really hard back then.  Let's see if I remember how 5 years later!

Also, it should be noted that just because it's a smaller, local race does not mean it's not competitive!  The race director added a little prize money this year so many of Pittsburgh's finest will be there to fight for it. 

So I'm definitely looking forward to having a great time on Sunday with lots of great friends, racing hard, gutting it out to go under 1:09:01 and then driving back home in under 45 minutes.  :)

Happy weekend to all!