Wednesday, September 26, 2012


This weekend I am racing in the Poconos 70.3.  If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, I don't think I have to mention how happy and excited this makes me!

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Race timeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  (finally! :)

My last race was 5 weeks ago.  Far too long in my opinion but apparently to gain any fitness you occasionally have to train hard instead of taper, race, recover, taper, race, recover!  Who knew?  :)  Anyway, I did the training part for the past 5 weeks and it was great.  I'm feeling healthy, strong and like I'm getting read for an Ironman!  And now my reward, a little break in the training for a RACE!

I'm leaving for the Poconos on Friday.  Unfortunately I must travel to this race by myself because all the usual suspects (Oscar and my mom) are busy living their lives.  The nerve!  (of course I'm kidding!)  I have been so spoiled over the years to almost never have to travel to races alone so this weekend should be interesting.  If I show up at the start line in one piece with all my equipment in one piece AND on time, I'll consider the weekend a success.

There is also a matter of the drive to the race.  The Poconos, although in Pennsylvania, the state I live in, are quite far away.  I live in the southwest corner of PA and the Poconos happen to be in the mountains of northeast PA.  And PA is a looooooooong state. Steelhead 70.3, which is in Michigan, is almost closer for us.  Did I mention that I tend to fall asleep when I drive longer than 1 hour? I said, if I make it to the start line in one piece I will be thrilled!  :)

Kidding aside, I'm really excited for this weekend.  And although I'm traveling alone, there are several Pittsburghers racing and I have a wonderful homestay family to take me in!  I've already invited myself (see I told you, I'm really good at inviting myself to places!) to be a 3rd wheel for several meals with others.  All is good. 

Now just keep your fingers crossed it doesn't snow!  It almost did last year at this race.  And while I like chillier weather, 40s and raining isn't the best option when one is riding one's bike up and down mountains really fast.  I'll definitely be packing the arm warmers!  But it will all be worth it when I get to see stuff like this on the bike course!

Hope everyone has a fantastic rest of the week and weekend!  And to all those racing - yeee-haw and giddy up!  :)

Friday, September 21, 2012


I'm very thankful for many, many things.  Way too many things to list in one blog.  God has blessed me beyond belief.  But I thought I'd list the things I was especially thankful for today.

1) The lifestyle and ability to ride my bike for 6 hours and then run an hour after that on a Friday.  My legs were tired, I was hungry and my butt hurt.  But I couldn't have been more happy to be where I was, when I was.  I don't necessarily think I have an "easy" life (of course it's all relative) but I do know that I have a very, very good life.

2) A body that will do more than I think it will and one that is healthy and strong.

3) A pup that greets me at the door when I get home from my training and that licks my salty legs while I lay on the kitchen floor.

"Yes, I'm cute.  Now let me lick your salty legs!"

4) Absolutely AWESOME weather.  It was a cracker of a day!

5) A coach that believes in me enough to really challenge me.

6) Rising to a challenge, even when I thought I couldn't.

7) A super, awesome friend to ride with.  Kim totally got me out of bed this morning.  If I hadn't been meeting her to ride, I still might be hiding under the covers.  Plus, Kim tells really funny stories.

The self portrait always lends to very good photography.  (I'm laughing...not crying :)

8) A tailwind for the last hour of my ride.

I'm sure tomorrow will bring a whole new list of things to be thankful for.  God is good.  All the time.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

All Systems On Go

I had a good training week this week.  Training for Ironman #2 = so far so good!  Of course one would expect this after only 2 or 3 weeks.  Talk to me in another 5 or 6 weeks and I might be crying uncle (I'm sure I will be). 

It helps that our weather is amazing right now.  Running in 55 or 60 degree temps automatically gives you 20-30 seconds per mile without working any harder when compared to running in the 80s or 90s.  At least for me.  I love it.  I didn't even mind that I was shivering a bit on my ride this morning!  :)  I do feel as if fall is the reward us Pittsburghers get for enduring the stifling heat and humidity in the summer and then the ice/wind/snow/frigid temps in the winter.  Fall will always be my favorite.

I did have a little blip this week when I had to go to the dentist for more mouth "stuff".  If only I knew that what started as needing 2 little crowns would turn into root canals, crown lengthenings and skin grafts on my gums - I never would have started the process in the first place!  (or at least would have waited until the end of the season :)  Anyway, on Tuesday I got 2 crown lengthening procedures (they essentially expose more tooth so that a crown will actually have something to grab onto) and 2 skin grafts on my gums (something about a receding gum line...I stopped listening after a while).  All I have to say is - OUCH!  I'm not someone who gets anxious or scared at the dentist but let me tell you - I had to go to my happy place a couple times on Tuesday.  I kept my eyes closed for much of it.  And then the one thing I did want to watch - when the dentist was stitching the grafts in - I was told I needed to keep my eyes shut!  I kept sneaking peaks.  He looked like a seamstress.  :) 

When he was done, the dentist told me no training the next day because he was worried the grafts would bleed.  (I didn't tell him I was a triathlete, by the way, but my t-shirt gave me away - doh!)  I was all set to ignore him and carry on with my normal training plan but Dirk stopped me in my tracks.  Double doh!  Dirk was actually trained as a dentist (little known fact!) and told me an easy spin only.  Bummer.  But it was fine and actually a very good call because I woke up very, very sore, very swollen and a little black and blue.  And really hungry because it was too hard to get my mouth open wide enough for eating the night before.  :)

By Thursday morning I was back on track though.  The mouth is still sore but workable.  I get my stitches out on Tuesday (maybe the dentist will let me watch this time! :)  The part that hurts the worst is the roof of my mouth where they took the skin for the grafts.  It's like a big open wound in your mouth and sort of feels like a really bad pizza burn x 10,000.  :)

Otherwise, life is good.  Oscar's training for the Columbus Marathon is going quite well and I'm humming along too.  This morning we even got to run together.  Of all the amazing training partners I've had through the years, he is definitely my favorite.  He talks about the Pirates, I sometimes listen, and we run stride for stride.  Perfect.  :)

And because everybody knows a post without pictures is boring, here are two.

She never fails to find a sunny spot.  (she looks dead but she's fine)

My friend after Tuesday's visit to the dentist.  He gave me a script for Vicodin and I filled it but I never take it.  For this reason alone, I have a bunch of bottles of Vicodin in our medicine box.  This is probably not a good thing.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Winchester Training Weekend

This past weekend I drove down to Winchester, VA to spend a weekend training with Katie.  How did this come about you might ask?  Well, it went something like this: I emailed Katie a few months ago and invited myself to come.  Yep, that about sums it up!  And Katie is really just too nice to say no so we picked a weekend and BOOM, a weekend training camp was born!  (By the way, I highly recommend inviting yourself to places.  I've done this to many other people including Sonja and Michelle, Liz and Jen, Marit, Barb, heck, even my own parents and sister!  And I haven't received a no yet.  "Yet", being the important word here... :)

ANYWAY, the plan all started with me asking Katie if I could ride on Skyline Drive with her.  I knew she lived close to one end of Skyline and that she rode on it often and I also knew that Skyline is AWESOME.  Like really awesome.  I also knew many other people use Skyline as a great riding route.  This all made me *really* want in on the action.  So that's how it began.  But it ended up with me driving down on Friday so we could do a 6ish hour brick on Saturday together and then ride Skyline and swim together on Sunday.  By the end of the weekend, I was ready to stay for another week or so, but alas, Katie had to go back to work.  (boo)

On Saturday we awoke bright and early and got ready to go!  Katie had a 95+ mile bike route planned to get us started.  And it was amazing!  Winchester is an awesome place to train!  The road surfaces themselves are beautiful (quite an upgrade from the garbage we ride on around Pittsburgh) and the surrounding areas are really just what you'd see on a postcard.  Beautiful farms, big houses, rolling hills, lots of cows, corn, horses, goats and even an ostrich or two!  And the apples - OH THE APPLES!  I've never seen so many in my life.  Winchester is also apparently a huge apple producer and we rode past orchard after orchard after orchard.  (and later went to one of said orchards where I bought many apples and of course, an apple cider doughnut!)

Of course I don't have any pictures of Saturday's ride because I'm a horrible picture taker.  It's a crime really.  So you'll just have to believe me that it was great.  And riding with Katie was just perfect.  We'd make a very good training duo because I think we are very similarly paced on the bike and were just able to ride as normal without one slowing the other down (or at least I hope I wasn't slowing her down! :).  Also, Katie, like me, likes to start early, not stop during rides and keep an honest pace.  All in all, a most wonderful combo we made!

Off the bike on Saturday we ran a good hour together and then called it a day.  Sunday and Skyline awaited.

Sunday we were up early again to drive to Skyline for our ride.  I can't even explain how much I loved it.  The heat and humidity that we suffered in on Saturday had dissipated with the Saturday night storms and Sunday dawned cool and sunny and AWESOME!  Katie and I rode 64 miles and climbed over 6300 feet and I think I smiled the whole way!  (except maybe that last 2 mile climb before the final 6 mile descent to home).  The plans for next summer's epic adventure of riding the entire length of Skyline (105 miles one way) with Katie are already underway!! 

I did take some pictures on Sunday.  :)

A self portrait that didn't turn out too bad (in the sense that we both have heads :)

Okay, obviously stole this one from the Skyline website because the leaves have not yet changed.  But how amazing would this place be in the fall?

Pretty sure that's West Virginia over there!  :)

Views like this all over the place.

Elevation gain on this ride = mucho.  (but the final 6 mile descent was VERY fun)

After we finished our ride on Sunday, Katie and I ate lunch and then got mad at for not updating any of the IMMOO or Vegas splits and THEN we went swimming where Katie was nice and only lapped me 5 times in the pool.  Training with someone who swims a 54 minute IM is painful, but probably good for me!  :)

And then I had to go home.  SADNESS!  But I was very glad to see Roxy and Oscar again!  (and find that the house was still in one piece)  All in all a most wonderful weekend that I'm very thankful to Katie for making it happen!  She is fit as a fiddle and my two main thoughts about training with her were (1) I'm really glad I don't have to race her and (2) I feel really sorry for the 25-29 yr old ladies in Kona!  :)

The weekend for me was definitely a great jump start to my IMAZ training and got me fully excited for getting back into some bigger miles!  I haven't ridden 165 miles in a weekend for a long time!  It's always really nice to ride somewhere new and different and to keep things fresh with new training partners.  VERY much worth the drive.

Now...where shall I invite myself to next?  ;)  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kona/Vegas (baby!)

This time last year I was packing my bags (and probably grumpily, my bike) and heading to Sin City for 70.3 Worlds.  I was also doing some very big miles in preparation for my 2nd Ironman in Kona.  It was a busy and exciting time of year.

After Kona last year when I was making the decision re: racing professionally vs AG for 2012, I did the pro/con list like you're supposed to do when making a big decision.  (okay, maybe I just did it in my head vs writing it out, but that still counts!)  Truthfully, one of the only cons on the list was the likelihood of missing out on Vegas/Kona this year.  I knew at the very least I'd be sitting out a year or two of these awesome races that had been the highlight of my seasons the past few years, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it!

So as the time approaches for championship season and many of my friends are packing their bags for Vegas and soon Kona, I evaluated (as much as I evaluate stuff...which is not that much!) how I was feeling. 

Answer?  Well, I'm feeling pretty awesome to tell you the truth!

The sadness that I predicted I'd feel about missing Vegas and Kona hasn't surfaced, not even one bit.  And I'm guessing that's for several reasons:

1) It wasn't Vegas and Kona themselves that I loved so much as it was the CHALLENGE that those two represented.  It was the excitement of getting to race the best of the best.  I still have that challenge - now pretty much every time I race, so I'm not missing out!

2) I still have much to look forward to in my season (I'd probably be sad if I was done for the year) and many more miles to train and race!

3) I have so many friends and teammates racing in Vegas and Kona and I feel so uber excited for them.  I can live vicariously through my friends!  :)

4) My decision to race pro was a good one for me.  You never know until you do it.  And before the year is out I may change my mind.  But for now, I'm happy to have done it.

So although I won't get to swim with the turtles anywhere this year (unless there are turtles in the Poconos??  :), or eat at Lava Java, I am okay with that.  And I'm also REALLY excited about my goal of trying to qualify for Vegas next year.  It's just the type of challenge that gets me up out of bed in the morning! 

And to all those that ARE racing this weekend and the first Saturday in October - ENJOY!  What an awesome opportunity.  I will be cheering you all on!

Vegas 2011.  It was hot!

Kona 2011.  It was REALLY hot.  And I got a big blister.  :)