Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...or whatever holiday you celebrate

Here's to hoping your holidays are filled with all the things that make life special.

We spotted this last weekend when we picked up our Christmas tree. A fir tree trimmed to look like a palm tree. What can I say, only in San Diego.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Little Help for Paratriathletes

Every once in awhile, I get a reminder that even on my crappiest run I'm blessed to be healthy enough to participate.   When I see an athlete who is competing with some physical limitations - blindness, prosthetic limbs - I'm in awe.  I'm also grateful for my chubby, imperfect body.

There's currently a bid to include paratriathlon in the next Paralympic Games. (The Paralympics are held immediately after the Olympics. The next games will be in Rio de Janeiro.)  The bid is a solid one, with support from the US, Canada, Spain, England and France.  It's no shoe-in. There are other sports trying to be included and they won't all make it.  The decision will be made this weekend in Beijing.

Paratriathletes are awesome athletes by any standard.  They simply want their sport included in the games.  If you want to help make it happen, then show your support on their Facebook page.  They're trying to get to 5,000 members today to show widespread support for these athletes.

2010 Paratriathlon Team, for Paralympic inclusion

Friday, November 19, 2010

Walk This Way

With my new job, I'm commuting from San Diego to Los Angeles more frequently.  The only sensible way to do that is via the train.  Something about being from the East Coast makes me love public transportation.  Even when I lived in car-centric Texas, I rode the train from Dallas to my job in Fort Worth.

After I disembark from the train, I have to walk about a mile in my business shoes.  (Usually with that annoying Sheena Easton Morning Train song stuck in my head.) I could take a second pair of shoes, but it seems like such a hassle.  Instead, I bought myself some nice wedges and I do the walk in those.  I've always assumed wedges weren't very comfy.  When we were kids, my grandmother bought my sister an extremely heavy pair of wedge shoes.  After of day of those shoes weighing down her legs she came home and solemnly told my mom she had polio.  I'm not sure how my sister picked polio, but my mom still laughs that my sister said that.

All that back story to say, yesterday I was walking to the train and tripped in my supposedly-comfortable wedge shoe.  I twisted my ankle something fierce.

Damn.  No running for me this weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Secret (Stupid) Plan

Last week, I got this idea. What if I ran 18 miles last Saturday and 21 miles this Saturday. Then I'd upgrade from the half marathon to the full marathon in Las Vegas in December. Neat!

Admittedly, last Saturday wasn't the ideal time for an extra long run. We had house guests for the weekend and Saturday afternoon we were hosting a barbecue at our place. I had all the major pre-party work completed and Steve stepped up to do all the day-of-party details. While I headed out for a run, Steve, his brother and his cousin spent the morning setting up tables and chairs on the patio and picking up food and ice.

Of course, I didn't mention the "Upgrade to Full Marathon" plan to Steve. We've both done the full marathon. He knows, and I know, that I wouldn't be well prepared with just one 18 mile and one 21 mile run. I'd be prepared, but not well prepared. With the consistency of my training base, I could probably do a (very ouchy) full marathon today.

During my run on Saturday at about mile 11, it finally hit me. This is not the way I want to run races. It's not enough for me to just finish; I want to run strong. Yes, I could do the full marathon. It would not be fun and I wouldn't run well, but I could do it.

And that was the end of the "Upgrade to Full Marathon" plan. I ran 16 miles and went home to a fabulous family and a yummy barbecue.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Someone Who Gets Me!

Frazz explains why lots of us feel compelled to do endurance events.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

So This Is Off Season

My Century Ride is 6 months from now.  Vineman Triathlon 8 is months from now.  The ultramarathon is 12 months away. I have a half marathon in a few weeks, but that's at my current training level.  This is the first time in three years I haven't had a big event looming in my immediate future. To my great shock, I'm having an off-season.  I've never had an off-season.  I'm sort of at a loss.

I'm trying to figure out a training schedule.  Oh, and I changed jobs so my entire life schedule has changed too.  I'm just trying to figure it out.  Right now, here's the plan.

Monday: Double Spin Class
Tuesday: Swim
Wednesday: Track run
Thursday: Conditioning
Saturday: Long run

It's lots of new stuff. I've never done track training, but everyone tells me it'll make me much faster. My adventures in spin class have been few and far between, but two hours of high calorie burn can't hurt me.

Off season.  It's harder than I expected.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I'm In!

Registration for the Vineman Half Ironman opened last night at midnight. I stayed up way past my bedtime to make sure I could get a spot in the race. I'm registered! I'm in! I'm going to do a half Iron Man.

Here's the funny part. As I got into bed, Steve asked if I was registered. I giddily told him yes, I was. And then I asked, "Hey, should I register you too?" After some discussion, he decided he'd register too. Steve's reserving the right to pull out by the March deadline. His training goals for next year were focused on endurance cycling. He'll need to see how triathlon training fits into the mix, but if he decides to go for it, he's got a spot in the race.

I'm in! And I've got a training buddy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Race Notes: Denver and Los Angeles Half Marathons

I wrapped up October with two half marathons seven days apart.

The Denver race was first. As usual, I was using the my Garmin 405 GPS to time my run/walk intervals.  I've had the watch for over a year and it's never once worked correctly in a race. After hundreds of runs where the Garmin screwed up, it actually worked in the Denver race. Unfortunately, I screwed up.  The night before the race,  I changed my normal run/walk intervals to give myself a shorter run and a longer walk.  I was having trouble breathing in Denver's thinner air and I figured I'd need to change my run/walk ratio.  I over corrected.  I did need the shorter run, but the longer walk was a waste of time.  The other issue in Denver was chafing of the chub rub/inner thigh variety.  Between the long walk intervals and chub rub, I had a slow day.

Los Angeles was advertised as a fast, flat course.  Lies!  All lies!  It was all hills.  None of the hills were especially steep, but it was unrelentingly up and down.  In more Garmin misadventures, I forgot my Garmin at home.  I was worried about that since I hadn't run without a GPS in several years, but it was fine.  Overall, I was pretty close to my normal race pace despite all the hills and heat.  Not bad considering I didn't have my watch for pacing.

I'm off from racing until December.  I could run the Silver Strand Half Marathon, but I'm going to skip it.  I need a little break.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Colorado and Garden of the Gods

This weekend I headed up to Colorado for the Denver Half Marathon. (Up literally, to the Mile High City.) It's been a long time since I took a pleasure trip without Steve or a friend. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever traveled for pleasure by myself. I travel alone for business all the time so it's not like I'm an inexperienced traveler. However, when I travel for fun, I always have a companion.

Since it was just me, I didn't bother to plan anything. I was staying at a B&B.  Saturday morning at breakfast I asked the other guests what I should do. They suggested a visit to Garden of the Gods. I'd never been there, I always wanted to go. Years ago, I worked a corporate sales job. I had one client whose address was on "Garden of the Gods Road". I always thought that sounded so friggin' cool.

Saturday morning I picked up my race packet, then buzzed through the State Capitol, the Denver Art Museum and the King Tut exhibit.  That's one bonus of solo travel, you don't have to compromise on agenda.  Steve has a longer attention span than I do.

After my lightening speed tourism in Denver, I drove out to Garden of the Gods and just fell in love with it. My original plan was to just drive though, because I had a race in the morning.  I ended up staying until sunset and hiking some of the trails. It was simply irresistible to hike there.  Even though there were a lot of people there it was so lovely and peaceful.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

RNR San Jose Half Marathon

I applaud the San Jose Half Marathon for starting at an entirely civilized 8 AM.  If there's one thing I hate it's a race that starts at the crack of dawn.  A late start was especially good since we attended Steve's high school reunion the night before.  At a winery.  Yum and ouch.

San Jose is a pretty town with lots of nice residential areas, but the route was sort of boring.  One thing is that San Jose has lots of lovely trees.  All those trees made my allergies kick it up a notch and it was a snotty, snotty run.   I love trees. I grew up on a tree lined street and it was gorgeous.  Unfortunately, I was snotty every single day of my childhood.  Ask my mom, she'll verify.  The San Jose Half Marathon was the same thing - a constantly dripping, severely chafed nose.  Yuck.

I met some really nice women on the run.  (Dawn and Kirsten - I'm sorry I lost you toward the finish.  Email me and we'll hook up for the Denver race!)  It was a super fun run since I had buddies to run with who matched my pace.  That never happens for me and I loved it.With some buddies to run with, I kept my pace nice and consistent.  I didn't fade out in the final miles which was an improvement over the Philadelphia race.

Overall, a good race.  I'm targeting improving my time at both Denver (October 17) and Los Angeles (October 24).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Best Wedding Cake Evah!

My former cycling mentor, Jenny, is a fabulous baker of the most beautiful cakes.  I absolutely love this cake she did for a wedding.  The front is all flowers and normal wedding stuff.  The side and top have a robot, a giraffe, a monkey and NINJAs!

How awesome is it to have wedding ninjas?

Robot Giraffe Wedding Cake

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Good to have Goals

This weekend Steve and I started working on our 2011 race calendars.  For the last 2 years, it's been all about volume for me.  How many races can I jam into the calendar?  We've had a blast and visited great places.  My marathon medal collection is fantastic.  No regrets, but it's time to adjust the focus. When you race constantly you sacrifice performance.  Also, we're both worn out by all the weekend trips.

Here are the goals for 2011.

  • 1 ultramarathon.
  • Ironman California 70.3 and Vineman 70.3  (Hidden agenda item - I want to be at my goal weight by Ironman California.)
  • 1 endurance cycling event.

I'm also planning to do the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon just so I can visit my folks. Other than that, it's all low key and local.  San Diego has tons of half marathons and triathlons.  Those will make the calendar if they don't conflict with Steve's events, family stuff or the retention of our sanity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Philadelphia Half Marathon

With all the prep for the triathlon, I haven't really run long distances lately.  That's a whoops because I had the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday.  It's a shame this race got stuffed behind the tri, because I really love Philadelphia.  My family lives about an hour outside the city and this was a combo race trip/family visit.   This was also Steve's first trip to Philly and we did lots of tourist stuff.  We walked about 7 miles on both Friday and Saturday.  So much for pre-race resting.

The race was mostly a blur.  Here's what I remember...
  • Rocky theme playing at the start.
  • Running toward beautiful City Hall.  
  • Damn, it's humid.  Oh, there's the Liberty Bell. 
  • A course band plays the Rocky Theme.
  • It's so frigging humid that I'm wheezing. Stop running. Walking is good.
  • The Art Museum steps.  Fairmont Park.  Kelly Drive.  Boathouse Row.  Lots of shade to cool off.
  • Rocky theme on a boom box.
  • Think about TNT Honored Teammate Skip Gleavey.  His memorial bike ride is today.  Damn cancer.
  •  A drum circle plays the Rocky theme.
  • Hot, hot, hot.  Why is there no more shade?
  • Another runner gets hurt.  I run to next police person to send back help.
  • Course band plays the Eagles fight song followed immediately by Rocky theme.  It's official.  I hate Rocky and I hate his annoying theme.
  • Finish line.  Medal.  Kiss Steve. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tri With A Little Help From My Friends

After a long summer of preparation, it was finally my first triathlon. I was a mix of giddy, panicky, and teary. As I was unloading my gear, I realized that everyone - absolutely everyone - had better equipment than I did. The other competitors had better bikes and fancy, expensive gear. I decided that I wasn't going to worry about it.

I set up all my transition area exactly as I practiced. Then I walked the transition zone several times locating "Swim in", "Bike Out", "Bike In" and "Run Out". I also met the women assigned to the transition spots near mine. One competitor, Donna, took me under her wing and she was an awesome companion while we waited nearly an hour for our age group to start.

As we were standing waiting to get into the ocean, I looked around at the other competitors. I was the only person not wearing a wetsuit. They are all in sleek black wetsuits with their official swim caps. I'm in my hot pink triathlon suit. When I'm a novice at something I just want to blend in with the crowd. There's no blending in when you're the solitary hot pink in a sea of black. I told them that they were my back up dancers. If I can't blend in, then I'd rather have people laugh with me than at me.

The San Diego Tri Club offered "swim buddies" to first time triathletes. Swim buddies are experienced open water swimmers who'd swim along side of you. I ran over and asked for buddy as we were heading to the dock to jump in the water. When I jumped in, I started to hyperventilate. It was silly, because I'm a really strong swimmer and the water wasn't that cold. My swim buddy, Monica, helped me calm myself in time for the start. After all that, the swim was easy. As I rounded the first buoy I called out to Monica that I was having so much fun. I surprised myself by zipping out of the water in the ahead of many of the women in my age group. As I headed to the transition zone, I called out my thanks to Monica.

Transition to the bike went exactly as planned. The bike ride wasn't so great. My bigger, heavier, mountain-geared bike was a slow ox on the bike course. Plus I had some problems with the gears not shifting correctly. I'd pedal behind someone matching their cadence exactly and I'd watch them pull away from me steadily. I watched lots women that I'd smoked on the swim, zip by me on their fancy bikes. It was very, very frustrating. I passed one person on the bike ride - and that's because he had a flat tire.

Other than the slowness, I wrapped up the bike course without incident. The bike-to-run transition went according to plan and I was out on the run. At that point, my legs were tired from trying to keep up with everyone on the bike. I ran when I felt like running and walked when I felt like walking. Mostly I relaxed on the "run" leg and savored the fact that I got myself to the finish line of a triathlon.

Here's the deal. It was challenging, but I loved it. I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Triathlon Expo Day - Now With More Stress!

The day before my race was the Triathlon expo. The whole day was one giant stress ball.

Saturday morning, I woke up with incredibly sore shins and thighs due to a 3 mile hike I made on high heels.  Ouch and Dumb.  Steve was out on an 80 mile bike ride and I was planning to go to triathlon expo to listen to all the speakers.  I'd read a lot about tris and I trained, but I haven't had anyone to ask questions.

My plan was boogered when Steve called needing ride home because his bike wheel broke.   Normally, if one of the cyclists needs a ride, I'm happy to drive the sag wagon.  But this was my one day to absorb everything I possibly could to prepare me for my race.

To fetch Steve, I made a 70 mile trip in our beater pick-up with no AC. It was hot in there with my temper and stress just boiling.  Poor Steve dropped me off at the Expo and headed off to continue his misadventure.  In the 3 mile drive home, he got a flat tire.  He changed the tire, only to find out the spare had a small leak too.  He had to walk his bike home for about a mile and a half.  A broken bike wheel and 2 flat on the truck - it just wasn't his day with wheels.

I was finally at the expo where I learned that everyone else had a wet suit.  Everyone.  On the race website, it said wet suits weren't needed.  And I believed them.  Liars!  When I told people I wasn't wearing a wet suit they told me I was brave.  I wasn't brave; I was gullible.

Luckily, I got some really good advice from the Tri Club of San Diego. They quickly taught me how to layout my gear and how to transition efficiently.  I'd read most of this stuff, but having someone review it was incredibly helpful  After the Tri Club people set me straight I felt nervous, but okay.  Thank you Tri Club. (Really, I love you Tri Club.  Call me.)

Saturday night, I got to hang out with my friend Debbie and some of her friends.   Debbie is one of my original TNT teammates and a bunch of women at the party had done tris.  They managed to dump some additional information into my head.  I felt like I was cramming for an exam and hoped to absorb enough information to pass.

When I got home, Steve was thoughtfully working on my bike. Taking care of my tires, putting on a bike pump.  While he got my bike ready, I practiced my transitions.  Finally, I loaded my gear and my bike into my car.  Then set my alarm for 4:03 AM and collapsed into bed.

(Next entry...the big race day!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bike The Bay

This morning we hooked up with 2,700 other riders for the annual Bike the Bay ride benefiting the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

More importantly, I  rode my bike over this.
For Reals - I rode my bike over the Coronado Bay Bridge.  It looks sort of piddly in that photo, but it's 20 stories high at the peak.  It's tall enough for an aircraft carrier to pass under the bridge.  Peak - that means I needed to ride uphill and downhill (my nemesis!)  It was fine; I didn't panic.

Other than one moment where I thought I dropped my chain going into a turn, I had a very good ride. (Sorry for the folks behind me.  I know I stopped shorter than I should have.)  

That's two successful group rides in consecutive weekends. I'm ready for the bike section of the triathlon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Midnight Madness Bike Ride

Saturday night we rode our bikes in the 37th Annual Midnight Madness Fun Bike Ride.  It's 2,000 cyclists riding a 20 mile route through San Diego. The ride goes through some of the prettiest sections of downtown - along the bay, the Embarcadero, Little Italy, Old Town, Shelter and Harbor Islands.  I run those areas often, but never at night and it was beautiful to see the city lights and the boats lit up in the harbor.

Despite the fact the we had race bibs, it's a fun ride not a race.  There's a Light Your Bike contest.  Many of the cyclists are in costumes.  My personal favorite costumes were the people who showed up as astronauts with one cyclist towing the Apollo 11.  Fantastic!

Race or not, this is exactly the type of bike event that has terrified me in the past - the bedlam of a mass start, riding on the roads. I've really been working on my bike handling and it paid off for me.  The ride was fine and so was I.  Except for one little thing. The course was flat with some gentle rolling hills. Then there was one really steep downhill toward the end of the course.  I wasn't expecting it at all.  I turned a corner and suddenly it's a drop zone. I couldn't do it.  I had to walk my bike down the hill.

Okay, here's the thing.  I'm a perfectionist, not with other people but with myself. The fact that I had to get off my bike upset me.  A lot.  I was nearly in tears because I felt such a huge sense of failure for walking down a hill for a quarter of a mile. 

Let's get some perspective.  Saturday morning I did an exercise class followed by my full triathon workout:.Swim: 500 meters,  Bike: 15 miles, Run 3.5 miles. Saturday night, I started a ride at midnight and got past some of my big fears of group rides.  That's a day anyone should be proud to complete. Tears?  Over a hill?  I've got to get over it!

Setting high goals is a good thing.  Letting my perfectionist tendencies bring me to tears at the end of a fantastic day was just stupid. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Can't Explain It...

Steve and we're walking along Dog Beach.  It's a little stretch where everyone lets their dogs play in the waves. Very SoCal.

And sure, that's cool but how do you explain this.

This enormous iguana was riding the waves and body surfing back to the beach.  I cannot explain it, but it was cool.

Dog or iguana - which one do you see on your local beach?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today in Randomness

That's my photo on the cover of the book.  

A few months ago someone from the University of Nevada Press called me and asked to purchase the rights to one of my photos from Lake Tahoe.  She was searching Flickr for photos of Cave Rock and came across one of mine.  I was just tickled silly because I love to take photos, but frequently come home from vacation with less than 5 snapshots.  I always forget to take out the camera.  And if I actually take photos, then I'll forget to download them or post them.

That photo is a random bit of luck.  Steve was doing his big 100 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe and I was doing race support.  This was at a spot on the course where I was waiting for the cyclists.  I had some time to kill and fired off a few shots.

Me, a published photographer.  I'm just tickled.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In The Long Run

With all the triathlon training, I haven't done any long runs since June. I've done the occassional 7 or 8 mile run, but nothing substancial. 

For the last week Steve's mom was staying with us.  She got to spend lots of time with me, but no time alone with her son. On Saturday, she and Steve went on a long car trip to visit family.  I decided to opt out of the trip - that way they'd get some time alone together and I'd get a Saturday to run.  Whee!

I decided to set out for a 15 miler. That was a silly sort of goal since I wasn't really prepped for that distance and it's longer than any race I'll do this year. There's no reason for me to run 15 miles; I just wanted to run.  Honestly, I think the lack of long runs has made me a little bit disagreeable.

I didn't have a route mapped; I just ran where I felt like it.  I also didn't have the right nutrition so I stopped and bought a cookie and diet coke at about mile 12.  All in all, it wasn't a great run..  I walked a fair amount in the final miles (which might have had something to do with refueling with Cokes and cookies).  But it was nice to have the time alone with my running and my thoughts.  Sometimes I just need to run until I can make sense of everything.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bad Fashion Choices Continue to Haunt Me

Triathlon training is going well enough that I'm starting to have a lot of confidence that I'll finish the race.  This weekend I did a 25 mile bike ride followed by a four mile run.  I'm feeling really strong on the bike. Good times.

Three little mishaps to report:
  • Steve loaded my bike into my SUV for me and to do that he took off my front wheel.  When I load the bike, I just jam the whole thing into the truck so I've never had to remove the wheel or put the wheel on myself.  I couldn't figure out how to get the wheel on the bike and I was standing in the parking lot getting frustrated.  A nice man came along and did that for me.  Sometimes it's nice to be a girl. 
  • The other thing is that I decided to ride in my running clothes which wasn't the greatest idea I've ever had. I put my new saddle on the bike this week.  (And I did it myself!)  If you're looking for a sore butt, then you should ride 25 miles on a brand new saddle without padded shorts.  My butt-bones are not really happy with me today.  Also, I wore a running shirt instead of a bike shirt which is longer in the back.  The bike shirts cover you when you lean forward on the bike.  My running shirt left an 1 inch gap which is now incredibly, ouchily sunburned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Days Like This One Please

This weekend was a very rare treat for us - we had nothing scheduled.  Well, that's not exactly true.  We planned to go to a party Friday night and planned to see some friends Sunday evening.  We didn't have long workouts with running or cycling teams, neither of us had a race, we didn't have travel plans.

Saturday we did mostly nothing other than take care of some long overdue errands such as buying bookshelves.  Oh the excitement!  How long have we been looking for bookcases for the bedroom and kitchen?  Too long.  The king and queen of clutter must have bookshelves.

Sunday we went to the beach.  One of my great disappointments is that I live 10 minutes from the beach and don't swim in the ocean often enough.  I dutifully keep my swimsuit, beach towel and blanket in the car, but I rarely have time to swim.  Stevie and I were out of beach-going practice, so hauling stuff to the beach wasn't a fully efficient process.  As we were finding our spot on the sand, Steve looked at someone's beach umbrella and said "We need one of those."  I replied, "Steve, that's what you're carrying."  What can I say, he's like a Sherpa.  He's willing to haul whatever I hand him and he doesn't ask questions.

It was awesome.  The water was chilly and perfect and the waves were strong enough to knock your suit off. Swam, read, napped.  Perfect!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Knowledge Is a Good Thing

Tuesday night I went to a 90 minute seminar about basic bike maintenance.  When I've ridden before, I've always had Steve to deal with flat tires.  He's sort of my bicycle AAA.  At the triathlon, no one else can touch your bike.  If a tire pops, you've got to fix it yourself.  That meant I needed to get some knowledge.

The class was offered at REI for the low, low price of free.  Cheap is neat, but free is for me.  Of course, I live with someone who knows gobs about bikes and he'd have given me free advice too.  Sometimes it's easier to learn from someone neutral.

I'd have considered the night a success if I learned to change a tire.  The class was far better than I could have hoped.  In an hour and a half I learned to adjust my brakes, my shifting and my dĂ©railleur.  I also learned the correct way to clean and oil a chain and what to do if one pops off while I'm riding. Oh, and I did learn how to change a tire.

The bonus is I'm so much more confident about the bike.  Looking back, I should have taken a class ages ago.  I don't mind figuring things out on my own, but I appreciate having a head start on finding my way out of cluelessness.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Side Trips Are the Best Part of the Journey

I adore the long drive home from the Sierras.  When people think about California they think of beaches and LA and San Francisco.  Most of California is lovely, undeveloped space.  As we started the drive, I saw a beautiful river and pulled off the road so we could dip our feet in it.  Where I managed to pull off the highway, we had a climb down to the river.  As we started the descent we noticed someone quickly pulling on his pants from a skinny dip. He was a nice guy from Argentina and he mentioned that he'd spent the last few days visiting some nearby hot springs.

Hot Springs?  That would be perfect since Steve was recovering from his big ride. We had a cooler full of munchies, swimsuits and beach towels - we were perfectly prepared for this serendipitous side trip.  Our new Argentinian friend gave us some directions and we were off to find Buckeye Hot Springs.

After a few minutes lost on an unpaved fire road, we found the trail head.  I use the term "trail" loosely.  Mostly it's down a steep hill of granite and loose gravel.  Steve and I made the climb to the Springs and they were awesome.  The hot springs are tucked into a crevasse of rock. and they are hot at about 110 degrees.  The springs are right next to the Buckeye Creek which is icy cold with run off from the snow caps. You see the white rushing water in the photos? Cold creek.  The small calm circles? Hot, hot springs.

We spent a lovely afternoon soaking, relaxing and listening to the rushing water. It was a perfect gem of an afternoon. This photo is Stevie lounging in deliciousness of the hot side.

Monday, July 12, 2010

So Proud

We're home from Northern California and the Death Ride.  The Death Ride is over 100 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing (and descending!) the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  On a bicycle.

Of course I didn't ride that race, but Steve did.  After that horrible crash descending Mount Soledad on his bicycle 2 weeks ago, Steve decided he still wanted to ride the "California Alps" with the Team in Training ACE team.

Race morning we left our hotel at 3AM, the team started the ride by 4.  I spent the day handing out Cytomax to riders, directing traffic and cheering the cyclists.  Our team rode over 12 hours with every TNT cyclist completing the ride safely.  Not every rider in the race was so fortunate; there were lots of ambulances and Care Flights.  There were moments of heart stopping worry, but I'm so grateful that I got to have a tiny part in their day.

By the end of the day, Steve and 16 of his teammates completed all 5 mountain passes.  On bicycles. Wow.  I'm in awe of the team, the coaches and their mentor.  I'm just so proud of all of them.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

My New Bathing Costume

In my ceaseless internet searching about triathlon preparation, I did a bit of shopping for triathlon suits.  I decided that if I could find one for about $35 bucks, I'd buy it.  Since the tri-suits are usually about $100-$150, there was little danger that I'd find one in my size for an 80% discount. Then I ran across this one for the low, low price of thirty bucks..

Let's not kid each other.  I've purchased a hot pink full-body triathlon girdle.  It doesn't hold in the jiggly bits like a girdle, but it looks like a girdle.

Steve, in a fit of wisdom, kindness or self-preservation, told me it looked good.  I'm pretty sure I look ridiculous, but at least my fans will be able to spot me on the course.

Friday, July 02, 2010

No One Will Believe Us Now

Steve's bike crash left him with a nasty black eye and stitches.  I've taken a bit of teasing and so has he.  "What happened, did he forget to take out the trash?"  Domestic violence is no joke, but at some point you just go with it.  Now I say, "Yeah.  And that was just my left hand"

Today I stopped in to see my doctor for the routine prescription refills and asked her to look at this weird bump I have on my lip.  My dentist has been watching it for a few years, but at the last visit he said it had to be removed.  Nothing serious, but it's getting bigger and I bite on it occasionally.  Pack your bags, lip bump. Today my doctor it was just a mucocele (which is a scarred salivary gland).  She said she'd lance it and it would be gone.   She grabbed the lance, or more realistically a spear, and jammed it on in there.  Hmmm.  That thing did not budge so she referred me to surgeon who'll grab an even bigger spear and hopefully some local anesthesia.

When I got to the car, I caught my reflection in the rear view mirror.  The doctor's spear chucking left me with one huge fat lip.

Steve has a black eye.  I've got a fat lip.  No one is going to believe that there wasn't a brawl at our house.  Given the comparative bruises on the two of us - I totally dropped a beat down on him.  He'd better take out that trash.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

Last Saturday, I went for a run followed by my first long bike ride - long as in 12 miles.  Of course, it was 12 miles along the Coronado Bike path which isn't exactly challenging terrain. Other than crossing a few intersections, there were no cars.  I did have to contend with other cyclists some of whom rudely insisted on getting within 50 feet of me.  The other riders still make me panic.  And don't even get me started on roller bladers and dogs off their leash.  I'm positive that I will hit one or all of them.  Mostly, a bike ride is me saying to myself, "They see you. They see you. They don't want to crash into you."  I got better and by the end of the ride I could ride near people without completely losing my mind.

Instead of doing the normal triathlon order of ride then run, I decided to run first.  I got off to a bit of a late start and I decided that I'd rather run in what little remained of the cold morning air.  Plus, I figured if the ride was a wash out at least I'd have gotten a run.

Ran for 5 miles and then headed back to my car to get my bike.  That's when I looked down at my feet.
I ran for 5 miles in two different shoes. Completely different: different brands, different heel heights. One of those shoes didn't even have an insole in it. For years, I've been finicky about my running shoes and my precious custom orthotics. The threat of one little bike ride completely distracted me from my precious tootsies.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Running is a time specific workout.  Once I pick my training distance, I can accurately estimate my finish time. Cycling is totally different story. Steve can be delayed by a flat tire or a broken spoke. If any teammate has a mechanical problem or just a bad day, the whole team is delayed - maybe by a few hours. Every couple of months, Steve calls me to tell me that someone isn't able to finish the ride.  That's when I hop in the truck and pick them up.

When Steve called me last night from his regular Tuesday ride, I wasn't all that worried.  He said he'd taken a spill and that he had a cut on his forehead. Nope, he didn't need a ride home, but he'd be late. Then another friend called and said "We've got his bike and his stuff and they're loading him into the ambulance."  WTF!

The next hour was sort of a scramble of grabbing stuff for Steve (pajamas, food, eye glasses) and  heading to the hospital - the wrong hospital.  Then I got lost a second time by taking the wrong highway split.  Finally, I got to the correct ER. I must have had my "Don't mess with me" look on my face, because the ER nurse immediately walked me back to see Steve. If you work in the ER, let me give you a free tip.  Tell the family member what they're going to see.  I was visualizing a little knock on the head.  Not gushing blood, a swollen face and cervical collar.  How's about you give me a friggin' warning ER nurse?

Luckily, Steve is okay - no concussion.  (Thank you helmet!  A million thanks.)  He's got a wicked case of road rash on his face,  lots of stitches on his forehead and cheek and a shiner you wouldn't believe.  A little cosmetic damage and general soreness, but time, Neosporin, and Tegaderm will take care of that. 

If you'd have told me that one of us would have a bike accident this week, I wouldn't have guessed Steve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's As Easy As Riding A Bike

Triathlon training is coming along swimmingly (HA!) Yesterday, I did a good long workout: swam 500 meters, took an hour long spin class and ran 2.5 miles. That's nearly the distance I'll do in the race. I'm trying to make sure that I'm physically super conditioned for this race. The only thing that can get between me and the triathalon finish line is panic.

Steve offered to tune up my bike for me. When I got rid of the fancy road bike, I bought a heavy steel hybrid bike that I call Blue Steel. I've never actually ridden Blue Steel, but I'll occasionally throw it on the spin trainer and do a spin workout. Steve spent the better part of the afternoon getting Blue Steel ready for service. He got rid of the clip on pedals and he fixed the derailleur (Derailleur is the mechanism that shifts the gears.)

This is all well and good, but when Steve finished the job I needed to get on the bike. Somehow I've managed to completely paralyze myself in fear regarding the bike. I used to love to ride and spent hours on my bike. Granted my road cycling experience wasn't very good, but really, but there is simply no reason to have a panic attack at riding my bike in my friggin' neighborhood. Embarrassingly enough, I had to talk to myself for the entire 10 minute ride. By the time I got back to the house I was shaking.

Here's the plan. I'm going to ride every day - not far, just consistent riding until I don't have a panic attack at the thought of hopping on the bike.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Give It A Tri

Triathlon training is coming along well enough.  The tri I selected is a short race.  I'm reasonably confident I could finish the race today if there was some sort of emergency need for triathletes.  It would be difficult, but I think I could do it.

Mostly, I'm worried about the unknowns.  Endurance sports are a skill that you learn.  I know how to do a marathon - where to pin my race number, what to eat, how to manage my pace in the pack of runners.  Triathlons are tour through the unknown.  How do the transitions work?  Are there scary critters in the water? How deep is it?   Are there eels?  I've decided that eels are a real possibility.   And of course, there's the bike riding.  Road cycling has not been a friend to me.  What if I make a huge fool of myself and everyone laughs at me?

At least I know I'll be physically strong.  I've been swimming pool (no eels there!), spinning on the stationary bike and running. In my heart, I know training in the gym has none of the mental stresses of ocean swimming and road biking.   It's sort of like sky diving.  You can practice all day on the ground, but that doesn't mean you'll be able make yourself take that leap.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adventures in Landscaping

A few weeks ago, I was walking out to the garage and one of our landscape plants had sprung the creepiest looking thing ever. It was an enormous growth about a foot and a half long with a big, red curled tongue. Steve said it looked like the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

I'm from the East Coast, so much of the native desert plants look like weeds to me. This plant had always looked like a ten foot high weed which was bad enough. Now it had some creepy pod with a tongue sprouting out of it. It had to go!

I went back the a week later and things were sprouting out of the giant pod. Things that looked like baby fingers. It's time for google, because I'm getting pretty sure there's something evil in the back yard.

Do I kill it with Holy Water or do I kill it with fire?

After some searching, it's not sprouting evil. It's growing bananas. (Identified to beyummy edible bananas by the helpful folks at Nice! We like bananas.

Then I started counting and looking at ripe banana bunches - only a few of which you can see in this photo. Right now, I've got about 75 bananas and every leaf of that red thing is going to roll back and reveal more bananas. All of which will be ripe at the same time. If Steve and I both eat a banana a day...that's not enough.  We'll up our consumption to 2 bananas a day. And I'll make banana bread. And smoothies. And give some to the neighbors. And friends. And strangers.

It's a lot of bananas, but homegrown fruit is awesome.  Then I spotted this...another red pod that will be absolutely full of bananas.

I'm going to be the Bubba Gump of bananas.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I Was Completely Minding My Own Business

I was aimlessly goofing around on Facebook.  Somehow I surfed over and found out that the marathon series I like is branching out into triathlons...
 - And there's a sprint triathlon race here in San Diego.
 - And it's on a weekend that neither Steve nor I have anything scheduled.
 - And the bike ride is short and on non-scary roads.

None of that would have gotten me, but then I saw this...
Finisher's Medals.

Oh, Finishers Medals...I don't know how to quit you.

TriRock Sprint Triathlon
San Diego - Sept. 12th, 2010

Monday, June 07, 2010

Race Notes: RNR San Diego Half Marathon

The San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon is the race that started it all for me.   It's my hometown race and it's always a fun one.  Little mini accomplishment: In celebration of losing 40 pounds, I wore my original race day jersey.  It was nice to have that jersey fit me again.

During the race, I realized that this race sets the standard for me in terms of crowd support.  There are tons of people with signs, aid station volunteers in costumes, the "drag" cheerleaders, the bands.  The local fans make this a great race.

Thankfully, we started at 6:15 am (which required getting to the race shuttle at 4:45am...and I'm so not a morning person!).  The early start meant we were pretty far along before the heat kicked it up a notch.  The heat really hurt me.  I was super slow along the hottest stretch of Morena Boulevard.  The thing is you're so close to the bay, but the buildings block all the breezes.  The other, not-fun section was Hwy 163.  The road is sloped and it's difficult to run.  They year they had fantastic Taiko drummers to inspire you on the 163.  They were absolutely fantastic.

Early in the race, Mike Sheehy passed me on his way to completing his Guinness World Record run.  He ran over 400 miles in 7 days and raised $50,000 to cure cancer.  Wow.  In the last 2 miles I saw 5 of my TNT coaches from past seasons. That was really awesome and got me motivated for the final push to the finish line.  It wasn't a fast day for me, but it was a fun one.

(Photo credit: My friend Debbie who always remembers to snap pictures on the course!)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Serendipity Brings the Inspiration

This is a big weekend for us - I've got a half marathon and Steve is riding his first cycling brevet. (For those of you who aren't fluent in language of bike-geeks, a brevet is a timed, long distance bike ride.)  He's riding the 200km Kitchen Creek Brevet.  Go Stevie!

Last night my Thursday night nutrition class decided to meet at Mission Bay for a walk. There were some minor hijinks going on at our normal classroom building; therefore, a change of venue was in order.  This was lucky for me since Mission Bay has a 5 mile running / walking / biking trail that goes around the bay.  Mission Bay was the perfect spot to log some quick miles and work out the pre-race kinks.

Last night as was trotting along the oh-so-familiar path along the bay, I saw the Team In Training tent.  What is TNT doing on at Mission Bay on a random Thursday?  Oh, yes.  One of our TNT runners, Mike Sheehy, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the most miles run in 7 days.  He's run 70 miles a day for the last 5 days. Seventy. A 7 and a 0.  That's, you know, an awful lot.    He's not just going to break the world record.  He's going to crush it.  He'll break it today by running 352 miles in 5 days.  He's going to keep running for the next two days just because he can.  He's doing it all as a fundraiser for cancer research. Take that cancer.

Embarrassingly enough, he'll finish his world record run by completing the full marathon on Sunday.  After running 500 miles this week he'll do the full marathon.  I've been sitting in my office chair all week and I'm only doing the half marathon.

I feel like such a slacker.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seen While Running - In the Navy

San Diego is such a beautiful, interesting place that every run is filled with things to see.  Part of the reason I enjoy running alone is that there's no conversation to distract me from my people watching.   

Today I needed to crank out 11 miles and I didn't have a run mapped.  I decided to do a big loop around the Big Bay and actually ran 14 miles. It's a flat, scenic route: downtown San Diego, the USS Midway, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Tall Ship Star of India and a loop around Shelter Island. 

You always see a bunch of Navy ships in the Big Bay.   As I started the Shelter Island loop, I saw a giant Navy boat headed out to sea.  The sailors were "Manning the Rails" which means all the crew are standing around the edge of the boat.   I've heard they man the rails when they enter port, but I'd never seen it.  The San Diego bay only has one opening to the Pacific and the boat was definitely leaving.

It was very, very sweet.  Retired Navy guys who were sitting around fishing would get out of their lawn chairs as the boat passed by them.  People were looking at the boat with binoculars...maybe trying to get one last glimpse of their loved one headed far away.

Run Notes:  It was windy and chilly for the first part of the run and I completely forgot to drink for the first 4 miles.  Stupid! My hydration never really got caught up even though I was chugging fluids.  I ran out completely and had to stop at Point Loma Seafood and get a refill of water.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Race Notes: IronGirl 10K

I love the IronGirl race series.  I love that it's a race for women and girls.  It's not that I want to see men excluded, but there just aren't enough activities that encourage young girls to run and play.   In a world that constantly tells women to be thinner it's great to see a race that encourages young women to be more healthy and fit.

Plus, IronGirl has the best swag. This year they gave way: insulated lunch bags, nice technical shirts, shopper bags, full size bath products, nutrition bars, stuffed animals.  I wasn't even trying to collect freebies; they were pretty much chasing you down to give you stuff.  There's a catered post race breakfast.  And of course, there were finishers medals.  You know that I'm all about the finisher's medal - I run for the bling.

It's with a heavy heart I have to say anything bad about this race.  However, the course was really rotten this year.  The race was in Del Mar and Solana Beach, two lovely coastal towns slightly north of San Diego.  The race started at the Del Mar thoroughbred race track which is about 500 yards from the Pacific Ocean. This is an overview of the 6 mile/10K course:
Mile 1:  Loop around the parking lot.
Mile 2, 3:  Loop on the streets on the perimeter of the parking lot
Mile 4: Highway 101
Mile 4.5, 5, 6: Perimeter of the parking lot and redux of the first parking lot loop.

So yes, the race was well less than a mile from the beautiful Pacific Ocean and we spent 90% of the race running around the parking lot. A race that went along the coast and I never saw the ocean or sand or a surfer dude in his sexy wetsuit.  That's craziness!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Feet at the Happy Buddha

Sometimes I get caught by an idea that will not let me loose.  This week I decided that I should go for a foot reflexology  treatment.  I've never been for reflexology and know nothing about it, but the idea would not be denied.   Of course, I didn't want to go alone; therefore, I decided that Steve also needed foot reflexology.  Steve's a good sport and he agreed to join me in a visit to the Happy Buddha Reflexology Spa
We didn't know what to expect. We got there and the place was dimly lit and absolutely quiet except for some soft music.  Occasionally, you'd almost hear someone whisper but most they just mouthed the words.  The room had six super big lounge chairs that sort of resemble Craftmatic Adjustable Beds.  As we sat down, we were served some lovely tea and the reflexologist reclined the chairs for us and gently put our feet in hot water scented with Chinese herbs.  Ahhh.

What happened next was a take no prisoners attack on any possible muscle tension or knot.  I'm not sure how these guys train to be reflexologists, but I'm pretty sure they can squeeze coal into diamonds with their bare hands.  You wouldn't believe their hand strength.  While my feet soaked the therapist worked on my head, neck, shoulders and arms.  No gentle soothing strokes, this is serious drilling into tense spots.  I had no idea there was so much tension in my forearms and triceps.  It was Heaven.

After about 20 minutes the therapist moved on to my feet.  Wow.  Running creates a lot of tense tendons and ligaments in your feet.  When I had plantar fasciitis, I was supposed to roll my foot on a golf ball to break up the scar tissue.  That golf ball had nothing on this.  Any remaining scar tissue probably dissolved out of pure fear.   I wouldn't call it relaxing and sometimes it hurt a bit, but wow my feet felt great.  The hour wrapped up with some work on my shins (ouch! good!), calves and thighs.

All this for the low, low price of thirty bucks which is an unbeatable value for a full hour.  If you're someone who likes a very, very firm massage or you have tense muscles and tootsies or you just like to try new stuff, then I highly recommend you give foot reflexology a try.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I'm With Lynsey

Today was Lynsey's first ever 5k.  Syl organized a bunch of bloggers to run with her.  Of course, we're geographically spread out, so our run "together" took place thousands of miles apart.

For me this was the IronGirl 10K. Check out my race bib, 'cause I'm with Lynsey!

By the way Lynsey, if you want the duck and some race swag to commemorate our group run, email me your address.  I'll send it to you..

Friday, May 07, 2010

Race Notes: Lehigh Valley Half Marathon

It had been years since I've been back to the Pennsylvania in the Springtime.  I'd forgotten how amazing it is when everything blooms at once. Winter is replaced by bright green leaves, fluffy pink cherry blossoms,  white dogwood trees and azalea bushes that look like giant pom poms of hot pink, coral and purple.  I love living in Southern California and I loved Texas, but it's hard to beat Pennsylvania in the spring.

After a few spectacular days which were warm and sunny, race day was cold, gray and rainy.  Not fair, but that's how it goes.  Right before I left for the race, my mom suggested that I swap out my tank top for a long sleeved shirt.  Mom knows best. I was really happy that I wore the warmer shirt because it was cold on the race course.

More and more, I'm loving these smaller races.  This one was only 4,000 people and it was wonderful.  We started from my high school gym - oye, the Clearasil scented nostalgia.  The race looped around the city parks and through a 150 year old covered bridge.  The race finished on the track of the stadium where I'd done more wind sprints than I care to remember..

Mostly, I had a good race.  Part of the course was on crushed gravel which was soft and cushy, but kept filling up my sneakers. I had to empty my shoes three times.  What do other people do to keep their shoes from filling with rocks?  I must learn this secret.  My other little mishap happened at mile 6. I passed a Team in Training runner limping along with an aching IT band.  I told her I'd run ahead and send back a coach to help her.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a coach which is odd since I normally see our coaches every few steps on the course.  Eventually, I found a way to cut across the course and loop back around to were I remembered seeing a coach.  Of course, this whole adventure added about a mile to the run.   However, I did get to run twice through the covered bridge, so I guess we'll call that a bonus.

Since I'd run a little farther than I'd planned, I nearly missed seeing my parents on the course.  My mom and dad were waiting for me at course mile 12 (or Christine mile 13).  I was trotted along and finally heard my dad call me. I was already a bit past them, but got to stop and say hi after the course looped around for the final stretch.  It's always awesome to see a friendly face on the course - especially on a cold, wet, longer-than-I-planned run.

Overall, this was one of the nicest races - lovely setting, great volunteers, yummy post race goodies, bands along course, a gorgeous finisher's medal and a polar fleece jacket instead of the usual race tee shirt.

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, I'll definitely see you next Spring.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My "New" Running Skirt

This week I went on an archeological dig into our garage to find some smaller sized running clothes.  In the last few months, I've lost over 30 pounds of fat.  (Yeah!)  The capris that I had been using for running  were just ridiculously big.

As I was digging through the Rubbermaid container of running clothes,  I rejected a bunch of things.  A few are still too small, but some I remember as problematic for extended workouts.  One shirt has a seam that chafes.  My adorable purple running skirt with the white shorties underneath?  Super-adorable before the workout.  However, when those white shorties get wet with sweat they are completely sheer. 

Today I took my gray, once-again-fitting Brooks running skirt out for a run around Lake Miramar. I remember buying this skirt and how much I loved the pockets.  Sooo cute.  There was something annoying about it, but I couldn't remember what.  When I started running, I thought I figured it out - the drawstring doesn't stay tied.  Annoying.

I don't run Lake Miramar often enough.  It's a perfect 5 mile loop around the lake. At mile 2.5, I realized it's not the drawstring that's the problem.  The shorties under the skirt,  they creep up.  Now maybe you're a lady whose thighs don't rub together.  My thighs rub.  Together.  With enough friction to cause a forest fire.

There are few things less welcome at the halfway point of a run than chub rub. I had 2.5 miles to go of walking like I'd just gotten out of the saddle.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tips for New Runners - Avoiding the iPod Fumble

Ignore the picture in the iPod ads.  The proper place for headset cords is behind your body not in front.

On a short run, you don't notice the headphone cords.  On a long run, those cords can be an annoyance.  When you're tired, your arms tangle around cords which is annoying at best.  At worst, the iPod disconnects from your headset and gets yanked out of your pocket.  You're left wearing your tuneless headset and hoping that your iPod will jump up from the ground.  As my friend Debbie told me, "After mile 18, I won't bend over to pick up anything but diamonds or my car keys".  

Here is how you avoid this nonsense.  The headset cord goes behind your body.  Best option, loop the cord through you ponytail holder or the back of your baseball cap. That makes the cord very secure and it won't flop all over the place.  

Extra special benefit: with the headset secured in place, you can pop out one or both ear phones if needed.  Let's say, you run on a bike path.  It's nice to be able to pop out one ear phone so you can hear bikes coming up behind you.  Same goes for people who run along roads with high traffic.  For women running alone being able to hear someone coming up behind you is a safety issue.

Don't believe those iPod ads.  Cords to the back - it's the wave of the future!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Shake, Rattle and Roll

You might have heard we had a little earthquake on Easter Sunday.  Actually, it was a pretty good rumbler at 7.2.  Once again, I completely missed it.  I've felt exactly one earthquake in four years.  When that happened I was almost giddy, because I finally, finally felt one.

On Sunday, the earthquake happened while Steve was driving us home from LA.  As we rolling down the 405 freeway, Steve asked me if I thought we were getting a flat tire because he felt some vibration. Steve pulled over and yes, we were getting a flat.  If we felt the earthquake at all, it was mixed up in all the tire vibration. 

After a quick call to AAA for a tire change, we were on the way home. The funny thing is that I have AAA, because every Easter my parents give a membership to their children and grandchildren.  We always got Easter presents; I was shocked to learn other kids only got candy and not gifts..  Whatever you grow up with it what you think is normal.  The gifts weren't big things, but useful things - socks,  clothes, AAA memberships.  When Steve and I started dating, I got him a AAA membership for Easter...because that's what you do.

As we were waiting for the AAA guy, I told Steve my parents would be really happy about this turn of events.  I've never gotten to use my Easter present on Easter Sunday.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Hurray for Hollywood

Steve and I headed up to Hollywood for the weekend.  Steve's a big film noir fan. The annual Noir City Film Festival was playing at the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.  Going to a glamorous theater like the Egyptian makes you lament that all the new cinemas are just generic 20 theater cell blocks.  The Egyptian is such a special place to watch a movie.

Since we put this trip together at the last minute we didn't have a lot of hotel options.  We ended up staying at the Roosevelt Hotel.  The Roosevelt is the basis for the Hollywood Tower of  Terror ride at Disney World and Disneyland.  I love that ride; I've probably ridden it over a hundred times.  The interior of the hotel is eerily like the ride - even things like the fountain in the courtyard match the ride.  Every time I got into the elevator I got the creeps, 

We spent the weekend checking out the stars on the Walk of Fame, going to the films, shopping at Amoeba Music, and swimming in the hotel pool.  (The photo is one I snapped from the pool on my camera phone.) We also got to see some friends from the LA area which was awesome.

And of course, we made the obligatory stop at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.  It may be our new Easter tradition...Roscoe's.  I don't even want to think about how many workouts I'm going to need to do to sweat off that fried chicken.  It's so delicious that it's worth it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

T is for Terminator

After a long wait, my Insanity Workout DVDs arrived yesterday.  I was so excited that I almost popped one in immediately.  If we wouldn't have had a family dinner planned, there would have been no stopping me.

I like workout videos - really tough ones.  In a perfect world, I'd have time to go to the gym every day.  In the real world, I have enough time to workout but I don't have that extra hour that a gym workout requires. (Pack the gym bag, driving there after work, locker room...)  The DVD workout solves the problem. 

Since I like the workouts to be tough, I've been cautiously looking forward to Insanity.  I don't always like a new instructor and I've never done any of Shaun T's workouts. The workout is billed as lots of plyo, lots of drills, lots and lots of sweat.  In the past, I've conquered P90X and 10 weeks of Chalean. (Yeah, I trimmed off 2 weeks off Chalean, sue me.)  If you've done P90X, then you probably felt like the instructor Tony Horton was your buddy.  If you met him in an airport, you'd buy him a drink. You're buds, you and Tony.

Shaun T is not your friend.  If you met Shaun T in an airport, he'd command you pull the airplane to your destination.  When you got there, he'd give you 30 seconds to get a sip of water and then want you to do jump squats.  Shaun T is only happy when a sweat puddle forms on the floor.  Shaun T wants you to do burpees until your dead.

Of course, this makes me love Shaun T with my rapidly beating heart.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Here is a photo of my two nieces.  The "Little Sister" is the one who had open heart surgery just a few days after she was born.  We are so blessed that she had excellent doctors and nurses at a world class children's cardiac care facility. She's also got an older sister who adores her.

Bonus photo: Here's a photo of all of my little nieces and nephews.  This one was taken a few months ago.

It's so wonderful how close the kids are.  So many kids today grow up without an extended family.  These kids have cousins, aunts and grandparents who they see almost every day.  These are some lucky, healthy, beautiful kids.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Marched On Without Me

March 2010 will always be known as that month I had a cold.

This was the single yuckiest cold I've ever had.  It wandered around my body on some sort of grand tour of malaise.  First, it was a sore throat, then a chest cold, then a sinus infection, then an ear ache, then a chest cold again, then swollen glands, then back to the ears.  That cold was everything but a UTI and athlete's foot.  Plus, I was tired all the time.  Run?  I needed a nap after a quick walk.

So yeah, the cold sucked but it wasn't worth a doctor visit since I was 95% sure it was a virus.  If it's a virus and it's past the first 36 hours, there's nothing the doctor can give you but sympathy.  Antibiotics won't work and I was past the window of efficacy of an antiviral medication.  I'm not someone who begs for antibiotics when they'll do no good. 

Finally, the cold continued it's grand tour and manifested as pink eye.  PINK EYE. That got me to the doctor, because pink eye is some ugly, ouchy and contagious stuff.  The doctor said, "Yup, viral, but take the antibiotic eye drops just in case." 

The antibiotics drops wiped out the pink eye is 2 doses.  I'm not a doctor, but antibiotics work on bacteria.  If the drops work, then this isn't viral.  This is one of those times it's awesome to live so close to the Mexican border.  Whenever I go over to Mexico, I pick up a stockpile of meds - Retin-A, antibiotics.  If you took a peak in the average San Diegian's medicine chest it would look like a farmacia.

I dug into my handy stockpile of Mexican antibiotics and in two days I was healed completely.  Whee!  I'm so happy to be healthy again.  I can't wait to run this weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dallas - The Slipper Doesn't Fit

The trip to Dallas was wonderful in many ways.  I got to see lots of old friends.  Usually, I show up and I'm with 10 or 15 people for dinner each night.  That's fun and awesome, but even for an extrovert like me it's overwhelming. It also means that I don't get to really talk with people.  This trip, I met up with friends in small groups which meant I got to hear about their lives.  I also didn't guilt myself into going to lunch with people that I knew well, but are ultimately toxic to me.

Dallas was my home for 10 years and I was happy there.  I never wanted to leave.  Being back there absolutely confirmed that I made the right decision to move to the West Coast.  I'm at home with the laid back people in San Diego, the Pacific ocean, and the unrelentingly perfect weather.  I miss my friends from Dallas, but the city doesn't feel like home any longer.  I have the same feeling when I visit my family on the East Coast - love the people dearly and everything is familiar.  It's just not where I'm supposed to be.

Another good thing is that I was basically on plan with eating for the entire trip.  This trip could have been the perfect storm of bad food choices - lots of restaurant meals, "souvenir foods" and post-race calorie-fest entitlement.  I was basically able to stick to the plan.  Go me!

Got home to San Diego to find poor Steve sick with whatever croupy mess I had last week.  Poor guy, he hasn't even started the coughing phase yet.  He might have been able to skip this cold, but his race this weekend really beat down his immune system. (Not-so-Fun fact: endurance activities put you at higher risk for respiratory infections.) The one thing I didn't like about the trip was that I missed Steve's race.  Last night,  I put all of his events on my race calendar. Why didn't that occur to me sooner?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Race Notes: Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon

Today was the change to daylight savings time which added just a bit of worry to getting to the start on time.  I'm staying at the Hyatt.  Yesterday, there was a note on the bed that said the room had a smart clock which would update automatically for daylight savings.  Dear Guest, Don't touch the clock.  The note also said that the clock wasn't reliable.  If you had to be somewhere on time you should set a wake-up call.  So the clock is smart, but lazy.  Or maybe the clock just doesn't like you.  Either way, don't trust that smarty-pants clock.  (BTW, it didn't work, but my cell phone alarm did the job flawlessly.)

Steve isn't with me this trip since he's a road coach on the TNT cycle team.  His team had their event, the Solvang Century, yesterday.  (Go TEAM!  You guys rocked it!)  Normally, I'd never schedule an event during his race weekend.  I screwed up the dates and accidentally double booked us.  On most race mornings, I dress in the dark so Steve can snooze.  This morning, I had the lights on and actually looked at myself in the mirror.  I've lost a lot of weight recently - certainly a few pants sizes.   When I ran in New Orleans, I had to retie the drawstring on my running pants because they were sort of falling down.  I didn't want to buy race clothes right before the race since I wouldn't have time for a long test-run.  This morning I looked in the mirror and these pants are ridiculously huge.  Why didn't anyone tell me I was looking like MC Hammer? 

The race itself was good.  I lived in Dallas for a decade and it was nice to see the city.  The course showed some of the nicer spots - downtown, the new money mansions in Turtle Creek and the old money mansions on Swiss Avenue, finally into Fair Park to the finish line at the Cotton Bowl.  The finish line was annoying in that you couldn't see it until mile 13.05.  I hate a hidden finish line.  I want to see it because it gives me a little boost for that last half mile.  Also since we ended at Fair Park, I was really hungry for a Fletcher's corn dog.

I'm still a tad sick, but luckily I didn't have a coughing fit for the entire race.  I was congested, but I can deal with that.  A coughing fit would have been a real problem mid-race.  I got across the finish line and immediately started on a coughing spasm that lasted for several minutes.  Of course, this happened directly in front of the medical tent.  No Doctor, I'm not having an asthma attack; I'm just clearing out 13.1 miles of phlegm.

All in all a good race - LISA, how did you do?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Time for Our Annual Performance Review

I got sick again. Luckily I'm on the mend in time to run in Dallas, but for the last few days my chest has been a raspy cavern of sticky phlegm. These repeated bouts of colds annoy me greatly, because I’ve always been a wonderfully healthy person.  Immune system, why hast thou forsaken me?

At work, I’ve spent the last few weeks writing and delivering performance reviews. It’s a necessary part of my job, but after awhile you start writing everything as though it was going to be reviewed by HR. If I had to write a review for my immune system, this would be it.

Immune System, while you’ve continued to stave off big diseases, your attention to day-to-day details has been poor.

This year, you’ve allowed a lot of germs to sneak past your defenses. There was a sinus infection in September, a cold for New Years Eve and the current illness. Also, the duration of illnesses is unacceptable. In the past you were motivated to knock out an problems in a day or two. Now things linger for days and weeks despite the support of antibiotics, Mucinex and hours of rest on the couch reading trashy novels. As an example, the latest cold has lingered long enough for me to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Of course, any performance improvement discussion should include behavior changes for both you and me. I commit to continuing to provide support in the form of annual flu shots, fastidious hand washing and sound nutrition. I’ll further commit to getting a reasonable number of hours of sleep and trying to reduce my stress level.

Immune system, you need to step up your game. In prior years, you were a stellar performer; therefore, I know the high level of quality that you’re capable of delivering. Lets target having the remainder of 2010 be free of flu, infection and colds.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Race Notes: Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon

I knew this was going to be an awesome race as soon as hit play on my Ipod.  When I crossed the starting line on Tchoupitoulas Street, the first song on the shuffle was perfect for the day.  Out of thousands of songs in my running mix, the Ipod picked, Dr. John's Back to New Orleans.  That had to be a good omen.

I loved this race.  Probably the most consistently beautiful course I've ever run.  It's everything good you hear about New Orleans - the Mississippi, the Garden District, creepy Lafayette Cemetary,  the French Quarter and the glorious homes up Esplanade Avenue.  Every street was lovely and the people were wonderful.  (It was the first time I had someone smoking a cigarette hand me a cup of water at an aid station.)

I ran slowly, but comfortably for the entire race.  I was a bit worried since my training has really suffered since January.  Between my swollen ankle and moving houses, I lost a lot of training time.  The weight loss more than made up for the reduced training time.  It's a lot easier to run if you drop 15% of your tonnage.

One more thing I have to cheer - the pre-race potty situation.  If you've ever raced you know the worst thing is that there are never enough port-o-lets at the starting line.  A marathon start is 20,000 over-hydrated people showing up at one time; there are always huge lines to get to a port-o-lets.  I've stood in bladder-busting lines that were 20-30 people deep. This race had the best bathroom innovation ever.  Each starting corral had 5 port-o-lets inside the corral itself.  No need to leave your corral to stand in long bathroom lines and hope you can make it back in time to cross the start line.  Brilliant.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Things We Loved About New Orleans

  • The residential architecture. As much as I love Southern California’s craftsman cottages and casitas, my eye craves older homes of the East Coast. I love New Orleans homes – the shotgun houses, Creole houses, grand double gallery mansions. I could spend hours on the streetcar or walking in the Garden District just looking at the houses.
  • All the beads that decorated fences and trees. Since it was so soon after Mardi Gras there was beads clinging all along the parade routes. Laissez les bon temps rouler.
  • Our really sweet B&B iin the garden district, the McKendrick-Breaux House.  If you ever do this race, then you should stay with Brett and Rachel at the McKendrick-Breaux. They're wonderful people and they share their grand old home with visitors.  Bonus - the inn was 4 blocks from the start  (The photo is of their two ambassador-kitties resting on the chairs in the inn's courtyard.)
  • Dinner at the Upperline Restaurant. Steve and I agreed that we’d try to eat healthy this trip, but we’d have one luxurious dinner. I had the 7 course menu and it was fantastic - turtle soup, duck etouffĂ©e, fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade . In truth, for most of this trip we struggled a bit finding restaurants. We’d decide we were hungry and suddenly every restaurant in the city would evaporate and we couldn’t find a spot to eat. A city full of fantastic restaurants and we were starving. That would be amusing except I’m ornery when I’m hungry. The only person who meaner than I am when I’m hungry is Steve when he’s hungry. This is why I always have a nutrition bar in my purse. Eventually, I’m going to be forced to stuff it into his mouth or mine.  
  • Sleeping late. We’ve been overly stressed for weeks and it was awesome to go to bed and not set the alarm. It was a thrill to wake up and look at the clock to see it was already 9 AM. Sure, we picked up 2 hours on the time zones and it was really 7am, but it was still a luxury to sleep late.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Watch Out for the Gator Baby

A funny little nugget from the New Orleans trip.

On Friday, Steve and I were at the art museum and stopped at the museum cafe for lunch.  Since it was a Lent Friday, we were looking for seafood options. It was a very small menu and Alligator Sausage & Seafood Gumbo looked good.  Hey, is gator seafood or meat?

Steve posted the question on his facebook page and sparked some debate.  Gator is cold blooded, not a mammal, but it has lungs. Also, it seems that sausage is meaty. Can Alligator be on the allowable list?  Since my niece was in the middle of her heart surgery, I wasn't in the mood for Flexi-Lent.  Finally, we got it confirmed that gator is okay.

And delicious.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Who Dat? (New Orleans Style)

Let's take care of important matters first. Who dat healthy baby? 
I'm incredibly happy to tell you that the baby is doing great.  We are blessed that many wonderful things happened in a difficult situation.  Thankfully, we she was born in close proximity to a world class neonatal cardiac hospital.  She's still in the hospital, but she's doing great.  Thanks for the comments, emails, kind thoughts and prayers.
On to the trivial. Who dat half marathon finisher? 
Me.  And I had my most fun run in ages. More on that later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Vibes. Please Send.

Two days ago my newest niece, Natalya was born.  It feels as though we've been waiting forever for her to arrive. She was nearly a week past her due date.  Here she is with her older sister Mya.
This morning Steve and I hopped on a plane bound for New Orleans so I could run in the inaugural Rock N Roll Mardi Gras 1/2 Marathon.  When we landed in Louisianna and I received a call from my Mom.  There is a problem with the baby's heart.  Little Miss Natalya is having open heart surgery first thing in the morning. 
It always amazes me how quickly you fall in love with a new member of the family.  A few days ago she didn't even exist.  I haven't even met her, but I already love her.  Because there's nothing else I can do I've researched this to an almost pathologically intense degree.  The baby is in an exceptional children's hospital with a specialty in cardiac care. She has an excellent prognosis.  Her Mom and Dad are with her.  (Little Mya is staying with her grandmother.) 

Intellectually, I know this is going to be okay and I have absolute faith that she's going to be just fine. But if you have a minute send some good vibes to her and her family.

Afraid of My Own Strength

First, let me tell you that the move is completed.  Thank heavens.

We had a bit (ha!) of tidying (ha!) to do at Steve's old place last weekend.  While Steve went to ride his bike on Saturday morning, I thought I'd get that cleanin' party started.  Sometimes even the most mundane event can become an adventure. I was cleaning the shower and tried to turn the shower head to rinse off the shower wall.   That's when the shower arm ripped off in my hand.  Not the shower head, the shower arm.  That thing that goes through the silver donut and into the dark recesses of the wall.  

Hmm.  I tried to screw it back in, but it wouldn't go. When Steve got home I asked him to help. He was stumped too and he's an engineer.  The shower arm was threaded, so it should screw in, yes?  But when I reached inside the wall (scary!) the inside of the pipe felt smooth and there weren't any threads. 

Sunday morning I stopped by my neighborhood hardware store, North Park Hardware.  This is old skool hardware, not Lowe's.  At North Park Hardware, they don't have lawn furniture, rubbermaid containers, barbecue grills or a website.  They have hardware - every type of wall molly and screw, tons of tools and all the obscure stuff that the old houses in this neighborhood need.

They also have very knowledgeable staff.  No one says "it's not my department"; these dudes know how to fix stuff.  So I was a bit ruffled when the owner glanced at the shower arm and said "You don't even know how much trouble you've got."  Turns out I'd ripped the pipe in half.  The reason I couldn't screw in the shower arm was the old pipe was stuck in there.

The owner walked through the store with me and tried to find a tool to clean out the pipe.   He found the closest fitting tool, but it wasn't exactly right so he took out his saw and modified it for me.  I went home and tried it, no luck.  Back to the hardware store.  He found another tool which was slightly too large, so he took it on over to his grindy wheel thing and ground it down to size.  Really, does anyone at Home Depot customize tools for you?  No, they don't.

Then he did something extra awesome.  He pulled another tool off the shelf and loaned it to me.  He said it was expensive and I was only ever going to use it once.  How many times was I going to rip the shower arm in half?  The tool was also pretty much indestructible so he said I could use it and bring it back the next day.  Not that I could buy it and return it.  Or even leave your name and address.  He just pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me.  How friggin' fantastic is that?

Went back to the apartment and spent the next few hours engaged in the knuckle scraping work of removing the snapped off piece of pipe.  It was a strenuous, frustrating job.  And frankly Steve had his doubts that I could do it.  (He was busy sorting and packing stuff so the plumbing repair job fell to me.)  In the end I got the old pipe out and installed the new shower arm. 

I'm proud to report that:
  1. I'm strong enough to rip pipe in half.
  2. I'm tenacious enough to spend hours making the repair.
  3. I returned the perfect tool to the world most awesome hardware store.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Whee! Fun is back.

What a perfect day to run. I didn't get out until nearly 11:30, but it wasn't at all hot. It was typical San Diego - 60 degrees with a breeze coming off the ocean.

I was little worried since I haven't been running and my ankle isn't quite 100%. I haven't done any serious distance in a month. With the New Orleans race looming large in 2 weeks I decided that it's now or never to get some miles.

Running was surprisingly easy today; I wasn't rusty at all. Cranked out 9 miles along the bay and then lapped around to the ocean and ran along the beach. I felt nice and strong. Normally I run early in the day starting at 8 A.M. at the latest. Running at the beach at noon is completely different. The boardwalk was jammed with cyclists, families milling around and an array of motorcycle gang dudes. It was a slow process for those last 2 miles weaving though people.

Great run, but I'll be happy to go back to an early start.