Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The T List

Well folks, as the training winds down and the taper begins, I find myself epitomizing the 'creature of habit' motto. Sometimes it feels like my life is one big "T". And here's why...

TOFU: We have it, all the time. Well, actually Tofu Stir Fry. And while its delicious (and nutritious), I can safely say that post Ironman, I want nothing to do with this delectable soy product. And Nathaniel deserves an award for eating it as much as I make him.

TIME: I feel like I'm running out. Yet, I feel like race day will never arrive. It's just one big time warp. How fitting that one of my current reads is "The Time Travelers Wife".

TIRES: According to the bike shop, the tires on my bike are done. Finito. No longer safe to be ridden outside. (Thanks goodness that I'm using different race wheels!) Sure, one too many trainer-rides most definitely had a hand in doing them in... Bottom line - both the front and rear need replacing. And when the nice guy at the bike shop inquired what kind of tires I wanted, I replied, "Don't bother replacing them, because I'm not going to ride my bike for three months after Ironman."

THREE (months): Okay, perhaps that was a bit extreme. Let's make it two.

TABBITHA: Can definitely tell that something is up. The House Monster knows, with the help of massive piles of laundry and a bike box in the middle of the dining room, that something is most definitely up. Fortunately, Anabelle is clueless. But still cute.

TAPER: It has begun! Hallelujah!!

TIRED: Well, that's to be expected. Hello - Ironman training! But in all seriousness, I've been excessively fatigued the past few days and it caught up to me last night in the form of a slightly sore throat and general yucky feeling-ness. So I've taken today and tomorrow off, and given my body a chance to relax and fight off whatever it is I'm fighting. At this stage of the game, all I can do is take it easy, relax, and take care of myself.

THANKFUL: For great friends and wonderful support. I am beyond grateful to all the helpful advice, comments, well-wishes, and good vibes. THANK YOU.

TREMENDOUS: That would be my friend Donna, who had the race of her life last weekend. Congratulations Donna - you have such a BRIGHT future! Keep believing, have fun, keep it up because it is working! YOU are an inspiration!

TOTALLY (hungry): which is what I am now. So I'm going to eat dinner! Tofu stir fry?? Again??? Perhaps not...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The back and forth of it all

It seems that so much and yet so little has been swirling around my head in these past few weeks. In the final few weeks, errr, days of preparation before Ironman Hawaii, I'm still trying my darnedest to figure things out and to process everything.

And while I am absolutely grateful for this opportunity to race on The Big Island, grateful for a second shot in the sport when - during parts of last year I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to set foot on a triathlon course again, let alone think about swim-bike-run, grateful that I have the ability to actually DO this - I am experiencing many challenging ups and downs.

There are times when I am BEYOND EXCITED!!!!

The prospect of being on Hawaii, swimming with turtles, celebrating the fact that I'm racing in Kona, seeing old friends and making new ones, praying to Pele and the Hawaiian Gods (yes I will appease them to the best of my ability), sipping coffee on the lanai while looking out at the WARM ocean...well... I can't wait.

Then there are other times where I feel beyond overwhelmed. Like.. can I even do this? Have I done enough? Have I done too much? The constant fatigue...that's normal...right? Am I mentally able to stay STRONG for another Ironman...because I know how hard I worked for that first one a few short months ago. Can I do this...again?

Rationally, I KNOW that I've got the best coach around and that I 100% trust Jennifer Harrison. Rationally, I KNOW that I've gone the distance before and that I can do it again (knock on wood). Rationally I KNOW that I'm training for an Ironman, so there WILL be fatigue. Not only that - I'm training for TWO there will most definitely be fatigue. Rationally...I KNOW that I can do this - because deep down I know what it takes and I BELIVE in myself, the training, and my coach.

But at the end of the day, I still see myself in the mirror and I still question.

These past few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. I've gotten the chance to speak with many many triathletes training for Kona - and the resounding responses that I get from the majority are, "Yes, I've had a few breakdowns...yes, I've stopped in the middle of workouts...yes, I feel neurotic at times...yes, I'm tired, hungry, and cranky, and my loved ones have to put up with me...yes, I just want the race to get here and be DONE...yes, I can't wait until its all over."

So the big question, then: why do we do it?

If its this difficult, then why bother in the first place?

I'll admit that when I get really stressed out, I find the only way to get through my work/day/workout is to step outside of myself, almost as though I'm looking at myself from another person's perspective. Detach and observe from a distance...

If I can view what I'm doing from somewhere else - then it doesn't seem so bad. My responses (when viewed almost outside my body) to workouts, fatigue, stress all seem normal. And I'm much more kinder and more understand to myself when things get rough, when a workout is hard, or even...if the cat box is full and stinks and I just don't feel like scooping the poop.

Because who really wants to scoop poop? But I digress...

The other night when I told my Mom about how I was handling the stress, she sounded really really worried. She explained about how some people who survive traumatic events (ie abuse, rape, neglect, war, highly highly stressful situations/environments), how they oftentimes detach from their situation in order to survive.

Now I'm not implying by ANY MEANS that I've got it bad. Relatively speaking - life has been humming along pretty darned tootin' good. Except for this Ironman Monster in the back of my head. So yes, the stress and subsequent detatchment is self-imposed.

But at the end of the day, I keep returning to the 'Why?' question.

In the past when someone has asked me why I do the sport, why I push myself, why I compete - I've always explained that I learn the MOST about myself through training and competition. Most of it has been really good. Lately, though, I've had a few tough lessons. But I'm NOT complaining...not one bit. Because had I not ventured down this road, I never would have figured these things out in the first place.

At the end of the day, I do the sport because I love the training, I really enjoy the people, I love the satisfaction at the end of a tough workout, and I love to compete. Somewhere in this pre-Kona-Ironman stress, I've lost sight of some of that...instead focusing on the Big Scary Unknown Ironman Monster. And its been tough.

But I was reminded the other day, very unexpectedly. While channel surfing one evening, an old broadcast of Ironman Hawaii was aired. The race wasn't what caught my attention. Rather, it was the emotions, the tears, the joy, the happiness at the finish line. Before I realized it, I found myself shedding tears and crying while watching people cross that famed finish line. And I knew then that I HAD to do this race, I had to stick to my plan, had to follow through until the very end.

At the end of the day - is Ironman for me?

That's a tough question. Coeur d'Alene was amazing and I would NEVER take back that experience, not in a million years or for a zillion Kona slots. But training for Kona has been different. And I'm not sure if that's because 1) I'm nearing the end of my season 2) The distance is still scary 3) Its KONA 4) I miss my short course speed and race schedule 5) the stress has not been easy.

There are a few things that I DO know.

I know that I'm ready, even if I'm tired. I know that when push comes to shove, when the voice in the back of my head whispers about doubt and failure, that I'll have a response and be ready to push harder. I know that I'm GRATEFUL that I'm not a professional - because this race is FUN, its about celebrating the fact that I got there and went through some tough times in order to do so. And I know that I'm ready to give it my all, even if the training hasn't been easy.

Because good things in life rarely are.

To everyone racing towards the end of their season, all I can say is Hang in there - you are NOT alone. And you're doing GREAT. It may not be easy, pleasant, or even fun at times...but thing about the finish, think about the good, think about why we do this sport in the first place.

And if that doesn't help - think about the beer and pizza at the end.

I know that I already am.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things! GREAT things.

Regardless of the many ups and downs of life, there are many MANY things that I'm thankful for. And when times get tough, I try to keep 'stuff' in perspective as much as possible. I do the sport because I love it, I think the people are really great, and the lifelong lessons I've learned about myself and, err, life in general are truly spectacular.

So when times get tough, when the legs feel awful and the heart isn't 100% into it, or when I'm just plain tired I remember the good things.

The GREAT things.


-Foggy mornings and calm ocean waters

- Watching the sunset, bright colors spreading across the sky

- Snuggling in a warm, comfy bed with a great hubby (and sometimes a random kitty who wants to be fed)

- A bike seat that I LOVE (thank you ISM Adamo Saddle!!!)

- Fantastic friends...there are too many to thank.

- Having the ability to do something that I love. Correction: the ability to do MANY things that I love.

- Sunday Football, and all the fun that goes with it.

- A quirky sense of humor - hey, its kept me (mostly) sane.

- British Comedy. The ONLY problem with "Fawlty Towers", is the lack of episodes. Only 12 were ever made. And for the BEST comedy series of all time, I find this unacceptable. But I still LOVE the show. Brilliant!

- Alba cocoa butter hand and body lotion. Sure, it makes me crave a Pina Colada, but it also makes me feel nice. So there.

- I have a roof over my head, people who love me, air to breathe, and...all that good stuff (as both my Dad and now husband tell me when I get a little overly stressed).

- Dude - I'm going to Hawaii in a little over a week. Sure - there's a race involved. But seriously - I'm going to Hawaii!

- Pink compression socks.

- Toothpaste - because I like my teeth. In my mouth.

- Meeting Soren Trowbridge for the first time a few weeks ago. There is nothing like a newborn baby. He was absolutely adorable. And while I'm not quit ready for one of my own (YET), he gives me a very convincing reason to want a little one of my own. Congratulations again to Dave and Meredith!

- Survivor! And while we're at it: The Amazing Race!

- Grocery store items with the expiration date AFTER IM Hawaii. It is always nice to know that life continues after this race. And to see it in print just adds another dimension.

- Baked goods!

- Deck chairs, surrounded by flowers, with a good book waiting.

- Knowing that there are good people in the world, who do wonderful things. Getting to SEE that is even better.

- Tabbitha's vet, who told her, "Tabbitha - you're a new woman!" after she lost a little bit of weight and got rid of her fleas.

- Succulents. Because they're really neat feeling and Nathaniel has an odd fascination with them. Plus - the word 'succulent'.

- A wonderful family.

I feel TRULY lucky. And extremely fortunate to be able to participate in a sport I love so much. A little over a year ago, I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to, let alone be able to. So even if it means a few tough workouts here or there, a bit of tiredness, and the same dinner repeated over and over again (because I lack creativity in the mean planning department when I'm trashed from training), life is really pretty good.
A very relaxed Tabbitha. Can't you tell she's lost a little bit of weight?? Yes!?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Less Good

In an effort to stay as positive as possible in these final few weeks leading up to IM Hawaii, I think I'll make the following list. Enjoy!

Good: Arriving at the pool on time, happy and excited.
Less Good: Woa. Um...where are my arms? And legs? And...lungs...?

Good: Completing a spectacular warm up and pull set
Less Good: Exiting the pool 500 meters into the 2,000 meter main set.

Good: Kept my composure (mostly)
Less Good: There were tears (on the pool deck).

Good: NO tears while swimming!
Less Good: Trying to maintain composure when people asked if I was okay.

Good: Very supportive Masters coach who told me I needed to eat plenty of chocolate today.
Less Good: Lack of chocolate in the house.

Good: Well, there were plenty of chocolate gels.
Less Good: Ew. Chocolate gels.

Good: Giving myself permission to STOP the workout when it just didn't feel right.
Less Good: First time in recent memory I've cracked in a workout (that I can remember).

Good: First time in recent memory that I've cracked in a workout (that I can remember).
Less Good: It just had to be in front of other people (brilliant)

Good: Realizing that I'm almost done with this Ironman thing
Less Good: Woa. I'm signed up for St. George. Double shit.

Good: Its not like I have to do St. George
Less Good: Loosing more money to the M-Dot corporation.

Good: Realizing that I've been pushing so hard for so long, and that EVERYONE I know who is training for Kona is feeling this way. I'm not the only one.
Less Good: Why do we do this?

Good: Stonyfield Frozen Vanilla Yogurt!
Less Good: It wasn't the Ben & Jerry's that I was eying.

Good: Stonyfield Frozen Vanilla FAT FREE Yogurt!
Less Good: It wasn't the Ben & Jerry's that I was eying.

Good: Stonyfield Frozen Vanilla FAT FREE and GUILT FREE Yogurt.
Less Good: I give up...

Good: Tomorrow is a new day with a new workout.
Great: Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We don't promise you a Rose Garden

Well folks, my last long run is in the books, and I can safely say that it was the most ugly run I've ever done. Period. Rarely is it true that both the body and mind feel weak, but Saturday's run was an exception.

My heart rate felt high, my breathing was embarrassingly loud - at times feeling like I was breathing through a straw, my layers upon layers of black clothing made me look like an idiot and the three hours that I spent outside running only confirmed that fact. I'm sure the Marines and Family at the HMLA-367 Family Pick-nick were wondering who hired the freak show to keep plodding by, every 37-40 minutes.

Heck, had they taken me in, stripped off the ungainly layers, and given me a few ounces of cool-ish beverages, I would have volunteered for the dunk tank (they were looking for takers). As it was during my fifth pass, it was all I could do to restrain myself from tackling the CO (commanding officer), wrestling him out of the tank and yelling, "DUNK ME!"

Suffice to say, it didn't get that extreme.

But we were close.

At twenty minutes in, I was convinced that after my first pass of the car (where I had another 4 bottles of water, 4 gels, and enough salt that would put any bag of jumbo pretzels to shame) at mile 4.4 would be my last. I would call it quits. Finito. This. Just. Wastn'. Fun.

It was no longer fun.

My mood actually picked up in - what I thought would be - my last ten minutes of running. I had a brief cooling breeze and the grade was slightly downhill. My breathing sounded less Darth-Vadar-ish and I was actually on pace and making decent time. I just felt like shit, but everything else was great.

But as I ran to the car, I realized that I just couldn't stop. If it were any other race at all....

But it wasn't.

With Ironman Hawaii on the horizon and looming closer with each passing day, I knew that I needed this workout - perhaps not so much physically, but mentally. Because in Ironman, in a race, and as oftentimes with life - we don't always have the pleasure or even the ability to quit when things get tough. Instead, we are forced to grit our teeth, to carry on, to finish what we started in spite of the space between our ears and how our bodies respond.

I knew that when the going gets tough out in Kona, IF I WERE TO INCOMPLETE OR FAIL THIS WORKOUT IN ANY WAY, I WOULD HAVE THAT KNOWLEDGE HANGING OVER MY HEAD. And in a race where so much of your result is based on mental fortitude, I didn't want to be weakened in any way. I don't want to look back on this run and remember what I didn't do.

So I quickly grabbed a gel, three salt tabs and a fresh bottle of water, and was on my way for another 4.4 mile loop.

I tried to break it down. Lap by lap, step by step. Just put one foot ahead of the other. I thought about other friends, training for their own races and drew inspiration from that. In passing the Wounded Warrior Battalion, I thought about all the injured service members who would love to just run, who would be grateful to go even for a 'shitty' run, because right now they can't. I thought about Herrad and and access-denied life with MS and knew she would relish the opportunity to be outside.

But it was still hard. My breathing was reaching a comical pitch, my clothes were covered in salt, and my heart rate was somewhere up up and away!

And I really don't know why: but I kept going. Lap after lap after bloody lap. In the middle I could tell what a dark, uncomfortable, unhappy place I was in and convince myself that this would be the last lap. 8.8..and then..13.2...and then..17.6.....respective miles are plenty.

For lack of a better word, I was just uncomfortable. I never had my breathing under control - within the first few steps it was loud (embarrassingly loud), and in thinking back, I've NEVER sounded like this while running in a non-race situation.

But as the car came in sight at the end of each successive lap, I realized that in spite of my steam-engine breathing, high heart rate, and general uncomfortableness, I still needed to finish, to go all the way. Pausing briefly to pick up another gel, more salt tablets, and yet another luke-warm bottle of water, it dawned on me that my motivation stemmed from fear.

I was afraid of failure.

I was afraid that if I stopped this run, I wouldn't be prepared to the best of my ability for Ironman Hawaii.

I was afraid that if I LET myself quit now, that it will be easier to quit in the future when the going gets REALLY tough.

I was afraid that for the first time, my body was stronger than my mind.

I was afraid of stopping because I didn't know how, when, or if I could start again.

I was afraid that if I couldn't suck it up in practice, then I'll never be able to make it during a race.

I was afraid of failure.

It was at that point - after completing three 4.4 mile loops, that I had a conversation with myself. Out loud. And yes, the Marines exiting the Hospital Gym gave me a funny look and a wide berth, but I didn't care. I think they just blamed it on the heat.

"'s the deal. This is the LAST loop that you've got to do. The body will follow whatever the mind dictates. Your mid IS stronger than your body. If you can will it, it will happen."

I pushed the pace as much as I could, even running 5 minutes HARD at the top of two hours, and was later reduced back to my snail's pace. Just put one foot in front of the other.... This is what you'll need for mile 18 coming out of the Energy Lab....this is what you strong....I know you're miserable - but there will be plenty of time to think of that when you're crying now...that just takes up precious oxygen, and lord knows we're not getting enough of that as it is....if you can will it to happen...will it....I willl.....I willll

Passing the car at 2:30 after my fourth lap was easier than I thought. Now that the majority of the work was done, I knew that the end was within sight. Still breathing loudly, dripping wet and sporting black layers of clothing, I ran back to the restrooms at Lake O'Neil, past the dunk tank and then looped around back to the car.

I knew that my finishing time of 2:45 wasn't exactly on target mileage-wise...but no one would know and I could put this blasted run behind me...

But somewhere, in the back of my head, a little voice piped in, "I would know. Do you really think 19.4 miles is enough? After all you've been though. How hard would it be to finish this thing the right way?"

Ignoring the car as I ran by, I decided to run 3:00 up the road and then loop 3:00 back. If I could do that...I could do just about anything...

And in the end I did.

It wasn't pretty, and it really wasn't fun. Then again - it didn't need to be. I just needed to do it. To shut OFF my mind. keep the negative thoughts at bay, to keep my body moving, to be out there putting in the time for what will undeniable be one of the most challenging races of my life.

No one ever said Ironman training would be easy.

More difficult than my run, was trying to explain it to Nathaniel. He could tell something was amiss, but just didn't know what to say or how to say it. Pushing through an experience like I had running yesterday...well, it almost feels as though you've built a wall between yourself and the rest of the world. Deep down, how do you explain the monsters and demons that terrify? How can I describe to someone the effort of will? How do you tell someone it was the most difficult run ever and that your main source of motivation was through fear?

I just couldn't.

I had done it, completed the run, earned my stripes, step by bloody step. No, it wasn't pretty and it certainly wasn't sweet smelling...but I did it, and can one day look back and think, "Man...that was one helluva tough run. If I could do that, I could do anything."

And in the end - that's what really matters. Not necessarily how you feel, but what you do about it. And while I realize that it wasn't my fastest pace, I still did it. I still got it done.

And you can too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You know....


- You wake up at 4:30 am, ravenously hungry, and even the cat looks good.

- 1,000 meters at the pool is a warm up.

- You carry around hand sanitizer and use it all the time, for fear of germs, germs, and more germs. And at the grocery store, when there are no more sanitizing wipes left for you car (germs!), you break out the hand sanitizer.

- You stop being self-conscious in compression socks, athletic gear, and apparel that you would not normally wear in public.

- A quick trip to the car sans bra in order to pick up fill-in-the-blank is perfectly okay. Because you are constantly making trips to the car to pick up other sorts of fill-in-the-blanks.

-First breakfast at 4:00 am is a frequent occurrence.

- Riding the bike for four hours on a weekend

-You consider throwing a tantrum that would put the kid in Isle 9 to shame, just because the store is OUT of Swedish Fish.

- Late night TV? Leno is now on at 10 pm? Funny joke - NOT going to happen.

- You buy new running shoes every 8 weeks.

- You are on a first-name basis with the receptionist at your ART therapist/massage therapist/ ? therapist's office. And even they are familiar with your (particular) ailments).

- Hello tan lines. Bike shoes/running shoes, bike shorts, bathing suit, bike tops, running tops, and my personal favorite? Goggle and swim cap lines. Yes, at this point, my forehead is muliti-colored along my cap line.

- You are so used to riding with gels, baggies of powdered drink mix, spare tubes, patch kit stuff, bars (because really - how many gels can you really ingest without hurling?), salt tablet canisters, maps, and everything-short-of-the-kitchen-sink, wearing ONLY a bike top feels oddly...refreshing.

- Two showers per day are common. Three aren't unheard of.

- Your sex life is based around your long ride schedule. 7-hours in the saddle and trust me when I say it is NOT happening.

- You are still swimming 10, 15...20 minutes after the rest of your Masters swim team leaves the pool.

- You try running "fast" and picking up your legs, only to realize that you look ridiculous and that all your speed left when you 1) stopped doing speed workouts and 2) starting running long all the time. You miss the track.

- You eat until you are bursting...only to realize 45 minutes later're still physically hungry but uncomfortably full.

-On long rides, you pretty much discover what you CAN and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN NOT eat. Coke is okay...along with gummy worms, Swedish fish, fig newtons. Candy corn, peanut butter cups, and coffee with cream - not so much.

-You don't get slimmer. You get stronger.

- Your hair stylist looks at your split ends and comments, "wow - you must spend a lot of time in the sun. Or in chlorine." How about both?

- Creativity and meal planning? Ha! A joke! Its the same recycled meals...week after week after week... Currently tofu stir fry is our "favorite". The big decision? Do we go with Spicy Kung Pao sauce OR Teriyaki Ginger?

- Your lane mates know that its Monday because you're wearing the red and orange suit and Wednesday, because you're wearing the blue and purple suit.

-Reading anything intellectually stimulating is impossible. Staring at the book in a post-workout stupor is much more common.

- On that note...staring at the television in a post-workout stupor becomes the norm. And usually it takes a minute or two for something funny to register.

- You suddenly become very aware of every twinge, pain, hot spot, and are immediately convinced that if you don't deal with it NOW, you will be sidelined for weeks.

- When you've got a headache, you wonder if its from dehydration, salt depletion OR just a headache. Water...salt tabs...and Motrin. In that order.

- You find yourselves going to different convenience stores to pick up 40-lb bags of ice, because you're sick of the same clerk asking the same questions. Woa! That's a lot of ice! You must be having some party, right?

- You have three...wait four!....months of wine bottles for your wine club membership waiting to be picked up because you just don't want bottles upon bottles upon bottles of temptation in the house.

- You think that you may be prone to sleep walking and sleep eating, but you're not sure. The trail of broken wheat thins...bread crumbs on the counter...and empty chocolate wrapper in the pantry make you suspect though.

- Simple things - an orchestra's performance, a pelican flying in the breeze, a kitty stretching - can capture your attention and hold it for an inordinate amount of time.

- You start calculating the amount of salt not only in your training foods, but regular foods as well.

- You start referring to life as "after the IM" or "before the IM".

- The laundry makes it (mostly) from the floor to the washer to the dryer to....the futon. And there. It. Sits. Semi-folded.

-You get used to hearing the BBC news broadcast early in the morning as you drive to X practice.

- Investing in chamois cream companies seem like a pretty promising idea, based on how much you use and how frequently you use it.

- You smell like the pool, even on days when you don't swim.

- You dream about the time when you can stay out late, eat junk, drink more than what's necessary, sleep in and...hhhmmmm.....what will you do on Saturday?

- You get emotional watching the online coverage of other Ironman races, because you know that one day you'll be there.

- You are ready, willing, and MORE than able to fight the old lady for the last package of fill-in-the-blank. Because you are training for an Ironman, and YOU ARE HUNGRY.

- You have a short attention span and-

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting through the daze

It feels odd, really, to be this close to Ironman Hawaii, but still three and a half weeks out. The race is still far enough away that I'm not SUPERWORRIED, but close enough that I can (almost) feel the taper. I'm just not quite there. Yet.

Knock on wood and all that stuff. Trust me: I'm doing it right now.

Day by day I'm doing my best to stay focused, keep my eyes on the prize (finishing!), and staying happy/sane/healthy/happy/focused/happy/happy throughout. Did I mention...happy?

A few things that have helped me along the way?

Why I'm glad that you asked....

-Giving myself permission to climb Palomar without the bike computer/time/watts showing. Then while pedaling to the traditional START of the climb, having my curiosity get the better of me and figuring "what the hell. IF I don't like the numbers, I'll just switch the computer off. And who knows - I may surprise myself."

It turns out: I surprised myself. But I never would have known had I not given myself permission to fail, given myself permission to be okay with just climbing.

-Along the way, I learned that talking with someone else makes the time go by A LOT faster - especially when that someone is a former world record holder for the Ride Across America. Can't remember his name (I WAS working my butt off!), but have the picture to prove it. The 62-year old former Cat 1 cyclist, US Marine, and world record holder made my ride awesome.

-Thinking about Jen's other athletes - Michelle and Ange - who are also racing at Kona. Even though I've never me them, I especially feel like we're all in this together. I know that they're out there...getting the work done and everything.

-Seeing and then following Cat's Survival of the Shawangunks. The event looks incredible and is one that I would MOST DEFINITELY like to do in the future. The trail running, lake swimming, trail running, MORE lake swimming (ie - no sharks!), and running is incredible. Throw in a 30-mile bike ride at the beginning and I'm hooked. Perhaps next year...? Or the year after...? I can't decide - but know that at some point, I'll have to do it.

-Following Herrad's story and being grateful for the ability to pursue my dreams. If you haven't checked out her blog, it is truly an inspiration. I can't thank her enough for sharing her journey - access denied living with multiple sclerosis. I know that it isn't easy for her - but her posts, her honesty, and beautiful insight on life makes me pause and reflect on what is truly important.

- Hearing Don Draper's quote on last Sunday's episode of Mad Men. It's a show that Nathaniel and I try and watch together. Okay..okay...stay awake late enough to see an episode through to the very end. But Don's quote really was good:
"Our worst fears lie in anticipation..."

I was so inspired - mostly because it's been the anticipation of Kona that has me the most nervous. In addition to the fear of the unknown... At this point, I just want the race to arrive...Don's remark was perfectly timed.

(I would be remiss to NOT thank French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850 who commented:
"Our worst misfortunes never happen, and most miseries lie in anticipation."

So there you have it...)

- It doesn't matter the workout - I crave the carbonation at the end. And don't think I won't go for the Diet Coke if we're out of Seltzer water. Not that it happens that often...but...

- Knowing that there really ARE good people in the world. Damie worked very hard to save the life of an abused and abandoned dog - and through her hard work, Shelby Angel has a new home and more importantly, a new life. Its people like her that restore my faith in humanity.

-Following the success of Mary. I couldn't be happier that she is rediscovering her athletic-self (with the help of an incredible coach). It makes me SO HAPPY when good things happen to good people (who work hard). Mary deserves all of her success - she's been through a lot...and I couldn't be prouder. I think about her effort when I'm out 'there', pounding the pavement or going after those few extra watts.

-Finally throwing in the towel and deciding to get a new hair cut. It's been way way way too long... I was planning on waiting until after Hawaii - but seriously... I can't remember the last time I went out without my hair up in a ponytail. So now, I've got a new look.

Yes - its short...

And I'm trying to figure out new ways of keeping it off my face for the race. And I'm still trying to get used to it (it is SHORT for me...). But hey, I wouldn't go back given the choice, because it is WAY better than the mop I had before.

Plus, it was super fun walking out of the salon with styled and bouncy and CUTE hair. Trust me when I say its a rarity for me.

The little things...right?

In a nutshell - there you have it. I'm sure there are more things, but I just can't think of them at this point. So without further ado...

Our worst fears lie in anticipation....

Remember that. Because I sure as heck am trying...

Monday, September 14, 2009



Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Nathaniel!

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Yes, I know - another post about you. But this is totally your parents doing (and I am GRATEFUL). Hope that you're having a very special day and enjoy the walk down memory lane....

*Cue dream-sequence music*

The TOP TEN Memories with Nathaniel....


Okay: wait a sec.

Just to clarify - there are many many more than just 10.

Perhaps I'll try this again...

TEN GREAT MEMORIES WITH NATHANIEL (give or take a few...and in no particular order).

10) Wine and Braveheart on our first "movie" date in college. He brought the movie and wine, while I destroyed the lentil dish that I had so 'carefully' prepared for dinner. Gotta hand it to him - he acted as though the burnt and hard lentils were normal and said that he would be willing to try it again. Sometime.

And yes, we drank the wine and enjoyed the movie.

9) His love for animals. Yes, he claims to hate the cats, and called Charlie – the-carrot-eating-dog – “stupid”, but deep down, he’s a real softie. We can ALL call his bluff.

8) Jumping on the trampoline at his parent’s house together. Yes – we are probably way way way too old to be jumping, but we still have a blast. Heck, it keeps us young...and its even better when a) it's cool outside and b) there's something warm and tasty waiting for you inside. Throw on a Packers game and...we may never leave Waukesha.

7) Running into his arms after a deployment. We’ve gone through two, and each homecoming is special. I was so excited, I couldn’t stay around for the picture.

6)Because he does stuff like THIS to me ALL THE TIME. No matter what, the guy knows how to make you (and me laugh). Here’s another, just because I'm lucky.

5)He once walked through a raging snowstorm 4 miles in the middle of the night, during final exam week (back in college), uphill both ways to get me Pepto Bismol for a horrible stomach ache. Okay - not uphill both ways, but everything else is true. Even though I threw it up five minutes after taking it (yes, I was really really sick, and later spent Christmas in the hospital - ugh!), he still held me and cleaned up after me. And this was only four months into our relationship.

As my friend said, “Oh man, he is DEFINITELY a keeper!”

4) The guy likes fire. And grilling. And heavy machinery. And helicopters. And tools! And at a very young age, he decided that his cub scout troop wasn’t “hard core enough” when, as a craft project, they built the Minnesota Ice Palace out of sugar cubes. Luckily now, I think he’s found his calling, as he gets to fly the updated version of this:

3) Because no matter how awful I look, how horrible I feel, or how smelly I am – he is ALWAYS there for me at the race finish. Come to think of it…he’s always there for me at the race…and I love love LOVE seeing him out on the course. Even if I look like this: For the record - this was my first half marathon. Ever. I believe it was a tad bit more difficult than what I expected...

2) Once in a while he takes a really funny photo – and years later we still laugh. I swear that he’s NOT related to Howard Dean…but you never can tell

1) The guy knows what to bring on a hike – sure, the survival gear, Leatherman multi-tool, map, GPS unit, etc are all important. But chocolate – NOW we’re talking. Yep, he's a keeper allright!

Happy Birthday Nathaniel - I LOVE you!!!!! Here's to many more beer samples, adventures, hikes, races, tramampoline-jumping, laughing, silly pictures, and everything. Oh - and cake. We ALL love cake!

But I love you more - even more than the Skagway beer sample. But we do plan on going back...right?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No battery required.

A perpetual, self-sustaining reaction of laughter!

...Sometimes you just need a good laugh!

Hee hee hee! ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dragon, Leonitas, Pepto

Nathaniel and I had a great day, bumming around Encinitas, window "shopping", sipping coffee and the Java Hut, talking, more walking, and then enjoying some sushi at a little hole-in-the-wall spot.


This guy came along.

The Dragon Roll.

(Cue scary music).

I guess that any restaurant that feels the need to create a dragon-like head for the front, and hair-like garnish on top of the roll, should be slightly suspect. Because they certainly weren't winning us over with the taste. And besides - I thought they were going to use *fresh* sushi on the top. NOT the stuff they served us. Oh well - we ate it anyway.

Octopus eyes and all.


About 90 minutes later it hit. My tummy gurgled, and then lurched...and I could feel my ears getting warm and body beginning to sweat.

A quick glance throughout the bathroom confirmed my worst fears: we were OUT of Pepto.

Now would be the appropriate time to swear. Go ahead, make my day.

I told Nathaniel I was headed here:

And that he could go with me if he wanted...

Quick as a flash, we drove to the store, Nathaniel ran in and retrieved the pepto, and was back in the car before I could turn any greener.

JUST as I wrenched off the safety seal and was about to take a drink - we saw this little guy running across the parking lot and looking a little lost.

Luckily, he was very friendly and Nathaniel and I contacted the owner. The kitty's name was Leonitas - "A King's name" - according to my Resident (Military) Historian Nathaniel. And he seemed very curious in the car.

The cat, not my husband (just in case you were wondering).

"Leonidas was a Spartan King who died at the Battle of Thermopylae. But the guy who named the cat probably named him after the 300 Movie. You never know." Nathaniel commented, after dropping Leonitas off and heading back to our place. "Although, the cat's name is spelled wrong. Yeah - I'm pretty sure the guy saw the movie. But its still a cool name. That was a good cat! NO attacking!"

I think I tuned everything else out, as I was waiting for the Pepto to kick in.

I'm still hoping it works - even after I took this photo (and downed half the bottle a la Mark Whalberg in "The Big Hit") Don't ask me how I know about that movie. I'm not proud.

Yes - my Other Half spouts off information about Greek, errr, Spartan Kings. And I'm referencing old Marky Mark movies. Classic.

Let's just hope this kicks in sooner than later.


Concluding thoughts?

IF you're going to let your kitty/pet run free - PLEASE make sure they have tags and contact information. And whatever you do - DO NOT eat the dragon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nathaniel: the best husband. Ever.

Without a doubt, I've got the best husband ever.

And just to give you an idea of why he's so great, I'll share a little background. Just because.

FIRST: would YOU want to go running with this? Note the expression and ignore the clothes (although its hard, I know.)

Didn't think so.

FYI (as though you couldn't tell - this was ME before my long run at Lake O'Neil today).

Not that I was dreading the run, but it would be a stretch to call me "excited". Two and a half hours is a long time to be running; hell, I don't even like sitting in the car for that period of time.

Nathaniel could sense my 'grimness' and gamely volunteered to accompany for a lap of my 4.4 mile loop. I perked up immediately and before too long we set out. Me in my car and he in his: as I would be running for a lot longer than him, he wanted a way home. Quite frankly - waiting around for me to complete another 13+ miles just didn't seem all that exciting.

For the both of us.

The problem with today (of all days) was that the weather was just beautiful, low humidity and even lower temperatures. And for someone training for Kona - and the heat and humidity that accompany All Things Ironman - this just wouldn't do.

So I dressed in layers.

And arm warmers.

And capri biking pants for days where the temperature doesn't exceed 40 degrees.

Let's just say that I more than made up for any 'cooler' temps. It was above 83 - and that's all I'm saying.

Do I look happy in the picture?

Please: don't answer that.

But Nathaniel bravely set off with me, matching my pace and making small talk. Look at the beautiful scenery! Isn't this great! I love California. And despite my string of four-letter-words, he hung gamely on.

But I gradually calmed down and got into my groove: I was grateful that he was out there - Ironman training is lonely enough. Having the support of family and friends can make all the difference - even if they're only with you for 1 (out of 4) loops.

Because in the end - the fact that they're there makes all the difference.

We made good work of the loop - eventually enjoying the trails and scenery, and before too long, we found ourselves back at the cars. I was sad to see him go, but grateful that he had been willing to endure 1) the heat 2) running inland 3) dusty trails 4) my wardrobe 5) my (initial bad) mood.

The rest of my run was (THANKFULLY) uneventful. The second and third loops got hotter, and by the forth I was working as hard as my legs would carry me. I made sure to stop after each lap and fill up with water and chomp on a gel - just because dehydration and bonking are NOT my friends. And though I saw much wildlife - lizards, snakes, bugs, and the occasional rabbit - I didn't see any Mountain Lions.

So all in all it was a good run.

When I finished, I think I yelled, "Get it OFF of me!"

Meaning - naturally - my clothes. Without thinking, I ripped off my layers, tore off the arm warmers, and tried to 'cool off' in just a sports bra. I may have collapsed on the ground under a tree - but due to the heat and my limited memory, I have no recollection of such events. Just a few odd-placed pebbles in my pants and inner-workings of the back of my sports bra.


At this point, I was just happy to be DONE (and have survived).

And yes, I wear a blue sports bra. It is wonderful and I love it.

But coolest bit was yet to come.

Later, when I stumbled through the door - I discovered that Nathaniel had 1) made the MOST DELICIOUS peach and red onion salsa 2) Gone to the grocery store and picked up 'staples' (milk, bread, and things-I've-neglected-because-I've-been-trashed-from-training) 3) bought Corona Light for me 4) got me a peanut-butter-and-chocolate cupcake (he said it was calling his name).

I was SO HAPPY that I didn't know if I should jump him or just dig in. As it was, I opted for the shower and then food.

Later - we were able to relax on the couch together...

(You'll have to trust me when I say that I WAS sitting next to him).

Pink compression socks and all (note the kitty...)

And we can't forget about Tabbitha. I can't have a picture of One House Monster without the Other House Monster.

Yes - she's always watching, glowing eyes and all.

Today was just one of those days. And while I love the sport, am grateful that I get to participate, I also realize that not everyday will be wonderful-with-butterflies-and-good-smelling-things-where-the-effort-is-light-and-drive-is-there.

Sometimes you Just. Don't. Want. To. Do. It.

Lately, I've been feeling like I just need to hang on. That I'm almost there and that starting line is just around the corner. Through it all - good times AND bad - Nathaniel has been super supportive, doing all that he can to make my life (and training) easier.

I've come to realize, going into my second Ironman of the year (knock on wood), that Ironman really and truly IS a family affair. It takes sacrifice both for the individual doing the Ironman AND for the family (spouse, kids, friends, etc...) And for the first time ever, I can understand why finishers want their family members/friends running down the finishing chute with them. Because they totally deserve to be there...

Ironman and Ironman training has truly been special and a real eye opening for me. Yes, its kicked my butt on more than one occasion, but I've also had some truly unique and wonderful moments. Being able to share those moments with Nathaniel (and others that I love) makes it all the more special.

Weather its running together, enjoying pizza and beer, or walking through the door after a tough workout only to discover a house full of treats and hubby that loves you in spite of your bad mood and bad BO.

To Nathaniel: thanks for being there. I love you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ride recap!

I never realized I could drink two pints of beer so quickly. Then again, the first went down relatively easily, while Nathaniel and I were waiting for our pizzas. And yes, there were two - pizzas that is. The second can't exactly eat a BBQ Chicken pizza without a beer, right?

How did I arrive at this point Saturday late-afternoon? Glad you asked....

It really started Friday night, when Nathaniel and I went to a friend's house for dinner and drinks. Correction: I went for dinner, my Other Half went for dinner and drinks. The Ironman Training Thing hit me hard when I saw nearly everyone else pouring Rum & Coke or beer (and in some wild cases - both).

I got really excited when someone mentioned she was going hiking with her hubby and son the next day on Palomar.

"Really?" I cried, setting down my Sodawater (which got a few disapproving stares, I might add). "Where are you guys going? At the top?? Ooohhhhh - there are some great trails! And its just beautiful!" I continued.

And yes: for the record I got a few stares. I love that mountain in a twisted, weird way - but the fact that people would actually go to it to hike and not bike really got me excited. Hello Off-season! I think I know what I'll be doing!

I got even more stares when I said my good-byes at 8:30. Rising at 0430 for breakfast followed by a 120-mile ride is just not conducive to late-night partying.

Nathaniel - on the other hand - stayed and had a blast. And I didn't blame him, not one bit. But it was hard to deny the pangs of jealousy as I drove away from the Merry-making. Just think about running down Ali'i drive towards that finish will all be worth it in the end...and this is something that they'll never have to make sacrifices if you want something special...just focus on that finish... But it still hit hard. I sometimes wonder if what I miss - time with Nathaniel and having a "normal" weekend - is really worth it.

(statement, not question)

Then again...

1) What is normal 2) I really LOVE training and racing and would be extremely unhappy if I wasn't able to do it (as we all know from 2008). 3) Once I'm out and riding, there is no other place I would rather be on a Saturday morning than on my bike, enjoying the beautiful California scenery.

But I digress....

How did I find myself wolfing down two pints of beer and just over one pizza?

I short: I rode my bike a really really REALLY long time.

Here's a time-lime of my thoughts on Saturday morning/afternoon.

0430: Alarm beeps - God this is early. Just 20 more minutes, and I'll be okay.

0450: Second alarm
0451: Third alarm
0452: Forth alarm
045-- Okay, okay! I'm up!

0500: Breakfast. Ugh. Too early to drink two bottles of ensure. But at least the banannas go down well.

0530: Amazing how many people are on Facebook on Saturday morning!

0550: Good Lord - I must have used at least 1/4 cup of chamois cream in my shorts. Ugh. Cold, wet, messy...and let's hope that it lasts all day long.

0612: Kiss Nathaniel good bye and DO NOT look longingly at the other half of the bed. It is just too tempting to jump back in and snuggle under the covers....

0615: Out the door. Riding. Good morning to other rider along Kelley drive.

0630: Meet Darcy - ride partner extraordinare for our Henshaw Loop Ride.

0635: Make new friend - Norm, who is running the Disney Half Marathon tomorrow (Sunday) and 'only' riding 40 miles. Ignore pangs of jealousy.

0637: Wonder if those pangs of jealousy come from only riding 40 miles or only running a half marathon?

0655: Hello early morning fog! Beautiful draped over the valleys and hills...pouring out from the trees. I know you promise to make this day a humid one. Now - if you could please keep the desert thunderstorms away until after we've passed through the desert...

0715: Hello Elfin Forest! Hello the Smell of Dill! I LOVE dill! I love how dill smells! I love riding through Elfin Forest!

0740: Discover that Darcy is my Marathon-twin. We have the EXACT same marathon times in both our IM AND open marathon. Four marathons from two people run under extremely different circumstances and the exact same time down to the minute. I knew I liked this girl...

0755: Holy Cow! We pass two other bikers, and it turns out they are doing the Henshaw loop as well! Jump on the train Caroline and Vicki! This ride just got better!!!!

0805: Rest stop to pick up MORE people riding Henshaw. YES!

0820: Uh oh! New group of friends is going the wrong way! No no no no no! I think something is wrong.

0821: Darcy and I turn around and ride our own way on Henshaw loop and figure that we'll see the group coming from the opposite direction. Riding down the Ramona Pass at 1:00 pm on Saturday just didn't sound all that good....with wine tasters and all getting behind the wheel. Yikes! Oh well. Sianara draft from uber-fast bike guys!

0822: Shit! Where is my turn?

0823: Pretend that you're not lost... I think its the next light...?

0825: Oh good! There it is. Phew!!

0835: Hello Ostriches!

0845: Good morning Cows!

0850: Hello Ramona Pass! Let's hit the watts and GO!

0900: Tell Darcy that I'm GRATEFUL for the fact that she has a mirror on her helmet and can see cars coming from behind. I'll spot the glass and grates and debris up ahead as long as she warns of cars, trucks, motorcycles and everything else in between.

0912: Holy Cow it is HOT. Already!

0918: YEA! Gas station and conversation with another cyclist at gas station. Try not to cry when he says he's only riding 40 miles.

0919: What is it with people and their 40-mile rides?

0930: Smell BACON and SAUSAGE and EGGS and HASH BROWNS and COFFEE and SYRUP and PANCAKES at a restaurant in Ramona.

0933: Still salivating.

0940: Climbing up false flat.

0953: Still climbing up false flat.

1005: Getting sick of false flat.

1010: False flat is fill-in-the-blank with four-letter-fffff-words.

1012: F*cking fals flat. And now my water is HOT.

1015: Look! Lamas! At least I think they're lamas. What's the difference between lamas and camels?

1025: MORE false flat

1040: Passing the 3000 foot sign. BEAUTIFUL view!

1043: Even better view with the Julian Pie Shop Rest-stop in sight!

1050: Put quarter into the coolest gallon-of-water machine EVER. We managed to fill up 6 bottles for .25 cents. YES!

1055: Still climbing.

1100: Holy Cow - there is the dome of Palomar's peak. Seeing it in the distance from this vantage is always beautiful.

1103: Nice to descend... FINALLY!

1110: STILL descending! Beautiful!

1111: Hello SR-76 and Lake Henshaw!

1125: Wave to Caroline and Vicki coming up the opposite direction! YEA!

1130: East Grade Road and Hedwind.

1133: Headwind!

1140: HEADWIND!!!

1150: MORE HEADWIND. Can't

1158: Holy Hell its HOT out here!

1204: Descending part of Palomar. Wind whipping by...not pedaling (finally)...but STILL windy and hot. YEA!

1211: Bump. Bump. Bump. Stupid. Bump. Cracks. Near. Bump. Bump. Harras. Bum. Casino. Bump. Double Check. Bump. On. Bump. Bottles. Bump Bump. In. Back.

1215: the BEST fire station rest stop and gas station EVER. I *heart* ice machines. And people who let me take as much ice as I need.

1217: My 5th gel of the day. Ugh.

1220: I have run out of Gears climbing the Valley View Hill. And I am roasting in the process.

1222: Scene from "The Wizard of Oz" enters my friend brain. "I'm melting, melting!" Except I'm not in a black cape or pointy hat. A broom would be nice, though. At least I could sweep up all the glass laying in wait on the road.

1229: Just make it to the top.

1230: The top! ALMOST there...

1233: Who am I kidding? Another few minutes to go.

1234: FINALLY - turning on towards Lake Wholford Road, and passing the 96-degree sign. Hello heat!

1250: Avoid the urge to jump into Lake Wholford. Damn that water looks beautiful!

1258: Descend! Lake!!! Wholford!!! Hiiiiilllll!!!! Weeeeeeeee!!!!!!

1304: Stupid right knee has decided to twinge with every pedal stroke. Bugger.

1310: Okay - mental pep talk! About 90 minutes left from this point! I am riding for pizza and beer! Invite Darcy and her famiy/friends for pizza and beer. The Pizza and beer date with Nate will get me through this ride..

1316: Successfully avoid flat tire while leaping over MONSTER pot hold.

1318: pzt pzt pzt pzt pzt.... hello flat tire!

1319-1322: Watch in amazement as Darcy changes my flat tire in absolute record time. It took me longer to pee at the last rest station. This girl is incredible. I stand and watch in amazement! I am humbled!

1323: We are on our way.

1330: Passing the El Pollo Loco shop - so I know that I'm on course...

1331: Pizza and beer sounds good... and beer....mmmmm....

1351: Wow - lots of traffic. Pot holes. Busses. Ugh. Just get to San Marcos...just get to San Marcos...and its all downhill from there. And then pizza and beer date with Nate!

1400: Am somehow managing to not get lost as I make two lefts and a right...or was that a right and then left... hhhmmmm. Thank goodness for Darcy! To heads are better than one - and I've managed to entire her with promise of pizza and beer.

1412: Back on track! ON Palomar Airport Road and heading to the coast! Mountain thunderheads to our back, while catching glimpses of the deep blue ocean from the crest of hills. Beautiful!

1420: Watch Darcy push in excess of 400+ watts and do my best to stay on her wheel. He strength is incredible and I manage only because 1) I didn't have any Rum & Coke last night 2) we are ALMOST done.

1426: Almost to Kelley Drive...almost there...almost done....discuss the workout that Craig Walton does (a 120-mile ride and THEN 12 X 1 mile running reapeats ON the 6:30 interval. Oh MY GOSH!).

1427: Decide that instead of running something stupid at a stupidly fast pace, I will drink beer and have pizza instead.

1428: Pizza and beer! GETTING CLOSER!!

1430: Turning onto Kelly drive - the work is done, and now just an easy spin back home! Bid farewells to Darcy and ride up the FINAL little hill. Views of the condo, the lagoon, the ocean, the power plant - all marvelous. I never knew that fresh, sweet air, coming off the ocean could taste so good!

1438-1445: lay on the floor in a stupor of cond

1450: Shower

1456-1511: Lay in bed in post-shower stupor, wrapped in warm and damp towel - listening to Nathaniel reading a list, but not really hearing anything that he's saying.

1530: Pizza Port! YEA! Order some sort of Pint of Amber for myself..Nathaniel got a pint of "Pure Hoppiness" and we put in our pizza orders. Me - the BBQ pizza. Nathaniel - something with artichoke hearts, cheese, sausage...yum!

1545: Wating for pizza and watching football. With empty beer pints in front of us.

1546: Decide that another pint is in order for when the pizza arrives. This time I'll try an Oktoberfest brew of some sort. MMMmmm...

1550: Pizza arrives and I'm eating.





Watching football




Aaaahhhh. Happy.

Yes - other people are staring, and I would admit that seeing a small-medium-ish sized girl putting down 8 slices of pizza and 2 pints is a bit of a show....

I still did it.

Now - if only I could move. Legs seemed to have locked up... But tummy is happy and brain is slightly fuzzy.... MMMmmmmm....

Post-ride life is good!

Where was I?

At this point...? Who cares.

It was a long, long, LONG ride - made all the better with a great ride partner (THANK YOU DARCY). My legs cooperated and pushed the way they were supposed to, my head remained upbeat and true - even when the going got tough, and I didn't chuck my bike off a cliff or run headlong into a lake. Success!!!

Looking forward to the next ride...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Key Workout

KEY WORKOUT (at Lake O'Neil!)

K - Kick hard, because you've only got so many of these per week (usually two - so make 'em count).

E - Eeeewww. I think I just stepped on something really smelly and really really dead.

Y - Yikes. If I thought the four minute piece hurt, then I'm in some serious trouble for the five minute effort.

W - Want. You have to want it, believe it, feel it - in order to achieve it.

O - Ouch. No one said this would be easy.

R - Running. Running, running, running. Keep...running...running....

K - Kona. Remember it, because soon it will be here.

O - Ouch. Oops. Already taken. Ow. Ow. Ow. Hamstrings have been engaged!

U - Undeniably, I have done little running speed work this year. Something about 'strong, steady, solid' and IM... And I can feel. every. single. 'fast-ish'. step. I think I already used ouch.

T - Treasure. Treasure the workout, treasure the moment, treasure the fact that I'm able to do this. Nope - not always easy.

But the GREAT things in life rarely are.