"Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best." - Theodore I. Rubin

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WAY Overdue....:):)

Wow, I have waited way too long to update lately! I have been incredibly busy since coming back from Costa Rica and this week I'll finally have some days to breathe before some huge spring races start taking over my life again :)

I returned from Costa Rica to my new amazing TYR Hurricane wetsuit!! yeee haaa baby! I am so excited to have the BEST wetsuit on the market and can't wait to test it out ASAP :) I have always loved TYR products and have used their goggles, suits, etc. ever since I started swimming, oh gosh 22 years ago!? :) Until now I haven't really needed a wetsuit in most triathlons I have raced, so I look forward to regularly using the best one out there.

I also have a new sponsor that I'm VERY excited about :)...Jack Black..here is their website (also a link on my blog list of sponsors)..YES they are a "men's grooming company", but I have been given some of their stuff to test before, and much of it can be used for women of course. They have certain things they specialize in for men specifically. When they approached me after Costa Rica to be their first woman among all their men, I said of course! ;) I LOVE everything I have tried from their line so I look forward to giving some samples to friends and of course enjoying their amazing lip balms, sunscreen, body wash, recovery balm, etc.

More GU goodies have been unveiled!! They now make BU Brew Electrolyte Tablets! You can just drop one in your bottles and they gradual fizzle to give you some taste but no sugar, just the electrolytes you need :) I am totally bias to the Peach Tea flavor but they also make them in orange and lemon lime. Here is some info on them for you.

I always love going into Triple Sports because Kara and Brian have such a wonderful selection of EVERYTHING! Totally dangerous when a girl is in the mood to shop, lol ;) When I was in the other day I got some adorable stuff by a new running apparel company called Oiselle, made specifically for women. I LOVE the shorts and the shirt! I wore the shirt like 3 days in a row because it's so soft, lol and the shorts are super flattering :) The shirt is called Big Run Tee (in midnight) and their shorts I have are called Distance Short, in pale blue. Check out their adorable stuff here :)

Alright how about a training update? :)-- Things are going very well and I couldn't be happier. I can tell my fitness improves weekly, which feels nice, ha! My run fitness is not where I want it to be right now but A is giving me great workouts that test me and improve my strength. He helped me get a power meter for my bike so now I know what kind of work I'm putting in and it's cool to see the charts and kinda understand pacing myself better, etc. I am sure I'll continue to learn a ton over the next few months, which of course is exciting. He was in town for a few days earlier last week and helped me with my swim form and now I don't swim like a princess trying not to splash the water, LOL. :) He also helped me work on my cadence and a constant work in progress: getting me to not heel strike, especially when I am just running relaxed.

One day we went out for a 3 hour ride workout and I did the same intervals he had to do, but obviously not as ridiculously fast as he rides. However a little bit into our last part of the workout, a one hour steady state, he told me to get in his draft and try to stay there. Oh.My.Gosh. I seriously could do nothing but stare at the white line and hang on for dear life! My legs hurt (among other things) and I just wanted to be off the bike! I wanted to hit him when he kept waving his hand to get back on him, if I drifted back a bit, but I sucked it up and somehow survived, HAHAHA ;) It makes all the difference in the world to have a coach that really inspires me, and isn't just a dictator, lol. It's a lot more fun and motivating knowing he works so much harder than I do!

The next day I had a 3 hour ride on my own, because he left to go home, and I rode pretty damn fast, even when my legs were pretty tired. Made me realize you can never assume how you'll ride based off the first few miles, especially if you get in a good groove and push pretty hard!

My "elite/pro" license for triathlon has been approved and now all I need to do is register in the pro group of athletes so I can race in the World Triathlon Corporation events and I'll be set to go. About a year ago I had a vision and gut feeling that I could run professionally AND do triathlon professionally, successfully. People told me and continue to tell me they don't think it's really possible, but I am determined to make them eat their words. :] With the way A is going to periodize the year a certain way for me, I know it's possible to have a successful chunk of time running while also tri training and doing less serious tris and then have a more serious tri season. I'm incredibly excited for everything and to have a coach who I believe in and trust and who believes in me makes all the difference.

My part time job I had didn't last very long and it's definitely better for me to not be rushing around, cutting stretching time short, being on the go 12+ hours a day, not sleeping as much, etc. just to work a few hours each week. If I want to work I can still do my sub teaching, but for now, training around 20+ hours per week and all the traveling I do keeps me plenty busy! I want to start coaching in some capacity very soon, and I'm working on getting that going, so that will keep me busy and fulfill my passion for helping people set and achieve their goals!

I cannot express how HAPPY I am with where I am in my life right now though, and how grateful I feel for being able to do what I do. I just wouldn't trade it for anything and any time I am feeling not very motivated, I think about how miserable I feel when I am not training or doing something else I don't LOVE. I totally and completely love this life I'm living and the most fabulous thing is that I know it's only going to get 20 times better by the end of the year. Woo hoo baby!

*I'm going to write a few quotes because I love all of these and I haven't posted in a while so here are plenty. lol

Pic: New sponsor!

Quote: "In a race, you represent yourself and all the hard work you and your coach have put in all year. This combination of respect for each other's efforts and determination to be your best makes a true winner"- Mike Keogh

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born"

"You are the only person on earth who can use your ability"- Zig Ziglar

"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly"- Frank Outlaw

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Racing and Fabulous FUN! :)

WOW, everything with the Training Bible Coaching Costa Rica training camp and the Rev3 races was so incredibly fun! I have not laughed, joked, cooked, trained and hung out with so many fun and hilarious people in my life. We all raced well in the Olympic and Half Iron distance races! We had many finish on the podium in their age groups and Adam and I won the Olympic and Half races on each day. Talk about an AWESOME experience; how often can an athlete and their coach win the overall male and female divisions in a big triathlon?! :) So great.

The olympic race results I think are incorrect but I am not sure if they are adjusting them. They also include transition times with our bike times as well. Anyway, the olympic race was a good rust burner for me and I think it helped me race better on Sunday in the half iron race. I felt stronger and biked much better for one thing. Secondly, my chaotic swim on Sat helped me realize what I needed to change for Sunday! Also, the swim courses were way long! Sat was 1.2 miles and on Sun it was like 1.8!? Craziness, haha. I also got to test my pre-race nutrition and make sure it worked so I could do the same on Sunday but add a big more. In the morning I ate my typical toast, some coffee, water and 2 packs of GU caffeinated Chomps. During the race I drank my GU Raspberry brew and water plus one Vanilla Bean gel on the bike. Sunday I did everything the same except I had some more toast in the morning and ate 3 gels on the bike and 2 during the run! Worked like a charm- NO stomach problems :)-

The hilly bike and run courses tested me like I have not been tested in a long time! Steep hills right away on the bike really hit my quads and heart rate after the swim. The sand running, roots, dirt and big hills in the run course definitely challenged me mentally and physically! My run time was decent on sat and on sunday I thought I was going to pass out in the heat and felt like I was running over 7 minute miles (Garmin died so didn't have a watch on!)..but I ran a 1:22 and lapped the other women on the 4 lap run course, so I don't know how I managed such a decent time! Overall I am really happy to have a couple races under my belt now. Racing pro the rest of the year will be such an amazing experience and I know I will continue to learn so much. Adam has already helped me in more ways than I can explain so the future looks very bright! :)

Next up is the fun Ragnar Relay del Sol with my friends this weekend. I am looking forward to doing something different and fun- running through the state of Arizona :) I have three pretty hard legs during the race and one of them Adam has me doing kinda like a workout but the other two will be more fun, so it should be a good adventure :)

Pics: From the race and camp :)

Quote: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” - Steve Jobs

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Costa Rica!!! :)

Well, what can I say..Costa Rica has been fabulous! The first three days were the hardest, leaving me more sore than after most marathons! My lateral quad muscles and glutes were the worst! First of all, we are at the top of a huge cliff with hills ranging from 16-26 % grade!?!?! Walking or running up and down them is a workout in itself, and they are LONG. I literally had a panic attack the first day we had to ride our bikes DOWN the mountain and stopped at the top of one of the big hills because the steepness scared the crap out of me. The next day Adam rode next to me, talked me through it and helped me with where to look ahead, holding the brakes, etc. It was by far one of the scariest, if not THE scariest thing I've ever done in my life! At the bottom at least I was able to smile when Adam said "It wasn't that bad, right?" HAHA...if only he knew I thought I was gonna die the whole time ;)

Anyway, my swimming has improved drastically and today I had a great workout in the ocean with the fastest male swimmer at camp (if you don't count Adam, lol)..I didn't really know how to draft before camp but now I do, and staying on someone's feet definitely helps save some energy! It also keeps me swimming faster and trying to "hold on". I have been testing out a Skinfit speedsuit that I can wear during the entire race and I really love it. It's seamless which is perfect for my sensitive skin! :)

I also had my running form analyzed and now I have some things to work on with that as well. It's always good to find the little imperfections and tweak things because it will make me more efficient and therefore much faster! Adam thinks I should work on running more in flats and shoes with less of a heel, so I will start running in my flats more. I have heard of many runners doing this yet I know for me, I have to do it gradually. I'll also start running barefoot on grass more often.

My biking is going well too, but that is the area I really need to keep spending more time on, get more powerful and overall just stronger, not only on hills but also pushing my pain level and not riding comfortably hard all the time, but really get after it! Adam helped me tweak my seat a bit too so hopefully I'll feel more comfortable on my saddle now.

Well, I am getting VERY excited to race this weekend!! Tomorrow will be a light day and we are traveling to the Rev3 race venue to set up our bikes, go to the athlete meeting, etc. It's going to be a hot and humid race but I can't wait to see how fast I can go since it's been so long since I raced swimbikerun :) Adam and I have talked a lot and we decided it's a great idea for me to race pro in triathlon this year and really go after some big races in July and August and see how well I can do. I am so extremely excited for this year of racing!

Time to cook some dinner and sit on the balcony to relax for the night. I have also been enjoying speaking Spanish while I am here. There are some triathletes from Venezuela here with us so I enjoy practicing with them and they say I speak very well so thank goodness all my years studying it in school paid off :)

Pics: Some pics from the camp so far. Hills going up to the house, the group, view on a ride and my fave cereal in Spanish, lol

Quote: " It is not the place, nor the condition, but the mind alone that can make anyone happy or miserable."- Roger L’Estrange

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Skirts, Costa Rica and Mtn to Fountain!

I'm getting excited for the 4th annual Skirt Chaser 5k race this Saturday here in Tempe, at the Tempe Beach Park! I have enjoyed this race every single year it's put on, and this year I'll be gunning for my fourth title of not being "caught" by the chase men who start 3 minutes after the women. It's super fun and will be a great event to do before I head off to Costa Rica that night :) Now it's time to decide which of my many skirts I'll race in?? ;)

Have I mentioned I am excited for Costa Rica??! hahaha..it's almost here and with this week jam packed with training (3 days of triple workouts!), working and getting EVERYTHING ready to go, I'll be the most relaxed when I finally sit down on the plane :) As many of you triathletes know, and some runners may not, taking everything you need not only for a triathlon race, but an entire training camp week, seems endless. Packing for 3 sports, nutrition stuff, gear stuff and ummm taking apart my bike and getting it in the bike box to be ready for the airplane will likely be done late at night on Friday...let's hope D is home to help me! :) My mind goes from excited to apprehensive to nervous, like a cycle, every 24 hours. I am nervous I won't be able to keep up with everyone at camp, mostly in the biking and swimming, HA ;) I am nervous my coach is going to find a gazillion things wrong with my swim technique, bike form, etc. and I know it will overwhelm me and make me feel inadequate...

BUT, that's where my mental positivity and patience needs to come right in and smack my mind right...refining your skills and technique with two sports you have not done for 16 years (like your strong sport), takes TIME, for crying out loud. I tend to want results immediately. I want to be great right away. Maybe I am too hard on myself...as evident from the camp I went to last year in Tucson when I broke down sobbing on the phone to my mom after the first day because I hated myself and didn't feel I was good enough...Then 4 weeks later I qualified for Kona easily, at Oceanside, with minimal training those two months prior. The physical talent is there but my mental relentless positivity needs to improve about 20 notches; I know it will come eventually. I know everyone struggles with this at times but a HUGE goal for me this year is to take everything- ONE. DAY. AT. A. TIME....honestly, it's a daily struggle for me...so it's something I better be an expert at by the end of the year :)

Another great race that our awesome local Bandidos group is putting on this year is the Mountain to Fountain 15k, in Fountain Hills, AZ on March 12th. They have great prize money, age group awards and even a team competition where the winning team wins their weight in beer from Four Peaks Brewery! Four Peaks will be there on-site for the beer garden FUN afterward. It's a USATF certified course and will definitely be a fast course, with the first 5k being mostly downhill and then not many climbs thereafter. If you are interested in racing you should take advantage of the awesome happy hour they are having at Four Peaks Brewery this Friday from 5:30 to 7:30, Feb. 11th. It will be tons of fun and you can get a registration discount while also having some tasty appetizers and even better beer from our awesome local brewery. Don't miss it!

Pic: My cow friends I see on almost every ride...they stop and stare as I ride by and I just think it's hilarious :) I wish I could set them all free to graze in a huge pasture...

Quote: "It takes time to build a castle."- Irish Proverb

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize!!

Everyone goes through rough patches during life. Whether it be someone training for a really important race, a student in med school or a family member dealing with a severe sickness; the toughest trials in life show us who we truly are, what we are made of. Getting through really rough days, weeks, months and years usually make us stronger people and we learn new things about ourselves. It's sad to say but often tragic events completely wake us up to what really matters to us the most! I remember when one of our dogs was hit by a car in the fall of 2008 and it was almost as if everything in my whole word did not matter at all; I dropped everything to take care of him and nurse him back to health, including running...I didn't even want to leave the house in fear that something would happen while I was gone and just in general I felt so guilty.

Anyway, thank goodness nothing drastic has happened in my life (knock on wood), but lately I've been forcing myself to think about what really matters to me in my life right now. I have so many goals and dreams for myself and I'm not a very patient person, so I tend to analyze and stress about how I am going to make them all happen, ASAP! I don't like to make the excuse "Oh I'm still pretty young. I have time"...because we don't know how much time we will have in life, and I want to live every day with no regrets. The weeks following Kona last year I regretted not going and racing. Although I had a big focus on the NYC marathon, I still wished I had gone to Kona.

This year, although I have not qualified as of now, I am living my life and visualizing my training as if I AM going. I have HUGE goals for Kona this year and many big dreams for my career this year. The past few days have been rough for me in the positive mental attitude realm. Today I managed to turn it around quite a bit and also had a good workout this morning, visualizing racing in Costa Rica in barely over a week! All in all, everyone doubts themselves here and there when they are pushing themselves to their limits, thinking "Geez I don't know if I can do this!" Most of my doubts tend to stem from outside sources and I have to push those away and focus on myself, keep my eyes on the prize that I've wanted for so so long. When that day comes and all that I've worked for turns into a huge success, I know all the doubts I had will finally be washed away and I'll be so incredibly proud of myself :)

If you ever doubt yourself and what level you can reach, whether it's your career, athletics or both, read the article about the Raelert brothers in the current issue of LAVA magazine..it'll surely inspire you to never.stop.believing in yourself!! :) If your mind can conceive it and your heart believes it, you can achieve it!

Pic: A little reminder to myself when any doubts come in...

Quote: "Mirinda Carfrae ran a record 2:53:32 marathon in Kona this year, making many believe, for the first time, that a woman can break 2:50 on the run"- LAVA magazine....yeaaaa baby ;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Houston Race Recap and Pumped for swimbikerun!

Going into Houston I didn't really have many expectations. I felt great going into the race and the few running workouts I did went well, so I knew I'd probably run decent with a small chance of a magical day. A big reason I wanted to go race was to see the loop we'll be running in the trials course and see Houston, the race venue and how the race organizers are going to handle the Olympic Trials in less than one year!

My mind was a big "blah" so to speak, the morning of the race. I stayed calm and didn't feel tons of nerves. I kept telling myself to not worry about the end result, just get out there, race every mile yet more importantly race smart and pay attention to the course. Thankfully my head and heart kept me positive during a race, once again! I felt amazing until about mile 8, where I started to feel myself getting hotter (it was warm and humid and not enough water stops!). I kept pressing as much as I could, keep my form from falling apart and not let more women pass me (only 1 did from the time the entire race started). It felt good to gradually reel women in who started out too fast because it gives you a feeling of positive momentum. The trick is not to settle just because you've passed people in front of you; you have to make sure you are still pushing the pace where you want it to be.

I finished in 14th place in 1:15:24. Some argue that Garmin watches are not accurate but mine showed the course being way long- 13.32 miles! Others had it long as well, so I hope they fix that before the marathon...26.2 is enough and an extra .4 would not be fun, haha :) Basically, for the Trials, they will have us run an out and back section at the start of the race (away from the finish line and then back toward it, for a total of 2.2 miles)...then we keep on running through the finish for the start of the 3, 8 mile loops. Each 8 mile loop has 2 very sharp 180 degree hairpin turns that massively slow your momentum! The reason they made the course this way is to mimic the London Olympic Marathon course. Is having hundreds of trials qualifiers running this type of course beneficial when at most only 3 make the team? Some argue no but I guess being mad about it or hating it will only mess up your head going into such a big race..you have to accept it and train to be ready for it.

As I talked with friends and people I knew after the race, made my way back to my room and took an ice bath, I couldn't help but feel huge rushes of excitement for my big swimbikerun races in Costa Rica in less than 2 weeks! I have been working pretty hard in the pool and riding Mr. Specialized a lot, so I really think it will show me what kind of shape I am in this early in the year and how much harder I have to work the next few months. It seriously seems as if Christmas was just here and it's been over a month, so with time flying so fast, you have to make the most of every training and recovery week because both determine how successful you are going to be on the race course!

We had some beeeeauuutiful days here in Phoenix the past couple weeks but rain and colder temps are rolling in this week..time to get my toughness back up a few notches :) Have a great week everyone!

Pic: cool pic from PF Changs my friend took.

Quote: "Of course it's going to be hard...it wouldn't be worth it if it weren't"- actress in a movie I saw :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flat tires, Lifetime Fitness and Beeline + Burgers!

Monday morning I had a scheduled hill workout on the bike so I set out at 8 am for my ride. Almost 14 miles from home I suddenly had a flat tire and started to fix it. Unfortunately my CO2 cartridges did not work properly (or I was just a bit dumb) and was left with a new tube with hardly any air in it. Thank goodness I really never get flats and the last time I had to change one during a ride was probably summer of 2007! I started to panic, being in the middle of nowhere, no cars stopping to ask if I was ok and no one to call because D and K were at work. I immediately got really angry, hating what I was doing and thinking really negative. The tears started and my anger got worse and worse.

I called Adam to ask him if it was safe to ride home on the flat and he didn't recommend it. Unfortunately his idea of a cab was kinda out of the question, so I hung up and called mom. She said she'd come get me but she has a Mini as well and getting my bike and another person in the car makes you feel like you are doing a circus stunt...:) I called my brother and he immediately told me he'd come get me...awww my sweet brother saved the day and he was there in less than 30 min! As I sat on the side of the road trying to stay warm in the sun, I gradually calmed myself down and started to think more positive thoughts on how to prevent the situation from happening in the future! 1) Get a small hand pump for my bike 2) Figure out how to use my other CO2 little doo-hickey (I don't know what it's called, lol), rather than the complicated gun type thing I had that didn't work 3) Just be happy you had another safe ride without getting hit by a crazy bike-hating driver! I went home and did an altered workout Adam gave me on the trainer until my quads almost burned off :)

After trying out the Lifetime Fitness gym in Tempe for a week, I finally have a membership! I am really excited because they have an indoor pool as well as a beautiful outdoor pool that opens around March. They have a beautiful gym as well, with amazing facilities and I really love it so far. They are also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so for instance last night when I could NOT sleep, I decided to go and do my swim workout at 10 pm rather than toss and turn and have to get up at 5 am to do it before my flight. The pool was basically empty at that time and the super hot hot tub warmed me up afterward and helped me sleep well later once I got home and showered off all the chlorine! I can't wait to try their yoga and pilates classes as well.

Yesterday I had an incredibly awesome ride from Triple Sports in Scottsdale, up the Beeline, down Shea and through Fountain Hills to Rio Verde and back. I rode with some friends which made it so much more enjoyable and I didn't think about the horrendous head wind we had while also climbing up the Beeline! Flying down all the hills of course was super fun and we finished up at The Orange Table afterward and I had the most amazing burger (as usual)..green chili, cheddar and avocado. YUM! :p Thankfully my car was still safe and sound with no ticket in the "15 min parking" spot that I parked in. LOL! I went in to Triple Sports afterward and bought some extra CO2s as well, hahaha

Pics: The house where we are staying for the Tri camp in Costa Rica and our view from the house! :) *CAN'T wait*

Quote: "Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company" ~ Booker T. Washington

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More Fitness Half Marathon!, Brick workouts + Houston next weekend!

This week has been filled with lots of fun and positive experiences. Radio and newspaper interviews, messages from friends and great support from my sponsors. It's truly been an amazing week and I've loved every minute of it. Now the training and planning for the rest of the year is in full effect and Adam and I are working things through. I have been invited back to race in the More Magazine/ Fitness Magazine Women's Half Marathon, put on by the New York Road Runners and I am extremely excited! Racing in NYC has become familiar for me and it's one of my favorite cities to run in. One thing I LOVE about this race is the fact it's all in Central Park. Yes, it's a bit hilly but the fact that on the second loop you get so many cheers from the other women and obviously the fans on the side, it really keeps your thoughts on pushing hard, not whether you are on a hill or not. Last year the weather was incredibly cold and raining yet I had a great experience, got to meet Kristin Davis from Sex and the City and set a new course record. I'm planning on having an even better year this year and if you live in the NY area or are up for a trip to NYC, I highly recommend this race..great "girls trip" type of event! The expo is super fun with lots of great vendors and the pre-race pasta party they have is super fun as well. However as of a couple days ago the registration was nearly full, so register ASAP! Hope to see you there :)

Today I did my first brick workout of the year- 3.5 hr ride and then 20 minute run. Running off the bike, my legs always feel a little funny right in the first half mile or so, yet then I try to get in a good rhythm and usually end up running a good pace. Doing long rides knowing you still have a run to do afterward can really test your mental strength sometimes. Thank goodness today the weather was a beautiful 70 degrees, a good 40 degrees *cooler* than what it will be 5 months from now!!! I tried to think of just the ride and then focus on the run when I got back and had to change shoes, etc. Something I alwaaays do during really long workouts is think about what I will make to eat afterward, hahaha :) It keeps me excited to keep pushing the pace and get the job done for the day...then enjoy food, relaxation, playing with my dogs, etc. Ride + run brick workouts are really important for me with my triathlon training because if I want to accomplish my time goals in triathlons, my legs need to be used to that post-bike run feeling!

Adam and I waited to see how I felt all week after the marathon on Sunday and since I am feeling good and don't have any issues, I'm definitely headed to Houston next weekend for the USA Half Marathon National Championships. Woo hoo! I'm excited to go get in a hard half marathon effort and get a feel for the Olympic Trials Marathon course. For the half next weekend, they are having us run an out and back 5.1 mile section and then we are running the 8 mile loop that we will run 3 times during the Olympic Trials marathon. From what I have heard, for the Olympic Trials marathon course, we will run about a mile out to the loop, run the loop 3 times and then head back to the finish. I'm so happy it's a loop course because spectators can see us multiple times! :)

Pics: From this past Sunday after the marathon and my 4 boys snuggling together :)

Quote: "There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way." - Christopher Morley

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is a dream if it doesn’t come true…?

My goodness, where do I start? I don’t want to write a long novel about yesterday’s race, so I will try to simply write about the most meaningful stuff ☺

First of all, I did NOT specifically train for this marathon at all! After NYC I did NO major hard workouts. The only hard efforts I did were local races here in AZ and the XTERRA half marathon world champs in Hawaii in early December. This route helped me stay a bit distracted, so to speak and not freak out about racing another marathon. My swimming and biking has been pretty high in volume considering I had not been in the pool or on Mr. Specialized since July! Starting a new job in December, getting a 4th dog and training for 3 sports kept my mind off any pressures that may have been there, had I not been as occupied!

Goal for this race: WIN, no.matter.what! Therefore, I knew since I had not done any races at a super fast speed, I could not go and try to run 5:50 miles in a marathon! I made a race plan in my head the day before: race the first half marathon as relaxed as possible and try to not over-think any split..goal was around 6 minute pace. I hit the half in 1:18:58 and my friend told me the second place woman was only about 12 seconds back. “Well, time to press a little bit” I thought. I ran 5:55’s for a little bit and then hovered around 6’s again. I knew I wanted to really push running up Indian School Rd. It can be a super tough part of the course..the road is a false flat, windy and the sun is right in your eyes! I pressed harder through here to maintain pace and gradually extended my lead. My fueling was great for this race as well. I only had 2.5 Vanilla Bean GU gels and water. I actually missed my bottle at the 15.6 mile marker but didn't turn around to get it...and I still was fine. No stomach problems or side cramps. Woo hoo! Before the race I ate toast with butter and honey and 2 packs of GU Chomps. OMG they sent me the new Peach Tea flavor and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them! sooo yummy..and they have 2x caffeine :)

I have not remained relentlessly positive in a marathon like I was yesterday, maybe ever! I stayed calm, believed in myself and ran the smartest race I could. My mom and I LOVE the motto “Keep Calm and Carry On” (she has it framed in her house)…there was a woman on the course with a poster with the same saying and I smiled when I saw it, pointed to her and yelled “I love your sign!” (I think it was meant to be for me to see it early in the race! ;) ) I looked at my splits online and I negative split the second half by one second! I ran pretty much the EXACT same splits! Crazy~ 1:18:58-1:18:57…so awesome ☺

My friend Steve was on his bike and continued to tell me what kind of lead I had. Without his cheering I don't think I would've enjoyed those last 10 miles as much. Thanks so much Steve! You are the best! ☺ Also, the lead female cyclists were INCREDIBLE!! One woman, Leslie, was riding her bike up ahead of me and telling spectators on the sidelines that I was a local girl and what my name was!! Oh my gosh she was just so awesome for doing that. I'll definitely be sending her a card in the mail, along with the other women, to thank them for all that they did to make my race even more special! As I ran south on Hayden I smiled from the inside out, knowing all I needed to do was not fall on my face and I was going to win the race. I made the turn onto University, hit the 25th mile marker and then it felt like an eternity before I made the turn toward the stadium. I saw the yellow banners on the barricades, all the people cheering and standing on Packard Dr. and I started sprinting like a madwoman! My last quarter mile was at 5:02 pace LOL ☺

I crossed the line and the emotion I had was pure happiness. I gave hugs to family and friends, did interviews for the news channels and made my way out of the finish chute. At the awards ceremony I got to say a few things and told everyone that my win was for everyone in Tempe, my favorite city in the whole state! I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to experience this post-race feeling and here I am doing it, three years after my first ever marathon here. I am on cloud nine! ☺ Friends called me yesterday and last night when they saw me on the news as well, and that really capped off the already super special day. My sister’s 21st birthday was yesterday…a 100% perfect day would have happened if she was at the finish line to give me a hug….12 months from now I’ll make sure she’s in Houston ☺

My family out driving, running and riding bikes on the course, my friends on the sidelines and biking on the course and everyone who took pictures for me, congratulated me and celebrated with me, I cannot THANK YOU enough!! It feels so darn good to accomplish something I’ve wanted for so long for ARIZONA! Woo hoo baby!

Here is another link to the article from the Arizona Republic paper today. There are more awesome pictures in the actual paper as well. Cannot wait to frame it and keep it on my wall for added motivation. I used to envision not only winning the race but being on the front of the sports page (cheesy I know ;) )…and when I saw it this morning I grinned while standing in the gas station reading it ☺

Pics: From the race, from friends and also photographers from the Republic. I’ll add more from my camera after I upload them.

Quote: “Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them”- 
John Updike

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This one's for you Arizona...

24 hours from now I'll be a little under an hour into the PF Changs Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon. My runs the past few days have felt like adrenaline was pumping through my body as if it were race morning; I'm EXCITED!!!...probably more excited for this race than any race I've ever done (except maybe some state championship races in HS).

I was born in Phoenix, raised until college in Tempe, went off to Duke, came back to AZ, lived in Scottsdale for a year and if you ask any of my former college teammates, all I did was talk about how awesome Arizona is when I was at Duke :):) I LOVE Arizona so much and I cannot wait to race through three of its many awesome cities and hopefully be not only the first American woman to win the race but also the first from Arizona!!!

My family and the people in my life from Arizona have given me so much. My family did so much for me but the biggest thing they did was support me through anything. I made my own decision as a 15 year old to transfer high schools (spurring a huge controversy yet held my head high and everything worked out), worked my butt off taking all honors and AP classes, worked a job and won 9 individual, 1 relay and 3 team state championships while at Mountain Pointe High School. Of course there will always be the "haters", (aka my motivators, hehe;) ) but I love my family, friends and fans so incredibly much!!

Anything can happen in a marathon and tomorrow I'll be racing and visualizing what I want out there, doing everything possible to make it happen. After my first marathon here in 2008 (6th place) a new dream materialized in my head- WIN the damn thing someday! Fifth place in 2009 was a big disappointment, although a 4 minute PR did happen, which was great. I learned from the NYC marathon a little bit more about my fueling and this time....just my Vanilla Bean GUs and water will fuel me out there during the race :) I'll be thinking of ALL of you out there who support me, love me and want to see me do well. Most of all though I'll be out there gunning for that finish line on Packard Drive happy to be representing the state that has essentially hoisted me to the level I've reached. I'm hoping this race propels me mentally and physically to another new level....

Here is a link to an article from the Arizona Republic from this past Thursday

Quote: "If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?"--Eminem

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Excited for so many things right now!

Wow, so many great things are happening lately and I'm excited and looking forward to lots of upcoming races, traveling and events! First off is the PF Chang's Rock n Roll marathon in 4 days! woop woop :) Three years ago this was my first marathon so here I am doing it for the third time...2008, 2009 and now 2011. This race has always been special to me because it goes all over the big major cities where I have grown up and been training for the past 16 years :) I hope to make everyone in AZ super proud on Sunday morning. So many friends in the area are racing as well so I hope to see them in the finish area after the race and hear everyone's race stories. Looks like the weather is going to be great too, so I am a very happy girl right now!

I'm also super excited because my swimming and biking has been going really well and I'm starting to really love being out there doing all three sports. This morning I definitely didn't want to go ride for 2.5 hours in the cold but I put my capri running tights on over my bike shorts, my NYC marathon fleece beanie on under my helmet, gloves, etc. and the only hard part was dealing with my numb toes. Time to get some toe covers for my shoes! I also have been thoroughly enjoying my Mint Chocolate GU's on all my rides lately. I eat one every hour and I always look forward to them. Seriously they taste like junior mints! :)- I also received my boxes of Cherry Lime Roctane gels in the mail so those will be devoured soon too.

My countdown to Costa Rica has already started as well! I'm superrrr excited to go there, train, meet some awesome coaches and athletes and race TWO races! I can only imagine how beautiful and wonderful the experience is going to be. They will be my first triathlon races since last March. I've already been working hard though so I know I will be ahead of where I was in March 2010. It helps to get this early start on base training, even when I don't want to be out in the colder temps...yesss 40 is COLD to me ;)

Finally, my other event I'm super excited about is the Ragnar Relay I'm doing with 11 other people here in AZ on Feb 25-26th. If you don't know what it is, it's a team relay race from Wickenburg, AZ to Tempe, AZ, a total of about 200 miles! I'll be doing 3 legs totaling about 21 miles and I'm doing the race with some really fun people! Our shirts are cute (main color is Duke blue so of course they are ;) )...and all around it sounds like it's going to be a great time! I did a similar race a couple summers in college with Duke teammates, called the River to Sea relay, out in New Jersey and we had SO MUCH FUN. How can running with friends, eating, driving, music, coffee, cat naps, and cold showers at random high schools not be fun??! An awesome adventure awaits I am sure....:) I'm already planning on fueling everyone with GU gels, Chomps and Electrolyte Brew, so we will definitely have the tastiest sports nutrition at least!

Pics: Me repping AZ to the fullest on our "state costume day" at practice in college LOL :) and PF Chang's 2009---gotta turn that frown upside down this year... :)

Quote: "If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves." -Thomas Edison

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Midnight FUN, PF Changs, Costa Rica!! and work 25, train 25 :0)

Mom, Sam and I rang in 2011 with a fun 3 mile race out in the frigid temps on the west side of Phoenix. As soon as I finished I turned around to cheer Sam through the line and then we ran off to find mom and cheer her to the finish line. We made bets on what her time would be and I came within SIX seconds! woo hoo :) I'm so happy for her and she is totally hooked on running and increases her mileage on her own, which makes me so proud. We enjoyed the yummy cornbread and chili courtesy of the sponsor, Sweet Tomatoes, and had fun talking to some friends to end the night.

2011 racing plans are still in progress but I am gradually setting things in stone, so that's a nice relief. Adam and I will continue to work on the plans and one for sure is a triathlon camp in Costa Rica and then the two Rev3 triathlon races on Feb 19th and 20th (Olympic and half). I CANNOT WAIT. The house we are staying in is AMAZING. Check out his blog for full details on the camp and if you are someone who's interested, let me know and I can refer you for a discount :) http://adamzucco.blogspot.com Adam has a recent blog about the camp. I have never been to Costa Rica yet the photos and what I have heard are all great, so I'm definitely looking forward to it. The fact we end the camp racing also makes me super excited :)

I have decided to race the Rock n Roll PF Changs Marathon here in Phoenix, and I am really looking forward to it. I didn't race last year but it was my first ever marathon and olympic trials qualifying race in 2008 and in 2009 I raced and set a 4 minute PR. I'm hoping this year I have another fun experience. I can't wait to have family and friends out on the course cheering! Running through Phx, Scottsdale and finishing in my home city of Tempe makes it an incredibly special race for me. Next year I definitely cannot race it due to the Olympic Trials being the same exact weekend, so this is my last chance for a couple years or more. Let's hope my legs truly rock and roll for me on January 16th! :) (also S's 21st bday, woo hoo!)

Ever since I started working with Adam, my training and busy factor has gone through the roof! I am working about 25 hours per week and last week I trained about 24 hours!!! WOW. It feels great to have every day be a productive one, yet now my sleep and nutrition I have to watch even more. It's easy to live off fruit, veggies, quick protein bars, bags of GU Chomps, peanut butter sandwiches, chocolate bars, etc. yet I need to make sure I am getting in everything I need to recover and train at my best possible level. The weather here is also pretty darn cold (for us Phoenicians at least), so jumping in an outdoor pool when it's 45 degrees outside makes me kinda feel a little nutz-o! The days are so short too, with it being dark from 5:45 pm t0 7 am....I try to train as much as I can when the sun is out--so much more enjoyable!

Pic: New Year's Midnight Madness- post race with mamma and Sammy

Quote for today: ‎"You still have your potential hidden away in a pocket or dark corner somewhere. Maybe when you are ninety your potential will slow down. It's almost like you need many many years to finish what you were put on this earth to do"-- someone really special in my life

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Life is oh so good :)

Is it really only Wednesday? Today felt like a Saturday or Sunday filled with nothing but training, eating and a couple hot showers since it's ummm in the 40's and raining. all.day.long.and.tomorrow.all.day.long!!! At 6 am when my alarm went ring a ding ding in the dark, I did NOT want to get up. The cold weather outside and the fact I was about to do a 4 hour bike ride all around unknown hilly territory just kinda made me want to crawl back into bed and snooze away :) Nope, I turned the negative thoughts into positive real quick and before I knew I was flying on Mr. Specialized all the way down Bell Road and could see all the gorgeous city lights out in the distance.

Soon enough I met up with my friend Jo and we started our ride. I LOVED it. She took me on a big awesome loop through Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Rio Verde and up "9 mile hill" until we dropped back into Scottsdale and made our way back. I really enjoyed it and riding with someone else just makes it sooo much more enjoyable. I gobbled up 3 Mint Chocolate GUs along the way, while daydreaming about what hot beverage I would enjoy the second I walked in the door....ummm Gingerbread coffee..duh ;)-

A nice hot shower awaited me next. The rain rolled right into the valley the last 10 miles of the ride..numbing me to the core by the time I got home! I made a yummy lunch, hot coffee, tea and relaxed in sweats until workout #2 and possibly #3 if I decided to swim in the evening. My run at 3 pm turned into a running ice bath, as my shirt, gloves, shorts, shoes, compression socks and arm warmers dripped water galore as I hobbled up the driveway. Last time I had a run like today was back at Duke when it was high 30's and pouring rain! The last 2 miles of my ice run I definitely decided--screw a swim workout in the dark cold rain!

Anyway, this week of training has been pretty special in many ways. It's forcing me to do things I haven't done in months (swim and bike) and to realize that life is oh so great when you take it one day at a time. Those who know me reallllly well, know that I think very far into the future, not only with athletic goals but also life goals, plans, hopes, dreams, etc., often paralyzing me in the here and now to just GO for it. I change my mind on certain ideas sometimes in a matter of 12 hours! (athletic ideas). Therefore I decided to start working with a coach who I have known for about a year now. We have discussed coaching options a few times the past year and for one reason or another (mostly my fear of failure and therefore changing my mind), I usually opted to just do my own thing.

After so much analyzing, hard-core stressing and almost downright depression, I decided that it's time I put most of the decisions and analyzing into someone else's hands, while I follow blindly and work my butt off. Within the first two days of working together, he had already sent me some awesome little uplifting emails that just got me excited, because when you have a coach who totally believes in you and wants you to accomplish ALL your goals, it really keeps you going when things get HARD. The coach I am working with is Adam Zucco, with Training Bible Coaching (no it's not a religious group, lol). www.trainingbible.com and his blog: http://adamzucco.blogspot.com

He is great so far and I am so excited to be working with someone who continues to have incredible success with ALL of his athletes! Improvement is a sure sign you are on your way to becoming a better athlete! I also love the fact that he races triathlons as well and is damn good! 9:16 at Kona this year?!?! Adam will be coaching me with my running and triathlon goals, while also listening to what tends to work for me with my running, since I have been doing it for so many years. His all around triathlon knowledge, coupled with some tidbits from me on my running history will undoubtedly be a surefire coach-athlete relationship for awesome success!! I have a great feeling about 2011...hopefully a year of many dreams come true :)

*Once again no pic, sorry not on my computer again.

Quote for today: "It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine and still shout at the edges of a lake, river or mountain yes! It doesn’t interest me where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done for someone you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments in your life. Live more than your neighbors, unleash yourself upon the world and go places. Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal, this is it, your life. Face your fears and live your dreams, take it all in, yes, every chance you get, come close; and yes, by all means what ever you do, get it on film." - John Blais

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Very Merry Week :) + "there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful"

Merry Christmas everyone and to those of you who don't celebrate Christmas I hope you all enjoy YOUR holidays you celebrate :) I have had a terrific week with good training, great friends, awesome family time and plenty of laughs! We had more dogs at our house today than people, HAHAHA..with the ones I am house sitting for and also our 4, it was a full house of love! The black lab kept getting in the pool which made my brother laugh so hard because the water is probably 50 degrees! I always love this holiday time of year and we only have one more night to celebrate, New Years! Then it's on to 2011 with plenty of new adventures, fun experiences and of course extremely hard work! I'm looking forward to a fresh new year that's for sure.

Training has been going pretty well. I have not added up my mileage for the week yet but tomorrow I'm doing my longest run in many months, 22 miles. I've had a little hamstring/butt issue going on that starts later in my runs so I'm hoping I feel ok tomorrow to get it done and practice with my water and GUs. I am going to try to do my next marathon with just water and GUs rather than the GU Brew electrolyte drink plus gels, because in New York it was just too much for me. I think in longer hotter races it's great, especially long distance triathlons or hot and humid weather marathons.

I started working for a company here in AZ that puts on athletic events around the state and so far it's great and totally something that fits my personality and interests. I can't wait to do the events and meet lots of great people. But wow, until now I never truly realized what goes on behind the scenes to put on an event and there is SO much to do! Triathlons are obviously more work since there are three different sports involved but even running or biking events are extremely intense. It makes me appreciate race directors and their entire team of workers. Not to mention the countless volunteers who do soooo much...I value my life as a professional runner even more since starting this job :) I feel very grateful and special to be able to do this in my life.

Anyway, I got a new Garmin from Triple Sports recently and I really like it because it has heart rate and it's the smaller version (Garmin 110). However I have to say, I prefer my Garmin Forerunner 405 much more. I really like how I can see individual mile splits, current and average pace, etc. It just has some additional features that I like. Triple Sports has plenty to choose from so I highly recommend getting one from them! You can also buy things online from them, sign up for their newsletter to get special coupons, etc. If you click on their logo on the side of my blog you will be directed to their site. I cannot wait to race my first triathlon of 2011 wearing their jersey! woo hoo! :)

A friend of mine recently said something to me that struck me pretty hard. We were talking about how so many people over-think decisions and they end up finding so many negative things about their idea, etc. and she calmly said "paralysis by analysis"...that's exactly what I do sometimes!! So my goal from here forward is to stop over thinking things and if I feel I want to do a certain race (or not) and work toward a certain goal, then I need to just DO it. There will always be good and bad days and days you question why you do something, but in the end you'll most likely be extremely happy you didn't give up on yourself when the going got tough.

Pic: Sorry no picture today..I'm not on my computer typing this :(

Quotes for today: "If you want to go somewhere you're never been before, you have to take a path you've never taken before....if you don't want the same results you've always gotten, quit doing the things you've always done."

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power." I LOVE THIS QUOTE SOOOOO MUCH!! It relates to so many aspects of life... :)