"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, 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