Please help us in our fight to help loved ones with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Please help us in our quest to help those afflicted with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Springtime in the Rockies

There is a tree right outside our window that we see all the time. It's just there, taunting us. We have watched calmly it as it lay dormant all winter. About a month or so ago, we noticed a tiny bit of green on the branches. Oh no! Then a couple weeks ago, those green spots turned into buds. NOOOOOOO! Now, those green buds have turned into full-on flowers. There's no mistaking it. Spring is here. Winnie the Pooh had the Honey Tree, Shel Silverstein had the Giving Tree. We have the "Oh crap. It's blooming. That means spring is here. That means only one more season until IM!" tree. To us, this tree has been like the hour glass the Wicked Witch of the West gave to Dorothy in her castle. Slowly ticking away, reminding us that while we thought we had all the time in the world, Aug. 3 will be here before we know it!

After several days of gorgeous spring time weather, we woke up Sunday morning (at the butt crack of dawn) to a nasty snow storm. You know, those spring snow storms that bring wind, sleet, snow, snain, just all-around nasty. It was Horsetooth Half Marathon day in Ft. Collins, and boy howdy, was it a different experience than the first time I did it two years ago! We loaded all our winter gear into the car and headed up to Ft. Collins, white-knuckle gripping it the entire trip (well, Freddy was driving and he loved it. I had to close my eyes a few times). When we got to Horsetooth Reservoir, the wind was howling, sleet was blowing sideways and it was just frigid. We both just kept cracking up that while normal people were hunkered down with some hot cocoa in their pj's, we were bundling up to go run in this crap for a couple hours.

Once we started, we had a great time! It was perfect running weather and the conditions made the course even prettier than the clear, hot day I had in 2012. Plus, the best part of those conditions is we were guaranteed not to see any snakes! In 2012, a rattlesnake decided he wanted to join in the fun and made his way onto the street while we were running. Luckily, I was too busy taking in the scenery to notice him-I just heard people around me commenting on the snake that joined the race. Some days it pays to gawk-had I seen it, I would have died. And that would have made for a bad day!
I stopped many times along the course to take pictures which slowed my time, but I didn't care. This was a training run and it was just so pretty, I wanted to take it all in.

I crossed the finish line within 30 seconds of my time from 2012, 2:22 (which was an average pace of 10:48/mi/mi. EXACTLY the pace Coach Marco had predicted for me. Kind of freaked me out). Freddy was waiting for me at the finish line with a time of 2:13-a new PR for him! I couldn't be more proud of him. That is a monster of a course and only the second half marathon he's ever done!

I got home and was so excited to download all the photos I had taken only to find out that NONE of them turned out. Not one! Then I was mad-had I known none of them would have turned out, my pace would have been way better. Alas, the photos below are all I've got for ya!
The view from our car. Yeah, it was THAT cold!!! But goodie, we get to climb that hill in front of us!

I was super excited about the pint glass at the end. I would have been more excited if a shirtless fireman gave it to me after he filled it with a margarita. But we can't always get what we want all the time. 

Freddy, on the other hand, was most un-happy with his lack of medal. I felt sorry for the volunteer who handed him an empty pint glass instead of a medal. 

Freddy and I at the finish. Weather was great until we stopped. We are freezing our tushies off!

We are coming off our biggest training week so far, topping out at just over 11 hours of training since last Sunday. My legs will tell you they have trained at least 20 hours more, but my mind says "get ready, this 'aint nothin!" We did two time trials this week: one in the pool followed by the bike the next day. I actually enjoy time trials. For me, they are more mental than physical. I'm used to running time trials, I've been doing these for years with my running group, Runners Edge. The pool and bike are way different though and while I feel these trials went much better than last time, I clearly have a long way to go!  This weekend, we are looking forward to much better weather for our ride and runs. I'm ready to pull out my warm-weather running duds!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Swimming Lungs, Bike Brain, & Runner's High

So here we are in April! And as one of my friends so kindly pointed out, less than 4 months to IM Boulder! Eeek!
Freddy & I during an awesome training run in Parker with our group, Runners Edge of the Rockies

Freddy and I have been ever so slowly ramping up our training. We are averaging a little over 8 hours per week of training and so far, so good! There have been days that have been tougher than others; days where we hit "snooze" on the alarm clock until it's too late to get our workout in in the morning; then curse ourselves that evening when we have to train; days where we look at a brick workout and think "for the love of God, we have to do what????", but all in all, we are very happy with our training and are really enjoying it!

Our swimming is coming along just fine. Neither of us are fast, but we are both very comfortable in the water and truly for an Ironman, I think that is 99% of the battle!  I had a nice treat when my running buddy Molly, who is training for her first Ironman 70.3,  texted me the other night saying "a little birdie told me you train at the Apex", "yes, I do!", I excitedly exclaimed. "Me too", she said. "Awesome! Meet me at the pool at 5 am tomorrow morning for a swim", I hesitantly responded, knowing the response would be the typical "Thanks but no thanks".....Molly surprised me by quickly replying with "Yeah! I'll see you then!" Well, Molly beat me to the Apex in the morning and we had a fun swim together! She even stuck around after and did my plyos with me! 

The biggest thing I am working on in the pool at the moment is speed. The toughest thing about speed is not having my swimming lungs quite yet. My body needs to trust that the air will come and I need to focus on calming my brain down and allowing my body to take over (common theme with me!). I can cruise along at a nice, easy pace for a long time. But increase the speed, and it gets harder to breathe, thus vastly changing my swimming form. Freddy and I can both see improvement from where we started but realize we still have a long way to go. We are really looking forward to getting into the open water-that will be the true test!

Training in the aero bars while cars pass me is
enough to have me begging for a marg!
I look like I know what I'm doing, right?
Of all three disciplines in IM, the bike freaks me out the most. I commonly refer to my condition as "bike brain".   Riding is such a different feeling than running, it takes me a good month of solid outdoor rides to get my bike brain engaged and ready.  After a long winter of only riding on my bike trainer, the weather was nice enough last week to take the ride outside! We have a pretty large group of friends doing IM Boulder, so we always have people to run and bike with, which is great.   Most of the people, however, are super fast and I, well, am not. I decided to meet up with a couple girl friends who are pretty evenly matched with me a half hour before the group started to get a head start on the "fasties". We had a great time riding in Boulder and got about 20 miles in before the peleton caught us! This was also the first time using my aero bars. The first 10 miles, I was a complete disaster. The sight of them through my periphery sent me into a panic. But, I knew I had to get used to them sooner or later.  So, like anything with me, I baby-stepped it. I would put one arm on the bar and keep the other near the brake. Then I would switch. After I felt ok with 
that, I would give myself little goals of putting both arms in the bars for a very short time, getting used to the feeling of my body positioning and how my bike responded. Mile by mile, I would extend my time in the aero position, literally talking myself through it. I'm sure the people who passed me thought I had escaped from the asylum. But I didn't care. It was working. I was becoming one with my aero bars! Am I totally comfortable in them? Not even close! But, I can see the benefit in them and 
the positioning is super comfortable so I'm getting there!
Dude! Where's my road????
Yes, I did include this little detour in my mileage for the day!
Jill, Dan, Teah, Freddy & I
at the Runnin' of the Green finish!
Running season in Denver officially kicks off (well, in my brain anyway) with my favorite 7K, the Runnin' of the Green through downtown. Freddy had the weekend off so joined me, my running group, my family, and 10,000 of our closest friends for the Irish jog. Freddy did great and his time was way better than mine. He's discovered that he's much faster than me on the bike and run. I am pretty sure, though, I've got him beat in the pool for now. Freddy is finding he really loves running and is pretty sure he's found his runner's high a time or two! Next weekend, Freddy and I will be heading north to Ft. Collins to do one of my favorite half-marathons, the Horsetooth Half. The last time I did this was two years ago, not long after my broken leg. It was a small come-back, if you will, so this time, I'm hoping to beat my time. That being said, I'm treating it as a training run with firemen, beer and a medal thrown in. Wish us luck!
Me and the CEO and President of my fan club, Jill
and my favorite girl, Teah at the Runnin' of the Green