You Have Me Swooning Over You

About three weeks ago I blogged about having a major break-up in my life.  It was tragic.  Devastating.  My heart was broken.

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I scoured my home for break-up mix tapes from the 80’s.  I couldn’t believe the love had drained out of my life so quickly.  I barely had time to place Band-Aids over my heart…ahem, my heels.  This break up was with my trusty running shoes.  When you run in the same shoes for years, there really is a little romance that goes on.  It’s a relationship.  You’re excited each morning (or evening) to lace up.  You know they will fit just perfect.  You know what they have carried you through, and where you plan to go in your future.  You look forward to the nice, new, clean, pair that arrives.  They are with you mile after mile.  Through sweat, tears, sprinklers, streams, trails, the heat of the road, track workouts and race after race.  They are your partner in crime, and your beloved, companion for your therapy sessions (long run.)

Unfortunately, this had to come to an end.

GREAT news!! I found an awesome new pair that I am loving!  Altra zero drop shoes.  Zero drop, meaning they do not have an elevated heel, allowing for a more natural foot strike.  They align posture and reduce initial impact by 3-5x.  One of my favorite features is the foot-shaped toe box.  I have these tiny, little, narrow, feet.  But when I run I like my toe to feel free, to wiggle and spread out.  Hubs says I have monkey toes….  Just because I can spread all ten toes, pick up things and practically write my name with my feet, doesn’t mean I have monkey toes.  I have no idea what he is talking about. images-3  That being said, I LOVE this wide toe box.  They are also gender specific.  I think all shoe manufacturers should adopt this feature.  Men’s and women’s feet are just as different as everything else.  The women’s have a narrower heel, longer arch, and specific metatarsal positioning.  And they come in sweet colors (which I adore) like raspberry, fuchsia and, lime.  Totally swooning over these!!

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I was so nervous to try a new shoe…but things happen.  I am in by no means knocking my old shoes.  They served me well for years.  I am just over-joyed that I found a new pair that I love.  No blisters, no pain, and really no transition time.  Although, I have been running in minimalist shoes for years, and if you haven’t, it will take you some time to get used to the Altras.

I feel like a kid…Do you remember when you were young, and you got new shoes and our Moms would say that the new shoes would make you run faster?  Maybe the shoes had lights, or sparkles, or lightening bolts…and they made you screaming fast!  That’s how I feel!!

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I am 6-weeks into marathon training and feeling great!  I haven’t had any issues with knees, IT’s, ankles or shins.  Queue the halleluiah choir.

I am also looking forward to start training for my 3rd Ironman.  I didn’t tell a lot of people before registering.  I was unsure about which event I would do for 2014, but when Boulder opened as a new 140.6, I could NOT resist!!  So Aug 3rd next year…Ironman Boulder it is!!  Makes my stomach flip-flop out of excitement and anxiety!!  That’s how it is for every race I sign up for.  Hoping to get some pointers on higher altitude racing.  Thankful we are not even near sea level up here in the mountains of northern Idaho…but we aren’t 5400 feet!!  Can you say, “breathing through a straw?”

Gonna be a great challenge!!

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I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

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I just came off of such and incredibly, inspiring, weekend.  A weekend of nervous energy, loads of laughter (LOADS) tired muscles, roadtrippin’, group hugs, high fives, some tears, (from both nerves and happiness), tired aching muscles, a little anxiety, great friends, amazing girl time, new friendships (Hi Jenny and Tomek) Swedish Fish, a Twilight Zone McDonalds stop, toilet sleeping* and Ironman camaraderie.

Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3. (This is not a race report)

A few weeks ago I had made the decision to withdraw from racing LS.  A decision that was hard, but I knew was in my best interest.  A few days after that, the decision was made that I would still attend, with friends and my training group, as support & cheerleader!   I had SUCH a great time!

From the fist 15 minutes of our car ride out of town, I knew this weekend would be amazing (hello Mini Vacation)  The energy of a race has a way of oozing onto you, even if you aren’t racing.  And of course a car of friends wrapped in laughter on a 4-hour road-trip is always Fab-ulous!!

We spent our first night in Issaquah, which is such a beautiful part of the Pacific NW (always so grateful that we get to LIVE here), at my friend’s sisters.  They were great hosts (ummm, hot tub under the stars and a little vodka who can complain?  Not this girl!) The next day we set out for a short drive into Lake Stevens, hit the expo, checked in and met other friends that were racing.

As the one not racing and just /observing it was funny to see my friends rituals of set up.  Clothing, shoes, helmets, bags, changes of clothes.  I observed, being sure to be very quiet as they worked.  They talked to themselves, changed things around, walked around the hotel room…. all this, while I sat in silence.  I felt like Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, watching…from afar.  Taking it all in, but being careful not to “startle anyone!”  They asked for advice on things, to which I carefully answered what I would do…but adding, “everyone is different.”  A strange breed us Triathletes are.  But then again…having something “off” can make or break a race.  All joking aside, they were great….I just know how it is when I am in race prep, and let them carry on, not getting into their way.

After the packing ritual….we hit dinner with our whole group.  Italian of course, and again the laughter and wine flowed easily.  We toasted everyone, toasted our coach, toasted to the hard work and dedication of this group of athletes.  Then…bed!

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We don’t have ANY fun!

Watching and waiting for friends to finish a race, especially a 70.3 distance is a test of patience and sometimes frustration.  Not knowing (on a huge course) where people are and trying to keep everyone tracked down is cRaZy!  Especially when you know so many racing.  Luckily, I had some great friends to keep me company throughout the day that had also made the drive over to support our BAM’s

For many of them, it was a first at the 70.3 distance.  They all trained hard and well during the past few months.  But as anyone knows on race morning…you forget all that you have put into training and your mind wanders to the “what if’s” and the “maybe I should’ve.”  They have ALL trained, but of course 2 minutes before jumping into a lake with 1500 other athletes for a 1.2-mile swim, you forget that.  So again, we spoke softly, but gave lots of hugs, smiles, “go get ’em’s” slaps on the butt, quiet whispers (R.T.B.) and sent them on their way.

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Lake Stevens 70.3

 

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Watching friends from my training group cross the finish line at a race is amazing!  It brings tears to my eyes, and a huge smile to my face.  It makes my heart happy to see people accomplishing their goals!  To see their families waiting in anticipation is priceless!  Their hard work and dedication paid off.  And as hard as they worked out there…the minute they cross that finish line it’s all worth it.

The SWEET success of a Finish Line

The SWEET success of a Finish Line

Great work BAM’s!  You ALL finished!  You ALL rocked!  Congratulations on your Ironman 70.3 finishes, Fishes!!  The big one’s next!!

 

PS:  IM Lake Stevens put on a phenomenal race.  It is a GORGEOUS venue to race at.  Great support, great seeing the Pro’s out (Congrats to Craig “Crowie” Alexander and Meredith Kessler on their wins) there, and perfect climate.  This 70.3 is definitely on my future race list.  No doubt!!

* I’ve discovered that this is what happens when you are so sleep deprived and you stop for a potty break.  It allows you a 2-minute nap.

The Break-Up

Summer has so far proved to be amazing…as usual. It’s my time of year. My season. It never disappoints. Well…OK, I retract that as sometimes living in the Pacific Northwest our summers are more of a quick blip on the calendar in August. I love the hot (sometimes but rarely humid) days. I love waking early, and getting in a run while the sun is rising. And some days like yesterday, absolutely killing it on a six-mile run in the blistering, heat of the afternoon. I love that feeling of sore, tired, muscles. Sweating so much you feel like you’ve had a complete detox or a good session in the sauna. Finishing off those miles wondering if your legs will give out on you altogether or if when you stop there will be a puke-explosion! Now….six-miles is not a lot to run mileage wise, but when your last mile is entirely uphill, it is 85 degrees, full sun, and you feel like you may collapse….that six-miles can feel like your twenty-sixth.

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That hill I speak of, some days it’s my best friend. It’s my “cool down” and I walk that 1-mile hill to my house. Some days it’s my worst enemy, as I run it and do repeats on it…either way, I live at the top, and what runs down, must run up! Yesterday I felt like calling the Hubs for a pick-up at the bottom. Luckily I didn’t have my phone, so it was “tackle this B*tch!” Glad I did. The first thing that came out of my mouth, all exasperated, out of breath, sweating like a dog, used up completely, when I got back to the house, and Hubs was sitting on the front porch, in the shade, was “WHY ON EARTH DO WE LIVE AT THE TOP OF A GIANT HILL!!!??” After I grabbed some water, stretched and cooled out…all I had to do was look around. Enough said.

Not Such a Bad View Coming Up Our Hill

Not Such a Bad View Coming Up Our Hill

I have officially started training for my Fall marathon. I am excited! I of course scoured through different training plans *see last weeks blog post* and felt pretty good with my decision. Annnnd…. have since changed my mind. Go figure! Thank goodness we are only 2 weeks in. So switching gears a bit, I decided to use the Hanson Method. Their book, Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path to Your Fastest Marathon, just made me laugh. And I thought, how apropos. I like the “renegade” part. Again…Go figure! Those who know me know that this word “renegade” alone would’ve sucked me in.

So I am starting this week (yesterday) 3 weeks into their plan. So far, so good, but it’s only been 2 days. It will be a completely different approach for me, as far as marathon training goes. My longest run will only be a 16-miler (which I will do 3 times during training) VS a 20 or 22-miler. They say they train you for the last 16 miles of the marathon and not the first 16. It’s a 6-day a week plan, that incorporates speed, strength and tempo workouts and trains your body to run on tired legs. From some of my Ultra friends, I hear this is a great approach. I will be putting in anywhere from 46-62 miles per week. The reviews are fantastic! So that’s settled….for good this time!

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This is What My First 8-weeks Will Look Like (I Started on Week 3)

This is What My First 8-weeks Will Look Like (I Started on Week 3)

 

On another note, I am sad to say, I am going to be breaking up with my running shoes. This crushes and breaks my heart. I do not understand (well I do) why manufacturers need to change-up their shoe’s design. I know as technology and science betters with time, they need to make a change…but OH MY GOSH…do I love my shoes. Unfortunately since they made a small change, my last 2 pairs have been a little lackluster. Including my newest pair. I feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I type, and am now wishing I had been better at hoarding these shoes. As in buying up 25 pairs while they were so great! I would’ve had shoes for a few years. So now I am left in a quandary, trying to figure out what to switch to. LUCKILY, I am in early training and have some time to get this worked out. The break-up will be hard, and I will go through a mourning process, possibly locking myself in my room and listening to old Journey or some Total Eclipse of the Hearts for a few days. But like any other break-up, I know something better will come along.

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I’d love to hear from you about training plans and shoes. Which plans have worked and which have not? Which running shoes have you had a love affair with? Have there been bad break-ups? How did you cope? And what was the “something better” that came along?? Was it hard saying Good-Bye?

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