Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - Banzo's Year in Review

Since I am a blogging machine on a jet-lagged tear tonight, what better time than the present to write my 2011 year in review entry. Well let me just say that 2011 was a good year. The end of 2010 was quite rough what with the death of my stepdad, some other personal events that crushed me emotionally, and generally a year I was excited to be done with. I can't be mad though, I learned so much about life, loss, and who I am. I feel so much stronger than I was a year ago. I remember in fact talking with Beth in my car when all that stuff was going down, saying 'you know Beth sometimes I just think the universe gives you that much more than you can handle, to prove you can do it'. And I did. For that I am very proud.

2011 has seen major life changes for me. I made a huge job change and moved across the country. In many ways I have made triathlon into a fun hobby instead of a second job. I am still obsessed but I have a lot more balance which I think is good. I'm not going pro (you can quote me on that), and I wanted to focus more on my career, which I have done to a good amount of success in my opinion. I think it's a good thing. Going into 2012 I have several career goals which is a new thing for me. They do not involve swimming, cycling, or running.

But even though I made a big change and started traveling 100%, I had a good year when it comes to triathlon. I set a new Half Ironman PR at Vineman. I made it onto the podium at all my races except New Orleans. And that hardly counted anyway since it was a duathlon and it was a stacked field with two of my best tri friends in the field! I somehow managed to make it onto the podium in my first Ironman which I still can hardly believe. I also qualified for Kona and didn't sign up. Well, live and learn.

This year (2012) should be interesting. I have a new coach, a new place to train, and many new challenges. But I think if I can get my nutrition solid, continue to make some time for training, and keep the balance I've worked hard to achieve, and do what Chad says, 2012 should be a good year. It might even be my best year yet!! Here's to sending positive energy into the universe.

Oh jet lag, you are strange - I'm back!

I am definitely feeling a bit on the loopy side right now. I woke up 'this morning' at 4:00 am Frankfurt time which is 10:00 pm last night New York time. What?! I am strangely not as exhausted as I expected but I do not feel 100% by any stretch. But it had been a while since I'd been to Europe (too long!) and I had a fabulous time. I need to get Tamra to send me a few pictures and I will post them. Since my phone didn't work in Germany, and I could not find internet there to save my life, I didn't carry my phone around with me and thus I didn't take pictures. Oops!!! 

This is what the running trails in Munich look like (I stole this picture from the internet). Running there is great.  There are trails like this for miles and miles. You can literally run 70 kilometers each way. Luckily I was only dumb enough to run 17 at the most.
I wondered if I would feel a special connection to Germany since by ancestry I am about 90% German. The answer is no because I mostly wandered around feeling like a typical American jackass who doesn't bother to learn the language before going on my vacation. I am now determined to learn German. It is a hard language. The words are long and there are many letters that don't seem to go together. For example to say excuse me, one must say this: Entschuldigen Sie. This is pronounced 'ent-shel-de-gung' I think. Try saying that five times fast.

I would highly recommend Munich and oddly it reminded me of Denver, I think because it is a similarly sized city, the elevation is well above sea level (not as high as Denver however, but enough to notice), and it is dry. Also the people there are sporty.

One cool sporty thing I did there is a pilgrimage to the Munich Olympic Park and Swim Hall. That place was amazing. It was a huge Olympic-sized pool that was used in the 1972 Olympics. What an amazing facility. However, surprisingly Germans do not self-sort into fast, medium, and slow lanes, and many of them love to do the breast stroke very slowly. Interesting! I always thought Germans were so orderly that they would be more organized when they go swimming. But it was a fun experience regardless. Tamra and I had a great time and although I am glad to be back, now that I like where I live, I had a great time and I look forward to going back to Europe, and back to Germany when I can speak the language. Perhaps by Challenge Roth 2013 if I can convince a few other nutters to do it :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snaps for the Holidays!!!

Man there is just no rest for the wicked, or the weary, or whatever it is that I am these days. I have been so busy!! Just running around all over New York, Houston, and everywhere else it seems.

I have been taking pictures though, and thinking about blogging!! New York is a special place during the holidays. Well, all the time, just different during the holidays I guess.

Fancy treats. This is called a Thomas Keller Oreo at Bouchon Bakery. I didn't try it, but look how pretty!!!

 Waterfall from a ride.
 Rockefeller Center - Big Tree!!!
 Proposal in Grand Central Station.
 Random Upper East Side snap... me trying to be artsy with my iPhone, haha.
 Christmas tree through the arch in Washington Square Park. Still one of my top three spots in New York.
Happy Holidays!!! More to come from Germany, I'm leaving tonight for a few days.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I get to live here?!

Well I have lived in Jersey for almost a month and the bloom is decidedly NOT off the rose. I freaking love it here!!! I seriously wander around in a daze sometimes and try to figure out whether or not it's real. But it is!! How cool. I have been having a great time going into the city, riding my bike (except for running over a rock in a weird way and crashing on Friday), running, and generally having a really good time. I am still traveling for work of course so that is harder now that I really like where I live, but I don't really mind Houston and I've been getting into a nice rhythm there.

Last weekend the weather was really nice so I rode to the Tappan Zee Bridge and back. The coolest part was going through a second state! Welcome to New York!!

The Tappan Zee was cool but riding under the George Washington is just awesome and I can hardly get used to it. Wow. Maybe that's why I crashed, I was distracted by the scenery! So pretty right?!

This weekend it has been chilly so I rode my trainer today but it wasn't too bad. I watched a lot of TV and the intervals in my ride kept me distracted. I also met some nice new people on my local tri team when we did a little Kona viewing party. I didn't really see much of the Kona broadcast, but the purpose of those things is to socialize anyway. It has been a good weekend! In other news Brian dropped my TV today, so I got a fancy new one. Neat!!! I have had a super ghetto TV forever, I just do not care about electronics. But it is so nice. I think it will be great for trainer riding. Which frankly although I don't mind it too much, it is annoying, so every little improvement helps. For some reason no matter how long I ride I have, the last ten minutes just make me want to poke my eyeballs out. But once I'm done I always feel glad. I still owe my parents pictures of the apartment now that it's all set up, so I will do that soon, I promise!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do I know how to have a good time or what?!

So I don't know if I have mentioned this but I have a new coach for this year - Coach Chad!! I am excited. Although I have had awesome success with MAO, I am ready for a change this year. I have known Chad for a long time and we seem to be doing well so far. He has me doing all these crazy tests to establish my zones or something and I had a bike test today. The weather was decent so I took the ferry over to the city and rode around Central Park. It was WAY fun. I only thought I was going to get run over a few times. The park is closed to traffic except for a small corner from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, which is great, but that corner with the cars gets crazy because there are cabs, which are obviously nuts, as well as horse-drawn carriages, which are just stupid.

The park is so pretty right now!!!!

In general it was not bad at all and in spite of the cars I actually found it way less annoying than Wash Park in Denver, because it is much farther to complete a loop - 6 miles or so. Also it is hilly so it's not just an easy, flat, boring ride. And there is SO much to look at!! Also the bike test kept things interesting as I beat the crap out of myself. Neat!!

Here is my bike waiting to return to Jersey on the ferry!!

The ferry is really expensive but it is quite enjoyable and quick to ride, so I think I would take it again. The location is great for riding because it drops you off on the Hudson River path which apparently goes all the way around the city. I will do that ride one of these days but it seems like more of a leisure ride because the path gets really crowded and you often have to stop. On Sunday I have another ride and the weather should be decent so I want to try to ride up to the 9W (the main ride people from this area seem to like). I can't wait!!! It's fun exploring a new area on two wheels.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First East Coast Rides and Turkey Trot Report!

Well I have been a busy lady! I thought I would have time to blog more in Jersey, not so much. But that is because I have been doing lots of fun things and also walking so much that I am pretty sure I have shin splints. What can I say, lots of walking happening here!

So it has been so much fun. I took the train (neat!! Yes I am a dork) out to Glen Ridge, New Jersey for the Ashenfelter 8k on Thursday. I met some very nice people there who have taken me under their wings for training purposes. I had to take kind of an early train so I took a few snaps.

 Cute little town!! I love the East Coast. Everything is so different.
The 8k itself was lots of fun and I feel that I ran pretty well. The first mile was really crowded but after that things opened up and I turned it up a little bit. Per my Garmin I averaged 6:50 pace, and considering that my first mile was 7:36 I am happy! I got a mug for being in the top 100 females. What a nice touch. The weather was perfect so that was a bonus. I swear I am getting spoiled by all the great weather here.
After a great Thanksgiving dinner up in Westchester, we spent the night in Norwalk and I rode from there (Norwalk is in Connecticut. Generally most days I end up in at least two states and a few days three!). My bike was excited to explore more of Connecticut, and I was excited to ride my tri bike for the first time since the Ironman. No I did not remove it from its box before moving. I am lazy.
Riding in Connecticut was great. However I did not do the route I planned because none of the road names from the internet were the same as the real roads. That is what happens when you ride on really, really old roads! It was fun though. Very different from Colorado - all rollers, no long climbs. I found the beach too. That was awesome.
It was a beautiful day. I rode for around two hours just kind of putzing around and having fun. Then I drove through two states and attempted to get a New Jersey driver's license. I was not successful but I will get 'em next time!
Today I went for a fun ride with New Jersey people. They were great and we had a very nice ride. Oddly enough we rode exactly by a town I did some work in about five years ago. That was weird! The weather was amazing. We rode on rollers. There were lots of cars. I took pictures! First this is Dan's behind. I saw a lot of this on the ride! He is a beast.
 You can see that it is pretty but all the leaves are pretty much gone. I cannot wait to do this ride in the spring. CANNOT wait!!!! I love trees. Here is a decent self-portrait I did while riding. Clearly my time off the bike has actually improved my photography skills.
I do not think New Jersey people are used to me yet. They are all like 'you smile a lot!!!' Ha, yes I do, people, yes I do. I just still can't believe I got to move across the country. It is so great. I am very lucky!!! After the ride today I still wanted to swim but walking everywhere takes forever so I took my road bike on an adventure! We went on the PATH train to Manhattan and then to the gym. Here is my bike on Chelsea Pier.
I only almost got run over by one cab. Not bad actually considering. I think everyone on the train thought I was bonkers but I was one of three people on the train with a bike so I didn't feel that bad. Carrying a bicycle over turnstiles and up and down stairs is good exercise! I have decided that once my mountain bike is sold I am buying a single speed bike. I really need a bike that is good for commuting longer distances than my cruiser, that is not a fancy carbon road bike that I worry will be stolen. Therefore I think a single speed would be ideal.

In other news I am just loving it here. It is so much fun. I seriously can't believe I get to do it. Tomorrow I am going into the city and doing my long run up to and around Central Park, then I am swimming, and putzing around until Brian comes into the city and then we will go to Chinatown and do fun things. I can't wait!! I will try to take pictures.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm here!!!

Well I have made it to my new home. I have no furniture except for my bed, but the rest of it should be arriving in half an hour. And that means my moving project is almost complete and I have time to blog again!! Moving is very time consuming. Especially cross-country moving. I moved in Denver a bunch but this was much more logistically challenging. Holy cats. Especially since very late in the game I decided to sell my car. Which was a great decision, but that definitely added a few challenges!

So here I am!! I am so excited. It is great. Very different, and it is weird living somewhere and not knowing anyone in my town, but I am excited to meet people! And luckily I have friends in the tri-state area. And my awesome friend Liz introduced me to some tri people so I have people to ride with this weekend which is very exciting. I haven't ridden my tri bike since the Ironman - once I realized I was moving I just  never unpacked it!

My family has requested photos so here are some photos of my neighborhood. And a few from my going away celebrations. I think it is so cool. I am very glad I ended up in Hoboken - it's a 10 minute train ride to Manhattan but here it is nice and quiet and calm. But there are still fun restaurants and things to do. I'm going for my first Hoboken run later today once I have unpacked a little.

View of the city from where I stayed Sunday night (I used points to stay at the W in Hoboken. If you want to visit me and don't want to sleep on the couch I highly recommend it).

My dad cooking on Saturday. They decided to do Thanksgiving since my brother and I will both be gone!
 Me and my brother at Noodles, my last meal in Denver. That was fitting since I am obsessed with Noodles and we have none here! Just for the record I think it would do really well in Hoboken.
 View of the city and the Hoboken waterfront. I think that's a mini-golf course. I will find out more when I run today.

One of many parks in Hoboken...

 Cool view of the city last night when I got back. I got these cool snaps because I got kind of lost when I was leaving the train station. What can I say, being underground is confusing.
 Another park with fantastic views that I found this morning when I walked to get coffee.
Thanks for taking a look! I will hopefully post somewhat more often now, and hopefully I'll get some good ride pictures this weekend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I love New York!!!!

I will post more when my life finally settles down. But here is a cool picture of Central Park in the fall. And one from the race too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Phone blogging!!

Excuse the typos and auto-correct issues. Hopefully it'll create something funny. So I'm riding at the gym and blogging. I am so productive!!!

I've decided moving across the country is kind of like racing. You do all the big work (major workouts, major planning) weeks out. Then you wait, get nervous, get excited, and have these annoying little tasks that remind me of the taper and its workouts. I'm under three weeks to the big move now. In fact I'm moving the day of IM Arizona so that's funny. Luckily most everything is done now since I'm going to New York this weekend to watch the marathon and cheer on a good friend! I'm super excited because I've never been there for the marathon before!! And on Monday I'm going to see my new apartment which is great!!! I can't wait, this week is going by slowly.

I am training somewhat although my season doesn't start until 12/1. I will be very out of shape on the bike, it's hard to ride when you go fun places every weekend! I think that's good though, last year I think I trained too much during the off-season. This year there's no danger of that! I rode with my cycling team Sunday and almost died! I am in decent running shape though. I'm running a thanksgiving race in Jersey so hopefully I won't embarrass myself.

That is about all I can stand to type on my phone so I think I'll sign off. Happy training!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The major life changes and other plans post!!!

So I have had a lot going on lately. Hence why I have not been blogging much! I thought in the off-season I would blog more. But not so much. Well what can you do, but try to improve! So here is what's been keeping me busy these days - surprise surprise, it involves plotting and planning, which are my two loves outside of triathlon!
  1. Well after three years I have decided that I will not be applying to re-join the Mark Allen Online team. It has been amazing to be on the team and I have been so lucky to be a part of it, but after three years I am ready for some new challenges and strategies to go super fast.
  2. I have done a lot of 2012 race planning. I am starting off the season at Galveston 70.3 which will be fun and super convenient (I'm in Houston for work through April). 
  3. I have also applied for the REV3 team. We shall see if I am accepted but if I am, that will dictate a lot of the rest of the season because I would get really good deals on REV3 races!
  4. And in the major life changes department, I am moving!! I am so, so, so excited!!!! I have wanted to move back to the East Coast for YEARS. At least five but probably more like seven. And now I finally have a job where I can. So I am doing it!! It's all approved and I have an apartment in Hoboken which is just outside of Manhattan. I have also sublet my apartment in Denver. The only thing I still need to do is book movers. I honestly can't believe how easy it's been to make it happen. I am scared a little bit because it's always scary to move to a new place, but mostly I just cannot wait for the challenge, the experiences, and being near an ocean again!
  5. So that was all the major stuff. I think I may have mentioned this before but I am also signed up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. What can I say, I blame Chad and Beth. It is going to be so much fun! 
I have to say that after the Ironman I do feel more freedom in a weird way. It's like I feel like well, if I could finish an Ironman, I should stop setting limits in other areas in life. Because if I can do that, I can probably do most things I really want to do. It is quite liberating! So maybe think about it a little bit. What have you always wanted to do, and what's stopping you?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yeah I suck at blogging in the offseason, but I have pictures!

So I guess that makes up for my blogging slacking, right? I've been so busy having fun that I don't have time to blog. And I've been working a decent amount so there you have it.

Anyway offseason has been fun! I've been riding a little when the weather's nice. I saw a lot of this...

It may have been somewhat ill-advised only a few weeks after the Ironman but the foliage was so pretty and the weather was awesome. What can I say, ill-advised is my middle name sometimes!

I have also had more time to hang out with Bodie. She is looking very cute in this picture, sitting at lunch like a good dog.

I am in Columbus right now, I ran the half marathon here this morning and have been enjoying a fun weekend with my awesome friend Cathy. The race was not that special - I ran a 1:36 which is fine but nothing amazing. I was wondering how my legs would feel five weeks after the Ironman and they were okay. I would say I felt the best about 10 miles in. That is endurance training for you.

Columbus is much nicer than I frankly expected. They have a very nice river.
And the area around where we finished (I took this picture when they were almost done cleaning it all up) was fun. It was right by all the arenas.

They also have this great place called the North Market. It has so many fun little food stands.

The food in Columbus is great. We have been laying fairly low but yesterday I walked to Ohio State (I refuse to say 'The Ohio State University' because that is just stupid) and went swimming. Wow, those facilities are amazing, and the stadium is huge. I've never seen anything like it.

It's been a fun weekend. Now I am gearing up to head back to Houston and then to a spectathlon for my friend Tamra whom I am coaching this year. Can't wait to see how she does! I love Austin so I am pretty excited about that. And Tamra's pretty much my size so I am going to use her bike and go for a ride in the Texas hill country. I cannot wait for that!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I've Been Doing Since Ironman!!

Boy I have hardly even thought about blogging since I posted my last IMMOO entry. Whoopsies, I swear I like having a blog to talk about training and races and stuff but that is not all I do! So one thing I did after the race was over is hang out with Bodie for a weekend. She is so cute and I love having her even when I am training a bunch, but I love taking her for long walks and relaxing outside on patios with her too. Last weekend I took her to get a bath because she was a mangy mutt. This is a post-bath shot. Looking very cute!!!

That was pretty fun. I have also been getting a good amount of yoga in which feels great to my post-Ironman body. I was tight almost everywhere, and yoga has been really enjoyable and made my body feel almost like I didn't do some crazy race two weeks ago. I've been reading and drinking coffee and exploring Houston also which is fun. I can't say I'd move to Houston but I'm really enjoying my time there.

I have also been socializing with people I hadn't seen in a while - traveling for work and training all the time doesn't leave a ton of time for social events, but I am really enjoying catching up on that now.

And this morning I dusted the cobwebs off my mountain bike (and cleaned its filthy chain) and went for a ride with Jason. Let me just say that I may have gone faster in the Ironman but he is a MUCH better mountain biker than I am. He is also extremely patient and nice to put up with me whining and complaining and being a general mountain biking weenie. Here is a cool picture from our ride!
After the ride I also took my brother to his first yoga class ever. I think he liked it, we'll see how he feels tomorrow.

In general I've been exercising for around an hour a day - some days a little more, some days less. On Monday I even ellipticalled. It was awesome. I am still on the fence about Austin 70.3 but right now I'm leaning towards not racing and calling it a season. It's been a good one, why not end on a high note!

So that's what I've been doing in the offseason. Not going to lie, I could get used to this. But then I start thinking about racing next year and I'm pretty excited about that too!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Moo Snaps!!!

Well I bought the package of photos from the race because I hate my money but some of them are really good so I figured I'd do a picture post. Enjoy!!!

Swim Start....

The super-annoying but cool-looking Helioplex. No picnic running up this bad boy!!!

Heading out of town on the bike.

More bike, we rode through a ton of farms.

Running. This is early on when I was not quite the hot mess I turned into by the end!

And finishing. I was pretty happy!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IM MOO - The Race Report!!!!

Well here I am sitting in my hotel room coloring my hair, because I have time to do that again now that the Ironman is over (it has been on my to-do list for months, you really do not want to see how many gray hairs I had busting out all over my head), and I figured I should go ahead and write my Ironman Wisconsin race report. I think I am the most excited for this race report of any race report I have ever written. Grab a snack, this could be a long one.

So here is how the morning went down. I woke up at 4:30 after sleeping very little. Probably five hours, who knows. I hadn't really allowed myself to think about the swim start before I went to bed Saturday night so that was the first time I started to get anxious about it. I also visualized the whole race because I like to do that. I shoved a bagel down my throat even though I didn't really have a taste for anything, and we left the hotel at 5:00 am for the start. We did all the usual stuff - putting bottles on our bikes, checking our transition bags to make sure we had everything, making sure our stomachs were in good shape if you know what I mean, etc. Then we found our spectators and got a few last minute snaps taken. Here is me and my friend Jason who did the whole weekend with me and calmed me down SO MUCH. Thank you Jason, I highly recommend doing your first Ironman with a Buddhist who has done three before. He is a very calming influence. 

Then we went down to the water. I kind of couldn't breathe for a little while thinking about the swim start. So I just went as far left as I could, figuring I'd swim farther but be less likely to drown due to clubbing from my competitors or a panic attack. It was pretty mellow out there and I chatted with a few others trying to validate my swim lineup decision. My brother took this picture of the start... off we go!!!

I must say I was SHOCKED by the swim. It was so mellow!! The first turn buoy was crowded but nothing terrible at all. I only got hit in the head once, and it was nothing. I even did bilateral breathing the whole swim which I've been doing in the pool for almost a year but had never been able to do in a race due to nerves, contact, swimming all over the place, whatever. I felt like I was swimming well - strong, long strokes. The water felt a tiny bit choppy when we were going down the rectangle on the way out on both loops but it wasn't bad. The temperature was perfect - didn't feel cold but I also didn't feel like I was overheating. By the end of the second loop I would say I was more bored than tired.

I got out of the water and looked at the clock to find that my swim was 1:11. If I had to predict my swim time I would have said 1:10 so I was pretty happy. Frankly swimming is always my nemesis but I've worked really hard this summer and I do feel like I had a good swim.

Then we ran up the stupid, stupid helioplex. That thing killed my nagging Soleus injury, so I kind of worried that my run would be really painful, but I got over it and focused on having a fast T1. My time was right around 6:00 which for Wisconsin is about as fast as you can expect since you have to run really far. Right off the bat my heart rate was in the 170s so I knew I needed to remedy that but I also knew it was mostly nerves so I focused on keeping calm, taking deep breaths, and not letting adrenaline destroy my run later by making me go too hard on the bike. In a few minutes I was in the low 160s so I stopped freaking out about it.

So the bike. We drove the course on Friday so I kind of knew what to expect but it's always different when you actually ride a bike course. I will say it was slightly harder than I expected mostly due to the fairly strong wind out of the Southwest. It got stronger as the day wore on so I think slower people were impacted more, but it was certainly annoying! The bike course is 16 miles out, two loops of  40 miles, and 16 miles back into town. On the way out there are a few rollers and that was where the headwind was the worst (and in the first 10 or so miles of the loops). Then on the way back into town we could cruise. There are three hills late in the loops which are rather annoying to ride but positively nuts with spectators so I had fun with them. Then the rest of the course I would describe as rolling. People say it's technical but I have to say I disagree with them. A few of the downhills require a bit of braking especially when the course is crowded but otherwise you can get some good speed going.

The thing I'd say surprised me the most about the bike was how quiet it was. I would pass people and say 'good job' and it's like everyone's too worried about the rest of the race to talk. It was kind of boring until I met a nice police officer from Minneapolis and we chatted for a minute. I also saw my friend Alicia whom I met at Quassy and she was super friendly! For most of the bike I just focused on keeping a good cadence and a positive mental outlook. I thought 5:30 was in reach through the first loop but when the headwind hit on the second and I was getting my heart rate into the high 150s going 15-16 MPH that dream soon faded. However in my analysis of the results there were very few bike splits that were significantly faster than mine so I feel okay about it! I also took the bike 10 miles at a time, which seemed to help mentally. I tried to keep my nutrition going strong as well in spite of the fact that Peform tastes like salty fruit punch, it is gross. I think I did a reasonable job. My nutrition plan was all EFS Drink, EFS Liquid Shot, and then drink and gel on the course, which I thought would get boring or make me feel hungry but actually it was fine. I ended the bike with a 5:50 split - not as fast as I would have liked but with the wind I'm really happy with it.

Coming off the bike I was feeling good after a few miles with that sweet tailwind, but I was a little nervous about the run. Having run a full marathon before may not be an advantage because you know how much it can hurt. But I just got into T2, had some poor sweet volunteer help me change into compression shorts and socks (oh that poor woman, I must have apologized 50 times), and headed out to run. I kind of had to pee (finally, I started being more aggressive with the liquids on the bike when I still didn't for a very long time), but I decided to wait until the urge was more pronounced. I was also very curious as to what place I was in because I just didn't see very many girls in my age group out on the bike. In an Ironman it is somewhat disconcerting because volunteers take your bike so you can't see how many bikes are back in Transition!

So I started running and felt okay. I was running 8:30 pace and kept telling myself to slow down but my body wasn't really responding to my brain's cues anymore (it was probably pissed at me, ha). I did make a bathroom stop at mile 2 which felt good. It was pretty warm, probably in the mid-80s and on the humid side.

Here is a picture my brother took of me on the run course. Note the ultra-sweet hot pink compression socks! I'm the very short person running if you can't tell.

I had planned to see my spectators at miles 6.5, 13, 20, and then of course 26, so I was really looking forward to that. It turns out they were at T2 also but I didn't see them. They were AMAZING. I cannot say how grateful I am for them. Every time I saw them it gave me such an emotional high. When I saw them at mile 6.5 they told me I was in third off the bike. I knew no one from my age group had passed me in the first few miles of the run so I was feeling like okay, if I can just hang on, I can get on the podium. That was a crazy feeling. I thought I'd be delighted with top 10. Between miles 7 and 13 I ran with this nice girl named Erin, we didn't talk much but just ran along together which for some reason makes everything feel easier. At the halfway point I saw my spectators again and my brother ran along with me for a while and we just talked a little bit. I told him I might slow down and it was really hard but I really wanted to finish. So then I kept going. At this point I was walking every aid station and every hill that was more than a gentle grade, but my miles were still under 10:00 so I didn't feel that bad about it. By mile 20 when I saw them again I felt pretty awful, I'm not going to lie. I was tired, my feet hurt, and my right IT band was starting to make its presence known. I was really worried about this because in the only marathon I've ever run, by mile 22 that was excruciating. I actually think walking the aid stations really helped me keep my IT band under control, that is good to know!

By this time I was also bargaining with myself and telling myself all kinds of false promises so I could finish. Like okay, just run to mile 20 and you can walk the rest. Then I would get to mile 20 and say oh just run to the next aid station, walking 6.2 miles will take forever. I just did that until the end.  It was so hard! But somehow my mile splits even then, when I don't know how I made myself start running after every break, were only around 10:15-10:30. It was then that I knew I would finish so I started telling every volunteer or spectator I saw that I was going to finish. What a dork. But I was so excited!! The crazy thing was that I still didn't see anyone else from my age group so I was hopeful (but not convinced!!) that I was still in third. When I got to around mile 25 the crowds really gave me a boost and knowing I would see my family and friends soon, and get to stop soon, allowed me to pick up my pace just a little. And then once I got to the top of the last hill I really picked it up. I don't really know how but I did see another girl in front of me and I thought maybe I could catch her! Competitive to the last 5 seconds of an 11 hour race.

I crossed the line and I believe my official time was 11:22:06. Hearing the announcer say 'Barb Blakley, from Denver, Colorado, you are an IRONMAN!!!!!' was pretty awesome and it is a moment in my life I will never forget. This is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done but I'm so glad I did it.

I was very happy after the race!!!

I had abstained from dessert and really missed Rice Krispie Treats the week before the race so my awesome spectator crew brought one for me after the finish. It took a while for me to be able to enjoy it but once I did, I really did.

We waited for Jason to finish (he busted out a sweet PR in 12:29), I talked to a few people and facebooked and texted and realized I really got third in my age group and qualified for Kona, and when I realized that I finally burst into tears. I couldn't believe it. In my first Ironman I never dreamed I would qualify for the World Championships. But somehow I did. I am so proud of myself.

Then we all went out for dinner and we could not resist ordering a Wisconsin delicacy - fried cheese curds. They are disgusting and delicious all at once.

It was such a great weekend and a wonderful experience that I will never forget. Sometimes over this summer when I felt like all I did was train, I wondered if it would be worth it. When I crossed the finish line I have to say that it was. I know I couldn't have done it without my awesome crew - Jason, who listened to me obsess about training and trash talked with me and made me laugh every day; my mom, who is so proud of me it is adorable and helped me in so many little and big ways; my brother Scott who rode with me even when I was tired and hot and cranky and yelled at him; Tamra, who inspires me every day, and who convinced me to go out and have fun when I was too tired to think I should do it but needed it the most. And everyone else who has helped me and been there for me even though you weren't out on the course, THANK YOU. I am an Ironman!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I blog a lot when I'm bored

Well it's all done but the shooting match now! I am hanging out relaxing in my hotel room, with just about everything done except mixing bottles and getting my bag for tomorrow morning ready. I can't believe it is finally here! I am having a good time in Madison so far. I have a great support system for which I am very lucky. It includes my mom, my brother, and several of my best friends.

Here is a picture of me, my mom, and my brother at dinner last night. They drove all the way here from Denver, because they are awesome! It is why they may look a little tired in this snap, they had just arrived!!

We are such a charming albeit insane bunch. We definitely have a good time!!

Also last night my brother needed an adult beverage after a very long drive. Even the beer in Wisconsin has a cow theme.

That would be a Spotted Cow beer, with a graphic of a cow jumping over the state of Wisconsin. Aw, Wisconsin. We have been having a fine time and having some good meals already, and the whole crew is so accommodating and mellow, which is nice for me since I am Type A and I like to run the show.

So now the plan is rest, relax, eat Noodles at 5:00, mix bottles, finish last minute packing, and go to bed so I will be as bright-eyed as possible at 4:30 tomorrow morning! And the plan for tomorrow is to have fun! And eat a big cheeseburger after.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ready to Rock!!!

Well I made it to Madison in spite of my crazy travel schedule. Hooray!!! It is adorable here. Very 
Midwestern. The airport is TINY. So cute. I think there are ten gates. It reminds me of the airport in Portland, Maine. They seem to be excited about the race, there is a welcome sign when you head down the escalator to baggage claim.

The town looks like your average college town. Very much like Lawrence, Kansas, if I had to choose the most similar. Except there is a huge lake in the middle of it. The good news is that there are at least THREE Noodles & Company's here!!! I love Noodles and with where I've been working lately (Northern California and Houston), I am in Noodles withdrawal. But here it is prime Noodles country. I think we might have it the night before the race.

So I am feeling pretty good. Hard to say, I always feel weird during tapers. I am not one of those people who feels great, I generally just feel like my body doesn't know what to do. But I am definitely getting a lot of rest which is good!!

This week I did go for a run in Houston for the first time. I had heard it was miserably hot but it was pretty nice this week (I guess there was a cold front so it was only 70 in the morning, and in the 90s during the day). Uh huh. They have this great park there called Memorial Park. It is huge. There is a 3 mile dirt trail around it. They also have tennis courts, baseball diamonds, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a golf course, and a driving range. Wow!!! Even at 6:30 in the morning it was packed there. Here is a picture of the trail.

I can't wait to go for nice leisurely walks there next week, and to run there again once I start running after the Ironman. There are also TONS of good restaurants in Houston so I am excited to explore them.

I think I have told most people this but this week I had an epiphany about the Ironman. I am as most people who know me know, Type A+++. I am also really, really competitive. And I like to WIN and go FAST. So for this Ironman I have felt a lot of pressure to go out and kill it. But you know that is silly. It is my first one. Some people do go out and break 11:00 in their first Ironmans. But I don't think I will and frankly I just want to have fun, enjoy the experience, soak it all in, LEARN, and be ready to crush my next one. So that is the plan. If you are tracking me and are surprised that I am not going very fast, that is why. Also, frankly it is a crazy thing to do, so I think if I finish, it will be a win for me. So that is the plan folks! Track me if you'd like on Ironman Live, Bib 425, F30-34. I will post a race report next week!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The last deposits are in the bank...

Nothing more I can do from here but rest, not stress about my wacky travel situation, visualize, and stay positive. My first Ironman is a week away. I feel cautiously optimistic about it. I have a great network of friends and family supporting me, I have ridden my bike a million miles this summer, and I am ready for this challenge.

Tapers in Mark Allen Online world are kind of weird. I would not call them particularly mellow. So I still had to ride for 2:30 this morning. A new challenge for this time of year was that it was downright COLD when I started! What?!

Yes that says 48 degrees. RUDE. Luckily I am lazy so I never took my arm and knee warmers out of my Ironman Trunk all summer. Then again it was pleasant not to get all sweaty this morning!

After a burly tempo run yesterday I didn't want to climb much. So I rode up to Lyons and did one of these loops we call Fruit Loops. They call them that because you ride through fruit orchards I think, although I don't know that I've ever seen a fruit tree. Anyway they're pretty, especially in the spring and the fall, but today the river looked really pretty!

I was a happy camper. See, happy camper!!!

It was a nice ride. It has frankly been a great weekend. The extra time I've had has been quite a pleasant change. I have spent a good amount of time with friends including a few ice baths and compression boot sessions with Cathy. We probably annoy the crap out of everyone else at the club because we are so chatty, but we have a great time. I also got some great advice and presents from Katie over brunch. I love brunch, and hanging out with Katie, so it was super fun. Now I am just creating a tornado in my apartment with my ridiculous packing for two weeks away with an Ironman in the middle. Well, if there's one thing I love, it's a good planning challenge, so I am going to stop procrastinating and finish!