Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Note To Self

Running gets easier, or at least more comfortable, after I do it for a while. Namely about 20-30 minutes.

Case in point: today on my lunch break I had a run workout planned in which I would warm up for 10-15 minutes, then do three cruise intervals (run for 8 min at tempo pace, then recover with a slow jog for 3 min). I started out at a nice slow jog, and all felt good. For about 5 minutes.... then I wanted to stop. Nothing hurt. I wasn't tired. But for some reason my body and mind both said, "this is silly. can we just walk somewhere instead of trying to run there?"

But I kept on jogging, and then after ten minutes picked it up to tempo pace for my first interval. It sucked. Not only was I sucking wind, but my whole body felt just out-of-sync and gangly, like I'd never run before. It wasn't smooth. It wasn't comfortable. And again, nothing was WRONG, but it just wasn't RIGHT. I wanted to stop.

And you know, the first 10-30 minutes of my runs are often like this. ESPECIALLY in a triathlon. In the two that I've done now, I really haven't felt good running until the last mile or less, but then things come around and it's okay. And on my run today, the second interval felt better, and by the third it was feeling pretty darn good to crank along at a quickened pace. I even went for a slightly longer-than-prescribed cool-down jog, just because it felt good (and I was digging listening to the live music playing at the park along the river where I was running).

I'm not sure why it takes me so long to get into the running groove, even when I run on a regular basis. But it does. I guess I'm just made to be a distance runner?!

Regardless of the reason, I'll be trying to remember this fact when I do the Olympic distance triathlon in a few weeks. Instead of the 5k/3.1 mile run that I've done in the last two triathlons, this one will be a 10k/6.2 mile run. I know the first few miles will be tough. But I'll be working hard to remind myself that IT WILL GET BETTER. I know that I have the cardio strength and endurance to keep going. I'll just have to have the mental strength to push myself through the first few miles of awkward discomfort on the run, working towards that slightly smoother feeling that comes once my legs and core get used to the feel of running.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wacky Weather

Yesterday's high was 100. Ugh. Too hot for nearly anything (except swimming!)

Today I had planned to do a 50 min run with cruise intervals, then an hour-long bike ride tomorrow. When temps are so high, I have to run in the early morning. I hate doing any speed work in the mornings. So I really wasn't looking forward to this morning.

But then last night I watched the news and saw the weather forecast. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be a mere 74. And 67 the next day!

So I decided to flip-flop my workouts. I'll do my bike at lunch time today, and do my run tomorrow at noon when it's much cooler (I have evening meetings both tonight and tomorrow, so I'm taking 2-hour lunch breaks to work out).

Now that's what I call adaptive management:)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting My A@! Handed to Me

I thought I had a great idea. Since I just competed yesterday, and running and biking might be a little rough, I thought a swim workout would be good.

So maybe a little easy recovery swim would've been nice. But did I do that? Noooo. I had the bright idea to try a Master's swim class.

The day after a race.

In a 50m pool full of turbo-fasties.

Yeah, good thinking there, C.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Race Report: Whitefish Triathlon

I raced in the Whitefish Sprint Triathlon today. It was fantastic. I went fast, had fun, didn't crash. Cool. Then I came home and started cooking dinner and proceeded to chop the end of my thumb nearly off (it looked like the eggplant I was chopping, I guess). So I now have a giant wad of maxi pad and 1st aid tape wrapped around my left thumb. (Goes to show you can be a triathlete and still be a clutz!)

A gorgeous morning. Beautiful lakeside setting (see picture below of the end of the swim course). Cool set-up. Fun taking pictures with others from the Triathlon Flathead group. Most are turbo-fasties. Then there are about 5 of us that are allowed to sport the colors to represent the club's openness to back-of-the-packers ;) Thanks, Ted, for designing and ordering the suits and let us newbies join the club!

The Swim (1/2 mile or 880 yards):

I got suited up, pulled on my cap and goggles, and jumped in. Crap. Goggles leak. Screwed around with goggles for a few minutes, to no avail. So I made a last-minute sprint back to the transition area to get my backup pair. Made it back to the lake just in time to start. Winded. 130-some people all started swiming at once. Turbulence. But I pushed on through. I got a little caught up in the hey-we're-racing melee, but soon found my rhythm and churned towards the first buoy.

I had a great line going into the turn and passed several folks who were wadded up next to the buoy. Passed Teresa in the turn (short dark-haired gal who's one of my best training buddies), and since she and I usually swim a pretty similar pace, it was good to see her there and know I was on-track with how fast I needed to be going. On the long back stretch I had a race/clobber-fest going on with some girl. She'd breast stroke for a while and I'd pass her, then she'd switch to freestyle and pass me. Back and forth every minute or so. We bumped into/kicked each other several times, and I kept trying to lose her, but just couldn't get away! Finally we rounded the last turn and headed in for the beach, and one of us finally pulled away from the other-- not sure who. I finished nice and strong, perhaps a little faster than last time.

Smooth. Didn't biff running up the stairs. Slid my wetsuit right off thanks to the help of Pam. Noticed that Roni was putting on her second shoe as I was getting my suit off. Way to go on the swim, Roni, I thought. But then "Durn, she'll probably beat me. Maybe I'll catch her on the run if her knee is hurting." (Being competitive with your friends is kinda fun!) Washed the sand off my feet, popped on shoes, glasses, helmet, all as planned. Took off up the stairs to start the bike leg.

The Bike (20K or 12.4 mi):

I started off in my smallest ring but quickly worked up. First few miles were flat and fast. Sped through a 90 degree turn past the cops who were working the traffic light. Giggled at speeding by cops ;) Reminded myself that my intention was to give 'er hell on the bike and really see what I could do. So I did. And I had a blast. The course was hilly, but the hills were just right-- as soon as I'd really start wishing the hill would end, it would! Then I'd zip down the other side, thrashing through my super-cool gears. McDreamy was a champ-- didn't let me down, didn't drop the chain, didn't ask for brakes. And that's what helped me pass Roni a mile or so before the turn-around. A big turn was up ahead, and I'd had her in my sights for the last few miles. She braked hard going around the turn, and after a moment's hesitation ("does she know something I don't?!), I just kicked it. I'd driven the course the day before and knew what this turn looked like, and figured I could hold my speed through it. So I pedaled hard, felt the G's, and kept cranking as I flew past and hollered "Go Roniiiii!" It was fun to pass someone, although I felt a little bad passing my friend! But it's all friendly competition, and I knew that I had to put some quick distance between us, or she'd catch me. So I kept gearing up, pushing hard, huffing a good sigh now and then. I soon reached the turn-around and was a bit bummed that I didn't get to keep going on this awesome windy mountain lake road. But, the way back proved to be just as fun as the way out. I had a great game of cat-and-mouse going on with a guy in a blue jersey. I'd pass him on the uphills (all the hill work I've been doing was greatly beneficial!), then he'd pass me on the downhills or flats. Back and forth we went, for the entire 12.4 miles. I finally passed him on the last uphill stretch about a mile before the end. As I made the turn back towards transition, I saw the overall race winner coming in for the end of the run. I beat him back to the transition area by 30 seconds or so! Another notch in my finisher's belt: I finished the bike before the first person finished the whole thing!!! Anyhow, I was bummed the bike was over because I'd had so much fun with it.

I quickly popped McDreamy back into the rack, grabbed my visor and a sip of water, took a deep breath, then rubber-legged it out of transition.

The Run:
Ugh. First thing: a hill. Then a small flat/slight downhill. Then a friggin steep 200 yard hill. I remember thinking "this is just rude. who sticks hills right in the beginning of a run, anyway?!" Yes, I was whining. As I experienced in my last tri, my legs were whooped. But unlike the last time, I was at least expecting it. I walked a few steps up the hill so as not to de-wind myself too much, then took off again. Guy in the blue jersey that I'd bike raced with passed me (easy to do when you're >6 feet tall!) and gave me an encouraging thumbs-up. My legs began to come around more and more, and I appreciated the heck out of the two aid stations that offered ice-cold water to dump on my head. I definitely wasn't running fast, but I was running. Another training pal who injured her neck recently and couldn't race was working the run turn-around spot. "Looking good, Carly," she said, "you're going strong." Thanks, Krista! I felt like a weakling, but took your encouraging words and let them boost me along.

I high-fived Roni and Teresa and Kristy as I passed them and shouted whoo-hoos, and knew that if I stayed as I was, I'd have them all beat. Yay. About 2 miles in, I was really feeling more up for running. My legs were a little tired, sure, but were just starting to feel like this running thing wasn't all that bad an idea. I lifted my chest a bit to get more air, and tried to stay positive in my thinking. Less than 1/2 mile from the end, I heard footsteps fast approaching, and then a gal passed me sporting a 32 on her right calf. Crap! Passed by someone in my age group. I tried to pick it up and chase her, but just didn't have any more speed in me. So I hollered "go get 'em, way to go!" and watched as she pulled away from me. Not seconds later the same thing happened-- but this gal was 30. Who are these freak women who can pick it up so strong at the end?! Oh well. Those were the only two that passed me, besides blue shirt guy, the whole run. (Oh, and there were two people who were running it as part of a relay team, but they don't count, since they were fresh!)

As I neared the finish, I saw Ted putting his stuff in his car (he, of course, had been done for about half an hour!). "Aren't you going to cheer for me?!" I teased as I passed him. He did. As did lots of other strangers who were lining the last few hundred yards. I love spectators who cheer! I finished with a little micro-kick thanks to the cheers, and didn't puke at the finish. Good things. I did huff and puff for a minute or so, and then remembered to run up and grab my camera to take pictures of the other gals finishing. Roni was just coming in as I got back down to the finish, and Teresa was in hot pursuit. We all walked it off together, grabbed water, posed for a quick picture in which we were instructed to show off our numbers and "look tough," and then we headed back to the lake to splash around and cool down. (pictured left-to-right, Roni, me, Teresa)

It was while chillin out in the lake and re-hashing how things went that Roni once again brought up the Garden City Triathlon, an Olympic-distance race in Frenchtown a few weeks from now. I've kinda secretly been considering this race all year, but not wanting to commit to it in case I got sucked into firefighting or other things this summer. I haven't specifically trained for that long of a race, but know that I could at least finish it, albeit slow. Well, in my post-race elation, I let her help me convince myself that it's worth giving it a shot, so I decided to do so. More on that later...

The post-race party was good, with burgers and such and cold water and beer, prize drawings (I won a new bike helmet; although it doesn't clash with McDreamy like my pink helmet does, and I briefly considered keeping it just for fashion's sake, I ultimately decided to trade it in at the store it came from for a t-shirt and a few new pairs of running socks, which I actually need as some of mine are getting pretty non-cushiony). It was fun to chill out and talk about the ups and downs of the race with a bunch of folks. Triathletes are in general just really good people and really interesting folks. I guess you have to be, in order to be nuts enough to want to put yourself through such an ordeal yet organized and Type-A enough to figure out how to balance all the workouts, gear, and real life. I'm glad to be a part.

Okay, it's beer-thirty. My thumb actually has held up better than I thought. Good. Before I go, here are the times:

Total: 1:36:10 (8:35 faster than the one in June!!!)

Swim: 18:34 (avg. 2:10 min/100 yards... about what I expected)
Bike: 46:20 (time includes both transitions? or just one? waiting for official splits; avg. of at least 16.1 mph, including transition times)
Run: 31:16 (avg. 10:05 min/mi)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tevas On My Drops (a tale of alternative transportation)

It's 7am, I'm riding past fields of irrigated alfalfa. An occasional sprinkler splashes out into the road and I swerve to avoid it, looking first to make sure no one is behind me. It's a cool 48 degrees, the sky is still sleepy with early morning clouds.

A great morning to be out for a bike ride with McDreamy. But this is no regular ride training ride. No, this time I have a khaki skirt on over top of my bike shorts. My hair is freshly washed and brushed under my helmet. And my Teva sandals are hanging by velcro from my drops (the curved part of my handlebars).

I'm on my way to work. But today instead of hopping in my car and driving the 16 miles from home to my office, I'm exploring options for alternative transportation.

Missoula's public transit system is called the Mountain Line, and the farthest-reaching stop is about 3 miles east of my house. So McDreamy and I are on our way to the bus stop. I have plans to ride McDreamy home this afternoon (I typically do a 16 mile ride after work several days a week, so might as well kill two birds with one stone and make driving home and working out one and the same event).

The bus pulls up to the stop at 7:10, I load McDreamy on the front rack, swipe my ride-for-free pass that I get from the County, and take a seat on a cushioned bench in the front. The ride takes about 35 minutes, or about 15 minutes longer than it would take for me to drive on my own. But I watch the scenery go by, and enjoy people-watching as more folks get on closer to town.

At 7:45 the bus pulls into the central station, I unload McDreamy, and we walk across the street to my office. I fluff up my helmet hair, slip off my bike shorts, swap out my sneakers for the sandals, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down to start work by 8:00.

I did a little number-crunching and realized that if I can bike/bus to work two days a week, I'll save about $8 in fuel. Over the course of a year, that's >$400 saved. Five days a week aren't really realistic-- I often have night meetings or need to do grocery shopping or socializing in town that require a car-- but two to three days a week is a reasonable goal. With the savings I could buy:
a bike computer
bike shoes and clip pedals
a portable radio so I can listen to NPR on the bus
lots of americanos
etc, etc

So while $400 in savings isn't that much, given my current wish-list, there are other benefits, too:
1. I save wear-and-tear on my car
2. I get a little bit of wake-me-up exercise first thing in the morning
3. I save fossil fuels and thus do my little part to make less of a footprint
4. I get to explore new adventures in wardrobing:)

Friday, August 8, 2008

LAST Weekend's Adventure

Some pictures from last Sunday's adventure... I hiked Great Northern, an 8700' peak just south of Glacier National Park. The ~4 mile hike takes off from Hungry Horse Dam (3500'), making for a 5200' elevation change over ~4 miles.

Tabitha, an acquaintance from grad school whom I hadn't seen in several years, invited me to join her and her friend on this hike. I read the description and immediately said "sure, I'll do it!" I was sure that I was in good enough shape to handle all that climbing. (little did I think, however, that it would be the decending that would lick me)

The friend bailed out the night before, but Tab and I agreed to continue with our plans to meet at 7am to start hiking. It was a gorgeous morning-- cool enough that a light fleece felt good to start off, and still and quiet, with blue skies dotted with my favorite white ploofy clouds. I lbeing in the woods early in the morning! Good thing, because the glorified goat trail we set off hiking was not at all friendly. Had it been super hot, or raining hard, I would've easily bagged the trip. But there was no excuse not to walk. My lungs were working well, my legs felt strong, the day was gorgeous, and I was psyched to catch up with Tabitha, since we hadn't seen each other in several years.

Our trail shot up. Straight up. No switchbacks. No gradual gains. Nope, it was tougher than any StairMaster workout I've tried! We took a nice steady pace, though, and just continued to put one foot in front of the other for about an hour, until we popped out of the trees and got our first glimpse of how much elevation we'd gained. A few minutes later and we got our first good view of Great Northern. Holy cow, that's a big hunk of rock!!!

After the first mile and a half or so, the trail seemed to mellow out a little bit as we started following a rolling ridgeline that led to the base of the behemouth's treeless face. But we were still hiking up, continuing to feel the burn in our calves and lungs, but realizing that the views were worth every bit of work.

After another few miles we finally left the treeline behind and began a trek up the rugged ridge and across shale-y sidehills. All along the trail were piles of mountain goat poo, and clumps of rubbed-off hair hung in several of the thigh-high branches of trees. A golden eagle circled right at eye level. This was definitely the high country! Stanton Glacier hung below to our left, and a steep rocky face dropped off to the right. At times the trail was no more than a few feet wide. For the most part the footing was good, save for a few tricky places that made you slightly question your sanity.
At last we made it to the top, where 2 other pairs of hikers were already enjoying the view. We chatted with them for a bit, trying to identify the peaks of Glacier Park, then ate some lunch and took pictures. As has been my experiences hiking most any peak, the view at the top is gorgeous and you'd love to stay all day, but it's always chilly up that high, so hanging out for long is never feasible. So we started our descent, picking our way back down the rocky path we'd come up.
All was well until the last mile and a half or so-- the steepest part of the trail. My legs were getting tired. All that downhill was putting a hurtin' on my quads and knees, and I had to stop a few times because my legs were quivering so bad (luckily there were abundant ripe huckleberries along the trail, so rest breaks also turned into mini-snack breaks). We finally reached the car, and walked around a few minutes playing with the new sensation of walking on level ground. Weird. After a few minutes of yoga, we made a side-trip to the Packer's Roost for a beer before parting ways.
It was a stellar day-- great mountain, terrific company, perfect weather. If only there'd been a chair-lift to get me back down off that darn hill! As it turned out, my legs were insanely sore for about three days, then just reasonably sore for another two. So I didn't get any running in last week, and my biking was pretty lame, too. I did do a few good swims, and danced a bunch at a wedding on Thursday. But I don't regret having to take the few days off of training because of doing the hike. The trek gave me the opportunity to put things into perspective and to realize that I don't run so that I can do races. No, the
running is so that I feel good and so that when someone asks, hey, do you want to go hike X mountain, or ski Y trail, or paddle Z River, I can confidently say sure, you betcha, without having doubts of whether or not I'm in good enough shape to go along. And if doing such expeditions make me sore and take away a few days of training, oh well. I'd gladly trade a chance at climbing mountains to running around neighborhoods, if time and circumstances allowed. The running races and triathlons are a good way to get/stay in shape in a quick and convenient manner, but they're not the most important ends to the means.

Monday, August 4, 2008

You Know You're Half-Nuts When...

... you think of an 8-hour office day as your recovery period between workouts.

Today's Schedule:
5:30 am= 1/2 mile swim in Foy's Lake (air temp= 46 F, water temp= ? much warmer, sunrise= 6:17 am)

4:30 pm= recovery spin + upper body weight training

in between= 8 hours of sitting down... ahhh

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Week In Review

Exercise= none :( (unless you count those bicep curls i did to get the beer from the table to my face)
Food= okay, save for the several pints of beer
Sleep= ~6 hours

Exercise= none. again.
Food= terrible... 2 bagels, pasta salad, hamburger, etc... way huge on the calories today, especially carbs
Sleep= ~5 hours

Exercise= 25 min swim in the pool
Food= okay, within the calories for the day
Sleep= ~5 hours

Exercise= biked ~30 min to the lake, swam ~20 min (had lots of goggle issues, so was actually in the water longer), then biked another ~30 min
Food= pretty good, not a big deficit but definitely not going over
Sleep= ~7 hours

Exercise= 1 hr Power Pump cardio/weight class in morning (am sore! today, especially in pecs and hams); 25 min run (10 min tempo pace) in evening
Food= good, lots of veggies, within calorie range i was shooting for
Sleep= 2 hr nap in afternoon then 9 hrs at night!!!

Exercise= Brick workout-- 6 mile bike, 1.5 mile run, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run
Food= great so far... though I'm getting hungry so best go home and eat something healthy very soon before I get super hungry and head for something not-so-good
Sleep= don't know yet...

So, after a rough start to the week, the rest of the week has been getting much better in terms of overall health (food, exercise, sleep, stress levels). Funny how when it rains, it pours. The busier and more stressed I am, the less sleep I get, the crappier I eat, the less I workout...

The next several weeks will be tough, with lots of travel and transitions. I'll be relying on my blog-readers to keep me accountable and keep me honest.

But for tomorrow, I'll definitely get some calorie burn in on this hike. Yippee! Big mountains. Hard hiking. 3 girls on a mission. I'll get pictures up asap.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Appease The Readers With a Back-dated Race Report

Oi, this has been a super busy week, what with starting a new job while trying to finish another, doing a little extra socializing, and still trying to get in some workouts. Sleep has been scarse. Blogging has been non-existent. Sorry.

I was digging thru old files and such on my computer, trying to organize and clean out things so that the next person in my job can take over somewhat smoothly, and I came across this email that I wrote back in November '07 after my first Half Marathon. Since it was written before I published my blog, I thought I'd stick it on here for posterity's sake.

I'll try to write a post this weekend. But just looking ahead, I can promise you very few posts over the next few weeks. But I'll be back....

(Race was on Nov 9, 2007 in Manteo, NC)

  • A few stats, thoughts, memories, etc:
    Race day was gorgeous—a bit chilly starting off, as the wind was brisk and the air temp was around 50. Once we started running, though, we warmed up to a nice temperature, not too hot, not too cold. The sun was bright on the Sound by the time we got there. The wind was fairly stiff, but it was at our tails a good portion of the time. However, around miles 8-11 we were running side-ways to the wind, and running straight into it for the last 2 miles… felt like we were going nowhere!!!
  • I ran the entire race with my friend Robyn, who’s been one of my bestest buds since 7th grade; she’s a turbo-triathloning whiz these days, and has completed several halfs and a few full marathons over the last five years since she started running. It was great to run with someone who I knew would have no problems finishing, and who could definitely keep me company along the way. It was also a great chance to spend some alone-time with her and talk about boys, babies, bodies, jobs, yoga, and more.
  • Our total race time was 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 9 seconds
  • There were 2176 finishers of the Half. I placed 1315th among them, and 664th out of 1314 women. It was amazing to see so many people running at the same time!!! (By the way, the winning male finished in 1:02:32 and the winning female finished in 1:13:53. Holy crap! Most of the elite runners were from Kenya, including the winners from last year and this year).
  • The spectators along the way were great. Folks had music blasting from houses and vehicles at various spots. Lots of folks were holding posters with encouraging messages, my favorite of which was one about a mile from the finish that said “Unleash your inner Kenyan!”
  • We kicked ass in the second half, passing nearly 175 runners (many on the big hill—aka a bridge over the Albemarle Sound). Our average pace for the first 6.9 miles was 11:16 min/mile, and for the remaining miles was 10:33 min/mi (yes, we sped up quite a bit in the second part!), for an average pace of 10:56 minutes per mile over the 13.1 miles. I was shooting for around 11 min/mi, so, right on. Could I have sustained the 10:33 the whole time? Probably. Next time…
  • I felt great and had a blast from Mile 0 to 11.2 or so. Then my body revolted. It thought “enough of this nonsense!” and communicated its thoughts to me by sending an excruciating pain into my abdomen along the bottom of my right ribcage. Now, I’ve had a few side cramps before, but never one that made me wonder if my appendix was about to rupture! All systems were screaming “stop! Just walk! Bend over and clutch your stomach!”… but I didn’t heed. Instead, I grunted an occasional f-word, focused my eyes straight ahead, and ran. Robyn piped in with some excellent advice, “Remember your yoga.” So I concentrated on letting each inhale go to the point of pain, then pick it up and send it out on the exhale. Within a few minutes, the pain subdued, and Robyn noted “You’re almost there… I can hear the finish line!” I learned that a half-marathon is not just a 13 mile race, it’s a 13.1 mile race—and that 0.1 mile makes a difference! It was the longest .1 mile I’ve ever run, but I ran it. I finished the line in true fashion (i.e. I headed for the grass, gagging and spitting and wondering if I was going to show the crowd my lunch… no, I didn’t!)
  • My dad, his wife Cathy, my brother Trav, and Jim all met us at the Finish, where they snapped a few pictures and gave us congrats. It was the first race any of them had ever spectated, so they all seemed dazed and amazed at all the runners
  • Post-race we wandered around taking off our timing chips, grabbing Gatorade and bananas, and getting our dry bags with warm clothes. It was a bit chilly at the finish, what with the wind, but nothing a dry sports bra didn’t help. Then we stumbled into a little cart selling cups of clam chowder, and Robyn and I rushed for a bowl. I must say, that was the most amazing clam chowder I’ve ever had. Fresh from the sea, right beside the sea, after running 13 POINT ONE miles along an island in the sea. Mmmm, it hit the spot
  • The eating pretty much continued non-stop from there. We left the race area and headed back towards our beach house, stopping at Sam and Omie’s, a local restaurant, for lunch. I dined on steamed clams and coleslaw. Then we went back to our beachside bungalow, where I spent the afternoon taking the dog for a stroll on the beach and sticking my sore toes in the cold Atlantic, then joining Robyn and Jim for a soak in the hot tub, where we drank margaritas from coffee mugs. We then returned to Sam and Omie’s for dinner, since lunch was so great. This time I had broiled shrimp and scallops with more coleslaw, and to my delight the side dish was Fried Okra!!! Who could ask for a better meal? I washed it all down with a glass of Blue Moon Belgian ale, then returned to the house for an evening of board games.
  • Just a little more on the rest of the week: Robyn had to return to her world on Monday, while the rest of us traveled south down the islands to Ocaracoke, stopping to see lighthouses, fishing boats, bars, etc. along the way. We returned to the beach house after dark, and cooked a steamer bucket of red potatoes, corn on the cob, and fresh shrimp, spiced up with Old Bay and beer. Tuesday we went touring around downtown Manteo, went to the Aquarium, and then Trav, Jim, and I went out for all-you-can-eat crab legs and shrimp for our mid-day meal. Those two guys ate non-stop for over an hour an a half! (I obviously am not the endurance athlete that they are, seeing as how I dropped out of the race after a little less than an hour!) Then we spent the afternoon walking it off on the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Wednesday morning I had coffee and read my book while sitting in the sun on the “crow’s nest” atop the beach house, where I watched several dolphins swimming in the calm sea. Then we headed back to Raleigh to catch our plane, but made a quick stop at Smithfield’s for some authentic eastern NC BBQ. Nothing better.
  • So here I am, back in chilly MT, a good 3 pounds heavier than I was before I left. Ha! It was a great time—good to see family and friends, good to accomplish the goal I’ve been working towards for 6 months or so now, good to chill out and have no agenda for a few days, and good to see the coast
  • What’s next? A few new goals are in the making:
    o Learning to swim better (I want to try to swim at least 2 days a week this winter, working on getting more comfortable with it and getting good form).
    o Losing the pounds I gained on vacation, plus a handful more. Should be a good challenge what with the holidays approaching
    o Maintaining running shape and then training for the Snow Joke half-marathon in Seeley Lake in February
    o Perhaps skiing some (25K) or all (50K) of the OSCR (pronounced “Oscar”)—the Ovando-Seeley Cross-country Race—in late January
  • Anyone interested in joining me on any of the next adventures? Let me know!
  • Finally, thanks to all of you who gave me words of encouragement, ran with me, sent me care packages (Wendy, you rock!), and generally supported me in my training for this race. I’m especially grateful to Jim; although he sometimes questions my sanity when setting such goals, he supports me fully, helps plan our weekends around my workout schedule, makes me pancakes after long runs, and gives me late-night pep-talks before big scary races. Thanks, babe.