Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I get a physical every year ... and so should you

I'm a middle-aged mom and every once in a while I just can't resist getting up on my box and saying, "hey you should do this!"

I'm healthy. I'm 41 years old and I'm healthy. But every year I get a physical. I just had my physical Friday.

adding to the chaos of my life this car was in the body shop for 2 weeks after it was skewered by a forklift. Not related to my physical at all but still a crazy story. all better now as you can see.
My doctor has a new team member and because I'm healthy I get the new kid but my doctor will still review all my results. She must have asked me about 15 times why I was there ... did I have any concerns. I finally asked her whether I was the only adult to get a physical and she admitted it wasn't all that common. One of the nurses was in the room when I asked this and she chuckled and said that I was a good patient who followed directions. I guess that's not the norm either.

I'll admit that one reason I do this is because I am out there racing endurance events and it's good to know my body is in good shape. But that's not the primary reason I do it.
from my daughter's birthday party. 11 year olds singing karaoke. adorable.

My father died of heart disease and for better or worse I was around during the last say 7 years while he was getting treatments and surgeries and so forth. I learned 2 major things during that time that I take with me always.

First, the decisions you make in your 20s and 30s will dramatically effect your medical options in your 60s and 70s. My father stopped smoking around 1980 his surgical options when he had a bypass surgery more than 20 years later were very limited from the damage done to his veins by smoking. While we can't do anything about the way we've already lived our life we can make better decisions from this day forward.
The final cake from the endless birthday celebrations of October and November. Dairy Queen ice cream cake.

Next, it's really good to have a relationship with your doctor and for them to know what you are like when you are healthy. That way when you get sick they have a comparison to make and a basis to recommend what treatments you can handle. Every person is different and figuring out what's going on when you're sick is a very complicated process. If there is somebody who knows your baseline that can be helpful in the process of diagnosing what's going on. 

I'm healthy and my doctor and his office know that. They know me very well. They know my hobbies and they know my family history. When I collapsed last year after making a poor decision to run a triathlon while I had the flu - I was out of town. I was in the emergency room in another city. When I came home I was able to call in and tell them what happened and they helped me recover and get back to form.

In this off season I tried zumba. With my daughter behind me in the jean shorts (which she did classify as work out clothes). It was a fundraiser to benefit the UM CARD center. Portia Lange the instructor is amazing. I still lack any kind of dance coordination but it was fun.
Like I said above. I'm 41. I actually remember when my parents both turned 40. I remember each of them got reading glasses for the first time. I have been able to avoid this by getting lasik about 8 years ago. My parents also for a 40th birthday present both started high-blood pressure medication. At 40 they were both pretty overweight and inactive. I remembered this about them this morning and I was happy that with my 41st physical exam or well checkup I do not have that.

This is the first school project that I have almost done completely for my kid. This was ridiculous. Even after I downloaded directions from google and pbs it still took me about 5 hours. And I'm not kidding it doesn't work all that well so she'll probably get a D. We're at peace with it. Hopefully there will be some extra credit we can do.
So, take care of yourself. If you don't have a doctor maybe look for one. If you haven't had a well checkup in a few years - go get one. 

Me on the bike this past weekend. I actually was dropped by my group. So all that iron fitness is gone. I have to admit that the little paunch around my belly is probably from all the cake and not just the jersey being unflattering. Yikes. Back to work soon.
In other news specific to training. I am sort of off track. Just sort of. I have a pain in my right leg that doesn't hurt while running, walking or riding my bike but sort of niggles me other times. Also family stuff has been keeping me majorly busy so I've been eating too much, drinking too much and treating myself too much. It's okay. Let's call this the off season. I'm adjusting my goals for the marathon accordingly and all will be okay.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The word of the last few weeks is "overcommitted"

I'm not even sure if overcommitted is an actual word.

But it should be.

There is one week a year that is always very busy in my house.

As a family we have gotten better at handling it but it's a madhouse no matter what.

That week is the last week of October. This year that week multiplied itself into a few weeks. 

October 26th - off to grandma and grandpas house to celebrate the birthdays with bbq and ice cream cake.

October 27th - my daughter's actual birthday - and swim Halloween party plus a cub scout meeting. I always make my kids homemade cakes for their birthday so that's what I did while they were in school.Oh and I ran to the lego store for a giant lego set which was her toy present. She's growing up but she still wants a toy for her birthday.

October 28th not her birthday but we had to take a giant cookie to gymnastics anyway.

October 29th - my birthday. I celebrated by eating lunch at school with my son and playing games and reading books with him. Plus later stone crabs and a giant chocolate cake.

October 30th - just lots of leftover cake.

October 31st - Halloween. Fun all day. Plus costumes and candy and way too much wine.

November 1st -- this runner did not get up and run her 17 miles. Nope. Didn't. I did actually get up and make coffee and then decided I was in no shape to run and went back to bed. Bad runner.

My husband took my daughter and a friend to see Cinderella the show and on the way back they were speared by a forklift while driving. I know this sounds too bizarre to be real but it's what actually happened. Nobody was hurt. Traffic on US-1 was ridiculous so he took a local frontage road that goes in front of a hardware/lumber store (shell lumber). As they went by the store a forklift ran into the car and speared the front and took out the right front tire. So that added a little extra chaos to our day. Luckily we were home when he called. We were heading out to the bookstore because we just read my son's homework worksheet which said at the top, "read a book about a hispanic american" which we hadn't done and didn't have. Oops. But instead, I took the other car to get them all and I noticed that this car seriously needed service. All the scary looking service lights were on which got my attention. My favorite part was calling to tell my daughter's friend's parents what happened ... not.

Oh and then my husband took my son to the haunted house and to get the aforementioned book on a hispanic american. My instructions were to find the shortest book possible. Which turned out to be Roberto Clemente.  My daughter and I stayed home. It was a long day for my husband. 

November 2nd -- my son and husband spent the day with the cub scouts at the football game. Seriously 9:45 - 6:30. My daughter and I finished her science project. There were only 2 sets of tears so that was a success. And then at 12 we went to her swim meet. Where she did very well, thank you for asking. Then we went to dinner and then quickly to Macy's to get pants she needs for school this week. Apparently Macy's closes at 7 which we didn't know and let me tell you they should really make an announcement because it scared the pee out of me when the lights went out while we were in the dressing room. Luckily not all of the lights but still. Very weird. We were able to get the pants but after we checked out we couldn't get back into the mall and had to walk around the outside to get to the car. So we got home at about 7:15 and the boys were already in bed. By 8 the whole house was sleeping. It was daylight savings but still we were all exhausted from the week and weekend.

At this point of the busy week we had exactly zero food in the house. So the next morning I fed the kids something and scraped together a bare minimum lunch with my one goal of going to the grocery store. But instead ... remember the car being speared by the forklift ... I spent the morning with my husband getting a rental car which took slightly less than forever. I was a little grumpy about the whole thing because after all "I" didn't get the car speared by a forklift. Then my husband's car went off to the shop where it needed to be seen because all of the scary service lights were on and it was frightening. Turns out he had basically no front brakes left ... those are good to have so I'm glad the scary lights were on. Although I don't know if my husband would have every actually had the car serviced. And then it was time to pick up the kids and there was no trip to the grocery store made. Proof that I have a very creative mind was shown when I managed to make a dinner out of the nothing in the refrigerator.

And then on November 4th I finally got to go to the grocery store. Ahhhhhh. Who knew that all it took to make me happy was ... produce.

Then we immediately had house guests and some out of town travel because my husband 's father was celebrating his 80th birthday. Which is HUGE and I'm thrilled to celebrate it with them. But those celebrations turned into a week. A fun week but still I'm ready for some downtime.

In order to spend the weekend with them I did my 20 mile run on Friday. So that's the longest solo run I've ever done. 

Our houseguest left today. In fact I just got a text he landed at his home airport. Now it's time to catch up. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marathon Monday

I ran the Miami Halloween half marathon on Saturday with some friends which was a good time.
I'm in the tutu.

We have been suffering through a tropical depression for about a week. A tropical depression translates to rain ... constant insufferable rain and sometimes wind. Friday was a mess. What I wanted to do was nap all day but halfway through the afternoon I headed to South Beach to get my packet. Pickup took all of 30 seconds but the drive there and back was almost endless.

I also picked up a new handheld bottle for my hydration since I tossed mine in the Rome marathon and I likewise tossed my amphipod fuel belt in the marathon of Ironman Chattanooga. It's a bad habit I seem to have made tossing things that annoy me at the end of a marathon. But it feels awesome at the time. Very cathartic. This thing "insert offending item" annoys me and fliiing it's gone.

Some people always run in costume. Not me. Not ever. But this is obviously a costume theme run. Some people are better at costumes than others. I'm not very good at it but I did pick up a tutu and a bow tie for the occasion. That was enough. Some costumes were very clever and it was definitely entertaining. I was passed by a runner in a full bacon suit. That was humiliating. I thought to myself, you can't be passed by the bacon ... and yet he was much faster than me so there it was.
proof of my one and possibly only tutu run. The bow tie as you can see was almost immediately flung sideways.

We started at Parrot Jungle and finished at Nikki Beach on South Beach. The course was fine. A good chunk of it was over the wood boardwalk and at one point we had to descend a few steps which was pretty dumb but I made it through then at the end we climbed the hill in Lummus Park and that was painful but overall a good course. It was a tad shy of the ful 13.1 miles at least .1 or .2. But that was okay with me. I was happy with my new PR of 1:52:36. I'll take it. That was good enough to put me 12th in my age group. And there were well over 100 in my age group.

But the thing I'm happiest about is that my average pace was 8:47 overall. Initially I was excited because I thought that my coveted BQ pace is 8:45. However after a teeny tiny bit of research my bq pace is more like 8:35. Not quite as close. Admittedly that's over a marathon not a half marathon and I didn't quite hit that pace but it feels close ... it feels very close.

Back to my bad habit. It was a cool day 75 at the start 82 at the finish probably. I didn't look it up that's a guess. A little warm for me to run fast. I was wearing a hat and my head was really warm I was tempted to toss my hat but a cooler head prevailed. Pun intended. I thought to myself that I had to be able to hold onto all the things I started with for a half marathon otherwise I was being ridiculous.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Catching up ... the ridiculously mundane side of Ironman recovery

Piles and overstuffed drawers.
I'm a piler my husband is a stuffer. So after any big project our counters are covered with piles of things that need to be addressed and the drawers are all full of just general garbage.

Training for an Ironman takes time. Time that otherwise might be used to do stuff like sort piles and complete paperwork.

In my house - housekeeping means keeping the house up and running not cleaning. I'm not a good cleaner when it gets much past loading the dishwasher.

In order to make time for training a lot of little things don't get done. You do the most pressing things and then the others just get a bit delayed. Just like any big project in life. Some you hear about all the time when you read about Ironman training like dinners out with friends, date night with your spouse, mowing the grass is a common one and so on. But as I was going through all the things I'm catching up on I thought I'd share with you if only so that if it's also happening to you you don't feel alone.

Non-workout clothes - This one is in better shape than it was after I did IM France because I've signed up for Stitchfix. But while I do a great job of buying new workout clothes during training my other clothes are all in sad shape. Sad sad shape.

Heart of Darkness - Nope not the Conrad book. It really is dark in here. We have at least one light bulb out in every room. Not to mention all of the outdoor bulbs were completely out and also we had two fixtures that need an electricians attention. My husband actually changes the light bulbs so what I fell behind on here was actually just nagging him to do it, buying the bulbs and calling the electrician.

Underwear -- hee hee don't be offended by the intimacy here. I spend practically all my time in workout apparel while I'm training and built in undies are always there. While I did update my sports bras as needed during training I realized that it was way overdue to update all my delicates in my drawer. When I mentioned it to my daughter I discovered that so were my kids. So new undies, bras and socks all around.

Dry cleaning - While I live in workout wear my husband does not. So who knows when the last time I took the dry cleaning in. It was a huge amount of shirts. He's going to feel like he's got a new wardrobe when it all comes back tomorrow.

School paperwork - I just finished the beginning of the year school paperwork. I hate paperwork. I'll blame the Ironman training but seriously how can there be so many stupid little things to complete for school?

New glasses and cookie sheets and pans
I cook almost all that we eat in my house. We have well water and it's hard on our glassware and stuff. So we had one nonstick pan that was basically destroyed - the cookie sheets had gotten so rusted in the corners that it was ridiculous and the glassware was white and opaque with mineral deposits. These I finally just replaced.

Doctors appointments Before Ironman France I had to have a medical certificate so I got a physical. I learned that actually 3 weeks before a big race you might have irregular lab results. So I was happy to not do that again. But it's time for the whole run of appointments, eye doctor, dermatologist, ob, and regular physical. Ugh. I am generally of the opinion that the only way to stop bad news from doctors is to not visit doctors. But it should be done, right?

My kids have outgrown a ton of stuff. Toys, books, clothes you name it. Some of it has made it into bags that just need to be delivered to the goodwill. But their rooms are crammed full of crap. Going through it and sorting it for what they use now and what is ready to go is seriously behind.

Crap in the garage
I swear that the stuff in the garage mates and multiplies if you don't keep up with it. Seriously where does all this stuff come from? I filled up a giant garbage can earlier this week with just stuff I could reach while I was looking for my bike pedals. Crazy.

Houseware staples
I have a cleaning lady. She never tells me when we're out of anything except laundry detergent and garbage bags. She will just make due. She makes due by watering down all the cleaning supplies. Which means my house is basically being cleaned with water.

I learned last training cycle to stock up early with cleaning staples and kitchen staples. But I realized last week that we were out of everything. Windex, counter spray, bleach, rice, flour, salt. Those ridiculous towels that the maids in Miami use - totally worn out. Seriously, everything. I wonder what the clerk thought when I was checking out of target with my supplies. Maybe that I had just moved or something. My cleaning lady was super excited to find all the replacement stuff. I'm not sure why I can't get her to tell me when things are empty. It's a little strange.

Quick training notes
I did my first bike ride yesterday since the race. I had to find my pedals which I can conveniently stored in a ziploc on the floor in the garage. This is when I noticed the abundance of crap that had accumulated.

It was a short brisk ride. Fun and not too hard. I wasn't sure I was looking forward to being on the bike but it was great fun. My training friend Nicole did a century yesterday. This is why she's faster than me. I can't think of anything I wanted to do less than go do a century. Yuck. And I ran. Lots of running right now on the schedule.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The week my life became an episode of 60 minutes

First things first I have not ever nor do I want to ever be on 60 minutes. I'm happy with my boring anonymous life.

Middle School
My daughter is in 5th grade. We live in Miami, Florida (an area not known for it's educational excellence). Her elementary school only goes through 5th grade.
So, Wednesday I toured 3 middle schools.

One is our home school a public school that is open to all the kids in our district. One is a highly-ranked magnet public school. The last was an extremely expensive competitive admission private school.

The three could not be more different. That is perhaps the most obvious statement ever made. Until this week I thought I understood our options. I thought we had a good plan which was if we got the magnet great - if not our suburban home school for middle school would be okay.

At the end of the day. I had a headache. I was confused. My husband and I were a little cross with each other and my poor kid ... well who knows what she thought about the whole thing.

I didn't sleep well last night with the pressure of the situation weighing on me mightily.

Change is hard. Change when you don't fully understand the options is harder still. Change when you aren't in control of any or all of the situation is especially hard.

I'm not sure why but this feels like a super complicated and really important decision.

Also, there is no perfect solution and that's just a giant pain in my tooshie.

People say, "you have to know your kid."

Well I do know my kid. She's 10 years old. She'll be 11 this month. She's not a fully-formed person yet. That's what I know.

Here's what else - She's very independent. She wants to post on Instagram but I won't give her an account yet. She plays Minecraft, she can do Sudoku puzzles that her father and I can't complete - she loves math and wants to be a cheerleader and she still travels with her American Girl doll. She does not like to brush her teeth and she hates Brussels sprouts.

How in the world does any of that relate to helping her choose a middle school? It doesn't so to all those people who keep saying that I say, "please shut up." Don't be offended - I said please :-)

I want her to have the least traumatic middle-school experience possible and if she didn't come out of middle-school hating learning that would be pretty great. Is that even possible? What was your middle school experience like?

So wait, what's the problem?
Lets take a look at the schools and what we saw.

The Community School
First lets look at our home school. I called to find out about tours and the phone rang 11 times. Seriously, not an exaggeration. When it answered I was transferred to the voice mail of a counselor (one of 4 I know because her message was 90 percent explaining which group she was responsible for) It was a very long message because it was in English and Spanish. We are a bilingual city - it's complicated. I left a message and I didn't hear back. Ever. I still haven't heard back.

So, I just went over in person. I parked and I walked around the campus. It's fine. Not amazing but big fields outside and outdoor gym stuff. Some portable classrooms - not a ton. Then I went inside. I saw the security table but nobody was there. I then actually ran into somebody I knew a daughter of a friend who is happy there. She is happy and her parents are happy. There are plenty of people who are happy with this school option. She took me to the office because she does an hour of her day in the office instead of taking an elective course because as she told me, they're really bad. The office on first glance seemed unstaffed. Weird. I thought.

Finally somebody came to their desk and when I asked for how I would see the school she said she didn't know, the principal wasn't in because they were teaching and the vice principals were busy dealing with a "violence issue" but I could see if one of the counselors was in if I wanted to.

She waived me back toward the back of the office to talk to a secretary. She had this entire conversation with me without even looking at me. Pretty rude actually. But we're in public school now so I know people are overworked and underpaid.

Let's take a minute and digress. While I tell you this story please understand I live in a suburb called Pinecrest. Look it up. It's not inner city at all. But we are a part of the Miami-dade school district which is the third largest in the country. It serves over 300,000 students. I have lived in at least two cities smaller than that.

At this point I was getting a bad vibe. But I took a deep breath and walked into the office to find the secretary and counselors. I walked in to the only other occupied desk and found a very busy secretary. Who was helpful but clearly very busy. On my way to the counselors office (also on my own) I found the assistant principals and part of the security team. They were talking to the child I know about the "violence issue" and this child was being given the responsibility of calling the parents and finding other kids to give written statements. Um, what? So I asked this child whose 13th birthday party is this week how often this happens in the school and she grinned and said, "oh every day."

I did meet with the guidance counselor who was nice. Harried and overwhelmed and busy but nice. Who told me that in a few weeks there is a curriculum fair where we can come and meet teachers and stuff. I should find out about it from my school.

And then I left. Not impressive. Actually not even acceptable. The words I would use are actually shocking and upsetting. In all honesty while she would probably be happy here there is not much chance that we'll send her here. Of course there are some kids who can excel in this school but I think the odds are against it.

Magnet School
At the start of this process this is our first choice. My daughter actually heard about the school from a friend. It's her choice which makes it a pretty great thing.

The school was old, but well maintained. We saw the kids change classes and they were well behaved and sweet. We saw a presentation from the lead teacher and then we got a tour from two- eighth grade students. They were normal and sweet.

If she gets in here she'll be happy.

The middle-school magnets are all random select. If you meet the basic criteria you throw your name in a hat and if you get picked - yippee. If not too bad so sad. For example the school we visited gets 1600 applicants for 150 spots. 1/10 get picked.

So the pressure of this randomness is kindof annoying.

Going Private
I'm hugely blessed that we can actually consider private school as a potential option. It's massively expensive and it comes with it's own set of problems but it's an option. We would have to make huge changes in our life but it can be done. So we went to the open house for the only true selective addmission preperatory school here. This was the only school I took my daughter to. The others were just my husband and myself.

So one other short digression. I have adult step-kids. They both were in a local private school for their entire education until college. So in one sense we've done this and we're a little jaded. We do feel that the high-school tuition was money well spent but kindergarten through eighth grade we feel was just the best of bad options. If we don't have to pay for middle school we don't want to. There are lots of reasons why private school can be the best option but being a good value isn't usually one of them if anybody is being honest in my opinion.

There were at least 1000 people there. Parents and children all hoping for the chance to pay more than a years worth of minimum wages for the privalege of attending.

The sales presentation was spectacular. Some very talented kids sang and danced and performed and extolled the joys of the school. There was a disco ball and confetti. It's a great campus. We knew lots of the kids and parents who were there. After there was a reception with punch and cookies and mini hot dogs and the kids could ask questions from teachers. My daughter loved the cookies and had fun with her friends who were there. I made her go to the math table and she did actually enjoy playing math games with the teacher.

This school is application only. She takes a test, is interviewed, we fill out an application that in all honesty is as much about us the parents as it is about her and if she is accepted she can go.

It's a great school. She would probably be happy there. But is it worth the money? Nope. How could it be? How could any school ever be worth that much money? It can't. But it might be the best option out there.

We are also considering 2 other private schools if she doesn't get into this the most competitive. The reality is that it's totally possible that she might not get in. That's life. 

Must have COFFEE
The next morning in my bleary-eyed state of sleep-deprivation as my coffee brewed. I was so desperate for the caffeine that I was standing at the brewing machine waiting for the coffee to drip into the pitcher (in case you're curious). I took a second to reflect on my own middle school experiences. My parents were divorced and lived in two separate states. My mother when I was young was of the belief that a full life included moving states or cities on close to an annual basis potentially even more often. But she lived in the mid-west where to be honest the schools were fine. There were no huge safety issues - there was no magnet program - I don't think there was a gifted program. My father lived in NYC which has got to be the biggest school district in the country. It had lots of safety issues but hidden in among the just bigness was a system that sometimes worked to get smart kids where they needed to be for the best chance. It was there that I was tested in 4th grade and determined to be a smart cookie.

So I think I attended at least 3 middle schools for a variety of time in 3 separate states. That being said I'd be shocked if combined my parents spent a total of 5 whole minutes even thinking about where I would go to school.

It just was a totally different situation. The total of their research probably included one question: what is the school for this address.

My husband and I had a brief chuckle over that. His parents were middle school teachers - they probably thought about it a lot but he went where they taught and that was that. He had no choice. If I was on site where my kid would go to school I would make that choice too. Nevertheless what they did worked he went from new york public schools to the Ivy league. Something that's always impressive. He's a smart guy.

Its a big problem
Somewhere during my sleepless night or my run the next day I made the connection that I was now neck deep in a problem that has been the basis of documentaries and news programs. It was a bit of a releif but doesn't make it any more fun.

I don't think public schools were ever amazing. I think that's a myth just because people want to believe it. They weren't great when I went through them but I think in Miami it's gotten more complicated.

By creating magnet and charter schools they have succeeded in pulling the most motivated parents/kids out of the community schools and into the magnet/charter schools which does have a good effect if you can get into one of those schools. But there is also I think a rebound effect in the community schools.  What I see is basically a brain drain of good teachers, parents and students. So then the community school (the one in your neighborhood) is not really a good option. I mean it's a good option if your other choice is no school but otherwise not really.

Here's why I think that. The standardized test scores for the 3 elementary schools that feed into our community middle school all average in the 90th percentile. But the standardized scores for the middle school fall to 60th percentile. Yikes. The only way I see that happening is to add poor students and to lose high achieving students. The magnet schools we're looking at all maintain the 90th percentile scoring. 

So what's a parent to do? Drink beer and hope for the best apparently.

I'm kidding - just kidding. Wait am I kidding?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ying to the Yang - a story of a happy family where mommy races Ironman

This picture reminds me of high school. The whole idea of ying and yang and balance in the world was majorly appealing to me as an adolescent.

Training is intense - surprisingly so is recovery
The last several weeks or months or so of Ironman Training is very intense. My family definitely makes some sacrifices to be sure in the form of lost time with me.

So once the race is over there has to be a shift. The ying to the yang. For an entire week I do nothing and it feels great. The first week is heaven. I sleep like a newborn, deep and intense and I have no desire to do anything except eat, rest and enjoy being a newly minted Ironman.

The Itch 
Then I start back slowly but continuing to keep my first focus on my family and my friends. They deserve it. I make my kids brownies, I let my husband serve me wine with dinner, I go to lunch with my husband and even my friends. I take the dry cleaning in, I answer the phone when my mother-in-law calls, I catch up on birthday presents that are overdue. I spend an entire weekend with my daughter at a swim meet. This is how I work to bring the family back to balance - see that's the ying to the yang idea ... get it?
note the homemade brownie in the lunch.

I love my family but I also love my hobby. So believe it or not I want to stop this whole stay up late and sleep in business before my family is quite caught up with their Amy-deficit. I begin looking forward to races I sign up for events. I am envious of those racing and doing long training rides while simultaneously loving my shorter training runs. This is where we are now.

My husband is loving the non-exercising me. He gets up and goes for a bike or a run without any concern that I'll be off doing my thing. My kids love that I'm all about them. It's a needed thing this family recovery. It works for my family this ying and yang.

I've made a lot of pancakes these 2 weeks. Also I got a new pancake pan. Isn't it pretty? Of course, my husband immediately used a metal spoon on it making me want to thrash him but with my post-Ironman blissful state he has lived.
This period of post-Ironman recovery was well timed because my son came down with a weird virus that we went back and forth to the doctor a few times and then yesterday my daughter was sent home with lice. Lice - or in spanish los piojolos is the giant parenting time suck of the universe. So, it's well timed that it happened during this period of recovery.

I did see a little peek of Ironman blues this past week. Mentally, I feel better when I have the focus of the training. That's one of the reasons I do it. I went to bed one night and found my self awash in feelings of why... why...why. Luckily after a few minutes of wondering if I'd lost my mind I thought this my bit of blues colored with the wine that was with dinner...probably and I drifted off to sleep.

The mind is willing - the body a little less so
Also I have to admit that my body is not yet fully recovered. I have a little twinge in my right leg that started with the Ironman marathon. So I'm stretching and rolling and not rushing the intense exercise. All at the same time that I'm restarting the training for my fall marathon. I'm following the Pfitzinger 8 week between marathons schedule and glory be the first 2 weeks are full of recovery runs. It's lovely.

I have a friend who does ultra events all the time. She'll do Iron-distance events week after week. I think she's a little crazy. Also I wonder how in the world her body does it. For me even though I'm not the fastest improvement motivates me. In fact I'm firmly locked into my middle of the pack status. I was almost exactly in the middle of my age-group in Chatty. I'm average ... painfully average.  Some day of course, age will make improvement impossible. But I hope today is not that day. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Final Installment - Race Report Ironman Chattanooga the run and finish

This has been the longest and most boring Ironman Chattanooga race report ever. Yes, I know. But it's almost over.

Probably nobody is reading it and that's okay with me. Probably not even my most dedicated reader (my sister-in-law) But I can't help myself I 've just got to finish this thing.

The run.
I knew that I was going into this run underprepared for the course. I felt that while I was trained to run a marathon that my run volume was very low and about 2 months before the race I discovered that the run was about twice as hilly as was posted on the website.
Coming from the flat lands of Miami this is a nightmare. What I should have done was just do all my long runs as bridge repeats. Oh well hindsight is always 20/20.

Unfortunately that's not enough time to change my training to be hill oriented. So I knew this was going to be tough. My only goal was to have a better marathon than I ran in France. In France I ran 5:30 which I was happy about at the time because I had heard that you take your marathon time and add an hour and that's your Ironman marathon time. But since then I've known several people who are just folks like me who have run solid marathons in their Ironman events so I am working on trying to run a solid marathon as the last leg of an Ironman Race. But that goal had to be modified when I learned that the course was not what I was trained for.

The course.
This was the hardest marathon course I've ever run.  It's 2 loops and it feels like every inch is either up hill or downhill. There is a big chunk of the course that was along the river which while pretty is isolated. There is a terrible stretch along a highway which is horrible. And there are 2 steep hills that you have to do twice up and down. There are also a few wooden bridges which are tricky when wet and when you're legs are as tired as they are.
This is the start of the run. See smiling. I certainly think I feel better at this point than the guy behind me. This 20 meter section is flat and then there is immediately a hill. Embrace the suck.

The crowd support in parts (including the 2 steep hills) was great. You have to love a town that basically throws tailgating parties to cheer on the runners. Also the volunteers were fantastic. Several stops had people dressed up and it was really great.

We got rain on the run which wasn't bad but I was happy when it stopped.

Oh my stomach
Other than being undertrained for the hills of this run I had nutrition/digestion issues. I put tums in my transition bag and my special needs bag. I'm not sure if it's drinking from a straw or just the Infinit but I get gassy after 6 hours of slurping on my sugary mix.  Since I had a stomach ache that I figured was from a giant gas ball in my belly during the bike I immediatley started chomping on tums in transition.

I would like to appologize to all those jogging near me on the run in the first lap because I was a burping fool. Not very lady like but I felt much better with each belch.

I had a fuel belt with infinit powder in each of the bottles. I stopped at the first rest stop and filled up my first bottle. My timer beeps every 6 minutes and I take 2 sips of infinit. This worked very well in training. However, it didn't work well in the race unfortunately. I'm not quite sure how it ran off course but it did.
This is how I run when I'm not exhausted. Notice I'm on my toes and my knees are bent. Not at all like the shuffle fest later in the event.

I don't drink or eat for the first mile letting my stomach settle from the bike and figure out how I feel. Then by about 45 minutes I had already finished my first bottle. So I was way ahead of schedule even though I didn't have anything for the first 10 minutes. So I backed off. But because my head wasn't working right I ate a few chomps during this time. I say my head wasn't working right because I probably could have skipped those and may have felt better if I did. I was afraid to go very long without calories.

Then at about an hour my stomach was super sloshy. Sloshier than it has ever been before. I figured that this was related to me drinking too fast and also maybe the tums but I wasn't sure. So I filled my next bottle but wasn't drinking it. I was afraid to go too long without calories but the sloshy stomach was impossible.

There's Hills in them thar places!
I made my way running up the first set of hills and had the glorious company of my training partner Doug. That makes such a difference to run together. Then at the start of the second loop I had to go potty so I stopped and did my thing feeling much better after. This was about 2:20 into the run. I picked up my special needs - more tums and wipes and headed out to the second loop solo. I was still very sloshy in my stomach and fairly nauseated and my pace slowed to show it. I walked the hills up this time around but ran down the hills which by this point was extremely painful.
This photo is out of sequence but I think I look pretty great here. This is on the second loop (I can tell because of which bottles are on the back) and I'm still happily in aero flying along.

I took some chicken broth at aid stations - just a sip or two. The salty feels really good. And right or wrong I took a potato chip a few times because my belly was so sloshy and I really craved solid foods.

Another Couer ad
I was carrying a half-empty bag of gu chomps for about 5 miles in my hand. It was super annoying. Finally I remembered that these shorts have pockets in them. I tucked the chomps into my shorts and promptly stopped eating the chomps. That was probably step one in my feeling better to be honest.

The dark part - as close as I get anyway
I'll be honest about half way through the second loop I was firmly entertaining just spectating at Ironman Lake Placid next summer. But even in my haze I knew that wouldn't stick. 

When I walked I tried to power walk. While I can be a fairly quick runner I am one of the slowest walkers ever so I tried to go as quickly as possible when I walked. Also every time I started walking I tried to ask myself, "Can you push a little more" the answer was always yes so I would run more. I tried to run the last whole mile but I did walk some over the pedestrian bridge because the surface is uneven and it would have stunk to fall.

Goodbye Fuel Belt
About 45 minutes from the finish I filled my last bottle and gleefully tossed my entire fuel belt into the garbage :-) It was driving me nuts. It was also worn out and ready for replacement. That felt great. Then I just carried that one bottle to the finish.

Strength work
The only thing I did correctly to get ready for this run was to increase my strength work. I'm much stronger than I've ever been. On the second half of the second loop I could feel my shoulders start to slouch and I was actually able to feel it and correct it which made a huge difference.
This is me slouching. This is the riverwalk section of the second loop. I can tell because it's stopped raining and the sun is setting. Once I remembered to straighten up and engage my core I felt much better. Look how straight my legs are... shuffling but I didn't know it.

My right leg which is where I can get IT band syndrome was on fire descending the steep hills at the end. But I just pushed through it working on engaging my core and focusing on lifting my knees.  I trained with my friend Janine Failla for strength work and it really helped. So if you're in Miami and looking for a trainer I recommend her, FBB personal training is her brand.

The Finish
My result was 5:20 and I'll take it. I did improve slightly on the France time and holy cow this was 1000 times harder of a marathon.

The Ironman Finish line is amazing. Until you've run down that chute it's hard to describe. You're exhausted, your mind is super foggy and it's just loud and bright and all for you. I love it. This one did not disappoint.

Mike Riley the voice of Ironman did say my name. Amy Stone from Pinecrest, Florida and I heard it but I love the roar of the crowd more to be honest.

I was emotional but this second time around I was able to smile more than cry.

I found my coach just after the finish line. He took me to my family. It was all good. My son was super helpful finding me a chair and helping me sit and stand. But my kids did steal my water because they were thirsty (seriously, I know ... right). They had been downtown all day so as soon as I could I got my bags and we went back to the hotel.

I showered and was thrilled that I didn't have even a drop of chaffing. Somehow even though it was braided my hair was one solid knot. I ate leftovers and put the kids to bed. Then I took my friend Doug to the City Diner down the block and we ate again. It was full of racers which was fun.

And then I went to bed. The next morning I was up at 6 and ate breakfast and then went with Nicole to get finisher gear. That was fun. Then I packed up and we met my inlaws for lunch where I had my first beer in about 45 days. That was delicious. We flew home and I've been resting since.

Yesterday I volunteered at the Key Biscayne Half marathon. That was fun. These sports take a lot of volunteers so I started this tradition of mine after Ironman France. While I'm recovering and can't race I volunteer.

Today I did my first run back. 4 miles slow. The weather here is finally changing and it's run season. Next up. Space Coast Marathon.