Sunday, January 27, 2013

Training Mode!

Ironman training is in full swing.  The first few weeks of January have been beyond busy but things are going really well.  I've got a new assignment at work (on top of my "regular" job) so I'm going to have longer hours for the next 1.5 months or so but I'm really excited about it and know I can make it all work!  My new gig has me out of the office and at a client site which I'm enjoying a ton....and I'm learning a lot too so that's cool.  :)

But let's get to what this blog is all about as I'm sure I'll get off on another tangent soon enough.  

Since the Houston Half, I've been keeping my self busy in the pool and on the road.  There's nothing exciting to report from the pool area....I continue to finish my workouts and haven't drowned so that is awesome!  Keith & I had a challenging bike ride last weekend which we attribute to the super cold temps.  We rode this morning and had an awesome ride on a much more difficult route.  I had a short run off the bike which I'm happy to report, went extremely well.  

I had a relaxing 8 mile run yesterday.  I actually had a lot on my mind yesterday and I probably could've run an extra 8 miles to hash through everything. As I was finishing up my run, I thought about how cool it was that I can go out and run 8 miles and enjoy it as much as I do.  Running keeps me sane and I hope I can do it for a long, long time. 

I haven't seen my schedule for next week but I'm already looking forward to my long run & long ride.  Seriously, if I could train full time, I think I would.  Now I just need to figure out how to come into a large sum of money so I can do that.  One step at a time.  

Hannah turns 16 a week from today.  S I X T E E N.  She was 8 when I first met her and it's crazy to think she's weeks away from being a legal driver.  Watching her grow into such an amazing young lady has been really cool.  We're so excited to celebrate with her next weekend!!

Emily & Daniel tie the knot in just over 40 days.  I have not found my dress for the wedding yet but have marked my calendar and will be starting that search very soon.  I actually have started the search and have narrowed it down to a few styles but need to go and try some stuff on pronto.  

Avery & Addison will be turning 2 soon.  My goodness time is flying bye!!!!  

See, I told you I would digress!  :)  Back to training.  What's next for me?  Well, I don't have another race until March and that will be The Woodlands Half Marathon.  Between now & then I'll just be a training (and working) fool and that sounds like heaven to me.  Yes, I'm sick like that.  Keith & I are loving these long rides and have continued to fine tune how we ride and help each other.  I have to admit, I've grown to love drafting even though he still makes me pull (and he usually makes me pull uphill).  

That's about it.  Hopefully I'll be back next weekend with more training news and pictures too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rain, rain go away unless you've got my PR today!

It only took 5 years but I’ve finally improved upon my 2008 Houston Half Marathon performance!  In less than ideal conditions, I surprised myself (in a good way) and held on for the PR!!

Going into this race, I wasn’t thinking about a PR.  While I knew I was in better shape than I’ve been in a long time, I also knew that I really hadn’t trained for a PR.  After OilMan in November, I had some time off and then the holidays were upon us.  I was training but nothing crazy.  Going into Sunday, my goal was to have a good race and focus on execution.  For me, that meant I needed to start out slow and build into my pace.  While I was thrilled with a PR, I was way more pleased that I was able to descend each of my 5k splits. 

The weather yesterday stunk.  It was very cold in the morning (low 40’s), rainy and windy.  Keith rode down with me and we parked in the EY building and I got to use a “real” restroom versus a porta-pottie.  Score!  I headed to the start line at about 6:30ish as they said the corral would close at 6:40am.  I found some shelter under an awning at Minute Maid Park and just tried to hide behind bigger people.  The rain started down and more folks squeezed into our hiding spot.  The gun went off at 7am and nearly 20 minutes later, I was crossing the start line, and getting my morning going. 

Not long after the race officially started, the rain started.  At first, it wasn’t bad but then it just came down.  I started to laugh.  A guy next to me asked me what I was laughing at like he was annoyed or something.  I just looked at him and smiled and told him that I was laughing at the conditions and just happy to be out running.  He clearly thought I was a nut.  The first few miles were uneventful.  I tried not to get caught up with the frenzy of the crowd and reminded myself to start easy.  Of course, I needed to also to remember to dodge the giant puddles that were growing by the minute.  Oh, and dodge the flying clothes that folks were ditching.  Before I knew it, I was between 3-4 miles and I got to see Keith who was out on his bike, cheering me along the course.  What a trooper!!!  Oh, and many props to the spectators who still came out to cheer for all of us crazy people.  It was so fun!!!

So I’ll spare you the details of how I felt at every mile marker and fast forward to the good stuff.  At around mile 7, I got to see Keith again.  I like this area b/c he can stay with me until I cross Allen Pkwy and then he waits at the corner of Studemont and Allen Pkwy until I come back to make my turn to the finish.  As he was riding alongside me (on the other side of the median), he was telling me how well I was doing and how I had a great pace going.  I smiled and just kept on moving.  Then he said, “seriously, you look better than I’ve ever seen you look”.  When he said this, I was intrigued and decided now would be a good time to look at my Garmin and see what I was doing. I know, crazy that I hadn’t done so yet right?  Well, I was watching the course clocks and knew I was executing fine but wasn’t exactly sure since I didn’t know what time I crossed the start mat.  When I looked at my Garmin, I did a quick calculation and then looked at Keith and mouthed, “oh shit”.  I looked again, tilted my head, ran some numbers in my head and then smiled.  I was about to enter the part of the race that has always been mentally challenging for me for some reason and had the push I needed to change that. 

As I headed towards Richmond Avenue, I kept the pressure on.  No walking.  When I came upon an aid station, I grabbed the cup and just kept going.  I didn’t walk through any aid stations!!  Before I knew it, I could see the turnaround and was super excited.  Within a few minutes, I was at mile 10, did a math re-check and knew it was going to be close.  I glanced at my watch and I was maintaining a pace below 10min miles which is what I would need to do to get my PR.  My body felt good so I pushed more. 

Headed towards the turnaround.  Thanks to Bill Dwyer for getting this pic!
Am I having fun or what?!?!
As I approached the turn on to Allen Pkwy, I spotted Keith and I think I smiled again.  I don’t really know.  I’m pretty sure I wanted to at least.  While miles 8-10 were always the tough ones for me in the past, this section was always my favorite…even if I wasn’t running well.  This is the section where you get to see the lead marathoners come by if you’re lucky. I had missed the first guy but made it to Allen Pkwy to see what I think was 2nd – 6th…maybe.  The Lululemon tent was blasting one of my favorite songs, It’s Tricky and I soooo wanted to stop and dance but decided to keep running.  Before I knew it, I was at mile 12 and still on pace for a modest PR.  I decided to just go as hard as I could and so I hit the gas.  I could see the GRB in front of me and looked at my watch….2:06ish.  Hmmm, how close am I?  Oh, there’s the ½ mile sign.  Ok, do the math.  Ooh, this is going to be close.  Run harder.  Do you want a PR?  Umm, of course I do!  Ok, run just a little harder.  ¼ mile.  I’m almost done.  Just a little longer.  There’s the finish.  Ok, arms in the air and smile for the camera! 

I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the timing mats.  I looked down and saw 2:09 and change.  I did it!!!!!!  I was so excited and honestly, a little shocked.  I didn’t expect a PR yesterday.  I wasn’t shooting for one…it just happened.  For me, I think the biggest factor was mental.  I don’t know if you call it perspective or attitude or confidence.  In my head, I just went into this for fun.  And when I say that, I don’t mean that I wasn’t trying, I just mean that I had no expectations.  I was going to enjoy the morning and be grateful that I have the ability to run, slow or not.  

So, just how well did I do at the end of the race?  Well, allow me to brag a little.  According to the official results and the CHM website, I passed 418 people over the last 4 miles of the race (while only being passed by 32).  Really?!?!  That is one cool stat!  

So that’s it!  I had an awesome race in really cruddy conditions.  I’ve got an awesome coach who has helped me figure out what I need to do differently to improve and I’ve got an awesome man who is so supportive of me.  Keith rode around the course on his bike in terrible conditions…not many folks would do that!

There you have it.  A blog update and race report all rolled into one package!  Happy Monday!  And to answer your question, yes, I REALLY want to break that 2hr mark now.  :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Well hello there 2013 (9 days late)!

My first post of the New Year…2013!!  I still can’t believe 2012 is done and over.  Time sure does move more quickly now.

The last few weeks of 2012 was crazy busy.  With the arrival of Cole & Morgan, Keith & I found both our families growing!  We made our way to Chicago a few days after Christmas and finally got to meet little Morgan Ann.  What a doll she is!  Only being here for 2 short weeks, she pretty much slept & ate and that was it.  She sure does do those things super cute though! 

Addison was SO much fun.  We last saw her in September and she was even more fun than she was then.  Addison is so dang sweet.  She loves to give hugs & kisses and also loves to show you that she knows your name.  It was so fun at dinner watching her go around the table naming everyone.  This little girl loves her family so much…it’s adorable!  It was really hard leaving Addison this time and I’m sad that we won’t see her again until March.  I told Keith we should try to find one more weekend to get up there but we’re just not sure we can.  Sad face. 

So now it’s resolution time.  I try to always set goals for myself so I don’t really call them resolutions.  There is a lot I want to do this year and I’ve already started making my list.  I will have to divide my list into two parts though:  Pre-Ironman Goals & Post-Ironman Goals.  The next few months will be pretty busy with training so I may not have so much time to focus on “me”.

Before I get to IMTX though, I’ve got a few other races to knock out.  Once again, my first race of the New Year will be the Houston Half Marathon which is in just a few days.   This will be my 6th time to run this race and my 11th Half Marathon overall.  This race will be for fun though.  I took a few weeks off after my awesome experience at Oil Man and while I’ve been back to training for several weeks, it’s been “holiday” training so not as intense or consistent.  That’s ok though!  I absolutely love this race and am so looking forward to getting out there again to run.  After Houston, I’ll have The Woodlands Half in March followed by the 70.3 in Galveston. 

From the personal side, the early part of 2013 is going to be just as busy as the end of 2012.  We just celebrated Cristian's 6th bday!!!!  Up Next??  Kiri, Hannah, Avery, Kevin and Addison all celebrate their bdays between now and March 17th!  On March 10th, Emily will become Mrs. Verhaalen when she marries Daniel and we are so excited!!!!  Seriously, there is a lot going on!!!!!

My biggest goal of 2013 is to enjoy everything I have and everyone in my life.  I really don’t have much to complain about and for that, I’m eternally grateful!