Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yoda Meets Multisport

It all began last Friday night when The Husband and I met up with our friend (and fellow Warrior), Miss Placed for a couple of beers.  She's doing a triathlon at the beginning of July and was trying to convince us to do it too.  No commitments were made, but after we all said goodbye, The Husband and I  made a beeline to a sporting goods store in search of a swim cap for me and goggles for him - all while making plans to attempt an open water swim the next day. We reasoned that even if we didn't do the triathlon in early July we'd surely be ready for one by late July.


Both of us were fairly strong swimmers in our high school days, but let's face it - high school was a long time ago.  Saturday morning came and we suited up, drove 40 minutes out to the location of the late July triathlon, and made our way into the water.  To be honest, I wanted to get out of the water about thirty seconds after I got in.  Why? The vast majority of the lake looked pretty weedy and lake weeds generally contain a lot of fish.  I'm cursed with a completely irrational fish phobia.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of triathlons involve a lake swim, so I had two choices: suck it up or quit.  I sucked it up.  I stuck my face in the water, made sure there were no fish in the vicinity and proceeded to swim after The Husband.

I think we probably swam a grand total of 150-200 yards (distance for the sprint tri is 400 yards) with lots of rests in between "laps" and were both completely exhausted and had to face the reality that there is no way either of us was going to be swimming 400 yards without stopping any time soon.

Once again, I have to paraphrase Yoda: Do, or do not. I'm not ready to Tri.  All cheesiness aside, as much as I'd like to do a triathlon, I'm just not ready.

I may not be ready this season, but I do have a plan!  The Husband and I are going to try to hit the lake a few more times this summer in an attempt to build some confidence and endurance in the water (and work on my phobia).  Our gym has a reciprocal agreement with another fitness center for pool privileges, so I'll be taking advantage of that this winter to increase both speed and endurance with the added bonuses of not smelling like a lake or coping with fish!  Finally, I'm looking into joining a tri club next spring.  The tri club offers a Newbie Triathlete program, so at least I'll be around other people who are just as clueless as me - and maybe I won't be the only freak with fish phobia!

The triathlon setback is definitely annoying since I've been chomping at the bit to do another multi-sport event ever since I crossed the finish line at the South Shore Duathlon.  Fortunately, I found another duathlon to do in lieu of a triathlon.  The only drawback there is that it's the week after the Full Moon Half Marathon, and I don't think putting that much stress on my body is a good idea.  So I have a choice to make: Half Marathon or Duathlon. I'm hoping to make a decision by the end of this weekend.

Do you have any irrational fears?  Have you conquered them?  If so, how?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Photo A Day: June 18-24

Monday, June 18: Something We Don't Know About You

I've saved almost all of my race bibs since 2007!

Tuesday, June 19: Imperfect


Wednesday, June 20: Fave Photo You've Ever Taken

I have a few favorites - this is one of them.
 Thursday, June 21: Where You Slept

I didn't take this on Thursday, but it is my bed...with the addition of my sister's puppy!

Friday, June 22: From A High Angle

Saturday, June 23: Movement

Cycling Shoes

Sunday, June 24: On Your Mind

I'm thinking about it. I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Craziest Frickin' Day of Your Life: Reloaded

Remember last year when I said that my first mud run definitely wouldn't be my last? I was telling the truth. Last Friday night, The Husband, a handful of The Usual Suspects (we were missing Mr. Fix-It and Nacho Nurse), and myself set off to Channahon, IL to tackle this year's edition of the Warrior Dash.

After a quick group dinner we all headed to bed, knowing that we had to be up really early since we were in the first wave of Warriors the next morning.

As always, the 5:30am alarm came too fast. Unlike last year, I wasn't nervous at all as I put on my race clothes (exact same stuff as last year except for the socks and shoes) and braided my hair - I was pumped!  As soon as everyone was in the hotel lobby, we piled into two cars and set off for the Battleground.  Once we arrived, we discovered some of the many benefits of being in the first wave: easy parking (at $20 a carload) and short lines for packet pick up.

Once we all pinned on our numbers and secured our timing chips,which doubled as our free beer token, to our shoes, we dropped our stuff back at the cars and made our way to the starting line.

They're clean...for now!

The Husband & I...Before
As soon as the horn sounded and the flames over the starting arch flared, we were off.

Best I could do before throwing my camera to Giggles!

 As usual, The Husband and Miss Placed charged ahead. Unlike last year, Whoo-Ha was right behind them!  Black Betty and I had decided to stick together no matter what, so we let that trio do their thing while we concentrated on working our way through the crushing herd of humanity in the narrow starting area.  Soon enough we encountered Obstacle #1: an ankle-deep mud puddle.  A lot of people came to a dead stop as they tried to figure out how to avoid getting their feet wet!  Black Betty and I shrugged and charged through it on our way to Obstacle #2: Mortimer's Crossing (balance your way across a wobbly rope bridge).  There was a massive bottleneck at this obstacle - so much so that Maverick and Goose caught up to us. After a few minutes, we realized that there was no way we were getting on those ropes any time soon, so we opted to take the 'bypass route' down one ladder and up another in order to get moving!  It may qualify as 'wimping out' in some people's books, but for us it was a strategic move that allowed us to make forward progress rather than waiting in line for 10 minutes!

 Obstacle #3: The Trenches (army crawling through dirt trenches under barbed wire) was easily the most painful obstacle in my opinion.  The dry dirt tore up my knees and my palms.  After that we were on to Obstacle #4: Vicious Valleys (v-shaped walls with hurdles).  Black Betty and I found that rather than trying to stretch between the two walls, we were better off balancing on the narrow ledge on one side as we scurried across. Once we jumped down from there it was a short run to Obstacle #5: Vertical Limit (a vertical rock climbing wall followed by a slide down a fireman's pole).  I liked this obstacle a lot, although I could have done without the fireman's pole - that didn't feel so good on my legs. 

Soon Obstacle #6:The Petrifying Plunge (a muddy slip 'n slide) came into sight. Unlike last year, this slip 'n slide didn't end on a grassy hill - it ended in a giant muddy pool!  Black Betty, who is 4 inches taller than me, found it amusing that while she was up to her thighs in muddy water, I was up to my waist!  We scrambled up a muddy hill and I spent the run to Obstacle #7: Road Rage (climbing over wrecked cars and tires) wringing out the bottom of my shirt!  We cleared Road Rage with no problems and made our way to Obstacle #8: Hard Rain (climbing up a ladder while water poured down on us).  I absolutely loved this obstacle - especially since the water was so cold and the weather was so hot!

 After Hard Rain, the course took a rather serpentine route to Obstacle #9: Chaotic Crossover (crawling across horizontal cargo nets).  This obstacle was one of my least favorites last year and I ended up really hating it this year!  Not only did the cargo nets hurt like a beast, but when I was climbing down the 3 ladder rungs at the end, my foot slipped and I ended up taking a hard fall and smacking the right side of my face against the ground!  Don't worry...I'm fine and my face is fine - no bruises! I picked myself up, dusted myself off, high-fived a couple of guys who saw it happen, and kept running.  Obstacle #10: The Great Warrior Wall (10+ foot high wall with a rope hanging down) was next.  Climbing up was no problem, and you can bet that I was damn careful coming down the ladder on the other side after my earlier incident!  At this point the course turned into more of a trail run, complete with rocks, roots and a stream!  Lots of people were walking through this section, but Black Betty (who ran cross country in high school) went crashing across the stream to get around people, and I was right behind her as we approached Obstacle #11: Giant Cliff Hanger (running up a diagonal platform with a rope for assistance).  When we reached the top, we could hear the finish line and that meant there were only three obstacles left!   

Obstacle #12: Cargo Climb (climbing up, over and down 12 foot high cargo nets) was fun and relatively simple.  After that, it was time to haul ass to get up enough speed to hurdle over  Obstacle #13: Warrior Roast (leaping over live fire).  Last year there was only one line of flames to jump over. This year, there were two!  The first was no problem, but there wasn't enough time to build up a lot of speed before the second. I could definitely feel the heat from the flames on that second jump!  At last, only Obstacle #14: Muddy Mayhem (crawling through a mud pit under barbed wire) remained.  We plunged in, commenting how the pit was much bigger and the mud was far less goopy than what we experienced last year. Black Betty and I climbed out of the pit, grabbed each other's hand and sprinted across the Finish Line.  Just like last year, it was a total rush!

Obstacle #12: Cargo Climb

Obstacle #13: Warrior Roast and Obstacle #14: Muddy Mayhem

We (The Husband, Miss Placed, Whoo Hah, Black Betty, and I) made our way over to the Warrior Wash while we waited for Maverick and Goose to finish.  This year's Warrior Wash was so much better than the one in Minnesota.  Some lovely gentlemen were wielding garden hoses and pretty much power washing the Warriors.  I stripped off my mud soaked shirt, rinsed off, and hurried back to the Finish Line.

I made it just in time to see my Twitter buddy and fellow blogger, Megan, and her friend Audrey finish their first mud run!  They both looked pretty happy as they ran across the line pumping their muddy fists in the air.  You'll have to check out Megan's blog to get her take on the race.

Audrey, Me, Megan
I'd bumped into them for a few seconds before the race started, but we didn't really have time to chat!  While they headed for the Warrior Wash, the rest of the Usual Suspects and I gathered to watch Maverick and Goose go from spectators to Warriors!

We hustled back to the car to change out of our mud-soaked clothes, dropped our destroyed shoes in the donation pile, and returned to the Battleground for an absolutely fantastic after party.

Shoe Donation Pile!
We claimed our free beers and proceeded to chow down on some giant turkey legs.

Beer and Turkey Legs: Keepin' It Classy

Do NOT come between a hungry Warrior and his food!
At this point, Megan called me to let me know that she, Audrey, and their entourage had scored some seats under a shade tent, so we made our way over there to hang out for a while. It was awesome getting to hang out and chat in the real world instead of just over Twitter!

There was also quite a side show going on around us.  One of the many things I love about the Warrior Dash is the crazy costumes.  Here are a few of the crazier/better ones I saw:

Kilts are always quite popular

Not sure if he's brave or insane!

After a while, the heat got to be unbearable so we packed it in and headed back to our hotel to shower, clean out our cuts and scrapes, nap, and get ready for the After After Party!

My fellow Deadliest Catch fans will understand why I found this so amusing!

All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic weekend and I'm already thinking about next year's event!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Photo A Day: June 11-17

Monday, June 11: Door

The refrigerator door will have to do!

Tuesday, June 12: From A Low Angle

Can't get much lower than laying on the floor!

Wednesday, June 13: Art

A friend's daughter made this for us!
Thursday, June 14: Time

Totally doesn't fit my decor, but I love it anyway!

Friday, June 15: Yellow

It was either these guys or a Gatorade bottle

Saturday, June 16: Out and About

I swear...the race recap is my next post!

 Sunday, June 17: In Your Bag
Did I really just photograph the contents of my purse?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Photo A Day: June 4-10

Monday, June 4: Close Up

My plants are growing so fast!

Tuesday, June 5: Sign
Happy Hour Specials? Don't mind if I do!

Wednesday, June 6: Hat
Most Useful Souvenir Ever.

Thursday, June 7: Drink
We take hydration seriously around here!

Friday, June 8: Six O'Clock
My view of the world at 6pm on Friday!

 Saturday, June 9: Your View Today
Little Sister is a high school graduate! Where did the time go?

 Sunday, June 10: Best Bit Of Your Weekend
I'm officially a duathlete!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

South Shore Rock 'N Ride Duathlon Recap

My first foray into multisport racing began Saturday morning with the traditional packet pick up - the only thing new to me there was: a)I received an envelope containing body marking tattoos along with my race number and t-shirt and b)the race director was there, introducing himself to the athletes, showing them maps of the course, and answering any questions they might have.  Meeting the race director was a definite first for me - and what a great guy.  He asked if this was my first du and when I said it was, he gave me a big smile, shook my hand, and said "Welcome to the World of Multisport!"  With a welcome like that, how could I not be excited to do this race?

Saturday night was spent obsessing over the weather (I seem to be cursed with extremely hot race day weather this year) and making sure I had everything I needed ready to go since I'm not exactly clear-headed at 5:30 A.M.   Oh - and The Husband and I had to get creative and figure out how to cram my Trek into a Toyota.  (Note: We are so getting a bike rack)!

As always, the alarm came too early and I stumbled into the shower and then into my race clothes.  After I finished stuffing myself into an obscene amount of spandex, The Husband applied the body marking tattoos to the outside of my left arm and on the back of my right calf.  I topped off my semi-frozen water bottle, loaded my bike into the car, and we were off to the race!

Once we arrived at the race site, we reattached my front wheel and went in search of the transition area so I could rack my bike.  If you'll recall, one of my huge worries going into this race was 'How the heck do I rack a bike?'  As it turns out, it was easy - and, by luck of my race number, scored one of the coveted end spots on a rack!

All racked up and ready to go!
After that, I picked up my timing chip, headed to the starting area, and bumped into my mom! She had mentioned something about maybe coming to watch (since I rarely race close enough to home for either of my parents to spectate), but with the expected heat, I wouldn't have blamed her if she stayed home in the air conditioning!

Before I knew it, the first wave of super-fast racers was called to the start (including Walter & Spot's veterinarian who claimed she 'wasn't a very good runner'. Hah!), so I said goodbye to Mom and The Husband and made my way toward the rest of my wave (Wave 4).  A few cracks of the starter's pistol later and it was my turn to go!  I took off with the rest of my wave and quickly settled into a comfortable run pace.  The first mile, while brutally sunny, was also mercifully flat and I finished it in 9:21.  After that, the course headed into a nice, shady park and down a really steep bluff.  At the bottom of the hill was a turnaround point (and a lovely view of Lake Michigan) and then came the climb back up the hill!  Holy crap - that was wicked.  It was like running up a ski hill!  My pace shot up as I power-walked to the top (along with just about everyone else).  Fortunately, I was able to start running again as soon as I got to the top of the hill, so I didn't totally lose the gains I'd made in Mile 1. Official time for Run #1: 19:33 (Avg. Pace: 9:46).

I yanked off my hat as I ran into transition and stuffed it into one of the pockets on the back of my jersey. Once I got to my bike, I took a quick gulp of water, strapped on my helmet, and ran my bike out to the mount line. T1 Time: 1:06. 

I had no trouble getting my feet into the toe clips this morning, so that gave me a good confidence boost as I headed out on the bike course.  Almost immediately I spotted Mom and The Husband, so I waved and tossed my hat to them (it was digging into my back). 

The first 2 miles of the bike course were great. It was ever so slightly downhill, so I focused on passing as many people as I could.  After the turnaround just past Mile 2, it became a series of hills.  It seemed to be 2 miles uphill followed by 2 miles downhill, and so on.  Official Bike Time: 39:27 (Avg. Speed: 15.5mph).

 Just before I turned into the transition area, I saw Walter and Spot's vet in the homestretch of the final run leg.  Dr. B went on to take 50th place overall (5th place female/1st place in her age group) in a scorching time of 1:03:12!

As soon as I hit the dismount line I attempted to jog my bike back to the rack.  This was not a good idea since my legs felt like they were made of overcooked spaghetti.  Once my bike was back on the rack, I pulled off my helmet, gulped down a little more water, and headed out on the final run leg.  T2 Time: 1:01.

The second run leg was the same course as the first run leg, but run in the opposite direction - meaning that the evil hill came up very early on. Brutal. I was hot, tired, and had a massive case of Jello Legs. Most of Mile 1 was spent run/walking and trying to get the lead out.  After the evil hill, I felt a little better and managed to run more than I walked, but was a fight. I think the only reason that I ran as much of Mile 2 as I did was because the two women behind me were wearing obnoxiously bright pink shirts and I didn't want to spend the end of the race staring at those shirts, (Don't ask me why those shirts irritated me so much - it was completely irrational.) so whenever I would start walking and hear their footfalls behind me, I'd pick up the pace and start running again. 

Finally I was in the home stretch. Not only could I see the finish line, I could hear it from several blocks away.  I waved to Mom & The Husband as ran by them to my first duathlon finish!

Official Finishing Time: 1:22:55

As soon as I crossed the finish line, one volunteer high-fived me while another removed the timing chip from my ankle.  Then I was greeted by the race director with a handshake and a hug!  I thanked him for putting on such an awesome race and making my first multisport event such a great one.

I made my way through the food line (bagel, pretzels/cheese dip, animal crackers, and CANDY), located Mom and The Husband, grabbed my bike from transition and hauled my booty home! 

Overall, it was an awesome event. The race director clearly cares a lot about this race and I think his enthusiasm trickled down to the volunteers because every single one of them was absolutely wonderful. There wasn't any bling to be had at the end of this race, but I got something far more important: a desire to keep doing multisport events and hopefully get better at them!