Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ike 4/2000 - 12/2013

My favorite photo, he had a lot of growing to do to fit into that head of his.

It's been ten days since we lost Ike. I finally feel like I can talk about him without busting out into tears. You see, Ike was our first baby, the first pet that Scott and I got together. At the time were living in an apartment in Walnut Creek with Scott's two cats. Scott was in the application process for the CHP but was working for his Dad at his machine shop in Oakland near the Coliseum. Scott called me one day at work and told me that this cute pit bull puppy had wandered over tot he shop and was following him around. He said it appeared that someone had tied him up with car stereo wire that he had chewed through to escape. Scott spoke to a few neighbors but nobody recognized the pup. I told Scott he had to bring home, he would never survive living the streets in that neighborhood and would moist likely end up as a bait dog.

So Scott brought him home to his Mom's house. Barb was on vacation at the time and were taking care of the animals at her house. We figured we would find this cute little puppy a home since we couldn't have dogs at our apartment. This little guy quickly wormed his way in our hearts and it was pretty obvious we would do whatever it took to keep him. Lucky for us Scott's Mom was really generous with the "Surprise! We have a puppy at your house!" Shortly after that Scott found out he had been accepted into the CHP Academy, which meant we needed to move anyway because we couldn't swing the rent on his decreased salary while at the academy for six months. Once again being very generous, we moved in with Scott's Mom for the six month period with our puppy, and two cats. I spent that time looking for a suitable house to rent that would allow for our growing family.

Ike was a good boy and a goofy juvenile as he grew into his big head. He typically didn't know his own strength and pulled on the leash like no bodies business. But at the same time he was a super empathetic dog, he didn't like when we argued and he be super sad if he got in trouble. He just wanted to please us. He had a habit of chewing up toys and swallowing them which resulted in one surgery and very close call for a second one. We really wanted to get him a playmate and I fell in love with a puppy at the EBSPCA where I was a volunteer. We brought Ike into meet him, and lets just say he didn't show his best side. He was resourcing guarding food and toys. I remember the Shelter Manager looking at me and explaining that it just wouldn't work. I was devastated, but we wanted to do what was best for Ike. Maybe what was best for him was to be an only dog.

I continued volunteering at the SPCA and one day at work before the 4th of July holiday I got a call from the Volunteer Manager, asking if I could emergency foster a 3 legged puppy who was recovering from her surgery after having her leg amputated. I had fostered little puppies once before and it was a nightmare. I kept them in the bathtub to keep the mess contained (they were Chihuahua mixes, so they were small) but they were stinky and high maintenance. We said we were never fostering after that. But it was right before a holiday weekend and I figured "how much trouble could a 3 legged dog be).

This little girl was so sweet and so thankful for being out of the shelter. Much to our amazement, Ike was incredible with her. His empathy really came into play. He knew she was recovering and that she was special because she only had three legs. He was so gently with her, it really amazed me. We were schedule to foster her for three weeks, but after two weeks they called me and said they felt she was ready to come back to the shelter and be adopted. Scott was out of town when I told him the news. We were really worried about who she would be adopted to. It was obvious to us that her surgery hadn't gone as well as it could and that she would likely need one more surgery in her lifetime. We were really worried that someone would not do this for her because of the expense. When I spoke to Scott about bringing her back to the shelter he asked if we could keep her a few more days so that he get home and say goodbye to her. That was it, if he needed to say goodbye, we needed to keep her. It was a done deal and we turned into failed foster parents and officially adopted Tacoma.

These two became the best of friends. Tacoma didn't like toys so that suited Ike just fine. Even though she would occasionally steal a new toy from just because she was that bratty sister, he never growled at her. Eventually she grew tired of the toy and he would get it back. We always fed them separately so there would be no squabbles over food. Like toys, Tacoma has never been food driven like Ike, so that worked out well for their relationship.

Mostly Tacoma would herd Ike and nip at his back legs. He used to get little sores on his legs from where she would nip him, but he never let it bother him. Play was always on her terms, she would frequently put her one front paw up on his back to engage him play, but she trusted him so much not to hurt her or play too rough. Tacoma was your typical bratty sister, if Ike was where she wanted to be, she would just lay on top of him until he moved.

People always thought they were actual litter mates because they had the same brindle coloring, but Ike was a pit/boxer mix and Tacoma is a whippet mixed with some sort of herding breed.

In February Ike developed some eye issue where there appeared to be pressure on his eyeball. We brought him, tried some various meds but couldn't really figure out what was wrong. In my heart, I knew that 2013 would be his last year with us. While the eye seemed to improve, I noticed that it seemed like he was losing some hearing, or just specifically ignoring me, either was really a possibility. In August when we came back from a vacation, we noticed a lump on his throat, it felt like half of a tennis ball. We brought him back in a biopsied the outer tissue. the results came back inconclusive but suspicious. I had a sinking suspicion that was related to his eye issue earlier in the year and perhaps even his hearing. We had three options, none of which seemed like great options. One was to send him to a specialist, two was to put him under and do another biopsy at our vets office, three was to try meds that would hopefully reduce the tumor in size. Surgically removing it was not an option because of it's size and location, even biopsy was a risk because of it's location on the jugular and even just the anesthesia was risky. We ruled out a specialist because I knew I would not do chemo or radiation for him. Hus quality of life was the most important thing to me, and I felt putting him though that would quickly lesson his quality of life and probably not save him. The biopsy seemed to risky, I didn't want to loose him on the operating table. We opted for the meds, after a couple of weeks it was evident that the meds weren't making a difference. The tumor had basically doubled in size. Our vet agreed that the best thing to do was make him as comfortable and as happy as we could until it was time to say goodbye.

We spent a lot of time talking to he kids about what it all meant and trying to prepare them for hi s loss. He was treated to steak and banana pancakes every weekend until we had to switch him to a canned diet to keep his food down. Tacoma slept by his side everyday. As he slowly lost his vision, he finally got his payback to his little sister by laying on top of her because he couldn't see her.

Saying goodbye was the hardest thing we have ever done. I was with him to the end, he wagged his tail and gave me kisses as I said goodbye.

Life has not been the same without him but we are all making adjustments and giving lots of extra love to Tacoma. Pets bring us so much happiness and love, the hardest part is having to let them go. I wish we had more time together but I'm so thankful for the life we lived together.

His first trip to Lake Tahoe

Tacoma chewing on Ike's scarf trying to get him to play

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More discounts!

The folks at Corrigan Sports are upping their game! If you register for the Foster City 10 Miler or 5k by December 24th they will send you a $20 discount code for the Oakland Running Festival Marathon, 1/2 Marathon or four person relay for the Marathon.

Plus you get to use my code "YOX" which gives you 10% off your entry in the Foster City race. I don't think it gets any better than that!

This is my favorite time of the year to run. My running buddy and I braved the icy roads this morning as we start to increase our mileage for 1/2 marathon training next week!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Foster City 10 Miler Discount Code

Just a reminder that there is a price increase tomorrow for the Foster City 10 Miler or 5k race. So if you resister tonight it's $60 for the 10 miler and $35 for the 5k plus use my promo code YOX to get an additional 10% off the race entry fee!

Register tonight to get the best price!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

San Francisco Mermaid Series 5k Race Report

Pretty much the last smile on course before it got painful

Between the Oregon/Stanford game and impending attempt at a sub 30 minute 5k, I spent the entire first full week of November sick to my stomach. I was a bundle of nerves and Oregon losing to Stanford only made me sick to my stomach and sad.

I had a couple of goals this year in terms of athletic accomplishments. One of them was to continue in the sport of triathlon and hopefully earn some PR's. I've realized that's pretty hard to evaluate in terms of triathlon since every course is different. Some sprint races are 400 meter swims, some are 400 yard some swims, some are open water and some are pool swims. While that goal was a little more difficult to judge, the one steadfast goal I had for 2013 was to earn a sub 30 minute 5k. I found my self frustrated most of the year, since tri training didn't allow me much time to work on run speed. After my last tri in October I vowed to work on running and getting faster.

The Mermaid Run was my target race to accomplish this goal. The course is flat, I have run it several times and if I wasn't able to achieve it there, I would still have couple of more opportunities before the end of the year. 11 seconds, that's what I needed to shave off of my best 5k time in order to go sub 30. 11 seconds doesn't sound like a lot, but it feel like an insurmountable amount of time when you look at the average pace difference per mile. I knew the pace I would need to maintain over the 3.1 miles to shave off those seconds and I also knew it would hurt.

Come race morning I showed up early to get my bib, say hi to friends and get a warm-up in prior to the 5k start. I spotted Heidi of Mermaid Series and went over to say hello before she got too busy announcing. This is the first year in about 3 years that I have run this race without a group of girls from Mini-Mermaid Running Club, so it was weird to be here with my own personal goals. I told Heidi my goal and when she asked how I felt about it my response was full of self doubt. To which Heidi gave me this look and asked me the question again. This time I responded "Yes, I'm going to do it".

I got in line for the race early. I know that there were thousands of mermaids racing today as well as a bunch of mini mermaids, I wanted to run my own race and not get frustrated dodging other runners. I wasn't that jerk who lined up right at the front but I was the jerk who lined up a couple of rows behind the start line. While I'm trying to stay warm Heidi announces over the loud speaker that my goal for the day is to go sub 30. I look at her and start shaking my head "Nooooo, don't tell everyone!" She laughs, she knows  she is holding me accountable for my goals by telling everyone what they are. Shortly after that, she sent us off to earn our goals.

The first mile felt great. I was very conscious of my pace and running my own race. I needed to be focused on me and not worry about others around me. I had lined myself up well and was able to pretty much run my own line without interference. The first mile went great. After the one mile marker I started to think about trying to run the most direct line I could so that I would not over the run the course and miss my goal because of that. I did my best, but they had us on the street, on the path, back into the parking lot, I was trying to be really careful.

I blasted past the aid station, I didn't need water and slowing down to take some could also cost me my goal. I know it sounds crazy, but we are talking seconds and I didn't want to be short of my goal by 2 seconds. I was ecstatic to see the turn around. Halfway there! My pace was good but I could tell that I was running the course slightly long. There was a lot of motivational self talk going on. I knew I couldn't slow down, I had to maintain my pace, I kept telling myself that. I didn't need to run faster but I did need to maintain. Around mile two was when the pain really started to kick in. "You knew it was going to hurt" I told myself. "Heidi told everyone your goal, you can't not achieve it!" What I really kept repeating over and over was "Do it for Sydney and Kylie." Sydney would later ask me why I said this to myself and I tried to explain to the best of my ability that I never ask them to do anything that I myself would not do. So when I tell them to work hard at practice if they want to pop their times, I have to do the same thing.

 With about half a mile to go my form was terrible, I sounded liked I was dying (yes I could hear myself over my music and it was that bad) but my pace stayed on track. As we approached the finish line chute (which wraps all around the expo and seems unbearably long) I started to sprint. This was it, it was all or nothing, I knew that if I didn't sprint here I would not make my goal. I must have passed 7 or 8 people in the chute who misjudged my determination. As I crossed the finish line and tried not to puke on the nice volunteers I glanced at my watch and saw 29:54. I wanted to cry but I was desperate to find out my official time. It was my official time that counted and I refused to celebrate until I was certain I had reached my goal. Thankfully my prayers were answered when I received a text message with my official race time of 29:54!

I wanted to cry, I wanted to jump from the rooftops and sing, I wanted to curl up in the grass and catch my breath. It's hard to put into words how badly I wanted this and how scared I was to try and go after it. I know I have said it before but I feel like most of us don't set hard goals for fear of failure. I don't think I was ever more afraid of failure as I was in the days coming up to this race. Part of me is still in awe that I got out of my head long enough to just do it and not listen to the doubts.

I guess that means I'll have to come up with new goals for next year, gasp!

Official stats

3.14 miles in 29:54 (I did run it long)
15/111 AG

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nor Cal 10-Miler Series

Join me on January 12, 2014 for the inaugural Nor Cal 10 Miler Series in Foster City. The folks at Corrigan Sports (Oakland Running Festival) are launching a series of three races in Northern California for 2014, if you do all three you'll earn a commemorative medal to mark your accomplishment.

Corrigan Sports has selected three bay area cities along the historic Route 101 to host the series. Foster City will host the first event, the second event will be in the North Bay in May and the third event will be in the South Bay in August.

You can choose from either the 10 mile distance or the 5k. I will be running the 5k so come out and join me!

Prices increase on December 1st, but all of my loyal readers can receive a 10% discount by using the code "YOX".

If you have run the ORF then you know what a great race the folks at Corrigan put on, you can count on great runner amenities, awesome race premium that you will want to wear and a great post race party.

I hope to see you out there!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

MVP Swimathon

As we were nearing the end of the kids fall swimming season I wanted to have a party or do something fun to mark the last day of practice for the kids. We had roughly 40 kids who swam the beautiful fall season at Moraga Valley Pool. In the past we've never done anything to mark the end of the season and it seemed like we should celebrate the efforts of our children who loyally swam every day after school through November. Another parent suggested the idea of a swimathon, so off I went to plan something on a whim.

MVP alum and Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Petri has been a long time supporter of our pool and community. One of the fabulous organizations that she serves as an ambassador for is Right to Play. I reached out to the folks in the San Francisco office and told them about my idea to have a swimathon and that we would like to have Right to Play be our beneficiary. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they responded to me and how excited they were for our event. They arranged a conference call for us to chat and work out logistics of setting up fundraising pages and to make sure I had everything I needed to move forward.

I really had no idea how the event would be received or if we would manage to raise any money for such a great organization, but I had high hopes that it would be fun for the kids and in the end we could make some sort of positive impact for all involved.

Yesterday at 3:45 pm the kids and parents started to arrive and it looked like it was going to be a great turn-out.
Heather talking to swimmers about Right to Play and their mission

Our swimmers

Getting ready on deck
Swimmers at the wall
Mixing it up with some breaststroke
Hamming it up for the camera

Sisters circle swimming 
Olympians get pool side service of snacks 

How many more do I have to swim to win the candy?

Coaches and masters swimmers also enjoy pool side service

At the end of the night I was so thankful for our MVP community of swimmers who came out and swam over 2500 laps to raise money for a great cause. Thank you to all of our friends and family who helped us raise over $700! Many thanks to Heather Petri for swimming with and cheering on all of our swimmers to help everyone meet their goals.

I am so lucky to be part of such a great community of families at Moraga Valley Pool!

Final stats for the Yox girls:

Sydney - 134 laps for 3350 yards
Kylie - 66 laps for 1650 yards
Meredith - 100 laps for 2500 yards

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lafayette Reservoir Run

The last time I did this run was in 2009, which was the first year I started running. It is a great local event but it seems like every year I'm just too busy to run it. It was a last minute decision to even run it, but I decided we had nothing going on that morning and I could use some practice with the 5k distance. Normally I run about 8 5k's a year and since I started focusing on triathlon I haven't gotten anywhere near that number this year.

It was a very cold morning but I knew I wouldn't want to run in long sleeves so I had stand around for about 45 minutes shivering and trying to stay warm prior to the 5k start. There were so many kids it was crazy. I tried to remind myself not to get frustrated and just have fun. I knew I would take the first half of the run slow as it's a gradual uphill until you hit the turn-around and then you get to enjoy the gradual downhill on the way back. There is no timing mat at the start of this race (see my boo-hoo face here) so I tried to get as close to the front as possible without being an asshole since I wouldn't be running a six minute mile. I hit the start button on my watch as soon as the horn sounded and I had no idea where the official start line was since it wasn't marked. I kept to the left side all of the run and carefully maneuvered around kids (I'm getting better at this). At one point a boy veered in front of me and his Mom told him to run a straight line, I wanted to hug her, but that would probably be inappropriate. A little further on there were three girls who were running three wide with a father behind them. He saw me coming and asked the girls to move over so I could pass. Score another point for the responsible parents teaching their kids excellent race manners!

I was never so happy to see the turn-around because that  mean downhill! Not a huge downhill but just enough to to pick up the pace and make it feel not horrible. I focused on holding good running form and a steady pace. I was super stoked to be able to see the finish line as we made our way back down Mt. Diablo. I had a couple of options. One was to let my watch run until I hit the finish line, which would end up being long since I started my watch at the horn and not at a start line. The second option was to stop my watch at the 3.1 mark to see how well I ran the actual 5k distance. Knowing I was running some extra distance I stopped my watch at the 3.1 distance and continued to sprint to the finish line. The race clock said 30:20 as I crossed, my watch said 30:10 for the 3.1 distance. That was a nice surprise, my best 5k time is 30:10 from the Oakland Running Festival in March. Somehow my official race time is 30:28, not sure how they came up with the extra 8 seconds, but whatever. It was a very good run for me and I was very pleased.
Two more weeks and I get to run the Mermaid Run SF. It has been a long time since I have run this race without a group of mini-mermaids, so I'm looking forward to it!

11/31 AG
3:58 course PR

Friday, October 25, 2013


I am supposed to be focused on running right now, and I'm doing my best to do that, but I'm having so much fun swimming!

I've always been a loner athlete. I love working out by myself, it is sometimes the only chance that I get to be alone with my thoughts. Never in a million years did I think I would get so much out of a group workout, but I love masters swimming. Granted, there are never more than 7 or 8 of us and I typically always have a lane to myself but it has been really beneficial. Not only have I started swimming all four strokes but yesterday I had the chance to do timed swims and learn how to dive off of the blocks. I think part of the reason I love running so much are those endorphin's you get after a run, it makes the pain and suffering all worth it. I've never experienced those with swimming or cycling. But yesterday, I did.

The nice thing about swimming a timed 50 is that you can go all out, there is no pacing yourself for a longer swim or pacing yourself for a bike and run after your swim. I really enjoyed the timed swims, even though I thought I was going to hurl afterwards. It turns out those short sprints, I want to hurl feeling bring on the endorphin's!

I am relieved to report that I swam 50 yards of freestyle of faster than my 8 year old. Although that may not last long as she has a meet coming up. It also turns out that my 50 yards of breaststroke is nearly as fast as my freestyle. Coach wants to time me on 100 of freestyle next time to better gauge what I'm capable of for a 400, since that is what I swim most in the triathlon swim leg.

This weekend I'm running the Lafayette Reservoir Run, a fun community event. So don't worry, I'm getting my running in!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

See Jane Run Tri

Always a beautiful sunrise at Shadow Cliffs

The last triathlon of the season made me remember why I like triathlon. I didn't have any goals for this race given my shoulder injury, other than to cross the finish line and not damage my shoulder any further. So it was basically a great day considering i did all of those things and more.

I opted to go without a wet suit for this race. I knew the water would be warm enough, I felt confident enough in my swimming to now that I didn't need the extra flotation and I didn't want to tweak my shoulder trying to get in or out of the wet suit. That turned out to be a great idea since the water was really nice and warmer than the air temperature.

When I arrived at transition I set up in the dark in the same spot we had last year which was right next to the bike out/in and the run out. Only I didn't notice in the dark that this year it was only the bike in and the bike out was clear at the other end of transition along with the swim in. Mary Sue pointed this out once the sun came up. Transition was much longer this year so that would mean more distance to cover running through transition for T1 but I would be in a great spot for a fast T2. I didn't worry about it, especially since my largest concern for the day was my shoulder holding up on the bike. The funny part about this race is that it attracts a lot of newbies so all of a sudden that makes me an expert because a, I've done this race before and b, this was my 4th tri. It makes me giggle but I was happy to answer questions and help any first timers. As we started to wander over to the water for a quick warm up a woman approached us and asked if either of us had an extra set of goggles. Of course I did, I always carry an extra set in case one breaks. So I headed back to transition and grabbed the extra set. It was nice to help out someone else on race day and she was very grateful for the loan.

Once we hit the water, I jumped right in, it felt great, so I knew the decision to leave the wet suit at home had been a smart one. I watched the two heats n front of me head out in all of the race day excitement. Last year I had been so nervous about the swim that I lined up towards the back and to the right to stay clear of the faster swimmers. In hindsight that had not been a great idea because there weren't that many super fast swimmers. I got caught up with people doing backstroke and used a lot of extra energy trying to figure out how to get around people. This year I lined up in front and to the left (basically as close to the first turn buoy as I could get). As I waited for out start I watched two women get towed back to shore by lifeguards. This made me sad, to think that their day was over before it had even really started. I reminded myself that I was strong swimmer and not to let the sight of that freak me out. After a quick pep talk we were off. I felt great, my sighting was great and my breathing was going well. But damn if there wasn't a woman next to me doing backstroke! The funny thing is, it appeared that this was her race strategy. Last year the women who were doing it, were doing it because they were tired. This woman looked very confident doing backstroke for the entire swim. I wondered how that would work out for her at the turn buoy and cruised past her. As I made the first I still felt great, the shoulder felt great and I could really feel the difference in my kicking. All of that kicking in masters when I couldn't my use my arms was really paying off. Before I knew it I was approaching land and passing people who decided to start walking through the water (thanks Molly for teaching me to swim until my hands are grabbing the bottom). As I excited the water I started jogging up to transition and removed my cap and goggles and passed a few women who were walking. As I corseted the transition mat I did a little jump for joy when I saw my time! I had shaved 1:34 off of the swim from last year.

I ran through the long transition, put on my shoes, helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and ran through the long transition again. At the mount line I mounted the bike pretty well considering how nervous I was about getting on and off the bike with the new set-up and a 3 cm raised seat. Up the hill and out onto the course. I passed a few people as I tried to settle into the bike and take in some nutrition. I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to open my ziplock bag with my chews in it before the race started. So I struggled for a little bit trying to get to those suckers, but eventually I did. As was the case last year, the bike was cut short to 8.5 miles. I felt like that would be my saving grace on the bike considering how little saddle time I had due to the injury. I wasn't looking to do anything special other than not hurt myself and still have something left for the run. I was passed by a lot of people on the bike course, but I tried to not let it get me down and reminded myself that I had only been on the bike twice prior to the race. The miles ticked a way and as I approached the park I could see runners. Um, I guess they changed the run course this year. I don't remember them mentioning the course had changed, otherwise I probably would have looked at the map. I assumed this also meant that the run course would really be a 5k this year, since last year it was only 2.5 miles. Oh well. i headed down the hill into the park and dismounted without crashing (another win!).

I swapped out my shoes, grabbed my race belt, visor and Gu and headed out on the run. The glorious part about my physical therapy taping my back for posture was that it insured that I could not slouch on the run, this really helped quite a bit. i walked the uphill portions and found a nice steady pace for the flats. Lots of great cheerleaders along the course and I tried to thank them all. There was also lots of great energy from all the women racing. Lots of high-fives and way to go's. This is part of the reason why I love all women events. On one of the last uphill portions my knee started to cramp, right int eh same area that it has on every multi-sport event this year. I'm still attributing it lack of bike training and lack of brick training since I wasn't allowed to do any brick training this time around. Last year I was teary eyed crossing the finish line of my first triathlon. This year I was grateful to be able to race and cross the finish line with what I felt like was a strong finish with all things considered.

Swim 9:43 19/57 AG (-1.34)
T1: 2:17 10/57 AG (-.04)
Bike 37:05 37/57  AG (+2.14)
T2: :41 4/57 AG (-.32)
Run 33:11 24/57 AG (+2.31)

Overall: 1:23:52 26/57 AG (+2.53)

I am super happy with the day I had. I made a huge improvement on the swim and also took times off both transitions. Fourth fastest T2 in my age group! I knew I would add time to the bike with the lack of training, and while I added time to the run the course was also over a half mile longer than last year. This was a great way for me to end the triathlon season and is encouraging news for next year. Especially since I shouldn't hate my bike so much now that I have a proper fit.

Now to focus on running!
Thank you TriSports for your support! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race week and the bike

The dreaded bike. One day I will be awesome on the bike, until then it's baby steps. I still owe a post on my bike fit, which I will get to after this weekend's race. the details are all pretty cool but because of my injury I haven't been able to fully reap the benefits of the new fit, so I've been holding of on posting about it.

When I started training for this race I had been off the bike all summer playing sherpa to my two little swimmers. So when I got on the bike it was evident that my body and my bike were done with each other. Two weeks in I was in so much pain that I had to stop all training and scheduled an emergency bike fit. After the fit I was excited and nervous to try it out (we raised my seat 3cm) and return to training. I may have been a little too excited and didn't really give my body the time it needed to heal from the terrible position I had put my body through while riding a poorly fitted bike for so long.

Wednesday, following my bike fit I started masters. I was so excited that our pool and my daughter's coach had decided to offer a masters program for the fall and that it was geared to all of us mom's who couldn't get to the pool until 9am. I jumped in full steam and was super excited to be adding yardage to my swims. That's when my body said no more. Having not fully recovered from the back and neck strain of my poor bike fit and increasing my swimming equaled total body failure. I woke up one Saturday morning in so much pain that I took myself to the urgent care. I knew they wouldn't be able to do much for me but I wanted an rx for physical therapy so I could work on repairing my body and continue to train. They also gave me some muscle relaxers to get those muscles to stop spasming at the constant rate that they were. It took about 5 days for the worst of it to pass. We're talking child birth levels of pain and absolutely no way to get comfortable enough in bed to sleep at night.

Sadly my trusted physical therapist has moved and practices in Santa Cruz now. I had to go blindly into PT and hope that I would find someone as knowledgeable as her, but based on everyone's bios I wasn't sure that would be the case. I was asked to not do any activity for 3 days (the horror) which I accepted. It was better to take the time early on then to be in a position where I wouldn't be able to race on race day. When I came back after those three days they asked me to stay off the bike and not swim for 3 more days. I was sulking a little bit but I followed orders. Running seemed to be okay as long as when I got fatigued I remembered to keep my shoulders back and down. When I returned to the pool I kept the yards low and stuck to only kicking, which is entirely miserable for someone who is a puller. I tried to look at it from the prospective of it would make me a better swimmer in the long run. Eventually I added breaststroke to the kicking and even tried some butterfly kicking. The hard part is that holding a kick board is only comfortable for so long, so I had to experiment with different ways of holding the board and not using it at all. Eventually I broke out the fins to help with all of the kicking and then developed blisters on my feet from using those so much of the time. Some days it feels like you just can't win.

Slowly I started adding in some freestyle to test it out. As long as I kept it minimal I seemed to do okay. While I was gaining more mobility in my neck and the terrible spasms had decreased I just wasn't seeing any improvement. I was finally given the go ahead to try the bike. A week ago Sunday I hopped on my bike (on the trainer) to give it a shot. It was miserable, it hurt so bad that I was only able to ride for 10 minutes. I was devastated and running out of options.

I decided to see my sports massage therapist. I felt like my back was still in knots and we just weren't being aggressive enough to work those out in physical therapy. I spent 30 minutes having my back, shoulders and neck tortured. Afterwards, I was sore, but I felt good, I felt like in a couple of days there would be a huge payoff. She said my entire back, shoulders and neck were still really inflamed, but that in a couple of days the tissues should start to repair and it should start to feel better. The next day I hit the pool, which was not one of my best ideas. While she had for sure released a lot of those muscles and I was actually able to lay normally at night and sleep without pain, I think swimming so soon aggravated the most tender spot on my shoulder. I knew though, that I was headed in the right direction. I visited the PT the next day and after I left immediately felt like she had made it worse. Argh.

By Saturday morning I was super depressed and for the first time ever had to consider the idea I may not be able to race. While this is not a super important race for me, I still knew it would make me really sad to have a DNS. I had asked my PT about taping the shoulder but taping isn't anything that she specializes in or has much knowledge of. I knew I had to take things into my own hands if I was going to have a shot at showing up race day. I got out my rock tape and taped up my shoulder. I got on the bike and set out to ride for 30 minutes, which I did. I felt triumphant for sure. Saturday's bike portion will only be a little over 8 miles due to construction so I'm feeling confident that my body will hold up for the shortened bike portion.

On Monday a different PT taped my back for posture. Mostly to insure that I don't fall into a slouched position due to fatigue and cause more pain. I tested it on the swim, bike and run this week and it doesn't seem to hinder anything (we were mostly worried about positioning on the bike) so I'll return on Friday to get re-tapped for Saturday's race.

What a roller coaster. I'm excited to race on Saturday and while I know the bike is going to be tough and I haven't trained in the manner that I had planned, I'm thrilled to actually be able to race and get my last triathlon in of the year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's ROC 5k

My favorite annual run. This past Sunday was my fourth year running this race. Over the years the name has changed, and the beneficiary has changed but it always remains a run for ovarian cancer education and the same daunting flat course.

How could a flat course be daunting you ask? Well that's because traditionally this run starts at 5:30pm, in Sacramento, in September. This race is always stupid hot. The kind of stupid hot where you feel like you have cotton balls in your mouth, the kind of stupid hot where you actually have to take water at both aid stations for a 5k distance. I love this race but it's also always the hardest 5k I run every year because of the weather.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered they moved this race to a Sunday morning. It must have made a lot of other folks excited as well, because this year was their biggest with 1300 registered runners.

I've been slightly sidelined the past several weeks as I endured a shoulder/neck injury. Mostly due to a really poor bike fit (I got a great new bike fit - I'll include that in another post) and my sudden fondness of swimming and starting a masters program. I'm working hard (or hardly working as it sometimes feels) to rehabilitate and train for my last tri of the season. So that means physical therapy twice a week, a bunch of neck stretches everyday and reducing my swim and biking.

I have a goal this year of running a sub 30 minute 5k. I know it's attainable but I've been so focused on triathlon this year that I haven't had much time to work on that goal. I knew it would be something I would focus on for the end of the year but I'm so not the patient type.

While I was not certain I could achieve that goal this weekend I figured I might as well try!

When I arrived to the race site at 7:30am it seemed cold, I had on a fleece jacket and was hopeful that the cold morning air would help me not overheat and be able to run a faster pace than what I typically do at this race. About 2 minutes into  the run it was apparent that the course was still hot even at this time in the morning.  There were no clouds and it was warming up quickly in Sacramento. As I obnoxiously stared at my watch my pace was too fast out of the gate and I kept trying to slow down, which  seemed like an impossible task. About a half mile in I managed to stay at my goal pace and was feeling pretty good. Mile one down and my pace was great. I was however hot and my heart rate zone was much higher than I wanted it to be. Which probably took a larger mental toll than it should have. I was fatigued. While my legs were happy and could have carried me on much further my lungs and heart rate were telling me a different story.

Mile two was not terrible but not the pace I needed to be averaging to go sub 30. I don't need the sub 30 today, I know I can get it this year I kept telling myself. How many times have I watched my kids try to beat a swim time and not get it. It takes lots of effort and some failed attempts, but I'll earn it eventually.

Mile three basically sucked ass. I took more water in at the second aid station and tried to just keep pushing through the pain. Once I could finally see the finish line I looked down and saw that the time was about 29:30, realizing I was still under 30 minutes, I thought maybe I could get it (but in the back of my mind doing the math realizing there was still too much ground to cover) so I started sprinting. Very quickly I was introduced to the wall. Oh hell no, you can't sprint that long said my body. So I slowed down and crossed the finish line at 30:41.

Not my best time but a really solid 5k run for me. The proudest point was that I shaved 4 minutes off of last years time. Much of this can be chalked up to the change in the time of day that race is being run, but it still felt pretty good to earn a course PR that big.

I'm looking forward to completing my last tri of the season and to return my focus to running. This race made me realize how much i love running and how much I missed racing in the 5k distance this year.

19/77 AG
243/1030 OA

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bad blogger

Have I really not blogged anything all summer?

I guess that's because we were super busy having fun and the kids were home which makes typing out cohesive sentences nearly impossible.

Here is what our summer looked like.

And in between that there was some of this.

We're back in the full swing of school and fall swimming, Which means back to training for me. I've been sidelined by an injury but I'm doing PT and anxious to get back at it!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mermaid Series Sprint Tri

I have been lagging in writing a race report. I was waiting for photos and I finally got some. Instead of boring you with another recount of race day, I'll just let this be a visual race report.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I've been a bad blogger, but the good news is it's because I'm busy being a good Mom, I hope.

As for most with children, the past month has been a whirlwind of end of school events, pre-season swim team practice and for us squeezing in Mini Mermaid Running Club. I have been so excited for summer vacation to start, until I realized I am more tired after our first week of vacation than I was in the end of school madness.

We started out our first weekend of summer with the fabulous folks at Mermaid Series. Friday night, I volunteered at packet pick-up, Saturday night we ran or rather walked the 5k with the girls and Sunday morning I completed the sprint triathlon.

I was very worried with the high temperatures on Saturday about the girls running a 5k. Lucky for us it was about 30 degrees cooler in Alameda than it was at our house. Not so lucky for us was that Sydney had a fever and a headache. She decided to go and give it a shot anyway. I told her no pressure, it should be fun and she could walk if she needed to. With this being Kylie's first 5k, I figured there would be lots of walking anyway.

They were all smiles before we started. As we waited at the start line we danced and had fun. Then we were off. The girls ran the first little bit of the course and then Sydney decided she needed to walk. I have to say, she was miserable, but she really wanted to give it a shot. There were times she wanted to turn around and head back but we just talked the entire time so that she would be distracted from her headache and the fact that she felt lousy. Scott walked with Kylie and she brought up several times the Boston Marathon bombing. We talked a lot about Boston after it happened but haven't talked much about it lately, so it didn't cross my mind that she might be nervous about crossing the finish line.

Sydney and I crossed the line and were welcomed back with cheers by Coach Heidi and Coach Meagan. I was super proud of Sydney for preserving and finishing on a day when she didn't feel well.

When it was Kylie's turn to finish, I thought she was being shy about hearing her name on the loudspeaker. For as outgoing as she is, she does have moments of shyness. I went out to run in with her only to find her in tears. She was really scared to the cross the finish line. I picked her up, gave her a big bear hug and we ran in together.

She seemed to get over her fears quickly when she realized there were cupcakes.

It was another great experience with the Mini Mermaid Running Club and the girls have even more shwag to add to their collection of mermaid gear.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wolfpack Mother's Day Run

May has been crazy in our house, which is why I am a little slow in writing a race report. I typically like to celebrate my birthday by running a 5k, so this year I figured why not celebrate Mother's Day by running a 5k. There were a ton of great races to choose from, I had a difficult time narrowing down which race I wanted to run. Ultimately I decided on Wolfpack Events Mother's Day Run. This was a new event for them and since all of their races are in my backyard I could hardly resist. I also knew this would be a small crowd. Most of their races are on on the small side but have a really nice feeling of community. When I peeked at the list of registered runners, I was able to see that there were only about five people registered in my age group. This gave me hope that maybe I could win my first age group award.

The night before the race was very unpredictable in my house. I had planned a sensible pre-race meal but my family had other ideas and came home with Chinese food for dinner. I even had a Mike's Hard Lemonade. I got a look from my husband that said "what the hell?" I never, ever have alcohol the night before a race. I explained that I wasn't expecting to do anything spectacular the next morning. I've been exhausted ever since the Moraga Triathlon. I've barely been able to keep up with my training and had even been fearful of running or pushing it hard after all that severe cramping I experienced. I knew I was in no shape to go out and earn a PR on an unfamiliar course. Thus, the Mike's and Chinese food. The course description said the 5k was all paved straight out and back. Notice it said, straight, not flat. At the least I was expecting some hills.

Race morning arrived and it was weird to not have to be up super early, but that's the bonus of racing a small, close to home event. I arrived at the race site only to find a set of steep stairs between me and the start line. I didn't think much of it as I headed down to collect my bib and t-shirt. As usual San Pablo Dam Reservoir is beautiful in the morning. The issue would come as I had to hike back up those stairs before the start of the race to put my t-shirt and goodies in the car. Ouch!

There is only one timing mat which is at the finish line with Wolfpack events. I placed myself close to the front of the pack, knowing we would all have the same start time. As we headed out the front of the pack really took off. Strangely, I wasn't getting passed by anyone behind me. The first half mile was downhill so when I looked at my watch and saw I was running a 9:17 minute mile, I just let it be. I knew it would be a sufferfest on the way home so I figured I'd enjoy the fun part while I could. I still hadn't been passed by anyone which seemed odd to me. I wasn't at the front of the pack but clearly I wasn't at the back so I felt good about that. There was an older gentleman in front of me who was wearing a USCG shirt, I tried to just hang with him. Then all of a sudden we hit trail. And by trail I mean rocky, uneven trail. It became a huge effort to just be sure I avoided the largest rocks on the trail. Then the rocky trail turned into uphill rocky trail. Not exactly what I was expecting but I stuck with with. This is the point where I lost the retired Coast Guard runner. As I got close to the turn around I had to slow to a walk. It was hot, dry, rocky and did I mention uphill? I got passed at this point by a woman who appeared to be younger than me. Damn, okay. I grabbed some water at the turn around, drank some and poured the rest over my head and tried to enjoy the downhill section of the trail before I would hit the uphill pavement section again. I was grateful to exit the trail and be back on pavement even if that meant having to run uphill again. I was passed by a few more people who I would later find out were the 5 miler runners who had started ahead of us. I knew the final stretch to the finish line would be flat but the half mile of uphill was taking it's toll. I took another a short walk break before I started running again. Ahead of me I saw the woman that had passed me on the uphill portion of the trail, she was walking. It was so tempting to slow down to a walk behind her and catch my breath. Damn mental games! "You are fine, you don't need to walk!" I told myself. So I passed her and pushed up the hill. As I approached the crest of the hill I looked behind me and saw literally, no one. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought that everyone else was struggling with the course as well. I kicked it in to high gear to sprint to the finish line.

I looked around and seemed sort of surprised that there were not too many people around. I had managed to keep two thirds of the field behind me. I was hoping for maybe 3rd in my age group, so I patiently waited around for results. Wolfpack is awesome about posting results super fast at their races. Sadly, they were having technical difficulties and so we waited around for quite a while to see the results.

I tried to wait for the crowd to dissipate once they finally posted results, I had to look three times because I was sure I was reading it wrong. 1st in my AG! I almost cried (that's not hard to do). I have never placed in my AG, while I've worked on speed over the years and I have seen some great improvements, I'm just not that fast. But on this day I was the fastest of the five women in my AG.  Obviously, I should be racing more Wolfpack races to boost my self esteem :)

As a special Mother's Day treat we all got mugs with coffee and biscotti!

1st in my AG
9th in the women's division
22nd overall

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I left my legs in Canyon

Seriously, I underestimated today's bike. But we all know the bike is my weakest link. Those hills did not look so bad when I drove the course or when I reviewed them in my Garmin Connect account.

I guess I should start at the beginning.

I arrived early and was the second person in transition and since the first person took the most ideal spot, I went with my second choice. I set up and wandered around until more folks arrived. First to arrive was Mary Sue who was doing her first triathlon. It's always a relief to see Mary Sue since we do so many races together. Pretty soon my Del Rey Mom's started arriving and it started to feel like a social event. In all seriousness, the greatest thing about this race was that it was in my backyard and there were so many familiar faces. The one thing that I really love about this adventure is the sense of family when you come to an event, we are all in this together and the sense of family and community was strong today.

The swim was in a pool (yay!) so swimmers were sent off every ten seconds based on the time they provided for the swim. I was starting 155th so I had some time to be cold and watch the other swimmers to get an idea of what I would need to do. I would traverse all 8 lanes in the 50 meter pool, which meant you had to swim under lane lines as we zigzagged through the pool. The nice part about being a slow swimmer and starting 155th is that most of the field had cleared out and there aren't many people there to judge your swim stroke! There were no warm-ups allowed so I did my best to stay warm until I needed to get in line to jump in. That means I kept my fleece on until the last minute to get in line. Jumping in the water never felt so good! I waited for the "go" and then I was off. My goal was to swim comfortably, breathe bilaterally and stay calm. The swim was going to be the easiest leg of the day. So I stayed focus on easy breathing. All was going well until I hit the third lane, all of a sudden we were really jammed up. One male was trying to pass me and we caught up to the swimmers in front of us. They were swimming three wide, the guy trying to pass me and was just swimming next to me was swimming breaststroke because he had no room to pass and I kept swimming into the woman in front of me. We all hit the wall together where I had to basically sit and wait for them to swim under the lane and push off. Um, okay. Then I thought this is bullshit, I'm not going to let these people decide my swim time. As the two of us pressed on I continued to hit the feet of the woman in front of me with my hands, she finally stopped turned around and gave me a dirty look. I think at this point she actually realized they were swimming three wide and not allowing anyone else to make a pass. I found a spot and made a move, I'm a slow swimmer so if you are swimming slower than me you seeded yourself wrong and I have every right to try and get past you. Once I got past her I actually passed the others at the wall. This allowed me to swim the last 2 lanes with no hindrance. I even passed the guy who was trying to pass me earlier. Before I knew it it was time to climb out and run to transition. And by run I mean, really run to transition. It was a long run. I got out of the pool in under 10 minutes but my swim time is 10:21 because half of the distance to transition is included in your swim time, the other half is in your T1 time.

The other nice thing about being a slow swimmer is that most of the field was already out on the bike and transition was easy. I was worried because people racked their bikes all in the same direction and the folks next to me had their towels and gear taking up the entire aisle of transition into the next rack. Thankfully, since they were all out already it wasn't too bad getting out. T1 time 2:08, long for not having a wetsuit, but I also need to remember that some of that was the other half of the run from the pool.

As I made my way to the mount line there were two speed bumps so I ran past one before I mounted and was trying to get clipped in prior to the second speed bump, I had some issues getting clipped in, but I managed to push off and clip in once over the second speed bump. As I hit the road iItried to think about when I would take in nutrition, there would be a lot of ups and downs and some intersections to navigate at the beginning. I ate a couple of chews at the start and got some water in after I cleared the intersections. I spotted my friend Stephanie from a distance, or I spotted her dog Gilbert first and then yelled out to her as I approached. It always helps to see a friendly face along the way. As I made my way into Canyon I tried to just get comfortable. Lots of ups and downs and lots of shifting gears. As I  started my first decent climb a huge sense of relief washed over me as I crested and prepared for a downhill. That is until I looked over and saw the hill that the folks ahead of me were climbing on the return out of Canyon. Holy hell, I think I may have shed a tear at this point. I had to use my granny gear on that first hill, and the return climb was longer. I thought to myself, I'm going to have to walk that. There is no way I can ride up that, what am I going to do. I tried to put it to the back of my mind. the rest of the way out to Canyon and at the turn around I focused on riding easy so that I would have something for that hill. That planned work as I actually made it up the hill and without tears. A huge sense of relief rushed over me as I felt the worst was over. I did still have a bit of biking to do (that was only half). Let's just say I wasn't too stoked to do more climbing on the second portion of the bike. At one point I looked at a volunteer and begged for no more hills. My legs were toast and I had serious doubts that I had anything left for the hilly run that was too come. The remaining part of the ride along Moraga Road seemed to take forever. Especially the last mile, I wanted off the bike incredibly bad, my legs were so sore. As I made the left hand turn into the school I attempted to navigate those speed bumps again and unclip. Bike time was 1:07:26, seven minutes slower than I had hoped for.

You can see me unclipping here and hoping I don't eat it

Big smile to see Scott and the girls
As I tried to navigate the millions of people wandering around transition (no one watching it to allow athletes only) I racked my bike, changed my shoes and took the time to give kisses to my girls. This is the first race the family has ever come to. Normally, this is Mom time but it was really special to have them there and I wanted to be sure that they knew that! After all, they make lots of sacrifices for me to enjoy this hobby.

And then I was off.
T2 time 1:06, kisses and all.

The first part of the run is flat so that helped, but I knew my legs were not happy with me. I had grabbed my Gu and knew I would be taking it early into the run so I just held onto it. I whimpered a little as I passed the 8-11 year old turn to the finish line, never in my life have I ever wanted to be an 8 year old so bad! As I rose up into the neighborhood, I realized I ran the course backwards on my practice run. Oops, okay that through for me a little loop, but it's all the same right? Still lots of hills. I decided to take in my Gu on the first hill, it was a nice excuse to slow down and walk. I started doing run/walk intervals up the hill, that had been my plan anyway. It was such a sufferfest as I reached the first turnaround point but at least it was going to be downhill for a little bit. That's when it hit me, right at that turn around sign. Cramps. I've heard of people cramping up badly before but I have never experienced anything like this. Oh the pain, and right at the downhill, which seemed so unfair. I worked through it and running downhill seemed to be much better than uphill. I knew that meant I would be walking more of the next hill than running it. As I made the turn for the longest hill on the run I took it as easy as I could. When I tried to run it hurt immensely so I just walked. As I finally made it to the top of the hill I was more than ready to embrace that downhill. Sadly, my body had other things in mind. The pain became so bad and it didn't matter if I was running or walking. I knew this was a result of the bike, but I have never experienced pain like this during a race. I truly felt I would be limping to the finish line or that I might actually just collapse and cross the line all bloody, because I was going to finish no matter how much it hurt. I actually stopped and tried to stretch. That didn't seem to help much but someone offered me some Gu which I knew I didn't need as I had just taken some, I just needed it to kick in! I ran with the woman who kindly offered support and finally the pain started to dissipate. As I made the turn into the parking lot I faced the one last hill on the course before I had to run 3/4 of the way around the track to the finish line. The pain started to kick in again so I walked the hill.

that's when I spotted Scott. He somehow thought that saying "come on, is that all you've got!" would motivate me, so I flipped him the bird.

Once I reached the soft, flat track running again seemed nice.

No longer angry and flipping off people

My kids jumping and taking a second to cheer me on. 
I didn't have much kick left for the finish line but just running on the track was such a huge improvement and I was so happy to be done.

Wearing her Snow Day shirt, love it! 

Run time 35:50, 50 seconds over what I expected, not too bad considering the major cramping that was going on.

Another race logged int he book with my race buddy! 
Overall time was 1:56:53. I was shooting for 1:50 but knew I would be happy with anything under 2 hours. Once again, I need to work on my bike! But I'm happy with how I did on a hilly course and how I continued to dig deep and push and not give up. My mental game prevailed today.

T-minus 6 weeks until the next one.