Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Letter to The Pilot

Dear Pilot,

It's our wedding day. I can hardly believe that it's already here! Our relationship has been such a whirlwind. Even though to the outside world we seemed to move fast, I feel like I've been waiting to meet you my entire life. I was loving life and didn't realize you were missing but deep in my heart, I knew you were out there for me. And when I did meet you, I didn't need more time to know you were my perfect match. Somehow, someway, you just seemed to fit perfectly at my side. I cannot wait for tomorrow because then we will be partners in crime life forever and start out on all of our adventures! I feel complete now and I can't imagine going on all of life's adventures without you. I love you more than the world.

I'll see you this afternoon. I'll be the one in the fancy dress and the biggest smile.

Your Bride

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

4 Days-Part 2

Well, we got that taken care of! We solemnly swore that we were not cousins or under the influence of drugs or alcohol and we can now get married for reals.

Next up on the agenda? Cleaning up some cat vomit (grr), packing a bag and then driving to Pittsburgh to see U2! What a great way to spend my first vacation day with my groom (minus the cat puke of course).

4 Days

We are off to get our marriage license this morning (I realize this is somewhat last minute according to but we didn't want to have to take more time off work to go get it!). That means its getting pretty real now that the state of Ohio knows about it.

Towards the beginning of our wedding planning adventure, we agonized over our registry. We were torn because we really didn't want people to get us gifts (especially household items since we had just combined two households and had duplicates of everything). We also didn't want to end up with some random items that we didn't want so off to Target (and Macy's and we went. We were instructed that putting useful items like toilet paper....

....on the registry was tacky. So we took the toilet paper off but we did leave cat litter, cat food, board games and first aid kits. We don't need any fancy silverware (because I can't seem to act classy even when I'm dressed up, see below) or kitchen gadgets that I'll never use because I'm going to be a terrible wife and never cook real food for my husband (unless cereal for dinner counts). :P Kidding...maybe!!

We have already received lots of great basics so we can upgrade our existing items (goodbye college era bath towels!) and some unique gifts (A lemon tree! THANK YOU, JESSIE!). My friends have already teased me with hints about other gifts...I'm THAT girl that shakes Christmas presents...even though I'm 30.

This has been such an exciting time....but THE best part is that in 4 days, everyone that means the most to us will be in the same place at the same time. I cannot image a greater gift!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Runner's World CelebriCat

Did I tell you that one of my cats is a celebrity? The Runner's World Daily blog featured my kitty cat's photo recently. It's pretty much gone straight to his head already. The next thing I know he's going to be arrested for stealing jewelry and drunk fact, he looks a little hungover in this photo....

We caught this fat cat snoozing on a copy of Runner's World, The Pilot snapped a photo and I couldn't help but be a crazy cat lady and submit it to the magazine. :)

Holy Humidity

So it's been a big sweatfest here in the Midwest. I live under a rock so it may be this way all over the country, I have no idea. All I know is that I hate heat and I hate humidity even worse.

But enough with that negativity. I met the Team on Saturday morning for a 4 mile swim walk. We had to cancel our Thursday night training because of the heat advisory warning (it felt like 110!!) but we meet at 8 am on the weekends so we hit the trail.

We started right at 8 am instead of casually getting started like we usually do. It was too dang hot to be outside any longer than we had to. I wasn't planning on going vary far (I wasn't coaching). I just wanted to get out there and shake out my stress (5 days until the wedding!).

To combine our "mission moment" with the ridonkulous heat, some of our volunteers brought popsicles for after we were all done with our miles. Some of them had the names of our team heroes listed so we don't ever forget the reason we are out there logging the miles. Sure, the heat makes it pretty miserable out there, but that's nothing compared to what cancer patients go through! This was such a great idea!

Go Seth! We are still thinking about you!

I headed out 2 miles and got to catch up with a wonderful friend, Marcia. She is the walk trainer and was leading the practice so she kept heading out to catch up with some of the participants while I turned around to knock out 4 miles. Despite the unrelenting heat, I actually had a decent walk. I even got under 14:00 minutes/mile for the first time since probably my Goofy Challenge training. Unfortunately though, I seem to have aggravated a pain in my a$$ that seems to visit from time to time. I have internet self-diagnosed it as sciatica. My reward was the cold popsicle I devoured when I finished. Popsicles (and ice cream) are a cure-all for all minor ailments if you ask me.

Purple Popsicle! GO TEAM!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Caesar Creek Triathlon Recap

After stuffing my face with pasta the night before the race (with the Pope, no doubt), I had to do a triathlon so I could work off all those calories (I do have a wedding dress to fit into in 9 days after all!).

Short version: I rocked that creek to the best of my abilities! I finished in 2:11:05. End of story.

Long version: (I tend to be long winded and like to share ALL of the nitty gritty details that I can recall so here is that version)

I'm not a morning person. Even if I get plenty of sleep the night before, I do not enjoy the process of waking up. My alarm when off at 4:00...I think The Pilot jumped right out of bed. I, however, hit snooze multiple times and finally got up around 4:15. The morning was spent forcing myself to eat breakfast and checking and double checking my lists (I did NOT want a repeat of my practice tri a few weeks ago) We were on the road by 5:00 am. I drove so I could occupy my brain with driving instead of sitting in the passenger seat with nothing to do other than think about the race. The Pilot rode shot gun and entertained himself by taking pictures of the sunrise through the car mirrors.

We rolled up to Caesar Creek shortly after 6 am and the fussing began. I unloaded the bike and obsessively checked my wheels, brakes and bike computer (remember the computer didn't work last year?!) before heading to the transition to get body marked and to set up up my transition area. Transition set up went fine but I did have a somewhat comical exchange with the poor girl that did the body marking.

Girl: "What is your number?"
Me: "193." She starts for my right arm. "Does it have to be my right arm? I already put sunscreen on that arm. Last year you marked the left arm so I didn't put any sunscreen there."
Girl: "No, it has to be the right arm." Sigh. My number from last year pretty much slid right off my arm when I applied my sunscreen.

I'm about to walk away when the girl stoups down to my leg. Oh! They didn't mark the legs last year.

Girl: "How old are you?"
Me: "30." Ugh.
Girl: "What race are you doing?"
Me: "Sprint."
Girl: "No, which race?"
Me: " I at the wrong state park?"
Girl(clearly annoyed based on the slight teenage eye-roll that I MASTERED 15+ years ago, just ask my mother): "Triathlon or duathlon?"
Me (clearly a rocket scientist): "Oh, triathlon."

And of course The Pilot captured this short exchange.
I set up my transition area (which involved checking my bike computer again) and headed to the Team in Training tent to meet up with my team. Everyone was a complete bundle of nerves and it showed! We were all smiling but there was also a lot of nervous laughter. I'm still a little surprised at how nervous I was. I get nervous before any race, even if I've done the distance before but this felt different. I really think everyone else worrying about me was getting to my head. My friends and family were worried about me racing so close to the wedding. I think my mom was convinced that I was going to crash my bike and knock my teeth out or get road rash all over my face. That's a legitimate concern I supposed but I've never gone into a race feeling like I was in danger until this race!

This is my "Oh my gawd, I'm going to crash and burn on the ride" face.

Our coach encouraged us to do a warm up swim but it seemed like it was taking awhile for everyone to get moving in the same direction. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin! Finally I gave up on waiting for everyone and The Pilot and I headed down to the beach. I'm not kidding you, as soon as I stepped into the lake, I completely relaxed. I waded out until I was about chest-deep and then enjoyed an easy swim out to the first buoy and back. The water was like a giant bath tub! It was so warm! It was still wetsuit legal (barely!) but I didn't even bother bringing my wet suit since I didn't get a chance to train in it and I was counting on the water being warm.

I am an Ironman! Now go get in the water, fools! ;)

Right before the start, we took a team photo.

8:00 am finally rolled around and it was time to get the show started! The sprint distance men headed into the water first and then the sprint distance women were right behind with the Olympic distance athletes following. I'm not sure why I didn't think of this but I was starting out right in the middle of the total field as opposed to the very back like last year when I did the Olympic distance. I didn't actually notice this until I got to the first buoy and the people behind me just keep coming. Last year, I was all alone for the entire first loop until the fast swimmers lapped me. I came into contact with a lot of feet and elbows this year. I just did my best to hold my own, swim straight and to keep my head in the water. This strategy worked for the most part until a beast of a man took a sharp turn into the side of me (what?) and knocked me in the side of the face with his arm. Woah! He knocked my goggles sideways. Luckily I can tread water like no other and I was able to get my goggles straightened out. In hindsight, I'm a little surprised that this didn't rattle me more than it did.

I came out of the water feeling a little winded but overall pretty good. I saw The Pilot right away, waved and then he waved to my brother and sister-in-law to let them know I was coming out of the water. Because I was in the thick of things, no one was able to keep track of me in the water (I guess that was the advantage of being one of the last swimmers last year, I was easy to spot!) I ran up the beach and found more of my cheerleaders. Some of my marathoners training with the TNT fall teams made the trek from C-bus to cheer for me and my teammates! I even ran right past my coach, who didn't see me because he later asked the marathoners if they knew where I was. I finished the swim faster than anyone, including myself, expected. I mentioned in my post the night before the race that I was shooting for a 21:00 minute swim. The time from the start until I got up to the timing mat at the entrance to the transition area: 21:01! YES!!

Thank you, Kim for capturing my smile as I ran out of the water! :)

I ran from the beach up to the transition entrance but as soon as my bare feet hit the parking lot, I was hobbling. :( The older I get and the more I train, the tighter my feet get. I have a heck of a time walking barefoot. And the gravely surface just made it even more painful. I literally hobbled to my rack and prepared for the bike. After seeing my 3:45 T1 time, one would think I was having a picnic in there. That is obviously something I need to work on. I felt like I was moving quickly but I had to rinse my feet off, try to put socks onto damp feet and then balance on my wobbly legs as I got into my cycle shoes. I also had to "run" in my cycle shoes out of transition to get to the bike mount line. I have enough trouble running in running shoes. This was my first race with these cycle shoes so I'm sure I looked pretty wobbly has I headed out of transition. I managed to get on my bike without incident and I was so excited to see I was leaving transition with so many other people! I was all alone by the time I left T1 last year.

Heading out of transition one. Hey, this is fun!
I headed out on the bike. I thought for sure I would start to feel a little panicked when I got the bike but I told myself I was going to give that bike course some hell. I was going to give it everything I had and redeem myself for the craptastic bike rides I had had over the past couple weeks. On a flat surface, without much wind, my cruising speed is a blazing 15 mph (insert sarcasm). Throw in some nasty hills and I want to roll right into a ditch and cry. My goals were to finish the bike in under 68 minutes and actually ride my bike the entire time, no walking up the hills. I made it all the way last year and I could do it again, the recent rides had shaken my confidence though. I got the boost I needed though on the very first major hill.

I was huffing and puffing, going about 5 mph in my granny gear when someone came up from behind me and asked me who Parker and Seth were. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a woman on a crazy fancy/fast triathlon bike. She slowed down and stayed there while I told her. This took some time and effort because my lungs were about to explode from that hill. But you know what, the distraction worked perfectly. I forgot how much it hurt, I got to the top and I got to share Parker and Seth's stories (the abbreviated versions obviously). The woman wished me luck and sped off. She was a complete stranger but she set the tone for the rest of my race. Parker and Seth were with me for the rest of the race. At least two other people mentioned my shirt on the ride alone!

I pedaled as hard as I could for the entire course. I recognize that I am slow and was barely moving up the hills but I felt like I was just attacking those hills! It was only on the last really hard climb did I doubt if I was going to make it without walking. I was in my granny gear again, plugging away, swerving all over the place when I could hear someone huffing and puffing behind me. Needing some encouragement myself, I just started to talk out loud. 'We're going to make it! We are going to get to the top of this hill without walking." I heard a very weak "Yes, we are" from my left side. A girl was slowly gaining on me. Just as we were about to make it to the top, she passed me and I caught a glimpse of her age on her leg. 15. What? I just got passed on a hill by a girl half my age. Part of me was thinking how awesome it was for a 15 year old to be doing a triathlon. Another part of me really didn't want to get beat by someone half my age. I wanted to take her down (in the nicest, most sportsman-like way of course). She had me on the few remaining hills but I was able to catch up and pass her on each downhill. We ended up coming into the transition area at the same time. I was able to dismount a little faster and ran into transition 2. My time for the bike you ask? Remember that 68 minute goal? I headed into transition 2 in 1:03:04! I felt so relieved that not only did I not crash and burn but I beat my goal by 5 minutes!

I knew I had beat my goal as I came down the hill into transition...
I don't always just smile while riding my bike.

I felt so strong coming off the bike. My heart rate was up so I slowed down in transition to let my heart rate come down before heading out for what I think is the hardest part of the race. My T2 time wasn't as bad at T1. I changed shoes, applied more sunscreen, ate a Shot Bloc and came out of T2 in 2:31.

My entourage had spread themselves out all over the transition area. I could hear them everywhere I went! Some were are the bike dismount line, some were yelling as I was in transition and there were more as I left T2. My favorite was my brother running up to me as I left the transition, carrying a folding chair, asking if I wanted to rest yet. If I had the energy, I might have smacked him. Just past him, I saw The Pilot running ahead to take pictures and then there was Lisa. Lisa is a run trainer with TNT and her energy amazes me. She did a brick workout with me awhile back and she knows just the right things to say to keep people moving! And she did just that on race day. As I headed out for the 3.1 mile run, she ran with me and told me how relaxed I looked. I don't think anyone has ever said that to me before (probably because I always look like I'm about to die during training/races) but it was the perfect thing to hear as I began the difficult run.

That's Lisa to my right. See the girl in the shorts and sports bra just in front of me? That's the 15-year-old. She just beat me out of transition but she was walking. As I came up behind her, I asked if she was really 15. She turned, smiled with a mouth full of braces and said yes. I told her she was awesome and thanked for for pushing me on the uphills on the bike....
and then I passed her. :)

This run course is by far, the WORST course I have ever raced on. I had to endure 2 laps of it during the Olympic tri last year and I thought I was going to die out on top of that levy. I think was even hotter than it was last year and the only thing going for me was that it wasn't so late in the morning when I finally got the run compared to last year. I tried really hard to make myself run the entire first mile. Your legs feel like lead when you come off the bike but after about a mile, they get with the program and start to work. I ended up taking a 1 minute walk break, just shy of the 1 mile mark. I dumped a cup of water of my head and got running again.

It's an out and back course so you can see everyone in front (and behind) you and it was so nice to see some of my teammates that were ahead of me. We each exchanged some encouraging words. I came up behind one of my teammates that I didn't know. She was walking and as I passed her, she asked if she could run with me, she just couldn't make herself run anymore. Sure! The more the merrier. I was really starting to feel the heat and sun and yelled back to her that we would make it to the turn around and then take a walk break. The coach in me came out and I really wanted her to succeed! We made it to the turnaround, took about a 2 minute walk break and then started to run again. She told me to go on without her. I didn't want to leave her but at the same time, I knew I could still reach my under 45 minute goal if I kept running. I told her to keep moving and ran on. I dumped more water over my head when I got back to the water stop and told myself that I could run the rest of the distance without stopping.

It was HARD! I was so hot and really wanted to walk but I kept going. Another person asked me who Parker and Seth were and I shared their stories as we came off the levy and headed back towards the beach (and the finish!). As I came out of the trees, I saw the entourage again! The Pilot and his dad were there also, taking pictures as Lisa jumped out to run with me. She told me she couldn't believe how relaxed I still looked. I wanted to kiss her. ...instead I made this face:
My marathon buddies, brother, sister-in-law, The Pilot's mom (and The Pilot who sprinted from the course around to the finish line to capture it all!) were at the finish line cheering me in. I knocked out the run in 40:42! I came across the finish line and felt ecstatic because even though I didn't know my finish time yet, I knew I had reached my individual goals. I also felt nauseous! I honestly left everything I had out on that course and that, on top of the heat left me feeling pretty fuzzy at the end.

After holding myself up on a tent pole for a few minutes and getting a bag of ice on my neck (THANK YOU LISA!), I came around and really could take in the moment. I was SO proud of myself. I think the major nerves and fear I was experiencing leading up to this race made me enjoy the accomplishment even more than last year. Despite the fears, I was able to make it all happen and finish with a smile (and for the record, I just barely beat the 15-year-old. If you look at the finish picture at the top of this post, you can see her right behind me. hehe).

One of the hardest working spectators out there! He's so great that I think I'll marry him!
And someone who can make an improvised cowbell is someone you should
stand beside for the rest of your life!

It was a great day! I had several teammates doing the Olympic distance so I waited with my marathon buddies and some of the sprint teammates for everyone to finish. I knew exactly what they were going through out there, especially when they finished their first 3.1 miles of the run and then had to circle back and do it again. I think the happiest part of my race (other than finishing) was when I got to the point where you have to turn right to the finish chute or left to do another lap on the run course. I was so thankful that I didn't have to do another lap! Don't get me wrong, I would definitely do another Olympic distance race, just not on this particular course. Know of any flat triathlon courses that are in the shade?? :)

Everyone on my team finished and thanks to our marathon team, we had an amazing cheer squad until the very end. That's what Team in Training is all about!

And how can you not love your TNT staff when they are willing to put on the TNT cheerleading costume??
Thank you, Nick, for supporting our Team from recruitment through the finish line!!

I also have to thank all of my donors. With their help, I was able to raise $1,400 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! It all makes a difference and I am honored to have your support as I race to find cures for blood cancers.

Thank you to:

Jim and Karen
Lauren and David
Beth and Steve
Rosemary and Robin
Lisa and Dan
George and Judie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Triathlon Video

OK, so planning a wedding and trying to write a race recap from the triathlon is proving to be a challenge greater than the triathlon itself....ok, maybe not that hard but still, I'm a little short on time these days. I'm almost done with the race recap, for real this time. Until then, here is the awesome video that The Pilot put together. Just one of his many talents that made me want to marry him.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One Ironman's Story

I swear I'm working on the race report from last Sunday's triathlon but those things take lots of time and reflection (and photo/video editing by The Pilot) so in the meantime, I bring you a Ironman story. A bloggerific blogger who I follow, interviewed a Ironman on her blog and I have totally stolen her idea. :) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

A fellow TNT coach recently competed in the Coeur d'Alene Ironman and he completely humored me by answering some meet Andy! (My commentary is in purple. I don't think I can do anything without commentary so I hope Andy doesn't mind. hehe.)

Athlete Profile
# of Triathlons Completed:
Half Ironman 20
Holy smokes, this dude has been busy!

Race Location and Stats
Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene - Idaho - June 26, 2011

Distance: 2.2 Mile Swim; 112 Mile Bike; 26.2 Mile Run (full marathon)
Entrants: 2,500
Finishing Time: 10:17 (I like to refer to this time as BLAZING.)
Breakdown: Swim 1:06 - ; T1 6:00- ; Bike - 5:26 ; T2 2:00- ; Run - 3:33
(Umm....his marathon time is faster than my average 1/2 marathon time.)
Finishing Stats: overall 107; Age Group 21 (Andy is an ANIMAL!)


Did you swim or run in college or play other sports; how did you get so good?

No college sports. I did more team sports growing up and did club swimming.
I guess I've gotten "good" by focusing a lot of my efforts on training. I'm pretty religious about training daily. It's part of my daily life.

How did you get into triathlons?

I first did a couple marathons after college and was looking for a new challenge.

What made you decide to do an Ironman?

I was attracted to the challenge and aura of finishing an Ironman and I am now trying to qualify for the world-championships in Kona, HI.
Andy is going to qualify for Kona, I can feel it in my bones. I just know that he has it in him!

Training and Nutrition
About how many hours per week do you train?
Oh gosh, in season anywhere from 14 to 20 hours. Off season probably 7 to 10 hours. I always at least try to work out an hour a day. I don't think my dogs are too crazy about my peak training time ;-)
I'd like to point out that during my "in-season," I'm probably not at 10 hours in a week (except maybe my peak week). Hmmm...there must be some correlation between pace and hours per week....let me ponder that...

How do you find enough time to train? Do you have to do two a days?

Well, I swim very early (5:30 AM). I do 2-a-days, two days during the week. The weekends are usually pretty long (anywhere from 3 to 8 hours). Other than my job, dogs, and house, I don't have too many other commitments! I try to start really early on the weekends too.
I had a hard time balancing SPRINT triathlon training with the rest of my life (OK, planning a wedding is a little more stress than my usual life). I think I'd have to quit my job and family and friends if I ever wanted to attempt something like this! IM takes some MAJOR dedication from the athlete and everyone else in their life!!

How many days a week do you train?

Actually during my heavy training I take 1 to 2 days off per week. In the off-season, I usually work out every day, just not as intense or long. I'll go run 8 miles with my dog at the park, it's more of a fun thing.
Running 8 miles is supposed to be fun?? Yup, I definitely have some work to do. :)

How long did you train to prepare for the Ironman race?

I probably did triathlons for 7 years before deciding on an Ironman. Usually my training schedules for IM are about 20 weeks.

Are you really strict about nutrition?
For the most part, I don't eat any meat (for both health and moral issues). The only dairy I eat are ice cream, cheese, and greek yogurt with my fruit. But I'm trying to wean myself off. I occasionally like French Fries ;-). Lots of fruit and vegetables.
I love this! I'm on a mostly vegetarian diet and I love ice cream and cheese. That means I can do an Ironman, riiiiiight?

What did you do for nutrition during the race?

Most of my calories are taken liquid during the race. I use a custom drink blend called Infinit. I will take that along with a couple gels on the bike. I may also eat a Powerbar over the course of the bike portion. The run is usually just coke, water and maybe some Gatorade on the run course. Race morning is usually Oatmeal, with raisins brown sugar and honey, and a large bottle of Infinit. During the race, I try to take in between 400 and 500 calories per hour on the bike and 150 per hour on the run.
That's a lot of liquid. I'm not sure that would work for me. I rarely use sports drinks. I love my Shot Blocs...and PB & J. I had half a sandwich on my bike at the Olympic tri last year. This year I only had a bite or 2 of my sandwich. The 1/2 mile swim doesn't leave me nearly as ravenous as a mile....and I was working my tail off on that bike this year and didn't have a chance to chow down!

Do you have a coach or are you self-coached?

I use Fitness-Concepts (out of Washington DC).

Which of the 3 sports do you find the most difficult or challenging.

I think a tough bike course is the most challenging.

Would you change anything about your training?

Ha, yes, I mean as triathletes we are always tinkering with our training. I wish I did more hard efforts. I always going into a race thinking I could have trained harder. But it's a balance, because you don't want to over-train.

Race Experience
Overall, how was your experience?

Great - Finishing an Ironman is an incredible experience. The energy from the crowds is amazing!

I've heard the course was pretty challenging, was it harder or easier than you expected?

Harder - the bike was really hilly in sections. Much bigger hills than I'm used to living in Central Ohio. The run was hilly as well.
Hills? Scratch the
Coeur d'Alene IM off my list! I hate hills.

What was the hardest part?

The hill on the bike course called "The Wall" a short steep section, and the downhills on the run (late in the race), my quads were screaming in pain.
Again, scratch this race off my list. I try to avoid anything called "The Wall" unless we are talking about Pink Floyd...and even though I frequently bonk at mile 19 of a marathon (my own personal wall), I still try my bestest to avoid it.

Anything you wish would have gone better?

I wish I would have ridden a little faster, I should have been able to ride at 21 mph, but ended up at 20.5.
So it sounds like he wasn't rocking out at an average 12 mph like me....what's the rush, Andy??

That's a long time to be racing. What did you think about while you were out there?

I'm always thinking about my competition and where they may be on the course, and where I may be in the race. And....Am I going to finish?
Hmmm....maybe there is a correlation between pace and thinking about your competition. I tend to daydream about fluffy clouds, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and shiny objects I notice on the side of the road....let me ponder that as well...

Did you cry when you finished? I tend to cry. :)

I tend to cry too, but no not here!
And because Andy didn't cry at the finish, I think I'll go cry right now, just because I'm proud of him! What an amazing accomplishment.

What advice would you give to a newbie or someone just trying to improve?
1. Train consistently. Don't take long blocks of time off. 2. Take it slow. Complete several sprints and Olympics before trying 1/2 and full Ironmans. 3. Buy a heart rate monitor and learn to control the intensity of workouts.

Now Andy, go eat lots of ice cream and cheese and then get back in the pool, you slacker. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Be Nice to Me!

I promise I'm working on my race recap but to tide you over until then....

Be Nice to Me! I gave blood yesterday. A while ago (ok, at the beginning of the year), I pledged to donate 3 pints of blood to the American Red Cross this year. I've donated very randomly over the years but I thought doing their pledge would help me donate more regularly. Well, I suck because here we are in the middle of July and I hadn't donated yet. In my defense, it's challenging to donate blood while also training for an endurance event. You aren't supposed to engage in physical activity for several hours after donating. It's a lame excuse but it seemed like every time I remembered that I needed to donate was on a day that I had an evening workout scheduled.

So anyways, my triathlon is over and I saw a notice that there is a critical blood shortage in our area. I also had time to kill in between leaving work and going to a TNT recruitment meeting (let me know if you are interested in joining our fall teams!). I found a donation center just a couple miles from my office (that's good to know!) so off I went.

It only took me about 30 minutes and the bulk of that time was spent answering questions about my health and then eating a snack with a volunteer who was at least 90. She was a CUTE little thing but couldn't hear much so I just smiled extra big at her when I thanked her for the water and cookies. :) Some additional time was spent waiting for the charge nurse to come over. I always warn them right away that my veins don't like to cooperate and they usually hunt down their most experienced nurse to stick me. I've learned the hard way over the years that if someone fresh out of nursing school tries to draw blood or take a donation, they end up digging around in my arm and I leave looking like a strung-out heroin addict (or in less dramatic terms, like I've been stuck with a needle several times and the entire inside of my arm is bruised). So the charge nurse got me on the first stick and I was off and draining....5 minutes later they patched me up and I hung out with the volunteer in the canteen for a few minutes.

It was quick and relatively painless (1 second for the initial stick and 1 second when they take the needle out) and I potentially saved 3 lives. All that and I still made it to my TNT meeting on time. I actually wrote it on my calendar so I don't forget and put it off again. I can donated again after September 7. Don't let me forget! I should still be able to reach my 3 pint goal for the year. And I encourage all of you to donate also! Here are some facts from the Red Cross:

6 times a year you can donate blood.
5 percent of the eligible population that actually donates blood.

3 potential number of lives saved from just a single blood donation.

2 number of seconds that passes before someone in America needs blood.

1 number of people it takes to make a difference!

Did you know? People with type O blood make up 45% of the population? About 38% of the population has O-positive blood and only 7% has O-negative.

Guess who has O-negative? This girl! I always knew I was special...

O-negative is the universal red blood cell, mean it is the only type whose red blood cells can be given to any patient, regardless of their type. O-negative is also commonly used for premature infants and for trauma patients.

That sort of makes me feel like a schmuck for not donating sooner this year so I can max out my donations for the year. I can't save as many babies and trauma patients if I'm a loser and put my training before saving lives. That doesn't really go with TNT's mission now does it? But EVERY donation helps so I just donated and I plan to again after September 7. If you are eligible, you should donate too! Find a blood drive or stop by a donation center.

Stepping off soap box now....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Last Supper

The Caesar's Creek Triathlon is tomorrow! The Pilot and I just joined the rest of my team for a pasta party to celebrate all of our training and fundraising. We raised over $25,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

We had dinner at Buca di Beppo and sat at the "Pope table." Politically incorrect comments ensued. I am now full of pasta, getting ready to load up the car and then it's off to bed for me. The alarm is set for 4:00 am. Yowza. Tomorrow morning I will swim 750 meters (I like to call that a 1/2 mile), bike 22k (13.6 miles) and then run 5K (3.1 miles). Technically this is my first sprint triathlon (I did a super sprint in 2009 and then jumped right to the Olympic distance in 2010). I know I can make the distance but still, my goal is to just finish. That doesn't mean that I don't have some times floating around in the back of my brain. I'd love for a 21 minute swim, 68 minutes on the bike and anything under 45 minutes for the run will make me happy because that means I'm moving faster than my normal walk pace. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Soaked...but for a reason

It was about 85 degrees on Thursday at 6 pm when TNT started our group training. I think it was also 85% humidity. There was also an air quality alert. And it was uphill, in the snow, and I didn't have any shoes. OK, so I'm getting a little dramatic on that last bit but there was a hill and it was a hot, miserable night! Perfect to meet up with TNT to get in a run!

I don't coach on Thursday nights since I can't always make it out to training so our amazing trainers, Lisa and Marcia take the lead. To mix things up a little, they changed the route up a little to include a hill (we have to work to find those sometimes here in Central Ohio). While we did introductions (we have just started a new season) and did a mission moment (someone shares a story about how cancer has impacted their life), Lisa took off running through the bushes...but before she did, she gave us each a sticker and told us to write our name and who we are training for and then when we saw her again, we would know what to do with our stickers.

With only about a week until my triathlon, I opted to run instead of walk so I headed out with Parker's mama, Ann. At about a mile and a half, we spotted Lisa standing next to an orange cone. She was also taking pictures. As we all ran and walked by the cone, we placed our sticker on the cone. It was a tough night because of the heat and humidity so the distraction was much needed.

Meet Lisa...she's special in so many ways.... :)
I was running that night for Parker and a fellow teammate, Susan....both SURVIVORS!
We passed by the cone again on our way back and it was a great reminder of why we are out there. We aren't just out there running/walking in the heat just for kicks. We are out there to raise awareness and raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We are out there to make a difference! We are out there to get soaked in sweat and push ourselves to do things we didn't know we were capable of. And we are doing it for the people that can't do it themselves.

Coming back down the my signature "2 thumbs up" pose...
even though I wasn't really feeling it.
And this is a close up of my face trying to smile but about to explode from the heat instead.
I have to send a public shout out to Ann for sticking with me for just over 4 miles. I don't think I would have run nearly as far as I did without you! I'm still a Gym Class Dropout and running is crazy hard still but sometimes I just need a friendly voice next to me to keep me moving. Thank you, Ann!!