Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Week 3 Off to a Good Start

Yesterday was the start of the third week of P90X3. HS thought it was going to be too dark for me to go out for a run afterwards, so I did my 3.5 miles before tackling Total Synergystics. I have to admit, this is still my favorite workout and can see incorporating this into my triathlon training even after I have completed the 90 day program.

My run was a struggle. I'm not sure what is going on with my shoes (On Cloudsurfers) but three of my toes fell asleep on my left foot and would not wake up. It was very annoying. On top of that, my legs felt dead…probably the 90 minute spin class on Saturday followed by the 22 mile Speedstar ride on Sunday.

Cloudsurfers…not feeling as good after about 150 miles :-(

Today's workout is Agility-X. This workout really bothers my feet…I think it's the side to side movement. Even wearing court shoes, my feet still get sore. I am going to try and modify my movements a bit so I can still race on Saturday.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Chubby Triathlete Conundrum

If you are a female, a mother and a triathlete, I highly recommend Meredith Atwood's book Triathlon for Every Woman. This book is bound to inspire you, especially if you are trying to balance family, job and training. Another reason I think so many women identify with Ms. Atwood is because she is a bit on the plump side. I think this was part of Oprah's appeal…women struggling with their weight could identify with her. Oprah would lose weight, celebrate her accomplishment, and inevitably gain it all back and then some…I've done the same thing a number of times myself.

Over the last year, since I began training for and competing in triathlons, my weight has been relatively stable. This has not been without some effort. However, I expected to look like the fit and trim triathletes I've seen on TV…it didn't happen…and that's after covering almost 2,300 miles and burning 193,000 calories. If that won't get you ripped, what will?

Interestingly, Lindsey and I have had this same conversation (a number of times) concerning Ms. Atwood (aka Swim Bike Mom). Lindsey says she isn't inspired by her because of her lack of weight loss. "How can you be that size and do a full Ironman?" is always Lindsey's question…and it's a good question because honestly, I have no idea…that is, until now…

Fitness Confidential Explanation of the Chubby Triathlete

As I reported earlier, I have just started reading Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich. I didn't believe this book had anything to do with triathlons until I got to Chapter 4 "Why Calories In, Calories Out is Bullshit"… Here is a rather long excerpt from Fitness Confidential about the chubby triathlete:
Picture in your mind the type of person that completes a triathlon (he's talking about a full Ironman). I'm guessing you're visualizing a lean, muscular athlete. And, if you look at the top pros features in the magazines, you'd think that everyone who completes a triathlon looks exactly like that. 
But let's ignore them for a second. Let's look at everyone else, the people who complete the triathlon but are not in the top third. Would you agree that anyone who can complete a triathlon is in prime physical shape? Remember, you have to train hard enough to be able to swim 2.4 miles in open water, immediately followed by 112 miles on a bicycle, immediately followed by running a full 26.2 marathon. 
Anyone of these feats by themselves is heroic. Put them together and it's almost inconceivable to the average person. So, by anyone's definition, these contestants would have to be among the most fit human beings on the planet. And aerobically they might be. 
But they don't always look it. 
How do I know? Because I always stay to the end of these competitions. That's where the real human drama is. Sure, we all admire the pros who do it in record time, but what about the regular folks, the people who have trained as many hours as the pros and are in it to prove to themselves that they can do something that seems impossible? At the end of the competition, between the fifteenth and seventeenth hour, you see the true triumph of the human spirit. People who are literally willing their bodies across the finish line just to prove they can. 
I love these people. Watching them is like being in a quadruple feature of Rudy, Rocky, Something for Joey and Brian's Song. So I know what I'm talking about when I say that these folks, the back-of-the-packers, the ones with something to prove, these folks are often carrying extra weight on them. And not just a little. 
How is that possible? 
Can you imagine the amount of calories they expend training for this? Hundreds of thousands. By the pure calorie in, calorie out theory, they should all be rail thin, but they're not. So why the disparity? 
Because what the pros do and what they say they do are two different things. 
Understand this -- pros, in order to survive financially, have to have sponsorships. Gatorade, Power Bar, GU. There's no shortage of companies willing to pay them money to publicly endorse and use their products. And the pros do use their products…when the cameras are on them or the fans are around. But Gatorade and all the other sport drink companies make fundamentally the same thing: sugar water. The only thing that differentiates it from soda is carbonation. 
The pros know this. 
The same thing holds true for Power Bars and all the other sport-type bars. They're full of sugar, not to mention, in many cases, partially hydrogenated oils, which make them about as nutritious as a candy bar. Again, in public, you'll see the pros nibble but, in private, they'll try to get their carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. 
Same holds true for all the goops and sports gels that promise to give you "sustained energy." Again, they're all sugar. The pros eat them for the cameras and during long endurance events, but during training, they eat proper diets. High protein, high fat along with some carbs. 
In fact, if you ate the way the pros pretend to eat to satisfy their sponsors, you could eat healthier at an eight year old's birthday party. If you think I'm kidding, recently the Jelly Belly company started marketing "sports beans" which are just jelly beans with a few vitamins thrown in. The pros won't touch them. Why? (Guess I might as well just be eating Skittles! LOL) 
Because the pros know nothing will shut you down quicker than sugar. 
But let's get back to our amateur triathletes. They don't necessarily know all this. They drink the Gatorade, they eat the power bars and they buy into the concept of "carb-loading" where you eat nothing but pasta, bread and rice for days on end to give you "energy". They've trained like the champions and have brought themselves physically and mentally to a place where they can complete a triathlon, but their diet has left them, in some cases, heavier than when they started, in spite of the fact that they've expended hundreds of thousands of calories during their training. Usually, they themselves are baffled by their weight gain.

OK…if you want to know more…buy the book…my fingers are tired of typing.

Starting Over

After a day (or two) of over indulgence in breads, pasta and/or sweets, I get what can only be described as a sugar hang-over. Sugar is not my friend. Simple carbs bloat my belly and leave me feeling hungry. I know this. I've experienced it over and over and over…yet I keep doing the same thing!

January 1, 2014 is going to be a new start… AGAIN! First off, I've got to finish reading Fitness Confidential. After that, I'm going to examine what I eat on and off the race course.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Like a Flabby Arm Spanking Machine

Since its been over a month since I've been in the water, I decided to head over to 24 Hour Fitness to see if I was still water safe. A quick glance at their class schedule told me all I needed to know…there was an "Aqua" class at 9:15am. As Kramer describes it in a class Seinfeld episode... "35 geriatrics throwing elbows"...

Would this be the same as swimming in the Delta?

Hot Stuff and I waited it out and headed over to the gym about 10:30. This should be more than enough time for the "Aqua" class to finish up. As I entered the women's locker room, I was greeted by several old ladies in swim suits. Yes!!! The class is over!

Unfortunately, a few overachievers were still working out. HS asked what I wanted to do… I responsed "pick a lane and start swimming…they'll get out." HS had two ladies in his lane. One was actually swimming the other stood at the opposite side with her noodle…I'm not sure what she was doing.

I hopped into a lane with two older gentlemen…both were walking and a couple of times I had to swim in between them. Eventually one of them got out, so HS moved into my lane to make space for another actual swimmer. HS remarked that he didn't think the old guy in our lane was going to leave. I told him that as soon as his vodka ran out he would leave.

"You think he's drinking vodka?" HS asked.

I answered that I wasn't sure, but there was a strange smell in our lane and the old guy had to stop after every 50 and take a drink. As soon as his bottle was empty, the red faced old man left! Woo hoo! So happy to only have to share a lane with Hot Stuff.

Not Done Yet

Of course, once we got home, we had to do our P90X3 workout. Today was CVX which is cardio with weights. My legs left fine, but my arms were definitely tired from the swim.

Goodbye Sugar and Grains

One of my weaknesses is ordering triathlon books on my Kindle. Luckily, I signed up for Amazon Prime, so I get to "check out" a book once a month for free. The other day I checked out "My Half Ironman Experience: Insight on what to expect for your first race". Let me just say that I've read articles in Triathlon magazine that are longer and have more info than this "book". I'm just glad I didn't spend $2.99 to purchase it!

Anyway, after finishing this very, very short book, I looked at the bottom of the Kindle screen where Amazon makes recommendations based on my previous purchases. Of course everything is triathlon based (or so I thought), so I scrolled through the choices looking for something that had good reviews.

I stopped at a book called "Fitness Confidential". Without really researching what the book was about, I ordered it. After reading the first chapter, I realized it wasn't a triathlon book but a fitness and nutrition book.

The pic was pretty small on my Kindle, so I thought it was
just a triathlete on the cover

Time to Start Over…Again

I woke up this morning feeling bloated and crappy from all the food and drink I indulged in during the Christmas holiday. I vowed to clean up my act and get back on track. First thing I did was post this in our tri group's special nutrition Facebook page…

This post was a link to the Food Matters tip page… it read:
#FMtip Inflammation from bacterial endotoxins may be a factor helping to drive the obesity epidemic. Junk food causes nasty microbes to bloom and friendly bugs to decline, just as sugar and refined carbohydrates feed the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for tooth decay.
I promptly tossed the left over candy canes. I then picked up "Fitness Confidential" and started reading again. I was finally getting to the good stuff…Chapter 3 "The Non-Diet"…I like the way this sounds.

Funny Coincidence

The chapter begins with how people say how they've either been "good" or "bad"in terms of their diet…it then moves into discussing trendy diets that don't work and then why we fail on diets and end up gaining our weight back and then some. Ok…come on…just tell me what your "non-trendy" plan is…I'm sure we will all look back on this one and laugh too…

Here's the author's weight loss secret…
Wow! That was just what I announced I was going to do on the group's Facebook page…I was getting rid of sugar and grains! Maybe this was a sign :-)

The book continues…
You didn't know what I was going to say, but you were hoping it was some kind of trick you'd never heard before. But even though you may not realize it yet, what I just told you is magical. If you just do it, if you just - 
--then you are going to be thin. It's that simple. Notice what I didn't say. 
  • I didn't say you need to count calories
  • I didn't say you need to eat low fat
  • I didn't say you had to watch your portions
  • I didn't say you need to exercise an hour a day
The reason I didn't say you need to do those things is because you are not on a diet.
I'm always able to tell when a new client will fail at losing weight long term when they ask me "how long will it take me to lose this weight?" I have a standard Vinnie-ism I give them in reply. 
"Why? Are you going to stop when you get there?"
That's a lot to think about, but it makes sense.

No One Can Eat Just One

The author of "Fitness Confidential" has his own website (who doesn't) with a lot of good info. One of the top posts is called "Ruffles and Hormones and Weight Gain, Oh My"…basically it's about why we can't eat just one potato chip…and of course it reminded me of +James and his admitted weakness for chips. My weakness is bread and pasta. I can't have one slice of bread or one serving of pasta. I guess my answer is to not have the bread or pasta in the first place.


While I like the idea of not counting calories or watching portions, I will honestly admit that it makes me a little sad to give up some of my favorites foods.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Just Like Riding a Bike

In between working and wishing I could go home to start celebrating Christmas, my thoughts drifted to the upcoming New Year's Duathlon and what bike I was going to ride. Should I ride my road bike like I usually do on that course or should I be a big girl this year and ride my tri bike?  Tri bike? Tri bike! OMG! It seems like it's been forever since I've been on that thing. According to Garmin Connect, my last ride on it was November 16 (so technically it hasn't been forever). Nevertheless, I was concerned that I would remember how to change gears or even unclip my feet.

First Things First

When I finally got home from work, I popped in P90X3 Agility-X (Day 9) and pushed myself to get through the 30 minutes of jumping, lunging and of course push-ups...and not just any push-ups...PLYO push-ups. Ugh! Halfway through this workout, I decided that my legs are still a bit tired from CIM.

Asics Volleyball Shoes
It is recommended to wear court shoes instead of running shoes for Agility-X. Luckily I found the shoes that I used to wear to do INSANITY.

Not Finished Yet

Being as I have a 70.3 lurking in the back of my mind, I have a very, very difficult time stopping at 30 minutes. I wanted to do a little more. Since, my right foot was still a bit achy and because I was having serious doubts about my bike skills, I decided to go for a little ride.

Is it June or December? Gorgeous California weather.
Not exactly a white Christmas, though.

I aired up my tires, switched shoes, and snapped on my helmet. Hot Stuff told me to take my phone in case some little old lady who hasn't been on the road all year runs me over. Gee Honey, you really know how to boost my confidence. LOL

I kept my ride short because I was a little rattled by HS's warning and because I never ride alone. Luckily, traffic was light and I only encountered a few idiots who found operating a motor vehicle to be a challenge...none of which were little old ladies.

Short Bike Ride by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

I am happy to report that I remembered how to ride my bike, change gears and unclip my feet...a few more practice runs and I'll be ready for the duathlon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

P90X3 - Start of Week 2

Today was day 8 of P90X3 and the workout du jour was Total Synergistics. So far, this is my favorite. It works everything...arms, legs, core. The time just seemed to fly by today...probably because I'm a little more familiar with the moves and able to spend more time working out and less time staring at the TV.

One week down!
Here's a list of the moves...

  1. Push-Up/Side Arm Balance: Of course, why not? Let's start with push-ups.
  2. Crescent Chair: Lower body/balance.
  3. Pull Knee Pull: No pull-ups for me...used the bands.
  4. Flip Flop Crunch: CORE!
  5. Crawly Plyo Push-Ups: Core work with push-ups.
  6. Releve-Plie, Weighted: Wide stance, heels up, and squat...with weights.
  7. Chin-Up Circle Crunch: More pull-ups, another go with the bands.
  8. Boat Plow: CORE!
  9. Balance Arch Press: Weighted balance move
  10. Hop Press: Squats and weights, FUN!
  11. Glamour Hammer: Balance on one leg and do hammer curls, switch.
  12. Branon Boat: One word...HARD! More core work.
  13. Flying Warrior: Another balance move with weights.
  14. Squat Rockers: More squats with weights.
  15. Side Rise Punch: Core work (side plank) with a dumbbell.
  16. Warrior Squat Moon: Lower body balance move.
As you can see, there is a lot going on in half and hour.

Crawly Plyo Push-up Selfie
Here's the official description of this move:

"In a low plank, with your torso hovering above the floor, bring your right knee and elbow together and explode off the ground, switching your knee and elbow in the air."

GOOD NEWS! All move can be modified.

So many workouts, so little time.
Last week I followed Total Synergistics with a short run. Today I opted to just do the workout and then rest. My right arch has been bugging me, so I figured it was best to give it a break this week.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

P90X3 - Week One Done

The P90X3 calendar suggested a rest day or the Dynamix workout. Since Sunday is my "long" run day, I opted for the run followed by Dynamix.  Dynamix is one of the workouts in the "Core, Flexibility & Balance" group. The Beachbody website says Dynamix will "increase your range of motion, flexibility, and stabilization to help maximize the results you get from every routine". 

Unlike P90X Stretch, which was the option on the rest day during the original P90X, Dynamix focuses on dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is basically controlled movements that help you increase your range of motion. 

After completing this workout, I think it is something I will do before my run next week.

Longer than Last Sunday Run by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ExtremeRyde 90 and P90X3

Note to self...DO NOT do that (back to back workouts) again! Too many 90's today ;-)

This morning I did a 90 minute spin class at SWEAT Fitness called "ExtremeRyde 90". The instructor, Deidra, is an experienced rider with a couple of Vineman races as well as plenty of other races to her name. She does not take breaks!

Gun show!

Please make it stop!

At one point I thought the class was just flying by and could not believe that we had completed almost an hour. To my dismay, I was looking at the clock in the mirror...so what I saw as 8:52 was actually 8:25! Stupid mirror! Stupid Tracy!

ExtremeRyde 90 by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

After I got home from SWEAT, I decided to get day 6 of P90X3 out of the way... no sense in getting all sweaty later in the day and having to shower again (bad idea).

Today's workout was called The Warrior. The description on the website says "When you need a one-size-fits-all workout that can be done anytime, anywhere, this is your drill." This is what made me think that it wouldn't be too bad. Boy was I wrong. This workout went through four sets of upper body, cardio, core, and then lower body...or something like that. I was hurting and had a hard time completing all the moves. All I know is there were more push-ups! Really, Tony? MORE PUSH-UPS??? My poor, poor pecs are KILLING me!

Next week, I will get sweaty later on in the day...definitely not going to try this one right after spinning for 90 minutes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

P90X3 - Day 5 (I'm So Sore!)

Today was my 5th day of P90X3...the accelerated workout that is supposed to give you results in 30 minutes a day. I thought this was a good idea last week. However, after completing my 5th day, I'm beginning to have my doubts.

I just keep reminding myself that
it will pay off in the end

Today's workout was called CVX (Cardio Vascular Extreme). It was like a toned down version of the original Plyometrics, only you use weights for the entire workout. I used a 5 lb. weight for the first 15 or 20 minutes but had to switch to a 3! What a weenie!!!


After HS and I finished the workout, I headed out for a short run (HS followed on the bike). I have never said this...in fact, it really doesn't even make sense... but my arms were too tired to run!  LOL

On the plus side, my cadence was almost right where I wanted it (was shooting for 180) although my stride length was shorter than on Tuesday (probably because I was running slower).

Short Run by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

P90X3 - Day 4

Day 4 was a workout called "The Challenged". HS didn't believe me when I told him I thought it was just push-ups and pull-ups, but it was! I think there were four rounds...you would do the pull-ups then do the push-ups, repeat and then rest.

I stink at pull-ups!

I started on the pull-up bar with a chair for assistance. After Hot Stuff started giving me a bad time about using too much "leg", I switched to using a band...still hard.

This had to be the longest 30 minutes of my week!!!

Today's workout (Day 5) is something called CVX. According to the Beachbody website, this is "resistance combined with intervals to give you that full body burn and power up your core"...may have to rethink running after this one ;-)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

P90X3 and Me (First Three Days)

I will always credit the original P90X for getting me and Hot Stuff on the path to sustained fitness. I think we did P90X four or five times before moving on to other workouts like INSANITY and P90X2. Eventually we got involved with triathlons and became focused on swimming, biking and running and unfortunately I just didn't have the time for P90X.

Results from first 90 days in 2009

Actually, every once in a while I still try to get in a P90X Yoga-X workout, but I just don't have the time to do the full program and continue with my triathlon training. Something has to give, and when you have a 70.3 mile race looming in your future, you tend to want to give the race all the time necessary...not that it's a bad thing.

So Where Do I Find the Time?

2013 is almost over...I finished Barb's Race as well as my second marathon. Both races were a success in my book, but I have room for improvement. As I re-read through "The Triathletes Training Bible" I was once again confronted with how to incorporate strength training into my workout routine. Here are a few excerpts from the book...
"Although I advise many athletes to stop strength training during the racing season, women in particular benefit from year-round strength training. Unlike men, women tend to lose muscle mass more quickly once they stop working in the weight room." 
"Most women duathletes and triathletes are relatively stronger in their legs than in their upper bodies. Especially in need of strength are the abdominal muscles and arms. This weakness impacts climbing hills when on the bike." 
"Strength work for the upper body involves doing pushing and pulling exercises that use all of the arm joints plus the back muscles and abdominal muscles."
I could have always gone back to P90X, but most of the workouts are at least an hour long and on the days you have to do ab-ripper, that adds another 16 minutes. I could not see working, doing P90X, and then doing my triathlon training...just not enough time in my day.

Then, last week, Beachbody released P90X3. This is an entirely new approach and is not intended to be a progression from P90X and P90X2. P90X3 is a 30 minute workout developed to give you the results of P90X in 30 minutes a day. I was sold and ordered it the next day.

It even came with a hat for Hot Stuff!

The Plan

My intention is to do the full 90 days of P90X3 while maintaining my regular triathlon training. I hope to see a marked improvement in my body. Hot Stuff and I both took our "before" pics on Monday. Here is a sneak peak of mine...

HS was pissing me off, hence the lack of smile
In the picture above, I am roughly the same weight as I was at the end of the first round of P90X back in 2009. I think I was a little more ripped in 2009 which is a little surprising to me given all of the training I have been doing. I will post another photo at my 30 day mark.

After Christmas, I plan on getting serious with the nutrition side of things.

Here is a quick recap of the workouts we have done so far...

Day 1 - Total Synergistics

Ok, if you've ever done the original P90X, you are familiar with synergistics. In fact, the original synergistics was one of my favorite P90X workouts... it just seemed to work out everything and the time flew by quickly. Total Synergistics did not disappoint. Some push ups, some pull ups, some resistance training...I was pretty tired at the end of 30 minutes.  Finished up with a 3 mile run with HS.

NOTE: I am really out of shape in terms of push-ups and pull-ups :-(

Day 2 - Agility X

Next week I will wear a different pair of shoes. Tony recommended court shoes instead of running shoes and I didn't listen. There is a lot of lateral movement and Tony was right...don't wear running shoes. This particular workout was similar to something you would see in INSANITY:Asylum.  Finished up with a 5 mile run at Fleet Feet.

Day 3 - X3 Yoga

The original P90X yoga is 90 minutes. P90X2 shrinks it down to about an hour. P90X3 knocked it out in 30 minutes. In the original, Tony spends a lot of time explaining things which is helpful if it is your first time doing the workout. If it is the 87th time you have done Yoga-X, not so much.

In X3 Yoga, there isn't a lot of explaining. If you are new to the workout, you may have to hit rewind to figure out what to do...don't worry, once you've got the moves down, you will appreciate being able to keep going through the moves. Did not run today.

Abs and pecs were sore from Monday's and Tuesday's workouts...its a good feeling :-)

Tracking My Progress

Writing stuff down (especially food) has never been my strong point. I do wear my Garmin 910XT for most of my workouts and this data is transferred automatically to Garmin Connect. However, I have found another tracking system called Training Peaks. Training Peaks is a little more robust and it has the option of downloading training programs...hmmm, I wonder if any of them have P90X included in the plan :-)

Monday, December 9, 2013

CIM 2013 Race Report (aka My Four Second Fail)

Yesterday I ran the California International Marathon. This was my second marathon and my biggest event. To say that yesterday was cold would be an understatement. Check out what my Garmin recorded...

27 feels like -21!
Now, to those of you from cooler climates this might not be a big deal. However, to a fair weather Californian like myself, these kind of temps are borderline intolerable. My first marathon was also in December up in Sacramento. It rained most of the time, but it was 52 degrees. That is HUGE! I would have given anything to run in 50 degree temps.

The Gear

After days of fretting what to wear, I decided on the following gear:
  • CW-X Stabilyx tights (excellent choice)
  • Nike top with a tank underneath
  • Moving Comfort bra (even though it has been known to wear holes in my back)
  • On Cloudsurfer shoes (they run warmer than other shoes and are more comfy on longer runs)
  • Pearl Izumi wool trail socks (last minute swap the morning of the race)
  • Fleet Feet knit gloves
  • Fleet Feet running hat
  • Fleet Feet race belt 
  • Tifosi glasses

Since my daughter and son-in-law live in Folsom (the starting location of the race), HS and I decided to save money on a hotel and stay at Casa Larkin. Lindsey and Max were very kind and gave up their nice comfy king size bed so I wouldn't have to sleep on the aero-bed. For dinner, we went to Chicago Fire and had pizza and salad. Hot Stuff and I split a pizza with sausage, jalepenos and habanero sauce...probably not the smartest choice before a marathon, but I had eaten it before without incident and I really wanted to have it again.

I got to bed about 8:30 and only woke up once for a couple of hours. My alarm was set for 4:30am...which is actually sleeping in for me. I had read that you need to get up 2-1/2 hours before a race so your body has time to fully awaken. I rolled out of bed when I heard Eminen's "Lose Yourself" start to play and got dressed. 

I had brought my standard pre-race meal of chia fresca and a banana. I also ate half a bagel and got a few sips of coffee down. When HS saw my socks slipping below the back of my shoe he said "You can't race in those", so I swapped them for my Pearl Izumi socks. I am so glad I did.

One is the Loneliest Number

Since we were coming from the Folsom area, the plan was to take me to the drop off location so I could take a shuttle to the start. The shuttles started at 5:30, but I didn't want to get there too early and have to stand in the freezing cold for any minute longer than I needed to. We left Casa Larkin a little before 6. As we turned on to Folsom Blvd, we merged into a flow of drivers taking their runner to the start. 

There is no messing around at the drop off point. There is also no time for long goodbyes or sitting in the car a bit longer to stay warm. Once your vehicle made the u-turn and pulled to the curb, you needed to get out.

I gave HS a kiss, said good-bye, and hopped out. I got a little teary eyed as I watched my family drive off. Once again (as I have done before many, many races) I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I followed the stream of runners heading up to the school bus shuttles and waited for my turn.

Unfortunately, it is a very short ride, maybe two miles and once again I was out in the cold. It was still dark out and I desperately looked for a familiar face. Unfortunately, all of my teammates had opted to buy a bus ticket and ride to the race from Sacramento. This meant that they also got to stay warm and cozy on their school bus until right before the race start. To kill time, I did what I said I wouldn't do and used an outhouse.

The number of outhouses is amazing and it is quite a walk from one end to another. Since everyone else seemed content to stand in lines that were 20-30 people deep, I decided to walk to the other end. At the farside of the outhouses, the lines consisted of 1 or 2 people. Once I got inside I found it to be not that unpleasant and on top of that, it was warm. I was tempted to hang out a bit.

Auburn-Folsom Blvd the day before the start
After doing my business, I wandered back towards the start. Some runners were huddled up under the flood lights of shops lining the street...I really don't think you get much heat that way. I eyed the rows of buses that seemed to extend forever and wished to be on one of them. I kept walking towards the first bus a heard the rumble of the engines. At that point it dawned on me that the exhaust would be warm. 

I walked to the back of the bus and turned my back to the exhaust vent...ahhhh...it felt soooo nice! Another runner walked by me and goes "Is that warm? Smart!". I wasn't sure if he was being a smart ass or not, but then I noticed that he had walked to the next bus and was warming himself, so I guess he really did think it was a good idea. I was so cold I didn't care if I was poisoning myself with noxious bus gases...at least I was warm.


Before I knew it, it was time to start. I stripped off my extra clothes and put them in my gear bag to be transported to the finish line. When the starting gun when off, I expected a stampede of 6000-7000 people all trying to get to the front. However, since everyone is wearing a chip, there is no need to freak out and run over people. Once the race started, everyone just sort of took their time and sauntered up to the start. Once you crossed the blue mat however, it was time to move.

I had programmed my Garmin with a range of paces that I had practiced over and over without problem. The lower end of the range was my aggressive time and the upper end was my planned time that would get me to a 3:52 finish. It was difficult to run at my slower, starting pace as the first mile is pretty much down hill. I told myself it was OK to exceed my pace because I was still working at the same effort level.

Some runners started stripping off extra clothes in the first mile or two, but I could not imagine running with less than I was currently wearing...it was COLD! It was so cold that the first few aid stations were getting iced over. As runners ran by grabbed a drink and then tossed the cup and remaining fluid on the ground, a sheet of ice started expanding across the roadway. A couple of times I debated on whether or not it was worth risking getting a drink.

The first half of the race is fairly hilly but nothing that made me want to stop and walk (which is saying something). I stayed within my desired pace range and kept on going. It was quite the site when I would get to the top of a hill and gaze down on the number of runners that were in front of me. I was never alone at this race.

My spirits were lifted at mile 10 when I saw Hot Stuff amid the spectators lining the street. I then spotted Lindsey and Max and hammed it up a bit so I would have a good pic.

I spy..."Hot Stuff" (Can you find him?)
Back to business
Things went as well as expected and I learned a couple of things along the way. For example, if someone offers you "beer or water" they are not part of an "official" aid station. This particular gentleman was standing close enough to the aid station that I thought he was one of the volunteers. When he gave me a choice, I thought that he was just a smart ass volunteer. Since I could not seem to find my voice, I just pointed at the cup and took a swig when he handed it to me. I immediately spit it out and the lady next to me goes "It was really beer, wasn't it?" Yuck!

I guess I sort of hit the wall at mile 20. My pace slowed and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get below a 9 minute per mile pace. I had hoped that I banked enough seconds early on that this unfortunate slow down wouldn't keep me from reaching my goal but I had no idea.

I brought three GU's along with me for the race and had eaten a fourth a while back. After mile 20 I decided that maybe if I got a few more calories I would be able to get my pace back. An official volunteer stood at the side of the road with a box of GU in her hand. I ran past her and she handed me a packet. A quick glance revealed "Vanilla Bean." Ugh!!! Mind you, I have never had "Vanilla Bean" but I really didn't think I wanted to start now. I ran to the table up ahead and swapped it for a flavor that seemed a little more appealing.


The run to the finish is a lesson in math. The streets along the finish are numbered and the course merges on to L or J somewhere around 55th St. The turn to the finish is at 8th street. As I would pass each block, I would try and calculate how many more blocks I had to go. Oddly, at the end of a marathon this was much more difficult than it should have been. LOL Until I got to the teens, I struggled with my calculations.

Fist pump!
One thing you learn doing triathlons is that the time at the finish is not necessarily your time. Same goes for chip timed marathons. Your own personal clock starts when you cross the starting line, so even though the clock says 3:56:23 as I finish, this is not my true time. My official race time was 3:55:04. Hot Stuff proudly showed me my "unofficial" time on his phone (he had been tracking my race online).  While HS didn't understand the horror he was showing me, my BFF did. She knew that Boston Qualifying for my age group is 3:55:00. Four freaking seconds!!! OMG!

Last December I ran my first marathon in 4:08:47. In freezing cold temps, I managed to shave off almost 14 minutes. Next year I will only have to take off four seconds to reach my goal.

It's always worth it when it's over