I hope 2011 brings you all the wonderful things you wish for !!
This past year was like a roller coaster. It was a year of exciting firsts and strong PRs. Unfortunately, it was also a year of disappointing firsts and abysmal personal worsts.
I vouched to start off 2010 with a strong focus on running and I did just that. I was, perhaps, too focused. In January, Geoffrey and I ran the ING Miami Half Marathon. I didn’t want to fall behind on my Marathon training so I decided to run 5 miles before the start of the race. The result was not being able to run a proper Half Marathon. I felt like I failed Geoffrey. I was supposed to be his pacer and in a way, he ended up being mine. The disappointment was only brief as I was ecstatic to cross the finish line with him. There will be plenty of other races to run together !
February brought on my first Marathon. My 4:12 finish was disappointingly slower than the time I was secretly hoping for but in many ways, it was a triumphant yell of sweet redemption. If you recall, my first attempt at the infamous 26.2 was a disaster as injuries kept me from actually starting the race. This time, though an injury managed to slow me down, it didn’t sideline me completely. Win !
The injury, however, lingered. Looking back, I should have taken March off from running, but, well, I’m Liz. I was already signed up for the Miami 13.1 and I don’t like to waste money. Plus, my doctor said it was OK. It wasn’t the worst race I’ve run, but it certainly wasn’t great and I wished I hadn’t run it the moment I crossed the finish line. Unfortunately, this would be my last Half Marathon of the year and I wouldn’t get another chance to redeem myself. Bummer.
Later on that month, I ran a 5K with one of my co-workers who was just getting back into running. I was quite impressed with his performance and got an itch to run more 5Ks.
Although I was registered for the 2010 MS Ride in April, I opted not to do it for a few reasons. I had been totally focused on running and hadn’t been on my bike since my abominable Half Ironman in November of ’09. There’s no way I could have been ready for a 150 mile bike ride in one month, especially with last year’s amazing performance to live up to. Also, given the economy’s downturn, it felt incredibly inconsiderate to ask people for money and I certainly couldn’t afford to cover the whole thing on my own as my salary had been reduced and my job was pretty uncertain at the time.
With my mind made up about the MS Ride and a foot injury keeping me from doing any lengthy runs, I started working solidly on speed. Geoffrey and I did track workouts, intervals and tempo runs once a week. We kept the runs short, but could feel them working. So, in May, I got back into the racing scene with a 5K the day after my birthday. It was a 5K PR for me which made me incredibly happy. It was a great way to start my 33rd year.
June brought on the first Triathlon of the season. It was a rocky start. My notoriously slow swimming still was, but the big let down was that my cycling had taken a huge hit after being off the bike for more than 6 months. My running, however, had really taken off. It had once again become my strongest discipline. I ran another 5K later that month which brought on another PR. Incredible ! This made me totally embrace the F.I.R.S.T program. It really does work if you want to get faster.
In July, Geoffrey and I ran a 5K while on vacation in Toronto. It was just for fun, but my time wasn’t too far off my current PR. Then I did another Triathlon which was slightly bizarre. My swim and bike times seemed to get slower but my run time was much faster. Of course, I hadn’t been back in the pool so that explained the swim time. I had also just had my bike fitted. The changes were quite drastic, and coupled with a new set of aerobars, it felt like riding a TT bike for the first time. I was determined to change all this. I got back in the pool and started training consistently on the bike.
The first good results came two weeks later when I totally rocked the Huntington’s Disease Sprint Triathlon. I felt strong again. Two weeks later, I ran a 5K which wasn’t officially timed, but according to my Garmin, it was a new PR. The following day I did another Sprint Triathlon and PR’d that as well with a time I had coveted for quite a while. It was one of the sweetest accomplishments of the year.
Everything seemed to be on the up and up. Just one more race until I tried to PR last year’s Half Ironman. I didn’t just want to PR it though. I wanted to crush it and with the year I was having, I had no doubt I would. Then everything fell apart.
At the end of August I went to NZ for a few days to celebrate Geoffrey’s birthday and got sick. Just when I thought I was starting to feel better, the flu hit me with full force. I was sick for a total of 3 weeks. I missed so many important workouts that I started wondering if I should postpone my Half Ironman. I didn’t want to go into another race under-prepared. As soon as I started feeling better, I began to slowly build up my training again.
Two weeks later, not feeling 100% better yet, I set out to do another first – the Escape to Miami Olympic Triathlon. This race is probably the toughest in South Florida. It’s almost prestigious to have it in your resume. For years, I’ve wanted to try it, but it always conflicted with some other event. This year, I was in the clear so I signed up. Though it is a challenging race, the most challenging part of it for me was before the race even started. The Escape, as it is informally called, starts on a small island off the coast of Biscayne Bay in Miami. There are ferries that take athletes to the island, starting at 5:40am. The ferries stop about 100 yards from the island. Once the ferries stop, you have to jump off, about 20 feet, into the dark waters of Biscayne Bay with minimal light (often from someone’s flashlight) to guide you. You then have to swim in the dark to shore and wait around for the sun to come up before you can start the menacing swim back to the mainland.
The unfortunate thing about the swim course is that it happens in Biscayne Bay, notorious for strong currents. The race website warns novice swimmers about the currents as a large number of athletes end up missing the swim cutoff because of them. This race is certainly not for the swim challenged. Sadly, I found this out the hard way. I missed the swim cutoff after swimming against the current for over an hour without really going anywhere. I had to be taken to shore in a jet ski and was asked to turn in my timing chip. It was the most disappointing moment of my entire racing history. To add insult to injury, I had to wait until the last cyclist returned before I could go back to transition to get my belongings. The whole thing was a horrible experience I hope to never relive again, unless I miraculously transform into Michael Phelps.
Not being able to Escape put me in a funk, but not for long. I quickly searched for other Olympic races before my upcoming Half Ironman. I found one in October and suddenly I started having horrible flashbacks from the previous year. This is when it all started to fall apart for me. However, my body had healed and my ego was well on its way. I was feeling stronger. I signed up and I am glad I did. I had a fantastic race. It wasn’t fast, but it was strong and it gave me the confidence I needed to move forward with my Half Ironman training.
I felt like I did everything right leading up to this year’s Half Ironman. I took advantage of my strengths to push myself as far as I could and held back when necessary. It was the most consistent training I’ve ever been able to do. The results were outstanding. I crushed last year’s time, setting a PR I am happy with. No race had ever left me with such an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
A couple of weeks later, Geoffrey and I ran the Miami Turkey Trot 10K. It was Geoffrey’s first and a massive PR for me. What a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving and put an end to a turbulent year of racing !
So what’s in store for 2011 ? Uncertainly rules ! Geoffrey is injured with a tibial stress fracture and will have to skip the 2011 ING Half Marathon which we’re both signed up for. I might give it a miss too since I’m having trouble with my current Marathon training which has forced me to take a week off from running. Depending on how things go after my brief hiatus, I may switch the Marathon to a Half and focus on a PR or skip the Half Marathon and focus strictly on the Marathon in February.
I would like to do another Half Ironman in 2011. I’ve also entered the NYC Marathon lottery. I will find out in March if I get in. If I do, I will probably go through with the Florida 70.3. Otherwise, it might be the Miami Man again. That covers the big races since I’m not rushing off to sign up for an Ironman yet. As far as summer events, I would like to focus on International and Olympic distance triathlons. Don’t get me wrong, I love sprints and I will continue to do them, but I feel like I need to start focusing on the next level.
What I want most in 2011, apart from a Half Marathon PR, is to change things up. It seems like I’ve been doing the same races for the last couple of years. Some of the new potential races include the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Boston 13.1 but a date hasn’t even been announced for that one yet. I also want to try to PR my first ever Sprint Triathlon. What better way to see just how much I’ve really improved ?
Are there any fun races you’ve done and would recommend ? Traveling is not an issue !
1. I’ve decided to change a few things around here. Starting next week, these posts will become Three Things Thursday posts. It’s common and it will be easier to be consistent when I only have to post the top three things going on in my life. Actually, it may be more challenging than easy.
I have also decided to change my training log posts from a Friday-Thursday cycle to a less obscure Monday-Sunday cycle. This is the cycle my Garmin Connect and Buckeye Outdoors accounts are set to so, again, it will make blogging easier, etc.
2. Our camping trip was great ! We had so much fun. It was borderline too cold the first night. Luka woke up with boogies all over her snout and breathing funny which gave us a big scare, but she was back to normal as soon as she warmed up. The next night was warmer, but we still wrapped her up in our picnic duvet which she seemed to love. We went for a nice walk on Saturday but our favorite part was roasting vegan marshmallows and making s’mores by an open fire. This time, we didn’t complicate things with too much food and a big giant cooler. We took canned soup, chili and some instant rice. The meals were quaint, but allowed us to spend less time cooking and more time enjoying the actual camping experience.
I haven’t finished uploading all the photos, but here are a few that I took with my phone:
Geoffrey heating almond milk for coffee and hot chocolate. Mmm.
Geoffrey giving Luka a treat for being so good !
The park is filled with wildlife, especially armadillos. They’re quite tame.
3. I ended up trying the maple version of the pecan pie recipe I mentioned last week. It’s really delicious, but of course more maple-ish than traditional pecan pie. I’m not sure how I feel about using corn syrup, so I think I’m going to try Allison‘s recommendation for my next attempt.
4. Geoffrey and I opened presents on Friday morning before leaving for our camping trip.
All the presents ready to be opened !
It felt exciting and a bit naughty to open presents early and, at the same time, it was a bummer because we didn’t get to play with our new toys. I was especially sad about the latter because Geoffrey got me a new All-Clad Belgian waffle iron !!! This is super exciting because a few years ago, when I decided I wanted a waffle iron, I opted for a cheap one. Back then I thought buying a waffle iron was like buying a new frying pan. Sure, there are different types, but how different could they possibly be ? Well, after experimenting with my cheap waffle iron and getting consistently below average results I decided to do some research. Original waffle irons were made out of, well, iron, but that’s not very practical these days. Fortunately, waffle irons are now made out of many different materials that produce comparable results. After a bit of looking around, I fell in love with the All-Clad 2-square waffle iron. It’s robust, yet compact enough to fit in our crowded kitchen and the best part if that it makes absolutely perfect Belgian waffles. I tried it out on Monday with a simple recipe and both Geoffrey and I were thrilled beyond words with them. So thrilled, actually, that we forgot to take pictures ! We’ll be making waffles again for New Year’s breakfast and will make sure to post some pictures then.
5. I’ve taken an almost week-long break from running because my feet started hurting after each run and kept getting worse as my marathon training long runs got longer. I have another long run coming up this weekend so I decided to cut back and give whatever was flaring up a rest. I’ve also decided to get new shoes. For whatever reason, after wearing Asics Nimbus for years, I was talked into buying a pair of Adidas during my last purchase. At first they were OK, but they seem very stiff which my feet just don’t like. I think I’m going to go back to the Nimbus. Stay tuned.
I’ve had 3 adjustments since my last post. I’ve grown apathetic to this whole process. It seems like months go by with little or no progress, or worse… As you can see, I did not have popcorn for Christmas dinner. Actually, Popcorn Day remains a mystery, not only to me, but to my doctor it seems. I want so much to be positive, but have very little faith, at this time, that my braces will be off before their third year. This is one painfully long relationship.
My 21st appointment, which promised to bring good news, only helped rekindle the disappointment I’d felt after my original debracing day came and went without even a hint of acknowledgement or explanation from my orthodontist. It was either during that adjustment or the following that I got a knob on the last bottom-left molar (#7 for any ortho freaks out there). This knob would allow me to connect the bottom-left and top-left molars together with elastics. Now doesn’t that sound like fun ? I have to do the same on the right, but I already have brackets on those molars – very handy. In exchange, I no longer have to wear the other elastics. Hoo-rah.
Yesterday’s adjustment was a bit more dramatic. The orthodontist brought out a measuring device and, after measuring my top teeth, declared that there’s too much room on one side and not enough on the other. Well, I think 6 months after I was told my braces would come off is a good time to arrive at this conclusion, don’t you ? So, off came the top wire which was filthy and the orthodontist was not shy about letting me know it. I don’t know why he’d be surprised. After all, I’ve been wearing the thing for OVER A YEAR. He then added a spring to the wire which eventually fit between my right front tooth and its neighbor. I’m not sure what this is supposed to do, but I’m trusting my doctor because at this point dentures are starting to sound good which means I’ve hit rock bottom as far as giving a hoot.
I will try to post an update after my next adjustment on January 27th, but I wouldn’t count on it. Bah, humbug.
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1. Last week was the company holiday party. You may have read my tainted thoughts on it. Well, I’m here to say I was pleasantly surprised. One of my co-workers, who made a platter of portabello-goat cheese sandwiches on homemade rosemary-olive-oil bread, brought in a special sans-cheese one for me. I was super stocked when I realized I’d have something other than baba ghanoush to eat. Another co-worker brought in a Whole Foods vegan German black forest cake. What ? Dessert too ? I was totally floored. Totally. It turned out to be a great party and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
2. Did you watch the 2010 Ironman World Championship recap on NBC this past weekend ? No ? Well, someone’s broken it up into 10 parts and uploaded it to YouTube. Here are the links:
- Part 01 – What ? No Chrissie ???
- Part 02 – Missing the swim cut-off hurts. A lot.
- Part 03 – “If you wanna be functional at 80, you better damn well pay attention at 40.” – Lew Hollander, Ironman
- Part 04 – Is it just me or is Macca a bit arrogant ?
- Part 05 – Ironmoms are Rockstars !!
- Part 06 – Even though I already know the winner, I’m rooting for Julie Dibens.
- Part 07 – Mirinda Carfrae is one fast chick !
- Part 08 – The Energy Lab sounds like hell on earth.
- Part 09 – A bit of history repeating.
- Part 10 – The midnight crew.
My favorite definition of the race in this video is “one long, tedious conversation with yourself.” This can be said about any endurance event and I am sure it is especially true during an Ironman.
3. So what do triathletes do in the off season ? Well, I never learned how to knit, so this weekend I went to an arts and crafts store and got myself a starter kit. Here’s all I have to show after hours of pain and frustration:
All that pain and frustration aside, I actually enjoyed the bit of knitting I did this weekend, so I will continue to work on it. My goal is to eventually knit a scarf for my mom. Don’t expect this to turn into a knitting blog, though. I barely have time to read these days so this scarf project could take all of 2011. We shall see.
4. The weather seems to be holding up, so we’re going camping ! Yay ! That means we’ll be opening presents on Friday morning. Got any Christmas vegan breakfast ideas ?
5. Speaking of food, I’ve been making apple pies all season. The latest one, which we finished last night, was SO yummy, but I’d like to try something new next week. I was thinking pecan pie. I found this recipe which looks promising. What do you think ? Have you tried any other good vegan pecan pie recipes ? If so, please share !
1. Tomorrow is the annual company holiday party. I’ve been told that many years ago, our parties were off the hook. Things have since gone downhill. The company holiday party is now held at the office, in broad daylight. Alcohol is still served, making this event all the more creepy. Last year, food was provided (each department was given a budget and asked to buy a dish with their allocated sum). This year, we were all asked to bring in an appetizer. This, apart from shinning a big light on our company’s dismal financial situation, is a frightening thing for all the vegans in the office: yours truly. From what I’ve heard, a lot of people are bringing in what could potentially be vegan appetizers, except for all the cheese. This is absolutely, 100% fine with me, but it got me thinking. Cheese has got to be one of the unhealthiest foods and yet, people can’t seem to eat anything without it, even people who work for a diet company which is supposed to promote a healthy lifestyle ! Crazy.
2. Speaking of bad food, Geoffrey and I tried ROK:BRGR, a new burger joint that just opened downtown. It’s right next to our old “date night” spot, which killed our “dinner + movie” tradition when it decided to do away with the one vegetarian option on their menu. So, we’re beyond excited to have found this new place which has an awesome veggie burger and a great selection of craft beers. Of course, rumor has it that the movie theater will be torn down soon which could kill our tradition again. Well, we’ll just have to enjoy it while it lasts. Like, a lot.
3. My feet have been hurting SO much after each run lately. I don’t know what it is, but I hope it’s not a show stopper because I’d really like a marathon PR in February. Gah !
4. Did I mention that Geoffrey and I are planning to go camping for Christmas ? Well, the weather might kill that plan. I love the outdoors, but I don’t think Geoffrey’s 150 pound body will be enough to keep me warm when it’s 20 degrees outside and I don’t want to freeze to death. So, we’ll see.