Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three Things Thursday, LMFAO edition

1. Speedwork today went well. I did a fun work-out I saw in Runner's World, just to mix it up a bit:

1 mile w/u, 1200m @ 8.3 mph (mile pace)
1 min rest
1600 m @ 7.1 mph (tempo)
5 x 60 second hills ( I chose 6.5 mph, 5% grade), w/ 30 s rests
1600m @ 7.1 mph
1 min rest
1200m @ 8.2, w/ last 400 up to 8.3 mph. 

I was feeling so good in the middle section that I didn't want to stop to change my music so I listened to LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem and Sexy And I Know It on repeat. For about 30 minutes That was interesting. At least they have good beats!

2. There has been a security/bodyguard/man-dressed-in-a-suit-with-an-earpiece in my building's gym the past few times I've been there. I can't for the life of me figure out who the famous person is that warrants security. Since I worked out for nearly an hour, eventually a skinny, short white young man left after his work-out with the body guard. Still have no idea who he was. He really can't be that famous if I can't place him, can he? I know I don't pay that much attention to pop culture but still.

3. I've received flack from a few people recently who wonder how I have time to have a blog. Some people wonder admiringly ("wow, it's amazing how much you get done"). I appreciate that, that's a compliment.  But these other folks have been wondering disdainfully, one even said to me "you must not be working that hard if you have time for a blog". Here's what I say to that. First of all, my blog posts were few and far between last year, indicating that I truly was at the absolute max in terms of working. But to me, that is working TOO MUCH. I don't want to have so little free time that I don't get enough sleep, exercise or breathing room to do the things in life I enjoy. 

Things have improved this year. For example, today I was at work by 7, finished at 4:30 (which is early), exercised for 2 hours and now am sitting down to dinner. This was a good, balanced day. They aren't all this good. I still plan to work 2 weekends a month and at least 50 hours a week. I would argue this is still more work than 90% of the population (be honest, do YOU work that much?). But I spend my free time exercising, occasionally hanging out with friends and family (though really not all that much since few live in town besides my wonderful husband) and blogging. I don't really watch TV unless I'm doing it while I blog, I don't follow sports (except the Olympics), I don't play video games, I rarely go out to bars. I don't shop or pay a lot of attention to hair or make-up (I probably should!). I like to have a creative outlet. And while my blog may not be super creative, I enjoy having a place to write about whatever comes to mind. Also, I find writing about running, swimming and biking to be motivating; it helps me to stay accountable when my goals are made public. And, finally, I have a terrible memory, so this is a great way to document my life so I don't forget! Just had to get that off my chest.

Btw, this post took all of 10 minutes. The time it takes many women to blow dry their hair (which I rarely do) or men to check (which I NEVER do). Or vice versa. To each their own!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What's Next: Lake Geneva Sprint Triathlon

The Lake Geneva Sprint Tri, aka my redemption race, is in 2.5 weeks. Even as I was finishing my first triathlon on Sunday I knew I needed to find another race to overcome my issues with the swim. I can't be a 'sensitive swimmer' forever- I must toughen up! So today I signed up for Lake Geneva. I was kinda hoping it'd be a small enough race that there wouldn't be a wave start but nope, it's a wave start. Oh well, I need to learn to deal with it sometime!

My covert plan was to consider doing a 70.3 in October if the Chicago Tri went well. While I did have a good race experience, I would not say it went well given the swim. So I don't think I can be ready for a 1.2 mile open water swim in just 8 weeks. So I've tabled that for now but I plan to continue along on the half-Ironman training schedule, anyway because half-Ironman tryout week went pretty well. So after yesterday's rest day (1 mile run), I'm ready to jump in again!

This week's plan:

Tuesday: 3 mile run, leisurely 'bonus' swim
Wednesday: 17 mile run or 1.5 hour bike ride, PM swim training class
Thursday: mix makers speed work, spinning
Friday: 2150 pool, yoga video
Saturday: 17 mile run or 1.5 hour bike ride, 1900 pool
Sunday: 1 mile run

Eating: Caloric goal 1510 daily, 200-300 more if exercise for >3 hrs

Other: Buy a wetsuit (check!), Register for Lake Geneva (check!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

.....And then I raced


Sara and I headed to the Expo Friday to attend a course talk and get body marked with our bib numbers. The moments in which this lovely volunteer was writing with permanent marker on my skin is when I really felt I was going to DO this. A wave of nervous excitement and pride came over me much like (but not nearly as intense) as attending my very first marathon expo (Chicago 2006). I was one of those folks with body marking. I was going to be a triathlete!

Friday was spent eating delicious pizza at a South Loop spot called Flo & Santos. Saturday we procured a bike for Sara (yeah, we are both clearly rookies, me on a mountain bike, her on a rented bike!), went for a run, went for a swim (both short, don't worry), napped, then headed for a great night at City Winery (review to follow). Then early bed-time for bonzos.

Sara in the very dark transition area.
As many athletic pursuits worth doing, race morning started early. In this case it was because we needed to set up our transition area before 5:45. The sun does not rise by 5:45. So we got set up in the dark.

My stuff.

For me, this race was all about the swim. Getting my first open water swim in a race situation out of the way. As you can read about here, the swim ended up being more a comedy of errors than an athletic pursuit, but I did my best to make up some ground on the bike and the run.

Leaving the swim all I could think was thank god that's over. I did it, I did it, I did it. I wasn't super happy about the way I did it but I was proud knowing I went from being a non-swimmer to completing a swimming event in just a few short months. As I told my new friends in the corral before the swim start, for me the race ended at the swim finish, the rest was an emotional cool-down:) In reality, however, the end of the swim is when my competitive juices started flowing and I tried to make up ground.

Smiling to myself, DONE with the SWIM!

Transition 1

Transition at sunrise. This is just one small section of T-town.
The Chicago Triathlon is the largest triathlon in the world in terms of number of participants. So, to be super dramatic about the whole thing, it was both the best and the worst first tri for me to participate in. Best: closest to my house, lots of fan support especially along the entire length of the swim including my fabulous husband, and my friend Sara could do it with me. Worst: HUGE number of swimmers in constant waves, and HUGE transition area.

A little known fact about this race is that there is a quarter mile run from the swim finish to T1, which is incorporated into the swim time (so if you notice that even the fastest swimmers times are a bit slower than you'd expect, that's why). By the time I jogged to transition, I totally forgot how to find my bike. I tried to pay attention, I located landmarks etc but I still couldn't find my bike. So I spent something like 6 minutes in T1.


I ended the swim with only 10 women in my age group behind me. So not great. But I knew that despite riding a mountain bike in the regular bike division, I could gain ground on other 'Wave 11' ladies during the bike. By this point, my breathing had totally normalized, so I worked to get my heart rate up again and vowed to remain short of breath throughout the entire bike. I kept looking for women who I thought would be in my age group and then I'd pick them off with great satisfaction when I saw the '11' on their calves:) I didn't love riding the bike, but I did love that all of the people who passed me either had aero bars or those paratrooper looking aero helmets meaning they were much more serious triathletes than I!

Yes, I'm aware how goofy I look.

Goofy up close.

I will say that the allergies I've been suffering from for the past week or so were REALLY ANNOYING when I was trying to breathe through my mouth AND my nose during the bike. I was breathing heavily enough that I really needed those two extra respiratory orifices to help me out! So I decided to try another first for the day....the farmer's blow. (Yes, I've trained for and run 11 marathons without ever doing this; I find it gross.) I looked around, ensured no one was near me, and went for it. I think it went okay. But I kept wondering if someone was going to come up to me and say "Lady, the results of a poorly executed farmer's blow are on your face".  Sadly, the nasal passage air flow related relief only lasted a few minutes, so basically I spent the whole race breathing only through my mouth. Despite this, I averaged 15.3 mph which I'm happy with. Especially on a mountain bike!

Transition 2 

T2 was better than T1 but I still have a lot to learn about transitions.


Then, the run. Oh, the wonderful run! I decided to just relax and take my time. I knew this would result in a respectable run time. I also knew that if I relaxed, my pace would gradually increase because that is what I do in my short bricks after spinning class. I'd been starting at 10 min mile pace, then gradually increasing the pace over the course of a mile to 8 minute miles. I wasn't thinking 8 minute miles were in the cards for the tri but I thought the overall strategy would be a good one.

I've got to stop ruining good pictures
with my goofy wave!

Great shot by Adam!
And I was right. While my legs felt dull for the first mile, my breathing was comfortably hard (rather than uncomfortably hard) and I was picking people off left and right. Unlike the bike where I paid attention to each person and tried to pick them off (I also payed attention because I didn't want to be DQ'ed for 'drafting' which was a rule I learned about during the course talk in which you must pass people within 15 seconds of approaching them), in the run I just ran my race and found I was basically passing people the whole time. I felt strong and had a ton of gas in the tank that I didn't use. I'll never be a competitive racer, I just don't push myself hard enough! But it felt great to feel strong on a run that occurred after a bike and a swim, to be comfortable in this scenario. I ended up running 9:05 pace. I'd call that a rousing success! In the end I finished 152 out of 205 which isn't great but the positive spin is I passed about 40 people on the bike and run!

The guy in blue tired to pass me so I
sprinted to the finish.

Look, I'm flying!

Help, how do I stop?

Adam was spectator and photographer extraordinaire and in addition to the great shots from the swim, snapped some real winners during the run and post race. He is such a trooper, I feel so lucky to have a husband who is so supportive of my increasingly time consuming (and expensive!) athletic pursuits.

Sara had a super impressive finish, well under 2 hours, kicking my but by 10 minutes! I'm so thankful to have such a great (albeit long-distance) friend and racing partner. Her performance definitely motivated me to push myself even harder in training and future races. And we're so photogenic to boot:)

We are triathletes!
Celebratory city pose!
All in all, the race experience was a good one. I will always have a funny story about my first tri (read it again here) and really can only expect to improve in the water going forward.  As I rev up for marathon season (I have 3 fall marathons on the books as of now), I will enjoy continuing to work on biking and swimming to keep variety in my weekly work-outs and to improve my overall fitness.

This is just the beginning.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Did anyone tell you this is supposed to be a race?

Do you see me? Bottom right-hand corner of boat, looking back to the start. Hmm...

Sunrise over Lake Michigan
How do I start, this, my treatise on my first ever triathlon swim. Well, first, suffice it to say that it was more an exercise in getting from Point A to Point B in the water than a 'swim'. I woke up with the usual healthy amount of dread about the whole business. Adam had a certain amount of disdain for the whole operation as well noting "I'm not sure how I feel about this new sport" as he went back to bed for a few more minutes as Sara and I headed out at 4:15 am. But Sara and I gamely made our way down to transition, set up our bikes...and shoes...and sunglasses.. and water packs...the amount of equipment involved in this sport is intense.

We then walked barefoot to the swim start which was a quarter mile away. It was surreal and actually very cool to walk barefoot around the city before dawn, and then watch the sun rise over the water. It would have been even more enjoyable if we didn't have a swim looming over our heads.

I don't look convinced that this was a good idea. I wasn't.

Sara and I in our corral for the wave start
For those not familiar, the swim start involves a wave start where runners with matching colored hats are herded into corrals so the dread of the swim can become full-on palpable as we watch the waves before us get in the water and struggle. Okay, not everyone struggles, but enough folks did which added to my anxiety. Thankfully Sara and I are in the same age group (for a few more months until I'm over the hill), so we were together for this. It was fun talking to other people in line. I felt okay. Not great. Definitely nervous.
Our building is visible in the background, which is why I chose
this to be my first tri.

I was really happy when we saw Adam. While I was 99.9% confident I was going to finish the swim, the last time I did a swim in a lake I was pulled out of the water and disqualified from completing the swim test because they thought I was going to drown so top priority (after not drowning) was making sure the lifeguards didn't think I needed rescuing. Constant verbal encouragement form Adam helped with that.

Making friends with the lifeguard.
The swim is a "wet start" meaning we all get in the water for roughly 2 minutes before we head out. You can't touch so you must tread water. Sara is a much stronger swimmer than I (though a beginner too- she seriously kicked some butt today) and she had the confidence to start with the group. I was terrified and planned to let the group go ahead of me and then make my way. Initially swimming was fine but my goggles immediately fogged. I didn't think I could make it through the swim not being able to see so I stopped at the first rowboat. We were told we are allowed to stop at the boats to hold on for a rest, but I wanted to be sure I wouldn't be disqualified for doing so I asked if I could stop and fix my goggles. The lady seemed surprised (how often do swimmers stop at the first rowboat, roughly 20 meters from the start, that's right, this girl does) but we struck up a quick conversation and I made some jokes.

Thankfully, my goggles functioned fine for the rest of the swim, but that delay really set things on a bad foot and soon the next wave was on my tail. I was (and still am) terrified of being swum over and didn't think I could hold my own when 40-50 pink capped maniacs (or so they appeared to me) caught up to me. So I swam for a bit but then stopped at the next rowboat to let the wave pass. Unfortunately this became my pattern, check out the oncoming swimmers, get to the next rowboat. And I really wasn't doing that much swimming. I just didn't feel comfortable not looking around. I think I did true freestyle for like 30 strokes the whole time. It was ridiculous. I spent most of my time swimming freestyle only breathing on one side intermixed with breaststroke intermixed with floating on my back (while kicking). I did a LOT of floating on my back. Not good. I wasn't physically tired, I wasn't even short of breath, I was just in survival mode.

Deer in headlights. Why am I not even pretending to swim??
I found a nice space with no swimmers anywhere nearby, and I
choose to do this?? Again, DID ANYONE TELL ME THIS
I had practiced all my "emergency techniques", you know, what I would do if I freaked out or got kicked in the face or inhaled a bunch of water. These emergency techniques included breaststroke, floating on my back and stopping at rowboats. Unfortunately, for unclear reasons, I instated my emergency techniques even though there wasn't a true emergency. I was FINE. I was OK. I'm like a mayor of an ocean front town who evacuates the area out of concern for a hurricane that is not coming and is not even predicted to come. I sounded the alarms in my head despite no objective evidence that I was in trouble and simply survived.

How I spend most of the so-called swim. 

A rare moment of well, actually, swimming.

Me and a bunch of burly guys definitely not
making forward progress.
Note that I was not the only one who took this approach. In addition to making friends with the lifeguards in the rowboats I also made friends with fellow swimmers. Admittedly most weren't in the mood for jokes or friendship (which also tells me I sounded the emergency alarm for naught if I still had my sense of humor). Most boats had one or two desperate swimmers. But one boat had 8. Count 'em, 8. Here's me looking back at the wave behind me trying to figure out when the hell I'm going to go for it. At one point the lifeguard said "one of you is going to have to go or the boat will topple" so I took off. Me and a bunch of burly men hanging on for dear life on a rowboat during a triathlon we chose to do of our own volition. How do I get myself in these situations? (I'll answer that later.)

I was so glad to have Adam there. He just kept yelling 'go Val' and 'you can do it' and I would wave to him occasionally from some of the rowboats. At one point when I was floating on my back he yelled 'use your arms' and I complied by flipping over and doing freestyle which again tells me I COULD HAVE SWAM THE WHOLE FREAKING THING. Oh, Val, such a head case I am.

Finally, I got to a rowboat where they informed me I had 200 meters left which is such a short distance relative to my training that I got frustrated with myself and skipped a boat (i.e. swam longer). Then there was 100 meters left and I pulled it together and finished. After they pulled me out of the drink and I was taking my goggles off I really wanted to yell "I made it through the f**** swim!" but instead I trotted along the 250 meters to the transition area but only after making one additional face that belongs on the bloopers reel for Triathletes 101.

I'll relay the rest of my race in a later post. The swim really deserved its own, don't you agree?

Bloopers Reel:Look at that face! I look like I have no idea what just happened.
Well, I didn't.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Date Night Success: South Shore Golf Course

As I mentioned in our 9th anniversary post, Adam and I committed to weekly (or as close to it as possible given we are hard working yuppies) date nights. We started off with a Friday night golf date. After a swim lesson, a short bike ride while watching the Air Show practice and a 1 mile run I was ready for a nice relaxing round of golf.

I love golf. I really do. I'm not particularly good at it, in part because I play so infrequently. But golf is basically mandatory, stop and smell the flowers time. It involves being outside with people you care about (I mostly golf with my husband and my parents) or by oneself which has some benefits as well, walking around and playing a game that demands nearly 100% of your focus. It's hard to think about work while you're golfing. There's so much going on between your shots and your fellow players shots, and choosing the right club and placing your bag in the right place that there's not much room for other thoughts. Which is perfect! Mandatory relaxation.

And the feeling of a well struck shot can carry you through an otherwise mediocre 9 or 18 holes of golf. That perfectly struck 5 iron. That beautiful drive that runs and runs and stays on the fairway. That pitch shot that lands on the green. I love those shots. I'll take tens of bad shots for a perfect iron shot. Of course it'd be awesome if my good shot to bad shot ratio would increase, but hey I'm not picky.

So, Adam and I went golfing. Near our home their are three main course options: the South Shore and Sydney Marovitz nine hole courses and the Jackson Park 18 hole course. Given we would be sneaking in a few holes after work we went with the 9 holes at South Shore. I really like this course. Yes it's a public course in Chicago so there are more divets than one would like and the course play is a bit slower than it should be (sometimes WAY slower than it should be- we only got in 7 holes in 2 hours due to some slow folks ahead of us who don't know golf etiquette), but the course has some great perks. Four of the holes are directly along the lake and you can hear the waves crashing on the shore, which I just love. There is a putting and short game practice area right on the water as well.

The course is located at the South Shore Cultural Center which houses special events. It is a beautiful, old property that used to be the South Shore Country Club founded back in 1905. Now it is home to a beach, a short- game practice area, a 9 hole course, a meeting place for cyclists and and a great location for events such as weddings and other social gatherings. If you are a Chicagoan I definitely recommend checking it out!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

(Val's a) Shark Week

This week I set out to see if I'm in good enough shape to entertain a fall 70.3. The result? I'm not sure. I definitely had a good week of exercise and I really enjoyed getting in two-a-days and the pleasant feeling of physical exhaustion that comes with them. Nothing stressed me out this week. How can you be stressed when you have that many endorphins pumping all the time?

Wait, I mis-spoke, er mis-wrote. Something did stress me out. And that something is what gives me pause about the possibility of a 70.3 in my future and quite honestly (and terrifyingly) gives me pause about the sprint tri coming up in less than 7 days. Eek!

First let's focus on the positive. I set out to:

Complete 3 runs and I was successful with all 3. I did a long run (15 miles), speed work (3 x 1600m @ 7:21), and a tempo (4 miles, 2 @ 7:54). I felt relatively strong for all 3. I took more breaks during the 15 miler than I should have but overall, a strong run week.

Bike 3 times- two 1 hour rides with intervals and one 1.5 hour ride. I didn't do exactly what I planned but close enough. I did 3 rides- 1.25 hours moderately easy (outside), 20 minutes hard intervals (spin bike) and 30 minutes moderately easy (outside). But I never did get that long one in in large part related to swimming issues (obtaining a wet suit). But I'm not too worried about the bike next week, that's more of a long term area to improve- I'll be fine for the sprint tri.

Swim 3 times- twice in the pool, once in the lake. Pool swims were no problems. I actually swam 3 times in the pool, once was just over a mile so that's good. But the lake swim? Awful. No better than the first time out. I was starting to feel better about swimming because I've made so much improvement in the pool but NONE of that has translated to improvement in the lake. With only 6 days until the tri, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? I wish I knew. I feel desperate and overwhelmed. It's hard to get too worked up (working as an Oncologist for a living definitely keeps minor life stresses in perspective) but I'm worried enough that I need a solid plan for this week to maximize my chances that I won't DNF next week because right now that is a very real possibility.

So what happens when I'm in the lake? I'm not really sure. I know probably 80% of it is mental. I get there, I walk in, I freak out a little about the water being cold (I actually had a 5 minute conversation with a four year old in the water yesterday starting with me asking her how she dealt with the cold water- she told me to "get in all at once" and then proceeded to tell me all about her cousins and their water-getting-in-technique and her momma and her auntie and her favorite- but not only- pet dog until I regretted asking a 5 year old for advice), then I stand around in the water full of dread about what I'm about to do. Then I take a few strokes, realize it's not so bad but within a few more strokes I either get water up my nose or in my mouth or I panic or I get short of breath or I feel hopeless or my goggles fog up and the next thing I know I'm standing up. Why can't I just HTFU??? Why?? I'm such a wimp and this combined with an activity where so many factors are out of control just FREAKS ME OUT. I honestly think if I couldn't touch the ground I would have a much easier time. Knowing it's so easy to just put my feet down and take a break makes stopping the path of least resistance.

Strength: MetCon3 and Abs class at Equinox. I never did the Jillian Michaels video I intended to do. Whatever. Hard to care given what's going on with my swimming.

While I didn't intend to taper this week, I think I will end up tapering on the running and biking side so I can focus all my hard efforts on the swim. I'm open to advice on how to get this done. I will become a shark. All I will do is eat and swim. Mostly swim. Just a little eat. I will be a shark. I WILL. (I WILL KEEP TELLING MYSELF THIS UNTIL IT BECOMES TRUE!!) Key pieces of my plan include:

  • Using breaststroke when I freak out mentally, emotionally, or "water up my nose or in my lungs"-ly. Now sharks don't have this problem because their noses are designed differently. Val 0, Shark 1.
  • Using back floating (with kicking) when I tire physically. Sharks should've come up with this, it would save them energy. Val 1, Shark 1
  • Spending every moment I can in the lake this week. Hard to beat the sharks on this one. Val 1, Shark 2
  • Any pool swims I do will be without any breaks- no wall breaks, no standing breaks- the goal will be to swim for longer than I'll have to on Sunday without stopping. Ha! Do you see sharks training in the pool? No sireee-bob, you do not. I bet if they did some swimming drills in the pool, they'd become EVEN BETTER in the open water. Val 2, Shark 2
By the end of this week, I'll come up with something to beat the tie with the sharks, I promise.

Advice greatly appreciated. (HELP!!!!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


For two years in a row now, Adam and I have been able to see Coldplay as part of our wedding anniversary celebration. But this time, WE WERE IN THE FRONT!! I knew it was going to be awesome and it was everything I hoped it was going to be.

I was first introduced to Coldplay by my brother. Back in college in the '90s (yeah, I'm old), the only access I had to music was ready bad radio stations in Champaign, Illinois, random CD purchases where you buy an album and hope for the best and my little brother. The latter was definitely the most reliable. The situation got even worse when I moved to rural Mississippi. You can imagine the music choices there:)

So I owe thanks to Garrett for sending me a burned album of Coldplay Parachutes years and years ago. My love for Coldplay has only grown over the years. They are great to run to, great to work to, great to rock out to with the top down in the convertible. Great to sing along to. And they are fantastic performers, really great. Chris Martin is a typical rock star in the best sense. Sweaty, jumping around, working the crowd, a true performer. We saw them last year at Lollapalooza and they were absolutely amazing. One of the few groups I'd be willing to deal with the unwashed masses of Lolla youngsters for.

But last Wednesday night, we didn't even have to that. We had a leisurely dinner with some friends and - due to insider information- made our way over the the concert arriving exactly 5 minutes before the show started (which was 1.5 hours later than the posted time). And we were in the 2nd row. THE 2ND ROW...FROM THE STAGE! The whole concert experience made me feel like a teenager. In a good way. I was screaming, I was dancing, I was so excited and I just couldn't stop smiling. The show would have been great no matter the seats but being right in front, not straining to see, not wishing I had binoculars, was so absolutely incredible.

I remember being in high school going to concerts staring at the folks in the front rows wondering if they really appreciated being there. Did they enjoy it enough to really deserve those seats? Sometimes, front seats would be empty! I could never understand that. But I can say with 100% certainly, that I enjoyed those seats as much as anyone could. I can't remember the last time I was so excited!!!

The show was great. The special effects were really fun- lot's of confetti, the usual light shows. Everyone got wrist bands that lit up to the beat of the music during certain songs, creating an absolute stunning display in the cavernous space of the United Center. They played all the key songs. Let's face it, almost all their songs are key songs. For one of their encores, they placed themselves in a back corner of the stadium which was great- folks who had mediocre seats suddenly were so close to Chris Martin that they could touch him. That was really cool.

I can't thank Todd enough for remembering my love for Coldplay and essentially getting Adam and I such an amazing 9th wedding anniversary present. He had no idea it was our 9th wedding anniversary, but sure enough, Coldplay night was our 9th anniversary eve which made the night all the more special. Thanks, Todd!

Me, Adam's left arm and Chris Martin. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Half-Ironman Tryout Week

Well, I'm two days into my half-Ironman tryout week and so far, so good. While my first ever tri hasn't even happened yet (it's in one week and 5 days), I'm already looking ahead to what's next. I do have some exciting marathons on the books this Fall- Des Moines with my friend Sara and the Outer Banks, NC marathon which we're turning into a family vacation. But learning how to swim to do a tri is a short-term goal with the actual long-term goal being an Ironman. So while I'll be very excited if my Chicago Sprint Triathlon goes well, I'll be more excited about what it means.....time to think about an Ironman.

To that end, I decided this week would be half-Ironman tryout week (from now on, I'll refer to this as 70.3 which is the combined distance in miles of the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run that comprise the race). What I mean is, I plan to do the Level 1 Half-Ironman training schedule week 9 training plan from Matt Fitzgerald's Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide. Why week 9 and not week 1? Some of my friends and family who know me well might have their suspicions about why I'd start at week 9, but I'm not ready to disclose that master plan yet. At least not until after tryout week.

So what will this week's workouts entail? 3 bike rides (1 of which will be two hours long which is longer that I've EVER ridden), 3 swims and 3 runs. Of course, since I'm training for an October marathon, I must increase the distance of the longest run so I'm doing a 15 mile run rather than the 6 recommended in the plan as the longest run of the week. Plus I'm doing two weight work-outs. So the bottom line is this is a lot of exercising!

Yesterday I did speedwork- 1600m x 3 @ 7:21 pace and it went very well. Then I swam 1840 yards, my longest swim to date.

Today I ran 15 miles at a pace I'm pretty happy with- 9:18 min/mile. But, man, was the last mile rough. SO rough. I'm no where near marathon shape, good thing I still have a few weeks!!

I'm excited that I finally have time to embark on this type of training. I've been waiting for years to eek out just a little bit of extra free time to make this happen. Now is my time.

9th Wedding Anniversary

Adam and I like to joke that while we've been married for 9 years (as of 8/9/2012!, can you believe it!), it feels like it's been much less time, in part because our work schedules are so insane that we (very sadly) can go weeks at a time without seeing each other. This has been particularly true over the past year during the first insane year of my Hematology/Oncology Fellowship. Thankfully, my work hours have calmed down again....just in time for Adam's to get crazy again. So, for our anniversary we committed to do the one thing that can be so hard for us to find time to do- spend uninterrupted time together!! So we both took Friday off and decided to spend a wonderful 3 day weekend here in Chicago.

We had an action packed weekend, maybe too action packed for Adam, but just perfect for me. We started on Friday with a 6:00 am tee time for 18 holes at Jackson Park. It was just perfect golf weather, the coolest day in Chicago in 44 days! Yeah, it rained a couple times but only for a few minutes and that's a small price to pay to enjoy a cool day in August! Adam played great, I played okay but the important thing is we started our 3 day weekend off on a great foot!

The Bridge House tavern is right behind me.
Then it was nap time and exercise time (6 mile run for Adam, 3 mile run and 1500 yd swim for me). Then we headed out on the town. We started at Shaw's where we enjoyed a dozen fabulous oysters- the Moon Shoal's were absolutely amazing. They tasted like water. Delicious! We had some nice wine- a blended Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Then we took a nice walk around Chicago in what had turned out to be an amazing breezy, sunny, summer day. We then stopped at the BridgeHouse tavern, a new place on the banks of the Chicago River. I had a fabulous mixed drink called the Water Cooler, a delicious blend of Hendrick’s Gin, Watermelon, and Cucumber. Yum!! I'll be back!

My favorite building in the city, The United Building, is behind us

View from the Bridge House Tavern at night.
View from the Treehouse, looking out over Millennium Park.

We then stopped by a new place just steps from our place near Millennium Park called the Treehouse, an outdoor patio on the roof of Tavern in the Park. From outdoor bar to outdoor bar, who can complain about that?

Getting ready to put in at 12th Street Beach.
Taking a nap after our almost-paddle.
As you might imagine, we needed to sleep in a bit the next day. But after a quick breakfast, we rallied and headed out with Zak our kayak to paddle on Lake Michigan. We put the (inflatable) yak together in the parking lot, carried it down to the water, I got in, Adam tried to get in all the while eyeing the RIDICULOUSLY HUGE WAVES that had developed since we conceived of the idea of kayaking on Lake Michigan and sadly we had to abort mission. The waves were RIDICULOUS. Spilling in the lake was not an anniversary gift I wanted any part of. The day was so beautiful- 79 degrees, sunny with a nice breeze. And there-in lies the problem. The 'nice breeze' was actually a 20 mph wind causing 7 foot waves and a small craft advisory for the lake. It just wasn't safe. But we actually had a nice time relaxing in the sun waiting for the kayak to dry. I had a Chicago style hot dog while Adam took a snooze. We sure felt like we paddled!

For dinner we headed to two of our favorite Chicago places- Hopleaf for 
drinks then Jin Ju for dinner. Old favorites.

Adam's Sushi Salad. Yum!

At hole 7 at South Shore golf course.
Sunday we golfed 9 at South Shore; another beautiful golf day. Then off for a tasty breakfast at one of our old Hyde Park haunts, Medici, followed by a quick 1 mile run. 

Next up, couples massages at Lillie Ann's. I've been lucky enough to have a handful of professional  massages including a glorious 80 minutes on the beach in Mexico . But for Adam this was his first....massage....ever! It was a great massage (has anyone had a not-great massage?). My masseuse was Samantha and I definitely recommend her. We'll be back at some point, I'm sure.

Then to cap off the weekend, Adam made delicious bison steaks with heirloom tomato, fresh corn and blue cheese salad. Oh-so-good. It was so great to spend such quality time with Adam. I'm hoping we can plan weekly date nights so quality time doesn't have to only be an anniversary special occasion!