Monday, June 23, 2008

The Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway

We all agreed that the term "parkway" conjures up images of relaxation, smooth terrain, and a lowered heart rate.

How silly of us to even think that way.

Riding the Blue Ridge is a butt-kicker, for sure.

And I love it.

I'm beginning to think I am a psycho. In fact, Bryan B called me that on the run at White Lake. I don't think I looked at all psychotic. I was wearing my cute trigirl ensemble (or outfit, as I like to say).

Anyway, i was only able to do one of the BR rides last year - and it left me so very tired. I think the descents made me more tired than anything else. However, this year, I felt 100% better. I still don't really like big, long down hills, but I'm beginning to get used to them. Next time, I'm definitely keeping my bike computer off. I did much better on the first leg of descents when I had no idea what my speed was. Ignorance really can be bliss.

We had close to perfect weather - sunny, clear, very little humidity. I tried to keep a steady tempo on the climbs (my favorites - see, I am crazy). I think I like climbing because it gives me a chance to look around a little. After all, when you're only going 7 mph, you can take in things like a gorgeous blue butterfly perching on a flower. To me, climbing is a little like running because you can check out the world around you. On the flip side, when I am descending, my eyes are on the road ahead of me.

I did get some great descending advice from cycling stars Shawn, Karen and Shelley (the rebel). I'm going to try to keep their advice in mind on the next ride. I'm already looking forward to it (with the exception of the early start - can you say ouch?)

Alas, I didn't finish up the mega brick (house - that's for you, Jill) workout due to a nagging sore foot. My right paw has been unhappy with me for quite a long time. I'm finally giving in and going to see an orthopedic specialist. I even bet Rick that I wouldn't run again until I saw the good doctor. He thinks I'll try to sneak in a clandestine run some time. It does tempt me - but so far, I am winning the bet.

In the meantime, I guess I'll be logging more time on the bike and in the pool.

BR pictures are coming..

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Real Ironman do wear skirts!

This post was inspired by Bart & Bethany. How many of you think that Bart should sport a trigirl skirt in his next race? I can just see him running over the hills of New Hampshire at Timberman - in his trigirl skirt (a.k.a. running kilt).

Please check out how great Mark and Rick look in their running kilts at Ironman Brazil. I think the kilts show off their killer legs...

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Run - Ironman Brazil

This is a picture of last year's Ironman Brazil winner struggling with the hills this year. If you look carefully, you can see how the road just drops off into space. Yes - that hill really was that steep. By the way, the former IM Brazil winner did eventually drop out during the run.

Ironman races are tough.

Anyway, the run at IM Brazil was much hillier than we expected. Luckily, the really hilly part had beautiful views of the coast of Brazil. I tried to distract myself by gazing off at the ocean, but I was a little afraid that I might trip and fall if I didn't pay attention to the road. Remind me to tell you about the time I wiped out on Monument Avenue just as an ambulance drove by. Yes - the ambulance guys did come back to check on spazzy me. I was a little bruised - but fine.

Anyway, this run had large stretches that were just....desolate. Because it's the start of winter in Brazil, Florianopolis (where the race took place) was basically deserted except for the Ironweirdos. FYI: Florianopolis is a major vacation destination, but not in winter. It was quite a contrast to the Boston marathon, which is lined with people from start to finish.

Right around mile 10, I noticed a woman staggering to the water station. The (very nice) volunteers asked her if she was okay - and she burst into tears and started sobbing. That would be a definitive "no." A few moments later, I heard the ambulance coming to get her.

I decided at that moment to sloooowww down and drink a ton (and eat, too) at every aid station. I really didn't want to have to deal with any kind of medical attention in a foreign country. (Although I will admit that if I had been close to some kind of a PR, I probably would not have slowed down).

I saw almost everyone on the run course (except super speedy Jeff and Karen). Rick even ran with me for about a quarter mile. He was in a great mood as he was having a strong run. He looked like he was flying (even though when he's "just" running a marathon, he runs much, much faster). He waited for me at the finish - directed me to the Gatorade and pizza. This time, I ate the pizza. Rick has been known to steal his ailing friends' pizza at the end of an Ironman race (Blake's at Coeur d'Alene and mine at Florida).

I think I needed more pizza as I woke up at 3:00 a.m. after the race with a growling stomach. Luckily, I had a huge bag of peanut m&ms handy. Yum - peanut m&ms...the recovery food of Ironman finishers!

Whew - Ironman #2 is over!

And now we turn our attention to training for Timberman....and hopefully signing up for Ironman USA (Lake Placid) for 2009.

Monday, June 2, 2008

IM Brazil - the bike

Here's a little picture of Karen and me demonstrating proper aero position. Don't we look like pros? (Or maybe we just look drunk?)

Anyway, back to the race report.

After the long, long swim, I took my time in transition. Two sweet girls who didn't speak one word of English helped me switch to bike mode. They somewhat skillfully applied sunscreen to my back - but did miss a few spots. Got to love that crazy, splotchy burn situation on my back that seems to occur with every triathlon.

Due to our travel delays, we missed all of the course tours, so we didn't really know what we were getting into. For some reason, I thought the course would be flat like Florida. And, it was - with the exception of the four fairly large climbs (and descents). I didn't mind the climbs. It was a nice change of pace from the flat portions of the course. The descents were a bit nerve-wracking due to the cement barricades on the left and the steady line of traffic on the right - as well as the uneven pavement. And inexplicably, there were a couple of cyclists who insisted on riding on the left side - making it impossible to pass. Where is a course marshall when you need one? I think the dudes just didn't want to be passed by an American chick in pink.

The best part of the bike course (besides some gorgeous views of the Brazilian coastline) was seeing all of my teammates at least once. It was a two-loop course, so it made it easy to spot my peeps.

1. Looking across the median to see his pink helmet.
2. Seeing Rick in the tunnel. He thought I had missed the swim cut-off (little did he know I was right behind him) so when he spotted me, he screamed my name (which echoed in the tunnel), "It's SusieQ!!! Go SusieQ!!" Love that guy.
3. Watching the pros leave me in the dust - they are machines.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I just want to make it clear...

that I am quite proud to be a two-time Ironman/trigirl finisher. One of my bestest buddies ever (Amanda -that's you) made a very insightful comment that I seemed down about my second Ironman race.

I'm actually quite pleased and stunned by it. Never in my wildest dreams to I ever expect to finish one (let alone TWO) Ironman races. Much love to Grandison, Mark, Blake, Ed & Som for guiding me along the way.

But, I didn't realize how fantastically magical my first Ironman race felt. Everything just clicked for me - and I truly felt like I was floating (especially on my beloved run). At IM Brazi,(to quote Deanna b) I really didn't have my "mojo." Physically, I felt great (thank you Mark B and Ed for the awesome training over the winter). But, mentally, I wasn't as "spunky" as I like to be. I realize that I can push myself very, very hard. But, in Brazil, my sassiness (inherited from my parents) wasn't there. I was content to just kinda chill on the bike and the run.

And that is okay. I really believe that sometimes you just have to "be." Last year, I reached so many new milestones. Every race was a PR.

But it can't always be that way.

I'm ready to work out simply for the joy of moving my body...breathing that humid but weirdly fresh Virginia air... cheering on my friends as they prepare for their first Ironman (keep a journal or blog ladies and Fred - it's incredible)...staying out kinda late on a Friday for my friends and family more attention...

and just being grateful for these past 1.5 years. Two Ironman finishes, one Boston finish.

Yup - I'm ready to relax for a bit.

Love to all of you.