Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gearin' Up for Twenty Twelve!

I can't believe it, but it's time to make my 2012 Race Calendar already! Woo Hoo! It's gonna ROCK!

This is the bare bones, subject to change, well some of the smaller events, that is.

26          Winter Wonderland 10K, Portland International Raceway

   11          Holiday Half, Adidas, Portland, OR

31          First Run 5K, Portland, OR

1          Resolution Run 5K, Portland, OR

18          Shamrock Run 15K, Portland, OR

7          Beaver Freezer Sprint Triathlon, Corvallis, OR 
5          Ride Around Clark County, Vancouver, WA 
TBA          Portland Triathlon Club Mock Olympic Tri, Vancouver Lake, Vancouver, WA

17          Vancouver (USA) Marathon, Vancouver, WA

  TBA      Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon, Blue Lake, Fairview, OR

15          Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman, Sonoma County, CA 
  21-22?          Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour, Brookfield, WI         
Would love to do with the Badgercast People! TBA
TBA          Portland Olympic Triathlon, Portland, OR

TBA          Stumptown 70.3 Long Course Triathlon, Blue Lake, Fairview, OR

7          Portland Marathon, Portland, OR

Pretty aggressive calendar, an event every month, but in a way, better than this year where I had 3-4 events a month. Will probably end up that way as the year progresses, especially in the summer months.

What's notable? My first 70.3 Half Ironman events! Two marathons! Maybe the Scenic Shore Bike Ride in Wisconsin with Badgercast! What's missing?  Sadly, Hood  to Coast in August (we missed the entry deadline for the first time in 15 years!!) unless I find a team that needs a new member; Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, same time as Vineman 70.3; Rev3 70.3, same time as Vineman 70.3.

So, let's hit it. 38 weeks to my first Half Ironman! Bring it (sorry, Tony Horton)!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What a Year!

Never Limit Your Challenges...Challenge Your Limits
A Reflection...

Last week as I finally worked on decorating the walls in my training room, listening to the broadcast of Ironman Kona streaming live on my computer, I came to realize what an amazing, transformational year this was for me. And interestingly, for some reason, I had thought the events of this year had spanned two years, and it was so surprising to me that I felt it was important to reflect on it.

I had dabbled in running and biking in years past, having done a couple 5Ks and even a half-marathon, which I was woefully unprepared for, ridden my road bike with the Vancouver Bicycle Club and in the Providence Bridge Pedal, but I was not really a runner and was a very recreational cyclist. As I blogged earlier this year, I changed to a vegan diet April 2010, had lost some weight and gained energy, and after a major life event several months later, started to run for exercise and stress relief.

Muddy Buddy, October 2010
October 2010, on a lark, a friend and I decided to do the Muddy Buddy adventure race, a 10K two-person relay race completed in costume and included mountain biking, obstacles, and running. I wasn't fast, I walked parts of my 5K run, but I had a ball! At the end I realized that I had actually done two-thirds of a triathlon, and that if I could figure out how to train for the swim, I could someday actually do one. I continued to run, rode as much as I could with the Vancouver Bike Club, and kept thinking about triathlon.

By December, I was sure, well, more certain. I had no clue how to proceed. I Googled "triathlon Portland" and discovered the Portland Triathlon Club. I bought a book a friend had loaned me years ago, Slow, Fat Triathlete: Live your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now, and got inspired and some advice on how to start. I just didn't know anyone who did triathlons. I ended up posting on the Google Group for the tri club looking for another Vancouver area triathlete willing to work with a "newbie" and met Christine, who gave me some guidance and encouragement, someone to bounce questions off of and do some training with. And I started to blog, for me, an open journal that I thought would keep me honest and motivated knowing that friends and family would see lack of effort if I didn't keep it up.

My progress is tracked in my blog, so I won't repeat every detail. But fast forward to today, 45 pounds lighter, leaner, down from a size 18 (gah!) to a size 10, and more energetic than ever! I discovered a picture of me that Julie (Donttickleme) of the Badger Cast Podcast had posted when they made their trip here from Wisconsin last year; I untagged myself in Facebook because I was so embarrassed how I looked, but then I thought I'd share it as the change is pretty startling!

Back in April 2010 there was no way I would have thought I could run a marathon. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my whole life and other than just starting to change my diet, was pretty complacent about my fitness. I wasn't really happy about my situation, but pretty resigned to it--I think that's easy to do when you're overweight. Now, I am happy all the time! I turned 39 last year, and I have to say, it was the best year of my life, hands down! I truly believe there is a direct link between fitness/health and happiness. I'm thinking 40 is really going to rock!

Bib Wall for this year
Running Events
* indicates Bucket List item completed
  • 15K Shamrock Run
  • 10K Bridges to Brews
  • 21K Vancouver Half Marathon
  • 5K Pineapple Classic
  • Hood to Coast Relay*
  • 42K Portland Marathon*

I ran just under 500 miles this year. I don't have the exact number as I didn't track my mileage before I had my Garmin. While that is quite a bit of running, I do need to increase my mileage for next year. I also need to pay more attention to the timing of events so I can best prepare. I had difficulty getting my long runs done for my Portland Marathon prep because I was always in a taper for a triathlon or cycling/running event. I am planning on completing the Vancouver (full) Marathon June 2012.

Bike Jersey Wall
Cycling Events
* indicates Bucket List item completed! 
  • 66 mile Ride Around Clark County
  • 200 mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic*

I cycled over 800 miles this year. Again, don't have mileage prior to the Garmin. I'd like to do more cycling events this next year. I was really focused on improving my running and swimming, so didn't work so much on cycling. I am thinking about investing in a tri bike and also planning on being a spectator at some cyclocross events to see what that's all about. I would need to get a bike for cyclocross too.

* indicates Bucket List item completed! 
  • Mock Sprint Tri*
  • Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon*
  • Midsummer Sprint Triathlon (1st place in Age Group)
  • Portland Sprint Triathlon (3rd place in Age Group)
  • Stumptown Sprint Triathlon (2nd place in Age Group)

Wow is all I can say! Was a dream come true to do triathlons! I actually had four more scheduled, but two were canceled (Hagg Lake Iron Girl Sprint Tri and the Two Rivers Sprint Triathlon in Woodland, WA) and I didn't compete in two (Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Tri in Vancouver due to ulnar neuropathy, and Lake Tahoe Iron Girl Sprint Tri in California due to scheduling conflicts).

Most Apocalypse Ready Triathlete
The Portland Triathlon Club was a really important part of my success this year. Club meetings, presentations, training events, support, and friendships helped me beyond description.  

We recently had our 2011 banquet where I was awarded the Most Apocalypse Ready Triathlete! Apparently the story of showing up to my bike fitting at Upper Echelon Fitness with my big bike bags full of first aid supplies and bike tools got around. Proof of the encouragement and attention this group has for each other.

What's Next?

Because I wanted to pay back all the Portland Triathlon Club has given me, I have decided to take a more active role in the club. This year I will be serving as a board member and Chair of the Membership Committee, something I am completely psyched about! I am so looking forward to meeting new members, doing outreach at athletic events, and being even more involved with training and other club events.

I'm challenging my limits once again...I will be signing up for the Vineman 70.3 Half-Ironman, held July 15, 2012 in Windsor, California! I have heard great things about this event and am looking forward to the work that will be required to get myself ready! Other than that, I will be scheduling running events, such as the Vancouver Marathon, probably the Shamrock Run again, helping with the Mock Tri, and definitely at least one of the Blue Lake triathlons since I have been given a complimentary registration for completing all three Blue Lake triathlons last year. I'm sure there will be more cycling events and would really like to do Cycle Oregon, perhaps 2012 will be the year. I'd also like to add swimming events, like the Hagg Lake Swim or the Columbia River Cross Channel Swim.

I want to give a special thank you to my family for their encouragement and support this year, especially Mother Superior, who came to nearly all of my triathlons, getting up at the crack of dawn, schlepping my gear, waiting around for official results, and listening to my chatter about bike components, chaffing, gel, and other triathlon-related nonsense! I really recommend getting the book Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete by Jef Mallett for your family and friends affected by your obsession with triathlon...I know Mom got a big kick out of it!

Alright, so it's on to Season 2! Thank you all for your support. I really do appreciate the feedback on the blog and all of your comments and encouragement through email, Facebook, Twitter, and texts. I'm not sure I've told you all how much that helps. Thanks for the MOJO and best wishes to you all on your personal journeys!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Portland Marathon Race Report

Finisher's Schwag from Portland Marathon!

I am a Marathoner!

Wow! What an experience! I ran my first marathon. I feel so fortunate to have been able to do that, something that, quite frankly, a couple of years ago I wouldn't have thought I could ever do. Not sure it was even on my bucket list. But thanks to my training partner, Christine, who signed up for it, and the principle of cosmic signs (this being the 40th anniversary of the Portland Marathon, two weeks after my 40th birthday, and held on my mother's birthday), I signed up!

The Course

The course is very nice, a couple of hills (elevation profile below. What was neat for me, was that I had either run or cycled every bit of this course at some point, so it was familiar to me. This course included bits of the Providence Bridge Pedal, Seattle to Portland Ride, Shamrock Run, Portland Triathlon, Run Like Hell, and Hood to Coast Run, and it was really fun for me to reminisce about each of those events as I ran this course.

Route Summary Notated on the Finisher's Shirt

It was neat to hear folks from out of the area running this course, because it is so scenic. I was running next to someone from out of town at the beginning and I really enjoyed hearing him praise Portland when we entered China Town through the Chinese Gate.

I haven't run other marathons, but the other thing that is so wonderful about this event is all the music along the way. Every couple of miles was a group, steel drums, marimbas, singers, drummers, bagpipers, etc. I wish I had pictures! They were on overpasses, on lift cranes, alongside the roadway. My favorite was the Asian drum group in Chinatown.

There were a couple of hills on the course, the most noticeable to me was at mile 17, which is the approach to the St. John's Bridge. I actually don't really remember the hill before mile 5!

My Portland Marathon Experience

Happy Girls with Race Bibs
Christine and I went to the Expo at the Portland Hilton to pick up our bibs and timing chips. It was soooo crowded. We really didn't go through much of the Expo since there were so many people, and, I just really wanted to spend the day before the race resting.

The unfortunate part, was that Christine was not feeling well at all. She didn't feel any better by late that evening and was running a slight fever and ended up having to withdraw from the event. Really a bummer for her after raising so much money for the American Cancer Society AND the impetus for me signing up for the marathon!

With Zach, heading to the starting line!

I headed into town about 5:20 AM from my house and found a great parking spot in a parking garage at 1st and Jefferson. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the bag check! The map on the back of the bib showed bag check at 3rd and Salmon, but that was only for the B wave; bag check for my wave, F, was at 2nd and Taylor, so, a little confusion for me to start with.

Weather was perfect, overcast, 55 degrees. I had made a garbage bag poncho to wear while waiting, expecting rain, but I didn't need it and ended up disposing of it in the garbage at the start.

With 12,000 runners and walkers, you wouldn't think I'd run into someone I knew, but I did! One of our new Portland Triathlon Club members, Zach Goodman, was lined up in my wave about 25 feet away. It was really nice to have a familiar face!

So, about 10 minutes to start and I have to go to the bathroom...gah! I should have gone. I was worried I didn't have enough time to do it, but, our wave started about 10 minutes after the first wave, and the time is based on your timing chip, so it wouldn't have been a big deal if I was late. Lesson learned. I figured that I'd stop at the first aid station, but when we got there at mile 2, there was a huge line, so I passed it up. By that time, nature took care of having to pee (sorry, this might be TMI for some) and I didn't have the urge for the other function anymore.

My first half was FANTASTIC! I really, really enjoyed this part. I felt great. I watched my pace and made sure I slowed down when I was hitting 9:00 miles. I tried to stay at 10:00 mile so I wouldn't wear myself out. My goal pace for the race was 10:30. I saw Portland Triathlon Club member Sherrie Austin, who was doing the half-marathon, around mile 10 after then turnaround on Front Avenue, and Zach Goodman at mile 15, who was looking strong!

The plan was to run without walking until mile 17, which is the hill up to the St. John's Bridge. However, at mile 15.5...I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom. I've never had GI issues on a run before, but experienced it this race. I had just passed an aid station and knew there'd be something ahead, and fortunately found a lone portapotty at mile 16. Another lesson learned...a one piece triathlon suit may not be the best thing to wear during a marathon. It took about 7 minutes to use the bathroom since I had to completely undress to do it.

It started to drizzle at mile 15.5 as well. But it felt good. I walked up the bridge approach and then ran the St. John's Bridge. At this point, my legs felt very heavy. I switched to a run 0.75 mile and walk 0.25 mile regimen. I adjusted this for hills (ran downhills to take advantage of faster pace time) and aid stations (walked 0.25 miles from start of aid station). Rain stopped about mile 17.5.

For nutrition I had made my own gel from dates, coconut nectar, lemon juice and zest, and salt, and carried a 5 oz flask of it with me. My first gel was at aid station around mile 6 and then every few miles after that at aid stations so I could follow the gel with water. It worked great for me. I did do a vegan cheat and had some gummy bears at about mile 18, and think I will carry vegan fruit chews with me in future long events because it was really nice to have something to chew.

Mile 19...I need a portapotty AGAIN! Oh no! Found one shortly, and another 7 minute delay.

Mile 20 I saw Becky and James Hillary from the Portland Triathlon Club and gave them both big sweaty hugs! I remember James asking me if I was having fun and I shouted a resounding, "Yes!!"

By mile 22, I was GIDDY! I don't know why, but I couldn't stop smiling! I was surprised at how emotional I was during this event. I cried at the beginning, at the beginning of the Bluff, on the Broadway Bridge, and at the end! Mile 23, with 3 miles to go, I was tired. I told myself that this was nothing different than starting the run at the end of a sprint triathlon, just pretend that you just got off the bike and you only have three miles to run to the finish...that kinda helped.

Broadway Bridge, 23.5 miles...I saw my dad. Well, my dad died February 2008. In the middle of the bridge, all alone in the oncoming lane was a spectator who looked EXACTLY like my dad. I was worried that I was hallucinating and asked the person running next to me if she could see that man standing there, and she did. It was a very startling thing, and it made me start to cry again. I do an internal shout-out to my dad at the start of every event, and I know he's with me when I race. I really had to talk myself out of hyperventilating and crying at this point and be thankful for an amazing coincidence to help me to the end of the race.

The last two miles were a blur. I walked/ran them. I really had to be in my head to get it done. The crowd lining the course was wonderful, shouting my name and cheering as I approached. Turned two corners off of Naito and there it was, the finish line! I had pulled my earphones out so I could hear them announce my name, Cindy Thompson, a Portland Marathon finisher! Arms in the air for the photo finish!

My official marathon time is 05:04:30. I was shooting for a 5 hour marathon, so I think that's pretty good! Removing my bathroom breaks, with all the undressing and redressing time, would take me down to a 4:54:53. So, for next time, I will wear running shorts instead of the trisuit, and will go to the bathroom RIGHT before the start.

With my medal and rose!

I felt pretty good all in all. My feet and ankles were achy at the end. I grabbed some food, picked up my coin, pendant, baby Douglas fir tree to plant, and had my official finisher photo taken, then headed to my car. Once home, it was straight to an ice bath, a warm bath, and a vegan veggie pizza for a treat! I iced my right ankle, which was the most sore, did some foam rolling and stretching before bed. I used a heating pad on my thighs and hip flexors while I slept.

This morning, the right ankle is a little sore and thighs are sore. I have three blisters on my right foot, on big and second toe where they rub together, and on the pad of the 4th toe. Like I suspected last week, my right running shoe wore out. I really didn't think it was a good idea to wear new shoes on my first marathon, so I paid a bit of a price with my right foot. Not sure how my foot would have fared with wearing a new shoe. I have a sports massage this afternoon and am really looking forward to that.

Thank you for everyone for your support and cheering and inspiration! It has been a fantastic year for me. I will be posting a year-end reflection in a couple of days. Hard to believe it has only been a year since I started this adventure!