Friday, August 31, 2012

The Things Not Said

Don't get me wrong I love talking about my races and writing funny posts about what I am thinking as I run, but I think my favorite posts are the ones that are written from my heart.  Sometimes I get caught up trying to come up with post ideas that I think you will enjoy reading but I started writing for me.  To reflect back on things I felt or experienced. To record parts of my life.

If you google advice on how to survive a long-distance relationship (LDR), one of the main points that shows up is to have some kind of plan for when you will be together.  Not together for the weekend, but together long-term.  Living together or in the same city or in the same state.

Want to know my plan?

The no-plan plan.

I have no plan.  Sometimes it gets to me, but other times I think, "I'm only 24 and I have my whole life ahead of me."

I was thinking about this in the context of choosing what to say and what not to say after my vacation to the Dells.

This summer I've been traveling back to Cascade a lot so I've been seeing Matt a lot.  But visits there don't always translate to a quality time together.  There are friends to hang out with, laundry to do, family to see, and events to attend.  I very much enjoy being able to do all those things, but it's nice to spend time chatting and doing things we enjoy together.


Other friends of mine that are or have been in LDRs, tell me that they talk or text with their significant other every or most days.  Matt and I don't do that.  A habit that formed during college when we were both swamped in homework and activities and fun.  I thought that it might change once we were both out of school, but now he is busy with work and hanging out with friends back home and I'm busy training and doing other things.  Does it bother me that we don't talk all the time? Not really.  We've always been independent and I don't like being tied down to the phone at night.  I'd rather talk in person.

Unfortunately, when we don't talk we run into problems.  Like me having a breakdown on the phone doing the ugly cry.  I'm not proud.

I kept thinking of things I wanted to say while we were together, but they all seemed to imply something else.

"I wish we could be together more often."  Somewhere under that statement is "I wish we could live closer to each other" and "I wish you would move closer to Chicago like you said you could."

So instead I keep my mouth shut.  I don't say those things because I don't want to ruin the trip.  To bring those issues up when we are together.

Those things are still there bubbling beneath the surface even if I don't say them aloud though.  I think about them.

We don't talk about our "plan" because neither of us wants to give in.  Matt thinks he's found his dream job and I don't want to move to Iowa.  I enjoy my job and honestly, the job prospects in Iowa for biomedical engineers isn't great.   I chose engineering as a major because it is what I am, it's my passion and I'm certainly not ready to give up on it at the age of 24.


We are stuck in that in-between state.  With no idea where the out is or how to get there.

At times, I am at peace with the situation.  I'm confident that God has a plan for me and for us and that it will work out in the end.  I feel like there is no point dwelling on the future because I don't no what is going to happen and instead, I try to be content in the present.

Then the pendulum swings the other way, and I freak out.  I contemplate throwing in the towel because it is just too much work.  How can it ever work out? I look for faults to make it easier to get out.

It's a complicated situation and I often feel like other people just don't get it.  It's hard to explain.

In the meantime, I just try to be happy with where I'm at.  And trust the plan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wis Dells 2012 -- The better days

Vacation got off to a bad start, but thankfully, the Farmer and I weren't too irritated.  Well he wasn't too irritated with me because he thinks I am a perfect example of Murphy's Law.  I can't say I disagree.

After getting lost on the way to the cheese factory, we finally arrived at Carr Valley Cheese and proceeded to purchase $30 worth of cheese and samples at least 5 different cheeses.

By the way, my fridge still has a ridiculous stock of cheese currently - 6 different varieties!

Then I saw this outside

and had to buy a can of pop.  I never see vending machines with cans of pop anymore.  Fanta Fanta don't you wanta.

Wisconsin has some very beautiful country-side and it was nice to cruise through.  I'm definitely a country girl at heart.  

One of the things I wanted to do while on vacation was some hiking.  Devil's Lake State Park and Mirror Lake State Park are both located close to the Dells and have hiking trails, but since it hurt to bend my foot forward, walking up inclines was difficult and hiking on uneven terrain was definitely a no-go.  Hiking is on my summer bucket list and I will get to it sometime before the dreaded cold settles in.

The Farmer had his eye on another activity - jet boat tour.  We headed off to the dock, but not before we got lost again (seriously someone is a sub-par copilot and that person is not me!).  

We had some time to kill before our boat ride and used it to get in 18 holes of mini golf.  I, with my professional golfing skills, kicked some butt, but the Farmer had the sole hole-in-one of the round.







The Jet Boat Adventure was a blast.  It was a little chilly again (I pick the worst weekends to go on vacation, see last year), but we did have sunshine.


It was adventure boating with a side of history and random facts about the river and the Dells which is right up our alley.  Our captain did a lot of spins and stops to get all the passengers dripping wet.


We learned about the loggers that had to steer there hall through the narrow passageways of the Dells.  Saw the largest rock island.


Chimney work.


A face on a rock.


After drying off and changing clothes, we headed out for our next adventure, The Dark Knight Rises. We both enjoyed the movie, even if I did hide behind my hands during the scary parts (I'm pathetic I realize), but we are voting The Dark Knight the best of the trilogy.

Following the movie we enjoyed pizza and beer at Moose Jaw before satisfying my craving for a caramel apple while the Farmer enjoyed a small gelato.  He was very dissapointed with the size of his cone so I shared some apple with him.

We had absolutely no plans for Sunday and ended up using the free tickets that came with our room to go to Chula Vista Indoor/Outdoor Waterpark.  I really wasn't expecting much  but we had a lot of fun riding on the slides and laying on lawn chairs.


It was hard to say goodbye but I am glad we got to enjoy our weekend in the Dells together.

Even if our trip started off on a bad foot (pun intended), I enjoyed the weekend and didn't let any the issues get in the way of a great trip.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wis Dells 2012--Starting Vacation off Wrong

In a summer filled with over a dozen weddings, several races, and even more long training weekends, I wasn't sure if the Farmer and I would be able to squeeze in any vacation.  Turns out, we had one, yes one, free weekend before Labor Day.  I, of course, wanted to sneak in a quick trip to where else, but the Wisconsin Dells.  In my 24 years of life, I have probably been there 15+ times.  At first, the Farmer was very against this idea, explaining that he was tired of the Dells because WE GO THERE EVERY YEAR.  He was also extremely upset when he found out that Noah's Ark Waterpark replaced his very favorite ride, The Plunge, with some silly not nearly as fun ride.  I thought he might boycott the trip completely but in the two weeks leading up to the vacation he finally gave into the idea.  Most likely because neither of us could come up with any other good ideas for where we could go in 3 days.

Usually I am all over planning like white on rice, but for some reason I let this trip completely slip.  I was unmotivated and the Farmer wouldn't answer any of my questions.  Which meant I was scrambling to find a hotel as I was driving up there on Thursday night.  The Farmer refused to stay at the Carousel Inn because it was "kiddie-heaven" and I refused to stay at the same hotel as last year because of it's sketchy bathroom.  I've noticed lately that hotels in the Dells can pretty much be separated into two categories over-priced, expensive resort hotels with indoor waterparks and over-priced crappy hotels.  We ended up with a reservation in the latter.  By the end of our stay, we realized the bathroom ceiling was leaking and no matter where we put our hotel keys they always de-magnetized and we couldn't get into our room.   The bright side is, the hotel wasn't too spendy.

Vacation already wasn't off to the best start but we were determined to make the best of it.

Then it got worse.

I woke up around 7 am because I've apparently lost the ability to sleep in when I don't have to be at work (although I still struggle to get up at 6:45 am on work days?).  And since the Farmer was certainly not getting up at that hour, I put on my running shoes for a little 10K morning run.  I started by running through downtown Dells then a little out-and-back on the shortest river walk ever.



As I was on my way back to the hotel, I realized I was only at about 4.5 miles and wanted to get to the full 6.2 so I headed out on a little back road for a bit.

A little over a half mile in a car showed up on the road in front of me, I moved towards the left to give the car plenty of room.  Since it was a country road there was no curb and the edges curved off pretty quickly.

My left ankle lost it and rolled over.  I pitched forward and sprawled out over the rocky road.

Owwwwwiiieeeeeee!

As I slowly dragged myself up to my feet, I wondered if I would even be able to walk back to the hotel.  I tentatively put some weight on my left foot and realized though it hurt I could probably start walking back.  My right knee and calf were scraped up as was the outside of my thigh.  A good chunk was taken out of my palm.

I had my phone with me so I tried calling the Farmer, praying that he would pick up.  No dice.  I left him a desperate voicemail which he later replayed for me.  Not cool.  I called him 6 more times.  I thought he was still sleeping and I was pissed that he wasn't answering.

I was a mess. I was limping.  My leg was bleeding.  And I was crying.

The Farmer finally called me back when I was about a quarter mile from the hotel.  Don't bother coming to pick me up now.


Then I had to shower and attempt to scrub the asphalt out of my leg wound.  Not cool.  Thankfully the Farmer was nice and helpful and retrieved some ice for me.

I wasn't about to let my stupid ankle derail my plans for vacation so I loaded up on ibuprofen and we headed off to Noah's Ark for the day.

The pain wasn't actually too bad and the swelling was under control, but I certainly had to hobble a bit and couldn't walk fast.  I knew my ankle would be more sore the next day, which it was so I was glad we went through with the plan to go the the waterpark Friday.

It was sooo cold outside that day though and we spend a lot of time laying in lawn chairs wrapped up in our towels and I couldn't even get into the wave pool.

That evening we had dinner at the Riverwalk Pub were the Farmer enjoyed a New Glarus Spotted Cow and I a Port Huron Honey Blonde.  Our food was delicious as well even though it took a while.  Our server was awesome though and brought me out a complimentary side salad after I told him I was going to eat my arm.

We enjoyed walking a bit on the Riverwalk before we head to head back so I could ice my foot some more and watch more Olympics.


The adventures continued on Saturday when we got lost on the way to the cheese factory.  And I almost had a breakdown in the car.

Thankfully the bad starting going away and good adventures became aplenty after this.

More on the rest of our adventures tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Night of Champions

The problem with not blogging regularly is that I come up with all these post ideas and things I need to tell you guys and then I never write about them.  Then about a month later I decide I still want to tell you about it even if it did happen forever ago.

That's what is happening today.

So if you aren't interested in what happened a month ago, you should stop reading now.

If you haven't discovered by now that I don't recap anything in a reasonable amount of time, then you seriously have not been paying attention.  I'm too busy trying to catch up on Netflix shows or frantically read the 5 books that I checked out from the library before they are due in a week to stay on top of blog posting.

The Thursday night before my half Ironman--that's July 12th for those that don't have my personal calendar next to them--I purchased a ticket to go see some of triathlon's finest.


The even was hosted by my local running and triathlon store Runner's High & Tri in downtown Arlington Heights.  Basically Dave Scott did a little interview with Craig Alexander (affectionately known as Crowie in the triathlon world)  and then question taking was opened up to the audience.


It's possible that you have no idea who the heck these people are and that is totally okay because before I heard about this event I had relatively no idea who they were either.  I had heard of both of them before, but that is pretty much where my knowledge dropped off.

Dave Scott is a six-time Ironman World Champion (SIX!) and now trains and coaches other athletes in the sport including another triathlon great-Chrissie Wellington.  Crowie is a three-time Ironman World Champion  and is planning on racing at Kona again this year!  Both of these athletes have very impressive resumes.


It was an extremely interesting talk although I can't remember quite all the details anymore.  Here are some of the interesting things I remember.
  • When asked if he had any mantras he repeated or songs he sang to motivate himself during a race, Crowie responded that if you have enough energy to sing to yourself then you aren't working hard enough.
  • Audience caught a glimpse of a story about a bad sunburn due to a aluminum foil wrapped sandwich.  
  • An audience member asked what time should his goal be for the Ironman marathon if his marathon PR  is 3:38.  Crowie responded with, "I don't know.  3:39."
  • When asked if he thought if he could beat Crowie in his prime, Dave Scott pretty much avoided the question with statements such as "Equipment has changed so much in comparison to when I raced." In all reality, the bikes that professional triathletes use now are probably half the weight of the bike Dave Scott used.
  • An audience member asked his thoughts on the Lance Armstrong steroid situation (Armstrong was planning on competing in the Ironman World Championship this year, but has been banned from completing while the steroid use investigation is going on).  Crowie responded that although he does think the rule should be changed to not banning an athlete till he or she is found guilty of steroid use, changing it in the middle of the season for one athlete is unfair.  In the past, an athlete has been banned from competing will under investigation for steroid-use and the rules were not changed then either.  
  • Crowie was also racing in the Racine 70.3!
  • Dave Scott had some really great advice for races. He said sometimes athletes can get ahead of themselves thinking about what is coming up in the race, but it is important to just be in the moment.  When you are swimming, don't worry about the bike or the run.  Focus on where you are at that time.
After the talk, audience members were able to get autographs and take a picture with Crowie and Dave.



I was able to talk with them for approximately .5 seconds before snapping a picture and moving on.  

Overall, it was a neat experience and I really enjoyed it!  And great motivation right before my big race!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon 2012 Race Recap

Another long race recap comin' at ya.

Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon 2012
August 5, 2012 at 8:00 am
300 meter pool swim
15.5 mile bike
4K run
Full Results

I called myself a triathlon after my very first triathlon, but now that I've completed 5 I feel like I can now call myself an experienced triathlete.  Note that experienced ≠ expert! I'm definitely not a novice anymore.  I still do things wrong sometimes but I at least know most of the rules.

I had sneakily convinced both the Farmer and my brother to do this triathlon.  And by convinced I told my brother (Jared) that I bet he couldn't do it so then he HAD to prove me wrong (as long as I provided the registration fee).

Sunday morning started off at 5:42 am when my alarm went off.  I slept pretty good that night and feel asleep fairly quickly without all the tossing and turning I usually have before a race.  I had all my stuff packed up the night before to cut down on the chaos in the morning and so all I needed to do was put on my race kit, braid my hair and eat breakfast.  I had stayed at the Farmer's the night before so I could sleep in a real bed instead of on my parent's couch and told my brother we would be there at 6 am to pick him up.  Of course, at 6 am, I am dressed, have half my hair braided, and ready to go and the Farmer just starts making coffee.  Grrr.  I'm not one for talking much in the morning and didn't want to nag at him because I knew he would get irritated with me so I decided to just eat my trusty peanut butter, banana, and toast breakfast there. My mom called me to ask where we were since my brother was waiting so I tried to unsuccessfully rush the Farmer along.  We didn't end up leaving till about 6:15!  I tried to stay calm but I really like to be early for triathlons since there is so much to do to set-up.  

Once we arrived at my parent's house, I finished braiding my hair while the Farmer put Jared's bike in the car.  I made sure we all had what we needed before heading to the race site.  A quick 20 minute drive later, we were unloading our bikes and walking to transition.  Since this is a small triathlon, we were able to rack our bikes together.  Our little group did a short warm up run and some stretching  before hitting the bathroom and then walking over to the pool to pick up timing chips and get body marked.  We were able to get into the pool to do a little warm-up swim (me), swim for the first time in well over a month (the Farmer), and swim for the first time since he quit swim team over 5 years ago (Jared).  



The group got out of the pool around 7:30 and I sat for awhile to take some time to myself to prepare mentally. Even though this was an "easy" race when compared to a half Ironman I still get a little nervous and it helps to take some time to chill and visualize success.  Yes this is super corny but it helps me.  

For the past two years of this race the swim has been at Jones County Central Park and then the bike portion is from Central Park to Camp Courageous.  It makes for a kind of hectic morning with two transition areas and having to take a bus to the swim start.  So this year the event was being held totally at Camp Courageous with the swim supposed to being held at the brand new Lake Todd.  Unfortunately Mother Nature didn't get the memo and with an extremely dry spring and summer the lake is still pretty empty which meant a serpentine pool swim.  Not ideal, but I'd say the whole thing went over very well thanks to the race director and volunteers.

Me swimming.
At about 7:45, we all started lining up with our swim pace groups.  The Farmer, Jared and I split up at this point as I was swimming with the 1:40 pace group (100m time) and they were headed for the 2:10-2:20 pace.  It's pretty hard to know your pace time when you've only swam once or never but they just joined in.  We were supposed to estimate our 100 meter pace time for a 300 meter race but since I swim in a 25 yard length pool I wasn't sure which group to choose.  My pace for a 300 yard swim was somewhere around 1:35-:137 per 100 yards, but that's with a swimsuit and not a dragging tri tip.  And yes I can really tell the difference.  

The Farmer after his goggles bit the dust.
After a quick pre-race meeting the race started and athletes were released in about 10 second intervals.  I was near the front of the pack so it wasn't long before I was running across the timing mat and jumping into the pool.  I ended up passing the girl in front of me in the first length of the pool and passed at least 2 others throughout the swim as well.  The swim went by pretty quickly and was over before I knew it.  


It was 0.2 mile run from the pool to transition area on cement so I took off at a fairly easy jog over there.  Once I was in transition it was a quick change to dry off my legs, put on socks and bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses and race number.  Then it was off for the bike.  The bike was an out and back on 3 different roads. The road seemed fairly empty--most likely from the spread out swim start and I passed a few people and was passed by others.  Typical.  The ride out was fairly uneventful.  A few hills, but nothing too challenging.  The ride back in was were it got interesting as we spent about 4 miles riding straight into a headwind.  Riding into headwinds can be so defeating.  You are pedaling hard on your bike but your speed stinks.  

I did manage to see both the Farmer and Jared on the way back.  I yelled for both of them.  The Farmer looked like he was riding at a fairly hard effort level but my brother wasn't.  He yelled "Go Alyssa!" as I passed by and didn't sound out of breath at all! 


When I was comparing my speeds from this triathlon to the half Ironman, I realized my bike was only .3 mph faster (17.54 mph for half Ironman and 17.8 mph for this race).  I felt like my effort level was much higher so that just goes to show how much more challenging the bike was.  

I had a little trouble dismounting the bike and I need to learn how to do it with my bike shoes.  I honestly never practice transitions, but I probably should. 

Once in transition I quickly switched out my bike shoes for my running shoes, grabbed a quick swig of water and headed out for the run.  Although this run is short (2.5 miles) it is by no means easy.  Not even a little bit.  It starts by winding back through a soft trail through some trees with some short but challenging hills.  I didn't want to walk until the BIG hill so I kept running.  We winded back around towards transition where I saw my mom and started yelling her name.  I had to say it three times before she noticed me!  Probably would have been better to not waste the energy but it was worth it to make sure my mom knew where I was so I could get pictures ;)  


Then I was heading down the huge hill.  I'm sure my pace was awesome at this point because it was so much easier letting gravity do the work.  It was a loooong way down and I was already dreading the trip back up.  Once I got to the bottom there are just two short loops before running up the hill.  I knew I couldn't run all the way to the top but I started with the goal of making it to the water station.  That didn't happen so I just alternated between running and power walking.  Once I got to the top I started running again.  The run course goes by fairly close to the finish line and then winds back through more trails for about the last half mile before shooting out towards transition.  I tried to push my pace and looking back I wish I would have pushed more because I didn't feel very tired at the end.  


Near the finish line I tried to sprint to cross the line, but honestly wasn't that fast. After the finish I collected my new water bottle and turned in my timing chip.  They have a timing tent right after the finish line so I got a print out of my times!


Then I met up with my mom and my grandma to wait for the Farmer and my brother to roll in.  The Farmer was first and Jared followed awhile later.  I told you he wasn't working very hard on the bike! They ran and I snapped pictures of them!  The Farmer finished first and Jared crossed the line a bit later.  


After resting a bit and cheering on some other Cascadians we headed to the lodge for post race breakfast!  There was no shortage of pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes and fruit! The pancakes were seriously delicious!  It's been quite awhile since I've had a pancake and these did not disappoint.  Also of note the watermelon.  I'm not usually a huge fan of breakfasts like this but it was good (maybe because I was so hungry?).  

The award ceremony was next.  I managed to sneak away with 2nd place in my age division for the second year in a row!  



Results:

300m Swim: 5:37 -- 1:52 per 100m
T1: 3:15
15.5 mi bike:  52:13  -- 17.8 mph
T2: 0:48
4K run:  24:02 -- 9:41 per mile

Overall: 1:25:53
  
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