Monday, December 12, 2011

On Love

Today marks two years of wedded bliss for Mr. Fury and I.  I debated whether or not to post about this because I typically don't divulge too much personal information on my blog, but since it's my blog, I'm allowed to change the "rules" whenever I want.  So, to Mr. Fury, thank you for your love, compassion, support and guidance over the years we have been together.  I don't just celebrate today, but every day and every second we have spent together, even the times we fought and disagreed and sometimes just didn't like each other very much.  You are such a blessing in my life.  Thank you for giving me all these moments and all the moments I have etched in my memory:

Above all, thank you for this:

I love you forever.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two Posts in One Day?!

I just couldn't pass up sharing this.  I was just on my sister-in-law's blog and she posted some incredibly cute pictures of my nephew.  Take one look at this picture and tell me with a straight face you could pass up posting again about him.  Seriously, A and L, you made one cute baby!

Look at me, I'm two-posts-a-day worthy!

Preggers in the Pool

I decided that since I am past my first trimester and I no longer have debilitating bouts of nausea, that it was high time I got my growing butt cute pregnant booty in the pool. After work last week, I made the trek down to the club, and said a little prayer that my swim suit would still fit. I left my oldest and most stretched out suit in my locker at the club and really hoped that I had not grown too big to fit into it again. Thankfully, I was able to wear the suit without ripping a hole in it, but I did feel like a packed sausage. There’s little hope that I will be able to fit into that suit a couple of weeks from now because when I put it on again this morning, it felt tighter than the last time I wore it. Honestly, it might be smart to switch to a two-piece and just let it all hang out! That sounds cheaper than buying a new suit every few weeks.

I didn’t really know what to expect getting into the water. Every woman I have talked to about swimming during pregnancy said that the water is best place to be because the pregnancy weight feels like it has been lifted right off you. I soon found this to be true, and oh baby did it feel good to be in the water! I felt like an athlete again. There was little difference between Ironman Ms. R and pregnant Ms. R in the water, and to me, that feeling is priceless. I have struggled mentally with having to slow down my running and sometimes having to ride upright on my bike, but being in the water, I have little to no limitations. I think I will be swimming at least twice a week from here on out because I can get such a good (and zero bladder impact!) workout in the pool. I have to thank my sister-in-law for recommending the pool to me on multiple occasions because I really was nervous that the motion in the water was going to make me feel ill. Sometimes it just takes a little, repeated nudging to convince me something is a good idea.

Because I know you’re all dying to know about my eating habits, I'm sorry to report that I don’t have any weird or unusual cravings, but I did rediscover Flamin’ Hot Cheetos the other day at work. Oh momma, those things are delicious! I made the mistake of telling a lot of people in my office about how good they are and now there are none left in the vending machine. I need to learn to keep some things to myself. Apparently, Baby W loves spicy everything and I won’t be surprised if he/she comes out wearing a sombrero and shaking maracas. I can tell my tolerance for spice has gone up since I got pregnant, but sometimes it just seems a little bit out of control. I put Tobasco and Sriracha sauce on just about everything I eat, and oh, can I have a side of jalapenos with that? It’s a little concerning, yet comical, to Mr. Fury. The poor guy doesn’t really enjoy spicy anything himself, but he’s been a trooper when it comes to my cooking. I try to tone it down for him and add more spice after he’s taken his fill, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I remind him that he’s just being a good daddy by putting up with my newly found obsession. Baby gets what baby wants, right?

Mr. Fury has been very busy with my dad the past few weeks putting in new windows upstairs. This is a project we started planning not long before finding out I was pregnant because the spare bedroom upstairs needed new windows in a bad way. Right after peeing on the stick and thinking, "Holy crap, there's no turning back now!" I promptly thought, "Oh #*(%, we need to order those new windows NOW!" We were not really in a rush pre-bun in the oven to buy the windows because they're so darn expensive. After consulting with my dad and shopping around, we got 10% off at Home Depot and an extra $125 off when they screwed up our order. We didn't mind making another trip into the store to get things corrected and save some more money so thanks Home Depot! Anyway, Mr. Fury and my dad just put in the last window and now we can go pick out new carpet so that can be installed soon too. Sheesh, this kid is already costing us a lot of money, and I hear it only gets worse!

Monday, October 24, 2011

From Ironman to Ironmom

Life has been a whirlwind since Ironman CDA. It seems like the race was only a month or two ago, so looking back, it's hard to believe that it's been almost four months. Mr. Fury and I didn't accomplish all the things on our summer 'to-do' list, but we did have a lot of fun running Ragnar together with some great people, celebrated his dad's new marriage, vacationed with family in Duluth, went to the cabin a time or two, got a few home projects started and some finished, and rounded it all out by getting pregnant. So, all-in-all, it's been a pretty eventful summer and fall since Ironman.

It's been a crazy transition from Ironman-in-training to mommy-in-training, and downright tough on my ego and self-esteem at times. The first thing I crossed off my list of things I'm able to do is speed work. I was really getting into doing speed work this training season and actually kind of liked it. There's something about your lungs burning that makes you feel alive. Well, no more of that until after baby comes. It's just too hard on baby, my belly and with all the heartburn I have had, I really didn't need to help the acid creep up my throat any further. The fatigue and nausea hit me pretty hard during my first trimester. Whenever I could muster enough energy for a run or didn't feel like I needed to hang out by the toilet, I tried to get out for a run. Unfortunately, those times have been far and few between since I found out I was pregnant, but now that I'm going into my second trimester, I'm feeling a lot better and looking forward to getting out on the trails again.

I really am aiming to stay active as long as my body and baby allows me. I have read some serious benefits to continuing weight bearing exercise throughout pregnancy for both mom and baby, and I can not sit still for very long until I go stir crazy. So, I look to you, my few lady readers, what pregnancy tricks and knowledge do you have to share? And to my partners of a pregnant lady readers, any partner knowledge to share for Mr. Fury or I? We're newbies at this whole thing and welcome any advice!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ironman CDA

Sunday was up and down in more ways than one.

My day started with a 4:30 am wake-up call so we could leave the house by 5:15. Neil, Betsy, Mike B and I made our various race day breakfasts: oatmeal, bagels with peanut butter and banana and a big glass of water. We sat in silence as we attempted to eat. We all had the race day jitters and you could feel the anxiety in the air. I had so much anxiety built up from my last tri racing experience at Pigman last summer where I didn't finish. I was paranoid that I wasn't eating enough pre-race, I would get hungry during the swim, I was going to bonk on the bike and not even start the run. I had so much of this anxiety building over the course of this training season and I needed to prove myself wrong. I needed to really believe that I was going to be OK and fully rely on the hundreds of training hours I put in over the last 36 weeks.

At 5:15, Mike drove us down to the transition area where we dropped off our special needs bags for the bike and run, checked on our transition bags for the bike and run, and got ready for the swim. I felt marginally better when we arrived at the race site, but I knew that we still had an hour and a half before the cannon went off. Neil took off to check on his things while Mike B. and Betsy waited in the long port-o-potty lines and I put on my wetsuit. The four of us regrouped around 6:40, dropped off our morning clothes bags with the volunteers and then made the slow walk to the beach. There were so many people trying to get down to the beach that we only had to wait a few minutes before the cannon went off. When we got to the beach, we said our last "good lucks" to each other before the boys went closer to the water while Betsy and I found a somewhat comfortable area in the middle and off to the side of the pack. We ended up being more in the exact middle than we anticipated, but with 2,460 racers, it was hard to find your way to the perimeter.

The cannon went off at exactly 7am and all 2,400+ of us made our way from the beach to the balmy, 57 degree waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene. I had an idea of what the swim would be like based on my experience at Ironman Wisconsin where there was a mass start with everyone starting in the water. That was a stepping stone to the mass beach start. There are few words to describe that experience, but one of them is definitely, "Chaos." There were arms and legs everywhere, people swimming over other people, and I feel lucky to say that I only got hit in the face and kicked in the stomach once. It was incredibly difficult to find space the entire first lap of the swim, and with females comprising only 27% of the racing field, I was constantly surrounded by men. No offense to all the guys out there, but I don't like to swim by y'all. I hate to stereotype, but I have rarely found this stereotype to be inaccurate especially when it comes to longer distance racing: men are notorious for grabbing ankles, throwing elbows and being generally obnoxious in the water. I think I did a fairly good job of holding my own during the swim and made it out of the water without injury. In Ironman, that is called a successful swim. On the second lap of the swim, I noticed that my ring finger on my right hand was quite literally frozen in place. The water was so cold that my finger was stuck in a half-way bent position and I could tell that my middle finger was soon to follow. Thankfully, the beach was in site.

Swim: 1:17:21

(On a total side note, there is absolutely no shame during Ironman. None.)

The water was so brutally cold that getting out of the swim and going into T1, I couldn't feel anything. My legs were numb, I couldn't grab anything with my hands and my feet were white. I got my wetsuit stripped, grabbed my T1 bag and ran into the changing tent. Thank God for the amazing volunteers in the changing tent because without them, I would have struggled to get my bike gear on for another 20 minutes. The volunteer that helped me was great. She dumped out my transition bag and said, "What do you want to put on first?" and then she jumped into helping me get dressed. My volunteer completely undressed and dressed me all the way down to my socks, shoes and helmet. I could not do a thing and every time I tried to help she just said to me, "Don't worry, I've got it."

T1: 10:36

I was so thankful to be out of the water and on my bike that I didn't think much about the fact that I would now be biking for the next 7 hours of the race. I didn't care and it didn't much matter to me at the time since I was no longer in the water. Until mile 20, I didn't have feeling in my legs because they were numb. They were moving and they were doing the work I needed them to do, but I didn't have a clear idea of how hard I was pushing. I was grateful when the feeling finally returned; just in time for the hilly section of the course. From mile 20-45 the course consisted of all of the hills with the exception of 2 (which make their appearance at the beginning of the course). In between these two sections, there is a flat section that I looked forward to hitting on both loops of the course. This was by far the most challenging bike course I have ridden. It wasn't just the elevation gain that was a challenge, but the technicality of the course is unmatched in my racing history. This course is riddled with steep climbs followed by fast declines, sharp turns, and blind approaches. From the start of the bike, I couldn't get my nutrition under control. At first, I took too much. Then, during the hilly section of the bike, I couldn't take in enough calories. This routine unfortunately repeated itself on the second lap of the bike and I was really concerned about how I was going to feel on the run. Riding the flat section back into transition, I knew I was right where I wanted to be as far as my time. I came into transition around 8:30 hrs with my stomach still feeling pretty queasy and feeling hopeful that I could remedy my nutrition woes on the run.

Bike: 7:01:22

Transition 2 went much more smoothly than the first. I took care of dressing myself this time! I still couldn't really feel my toes from the swim, but I knew that when I started running, the feeling would come back. The volunteer that was helping me dumped out my bag, handed me all my items, and helped me put on my race belt. She gave me some words of encouragement, I grabbed some pretzels on the way out of the change tent, stopped at the sunscreen ladies just outside the tent and they slathered up my face, arms and legs, and then I was on my way out to the run course.

T2: 6:47

Starting the run, I knew I would have to pace myself. My legs felt pretty good coming off the bike and I wanted to be able to push it. My goal on the run was to run a 4:30 marathon. I knew it was possible, but I had to watch my pace and make sure I didn't push it too hard out of the gate. I tried to keep my pace and heart rate in check, but the excitement of being off the bike took over and I ran my first mile in 8:30min. I kept telling myself, "SLOW DOWN!" Finally, by mile 2.5 I found my pace and goal heart rate, and my stomach started to even out and feel better. I started the run eating pretzels, keeping that up between water stops, and I supplemented that by taking in oranges, bananas, powerade, water and finally succumbing to cola near mile 21. This seemed to calm my stomach and allowing me enough calories to keep going.

The same big hill we started on the bike was the same hill we had to run up and over, and then turn around and run up again and back down. This hill was a killer, but I decided early on in the race that I wasn't going to stop and walk going up or down either side of it. I gave myself permission to walk only during the water stops and that was it. I didn't want to fall into the trap of walking any other time during the run because it was so hard to get going again. I ran focusing on the pavement 10 feet in front of me, thinking about a quote from Clarence DeMar a friend posted on my wall before the race, "Run like hell and get the agony over with." So, I did. I ran like hell. I ran as fast as I could go without going out of my zones.

The first lap was a little faster than I intended so I knew the second lap was going to be a little slower. And, it was slower, and more painful than the first. The bottoms of my feet started to ache and felt like they were swollen. Everything started to ache including my skin, but I knew in just over 2 hours, it was all going to melt away when I ran down the finisher chute. I remained focused on the hill; up, over, turn around, up, down. Run to the water stop, orange, banana, Powerade, water, cola, start running again. This was my schedule, and I stuck to it. I saw Neil going up the hill shortly before the turn around, on the way back down the hill, I saw Betsy. We stopped to give each other some encouragement, and she laughed as she picked out some ear plug from my hair that had been there since the swim. We parted ways and I found Mike B. on his way to the turn around. He had a rough day and his expression said it all. I yelled to him to keep going, and he smiled and waved. I shuffled through the remaining miles, and got to the last water stop before the finish line. The last woman at the stop had chicken broth and she asked if I wanted some. I looked at her, smiled and said, "No thanks, I'm going home!!" She laughed, yelled at me, "Take it home!" and I was off.

Finally, I was to the split in the course; second lap to the right, finish line to the left, and I got to run to the left. Running around the corner to Sherman Ave was nothing less than glorious. The street was packed with spectators, I could see the finish line at the end of the street, and it was all downhill. Turning the corner, I couldn't help the flood of emotion. It felt as good as it did the first time I finished Ironman, and the tears came running down my face. (At least I was hydrated enough to cry!) I hit the carpet of the finish line, and the spectators in the bleachers were going crazy. I ran down the left side of the finish line giving high fives, and I found Mike and my cousin Paul in the crowd going crazy! I gave them both a high five, and then (literally) danced across the finish line. My dance wasn't coordinated or on beat, but who cares. I am an Ironman again.

Run: 4:31:39

Finish Time: 13:07:45

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adventures in Cooking and Stuff

I'm making my first attempt at cooking an artichoke for dinner tonight.  I'm not talking about canned hearts, but the whole damn thing.  I've never done this before and I've wanted to try for awhile so when I bought groceries online I bought an artichoke to try it out.  Yes, I did say that I bought groceries online.  I'm training for Ironman and I hate going grocery shopping so I figured it was a great time to try out the order online, pick-up later feature.  It was overall pretty awesome, and you should try it. I digress... 

So, where was I? Oh yes, I was just about to tell you about how I was assaulted by the artichoke which I was so excited to prepare for my delicious dinner feast.  I know very little about artichokes other than I find them absolutely delightful.  They're so deliciously buttery and my mouth is watering just thinking about eating them.  I've never touched a whole artichoke before it was cooked though, let alone cooked one myself so this has truly been a voyage into the wild blue green yonder.  Trimming the thing was quite entertaining.  First of all, did you know that artichokes have thorns?  Thorns!  I read this online and thought, no, really?   I had no idea artichokes had thorns.  I later found this to be true when I was trying to trim the artichoke and I got pricked. Hard.  The thorns look cute and harmless, but those suckers hurt!  Also, and I was not warned of this online, but the innards of this weird looking vegetable are also sharp!  What the heck?!  There's like a thousand little thorns inside it!  Well, I showed that artichoke who's boss and put it in a pot and steamed it.   It's still cooking so you'll have to ask how it tasted later.  

On to other happenings in the Fury household.  I finally got my new bike, and her name is Stella.  She's going to rock everyone's face off (including mine) when I finally get to ride her.  Unfortunately, I've been laid up with the flu this past week so she's been parked in the guest bedroom all sad and lonely.  She's beautiful, and the current love of my life.  Move over Mr. Fury! 

In racing news, I ran the Get Lucky Half-Marathon put on by Team Ortho a couple weeks ago with my friend SP (aka Asspounder).  He and I discussed our racing goals previous to this race and he really wanted to qualify for a corral spot for Chicago Marathon in October, and I really wanted to PR.  In order for him to get in the last corral before general entry he needed to race 1:50 or better, and to get the next best corral spot he had to race 1:45 or better.  Race morning we discussed what our plan was going to be, and we decided to go for the gold and try to cross the finish line before 1:45.  Hm...sounds like a challenge!  We didn't really warm-up before the race, which was pretty stupid considering our goal time, but we did take the first mile relatively easy at 8:25/mile.  We knew we would have to speed things up in order to finish sub-1:45, so we sped up to closer to 8:00 min miles until the turn around.  At that point, we knew we had to run sub 8:00s to finish with the 1:45 pace group.  Our plan at that point was to run 7:50s until we caught up to the pace group.  This plan is flawless*, right?  Well, it would have been more flawless if the 1:45 pacer was running a 1:45 pace, but as we later found out, the pacer crossed the finish line at 1:43ish and then cheered in his pace group. What?  Who does that?  Needless to say, we never caught up to the pace group, but it all worked out because SP and I crossed the finish line at 1:44:40.  He got his corral spot and I got my PR by 7 minutes.  Goodness, it feels good to PR and know that I'm not as slow as I thought I was in January.  After shedding a few layers of clothes and a major snow melt, it turns out I'm actually a half-way decent runner.  Thanks SP for pushing me because I really don't think I would have run that hard had it not been for you. 

In other really happy news, I found out two friends are planning on camping their way to CDA to cheer for BV, NH, and I.  I am so excited that we'll have an expanded cheer group out there, I can hardly contain myself!  I think this will be good for Mr. Fury also to have a couple other familiar faces out there during the race.  So, anyone else interested in going out to Coeur d'Alene to cheer us on?  

* I was starting to think that this was either going to be awesome or the greatest blow-up we've both experienced in racing. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

It Happened on a Wednesday

Everyone has heard of runner's high, but is it possible to achieve swimmer's high?  I think it is and last Wednesday, I also think I may have achieved it.  Approximately every six weeks I have a 400 yd test worked into my swim workouts.  Typically, this is the worst swim for me.  I struggle to get through the 400s fully focused and sometimes I have a really hard time getting into my groove and finding my stroke.  I think it's knowing that the distance isn't that long, but long enough to warrant some serious concentration.

I found during my second test of the season that if I thought about one person for every lap of the 400, I really could focus.  So, I started dedicating laps to my family: my brothers, sister-in-law, brother's girlfriend, mom, dad, husband.  It was amazing what it did for my speed and focus.  Without this focus, I was swimming a 6:40 400, but with this new focal point, I got my times consistently down to a 6:30.  Well, of course, I got a little restless swimming a 6:30 400.  I need to be stronger and faster and better than a 6:30, so for my third 400 swim test of the year, I wanted to beat the 6:30.

I think I chose a bad day to try to beat this time.  I woke up late for work, I had a crappy day, I was tired, and I had a million excuses to not get in the pool.  As usual, I made myself go with the thought that once I was finished with my swim, I would be happy I went.  So, I got in the pool and sucked it up like a big kid, and found that I regretted almost every moment of my warm-up and my first 400.  I looked at my watch, and I came in at 6:41 for my first 400.  Great, it's going to be that kind of swim. Ugh.  I tried focusing on my family, and that helped for the second 400: 6:32.  Sweet, back on track.  Third 400: 6:31, nice!  At least I'm being somewhat consistent.  I only had one more 400, and typically I swim the fourth one the fastest.  I reset my watch, and kicked off the wall.  For some reason, everything felt really good.  My breath was steady, my stroke was strong, and my kick wasn't all over the place like it was on the first 400.  I felt better and happier in the watter than I have all season.  I got through all eight laps, stopped my watch, and saw 6:19 frozen on the watch face.  What? For real!?  A-W-E-S-O-M-E! I did not think that I was going to swim it considerably faster than my second or third, but sometimes I do surprise myself.  So there it is:  Swimmer's High.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ironman Revisited

Many of you that read my blog already know this news, but for those of you that don't know, I am taking on the challenge of Ironman again.  Yes, 140.6 miles of pure bliss is coming my way on June 26, 2011 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  I can't wait and I am really excited to race on an Ironman course again!  Although I am not in it for the prize purse, I am in it for pride, and I fully plan on racing against my previous IM times from Wisconsin.

I am on week 17 of training which is hard to believe, and next week is halfway through my training program which is even harder for me to believe.  I don't have an overall time goal in mind right now other than trying to beat my previous time of 13:57:40.  The one goal I have been working on all training season is to beat my previous bike time from IMWI.  I don't just want to finish the bike in the 6 hour time frame, I need to finish the bike in the 6 hour time frame.  7:22:42 on the bike was much too long, and I plan on doing much better in CDA.  

I got a couple new toys this year to help with that bike goal: a Garmin 310xt (I love it!) and on its way to me is a Cannondale Women's Slice 4 Rival.  I can not wait to ride her.  She's not here yet, but I am hoping she will arrive straight from the factory by the end of February or early March.  Speaking of bikes, I need to go ride mine in the basement!

Ride on.