Monday, July 28, 2008

July is the month of creepy internet friends

So when my July plans were hatched, two things did not occur to me:

1. I was going to be on my bike A LOT.

2. I was going to have three straight weekends of meetups with creepy internet friends!

First there was the Lake Geode tri with Krissy, where I got by butt kicked by the hills of the Mississippi Valley.

Then there was RAGBRAI, where I got my butt kicked by 140 miles of hills near the Missouri River. Here Blink rolled up next to me in his blink apparel and rode the last 50 miles with us and introduced us to the Count the Lances game. We also took a picture with corn, because, well, it's Iowa. And being from Massachusetts, all things corn entertain me. Seriously, did you know teenagers here spend their summers detasseling corn? Anyway, there are a lot of bad hair pictures floating around the internet of me lately, and this picture doesn't help - really, I have nice long flowing curls but they just don't hold up when being sporty.

Then this weekend at the Chisago Lakes Triathlon, it was blogger extravaganza!

So here is my race report.

I signed up for this about ten days ago for a variety of reasons. Even though it was a solid three hour drive away.

I drove the bike course the night before and started salivating. After all those hills, 17 miles of mostly flat with just a few rollers was like heaven. Plus, that's really where my bike can perform. Because God forbid, *I* actually perform - I just want my pretty bike to do it for me.

My friends Chrissy (who did the WWR with us) and Laura were both doing the Half-Ironman (it was both their first) so I stayed at Chrissy's parent's house in the MSP burbs. I slept horribly. I tossed and turned all night and kept dreaming that my alarm didn't go off. Nevermind that there were three of us and someone would get me up. But I oddly the correspondence of me dreaming that my alarm didn't go off and it not actually going off are quite high. The last occurrence was in September when I woke up at 6am for a 9:30 flight from an airport three hours away. I was going to a wedding. I hadn't packed. I was still in my clothes from the bar the night before. That should probably explain why the alarm didn't get set right... But I will say that my dreams before the race this time also included me having to drive some hawtie elite triathlete to the race, so while we were both stressed out, at least there were cute boys in the dream.

Anyway, yeah. I set my alarm for 4:40 PM. But I was anxious enough that I was up anyway.

We get to the race site and I pretty much have the worst transition placement ever. I was pretty much as far from both the bike in/out and the run out as I could be. I was right near the swim in, but that just meant I had to run farther with my bike.

As I was getting set up, Miss Allycat strolled up to my pretty bike and started molesting it. Okay, maybe not, but she had that look in her eye! As we were chatting, Steve in a Speedo waltzed up with his empty bucket. He's one of those feet washer types. After making sure that all three of us had smiley faces adorning our calves (I wanted him to write VIRGIN all over Allison's leg as it was her first race) we all stripped down to our spandex and headed the to beach.

The Half-IM people went off before us and I watched Chrissy and Laura get in the water and get out before I even started. Eventually Wave 24 (that's me!) was up. From shore, the farthest buoy did not look that far. But it seemed to take forever! There were lots of people thrashing about and I got my goggles knocked off by an elementary backstroker. I hit the sand in 11 minutes. Steve and I both think the course was long. But since Lake Geode was probably short, I guess it all evens out. I didn't hit transition until 13 minutes because of the mountain they made us climb up to get back up there.

SWIM: 400 m in 13:06 (3:16/100 m - I think not!)

Transitions went pretty smoothly for me, and even with having to run a long way with my bike I was still out of T1 in 1:50.

Then the bike began! I was excited for this. My goal for this race was to see if I could average 20 mph. I hopped on my bike and pretty much kept it in the big ring the entire time. I passed a lot of people and mostly just got passed by some speedy men with sperm helmets. In the first couple miles I yoyoed with one lady who pissed me off by passing me really close without calling that she was coming up on my left and ran me into the part of the road that was crumbling. I hit a huge pothole really hard and I was worried about my tire, but it was all good and then I hunted down that beyotch and left her in my pretty bike dust.

I was pounding on the bike. I hit the halfway point at 25 minutes (so a little faster than a 20 mph average). The rollers came up next and this is when I started to feel the 140 miles of hills that I rode on sunday and monday. But I kept working and the bike felt great and I was in aero most of the time. I rode into transition 53 minutes after I started, so I didn't make my goal of 51 minutes, but close enough.

BIKE 17 miles in 53:42 (19 mph - fastest bike pace ever for me!)

T2 was also pretty uneventful, coming in at 1:58.

Then the run. This is where I sort lost it. Which is probably to be expected after hitting the bike hard. One of the side effects of riding in aero the whole time is that it stretches my back such that when I get off the bike, it is often sore. This makes it hard to run. Normally I load myself up with ibuprofen to avoid this, but I forgot. I headed out and my legs were pretty dead. This lead to My Worst Sprint Run Time Ever. I came in at 32:30. Normally I pound out the 5k in a Sprint Tri in about 30 minutes. So while I was happy about the bike, the run? Not so much.

And this leads to my biggest pet peeve about the whole race. The waves were based on when you registered. So I didn't start with other Athenas. I was 1:15 out of third place (and there was one other girl who came in 15 seconds ahead of me). Both of them started waaaay before me. But you can bet that I would have worked a little harder on that run (as based on our times, I would have come out of T2 ahead of both of them so they would have passed me there). But alas, that was not how it was.

RUN 5k in 32:30 (10:29 min/miles)

TOTAL 1:43:08 (good for 5/15 in the Athena division)

After I finished, Steve and I cheered in Allison and then we went to the run out to watch the Half-IM racers. There we ate Swedish pancakes and bumped into Jumper. We saw Ironmom Jenny, TacBoy, and TriMama all run through and after Chrissy and Laura came through, I hopped on my bike again to go out on the half-marathon course and cheer them on.

Now, if Chrissy would have told me she was going to be blazing on the run, I might have reconsidered this. After Laura passed through, I started riding and I didn't catch up to Chrissy until Mile 5 or so, so I got to add another ten miles onto my biking day. Chrissy was looking strong and passing people. Laura was holding up well too, especially for someone who had never run more than 8 miles in her life. After checking in with them, I headed back to the finish to cheer everyone in.

Now, before the race, Chrissy and Laura were both worried about making it before the cutoff (which they thought was 7 hours, but I don't think the course had one so I think they were on crack). Chrissy told her mom to come watch them come in at 2pm or so (7 hours after the start. Yeah, at 5:40, who comes blazing up the path? Chrissy was totally rocking that thing and knocked out a 1:47 half-marathon to finish her day. Laura came in about 50 minutes later.

So long post, lots of bloggy peeps, and now I am excited about going half-Iron next year. Totally doable while trying to write a dissertation, right?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My butt might never be the same again...

Ah, RAGBRAI. I'll post more later with pictures, but I have a crazy work week this week so this will have to do for now.

* The best breakfast burrito ever
* Being awoken by a PA system at the campground at 2am telling us all to evacuate immediately to the storm shelters
* Riding the last 50 miles on Tuesday with Blink, who totally kicked it slow with Kori and I as we tooled along at 12-13 mph and then bothered him for the last 30 miles to tell us what his bike computer said as both our Garmins lost battery.
* I am still sitting on a pillow and am beginning to wonder about this chamois butter stuff...

And my roommate just called. RAGBRAI is going through Ames and Nevada (the town where she works). Apparently some jackass dumped tacks all over the road into Nevada to welcome the 10,000 riders coming through. So everyone is rolling into Nevada with flats. I just can't believe some people.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

You know you're in trouble when...

Today was a 14 mile run (7 miles out and back). At 7 a.m., it was about 78 or 79 degrees and about 50 percent humidity. Sunrise today was 5:58 a.m. We ran out west, so that means that around 8:10 a.m., we made the turn and were running directly into the sun, 2 hours high in a cloudless sky, with the temp in the low 80s, humidity in the mid 50s percent.

Around mile 8.5, that's when I stopped sweating, and 5 minutes later, the uncontrollable chills started. I had gone through almost 60 ounces of water by that point, so I don't think I was not drinking enough, but, nonetheless, the sun beating directly on my face totally did me in. The chills got worse, and I spent most of the last 5 miles wishing I had a long sleeve shirt or a jacket, which was just dumb. I sat in the shade for about 15 minutes at one point, then just walked all the way back because there was nothing else to do but get back to the start where my car was.

I usually run in the evenings, when the sun is low in the western sky, usually behind buildings and stuff, but out on a trail that runs directly east-west today at 8:30 or 9 a.m., I was at the mercy of the day star. And it won.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I thought the season was over...

Sooo... after Lake Geode, I planned on hanging up the bike for a while (well, after doing two days of RAGBRAI). I wanted to get back to basics and start training regularly again and I was completely getting overwhelmed by triathlon training. As with most things in my life, once I get overwhelmed, I end up not doing anything.

So the plan has been to run most every morning. Not far. Just to get back into the rythym of regular training. I do summer field work so my summer work days are unpredictable so I realized I need to run in the morning or it is not happening. I have run three days in a row!
Although in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to do one more sprint tri this summer, as with the wind at Siouxperman and the hills at Geode, I have not had a race where I have rocked the bike. Then I realized that I am completely booked most weekends in August/September. Yes, I could come back immediately when my conference in Lake Tahoe ends, but seriously... I'm milking that free trip for all it is worth.

Then Chrissy called me last night to ask me if I wanted to go for a bike ride.

I had to decline as I had a date with Indiana Jones.

But I found out she is doing the Chisago Lakes Half-IM.

And that they have a sprint associated with.

A sprint that was practically designed for me with a short swim and a long bike.

So it's on.

And this is the fun part for me. Last year there were 25+ women in the Athena category. Which means I'll have some competition. But based on last year's results, I still think I could podium. Which means I'll have to work for it, but that sorta has me pumped.

Also? Nutella and banana on toast? Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Also! In the frivolous purchase category, new shoes! I love my other Keens and the thought of having a comfy bike commute shoe that isn't totally fugly got me excited. I have been wearing them around all day today to test them out, as these shoes will totally rock on RAGBRAI, where biking 130 miles over two days is interspersed with frequent stops in towns for the sole purpose of walking around and eating. And eating some more.

Can I freak out now that I just realized that one of my RAGBRAI days is 83 miles!!! Hello! I have never ridden my bike more than 60! And that was last year at RAGBRAI! 83 miles with 5600 ft of climbing!

And then six days later I am going to attempt to podium at a sprint race... yeah...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Science Interlude!

You must stop everything and go watch this now.

Doogie as an evil scientist.

Mal (oh he's so dreamy) as a cocky superhero.

And it's a musical.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

As cliche as it is to say it, at least the swim was flat!

So the forecast was ominous.

And all night the thunder was rolling.

But maybe because Krissy deserved some good karma after missing her first race of the season because she was flooded into Iowa City, the clouds rolled on by.

So the game was on.

It was raining as we were setting up in transition, but nothing too bad. And that little bit of rain even broke the oppressive humidity of the early morning.

Oh yeah, the fun part of the day began when I realized halfway to the race that I forgot both pairs of my goggles in my car. Nice. Fortunately, some nice Iowan soul loaned me a pair, but then forgot to pick them up again - I gave them to the race director, so hopefully they get them back!

Anyway, on to the details.


There were only three waves and all the women were starting in the last one. There were only a total of 125 or so racers, of which maybe a third were women. It was actually an in-the-water start, which I had never done before, but which was kind of nice. The course was a straight out and back in a narrow long lake, which is totally a bonus for straight-swimming-impaired folks like myself. I pretty much had the swim competely to myself. I didn't touch another swimmer the entire way. Which meant that I could get in a rhythm. Of course, after realizing I am a air swallower, I am now really paranoid about it when I am swimming, as a good session of air swallowing would completely take me out of the race. So my rhythm was messed up by thinking too much about exhaling.

But it was overcast, so there was no sun to blind you. Buoys were on the right, so always on my typical breathing side. And the buoys were ginormous, so you could not miss them from afar if you tried. The water was about 85 degrees, so there was no cold shock getting in. It was perhaps the nicest open water swim I have done. No weeds, sandy bottom as long as you could touch, then deep! What more could you ask for?

Anyway, the first surprise of the day was when I hit the turn around in 14 minutes.


Are you doing this math in your head?

14 minutes for 750 m?

Have I mentioned how slow I usually am?

My first thought was "this course has to be short." I eventually figured out that the course does curve some and on the way out you are on the inside of the curve and on the way back you are on the outside. So it took me 21 minutes to make it back (and another to run to the timing mat).

Are you still doing the math here? That's 36 minutes.

Do you know what I did Big Creek in last year? 44 minutes.

Still doing the math? That's an 8 minute PR folks! For someone who avoids swimming like the plague.

I pretty much decided at that point that I could DNF and be happy. Even though I pretty much was one of the last five people out of the water. My bike sure was easy to find in transition!

1500m in 36 minutes (2:16/100 yds)


Ah the bike. This was my first time racing Aqua Velva. (I am still trying on bike names, Krissy threw out that one - I am seeing how it fits...) The first thing I did was come out of transition and clip in with the wrong foot. I don't know about everyone else, but my left foot must go in first or it is disaster. I seriously almost tipped over on the mount line and I had to unclip and start again.

Krissy and I had driven parts of the course the night before, so we sort of had an idea of the hills. They weren't quite Hill of Death caliber steepness, but they were most definitely not "rolling hills" as advertised. I'll note that in the run description they say "the course includes challenging hills" and you have to bike up the same hill at first. Rolling hills my ass!

Like usual I came out of transition with my heart rate really high and the first thing I had to do was climb the first hill. While the Hill of Death was steeper, these hills were twice as long. I had my bike in the lowest gear and was spinning like a fiend so that I wouldn't tip over. My heart rate was in the 170s (anaerobic threshold for me is like 167) and I was gasping for air. I actually passes two ladies on the hill - I think I am so afraid of tipping over that I think I have to spin as fast as I do, but I probably could back off. But they both passed me again at the top as I was keeping myself in low gear to let my heart stop pounding and to catch my breath and drink some water and eat some Clif Bloks.

As soon as we hit the first flats though, I blew by them again and I was flying in the 20-25 mph zone with the modest wind at my back. My friends, this was a lonely course. Seriously, there were times where I couldn't see anyone in front of me. After the first bit of flats (where the road had a huge expansion crack in it that was perfectly tire width), there was a downhill into a valley where I was up to almost 40mph and then the second climb of the day, which rivaled the first. I got passed by one dude at the bottom of the hill. I caught up to Krissy, who was chugging up the hill in a much more calm collected manner than I will ever be able to achieve with my mad spinning and grunting. (She suggested I practice going up hills more slowly to prove to myself that I won't tip over - perhaps with sneakers instead of being clipped in)

We had more rollers and flats again and then we had a nice flat stretch directly into the wind. But it was just annoying wind, not soul-sapping wind - I was still able to maintain 15-16 mph going directly into it. Oh and how much do I love this bike? I stayed in aero almost the entire 25 miles.

There were three or four other hills which were long and required me to go into my lowest gear and spin feverishly. On one of them, the guy ahead of me had to stop and was trying to get going again and managed to turn his bike perpendicular to me while I was trying to pass him, so there was almost disaster, but he quickly reacted and all was good. The last hill was at about mile 23. You get a crapload of momentum coming off the hill before, but then you have to make this 90 degree turn up hill and you lose a lot of it. Krissy called this hill Injury. You actually get to turn off the hill about 2/3 of the way up. Which is awesome until you make the right turn and you see the hill she dubbed Insult.

We had driven this part of the course the night before, so we knew that even though it was almost done, there were still some brutal hills. This woman who I had passed on the third hill or so, who then passed me again, who I then passed on the flats decided she was going to make her move at about Mile 22 and jokingly said to me as she passed "C'mon tri bike girl, it's on!" I let her pass me, and then I took her down on Injury and she never caught me again... until the dismount line. The nicest thing about climbing out of transition for a mile is that you get to cruise back into transition for a mile. I came zooming in at 27 mph, then I braked and took my precious time getting off my bike and walking into transition and in the meantime, she came through behind me and ran her bike across the line before me. I guess that is what I get for being lazy!

25 miles in 1:34 (15.8 mph)

If that isn't indicative of the hills, I don't know what is - last year I did Big Creek in 1:25...


So I left transition at 2:13. My time last year was 3:25. So despite the slow bike, my awesome swim meant that I actually still had a chance of PRing. I just had to run a 1:11 10k! My 10k PR is 10 minutes faster than that! And I did Big Creek in 1:11 in positively sweltering conditions! Let me note here that we couldn't possibly have had nicer conditions for a race in Iowa in July - it was often overcast and probably in the 70s. So easy peasy, right?

Uh, no.

Those hills were brutal. My calves were already burning from the bike. But I soldiered up them. I don't wear my Garmin during triathlons, so I didn't have any clue how fast I was going. But I hit the first mile marker in 12 minutes. You think you'd be done with a hill and another one would appear. For the first two miles, it was neverending. Finally between miles 2 and 4 it flattened out a bit and I was able to pull off at least one 10-min mile. But then the hills started again! At least it was a net downhill to the end, but there were still some steep climbs. I actually had to stop and stretch since I was cramping up. Being in aero for 25 miles made my back sorer than I would expect and climbing bothered it a lot. I was pushing as hard as I could, but the hills broke me. We don't even have hills like that in Ames to train on. The Mississippi Valley makes our hills look like blips. Finally you get to the top of the last hill and it is a sweet sweet descent (the same one as the bike) down into the finish. But not sweet enough to make up for the previous hills and I cruised into the finish in 1:13.

10k in 1:13 (11:48 min/mi)

TOTAL: 3:26

So I was one minute off my other Oly distance race. It's hard to compare them though. That race was flat and fast, but hot. This race was hilly as hell but with good weather. I sometimes use the winners time as the gauge for course difficulty. At Big Creek the winner finished in 1:53 and here the winner finished in 1:56... But the Big Creek winner also just came in second (losing by 18 seconds) at Ironman Arizona. Sooo... can you really compare?

One minute is sort of a frustrating time to not to match on a 3+ hour race. Because I am sure there was a minute somewhere I could have shaved off. I really expected to come in a solid 5-10 minutes worse than Big Creek and so I wasn't even thinking about time, given the hills, but my swim changed all that. I am still concerned the swim might have been short, but the course was USAT certified - do they certify the distances too, like USATF does? My transitions were both under two minutes, which is good enough for me.

But can I really complain? I seriously didn't train for this. To be honest, I hadn't even run since Norway. And I did one bike ride. No wonder the hills killed me. If it is July and you don't have bike short tan lines yet, you haven't been riding your bike enough.

And I brought home the bling anyway - second place in Athena... out of two.

But interestingly, I would have placed second in my age group as well (out of five) if I had raced in that category instead (they gave trophies three deep for five year age groups for a race of 125 people - this is totally a bling kinda race!). But I am glad I didn't as then Krissy would have been denied the fruits of her sprint to the finish against her new nemesis. Gotta spread that bling around!

Okay, that was long and rambly and pictureless, but oh well :-)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hmmm, I can't decide how I feel about this...

I can't decide if I am secretly hoping that the 60% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow morning means I don't have to race.

Although I have spent all week psyching myself up for this.

But maybe this is divine intervention - I mean of course God/Allah/Yahweh/Flying Spaghetti Monster/the Universe/[insert favorite deity here] totally is sending bad weather to give me a break at the expense of all the other athletes who actually trained for this race.

I'm special like that.

And on a side note, manpris featured significantly this past weekend:
I guess if you win Wimbledon, you can rock the manpris.

Plus, he is a cute boy with an accent.

He can wear whatever he wants.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Impending Doom

One week to the Lake Geode Challenge, which is an Olympic distance tri.

Let's take a look at the training totals for June:

Swim 6550 yds
Bike 25 miles
Run 38 miles

Possibly the only thing I am prepared for is the run, and barely at that. When I signed up for this months ago, I had every intention of training well. But life apparently got in the way. Part of me thinks I should just bail. This race is hilly! I suck at hills! What was I thinking?!

But I am going to suck it up. It is going to be a small race, so there is an actual chance of coming in DFL.

But I am a little worried about the bike. Today I hit some hills on my ride on the new tri bike. The bike gets major points for having a lot more gears than my old bike, so spinning up hills is a little easier.

I think.

If I manage to get into gear on time.

But I am not solid on the handling yet, so I have this fear of tipping over while going up a hill and humiliating myself. And now that I have a fancy bike, it is like double humiliation if you suck on the bike!

Secretly, if I wasn't doing this with Krissy, I'd probably bail.

I am so not hard core!

But apparently, I'm intriguing to Australians?

Speaking of down under, I learned that apparently men in New Zealand are really into the manpris.
This fact surely must be negated by the cute accents.

I don't swallow, I spit

I was trying to think of a title to this post while I was running this morning, and the only things that came to mind were Futurama quotes, until I noticed that my mouth was getting a little spongy and I was spitting a lot, and I decided to play off D's awesomely title post from the other day.

After I complained about my bad week last Wednesday, I basically had a total mental breakdown, and by last weekend, I was just avoiding all contact with society because I couldn't interact with other humans. So while I ran last Tuesday, I didn't run again until this past Monday, skipping the 12 miler for DC Fit last weekend, with an email to my sister late Saturday night, "Not going tomorrow. Talk to you later." Yeah, nice, huh?

By the end of last weekend, I started to feel better, and I ran again this week, doing 2 runs, a day of speed work, and a day of biking, Mon-Thurs. I took Friday off to spend it with the fam, and this morning we had a 10 mile run (an out and back on the W&OD trail). Almost no one showed up (surprise surprise, I know). I had a good run, averaging 9:45s on the way out and 9:15s on the way back.

I felt pretty good running-wise, but my stomach was really upset this morning. When my folks are in town, I eat a lot of foods I don't normally eat. Dinner last night was good, but there were more fats in the meal and junk food afterwards than I would normally eat the night before a long (where I define long as >= 10 miles) run. When I was eating my peanut butter sandwich for breakfast this morning, my stomach immediately started doing somersaults, and I knew I was in for a rough one. Stupidly, I didn't change the contents of my water bottle from Gatorade to water, so I had all that sugar that just turned my stomach every time I took a sip, and I had a Gel at mile 5, which I had to walk for a minute afterwards because my stomach cramped so much. Around mile 7, I just dumped my bottle out so as not to be tempted to drink from it and finished strong.

Oh, and it rained for most of the run, which would have been nice because it was retardedly humid (a little over 90% humidity when we started at 7 a.m.), except it didn't rain hard enough to break the humidity, so basically it was humid and a little wet. Whee! At least it was cool, only around 70 degrees during the run.

So anyway, after having a little nutty last week, I am back on the horse, and it feels good to have a good run like today's to feel like I didn't lose anything by skipping a full week.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Danielle and Lisa's Arctic Adventure

Woah, two posts in one day! I got my camera back, so now I can post the photo filled version of events.

So Lisa and I rolled into Tromso on the night before the race at about midnight. Under the false impression that our hotel had an airport shuttle, we dilly dallied and ended up last in the taxi line. There was a mild state of nervousness as we were the only ones at the airport... at all. And there were no taxis waiting. But one came around and we hopped in, checked into our outrageously expensive hotel. Pete (who ran the WWR with us back in 2006) said that about 9 years ago, he rolled into Tromso without any hotel plans and happened to show up on the night of the Midnight Sun Marathon when there is absolutely nothing and slept on a park bench. Lisa and I seriously considered this option. For over $300 a night we got a small room that was totally nothing special with no breakfast! Oh Norway. You are not a place for the thrifty.

Anyway, we checked in, but weren't tired, so we went to the pub next store and ordered ten dollar beer and wine (seriously!) and listened to some dude play Stairway to Heaven. We needed some alcohol to make our bodies think it was night time since it was light out this whole time. At about 1:30 we noticed it was actually getting lighter out, so we decided to take a stroll down to the water to watch the sun rise.So one reason to love Norway... Everyone drives station wagons! I love my station wagon. Norwegians are totally my peeps. Seriously, I have never seen such a station wagon concentration in my life.We eventually wandered back to our hotel and fell asleep at about 3am. With the jet lag, I managed to sleep in until 11am, after which we got motivated, picked up our packets, ate an unimpressive lunch (which cost like $30) and then went back to the hotel and took naps. I love naps! Afterwards we wandered down to this cafe that had delectable cakes for our pre-race carb loading. Yum! During this time it started to rain. This was not looking good. Running in the rain when it is only 50 degrees out is not exactly fun. But miraculously it cleared up right as the marathon started at 8:30pm. Lisa and I headed up to watch the start, then we went back and got ready. Seriously, it was really weird to get ready to do a long run at 10:30 at night. We headed to the start where everyone was doing warm up aerobics to the Ghostbusters theme. We mocked them for a while like we were too cool for that shiznit, but it was only a matter of time before we were dancing around with a bunch of Norwegians and letting out the nervous energy.At 10:30, we were off! The first song on my ipod was fittingly Abba. Yeah, they are Swedes but whatever. The weather was beautiful. Perfect temps. And a great course. While Tromso is near the mountains, the entire race was along the ocean, so the course was flat. It was superpretty! I did drop my (new) camera once, but it survived.
I wasn't really planning on trying to PR at this race, but of course, it is always a possibility. My PR pace is 10:14 and I decided that running 10:15 miles should be doable, since that is in my "conversational pace" zone. The first half we were pretty much on that pace. Then the second half we actually started picking it up. If a course could possibly be downhill both ways, this one was. I swear on the way out (it was an out and back) that I felt like we were running downhill and I was worried about the return. But then on the way back, I felt like we were still running downhill. Who knows! Until about Mile 10. Then the rollers back into town started. And I hit the wall pretty hard. This is probably where running more than once a week would have come in handy. I sent Lisa off ahead and trudged along. At about Mile 8, I was thinking "there is no way I can't PR this!" From Miles 10-13 I lost a lot of the spare time I had. I actually couldn't remember my PR time exactly, just that it began with 2:13. I was cutting it close and I sort of gave up on that goal. As I entered town, despite it being almost 1am, the Norwegians were still out cheering loudly. They totally rocked. Finally I saw the end in the distance and it said 2:13:something so I sprinted with all my remaining might so I could come in under 2:14 and I made it in 2:13:55. When I got to check the internet for my Phoenix time, it turned out it was 2:13:57. PR baby! Including picture taking time! I crossed the finish line and got some water and then Lisa and I got some beer, which we sadly learned was non-alcoholic (c'mon!)

I probably should stop here as this is long enough and the rest of the week involved no running but moderation has never been my strong suit.

So the rest of the trip in a nutshell. We went to the Polaris museum were we saw a movie about Svalbard, which I didn't realize was a real place and not some fictional land of talking polar bears.
They also had an aquarium and I took many bad pictures of the seals.
We also took a cable car up a mountain on the mainland and then hiked up even further, probably destroying fragile Arctic tundra in the process. And then we got a nice lookout over the island where Tromso is and the other islands.
My last excursion in Tromso was to the Mack Brewery, the northernmost brewery in the world apparently! A nice Norwegian named Stigert led us around. We had to wear lab coaty things and shower caps. It brought back my days of working in a geochem clean lab. But once we entered the room where the beer cans were swirling about, we immediately felt like Laverne and Shirley. In fact, I am pretty sure we were singing the theme song for the rest of the tour. We just needed a glove to put on one of the cans.
With that, I left Lisa to return home and she went on to be a total badass on the Hurtigruten (I lurve saying that. In fact I said it way more than necessary the entire week. And I always said it in a Swedish chef accent. Again, I know that is Swedish, not Norwegian, but it's all the same).

I put the rest of the photos on Flickr for anyone who cares.

I'm a swallower

I learned something about my swimming technique last night.

Apparently I am an air swallower.

Any fellow air swallowers out there will know why this is not good.

On the plus side, I think I am less of a swallower in open water swims since my complete inability to swim in a straight line means I have to sight a lot so there is less gasping, so at least this won't lead to horribleness on the bike.

But still. I am so getting my ass kicked at Lake Geode!

Oh yeah, I plan on doing a race report from Norway soon, but I left my camera at my friend's house in CT. Along with my purse. Smooth! I have had no money or credit cards since Saturday.

And in completely other news, my local NPR station is out - nothing but static! I had to wake up to music this morning instead of the dulcet tones of the Morning Edition hosts. I am sure this is because of the vast right wing conspiracy.