Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Myrtle Beach Weekend!!

Well we are back from our long weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC and "Oh what a weekend it was!" We had a fantastic time, some excellent weather and some pretty good race results for EVERYBODY! The majority of the weekend was spent racing, in one sense or another. Here are the highlights from all three days!

Friday - Ripley's Family Fun Run: 1 mile run/walk

Uncle Jim, Aunt Holly, Heather, Rowen and Rich

Friday night was the Family Fun Run and it was a great time but VERY CROWDED indeed! Heather, Rich, Rowen, Jim and I were all registered for the race which followed a 1 mile loop around Boardwalk at Broadway (a shopping/restaurant/open-air mall) and ended at the Ripley's Aquarium. It was great fun to see all the kids and families all geared up and ready to race. You had the great mix of those kids who were serious about running, those who were doing it because they're school had a group and those who were there with their friends or family.

The start gun went off and the race was underway. Even my nephew Rowen, just 1-year old and officially in his first race, was running as fast as his little legs would carry him for those first 500 feet. Then Daddy (Rich) picked him up and walked with him for the first half mile and Mommy (Heather) carried him for most of the second 1/2 mile.

General Observations: Children don't run or pace - they SPRINT with walk breaks in between.

Heard on the Race Course, 500 feet after the Start Line: "Wow this is HARD, are we there yet?" & "Oh man, I have a cramp" (multiple kids seen holding there sides)

Best Comment from an Adult to his young daughter (guessing age of 5-6) as they ran by us: "Good job sweetheart, now find the next hole in the crowd..." Now there is a Dad who does some racing on his own.

Rowen held his own, for a 1-year old - He didn't even begin to melt down (sick of being held and the crowds, I imagine) until we were inside the Aquarium and almost at the finish line.

I ran ahead with the video camera so we could get Rowen's first finish line on tape. Just prior to the finish, Rich and Heather put Rowen down and he ran the last few feet himself. A great start for Rowen!

The crowds were so bad that Rowen and Rich went to the car while Heather, Jim and I stood in line to get some free Chik-fil-A and Fruit Bowls. The lines and the crowds were too much, and we barely made it out of there but we did manage to get some free chicken nuggets and fruit salad.

Rowen is ready to GO!

Part of the race went through the "Shark Exhibit" at the Aquarium

Rowen crosses his first official *FINISH* line

A Happy Family!

Post-Run we just went home and relaxed in anticipation of the early Half Marathon in the morning. Rich made some fantastic Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Chicken and some Garlic Toast (carbo loading at it's finest) and we went to bed early.

Uncle Jim and Rowen check out the latest in sippy cups

Saturday - Myrtle Beach Half Marathon 2008 (13.1 miles)

Sisters, Sisters, never were their such devoted sisters!
(Heather, Cathy & Holly - Pre 1/2 Marathon)

This would be my 4th time doing the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. I know the course well and this year we had great weather. The starting temps at 6:30AM were 48F with a high of 68F by Noon predicted. I had planned to run the race alone, at my own pace so you can imagine my surprise when my youngest sister Cathy, who was running the race for her second time said she was going to hang with me.

So now I had a running buddy after all! I had set a goal to try and run a sub-3 hour Half Marathon and Cathy was willing to go for it with me! We had our plan for race day.

The race started and we bid farewell to Heather and settle into a pace that felt good for both of us. Mile 1 came quickly - too quickly at 12:06. 1:24 faster than my goal pace but I thought, well that is minutes in the bank for later right?

The first walk break happened about 20 minutes into the race. I had wanted to see how long I could run before I felt like I had to take a break and that made me very happy. As the miles continued on, I did take note that we were still running sub 13 minute miles, with walk breaks. I was most definitely not sticking to any *plan* but still simply hoped (although truthfully, I knew better) that if I was having a good day, these faster miles would be time in the bank later on.

As we approach Mile 4, we took out first GU break, and I forgot to take my first set of SALT pills. This would turn out to be a big mistake that I did not realize until around Mile 6 when I found that I was having problems making complete sentences AND that I was getting really nasty and angry in general.

My initial nastiness came from the LACK of PortO Potties on the course. I had not seen one since Mile 3 and, darn-it, I needed one!

I did a physical check and happened to lick my top lip and tasted the salt! AH_HA!!! Immediately, I said to Cathy, "Hey, I forgot my salt pills at Mile 4! Sorry if I have seemed bitchy..." As soon as we hit the next water stop at Mile 8, I took all 4 salt pills and another GU but it was too late as I would find out a mile later. We also FINALLY had PortO Potties at the Mile 8 water stop, so I took care of that as well. That was 5 minutes I wish I had back later....but with so few PortO Potties, I had no choice but to wait in line.

Right around Mile 9, I started getting some odd cramps in my left calf - nothing painful but just the funny feeling that my stride was coming up short when I landed on my left foot. Just about 500 feet from the 9 mile marker, I had my first real cramp. My left calf pulsed and pulled my left ankle up when I was fully expecting to land on that foot. I did a quick little skip and stopped immediately on the side of the road to try to gently stretch my calf, which was very tight. There was no pain but certainly alot of tightness.

These cramps continued on and off for the next 3 miles. I never had any pain and they usually happened if my turnover got too fast and I didn't make an effort to make long complete strides during walk breaks to stretch the calf muscle. Still I kept my eye on the watch and I was well within my goal pace, even with the additional walking and cramp issues.

At Mile 12 - My watch said 2:50:xxx. It was then that I knew that I was not going to reach my sub-3:00 goal. If I had not been having those odd cramps, I probably could have sucked it up and *Just F_cking Run* those last 1.1 miles but I didn't want to do any damage and Cathy was having considerable ankle pain at this point so we were going as fast as we could - or so I thought...

I decided that I was still looking at a better race day than Disney just 4 weeks ago, so I let the sub-3 goal float out of my mind and just focused on enjoying the finish.

I know how competitive my sister Cathy can be, so as we approached the turn for the last 2/10 to the Finish Line, I told her that it was OK if she pulled a "Lance Armstrong" on me and sprinted to the finish.

She said "No, we will finish together" and then as she saw the finish line, she said "Let's pass these people..." and I said "Cathy, I would love to but I am afraid if I sprint, I will cramp" and do you know that my darling sister who just said she would "Finish with me" did?

She said, "Okay, No Problem" and then promptly left my slow butt in the dust while she went on to pass 4 more people. Now *that* is the competitive Cathy that I know! Haha! She pulled a "Lance Armstrong" after all.

Heather, who's goal was to simply have fun - finish in 2:00:16 - just 40 seconds over her HALF MARATHON PR!

Oh and did I mention that she just found out she is pregnant so she was taking it EASY? (CONGRATULATIONS SISTER!!!) This woman was BORN to run long! She managed to average a 9:23 pace and said when she realized how close she was to her PR, she ran the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish line in a 6:20 pace - still no PR on this day.

Cathy finished in: 3:07:43

My chip time was 3:07:58. Just about 9 minutes faster than Disney just 4 weeks ago (3:17:21)

Sunday - Michelob-Pelican Bike Ride (32 & 64 mile options)

Heather on the morning of her first group bike ride!

Heather and Scwinderrella (her bike!)

Holly, Heather and Jim - Ready to Roll!

Sunday was the Myrtle Beach Bike Ride and FINALLY we had year of GOOD WEATHER! It was to be Heather's first organized Bike Ride and she did a great job. Not only was this her first organized bike ride, this was her first time riding in traffic, her first time riding 32 miles and she was riding a very heavy hybrid. She did a great job and we had a blast riding together! I was so happy to be able to share this with her!

The bike course for the 32 mile loop went down Ocean Blvd and down through the old Airforce Base and then looped back around to the finish - an out and back course. Of course the actual mileage for this ride was 36 miles and we finished in 2:54:26. On the *out* section of the ride we averaged close to 15 mph but the headwinds on the return trip were brutal and picking up steadily so we ended up closer to 13.5 mph.

We also managed to experience some heckling from a Truck driver who told us to "Get on the Sidewalk!" and some odd bike harassment from a local gentleman who kept riding around us on his own be, cutting us off, riding on and off the road, and slowing down to "eye our goodies". It was then that Heather and I did some impromptu sprint work to dry to drop this guy. Turns out all we really had to do was stop riding for about 2 minutes and let him pass us and move onto the next group of riders.

But it was JIM who had the best results on Sunday. He went for the 64 mile distance ride and was able to jump onto the front pack through the first hour of the ride until a crash (which he did not get caught up in) cause him to drop the group. He pretty much rode solo for the remainder of the ride and finished the course in a time of 3:19:01 - making him the 47th rider across the finish line out of a field of over 200 who did the 64 mile option.

It is worth noting that all three of us rode the distances almost continuously. There were not many rest stops available so Heather and I never took a break of longer than 2 minutes tops while Jim NEVER stopped for a break. Other than the headwinds, the weather was perfect! It was an excellent way to wrap up the weekend!

36 miles, headwinds and some medals!

Jim, finishing a great 64 mile ride - 47 out of 200

Vive les cyclists!

Yeah, I did that - got some medals to prove it!

As usual, the weekend ended too quickly and after some time spent with Heather, Rich, Rowen, Cathy and Chris, we had to head back to DC. Darling Rowen really got attached to his Uncle Jim and he cried and cried when we left. But we will be back! Of that he can be sure!!

Life is Good! Live STRONG!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hi, my name is Holly ...

I heard the news today. It came out of nowhere.
I wish I could run away,
but where would I go?
Is this my destiny? Something so unfair... What will become of me?
God only knows.

And they say the road to heaven might lead us back through hell.
Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, we will win this fight and bury this sorrow.
We're so alive, still holding on, not ready to die, 

- lyrics from the song LiveSTRONG by WIDE AWAKE

Today I celebrate 

Three years ago today, I was diagnosed with metastic Nodular Melanoma.

Today I live with No Evidence of Disease.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008


One of my goals for 2008 is to slowly, sanely lose some of this extra weight that I put on over the last 3 years.  It has required FOCUS and discipline and alot of paying attention to serving sizes.  And you know what?  It is working...

As of today, I have lost 5 pounds!

I am a big fan of REWARDS...and while I know that every pound that I lose this year will TRANSLATE into FREE SPEED later in the racing season, I wanted something that I could touch and feel and enjoy.   I also wanted something that would continue to encourage healthy eating and my love all things TRI. (swim, bike, run...)

So I bought myself a beautiful new "sun-safe" cycling jersey for this spring/summer.  It's officially at Cannondale Geo Swirl Summerweight Jersey and it looks alot like a creamsicle 

HOWEVER this jersey will encourage me to BURN 100 calories as opposed to it's cool, creamy popsicle friend which, while very tasty, really doesn't qualify as a good REWARD for weight loss.  Even if it would indeed keep me cool on a hot summer day!

Work hard, Set Goals, Reward Your Efforts and of course.... 

Friday, February 08, 2008

Carefully counting my chickens....

in all the years (3 consecutive now - 2005, 2006, 2007) that I have done the Myrtle Beach Marathon Weekend.  We have NEVER had good weather 3 days in a row.  It has always been BLUSTERY and COLD for Sunday's Bike Ride, no matter how beautiful a day Saturday may be (and there has only been one beautiful Saturday - of the 3 years - Feb 2005, ironically our first year at the event.

So you can imagine how excited this part of the 10-Day Forecast has me...

Yeah I *KNOW* a lot can change in 10 days.  The weather could get even better, right?  WINK!

Enjoy this weekend Y'ALL!  Life is Good!  LiveSTRONG!

Camoflage: Bengal Style...

Grommette or just another pair of ragwool socks?

"Seriously, who can blend in
with a blue harness and leash?
Darn Humans!"

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Movin' Right Along...

Movin' right along in search of
good times and good news,
With good friends,
you can't lose,
This could become a habit.

~ The Muppet Movie

Well the week is "moving right along" and I am happy to say that I am definitely over that last nasty cold and back on track with my workouts. I am still kind of winging it a little. With Myrtle Beach Weekend on the horizon, my focus as been on getting some outside bike riding done and getting some running miles in.

I have no PR dreams for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. I'd like to at least BEAT my Disney Half time of 3:17 but being sick really took away 2 weeks of training so this is going to be another FUN RUN.

I have decided to take a break from LONG RUNNING for a little while and put the focus back on quality in my running. I want to have some solid 5K & 10K finishes this year. I want to take the walk breaks out of the equation as much as possible. I will probably still have to walk the water stops. It is either WALK the water stops or WEAR the water for the rest of the race, I am that uncoordinated - but that is acceptable in my book. I just want to get back to RUNNING (or JOGGING if you like) the miles in-between.

It's not like the Half Marathon and Marathon Distance are going to disappear anytime it's back to basics for me!

Movin' right along (doog-a-doon, doog-a-doon)

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunshine and Rainbows!

I'm walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
I'm walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
And don't it feel good (HEY!)

lyrics by Katrina and the Waves

For those of you not in the know, SUNSHINE is the name of my road bike. The name came from all the songs I would sing at the start of those long training ride days back when I was doing the DC AIDS RIDES with Team Love. Longer rides started early in the morning and even in the summer, some days would be overcast. As the sun peaked through , I would pick my favorite "Sunshine" song and sing it loudly! Sometimes it was "Walking on Sunshine" some times it was the Beatle's classic "Here comes the Sun" and when if it was late in the day and the sun was no longer a welcome sight, I'd sing "Sunshine go away today, don't feel much like dancing..." It could also be because my bike is bright YELLOW but that is only part of the reason for the name.

So why wax poetic about my road bike in my blog? Simply because yesterday was the FIRST TIME SINCE AUGUST 2007 THAT I RODE MY BIKE! Goodness how I missed my old friend!

It didn't even matter (much) that by mile 5, I was getting that all to familiar burning sensation down my cervical spine (that we are still trying to pinpoint). I was so happy to be on my bike, on a beautiful, rare 50 degree February morning. I wish I could put into words how I feel when I am on my bike. It was my first *sport* - long before Triathlon...and it remains my favorite leg of the 3-sport race.

Being on my bike makes me feel powerful, confident and free. Even a bad day on the bike is better than ANY good day at work. I'll take the steepest, longest climbs if it means that somewhere down the road is along sweeping downhill or a flat ribbon of road rolls through the farms and fields. Jim and I dream of our someday vacation to Italy. To spend the days riding our bikes and the nights enjoying the food and wine. Those are the kinds of moments we work to enjoy.

So back to yesterday, 17 miles along the well used bike paths along the Potomac River. The trails were not packed, just the occasional runner or fellow cyclist. My ride headed out to Crystal City, where I stopped to stretch my neck, shoulder and back as best I could and then the return trip home. No pace goals, no worries about how fast or slow I was going. Just me and my bike, getting reacquainted before we head to Myrtle Beach 30-Miler in 2 weeks. I even had to stop once on my long climb home (Bell Haven Drive) but I didn't walk one inch of that climb - merely took a breather before I resumed climbing. By Summer, I *KNOW* I will be powering up Bell Haven Drive. No doubts in my mind.

The nerve pain is a little unsettling. It's not my rotator cuff that is aggravated by the bike ride but some possible cervical disk issues that we saw on the MRI. I'll be seeing a Neurologist later this month to address these concerns. In the mean time, it seems that the sensations slowly ebbs away once I am off the bike (or done running) and by morning I am usually feeling better.

Time, patience and some medical expertise will tell but for now, it's pain I can live with - especially when it means I can ride my bike!

Onto Rainbows!

This morning on my way into work, I was treated to a rare sight. A beautiful full spectrum rainbow that lasted the entire 5 minutes it takes me to walk from the shuttle bus stop to my office door! Now if that is not an omen for a GOOD WEEK AHEAD, I hardly know what one would be!