Thursday, December 31, 2009

The almost $200 banana..

Time is moving so quickly if I do not record our trip every few days, I will forget. I am right now on the plane from Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. It is hard to believe our trip is already half over..

Our last day (yesterday) in Melbourne we went on a very long tour on the “Great Ocean Road” a 150 mile or so road that follows the ocean starting about 2 hours from Melbourne. We were on a small tour bus, only 8 people, which made it cozy and nice. The other folks were from other countries, one couple from Auckland so we got a bit of the lay of the land before we even arrive there. The day started at 7:00 AM. We were driven to our first stop on the beach where we enjoyed “Tea and Lamingtons.” Lamingtons are little cakes that are so good it makes you want to keep eating them so I am glad they probably do not make them in the states. Our first view of the ocean was spectacular but this was only followed by even more fantastic beaches as the day went on. We saw a forest with Koala Bears, a Rain Forest and ultimately were taken to “The 12 apostles” which are 12 monolithic structures jutting out from the ocean in majestic form. It was so beautiful words cannot even describe it or pictures capture it. The flies and people were out in force at this magnificent tourist attraction. So that dampened the experience a bit. That and the fact that we were whisked away pretty quickly from one site to another. If we had it to do over again I think we would rent our own car. Although the roads were pretty narrow and windy so that may have been a challenge on the left side of the road and all…H and I agreed it was probably best to let someone else have that task this time. There were several cyclists on this road..I can see why-it is a gorgeous place to ride. But the shoulder is narrow and think I would pass on that one too…The day ended about 10:00 PM back at our hotel (they fed us lunch and dinner too-quite nice)..

We had already packed for today’s trip. What a challenge to keep each suitcase under 20 KG!! I think we carried on board more than we checked. The airport today was also more of a challenge, I guess because it was International but all went well and we will arrive in NZ at 3:30 PM New Years Eve, hopefully with our tour guide for the next part of the trip awaiting us. We are doing a self drive tour but a company has arranged everything for us. So far, so good-we shall see as we go how good of an idea that is!

To step back a couple of days, my favorite day in Melbourne- we woke up and met one of my Internet friends, Alison for breakfast. We have met now 2 people I have met online that live in Melbourne-how cool is that! She was as delightful in person as her blog is..Felt like we already knew each other so well from blogland..We breakfasted in a little café in one of the “arcades” (sidewalk malls). It was lovely!

Following breakfast we made our way over to the IMAX Theater in Melbourne, the 3rd largest IMAX in the world to see the ever so popular “Avatar.” I was a little hesitant knowing my seasick tendencies at these big screen, up close, things moving around in 3-D things, so I took a half of an Australian seasick pill and was fine on that account. The theater was packed but we had great seats and the funky 3-D glasses. The movie is pretty long and although I wish it was not so violent, it was a familiar theme..Bad guys vs. good guys in ultra spectacular images that will for sure earn these movie lots of Oscars. I loved it!

From there we went back and packed our bags, then headed out for more fantastic Chinese food (H can’t get enough of the real deal) before making our way to the live theater to see “Jersey Boys.” I really did not have high expectations of this play as anything that is not really “Broadway” is always a little suspect but I was sorely wrong. It was one of the best plays I have ever seen. The acting, the music and the great music and did I mention the music?!? It is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and every hit was done to perfection. At the end of the show, the crowd went wild, in their seats. I stood up immediately for a standing “O” and looked around for those to follow and alas no one did. I guess standing ovations are a bit over the top for the Aussies. I finally sat down when I saw I was the only one. Hopefully the cast saw my little one man standing ovation for them. They were FANTASTIC! The perfect ending for a perfect day.

At home I guess things are pretty cold because we heard from Heather that our pipes at home have frozen. Damn! We had this happen a few years ago and remembered we had called the city of ABQ to come out and fix it so she did and they did and now all is well-thank you Heather! So nice to know she is checking on things while we are halfway around the world. Our next door neighbor sent us pics of our house covered in snow. This all seems like another planet away as we sweated around with 100 degree heat at the beach yesterday.

I had to dump some of my clothes to pare down the suitcases. It is amazing on how very little I can live with. This trip is teaching me this as well as a lot of other things. H and I travel so well together, which is good when you spend 24 hours a day together! We are best buds as well as married and tonite we celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary!

Addendum: I think our plane must have crashed and we have died and gone to heaven. We saw the New Year/anniversary in last night from our 5 star balcony in our 5 star Suite at the Auckland Hilton. They even have a “pillow menu” and a teddy bear on the beds and chocolates and bath soaps galore. We are on the harbor and at dinner at the most beautiful restaurant then watched fireworks at midnight off our balcony. WOW!

Only glitch came when a cute little dog at the airport (little innocent looking Beagle) sat by me and I guess that meant I had fruit in my bag and come to find out dang! I did have a banana (H tried to tell me I had taken one from Australia but I did not remember-duh!)…The guy at customs could have charged us $200 but took pity on the stupid Americans and did NOT charge us. That would have made for a very different arrival to NZ. BUT we got off lucky. And that dog was so darn cute-who knew?

We had banana cake last night to celebrate the almost $200 banana fiasco!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Melbourne loves to shop!

Day 5 here in Melbourne and we love it here! (think I mentioned this already)..We have traveled all over the central business district and beyond, mostly on foot. I would say after about 15 miles of walking and 2 blisters, I can say I am still in shape! I do not miss my bike one iota..maybe swimming a little...

The day after Christmas we went out on "Boxing Day" which is a National Holiday here which has nothing to do with fighting or anything. Traditionally it is when people were to "box up" the X-mas gifts from the day before. Now I just think it is a good excuse to go shopping and get some killer deals. Reminds me a bit of "Black Friday" back in the states when all the stores have ridiculous sales and crowds galore. And crowds we saw! Did our own little walking tour of the malls and "arcades" (alleyways with very cool shops) throughout the city. When we got to "Bourke Street Mall" where they do not allow cars and many mainstream stores are, we just stopped to take it all in. There were literally thousands of people in "Myers", a store comparable to "Penney’s" or something. We could not even move, there were so many people in there. It was nuts! There were lines outside of the Gucci store down the block. They must have been giving away purses or something!

It was a fabulous day which was topped off by an amazing dinner in Chinatown at the "Supper" Chinese restaurant. Real Chinese food..not the fake stuff we get in the states. It was jam packed too. Then we walked to the Italian part of the city and found a delicious Gelato place. We found one of the many, many parks here and sat to enjoy our cold treat. Fantastic dinner and I felt good we were walking so much so we could eat more!

The weather: It has been in the 70s during the day, some wind and cooler at night. I have needed a light jacket at times but not much. The weather feels perfect! I have a feeling it will be raining more when we arrive in New Zealand. We carry our light backpacks around, stuffed with jackets, water and snacks. It feels sacrilegious that I did not buy one thing at the Boxing Day sales. We are a bit worried about luggage weight though. Some of the airlines charge per kg for luggage. We were soaked $75 on our last flight for being about 10 lbs over the 40 lb limit. Do you know how hard it is to pare down to 40 lbs for a 2 month trip? Now after the almost bombing in Detroit, I have a feeling carryon luggage may be a problem, where I have managed to haul some of my heavier stuff. Guess we will see. About that bombing stuff. I am so disappointed and sad we still have to worry about this crap. I am not really that worried being over here. Australia virtually has had no problems with terrorists so feel we are pretty OK here and traveling to NZ. Now getting back to the US we may need to adjust things a bit as far as luggage goes. We will find out in a month!

Yesterday we took a tram (trolley car) down to St. Kilda Beach, which is south of the city..We saw the beach, walked along the promenade. again very clean area, people shopping at the Sunday market along the beach. Saw a very OLD amusement park was open-don't think I would allow my kids to ride on the rusty rides I saw! Had much character though..

We walked along passing many shops again in this area, some funky stuff, some high end. I called Richard, my friend I met on Facebook who did IMWA. He did VERY well at the race despite the heat. He lives here-met us in a little cafe and we had such a great time chatting with him for a couple of hours. What a great perspective to see from a local! It is amazing people here have no concept of "no health care" or "racism" Refreshing!!

We decided to walk back to our hotel. It ended up being about 7 miles or so by the time we got to the grocery store and home. H cooked us up a "home cooked" meal here in our little suite. I did laundry in the 5 star Laundromat, where it felt more like college when folks turn off your dryer, take your clothes out of the washer, etc. Hmm, this process took about 3 hours. Very annoying and our room now looks like something out of the movies with clothes hung everywhere to dry (I did not want to stay up to let them all dry after my dryer got turned off)..This is a small price to pay for what we are doing!

I thought I was coming down with a cold the other day. I started the cough, stuffed nose and everything. One day of "Cold-Ease" and I was fine. Amazing stuff!!

We got to "Skype" all our kids on Christmas Day..That was really special. We "saw" everyone except Lane, who is in Houston with her dad. Video skyping, although is VERY annoying when Oprah does it on her show, is the best invention ever!
Today is a low key day. So much to do here but I need some rest! We will be going to the movies tomorrow to see "Avatar" in 3-d at IMAX. Also have tickets to the "Jersey Boys" tomorrow night (Broadway play). Wednesday we will be on an all say tour of the "Great Ocean Road", a beautiful area south of Melbourne which is supposed to be spectacular. Then on Thursday our month in Australia is over! I can't believe it is almost over..but grateful we will have our month in New Zealand to look forward to-starting the New Year there will be fun.

We may cave and go to the top of Australia's tallest building today. It is 80 something stories high and quite a view from the top. There is also the Victoria Market and the famous Zoo. It may be hard to sit still today after all!

One thing I miss about home: Good TV. Everyone here is out and about and in shape we are convinced because because there is LACK of good television here. We can sometimes get BBC so we know kind of what is going on in the world..I have no idea who won "Survivor" or "Amazing Race" Oh well, maybe this is a sign I need to stop watching so much damn TV at home! I know I can watch all this on the computer but I am too lazy to do so. And Oprah is not online. Oh well!

Today is the 8th anniversary of the death of my sister Sara. Hard to believe she has been gone so long and missed so much of our lives! I have to believe she is somewhere watching it all..and we will see her again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I think I have died and gone to heaven and it is called Melbourne, Australia.

After flying out of Alice Springs here yesterday, it is like we landed on a new planet. Although our last day in the middle of the Australian Desert was pretty awesome in Alice Springs (we visited Alice Springs Desert Park-fabulous!), I was happy to be air born and on to new surroundings where hopefully most crawling things live outside and not in our beds. We found such a place-YAY! The Stamford Plaza Hotel, an all Suite hotel which will be our home for the next week even has a pillow top mattress-another big YAY!! It is a lovely and definitely 5 star service hotel. Nestled in the heart of Melbourne CBD, we are a walk away from most anything...

Arriving on Christmas Eve was a bit chancy, we did not know if anything would be open. Well, the streets were bustling with last minute shoppers and many businesses were still going. We headed, in the pouring rain, to the nearest grocery store, where we stocked up with our first in room foods since Busselton. I was so happy to see Oatmeal and blueberries staple breakfast for the last 20 or so years...Amazing how I miss really only little things in life right now..Grocery bags in hand, we scurried home in time to take off to the nearest church down the street. I wanted to go to a Christmas Eve church service and sing Christmas carols and that is just what we did. The church was a very old and ornate Anglican Church..I was moved to tears really as the guitars played and we sang X-mas carols. Afterward, H & I went back to our room and actually had a lovely dinner in our new home, the Stamford Suite. The roasted chicken, bread and salad were one of the best meals I have had lately! We then commenced to sit and watch on TV the "Candlelight Carols" being shown live from the park band shell just down the street. There were no tickets to go down there live and glad not because it poured down rain the whole concert. Under the shell though the dry singers gave quite a Christmas musical performance which lasted 3 hours. A perfect evening for these weary travelers!

Today was a whole new day-it is Christmas here! There are not too many peeps on the streets here in Melbourne except many obvious tourists like us. We walked about 5 miles today down to and through another beautiful park and Botanical Gardens. The views were breathtaking as we wandered through a botanist's dream..People picnicking throughout the park, birds chirping, lakes, many different species of trees and plants-everything is so green here!! H and I enjoyed our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by a pond in the park and both agreed it was surreal to be here. Melbourne is a very pretty and clean city. The structures are both old and modern mixed together. Very magical place so far!

By the time we got back to the room, I was pooped! Now our task is to find a restaurant that is open on Christmas night, not a small task. Looks like we will be relegated to the "Casino" district. Oh well, everything is an adventure right?

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Uninvited Guests"

Boarding our (oh so little) airplane from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock it occurred to me that this would be a short flight. It was a quick 30 minutes, in which Qantas managed to give us a “snack” the first free food we had seen for awhile on an airplane. I figured the landing would be tense as it was getting into the Outback the day earlier. And it was..The runway was about 10 feet long and I will admit, there was some seat clutching for me there at the end. We stepped off the plane to a new world of heat and desert. It looks very much like Arizona here, sans cactus. We rented a car at the airport as Ayers Rock and other sites are too far to walk and we did not want to be tied to a tour bus.

Our new abode is the “Sails in the Desert” a part of the “Ayers Rock Resort” group. H picked the highest quality of 4 hotels just for me I know. This one is considered “5 star” and we got the “Spa Suite” The property does not disappoint. Beautiful sails around the pool and property (thus the name). The hotel lobby has beautiful Aboriginal art and clean marble floors. If you do not faint from the outrageous prices of food here, you can enjoy dinner at one of the 2 restaurants here. We are opting for the “cheaper” yet good quality restaurants to dine for dinner at the resort.

The room was nice when we arrived. A very cute spa Jacuzzi bath on the back porch with flowers in a garden overlooking the pool area. Kind of dated..but nice…We immediately high tailed it out to “Uluru” or Ayers Rock, which has been here about 600 million years according to science. The aboriginal people have their own “stories” of religious lore around each nook and cranny of the rock. To look at it far away it just looks like a big rock but close up it is magnificent! We stopped to watch the sunset, where the rock can change colors in moments. Unfortunately, it was cloudy but we did get to see some magnificent changing of colors in the sky and I took a million pictures of Ayers Rock.

Now a bit about the flies here. We had been warned (swarms of flies in the summer at Ayers Rock) by at least 2 Australians. The first thing we did here was go to the store and buy fly net hats, which look as dorky as you can imagine but I say comfort before beauty in this case. We also bought the strongest DEET we could find. It is probably illegal to sell this stuff in the US because I guess DEET is toxic not only to insects but humans too. I do not care. I will not be suffering with flies anymore..So we are equipped with net hats, enough DEET to kill an army of insects..STILL, the flies are relentless. As we tried to sit and watch the sunset last night and meditate, which I suppose is what you should do at Ayers Rock, I was busy shooing flies away from my netted face. I overheard a guy next to me say f^&(ing flies! So I knew I was not alone. We finally had to get in our car and watch from the windows in the not so serene nature of our rented car. A shame really, these flies. I thought I had seen the last of them at IMWA. I guess summer in Australia brings out the little buggers. They do not bite..they just BUZZ and fly around your lips and eyes, especially-just enough to make you nuts. The fact there is BUG SPRAY in the closet should be a clue!

OK, so I was thinking this was all we really had to deal with in this beautiful place in nature. We got home from the sunset and a quick dinner and I went to jump in the 5 star pool to get all the DEET off of me while H stayed behind to meet the guy who was going to show him how to get the Jacuzzi on. When I arrived back in our 5 star room, H opened the door with horror in his eyes. What?! He told me we had a problem..and ANT problem. I went to look at the beds in our nice 5 star room and much to my dismay there were little tiny red ants in our beds. Not just a few ants but HUNDREDS of them on the beds, on the counters in the bathroom, everywhere. I freaked out.. to say the least..H called the desk and they mentioned he could come down and get a key to a new room. No, he said-No-you can BRING me a key to a new room. The guy arrives..I am in my robe frantically trying to get our stuff together and not bring the ants with us..He went on to explain that this was bug season and he even has bugs at his house to which I think I replied Do you spend this much for your house? He said no of course and he was sorry. I asked him how does he know there will not be ants in our new 5 star room? He said because the ants are finicky and do not go in all the rooms..Oh dear lord..H and I were pretty willied out by then and obsessively checked our beds many times before we finally crawled into our new beds. The only saving grace is the hotel guy comped our breakfasts here for 3 mornings, so that saves us around $186. That is how expensive breakfast is here. We found a card in our new room that said:

Uninvited Guests

You may notice one or two uninvited guests. Please do not be alarmed, these creatures are native to the area and it is quite normal for them to appear throughout the resort. If however you are disturbed by their presence, please contact reception.


We awoke the following day and alas were still bug free at least in our rooms. We popped awake at 5:00 and raced out to Ayers Rock to see the sunrise but we missed it by about 10 minutes by the time we got there. We were so not awake yet that H forgot for a few minutes and drove on the right side of the road. Right after we realized it, 2 very large buses came driving the other direction. Whew!

Got to do the morning tour where the history of the rock was given. Ayers Rock or “Uluru” is the largest monolith in the world and one of the wonders of the modern world. There is an area to climb the 350 meters to the top of the rock but a) you have to do it before 8:00 AM and many times they do not open it because of wind, rain, etc and b) the park Ranger said that the indigenous people do not want anyone to walk up there for religious reasons but according to the 99 year lease that they made with the white people, they have to allow it. So we opted not to do it. We decided to do the hike around the whole rock which is about 14k or 8 miles or so. This is the first real exercise I have done since IMWA. It was pretty easy so I must still be in shape. The views up close and personal to the Rock are not think the pictures do it justice. We were swarmed by flies the whole hike and it started to reach about 100 degrees by late morning, when we finished. I was very happy to get back to our air conditioned hotel room (sans ants so far). I got a 5 star massage in the afternoon at the resort. This was in the top ten best massages I have ever had and for the price it should be! I must admit the Jacuzzi tub on the back deck is pretty darn cool!

Today we went to hike “Kata Tjuta” otherwise known as the “Olgas”. They are massive and beautiful. Again the pics cannot take in the grandeur of this area. On the way there early this AM, we saw a wild camel on the road, then we saw many camels in a herd-amazing. The temperature at 11:00 was well over 100 degrees and the UV index here is about 16 (off the scales-there is a “UV alert here), which is way higher than anywhere else I have ever been. We did another shorter, but hotter hike through this area. The hike was more difficult and the one time I wish I had my hiking shoes with me, alas I did not (we left about 100 lbs of stuff back in Alice Springs).

The rest of today we will relax then back to Alice Springs tomorrow for one day. Then we are Melbourne bound! Hopefully the little bit of exercise I have done will make up for the massive amounts of food I am consuming!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Random Travelogue..

I have been trying to formulate my thoughts of the last week in Australia and what seems to be coming out is stream of consciousness so I will blog in random order:

1. We shipped our bikes by SEA, which means that we will be arriving in ABQ before the bikes make it. Margaret and Mark-your cases are on quite a journey and I hope we see them all again (we insured them in case of loss, etc).

2. While in Adelaide, we rented a car and drove in traffic on the left side of the road, which is quite a challenge especially when we hit “roundabouts” which practically caused me a heart attack a few times as doing this is like rubbing your head and patting your stomach. Try it..Eventually we became use to it as we both took turns driving and navigating. We are still married after this.

3. While in the car, we rode along the coast of Southern Australia (SA to the locals). The number of stunning, beautiful beaches are too numerous to mention. I was awestruck by each one. Plus NO PEOPLE..Empty clean, stunning beaches. H mentioned this is what California must have looked like hundred years ago. Seriously amazing!

4. It was god awful hot while we toured above beaches. Over 40 degrees C, which translates into well over 100 degrees F to us. The ozone layer has a hole in it here as told to us so the sun is VERY hot!! The water however is cool and you can see forever to the bottom of the ocean in most beach spots.

5. We had the most amazing Italian dinner in Adelaide the night we left. Adelaide is a pretty cute city, there are street cafes everywhere. This restaurant was the best we have had so far. A perfect ending to our stay there.

6. Off to “Kangaroo Island” on a ferry that took our car with us. It was a 2 hour drive from Adelaide along again stupendous ridiculous views of the ocean. 45 minutes on the ferry and we were there. The island is 75 miles from one end to the other. Some of these are hairy dirt roads which were challenging at times but totally worth it.

7. The first day in “KI” we saw the honey bee farm, the sheep farm where they make their own sheep milk products. We got to see the feeding and milking of the some of 1400 sheep. Who knew this would be so much fun?

8. KI was named the “Best Island in the WORLD” by National Geographic so comes highly recommended. 15,000 kangaroos on the island, 4000 penguins, 6000 fur seals, 5000 koalas, 254 species of bird life and 500,000 wallabies. Could we see them all? Unfortunately, we did manage to see tons of dead Wallabies on the roads, which had some bad luck in their ventures.

9. We got to our “hotel” basically a Bed and breakfast overlooking the “American River” (something about Americans landing here to fish a few hundred years ago). The view was fantastic, accommodations fair and the folks that run the place where gracious and friendly. They told us about the “Penguin Tours” that happened after dark about 20 miles away that night. It was still sweltering hot but as we took the tour, a storm came in and we enjoyed the tiny penguins that only come out at night as we became soaked and cool at last. These penguins are 13 inches high and as cute as they can be. It was so awesome and this was just the beginning of our wildlife adventures!

10. First stop was the Koala sanctuary. Wild koalas perched in trees, wild kangaroos. It was magical to say the least..

11. Next was “Admiral’s Arch” where we commenced to witnessing the many island seals. So many we stopped counting…The views were well, I do not have any more adjectives to describe it. Crashing waves into arches..Seals galore. How else can I explain it?

12. Next was the tour to see the colony of sea lions along the coast. This was the highlight of our visit. We got to get within feet of the most beautiful sea lion grand-daddies and pups. It was magical..

13. Just when we thought it could not get any better, we had dinner at a seaside restaurant in “Kingscote” after we witnessed the feeding of hundreds of HUGE pelicans on the wharf.

As we said goodbye to KI this AM, it was with mixed emotions. I wanted to stay and see more wildlife, yet anxious to get on with the next chapter of our adventure. We hopped on a plane to Alice Springs, Australia, where we are staying one night in a VERY nice hotel, until tomorrow when we fly to Ayer’s Rock, one of the Wonders of the World, here in the middle of the desert of Australia (the Outback). It certainly looks and feels like the “Australian Outback” I have seen in the movies so far. We are relaxing tonight before the 3 day trip to the magical wonders of “Uluru” (Ayer’s Rock). It is suppose to be one of the most magical places in the world. Will let you know..

I am still ruminating about IMWA. When I read that the field was “decimated” and more than half the pros did not finish, I felt better. When I felt the heat and heard the “UV warning” with temps well over 105 degrees, I felt better. But DAMN, I am still pissed at times! But hey look where I am??

Tidbits about Australia:

They have hands down, the BEST drinking water I have EVER tasted.

They have the weirdest coffee drinking system ever. Heating water in "hotpots" then adding instant coffee..OK, the coffee shops have "REAL" coffee that will put hair on your chest..

There is no tipping here. They take your money first, then serve you. Interesting..

Only those “hand dryers” in most bathrooms. Kind of annoying.

People are happy here. The economy is booming. It shows.

The airport security is EXTREMELY lax. That is nice..NO shoe removal or worries about liquids.

The airlines attendants are nice, friendly. Much less uptight than in the US.

More later…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sweet Adelaide..

Here we are in Adelaide, Southern Australia. It was a 3.5 hour flight from Perth, where we lost 2.5 hours. Not sure where that .5 hours comes from, an Aussie thing I guess. I do not question. When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed, well a lot disappointed in our “5 star” accommodations. I guess the star rating is different here because the hotel we are in is : a)very old and b) some stains in the furniture and c) not the “nouveau décor” they advertised. Sorry- these things make me worry about bed bugs, etc. but I cannot right now.. We do have a one bedroom suite which makes up for the bed bug worry. (Did ANYONE see the Dateline story but me? about this issue-old beds=bed bugs)..

We are in the heart of the city of Adelaide, which seems to be growing on me. We ate at a great Indian restaurant last night and tumbled into bed at a decent hour, even with the time change. This AM I felt like a new person walking out on the street, we immediately found a McDonald’s which offered FREE Internet service as opposed to the $40 per day at the hotel-seriously? That was OK..we enjoyed our McCafe and Muesli per McDonalds. I have yet to figure out the whole “hot plate” water warming system here to make coffee in the rooms. They all have it so I know it is possible but darned if I can figure it out!
Next off to the Southern Australia tourism office, where the poor chap spent an hour with us while we figured out what the hell we are doing the next few days. We settled on a car tomorrow (god help us in the big city driving), where we will travel down the coast to the beaches of southern Australia, followed by a ferry trip Wed to “Kangaroo Island” where we will spend Wed-Sat there exploring wildlife and hopefully see some real Kangaroos at last.

Next we were off to the Adelaide Zoo where we were some of the first folks to see the “Giant Pandas” just shipped in from Japan. They were very cute (pics to follow on FB). Sleeping 10 hours a day did not give us much active Panda watching but it was really fun. After the zoo, we walked around and visited the “Migration Museum” where we learned that the British took over the Indigenous people here (sound familiar?) and killed them off to create a new society. I think some of the native cultures are finally reclaiming their heritage and past. It is unreal how white, Anglo-Saxons thought they ruled the world at one time. I am a descendent of one of those I suppose..

Tea on the mall, people watching, lots of walking today..Hopefully will walk off all the food I am consuming. We are off to try out a great steak house tonight and hopefully see the Christmas lights of the VictoriaSquare tonight..

As an aside I have tried “Nads” to take off my facial hair, since my wonderful esthetician is not here with me. I think it works..I have taken half my chin skin off as a result. I am getting tanner by the day, although using 50 SPF sunscreen. This is not attractive on 55 year old skin..Holy cow I feel old!
I try to use my cell phone to call the US. No one here seems to know how to do this. Is it that hard? Will have to stick to Skype I guess..

Friday, December 11, 2009

We are somewhere over here!

We are now in Perth, Western Australia. We have been here for 2 days after taking a bus trip from Busselton. It was kind of sad to say goodbye to the little town of "Busso" because well, other than the 15+ hours there on IM day, we had a fabulous stay there. The people in Busso were ALL friendly, happy..they must put happy pills in all their water I guess.

Perth is more big city with 1 million or so folks here. We are staying right in the heart of downtown, where the outdoor mall is. It is quite bustling at the moment with Christmas shoppers, which feels really wierd since it is sunny and around 80 degrees outside. We are in a very European type hotel, "Miss Maud's" where breakfast is a feast every morning. The rooom is tiny but comfy beds. We have eaten out the 2 nights we have been here in amazing restaurants. Very European style again, with tables outside and things hopping around 8:00, which seems to be dinner time here. We have enjoyed King's Park, a HUGE very clean, beautiful place a meer short city bus ride away. We have done our share of walking too. The sorenss of IM seems to have subsided, especially after the massages we got as soon as we hit Perth. It was MAVALOUS!! I am eating like a pig so will probably gain a ton but for the moment do not care!

Yesterday we took a boat to "Rottnest Island" where beaches are galore and no cars allowed. We did have the option of taking bikes around but the sound of that just turned our stomachs so we took the bus around the island. On the last island a stingray swam right up to H just long enough for him to pet him. It was the most amazing thing ever, almost one of those once-in-a-life moments where you can't believe it happened without any warning. I got one shot of him close to H but missed the petting picture, I was mesmerized..

Only scary thing that has happened is I thought I lost my passport and credit cards this AM but alas they were in our hotel room-whew! Only annoying thing was the very loud drunks on the boat back to Perth yesterday. Otherwise has been a perfect vacation so far! Tonight we are hoping to go to a free X-mas concert in the Eplanade-the Australian Symphony Orchestra.

I am trying to figure out how to download a map on here to show where we are. For now I will say we are very, very FAR from the US!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lessons learned..

OK 48 hours to reflect on IMWA. I trained my heart out for 17 weeks for this race. I did the "advanced program" and have never put so many running hours into my training before. I PR'd a half IM a month before the race, my head was in the right space to get a PR. I was convinced I would. IMWA is considered one of the fastest race courses in the world. Many get PRs on this course...I saw no reason why I would not make the podium. I felt great the days leading up to and on race day. So what the hell happened? I ask myself..I spent yesterday beating myself is more introspective:

1) I should have brought and worn my Garmin that I have used on every single bike and run workout I did leading up to the race. Could have monitored myself better on the bike and run..Stoopid mistake..

2) I think the whole first out of the water in your age group! really f^&(*d me up. I thought then I was some kind of rock star, that IM rules did not apply and I could just go as hard as I could on that first lap of the bike. I did do well, but at the expense of the rest of the race..This is a rookie mistake..I knew better at the time and knew better before. NEVER spend all your energy on the bike -you will end up WALKING the marathon..

3) I cannot control what I cannot control..heat being one of those factors..I do not race well in heat. Over 100 degrees and my body freaked out. Take Rage, Buffalo Springs as cases in point. I sucked and hated my performance in those races too. The fact I could not control the weather is a metaphor for life. You cannot control alot in life and you just deal with it..

4) I have always thought that when you feel like dog-doo doo in an IM, you just fix the problem and you can feel better in no time. This race it literally took me 5 hours to feel better. Guess it does not always work that way..

5) I have always thought secretly that folks who wanted to quit in IM were just sissies and not in the right mental frame. Well, I was wrong-DEAD wrong. Those 16 pros that DQd this race must have felt that way too! I have never been so close to quitting an IM. I have NEVER felt like quitting like this before (well except at Rage in the Sage half IM). So I am humbled and had to use all the mental tricks I have read about and never had to use before.

6) If I had not had such a shitty race, I would have not gotten to finish with H. That almost makes it worth it. Sure was fun coming in together!

7) Had I only even matched my best IM to date, I would have finished on the podium. But of course maybe those other gals were suffering too and would have kicked my ass anyway..

8) It is only a triathlon. Not life or death.

9) Maybe I overtrained. Maybe I undertrained for the heat conditions. Over 100 degree heat is not something I have been training in for sure. Maybe my body peaked a month ago. Who knows?

10) I got my PR 5 years ago when I was that much younger. Maybe this is all I can really do at this age..

11) Lastly, I know there are millions of people who would love to finish even one Ironman with the time I had. I guess I set the bar too high. I do have limits..

So off we go and this will fade into the sunset as we embark on our trip across Australia. I am still disappointed but I will go on and still race but only half IMs or less. Maybe take up competitve swimming? Seems that is the only thing I am getting better at..

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A good day that went to hell-but all is well..

Pre-Race: We got up at dark O'clock and were on the bus to the start by 4:15. It seems like it took the whole 2 hours to get ready, doing what I am not sure..But ready we were..

Swim: As I jumped in for my practice swim at 6:00 AM, the sun was already up. I felt strong and fast as I swam in the nice ocean water. I knew it would be a good day in the water for me. H & I said our goodbyes, we waded into the water waist deep with the 1400 or so other athletes and bang, we were off. The swim goes along a 1 mile jetty so there is not much sighting to do. At first, I did not get beat up too bad but as time went on, I felt myself get hit quite a bit, once in the eye. That kind of sucked. When I did raise my head to check out in front of me, alas it seemed I was in the front group. Push, push, and push I told myself. I sang songs in my head. I thought of the weird dreams I had had the night before. I tried to occupy my brain as I slugged it out. The never ending jetty finally came to an end and so did the sun in my eyes. As we rounded the jetty another slugfest ensued. I got on the feet of a faster swimmer and drafted for what seemed like about 15 minutes. The jetty again seemed like forever..Finally, finally we rounded the lst buoy and although the sun was in my eyes, I headed into shore. I had started my watch at the beginning and as I crawled out of the water I looked down and there it was, the elusive PR I had wanted all year-1:09! When I crossed the mat, the announcer said, Debi Wess, first out of the water in her age group! The thrill of that was indescribable..As I made my way into transition I really thought this could be the day all the stars would align and I would get a race PR. Feeling incredibly positive as I ran my bike out of transition, the announcer said, And it is Debi Wess from the United States of America, first women on the bike in her age group! Another fantastic moment in my career of triathlon. I was really psyched now and just took off. My legs were strangely sore, which confused me since I had not used them hardly for a week.

Bike: The bike is a 3 loop course that takes you away from the beach through the trees and is Y shaped. I rocked the first loop, pushing way beyond what I should have been doing. Wow, I thought, I am actually RACING an Ironman! A woman in my AG passed me. OK, so I will probably not WIN. Although I must admit I was wishing that she would get a flat or something. I played chicken with another woman, until I realized she was not even in my AG at all. As we headed back to town, I knew I was rocking the bike. The first loop took me about 2:10. I thought, OMG if I keep this up, I will PR the bike as well! Well, then is when things started to go downhill. The heat started coming on. Not just a little 80 degree heat but hotter and hotter until one guy said the temp on the bike course was 42 degrees centigrade-yes folks that is 107 degrees Fahrenheit! OK, I thought, I better a) stay hydrated and b) keep the salt tablets coming. Which I did. I drank and drank and took in electrolytes. I started to feel woozy, then I would take a salt pill and would feel better. I notice people on the side of the road, puking. This is not a good sign..The pros seemed unfazed as they whooshed by me probably on their 3rd lap by now. I made my way back to town and saw that my split was considerably slower-damn! Then things really got rough. The wind picked up, with probably 30 MPH gusts in some parts. I was sweating, I knew that was a good sign but I had not peed at all yet. I stopped a couple of times just to catch my breath. I was having trouble breathing-not sure why. And I felt better in aero-position although it was hard to stay there for any length of time at this point. As I rounded the last “Y” I started to feel dizzy. I tried eating, taking in more nutrition. I was dousing myself with water at every aid station. Oh and the flies were unreal. Each person that passed me had about 100 flies on their back. I had used bug spray but I guess the little critters have figured out how to get beyond that stuff because every time I stopped, they swarmed me. The poor volunteers were covered in flies. I felt sorry for them too. On the last stretch home, I have never felt so hot in my life. I made myself stop and pee-although little came out. I was starting to see double at times, not a good sign. The last road in had the worst headwind. It was brutal. I was starting to get really negative by now, vacillating between fuck this race and maybe I will feel better on the run. This was the first time I really thought I may quit. I was worried that I was doing some kind of permanent damage to my body in the heat, trying to remember what the signs of heat stroke were. I knew being chilled was one of them. I did not feel that at least. As I rounded the last turn in town, I was really low. I finally, finally got off the bike and much to my dismay, knew I had a marathon in front of me. I was really cranky by now, kind of short with the poor volunteers in the changing tent. Got the Injinji socks on the wrong feet. T-2 seemed like it took forever. I never saw anyone else in my AG. Maybe they had all DQd? Ambulances were going up and down the course on the bike, not a good sign! My stomach was completely and utterly shut down for the last lap of the bike-I could not take much in nutrition wise.

Run: Well, what can I say? I was ready to quit for at least the first 4 hours. I could not run, could only power walk. At least 75 % of the folks out there were walking, most of them on the second lap of the 3 lap course. I talked to myself, what would be the harm in quitting? I am not having fun, this is stupid, etc… then I thought about my One Thing, the One thing that would keep me going if I got in this place. Mine was a PR. OK, not doing that today. Had to switch my One Thing. I thought, hey I could not claim that first out of the water and PR on the swim if I did not finish the race..For some reason I believed that and kept going. I had bought an IMWA jacket-had to finish to wear that. Then I thought of all my kids that were watching at home. I could not quit and let them down. These things kept me plugging along, one footstep at a time. The run looked like the walking dead. I actually passed people walking! I was really low emotionally, pissed-there were flies everywhere! Millions of them! I was so pissed because the course is so beautiful and I could not enjoy it. The run is along the beach, where all the flies reside I guess. I tried to take in nutrition but my stomach was cramping. Finally after some Tums, things started to move. I finally after about 10 hours of racing-peed. I started to wonder where H was. I had seen him on the bike behind me so knew he was finishing that. I started to look for him in the crowd. If he had quit, then I was going to also. PLEASE let me see H in the crowd. I started wishing they would pull me off the course for medical reasons. All these crazy thoughts were in my head…After the first turnaround, where they gave you colored “scrunchies” to put on your arm to signify the lap you were one, I saw H headed for the turnaround. Not only was he running, he looked like a spring chicken! He said he felt great. I told him I was dying and begged him to catch up with me. He said he would. I kept walking, plugging along. Me and flies. The local people were out in force and cheering almost the whole course. The folks at the aid stations were fantastic. I stopped and got some more bug spray at one and told the woman I actually thought I was going insane from the flies. When I was heading back to the second turnaround, a woman stopped to talk to me. She was from here and it was here 2nd IM. She confirmed the brutal conditions. She walked with me for about 15 minutes. That helped me so much I wish I knew who she was-I would call her and thank her. It was about this time, the sun started thankfully going down. It started to cool off and amazingly, I started to feel better. The flies started going away-guess they only like scorching hot temperatures! I was taking in only coke and Infinite at this point, an occasional Powergel. I even ran for about 20 minutes..The second turnaround and scrunchie came, as did the glow sticks. I saw H again-he was gaining on me and finally he caught me about ¼ of the way into the 3rd loop. I almost cried. He was on his way for a PR. He was running this whole time. I told him not to walk with me-this was his day. But he insisted on walking the rest of the way with me. This is a true partner-not sure I would have done the same for him! We discussed our war stories of the hot bike..He saw way more casualties than I did. I wonder today how many folks DNFd because of the heat. H said he even passed a Pro woman on the bike course who was struggling. It got dark-there were still folks on the course cheering us on. God Bless them all! The last 4 miles seemed to take forever but we thought how cool it was going to be to finish together-I knew the kids would see that and that made me happy! I knew I could keep my “first out the water” status now. We passed Dave, the guy we had seen speak at the pre race dinner. He finished the first IM in 1978. He told us the conditions at this race were similar to Kona. OK, I never, never want to go to Kona! I also decided (I know we all say this) that this is my 4th and last Ironman. My body can’t take a beating like this again.

At last, H & I went down the chute, holding hands and heard the best sound in the world, Deb and Hartley Wess, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!

The bus driver that took us home said it was the hottest day of the year so far and by far the hottest race they had had in 6 years. OK, I did feel a little better about my performance hearing that.

Today, we are moving VERY slowly. I slept fitfully probably from all the caffeine I ingested. But I have the medal, the really cool finisher’s shirt and the finisher’s towel. I get to say I did Ironman Western Australia and I worked for every single second of that race..and I was FIRST out the water in my AG at a friggin’ Ironman!!

I have had much better races than this one-well most of them. But I really saw yesterday what the human will and power of thinking can achieve. I have never fought so hard for anything in my life. I have a sticker on my bike that says “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever” I repeated that constantly yesterday. If I can complete IMWA, in those conditions I can do anything!

6th out of 10 in my AG is not bad considering…I’ll take it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Craig Alexander and me..

OK, I got to talk on the phone with the Hawaii champion from Australia. Well, me and 1500 other folks! At the carbo dinner last night, they got him on the phone from Sidney and he spoke to the audience. The next best thing to being there I suppose and those Aussies are quite proud of their triathlon star! If you do not know who he is, google him. He is right up there with the greatness of the sport!

The day started with my getting my "stuff" ready for the race. A little concerning we did not receive special needs bags. Not sure why-we are off to the race meeting this AM so will find out then I suppose. We took a cab into town yesterday to Woolworths (Woolies). I was standing outside waiting for H and who should I see? My friend Richard, whom I met on Facebook from Australia-he has been filling us in with details of the race since day one. I recognized him from his picture and said "Richard?" I think I scared him but once he knew who I was, we just laughed at such a coinicidence..He has really been a wealth of knowledge about the race and is a very positive person so was great to meet him. Off to the bike store where they have no idea how we should ship our bikes home after the race either, something we knew we would have to figure out once we got here..we will deal with that after the race I guess.

The "Parade of Nations" took place starting in the park downtown. It looked like only a few folks were going to be in it then all of a sudden there were about 300 athletes tha participated, representing 46 countries. We lined up behind the US flag, carried by a guy named Dave, from Milwaukee-I thought "oh how nice-he traveled so far" Well, I found out later, when he spoke to the crowd of 1500, that this was Dave Orlowski, the guy who finished 3rd in the 1st ever Ironman in Hawaii in 1978! Seriously? Well if I would have known that I would have at least gotten my picture with him or something! Tears were welling up in my eyes as we "marched" down Main Street in Busselton to Ironman Village. I had to pinch myself. Am I really here doing this? There were folks lined up on the street cheering for us! It was magical..We arrived at the "Event Marquee", where the "drum band" continued to play until we were let into the big tent for dinner. The place was huge! It was decorated with flags everywhere. The food was amazing. All different types of pasta, salad, fruit, rolls, dessert-it was all there. Although we don't drink, we could have even had beer if we wanted it (I guess the Aussies like their pre race beer). There was entertainement-not just some local group they got to come play, but a real singing act that sang and danced a bunch of internationally themed songs. It was good!

Then came the emcees, who were dressed in some kind of dwarf type costumes. I think it means something here but it looked pretty ridiculous to us! They introduced each of the 46 countried represented here and played their national anthem in part-there were some countries that had only one person and they still did that! The US has 82 participants, topped only by Singapore who had 100 athletes here! We stood and cheered when they called us and played our NA. Of course Australia had the most athletes and it was a booming sound when it came to announcing the Aussies! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

They got Craig on the phone sometime during the evening..that was cool. He told ME (and a few hundred others) good luck and have fun! We saw a 20 minute video from last year's race and those folks..well I am not sure they were having fun but it will be an experience. I already feel like I have died and gone to heaven here and am very blessed to be here.

Off we go to the athlete's meeting this AM and to bike check-in and try to correct our State. If not you can hear from Albuquerque, Alaska, you are an Ironman! Hopefully we fix this today..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Registered and chilling...

Since I received a criticism after my last post for my literary skills, I hesitate to write this but will with this disclaimer: I do not claim to or ever will be a writer. I am posting on this blog for me, my family and friends who are hopefully tolerant of my writing skills (or lack there of). When I am tired and/or jetlagged, I do not make much sense-ever..

That said, we have officially been in Aussie Land for 5 days now. My body is starting to feel right again as it gets use to the "upside down" schedule the new land has us in. Last night I slept all night and woke up at 5:30 instead of 4:30. So slowly but surely..

Yesterday, we were invited to cycle with the local "Busso" triathletes at 5:30 AM. Of course we were up way before then and the sun arises here at 5:00 AM so we were bright-eyed and bushy tailed awake and riding by 6:00. We were lead along the bike course along with 9 other locals, who were friendly and nice as you can imagine..23 miles later we felt like rockstars with all the extra O2..The course is beautiful, along the beach and "forest" with wind at times..Apparently they have wind here too..not just in NM! We will be treated with some wind on race day it seems, if the weather gods have it right. That's OK-we can take it-bring it on!! The folks then invited us to coffee, where I was schooled in how to order a cup of coffee (a long black)..Our new found friends even invited us to come swim early today but alas we overslept!

I read a whole book yesterday, we rented a movie and generally just laid around after our early morning excursion..H cooked a fantastic "steak on the barbie" in our new home away from home. It was cold and started raining off and on yesterday  so was a good day just to rest.

Today, off we went to walk the 2.5 miles down the beach for our "organized swim". Well, things here at IMWA seem a little more relaxed. There were no Gator-Aid folks there to take your stuff so we just hopped on with an IM tour group and swam with them. The water is as clear as it gets. I was a little nervous when the first guy I saw get out said he was stung on the face by a jelly fish. There are NOT suppose to be jelly fish in this ocean! We managed to swim for about 25 min. No stings, the water temp is cool, but not cold. I felt FAST in the salt water....

After the swim, we ate lunch at "The Goose" Fantastic food, great view..Then off to the Expo. Seems they were not quite all together either as most of the booths were not even set up yet. Our biggest disappointment so far is the IMWA gear. Not only is the clothing pretty "cheap" looking, they have the iron-on kind of IMWA logos (you know the kind that washes off over time)-that is if you can actually see the logo beyond the "JAGGARD" label (clothing line I guess)..Bummer because we were planning to buy the store out on IMWA stuff but not that stuff at those prices ($150 for a cheap ass jersey). OK I can live with this issue. We will scout it out again on Sunday for finishers' stuff. Oh and apparently I am skinnier in Australia. When they weighed me today (they weigh all the athletes), I weighed 7 lbs lighter than in the US. Amazing!

The people here are so friendly and helpful-it is hard to describe. They laughed when we went and "got in line" for the registration a few minutes before it opened- we were FIRST! Only the crazy Americans, whose IM races sell out a year in advance were there to be FIRST! Quick check in..The only funny thing is I guess we did not put in our state on the application so the guy, never having heard of ABQ, put in the first state he could think of I guess...Alaska. So we are from Albuquerque, Alaska..Ha!! Also, we were given a "Safely Utility Knife" in our shwag bags. Really? I guess that is to cut down the competition? We will not make it past the first airline flight out of Perth but until then, at least I know I have a huge KNIFE if I need it!

Tomorrow, we will be in the "athlete parade" of nations. We will all be parading down mainstreet to the carbo loading dinner. How cool is that?

Chilling out the rest of today..Life is good in the Land of Oz..

Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Adventure Begins.

Our odyssey began on Thanksgiving Day, which was only about 4 days ago but feels like a million years ago right now. We had Thanksgiving lunch with Nana and Heather. After leaving ABQ late afternoon, bikes in hand we began with our epic travel day. I was pleasantly shocked when the SWA representative actually KNEW what our bike cases were and we seamlessly got our bags checked, yes even the one I had that weighed 51 lbs. Gawd-you really expect me to fit everything I want to bring on a 2 month trip in one 50 lb. suitcase? We got on the plane and alas we were off! When we got to LAX, not only did our bikes actually arrive with us, we found some kind soul to cart our ever so heavy bike bags and 4 others on a huge cart over to Air New Zealand (we gave him $20). I was so happy to see those bikes get checked in-we were at last a 10th of the way there. Then to top off a perfect day, Allison and Lane met us at the airport and we had our 4th Thanksgiving dinner with our 4th child. Wow are we ever lucky-seriously..all our girls and granddaughters are the most amazing adults-I am one proud mama!! OK, so bye bye to Lane and Ally..we got to our gate and at 9:15 PM on Thursday night we took off to make our way to our final destination, Perth, Australia. Now this is where it gets a little fuzzy for me. The crossing of the International Date Line thing is a mystery to me. I never did get it right but I do know it took 12 hours to fly to Auckland, New Zealand and somewhere between the 2 movies, 5 hours of sleep and 2 meals, we lost a day. Arriving at 7:30 AM SATURDAY in NZ, we did our best to sweet talk our way into the Air NZ lounge to spend the next 7 hours until our next plane left. No amount of money or good looks or begging could get us in. So we sat, and sat and sat for most of the day in the main area of the Auckland Airport. We did find a public shower which was not very busy this hour of the morning so after a quick shower with paper towel drying, I felt a bit refreshed. I managed to get a back massage, do about 4 crossword puzzles and perked up a bit when H got us some REAL coffee as we waited. I had tried to limit my caffeine up until this point and drank tons of water. The thigh high compression hose that was suggested REALLY helped with the ankle swelling all this air time could have given me. At around 2:30 PM, we left for Perth on another 7.5 hour flight. This time I watched another 2 movies, ate, more crosswords, got REALLY tired of traveling but was still very excited that we actually pulled this off and were able to leave the States without any emergencies or crisis. A miracle!! Finally, after 35 hours of traveling including the layovers, we arrived in Perth around 5:00 PM, Saturday. We went to baggage claim and wonder of wonders; there were our bikes-in one piece! I have heard horror stories of bikes getting lost, getting broken, etc so I figured if ours got here it would be amazing-it was! The customs folks are not too keen on Infinite drink powder that looks like drugs and is not in the original packaging but they let us through anyways. We hauled all our stuff out the airport door and to our amazement, it was summer!! And there are flies here..not just a few but A LOT of flies! That is the only downside I have seen of Australia so far. And bug spray seems to have handled that already.

Off on the shuttle we went with a couple who had just had their plane turn around after almost reaching a remote island and they had to try again tomorrow. I was so thankful we did not have THAT experience! I was quite loopy by this point. We got to the hotel in Perth and found a restaurant on the premises. H assured me this was the worst hotel we would be staying in. However it was close to the airport and the shuttle would pick us up the next day there to head to Busselton. It was a bed..that is all I needed after traveling so long. I almost fell asleep in my dinner so needless to say I slept OK that night, despite the horrendous jet lag. We awoke to a beautiful sunny Australian day the next day, hung out by the pool to set our circadian clocks and waited for our shuttle, which was to take us 3 hours to Busselton. They forgot to tell us we may be waiting and hour or two at the airport for other travelers. But it was fun, as we met another American, who is a professional and triathlon coach whose goal is to break 9 hours in this race. My goal is to get done with the BIKE in 9 hours-holy cow! Some other very sweet ladies got on the van and we were off! The chatty annoying bus driver made the trip go fast. He took us on our first glimpse of the bike course as we headed into Busselton. One word-FLAT. It is flat as a pancake and that is for real!! And beautiful, tree lined forest for part of the ride and ending up near the jetty on the beach for transition and finish line. As we drove into “Busso” we got really excited and happy. We made it all the way here! The bus driver found our hotel, which is more like the luxury Inn on the beach compared to the previous stay. We have a very nice 2 bedroom with kitchen modern “villa” right near the beach and bike path that we will be running on. It is so pretty here I can’t even describe it. I am posting pics on FB..The 50 inch TV isn’t bad either if you like anything on the 4 TV stations they get here. We were pretty exhausted when we got here, disoriented by the time change and HUNGRY. So the very sweet young lady who was at the front desk did what every hotel does (not really), She DROVE us to the grocery store and waited while we bought food…and brought us back! OK, now I know we are in for small town friendliness! The people here are happy, friendly, and helpful. One of the guys that works here came over this AM because we could not figure how the hell to get our bikes together-we looked like the 2 stooges as we searched in Internet for PICTURES OF BIKES so we could copy them…The guy phoned the best bike shop in town (well there are only two) and made us an appointment for us to bring them in. We managed to assemble them well enough to ride the 4 miles into town, on the LEFT side of the street. Now that makes for interesting bike adventures in a new town with plenty of roundabouts and traffic. We dropped our bikes off, took off to the store with our backpacks so we could fill them with food. We looked like vagabonds as we trudged to the “Woolworth’s” (yes I guess they do still exist in some parts of the world!); in our socks (we had forgotten our shoes). It may have made more sense for us to rent a car, but I think both of us are scared at this point to try the whole driving on the left thing even in this little town. The folks we ran into were the best-I had 3 people ask me if I was here for “the Ironman” and told me they were volunteering. There are 1500 volunteers from the community at this race! That must be half the population! You know you are in a small town when:

1. The guy in the bike store asks you to “watch his store” for a minute while he goes and test drives your bike.

2. The guy that works here invited us to go riding in the AM with a group of locals.

3. You can leave your hotel room unlocked because you just know no one will rip you off.

4. You see a very nice Cervelo P-3 sitting outside a barber shop-no lock, nothing..

5. EVERYONE says hi to you-that is EVERYONE!

We still have not figured out how to get a phone card, although we think we know where to do that.

So today we managed to get our bikes in order and ready to race, ran and walked about 7 miles in all and got some new food…heard people say words like “gooday mate” and “great bloke” and ran into great folks everywhere we went. I am still a bit foggy from the time change but getting clearer every day. The ocean is amazing here. I cannot wait to swim in it!

Tomorrow we will probably go on the ride, since they are riding part of the course, although 5:30 is awfully early to get going..The sun rises about then here and sets around 8:00. I have yet to see a cloud. The only thing I forgot is my charger for my camera battery-AGGhhhh! So $55 went for a new charger. I need my pictures of Team Wess’ adventure!

Monday, November 23, 2009

11 Days and counting...

Have been using this since IMFL. I can't figure out my "One Thing" for IMWA yet...I would like to say "place in my AG" but feel too intimidated to do so:
The One Thing (by Rich Strauss of Crucible Fitness)
The run is where the rubber meets the road. Let's consider the entire Ironman starting field and the likelihood of these athletes running to their full potential on race day. A percentage will be eliminated due to improper training. The classic example is training for a marathon, not a 26.2 mile run after a 112 mile bike ride. Another percentage will be eliminated by nutritional and pacing mistakes that begin to express themselves either late in the bike, or mid way through the run.
So when we reach T2, we have a small subset of the entire field who have created the opportunity for a successful run through the skillful manipulation of many variables: training, physical fitness, nutrition and pacing. Of this subset, what then determines who runs to their potential and who does not? The One Thing.
First, a successful Ironman run = slowing down as little as possible. Not slowing down is almost entirely a function of maintaining focus, not fitness. If you are not cramping up on the run, you don't need to be running very fast to have a successful marathon, by Ironman standards. Despite what you might think, the difference between a good and bad marathon time is just continuing to move forward, as best you can, for the entire 26.2 miles. Sorry, but that's about as sexy as it gets out there.
You MUST expect your body to have a conversation with your head at some point during the run:
Body to Mind: "Ok, I'm truly suffering here. I can keep going, but you need to give me a very good reason to continue suffering like this."
Mind to Body: "We suffer because of the One Thing. The pain won't last forever. Just keep doing the best you can do and we'll get there."
My One Thing
The One Thing is whatever has motivated you to do this to yourself in the first place. Before the race you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and identify what your One Thing is. And this is no time for bullshit. Be completely honest because your body will play your bluff when the chips are down. You can't lie to yourself out there.
After four Ironman finishes, I have identified my One Thing as very concrete goals, time or place based.
Ironman Florida, '00: I came off the bike with a shot at going sub 11hrs for my first IM. I used this goal to maintain complete focus on my run and had a successful day, despite donating blood 18 days before the race and to this day not remembering miles 13 through 22. One Thing = sub 11:00, determined in T2.
Ironman California, '01: 30-34 AG qualifying time in 2000 was 10:20. I wanted to qualify but wasn't completely committed to it. At about mile 10 of the run I had seen many 30-34 calves pass me and knew I wasn't going to qualify. I began to lose my focus and ran into some nutritional issues by mile 22. Picked myself up and finished in...10:19. Just below the qualifying standard but a year too late :-) One Thing = Kona, but I wasn't completely honest with myself. After that goal become unrealistic, I should have set an alternate objective of sub 10:10, as a tool to maintain my focus.
Ironman Wisconsin, '02: Not confident in my run fitness and expecting a dogfight with Pedder. However, I came off the bike 15th overall, with a very good chance of qualifying or even standing on the AG podium. Maintained complete focus and ran 3:45 on about 3:30 marathon fitness. One Thing = Kona and AG podium, determined in T2.
Ironman Hawaii, '03: Injury and first time on the island combine to set my goal at having a successful race. One Thing = no execution errors. Without a concrete, quantifiable goal I struggled to maintain my focus and failed to do so, relative to my performances at Florida and Wisconsin. I was a machine on those days, but not in Kona. My One Thing became pain and the desire to make it stop. I had a strong last 5 miles, considering.
Your One Thing
My One Thing may or may not be yours. I know what mine is now and will plan my race goals around it to increase my potential for a successful race.
How do you determine your One Thing?
Identify why you want to do the race before signing up. Are you doing it for you or to prove something to someone else? Be completely honest with yourself. "I'm a doing this Ironman so I can earn a unique title that is mine forever." One Thing = title of Ironman.
Take that One Thing and mate it with your race goals and expectations: "The title is important to me, not the time. I want to finish with a smile on my face."
Remind yourself, daily, of your One Thing and the race goals and expectations you have built around it. Through this process your One Thing will provide clarity of purpose to your training. When the Phunometer is pegged during a 6 hour long ride, you'll know why you are still out there.
In your mental rehearsals before the race, visualize the conversation between Mind and Body when the Body begins to question the Mind's commitment to the One Thing. Prepare your rebuttal beforehand.
On race day, continually remind yourself of the One Thing. Focus completely on its accomplishment. Remember, you can never disappoint your friends or family. They will be proud of you regardless. However, you can let yourself down. In the end, the best we can do is follow our commitment to our One Thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last big Push..

This was on the schedule for yesterday: 5000 yard swim, 120 mile bike, 4 mile run brick after bike.  A month ago I would have said that was crazy, never could be done. But as the days of training have rolled on, so has my strength and confidence. Lastly being the B2B half IM, in which my confidence got a BIG boost with a 2nd place finish and a PR. So H & I were on track to do this thing yesterday, even after I obsessively looked at the weather the day before and decided to go with Accuweather, which is not necessarily so-but it said partly cloudy all day-humph! Anyway we knew it could rain anyway so came dressed accordingly.

We learned that the Westside gym does not open until 7:00 AM on Saturdays-are you kidding me? Guess you Westsiders all like to sleep in after a Friday night out...the peeps I know out there do NOT! Ok so we started at 6:00 AM at the Eastside gym, where I guess folks like to work out early on the weekends. We got to the pool at 6:10 and already all the lanes were taken-say what? We were pretty surprised but oh, well off to tackle to 3 miles of swimming. H decided we should break it down into 1000, 500-repeat times 3 after 500 warm-up. This proved to be a little faster, as we knew we had a big day in front of us. 1 hour and 50 minutes later I was in the shower and drying my hair. We arrived at the Westside gym and were off about 9:15. Who should we see but Steve B., who graciously rode with us the first 20 miles or so. He informed us cheerfully that the rain was coming at noon-thanks Steve..See our friend Joe is the local weatherman so Steve has the inside much for! It was cold to start, cloudy but not so bad. I warmed up quickly-that wasn't so hard. Steve also informed us it was goathead season-thanks Steve! More flats to worry about.. We got north to Bernalillo and beyond, heading out to San Felipe or Hollywood Casino. The clouds were all around us, but no rain yet. As we got to the dog part of the ride I saw a dog and we immediately considered turning back.(one of our friends got bit by a dog out there a couple of months ago and is still recovering-scary) Then we saw about 30 riders in a pack going the other way and let them get between us and the dog, who never seemed to see any of us..So got to the casino and H (who is never in a hurry, ever at stops) said Quick let's go-the rain is coming! I gulped down a Red Bull and then by golly I was ready to GO! I had this never-ending hunger the whole ride. I was not tired, my legs never hurt but I ate 3 bars, about 10 powergels, and 4 bottles of Mark Allen drink-and was still hungry from time to time. We shot back to Bernalillo into a headwind-of course..Then came the sprinkles. Nothing too strong, nothing that ever felt uncomfortable so we just kept plugging away. If I was not in such a hurry, I would have taken pictures, it was surreal..Dark clouds all around us and no real rain to speak of..We stopped minimally, just to eat, adjust, etc. By the time we were almost back to the car again-midpoint, the sun was out-yay! So this helped us make the decision that indoor riding for the next 4 hours was definitely out-we were off to head south!! After replenishing drinks, goos and adding arm warmers, extra hoodie, wool socks and warmer gloves I was ready for the next 50 miles at least.

We took off south down the bike trail, where it had apparently rained. The farther south we got, the wetter the road. We were headed toward very dark clouds, hmm, not a good sign..And instinctually, I figured wet leaves are probably slippier so we took it easy over the massive amounts of yellow wet leaves on the trail. It started getting colder..I had no idea what time it was at any point of the ride. I just blindly rode on..We saw at least 2 people fixing flats-not a good sign..One good thing about riding on the bike trail in crappy weather on a Saturday-there were hardly any people-imagine that! We hit the road to take us out to our southern Casino Isleta. I thought I knew a shortcut, which took us about 3 miles out of our way in what appeared to be a not so good area of town. It was an adventure of sorts and we finally found our way out of South Valley industrial land. Still no rain but very dark clouds around us. I felt warm and comfortable though so on we went. Just as we turned the corner to go to the gas station at the turnaround, H says I've got a flat.. Oh sucky bummer! We assessed the situation at the stop and changed the flat, only to have it flat again. Oh shit..after about 4 air cartridges (note to self-do not keep spent air cartridges in Bento Box) and another tube we held our breath and the tube held air-whew! By now it was raining-like real rain...Quickly we took off north on Broadway street that although sounds good in the movies, in these parts is like taking a chance on life..The cars ZOOM by and actually try and scare you as you ride on the not so clean shoulder. I was pretty worried at this point that we may not make it home alive..FINALLY we got back on the trail. It was raining, the sun came out and then I saw it-a rainbow! We were riding toward the end of the rainbow! How cool is that? It was sign-we were going to the end of the rainbow!!! A good omen for sure. Then came the wet leaves again and we gingerly made it through that. I was keenly aware the sun was sure going down fast-still raining...Then it started getting dark..About 4 miles from the car, the rain stopped but so did the light..Finally H said I can't see anything.. Oh-not a good sign. I got in front and tried to guide although I could not see either. About 1.5 miles from the car we turned up the trail, into lights from cars that blinded us. So we walked about a mile until we could see again under the streetlights. As we headed through the parking lot I said We lived to see our car! H looked down and announced 104 miles! We did it! Not the 120 we were suppose to do but with the elements and flats-that was pretty good and we were happy. I could have kept going-that is how good my legs felt. But I was tired and hungry and said I wanted to quit. H said Oh no we are not quitting-we got this far-we are going to finish the workout! This is new for us-I am usually the slave driver. OK, suck it up-I told myself. We gathered our stuff, headed into the gym. I am sure as bedraggled as we looked, we must have looked like hobos or something as we checked in to do our treadmill run. I hopped on the treadmill and to my surprise my legs felt fine. I ran/walked 4 miles in 49 minutes..not so bad.Then H said Look outside..It was POURING RAIN! Wow-we just made it! My legs did start to get tired at the end and man I was HUNGRY!!! There were not enough powergels to ease my hunger..We both looked at each other at the end and at 7:00 PM, we were done!!

Home-quickly rinsed off the oh so dirty bikes, got our stuff inside and I ate and ate and ate dinner. We both felt great-like you do after a race but within 2 hours I crashed..really crashed.I was in bed by 9:15 and OUT! This morning my legs are sore-should have done that ice bath last night but just didn't have the energy after the    day...We are suppose to do a "36 mile recovery ride" which will be done at the gym because it is snowing  outside this AM.

IMWA here we come!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

B2B Race Report..

We arrived Wednesday with a couple of our folks, Miguel and Lorraine. Margaret and Corey were already there with our bikes. They graciously drove our bikes in a van across the universe to this new home called North Carolina, where there is so much oxygen you feel like superstar when active. Soon the rest arrived and we settled into our 1970's version of a beach house. Comfortable, but old. The views from the house of the ocean was amazing! So we had Mark and Lorna, DP, Tim, Miguel and Lorraine, Margaret and Corey, Michael and Michi, Mark T. and Naomi, Orlando, H & I.
Athletes=12 Sherpas=3. The sherpas were so amazing, I cannot begin to tell how much of a difference they made! Lorna made us all cookies (twice) and dinner on Friday night. Now that is a sherpa! Corey kept us all organized on race day-he rocked!
On Thursday, we went swimming in the ocean channel for practice. The water was cool, but not impossibly cold. I ran into Vickie from blog land and that was a great surprise! Later, we went to check in and go to the athlete's dinner. Everything was extremely organized in the check in process, I think NAS could learn a lesson or two from the B2B folks in this department. The pre race dinner was great food, OK speaker (something about "recycling our passion"-kinda corny but OK). Loading 15 people into our "passenger van" was quite an art and Mark drove us downtown for the experience in Wilmington. I felt nervous all week about the logistics of getting us all everywhere. But it really did all work out like it was suppose to, despite with my anal retentive barking of orders..Our house on the beach was about 10 miles from downtown. I was really glad we opted for the quiet beach house as opposed to staying downtown with the nervous athletes. It was a good decision..
Friday was rather low key. Some went to the pre-race briefing and filled us in. We found T-1 and dropped off our bikes and "stuff" Again my nerves about ever seeing my "stuff" again were high, as this was a point to point race. The energy at this pre-race was much different than "Ironman" races (official ones). People did not seem as uptight-atmosphere more relaxed. Again Corey, Lorraine and Lorna had "a plan" on how to get us all to the race start and picked up. I was so grateful someone was in charge of this aspect as I had nightmares about not getting to the start on time or not getting us all home in one piece. We took a walk on the beach, had great food, entertainment per MG, who quizzed us all on deep and not so deep subjects post dinner conversation..It was so much fun..we had the best group of people I can ever imagine living under one roof for this experience. The memories of that will stay with me forever..
Sat. AM, the 7 Ironfolks were taken to T-1 at 5:00 AM. There was a "cool front" that had come in making the air temp in the 40s. That actually made for a cool start but perfect race day temp later..Corey came back and got the rest of us and we headed to T-1 way too early but "they" said T-1 would close at 7:00. Which made for a bus trip to the half IM start-there we were 90 minutes before our start time. That kind of sucked but we sat around and laughed and watched the Ironman swimmers ZOOM by with the current. Ahhhh, an easy swim I thought. And I was right. When my wave took off, the current was so strong I could hardly hold the line in the water but BOOM, we were off! I was trying to sight but having difficulty because of the sun. So I followed the two women ahead of me and thought Wow, I think I am third in this wave (new experience). Everytime I turned to breathe, I was acutely aware of the extra oxygen and this just gave me more encouragement. I did not have a watch on at this point so you could have told me I did the swim in 25 or 45 minutes. Come to find out the former was true. I climbed out a the ladder, they pulled off my wetsuit, I found my shoes, ran about 50 yards and crossed the mat.
Swim time: 27:51
The run to T-1 was 400 yards (thus the shoes). Then into transition, where I found my bike and proceeded to dink around trying to figure out whether to wear all the clothes I had brought. I made the quick decision to not put anything extra on, I felt warm. This turned out to be fine..Out of T-1 after what seemed to be a 10 min. transition.
Bike: It was suppose to be "pancake flat" Not so sure about that. There were about 4 little bridges to go over although I will say for the most part it was flat. There was suppose to be an aid station at mile 25. I had drunk all my water and when I did not see one I was pissed. The aid station ended up being at mile 30 but I suppose that was OK because I hauled ass to get to it. I stoppped, took off the plastice bags I had put on my aerobottle, which I had forgotten to take off, readjusted everything and it all felt like a new race. My Garmin HR monitor was not working, I do not know if this was the salt water or what but my HR either said 52 or 182. So I decided just to go at a pretty hard pace until it worked. It never did. At the turn around back to town we encountered the wind, of course but hey..we train in wind all the time..I told myself..About 6 miles from the end, a woman in my AG passed me. Oh no you're not! I thought and passed her..I knew I had probably PRd the swim, was PRing the bike and was going to walk/run the half marathon. I knew she would probably be a runner but damn if I was going to let her get me on the bike! We crossed over a bridge into transition (ow!). I crossed the mat and saw the Battleship. It was impressive all big and in the water..Didn't have much time to enjoy..
Bike time: 3:13 (this includes T-1 because the timing chips were screwed up or something) I think my real bike split was 3:04.
In this transition they guided me to my stuff-there it was! Magically had made it across town over the harbor into a new transition area-magic! I dumped it all out, sorted what I wanted and boom, was off on the run.
T-2: 3:40
Run: Now I had to got the the BR-bad! So I waited until the first aid station and had a nice little break, ate, drank, etc..even though my feet were kind of numb as the blood rushed to them, I felt great! Woman from bike in my age group passed me early on the run and I never saw her again-as expected..I planned my run, ran my plan. Run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. My running was pretty fast for me, between 9 and 10 min miles. I loved doing it this way. My feet became un-numb. I was able to mentally stay focused and just chugged along. I met up with a few Outlaws going the other way. Caught up to Orlando and we walk/ran together for awhile. Two more pit stops and I felt so good. At the turn around I was so GLAD I was only doing the half. I knew I had it in me to finish the half, but to run a whole marathon like this, after pushing the bike, I knew would be tough. (Note to self: do NOT push the bike that hard in IMWA). The last hill was brutal before the last mile of the race. Now I started to see some of our Iron folks out on the run-that was really AWESOME! I knew we were all having good races. Being in kind of a race fog, I could not for the life of me figure out what my time was. I had fiddled with my Garmin at the beginning at the run (note to self: read the instructions) and finally got it to work in run mode but still could not get what the hell my time was..
At last I crossed the finish line and the clock said 6:50. So I was thinking, OK, I need to add 20 minutes to that since I started in a later wave. No that was not right, I had to subtract the 20 minutes..Duh!
Run time: 2:46
Final race time: 6:31-PR by 14 minutes!!
Wow! I was really happy about that. There were our sherpas and sweet Courtney at the finish line..It was a party! Pizza, doughnuts, lots of PRs. H finished not too long after me for his own PR. I heard in the background they were doing awards but didn't think much of it at first. Then Michi found out she WON her age group and I thought well maybe there is a chance? I had not seen anyone else on the race course except the one woman. There were 7 women signed up in my AG. Could I have placed? After some time they finally gave out the awards for my age group. When I saw bike woman go up for first place, H & I looked at each other and whooped! I got SECOND place..oh yes I did!! I do not think I have ever been so excited before in my life..I have not gotten an award in so long..this was surely a surprise! The award plaque is a piece of the original deck of the Battleship we were standing next to. And some dude in a military uniform gave me my award.. how cool is that..
Wow..very long story short, we managed to get back to the car eventually (the logistics of this is a nightmare Mr. Race Director)..Somehow got back and gathered all the Ironman folks, who many had a PR, finished there first and Miguel even won his age group! We made it "home" by 10:30. I was so exhausted but happy. All of us were abuzz with the day's events. It was a very well run race (except the post race wait to get on a trolley to the car)..Everyone had their stories, it was hard to go to bed!
After a slight meltdown when I realized there was no coffee the next morning at the house ( I went and got some) we were off for the long trip home...
As I sit here today, I am pooped, sore and happy. Next stop-Australia!! We leave in 17 days!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quick update from the Ironhouse..

OK, these will be bullet points. My brain is heavily into Ironman Crazies. Some may call it "Bipolar Ironcrazy" but really it is only the extreme tiredness and fatigue that accompanies Ironman training. H & I woke up the other morning and promised each other that next year NO IM training!!! We must stick to this as partners..otherwise one of us will get weak and pull the other in. That is how the madness starts..

1. I am tired. Oh, I think I mentioned this already.
2. I have no idea what my goal for Ironman Western Australia is. Sometimes I think it is just to finish, sometimes I think it is to have a PR. I can't decide.
3. I will run over 100 miles the month of October. First time ever over the century mark!
4. My house looks like hell. Not only is is dirty..there is laundry piling up everywhere.
5. I got to see my five year old granddaughter go to Kindergarten when I visited Long Beach a few weeks ago. That and dance class. I still remember her mom at dance classes for goodness sakes. What happened to to all that time in between?
6. Fall is officially in New Mexico. The Balloon Fiesta is over, the leaves are turning, the heat is on and the damn chamisas are blooming. I know because I can see them and feel them everyday!!!
7. My ankle is so much better. I do feel twinges of the previous sprain but usually after I bike. Weird...
8. One reason my foot is probably not bothering me is because we are getting into a groove of running 2 minutes, walking 1 minutes. We average 13 min miles, which some may say is not really running as a recent NY Times article alludes to. Shame on you NY Times!! I could actually plan on doing this at IMWA and be fine with it.
9. After said running training, I ran the whole Long Beach half marathon, only walking at the aid stations. I did NOT have a PR but felt great. Sea level is a wonderful thing.
10. I have done 2 century rides in the past month. The first, the Acoma Century Ride was a wonderfully supported ride with plenty of aid stations, bike support and happy volunteers. The next one was yesterday the Day of the Tread, which was basically a suckfest. Now part of this just might have been the 4500 yard swim and 14 mile run we did the day before. I am not discounting that. Part of it could have been the 20 MPH headwind we had for a good 30 miles of it. The wind was suppose to be 5-9 MPH. WTF??? So I was not prepared to be blown all over a road that has traffic whizzing by at 80 MPH like a highway..It was miserable. The good news is on the way back on said road we were flying at 25-27 MPH! Still, the support on this ride was miserable. There was one aid station during one 40 mile stretch-not what I would consider "support". There were no bike support vehicle in sight the whole ride. We barely even saw anyone riding the 100, only 2 pretty fast groups that passed us early on... Now on our part, we should have started earlier looking back. The start time was 8:45, we started at 8:30. Nevertheless, when we got to the "finish line" there were only workers putting away the food and drinks and not one race volunteer in site. I know we were late and added on 4 miles to make the full 100 miles but 7:45 for a century with stops is not THAT late! I am very disappointed in this local ride and they heard from me this AM. They could take a few lessons from our Acoma friends to the West.
10. We are heading out to North Carolina next week for Beach to Battleship half IM with several of our NM Outlaw buddies. This should be a nice reprieve from IM training. Logistically, it looks like a bit of a nightmare but I will try and not worry too much about this as this is not really my "A" race. Many of our friends are doing the full IM. Can't wait to cheer them in!
11. I am heavily into "list making" for our trip to Australia. I feel stress about getting ready and if I ponder the lists too much, I get crazy. One thing at a time....I need to remind myself.
12. We leave for Australia one month from today. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! OK, settle down..Once I get there I will be fine, the preparation makes me nuts..
13. I need to stop watching crime solving shows. I think the negative energy is affecting me..
14. It is suppose to snow in ABQ this week. Oh dear..not ready for indoor training!
15. Did I mention I was tired? Time for rest....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Surprise go ahead..

H and I were discussing the word "envy" yesterday. I have a good life, no I have a great life! I do what I want, pretty much when I want to do it and am not responsible for many things..We train, sleep in, eat what we want, travel where we want to. There is not much in my life I want. So who do I envy when life is so wonderful?
This woman:

This woman "decided to do an Ironman" and went about 3 hours below her expected time and qualified for Kona. Her marathon time was her PR for a marathon and could have qualified her for Boston. Are you kidding me? She also felt really strong the last 10k of the IM marathon. Seriously? Oh and she does not have a coach or really a training plan...No way!

I, for once would like to surprise the hell out of myself and just do great things in a race. Just by surprise..Oh my gosh I felt so good, I SMOKED that marathon and just surprised myself by coming in 2 hours below my goal time! Who does that??

I hear of these folks and this is where my envy kicks in. While the rest of us are busting our asses training for triathlon, most of us are lucky to just get a PR. Just barely...I wanna be one of those people who just comes in at 13 hours and Gosh I had no idea I was going that fast!

Probably will never happen. Because I am not a freak of nature and have huge lungs, great resolve, physical denial or whatever it takes to accomplish this..

Good luck to this woman although there is a part of me that wishes she were just mortal like the rest of us!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tour de Acoma and my week..

The week leading up to the century ride yesterday was challenging. I could not run, so Saturday brought a 12 mile run on the schedule. So feeling Ironman training pressure, I decided to walk the whole thing! This was an interesting thing to do. H is injured too, so we did it. We walked 12 miles. Now averaging 15 min miles was not my idea of a fast walk. I am tempted to take a course in race walking just in case, you know..At any rate, I should be able to run on the ankle this week, although may keep the ankle brace on just in case...Amazing how worried I feel about re-injuring it at this point in IM training. I would not be a happy camper if I had to walk the whole marathon. Although I would and could, if I had to at IMWA.

We went to a dinner party Saturday night. At this juncture of my training, I feel like a party pooper as I look at my watch at 9:00 and think wow I should be in bed by now-big training day tomorrow! But alas I did stay up until 10:30, WAY past my bedtime for this event...The alarm went off at an early 5:00 AM. I stumbled out of bed and into the car and we were on the road at 5:45. The website says the Sky City Casino is 45 minutes away. Let me correct that. It is one hour away. We barely made it there, threw our gear on and rushed to pick up our chips. As we wheeled our bikes to the start, the woman said GO! Wow, that was as close as I like to make it to a race, although we were registered as "recreational riders" it still felt like a race. I had thrown on the long sleeved race T-shirt on over my bike jersey, thank goodness. It was freezing at the start. The sun was not up yet at 7:00 AM and everything was COLD! I knew eventually it would warm up but I stayed behind H to block the cold wind which was mild at this point. I could not feel my hands or feet for quite awhile. There were about 50 century riders and we were at the back. I immediatey dropped my sunglasses so stopped and then we were last. Geez, we are with a fast crowd! I thought..Soon we passed a few folks and now my goal was not to be least. It felt like we were in quick sand for the first 15 miles or so. The sun started coming up and we saw the most beautiful table rock mesa formation looming over us. It was magical. We picked up speed as the turrain seemed to flatten. Some of the roads were rough, which made aero position tough at times. The water stops were plentiful and the people there amazingly friendly and encouraging. The only food were oranges and bananas but plenty of water. We had been told to bring our own food, which we did and needed it..I was pleasantly surprised at the attention we did get. I guess in the past, there were not enough water stations and they seemed to have corrected that this year...

At mile 19 we hit a hill. Not the gentle "let's get up this hill". It was a full on, Heartbreak Hill kind of climb.I forgot to look at the grade on my GPS after about 10% but I know at some point I got off my bike and walked. I looked back and everyone behind me was walking. It was a short .5 miles or something until I got back on my bike. That was a little depressing having to walk and all but alas my little tri-bike doesn't like these sort of hills and when I am riding slower than I can walk, then I walk...Back on the bike at the top and there were no big hills to speak of after glad someone told us about this beforehand, otherwise I might have been scared to do the rest. I knew that was it for the Heartbreak Hills..

After about 30 miles, we turned off away from the highway into the headwind, which was picking up by now. This 20 mile section out was  a: getting windier by the minute b: slightly uphill and c: kind of rough road but beautiful. We finally saw the lead group of 4, with a police escort coming back on this stretch. It seeemed to take forever on this part. The wind was getting worse and we were headed straight into it. I felt really strong however and pushed it. Then I noticed something strange. Of all the folks heading back I saw no women. Now I had passed two women and thought, Geez could I be the first woman here? Not my slow ass. BUT maybe there were only 3 of us. I relayed this info to H, who said Great..He was struggling yesterday as he had a new tire on his back wheel which turned out to be like riding in quick sand for him..Then it occured to me I could not place in this race, I had registered as a recreational rider..Oh well. We trudged on. We made it to the turn around, where I saw two other women who said they had seen two women hauling ass back already. After stopping for 15 min or so, we started back. The wind at our backs, we were flying! I passed a woman again, the same one I had passed earlier. It was on! Everytime we stopped at a water station, she passed me..I felt my competitive spirit jamming by now. I felt so good yesterday. This is fairly new..I usually die at around mile 70 of these rides. Not yesterday. Around mile 65 of course the wind shifted and again, we had a headwind. This kind of sucked. Not unusual at all for New Mexico. Acoma Pueblo was still bringing us beautiful scenery, the kind you see on postcards of the Southwest.

Finally we hit the freeway access road and knew we had about 30 more miles. We turned away from the wind again and FLEW down the hill. Aha-we were climbing that last 25 miles afterall! I passed "the woman"again..then she passed me and I did not see her again for awhile. As we got to the last aid station there was lots of cheering-these folks were great! The road was suckingly rough these last few miles. We did another short out and back to get to mile 90. I saw "her" again, walking her bike up a short hill. Here was my chance to catch her! But I could not get to her..Until..I saw her stopped, hunched over her bike.. Good debi said Oh poor thing must have a flat or something, I should help her.. Bad Debi said Oh good I  get to pass her ass and beat her! OK, good Debi won out. I stopped and saw she was doubled over in pain and crying..I asked her if she was OK and she managed to get out that she had a really bad cramp in her quad. I asked her if she needed electrolytes, she did not. I did not have any Ibuprofen but did give her encouragement and told her to knead the cramp. After a few minutes, she said to go on, she would be ok and walk her bike. I took off and did tell the next police officer, which were aplenty at every intersection, that she may need help..I had mixed emotions. I wanted to beat this young lady, but not like this.  I hoped she was OK...H and I carried on and at about mile 95, there was the end! We were done! Short about 5 miles by all accounts but crossed the mat! At one point earlier we had heard there were 15 bikers behind us on the century so we were not last or even close! My Garmin said 6:03, not counting our stops. The tent looked rather empty and some very old barbecue left to eat, which we passed on. We loaded up the car and I saw my young friend riding over the mat and knew she was OK. She had a triathlete jersey on, so I knew she was one of us...

I have no idea what my chip time was or where I finished in the century. I do know it was a great ride. I felt strong, something foreign to me in these things...Well supported, great people, well marked, lots of law enforcement. The only negative is the shorting of the last 5 miles, although I can't say I minded that much!

Ate like a pig last night and today my legs are feeling that century!