Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year In Review

Yesterday we took the dogs to Skull Valley to visit friends. Arizona scenery always takes my breath away.

I happened upon doggie heaven in an alley in Prescott.

Max and Stanley had no time to waste with me - they were far too busy exploring Clark and Bev's ranch.

Cujo normally takes life a bit slower, but even he was having a good time. Best moment of the day: spotting him at a full gallop chasing a small ride-on tractor.

How would you like this view from your patio? Nearest neighbor: 2 miles away. City lights: none. Stargazing: AMAZING.

Looking back, 2008 was a good year for us. Lots happened in my first year of blogging! The accumulation of years of trialing, Max finished his MACH in March. Stanley finished his American championship in April. I did my first Olympic triathlon at Wildflower in May. Jeff and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary with Muddy Buddy in June. I did my first half-Iron triathlon in July. Stanley finished his Canadian championship in August. I bit the bullet and got myself a coach in September. I signed up for Ironman in November. And I set a new half-marathon PR in December.

With my last workouts of New Years Eve completed, I end the year with:
- 81.75 miles of swimming
- 2,247.5 miles of biking
- 735.4 miles of running
- Including roughly 12 hours of strength training (and assuming my spreadsheet is adding properly), I trained 385 hours in 2008.

2009 brings all sorts of new opportunities, friendships and adventures. I look forward to tackling each step with enthusiasm and hope. I know there will be hard and dark moments, but I also know the strong support network I have will help carry me through and remind me why I do this. If there is a lesson to be learned from the desert I love, it's that with hard work and determination I can be like the little cactus that sticks it out in tough conditions and thrives in the driest and bleakest of places.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On eating, drinking, and growling in your sleep

I wrapped up my first week back at training with nearly 7.5 hours of workouts: 5100 yards of swimming (mostly drills *groan*), ~24.5 miles of biking, ~10 miles of running, and about 1.5 hours of strength training. In conjunction with that, I've been working on getting my eating back on track - taking in the right foods at the right time for fueling and for recovery. After a couple weeks of holiday eating and quite a lot of sugar, this has not been easy. I'm amazed at how hard it is to give up the sugar again once you give in to the cravings. Plus, the added training volume has spiked my appetite and I have to figure out what is real hunger and what is just habit.

We are still in Arizona, so hydration has been a focus as well. On some trips here, I can drink water from sunrise to sunset and still be dehydrated. I've tried to be a bit smarter about it this time, with more electrolytes and non-water beverages, and have been aided by cool humid weather. Of course, not all of these beverages are particularly good choices....

It's been the off-season. Who doesn't love beer? Even Cujo is tempted!

Anyway...I do have to transition back to Properly Hydrated Molly and soon. This means alcohol is reserved for Sunday night margaritas at Mexico Lindo after a hard training weekend. BUT I am all set for next year after Ironman! Jeff and I had dinner the day after Christmas at Saddle Ranch Chop House here in Scottsdale. Fantastic food, excellent service, a fun atmosphere, a mechanical bull (which I can guarantee you I am riding after I finish IM), and - oh, did I mention the GIANT drinks? Here is Jeff at dinner, and just a small bit of my water-pitcher-sized mai tai in the foreground.

The dogs are still enjoying the trip. It's been interesting to watch Stanley take another small leap towards maturity. He's become very eager for a job, for any work I will give him. The dogs and I went to a small DOCNA agility trial this past weekend. Given the limited opportunities for us to trial in this venue, I don't have a strong interest in titling in DOCNA but it was a good chance to run the boys and just have fun. I had both of them entered in the beginners level, at different jump heights. Max did quite well, picking up a 2nd place in Standard, 2nd place in Gamblers and 3rd place in Jumpers. The pleasant surprise was Stanley, who improves with every run we do. He picked up a 2nd place in Gamblers (messy opening - my fault - but very nice gamble) and had an AWESOME Jumpers run (NQ as he knocked a bar) that was actually faster than Max's run on the same course. He even managed 2 very nice rear crosses. Now if only we could figure out the source/cure for his very loud habit of growing and barking in his sleep... Seriously, have I mentioned this before? He will be fast asleep all by himself and suddenly growl, moan and groan, yodel and bark, all while asleep. Good thing he is so cute!

Today it was 68 degrees here in Scottsdale. It's going to be 70 or close every day this week. Tomorrow we are heading to the cold mountains though, to visit Jeff's college friend who he hasn't seen in 10 years. I am packing the camera - hope to have some good pictures of the dogs and scenery!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the muppets and us!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Back On the Horse

Monday marked my return to training. It's still a pretty light schedule at this point. The pain in my body begs to differ. The next couple weeks have a focus on technique, especially in the swim and bike, and strength training. Tuesday's strength training is clearly going to be Wednesday and Thursday's soreness, but it's all going to be good for me in the long run. I ran for the first time since Vegas - 35 minutes - and it felt pretty good, though I was perhaps a bit tired at the end. I also have done something like 3600 yards of swim drills. Two words: Oh. Joy.

Everyone else around here is a lazy bum.

OK, perhaps not Jeff. In fact, today - Christmas Eve - he was STILL doing work emails. I think he needs an explanation of this holiday concept.

I promised Yvonne a photo of our itty bitty tree. The new ornament this year is a shark - isn't that perfect for us? - that I found at Whole Foods the other day.

Stanley wants Santa to know he's been a very good boy. He'd like a frisbee of his very own - so he doesn't have to share with Max - and a lot of beef tendon chews. Hmm, wonder what he's getting tomorrow?

I wanted to start my morning with mimosas while opening presents (my boss sent a very nice bottle of champagne and yes, I'm THAT uncivilized) but I have a 40-minute run on the schedule that needs to be done first. THEN I become Mimosa Woman for the day. It is supposed to rain tonight and into tomorrow, so we are unlikely to do our traditional Christmas day hike in the desert with the dogs. But I will try to take photos wherever we do go - I'm thinking of running them on a large field at the ASU campus - and post an update tomorrow. Until then...

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas: It's ON, Baby!

Settling into the second home always takes a bit of adjustment. Everyone has to find their happy places all over again - the bathtub for Stanley, the new dog beds for Max, the back bedroom and its tile floor for Cujo.

This year, Max is enjoying hanging on the couch during TV time a bit more. Stan can't stand to be left out though.

Max's new happy place is right in Jeff's lap in the recliner. Nevermind that he was trying to read the paper this morning.

Today marked a first for our dogs - Santa Paws! The boys did much better than I'd even expected. They were all three groomed recently and attracted quite a bit of attention! It was very hot in the Petsmart Petshotel where they were doing photos but they took their job seriously (and much more happily than with the antlers!). We went through 3 rounds of photoshoots due to various technical difficulties (they forgot to put a memory card in the camera, the photo printed with one of the dogs cut off, etc). We still ended up with part of a dog cut off but decided the boys had been good enough that we wouldn't subject them to more.

For even more entertainment, a few agility videos from last weekend....

Max's Team Snooker run. We managed to do three 7s and I was really happy with it! We looooooove snooker!

Max's Performance Speed Jumping run. It was 30 degrees and raining outside and he was all hyped up! He beat a number of border collies for time even.

And finally, baby Stanley's first Q! Not too bad for a brainless 21-month-old. I got to learn a lot about where I need to apply more pressure. After the first 3 jumps though, he figured out what we were doing. My favorite part is the very nice rear cross at the end.

Checking In

Nothing says Christmas like pissed off dogs, right?

We left San Jose Thursday evening and drove all night. The highlight was stopping to let the dogs play in heavy snow on the Grapevine. We arrived in Scottsdale at about 9:30am local time, on about an hour's sleep. Suffice it to say, I slept-walked my way through the day. Luckily I didn't have much pulling me at work, because - WOOHOO - my procedure was released!

I got agility videos from last weekend's trial just as we were walking out the door, so I will try to convert and post them later. Also, in the spirit of continued dog humiliation, we are taking the boys to see Santa today! Watch this space for pictures of that insanity.

I also just got my training schedule for the next two weeks. I think my body is ready to finally get to it again - it's hard to believe I haven't run at all since Vegas. The laziness ends this weekend, because starting Monday it's back to work!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is Upon Us

This past weekend might have been the most miserable agility trial experience I have ever had. On Saturday, I was at the trial competing for a grand total of 14 hours. 14 hours! The temperature never crept above 40 degrees, and was in fact down into the 20s for the start and end of the day, and we were outdoors for all of it. I don't think I've possibly been at a slower-running trial in our nearly 5 years of doing this. Let's just say that Openly Hostile Molly might have put in an appearance. I ended the night wearing 3 layers of sweats in bed blasting the heat in my hotel room and shivering for 2 hours.

That said, I was quite pleased with how the boys did. Stanley, in his very first USDAA trial, ran P1 Jumpers (and qualified with a 4th place) and P1 Gamblers (and had a nice opening and got the gamble (!) but knocked the last bar). Max ran in the Performance Versatility Pairs team tournament on Saturday (part of what made for a long day) and ended up 1 spot out of qualifying range (our teammate was eliminated on the relay course and that did us in). He also was 2nd place in Team Snooker. On Sunday it was in the 30s again - and then began to rain just for good measure - so an unusually-hyper Max had a speedy (border-collie-beating) qualifying run in Performance Speed Jumping (Steeplechase).

This has been my week to slowly meander back to some level of activity again. Not in a hurry, by any means. There is more than enough time in the next year for that. Burrowing inside in the warmth feels much better with the cold, freezing rain, and snow (in the mountains above) that we are having. But I started off Monday with an easy spin on the bike (in the garage, as it was pouring out), which helped loosen up my sore/frozen legs from the weekend.

Today, I was in the pool for masters swim at 6am, outdoors in rain with an air temp of 35 degrees. I have lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast, so I know what true winter can be like. I also know what weather wimps us Californians can be. That said, I don't think anyone can argue that 35 degrees and rain is a pleasant way to dash in and out of the pool when you are swimming outdoors. I tried to make the most of it and psyche myself up with the Canada Splish, to help remind me of the weather conditions enjoyed by those less fortunate :)

The good news from today is that I am finally getting intervals! Very slow intervals compared to most of you, but my own intervals to begin with nonetheless.

The bad news is there is only one more day of masters and then the pool shuts down for 2 weeks for the holiday break.

But wait! There is still more good news. The pool shutting down doesn't matter because on Friday Jeff and I leave for the happy place - Arizona - for 2 weeks. I can't wait to get down there, finally set up the Christmas tree, and settle my brain in full vacation mode. It'll also make my next 2 weeks of workouts more fun, being able to do them within sight of next year's race course.

Finally, a brief update on work. Through divine intervention or perhaps just sheer nagging on my part, my procedural revision - the last of my goals for the year that had not been accomplished, the one that was considered unlikely to be finished because of the sheer amount of work and negotiation involved - was signed off by the last approver in Ireland overnight. I have sent off the whole mess of redlined documents and change order and signatures to Document Control, who has an entire week before shutdown to release it. I still want to make sure that officially happens before celebrating, but it does look like...I'm done!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Temperatures in San Jose have been in the 30s at night this week. We may finally be approaching that time of year when I can no longer walk the dogs at 5:30am in flip-flops.


In 8 days, Jeff and I will head down to the Arizona house for Christmas. It can't come soon enough - I'm ready for the mental break from work. I have accomplished all of my (work) goals for 2008 but one. The procedure is revised and ready to go, but there is some question of if I will get the approvals needed to release it in time. In the end it will come down to the degree of pettiness and infighting people choose to exhibit, because the changes themselves are non-controversial.

Gee, and here we thought adults outgrew the sandbox mentality of preschool. 10 years in the working world and I can tell you?

Not so much.

To revisit the Vegas race for a moment...

I just want to send out a big thank-you to all of you. You were in at least 3 countries tracking results and sending congrats. You posted comments on my Facebook page like "Doesn't puking at the finish line just mean you are a real athlete now? Pretty sure it does!" You get me. You really do. So...

Thank you.

Since Vegas I have taken my recovery quite seriously. I have taken coach's suggestions to eat pie especially seriously. The tally for junk food after 4 days is something like this:
  • 2 margaritas
  • 2 mimosas
  • 1 King-Size pack of peanut butter cups
  • 1 personal-sized pumpkin pie
  • 1 spicy Italian pizza
  • 4 pieces of baklava
  • 2 baguettes
  • 6 oz of duck and chicken liver pate
  • 6 mini chocolate donuts
  • 1 hamburger with jalapeno cheese and bacon
  • 1 vanilla shake

And let me tell you the amazing part - my body is SICK of it! It wants its 12 servings of fruits and vegetables back and it wants them NOW. I guess that will be the end of the fun as I've literally made myself queasy with all this garbage eating.

I finally got my 2009 season goals and objectives written up for coach the other day. Today she wrote me back to confirm that yes! my goals are achievable and she detailed how we will make that happen. It's going to be a very exciting year.

Even putting Ironman aside - because I'm sure there will be points in September and October when that feels like a really stupid choice - I'm eager to tackle the year and be even more successful at the sprint and 70.3 (half-Iron) distances.

What's it going to take? No big surprises...I'll be riding a lot (and dragging Jeff and Nigel and my dad and George out for all the long ones), I'll be swimming a LOT (good thing I ordered 2 new Splish suits for motivation), and I'll be running a lot (but this is my strong area).

I'm ready to charge on forward into training.


Maybe after another piece of pie.

I'm only following coach's suggestions, after all. There will be enough time for training in the new year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The race in quick summary: I accomplished my goals of a new PR (by 8 minutes!), breaking 1:50, and pushing myself like never before. I followed the race plan and it worked well. Yay!

The race in graphic detail: I took it easy the first 3 miles, had my first gel, and drank regularly. Kicked up the pace after 3 miles and hovered at target race pace for the next 7. It wasn't easy-peasy but I held the pace without too much trouble...I knew I was pretty far ahead of most of the field as we had thinned out a bit and things weren't crowded. But...I was getting tired. Got to the last 5K and my toe hurt and my legs hurt. But I chose to push through the pain - it was time to learn how to do this! Still I knew my pace was slipping even as I pushed. I saw Jeff in the last 1/4 mile and sprinted on to the finish. I could tell I was queasy as I approached the finish line and looked the nearest volunteer in the eye and told her as I crossed the timing mats. She ushered me over to the side ("let's go right over here where this other nice gentleman is also doing that...") and held my body upright and my hair back while I tossed my cookies (I don't think I thanked her nearly enough for this). I stood up, drank some water and felt fantastic about 2 minutes later!

I stretched, found Jeff, found Andrea who had just finished (and totally rocked her first half with a 1:53!) and then we watched Kirsten finish (she had a new PR by, I think, 9 minutes!) before finding Caryn (another new PR!) and heading back to the hotel to clean up and head for the airport.

I didn't want to feel like I didn't give it my all so puke or not I'm glad I left it all out there today! The results speak for themselves:
Chip Time: 01:47:54
Overall Place: 570 / 11010
Gender Place: 128 / 5706
Division (W30-34) Place: 32 / 1056
Age Grade: 125.7%
Pace: 8:13.8

We're home now, the dogs are thrilled to see us, and I'm off for a round of the Jeff and Molly version of social healing - Mexico Lindo for great food and margaritas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Vegas, Baby*

*There you go, Yvonne!

I appear to have been light on updates this week. I think the week can be summed up by workSharksworkSharksworkworkwork. Which brings us to the weekend.

Jeff and I flew to Vegas on Friday morning. A quick trip to the expo to pick up my bib and then we had lunch (fajitas for me) and checked in at our hotel. Lucky for Jeff, his college roommate Chris and some buddies are in Vegas this weekend for some fun, so it wasn't all boring hydration and foot elevation with the old ball and chain. We had dinner (tempura veggies) with Chris and his Minnesota crew and then the men went off to lose some money at blackjack. Except my studmuffin of a husband, of course, who won $67.

After a good night's rest, I awoke to the feeling that I'd smoked 6 packs of cigarettes in 3 hours. Ah, Vegas. My goal for Saturday was to hide in my room as much as possible in order to breathe clean air where I could. After a short run to shake my legs out a bit and breakfast #1 (banana), I met up with Andrea and we walked to the race expo again. This time I took a little time to shop and came home with 2 new pairs of sunglasses. I had breakfast #2 (berries in a crepe) and then Andrea went off with her friends and I went up to relax. Later, we met with Chris & co at the pool - I had lunch (roast beef sandwich) and read while the men played cribbage.

Now it's naptime and then I'll eat a little more and sit in the room all night watching TV. Jeff may go out with the guys for some fun tonight - I bet I'm asleep before he gets back.

So. Tomorrow. Race day. I'm feeling pretty good (other than the smoke-induced crud in my throat). I think after some more rest, tomorrow is going to be a good day. Some little part of me is beginning to worry that I'll have a meltdown a la January's marathon in Phoenix, but I'm telling that part to shut up. I am healthy, I'm above that and it's time to get it done.

See you on the other side!