Just Keep Swimming

14 Oct 2011 In: fitness, Half-Marathon, running, train, triathlon

I promise a 2011 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta update is coming, but I haven’t uploaded and edited the photos yet, so this time it’s a triathlon training blog entry. Since the Dirty 6 Mud Run where I jammed my knee a few weeks ago, it’s been a challenge to get out there and run.

The first time I ran (the Wednesday after the race), I ran through the knee pain which was clearly not a bright thing to do. That kept me off running again for almost another week and a half with moderate knee pain and clicking in the joint. Finally got back to it this Monday and was pleased to have a good run with a decent pace (for me). Icing the knee was necessary afterward, but the pain wasn’t as severe as it was the last time I had a run workout.

Ran again today, taking three days off in between to mostly just stretch in the evenings. Ran two miles without stopping once, and it felt awesome! (Normally I do the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run method, but I’ve been wanting to build up and stretch out my run-only mileage). The knee’s still bugging me and needs ice, but it felt so good to run.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I really have grown to love running. But this time instead of my typical bullheaded “Just Do It” method of training, I’m forcing myself to take it slow until things get repaired. That means probably only 2 weekday run workouts, of fairly easy pace running. Ice… ice ice ice has become my friend after runs now.

I’ve decided to skip the Oct 30th sprint triathlon in order to work on building more of my fitness base and hoping to run a 2:45 at the PF Chang’s Half-Marathon in January. I think I can do it, but it’s going to depend on how well I can keep my legs uninjured over the next three months.

So to build a base, I’m going to go back to training with a heavy emphasis on swimming and cycling, and take it easy on the running. I’ll add slow, long runs every other weekend.

Meanwhile, it’s “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Goodbye, Steve Jobs

9 Oct 2011 In: Uncategorized
While I was at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this past week, I returned to the hotel one night to catch up on news with my iPad – the first article was regarding the death of Steve Jobs. I immediately tuned the TV to CNN. 

It wasn’t a surprise, as an Apple fan I knew he was gravely ill, but the sudden finality of it all hit me. I found tears welling up in my eyes as I watched the anchor discuss Steve’s life and accomplishments. How is it that I can cry for someone I have never even met?

Maybe it’s that after watching nearly every Apple keynote and new product launch, I’ve grown to look forward to the magic and charisma that Steve Jobs displayed onstage. He was like “Willy Wonka” to many of us, and we eagerly watched on to see what new magical device would be this year’s object of our affection.Steve Jobs was a visionary and a legend, and while I will always be an Apple enthusiast, I will greatly miss his “one more thing” surprises and the passion he exhibited as he gave us the first look at revolutionary tech products. I go to sleep and wake up with an iPhone and an iPad on my nightstand. They mean more to me than mere appliances. They’re a part of my everyday life.

Steve Jobs – Godspeed. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the toys. Thanks for changing the way I both work and play. You will be missed.


Dirty 6 Mud Run – Race Report

28 Sep 2011 In: races, running, triathlon

Life is an adventure — make it an exciting one! In keeping with the spirit of adventure, I entered the “Dirty 6 Mud Run” as a team with my friends from US Airways. We each chose a bright color and wore pigtails, knee high socks, jelly bracelets and black running skirts for the race.

The Dirty 6 Mud Run is a six-mile obstacle challenge held at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler, Arizona. Aside from having watched a YouTube video of the race from the prior year, we didn’t know what to expect besides lots of mud and lots of water. It was an absolute BLAST!

After the Disneyland Half-Marathon, I let myself recover from running for about five days and then tried to get back into my run training again. I ran on a Friday and then again on a Monday. I guess I hadn’t given myself enough proper recovery time because within days I was down with shin splints and ankle tendon issues again. /sigh. Back to the swimming and biking regimen only again.

Again with the trepidation of “what is my ankle going to do to me during this race”. And again with the stubborn, “I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway.” Happily, the ankle didn’t give me trouble at all during the race. Since we ran it as a team — Team Dirty Haboob (go look up haboob in Wikipedia) we all had the same race number. We paced closely together, not going too fast, and enjoyed the race, taking each obstacle one at a time.

The obstacles seemed to be first mud, followed by water. Mud again, then water. Then mud, but NO water. Of course, I chose that obstacle to get mostly covered in mud which proceeded to dry into an ashy gray onto my skin over the next mile of running. But the slip & slide washed it all off. The obstacles were a ton of fun and not overly challenging — just enough for five girls to get out there, have a blast together, and accomplish a great workout and a fun race!

On the final run into the finish line, you run through Rawhide’s Old West main street. There were cowboys dressed up holding bullwhips, hollering at you to keep running as they cracked the whip (quite literally) right next to you. Other cowboys shot their Colt 45’s (shooting blanks of course) right at our feet to give us the inspiration to cross the finish quickly. We LOVED it!

The only downside from the race was that the final mud pit was shallower than the prior ones, and three of us leapt into it expecting it to be deeeper but we came up a bit short. I’m now having to ice my right knee several times a day to keep the swelling down. I tried to run today (9/28) and by the end of my usual flat 2 mile loop I was in quite a bit of pain. So – back to the good ‘ol spin and swim routine again.

Why is it that now that I actually ENJOY running, I’m always too injured to get out there and run? Aah life — you enjoy testing my patience, don’t you?

If you get a chance to run this race next year and it’s in between planned triathlon or road races, definitely give it a shot. I now have newfound appreciation for running in shoes that aren’t filled with mud and water!

My next planned race is the Mesa Sprint Triathlon on October 30th. It’s an easy one – 400yd pool swim, 12.5mi bike, 2mi run. Even if I cut out running for the next few weeks to let my knee heal, I’ll be good to go for that tri. Time to crank up the bike mileage during the next few weeks, though!

We did it! We are now half-marathon finishers in what is probably one of the most fun half-marathon races ever! Of course, this was my first big race so I don’t have much experience yet, but I can’t imagine a half-marathon being more fun than this one.

My last post was about fear. I definitely went into this race with trepidation. The ankle tendon was bugging me, making it hard to put weight on it for stairs and even just walking. I even had a few people tell me I should drop out of the race. I refused to accept that kind of negativity — after having worked 8 months toward a difficult (for me) goal and having invested hundreds in training, race fees, hotel, and Disneyland tickets, I was not about to give up. I had to have the courage to at least try.

Race morning came, and we walked out to the race start – close to the back in “Corral F”. For those non-racers, when you sign up for a race, you estimate what your pace will be and they will assign you to a corral with others running that pace. We had to be in our corrals at 5:15am, making for a nervewracking hour until we actually got to start running (near 6:15am).

The lead-up to the start of the race was exciting. There were big jumbotrons with Mickey and Minnie in tracksuits, a gorgeous national anthem complete with fireworks booming on the lyrics “and the rocket’s red glare”, and an announcer revving up the runners. Nerves built as we watched Corral A (aka the Type A elite runners) started. Then B, C, D, E, and finally, F. I started my GPS and heart rate monitor and off we ran.

My heart rate was sky high in the first few minutes, topping 185bpm — nerves, adrenaline, and yes, fear, all running through me as we started on our pace. I was so pumped up for this race that we didn’t even do any walk intervals until well after the 5K (3.1miles) distance. The first three miles were a run through Disneyland’s backlot, California Adventure theme park and then Disneyland.

It was just sheer heaven. Imagine a mass of people, all running in the same direction, and running through the place of my childhood dreams — Disneyland. Disney cast members all lined up along Main Street, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland eagerly applauding and cheering us on. We even ran right through Sleeping Beauty’s castle – and then back out of the park.

Now it was time to buckle down — the race was REALLY starting. Chuck turned on the interval timer so we could settle into our run/walk pace (2:30 minute run, 1 minute walk). He did a great job at keeping my spirits up, telling funny jokes, making me smile and laugh, and letting me know when my pace was getting too slow. That’s what a real partner does — supports and encourages you to achieve your best.

Things felt pretty good — much to my amazement even the ankle didn’t hurt a single bit. We settled into our intervals and reeled runners in one-by-one, passing them slowly as we ran by. Now that we’ve done a half-marathon, we realized that Corral F was a bit conservative — I felt like I was zeroed in on passing people left and right (not a bad feeling for a turtle-slow runner like myself). Next race, we need to move up to Corral C or D.

Every single mile had a gorgeous Disneyland mile marker sign with the current time/pace and distance completed. Every mile also had some kind of band, cheerleaders, dancers, a little bit of something to see and look forward to. Things started flagging around mile 8, my pace slowing down a bit. But then came the Angels Stadium where we were on the Jumbotron and the announcer was announcing what state (or country) you were from. There were cheerleaders, boy scouts, bands, and crowds in the stands all cheering us on. It made me feel like a rock star, getting to high-five kids as I ran by — it made the leg pain and tightness a little bit more tolerable.

Once out of the stadium around mile 9, things quieted down a bit and I continued to get a little slower. Chuck asked me, “Shari — do you want to finish under three hours, or just finish?” I wasn’t feeling great by then, but I wanted it bad — to finish sub three hours. For you elite runners, you can probably do a half-marathon in less than half that time, but for me, having never run any kind of distance in my entire life, it was a big goal.

I gritted my teeth and picked up the pace a little bit. Around mile 10, we saw Kim who met us at one of the intersections. Kim and Dean are both Ironman triathletes and fantastic runners so they came out to support us on our first half-marathon race. She met us knowing that it gets hard around mile 10 for new runners, and was there to help pace us into the finish line. She was such a welcome sight. Chuck was wonderful, but he was running out of entertaining material by now, and we were both happy to see her smiling face.

We worked a bit harder now, picking up the pace to keep up with Kim. My quads and calves were burning and exhausted. Dean ended up catching up to us around mile 11.5 or so, and ran with us up until close to the end of the race (where he was escorted politely off the course since he didn’t have a race bib). :)

Finally I could see Disneyland again, and knew we were weaving our way toward the finish line near the Disneyland hotel. I was REALLY ready to be done with the race by now. We got close to the finish line, Kim wished us good luck, and we ran together toward the big F-I-N-I-S-H. Chuck and I held hands together as we crossed the finish line, and I found myself choking up a little with tears of joy (and relief, and accomplishment).

We got our medals a little further down past the finish line — HUGE gold Disneyland race medals, and our first half-marathon was now in the books. Our official time (including a little bathroom break in the first 5K part) was about 2:53.

After cleaning up at the hotel and icing our legs down, we headed off to Disneyland and California Adventure to enjoy the rest of our day, albeit a little bit gimpy. You could tell the half-marathon runners — we were the ones wincing stepping off high curbs or hobbling down stairs.

It was worth the months of pain, sweat, summer heat training, injuries, self-doubt and tears. We’re now signed up for the PF Chang’s Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon in December followed by PF Chang’s Arizona Rock & Roll Half in January. Go big or go home!


2 Sep 2011 In: motivational, running

I’m afraid. There, I admitted it. In less than 48 hours I will be running a distance that I have never run before, on an ankle that has been giving me some issues for the past two weeks.

The Disneyland Half-Marathon is this Sunday and my transformation from couch potato to wannabe runner has been an 8 month long journey. Am I fast? No. Am I learning? Yes. I’ve battled injuries, aches, pain, 6 months of plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and now a bum ankle that has me a little concerned. To become an good athlete you need patience — not a trait that I have in spades. But I’m learning what my body can take and what I am capable of.

I’ll get better, faster, stronger. But it isn’t going to be an overnight process.

Here’s a pic of me jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawaii last month. The jump is about 18-20 feet, down into about 8 feet of water. Standing at the top looking down, my feet did NOT want to jump off that rock. My brain was on high alert saying “Do not do this.” Fear.

I had jumped off the rock as a kid and remembered being pretty scared then, but just going for it. And I loved it after I jumped the first time. Looking down into the water 20 years later from the top of that rock, fear threatened to overwhelm me again.

After staring down at the water for what felt like a decade, I finally summoned up enough courage to watch for the incoming swell, crouched like a tiger, and leapt off the rock.

Sometimes you have to do the very thing that scares you to overcome your fear. The feeling of accomplishment when you conquer your fear, whether it’s just jumping off a high rock or completing a half-marathon, is worth it.

Just tell yourself, “I can do this.” Believe in your training plan. Take the fear and put it into a little desk drawer in your mind and close that drawer. Then just leap.

JCC Scottsdale Firecracker Triathlon

27 Jun 2011 In: bike, races, running, triathlon

First triathlon incoming! I’m excited (and nervous) about our first sprint triathlon coming up on July 3rd in Scottsdale. I had originally planned to do my first sprint triathlon in October at the Mesa Tri, but thought, what the heck, I can do this — let’s just sign up early and get the bugs worked out.

Not expecting much for performance on my first sprint tri, I’ll just consider it a baseline to work from and a way to get my “bugs” worked out for transitions and figuring out what I’m doing. I don’t really even know how fast I actually swim in a race. So the plan is to go into it and just have fun, and considering it’s my first triathlon it’ll be a PR (personal record) anyway. :)

I love biking. I love swimming. Running on the other hand, has been a challenge for me lately. I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis, which means I step out of bed and hobble for the first few minutes of every single day. Then if I sit too long at work without getting up or stretching, hobbles again. It’s painful and frustrating because I’ve had to lay off running for awhile. I went back to running last Thursday and just had a terrible time — my cardio is pretty weak, and even at 6am, the heat was nearly unbearable. It just made for an upsetting, demoralizing run.

It also means my training is off track for the Disneyland Half-Marathon. I had a goal of already having done a 13.1 distance by July, and I can’t run more than 5-8 miles before breaking down with bad heel pain. At this point, I’m just going to do what I can to get to ten miles for a long run, and then just try to make the most of it at the Disneyland Half-Marathon — walking quickly if I have to.

Training’s making me stronger, but it’s also a test of my patience. Patience is one of those traits I have yet to develop. Hopefully training over the long term will bring out the traits I’m lacking rather than expose the anger and frustration I experience when things aren’t going so well.
I’ll update the blog with a race report next Monday (July 4th)!

We Have Bike!

15 May 2011 In: bike, triathlon

I’m SO excited — I have a road bike! Well, it’s coming. I bid during the last minute of bidding on eBay for a 2007 Specialized Ruby Comp road bike in my perfect size (51cm). I breathlessly watched the seconds tick down on the auction and cheered when I won the bid. The bike is a super lightweight carbon fiber bike with great quality components and in fantastic condition.

It’s coming from Reno this week and hopefully it’ll be in before the weekend so I can hit the LBS (local bike shop) and get it fitted and put some platform pedals on. I need some platform pedals before braving clipless pedals and shoes — gotta walk before I can fly. :) I’ll review the bike this weekend after my first ride.

We ran four miles today, ran out of time to go any further, but it went okay. I need to stop being so Type A about my pace and time and start focusing on time on feet and mileage. The speed will come. Always easier said than done, of course. Looking forward to adding some bike mileage to the mix soon!

Tri What Now?

14 May 2011 In: fitness, triathlon

In the quest to live my most awesomest life ever, I have now thrown my hat into the triathlon ring. Do I have a bike yet? Nope. Working on it. Swim? Yep, pretty good at it, but it’s been *cough* (many) years since I swam the 2.4 mile open water swim in high school. Run? The answer to that used to be “only when chased by a bear” but now it’s become a regular thing with the Disneyland Half-Marathon looming large in September.

I don’t know what’s up with me these days, but the more time I spend doing something fit, the more it makes me want to get even fitter. After watching the Oceanside Ironman 70.3, the whole triathlon thing has been bouncing around the walls of my brain like a tiny Superball. I don’t know that I’ll ever do an Ironman. I don’t know that I’ll even do a half-Ironman (or 70.3 as they like to refer to it). But those sprint tri’s and Olympic distance tri’s are starting to intrigue me a  little bit.

I think what I like most so far (besides just the athleticism) is that it’s a whole different world than what I know. I love learning new things — no matter what it is, I want to know everything I possibly can about it. I don’t know how to change a bike tire yet, or have any of the (pricey) triathlon suits and gear. But I’m ready to learn.

Until I get a bike (been surfing Craigslist and eBay for a solid entry-level road bike that has minimum of Shimano 105 groupset), there’s running and swimming. I can even do “Aquathons” or “Splash ‘n Dash” races where you swim then run. I’ll get a bike within the next month or two though — the hard part is being as small as I am, most of the bikes are WAY too big for me.

Not giving up any of my other fun things like hot air ballooning, hiking, gaming, late-night coding, or all the other adventures we have. I’m now just adding three more sports into the mix. ;-) The fun part about tri training is I can do much of it over the summer when it’s too hot to go ballooning anyway. I guess early morning wake-up calls are becoming a part of my permanent life!

Find something you want to learn, and just throw your whole heart into it. It’s better than watching life pass you by as you watch “The Biggest Loser” or “American Idol”. Get out there, pick something, even if you don’t know the first thing about it. Hit the library (and the interwebs) and start reading and doing!




9 May 2011 In: motivational

No, this isn’t a post about Charlie Sheen (thank God). But it is a post about winning. Not that all-out uber-aggressive kind of winning either, but small wins. When learning something new or improving a skill you already possess, I’m finding that those tiny little victories are what make me keep going.

Take learning a new programming language, for instance. We all traditionally have learned “Hello World” as our first “words” in any language. Why? It’s simple, easy to understand, and gives you your first win. That win is what gives you the confidence to tell yourself, “Hey, I can do this!” Learning a new technology (or a new sport) can be daunting if you immediately aim for the hardest task out there. Start slow and give yourself LOTS of little wins along the way.

Training for my half-marathon later this year, I didn’t go out and run 13.1 immediately just to see how it felt — if I did, I probably would never run again! The meat of my training consists of small wins: 30 minute training runs three times a week, and one long run every other week. The long runs help you build up that base, but without those little training runs during the week, you’re apt to injure yourself and be off for a few weeks. My little wins during the long run consist of a few gummi worms after I hit the 5 mile mark. It’s just a little bit of sugar to perk me up and keep me moving, and it lifts my spirits a bit. Goofy, I know. :)

Treat yourself to some wins when you’re improving yourself. If that means a scoop of ice cream on a Saturday because you rocked every single workout during the week, GO FOR IT! But make sure you’re also treating yourself to some wins when you train though too (hopefully of the non-caloric variety). This could be picking a playlist of your favorite songs, or saving that fun podcast for your hard workout so you have a bit of distraction. If you’re programming, it could be taking thirty minutes and working on the code YOU want to work on, just for fun.

Capitalize on your victories, no matter how small and insignificant they might seem. Every single one is a confidence builder, and will keep you coming back for more. Go on, keep WINNING!

US Airways Team

6 May 2011 In: career, MVC, technology

I’m looking forward to joining the .com team at US Airways here in another week or so. It’s a dynamic, brilliant-smart group and they’re working on some fun cutting-edge technology. ASP.net MVC 3, Unity Application Block, Entity Framework, HTML5, CSS3, all the cool stuff!

It’s a drive from Glendale, but the exact same distance I was driving to Old Town Scottsdale while I was doing some freelance contracting work, so I’m used to it. Now I’ll be in range of a lot of friends on the Tempe side of town, and I’ll get to commute with Chuck a few times a week to save on gas and mileage.

So many companies are afraid to take the leap into the newer technologies, instead choosing to hobble along on old frameworks and browsers (IE6, anyone)? Getting to work on the newest of the new, while it can be frustrating at times, is equally fun and rewarding — and hard to find. Finding the sandbox you want to play in most (user interface design and front-end work for me) is a gem. Finding great people to build something in the sandbox with you is even better.

About this blog

UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Trail running, hiking, books, gaming, sketching and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Android, iOS) enthusiast.