I started off this year's Thanksgiving celebrations bright and early with the annual Cold Turkey Run in City Creek. The only thing "annual" about this event for me is that I usually help out with taking numbers at the finish line while Albert runs...this year we switched and I had the opportunity to run! It's a fun little 6K course with a steady climb from the Capitol building up into City Creek for maybe the first two miles, then a nice bombing downhill into Memory Grove for the rest of the course. I surprised myself with feeling equally strong on both the uphill and downhill----thanks to all those marathon miles---and finished second place overall for females. It was a good way to sneak in a little last minute "firing of the cylinders" before the marathon next weekend.
Later in the day we went to our friend Neal's house for a deep fried turkey dinner. We all like going to Neal's house because the company is good and he really knows how to make FANTASTIC meat dishes...and he brews his own beer! Neal is kind enough to invite all the "strays" who don't have family nearby over for the Thanksgiving feast. And this year dogs were allowed too, so Sherman got a kick out of hanging out with Jake, Hanza, and Layla. All in all it was a great day.
Now we're just over a week out from the Las Vegas Marathon...down to the nitty gritty task of tapering!
Monday, November 23, 2009
...and it was so LIGHT! The Talich Quartet from the Czech Republic came to Salt Lake to perform this evening, and (lucky me) I have connections from the gym who are board members of the SLC Chamber Music Society. They have asked Albert and me to help sell cds during intermissions this season, in return for tickets and a chance to meet the musicians. We had the honor of driving the cellist back to their hotel after the concert and picking his brain about music, art, and life in eastern Europe...and I got to hold a 1729 Stradivarius violin! I was instructed to hold it just so, with my fingers on one hand touching the chin rest and metal plate at the base of the instrument and my other hand carefully holding the neck so as not to touch the varnish. It was kind of like holding my friend Zuzana's baby for the first time when she was a week old---what the heck do I do with this thing, and what happens if I DROP it?! Pretty cool that such a small, delicate instrument could make such a full and mellow sound. What really struck me after the concert was that while onstage, the instruments seemed so large and the musicians relatively small, when in "real life" up close the instruments were smaller than expected and the musicians were much taller. Funny!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I decided a few weeks back that since I seem to be getting into pretty good race shape, it might be worth my while to sign up for the Amica Championship Triathlon. It was the grand finale in a new series of sprint triathlon races held throughout the year in various cities around the US. The Championship was located at Lake Pleasant, a stunning body of water out in the middle of the desert northwest of Phoenix. It was a small event but really well organized, and the prize purse attracted a solid field of professionals attempting to capitalize on their end-of-season fitness.
It's a bit funny doing a sprint triathlon, especially the week after doing a half-ironman, because I'm so used to an entirely different kind of pacing. Of course it's all relative, as a "sprint" triathlon is usually at least an hour of racing...Usain Bolt would probably NOT consider it a sprint...but for endurance athletes a race that is "just" an hour or so means a red-line effort. The course itself also made for a challenging day, with some tough steady climbing and headwinds on the bike, quad-killing hills on the run, and absolutely NO shade in sight.
I took care to get a good warm-up before the race because I knew it would be a hard effort right from the gun. The swim went by quickly and I got out of the water as the second woman, about 10 seconds back of Alicia Kaye (wife of '08 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker, who also raced). Immediately out of the water we had to negotiate a STEEP boat ramp, maybe 200 meters long, up to the transition area. If the heart rate wasn't up already, it sure was after that little sprint! The first transition went smoothly, a good improvement over the previous weekend. Once on the bike, we had to navigate a climb right away before hanging a left onto the main section of the course. It was a 5K out-and-back stretch that we had to do twice, with a general steady grind uphill on the way out and a gradual downhill on the way back. The downhill was not the sort of "friendly" grade where you can really get going and freewheel it: instead, it was the type of downhill where you had to work hard the whole way, and the headwind made it even more challenging. After that section we headed back towards the transition area, with one little detour on Cottonwood Road "just for fun" (as the race director put it). Then it was a bombing downhill back to the transition area, into the racing flats and off onto the run course. The run started the same way as the bike, up the big hill and out past the guard station. Instead of turning left onto the main road we kept going straight onto a dirt road that had a few good little poppers to run up and over. Once you navigated those hills, it was mostly downhill to the finish line the last half-mile or so. I feel like all my trail running really helped me with this course, as it was very much a "strength" course. I remained in second place the whole way, and was really pleased with my effort and to finish up the abbreviated triathlon season on the podium.
Now I'm focusing primarily on running for the next month as I log my final miles in preparation for the Las Vegas Marathon on December 6th. I'm going to continue swimming regularly as well, because it just feels GOOD! The South Davis Swim Meet is next weekend and I'll hop into a few events there...just for giggles. I'll have a few weeks off after the marathon before gearing up for next year...can't wait!!!