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Sunday, September 30, 2007

De tattoo, de tattoo

We did it! Matt and I got tattoos yesterday afternoon. Although mine was smaller, it took a lot longer, because of the color fill-in. It hurt, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Take a look:

Matt's tri-skelion tattoo (from the Isle of Mann's crest)

My m-dot (went with back of shoulder)
My co-workers think I'm going through a mid-life crisis with the new hair and the tattoo. People, I'm only going to be 36 on Saturday, not 75 (apparently, I plan to live longer than the actuarial mortality tables suggest)! : ) It was just time for a change.
If any of you in Cleveland are planning to get a tattoo, I would definitely recommend G+G Tattoos in downtown Willoughby. If you like funny banter the entire tattoo (and someone who will explain what is happening along the way), ask for John and if you'd rather have a quiet artist, ask for Joe. Thankfully, John did mine and he kept me entertained the whole time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Weighing less the easy way

Well, I did it. I donated my hair today and got a new, cool, short hair-do (highlights too). I had planned to go a little shorter, but I think I may need to acquire hair skills first. So, what do you think? Here is the transformation.

This is what I looked like immediately before the hair cut:

My stylist with my donated pony tail:

Here are the after pictures (the back is super short, but I forgot to have her take a picture of that):


Well, I experienced my first DNF on Sunday. I'd like to say that I had a good reason for it, but I really don't. I guess my heart wasn't into it. I do have a ton of excuses though that ran through my head during the bike and talked me into dropping after the bike ended.

Here they are:
1. I almost drowned on the swim - 3 times. It was chaotic at the start and I got hit, punched and kicked. That didn't cause the near drowning though. There was a random wavelet chop in the water and three times on the first lap, water went into my mouth and blocked my airways. Very scary, but I didn't panic too much. It was very disappointing to come out towards the end of the wave, but at least I lived.

2. The bike was not flat or fast. We had to do 3 loops on a course that had a couple hairpin turns, some gravel surface and rolling hills. The hills didn't bother me, but the wind really beat me down. My hoped for 3-hour bike split turned into 3:20 instead (1:02 first loop, 1:04 second loop and 1:14 third loop).

3. I knew I had a sun burn on my back and didn't want it to get worse. I'm getting my tattoo this Saturday and didn't want to do it on sunburned skin. Sure, I could have had volunteers help me reapply sunscreen, but it didn't occur to me until after I quit.

4. My husband was spectating at the race, so I could hang out with him while waiting for my friends to finish. Little did I know that he would leave 30 minutes after I finished. Can't blame him though, because it was a long drive back and he still needed to pack for his trip to Houston. He had dinner waiting for me when I got home - such a great guy!

5. I had a long drive home and wanted to be coherent for it. Normally, Matt and I share the drive home, so the one can get rest while the other is driving and vice versa. Of course, I gave Charlie a ride home, so he could have spelled me. I didn't know at the time I quit though that Charlie has no valid driver's license, so that plan wouldn't have worked. He did keep me company and alert - he also put up with my musical tastes and we had some great conversation. Great getting to know you better Charlie!

6. I was gunning for sub-6 hours and knew I wouldn't make it. Not by a long shot. I would have had to have the run of my absolute lifetime. I know, a finish is great no matter what. I should have kept going.

7. I was dehydrated and salt depleted. It was hot out there people. I lost my salt pills an hour or so into the bike and had only taken one so far. I knew I was in trouble, because I didn't have to pee on the bike. I always have to pee.

8. The run course had no cola. Cola saves me on my half-IM runs. I did fill up two fuel belt bottles with Coke, but accidentally left it at the bike special needs aid station instead of the run.

9. The run course had no shade. Did I mention that it was hot? After I quit, I sweltered in the shade - it was that hot. No clouds in the sky either and the wind on the bike course didn't find its way to the run course. I couldn't stomach the thought of running 13.1 grueling miles.

10. I could support my friends better as a fan. In this respect, I think I did well. I cheered in all of my CTC buddies and ran Charlie, Paula, Sam and Joe in to the finish. There wasn't much of a crowd, so extra support was good.

Yes, I'm a quitter, but I'm at peace with my decision. You can't change the past. I learned a valuable lesson that day - it will take some perfect conditions for me to go sub 6. My half in June offered those conditions, but I didn't know how close to 6 hours I was. We'll see what the future holds.

I'm very proud of everyone who finished this race! Great job! Sam and Joe did their first half-Ironman on Sunday on the road to doing IMLP next year. Joe experienced back and hamstring cramps, GI issues and wasn't breathing well. Sam was kind enough to stay with him for the rest of the run once she caught up to him. I know it was tough to give up her race goals, but she was a good wife to her husband. Watching them finish while each holding a hand of their 2-year-old daughter brought tears to my eyes. I'm very proud of them!

Friday, September 21, 2007

DWD pictures

Based on Kim's response, I must not have described the race very well. It is a 62-mile trail 5-person relay through Hell, Michigan and the surrounding area. Each person has 3 legs which vary in distance from 3-6 miles. At the end of the day, each person goes 11-13 miles. The terrain is at times hilly, muddy, mucky, wet, sandy, poison-ivy ridden, but at all times, very good times! My husband did the 50k ultra distance. Yes, he ran 31 of those crazy miles all at one time!

Here are some pictures to give you the flavor:

Matt, me, Sam B., Carie, Sam J. and Nic at dinner the night before

Carie with one fun hat

Decorating the float

Fun with hats

A sojourn in hell

Matt and me after his 50k achievement!

Sam J. running through the water

Nic showing off her mud and muscles

Sammy B. after her very muddy leg

Us with the devil

Thursday, September 20, 2007

DWD and other random thoughts

I know I've been MIA. Work has been kicking my butt. I've got a temporary lull right now, so I'm going to take advantage of it. The next few months will be interesting though as we transition a new client that I'm fully responsible for making sure the numbers are right and on time. Eek! I may not post frequently, but I'll try to get here at least once a week and I do read your blogs every day (my guilty pleasure), although haven't had much time to comment lately.

Well, Dances with Dirt was a blast as always! We did about the same as we always do. It took us about 12 hours once the "Cheating Bastard" time was added and we ended up 296 (I think) out of 371 teams once the time was adjusted for the all-female handicap.

I got lost again on my first leg (called "Butt Kicker"), but it was only an extra 5 minutes instead of an extra 45 like last year. I only regret not following my instinct and continuing on, but I surrendered to group mentality and ended up in a conga line through the forest that slowed me down considerably. My HR monitor quit working during that leg, so I took it off and just went balls to the wall for the rest of the day.

My 2nd leg (called "Stripper Pole") was the fastest per mile rate of my 3 legs and that is saying something, because it literally had a dirt wall that had to be climbed. Imagine a hill so steep that you can reach out and touch it and dirt so loose that you need the trees to help you get up it. I was afraid to look down once I started up it. I passed a group of 6 guys shortly after this and they all had a look of dismay about getting passed up by a chick. Tee hee! : )

My 3rd leg (called "Vertigo") was my nemesis from the last two years. This year, it was hot, but otherwise uneventful.

Overall, I felt strong the whole day. It was great hanging out with my buddies. We were all disappointed that our shtick (Mardi Gras Mudhounds) wasn't given a spirit award, especially when we saw who did get one. I love the Second Sole group, but seriously, they got an award for wearing matching tie-died shirts. We wore crazy hats, beads, Save Nola shirts, had a car decorated like a float, etc. Nicole and I even helped direct traffic at a dangerous intersection while cheering on the runners loudly. The runners would say "Thanks for coming out", "Thanks for volunteering", and so on, but we would reply "We paid to come out here today". You still got to show the love for your competition, right?

Another bright spot to the day was seeing my hubby do his first 50k. As I was running my first leg, I thought, "Oh honey, I hope you are not regretting getting into this craziness". I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of him. I was exhausted from running 11-12 miles over/under logs, up/down hills, through mud, etc. and can't imagine going 50k on that terrain. Tres impressive!!

The down side of the day was the mosquitoes. Good lord, they were everywhere! We went through an entire bottle of bug spray and I still had mosquito bites all over. I also got a touch of poison ivy again. At least this year I knew what it was. I did reapply the poison ivy block, but must have missed a few spots.

I'll share pictures soon. There are some good ones of the girls in costume and after particularly muddy legs. Sam J. even showed that she was a triathlete by swimming some of the river leg while we cheered her on. Believe it or not, but she actually passed people by doing that. That's my girl!

Speaking of my girl, she and her husband are doing their first half-Ironman this weekend. We are doing the HFP Toyota Challenge at Deer Creek State Park. I'm gunning to break 6 hours, but it is supposed to be hot and we don't start until after 9 AM, so we'll see. Regardless, I will be done with triathlon for the season after this weekend. Next week, I get my hair radically chopped (am donating it) and then get my tattoo next Saturday. Oh, I can't swim for a month? Darn! : )

Finally, I fell down again while running through the woods last night. I'm getting quite clumsy in my old age. I fell hard on my left side, so have some nice bruises/scratches, but they don't seem to be bad enough to slow me up for the race.

Okay, I have to go to Yoga. Hope y'all (been hanging with my Texas pal) are doing well!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Officially an FSA!

I have completed all requirements to become an FSA (some say Fun Sucked Actuary, but actually means Fellow in the Society of Actuaries) as of 15 minutes ago!

This course was definitely the easiest part of my almost 14-year journey. We basically just had to show up to class on-time and stay for each session. Not too difficult, although I did drink my fair share of alcohol last night. : ) I've met some cool people. I've also met a lot of geeks, but hey, you expect that in this profession. They're nice geeks though.

I learned today that there are 18,000 SOA members and a little over 10,000 have the FSA designation. 73% work in the U.S.A. Given the large size of the U.S. population, there aren't many of us as a proportion. It kind of makes this math geek feel special. It certainly was a tough row to hoe and I'm not sure I'd do it all over again, but am ecstatic to be finished finally!

Tonight is our formal reception where we get our certificates from the SOA president. I chatted with the dude at the last session and albeit a bit stiff, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. I wish Matt could be here to share it with me, but we'll celebrate this weekend.

Oh yah, still owe you a DWD report. I will get on it that sooner than later I promise! For now, I need to go run in the Atlanta heat (did I mention drinking last night? this should be fun!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

M-dot thoughts?

Well, I'm in Atlanta now. Dances with Dirt was a blast as usual! The girls and I had a lot of fun, I ran strong on all of my legs, we got eaten alive by mosquitoes and I itch all over, but most of all, my super hubby did his first 50k! More details and pictures of the day to come, but for now, I've got an off topic question.

Where should I put my m-dot tattoo? I had been thinking of putting it in the middle of my back just above my pants line, but today, I started thinking back of shoulder instead (and not because I was told that the spine area was totally painful). I had been hesitant to put it somewhere where it could be seen while wearing formal wear. Then, I realized that I hate strapless dresses and at 35, I probably won't be forced to wear one (a la bridesmaid wear). I can easily hide the tattoo in formal or business dress, but show it off when I want to do so.

Part of my hesitation though is looking like I'm bragging about being an Ironman. I didn't mind talking about my race before it happened, but now that I've done it, I feel weird bringing it up (which is funny, because my friend Suzi and I always said that if we ever had the nerve to do an Ironman, we'd get the damn tattoo on our forehead). It was my personal victory and most people give two shits less. I've been hesitant to wear my finisher's gear also. But, you know what? Fuck that! I earned that gear, not from my one-day experience, but through months of long, hard training.

The best part of getting this tattoo though is doing it with my husband. He already has an m-dot tattoo (note that no one would ever call him a braggart - with 7 Ironman finishes, he certainly could be, but he remains a humble guy), so he's getting something else personal to him. We've decided to get each other the tattoo as our birthday gift to each other and we're doing it on the weekend in-between our 36th birthdays (September 29). I hope I can handle the pain!

So, what do y'all think? Middle of lower back or back of shoulder or somewhere else?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Didn't win the lottery...

Well, I wasn't one of the 4 winners of the MegaMillions jackpot this past Friday night. I had big dreams of buying a house somewhere south and then spending all year training for Ironman triathlons here and there. Oh well, I'm still a lucky gal.

Here is a photo collage frame that my husband made for me from Ironman. Very cool, huh?

After our swim and ride today, I cleaned my Cervelo and Trek bikes. Matt helped me out by removing my aerobars from the Trek and replacing her bar tape. She now looks like a roadie bike for sure, don't you think? I think she was tired of posing as a tri-bike. : )

So, yes, I have to go back to work tomorrow, but it is a short week. I'm off Friday and the girls and I head to Dances with Dirt. DWD baby! This year at the dirt, we also get to see my hubby complete his first ultramarathon. Let the good times roll!