Preliminary Race Schedule 2015

Black Cat 20 miler March 2015
Boston Marathon April 2015
JCC sprint tri May 2015
B2B bike race/ride June 2015

? Musselman July or Lowell Olympic
? challenge Maine olympic in august
sprint or half September

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 3rd Annual 12 Days of Christmas with the Furse Family

On the Twelth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

12 windows broken in my house over the year

11 basketballs in every room in my house

10 crickets that escaped from the lizard cage and I can't catch and they are driving me crazy ( die already)

9 Timeouts typically given to my children every day ( I know, I know, obviously not working- but shit man therapy is expensive)

8 ( now multiply that number by 4 which gives you 32 water bottles gone missing over the year)

7 visits to the ER this year- mostly glue no stitches, x-rays but no broken bones, strep throat, you get the drill.

6 toilets plugged in my house over the year ( don't ask me with what, 4 kids you do the math)

5 ( now you sing the tune) awful teeth my puppy has that probably need to be pulled but I'm not dealing with it because its expensive and I want him to look like he lives in the back country of West Virginia ( no offense to anyone whose from there reading this blog and if so, well howdy doooo)

4 shits my dog has taken in my car since he's been with us this year

3 visits to the schools for my kids ( but they are angels you say- ah ha, yup)

2 guinea pigs ( I mean actually 1, the other one recently died and for some reason this one keeps on living, for goodness sake its almost 6 years of age, come on really? Anyone want a senior citizen guinea pig? I'm not joking)

And finally the big finish:

1 gigantic 3 foot rubber snake put in my toilet by my 9 year old to secretly scare the shit out of me but unbeknown to him his 6 year old brother pooped in my toilet ( diarrhea actually) during the night and I didn't recognize or notice the snake, thus with the toilet over flowing I plunged the snake right out into my septic field. 

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year. Now whose bringing down those friggin lights!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Miles Standish Marathon 11/18/2012, race report

So after an epic injury in August 9 days before ironman Mont Tremblant, bi weekly ART appointments and trips to western massachusetts to see a special physical therapist to work on my limitations and weaknesses I have begun my journey back to health and getting back on my bike. I still haven't gotten on my bike since 9 days before ironman and in just a few short days I'll be riding him again ( all be it easy and probably for short periods, but I'll be riding again.).

Since my injury I was able to slowly get back to running and swimming was never an issue so coach Pat decided to ramp up the swimming for awhile and once I started feeling better to ramp up the running and hope to get in a fall marathon. Based on my current fitness he wanted me to aim for a race mid november so after some researching and chatting via facebook with some other Qt2 teammates they mentioned a local marathon that was being held in Plymouth mass on Novemeber 18th for the first time. There wasn't much mentioned on the website about the race, no course profile at the time, minimal knowledge about the course but none the less I signed up. Over the following few months more information came out and it mentioned the course would be hilly with some descent climbs splattered throughout, some off trail/ dirt/sand, rock for a bit ( and did I mention hills).
Water stations every 2 miles with powerade at miles 5/10/15 and 20, Gel at mile 17.  Sounded ok to me but even better I got to travel less than an hour to a race and pay only $50, couldn't beat that.

Training went well, no real issues to be had with training, I lost about 5lbs in training and I stopped drinking diet coke over the last 2 months. I've kept up with my physical therapy and I continue to get ART to my left hip and lower back twice a week. Based on my training numbers I knew I could possibly have a good race but since I've only run one marathon back in 1999 ( Chicago), in just under 5hrs, I had no real knowledge on how one would feel. Now I have done ironman Lake Placid twice but  I can't say what I did after the bike was anything about running so this was going to be interesting.

I drove down to the race with my new friend John Young who is just an amazing person and a true inspiration when it comes to how to live life to the fullest. He is a challenged athlete who has taken himself from 193lbs a few years ago to a svelte ( i think he said 160) and he is the first short statured person to ever do an olympic/ 70.3 triathlon and I think marathon. Just amazing.  We left real early in the morning so John could start in the early group at 7am. I felt honored to be apart of John's first marathon, it was a special moment in the morning we he set off.

Anyhoo, the morning was no biggie, there was no big hupla, just a group of runners getting off a bus, sitting around on the ground waiting to get started. It was about 500-600 runners and relay runners ready to go by 8am. The timer yelled go at 8am and we were off. Before setting off I did bump into some Qt2 peeps, Jessie, Rich and Russert and we all wished each other luck. Of course none of us knew what lied ahead of us.

Quick and to the point: The course was up and down, up and down, up and down. My calves, quads and hamstrings felt the burn towards the end, it was a brutal course. I wish I could say there was some flat areas but since there wasn't much I won't. The course besides being hard was nice, minimal traffic throughout the majority of the course since it was inside miles standish state park, cranberry bogs, little ponds, trees, volunteers were out and with the really runners we definitely had packets of areas were there were lots of people cheering for us and for such a small marathon that was nice.

If I had one thing negative to say about the race it would be that where we had to park to take the shuttle buses to the race start was about 1/2 mile away from the finish and after completing a marathon in the cold and having to have to walk all the way back to my car really sucked, and I was alone, at times I didn't think I was going to make it my legs hurt so bad. Other than that the race was very nice and if your interested in doing a very hilly, low maintenance marathon, local and cheap this would be a good one.

Anyway, 3:55:40, 8:55 pace via my Garmin, a 53 minute PR from my Chicago marathon in 1999. I am very happy with the performance, I don't have any negative things about how I performed, my nutrition was spot on, heart rate was spot on and I was able to get my HR up the last mile ( not hard to do when your going uphill again.). Anyway, it was great to end the year on a positive note and looking forward to the next season. Thanks coach Pat for believing in me and knowing that I could be a runner, it means a lot.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apologies are hard

Having a child apologize for a wrong can sometimes be a challenge but I feel it is so important to teach these life lessons for our kids. The short of it was:

Last night we were invited to go to a friends house who also has 4 kids to go trick or treating with a group of parents and other kids. All of the kids know each other and are friends and of course the parents are good friends. We started out with a walk/run to the elementary school for pizza and glow sticks and then out to the crazy neighborhood for trick or treating. AFter 1 1/2 hours of glorious fun we went back to my friends house for a light dinner and some candy trading amongst the kids. Everything was going well when I started noticing my 9 yr old getting a little out of control, candy and being so overstimulated for this one is not a good combination, I was counting the minutes that we had left before something would happen. I had to speak to him several times to settle him down he was just so excited.
Anyhoo, a parent came out to talk to me to tell me that he was throwing candy on the lawn and not listening to her, I went out to speak to him and he stopped, however I knew something wasn't right. Low and behold come to find out when we were about to leave the candy that my son was throwing on the lawn happened to be the hostesses sons bag of treats. The little boy had no candy left in his bag and he was really upset. When I approached my son he told me that he didn't realize that it was the boys candy and thought it was a bowl left out for trick or treaters, I said, " did it matter" you were throwing candy that wasn't yours. I had my child go back to the little boy and give him some of his candy, actually two big handfuls and then my daughter graciously gave him two big handfuls as well, I was hoping that we could replenish most of the bag that he lost. The little boy seemed ok with the gesture and we apologized and went home.  For the next hour my son had a major temper tantrum regarding losing his candy, not understanding why he had to give up his hard earned candy that he walked for almost 2 hrs for, it was awful.  He just didn't get it. However, he was exhausted, he was coming down from a major sugar high, it was just time to go to bed.

AFter a very long day for me, 8 hrs in the classroom, and 5hours of halloween trick or treating and tantrums I just needed to go to bed. I didn't want to talk about it and realized that we would discuss it in the morning.  In the morning we discussed it a bit and I said we needed to come up with a plan, that he really needed to understand what he did and why it was important to give the little boy the candy.  After school he said he thought about what we talked about and realized that what he did was wrong. He realized that if he ended up with no candy he would of behaved 1 million times worse then anyone else in that situation and by giving him the candy it was the right thing to do. We both decided that he needed to write him an apology note and bring it to him this evening. After several minutes of standing by the car and being afraid to go to the door, he walked and knocked on the door and asked to speak to the little boy. After apologizing and handing him his own hand written note they both high fived and started to laugh. At that moment he knew he did the right thing. He came to the car excited and said, " Momma, did you see him high five me, he is happy now mommy".

It was a hard lesson for him but I think he understood in the end what he did wrong. I am so proud of him for coming to the realization ( all be much later than I hoped but he still got there) and apologizing in person.  Life lessons are hard, I wouldn't want to be 9 again if you paid me. Anyway, lets hope everyone is happy in the end.

17 days till Marathon

Untitled by donnafurse at Garmin Connect - Details

my runs are getting there. Slow but surely my HR is responding and my times are getting lower. It was a great day to run.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Track Day, OMG so nervous

I always look on my schedule on Sunday to prepare myself for the week and I knew their were two workouts that made me nervous, Tuesdays 1hr 25 minute run with 2 x 15 minute Zone 3 efforts on the road and todays, 5 x 1 mile repeats at the track or road. I haven't had to do much speed until recently and it hards mentally for me to wrap my brain around it. Tuesdays workout was ok, I wasn't completely stoked about my performance on the road, I got my HR to the bottom of Zone 3 but I couldn't get my legs to turnover faster, their was a good headwind and some nice hills/inclines so I know my times were affected by this, still I was hoping the 15 minutes would be faster. I recovered well, ate what I needed and tried to rest, wednesday was just TRX and a short swim to help prepare for today's mile repeats. The last two times over the past two weeks I had to do them it was 4x 1 mile repeats of which I did on the treadmill at a 0% incline. My speeds were good, my heart rate got up to a max of 171 but the averages were low 160's, I was proud of the times I was getting but I'm never too sure how the times on the treadmill would convert if I did them outside or on the track. However, I would be lying if I didn't say the treadmill relaxes me I feel safe and in control of the elements. That being said today was a day I needed to embrace both mentally and physically, I needed to do this outside on the track or on the road and I decided the track.

I drove to Gordon College and sat in my car for awhile, staring at the track, I decided I would run a few errands first and then come back. Eventually I decided to just get it done, suck it up, enjoy the suck as MACCA likes to say, just do it.  I love to run but it humbles me everytime I do it. It likes Yoga to me or pilates, it looks like it should be so easy but it really isn't so I'm always in awe of the people that can do these forms of exercise and do it well, just like running.

Anyhoo, I decided to run my warm up in my Zr pace and man did that suck, it was slow and I was already battling the I'm going to run these repeats 4 minutes faster, ok, sure Donna. But I told myself to snap out of it and just do it. I decided not to look at my watch for the first mile, run by feel and just see what happens. Well 7:02 happened. Man that sucked, ok, lets do this again, 6:57, 6:55, 6:55, 6:57. I did it, I Pr'd my track experience, I've never done mile repeats in the 6's anywhere, I worked for everything I had out there. I know these times are not the quickest but for a 44 year old mother of 4 I was so proud of  myself that it could of been Kona for me today. I don't even know what to say but I was real happy and I want to thank all my friends on facebook who encouraged me to make the track my bitch today and to give it all my heart and I did. Thanks to Pat for telling me I could do it and hopefully the mental block with running will start to fade now. Anyhoo, off to kids activities. Thanks for the support guys.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Busy, Busy times

So life has been busy since the last time I wrote. I ran a half marathon at the end of September which was successful, a PR by about a minute, not huge by any means but still going in the right direction. Recovery from the race was good which hopefully means my fitness is returning after the big taper into my " didn't do ironman".

With regards to my injury things have been going well, I have been receiving ART twice a week ( thank goodness its covered by insurance) and once a month I travel to West Boylston, Mass to see Mike Roberts PT guru to keep me heading in the right direction. As of yesterday things are looking really good and he has advanced me on my exercises except that he has put a kabosh on some of my TRX exercises because of my poor form and that it was probably exacerbating my pelvic instability. He tweaked those exercises and gave me ones that did the same thing but didn't cause issue with my already existing issue. Anyhoo, things look good and hopefully we will be on the bike shortly.

Training for my 2nd outright marathon is much different then when I trained for my first, I think my longest run at that point was 16, which I did on the treadmill at a speed of 5.8mph and I was sore for like a week. I barely broke 5hrs at the Chicago Marathon so heres hoping for a much better finish this time around. The Miles Standish Marathon/Relay is new this year and there isn't a lot of information regarding the course the support, etc.  but its local and convenient, its a measured course and thats all that matters, I don't need the pomp and circumstance. Anyhoo, its going well and I'm hoping to stay injury free for a long time.

Times are crazy now and things have gotten really busy with the kids regarding school, sports and everything else they do, trying to be the mom who is class parent, class volunteer, driver, homework supervisor, food maker, discipline person, etc.. is tiring but I wouldn't have it any other way. Life is busy for everyone and I'm no different then anyone else. I like to bitch but only for the cathartic nature that it allows me to have, I am blessed in so many ways for my great family and friends who support me and my crazy family.

Anyhoo, today's my birthday, not my typical " OMG its my birthday days" but I'm 44 and well life goes on and there is a lot to do today. I was able to get my swim in which was nice and i'm hoping to get a little run in later while the sun is still shining, we'll see. Anyhoo, time for a doctors appointment for my daughter and pick up for the kids and then the sporting activities ensue. See you soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mental demons in the pool

Just a quick post tonight. So my triathlon season ended after I completed an olympic at the end of July, I was hoping to go to IMMT and then do the Pumpkinman sprint but the hip and lower back said no. I am on the mend with some great people and we are working on getting me back on the bike which should be next week. In the meantime I am running and swimming, and swimming, and swimming. The running is good and getting better ( I think, right Pat?). I'm running without pain and unfortunately not doing much speed but at least I can get in a lot of zone 1 work with a little zone 2. I have a 1/2 marathon coming up and then a full in November as long as things stay the path they have been going. I'm excited to run a marathon, I've only run one in my life, Chicago in 1999 in a whopping 4hr 56 minutes. I don't count my ironman marathons since I literaly walked both of them.

The swimming is keeping my aerobic base high since I can't bike, but its so hard when your not doing a triathlon to push hard on the swim. I spend a ton of time during my sets saying to myself, " oh, just go easy, its september, you don't need to push right now, you don't have a race", its brutal, I spend the whole set bitching to myself about why I'm working hard, but then I do it and I'm happy about it in the end. But I tell you, I spend a good 5 minutes in the hot shower before going out to the pool contemplating my swim set and getting nervous. I never do this with my runs or bikes.

 Which brings me to today, the miles of misery, a good swift warm up and then 2 x 1600 with 2 minute recovery in between. The goal is not to go slower on the second and to hold a good pace. I always think I can go faster, or should i say I wish I could go faster than I do. I did a poor job on the first one, landing at the wall in 25 minutes flat. I was like, " what, that sucked, WTF", then I only had 2 minutes to rest and it was time to go again. Now during this last 1600 I had to convince myself to swim hard to hold pace to not give up to believe in myself that it was going to make a difference even though I wasn't doing a triathlon for another few months, it was crazy stupid, I was more mentally exhausted at the end of the set then I was physically. 24:56, awful, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck.

I think if I stop talking to myself when I swim I might swim faster. What the hell Donna, get a grip. My goal is to get in the low 24's on both 1600's we'll see how that goes by the end of the season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guilty on all 4 counts, finally.

Well, its been a long time since this event happened and I haven't been able to talk about it legally until the other day, I stewed for awhile about whether or not to write something about it but felt in the end it was important even if it just helped one person, so here it goes.

Last October we hired a babysitter to help me from 3-7p Mon-Thursday, mainly to help with driving the kids to and from activities and dinner if I'm unable to get home on time with the other kids. We have had a number of sitters over the years and they all have been very successful and wonderful and we have found them through various sources. This time I found her MS I'll call her on sittercity. I didn't have a lot of responses given that the job wasn't even considered part time and the others weren't the best even though for college students it should of been fine, but MS was good, she was energetic ( to a point) eager to work and had a good resume of working with children. Her background check with sitter city was good and her references checked out. My husband and I interviewed her for over 2hrs and the kids met her and liked her.  She was able to start fairly quickly after leaving another job but said the family was aware she was looking for more hours and was actively looking to leave. Needless to say ( I'll cut to the chase) for the 5 weeks MS worked for me she took a total of 8 days off for various reasons, she was incompetent from the day she started and I fired very quickly. I could list all the things she sucked at but it would take forever, she made my life harder and the kids and I didn't really like her. Enough said. 3 days after I fired her I noticed that all of my jewelry was stolen, except for a few things I wear on a daily basis everything was gone.

I filed a police report the next day and within a few days found out indeed it was her that had pawned all of my jewelry. It took several weeks of talking with her and the police and her working with them to have her finally admit her guilt and be arrested. She was arrested on 3 counts of felony larceny and 1 count of obstruction of justice.

After MS left my employment she actually found another job in Peabody with another family as a babysitter through sitter city and stole from that family as well, she was arrested within 2 weeks of employment with that family.

It took over 10 months but finally the court system prevailed and we went to court last Thursday and she pleaded guilty to all 4 counts and was given 3yrs of strict probation and multiple things she needed to abide by ( I won't get into it). We did find out that drugs were an issue and was probably the main reason for her stealing but in her very short time with me I wouldn't of thought that yet on hindsight her behavior was definitely conducive to a drug addict.

Anyhoo, I was a little bummed she didn't get jail time for her crimes given the amount of money she stole from us but because it was her first offense the judge was a bit lenient, however if she broke probation in anyway she would go to jail for a long time. That made me feel better but I still felt that she needed to know how she impacted all of our lives and that I didn't think that her behavior was going to change unless she went to jail. Oh well, that wasn't going to happen.

I left the courthouse last week feeling okay about the results but still pissed off that she didn't go to jail.

Well, only a little time passed when I got a phone call today from the assistant district attorney who said she was arrested today 9/11/12 for shop lifting in Peabody, for a measly pair of $40 earrings. She will be held in jail for 2 weeks until her hearing. Can you believe it, it didn't take her even a week before she committed another crime, if that doesn't scream out " help me" I don't know what does. I hope she goes away to jail for a long time.

What I learned:

1. I thought I did all the background necessary when hiring her. I should of asked for her most recent employer that she was leaving no matter what the circumstances.  Otherwise there was nothing else I could of done to prevent seeing this happen to me.

2. Thank goodness she didn't hurt my kids. If she indeed was doing drugs who knows what could of happened. I'm just grateful nothing happened.

3. I will never go through an online service again. I feel absolute guilt that I couldn't tell the other family what happened to me, I couldn't get her off sitter city in time to prevent something like this from happening. She wasn't convicted yet and if I went to sitter city I could of been slapped with a harassment suit or something worse. It wasn't until after the Peabody incident that we were able to get her off sitter city. She also went through craigslist to get jobs, it was crazy, who patrols these sites. If your a parent you need to do thorough background checks and have multiple references before hiring anyone. At least now she has a criminal record and she is in the system, she hopefully will never be hired again by a family.

Its over now and hopefully we can move on. I have felt completely betrayed and I've felt that I put my children at risk, never again. Momma bear is on the prowl and I will never have anyone watch my children that I don't know personally, if ever.

I will keep everyone posted on the outcomes of her court date in 2 weeks, I'm hoping she gets the maximum from her case with me which is 12 years.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There's a light at the end of the tunnel

So its been awhile since I last blogged, sorry for that, but I've had a lot on my mind since I raced last on July 28th. I was ramping up for IMMT on Aug 19th and my last race before ironman was good, really good for me, I did an Olympic distance race in Lowell, it was a little shorter than a normal race but I did well placed second in my Age Group and my time of 2:12 wasn't shabby, and a PR. After that race it was 1 more week of build and then on to taperville.

Things were going well until about August 10th when I started to notice a small pain in the center of my left glute, I've had this discomfort before and it was related to my performis tightening up and pressing up against my sciatic nerve, it was uncomfortable but bearable, I knew all I had to do is go to my amazing massage person Darcy and get some deep tissue done to work it out. On Monday before ironman I had my appointment and was set to go. Come tuesday and wednesday things were going south, the pain in my performis was getting worse and my SI joint was killing me. I couldn't sit on my bike without getting some significant pain down my hamstring and trying to go aero hurt my left lower back ( i.e., SI joint). When I ran the same thing happened, not as bad as on the bike but enough for me to start panicking and worrying about how I was going to ride for 6hrs and then run a marathon.

Ok, so I've had a really good year and making some good progress in my 3 sports I was hoping to head into IMMT and PR my race. Whether or not that would be good enough for Kona probably not but all I really wanted to do is have a successful race from start to finish and to run the run. The past two iron mans I've done Ive done at IMLP, the first year I had a really bad bike crash at mile 60 and the road rash was so bad I felt my skin was burning the rest of the race, but I finished in 13:40 or something like that, I walked most of the marathon it was just awful. The following year I went back for some redemption and I think I overtrained a bit, I was mentally exhausted and I placed very high expectations of myself ( and very unrealistic expectations) that when I didn't meet them I was crushed when I crossed the finish line and I wasn't having any fun, it sucked, I felt I sucked it was just awful. I said goodbye to ironman for awhile and decided I needed to take a new direction in my training and find the love again.

The fun and love for my sport came back when I joined QT2 just before the fall of 2011. My coach Pat Wheeler put me in the right place, was tremendously supportive and having a team to be there and support you made a huge difference for me both physically and especially mentally. Every race I did starting in 2012 I began to see drastic changes in my times and success in my age group. I wasn't burnt out, I wasn't overtrained and most importantly I really started loving the sport again. Also, I wasn't injured.

So onto this year, life was good, training was going well and I knew if I could keep mentally strong, still enjoyed the process it was going to be a good race for me in Mont Tremblant. My swim is always consistent, my riding good and my running was coming along, my last few key workouts went exactly as planned so I was ready. Like I said, I don't think Kona qualification was going to happen I'm at least realistic but I'm working on the long haul, if not this year maybe next, its always a possibility but you have to get to the starting line for it to be at least in the cards.

So come Thursday I went to my primary care physician she took x-rays of my lumbar/sacral spine and SI joints, there was some inflammation and arthritis in my L4-L5, she gave me pain meds and muscle relaxants. She really didn't want me to race but said we crazy endurance athletes can endure more pain then most so she said she would leave the decision up to me. Well after discussing with Pat and sitting down with my husband we decided that I've trudged through two iron mans before and that certainly wasn't the goal this year. I can finish an ironman, i've done a few I wanted to really race an ironman this year and I was ready, unfortunately the body finally said you need a few weeks to heel. Well, the decision got made and we decided we wouldn't race.

I was sooooooo sad on Thursday when the decision was finally getting made but at the same time my life quickly got put into perspective when I found out my dear friend and my co-captain of our high school swim team Michael committed suicide that day. When my friend David told me the news I was devastated, crushed, confused, I didn't understand how he could do this. I was so sad for his 4 kids, so sad for his mom and dad and brothers and sisters, just so sad all around. We will never really know why Michael felt he needed to do this and why he would do it on his birthday but all in all it put my life quickly into perspective. I could always do another race, I was alive, my family was intact, I guess me missing this race really wasn't that bad after all.

So after making this decision we headed up to Vermont for a little vacation and some mental and physical healing, I was able to swim and do some small exercises. I did run a little and since not riding my bike the pain was going away. When we returned to Manchester Pat suggested I see Mike Roberts at Central Mass PT in West Boylston Mass. When I visited Mike he was quite surprised that I hadn't fallen apart sooner. I wish I could completely articulate all the things Mike said but in quick summary I:
1. My left hip doesn't externally rotate very well
2. My pelvis I believe is anteverted
3. I have a very squishy Left SI joint
4. I don't fire my left glute much at all especially when I'm trying to engage it in both running and biking
5. I fire both my hamstring and my SI joint before my glute which has made both of them extremely made at me and thus the situation I'm in now.

What to do:
1. Trigger point exercises/self massage to work on hip external rotators
2. foam roller to work on groin and inner thigh
3. pelvic stability, setbacks with roller and setbacks with external rotation
4. pelvic stability and core exercises with both clam shell exercises and working on extensions with my pelvic bones on pillows .
5. A.R.T. twice a week for a few weeks.- have them work on hips/hip flexors, psoas release, hamstrings
6. f/u with Mike in 2 weeks for level 2 exercises

So our initial plan to maybe try to do Arizona or possibly Florida in November was kaboshed since Pat and I wanted to really make sure we heal up and get stronger in the areas that need to be stronger. So we decided our plan of attack will most likely be if everything works well and my healing and physical therapy go as planned:

Continue to swim, build up my run volume again, work on Mike's exercises and strengthen my core and left side and plan to run the Plymouth, Mass marathon on Novembre 18th, 2012. We will then recover and then plan for 2013 with most likely going to QT2 camp in Arizona in April and racing Ironman Texas in May. I don't know if I can squeeze in a 1/2 ironman ( for ex: texas 70.3) again given to the two travel times if I do both so we'll have to really tweak this when my annual plan is made. I'll probably front load my 2013 season and then do some olympics in the summer and then rebuild to do Pumpkinman half in September and who know's maybe Kona in October.

Thanks to all my friends who supported me and family over the last few weeks and thanks to my coach Pat Wheeler and QT2 for making me better and encouraging me every step of the way. I'm looking forward to a great race in november and hoping to continue my progress and dreams of one day making it to the big Island in 2013.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Its tough sometimes

So, its summer, kids are home, life is hectic but good, kids are doing a few camps but otherwise they are home. We are doing lots of swimming and playing outside and hanging with the dog. I'm trying to coordinate my remaining training for Mont Tremblant with the kids around and its getting tougher. Some days I have to ride my bike on a trainer while my kids are playing next to me or run on the treadmill late at night just to finish because we had 7hrs of swim meets to attend to and basketball games. I'm not really complaining, I have a great life, however I'm not quite sure scheduling an ironman in the summer is or was such a great idea, its so dam hard logistically trying to figure it all out, how I can get it all in. For example:

Two weeks ago I was starting my two week build and I had a 5hr bike f/b a 50 min T run scheduled, I got my cousin to come over early so I can leave on my bike ride so I could be home in time to pick up my kids from camp, which I scheduled for them to get out at 1:30p so we could hang for the rest of the day. Well, who knew that two flats later and no way of getting home because I ran out of tubes and C02 was going to happen. I called my awesome cousin who drove from Salem mass to retrieve me in Groveland, Mass, it took 1hr 15 min to get me and another 30+ minutes to get home, so only 2 1/2 hrs of biking got in because I had to go get my kids, I needed to fix my wheel and we had lots of basketball to do in the afternoon.  See, I have no flexibility in my schedule, if the ride didn't get in from x time in the morning that was it, I tried to think I could hop my trainer later and treadmill but I'm so tired by 8p with the kids I just want to go to bed.

Example #2: Swim meets, 7hrs a day of regional swim meets at MIT for my kids, how does one get in training when you need to be at an indoor pool all day, well, you get up at 4am, you run or do an early morning swim in the ocean crossing the heavenly gods that nothing happens to you in the ocean alone because its too dam early for the lifeguards to be out and its prime shark feeding time ( Well, thats a bit exaggerated, however early morning is known for fish feeding), anyhoo, its just not optimal anymore for me to get up that early, it takes forever for me to get my mojo on and by the time the workout is over I'm sure if I was able to perform it at a reasonable hour I might of actually hit my numbers. However, you do it because you love it, you do it because you have a goal in mind, you do it because, well, it makes you feel good, it makes me feel good.

Example #3: Today, I had a 40min swim, 1hr 30 min bike, 45 min run and 15 min of TRX to do, I squeezed in my swim early this morning then ran off and did errands and cleaned the house came back and picked up two kids at noon. Fed them lunch, cleaned up and it was time to pick up child #3. Ok, trying to figure out how the rest was going to get done I waited for my awesome cousin to come over and she was going to watch the 4 while I went downstairs to my girlie cave to get some workouts in ( I don't usually leave anyone in charge of my 4 kids so working out in the house is the only option). So during said workouts you have kids screaming, coming down to yell and fight around the bike and treadmill, one needs to stop treadmill workout to make sure kid in time out is staying in timeout, etc... You get the picture, chaos ensues, oh, and dog pooping in front of said treadmill during session not so great. I guess the kids forgot to take him out and he ( the dog) was pissed at me too.

Well, ironman is almost here and I feel like I did the best I could with training, I think I was able to get in about 97% of all my training, however missing some of the workouts always freaks me out and I get real nervous about that, but I'm healthy, I feel good and getting to ironman healthy is half the battle. I will be traveling with my kids and husband to this ironman ( ought to be interesting), so we'll see how it goes. I have one more race this weekend to see how things are going and I will continue the taper until August 19th. From now on when I choose my " A" races they will be scheduled in October and November and March through the end of June, its just too hard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HITs Hunter Mountain 1/2 ironman RR and other little things

So, I'm going to start my race report from wednesday on.  I brought my bike into Fitwerx to change over my cassette over to an 11x28 and to get it race ready, on Thursday Mike called and told me they found a hole in the rear fork of the frame. Marty didn't want to make the call he felt so bad considering what I went through 4 years ago with my GURU ( it flew off the back of my car and smashed into a million pieces right before Providence 70.3). I was almost in tears, I knew I had to race in 4 days, what was I going to do. Marty knew I was going to be upset, Fitwerx has always gone out of their way for their customers and Marty was desperately trying to figure out how we could get me a bike for my race, even if it was borrowing one from the floor of the store. I told them I would call my good friend Nan who was my coach 4 years ago when I had my first bike fiasco and I borrowed her Cervelo P1, aluminum bike, 9 speed. I had a great bike ride on that bike in providence 4 years ago, I only rode it that one time and I really liked the bike. Riding her bike made me change my bike choice when it came to buying a new one when my guru was destroyed. Nan has become a great friend and she didn't even hesitate to let me borrow her bike.
I called Marty on Friday morning and told them I would bring her bike by so that Dean could try to use my fitting numbers to her bike, they did the best they could, she has non-adjustable aero bars, she needed new cables and housings, her shifters were off but they didnt have any 9 speed shifters in the store so I just needed to finagle them on the course, and otherwise the bike was in fair condition. I was concerned that she didn't have a compact on her bike, given the elevation profile and difficulty of the course I knew my legs would be crying but it was what it was.  I picked up the bike friday night and I was good to go.

Saturday morning we went to 3 of my childrens piano recitals which were awesome and then I headed straight home with my mom and we packed up the car. Unfotunately, ( incident #2) I backed into my mother-in laws car and dented her right front fender, that sucked, what was next, I needed #3 to happen because things happen in 3's don't they?

Anyhoo, off we went to Hunter, NY, my mom and me. The drive was uneventful, it took about 4 hours in total to get there. We had to get to the campground to register by 4 and to be at the athlete information session. All I can say is that as we headed into the campground all I noticed was how drastically hilly the surrounding town was as well as the street we took to get into the park, I was starting to get a bit nervous.

Registration was easy, I found out only 140 people registered for the 1/2 ironman and 27 for the ironman. Wow, that was small. All 167 of us would start at the same time in the morning in one wave. The lake looked beautiful, the temp was perfect, 64 degrees and the air temperature was predicted to be low 60's in the morning building to 80 by the afternoon with good cloud cover, so not so bad.

I had a lousy meal at night ( awful lasagna) however I knew I had eaten very well over the last week and had a great breakfast that I wasn't too concerned about my carb intake. My overall hydration was good so all I needed was a good night sleep.  Well, my mother who snores terribly a/w the party upstairs kept me up for a bit during the night but otherwise I slept fine. My nerves were ok, I'm not nervous anymore about completing 1/2 ironmans or the amount of people in the race or whose in the race I was concerned about the course, it looked so hilly that I was just concerned about my performance. I spoke to Pat before heading to bed and he gave me a great pep talk, he knew I had trained well and gave me all my zones and watts and paces, I held my breath with some of them but knew I needed to believe in them. My concern again was the course and whether I could do these numbers with this course I wasn't so sure.

Swim: Ok, beautiful lake, very shallow, course was counter clockwise, water start, shallow with lots of big, sharp rocks, you really needed to be careful or you would cut yourself. I started on the front with all the guys and 1 women, I don't really care anymore who I start with I just don't want to be in the back. The swim to me seemed a bit long, not by much but maybe 200yds or so maybe a little more. There wasn't a ton of people to swim with, I was in the front group but there were a few who got away from me and then I was alone. I came out of the water in 31:09 on my watch and I crossed the timing mat at 32 ( long run up hill from beach to t1).

Swim: 31:09 my watch, 32:00 HITS, 2nd female, 12th swimmer overall

T1- quick, uneventful, 1:20 something

Bike: What to say about the bike, don't really know but it was probably the most challenging 1/2 ironman bike i've done. You had to bike immediately up hill 3-6% inclince for 1.5 miles then head into a downhill then immediately up a quick steep hill ( 9%) then down, etc.. the first half of the bike there were a lot of rollers, 1 really long climb that I think probably was the killer on the course, some fair descents with some flats that you could get into aero for awhile but not a ton. The course was 1 loop but the back half of the course was a ton of climbing, riding at 5mph in my lowest gear forever was just demoralizing, seeing people walking up the hills with their bikes was so hard to see, no woman passed me and only 4 men passed me and a lot commented on my climbing skills, I was just trying to survive. I was trying not to peak my watts out over 250 on the hills but it was really hard to do that and everytime I saw numbers higher than that I kept hearing Pat in my head saying, " that's just more time off your bike, keep the numbers, keep the watts", it was a mind game. My nutrition was good, I definitely burped quite a bit at the beginning, I probably took in some lake water and I needed to digest and get it situated. I drank all my 3 bottles and tried to get aid on the course but they didn't have heed when I needed it and I got a water bottle full of water. That was fine, so I took 2 sodium tablets just in case.

I did stop for about 3 minutes to help a poor guy with a flat, I didn't change it for him but I got my bag out and gave him my tube and an extra Co2 cartridge. I kept thinking of Karma and that this wasn't my job and I would hope someone would stop for me if I needed it. I think it was the right thing, in the end I never would of caught the lead women so it made no difference, I would do it all over again.

The bike ended and I was still 2nd women overall, I was so psyched but nervous because I had seen the run course and knew it was going to be super hard. It was time to dig deep.

Bike: 3:15, 17.1mph, I haven't adjusted my watts on my powertap yet, 3rd fastest female bike split

T2- 1:24

Run: The run, what can I say, well, immediately my legs felt good, my turnover, my HR, no issues, I still new we had tons of hills and lots of challenges but it was starting well. We immediately had a 1+ mile climb to start getting out of the park, then we had a great descent which I love ( 2 miles) I was clocking a 7:50 mile at this point, feeling good, men commenting on how strong I looked, it was very encouraging, I kept on running. Then we hit the next steep hill and then onto Rte 23A. It was 2 1/2 miles from there to the turn around and all rollers, up and down, up and down, all I knew was that when I hit the turnaround at 6.65 miles you looked back and saw all the hills you had to climb back and then you knew you had a 4+ mile climb of significant grades back into the campground left to go, it was so hard to imagine, you knew this was going to be no PR day, you just stopped looking at your watch, you kept your HR up, kept up with the hydration and nutrition, you kept your cadence up, you just kept running. As I was climbing back into the campground I never once said I wanted it to be over because I was dead, I just wanted it to be over because I was going so slow, it was so hard to see 10minute miles, 9 1/2 min miles, 11 min miles, etc... but the incline was just stupid, it was survival.

2:04 run time: 9:23 pace

2nd overall Female.

AFter the race I talked with a lot of the athletes there that had lots of experience at other races, ( i.e., St. Croix, Lake Placid, Rev Quassy, Mooseman, Timberman, St. George, Zufingen, Triple T), some said it was the hardest half they ever did and some ranked it as the hardest run they have ever done after a tough bike. Another QT2 athlete that was there said it was probably a 20-30 minute difference with this course over average difficulty courses, that was comforting seeing as he placed second overall and was significantly talented.

I've had some difficulty after this race because I'm so concerned about the IMMT course, I no more wanted to or would of wanted to do 2 loops of the HITS course, i would of cried, I'm hoping that IMMT course is easier both for me physically and mentally, I had to go to places in my mind that I never did before and I still struggled.  I believe I performed to the best of my ability on this day and could of gone no faster, I just hope I can go faster on the day that matters in August.

I would recommend HITS Hunter, Mountain half if you want a significant challenge, it you want to get an amazing workout regarding strength and power before heading up to lake placid or any other hilly course. I can't imagine what that course would be like if it was extremely hot, I just can't imagine. But the staff and volunteers were great, the scenery of the Catskills is amazing with the waterfalls and greenery, so I guess I would consider doing it again if I had friends with me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Endless Poop in "Cavalcade of Laffs 2" - The Meth Minute 39

Racing, kids and dog poop

So this weekend I am racing the HITS Hunter Mountain 1/2 ironman on Sunday. HITs is a new series brought to the triathlon world by Dave Scott. HITS is trying to attract the whole family and the whole tri community by doing a spring, olympic, half and a full ironman all on the same weekend. Seeing as I needed to find a 1/2 ironman on the 10th of June, this was the only one that was reasonable. I am excited about racing, I feel that I've done the work ( didn't lose enough weight though), and just feel like getting into the mix with the other people. The only thing that sort of distracts me for the weekend is that 3 of my kids made it to the Super Bowl for flag football and my 6yr old is playing in the semi-finals with the possibility of making it to the Super Bowl on sunday and I am missing it. I see about 99.9% of my kids practices and games and I just hate to miss any of them, but unfortunately I will be away for them this sunday and I'm a bit sad about that. Here's hoping that they have great success without me there and that my husband doesn't pull his hair out before I get home.

On another note my poor 6 month old berner is having severe diarrhea, not only is he sitting in pools of crap in his crate he shit in my car with a bunch of kids in it the other day. UGGGGGGG.  I was so desperate to get it cleaned that I dropped all the kids off at the birthday party and drove directly to a car wash and used the vacuum cleaner to suck it up. I used one of my kids t-shirts initially to scoop up the liquid that was starting to settle in the carpet but needed to suck the rest out of my kids shoes and whatever else was on the floor, back of the seats, etc..... You get my drift, it was bad.  Anyhoo, nobody saw me use the vacuum, hopefully I want get in trouble and Karma won't come after me, I've had enough of driving with my head out the window and smelling my new car smelling tree deodorizer, they are so gross.  Anyway, its getting detailed tomorrow and hopefully they can get the smell out.

Well as you can see my life as you know it continues to be a Seinfeld episode, 1 story after another, what will it be tomorrow?

A. Leopard Gecko found in toilet
B. Guinea pig hung by the wiring that keeps her water bottle hung in the cage
C. Crickets roaming free in the house because 6yr old felt they needed to be set free from the lizard cage
D. More diarrhea in crate
E. falling in the toilet because kids/husband didn't put seat down
F. Cat found in refrigerator ( don't ask)

I could go on but I may need to start writing some screenplays and sending them to Jerry Seinfeld.

Have a good one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

JCC Race Report and random pictures

So, my goodness its been awhile since I last blogged, life can get so crazy and sometimes I'm not so sure people want to here my daily humdrumming. Anyhoo, I recently raced a sprint triathlon in Marblehead, Mass called the JCC sprint Tri, I haven't raced this course for over 4 years because its been getting increasingly hard to get into. Over the last few years I've raced Sudbury instead but this year this race fit my schedule better then Sudbury and I got off the wait list. My training goal is Ironman in August so there hasn't been any speed work or track work or any real zone 2 or 3 efforts so it was going to be what it was going to be on Sunday. I felt good, I felt confident, I really wasn't nervous I was just excited to finally race after 6 weeks and that the weather was going to be nice. I found out I was ranked #13 in the pool swim, it was crazy that I was ranked that high, I'm normally up there but not that high and I knew that I was the only female in the top 13 that wasn't a high school or middle school swimmer so my chances of leading on the bike and run were high, so a little pressure was there. The trouble with a pool swim triathlon is that someone who starts 5 minutes or 30 minutes behind you can still win the race, you could even finish first coming across the finish line and not be the winner so its a bit frustrating. Anyhoo, the swim went fine, I did end up passing #7 who clearly didn't put the correct time in, I definitely didn't all out sprint my swim, I felt really great coming out of the water, I probably averaged 1:24's and should of averaged 1:20's but the fact that I wasn't breathing that hard was a good thing and I knew I was going into the bike in a better position than I have had in the past. To get to the timing mat you have to get out of the pool climb two sets of stairs go through the entry hallway, out the door and outside, in total it could take anywhere from 20-45 seconds depending, I got to my bike with the bike shoes clipped in, my T time was quick because I decided to mount my bike this way. The place to mount the bike was ridiculous, you had to run down the hill out onto the street and then go about 30 yards on the street before you could mount, again, the time it takes to do this is crazy, so when you look at times you need to understand that all of our transtion times are in our individual splits so they are not accurate. The bike went by well, I was the leading woman, only 2 men passed me and I past most of the people in front of me except for about 5 people on the course. I believe I averaged somewhere around 21.4mph for the hilly ride and I was happy with that. Again, I feel looking back that I could of pushed harder but for some reason I was riding conservatively. I was able to come into the crazy long transtion with my feet out of my shoes and ready to dismount, no issues here so my transition was fairely quick. I felt good coming off the bike and ran the best I could on the day, it probably was around 7:30's but in hindsight if I had another women there or someone pushing me to go faster I think I could of. At mile 3 I was finally passed by the eventual winner, Kristin Lamb, man it would of been nice to cross the finish line as the first woman ( I've never done that before) knowing full well I wasn't going to win but crossing first would of been cool. But we had .5 miles to go. She looked great and strong and I knew she was having a great race. I finished well and I actually got 4th overall and 2nd in my age group. I actually placed 16th out of 200 male/female.

 My overall time of 1:02 was 5 minutes + faster than the last time I raced this course so I was happy with that but I do have to say I would like to go back next year and try to get close to 1 hour or even break 1hr if that is possible. Congratulations to all my friends who raced and who did well. Congrats to Kevin Reen the male overall winner, Vinny and Marty Miserendino who just crushed it ( after feasting at Maggiano's on friday night) and to my friends Christine, keri, meaghan and my new friend Kristin.

 I am currently training for my next 1/2 ironman in Hunter mountain, NY on June 10th, so long rides and runs are in the plan along with some hard pacing swims, so gooood on a lot of levels. After that I have an olympic in July and then IMMT in August. Today was a great day, my 2nd oldest turned 9 today, my little blondie I like to call him. My little Bill Murray everyone else likes to call him. He got his Leopard Gecko, his metal detector and a blue jay painting, he is a happy boy. He also got his pizza for dinner, what more can a boy want. I can't believe he's 9 but he is just the best and I love every minute of his existence.

 Anyhoo, I hope you like the random pictures, some are of the view of my house, Alex's birthday present and coachie stuck in the dog cage.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vacation is over, tra la la la la

Its great to spend time with my kids but its also nice to be able to have time to yourself to do the things you need to do around the house, or other errands or workouts or whatever. Vacation time is always a challenge because my kids need to do lots of stuff, they can entertain themselves for short periods of time but otherwise are alway asking me for things to do for them or with them, they will constantly chat with me every 2 minutes until I drop what I'm doing and focus on them. I know its a great problem to have, healthy children who love you and want to spend time with you but I honestly feel that our kids today spend way too much time out of school, but thats a whole other blog post.

Anyway, I'm glad life will return back to "normal" tomorrow with all 4 kids back to school, I have lots of meetings this week, workouts, and house stuff to get done, I have a meet and greet and my house and lots of kids sports, it will be crazy busy but fun at the same time. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Finishing my race schedule

Ok, so I finally was able to finish my race schedule to my coaches specific dates up until IM Mont Tremblant. The hardest was finding a 1/2 ironman that had a similar profile as mont tremblant on the specific date that coachie wanted me to find. Well, on June 10th in the Catskills on a very hard and hilly bike and run I found the, HITS series Hunter Mountain 1/2 ironman. Whats also cool is that they have multiple races throughout the weekend including a sprint, olympic, aqua bike, 1/2 ironman and a full ironman. I hadn't heard of the HITs series and have done some research and right now it doesn't look like there is a ton of participation yet in this new series and some people on slow twitch say this series might not last long but we'll see, Dave Scott is one of the race organizers so hopefully it will all work out. Anyway, its tough to find specific race distances on specific dates and add to that trying to coordinate with my husband and kids whats good for the family and not racing too much, etc... I also know that I need to find races a bit closer then Texas and the other races that were available that weekend were Kansas 70.3 and some other race far away. Well, financially I don't want to do that so Hunter Mountain here I come. It would of been cool to try to do Mooseman or Rev3 Quassy but they were the weekend before and that didn't fit. Good lord.

Anyhoo, 1 sprint, 1 half and 1 olympic distance race before Ironman. It seems a bit surreal about doing ironman again this year its been 2 years this July since Lake Placid, I am hoping for much better results, realistic results but better results. I think my mental framework is much better so my confidence in myself is better but at the end of the day its all about how to pace the bike and run the run, I just want to be able to run the run and feel good at the end ( well, as good as you can after completing 140.6 miles) I'm not looking for a Kona spot, I'm not expecting to place top 5 in my age group, what my goals are:

1. Execute my race plan, paces,watts, nutrition, mental
2. Run my own race, don't be intimidated by others and don't race someone else's race
3. Be proud of yourself for being able to do this
4. If able, get that HR up the last 6 miles and kick some ass.

Those are my goals right now, I may have some slight changes before the actual race but I think that sounds about right. We are 4 months out from Ironman and starting tomorrow after this recovery week starts my build to August. So, I would love to have friends join me on some rides and runs during the week, I definitely need some hilly rides and runs so bring it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Texas 70.3 RR, motivation and some changes

Its the first time I've done an early 70.3 before so I was a bit nervous since most of my rides have been indoors, I didn't question whether I would finish my training has been solid a/w my numbers it was just I haven't raced since September and I felt a bit rusty. I flew out on Friday to Houston and got in at 11:30am and arrived in Galveston around 1pm, very non eventful. It was great to meet up with my friends later that evening and my roommate Nancy Thompson ( aka Nanamil). It was actually weird having a day and half before I raced, it actually felt too long, I usually arrive the day before, race the next and leave that same day. Anyhoo, the expo was neat, registration was simple because I was early, the only thing I took note of was the humidity and heat.

Saturday morning was great, big breakfast with all the Qt2 peeps at Denny's, I've never eaten that much and seeing what PW can put down in one sitting just astonished me, holy crap. It was so nice to be part of a team and to meet up with these guys before I raced, the nerves were just not there as they would be because I felt so comfortable and happy that I had friends with me the entire time. The day went by without a hitch except at bike check in I realized my power tap wasn't reading my watts, I was able to get it to work for everything else but not watts. I am getting extremely frustrated with all the battery changes I have to do in my hubs and with the unit head, I am seriously considering switching to either an SRM or something else, whatever is less cumbersome and more reliable and doesn't cost me loads of money. Anyhoo, I knew I had to race with HR guidelines anyway so I just shrugged it off, oh well.

I slept pretty well that night, much better than normal, Nan and I got up around 5am got ourselves ready and headed to the race site. Unfortunately we had to park a gazillion miles away but whatever it was dark out and not too hot yet. I felt so bad for Charlie he was already sweating with beads of it dropping from his nose, I was hoping he wasn't going to have a long day.
We got there and went to transition, man it was pack, 2900 people, it was crazy, I've 10 of these and never this big. Transition was huge and were I was locate really sucked for bike in and out but swim in and run out were fine. It was an easy set up, making friends with the girls around me, I didn't fret too much, I've done the work, it was going to what it was this day. I had 1 hr and 20 minutes from the pro start to hang out ( which really sucked) I was in wave 18 out of 20, really? This is getting out of control. Anyway, I waited for awhile at the swim finish so I could see the first pro's coming out of the water ( especially Lance- which was so cool, he was right there in the first pack) and then I headed over to the swim start.

SWIM: jump off pier into water, in water start, temp around 71- felt warmer, against current for about 1/2 mile and some choppiness in the middle, a bit long I feel. I usually plop myself right in the front, making sure I gauge where the buoys are and the other girls, it was a fine swim, nothing spectacular, starting in wave 18 made for a ton of traffic throughout the entire swim, people just dead weight in the water basically stopped, it was crazy, I think I went through at least 3 waves of caps, I felt in control, could of pushed harder I don't know why, it was the most relaxed 1.2mile swim I've done, no issues with breathing, legs felt good, I was coasting. I got out and saw 32:20 on my watch- SUCK, SUCK, SUCK, but oh well, wave 18, first swim of the season, no legs or bodies to help me draft, it was fine.

T1- fine a bit long to get out so time was long, no issues, just needed to get my HR down which took over 40 minutes on the bike.

BIKE: In just a few words: flat, windy, hot, boring. It took over 40 minutes for me to get my HR down to where I needed to be to ride the bike, in other words one of the reasons for my slow first loop, it didn't help that we had a nasty headwind but I was concerned about the HR so I didn't push and just made sure I got in all my nutrition. Coming back the tailwind was so nice, seeing, 22, 23, 24mph was great however every time I tried to push a harder gear my right groin and sitz bone really hurt. I must of changed position on my bike over 50 times during the race and was tremendously uncomfortable. I'm not sure if it was the seat, the fact I don't ride aero for 2 1/2 hours at a time, a combination of both but I'm certain that it absolutely affected my performance on the bike on my over ally performance. I will need to discuss with my bike guys to get it fixed, I do not want to be that uncomfortable again when I ride. I was also concerned how I was going to feel on the run so it messed with me for awhile before coming into T2. Nutrition spot on, however I did not have to pee until I got off my bike, weird.

T2- uneventful, legs felt good, my back needed a few minutes to straighten out but besides feeling the heat right away I felt fine. MY HR was already 160, 12 beat above where I was supposed to be so I was concerned.

RUN: flat, windy at times, boring, 3 loops, what can I say. My first loop I did pretty well, averaged around an 8:35, my HR was really high and all I wanted to do was stay consistent, what could I do to not collapse and walk, I slowed down a bit to bring my HR below 160 which landed me around 9:15's which i was able to hold for the rest of race. I was even able to get my HR back up to 163 by the last two miles which I was happy about. I took in everything at every water stop, tons of ice, powerade, I did my 2 GU's on the run, sponges, it was fine. My feet were wet and sloshy but were fine, tons of people were walking, I mean tons' it was crazy.

Anyhoo, 32.30 swim, 2:56 bike, 2:01 run, 5:36 overall time. 27th in AG in a very competitive field, it was nuts.


1. I need to lose weight, between 5-10lbs. With the heat and the flat course being 140lbs was definitely at my disadvantage, I felt if I was a bit leaner I definitely could of tolerated the weather better and had a much better performance. I will make changes over the next few months to accomplish this ( I know I've said it before) but it was really clear to me over the weekend the changes I need make.

2. Nailing your nutrition is key. I had a similar race with same conditions in florida a few years back and it was a disaster and it took me several days to recover. My nutrition was spot on, I didn't cramp, I was feeling really good that night and even better on Monday morning. My run was consistent and it didn't crumble because of my nutrition and watching the HR.

3. This is my 3rd 1/2 with QT2 since starting with them and each one is getting faster by 10 minutes, 5:56, 5:46 and now 5:36. I keep learning from each race what I need to do to get better and the changes I need to make to make it happen and I will get there, its a process that will not take overnight and I'm fine with that.

4. Racing with a team is very important to me and being part of a group. It made a world of difference for me psychologically being supported the whole weekend and having my teammates with me during the race cheering for me on the course and just being out there. It was so awesome to see my coach several times on the course encouraging me and pushing for me, it really made a world of difference. So thank you.

Thank you to coach Pat, Jesse, Nan, Charlie, John, Keith, Mary, Molly, Cait, Tim, Mat, Andy, Jessie, Dave, Jennie, Rick, Guido, Jacqui and all the other QT2ers that were there this weekend. Thanks for the support, my new friendships and just a great overall learning experience for me. Lets have a great 2012 season.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A day in the life of a mom of 4 ( + puppy)

1. Wake up to daughter at 2am coughing in face- need to escort her back to bed, rub vicks vapor rub on her chest,cough medicine and restart humidifies

2. Go back to bed

3. Husband wakes up early and feels wife needs to know how beautiful it is out so wakes her up, I think it was before 6a, I guess time to get up

3a. Puppy up, needs to go out and pee and poop, mommies job, take plastic bag out to pick up shit

4. 2 loads laundry done, 5 beds made, 4 kids dressed, 7am

5. eggs and toast made for kids, fruit cut up, tea made for mom, time to get kids in car to go to school ( only 2 of them)

6. Drive 2 kids to school

7. Go to starbucks for 5k meeting with TriROK peeps and bring my two older sons who I bribe with scones and who read for pretty much the whole time ( love my boys) 1hr 45 minutes

8. Race to get to sons friends house to pick him up at 10:15am to drive to Hyde Park to go to SkyZone ( indoor trampoline place with 3D dodgeball) Drive takes over 1hr to get there, 3 boys fighting in car, almost killed them

9. Got to SkyZone at 11:50am signed in and jumped for 1 1/2 hours with the boys, cheered them on in Dodgeball

10. Rushed home to bring 8yr old son to therapy in Salem at 2:50pm, had cousin meet me at doctors office to pick up other 2 boys to bring to friends house. Had cousin pick up other two kids at school because I'm at meeting with son.

11. Have husband take 8 yr old home after therapy to get violin to go to lesson at 4:45p

12. I leave office to return rent a car to pick up my car of which needed 4 new tires, an alignment, inspection sticker and oil change ( UGG)

13. Get home at 5:45p to make dinner for 5 people, take the dog out, unpack 5 boxes of new pool furniture, change a lightbulb, feed the dog, cut the meat up for my kids and now sit down to write this blog at 7:49pm. You can guess that working out did not happen today and got moved to tomorrow which will start the whole process over again.

I need a beer.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kids in Sports- So many questions

Ok, I have so many questions and finally have a few minutes to put some thoughts down on my blog. I would love anyones feedback but parents especially would be great.

So, I have 4 kids who are all very involved with sports, music, etc... Each child plays between 1-3 sports at any given time but typically each sport only takes up 2 days a week, sometimes 3. They are never forced to play but are highly encouraged to be active. When your kids are younger you have town soccer, t-ball, swim lessons, nothing too major and certainly nothing that takes up too much of your childs time. As your child gets older the committment to each sport especially if they love it and are good at it at the same time can increase. So whats the limit? 2 days a week, 3 days a week? At what age can your child decide that one sport is what they really want to do? Do you encourage your child to play a sport year round?

So these are some of my questions and here are some examples:

1. Oldest son currently plays club soccer which involves two practices a week and a game. We decided to not have him play town soccer because we didn't want him playing 5 days a week. Instead he plays basketball two days a week and he has piano lessons once a week. The question I have with regards to my 10 year old is that he is a very good soccer player and club requires you to play year round. You play fall/winter/spring with a 6 week break in the winter and then June-August off. My opinion is different then some people, I don't feel that my child is playing too much soccer, he loves being with his friends, he only plays 3 days a week and he is able to cross train with other sports. He loves soccer, he is injury free and with the continuity of playing consistently he has gotten so much better. Some peoples opinions are that we are getting are kids involved in year round sports too soon, increasing their risk of injury and burnout. I don't disagree with this statement but if you can control some aspect of your childs life, i.e., if he doesn't want to go one day he doesn't go, if he decides he wants to take a break you let him, etc... you allow the child to be part of the process of making the decision of playing their sports but at the same time making sure as a parent that you are making sure your child isn't overtraining, is getting proper coaching, fueling his or her body appropriately so that they can excel physically as well as mentally, I think this is fine.

I think what is also important is that you make sure that the child is doing what they want to do not what "the parent" wants them to do. The, " I am living through my childs life" comes to mind with a lot of people. I also feel that you support your child and make sure that your always positively reinforcing what they are doing will always be beneficial.

2. Scenario #2: young daughter- age of 7, is currently swimming on a club swim team, swims 1hr 2-3 times a week, usually 2 but if their is a meet coming up she will swim 3 times in that week. Her swimming is very periodized where she has her build weeks and her recovery weeks, she also plays club soccer 2-3 times a week and basketball once a week. Club swimming requires a year round committement with some time off during the winter and about a 5 week break at the end of July through till the beginning of the school year. My husband thinks that my daughter should take off the winter and just swim fall and spring. I understand where he is coming from but I also know how difficult it is on the body to build up so much fitness take off 3 months and then spend the rest of the next season rebuilding what you have lost. Now, that being said my daughter is only 7 and is not training for the olympics or anything but she is very good and she absolutely loves swimming with her friends. Whenever she needs a break I let her stay home, she has never asked to not go I usually have to be the one that calls her coach to tell her she is taking the day off, I know my daughter I want her to swim ( if she wants) for a long time, I don't want her to lose love of the sport.

So my questions are:

1 Should kids play year round sports, if so at what age is it appropriate?
2. Should kids play more than 1 sport at any given time?
3. At what age do you think its important for your child to consider specializing in a sport so they can focus on just 1 or 2?
4. If your child is really good at a sport and you know they could really do well do you encourage them in the sport, do you let them dictate to you what they want, do you allow them to just walk away if that is what you want?

We all want to do what's right for our children and fitness and activity is very important but what is the limit?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hyannis 1/2 marathon mini report and garmin file

Untitled by donnafurse at Garmin Connect - Details

Not a great day for me on the course.It was a PR on this course but not my Half PR. Lessons learned today:

1. stop treadmill running, I know its convenient and sometimes it has to be done but I could tell a big difference in my durability on my legs. Miles on the treadmill and miles on the road are just not the same.

2. I needed to drink more and I didn't take my second GU, ? whether or not this affected me or not but I may need to consider running with my fuel belt if I can't drink enough during the race.

3. Wind is not my friend

4. I need to mentally strong the whole race, I tend to drift around mile 7-10 and then regather my thoughts and push to the end, usually these are my slowest miles for some reason.

5. I need to move on from today quickly because if I dwell on my performance today it will ruin further workouts this week and I have two weeks of build right now and they are important.

6. I need to snap out of this funk from today, I felt I disappointed myself and my coach.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Disney Picks and other radom thoughts

these are just a few of our Disney Pics, too many to share them all, we had a great trip but most likely won't revisit for quite sometime, I'm thinking more Turks and Caicos or Bahama's, something a little less stimulating for the kids and more relaxing for mom and dad.

Anyhoo, things have been crazy around here, kids have been super busy with their activities and field trips/class parties, etc... we had two birthday parties this week for Cade ( #6) and Kellen ( #10), absolutely insane that I have a child in the double digits, its been a great 10 years, busy but great.

We now have school vacation ( yuck) I swear our kids today spend more time at home then they do at school, if its not vacation its holidays, mondays off, 1/2 day tuesday or wednesday for teacher education days, parent/teacher conferences. I mean, I don't want to bitch but I think this is 1/2 the reason why we are soooo far behind some of these other developing nations, our kids aren't in school long enough. I'd be up for a shorter school day for more days in school. I'd have them start a bit later so they could get their sleep if they were allowed to be in school, its just too much.

For example: right when vacation is over the following friday my kids have off for a teacher education day, they following week they have the friday off for parent/teacher conferences, its f-in ridiculous. How do working parents figure these situations out, who takes the day off, who gets the sitter or grandma/grandpa, I swear it has to be a juggling act for most familes, even for me who stays at home, its great to have them here but after a few hours they want to kill each other and if I don't have things scheduled for when they get up to when they go to bed they would be all over me every second of the day, its insane.

Ok, enough bitching. Training has been going well, coming off of camp was awesome, I miss the ease it was to just go and workout without any responsibilites and just being able to get up and go whenever, its been hard this week to get everything in with all the stuff that I had going on with the kids/house, school, etc... but most of it got done. I'm especially proud of getting my workout done last night 2hrs of a group simulation effort on the bike f/b a zone 2 mile and finishing up with 30 minutes total on the treadmill. My workout last night ended at 10:25pm, the only time to get it done and I did it without excuses. I have the Hyannis 1/2 marathon this coming weekend and I'm very excited, lets hope for good weather and a PR.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

QT2 Camp Travel Day and Day 2-4

Ahhh, the 6hr ride f/b the transition run. I have to say,last year I was so nervous about lasting long on the roads, I had spent so much time on my trainer and nothing longer than 2hr 45. The weather was nice, a little chilly to start but we had long sleeves on and shorts. We broke up into 3 groups and I was in the 2nd group. The ride was great, lots of chatting, lots of riding, my nutrition was spot on, 32 oz of fluid an hour, food every 40 minutes, peed x 3, all good. I was able to get a good 2 1/2 hours done in complete aero which was nice and my lower back didn't hurt at all. It will take some time to get my butt and the girlie parts all good to go for long rides but this one ended up pretty well.

My T-un was great, the legs felt zippy, no issues really, my pace felt strong and HR was well in check. Today gave me a lot of confidence regarding my fitness so hopefully I can get a bit faster over the next 4 1/2 weeks before we taper for Texas.

Dinner was great for sure, meeting new friends, having a few beers was awesome. We were all really tired from the day so it was early to bed for me.

Saturday was our recovery bike with another transition run f/b a 5000 meter swim. I think we were all concerned about this one, would last, could we do the distance, its meter's, etc..... Again, today was a good day, I felt great on the bike and run and when we got to the pool I hoped right in and joined my great lane mates and we kicked some major ass. Coach Spinney just kept us going, 400's, 200's, 100's, vertical kicks in between each sets, etc. Then we ended with team relays which each of us had to swim 50meters, my team of Guido, Jaime and Emily took second to Wheeler's team but I swear he cheated.

Anyhoo, it was another long training day and we knew it was going to be cold in the morning and I had a 2hr run and bike to do so it was off to bed.

Sunday: So sad to see this day come, its been so great not to have to figure out when to get my workouts in, feeling like I'm running with my head cut off trying to do everything for everybody. I got up early and headed out the door just before 7a, my run wasn't spectacular, I couldn't seem to get the leg turnover and I couldn't get my HR up, my body was tired and it was telling me. I continued with my nutrition and just logged the miles, it ended up ok, nothing great, nothing bad.

It was then lunch and leave time. Very sad to have to come home after feeling so successful with all my training. I loved meeting all my new friends and talking triathlon with them. It was great to train with my coach by my side and other coaches who just want to help because they care, it felt like a family to me and it looked like everyone was having a great time.

Thanks again to all the coaches of QT2 it was another awesome experience and camp, I hope I can go back next year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

QT2 Camp Travel Day and Day 1

I've waited almost a full year to come back to camp and this time I came back as one of their athletes which was very exciting.
If your a parent of children you know its very complicated to get everything set up and prepared before you leave on a trip, especially if the one your leaving is your husband who isn't home with the kids 24/7. I had lists upon lists, babysitters, playdates, valentines ready to go, everything set up to make the transition of mommy leaving as easy as possible. That being said its never that easy.

Wednesday: Grandma spent the night so she could drive the kids to school and I could take a cab to make sure I got there on time to catch my plane. One of my lovely children was having a slight meltdown about where he was sitting in the kitchen and then proceeded to explode in a full all out temper tantrum. He refused to eat breakfast and refused to get dressed and ready for school. The other 3 where keeping it together and my oldest was really trying to be helpful and making things move along. The cab arrived and I knew I needed to go, I felt so bad for my mom that I was leaving this situation with her but I was hoping that "said" child would turn it around. Well, after only 15 minutes in the car I received 6 phone calls from my " child" all telling me how much he wasn't going to school and how angry he was, etc........ He actually got himself in such a state that there really wasn't anything I could do to help him settle. My mom was able to get him in the car but after 4 more phone calls and 2 teachers at school they were able to convince him to get out of the car and go to school. Good gracious, I felt bad for the kid but at the same time I was glad I wasn't dealing with it.

Flights; As of today I wouldn't fly AirTRan again, but they did tell me that Southwest purchased them and from April 2012 on they wouldn't be charging for baggage. Round trip I had to pay $250 for luggage, that was 1 bag and 1 bike box, I was absolutely appalled. I will triple check next time the luggage costs, it was insane.

Arrived in Orlando without a hitch and grabbed a cab to Clermont. It was a relaxing day nothing too crazy, I met up with some other Qt2 athletes and went out to dinner and was just getting psyched/nervous about camp.

Day 1: 4000 yd outdoor pool swim, 2 hour recovery ride, Timed 5k at the National Training Center Track

This year they assigned coaches to two different lanes of varying ability, our lane had Coach John Spinney from QT2. He corrected our technique during our swim, gave us our send off times and kept us on track, Duffy, Molly, Tara, Guido and I worked like a well oiled machine, the swim went by super fast.

AFter lunch we headed out for our ride, it was great, very easy, nothing hard, just spinning the legs out in the sun. Most of us were trying to save ourselves for the 5k later on in the day.

5pm we all jogged over to the NTC track and started to warm up, we had two heats, the first heat were the athletes whose zone 1 paces were above 7:30 per mile and second heat were all the fastest peeps. We had quite a crew for the first heat, I was really nervous. The fun part was having the pro's and our coaches keeping us on track and watching our form, pushing us from the sidelines, keeping us focused and smiling. One of the coaches wives ( Courtney) was even kind enough to pass out water. It was amazing how well people did and how fast people were. I finished in 22:52, 7:21 per mile avg pace ( I actually ran 3.2 miles), not a PR but after a long day I was happy with it.

Next up were the Elite Age groupers and the Pro's, man was it fun to watch, they spread out quickly at the beginning but at the end it was coach Pat and Rodney ( track star extrodanaire from Iowa) who started to pull ahead, Rodney took the final turn and kicked hard to the finish and out sprinted coach Pat. 16:50 something, just crazy, and Pat finished in the low 17's. Amazing everyone else was sub 19, just crazy fast. I loved Rodney's response at the end, that's my adult PR, I can't even match what I did in high school and college. I said, what crazy time did you do in High School and he said low 15's, just nuts and a 4:10 mile. Anyhoo, he was just so humble on all of his talent and very gracious, he gave Pat a run for his money.

I met out some QT2 friends for dinner and some new ones and then ended the night on a Q+A with the coaches.

So much fun but rest needed to be had because we had our 6hr bike f/b a 30 minute T-run scheduled for the next day. It was off to bed for some much needed rest.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Harry Potter Park/ Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, Post #2

So Post #2, Harry Potter Park at Islands of Adventure in Disney World. Ok, so just so that you know that Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is an amazing park that most people don't go to up until recently when Harry Potter was added. It is not on the park hopper passes, most hotel buses do not go there so you have to arrange for transportation and buy a separate ticket that is very costly, $159.00 pp if you want unlimited access to both parks for the day or $119.00 to beable to go to one park and then once you leave to go to the other you can't go back in (not a great option the $119 because if one park is really busy you want the ability to go back and forth, just my opinion)

Anyhoo, when decided to go to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure make sure you check which day the park has early park hours, for us it was wednesday and the park openned at 8am. Knowing that Harry Potter ( the main ride in the castle which is a simulator ride on a broomstick-amazing) didn't have a fast pass and if you go when its busy you could either wait 4-6hrs or not beable to get on at all. We decided to go on wednesday when the early hours were available and make sure we cooridinated a van to take us there by 7:45a so we could be in line at the entrance so we could get to the park before everyone else.

Do you know what that means, trying to get everyone fed, dressed and out the door to the bus by 7:20am and ready to go, it was crazy but absolutely worth it. When we got to the park and were let in at 8am we knew exactly were we needed to go and walked straight to the harry potter park of the park, no one was there, we went on the ride in the castle which was amazing and we were the first ones there, no wait, no lines, it was great. We could of gone on it more times but we decided to hit up the other two rides ( amazing roller coasters) before trying to head back to the castle. This was definitely the right decision because again there were no lines and we went on all the rides without much wait at all. However, by the time we were done with the 3 rides the park was actually getting pretty busy and the wait at the castle at before 9a was an hour. We decided to just walk around and go into all the shops, the wand shop, the candy store, everything. Disney World spared no expense when they built this exhibit, it was truly worth all the hype.

Even though the exhibit was amazing there is no way I would of waited 4 hours for the simulator ride or waited 3hrs to go into Oleandor's to see if a wand chose me, with 4 little kids. With no option of a fast pass for the rides the only way to do this park is to go on the early hour day during the middle of the week and get it all done by 9:15a and don't go back. Take lots of pictures and get your fill because it is wayyyyyyyy to crowded and busy if you don't do it this way.

Now if you bring your kids to this Park, I mean Universal and Islands of Adventure and Harry Potter do know that the height requirements for most of the rides is over 52 inches, make sure you check all the height requirements for rides for your kids before you build up the ride to them and realize they can't go on. I believe the castle ride at Harry Potter is only 44 inches but everything else is 52 and above so either wait till your kids are old enough or tall enough before you go to this park.

Mentioning the height thing, this Park is incredible and if your into rides like roller coasters and thrill rides this one is for you. That being said you need to be tall enough, so anyone under the height of 52 inches will not beable to go one most of the rides in both of these parks, so just heed this warning, we waited till this year to go to this park so that at least all 4 of my kids could 90% of the time go on everything.

The best rides are The Hulk, The Mummy, The Red Rocket roller coaster, Dr. Doom, Spiderman, The Mummy, the Movie Set, harry Potter of course. I've never had more fun at a park than Islands of Adventure and Universal it was awesome, I would go back just for this park alone. The price is expensive but absolutely worth it.

Anyhoo, thats it on this park.

10 top reasons to go or not go to Disney World and other tidbits

Ten Top Reasons to Go to Disney World with 4 kids:

1. They are still excited about seeing the characters and getting there autographs
2. Watching my 5yr old hug the chipmunks like they are real ( he still thinks so) and watching my now 10yr old wanting pictures with everyone as well even though he knows they aren't real

3. My kids are now tall enough to go on every ride that I love which is every endorphin filled roller coaster, tower of terror, Dr. Doom, whatever, its the best. Hubby doesn't like the coasters so this was a great turn around this year.

4. If you stay in a place that has a small kitchen you can call a new service at Disney called Garden Grocer and you can order groceries online and have them waiting for you in the hotel room for only a $12 charge, it saved us a ton of money because we didn't have to eat breakfast or buy lunch anyway.

5. having 4 kids walking in the park all day with no stroller = 4 very tired kids at the end of the day

6. if you keep them on the tea cup ride for a few go arounds they will never ask you for a snack during the day, at least a snack that costs you money.

7. Did I mention the rides

8. I think I'm running out of good reasons to take them

9. It's a magical place? ( give me a friggin break)

10. It made my kids happy for about 2hrs a day

10 top Reasons not to take 4 kids to Disney World

1. They couldn't agree on anything, 1 wanted to go one way, the other the other way, it got crazy sometimes

2. When someone didn't reach the height requirement it was another meltdown especially if the other 3 were able to go on the ride. That sucked.

3. Most of the food they sold in the park was terrible and so expensive. they just now are starting to have fruit and veggie stands in the park and water, however, 1 banana was $2.99 and a bottle of water was over $3.00

4. Having to continuously say "no" to my kids on buying things. We told them they could get 1 thing in Disney World, however when that 1 thing was bought ( which all 4 did on day 2) they continuously asked for things each day and if I said 'NO" once I said it 100 times, I'm tired of being the bad guy

5. When we go to Disney World we go in late january so that the crowds are minimal and the lines aren't long but the downside is the weather isn't the best. With 4 kids and no ability to get them to swim in the pools and get some wiggles out is tough and this time most days the lines weren't bad but somedays the lines were stupidly long, well over 1-2hrs, its just awful. Managing 4 kids in lines that long, " Not Fun"

6. After 5 days of fighting and tired children if I heard, " Have a Magical Day" one more time I was going to throttle someone.

7. Unable to drink enough alcohol to keep me numb

8. Having to get up at 4am-4:30am each morning to get my workouts in because we needed to get to the parks by 8:30am so we could get on the rides

9. Sleeping in the same room with my 4 kids, not so much fun.

10. Kids being older and having to have to fight with them to do their homework on a daily basis before going to the Park, that sucked.

11. Oh did I say I hated to hear, " Have a Magical F*&^&*(in day" really bothered me.

Ok enough of the top ten, hear are some of my tips about going to Disney World. I have been to Disney a few times with and without kids and I have made mistakes along the way but feel now I have it down to a system, so hear goes.

Flights: If you can, take your kids out of school during the week to fly to Orlando, try not to go during vacation weeks, the prices of flights go up significantly and the times of flights are a bit more limited. think about buying roses on valentines day, how much are they 1 week before Valentines Day and how much they are on the day, the mark up is at least 50%.

JetBlue to Orlando is amazing and they TV's for the kids on the chairs, if you can fly jet blue not only is the flight one of the cheapest out there but the service and the plane itself is great.

Transportation: If you are staying in one of the Disney Hotels ( i.e., in the Park) make your transportation with magical express. You will be given bag tags before you go to the airport of which you will place on your checked luggage, AFter you check in at the airport you will not see them again until you check in at your hotel. It is a great service as long as you don't need anything from your luggage immediately when you land. My recommendation is to pack everything you need for the day, bathing suits, shorts, whatever in a carry on and go about your day when you arrive at your hotel. Not having to have to wait at the baggage claim is awesome.

The Magical Express buses get you to your hotel with no problems, its very easy. I believe this is a free service with the Disney in Park Hotels, so take advantage.

Renting CArs: If you are staying in the Park they have bus transportation that takes you to and from every park you want to go to, except Universal and Islands of Adventure, Sea World and Busch Gardens. If you want to rent I would suggest you go to your concierge and go through Mears transportation and the bus/car will pick up your family or whomever is leaving your hotel to that destination for the day and bring you to the park and will pick you up. The cost is less than what it would cost you to rent a car and less hassle. Just my opinion.

Food: Ok, no joke, the park is expensive, restaurants are expensive. With my family of 6 it was crazy, one dinner the first night cost us way over $250,00, if you multiply that by 3 meals a day for 5 days it would be insane. If you get a hotel room with a small kitchenette you can call an online grocery store in Orlando called: They have a ton of organic/non-organic, gluten free, whatever, groceries you can order from and pay online and they will deliver it to your hotel room for only a $12 fee. Most of the groceries were very reasonable especially the fruits and veggies, not bad, but at the end of the day I paid $150.00 for 5 days worth of groceries and we ate breakfast and prepared lunches everyday. We saved a bundle.

Also, bring your own water bottles with you to the hotel fill them with water before leaving for the parks, this will save you a ton of money. There are plenty of water bubblers around the park to refill them, at $3.00 a bottle of Dasani you can save on this as well.

Park Hopper Passes: Ok, no matter what getting into the parks is expensive so the only way to do it right is to buy the park hopper passes which gets you into the Disneys 4 major theme parks, ( Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Hits). This does not include Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure where Harry Potter is, it doesn't include Sea World or any Water Parks, etc... so make sure you are aware of this. Buying a park hopper pass allows you to go to any park multiple times a day for the amount of days you have purchased them. For ex: if we wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom in the morning and Epcot in the afternoon we could or even add Animal Kingdom in as well, it just doesn't matter.

These passes are expensive but its less expensive to buy the pass then it is to buy a daily pass anywhere.

Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure ( Harry Potter). You want to buy a pass that allows you to go in between these parks during the day, they are side by side and you can walk to both of them but depending on how crowded the parks are you want to be able to go to both whenever to increase your abilities to hit all the rides and see all the shows. With Harry Potter now at Islands of Adventure the parks are filled so buy this pass, it will run yoiu about $159.00 per person and you have to get transportation to the park if you don't have a car.

VERY IMPORTANT: When you are traveling off season to Disney World ( if I mentioned to you this is a big savings for you and if you don't have to wait in line with little kids its the best time to go), you need to do a few things first:

1. Go online and check each park and what hours they are open, what days they have early hours or late hours and also during the off season months rides at different parks are closed for refurbishing, it is important to know what rides are closed so you can plan accordingly.
For example: In the magic kingdom two of the best rides are Thunder Mountain and Splash mountain during our time there last week Thunder Mountain was closed, Thunder mountain and Splash mountain are right next to each other so with one of the rides closed what does that do to the other ride? Splash mountain was packed and the wait was huge, at 9am in the morning there was already a 1hr wait, so we knew we were going to need to get a fast pass to come back to this ride so my kids didn't have to wait, you have to plan or you will get screwed.

Another ex: Animal Kingdom has1 water ride called kali river rapids and it was closed so the roller coaster ( Everest) was going to be packed. You just have to plan your day, either get their right when the park opens or if that isn't your plan just get a fast pass.

So my point is: Check out each park online and see what rides may be closed, you definitely want to know for the little ones at Magic Kingdom because FantasyLand is packed anyway and if Dumbo or Snow White or Peter Pan is closed you want to know.

Fast Passes: If you don't know what this is this is Huge. A fast pass is when a ride is packed you can take your park ticket and put it in a machine and will tell you when you can come back and get on the ride very quickly. On each ride there will be a sign that shows you the fast pass time that is given at that moment and its on your pass. When you return to the ride there are two entrances ones for regular rides and one for fast pass riders, its a great service and I highly recommend it. The only negative thing with fast passes is not all rides have them and you can't get two fast passes for the same time slot. Its not that big of a deal but with lots of kids you try to make the most of the time you have in the park.

Ok this is enough for now, I need to write about Harry Potter tonight, its a separate post. I may have also forgotten to write about a few more things but if you have questions let me know and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

Have a Magical Day.