Week thirty-eight to week fifty-two September 15-December 31, 2014 You are an Ironman to Happy New Year

Wow I am so embarrassed that I stopped blogging. I have no idea what happened but I suspect it all comes down to this little statement, that I heard 14 hours and 24 minutes after I started swimming in Cambridge, Maryland, “Espe Kelly you are an Ironman”. I have to tell you that it was an incredible feeling. Much more than I ever expected. So here is what I remember from the lead up to it.


I got all packed up just like I had for CDA. I had my checklists and got everything ready. Then I took off to Maryland. I arrived in to Washington DC, got my rental car and then drove to Cambridge (well actually Easton) where I had rented a gorgeous house. On the way I stopped at the first grocery store I saw and stocked up on water, bananas, bacon (yes-I eat it on my ride) and food for breakfast so when my family showed up there would be food for them.

As soon as I got to the house I figured out where everyone was sleeping then unpacked and got my stuff organized. Then my friend Cathy McIntyre came for a visit. I met her my freshman year in college and I have not seen her since then. It was a 31year overdue visit. We hung out at the house until the agent came by to give me keys. Then we went to dinner, caught up and tried to piece together our freshman year. Just so you know we never pieced it together.

with cathy

Cathy and I at dinner

The most interesting thing I found out is that Cathy somehow developed a fear of going over the bay bridge. She actually has a service that meets her and drives her over the bridge. Yes it was a scary looking bridge but I had no idea people freak out. So I am very happy that Cathy was able to meet me for dinner. I later found out that my cousin John Michael doesn’t like it either. He told me the night of the ironman that he would never drive that bridge for me again. I love you John Michael for doing that to come watch my race.

Next day it was time to register and meet up with Ritchie, one of my Alien teammates. We got our gear and made plans to meet the next morning for a pre-race brick then check in our bikes.


That night I went out to dinner with my high school English teacher who also happened to be my track coach. It was great to catch up and hear the stories about how she went crazy trying to get me to run a mile in high school. She had told me before that she did not understand how I became so disciplined. Ceres Bainbridge, I had other priorities in high school. After dinner I went back to the house to wait for Steve to show up. He drove 8 hours to come watch me race.

Steve made it and was hungry so I got his dinner ready. I had ordered food from the restaurant and he was happy to have dinner ready for him. We then put my bike back together. Sometimes I wonder why I just don’t do these things on my own. Steve just does things without instruction (you know the engineer in him). Well of course it was not right and I flipped out. Luckily I have a great bike mechanic and he took my call late at night and he walked Steve through the putting the bike back together and everything turned out all right.

Next day we picked up Ritchie and headed to swim start. Ritchie and I went for a swim and followed it up a with a short bike ride. Then we dropped our bikes off. Once that is done then it becomes real.

having fun on the hill

The big hill

practice with ritchie

Swim Start Practice

ready with ritchie

Wetsuits on ready for pre-race brick

We then went to lunch, dropped Ritchie off then headed back to the house where we found my Mom and John Michael. We had a couple glasses of wine and the boys cooked up some steaks and baked potatoes.


John Michael and Steve prepare dinner


After dinner I checked all my bags and then proceeded to try to get some sleep.

Then it was race day. My Mom had told me the night before she was only going to the end (she had already done everything at CDA and it was too much for her). But she surprised me by being up and ready to go watch me swim. It was great. We took off to the start which included getting on a yellow school bus and then some walking. Her and Steve were so helpful and I was feeling good.

mom at swim swim satert with steve and mom swim start

As I was waiting to start I noticed very tall skinny young guys surrounded me. I should have known I was in the wrong place. But I was too excited to realize what I was about to experience. My strategy was to take off 10 minutes earlier than in CDA so that I had more time on the bike. I had done pretty good in CDA so I figured it would be ok. Oh boy was I wrong. During the first part of the swim I was getting run over by faster swimmers. This is everyone’s worst nightmare in the water. I kept trying to move over to the outside but I could not so finally I just said ok at some point they will stop coming since they will have all passed me. My main focus for about 500m was to not get kicked in the face. Then it all stopped and I was able to get in a groove and before I knew it was time for the second lap. By this point I was feeling good and finished just over 1:30:00, which was just a bit slower than CDA.

out of swim

When I got out of the water I saw Steve and my Mom. That was such a great feeling. I made it through transition quicker than CDA (I had learned a few things and well it wasn’t as cold so a few less things to put on). As I was leaving transition I saw my Mom, Steve and Ceres (my high school teacher). That just made me so happy and before I knew it I was on the bike.

The bike was great. It was flat and windy but less windy than I expected. So I was super excited. I had decided to wear one of my Australian jerseys and that turned out to be a great thing. So many people yelled out to me so that kept me distracted and feeling great.

It was a 2-loop ride and when I finished the first loop I was thrilled because I was on a good pace and feeling good. We then passed the special needs bags I decided I did not need to stop. There was nothing I needed and thought I would take advantage of that fact. There were a few people who I was riding with and we kept passing each other back and forth and we would yell at each other as motivation.

other riders

After the special needs I lost them, I guess they stopped. It all of a sudden became strange because no one was in front of me or behind me. After many miles I started wondering if I had taken a wrong turn. I had to remind myself that I could not make a wrong turn but never the less I thought I had. I kept riding and looking at the wonderful scenery and then I came across the flooded road.

water bike

We were warned about it but really I did not think it was possible but they were right. The road floods at high tide.

I knew at this point I was close to the next aid station and I wanted it so bad because I wanted a rest. My thoughts were playing games in my head and I wanted to see other riders. I wanted to make sure I was not the last one. When I finally made it to the aid station it was good to know I was not alone. I stopped stretched, ate some bacon and took off. Before I knew it I was at mile 92. The dreaded 92 are what went through my mind. I looked down at my computer and saw I had only been riding 6 hours. I screamed out of enjoyment. In CDA it took me 9 hours. I was so happy I wanted to throw my legs up but couldn’t since I was clipped in.

fun on bike fun on bike 2

The last 10 miles ended up being the windiest and I was not happy. I wanted to ride out of aero but when the wind is in your face in aero you must go. So aero it was. Then at 7 hours and 14 minutes I was done with the bike. I remember seeing Steve and I started yelling like a crazy person. I did it I did it.

I handed my bike off and somehow got through transition in no time. I was so excited that I could not figure how to get out of the tent. As I ran out I saw Steve and he was alone. I was like where is everyone he yelled out they are slackers I shook my head and took off.

I always knew if I made it to the run I could make it even if I had to walk.   Andy thought the same thing and apparently told Steve if I made it to mile 18 to go ahead and buy my finisher gear (which he did). I also found out later that all of Andy’s congratulation messages were sent after I got to mile 18.

best running pic

John Michael took this picture. My favorite as it shows how I felt throughout the run.

The run course turned out to be a great course although I had originally thought it would suck doing 3 loops. What ended up happening is that because of the 3 loops you saw the same people which after awhile started cheering you on, then you got to see people from Miami and the best part was hearing the announcer pretty much the entire time. The one surprising thing was how the volunteers started looking for you as you went by the aid stations. They really got to know you. That proved to be useful on the last lap since they knew it was your last lap they pushed you.

When I started the run I was running so fast and got through mile 1 in about 10 minutes. I was freaking because Andy had said to me if I was running faster than 10:30 it was going to be a bad race. I tried to slow down but my legs were just running so fast. After about 4 miles I stopped to go to the bathroom. That was a good move because it helped me get back to a realistic pace. I ran at a pretty good pace for most of the route with a few miles where it seemed I was running slower but really it was the bathroom stops that slowed me down. When I got to mile 18 my knee started hurting. I didn’t worry too much I knew I had Tylenol in my special needs bag. I do not normally mask the pain but I was tonight if I needed to. I did grab my bag got the Tylenol and kept going.   I could not get the package open so I decided I would give it to Steve when I saw him. He was nervous about doing that since it is against the rules. I insisted and well he did get it open for me and on the way back for my last loop I took the Tylenol (and I even had to have a volunteer help me open it. Those packages are brutal).

After about 1 mile I felt better and I decided it was time to get it done. Beside by this time they were handing out the chicken broth, which really does fuel you so I was picking up my pace. All of a sudden I was moving faster and faster and people started noticing and were cheering me on (the advantage of the 3 loops) I Just kept going and every time someone cheered for me especially the runners I just got faster and faster. Then before I knew it I was at the last turn around. It was at the brewery with lot s of people and they always went crazy if you turned left (that meant it was the last loop and you were almost done (I mean these people went crazy. It was just like adding speed to your blood stream so I took off.) I went past what was to be the last water stop and the volunteer who I had just cheered me on to go faster was going crazy about how fast I was going. Just at that moment my watch announced I had done a 9:30 minute mile and I screamed that out he flipped and yelled go you are so close to the end. He didn’t even let me get water. At that point everyone was yelling at me to go faster. I was like where is the finish and they said straight ahead. I saw one person in front and I had to make a choice to either slow down or pass her. I wanted to make sure I was alone in the chute. I chose to go faster and passed her and then all I saw was lights. I heard my sister Elena and then there was the finish line. It was so sudden I didn’t even do my happy dance as I had planned.

finish finish 2

The process after I finished seemed to have gone so fast that I do not even remember anything except getting my chocolate milk. That was the best chocolate milk I have ever had. Then all of a sudden there was Steve, my mom (crying), my cousin John Michael and my sister Elena.

mom crying

Best part of the night. I talked to them for a while but I needed food so I headed to the athlete tent had some food and then met them outside. They had a bottle of wine for me and then one for them. At this point I asked about Ritchie and all of a sudden he showed up.

with ritchie

We hung out for a while and then everyone wanted to eat so we went back to the house. As usual I took a to go cup well to go bottle and we headed to the car. Oh boy that was hard. I made a stupid mistake and changed shoes. Not a good idea because once I took the running shoes off my feet went crazy. Steve took off to get the car and I finally made it to the parking lot. Just writing this is making my feet throb.

We went back to the house, I took a shower and then wanted to hang out and chit chat but I was the only one that wanted to stay up. Really I was the only one not tired. Well I was tired I just didn’t know it. The next day they were supposed to cook breakfast but again I was up and they were sleeping so I started. I put the bacon on, beat the eggs and made the pancake mix. After awhile Steve took over and finished up and we had a great breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to Washington DC to see my Dad’s exhibit at the Newseum at the Smithsonian Museum. That was a great way to finish up my Ironman experience.


After I got home I went back through Facebook and noticed all of the messages everyone one had sent me. That brought me to tears. There were so many people cheering me on, updating my status through out the day and posting my progress. There are no words to describe the support that I got from not only my family but friends and friends of friends. I was amazed at how people who did not even know me were cheering me on just because I was a friend of one of their friends. That really is the magic of Facebook. ( I can not even begin to try to show those messages here).

I know I should conclude my ironman experience here but I find it very difficult because even today I find it hard to accept that I actually did it.

So what happened after week thirty-eight pretty much goes as follows:

  • Did the swim portion of a relay race
  • escape to miami
  • Jumped out of an airplane
  •  friends skydivefun skydiving
  • Got the dreaded Ironman cold
  • Tried our for The Amazing Race
  • amazing race
  • Went on a cruise
  • on a boat
  • Hung out with my cousin Jorge
  • dinner with Jorge
  • Ran in the Coconut Grove Bed Race (well we had fun anyway)
  • bed race

    Me, Mike Page, Paula (Nonya Binis) Mari Lovo and Kristin Dean

  • Moved out of my house to get my floors fixed
  • Hung out with Steve for 3 weeks
  • hung out with Steve
  • Did amazing at Key West Triathlon (6th in my age group and personnel best for an Olympic distance)
  • key west tri
  • After 6 weeks moved back in Christmas Eve and proceeded to unpack
  • Christmas at my cousin’s house
  • New years at another cousin’s
  • new years

And that pretty much sums up my year.

What I learned these past 14 weeks is:

  • Time sure does go by fast
  • Jumping out of an airplane is the most incredible thing ever but will not get rid of the fear of going down a hill fast
  • Feels great to not turn on an alarm clock
  • It is easy to over book events since you are not paying attention to alarms or schedules
  • I miss Ironman training
  • I can do ok even without training after an ironman (it hurt but I did ok).
  • It still hurts to eat wheat and it is easy to say who cares (and that is a bad thing)
  • I love where I live (not so much in Miami but the location of my house).
  • It is ok not to have followed all of your resolutions
  • Declaring 52 week to Greatness actually got me to Greatness (I am an Ironman and I reached my target for my business)
  • 2014 was a great year
  • I am sure there are other lessons that I can not recall right now

Quote for the year:

Dream, Believe, Achieve

I do not know who said this but it is what I chose to do this year. I dreamt, I believed and I achieved. I had failures but because I believed, I achieved. I loved 2014.

Week twenty and twenty-one. May 12-25, 2014-From a relaxing vacation to a stress filled training week

Week twenty I was in Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate my cousin John Michael’s 50th birthday.  He invited some of his family and his closest friends for a fun filled week on the beach.  I was one of the lucky ones that were invited.  The week came in the mist of some heavy training but there was no way I was going to miss it.  I planned my flights so I could get the major workouts in before I left and after I returned.  The workouts during the week were not too bad and I managed to get some of them in.  I know I could have done more but sleeping in always seemed like a better option.  As it turns out this trip, although not good for my training, was good for my body.  It was the first week in maybe 6-7 weeks that my stomach did not bother me.  I think I really needed to rest and relax and that I did.

I want to take a moment and say thank you to John Michael and Richard for inviting me.  I truly enjoyed spending time with my family and with your beautiful friends.  The food was incredible, the beach was beautiful, the drinks were plentiful and the company was amazing.  I feel completely blessed to be your cousin.  I went back home completely relaxed and re-energized. Here are some pictures from the week:


Birthday boy and me on the beach


View from my living room


The beach with sand so soft it felt like flour


The finest Rose


Table setting elegant each and every night


Lobster, ceviche and fish snack on the boat


John Michael with his favorite sister Ana Maria after the boat ride


Lobster dinner OMG so good


Drinks by the pool with the most beautiful moon

Week twenty-one is another story.  It started out with a 4.5-hour ride on the windiest day I have ever ridden in.  I had just gotten new Zipp wheels, which made my bike super light.  That made for a very unsteady ride and it was a bit scary for the first time out with the new wheels but I managed to hang on and finish 62 miles.  I will have to admit there was a time when we did not think we would make it back but we just kept at it and we finally made it home.  I was never so happy to see my house.


I survived

That was followed by an email from our coach that basically said that some of us were being complacent and we needed to get our butts in gear.  The email went to an undisclosed list of people and the way it was written it seemed like he was just talking to me.  I was most upset because I have been working really hard.  This really stressed me out and I started having nightmares about not finishing the race, which kept me from getting any sleep.  I was determined to get every workout in this week and I did all but one. Not only did I do them but I did really good. I attribute that to the week’s rest and the fact that I am feeling so much better.

This week also included tenting our house for termites. This was just one big pain in the butt.  We had to take all the food out and then move out for a few days.  We stayed at our friend’s house, which was fun but well you do not have all your stuff so it can be tricky.  For instance, we had to move out on Thursday and I was supposed to do a 3-hour run.  When I went to get ready for the run I realized I had no running shoes so I had to scrap that.  Not really an ideal situation but I knew I had a day off on Monday so I decided not to worry and just do it then. Then Friday I got ready to go to my computrainer class when I realized I had no flip-flops so I had to head out in my nice sandals. That was kind of funny. They went really good with my workout clothes.


Fancy Sandals with bike shorts. Classic


The house under tent

That night we decided to stop by Happy Hour since Steve hadn’t seen the happy hour crew in awhile. After a couple of drinks I announced to Steve “I need to go I am feeling like I am getting drunk.” He was shocked and responded by saying “I never though I would here you say that.” One of the guys followed up by saying “you must be taking this Ironman thing serious”. It was really funny because it’s true. I even shocked myself when I said that. So we left, grabbed some food at Whole Foods and had dinner with our friends at their house.   It was probably one of the earliest night I have had in a really long time.

Saturday morning we had a swim and bike workout. We had to swim for 1:hour and 15 minutes and then ride for 2.5 hours. The water felt good and I was swimming great. Ended up swimming 1.8 miles. I was pleased with the effort. When we got out of the water the guys told me they were doing Sunday’s 4.5 hour ride and then do the 2.5 on Sunday since it was a holiday weekend. I wasn’t prepared for that so I couldn’t go with them. Since no one was left I decided to head back and do the ride later in the day.  We finally got back into the house at 12:30 and I just started cleaning out the fridge and started washing dishes since I wanted to get my kitchen back in order. Before I knew it, it was 7:00pm and I was starving. So needless to say I missed the ride.

I had made plans with Liz for Sunday’s ride so she met us at my house and we took off at 7am as planned. The ride started out good. I took the lead and basically pulled until Black point Marina. Then Steve took the lead until Robert is Here (a great local fruit stand that has bathrooms and a good stopping point). We took a short break, refilled our water bottles and took off. Well I should have known the wind was going to be in our face on the way back since we rode so fast on the way out.   For some reason I always forget. Anyway on the way back I decided to get into my aero bars and see what I could do. Much to my surprise (and Steve and Liz’s surprise) I kicked butt. I was pulling at 19.5 MPH on a straightaway that was about 3 miles long. Now this may not sound fast but the head winds were strong and I usually do about 12 MPH on the way back so that is huge. Then when we turned and I thought let me really see what I can do in the aero bars so I sort of took off thinking Steve and Liz were right behind me. I later found out they couldn’t keep up. Steve told me he could not believe I was riding that fast. I pretty much took the lead all the way home. We ended up doing 68 miles in the same time we had done 62 miles the week before. I felt great. I was already thinking about the next long ride and how I could possibly keep up with the boys if I drafted. I really cannot wait to see how I do. During this ride not only was I going faster but I was also more confident generally so I was taking off quicker at lights and actually drinking while pedaling. Again this may sound like nothing but for me it’s huge because that is one of the reasons I always get dropped.


Steve and I after the ride.

After the ride Steve was telling me how him and Liz were talking about how confident I looked on the bike and how amazed they were at my riding. The bike has always been my weak sport and given that it is the longest portion of the Ironman it has been freaking me out. I am super excited at my progress. As Steve said, “you have come along way since you started. Thank God because it was so frustrating riding with you but today every time I looked back you were right on my tail”. That was awesome to hear.

So after the ride I stated seeing Facebook posts about our team mates racing Ironman Brazil. These guys were hauling ass and at the end of the day when everyone was finished I got really scared. They all did so well and some even placed in their age groups.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.11.01 PM

Iron Alines Ironman Brazil group: Stephanie, Ralph, Hans (double fisting 🙂 ), Silvana, Ale, Angelo, Mike and Dario

I was thinking man I don’t know if I can do this. Then came another post from my infamous coach Andy.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 7.28.59 PM

Andy’s post. He is killing me.

Gotta love this guy.

This week I managed 86% of training time.  Man I only missed one workout and the percentage was not as good as I had hoped.

▪   Planned workout duration:  18:15

▪   Actual workout duration: 15:45

What I learned this week is that I am stronger than I think. That is really a good thing. I think I needed to learn that. I am glad I was able to figure that out with Steve. His encouragement this week was exactly what I needed to get me across the finish line on June 29.

This week’s quote is really about what happened to me.  I finally set myself on fire. It only took 21 weeks but hey better late than never right?

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. ~Arnold H. Glasow

Day 334-336. November 30-December 2, 2013-Moving right along

So I realized today that the days weren’t adding up.  Somewhere along the line I missed some days or mixed them up so that is the reason for the jump in days since my last post.  Anyway today is really day 336 which means only 29 days left in my 365 days of to dos.

Since Thanksgiving is now over it was time to decorate for Christmas.  Easy right?  Well not at my house.  I had to move furniture around and needed to find a way to get a couch to my mother’s house since it was taking up too much space at my house.  So I put out a message on Facebook and my cousin offered to help.  

Once the furniture was moved it was time to hit the shed to pull out the decorations.  I started with the tree.  OMG it was horrible.  The thing was full of roaches.  Freaked me out.  So I left it on the back porch over night so the roached would leave.  The next day I took out a few containers to start decorating and really all I ended up with is lights and the big santa and my village houses.  That is all that is getting set up until Steve gets home because I am not going back in the shed.

So that was the decorating portion (which I haven’t finished but it is a good start).  I then sat down and started writing.  I am updating some stuff and last week I lost the file and basically had to start over.  I wrote like a crazy person and on Saturday was up until 4am working.  I got so much done it was great.  Funny part was that I ended up finding the original file after I was finished.  So yesterday I combined the work from both to get a really good write up.

Sunday was spent cleaning and then off to Sunday Funday with my friend Sue.  She is not drinking this week because she has a full marathon on Sunday so we decided to leave our bubble since she was driving.  It was nice getting out of the neighborhood. Plus the Dolphins won.

Today was all about getting back to my online course.  I pretty much spend the entire day doing that until my cousin was headed over to help me move the couch.  I decided I would take my dog out for a quick walk.  I grabbed my phone and headed out.  As soon as I slammed the door I thought oh crap I don’t have keys.  Thank God I had my phone.  I called Marta to tell what happened and we decided that we would go to my Mom’s and get my key.  As soon as I hung up I was like well how will I get in her house.  My keys are inside.  I then started calling people.  I have keys at several friend’s houses.  Of course no one was home and they were not 100% sure they had keys anymore.  In the end my friend Cindy got home the fastest and she did have the key so were able to get the couch moved.  My other friend Aida also confirmed that she had a key so at least I know who has keys.

What I learned the last three days is:

  • having to write things a second time usually ends up better
  • I need a new shed
  • I have great family and friends
  • my house looks so much better without that couch
  • I love my on line course and so glad I finally got back to it
  • 29 days is not a lot of time to get everything done

Day 327-329. November 27-29, 2013-All about Thanksgiving and shopping

So the last three days just flew by.  Wednesday we had the annual Curtis + Rogers thanksgiving lunch.  So I had to be at the office by 11:30 at the latest.  I had some stuff I needed to do in the morning so I made it there just in time.  Lunch usually takes a couple of hours and we always pick names for our secret santa.  So we did that and it was funny cause there were three of us sitting next to each other and we all picked our own name.  What are the odds right.  

After lunch I picked up my vegetable/fruit share and the traffic was horrible so it took forever.  As I was putting everything away I realized I had picked up the wrong box.  Sent an email to Endlessly Organic and they were like not to worry there were extra boxes for the food bank.  I was bummed because I did not get any fruit but they were so nice that next week they are giving me a fruit box to try.  So happy about that.  I am more of a fruit person than a vegetable one.

I then took off to meet my happy hour friends.  What a great day.

Thursday was all about running, resting and eating.  I went to my cousin’s house for Thanksgiving.  I love going there.  Food is always good and I love seeing my cousins and Kiki makes the best cortadito in town.

I was assigned an appetizer so I made my chicken salad with avocado won ton cup bites.  I added some bacon this time.  Oh they were so good.  Will make more next time.  I love making this because I basically used all leftovers to do it.

Today was gonna be about cleaning my house but my cousin Maria Cristina called me at 8:30am because last night I had asked her to look for a purse (since she was going shopping) that I wanted and she wanted me to go look at it.  I got my butt out of bed and headed to Dadeland mall.  I ended up with a purse and 2 pairs of shoes.  What a score.  


I then headed to Footworks.  I had to return a pair of running shoes and wanted to take advantage of the sale.  I found 3 pairs of shoes and a tank top.  As I was waiting in line I heard someone say that the nutrition is on sale and that never happens so I stocked up.  I am gonna need it for my ironman training.


Then I made christmas cards for Elena, my sister.  They are for the gifts she gives to the kids at Math Monkey.  She had called me while at Dadeland and was giving me all sorts of instructions of what she wanted.  I listened to none of them and the cards came out so cute (can’t show them since it is a surprise).  She loved them.  Thank God for the paper cutter at my office.  It would have taken forever to do at home with an exacto knife.

What I learned the last couple of days is that I don’t see my family enough.  They live so close but we barely see each other.  The great thing is that when we do see each other it is always fun.

I also learned that black Friday is not so bad since it now starts on Thursday.  Thank all the people who stayed up all night shopping.  It made the Friday shopping nice.

Day 259-278. September 19-October 8, 2013-So much time so much fun

It is obvious that I have been out of touch for a while.  The last 20 days have flown by.  Crazy how time flies when you are having fun.  So here is the run down of what I have been up to:

More volunteering at Lake Tahoe Ironman

  • Sign making tent which was funny because it was so windy that everything kept flying away.  It was fun watching the kids make signs for their parents.  I even got to meet some of my volunteers for T2 (transition between bike and run) gear bags.
  • Banquet which was supposed to be helping athletes settle in and some clean up duties but turned out to be handing out the tickets to those who purchased on line.  A lot of people came in wanting to buy tickets but it was all sold out.  There were some upset people but the ones who waited around ended up getting in because other people in line found out that it was sold out and came up with extra tickets and sold them to the people waiting.  The banquet was well a banquet and the food was not bad considering it was in a tent.  The best part was listening to one of the original Ironman participants.  There was 12 of them and this guy came in 11 out of the 12.  He was funny.  Talked about how he bought a bike the day before the race.  Crazy to think that he did not train for the bike ride at all.
  • Bike check in which consisted of me grabbing the bikes and getting them ready for the photographer to take a picture.  I had to make sure the pedal was all the way down which meant about 600 squats.  This was all fun until the storm came in and it started raining.  On the way back to my sister’s it was snowing.
  • Then the big day.  I was captain of gear bags for T2.  My mom and sister also came to volunteer.  Overall it was a fun thing to do.  I got to see my team mates as they finished the bike (which was grueling).  They were both happy to see me and Andy(my coach and my Mom’s personal trainer) was so happy to see my Mom.  She was so excited to had him his bag.  The one thing that I was not expecting was seeing athletes break down because they missed the bike cut off time.  There were about 15 athletes that missed it by less than 5 minutes.  They were all sobbing uncontrollably.  I saw this one girl all alone and I asked her if she needed a hug and she said yes.  I stayed with her for awhile.  She was so disappointed in herself.  She said she missed it by 2 minutes.  I cried for her.  I told her not to be disappointed in herself but only at the result.  That bike ride was brutal and it was really cold.  In the end I managed to make her laugh but It was heart wrenching to watch.  The worst part is that they all looked like the run would have been fine.
  • After T2 I headed to the finish line to give out medals.  The finish line was a great place to be.  Watching the athletes coming in was inspiring.  I stayed there until my team mates came in.  It was great.

Photos from volunteering


More site seeing

The next few days was spent site seeing with my mom and sister.  We did a little shopping as well.  It was a lot of fun.


I then headed to Augusta for my half ironman.  It was cold in the morning which I was not expecting and because I was cold I was really tight and that did not help my pinch nerve.  When I got out of the water my entire right side was locked up.  I wasn’t sure if I would continue.  Given that I am stubborn as mule I decided to get on the bike and see what would happen.  The bike was fun.  I just took in the scenery and enjoyed the hills and all the go Miami and Go alien and go Espe comments as people passed me by.  Once I finished the bike I knew I was good to go.  It was great to see Steve at mile 10.5.  He had a beer and I just grabbed it and chugged what was left.  I then took Ralph’s beer as well then I was off.  Apparently Ralph was shocked that I would drink the beer.  I mean really it was my slowest time ever in a race so what the hell.  At this point it was all about having fun and fun I had.  After the race it was back to the hotel for a shower, packing up the bike and food and drinks with the group.  A good night.

Steve and I flew back home and we had one day to wash clothes before heading to Montreal.  I had a couple of meetings on Tuesday.  The second meeting was at my high maintenance client construction site.  I could not have asked for a better reaction to me finishing a half ironman.  As soon as I walked in he says “how could a girl that drinks so much wine finish and ironman”.  I laughed and said this is how and showed him this picture.  He could not stop shaking his head.  It was classic.


The next day we took off to Montreal.  Wow what a great city.  We were only there for 4 days but did a lot of site seeing by foot and by bike.  What a great bike friendly city.  I always love being in a city.  I always come home inspired by it.  Here are a few photos.


What I learned these past few weeks is that I need to be in a different location.  I love the outdoor activities that I experienced in Reno/Tahoe and Montreal.   I love the change of seasons.  I love the different landscapes.  I have always needed to have access to the outdoors.  I once gave up a great apartment because it had no balcony.  I know Miami has a lot of great outdoor spaces but really we only get a few months of good weather to enjoy them.   As I write this its raining as usual.

Dat 243-250. September 1-9, 2013-This is getting very hard to do

As I fill my days with more things to do I am finding it very difficult to keep my resolution of getting something major done each day and blog about it.  I still have 115 days to go.  It is time to regroup.  I need to cut some of my activities in order to do that.  Funny thing is that as soon as I decided to do that I ended up with more things on my plate than should be there.

I have so much to do and it seems I am just avoiding some of them.  Now I have 2 days to get everything done and I added an appointment for Wednesday afternoon that will pretty much kill my day since it is at 2pm and about an hour north of where I need to be.  I think I better reschedule that.

So what did I do the last 8 days.

Well I catered a dinner party for my sister and her friends who were celebrating one of the girl’s new job.  That pretty much took up my whole day because of course I went crazy and made some really good stuff but it was all time consuming but delicious.  Totally worth it.  The girls were trying to convince me to do it for a living.  They were all willing to find me clients.


Prosciutto and gouda flatbreads topped with red onion and honey


Skinny chicken salad bites


Tea smoked chicken, black rice and vegetable medley


Peaches in green tea topped with organic vanilla bean ice cream


The group

I rode on the computrainer for 3 hours.  That is an accomplishment in itself as it can get boring but very much needed since it is the only way to simulate hills in Miami.  We actually rode the Augusta half ironman course.  Then I went to a birthday party.

I did some more classwork but not nearly as much as I should have.

I slept way too much.  I got into the worst routine which started by taking a nap after my morning workouts.  Then I would start my day around 12 then stay up until 1 or 2am.  Very bad situation.  No wonder I did not get anything done.

Had a free Funday Sunday with my friend Sue.  That’s what we do during football season.  As usual we had fun.

Gave my dog a bath.

Gave Steve’s car a bath.

Had a breakthrough with my swimming.  I am not a bad swimmer but my coach had us counting strokes and breathing on each stroke and for the first time I actually felt myself propel through the water.  Sort of freaked me out because it felt fast.  But it was fun.

What I learned the past few days is that I really need a full time job.  I have too much time on my hands and it gets me in trouble.  I now know that I do need some structure and accountability to keep focused.

Day 142-147. May 23-29, 2013-Family time


On the train to Miami Airport

So last week we went to Houston to spend some time with my cousins.  Apparently 2 years had past since we saw them last.  Really where does the time go.  First up was playing with the dogs.  They would not want it any other way.


Bo and Bandit

Then to William’s 8th grade graduation and Ana Maria’s birthday.  It was the plan for us to go but then we found out there was a mass and Steve and I decided not to go.  Thank God because it was 2.5 hours long.  We stayed back and enjoyed the Petite Chateau as we came to call Ana Maria’s house.  Last time we were there it was under renovation. After the graduation everyone came over for for a Thai dinner.  So good and so much fun.


View from the table as we drank wine and ate cheese

Saturday was all about getting the work outs in.  We got up and headed to the Houstonian.  I love this place, especially since when we go we get the resident’s member day pass which gets us to the nice of everything.  After the bike and swim I hit the sauna and shower.  We were a bit hungry by this point so off to lunch we went.  Cafe Lilly’s is a Lebanese restaurant and really good.  After lunch it was time for a massage.  There is a huge asian community in Houston so went to this place that fit us all in at the same time and for an hour it only cost $30.00.  They concentrate on Reflexology which I really never knew what it was but I was amazed.  I had tears in my eyes when they hit some spots on my feet but any pain that I was experiencing in my back was gone.


Awe after the massage

Then what do you know it was time for dinner.  John had stayed home cooking a paella.  It was simple and delicious.


Paella in the making


Look at that all done

Sunday we headed to Round Top to hang out with Luis and Tiffany and Ella.  They have a property with a main house and 2 cottages.  It was under construction last time we were there so it was good to see it finished.  It was beautiful.  This is the place I finally learned how to visualize a dam and how it works for my grading exam.  It was just after our visit that I finally passed that part of my Landscape Architecture test.


One of the cottages


View to the cottages

We stopped on the way to pick up a pie. Then off to the Mercantile for some sandwiches.  At the mercantile they have wines by the glass called Copas.  So cute and according to Luis the creators were on Shark Tank a few years ago.  So that was cool.  Of course I had to get one.



Copa display

When we got there Tiffany had called to say she wanted to stay at Galveston and hang out with her friend who had just turned 50.  She had gone up the night before so we didn’t get to see her.  So we ate our sandwiches and hung out in the pool.  By this point guess what we were all hungry again so we headed into town.  This place is so cute.  We went to the pizza joint for nachos and pizza.  It was not the best pizza I have ever had but the ambience was fantastic.  Great place to watch people.  We had to rush back to watch Behind the Candelabra which was premiering on HBO.  It was a very interesting movie.  We then headed out to our cottages.


Hanging with my cuz




Movie on the clearest TV I have ever seen. It was freaky.

Monday we had a great breakfast and then I got to shoot a 22 millimeter.  I have never shot before and that is something I blogged about earlier this year.  So after a safety lesson Luis hooked me up.  I did good.  I hit the target 5 times.  I was shaking so imagine if I could have gotten that under control.  I am definitely gonna try that again.

IMG_1140 IMG_1142 IMG_1146

We then headed back.  We made a pit stop at this place called Buckey’s.  This place is like a truck stop but seriously nice.  On the way to Round Top Ana Maria and Carolina were telling us all about it but we missed the one that was open on the way to Round Top.  The one we stopped at was an older and smaller one but just like they said it was spotless and they had all kinds of cool snacks and souvenirs.  We picked up a couple beer coolers.


After we got home we went on a driving tour.  I wanted to see some of the devastation at Memorial Park from the severe drought Houston has been in.  They pretty much lost about 70% of the trees.  The last couple of time we went to Houston that is where we ran since it was down the street from their old house.  It was sad to see but like I explained it is mother nature’s way of cleaning up.  This place will come back more beautiful then ever.  We also stopped at the live bridge which was really cool and a few other places before stopping for lunch (since we hadn’t eaten enough) and a trip to Trader Joe’s.  We had never been in one and we are getting one in Miami so we wanted to check it out.  Nice place.


Live bridge

Then we went back to the Petite Chateau for a dip in the pool and pack up and hang out.  Of course we had to eat once last time.


What I learned on this trip is that Houston is a really nice city.  It has a lot to offer and has so much diversity.  It is the most diverse city in the country.  I also learned that hanging out with cousins is very relaxing.  Need to do it more often.

Day 127-129. May 9-11, 2013 Massage, family, friends, work, training

Here I find myself behind on my blogging.  I am starting to get busier, helping out a few friends with some administrative work,  and am having problems getting to the computer.  I think I may try blogging every other day for awhile to see if that helps.

May 9, 2013.

Today was all about meeting up with my cousin Denise, getting a massage and meeting up with some friends in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was a perfect afternoon.  My cousin is a massage therapist among other things and whenever I can I like to get together with her and catch up and then get a massage.  On this trip I finally got to see her new place.  Its really nice and as it turns out like 5 minutes from my friends so it worked out great.

Denise had a lot to catch up on but the most fun was to hear about her trip to india.  We talked for about an hour and then it was massage time.  I have been a little stressed so she had some work to do.  It was great.

I then took off to my friend Carley and Dave’s place.  From there we took of to Las Olas for dinner.  Carley was already there getting her hair done.  She ran into some other friends and  they were going to join us for dinner.  It ended up not working out because they had their dog and the restaurant outside sitting was full.  So we talked for a bit.  They invited me to spend a few weeks in Newport this summer.  May take them up on it since Steve will be up there.

We then proceeded to dinner.  Dave has had a hard week so we ordered wine first.  Polished off 2 bottles with dinner.  Then we went back to their house and kept the wine flowing.  Up until 2am solving all the world’s problems.  So much fun.

What I learned today is I need to get massages more often.  I shouldn’t wait until i am all mangled.

May 10, 2013.

Today was about getting home and getting some work done.  I tried but couldn’t because the office was changing internet and phone so I could not log on.  I had no idea this was happening.  So i took the rest of the day to relax and clean up a bit.

What I learned today is that it’s great to have technology keep you from working.

May 11, 2013.

Today was about getting serious about my half ironman training.  It is time.  I am all recovered from my severe sinus infection and eye injury.  After all that I have been struggling to get going again.  So today I was determined.  I had a 2 hour and 15 minute ride.  Its a base building workout so I needed to stay in zone 2-3 for my heart rate.  On the way out there was a big head wind.  It was hard to maintain those zones so we went very slow.  Average 12 mph.  I wanted to go faster but I kept in my zones.  On the way back it was fun.  The wind was behind us so we were able to go a bit faster.


Our bikes at Homestead Marina-Turn around point


My biking buddy


All done

What I learned today is that it doesn’t take much to get your heart rate up in a head wind.  I also learned that you can maintain your heart rate by dropping gears.  I had never noticed that before.  Probably since I never rode with my heart rate monitor.  The other thing I was working on today is to concentrate on pulling up as I pedal.  I have never really paid attention to that so today I wanted to practice.  It was interesting to see how my heart rate dropped when I was doing that as well.  This year I will make sure I follow the heart rate zones and see how I improve from last year.  I can’t wait.

Day 80. March 23, 2013-Pictures and more pictures

Today there were a few things going on like an egg hunt at Trijungle and getting some drawings finished for a project.  But my task for the day was to get pictures and slides ready to send off to scan.  A colleague of mine told me about Scancafe where you send your pictures and they scan and send back to you at a pretty decent price.  You have several options and if you buy a package it really is cheap.  Go to http://www.scancafe.com and check out this really cool company.

This is a big job as I am a picture freak and always have been.  I have tons of pictures and just as many slides.  I decided to buy a package so I need to figure out the number of pictures I will be sending.  I started with the pictures I had in boxes.  They were divided by places and labeled.  As I was counting I threw out pictures that were not that great.  I then put them into baggies and labeled them with the amount of pictures. That was going pretty good but then I started running into cute pictures and I started remembering things.  So then I was like ok, I’ll take a picture of this and text it or put it on Facebook.  It will only take a minute.  Well that ended up taking longer because people started texting back and then it turned into a conversation and well I am sure you can just imagine how my project came to a almost a complete stop.

Here are a few pictures that I found.


Me, Ana and Debbie in the keys


Lena and Autumn at 1st family reunion


Carlos (holding Michael), Lena, Gonzo, Cheryl and Autumn at 1st family reunion


John Michael and Tia Tota at 1st family renion


Ana Maria and Tia Tota at 1st family reunion


Tony and Autumn at 1st family reunion


Stacy, Mary, Mel and me at some high school party


I then moved on to my slides.  I have slides that were in sleeves and some that were in little boxes.  I imagine the ones in the sleeves were the ones I had in carousels.  Those would have been my best slides.  It has been so long since I have looked at these that I can not remember why I had some in boxes.  I even had boxes labeled duds.  I am completely mystified as why I would keep slides that I once deemed duds.  Not knowing for sure I had to check them.  This took awhile since I had to compare with the ones in the sleeves.  I ended up staring a stack of I am not sure what to do with these.  I guess I will determine that when I get a final count for my package.  CRAZY I know.

I did not finish this task today but I made really good progress.  I will finish up the slides and then send this pile off.  I will then deal with the photo albums.  They are not in my way at the moment.  I will send them off when they are.

What I learned today is that it is really fun to look at pictures and run into old memories. A perfect example is the picture of my girlfriends and me.  I would never had remembered that party had I not seen the picture.  Once I saw the picture I remember it.  I even remember the shoes I was wearing all though you can’t see them in this picture.  Another example is the picture with Ana (my sister) and Debbie (my cousin).  We had gotten in a text conversation after I sent her the picture and she said she had not remembered how much time we had spent together as kids.  I can not wait to get all of the pictures scanned.  I can then do slideshows and have them running on my computer.  It will be fun to run into old memories at random times.  I can’t wait to see what happens.

Day 31. January 31, 2013-Today was all about my cousin Raquelita

I have a bunch of cousins and I mean a bunch, but Raquelita is special because a long time ago she took a 3 month sabbatical from her high powered job and Miami was one of her stops.  She was supposed to say a few weeks but ended up staying the 3 months.  I was getting my masters at the time and well because I had a flexible schedule we hung out a lot and did all the touristy things that she wanted to do and I loved it because I was able to get to know my cousin who I admired because she was so awesome.  Raquel is one of the older cousins and I am one of the younger ones.  So I always looked up to her.  So the time that she spent in Miami was great because we became very good friends.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time with her and she has given advice to me and I have learned from her and she has asked me for advice and she had listened and appreciated my off the wall way of thinking.  It has been awesome.  One of things that I love about her is that whatever I am up to its cool.  I remember coming back from a trip to Abu Dhabi and I was telling her about the tobacco that I started smoking in this little pipe.  She was like do you have some and I said yes.  And she said well you can smoke inside if you want.  How cool is that.

I remember a time when I was at her place in NYC and she was giving me the low down on her neighborhood.  She told me about the butcher, where to buy cheese, the fruit and vegetable place and then she went to work.  I told her to arrange dinner for her parents and her sister and brother and I would cook.  It was hilarious.  I cooked this great dinner and she was like where did you get all of this food.  I was like in all the places you told me.  She was shocked.  She actually had never been in those places.  She always had take out or went out.  Well it really did explain the condition of her kitchen.  That was like 12 years ago.  Today she told me she was re-doing the kitchen because the stove finally broke.  Well 12 years ago that stove was ancient.  So I guess it is time to lay it to rest.  Can’t wait to cook in the new kitchen.

Lately she has been busy so if there is an opportunity to get together even for 3 hours I jump at the chance.  Like last year she came down for a weekend and my mom had a party for her to celebrate her marriage and it was the night before the ING marathon which I was running. I was like ok I am not going to miss the party.  So I proceeded to stay up until 3am to hang out with her and then ran a half (13.1 miles) marathon.  So I was a bit slower than usual but who cares.  It is Raquelita.

Last night she sent me a text.  Do I want to meet her at 11am to meet with the chef from the Palms hotel in Miami Beach and have a tour of her organic garden.  I was like YES.  So off I went.  Disregarding all other plans.  It was awesome.  The chef explained all the different herbs, the issues of the garden on the beach and how she over came them.  This meeting was perfect as I am working on my own garden.  I have a new list of things that I want to grow that I didn’t know about before.  We then had some lunch and then hung out at the pool.  We talked and then made our way back to South Miami to have dinner with my sister Elena.  Some pictures from today.



What I learned today is that no matter how busy we are you have to take time for your family and friends.  We both took some time to take care of business but were still able to fit in the garden tour and sit by the pool.  We talked a lot and determined that really in today’s time you do not have to sit in an office to get the work done.  It was a great day.