Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

Way back in July, in one of my first posts, I listed out some personal goals I had for the year.   So how did I do?  

1) Go to Italy - great time; biked alot, met fabulous people, ate wonderful food,  and got to see Lance Armstrong race live in the Giro D'Italia.   I still keep in touch with many of the people I met on the trip and am looking forward to hopefully meeting up with them again sometime! 

2) My second goal was to see Lance Armstrong race live in his comeback year.   This was done while in Italy, see above link for pics!  

3)  My 3rd and 4th goals had to do with athletic accomplishments.   Looking back at the year, I have completed:  5 - 5k's, a 4 miler, a 10 miler, 3 - 1/2 marathons, and a triathlon in each distance (sprint, olympic, 1/2 IM, and full IM).  I also did 5 century rides, including, Pelotonia where I got to see Lance Armstrong for the 2nd time in a year.   Of the races that I participated in, I had a PR in every distance except for the 1/2 marathon.   So, all in all, I think it was an excellent year and I far exceeded anything I thought I could do in a given year! 

4) Stay healthy:  overall this was also accomplished, I made it to the start of all of my main races injury free and I didn't get the H1N1 virus (thus far) so I will call this a success!

5) Spend more time with family and friends.   Despite all of the training that I did, I still feel that I accomplished this goal!   I spent plenty of time with my family, we traveled to South Dakota for the first ever Kurtenbach Family Reunion;

Went on a family adventure to Hocking Hills for a zipline course;

Had no fewer than 5 meals together as a family (this is tough since my sister moved to LA) and took an updated family shot;

Met up in Phoenix for IMAZ and Thanksgiving:

I got to spend alot of time with CT's family, in fact we started the year in Boston;

Met up in the middle of the year for a 1/2 IM in Michigan and a family sprint tri in Lima, Ohio;

Phoenix for IMAZ;

and fnished off the year in Lima, for Christmas!

As far as friends go, I was able to spend quite a bit of time running, riding, and eating with friends.   In fact, I couldn't have met the majority of my goals above without them!  

I would love to list my stats for the year, but I have no idea!   Instead I will simply list out what I have done since the last post:

Stats for the last 11 days:
12/17/09: 45 minute run, with some hills
12/18/09:  55 minute swim
12/19/09: 10 mile run, no timing
12/20/09: rest
12/21/09: 40 minute run
12/22/09: 45 minute core strength/LE stretch
12/23/09: rest
12/24/09: 45 minute run
12/25/09: 50 minutes on the trainer, 30 minute strength/stretch
12/26/09:  8.1 mile run, no timing
12/27/09:  5.4 mile trail run at Highbanks, no timing

And of course, the most important thing I accomplished this year is the bragging rights to:
1) Declare that I am an Ironman!

2)  Get a matching tattoo to my boyfriend's:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Okay, I have a confession to make.   I have done absolutely all of the wrong things for my "recovery" the past 2 weeks.   I didn't even look at the recommended recovery plan since my last blog entry.   I have eaten very badly, drank alot of alcohol and coffee, exercised very little, and slept very erratic hours.   Terrible, especially since I am a PT and should know better.   

Things have been a little hectic.   My sister, Lora,  has been in town for the past 10 days so I have visited quite a bit with her and my family.   She was here b/c my dad had a pretty major surgery, he had an acoustic neuroma removed and was in the hospital most of last week.   My mom, sister, and I took shifts throughout the week to make sure he had a familiar face at the hospital for most of his stay.   This combined with still trying to work, left me very little time to exercise.  

There was also a Cheryl's Cookies on the way from the parking garage to my Dad's room.   Unfortunate for me because this is my absolute favorite local cookie company and they were having a "sale" each day where you could get 5 cookies for $5.   Needless to say, I could not pass this up and I am still finding cookies in random pockets and in various bags from last week!   I also managed to eat out about every evening and had at least one or two medium mochas per day.   My dad did very well with his recovery at the hosptial and was sent home on Friday.  CT and I "celebrated"  and finished out the week with a pizza and wine festival on Saturday night.   Let's just say, by Sunday I had a food/wine hangover like I haven't experienced in years, it wasn't a good day.

I was determined to start out this week better since my dad is now at home (doing much better) and I took some time off of work to spend time with him and my family.   It did start out well with a nice run through Sharon Woods Park on Monday.   Of course I haven't worked out since, preferring to bake and cook for the past two days.   Yesterday I spent all day in the kitchen and today I was too tired to go run.  I also found that I packed the inappropriate clothes for an outdoor run (I don't think 3/4 length shorts and a t-shirt works for 20 degree weather) and I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to run on an indoor track or dreadmill!  

On the flip side, I have gotten to spend some quality time with the family; we sat down together for 3 different meals, something we haven't done in years.  And, with all the homecooked meals and baked goods that Lora and I made, my dad is finally finding his appetite (which I am convinced will help him to continue with a great recovery)!  

Here are recipes for some of the wonderful things we prepared yesterday:
  • Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons
  • Winter Salad
  • Chicken Tortialla Soup: (from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook)
    • 4 breast halves, cooked and shredded
    • 1 garlic clove minced
    • 2 tsp. margarine
    • 2 - 14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
    • 2 - 14 1/2 oz cans stewed tomatoes
    • 1 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot - your choice)
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • 1 TBS cumin
    • shredded cheese mix of your choice (optional)
    • sour cream (optional)
    • tortilla chips (optional)
      • Add margarine and garlic to slow cooker, saute on high.  Add remaining ingredients except cheese, sour cream and chips; reduce heat to low and cook 6-8 hours.  Once ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Lora and I also made Christmas Cut-Outs from my Grandmother's recipe.   I made the cookies and Lora frosted them!  

Sugar Cookies:
1 cup butter
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Mix together and set aside.
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Once mixed, combine with flour mixture.  Let chill in the refrigerator until stiff.   Once rolled out and made into cut-outs, bake on ungreased baking pan 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.   Wait until cookies are cooled to frost.

My stats for the last 10 days:
Sunday: rest
Monday:  45 minute run
Tuesday: 45 minute strength/stretch
Wed: 40 minute run
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest
Saturday:  6 mile run, no timing
Sunday: rest
Monday: 4 mile run, no timing
Tuesday: rest
Wed (today):  rest

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recovery: Week 2

Post Race Training Plan: Week 2 (per Dr. Devor, based on a running program/post marathon):
  • Training goal:
    • Resume regular running:  by "regular running"  if he means placing one foot in front of the other and advancing faster than if I were just walking, then I am getting there!
      • Keys to achieve goal
        • Easy runs of 20 - 60 minutes - done!  I was able to complete 3 runs last week that were between 30-45 minutes in length.
        • Run with friends and keep conversational pace - unfortunately I didn't run with anyone but myself last week.  I did, however, run with my ipod and sing along.   I am sure the people at the DHC were not thrilled with this, but it did entertain me!
        • No more than 70% of maximum HR - I didn't wear a HR monitor last week, but I am pretty sure I did this, I didn't push myself on any of my runs! 
        • Mileage goal for week:
          • 25% to 50% of average pre-marathon week - Considering I only ran about 10 miles total for the week, I know I acheived this goal! 

Maybe all of Lance's runs have really been training to eventually become an Ironman!  Earlier this year, he confirmed that he would like to do IM Hawaii "sometime in the future"

Stats for Last Week:
Monday:  30 minute easy run, 30 minute core strength/stretch
Tuesday:  rest day
Wed:  30 minute easy run, 30 minute light strength/stretch
Thursday:  2800 swim (400 warm up, 8x75 on 1:30, 400x1 kicks, 8x75 on 1:30, 400 x 1 pull, 3x50 drill - body roll, 200 cool down).
Friday:  rest
Saturday:  45 minute easy run
Sunday:  3+ hours Christmas Shopping


It has been a little over 2 weeks since I finished IMAZ and I am still basking in the fact that I am an Ironman.   I still get giddy everytime I think about it and wear my "Ironman Finisher" gear any chance I get.  

So how am I doing so far?   Actually much better than I thought.   The first few days I was sore, but it felt similar to that feeling after you have done a marathon.

 By the Wed after the race I no longer hurt just walking around and by that Saturday I was able to do a little light jogging.  Last week I tried to slowly get back into some cross training by doing some swimming and light strength training mixed in with some shorter/easy runs.   Being the good athelete and PT that I am, I decided to finally look at Dr. Devor's Post-Race Recovery Program today.   Hmm, perhaps I should have looked at this a little sooner?   Per his guidlines, and the length of the race (14 hours)  I should have a recovery period of at least 56 days!  

This is a sample of the first week, let's see how I did:
Post Race Recovery and Training Again:
  • Post Race Training Plan: Week 1
    • Recover as quickly as possible - don't we all try to do this?  
      • Keys to achieve goal
        • Minimal easy running - done, I did a walk/run one day and a light run of 30 minutes the Saturday after the race.
        • Cross training (e.g., ride, swim, elliptical) - hmm, does walking around ASU's campus for a few hours and baking for a few hours count?
        • Massage and extra sleep - done, I had my post-race massage and pedicure the Tuesday following and I didn't wake up to an alarm for the entire week following!
        • Frequent high carbohydrate meals - done, this wasn't hard to do the week of Thanksgiving.   I also stayed with one of my favorite foodies Liz Brinkman,and we managed to hit the town for Sushi, Wine, and gourmet pizza!   I also convinced her to help me make Carmel Rolls from my grandmother's recipe.   I am pretty sure these fall under the catagory of "high carbohydrate" and I know I ate them with several meals!  
        • Mileage goal for week
          • No more than 25% of average pre-marathon week - pretty sure I accomplished this, I didn't run more than 4 miles the week following the IM! 

Grandma Kurtenbach's Cinnamon Carmel Rolls:
Dissolve 2 pkgs. yeast, 1 level tsp. sugar in a bowl with 1/2 cup lukewarm water.
Add 1/2 cup shortening and 2 cups (scalded milk)
Add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 beaten eggs, and 2 level teaspoons salt. 
Slowly add "about 7 cups" of flour until dough reaches desired consistency.

Knead the bread dough into a ball.  

Cover the bowl, set aside in a warm, dry place and let rise until the dough doubles in size.  Mix down and let rise again.   Shape into rolls:  Roll dough out on floured surface until about 1/2 inch thick.   Spread with 1/2 cup melted butter or maragarine.   Mix 3/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspons cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough/butter.   Roll up and slice.   Put into 9 x 13 pans (on top of carmel sauce) and let rise again until doubled in size.  

Carmel Sauce: (for one 9 x 13 pan):
Over med-low heat on stove, mix together, stirring the whole time, and heat until just combined:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons karo corn syrup. 

Once carmel sauce is done, pour into pans and top with rolls.   Once rolls have risen to double size, bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until rolls start to turn golden.   Remove from oven, turn over onto a cookie sheet and let cool before eating! 

Stats for Thanksgiving week:
Monday:  Rest, managed to walk a few miles, slowly, to go to the free breakfast buffet and then later in the day toured ASU's campus with my cousin.
Tuesday:  30 minute walk around the neighborhood, 90 minute massage, 30 minute pedicure
Wed:  30 minute walk around neighborhood, 3+ hours baking
Thursday:  40 minute walk/run around the neighborhood, 20 minutes floating on a noodle in my aunt/uncles pool.
Friday:  Rest, most of the day spent traveling back to Ohio
Saturday:  easy 30 minute run
Sunday:  Rest

Monday, November 30, 2009

Athletes that Inspire

I am an Ironman.   I don't ever think I will get tired of saying this.   It is a great feeling of accomplishment and it has been years in the making!   I also realized a told my mom a fib.   After watching CT participate in an Ironman for the first time, she asked if I would ever want to do one.   I distinctly remember saying "no way, that is crazy!"   Sorry Mom, I guess I am eating those words now.  

I have always liked to watch the Ironman Events.  CT has just completed his 4th IM this year and I have watched, spectated for 3 of them.   Our friend Julie did her first last year, and we went and watched her.   We also record all of the Ironman Specials on TV and I have watched IronmanLive so many times I can't even count anymore.   I guess something kind of funny happened along the way and the more I watched these events, the more I came to believe that I could do one too.   Yes, I am still in awe that I was able to complete this fantastic event, but I wouldn't have even tried it if it hadn't have been for some of these inspiring people:   

Jon "Blazeman" Blais:  Finisher of Ironman Hawaii 2006 after being diagnosed with ALS. 

Sarah Reinertsen:  The first female below the knee amputee to finish an Ironman (IM Hawaii Finisher 2005) featured in ESPN Magazines "The Body"  Issue in Oct. 2009

Team Hoyt:  Together (with Dick pushing/pulling his son Rick) these two have completed 1009 races as of Sept. 2009, including, 6 IM's, and 27 Boston Marathons.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson:  First bilateral above the knee amputee to finish an Ironman (IMAZ 2009)  Winner of multiple gold medals in the Paraolympics in swimming. 

So, the next time you are feeling completely unmotivated and don't have the confidence to think you can do something, read one of these stories, which are sure to inspire.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMAZ Race Report

So I am officially an Ironman!   It has taken me awhile to post my race report, as I wanted to get some pictures first.   As you can imagine, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to wait until I recieved some from CT and my family.  Well, here it goes, the full race report:

Woke up early in the morning to a cool crisp outdoor temp of about 48 degrees, after a quick bite, CT and I headed down to the race so I could check my bike one last time, get body marked, etc. before the race start.   Most everything is "athlete's only"  so CT took a quick picture then went to find a good spot for the swim start!

I am not sure what the water temp was but I would have to guess somewhere in the 62 degree range. Having a full wetsuit helped.  The start is an in-water start and there is no beach to wade in to Tempe Town Lake. It has cement sides and I had to jump in, swim a few hundred yards to the starting line and then tread water - while waiting for the race to start!

The swim start is one of the best parts of the race to watch as a spectator, it is an awesome site to see 2600 people all treading water, then a mass start as the cannon goes off!   As a participant though, it is horrific! There are arms and legs everywhere, people are just trying to get through, I was getting bumped, hit, scratched across the face, and felt like people were trying to swim over me, all while I was trying to avoid doing the same to other people.

Fortunately, I was able to get clear after the first 15 minutes or so, the course was one loop and the first half felt like it took forever! Once I made the turn though, the second half went much better! And amazingly after 1:24:36 hours, I had completed 2.4 miles of swimming!!

Once out of the water, the amazing volunteers are there to help, First was a stop with the "strippers" to help take off the wetsuit, it took 2 people to help with mine!  Next, I had to run what seemed like forever to go get my gear bag and then into a tent to get changed. My volunteer was awesome! She had a big towel already spread out and she dumped out my bag and organized everthing. All I could do was just sit there and stupidly look around, she pretty much dressed me and told me what to do next, i.e. "I think we need to put on your sports bra first!" After a 16 minute T1 I made it out of the transition and onto the bike course. I think if the volunteer wasn't there it would have taken me much longer!

The bike course was 3 loops and the first loop we had a headwind going out, also there is a slight incline up for at least 15 miles of the loop before you turn around to head back. So, at times I was only going about 12 MPH but I didn't want to push it as it was only my first loop. I also witnessed a guy crash right in front of me. I was kind enough to ask if he was okay, as I went around him, but I opted not to stop and kept going. Once I got to the turn around there was a nice tailwind and we were going downhill, so it was smooth sailing from there. At one point I looked down and saw 25 mph and I wasn't even pedalling! Nice! As I headed back into town for the turn around I got to see all of my fans (my mom, my sister Lora, my cousin Taylor, my boyfriend CT, Dan, and Meredith)! It was a great to see them all and helped to lift my spirits.

The second loop was much of the same except the wind changed and we had a headwind going each direction, so it slowed me down a bit. I did take some time to look around, many of the fluid/bathroom stops had themes and the volunteers were dressed up. I almost hit an orange cone checking out the 20 something year old men in speedos at one of the stops! Before I knew it, I was heading into town again to make the final turn before going out on the final loop, and my fans were still there!

By the 3rd loop I was ready to get off the bike (mainly because my butt hurt) yet my legs never felt tired and I think this helped me. I was definately able to speed up and it seemed like I passed alot of people on the last 15 miles or so. It was also great to see my family as I headed down the final couple hundred yards into transition. My hydration/nutrition plan worked great - almost too great, I had to stop 3 times to go to the bathroom, I am pretty sure this added at least 20 minutes to my overall bike time! So, after 7:01:27 hours, I had finished biking 112 miles!

T2 was easier, the volunteers took my bike, got my bag and I went back into the tent again. This time I only had to change my shoes, socks, and at the last minute I also decided to change my shorts. As I stood up to change, I happened to glance behind me and realized I was in plain view of the exit and there were 5 male volunteers standing just outside the door. Good thing I looked before changing, they almost got a full moon! So, after 6 minutes I was out on the run course.

As I headed out my faithful fans were there to cheer me on again! It was good to see my mom ,Lora, Taylor, CT, and Dan again! I was also thrilled as I knew I would finish the IM, even if I had to walk most of the marathon portion. It was 3:45pm and I was heading out to the run!! At this point, I actually had no idea what my overall race time was. At 48 minutes into the swim, somehow, my stopwatch got stopped and I never restarted it. My brain was also a little befuddled and I couldn't do the math to figure out how long it had been since 7am. Just as well, I think it took the pressue off of my run.

The run course was also a 3 loop (figure 8) design. My plan for the first 1/2 was to try and run to each water stop and then walk through the water stops. I had a nutrition plan as well, but after my 2nd gu this pretty much went out the window. I felt bloated, nausea was setting in, I had a side cramp, and I couldn't imagine trying to put anything else into my stomach! So I started trying just fluids; gatorade was too sugary, the chicken broth tasted good it was so salty that I felt like my lips were sticking to my teeth, I tried coke once but all it did was make me burp. So for a few miles all I could handle was water. About this time I saw my entire family (mom, Lora, Taylor, and my Aunt Elaine and Uncle Jim) cheering me on - which was awesome!

A little ways down I spotted Dan and CT. It was the boost I needed to help start the 2nd lap!! I decided to try some pretzels because I knew I needed some calories and salt - this actually tasted good, so for about the next 4-5 miles this (and water) is what I ate at the stops and it really helped to settle my stomach down. Just past mile 12 I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. CT was standing by the side grinning at me and asking how I was doing! But it wasn't a dream, he was actually there! CT then settled into a little jog and kept me company for a bit. He also gave me some advice (he completed his 4th IM earlier this year) "make sure you are getting sugar!" and told me I looked good so far. It was great to see him and then a little ways up, there were my fans again!!

The 13 mile sign was just beyond this - 1/2 way through the marathon!!! Woo Hoo!! Then I hit mile 14. Yikes! I was dizzy, having trouble breathing, and just plain tired. So, I slowed down to a walk, gathered my thoughts and changed my plan a bit. At this point I decided to try and run for 5 minutes, then walk a minute (the rest of the race). I also decided that I would walk up any hill that I encountered and I would still walk through all the water stops. I also thought about CT's advice and realized I needed to get some sugar in me. I decided to try and orange - too acidic, I only did one slice, then I tried grapes - not too bad!! So every stop after that I would take 2 grapes, 2 pretzel sticks, and water. It worked and the rest of the run went pretty well. Heading into the 3rd loop I saw everyone again including Julie, Chris, and Liz - who I hadn't seen before! I don't really remember too much about the last loop until I had about 3 miles left. At this point I had just passed the 23 mile sign and was walking - the biggest hill on the course was at this point. The moon and stars were out, and because I was nearing the top of a hill - I looked out over the city and could see all the twinkling lights. I could also see the finish line across the lake and could hear the announcer saying ". . .You are an Ironman" This is was my favorite memory of the race, I felt so peaceful and was very calm. I was grateful for all of my family and friends that helped to make this happen, and I could just feel the positive energy that everyone gave me! I am pretty sure I smiled the rest of the race from then on. As I passed the 25 mile sign, I blew the volunteer a kiss - I know he thought I was a lunatic. Coming down that finishing stretch was incredible. I was  by myself so the announcer, Mike, pretty much gave an autobiography. "# 2442, Ann Kurtenbach, from Dublin, Ohio. This is Ann's first Ironman - how does it feel?" I remember pumping my fists up in the air and the crowd cheering even louder. After 14:11:26 hours, I started slapping people's hands and as I neared the pearly gates of the IM finish line I heard those sweet words "Ann Kurtenbach - YOU are an Ironman!"

Before I knew it, I was being swept along by my very own volunteer, given a bottle of water, a medal, a finishers t-shirt and hat, had my picture taken, and was pretty much shoved out of the post-race area, once they knew I wasn't going to pass out or anything worse. 
It all happened so fast that I realized I didn't get to do "The Blazeman" Roll across the finish line, that I originally planned to do . . .

Fortunately my family was there to meet me, give me plenty of cheers, and call CT, Dan, and Liz (they were still waiting for me around mile 25.5 and didn't realize I had finished).  Once CT found us, he gathered  my stuff, took a few pictures,  and he and my family took everything so I wouldn't have to carry any of it back to the hotel!  After a shower, I even had enough energy to go out for a bite and a celebratory beer! 

Stats for the Day:
Swim: 1:24:34
T1: 16:04
Bike: 7:01:28
T2: 6:20
Run:  5:23:03
Total Time:  14:11:26