Book Review – Plague of Giants

I’m nearly caught up with my backlog of reviews, but I’ve noticed that I seem to be developing a bad habit where I read the first book in a series and then move on to a different author and series before finishing the one I had just started. In the next few months, I’m going to make an effort to go back to finish some series that I’ve started so you’ll see a lot of book 2 and book 3’s here. But first… another new series:

I recently read the first book in a new series by Kevin Hearne that I had received as an advance copy at New York Comic-Con in 2017. Yep, 2017, that’s how far behind I am in the to-be-read pile.

Plague of Giants Cover

A Plague of Giants is Book 1 of the Seven Kennings series and takes us to a fantastic realm filled with humanoid races, each having an associated kenning, or magical affinity to something in the natural world – fire, water, air, earth, or plants. At the opening of the novel, only five kennings are known, and I think that the search for other kennings will be part of the ongoing story.

This book is several tales woven into one, and is told as a story within a story. The bard Fintan uses his kenning to take the form of each important character in the development of a recent war and tells their story to the city of Pelemyn. While the people there know how their own city has managed in the war, Fintan entertains them with details from other parts of the world. At the same time, he instigates some political drama, with all of this part of the book being told by a historian sent to record the bard’s tale.

Fintan’s story follows several point-of-view characters through a time when two separate catastrophes strike. The action begins when Tallynd du Böll, a tidal mariner from Pelemyn, defends the city from an approaching fleet of strange ships. Her kenning gives her the ability to breathe underwater, swim at incredible speeds, and manipulate water. Tallynd detects an invading army of bizarre giants approaching the city, and they are clearly aggressive.

The tidal mariner surges into action to defend the city, using water to swamp the ships and drown the giants. She manages to single-handedly defeat most of the enemy, but at a cost. When a kenning is used to perform great feats, it ages the user relative to the power exerted.

The invasion of the Bone giants is half of the book’s focus, alternating with a second group of troublesome giants, the Hathrim.

The giants of the Hathrim clan live on the slopes of an active volcano and have long known that their days of safety are going to come to an end. Their part of the story opens when the volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate. The Hathrim had prepared for this eventuality and managed to get many of their people and supplies loaded on their famous glass boats in time to escape.

However, instead of seeking refuge with another clan of giants, their leader, Gorin Mogen, dares to lay claim to a piece of land along the southern edge of Ghurana Nent. The Nentians see through the giants’ claims that they are only there temporarily, but since the Nentians lack a kenning, they are forced to use political and unaugmented military strength against the fire-wielding Hathrim.

As the plot unfolds, Fintan relates the stories of numerous point-of-view characters, and there is truly no singular protagonist in the book.

The plot came to a more satisfying conclusion that I would normally expect from the first book in a series. One main plot thread is concluded while hinting at further problems from that quarter. However, many lesser political intrigues are just emerging, so I expect that aspect to play a greater role in upcoming volumes.

I had fun reading this book and the world and magic was easy to understand. I read an advance-copy which did not include the map, but I found one on the author’s website to reference. I like to have a visual reference for where different nations are located in regard to each other. Looking at maps also helps me to remember place names at the outset of a book.

I’m not sure when the next book in the Seven Kennings series will be out, but I’ll be sure to pick it up.


Coming Soon – Eagleman 2019

Funny story…

I raced in Eagleman in 2017 for my first Ironman-branded event, as well as my first 70.3-mile (half distance) triathlon. Prior to that, I had only completed sprint distance triathlons and two half marathons. I had never swam that far in open water, and had only ridden that distance once before on my bike. I had spent a good amount of my time training up to the running distance, since that is a weak point for me.

The day of Eagleman came, and I raced. I felt great during the swim, despite getting a little lost on one turn and being swum over by another age group. I started out strong on my bike and felt fast until I was about two-thirds of the way through the course.

Swag

From there on, my stomach complained and I became dizzy with more exertion. In hindsight, I believe I was dehydrated, but at the time I didn’t know that that was how my body would react. I started the run barely being able to walk, but finally found a jog-walk strategy that helped me keep moving. By the last 3 miles of the race, I really couldn’t run at all, but I kept moving and made my way to the finish.

I had been hoping for a better time, but with the heat and dehydration, I just couldn’t move any faster. This past season, my races were all hilly, so it has been tough for me to compare times between any races so far.

Since I now have a couple more races under my belt, I have been thinking ahead about goals for next triathlon season. I don’t do too badly in the shorter events, but I’d like to get faster overall. I signed up to race in the New Jersey State Triathlon in July, for both the sprint and the Olympic distances.

I had been thinking that I would do another 70.3, but it was a toss up between Ironman Connecticut 70.3 (formerly Rev3 Quassy Half), Eagleman, Ironman Atlantic City 70.3, or something a little further afield. My thoughts kept going back to Eagleman and that flat, hot course.

Last week I received an email announcing that all of the Tier 3 entries for Eagleman had sold out. That means that the race was down to the last tier of entries and would likely sell out completely. If I wanted to race Eagleman next season, I needed to decide soon. This race has also been designated as the tri club championship for 2019, which has probably added to the entries.

When I raced Eagleman in 2017, my brother also did the race, and my cousin, sister-in-law, and a friend completed a relay. My husband had considered doing the bike portion of the relay with them, but ultimately decided against it. I know that he’s said a few times that he wished he had ridden in it.

I brought it up to him and mentioned that the race was likely to sell out soon. By the end of the night, we had both signed up. He’s in for a relay and I’m racing the whole thing. Now I just have to figure out how to hydrate and go faster. I guess I’m starting a training plan again in December!

Graphic Novel Review – Monstress Volume 1 (Awakening)

I picked this graphic novel up at New York Comic-Con last year (2017) and only got around to reading it now. Fortunately, I was able to get the second volume at this year’s event, because this was a beautiful, albeit dark and violent, book. Monstress Volume 1 – Awakening is written by Marjorie Liu with artwork by Sana Takeda.

Monstress 1

I was first interested in this graphic novel because I loved the artwork. The mixture of Egyptian and steampunk themes on the cover and opening pages was enough to draw me in. When the book added demons, cats, and a dark and compelling protagonist, I was hooked.

Monstress tells the story of Maika Halfwolf and initially switches between glimpses of her past and her current scheme to infiltrate the stronghold of the human witches who are experimenting upon the Arcanics (her people). Maika doesn’t remember much of her past, having mysteriously survived the catacysmic end of a great battle between humans and the Arcanics.

As the plot unfolds, I was immediately sympathetic toward Maika because of her mistreatment at the hands of the humans, and the nature of their cruel experiments. When Maika discovers herself to be inhabited by a demon, she gets a pass for what she is forced to do to survive because she is not wholly in control of her actions. She both uses the demon against her enemies, and fights against it, in her journey to find revenge against the humans and relearn her past.

There are definitely some dark moments in this story, ranging from the murder of children to questions about cannibalism. However, cats feature prominently and bring some levity to the rest of the book.

While Monstress definitely isn’t for everyone, I enjoyed it and will be reading Volume 2 in the next few months.


Upcoming Events (Nov 2018 – 2019)

Well I’m out of races to write about because the triathlon season here in New Jersey is essentially over. I don’t want to swim outside unless the water is at least 70 degrees, so any time from mid-September through May is out for me. That means that it’s time to look ahead at what events I’m competing in for this season in fencing, as well as triathlon in 2019.

CJTC Turkey Tri

Well, I guess I do have a triathlon to race in November. This one is put on by my local tri club and is a self-guided indoor (or partially outdoor) triathlon. Competitors will pick one day between November 21 and 25th and will complete a swim, bike, and run all on the same day. They don’t need to be back-to-back, but I’m not sure if they need to be in the traditional triathlon order or not. I’ll have to pick up my athlete packet to find out, I guess.

Everyone tracks their workouts and reports in on their times. I think there are age group awards, but this is my first year participating in this event, so I’m not really sure. But in any case, it’s a good excuse to get some workouts in over a weekend where everyone is typically focused on eating.

US Fencing North American Cup (December NAC)

This is the first of three national-level events that I will be competing in this year and is being held in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have entered the Vet-40 and Veteran Open events in Women’s Sabre, and chose to forego the Division II and Division I events this time. I could technically fence on all four days (one event per day), but the entry fees and travel expenses make it tougher to commit to that.

IMAG0428

This is what a NAC looks like.

Division II isn’t an unreasonable event for me (I think I finished top 16 in the last one where I had a decent day), but Division I is tough. If I remember right, I believe that my last Division I event had me facing Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis in my first bout (I did get one point on her).

Thrust Fall ROC

This is a regional fencing event in December which features both Division I-A and Division II options. I’m going to fencing both days/events, and I’m hoping that it will be a good warm-up for the NAC that takes place on the following weekend. If I fence well, I can qualify for Summer Nationals.

Tri-State Veteran Cup Events

This is a series of fencing competitions held in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area, and is limited to athletes in the Veteran age groups (40+) and is only held for sabre.

I finished second in the first event of the year, and there are at least four more this season. I probably won’t make it to all of them, but I’m planning on at least two more, depending on my work schedule.

Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

This will be my first time participating in the Lifetime Fitness series of triathlons. This chain of fitness centers runs this event in January all over the country. I’ll be competing in Florham Park, NJ on January 20th. I don’t have any particular goals for this race (yet) because I’m not really sure what to expect with the indoor format.

New Jersey Half-Marathon

This is a race that I’m undecided about for now. I feel like I need to have an event on the horizon in order to motivate me to run. Otherwise I tend to focus on just fencing and cycling (which is fine, but not if I want to do triathlons). The half-marathon distance is a good stretch on the distance for me, but is also something that I know I can finish (and hopefully improve my time).

What Else, Isn’t That Enough?

I’m sure I’ll find more fencing events as the season progresses, and then there are those other two national-level events ahead also. But it’s too far away to plan and think about those for now. I’m considering a 70.3-distance triathlon, but haven’t decided on which one. Oh, and maybe I’ll do another cycling time trial? I have plenty to keep me busy!


Book Review – How He-Man Mastered the Universe

This was a bit of an unusual read that I picked up through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. The book had actually been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while, but I’m trying to do better to catch up on my backlog of reading, so I picked it to read in the week leading up to New York Comic-Con.

HeManCover

I grew up watching the He-Man and She-Ra cartoons, so I thought that I might like How He-Man Mastered the Universe by Brian C. Baer, and I was certainly familiar enough with the cartoons and toys, even if I could no longer remember the names of every single character. This book was fun to read, but is probably only of interest to fans of the television show or toys, or to people who like to learn about film history, as a good portion of the book discusses the making of the 1987 movie, Masters of the Universe.

The first section of this non-fiction book was a little slow and repetitive, but I did learn that He-Man was a toy (with mini-comics) before he was a cartoon. Toy company Mattel developed the He-Man line of action figures in response to the success of the Star Wars toys by rival company Kenner. When the He-Man toys were a success, the television show was created and brought directly to local television networks at a time when Saturday morning cartoons were just starting up.

The book details several key episodes of the cartoon before delving into the history of the Masters of the Universe movie, produced by the notorious Cannon Films. I found this to be the most interesting part of the book, and I wish I had had time to go back to watch the movie recently, now that I know much more about how the casting, story development, and special effects were all created under the shadow of a failing production company.

HeManMovie

After the movie failed in the box office, a few additional cartoon spin-offs were released, but none of these ever achieved the same level of pop culture success as the original cartoon and toys. Overall, this was a reasonably fun non-fiction book to read, but the subject matter may limit its appeal to fans of He-Man.

 

Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid (Part 5 – The Aftermath)

This ended up being really long, so I’ve broken it into parts. You can find the rest here:

Well, I did it. I completed Ironman Lake Placid. It was a long journey filled with plenty of hours, some pain, stress, doubts, and a lot of hills. It was nearly midnight when I crossed the finish line and collected my finisher’s swag.

The volunteer who caught me was great and directed me to a collection of picnic tables where athletes were recovering. I sat down and she asked me what I needed, then brought me water, some orange slices, and a foil blanket. I felt tired, of course, but not actually all that bad, considering what I had just been through. I gulped some water and chewed on the oranges and let myself just sit and enjoy the lack of movement.

Potties

It didn’t take me long before I was ready to get up and move on. The picnic tables backed to a huge row of Porta-Potties, so it wasn’t the most scenic part of the race, but this recovery area was close to the spectator access. My family was all waiting right there when I came out, and I moved slowly to join them. My muscles still functioned – nothing had cramped or seized up otherwise while I had been sitting.

My family had already taken my bike and transition bags. You get tickets in your athlete packet that allow someone to get in to collect these things for you, and this is something that I’ve always been happy to have available. The last thing that I want to do at the end of a long race is to carry around bags of equipment and keep track of my bike. My special needs bags were still on course, but we left them there. We were able to pick those up the following morning, but if you don’t get them before noon, apparently they dispose of them.

I had to walk a little ways to the car, because there really isn’t much to do after the race when you finish close to the end. In fact, as soon as midnight rolled around, Ironman shuts down the finish area very quickly. Apparently they rolled a truck across the chute and turned all the lights out. When it’s over, they really mean it! I felt terrible for those athletes who may have made it through the swim and the bike course, only to fall short at the very end, to be greeted by darkness in the final stretch.

All of the restaurants were closed at this point, but my family had ordered pizza earlier, and it was waiting back at the B&B. It’s necessary to plan ahead for food unless you’re really fast. However, the first priority for me was a shower. I managed to get through that without falling over, although my legs were having a tough time of it. I ate two pieces of lukewarm pizza, drank more water, and went to bed.

I woke up at least once overnight, and apparently that’s normal for the first night post-race. I didn’t even sleep that late in the morning. I expected to be sore, but I found that my knees and ankles just sort of ached, and I didn’t have that much muscular soreness to start with. I took Advil sporadically and tried to keep moving a little through the day.

Our original plan for Monday was to walk around downtown and do some shopping. However, the rain had returned, so we decided to just lounge around at the B&B, reading and playing board games. Later in the day, the joint pain started to fade and my muscles began to hurt. Everything was sore, *except* my quads, which was actually pretty weird. In all my long training runs or after long climby bike rides, my quads were consistently sore. Put it all together on race day and … quads were fine. I don’t understand why.

Toward evening my back muscles threatened to cramp, so I laid down and went to bed. We traveled home the next day, but I started to feel better. I still moved slowly and didn’t feel like doing anything too strenuous, but could function well enough. I think that the soreness was essentially gone by the third day after the race. My blisters also healed up quickly.

Donuts

I was also hungry and ate a lot. I had eaten carefully planned meals in the weeks leading up to the race, hoping to avoid any unneeded distress, but I no longer cared. On the drive home, I ate most of a half-dozen donuts.

The strange thing about recovery was that my legs felt completely drained with any exertion for about 3 weeks after the race. I went out on a 40-mile ride a week after the race, and my legs just had no strength in them. I would try to push up a hill, and they just couldn’t do it. They weren’t sore at this point, but just wouldn’t respond. I rode in an 80-mile cycling event 3 weeks after the race and finally felt like I was returning to normal by that point.

I wasn’t sure if I would ever do another full distance race prior to competing in this. I didn’t really know for a few weeks afterward either. I certainly don’t plan on another one for 2019, although I’m contemplating a 70.3. I think I would consider another full after that, but I have no specific plans (Maryland, Chattanooga, Barcelona?). Lake Placid was a beautiful place to race, the town was welcoming, and I enjoyed so much of it, but I’m not eager to face those hills again. I would probably race a different course in the future.

My training has substantially diminished by now. I have kept up a degree of cycling, finishing Zwift Academy in September. I’m hoping to swim and run at least once a week, but I’m also back to fencing practices since September.

For next year, I’m already registered for the New Jersey State Triathlon in July (both sprint and Olympic distances). I’ve looked at other events: Eagleman (70.3), Ironman Connecticut 70.3 (formerly Rev 3 Quassy), Jerseyman, Lifetime Athletic Indoor Tris, Ironman Virginia 70.3, or maybe a half-marathon locally. I would like to try to get faster at the shorter distances.

Numbers

That brings me to the end of my Ironman journey for now. I hope this race report is helpful to anyone thinking of trying one, or looking at Lake Placid specifically.

See all my race reports here.

Book Review – The Dreaming Void

I listened to the audiobook version of The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton. I had formerly listened to a lot more audiobooks because my commute was long, but with a job change, I didn’t have to drive nearly as much, so my audiobook listening sort of fell by the wayside. I’m making a focused effort to get back to listening, even when I don’t have huge chunks of time for it now.

I had read the author’s earlier series: Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained (also as audiobooks), and really liked the tale of the Starflyer War. I hadn’t realized that the Void Trilogy was set in the future of the same world.

Dreaming Void

While The Dreaming Void takes place 1,500 years after the Starflyer War, it isn’t apparent right at the outset. This book jumps forward in time and features different characters (at least at the beginning). The main idea in this book is that there is a mysterious Void which is both a danger and a mystery to civilization. Inigo is a researcher who studies the Void, but in the process begins to dream about people within this alternate universe. His dreams are broadcast across the galaxy, and he develops an almost religious following.

Humans within the Void have telepathic and telekinetic powers, and Inigo’s followers  (The Living Dream movement) have planned a pilgrimage to enter the Void. However, no one knows how to enter the Void, as anyone who has tried, has died in the process. In fact, some attempts to interact with the Void have triggered a devourment phase in which the Void spreads and destroys whatever it touches.

At the outset of the main story, Inigo has hidden himself away from civilization and the pilgrimage awaits the direction of a prophesied and unknown Second Dreamer who will lead his followers safely into the paradise of the Void.

The book follows several main point-of-view characters, and it took me a little while to sort them all out. As the story develops, some characters from the author’s earlier series reappear, having been re-lifed into new bodies.

One of my favorite story threads in this book follows Eddiard, a young man living within the Void, and one of the subjects of Inigo’s dreams. He explores his surprisingly strong telepathic/telekinetic powers, only to have tragedy destroy his home. He is a sympathetic character who still manages to make some poor choices, and his exploration of the world within the Void helps the reader explore it as well.

I have to say that I liked the initial premise in Pandora’s Star better and it made for an easier read at the beginning, compared to these books. Once I realized that Eddiard lived within the Void, I started to understand why the members of Living Dream were launching a pilgrimage, better tying the story together.

It was also a bit difficult to keep the different political agendas straight, but actually one main character doesn’t even know who he works for. His memory has been wiped to allow him to do his job better, and I assume that I’ll discover who is behind his actions later.

I think that it would have helped to have read this right after the Starflyer War books. I would have remembered more of the prior relationships between the characters if the earlier novels were more fresh in my mind. Otherwise, I enjoyed this book and have already started the next one in the series.

Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid (Part 4 – Run)

This ended up being really long, so I’ve broken it into parts. You can find the rest here (when they’re ready):

I had just finished the bike course, and I knew I was running short on time. So while I was happy to be through with the longest part of my race, I knew that the marathon wouldn’t be easy. Being sick during the last couple of months of training had meant that I had had to let something go. And that something was my long runs. The furthest I had ever run in training was a single 14.3-mile effort.

I was feeling down about my race at this point, but still happy to be on the last part of it. My ankle had ached during the second half of the bike section, so I was a bit worried about how it would deal with running. But then the volunteer in the changing tent dumped out my bike-to-run bag and OMG – chocolate-covered salted cashews! I had stashed a lot of goodies in my bags, but this was the one time where I really, really needed them.

Cashews

Not a great photo, but those are the cashews!

I changed into leggings and a tank top for the run. The temperature was much better by now and the rain had stopped. I had a long sleeved shirt stashed in my run special needs for later, if I got cold. I dragged myself out of the tent on started the run (er, walk).

T2 = 9:00

I still could barely move, but that was fine. It was easier to eat my cashews while walking anyway, and I knew that the beginning of the run course was downhill. By this point in the day, everyone was out cheering on the athletes. The run course was two loops, with one long out-and-back that led back through downtown, followed by a short out-and-back that paralleled the end of the bike course. So everyone who was running overlapped in town a few times.

I shuffled along as the course turned toward the long downhill section. Then I heard a familiar voice beside me and found my brother jogging alongside me. He wanted to make sure that I understood the cut off times, which I thought I did. All athletes had to reach the turn around for the second loop by 9:00 p.m. and I also had to reach the finish line *before* midnight. I had started my race a few minutes before 7:00 a.m., so in order to make the total cut off time of 17 hours, I’d have to make it to the end a few minutes before 12:00 a.m.

Drake

My brother found me in the blurry dusk.

My brother encouraged me as I finished up my cashews and found that I was now able to jog. He coached me a bit and told me that I needed to get through the run in about 6 hours. I felt pretty good about that prospect now that my legs had started to cooperate. I had done the run in the Quassy Half in 3 hours with a run-walk approach, while still sick and coughing, so 6 hours for the Ironman run should be doable, right?

I have to admit, I was a bit disheartened by seeing other runners on their way back in from the long out-and-back. How far ahead of me were they? How many were already on their second loop? My brother peeled off at this point and I was alone with my legs.

I found that the first 5 miles weren’t really that bad. I had done plenty of runs of this distance in my training, so now that my legs felt better, I was able to keep my pace where I wanted it. I walked at every aid station, and alternated between water and Gatorade Endurance. Later on, I would switch to soda and Red Bull. I had plenty of gels and had planned on taking one every 45 to 60 minutes.

On the way out of town, I did experience some exhaustion-fueled resentment toward all those athletes who were on their way back into town and appeared to be happily walking and chatting with newfound friends. I knew I wouldn’t have time to ease up at all as I made my way through the marathon.

The course led down the hill beside the Olympic ski jumps before making a left turn that took athletes through a wooded area with slightly rolling hills. I felt like I spent most of the run on this road, and I heard complaints that this stretch was boring. However, I kind of liked it. The aid stations broke up the monotony of a long run, and it wasn’t really that hilly. By the time I had reached mile 8, I started to hurt though.

I had blisters on both feet, along my pinkie toes where I usually get them. My left ankle had begun to have twinges of pain, and my right hamstring twitched like it wanted to cramp. I would walk whenever this happened and it never got any worse, so after a short break, I’d run again. My overall pace was steady, and only a tiny bit slower that I would have liked. I knew that I still had to go up the hills back into town (and would be walking those parts), and I knew that I had somewhere over 6 hours to get through the miles (probably closer to 6.5).

Toes

I made this photo little so you don’t have to look at my super-zoomed in blisters/toes.

I made it back to the hills and was relieved that I had a good excuse to walk. But as soon as I reached more level ground, I pushed myself back to my running. The miles slowly ticked by. I passed a few athletes as I went, and at least a couple who were doubled over sick at the side of the road.

The stretch between the ski jump hill and the steeper hill into  town was short and flat, and went by quickly. When I reached the Main Street hill, I walked again, jogged through town, then turned onto the second shorter out-and-back on the course. This section was lined with tents, tri-clubs, and spectators. The run special needs bags were also located here, but I decided to forego my long-sleeved shirt.

As I made the turn-around and sped toward the halfway point, I could hear the finish line. Knowing that I was only halfway through the run while others peeled off to the finish was disheartening. BUT – I was also halfway through! I made the time cutoff at the halfway point at just a little over 3 hours, and headed out again for loop 2.

I wasn’t sure how my ankles, knees, and muscles would react as the miles accumulated. My initial approach was to slow to a walk when something twinged. After a while, I grew tired of this, so I started to just push through those tiny aches and pains, and everything was fine. I never cramped and my ankle randomly hurt, but never got worse. I didn’t have any pain in my knees or my back. I did have to stop at the medical tent to smear Vaseline on my inner arm where it had started to chafe against the edge of my tank top. My blisters still hurt, but felt like they weren’t getting worse.

I tried the hot chicken broth at one aid station, and it was a bit too weird for me to drink much of it. Maybe if it had been a colder evening, it would have been a nicer treat. I reached mile 15, and from there on I just chuckled to myself with each mile. I’d never run this far in my life, and I didn’t even like running! Why would anyone ever run this far?!?! These were the thoughts that cycled through my head. I even continued to pass a few people on the course.

By the time I had reached the long wooded section along Riverside Drive, it was full dark. The course was lit, but there were some long stretches where I couldn’t see the road surface well at all. I made an effort to keep my feet active and tried not to trip on anything. The volunteers handed me a glow-necklace, and the course thinned out. It was pretty desolate out there, but at no point did I ever think that I would give up. I felt in a better place mentally than I had on the bike.

I did have some mild nausea on the second loop and stopped eating my gels. I think I actually took in too much liquid, so I backed off on the water and soda until my stomach felt better. I took three bathroom stops on the run course, and these didn’t take me long. By the third one, the Porta-Potties weren’t in very good shape though.

Despite the automatic tracking app giving my family anxiety and reporting that my pace was all over the place, I was actually very consistent throughout the run. I slowed again to walk up the hills on the way back in, and I now knew that I was going to make it. If I was truly running short on time, I could pick up my pace. I didn’t want to because that would *really* hurt, but I knew I had that effort in me if I needed it.

My brother found me again as I passed through town and onto the last out-and-back, and I also chatted with a nice older gentleman who was struggling at a fast walk. I had given him some words of encouragement earlier, and he was thankful, telling me that it had kept him going. He was going to make it also, and ended up finished just before me.

The turn around felt so far away at this point, but I finally made my last 180 and had about a mile to go to the finish. The spectators had also thinned out beside the road, but in just a few minutes I would see where they went. I could already hear the music and shouting from the finish.

The final part of the run passes through the area that had earlier been part of the Expo and around the Olympic skating oval, which is a paved track in the center of the downtown, set between the ice rink and the high school. Transition had been in the grassy middle of the oval, so the last part of the run was essentially a short trip around transition. My brother met me on the way into the finishers chute and videoed me for as far as he could get away with.

TheFinish

I had been told to slow down as I ran the last stretch. The Olympic torch blazed ahead of me and the fans at such a late hour were incredible – so many people lined the sides of the finish cute and pounded on the sides in rhythm. The lights shone down and I could no longer hear the music over the cheers of the crowd. Hands reached out and I smacked as many as I could as I jogged by. When I crossed the line, I couldn’t even hear Mike Reilly announce that I was an Ironman.

A volunteer caught me after I crossed the finish line. I guess some people collapse, but I was relatively okay. I grinned as she handed me my finisher’s goodies, someone placed the medal around my neck, and I smiled for more photos. The elation of the experience is hard to describe, but all that mattered at that point was that I had conquered Lake Placid. I was an Ironman!

Posed Finish

RUN TIME: 6:14:32

TOTAL TIME: 16:52:32

Next: Part 5 – Aftermath

See all my race reports here.

Bare Your Bookshelf


I saw this on The Bibliophagist blog a couple of days ago and I thought it was a fun exercise. So here are some of the things on my bookshelf (and I’m going to use both physical books and e-books for my version of this).

1) BOOK YOU OWN BUT HAVEN’T READ YET

There are a lot that I could put here, but I’ll simply put the next couple of books on my TBR pile here.

 

2) BOOKS YOUR FRIENDS LOVE

I read the first book in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy probably a year or two ago. I seem to have developed a bad habit of leaving series unfinished. But both friends and family have read these and enjoyed them, and I liked the first book, so they’re coming up soon on my TBR pile. It also helps that I picked up copies at New York Comic-Con a few weeks ago.

 

3) BOOKS BY AN AUTHOR YOU LOVE

For this one, I was reminded of how much I loved Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. I haven’t had a chance to catch up on every book, but I have always liked her stories. And I’m trying not to repeat books and authors, but Lois McMaster Bujold’s stuff is so good that I can’t help myself.

 

4) BOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TBR

Well, it’s probably something non-fiction, because some of those types of books are more for reference, really. But if I stick with fiction, I’ll pick Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I had made it through book 7 or 8 at the time they were being first published, but then I became too busy with school and would forget a lot of the details between books, so I gave up on the series. I was able to pick up the entire thing as one gigantic e-book a few years ago, but it’s on the bottom of my TBR list, simply because it will take so long to read all of it.

EyeoftheWorld

5) BOOK WITH COLOR IN THE TITLE

Well I’m not a huge Terry Pratchet fan, but I have read some of his books. I’m not sure what else I have with color in the title.

ColorofMagic

6) BOOK SET SOMEWHERE YOU’D LIKE TO VISIT

Well, this may not be the most practical vacation destination, but hopefully I won’t have as tough a time as Mark Watney did.

TheMartianCover

7) MOST COLLECTED AUTHOR

I think this is a toss up between Jim Butcher and Lois McMaster Bujold, both authors who have written long series of books. If I look at books that I have owned, that are somewhere in a box or still at my parents’ house, I should add Anne McCaffrey to this one.

 

8) MISMATCHED SERIES

I discovered George R.R. Martin randomly on Audible. I always like to pick out really long audiobooks, and A Game of Thrones fit the bill. I have since bought the physical books, and I have an e-book copy of A Dance of Dragons (and maybe more of the series) also.

 

9) BOOK YOU LOVE BUT DON’T REMEMBER WELL

For me, this is sadly – most of them. I feel like I have a great short-term memory for the fiction I’ve read, but after time has passed, I can’t even remember the main character’s name. For this one, I only remember that crazy ending (of the series)…

DragonboneChair

10) HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU HAVE? + IS YOUR SHELF EVERYTHING YOU WANT IT TO BE?

Ahahahahaaaaaahaaaaa!!!! How many books do I have? Too many to try to count in the time I’d like to spend on this blog post. Is my shelf everything I want it to be? It could be better organized. Oh, and I’d like to have more books.


If you think this looks fun, consider yourself tagged and link back to me so that I can see your answers!

Graphic Novel Review – The Walking Dead , Vol. 2 – Miles Behind Us

The second volume of The Walking Dead has our characters traveling more than in the first one. Resources are scarce and they believe that they can find somewhere better and safer to live, hoping that the zombies are thinning out.

Walking Dead 2 Cover

Rick leads his band as they search for supplies and safety. Of course, the illusion of safety never lasts long, and we see more people fall to the zombies. Mild spoilers to follow.

I think that the best part of Volume 2 is that it looks at how the zombies are viewed by people other than Rick’s gang. They encounter Herschel, a retired veterinarian, who has been keeping his former-son-now-zombie confined in a barn in the hopes that someone can find a cure for the zombie plague, rather than just assuming that the people who succumbed to it are truly dead.

Of course, Herschel’s plan doesn’t go well, and in the end they all find themselves fighting for their lives again Herschel’s son and his other captive zombies, a bit of an I-told-you-so moment from Rick. However, as a veterinarian myself, I can empathize with Herschel’s take on things. Are the zombies people to be remembered and healed, or are they monsters that must be killed? We want to heal or fix injuries and illness, and if it just takes time and a better understanding to get to that point, then why not study the disease and try to find a cure? On the other side of the debate, part of the job as a veterinarian is to euthanize an animal when it is suffering. I see many pet owners who delay that decision when the end is inevitable. So if I can draw a parallel between that and Herschel’s zombies, I wonder if he would have considered his son’s suffering at some point?

The ending of this volume did not have the same shocking impact as Volume 1, but I’m interested enough in the series to keep reading. I just picked up Volume 3, 4, and 5 at New York Comic-Con 2 weeks ago.

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