About Me

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Austin, Texas, United States
I'll make you laugh, or break my neck trying. This is usually accomplished with daily bouts of swimming, biking and running. A former "chub-a-holic," I got fit and healthy the good old fashioned way and went from a mid-pack athlete to top age group runner and triathlete. I'm a Writer and USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach. I guess that makes me part Tina Fey and part Jillian Michaels. Visit my coaching site at www.fomotraining.com

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Look out 2007, Here I Come!

So, the first runner I saw on Riverside Drive upon returning to Austin on Tuesday morning was wearing this year's Turkey Trot shirt!! I'm not sure if it was fate or not, but it was my first official "WELCOME HOME" greeting. Of course, it also reminded me of the stress and anxiety of the last few months as well!

I'll be compiling my official New Year's Resolutions for 2007, but this is how it will look visually for me:

OK--so it probably won't literally include hurdles, but I'm sure there will be my fair share of figurative and symbolic hurdles to cross on my way to the altar!!

Monday, December 25, 2006

There's No Place Like Home (Both of Them)

Sometimes I feel like the most blessed chick on earth. I get to come "home" to Ohio to spend the holidays with my parents, four brothers, three sis-in-laws, eight nieces, one nephew and a host of so many other family and friends that are too numerous to count. The only person mssing was my fiance who had to work this weekend and couldn't get away.

Yesterday morning, I ran 12 miles with my friend Karl, who was my inspiration to run a marathon in the first place. You'll be hearing me talk more about him in future posts, but he is a selfless man who took off a year of his life and ran a marathon a week for an entire year to raise money for the Leukemia Society. Yes, he successfully completed 52 marathons in 52 weeks. While this happened nine years ago, his impact and dedication still flourishes. His book will be released in about a month and I know it will be a "must read."

Throughout the four days I was here in Columbus, I also drove up to a little town called Carey, Ohio with my Dad and reserved the church where I'll be married. It was a wonderful day of Father/Daughter bonding that only he and I shared. I had lunch with my friend who lives in Illinois and we spent some time looking around for wedding reception places. I met a cousin for the first time on my Dad's side of the family and had a wonderful visit with her. I attended Mass not once, not twice, but THREE times this weekend! (It must be a Catholic thing) I had Christmas Eve dinner with my family and a slew of nieces, nephews and cousins. I visited my brother's house on Christmas morning to visit with him and see the new addition he's put on his house. I spent hours with relatives making homeade spaghetti and ravioli. I had dinner with seven of my closest high school friends (even though we graduated over 15 years ago!). I visited my high school friend Ginna. She was my theater/acting partner in crime. In high school we dreamed of being famous. Today, she's a working actress in New York. Needless to say, she's amazing. I also squeezed in a private swimming lesson with my tri-friend Tracy who took precious time and spent it trying to improve my hopeless stroke.

I'm not sure if it's the copious amounts of food or my gratitude bursting at the seams, but I'm FULL.

Tomorrow morning, I catch a flight back to Austin and actually get to spend my first night in our new house!!! To me, it marks the beginning of our new home. We've been such nomads for the last four months that I can't wait to walk around for the first time and sleep under the new roof. Believe it or not, I can't wait to cook in our new kitchen (or at least throw a salad together).

While I've had a great time at this home, I can't wait to get back to Shawn and my new home and start planning our wedding.

(I also can't wait to get back to eating normally. Iced cookies for breakfast is not a good thing.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

In Transition

I'm writing this entry from home in Columbus, Ohio after a couple weeks of swirling around in the activity of work and holiday business. I was in the Bahamas with Shawn and his family for a few days for good food, good company and good sunshine. The snorkeling wasn't bad either! (The gambling is another story!) I literally dropped my bathing suit and summer clothes off in Austin and hopped on another flight back home to Ohio with a suitcase packed with flannel, turtlenecks and all of the other Columbus necessities--including an appetite! I joined my high school girlfriends for dinner last night for laughter and good (or not so good) advice on marriage and kids! It's humorous to recount our memories year after year, only to transition into conversations like, "How often do you and your husband have sex?" "Are you always tired after giving birth?" It's a far cry from our conversations of year's past..."Can I bum a smoke?" and "Aren't you wearing the same outfit you had on last night?!" Instead of going out at 10pm, we were nestled back at Laura's by 10pm enjoying Bud Light and --yes---ZIMA!!!!! (I remarked to Lisa that I don't think I've had Zima since I was like 14 years old)

Now...it's on to the business of family traditions. My Greasy-Wop, Dago, Italian family gets together and gathers in the basement of Aunt COnnie's house to make homeade ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs. It's me and a bunch of Soprano looking Aunts and COusins. This tradition of throwing dough and eating half-baked meatballs--just to make sure there's enough garlic---is by far, one of my favorite days of the year. It's also one that I will pay for by running a few extra miles! We literally mop the dough in white flour!!!

Happiest of Holidays to all from wherever you are spending it!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


3:29:06 at the Dallas White Rock Marathon and 8th in my age group! How about that?!

2006 has been a good year. Time to finally recover from it.

Results at www.runtherock.com


353 overall place
8/254 age group
37/1257 overall place in gender
3:29:06 chip time
7:59 overall pace
3:29:56 gun time
50:51 10K split
1:45:44 Half split
2:54:34 35K split

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nothing More to Do

I've never understood those people who can go hours upon hours without eating a thing. Or, worse yet, they pretentiously and sheepishly say, "I didn't have time to eat" or "I simply forgot."

Screw you people.

I'm an every 3-4 hours person. While I'm eating one small meal, I'm thinking about the next one. I look forward to eating at least 5 times a day. Sometimes it's only a Balance Bar or a bowl of (you guessed it) Kashi GO Lean Crunch, but it's what keeps me going and fueled.

Of course, it's what also makes me feel bloated when I'm tapering. I'm not eating a ton, but I'm also not burning as much. That brings on that all-too familiar feeling of the necessary heaviness of race week.

Here's the taper recap for this Race Week:

Monday 11/4 We did the 7 Mile loop with a little over 2 miles at an 8:00 min Marathon Goal Pace.

Tuesday 11/5 I jogged 4.5 miles slow...no watch...just focused on breathing and quick feet turnover.

Wednesday 11/6 I showed up to meet Thon and Mike and our wires were crossed. I talked to Coach G and he just had me jog 2 miles slow and then do 10 stride-outs focusing on hip balance, high knees and butt kicks. I don't like jogging slow. It's then that I focus on every little ache and pain that I would normally ignore. I felt a little twinge in my knee and just willed it away for the time being. When I run fast, I focus on breathing. When I run slow, I focus on form.

I'm definitely taking Thursday off and may run a short 2-3 miles on Friday.

Other than that, I'm finished and looking forward to a super relaxing Holiday Season that include upcoming weekend getaways to the Bahamas and Ohio. Yeah, how's that for opposite ends of the spectrum?!?! We also booked a weekend trip to Phoenix in January for the National Championship Football Game featuring my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes baby!!! Three trips in a month and none of them involve a Marathon or race of any kind. That I'm looking forward to...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Race Week...AGAIN!

I'm gearing up for a relaxing trip to Dallas for the weekend to do some shopping, eating and drinking...oops, my mistake. There will be no shopping unless the receipt happens to have bagels, peanut butter and gatorade on it. It's more like a weekend filled with running, eating and drinking.

I'm super-excited about Sunday's Dallas White Rock Marathon! Not only is it a new race for me, but I'm running it with my Austin running partners Thon, Mike and Amy. We all have the same idealistic finish goals and plan on hanging together, at least for a while. The only person missing from our running clique is Richard, who has been sick and unable to train for this one. However, Richard is making the trip with his wife Stephanie and we'll also be graced with the presence of Mike's real wife Hava, superfast gazelle Erine and my fiance Shawn (who's running the Half Marathon). If you ask me, this weekend is going to be more of a party than a marathon!

As for the run itself, my goals keep changing. One thing that hasn't changed is the goal of "having fun." It's hard to top the Boston Marathon experience of 2006, even though it almost seems ages ago. As I was telling Thon and Mike today, I feel like my body and mind peaked the top of the training mountain after Ironman 70.3 Clearwater...Since then, I've had a difficult time with recovery. My breathing seems labored and I'm having a hard time settling into my runs. Just ask Thon after our 11 mile run on Saturday. I was pretty cranky through most of it...Well, at least until I got warm coffee and breakfast tacos. After that, I was fine :-) Right now, I'm trying to stay in that "peak" position even though it feels like I'm coming down the other side of the mountain--which is what techinically should be happening. This week, I'm asking my body and mind to give me one more hard effort. I honestly don't know what's going to happen.

Here's what I do know... Whether I get a 3:30 or a 4:30, I'm going to have fun and celebrate this fantastic year. Plus, I'm getting a massage on Wednesday. That alone is worth it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ego Boost and Lesson for the Day

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and former co-worker who just completed several months of intensive chemo for Stage 4 Esophogital Cancer. What's worse is that he voices radio and tv commercials for a living and the disease attacked his main work instrument. How cruel is that? What originally appeared to be a "lost cause" has turned into a miracle as my friend is now cancer-freaking free!! Take that cancer. He is a lesson in prayer, perserverance, exerise, medicine, hope and self-love.

Anyways, as we were walking out of the restaurant, he said, "Oh my Gosh...Have you lost weight?"

"Umm...perhaps. I really don't weigh myself because I get depressed."

"Well, you look fantastic."

I don't know if he was just being polite or if he truly noticed a difference, but it worked. I felt lighter, drove back the office and indulged in a piece of chocolate because I deserved it! After all, as he so eloquently reminded me, you must always savor your life and all that comes with it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marathon on the Horizon

I'm having that weird panic of going from being way too busy to handle everything to, "Oh My God. You mean all I have to do is run and focus on my real job?" Just a few short weeks ago, I was juggling several bike, run and swim workouts per week along with preparation for the Record-Shattering Turkey Trot. (FYI-It looks like we had about 2,000 more people than last year. That is phenomenal. ) My life feels so uncomplicated at the moment--(well, there's the house thing, but even that's beyond my control. )

I vascillate from feeling completely relieved to being on edge because I'm not doing enough. Now, I know those feelings are completely normal. I'm coming down from a high and trying not to gear up too much since I'm also tapering for the Dallas Marathon. That little part of me just can't stop being vocally annoying. "You should go for a swim. I can't believe your bike is still packed from Florida." etc. You know the voice. However, I'm also trying to listen to my REAL voice. My massage therapist said something on Saturday that really stuck with me. She reiterated that my body is my best personal trainer. It will tell me when it's had enough. Over the last couple of weeks, I've tried to take a little more heed. My body and mind have had enough and my attitudes and efforts are showing it. While I've still run consistently, none of them have felt great. I started back with some official Gazelle workouts this week. While it was great to be back and see so many of my friends and training partners, it's a little frustrating as I know I'm not performing at my best capacity. Every run is a struggle right now mentally and physically. I've lost a little confidence for the Marathon and it really means I have to rest, rest, rest next week!!

Here's a recap of my recent running from the last couple of weeks:

11/18 (one week after Half-Ironman) 15-16 miles...ouchy
11/20 10 mile Recovery Run
11/22 8 Mile Run from Thon's. We did the Turkey Trot course for a sneak peek. Damn that course is hilly! Who designed that?? :-)
11/24 7 Mile Recovery run with Amy--day after Turkey Trot. exhausted.
11/25 14 Mile Mt. Bonnell Run
11/27 Mile Repeats at Zilker...I did 3 repeats (7:11, 6:54, 6:54)...humid. Total 6 1/2 miles
11/29 7 Mile Fartlek Intervals...2 mile warmup followed by 1min fast/1 min slow

I guess looking over that schedule pretty much shows what I need to see. Not only was it a lot of miles, but these have been some tough miles. Over 67 Miles in10 days. duh...

Next weeek is all about massage, nutrition and rest.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ironman 70.3: Link to Official Photos


The first woman in the wetsuit isn't me!

A Happy Thanksgiving Indeed

I made it. I'm hanging by a thread, but I made it.

The ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot was a success. Let me rephrase that. It was a HUGE success. It was packed and bursting at the seams. The Mayor of Austin AND the Governor of Texas both ran it. Honestly? It went to a new level this year and we almost weren't ready from an infrastructure standpoint. Still calculating final numbers, but well over 10,000 were in attendance. Over 9,000 runners/walkers for sure. I'm exhausted, but extremely happy.

Here's what Runtex had to say:

Here, in Central Texas, nothing goes better with Thanksgiving than a Thundercloud. That is, the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot 5-Miler. Every year, thousands and thousands turn out for this terrific event. But in its entire 16-year history, there could not have been a more perfect Thanksgiving morning.

Under clear, shimmering skies with temperatures soaring into the low 70s, it was a morning fit for just about anything and everything outdoors: Touch football, frisbee golf, a walk along the lake with family and friends and—natch—starting off the whole shebang by walking or running the Turkey Trot through central Austin. Heck, even a bunch of Aggies showed up.

More Turkey Trot Ramblings soon...

I'm beginning my taper for the December 10th Dallas White Rock Marathon. I'm not sure how, but I still managed to put in 40 miles of Bad running last week. My body and my mind were pretty wasted and I finally admitted on Saturday that I was burnt to a crisp. Enter Massage Therapist Julie and two days in San Antonio. I had the most incredible massage on Saturday, followed by a couple of days out of town. I'm beginning to feel normal again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Trot Countdown

Imagine this... a few mintues of downtime. I feel like I could rant and rave about how stressed the Turkey Trot makes me. Race Management is a lesson in patience and overwhelming amounts of detail work. As Race Director, I field every call and email about the event.In the blink of an eye, I go from zero tolerance (when people ask the same questions that are clearly marked on the website) to overwhelming gratitude (when people say how much they love this event). If nothing else, I have learned so much from this process. I bitch and moan every time my phone rings, but am energized when that same caller tells me that they appreciate my time. Sometimes I answer the phone as if I'm being bothered. Shame on me. Most of these people only sign up for one event a year--this one. When I'm at Packet Pickup and Registration, I love it! I love being surrounded by the volunteers who are giving their time and I love being surrounded by the participants who are excited to do the event with their friends and families. They always have great things to say about this race.

I also have a newfound respect for Event Planners. People have absolutely no idea how difficult and costly it is to shut down city streets. You don't just cone off a lane and call it a day. It involves re-routing traffic, hiring extra officers, posting notices and paying the people who get their asses up at 4am to change the traffic direction of the thoroughfare of downtown Austin. We're also in the vicinity of a major hospital, a major university, a major highway, the Ronald McDonald House and the State Capitol--all very important things to consider from a safety and security standpoint.

I'm having a fleeting moment of calm before the race. It's going to happen regardless of my mental state on race morning. I just hope someone brings a keg

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ironman 70.3: 13.1 Mile Run and now I'm Moving On!

I can't believe it took my 5hrs 35 minutes to complete Ironman 70.3, but over a week to actually recap the damn thing! :-)

So, it’s now Sunday evening, November 19th, and the race was over a week ago. I’m just now getting to actually recap the running portion of the triathlon. Damn, it seems so long ago. Let’s just say it was hot and difficult but I finished the 13.1 miles…the end! Moving on…

Oh, I wish it was that easy. As I alluded to in my previous post, this was the first time I wasn’t looking forward to the run. I knew I would finish, but I honestly didn’t think I was going to meet my goal time of 1:45 (8:00 min mile pace). For whatever reason, the thought of almost 2 more hours of hard physical activity was almost unbearable. And then I thought about them…my running partners. I swear. I knew they would check on my time at some point and they were expecting a 1:45 run. I couldn’t let them down. After all the training I’d done, I couldn’t have the run be my weak link. At that moment, that’s all I needed.

I started running like everyone does—stiff and awkward since my legs had been doing something completely different for the last 3 hours. They were used to spinning at a high cadence and now I was forcing them to stride out and pound the pavement. At one Mile, we climbed the Memorial Causeway Bridge. It was the same bridge we started climbing on the bike. Now, here I was three hours later doing it again on foot…In this race, I would have to do it still again…and again…and again. This was a two-loop course so you had to climb both sides of the bridge twice. Four ascents. Now, I’m not smart or scientific enough to have timed each of the climbs, but I’m pretty sure they got slower with each progression. Like always, my first 4-5 miles were too fast. You know when you get off a treadmill and immediately start walking and you’re still walking at that fast funny speed? Well, I guess that’s how the first few miles of the run are for me. I clocked them at 7:40-7:45 (with the first bridge climb). I had immediate thoughts of, “This will bite you in the ass later! SLOW DOWN…” I thought I was slowing down, but each mile was still coming in at a sub-8:00 pace. I was still running through the waterstops at this point and trying to alternate between water and Gatorade. Volunteers were passing out power gels and I also remember seeing Coke, pretzels, cookies, bananas and other goodies at each stop. (note to non-athlete friends: Races have some kick-ass food). When I wasn’t climbing or descending bridges, I was running through neighborhoods and even a paved trail for a portion of the run. I was passing people left and right and it’s always good to hear encouragement from the other athletes. “Looking good…Great Pace” Everyone is so positive out there. I’m proud to say that I was not passed by one person on the run…woo hoo!!

I was finally surrounded by mass groups of people, although I couldn’t tell if most of them were on their first or second run loops. It was pretty discouraging to see the really fast people finishing as myself and so many others were simply starting. Shawn swears he was cheering for me and shouting at the turnaround point. I didn’t believe him until he showed the pics that proved it. I was totally in “the zone” and gearing myself up for bridge climb #3. I was still ahead of pace, but fading fast. I was there, but I wasn’t. I stopped at the Mile 7 water stop and walked for about 15-20 seconds. I did that at every other Water Stop. I think my slowest my was an 8:26. I was still getting “Wow—great pace” remarks from the crowd and the participants, so I knew I must not have been looking too bad. I was just starting to feel that way. The last bridge climb at Mile 10.5 was tough, but it was also such a relief knowing it was done and I could enjoy the last downhill and straightaway back to the finish. Once again, as if I was air-lifted, my pace began to quicken on the other side of the bridge. I knew I was pretty much right on pace and I wanted to finish looking strong. My last three miles were in the sub-8:00 range and the agony and self-doubt of two miles ago turned to an abundance of self-pride. I felt like a champion. The atmosphere made me feel that way. The volunteers made me feel that way and the crowds made me feel that way. I remember another competitor yelling at how fast I was going and how good I looked. I also remember the announcer calling my name and saying something to the affect that I was “representing Austin, Texas!” I found it silly even as I was running towards the finish line because of all the other elite athletes and pros from Austin who had crossed the line hours before. I was hardly “representing” Austin. I just happen to be fortunate enough to live there.

My run goal time was a 1:45. My run split?

A volunteer was assigned to me immediately after I crossed the line. In the blink of an eye, I had my medal and some shells draped around my neck. I had a towel and a bottle of water immediately. The volunteer literally takes you by the arm and leads you to wherever you need to go. For some people, it was to the medical tent. For others, it was to the food tent. Still others wanted to sit down or find the restroom. I wanted to be led to Shawn who was waiting for me on the other side of the fence. He seemed so proud and it meant so much that he “gets it.” He knew what this race meant and he knew how hard it was since he’s done two half-ironmans as well. He also new immediately that I has set a Personal Best.

So that’s it. That’s my Ironman 70.3 Recap. I'll be posting both candid and official photos at some point.

Now—it’s on to the Dallas Marathon on December 10th. I ran 15 miles on Saturday, but felt pretty crappy the entire time. Ummm…yep, I need some rest and a big fat massage. I’m also in Turkey Trot Hell this week, but it’s going to be an awesome race. We did packet stuffing today and it went by so quickly. Thanks to all who showed up to help! We stuffed over 4,000 bags in two hours. Rock on!!!!!!! Also, our on-line entries are up over 25% year to date. As scary as that is, it’s also very exciting. This is going to be a great event.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ironman 70.3: 56-Mile Bike Ride

Starting from the back of the pack can be a good thing, but not when you’re in the World Championship Race and virtually everyone is faster than you are. I learned that pretty quickly. A Mile into the bike ride, I climbed my first hill over the Memorial Causeway. My heart rate was still fluttering from the swim-to-bike transition, so this first incline felt discouraging. I didn’t get out of the saddle to climb, but instead decided to put it in the Granny Gear and ease my way up in the small chain ring. I totally thought, “Please don’t let it be this tough for the next 55 miles!” Fortunately, it wasn’t. The course was primarily flat through the streets of Clearwater and across the bridge towards Tampa. We did go over a couple of bridges that tested my resolve, but I had settled down long enough to be a little more relaxed. As I mentioned in a previous post, the weather was absolutely phenomenal and the wind just wasn’t a factor at all. I was so afraid we’d be blasted with an ocean breeze on the bridges, but it never happened. Every now and then, I’d feel a slight headwind, but it was nothing debilitating.

The one thing I noticed on the bike was that I was constantly hungry! I swear I don’t know how that’s possible since I had been loading up all week long, but sure enough, I needed nutrition about every 45 minutes. I alternated between gels, CLif Blocks and ½ PB bagel (yes, I had packed one). My legs started to wake up and I had some decisions to make.

By Mile 20 I thought, “What the heck is going on? I was passing plenty of people on the bike, but they were primarily people in the older age groups. I could not find anyone in the 30-34 age group!” It then hit me that these women were riding just as fast, if not faster than I was. Turns out, they were riding much faster than I was. I was never going to make any ground on these people like I try to do in a local race. It was then that my focus shifted completely. My goal was to no longer try to gain ground. It was to race for ME. It was to see if I could improve my previous PR of 5:44. I started comparing it to a Marathon. I NEVER think about my overall standings in a Marathon. It would be like me being disappointed if I didn’t place in the Top 10 at Boston. Duh…It’s not going to happen. In a marathon, I focus on MY previous time goal and MY new time goal. That was my new approach and I’m not really sure why it took me 20 miles on the bike to figure it out.

So, here was my major decision. I could hammer the bike and try to ride as fast as I possibly could, or I could ride comfortably hard and hope that I still had enough legs for my goal run of a 1:45 Half Marathon (8:00min pace). I obviously chose to ride comfortably hard. I made a very conscious decision to keep the speedometer between 18-21 miles per hour. Again, in any other race, that’s a great bike time. In the World Championship, it’s below average. Amazing…

Time went amazing fast on the bike and the scenery was fabulous. We did ride on several busy roads, but the Police did a fantastic job of controlling traffic. I never felt in danger. However, there were several severe bike crashes which took people out of the race immediately. I hated driving by those scenes, but it’s part of the sport I suppose.

I remember passing a couple of the disabled athletes on the bike including Sara Reinersten who competes with one leg. She’s such an inspiration and always has a smile on her face. She was the one who cheered for me as I passed her.

All in all, once I changed my focus, the ride became so much more relaxing. I was in awe of these bad-ass athletes.

I rode into transition and dismounted the bike. 2:57 and some change. Wow…My previous best was a 3:02. I had gained 5 minutes on the bike and averaged about 18.9999 mph on the bike. I couldn’t ask for anything better. My inner thighs and quads were burning slightly, so I was a little nervous about the run. For the first time in triathlon, I was scared of bonking on the run. 13 miles suddenly seemed almost impossible. Not only did 13 miles sound brutal, but the thought of being in “race mode” for another 1:45 was tough to comprehend. I was already mentally and physically tired so it was definitely time for a gut check. I was never in fear of not finishing. I was more in fear of a total bonk on the run, which is always my saving grace.

I handed my bike off to another volunteer, headed into the changing tent with my run bag and quickly threw on my running shoes and visor and headed out on my running journey.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ironman 70.3: Pre-Race and Swim

In any scenario, you could not have painted a more perfect picture of the weather on Race Morning. The ocean was actually glass-like: no wind and no waves. How is that possible? Apparently, just a couple of days before, the weather was so bad that there were warning flags out as in, “Swim at your own risk, FOOL.” Today, it was so peaceful, except for the 1500 or so people that would soon be thrashing through it.

Our hotel was less than a ½ mile away so Tracy, Bob and I meandered down around 6am. Shawn would join later. My pre-race ritual was easy since I had dropped everything off the night before. I just made sure my helmet and sunglasses were on the bike and I double-checked my tire pressure. Still good…Please God, no flats!

Helicopters circled above capturing the moment for the March 31st, 2007 NBC broadcast of this event. I soaked it all in as much as I could, almost chuckling to myself that I was actually here surrounded by Ironman banners, Gatorade inflatables, big screen TVs, International competitors and announcers, TV crews, etc.

Shawn found me in the port-a-potty line (go figure). Even those were more efficient than any other race! By the way, is it UnAmerican to be in the port-a-potty as the National Anthem is being sung? Hey, at least I was sorta standing!!

The pros started at 7am and my wave of women 18+ went off shortly after 7:30am. Yep, that’s right. My wave was ALL of the female non-pro competitors. Me and several hundred other people at the same time. I wasn’t really nervous until we were corralled to the ocean. As soon as they said “Go,” we immediately started running into the water. It was very shallow for a while so swimming was futile. I started well (as much as I could tell). I stuck with a pack and tried to hug the buoys (which seemed to move) as much as I could . Always keep the buoys to your right. The inevitable happened. I got a huge gulp and mouthful of salt water. YUCK. Keep swimming. Try not to panic now. I knew it was going to happen plenty more times over the next 40 or so minutes. I was trying to focus on form, or at least as much as I could with people grabbing at my ankles and swimming over the top of me. The buoys just kept coming. Finally, I saw the last buoy and made the turn. I was still with a pack of people. Keep in mind, that is a rare occurrence for me. The course was a rectangle so I actually glanced at my watch as I made the turn back towards the ocean. 21 minutes…I got excited. Oh my God, I can do this in 40 minutes! Or so I thought. A 40 minute swim is still pretty slow by comparison, but great for me. For as brilliant as the morning was, it started to haunt me on the way back to the beach. The sun was coming up making it difficult to see the buoys on the way back. I started losing my pack because I was drifting to the left. Shit…Get back to the buoys. I started trying to swim in a diagonal pattern back towards the buoys and didn’t seem to make much progress. I was probably now about 10-15 yards away from the pack who continued to blaze ahead while I continued to fight to swim towards them. Once that happened, my usual swimming demons reared their ugly head and I couldn’t ignore the internal, “Why are you so bad at this?” comments. My swim went from “Good Job,” to “You suck” in a moment. I kept thinking, “You are the last wave to go, which means virtually no one is behind you. Please don’t be the last person out of the water.” Fortunately, I wasn’t…I got towards the pier and noticed that most of the spectators had moved on to cheer the others. I finally made it towards the beach and, of course, looked at my watch under the SWIM FINISH tower. 46 minutes. Damn…A brief pity party and then a run up the beach (which also sucked in deep sand and a heart rate of about 190!) Because you’re in salt water, you run through fresh water showers and volunteers are on the other side yelling at you to lay down so they can rip off your wetsuit for you. This is a welcome change from most races where you are on your own. I grabbed my gear bag and the awesome volunteers were there to help me get my shoes ready and pack up all the swim gear that I had just thrown on the ground. I could get used to this. I felt a little chaffing under my arm from my wetsuit so I quickly lathered it with vasoline as I ran towards my bike and began what would be a sub-3:00 excursion through Clearwater. The bike is usually the time where I begin picking off people in my age group. I settle in for about 15 minutes and then I start pushing it. I was anxious to see how many people I could catch today. Believe me, there were plenty of people on the course that I could choose from.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ironman 70.3: Pre-Race Excitement

As I had mentioned earlier on race week, my main stress was actually getting to Tampa/Clearwater and making it in time for Packet Pickup, which was closing at 2:00pm on Friday. As traveling goes, pretty much everything is out of your control. I knew we were landing at Tampa International around 11:30am, which would give us plenty of time to take care of everything we needed. I also knew that if something went wrong, it could throw off everything.

Fortunately, both legs of our flight were picture-perfect. We got to the Austin airport in plenty of time (4:45am for a 6:00am flight!) and got our bags and the bike checked in safely and securely. Check. We made it to Houston and that leg landed in Tampa right on time. Check. Go Continental. As we were walking towards baggage claim, I said to Shawm, "The pilots did their job. Let's see if ground control did theirs."

While Shawn waited for our luggage, I got in line at Budget Rent-a-Car to pick up our car I had reserved earlier in the week. Long Line…no biggie. Why are there about 20 other people standing around though looking very frustrated? I made my way up to the counter and he said, “I see your reservation, but we’re waiting on cars to come back. It’s going to be at least 15-20 minutes before a car is here and ready.” I had time to spare, so it was cool at this point. However, I could tell by the expressions of the other 20 or so people standing around, that it had probably been longer than 15 minutes and they still didn’t have a car.

I walked down to our baggage carousel and didn’t see Shawn. I called his cell and he very calmly and bluntly said, “Your bike never left Austin. I’m in the Continental office.” Surprisingly, no melt-down occurred. Because he was so calm (thank God), I remained calm. The agents in Tampa obviously weren’t to blame and they said that it should make it here by 2:30pm, but they would call regardless. Well it SHOULD have made it on our flight, but it didn’t. I had little faith that my bike was going to make it. Besides the 2pm Athlete Check-In deadline, there was also a 6pm Bike Check-In deadline. The bike and all of your gear had to be in transition by 6pm.

I called my friends Tracy and Bob who were already in Clearwater and let them know of the situation. We were going to go to Athlete Check-In and then head back to the airport for the bike. After waiting over an hour, we finally got our rental. They had given us a discount and upgraded our car for the inconvenience, which ended up being a blessing with the bike box). We made it to the Packet Pickup by 1:15pm and the Volunteers took care of me and handed me my bibs, numbers, gear check bags, shirt, etc. It was a little overwhelming because my heart rate was already elevated from the stress of the morning. It hit me that I’m here for the freaking World Championship Triathlon—a sport that I’m not even very good at doing. It didn’t take long to look around and see the athletic bodies milling around the lobby and the expo. I mean spandex and tight shirts EVERYWHERE! This is where I immediately get psyched out with any race. You overhear people talking about what their next Ironman is going to be and how fast their bike splits are, what crank set they use, whether or not they prefer endurox or perpetuum, etc. And then there’s me who doesn’t even have my bike yet!!

After I got my packet, I had to get weighed. Are you shitting me?? So, like any other natural human being, I take off my shoes and he’s like, “Nope. With your shoes on…” So, it’s 1:30pm, I’ve been drinking water and Gatorade by the busload, eating like a freaking bear going into hibernation for the winter, I hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet that day (#1 or #2) and I’m wearing jeans and tennis shoes. I’m using all of the above as an excuse as to why I came out 6lbs heavier than normal!!!! The guy who weighed me said, “That’s a good fighting weight! You’re going to do great.”
“Thanks jackass. I wasn’t planning on fighting anyone…Until now!”

OK—once the humiliation ended, we picked up our stuff and headed to the Merchandise tent and proceeded to shop. Hell, I’ll probably never make it back to this event so I ended up buying a racing visor, t-shirt and running sweatshirt during this trip. We had time to kill and the airline hadn’t called yet, so we went over to Einstein Brothers Bagels and had a turkey bagel. I also purchased extras for my breakfast in the morning.

While en route back to the airport, I received a call from them letting me know that my bike was officially there. It was about 3:15pm and I still had to get everything in by 6pm. It was Friday afternoon so we had no idea what traffic held for us. Fortunately, it didn’t back up until we were pretty much in back in Clearwater. We pulled into a parking lot by transition and opened the bike box and proceeded to put it together. Pedals…on, seat…on, handlebars…on, wheels…on. A woman let us borrow a pump to blow up the tires. I took it for a quick spin. Nothing seemed to be out of place. I took it for another 30-second spin. Looks ok to me! Ideally, I would’ve liked to have taken it for a 30-min ride, but we just didn’t have the time. I was going on complete and total faith that the bike would get me through the 56 miles. God Bless Shawn for being so patient through all of this. I’ve told him over and over, I would not have done this event without him and his support. Nope. No way.

It was now after 5pm and I had to also pack all of my transition bags. So, in the middle of this parking lot, I was physically and mentally talking myself through the transitions. “Come out of the ocean and I need socks, bike shoes, race belt with number attached helmet, spare tubes and nutrition.” That all goes in the blue bag. “After the bike, I will need my running hat, shoes and power gels. My race belt is already on so I won’t need that.” That goes in the red bag.

At 5:30pm I was standing in line at the transition area with my bike and gear bags. With the stress of the day, I was beat and honestly had no idea whether or not I had everything that I needed packed and ready to go. The volunteers were awesome and helped me find my bike rack and my gear bag rack. What an amazing operation it was. There were still tons of people making their way to transitions with their stuff as well.

After I took care of that, it was only then that I truly looked around and saw what was happening. Ironman 70.3 banners everywhere, inflatables, bleachers, the Swim start tower and corral down by the waterfront, buoys in the water, big screen TVs and The freaking OCEAN in front of me with some of the most pristine white sand ever in my toes. I took a deep breath of relief, nervousness and gratitude and thought to myself, “I made it.”

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Did It!!

It was a whirlwind weekend and I finally got home around 2:00am this morning, but I'm excited to personally report that I had a fantastic race and I couldn't be happier with my personal performance (well...there's that swim thing, but I'll get into that later!)

I'm launching into Turkey Trot hell this week so I'll be writing race reports as the time permits, but I will do it because I don't want to ever forget this once in a lifetime experience of racing with the pros...and not coming in dead last place :-)

My 5:35:37 is an almost 9-minute personal best from my last Half-Ironman in June! I had a plan and In executed it correctly. What more could I ask for of myself??

Reports and photos coming soon!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Race Week: Sufficiently Bloated

Short run on Monday...
Easy bike ride on Wednesday...
Quick Run on Thursday...

Because of the lack of intense training this week, the consumption of multiple calories and the "right on time" presence of Mother Nature, I'm sufficiently bloated heading into the race! Ughhh...I guess that means I'm right on track :-)

File this one in the "Too Cool" Folder:

You can track my race at www.ironman.com
Track An Athlete
Either type in my last name "Sapp" or my bib number "1387"


Conservative, yet realistic expectations are as follows:

Swim: 45-50 min
Bike: 3:00-3:15 (yes, that's 3 hours)
Run: 1:40-1:50

Transitions will be slightly different than I'm used to as I will have separate gear bags for my bike stuff and run stuff. It all won't be shoved under my bike like it usually is.

I'm on my way to becoming an official Ironman, well...at least a half of one anyways.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Race Week: A Few Jitters

4 Days Away

We leave bright and early for Clearwater Beach on Friday morning, but I'm in a virtual marathon until then to catch up on work deadlines, Turkey Trot correspondence and packing my gear. As you may or may not know, packing for a triathlon involves an entire evening of dismantling your bike and going through the mental checklist of everything I will need on race morning--goggles, body glide, wetsuit, sunscreen, socks, timing chip, running shoes, cycling shoes, hat, tri-suit, sunglasses...you get the point.

I met Amy for a Medium Paced 6-mile run on Monday morning. I was planning on taking the day off completely, but Amy called Sunday night looking for a running partner and I couldn't refuse. I was slightly hesitant because I had run Friday, biked 40 miles on Saturday and swam on Sunday Morning. Plus, I had just had a great deep tissue massage on Sunday afternoon. It turned out ok, though and the run felt great. I didn't feel any exhaustion or soreness whatsoever. We averaged a nice 8:46 per mile, so we weren't killing ourselves either.

The rest of the week is a wait and see. I'll probably swim and bike just a bit on Wednesday and then complete one final short 4-5 mile jog on Thursday. Mike, Richard and Thon arranged for an official "Send off" pasta dinner on Thursday after work. God, I love these guys...always looking for an excuse to eat :-)

The real race happens Friday when I arrive in Florida. Apparently, packet pickup ends at 2:00pm on Friday and I arrive in Florida around 11:30am. If all runs smoothly, I'll be fine. If not, I'll have all of my friends bombard the Race Office and let them know I'm en route. here's the number if you want to put it in speed dial. 1-727-593-6081 I'm serious, I may have to cause a scene if I'm running late. I'm definitely cutting it close with the car rental situation, bike transporting and commuting. I'm more nervous about this race than the actual event right now!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Week 13: 14 Mile Mt. Bonnell Run

"Mt. Bonnell is my taper."

I didn't mean for it to be the theme for this morning's run, but it ended up being that way.

I didn't mean for it to sound cocky, pretentious or over-confident. Most would assume that's what it meant. My running partners understand what I mean.

It's not about disrespecting my training. It's about respecting my body and evaluating my current mental and physical strength.

Adding Mt. Bonnell to any workout builds confidence. Adding Mt. Bonnell to a workout a week before my race makes me feel ready...and...trained.

I met Amy this morning at 5:30 to do our 14 Mile Run. It was cold (low 40s) and we, of course, over-dressed. About 2 miles in to the run, we met up with Julie--Amy's massage Therapist. Julie ran with us for several miles as we marched towards Bonnell. The sun started to rise the same time our run started it's rise. we couldn't help but remark at the gorgeous sunrise that we were lucky enough to witness. Absolutely stunning...

The run was a good strategic one...First couple of miles in the low 9:00's, the middle miles in the 8:40s-8:50 range, Mt. Bonnell was a 9:24...The way back home got gradually faster...8:30, 8:24, 8:06, 8:06...start slow and end fast. The way it should be done.

Hopefully, that's how my triathlon will also go next week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Week 13: Run/Swim

Here's why I love Triathlon. You can be laying in the Med Tent after a race receiving IVs and fluid, but the medal is still around your neck and you can still smile at the accomplishment.

OK--I'm not being a total slacker. I have been doing some workouts, but as I told a friend, tapering to me just means cutting back to one workout per day ;-) slightly tongue-in-cheek of course.

Did an 8-Mile Slow Recovery Run

Ate too much freaking Halloween candy and didn't work out at all

I was mentally prepared to do the Gazelle 4-Mile tempo run, but Coach G had Thon and I do a Fartlek workout instead. We warmed up for a good 4 miles, did 12x 1min fast/1min slow fartleks, cooled down for about 1/2 mile. It felt good to get the legs turning! Total--7 Miles

Even though it was 47 degrees this morning, I dragged myself to Barton Springs for a Mile Swim a Race Pace effort. I say effort because I forgot to wear a watch to time myself. It felt pretty darn good except when that long, lean swimmer glided right past me! Actually, because it was so cool this morning, I virtually had the Springs all to myself with the exception of about 4 others who also braved the cold. The cool thing about Barton Springs is that when it's 47 degrees outside, the 68 degree water actually feels oddly warm.

Doing my long run tomorrow and a 36-40 mile ride on Saturday called the Tour de Gruene. I'll probably swim on Sunday and then really back off next week. I can't believe I've made it through these last 13 weeks of intense training. I'm feeling good and strong. No real time goals, but I did Eagleman in 5:44. It would be great to at least equal that, if not improve slightly.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Week 13: Catholic Taper

I must give credit to my training partner Thon for coining the above subject line. He’s right. I’m less than two weeks away from my Ironman 70.3 Race and I’m having a heck of a time beginning my taper. Self-Inflicted pain is sometimes much easier than slowing down and actually resting.

Carrie Enters Confessional

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It’s been an ungodly amount of years since I’ve been to confession. (pardon the pun, father) I had impure thoughts this morning about doing a brick workout. Satan appeared to me in the form of a wetsuit and Mizuno running shoes. I looked at the devil and, with all the might I could muster, turned around and walked away from him. I decided to make today a rest day. Is that ok, Father? Can my penance be a day off? Or, should my penance be a 4-Mile tempo run on Wednesday and a 14 Mile Mt. Bonnell run on Friday to make up for my guilty pleasure of rest. I’m not sure what’s right or wrong anymore, Father. I know I should enjoy my rest time, but I feel guilty.”

Help me, Father…

Priest Starts Laughing his Ass Off
“Young Lady, are you kidding? Most people come to me with real problems. Adultery, Thievery, Murder…You’re coming to me because you slept in until 6:30am?? Get out of here and come back when you have real issues. You’ve done your work. You’ve trained hard for the last 13 weeks to get to this point. Now go home, say a couple of rosaries and enjoy a day of relaxation.

“But Father…I do have horrible thoughts. I have thoughts of killing every Female aged 30-34 in my upcoming race.”

“Oh—in that case—you’re fine. I absolve you of any guilt. Knock ‘em Dead Kiddo. ”

Monday, October 30, 2006

Week 12: Sat/Sun Recap

Wow...many thanks to the kindness of friends. Life really does come full-circle in the most humorous of ways. On Saturday, I temporarily moved into a house that I used to live in five years ago, except now it's completely empty save for my two boxes of clothes, bathroom stuff, our bikes and our trusty air mattress! Even my cat is giving me the "haven’t I been here before and why are we back?” looks. I swear when all of this is finished, we will all need therapy, especially the cat! We finally vacated Shawn’s apartment that he had sub-leased a month ago. Fortunately, our friend Cathy (and my former roommate) just bought a new house and her old one (that we used to live in) doesn’t close until November 20th. So, while it’s empty, cavernous and lacking a fridge and TV, it is a roof over our heads as we continue to hope and pray that our abode finishes in the next two weeks. Plus, it’s very close to downtown making it easy and more convenient. (If you can call squatting in an empty house ‘convenient.’)

In between moving, I did manage to pack in my last weekend of heavy training before the November 11th Half-Ironman in Florida.


Most of the Gazelles head towards Mt. Bonnell for 14-16 miles, while our little posse of White Rock Marathoners headed towards Shoal Creek for 20 miles. Everyone had a great run and I’ll give credit to cool temperatures for this one. It simply was a gorgeous cool morning for a run. Gilbert set out some water for just the 5 of us (bless his heart) along the course so we were never too far away from hydration. As per usual, the conversation ran the gamut of everything from natural childbirth to bathroom habits…three hours is a long time!

My last three miles rocked with a 7:49, 7:43 and 7:25 respectively. Serious negative splits. Overall, our pace was a solid 8:39 for the entire 20+ mile run. Now, if only the marathon wasn’t still 6 weeks away!

We finished the run and headed to our usual Mi Madres where we were joined by Hava, Richard, Stephanie and Shawn for some breakfast taco delights. I was in for more delights when I had a pseudo-celebrity sighting at the restaurant: Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Aaron Peirsol…yummy… He looked slightly odd until we realized that he had an ice pack on his shoulder making him look rather hunched-back. Of course, I had no idea what to say to him…”Um, how are your medals dangling these days?” or "Do you always wear your spandex that low?" So I just admired through the window. Stephanie captured some of these moments on camera! It was hard to find the perfect picture of him to post on the site, but www.aaronpeirsolonline.com will provide hours of useless eye-candy. (I'm having photo issues so I'll post some later!!)

After a 20 mile Run, moving and watching the Buckeyes beat up on Minnesota, I pretty much collapsed at about 9:30pm on Saturday night. The time change was a mental break too knowing that I could get an extra hour of sleep with no alarm clocks to disturb me. I awoke to the brightest sun I’d seen in a long time and headed to Barton Springs around 8:00am for a wonderful 1.4 mile swim. There were moments where I actually felt like a swimmer!! I don’t have my watch with me, but my 5 lap splits were great for me: all were between 9:33-9:50 per lap. While taking off my wetsuit afterward, I struck up idle chatter with a guy who was also leaving the pool in a wetsuit. Of course, the first question is always, “What are you training for?” He told me he was a week away from IM Florida and I told him I’m two weeks away from IM70.3! We discussed the merits of a full Ironman vs. a Half-Ironman. I told him that I mentally wasn’t ready to tackle a full IM. He jokingly said, “Sure you are. It all sucks after 5 hours anyways.” I wish I would’ve thought for one sec to ask his name so that I could follow his progress this weekend during the race. It definitely wasn’t his first Rodeo.

After a nutritious breakfast at Austin Java complete with oatmeal, eggs, fruit and half of a granola/blueberry pancake, we loaded up our bikes and headed to South Austin where we ended up doing a 40-Mile Ride. It was pretty windy and I didn’t overexert myself too much. By the end of it, I was definitely tired, but with the proper nutrition could’ve definitely continued. My legs were also a little sore from the 20 miler the day before…go figure.

It’s amazing how much we packed into two short days. I’m definitely getting excited for the race. I’m taking my bike in the week for a final tune up and overview. I’ll get a course description out in a few days.

In the meantime, I must focus on rest and cheering on my partners who are running the NY marathon and IM Florida this weekend!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Week 12: Wednesday and Thursday Recap

Ok--I sufficiently punished myself for "slacking off" earlier in the week. Sadly, I define "slacking off" by resting one day and sleeping in until like 6:00am. What a lazy ass I am :-)


After missing the official 800s track workout and catching some friendly hell from Running Hubby Mike, I decided to leave my desk at 11am, take an early lunch and hit the gym. I started with a 2000 (1.4 mile) straight freestyle swim in the pool that took me 47 minutes. Now, the 1/2 Ironman is a 1.2 Mile swim. If all was equal, I could do the 1.2 in roughly 42 minutes. Still slow, but a PR for me. Someday, I'll go sub-40, but probably not this year. Of course, not all is equal. This was in the pool and I'll be in the Gulf Coast. This was in my swim suit and I'll be in a wetsuit. This was a solo lane swim and I'll be getting my face smacked by hands and feet for the first several hundred meters in murky ocean water. All that aside, I was happy overall at the consistency of each lap and my lack of utter exhaustion, I went at about 80 % effort and focused on my catch. I was very surprised at how good I felt...so good, in fact, that I hopped on the treadmill and ran 5.5. miles. Within that treadmill run, I threw in 5 x 1/2 mile repeats at a 6:20 pace. I know I was getting goofy looks from other gym goers as they would hear the belt speed up to "blender-like" proportions every couple of minutes. I tried to maintain good form for a treadmill, but had to hold on for dear life for brief moments. All in all, I felt vindicated. It's amazing how my stress level went down and my mood perked just from completely a solid workout.


Got up and met Amy and Mike for a 7 Mile Scenic Run. Nothing too fast, just a good solid effort on some hills. I finished around 7am and took that opportunity to head to Stacy Pool for an additional 45-minute swim workout that included some laps with hand paddles (increase resistance and arm strength) and fins (leg and kicking strength). I compare this workout to a light weight session at the gym.

So, in the last two days, I've thrown together two decent swims and two respectable runs. I plan on swimming (or resting) Friday because I've got a 20-mile run scheduled for Saturday and a 40-50 mile bike ride scheduled for Sunday. This is my last "heavy" weekend until Ironman 70.3 in Clearwater Beach.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week 12: Mary Lou Retton Moment

I was 10 years old in 1984 when Mary Lou Retton became America's Sweetheart at the Olympics. I was as much of a tomboy as you could be and yet, I suddenly found myself out on the driveway attempting to do cartwheels and handstands because I wanted to be just like her. I suddenly wanted to be an Olympic gymnast and I made a pact to practice for hours on end until I could wear the spandex and salute the crowds after a Perfect "10" vault jump. Big dreams for a short, chunky, tomboy who, up to this point, had only really excelled at basketball, softball, wiffleball and football--you know, the stuff four big brothers make you play.

Obviously, I never pursued the red, white and blue spandex with any more vigor, but I have to admit I had another one of those "Mary Lou Retton moments" this weekend upon hearing that Austin's Desiree Ficker had run the Ironman of her life to come from 16th on the bike to place 2nd in KONA. Suddenly, I felt inspired to do the same. It didn't seem totally out of touch. I heard that little voice going, "You could do that someday!" (Not win, of course, but at least participate) See, unlike Mary Lou Retton, I've personally experienced the force of Desiree. I've competed in some of the same races she has dominated. We follow her progress in Austin through her Coach (and mine) Gilbert. It was only compounded when my darling fiance said, "You should just do the Ironman in Hawaii next year and we'll have our wedding there in Kona!" His "ha ha ha," was followed by my "hmmmmm...."

In all honesty, this is not my time for Ironman. Maybe someday, but not now. Maybe Kona, but probably not. There's this little thing called "qualifying" that has to take place first! I'd love to look at IM Arizona or IM Couer d'Alene, but not for a couple of years. Right now, I'm focusing on getting through the next two months of my life alive and well.

All of the stresses are beginning to converge and that delicate balance that I felt a couple of weeks ago is getting a little unstable. This weekend, we have to move to temporary housing YET AGAIN because our home still isn't finished. I can't tell you how unsettling it's been moving twice, living out of a box and a closet and sleeping on an air mattress. Thank God we have a sense of humor about it, but even the humor fades after a month. My Half-Ironman and Marathon training is getting harder and harder because the days are getting shorter and shorter and my valid excuse list is growing longer and longer. I talked Turkey Trot the other day. I try to fit in email correspondence and paperwork regarding Turkey Trot either before work or after work (thus making the days even shorter). Oh yeah--then there's that work thing with deadlines and stuff. How dare my retail clients want to place some holiday advertising!! While we've talked wedding, we haven't started planning yet, which stresses me out knowing the longer we wait to set a date, the harder it is to plan. Breathe sister, breathe...one thing at a time.

Two days in a row now I've slept in and skipped my morning workouts with the "I'll go at lunch" excuse. I ran 8 miles on Monday. Yesterday, I never actually left the office until almost 7pm so it became a "rest day." We'll see what happens today. My alarm went off this morning and I heard rain outside. Thinking no one would be running, I slept in and just drove by Runtex on my way into an work. You can imagine the guilt as I drove by familiar cars of those who sucked it up. My swim suit, running clothes and bike are all in the Element ready to go. No excuses...I must swim at some point today.

The next four weeks are going to be crazy, but I know I'll come through unscathed with more gratitude than ever before. We should all be so lucky to have such exciting things happening at once. Even Mary Lou Retton would be jealous of me...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Turkey Trot Update

Oh my God…The ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is a month from today! Where does the time go?! I’m through the bulk of permitting and I’m now just solidifying approval from area businesses to shut the streets down for a couple of hours. Fortunately, this isn’t much of an issue since the race happens to be on a holiday with very little downtown activity. Nonetheless, the paperwork must be sent out and signed before a race can happen!

Still working on the Traffic Plan with the City of Austin as we determine just how many lanes should be shut down to traffic. Of course, the more lanes you shut, the more your race costs increase! Our main goal is to donate as much money as we can to charity, so we are always sensitive to any rate increases. Up ahead: continued approval and signoffs, ordering billboards, banners and other promotional items, putting out public notice signs, door hangers to the neighbors, ordering port-o-pots and tents, working with sponsors, scheduling volunteers and WONDERFUL PACKET STUFFING!!

Here’s the scoop on Packet Stuffing: I’m hoping to make it much LESS laborious than in year’s past!!

WHEN: Sunday, November 19th from about 1p-5p
WHERE: Runtex--Riverside and Barton Springs
WHAT: Race Packet Stuffing (we’re only going to stuff 3-4,000 instead of last year’s 7,000!

WHY: To help me (and to get a free shirt and ThunderCloud Sub)

If you’d like to volunteer a few hours, it would be very much appreciated. Some of you have already generously offered and I love you for it! If you live out of state, you just don’t know what you’re missing!!! Send me an email or leave a comment to help!

Oh—and by all means, sign up to run at www.thundercloud.com!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Week 11: Weekend Recap

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to Austin's own triathlete Desiree Ficker for her 2nd Place finish at the Ironman World Championships in KONA! She kicked ass crossing the finish line wearing her Jack and Adams visor!! Am I allowed to brag that we have the same Running Coach??

Also, Congratulations to the many Gazelles and my Ohio friends Beth and Pete who ran the Chicago Marathon this morning! From what I hear, it was brutal. It's a damn marathon. Of course it's brutal. Everyone should be commended for their efforts!

A quick recap of my weekend. Because of my "engagement encounter" weekend, I did my long run on Friday with Thon. Our original goal was to run 16 miles total, with about 12 of them at a 7:30 pace...Well...it didn't quite work out that way. For various reasons (namely the fact that we were tired), we cut the workout short to 12-13 miles. I ended up running 10 of those at a decent 7:40 pace. I was just running out of gas, not to mention the fact that it was pitch dark and we spent an excessive amount of energy concentrating on where the hell we were and trying not to trip and fall.

I was able to squeeze a 1-mile swim in at Barton Springs early Saturday morning before heading back to my Marriage Class. I'm vey happy to report that it was one of my best open water swims in a while. My one-hour training with Tracy has really made a difference in my mental and physical technique. I could've done more, but ran out of time! (9:38, 9:45, 9:52, 10:00) Not bad considering I was regressing to 10:15s and 10:20s last week.

Sunday was cold and very windy at the start of the morning. As the day progressed, the temperatures rose, but the wind never really died down. As much as I didn't want to ride in the wind, I, of course, had to convince myself to get on the bike and just suck it up. Who knows what weather I'll have on the Florida coast? I ended up riding 3 large loops in South Austin (a little over 17 miles per loop). So, in just about 52 miles, I averaged a little over 17mph, which was phenomenal for me considering the wind gusts that were just debillitating at times. After I finished the 52 mile ride, I hopped off my bike and ran 3 miles...8:07, 7:49, 7:12...very pleased with today's workout.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Week 11: 50min Run/1:30 Bike

Late evening rainstorms on Wednesday night cleared the air and finally cooled Austin down to more reasonable Fall-Like weather. I just could not bear the thought of hopping into a cold pool this morning when the air was so cold and breezy. Instead, I got up at 6:00am and ran in my current temporary neighborhood of Great Hills. Need I say more? Great...Hills...oxymoron. I wasn't out to break any records, but the run started out by climbing a huge hill and continued for the rest of the run. My quads were pretty hollow, leading me to quickly realize that they were still sore from yesterday morning's hilly run. I don't run much in this hood, so it was a pleasant change of scenery, if you can call running by moonlight "scenery." It was just me and a few random deer who were looking at me like, "Are you kidding me? Get back to bed girlfriend." With all the external stress in my life right now, running in the dark provides a little solace if nothing else. I ran by a street named "Zeus" and I laughed out loud. It just sounded powerful and potentially brutal. What did I so? I turned on the street preparing for a climb. What I got instead was a small flat cul-de-sac. I still applauded my tough intentions. I finished my 50 min run and was going to go to the pool and swim, but traffic was horrible, so I ran out of time and just headed to work and got a much-needed headstart on some work projects.

I'm not used to serious training this late in the season, so I've learned to try to take advantage of every spare moment to squeeze in a workout, even if it's a small one. Today was the day of the infamous "Battle of the Media Stars." Basically, all of the radio stations, TV stations and some ad agencies get together and compete all afternoon in activities such as tug of war, the potato sack race, balloon toss, etc. While it is a fundraiser for AWRT (American Women in Radio and TV), it's also an excuse to leave work and drink in the middle of the afternoon. While these activities can hardly be considered a workout, I did sneak out at about 5:15p, hopped on my bike and headed out on South Mopac for what turned out to be a 1:30 ride. It was a breezy, gorgeous afternoon. Unfortunately, it was also rush hour and I was riding on some of the busiest streets in town so I was being extra cautious. I started on South Mopac and headed up 360 to Bee Caves. At that point, I turned around and headed back South and made a turn onto Lost Creek. I drive this road when heading towards my swim class, but I've never ridden it. This road is full of some monster hills. I'm not sure why I was a glutton for punishment today with all of these hills, but I decided that I wanted to climb them...Yowsa. My quads weren't happy, but I got up the hills and headed back towards Zilker Park. I got a new saddle a couple of weeks ago from the fabulous Jack and Adams and it seems to have solved my problems! I actually feel comfortable now. They tweaked my height and positioning, making a huge difference in my comfort level. The real test will be this weekend during my 60 Mile Ride.

I'm nervous about tomorrow's 16 Mile Run. Not only are my quads tired, but several of these miles are going to be at an attempted 7:30pace. I hope I can hang...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 11: 8 Mile Run/ 1 Mi Swim

Did an 8 mile run through the hills of Rollingwood this morning with Thon. Thank God it was pitch dark. I would've hated to look ahead and see a couple of the hills we climbed and descended. The worst part? we had to turn around and run it in reverse for our out-and-back course. I'm typically not a fan of out-and-backs, but there is some solace in knowing that you are "on your way back home."

We met at Barton Springs Pool this morning, so I had no excuse not to submerge my lazy butt in the water. Because I was sweating, there was no way I could put on a wetsuit. Trying to put a wetsuit on while you're sweating is like trying to pull a small condom over a normal person's body. It "ain't" happening....Therefore, I had to brave the 68 degree water in just my suit. I'm such a wuss and the first several yards were brutal. However, I stuck with it and completed a Mile---BUT---I alternated between using paddles and fins for more of a strength workout. Tomorrow, I'll practice a normal 2000m swim with wetsuit.

My Half-Ironman is coming up on November 11th and I can't wait. This weekend, I'll be doing a longer run on Friday morning and a 60 mile or so ride on Sunday. Saturday is reserved for all-day classes on how to be a good Catholic wife. I can't believe they only set aside one day for me! I think a long-ass brick would be easier at this point!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Week 11: Post Gluttony Weekend

He did it! My brother finished the Columbus Marathon and I'm so proud of him for sticking through even though I know there were moments when he was cursing the heavens above for ever getting himself into this mess. It's his third marathon and he barely had a chance to train for it at all, so finishing with a 5:10 is a major accomplishment in and of itself.

As for me, I spent the weekend surrounded by the three most important things in my life: Family, Friends and Faith (and copious amounts of bad food). I love going home to visit, but it's always a danger zone because I tend to slip into old patterns with relatively no effort at all. I did manage one swim workout thanks to my friend, coach and kickass triathlete Tracy. She offered to look at my stroke and giv me some pointers. That, of course, turned into a one hour lesson!! Because we were on the go so much with my parents, Shawn's parents, friends and other family, we did not get a chance to run otherwise. It's a shame because while it was chilly, the weather was gorgeous and the leaves were changing during this midwestern autumn weekend. It's definitely a change from the 90 degree days we're still having in Austin. Other than that, the only running I did was alongside my brother for about 1/2 mile during the maraton at mile 21. We called my Mom and let her know that he was doing great! ( and to have a pillow ready for him when we got home for our family cookout)

All in all, it was a fabulous and relaxing weekend in Ohio. We spent the day with both of our parents and it makes me so thankful and grateful that we all get along. I watched the football game with some old high school friends, many of whom I haven't seen in 5-6 years! It was just like old times with beer and pizza. The only difference? They all have toddlers and infants now!!! My, how things change. I visited with my friend Lisa on the marathon course who was out there cheering for her sister at mile 21. I, too, watched my brother achieve his goal and we celebrated that with a cookout at Mom and Dad's house, complete with my three sis-in-laws, 8 nieces and 1 nephew. Seriously, does it get any better than that?

While I love living in the 'fantasy world,' it didn't take long to get back to reality on Monday. I'm having soooo much trouble getting up early now to train. It's darker than ever right now (two weeks until daylight savings!!) which just makes you want to stay asleep longer. After work on Monday, I had to coerce myself into doing a quick brick workout before it got dark...35 minutes on the bike followed by a 35 minute run...Nothing major...nothing strenuous...just a little kick back into reality.
I tried to get up early this morning to go to swim workout...no dice. I'm at the end of my training season and I can taste it. I'll practice my new swim form at lunch.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week 10: 7-Mile Run and 2000m Swim

Did 7-Mile Fartlek Run with Mike and Thon on Wednesday morning and followed that up with a 1.4 Mile swim at Barton Springs (2000m). Felt good about the energy of the morning workouts after a very slow, groggy, start....More on that in a few days

I'm getting ready to go to Ohio over the weekend to watch my brother run in the Columbus Marathon. His email to me pretty much sums up the Marathon experience:

He wrote:
"I have two goals for the marathon, the first is to cross the finish line and the second is to not die. If I do both of those then I'll be happy. "

Amen, brother.
Run like hell and know that I'll be watching you.
(Just don't break a 3:35 or I'll be forced to whoop your ass at the Whiterock Marathon in December)

Can't wait to be the proud sister!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Week 10: Swim

Today was slightly a comedy of workout errors, but I did manage to get a little workout in when all was said and done. I was going to swim at Barton Springs this morning, but we got some much needed rain this morning, making the skies dark when they weren't full of lightening. Therefore, I didn't really want to run or bike so I just headed into work early and got a lot accomplished! I had actually worn my swimsuit to work today underneath my jeans and shirt as a constant reminder to myself that I was not going to weasel out of a swim today. My plan B was to go at lunchtime, but my boss invited me to lunch and we ended up going to get our nails done afterward (the rough life of advertising). Sooooo...that left me with after work.

I went over to the YMCA and conducted a short, but effective workout.

I did a 600meter warmup followed by 10 x 50m intervals on the :20. I was moderately pleased with how the workout went.

In the warmup, I averaged between 1:11-1:16 per lap and during the speed intervals, I averaged between 1:04-1:06. I only completed 10 x50s, but could've easily done at least 15. I say that now, but I know I was huffing and puffing during the swim.

I ended the workout with another 500meters using just the pull buoy between my legs and no paddles. I did this to focus on my arm movements and form.

So, total workout was only about 1600meters, but it was a good one.

Hopefully, I'll swim again tomorrow after my run if it's not raining!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Week 10: 10 Mile Run/30 min Swim

I'm down to the last few weeks of heavy training for the IM70.3 World Championship Race in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Of course, there's that part of me that just can't wait to turn it down a few notches and actually stay up past 10pm on Saturday night. Then there's that other side that's scared of becoming idle, becoming lazy, becoming complacent, becoming restless...Always wanting to turn the page to the next chapter before I'm finished with the one I'm currently reading.

I met Amy this morning at 5:45am for what became a decent 10-mile recovery run. After waiting for Thon for a few extra minutes, we headed off on the Longhorn Dam Trail with Mace in hand. It's the first time in a while that it was just the two of us. Neither one of us really wanted to do any speedwork today, so we turned it into a recovery run and still ended up around an 8:40 pace for the run. I'm still feeling the effects of needing a good massage in my lower back this morning. Everything else felt pretty good, surprisingly.

After the run, I headed over to Stacy Pool for a 30min straight swim with the hand paddles and pull buoy. Because I had just worked my legs on the trail, I was interested in working my arms in the water in hopes of gaining some strength and speed at some point. Essentially, you put the pull buoy between your legs rendering them useless in the water. It also lifts your lower body to the surface of the water. The paddles create a non-weight bearing resistance...It's almost as if you are pushing through a wall instead of just the water with your hands. I really tried to focus on every element of my stroke to figure out what is going on. Based on my coaching and verbal feedback, I feel like I'm swimming correctly, but I'm definitely not picking up speed. Nonetheless, it was a relaxing 30 minutes and I felt a little vindicated from yesterday's fiasco of a swim. I just wish the paddles were legal in a race! :-)

I'm gearing up for an interesting weekend in Ohio. The man and I are going to visit our families this weekend in Columbus and it also happens to be the weekend of the Columbus Marathon. Yes, the temptation to sign up on a whim is there, but I'm resisting the urge to run two marathons and one half-ironman in a one month span. I'm motivated, but not stupid. One of my brothers is running the full Marathon however so I hope to cheer him on at various points along the way! (and hope that he doesn't beat the family Marathon PR that I set in Boston this year with a 3:35!) Nothing like a little family competition to keep us all motivated!! I absolutely love running Marathons, but I get almost as much pleasure from watching others cross the finish line beaming with pride (and blood and tears and vomit and gatorade and gu and everything else that comes along with earning that medal).

In addition to the Marathon, we'll be spending time with our parents and families and doing a little wedding research. I'm looking forward to getting out of Austin for the weekend even though it's supposed to be in the mid-40s in Ohio. Freaking Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (considering I'm still wearing flip flops and tank tops as of this morning!) It probably means no long bike ride this week, which is ok since I've put in a couple of back-to-back longer rides. I'll probably try to do something on Thursday morning, but my riding time is limited to actual daylight and the sun doesn't come up until about 7am these days! This week is about swimming more than anything. Even if they're short workouts, I want time in the water to get over some of this irrational fear and anxiety that seems to be sweeping over me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Week 9: Sat Bike/Run Brick and Sun. Swim

While sitting at Whole Foods this afternoon reading the paper and enjoying one of the most beautiful days I've seen in a long time, I read an article that summarized "How to Be Happy." While I don't have the article in front of me, some of the main points I remember clearly:

1.) Simplify your life--you wouldn't believe how much stuff we have consolidated, sold, donated and just plain thrown away during this neverending move and transformation. Just today, I packed up about 20 old race t-shirts to take to Goodwill. Yes, many of them hold some special significance, but if they're dated 2003 and the tag is still on them, they are better suited for someone who truly needs a shirt on their back. Me? I've got plenty. Over the last two months, I've realized that all I need is a laptop (with free wireless) and an air mattress...and my bike...and my running shoes. Ok--not too much!

2.) Spend time with friends--I meet various friends every day for workouts, runs, happy hours, dinners, you name it. Admittedly, I'm more into nesting these days as my fiance and I want to spend time together. However, there is no substitute for a night out with the girls. On Friday night, my friend Genny and her new Hubby Shane were in town from Portland. A group of folks including Jill, Katy, Jen and Andrew all met on 2nd Street for dinner and a glass of wine. While I left fairly early (I had just run 20 miles that morning), I was still able to watch some of the criteirum bike race that was taking place on the streets of downtown.

3.) Treating Yourself to Nice Meals and Savoring Them--OK, so Firebowl ain't exactly topping the Zagat's list, but I definitely take pleasure in every meal and treat myself to "bad foods" when the need arises.

4.) Exercise--Nuff said. Above everything else, exercise has changed my life in more dramatic ways than I can ever imagine. It's filled my life with discipline, passion, education and self-respect.

On Saturday morning, I met the T3 gang for a 40+ Mile Bike Ride in South Austin. As usual, the group quickly broke up into smaller groups and I found myself right between the speed extremes. I averaged over 17 mph overall, which is great! I was very happy with this average in some wind and hills. Overall, it was a fast ride and some loops I'll definitely do again around Circle C and South Mopac. It's so cool to ride with a group because cars actually look out for you! Plus, the group mentally helps that "race mode" kick in a bit.

I followed this bike ride up with a 5.4 Mile Run (2 x 2.7 Mile Loops) around the Circle C hood. I averaged a very healthy 7:40 pace for this run off the bike. Again, I was very happy with this as I'm hoping to average right around 8min miles at my Half-Ironman. Plus, let's not forget that I was a mere 24 hours removed from a 20 mile run and about 5 minutes removed from a fast 40 mile bike ride.

On Sunday morning, I slept in. Yep, that's right. I let Mother Nature wake me up when she wanted. No alarm clocks... no swim class... just a pleasant quiet Sunday morning. I got up around 7:20am (damn), made coffee (after digging through a couple of boxes to find it!) and sat out on our balcony and read some of my "Anti-Bride Guide." Shawn and I then spent the next couple of hours doing what we do best--PACKING and consolidating. We went our separate ways for a while so that I could swim at Barton Springs. This was one of the most discouraging swims I've had in a while. I couldn't relax at all...My times for each lap sucked. 10+ minutes. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong, but it was terribly discouraging. My goal was to do 5 x 400m laps. I stopped at 3 laps and almost got out of the pool. I waited a couple of minutes and forced myself to do one more. I called it quits after 4 laps, which is one mile. Grrrr......

I gathered my senses after beating myself up for a few minutes, stopped by Jack and Adams to get some new goggles and pick up my wheel and then headed to Whole Foods to meet my future husband. That's when I read the article about how to be happy. And you know what??? I am...I REALLY AM.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Week 9: 20-Mile Run

Well Damn…In an attempt to add some code and a www.raceathlete.com sidebar to my blog, I inadvertently deleted all of my personal sidebar links. Poopers...I guess that’s why I write commercials for a living and don’t write programming code! I’m sure I’ll get it all back up soon.

In the meantime, I want to recap my 20mile run this morning with Thon and Amy. Once again, weekend obligations prompted us to do our run on Friday instead of Saturday. While I miss running with the other gaggle of Gazelles, there is something refreshing about tackling 20 miles on a Friday morning and knowing that it is a hurdle that has already been crossed for the weekend. Plus, it’s fun going to work knowing that I have 20 miles on my feet already under my belt and most of these people haven’t yet put 20 miles on their cars! (Of course, I’ve also already consumed about 1000 calories!)

We did an out-and-back run this morning starting at Runtex. Thon put together a fantastic course that included lots of streets and paths that we don’t normally take. It was a very refreshing change from the same old routine. Ironically, the first several miles were run by nothing but moonlight. We started on the usual trail, ran up West Ave, left on 10th, 11th or 12th…Hell, I don’t know. It was dark. Somehow, we ended across Lamar and into Pease Park where we stopped for Endurox that Thon had so strategically placed outside his place!! What a refresher. Damn that stuff is good when you really need it most. We proceeded up towards Niles Road and across Mopac onto the streets of Tarrytown. Things became familiar here as we headed towards the boat docks and stopped for Gatorade that Amy had stashed at 5:15am. We took our usual Scenic route up to the dry cleaners and stopped to talk briefly with Cindy and Tonya who were also running today! This, fortunately, was our turnaround point. As we ran back, it was as if we were starting completely over with the run. The sun was rising. Kids were going to school. Adults were heading to work. Traffic…Where did this come from? I made a distinct mental and verbal note that while I felt great cardio-wise, my legs just felt sore. My lower back started to hurt, which usually means that my hips are also tight. Thon put it a good way. Our luxury car is running on bald tires. It’s truly a function of much-needed stretching and massage. We made another Endurox stop at Thon’s while I had to make a much-needed pit stop in his restroom (in honor of Frank!). The last four miles proceeded as normal on the trail and we ended our 20-miler feeling strong, content and ready for the weekend.

Our overall pace was pretty moderate at a 9:10-9:15 overall. I must say, it felt pretty darn slow, so I’m pleasantly surprised with the end result. Of course, this time does not reflect our water breaks or “pit stops.”

On tap for this weekend:

Sat: Bike/Run brick
Sun Swim and possible Bike

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Punch List

When you're almost done building a home, you create a "punch list" of everything that is wrong or needs fixed before you can close. I think they call it a "punch" list because it's what you want to do to the builder by the time you're done creating the list. Our prelim list is 5 pages and we're supposed to close in two weeks. It's crunch time. Or, should I say, "punch time."

Week 9: 2000m Repeats

My friend and running partner Amy was lamenting yesterday about not being motivated right now to run. Keep in mind this is coming from a girl who just ran a 3:18 in Boston and still runs 7 days a week and 50+ miles!!! Not motivated??? What she was really saying was she's not motivated for the strict regime of Gazelle track and speed workouts. Her real enjoyment these days comes from simply running. What a concept...

For the next few weeks, I'm still very tied to the training regime. I can't say that I look forward to these speed workouts, but I always learn a little something about my progress when I compare results.

Yesterday's workout was 2000m repeats in Zilker Park with a 2:00-2:30min rest in between (I never did figure out what it was). The last time we did these was in August and I did four repeats.

I did:

8:38, 8:13, 8:19, 8:07 (That's good solid pace somewhere around the 6:40ish range)

After consulting a few marathon pace calculators, wisdom shows that if you want to run a 3:20 marathon, you should be running 2000m repeats between 8:20-8:30. I was right on target in August. I had no idea what I had in me yesterday.

As usual, it was dark as hell and we made the 1.4 mile trek from Runtex to Zilker Park. I twas a pretty large group today as the Gazelle Austin marathon group was also coming to Zilker to run 1000m repeats. It was good to see friends who had been away for a while (Jennifer is back!!) We started our first repeat in a rather large group that separated itself quickly. Boy, were we surprised to notice (or feel) a new speedbump that had been installed around the first turn!! No one bit the dust, but it certainly caught a few of us by surprise...just when you think you know every inch from running in the dark so much!

Repeat #1: 8:40 (a tad slow, but a good way to start)

Time to pick it up for the next one. It looked like my group had the same thought.

Repeat 2: 8:06 (too fast for me!)

Frank, Marcy and Thon were on fire and finishing with sub 8:00s or just around the 8:00 mark. That's amazing!!

Repeat 3: 8:11 ( a little fast, but more like it)

Repeat 4: 8:11 (consistency is good). I was pooped and very content with quitting. Coach stopped the Chicago people after this one. Hubby Mike had to split to go off to work. G told Thon and I to run another one. Damn...What's left in the tank?

Repeat 5: 8:14 (not bad) I could feel my body wanting to slow down big time, but when I turned that final corner on Barton Springs Road, I kicked it in as much as I could. Thon still managed to blow right by me for a fast finished. Thon also managed to blow (again!). As we were finishing, I heard that familiar cough and *bleh* here came the Gatorade. I'm just pissed that Thon pukes and STILL beats me every time. Bastard....

I was so pleased with these results. If nothing else, like I told Amy, sometimes I have to run fast just to prove that I can.

That's how I feel about most things in general. I put a lot of things on my plate and set such high goals just to prove that I can. To push through pain...to struggle a little. This workout is proof positive that the hard work does pay off in a big way. It also strengthens my pride and gratitude for the end result, which makes me a happier person.

It also makes me a hungry person! Man, is my appetite continuously buzzing these days! I guess that means the systems are working properly!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Week 9: Swim and Bike

Tuesday was a non-eventful training day filled with my 5:45 Swim Class and a simple 45-minute Bike Ride after work.

Swim Class:

In yesterday's class, I was very clearly stuck between two lanes. As usual, I hopped in the far lane (my slow comfort lane) and began my workout with three others. Coach stopped me and asked me to go to lane two where I'd have a little more space. Problem? Yesterday's lane two swimmers were much faster than me for the most part. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. Lane one would've been less challenging (2:40 100s), but I would've been the "fast" one. Lane two was almost too fast (1:50 100s)and I was working extra hard to keep up. Unfortunately, working extra hard wears me out and my form suffers. (I'm more of a 2:15 100 swimmer) Plus, it's an ego blow not being able to keep up. Well, I headed to Lane two and did surprisingly well. Yes, the others swam about :30 faster than me and yes I got less rest in between each set, but I only had to let them pass me one time during a 100m repeat. Here's the ironic thing: When I'm wearing the pulls and fins (i.e. toys), I do amazingly well and can keep up--even pass others who are much faster swimmers. My disconnect is translating that into good form without the toys. I finished the workout feeling good about my efforts even though I was, in fact, the "slow one."

Bike Ride:

So, after work, I hopped on my bike and did a very unscientific and unstrategic 45 minute ride through Bouldin Creek. Nothing fancy...a couple of climbs and some downhills...It's all just time in the saddle!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Week 9: 10 Mile Run/Recovery Week

I did a 10-Mile Run on Monday morning. The goal was to run the first 5 miles easy and the last 5 miles hard. Coach wanted the 2nd 5 miles to be 3-5 minutes faster than the first.

This workout today confirmed exactly what I already knew—I needed a “recovery” run more than anything else. While I completed the workout successfully juding by my two splits, it definitely wasn’t at any kind of race pace for me. Throughout the entire workout, I felt very relaxed cardio-wise, but was very aware of overall soreness and fatigue in my legs. Funny how that fatigue mysteriously disappears when I force myself to pick up the pace...When I finished, I did some strides to help loosen up the hips and I stretched for a bit. Imagine that--I didn't feel as beat up.

1st 5 Miles 50:32
2nd 5 Miles 41:19

Completed Time 1:31:51

This is a Recovery week on the training schedule so I'll be doing shorter, more intense workouts--except for that 20 Mile Run Looming on Friday morning.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Week 8: Sat 60 mile Ride/Sun Rest

I’m a wee bit removed from Saturday’s workout so some of the post-ride mental exhaustion has finally run its course! I met the T3 group on Saturday morning at 7:30am for a 60 mile ride. We were doing a couple of South Mopac loops, plus the dreaded Dam Loop (SW Parkway, 71, 620, 2222, 360). I don’t often ride with the group, but since it was a long difficult ride, I thought it would be best and safest. The ride started off brisk as we rode in a group of 15 or so riders (20-22mph easy). I was cautiously keeping up even though I was going faster than I would’ve been going if I was riding by myself. I just tried to tuck in and take this time to focus on riding with the group dynamic. It’s also a good way of finding my pace and potential riding partners. I love pushing myself, but was a bit apprehensive knowing we had a long ride ahead.

The wind was coming from the South and very brisk. While it was a beautiful morning, I knew the temperatures and the sun would be on the rise for this difficult ride. I hung tough, but unfortunately got stuck at a light on SW Parkway and fell behind along with a few other riders. The wind was pissing me off, but there was nothing I could do besides pedal. The group met back up at 71 and Bee Caves while we made sure everyone was doing ok. Turns out about 4-5 people missed the light as well as they straggled in for our first rest break. The next leg was one I hadn’t done in a while—620 including Mansfield Dam and Steiner Ranch climbs. Once again, I couldn’t keep up with the lead group and fell back in the middle. Basically, I’m comfortable between the faster riders and the slower riders. The bulk of 620 isn’t bad at all…fast even. You do have to be extremely cautious however of cars whipping in and out of gas stations, restaurants, Home Depots and other stores along this stretch of highway. There is a wide shoulder, but I don’t want to end up laying on it! We also had some reprieve from the wind as we rode north for this stretch. All was going well until the climbs out of Mansfield Dam and Steiner Ranch sapped me of some energy. I knew I wasn’t the only one as I was started to catch a couple of other riders who were also struggling up this hill. Hell, even Coach Maurice had to dismount his bike because his legs were cramping so bad. I wanted to offer help, but it was a stretch of “don’t stop now” or you’ll never get up this little booger. Fortunately, our next rest stop was just up the way at Walgreens at the corner of 620 and 2222. Here, we stopped for about 10 minutes to catch up on nutrition and stretch. I bought a bottle of Gatorade and water and refueled and refilled my water bottle. Unfortunately, I only have one water cage on my bike, so I had to conserve. (mental note: next bike will have at least 2 water bottle cages).

The next leg is the scariest (or most fun depending on who you are). We basically go screaming down a huge hill on 2222. Here, I was thankful for the group because we took up the entire right lane of the road. It’s easy as hell to hit 50+ mph, but I pumped the brakes every so often. A tire blowout would definitely = a head and body blowout.
Here’s where it started to get mentally tough for me. We made the turn from 2222 to 360 South and got blasted with the wind. By this point, my legs were really tired, but my mind was fading a little faster. I was having those random moments where you go from loving the bike to going, “Get me off this f-cking thing NOW!” Here’s where I also started getting my usual bike discomfort. No matter what position I tried to get in, I found it extremely uncomfortable. My inner thigh was rubbing again—oh no. I just tried to shift weight and seat placement as much as possible, which is an incredibly inefficient way of riding, but the only thing I could do. I fought the headwind and the hills of Riverbend Church and Bee Caves. Once again, I was able to catch and pass a couple of riders who were struggling. Coach was also off his bike again and basically said his day was done. He didn’t know what was going on with his legs.

After a long morning, I finally made the turn to Mopac and then Back on SW Parkway before heading my way back to Escarpment. I was riding by myself at this point, either having passed some people of having been passed by others. Still others (I found out later) took slightly different routes back to the start. By the time I was about 1 mile out, my mind was pretty much done, plus I was way behind schedule.

I had to drive all the way home, shower and then head south again to the same neighborhood for a baby shower. Unfortunately, that meant no run off the bike and no stretching...HORRIBLE for my legs!!!

I ended up averaging a little over 16mph, which isn’t bad considering the last 20 miles were pretty brutal and I forgot to stop my Garmin at the Rest Stops!

I took a much needed rest on Sunday as we continued our moving preparations and mattress shopping. While I've been putting in about 12-15 hours per week of training, I must say pleasantly that I feel pretty balanced overall. For the most part, I'm able to go home at night or go out to eat with friends. I'm still able to socialize and have fun (i.e. watch the Buckeyes beat up on their opponents), plus I'm getting a decent amount of sleep. The Turkey Trot is progressing smoothly and the next house timeline is basically out of my hands. All in all, things are in a delicate balance at this moment....For today...for right now...at this moment.