About Me

My photo
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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bike Ride and a Picnic

What a picture perfect day in Austin, Texas. Now that the storms moved out, we've had two amazing days of sunshine. We went to a co-ed wedding shower last night for my coworker Matt. Being on good behavior, we both sipped a glass of wine knowing that our plan was to get up early today and head to Johnson City for a bike ride and afternoon picnic at Becker Vineyards.

We made it out to Johnson's Ranch by 9:00am. It's about an hour drive from my house so we were up and at it pretty early. Most people wonder why you would drive an hour for a bike ride. Well, the picturesque views and the lack of cars trying to run you over are two perfectly acceptable reasons for me. It starts at President Lyndon Baines Johnson's ranch and winds about 40 miles up and down some hills and along some nicely paved country roads. Did I mention there's very little traffic??? We did this ride 6 months ago and it kicked my ass for a number of reasons. First, we got lost a couple of times and probably ended up riding 6-7 miles longer than we needed to...we had no gatorade or Clif Shots for nutrition...It was much later in the day and the sun was starting to go down...We had eaten very little all day and had both had a glass of wine BEFORE the ride. This made for an awful experience. I was cursing Shawn up and down the last time we were here and swore I would never do it again... HA HA

I was anxious to do really well on this ride today, in part, so that I could get a little retribution from the first experience. Plus, I really needed a confidence builder on the bike. Well, it's amazing what some calories and preparation will do! (and the right directions). We did fantastic on this course and averaged right at 15mph. There were a ton of long slow climbs and plenty of head wind, which kept the overall average slightly down. I had my trusty tangerine power gels and they worked wonders at 1 hr and 2:15 into the ride. We were well-hydrated and feeling pretty decent. We ended up riding 40.50 miles, which felt good. I definitely had another 16 miles in me to get to the 56 Half-Ironman distance. Now, the thought of following that up with a Half-Marathon was a little daunting, but I know I could do it. All in all, it was a great benchmark of where I'm at on the bike. My goal for the Half-Ironman is to ride in about 3:15 or so. (17-18 mph). It's a flat course, but usually very windy. We'll see!

We saw some cattle (who were in the middle of the road and not budging until a truck drove by), a fox, deer, road runner, sheep, longhorn cattle and big dogs that were more scary than any of the other aforementioned animals...We also saw some wine vineyards, cattle ranches and peach orchards. Very beautiful...This is what the Dixie Chicks were talking about in "Wide Open Spaces."

We followed that up by going to Fredericksburg, picking up turkey sandwiches and salad and heading to Becker Vineyards for an afternoon picnic. Becker is definitely one of my favorite wineries in the Texas Hill country with great selections of wine and plenty of grassy areas to throw down a romantic picnic on a gorgeous day. We sampled a few wines and settled on a couple of glasses of Riesling. I know I wanted something cold and sweet, which is odd because I'm usually a red wine gal. White just sounded more refreshing after the ride. We read the Sunday paper and simply enjoyed the rare moments of peace and quiet.

This is what Sundays were made for.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rest Period...OVER

I can't tell you the last time I took two days off from working out (oh yeah, besides last week when I was still recovering). I mean blatantly, for no good reason, taking two days off. This past week was supposed to be my week back of hitting it hard for the upcoming triathlons. There was just one problem...I fell ill on Thursday and was still not feeling up to par on Friday. I just did not feel good enough to pound the pavement for no major goal right now.

I'm also suffering from that post-major event let down. I'm lacking the major willpower to go out and hit it hard when I'm not really looking to shatter any records right now. Don't get me wrong, these triathlons on Memorial Day and June 12th will be difficult. My last swim is proof of that. I just look at them a little differently than I do a running race. The Half-Ironman is about endurance and not speed. It's also about preparing for the unknowns of flat tires and getting kicked in the face during the swim. Those unknowns add an element of stress for me, as both of the above always tend to happen whether I like it or not.

I was supposed to get up and run with Amy and a few others at 5:45am this morning. I was in bed at a decent hour last night and up at 5am. We had gotten some storms in the middle of the night and when I opened the door this morning, I realized it was still raining. I immediately sent Amy a text and crawled back in bed. That's the 2nd time I've bailed this week on someone. Luckily, both were meeting others and not just me. My point is that these behaviours aren't like me. When I commit, I follow through for the most part. I'm just chalking it up to the fact that my body (and mostly my mind) still need some rest.

Shawn and I ran a ton of errands for the house this morning. By 9am, we were picking out granite (for the 4th time). We also hit the plumbing store and tile store. We even went to Crate and Barrel to pick out gifts for a shower we're going to tonight. I was going a little stir crazy knowing that I really wanted some form of workout today. The best part?? I did end up getting that 10 mile run in my day. It wasn't until 3pm, but we went out there and did it. I feel soooo much better having pushed myself. It wasn't fast (about an 8:50 pace for 10.28 miles), but it was a much needed kick in the rear. Tomorrow, we're heading to Johnson City in the morning for a 45-50 mile bike ride. I also signed back up for swim classes so I'll hit that Monday night after doing a Gazelle workout Monday morning. I'm also working on some weights and core! (although not as much as I should)

Soooo...I hope I enjoyed my break because it's officially over.

I'm thinking of signing up for a 2K swim next Sunday. It will be a great benchmark of where I'm at right now. I'd be thrilled with a 40 minute swim. Most will do it between 30-35. That will be me someday.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Now, I'm Inspired!

I just returned from giving my talk at the City of Austin "P.E." group. Over 100 city employees have gone through a training program and many of them are set to run their first official 10K tomorrow! They were excited, nervous and most of all, inspired to continue with their training once this race is complete. Thanks to my running pal Erine, I was asked to be the guest speaker of the event. Before I even took the mic, I listened to other people's stories of conversion. One woman talked about how her cholestorol level has dropped from this program. Another woman spoke that her Blood Pressure is now in the "normal" range when it was considered dangerously high just a few short months ago. These are real stories of people who are transforming their lives the HARD way. It made me a little modest about getting up there today because my story is nothing spectacular. I suppose that's what makes it inspiring for regular old folks like you and me. I was heavy and depressed and through exercise, I have transformed my entire world. I hope that I conveyed effectively to these people...

I'm just honored to have been asked in the first place. I received a wonderful email from Erine that just made my year. The letter he is referring to is my "Ode to my Alter-Ego" that I wrote in my Valentines Day blog. It is a love letter to my former self.

Hey Carrie--

Thanks so much for coming and speaking. You did a fantastic job, and more than 1 person came up to me, who had not previously registered, decided to do so after listening to you. I'm sure I can speak for everyone when i say thanks. Your story was amazing, especially the letter and there wasn't a sound in the room.

Anyway, thanks again for everything!

See you soon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bad Mojo (or just last night's salmon!)

This just doesn't appear to be my week, does it? I met Shawn for dinner last night at 8pm for my Salmon Ceasar Salad from Zax. It's my favorite thing on the menu. I order it 99.9% of the time. I even splurged with a glass of vino. All was well...I was home at a decent hour and thinking about my talk for the City Employees. In bed by 10:45am and looking forward to 5:45am spin class/treadmill brick workout. At 3am, all hell broke loose and I woke up with those awful stomach cramps reminiscent of something in a meal that has gone drastically wrong. Pretty much up the rest of the night and into today. I'm still in bed with my laptop on my--well---lap. I missed a radio production session, but they emailed the spot and it sounds great. Thankfully, because it starts Monday...My stomach is still unsettled. I'll be fine for a while and then I'll be forced into the fetal position with odd pains...not really cramps, but pain. I desperately need Pepto Bismol or Tums or something, but I'm afraid to leave the house to get it. Hopefully, Shawn will get off work around 2pm and deliver the goods.

I'm supposed to attend a happy hour/dinner tonight with some of my Gazelle Buddies to celebrate Boston. Sadly, the thought of greasy mexican food and margaritas only makes me want to curl back into that fetal position. Hopefully, I'll feel the reprieve by then!


Minus some salmon and salad
3 ritz crackers

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pendulum Personality Disorder

It's been a topsy-turvy day of emotion!

I hate the type of people that commit to things and then bail at the last minute...Unfortunately, that's what I did tonight to my friend Jill. I told her I would ride hill repeats tonight at 6:00pm. In fact, I actually invited myself to join her training group! Unfortunately, because of some deadlines at work that I'm currently not meeting because I had to quickly vent my frustrations right now, I had to call Jill at 6:00pm to tell her I was still at my f*cking desk. J--I'm so sorry. I'm just glad that you were already meeting others there and you weren't dependent on my arrival to do the workout. I hate people who do what I did! I'm a bundle of frustration at the moment!

Last night and this morning started off smashingly. Last night, I actually rode with my friend Cathy in the Barton Hills neighborhoods. We did our own sets of hills repeats up some steep climbs in her neighborhood. We had a blast (except for the MAX HR moments). We used to be roommates and we both do triathlons, so she and I would train a lot together. Over the last year, we haven't trained much together because of various scheduling conflicts and differing training schedules. In any event, we rode for about 45 minutes and just had a good time catching up and going up, and up and up. I was pleasantly surprised how well I was getting up the hills. I even did an extra repeat after Cathy announced she was toast. Afterward, we headed to Maudie's for some sloppy Tex Mex and a margarita. Good times, Good times...

This morning, I met some Gazelle runners at 5:45am and we went for a slow 7 mile recovery run (9:35 pace). It actually felt wonderful to be running --mostly because we were all sharing our own personal Boston Marathon moments. Just reliving it pumped me up again.

Things started rolling slightly downhill when the workday commenced. Three meetings kept me tied up and away from copywriting and production. I did finally sneak out of the office at 2pm and went for a quick swim...GRRRRRRRRR...My goal was to swim for 1 mile. I'll be damned if I didn't have the worst swim EVER. Absolutely no rhythm...labored breathing...slow and choppy...HOW FRUSTRATING! And just like that, I was humbled right back into the "you suck" toilet bowl. I quit, self-defeated, after 1/2 mile and said, "Screw it." I go back and forth about hiring a swim coach. Back in Feb, I took a clinic with a great group in Austin and was making definite improvements. I didn't continue in March or April for Marathon training reasons. I'm thinking about rejoining in May and June. Now, I'm just too paranoid about being slow and uncoordinated! It's almost as if I'm too nervous and scared that I'm going to be the worst person in the class and won't be able to keep up. For whatever reason, swimming brings out the most irrational childish fears in me. The other obvious factor is $$$. I pay for a monthly gym membership, I pay for my running coach. Do I really need to pay for one more thing?? By the same token, I don't spend money frivilously on anything else. I'm not a clothes shopper...I don't spend needless money on food or drinks...I live completely within my means. Therefore, it's money well-spent because it's money on ME and my well-being. I have friends that probably spend more on cigarettes than I would on a swim coach. There--I justified it.

I was hoping to redeem myself on the hills tonight with Jill. She's riding so well these days and I've been sporadic on that training as well. I was looking forward to being with a group tonight to gauge where I'm at with the cycling portion of the puzzle that is "triathlon training." It will have to wait another day...

I also got some really cool news that I'll expand upon tomorrow. I was asked to give a motivational/humorous talk at the City of Austin Headquarters on Friday to a bunch of City Employees who have been training for the Texas Roundup 10k taking place this weekend! There are about 200 city employees who took part in a training program to complete this 10k. Most are overweight, unhealthy and have never done ANYTHING like this before. However, after the training, they are all pumped up and nervous about the race. I get to tell my story of the last four years and hopefully provide a little more inspiration before they run. I'm sooooo incredibly honored and excited to have been asked. Last year, my Coach Gilbert did the speech. I don't know how you top his story, but I'll do my best.

7 mile run at 9:35 pace
1/2 mile swim in 20:21 (gross...yuck...disgusting) I really want to be in the 17-18 min range.


5:30am 1/2 w.w. tortilla with PBJ
9:30am homeade breakfast taco on w.w. tortilla with egg beaters, soy cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach
12pm couple of pita chips
3pm Soba Miso bowl from Pei Wei: Buckwheat noodles, veggies, tofu

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A couple of Post-Race Photos

I still haven't effectively organized my vacation photos, but here are a couple of post-race pictures! I'm just happy to be smiling and standing up on my own. For those that don't know, the silver shiny mylar blankets are immediately draped around you when you finish so that you stay warm.

6:15am 1/2 w.w. tortilla with PBJ

9:00am Sugar-free maple oatmeal with berries and 1/4 cup of milk

12:30pm cup of Fantastic Foods Miso Soup, special K snack bites, pita chips, diet dr. pepper

4pm carrots and 1/2 w.w. tortilla with banana and organic PB

8:15 Maudies--shrimp fajitas, 1 1/2 corn tortillas, margarita, guacamole and 5 chips


45 min bike ride in Barton Hills--doing hill repeats...good interval workout

Monday, April 24, 2006

Finding Fantasies in Daily Realities

You know those cheesy, sappy radio and tv commercials that remind you of how special your Mother is and urge you to buy her something special for Mother's Day?? Yeah, well, I write 'em. I'm the Barry Manilow of jewelry store commercials. "I write the spots that make the whole world change the dial. I write the spots that make your Mom smile. " Ok--I'll take my "Fan-ilow" hat off now. You're probably not acutely aware because the barrage of advertising hasn't started yet, but Mother's Day is just around the corner on May 14th. That sounds like a long way away, but not for me. In my job, I have to write the commercials, get them approved by the client (which is usually where my unabashed creativity is squelched), get them produced by actors and then send them on to the proper radio and tv stations---all by the end of this week.

Bottom Line? I hit the ground running this morning with very little time for socializing and reminiscing about my fantasy trip to Boston and New England. I had some hard and fast deadlines to meet. Of course, I spent the entire morning just catching up on work emails. Granted, most of them were "Good Luck" and "Congrats" salutations from friends and family. Believe me, those were way more important to me than the, "Do you have a mock-up of the 1/4 page June ad?" I was immediately back in work mode...training mode...client mode...business mode. It was as if New England was a fantasy that never happened. I suppose our daily realities and issues make those little escapes all the more special.

I tried to write my Mother's Day radio spots with little luck so far. What can you possibly say that hasn't been said? I tend to go the humorous route. "Are you ONE TOUGH MUTHA? Then you deserve..." My clients tend to like the serious route. "Your Mom is like no other and ABC Jewelry Store is like no other." You get my point. In any event, in an attempt to brainstorm these spots and write with an ounce of true sincerity, I started thinking about people in my life that are going through their own trials and what their fantasies might be....These people deserve some recognition.

Like everyone, I have so many people that are battling their own personal harsh realities. Believe me, going back to work from a long vacation isn't one of them. They should all be so lucky. I have a friend who is days away from giving birth to her first child. I have friends who aren't able to conceive even after going through extensive lengths to do so. A friend's sis-in-law suddenly passed away this weekend leaving three teenage children and currently four people in my close circle of friends and family are battling various cancers at different stages. All of them have a history of good health choices. It simply isn't fair.

In writing about what Mom deserves this Mothers Day, I started thinking about what each of these people deserve. They all deserve their own little fantasy world in whatever form they choose. For some, it would be vacation. For others, it would be a healthy child. Still, others simply want a head full of healthy hair and taste buds back that seem to have been destroyed by chemo.

I hope each of them find the fantasies that they seek. I was inspired today by my friend who is battling cancer. He finds his happiness in the simplest of things these days. Keep in mind, this is Texas afterall... :-)

It’s been an interesting week, beginning with re-qualifying for my concealed handgun license last Saturday. It was very important for me to do this because it allows me to legally carry for another five years. Get it? I have to re-qualify every five years. This was for my life after cancer. I had some doubts regarding the state of my health and its effect on my renewal class, like was I going to be too sick to attend the class. I really didn’t want to miss the renewal timeframe because it would have meant that I would have to take a “new” class all over again. Considering that I took that class when the Texas CHL law was first passed back in the 90’s and the fact that I have re-qualified twice since then made me determined to not miss it because of some silly cancer thing.
Part of any CHL class is the range qualification, which has always made me nervous. It consists of timed drills in which you shoot so many shots from such and such a distance within a certain time frame. I’ve always been intimidated by this. This time though as I was beginning to get anxious about my time on the range I had a thought…”what the hell am I nervous about? I’ve got cancer!” I laughed at myself and then proceeded to shoot in the top half of the class and then passed on my written test with flying colors.

Run 1 mile from my house to gym
5.25 miles on the elyptical
Run 1 mile back to the house

Core workout--22lb weight bar, ab workout

6:15am 1/2 w.w. tortilla with PBJ
9:15am cup of kashi with berries and yogurt
1:00pm chicken, brown rice, veggies
4pm carrots
7:30pm 1/2 w.w. tortilla with chicken, spinach and sundried tomatoes...1 glass of wine...diet dr. pepper...2 crackers

6-7 bottles of water (3 with crystal lite mix)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Back to Reality

We finally arrived home in Austin this morning. As much as I adored my vacation and time away, it is always good to be home. In a perverse way, I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine of working, training, eating and sleeping.

We went for a 5 mile run on the Cliff Walk in Neport Beach, Rhode Island on Saturday. This paved path is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and hellacious mansions on the other side. I mean mansions from the 1700-1800s for the Astors, the Vanderbilts, etc. These things are over the top. Most of now museums and hotels these days, but you can imagine the parties that took place in the walls. Obviously, it was a beautiful sight to behold on either side. My quads were definitely still sore so I took it nice and slow.

Other than a little walking, the was it for exercise this week. I wasn't home for more than an hour when I hopped on my bike and rode for about 1hr 15 minutes in the Great Hills area of Austin. It was tough, but I'm glad I did it. I definitely need to ramp up the tri training from here on out. I'm planning on doing mostly elyptical training this week (in lieu of running) and will probably start running again this weeked or even next week. This week, I plan to fall in love with swimming again--or at least like it enough to muddle through the workouts!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Greetings from the East Coast!

Thanks to everyone for the posts, emails and phone calls. I'm still on my high from the race. In fact, I think I'm still carb-loading! oops--put the fork down, Carrie. The race is over :-) Actually, these days, it's more like, "Put the wine glass down, Carrie." I have to thank Mother Nature for giving us the perfect day for running. You couldn't have asked for better weather.

Shawn and I have spent the last few days traveling up the East Coast of New Hampshire and Maine. It's so utterly beautiful. Free Wireless isn't as easy to come by in these parts as it is in Austin. That's probably a good thing so that I'm not tied to the laptop. We finally found a coffee ship in Portland, Maine with free wi-fi.

Oddly enough, we stopped in the random town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday for lunch and in the bowels of the restaurant (we had to walk downstairs which was not pleasant), we saw three drunk girls with Boston Medals around their neck!! They said they spotted my jacket. I think they spotted my "runners walk" down the stairs. In any event, we were all on post race highs (and they didn't even PR--but that's another blog) and partaking in mid-day margaritas. What's a girl to do?? I joined in! One was from Florida and the other from these parts.

We'll head south the rest of the weekend and hit Cape Cod, Providence, Newport and Martha's Vineyard. It's still a tad chilly, but I'll take mid-50s over the 100+ days that Austin is having right now!

We've had some laughable moments this week. I lost my credit card, Shawn found out that his was counterfeited and being used this week in Korea and Oklahoma City (!?). Then, we FOUND a wallet with plenty of credit cards in it in the back of a cab! Luckily, our lodging has been free so far since we've been surviving without credit--who knew it was possible?? In any event, we've been trying to track the owner of the wallet down for three days now with no luck. I'm sure he's freaking out at the moment. Luckily, it ended up in the hands of fairly honest people. It had a Starbucks Card, but good luck finding a Starbucks in rural Maine!! This part of the country is beautiful, but there are a few things I couldn't live without.

Since Texas is the home of BBQ and Tex-mex, we've certainly taken the liberty to O.D. on anything that begins with the word "lobster." For lunch yesterday, we had lobster bisque, a lobster roll and lobster salad. Dinner consisted of baked stuffed lobster and a salad with shrimp, crab and--you guessed it---lobster! Oh--by the way--you can skip the lobster quesedilla. It was my attempt at blending Texas and Maine. Don't try it. You can spot us anywhere right now. We're the couple that just keeps the lobster bibs around our neck. Shawn's worried about getting his clothes dirty. I'm all about protecting my fabulous Boston Marathon medal.

Shawn went for a run this morning and I attempted to go for a walk. It didn't go so well. I opted instead for some light stretching and ab work. Maybe tomorrow...So far, we've done NOOOO other training for our upcoming triathlons. The ocean is beautiful, but not even locals want to jump in the 50 degree ocean. It can all wait until our return. I guess the closest we've done to swimming is sitting in the hot tub each night on the ocean deck. It pays to have rich friends and Shawn's got 'em. This dude is a keeper!!!

Photos of the race are coming soon! We're off to have dinner here in Portland. I have no doubt that one of the courses will consist of lobster!

We said "hi" to the Bush's for everyone when we drove by their compound in Kennebunkport. It was surprisingly easy to find and view, but I don't recommend attempting to scale the fence. It sounded like a good idea at the time. We didn't get arrested or anything. My quads were still hurting from the race, that's all!

Peace from the East Coast.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boston Marathon Recap

I can honestly say that I was "at peace" in the days prior to the race. I slept well, ate well (too well) and hydrated constantly with both water and Gatorade. I overheard good advice a couple of years ago from two pro triathlete/coaches (Jamie Cleveland and Andrea Fisher) in the Austin area. I took a swim workshop with them and they were talking about pre-race rituals. Jamie cautioned us on the strategy of drinking way too much water in the days leading up to a race. He very obviously said that if you just drink water, you're basically going to flush out any electrolytes in your system. It's just as important to be drinking the Gatorade along with the water in the days leading up to a race. So obvious and yet something I had never considered...

In any event, the first two days in Boston were typical tourist traps in an effort to try to squeeze in as much activity as possible without overdoing it too much...Dinner at the infamous Fanneuil Hall, Paul Revere's House, other historical sights, the Boston duck tours which drove you around town and then into the Charles River, the Boston Science Museum followed by an IMAX film.

We had dinner at the famous Italian North End the night before the race. My brother and sis-in-law who lived here a few years back recommended Giacomos. It's a pretty popular joint with about 10 tables. Rachel Ray even did one of her "$40 a Day" specials from this restaurant. In any event, a lot of athletes (inlcuding me) get way overparanoid the day before the race and only want bland pasta that they prepare at home. My friend Jason actually makes plain pasta and only puts ketchup on it. I said, "What the Hell! I'm in the Italian part of Boston so when in the North End, do as they do." I ordered a fettucine noodle with salmon and sundried tomatoes in a creamy tomato sauce. Now, admittedly, I didn't eat a lot of the sauce or scoop my bread around trying to soak up every last ounce. I did slam the pasta with reckless abandon though and devoured the protein-filled salmon. Afterword, we went to a little Italian coffee shop and split an eclair, a couple of bites of gelato and hot chocolate. OK--so we went a little overboard, but I can honestly say that I had 1 bite of eclair, about 5 bites of gelato and 1/2 a cup of hot chocolate. The whole thing would've killed me and rendered me immobile for the race.
Mind you, this was all at about 5pm in the afternoon. We ate early enough that if it was going to mess with my tummy, I'd hopefully have time to recover :-) After dinner, we went to the "Tour de France" IMAX, headed back to where we were staying and visited with Shawn's friends a bit before turning in and setting up my clothes for the race.

Laying out your pre and post race clothes is a ritual unto itself. I start from the bottom of my body and work up...Shoes (check), timing chip (check), socks, shorts, clif shots (check, check, check), body glide, bra, shirt, race number, hat (all check). I felt very relaxed yesterday morning. I think it had to do with the fact that I could actually sleep in until about 6:30am. I actually could've slept longer, but I was meeting Amy at 7:30am at her hotel for breakfast before catching our bus. We had a decent breakfast of a bagel with Peanut Butter and I had eaten a banana earlier. I had some coffee and a bottle of water. All was well. I was feeling good. My left hamstring was oddly sore from all the walking, but I ignored it. I had to ignore it.

We hopped on the bus taking us out to Hopkinton and the energy was so electric. Everyone was in a great mood. We were able to get on some fancy coach buses with a nice restroom (which obviously came in handy for pretty much everyone, not once,but a couple of times). Several folks from Austin were on the bus, but we spent most of the time talking to runners from other places. Everyone had a story and everyone had a goal. I stuck to my goal of 3:45-4:15, much to the chagrin of my running partners who were encouraging me to try to set a PR today. Once we arrived in Hopkinton, we got out of the bus to assess the temperature. It was pretty cool--mid 40s. Then the apparel questions started. DO we run in just a singlet? Long Sleeves? Throw away? Athletes Village was cool as we watched people during all of their pre-race prep...some eating, some sleeping, some stretching, some brought tents and chairs, others just brought their iPods and entered their own worlds. The first waved eventually lined up and left leaving several port-o-lets vacant. In the 20 minutes between that wave and mine, I peed 3 times! I must say, that was definitely an advantage of being in the later group...You had double the restrooms.

I can honestly say that the 12:30pm starting time wasn't the factor that I thought it would be. I can only say this because the weather was PERFECT for running. Partly cloudy/sunny and in the mid-40s. Anything warmer and I would've been nervous. It didn't feel like 12:30pm for some reason. They corraled the last 10,000 of us on the streets of Hopkinton and we paraded down the start corrals like a bunch of cattle. With about 4 minutes to spare before start time, I entered my corral and huddled with some others. I didn't feel cold at all surrounded by so many. I immediately took off my throw away shirt and felt a slight chill in my sleeveless singlet. That chill didn't last long at all as they fired the start gun and we were off within a minute or two...apparently LOTS different from years past when it would be every bit of 15-20 minutes. It is a 2-lane neighborhood road afterall! It was a beautiful New England town with beautiful colonial brick homes and friendly neighbors who mostly sat on their porch as I'm sure they do year after year wondering why we do this stupid sport.

I had read too much. I had heard too much. I downloaded way too many podcasts and read too many articles about this course. Everyone talked about how hard it was and EVERYONE stressed how important it was to start slow. They were right when they said it would be hard to do. As soon as you cross the start line, you immediately start down a hill. I tried to contain myself and was being passed left and right by people. For a competitive person, that's a hard thing to take. My goal was to go out with 8:45-9:00 pace...very comfortable. My first mile was an 8:55. Perfect. I had set my Garmin in the "Virtual Training Partner" mode for a 3:45 finish. That meant it showed my how far ahead or behind I was at any given time and how much more time I had to go. Unfortunately, It didn't really show me the pace I was running at any given time. I was able to take my mile splits which kept me in check. It also didn't show me my elapsed time, but rather it counted backwards from 3:45. (You'd think I would've practiced this mode a bit more). Therefore, instead of taking my Clif shots at :45, 1:30. 2:15, etc. I was taking them at 3:00 to go, 2:15 to go, 1:30 to go, etc. Not complicated math, but a little stressful when your mind is already going in a million different directions.

The crowds were great in these neighborhoods...Most of the towns had the day off so there were kids everywhere holding their hands out to get hi-fives, passing out oranges, freeze pops, bananas, water, etc. It was as if every street had it's own refreshment stop for the runners. Early on, I didn't pay much attention to the crowds. In fact, early on, I got nervous because I didn't seem to be having much fun. I wasn't "taking it in." I was just running and really focusing on the people around me. Another huge difference between this race and other Major marathons is that there are no pace groups so you really don't know what other pace people are going or what their goal is even though they're surrounding you. It's not like there were pace group leaders anywhere. They probably figure since you were savy enough to qualify, you can pace yourself. I'm actually a good pacer overall. I can run a steady race and that's what I was doing for the first few miles. I hovered around the 8:20-8:30 mark with each passing mile. Everytime I would want to speed up, I would consciously stop myself knowing that I wanted to conserve for the hills. Plus, Coach Gilbert told us to run conservatively at first. But, how conservative? My pace felt slow even though I was plugging along at a decent clip. I was petrified of bonking on the infamous Newton Hills. Plus, as I mentioned before, it just didn't feel like my day mentally. At Mile 11, I felt a twinge in my left knee. Oh shit. What's that? It felt like my knee wasn't attached to the bottom of my leg, like with each step, my calf would just fly off. Weird sensation. I prayed for it not to get worse. It was a new pain that I had never experienced unlike my traditional IT Band pain on the outside of my knee. I thought of my Mom who just had Arthroscopic surgery on her knee two days prior. C'mon Mom...get me through this. I kept plugging along wondering why the miles felt so long. The pain disappeared. And then I hit Mile 13 and Wellesly College. The campus is picturesque and beautiful. In fact, most neighborhoods we ran through looked like something straight from Norman Rockwell. The college girls were crazy!!! It was then that I felt a mental shift. I could see how much fun they were having. For the first time during the race I finally felt like I was running BOSTON--this was special. I picked it up ever so slightly because of their cheers. Once I could start counting the miles backwards, I started changing my mental focus. Instead of Mile 14, I only had 12 to go...At Mile 15, I only had 11 left. I was taking my Clif Shots religiously every 45 minutes or so. So far, my tummy was feeling good. I alternated drinking at the water stops...water...Gatorade...skip one...water...Gatorade...skip one. This seemed to be working as I felt hydrated the whole time. At Mile 17, they passed out Power Gels. I grabbed a tangerine one because I had tried it before and loved it. I heard the volunteer say it had double caffeine. This would either make me or break me. Most runners know that too much caffeine while you're running can do bad things to your tummy. At about Mile 18, I took the Power Gel. We were beginning the Newton Hills section. My strategy was this: If I can hold the overall pace of 8:20-8:30, I will attack as soon as I get to the top of Heartbreak Hill at Mile 20. I was still expecting Mt. Everest. No sooner had I taken that shot when my energy level skyrocketed. It was as if I turned on an engine. I attacked the hills. I was passing people left and right. Believe me when I say that I respect the hell out of this course, but these hills weren't nearly the size of hills we train on in Austin. I would look down, speed up my cadence and just try to maintain pace. I could hear GIlbert in my head, "Tighten up your abs, knees up, knees up!!" I got to the top of a hill and the crowd indicated that we had done it! We were at the top of Heartbreak Hill. I guess I expected there to be banners or signs or some indication that we had done it. It wasn't so bad!!! I knew I had to "drop the bomb" at this point. I had a 10k to go and it was time to dig in and just go for it. As I looked at my Garmin, my focus shifted again...I realized that I was probably going to re-qualify. Now, my goal was to see if I could beat my PR. Again, I was looking at a 3:45 time going backwards so I was trying to do the Math in my head. Not an easy thing to do...In any event, the last 5 miles felt like someone else was running the race. I heard so many shouts of "Go Carrie" --thanks to the name plastered on my shirt. I was weaving in and out of people to keep going. My quads hurt pretty bad at this point and I was just hoping that they wouldn't cramp up on me. I can run through the pain. Cramping will kill any momentum. As we got to within one mile, it was magical. We passed the infamous Citgo sign wich indicates one mile left. We ran over an overpass. That took away some momentum. Fenway Park was on my right somewhere and the Red Sox had juts pulled out a victory. The crowds were nuts! (and drunk)
We made a 90 degree right turn and then a quick 90 degree left turn onto Boylston. OH-MY-GOD--there was the fininsh Line. In bright yellow and blue, I saw "110th Boston Marathon Finish." I didn't look at my watch. I didn't look at the crowds. I just stared at that sign. More shouts of "Go Carrie...Looking good! Great finish!" etc. I crossed the chip mat and hit stop. My Garmin told me what I needed to know. "Congrats! You finished your workout with 10 minutes to spare." Even though the Master Clock said 4:08 (it started when the 1st wave took off), I knew I had PR'ed by a mere 2 minutes.

Usually after I stop running, I start feeling the pain immediately. I didn't...I felt great. No limping (OK--at least that I could tell)...I shouted to the crowds how much I love this town and they went crazy! As you continue walking, the volunteers treat you like a queen--handing you bottles of water, gatorade, bags of food, putting the mylar around you like a royal cloak. I continued walking and a volunteer stopped in front of me and said, "This is what you came for." And then he put the medal around my neck. What a chill-invoking moment. I continued walking to get my bag so that I could put on my jacket and slippers. I grabbed my cell phone and already had 4 messages from people. How cool that they were all following along on-line. I called Shawn to let him know I was alive and he found me about 2 minutes later. He was stunned at my time seeing as though I went in very nonchalantly about my finishing time. We walked over to the Boston Common park and laid down for a while so that I could stretch, call my parents and just let it soak in a bit. It was a beautiful afternoon in Boston...not too cold, not too hot, not too windy. It was a day made for a PR and I had done it somehow. We walked a couple of blocks trying to get a cab, but it was pretty futile at this point. When lo and behold, I saw a sign for an Irish Pub across the street. Hell Yeah...We walked in and it was filling up with runners. We found a small table and I had my first drink in almost 2 months!! It was even a pint of Bass Ale. I'm not really a beer girl, but you could've given me a pint of gasoline and I would've drank it.

We eventually made it home in time to shower up and head to a Pizza Place in the North End called Pizzeria Regina. My high school friend Greg met us over there. He had a run a 3:08!!! We slammed down some pizza and I had a glass of chianti. Most of my other friends also had kick ass races. My training partner Amy ran a 3:18!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow...The Gazelles had a great showing at the Boston Marathon. I think every Gazelle had a sub-4:00 race, with the fastest being a 3:04 (I think).

Today, Shawn and I are off the explore the East Coast. Now, my vacation can really begin.
As I reflect about yesterday, I can definitely say it was a very well-run race from beginning to end. My strategy worked perfectly. Start slow and hammer at the end. Finishing with energy to burn makes me realize that I probably could've picked it up a tad sooner, but I just didn't know what to expect in the hilly area. It turns out that it wasn't so scary afterall. It also made me realize that Tangerine Powel Gels are the nectar of the Gods and they helped me at the exact perfect moment! The coolest part?? I get to do it all over next year if I want to :-)

Mile 1 8:55
Mile 2 8:24
Mile 3 8:30
Mile 4 8:20
Mile 5 8:27
Mile 6 8:22
Mile 7 8:25
Mile 8-9 16:58 (I missed a mile marker)
Mile 10 8:19
Mile 11 8:27
Mile 12 8:16
Mile 13 8:15 (Wellesly)
Mile 14 8:22
Mile 15 8:32
Mile 16 8:19
Mile 17 8:19
Mile 18 8:21 (Newton Hills begin)
Mile 19 8:12 (let the Tangerine Powel Gel begin)
Mile 20 8:10
Mile 21 8:15
Mile 22 7:25
Mile 23 7:29
Mile 24 7:20
Mile 25 7:31
Mile 26.2 9:01 (1.47 miles on the Garmin)

Monday, April 17, 2006


I will expand with more time. Right now, I'm looking forward to slamming a pizza and some wine :-)

I had two PRs today:

Personal Record: 3:35:04 (beating my previous 3:37:00 in Chicago)
Personal Revelation: Dreams can come true with hard work and perserverance.

In summary, I wasn't feeling great the first half of the race. The miles seemed to drag. Once we hit the hills at Mile 17, something just clicked and, in the infamous words of my coach, I "dropped the bomb." My original goal was 3:45...Once I started picking up pace I thought, "Well, hell, now that I'm this close, I should at least try to qualify again." I started running 7:30s like a madwoman. At that point, I knew I was close to my PR so my mind switch to getting the PR. I just dropped the hammer as much as I could and kept up the 7:20-7:30 pace for the last 5 miles.

Y'all (in my best fake Texas accent), I crossed the finish line with energy to spare. I give credit to Coach Gilbert and the Gazelles for kicking my butt into gear for this race. He made Heartbreak Hill seem like a bump in the road.

More later...

Boston ROCKS!! I love you Mom and Dad :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Sun Will Come Out... Tomorrow

Boston has been wonderful so far...The expo was slightly overwhelming :-) I bought 2 jackets/2 hats/a shirt and shorts. I'm too superstitious to wear them in advance!

Had a wonderful early Italian dinner and then Shawn and I went to an Imax film about the "Tour de France." Makes me glad I'm not cycling the race tomorrow!! Hopefully, I won't get any road rash from a 26 mile jog.

This city is electric right now...marathon jackets everywhere, healthy people on every corner, everyone talking about the Marathon. I'm definitely calm about this one...no real agenda, no real pressure, just make sure the legs keep turning over. Every now and then it hits me that I'M AT THE BOSTON MARATHON!!! I go between emotions of feeling bad ass and feeling incredibly insecure. I went for a 3 mile jog this afternoon and I swear I could feel the extra pounds I've put on this week. I almost can't wait to get back to my tri-training schedule so that I feel more fit!
I didn't go down to the finish line today. Part of me wanted to see it and the other part of me wanted to experience it for the first time tomorrow. I know it will be completely and utterly overwhelming.

I'm meeting my running partner Amy tomorrow at 7:30am for a quick breakfast before boarding the bus that will take us to Hopkinton.

Race # 13039
My estimated time goal: 3:45-4:15
Weather forecast--PERFECT--mid 50s and partly cloudy. It's a PR kinda day, but I'm not going to attempt it. My "PR" for tomorrow will be whatever "Personal Revelation" I gain from this historic moment.

Let's do it!

Friday, April 14, 2006

T-Minus 4 Days...Taking Inventory

I've received some amazing emails and words of encouragement this past week that will definitely carry me through every mile...those that feel short and those that feel like and eternity. It's amazing how different the same distance can feel depending on how you're feeling mentally and physically. How did our forerunners who invented this distance race thing make it through without Gatorade and Clif Shots?

Well, I picked up my custom-made Gazelle Boston shirt yesterday and had lunch with Amy and Anne so that I could present them with their shirts as well! We'll probably never see each other on the course (those fast chicks both have sub 3:30 races and get to start at 12Noon. I'll be lagging behind at the 12:30p start with my 3:37 qualifier), but it will be comforting and encouraging knowing that they are out there as well! We joked that I must not be taking this Marathon-thing too seriously because I'm running it in shorts I've only worn once, a shirt I've never worn and new shoes I've been in twice. Rookie mistakes, right?? I'm so not worried...I've worn the Mizuno Wave Inspires for several months now and I'm loyal to the Nike short brand. These just happen to be a new color to match my Gazelle singlet. I may be sick, tired and sore, but I'm going to match, damn it!

I thankfully had today off work so I'm doing laundry, packing and finishing up a couple of work projects so that I can be gone with peace of mind (see yesterday's entry). Laying out clothes for an entire week is tough and it's only compounded by the fact that I need completely separate luggage for pre/during/post race! Shawn and I are also staying on the East Coast for the entire week so I have to pack sweaters and jeans as well. That's not easy for a Texas girl who's been wearing tanks and flip flops for the last two months! I'm not a delicate packer as it is. Shoes are a particular pain in the butt--I need boots, running shoes, slippers, flip flops and heels so that I actually feel like a lady at some point on the trip.

Other necessities for the trip:
--My timing chip (yep, dorky runners own their own!)
--every battery and charger for all of my electronic gadgets including digital camera, iPod, cell phone, Garmin and laptop (technology is way too cumbersome!)
--Clif Shots and Bars even though they will be readily available at the Expo
--trashy magazines for the plane
--My Garmin
--Advil and other pain relief
--Body Glide of course

My mind is blank so it's a good thing I have all day!
No exercise at all today so I'm feeling good and plump! (ok--gross and fat is more like it)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

T-Minus 5 Days...Go in Peace

Sometimes the most simple advice can be the most profound. I wasn't there, but one of the Boston runners was having a slight panic moment yesterday. Coach Gilbert simply said "Go in Peace." Wow...As Amy relayed that story this morning on our final Austin run, it instantaneously put me at ease about everything. In a rush to finish work, eat right, do laundry, pack, confirm flights, print out Race Information, make pet arrangements, schedule a massage, help a friend who's having surgery today, etc., it's so easy to get caught up in the chaos and mayhem, adding to the stress and anxiety that you already feel about the unknown.

"Go in Peace."

It means everything this weekend. In the rush and overconsumption of Marathon talk, I actually almost forgot that it is also Easter weekend...the holiest day for a Christian. A couple of friends actually found a Catholic Mass for runners. I love it. It will be an hour of reflection, gratitude, Thanksgiving and, you guessed it, PEACE. I'm looking forward to the silence. I'm looking forward to the community. It's also a good reminder of no matter how stressful and painful our lives are, there is always someone to look up to and say, "I give up. I need your help."

"Go in Peace."

It's not even necessarily a "religious" statement even though it certainly brings back Catholic school memories. For me, "Go in Peace" also means to clear my mind and accept whatever happens on race day. Run with a light heart...Run with love and confidence...Run with abandon and realize that there are some things I just can't control no matter how hard I try.

"Go in Peace."

Monday, April 10, 2006

T-minus...6 Days

I am giddy and nervous with anxiety. I am thankful and fearful for the taper. I am excited and apprehensive about the event. Most of all, I am honored and humbled to be a part of the field of next Monday's 110th Boston Marathon.

I'm not nervous and overwhelmed in the same way that some athletes are about training for their Ironmans. The actual training for this marathon has not been all-consuming (although it's been difficult with 4 20+ milers on hills). What consumes me is the realization that this is it and my strategy on HOW to race it keeps changing. My attitude about time goals and finishing changes on a minute to minute basis and that is the part that's stressing me out. A couple of my training partners have decided to now race it for potential PRs. This is a new decision for many of them. When it first hit me and I actually signed up for Boston, I joked that I didn't care what my finishing time was...I would walk the dang thing for all I cared. The important thing was that I got there in the first place on my sheer will, determination and practice, practice, practice.

Cut to 6 months and many miles later....With the exception of a couple of bad days, I'm feeling stronger than ever. I'm running faster than I was in Chicago. I've lost a couple of lbs and gained some valuable muscle. More importantly, I gained confidence...7:11 pace at the 3M Half-marathon, sub 7:00 pace at the 5K a few weeks back...In fact, if I was racing ANY other course, I'd shoot for a sub 3:30. Physically and mentally, I think I'm there. However, this is NOT any other course. This is BOSTON.

So there's my mental drama for the day. Race it or thoroughly enjoy it and not think about time?!? I want to savor it so much and soak in every sight and sound, but I also want to take advantage of all of the training and hard work during the last 6 months. I don't want the hill training, track workouts and speed drills to go to waste. Of course, there are so many Boston uknowns--a 12:30pm start time, weather, hilly terrain...All obstacles that can psyche out any runner, no matter how trained they are.
Here's what my mind is telling me right now...
Go out with the 3:45 pace group which would be about an 8:35 split. (I actually may start off closer to 9:00s for the first couple of miles.) After Mile 19-20, see what's in the tank and go from there. The hard part will be holding myself back on those miles that feel too good.

That's this moment's strategy. I'm sure it will change as the days unfold. Right now, they're predicting partly cloudy and a high of 53 degrees. perfect...

R-E-S-P-E-C-T...find out what it means to me

When did I turn into a snob? When did certain behaviors from people become unacceptable to me? Am I truly that judgmental or has humanity begun a descent into full-on desecration? I know I set very high expectations of myself (met with disappointing results on several occasions), but who am I to assume those expectations on others? …Or, am I just getting old and crotchety?

I witnessed some amazing things in D.C. for just the few short hours I was there. Lots of highs and several, “Did that just happen?” moments that forced me to judge humanity. First of all, I’d had a horrible experience with disrespect and lack of customer service via the airlines just the day before. My castmate Clay was undeservedly rude because a flight attendant was rude to him. This, in turn, made another passenger in front of us mouth off to Clay and literally pick a fight on the plane. His exact words were, “Remember Buddy—we are landing in the same place. We’ll take care of it then.” (the modern day version of “Let’s take this outside.”) I’m not kidding you. I actually said, “Did you just pick a fight?? Are you 12????” I was actually laughing when I said it. I received no reply.
We were left in limbo by several airlines. Thank God it was just a measly comedy show and not a loved one’s funeral we were trying to get to. We would’ve paid our last respects from a random snack booth in the Atlanta airport.

Yesterday, we’re at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It’s virtually silent as people slowly walk by the 53,000 names. Reverance, respect, contemplative and emotional…when out of nowhere some woman’s cell phone starts ringing!! And it wasn’t one of those nice chirpy rings. Heaven’s no. It was one of those frantic rings that instills a sense of panic to everyone around. You could feel the tension of people around her who were internally begging her to quickly press the silent button. You’d think that’s what she would do. You HOPE that’s what she would do. That’s what I would do. I gave her too much credit. She dug through her purse and answered the damn thing with the sing-songy “Hello!” and proceeded to have a conversation about someone’s birthday. Are you kidding me??? My friend Dena and I just looked at each other and gasped.

It wasn’t more than a minute later as we proceeded down the procession of people and names when an older gentleman so eloquently and audibly announced that he thought the design of the Vietnam Wall was “ALL WRONG. What they should’ve done was…” At that point, my internal exasperation took over and I couldn’t even pay attention to his architectural pontification. I stood, once again, in horror and judgment.

By that point, my tolerance for humans was nearing its peak. Other minor occurrences happened all within a matter of minutes and all within the same space of this reverent area. A young boy screaming to his mother, “Why is it taking so long to walk through here???” (I know he was too young to understand and probably tired from seeing a bunch of buildings that mean nothing to him--yet) Teenage boys running through the crowds of people and running into Dena without so much as an apology, young parents and their children completely disregarding the very obvious “Please don’t not walk on grass” signs and allowing their children to walk right UNDER the fence and chase the squirrels who could easily have bitten these young whippersnappers.

God knows I’m not better than anyone else. I just marvel at the obvious lack of respect and honor that is so pervasive in our society now. What the hell happened? Or, as athletes, are we just more keenly aware? As athletes, we respect our bodies, we respect our fellow athletes. We respect nature, the earth and its surroundings. We respect life. It’s a respect and inspiration that I hope to pass on to others. I just hope they slow down, relax long enough and turn off their cell phones long enough to hear it.

7 Days to Boston…Today’s Gazelle workout…1.5 mile warmup to Zilker Park. 1x 3000m repeat at 6:46 pace and 1.5 mile cool down back to Runtex. I love tapering. I’ll stretch and do core tonight. I can’t wait.


5am banana, ½ w.w. tortilla with PB
9:15am the usual—kashi, berries, yogurt
1:00pm salad with fat free dressing, Zen chicken teriyaki with veggies and brown rice
4:00pm 2 small pieces of chocolate
9:00pm (after a long HOA meeting!) dry Kashi and 1 cup of quinoa with feta cheese. Normally, I probably just would've skipped the meal, but this is not the week to be skipping meals, especially good complex carb meals.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gag Reflex Goes to Washington

My comedy troupe's whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. for the "D.C. Comedy Fest" is over and what a 24-hours it was!

Saturday morning started with a 60 minute wind trainer workout from 6am-7am. Yep, I'm a little obsessed and just needed to get some sort of workout in knowing that I'd be on a plane for the rest of the day. Nothing major, just some spinning time in my saddle.

Our Continental Flight was supposed to leave Austin at 9:10am. They get us on the plane, fire up the engines and announce that they have a mechanical issue that they're working through. It will be about 10-15 minutes. Not long after, the captain comes back on the PA and announces that there is now a major hydraulic problem and they are cancelling the flight. We had to deplane. Great...Our layover in from Houston to Baltimore was already a short one. We were originally to arrive in Baltimore around 3pm with plenty of time to get the car, check in at the hotel and still make it to the theater for our 8:30pm performance. After an 1 1/2 of waiting in line, Our Hero and Gag Director Dale gets us booked on a Delta flight leaving Austin at 1:30 and arriving in Baltimore at 7pm. He called the comedy festival and they switched us to a later time slot. Great. no worries...yeah, right.

We finally board Delta and they announce that we have to sit on the tarmack for a while so we're going to be leaving 20-30 minutes late. grrrr....Then, our castmate Clay decides to be an asshole to one of the flight attendants. Basically, she was kinda bitchy and abrupt to him and he snapped back and was a jerk to her. This takes more time, why? Because we had to taxi back to the gate so that Air Marshals and several police could escort Clay off the plane. No freaking joke. Now, we're down a cast member and we're late AGAIN! More phone calls to the theater and now role changes. I'm now taking Clay's part in one of the sketches. Thank God Dale had the script so that I could start memorizing. The show must go on, right?

We land in Atlanta and we're told to stay on the plane as it was making a quick stop and then proceeding to Baltimore. Well, OF COURSE, as soon as we get to Atlanta, they tell us that they've cancelled the leg to Baltimore and the next flight was taking off in 10 minutes. We were going to miss it. By this point, we're hungry, frustrated, slap-happy and down-right tired. I also swore that I would never fly again. And the irony of it all?? Clay had called Dale while we were in flight and he was actually arriving in DC before we were!!! And this was the guy who was booted from the flight forcing us to miss connections!! All we could do was laugh. (and curse Clay) To spare the details, we did eventually make it to Baltimore around 9pm and by the time we got our car and made it to the theater, it was close to 11pm. We walk in and the stage manager says, "You're on in 5 minutes! Gag Reflex is closing the show." And just like that with no time to catch our breath, we were on stage for our 20 minute set headlining a theater at the DC Comedy Fest! Word traveled quickly about our exploits as we soon found out upon arriving at the after-party around 12:30am. Troupes from Seattle, Portland, New York and other great cities were all hanging out at McFadden's. We were surprised to hear the number of people who wanted to hear the story about the guy who got in a fight with a flight attendant and was booted from the plane. Needless to say, by the end of the night, the story had grown to almost hyperbolic proportions. Dena and I left exhausted at 2am and walked back to our hotel. It was a nice night for a walk and a great stress reliever. Still not drinking, I downed two diet cokes and was still ready for my bed. I didn't have firm intentions of waking up early. We all wanted a fairly early start as we only had about 4 hours of sightseeing before we had to head back to Baltimore.

Sunday started with a buzz...literally...The alarm must've been set for the previous guest and it blared at 7am. Normally, I'd consider that sleeping in, but since I went to bed at 3am, it was essentially a nap. I tried to go back to sleep, but the inner voice started immediately. "Go for a nice jog...Explore the city while everyone else sleeps off their beers." I tried to ignore the voice, but it's always more powerful. I woke up, put on some clothes and headed outside around 7:30am. It was a gorgeous cool morning. The second I walked out of the hotel, I saw the tip of the Washington Memoral. How cool...I'm heading that way. We were in a beautiful part of the city near Dupont Circle. I jogged (I stress jog) by several Embassies, fabulous brownstones, CBS News, Departments of this and that and several other buildings where important things happen. I saw a directional sign that said, "White House" with an arrow pointing in the direction I was already running. I wonder how far away I am? I really had no idea. Wait...I'm at 1900, 1800, 1700, I'll be damned...1600 Pennsylvania was in my sight! See, I'm a D.C. virgin and got the chills immediately upon seeing the Big House. I took a moment to express silent gratitude for a powerful and moving sight, not to mention a beautiful morning in the Nation's Capital. Why isn't everyone enjoying the same thing I am??? I suppose it's a good thing that a few of us really treasure moments like these. I ran for about 45 minutes (I am tapering after all) and then stopped at COSI for some breakfast. I got back to the room around 9am expecting everyone to be up, dressed and waiting on me...ha ha...They were all still asleep. Wow. They missed it.

The day turned out to be glorious and we did a whirlwind visit around the grounds that included the White House, the Washington Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, the new WWII Memorial and, of course, the Vietnam Wall. Although I don't personally know anyone, it was impossible not to be moved by those who take the time to leave photos, notes and etch names with pencil as a keepsake.

The airplane trip back to Austin rocked. Kudos to Southwest for an on-time departure, direct flight and a 1/2 hour early arrival!!! Thank you!

I'm heading off to bed for my taper week. It's all about staying healthy now and doing some carb loading. I picked up the latest Runners World with several pages devoted to the Boston Marathon. It literally freaked me out. I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Real Test of Willpower!!

Man, oh man...I picked the wrong time to give up alcohol. This chick loves wine and this chick was just handed tickets to tonight's "Grand Tasting Event" at the Hilton Hotel for the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival! It's a $95 ticket that includes fabulous food and scores of wine. Only problem?? I still have 10 more official days of complete and utter sobriety until my ass crosses the finish line at Boston. Damn, Damn, Damn!! Why am I so utterly disciplined? I'll just eat extra food to make up for the calorie and sugar deficit from not drinking wine. 10 more days, Carrie. You can do it.

Here is how the website describes this evening's event:
One of the annual highlights of the Festival, Stars Across Texas must be experienced to be believed. The best and brightest culinary stars from small towns to the biggest cities gather in one place for your gastronomic pleasure. Sample one delectable morsel after another from more than 60 restaurants, prepared by some of the best chefs and pastry chefs in the state. Delight in a astonishing array of wines from over 30 wineries from Texas and the world. This grand tasting will prove once again that everything is bigger in Texas.Tickets are also available at all Austin Twin Liquors locations.

OK--well, I'm not sure about that whole "gastronomic pleasure" line, especially after some of the workouts I've had lately! It usually involves a little gastonomic distress!! In any event, I plan to show up, look fabulous and graze my way through every "delectable morsel." After all, I completed both workouts by 8:15am.

Run: 10.5 miles with Amy, Tonya and Cindy 8:45-8:55 pace
Swim: 35 minutes of some laps, lots of slow drills. I was supposed to do 45 minutes, but I kept getting those awful charlie horse cramps in my feet again, which rendered me useless a couple of times. I'm worried about that for the upcoming events. I've been drinking tons of water and eating my bananas for potassium (ok--2 in 2 days). That's the 2nd time in two weeks I've had those debilitating foot cramps. hmmmmmmmmmmmm

Off to drink fake wine and make people laugh in DC!

5am 1/2 banana, 1/2 w.w. tortilla with PB, Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink
7:15am 1/2 banana, finished drink
9:15am 1 1/2 cups Kashi, yogurt and berries, coffee
1:00pm 1/2 w.w. tortilla with PBJ and cup of Kashi with yogurt and berries (yes, again), bite of brownie

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm a Big Fatty Acid!!

I was made fun of a lot as a kid because I was short, chubby and had enormous boobs. Fortunately, I’ve rectified two of the three. Unfortunately, I can’t do much about my height. I grew up with four big brothers and no sisters, which also made me a certified tomboy. Hell, I was more of a boy than a tomboy! It’s so easy to see why I am the way I am today. I’m competitive, scrappy, determined, strong-willed and yet always still self-conscious. I also carry an innate sense of humor about myself and life. Ok..Ok… I use humor as a defense mechanism. I’m the female “Chandler Bing.” (with almost as many weight fluctuations!) But, being the only girl, I had to be all of those things. I had to fend for myself in arguments, I had to stand out in a crowd and I had to be extroverted in order to get attention. Also, being in a household of testosterone, I had to pop wheelies, dig up worms and learn tackle football. That’s just the way it was. That’s why I’m so thankful I discovered the community of running and triathlon. It’s a community that respects strength and weakness, pain and comfort, fast and slow, big and small, pride and self-deprecation and bloodthirsty and casual. God knows we’re all of the above at one time or another.

I used to hate being called “fat” the most. (who doesn't??) That is, until I discovered “Omega 3 Fatty Acids!” I’ve had salmon two days in a row now and I love it! So feel free to call me a “Fatty Acid” any time you want. Just don’t call me a “Fat Ass” because my inner tomboy will reappear and stomp you to the ground. :-)

The DC Comedy Fest is this weekend! We leave Saturday morning and come back Sunday evening. My plan is to get up and ride at least 1 hour on the trainer before I leave and run 30-40 minutes while in DC on Sunday. In between those training times, I hope to make a few people laugh.

The Boston Marathon is 11 days away! yippeeeeeeeeeee

This morning, I slept in a bit and did 45 minutes of core work--legs and arms with my 22lb weight bar and about 20 minutes of abs both on and off the ball.

I did ride for an hour tonight from 6:30pm-7:30p around the neighborhoods of Tarrytown.
Scenic and Exposition both have some nice hills. They actually seemed harder on the bike than they do on a run. hmmmm...It was about 15 miles of cycling. Not bad...Again, I was really focusing on relaxing and not hammering my legs.


6am 1/3 cup dry kashi
9:15am w.w. tortilla, with organic PB and a banana.
11:30am handful of Kashi and 1 piece of chocolate (damn co-workers)
1:30pm Zen: udon noodles with salmon, onion, red bell peppers in teriyaki and an apple
6:00pm whole wheat tortilla with organic PB and fruit spread
8:15pm Met Shawn at Whole Foods after our workout and we hit the salad bar. My salad had a little of everything including some hummus, tuna and a spinach cake. Oh yeah, there was also some lettuce. We also split some cous cous and salmon pasta. 1/2 small blizzard from Dairy Queen :-)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Light At The End of the Tunnel

I'm finally starting to see it...the light...the reward...the big payoff...the rest. Today was our last "hard" workout before the Boston taper begins. We warmed up with an extended 3 mile run from Runtex to Austin High. We had to take a slight detour through Zilker Park as they had part of the trail blocked. Avg pace for warmup was 9:05...It felt good this morning. Much better than Monday. I got to catch up a little with Erine who I hadn't seen or really talked to in weeks. He was surprised at how few people there were in this group. I told him its been slim pickins since Freescale in mid February. Lots of people are taking a nice extended break from hard core training until Fall Marathon season starts to kick in.

In any event, our goal was to do 5-8 x 800 repeats on the track with 2 min rest in between. Coach Gilbert was down right adamant that we don't run these all out. Fine with me! He stressed how important it is to be rested before Boston and not exhausted. Fabulous. I like his thinking. I suppose that's why I pay him every month. His theory for today? If you want to run a 3:40 marathon, run the 800s in 3min 40 sec. Ahhh...the old Yasso 800s. Marcy, Tonya, Amy and I lined up in our track formation and began the first repeat. None of us really have strict finishing goal times for the Boston Marathon. We're all capable of running a perfect race between 3:15-3:30, but Boston is not a PR race for any of us. It's all about the experience. Today, our goal was to run comfortably fast.

800 #1: 3:31
800 #2: 3:29
800 #3: 3:29
800 #4: 3:28
800 #5: 3:24
800 #6: 3:21

Awesome...absolutely awesome. We were consistent and strong. We easily could've hammered out a couple more at that pace, but Coach stopped us while we were fresh so that we could end with some 200 m strides to really open the hips up...high knees, butt kicks, tighten abs.

We jogged the 1.6 miles back to Runtex while we discussed our Custom Boston t-shirts that we want to have made. I've always swore that I would never wear a shirt with my name on it during a race. Now, I'm in charge of ordering them and I can't wait!

Austin to Boston 2006! Here were come in less than 2 weeks. Ready or not.

5:15am 1/2 packet of sugar free oatmeal and tablespoon of PB, coffee
8:30am 1/2 packet of oatmeal and 1/3 cup of kashi cereal, 1/3 cup milk
1:30pm Chipotle Burrito Bowl with little bit of rice, pinto beans, veggies, chicken, hot sauce and guacamole. (no tortilla, chips, cheese or sour cream), diet coke, small handful of M&Ms.
6:30-7:00pm small piece of bread with brie, cranberry/club soda drink, Jerk Salmon Caesar Salad from Zax.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Analysis Paralysis

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with choices that I just shut down. In today's world, we call it "Analysis Paralysis." We just have too many choices and options...about everything! Take something as simple as yogurt. We've got yogurt in a container, yogurt in the form of a smoothie, yogurt you can just squirt directly into your mouth from a tube (so vile)...There's sugar free, fat free, fruit on the bottom, fruit mixed in, no fruit... Next time you're in the store, just look at how many choices you have for chewing gum alone! Beef Jerky comes in about four different flavors for Heaven's Sakes. I guess you have to figure out how to make dried beef taste good somehow! Of course, I equate these choices to food because as athletes, we're always contemplating our next meal.

As an athlete (or athlete wannabe), we're also always contemplating our next workout. More specifically, as TRI-athletes, our choices of workouts grow even more complicated! Today, do we swim, bike, run or brick? Now, what type of a workout is it? Endurance, Recovery, Tempo, Fartlek, Intervals, Easy...Should I do my core workout today or hit yoga and pilates? What about weight training? Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just hated exercise. The only choice would then be "American Idol" or "The Office." The myriad of choices is also why I love the sport. There's a huge puzzle in front of us and every piece builds a little path to the start line of our chosen event. Truth be told, I love the training more than actual race day. Sometimes the stress can be stifling. The race day is the dessert for all of the hours spent in the kitchen making the pie.

"Overwhelmed by choices" is how I felt this morning. Yesterday, I ran a pitiful 7 1/2 miles and did about 20 minutes of ab work before going to bed. As I contemplated my Tuesday, I went through all of my options...swim in the a.m. and bike after work, core in the a.m. and swim at lunch, spin class in the a.m. and swim at lunch, etc, etc. I definitely know I wanted a swim and some core. The cycling can wait a bit as my legs continue to recover from the weekend and prepare for Boston. In the end, I chose to get up and do 1hr of core this morning at the house that included biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, squats, lunges (with my 22lb weight bar) and about 20 minutes of abs on the ball.

I went to the Y and swam for approximately 45 minutes at lunch.
500 warm up
10 x 50 on :10 (avg between :58 and 1:05 per 50)
drills/active rest
6 x 50 on :10 (same avg range)
drills/cool down

Total Yards: 1650 including warm up and swim down

Once again, I was tired and my form was suffering slightly at the end, but I really wanted to keep drilling. I decided to call it a day before my form digressed further into habit forming bad strokes. As it is, I'm constantly working on keeping my elbows high instead of swinging my arms out.

I had a lot of choices today and two of them were to workout or NOT workout. I'm glad I chose the former.

6:30am 1/3 cup dry kashi
8:00 am1/2 whole wheat tortilla with egg beaters and 1 piece of veggy cheese
11:15am chocolate protein shake
1:30pm 1/2 Clif bar on way to pool
3:30pm Zen Stir Fry with brown rice, chicken, egg, broccoli and onion--4 bottles of water in the afternoon, 1/2 cup of dry kashi again! (feeling very hungry today!)
8:30pm cup of pasta with beef and chicken, onion, tomatoes, diet root beer

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mama's Tired

Damn, I hate admitting that I'm human, but the fact is,I'm tired and I'm sore. With two weeks to go until Boston, that's not a good feeling. This morning, Gilbert gave us a choice of runs. Either a 10 mile hilly run in Barton Springs or a 10 mile Recovery Run-depending on how we were feeling. It didn't take long to decide that I was doing the recovery run. Amy, Tonya and I met at Runtex at 5:45am and set out. Immediately, I felt "off." My legs felt hollow and I was a little woozy. Sadly, we weren't really even running fast. All of the water fountains along the way were turned off. Damn, I was really parched and slightly dizzy. I'm pretty sure I was just dehydrated from the weekend's activities. Both Saturday and Sunday's main workouts took place during the heat of the day and I don't think I truly accounted for the loss of water during those workouts. Mentally, I was just not into the recovery run today and convinced myself that continuing would do more harm than good at this point. What I need more than anything else is water and rest...water and rest...water and rest...I let them know I was cutting the run short. Who knew that 7 1/2 miles would be cutting a Monday workout short? It was still 1hr 10min avg about 9:20 pace. I'm sure they were relieved so that they could pick it up a bit. I'm glad I made the decision as I came home and stretched for about 20 minutes. Oh yeah, I also drank some Gatorade and a ton of water.

5:30am 1/2 whole wheat tortilla, organic PB
7:30am Bottle of Gatorade and 1/2 sugar free latte
9:30am 1 cup of dry Kashi Go Lean Crunch
1:00pm Leftover chicken stirfy from firebowl with brown rice and veggies, 2 bottles of water
2 more bottles of water in the afternoon...3 chocolate mints
7:00pm Baja fresh--2 shrimp and chicken tacos on corn tortillas, ate two tortillas, guac and some chips
9:30pm small ice cream cup from McDonalds after "Gag Reflex" Rehearsal

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Humbling Training Weekend Indeed

And just when you think you're ready...

Saturday, April 1st

The Barton Springs Pool Parking Lot on the weekend is a lot like a Race Morning...Cars with bike racks are lined up early at the Pool. Cervelos, Kestrels, Quintana Roo, Litespeed...you name it and they're there on Xterras, Elements, Civics, Audis and any other car imaginable. Just pulling into the parking lot gets your adrenaline moving. You can feel the energy of people training...Ironman Arizona in April, Cap Tex Tri in May, Danskin in June and an endless list of other events in and around the Austin area. My goal for this morning was to swim 1 mile in my wetsuit. Nothing fancy, just 4 laps in Barton Springs. Well, I was quickly slapped into reality as I started my swim. There were some fast fish in the pool this morning. I felt like a whale swimming in a school of minnows! My form felt pretty sloppy even though I was talking myself through it the entire time. **breath every 3 strokes, touch, pull roll, elbows high (ha ha)** The Springs were also pretty crowded this morning only reinforcing the race day anxieties. I had to swim around one or two people and God knows about a dozen people had to swim over me. Rest breaks included (probably a min or so), it took me about 42 minutes which isn't impressive at all. I'm finding out that I much prefer swimming without my wetsuit. This week's swim workouts will be back to drills. I finished nonetheless and met Shawn for a quick cup of coffee before heading off to look at paint colors. My main daunting task still awaited me later that morning.

I met Amy and Clint at Runtex at 11am. This was our Boston Simulator run--14 miles of hills (including the infamous climb up Mt. Bonnell) in the heat of the day. They weren't kidding. It was definitely between 80-85 when we started. Unfortunately, we went out too fast. I knew it from the beginning when our first few splits were like 7:54, 8:14, 8:03, 8:13, 7:55 and 8:10...At that time, I told Amy and Clint I was backing off. My legs were sore from Friday's 20 mile bike ride, it was hot, I was thirsty and we still had 8 miles to go and a climb up Mt. Bonnell...I slowed down a LOT. Mt. Bonnell was a huge bitch. I had to walk for about 15 seconds...9:53 mile...Gilbert was supposed to have gatorade at the top. There was none. We all caught our breath for a minute or two and began to descend. At that time, Gilbert's car was coming up the hill so we stopped and downed Gatorade like it was the last bottle on earth. Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my watch...11:57, 8:44, 8:09, 8:56, 8:30, 8:41...So much for negative splits. I was exhausted by the time we were finished and lagged behind Clint and Amy by a couple of minutes. My legs were pretty shot...I couldn't tell if it was lack of electrolytes, sore from bike ride, etc. As I sat down to stretch, I got the biggest charlie horse cramp in my left foot. You know the kind I'm talking about...Your toes curl up and hold on like the jaws of life. Amy literally had to push my foot and toes backwards so that I could stand up!! Wow...I drank more gatorade and the cramp eventually subsided. All in all, I felt pretty beat up after Saturday's workouts. It definitely made me rethink any Boston strategy of running for time. If the weather is anything like it was yesterday, I'll definitely be running for completion and survival!

Sunday, April 2nd
So we lost an hour of sleep last night and I made sure I gained it back by sleeping in this morning to about 9:00am. I completely missed Austin's Capitol 10,000 10K race taking place today. I wasn't running, but was thinking of cheering my friends who were. Maybe next year. Today, I needed rest. Today's workout was a schedules 2 hr bike ride. By the time we had coffee and fixed up the bikes, it was 11:30am. Shawn and I took off from his apartment on 360 near Spicewood Springs and headed South to Southwest Parkway, 71, Bee Caves, back to 360 and North back to Shawn's place...It was hot, it was windy, it was hilly. We completed 38 miles in 2hrs 38 min. It was longer than I was supposed to ride, but it was definitely a confidence builder. My legs were a bit sore (imagine that!!), but I felt good otherwise, especially on some of the brutal climbs into a headwind. I'm noticing that I'm a lot less fatigued these days on the new bike. Couple of hypothesized reasons: my new bike is 5 lbs lighter than my old bike and I'm also probably about 5-8lbs lighter than a year ago (I won't get on the scale to find out). We finished by throwing on our running shoes and jogging for about 10 minutes inside his complex. He wanted to run 1/2 way up a hill and all I could say was, "Screw you...I've done enough hills in the last two days!" I'm done!! We never did make it to Barton Springs for a swim, but that's ok. I consider our "brick" good enough. It wasn't a fast ride, but considering the conditions and the time of day, the 14.5 mph avg was good enough for me even though I swear we were riding faster. I wonder if the Garmin accounted for our rest time as well. Who knows? Who cares...

While I feel confident about finishing both the Boston Marathon and the upcoming triathlons, this weekend was a good reminder that you can't always predict weather conditions or even your own body conditions. I haven't cramped in over a year and it was humbling that I needed someone to pry my foot open after my charlie horse. So many things are ultimately out of our control! Such is the beauty of sports...If we knew the outcomes every time, life would be really boring...

Let the Boston taper begin!! Two weeks from Monday.