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

Monday, July 31, 2006

7 Mile Recovery? Not Really

Because we ran 18 miles on Saturday, our run on Monday morning was 60 minutes or 7-miles, whatever worked best. It still feels odd to acknowledge that 7 miles is an "easy day," but I'll take it. He also wanted us to run "nice and easy" until we had 10 minutes left and then pick it up. Well, I'm not sure what was going on, but most of the group took off from the get-go and threw the "nice and easy" concept into the lake that we border on the trail. I hung back along with a few others and finished the 7 miles in 60 minutes exactly--including water breaks. That's still a brisk 8:34 pace...hardly a "nice and easy" recovery pace. Unfortunately, I didn't have a whole lot of energy at the end to pick it up much.

After everyone returned, we did 10 stride-out sprints where you focus on high knees and butt kicks and then we did some balance drills that (in his words) made our calves scream! We practiced jumping, side to side, forward and backward, one foot, etc. All great drills to work on balance!

I was going to go to the Jack and Adams Core, but worked way too late last night.

And Just When You Think Running is Easy...

Be grateful for every day that we get to use our bodies. It is a temporary gift.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Did I Crack?

Today, I was reminded that no matter how good you think you are, no matter how indestructible you feel, no matter how trained your body has become, “Running is Hard.” Let me clarify even more. Running in Texas in July with unbearable heat and humidity is really hard.

I met Shannon, Amy and Susan at 5:45am this morning at Runtex to tackle our 18 miles. This was my first 18 miler since March prior to the Boston Marathon. I’ve been hovering between 12-15 for the last few months, with 15.5 miles being my max a couple of weeks back. We were picking up Cindy S. two miles into our run at the Rock as she was only doing 14 today (I can't believe I said "only"). Honestly, I’m not really sure why I was so intent on doing the full 18 this morning. My Marathon (if I do it) isn’t until December. There’s absolutely no logical reason on paper that I should be doing that much mileage this far out. However, in the last few years, I’ve learned to kick logic to the curb when it comes to mental, emotional and personal endurance. I simply wanted to run…far. So, I tried.

We had outlined a couple of different water stops and Amy had also stashed bottles of Gatorade at the turnaround point. In addition, Shannon’s camel back saved the day for most of us. Thank you Shannon!! FYI—I couldn’t care less if your dog ever chewed on the hose. I’d still drink the water :-)

I don’t think any of us ever really felt good even though our pace for a long run was decent. We appeared to do everything right…start off slow, drink at every stop, take our time, etc. I had plenty of rest, I had eaten well yesterday and I had hydrated sufficiently. It just didn’t seem to make much difference. We hit the turnaround after what seemed like the longest 9 miles in my life and I DOWNED a bottle of Gatorade. I mean one chug and it was gone. I immediately opened another and started drinking. I had to stop myself because I was afraid of getting cramps or a tummy ache at that point. I just could not quench my thirst.

We turned around and began to head home. Amy was complaining about dizziness and balance issues. Allergies? Dehydration? Who knew…She kept asking how far we’ve gone. At one point, she stopped running and sat down on the curb. She was not doing well at all. She rallied for a few more miles and after 13, she made the best decision and decided to stop. Fortunately, her parents live in the neighborhood we were in so it made the decision that much more comforting.

The rest of us continued to run and it appeared that Cindy had some spring in her step. Every chance I got, I’d stop to drink water. Hills were particularly tough today. We got back to the Rock where Cindy was ending her run. I had a decision to make. Cut it short at 16 and have Cindy drive me back to my car or run it in with Shannon and complete the task of running 18 miles.

Those of you that know me know exactly what I did.

18 miles in 2:34:52 (the Garmin lost signal on the bridge so I’m still calling it 18) I also stopped my watch at every water stop as well so this is not a continuous time. It measures only when I was running. I’m calling it 18 miles. I don’t care what the purists say!

8:36 overall pace

Mile 1 9:40
Mile 2 8:50
Mile 3 9:15
Mile 4 9:30
Mile 5 8:49
Mile 6 9:10
Mile 7 8:46
Mile 8 8:43
Mile 9 8:11
Mile 10 8:42
Mile 11 8:35
Mile 128:35
Mile 13 8:47
Mile 148:36
Mile 15 8:34
Mile 168:48
Mile 17 7:54
Mile 18 (on pace for 8:13) even though it measured .6 miles

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mile Repeats and my "I Love Austin" Reminder

This morning's workout called for Mile Repeats at Zilker Park. The last time we did this was June 28th and my results were pretty similar. Once again, Coach G was a little upset that turnout was light today. People are skipping the hard days and then get upset when they don't improve. As tough as these days are, I always feel so much more confident when I'm finished.

He put me in a group with Ann (my rabbit), Jennifer, Steve and Jessica(?). He was very adamant that we run the first one SLOW (relatively speaking, of course) and then he wanted us to shave 20 seconds off of the rest of them. That's precisely what we did with much success. Starting slow was the best thing because I didn't feel completely wiped out at the end. I was exhausted, but could've done one more if a gun was pointed at my head. Luckily, it wasn't so I ran with Ann back to Runtex after four repeats.

Mile Repeat Comparison

June 28th
#1 6:54 (way too fast)
#2 6:53 (the uphill direction)
#3 6:53
#4 6:48

July 26th
#1 7:21 (he told us to go out slow)
#2 6:56
#3 6:55
#4 6:47

My "I love Austin" moment happened after workout when I decided to go to Whole Foods to grab some cereal and other goodies. I like to have a supply of food in the office at all times because, as most of you know, I'm ALWAYS hungry. Well, I got there about 5 minutes before they opened and other folks will milling about in the lobby area, pouring coffee and picking up their baskets. Well, right at 8:00am, this guy gets on the loud speaker all "Good Morning Vietnam" -style and is like, "Good Morning Austin!! It's 8:00am and we're now open! Welcome to Whole Foods! And have a GREAT DAY in Austin, Texas!" Now, had I not just finished a workout, I probably would've been annoyed at his fake-DJ sounding voice. However, the endorphins were flowing and the coffee was hitting my veins and it struck me as, well, pretty spectacular. It is a grocery store after all. But, it's not just any grocery store. It's Whole Foods. And it's not just any Whole Foods. It's THE Mother Ship of Whole Foods.

So, naturally I went in for a box of cereal and ended up coming out with 2 boxes of cereal (Kashi GO Lean Crunch), frozen berries, soy milk, a pint of quinoa and a black bean burrito for lunch. Whole Foods is the Target of grocery stores. You walk in intending to buy one item (say, a toothbrush) and end up spending $100 dollars on a bunch of other crap!

Gotta Love it!!

Jack and Adams Core is schedule for 5:30pm.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There I am passing the final female near the finish line at this year's Marble Falls Triathlon! (See my last race report for the full story)...Thanks to Tracy A. for snapping some fabulous photos! I'm glad the shade is blocking the menacing grimace that I'm sure my face is making!

On Monday, July 24th, I skipped Gilbert's Circuit Training Class. I actually got up in enough time, but my body was pretty wiped out from the race the day before. Soooo, I went back to bed and slept in until 7:30am. I'm kinda bummed because I forgot that the Hallmark TV Network was going to be there filming his class for an upcoming show. Never one to shy away from the camera, had I remembered, my butt would've been there! Oh well, I'll catch the spotlight some other time!

I did meet Richard and Thon at Jack and Adam's on Monday at 5:30pm for the Core Workout. It starts with the humiliating attempt at doing pull-ups. Adam is still forced to basically throw me over the bar. The rest of the hour continued with more plank pose, leg lifts, mountain climbers, push-ups and tricep dips. We ended with 10 chin-ups...more childhood humilation. It's one of those workouts that you dread going to, but feel so great when you're finished.

Instead of swimming this week, I met my Bodyguards (i.e. Thon, Richard and Mike) at 6am this morning for a very casual 5 mile jaunt around Town Lake. I didn't even wear my watch, so I can't even begin to estimate our time. However, I'll say somewhere between a walk, slow jog and trot. Thon ditched us in favor of running 5 extra miles. I knew I didn't have it in me today for that distance. Besides, tomorrow's workout is Mile Repeats at Zilker Park. It's a toughy.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

And Rounding Out the Top 5...

...in my age group!

As I left breakfast with my running friends on Saturday, they wished me luck at The Marble Falls Triathlon. I blurted out that I'd like to finishTop 5 in my age group. Well, when the results were posted, I discovered that I did, in fact, finish #5 in my age group out of 28.

I had a great time pre-race. This race is still very small and low key compared to many other triathlons. There's only about 400 participants so there's really no need for loud music or announcements in the morning. I immediately ran into friends and teammates who were racing...Colleen, Cindy B., Cindy S., Amy F., James B, etc. Amy and I had a hilarious conversation about why the hell we do this even though triathlon is so high-maitenance with equipment, gear and everything else you have to think about just to prepare for a race. We're sitting there basically humorously bad-mouthing the sport when a photographer came up and caught us in our "candid" moment! I can't wait to see that photo as I'm sure we both look spectacular!! We'll be the poster childern of next year's Marble Falls Triathlon. I think one of the reasons we do this sport is because it IS hard and it does require a lot of focus, energy and versatility as an athlete. As a result of my running, I've become a better biker and vice versa. Swimming has helped so that I'm not pounding my knees 6 days a week and so on... All in all, it makes me feel more fit and well-rounded as a competitor.

Swim and T1
The race started at a very early 7:00am. It was great because it still was nice and early before it got way too hot. Cindy, Colleen and I ceremoniously held hands and jumped in the lake together when it was time for our wave. As soon as we got in the water, I lost them in a haze of goggles and yellow swim caps. I was on my own. The gun went off and immediately there was thrashing, kicking, hitting--all in the name of a swim stroke. I could not get any type of position and immediately found myself in the back of the pack as usual. The waves of people were fairly big so it was very difficult to find any space. The water was warm, bordering on too hot. Seriously, it was like swimming in bath water. Well, as usual, it wasn't my day in the water and try as I might, I couldn't gain any ground on other people in my wave. I tried to stay close to the bouys and I could see everyone else making much wider turns. I had no one to draft with. I just kept trying to work on my form every chance that I got, but I don't think it was very pretty. I got out of the lake after the 1000m swim(finally) and hit my watch 26:25--yuck. I was hoping for a 22-24min swim. I got out of the water in good spirits though (mainly because I was out of the water) and immediately heard cheers from Maurice, Shawn, Tracy and Diane C. Tracy tried to snap a quick photo and I shouted, "My Boobs are falling out!" drawing laughter from other spectators. That's when I knew regardless of what happened, it was going to be a good day. I still had my self-deprecating sense of humor. I ran UPHILL into transition and did my thing...Because it was a small race and wetsuits weren't needed, this transition time was pretty fast...1:40. I mounted my bike and began to take off. As I was leaving I saw Shawn and heard him say, "Go out there and start picking them off!" By "them" he meant every possible female I could pass. That's what happens when you start from behind on the swim. Barring no unforseen issues, I had nowhere else to go but up from there.

Swim Age Group Rank: 22 out of 28 (ouch)

Bike and T2

The 23-mile bike consisted of lots of rolling hills and a couple of good climbing hills, including a nice long climb up the bridge not more than a 1/2 mile into the ride. As always, I tried to ease into it, but I also kept myself aware that this was a shorter race and I didn't have a whole lot of time if I was going to try to make up for lost time. When I could open it up and pedal in the big chain ring, I did. I pushed hard. On some climbs, I definitely dropped it in the lower ring, but tried to keep a quick cadence and pass those who were slowly grinding up the hills. I was passing people and loving it. Please God--no flats! The roads were in great shape and the entire ride pretty much took place on shoulders or one lane of major highway roads. We even entered and exited on the same ramps that cars were on. Luckily, the patrol folks and volunteers were doing a great job of monitoring traffic so I never felt unsafe. Plus, it was still pretty early and even the church-folk were still drinking their first cup of coffee. On the way back of this out and back, I tried to drop the hammer as much as I could. I took one power gel on the ride and drank one bottle of water. My bike was riding great. My seat is a little too high, but I was getting a lot of leg power. Perhaps that means I just need to change the angle of the seat. Oh well...in any event, I came riding back to transition and hit my watch. 1:12:45 Holy crap!! Much faster than I thought. It equated to a 19mph average...sweet. I was back in the game and had 4.4 miles to catch as many females as possible. T2 was 1:04, which I shoul've and could've sped up by about 10 seconds. Oh well...

Bike Age Group Rank: 4 out of 28 (great surprise!)

All I can say about the 4.4 mild run is "God Bless my Gazelle Training." Without this group, there is no way I could've averaged the 7:09 pace that I was able to average for 4.4 miles. It was an out-and-back course through a small neighborhood and park. There was some shade and three aid stations for water and gatorade. Mile 2 was a little tough for me because there was a slight climb. Other than that, the run course was relatively flat. I can say this, my heart was beating like a newborn. At one point, I tried to take a deeper breath and couldn't find air. Luckily, it passed and was able to keep moving at that pace. I took another power gel at Mile 1,which boosted me towards the end of the race. This is a race where you make the final turn and finish on a steep uphill gravel path. It's not exactly the safest surface when you're exhausted. I saw one final female I could pass (or attempt to) about 10 yards ahead of me at that turn. I wasn't going to bother, but at the bottom of the hill, there was an unknown voice yelling, "Go get her! You can catch her!!" I don't think it was anyone I knew, just a racer who was finished. I lit up and gave it everything I had. As I climbed the gravel hill, I could still hear the girl at the bottom shouting for me. "Go, Go, Go!" With about 3 yards to spare, I passed her just before the finish line!! I was so excited and immediately hunched over to catch my breath which was somewhere at the bottom of the hill. I finished the 4.4 mile run in 31:28.

Run Age Group Rank: 1 out of 28 (WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Total Race Time: 2:13:23
5th out of 28 W 30-34
46th Female overall out of 164

Bottom Line: I feel great about the race overall. Either I have to figure out what the hell keeps holding my swim back or I have to switch to Duathlons!! (Run-Bike-Run)

Congrats to Amy F who came in at 6th place in our age group!! Maybe we're not hating this sport so much afterall! Also, congrats to Cindy B, Cindy S., Colleen and my T3 teammates. I hope to swim as good as all of you someday! Thanks to Shawn, Tracy and Diane for yelling your hearts out!!

Friday 12 Miler/Saturday Pre Race

It's Sunday night and the Marble Falls Triathlon Results are up, but I want to quickly recap the weekend's workouts for posterity.

Because of the Triathlon, I did my long run on Friday morning at 5:45am with Amy and Lisa. When we arrived at Runtex, Shannon and Brian were also there preparing to do the same Grove Loop, so we all ran together in one big happy Gazelle pile. The 11.5 slow and easy miles or so were spent covering a myriad of topics including Brian's recent engagement as well as mine and training in the heat. The bulk of the run, however, was spent convincing Lisa to stick with Gazelles! (sorry Lisa--one more plug!) She's been wavering back and forth between two really great running groups that have very different methods of training. One of is very structured and caters to people of all levels, making it easier to "fit in" to a pace group. The Gazelle Group isn't as structured as most, and some people have a hard time adjusting to that lack of organization. Plus, it has a reputation as only being for "the fast people." I'm here to testify that a 9+ minute miler can become a 7+minute miler in a quick year. People of all levels can participate. What we all surmised is that whatever the Gazelles lacks in organization is clearly made up in "heart." Our coach is inspiring, enthusiastic and genuinely concerned with each and every one of his athletes. His formula for success starts with believing you can reach your goals with both your mind and your heart. Once you do that, success on the track or course comes naturally. I hope we convinced Lisa to stick with Gazelles because amazing things will happen!

On Friday night, Richard and Stephanie had me and Shawn (Shawn and I??) over for dinner to their new awesome place. Chef Richard made homeade spinach fettucine. I'm talking, pasta maker and all!! It made me think of my Italian relatives who also make homeade pasta. We also had cauliflower and falaffel and wine...SO GOOD!! Stephanie was so kind and is currently letting me borrow about 10 books on weddings, brides, traditions, etc! Needless to say, I was slightly overwhelmed with the amount of information to pour over. Every book had one thing in common though. They all said not to stress out about the wedding. And yet, they write a 500 page book on every detail that needs to happen!!! Can you say, "irony??" We ended the night with Italian Creme Cake and coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop. What a great way to spend a Friday night. We'll definitely be returning the favor when we get moved in to our home.

On Saturday, I woke up and went for a brief bike ride just to make sure it was running smoothly from the tune up. All systems were definitely a-go for the race. The bike was riding well with the loaner back wheel. Shawn and I had a ton of errands and then we headed out to Marble Falls to stay at the Marriott Resort in Horseshoe Bay. I won't go into detail, but it was a pretty dreadful experience. So much so that they took a significant amount of money off the bill! They did have warm showers and a damn comfortable bed so after dinner (salad, soup, bread, chicken with pasta, glass of wine and 1/2 piece of chocolate cheesecake) we got to bed early for my 5:00am wake up call. I wasn't really nervous about the race at all-hence the wine and dessert with dinner. I was treating it as a hard workout and that's precisely what it turned out to be!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Core Workout/Back to the Pool


It's official: I'm a total dork. I was scheduled to go to Jack and Adam's Core Workout last evening at 5:30pm for an hour of plank pose, back strengthing, push ups, pull ups and every other nightmarish childhood exercise you can think of. (or don't want to) I was meeting Richard and Thon there so our misery would be shared. I changed clothes in my work parking lot (inside my car!!) and realized I forgot one thing, my shoes. Damn...I couldn't do the workout. I did, however, have my cycling shoes and gear so I could go for a ride. I called Thon to tell him my unfortunate news and as he was abdicating me of any guilt, Richard (who was with Thon in the car) sent me a text message that said, "Guilt...You don't need shoes to do core." He was right. I could improvise any activity that involved running, but let's face it, you don't need shoes to do crunches and ab work and that AFTER ALL is the most important reason I am there. Soooooo...I found a pair of 1998 Disney/Mickey Mouse flip flops that I use for the pool and carted my ass over to Jack and Adams and grunted my way through an hour of core. The only exercise I had to modify was the "step-ups," I did squats and lunges.


I ventured back to the pool this morning for the first time since last week's disgraceful show of skill. I was much LESS fatigued this week and it wasn't pure torture. It was, however, 2600 m that involved several speed sets both with and without paddles. I continue to receive great pointers and improvement tips from the coaches. The main speed set was:

Without Paddles
400m at 80% (I did it in 9:20)
200m at 85% (4:49)
100 at 90% (2:15)

With Paddles
400m at 80% (9:00)
200m at 85% (4:20)
100m at 90% (2:00)

That equates to "I still have a long way to go," but I'm getting there. It also makes me wish that we could use paddles in the race! I haven't even touched my bike yet this week, so I'm a tad nervous about the triathlon on Sunday. I'm doing my long run tomorrow morning of 12 miles, so I'll hopefully go for a quick spin on Saturday--nothing heavy, just make sure the bike works!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Catching Up and 1000's on the Track

Like I said, it's back to my regularly scheduled training now that I broke format for a few days and shared the good news! Thanks for indulging me :-)

OK--so--this weekend I'm racing in a Sprint Triathlon in Marble Falls, Texas. I'm looking forward to it as it provides yet another weekend getaway. This time, we're staying in Horsehoe Bay, which I hope will provide us with some pool time (not laps, but relaxing time!) and a possible massage. I haven't even looked at weather conditions, but I'll go out on a limb and say that it's going to be blazing. It's a 1K Swim/23 mile Bike/4.4 Mile Run...I'm hoping to push it a little bit and see what I've got. I'm used to longer distance, so it will be interesting doing a shorter race.

I returned the Fabulous Kestrel Airfoil Pro that I test rode for a week from Jack and Adams. It was a beauty and rode amazingly well....very smooth. I tested it on a couple of different course situations and she maneuvered perfectly. Basically, Adam recommended that if you have some money to spend on a new bike (let's say $3500-$5000), it's best to just go ahead and build a custom bike from scratch as opposed to a "stock" bike that may be a slightly imperfect fit. The money is the same and you'll have a bike custom-made for YOU! Needless to say, it sounds wonderful, but I don't exactly have $4000 laying around to spend. SOOOOOOO, I picked up my old bike with a loaner wheel. They're still waiting on a part from Spinergy so they were kind enough to slap a back wheel on there so that I would have something to ride in this weekend's race. I hope to get on it tomorrow and get reacquainted with the Mango Blur.

Had a good week at Gazelles. We did a 10 mile Pace Run on Monday morning. First two miles slow and then fall into Marathon goal pace for the last 8 miles. Overall, I ran an 8:03 pace for a total 1:21:56. I was very happy because the weather conditions were downright miserable.

Today's workout was 1000s repeats on the track. I woke up late and completely missed the warm-up run to the track. Therefore, I just drove straight there and jumped into drills. I ran with a great group: Ann, Frank (not THE Anne Frank), Amy, Jennifer, Brian and Jonathon. We kicked ass and ran the repeats very consistently. #1 4:13 #2 4:10 #3 4:09 #4 4:05 #5 3:53
Afterwards, Gilbert made us do 4 x 200 butt kick sprints.
Because I didn't warm up, I decided to slowly run the 3 mile loop as a cool down. Crazy, I know, but it felt good. Plus, I wanted some more miles.

Swimming tomorrow, long run Friday, rest Saturday and Race Sunday!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Quick Engagement Recap...and then it's Back to Training :-)

Cinderella had her glass slipper. Dorothy had her ruby slippers. I have my running shoes.

So, let’s face it, we’ve been talking about marriage for a while. We’re building a house, my condo has a contract pending (after 3 days on the market!), we were going to go ring shopping on Saturday afternoon. If a had a “Magic 8” ball, it would’ve said, “All Signs Point To Yes.” It just hadn’t happened yet.

So like every other Saturday, the alarm went off at 5:00am so that I could get ready to run with the Gazelles. This past Saturday, a particularly difficult 16-miler was scheduled. I’m not sure why, but I was nervous about the run. I hadn’t done much long distance in a while, so when the alarm went off, I was partly dreading the run, partly anxious and a whole lot of tired. Like always, I lay my running clothes out the night before so that there were no excuses about not having anything to wear.

I put my running uniform on and as I went to put on my very dirty (and needing to be replaced) Mizuno Inspires, I noticed something inside one of the shoes. “Oh yeah—My Garmin Watch.” I had put it in one of my shoes so that I wouldn’t forget it. I slipped that shoe on and went to put on the other one. “What in the world is that?” I noticed a heart shaped foam “stress ball” with a rubber band bracelet wrapped around it. The bracelet said, “Will You Marry Me?” I sat and stared at that thing a couple of minutes. “Oh my God. This is it. This is that moment. Is he even awake? Am I even awake!!? Is this happening?” I even thought about playing a joke on him and just walking out the door and pretending like I wasn’t going to respond. That would’ve been horrible!!! (and terribly funny) I went to his room and, of course, he was awake and he asked me the question properly to which I replied, “Yes, yes, yessssssssssssss” a few times.

I said I wasn’t going to run and he insisted that I go! Partly because I had so much energy and partly because I wanted the mileage, I went. Needless to say, I had one of the best 16-milers in a long time. Of course, I took plenty of harassment from my running pals. “He gave you a rubber band???” “Who knew finding a rubber in your shoe could be so fun!” …and so on…I love my sweet kind runner friends :-) It's a good thing I'm a "funny girl" and can take the harrassment :-) God knows, I dish it enough!

We did, in fact, pick out a ring on Saturday afternoon. It was fun picking out rings knowing that I had already said, “YES!” It took a lot of the awkwardness out of the process. Plus, it was pure joy making it a dual project. He didn’t have to suffer through it alone hoping that he made a good choice. Honestly, neither one of us knew the first thing about diamond rings, so it was pretty humorous being educated like a 5 year old about different diamond cuts and the 4 Cs (clarity, carats, blah, blah, blah). I just wanted something that sparkles a lot (and is kinda big)! The ring won’t be here for another couple of weeks—all custom made for me baby—so I can’t even show off the bling. It's a 3-stone platinum ring and that's about as girly as I can get when describing it. They told me that the round diamonds are more durable and less susceptible to chipping or coming loose. As a bad-ass, high powered, endurance athlete, that was good news. The only time my ring is allowed to chip is if I'm swimming in a race and I need to scratch some girl's arm or face to get ahead of her...just kidding...sorta.

So, in our continuing quest to do things in the wrong order, we got engaged and THEN picked out a ring!

We have no idea when or where wedding will take place at this point. We obviously live here in Austin, but a lot of our family members are either back in Ohio or scattered about the country. I just want it to be a freaking party. I've waited too long for it to be some boring, over-the-top, formal wedding. Anyone know if Debbie Gibson is available to play at receptions?? I could use a live version of "Shake Your Love!"

OK--tomorrow it's back to the boring training log. FYI, on Saturday I ran 16 miles, I biked 20 on Sunday and did a 10 mile Pace run this morning.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


He proposed.

I said, "yes."

Life is good.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Good Old Fashioned Butt-Whoopin

I got my ass spanked at swim class this morning. And not in a good way…I’m talking spanked in a way that a little league player would feel if he was forced to play in the World Series. That’s what I’m talking about.

I knew when I got up that this workout would be a challenge. I held my own through the warm up and drills. When we got to the speed sets, I was toast. We were to do a progressive pace set with 600 x 80% effort, 450 x 85% effort and 300 x 90% effort. The yardage was a combination of regular swimming and pull/paddle. By the end, there was no 90%. My all-out effort became my cool-down. The other swimmers were finishing 20-30 seconds ahead of me…Incredibly discouraging.

I even thought about quitting midway through and just admitting that, “It’s not my day.” You know what? I didn’t quit. As humiliated as I was, I finished the set for mental perseverance. It’s just tough to swallow when you come off a good run day and have a crappy swim day. I know I’m a strong athlete. What’s my problem?

Here’s the Bottom Line. I know EXACTLY what my problem was today. I’m worn out. I’ve put way too much effort in this week and it shows. Two very difficult running workouts on Mon/Wed, 2 very difficult Core/Arm/Abs workouts on Mon/Wed, a swim workout on Tuesday and a bike workout on Wednesday night. Six tough workouts by Wednesday night left me reeling on Thursday morning. The Jack and Adams Core workout has left me especially sore in new places (again-not in a good way) with plenty of tricep dips, pushups, pull ups, etc. My arms were fatigued as hell this morning. What I need to do is start from the beginning with tri-training and work my way up towards the race in November. Instead, what I tried to do this week is to pick up where I left off just prior to the last race with a 13-15 hour training week. With that strategy, I’ll be burnt out by Mid-August. I need to back up, reassess and begin building a base again. The problem? I’m addicted. Anyone who is in my shoes at the moment knows exactly what I’m talking about. You get to a point where two workouts per day is not the exception, it’s the standard. You get to a point where if you don’t get 3 swims, 3 bike rides, 3 runs and some core work in each week, you feel like you’re going to lose every ounce of fitness that you’ve gained. You think that if you keep pushing through the pain and fatigue, you’ll suddenly emerge to a new level of fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to train. Nothing feels better than finishing a tough workout. It just hit me this morning that my body still needs rest. That stillness and relaxation can also help you to emerge to another level of fitness.

Of course it doesn’t help that work has been nuts, my current house is on the market (with a couple of potential offers coming in today) and my new house is still two months from being finished! Let’s hope that timing works out perfectly J

In the meantime, I think I’ll relax tonight and tomorrow and gear up for a nice slow run on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Four Mile Tempo Run Comparison

Well, I haven't done this one since March so it was hard to say what would happen. Coach was a little disgruntled as attendance for the tempo run was a little dismal. He (I hope) jokingly said that we're going to do tempo every week to make sure people don't skip it. Here are my comparisons from the last time.

March 14th, 2006

Mile 1: 7:05
Mile 2: 6:39
Mile 3: 6:49
Mile 4: 6:58

Last .04 Mile :15

Total: 27:49 for 4.04 Miles(6:53 pace)

July 12, 2006

Mile 1: 7:10
Mile 2: 7:12
Mile 3: 6:42
Mile 4: 7:07

Last .13 Mile :55

Total: 29:08 for 4.13 Miles (7:03 pace)

As suspected, I was off from my PR, but I don't think it has anything to do with my fitness level. Humidity was definitely a factor as my breathing was labored from the get-go. With about 1 1/2 to go, I was barely hanging on. Fortunately, this wonderful (and new) Gazelle stuck with me and kept giving positive reinforcement. "You can do it." "We're almost there." i think he was also convincing himself, but I didn't hear him breathing nearly as loud as I was!! It wasn't until after we finished and I had cooled down a bit that I could ask him his name and learned that it was Mike. Thanks Mike! I definitely needed the encouragement. Otherwise, I would've definitely continued to slow down.

Another factor was definitely my overall fatigue from a week of tough workouts. Plus, this tempo run has a way of sucking you back into the reality that "running is hard." I have no doubt that I'm still suffering from some post-Boston and post-Half Ironman fatigue as well.

Also, because of a slight trail detour, my Garmin measured this route longer than before, thus adding extra time. It doesn't matter. Even without the extra distance, I was still about :45 seconds slower during the "4 mile" part. Overall, I'm pleased with the first tempo run in 4 months! It's a good benchmark to start from for the future runs.

After the run, we cooled down a bit and then worked on balance drills with Coach.
The best part? Thon didn't puke this time. But, he did beat me by about 15 seconds!

FINALLY...a test ride

Just as I suspected, I was pretty damn sore Tuesday morning from Jack and Adam’s Core Workout on Monday. Specifically, my legs/hips and arms were sore from the step-ups and the pushups. That didn’t bode well for my swim workout which, of course, works the arms and legs.

Luckily, I started in my own lane so I could take my time through the warm up. Soon after the 300m warm up, I was joined by a new guy—one of the coach’s friends. We did 2600meters of drills, pulls, fins and tempo work. I didn't get the feeling this guy was looking to better his swimming technique. It seemed like he was there to hang with his buddy. No matter, he was still faster than me. I held onto the intervals that Coach set for me, but I wasn’t feeling very smooth in the water. I tried not to be too hard on myself about it. For me, swimming is still mostly about getting the distance and not the speed. I’ve come to terms that I’ll never be an Ian Thorpe or Michael Phelps.

Testing the Kestrel

After work on Tuesday, I FINALLY had a chance to test ride the Kestrel Air-Foil Pro. Can you say, “Sweet???” It took me a while to clip in and get used to the gears of this bike, but once I did, I actually felt like a middle aged man test driving his new Corvette. I swear I could see drivers, runners and other cyclists looking at me as I drove by. Well, they weren’t looking at me, they were admiring the machine (and hopefully my stellar aero-position form). I chose to ride around the Scenic, Exposition, Balcones, Lake Austin Blvd areas. There are plenty of bike lanes and wide roads. Plus, it’s a good course to test hills, flats and turns. I was having a blast during my 15 mile ride and I suffered very little form and leg fatigue. Granted my legs were sore from the last to days of workouts, but riding actually loosened those tight muscles a bit. I’d love to test ride it again and do a South Mopac time trial to see if I can beat my previous PR time. Perhaps the fine folks at Jack and Adams will grant me permission to keep the bike for a few more days so that I can do a Time Trial. Of course, I’m trying not to wear out my welcome with the bike, but they’ve been totally cool about me having it. Plus, they still have mine!

Tomorrow’s Gazelle Workout is the killer 4 mile Tempo Run on the Town Lake Trail. My previous PR is a 27:49 (sub 7:00 min miles). I’m hoping to come in around the same time. However, I do think the humidity and my sore muscles will have an effect.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Return to Wilke and More Core Gore!

Got made fun of again at work. This time? I ate a black bean veggie burger for breakfast with a piece of soy cheese wrapped in a w.w. tortilla. Is that weird?? OK, I admit, to most people I suppose it’s a little strange to heat up a veggie burger at 9:30 in the morning (at least I didn’t bring in the George Foreman). To me, it was just what my body was craving after the last 24 hours! I can definitely tell that I’m ramping up my training. My appetite has also started to ascend.

The Return to Wilke Monday, July 10th 5:45am

I haven’t done the Wilke Hill Repeats since March. I always envision that hill being a giant middle finger because it appears to shout, “F-ck You” every time I begin to climb it. Believe me, I shout back even louder. We had to do 7 forward repeats and 2 backwards repeats. I was thankful because we usually do 10 forward, 3 backward and 3 sprints from the half-way point. Perhaps it’s early in the season or perhaps Coach had a moment of mercy. Either way, I was happy to stop after 7 of those bad boys The heat and humidity were brutal even in the dawn of the day. I average between 1:33-1:37 for the climb. I’d love to get consistently under 1:30. The road is very deceiving as it starts of on a manageable slope. You feel like you’re doing well and then all of the sudden, the road takes a vertical turn and you become parallel to the road. (at least that’s how I envision myself). The goal of this workout—besides not puking or dying—is to work on form. Stand tall, tighten the abs and lift knees from the hips. Way easier said than done…

With the warmup and cooldown run, this workout is about 8.1 miles. I stole that from Frank’s blog!

The Return to Jack and Adam’s Core Class Monday, July 10th 5:45pm

I was going to Core Class with my girlfriends for a long time, but a change in time has made it more difficult for me to get there. Therefore, I’ve been somewhat diligent about doing that same core workout in the comforts of my a/c living room, as opposed to the non-a/c warehouse at Runtex. I read my Gazelle buddy Richard’s blog last week and he mentioned that he started going to the Jack and Adam’s Core Class. I used to go to this a couple of years back when they first opened their store. Apparently, it has evolved into a more “boot camp” style of workout for an hour. Adam coaches it and shows little mercy to beginners or elites. Everyone is equal. Did I mention that it’s outside in the sun with little to no shade? Richard gives a better description of the entire hour in his entry, but suffice to say that my arms and quads hurt today. You know when you pound chicken with a hammer to make it thin? That’s how my body feels today! Just when I think I’m in shape, the fitness gods spit on you and laugh! We warmed up with a ½ mile jog, 10 pull-ups (it helps when he is throwing me over the bar) and an hour of other core torture including plank poses for 3 min straight, “superman” poses for a few minutes straight, tricep dips and pushups, leg lifts, step-ups on not so low bleachers. We did 100 on each leg. Like most people, I lost his cadence count, but didn’t stop to take a break, mountain climbers on the curb, etc. We ended the workout with 10 chin-ups (all of mine were assisted) and another ½ mile cool-down. As brutal as it was and as many moments that I questioned, 'What the hell am I doing here?' I'm so glad I went.

All this and I still haven’t been on that gorgeous bike that I’m “test riding.” That’s Wednesday evening’s workout. I swam this morning and will write about that later tonight after my bike ride! I also officially put my house on the market...How weird to see a "For Sale" Sign and a Lock box on my door.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Testing 1..2..3

This is the toy I'm test riding for the next few days. In the infamous words of Stevie Wonder, "Isn't She Lovely?" I picked her up from Jack and Adams today and they spent over 1/2 hour fitting me on this machine--for only a test ride. What a great tri shop! The bike is slightly too big for me, but it will at least give me a good spin and a feel for what this bike is capable of. I didn't get a chance to ride today, but hopefully tomorrow. Plus, the colors couldn't be more spectacular. I'm a huge Ohio State Fan and what better colors than scarlet and gray?

Shawn and I completed a short brick workout this morning.

3/4 mile swim at Barton Springs followed by 3.5 mile run on the trail
For some reason, I was struggling a tad on the swim. My laps got progressively slower...
lap #1 9:26 lap #2 9:44 lap #3 9:47
I was glad we opted not to do the mile...weird...

The rest of the day was great...A few errands followed by an early dinner at South Congress Cafe to celebrate our Anniversary (it's where we met for our first date!), followed by a nap. We even signed up for the Marble Falls Sprint Tri on July 23rd.

Here's to another week!

Footloose Extravaganza

Saturday started as I expected (even better actually). I was mentally and physically prepared to run 14 miles including the infamous Mt. Bonnell hill, but Coach encouraged us to only run 12 miles since this coming week was going to be HARD. We could run 14 "if we wanted to," but it wasn't necessary. Most of us, including me, opted out of the Mt. Bonnell portion of the run. Instead, we suffered through the humidity with slow miles up front and picked it up at the end. It was a tough run. My legs felt fine, but my cardio couldn't keep up and breathing was difficult through a lot of it, even though I wasn't running nearly as fast as I could. Fortunatey, that appeared to be the universal sentiment so I didn't feel all that bad about it. Many of us were suffering together.

After completing the 12 miles, we did our usual strides and then Coach had us doing balance drills for almost 1/2 hour before we even stretched! Lots of knee lifts, "higher open" drills with our legs, skipping, etc...all in the name of opening our hips and preventing injury. Although the stretching portion of the morning can take upwards of 45 minutes, it is so imperative to feeling good afterwards. My legs feel great this morning, like I could run a marathon.

The rest of yesterday was spent in full errand and shopping mode--breakfast with Shawn, Richard and Thon, stop by Richard's house to look at his hard wood floors, a stop by Jack and Adams to check on my bike and pick out another one to test ride today, a visit to the Vespa store to pick up information and brochures (yes, I've been jonesing for a scooter for a long time, but have never actually looked at one), a buzz by our house in progress to check on it, more cleaning at my current house, etc...

The night was capped off with one of the silliest and funniest moments in my life; the Mr. Sinus Show's rendition of the movie "Footloose." It's much like Mystery Science Theater, where they play the movie and three guys make funny ass comments about it on mic throughout the entire film....freaking hilarious!

Off to swim and test ride a bike today! Plus, today is my 1 1/2 year anniversary with Shawn. I can't believe I haven't totally screwed it up yet!! In honor of him,

"Let's hear it for the boy.
Let's give the boy a hand.
Let's hear it for my baby.
You know you gotta understand.
Maybe he's no Romeo, but he's my lovin one man show
Ohhhhhh...Let's hear it for the boy!"

--Ah, flashbacks of "Footloose" and cheesy 80's music. I LOVE IT!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Devil is Alive and Well

Now I know what the Bible meant about not giving in to temptation.

You see, I've got these two friends. I'll call them Richard and Thon. Both have become great friends over the past year as we've trained and run together with Gilbert's Gazelles. They've seen me at my worst (i.e. 5:30am with no makeup) and they've heard me talk relentlessly about my best. We train together, have breakfast together, discuss relationships, homes, work, family, etc. They are a positive influence in my life.

Last night, however, Satan took over my wonderful friends and I came face to face with temptation. Who won?

This has been a rough week at work. I've been short of sleep due to airline mishaps which got me home at 6am on Wednesday morning. That was just enough time to come home, take a shower and head into work. I've also been trying to get my place ready to put on the market, and although it seems like an easy enough task, it has become slightly laborious!

Last night, my goal was to come home from work, lay down for about 1/2 hour, cook a quick dinner and then begin the cleaning process. On task: cleaning the oven, dusting and cleaning all of the ceiling fans, cleaning the blinds and scouring the baseboards. I don't have a dirty house (or so I thought), but let's face it. These are the little things we overlook in our normal "June Cleaver" moments. I also wanted to vacuum the house as the steam cleaners were coming today.

All was on plan. I sent Richard and Thon a text message letting them know that I couldn't make it to Happy Hour. We try to get together over a margarita every now and then instead of just Gatorade and Clif Shots. Shawn was working late so it was just me and my chores. I got home, plopped down on the couch and very quickly heard the familiar "bling" of a text message. And then another...Text Message received from Richard with a photo attached of two margaritas. "Wish You Were Here." (7:19pm) I started thinking...I can make it. I can always clean over the weekend. I sent a text back. "You are Killing Me!" I could feel myself buckling under the peer pressure.

7:27pm Another Text from Richard "It's Not Too Late. Tequila is a cure for sleeplessness!"
OK--now I'm torn. My spelt pasta with chicken and spinach was boiling, but chips, salsa and enchiladas sounded much better. Still, I wanted to be strong. I had my iPod on and I was dancing around the kitchen with Windex and a paper towel singing "I Will Survive."

By this time, I had definitely resolved to staying home. The restaurant is a mere 10 minutes from my house, but it was also the Night of "First Thursday" on South Congress which meant that parking and crowds would be a nightmare. Call me old, but the thought of fighting massive crowds had no appeal to me. Unfortunately, the thought of being with my friends did.

8:57pm Another Text from Richard with a photo of fun people eating good food at Guerros. "MMMM...Food" By this point, I had already eaten and was knee deep in cleaning.

9:21pm I sent a text back "mmmm...sleep"

Then the real fun began as my friends were apparently strolling down galleries and shops of South Congress.

9:55pm Text from Richard with photo of the movie poster from "Reefer Madness"
9:56pm Text from Thon with photo of a monkey smoking a pipe
10:29pm Text fron Richard with photo of Thon and a cigarette in his mouth with the message "Time to Start"
10:34pm my final text message in response to Thon and the cigarette "Don't Do It!"

10:45pm I turned my phone off and got ready for bed. I accomplished most of my cleaning tasks, had a healthy dinner AND still managed to "hang" with my friends in spirit.

The devil came ringing on my cell phone last night, but I didn't answer (even though I did send him a few text messages!)

The fun part--I get to run with them bright and early tomorrow morning for a nice 14 miler. Now, that's temptation I'll give into.

The bummer part, as Richard noted in his blog this morning--I missed celebrity sightings of Quentin Tarrantino and Fiona Apple!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Up in the Air

Everything appears up in the air these days.

Frustrated at work yesterday because I'm in a holding pattern on about 4 different projects that I'm working on at the moment. Some people are on vacation, others are in process of getting info to me and still others are "working on it." I feel like I'm tap dancing with a few clients who are like, "So Carrie, where are we on that project?" As an Account Manager, I guess "tap dancer" and "plate spinner" goes along with the territory. It still doesn't keep me from being frustrated from time to time. I just keep telling myself that these projects will be completed. Three of them are website projects and I'm writing the content and waiting on the graphic design.

I visited my bike in the hospital yesterday (aka: Jack and Adams Bike Shop) They are now waiting on prices for a couple of parts to tweak it. The diagnosis is still "up in the air." The good news is that it doesn't look like I'll have to replace the fork...Just tightening the spokes and ordering a small part or two. My fingers are still crossed as it can always take a turn for the worse. I miss not having my bike around. Timing is bad because I also recently cancelled my gym membership so I can't go to spin classes either. Therefore, I'm focusing on swimming and running until cycling becomes an option again. I really missed riding when I was in California because I saw cyclists everywhere! I may get the mountain bike out this weekend do a little off-roading if I get really desperate. Actually, I love trail riding. I also love not breaking bones.

Hopefully, the end of the week will bring some resolution to some of the chaos. I'm just glad it was a short week!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sunny, California (Part 2)

This trip was definitely a last minute excursion. I had both Monday and Tuesday off work (woo hoo) and we didn't know Shawn's schedule until last Wednesday. Fortunately, he ended up getting Monday off as well which made this trip possible. It also was predicated by the fact that his brother and sister-in-law live in Orange, County AND his brother was throwing a surprise 40th Birthday party for his wife in Newport Beach on Monday night. I never dreamed that we would make it, but here we were in Monterrey about to hit the road for the 6 hour drive back down to Southern California. We woke up Monday morning and I went for another run. I didn't want to totally slack on my workouts, especially since I knew we'd be sitting in a car for hours upon hours. I actually did a fartlek workout and did 8 repeats of 2min fast/1 min recovery. I know, I'm such a running nerd...always looking for a good workout.

We started the morning off by driving the 17-mile drive in Monterrey and Pebble Beach. I try not to be envious, but damn these people are rich!!! You know you're rich when you can charge admission to drive around your freaking neighborhood. Huge houses on the golf courses, amazing beaches and cliffs overlooking the Pacific, trees, wildlife, etc. The natural beauty was astounding even on this cool, foggy, misty morning. It was about 58 degrees outside and we were both wearing shorts (hello--this is California after all!) We'd hop out of the car, take a quick photo and jump back in the car just to soak it in...

The next 6 hours were spent hauling ass down the 5 to make it to Newport Beach on time for the Surprise Birthday Party. It was on a Harbor Cruise boat so we had to be at the dock by a specific time so as not to miss the boat. Let's just say that I'm happy to be alive and we DID make the boat--barely. We made it to Newport with plenty of time to spare, but between not knowing where the boat was docked and trying to find parking on the 4th of July weekend, things got a little scary for a bit. Shawn's on the phone with his Dad trying to Google Directions. Meanwhile, his Mom is calling his brother to let them know we were in town...blah, blah, blah...It was a relief to step foot on the boat and be able to yell "Surprise." Monica started to cry when she saw us. I think she was overwhelmed that we made the trip from Texas. Hell, I wanted to cry too since we almost missed it! The rest of the evening was fun and, once again, spent observing how the other half lives. It was a gorgeous evening and heavenly to watch the sun go down again.

Luckily, Brett and Monica opened their home to us that night and we crashed at their place. Little did we know that they were also having a 4th of July picnic at their house the next day. We woke up on the 4th and after relaxing over coffee for a bit and visiting, we headed off on (you guessed it) a morning run. We ran around the neighborhood and through some wooded trails for about a total of 5 miles when all was said and done. I was also jonesing to lay on a beach somewhere for a few hours so, we drove down to Laguna Beach, had lunch and crashed on the beach for a couple of hours. After all of the travelling and being cooped up in a car, it was wonderful to lay there and do NOTHING. We headed back to his brother's house at 4:30pm, visited with the party guests and got ready to go home. Our flight left at 9:00pm last night and didn't make it back to Austin until 6:00am. Shawn had to literally hop in a cab and head straight to work. I had enough time to get our bags, get to the parking lot, drive home, shower and head straight to work.

I absolutely loved this quick trip and can't wait to go back to Santa Barbara, Carmel and spend more time in Souther California. Driving through Big Sur, Shawn planted the seed that I should run the Big Sur Marathon. I corrected him and said that WE should run the Big Sur Marathon. We'll see what happens. The best part is that I didn't have to take any days off work and there was no race involved which meant that there was no anxiety!

We didn't overeat or go crazy with horrible food. However, we did discover a new poison. Snyders Pretzels has Buffalo Wing and Jalepeno pretzels..They are so good!!!

Back from Sunny, California (Part 1)

The end of the trip was just as wild and hectic as the entire weekend since our plane actually landed this morning at 6:00am (over 3 hours late!), but our "spontaneous" trip to California was more than worth it, especially for a girl who grew up inland in the 'burbs of of Columbus, Ohio. Until I saw the coast for the first time when I was a young girl, my idea of the ocean was hanging out int the neighborhood swimming pool with Malibu Barbie.

I'm still in awe of the nartural and stunning beauty of the Pacific Coastline. I remember in elementary school when teachers would say, "California is so big that you can ski in the morning and then drive in your convertible in another city by the afternoon." My little pea brain couldn't comprehend that one state could have four seasons in one day!

We flew into Orange County on Saturday at 11am and spent most of the afternoon doing the cheesy touristy Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu thing...a stroll down Rodeo drive, lunch in Beverly Hills, a closeup view of the "Hollywood" sign, the Hollywood Walk of fame, a self-guided tour of stars homes and then the infamous "death" tour--Chateau Marmot (where John Belushi died), the Viper Room (where River Phoenix died), Rockingham and Bundy (streets of the infamous OJ/Nicole Brown Simpson debaucle). We really didn't actively seek those out...They were just there as we drove through Brentwood on our way to Malibu. Damn, I sound so freaking L.A.

After a couple of hours in L.A., we began our drive up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu and beyond. We stopped for the night in a little town called Oxnard..yikes! There's a reson this city isn't in the Fodor's Guide.
We woke up Sunday and went for a quick run in Oxnard and then began our journey to some of the most beautiful sites. We ran outside for about 30 minutes and then I hopped on the treadmill and did about 20 more minutes. We made it to Santa Barbara in time to hit 9:00am Mass at the Mission Santa Barbara. Absolutely stunning. You could see the mountains in the distance and everything was so lush and alive. We stolled the streets, grabbed our Starbucks and then headed to a harborfront restaurant for lunch overlooking the Pacific. I wish we could've extended our stay, but we had other sites to absorb...the Hearst Castle, Monterrey and finally Carmel. We got to Carmel in just enough time to put on jeans (it got cold!!!) and walk down to the beach to see the sun set over Pebble Beach. Dinner in Carmel was followed by a night of rest as the whirlwind tour of California was to continue of Monday.

More to come...