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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Week 13: Catholic Taper

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

Carrie Enters Confessional

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

Help me, Father…

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

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

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

Monday, October 30, 2006

Week 12: Sat/Sun Recap

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Week 12: Wednesday and Thursday Recap

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


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


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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week 12: Mary Lou Retton Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2006

Turkey Trot Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Week 11: Weekend Recap

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Week 11: 50min Run/1:30 Bike

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 11: 8 Mile Run/ 1 Mi Swim

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Week 11: Post Gluttony Weekend

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week 10: 7-Mile Run and 2000m Swim

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Week 10: Swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 09, 2006

Week 10: 10 Mile Run/30 min Swim

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 08, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 06, 2006

Week 9: 20-Mile Run

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

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

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

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

On tap for this weekend:

Sat: Bike/Run brick
Sun Swim and possible Bike

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Punch List

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

Week 9: 2000m Repeats

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

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

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

I did:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Week 9: Swim and Bike

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

Swim Class:

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

Bike Ride:

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

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Week 9: 10 Mile Run/Recovery Week

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

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

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

Completed Time 1:31:51

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

Monday, October 02, 2006

Week 8: Sat 60 mile Ride/Sun Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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