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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My First Ironman Meltdown

I used to love to go sledding as a young girl. With four older brothers, winters in Ohio were like living through our very own Xtreme Winter sports season. Our Dad would take us ice skating and sledding. My favorite was being in a sled while tied to the back of a three-wheeler and racing around the neighborhoods on icy and snowy roads. We'd whip around corners narrowly missing mailboxes, bushes and cars for that matter. We were on our own nature-made roller coaster. One day, a snowmobile even showed up next door to take us for a ride. Eventually, though, the wet snow and winter winds would permeate our layers of clothes and I would start to feel the bone chilling cold of winter. It was the cold that only a wood burning fireplace and Mom's hot chocolate could cure. It was the cold that actually inflicted pain upon my toes and fingers to the point where I thought frostbite had surely won the battle. I couldn't believe how quickly pure pleasure could turn to extreme pain. I didn't know a body could feel that cold. I couldn't remember...until yesterday morning.

80 Mile Bike Ride
Saturday's key workout was an 80 mile bike ride. I had a series of challenges surrounding this ride which didn't ease the tension of actually trying to complete the mileage. My friends, Raul and Tracy, were getting married at 2pm on Saturday afternoon in Austin. That meant that I had to be at home and in the shower by 1pm (and that was pushing it) in order to make it to the wedding on time. Fortunately, the church is close to our house. I also knew that it would take me a minimum of 5 hours to even get close to 80 miles. Essentially, I knew from the get-go that I probably wouldn't be able to complete all 80 miles, but I was fine with that. I just wanted to get as many in as possible. Plus, the group I was riding with wasn't even starting until 9:30am since it was supposed to be so cold in the morning. Knowing all of this, I still wanted to start riding at 7am. So, I reached a new level of discipline yesterday morning and drove to the parking lot at 6:45am, set up my bike trainer by moonlight and started riding until the sun came up. It was 27 degrees according to the Weather Channel. I had prepared for this. I was wearing three pairs of socks and toe warmers, two pairs of gloves, ear warmers, tights and three layers of shirts. I rode on the trainer until the sun rose enough to where I felt safe hitting the streets. It was about 7:30am and I had worked up one hell of a sweat. In my bag, I had actually packed those things that you shake to keep your toes and fingers warm. However, I was sweating enough and thought, "There's no way I'll need this." I knew I had about two hours of riding to do before I met the rest of T3 where I would join them for the Dam Loop. I started on my own and headed towards the Bee Caves Loop.
On the trainer by moonlight
Well, riding on the trainer is one thing and riding while generating a 20 mph wind is another. It didn't take long for my hands and toes to start to feel cold. I just kept telling myself, "You'll warm up. The sun will warm you." For some reason, I just couldn't shake the pain, the stinging and the numbness. I was having trouble shifting gears because my hands hurt so bad. I was struggling up all hills because my feet and toes just wouldn't work. I did the entire Bee Caves Loop before deciding to head back towards the car and put the toe warmers and hand warmers in my gloves and shoes. I was hitting stop lights and the pain was excrutiating. Mentally, I was already pissed, upset and self-defeated. I was only 25 miles into the ride. What started as such a pleasurable experience had quickly gone south. When I pulled up to my car, some of the T3 crew had already started to arrive. I got off my bike in tears (mostly from just being in pain). I tried to take my cleats off and couldn't because my hands weren't working. I tried to take my gloves off and couldn't. The rest of my body started to get chilled and I couldn't stop shivering. Then, the wave of dizziness and nausea hit me. "What the hell is wrong with me," I lamented. Suddenly, the thought of 55 more miles was completely insurmountable.
I had chilled myself to the bone and couldn't warm up. At that moment, all I wanted to do was get in my car, crank up the heat and drive home to my husband. I just wanted to lay by the fire and drink coffee.

In an instant, I did just that. With my cycling gloves and cleats still ON, I loaded my bike in the car, got in and drove home after quickly telling a teammate that I wasn't feeling well. I can't describe the conflicting senses of relief and failure that I was feeling at that moment. Most of all, my toes and fingers were just aching so bad that I think I just cried the entire drive home. I got home and didn't want Shawn to see me crying. He obviously knew something went wrong so I told him the story and then told him that I was just going to set up the trainer in the house and ride as long as I could. He graciously made me coffee while I waited for my body to warm up.

Somehow I was able to salvage the morning and I still got a sold 4+ hour ride completed for about 70 miles (which probably equates to more like 60 miles on the roads). For much-needed inspiration, I popped in the 2006 Hawaii Ironman DVD and felt the exhilaration and determination all over again.

To this moment, I don't know exactly how to feel. Part of me feels like a complete failure for not being able to fight through it, but the bitterness and pain was indescribable. As I said, the pain was so intense, it was literally making me nauseous and dizzy. There's a reason why the rest of the crew wasn't meeting until 9:30am. That just wasn't an option for me. I'm in a bit of a bike slump at the moment because I haven't turned out a good ride in a long time. The indoor training rides are going great, but my road rides are suffering right now. Next week, we've got a 95 mile ride scheduled. Fortunately, I can just focus on that, but I'm totally nervous and scared.

On much better notes, the wedding was utterly beautiful and I was so honored to be there in that church for Tracy and Raul. There's also something very comforting about being in church surrounded by friends and hearing that lovely music. It also provided some much needed comfort and solace for such a tough morning. Immediately after the wedding, Shawn and I headed to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl and a night with his parents. It was a whirlwind day and I was completely exhausted last night.

However, there's no rest for the humbled or weary because this morning, I was up before anyone else and on the roads for a slow and painful 17-mile run. (avg pace 9:20) Painful mainly because my body just feels beat up at the moment. I don't even know what I was thinking...On Friday, I did THREE workouts and then expected to feel good for an 80 mile ride the next morning. I went to an hour core class, swam at Barton Springs for an hour and then ran for an hour on Friday. I didn't hydrate well and I didn't eat well. Every now and then I take for granted that my body will dig deep and get through. I totally disrespected myself and my body. It only responded how a real human should.

The meltdown was good as it brought me back to a little reality. And now I need to continue to face my bike fears....95 miles next Saturday. I can do this. I just hope it's a little warmer.
How ironic that my meltdown came as a result of being freezing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Vacation-Ha Ha

My coaches are sadistic and evil. Seriously. What were they thinking? The last two weeks of IM training has included 17 hours this week and 18.5 hours next week. Yep, I'm talking about the weeks of Christmas and New Years! Never mind that people travel. Forget about the fact that people have family and friends. Disregard the whole "holiday" thing. As I've said before, Ironman training is a train that will leave your ass behind if you don't keep up.

That's why a huge portion of my time in Ohio was spent on my feet, in the pool or on a stationery bike. Gone were the days of leisurely lunches and drinks with friends. We weren't in town long enough to really do much "hanging out." Those are some of the sacrifices that go along with this journey. Fortunately, Shawn was with me every step of the way.

Our friend Karl blessed us not only with a great 15 mile run on Sunday, but also two free passes to the brand new state-of-the-art Ohio State University Rec Center. This facility featured multiple pools, weights, hot tubs, cardio equipment and everything else you would ever need for a greatworkout. So, on Christmas Eve, we headed to campus for a 1.25 hour swim workout in one of the 6-pools followed by :45 minutes on a stationery bike. I wanted to ride longer, but we had to get to Christmas Eve mass!

While children all over the city of Columbus were playing "Guitar Hero" on their Wii's on Christmas morning, Shawn and I headed to our neighborhood park and knocked off 7.5 miles of running at an average pace of about 8:20. Man, it felt good to burn some calories before our annual Sergio Homeade Ravioli and Spaghetti Christmas dinner.

Our visit to Columbus was all too brief, but packed with so many memorable events. In between workouts, I ate more cookies and buckeyes than I care to admit. We visited Shawn's close to 90-year-old Grandma and her advice to us? "Never Grow Old." Don't worry Grandma Hilda. We won't.

Christmas Eve dinner was spent in the company of over 40 people including my brother's and their families, aunts, uncles and cousins. I literally felt the warmth of holiday love and tradition as we ate, exchanged gifts for the kids and watched the little ones play Christmas caroles on the piano and trombone (GO Caroline!) as all the adults sang along. Norman Rockwell would have a new painting if he were sitting in that room.

After our run on Christmas morning, we headed over to yet another Aunt's home and continued our homeade ravioli and spaghetti tradition that was started by Grandma and Grandpa so many years ago. Another packed house of 40-50 Italians gathered and shared stories, kisses, hugs and more food! On Christmas night, we came home and played Dominoes with Shawn, my Mom and my Brother Tommy (who thinks my blog is stupid) followed by the new DVD version of "The Price is Right!"

I wasn't ready to come home. I could get very used to sleeping in with no alarm clock to force me out of bed. I could get very used to Mommy making my breakfast every day. Alas, we left yesterday, but not before I got a 1 hour ride on my parent's old school Aerodyne Stationery Bike. It's not my Guru tri bike, but I worked up a sweat nonetheless. Besides, my heart and legs don't know the difference between Schwinn and Guru. Sweat is sweat...That's all I'm sayin'.

Our last meal before boarding the plane? A couple of Sliders at White Castle Hamburgers...a workout in and of itself. I'd like to formally apologize to those who were sitting in rows around us.

I haven't mentioned my wonderful Christmas gift because it warrants an entry unto itself. Hopefully tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dashing through the Snow...(or Wind)

I had to run 15 miles on Sunday. That's what the training schedule mandated. With the Columbus, Ohio forecast calling for falling temps throughout the day and wind gusts up to 40 mph, I was none to thrilled about the prospect. Still, armed with plenty of warm running gear and my husband, my brother and one of my best friends Karl, I knew we would get it done.

We met at my brother's house in Bexley and started our run on the newly opened portion of the wonderfully paved Three Creeks Trail. Karl was the only one who promised to "go the distance" with me. Ted and Shawn were thinking 9-10 miles at most.

After 2 hrs 17 min of running, Shawn had run farther than he had EVER run before, my brother had clocked more distance than he had in...well...a long time, and Karl chalked it up to another training run in his long career that spans of 70 marathons.

Over 14 1/2 miles at about a 9:26 overall pace. Not bad for the wind gusts and ZERO water stops we had along the route. (The trail is awesome, but they need some water fountains!)
They said I inspire them. I think it's the other way around. Either way, I was happy to have the company for the entire out and back.

We celebrated by scarfing down some Donatos Pizza and playing Wii all afternoon with my nieces, Caroline, Abbie and Claire (my fellow "team hoodie" chick).

Great start to a short trip filled with food, drink and family!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays to All!

Here's to a future full of Love and Happiness! (and training)
Happy Holidays to All!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Got a fortune cookie the other night at a Chinese Restaurant and here's what it said:

"Be content with your lot in life. You can't always be first in everything."

Screw that...I always liked Italian food better anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cramming it in before Travel

Only in Austin would it be freezing cold one day and 75 degrees the next! That is how the week before Christmas goes around here. The winter blankets of snow seem a far cry from beautiful days we've been having this week. Of course, it also serves to weaken some immune systems and I'm fighting the powerful urge to succomb. Hubby has fallen prey to the nasty cold monster, complete with coughing, sinus pressures and runny noses.

The only thing running on me this week are my heart rate and my legs! I actually hit both Gazelle running workouts this week making me feel like an official runner again. I'm trying to squeeze most of my training hours in early this week so that I can actually relax a bit in Ohio. Plus, I'm not really sure what type of access to a gym, pool or running I'll have.

Monday AM Gazelles: Spring Creek Hill repeats. We ran from Runtex to the Hill and did 5 forward repeats, 3 backwards and 3 sprints half-way up the hill. I struggled on this hill workout (duh--my legs were creaking from the day before), but got through once I decided it was ok to slow it down a tad.

Monday PM Gazelles: I hit the T3 15-min core workout at the track across the street from my house. Of course, I took some crap from Logan when I told him I was only there for core and not the running portion since I had already done Gazelles that morning. Naturally, I got the "you think your better than us" jabs. After that :15min, I came home and did :15 more minutes of core and ab exercises.

Tuesday AM T3 Swim: Hard workout this morning with a lot of long swim sets (i.e. no toys). 1 x 600 swim, 1x 400, 1x 200, 1 x 100 and then a few 50s. As I mentioned before, it feels so wonderful to finally be getting control of my swim. A few weeks ago my one length stroke count was 38. Yep, it took me 38 strokes to get from one end of the pool to the other. That's atrocious. Yesterday, I was averaging between 28-29 strokes per length. For someone my height, that's pretty good. Obviously, a 6ft tall person will take fewer strokes than this 5'1" peanut. I hit 3,000 meters for the morning and left with sense of confidence.

Tuesday PM T3 Spin: I didn't make it to the core portion on time, so it allowed me to hop on the trainer at 6pm and get a solid 1hr 30min spin workout. The coached portion was a bee-otch with a combination of 100 rpm recoveries, stand/sit combinations, big chain ring, time trials, etc. While it was incredibly difficult, I just kept thinking about focus...focus...focus...find the cadence. Work the legs. Think about pedal stroke. Anything to pass the minutes. I love the energy of these classes, but there are 3 girls that drive me crazy because they don't shut up the entire time! It's like they're purpopsely not trying to push themselves. I think it pisses me off because I can barely breath and they're discussing their Christmas list! Anyways, that's just my quick vent. I know these classes are making a huge impact.

Wednesday AM Gazelles 800m Repeats: I didn't want to go. I really wanted to do an easy run. I even emailed Amy Farley the day before and said, "You may or may not see me tomorrow" to which she promptly replied, "Suck it up and do the work. You'll thank me after Ironman." Damn you Amy Farley. Am I that transparent?? Apparently so. She convinced me to show up, slow it down a tad and pace her. Ha....I don't think these repeats were much slowed down from my usual times. I ran the 1.5 miles from home to the track and immediately started the workout with Farley who has shown up early and was a couple of repeats into her workout. Umm...I don't think these are much slower than normal!

Thank you Amy Farley. I didn't even have to wait to Ironman to say that!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Andy Williams was right when he sang, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," but he missed the hidden verse in that song that talks about the fact that you drive around in a daze because you're trying to tie up loose ends, win a Wii on e-bay, pray that your flight doesn't get bumped, hope your clients understand that you're going to be gone for five days, hungover from the weekend's Christmas parties, bloated because these many cookies and carbs should never be consumed by one individual and stressed out because in-laws are coming to visit, you have to pack winter Ohio clothes (not easy when you live in Texas) and you're supposed to knock out a 14 hour training week complete with a 65 mile bike ride.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, indeed.

Through it all, I'm loving life and looking forward to the holidays with my family and friends in Columbus. My training is going remarkably well right now and this is the exciting time that the training is paying off in a big way. Katy and I were talking about the progress we are making. Her run splits are just off the charts good right now and my swim times are making huge strides. Put it this way, a few months back, my 100m splits were avg between 2:20-2:30. Last week, I did 6 of them between 1:53-1:58. Even my Barton Springs open water swims are coming together as I'm able to relax a bit more in the water.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, indeed.

Last week, thankfully, was a "recovery" week and I took two complete days off from workouts. Of course, that made for a long weekend complete with a pseudo-Olympic Tri on Sunday morning.

Friday: I was going to do my long swim that day, but I got a tetanus shot in the morning which rendered my arm useless for a couple of days. Nothing like an injection of poison directly into the muscle to show you the meaning of pain.

Saturday: 40 mile ride on the trainer (2 hrs and 31 min of stationary cycling on my vuh-jay-jay) Some of the group decided to brave the 25-30 per hour wind gusts and ride outside. I wussed out from the get go. I felt guilty at first, but that all dissapated once the group returned after an hour because the winds were just too bad. I think my bike set-up is almost finished complete with new Durace Pedals, new cleats and a new Garmin cadence sensor. (For non-cyclists, it's just a bunch of expensive crap used to convinvce yourself that you are going faster)

Sunday: This is the day that truly proves that I am a studette! We were out late the night before and returned home from various parties around 1:00am...totally late for this couple. Well, since I hadn't done my Barton Springs Swim yet, my goal was to get up and be at the pool by 7:00am so that I could swim 2000m before my 8:30 1-hour trainer ride, which preceeded our 11-mile run. So yes, I had self-contracted to do an unofficial triathlon on Sunday on roughly five hours of sleep and poor nutrition.

Well, can I just say it was one of the best workouts I've ever done?? First of all, it was 32 degrees when I stood outside of the 68 degree water of Barton Springs on Sunday morning. The sun was just coming up and there was steam coming from the water. Truly, it was one of the most beautiful sights I've seen....almost too beautiful to get in the water! I was one of 3 people that morning who braved the freezing cold and had one of the best swims. Why? Because I didn't have a watch to get my splits. I ended up doing 5 laps for 2000m. Completely relaxed about 90% of the time. I don't know what my times were and I don't care. It felt good and I hope to replicate at least some of that for IM.

I got to the T3 Training Center around 8:15 and several of us hopped on our bikes/trainers for a 1-hour spin class. It was a nice combination of high cadence work and heavy gears. My legs were feeling sore from the previous day's 2 1/2 hour excursion, but I muddled through. After that hour was up, we laced up and began our 10 mile run (which ended up being 11 miles). My legs felt surprisingly strong considering Sunmart was just a week earlier. I am noticing some pains in my feet and lower legs that I just have to continue to monitor. I ended that run in 1 hr 31 minutes for an avg pace of 8:16. Awesome considering I really didn't overexert myself. It was a slightly uncomfortable pace, if you will.

After my pseudo-tri, I hopped in my car and went and got my nails done so that I could actually feel "girly" for a couple of hours! It was a much-needed break from the training and craziness.

This is also a nutty week filled with more running, biking, swimming and gluttony! Happy Holidays and safe travels to all this holiday season.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, indeed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sunmart 50K-Finale

Geez...this report is lasting longer than the actual race! I've been swamped at work this week and had to take a breather last night to go see Duran Duran in concert! (John Taylor is still hot)
Anyway...I digress..

As we started the second 12.5 mile loop, Amy tripped and fell. I could tell she was in pain even though she said she was doing fine. Ten minutes later, she told me to just go on. She was going to take her time and she could tell I was itchin' to pick it up a notch. After we went through the whole, "Are you sure? Are you really sure?" speech, I started to gradually pick it up. What I didn't realize was how much others seemed to be slowing down. It was incredibly warm, but my body was responding well. I kept it under control, but had definitely taken it to another level. There's another out and back area and I got another look at several of the women who were ahead of me. My friend Ashley (originally in 5th) was really fading. In fact, with about 6 miles to go, I actually caught up with her. We exchanged some words of encouragement and she gave me a huge boost. Gradually, over the course of the next few miles, I was just passing people left and right. I swear, it didn't feel like I was running any faster. Little by little, the women that were several minutes ahead of me were now behind me. For some reason, I had targeted this one woman who had an Ironman visor and six-pack abs. She became my rabbit. You can imagine my inner shouts of "Yes!!!" when I saw her up ahead with three miles to go. I felt like a freaking rock star when I passed her and "green shirt" girl. At one point, I was running in a small pack of men and one of their watches beeped. "We just hit mile 29," said the dude. That's when it hit me. I had NEVER run this far before in my life. I was entering mile 30 of my first ultra-marathon. Wow...I totally got goosebumps (probably because I was also slightly dehydrated). I passed those guys and a few others before I headed towards the finish line. I felt GREAT when I crossed, mainly because I had finished strong.

Immediately, I saw Chad (who had dropped out after 18 miles). He said, "I think you came in the Top 10. In fact, I know you did!"

"There's No Way," I said. "No freakin' way."

After hugs and hi-fives from Shawn, Perry and others, we waited for Amy to cross the line about 25 minutes later. Ashley had come in about 15 minutes after me and after Amy crossed, we went to look at the results. Lo and behold, I was 8th female and 2nd in my age group. Amy was 4th and Ashley was 2nd in her age group! We all kicked serious butt and walked away with a very unique bronze horse statue! The only thing that made it better was more food! Of course, Sunmart had a wonderful BBQ working after the race...chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, chopped beef, veggie burgers, mac and cheese, egg rolls, cheese sticks, cole slaw, potatoes...The food onslaught just didn't seem to end with this event.

After some serious grub and a quick shower in one of the primitive camping showers, we headed back towards Austin and actually rallied to go see Big Head Todd and the Monsters on Saturday night! (Katie Holmes has nothing on me) :-)

I can't say it enough, this event is a must-do. In fact, Trail Racing in general is a blast and I can't wait to do more of it. The atmosphere is just so different. People aren't intense and the surroundings are so beautiful. I've already vowed to do it again next year! Now, I just have to convince others to head back with me!

Here are my splits. They're another good example of negative splits and just being patient at the beginning of the race.
Mile 1 9:42
Mile 2 11:11
Mile 3 9:56
Mile 4 10:03
Mile 5 10:03
Mile 6 9:26
Mile 7 9:35
Mile 8 10:04
Mile 9 11:21
Mile 10 9:10
Mile 11 9:04
Mile 12 9:43
Mile 13 9:50
Mile 14 9:36
Mile 15 9:40
Mile 16 9:38
Mile 17 10:15
Mile 18 9:53
Mile 19 9:58
Mile 20 9:08
Mile 21 9:02
Mile 22 9:14
Mile 23 8:35
Mile 24 8:36
Mile 25 8:17
Mile 26 8:55
Mile 27 8:43
Mile 28 8:17
Mile 29 8:51
Mile 30 8:38
Mile 31 8:49
Mile 32 7:34 (.28 miles)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunmart 50K Race Report

This Trail Race was unlike any other "marathon" I've ever attended. People weren't doing any stretches or warm-ups. There wasn't a nervous energy in the air. No one was wearing pace bands around their wrists. There were no outrageous lines at the port-a-potties. The only outrageous line was at the breakfast buffet where they were serving eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy (I'm not kidding), french toast sticks, kolaches, juice and more. Even Denny's thinks it was a little crazy! You couldn't help but laugh as people loaded up on food items that surely couldn't sit well for 50k or 50 miles. What do I know?! I had already consumed my usual pre-race banana and bagel/peanut butter combination. However, the buffet was just too good to pass up so I also grabbed a biscuit with some jelly and a kolache (glorified pig in a blanket for my Midwestern peeps), along with some potent-ass Gatorade.

The 50-Milers started at 7:00am which gave the rest of us 30 minutes to mosey around the start/finish area, visit with friends and stand in awe of the wonders of this Trail Run. Here's when a little nervous energy kicked in (thank god there were no porta-potty lines). I couldn't help but look around and size up the competition a little, but my goal was still to start slow and keep it safe and steady the entire time. Amy and I had previously discussed our plan to stay together as long as possible. We would hover around the 10min/mile mark for the first 20 miles and then take it from there. Of course, as most runner creeds go, if I was feeling good, I would go with it. If she was feeling good, she would go with it.

It was warm and humid...starting temp was already near 70 degrees. It was overcast, but incredibly thick with humidity. Hydration would be vital the entire day. Lots of experienced trail runners carry their own nutrition and water. Not this rookie. I was in it for the food and drink and didn't want to be bogged down by unnecessary equipment. People of all shapes and sizes meandered to the start line about 5 minutes before the gun time. Again, no pressure to corral early or properly seed yourself. It was a race atmosphere and culture that I could definitely get used to.


Let me quickly outline the course.

3.07 mile out/back single track followed by two 12.5 mile loops.

The out/back was crowded and once we left the pavement for the trail, it was hard to really move up in the formation. It didn't take long for the leaders to come screaming down the trail presenting a constant barrage of "runners up." In between, Amy and I were able to "surge and merge" as I called it. We would speed up temporarily in order to get in front of some people and then we would merge right back in formation. It was mentally tough to start this slow... slower than we had originally planned with 10:20 miles. Unfortunately, we were also seeded by annoying running veteran named "Larry" who kept giving us his unwelcome words of wisdom. "Don't start too fast ladies," "Here come the rabbits again," "Are you trying to place?" His constant comments were starting to get annoying and my only goal became burying this dude in our dust (which we promptly did).

The scenery and surroundings were beautiful and the trail was soft with plenty of leaves and pine needles under our feet. Of course, those things also served as disguises for the tree roots and stumps that were invisible and buried beneath. I was doing great at avoiding them, but did slightly turn an ankle or two in the early portions of the race. During the out and back portion, we saw our friend Ashley who was currently in 5th place of the female division. She had a smile on her face and was looking strong. I couldn't tell where we were in the scheme of the pack...probably 1/3 back. I started counting females, but promptly shut my mind down and stopped. Not today, Carrie...

The water stops were exactly what I had heard--gluttonous. PBJ, oreos, jelly beans, bananas, melons, apples, chips, doritos, boiled potatoes with salt, power bars, etc. Your mind really wants to indulge, but the body was afraid to. We stopped and pee'd at Rest Stop #2, while fueling ourselves on a couple of gum drops and hydration.

Once we ended the out/back portion we saw hubby cheering for us, which totally made my morning. He has been the biggest supporter amidst all of my self-indulgent athletic pursuits. Amy and I were feeling great as we entered the first 12.5 mile loop. The trail opened up a bit and was no longer a single track. It was more jeep road in spots with some well marked trails. Passing people got easier. All the while, we hovered in that 9:53-10:00 per mile pace. We' d pick it up for a bit, but were always smart to reign it back. Plus, we took our time at each and every rest stop to make sure we were drinking enough water and gatorade.

Through these first several miles, Amy and I were able to converse with little difficulty. Most of the conversation centered around our gratiude for our surroundings, health and ability to do something like this--that we never thought we could or would do. The miles passed with relative ease and so did the people. Little by little, we were just picking off runners. There was no blast from us. We were steady. It appears that these were people that went out aggressively and were now fading. Even the leaders were starting to fade as we saw them pass on the loop. It was only then that I started thinking, "maybe we can place today." I started to notice other women who were ahead of me and trying to calculate how far ahead they were...20 min? 30 min?

I was about to find out...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pre-Race Report: Race Preparation

The title of this blog entry is a little misleading, because there really was no official race preparation. Well...none that I would ever really recommend to others. As I've written several times, this was simply an event to enjoy, to savor and to cap off what has been an incredible year of competing.

There was no taper. In fact, it was actually a 16-hour IM training week. There was no official carb-loading or pre-hydrating ritual. There were no nerves, no sleepless nights. I ate normally all week long and enjoyed my usual glass of wine or two each night. A week prior, we had hosted a Holiday party at our house and that set the tone for an incredibly busy week.

Amy, Shawn and I left Austin for Houston around Noon on Friday and took our sweet old time getting there. We stopped in Brenham and had lunch at an Italian Restaurant called "Volare." Italian food shouldn't be consumed without wine so all three of us enjoyed a glass of wine with lunch and then topped it off by sharing a piece of chocolate cake and some Blue Bell ice cream (made in Brenham). Like I said, we weren't really in "race mode." I was more like "vacation mode."

The Race Expo was at the Sheraton in Houston (where we stayed) and it was everything I'd always heard. We waited in line for a virtual "trick or treat" of race swag: nice canvas running bags, race hat, technical race shirt, golf shirt, stuffed animals, notebook, rain ponchos, etc. I felt like a kid in a candy store and was just so excited to FINALLY be here! I guess I should've read the race literature, but they also had a gi-normous pasta buffet for all of the runners...Again, I hadn't done much preparation. We weren't really hungry yet, and we had already decided on our own pre-race food: SUSHI! (I was very tempted, however, to eat some raviolis and apple cobbler that were spread out right by packet pick up. Fortunately, I abstained)

I know, I know...every time I tell people that I like to eat sushi before a race, I get some pretty weird looks and comments when in actuality, it's a great mixture of protein and carbs. Amy's husband and kids were an hour or so behind us so we all crawled up towards the Woodlands and had a great sushi dinner. I had a glass of wine and Amy had, well, a few....I also enjoyed some rich and unbelievably tasty rolls.

While I still wasn't feeling nervous, I was feeling full, bloated and tired. We made it back to the hotel and I was in bed with my clothes laid out by 9:45pm. Shawn and Amy's husband proceeded downstairs to the hotel bar for some of their own "race preparation."

So, here I was on the eve of the longest race of my life and I was feeling completely relaxed...no expectations, no time goals and no real clue of what to expect from the course or my body.

Let the fun begin.

I am an Ultra-Marathoner Baby!

The Sunmart 50K is everything it's built up to be

Time: 4 hrs 55 min (and some change)

Overall Place: 28th out of 520 runners
Female Place: 8th overall Female

30-34 Year Old Age Group: 2nd place out of 20!

I came home with the most unusual race trophy ever--a horse statue. Gotta love those Texas Trail Races. I placed at Sunmart!!!! I placed at Sunmart!!!! I placed at Sunmart!!!!!

More to come...off to sleep!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sunmart 50K-Conquering the Unknown

I have to admit, I have no idea what I've gotten myself into. Six months ago, running a 50k Trail Run (31 miles) sounded like a splendid idea. This race comes highly recommended by people who have done it in the past and I've always had this event on my "race checklist." The only problem is that I haven't really trained for the "trail" portion of the event and I'm entering this race with absolutely zero tapering...thanks to my pesky little friend called "Ironman Training." When I signed up for Sunmart, I didn't know I was going to be doing IM Arizona in April. Yes, could probably have taken it easier this week, but I'm learning that IM Training is a train and if you miss the first couple of stops, it's hard to catch up.

This week, I've run twice (easy 5 miles both times), gone to two 1.5 hour spin classes, 2 core workouts and 2 swim classes. Before we leave for God-forsaken Huntsville, Texas today, I'm going to go to Barton Springs for my one mile swim. You can obviously tell my head is on "Ironman" training and not a large Trail Race. I've even scheduled an easy 1-hour bike ride on Sunday for recovery. Yes, a bike ride is now considered recovery and not lying on my ass.

The weather is also posing a threat at the moment. LOW of 66, HIGH near 80! Yikes...Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.

Send some positive vibes towards East Texas tomorrow as I cross another milestone off my list and grow a little tougher with every step. I'm definitely NOT racing this one so I'll be happy with 5+ hours.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My New Career-Race Emcee

TriBoomer asked to see some proof that I did, in fact, do some pre-run stretching with the crowd before the Turkey Trot! Ask and ye shall receive:

Behold my big debut as "Turkey Trot Fitness Guru!"

You can see I'm flanked by turkeys--freakin' story of my life!!

My Christmas Gift this Year

Best Gift of the Year:
"Surround yourself with people who believe in YOUR dreams!"
(Because really, aren't your dreams the only ones that matter??) :-)
other inspirational musings and pics at: www.studiokimsmith.com

Monday, December 03, 2007

Funniest Race Rule Ever

I was reading through my Sunmart 50K Race Packet this weekend and noticed the following rule:

"Smoking is permitted at the Start/Finish areas as well as the Rest Areas."

Oh thank God! I can have a smoke during the race!!! Now I know I'll finish! ;-)

What a great weekend!!!!

1.) I accomplished my workouts even though I improvised a bit. My 70-mile bike ride turned into 30 minutes outside followed by 2 1/2 hrs on an indoor trainer. It's a long story, but thanks to Shawn, I was able to improvise and still get my workout completed.

2.) We had an awesome holiday party on Saturday night and followed by a great 10 mile run on Sunday. OK--it wasn't great, but we did it.

3.) Ohio State has backed themselves into the National Championship Football Game! Go Bucks!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bringing the Energy Back Up

I definitely think the "strain in my swagger" was a result of some allergies in the air. Plus, it was the fourth week in a row that I've increased training hours --up to 16 hours this week. All of that, combined with the cold/rainy snap provided the "perfect storm" for severe fatigue.

Thursday, however, was a great training day which reinstated the daily affirmation that I needed to get through the next few days.

Thursday AM Swim Class: Oh-My-God. I am getting so much better! I jumped in lane 2 even though there was a nice, clear, empty lane in Lane 1 that was calling my name. I'll call that, "The Ghost of Carrie's Swimming Past." Oh, it was calling to me alright, but instead of taking the easy way out, I chose the more difficult lane with others. There's always that added pressure of knowing that someone is right on your ass. Well, the resistance band work and Vasa Swim Training is starting to pay off because I was able to keep up the entire workout with the "faster girls." I held my own throughout the warm-ups and the 3 x 400 swim sets with speed-play built in. I actually led our lanes on the paddle work and have earned the nickname "Paddle Master" because I was so far ahead at one point. I actually believe I'm getting better now because the progress is showing in my effort levels.

Thursday PM Bike Ride: Because of an evening commitment and because it was sunny and 65 degrees, I decided to do my 1 hr bike ride outside yesterday. My plan was to do a couple of 8 mile South Mopac loops. Unfortunately, as I pulled my bike out of the car, I realized that I had forgotten my helmet! Poopers!!! I was in a slight quandry as I didn't have time to go home to get the helmet and ride, but I didn't want to ride without a helmet on South Mopac. Against my better judgement, I kept my ride strictly on the Veloway, which is a closed 3 mile paved loop only accessible to bikes and rollerbladers. Yes, it was boring as hell doing 6 x 3 mile loops, but I decided to make it a slight tempo workout as well. Plus, the monotony is good for patience and mental training because I have no doubt that 7 hours on a bike will also include many moments of sheer boredom and monotony. With each loop, I tried to focus on something different--pedal stroke, aero position, saddle placement, etc.

Lap 1: 11:03 16.4mph warm up
Lap 2: 9:52 18.3mph tempo
Lap 3: 10:37 17 mph recovery
Lap 4: 9: 27 19.1 mph tempo
Lap 5: 11:03 16.4 mph recovery
Lap 6: 10:40 16.9 mph cool-down

Total: 1:02: 54 17.2 mph
My goal is to eventually get the total riding time down below 1:00hr.

After the ride, I slipped on my running shoes and just went :15 minutes of easy running.

Friday AM Core/Strength and 1200m Barton Springs Swim:
Went to the T3 Strenth/Core class this morning for an hour of abs, arms and other core strengthening training. It's definitely not as intense as the Jack and Adam's Corture, but I was definitely feeling some of the exercises. After that hour-long workout, several of us headed over to Barton Springs Pool for our 1200 m open water swim.
For the first time, ALL of my laps were between 8:40-8:55 minutes. Very VERY happy to see that!

Going into the weekend feeling good, but there's still a long way to go!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Allergies, I Hope!

This time of year in Austin, there's always the longstanding debate of, "Am I getting sick or is it just allergies?" The recent cold snap combined with high counts of mold and cedar make it difficult to really tell. Either way, I've been battling some fatigue this week and trying to give myself some much-needed rest going into the Sunmart 50K (next Saturday, December 8th). For heaven's sakes, I owe myself a taper for this one, as evidenced by my recent struggles with running and recovery...not to mention the fact that we're talking about 31 miles of trail running here. I can't go out and "wing it" as I've been known to do.

On Sunday, Amy and I ran 16 miles in the cold and on/off spattering of rain pellets. At one point I even commented as we were standing at a rain-soaked crosswalk, "We're officially f*cking crazy now." You could see it in the faces of the warm dry people who were peering at us from their car windows. Yep, we were the weird ones.

What I'm having trouble shaking is the whole body fatigue this week. Higher than usual heart rates, not sleeping well, not feeling rested in the morning, weird overwhelming exhaustion at about 2pm every day, stuffy nose, scratchy throat, etc. It hasn't knocked me out, but it's definitely keeping me down. My energy level at the end of the day is nil..zilch...zero. This is kinda embarrassing, but on Tuesday afternoon, instead of going home after work, I went to the T3 Training Center before spin class and just napped in my car for about 45 minutes. I knew if I went home, I'd never come back, but I was just so damn tired before the workout. It doesn't help that it's been in the mid 30s in the morning and I'm still hitting my outdoor pool workouts. Wet hair, cold air, cold feet, cold hands = potential sickness.

On Wednesday, I got up at 5:15am ready to go to Gazelles and run 800s on the track. I even turned on the lights and started to put my clothes on when I realized just how tired I still felt. I had gone to bed at my usual 10:30ish time, but I felt like I had just laid down. In fact, I did just that. I crawled right back into bed and skipped my speed workout for the week that I was looking forward to the day before. I did finally get back up after 7am and run/jog 8 miles. Again, it was a tough run for what should've been a breeze. My breathing was labored (ok--I did do Pecos, Mt. Bonnell and Scenic), but I just had no pep in the step whatsoever. I even contemplated walking the last half mile because I was just plain worn out.

So, I spent yesterday downing tea, Emergen-C and Zicam to ward off any demons that might be lurking. I feel much better today, minus a little sinus pressure that can either be traced to swimming or allergies. Who knows?! All I know is that I've got a big weekend of training scheduled including 60 miles in the saddle, an open water swim and a 13 mile run. (not to mention a big party to prepare for on Saturday night!)

All in all, it's 16 hours of mental and physical training including 3 swims, 3 bikes, 4 runs and 2 core workouts.

I'm going with allergies...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Character vs. Accomplishments

Last month, we celebrated hubby's birthday by going to a wine bar (shocking, I know) and having a private tasting for about 20 or so people. Well, at Cork and Co., they have those "life questions" lying around on the tables that are meant to stir up interesting table conversations, and, I suspect, arguments as well.

By the end of the night, the wine had flowed quite nicely and the nipple clips had been passed around (don't ask) when the line of questioning started. Hubby's Mom asked me one of the questions and, by this point, there was an audience listening. And for those of you that don't know me, I love an audience.

"Are you more proud of your accomplishments or your character?"

Trick question! Damn it... That's a toughie from my Mom-In-law! There's no easy way to answer this one! After stumbling and hearing more than enough, "oooh...good one," I think my answer went something like this:

"I'm very proud of my accomplishments. Hell, I blog about them for the world to see! Of course, I'm proud of them. But, I suppose the right thing to say is that I'm most proud of my character--determination, strong work ethic, dedication, good sense of humor-blah, blah, blah... Because having a strong character has led to my accomplishments."

So there, I wussed out. I played it safe and gave the "right" answer so that people wouldn't think I was shallow. What I really wanted to say was, "Why should I be most proud of my character? When did having a good character become such an "accomplishment?" Shouldn't good character just be a given?

So, I'm officially taking back my previous answer.

I'm most proud of my accomplishments in life that have come as a result of the character that my parents bestowed on me.

So there.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Lot to be Thankful for..

A year ago, if you would've told me that sushi and crab legs would ever be on the same buffet line as turkey and stuffing, I would've laughed in your face. However, the Four Seasons Thanksgiving Brunch proved me wrong and had the above combinations, plus soups, salads, potatoes, seafood and other enticing traditional AND non-traditional dishes!  I certainly hope everyone stuffed themselves as much as I did (thereby alleviating some guilt that accompanied my post meal coma).
I've really pushed and tested myself physically this week and really felt the strain of a lot of hard workouts back to back. A quick recap:

Monday 11/19:  17 mile grueling trail run at Bastrop State Park

Tuesday 11/20:  Swim Class AM/ Core :30/Trainer Spin Class PM (all coached by T3)
My legs and glutes were pretty sore from the run the day before so all of these workouts were incredibly challenging and I really felt like I was pushing myself harder than I should have. During one moment during the spin class, a girl got off her bike to take a break and I remember feeling so jealous! I met Shawn for sushi afterwards and my hair was literally drenched. I would've taken a shower, but I was running late. Ironically, he thought I DID take a shower, but didn't dry my hair.

Wednesday 11/21: Here's the workout I regret. Skud and I went to Gazelles for 400m repeats on the track. My body was beat up and incredibly tight from the previous days training. From the get go, my heart rate was elevated, which is one sign of fatigue and over-training.  Our times were nothing I haven't nailed before with a little less effort.  (1:34-1:36 range) The goal was 20 repeats with 1:00 rest in between. We got to 10 and I just had to call it a day. There is absolutely no way I had 10 more repeats in my legs. No way sirreee... pretty demoralizing since it's not supposed to be the kind of workout to wipe you out completely.  In hindsight, I should've just made it a recovery run day, but I'm bound and determined to get to Gazelles at least once a week.

Thursday, 11/22: Turkey Trot!!  Wow...what a difference a year makes. The weather was cold and windy this year, but the crowds were as excited as ever about this annual tradition.  I did spend about 10 minutes leading stretches and marches with the crowd, but as always, only about the first two rows of people were even paying attention. I felt like a flight attendant giving the old seat belt/passenger safety lecture! It was fun just being a part of the crowd for the first time in several years. I didn't have to worry about the weather, the port-a-potties, not having enough tshirts and the huge accident on I-35 that kept several hundred people from making it to the race.
I treated this day as another long training run of 11 miles, so I ran from home down to the start line, for 3 miles of warm up on this cool day. Then, I ran the race for fun without a timing chip (this event gives you a choice of being timed or untimed) and finished the day with the 3 mile cool-down back to the house. While I wasn't out to race or win, I was pleased with how I paced the race:
Mile 1: 8:44
Mile 2: 7:39
Mile 3: 7:27
Mile 4: 7:11
Mile 5: 7:04
I definitely could've gone faster from the get-go, but my body was sending signals that were loud and clear.  Of course, the 11 mile run made the Thanksgiving Day feast a little more bearable.

Friday, 11/23: Ahhh...sleeping in. What a concept. It felt great letting my body just rest for however long it wanted to. However, because of the rainy and cold weather forecast this weekend, I committed to doing my long ride on Friday with Katy. I can't deny that I had NO DESIRE to do this ride. It meant wearing tights, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, gloves and ear warmers in the cold and wind. We had several "What the hell are we doing" moments and the weather wasn't even that bad. Yes, it was cold and yes, it was windy, but it wasn't horrendous. My performance, however, was.  The lack of energy finally caught up with my legs and I struggled through most of the ride. Fortunately for me, a couple of the other riders were also riding my pace so I didn't totally feel like I was holding the group back. However, the other 3 cut their ride off at 30 miles, which meant Katy and I still had 20 more to go...ugh...I know if she would've said, "let's quit," I would've totally said, "OK." However, we're both in this Ironman Training Hell together and we've vowed to support each other through the ups and downs. She wasn't quitting so neither was I. It was rough, but we finished and hi-fived each other for our efforts.  I could barely move after the ride mostly because my toes and feet were numb from the cold. Mental note: buy shoe covers for my cleats. It's going to be a long winter.

Saturday, 11/24: My plan was to go to T3 Swim class, but it was pouring down rain when my alarm sounded at 6:15am. I was set to go to the gym instead, but the rain subsided slightly so I decided to go to workout. Not surprisingly, I was one of only about 6 people who showed up. Too bad it doesn't count for any extra credit!  We got about 45 minutes of swimming in when Chrissie pulled us because of lightening. I took that as a sign from above to give it a break today.

I'm planning a longer run on Sunday again with Amy so we'll see how the weather holds up for us. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fitness Revolutionaries

Our generation has had a plethora of fitness revolutionaries who encouraged us to:

"Get Physical"

"Get Buns of Steel"

and even get "Sweatin' to the Oldies."

Now... I introduce you to the the latest fitness revolutionary who will encourage you to
"Shake a Leg!!"

Yep, yours truly will be warming up the crowd of 10,000+ runners at the Annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot tomorrow in Austin. I'll be leading everyone in some light stretches just prior to the start, so get there early! Also, stay warm because it's supposed to be coooolllllllddddd! (Well, like 40 degrees, but that's Austin cold!)

Happy Thanksgiving to All and let the new fitness Revolution Begin!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trail Running is Hard

Let me just say that a 17 mile trail run is NOT the same as a 17 mile road run. I knew it was a little more challenging, but...WOW.

I headed out to Bastrop State Park with Skud and three other people who are also doing Sunmart. She and I are the certified "Sunmart Virgins" and profess to only be doing this race because they have great cookies! Neither one of us really do any real trail running on a regular basis, which became very obvious when we tried to compare ourselves and hang with these hardcore trail runners. Did I mention that one of the people was 3rd overall female last year?

The trail is an 8.5 mile loop with hill climbs and a challenging mixture of rocks, tree roots and gorgeous pine trees in every direction. It's impossible to deny the utter beauty of being on this trail. From the first loop, Amy and I fell slightly behind and were definitely content bringing up the rear. I was trying to be aggressive and hang with the others at first, but after three miles, I knew it wouldn't last if I actually wanted to complete two loops. My legs were pretty sore from my bike ride on Sunday so I was definitely using mind over matter to ignore the "lead legs." By mile five, I was starting to feel pretty weak and slightly dehydrated. I didn't carry any water or nutrition with me, knowing that we were taking a break after the first loop. I should've known that 8.5 miles is a long way to go with no water! I couldn't wait to be finished with that first loop knowing that Gatorade, Gu and 1/2 a turkey sandwich were waiting for me. I was relieved to hear that we were all feeling a little "challenged" by this run.

The second loop started well and it was great to get a lift and nutrition boost. The other three had started and were out of sight at this point. Amy and I hung close together to make sure that neither of us wandered off trail. We did ok, except for one brief moment where we lost our way. I'm sure we looked silly, but we eventually found the right path again and managed to forge ahead. Once again, the four mile point proved to be the start of the energy depletion. Amy was really struggling so I continued to hang back to make sure were were always in sight of each other. Instead of thinking about the pain and exhaustion, I began a mantra of, "Thank You Legs" over and over again. It really lifted me through a couple of hill climbs.

By the last two miles, I was really in need of some water again and couldn't wait to finish. I was finishing strong, but definitely a little humbled by the entire experience. I gotta admit, I'm very nervous now about Sunmart knowing that I struggled through 17 miles. Um hello...the race is 32 miles. Big difference...

A couple of lessons from today's run:

1.) Taper before the race and don't run on tired legs
2.) Eat more before the run begins
3.) Take advantage of every rest stop--eat and drink generously
4.) Wear thick socks to avoid blistering
5.) Never go 8.5 miles without water!
6.) Remember that you are human

Wow...if the trail is, in fact, 8.5 miles like it says--here were my splits for the two loops:

Loop 1: 8:49 pace 1hr 15 min
Loop 2: 9:10 pace 1hr 18 min

Not bad at all!!


I juggled a bunch of workouts this weekend because my priority was watching the Ohio State vs. Michigan game on Saturday morning! I know, I know...football is not life, but when you're originally from Columbus, Ohio...IT IS. (especially when you're playing that crappy team up North). I just couldn't bear the thought of being on my bike during the game. Fortunately, Ohio State won capping off a busy weekend that also included 3 different birthday parties and an audition.

Here's how it broke down:

Friday: 14 Mile Run, 8:54 overall pace
Saturday: T3 Swim Class at 7:00am (before football)
Sunday: 50 Mile Bike ride with Shawn. Thank Goodness he was up for it because I didn't want to do it by myself!!

This Monday morning, I'm heading off to Bastrop State Park for a morning 16-Mile Trail Run in preparation for the Sunmart 50k.

The best news? This week is the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot and, for the first time in four years, I'm NOT directing it!!! I can't tell you what a relief that has been this year.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Must Race!

This is just too cool! If you are in Austin the day after Christmas, you must run this 5k.
If you've ever run a race in Austin (or Dallas, Houston, etc), chances are you've been timed by local chip-timing company called Run Far. I'm convinced chip timing is the best invention ever! (aside from Kashi, Guru bikes and my swim parka) My friend Raul started this company a few years back with basically one timing mat, some timing chips and a desk in the corner of Runtex. Now, he's sporting an entire fleet of trucks, crews, timing machines, computers, office space and one hell of a fiance!
Raul and Tracy are getting married this December and you would think the LAST thing on their minds would be producing a damn race! They have worked literally hundred (thousands) of races supporting every cause and disease known to humans. Instead of taking a few days off before their nuptials to chill out and decompress, they're putting on their own sanctioned race for a cause that is very close to their heart.
The sole purpose of the KIMbia Foundation is to use its position in the world of athletics to support education in Kenya. Due to the high cost of education - roughly US$500 per year in school fees and related costs - many children are unable to attend high school. With this race, Raul and Tracy hope to raise enough profit to send at least two students to high school for a year.
So please, if you're in the Austin area on December 26th, please come out and support this great 5k. It's only $10 and you get a cool race t-shirt! Plus, I've never done a Run-Far produced event where there hasn't been food or beer afterwards :-) If you're not in town, you can certainly still donate.

This is just one more reason why the Austin running community is so wonderful and generous. For event details and registration, click on the logo above. I'll also be including it in my sidebar!!

(P.S. And the guys who did the on-line registration aren't so bad either) ;-)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tempo Run Benchmark

Hell--to the--yes!!

Gazelle Workout: 4 Mile Temp run

It's been months...My goal? A sub 28:00

I thought it was a bad sign that I was feeling slightly woozy and dehydrated just doing the 2 mile warm up and drills. I haven't been diligent at all about my hydration the last few days and they've been doozies...the 50 mile bike ride on Saturday, the 20 mile run on Sunday, the 5 mile run/core class on Monday, hour swim and hour spin class on Tuesday...I should be drinking water like a horse at a troth, but instead I've been more "camel-esque." (That is so NOT a word.)

Gilbert was so excited about today, which only serves to make people even more nervous about the tempo run. In no time at all, we were off to the races. Fortunately, the sun was coming up, making the trail more visible than it usually is during the tempo runs. Dan and another dude immediately shot out first, followed by myself, Phil, Alicia and none other than Mr. Over-Achiever Topper Balls of Steel Runner Guy. (see post from a few days ago) Actually, the guy's name is Larry and he's an amazing runner! My whole post about him was a complete joke and meant to be in good taste so I hope he doesn't get offended if he ever reads it and says, "Wait--that's me!" I just thought it was funny that the guy I wrote about last week was now my rabbit for the tempo.

I confided to Rachel that I really wanted to "negative split" this run today. Usually, I end up going out too fast and just hanging on for dear life. Needless to say, I was a little nervous when my watch beeped at Mile 1 and we were running a 7:02. Honestly, that effort didn't feel so horrible, but I wasn't sure what the next three miles would be like, especially since I was running on some tired legs.

The crowds started breaking up at the turnaround point and the lead group started to separate. I was still neck and neck with Larry and continued to try to use him as my pacer. Mile 2: 7:04 Still a great pace, but now I was in the hole for trying to go sub 7:00s.

Larry and the two guys up front were quickly running out of my reach and I could hear Alicia's feet right behind me, which motivated me to not slow down even though I really wanted to. Of course, the trail was also pretty crowded at this point (about 7am) and I actually heard two walkers say, "Now, that's hauling it" as our Gazelle stampede came trampling by. I also saw Gazelle Alex who shouted some words of encouragement. The watched beeped for Mile 3: 6:59

Damn, was hoping it was faster. OK--time to drop the bomb. My heart rate was up there and I know my breathing was akin to a freight train--with asthma. I know the tempo runs really aren't supposed to be this brutal, but it's fun to push it with all of your might every now and again. I can say that since my heart rate is now back to normal. One last little hill and then I rounded the corner by the Stevie Ray Vaughn Statue...This is the last little stretch to kick it. I saw the three finishers up ahead bending over and catching their breath and couldn't wait to be one of them! I crossed the line and hit my watch. Mile 4: 6:37


Total time : 27:42

A new and very unexpected personal best for me. Hopefully, that means I could've done even better on some fresh legs. Unfortunately, I won't know what that feels like for a long, long time!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And we're moving on up!!!

Fish don't fry in the kitchen;

Beans don't burn on the grill.

Took a whole lotta tryin' Just to get up that hill.

Now we're up in the big leagues

Gettin' our turn at bat.

As long as we live, it's you and me baby

There ain't nothin wrong with that.

I was in lane 2 today for swim class and didn't fall too far behind!! I made it to freaking lane 2 and actually swam a couple of 2:05 100s!! Seriously, my average has been 2:15-2:20s.
And I'm moving on up!!
Yay for the inch by inch progress!
2800m of sheer joy (and pain, thanks to last night's corture class at Jack and Adams!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

So, any big plans for the weekend?

That was the question from one of my young co-workers as we left a meeting on Friday. She knows I'm a runner/triathlete, but she's also like most average people when you tell them you're running a marathon and they ask, "How long is that one?" She also likes to call me Grandma. Yes, this broad has the nerve to call my 34-year-old ass Grandma. (She's a whopping 26)

As we're in my car, that she made very clear smelled like a locker room, she asked me if I had any BIG plans for the weekend. (I suspect she was wondering if I was going to go out and get hammered)

"Yes," I said, "But I guarantee that my big plans have little interest to you."

"Oh Yeah? What are you doing?"

"Well, I'm doing a 50-Mile Bike Ride on Saturday and a 20-Mile Run on Sunday. In between, I'll watch some football and go to a dinner party on Saturday night."

"You are not going to do those distances. You're Lying!! Shut up!! Have you ever biked 50 miles before?"


"And you've run 20 miles before?"

"Remember that Marathon in Columbus I ran a couple of weeks ago? That was 26.2 miles. So, yeah, I can run 20 miles."

"Wow...You're crazy."

"And I love it. Now you know why this Grandma's car smells like a locker room."


So, that's what my weekend looked like.

On Friday morning, I went to the T3 Strength and Conditioning class and followed that up with a 1200 meter swim at Barton Springs. Gotta love that open water practice. Unfortunately, my arms were still so damn sore from the Vasa Trainer that it wasn't a very smooth swim.

Saturday AM: Shawn, Katy and I met for the T3 50-Mile group bike ride. We did the Bee Caves Loop followed by 2 South Mopac Loops for a little over 3 hours of cycling. It certainly was our first taste of some serious wind gusts which slowed us down and tested our mental reserve. We also hit a patch of rain on 71, which also slowed us down for a bit. My glutes were sooooo sore from the T3 workout from the day before so I was really struggling up some of the final hills. Fortunately, the conversation was good (and deep), which made the last 16 miles cruise by quickly. While I know we can go faster, it was good to just hang in the saddle for a while.

Sunday AM: Today was an interesting day. I really wanted to get 20 miles today in preparation for my Sunmart 50K which is looming in 4-weeks. I had also signed up for the "Run For the Water 10 miler" benefiting the Gazelle Foundation. So, with special thanks to Thon, I concocted a scheme to run about 10 miles before the 7am race start. I ended up running a little late, parked at the finish line and ran from there to Thon's apartment for about 2.5 miles. We started our "warm up" run and in between port-a-pottie stops, water breaks and saying "hi" to people, we got an additional 5 miles down. So, as the race start gun was firing, I was beginning phase two of my training run with 7.5 miles already under my feet. My goal was to just take it nice and easy, especially through the hilly portion. I've got two goals right now: run a smart 50K and race a strong Ironman. Everything else is secondary to me. EVERYTHING, including speed. It's very hard to contain the urge to try to "race," especially when I know that I have it in me. I just can't risk injury or burnout right now. It also takes a humble ego to be able to slow it down and keep the lid on the effort. That's tough for me, especially when I see other age groupers that motivate me to run fast (i.e. people I like to try to beat). Plus, I just like to challenge myself, but this is not the time for that. Anyways, Thon helped me simmer through the first few miles. My legs were feeling beat up from yesterday's bike ride and I could definitely feel the early pre-race miles that I had already laid down. Mile 3 went right by our house and sweet hubby was right there ready to jump in and run with us for a bit. Even he made a joke about "how far back we were." Well, his fresh legs served as a motivator because we started picking it up through the Pecos and Scenic hills. I was really proud of Shawn because hills are not his thing, but he was hammering right up them, definitely a confidence booster for his training. We broke away at the corner of Exposition and Lake Austin so with one final kiss goodbye, I was on my way for the last few miles. I decided to "drop the bomb" or let's just say, "Light a Match." It wasn't blazing, but my last three miles hovered around 7:30s. I was still very cognisant of the fact that I had 2.5 more miles to run AFTER I crossed the finish line, but I was feeling damn good for someone who had a couple days worth of mileage on their toes.

My chip time for the 10-miler was 1:24:25 for an overall pace of 8:26
The first 5 miles averaged 8:56 per mile and the second 5 miles averaged 7:57 per mile.
Nice negative split.

I waited for Thon at the Finish knowing he was only a minute or two back, but never saw him. I was being chatty with Frank, Rachel and other Gazelles who raced and volunteered for this awesome race. Our plan was to run back to his apartment and then I would either run back to my car or he would drive me. Unfortunately, our lines crossed and after about 15 minutes, I knew I had to get moving before the muscle atrophe kicked in. So, this is the funny part that I have to download here on the blog. I just basically started doing random loops around the downtown area like I was in some cycling criterium. Down 6th Street to Whole Foods, back to Republic Square Park and down to Congress Avenue where the Veterans Day parade was beginning. Run down to 1st Street and loop back up. GO back down to Whole Foods and run around the block where my car was parked. I felt like a little video game avatar bouncing around just looking to get those extra 2.5 miles without venturing too far. Of course, I was getting funny remarks from other runners. "The race is over girlfriend. You can stop!" "You're not supposed to have this much energy," "The race is THAT way. You're going the wrong way!" I actually was one of those people I hate who keep running after the race is complete. Well...after a silly nonsensical route, my Garmin finally beeped at 20 miles for a spectacular energy-filled 3:00 hour run. I could've easily kept going if I had to, which helped my confidence level of knowing that I can complete 31 steady miles in a month. I really think all of my long runs should have a sanctioned race built in the middle as it does make the time and miles just fly by!!!

So tomorrow when my co-worker asks me if I did all of these workouts this weeked, I'll just reply, "Hell Yeah. Not bad for a Grandma, eh??

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bud Light Presents...Real Men of Genius

We all know one of these people...They're everywhere. They're the type of person that tops everything that you do no matter what you say! If you ran a marathon, they ran a 100 miler (in the same time that you ran a marathon). If you dropped a cabinet on your toe, they ran smack dab into a fire hydrant at full speed and kept going. If you were in the army, they were in the super-secret special forces CIA-Mafia gang. Apparently, this super-dude exists and I got to hear all about him during my run on Wednesday morning.

So today, I salute you...Mr. Over-Achiver Topper Balls of Steel Runner Guy.

Big Voice Guy: Bud Light Presents…Real Men of Genius

(singer) “Real Men of Genius”

Big Voice Guy: We salute you, “Mr. Over-Achiever Topper Balls of Steel Runner Guy”

(singer) “Mr. Over-Achiever Topper Balls of Steel Runner Guy”

Big Voice Guy: In the darkness of night, you bound like a gazelle and run smack dab into a fire hydrant at full speed and still vow to finish your training run even though your voice now sounds like a 5-year-old boy.

(singer) “Ouch-My Jewels”

Big Voice Guy: And in the midst of pain, shortness of breath and the usual bouts of nausea that follow getting your boys racked, you drudge forward and will not be stopped.

(singer)” Just call me Hercules”

Big Voice Guy: Days later you are in the midst of a 100-mile running race -because you can- only to stop half-way through because you don’t want to overtrain for your next Marathon. No wonder why people say you’re “nuts.”

(singer) “100 miles is a long way to run even for a badass like me”

Big Voice Guy: And then, in order not to become bored with your mediocre humanity, you jet off on some secret mission in the dessert to learn how to fight terrorists for the U-S-of-A.

(singer) “This is all Bush’s fault.”

Big Voice Guy: So crack open a Bud light Oh Master of Steel Kahunas and Superior Being overall all normalcy because you just gave new meaning to the term IRON MAN. We Salute You,

(singer) Mr. Over-Achiever Topper Balls of Steel Runner Guy

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I received a plethora of blogging inspiration this morning courtesy of our Gazelle Fartlek workout! "Brian's Group" consisted of Brian (duh...), Alicia, Rachel, Dan, Mike, myself and a few other guys I haven't really trained with yet. I've yet to formulate the humorous piece that will emerge from this morning's run, but suffice to say, I will!!

The actual fartlek run was entertaining enough after Gilbert's pep talk of "running happy" this morning! He's definitely on a "high" being that this is the week of the "Run for the Water 10 Miler" benefiting his foundation. He made it clear that it's our week to shine as Gazelles. I've been so caught up in so much of my own stuff that I really forgot about this event. It was 5:45am, but I was inspired to sign up to do this event and wear my Gazelle-gear with pride. Hopefully, I can get Shawn to run it with me and just do it for fun.

My legs felt surprisingly well during today's 7 mile run that featured 2 miles of warm up, followed by 12 x 1:00 fast/slow repeats followed by a 2 mile cool down. I think a lot of it had to do with my T3 Spin Class from last night. We did a lot of high cadence work and only "light" hill climbing. I was glad to see my T3 IMAZ partner-in-crime Katy show up as well. She's always good for a laugh especially when it pertains to saddle positioning! There's just nothing comfy about it, especially when a bulk of the workout is done in the aero position, putting even more pressure on "those parts" (AKA, "the big flapper")-- :-)
The most exciting event of the evening for me was the fact that T3 finally picked up their Vasa Swim Trainer from Austin Tricyclist. I've been bugging Coach Maurice for a few weeks now to get it in their training center as I've read so many wonderful things about how this machine helps you achieve the proper stroke position, builds the correct muscles and is just an overall good way to do some dry land training when you can't get to the pool.

Well, I must've done something right because my lat and tricep muscles hurt like a bee-otch today!! While some of the crew was doing core work, I was strokin' away on the Vasa looking like a geek and loving every minute of it. I figured since I bugged them so much to get it, it's only right that I monopolize it! Others were intrigued with this new toy, and I was surprised that so many people had no idea what it was. I guess I'm the only dork out there researching ways to improve my swim stroke.

Now, if only I could find something to strengthen "those parts" so that it doesn't hurt so much on the saddle!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Apology to Kashi

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kashi,
I'm so very sorry. I'm one of your biggest fans and yet, I've done you a huge disservice. You see, in an effort to live a healthy life full of whole grains, protein and natural ingredients, I went a little overboard. I purchased every double box of GO LEAN Crunch at my local Costco. Yes--COSTCO! I know, I know. I've prohibited many others from sampling the goodness of the Crunch, but I promise to continue to spread the word...and I'll never buy every box ever again. (I won't have to since I'm pretty much set for life). Thank God we have a large pantry. Unfortunately, we can't fit anything else in it.
Thanks and I apologize for bringing home EVERY box. Make sure you let your distributors know that there is an Austin Costco in need of some new pallets of Kashi Go Lean Crunch. And, if and when I enter Kashi Toxicity, I'll pass it along to others.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Workout Recap Week of 10/29! (Kinda Long)

Congratulations to NYC Marathon and Ironman Florida Finishers! Your hard work and dedication continues to inspire me. Special shout-outs to Shannon for nailing a 3:15 in NYC! Never have I been witness to someone working so hard and ignoring the raised eyebrows of doubt from others to just go out and kick some serious butt. I also need to give a serious "shake and bake" to my running partner Skud for busting a 3:27 NYC Marathon. Like me, she was using this as a "training run" for the Sunmart 50k. Someday, I want to breeze through a sub-3:30 marathon and consider it a "training run!" Several other Gazelles also had great races and should be incredibly proud.

While I didn't complete any official races this weekend, I did complete my first full week of OFFICIAL Ironman training. I packed a few more hours than I should, but most of it came in the form of my long run today and an extra swim class. God knows I can't get enough of those!

Here is a recap of the week:

Monday, 10/29:
I just woke up and did a quick jog up Exposition to 35th and back. This is a great training road for hills and it's also part of the Marathon course (not to mention that it's right outside the front door). I didn't have any real goals for this "recovery" run, but I did 16-something minutes towards 35th and did a conscious negative split on the way back for 14-something minutes.

I made my trimuphant return to Jack and Adams Corture class and it felt as if I had never been! Pushups were especially hard, but I was happy to be back. I can't believe how crowded this class has become. I showed up one minute late and was pretty much in the middle of the parking lot. The class is held right outside the door and has grown into an almost "cultish" existence. It's very inspiring that people like me actually show up for an hour of crunches, leg lifts, pushups, plank and other torturous moves.

Tuesday, 10/30
Went to 5:45am Swim Class and continued to try to reinvent my stroke with every arm movement. I get through the 2800m workout, but seem to be stuck with this mental block for now. My frustration with swimming continues...

Tuesday night rocked though as the gang headed out for some serious activity at the Peter Pan Mini-Golf in honor of Hava and Shawn's birthdays! I'm not sure a whole lot of calories were burned with my putting stroke, but a great time was had nonetheless. This mini-golf course is BYOB so it was pretty hilarious seeing a bunch of 30-somethings drinking out of a paper bag. Hava was a step above and enjoyed her wine straight from the bottle! Classy baby!!!

Wednesday, 10/31
It was another "first day of Gazelles" again since I hadn't been in weeks with any regularity. As always, it's great to see everyone and I received many wonderful comments about the Columbus Marathon. Wednesday's workout was 1200m repeats on the track with 2 min rest in between. Gilbert wanted everyone to do 6, but I stayed with 5 since I was still less than two weeks after a marathon. I ran with a very consistent group that included Frank, Brian, Denis and others who are now a blur and it went well. According to the McMillan Running Calculator, if my goal was a 3:20 marathon, I should be running 1200s between a 4:49-5:04. Aside from the warmup, I was right in there.

#1 5:13
#2 5:00
#3 4:57
#4 4:58
#4 4:58

On Wednesday evening, I got home from work and hopped on the bike trainer for an 1:00. I did 45 minutes of a Spinervals DVD and then just rode the last 15 minutes while watching the PBS special called "Marathon." It was an interesting documentary where they took 12 sedentary people and trained them to run Boston. It was pretty fascinating, but let's face it, you can't cover a whole lot in one hour. Definitely worth the viewing, especially from someone who also used to be sedentary herself. And now, I'm watching a show about running while I'm riding on my indoor trainer. sweet.

Thursday, 11/1
Went to T3 5:45am Swim class and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises ever. I'm also in love with my very warm and snuggly swim parka. That makes jumping into the outdoor pool so worth it!

I did my Bike ride on Wednesday because I actually played 9 holes of golf on Thursday evening with Shawn! We had a freaking blast and I actually didn't play that bad considering it's been about 4 years since I picked up my clubs.

Friday, 11/2
Went to T3 Core/Strength class in the morning which was pretty awesome. It's an hour of core work, as well as resistance band training for our upper body. My arms and shoulders were killing me on Saturday morning which just proves that I need the work!

I followed that class by immediately heading to Barton Springs for 1200 meters in the open water. It's always a mental challenge to hop in the water, but well worth it once you get going. I must've talked myself in and out of it a dozen times before I was finally able to beat the quiet voice, get the wetsuit on and hop in. I had a good swim so I left thrilled and had a great rest of the day!

Saturday, 11/3
For the 3rd year in a row, I rode in the Tour De Gruene 36 mile bike ride with Shawn and his Dad. We always have a good time on this ride, which becomes more of Father/Son bonding. I usually ride a little ahead while they catch up on the very thrilling conversations of cars, home improvements, etc. :-) The ride felt great and I picked it up considerably on the way back just to work on some pacing for a while. We didn't hang around Gruene too long because we had to get back to Austin to watch the Buckeyes slaughter Wisconsin!

Sunday, 11/2
Today was a mixture of ups and downs. I went to the 8am T3 Swim Class because I was coming off such a high from my Barton Springs swim. I knew I had felt what I supposed to feel when I swim. I could feel the resistance in my arms. Today, not so much. The balloon had popped (and my arms were still sore from Friday's strength class). This is no joke. At one point, Chrissie stopped me and said, "Do you realize it took you 38 strokes to get to the other side?" I'm not talking a full lap. I'm talking one length of the pool. I'm just not getting a catch and I'm working hard and spinning my wheels. From that moment on, we started completely over (for the millionth time it seems). The rest of the class had nothing to do with speed. I basically spent the rest of class doing the slow catch-up drill. My coach calls it the "TPR" drill...Touch-Pull-Roll. My recovery arm reaches over my head and touches my extended arm. That arm then begins the pull which then initiates my body roll. Immediately, I got my stroke count down to the mid 20s. I wasn't going faster, but I'm sure it wasn't that much slower either. She told me not to even look at my watch. Just count strokes. I put the paddles on...Got my stroke count down to 18-19 per length (down from 38). Later, we used the fins and I was down to 12-13 strokes per length. I know it's there and I can't wait to type with joy and gratitude that I'm knocking off consistent 2:00 100s. That's all I want to be able to say. And I will.

So, after that mental frustration, I wasn't really looking forward to my long run of 18-20 miles. It was a warm morning and I wasn't starting my run until 10:30am. Normally, I'm done and have binged on breakfast tacos by 10:30am and today I was just getting started. While it's not something I'm used to, I better get used to it since the Marathon portion of the Ironman will also be later in the day. Fortunately, my knight in shining armour came in the form of Thon today. The night before, he had sent a text and volunteered to run a portion of it with me. I had originally planned on running alone since I didn't want to subject anyone to the heat. He came through in such a generous way. It also became humorous because as our run progressed, he just kept bargaining with me. " I'll keep running with you, but if I have to stop, you promise that you just keep going." I wasn't going to turn that down! I was enjoying the company, conversation and the time was flying by. We ended up doing one of our favorites...Shoal Creek Trail to Shoal Creek Road...Cross over at Far West...Far West to Greystone and Back for a total of 17+ miles. Up hill out and down hill back. We were at a 9:15 on the way out and our final avg. pace was an 8:52. Nice, negative split. My original goal was to run 18-20, but it was getting really hot and we were both pretty dehydrated. I had only taken one gu so I was running on fumes. He gave me some endurox back at his house and it only took a second for me to just end the run with a very healthy and satisfying 17.2 miles. I definitely could've continued, but it would've been more harmful than helpful. Plus, I was curious to see NYC Marathon results!

So that's the week:

4 Swims
3 Runs
2 Bikes
2 Core/Strength

(1 18-hole round of mini-golf)
(1 9-hole round of real golf)

14.75 hours total