About Me

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Tribe Mentality

If you do it, I'll do it.

Fine. I'll do it.

I met Thon and Richard at 6am Monday morning for an 8-mile recovery jog. Truth be told, I probably should've swam instead, but it's hard to pass up morning conversation and a good sunrise. Unfortunately on Monday, there was no proper sunrise as it rained intermittently during the run. We laughed about the whole "tribe mentality" of what we do.

" Who would've slept in if we weren't meeting each other to run?"
Definitely Me

"Who would've stopped running at Mile 2 and turned around when the rain started coming down?"


Because I had my "tribe," we all showed up and we all did the full 8 Miles in the rain. And you know what? We were much better off for it.

Later on Monday I received an email from Shannon asking if I was going to Jack and Adams "corture" class. I loved the fact that she actually used the word in her subject line!

I said, "The clothes are in the car and barring no thunderstorms, I'll be there."

Oh man I didn't want to go! It's so easy to say, "I'll just do it when I get home." Truth is, the whole reason to go to the class is because I would NEVER do this at home with as much intensity.

Sure enough, I went to class because I was meeting members of "my tribe."

There's so much to be said for the group dynamic. While I admire those who can get up and go it alone everyday, I just can't do it. Thank god Austin is dripping with plenty of training groups from which to choose!

A Real Adventure!

The official countdown is on...less than four weeks away from the big wedding day! This is also the time where all of those little details start creeping up on us. Who is going to pass out our programs? How are we going to get from the church to the reception? Do we need to purchase a fancy knife to cut the cake? Seriously, these are just a few of the things that have been occupying our minds and conversations lately. I think at this point we are just focusing on "the big picture" and trying desperately not to get caught up in the minutia of every little detail. It's during those times when we get frustrated and overwhelmed. This weekend appeared to be one of those weekends. So, what did we do? Well, after our runs, breakfast and a few errands, we got the hell outta Austin to decompress!

We finally used my Element for its intended purpose--experiencing the great outdoors with an overnight camping trip! Ok, so neither of us are really into camping, but we gave it our best shot. We decided to head a short 40 minutes east to the Bastrop/Smithville area and set up camp (i.e. park the car) in Buescher State Park. Of course, we brought our road bikes along with an intended long ride on Sunday morning. Even though it's so close to home, we really did feel like we had gotten out of town. We enjoyed some wine courtesy of my friend Jane from my shower the night before (yes Jane, I'll eventually post pics from THAT shower) and enjoyed some quiet conversation about the wedding.

We also ran into a group of 12 cyclists who were part of an Adventure Cycling group that was in the middle of a cross-country bike ride. We couldn't help but be intrigued by this and Shawn struck up conversations with a few of the riders. Here's the thing about sports. There's always someone who will top you! If you run a marathon, there will be someone that runs a 100 mile race. If you do an Ironman, there will always be someone that does a week-long Adventure Race. If you do the MS 150 bike ride, there will always be someone who will ride their bikes across the country. Well, we met those people. They started in San Diego in Mid-March with their final destination being St. Augustine Florida on May 25th. They ride their bikes pretty much EVERY DAY and it is totally self-supported. There's no supply van, even though there is a guide. They carry everything on their bikes including food, tents, propane, clothing, etc. Some people are hauling 65 extra pounds on their bikes!! The "fast guys" avg 13-15 mph and the slower folks were averaging 8 miles an hour. Now that would be excrutiating. They camp every night in very primitive surroundings and cook for themselves each night. Here's the irony...It's an Adventure Cycling Club and not one person appeared to be enjoying the Adventure!!! They were tired, sore, injured and somewhat grumpy from having ridden through the mountains, deserts and long stretches of highways just to get to this halfway point. Understandably, all of the riders were older since not just anyone can take off over two months just to ride a bike across the country. While they were fascinating to talk with, not one of them did a good selling job of convincing me that this was an adventure that sounds all that appealing. It's almost as if they were at the "no turning back" point and they were just riding now because they had to. I feel like if we would've asked them "why," they wouldn't have a good answer.

It really made me want to focus on the "why" for my training. While I do get tired and worn down, I still enjoy it so much. On Sunday morning, we hopped on our bikes for a hilly 25 mile bike ride. For those that know the MS 150 route, we rode the 11 mile road in between Bastrop and Buescher State Parks for an out and back. We then threw in a few extra miles around the park. While it wasn't long on mileage, it was a great reintroduction into the hills! From Buescher to Bastrop, it took us 49 minutes, while it only took us 45 minutes on the way back. Afer throwing in a few more miles, we completed a solid 2 hour ride. My bike was feeling good and, aside from my sore quads, I was also feeling good. After our ride, we hopped off the bikes and set off on a brief 20 minute run around the park. It was a great start to the day!

Now, that's what I call an adventure weekend!

Sign me up!!

Squeezing the Toothpaste

I heard a great analogy that can be applied to many things in life. I, of course, had to relate it specifically to my training.

It's the "Squeezing the Toothpaste" theory.
Essentially, you know when you open a new tube of toothpaste and you barely have to touch it and tons of toothpaste comes out? However, the more you use it, the more difficult it becomes to get toothpaste out of the tube? You find yourself folding it and bending it and tweaking it every which way you can just to get that last drop of toothpaste before you finally throw it away and open a new one.

That's how I've been feeling lately with my running workouts. I feel like I'm squeezing that toothpaste tube every day to improve; even if it's ever so slightly. A second here, two seconds there... There are days where I find a new way to "bend the tube" and eek out just a little more. Of course, there are also those days where I practically wring it out and get nothing. Somedays, it feels as though my tube is empty.

Fortunately, I don't feel like my toothpaste tube is empty right now even though I had a rough go of it on Saturday morning for our LAB Pace Run.

Two weeks ago, I did 3 LAB loops for a total of 10.5 miles. The first loop was a gradual warmup and the last 7 miles were at my Half-Marathon goal pace between 7:00-7:10. It was a cool morning and I felt well-rested.

This past Saturday was different. We were meeting a little later at 6:45am and the cool crisp mornings that we'd been having had all but disappeared. Plus, I had gone to another Carrie/Shawn wedding shower on Friday night and felt a little sluggish...definitely not well-rested. The goal for this pace run was also a little different. Our warm-up would take place first and THEN we would run the full 3 loops (10.5miles ) at pace. This would be 3.5 more miles at pace than just two weeks ago.

Our plan was to start off slow (7:30pace--which is not slow) and then gradually speed up and settle into a 7:10-7:15 pace overall for the run. Unlike the last time, I could actually feel the slight incline on Shoal Creek Road which is 1.5 miles of a gradual climb. Yes, it's subtle, but I was definitely feeling it. The first loop was o.k. We were simulating race conditions so we just set water and gu by our cars. We'd grab it and keep going like a real waterstop. Even with our "waterstop," we averaged a 7:02 mile. That's when I knew I might be in trouble for the 2nd and 3rd laps. I tried to readjust and settle down, but could never really find much rhythm. Erine and Thon were pacing ahead of me at this point, and I was hanging on.

That's when the usual demons started to appear and I started recounting my workouts for the week. 1200s on the track at a 6min pace, Wilke, two other recovery runs, Spin Class, 2 Corture classes, Swimming...

I could feel the wheels start to come off a little bit. My main problem was my quads were just not feeling it. They felt empty. Instead of prolonging the agony and risking injury, I told myself I would stop at 9 miles instead of the full 10.5. It was still an excellent increase from the week before even though I seemed to expel a ton more energy with this one. The second my watch struck 9 miles, I started to walk for a bit. I probably walked about .25 miles and then jogged the rest of the way back home.

While it didn't necessarily achieve the intended goal, it still was an improvement from 2 weeks ago under a tough week. I somewhow managed to squeeze just a little more toothpaste out of the tube in preparation for my Half-Marathon on May 20th.

Mile 1: 7:33
Mile 2: 7:14
Mile 3: 7:10
Mile 4: 7:02 (with water stop)
Mile 5: 6:50
Mile 6: 7:25
Mile 7: 6:53
Mile 8: 7:18
Mile 9: 7:17

Avg pace = 7:11
Pretty erratic pacing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Did He Really Say "Stop Running?"

Put this one in the history books, my friends. Coach Gilbert actually told me to STOP RUNNING yesterday! Oh the irony of a coach telling you to stop doing what you’re paying him to tell you to do.

It all went down like this:

I was really tired Thursday morning and having a hard time with the thought of getting up early (again) and running (again). Of course, I feel that way on most Gazelle workout days because all of Gilbert’s workouts are a challenge. That’s the point. They can’t all be recovery days. I knew we were going to be at the track doing 1200s (3x around the track) and usually I get up and just run the 1.5 miles from my house to the track as my warm-up. On this day, I was so damn tired that I didn’t even allow myself enough time for the jog to the track. So, I hopped in the Element and drove the measly distance while I yawned and told myself I was only going to do the bare minimum.

I still beat the group to the track, so I actually did jog 5 times around the track for a certifiable warm-up of 1.25 miles. The group had shown up by then and were in the middle of drills when I finished. So, I hopped in with them and finished up high knees, backwards running and strides. All that and I still wasn’t feeling up to par. I knew I was tired from Wednesday's lashings that I had put myself through.

So the workout was pretty fascinating. We were doing 1200s but broken into chunks.

600m (1 ½ laps)
Recovery jog for last ½ lap
400m (1 lap)
Recovery jog for 200m (1/2 lap)
200m (1/2 lap)

2 min rest
Repeat entire set 3-5 times

I lined up once again with four guys that I really don't know and we were off like a banshee. Well, THEY were at least. I was struggling through that first set and quickly fell about 5 yards behind the pack. Man, last time we were on the track I was kicking some booty and now I could barely keep up. Even though I was frustrated, I remained patient.

We finished the first set and took our break. Essentially, our goal pace was supposed to be pretty consistent with our 400s from last week. In my case, it was a 6min per mile pace. (I can’t believe that’s in print in reference to ME!)

The second set started and I don’t know if I was finally coming to life, but I was able to keep up and lead on a few repeats.

By the 3rd set, I actually felt strong, but certainly winded. Now, if you remember correctly, my first thought this morning was, “I’m doing the bare minimum.” Needless to say, I’m not one who usually skimps out on anything. While my four partners in crime were all stopping and heading back to Runtex, I lined up by myself for my 4th and final set. It was tough gutting it out by myself, but my times were consistent with the rest of the sets. I’ll say this much, after the 4th set, I was toast.

I heard Coach talking to Ivi and made the comment, “Sapp is running fast these days.” It was an aside comment not even meant for me to hear, but it felt good to hear it nonetheless. Of course, it sure beats overhearing, “Sapp is a freaking sloth, ” which was how I felt at the beginning of the workout.

My car was right there and I could’ve done the easy thing and just hopped in my car and headed for home, but I decided to go for a 15 minute cool down jog, which is about what it would be if I had parked at Runtex with everyone else. I was jogging ever so slowly on the Mopac bridge heading back to my car when I saw Gilbert starting his run. I swear, he just appears out of nowhere! He just started laughing and in his Burundi-Texan accent shouted, “Sapp-Stop Running Now!” He’s so used to coaching hundreds of overachievers who just can’t get enough. He actually has to tell us it’s ok to stop! I told him I was cooling down and he affirmed me again. “Good Job Sapp.”

For someone who was bound and determined to have a slacker day and get away with the bare minimum, it was good to hear those three words.

“Good Job Sapp.”

600 = 2:18min
rest 1:22min
400 = 1:32min
rest 1:24min
200 = :45 sec

600 = 2:20min
rest 1:34min
400= 1:29 min
rest 1:33
200 = :44 sec

600= 2:18min
rest 1:39
400 = 1:31min
rest 1:33
200 = :43sec

600 = 2:18min
rest 1:34
400 = 1:32
rest 1:28
200 = :43sec

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Vocabulary Lesson for the Day

Quick Blogger Update from Yesterday:

I hated the fact that I didn't do the Wilke Workout yesterday morning, so I went to the Gazelle Afternoon class and did 5 Wilke forward repeats, 3 Backwards and 3 Sprints. Nothing major--just a little makeup from the morning. I had to bail by 6:30p to head to a dinner.

Swim in the AM/Wilke Hill Repeats in the PM

New Training Vocabulary:

I've added two new words to my training vocabulary since yesterday.

This is the new name that I've given to the Mon/Wed Jack and Adam's Core Class. Simply put, it is torture for the core. An hour of plank poses, leg lifts, push ups, mountain climbers and more. Plus, Adam acts as drill sargeant for the hour with little slack or forgiveness. It's the class that finds you asking yourself, "Why am I here?" Why? Because it makes you feel like a bad-ass., that's why.

Used in a sentence: "I'd love to go to Happy Hour with you, but I've got corture tonight."

2.) "TRICK"
In the sport of triathlon, often times you put together a back-to-back workout, such as a bike followed by a run or a swim followed by a bike ride. Those double efforts are called "bricks." This morning when Thon and I were running our 6.5 mile run, I told him that I was going to hit 7:00am spin class at the gym and that I was also going to go to corture class after work. (see how I already used it casually in a sentence?) His reply was something like, "My God Girl, you don't do bricks anymore. Now, you're doing tricks!"

And just like that, another new word was added to my vocabulary!

Improper or Misunderstood Use in a Sentence: "My fiance has to work late tonight so I'm going to turn some tricks."

I don't recommend wording like that necessarily. Bad things may happen. Perhaps a better way is to say something like:

"My fiance has to work late tonight so I'm going to do a trick workout...run and spin in the morning and corture in the afternoon."

Feel free to incorporate these in your vernacular. It doesn't necessarily have to be tri-related. For instance, if you have multiple children, you can still pull a trick.

"I've got to take one kid to ballet, the other to soccer and then I'm going to go for a walk." That, my child-bearing friends, is a trick in my book. It's a workout I couldn't even begin to fathom.

Happy Training!

5:45am-6:45am 6.5 mile Run Recovery Pace
7:00am-7:55am Spin Class
5:45p-6:30p Corture

On deck for Thursday morning...1200m repeats on the track.
Saturday--Pace Run at Half Marathon Goal Pace
Sat/Sun--long bike ride, long swim

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monster Workout Recaps

Poopers. I had written the entry of a lifetime last night, but it apparently did not save in Blogger! OK, so it wasn't the entry of a lifetime, but it was a good one. I had that feeling that you get when the term paper you've been working on for hours didn't save and now you have to start from scratch. Ok, so it wasn't that dramatic, but it was 30 minutes of my time gone like the wind. I'll recreate my original post tonight, but I want to recap the last week's worth of workouts for future posterity (i.e before I forget).

Monday, April 16th
In honor of the Boston Marathon (and my age group victory the day before), I took the day off! Shawn, Thon, Erine and I stayed home that morning to watch the race on TV and follow along with our friends that were racing in the deplorable conditions! Congrats to all who showed bravery and courage and ran the most prestigious marathon.

Tuesday, April 17th
The Gazelle Workout called for the "secret hill" workout. Being that I don't know where the secret hill is, I did my own hill workout that day. I did a total of 4 Meridan Loops. However, after each one, I went back down the hill and did 3 more repeats. The first and third loops, I went back down the final climb. For the second and fourth loops, I went down the first hill and did 3 repeats up that one. I wasn't going for speed, but good form and posture. Tried to look straight ahead and pretend that a rope was attached to my chest and was pulling me up. Good technique workout.

Wednesday, April 18th
Jog 2 miles to gym
50 minute spin class at 7am
Jog 2 miles home.

Jack and Adams Core Class in the afternoon (self-torture)

Thursday, April 19th
15 x 400m repeats on the Austin High Track
I ran from home to the Track as my warmup
My goal was to avg. 1:30 for the workout (6:00 min per mile pace).
1:31, 1:27, 1:30, 1:30, 1:31, 1:29, 1:29, 1:30, 1:32, 1:29, 1:31, 1:30, 1:31, 1:31, 1:25

Friday, April 20th
12 Mile Run with Thon and Mike. We started from Stacy Pool. I was coming off of a media gala the night before so there were definitely some cobwebs and cotton mouth to tend to. It's amazing that I can drudge through a 12 mile running feeling about 50%.

Saturday, April 21st
9:00am Yoga class and that was all I could muster for the day. I had visions of bike rides and swimming, but neither happened on that Saturday. However, we did make marathon trips to Crate and Barrel and Bed, Bath and Beyond to update our registry and look at some new items. I can feel the wedding taper beginning.

Sunday, April 22nd
We braved drizzly conditions to put in a 30 mile bike ride in the morning. We also braved a couple of flat tires along the way. We both felt good overall, but weren't pushing speed because of the wet conditions.

Around 5:30pm on Sunday evening, we headed to the Pool and I got about 1400 meters in complete with 16 x 50s on the :15 as the main set. I was pretty much dead on at 1:00min for the overall avg. My range was :59-1:02, but the bulk were 1:00min flat. If nothing else, I'm consistent.

1:00, :59, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:01, 1:02, 1:01, 1:01, 1:00, 1:01, 1:02, 1:02

Monday, April 23rd
Met Thon for an 8-Mile recovery run. We took off from Barton Springs and soaked for about 10min afterwards. I'll be damned if we weren't singing the praises of Gilbert and talking about how he shows up when you least expect it when OUT OF NOWHERE he appeared on the trail in front of us!! We were all in very unusual areas for us (near barton springs pool), but there he was to say good morning and flash that Gilbert smile. It's like he just appears to let us know he's watching. It was a joy to start my morning with some good karma.

Jack and Adams Core Class in the PM. Yes, we question ourselves the entire time we're there, but damn it feels good knowing I can now hold plank pose for over 4 minutes straight, among many other core exercises.

Tuesday, April 24th
So, I just really didn't want to climb the hills of Wilke this morning. Instead, I got out of bed and went to Barton Springs at 6:30am for a swim before the rain came. It was a little more crowded than usual this morning because Texas Iron Tri club does their open water practices on Tuesday morning (Pro greats Andrea Fischer and Jamie Cleveland's group). I forgot my watch today, but my original goal was to swim 1 mile or 4 laps. The first lap was smooth and uneventful. The second lap--not so much. Who knew that swimming could be such a contact sport?! The good part about Barton Springs? It's awesome training in the open water. The bad part? For the first part of the morning, you're swimming in dark water under a dark sky with no lane markers. I was trying to settle into a breathing pattern when I had a sudden, massive head-on collision with another swimmer who was heading in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, it was one of those accordian-like moments where I could just feel my nose and neck scrunch up upon impact with this dude's head. I know he was going full speed and there was no indication that either of us was heading towards each other. Naturally, we both stopped and I had one of those slight panic moments where I couldn't catch my breath and I was absolutely positive that my nose was dripping with blood from his noggin' impact. He actually had to hold on to me (very graciously) for several seconds while I caught my breath again and became reassured that my sniffer was still in tact. We both apologized profusely, understanding that it just happens. Man, I wanted to get out right then and there. I was going through one of those " I knew I shouldn't have come here today" moments. My face hurt and my pinky finger on my right hand hurt really bad. I'm sure I just crunched it hard against him when we collided and it bent the wrong way. No broken bones or anything. Just broken pride. I continued on my way and kept muddling through the self-doubt talk.

I finished lap two barely and just took about a 30 second break and talked myself into continuing. By this point, the sun was actually rising so you could sight a little better. Lap 3 came and went and I calmed down. Lap 4 actually felt really good and even paced. I was supposed to be done, but my breathing and effort had reached a steady pace. I went ahead and did an extra lap to practice bilateral breathing.

I was very satisfied when I did finish the workout. Like I said earlier, I didn't have a watch and I'm sure my swim times were slower than they have been recently, but I was more encouraged by 1.) the fact that I didn't quit when I really REALLY wanted to 2.) the fact that my effort for those 5 laps steadied off and got almost rhythmic on the last two laps 3.) the fact that I could've actually done another lap or two if I wanted to.

While my nose is still sore from the head-on impact by super tri-stud (who probably saved me from drowning), it's still better than facing the Wilke demon this morning. If it's not pouring down rain this afternoon, I may head over to that hill and have a head-on collision with it before my 6:30pm Gazelle meeting.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cactus Challenge Sprint Tri Recap

Pre-Race Chills

I couldn't help but have the chills on Sunday morning. I wasn't nervous, but it was a very chilly morning in Austin! Fortunately though, it looked like the weather would be spectacular when the sun finally made its way over the horizon. In an unusual turn of events, the race wasn’t starting until 8:30am, which meant that we didn’t really have to be there until about 7:30am to set up our transition areas. Fearing the worst from a parking standpoint, we left the house at 6:45am. Surprisingly, we had NO trouble at all with parking. The race is still small enough (yay!) that we got a decent parking spot, grabbed our bikes and gear and headed for the transition area.

The sun was coming up, but it did little to calm the fear and trepidation that everyone was feeling about jumping in the 67 degree water. All I kept thinking was that it was COLDER than Barton Springs and that's bad enough! I was just doing the Sprint distance which means that in most cases, donning a wetsuit isn’t worth the time and energy that it takes to get in and out of the thing. Today was different and we all knew it. I’d say about 95-98% of the Sprint athletes had their wetsuits zipped up and ready to go. If nothing else, it added a much-needed layer of insulation as we waited by the lake shore and listened to the pre-race meeting.

The directions for the swim seemed easy enough. Head out to the double buoys. Turn around and come back for 500m. Why did those damn buoys seem so far away? Open water has a way of doing that to you. I just constantly reminded myself that it was just 10 laps in a pool. That’s it…no problem. You’re in and you’re out. It’s funny how even the smallest of tri swims can freak you out and summon the internal demons.

The transition area was a good 250-300 meters away from the water and I didn’t bring flip flops so I actually wore my running shoes to the foot of the water and set them near a cone so that I could grab them on my way to transition. (internally praying that I wouldn’t forget them in my haste and excitement upon leaving the water).

We watched the Olympic Distance Racers start. It’s hard not to feel humbled living in a town where the likes of Desiree Ficker, Brandon Marsh, Jason McMillian and other pro-triathletes show up at the local tris each weekend to hone their skills for the big races.

Swim Time-Oh God

It didn’t take long when suddenly my wave (30+ females) was on deck. I kissed Shawn good-bye, wished him good luck and told him I’d see him in about 1 ½ hours. Then, before I knew it, we were in the water. Surprisingly, because the air was so chilly, the water didn't feel that bad at first...more like lukewarm bathwater. You wouldn't want to spend a whole lot of time in it, but it was much warmer than you had anticipated. The airhorn fired and like every tri swim start, you find yourself thrashing, kicking, swallowing water and trying to catch your breath. And that’s just the first 10 meters! I made it to the buoys quickly (for me) and was pleasantly surprised to see and feel other swimmers still around me. Usually, I’m left in the dust at this point. Because the swim was so short, I never did relax into a steady pace. I tried to breathe every 3rd or 4th breath to relax, but it wasn’t enough air. Therefore, I found myself breathing every stroke for most of the swim. I hate it because it only adds to my sense of urgency and exhaustion and amount of water consumed in my lungs. Thankfully, it didn’t last long and I was out of the water in about 12 minutes. Sweet. The hard part was done. I started running towards transition while unzipping my wetsuit at the same time. I didn’t forget to grab my shoes, but it was hard to juggle taking off goggles, swim cap, and unzipping wetsuit while trying not to drop my running shoes. No worries…all was well!

T1 and Bike

It’s amazing and humorous how your body reacts when your adrenaline and heart rate are pumping. Just 15 minutes prior, I was shivering from the air. Now, I was feverishly preparing to hop on a bike in soaking wet spandex and ride into the wind as fast as I could. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel a bit chilly at this point. I noticed something else. There were a ton of other bikes still in my transition area. Now, we didn’t necessarily rack them by age group, but just seeing bikes all around me was a confidence booster knowing that I wouldn’t be the last person on the course!

The bike course on the Cactus Challenge was great! Well marked, good pavement, some rollers, some down hills and one longer climb into the wind. That part sucked, of course, but it was definitely a fair course. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but suddenly I was in “race mode.” I made a conscious effort to kick it up a notch and give it all I had. Cycling definitely isn’t my forte, but I’m getting better. I pushed it when I could and relaxed when I could. I didn’t even carry a spare tube or tool kit on this ride figuring to myself, if I got a flat on a 13 mile course, my race was done. It would take me longer to change a tire than it would to finish the race. For those that know the sport of triathlon, you know there is one goal (besides finishing): picking off people in your age group! Since I usually start from behind with a slower swim time, I spend most races catching up. I had no idea what was in front of me in the way of Women 30-34, but I was going to find out. I rode hard. I passed as many people as I could. I got passed occasionally. Then, I got passed more by a bunch of guys. The Male waves started behind ours and they started sneaking up behind me. I didn’t care. My focus was to continue to pass as many females as possible, not knowing their age until I could see it written in black marker on their calves. I passed a few in my age group, but I seemed to be passing primarily 20-29 year olds. Their wave had started 5 minutes before ours and I was catching up. Wow…this is weird. Where are the 30 year olds? I was pretty sure that there some badass biker chicks ahead that I would never catch but before I knew it, my 13 mile ride (2 loop course) was up. I was digging the Sprint distance!!

I hit my watch…43 min and some change. It’s all a blur when you are getting off your bike, trying not to slip in your cycling shoes and trying to remember where the hell your transition area is.

Now, it was time for my favorite part. The run. Did I have enough time to pass any other 30-34 women? Three miles isn’t a lot of real estate, but I would give it my best.

The Run

The run was primarily on well-groomed grass and mulch. It’s a whole different sensation than running on pavement. Actually, there were a couple of times I felt my legs get wobbly when they would hit the grass. The surface is a little more absorbent than concrete, that’s for sure! I was somewhat familiar with this course having done the Danskin Tri on a couple of occasions. Most importantly, I knew about the long hill on the back side of the run that has a way of sucking the momentum out of you just when you need it most for the final sprint towards the finish. I don’t remember much from the run except that there were very few of us actually on the course. I was also surrounded by men primarily. I did pass about 6-7 women on the run course, but that was it. My first Miles were in the 6:30-6:45 range. Holy Shit! It didn't feel like I was running that fast. It never does. Only one mile to go. Damn. There’s the hill. True to form, it sucked the life out of me and took longer than I had hoped. I was running side by side with some dude for the last two miles. We sucked wind together up that hill and now we were in our final sprint to the finish.

The End

I crossed the line and heard Adam Reiser (from jack and adam’s tri shop) announce my name and say something about a great finish in my age group. He also commented on the fact that I was wearing my Jack and Adams Tri Jersey. I stopped my watch...1hr 22min. I had secretly hoped I could do a 1:20-1:25. I had done it.

It would take a while and some misinformation, but according to initial posted results (which seemed to take FOREVER), it showed me at #2 in my age group out of about 22 or so and #6 Female finisher overall. It wasn’t until the Awards Ceremony almost TWO HOURS later (I made Shawn stay) when they announced my name as #1 in my group! We were both shocked!! Apparently, the girl ahead of me had skipped a loop on the bike and had an abnormally fast bike split. Woops. Thank you sweetie. Since then, the results have been altered again and I actually moved up to #4 Female overall. (less than :30 sec out of 3rd place overall)

Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of my effort. It’s certainly a million times better than I thought it would be. Shawn did excellent as well and we’re both now officially inspired to continue our training regimes.

It’s a shame we won’t be in town to do the Cap Tex Tri on Memorial Day Weekend, which was his first tri and one of our favorites to do together. We decided our wedding was more important. Shocking, I know.

Swim: 13:24 (includes 250-300 m run to transition area) 8th out of 21 in age group
T1: 2:55
Bike: 43:13 (18 mph pace) 2nd out of 21 ---the #1 person beat me by less than 25 sec!
T2: 1:00
Run: 21:31 ( 6:56 pace) 1st out of 21 in age group, #1 run overall female

Total Time: 1:22:01

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Saturday, April 14th Evening Recap: 80's Wedding Shower

Saturday, April 14th PM 80s Themed Wedding Shower

OK, so Amy, Stephanie and Hava pulled off the most totally RAD wedding shower, with the help of Thon, Mike, Perry and Richard. I’m not sure if we’re totally cool or total losers but we had such a blast! How do you top “Dirty Dancing,” bad 80s rock and roll, pyramids and scrunchies?? I don’t think it’s possible! Both Shawn and I managed to pace ourselves well throughout the night because we were doing the Cactus Challenge Sprint Triathlon the next morning! We signed up for the tri long before we set the date for the shower. We considered changing the date of the shower to accommodate the tri, but we said, “What the Hell?” We were just doing the tri for fun and it was only a Sprint Distance race. Plus, since we’re having an 80’s party, let’s pretend like we can still party like it’s 1989! Shawn’s parents were there and seemed to have a splendid time. They kept joking that their 80s experience was slightly different than ours! I’m not sure how it happened, but the night disintegrated into hooking up two microphones and singing along to “The Rose,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and many other gems! Ok—it’s official. We’re losers. But I love us. We left around 1:30am and we were up until about 2:30am packing our tri bags and taking off makeup. It took me about ½ hour to take off my freaking eye shadow!

Photos of the event are to the right...

Only 3 1/2 hours of sleep before the race. This could be interesting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Saturday, April 14th Morning Recap: LAB Pace Run

Saturday, April 14th
6:00am Pace Run

I’ve heard about the LAB route, but I’ve never run it. It’s a 3.5 mile loop in North Central Austin that follows Great Northern, White Rock and Shoal Creek Road. While it seems relatively flat, there are definitely some subtle climbs that sneak up on your heart rate when you least expect it.

My “A” Race right now is the North Trails Half Marathon in Dallas on May 20th. It’s the primary focus of my speed work these days. I’d love to run this Half-Marathon in 1hr32 or 1hr33min. That’s a 7:00-7:10 min pace per mile. Brisk for me, but I believe achievable.

My first pace test was set for Saturday morning on the LAB loop. My goal was to run the first 3 miles as a warm up and run the last 7 miles between 7:00-7:15 pace. Amy and I met Erine and Thon at our “race start.” Even though it’s a training run, we were treating it like a race. We set out our own water stops and lined up Gatorade along our tailgates. Erine and Thon are training for Grandma’s Marathon and were actually doing a 21 mile run—yikes! They were running 6 LAB loops to my 3 loops.

So, we all started together for our warm up lap. The first three miles were used to just get comfortable. Of course, I accidentally deleted all of my splits from this run, but I believe they were like a 9:20, 8:40 and then 8:20 pace. Erine had taken off after 2 warm up miles. I decided I was going to go for it. Amy and Thon weren’t sure they wanted to push the pace that fast.

Mile 4: 7:10
Mile 5: 6:44
Mile 6: 6:58
Mile 7: 7:42 (water stop)
Mile 8: 6:49
Mile 9: 7:16
Mile 10: 7:10

After my watched beeped at 10 miles, I used the last half mile back to the car as a cool down. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled at the effort. While it definitely difficult, I felt strong even when we were fighting the head wind on this very breezy morning. I never felt like I had to stop or slow down. Plus, my legs were feeling strong the entire time. While I felt good, I don’t think I could’ve pulled another 3 miles out at that pace. Interesting that I feel that way because I’m going to attempt a 10 mile pace run in two weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Recap of Friday the 13th: Funky Legs

FRIDAY, April 13th Recap:

Last week at this time, my legs were feeling all sorts of odd. It wasn’t a painful feeling necessarily. More like a numbness; like at any moment, my legs would just give out on me and I’d end up on the floor in a heaping mess. I’d be sitting there and just feel tingling in them. There were moments when they didn’t actually feel like they were a part of my body; like when you get a head cold and you sort of feel like you’re “floating.” That’s how my legs felt. I actually was starting to get nervous since it was an entirely new sensation. Was I having nerve issues? Muscle issues? Am I just fatigued? I certainly haven’t been overtraining. I decided a massage was what I needed.

On Friday, I went and had a lower body massage. The goal was to just flush out my legs. I wanted to do a pace run on Saturday morning and wasn’t even sure I could walk to the start, let alone run 7 miles at a 7:00-7:15 pace. As it turns out, the massage was just what I needed. While my legs didn’t feel “brand new” after the massage, they definitely felt slightly resuscitated from the days before. Shawn and I enjoyed a nice pre-run sushi meal and we were both in bed early on a not-so-crazy Friday night. Of course, we also new Saturday night would get a little nutty.

Because my legs had been bothering me that week, my workouts slightly sporadic.

Instead of spinning on Wednesday, I went for a 7 mile recovery jog with Erine, Thon and Mike. Nice slow 9:45 pace. I swam for about 30 minutes after that at Stacy Pool.

Thursday—day off completely

Friday—swam 1 mile in Barton Springs and was pleased with results.
Lap 1: 8:55
Lap 2: 8:58
Lap 3: 9:10 (bumped into someone and had to do the whole “Sorry” exchange)
Lap 4: put the web gloves on 8:53

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What a Weekend: Prelude

I’m not even sure where to begin with this weekend! From a great massage and sushi on Friday, a well-executed pace run on Saturday morning, our 80s-themed Couples Wedding Shower on Saturday night, my future in-laws spending their first weekend at the house and the Cactus Sprint Triathlon this morning…It truly was a perfect weekend.

It’s going to take a while to digest the whirlwind of activities. I’ll just say that bad 80s music combined with less than 4 hours of sleep can apparently equal a great triathlon!

I finished #1 in my age group and #5 female out of 160 or so!

More soon!!

Shawn (Loverboy) and I (Debbie Gibson) celebrate our upcoming wedding 80s style!

More photos soon

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Each of us has a small handful because only a small handful actually exisits. Some we take for granted. Others we cherish. I'm talking about the rare person(s) in our lives that truly lives with 100% goodness in their hearts. They are put on this earth not to be self-serving, but to serve. They live with passion and COMpassion, energy, joy and enthusiasm. They inadvertently serve as a positive and inspirational force for others just by "being."

My dear friend Karl is one of those people. In his naive and enthusiastic way, he's made such a positive impact in my life. He is the reason I started running, even before I moved to Texas nine years ago.

During college in the early 90s, I interned in the Promotions department at a radio station in Lancaster, Ohio (suburb of Columbus). It still happens to be one of the best and most memorable times of my life! That is where I met Karl and his youthful energy. He was the Production Director, in charge of writing, voicing and producing many of the commercials you would hear on the air. Karl's quirkiness led him to the Promotions office every day at precisely 1:00pm where the Karl "It's 1 o'clock time to eat" dance would commence. This is where I first learned the anal retentiveness and importance of food from an athlete's perspective. You see, Karl was a runner and the rest of us were not. We couldn't relate and didn't even attempt to. For God's sakes, we worked in radio where the alcohol and food were free and partying was as regular as sleeping (if not MORE regular). Needless to say, if you've ever seen most radio personalities in person, you definitely know that "fitness" isn't in the job description when announcing the new Kenny Chesney song.

Everyday at 1pm, we would march into our conference room, turn on "Days of Our Lives" and make fun of Karl as he ate his Fantastic Foods Veggie Soup, Bananas and Power Bars (the ORIGINAL Power Bars since nothing else existed at the time). What's even more humorous is that on many days, Karl had run to work from home--about 7 miles away in a neighborhood called "Hideaway Hills." I stress the hills. He showered at the random shower located at the base of our radio tower and proceeded to carry that energy throughout the day. We, on the other hand, could only muster enough energy to make fun of his strange behavior. Why on earth would you run to and from work when you have a perfectly good car??? Don't get me wrong, Karly Warly Farly Schmarly could party with the rest of us. This man loves his Guiness. It was what he did when he wasn't drinking that made all of the difference.
In 1996, Karl began a journey that inspired me to start running. Through the local chapter of "Team in Training," Karl trained for and ran a marathon on behalf of his buddy Glenn Miller, Jr. Glenn was a young boy suffering from Leukemia. Team in Training was in its infancy stages back then, not nearly the fundraising force it is now. One Marathon wasn't enough for Karl and for reasons that none of us can relate to, he set out to run 52 Marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for Team in Training. Did he complete this task? You bet he did. His decision to do this was rather abrupt even though he had been planning it for a while. Potential Sponsors and friends were surprised, supportive and even skeptical that such a feat could truly be accomplished by a guy in his mid 40s. It's been almost 10 years and I'm proud to announce that his book about this epic journey has just been released and available for purchase!!

Mine is on order and I personally can't wait to read what I heard about and experienced along the way as a friend and former co-worker. None of us really and truly knew what he was going through. We certainly didn't understand why. It is this journey that propelled me into mine. My first Half-Marathon in Columbus was finished wearing one of his t-shirts to support his cause.

Since then, Karl and I have raced at the Vineman Ironman 70.3 Race together and he literally saved my life during the 2003 Columbus Marathon when I was severely dehydrated and hallucinating at Mile 24. He ran alongside of me---all the way to the Finish Line and into the Med Tent after my collassal collapse so that he could make sure I was o.k.
Everytime I'm home in Ohio, we make a point of running together. It's our way of catching up on each other's lives. He still inspires me and I know he's proud of my accomplishments.

I urge everyone to order a copy of this book! You, too, will be inspired by unselfish goodness. We're always searching for literature on how to become a better runner. This book will inspire us to not only become better runners, but better people.

Karl in Sonoma, CA the day after Vineman 70.3. Let the celebration begin!

Karl in his favorite position--flanked by two women! This was taken the day after the Vineman Half-Ironman and we were officially touring the wineries. I'm in the pink and super-tristudette (and amazing swim coach) Tracy is in the red.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finding Focus

Feeling slightly "out of focus" lately. I'm beginning to think it's not such a bad thing. I haven't been going out of my way to fill up every minute of my day with some kind of activity. The weather was so bad this past weekend in Austin and it literally forced us to relax and chill at the house. We actually watched our first movie in our new home over the weekend. It's hard to believe that we've been in this house almost four months and haven't allowed ourselves the opportunity to sit for two hours and watch a freaking movie. Sadly, we watched the old film "Team America: World Police" (America--F*ck Yeah!!) That shows are maturity level when our first movie is from the South Park dudes! We also went and saw Will Ferrell's "Blades of Glory" on Friday night! I think our lives are always so intense that it's nice to just disintegrate into brain mush.

In addition to wonderfully horrible movies, we were able to work on some wedding details--(which was just wonderful and not horrible) music for the ceremony, picking out who we want to do our readings, working on music for the reception. For the record, I'm having a BLAST picking out and downloading music for the reception. If it all works how I'm envisioning, it should be hysterical and incredibly memorable.

Workouts have been slightly out of focus as well as I've just been having a hard time getting up in the mornings.


Swim at Lunch: 1500-1700 meters with a couple of interval combos thrown in for good measure
10 x 50m (avg between :58 and 1:02)--still great for me
5 x 100m (2:02-2:03-2:04-2:04-2:08)-I could feel myself fading

Now, each of the above was an 80-85% effort for me. I was really trying to focus on form instead of effort. I was also breathing every 4th stroke so I wasn't in any real panic. I really need to practice my bilateral breathing, but overall am pleased with the marked improvement in my times. Still no Castle Hill Swim Ex Pools--BASTARDS.

After work, I was going to go to JAck and Adams core, but was running late. Plus, it beat me up so bad last week that I didn't want to start my "race week" feeling sore and drained. I ended up going to the gym and realized I forgot my damn shoes. Soooooo....I did my own version of core workouts with plank, leg lifts, medicine ball,etc. Plus, I did get on the elyptical and got the heart rate going for about 30 minutes. Nothing major, just a little fat burning zone action.


2000s at Zilker Park.

We could only dodge thunder, lightening and rain for so long. I got up late so I actually drove to the park and basically had no warmup. Not good for this workout. I was tempted to go to the gym for a "slacker" workout, but talked myself into going to Zilker. Gilbert lined me up with 3 guys. One was Brian and I didn't know the others. Steady effort, quick turnover and focus on breathing for over a mile with each repeat. He also raised the bar a bit and moved the finish line further away from where it's always been. Therefore, I tried to look at my watch at the "old" finish line for comparisons. Every additional step takes that much more effort.

Repeat 1: 8:35 (old finish line: 8:15)
Repeat 2: 8:34 (old finish line: 8:13)
Repeat 3: 8:40 (old finish line 8:20)

I was pretty toasted after 3 repeats, which sucks because I usually can knock off four of them. Coach actually stopped us at 3 today because the thunder, lightening and rain were beginning to roll in.

I took the final 2000 lap as a cool down and then ran across the street to where I was parked on the South Side of Zilker and tacked on the 1 mile loop that we do in Zilker for Mile Repeats. So, I left the park drenched, but with the knowing satisfaction that I didn't skimp on the mileage today. My cool down was about 2.5 miles.

Call it a cool-down, call it guilt, call it self-mutilation. I call it Self-Actualization. I didn't want to leave the workout having cheated myself.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

End to an "Off Week"

Happy Easter and Welcome Back Dessert and chocolate :-)

This was a bit of a strange week as it involved my own travel, taking friends to the airport at 4am, a night of some "tummy issues" and the Buckeyes getting their ass whooped by Florida (again) in National Championship Basketball game.

For some reason, my legs felt "dead" all week so I actually skipped all speed workouts this week and did more spinning than running.

Monday: 11 Mile Run in Columbus

Tuesday: Had a Bike Fitting at Castle Hill so it involved about 25 minutes of spinning at various levels. Not a real workout I suppose.

Wednesday: Spin Class in the a.m. and Jack and Adams Core in the p.m. which was a killer this week. Lots of plank, push ups and leg lifts.

Thursday: 30 minute swim

Friday: Noon Spin Class, strength, abs

Saturday: 15 Mile Run with Gazelles. Legs felt pretty decent, but we ran slower than usual.

Easter Sunday: 35 minute run in the morning (more like a jog), 45 min. bike ride in p.m.

So far so good on the bike fit...

This week should be interesting because it's actually my first TRI of the season on Sunday! Shawn and I are doing a small sprint tri this weekend to kick off the season and get our butts in gear. Let's hope the weather improves from what we had this weekend. yikes! We also have our 80's themed couple's shower on Saturday night, so I'm quite sure that Sunday morning is going to be a challenge. I keep telling myself that it's just a short sprint tri and I can muddle my way through it if I have to.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Back from Being a Princess

Stepped back on Texas soil after three whirlwind days in Ohio! In those three days, I had my wedding shower, visited the reception bar, ran twice (total 21 miles) and hung with my Dad as he had knee replacement surgery on Monday.

It is a little ironic that I was running 12 miles the same morning he was having his knee replaced. Now, some people would say that it's a sign that I'm supposed to stop running. I see it as a sign to stay active and just take care extra precaustion. If I'm predisposed to having joint replacements, I'd rather have it as a result of being too active rather than being inactive/overweight.

I'm not even sure how to put the wedding shower into words that are comprehensible except to say that I was completely "overwhelmed" by everyone's generosity. It stems from the fact that I've been gone for nine years now and, yet, I can still come home and visit with friends and family like it was just yesterday that I left. I'm just totally humbled by the fact that people took a couple of hours out of their busy schedules to eat and drink in my honor (and watch me humiliate myself by 1.) having to go around the room and introduce EVERYONE and 2.) having to answer embarrassing questions about Shawn and 3.) having to open underwear in front of my EIGHT neices who are between the ages of 6-10. ) Believe me, I have no problem being the center of attention, but even this was almost too much!

Thank God I'm not opening lingerie in this one!

Me with my Junior Bridesmaids

(yes, I'm wearing a freaking tiara)

I hope to post pictures of all of the decorations because each table had race numbers, gatorade, water and power gels on them. Plus, they all had running shoes with rings inside (to symbolize how Shawn proposed). My cousins and sis-in-laws did not miss a single beat!!