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!!!