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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happiness is...

"Happiness is different from pleasure.
Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing."

-George Sheehan

2008 was certainly filled with it's fair share of struggling, enduring and accomplishing. And you know what? Overall, it was undoubtedly a happy year.

Our travels took us to Cabo San Lucas, The Grand Canyon, Sedona, Tempe, Phoenix, Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Venice, Lake Como , Breckenridge, San Diego, LaJolla, Santa Monica, Orange County, The Big Island in Hawaii, Washington D.C. and the great state of Ohio (:-)...

My bigger races included a duathlon, 2 Half-Ironmans, one full Marathon, one Ultra Marathon and, of course, Ironman Arizona in April. Pleasantly, I PR'ed in every one of them and set a heck of a base time to beat for my next Ironman. So yeah, I'd say through the struggling and enduring, there was also a huge sense of accomplishment. And that makes me happy.

There were a few significant losses as well. My dear friend TQ succombed to throat cancer, but left this world with a deep sense of faith and peace. We lost my sister in law to cancer last month, but she too passed with a heart full of love and gratitude. My T3 Teammate Erin died suddenly during the Dallas Marathon. While, at 29, she was way too young, there's little doubt she was happy as she was about to achieve her Boston qualifer race.


What will 2009 bring? No one knows for sure, but I'm willing to bet it will include a tremendous amount of struggling, enduring and accomplishing.

That also means that 2009 will bring with it an overwhelming amount of Happiness.

I can't wait. Cheers to 2009!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Airline Travel and Triathlon...Buckle Up Because It's a Bumpy Ride!

You plan your event months in advance and prepare for practically every scenario.

You pack accordingly and try to minimize your load for the big journey.

You know that no matter how you prepare, weather is always the one thing that is out of your control.

When you get to the race or airport, you do so with optimism that you’ll actually reach your destination in the allotted time.

Airplanes, like bicycles, are prone to mechanical issues and you handle these temporary setbacks with patience, grace, and a little sense of humor.

However, after the third mechanical or weather setback, your patience and nutrition reserves start to deplete.

You look around and notice other people who don’t seem to be having the issues you are having. In fact, they look just plain happy. How are they doing it? What are they doing that I’m not?

Race officials and airline personnel are as friendly and helpful as they can be, but they can only do so much.

When you realize you are up against the time clock, you try to revise your plan over and over. If I do this, will I finish sooner or will it screw me in the end? Should I just stick with my plan and be happy?

Ironmans and air travel don’t discriminate. Pros have crappy race days and First Class passengers also have crappy flights (they just get free wine).

There will be many peaks and valleys throughout the duration of the journey. Some moments you'll be filled with joy and optimism. Those feelings of elation can quickly give way to despair and frustration.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are the first flight or the last….It’s all about reaching your destination in one piece.

Whether you're racing or flying, all you want to do when you get home is shower and sleep in your own bed.

The memories of the journeys, both good and bad, will last a lifetime.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Always Get a Second Opinion

I've been swimming with T3 for about 1 1/2 years consistently (well...sort of consistently) and I've made some darn good improvements in that time. A 100m repeat used to take me about 2:20 and I was taking 35-40 strokes per length. No jokes. Freakin' windmill, I tell ya!
I've since gotten those 100's down to 1:55-2:00 and my stroke count is in the low to mid 20s. My endurance has also improved as I can hold that time for several repeats.

Trouble is, I've been at this plateau for several months and I'm ready for a breakthrough.

I decided to have a 30min private swim session with another Austin swim guru, Amy Marsh. Don't get me wrong...I dig my T3 coaches, but I wanted a new set of eyes to look at my stroke. Perhaps she would see something new or explain something a little differently that may click in my little peabrain.

I know without a doubt that my kick is a weakness of mine. I despise the "kick w/ board" drills and any other drill that involves feet only (without fins). She duly noted that I have pretty inflexible ankles...typical for runners. It's just hard to move fast when your feet are essentially flexed most of the time.

Other than that, everything looked pretty darn good according to her. Body Rotation...good. Arm and Catch Positioning...decent...High Elbow Recovery...good. 

Her advice?? Just Swim More. 

Damn...I was afraid she'd say that.


Heading to Ohio for a week to spend time with family, friends and food. I'm hoping to score several swims and a couple of runs while we're there (even if it is 9 degrees...ewww)

Happy Holidays to All!! 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are You Ready to Dot the M in 2009?

I Know I AM...

We've been working behind the scenes for months on what I hope becomes something big for those of us who love accomplishing great things. Marketing plans and proposals have been written and presented to those with "the power." Let's use our collective conscious to spread positive vibes to a movement that I believe has epic potential. 

Together, we can Dot the M!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One More Reason To Live Life to the Fullest

This was definitely not the post I had planned for today. In the midst of my holiday cheer, lazy Sunday and leisurely bike ride in 78 degree weather today, I learned that a T3 teammate of mine collapsed and died suddenly today during the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Erin was 29. She was married. She was at Mile 21.

No details about the cause have emerged, but it doesn't really matter what caused her tragic death at this moment. The only thing that matters is that a family is grieving and a husband has just suffered the unthinkable. 

The brief article is here.

Be safe out there my friends and continue to live life like it's the first day of your life or the last day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why I'll Never Have 6-Pack Abs

Happy Holidays at Marketing Matters!
Gingerbread houses, gingerbread cookies and other assorted cookies and treats have begun their annual infiltration into the office and into my belly!
Let the gluttony begin :-)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sunmart 50K Race Report: View from the Front and the Back!

The mystique of the Sunmart Trail Race has been captivating since I started running in Austin back in 2000. My Austin Fit Marathon Coaches would speak of this “50k Trail Race” where you receive more goodies than a six-year-old on Christmas morning. They spoke of the rest stop food that includes Oreos, Vanilla Wafers, gumdrops, M&Ms, bananas, boiled potatoes, salt and other sweet enticements, giving me a Hansel and Gretel-esque vision of this event. They also spoke of the friendly and compassionate trail racing culture.

I ran my first Sunmart 50K in 2007, as a virtual trail running novice. I showed up in my regular running shoes with my four gels and proceeded to run my way to 8th overall female and 2nd in my age group. Most importantly, I had a legitimate blast. Wait. How is this possible? How can you have fun in an ultra-marathon and still finish with a respectable time? Trail running isn’t necessarily a race. It’s an experience; and Sunmart is the epitome of this experience.

Needless to say, I’ve been excited for a while to come back to Sunmart for round two. Like last year, I had done no specific trail training. I had, however, spent 2008 training for and completing my first Full Ironman in April and training hard all summer to run a Marathon PR in October at Marine Corps. My body and mind were slightly fatigued from the intensity of the year and Sunmart provided the cure…and a great way to finish a monumental year as an average Joe (or Jane) athlete.

With my race shirt ready, we headed for our ritual sushi/vino pre-race dinner

I had been singing the Sunmart praises for months and was happy to see some other training partners from Austin sign up to join on the journey. I’m sure they grew weary of my, “I know it’s over 31 miles, but it’s so FUN” endorsements. Well, that and the, “the food and schwag are awesome!”

In case you got lost on the way

Race morning this year was the antithesis of 2007. Last year was hot and humid. This year, the air was a dry, crisp 30 degrees. Chilly, no doubt, but perfect for a long morning of running in a gorgeous state park. If there’s one way to describe the scene, I’d say “casual.” The kitchen crew cooks up biscuits, gravy, bacon, kolaches, eggs, hot cider, hot cocoa and coffee. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say we were all at a family picnic instead of a race! Athletes weren’t necessarily chugging their last sips of Gatorade or choking down the last bit of their bagel. They were sitting in the warm heated tent (thank you!) drinking OJ, eating some biscuits and gravy and chatting about whether it was a shorts or a tights day.

When we were called to the start line by the Race Announcer, I made a conscious effort to line up a little closer to the front knowing that the out and back of the first six miles allows little room to make passes without annoying other runners. My goal this year was the same as last year. Start slow and gradually build throughout the 31+ miles. I lined up with my running partners, Amy and Shellie, and we made our “start slow” pact together. Our first mile was a brisk sub 9:00. We reined it in over the next couple of miles when we hit the picturesque trail. Still, though, I was running a little faster than last year and wondering if this would haunt me later. The beauty of hovering around a 9:15 pace is that I could still converse with my friends and other runners who were on the course. Conversing is exactly what we were doing during the fifth mile when my friend Amy hit her foot on a root and went down in intense pain.

“I think it’s broken,” she grimaced. Shellie and I stopped immediately to tend to her, even though there wasn’t much I could do besides assure her that she was going to be o.k. As seconds turned into minutes, dozens of concerned runners came by, stopped, and took several moments out of their own day to express their concern. A nurse and her friend stopped to check the swelling and other friends hovered while we assessed the damage. Practically every runner gave a word or two of encouragement as they ran by. Finally, a local Huntsville firefighter came upon us and tended to her injuries. Fortunately, there was no break, but she definitely couldn’t proceed. We removed her chip and shoe while we waited for medical personnel to arrive. In true runner fashion, Amy insisted that we all continue. At this point, there truly was nothing we could do. She was in a tremendous amount of pain, but ultimately she would be fine. The gracious firefighter (I later learned his name is Norman) said he would wait with her. After several, “Are you sures?,” Shellie and I proceeded on…now much closer to the back of the pack than the front where we originated.

I suspect we lost about 8-10 minutes when all was said and done. Humorously, when she went down, I stopped my watch as if we were on a training run. It was a few minutes later that I realized, “You’re in a race, Carrie! You can’t stop your watch just because you’ve stopped running!” Needless to say, I really didn’t know where I was in the pack or what my time/pace truly was.

I did consciously pick it up over the next several miles. My comfortable 9:15 pace gave way to a few 8:15s as I began to climb through the pack on the first of two 12.15 mile loops. Dare I say the competitive spirit started to kick in just a tad at this point? Still though, the spirit and atmosphere were relaxed and casual. I can’t count the number of people who asked how my friend was doing as I made a pass. This type of fellowship and camaraderie is rare in a typical competitive road marathon. That support and encouragement only bolstered my efforts to race and finish strong.

Shellie and I ran and chatted together for the first 20 miles until recurring tummy issues forced her to hold back. Admittedly, I started counting the female competitors on a few of the “out and back” sections of the course. I remember suspecting that I was somewhere near the top 15. In another jewel of wisdom from my previous year, I just tried to remain focused and let those competitors come to me. Lo and behold, they started to and little by little I inched my way through the field with some sub-8:30 minute miles. Also, even though it pained me, I refrained as much as possible from overdosing at the wonderful rest stops. I stayed true to my gel consumption and complemented that with “fuel friendly” bananas, peanut butter, potatoes and salt at the stops. The last five miles were tough. My early surge to catch up was now catching up with me. My legs started to stiffen…not cramp…just seize slightly. I struggled on the uphills, but still felt strong on the flats and downhills. At the last count, I suspected that I was in third place and was darn close to the two in front of me. Part of my mind told me to relax and enjoy the moment. I could finish comfortably and not lose my place. Of course, the other part told me to push it to the end in hopes of making a final pass.

As fate would have it, I took a pretty rough tumble with a half-mile to go, which all but knocked the wind out of my sails. Still though, I finished with a huge smile and a solid 4th place overall (1st in my 35-39 year old age group). I thought I was in 3rd, but it turns out that the perennial winner, Wendy Terris, was so far ahead of the field that I never actually saw her on the course!

With new friend and fellow blogger Kathleen from Houston!

I was greeted at the Finish Line by my now-hobbling friend Amy and a multitude of congratulations from the volunteers. I picked up my wonderful Finisher’s jacket and chugged some chocolate milk (Nascar-style). I was still beaming when they had the Sunmart awards ceremony and I was able to pick up my Age Group trophy and $100 prize money.

Special thanks, again, to Roger Soler and his crew for another outstanding race display that keeps people coming back year after year. Also, special thanks go out to the wonderful volunteers, spectators and runners that make this such a unique and fulfilling event.

I can’t wait for 2009…and possibly a foray into the 50-mile club!

Me with running (hobbling) partner "Skud" and the Race Organizer

My bronze horse trophy and prize money! yee haw!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunmart is the BEST RACE EVER!

Hands down...Sunmart is the coolest race ever. Not only does the race schwag and food put everyone else to shame (I'm talking cool  max race shirts, hats, jackets, sunglasses, notebooks, etc), but the atmosphere and trail running culture is superior. It is a community of like minded individuals who love life, nature and have genuine care for others.  I'll be writing more about it in my race report, but I'm still learning how to walk again today!

Wendy Terris 03:53:04 (Milwaukie OR 50 K RUN F 35-39)
Mary Ross 04:43:54 (Saint Paul MN 50 K RUN F 40-44)
Liz Pinches 04:44:03 (Houston TX 50 K RUN F 30-34)
Carrie Barrett 04:48:09 (Austin TX 50 K RUN F 35-39)
Shellie Oroshiba 04:52:15 (Austin TX 50 K RUN F 35-39)
Stephanie Page 04:56:57 (Houston TX 50 K RUN F 30-34)
Marina Herrman 05:09:43 (Portland TX 50 K RUN F 45-49)
Nahila Hernandez San J 05:11:51 (Mexico DF 50 K RUN F 30-34)
Lee Neathery 05:13:19 (Houston TX 50 K RUN F 45-49)
Gina Bolton 05:14:01 (Longview TX 50 K RUN F 25-29)

4th overall Female at the Sunmart 50K and 1st in my age group (since the winner was THE WINNER)! I walked away with an infamous bronze horse trophy AND $100 in prize money for placing!

Full Race Report coming soon. Suffice to say, it's a good one!

P.S.  Thanks to Kathleen Woodhead for cheering her brains out and thanks to everyone for sharing concern for my friend Amy who dropped with a severe ankle strain at Mile 5. She's doing much better today and she will be back to avenge the course!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Caption Contest

End of....

What do you think it says???

(Saw this sign in California on Balboa Island and had Shawn's Aunt Celine snap a picture. I thought it was "pee your pants" funny even though it has nothing to do with exercise--
unless we need to run for our lives!)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sunmart 50K Trail Race...Here we Come!

Well, I definitely don't fancy myself a trail runner, but I'm set to run my second Sunmart 50k Ultra-Marathon this coming Saturday, December 6th. I had an absolute blast last year and am, once again, looking forward to hitting the Texas Trail with training partner Skud and some T3 suckers (oops-I mean teammates) ---Vegas, Katy, Charles, Jane and others who are as nutty as I am and find sadistic pleasure in running 32 miles.
The race is known for the fun schwag and the even better waterstop food (cookies, jellybeans, oreos, pbj, boiled potatoes, etc )!
Let the fun begin y'all! Hee haw! Maybe I'll walk off with another bronze horse age group award. Classic Texas Trophies :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fun at Ironman Arizona 2008


I had so much fun cheering on some friends at Ironman Arizona last weekend. Can I say that volunteering, cheering and spectating at an Ironman is so much more fun than actually DOING an Ironman?!?!

1.) You can drink...ALCOHOL

2.) You can nap in the middle of the day while everyone else in on their bikes

3.) You can leave the race site, eat lunch, take a shower, come back and STILL wait 3 hours for people to finish

4.) You can gawk and take photos of people's $10,000 bicycles

5.) You can volunteer and make everyone's else day so much better

6.) You can have salt in your nutrition, but it comes in the form of chips and salsa

7.) You can lay down in the grass and no one thinks you're bonking or dehydrated

8.) You don't have to worry about GU

The Texas Ironman Waterstop! Yee-Freakin' Haw!!

Greeting Jess after her Kick-Ass 12:18 Ironman debut!!

After 12 hours, she still has a million dollar grin!

Rhonda, Me, Catharine and Alisa with Iron-Michelle (the tan one) after her amazing 12:52 race...a 50 min PR!

Just a few of the T3 athletes and cheering squad in Tempe!

Catharine made the most amazing signs for our teammates.
The rest of us made vodka diet cokes. We helped Catharine put the signs on the course.
She helped us drink the Stoli.

Good Christian Girls

Who Am I Kidding?! While it was so rewarding to cheer this weekend, there really is no substitute for this!!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Does the "Hydro-Bike" count as a brick workout?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank You, Thank You!

Just a quick note of thanks for all of your wonderful and loving comments!  I've shared them with my brother-in-law and he is definitely comforted by your thoughts. Her Memorial Service was yesterday and there were plenty of "Steel Magnolias" moments where I laughed and cried at the same time. 

We're in CA now, but still looking forward to hitting Tempe this weekend for Ironman Arizona! Perhaps it will inspire me to get off my tush again :-) 

Went to Pilates class with Katy last week and had a blast. I'm pretty sure pilates class is another word for, "your core is as squishy as a sponge." Katy and I giggled our way through due to our embarrassing  lack of flexibility. Seriously, I'm going to continue to incorporate pilates and core into my routines. I've yet to see an overweight pilates expert!!

One of these days I'll catch up on my blog reading :-) 

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Last Hour

“Ladies and Gentleman, we are now into the 15th hour of the Ironman World Championships here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii!”

Those were fragments of Mike Reilly’s voice I was hearing from our rental car. Shawn and I were awaking from a nap in Kona. Funny, really…We were napping while 1,800 other athletes were participating in the race of a lifetime. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Instead of losing our coveted parking spot, we decided to sleep in the car for a couple of hours so that we would be awake, alert and ready to cheer those final competitors across the finish line until the bitter end. We wanted to be at the finish line for the last hour of the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Hour 16 to Hour 17…the moment of truth for so many…coming in under the wire with mere minutes or seconds to spare.

“You Are An Ironman!” was heard over and over again as I drifted in and out of sleep throughout the evening. Only, I was hearing his voice for real. Reilly really was calling out people’s names for hours on end—and never, not once, sounding weary of shouting one of the most life-changing cheers in all of sports. “You are an Ironman.”

We shuffled over to the finish line where we found a perfect spot right by the chute. A step up on a curb gave us an even better view of the “promised land.” The atmosphere was electric. Yes-it was now 11pm and we were still a little nap-dazed, but the crowd was huge and the loud music and video screens only added to the excitement. How can you not get pumped up when AC/DC is blaring over the loud speakers?! By this time, the winners Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander had both finished, showered, eaten, napped and were now at their places at the finish line to greet those who were coming across. How lucky for these “last hour” finishers to get to hi-five and hug the official champions! Kind of makes you wonder who the real champions are… Is it the guy who can finish in 8 ½ hours or the 70 year old who crosses the line in 16 ½?

The last hour of Ironman illustrated compassion, exhilarance, determination, love, support, perseverance, and faith. These competitors fought the toughest conditions, tested their physical and emotional limits, and still managed that final sprint across the finish line to now hear the ENTIRE crowd now yelling, “You are an Ironman!” The last hour didn’t discriminate. It saw the oldest finisher, a 78-year-old male, and the youngest finisher, an 18-year-old female. Both were equally inspiring. How did either of them do it? I was forever changed by that last hour and consider myself honored to have been a part of the celebration for those who conquered the achievement.

Yes, it’s true that completing an Ironman and fighting the fight up until that last hour really is a metaphor for living.

Today, my sister-in-law WON her fight against cancer and is now in the arms of the Spirit. She crossed the finish line a brave and battered soldier…exhausted and yet, complete. The last few months have been full of desperate moments followed by miraculous moments. Through it all, she continued her life’s journey when it didn’t seem possible…When the clock was against her, she kept pushing. She continued the race, even though her 140.6 miles lasted months and years at a time and were much more difficult than a few measly miles on the road. A flat tire or two set her back, but she always found the right tools and the right doctors to help her carry on through the race. Her husband and family provided her with her spiritual nutrition mile after mile. Truth be told, her attitude provided the family with much needed nutrition as well. We often forget that the spectators are more exhausted than the athlete sometimes. Like most people who have ever done an Ironman distance race, you know you can plan all you want to, but the race itself is unpredictable. Such is life…no matter how much we plan, who can predict these turns of events? You simply have to adapt your plan to live for the moment and not necessarily for the end result. Often enough, the end result isn’t what we plan anyways.

Her last hours were much like those of the Ironman athletes in Hour 16: she was surrounded by compassion, support, unwavering faith and deep, deep love. Her last hours were brave as she fought hard through the most difficult conditions. Fear gave way to peace when she realized that the race was almost complete. And now, as she crosses the finish line, I can stand with the multitudes of angels and loved ones when I say, “Monica Barrett, You are an Ironman.”

Friday, November 07, 2008

Oval Sticker Overkill!

Triathletes, Runners and Multi-Sport fanatics are anything but humble. Gosh darn it, we're proud of our achievements and we want to brag, brag, brag. Unfortunately, we're also rather smug with the multitude of oval sticker displays.
Take for instance--MY CAR (Yes, I have a toaster and LOVE IT)

Let's start with the Top:

T3: "I'm with the best triathlon team in Austin. Sorry you're not. Maybe next season...If you can catch us."

GZL: "No, it's not guzzle, contrary to what my college drinking years might imply. It means Gazelle. And if you don't know what that is in Austin, then you're clearly not a runner."

140.6: "That, my lowly 5k running friend, is the distance of an Ironman. My car might not get that good of gas mileage, but my body can. Only the best of the best can achieve this, so think twice about being a part of this elite group. Once you enter, you will never leave."

(The funny thing is that I covered up a 26.2 Boston sticker with the 140.6. How arrogant is that?! Is running freaking Boston no longer good enough for me?!? Wow...)

And my new current favorite (that will NOT make it on the car...but maybe the Vespa)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Swim Torture

I woke up this morning with the worst cramps since high school!

Felt like I weighed 300 freakin' pounds.

The thought of being in a bathing suit next to Dr. Laurie and Michelle?--downright unfathomable.

Today was Indoor Swim Torture Day with my Swimervals DVD!
"The Beauty of Swimming When You Just Can't Bear the Thought of It!"

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Little of This and a Little of That

Thanks, everyone, for your comments, messages and phone calls of congratulations to both of us since the Marine Corps Marathon. We're still coming down from that trip both physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I basically took all of last week off from early morning workouts and slept in until the sun came up (which was after 7:00am until the time change over the weekend!) It felt wonderful to wake up naturally with nowhere in particular to go and no fitness goal to achieve. Some mornings I just stretched, or went for a walk. Other mornings, I read and finally started to catch up on my blog reading.

On Saturday, I ran (or attempted to) for the first time with Thon, Richard and Amy. What a beautiful morning it was and what a blast it was to meander along the streets of Lake Austin Blvd, Scenic and Pecos with nothing but laughter, politics, and conversation (and about a 12 minute pace). The weather in Austin this time of year is absolutely spectacular...Cool sunny mornings that turn into the mid-80s by days end. It certainly is the reward for surviving the relentless heat of the summer. 

On Saturday,  Shawn and I spent a day out at Lake Austin Spa and Resort for more pampering and relaxing. Massages, foot massages, pedicures, lunch and an afternoon by the pool with a trashy book. Seriously, a Doctor could not have described better medicine than this. They even have a lap pool, which we took advantage of and swam for about 30 minutes. Nothing fancy, just some nice slow laps.  

Sunday was the day of accomplishments--doing all of those tasks we've been ignoring for the last month...organizing files, paying bills, laundry, selling crap (I mean really useful items) on Craig's List, major grocery run, cleaning the house, Goodwill run, researching some stuff on our never-ending "we need to Google that" list, and even finding time for a 6-mile jog followed by a 2 mile walk. Nice... That extra hour sure made a difference, even with the early sunset. 

I also booked a flight to Phoenix for the weekend of IRONMAN ARIZONA!!! That's right, I'm so excited to go back to the scene of my season opener and cheer on my fellow T3ers (and the 1800 others) who are going to literally smash that course to pieces! I tried to sign up to volunteer, but even that is closed. I will, however, be cheering like nobody's business for these extraordinary athletes. I'm always so inspired by the heart and will to accomplish an Ironman. There is no substitute for the work and the final payoff.

Finally, my last race of the year looks to be the Sunmart 50K Trail Race in Huntsville, Texas on December 9th. I did this Ultra last year and had a phenomenal time. Literally and figuratively. I ended up (rather surprisingly) finishing 8th overall female and 2nd in my age group. Seriously, I was just going out to run 32 miles. Never underestimate the power of starting slow...It certainly paid major dividends that day. We'll see how it goes this year. Again, it's a little bonding day with Amy and a few other T3ers who were so easily talked into doing an ultra-marathon...cuz 26.2 just isn't long enough.

Time to start easing into some cross training workouts again...I actually went to a spin class this morning at the gym. An actual spin class on a spin bike. Weird, but a good change of pace...I must admit, I was strange not hearing Coach Pain shout out some impossible cadence. Oh well...that will come later this week. I finally took the Longhorn 70.3 race number off my bike. Yep, it's been a month since I've been on it. Time to hop back in the saddle. 

Ironman CDA training is right around the corner after the holidays. Until then, I do what my heart and body tell me...not what the schedule dictates.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Same Race...Two Completely Different Marathons

What you are about to read is a true study in race psychology. I've included, in their entirety, Shawn's Race Report (first time marathoner) and my race report (marathon veteran). Both give a fascinating perspective on this sport that can bring you to your knees and keep you coming back for more.

Plus, there are some pics at the end!

HIS VERSION: Hubster's Rookie Race Report

From the picture postcard view of the sunrise over our Nation’s Capitol to the post-race beer and pizza in Georgetown, Sunday was a day I will always remember.

I spent my high school years just down the Potomac at Mount Vernon…so for various reasons, the area will always have special meaning to me. Being a son of an Army Colonel and an Air Force Major myself, I truly appreciate and understand the many sacrifices of our Servicemen and their families. As you may expect, Marines were everywhere this weekend, from the Expo to the Finish Line. Some walked with canes, some were amputees, some were scarred…all were happy to help and make us feel welcome.

I truly respect the marathon distance. I had never run more than a 10K before I met my wife three and a half years ago. Since then, I have completed 5 Half Marathons and 4 Half Ironmans. I took my training seriously (for me), making sure I got my long runs in…even if it was in California, Kona, or San Antonio. I pulled myself out of bed on the weekends at 5am so I could get my miles in before the August Austin heat set in. Despite this, I had no real Marathon time goal in mind. I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I wanted more to run a smart race and take it all in. I feared bonking and, even worse, ending up in a medical tent. I knew that would not only ruin my race day, but the gaggle of fellow runners that would be waiting for me to cross the finish line. But I knew I had to have some general time goal.

Since everyone (from Carrie to Thon to Richard) told me to go out extra slow, I decided to start with the 4:30 group and then if I felt good 8 miles or so in, I would try to move up…perhaps to 4:20. My friend Richard also was there with no time goal in mind. He wanted to enjoy the day and pay special tribute to his late step-father Bob, a veteran…even wearing his dog tags.

The first two miles felt slow…11:15 pace…but things seemed a bit hillier than advertised. We figured the elevation chart just showed the elevation at each mile, not the ups and downs between each mile marker. Oh well, "Just deal with it Shawn," I said. I surprisingly felt like I had space to run despite the mass of runners. Then came the beautiful downhill on Spout Run with the canopy of trees. Hard to believe we were only about a mile from D.C. The tranquility was only broken by the dozens of male runners peeing into the trees along the side. As we turned on to the George Washington Parkway, the route got even hillier, but it was masked by the picturesque fog rising from the Potomac. There were people dodging in and out trying to pick up a few seconds. Even a guy running barefoot. Someone was running in a Teddy Roosevelt costume (seemed to stand 10 feet tall) in honor of his 150th birthday. Richard told me those would be the same people we would pass later in the race. As we turned to cross the Key Bridge, the crowds were packed in and cheering wildly. The fog obscured all of Georgetown but the spires of the chapel. The Washington Monument and the Kennedy Center were visible off to the right. Perfect so far…except for the fact that my Garmin battery died. I had unplugged it the night before and put it next to my shirt so I wouldn’t forget it….but I guess it was still on so the battery drained overnight. Richard said no worry. He hadn’t run with a watch or Garmin in years. I hadn’t until recently. Amy always just runs as she feels. I figured I could do the math in my head and estimate my pace per mile (math geek in my younger years). The next few miles along the other side of the Potomac were a gradual downhill, but we refused to give in to the speed temptation. We went by the 10K mark at 1:06, and Richard asked whether I had ever done a 10K in that slow of a time. It was almost embarrassing, but he said we were right where we should be. We were passed by a “Just Married” couple (that was our idea dammit) and by a true runaway bride (with a veil) who was running with a vengeance…I doubt her groom ever caught up with her at that pace. A lone guy on the shoulder was leaning on his bike, holding a boom box blasting the BeeGees classic “Staying Alive.” Sweet. We did a hairpin turn about mile 7 followed by a steep uphill (we knew it was coming after the downhill segment). There were lots of people walking it, but I just kept thinking “knees up.” There was a wheelchair athlete who was inching up with the encouragement of everyone. I got goosebumps. A guy next to me said that was the last uphill and I believed him. Turns out he was basically right. I decided to pick it up a bit and run by myself. We descended into the heart of Georgetown and the frenzy was incredible. There was a young serviceman amputee who was maintaining a good pace with his metal running prosthesis. More goosebumps. We descended back down to the Potomac, under the Kennedy Center, and out the peninsula. The crowds wained along the way and the number of “walkers” increased every mile. I kept feeling strong, picking up my pace ever so slightly. The second 10K in 59 minutes! One older lady was decked out in red, white, and blue and was talking to herself and crying. Only at mile 11. We rounded the peninsula at the 13 mile marker and they were yelling that we were halfway done. I knew better. The “halfway” point was mile 20 so my “coaches” told me. My first 13.1 mile was in the bag at 2:11:54, which I was satisfied with. I was for some reason optimistic that I could continue to pick up the pace ever so slightly the second half. I had no aches or cramps…I guess that I just assumed I would by this time. I was going to take this marathon on one mile at a time though. The crowds picked up as we approached the Lincoln Memorial, zipping by the lawn of the White House, and then the Mall. Lots of high school bands (one all the way from Richmond, VA)…the weather was perfect for spectating…a bit hotter than ideal for running. I didn’t care. Every water stop I dumped at least one cup of water on my head and drank a cup or two of Powerade and water. The volunteers (most of them Marines) were awesome and very organized. Bystanders on the course offering Vaseline, Twizzlers, sweets…you name it. I rounded the Capitol with a marching band playing hip (Blink 182) music on the steps of the Grant memorial, past the Smithsonian (someone passing out Jelly Beans..they were everywhere…got one in the tread of my shoe), past the Holocaust Museum, past the Mint (no Bailout needed for me!!)…so cool I knew the ‘hood. Heard a spectator yell: “Remember why you’re running today.” I got the chills thinking about all servicemen, past and present…from my father to Richard’s late step-father to the current war casualties. Heard someone yell “Go Teddy” at the 19 mile marker…no way that costume monster could be catching me. I didn’t want to turn around to check. Feeling good even as I zipped past the 20 mile marker…the all-women drum corps on the left providing an energizing rhythm. The 3rd 10K in 58 minutes! The 14th Street Bridge was tough, but I kept pushing. A man’s shirt exclaimed that it was his 60th B-bay and his 15th Marine Corps Marathon. Inspiring. He was obviously moving at a good clip. Saw many of the people that had passed us earlier…Richard was right. Saw three Marines running with large flags up ahead and told myself I was going to catch them. And I did… as we climbed the hill of the bridge off-ramp. The next 2 miles were the out and back through the buildings of Crystal City, where the big after-party was to take place. Lots of crazed sororities and fraternities. I began to breakdown the remaining miles down into Lady Bird Lake Loops that are my everyday runs back in Austin. The 4th 10K in 60 minutes! The last 2 miles were lonely stretches of road around the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetary. I felt in control. None of the hallucinations that others talk about. My body felt great. Even had something for a sprint up the short, but steep hill (the final 0.2) to the Iwo Jima Memorial. I did it!! Time 4:17:45! I ran a race I was proud of. I only slowed down briefly to chug fluids at the water stops. I ran the whole thing, which kind of surprised me. And I negative split…running the second half 6 minutes faster than the first. Receiving my medal from a Marine Officer nonetheless and then having my picture snapped in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial was a great way to finish. And a hug and kiss from Carrie.

What’s next? Another Marathon…this one with a 9 hour warm-up (1.5 hr swim + 7.5 hr bike)…Couer d’Alene 2009, Baby….

My Version: Gunning for a 3:20

I’ve been training with a little bravado lately and I attribute that to the strength and endurance that comes with Ironman training, good solid cross-training and the always challenging core classes. For the Marine Corps Marathon, I set my sights on a very realistic 3:20 race; a far cry from my first marathon of 4:52 and a pretty lofty improvement from my most recent 3:29 almost two years ago in Dallas. Coach Gilbert warned us against Marine Corps proclaiming that it wasn’t a “PR Course.” You know what? People say that about Boston and NYC all the time and I know many people who have left them in the dust.

What made this race even more special was that Shawn was also running his first full marathon. He’s done four Half-Ironmans and several Half-Marathons. This was a natural next step (and I promise I didn’t force him into it—contrary to popular belief!)

The whole trip was totally relaxing and I had absolutely no race anxiety whatsoever. We went to the Expo (ok, a few nerves popped out here), and then spent the rest of Saturday afternoon at a sports bar watching the Texas vs. Ok St. game. Richard, Shawn, Amy and I then headed for our customary pre-race meal of sushi and wine. I know, I know…sushi the night before a race??! I tell you—it works! It’s nothing but good lean protein and carbs. I had one glass of red vino (for my heart, of course) and was back in the hotel room and in my PJS by 7:00pm. Shawn headed out to another sports bar with Amy’s husband to watch the Ohio State game. I wasn’t going to put myself through that torture, although I did watch the first quarter in my room before the Bucks fell apart again.

The race didn’t start until 8:00am so it was great getting to sleep in until 5:30am in plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, and take care of business. We walked over to Craig’s parent’s condo which provided us with the most breathtaking view of a glorious sunrise over D.C. Their condo overlooks the Washington Monument, the Capital, The Potomac, Arlington Cemetery and many other places we would be running around in just an hour or so. After a few pre-race photos, we walked over to the start line, took care of some pre-race business and then said our “goodbyes” as we all headed to our respective starting corrals.

I lined up with the 3:30 pace group. My goal was to run with them through the first 8 miles (through several climbs) and then gradually pick it up throughout the rest of the race. Piece of cake...I was also running by myself. Amy and Craig lined up behind me and had a 3:30 goal. As always, my goal was to run within myself and try not to be influenced too much by the crowds, other runners, etc.

The canon went off and I was surprised at how quickly our pace group advanced through the start line. For 33,000 runners, I expected a bit more backlog. I guess it didn’t hit me until now that most of the backlog was behind me. I was lined up with “the fast people.” (ha ha) I hit the start button on my Garmin and off we went. The first two miles are always hectic as people weave in and out of spaces in the first moments of panic. I stayed right next to or just in front of the 3:30 pace balloons. The first 3 miles did have some climbs, no doubt. They were nothing huge, but enough to say, “Good Morning Heart Rate!” It was after those first three miles that we were blessed with some major down hills and flats. Immediately, I picked up a ton of speed and went from a 7:50 overall pace to a 7:35 overall pace. That should’ve sent a signal, but it was just too darn fun and “easy” at that point. I was running completely within myself. I wasn’t cheering, talking or expending any unnecessary energy. It was all business, so to speak. I do remember seeing the sun rise and the fog settling over the Potomac as we ran along tree shaded streets with the leaves changing colors. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and gratitude at that moment. The whole world just felt so beautiful. Ironically, it was shortly after that zen moment, that I turned ugly just for a second.

I was approaching the Mile 4 water stop and veering slightly left to grab a cup. I slowed a tad, but was still chugging along when I felt a push on my back. Someone had their hand on my back and was literally pushing me over. I lost my balance slightly and dropped my water. “Mother F*cker!” I yelled at him and at no one in particular.
“Well, you’re slowing down in front of me,” this grown man said as he pushed his way by me.
“I’m at a freaking water stop,” I shouted back.
Suddenly a random voice from the surrounding pack said, “Hey-Settle down.”

Like a parent scolds their children, we were rightfully put in our place by a stranger. Indeed, we needed to be settled down as we were both a little caught up in our selfish mindsets. I saw the back of his black shirt run by me with fervor and secretly hoped that I would pass him again along the way. I don’t know if I did or not.

That’s pretty much the extent of the conversation I had on the course throughout the 26.2 miles. I regained composure and just stayed locked into that 7:35-7:37 average pace. I would see Amy’s husband at various points and he would give my time difference between me and the 3:20 pace balloons. I could see them frequently and they were no more than 50 yards away at most points. Early on, I definitely had the energy to catch them and run with them the rest of the way. However, I held back assuming I’d have plenty of energy for my finishing kick.

I wish I could say I remembered much about the course. The descent into Georgetown was cool and had plenty of crowd support. I was feeling so awesome at that point. It was Mile 8. I remember the guy on the bicycle with the boom box. When I ran by, he was playing “Beautiful Day” by U2. It was, indeed, a beautiful day. Miles 10-14 took you out on the peninsula. Not many crowds, but early enough that most of us were still feeling good. I remember the Christian Radio station had their van out there pumping some uplifting music. It reminded me of an Oprah quote after she ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1994. She said, “I don’t care what religion you are. At Mile 20, you will see Jesus!” Was I seeing him already?

I took self-inventory at the halfway mark. Totally still on target. Feeling about 75%. Hmmmm….75%. I was hoping to feel a little stronger. My legs hurt. I felt freakin’ awesome cardio-wise. Nothing strenuous at all. The 7:37s were ticking off like clock-work. My quads and hip flexors were starting to get sore. Mental note taken…

Miles 15-19 take you into the Mall area and around some of the famous monuments, or so I’m told. I think I must’ve been running with my head down the entire time because I pretty much missed all of it except for the Capital Building—which, at that point, could’ve been the White House for all I knew. Things were starting to get a little hazy as I began the mental struggle of hanging on to that pace. Literally, one minute I’d feel great and the next minute I’d want to walk. Up to that point, I hadn’t walked a step and was hoping not to. Crowds were abundant and energetic, but they were all a total blur as I focused on those 3:20 pace balloons ahead of me. Should I make my move now? No…you better wait. There’s still 8 more miles in this rodeo. Holy crap. Eight more? It was at the 18 mile marker that I began to feel a hint of the dreaded, “Oh no...you started too fast” regret. Hunker down and don’t do anything stupid. I wanted to speed up to grab onto those 3:20 pace balloons, but my legs were aching and on the verge of cramping. Every now and then I’d feel the subtle cramp twinge, but they allowed me to keep pounding away. Cardio still felt great. I could recite the Declaration of Independence if I had to (or if I actually knew it?!). Perry shouted that I was about 30 seconds back. Cool…And 8 miles to go. Surely, I’ll have that finishing kick.

I made it through the Mall area and only vaguely remember one high school band in uniform playing on some monument and some chicks playing drums. Other than that, I could’ve been running in Butte, Montana and not known the difference except for the hundreds of Marines who handed me water and Powerade every mile. Miles 20-21 absolutely sucked!! It’s the portion of the race where you enter the highway ramp and cross over the bridge from DC back to Arlington. This reduced a lot of people to walking and almost broke me. The fact that I was passing people is about the only thing that was keeping me going. It’s a long (but not steep) climb onto the bridge and then descent into Crystal City where the crowds were huge and very encouraging once again. I only wish I would’ve been able to acknowledge them with high fives and thank yous. I just used their energy to keep moving forward. Miles 22-23 were a self defeating out and back. I knew I was quickly running out of energy because I actually contemplated cheating by crossing over the median. I swear. And this is coming from a person who uses my Garmin to make sure I hit every mile to a “t.” When I say I’m going to run 8 miles. I run 8 miles…not 7.92. I was losing ground at this point and began the “you’re not going to make your goal” battle. I would look at my Garmin Avg pace…7:35, 7:36, 7:37 per mile. Still pretty damn good, but there was still two more miles.

I gotta be honest. At this point, I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to catch those darn 3:20 balloons, but maybe they were ahead of pace, or maybe I would still get that kick, or maybe it didn’t matter since I had started behind them and my chip time would still reflect MY time and not the time that THEY crossed the start line. I was confused enough to just keep pushing for the last two miles. I cared, but I didn’t care—if that makes sense. I just wanted it to be freakin’ over! Mile 25 did reduce me to a walk as we apparently ran around the Pentagon. We did?!?!!? How did I miss that one? Seriously, I had no clue that it was to my right as we entered onto the main road again towards the famous Iwo Jima Memorial. I walked and counted to 10. At 10 seconds I would start running again. My legs were toast and started that tremor feeling. As I was walking, I quietly heard a spectator say, “Finish Strong” to me. It wasn’t loud, but it felt full of compassion. It seemed like he almost said it with some apprehension too, like he expected me to haul off and punch him. For some reason, that had an impact on me and I started running/jogging that last mile. “Finish Strong” became my mantra with each step as I ran that last mile as quickly as I could before the cramps got the best of me.

We made the final left turn and the finish line is an uphill to the memorial. My quads started to cramp as soon as I tried to accelerate. I walked for two seconds, but the crowds were deafening and so encouraging. They were not going to let me walk. And I didn’t. It wasn’t a finishing kick, but I looked at that watch when I crossed the finish line and it said 3:20:58…59…3:21:00.
When I hit stop, the Garmin read 3:21:01, with an average pace of 7:39 per mile at 26.23 miles.

The website has my official chip time at 3:23:05, so there’s still some confusion and debate. Regardless, it was an effort in which I couldn’t be more proud.

Check this out:

16th out of 1148 in my age group! (W 35-39)
86th Female overall out of 7156!
812th Place overall out of 18,296 Finishers!!


It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to dig through. To say it was “fun” is a misstatement. It was work…with a monumental payoff. I do think it’s unfortunate that my eyes missed so many of the wonderful sites, but this race was never about that for me. In hindsight though, if I ever go back, I’ll make up for that and relish every little moment! It was so much fun, however, being with Richard, Amy and Craig who have the most upbeat attitudes. Of course, the stellar day was only topped off by seeing Shawn finish his first marathon with his trademark smile.

Hubster and Carrie Post-Marathon Bliss!

Watching the sunrise in DC before the Marathon. It was a glorious day!

(from left: Richard, Shawn, Carrie, Mark, Amy, Craig)

This is what it's all about! We all finished happy and healthy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon

Avg Pace: 7:39
Distance: 26.23 miles

Quick update from the iPhone since I don't have laptop access.

This marathon is absolutely spectacular from start to finish. The image of the morning fog on the Potomac will remain with me forever.

In a nutshell, I ran spot-on 7:36 pace until Mile 21 and then I hung on for dear life. According to the Garmin above, I ended with a 7:39 average pace and final time of 3:21:01. However, it took me a couple of secs to stop my watch at the finish. Right now, the official results have me at 3:23:05, but I'm hoping it's the unadjusted time. Either way, I still had a fantastic day and major PR from my previous 3:29.

Plus, the topper of the day is Shawn who blasted a 4:17 First Time marathon!!! He even ran a great negative split.

Overall, perfect day, weather and results. I highly recommend this race if you get the chance!

P.S. I did update some photos to Facebook. If you're a member, come be my friend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Skinning that Cat

Well, I'm five days out from the Marine Corps Marathon, so you know what that means... I'm feeling fat, gooey, restless and a wee bit congested. Perfect. My taper is right on target.

Now, the fun part is to strategizing how to get to that magical mark of 3:20. I could run even splits with the 3:20 pace group, but I've tried that in the past with little success. I could start blazing fast and build up a lead on the 3:20 group, but we all know where that will lead me...straight to the medical tent. I could start with the 3:30 pace group for the first 2-3 miles and then kick it in from there. Or, I could follow some mathematical negative-split formula like the one outlined below and hope that science proves more powerful than sore feet or GI disturbances.

Truth is, I really don't know how I'll get there just yet, but I know that I've done the work (and then some) to do it. My mind doesn't work analytically because my emotions get in the way. To me, a display of heart, passion and determination far supercede any set of numbers or splits I could ever throw out there. I will say this: I'm looking so forward to running this race with Shawn, Amy, Richard ,and my new Gazelle buddy Craig. That experience will be far greater than any time goal, especially in our nation's Capital City. I'm sure our forefathers never had a marathon in mind when they were fighting for our pursuit of happiness!

I'm not one for numbers, but I will throw a few of them out there:

* This is Shawn's FIRST marathon! (and the stadium crowd roars!!!)

* Current Weather Forecast for Sunday: low 50/high 69 (could be a factor if it gets warm!)

* My race # 23453

* Shawn's race # 23645

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Circle of Life on a Dirt Track

Back to reality after another week of fantasy-world in Hawaii. I almost feel like I was in school this week. Like I should've been taking notes on how to live, eat, sleep, train, worship and exist in this fragile life. The Big Island will do that to you as anyone who has ever been there can attest. This is one of the few places on earth where you can visit a living rainforest and then get swallowed by a dried lava field within just a few miles.  I saw a smoldering erupting volcano right before my eyes and swam with turtles, dolphins, eels and Ironmen. I saw white sand beaches, green sand beaches and black sand beaches.  My senses were heightened from day one on this trip, where I always return just a little different from before. 

Inspiration is easy to find ANYWHERE as long as you are open to it. Case in point. Shawn and I googled "Kona High Schools" in hopes of finding a local high school where we could bang out some Yasso 800s before our big Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. I felt like I needed some speed work to release some remnant gunk from the Longhorn 70.3 and our long run in Kona. We found a high school with an old dirt track...no lanes...no fancy synthetic rubber surface ....just some loose gravel 1/4 mile round surrounded by a football field...far from inspirational. It was the two of us and another "older" couple out for their morning walk-or so we thought.

We warmed up for a mile and some random idle chatter with the couple. Shawn and I then began our respective repeats. He was doing 3:45s-3:55s and I was between 3:15-3:20 for our 800s. We knocked the first few off systematically. It was freakishly humid and hazy (from the vog no doubt--damn erupting volcano).  In between sets, we would take a 2:00 min rest. It was during these rest breaks that we starting talking a little more to the couple who was there still banging out their laps. 

Come to find out:

1.) They have a daughter who lived in Austin right down the road from us and worked at Castle Hill Fitness.

2.) I happen to know of her daughter because she's great friends with my running partner Amy.

3.) Their daughter (Kristen) and her husband moved to Ohio a while ago--they were shocked that I seemingly pulled that one out of nowhere. (because being an Ohio native I'm supposed to know everyone) :-)

4.) Fortunately, she's moving back to Austin soon!

5.) The couple we chatted with, Mr. and Mrs. McCary, moved to Kona in the 80's because they both competed in Ironman and fell in love with the sport and the island.

6.) Their family is the first family to ever qualify and race in the World Championships together! How cool is that?! Well, it's so cool that they wrote a book about it. It's a book that Mr. McCary just happened to have in his car and he so graciously signed and gave us a copy that day on the track.  

As we all know, Ironman is a family that is more close-knit than most traditional families. The gift of that book sent goosebumps down my spine, more so than the dehydration of knocking 10 x 800s between 3:13-3:26. Seriously, it's those serendipitous moments that make me look up to the sky and say, "I'm listening."  I've started the book and know it will be a quick read packed full of inspiration, love, heart and advice. Not that I needed any more coercion to want to race in Kona someday, but this couple's spirit and kindness only solidified what I already knew. Ironman is so much more than 17 hours of self-inflicting, selfish torture. It's opening yourself up to more love, strength and courage than you ever thought possible...and it doesn't matter if you finish in 8 hours or 16 hours 59 min. 

If you're interested in purchasing the book, please send him an email at: patmccary@aol.com
It chronicles his love and passion for Ironman and how it has influenced his family through the years. Hello--Holiday gifts!

Please let them know that you heard about his book from Carrie whom he met on the Kona Track running around in circles. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When is Enough Enough??

On Sunday, October 12th, Shawn and I decided to head out on the infamous Queen K highway in Kona for a 14 mile out-and-back run that included the Natural Energy Lab.  While we were running along reading the chalk-strewn names all along the highway ("Go Macca" was a bit surreal), we noticed something...a LOT of athletes from the day before riding their tri bikes. Now, how did we know that these were competitors from the day before?? Most were still sporting their race number on their bikes and the all-too obvious orange competitor wrist bands. C'mon people--take a feakin' day off!! You just raced in the World Championships YESTERDAY. Have a sandwich. Screw it-have a BEER! Sit on the beach and swim with the turtles. You're in freakin' Kona! It won't kill you, will it?!   Yes, I know there's some literature that tells you that it's good to spin the legs the day after a race, but some of these dudes were dropping the hammer. If nothing else, it further supported my assertion that endurance athletes are a hapless bunch of addicts.

So, who am I to talk? It was my idea to run along the zero-shaded, lava rock-coated pavement of the Queen K and Natural Energy Lab roads. I'll say this--83 degrees with no humidity may exist somewhere in Kona, but not on that part of the island. I absolutely have a newfound respect for the super crazy competitors...so much so that I would LOVE to do this race someday in that same crazy way that people want to jump out of planes and run the Badwater Ultra Marathon. Kona Lottery and all my fingers and toes crossed...here I come!

The run basically ate me for lunch after Mile 13. Of course, we didn't have enough water. Actually, we did, but one of the bottles we stashed on the Energy Lab had conveniently disappeared when we got there. Damn...I averaged 9:13s on the way out and 8:40s on the way back---until I bonked (conveniently in front of the Tesoro gas station). Fortunately, it was only a mile out so after a bottle of cold water, I walk/jogged the rest of the way as Shawn passed me and took it home. 

The rest of the week is being sufficiently and self-indulgently filled with sun, beaches, snorkeling, hiking, waterfalls and other "marathon taper" activities...(read: drinks at the Four Seasons, brews at the Kona Brewing Company, Picnics on the beach). Yep--that's right--I've got a Marathon in D.C. in 1 1/2 weeks.  Don't worry...I've had a couple of good runs here. We are staying at the bottom of an 18% grade hill after all...More on that later.  Until then, more random pictures...I also realized how small my race pics were so I'll repost them soon so that you can actually see some of the competitors (and their lovely compression socks!)  Note: Neither of the winners were sporting the compression socks--'nuff said.  (I'll probably have 3 pair by next year)

With Tri-Stud couple Greg and Laura Bennett

Ever wonder how they do the gear count each year? Yep--a bunch of people with notebooks counting wheels, pedals, bikes and every other component. Not too scientific, eh? By the way, Cervelo was huge.

The only people eating these cookies were those NOT doing the race.

Shawn has a fever for more IM cowbell!

Look out Kona, here I come (someday)! 
With Ironman Coeur D'Alene around the bend, Shawn is officially an 
"Ironman Athlete in Training!"

View from our condo in North Kona! Multiple fruit trees in the foreground and ocean beyond.

While the Ironman athletes were on the bike, we headed to the nearest bar to watch the Longhorns beat the Sooners!

At the stroke of 9:42am, we had our one (and only) shot of the morning to celebrate the Longhorn victory--at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company ;-)

Carrie, Shawn, Jack and Cassie cheering for the Jack and Adam's Austin triathletes! 
(and the Horns)

For the love of God, I need a pedicure (and a Corona, apparently)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Race Day Pics in No Particular Order

Austin Pro James Bonney 
Austin Pro Pat Evoe sportin' the Little Caesar's Race Kit

Craig Alexander coming across the finish

Chrissie Wellington acts surprised that she won by over 10 minutes!

Wellington and Mike Reilly

Couldn't resist the socks photo

Pat Evoe from Austin (and J&A Corture Coach)

Wellington at Mile 1 of the marathon...piece of cake

Austin Pro Desiree Ficker in the early portions of the bike

Badmann always with a smile
...so close and yet so far away...

Sindballe was first off the bike. That lead didn't last long.

Stadler and Lieto were on his heels...both would eventually fade.
James Bonney with a great stride at Mile 1

How does Faris Al-Sultan not chafe??