About Me

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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Why am I doing an Ironman, you ask??

I figured since I didn't have a kid by the age of 35, I should just go ahead and do something that is just as painful and self-destructive.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

T-Minus Two Weeks!

The energy is freaking palpable! I can feel it with each and every T3 teammate and coach I've trained with for the last 6 months. We're tired, giddy, restless, slap-happy and in serious need of finding an outlet for all of this pent-up energy we've been saving.

On Friday night, we had a team meeting to go over all of the ins and outs of our taper, pre-race preparation, race day and course details. Chrissie and Mo were awesome at explaining everything and answering the silly questions all of we first-timers have like, "What do you put in a special needs bag?" and "Is it possible to pee on the bike?" They had videos and photos from the course and imparted such great wisdom (and humorous stories) from the past three years of doing Ironman Arizona.

Some of the most important pieces of advice weren't even actual strategies. They were things to remember when your mind goes ape-shit numb.

1.) You will hit at least 10 highs and 10 lows during the course of the day. I mean, c'mon, we're talking about 12-15 hours of non-stop physical activity. I get tired and cranky when I sit at my desk and surf the net for 6 hours. I can only imagine what my body and mind will be telling me after 6 hours of being on a bike and 3 hours of running. Their advice: Ride the waves and know that a low point will be followed by a high point. Just keep digging...

2.) Don't let anyone other than a race official stop your race day. Again, it goes back to the point above. There will be times you may want to quit. You may feel nauseous. You may feel weak. You may get 10 flat tires. All of these things are temporary set-backs. Just relax, rest by the side of the road if necessary and then proceed when you can. Only let a race official or a medical person be the one to tell you to stop. Ignore your inside devil voice and tell it to kiss your Ironman ass! (they didn't actually say that. That was my addition)

3.) Only focus on what you are doing. When you're swimming, don't think about the 112 mile bike ride you have to do. When you're riding, don't think about the impending marathon. Yeah--easier said than done. What the hell else am I going to think about when I'm on the bike all freaking day?

4.) Of course...the bottom line through all of this...HAVE FUN! Not only am I going to have 20+ teammates out on the course, but my parents, my husband, Richard, Stephanie, Thon and Amy are also going to be there causing quit a stir. Believe me, spectators will know who Carrie "Tri to be Funny" Barrett is after this event!

Saturday, March 29th Rosedale Ride
This ride has unofficially become one of Shawn and my "date rides" that we like to do together. Last year, I was hating life and hating the ride. I barely made it through 40 miles.  Throughout this training, I've constantly questioned my cycling strength. I mean, am I really getting stronger? Sure, my endurance is peaking at the moment, but could I really go out and ride fast if I wanted to? How do I compare with others who haven't been training for the last 6 months? Well, now I know.  Shawn and I started with the masses at 8:30am and we were riding the 63 mile loop. (Some of T3 started earlier, but we really wanted to ride with everyone else and enjoy the rest stops, etc).  The goal today was to ride comfortably, with a couple of race pace pick-ups during the ride.  For the first time ever, the wind-gods were cooperating at Rosedale and it wasn't that bad (relatively speaking!) Immediately, I noticed how effortlessly I was riding compared to others and I wasn't even attempting to go fast.  What used to be considered major hills climbs, felt like small rollers. The training has paid off in a big way. We stayed between 15-15.5mph for most of the ride until I started to pick it up towards the end (and the help of a wonderful tailwind). I had some great conversations out there with other riders and even got a "tri to be funny" shout-out at one of the rest stops! (Whoever you were--thanks for making my day) :-)  I ended the ride at a very easy 16.3 mph and again, I didn't push it at all. I'd say my perceived effort as a whole was a "6" on a scale of 1-10...So, I answered my question. Yes, I'm MUCH stronger than I was a year ago.  Thanks T3. Those indoor training sessions are freaking awesome.

Sunday, March 30th 13 mile Run
A couple of days ago, I wrote that I was also going to swim this morning at Barton Springs. However, after our team meeting on Friday night, I decided not to do it. I realized all I was trying to do was add an extra workout to make up for one of my sick days. I was trying to "get my hours in" for the sake of doing so...not the smartest thing right now. Less is more. Besides, I've done enough long open water swims. I know it's in the bag. One more is not going to make or break it. 

Soooo...with that being said, I set off with Shawn this morning for my 13 mile run. It took a couple of miles to shake the cobwebs loose, but it ended up being a great run despite the fact that the humid skies opened up to a heavy downpour. Plus, the Capital 10k was also going on, so I kept getting views of the thousands of people who were running this annual event.   I averaged an 8:36 pace for the entire run and that includes water breaks where I kept my watch running.  My running is right where I want it right now for the marathon.

Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 8:41
Mile 3: 8:42
Mile 4: 9:05
Mile 5: 8:41
Mile 6: 8:34
Mile 7: 8:53
Mile 8: 8:22
Mile 9: 8:17
Mile 10: 8:18
Mile 11: 8:24
Mile 12: 8:07
Mile 13: 8:23
Mile .37 : 8:04 pace

All is well...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Slug

I might be a slug right now, but I'm a happy slug! You know why? Because I'm actually physically able to move again! I went to my first T3 workout last night and got the blood and sweat flowing again.

My spin performance was a little pathetic, but I held on for the entire 1.25 hours. I started with a VERY SLOW 15 minute jog. Wow...What a difference a week makes in your energy level. It was like learning to run again for the first time. Once I returned to the Training Center, I jumped in on the 30 minute core workout held before spin class. Finally, I hopped on the bike for our workout. I had to kick it down a notch because my legs were a little "dead." I guess 6 days of dehydration and no "real" solid food will do that to you. In any case, it felt wonderful to be back among my tri-peeps. It was even more wonderful when Coach Chrissie had the Arizona and Galveston Tri people doing shorter sets than others because of our taper :-)

This morning, I went to Barton Springs and had a very solid swim! I'm consistenly in the 2:05-2:08 range, which is a far cry from where I was a year ago...or even 6 months ago. In fact, once I return and recover from IM, I can't wait to focus a little more on swimming because I continue to grow more and more comfortable in the water.

This weekend, Team T3 is doing the 65 mile Rosedale Ride on Saturday and my plan for Sunday is another Barton Springs swim followed by a 13 mile run.

Special shouts out to those doing the Galveston Tri this weekend. Kick some butt!!! I also want to acknowledge another T3 Teammate, Karen "Underdog" Underwood, who found out yesterday that she can't do IMAZ. In a freakish moment, she literally threw her back out because of a coughing fit. She can barely walk at the moment and the doctor "pulled the plug" on her race. What's most devastating to me about this is that Karen has THE BEST attitude of anyone I know with regard to the training. From the beginning, her calm and relaxed demeanor was a welcome relief to all of the usual compulsive, type-A behavior. Her goal wasn't to "race" IM. It was to enjoy the experience. She wasn't out to set any records or pass people. She was out to have fun. She and I were swim lane mates for most of the season and I was and am drawn to her positive attitude. She will be sorely missed on the course, but she's still making the trip to cheer us on! (in true Karen style)

The moral of the story is: DO NOT COUGH FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Forced Taper...or Tapeworm!! :-)

Your comments and emails are so appreciated. Thank you. They have helped so much over the last couple of days.

Now for the quick update--it's NOT a tapeworm!

Sunday, Monday and yesterday morning were awful. Nothing was staying in my body and after 5 days of no rest and plenty of dehydration, I was scared. I finally succumbed and went to see the Doctor yesterday. As I mentioned, I was taking some antibiotics, but I was only getting worse. Now I know why.

After doing some blood work, they determined that my illness was viral and not bacterial. Therefore, as the doctor put it, taking antibiotics with a virus is like "throwing kerosene on a fire." Each time I took the antibiotic, I was decreasing the chances that the bacteria in my body would be able to resist them. So, I immediately stopped the antibiotics and guess what? My body started to calm down a little. Plus, during the last couple of days I was also trying to eat because I knew I needed calories. That was also a mistake. Any form of food was just stoking the fire.

For the next few days, I'm on what is called the BRATT diet.  First of all, yesterday all I was able to eat (drink) was broth, water, gatorade and other clear liquids (not vodka, damn it!).  It's amazing because I haven't had much of an appetite since Friday, but when someone tells me that I'm not allowed to eat, suddenly I could chew the leg off of a skunk I'm so hungry!  

The BRATT diet starts today--Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, Tea....mmmmmmmm  Yes, I'm two years old.  Tomorrow, I get to add chicken soup. I know you're jealous.  

Oh yeah--training is also out for the next couple of days. Believe me, I haven't had the energy or even the inclination to attempt a real workout. In fact, today I may get really crazy and go for a walk!!  I'm ok with it, but know that I'm just really weak right now. That makes me a little nervous, but I should be able to get out there next week and hit a couple of short quality workouts. As Greyhound said, "the hay is in the barn." Hell, this forced taper was probably the best thing for me. I just wish it didn't rob me of much-needed nutrients and muscle mass two weeks before I need all of the nutrients and muscle mass I can get.

Oh yeah--I'm 5lbs down from Friday. Of course, most of it is as a result of dehydration, but I can't deny that it was fun seeing that number on the scale as temporary as it may be!

Again--thank you for hanging with me! I'm getting better and my attitude is still so incredibly positive. Believe me, I've been doing a lot of mental training!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Seriously, WTF?!?!!?

So, when I last left you on Friday afternoon, I was in a blissful state of post-exercise euphoria. I had completed a tough brick workout and was preparing for a relaxing Easter weekend with friends and family.

And then...

Six hours later I was sick as a dog and throwing up every hour from about 9pm-5:30am. I had tried to have dinner with Stephanie and Shawn on Friday evening, but could barely hold my head up long enough to even contribute to the conversation.

On Saturday, the only thing I managed to do was toast a muffin and try to drink water. I was tired, listless, weak and dehydrated from wretching all night long. I literally didn't have the strength to walk upstairs or even get off the couch for that matter. By early afternoon, our living room had become a triage. Two liters of saline later and it still took me over three hours to pee! We were supposed to be going to San Antonio, but I was stuck in my comatose-like state. We attempted to watch some TV on Saturday night, but I dozed off on the couch at 9pm.

Gotta love an unexpected i.v. needle!

The saline bag hanging from our back door

That face-down blob wearing the pink shirt/maroon shorts is me.
Of course, our cat Brutus is laying on me like usual.

I awoke Sunday morning and felt only slightly better. I was still just so weak. I slept in the car on the way down to San Antonio, vaguely remember church and definitely wasn't good company at brunch since I spent most of it in the bathroom. My dear patient husband had given me some wonderful anti-nausea meds and it helped so much. Unfortunately, the poison that was in my body had moved from my upper GI down to my lower GI. (I spare all of the details) It's sufficient to say that my body was still in revolt and trying to get rid of whatever it picked up by any means necessary.

Once back at my in-laws, I just went to bed for a few hours. My frequent bathroom trips were at least humorous and had lost their embarrassment hours before. Fortunately, my Mother in Law also had some prescription immodium and other drugs which helped tremendously. (this family is prepared for ANYTHING!) I couldn't help but laugh when I was laying on the couch and my tummy was churning, gurgling and growling like an alien. There was nothing discreet about it.

To this moment, I have no earthly idea what happened or what is going on with my body. (Although, the post-workout chicken burrito is the only thing concrete I can point to that may have been the culprit). I was doing fine and then WHAM!!!

Thank God it happened with three weeks to spare! I still have zero energy right now so I'm just going to lay low and see what the rest of the week brings. I'm definitely not pushing it at this point.

Until then, time to rehydrate!

Friday, March 21, 2008


No, 40-13 are not my new body measurements. Although a 40" chest and 13" waist is total porn-star material!!
40-13 is my brick assignment for the weekend.

A 40 mile bike ride followed by a 13 mile run.

Because I'm heading out of town on Saturday morning, I wanted to get this brick done on Friday so that it would be behind me--worry free--for the weekend. It was also the perfect opportunity to ride one 37 mile loop of the AZ course again on the Computrainer.

I met Valerie at the T3 Training Center bright and early this morning. She had just finished her open water swim and I was bricking with my 13 mile run after the ride. Coach Maurice got us set up, calibrated and ready to go on the trainers. Now it was up to the two of us to just settle in for 2+ hours and establish some level of speed and comfort. The computer and trainer did the rest.

I rode this loop a few weeks ago with Katy and was surprised at how hard it was. Truly, I didn't expect to struggle as much as I did. My goal for today was to just better myself from that first ride three weeks ago and leave enough in the tank for the run. I immediately kicked it in to gear and worked on my cadence--trying to keep it around 95rpms. I felt good until about 1hr 20min into the ride when I started to fade slightly. I could tell I was getting restless as my form was starting to fatigue slightly. Plus, it's hard to deny the competitive nature of having another cyclist's information in full view. What was once close to a 1 mile lead on Val diminished. She was hammering the second half of the course. I clearly pushed it a little too hard on the first half.

The good news was that I was doing and feeling SO MUCH better today than three weeks ago overall. On the last seven miles, I just remained comfortable and didn't try to push it. My avg. speed was still going up, but I wasn't working nearly as hard to keep it there. I also wasn't mashing the pedals. In fact, I had it in the small chain ring and was spinning at a pretty high cadence. Afterall, I still had a 13 mile run to accomplish. Val actually caught up with me and ended up passing me at the end. We still finished about .10 mile apart, but it's a great testament to her strength and riding ability.

So, here are my results comparisons:
February 29th
37 mile Computrainer loop
Total Time: 2:10
Avg. watts 124
Avg. HR 160
Avg. cadence 92
Avg. speed 17.1 mph

March 21st
37 mile Computrainer loop
Total Time: 2:04
Avg. watts 136 --more power this time!
Avg. HR 154
Avg. cadence 96
Avg speed 17.6 mph --woo hoo

From start to finish, it was a much better ride today!

So, my biggest mistake was not taking in enough calories on the bike ride prior to my run. I was sipping perpetuum, but I only finished about half of my bottle and I really needed to finish the whole thing. I burn 450 cal/hr, which means I need to replenish about 300 cal/hour. During the entire ride, I probably only had about 200 calories total.

It's no surprise that I was already hungry when I started my 13 mile run. I had 3 clif blocks, but it certainly didn't satisfy the hunger. Plus, I only brought one gel with me so I had to be very conscious of my body. I stopped at all of the major water stops to make sure I was at least hydrated. I started conservatively, but picked up the pace quickly and effortlessly. I just couldn't stop focusing on my hunger. Fortunately, I had my gel at Mile 8 and that helped a ton. I knew I would finish. The trail was packed today (I had run 2 miles from the training center down to the trail) thanks to the Easter holiday...not to mention the near-perfect temps of low 70s with a slight breeze! By the time I was beginning the final two uphill miles back to the center, I was cruising along at a nice pace. Still, I wish I had packed more food. It was certainly not enough and my tummy was grumbling. I couldn't wait to get to that parking lot! One final push...hit the stop button...

13.1 miles
Avg pace: 8:35 per mile!!

I'll put my mile splits in later. The garmin is in the car at the moment.

Hell yes! Awesome pace following an awesome training ride. What a great way to start a holiday weekend with Easter brunch on the horizon.

Tomorrow morning, I just have to do another 40 mile bike ride and then we're heading to San Antonio for the weekend. A little over 3 weeks to go!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Now the Real Training Continues...

It's constant...
It's everywhere...

The race is on my mind damn near from the second I wake up to the moment I go to sleep (and many sleeping moments as well). How could it NOT be? I train first thing in the morning. Every meal is tailored towards performance (except the M&Ms and wine). I train most evenings. I enjoy dinners with Shawn, but both of our heads hit the pillow at a reasonable hour as he is up at the same time I am most days. I update my training log. I talk with other athletes. I read blogs and magazines. Our pantry is stocked with power gel, perpetuum, endurox, clif blocks and other endurance nutrition.

The physical part of the preparation is winding down and now it's time to continue training the mind. Everywhere I turn, there are reminders and affirmations of this event. I visualize success and I emphasize that success at every turn I take.

Our shower gel is Zest "Marathon!"

That bumper sticker has sat on my bathroom counter for the last 9 months greeting me with hope, encouragement and excitement. (The blingy ring isn't so bad either) :-)

My Ironman coffee is in the kitchen.

Plenty of night-stand reading material

Smack dab in the middle of my comfy fleece robes is an Ironman Wetsuit making an appearance

Of course, the obligatory triathlete mag bathroom reading material

(sorry folks, they're pretty much all mine too!)

Most women apply lipstick and makeup in their car. I apply Swimmers Ear, multi-vitamins, goggles and cycling helmets. No change in those cupholders...

I'm also creating "visual boards" at work. My desk is filled with stickers and medals.

So, there you have it! A day in the life of someone who is getting ready to complete their first Ironman in 24-days!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Three-Ring Circus Weekend!

Ladies and Gentleman!

Step right up for the "Ironman Training Circus Adventure!" (Otherwise known as our Saturday bike ride). Experience thrills of a lifetime on this epic 115 mile journey!

You'll witness crashes, tumbles and heroic efforts of those who refuse to quit.

You'll experience the "demon drop" of pedaling at a cadence of 120 and going 30mph one minute and then 9mph the next as soon as you turn the corner.

You'll see acrobatics of those who tumble over handlebars.

You'll witness people that can change flat tires in the blink of an eye.

You'll ride along with people who are sick (mentally and physically) and yet determined to finish the last key ride before Ironman!

Such was our Saturday T3 ride and last century ride before Ironman! It was a gorgeous morning and great day to be out cycling, but it ended up being a strange ride indeed. Up until Mile 65, we were averaging over 18mph. The wind was coming from the North so we definitely felt the benefit of the tail wind heading towards San Marcos. It was the "slap in the face" on the way back towards Austin that served as a grim reminder of what is probably to come during IMAZ.

I faired well during the ride, but others didn't have the same luck. There were a couple of minor back crashes that led to broken elbows and severe road rash. Katy had a flat tire about 70 miles into the ride, but had it changed in a matter of minutes.

It was a such a good indication of how my race will go in less than a month. The damn coaches encouraged us to do 115 miles! Yes, you read correctly. The IM bike is 112 miles, but we sucked it up and completed 115.2 miles according to Katy's odometer (mine read 114.7. I like hers more) We were exhausted, hot and completely worn out, but we both felt so great knowing what we had achieved. My speedometer had us at a final average of 16.8 mph for the ride and hers read 16.6. Either way, this is exactly where I want to be for the race. Not too fast and not too slow...just a steady effort that will keep me confident and capable of running a marathon afterwards.

As much as I didn't want to, I quickly loaded my bike, slipped on my running shoes and went for a 30 minute run off of the bike. Surprisingly, it felt great! (getting my ass and vah-jay-jay off the saddle certainly helped after 6:45 hours) With the exception of being a bit thirsty (it was close to 90 degrees yesterday), my legs and lungs were rarin' to go. I did my usual 30 minute Circle C loop for 3.5 miles--8:23 pace!! Woo Hoo!! Awesome pace after 115 miles of riding! It's definitely a lot faster than I plan to go during the marathon, but I'm happy I still had it in me.

As I'm prone to do, I went out to celebrate my awesome training day at Mandola's Italian Market with Shawn, Richard and Stephanie. We shared a pizza and I slammed on some gnocchi pasta and a couple of glasses of red wine. YUM! (oh yeah--and some gelato)

Sunday, March 16th

My body had atrophied overnight! I woke up naturally around 8am this morning with my cat Brutus totally sleeping on my back. I could barely move! Last night, I had visions of starting my long run at 8am. Oh well...I clearly needed the rest. It was my last 16-mile "long" run before the race. Sometimes I take for granted that my body will just do what I tell it to do. My quads felt trashed and my tummy was in slight revolt from dinner/dessert/wine from the night before. I was honestly questioning whether or not I could accomplish this run. I know that if I didn't have this looming obligation (and guilt), I probably would've blown off the run and taken the scooter down to Mozarts for some coffee on this leisurely morning. Alas, at 9am, Shawn and I left the house and ran the mile down to the Hike and Bike Trail. My plan was to do two 7 mile loops. Shawn would run one of those with me. Immediately into our run, we saw plenty of T3 teammate jerseys, making me even more jealous that they appeared to be finishing their first loop and I was just starting mine. Shawn and I kept the pace at a very comfortable 9:00min per mile. I finished my first loop, chatted for a minute with Joe and Coaches Mo and Logan (who were finished!), kissed my husband goodbye and started on the final 8 miles. Again, my HR was comfy, but my quads were feeling it big time. I still think running the marathon immediately following the bike ride will be easier than running on "dead" legs the day after. Still, I consciously put myself in race mode and gradually started picking up the pace. I put myself mentally on the course and began running a virtual marathon. I swear at one moment I didn't even recognize where I was running because I was "in the zone." So while I was tired and sore, I was still aware that I was one step closer to crossing the finish line. I could hear the cheers. I could taste the chicken broth and flat coke (that I'm sure I'll need). With two miles left, I felt the frustration of being so damn close and yet so far away. When I hit my driveway, it was 16.1 miles of running and a final average pace of 8:42 per mile. YES!! Now, that's what I'm talking about. A great accomplishment and a huge negative split for the run.

When I came in the house, the cold bath water was running so that I could soak my aching legs.

I learned SO MUCH from this weekend's final long push. I put in close to 21 hours of training this week. My most ever. 4 runs, 3 swims, 3 bikes and 1 hour of core.

I learned I am capable of breaking many barriers I didn't think I could ever break. I have done the work and now the taper can officially begin!!

Hot damn and hallelujah!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ironman Swim

See that person hiding underneath the tree on the bottom left hand side? Do you see her? No? Well, me neither, but that WILL be me on race day as I patiently wait for the fast swimmers to start their 2.4 mile journey. I'll file in behind them and hopefully feel the draft tidal wave as I begin my own odyssey.

Today's 2.4 mile uninterrupted swim at Barton Springs was a very comfortable 1: 25:18 . (2:07 pace) Only a few "sloppy" moments, but totally in control of stroke and breathing the entire time.

Last year, I was doing each lap in about 10 minutes which would've garnered me a 1:40:00 at best. Sometimes, it's hard to see how far you've come until you look back. I always said I just wanted to be an average swimmer. I just wanted to be able to hold my own in this distance.

I'm doing it.

Less than a month to go.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Photographic Self-Portrait of my Stomach

Anyone got any food? It's been 45 minutes since my last meal and I.AM.STARVED!

It's my last official Hell Week for the IM Taper Begins!! My T3 Teammate Michelle made a funny observation yesterday. She said she can totally tell who the IMAZ athletes are right now because we're all grumpy, tired and on the verge of complete burnout. I was *thisclose* to skipping my core/cycling workout last night. It was sunny and 70 degrees and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the equivalent of a dark, sweaty warehouse and train like an animal. I was having an internal temper tantrum of a 5-year-old.

"I don't wanna go," my mind said.

"I know, I know," my conscious mind said back. "I'm not in the mood either. It's a perfect Austin day, the SXSW music festival is kicking into gear and there are a million other places I'd rather be. However, we only have a few more days in the trenches. Suck. it. up."

I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, March 11th
5:45am 1.5 hour Swim Workout (3200m) and then an evening 30-min core class followed by 1.5 hours of my T3 Indoor Spin workout. Last night was particulary tough as we worked the big chain ring for most of the time. Sweating buckets...quads throbbing...digging deep.

Wednesday, March 12th
I got up this morning and ran 13.75 miles with Thon and Amy at a comfortable 9:10pace. Amy is heading to Miami for Spring Break and wanted a "longish run" before she hopped on a plane. My body needed a recovery run as opposed to the speed and intensity I threw at it earlier this week. It probably didn't need almost 14 miles, but that's what I gave it.

Good news!! Only one workout today!!! YAY :-)

Rest of the week plans:
Thursday: AM Swim, PM Core and PM Spin
Friday: 4000m swim at Barton Springs
Saturday: 100+ mile ride/ small run brick
Sunday: 15-16 mile run (I think)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Through the Storms...

If you saw lightning this morning in downtown Austin, it wasn't the storm that rolled into town around 7am. It was the Gazelles whipping up 1000m repeats at Zilker Park and creating streaks of speed lightning all over the place! You know, all of this distance training has pretty much made me feel like a slug. Weird, I know. I very rarely push myself out of my comfort zone these days. (except for the whole 20 hours of training per week thing) With a constant level of fatigue, it's hard to find the spring in my step to run fast. Admittedly and dutifully so, the last few months have been about miles...and hours...and endurance. Today's workout was about speed. Originally, I thought we were doing Wilke hill repeats, but I was wrong and relieved when he said we were doing 1000s. The pain and searing lungs are intense, but you know it won't last long.

We did 6 repeats and they are some of the best I've turned out in a long time. I've restored faith that I actually could outrun someone if being chased instead of saying to the assailant, "Can you slow down a bit? I'm trying to keep my heart rate in Zone 3!"

#1 4:22 (7:01 pace) and that was our warm up
#2 4:02 (6:29)
#3 4:02 (6:29)
#4 4:01 (6:27)
#5 4:00 (6:26)
#6 3:53 (6:14)

We ended the workout in a virtual downpour with thunder and lightning. Still, I was running in shorts and a tank top, which is a far cry from how my Ohio friends and family have spent the last few days of their lives!!

Yep--Columbus, Ohio officially survived the "BLIZZARD of 2008!" Almost 2 feet of snow in 24 hours. Hey Mom and Dad, if you ever wonder why I don't move back home, now you know :-) I miss y'all, but Good Lord! And to think, I was bitchin' about having to do my outdoor swim on Sunday morning in Barton Springs!! Oh, woe is me!

I saw some great photos on Dispatch.com and had to laugh when I saw this picture. It's a picture taken from a city bus on High Street in the Short North area of Columbus

Nine months ago, Shawn and I were standing under that very arch in the middle of High Street in the Short North on our Wedding Day. Our reception was at the awesome wine bar called The Burgundy Room. (A wine bar??? Shocking, I know)

Also, in honor of our Ohio peeps, I made Cincinnati-style chili for dinner tonight (read: the antithesis of Texas Chili). It's spicy/cinamon spiced chili with ground meat served over pasta with some cheddar cheese. Not entirely appetizing to look at, but the taste is unforgettable (for better or worse!) Don't worry, I cooked it as healthy as possible using semolina pasta and very lean ground chuck. If you've ever had this style of chili, you'll also know that they usually pile so much cheese on top that you can't even see the pasta. I only used "a pinch" of cheddar.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Weekend Switcheroo

This is my first official blog post from my newly purchased MacBook Pro (yep, I went to the dark side)! My 5-year-old IBM ThinkPad served me perfectly until this week when the monitor decided to die on me. The hard drive works great, but I just can't see anything! Sadly, or humorously, the most important things on the ThinkPad are photos and my current IMAZ Training log. I haven't quite figured out how to get those things from PC to Mac, but I'm sure there's a way. (of course there is)

Anyways, because Barton Springs was closed through Friday, I decided to switch my weekend schedule around a bit.

Friday, March 7th

I did my long run Friday morning with my long-lost running pals Thon and Amy. The schedule called for 18 miles this weekend. Because of a 9am client meeting in Dripping Springs, I was only able to get 15.5 miles done. I left from my house at 5am and ran 2 miles to Thon's place. Oh my God, the wind was howling! I felt like Dorothy in the land of Oz as the trees were crackling with the gusts. Lions..and tigers...and bears...oh my! At Thon's, I picked up the two of them and we headed north up Shoal Creek to Anderson Lane and back. I'm so excited that the two of them have booked flights to come to the Ironman! They will join Shawn, my parents, Richard, Stephanie and I for the IMAZ camping adventure! They also signed up for the Grandma's Half Marathon so I'm thinking of returning the favor and flying to Duluth in June to see them!

Saturday, March 8th

Today was the annual "Spokes and Spurs" Bike Ride and it was an official T3 Team Ride. About 20 of us gathered on this incredibly chilly morning (30 degrees) to ride out in the Hill Country. It was great to get out of Austin and off the same old routes that we're used to doing. Not surprisingly, the course was full of rolling hills and wind. IMAZ athletes were riding 90 miles, which meant we had to do the 62 mile loop (the ride's longest) and then hit the 28 mile loop. I'm sure the volunteers were just thrilled to know that there were people out there doing extra when they really wanted to pack up and go home. The first several miles were pretty chilly. I dressed warm enough, but my toes and hands were still cold. While I had plenty of my own nutrition for the ride, I couldn't resist the supported rest stops filled with cookies, PBJ, powerade, water and great volunteers. I'm usually pretty Type-A about not stopping too long and wasting time, but I let it go yesterday and just had fun catching up with other riders who were also enjoying the breaks.

Coach Logan and I started joking about what it would be like if Ironmans didn't have cut off times. Every rest stop would be packed for hours, people would be hanging out and drinking beer, there would be massage tables at every stop. I guess it's a good thing that you can't piss around too much in the actual race!

Like most long rides, I had strong and weak moments, ups and downs, moments of power and moments of pain. I can't say I was that excited to head back out for the second loop especially as others were finishing and even doing small run bricks after their rides. However, it wasn't really an option at that point. Katy, Jerry and I headed out as my mind tried to remain positive. I definitely started to fade a bit during the last 10 miles as Jerry and Katy got further and further ahead. Generously, they held up at a stop sign to wait for me to catch up.

I was definitely happy to have accomplished another huge, tough ride. I only averaged 15.5 for the 88.4 miles, but it was a strong effort with the hills, wind and long run the day before. After the ride, Katy and I went for a 30 minute run and then proceeded to slam down some fajitas!

Here are some pics I snapped from my phone as we were hanging out at a rest stop:

As much as I'd love to, I won't be lugging my camera with me on the course of IMAZ...I'll already be carrying enough crap including 13 hours worth of nutrition and extra bike gear.

Sunday, March 9th

Between the time change and the two glasses of wine on Saturday night (woops), I woke up feeling pretty sluggish, headachy and sore. The bike ride made my glutes, hamstrings and quads ache...even after an epsom salt bath on Saturday evening.

Still, I headed to Barton Springs around 10am (which was 9am yesterday) to swim my 4000m. I broke it down to 2 x 2000m.

1st 2000 = 42:47
2nd 2000= 42:02

Hey, at least it was a negative split! Karen had told me her strategy was to do 40 slow strokes followed by 20 fast/strong strokes--kind of like a swimming fartlek workout. I used this strategy on the 2nd 2000 and it worked well. Thanks Karen! I didn't think I'd be able to hold that type of concentration for 5 laps, but counting my strokes was less mind numbing than counting laps and it seemingly made each lap just a tad faster!

One more week of training hell and then I start to descend this ladder of exhaustion!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I Will Not DNF.

Anyone else struggle through this book?

I gotta be honest. I’ve been reading it for over a month now and it’s KILLING me! I picked it up on a whim at the ol’ Walgreens a few months back after hearing so many rave reviews about the Broadway musical. For those that don’t know, “WICKED” is the ficticious back-story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became evil. She and Glinda the Good Witch were actually college roomies and friends at one point. And then something happened. Just what that “something” is remains a mystery to me. The book is 500 pages. I’m 300 pages in and I still don’t fully comprehend what the hell is going on in Munchkinland.

Part of me wants to abandon this book, quit and start one of the other multiple books I have in the pile that seem much more interesting to me at this point. I mean, it’s pretty bad when some of Shawn’s medical journals regarding femoral nerve blocks look more exciting than the outcome of poor old Elphaba.

But then, there’s that other side of me…the endurance athlete side of me. It’s the side that says, “Don’t give up. You’ve hit a temporary wall. Just keep digging and you’ll get through it. It's painful now, but you may actually enjoy it.” I mean, I WANT to finish the book. I just didn’t realize it would be this much work. One page at a time…one day at a time… Perhaps they should’ve packaged this book with Green Apple Power Gel or Lemon/Lime Endurox. (Get the green theme?…I’m a Marketing genius)

So, I’m treating this book like an Ironman. It might be slow, but I will get through it.

I’m just glad it doesn’t have cut-off times or I would’ve DNF’ed weeks ago!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Inserting My Foot into a Swim Fin, Cycling Shoe, Running Shoe...and my Mouth

Two more weeks of torture and then the taper begins! I feel like I’m at Mile 22 of a marathon right now. I’ve come so far, but there’s still so many more miles to go. I know I’m going to finish, but I’m tired and running on fumes and adrenaline. Two weeks may feel like an eternity, but the light at the end of the tunnel is near and I have emerged a stronger, more fit and more confident athlete than I ever could’ve imagined.

I hit 20 hours last week and the plan calls for 18.5 this week and 19 hours next week. After that, I’m coming down for a four-week taper and I can’t wait.

Until then, here’s my life in a workout nutshell:

Monday 3/3

Because I had a long tough weekend, Monday was my day to recuperate a bit. I did pop in my Swimervals DVD and play along with one of their 30-minute workouts using resistance bands and my bed posts (it sounds a lot kinkier than it was, believe me!!) This is a good DVD for dry-land swim training and I know it has helped my strength in the pool. Coach Troy takes you through some sprint sets as well as power sets of stroking (again—less kinky than imagined).

That was it for the day! I had visions of going to core that night, but with 30mile wind gusts, the visions drifted away with the breeze and I went home to hang with hubster for the evening.

Tuesday 3/4

Well, no one knows how to predict the weather, but it was freaking cold on Tuesday morning when I got up to go to swim workout. Apparently, the 34 degree temps didn’t affect others because the pool was way more crowded than usual! It was an obvious sign that Spring is in the air and Triathlon season is fast approaching.

I led most of the sets in lane two or followed behind the leader. Karen is our resident fin goddess and I’m apparently paddle-master since I led all of the paddle sets. I’m already in that state of, “Wow, you’ve come so far, but you’re still pretty darn slow comparatively.” I’m sure I was holding some lane-mates back on the swim sets, but no one complained. Overall, it was a solid workout and, as usual, Karen and I finished up our 3200 meters with 10 extra paddle laps to work on high elbow catch and strength.

Tuesday wouldn’t be complete without 30minutes of core work followed by 1.5 hours of spinning class. It was a packed house at the training center and the trainers were buzzing with plenty of high cadence sets. I much prefer these over large gear mashing. I was pleasantly surprised to be keeping up with the gears and cadences Coach Chrissie was shouting out throughout the workout. Dare I say it was slightly “easier” than normal? Of course, when I actually keep up with class I automatically assume that I probably didn’t have enough resistance on the wheel. God forbid, I actually might be getting stronger. I do notice some weakness and struggling though as soon as I hit a heavy gear. My muscle fibers seem much more equipped to deal with high cadence spinning than low cadence power work…Something to work on in the future.

When I got home, I tried to stay awake to watch the Democratic primaries, but was asleep by 10pm.

Wednesday, 3/5

Not sure if today was a cop out or not. I went to Gazelles prepared to run the four mile tempo run. It was on the schedule and I purposely went to run it—albeit begrudgingly. While coach was giving instructions, he basically said that if you ran the marathon three weeks ago, your body is still beat up and recovering. You shouldn’t really worry about speed right now. So, he told those who did the marathon to run 7 miles of fartleks instead. My mind said to my body, “I’ve been beating you up a lot lately.” While I didn’t run the whole AT&T Marathon, I did run 20 miles that morning. Plus, the bike rides, core, etc have been pretty tough. I took that as an out not to do tempo and set off on a fartlek run that included Steven, Brian, a woman who’s name escapes me (but had a 22min PR ) and a new guy named Eric.

So, we start our 15 min. warmup and immediately I sensed some struggle from Eric. He was having trouble breathing and was literally gasping for breath at certain moments. He certainly didn’t sound comfortable. After a couple of repeats, I started to get concerned for him. It just sounded like he was giving every ounce of effort to keep up. Finally, Brian said, “You ok man? You don’t sound so hot.”

Eric replied, “Yep—it’s just from my chemo.”

Awkward Silence...and then idle chatter about how shitty chemo is.

He was basically rebuilding his lungs after they had been obliterated by chemotherapy some time ago. You know what else he said?

“Thank God I'm a runner. If not, I would’ve been dead.”

He eventually dropped back for the final few repeats, but his words and dedication left quite an impact. I was feeling like I wussed out for the day and this guy was putting it all out there in the name of life and kicking the crap out of cancer.

Another lesson learned…

Monday, March 03, 2008

So Much To Catch Up On...Training Recap (Pretty Long, But Very Interesting--to me at least)

I am one month and 9 days away from Ironman Arizona and I am feeling damn good about it. At this moment, I don't have any of those "Have I done enough" or "Have I put in the work" anxieties. (subject to change at any moment) My T3 Coaches MORE than prepare their athletes for this race.

I missed a huge training weekend when I was in Cabo, so it was mine to make up this past weekend. I can't tell you how beneficial the break was. My body and my mind clearly needed not to think about triathlon for a couple of days (even though Evotri was at the forefront). As a result, I came back this week and was ready for 20 hours of heavy-duty training, not to mention campaigning and assisting with the Grand Opening of one of my client's new stores!

Thursday, February 28th
I went to my morning T3 swim class and then Katy and I rode one 37-mile loop of the Ironman AZ course on the Computrainer. I'll probably devote an entire post to this because it was so fascinating. I wish I could say it felt easy, but it didn't. This course doesn't have the twists, turns and hills of other Ironman courses. For the most part, it's relatively flat with a climb towards the turnaround point. Once you turn around, you come down the hill until it levels out again. Repeat 3 times. Ironically, last year the wind was blowing and athletes had the tailwind going UP the hill. At the turnaround when you would expect the benefit of downhill riding, the wind presented a roadblock and it was hellish going down the hill (so I'm told by those who were there). Who knows what this year will bring?! I can only hope it's calm, relaxing and perfectly still. Anyways, I rode it in 2:10 for a 17.1 mph average. My HR avg was 160, but I was sweating freakin' buckets. It "felt" a lot more difficult than I wanted/hoped/prayed it would feel. Put it this way, I know I couldn't keep that same effort level for two more loops. Now, a lot of it also is also the fact that we were indoors on a boring stationary trainer...no external stimulation...no adrenaline...just constant effort. My average wattage was 124, which apparently is pretty average. Katy kicked butt and ended up beating me by 1 mile. It was funny to watch her little cycling avatar get farther and farther away from me. I'm hoping to ride it one more time before the big day.

As if a 1.5 hour swim workout and 2+hour cycling workout wasn't enough, I headed back to the training center after work for the evening spin workout of 1.25 hours! I told you it was a week of retribution!

Friday, February 29th
I hit Barton Springs around 7am for my 4000m swim. It was actually broken down into segments (1 x 1000m, 1x800, 1x600, 4x400). I don't have my watch with me, but with a couple of small rest stops, I came out of the water in 1:28. I was at a VERY comfortable 2:10pace...definitely a pace I could continue for an extended period of time. The trick will be finding the space and the mental fortitude to settle in to that rhythm instead of trying to keep up with others or find a draft. I'm still so happy everytime I get out of that water knowing that the distance was conquered by pathetic little me. Of course, I'm also slightly lightheaded and dizzy from having my head under water and my body rotating for 1.5 hours! I definitely give myself a much-deserved "pat on the wetsuit" every time I leave the Springs.

Saturday, March 1st
We all know the day didn't start out the way I had hoped. Honestly, I was shocked that they already had photos and a soundbite of Charlie's reaction to winning. I was just hoping to see my name as the winner! It must've been a landslide if they were able to call the election early and declare a winner before voting even ended.

I headed out to meet my T3 group on a drizzly, humid morning. I was slightly flustered when I left the house that I forgot to grab my water bottles from the fridge. Damn--I definitely needed those. I turned around, losing an extra 10 minutes. When I got to our meeting place, there was some activity taking place. Because of the drizzly conditions, Coach Chrissie was going to go open up the training center for those that wanted to ride indoors because of the weather. Fortunately, Karen and Nancy were going to forge ahead and ride their 65 miles to San Marcos and back and they asked if I wanted to join them. "YES!! Thank You!!" The thought of doing 100 miles indoors was unbearable at that moment.

The three of us headed off and had a fantastic ride. The fog/drizzle did burn off making for a sunny/steamy ride. I never felt like I was pushing myself too hard. In fact, that was the plan...maintain a pace and heart rate that was sustainable. I spent most of the first 65 miles staring at Nancy's ass because she was just so strong the entire time. She was "only" riding 65 so she could push it a little harder. I wanted to make sure I had gas in the tank for the extra 40 I was going to ride by myself. We stopped twice to refuel briefly, but that was it. During the ride, I was overcome with gratitude on several occassions. Instead of being depressed about Evotri, I just gave thanks for the wonderful bike and equipment I already own, my training partners and the physical and mental ability to go the distance. We even had a good laugh when we looked at Nancy's cleat and noticed that it had turned into a bug shield.

I left them with 5 x 8mile South Mopac loops to do by myself. Once again, it was a test of patience and mental fortitude. I could've taken different routes to hit the 40 miles, but the S. Mopac loops provide a pretty decent wind/course simulator. During these loops I was reminded of where I live when I saw one pickup truck that had a bumper sticker that read, "Ditch the Bitch. I'm going to the Rodeo." Wow...Another bumper sticker read, "I was born ok the first time. I don't need to do it again." Gotta love Texas.

I ended the ride with 105 Miles at an average pace of 17.5mph! My avg HR? A very comfy 137...Yes, that means I could've pushed it harder, but I didn't want to. Gotta save those legs for the MARATHON!

So, I quickly loaded the bike in the car, changed shoes, took a gel and headed out for my hour run. By this point, it was 3pm and hot (80-ish). Like the ride, my run goal was to maintain a comfortable and sustainable effort. I headed out into the suburban world of Circle C where I was greeted by cyclists, other runners, walkers, kids, etc. The roads were a combination of climbs, flats and downhills. It took a while to settle in, but I found my rhythm and a 30min loop that I would repeat twice. After the first loop (3.5 miles), I grabbed a quick drink from the car and headed out again. I was at an 8:46 overall pace....faster than I plan for the marathon, but very comfortable at that moment. During the last mile, I ran past a guy and his little daughter and noticed they kept looking at me.

What my deliriously hot and tired mind heard from Daddy directed my way:
"Wow, You are Fat!"

What I think he said:
"Wow, You are Fast!"

I couldn't process either so I just said "Thanks so much" and kept running. The watched ticked at 1:00 hour just as I hit the 7 mile mark.

Avg Pace for Run: 8:40 Avg HR: 149

I felt so great after that day of training and I only hope it feels that comfy from time to time on the course!! I celebrated by hitting Vino Vino Wine Bar with my husband, Richard and Stephanie who presented me with a hilarious Sympathy card for not making Evotri. God, how I love wine and the company of such great people. In fact, the four of us our road tripping to AZ in an RV and I can't freaking wait!! More on that in weeks to come...

Sunday, March 2nd
No rest for the weary Ironman Wannabe! After making and enjoying coffee on the porch, Shawn and I hit the streets around 8:30am for a run. He was doing 6. I was doing 16. We headed from our house to Town Lake Trail. Right away, we saw Diane Booher who shouted, "I voted for you!" Not far behind was her husband James running as well...After a couple of miles, we heard a "Hey" acknowledgement and it was a woman we had talked to in the voting line on Friday evening! Shawn passed out a flyer to her. And you know what? She said, "Sorry you didn't win." I was so touched. It meant that she actually looked. This stranger actually took the time to see the results. I never got her name, but thank you so much... And that is what the Austin athletic community is all about.

I split from Shawn in our neighborhood and headed down Exposition towards Mt. Bonnell. Basically, I was talking smack at the wine bar the previous night (damn vino) and mentioned that I would probably run Mt. Bonnell "for old times sake." Well, I couldn't wuss out now. Even though Arizona doesn't have any hills like this, I still felt the need to put myself through the hills and tough run in hopes of coming out even stronger on the other side. Mentally and physically...I haven't run Bonnell in a while and it showed. I took baby steps, but didn't walk once. In true Gazelle style, I ran to Balcones, hit the Stop sign and ran back down Bonnell to Scenic and back home. On Lake Austin Blvd, I saw a dude about 50 yards ahead and it became my mission to pass him before I turned off. I kicked my trashed quads into gear and ended up "chicking" him with some room to spare!

16 mile run...Avg Pace of 8:56 for the entire run...Again, not bad for the course and the previous day's effort.

The rest of the afternoon was spent working on Taxes, our trip to Arizona (Sedona and Grand Canyon after Ironman) and our trip to Italy in May! Life does not suck (as my brother Ted would say).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My Bittersweet Evotri Montage Soundtrack

I found out this morning at 7:20am that I didn't make the Evotri team. It was 5 minutes before I was supposed to leave for my epic Ironman Training day. What could've been a day to sulk turned into my best training day yet! I'll recap in detail tomorrow, but I blasted a 105 mile ride in 17.5mph average and ran 7 miles with an 8:40 overall pace. I couldn't be happier with those efforts!

Of course I'm a little disappointed that I didn't make the team, but very happy for Charlie from Louisiana. A bittersweet ending wouldn't be complete without a video montage...so I present:

Memories of the last two weeks of Evotri competition. :-)

1.) Meeting Sara who was just excited as I was about producing this video. After all, she agreed to meet me at Barton Springs at 6:30am on a freezing cold morning!

2.) Getting the phone call from TriBoomer letting me know I had made the Top 10.

3.) Posting it on my blog and getting so many positive comments, emails and votes.

4.) Checking out other videos and "sizing up the competition." Damn--everyone's video was so good and inspirational.

5.) The incredible support from my T3 teammates, Gilberts Gazelles, Austin Fit Marathon training group, The Austin Buckeye Alumni Group, Castle Hill Fitness, Austin 360.com, Runtex and so many other friends,family, friends OF family and strangers who spread the word.

6.) The Austin Media world also came through with huge support! Thanks to ClearChannel, Emmis, Entercom, espn radio, BMP radio, AWRT, all of the TV groups and several magazines who pledged their support for the "local girl." It was flattering to say the least.

7.) Thanks to the Austin chapter of the Ohio State Alumni group for putting it in their newsletter. It still stings that I was beaten by an LSU Tiger fan--AGAIN! :-)

8.) Even the property managers of the building I work in sent out a newsletter to the tenants to "vote for one of our own!"

9.) Sitting on the airplane on our way to Cabo and recruiting flight attendants to vote for me.

10.) Bringing our laptop to the hotel bar and showing my video to vacationers.

11.) Stopping in an airport Borders to buy a book and leaving my blog information with the manager.

12.) Going to our favorite restaurant, Galaxy Cafe, when we returned home from Cabo and getting the manager to post voting information in the back where all the workers would see it.

13.) Chatting with friends and joking that I was in the FINAL FOUR for In Vitro! (since they couldn't remember evotri)

14.) Calling and emailing my family every 3 days to rally the troops again! That's the most often my parents have heard from me in years!!

15.) JB from MorningCoach.com mentioning my cause on his podcast and in his newsletter.

16.) Waking up to the Statesman On-Line article!

17.) Shawn passing out flyers to all of his co-workers, nurses and (I'm sure) patients at the hospital.

18.) Standing in line to do our own early voting and having Shawn recruiting votes for me from people in line to vote. Hillary, Obama and Carrie!

19.) Watching my hands shake as I scrolled down to see if I had made it to the Final Four.

20.) The excitement of each new email, phone call and text from someone telling me that they had voted and were spreading the word!

Thanks again to all! Even though I didn't make the team, I had a blast!