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, April 30, 2008

A Little Q&A

So, the three questions I've been getting asked the most recently are:

1.) So, what race is next Lil Miss Ironman??? (they usually don't call me Lil Miss Ironman, but I've kinda taken a liking to the moniker)

2.) Now that Ironman is over, are you two EVER going to have kids??

3.) Does your husband have a brother and is he single??

First of all, my husband does have a brother who is an Attorney. (Yeah, one brother is a Doc and another is a Lawyer. Christmas dinners are real fun in their household! At least Mom and Dad are proud.) He's also happily married to an amazing woman and lives in Orange County, CA. Sorry Ladies...

As for the kid question, who the heck knows?! (But thanks for your concern and pressure) We've only been married a year! Can't we at least have our first fight?? :-) Ultimately, it's out of our control right? Plus, I have extreme faith that what's meant to be will be. I wish I could wave a magic wand or see into the future, but I can't! In the meantime, I will continue to work, exercise, train and travel the world like every day is my last. Believe me, my hubster and I don't train to avoid the issue. We train to make ourselves happier and healthier people, which will only make us better parents. Don't worry, I promise to put as much effort into children as I do my fitness regime! Besides, we're both Catholic. Isn't it a law or something to have kids?!? (so is confession, but who's counting?)

In the meantime, I woke up last week and asked myself the same question that everyone else is asking.

"What's next?!" (Lil Miss Ironman)

I'm in that weird phase of being so relieved that the intense MANDATORY training is over, but also not wanting to lose all of the fitness gains I've made over the last few months. I'm anxious to focus on running again, but I also don't want to lose the progress I made in both swimming and cycling. What's a girl to do?! Find a race, of course!

Shawn and I both signed up for the June 29th Buffalo Springs 70.3 Half-Ironman in Lubbock!! I'm so excited to be able to do this race with him because it's such a great bonding experience. Our weekdays are hectic, but we get to run and cycle together on weekends now. These hours are so valuable and are much better spent on the roads than in front of a TV or our laptops.

In addition, we're also looking at a few smaller tris throughout the summer: Lake Pflugerville in mid-June, Couples Triathlon in July, Marble Falls Tri in July, The Austin Tri in September and the Longhorn 70.3 in October. I'm also looking for a Fall/Winter Marathon because my goal is to hit the 3:20 mark someday.

I headed back to full workouts this week and it felt good knowing that I was doing it more for maintenance than anything else.

Monday: Gazelles Wilke Hill Repeats (5 forward, 3 Sprints, 3 Backwards). This is always very humbling. I felt like I had never climbed a hill in my life! Nothing like coming back to Gazelles with the hardest and most dreaded workout of the bunch!

Here's the M/W Morning Crew at Wilke

And we're off! That chick in the red hat "pretending" to sprint is me

Tuesday: AM T3 Swim workout and PM Core/Indoor Cycling. It felt great to spin the legs and get back in the pool!

Wednesday: Gazelles 800 meter Track Workout, including a mile warmup and cool down (6 repeats: 3:33, 3:23, 3:23, 3:23, 3:23, 3:18). All were very much in my comfort range and I certainly had gas for more. It's just not necessary in this phase of training. I'm happy to realize that I haven't lost any running fitness.

Thursday: AM Indoor Cycling with Maurice. It was a toughie, but good to get the cobwebs out! Lots of short heavy/gear intervals

This weekend: Friday Open Water Swim, Saturday 14-Mile Run, Sunday AM Swim and bike ride

The other thing that's next for us?? TRAVEL!

We're hitting Italy for two weeks in May and other trips this year include California, Hawaii and somewhere warm near Christmas.

So, don't worry. I'll find ways to fill my days :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A New Day...

I walked to work yesterday!  It was a total "chamber of commerce" day in Austin with perfect sunny skies and a high around 80. This sounds harsh, but lately I've been feeling a little more released from the prison of mandatory training. I took advantage of this new-found time and decided to walk the 3+ miles each way to and from work yesterday.

Well...I might be a good runner and a decent triathlete, but let me tell you-- I am ONE CRAPPY WALKER!! I got "chicked" by a pregnant woman on the trail! I mean, she didn't just pass me, she blew by me like she was floating on air and I was walking through quicksand. Either her fetus had wings or she was in labor because she was on a mission. Seriously, I wanted to go up to her (if I could catch her) and say, "I just did an Ironman," but then I realized what she is going to do in a few months is far more miraculous and stupendous than exercising for 12 hours straight. She's creating a life. Apparently, I'm trying to end one!! 

Elderly, tots, strollers, turtles...you name it. I was being passed left and right. My type-A irrational mind wanted to kick into race mode. Hell, I was even looking at calves for ages to see if it really mattered that they passed me (as if I was going to get an age group award in the "those who walk to work" category) 

I guess that's the LAST time I try to listen to Oprah and Eckhart Tolle's podcast of "A New Earth," which is all about getting rid of the egoic mind and living in the present moment.  :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ironman Arizona: The Run and Finale

Taking time to thank the guy who supported me along the way

This is one of my favorites since I'm getting "the look" as I pass #1196

Giving a little cheer and receiving a boost from my friends as I started on another loop

Hi-fiving my Mom and Dad. I LOVE this picture!!

The transition area was once again a total blur. I put my bike back on the rack and went to grab my T2 bag. Once again, I was greeted by a wonderful volunteer as I entered the changing tent to change shoes and throw on my Gilberts Gazelles visor. Thankfully, Thon's Garmin was in this bag and I turned it on while I did everything else. Another volunteer from Austin came over and started rubbing more sunscreen on me. 

"You feel really hydrated," she said.  I thought she was asking me a question.

"I had like 10 bottles of fluids out there, so I feel pretty good."

"No, I'm telling you," she said, "You feel really hydrated. And that's good."

Awesome...She was right. I was really hydrated, but I never did pee on the bike course! Can you believe I held it for over 6 1/2 hours!?! Up to this point, I'd gone about 9 hours total without a restroom break and I had to go. Rather than wait in line in transition, I headed out on the run course and stopped at the Mile 1 porta-potty. Mucho relief on the bladder!!  

Like the bike course, the run course is also three loops making it incredibly spectator friendly. However, even the spectators didn't want to brave the barren trails of Miles 1-3 that offered no shade and no comfort as we ran on pavement and around the dry side of Tempe Town Lake that is only filled with rocks and NO water. The magnitude of the heat totally hit me on these early miles and there was no tailwind to help. The sun was overhead and it was in the mid-90s. Like I said, I had no idea what time of day it was, but doing the math now, I started on the marathon at about 3pm...ugh. I started aggressively and thought maybe I could hold a 9:00min pace, but as soon as I did so, my HR would spike and I would immediately get really thirsty.  Therefore, I slowed it down and tried to hover around the 9:30 per mile pace. This would be my goal pace for the day. 

Needless to say, it was nothing short of a death march out there. People were walking in droves and while I felt slow doing 9:30's, I may as well have been in a sprint compared to most people. As with the rest of the day, bits and pieces of advice I had received along the way popped into my mind. Coach Maurice advised us to not walk the water stops, knowing full well that it would waste a lot of time and it would be that much more difficult to start running again. It sounds brutal, but I really tried to heed that advice as much as possible. I certainly slowed down to ingest cups of water and sips of Gatorade here and there, but I didn't loiter. I also followed the advice of my Gazelle friend Frank who advised me to dump water on my head and jersey as much as possible to stay cool. Not a water stop didn't pass where I wasn't squeezing sponges on my head and body. Amazingly though, I would be dry by the next mile. You know you don't care when you actually see volunteers picking up dirty sponges off the ground, dumping them in dirty ice water, handing them to you and you STILL use it to cool yourself. I don't even want to think about the amount of germs and dirt I ingested with those sponges.

So once again, the run course was never 26.2 miles to me. I never felt like I was running a marathon. I just knew I had to get around that lake three times. I had looked at the map prior to the race, but didn't really understand just how much we twisted and turned around Tempe Town Lake on a mixture of roads, parking lots and gravel trails. If I have one complaint, it would have to be running by the horse stables three different times.  ewwwwww...95 degrees does nothing to squelch the stench of horse manure. That little stretch required extra physical fortitude to not toss my cookies!  Other than that, I kinda liked the course...a couple of short climbs that wouldn't normally be a huge deal if most weren't so damn tired already.  Otherwise, it was flat and hung around a lot of spectators. The crowds were so cool, especially when we were at or near the transition area where each new loop began.  My crew was near that area and I saw them no less than 6 times (twice on each loop). I absolutely received a boost every time I saw the familiar "Carrie-Zona" shirts in the distance. Amy and Thon would run alongside me for a few feet to make sure I was feeling o.k.  I was...  I hi-fived my parents, I kissed Shawn. If it weren't for the oppressive heat, I'd be feeling great.

My nutrition for the run was pretty simple. I brought along 4 Tangerine Power Gels. These are my self-professed mojo ever since trying them in Boston in 2006 and receiving an amazing boost the last three miles. They have double the caffeine and 4x the sodium. Fortunately, the caffeine doesn't bother my tummy. I took in a gel (whether I wanted it or not) about every 40 minutes or so. This continued to keep my levels steady. In between, I would alternate between gatorade, cola and chicken broth. Water was mandatory at every stop. If I needed a sugar boost, I'd drink a small cup of cola. If I needed salt, I'd drink the broth. This strategy seemed to be working. It just depended on what I was craving at the moment. The funniest thing happened at the beginning of the third loop. A volunteer was yelling out "salt, salt, salt" and I assumed she had some salt tablets so I held out my hand to take a couple. Turns out, she had a canister of Morton's salt and dumped a heap into my palm. I looked at her, shrugged, gave an "ok" and licked the hell out of my hand. (Of course, I'm used to chasing it with a lime and tequila, but water had to suffice at the moment!)

By the last five miles, the sun was going down and I started to emerge from my myself a little bit. All day, I had been focused on maintaining a certain energy level. I kept my emotions in tact. My pace started to quicken ever so slightly. I was clocking a few sub 9:00s in the last few miles of the race. I saw Amy and Thon on the North side of the lake and they talked me through it. 

"What do you need?" they asked.

"I'm pretty sure I'll need a porta-potty when this is over.  I'm afraid of what my stomach will do when I stop running!"  at least I still had my humor in tact.

They let me know that everyone else had headed over to the Finish Line where they would meet me at the end. 

Those last two miles included so much inner dialogue of praise, thanksgiving and gratitude. I was and remain in awe of how well my body and mind remained strong throughout the entire 12+ hours.  And still, I was numb to exactly what I was accomplishing. That is--until the last 1/4 mile. I was running and I passed a volunteer before making the final turn down the finisher's chute and she very nonchalantly said, "One more turn to Ironman." I couldn't believe I was finishing!

I remember being passed by two guys as they sprinted through the finisher's chute, but I just maintained my normal pace to enjoy this moment as much as possible. A few weeks prior, I met a great guy named Adam while I was riding on South Mopac. Not only did we share the same bike taste (Guru Crono), but we were both tapering for AZ at the time. We struck up conversation and ended up riding over 20 miles together. In those miles, I was asking advice as this wasn't his first IM. Of course, he gave me the obligatory, "have fun" advice, but he also said something that stuck with me as I was running my last few yards. He told me to savor that moment and not be in such a rush. Listen to the cheers and soak it up. I totally heeded his advice as I was passed in the last few yards by some anxious tri-dude. I could've given him a sprint to remember, but I let him have his moment so that I could have mine. I let him break the finisher's tape and slowed ever so briefly so that I could also break the tape of my most amazing race ever. 

In the span of one year, I married the coolest guy ever and achieved a personal goal of completing an Ironman. I truly don't know how to top it, but our trip to Italy next month is a damn good place to start! 

The Finisher's Chute :30

The End

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ironman Arizona: The Bike

:07 sec of me coming by on the first loop of the bike. I love Shawn's enthusiasm!!

I like to call this 1:42 video, "I Need Less Cowbell!" Once again, Shawn displays his tremendous amount of skills by doing wonderful commentary, shooting video and apparently ringing a cowbell for 2 minutes straight!

The glorious bike finish after 6 hrs and 40 minutes! I was so happy to be starting the marathon.

Once again, I had prepared extensively for this MOST IMPORTANT leg of the race. The bike is the portion to calm down, establish a comfortable pace, drink plenty of fluids and ingest between 2500-3000 calories throughout the 6 1/2 hour course. This was my "business" portion of the race. Once again, tidbits of advice surfaced and I thought of a comment that fellow Austin blogger and future Ironman Colleen had written on my blog a few weeks prior. "You've planned your race. Now, race your plan!" I knew exactly where I placed my nutrition bottles and I knew exactly how I would position them in the cages when I was complete. I always had one bottle of perpetuum below because I could grab it easily and it was less likely to fall out. My cages on the rear had my 2nd bottle of perpetuum and spare water with nuun. My bento box was filled with extra Nuun tablets, Endurolyte salt tablets, Clif Blocks, one Power Gel (just in case) and a peanut butter bagel. I had enough calories--and then some. Hell, I was a cross between a pharmacy and a deli.

It was time to get down to the business of hydrating and eating. While I didn't have a beeping watch, I did have my bike computer and I faithfully ingested calories every 15-20 minutes. In addition, I took a bottle of water at every rest stop and dumped some on my head and poured the rest in my aero bottle. I was constantly hydrating. I had to pee from the beginning and told myself that I would stop at a porta-potty if it got really bad. I never took Gatorade on the bike because I knew the sweetness may haunt me later. Once an hour, I would drop a Nuun tablet in my water and I would also take two Endurolyte tablets. When I just couldn't stomach Perpetuum, I would take 3 margarita flavored Clif Blocs for the sodium and carbs. The would give me a 30-minute reprieve from the liquid calories. (and tease me for a post-race beverage). I was still a little physically and visually bloated as you can tell by some of the cycling photos taken by Richard below. Between the ingested lake water and the salt intake, I could feel myself swelling up a bit.

Some would say that the course itself is really boring. Three loops at just over 37 miles each. Personally, I loved the loop action. The bike was never 112 miles to me. It was simply three loops. Further, the wind was blowing from the east which meant that the first part of the loop (and the only climbing portion) were into the wind. Yes, the gusts of 25+ mph were brutal and watching the dust devils forming and creating tornado-like phenomena in the distance weren't necessarily awe-inspiring, but the way back into town was a blast. I effortlessly hit over 30mph on some of the downhill. Plus, I never felt alone because people were constantly around--especially the 20+ T3 teammates who always had a word or gesture of encouragement. I didn't know if people were on their first or third loop. I just knew that they were suffering right along with me. It was also our chance to see just how smokin' fast the pros really are as they blew past everyone on the uphills. While I was riding my 42-25 gear (nice and easy), I'm sure they were blasting their biggest gears. So cool....and freakin' unbelievable.

What a boost it was when I would see my friends, family and other support from T3 and Jack and Adams!

Throughout the ride, I stayed within myself. There were never any highs or lows. I kept to my nutrition schedule which kept my mental and physical levels pretty steady. Honestly, I wish there was a time when I was internally saying. "Woo Hoo!! I'm doing an Ironman!!!" There wasn't. I was just out there riding three loops in some brutal conditions. I was also never really conscious of the time of day either. I just knew we started the race at 7am. Other than that, I couldn't tell you if it was 10am or 2pm. Did it matter really? My goal from the get-go was to hover somewhere between 16-18 mph. The first loop was in the low 16's and I was fine with that. Of course, I was being passed by many, but I was also doing my fair share of "on your left" passing as well. It was during these times that valuable advice from TriGreyhound came to mind when he told me, "If there's ever a time you feel like you're going too fast, you are!" I used that mental check several times throughout the afternoon.

Thon and Richard killing the two hours in between each bike loop!

Amy Skud on the Mill Ave. bridge with her megaphone ready to go!

The 2nd and 3rd loops got easier for me as the day seemed to melt so many others. I can't explain it. I do think the wind died down slightly, but I was still averaging about 14 mph on the way out and about 20 mph on the way back. I was happy that my splits seemed to get faster each loop. Yes! My energy level was increasing...My nutrition was on and I had conserved energy on the first loop so that I could pick it up slightly on #2 and #3. Towards the end, I wanted so badly to hit 17mph for an overall average, but I ran out of miles and wasn't about to ride anymore than 112. Through it all, most of the conversations with myself involved nutrition. Drink more water... eat now...dump water on your jersey...your mouth is dry...drink again. I wasn't having a ton of fun, but I wasn't hating it either. I was incredibly focused on the current mission without much thought to what was ahead of me.

Words cannot describe the relief and joy that I experienced from getting off my bike after pedaling for 6 hours and 40 minutes! I remember seeing T3 Karen at the last turnaround on the bike and shouting, "Let the fun begin!" because I just couldn't wait to get to the marathon portion. The race I had run in my head so many times was in action. I was well within my "perfect race" goal times and the unknown bicycle mechanicals that could potentially paralyze me were now a thing of the past. I wasn't going to get a flat tire. My chain wasn't going to break. The wind wasn't going to knock me over. The only thing that stood between me and an Ironman finish was a little afternoon run of 26.2 miles in the 95 degree heat with no shade.

Somehow we had to find our transition bags in these piles!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ironman Arizona: Race Morning and The Swim

Shawn shot this 2:36 minute video of the mass Swim Start. Notice the Power Bar flags blowing in the breeze. It was a minor indication as to what would come on the bike course.  You'll also hear Announcer Mike Reilly pumping up the athletes and spectators. I was so numb when hearing his words as I was bobbing in the water for ten minutes in 65 degree water. Listening now, I REALLY get the chills. 

Dinner at Tarbells the night before the race.  I had pasta and a glass (or two) of wine. 

Race Morning

Staying in Scottsdale about 25 minutes away from the race site was probably one of the best decisions we made. Not only did we have the comforts of a great home with plenty of space and a great kitchen, but we also weren't caught up in the race anxiety of the other athletes in and around the area. I went down to Ironman village to check-in, do the practice swim, and drive one loop of the bike course, but other than that, I stayed away from the mayhem and hung with my friends and family.

The countless hours of training all boil down to the above photo...a couple of bags of a white powdery substance (also known as Perpetuum). It absolutely got me through the bike feeling strong and ready for the run. 

I woke up at 3:45am on race morning and began the laborious task of eating more calories in one meal than I normally consume in an entire day. Breakfast consisted of two whole wheat bagels with peanut butter, a banana and a little sugar free jelly. The goal of eating so early is to give your body plenty of time to digest it. That would be my only solid food before the race start. My state of mind was so calm. It felt like any old race morning, quite honestly. A few nerves, a little trepidation, glimpses of excitement, shades of dread...all feelings on any big race morning.  The best way I can describe my state of being was waking up the morning of a huge test. I had studied my tail off. I had read and re-read every manual. There was nothing more I could do to ready myself. The only anxiety came in the form of the "unknowns." 

Richard, Shawn and I left the house around 5am to head down to the race site. They were going to stake out their tent/tailgating spot after I was dropped off to the transition area. The beauty of Arizona is that the sun starts rising around 5:30am. By the time we got close to the race site, I had to go to the bathroom, so we stopped by one of the porta-potties on the run course by the park and I christened it :-)  By 6am, it was already daylight and you could definitely feel the excitement and energy of the morning. Race announcers and volunteers helped guide the athletes to the various areas of transition. Body marking was by the water inside the bike area. Special needs drops were under the bridge. I also took this time to revisit my transition bags that were dropped off the day before. In my T1 bag (swim to bike), I turned on my Garmin 305 and set the timer to beep every 15 minutes. This would be my cue to eat or drink something on the bike. I turned it off, dropped it back in the bag and felt secure. I then headed to my T2 bag (bike to run) and dropped Thon's Garmin 305 in that bag. It was a "just in case" watch. The Garmin battery doesn't last more than 10 hours so there was a chance I'd need a second Garmin so that I could adequately track my average running pace and I knew I wanted to be somewhere between 9:00s and 9:30s. I was also wearing my Timex Ironman watch that would track my swim and overall time for the day. In addition, I have a computer on my bike that tracked my avg speed there as well.  So, yeah, needless to say, I was prepared!!

Transition area buzzing on race morning

While dropping off my special needs, I saw that Shawn and Richard found the perfect spot for the Gazelle Tent and Team Carrie-zona headquarters! It was just beyond the Mill Ave bridge right by a waterstop. This meant they would see me at least 6 times on the run, with easy access to Mill Ave. to see me on the bike as well. Perfect!  Because we had driven out, my crew had lawn chairs, coolers, water, beer, clappers, cow bells, megaphones, sombreros, flags, etc. If it wasn't an Ironman, you would definitely think they were tailgating for a college football game! (Ohio State, of course!)  


Thanks Coach and Jay for letting us haul the Gazelle tent to AZ! It was a godsend!!  

You can't tailgate without shade in Arizona!

I was one of the few people that had a pump so I was a popular girl in the bike transition area. After I got my tires pumped up, several others asked to borrow it. I certainly didn't mind helping, but it was after 6:30am, transition was closing and I still didn't have my wetsuit on yet. Finally, before anyone else could ask, I grabbed the pump and ran it over to our tailgating area. As I was heading back, the pros cannon fired and the age groupers started to make their way towards the water. I rushed to put on my wetsuit and still had 10 minutes to spare before they corralled us into the water.

Tempe Town Lake as the sun was rising. Stunning...


Believe it or not, it still felt like any other race morning.  My mind wasn't comprehending the magnitude of the day, which is probably a good thing. Really, the only thing I was thinking was, "I don't want to get in the water," which is how I feel before ANY race whether it's 500 meters or 2.4 miles. I always get that ping of, "Damn, I wish I was spectating today" knowing full well that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  Before I knew it, I was hopping into the 65 degree water and slowly making my way towards the start buoys. IMAZ is a deep water start, so they get everyone in the water and then make you swim to the start buoys and tread water--all before the cannon fires! I treaded water for about 10 minutes...thank God for wetsuits. All the while I could hear announcer Mike Reilly doing his obligatory pep talks, "Who wants to be an Ironman today???" (followed by loud cheers and shouts from both participants and spectators)  "How many first-time Ironmen do we have today??" As hundreds cheered and raised their hands around me, I treaded water with a numbness of shock and almost disbelief. I'd often wandered how I would feel when I heard those announcements and here I was in the midst of it. It was then that it hit me, but before I could process the moment, the cannon fired and we were off!

All 2000 of us lined up at the Start

I lined myself up about 2/3 back towards the center line. The swim is a straightforward out and back rectangle. It's easy to sight on this course which is a good thing because the start heads east right in the direction of the rising sun. The wind was blowing slightly from the east which meant the first part of the swim would be choppy.  The washing machine started immediately. Bodies clamoring for position. Ankles being grabbed and faces being kicked and elbowed. It's hard to keep reminding yourself that no one is really doing this on purpose. We're all struggling for the same thing...some form of comfort and control of our swim. I should also say that the race had about 500 Women and 1500 Men and if I'm battling with a 6ft, 200lb man, he's usually going to win. It was a constant wrestling match. I remember feeling frustrated early though. I kept thinking, "This is NOT swimming. All of the classes and Barton Springs swims don't prepare you for this mess. This is total bullshit!"  That frustration just made me kick a little harder and "swim" a little more aggressively. Of course, I was swallowing more water than I wanted and belching it out as much as possible. (gross, I know). I was trying to breathe every three strokes, but with bodies on your right and left, it didn't really help. It was easier for me to breathe on my right side because I could see the buildings moving and the ASU football stadium coming into view. As dorky as this sounds, this stadium is the sight where Ohio State won the National Championship vs. Miami in January 2003 in 2 overtimes. I kept drawing on that as my inspiration to remain strong and focused.

Mass triathlon swimming...not for the faint of heart.

As usual, there was a traffic jam at the turnaround buoys and I took that moment to glance at my watch. It read 6:23. What?!?!? Damn...In the course of the thrashing, someone hit the stop button on my watch. I now had no idea what my pace was.  I was constantly surrounded by people so I knew I wasn't in last place (always an irrational fear), but I felt like it was taking forever to swim the way back. I found a dude's feet and drafted off him as much as possible. I actually had a flow going for a while. but it was short-lived as I would have to swim around or on top of others to keep up with this dude. I kept the Mill Ave. bridge in sight because I knew once we passed underneath, we just had to make a left turn to swim to the volunteers who were pulling us out of the water. In my mind, I thought, "This is definitely slower than I thought. It's probably a 1:40 swim at best." I've never been so happy to grab the hand of a volunteer who helped me out of the water where I caught my first glimpse of the clock: 1:20 and some change. I wanted to shout cheers of joy and gratitude right then and there! I never imagined it would be 1:20 when it felt so horribly inconsistent and sloppy.  I had the tricep chaffing to prove it too. Even with generous amounts of body glide both under my arms and around the seams of my sleveless wetsuit, I could still feel the burning as I laid down on the ground and let another volunteer strip off my wetsuit in one vigorous pull. (not as kinky as it sounds).

One leg down and two more to go. A piece of advice from fellow T3'er Ralph popped into my mind. He told me to take my time in transition to make sure I have everything I need. These would be the only "planned" breaks of the day so make sure you don't rush through them too fast and forget something. I headed towards my T1 bag and found it immediately. I remember thinking, "There's still a ton of bags here, so I'm doing alright!"  I jogged into the women's changing tent and was immediately assisted by a volunteer who led me to an empty seat. The changing tent is like backstage at a play during a costume change. Clothes are flying, people are naked, adrenaline is pumping and no one cares because everyone is in their own character. My awesome volunteer was helping me empty my transition bag...bike helmet, towel to wipe my now muddy feet, socks, shoes, sunglasses, Garmin...Where the hell is my Garmin? I know it was here because I turned it on and set it this morning to beep at me every 15 minutes. Where can it be? We were both on our hands and knees looking to see where it may have fallen, but couldn't find it. I still had my bike computer, but I was frustrated that I lost my valuable Garmin. I didn't want to waste anymore time, so the volunteer said, "I'll keep looking and put it in your bag if I find it. You go and I'll pack everything else up."  I left the tent and hit the sunscreen volunteers (probably the grossest job in my opinion). Dozens of volunteers were stationed to lather every sweaty participant with sunscreen for the bike. Arms, legs, face, neck...you name it.  It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.  I headed towards my lovely bike, grabbed her and quickly checked the tire pressure (still good) and made my way out of transition to the bike course.

It felt like I was in transition for about 20 minutes and I SWEAR the clock read 1:40 when I left! I remember thinking, "I'm going to catch some serious hell for a 20-minute T1!"  Turns out it was around 8 minutes...

The Iron-Chick has Landed...Let the Recap Begin

Earth to Carrie...Earth to Carrie.

I've finally returned from my weeklong vacation of utter beauty and utter gluttony. After the race, Shawn and I took off with my parents in a 31-foot RV headed for Sedona and the Grand Canyon. (Cross between the Clampetts and the Griswalds) We had a total blast and were constantly humbled by the nature surrounding us.  It kinda makes Ironman pale in comparison when you're standing on the ledge of the Grand Canyon admiring one of the seven wonders of the world. 

Alas, we returned home late last night and I did what I've been wanting to do for a long time. This morning, after watching the Web Stream of the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in bed, Shawn and I grabbed some coffee and headed down to Lady Bird Lake for a walk...Yes, a walk...with coffee. During the heavy weeks, I dreamed of this moment where I could take a leisurely stroll without thinking of time splits and goals. Today, I did it!!  Ok, we cheated and jogged for about a mile, but I enjoyed every step. 

Thanks again to everyone who followed along and sent texts, emails, phone messages and comments. I'm just now getting back to them since there wasn't much in the way of cell/wi-fi. 

Recap is written and will be uploaded into segments complete with photos and videos!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Giving Shawn the play-by-play immediately after the race. Look, it's still dusk behind us!!!

Running towards friends and family. I dare you to wipe that grin off my face!

After 12 hrs and 16 minutes, Team Carrie-Zona was still smiling too!

With some of the T3 coaches and team members in the Finishing tent. T3 kicked ass and had    3 athletes win their age groups!

With T3 Head Coaches Chrissie and Maurice. They brought me to the big dance and I couldn't be more grateful. Mo blasted a 10:30 and Chrissie placed 4th in her age group with an 11:17!  So yeah, I trust 'em.

I'm gathering my thoughts and thanks, but both are too overwhelming to actually articulate at the moment. Needless to say, I couldn't be more ecstatic with the way my day went in the "Arizona Incinerator." I'm definitely a happy camper--literally. I'm now in Sedona with my husband and parents tooling around the state in a 31-ft RV! We stopped off for two nights at the swank L'Auberge Resort and Spa and I had a killer 1 1/2 hour massage this morning. The therapist got a kick out of my racer tan lines, odd chaffing, and chewed up toes!

I've posted a few more pics while I begin to formulate a recap of what turned out to be the perfect day for me. Others didn't fare so well. They announced at the awards that this was the 3rd largest DNF Ironman. About 18% of the people didn't finish. I'm one of the lucky few who did with some gusto and a smile on my face.

I found out that I was 12th out of 87 in my age group and had the 6th fastest marathon of women 30-34. I passed over 600 people on the run according to the results! While that seems a little unrealistic, it truly was a death march for most of the afternoon as the relentless sun blazed down.

Thanks so much for all of the great comments and encouragement! My list of thanks is endless, but it begins and ends with my husband Shawn. This wouldn't have been half the experience it was without him. He made it relaxing, luxurious, gratifying and, oh so much fun. The only race anxiety I had was whether the hot tub would be warm enough when I got home. Seriously, he did everything. Of course, my "Carrie-Zona" crew of Richard, Steph, Thon and Amy who took time out of their crazy lives to spend a weekend supporting me. Their hi-fives, hugs, photos and blog updates were simply awesome. Plus, they kept telling me how awesome I was and everyone needs a little of that in their lives. Of course, I also have to thank my Mom and Dad for being the troopers that they are. Nine months ago, I couldn't explain what an Ironman was to them. How do you fathom this race afterall?!? Two days ago, they witnessed first hand all of the good, the bad and the ugly that goes along with it. Plus, they got to see their daughter achieve a new goal that can only be reached through hard work, hard effort and a lot of heart--all of which I learned from them. So really, I only manifested what they've instilled in me from day one.

More to come (including videos of the finish and a race report), but for now I'm off to do some light hiking in the Red Rocks of Sedona. Yes, I said hiking. 

After all, I am an Ironman. :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008


12:16:40! Carrie da bomb!

Quick update

remember Carrie's pace for the first 3.5 miles? 9:29? Well, for the next 8.5 she knocked out a 9:28! Are negative splits the order for the day? Stay tuned to find out!


This just in - run leg 1

For the first 3.5 miles, Carrie's pace was a solid 9:29, right where she planned it. And she looks strong and happy, doesn't she! Only time will tell how many folk she picks off during the run, but she's off to a fantastic start.


Run Like the Wind

Wow, the race conditions are truly brutal, but Carrie is looking as good as ever!!

She ran past our outpost at the 3 mile and 8 mile mark. We made some racket.


Biking Queen

(apologies to Abba)

Carrie is in her element now! She tore up the last and longest lap with a 17.23 mph lap for a total bike time of 6:40:24. That's a 16.74mph average speed and good enough to move her up 230 places to 1049th overall, in a male-dominated field. Congratulations Carrie! After a 3:14 transition we just watched her run past the Gazelle tent - she looked tired and hot (it is 95 degrees & she has been going for 8 hours and 45 minutes) but happy, running with great form and two thumbs way, way up!


Official T-Shirt of Team Carrie-zona (Yes, that's a Block O for all you Buckeyes out there...Thanks Matt and Amy!)

The Carrie Sky Box (no better seat in the house to view the Lake and the Marathon)

At 2 pm it's 94 degrees with winds gusting to 23mph...and it's only April here. These are extremely difficult conditions in which to spectate much less compete. Please send your prayers and positive thoughts Carrie's way. She's on her last loop of the bike course, which will then be followed by a "cool down" marathon.  I said MARATHON!!!!! 26.2 miles!!! Running is her forte, but she rarely even thinks about running in conditions like these. I know she loves a challenge though.

Good news for fellow Austinite James Bonney (of Team Jack and Adam's) who is currently in 2nd place on the second (of three) loops of the run...a mere 1 minute behind.  Go James!!  Our Gazelle tent is less than ten yards from the run course and we can see each runner 6 times (amazing). I can't wait for my Wonder Woman to come by....our presence will be known.

Stay tuned.



We are the worst spectators ever... But its all Carrie's fault. She's just too damned fast! We must have missed her by no more than 2 minutes as she clocked 16.95 mph for a 2:11:00 37 mile loop. Next time we'll be way too early.

Best. Ironman. Ever!


More Pics from Live Action in Tempe

Ironman Carrie-zona in Full Color

Check out Carrie. She looks great.

Bike leg 1 - 2:13:25

This time, we were ready. More than ready. Expect mucho video and many photos in an hour or so. Until then, check out that 16.1 average speed! She's right in track and looks amazing. We cheered on a few T3ers, some Texas Iron and Jack & Adam's guys, and then Carrie rounded the corner. She's strong, relaxed, and confident. As she should be ... The hay is spilling out of the barn and ready to burn!

Stay tuned...


Ironman Carrie-zona

Thanks everyone for being patient. I finally was able to get WiFi. Thanks also to Richard's i-phone.

The excitement here is very palpable (love to throw in a doctor word). Carrie had an awesome swim. The wind seems stronger than the forecasted 10mph so will see how she does on the first of three bike loops...We expect her to come by within the hour...cowbells and Maracas are ready.

Our set-up on the Shoreline is the best seat in the house..thanks Gilbert for the canopy tent. Amy, Thon, and I just finished a nice run along the waterfront (part of the marathon course). Beautiful day for viewing...a tad hot for Ironman-ing.

Stay tuned for more updates.


Swim time - 1:20:24

Carrie has left the old back-of-the-pack swimmer a long, long way behind her! With a blistering 2:05 pace for the swim, she finished in 1,274th place overall. No word on age group rankings yet. Her goal, on a perfect day, was 1:25, and she knocked it out of the park!

The only bad part of the whole thing was that we missed her coming out of the water. She was that fast! Her transition time was 7:59 so it looks like she had a chance to eat something and get on the bike with everything ready.

Pictures will show up later in the day, assuming we can catch her!


Past the turn in the swim!

Our favorite ironman got off to a great start; by now she should be past the turnaround and swimming for shore. We're set up with the gazelle tent just past transition so we should be able to see her 6-7 times easily. Keep sending her those good wishes!

-Guest blogger Richard

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Little Miss Ironman

Well the Big Day is nearly here... it's Ironman eve and my lovely wife Carrie is all tucked in.  She did a practice swim in Tempe Town Lake early this morning and we drove one loop of the bike course.  Amy and Thon arrived this afternoon from Austin so the on-site Carrie cheering squad is ready to make some noise.  We enjoyed a great pre-race dinner at the world famous Tarbell's (chef Mark Tarbell was a cohort/co-writer with Lance's trainer Chris Carmichael on many of his recipes).  We enjoyed one final soak in the truly Hot Tub.

Tomorrow's raceday conditions will be especially brutal.  Tempe Town Lake water temp is 62 degrees (even colder than Barton Springs).  Some people even experienced "Brain Freeze" during the practice swim.  Temperatures on the bike and run will be near 95 degrees.  Winds fortunately are only expected to be 10mph out of the East.

Carrie will rise at 3:30 am to start eating so she is well-fueled by the 7am start time.

We will do our best to keep everyone updated tomorrow,  so log on frequently to her blog.  If for some reason our access to WiFi is limited, please follow her on ironmanlive.com (Carrie's race number is 2055).

Carrie and I thank you for all of your support leading up to this day.  Here's wishing her all the best.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Ironman Village and Race Prep


Flexing my Ironman muscles with Flat Stanley

Shawn and I inside Ironman Village (trying to act like I'm not nervous)

Mom and Dad wondering why the hell I would do this...and also wondering why so many men wear speedos here. It sure beats the weather in Ohio right now!

T3 Team Pose after a carb-loading lunch! Trust me, no alcohol was consumed. (until later)

Katy and I showing off the IM Vehicle!

Mo, Katy, me and Ralph in front of my IM Vehicle "The Grand Carrie-Van"

Ok--so after doing packet pickup, we came back to the house so that I could practice my swim 
:-)...and, of course, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We're Here!

140.6 BABY!!! Hanging by the side of I-10 in Las Cruces, NM

After 1000+ miles, 2 1/2 hours of sleep and one small freakish storm, we've made it to the Greater Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale region. Our house is GREAT complete with a small pool, hot tub and plenty of comfy beds and showers for the eight of us who will be bunking throughout the weekend. I'll definitely be soaking my legs in the hot tub to loosen them up from the car ride!

Tomorrow morning, we pick my parents up from the airport and then head to the Race Site for check-in and all of the associated mayhem and nerves that are sure to accompany that visit.  I'll also be having lunch with the T3 contingent consisting of nearly 25 team members!

It's hot and the wind is blowing...It must be Ironman time