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, October 29, 2008

Same Race...Two Completely Different Marathons

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

Plus, there are some pics at the end!

HIS VERSION: Hubster's Rookie Race Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Version: Gunning for a 3:20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check this out:

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


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

Hubster and Carrie Post-Marathon Bliss!

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

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

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon

Avg Pace: 7:39
Distance: 26.23 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Skinning that Cat

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

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

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

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

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

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

* My race # 23453

* Shawn's race # 23645

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Circle of Life on a Dirt Track

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

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

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

Come to find out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When is Enough Enough??

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

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

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

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

With Tri-Stud couple Greg and Laura Bennett

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

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

Shawn has a fever for more IM cowbell!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Race Day Pics in No Particular Order

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

Craig Alexander coming across the finish

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

Wellington and Mike Reilly

Couldn't resist the socks photo

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

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

Austin Pro Desiree Ficker in the early portions of the bike

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

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

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

How does Faris Al-Sultan not chafe??

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Images of the IM World Championships 08


and they are off!

Finishing and Viewing Area
Bike Patrol waiting for the cyclists to emerge from T1

Race Day In Kona!

The sun comes up around 6am in Kona. How do I know this? Because Shawn and I were sleeping in the car when the sun started to rise. We found a great parking spot just off Ali'i Drive at 4:30am and attempted to fall back asleep.

We had dinner down here last night and the town was surprisingly subdued. Well--the only thing that wasn't subdued were the triathlete outfits! Are we the worst dressed athletes in sports, or what?!  People--enough of the knee high compression socks. They won't make you faster and they certainly don't make you look better.

We've been having a blast this morning--got to watch the swim start and the cycling "hot spot" where we caught three glimpses of the bike before they headed out to the Queen K.  After that, Shawn, Jack, Cassie and I headed to the nearest sports bar to watch the UT/OU football game!  Gotta love a victory shot at 9am!!

More soon!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Disneyworld for Triathletes!

Who needs this??

When You've Got This--

and this!

Hubster and I are off to KONA to tailgate with some of the Jack and Adam's Crew at the Ironman World Championships this weekend and fantasize what it would be like if one day I were to become a princess and marry my prince charming...oops wait...wrong fairytale. Who am I kidding?! I've already done that! Nope, we'll be fantasizing about doing that race someday when my golden slipper is actually a shimano shoe and my stage coach is my Guru Crono at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Cinderella and Ironman athletes do have one thing in common though...neither wants to see the stroke of Midnight or bad things happen.

Check back this weekend for fun updates and photos of the Ironman World Championships! I'll also be posting on my Facebook page as well.

There are several Austin triathletes doing the race, but Gazelle teammates Desiree Ficker and Pat Evoe get special shoutouts!!! (and photo credits above)


Monday, October 06, 2008

Longhorn Ironman 70.3

Coming by the T3 Tailgating Tent!! The best part of the day!!


The 2008 Tri season ended on such a wonderfully high note as I wrapped up this year with a Half-Ironman PR (by 35 sec!) on an incredibly difficult course under some less-than-ideal conditions.

The 1.2 mile swim

Almost laughable...In fact, I did laugh when I exited the water. out loud...Yes, the course was short. I don't swim a 1:35 pace per 100! (as much as I'd love to). Some estimated that it was 300-400m short, which would have added 5-6 minutes to my time. Still, though, even with those additional minutes, it would still be a very respectable swim for me. By comparison, I did the swim in over 47 minutes last year! Nothing like having a 17 minute lead coming out of the water!

The 56 mile bike
2:53: 31 (19.4 mph avg)

That bike split was truly faster than I ever thought I could ride this course of hills, turns, winds and bad chip sealed roads. Again last year, by comparison, I averaged 18.2 mph overall. The course was slightly different last year, but the bike course official said he thought this year's course was more difficult. I made a conscious decision to just put it all out there and try to hang on for the run. I knew my run wouldn't be as fast, but I was already way ahead of my time goal, so I knew I could be a little conservative on the run. The bike course went by much faster than I thought it would. There were only a few moments where mental frustration kicked in and that was usually because we made a turn directly into the wind. The last 10 miles were blessed with a tailwind on the way back to transition. That is until you hit the last two "bitch" and "bastard" hills heading back to the park. Overall, it was a good ride and I started the run with a little bravado and confidence.

The 13.1 mile run
2:06:07 (9:38 avg per mile)

As you can tell by my time split, that confidence didn't last long. Actually, let me take that back. I was feeling damn good for the first half of the half-marathon. The miles were ticking by between 8:15-8:30s...then 8:50s...then 9:00s...I was still cool because anything below sub 9:00 was fine with me. I was hoping to be conservative and still have energy to pick it up at the end. Yeah...well...no such luck. By Mile 6, my calves and quads were cramping BIG TIME. I'm talking vice grip cramps. I wouldn't run 100 yards without something seizing. Needless to say, the last several miles included several walking bouts interspersed with some jogging. There was such a nice guy on the course who kept walking with me and encouraging me with each step. He ended up giving me his "magic towel" (as he called it). T3 Tom even stopped for a bit as I was having a seizure moment. He steadied me enough so that I wouldn't fall over and look like a road carcass on the side of the course! At Mile "something," I took 2 electrolyte tablets. They didn't kick in until the last mile, but I was able to jog the last mile and not cramp up. Lesson learned... Oddly enough, I didn't feel dehydrated or depleted AT ALL. I followed my nutrition plan to a "t." It just didn't include extra salt because I didn't think I'd need it.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the overall time, even though I was on pace for a 5:20 until the wheels came off at mile 6 of the run. As I look back on this year of triathlon, I've seen some incredible growth with my swimming and cycling, both of which I consider to be my "weaknesses." Ironically, they were my saving graces yesterday. I owe so much of that improvement to my T3 coaches and team. I can't tell you what a benefit it is to train with such a large community of like-minded individuals. It's a community of overachievers no doubt, but genuinely amazing people. I wouldn't trade the comraderie or discipline for anything.

Shawn also posted a huge PR on his race today as he continues to knock off his PR in chunks of 15-minute intervals! (we should all be so lucky). When we got home, he thanked me for getting him into triathlons. I thanked him for not divorcing me because of it.
swim: 38:10
bike 3:22:50
run 2:26
And now....it's off to KONA for the World Championships this weekend!!!