About Me

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happiness is...

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

-George Sheehan

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

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

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

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


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

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

I can't wait. Cheers to 2009!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Always Get a Second Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

Her advice?? Just Swim More. 

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


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

Happy Holidays to All!! 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are You Ready to Dot the M in 2009?

I Know I AM...

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

Together, we can Dot the M!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One More Reason To Live Life to the Fullest

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

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

The brief article is here.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why I'll Never Have 6-Pack Abs

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

In case you got lost on the way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With new friend and fellow blogger Kathleen from Houston!

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

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

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

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

My bronze horse trophy and prize money! yee haw!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunmart is the BEST RACE EVER!

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Caption Contest

End of....

What do you think it says???

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

Monday, December 01, 2008

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

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