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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Winos with a Triathlon Problem

And there you have it...Our last long, heavy weekend of training and now the countdown begins. In fact, if all goes well, in three weeks from right about now, both hubster and I will be Ironmen! I gotta say, it's been an interesting few months of training. It's hard to believe that our first few rides were in multiple layers of clothing, 3 pairs of socks, gloves and ear warmers. Now, we're applying sunscreen and downing water by the gallons.  We've all come a long way and I'm so proud and excited for all of my friends (all 59 of of us from T3!) that will toe the shore.
We had our final team meeting today and it was interesting to look around the room and observe people. Honestly, most of us are just plain tired (as was evidenced by a few people who were literally dozing off during the meeting!) Don't get me wrong--Mo's meeting was very interesting, emotional and informative. I'll think we're all just burnt to a crisp physically, mentally and emotionally!  On Saturday, we rode 75-80 miles. Some people did the Real Ale Ride, others stayed in town and did the Bee Caves loop, and Shawn and I headed down to Johnson City for our last few loops on the "LBJ Ranch Cruise."  Today, Shawn and I were up at 5:15am and swimming in Barton Springs by 6:00am. After our 4000m, we immediately hit the trails for a 12 mile run. I was feeling great except for my right leg and continued quad/hip flexor issues. Yes, I'm going to get it looked at this week. I realize it's not natural for one leg to simply lock up. 
Our ride yesterday was such a much-needed confidence boost! For the first time, the wind wasn't a major factor and we averaged 17.4 miles over the hilly 76 miles that we rode. Pretty impressive considering I've not done better than 16.5 mph in previous attempts at the same loop. Am I stronger? I certainly hope so! Again, it was great being able to ride without 20-25 mph wind gusts that deflate egos as well as momentum.  Needless to say, we were both happy with our times even though my legs were trashed as usual. I took enough sodium, but didn't drink enough water. My quads were definitely feeling the deprivation of hydration towards the end.
In our usual fashion, we decided to make an afternoon of our trip to the Hill Country and visit three new wineries that we've never been to.  Rancho Ponte Vineyard, Pedernales Cellars and Torre di Pietro. All three were dandy and we ended up having our afternoon picnic will listening to the "Almost Patsy Cline Band" under an open air pavilion watching people country dance. It was a great afternoon indeed.

Throughout the course of IM CDA training, hubster and I have visited the wine areas of the Texas Hill Country, Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles. These "mini-vacations" have made the training such a blast...or maybe "less intense" than your typical training weekends. We've seen some lovely sites and cycled/run some challenging courses. Are we fast? Not so much...Are we strong?  You bet.  Most importantly--are we having fun? Without a doubt. These are the best days of our life and training for an event of this caliber is a gift and a privilege. These trips ensure that we don't take any of it for granted. And, as a couple both logging 15-20 hours a week, these excursions and our long rides have allowed us precious time together. I know it sounds kinda cheesy, but we've just had so much fun training together and racing together. We've just watched each other get stronger and stronger and transform our minds and bodies. 

Watching the IMCDA video today, seeing my training partners and watching coach get visibly emotional when telling the story of a long-shot finish, just put the icing on the cake of 6 intense months of training. Looking through last year's entries, I can honestly say that I'm stronger and more prepared this year. I was sick a lot last year and haven't been sick at all this time (knock on wood). Last year, I remember feeling constantly fatigued and this year I feel stronger and more energized (change to vegan diet?!).  My open water swim times are slightly faster than last year and my long runs are definitely faster overall. The big mystery of power is the bike. It's hard to say whether or not I've gotten faster because I haven't done a lot of group riding this season. It still takes me about 20 miles of riding before my legs stop aching and I settle in to the ride. That can certainly be frustrating, but as long as I mentally prepare for that, I'll be fine. I still look at most of my teammates and put them way above me on the bike.

All in all, I couldn't be happier and now it's time to recover and suffer through the "taper blues."  Hubster and I decided yesterday that once we all return from CDA, we're going to schedule a fun T3 recovery ride in Johnson City and do some wine tasting as a large group. After all, we deserve it, don't we??

This season hasn't had a whole lot of whining, but it's definitely had a whole lot of winin' and I wouldn't want it any other way. 

21 days to go!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where's the Cruise Control on this Machine?

Got a fortune cookie the other night at Firebowl cafe:

"The human body was designed to walk, run or stop; it wasn't built for coasting."

The last six months of training have definitely included copious amounts of walking, running and maybe a stop here and there...but definitely NO coasting (especially on the computrainer).

Although, I must say, now that the taper is approaching, I do hope to pop it on cruise control and coast to June 21st, where I will kick a little Coeur D'Alene ass!

Physically, I'm peaked. In fact, my swimming seems to have regressed a bit in the pool. My endurance levels are great and my 4000m open water swims have been where they need to be (a few minutes faster than last year), but my interval sessions are...blah!

That means it's essentially time to shut it down and rest, rest, rest. We've got one more long weekend ahead of us complete with an 80 mile bike ride and 12 mile run. After that, it's taper time!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Hubster and I celebrated our 2nd Wedding Anniversary yesterday with a romantic T3 Spin/Run brick workout!  We followed that up with a gorgeous sunset and dinner on the rooftop of Whole Foods with Katy, Alisa, Maggie, Michelle and Tom. So, we didn't do the "Electric Slide" or anything, but it was a wonderful evening. Shawn, of course, outdid himself and brought a cooler with some lovely prosecco for a toast.

P.S. We STILL haven't eaten the top of our wedding cake from two years ago. It's still in my parent's freezer in Ohio (I hope!)  Save it for us Mom and Dad! We will eat it eventually!!!

Maggie, Katy, Alisa sharing a toast from compostable Whole Foods cups!

The Happy Couple basking in post-workout bliss

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Practice Man!

First of all, congratulations to all who competed in yesterday's Cap Tex Triathlon in Austin yesterday. A gorgeous sunrise made way for a super hot race, but from the looks of it, most people had smokin' fast times! (something about wanting to get off the course before they melted!) It was a pleasure hosting my bud TriGreyhound and his coach Kris for the night! Both kicked some serious booty out there! Congratulations aplenty go out to so many of the T3'ers who raced and placed in their respective age groups...Sometimes we wonder if this training really pays off. You don't really know until you take a test. Guess what? You all passed with flying colors and set the curve for so many!!

I had a blast out there volunteering at the swim start dealing with nervous energy, paranoid first-timers, overbearing mothers, intense pros, hilarious and energetic age groupers and people who wanted to hand me their shoes and snot rags before jumping into the lake. Part of me wanted to be racing right along with them, but I'm glad I didn't...Gotta save every ounce of energy for IM CDA, which is now a mere 4 weeks away!

This past weekend was the annual "T3 Practice Man" race and 40/13, 40 weekend. Friday night started off with my open water swim at the Quarry with Michelle. We both got off work early for the holiday and after a few coaxing texts, convinced each other to meet at the Quarry BEFORE Happy Hour(s). It was my first swim in the Quarry and I loved it...Good change of scenery from Barton Springs. It's awesome that the buoys are set up and you can do continuous loops without stopping. Plus, 5 loops seems so much faster than 10 laps at Barton Springs. We successfully completed our mission and the successfully completed our Happy Hour Mission with some Mexican Martinis!!

Saturday's workout is the test run brick. Coaches put up bike racks and T3 volunteers had set up "aid stations" along the run course making it as "race ready" as it could be. How cool is that?! We did a mind-numbing 5 South Mopac Loops for about 42 miles. Like everyone, I went over my race pace and averaged about 19.5 mph overall. That loop lends itself to pretty speedy times and I wasn't pushing it to threshold. However, I did want to feel some fatigue to simulate actual race day. (these days it's not hard to simulate any kind of fatigue).

After my quick "transition" (i.e. putting bike in car and grabbing water), I headed out on the 13 mile run, which was two 6.5 mile out and bikes on Escarpment from LaCrosse to William Cannon. We've ridden on this road a million times and I loved it for the run because it has a good mixture of climbs and downhills, without being too severe. I started off at a very comfortable 8:20 pace and gradually just kept picking it up throughout the run. I was so nervous about my right leg numbness issues, but they caused me no issues whatsoever---thank goodness. Landon and Nancy were parked at the right spot with water and ice for everyone. Alisa was staged on another part of the course with oranges. So thoughtful... It was so great getting and receiving energy from the other people who were out there also training for IM CDA and other events. It certainly gave me a little taste of the energy I'll feel on race day. I tried to give encouragement to everyone I passed either coming or going. Sometimes that's all you need, right? Apparently, it worked because I ended up averaging 7:52 overall for the 13 mile run. I was certainly getting fatigued at the end, but channeled that quick finish as best I could.

Afterwards, the T3 coaches had set up a picnic-style party with pizza, cookies, beer, soda, water, etc. Renee and Michelle from Performance Wellness also set up their massage tables and gave everyone a much-needed rubdown. Many people made wonderful desserts (from which I abstained). I was actually quite the dork and brought my own muffin with PB and Jelly. I did have one piece of pizza--sorta. I took off the cheese. Still workin' the Engine 2 diet my friends!! I've been 99% vegan for over 3 months! I say 99% because there has been occasional dairy intake via gelato and a couple of pieces of sushi.

Overall, it was an awesome training day and wiped me out more than I ever thought it would!! We learned that one of our teammates Maggie had taken a freak fall on the bike course and was taken to the hospital for an EKG and cat scan. Fortunately, she ended up being ok...Another reminder and testament to wearing your helment and remembering how fragile we are.
I was brutally tired and sore when I got up the next morning to head to the Training Center for my Computrainer ride. I told Coach Mo that I was depressed because as I was leaving, all of my neighbors still had their newspapers on the front porch which meant that they were still sleeping happily as I was heading to hop on the bike AGAIN!!....Choices, Carrie...Choices...Needless to say, my Computrainer ride turned into a 2.5 hour recovery ride and dismal performance on the CDA course. I got through a few of the hills and Jesse, Val and I all said, "Enough for today." My legs weren't having it, but I felt like I had certainly accomplished the mission. (FYI--our computrainer for the house is still in the box!) Sometimes you just have to listen to your body!

Well, I for one, plan on listening very acutely to my body for the next four weeks. I'm putting it on cruise control and just focusing on staying healthy and eating right. I would also include, "getting plenty of sleep," but I never feel like I get enough sleep these days.

It wasn't much of a Memorial Day, BBQ weekend, but it was complete and gratifying just the same. It was spent with great friends (and husbands) doing what we truly love to do. What more could you ask for?!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Joy of Text Messaging

Three subsequent texts to my phone this morning before 6:30am...(The senders shall remain anonymous unless they'd like to announce themselves)

Texter #1 Maybe Open Water Swim on Sunday instead

Texter #2 Head hurts. Swim later

Texter #3 damn it...overslept :( Have a great swim

Now, the smug person in me would like to have said, "Hmph...lazy people. I swam and they didn't...ha ha. I'll show them who the real Ironman is..."

What I really said was, "Who the hell keeps texting me this early when I'm trying to sleep?!? Oh...oops...I'm supposed to be at Barton Springs right now."

Can you tell we're at the end of our training and we're all basically burnt to a crisp?

One month to go...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Perfect (and I mean that) Birthday Week

The last few weeks have been nothing short of spectacular, overwhelming, fun, fulfilling, stressful, humbling, relaxing and everything else in between.

A long awesome weekend in Central/So Cal after the Wildflower Triathlon with my bro-in-law was followed up by a wonderfully relaxing Mother's Day weekend in San Antonio with my in-laws. I say 'relaxing,' in the only way someone training for an Ironman can mean it. That is to say that in between wonderful meals (Thanks Kay for the vegan chick pea patties!!!), wine, and sleep, we also squeezed in a 95 mile bike ride and a 20 mile run, plus church, plus Mother's Day brunch (for more great food and champagne).

I was prepared for an incredibly busy week at work when my perfect (and I mean that) husband told me he had planned a secret weekend trip for my birthday and our anniversary. He could see the stress on my face and promised that we wouldn't miss our long workouts (another 20 mile run and a 100 mile ride). I wasn't so much worried about that as I was about the looming work deadlines for the week. However, three intense days of working from morning until well past my bedtime, and I was able to escape!!

And escape we did...to San Francisco and Napa Valley.

God, I love this man. (Warning to all other men: Take Heed and Follow these Simple Photos)

There was chilled birthday champagne in our hotel room overlooking the Bay.

There was a pre-mapped 20-mile run that took us across the Golden Gate Bridge, down through Golden Gate Park, around the Presidio and up and down a few hills along the way.

Every meal was planned at wonderful vegetarian restaurants including Herbivore, Seed, and my favorite, Cafe Gratitude. Here, you order vegan items called, "I am Enlightened," "I am Beautiful," and "I am Joyful" (just to name a few)

In an attempt to continually do this...

We ended up here...where a private cottage awaited on top of the valley.

There were plenty of great vines for which to be grateful...and we were

...very grateful

On my birthday, Shawn found an organized century ride that included two mountain passes, miles around Napa, lakes, vineyards, etc. It was so very difficult, but spectacular. Temps were well over 100 that day and we held our own quite nicely. You'll also notice that my perfect (and I mean that) husband had also rented two great light carbon fiber bikes for our excursion!

One of our best meals was at a place called Ubuntu, which means "humanity towards others." Again, the food was artful and over the top, as was the decor inside. It also doubles as a yoga studio.

When we returned home, my box of goodies from my sponsors and Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods was there waiting to be opened! Sponsors hooked us up with visors, food, nuun, bottles, goggles, and great discounts on top-of-the-line gear.

When I went to work the next day, these boxes were waiting for me...my new Kestrel bicycle and our Computrainer for the house!

My perfect (and I mean that) husband had planned and executed the perfect weekend getaway, but it wasn't over there. When I peeked inside the bike box, I received another surprise. He had called Steve from Kestrel bikes behind my back and switched my bike order.

Airfoil Pro Special Edition
To all of you that are asking the questions right now, let me go ahead and answer them for you. "YES," I do realize how lucky I am... and "NO," I don't know what he sees in me either.
...and I mean that!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Weekend Adventure

Shawn informed me yesterday that we're taking a secret vacation this weekend to celebrate my birthday! I couldn't hide the panic and stress realizing that not only am I swamped at work (and will no doubt be working on my vacation), but that this is also the final long, LONG weekend of Ironman training...115-120 mile bike and 18-20 mile run. 

He assured me we would NOT miss a key workout. In fact, aside from "warm weather clothes," I'm instructed to bring my pedals, shoes, saddle and bike helmet.  

It's going to be an interesting weekend no doubt--wherever the airplane takes us!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Come to Mama!

This little guy is on his way to me as we speak! My Erin Baker's Tri Team 2009 Kestrel Airfoil Pro! Special thanks to Steve at Kestrel Bikes for being so patient with me as I went back and forth on my questions, measurements, and even style of bike I wanted to order. I went back and forth more times than I want to count, but finally (after hours of discussion, lost nights of sleep, and ultimate relenting), settled on the Airoil Pro SL! 

Also, here are first pics where I'm sporting my Erin Baker's Race Kit. I pulled the ultimate "no-no" and raced in an outfit I'd never even tried on! In fact, I didn't remove the tags until race morning. Guess what? It worked out perfectly!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Random Pics and Musings from Wildflower Weekend (and the REAL reason it's called the Woodstock of Triathlon)

We hadn't even made it to the race site and had to stop at a winery in Paso Robles

Meeting Annie and Erica from Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods (my team!) They hooked me up with loads of product and a rockin' race kit!

Just a smattering of the thousands of tents, campers and RVs that were strewn throughout the park. It was rainy and chilly on Friday, but race day was absolutely perfect!!

This was our "tent" for the weekend...a Chrysler Town and Country Minivan. We used the foam from our bike boxes and bought sleeping bags and pillows at Walmart...It was like a damn Four Seasons! (PS--I tried on the Erin Baker's Race Kit)

Keeping our tootsies warm in our $3 fake crocs from Walmart.

Hannah Montana and camouflage...We are stylish

Getting ready on race morning! It was cool, but the rain had stopped. Perfect race conditions.

Thousands of bikes in transition. The Long Course was the same day as the Mountain Bike race.

The first of MANY hills on the race course...a long and steep run out of the water and up to transition.

That long steep climb continues...Transition area still not even in view.

Shawn looking like he's ready for more after finishing!

Wine Tasting in and around the Paso Robles area the day after the race. We started at 10am and hit 8 wineries.

Clearly not caring what I looked like the day after the race! I got to pick out my own wine glass. "Zin Bitch" was a no-brainer.

And the real reason that Wildflower is called the "Woodstock of Triathlon"

...wait for it...

wait for it...

wait for it....

Random Musings About Wildflower Triathlon

* Everyone should do this event at least once in their "career." It's such a unique experience.

* They have race logistics down to a "t" complete with shuttles that took you DOWN the steep hill (that you had to run down the next day). Camping was well organized and there were plenty of showers (albeit cold) and toilets (bring your own rolls of TP).

* Transition area stayed open all morning, which was cool because you could keep going back to your area if you forgot something.

* Location is in the middle of nowhere, but the surroundings were truly beautiful. It was like the Hill Country on 'roids.

* Getting to watch the pros come out of the water was cool and watching Potts fall over his bike in transition was even cooler (at least I now know he's human). Of course, he still won the race.

* Bad cell service--not necessarily a bad thing!

* Tents aren't necessary when you have a stow-n-go minivan and a couple of foam pads and sleeping bags!

* Mandatory trip to Walmart... water, crocs, paper plates, chairs, pillows, cooler, and plenty of bagels and peanut butter for the weekend!!

Race Course

* Swim course was awesome even though lake level was low and you could see the bottom. Also, it was a shocking 63-64 degrees, but warmed up perfectly as the swim progressed.

* Running up ramp from lake to T1--not so much fun when you're trying to breathe and unzip wetsuit at the same time. Made for a longer than usual transition.

* Bike Course--lordy, lordy, lordy...Quick breakdown: first 10 miles = HARD, middle 30 miles = flat to rolling, last 15 Miles = DAMN YOU WILDFLOWER!

* Beach Hill and Nasty Grade are forever etched in my skull!! Fortunately, I had no intentions of going fast so I just plunked it in the easiest gear and took my time getting up the hills. No hammering of the quads--I had heard how brutal the run was...

* I feared the course going in and vowed to not work too hard on the bike. I really just wanted to practice CDA pacing (16-18mph). I averaged 16.8, which was perfect because I felt great when I got off the bike! During the middle 30 miles, I actually had my average at 18mpgh, but it dropped to a lovely 16.5 during the two miles of Nasty Grade.

* Nasty Grade is from Mile 41-44 ish...The view from the summit is actually worth the climb. The descent is horrifying for a wuss like me.

*You desperately want the hills to be over when you finish Nasty Grade, but they are not...far from it...

* Celebrity Moment--conversing with Triathlete stud and writer Scott Tinley going up Nasty Grade. We spoke on and off for the next few miles. He was only doing the bike portion and was bragging that he was going to have a beer and a margarita while I was running the half-marathon.

* The run--while I was coming in on the bike, I actually saw several people stretching out cramps on the run. Uh oh...

* 60% trail/40% pavement

* I took it really easy and was averaging about 8:45s on the first three miles. I could've gone faster, but I'm glad I didn't. Mile 4 was a bee-otch! Major trail climb. Thought I could keep running, but I found myself walking with everybody else on that monster.

* For the first time in a while, my run mojo was on and there were no signs of leg cramps...gradually started picking up the pace. Passing people left and right and damn it felt good. Afterall, I did have some ground to make up.

* Mile 10 has a long decline. Most of the time, I welcome downhill running, but this one didn't seem to end and I could see the look on the faces of the people walking back up. For the first time, I wanted the downhill to stop.

* Saw my buddy Jeff from Austin. Good to get a personal shout-out!

* Coming back up, I was feeling particularly strong (relative to others who were walking the hill). Made brief conversation with another strong runner decked out in AVIA gear. She was motoring along...She also made note of the fact that she was only doing a run relay. I ended up chicking her. Hell yeah, I did.

* One more uphill climb and then the quad buster downhill on Lynch Hill for the last mile. Seriously, this hill is insane to go up or down! Fortunately, I never did cramp up so I attacked that hill with everything I had.

* Finished strong and felt so proud that I had a good race. Not my fastest time, but I expected to be much slower.

* Felt weird wearing my Erin Baker's Tri Uniform, and not my usual T3 blue. Not a good or bad thing--just different.

* Honestly, I also liked being at a race where I could be "incognito" and not have the pressure of teammates, friends, etc. who have certain expectations of what you should do. It was very liberating in a sense and alleviated tons of unnecessary self-imposed pressure.

* I will do the race again, but not in 2010 because I'll be doing IM St. George--another whopper!!

So my final numbers:

13th out of 90 in age group!

33rd out of water

26th on the bike

6th on the run
Next time I may push a little harder on the bike, but I will NEVER run naked!

Wildflower Rocks!

Without much reflection, let me just say that Wildflower is a must-do for anyone who is into triathlon. It was, by far, the best race experience I've ever had up to this point. It was also the hardest race I've done up to this point, but I had a blast from start to finish!! Why? Because I wasn't competing...I was "experiencing" Wildflower. 

We had so much fun and lucked out with amazing weather on race day. I mean AMAZING!! Virtually no wind (first time all year) and highs in the low 70s with no humidity. My nutrition was spot-on and I felt fueled and energized the entire day. I even had a couple of brushes with tri-celebrities along the course. 

My goal going into it was to do between a 6:00-6:30. Based on everything I've read and heard about the course, even those were lofty goals. Well--because I was conservative on the bike, I was able to blast a 1:47 Half-Marathon for an overall time of 5:52!   Good enough for 13th out of 90 in my age group! I'll take it--especially when I didn't feel like I pushed it at all. I truly was practicing my Ironman patience. I finished with plenty of gas in the tank, which was a huge confidence booster for Ironman Coeur D'Alene!

Pics and stories coming soon!!!