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, February 28, 2010

Alanis Morrisette Was Right. Don'tcha think?

Black fly in your chardonnay
Death row pardon two minutes too late
Rain on your wedding day
Free ride when you've already paid...

yada yada yada

I finally succombed and booked my hip scope surgery only to turn around and have an AMAZING weekend of training!  Grrr...  All is well, though. It's more of a reinforcement that this stuff can be fun and enjoyable, not mostly frustrating.

Rode 32 miles of hills with Austin Cycle Camp on Friday morning. The route was a mystery upon arrival only to discover we were doing some serious hill climbing! Yikes!! I held my own quite well though and managed to climb Balcones, the backside of Mt. Bonnell, Mesa, and the two major hills on 360. If I had known the route prior to showing up, I probably would've wussed out and bailed. There's something to be said for surprises.  I had a great time riding with new people and faces. The guys from Austin Cycle Camp were awesome and I look forward to many more punishing rides.

Saturday was an Austin T3  and Oceanside training day complete with a 56 mile bike ride to San Marcos and back, plus a 4 mile brick off the bike. I was able to average 18.5 mph for the entire ride which is about 1-2 mph faster than I normally ride...thanks to riding on the T3 pain train for the first 10 miles or so. I had tons of strength throughout and was certainly doing my fair share of pulling throughout the ride.  Had an awesome 4 mile brick averaging 8:09s overall. Relatively little hip pain throughout...A little burning, but no catching, clicking or locking. Oddly enough, my "good" hip was giving me the most trouble damn it.

Today, I met Richard for a gorgeous 13.1 mile run. What a difference a week makes. Last week I couldn't get through 5 miles. Today I ran 13 and finished strong. We took our time and my overall average for the run was 9:09s. Again, I was having relatively little hip pain and mostly just muscle soreness from the two hard rides from the days before.

Top that off with two bikram classes, a couple of birthday celebrations with friends, and a movie date with my hubster and I'd call it a perfect weekend!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There Comes a Time...When We Heed a Certain Call

No, I didn't record another really crappy translation of "We are the World," thank goodness. I did, however, come to peace with my body.  Well, we're still at odds, but I came to peace with my future.

After a year of pain, numbness, frustration, MRIs, injections, therapy (of all sorts) and sleepless nights, I finally scheduled hip scope surgery for May 19th in Austin. Why three months from now?  Well, I wouldn't want a knife and a crazy surgeon with a scope to get in the way of Oceanside 70.3 on March 27th, now would I?? I also wouldn't want to be the gimpy one on crutches when we go to Utah in early May to cheer friends on at Ironman St. George and hike around some of the National Parks for a week!  This surgery thing is going to slow me down and right now I've got things to do, places to go, and people to see! (and races to run!)

In actuality, I'm both relieved that I finally made a decision and a little bummed that I haven't found "the miracle cure" for torn hip cartilage. Oh, I suppose the miracle cure would be to sit on my ass and do nothing, but that's not going to happen. So there. After weighing every option more times than I want to recount, it ultimately came down to this:  I want to be fit and active for many years. I don't want to give up running or triathlons. Six to eight months of recovery is NOTHING in the scheme of things. Perhaps I'll come back stronger. Perhaps I won't. I'm now finally willing to take that chance and risk.  Hell, I could be doing races by the Fall! I just know that the thought of running pain free again someday far outweighs the frustration of failed runs now. Plus, with every run, ride, and injection, I'm compromising the hip further. Best to get it scoped and repaired now to avoid possible arthritis and a full replacement later?  That's an easy decision. Of course, it's also not a guarantee. And I know that...which is why this decision has been a long grueling one.

For the time being, I'm going to run, and bike, and swim, and yogi as much as my little tush will allow. And I'm going to count down the days to my new beginning.

All I can say to the ladies in my age group is "Watch your backs!" This bitch is going bionic.

(unless I change my mind and completely wuss out on the whole thing!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Walk of Shame...

What started as an attempt to run 12 miles this morning ended just after four miles and a long and humiliating two mile walk home. What the hell?! I just completed a Half-Marathon last week and today my leg couldn't even sustain four miles without walking. As per usual, my leg went dead. caput. no lift. burning. pain. Oh I was shattered. I was depressed. Why does this keep happening to me? Why am I the one who is having trouble? There are people out there with form much worse than mine. There are people who shouldn't be running, but are. And yet, today, I was the one reduced to the walk of shame.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Austin and I spent a bunch of it feeling sorry for myself. Instead of focusing on my 5 strong bike rides this week, 3 solid swims and 6 intense bikram classes, I focused on my botched run. Thank goodness for 12 Noon bikram with Michelle and Audra, followed by an afternoon at Whole Foods and church with hubster to lift me from the funk. It was sunny and 78 degrees today. I rode my vespa. I had a fabulous weekend with friends, parties, and live music. Yet another perfect weekend in Austin, Texas. It could not have been better.  And yet, one thing could've made it just a smidge better.

It will get better.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This One's For the Girls!

It's amazing what a little wine can do!

Last November, I was home in Ohio and met up with some old high school girlfriends for drinks and dinner. In between talking about the same memories we rehash every time we get together (and still laugh like we've never heard them before), Emily, Lisa and Shannon committed to come to Austin in February to run the Austin Half-Marathon. Lisa would be here to cheer us on (and get the hell away from her kids!) and Emily and Shannon were going to run with me (and get the hell away from their kids!)  Truth be told, I didn't think it would actually happen. I mean, how many times do we say we're going to do something and then come up with every reason that it can't be done?! These girls didn't back down and for that I'm grateful! Plus, my cheeks still hurt from laughing.

We laughed, we ate too much, we drank too much, we slept too little, and we ran our little butts off! The four of us haven't spent more than two hours together in almost 20 years and we picked up exactly where we left off! I'm so glad I never threw away my high school yearbooks :-) In the three days they were here, we hit so many of the Austin hotspots--Mt. Bonnell, Alamo Drafthouse, Hula Hut, Oasis, Barton Springs, Hey Cupcake, and so much more! And, in between, we ran a little 13.1 race around the hills of Austin. Shawn was amazing (as usual) and had a rockin' Valentines Day dinner at Vespaio with four cougars!

All in all--it was a perfect weekend. While they were getting blasted with snow storms in Ohio, we were watching a sunset and drinking margaritas at the Oasis. Rough life, eh? Emily and Shannon rocked the Half-Marathon even though the hills were slightly daunting. It wasn't until Mile seven that Shannon told me the farthest she had ever run was FOUR miles!! What?!?!? This girl is insane, spontaneous and amazingly upbeat and positive.  She made it a point to not walk one step and guess what, she didn't. She ran the entire 13.1 miles. Shit--even I wanted to stop and walk some of the hills.

While we were at Hula Hut yesterday relishing our accomplishments (and more margaritas), Martina McBride's song "This One's For the Girls" came on. I can't think of a more appropriate way to end the weekend!

At the Start Line with Shannon and Emily. My balloon broke and drifted away at Mile 2!

Running on South 1st Street. Still laughing and smiling!

Loving the fact that I was running for pure JOY!!!

Last dash to the Finish Line!

We did it!! Shannon signed up for the Full when the Half sold out--but she did the 13.1!

Everything's Bigger in Texas!  Hook 'Em Horns, baby!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bikram is Bitchin'

I hate being left out. I hate feeling like I'm one step behind what everyone else is doing. In many ways, I'm like a little puppy who doesn't want to close his eyes for fear he might miss something. (In the puppy's case, it may be dinner or a much needed escort to a fire hydrant). In my case, I'm afraid of missing life, fun, excitement, challenges, and all of the joy it has to offer.

That's why when not one, not two, but three friends recommend I try Bikram yoga for my strength, flexibility and back/hip issues, how could I NOT try it? Apparently, they have the key to life's big secret and were willing to share it with me. I admit right away that I was petrified to attend my first class. It was most certainly a combination of apprehension about being in a 105 degree room for 90 minutes, intimidation that I was going to look ridiculous while everyone else looked perfect, and a phobia of injuring myself or even passing out in front of the entire class. Essentially, I was afraid of FAILING. Imagine that.

Fortunately, FEAR of FAILURE may stall me at first, but it has also become my fuel to succeed. Fear of failure drove me to move to Austin without knowing a soul, try stand up comedy, join a running group, finish my first marathon, try my first triathlon, get married, walk in my first yoga class, etc. and ultimately successfully complete all of the above.

Thanks to my friend Tracy, I didn't have to walk into my first Bikram class alone. I met her there and just seeing a familiar face made it that much easier to walk through the door. Let's face it. We chicks can't even pee by ourselves, let alone walk into a yoga studio where clothing is at a minimum and skinny toned bodies are at a maximum. I didn't know what to expect. I've been to my fair share of yoga classes so I automatically assumed that Enya would be playing over the speakers, the lights would be off, candles would be lit and I'd be seeing life through my mysterious third eye. WRONG.

Naturally, the first thing you notice when you walk in the studio is the heat and humidity (105 degrees to be exact). The next thing you notice is the smell of sweat/body odor from classes and yogis gone by. All of the lights are on, no music is playing and the instructor is just that--a teacher (or drill sergeant). They stand on the stage and talk the class through the 26 postures with their rehearsed script. Every class is the same. Every posture is the same. Even the script is virtually the same from instructor to instructor. I was a little shocked at my first class because the instructor sounded almost like an "auctioneer" instead of a hippy-trippy granola yoga instructor. It didn't take more than two minutes (with the initial breathing exercises) to realize that this class was going to be vastly different than anything I've ever experienced. It's definitely NOT your traditional flow yoga class.

All that being said, I LOVED IT and actually surprised myself with my ability to get through the class and some of the postures I didn't think were possible for me. Now, I have visions of looking like a Japanese Ham Sandwich since I'll never eat one. I'm envisioning being able to fully lock my knees someday and still reach my forehead to it.

After almost two weeks of a daily 90 minute practice (combined with a full swim, bike and run schedule), I'm already noticing a huge difference physically, mentally and emotionally. I'm already able to go deeper into some of the postures I could barely hold before. Just today, I was finally able to get my elbows all the way back for this crazy pose. The official name is "supta vajrasana." I prefer to call it the "How am I ever going to get up from this" pose.  I did it! (But I look nothing like that biatch below)

I also am almost able to wrap all my toes around my calf in Eagle Pose. And yes, I look as ridiculous as this chick below (but I have more belly goo).

They refer to Bikram yoga as an "open-eyed meditation" and I totally get it. The entire 90 minutes is one of focus, control and determination. While I may not be totally into it at the beginning, by the end, I am so relaxed and drenched with buckets of sweat that I just want to lay in the room all day--yes, the stinky, smelly room that feels and smells like Houston.  I'm sleeping better at night and my moods have been lifted because I'm focusing on something other than my stupid hip and back. Have I noticed an improvement in my injuries? Hard to say since I'm still riding a bunch, swimming, and running 1-2 times per week. There's still certainly some inflammation, but the stretching benefit is huge. My body just feels better and I know it's also helping my cardiovascular and skeletal systems, as much as my muscular system.

So, officially add Bikram junkie to my list of addictions these days.  I have friends who are doing the Bikram 60-Day challenge and have already lost a tremendous amount of body fat and gained lean muscle mass and flexibility. The results truly have spoken for themselves. I've gone 10 days in a row and totally hope it can be a part of my regular workout routine a least 4-5 times per week.  The only thing that stops me?  All of the freakin' laundry I have to do now!! No wonder why people wear as few clothes as possible!


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bikram created great yoga, but I don't think he gave enough thought to the overwhelming studio stench of rotten meat soaked in sweaty socks.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hey Good Lookin! Whatcha Got Cookin'?

Without a doubt, one of the biggest changes over the last decade in my life has been the change in my palette, taste buds, food choices and diet. I grew up in a household with five kids, so meals were about convenience and speed. Five kids were doing five different activities at all times, so we didn't pay much attention to having "well-balanced" meals. We ate well, by God--almost too well! Even in high school, I recall walking to McDonalds damn near every day after school and BEFORE field hockey practice. Ewww...No wonder it took me 15 minutes to run a mile around the track!  Taco Bell was a regular meal too because it was cheap, convenient and tasted good after a night of drinking too much :-)   Just the other day, Shawn asked me if I ever really thought about what I was eating back then, or if I ever made a connection between my weight and my diet since I'm so obsessed with it now.  It was an interesting question because I DID know that all the crap I was eating (hello fried chicken sandwiches at Burger King-with mayo) certainly was responsible. I was incredibly active as a kid, but didn't really give a shit about what I was putting in my mouth. My friend Kim and I worked in the "Snack Shack" at Swimland pool and in between selling Fun Dips and Frozen Reesee Cups, we were eating them.  Why? Because we were bored, it was there, they tasted yummy and all of my "skinny" friends were eating the same foods with no problems. I guess I thought I was "just built this way."

That being said, as a teenager I tried all of the usual diets that everyone was trying, but I never changed my style of eating. I would do the typical diet deprivations (hello Cabbage Soup Diet, Slim Fast, etc), but they would never last long. I knew I was overweight and it bothered me, but it never really inhibited me from doing anything--well, except for dating and wearing a swim suit in public!

Yes, it's pretty amazing to do marathons, triathlons, Ultra-Marathons, Ironmans, etc. But, completely changing the way I think and feel about food has probably been the most profound change, much to the chagrin of my Mom who has to buy "healthy" food when I go home.  I realized I officially turned into "that girl" when I left Bikram yoga class with my yoga mat, recyclable Whole Foods bag for my wet clothes, and headed home to make a green smoothie. Whhhhaaaatttt??  Who is this chick?!?!? Holy crap--it's me. I actually laughed out loud that I painted the Austin hippie granola picture without even trying. Doing my part to keep it weird, I suppose.

So yeah, I try to make a green smoothie at least 5 days a week. What the hell is a "green smoothie?"  A green smoothie consists of pretty much any green veggie you can come up with in the fridge. I like to mix it with some protein powder and fruit for sweetness and to give it more of a "smoothie" consistency.  The other day, I made a smoothie that consisted of spinach, cucumbers, celery, 1/2 grapefruit, pineapple chunks, apple and carrots...nothing like getting your daily allotment of fruits and veggies in one drink. And the best part? It's real food...not processed juices. not powdery, fake veggies. Just a blended mix of goodness. Now, I'll admit. It doesn't always look pretty, but neither does a ham and cheese omelet.  Just sayin'.

Not that I'm totally turning into Rachel Ray or anything (shoot me if I do), but I went a little hog wild at Costco last week and have turned into a cooking machine since I now have enough food to feed a small country. I've been experimenting with tons of different flavors, meals, etc.

Here's a little sample of the past week's menu:

1.) A batch of quinoa with kidney beans, tomatoes and green chiles--great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Served by itself, over a salad, over steamed spinach or kale, yummers. So much protein and fiber. Just ask hubster.

2.) Butternut squash enchiladas- steamed spinach and butternut squash and mashed them into tortillas along with Quorn fake meat crumbles, peppers and enchilada sauce. Added some spices and had a fiesta in my mouth!

3.) Simple whole wheat pasta noodles made into a lasagna/casserole. I throw in tofu, fake meat crumbles and tons of veggies including broccoli, spinach, corn, sweet potato wedges...bake like a lasagna and Vivo Italia!

4.) Last night I even whipped up a vegan meatloaf. Say what? What the hell is a vegan meatloaf? I didn't know either. In fact, I've never made a meatloaf in my life, but I followed the Engine 2 meatloaf recipe and also made it up as I went along. The loaf (ugly word) was a mixture of tofu, fake meat crumbles, dry oats and mixture of  Whole Foods nature burger. I also sauteed onions, garlic, carrots and celery and mixed that in as well. Threw in some spices to give it a kick and had a killer meatloaf last night served with a side salad and steamed butternut squash (with a sprinkle of cinammon and maple syrup)...and vino.

5.) Homemade hummus--I'm not so good at the consistency of this one, but I basically blend chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and some jalapenos to create hummus with a kick. For lunch, I made a hummus wrap, but instead of a tortilla, I wrapped it in a big collard green leaf.  It was hummus, cucumber, tomatoes and carrots. So freakin' good!!!

Needless to say, I've been eating lots of leftovers this week, but have been enjoying the variety immensely. I've been stealing recipes from books, websites, restaurants, etc. and try to recreate it. I know this is so 1968, but it makes me feel good when hubster walks in the door and says, "Damn it smells good in here."  I'm also grateful to be married to a man who will eat ANYTHING!!!  (Thank you Kay Barrett for that!)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Let the Week Begin!

I know it's a cold and dreary Monday morning in Austin (one of the few that we have), but I'm still feeling a bit euphoric from an amazing weekend! Of course, I just also made coffee and a "green" smoothie with spinach, celery, cucumber and pineapple, so some of my "buzz" may be related to that.

I had a great time at the T3 Happy Hour on Friday night! Everyone looks so happy, healthy and ready to take on 2010. It was a good reminder that, even though I can get down in the dumps sometimes, this is certainly a group of people I can count on to lift me out of the funk. With a debilitating injury, it's easy to want to hide your face and sulk in seclusion. These damn triathletes won't let it happen and I'm grateful for it! I always leave with a smile (and a little buzz--thanks for the vino Coach Logan!)

The Saturday team ride was moved to a trainer ride indoors, so I hopped on the Computrainer and rode the Oceanside 70.3 course at home with the help of a couple of magazines and podcasts to kill the time. As with most long rides, my focus was on cadence and a steady effort throughout. 3 hours and 21 minutes later, I was done! Very pleased overall because my hip joint didn't hurt (although my right food and sciatic did--note in the pain journal) Most importantly, I kept my heart rate on the lower end and I can't tell you how good it felt to cross that little 3D Finish Line feeling strong. Everyone (including the CT folks) say that riding the Computrainer is so much harder than the real thing. I can only hope this holds true on race day! I don't have huge time expectations for this race, but one of my goals for 2010 is to feel stronger and more confident on the bike (especially since my running has been limited). I think I'm getting there, at least on the indoor trainer. I won't really know until I'm riding outside on a regular basis again (hopefully this coming weekend!)

On Saturday afternoon, Shawn and I went on the Modern Homes Tour in Austin. Some cool houses were on display including the one that everyone wanted to see---the house on Mt. Bonnell Road with the lap pool on top overlooking Lake Austin.

Yes, it can be yours for a cool $3.5 Million!

Sunday was special for me because it marked my longest run in about 3 months! I met Elizabeth, Richard, Jim, Amanda, Gordon and Jess Sunday morning at 6:45am to run about 11 miles. I'm fully FULLY aware that the steroid injection into my hip helped alleviate some of the usual pain, but it was worth it to feel like myself again--even for just a few hours. I know the steroid injection isn't a cure. In fact, if northing else, it's an indication that, yes, there IS a problem in the hip joint that needs to be addressed. I just can't verbalize how liberating it felt to be able to tackle the Lady Bird Trail just like the "good old days." OK--it wasn't just like the good old days. It was about a minute per mile slower, but my 9:00min overall pace per mile felt very easy and relaxed--another confidence boost knowing that it's not all gone. 

Had breakfast on Sunday morning with Shawn and the Stanfords to plan our May Utah trip and then headed to a Sunday "Bunny Brunch" with several girlfriends. Yummy!! While my vegan meatballs raised a few eyebrows (Anna), they were well-received overall. Of course, there was also an enormous selection of quiche, salmon, spring rolls, salad, hummus, fruit and other wonderful dessert items!  Needless to say, I was in a food coma by 3pm, which was perfect because I needed a nap before meeting my friend Tracy for my first-ever Bikram Yoga class!

We all have irrational fears, and bikram yoga was one of mine. I can speak in public with ease, but the thought of bikram yoga had me in knots. I also knew that it was a fear I wanted to conquer. It had everything to do with feeling inadequate and being afraid of comparisons to those who are so much better--or flexible, or experienced, or whatever. I'm not a "real yogi" like those people who can bend themselves into pretzel-like contortions. I was also afraid of the actual room conditions. 90 minutes in 105 degree heat. I'd heard horror stories of people getting sick, passing out, etc and not being allowed to leave the room! Nothing induces panic like the thought of being suffocated!!! Well, I did meet my friend Tracy at Bikram yoga last night and...it was hard...it was intense...it was hot...but it was awesome!  While not the traditional yoga flow I'm accustomed to, this required a lot of mental relaxation to hold the poses and remain calm and relaxed in the conditions. No one judged me when I couldn't get all bendy like some people. The instructor (although he sounded like and auctioneer at times) was strict, but empathetic and constantly reminded people to just take a break if they needed to. Sometimes that's all you need to hear.  Fortunately, I had a great class. I was able to hit about 90% of the poses and never felt sick or light headed (common for beginners).  It was a great way to end the week and prepare for this next one.

So, as I sit here on a Monday morning contemplating my meetings, obligations and appointments for the week, I'm grateful that I just completed a spectacular weekend filled with a wonderful balance of friends, fitness, relaxation and food!