Friday, December 31, 2010

You say Goodbye (2010) and I say Hello (2011)

Aww, 2010 is quickly coming to a close. There were many times I thought 2010 pretty much sucked but as I'm reflecting on it now, it was pretty dang good. 2011 is shaping up to be AWESOME!

2010 started out with me running the Houston Half Marathon for the 3rd time. A stress fracture in late 2009 kept me away from running for several long weeks and so my hopes of a PR went out the window (btw, there will be no PR in 2011 either but that's another post). My brother Luke ran the half "with" me for the first time which was so cool. I love racing with a sibling. :)



My sweet little puppy Leia was my Valentine's Day gift from Keith. I was super stressed when I first got her but now that I've had 10 months with her, I can't imagine what I did before she showed up. I love my little puppy and think she could only be more perfect if she would quit crapping in my house.





In April I gave my first Oly a shot but that didn't end so well. The swim was cancelled due to weather so as far as I was concerned, it was no longer a triathlon. After having a decent bike ride, I collapsed on the run course due to poor (basically no) hydration on the bike. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. The lesson was learned and I've had no hydration issues since.


The big news of 2010 of course was signing up for Ironman Texas...everything after that is just a whirlwind! Below you'll find a sort of "Year in Pictures". Enjoy and GOODBYE 2010, HELLO 2011!

Me & Cristian on Easter

Heather's Wedding Day!

Putting out the doormat at my first home :)

Random pictures from Family Reunion, Halloween, HOG Rally, Clear Lake Sprint Tri and December!















Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Look Who's Gettin' Fancy Now

I mentioned a few weeks ago I was working on pulling together a montage of sorts (or do I just think I mentioned it). I've been scouring the internet high and low for music, pictures and other cool tools to help me in my 2nd most important quest of 2011....the quest to make a video or something documenting my journey to IMTX. This could be a full time job of it's own but I'm cool with that...it gives me something to do in all my spare time. Ha! Seriously though, this has become a fun project for me but has truly hindered what I had hoped to do this year and finish a scrapping booking project I sort of started for/with Keith. I will get to that too....I promise baby!

The music side of this is coming together nicely. There are a few songs I'm really liking but will keep those under wraps for now. Documenting the journey via pictures is going well enough. I've got tons of pictures from races and now want to start getting some training pictures. I'm sure my teammates are going to be uber excited when I start showing up with my camera and tripod on long runs/ride & lake swims. I decided I need a video element of all this too so I bought a Flip Video a few weeks ago and will add that to my arsenal of cool things to help me make this "Ode to Ironman" (yes, feel free to help me with a better name). The available memory on my trusty laptop is quickly disappearing and I find myself getting closer & closer to rationalizing forking out some dough for a Macbook. :) Now I truly digress.

I'm experimenting with the Flip Video now and so am using my blog as the testing ground. Here's a short video of my super cute nephew putting together a puzzle. He's pretty much a genius. :)



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A very good question....WHY?

I've been asked quite a few times since singing up for IMTX "why are you doing this" and always sort of giggle and then respond. I especially enjoy hearing from the folks who I SWORE to in the past I would NEVER EVER EVER sign up for something so stupid. Haha. Never say never.

I thought now would be a good time to share my WHY. I think if you know me well, it makes perfect sense. I love a challenge. I love new things. I love being outside. I love doing something that nobody thinks a human should do. And I really love doing something nobody thinks I can do. Don't get me wrong, nobody has told me flat out I can't do this but I've seen the look on their face and I know they have their doubts. That's ok, there are days I have my doubts too (thankfully not many of them). To me, there's nothing better than proving to myself that I'm a lot tougher than I give myself credit for.

It's been about 6 months since I signed up for IMTX and I have 5 months left to go. It's been a heck of a ride so far. I've had challenges balancing my work life with my workout life. For those of you reading this who work for or who have worked for EY, you understand. This is a demanding place to work which I actually like (Type A personality). In the past, I've never had a problem working ridiculous hours and actually wore it like a badge of honor....someone not in client serving works just as hard as our client serving folks! For the past year though, I've had things I want...I NEED to do. Half ass training may be ok for a sprint or even an Oly but definitely not for a 70.3 or a 140.6. I also don't like half assing anything so it was really tough for me earlier this year to feel like I was letting everyone down...my coach, my teammates, my coworkers. I've worked super hard this summer & fall to find some balance. It's not always easy but I'm doing it. And it's going to get even more difficult in the coming months but I'm up for the challenge!

Before joining Woodlands Fit in 2007, I never thought I would run 13.1 miles. Why would I want to anyway? Driving 13 miles can suck on a bad traffic day. I had a lot of personal things going on and was kind of in a downward spiral. When I started really focusing on running, I snapped out of it and was happy & excited to have something to look forward to. As I went through training, I signed up for races and could see improvement. I loved it. Not only did I enjoy the running but I was getting better. I'll never be supa-fast but that's ok! As the 2008 Houston Half approached, I had my doubts but I showed up and ran. I had no goals except to finish. I didn't know what to expect anyway! My training runs were always slow so I figured finishing in 2.5 hrs would be reasonable. When I finished the run and consulted my trusty Garmin, I saw I had finished in 2:10 and change. Even I knew this was good for a first effort. I did it. I ran the whole way save a few water stops at the end and I felt good.

It may seem I'm digressing a bit but trust me, I'm not. That one race helped me learn that you (me, you, anyone) can do whatever you set your mind to. You just have to want it bad enough. As I reflect on races since then, I can tell you the ones where I've had sub-par (IMO)performances are ones I didn't go into with the same excitement and "want" as I did my first half marathon.

Fast forward to WHY IMTX? Well, because I want to. I really, really, REALLY want to. Yes, I want to wake up bright and early on May 21, 2011 and put on my Team sTRIve swimsuit and hop in Lake Woodlands for 2.4 miles of fun with my teammates and a whole lot of people I don't know. I want to get out of the water (with a smile) and run through T1 and head for my bike and then go for a 112 mile ride on roads I will know like the back of my hand because I've trained on them. After spending most of my day on the bike, I want to get in & out of T2 as fast as I can and embark on the last 26.2 miles of my journey. And most of all, I want to cross the finish line with a huge smile because I just accomplished something I never imagined I would do or could do in a million years. I want to see my friends and family at the end and just celebrate what a huge accomplishment so many of us will achieve that day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about WHY I'm doing this.

So there you have it! For those of you who were curious, now you know why I'm doing something most think is just stupid. For those of you who weren't curious but made it through the end of this post, you're awesome for reading! :) I'm actually including a link to a YouTube video that just makes me cry every time I see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTPpXpoF54s

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's so magical about 22?

I wouldn't say 22 is my favorite number because I've always been more partial to 16. That being said, I have always liked the number 22. I mean hello....Will Clark was #22 back in the day and some of you should know I loved me some Will Clark circa 1989 (he looked best in Giants colors IMO). Anyway, 22 always seemed to have a way of popping up. My brother loves the #22. You can imagine our surprise when we found a baby picture of him wearing that number! Seriously? It was meant to be. There are a lot of other ties to 22, I just don't have time to get into them all. :)






On November 29th, I realized I was no longer on Cloud 9 from my 70.3 race. I woke up that morning and the feeling I had every other morning between November 8th & then was very different. I was happy, don't get me wrong. I just wasn't SILLY happy anymore. When I looked at the calendar, it dawned on me I was 22 days past my race. See?!?! This number keeps popping up in my life!!!

So now, it's time to get back to reality. I'm back into a regular, somewhat normal training schedule. I am about 23 weeks from IMTX which means I'm a mere 17ish weeks from my next 70.3 and only 7 week from the Houston Half Marathon. So much for off season huh?!? I did just find out my regular cheerleader for the Houston Half won't be there. Yep, Keith has to be out of town for work that weekend. Major, major bummer! He hasn't missed many races at all and so it will be very strange to not have him out there. It's not the end of the world...this is my 4th Houston Half. It'll just be lonely when I'm approaching mile 6 and he's not there, smoking while riding his bicycle! LOL.

I had my first group training ride in awhile this past weekend. It was a cold, cold morning but had a good ride. Not fast at all but it wasn't scheduled to be. While I know this HR training is going to pay huge dividends come May, it can be frustrating riding 14 mph so you can keep your HR at it's target. Coach promises I will see a difference and I trust her so stick with it I will!

I think I may have mentioned before I've started working on compiling pictures that I'll put together in a video montage type thing. I want to capture my journey to Ironman in pics and thought this would be a cool way to do it. I've spent free time searching for the perfect song/songs to use and am having a little trouble finding the perfect ones. Top picks right now are from Rascal Flatts, Garth Brooks, The Wall Flowers & Foo Fighters. Random, I know. Here's a fun game....can you guess which song by the artists above are the ones I'm thinking of using? I love games!

With that, I'm off but I'll be back soon!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

See, it's not ALWAYS about triathlon!

As the weekend drew to a close, I realized I hadn't blogged anything on Thanksgiving and had fully intended to do so as I know my audience has been patiently waiting to hear how my post 70.3 training has been going. Ok, maybe that's wishful thinking.

On November 20th, my sisters & I attended a baby shower for Heather (Chalfant) Buttenob, Keith's daughter. Heather & I have a lot in common: we both have 3 sisters, we are both the oldest, our youngest sister is 13yrs younger than us AND we share the same birthday. Weird!!! As those of you close to me might recall, she got married earlier this year and is already with child...and very excited I might add! She & her hubby Michael knew they wanted to start a family quickly and so they did! They've got so many exciting things on the horizon right now...still celebrating being newlyweds, a baby on the way, a new job for Michael AND as if that's not enough, a move to Chicago. All I can say is WOW!!! So much change in such a short time but how cool! The shower was a lot of fun & it was awesome that family & friends traveled from all around to celebrate Baby B. Above you'll see a great picture of Keith's four gorgeous girls: Emily, Heather, Caitlin & Hannah. Baby B is in there too if you look really close! So yes, I will be dating a grandpa very, very soon. Let's face it, she's prego now so he's already a grandpa! You know, I always knew this day would come, I just didn't think I'd still be in my 30's! Although some of my friends (Brandon Lamb) pointed out I'm basically a grandma, I've corrected him...I'm grandpa's girlfriend. Keith & I think the baby can call me Gigi (GG) for short...get it? Grandpa's Girlfriend. We'll see what Heather thinks. :)

So I mentioned my three sisters got to go to the shower too. It makes me SO happy that our (mine & Keith's) two families get to hang out on occasion. Everyone SEEMS to get along. :) After the shower, they stayed in The Woodlands a bit and hung out at Keith's as he was babysitting my nephew, Cristian. My nephew LOVES Keith...probably because they wrestle, play with trucks and act goofy. Either way, the weekend was great and a perfect way to prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday ahead.

I'll skip all the stuff about work & my workouts and just get to the good stuff. I haven't entertained at my new home since I bought it and so volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. I love to cook and love to entertain and LOVE Thanksgiving so this was the perfect time. My house isn't looking exactly how I want it to yet but I wasn't going to let that keep me from hosting everyone! I was lucky enough to cook for 12 folks this year and had a great time. Everything came out great if I do say so myself and the added bonus was nobody got sick after (like they did a few years ago when we all gathered at Keith's). To this day, my brother Kevin insists it was food poisoning but I don't think it was. Not everyone got sick and those who did didn't eat something in common that nobody else ate. Thanksgiving 2008 will go down as one of the great unsolved mysteries of all time. If I'm talking about Thanksgiving and what I'm thankful for, it's only fitting to include a picture of my mom as I wouldn't be here today if she didn't pop me out all those years ago. I wouldn't be who I am today without my mom and I certainly wouldn't be doing all the cool things I get to do if it wasn't for her. Thanks Mom!!!!
I did skip the Thanksgiving Day run/race & opted to run on my own. Honestly, I had way too much to do in the kitchen and since I knew I wasn't racing or going for a PR, I felt it was best to not rush around and just relax and run from home. So glad I did too b/c after I showered, I was in the kitchen the rest of the day! Whew.
This Saturday will mark 24 weeks until IMTX (ok, now we turn to triathlon talk but that IS what this blog is about). The time is going to fly by and I'm excited about that. There are so many amazing things that are going to happen before then. 2011 is shaping up to be an incredibly busy and eventful year! I've got something really special happening in February that I can't talk about here but again, those closest to me know what I'm talking about. ;) Baby B will be arriving in March so Keith & I will be spending some time in either Arizona or Chicago! April brings my 2nd 70.3 race and first OFFICIAL mDot race! April is also the month my man celebrates his bday AND when we celebrate our anniversary...just don't ask which day b/c neither of us know. Keith's second oldest, Caitlin, graduates from Texas State 1 week before IMTX and I'm so excited for her. This girl is crazy smart and finds herself on the Dean's list EVERY semester. She'll be going to grad school after that so you can imagine how proud her dad is. And then of course May 21st will bring IMTX, the day I've been thinking about nearly non-stop since June when I lost my mind and signed up. :)
So there you go, my post Gobble Gobble thoughts. The rest of the year is going to fly by so enjoy every day as much as you can! I know I'm going to try my very best to do that!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Course Maps!!!

Before I explode from the excitement of seeing the other course maps, I just wanted to let everyone know I'm STILL on cloud 9 post 70.3. Ok, now that we've taken care of that important item, on to what's REALLY got me excited!

I've been checking the IMTX website religiously and earlier this week my relentless nature paid off as all course maps are now posted. Hell to the yes! I shared the bike map a few weeks back and now I'd like to share the swim & run maps. Seeing the course maps makes the course more real. I can't explain but I'm sure many of you out there get what I'm saying. Sure, I had a good visual in my head of what the course would look like but until it's on the internet, it's not legit!

IMO, the swim course is kind of funky but you can decide for yourself. I'm having a hard time wrapping my arms around how 2,500 people are going to enter the water at roughly the same time. The entry point isn't super wide. Maybe we'll tread water before the gun goes off? Maybe we'll all run in from the parking lot. Who knows? I'm excited to find out though! For those of you familiar with The Woodlands, we'll be starting at Northshore Park towards Southshore Park (so from Lake Woodlands towards Woodlands Pkwy), turn around and then before getting back to Northshore Park, hang a right through the canal system and then out at Town Green Park. The canal gets pretty narrow but by the time we get there, I think the thought is we'll have spread out enough that it won't be an issue. Here's hoping! I don't love the swim course but it could be worse. One thing I can tell you for certain, I hope they clean up Lake Woodlands so I don't have to worry about entering the water with any open wounds. Seriously, it's straight nasty. I don't know if chlorine tablets work in a lake but I think they should give it a go. Shock the hell out of it. I don't care if my skin burns a little as long as I don't catch anything nasty. I'm thinking about putting a can of Lysol in my T1 bag so I can disinfect myself after getting out. I'm not sure what impact Lysol will have on sunscreen so I need to research that first. :)
The uncertainty I have for the swim course is completely overshadowed by how much I LOVE the run course. From the beginning, I knew I didn't want a giant loop, an out & back or a 2 loop course. Some people get bored with loops but after Iron Star, I found I really enjoyed it in a race day setting. For me, I think I'm going to have an easier time breaking up the run into manageable pieces. Each loop will be over 8.5 miles (I think) and the route is one I really, really enjoy. 8.5 miles is one big loop but that's ok. We should have great spectator support and will be able to see family & loved ones multiple times if they can stake out a good spot to cheer. I plan on running this route a lot over the next few months. I want to know every line in the sidewalk along those 8+ miles...mainly so I know if I'm in danger of tripping and falling! LOL. All joking aside, I'm really excited to get out on that course and start visualizing my big day!

So that's pretty much all I've got today. I'm back to working out & feeling really good. Training has been a little lonely but I'm enjoying it all the same.

I'll be back soon with another update!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Race Day is better than Christmas Morning and other post-race thoughts

Remember when you were a kid how excited you were for Christmas morning? More packages than you probably ever needed sat beautifully wrapped beneath the Christmas tree just waiting to be opened. The excitement just couldn't be contained which is why most of us probably woke up 5 times in the middle of the night wondering if it was too early to wake our parents up. When it was time to open the presents, the beautiful packaging was ripped away and exposed the gift. I was always very sad when the last present was unwrapped not because I wanted more gifts, more because I wanted that excitement to last longer. That's kind of how I feel about race days.




You prepare months for a big race and while the excitement might be more of a mix of joy & nervousness, it's excitement all the same. For me though, the excitement I had the week before Iron Star is still with me. Since the race, the last thing I think about at night is my race and the first thing I think about in the morning is the fact that I did it!!! I'm just plain happy and not just for me, for each of my teammates (especially the other first timers). It really was special to be able to share that with my training partners.




Being a few days removed from the race, my excitement is still here but I'm also starting to shift focus for what's next on the horizon. My next 70.3 race is a mere 21 weeks away with IMTX 6 weeks after that. Wow. That's closer than I realized! I'm so looking forward to going to Galveston for IMTX 70.3, formerly known as Lonestar 70.3. While I will be able to set some time goals for myself, the real purpose of the race is to serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts for IMTX in May. Hydration, nutrition & pacing will all be top priorities for me. A 70.3 PR would just be gravy.




Like every race, I've come away with a recharged battery and a renewed focus on training. I have in my mind some specific things I want to focus on over the coming months. (1) I want to focus on the bike as there is a lot of room for improvement there. I don't feel I've been particularly consistent and know I can be much more powerful than I have shown in recent races. (2) It's time to really race in the pool. The lack of confidence I carried for so long is holding me back a bit. It's time to make myself uncomfortable in the water and really push the pace because I know I can do it. (3) I'm never going to be an 8min/mile runner in a big race but I can't let that keep me from pushing a little more. My run has suffered a bit this year and it's time to figure out why and fix it. This isn't meant to be negative at all...just focused.




I really loved racing 70.3 and I suspect this might be my new favorite distance. Who would've ever thought that?!? I can't wait to see my teammates tomorrow night so we can celebrate in our accomplishments and talk about what's coming up next. 2010 is really turning out to be a great year and I can't wait to see what 2011 has in store for me.




See, racing really is better than Christmas morning!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Iron Star 70.3 is in the books!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting to hear, I completed my first half ironman yesterday! 70.3 miles of racing is done & done and I really couldn't be happier. This blog post will also serve as my race report so enjoy!

Short version: I raced, I finished.

The morning started off interestingly enough. You would think having gained an hour of sleep there would be no way anyone would be late. You guessed wrong! I'm not going to even try to explain what happened. I made it to transition with 10 minutes to spare...piece of cake. Thanks to my anal retentive tendencies, I had packed my bag in the order I would need items so setting up transition took no time at all. Yes!

Swim - I had gone back & forth with my plan for the swim. Part of me wanted to go balls to the wall since I have never done that in a race. Part of me wanted to just take it easy and conserve energy for the bike. This was my first 70.3 after all. I compromised with myself and took it easy at the start and then when I got towards the end, pushed myself. I finished the 1.2 mile swim in over 44 minutes which is basically the same time it took me to swim .9 miles at the Houston Oly in September. Thank you! I was very pleased with my swim. Despite the fog and the fact we couldn't see most buoys until we were on them, I sighted very well and swam in a pretty straight line. I took in a little water at the beginning but didn't let that upset my rhythm. I stayed calm. I have to say it was so awesome sharing some laughs with Amy Gage & Michelle Comrie before our wave, the final wave started. Amy is a strong swimmer and put herself to the front while Michelle & I placed ourselves in the middle of the pack. We got to start our first 70.3 together and it was really fun!!

Bike - After doing my race prep on Saturday, I knew I would be cold on the bike. I decided to pack the make shift arm warmers made of tube socks and a zip up jacket. I figured I would make a game time decision. When I got to T1, I decided arm warmers would be the way to go and I'm glad I made that decision b/c I was PERFECT temperature wise on the bike. Speed wise, not so perfect. My bike time was 3:54 which is far longer than I expected to take (I was thinking 3:40 range). I can't really say what happened. I felt strong and thought I was riding solid. I know I slowed down the 2nd half of the ride b/c my HR was getting a little high but I didn't think I slowed down that much. At the end of the day, the time isn't an issue. I was to have no time goal for this race so as long as I made bike cutoff, my time didn't matter. What I was really thrilled with is nailing my nutrition & hydration on the bike. Very, very proud of that as that was my downfall in Galveston in April. An added bonus for me on the bike was Keith, Stef & Hannah drove to the turnoff point at 1486 & 2819 and cheered for me. I can't tell you how great it was to see them out on the course!! To top it off, they had signs for me AND Team sTRIve! How awesome are they?


RUN - As I was coming to the end of my bike, I was really curious to know if the leg cramping would return. This would be the true test of my hydration on the bike. I passed! I had NO leg cramps. Zero. I was thrilled. I had a mishap early in the run as I tripped on a metal thingy going through a gate. I hit the ground and know I started to cry mainly out of complete frustration. As many f you recall, I collapsed on the run course in Galveston when I tried my first Oly. A volunteer came up immediately and yelled for a medic. I yelled no to her and a few other expletives. She let me know my leg & arm were both bleeding and a medic needed to look at it. I was in pain, I knew I was bleeding and I didn't care. I was getting up to finish hell or high water. Michelle was right behind me and was sweet to stop & check on me before continuing her run. I got up and immediately tried to run and couldn't. For a split second, I was really afraid I had done something to my knee & that I wouldn't be able to finish. I quickly put that thought behind me and made myself fun. I was fighting tears for a good 1/4 mile. There was no way I wasn't finishing this race. After a few minutes, I forgot about the pain (mainly b/c I realized my left hand was swollen and hurt way more than my knee). I went back to my run/walk combo and focused on the task at hand, complete 3 loops. When I got back around the transition area, I was thrilled to see my support crew had grown! My mom, brother Kevin and sisters Annie & Kiri showed up along with my nephew. On top of that, Val's hubby Spencer made his way to my family area. On my first loop of the run course I got to see many of my teammates who were at different points of their race. I was so excited to see everyone! As I started my final loop, I knew I was almost done and one step closer to my big race in May. No time to think about Ironman now though, let's get through the half. I was so happy towards the end. I made my final turn on to La Torretta Blvd and saw Micah who had volunteered for the race and was cheering us on. Being in the last wave, many people were leaving when I was still running. Every person who passed me as I headed to the finish cheered me on and wished me well. The spectator support was awesome. I saw Scott & Tarrah Mayer one more time. My family was no longer where they had been waiting as they moved closer to the finish. I hit the 13 miles sign and had .1 left to go. Oh my gosh! Kathleen Woodhead was still there even though she finished long before and was cheering me in. Stew & Michelle were right along the finish chute. My family was cheering like crazy and then I crossed the finish! Misty was right there too and I got to give her a hug as I collected my finishers medal and water. I did it!!! The run took me 2:45 and I was FINE with that. Per coach's orders, I finished with one big smile! Total race time...7:31! The way I look at it, I'm setting myself up for a great PR in Galveston this coming April!
As I sit here today typing this, I'm just still so proud of this accomplishment. If you had told me 5 yrs ago I would attempt and complete a 70.3 race, I would've laughed at you and said you were crazy. Here I am though!
I know this is going to sound like an Oscar speech but I need to thank so many people. Obviously, my family, Keith & Hannah were so awesome yesterday. To spend their entire day cheering me & my teammates on was so appreciated it. My teammates are the best and with yesterday being a key race for so many of us, we were given a neat opportunity to bond with each other. Hugs were a plenty at the start and end of the race. I think Michelle & I must've hugged 10 times at swim start! Kathleen, Scott, Tarrah, Micah, Spencer, Logan and everyone else who cheered for me...THANK YOU a million times over! My coach, Gena needs to be thanked as she has always provided me good advice and encouragement when it's most been needed. I have to of course thank the person who started all this....Jill Gellatly. If it wasn't for her, I would never have given tri's a try!

I'm over the moon today and enjoying my day off. I will be back at training tomorrow...I've got big races on the horizon. While I have a few small races coming up, I plan on focusing on training.

Thanks again to everyone near & far who sent me well wishes last week & yesterday. I really appreciate the support. Don't worry, I'll be blogging soon even though I don't have a big race for awhile. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Special Introduction to Triathlon - 11/7/10

I attended a seminar a few weeks ago where Coach K (Kim Hager) talked about mental preparation for IM races. She shared with the group a few things she does and one of them really stuck out to me...she has pictures of her kiddos on her water bottles. Well, being that I'm childless and I didn't want to get made fun of for having pictures of my super cute puppy with me, I was determined to figure something else out. An idea popped in my head but really stuck earlier this week when my Grandma Seliger passed away.

Three very special ladies will be accompanying me on my first 70.3 race this weekend and I want to introduce you to them. There are many, many other very special people in my life and luckily, I have many more races in the near future that I will share with them. But for my first 70.3, Bonnie, Hazel & Ang will be with me.
Bonnie Seliger (left) & Ang Cerami (right)

Hazel Chalfant
Bonnie Mae Brian Seliger (March 4, 1927 - November 2, 2010) - Grandma Seliger was my step-dad's mom but thought of us as her grandkids just the same. Grandma Seliger was a very neat lady and we were lucky enough to spend special time with them growing up. On Sunday, Grandma Seliger will accompany me on the 1.2 mile swim as she is the lady who taught me how to swim many, many years ago. Her tactics may have been unconventional but a whole generation of Seliger's learned how to swim because of her. "Camp Grandma" is where I was introduced to cicada's, the art of microwaving Jell-O pops, making homemade stationary, The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band, Dr. Pepper, swimming and many more things. I will always cherish the time I spent in Lubbock, Texas.

Hazel Watkins Chalfant (May 1, 1944 - October 5, 2007) - The lady who once encouraged me to "kick up some Texas dirt" was so, so special to me. Hazel is Keith's mom and I got to know her shortly after he & I started dating. At that time, she lived in Rolla, Missouri and we talked on the phone every week. Keith still jokes his mom liked me more than him (who could blame her). After moving to Texas in early 2007, Hazel became very ill and spent months in the hospital. When she was moved from the hospital to the rehab center, I visited her every day after work and took her whatever it wass she was craving that day. I will never forget the day she had me go to McDonald's for a fish sandwich, Wendy's for fries and Sonic for a sundae. Hazel passed away while I was training for my first half marathon and was probably my biggest cheerleader. On January 13, 2008 I ran the Houston Half Marathon and could smell Hazel's signature scent from mile 9 on. I ran the half in 2:10, still my PR. Hazel never got to see one of my triathlons but always wanted to. On Sunday, Hazel will have a front row seat to my 56 mile ride and I can't wait!


Angela Loffredo Cerami (March 23, 1919 - February 1, 1995) - Her whole life, Grandma Cerami insisted she was "Angeline" but when my mom found her birth certificate (or some other important document), it showed "Angela". Grandma Cerami was something else. As a little girl, I remember visiting her after having already eaten only to find that she had prepared enough spaghetti to feed a village...and not a small village. Telling her we weren't hungry meant nothing as she expected us to eat. There were many years I didn't get to see my grandparents but I wrote to them often and called when we could. After many years of being away from Buffalo, I got to go back to visit my family and see my Grandma. She was sick with breast cancer and we knew she probably didn't have long to live. As long as it had been since I had seen her in person, she was just how I remembered. I am so glad I was able to go back and spend time with her as an adult. A few months after my 20th birthday, Grandma Cerami passed away. I was given a rosary that belonged to her and I will have that with me as I run (jog) 13.1 miles. I figure the rosary is easier to carry than one of her cookbooks!!


Some of you reading this may think this is cheesy or even odd and that's ok. For me, it's a way to remember three people who had a huge impact on who I am today. Without them, or anyone in my life, I wouldn't be where I am and I wouldn't be attempting to do what I'm going to do on Sunday.


Rest in peace Bonnie, Hazel & Ang!! I love you all and I hope we have a lot of fun come Sunday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No pictures, just thoughts....

4 days to race day! That's F-O-U-R. The excitement is sticking & hasn't turned back to anxiety or fear yet. This is good. Very good.

Monday swim went extremely well. We swam a broken 1,500 and I had my best time to date. The pace I kept is one I really feel I could maintain although never have in a big race. We'll see if Sunday is the day. I've got coached swim tonight too and it will be an "easy" workout. I'm looking forward to getting in the water and doing some visualizing for Sunday. Yee haw!!

Last night was an easy track workout consisting of a 1 mile warmup, main set of 6x400 and a 1 mile cool down. I love 400's! Misty & I headed to the track and did a pretty good job pacing. We tended to start out too fast and would take turns lecturing each other on slowing down. Well, maybe not lecture but there was a lot of, "we started too fast again" or "stop chasing the other runners". We were at the same track OutRival works out at so it was nice to see some familiar faces and not feel totally alone out there. We missed our teammates though. I rarely get to do track workouts with the group anymore b/c I just can't get there from work. The past month or so those training for IMFL haven't even had track workouts b/c "Ironman races aren't about speed" as coach said. Boy was I glad to hear that b/c my IMTX probably won't be described as speedy. :)

Packet pickup starts today but I'm waiting until Saturday to get mine. No word yet as to what's going on with the swim course. Val is getting her packet tonight and she's promised to give me the scoop (if there is any). I am definitely to the point where I don't care what they do about the swim so long as they don't cancel it. If we have to walk part of it, so be it. We'll all be faced with the same challenges. I just want my first 70.3 to be a true 70.3, not a 69.1. That doesn't even round to 70!

I've been thinking so much about this race. This is the strangest pre-race feeling I've ever had. I feel strangely calm about it. Maybe part of it is b/c I know what's done is done and nothing that happens this week will change anything. Maybe it's b/c I know this isn't about how fast I finish but about finishing. Period. Maybe for once, I really believe in myself. I'm not saying I never believe in myself but if you've raced, you know what I mean. It's easy to doubt if you'll be at your best on any given Sunday (or race day).

My biggest focus the rest of the week is nutrition. I'm trying to be mindful of the carbs, proteins & fats I'm putting in my body, always asking myself if this is the best fuel I can find. I'm hydrating like it's going out of style. Sports drink is accompanying me everywhere. I feel good.

Well, those are my hump day thoughts. I'm curious to see what tomorrow brings and if everything I'm feeling now will continue or if the nerves will start to creep in.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I've walked a run course but walk the SWIM course?

I want to start this off by thanking OutRival Racing for getting pics from our swim clinic this weekend because without them, my blog would've felt naked today!!!! THANK YOU!!!

As you all know, Ironstar Half Ironman is coming up and this is my first race at this distance (70.3). While I'm very comfortable with swimming the 1.2 miles required, a swim clinic was being held on Saturday and we would have the opportunity to get out on the actual course. I couldn't have been more excited to get up at 6am and get on the road by 7am to be there with plenty of time to spare. A good crowd showed up and all seemed as eager! Before I go further, let me just say that I really do look like a whale in my wetsuit. I was caught in a couple pictures and it took all I had not to cry. That's a problem for another day though. Back to the story at hand.

We heard some helpful tips from Sandra Sutherland about open water swimming but I was anxious to swim the course. We learned that we wouldn't be swimming the entire course though. While we would get the distance, we would be swimming from swim exit vs swim start. This was a major bummer for yours truly. I attended Ironstar last year to cheer on friends who were racing as a relay team (Go Jill Gellatly & Jeff Gardner and...I can't remember the other guys name). Anyway, having attended, I knew the beginning of the swim was a little funky as you started on the beach and had to navigate out of a somewhat narrow cove into the lake. This was something I wanted to practice but nope! No biggie I guess.

We got our wetsuits on and headed towards swim exit to enter. Make sense? Lots of sTRIvers were in attendance and we all got in around the same time. As we get in, I glance up and notice there are a lot of people far out standing up. Hmm, did all the swim challenged show up today. I don't think so. I got in & swam a bit and then something strange happened, my fingertips got stuck in the mud. Huh? What is going on? I stood up and much to my surprise, I found myself in not even knee deep water. I thought maybe the margarita from the night before was playing tricks on me...not so much. I looked up and there was Misty, standing up. Michelle, Stewart, Val, everyone...standing up. As we looked ahead, a sea of zombie like creatures waded through the water. We walked a bit and moved to "deeper" water as Michelle LeBlanc of OutRival directed us from shore. That helped but only for a bit. We soon found ourselves touching the muddy bottom again. This cycle repeated the entire swim course. I may have gotten in 100-200yds of uninterrupted swimming but definitely not more. I'm not going to lie, I was very frustrated at first...everyone was. After a few minutes though, I just had to laugh. This truly was a comical experience and I was getting to experience it with my friends & teammates. We were all in the same boat. "Worry about what you can control" went through my head a few times. While I was disappointed I missed the chance of having a solid swim for this clinic, I had a really fun time bonding with those around me. A fair trade-off I would say.

Misty, Lynn & I headed out for a run after the aqua jog (along w/ countless others). The morning was absolutely beautiful...perfect running weather. Lynn is preparing for IMFL (Ironman Florida to the uneducated) and was running strong. Misty & I welcomed the opportunity to check out a portion of the run course and experimented with what we plan to do race day. A successful run following a not so successful swim = a good day.

Yesterday was our last long ride prior to the race. 40ish miles with some race day pick ups. After my cluster of a ride last weekend, I really REALLY wanted to have a decent ride. Hell, half way decent. Either way, I knew I had to get on the bike with a good attitude if there was any chance of me being happy with this ride. Well, the good attitude worked b/c I really felt like I rode well. Lynn, Misty & I stayed together and I think we all enjoyed the "easy" ride. Most people laugh when I say 40 miles are easy but you triathletes know what it's like! Following a great ride, Starbucks with teammates was in order. It was so good to see some of the folks who would be traveling to IMFL later this week. Everyone had that pre-race excitement!

I anticipate I'll be blogging a lot this week as my emotions run from one extreme to the other. Today I am just plain excited. I trust my coach, my training, my teammates and ME. I know I can conquer this distance. I know it's not going to be easy but I know I will finish. Now that I've been on all 3 event courses, my visualization exercises will really be helpful. I am so ready to get out there!! I can't wait to cross the finish and hug whoever I can find. I don't have to know them either.

Happy Monday! I'm sure you'll be hearing more very soon! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

DREAM...the impossible dream (and course maps too)!

I can hardly contain my excitement....course maps for IMTX are slowly but surely posting to the website. I will have to resist the urge to go bike 112 miles tomorrow on the course!!!!

While a picture of the swim course hasn't been posted, we know it will be a point to point swim starting at North Shore Park, heading to South Shore Park where we turn around and then head through the Waterway system to transition. I have to admit, I'm not sure how me and 2,499 of my closest friends are going to squeeze in there but that's ok! Time to practice full contact swimming. I'm thinking of inviting about 50 people to Keith's house and have us all jump in at the same time...that should do the trick.

The bike course looks awesome! I honestly can't wait to get out there and ride the portions I haven't already been on. The best part of the bike course (other than the finish) is that it goes right by Keith's neighborhood on the way back to transition!!! My estimate is this is around mile 100 and I honestly can't think of a better way to end my bike than with seeing my friends & family SO close to the end of a very long & probably lonely 112 mile journey! I know the picture I'm including is small so if you want to see it a little better, go to http://www.ironmantexas.com/ and check it out for yourself.


I read the directions for the run course and as expected, it will be a 3 loop course at the front of The Woodlands staying in the area of the mall, Waterway, Market Street, etc. This makes perfect sense and I think it will translate to lots of spectator support. The fact that it's a 3 loop course is appealing to me because I know everyone I will want to see will set up chairs at one spot and I'll get to see them THREE WHOLE TIMES before finishing. If this isn't motivation, I don't know what is. I've decided I will start incorporating the IMTX run course in my weekly runs. Some may say that will get boring but I don't care! The more I'm on that course, the more I can visualize how I'll handle different situations. Visualizing race day will become second nature! Can you feel the excitement through the words I'm typing?!?!


I've got a couple of big races to get through first. Ironstar is next week (I think I may have mentioned that lol). IMTX 70.3 is in April, just 6 weeks before the big day. Wow! It's going to be here before I know it. With every day that passes, I'm one day closer to my first half Ironman and I'm so excited.


I know it's early but you know me...I plan. That's just what I do. Anyway, Keith & I will be coming up with a plan for friends & family to have somewhere to hang out while I'm on the IMTX course. Between my house (also close to the bike route) and his, we'll have plenty of comfy space for everyone to eat, relax, hang out & have fun while I'm working towards a goal I never thought I would achieve. As cheesy as this sounds, it's bringing a tear to my eye as I think about it! I've already visualized the finish a million times and every time I do, it involves LOTS of tears, LOTS of smiles, LOTS of family and me doing the centipede across the finish line.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A bad training day is still better than a good day at the office!

A half ironman isn't easy, why would training for one be?

I had high hopes for my long ride this weekend....50 miles on the Ironstar bike course. This would be my chance to scope out the course and see how I might handle it. I had been looking forward to this ride all week. I WANTED to ride this course.

The morning started off well enough. We had a huge group heading out which was a lot of fun to see. After a short warm up, the super fast group took off. We started at 105 & Walden Rd. and pretty much stayed together to Richards. I did my best to stay with the pack but was having a lot of trouble pain wise due to the bruised crotch I was still sporting from last weekend. I wasn't too far back so wasn't really worried about it at this point.

Heading back out on the road, I drifted back a little further. I was frustrated with myself for not staying closer to the pack so I was probably letting in some negative talk but still didn't think it was too bad. As I approached the turn around point, I saw the pack and my coach let me know I didn't have far to go. I made the turnaround and got down about a mile or so when I decided I wanted some Gu chomps. I opened my aero bag and was pulling out some chomps when my truck key flew out of the bag. One bounce on the road, second bounce in the grass. I turned around as quick as I could do so safely & easily and started looking for my key. 10 minutes later, key was in hand but teammates were long out of site. Damn. I got back to 1486 and it was time to decide: left or right. I went right and went & went & went & went & went. No site of teammates, nothing. I second guessed myself and decided to start calling someone near a computer to pull up a map. Long, long story short, I turned back and went the other way on 1486 assuming I had gone the wrong direction. Little did I know but had I gone a few more miles, I probably would've run into my teammates who were waiting for me. At this point, I was just getting angry & frustrated. Angry at myself for not remembering my map. Frustrated that this ride was quickly going down the crapper. I tried to just take it easy & not stress out b/c at this point, there was nothing I could do but figure it out.

I made it back to Richards where I stopped to refill my fluid and check in with my mom. I had decided at this point to just get back on 149 and head to 105 where I would then be 2-3 miles from my truck. Easy enough. I get back on the bike and the negative talk starts again. Why are you here? What makes you think you can actually finish a 70.3 race? You do realize as bad as this is, you'll be on the bike WAY longer during Ironman. I finally said, "SHUT UP" out loud. I was tired of the self-doubt and knew I had at least 20 miles back to my truck. 20 miles of wind & hills. Now was not the time to doubt myself. YOU CAN DO THIS! After that, it was like a switch had flipped and I knew it was going to be fine. I had told my mom I would check in with her periodically just so somebody knew where I was. I had been on the road since 8am and it was not approaching 12:30pm. A 50 mile ride had long exceeded 50!

As I made my 2nd venture of the day through the Sam Houston National Forest, I decided to just take it all in and enjoy the fact that I was healthy enough to bike for 4+ hours in a day! Sure, I ran out of fluids but I was prepared and bought more. It could be WAY worse. 12 miles to Montgomery, 19 miles to Huntsville. Yes! Almost there. I pull in to Montgomery and by this time, traffic has really picked up and it's time to cross a pretty big highway by myself. Yuck! The good news is I did it and did it safely so GO ME. My car was about 2 miles away at this point. I pedaled my little heart away paying no attention to the remaining hills. Wal-Mart was in site and so was my truck!

I got back to my truck, the only Team sTRIve person still out on the road long after an 8am start! While I had done a good job cheering myself up on the ride, I was done. It was time to go home and shower and relax. I had biked approximately 70 miles....my longest distance to date! So what if it was unintentional? :) A little while after being on the road, a teammate (and friend) called to check in on me. Lynn's really helped me out by helping me understand this stuff happens and it's ok. We had a good laugh about my adventure.

After being home a few hours, the negative talk creeped back in & I really started doubting whether or not I should be signed up for these long races. I broke down in tears. After about 30 minutes of self-pity, I knew I needed to put on my big girl panties and chill out. All workouts aren't going to be good. All races aren't going to be good. That's life. What's important to remember is that I've done the training. I'm healthy, I'm ready and I'm determined. If you ask me, those are 3 things that are really going to help get me though Ironstar Half Ironman in less than 2 weeks. The key is to come away from a "bad" workout with lessons learned & a good attitude.

For me, the lessons are easy. (1) Don't forget your map! (2) Review your course several times before heading out. (3) A bad training session is one you never attempt, not one that you finish!

Today is a much better day and I'm starting to feel back to normal. My body is tired and so is my brain from having over analyzed everything yesterday. I'm back at it tonight with a swim workout (that will have to be easy) and then mile repeats at the track tomorrow. I've got less than 2 weeks to race day and I am READY!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Just Say No" to goals!!!! Huh????

I can feel the excitement slowly but surely morphing to anxiety. Not the bad anxiety that makes you want to throw up (not yet at least). It's a good anxiety. Not as good as Christmas morning when you were a kid...somewhere in the middle.

The week started off with a great clinic put on by Lonestar Multisport. Kim Hager (Coach K) was the speaker and was covering race day mental preparedness. I wasn't about to miss this topic because I know this is my demon. I thought maybe the tides were changing since I had such a positive mental race at the Houston Oly but after a very tough workout this weekend, the stupid voices in my head started in again. After nearly 65 miles on the bike, I started a very slow 30 minute run. I tried so hard to focus on the positive....no calf cramping! Had I been strong and just basked in that glory, I think it would've been good. But no, I had to start paying to attention to the fact that my body felt like a sack of bricks...probably why it's called a brick workout. I tried my best to make my legs move faster and they just wouldn't. Every muscle that could be sore was sore. Only 10 minutes into the run I found myself wondering if I had what it took to finish a half ironman. Ahh, crap. I'm so glad our thoughts aren't broadcast for all to hear because I would've been getting some strange looks from folks wondering why I was yelling at myself. I tried to tell myself I had what it took to finish but then my back would chime in as if to say, "speak for yourself". ENOUGH! I finally told myself to shut it and finish this run. I digress but this was important to mention as it totally supports my desire to attend this session! So many things had an impact on me. I've come away with some great ideas to help me get through this race. I'm going to tape some encouraging words to my bike frame...maybe I'll even Sharpie them on my forearm. We'll have to see how crazy I feel that morning! I'm going to visualize the last 25% of the race every night before I go to bed. I'm going to finish this race.


I emailed Coach G to verify I wouldn't be setting any time goals for this race and sure enough, I won't be. My mission is to race & embrace this distance. Finish with a smile. I'm confident there will be tears too. I'm hoping for 90% tears of joy and 10% tears of relief. Ok, maybe 80/20. :) Either way, there should be no pressure for this race. I'm not sure if Coach G reads my blog so I'll let you in on a little secret...I do plan on pushing the swim. I've never pushed the swim in a race and I figured this might be a good time to give it a go. If she is reading this, I'm just kidding! :)

This no goal thing might not be a bad idea. The first time I ran the Houston Half I set a PR that I haven't touched yet. Maybe I'll go into that race Garmin & expectation free and just see what happens.

Up next for me? Training, training & more training. This weekend I'll be riding the Ironstar bike course and am super excited to see how that goes. I also have a 14 mile run scheduled for Friday morning. Good thing I'm off on Friday and the only tough thing I'll need to do all day is figure out how short to cut my hair!

Until next time!

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Let's see how far we've come" - Matchbox 20

I am now only 3 weeks and 2 days away from my first Half Ironman (or 70.3) race. Time is flying by at lightning speed and I feel like if I close my eyes, I will wake up and it’ll be race morning! This is going to be a tough race but I’m looking forward to it. My training has been going well and I’ve been making corrections to issues I’ve been having. I’m not going to be a speed demon on race day but it’s not about that. My goals at this race are simple: (1) Enjoy the day, (2) Focus on hydration, (3) Push myself in the swim and (4) Stay on top of the mental game. If I can finish with a smile, I will be a very happy girl.

We’ve been asked to compile our race results for the past few years for our coach. Wow, what an eye opening exercise this has been! You know, I heard recently that a teammate expressed some surprise to hear about a good swim I had and it bothered me at first. As I thought about it, I realized nobody is as surprised by my progress in the water as I am! For every race I’ve had this year, my swim pace has been steadily dropping. I’m not talking big drops, a few seconds here and there. This week part of our swim workout was to swim 3x500 and focus on our pacing. My times were 10:23, 10:22 & 10:21. Spot on! As I looked at my time, I remembered one of my very first tri’s where I swam a 300 in 10:41. I’m swimming a farther distance FASTER. So if you’re surprised by my progress, that’s ok….join the club!

I finally got to participate in 10 for Texas this past weekend. This is the 3rd time I’ve signed up and the 1st I’ve been able to run as I’ve had stress fractures the past two years. The day was gorgeous and I enjoyed every bit of my run. This was to be a run where I really needed to stay in the proper HR zones. As we lined up at the start, I felt a tap on the shoulder and didn’t really need to turn around because I already knew it was my coach and I already knew what she was going to tell me….don’t race. I’m not going to lie, it’s very hard not to get caught up in the excitement of race morning but I knew it was more important to follow instructions. I ran by myself the whole way with the exception of the first mile or so. I don’t mean to be an anti-social runner…there are just times where I really need the quiet to think about “stuff”. I was proud of my finishing time and more proud of the fact I’m learning to stick to my workouts!

After Ironstar Half Ironman, I will have a much deserved break and then will return to racing on Thanksgiving morning with the GE Run Thru the Woods in The Woodlands. I already know this race is to be by “feel” since I’ll be coming off my longest race ever and I’m ok with that. The real reason I sign up for this race is so I can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner guilt free!

My next project is to work on making my blog a little cooler as I get bored looking at it! Wish me luck! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are we there yet?

The title of this blog update was one of my favorite questions growing up when we went on road trips. I often found myself yelling this out from the very back of the van to the front. Those were the days.

Our Sunday bike ride was 60 miles with a 45 minute run after. I know most who probably read this don't think this is crazy at all but most people who know me in my normal, every day life do! 60 miles is going to take a rider like me over 3.5 hrs to finish and so to think you might hear "Are we there yet" isn't out of the question.

I want to make this short and sweet. The bike was awesome!!!! After having my coach refit me on my bike, she assured me it would feel different and I should expect to get more power. Maybe part of this was mental for me b/c I believed I would have more power and more power I had!!! I haven't had the most stellar rides since getting my new bike and I had been blaming a lot of that on my fall. Whatever the reason, this was another good confidence booster to have as I get closer to my first half ironman.



I feel like I've been training forever and I find myself asking again, "Are we there yet"? Almost! In 5 short weeks, I will be putting everything I've learned to use and will tackle the half ironman distance. 1.2 miles in the water, 56 miles on the bike and 13.1 miles running all in less than 8 hours. It's still so funny to me because for once, the swim isn't even a concern of mine. I already respect the swim (b/c I'm not that good at it) but more importantly, I KNOW I can do it. The swim is my time to think about the rest of the race and calm myself. A few years ago the swim was my time to pray not to die! I know I can do the bike. I may not be the quickest on two wheels but I know how to pace myself and I know how to hydrate properly and again, I KNOW I can do it. Ironstar will be a hilly race (by Houston standards) but I'm learning to like hills. A little. The next 5 weeks I'm going to focus on getting stronger coming off the bike so I can have a better run. I should be able to accomplish this now that my bike fits the way it was meant to!


Training is going well, I'm healthy, I feel strong and I feel ready! Are we there yet? Hell yeah!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Distance Tri: Take 2


Let me start this by saying I have never gone through an entire race without one negative thought creeping into my head. NEVER. Sunday was the exception.

I had so much on my mind going into this race. Back in April when I attempted this distance, the swim was cancelled due to weather and then I collapsed on the run due to poor hydration on the bike. With my first half ironman race a mere 6 weeks away, I needed Sunday to go well. I needed to know I could conquer this distance. Mentally it would have been disaster if I didn’t race or didn’t race “well”.

The weather reports leading up to the race caused the first anxious moments. 30% chance of thunderstorms in the area. Sorry Mother Nature, that’s just not going to work! I prayed, hoped, wished and thought about sacrificing a small animal to the weather God’s to ensure no rain (trust me, I didn’t harm any animals). I called Lynn on my way to the race and she let me know it was lookin’ good. YES! My fear of any portion of the race being cancelled went out the window.

SWIM

Even though my time was slower than what I wanted, I had a BLAST with the swim. I used to be so afraid of open water swim starts but not anymore. I respect the start but I don’t fear it. Every part of my body was smacked, grabbed, poked, touched, rubbed against and I didn’t let it phase me. I found a pretty clear line that kept the buoys on my right and I just relaxed and swam. Before I knew it, I was rounding the yellow buoys (watching many swim right into them) and headed to shore. I lost all my fellow sTRIver’s at the start so had no clue where anyone was. “That’s ok” I told myself. “Race YOUR race”. I started my second loop getting in just as the blue wave was on their way. Merging in water is way harder than merging on the highway. No worries though. I found another line and just swam. Next thing I knew, the swim was done. Huh? How did that happen so fast?

RUN TO TRANSITION

I wouldn’t normally give the run to T1 it’s own section but given it was red carpeted and at least .25 miles, I think it’s deserved. I told myself getting out of the water that I was running the whole way to T1 no matter what. Walking the red carpet is only acceptable if you’re wearing an evening gown and heels, not a tri suit. It wasn’t pretty but I ran the whole way and managed to keep a smile on my face even though the thought kept running through my head that people were taking pictures of me running after swimming and I sure hope I didn’t look like a whale. Vain, I know but whatever.

BIKE

Not much to say here. The bike was flat and windy. Coach G wanted me in aero more and so I did focus on that. I had some issues w/ my hydration bottle not staying put and then losing another straw. WTH? I lost one on my 62 mile ride, how in the hell did I lose another? Whatever. I’ve still got one working straw so I’ll make it work. While overall I’m happy with what I did on the bike, I know I can do better. I’ve definitely had some trouble moving past the crash I took when my bike was brand spanking new! I get more comfortable every time I ride so I’m moving in the right direction, just not moving as fast as I’d like. The way I look at it, I’ve got 6 weeks of riding left before Ironstar to build back my confidence. Seems doable to me! The good news here is my mount & dismount went smoothly and I clipped in & out with no issues. Hey, small victories baby, small victories!

RUN

I hate saying anything negative at all about this race because I REALLY was so pleased with it but…..Well, let’s just say the run wasn’t my friend on Sunday. Immediately after hopping off my bike, I was made painfully aware of the massive cramps in both calves. Seriously? I hydrated like crazy and I even switched back to the drink that had more electrolytes. Why? Why? Why? Deciding I didn’t want to sound like Nancy Kerrigan, I quit asking why and just went with it. I knew from Clear Lake the cramps wouldn’t last forever so I just needed to work through it. I spent the first 3 miles walking a LOT more than planned. I was forced to running for 2 – 3 minutes and then walking for 15 – 30 seconds. I repeated this up until mile 3 when the cramps FINALLY went away. After that, I was able to run far more normal! Even though the run time is not what I’m capable of by any means, I was beyond happy because for once, I didn’t let any negative talk in my head. I smiled, chatted with fellow runners and knew that no matter what, I was going to finish smiling. How in the world could that be a bad run? After hitting the 5 mile marker outside the stadium, I was barely able to contain my excitement. 1.2 miles left and I get to collect my medal and enjoy. In the distance I saw sTRIve green and knew it was my coach. “Where have you been?” she asked. Hmmm. I just smiled and shrugged. Coach G ran with me a bit and gave me a great pep talk. I was going to see mile 6 in just a minute and after that, she outlined how many turns I would have, where the sTRIvers would be and then, the finish. She wanted me to push it and didn’t care if I vomited. LOL. Umm, there are cameras coach! I took off running with my smile and saw the 6 mile sign. All of a sudden I hear, “I can see you. Run HARDER.”. The irritating voice continued for several more steps. Coach wasn’t about to let me slow down. A strong finish is what she wanted and that’s what I was going to deliver. I rounded the corner and saw Keith & Hannah (the best cheerleaders ever). Another corner rounded and there were the sTRIVers. YAYYYYY! At that point, I told myself to treat it like a 400 (even though I had far less left) and just sprint the rest of the way. A nice lady cheered for me and told me “way to sprint to the finish”. I crossed the finish and just smiled!

The fact I’m still this happy about finishing with a time slower than I wanted is amazing to me. And it proves to me how much I’ve grown over the past year. This was the first race that I really understood what it meant to “race your own race”. Make no mistake though, I’m expecting to PR my next Oly!


Lessons Learned:
1. I’m MUCH tougher than I give myself credit for.
2. I don’t suck at swimming any more. J
3. Need to figure out the cramping issues so I can have the run I’m meant to have!
4. I really, really LOVE racing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I would like 62 miles with hills on the side please!

First of all, I'm sad to announce there are no pics for this post. I know, I know. What am I thinking?!?

Sunday was my longest ride to date....a whopping 62 miles of hills, hills and more hills! I really had fun on this ride...a lot of fun! I went into it w/ a few goals: (1) focus on hydrating, (2) practice shifting gears and (3) not worry about what everyone else was doing. I'm proud to say I accomplished all 3 goals and finished the ride feeling healthy, happy, ready to run (if I needed to) and SUPER hungry! A few take aways were (1) I need to get out on group rides more and (2) I need more hill training. Whoever said Texas is flat hasn't ridden in Montgomery Country!

It's race week this week and I'm starting to get excited for Sunday as this will be my "real" first Olympic distance race. My last Oly wasn't an Oly since the swim was cancelled and I passed out on the run course. Oops. I'm definitely looking for far different results this weekend. I haven't really set a goal for this race...mainly just not to pass out and to finish smiling. Sure, there is a time in my head I would like to beat but I'm not going to jinx myself by putting it to paper. :)

I'm looking forward to a fun training week! I'm sure more posts will follow!

Woo hoo!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clear Lake Triathlon Update: Yeah, better late than never!

So it occurred to me today that I had not updated you on my most recent tri which took place a week or so ago.

This was a "C" race for me so in non-triathlete language, a hard training day. Mentally, it takes a little bit to convince yourself that it's ok to race and not PR and not have AWESOME times. I should say that for most people it's hard but I found it surprisingly calming. :) For this race I planned on focusing on a few key things for each leg of the race. For the swim I was going to focus on sighting and bilateral breathing, on the bike my goal was to focus on proper hydration & getting in aero and on the run, HYDRATE & enjoy. Oh, and the times I'm quoting below are approximates as I'm not about to delay this blog any more by actually looking up the EXACT times.

I was in the first swim wave for the Sprint distance, not where my age group (A/G) usually starts. Okey doke. I get in the water and immediately realize this is a salt water swim which was shocking to me as I was convinced it was freshwater. Well, I can check one fear off my list! I decide that for the swim start, I'm not going to put myself in the back like I usually do in open water swims...oh no, up front I go. I know you faster swimmers are reading this and are getting all pissy but get over it. I needed to make sure I was comfortable getting kicked, splashed and swam over. Kudos to me b/c I felt pretty good at the start. Yay me. Now it's time to focus on sighting. I must pat myself on the back again b/c not once did I swim off course! In fact, I even found myself practicing breathing every 3rd stroke here and there. As I made the final turn and headed back to shore, I realized that this was probably the most comfortable I have ever felt in a race. I got out of the water and started running to T1 and realized I wasn't panting or breathing hard. Hmmm, sounds like someone left a whole lot of racing in the water. "C" race Jenny, "C" race. I finished the swim in 12+ minutes which was good for 7th in my A/G or top 50%. Hell yes!!!!

Heading into T1, I knew I just wanted to maintain what I typically do. With the exception of my very first triathlon where I actually tried to put on an extra sports bra while soakingwet (thanks again to Leslie Nagy for helping me out), I am pretty good in transition....until this race. I don't know why but I was jacking with my gloves trying to get them on for this sprint race. A calmer head finally prevailed and I ditched the gloves and made my way out of T1 after what I felt was an eternity. T1 time was about 1:43ish and good for 5th in my A/G. Well go girl!

I started the bike portion of the race on my brand new tri bike (still to be named). I had a lot riding on the bike (haha no pun intended). Seriously though, after my bike wreck nearly 8 weeks ago, I was a little nervous about the bike and really wanted to do well. I reminded myself this was my 1st race on a tri bike, my 1st race after falling and a "C" race. The goal for me was to get and stay in aero as long as possible. A few short miles into the race I encountered Goliath aka the Kemah Bridge. I am sure the bridge isn't as high as I thought but for someone who trains in Texas where we aren't exactly known for hills, this may as well have been a mountain.
As I approached the hill I decided I would just build up as much speed as possible and then start dropping gears like Kirstie Alley used to drop pounds. I start up the hill and felt the burn pretty quickly. Much to my surprise AND delight, I was passing ladies going up. YES. I'm pedaling my little heart out fully aware that my HR is rising as fast as this damn bridge. As I approached the top of the bridge it FINALLY hit me that I had to go down. Yes, "oh sh@t" is exactly what I said....out loud. Now out of aero, I headed down the hill and literally laughed the whole way down b/c that's what I do when I'm scared out of my mind and think I might die. I glance at my Garmin and see 26mph. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't look any more. I decide that braking is not a good idea b/c I don't want to hit them too hard and then fly over the handlebars. That would be bad. I am passed by one dude on the downhill and he was in aero and looked pretty calm. Kamikaze is what I like to call him. I make it to the bottom of the hill and decide to never look back. I would later learn that my top speed was about 29mph. On a BIKE! After that, the bike was pretty non-eventful. This was advertised as a 12.5 mile back but my Garmin doesn't like and actual mileage was between 14 & 15 miles. Does it matter, no not really. My place in my A/G remains unchanged but my mph would go up. Either way, I finish with an official 16.4mph average which I'm super happy with b/c only 2 ladies in my A/G were faster than the 16mph range and I had 5th in my A/G once again. Yes, that is good for top 1/3!!!!!! Umm, I'm pretty sure that's my best bike ever. Oh, I also stayed in aero 90% more of the race which to me was the true victory. I also achieved my goal of hydrating properly although I did finish my sports drink at mile 7ish which was not good but I'm learning. Note to self: bigger bottle next time!

After dismounting the bike, I had for T2 and know that the first thing I'm going to do is hydrate with my formerly frozen but now surely warm water bottle. The second thing I'm doing is putting on socks so I don't get another triathlon blister. Check. Check. T2 takes about 1:30 which is good for....5th in my A/G. Holy crap. I may just finish this "C" race in a nice position!

And then there was the one. Ok, I'm not going to lie. My run was dismal. Within 1 mile I had the worst cramping in my calves and decided I needed to walk. Seriously? UGH. I was so bummed but knew the cramping wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately, walking didn't help much either. What the heck? After talking w/ my coach later, I found out that the likely culprit was not having enough electrolytes (remember I said I finished off my sports drink around mile 7?). I reminded myself this was a "C" race and not to stress out. Minute after minute, I saw folks in my A/G passing me and I was bummed. "C" race Jenny, "C" race. To be honest with you, I think I got to the point where I probably did give up on my run and probably didn't push through what I should have. Good learning opportunity if you ask me. :) I finished the run 15th in my A/G (out of 16). Totally disappointing b/c I know I'm a FAR better runner than that. C'est la vie. Have I mentioned this was a "C" race.

All in all, I was very happy with the day and was so excited to finish feeling strong. Yay me!!

There weren't too many sTRIver's out for this event. Aren was racing the Oly and did great!!! I was lucky enough to see him coming in on the bike, going out on the run and then finishing strong! Nicholas (who I had never met) was racing the sprint and he looked to have done very well in race. It was great having Keith, Hannah and the puppies out to support me....AGAIN! Hannah is the loudest cheerleader hands down. What's great about her is that she also cheers for everyone else. Love that girl! It was also great to see one of the OutRival coaches, Sherrie, at swim start. The more familiar faces the better!!!

My next race will be September 26th...an Oly. For those of you who remember, I was to have raced this distance in Galveston in April but the swim was cancelled and then I collapsed on the run course. So this will be my 1st Oly and I couldn't be more excited. It will be a "B" race and set up for my half Ironman in November (deep breath, deep breath). I'm not setting a time goal right now. Just race hard, incorporate everything I'm learning and HAVE FUN!!!! If I happen to finish in 3hrs, great! :)

Until next time!!!!!!