Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh 2011!

I say this every year and I'll say it again....this year has FLOWN by!  January through March always seem to drag a bit and then the next thing you know, BAM!  It's December.  

I must admit that the last part of the year was pretty rough on me from just about every aspect of my life.  While it has definitely sucked at times, I know things could've been far worse, especially as I think about what others have faced this year.  I'll go ahead and count my blessings instead of count the things that weren't given to me. 

Thankfully, the past few weeks have been uneventful and peaceful.  Ahhh.  Much of that is attributed to the fact that I've had several days off (and I only had to go into work once over the holidays).   

So now I get to focus on 2012 and what a great (even numbered) year is sure to bring!  I've got a new position at work and I couldn't be more excited.  My official title is going to be Quality Implementation Manager.  I'm still transitioning out of my old role...yes, that transition has been going on far longer than I would like.  I'm hopeful that by mid-January, I'll be fully engaged in my new role and really making a difference.  Fingers crossed!

In Spring 2012 I have a fun vacation planned with my sisters, niece & nephew and I can't wait!  Cristian will start kindergarten in the fall and we thought it would be fun to do something special with him so we are!  

Of course, I'm signed up for a handful of races already:  Houston Half Marathon, Hot Chocolate 15k, The Woodlands Half-Marathon and the Hy-Vee 5i50 Championship.  As I've said before, there will be other races on my calendar and I'll be finalizing all of that soon with the help of my wonderful coach, Ana.  

I've got some projects around the house I would love to tackle this year since I will likely not be training for any triathlon longer than an Oly.  :)  Don't worry, I'll talk more about that in my RESOLUTIONS edition which will likely come out on New Years Day.  

I'll go ahead and close this blog up with some pictures.  Enjoy and if I don't talk to you before 2012......HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

I became an Auntie again!  Welcome Avery Elizabeth!

Keith became a Papa to little Addison Irene Buttenob! 

 I started....

 ...and finished my 1st Ironman!

And baby makes 3!

 Post race celebrating with Avery Elizabeth, a future triathlete for sure!

I got to "coach" Emily this year and watch her compete in her first 3 races!  
Watch out Woodlands Marathon!

 My "baby" sisters. Time sure does fly!

Ahh, I finally finished a race in Galveston!
And a PR to boot!  Goodbye, Galveston! 
Hello, Hy-Vee 5i50 Championship!

 Steffie becomes a Mommy in 2011. :)

 Keith & Luke race in their 1st Half-Ironman as part of a relay team!

 First time Aunties, Hannah & Caitlin!

 Future BFF's.  Avery & Addie checking each other out at Papa Chalfant's. 

 Keith's baby, Heather, also became a new Mommy in 2011.  

 Mom,Stef & Avery at Santa's Wonderland. 

 Doug & Mom at Santa's Wonderland. He waited all year to visit!  LOL!

Uncle Kevin doesn't let  us take many pics but here he is with his niece!
 Oh brothers!  Christmas morning is never dull with my family!

 Another great year with my honey.  :)

Cristian has grown so much in 2011!  Future heartbreaker!!

And of course, let's not forget Leia & Sophie.  

Monday, December 19, 2011


As the year comes barreling to a close, I find myself reflecting a lot about 2011. For some reason, I've never been a huge fan of odd numbered years. No real reason for it although I'm sure if I tried, I could make a list of bad things that went down in odd years. I'll spare you that though.

While this year hasn't been all bad race wise (I mean hello, I did finish my first Ironman), I've definitely had my share of less than stellar races. Even though some of the challenges this year have been tough, I really wouldn't trade them for anything b/c that's what makes you stronger. The tough times are the times that define you and show you who you are. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have some not so challenging races but I'm glad I've been able to learn the lessons I have this year.

It seems that this year I've had trouble with my own head. I've found myself doubting my abilities more than I'd care to admit although I've thankfully been able to stifle that noise for my bigger, more important races. My biggest issue this year has been my lack of confidence in my running. This has been a little strange to me as running is what I started with and what I truly loved. What the heck happened? I think we need a timeline........

Jan 2008 - 1st half marathon. My goal was to finish in 2.5hrs and I managed to finish in 2:10.

Feb 2008 - Having loved my first experience so much, I signed up for the Austin half the next month. I was on track for the same time as Houston until my hip went nutty at about mile 8 and I was forced to walk a ton.

Aug 2008 - After spending the rest of the year racing like a crazy woman, I started having leg issues. In August/September I found out I had a stress fracture in one of the smaller bones in my left leg. Bummer. No running for about 6 weeks.

Jan 2009 - Ran the Houston Half again. Finished in the 2:20 range. Disappointed but was coming off stress fracture so.....

Apr 2009 - Ran Angie's Half Crazy Half Marathon with a fever. Dumb. Finished in 2:20 or 2:30 range.

Aug 2009 - Are you kidding me? Had leg pain again and found out I had a stress fracture in the other small bone in my left leg. Major bummer. Did not start running again until after Thanksgiving.

Jan 2010 - Ran Houston Half again. I believe this was another 2:20 range. Bummed but thankful to finish given how much training was missed.

Jun 2010 - Sign up for IMTX and get focused....well, as focused as my job would let me!

Summer 2010 - Can't remember what exactly but was experiencing some cramping in legs a lot. No stress fracture but something wasn't right.

Sept 2010 - Clear Lake Sprint (C race). Had a very good showing in the swim and on the bike. Bad leg cramping for run. Went from placing 5th to last in the run. I was pretty bummed. This was a turning point for me.

For the purpose of this blog, I will stop there b/c what's happened since has been pretty well journaled on this blog. As I sat here today thinking about that race, I realized that was the point where I started thinking differently about my running. During my post race debrief, I was told that the run was my limiter and ever since then, that's what I've believed. While I don't think the person who told me this meant for it to have the impact it did, it certainly stuck with me.

So limiters are funny things. We all have them. Right? I don't know if this is going to make sense but I think a limiter is only a limiter if we allow it to be. I get it, I'm never going to run a 6 minute mile and so maybe that means I'm never going to win a race but if winning isn't my goal, then why does a slower run = a limiter? Does that make sense? And as I typed this paragraph, it occurred to me that as soon as I tell myself I will never run a 6 minute mile, I am guaranteeing I won't b/c I obviously don't believe in myself. Let's not kid ourselves though, I am no Adrienne Langelier. :) I wasn't gifted with the ability to post those kinds of numbers and that's ok!

As I (we) head into 2012 I think it's important to remember why I (we) race. If we are doing it to learn, grow, improve & have fun, then why must we look at our abilities as limited? The only limiters are the ones we impose on ourselves. I'm challenging myself to keep the negative talk out of my head in 2012 and get back to really enjoying racing and having fun when I'm out there. There will be no talk of limiters when you're around me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This video better be worth it....

Oh my gosh! Going on day 2 of trying to post this stupid thing!!!!

I had to reduce the quality so that I could post this thing so I will apologize in advance. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My poor blog....

Since OilMan HIM, I've been a bit of a slacker when it comes to blogging so let me see if I can't correct that problem! I warn you now, I have no pictures to post and have absolutely nothing funny to share! I just feel guilty for not writing. :)

I got sick around Thanksgiving and wasn't able to work out for a week and a few days. Oh my gosh, I was miserable! It's amazing how crappy you can feel after not working out. I know many would be excited by getting to rest vs rush to the gym right after work but that was not how I felt at all. Exercising really makes me happy and improves my mood so when I don't get to do it, I feel it not only physically, but mentally. I know there are more of you out there that feel my pain.

This week I've been able to exercise and while I've been very happy to do so, I can't lie when I tell you it's been tough. Workouts are a little more difficult so I just have to be patient and not overdo anything. And yes, I have been obeying coaches orders to a T. ;)

The end of the year is upon us and I know it's getting close to time to reflect about the past year and started looking towards what 2012 will hold and what I want to achieve. I'm SO excited for 2012!!!!

So now that it's triathlon off-season, how am I occupying my time? Well, I'm glad you asked! I am focusing on my run right now as I absolutely have a goal to PR at the half marathon distance. I don't have any long distance tris planned and know for certain there will be no Ironman for me in 2012. I doubt I'll do a half-Ironman but that's a little up in the air. Once again, I'll be attempting to get in to the NYC Marathon so if I don't, I'm sure I'll be itching for a late season tri but we'll see. Anyway, back to what I'm doing now! I've been taking on some craft projects. I'm working on a couple things that are super hush-hush as they will *hopefully* be gifts for family members. I also am working on re-purposing some household items I haven't been using in hopes of using them elsewhere. For example, I have this really cute wrought iron thing that I had hanging in the bedroom of my old apartment and I hung stuff from it. It's been sitting in my closet since moving and the other day it occurred to me I could use it in my workout room to display my race medals! I ventured over to Home Depot, purchased some silver spray paint and headed home to get started. Well, the spray paint phase is done and I'm super happy with how it turned out. I'll definitely post pictures. I have one more project for my workout room that involves a way to display race bibs. I got the idea from Etsy and am determined to tweak a bit and come up with something that compliments the decor in my workout room. So excited!

I hope you all are doing well and getting ready for Christmas!!!! Tomorrow I'll be heading to the Run Girl 13.1 race to watch Keith's daughter Emily race in her first half-marathon! Super, super excited to see how she does!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trying to catch up on my 14 days (so far) of Thanks!

For the past few weeks, I've had a lot of fun reading all the FB updates with what my friends are thankful for. I keep meaning to do the same but then find myself side tracked. I figured I would spend a little time tonight expressing some thanks!

  1. FAMILY - I think this goes without saying. I'm super duper thankful for my awesome family, both immediate & extended. From my siblings to my cousins, I'm just plain lucky! What's even cooler is that I've got a lot of family members I have literally never met (on my dad's side of the family) and some who I haven't seen in years but are still super supportive of me (on my step-dad's side of the family). And of course, there's my mom who not only birthed me, but 6 siblings!
  2. KEITH E. POO - Ok, that's not really his name but it sounded cute. Keith is my awesome boyfriend and I'm grateful for the 6.5 years we've had together. With Keith comes his family which includes his girls, aunts, uncles & cousins. It also brought his awesome mom, Hazel, who passed away a few years ago. :( Dating after divorce is not always easy and we've definitely had some tough times but every year gets better & better!
  3. CUTE BAG INVENTOR - I'm not kidding about this one. I love bags. Who am I kidding, shoes & bags are pretty even in my book. Picking which I love more is like a mother picking her favorite just can't do it (unless you're in my family and the obvious choice is me). :)
  4. FRIENDS - I'm not going to name off everyone who has been a great friend to me because those folks know who they are and I venture to guess that anyone reading this blog qualifies. :)
  5. ICHAT - Yes, iChat makes the cut b/c over the past week, I've been able to chat with my sister 3 times. And while chatting with Stef is great, the real bonus is getting to chat w/ my niece. Ok, so maybe Avery isn't "chatting" yet but last night she clearly knew who I was and even crawled towards the computer. Yep, she loves her Auntie Jenny. :)
  6. M&M's - Honestly, these little bits of chocolate heaven are the only things that make my trail mix tolerable. You can imagine my disappointment today when I reached for a handful of trail mix and was greeted only by nuts and raisins. I shook and shook and shook the trail mix container, hoping an M&M would reveal itself but no luck. Evidently I've already picked them all out. I'm going to the store tomorrow to buy a bag of M&M's to dump in my trail mix. This makes me happy. And thankful.
  7. PERFECTLY SHARPENED PENCILS - Yes, I'm serious about this one too. In my opinion, there isn't much better than a sharp pencil for taking notes. I love pencils. Well, I almost always love pencils. I have this unfortunate habit of putting sharp pencils in my purse, forgetting they're there and then reaching in to find something (usually my keys) and then stabbing myself. Remember back in the day when we all thought we'd die from lead poisoning? Ok, maybe you didn't think that but my teacher certainly had me convinced.
  8. SOPHIE & LEIA - I know there are some of you that are sick of seeing my dog pictures but you'll just have to get over it. Even though they are special in their own way, I love these two puppies and am thankful I have them to keep me company.
  9. TOILET PAPER - I don't think I need to elaborate.
  10. A MIND TO RHYME AND TOO HYPE FEET - Again, I don't think I need to elaborate.
  11. A STRONG BODY - Ask anyone I've known for a long time and they will tell you I always enjoyed working out. Even so, I never imagined in my wildest dreams I'd sign up for a triathlon, let alone stick with it this long and have completed an Ironman. It's amazing what the body and mind can do. After my 2nd stress fracture in 2009, I remember my doctor telling me he didn't think the human body was made to run 26.2 miles. That just didn't sit right with me. The only thing the human body can't do is what it's mind says it can't do. Anything is possible.
  12. CLUB SODA - Random, I know. I don't like to drink pop even though I have been caving more often then I care to admit. I try to be good at home and discovered if you mix club soda with pineapple juice, you get a sort of pineapple soda. Trust me, it tastes better than I'm describing it.
  13. DETANGLER - Growing up with thick, naturally curly hair, you can imagine the need for detangler. Lots and lots of detangler. Without it, I'm afraid I would have had to shave my head bald a dozen times over.
  14. TULIPS - They just make me happy. Period.
  15. THANKSGIVING DINNER - Who doesn't love getting together with family, visiting, laughing and making lasting memories?
  16. GEORGE LUCAS - Umm hello? Star Wars. I admit, he nearly lost his street cred with the invention of Jar Jar Binks but I'll let it slide.
I know I left some really important things out but I think I've hit on the most important items.

I have to say, sitting down and typing out the things I'm thankful for really does make me realize just how much I have and how unimportant the small stuff in life is. I don't think I'll wait until Thanksgiving next year to do this again.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

And the next video. Drum roll please......

Since the other video I posted was so easy to do, here's the other one I made! ;)

A long time coming.......

After Ironman Texas, I was determined to put together a photo video to post here, there or anywhere for my friends/family to watch. Sure, I posted my pics on FB but I wanted to have more of a keepsake. Well, it took some time but thanks to my Mac, I was finally able to do something easily that turned out just the way I wanted it. Here's hoping you like the video!! It's long but that's b/c LOTS of pics were taken to help me remember a great, great day.

It took me awhile to pick the songs I wanted in the background. I listened to TONS of songs and one day while driving somewhere with Keith, I heard "Maybe" by Sick Puppies and was moved to tears. Truth be told, it was a few days before my period which I suspect was the real reason for the tears but whatever. I thought they were a sign. The second song is by Flo Rida and just makes me want to jump around & dance which is basically what I wanted to do at the end of IMTX.

Hope you like it!!!

p.s. Don't try to expand to full screen b/c the pics get really blurry. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

And just like that, tri season is over!

Had I written this yesterday, I think it would've had a much different tone. But after having a chance to reflect and to also get some sleep, I am seeing things in a better light. But before I get too far into this, let me talk a little about Team Try Weakly, the 4th place coed relay team!

Dorina Garcia, Keith Chalfant & Luke Seliger signed up for OilMan as a relay team a few months back. When they signed up, Keith had only been riding a bike for maybe two months, Dorina had been out of the swimming game for 20 years and Luke while having oodles of natural ability, doesn't really train. They were all game to give this a go though. I really didn't expect them to place so high in the coed division....not because I didn't believe in them but because if you're signing up for these types of distances, chances are you are HARD CORE. When I saw they grabbed 4th place I was SOOOO excited. Dorina had the 8th best swim in her division and did that WITHOUT a wetsuit. So proud of her! Keith posted the 7th fastest bike in the division which is a big accomplishment given he's been riding such a short time and is still puffing on the cancer sticks. :) Luke didn't disappoint with a 3rd place run in his division coming in just over 1hr 51min. If this kid trains and learns how to pace himself, he is going to bring that time down significantly. You guys rocked and I'm so proud of each of you!!!!

On to my race. Yes, I had high hopes to PR this distance yesterday and have trained for it and was mentally ready to do it. Unfortunately, a PR wasn't in the cards for me as I missed it by around 3.5 minutes. My swim was a fair amount slower than last year but I felt like I did my very best so I can't be upset. As much as I complained about potentially being in the last wave, I have decided that is far better than having the young guys in the wave behind you & getting swam over. Those boys make some serious waves. I thought a friggin' boat was next to me and looked over to find a couple of guys paddling away. Good lord! The swim was uneventful until we approached the beach. We had to walk a pretty good distance to exit the swim. I stayed horizontal until my knuckles dragged on the mud. The run to transition was a bit of a hike and was a little "hilly". Not too bad. I ran the whole way so was proud of myself!

The bike was challenging to say the least. Once again we were greeted with high winds but we expected that. The chip seal on the road was worse than I expected. I kept praying the folks at Bike Lane did a good job putting my bike together b/c I was convinced it was going to shake apart. The plus was my arms got a FAB workout trying to keep that bike steady. I was following coaches orders to a T the whole ride. Easy gears up the hills and taking full advantage of speed on the downhills. I was feeling ok, not great, but not bad. Around mile 30, I really wasn't feeling well and thought maybe I was going too hard. I backed off but still didn't feel great so took a sip of IM Perform. Within 5 minutes, it was coming back up. I didn't even have to stop to throw up either! I figured that was the end of it so 15min later took in some more IM Perform. Up it came as well. Hmmm. This continued every 15 minutes the remainder of the ride. Ridiculous. I got called out by a dude behind me on Johnson Rd. He asked me if I puked on him, I said yes and apologized. He then let me know he was impressed I did it while riding and gave me a thumbs up. Note to self: dudes dig chicks who can puke & ride. Around mile 45 I started to really worry about my run. I know you should only focus on the event you're in but it was hard not to think about how in the world I was going to start the run not feeling well and likely dehydrated. I had made up my mind right then that I would pull into transition and turn in my chip. I had nothing to prove and nothing to be ashamed of. As I pulled back into the resort, I was feeling spent. My core hurt from throwing up and I was shaky. My day was about to end and I couldn't have been more happy. But then I saw Dorina, Keith & his girls and Emily's BF (Daniel). They were cheering so loud. I got off my bike and walked into transition. I decided to just take my time getting ready. Without even thinking about it, I put on my running shoes and race number and took off. Oh, I should mention that my bike was 10 minutes faster than last year in what were far worse conditions for me. I was pretty proud of that.

So headed out on the run, my legs felt really strong. Ok, at least I had that going for me. I took in some Gatorade from my hydration belt and it came up almost instantly. Are you kidding me? Even though I knew what would happen when I took in fluids I kept trying. I figured something would get absorbed and at least I would get a little benefit. BTW, I can't run and puke at the same time. That's just gross. At this point, I was starting to feel pretty dizzy and I knew this was 100% because of the lack of hydration. I dumped water on my head at every aid station and when I felt dizzy, I slowed way down. I tried to keep the walking to a minimum but there were times that's just what I had to do. I told myself that I gave it my best and it was time to find a medic tent and get off this course. As I started the 2nd lap, I asked a volunteer where the tent was? They didn't know. Seriously? He said he thought it was around the corner (near the pool?). I jogged a bit and started to feel crappy again. I bent over at the corner and spit some stuff up. Two really nice guys came by and dumped their water on my head and wrists. They told me to sit down and wait for someone to come help me. I ran. By mile 7, I was absolutely regretting starting the run. I took in some water and miraculously, it stayed down. I decided to take a gel since I didn't keep any others down. It stayed down! Oh my gosh. By this point, I only had a little over a lap to go and I decided to stick it out. I came this far. For the rest of the run, I was able to keep fluids down and could feel myself getting better. With 2 miles left, Luke asked if I wanted him to run with me but I told him no b/c I was ok and could get it done. I needed to do this on my own. I knew I was very close to my finish time from last year but was just grateful I was going to finish. The last 2 miles felt the longest although they were my fastest. I pushed for the finish line and was done. Thank God!

I was so happy that I hung in there even though I absolutely wanted to quit on each and every lap. I did prove to myself that I can stand up to the mental challenges (again). I started to cry a little when I was talking to Ana mainly b/c I felt like I let her down. I think I started to cry a bit too b/c my body was just so tired at that point.

Waking up this morning, I am really proud of myself. I know you can't PR every race (even though I always want to). I know without a doubt that I will keep getting stronger and I just need to be patient and continue working hard. I am SO looking forward to having a whole season with Ana and seeing what I can do. I feel like I've had a continuous tri season since June 2010 and I'm ready for a little bit of a break!

So there you have it. Another 70.3 is in the books and I'm stronger for it! I hope all who raced this weekend achieved their goals! :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Edition

I didn't plan to blog again today but my Halloween was so spooktacularly good, I just had to share with all of you!

I'll spare you the details of my long trek down to Sugar Land save to say, I made it safely. I headed over to Stef's casa to partake in some Halloween goodness as we were going to go trick or treating with my niece & nephew. Annie, Kiri & my mom also made it which was awesome. On top of that, our friend Veronica and her son Carson joined us. Cristian & Carson are close to the same age so we knew we were in for a good time.

I have been almost as excited as the kids for Halloween as Avery was dressing up as Princess Leia and Cristian selected Darth Vader for his costume. For those of you who know me well (hell, you probably don't have to know me well), you know I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I mean, I really LOVE Star Wars. When they re-released the original movies at the movie theaters, I just knew I HAD to take my four younger siblings who had never experienced Star Wars on a big screen. I decided that we needed to make the experience as real as possible so I insisted we go on opening day. I also told them we would need to get in line very early to ensure we had good seats but that I would make it worth their while by getting them McDonalds. We got to the AMC theatre in Sugar Land and much to my surprise, the line was empty. Hmmm. Oh well, that means WE would be first in line and I was excited about that. I would have my pick of seats in the theatre and I knew exactly where we would sit......smack dab in the middle. As folks were showing up for other evening movies, my siblings would see kids they went to school with and made sure I knew how embarrassed they were to be standing in line (still the only ones in line) for the movie.

Anyway, back to the point of the blog. Oh yeah, you can imagine the joy and pride I felt when I learned my niece & nephew would go as Star Wars characters. Never being one to miss out on the fun, I promised I would wear my stormtrooper "party" shirt. I call it a party shirt only b/c the stormtrooper has on a bow tie. If that doesn't SCREAM party, I don't know what will.

Fast forward to trick or treating. Carson & Cristian grabbed their empty sacks and we set off on our way. Stef supplied the beverages: Capri Sun for the kids, beer or wine for the adults. As we made our way to our first few houses, we quickly learned Carson & Cristian didn't quite have this down. They would run up to doors screaming, "TRICK OR TREAT", ring the door bell and then say nothing. We reminded them to ring, wait for someone to open the door and then say the magic words. And of course, always remember to say thank you. Before long, Cristian was announcing to us and anyone within a 5 mile radius that this was the best day EVER. "Can you believe it's Halloween?" he would ask over and over.

Side bar. For those of you who are stingy, please remember to turn your porch light off if you don't want cute little trick or treaters. That's the rule so follow it. Trust me, I made mental notes of those who left the light on but then refused to answer the door. I'll be back.

Carson was the first to grow impatient when someone would take too long to answer the door. At one house, the boys took turn ringing the doorbell. When that didn't work, they would knock. Carson then pounded on the door. When that didn't work, he started to kick the door. LOL. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it but trust me, this was hysterical. When that didn't work, Carson would test the door knob. Veronica jumped in just in time and asked him not to do that. Thankfully those folks locked their door. After another 15 minutes, the boys found themselves at yet another house that was taking too long to answer the door. This time Cristian tested the door handle and this one opened just as the owner was walking up! We were in hysterics on the sidewalk and I don't think it was my to go cup of wine. Trick or treating with little boys is the best!

Another house we went to had quite a bit in the way of Halloween decor. As the boys walked up the driveway, they noticed something scary hanging above the garage door. Neither of them wanted to keep going but we encouraged them to do so. They got to the front door where there were more decorations and we could hear them asking each other questions. The front door opened & the boys asked for treats. Shortly after that, Carson leaned in and said, "Ewwwww. You have a scary house". Straight from the mouth of babes!

As you can see, we had quite the evening and I can't wait to do it again next year! Little girls may be cute and fun to dress but I'm pretty sure little boys will keep you laughing for weeks.


Let the race week begin!

I'm back for yet another race week post. When my season started, I didn't expect to be racing sooo much at the end of the year but with a new coach, I found that there were things I needed to work on and so, a few more races. Awesome!

So we're about 6 days from OilMan Half Ironman. For those of you who have been with me for awhile, you might recall this was my first 70.3 race. I'm so excited to be doing this race again and am really hoping for a great day on the course. I've just reviewed my workouts for the week and have looked at my instructions for race day so now I get to start visualizing my race. I've already taken my bike in to Bike Lane for a tune up/look over and all is in working order.

My friend & teammate, Chris Gause, is also enjoying race week this week. She'll be heading to Florida for her very first Ironman and I'm so excited for her!!!! I will be able to track her most of the day but will probably need to head to bed before she finishes and that's going to be hard to do! I promise you though, as soon as I wake up Sunday morning, I'll be looking for an update. Go Chris Go!!!!!

Keith is also signed up for OilMan as part of a relay team. My friend Dorina will be the swimmer (she was a swimmer growing up), Keith will tackle the 56 mile bike and then my speedy brother Luke will take on the run. If the schedule is anything like last year, Dorina & I should be in the same swim wave. It's likely she'll beat me out of the water but I'm just hoping to come out close enough to her that Keith & I will be within sight of each other on the ride. Luke will undoubtedly start the run before me so I hope to at least see him on two of the laps. It's going to be a fun, fun day.

My biggest goal for Sunday is to execute. I will tackle the swim much the same way I did in Galveston but will push a little more. I have my set HR for the bike and strict instructions from coach to keep my cadence in check and not to worry about getting passed on the hills. She wants my legs strong for the run. And of course, I know what I need to do on the run. Each loop needs to be faster than the one before it. Focus. If I execute the plan, the time will come. This is my new mantra. Execute. Execute. Execute. My secondary goal of course is to PR at this distance. I feel like this is doable, my coach feels like this is doable but at the same time, I can't focus on the number. I always focus on the number and then beat myself up if I don't make it. I'm learning though! Racing in Galveston was a blessing. Even though I may not have run as fast as I wanted, I improved from the previous race.

So that's it. My first race week post and I guarantee more will follow. Last year I went into this race very calm and ready. I feel very similar this year although I have a lot more excitement. I think that has to do with having Dorina, Keith & Luke out there with me. And of course, we'll have an awesome support crew. I know Stef & Avery will be there. Three of Keith's girls will be out there: Caitlin, Emily & Hannah. We wish Heather, Mike & Addie could make it but alas, they live in Chi-Town. At least we'll get to see them in a couple weeks!

There you have it. Race week is on. If you guys don't mind, send some positive vibes my way all week and on Sunday. I really, really want to end my tri season on a high note!!!!

See ya in a day or so. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deep thoughts by JJ

I don't think triathlon necessarily comes easy to anyone but it really doesn't come easy to me. As I sit here two days post Galveston and quickly approaching OilMan, I still find it hard to believe I stuck with triathlon. My first experience was horrible. I don't come from a strong swimming background and most of my experience around pools involved laying next to them with tanning oil all over my body. Yes, I knew how to ride a bike but not a fancy bike! I have always enjoyed running but most of my running in my younger years involved a 5k here and there and I never cared what my time was. In fact, I think I was pretty consistently in the 30-35min range. On top of all that, I definitely am not built for speed. I'm not bashing myself or anything like that...just stating a fact.

So given all that, why do I beat myself up after every race even when I have a good race? Well, that would be because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself and I don't like doing things I'm not good at. Yes, everyone in my family will tell you I'm super competitive (especially when it comes to board games) but I'm seriously not really competitive with others at races. It truly is ME that I want to beat. I want to beat my last time. I want to always show improvement and for a long time, I equated improvement with faster times but I'm quickly learning that there is much more to it than that.

Talking w/ Ana after my last few races has been really good for me. She is awesome at analyzing results and can quickly show me that even though my time may have been slower, I moved up x number of places in the standings. Or maybe I was not as fast on the bike as I hoped but compared to others who raced the same race the previous year, I showed greater improvement. Ok, so I need to look at things differently. We all have a different starting point and that's what matters. Where are you today from where you were yesterday? Or from where you were when you started? THAT is what matters. 1st, 5th or 14th place don't matter. Those are just numbers. Ok, they do matter a little but you get my point.

I told Keith I need to remind myself why I do this. Sure, someday I would love to be in the top half of my age group CONSISTENTLY but at the end of the day, I'm doing this because I enjoy it and it makes me happy and keeps me healthy. I'm trying to improve. And given where I started, I'd say I've improved by leaps & bounds.

It's funny how you can experience feelings at both ends of the spectrum about the same race. You can start out so happy because you achieved your goals and then after a few hours you start thinking about what you could've done differently. Ok, maybe YOU don't do that but I definitely do! I suspect there are more of you like me out there though.

So that's it. I just wanted to clear my head of these last few thoughts so I could make room for all the visualizing I need to start doing for OilMan. I am really, really excited for this race and I'm going into it with the same sense of calmness I went into it last year. I so enjoy this distance and I really like this course. So many people had told me this wasn't a good race but I totally disagree. Sure, it lacks many of the bells & whistles you get at other events but is that why we really do these races?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scoreboard Jenny!!!! 1 for 3 in Galveston!!!!

I'm obviously over the moon to let you all know I have finally completed a race in Galveston! Now that the race is done & over, I can share with you just how freaked I was the days leading up to the race. Mentally, I couldn't let myself acknowledge all the fears & doubts in my head. When someone would ask me about Galveston I would make a joke and say I wasn't nervous. That couldn't be further from the truth.

For days leading up to the 5i50, I was dreaming about the racing. One thing after another would happen and in each scenario, I didn't finish. I knew 100% that this was mental and these dreams were a direct result of my waking thoughts. I just ignored them and didn't tell anyone about these so called dreams. Nobody needed to know anyway. This would be my little secret.

The week before the race we decided that Keith wouldn't join me the night before because we knew the dogs probably wouldn't do well in the hotel (a little nugget of info we learned the night before Try Andy's Tri). While I knew it was the right decision, Keith is the leader of my support crew and to not have him there the night before to keep me sane was not going to be good. I didn't want to be down there alone so thankfully, my sister Annie agreed to join me. Whew, crisis averted.

Annie & I got to Galveston a little behind schedule on Saturday but had more than enough time to get my packet and check my bike. Keith & I had made a trip to Home Depot to make sure I had zip ties in the event this race had open racking. I learned my lesson after the Houston Oly and was prepared to zip tie my bike as well as any other bike to the rack to make sure there was no funny business taking place. :) After that, Annie & I headed to the hotel to lay by the pool. I really enjoyed getting to soak in a few rays. I did have to jump in the pool to test the goggles I had purchased just that morning from Swim Shops of the Southwest. My trusty BlueSeventy's had been leaking constantly on my last swim and I couldn't take the chance of that happening in Galveston. Let me tell you, the TYR goggles I bought are the bomb diggity and I plan on going back to purchase another pair or 10. ;)

Race morning started at 5am or so. Annie headed w/ me to the race site and sat tight while I put the fluids on my bike and got my area ready. While I thought I was extremely calm, I really wasn't. I stood there and walked through everything over & over in my head. I checked then double checked and then triple checked my gear. I wasn't very talkative in transition or even right before the race b/c my head was just going ninety to nothing thinking about the day. The good news was that I wasn't thinking about all that could go wrong, I was visualizing each segment of the race. For those of you I didn't say much to that morning, I'm sure you understand and hope you weren't offended! Not that anyone would really care. :)

I was in and out of transition in about 30 minutes and made my way to the swim start to get my chip and then just sit and wait until my wave at 8:05am. A survey of the bay made me very happy as I could see we were going to have a relatively calm swim. Those of you who have raced Galveston before know it can be a real B. Water temp was 70 so that meant we were definitely ok to where wetsuits. Let the fun begin!!!!

Before I knew it, I was jumping in the water and swimming towards the start line. I was not in the visiting mood. Just focus on what's ahead of you and finish this race. The horn sounded and we were on our way. My instructions from Ana were very simple for the swim: easy speed. I was to focus on finishing my stroke and finding a steady pace. I have to tell you, this swim was the easiest I've ever done. And when I say easiest I mean I put forth the least effort I ever have in a race and my time wasn't too shabby (for me). I had no leg cramping, didn't take in any water and didn't get sea sick. On top of that, my body wasn't fatigued at all. I made the turn at the final yellow buoy and headed to the swim exit. I kept repeating in my head, "pull, pull, pull". I felt like I was gliding through the water and started to pull away from ladies I had been next to the whole time. What's even more awesome was that I wasn't breathing hard and I felt like I was literally gliding through the water. I think this might have been a breakthrough swim for me. I was so excited!!! I was even more excited as I passed people in orange, yellow & red caps....all folks who got in the water before me. Woo hoo! This swim was 5 minutes faster than at the Houston Oly last month. While I did have the benefit of the wetsuit, I can tell you that far less effort went into this swim! Goal 1 has been achieved.

Heading out on the bike, I knew not to expect a fast time. Galveston is always windy. Always. My instructions for the bike were to keep my cadence above 90 the whole time. If that meant an easier gear, then get in the easier gear. There's not much to say about the bike. I feel like I should've been faster and had to keep reminding myself to race my race and not worry about who was or wasn't passing me. It didn't matter. My goals for the day are different than theirs and I need to not get caught up in anything else. I focused on my cadence and went about the day. I finished the bike at a 16mph pace and was pleased. My cadence was in check the whole ride and that meant Goal 2 was now achieved. I only have one more demon to conquer.

Heading out of T2 on the run, I felt as expected. I definitely had some nerves I needed to deal with. I rounded the corner and there was Keith & Annie telling me to get my butt moving. Little did they know what was going on. As I approached the next turn, I started to hyperventilate. I was getting close to the spot where I passed out in 2010 and I was really nervous. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe and I felt really funny. I stopped to calm myself and was doing all sorts of weird things with my arms. "This is mental Jenny. You aren't going to pass out. Just catch your breath and go." I repeated this to myself about 5 more times. I made the turn, saw the ambulance and kept going. I had now officially gone further than any other race in Galveston. I did start to settle after that but noticed my HR was higher than it normally was at that slow of a pace. I'm no expert but I felt that was largely attributed to all the crap in my head. I was slow the first loop, no doubt about it. As I started the 2nd loop, I glanced at my watch and started to crunch numbers. Umm, I'm going to have a PR today if I keep this up. I hate to even call what I was doing a PR worthy performance but hey, just b/c I started my Oly career slow doesn't mean I'm not entitled to celebrate a PR. When I hit the 4 mile marker, I picked up my speed and started to feel a little uncomfortable. Then I hit the 5 mile marker and told myself to get my butt MOVING. My pace was getting faster, I was feeling a little yucky and knew I was doing the right thing. I hit the 6 mile mark and heard Eminem playing at the finish line. Hell yeah! Run, run, run! I ran as hard as I could the last .2 miles and crossed the finish line with a time of 3:37:51....a PR. My run time was 7 minutes faster than it was last month at the Houston Oly and 5 minutes faster than my first Oly. While I wasn't lightening fast by any means, I made a big improvement in a very short time. The sound you hear is Goal 3 being achieved. :)

As I approached the finish line, a ton of my former teammates were cheering for me as I think each of them knew this was a big deal for me. There were some ORR folks cheering me in as well and then I got to give a high 5 to my friend Shellie who was at the finish. Beyond the finish line was Keith & Annie taking pics. I was near tears. I finally got the Galveston monkey off my back and it felt really, really good. Scott Mayer was so sweet to come up to me at the finish and congratulate me. It really made me sooooo happy.

I texted my coach as soon as I got my hands on my phone and let her know I finished & I PR'd. She was so happy for me and had awesome words of encouragement. The two biggest compliments I got yesterday were hearing her tell me what a hard worker I am and Keith telling me my jeans were getting baggy on me. What girl doesn't love hearing that?

Now that I've finished one in Galveston, I'm not inclined to go back to race there any time soon...if ever. I know how I am though and have a feeling that I'll want to go back at some point in the future and get another PR there....but next time, a big one.

Next up? OilMan Half Ironman is less than 2 weeks away. OilMan is my last tri of the season and I'm really looking forward to getting out there. Ana & I chatted today about my goals and after a lengthy conversation, we agreed we were indeed on the same page. I owe my coach a big bottle of wine after OilMan. While I am a very hard worker, I'm equally as stubborn.

I am SO happy to be able to tell you guys I finally conquered my Galveston demons!!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ready ready ready ready ready to run!

I kind of have my work cut out for me come Sunday. As you know, it's yet another race week for me. And this one is in Galveston. I'm trying to refrain from saying anything more than that out of a fear of jinxing myself. While I'm not typically superstitious, I do find myself knocking on wood quite a bit, avoiding black cats and never walking under ladders. That's just common sense though. I'm not going to recap what has happened to me in Galveston as I did that a few weeks ago. All I will say is that from a racing perspective, I'm 0-2. Lot's of really good teams start the season 0-2 and then go on to do great things. Of course, there are a lot of teams that don't. But that isn't why I'm here today! Wait, where am I? Why am I here? Getting old sucks.

Before I forget, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my coach, Ana Lemus! I have really enjoyed getting to know Ana...she cracks me up! I need to start keeping track of the funny things she says both intentionally and possibly unintentionally. That will be my post-OilMan project. Anyway, she's awesome!

Back to the purpose of the post. Yes, I finally remember. Wait, I'm distracted again b/c now the dogs are sitting below me in a position you don't normally see two female dogs in. I'll just leave it at that. Ok, back to the post. Can you sad A.D.D.? So what's the big plan for the race? Well, I of COURSE have one! Since I'm missing a big weekend of training to go learn how to race, I'm going to have no choice but to push the run and make it hurt. I wish I recorded my conversation with Ana yesterday morning & this morning. Awesome. I have other things to focus on too but that's the big one. So at risk of jinxing myself, I will say no more about my race strategy.

Keith has been cracking me up with his Galveston messages as well. I'll spare you the contents of the first email I received today mainly b/c I would have to censor far too much and it really would lose it's meaning. The 2nd email was good too though.
"P.S. I really need you to kick ass, so I never have to go there again." - Keith

I especially loved how in one message, Keith referred to Galveston as a "shit swamp" and wasn't surprised at all to learn there were only 434 folks signed up for the Oly, a low number by most standards. I love my blog readers and so I want to say that if any of you are from G-Town or love the redneck riviera with all your heart, we do not mean to insult. In fact, I typically enjoy Galveston and only hate it when I have to do the drive of shame and head back to The Woods with no finisher's medal.....the main reason I race. :)

As promised in my Sunday post, the puppies are not making this trip. While I really hate the idea of not having them with me to cuddle, it's far more important I get some sleep that night and just relax and prepare for the race. Rumor has it Annie (my 2nd youngest sister) will join me. I'm not sure if she really will. Being that she's 24 and quickly approaching 25, I'm not sure she finds hanging out in a hotel room in Galveston with no alcohol as fun. I'm not sure what's wrong with her. Love you Annie and I hope you do come be my roomie!

One last thing. I'm always giving 24HR Fitness crap for having pools that make one itch. Let me tell you that I've been frequenting the Midtown club regularly now and that pool didn't make me itch and didn't smell like ben gay. The water was somewhat cloudy which I assume was a result of chemicals. My only complaint is that the pool deck area felt like a sauna. I think I heard someone saying the A/C was out and that was fine by me as that day was kind of cold. The pool water was a perfect temp and so I didn't notice the muggy deck. I plan my day strategically so that I can take my lunch early or late and hit the gym at non-peak times. My strategy has been working perfectly and this has really helped me get all my "to do's" done.

Ok, now I'm done. It's Wednesday so there's a high likelihood I will be back before Sunday but I can't commit to that. :) Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Try Andy's Tri Race Report

I am soooo excited to be writing this race report. As you all know, today was Keith's first venture into the world of triathlon as an athlete vs spectator. Keith took up cycling a couple months after IMTX and decided he wouldn't mind signing up as part of a relay team. Always up for something fun, I was game as was my brother Luke. Keith has been riding since July & we've been looking forward to today for months.

Pre Pre Race
We researched the results from TAT from 2010 and noticed there were only 3 coed relay teams. Based on that, we set the goal of placing top 3 but preferably, #1. As we reviewed the times, we felt it was doable. Instructions to my teammates were simple: race so hard you vomit.

Pre Race
Keith & I got down to the land of Sugar mid-day Saturday and picked up our packets then checked into the hotel. Sophie & Leia were with us as we decided for such a short trip, we wouldn't need a dog sitter. Mistake #1 which I'll get to later. Keith laid down for a nap (shocker) and I went to the gym to swim for a bit. Between the car accident 1.5 weeks ago and taking a spill off a very high barstool, Thursday night, my back has been kind of a mess. Well, my back was better before Thursday but then once I literally busted my A$$, my tailbone was in bad shape. I'll be honest with you, I wonder if I chipped a bone. I'm still in pain but have been working out. Anyway, I went to the pool just to make sure everything felt good. Aside from pushing off the wall, I was great!

We went to dinner with my awesome family at Cafe Adobe and enjoyed fajitas and lots of water. I was watching Luke like a hawk as I knew he'd want beer and I needed him to be 100% in the morning. I had high hopes for him come race morning and had no problem bossing him around. We talked strategy for a few minutes. We came up with out plan to get in & out of transition and then talked about the goals each of us had. I would be the swimmer (aka weak link) and had a goal to PR my swim time. The last time I did TAT, I swam in 7:14 which was a MAJOR improvement from the time before. Keith's goal was to average 20mph on the bike. Luke is a great runner and wanted to do the run in 20min or less. I need to add here that Luke works for Ozarka and engages in serious physical labor DAILY. This kid is working out constantly when at work and his job is really taking a toll on his knees. We wanted to be in & out of transition in 1min for both. Overall, we wanted to come in under an hour and thought 58:00 or 59:00 was doable.

Keith & I returned to the hotel and turned in around 9:30pm. Much to our dismay, the dogs did not care for the hotel and as guests returned from their evening out, Sophie would bark like crazy. And of course, when Sophie barks, Leia barks.
They served as alarm clocks at 10:30pm, 11:30pm, 12:35am, 1:30am and 3:30am. Seriously.

Race Morning
I woke up at 5am, 15min before the alarm and decided to just get up. Of course Sophie & Leia were exhausted from their evening of barking. We had prepped everything the night before so getting dressed and loading the car was a breeze. Keith and I put Leia in her crate and gave Sophie some food. As we headed down
the stairs, we could hear Sophie "crying" and then barking. We immediately knew she could do this the whole time we were gone and didn't think it would be wise to leave her. I had horrible visions of hotel management getting so many complaints that they would force entry to our room and steal our little bundle of joy. Ok, not steal but take her and put her in a nasty cage somewhere. This couldn't happen so we took her. The plan was easy. Keith would go into transition and set up his bike and then I would go in to scope out the distance from swim exit to the bike and all that good stuff. After getting body marked, I figured I would just try to go into transition and see what happened. Much to my surprise, they let me in. Heck, they even tried to body mark Miss Sophie. This is one reason I love these smaller races. Crazy stuff like this works. Thanks volunteers for letting us bring in our dog who has massive separation anxiety. Sophie appreciates your kindness.

I could probably make this really long so why don't we just get to it!

Once again, I found myself in the last wave. Women 45+ and all relay teams. We had a hodge podge of ages, body types and fitness levels in this group. The first wave went off at 7:15am and I was set to go at 8:15am. JOY! For some reason, there were
10min between waves this year which IMO was not needed. Anyway, I got in the water w/ teammate Lynn Flora at 8:10am and we treaded water for the 5 minutes until we started.

I put myself in the front b/c I knew I wanted to push this race. Given I've had my share of disappointments lately, I just didn't think about what would happen other than telling myself I would swim as hard as I could, do my best and see what happened. Ana has told me if I do that, the times will come. The countdown was on and off I went. I swam hard but felt great. I did feel myself start to slow a bit just before hitting the final buoys and told myself to GO GO GO. I got to the point where I thought I could stand and grab a volunteer's hand to help me out but I was wrong. Ooops! Swim a few more strokes and then try again.

I was out of the water and heading down the muddy path to transition. I slipped in one spot as it was SUPER slick but didn't fall. Yay! Once I hit the pavement, I ran as hard as I could.

Swim time: 7:00.3 for a swim PR!!!!!!!!!!!!

While our goal was to be at 1min for T1, we didn't take into account where our bikes would be racked. We were in the last row so I was going to have a further run than planned. I got to the rack, took my chip off and yelled at Keith to go!

T1: 1:55.8 which was good for 6th in our division. Hot diggity dog!

I wasn't on the bike course so I can't give you a play by play but I can tell you that Keith tore it up. His plan was to go balls to the wall and leave it all on the course. He was passed only twice once on the course and made up some great time. As he turned the corner to head into T2, he looked so strong and SO dang happy. Stupid me went technology free and so had NO idea where we were at this point. I knew he had come back before a bunch of folks who got on the bike course before him but as for time, who knew?

Bike time: 28:02.9 which was 21.4mph AND 4th in the division. O M G. My man did AWESOME. Beyond awesome. I am thrilled for him!

Bike in was right next to our rack so we knew we'd be quick. Keith racked the bike and Luke bent down immediately to take the chip. Luke had it on his leg in nothing flat and was literally off in a flash.

T2 time: 0:38.9 which was good for 1st in our division. Yes, my boys ROCKED T2. I take partial responsibility of course b/c I coached them. :)

At this point, we knew we were close to at least one co-ed relay team but honestly, had no idea how many co-ed teams there were. Like I said before, last year there were 3 so I figured there were about the same this year. Luke took off out of T2 like a man on a mission. I got down to the spot where runners started their 2nd loop or headed to the finish. I figured I had taken too long to see Luke start his 2nd loop. I cheered for people while I waited and got to see Lynn's daughter Olivia half way through her run (looking strong)! I squinted my eyes and could see Luke a ways down. I started yelling like a soccer mom on crack. In my mind, Luke picked up his speed at that moment and literally rocketed towards the finish line. Everyone who saw him said he was moving F A S T. He was smiling too!

Run time: 20:09.5 which works out to a 6:43/mile pace. This kid is amazing! The official results say he was 4th in the division but as you further inspect the results, it's clear there were two team who did not run two loops. How do I know this? Well, at the pace of 3:40/mile and 4:24/mile, I can put two & two together. Usain Bolt was not at TAT this weekend which was a further clue to me that we had a couple cheaters on our hands. Either way, neither of those teams placed above us overall so what do I care? As far as I'm concerned, Luke's time is good for 2nd in our division.

Overall Time: 57:47.5 good for 3rd in our division. The even better news? There were 15 teams this year!!!!!!

All I can tell you right now is that I am absolutely beaming with pride. We achieved every goal we had. When I saw the results and saw I was 7min even, I was so happy. My next thought? Damn, I could've gone 6:50 if I tried. :) Next time. Keith was a complete beast on the bike. This is a guy who a few months ago was 17lbs heavier and not really exercising. Keith's also a smoker which I'm not happy about but I wanted to point out. For him to get 4th in our division is a HUGE accomplishment. I am SO proud of him. And then of course, there's Luke. What can I say? I love watching him run. I wish I had just a fraction of his natural ability. I mean, we're siblings so I have to have it somewhere right? I told Keith after the race that I had been telling Luke all week to run sub-20 never realizing that 20minutes was a 6:43 pace. I wouldn't have pressured him so much had I realized that! I am so impressed with my brother and just know that if he ever decided to make time to train, he would absolutely kill it!

So there you have it! The race today was a huge success. I'm also thrilled for Team Generation for placing 7th (but really 6th) in the division. Lynn had a 5:07.4 swim good for 4th in the division. Bill, who is marriedto future Ironman Chris, averaged 18.5mph on the bike. Ok, this is a huge deal as Bill is not really into the whole triathlon thing but is married to someone who is (and has two daughters who are). Seeing Bill's big smile as he came in off the bike made me so happy! I know his family is SO proud of him. And of course, there is Olivia who ran to a fantastic 9th place in her division. She rocked her run in 27:38.6. I'm so happy for you guys and so glad we could be out there for each other!

So there you have it...another week has come to an end and another race is in the books. I will be racing in 7 days (Galveston). I'll be back w/ another post before then. Happy Sunday evening!