Friday, December 18, 2009

The Plan for 2010

I met with Coach Pain last week to discuss the plans for 2010. She spent an hour with me, talking about goals, and not laughing out loud when I told her I'd signed up for Arizona. That in itself is amazing, because I can't always stop myself from laughing. It's one thing when you have a goal, it's another thing when you can actually verbalize to a coach and they say, yes, we can help you reach your goal. Wow.

So, she looked at my race times from this year, which were surprisingly the same, regardless of the distance. Of course, mostly sprints at the beginning of the summer, and with training, able to keep the speed as the distances increased. And she said that my swim times were good, and so were my run times- if I can keep those paces during the Ironman, I'll be in good shape to finish on time. The problem is the bike. So to improve my cycling, she listed a number of things- two indoor spins and one long bike per week. During the spins, focus on pushing a higher heartrate- wear the HRM! During hill portions of spins, focus on hitting the right cadence in the big ring as this will be more like a strength workout. And when there are intervals, take as short a break as you need to catch your breath and get a drink, and then get back into aero. The quicker you can recover, the better, and this will help improve your form outdoors. And when you are outdoors on the long rides, especially during the winter and spring when the distances are shorter, push harder for 50% of the ride. During the winter and spring, the focus will be on increasing speed and strength, so that come June, I will have that fast base, and can focus on endurance and distance for IM training.

Of course, I bitched a little about spin, how I have a hard time maintaining focus and not getting bored and I asked if I could ride outside inside. Surprisingly she said no, practice mental focus is a skill, and you can go harder inside because you don't have to worry about pushing it, bonking, and getting stuck miles from home. Good point.

For the running part, twice during the week and one long run on the weekend. And here she said another surprising thing. I'd always heard that a 5:1 or 8:2 interval run/walk is good. To walk early and often. She said that if you walk 1 minute for every mile, that 26 minutes of walking in the marathon and that may be close to the cutoff for me. Now, walking is okay when you need to do it, but if you don't need to, then don't. And a shuffle will always be faster than a walk in the marathon of an IM. Which is perfect, because I don't know how to run that isn't a shuffle! I will still plan to walk the water stops, just because it's silly to spill drinks on myself when I don't have to.

Swimming, twice weekly, one pool, one open water swim (OWS), starting now. The pool should be for speed, the OWS should be 1600-3000m, and that the workout progression will be posted on the website to follow.

Core, continue 3 times weekly, add in a yoga if you can.

So, she started putting a weekly calendar together for me and ran into the same problems I had, with having mornings, Tuesdays, Fridays, and weekends available. So she made up a two week rotation, how smart is that! It will bump up my weekly hours from 8 to 10-12, depending on how long the weekend stuff goes. And to pencil it all in, and track what gets missed, and make adjustments from there. Because that's another thing to get set now so you don't have to fiddle with it come June.

And speaking of June, the race calendar will be
Now- January- practice the schedule, winter training

Jan- Half training starts

April- Lonestar Half

May- OFF

June- IM training starts

July, Aug, Sept- maybe a sprint, Austin Tri for sure because it's on a Monday and doesn't conflict with weekend training

Oct- Redman Half as a tune up, or Longhorn Aquabike

Nov- IMAZ!

So that's the plan. It seems so easy on paper, now it's just a matter of putting it into practice. I've already had some trouble with the new schedule, mainly due to the fact that it's December and there are all sorts of Christmas parties and obligations. And then I got sick. But hopefully, I will back to full strength next week, just in time to take off for Christmas. I am planning to get a couple of workouts in over the break, hopefully limit the damage all the goodies are doing!

Monday, December 14, 2009


It's been over a year since I've been sick with a cold or the flu and I've attributed it to living well- regular training, followed by regular recovery, good nutrition, etc. It couldn't last forever though and now I'm down with a bad cold. But much much better than when I was smoking and would get a cold that turned into bronchitis every quarter. Yet another reason triathlon has improved my life! Back with more once I get better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 10

Things to learn and remember:

1. The finish line in the dark is burned into my brain. I can elicit the goosebumps and watery eyes just picturing it. I want to get there.

2. When I get there, I want to savor it. Slap the hands of the spectators, raise my arms and wave, and smile and cry at the same time! There is no need to sprint it in, unless of course, it is 16:59!

3. Swim: long sleeve wet suit, neoprene cap, and ear plugs. It's fucking cold! And wait as long as possible to get in- stay on the edge of the concrete until you have to actually swim.

4. Use the volunteers- let them help you up the stairs, wet suit stripping, in the change tents.

5. Disposable sock arm warmers and/or jacket. It's really cold coming out of the water, but it will get hot as soon as the sun comes up. And change completely out of anything wet.

6. Practice 3 loops on the bike and run. Lap 1- yay, I'm done with the swim and on the bike, lap 2- yay I'm almost half way done and I know the course now, lap 3- yay, I'm almost done with the bike and I'll be glad to start running!

7. Change completely again. Use spray sunscreen- their lotion doesn't get rubbed in all the way and looks really thick and gross.

8. Run- practice longer walk breaks. Practice running in the dark. Head lamp and long sleeve in special needs bag. Reflective stickers on shirt.

9. Have sherpa pick up your bike- they have a release paper they can sign. Have sherpa bring you a fleece jacket for immediately after- it gets cold once you stop moving. And keep moving. Stop and you fall down.

10. Hug everyone in sight, Mike Reilly if you can. Otherwise, the finish line volunteers, friends, family, photographers, sherpas. Cry and blubber if you need to. Get the finish line stuff and hand off immediately to sherpa.

11. There are cabs 50 ft from the finish line. And the athlete food tent shuts down before midnight- have sherpa bring hot food to you at the finish.

12. Find someone willing to be sherpa.

13. Thank all the volunteers you see- they may be future Ironman triathletes and are so stoked talking to the athletes actually out there right now. Thank your family and friends for supporting you. Hug everyone and tell them you love them.

14. 11/21/10, 11:30 pm...

Monday, December 7, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 9

Onsite sign up for IMAZ 2010 was scheduled for 7-9am. I arrived at 6:30 am, and the line was at least 100 people long. The most interesting thing was there were separate lines for volunteers and non volunteers, and all the volunteers were signed up first. So even though there were 100 people or so in line in front of me, it was moving quickly and I was able to sign up at about 7:30. When I left, the non volunteers that had lined up first, maybe an hour before I got there, still hadn't been allowed in, and the volunteer line had filled up with probably another 200 people.

And really, there are so many easy volunteer jobs, there is no reason not to do it. They were checking for wrist bands and T shirts, so you couldn't just say you had volunteered. And volunteering was a really fun thing.

The actual registration process was easy. They typed in your name off your driver's license and swiped your credit card for $577.50. And gave you a confirmation code to use to finish the registration online about two weeks later, which I've already done now. After all the on site registrations, they opened the online registration though, and it sold out in 25 minutes. So from 7 am to about 11:25 am, the event producers made about $1.2 million dollars. Wow. And the race isn't for another 12 months. And that's not counting all the sponsorships- Ford, Avia, Tmobile, Gatorade, etc. And the merchandise. They had Ironman branded dog biscuits, and mouse pads, and cooking aprons. Really. So it is a big business, and apparently not affected by the recession at all.

So, the purpose of the weekend was done. It is official. I'm in for IMAZ 2010! Let the training begin, because I have a lot of work to do!

And the last section, things to learn and remember...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 8

I felt much better after my three hour nap. I did worry that next year I won't get that luxury, but I appreciated it this year. I drove down to the site, and was able to park in the nice Airline parking lot right behind the finish line. I met up with T3ers and we watched the last of our people finishing. They had staked out a good spot in the finish chute, and it was cool to watch. Athletes came across the line as Mike Reilly said "So and so, you are an Ironman" and then a catcher volunteer picked them up and escorted them down the line to pick up their medal, finisher T shirt and hat, wrap them in a foil blanket, and then hand them off to their family or friends. It was a really good setup. They had medical volunteers there too to move people to the medical tent if needed.

There was a complete range of emotion in the finishers. Most were ecstatic about finishing- smiling and hugging everyone. Some were crying. Some just thrilled to be done with it. Others were more workman like about it, or maybe they were not as happy about their finish time. A couple of people had trouble right after finishing strong- either cramping, or needing to sit, or feeling dizzy. But the heroic feeling about it was back, and so were the tears.

After the last of the T3ers finished, everyone who had been up since 4 am with me without naps were done and headed back to their hotels. I was ready to complete the night at midnight with the last finishers. My people. I needed to see them finish. I got a sandwich for dinner- being a college town, there were quite a few places still open. I cheered the finishers in the stands for a little while, and then walked up the last half mile with my cowbell and plastic IM branded clapper. These are really useful, because your hands get tired, and you lose your voice if you keep yelling. But the cowbell and clapper make a lot of noise with minimal effort.

And it was so amazing, that most of the athletes finishing at the 10pm and after time frame are just as excited for you to be cheering them as you are to be cheering. I got a lot of thank yous and comments when I walked out to a quieter section about a half mile from the finish. At that point, they know they will finish and finish in time. But the same heroic feeling is still there, maybe even more so in the dark, quiet sections.

I didn't come home with the right picture, the one I have in my mind of the turn into the finish chute. And maybe that's for the best. The one I have in my head is much more vivid than a photograph. And as it got closer to midnight, the crowd at the finish line surged and got louder. The signs for sponsors lining the gates make a loud noise when the spectators bang on them, plus the music, and Mike Reilly working the crowd. It was electric. And the finishers were coming across individually, rather than in packs like it was for the 12-14 hour finishers. So each athlete got their own spotlight coming down.

Some were so focused on the finish line, they did not stop to acknowledge the spectators. The ones that slowed, raised their arms, pumped their fists, and slapped hands got a much bigger reaction. And really, if it's not yet midnight, time doesn't matter. It's much better to stop and savor the moment. And I was crying with each one of them as they were coming down the finish chute.

I was in particular looking for the larger women, thinking "that could be me next year." And there were more than a couple slightly overweight women that were making it to the finish line of an Ironman. Some older men, one of whom Mike Reilly said: "here's a leaner coming down the line, let's cheer the leaner on home!" And then some ideal weight people too. At this point, you have to be a slow plodder like I will be, or have had a medical or mechanical issue to be finishing at 11:30. But they were finishing. The tears were just a constant thing at this point. But it was so overwhelming and amazing, I couldn't turn away.

One really cool thing was that Jordan Rapp, the men's winner, and Samantha McGlone, the women's winner, both came back at about 11:30 to hand out medals to the last finishers. I'm sure they showered and napped and ate first, but for them to come down and cheer on the last athletes is really cool.

As the time clicked down, the crowd got more urgent. They had 2399 finishers, out of about 2450 starters, which is the most in Ironman history. The perfect weather and flat course probably really helped with them. One woman came down the finish chute with about 5 minutes to go and slowed to a walk at the first timing mat that flashes your name on the computer for Mike Reilly's assistant to read out. Mike Reilly himself was down in the finish chute jazzing up the crowd. So when she stopped before the real finish line, the whole crowd jumped up and said "no, keep going" and really scared her. But she jumped and started running again and finished.

The last finisher, number 2399 for the day, came across with about 3 minutes to spare, and that was it. We all counted down the last 10 seconds, waiting to see if there was anyone else coming, but I think the handlers and volunteers keep pretty close tabs on the last finishers to get them across in time, or they are way far back. I heard of at least one woman that finished at 17:30, but I had already left. By 12:05 pm, most of the crowd was out of the stands, and the event staff were already started the tear down process.

In a word, spectacular. I want it to stay fresh in my mind, and I am excited to get back there next year as a finisher.

Next up: sign up day...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 7

Spectating is harder than it looks! After watching the athletes go off on the swim, we walked down from the bridge to the water. Already there were swimmers struggling, and it was the start of many tears for me. It just hit me so hard, watching them swim, then having to stop and rest already. There are many, many hours to go. And I do understand there are a ton of triathletes that have a really hard time with the swim. Growing up a swimmer and spending a lot of time in the water, both in the pool, and later in rivers as a whitewater kayaker, I'm really comfortable. But I do understand the panic and anxiety some triathletes have to fight through. And it was just so heroic- that's the best word I've come up with to describe how Ironman athletes are. And having such close access- they are not even 5 feet away, so you can make eye contact and they can hear you cheering. It was very emotional. I was glad when our group decided to head back to the swim exit to see if we could get close to watch the T3ers get out of the water.

Our volunteer T shirts got us access everywhere, which was super cool. We waited around and watched the pros come up, then the melee began. A ton of athletes were getting out about the hour, 1.5 hour mark. Wetsuit strippers were in action- if you look at the left side of the picture, you can see the force with which the strippers pull off the wetsuits. And the chaos. The medical volunteers were around with blankets to escort hypothermic swimmers into the medical tent to warm up with heaters and warm broth. There were a lot more cold people than they first expected, and one of the head volunteers sent a couple of us to the transition changing tents to retrieve blankets. They didn't have enough cloth blankets and started using the foil reflective blankets, which were on a big roll in the changing tents. That was one of the few areas where it seems the organizers didn't plan as well.

After watching the T3ers get out, we were hungry and went to Tavern on Mill which is a bar that was doing some brisk breakfast business. We had the fair to middling buffet and afterwards we wandered around a little, and then headed over to the VIP tent. One of the Austin triathletes was a member of the Ironman Executive Challenge, which I never did figure out exactly what that meant. He did get passes to the VIP tent so he gave them to Chris and Kevin, who along with Natalie who was volunteering there, were able to get all five of us in. They had some nice Ikea couches with blankets, which we promptly took over and I had a nice little snooze. Spectating is hard work I tell you!

After the break, we headed over to the "hot corner" to watch the cyclists. The hot corner is where the bike course turnaround is, plus a turn on the run course. So if you want to camp out in one place all you, you can see most of the action. People were geared up for this, almost like a tailgate party for the most prepared. We pulled out of cowbells and yelled at everyone passing by for about a while, catching most of the T3ers as they finished their first loop. It had really warmed up, and once we ran out of water, we tried to get back into the VIP tent, but it was a no go. Only Chris and Kevin with their special VIP badges could get in. The rest of us went to hang out in the volunteer food tent, which was still pretty nice, with free pizza and sodas for the volunteers. And wearing out volunteer T shirts still got us in, even though our shifts had been over for hours.

We relaxed a bit, hanging out, and chatting, then wandered around a bit more. The transition area was hopping again, and the process for taking the bikes in was pretty cool to watch. The top of the line grabbed the bikes from the athletes and passed them off to other volunteers who read the race number and put the bikes back on their designated racks. They were all wearing gloves, which I initially thought was for all the bodily fluids that might be on the bike seat. I later learned it was more for the sticky factor, that race nutrition would spill all over the bikes and your hands would get sticky and gross very quickly.

We met up with the rest of the T3 spectators under the tram bridge to cheer on the runners. Catharine is the ultimate cheerleader, as she is tireless, has a loud voice, and cheers them on by name. The names are on their race bibs, but it's hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm, especially for random people. When T3ers came by, they were treated like rock stars, and hopefully that picked them up a little on the long run.

I was losing steam at this point, but the pros were about to finish, so I went to the finish line. It is a cool set up, with stadium seats on wheels brought in, and a big screen with live video of the racers on the course. We saw Jordan Rapp running the last mile and then coming down the chute to finish about 5 minutes ahead of second place. He had already won IM Canada and only entered IMAZ for fun and because he was still in great shape. And he wins it! He was really nice with the crowd, coming back for a victory lap and to slap hands with the spectators. The next guys came in, with Austin local Richie Cunningham coming in 4th. He won Longhorn about a month ago. After that, I was tired, so I rode Jamis back to the hotel for a shower and a nap.

Tomorrow, the end of Race Day: the finish line...

Friday, December 4, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 6

I didn't sleep well, afraid I would sleep through my alarm, miss the race, and not be able to sign up for next year. Wow, the race day worries start before I've even signed up! The alarm went off at 4 am, and I was out the door by 4:15 on Jamis. I met up with the other T3 bodymarkers right when I got to the race site, and we wandered around a bit before finding where we were supposed to be. The head volunteer had apparently never bodymarked anyone, or done a triathlon, as she was giving out bad instructions. But we got it figured out and picked up our enormous sharpies and waited for transition to open at 5am.

The main problem was it was cold, probably about 50 degrees. I was pretty comfortable, but the athletes had to take off their warm jackets and pants so that we could write on them. The race numbers went on both biceps, and their age (or a P for professional) went on their left calf. They were all goosebumped and shivering, but I wrote quickly. I think it's really important to have good handwriting when you are a bodymarker, but it is really hard to write, especially when guys have large triceps and it's not an even surface. I told a couple of them that. I also wanted to write my phone number on a couple of them, but I figured they would be a little too busy to call. I also tried to be encouraging, asking if they were pros to most of the guys, and chatting about if this was their first race or where they were from. A lot of first timers out there, and a lot of nervous people. I did mark two pros, one a German woman who was racing her first Ironman and really nervous, and one a French man- Rene Goehler, and he wound up finishing in 8th place.

I did get a picture with Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman. He was up there at 5:30 doing the race morning announcing- what the time was, where stuff was, did anyone have an extra pair of goggles or running shorts. Really, someone had forgotten to pack their running shorts. Another athlete had an extra pair, but imagine running a marathon in borrowed shorts! He's pretty amazing, as he is there announcing the finishers at midnight too. He must take a nap from 7 am to 3 pm when the pros finish. And he does have an assistant, but still, he's pretty amazing. He doesn't know it yet, but we have a date for November 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm.

About 6:45, we finished up with the bodymarking and moved to the bridge over the swim start to watch them go off. There are two bridges, one for northbound traffic, the other for southbound, though there were so many people, cars were not able to move. There was a helicopter, and then the cannon went off for the pros. 10 minutes later, the cannon went off again for the main field, right as the sun was rising. It was amazing.

The next part of the day: spectating...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 5

After the race preview, I went back to the hotel for a shower and a nap. This Ironman spectating is hard work, and I needed to pace myself. And it wasn't even race day. Once refreshed, I headed out on Jamis the 3 miles from the hotel to the race site. I found a nice back road with bike lanes that added about a 1/2 mile to the trip, but was well worth it to stay off the big roads. Tempe is a college town, home to the Arizona State University Sun Devils.

Tempe is a college town, home to the Arizona State University Sun Devils. Tempe is a suburb of Phoenix though, so the college town vibe was mostly swallowed up by the suburban feeling. Because it was the week before Thanksgiving maybe, there really didn't seem to be a lot of students around. Maybe they'd already left on vacation? There were some benefits to Tempe- lots of bike lanes, which was especially nice considering there were 2500 triathletes, most of whom seemed to be trying to ride part of the bike course before race day. There was also a cool tram, though I ran out of time and didn't get to ride it. I love these things!

The campus area of Tempe is cute, lots of little shops, restaurants, and bars, all within walking distance of the race site. Had lunch at a cute little Greek place. And dinner was at P.F. Chang's, which was fine. They were able to sit all 16 of us with a reservation and the food was okay. Good times though, and all the athletes that came out were relaxed and excited for the next day, some even having a glass of wine! But we did have dinner at 5pm, so it was still a pre-race dinner!

One problem: I was having a hard time trying to wrap my head around living in the desert. I read a very good book years ago called Cadillac Desert, about the perils of living in the desert, far away from water, and all the problems getting water to the people living there. The dam building, and water rights fights, and the native desert being overrun by golf courses. And it's true, Phoenix is home to 200 golf courses! That's just a ridiculous waste of water in an arid environment. And I think the part that makes me the most angry was the amount of new development, high rises, and office buildings. A huge number of companies are moving to Phoenix from other states. It's one thing to try to make a living and adapt to the desert. This is completely different by purposely relocating hundreds of thousands of people to a place that is going to run out of water.

And it's not like I can't understand the beauty of the desert. Georgia O'Keeffe's pictures, and the beauty of the desolation. But the desert is supposed to be deserted! These people and these skyscrapers are not supposed to be here! Anyway, enough of that rant. I can't change it, might as well appreciate the good parts.

I rode back to the hotel on Jamis in the dark, though with my helmet, headlamp, and two blinkie lights, so yes, I was being safe, Mom (and PS, Happy Birthday!). I had a fitful night of sleep, and I wasn't even racing! Though it turns out, most of the other spectators did too. Maybe it's just practice for next year!

The next chapter starts Race Day: bodymarking...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, part 4

After the swim, I walked around the race course, following what the flow would be. On race day, you start the swim in the water- it's a deep water swim, and you head out east into the sun, which is just starting to rise. You turn north for the short leg, then back west, and the final short leg south to exit the stairs. The stairs are hard because the last step is at the top of the water, but there are volunteers that apparently pull you out. So that would be a job for a really strong guy. Note for next year, sight on the biggest, strongest guy and head straight to him!

You run out on carpet and pick the biggest, strongest pair of guys for wetsuit stripping. Unzip and pull out your arms first, then lie down and they down the rest. Of course, they are no longer allowed to be called strippers, they are now pullers. Not nearly as much fun.

Head out on cold concrete (though your feet will be numb from the water, so it won't matter!) to the change tent where a volunteer will meet you with your bag. It will be busy and crowded. Bring a towel. Change out of everything wet. Bring throwaway arm warmers and a windbreaker, because it will be really cold at first, but hot in the afternoon on the bike. A volunteer will help fetch your bike for you.

The bike is three loops, the first quarter is in the city, but the majority is on a blacktop highway on the edge of town. Very flat, except at the turnaround in the desert where there is an up and down to the turnaround, and then an up and down to get back to the flat. Watch out for wind.

Each time you come back into the city, you will turnaround at the "hot corner." There will loads of spectators camped out to watch the bike turnaround on one side, and a turn on the run course on the other. Wave and smile at your supporters as they ring cowbells at you. Once you've done your 112 miles, head back into transition where there will be more volunteers to take your bike away. Walk or hobble back into the change tent where a volunteer will meet you with you bag. Change out of everything again.

Head out on the run course, which is 3 loops of concrete, and surprisingly hilly. It is rarely flat, with lots of rollers and some real hills. The sun will set around 5:30, so be prepared to run in the dark- headlamp, reflectors, glowsticks. And it will get chilly quickly, especially if you are moving slow. Pack a jacket or long sleeve shirt in the special needs bag.

Finish the third loop and turn up through a parking lot. You will have heard Mike Reilly and the finish line crowd three times as you pass by on your loops. Now you get to turn left into the finish chute.

It's short, so take your time to savor it. Raise you arms, pump your fists, smile, and cry. Slap the hands of the spectators lining the chute and banging on the posters- they get a charge from watching you finish. Try to get a good finish picture if possible. Listen to Mike Reilly say you're an Ironman. Find a friendly finish line catcher and have them help you get your medal, finisher's shirt and hat, and picture. Hug your friends and family and tell them how much you love them all. And you did it! You're an Ironman!

Next on our journey, the last meal...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, Part 3

Saturday morning, I got up around 5 am, piddled around on the computer (another advanatage of the Hospitality Suites, free wifi in the rooms), and then had the free breakfast in the restaurant. I could never find the times of the practice swims, and assumed they would be open all day. I organized all my stuff and drove down to scout the course.

From the first moment, the energy was electric. Everything was just bigger and more exciting than the triathlons I've done so far. And the emotion was just overwhelming. Tons of people, both athletes, spectators, and race organizer helpers- all out getting ready for the race the following day. All the Ironman M dots and signs, and how big and organized it was. This was a huge production- 2500 athletes, 3000 volunteers, probably double that the spectators. Just amazing.

So my plan to swim later in the day was wrong. They have a supported swim only in the mornings on Friday and Saturday, so I would have to go now. They had kayakers and a gear check, and it was off limits at any other time, though I was not at risk of disqualification like the triathletes racing the following day. I ran into two other T3ers who were just getting into the water (which is another advantage of T3- they're everywhere!) So I got into my wetsuit and tried to ignore the looks from other people- "she's doing the race?" I wanted to have a sign saying "Next year! I will be ready for it next year!" And really, it was most likely all in my own head. The other athletes were all probably in their own heads, worrying about themselves, not about me!

Into the water, which was supposedly 64 degrees, though I heard it was 60 on race morning. It was cold! Painfully cold! So cold you can't catch your breath. Burning your face, hands, and feet cold! And I have a sleeveless wetsuit, so that didn't help either. Note to self- get full sleeve, neoprene cap, and ear plugs for next year! I only lasted about 15 minutes in the water before I had to get out. And the air temperature, which before had been chilly at ~55, now felt tropical getting out of that water!

I changed back into dry clothes and went over to the volunteer meeting. They split up the huge group into what position you were doing. I had signed up for Body marking just about the first day volunteer registration opened. It is a coveted position, mainly because you get it done early, it's short and easy, and you get to feel up all the athletes! My meeting was already over, because all they had to say was show up at 4:45 at transition. After that, I went over to the Women's Change Tent volunteer meeting to find Catharine and Christine, who had signed up for that after Body marking was full. Their meeting was much more interesting, with how to help the athletes get stuff out of their bags when they were cold and tried, or how to talk them out of quitting. I was hoping to get a chance to see what went on the change tents and how to prepare best for next year.

After the meeting, I wandered around looking at the course, which will be the topic for tomorrow...

Monday, November 30, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, Part 2

The drive from Dallas to Tempe was estimated to be 12-13 hours, and I figured I could leave by 6 am and by there by 7 pm, and that wouldn't be too bad. A thunderstorm rolled through Dallas around 4 am, and woke me up and I couldn't go back to sleep. So I showered and headed out early. The rain slowed me down a little, but I was making good time. The hardest part of the trip is the fact that Texas is 60% of it. I felt like I was way behind because I was still in Texas at 2 pm, and I was pushing it. Luckily the speed limit is 80 in west Texas, and 75 in New Mexico.

And with cruise control set 5-10 mph above the speed limit, it was a relaxing way to travel. I was listening to my iPod- This American Life, NPR Story of the Day, and Fat 2 Fit Radio podcasts, plus my music on shuffle (so glad I got the Glee soundtrack downloaded before I left!) And then Dave Ramsey in the afternoon on the radio. And the scan feature on the radio is a nice diversion. I had meant to get some story tapes, but ran out of time. And it was just an interesting drive, first because my mom's parents lived in Pecos and second because I'm reading Bryan Burrough's The Big Rich. This book details the lives of the Texas oil families- Murchison, Cullen, Hunt, and Richardson. Being a native Texan, I have heard the names and bits of the stories all my life, but this was the first time I've read anything that put them all together. So watching the pump jacks, and drilling derricks west of Midland/Odessa- there was still quite a bit of activity, even after the jump from two years ago when oil prices spiked. And then moving further west into New Mexico and Arizona, you get the new energy source- wind. Fascinating to watch, and even though they look slow, if the blades do 15 revolutions per minute, they are so long, that the tips are moving 200 mph! Enormous, and tons of them!

When I finally crossed the border, New Mexico flew by, and finally into Arizona. The last part into Tempe was tough, coming into town in the dark, and trying to find the hotel. There was a time change, gaining an hour, and altogether it wound up being about 14.5 hours. Not horrible, but I was happy finally be there.

The hotel was called The Hospitality Suites, and I'd found it on Orbitz. All they had left were one bedroom suites, which was great when it was me and Sara, but more space than I needed for just me. And I totally lucked out- the hotel was great, nice rooms, though a little dated, 3 pools, free breakfast, and a complimentary cocktail hour by the pool. Plus tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts. And it's 3 miles from the transition area and 1 block from the bike course. I brought Jamis so I could ride to and from and avoid the closed roads and parking issues. Score!

Next up, Saturday morning swim...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, Part 1

I went to Tempe, Arizona last weekend to watch Ironman Arizona, volunteer, and sign up for 2010. It was an incredible experience. This will be part 1 in a 10 part series. Yes 10! There is so much to cover, from the details of the race, to planning about next year, plus the ~28 hours I spent in my car, thinking.

So the first leg of the trip started on Thursday before last. I left Austin for Dallas, for a brief visit with my parents and older sister, and to leave the Spazdog with them for the trip to Arizona. My family is going through a particularly difficult period right now, and it was just about as crazy as I've ever seen it. I love them, and I want to be supportive, but it was just overwhelming. I won't go into details here, but I was very happy to get on the road the next day and get away from it all as early as possible.

For tomorrow, the drive to Tempe...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ACA ride: Reagan Ramble

Friday afternoon I picked up my new (to me) bike from Jack and Adam's, a 2001 Jamis Quest that a coworker had kept in her shed for the past 8 years. 200 miles, and aside from a rusty chain and a flat tube, in good condition. A longer stem, new pedals, and swapping out the seat, and it was a good fit and ready to go. My first ride out on the veloway had an unfortunate fall on the big hill when the rear tire slipped out. After the adjustments on the trainer and the ride in the back of the truck, I didn't check it out like I should have. So when I stood up to climb and unweighted the rear wheel it came out and the chain caught and I fell over. A tiny bit of road rash on my elbow and a sore neck from holding my head up were the only injuries. Some cyclists stopped to help me put it back in place, and I rode the loop back to do the hill again, the second time successfully!

And he will be called Jamis, which is not all that creative since it's the brand name, but there's a story there. At the YO Ranch Adventure Camp, one of the best loved directors was named James Rice. On opening day, one of his favorite spiels to the campers was about how it was hard to learn, remember, and pronounce all the new names correctly. For instance, his name was James Rice, pronounced, Jay-miss Ricky. So he understood it when people got his name wrong. So Jamis (aka James) will be the name of this bike.

So Saturday, two other T3ers invited me to go on an Austin Cycling Association ride with them instead of the group ride doing the same old dam loop. I've been a member for about a year, but have never made it out on a ride. It's only $25 and you get access to their maps. And really, you don't have to join, all the rides are open to the public, but I think it's a good idea to support cycling in Austin.

Captain Queso, the leader of Team Queso which is a little group inside T3 that has occasional get togethers over margaritas and queso, and Nancy are both thinking about doing IMAZ 2010 also. And Captain has been really helpful and has offered to be like a mentor to help me get there. So she rode with me on the ACA ride while Nancy went ahead. Jamis was great- amazingly comfortable right off the bat, especially the seat. A three hour ride, and no pain or chafing at all. I think it's the steel, and also the positioning. I don't want to be disloyal to El Sueno, my tri bike, but Jamis is a really nice ride!

So we opted for the 33 mile route, though there were ones from 12- 65 available. We started from the Brushy Creek Lake Park out in Cedar Park, and it was surprisingly busy, almost as busy as the Town Lake trailhead under the Mopac bridge. Lots of runners, and training groups, probably training for 3M and the Austin Marathon. So we get started at 9 am, and it's a great route. Up north on Parmer, and then off into some quiet county roads. There were some surprising hills, one of which I got to the "uh oh, I might not make it up and won't be able to clip out before I fall over" moments, even with the triple! We got a little lost, but not too bad, and then had a little break at the convenience store. And then the cold front started moving in, which wasn't cold so much as windy. And the headwind made the last 10 miles back a little tough, but not horrible.

We met Nancy back at my car, they had ridden from their houses about 15 miles away and planned to finish it, for a total of about 60 miles! I'm not quite at that comfort level, but hopefully after a winter of riding, I will be. And I'm excited to try out some new routes with the ACAers. A lot of them are further away, but I'm happy to drive to get to some clear roads and learn new routes. Plus, Jamis makes me want to ride more too!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Wurst Ride

My longest ride ever yesterday: 62 miles! And I really enjoy the charity ride setup, where you ride a bit, take a break, then ride some more, until you finish and get to celebrate with beer and food. Awesome!

So this ride went from Austin to New Braunfels and was pretty well organized on the day- well marked signs and pretty good rest stops. The not so good things- apparently one little sentence in the FAQ section told about how you could check a bag to have at the finish. And the packet pickup at REI was disorganized and again no fact sheet with anything about the bags. So that was a little annoying. But at the end, there was Ziegenbock beer and sausage! And I tried a bratwurst, which is different from sausage because it is beef and veal, where sausage is beef and pork. Not bad, but I prefer sausage. And there was a shuttle to WurstFest down the road, but I was pooped and just ready to get back home for a shower!

But a nice day that warmed up into the 80s, and a good route that I'd like to try again. Pretty hilly in places though. And I got another flat tire, but had a nice guy help me out with it. And lots of nice, friendly people to chat with both on the bike and at the finish. So a good day, all around!

PS: Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roller Coaster

It would be impossible to keep the high after the high of finishing Longhorn, but I'm really trying! The swing from really high to pretty normal is a big change, and a little dizzying, even though it's not like I've sunk into the post-event depression. But I can totally understand how that would be easy to fall into.

I feel really motivated right now, and after a week off, I'm back to training. Winter training, which I thought I would focus on running, but after a talk with my coach, instead I'm going to focus on cycling. Hmm, not quite what I was expecting, but apparently my running speed is okay for triathlon, since there is usually walking interspersed anyway. But since the bike is the longest mileage and longest time, <15 mph is not going to cut it. So I love cycling, but I do not love spin classes. In a warehouse, going nowhere on your bike. But Coach M said that his coach told him that if there's something hard you don't want to do, most likely that's what you need to do the most. And his coach was Eddie Reese. Here is a bit of his bio.
Since taking over the men's swimming and diving program at The University of Texas in 1978, Eddie Reese has established a tradition of excellence in Austin and set the standard in collegiate swimming. The 2005, 2006 and 2009 ASCA Coach of the Year, an eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year and three-time United States Men's Olympic Team head coach, Reese has led Texas to nine NCAA team titles in his 31 seasons in Austin.

I will defer to the experts. So, a winter of spin classes, here I come!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3 Race Report

Finished! In 8:43!

I had written out my race plan and followed it about 95%. Up at 4:45, waffles and load up the car, out to the Expo Center by 5:30, drop off Special Needs Bag. Quick bus to the park, set up transition- very crowded and dark, then wait almost 2 hours for my wave. It was 65 degrees and overcast- cool, but not cold. One cool thing- they had two skydivers, one that dropped a huge American flag from his pack, and then they sang the National Anthem as he descended. Awesome.

The word for the swim was STEADY. I tried to start a little harder to find someone to draft off of, but wasn't able to until some of the men in the final two waves came up behind me- it was almost like ride the back side of a wave when they came through. I managed not to get kicked in the face, but still a little scary when much bigger people than I was used to came up on me. I did see a fully dressed scuba diver in one of the lifeguard boats- they were prepared! Finished and had the T3 welcome in, Coach Maurice did my wetsuit zipper and reminded to go hard on the bike, and I avoided the muddy wetsuit stripping, and on in to transition. Quickly changed, but then had to pack up the dirty wetsuit and towel into the small bike bag, so it took longer than normal.

The word for the bike was STRONG. Coach Maurice had advised me to go harder on the bike and not save too much for the run in order to have a chance to finish before the cutoff. And the first half was perfect. I had ridden parts of the course many times, and driven it times, plus last year's Aquabike (though the course was different this year), so I felt like I knew it. I knew where the aid stations were, and planned my breaks. And the first half was right on target, 15.1 mph, mostly in aero, staying positive and reciting my mantras and songs. It was about 75 degrees and overcast, which was very pleasant.

And then the wind picked up. We hit some open farmland, plus probably turned into it a little. I tried to stay positive as I watched the average MPH on the computer fall. The worst was the last section on 969, going 10 mph on a flat into 20-25 mph winds. Ugly. I managed my nutrition pretty well, Sustained Energy, Cliff Blocks, peanut butter crackers, water handups into the aerobottle. The one thing I would have done differently is get a Gatorade at the second stop, and not wait.

So the last 15 miles were tough, I was continuously working the times, trying to figure what I'd have to do on the run, and switching from the 8:18 avoid the cutoff goal to the "Go the Distance" goal. And at the same time trying to believe I could do it. I was out there doing it! And lots of encouragement from people passing, of which there were a ton because the three waves behind me were Men 30-34, Aquabikers, and Relay- all fast. I did pass three women total out there, so I knew I would not be the last biker in!

In to transition 2, continuing to follow the race plan and changed into tri shorts and relubed with Chamois Butter in the ziploc baggie to wipe it on the shorts without getting my hands on it- worked great. Left foot a little numb from the bike, and had to walk through transition, but then out through the arena where the 6 hour finishers were finishing. There was a huge crowd in the arena, and it was so energizing to see the finishers and crowd, and at the same time demoralizing knowing I had a long way to go to get back there.

The word for the run was STEADY. I had two options- run until you get to a water stop every 3/4ths of a mile, then walk, or run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute with the watch timer. Nancy ran the first bit to check up on me after I passed the T3 tent. Lots of encouragement and activity, and lots of runners out there. And I was plodding along, going the 5:1 and feeling okay. I tried to keep my splits, but missed a couple of mile markers. I was going about 16 minutes per mile, which was above the time I would need, but since the bike went long, the 8:18 was pretty unreachable and I was "Going the Distance" anyway.

Lap 2 I found my parents and cousin Frances and that was a great encouragement. Originally my dad was going to run with me, but then the race meeting said that any spectators running would be considered a pacer and the triathlete would be disqualified for receiving aid. But at that point I figured I would be disqualified anyway for going over time, and the official that Dad had talked to said it would fine now, so he changed into his running gear to meet me on the third lap.

There were a couple of water stops that had hoses and super soakers, which felt great- it was about 80 degrees, partly cloudy and breezy. I got super soaked at one, and realized that the water on my shorts, mixed with the copious amounts of Chamois Butter, was creating a foam. I was horrified! I was foaming at the crotch! I tried wiping it away, and luckily the next stop had cold sponges and I got two to try to dilute it and that just made it worse. For about 20 minutes on that lap I was wiping away liquidy white foam from my shorts. Once most of the water was gone, it slowed down and then quit, but just gross!

At the turnaround for lap 3, Dad, Karen, and Elizabeth all joined me. They were walking while I kept up the slog jog, but keeping a pretty good cadence. Coach Maurice joined for a minute to tell me they were keeping the finish line open for me to be the last finisher, but I would have to run. I told him I was running as fast I could! But that was encouraging- it is good to know the people who know the right people! And with the posse, I caught up to the next runner, a Trizoner named Nicole who had passed me on the first lap, but was hurting and walking at this point. We just swept her up and they all walked while I jogged. I walked the uphills and aid stations though, and was keeping it together. My stomach was a little sloshy, but not bad, and soon we were into double digits and getting closer. Our posse passed three women out in the park, and later learned there was another guy about 5 minutes behind us, plus the one guy ahead by about a minute we could never catch, so we weren't even the last on the course.

Finally back into the park, Coach Charles and Natalie joined us, and then it was less than a mile. They all peeled off at the last turn to meet us in the arena. Nicole started to jog and went ahead of me, but I knew if I went any faster, I would puke. And the final run by the team tailgating area, I started to get teary. I was really going to do this!

And into the arena, with the fishhook turn. Nicole finished, the guy ahead, and then me. And Coach Logan was announcing and I was just so overwhelmed. I cried as I finished, then got all my finisher gear and then crying and hugging all the T3ers and my family. There was just love and encouragement everywhere! And I was done!

Surprisingly, I felt pretty good. Worst were the feet- water and sweat made them raw and painful, though no blisters. My dad bought me Longhorn gear, then on to collect the bike, bags, and cars, and then home for a wonderful shower! And again, surprisingly good- small areas of chafing that burned in the shower, but really, my feet were the only things that were painful enough to make me hobble and after some Aleve, pretzels, and Gatorade, I was good. Out to dinner with my aunt and uncle at Chili's- I wanted a big burger and fries and a coke! Then saw my parents off to drive back to Dallas, and then home. And again, feeling surprising good. The only real problem overnight was the combination of feeling so jazzed about finishing, and the cokes at dinner, I really didn't sleep. I dozed, and then got up at 5 with the thunderstorm, piddled around the house and unpacked the bags, then back to bed for the first nap of day, where I did finally sleep.

So, overall a fantastic day. And just a conglomeration of everything good- family, teammates, effort, fighting through the wind, a little luck and pulling strings to get an official finish, and then the overwhelming feeling of finishing. A year of training and intention to get here, and I did it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My times are in your hands

I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in you, O Lord. You are my God. My times are in your hands. Ps 31:14.

I have an evening devotional book from Joyce Meyer, and this was one of the passages a couple of months back when I was having some work anxiety. It is always helpful to remember that I am not in control of everything. I can let some of it go and this passage reminds me of that.

Last night, I came across it again, and the double meaning came through. "My times" are what I have been worrying about with this triathlon. But I have done all the training I can do, I have prepared as best I can. I have to let go and let God.

Yesterday was packet pickup, expo, seminars, and race meetings. It was good and I got to see some teammates out there, plus pick up some last minute tips. And most exciting, the race shirt fits! And it's not because they changed the size or design. I'm losing weight and inches and it is showing up in the clothes. Of course, this taper week of no exercise is messing up my momentum, but I think I've finally figured it out! And when this shirt fit, I went back into my closet and found all the other race shirts that haven't fit and got about 10 new/old ones to add to my workout shirt drawer. Yay!

I did buy a race jersey, even though there is the rule of if you don't finish, you can't wear it. But at the last event, they sold out of the jerseys before I finished, so I didn't get one. And then I rationalized that there are relays, and aquabikers that get finish gear even though they don't do the whole distance, so if I finish after the cut off time, I'm still going to wear the jersey. If I finish before the cut off time, I'm going back to the store and buying everything that says Longhorn on it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swimming in the dark

All the preparation is coming together. The hard workouts are done. The practice races are complete. I'm organizing all the gear and putting it in piles ready to go in transition bags. My family is coming in the afternoon to support me, which is fantastic. There are only a few minor details left to be worked out, mainly due to the cooler weather. I am going to wear the arm warmers and shoe covers on the bike. There was one thing a teammate had advised me: put on a dry shirt for the bike. Normally I wear a tank top style tri top for all three events. During the Practiceman, I realized how cold it is at 60 degrees to be wet, with wet shirt on, and riding a bike. This isn't a problem when it's 90 degrees! And she said to just wear your sports bra and tri shorts under the wet suit. Well my sports bra is not a pretty stand alone kind. It's the super support kind. And I am not the type that is comfortable wearing it alone. It would be so much easier not to have to wrestle with taking off a wet shirt, and I am a little pressed for time here. But would it rub or chafe? I would have to test it before race day.

So that's why I was at Barton Springs at 6:30 this morning. It's still really dark then, and while I used to go swim with S in the winter evenings, they have lights on then. There are no bright lights on in the mornings, just the telephone pole lights. So it is really dark in the water. And there are weeds and rocks that look like sharks. So while I can rationalize there is nothing in there to get me, I barely made it half a lap before calling it quits! The sports bra only worked well though. But how do people swim in the dark? Sharks!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week #15 Longhorn Training

Start of taper! Hard week at work, so it turned out pretty well, considering.

Swim 2; 1.5

Bike 3; 1

Run 2; 0.5

Core 0.5; 2

Total 7.5; 5

Long bike 25; 12

Long run 30 minutes; 30 minutes.

And Practiceman was on Sunday. My legs were still sore from the Personal Training Core with N, but I felt good on the climbs and kept up within a minute of the two girls in front of me through out the whole bike. The main problem was frozen feet! 60 degrees when I'm wet and on a bike is COLD! I'm going to tweak my race day clothes to try and avoid that. Right now, weather on Sunday is predicted to be sunny with a low of 55 and high of 80- not too bad at all!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Go the distance

I have been struggling and stressing about the Longhorn time limits these past couple of weeks. Here are the rules from the Longhorn website, with the anxiety producing part in bold:

SWIM: The swim course will close one hour and ten minutes from the start of the final Swim Wave. All athletes who have not crossed the timing mat at the swim exit by the cut-off time will be disqualified and will not be permitted to continue the event.
BIKE:The bike course will close five hours after the final swim wave start. All athletes still on the bike course after the cut-off time will be disqualified and will not be permitted to continue the event. Also, any athlete not reaching the third aid station at mile 36 on Hogeye Road by 4 hours from the last wave start will not be allowed to continue the bike. The athlete will be removed from the bike course and transported to T2.
RUN: The run course will close eight hours after the final swim wave start. Runners still on the course after that time will be disqualified and given the opportunity to unofficially finish the race. Further, any athlete not making it to the start of the 3 lap by seven hours and thirty minutes from the final swim wave start will be disqualified

So I have calculated from previous races and think I will finish in 8 hours, 30 minutes. I had hoped to improve my speed during the training, but it hasn't happened. But I have really improved my endurance and feel pretty confident I can complete the distances. I was waiting to find out the swim waves, because that was really important. If I got an early wave start, I could have up to an extra hour to finish because with so many athletes, it can take 60-90 minutes to get everyone in the water. If I got a late wave, I would be pretty screwed. But I did have a back up plan, as I can race age group or in the Clydesdale/Athena category. This category was created for the big guys who are fit, but can't compete against the smaller guys, and just another way to hand out more awards. So it's for men >200lbs and women >150. I figured I could just change my registration as soon as the waves come out to the category that went earlier

Turns out I'm pretty screwed. I am wave 12 out of 16, which is women 30-34, and Athenas. It's the last women's wave. There goes my original and back up plans. And it's 20 minutes from the last wave start. So if my predicted time is correct, I will be 10 minutes short of the cut off, and will be disqualified. I can still finish unofficially, but still, what a letdown.

So I have been really worried, thinking of all the possibilities and all the times I should have trained harder, gotten faster, lost more weight. And that is not good for the brain or spirit! I figured out the times I would have to hit to make the cut off and they are faster than the last Olympic distance triathlon I did, and I just can't see how I can go twice as far, faster. And then thinking about not taking the time to change shorts or take bathroom breaks. And that's assuming I don't get a flat tire or cramp or whatever.

So after too much mental energy spent on this, I have decided to let it go. I came up with the mantra of "Go the distance" and that will be my goal. I will do what I need to do to be comfortable, like take the time to put on sunscreen, change shorts, go to the bathroom, or take a walk break. And when the officials come to disqualify me for going over time, I will be okay, because I am going to go the distance, even if has to be unofficially. It still makes me tear up thinking about it though. But I will make peace with my abilities this year. This is where I am right now and what I can do right now, and that's all I can do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week #14 Longhorn Training

Back spasm on Wednesday at work, so took off Thursday and Friday. But good long weekend!

Swim 2.5; rain and lightning- cancelled on Tuesday.

Bike 6; 4.5- all long bike.

Run 4; 4:45- homemade hill run, and long run.

Core 1; 2

Total 13.5; 11.25

Long bike 70; 50

Long run 13; 14

No day, but today

It's been a little rough around here the last two weeks. Saddle sores, bad training days, back spasm, hectic at work, bad weather, and only three weeks to go! But I am back in the saddle, literally and figuratively, and feeling pretty good.

This weekend's training was pretty important as it was the last chance to get the big miles in. I'd missed the first chance- rain, and the second time- memorial service. So this was it before Longhorn. And after last week's meltdown, I was a little nervous that my mind would work against me, so I prepared the fighting words I would have if I started to get negative. And what worked was the song from Rent that goes "There's only us, there's only this. There's just one road, there's just one way. No day but today." And that helped.

So Saturday had forecasts of rain, and this was an out and back course out Fitzhugh Rd, which will eventually get you to Johnson City. I debated about carrying my enormous rain jacket, and when I noticed no one else was carrying theirs, I left it in the car. I have never ridden in the rain, and was a little nervous about it, but I would rather practice it before encountering it on a race day. I did a 5 mile warmup out to the Veloway (and also to use their bathroom!) and then we were off. Dropped by William Cannon again, but I was happy to stay in my comfort zone, spin up the hills, drink out the new aerobottle, eat my nutrition, and stay positive. The plan was to turn around at 32.5 m to get the 70 in, but to turn around at the first drop of rain. So I was feeling good, even though this route was a lot of rolling hills. My back was fine. It was cool and overcast, which was very pleasant.

I was getting close to the 30 mile mark, and I could no longer pretend the water I was feeling was coming from the splashy aerobottle. But I was so close! But there was a big hill coming up, so I turned around. In hindsight, I should have turned around before then. The drips turned into more of a spitting rain, which was actually pretty nice. It kept me from sweating so much, and cooled me off. Then it turned into a light rain. Still okay, not sweating at all now, and I could ride up the hills much more strongly- the heat dissipation was helpful. I figured out how to dry off my brakes before I needed them. And I was going slower, and safer, on the descents.

And then it started to get into a pretty heavy rain. Where the rain drops feel like pins hitting your bare skin, and face, and eyeballs. But you can't wear your sunglasses and you can't close your eyes. And the water sluices up from you tires on your butt and legs and down into your socks. Okay, now it's not fun anymore. I never got really cold, but I was definitely chilled. I was feeling for the poor girls wearing sleeveless jerseys and not having any insulating body fat.

I was promising myself that I would call for help when I got to the gas station on 290, which meant I had 20 miles in the rain, though it would mean cutting my ride 20 miles short. But I was ready for this fun to be over. And then I saw J and I was saved! J and N were sweeping the ride route for soggy cyclists like me, and they were a godsend! I jumped in his car and was so relieved to be off the bike. Only one other rider was still out there to pick up, the others had gotten other rides in, or had sucked it up to finish. But I was so grateful to them, and grateful to be on a team that looks out for one another. Back home, I took a shower, ate some frito pie for lunch, and then prepared for my ritual after exercise nap. And then I realized how chilled I really was. I could feel cold spots for about two hours afterwards.

So then Sunday was the long run- 13 miles planned, though I did 14 because I like even numbers better, I'd never gone past 13.1 and I wanted to make up for the shorter bike. It was 80 degrees and 98% humidity, which was pretty soggy. So today I was begging for rain, and there was none! And that frito pie came back to haunt me- 3 bathroom stops! And I was drinking water and gatorade at every opportunity and still was down 4 lbs due to dehydration. But I finished it- the longest run to date!

So I finally was able to get the long weekend in- not perfect, but enough. And I stayed positive. And I can feel the core classes are helping. Only two more weekends to train- a long brick next weekend, and then the Practiceman the following.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week #13 Longhorn Training

First week of intensity build #2. This week ended pretty crappily and I was dreaded posting the numbers.

Swim 2.5; 1- rained out, then committee meeting. Did do an OWS at Barton Springs in the wetsuit- need more time there.

Bike 5; 2- one spin, one 12 m long ride. Saddle sore.

Run 3.5; 3- 8m long run from last week, then 3 m meltdown at Decker.

Core 1; 3- did well here.

Total 12; 9

Long bike 60 * brick off the run 20 minutes; 12

Long run 11; 8

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Well that sucked

Bad bike followed by a bad run brick at Decker. Didn't go the distance on either. Multiple mental meltdowns. What the hell am I doing out here?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week #12 Longhorn Training

Light week of this cycle:

Swim 2; 2.25- really uninspired swims this week.

Bike 3.5; 4.75- one spin and the long bike.

Run 3; 0! After the 12 mile long run last week, this week just flew by before I could get another run in. And then a seminar all day Sunday, so no long run at all this week.

Core 0; 2- discovered and like the Corefit classes!

Total 8.5; 9

Long bike 40; 51- finally rode the Longhorn course, but due to the memorial service on Saturday at 1pm, I had to cut the route a little short, and it was still a close call to make it on time.

Long run 8; 0. I debated trying to get a run in tonight, which would probably feel pretty good after sitting on my butt all day today, but decided I would be lazy instead. And then trying to schedule all the workouts for next week, I have another CE seminar next Saturday planned. Though if the long awaited Practiceman gets scheduled for next Saturday, I'm going to skip the CE. If not, I'll go to San Antonio, then ride Longhorn on Sunday, with a brick afterwards. Only two more long rides of 60 and 70 planned before the taper starts and I'd like to do both of them at the Longhorn course. It's getting really close!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So there has been a change at T3 that was not welcomed by all. They decided to add a Corefit program, which you would have to pay for on top of your T3 dues, and stop the small selection of core exercises they were offering- one hour and three 15 minute pre-workout sets total. People were pissed. "How can you take away training sessions and expect me to pay the same?" "I don't have the $25 extra per month to add the Corefit." "I just want to bitch!"

Personally, by promising to pay for whole year (but still in monthly installments) my rates decreased $15, so that the $25 extra for Corefit wound up being only $10 net increase. And for that I get the option of 10 hours of Corefit and 4 hours of yoga. I'd call that a deal.

But I was afraid. The 15 minute pre-spin or track core exercises kicked my ass regularly. Crunches, lunges, squat thrusts, plank, etc. So an hour of that? I would die! I heard that the hour sessions are more spread out, more rest between sets, but still. And the Corefit hours will add more instruments of torture than just your own body weight.

So I put it off until this morning. And it turns out, it was kind of fun! A small group at 6 am- only 7 people total. And after a brief jog warmup and stretches, we went outside for running drills- it reminded me a lot of high school volleyball and soccer practice. Short sprints, touch the ground, and back, relays, quick feet, hopping and jumping over little balls, etc. But almost immediately, I was sweating enough to drip on the ground. But I was happy to see I could keep up. I'm not fast, but I am pretty quick.

Then back inside for a round of abs- ouch. And then circuit training- 7 different exercises for a minute each- step ups, rows, squats, lunges, pushups, arm raises etc. Then a break, and then 7 more circuit exercises. And the instructor N was great about offering modifications, not just easier for me, but also for a guy that was injured, and the really fit guys that needed it harder. Plus very encouraging and noticing and commenting on form. It wasn't just go hard and do it however you can. It was do it correctly, or modify it so you can do it correctly. Very nice.

Finally, a short stretch at the end and we were done. I know I'm going to be sore in places tomorrow, or even later today. But I think this is an area I've been missing. Going in a straight line for a long period of time (the definition of triathlon!) neglects some areas and this will really help me become more balanced and stronger overall. So I think this will become a regular thing- whether on Wed, or I could Friday too. And then there's still the yoga I haven't tried...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week #11 Longhorn Training

Week #11

Swim 2.5; 2

Bike 6; 5.75

Run 4; 4.75

Core 1; 0.75

Total 13.5 (biggest week so far!); 13.25

Long bike 75; rained out, 3 hours on the trainer.

Long run 15; 12

A short week due to the Austin Triathlon on Monday. And then rain (finally!) which prevented an outside ride on Saturday morning on the Longhorn course. The trainer sucks for long rides. Even with two movies, an iPod, and friendly people, it still just sucks. The run on Sunday was very good- felt quick with the high turnover, and strong until mile 11 out of 12. Of course, the cool, overcast morning really helped too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good swim

Good swim at Circle C this morning. I really like workouts that have a pattern and I think Coach C does too. Today was 8 x 50s, then 4 x 100s, then 2 x 200s, the first half at 85% effort and the second half at 90%. So my 50s pace high was 58s- really pushing and flailing. 100s- 2:03! Really excited that a sub 2:00 100 is in my near future! And 200s- 4:10. I think I'm finally getting the coordinated pull and roll, with a strong, coordinated, whole body kick. When it's all working together, I feel like Dara Torres. When it's not, it's really not.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Austin Tri Race Report

Not to waste any time: a 30 minute PR!

This was a great race- always well organized by the High Five/ Jack and Adam's team. It was going to be hot and dusty, but they did as best they could to minimize the problems that comes with this drought we're stuck in. I was worried mainly about the "training through the race" that the coaches recommended- doing 9.5 miles running on Friday morning, and 52 on the bike on Saturday. I had stretched and rollered, and tried to recover as quickly as I could, but I could definitely feel on Monday that I didn't have any power left in my legs. But I didn't feel horrible, and I was excited about this race because my friends C and S were doing their first Olympic distance, and there were a bunch of T3ers out to race, cheer, and volunteer too.

Swim- 2:48/ 100m- the same as Cap Tex 2008, which is the only other time I've done this course. I zigzagged a lot, especially coming back up into the sun. And I probably couldn't worked a little harder, but I wanted to save some energy for the rest of the day.

Bike- 14.9 mph- it was a three loop course, and the first loop, I had a hard time settling in and getting into a rhythm. Only two hills and one false flat, but they seemed to take a lot out of me- probably due to the "training through the race" thing. I did get to see a bunch of T3ers out there on the out and back parts, plus some old TNT buddies from last year, and my cousin K, who just happened to be running on the trail and saw me- how fun and random! No flats and a 3 mph improvement.

Run- 16:15/mile- same as last year. It was hot- 90 degrees with 50% humidity. I liked the course with the winding out and backs on grass/dirt and pavement, and I tried to run in the shade wherever I could find it. I was getting dehydrated and headachy at this point, and I couldn't drink enough at the water stations to stop it. I ran the entire way except for water stops, and kept a good high cadence. And most importantly, I could imagine it was just a training run- it felt the same, and I could imagine I could keep that pace for another 6 miles, though I would need a lot more water stops to get there!

And last year I had the bad flat on the bike course, so if I wanted to get all negative, I could say I didn't improve, I just got lucky to not flat. But really, I had 8 hours of training over the weekend and no taper. So if I actually trained for this like it was my A race, I could go even faster. That's the positive spin, and what I'm going to choose to believe!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week #10 Longhorn Training

This week's plan:

Swim 2.5; 2.5- schedule change moved the AM swims on Tues/Thurs to Circle C- awesome!

Bike 5; 5- awesome!

Run 4; 3.75- pretty damn good!

Core 1; 1- awesome!

Total 12.5; 12.25- pretty damn good!

Long bike 65; 52- broke the 50 mile barrier, but shortened it a little for the Austin Tri on Monday.

Long run 13; 9.5- ditto

The morning workouts have made the difference. Getting up early and getting it done is great. And next week starts the new Corefit, so I'm not sure how I'll change it up.
M, W, F- spin
T, Th- swim
M, W- spin
T, Th- swim
F- core
M- core
T- swim
W- spin
Th- swim, core PM
F- spin, yoga PM
What a plethora of options!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A ride in which I didn't get passed

With the Austin Triathlon Olympic on Monday, the coaches suggested that if it wasn't your "A" race, you should train through the weekend. I amended that to going at least 50% on the long workouts, so I wouldn't expire during the race. But I wound up going about 80%, so there's still a chance of melting into a heap of cramping, bonking pain.

Friday, I did 9.5 miles on the trail- cut off the last section because I was done- mentally and physically. And it wasn't even that hot. But a good soaking in Barton Springs really helped. And even though I vowed never to run long before the long ride, I didn't have any choice, and luckily it went much better this time.

Saturday, the route was Kiker to San Marcos for 65 miles. I looked at the map and figured if I left from my house, I would cut off about 12 miles, and that would be just fine. I left at 7 am, when the group was meeting at Kiker at 7:30. I figured I would get caught at the Valero pit stop in Kyle. One guy stopped there too, but I couldn't remember if he was a T3er or not, so it was just the nod and smile. And since we were both stopped and off our bikes, it's not technically getting passed- he just got back on his bike before I did. I saw the big group of T3ers heading to the Valero about 20 minutes after me, so I thought it wouldn't be too long before they caught me.

The route goes back towards Buda before going across to go south on the IH 35 access road. Here I was feeling great- the saddle was getting comfortable, I was averaging close to 15 mph, and I was secure knowing the last 12 miles in are mainly downhill back to my house. I had a new drink to try out- Sustained Energy that is unflavored, and tastes a little like powdered cheerios in water, which is a lot better than most of the drinks I've tried. It's a keeper.

The problem hit when I turned northbound on the access road. Any time I think there's no wind, I should look around, because most likely it's a tailwind! And it was. So the 10 miles on the access road were brutal into a strong headwind. Flat, no tree breaks, and just torture. I knew there was a gas station up ahead at the turn, and I was imagining sitting down against a back rest with a coke and a snickers. And eventually I got there. And as soon as I got comfortable, two T3ers, and about a minute later, two more, rode in. And we chatted and rested a bit, then we got back on to finish up the last 18. And again, I just got back on after they did- I technically didn't get passed. A minor victory, but still!

I saw some T3ers going southbound, but no one else caught up to me the rest of the ride. I guess starting 30 minutes and 6 miles ahead is what it takes! I slogged it back to my house for a total of 52 in 3:50, which averages over 13 mph. That is great for me! A long stretching session, shower, and nap. And then it will be interesting how fast my body can recover before Monday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Week #9 Longhorn Training

Week 9- start of intensity build #1: not quite the intensity needed though.

Swim 2.5; actual 0.5, and that was more playing with the nieces than actual swimming.

Bike 5; 4

Run 3; 3- yay!

Core 1; 1- yay!

Total 11.5; 8.5

Long bike 55; 42 on Friday- the new saddle is not working for me. I had one more Mopac loop and the nails poking in my sit bones were just not going to allow it.

Long run 10; didn't happen. Longest run was an hour for about 4 miles around Matthews Lane.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pretty Picture

Morning Awakening
Eva Gonzales, 1876

From a new blog I've just discovered:

Friday, August 28, 2009

What if I fail?

I've had a couple of tough workouts in the past two weeks where I have not hit the training target. From the start, I've modified the training goals to be okay with 90% of the specified distance, and I'm not even getting that. And we've passed the two months to go mark. So I'm a little worried.

What if I get to race day and I fail?

And specifically, from the event website:
All triathletes must be capable of completing the swim in 1 hour and 10 min from the last swim wave, completing the bike by 5 hours from the start of the last swim wave, and finishing the entire race in 8:00. All cyclists must be past the 28 mile mark of the bike course within 3.5 hours of the last swim wave start. All athletes must begin their second loop of the run before the 7:30 mark.

I looked at last year's last finisher at Longhorn, 8:43.

My times are improving, but by seconds, not minutes, so I can pretty reasonably predict what my times will be right now:
Swim 45 minutes
Bike 5 hours
Run 3.5 hours
That adds up to 9.25 hours, without counting any transitions, bathroom stops, or mechanical issues.

I think I was expecting a bigger drop in times with all the training I've put in this past year, but it hasn't happened. And again, it's been exciting to PR every race I've entered this year, and I would probably PR the Aquabike if I did that instead of the full triathlon. But my goal has not been a faster Aquabike. It's been to finish the Longhorn triathlon.

Of course, a lot has to do with luck too. If my age group goes off as an early wave, I could have an extra hour to work with, since they time from the last wave (and last year, Aquabike, relay, and Clydes and Athenas were the last wave). If my wave is towards the end, it's not so good. I really don't want to be the last biker in, as I learned last year. And it's not so fun to be the last runner in either, but that would be okay, unless they pull you from the course, which is possible, since they say you have to have started your last loop by 7:30. So I could be 6.5 miles from the finish of a 70.3 mile race, and get pulled off the course. And that would suck.

So it all adds up to: I'm worried I'm not going to be able to do it. I've put it out there to everyone that my goal all year has been Longhorn, and it will be embarrassing if I fail. But more importantly is how disappointed I will be in myself. I really have put in the hours and effort. And it may not be good enough.

And while there are two months left, I can't imagine dropping an hour off my time at this point. I would need a motorcycle and a power wheelchair to do that! Should I call the event producers and ask them to plan for more time for me to finish? Should I concede and switch to the Aquabike for the second year? Should I plan to just do one loop of the run before getting swept off the course? Should I "mistakenly" get in the first wave? I could fake an injury. I could pray for rain (or hail or tornado). I could pretend I lost interest and found a new hobby in chicken raising. I could move to Mexico.

Or I could wait and see. For now.

Week #8 Longhorn Training

Finally, a light week! And I really needed it. After a couple of tough rides, and back to back long rides and runs, I was toast.

Swim 2; actual 1

Bike 3; 5.25!

Run 3; 0!

Total 8; 6.5

Long bike 30; 44m on the Tollway- got a little overexcited on the ride out, feeling great, moving fast. And when I turned around, realized it was slightly downhill and with the wind, and that's why it felt so great. So coming back felt crappy.

Long run 7; 0. Between all the travelling for Continuing Education, and the trip to Midland to visit my cousin in the hospital, and then a visit from my sister and her two kids, I just ran out of time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week #7 Longhorn Training

Week #7 of Longhorn Training

Swim 2.5; 0.5- I figured out the shoulder thing- sleeping on an old, too soft pillow. But only after I did it again, so not much swimming again this week.

Bike 5; 4.8

Run 3.5; 3.1

Core 1; 1.25

Total 12; 9.65

Long bike 50-60; 33

Long run 10-12; 10

So short again, but where I was planning to be at the beginning of the week for the most part, so that's good. Recovery week next week- yay!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rough Bike Ride

I was supposed to ride 60 this week, but the T3 ride for 60 miles was the Dam loop which is hard and hilly. I was afraid I would be on my own for 59 miles and coming back into town on busy roads at 11, and I didn't like it. The 40 mile route was the Bee Caves loop, which is hilly too, but I have ridden some parts of that route before, and I could finish up the remaining miles doing the Mopac Loop two or three times.

Well, at the end of the Bee Caves loop, I felt like crap, and there would be no more riding anywhere. It started out rough, mainly because I ran long yesterday- 10 miles on the Town Lake trail/ side trails. I am volunteering for the Sweet and Twisted triathlon tomorrow, and didn't want to run in the afternoon. And there is a reason you bike before you run, because running trashes your legs! And I was dreading the Hwy 71 connection from Southwest Parkway to Bee Caves, and I was right. It was only about 3 miles, but mostly no shoulder, hilly and fast moving cars. The downhill part going 42 mph was just as scary as the uphill part trying to keep up with N and G who had waited for me at the start, which was really nice of them. Because if you get hit by a car it's good to have witnesses and friends to call the ambulance.

But I survived that, though the adrenaline rush took a lot out of me. Bee Caves is a nice road though, and had a good chat with G before it got more hilly and we separated. But once on to Mopac and then Southwest Parkway heading home, I was low on water and energy. And no stores where I needed them. I should have stopped, even when I was only 5 miles from home, because I think I was already dehydrated. I had water in the car, and drank about 1/2 gallon as soon as I got there. But the last 5-10 miles I was hurting.

And no way was I going to do any Mopac loops. I was toast, and sat in the grass for 10 minutes, drinking water, and eating a clif bar, before I was even able to stretch a little. And it says something, when instead of looking forward to the big post ride meal, all you want is a shower and a nap.

It is a bit of a downer, since the training had been going so well, to have a rough, too short day. But to take home a lesson- don't run before the bike! And I won't be riding on 71 again. I can do out and backs on Southwest Parkway and Bee Caves, or start up north, or Parmer, or Johnson City, or a lot of other options. And I have 5 more >50 mile bike rides to come, so I will get another shot at it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week #6 Longhorn Training

Swim 2.5; actual 0.5 at Barton Springs- still babying the shoulder, though it feels fine.

Bike 4.5; 5.3! Two AM spins and the long bike.

Run 3; 4.1! Hill run, brick, and long run.

Core 1; 1.5! Core, stretching, and yoga.

Total 11; 11.5!

Long bike 40-50; 43.

Long run 8-10; 8.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Training weekend

So some triathletes (including most T3ers) plan on doing long weekend workouts- the long bike on Saturday and the long run on Sunday. They like that it is in order of what you will do on race day. They like that is preloads your legs so they are heavy for the run. And it allows for lots of group togetherness. With my work schedule, I have not been doing this, and usually doing my long bike on Sunday, with a long run on Tuesday or Friday. And of course, I haven't been all that consistent, except with the long bikes- I have been pretty good about getting the distance in there.

So this weekend, I was all excited to have a real T3 training weekend. 40-50 on the bike, 8-10 on the run. And I did it! 43 on the bike and 8 on the run. And because I'm not at anyone else's speed, I choose to start early on both days to get some time in before the sun came up and it got hot, and that worked out really well. I was able to complete the distances, but at the same time, still see (and be passed by) all the other T3ers.

The run this morning at Town Lake- I started at Barton Springs and ran clockwise. It was only 80-85 and overcast, which wasn't horrible, but super soupy with humidity. This is the first time ever I've gotten prune hands without being in water. I was wiping the sweat out of my eyes so often, and it was so humid that my hands never dried. So by the end of 2:15 of that, my hands were puckered and pruney. That's actually pretty gross!

Finally I was done, and had a nice soak and stretch at Barton Springs. Then a shower- I actually remembered to get all my stuff together so I could shower there. Then breakfast tacos and home for a nap. I was done. And right now, the most sore and tender are my feet- I think they got pruney as well and it was really painful to walk on the rocky sidewalk at Barton Springs right afterwards. A little sore in the butt/hip area too, but not horrible.

And now I feel official-like. This is what most of my teammates have been doing all along, and I can understand now how prepared they must feel for their races. This is hard, but I think it will help me get where I want to go!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Group Ride

A great group ride this morning. A little disorganized, with different groups starting at different places, at different times. I started at 6:15, to get 45 minutes in before meeting up with the 7am Akins group, but I misjudged it and arrived at 7:05, and they had already left. So I waited a little bit and stretched, then decided to take off and not wait for the 7:15 group that started at Kiker to reach Akins. And that worked out pretty well. I rode off and on with a couple of different packs, but wound up getting dropped by everyone eventually. The good thing about an out and back is that you can see everyone coming back.

So I did 42.88 in 3:11:25. Average 13.4- very good for me! Max 29.2. I really like the Kyle route because it's close to my house and familiar, it's relatively flat, and coming back is mostly more downhill, so I feel like I'm flying and it's easy. And it did feel pretty easy. I could have stayed out to hit 50, but my plan was 40-50 today. And tomorrow 8-10. And that is doing to be plenty.
Oh, and I did feel strong, until I did the run brick afterwards! It was supposed to 15 minutes, but my legs were not moving, and it took me almost 20 minutes to do a little over a mile loop. Ouch.

I did talk to three new people on the ride, and that's always nice. Usually people are very friendly and relaxed on the bike, so it's a good time to chat up somebody new. Good times.