Sunday, January 27, 2008

3M Half Marathon. Ouch.

Well, I have to start this off with saying that Amanda Lovato motivated me to put up a quick post on todays race. She must have had one up within 3 hours after finishing...impressive. So here it goes, right after my breakfast and ice bath.

I was expecting a lot out of myself, I have to say...I started realizing this when on Thursday, I had a mediocre Tempo run and Saturday, a downright crappy 'easy' run. I think it threw my confidence for a small loop, because I felt a bit out of sorts on Saturday. The past 2 months have been devoted to my marathon goal and things have been going great, actually beyond my expectations..thus, of course, I had high expectations for today...I was hoping to run a 1:16...or faster.

I woke up bright and early (I heard Des say once that you know when you 'bounce' out of bed it will be a good day...I think the opposite holds true for me...I usually see 4:00-something and I think 'WHY DO I DO THIS?'..and proceed to have a good race anyway)...going on, I was up and atom at about 4:30, before my alarm. Had some toast with jam and coffee and a then Brad (James), Cindy and Pat came by and we all piled in the car. Derick was sitting this one out and spectating/coaching. We arrived around 6:00, and I waited 20 minutes or so to do my 15-20 min warmup jog. Felt good but I don't get too worked up over warmup jogs, they are what they are...on to the race.

I saw a few friends @ the start including Desiree, Chris-Badass-Kimbrough, Wish, Pat (still making me laugh), Amanda, and a few others...but I was pretty nervous. I have learned that I tend to perform best when not terribly nervous @ the start line, crap. The gun sounded and we were off. I felt strong but man, the elite women took off like they were being chased! Yikes, I didn't hold a candle to them however I went through my first mile in 5:50. Being that it is supposedly 'the slowest mile', I thought 'OK this is good, settle in.' When I saw that the second mile was about 6:00, uh...that had me a little worried.

And so it goes, I proceeded to keep running, while this course is predominantly downhill there are a few short 'ups' to keep you honest. I just could not find a smooth and quick gear today. I came through 6-miles at about 35:05, which is not bad but I was somewhat struggling to hold this. To be honest, it sucks at this point in a race...a few more miles went by and I really contemplated quitting. And then I'd tell myself, "I do NOT quit races. That is the easy way out and you don't learn a thing. Keep pushing, stay with it and don't give up. Only 'x' more time, you can do anything for 'x' minutes." I think I told myself to go for a 1:17+, and when I saw that slip away, I told myself go for a PR (1:18.30)...I saw the finish line and dropped what little bomb I had left, and that slipped away. Then I just got pissed. :) I pushed in to a 1:18.46, I believe...not too far off my best but it was far off what I had hoped.

So I cross and I am angry, tired and discouraged...but I decided to walk away from the finish line and mope in private. I found a place to sit for 10 minutes or so, got all the negative self-talk out of the way and then went to see my friends. I had to start to see the bigger picture. I am training for a marathon, in which I want to hold 6:22 pace (I think). I felt like I could have held that today, but I sure as hell could not hold my 'goal' of 5:45 pace. That is OK, I have not been training my body for that. Additionally this race comes at the end of 3 pretty hard weeks, including the 3 longest runs I have ever done..not to throw out excuses, not at all but considering all of these factors, perhaps my body is simply tired and ready to start resting. It was a great effort, an excellent training day and now I will use the information from today (pacing strategy, nutrition, etc) to prepare for the marathon in 3 weeks. When it's done, put it behind you! The bigger picture...I am lucky to be out doing this, I am extremely lucky to have so many amazing people around me supporting me and the time on the clock does not define who I am. We all know these facts, but sometimes we just need a little reminder.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I have found that the past few weeks, I have had more time on my hands. I am not sure where it all goes because I have still felt rather 'busy' (what? instant messaging with my mom? noooo.....) but I have been using the month of January to do some Bikram Yoga classes. I started these back in Colorado Springs, maybe...oh....5 years ago. I did them for maybe 3 weeks. I HATED THEM with a passion. They were so tough, I mean why would you purposely go into a room of 110+ degrees for 1.5 hours and do all of these extended strength-type poses? With a bunch of other sweaty people, nonetheless? Well, I picked them back up last winter (Dec '06) after we moved to Austin because a local place had $29/1 month unltd. I have to say, something changed in my 5 year lay-off. While I cannot say that I 'love' it, I can embrace it knowing that it serves my body well. If you have not tried it, I do recommend trying a few classes. Some things to be aware of, however, before you dive in.

1) Do not try to do these classes in the midst of a really heavy triathlon training schedule. One sport, you can handle it...and work them in selectively with regards to your training days...but if your legs are enduring cycling, running and (overall body) swimming fatigue, you'll struggle in here and it is another workout added to the week. Not recommended.
2) Hydrate before class. If you drink too much in class, you'll feel sick. Trust me.
3) Don't look around. Not sure if any of ya'll have done it, but there are some rather thin and um...well,...rather too thin? people in these classes sometimes. Additionally some are human-gumbys and can do insane things with their bodies. I am as stiff as a board compared to them, but I still push myself to MY limits. Since you're all virtually naked (minimal clothing), you'll be judging yourself if you look around too much. Just look at yourself in the mirror and your posture and poses and be thankful that you can do this stuff at all. It is not easy.
4) I could go on and on but...essentially, I do think that these classes are advantageous in that they work on our flexibility (which as endurance atheltes we can all improve upon) and I firmly believe they can help with overuse injuries, as well.

So...give it a shot if you have not done it. Since most of December and January have been devoted to running for me, and the cycling and swimming are purely recovery and very easy, I have thrown in Bikram Yoga classes 2-3x/week as a good cross-training activity. I'll never be Gumby, but through the blood, sweat and tears (ok maybe it is not THAT bad....) I do know I am doing my body a huge favor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So Much More

...So, I just got back from a run. I did 4x1-mile on the trail here in town, Town Lake Trail. It felt great, as did my long run on Sunday, which considted of 19 (?!) longest run ever. When I was finishing up today, after I had completed my last mile repeat to which I was grooving to Rusted Root's "Virtual Reality" (who wouldn't feel good running to that song?), I had this slight smile on my face. I had just felt so strong in the workout, and it made me really happy. I could not wait to call Derick and tell him how well it had gone. (Technically, I don't have a 'coach' but he often times gives me advice or will help 'tweak' my workouts so he is the person I usually call if it goes well...and my mom, of course). Anyway, it got me thinking as I had had this same feeling of elation or giddiness on Sunday, when I was finishing my run and looking at my time, realizing that the week prior I had done 16.5 miles, this week 19 miles, and only run an extra 10 minutes...woa, that is progress.

Anyway back to my feelings of elation. I was cooling down, running towards RunTex and on the home stretch. A common question that I am asked is "Why do you do it?"..'it' being training and racing. Yes, it is an awesome feeling to accomplish ones goal, to work hard all season (or for years on end) and then see the 'reward' all come together in one race. But, it comes down to so much more than that. While accomplishing 'big goals' gives us confidence, I gain that much if not more from the day in-day out training. Struggling through hard days, or weeks, and then seeing that 'light' when we have great workouts and achieve the goal of the workout if not surpass it. Doing these 'little' things makes me realize a) I CAN achieve my goal for the race (I may or may not, but I do believe that the performance is in me...) and b) I can achieve almost all that life hands to me, whether it be sport-related or not.

So, try to remember this when you are heading towards your next workout...or challenge with work, a relationship or anything else in life. Stick to the task at hand and have faith that doing your absolute best will pay off in the long run. And stop every so often and appreciate your abilities and the gifts you have. I think that we sometimes go through our day-to-day routine so focused on the next 'task at hand' that we forget to stop and appreciate the moment. The moment may be full of pain or challenge, but once you finish it, you become so much stronger for it. Use these little 'daily successes' to give you confidence that you have all of the tools to achieve something bigger.

That is my rant for today. Now I am off to get poked by needles...that is, acupuncture with Karen Smith. If you haven't tried it, I recommend it. It's not scary, as some people (...Derick, ahem...) may think. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Vacation and Austin Marathon

Yes, lack of consistent blogs for awhile on my part. I guess this comes with the holidays and the ‘off season’. I am not sure if triathletes get much of a real ‘off-season’, simply because (I know personally) I enjoy swimming, cycling and running, and well we always have some type of variety in there! Nevertheless, I think it is SO important to force ourselves to have some down-time and simply a change of pace/routine for a good month or two out of the year.

Thus, after finishing with Clearwater 70.3 World Championships, I took some down time. I then made the decision to train for the Austin Marathon (see? we cannot stay away!). I did at least not ‘officially start’ the training until early December, and with the race being February 17th, this is more of a ‘crash training’ effort for the marathon. So I wrote up a decent training plan and have done my best to stick to it. I did a 2-hour run when I was up in Indiana visiting my parents over Christmas, and I then had (after a 3-week build) a recovery week. During this week, before New Years, I decided to kick a 10 lb. dumbell quite hard, either jamming badly or breaking my middle right toe. Stupid, I know, but it happened. I limped around for a weekend which fortunately coincided with our drive to Santa Fe, NM for New Years. Luckily, I was able to ski for 2 days (one day at Taos, one day at Santa Fe) and the toe didn’t hurt too much…plus, would have been pretty painful to run so it all worked out beautifully! We returned from New Mexico on January 2nd, and by Friday amazingly enough, I could run again. How nicely it all worked out! Almost like I ‘intentionally’ hurt my toe so I could enjoy skiing w/o the guilt of not running.

In any case, as I ramble away…the marathon training is going well, as I did my longest run ever this past Sunday of 16.5 miles. Whew~! I even took a gel at the 1:10 mark, and it seriously felt like I was on drugs for about 30 minutes. Those gels raelly work! I am keeping my cycling and swimming to a bare minimum, and even picked up Bikram Yoga (Davenport) here in Austin for a 30-day membership. Great! It is incredibly challenging, but with only running being my ‘key’ workouts right now, I think it is a great compliment to the run training, pounding and aches and pains which seem to crop up.

I’ll try to keep the updates coming a bit more regularly. Getting back to the beginning of this post, while at times I feel ‘guilty’ for the lack of cycling and triathlon preparation, well…’tis a long season, and I am staying fit! Sometimes, it is good to challenge ourselves in a different way. For me, it is a run focus/challenge. And no matter what happens, I will learn about myself, my capabilities, limitations and well…experience some new horizons in the process. Try something a bit different during the off-season! It will refresh and invigorate yourself, your training and I believe lengthen your season. :) Thank you for listening to my rambling!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Engaged. :)

Well, I am not the type to get all obnoxious about these things...but, it is very exciting. On December 4, the night before my big 3-0 birthday, Derick proposed to me! It was completely unexpected, to say the least. He had made me dinner of prosciutto-wrapped prawns, polenta and asparagus...and of course, wine. That did not throw me off, as he likes to make nice fancy dinners for 'special occassions'. We ate dinner, and I had some gifts that people had sent in the living room. He pulled them into the kitchen and said, "Open your gifts!" I of course wanted to finish the dishes (he loves to make a big mess when he cooks). I told him I wanted to do the dishes first, it is NO fun to open gifts then have a big old pile of dirty dishes. (What's that you say? I should not have been doing dishes in the first place, it was my birthday?....) Anyway, as I am cleaning away, he says to our cat, Shackleton (the Explorer), "Shackleton, maybe THIS will make her stop doin' dishes..." And then I turned to my side and there he was kneeling down w/ a beautiful little ring in his hands! YIKES!! WOA! I was shocked. Floored. And, very very happy. I had wanted this for quite some time, but I firmly believed, until it was 'right' for both of us, it was not yet the right time.

So that is my big news as of late! We will get married in Indiana, near my parents place, next September. Actually at an amazing old general store called The Story Inn, check it out! This was started by Rick Hofstetter, who was a swimmer at Indiana University back when my old swim coach John Crist managed the team (back in the day of Doc Counsilmen). Anyhoo...this place is beautiful, had tons of character and will be a lovely, rural and laid-back setting. I was very set on doing something at my parents place, too, as it is so pretty there, so we'll do the rehearsal dinner there. I am not sure what we'll 'rehearse' so to speak, it'll be a simple and quick ceremony and a big ol' party.

I added a picture above, while it is a bit ridiculous sometimes when I see girls oogling over engagement rings, this one is different and has a lot of character. And it has this 'hammered' look to it, so I cannot beat it up, it already is! :) :) I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and New Years. Thanks ya'll for reading!