Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Rookie Tri 2017 - Relay Style

For the most part, I train for triathlons year round. I usually do at least one swim a week during the “winter” months, a couple of bike or trainer rides and a few runs. I don’t start getting into “race” mode until April or May and usually do my first triathlon of the season in June at the Lake Pflugerville triathlon.

So, when I saw a friend post Wednesday night that she needed a cyclist for her relay team at The Rookie triathlon today (Sunday), I thought “what the heck”. I figured I could use it as a hard training day and go out as hard as I could. Despite the fact that the race is called “the Rookie”, the bike course is anything but. There are several decent rollers and some downhills that lead to sharp turns and a steep climb. I haven’t ridden outside much this year and definitely not on hills, but I figured if all I had to do was the bike, I could really push and see where my fitness is right now.

That’s the mentality I had for a few days. Saturday morning we went to packet pick-up and still had a team of three. Saturday afternoon was beautiful, so I took my SUP board out to our local lake. I wanted to paddle around it just to see if I could. While I didn’t hug the shoreline, I did go around the lake and probably went 2 miles or more. When I got back to the start, I did a little SUP yoga and then just lay on the board soaking in the sun for a while.

When I got home from the lake, I got a text from my friend letting me know our runner was now scheduled to work. Due to my friend having an Achilles injury at the moment, she asked if I could run, too. Sure, why not. Although I haven’t exactly been running a lot lately and definitely haven’t been doing any speedwork. But, I knew I could get it done.

This morning, I got to the race site and set up my transition area. We left transition when it closed for the pre-race meeting and national anthem. Then the race started. Since we still had an hour before the relay swim wave went off, I ate my second breakfast. A little while later, I headed back to transition to get all of my cycling gear on so I’d be ready when she came out of the water.

When she got to the relay exchange area, we got the chip off of her and onto me and I grabbed my bike and headed out. I knew other relay folks had left before me and I wanted to see if I could catch any of them. I have raced on the course before and drove it again on Friday, so I knew I could get some speed on the first few miles. It felt good to pass people.

Not too far into the course, there is a decent downhill into a 90-degree right turn that then leads to a fairly steep uphill. People that haven’t trained on hills (or at all) or people that aren’t clipped in or don’t have strong legs, usually have to get off and walk up the hill because they have no momentum going into it. I knew that being the last swim wave would have me in the back with some of the less experienced cyclists and I just hoped that no one would stop right in front of me.

As I turned the hill, the coach in me came out. I called out, “Use your gears, find an easy one and keep pedaling. Don’t stop.” I was trying to encourage everyone since your mind is usually the thing that tells you to stop. Most people just kept pedaling, but there were several that were walking.

There were some nice spots in the course where I was able to gain some more speed, going 25-30mph, but the climbs negated any of that. The final climb back to the start is another one that most people walk and by then, your legs are toast. I knew I wouldn’t need to walk it, but I could definitely feel my legs by then. I was glad to get to the top and finally get back to transition.

Since I was doing the running, too, there was no need for a chip swap this time. Two things slowed me down a little, though. In a short race, I don’t usually wear cycling gloves because it takes too long to get them on and off. Since I wasn’t swimming today, I decided to wear them, so I still had to take them off. Secondly, since my last triathlon, I’ve switched running shoes. Before, I could wear my shoes to the race site, slip them off still tied and then slip them on (still tied) before the run. The ones I’m in now have a stiffer back and I’m not able to do that. Since I wasn’t expecting to run today I hadn’t switched to triathlon style shoelaces, so I had to actually tie my shoes. Oh well.

I headed out on the run knowing that my legs were fatigued. As I said, I haven’t been doing any speedwork or anything lately, so I knew I wasn’t in “race” shape. The run is on all grass and dirt path (not my favorite), so a little tricky as well if you don’t want to twist an ankle. My goal as I headed out was to go as fast as I could without needing to stop and walk. Afterall, it was only for two miles. I also tried to stay in the shade of the trees as much as I could since it was getting warm by now.

When I hit the mile marker, I started counting my steps (a mental trick for me since I know about how many steps I take each mile). I just kept going and finally saw the finish line.

While we didn’t place, we did have fun and it was a good test of where my fitness is right now. I know what I need to work on before Lake Pflugerville. I’m a little bummed because the results didn’t catch me crossing the mat from T1 to the bike, so I have a combined time there, but from everything I can see, I had the 2nd or 3rd fastest bike of the relay teams. When I checked my computer after the race it looks like I averaged 16.7mph, which on that course with where I am in my training right now, I’ll take. I can’t say the same about my run. But, I know I’ll never run a 5:35min mile, which is what the first team did, so I’ll just do my thing and be happy.

I’m so glad I was able to step in and race with Cortney today. It was fun!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lumo Run Ambassador

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so I thought I’d fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

With both kids in college and funds being a little short, my racing schedule has slowed down a bit, but my training really hasn’t. I’m the type of person who does better when I have a goal, whether that be an upcoming race or otherwise. Everyone says that as you grow older your running speed begins to slow, but when does that start? I don’t feel like I’m at the point where I’ll never get faster, but I have felt like I’m at a stagnant place.

One day when I was on Facebook, I saw a post for Lumo Run. I had not heard of them, but it sounded interesting, so I checked them out. The Lumo Run sensor attaches to the back of your shorts and tracks all kinds of stats while you run. Christmas was coming up, so I decided that was one of the items I wanted.

After I got my Lumo Run sensor, I couldn’t wait to get outside for a run and see what it said about my running. Luckily, we had a pretty mild winter so on December 28th I headed out for my run. For the first run, it tells you to do a short run at an easy pace and not to worry about anything. Well, the weather was so nice that I ended up doing a 6 mile run.

When I got back and checked the app to see what it said, my pacing seemed to be pretty normal for my regular runs. I’ve always known I’m not a “fast” runner, so it wasn’t any surprise to see my cadence was low and in the red zone. Oops. My bounce and rotation were in the caution zone, but my braking and drop look good (which was a little surprising to me).

I looked further into the cadence to see if it varied much from the beginning of the run when I was fresh to the end of the run when I was a little more tired, but it didn’t vary much. That’s one thing I am – consistent.

The Lumo Run also gives you some drills to work on to improve whichever area it is you need to work on. To improve my cadence it told me to work on Line Toe Taps, Front Skips and High Knees. I’ve always hated high knees, but they say the thing you hate the most is the thing you need to work on. It also listed some drills for each of the other categories and even gives you a short video to explain how to do it. It’s like having your own coach in your phone (and sometimes even coaches need coaches).

Not long after Christmas, I saw that Lumo Run was looking for ambassadors. I've always thought it would be great to be an ambassador for a company I believe in, so I applied. I had nothing to lose. A few weeks later, I got the news that I was selected to be one of their ambassadors for 2017 and I couldn't be happier.

I got a shirt and a water bottle so I can represent Lumo Run on my runs, as well as a nice little tote bag.

On every outdoor run, I’ve worn my Lumo Run so that I have feedback. I could tell when I was tired as more red and yellow appeared in my stats and I could tell when I felt good as more green showed up and I even hit several records on one run.

The other thing I like about the Lumo Run is that you can set the notifications to talk to you during your run. It will give you reminders of what to work on, updates on distance and pace and will buzz at you when you meet your goals. And while sometimes you just want to tell the thing to shut up because you really are trying, it’s nice to be pushed, even if it is by an electronic device. I've learned a lot from Ms. Lumo.

Fast forward over time to my run Tuesday. While not completely an apples to apples comparison as it was a 3 mile run versus the original 6 mile run, I compared the data and liked what I saw. While still not great, my cadence has improved and consequently, so has my pace. My bounce had also improved from the caution zone to the green zone. Rotation is something I still need to work on.

Stay tuned for more updates in the future. I can’t wait to race with it and see what my stats are.

If you are interested in learning more about what the Lumo Run sensor can do for you or if you want to purchase a Lumo run sensor for yourself, visit or click here:

Use the code: BR10 for $10 off!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Rugged Maniac 2016 - Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

For a little over 10 years now, I’ve run road races, done cycling events and completed many triathlons. I’ve done one trail run, which I enjoyed. When I started teaching boot camp three years ago, I was always on the lookout for ways to get stronger and ways to change things up. Then I got hooked on watching American Ninja Warrior and the Spartan race competitions. I thought it looked like fun.

With two kids in college, my race schedule has been scaled back. I still try to do some local races, but traveling for a race is challenging. So, when I saw that the Rugged Maniac obstacle race was coming to the Austin area, I checked into it. I posted on Facebook to see if I had any crazy friends that might want to do it with me because I just didn’t think doing it alone would be any fun. I got a few bites, but when Jerri, one of my boot camp chicks, said she was in, I knew it would happen. We signed up, convinced another one to sign up and got another friend to sign up as well.

I checked out the website to see what the obstacles would be like and in the few weeks before race day, Jerri and I met to do some additional training, turning neighborhood playgrounds into makeshift obstacle courses, practicing on monkey bars, working battle ropes and even rock climbing. We wanted to be able to give the course our best shot.

Things come up and by race day, it was just Jerri and I who would be racing. Dalton happened to be coming home from college the weekend of the race and my friend from out-of-town offered to transfer her registration to Dalton. It’s right up his ally, so I asked him if he would be interested. He was in.

The race location is about an hour from our house. We had the second wave of the morning, so we left the house pretty early. My parents had decided they wanted to see what it was all about and joined us for the trip to the race site.

A “cold front” had blown in Thursday, so this morning’s temperature was in the low 50s. I knew we would get wet and I would get cold, so I went to Goodwill on Friday and bought some tights, a tank and a long sleeve Body Glove top to wear.

When we got to the race site, we got checked in, got the other registration transferred into Dalton’s name, found Jerri and her family and made sure we were ready to go. We noticed that you had to complete an obstacle before the race even started. At marathons, they break you up into corals that are separated by ropes. Here, each wave got into a staging area before their wave went off, but you had to climb a 4-foot wall to get into the staging area. Off we went, jumping over the wall and feeling excited.

I didn’t think Dalton would really stay with us and I was right. Before we even got to the first obstacle he was ahead of us and it wasn’t long before I lost sight of him. I found out later that he finished 2nd or 3rd in our wave. And he is “out of shape” from not playing soccer all of the time and didn’t even train.

Anyway, Jerri and I were there to do the race together. We approached the first obstacle – the Shoe Catcher. This obstacle was meant to get you wet and muddy right from the beginning. The property the race was on had a small tank (or pond – depending on where you are from) and we had to run/walk through the edge of it. When I saw the obstacle online, I thought we would be at least waist deep in the water, but it was more like shin deep. The mud was slippery, but Jerri and I managed to get through without falling. After that, we started running toward the next obstacle. At the beginning of the course, the obstacles were fairly spread out.

The next obstacle was Jacob’s Ladder (climbing over an a-frame structure) and then straight to the Quad Burner (up and over several mud hills). A little while later we had to climb over the Barricades (about a 5-foot wall with a roller on top). My trick was to jump up high enough to lay my stomach on the roller to keep it from moving while I swung my legs over, but there were also people that would hold it still for the next person after they got over. Next up was the Trenches – several trenches dug into the ground. They started out fairly narrow and got wider toward the end. There wasn’t much room in between them to get a running start, so it was all jumping.

After we rounded another corner, we came upon the Tipping Point (basically see-saws that you had to run up and over). We went over one and then went through the Ninja Escape. If you’ve ever watched American Ninja Warrior, these are the starting obstacles for many of the courses - slanted wood that you had to jump to without hitting the ground. Only our obstacles were fairly close together. It was still fun to see how it worked. Then we had to go over another see-saw.

After that we saw my family waiting by the next obstacle – The Gauntlet. For this one, you had to run across a floating pad while big oblong swinging bags tried to knock you off. I lost my balance at one point, but only fell to my knees. I got back up and made it to the other side. Then it was up and over another mud hill.

Jerri and I had gotten kind of warm at this point and thought about ditching our long sleeve tops, but I’m glad we didn’t. The next obstacle was the Head Scratcher where you have to crawl through water and mud underneath barbed wire. It was real barbed wire, so you definitely had to stay low, but it wasn’t as low as I expected. However, the water was ICE COLD. Those of you that know me know how much I love cold water (note the sarcasm). This was the thing that I was looking forward to the least. When I hit that water, I just crawled as fast as I could to the other side. Luckily, with a little bit of running, it didn’t take long to warm back up.

Next up were a couple of obstacles with cargo nets. The first was another a-frame type structure with a cargo net over it. That one was easy to do. The Blobstacle wasn’t as easy. Think of a round inflatable with a cargo net tightly over it. You couldn’t really get the cargo net away from the inflatable, so you couldn’t get your feet on it. This one was all about the arms. I just pulled myself really hard and got to the top. Going down the other side was easy.

Next we had to go under netting. I think the idea was to crawl under it, but we arrived at the same time as a group of about 4 other people. The person in front was walking and lifting the net up and we just formed a line and walked behind her. The tricky part was keeping your footing in the mud, but we managed to do just fine.

The next obstacle was called Bang The Gong. From the website, it looked like we would be jumping off a mini trampoline to try to hit a gong and then would land in water. Well, there was no mini trampoline. You had to get a running start and use your leg strength to jump up and hit the gong. There were gongs of different heights as well. I grazed mine and then landed in water that was deeper than I anticipated. At least it was a little warmer by now.

At Pack Mule, we had to pick up a sand bag and carry it in a loop to get it back to the start. The website says they weight 25 pounds. I told Jerri we should have grabbed two!

Next up was the Napoleon Complex – an 8-foot wall you had to climb over. On the wall there were two 2x4s running horizontal. One was down low for your feet to step on and one was up high to grab with your hand. Again, most people were in groups and were pushing each other up or pulling each other over. With Jerri and I being just two, that wasn’t going to work for us. I wanted us to get over this without help. So, I just hoisted my leg up to the high one and used a combo of leg and arm strength to get high enough to put my other hand over the top. From there, I had it. Jerri did the same thing. Proud moment for us!

Next up were more crawling obstacles. Jerri told me she was somewhat claustrophobic, so we decided to go through the same tunnel. Turns out it wasn’t so bad. From one end of the tunnel to the other, you could see the light. And, you didn’t have to crawl. You just had to hunch over a lot. Then it was down a steel tunnel (where we did have to go on our belly) into another mud pit and under more barbed wire and then UP a tunnel on the other side. Mud on a metal tunnel means slippery. Lucky for us, there was a rope running down the tunnel that you could use to help pull yourself up. We both emerged from our tunnels at the same time. I hope the photographer there got a good picture of us.

Next up was climbing up and over a 15-foot ladder wall. Climbing is easy for me. It’s the floating water obstacles that get me. Which is funny since I do so much yoga and love to do yoga on the stand up paddle board. However, for yoga (even on the SUP) I’m not moving, just balancing. I tried to decide how to tackle the Frog Hop obstacle. Go fast and hope I make it or try to land in the middle of each square, get my balance and then do the next. I decide to go slow and that was the wrong decision. I ended up in the water on this one.

And then we got to the Ringer. Jerri and I both knew going in that this one would be the one to give us issues and it was. We had practiced on monkey bars, but monkey bars don’t move and monkey bars aren’t muddy. When we got there, my family was there to watch. Even Dalton was there as he had finished quickly. He told me the same thing you hear on ANW – keep the arms in an “L” – meaning don’t let the arms straighten out all the way. I had hoped to at least make it half way, but that didn’t happen. I slipped right off those suckers and into the water. Jerri was right behind me. At least now we know what to practice for next time!. Yes, I did say next time.

The next obstacle was fun for me. I grew up with a trampoline and still love to jump on them, even still doing back flips. The next obstacle had you jumping on a trampoline as high as you could up a wall to grab the cargo net and climb over the top. That one was fun.

And then we got to the one I was looking forward to. Leaping over fire. I’ve seen people’s pictures and always thought it would be cool to have a picture like that. The only thing was that I didn’t see one of the professional photographers there to take a picture. My family had moved over and had phones and cameras, but they couldn’t get really close. I like how it turned out.

And just like that we were to the last few obstacles, which were connected. We had to run up a warped wall (just like on ANW, but with mud), climb across another cargo net and then slide down a water slide. They had volunteers at the top of the wall to grab your arms and help pull you up. Since I wasn’t sure I could get up by myself, I lined up, made eye-contact with a guy at the top and said, “I’m coming to you.”. I took off running, grabbed his hands and just like that I was over. My mom tried to get a video, but it didn’t turn out too well. I’m curious now as to how far I actually got on my own and whether I could have done it without help. Maybe next year I’ll find out.

I waited for Jerri to follow, we climbed across the final cargo net together and when her family and mine were at the bottom with cameras ready, we took out seats on the slide. The volunteer counted down and we slid down the slide, holding our hands in the air.

I knew we would land in water at the bottom, but I got completely soaked.

We got out of the water and headed to the finish line. Honestly, crossing the finish line was kind of anti-climatic after all of the obstacles, but we grabbed our medals, took a finish picture and then went to get clean, dry clothes to change into. I guess I’ll have to get another medal rack to hang my obstacle course medals on now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

TriAggieland 2015

Those of you who know me well, know that I am a Texas A&M graduate. My daughter is currently attending A&M. And I bleed maroon. When I went to school there, we didn’t have a fancy rec center. Sure, there was a pool, but no one really used it. Besides, the only use I had for a pool in college was to lay beside it or on a float in it.

Fast forward to my daughter’s high school years when she played volleyball. One of her tournaments was at the rec center on campus and I was well into triathlons at that point. When we walked in for the volleyball tournament and I saw the natatorium, I was in awe. I just stood at the window looking in and wishing I could swim there.

When my daughter and I attended her new student conference, I secretly packed my swim gear. I thought we could get in on a guest pass during the conference and I hoped there might be time for me to get in at least a short swim. That didn’t happen for two reasons. The first reason was there just wasn’t time. The new student conference was jammed packed with sessions to attend. But even if there had been time it wouldn’t have happened due to reason number 2. The pool was under construction. Bummer. I vowed that someday I would swim there. I just didn’t know when.

And then I saw a post about the Tri Aggieland. And guess what? It’s a pool swim. In the natatorium in the rec center. There was no question now that my daughter is a student there that I would do the race. I was excited, but also a little curious. Out of all of the triathlons I’ve done the past 10 years, they’ve all been open water swims. I’ve never done a pool swim in a triathlon, so I wasn’t sure how it would all work.

When I registered, they asked for my estimated swim time for the 400 meter swim. I track all my workouts, so I knew pretty spot on what my swim times should be. I didn’t want to be one of those people who estimate faster than they really are and get passed by everyone, but I also hoped that by being honest, I wouldn’t be the one passing people.

The race was Sunday, but I headed to College Station on Friday to spend some time with my daughter. After she got off work, we headed to dinner and I could tell we were in a college town in the middle of Summer. We got some nice entertainment in Chick-fil-a when a drunken frat boy decided to teach all the kids all the foul language that’s not in the dictionary. I was just glad I had parked far away from him, because neither he nor his friend should have been driving.

After dinner, we drove the bike course. I wanted to see what it looked like, but also see if it would be safe to ride Saturday morning. Then we went back to her apartment where I got to meet one of her friends I hadn’t met yet. Later that evening we went with her friend and her friend’s mom for some frozen ice. Yum!

Saturday morning, I rode the bike course. There was one area that I was concerned about crossing, but as I approached the intersection, there wasn’t a car in sight. I crossed the road and made the loop. The roads heading back into campus were pretty torn up and once back on campus, there were several turns to make, so I knew it would be interesting on race day. A two-loop course of only 6 miles meant it might get crowded.

After a shower, we went and grabbed some lunch and then I headed off on my own to pick up my packet and meet a friend of mine from college. She lives in Bryan and was racing as well, so we had agreed to meet at packet pick-up. I think we chatted over an hour, but it was great to catch up with her.

Then it was time to head to dinner. The local chapter of Team RWB was hosting a pasta dinner at one of the local restaurants, so it was nice to finally put a face to the many names I’ve seen on Facebook.

After dinner, it was time to get my stuff ready for the race and get in bed.

Sunday morning I woke up early. No matter what race I do, I like to get there as soon as transition opens and know that I have everything the way I want it. I ate breakfast, headed out to load my car and got ready to leave. I turned the key and nothing happened. This was not good. I tried again but nothing happened. I knew I couldn’t deal with it before the race, so now what. I also knew a friend of mine was in town for the race, so I called and asked them to come pick me up. Whew!

We got to the race site and as we were unloading, one of the RWB folks from tri camp in April pulled up next to us. It was good to see him. I also ran into my friend from college. That’s what I love about triathlons. Pretty much anywhere you race, you are going to run into someone you know.

When transition opened up we headed in and found that this race did bike racking by number. I got VERY lucky and was actually on the end near where I would rack if I had the choice. Score!

I got everything set up, hit the port-a-potty, met the RWB group for a pre-race photo and then headed inside. The natatorium was just as beautiful as I imagined. My only question now was, “do I jump in to get use to the water?” or “do I wait until it’s my time to swim and just deal with it?”. I HATE cold water, and I knew that being the place where the college swim team practices, the water would be cold. Cold to me anyway. I debated back and forth and finally just decided to jump in. It was cold, but not as cold as I thought it would be. I immediately got right back out. And then I shivered from the water.

Finally, it was time to start “lining up”. Our race numbers, in theory, were in order of our swim times that we had indicated on the registration. I was number 275, so I knew it would be a while before I got in the pool. The invitational wave of men would go first, then the invitational wave of women, and then the rest of us. I grabbed a seat next to my friend and some other RWBers. When the invitational swimmers started, I wondered how they had decided who was in that wave. There were some that obviously belonged, but there were a couple that looked like they were struggling.

Then it was time for the rest of us to go. I was watching as people got in and it was quickly evident that some people had way overestimated their swim time. If you are in the first 100 and you can’t even swim a full 400 meters without stopping to rest, you are there because you put a false time on your registration. I decided there was no way I was waiting until 275 to go. I was faster than a lot of the ones already in the pool, so I sneaked my way into the line. The race director had told us we could self-seed ourselves race day, so that’s what I did. I asked several people what their expected swim time was and when I found someone similar to mine, that’s where I stopped.

With people starting every 10 seconds there were a lot of people in the pool. I jumped in when it was my turn, waited for the “go” and took off.

It wasn’t long before I passed the guy in front of me. I was concerned about getting to the walls and turning because we had to swim under the lane line into the next lane to go back. For most of the turns there wasn’t a problem, but there was one turn where there were about 5 of us at the same time. Open water swim tactics served me well and I just plowed on through.

I glanced at my watch when I got out because I didn’t know where the timing mat would be and I wanted to see what my swim time was. It was a little slower than I hoped, but not bad. And I was right about the timing mat. We had to run out the door of the natatorium and to transition before we crossed the mat.

Swim time (including the run out): 9:22

My bike was racked very near where I entered transition from the swim, so it was fairly quick to get the bike shoes, sunglasses and helmet on and get out of transition.

T1: 1:01

I took off on the bike feeling good and feeling like I needed to give it everything I had on the straight and smooth roads. I knew the backside of the course would slow me down. It felt good and I was very glad I had ridden the course the day before. When I got to the backside I noticed they had the potholes marked, so I just kept going and did my best to avoid the holes. I headed back to campus and made the turn for the second loop. I felt really good about the ride, passed a lot of people and barely got passed.

Bike time: 35:19 for a 19.7 mph average

Boom! That’s the fastest bike split I’ve had in a race AND on a two-loop short course. I couldn’t be happier.

T2: 1:02

I headed into transition and quickly changed shoes, grabbed my race belt and was back out on the course. I had been so concerned about how the swim would work and what the bike course was like that I really had no idea what the run course would be like. All I knew was that it went through parts of campus, and from having gone to school there, I knew most of it would be pancake flat. What I didn’t know starting out was whether it would be a one-loop or two-loop course. It was evident pretty quickly it would be two loops.

Being July, in Texas, the temps were starting to climb and I knew humidity would be a factor. I knew I wouldn’t have a fantastic pace, but didn’t want to take it easy either. There was one part of the course where we went under one of the main roads that separates the east and west sides of campus, so there was a little incline, but not bad.

Being two loops, however, my family was not ready for me when I came out of the tunnel to head back toward the start to begin my second loop. Oh well, they knew to watch for me the second time.

Run time: 26:19 (9:12 min/mile pace)

I absolutely loved doing this race and heading through the finish line. I waited for friends and other RWBers to finish before heading back to get my car taken care of. Luckily, it was just a battery and nothing more. I’ll definitely do this one again as long as the schedule allows.

Total Time: 1:13:05 for 6th place in my age group.

By the way, I was 150th overall. I was 169th on the swim – almost 100 spots ahead of where I was seeded based on times sent in.

Gig ‘em!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2015 Lake Pflugerville Triathlon

On Father’s Day, I did the same thing I’ve done on Father’s Day since 2007…….I got up early and headed to Lake Pflugerville for the Lake Pflugerville triathlon. As usual, I was one of the first ones there. The only difference this year was that we had seen a lot of rain recently, so our normal parking was not opened. A new subdivision is being built across the street from the lake, so police were directing us into the subdivision to park. I got a fairly decent spot, unloaded my stuff and walk to transition.

Once in transition it seemed something was off. Then I remembered that the city had expanded the parking area, which meant more rows in transition. Once I realized that, I headed to the row I wanted to be on (on an end of course) and started setting up my stuff. The rows began to fill and people started squeezing in. It never ceases to amaze me how some people just move other people’s stuff so they can get a good spot despite arriving so late. Umm, not my stuff. I stay next to my stuff until transition closes.

I had been watching the weather and there was a chance of rain today, but it seemed like it would hold off until after the race. The pre-race announcements seemed to indicate the same every time they would give an update on the weather. I hoped that was true.

When it was time to exit transition, I headed to the swim start. There were several Team RWB members racing, including one who had attending tri camp in April. We talked while waiting for the race to start.

My swim times in the pool have come down lately, so I was hoping that would translate into open water and I would have a good swim today. I lined up near the front like always, but this year it seemed like we started in more shallow water than normal. When the horn blew, we had to walk a little into deeper water before starting to swim. When I came out of the water, I was a little disappointed in the time on my watch, but I just kept plugging away.

Swim time: 11:55

I headed into transition, put my cycling gear on, grabbed my bike and headed off for the ride as fast as I could.

T1: 1:53

I ride the bike course all the time in training, so I was hoping to have a great time today. I felt like things were going well until a couple of miles into it. I turned the corner by the Cele bar-b-que store and started heading up the hill. And that’s when the rain started. I was hoping it would be a quick little shower and be gone, but no such luck. It started pouring. So much that I could feel my socks squishing in my shoes. I had decided before the race that if it rained, I didn’t care what my time would be. Safety first for me. I kept pushing on the straights, but when I came to any curve, I slowed down more than I typically would. The intensity of the rain varied during the bike, but it never really seemed to stop until just before I was done.

There is one point where you ride down the access road of the toll road. As I was reaching the end of that and getting ready to turn, I saw an ambulance go through the intersection. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. I made it through the construction zone and started pushing again. When I got closer to the lake I could see where the ambulance had gone. At the last turn to head back to the lake sat the ambulance, a fire truck and a police car. I wasn’t even sure I could get through. As I approached, I slowed down. A lot. I watched the cyclist ahead of me and saw that they were letting us through, so I followed. I made that last turn really slow. I did not want to hit the paint and fall. I was glad to climb the last hill and turn into transition.

Bike time: 45:45 for an 18.4mph

I took off my helmet and changed my cycling shoes for my running shoes and off I went.

T2: 1:12

I knew the run was going to be brutal. After the morning rain, the sun was now trying to make it’s way out and it was humid. I don’t do well in humidity. I just told myself to run the whole way and not worry about it, and that’s exactly what I did. I was very happy to finally see that finish line.

Run time: 27:53 for a 9:18 pace

Total Time: 1:28:41 for 11th in my age group and 298 overall.

It wasn’t my fastest Lake Pflugerville finish, but it wasn’t my slowest. It was, however, the first triathlon I’ve done in the rain. As many as I’ve done, I’ve been lucky. I’ve done cycling events in the rain and definitely running races in the rain, but never a triathlon.

I hung out for a while to watch some of my friends finish, but then the weather seemed like it was going to turn again. With a couple of flashes of lightning, I decided it was time to head home.

Thanks for the fun. I'll be back next year.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Stand Up Paddle Yoga Teacher Training

Last year I saw an advertisement for SUP Yoga Teacher Training. I really wanted to do it last year, but I wasn’t 200-hour certified at the time, and that was one of the requirements. After getting my 200-hour certification in February I started keeping my eyes open and researching if or when this training would be offered this year.

As soon as I found a class being offered, I checked my calendar, saw the all-clear and signed up. The training was the weekend after the RWB tri camp, so two weekends in a row would be really busy, but I knew it was something I wanted to do.

The weather has been pretty rainy this Spring, so our Friday night session got moved to the yoga studio that was hosting the training. We got to meet each other and find out how the class would be conducted. I was excited.

Saturday morning I headed downtown, ready to get out on the water. We went over some basics on land and then headed out for some practice teaching on how to paddle, stand up on the board and look for spaces to practice. We had a short class and it was everything I imagined. Those that know me, know that I LOVE being on or near the water. Doing savasana on a SUP board, floating in the water with the sun shining down – well, it doesn’t get much better than that!

We headed back to the dock and ate some lunch and talked about some more safety basics before heading out for our afternoon session. We got to practice teaching each other and then we learned how to properly fall off our boards and even rescue someone that has fallen off and is injured or unconscious. The balance poses are obviously more challenging on the board, so that’s what most of us did to practice “falling” off the board. I was amazed, however, to find out that I could actually do headstand on the board. Wahoo!

Sunday, we met back downtown. We had a little bit of storming in the morning which kept us off the water for a bit, but we got to cover some of the business side of things. Then we headed out to teach some more and be lead through a little bit more challenging class.

I’m so happy that I took the class and am excited to take some friends out and maybe even teach classes. If only I had enough money to buy my own boards!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Team Red, White and Blue Tri Camp 2015

For the fourth year in a row, I had the privilege of helping to coordinate the Team Red, White and Blue Triathlon Camp. This has been an amazing experience in the past, and this year it was no different. The difference this year for me, however, is that I was also asked to step into an assistant coaching role. I did the normal planning and organizing of a lot of things prior to camp, but we asked another one of our volunteers to coordinate the rest of the volunteers, and once camp started, I was in the role of coach.


Thursday morning I headed over to the hotel where we would do registration and check-in. Luckily, some other volunteers were in town early as well and in no time we were ready for the athletes. And it was a good thing because a large number of then arrived between noon and 2:00 pm. As they arrived, they received their bags with all of their goodies, their nametags, and if they were receiving equipment, they got that as well. Those that were getting bikes got fitted so that they would be ready to go for the skills clinic Friday morning.

One of our awesome volunteers offered to grill hamburgers for us, so when the burgers were ready we ate dinner and the athletes had time to start socializing and getting to know one another. They had already been talking to each other through a private Facebook group set up for the camp, so it was fun to get to see everyone in person.

After dinner we had a more “formal” gathering where everyone introduced themselves and shared a little something. As always, there were some amazing individuals present. Then everyone was off to get settled (or do some more socializing in the lobby) and get ready for Friday.


Friday morning first thing was a leadership session. This is part of all of the athletic camps that Team RWB has, and is a part of what makes RWB such a successful VOLUNTEER organization. Since I have been involved in coordinating the activities of camp in the past, I had never sat in on a session, but this year as an assistant coach, I was asked to be one of the small group facilitators. Because of that, I needed to be at all of the sessions. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it at first, but in the end, I’m glad I did it. I really got to know the athletes in my group and it was interesting to hear the different perspectives on leadership from military veterans vs civilians.

As soon as we finished the first session, we headed out to the lake to begin the bike skills clinic. This is always a fun session. Some people are very comfortable on the bike and have been through some of the drills before, but some are brand knew on the bike and only learned how to clip in and out of the pedals yesterday. Luckily, the skills session is always on grass so that when (notice I didn’t say “if”) people fall, it won’t hurt so bad. Most people fall at some point or another. Trying to pick up bottles from the ground, trying to ride as slow as you can, and other skills challenge your sense of balance and down you go. But it works. More about that later.

After the bike skills clinic, it was time to get in the water. I’m such a weenie in cold water that even with a wetsuit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get in. But, I suited up just in case anyone in my group needed help. Derick (the head coach) and I were assigned to the beginner group. Most of the people in our group had little or no experience with open water swimming and we were there to help get them comfortable in the water. There were some challenges our group faced, but we worked through them and I’m proud of our group.

Then it was time for some much needed food and a lecture on training and nutrition. The run clinic was next. Lots of info on form and several skills to put that form into practice.

Finally it was time to head back to the hotel for a quick, and I do mean quick, shower and then head to dinner. Lots of hungry athletes eat lots of pasta and bread!


Saturday morning started with another leadership session. Actually, we combined two sessions because the weather was taunting us and we didn’t want to get caught on our bike ride in the rain. Fortunately, the whole plan worked out and after the leadership session was over, it was time to ride from the hotel to the lake. Yes, on public roads with lots of traffic. Remember me saying that some of the folks had never been clipped into a bike before? Well, that skills clinic gave them the confidence they needed to do the ride. I’m proud to say that everyone made it just fine.

Once we got to the lake, we regrouped and then separated into smaller groups for additional riding. Stronger, faster, more confident riders went out for a longer loop, while the newer riders did a shorter loop.

When everyone made it back to the lake, there was a transition clinic (with an actual transition set up) and then lunch again. Fuel is important for training, right?

We had a special guest come in to go over some functional fitness and show us some exercises that are beneficial to triathletes and then it was time to swim again. After the swim, it was time to shower and head for dinner.

Saturday night’s dinner is a special one. I can’t really get into the details, because if you don’t experience it, you don’t truly understand, but it’s a great time of connection for the athletes and can be very emotional. But let me tell you, this is where the relationships are formed. And despite the fact that it’s a triathlon camp, the relationships are really the important thing. The fact that these veterans learn that they aren’t the only ones going through some of the experiences they go through is comforting and they now have many new friends to talk to. It’s such an amazing transformation to watch.


Sunday is the culmination of the camp. Sunday morning is a race for the athletes where they get to put everything they learned together and complete a triathlon. We set the parking lot up as a transition area, they get body marked and get race numbers, there is an athlete meeting……everything just like on race morning.

The weather was iffy this morning and was really foggy, so the call was made to shorten the swim to keep everyone safe. Since the water was a little rough, Derick and I got our wetsuits on. We wanted to swim with our group. There were multiple people in kayaks and on SUP boards and a couple more volunteers in the water to help ensure everyone stayed safe in the water.

The race got started in waves just like races. It was awesome to see the excitement. Athletes started swimming and in their own time finished the swim. The support of the volunteers on land and of fellow athletes is so wonderful to see.

As the athletes exited the swim, they went into transition and then headed out on the bike. It didn’t take too long before the first one was heading back into transition and out on the run.

We had an official finish line set up and everything. Athletes came through and got high-fives and congrats. For some, this was the first triathlon they had ever done. As in races, some athletes are faster and some are slower, but the difference at this camp, and in general with RWB, is that no athlete is left behind. There was a volunteer/coach in the water until the last athlete was out. There was a volunteer on the bike riding with the last cyclist until they were safely in. And there was more than just one fellow athlete willing to run in with the last runner. Just pure awesomeness.

After the race, there was more food, discussion on the race, etc. We were blessed this year in that one of our volunteers is the owner of a local bike shop. He helped out tremendously with bike issues during the weekend and at this point did a bike maintenance clinic, including how to change a flat tire. It’s something every cyclist needs to know how to do, but unfortunately, most do not learn how until they experience their first flat. After packing bikes to ship back home we transported the athletes to yoga.

This is another one of my favorite parts of camp, since I get to teach yoga to the athletes. I’m a little biased, but it’s a great way to end camp. Stretching them out and giving them some quiet time to relax and unwind.

After showering, it was time for our final dinner. This one can get emotional as well since it’s almost time to say goodbye. Friendships have been made and the bonds have been formed. No one wants to leave. But all good things must come to an end and we know that we will see some of them at next year’s camp – as volunteers!

‘Til next time!!!!

photo credits to Scott Strance at