Sunday, January 31, 2010


"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." Anne Bradstreet

We usually don't have much of a winter, but this year, we have. And I'm tired of it. The spring will definitely be very pleasant this year. The very little bit of spring we have. Because I know it won't be long until I'm complaining about the heat. But for now, I'm complaining about the cold. I don't know how you northerners do it.

Around Christmas and New Year, I did several outdoor runs in temps of high 20s or low 30s. I don't like it, but I can handle it. I just bundle up and go and pretty soon my body heat takes over and I'm not so cold anymore. It's a different story on the bike.

I will once again be fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of the Team in Training Cycle Team. I'm doing a local ride this year since my main focus is Ironman Florida. The season kicked off Thursday night and the first practice was Saturday. For the new folks, it was an information session, but for the alumni, it was time to get back on the bikes outside.

I've been riding a lot on the trainer lately so I was excited to get outside and ride. Do I take the road bike or the tri bike? How far did I think I could go with the group? Was I ready for the hills? None of that really mattered much when I saw the temperature forecast for Saturday morning - high 20s or low 30s with winds of 14mph. Yikes!

Because of the winds and because of the roads we would be riding on, I felt it was best for me to take the road bike. The tri bike is lighter and in high winds I sometimes get thrown around a bit. We would be riding on the shoulder of a major road and I didn't want to risk it. Besides, on my tri bike I can't tuck in behind the big guys and draft like I can on the road bike.

Saturday morning I woke up and started layering the clothes. Underarmour - check. Fleece vest - check. Windbreaker - check. Gloves - check. Something to cover the ears - check. I drove to our meeting place to find out that only 5 other people brought their bikes and were prepared to ride. And I was the only female. Oh well. If I didn't ride now, I knew I wouldn't get a ride in and I had made the effort so I figured I'd see what I could do. One of the guys ended up staying behind to help with the clinic, so there were only 5 of us to ride. Three of the guys are actually training for a ride called the Triple Bypass in July and were planning on doing a longer ride. I didn't think I was ready for that yet. Luckily the one other guy said he would turn around early with me.

When we started out my legs had that "this isn't the trainer" feel. And when we hit some of the first hills they were asking me "what are we doing?" It took a little while to get in my rythym. When we hit the major road (the one that is very hilly), I tried to get behing the big guy so I could draft and he would block the wind. I did everything I could to stay on his wheel. I did for a while but lost him on a downhill and couldn't catch back up on the next hill. At that point I felt like giving up and turning back. But I kept thinking to myself, "You have an Ironman to train for and there is no giving up on race day. No matter what. You can do this." I also kept repeating a phrase that those of you from beginnertriathlete are probably very familiar with - HTFU.

We regrouped at the top of a hill. One of the guys and I decided on a place to turnaround and the three others decided on their route as well. Our turnaround spot wasn't much further and I was very happy when we got there. Turning around meant I was on my way back to warmth and it also meant the wind was now mostly at our back. It's amazing the difference the wind makes not only in the effort you have to put forth, but in the way the temperature feels. With the wind at our back I was still cold, but not shivering like I had been. I knew I could make it back.

All in all I ended up with just over 20 miles. I would have liked to gotten in more, but it will come. The days are starting to stay light just a little bit longer and hopefully I'll get some warmer days in the near future where I can get out in the afternoon and get in an outdoor ride. It's nice to have the trainer and the treadmill, but I much prefer to do my workouts outside when I can. Yep. I'm ready for the spring.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

3M Half Marathon Race Report

It is the illusionthat we can go no faster that holds us back." Kenny Moore

When I did my first half marathon in 2004, it took me almost 3 hours. I was undertrained for that one and walked a lot, so I knew I could get faster. And with each half marathon, I did. Three years ago I ran a half in 2:05 and I knew I was close to breaking the 2 hour mark. I signed up for the 3M Half Marathon in 2008 hoping to break that mark because this race is known as a fast course. That year I came in at 2:00:40. Last year I came in at 2:00:55. It was very frustrating knowing that I was so close, yet couldn't break 2 hours. So once again, I signed up to try again.

This morning, I left the house early so I wouldn't get caught up in the traffic going into the parking garage. I got there early and sat in my car for a while to stay warm. Last night, a "cold" front blew in. The temps really weren't that bad (high 40s or low 50s), but the wind was horrible. said the wind was 16mph out of the NNW. The bad part of that is it made it feel a lot colder than it was. The good part is that the wind would be at our back for a good portion of the point-to-point course.

The race was suppose to start at 6:45, so at 6:00 I got out of my car, dropped of my clothing bag with warm clothes for after the race and headed to the port-a-potties. The lines were short at the time, so I still had some time to wait for the start. I was in shorts, a tank, and a long sleeve top. But I was cold. So, I joined some others behind the generator for the lights and kept a little warm. Then one last time I hit the port-a-potties again and got in line for the start. Even among the bodies, I was cold and couldn't wait to get moving.

And then we heard the announcement. The wind was so bad, it was blowing the baricades over which was allowing traffic through on parts of the course. The city would not let us start until the issue could be fixed due to safety concerns. So there we stood. Freezing. Wanting to run but not being able to. The lady next to me said she was leaving if we didn't start in the next 10 minutes. I'm not sure what happened to her. I was thinking the same thing myself, but stayed. I told myself at that point that I didn't care what my time was, I just wanted to get going and get warm.

And finally an hour late, the gun went off and we took off running. At first, my feet felt numb from being so cold and standing on them for an hour. But it felt good to be moving. I had lined up between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacers and just hoped I could keep the 2 hour pacers behind me. But I told myself with the cold and wind that if I didn't break 2 hours today that it just wasn't meant to be.

When I hit the first mile marker I hit my split button and saw 8:43. I was surprised. I felt like I had started slow, but didn't think I could hold that pace for 12 more miles. I slowed a bit to have a 9:24 mile two. That mile was also uphill and into the wind. Then we started back downhill and mile three was 8:54.

Mile 4 was 8:56. Mile 5 was 8:23. Mile 6 was 9:17. It was at this point I was almost wishing I had done the relay of the race so that I would be done, but I told myself to just keep running. No walking.

Mile 7 was 9:04. Mile 8 was 9:10. Mile 9 was 9:11. Mile 10 was 9:12.

Again, I was wishing I was done, but I knew if I kept this pace for the next 3 miles I would break 2 hours. So I told myself what I've been telling myself during my training runs, "You can do this for 30 more minutes. You can do anything for 30 minutes." And I kept going.

Mile 11 was 9:02. I guess I got excited and ready to be done because Mile 12 was 8:55. I knew I was close. I slowed down a bit that last mile, but when I saw the finish I started speeding up. The last 1.1 mile was 9:42.

And just like that I broke the 2 hour mark. Official chip time was 1:57:55. I am very happy with that time and felt good after the race. I got my medal, got some water and gatorade and ate some recovery blocks from Cliff and headed back to get my car.

I guess I no longer have the illusion that I can't go faster.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Challenging Weekend

"My body immediately reacts to a lack of exercise. 'Take me outside' it cries; 'let me out'". Paula Zahn

This weekend was the first of many challenging weekends we will have this spring with the kid's volleyball and soccer tournaments. Madison had her first out-of-town volleyball tournament.

Ever since December 26th, I had done a swim, bike or run every day.....until Friday. Knowing we had the tournament and knowing the hotel had a gym, I packed enough clothes to run each day we were there. I was planning to run Friday evening once we arrived at the hotel and got checked in. What I didn't count on was lots of rain and leaving the house an hour later than we planned. By the time we got to the hotel, it was time for the parent meeting. By the time we were done, it was 9:30 at night and I was still full from our late dinner. The streak was broken as no workout got done.

Saturday morning we were up early for the girls' first game of the tournament. They had three games and were done around 2. They played awesome, winning 2 of the 3 matches. As we were leaving, some issues arrived that caused us to be later getting back to the hotel than planned, but I headed to the exercies room anyway. It was a TINY room. I managed to get in 45 minutes on the treadmill. Then I showered and we went out to eat.

Sunday was another early morning. The girls unfortunately played the #1 ranked team of the tournament. They played hard, but it wasn't enough. After a 2 hour break they played their other two games. Again, earlier issues of the weekend had an affect on the girls emotionally and they lost the next two matches as well. They were a player short so Madison was playing front row and back row. They played their hearts out and were exhausted. The parents decided to take the girls downtown for some Tex-Mex and let them bond as a team. We had about 25 people for dinner. But after eating Tex-Mex and getting back late, there was no way I was getting on the treadmill. And I needed it after sitting at the games all day.

Monday morning my body was screaming, "I need a workout". Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me) we had someone bang on our door at 6am. Obviously they had the wrong room, but now that I was awake I decided to head to the treadmill for an hour run and then meet the girls in the lobby for breakfast. I got in my run and felt much better.

Then it was off to the final day of the tournament. It was win or go home. The girls won the first two matches and made it to the finals. And the final match went to 3 games. They fought so hard, but were sooooo tired. They ended up with second place in their bracket. We were all so proud.

Today it was hard to go back to work and I think it was hard for the girls to go back to school. Madison said she almost fell asleep in class. And they all looked sluggish at practice. Me? I feel better after getting back into my workout routine. My body needs it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Enough For Today

"Jesus said, 'Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.'" Matthew 6:34 (NRSV)

Every morning before I leave for work, I read a devotional for the day. A few days ago I read one from The Upper Room that I felt applies to Ironman training. The quote above was the verse for the devotional. Following is the rest of the devotional:

In my backyard is a small pond that I made a few years ago. I decided to direct some of the rainwater runoff from the roof of our house to the pond, using plastic drainage pipe. The pipe was 100 feet long and would need to be buried underground. I did not want to spend the money to rent a trencher, though the ground was full of roots, making the job difficult. After an hour of digging with a pick and shovel, I realized that I didn't need to dig 100 feet all at once. I could do a few feet each day and, eventually, I would complete the job.

I have often found that a particular task seems too great when I look at it in its entirety. However, when I break it down into smaller parts and do just what I can do today, I can complete the task over time.

Jesus encouraged us to deal with today's concerns and to trust him for the rest - for all that we need in the future. When I trust God for one-day-at-a-time strength, what at first seems impossible becomes more than possible. It becomes accomplished!
Mike Smoot (Virginia)

To me, this applies to Ironman training in the sense that you have to do the day-to-day workouts and not worry about race day. When most people first get into triathlons, completing an Ironman seems impossible. But,if you do the work required each day, then on race day you WILL accomplish your goal.

So that's what I'm going to do. Follow the plan. Do the required work each day and see where it takes me. And if I complete the scheduled workout I can say, "Enough for today".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Got Spoiled

"Once you have established the goals you want and the price you're willing to pay, you can ignore the minor hurts, the opponent's pressure and temporary failures." Coach Lombardi

Being off work last week spoiled me in more than one way. I enjoyed "sleeping in", which for me means sleeping until I wake up on my own. No alarm clock. But I usually can't sleep past 7:00am. Last week I think I even slept until almost 8 one day. But the real way I got spoiled was that I got my workout in first thing and then was done for the day. This was good for two reasons.

First of all, getting my workout in first thing in the morning means that I had no excuse later in the day to not do the workout. It was already done. And while I'd love to get in some workouts first thing in the morning on any given day, I'm not to the point where I'm willing to do that - YET. I know that day will come, but not now. I get up at 5:30 as it is. I'm not willing to get up any earier until I get into the heart of Ironman training.

The second reason getting the workout in first thing has to do with the weather. We have had some unseasonably cold weather for us. The day after Christmas my run was in 29 degree weather. And that's the weird thing. If I get up and get dressed to run in the cold, and go out and run in the cold first thing, I don't mind. I know that I'll warm up as I go and that when I get home I can take a nice warm shower and then I will be warm the rest of the day. But, if I get out in the cold and know how cold it is and then get warm again before doing my run, it feels so much colder getting out in it. I can't explain it, but it's hard to make myself run in even 50 degree weather after being at work all day. Knowing I have to get back in the cold is tough, but that's what I did today. I got home from work, got dressed for cold weather running and headed out for an hour long run in the low 50s. I know that may be warm for some of you, but it's cold for us. And it's only going to get worse. Thursday and Friday we are suppose to have high temps only in the 30s. And it's suppose to get down to 19. You won't find me outside running in those temps. Go ahead and call me a wimp. That's why I own a treadmill.

And back to the quote at the top - when I was out on my run today I got a side cramp about 20 minutes into the run. Normally I would have stopped and walked to see if it would go away. But I know that when I stop to walk, I have a hard time getting in that running groove again. Knowing that I will face cramps, pain and doubt during the Ironman, I kept going. I slowed my pace some, but I kept going. That cramp stayed with me for probably 10-15 minutes before it finally went away. But I ignored the minor hurt because I have a goal. And that goal is always on my mind.

Friday, January 1, 2010

In With The New

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it."

A new day, a new year, and a new goal to achieve. This will be the year of the Ironman, and this will be a year of preparing. I'm excited about the year, but at times still wonder what I've gotten myself into. But, I know if I do the training, I will finish the race on November 6th.

In the meantime, I have a half marathon in 3 weeks, so I started out the new year with a 14.5 mile run. I did something different this morning and set my watch to beep for intervals of 4/1. I know I'll walk some during the marathon of the Ironman and I'm thinking about training with intervals for it, so I thought this morning's run would be a good time to try it out. I actually felt good the whole time and was ok with my average pace. I won't do intervals for the two half marathons I have coming up, but I may try it at my HIM in April and see how it works.

Here is what my year looks like at this point:
January 24th - 3M Half Marathon
February 14th - Austin Half Marathon
March - a couple of pay rides of at least 60 miles
April 11th - Capitol 10K
April 25th - Lonestar 70.3
May and June - long bike rides
June 21st - Lake Pflugerville Sprint Tri
July and August - long bike rides
Possibly another HIM about 2 months out from IMFL
November 6th - IMFL

I am lucky in that there are many supported pay rides in the spring and summer and many of those have the option to do the full century distance. I'll be doing as many as I can, depending on soccer and volleyball schedules for the kids.

Whatever your year has in store for you, may you prepare well so that on race day you will achieve the success you desire.