Sunday, November 1, 2009

Komen Race for the Cure - Second Race for Second Base

This is actually my eighth Race for the Cure- my first in Austin. But this is my second race in less than a month that benefits the boobies.

The morning started off a little atypical for me:

1. I didn't visit packet pick up prior to the race, so I had to get my bib number and timing chip that morning instead of having it all prepped the night before.
2. I was running late- even with the extra hour.
3. I didn't rest the day before- I ran 8 miles for my long run (my longest distance without stopping to walk so far).

Given this, I was a little frazzled when I arrived and didn't have enough time to take my race shirt back to the car before the race started. So, I ran with it :-).
I warmed up by trotting from my car to the race site and I could tell that my legs were t-i-r-e-d. They felt heavy and uncoordinated.

Although I was on the Texas Hospital Association team (Protectors of the Holy Girls) I wore my Red Licorice gear. It stood out in the sea of black and pink. I looked around but couldn't find any of the other "Protectors" but I saw lots of clever t-shirts. "I'm With Survivor," "Protect Second Base," "The Rack Pack." I was amused because I just finished Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk where the protagonist learns many colorful euphemisms for breasts (several more colorful than others) and this was like a PG rated extension of that theme.

The run itself felt alright- not my best feeling race, but I reached two milestones. First, I set a new PR for non-triathlon 5k (36:38 - 11:44 minute miles) beating my last timed effort by 2:26! Secondly, this was the first 5k where I never stopped to walk. I ran the whole way! For many of my athletic friends, this is an everyday occurrence, but for me, it represents a goal that has taken two years to reach. Sure, I have been running over three miles without stopping for the last few months in my training program- but I'd never run a full timed race until today.

The race allowed the timed racers (about 1700 people) to leave a half hour before the majority of the participants (thousands- in the past as many as 20,000). This was wonderful! We didn't have to battle our way through the crowds to maintain a pace. Another first for a Komen Race- hills! I was not really expecting hills... These weren't killers by any stretch but my already achy legs protested grumpily.

A little after Mile 2, Marion and Jen, two of my Rogue training buddies, caught up to me. They were looking very strong. We chatted for a bit and they continued on at a clip that was just a little faster than I wanted to go. A little ways from the top of the last hill, Adam, one of my Red Licorice teammates, gave me a cheer and let me know the finish was just a half a mile away. I checked in with my legs- were they ready to kick it in yet?
Mmmmm.. not just yet.
I hit the top of the hill- now? Eh... not yet.
I rounded the corner and could see the finish line and the 3 Mile sign just ahead and my legs said- Do it!
Now, it wasn't an out and out sprint- it wasn't even a stride pace, but my legs kicked in and I finished strong.

The finish line funneled runners around to the food vendors where we loaded up on Yoplait and Lara bars. With each stop at each vendor booth, our schwag bags become heavier and heavier. Light up key chain, water bottle, magnetic picture frame- I became a consumer zombie. MUST TAKE FREE STUFF EVEN THOUGH I DON'T NEED ANY OF IT.

Finally, after the race, the Protectors of the Holy Girls regrouped at Mighty Fine Burgers for cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. And I must give props to Jen for drinking a milkshake in record time without suffering from brain freeze. Seriously- it never had a chance.

As I write this, I realize that the last time I participated in the Race I was still living in Sacramento.
My Mom was diagnosed in February 2006 with breast cancer and I did the Race that May- and so did she! In the middle of treatment she and my Dad walked the gentle loop around the Cal Expo Fairgrounds.

So again, today, I raced in her honor- and for my friend Marion who continues to kick my butt during our runs.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Inaugural Mamma Jamma Ride Against Breast Cancer

The day finally arrived for the Mamma Jamma Ride against breast cancer and it was time to make good on my commitment of 65 miles. Except it wasn't going to be 65 miles. A few extra miles were added to the final approved route making it closer to 70.

It was still dark when Skippy (yes, my bike is named Skippy- after the great grey racehorse Skip Away) and I arrived at Reunion Ranch- a good half hour drive from my house. I was surprised by how cold it was and was thankful I'd brought along a warm jacket and hat. But the sun was supposed to come out later. It would be okay. Famous last words...

I met with the other riders for Team Survivor for our team picture and then cheered on the century (100 mile) riders. They left an hour before the rest of us "slackers".

The "now 70 mile" riders and the rest of the riders rolled out at 8:30. I teamed up with two other Team Survivor riders who would be my companions for the whole ride. Jenny, Joanna and I were all about at the same pace until we hit the bigger hills and Jenny became a little red blip motoring off into the horizon.

The ride took us though some lovely rural areas and some longhorn pastures. I'm still awed when I see longhorn cattle. Not only are their horns magnificent, but their coloring is so unlike any other breed of cattle. Like the mustangs of the cow world, they epitomize the Wild West.

We cycled past a huge yard with a giant Great Dane loping along the fence like a pony and another field that had two fluffy Anatolian shepherds barking at us - warning us to keep away from the sheep in their care. I don't mind dogs barking at me when they are doing their job. And they stay on their side of the street. And they don't really bark too much. Or at all.

My only concern that day was that I wasn't prepared for the weather. It was probably in the 50's and my only source of warmth were my arm warmers and the 16 pink bracelets I wore to honor the 23 women who have fought breast cancer. Each time I felt like grumbling, I'd look at my arms and be reminded as to why I was riding in the first place.

There were signs all along the ride. Some counting us down to the next pit stop, others giving encouragement and still others simply stating the names of those with breast cancer. I was surprised by how some of the messages really moved me- just words on a sign. "You have no idea how strong you are."

Our first stop was the (joy!) Milk & Honey Day Spa pit stop at the 21 mile mark. We loaded up on Nutter Butter cookies and PB&J sandwiches, took a few pictures and stretched. My muscles were already stiffening from the cold.

We stopped at the Mellow Johnny's stop next. While we were grabbing some more water and snacks, a bunch of the SAG (Support and Gear) vehicles drove up. Valkyries! Lifeguards! Air Mamma Jamma! They were all decked out like parade floats- with the SAG members dressed in costume! Seriously- blond braids and viking helmets! Brilliant!

Our third stop was lunch. I'm not sure where along the route it was, I'm guessing we were close to mile 50 at that point. Galaxy Cafe provided some yummy sandwiches and cookies. They also had some carnival games like a ring toss and bean bag tossing- but we were still just too cold to be able to hang out for too long.

It was becoming a bit of a predicament- the faster we pedaled, the more the wind just blew through us, but we wanted to get through the ride! My thigh muscles were starting to wear out, in part, because I couldn't get them properly warmed up. But one glance down at my bracelets and I pedaled on.

Overall, the ride was a perfect blend of hills and flats for my first big ride. I had to drop into the granny gear on 2-3 hills but for the most part I stayed in the middle chain. On the flats we probably averaged 18-20 MPH or so.

We finally began to see signs counting down our distance to the finish "5 more miles!" Then, up one final hill, around one final left turn and down into the finish line crowded with volunteers, riders and supporters! David Smith, the Race Director hugged each of us and gave us our finisher's medal. It was a very emotional moment. I was tired and cold and I could have ridden another 50 miles, easily.

This ride was exceptionally well organized. There was never a doubt as to if we were on course or not. The volunteers, who were as cold as we were, were unfailingly enthusiastic and helpful.

Thanks to all who supported me for the ride- financially, emotionally and gastronomically (Nutter Butters are my new favorite cycling treat!). It was unforgettable and I am truly pleased with my accomplishment. I can't wait to do it again next year!

Here's a pic of my final mileage and my bracelets:

Jenny and Joanna, my partners in crime with our medals:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Austin Triathlon Race Report

It was somewhere along the second loop of the run course as I turned off the path from Butler Park and back onto Barton Springs when this thought occurred to me: Thank goodness U2 has been around for about 30 years! I could hear the U2 cover band, Mysterious Ways, playing at the finish line carnival. I knew they had at least 10 albums worth of music to play before running out of material- and with my run pace, I would need them to make it through at least "Achtung Baby" before I rolled in.

It took me 3 hours and 48 minutes to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon. Yes, that's a long time- but when I break the race up into its separate components, I was actually quite close to my expected times for each event.

Swim goal time under 40 minutes
Swim actual time 42 minutes

The water felt great and I only occasionally thought about all the turtles who were in for a rude awakening. The course didn't require me to sight every 3-5 strokes. Instead I could work on keeping my head down and sight less frequently. That is, until I tried to find the last buoy. The sun was right behind the last buoy making it nearly impossible to see. Fortunately the kayak volunteers pointed me in the right direction and I continued on my way. I realized on my way in to the swim exit that I could have given just a little more but no time to fret about that now- it was on to the bike!

I allowed myself some extra time in transition to grab a few SHOTBLOKS and water. My legs were still a little wobbly from the swim and weren't fully cooperative when I attempted to put on my shoes, but I finally got it. Then I trotted my by out to the mount line.

Bike goal time under 90 minutes
Bike actual time 94 minutes

As I pedaled away I could hear Lindsey C. yell my name over the bull horn, "Go Carol!"
The Congress Ave hill up to Mary Street came a little too early for my legs. Its not even a real hill-hill. Its more like a long bump but I was already feeling it. I knew, however, that between the return trip downhill and the flat route out to Austin High School, I'd find my groove. And I'll share a little secret with you: I hate being passed by anyone on a mountain bike. The way they sit upright and pedal along in too low a gear, elbows cocked out to the sides. Who do they think they are with their knobby tires? Find a single track, will ya?

I stayed a little conservative on the bike because I was concerned about my run. I've only run over 5 miles 3 times before this race. I've never run a 10k race so my first timed 10k would be this tri.

Run goal time: not last
Run actual time 1:23

It turns out that my 10k pace for this races was a full minute faster than my 5k pace at both the Danskin and Sweet & Twisted this year. Hmm. The first two miles were tough, really tough. Partly because it started on a dirt path, but more likely because I have not been incorporating enough brick workouts into my training. MUST ADD MORE BIKE-RUN bricks.
Then I heard Amy and Brnadon yelling my name and I knew I had to step it up. There was only one way to get to he end, and the faster I went, the sooner I'd be able to rest.

One of my favorite parts of the run is you can really see how hard people are working. You can give them an "atta girl" or a "looking good" and watch their stride pick up just a little. Second best part about the run: cold sponges! These dreamy foam squares were a key to keeping me comfortable during the run. Unlike Sweet & Twisted, I never felt dehydrated or overheated.

This run was a heartbreaker because I had to run PAST the finish line carnival and run for three more miles before I was done! I could hear the names of other racers being called, the music of U2 in the background and I beers being poured. Yes, really. I could hear that. Each frothy amber drop.

So around I went again, squeezing sponges over my head at the J&A rest stop, clomping over the dirt paths to Barton Springs Drive and ever so slightly picking up my pace. I wish I had timed the laps because I know my second lap was faster than my first. I hit the gas as soon as I turned back onto Barton Springs from S. 1st street. And the best part- truly, was breaking the finish line ribbon at the end of the race. I've never done that before and it was as good as I imagined it.

Despite what they say, triathlon for me is not an individual sport because it it weren't for these people (and many others) I would not have had the great experience I did:

Thanks to my Rogue coaches and Amy Marsh for preparing me for this race and cheering me on!
Ruth, Jen HB, Laura and Brandon

To my Red Licorice teammates and training buddies for cheering me on and witnessing my biggest race to date!
Stacey, Jen R., Jennie, Amber, Rebecca, Ron, Penny, Rachel, Leilani, Lindsey, Ron (I still do my side lying leg lifts!), Erin and Michele

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Countdown to Austin Tri

Yeah yeah, I know I owe you a race report from the Sweet and Twisted. Maybe I'll write more later but suffice to say that I enjoyed seeing all my friends but the race kicked my butt and really made me doubt my fitness for the Austin Tri.

Sweet & Twisted Results
Overall time - 02:14:20
500 meter swim - 00:13:41
15 mile bike - 01:07:10
5k run - 00:43:26
Overall Place - 354/495
Age Group Place - 94/125 (So many bad ass triathletes in my age group!)

However, those same friends plus a few others talked me into keeping my Olympic distance spot and not switching to the shorter, sprint distance. My last few workouts have given me some more confidence, too.

First, I ran a full 6 miles last Saturday and 7 miles yesterday and felt pretty darn good. The run course for Austin is flat and even- particularly when compared to the off road trails of Danskin and the races at Pace bend (Champions tri and Sweet & Twisted).

I know I can do the bike distance- I've been riding 25 miles consistently on my Sunday rides- and again, this ride only has two hills to speak of- three if you count the easy rise toward the Capitol.

Now for the swim- I know I can do this distance. I guess I'm most anxious about this because my wave starts so late that I'll be in the water with the Sprinters- which means I'll be on the course will a lot of Sprinters. And I'll be finishing after a lot of Sprinters. I don't want to be last. Uhg.

But the Olympic is important to me. It's been my goal race all year and if I chickened out and did the sprint, I don't think I'd have the same satisfaction. And I will have set a baseline for Olympics for next year. And I will have fun my first timed 10k.

So for this week its hydrate hydrate hydrate, responsible eating and (relatively) early bedtimes.

I know. I'm outta control.

Austin Triathlon Info

Sweet & Twisted Triathlon Info

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gearing Up for the Sweet & Twisted Tri!

It's Tuesday night.
Four days away from my birthday.

Five days from the Sweet & Twisted Triathlon.

Sunday's race a nice sprint distance: 500 meter swim. (300 m run to T1) 15 mile bike. 5k run.
The water levels are low so they've snuck a little extra run in there- but that may be to my advantage. It could get my legs a little more warmed up for the bike. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

I have a goal in mind. I want to break my 5k PR (personal record) with this race. Not my tri 5k- but my overall 5k. Today my PR is just under 39 minutes. I think I can do it.

Tonight's swim was really solid. We swam 5 100m's that I kept a near perfect 2:30 with :15 seconds rest in between each. We then pulled for 200 m as recovery and swam 5 more 100m that I, again, kept steady. With these times, I think I can do the 500m swim in 12-14 minutes (I mean it is open water, people).

Goals for the week:

1. Stay hydrated

2. Eat well- really well.

3. Train easy

4. Kick ass on race day

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday 8/1

Ah... August 1st. Two weeks before my 38th birthday. Thirty-freaking-eight.
I can't say its not as I pictured- since I didn't really think about what I'd be like at 38. But I know that I have lots things left on my "list" - including the Olympic distance tri.

I rate my overall workout a B- this week.
Made it to core, one out of 2 team runs (ran on my own today) and 1 out of 2 swims. Biking with Mamma Jammas tomorrow.
Core was a series of planks and pilates type moves.

Run was a variation on Ruth's ladder:
  • Ran about a mile to warm up, then
  • 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes recovery
  • 3 minutes hard, 1:30 minutes recovery
  • 2 minutes hard, 1 minute recovery
  • 1 minute all out, :30 seconds recovery
  • then a mile jog back to Rogue.
I didn't walk during any of the recoveries- progress!

The swim workout was another pretty solid effort, I think. Maintained a time of 4:55 for all three "steady" 200 m sets. And we're back in a 25 meter pool, woo!

I missed today's team long run but made it up later with the hound at my side. And in front of me.. and then on the other side. Although he's getting better at staying at my right on the trail- especially after the first mile or so. After the run, I let him play off leash in the quieter part of Auditorium shores and he did really really well. Came back when called, played well with others- even took a quick dip in the river.
The run was supposed to be 60 minutes but I think we managed only about 40- but its better than only doing 30!

Hoping to squeeze in 2 more runs this next week- for a total of 4. Need to be able to get through that 10K at the end of September's Austin Tri!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Not exactly the start I was planning on

After talking myself into getting geared up for these two athletic events, I have already messed up my training plans.
I missed today's 7:30 am run. The alarm went off, and I just wasn't ready to face the day. I didn't have a late night I just needed more sleep. So, another important practice wasted. I did take Johnny down to the trail for what I hoped would be a jog, but it was just too hot. I need to ADD run workouts to my week, not skip them.
Will try to get a 15-20 minute run in after tomorrow's J&A ride.

Then I was reminded that the pool we're practicing in is YARDS, not meters. Great. 25 years is roughly equal to just less than 23 meters.
So I swam 6 x 100 YARDS with my slowest at 1:55 and my fastest at 1:52 so pleased with my swim effort. Now to get that to translate to my run.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big September, Big October

Tuesday was a big day for me. With the encouragement of my coach and training buddies, I began to rethink the olympic distance at the Austin Tri instead of the sprint distance. I also formally signed up for the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride for Breast Cancer.

Labor Day, September 7th is the Austin Triathlon. If I sign up for the olympic distance I will be swimming for 1500 meters, riding a bike for 40 kilometers (roughly 25 miles, then running a 10k (about 6.2 miles). Seriously, who does this?
The good news is that it should be wetsuit legal- which makes that swim a little more manageable. Now I know I can do the bike. I completed a similar distance (slightly different route) earlier this year and maintained a decent 16.7 MPH average. But I've never competed in a 10k. Funny that my first 10k would be at the end of a tri!
But Amy thinks I can do it. Allison and Stacy think I can do it. So what if I walk more than I'd like- I know I'll finish.

Now for the Mamma Jamma ride. It takes place on October 10th and I want to do it right. To date, my longerst ride is 33 miles. I'm training for 65. Yeah. 65 miles. I rode with the Mamma Jammas last Sunday and I really enjoyed the company of the other riders. I also like that the training program is free! This makes me think that the spirit of the race is to encourage people to participate somehow- even if they aren't able to to the fundraising.
Uhg, Fundraising. Few things make me as uncomfortable as asking others for money. But I beleive in this cause. And I think I can make a difference in someone's life- So I will get over my trepidation, suck it up and ask the question.

So just a few more months of training before I ease off for the winter...

Training Notes:
Sun 7/19: 24 mile ride with Mamma Jammas (no time avail)
Mon 7/20: missed core due to work
Tues 7/21: swim highlight 100m = 1:45
Wed 7/22: missed run due to work, but was "lighteninged" out anyway

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shhhh... It's Twiathlon Season... I'm Hunting PRs...

Wow. That's is a twisty title isn't it? It's like Elmer Fudd meets Runner's World and I think it's only funny to me. I would say I'm hunting "twiathletes" but after my performance at Saturday's Champion's super Sprint, I have some serious work to do before I'm any sort of threat. It doesn't make things any easier knowing that woman in my age group are super competitive- and will be this way for the next ten years.

What didn't go right:
  • Didn't eat as well as I should have the 4-5 days leading up to the race. Next time: less processed food and more chicken and brown rice.
  • Poor sleep the night before: not sure if this was just nerves or what. I ended up getting out of bed a 2am and cranking the AC down to 68 to try to make it more comfortable. Next time: work on sleep patterns so 4:50 doesn't feel so damn early.
  • Swim- I never got into my long smooth stride. Next time: I'll take the time to warm up.
  • Bike - no hill power. Next time: time for hill repeat training sessions and time to get reacquainted with Southwest Parkway
  • Run- I had plenty in the tank for really run it out in the end. Next time- push it, even if its a short distance. Also, more bike-to-run bricks
What rocked:
  • I scored a great transition spot near Bike In/Out
  • I was properly hydrated and fueled for the race
  • Despite not finding my stroke for the swim, I met my goal of about 8 minutes for 300ish meters
  • Hearing my friends yell my name on the bike course
  • Hearing strangers and fellow competiors give me encouragement on the run
  • I finished strong- with a little too much left in the tank, but I have a better idea of what I'm capable of.
  • A Fireman's 4 in one hand and a vanilla frosty cone in the other
My race was a super sprint: 300m swim, 12 mile bike, 2 mile run. I finished about 15 minutes past my overall goal- so I'm considering this a reality check. Today I volunteered for the Olympic distance tri and watched both the amateurs and the pros/elites including two of my coaches: Amy Marsh and Brandon Marsh. Watching the elites was truly inspiring- fluid, powerful, strong. It makes me want to work harder. So what does tomorrow's run have in store? Hills? Sweet. Bring it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gimme More: SXSW 2009 (Wednesday & Thursday)

I was going to lead off with how important music is to me and how critical it is to my sanity and creativity but I really just want to get to the music so .. let's do this:

SXSW 2009 as heard through the ears of yours truly.

Wednesday night.
The goal was Echo and the Bunnymen at Emo's main room. I'd had a beer earlier at the Thirsty Nickel and watched a few songs by Boston frat rock band Lansdowne. Not awful. Not remarkable. They even had their fan base in front- college-ish looking guys in plaid shorts and golf shirts raising their Bud Lights in the air.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it into the show at Emo's. The long line of badge holders continued to grow as we wristbanders could only look on with scowling faces. But I learned an important lesson:
Learn what you can from your line buddies. I became line buddies with 4-5 people that night. We compared notes on past shows and what SXSW acts we planned to see (provided we could get in of course). It was as much a part of the experience as watching the bands themselves- and you can learn a lot.

I headed straight to Red 7 for the Found/Quack Media Party. (Found Magazine - go there. Wonder if you'll ever recognize something form your past. Dismiss it. Laugh it off. And find yourself checking the site on a semi-regular basis. Or maybe that's just me).

There I caught the end of the Hard Lessons' sweat inducing set. I need a second shot at these guys. They put on an energetic stage show and the guitarist/vocalist was the first of several acts to incorporate the tent supports into the act (he hung his guitar by its strap from one of the metal beams and let it play while he crawled like monkey above the crowd.
Lucero and the Hold Steady followed. I enjoyed Lucero quite a bit- but I'm still needing to be sold on the Hold Steady. The enthusiasm of the crowd is causing some dissonance with my perception of the band- why am I not into them?

Leaving the Red 7, I lingered at Emo's annex for Micachu- a girl who's making a name for herself in experimental dance music. I'm not going to rush out and buy her songs- but if she opens for a band I like, I'd arrive at the show on time to check her out again.

Peter Murphy was next on my schedule- I waited in line an hour with some really cool people and was finally allowed into the dark shadows of Elysium. Gay or British? Who cares? He owns it. Peter's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Neil Diamond's which I find both alarming and comforting at the same time. Primarily due to my Electra-like fascination with Neil Diamond. He didn't sing any of my favorites off Cascade- but he played to the audience the whole time- with extended dramatic poses and arched eyebrows. He engaged the audience- responding to questions and asking his own.

Forgive me. I am totally blanking on what I did between about 8:45pm and 11.

At 11pm I went to the Velveeta Room for Elliott Brood. The Canadian trio has been referred to as a "black grass" or "hellbilly" band. With the incorporation of mandolins, banjos, a pedal bass and the obligatory train drumbeat- they twist all preconceived notions once they begin singing. Between the singer's raspy vocals and their lyrics- you know this isn't some other alt-country band. Not only that, but for one number, they passed out pots and pans with wooden spoons so the audience could bang along. Awesome, I'm keeping mine in the bar.

So its true. I came for the Brood but I stayed for Doucet. Luke Doucet. The man can write songs. And the man knows his way around a guitar. the lyrics of his songs are dark, introspective, and direct. "You've got to have a heart to have a broken one." Ouch. Now come over here and tell me all about it, sugar.

Again... I saw some more bands that I can't remember offhand- until it comes to Phil Marshall. an unassuming fellow until the music starts. Of all the 6th Street bars that hosted unofficial SXSW showcases, Spill was one of the best equipped. From what I could hear, Phil presented some of the more commercial stuff up front- but I felt his set got better with each song. He's got a sweet longing in his voice without sounding desperate or whiny.

Again, I lose a little time. Unsure if I called it a night after that or if there were more bands... I'll check my notes. And include anything I left out in the Friday write up.

Treat yourself to something new:
Elliot BROOD

One of my favorite songs

The video that started it all (note that the character Joseph Bower, the character who gets the telegram in the beginning of the video, is my great grandfather. Read more about him and the bridge.

Why I ended up with a baking pan and a wooden spoon at the end of the night

New discovery: Luke Doucet

Luke's other project, Veal.

Phil Marshall

Stay tuned for Friday and Saturday posts!