Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I am Athena

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post from this past weekend with the picture of me standing on a 2nd place podium holding hardware. I would like to clarify (not minimize or qualify) what that podium spot is and what it means.
I race in a category called Athena (Goddess of Power & War). This category is for women who weigh 150+ pounds. There I said it, I weigh more than 150 pounds. I am 5’9” on a muscular frame and I own every single one of those pounds proudly. There is also a category for men over 200 pounds called Clydesdale, Ken actually raced in this division for his first duathlon but he is now safely out of that category and has no desire to return.
Few women register for races as Athena. I am not sure if they don’t want to admit publicly they are over 150 pounds or if they feel the category isn’t as dignified as age group or they just want to be in a more competitive group of women in their age group. My age group is 40-44 and let me tell you these women are FAST!
Racing Athena does not diminish me, my fellow competitors or the hardware I brought home with me. Athena is who I am. When I look at my fellow Athena’s who are mostly built like me with a taller frame, plenty of muscle and some gorgeous curves thrown in I am proud of them – some of which are pretty darn fast and most can smoke me on the run. I know a lot of Athena’s from previous races and most of them are Moms like me who came into endurance racing later in life. There is a misconception that Athena’s are fat girls and Clydesdale’s are fat guys but that is not what these categories were created for. If you question who is in these categories I suggest you come to a race and stick around for award presentation,  the men and women in these categories are tall, fit, strong and proud.
This past weekend there were ten Athena’s registered for the Olympic distance triathlon. The race director split the field for Athena’s under 39 and my category is Athena 40+. Two of the women in my category did not start the race or did not finish the race, their results are not posted. I came in second out of three. I was the first overall Athena in the water in both categories and I tied for third on the bike overall. When I collected my hardware the race director said “I can’t believe you would even go for this category”. I am not sure exactly what he meant by that but it sounded like he feels Athena is somehow less than age group and I imagine a lot of athletes feel this way. Many women finished this race before me. Many women were faster in the swim, bike and run. Most of them registered age group, many of them qualify for Athena. I walked away with hardware (trophy) and they received a finisher medal.
I must say when it was official I had come in 2nd in my division I was hesitant to post the picture but here’s the deal, I have 5 children including three daughters and I would NEVER want them to feel less than so why would I allow that for myself? I am Athena!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I missed hardware by ONE minute THREE seconds.  This is the kind of thing triathletes obsess about. When I left the race I was happy with my swim, OK with my bike and disappointed in my run. I knew I finished 4th and I wasn’t incredibly disappointed until I realized I missed 3rd by 1:03. I woke up Monday morning haunted, it was the first thing that came to my mind and stayed with me all day. I should have found that minute.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Here are my pace numbers for Bridgeland by year:
2009 – Swim 2:47/100, Bike 16.67 mph, Run 14:13 pace
2010 – Swim 2:17/100, Bike 18.26 mph, Run 12:44 pace
2011 – Swim 1:59/100, Bike 18.85 mph, Run 12:38 pace

My goal for the run was to perform during the race the way I do in training. I wanted 11:45 pace. I am slow, that is for sure but I am getting faster, not fast, but faster ever so slowly.  I can swim faster than this, bike faster than this and certainly run faster than this but the key is can I do them as fast as I can all in a row on a specific date and time?

It is nice to be able to look at the same race three years in a row and compare the numbers. It is not exactly apples to apples, the run course has gotten a little longer each year but it is as close as you can get when racing the same race. The weather is always the same HOT and HUMID, the only variable is the wind which we had more of this year. It wasn’t bad but after the second U-turn I definitely felt it.

In other more exciting news I was one of three triathletes profiled in Cy-Fair magazine, pretty darn cool.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coming Together

I was feelling a bit behind in my training for Bridgeland and after a few crappy runs my confidence was low.

I cannot tell you how much I have learned from Beginner Triathlete, a couple of posts I read last week really turned it around for me. The first was about running easy often and sometimes hard. This was my plan but I wasn't sticking to it. The idea is to run as often as you can but most of them should be easy runs with shorter distance and less intensity. When I do this I don't hate running nearly as much and I feel good about getting out there. Another bonus is it helps stave off injuries which keeps me training. The second post I read that helped me a lot talked about running with a higher cadence and shorter stride. I have super long legs and when my stride widens I get winded easier and it also leaves me more prone to injuries.

I ran six times last week and felt much better about my run in general and the upcoming triathlon. All my runs were short, the longest was 4 miles. The goal is to have a good race at Bridgeland, remain injury free and pick up the distance going into the Houston Olympic in September and the Half Ironman in November.

I rode most of the Bridgeland course three times this past week. Yesterday I rode 24 miles and felt good enough to run after so that gives me confidence knowing the race is only 13.5. There is no doubt the run will be tough, it will be hot and is a mostly sunny course. I am hoping for an overcast morning. The forecast right now is partly sunny and a high of only 97!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lesson Learned

Training cannot be crammed. If you blow off a training day or two and think you can make it up you are usually wrong. I have a training plan I created for myself but I haven't really been paying attention to it lately and the result is not pretty.

Summer is hard for everyone because of the heat. Summer is hard for me because I love hanging out with my kids. My boys are 16 and 18, I know they will not be around forever. The good news is for the most part they like spending time with me too so it's really hard to leave for a training session sometimes. Training also means having coverage for the girls so one of the boys has to be home or sometimes I can take the girls to the YMCA while I run or swim. Making everything a bit trickier is the kids activities. Cory is working but not yet driving, Brendan is taking a driving class at the local community college and band practice has begun, the girls are involved in cooking class, swim lessons, swim team, volleyball camp etc. I am a taxi Mom. So now that I have laid the ground work of excuses......

Yesterday I did not train, my Mama plate was very full so I got on the trainer around 8:30pm. I knew it wasn't going to be a long ride so I pushed it pretty hard. When I was done I ate some blueberries and a dollup of greek yogurt. If I was going to run today I had to do it before the cascade of activities started. Due to my stellar procrastination skills the run started at 10:15. The lesson I learned today is that a hard trainer ride the evening before + no breakfast + running at 10:15 in July = Disaster at the agonizing pace of 13 and small change.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Good Runs & Bad Runs

It happens to all of us, the horrible run. Maybe more likely to happen because here in Houston we are running in sauna conditions (with more humidity) a good part of the year. It is sadly surprising how much temperature and humidity has an effect on a run.

I am NOT a morning person, everyone knows this. However, I was coerced into a 5K on July 4 at 6AM! Of course by coerced I mean somebody said 'hey I'm doing a 5K, you should come' and even after learning it was at 6 AM rather than PM I agreed.

The great news is Ken and Brendan volunteered to race with me. This was a small neighbrhood gathering at our local YMCA of 15-17 runners. The good news is we all placed in our respective age groups :) The BAD news is I was DFL=Dead Flat (or substitute your own F word) Last! Most of these folks run together on a regular basis but I also run on a regular basis. There is no point to making excuses when it comes to a race it was either good or bad but I will confess the tummy issues definitley slowed me down. Making sure this run didn't include runs took some inner strength for sure.

Fast forward to Wednesday, traditionally my 'long' run day. I started running all over again going shorter distances/less time but running more often. I had a 45 minute run on my plan. Wednesday we were blessed with some much needed rain and that was all I needed to talk myself out of a run. Of course it stopped raining hours before I planned on running. I told myself I would hop on the trainer instead but I'm not sure how dedicated I was to that idea either.

At 8:00 when I was trying to look busy on the computer it occurred to me I didn't have a reason not to run. I am not injured and I've been doing a good job of sticking to my plan so why stop now? I got my running clothes and new Zoot shoes on and headed out. Turns out I had one of my best runs in a very long time. Unfortunately, the shoes were pretty tough on my feet and I am sporting some blisters today but I'd rather have a couple of blisters then regret skipping a workout.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Focus

It has been a while since I posted last. I will admit I suffered a bit of burn out and have had some starts and stops in the last few months. The good news is I had a great sprint in May after a miserable Oly in April. Even better news is my new inspiration. How could anybody look at this photo and not be inspired? My new goal is to look like this in T2. Kerianne did her first triathlon May 14, she was 8 years old. This weekend she will do her third trithlon at 9 years old. What would our lives be like if we had started this early with her determination?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Double Birthday Day!

Yes, I have two children born on the same day 12 years apart! When I tell people this most assume the 12 year old was annoyed or inconvenienced when he got a little sister for his birthday. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we told the kids we were having another baby and told them the baby was expected around March 20 the first thing Brendan said was "Have the baby on my birthday Mama." I told him he needed to pray about it because his Mama doesn't control these things.

All of my children have birthdays with 3's in them 30, 23, 13, 31. So when I went into labor March 3, we thought the timing was perfect. However, after a little test run we realized it wasn't perfect timing, just a nice dry run to make sure we were ready.

When labor started very late at night March 22, we realized March 23 would carry a double blessing. My labors with both children could not have been more different. With Brendan I had a lot of pre-labor starting around 28 weeks and spent the last 3 weeks of my 37 week pregnancy 5cm. One would think this would lead to a faster labor but you would be wrong. After 12 hours in labor at the hospital at 6cm I was sent home. I returned 4 hours later and Brendan finally made his appearance after 22 hours of labor. The worst part was how managed my labor and birth were. Every decision was made for me and against my will. Thankfully Brendan was born healthy at 5 pounds, 12 ounces and I took him home less than 24 hours later.

Lilia's labor was peaceful surrounded by people who loved us, she was born at home in our bathtub. Brendan had paved the way, because of his birth I vowed to not have any more children in a hospital if at all possible. She was born into Ken's hands weighing 9 pounds 3 ounces and to my shock she was a girl!

Shortly after the birth Ken ran upstairs to Brendan's room and announced "Happy Birthday Brendan, you have a baby!" Brendan could not be more pleased, he thinks it is very cool his baby sister was born on his birthday, he is her "Birday Brudder"

Watching my baby boy and baby girl blow out their candles last night I remembered watching Brendan blow out 12 candles while holding his new baby sister, I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Starting Healthy

Sometimes it seems the hardest part of endurance racing is getting to the start line injury free, this is always my #1 goal.
Training for my upcoming Olympic distance race was going very well. My run is really coming along this season, shaving 1:30-2:00 off my pace. In the off season my coach and I worked on my form to make me faster and hope to keep me injury free.  Well, I got faster, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad, right?
A few weeks ago I noticed a tinge in my right shin, this is an all too familiar feeling. It was tight at the beginning of my run but would get better as I went so I wasn’t too worried. About two weeks ago I noticed the pain lasted longer and bothered me while walking the day after my run. I knew it was time to give my ART (Active Release Technique) guy a call.
I got to his office and told him what was up, it was obvious immediately that I waited too long. I honestly thought this was a preemptive appointment and I would nip it in the bud…. Not so much. The good news is I still had some time to get better before my race and with help from Dr. Cadena I am confident I can get to the start. I also have a great coach so I have plenty of fitness already in the ‘bank’ so having to cut back on my run the last week shouldn’t affect me too much on race day.
Reoccurring injuries are very frustrating. The first step is trying to prevent them and taking care of them as soon as possible before a minor injury becomes something season ending.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rest & Recovery

My coach has a quote on his website “The proper combination of stress and rest leads to success.”

After a long, hard run it is important to recover so your body can start to heal before the next swim, bike or run. I am very fortunate to have an incredible recovery crew.

When I stumble in the house after a long run I am asked immediately if I would like water and do I want ice in that water (Kerianne & Avery) followed by “How was your run Mama? Last night I came in to see the boys in the kitchen making dinner. I make my way to my bathroom and start the cold water running for my ice bath. The ice from our automatic ice maker is brought to me by one of the boys. Then the girls come in to check on me to make sure I am OK and ask if I need anything else.

I have a hate/love/hate relationship with the ice bath. I HATE being cold, hate it! But I know the ice bath helps my legs recover quicker. I start the water and shed my clothes except my sports bra. I have found that keeping it on helps me stay warm on top and not shiver as much.
Once the water is covering my legs I pour the ice in. I have a good size tub and long legs but I am able to straighten them so they stay submerged. The very important part for me in tolerating the ice bath is keeping my toes out of the water. My meaty parts can handle the ice cold but my bony toes cannot, having them in the water is painful and makes me want to get out sooner. I stay in the bath for 15-20 minutes, at least until all the ice is melted.

Then I get out, dry off and get some clothes on, log my run on BT and it is time to eat! I do my best to make sure I get protein, carbs and plenty of water. When I am done eating it is time to get wet again but this time it is a hot shower. I get dressed again, have a beer and then a date with my foam roller before hitting the sack.

Last night I had an 8.59 mile run at an 11:35 pace which is very good for me, I met or exceeded all my goals for this run. Tonight I have my first bike fitness test. I will put Dori on the trainer in the garage with a fan in my face. Warm up and then go as hard as I can for 20 minutes, recover a bit and then go as hard as I can for 5 minutes before the cool down. The purpose is to measure the amount of power I put out during times of stress to help my coach set power goals for me in an effort to improve my bike intensity and speed. I will admit I am a little skeered but I hope to get through it without tossing biscuits. Knowing my recovery crew is on hand to help me after makes it so much easier!
The great news is Friday is an OFF day for me. These are very rare since my coach thinks swimming is an OFF day (that’s what happens when you are coached by Aquaman). So and honest to goodness off day is very rare when there is a race on the horizon. TGIF for sure! 4 weeks and 3 days till Kemah Olympic!         

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday for my long run from the house I took a can of Halt! Dog spray. It is basically mace for dogs. Since the pit bull incident I have not run much in my own neighborhood. I usually drive to the YMCA and run from there. I am glad I have that as an option but it’s not always convenient. When I got to the Y the girls want to go and checking them in and out of childcare adds a good 20 minutes.

Over the weekend we were at Bike Barn, I saw a can of Halt and thought this just might be what I need to feel more comfortable on my runs. I took it with me for the first time yesterday. I have this awesome Zoot running skirt that has pockets on the sides of the shorts, a perfect spot to keep my Halt handy. I wasn’t expecting to use it and hope I never have to but I have to say it made me more comfortable while running past the homes I know have large dogs. I don’t run by the house anymore where the dog that approached me lives but I do run down a street where another pit bull lives and is usually in the back yard. I have only seen this dog on one occasion when it was in the front of his home. When I run down the street behind the home the dog always barks. Hearing him always send my heart rate up and I slow down looking behind me after I have passed. Yesterday while passing the back of his home I actually had the Halt in my hand for added piece of mind.

I had a very good run. I felt less anxious having the Halt with me so I would say it was well worth the $5.99!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Consistency is key. We all know it and yet it remains elusive when we are not ready to commit 100%.
I get asked often how I have time to train for triathlon with 5 kids. The answer is I have to make time. Nobody is going to hand me a pretty wrapped box full of time. When I let things happen rather than make things happen my training gets spotty. February is not pretty. Of the first 20 days in February I have completed 15 workouts. For most folks that would be great but if you are a triathlete you know I have missed workouts.
I could give you a long list of the things that have gotten in my way but that doesn’t serve a purpose other than me trying to justify and make excuses. Yes, there were days workouts were not possible but there were also days I could have made something happen and didn’t.
I am also realizing fear is a great motivating factor. When I was training for the half ironman distance there was a good amount of fear motivating me. My next race is a repeat, I have an idea what to expect, I have completed all the distances so I know I can do it. The motivation has to be improving on what I have already done and trust me there is plenty of room for improvement. I want to be prepared for the distances and conquer them rather than feel conquered by them. I have done too many races where I felt the race chewed me up and spit me out. I need to be consistent if I want to feel good during and after the race.
Time to make it happen and get ‘let’ out of my vocabulary.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I am a slow runner, this is the box I have put myself in.  This box is better than the ‘you can’t do that’ box I was put in years ago.  This box has lots of room and is comfortable.  I look at other people in their boxes that are a bit smaller and sleeker but I tell myself that I won’t fit in the smaller, faster box.  I will feel pressure in that box.  But the women in those boxes aren’t that different from me.  Some are shorter, thinner which makes their box a tiny bit easier to live in but there are also women who are taller and weigh more than I do getting along just fine in smaller boxes.
For years I was told I couldn’t do this.  Then I started doing it.  I told myself I could, my husband told me I could and I did it, I really did.  But what now?  I have a triathlon coach with the best disposition known to man.  When I was training for my Half Ironman he doubted me.  He didn’t doubt me as a person but with my injuries and lack of run training he wanted me to wait, he didn’t want me to hurt myself.  I’m not a waiting kind of girl.  I used that doubt on many a long bike ride and on some of my very hot runs.  I’ll show him! 
My coach writes up my workouts.  In life I am not a good little sheep, I do not do as I am told.  When it comes to triathlon and my coach I am a pretty good sheep.  He writes it, I do it.  I don’t usually look at my workouts before I have to, I guess I like the surprise and spontaneity of looking and then doing.  The other day I looked at a run workout and the target speed wasn’t anything I had ever done for more than a few minutes.  My first feeling was confusion then I got angry.  WHY would he tell me to do something I CAN’T do?  As if this is personal.  I sent him an e-mail and a text demanding an explanation.  This is where his perfect coach disposition comes out.  He simply told me to do what I can and then even told me to make it a moderate run. 
I went for my run and found myself pushing for the original numbers I thought unattainable.  I realized during this run I had gone from ‘you can’t do this’ to ‘you can do this’ to ‘I expect you to do this.’  I wasn’t raised with much in the way of expectations so this is somewhat new to me.  I think my coach is sending me an eviction notice from my big comfy slow box.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sunrise Swim

On days like today when I really don’t want to get in the pool I think of this picture.  Those tiny specs off in the distance are boats that have just dropped some slightly unbalanced triathletes a mile off shore to swim to the ramp you see at the bottom of the picture.

I keep reminding myself that I thought this was a fun swim last year, challenging but fun.
All the women were on the same boat and while we were shivering and chatting you could feel the anticipation.  I’d be willing to say everyone was a bit anxious and some were downright terrified.

We were told to get off the boat before the wave ahead of us had even been given the gun.  We jumped off and started towards the buoys when the wave of red caps ahead of us was given their start.  We got to the buoys we were supposed to start at and tread water for 5 minutes when the gun went off!  The water was a bit choppy from a Friday evening/Saturday morning storm and the current was pretty strong left to right.  Once we took off there was nothing in the water we could see to sight off.  I was glad I had picked out the blue and white lighthouse while still on the boat.

I remember having to turn further to breathe because of waves so I was able to see the sky and thought ‘today is a great day to be a triathlete’! 
58 days and counting!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Elevation is hard to come by here in supa-flat Houston.  I can feel my HR climb when I use the little ramp from the street to the sidewalk, that tells you how much I love FLAT.  I was hopping (only one good foot) when I found out the run for my Half Ironman had become more flat than the run in previous years.

We have a great race director and series of races here in Houston OnUrMark puts on a helluva race!  My 2010 season started with their Gateway to the Bay Olympic distance where they took us a mile into the gulf and we reluctantly jumped off a boat only to swim back to shore.  This little dip was followed by a challenging bike ride where the race director, felt compelled to challenge us with man made elevation, going over the Kemah Bridge FOUR times!  The run that followed was beautiful and fun with the locals hanging out in their lawns cheering us on. 

Imagine my dismay when I recently learned we would be RUNNING over said bridge, TWICE!  My knees started crying and my hips locked up in an effort to boycott my 2011 tri plans.  Apparently now the bike is nice and flat but the run not so much.  The thing is I like a hilly bike.  When you ride your bike on a hill you get to enjoy the Weeeeee all the way down.  When you run up the hill you have to first try not to die by cardiac arrest on your way up and going down you're trying not to die via asphalt.  As much as I don't look forward to the ascent it's the descent that is scaring the poo out of me!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hiatus is over

After a much too long post Half Ironman hiatus I jumped back into training this week.  Yesterday I had a short 25 minute run on the calendar.  I waited until later in the day and it was getting a little dark around 5:30pm so I made the decision to run in my neighborhood to keep it safe.

The beginning of the run felt good though I knew I was going too fast to hold the pace very long.  Then out of the corner of my left eye I see dog running at me.  It’s a pit bull and he is not in the mood to play.  I just started yelling at him STOP!  He kept barking and lunging at me, frozen in the street.  I screamed STOP and HELP ME over and over hoping the owners would come out, nobody, nothing.  I took a few steps and he followed barking, started walking faster and didn’t hear hoping he went back to his yard.  Then I heard him charging and barking until I could feel his breath on the back of my legs.   My hope was at some point I would be far enough from his home and he would let me go.  He did.  I continued to walk fast.  I had to circle the neighborhood and come back onto his street to get home but I was further down.  I kept looking behind me but thankfully didn’t see him again.  A few minutes later I started running again and ran home as fast as I could.

Once in the door I fell apart.  Ken asked me what was going on and when I told him he told me to get in the car.  We drove to their house, he knocked on the door.  At first they were not going to come to do the door, they have a glass front door and they could see him.  Finally they answered.  The husband was rude and curt.  Fortunately the wife was more understanding and apologetic.  Obviously the dog was put away at this point.  It makes me sad that I cannot run safely in my own small subdivision.  I wish dog owners were more responsible.