Monday, December 10, 2012

13.1 RR

Yesterday was my first half marathon.  Well, kind of. My husband likes to remind me I did a half Ironman in 2010 which ended with a half marathon but with a still recovering shattered heel it was more of a walk than a run.

As with all races there are good and bad take-aways.  There were good miles and I took the time to enjoy those miles, 3-9 were not bad at all.  I had a plan and stuck to it until after the 10 mile mark.  I ran through the first aid station, had to stop for potty during the second mile so picked up my pace to make up that time before the next aid station.  The plan was to keep my pace around 12-12:15 until mile:75 so I would pick up the pace the last quarter before the aid station.  I tell myself I am 'earning my walk'.  I kind of came up with this plan during mile 2 and it worked well.  The last quarter of each mile my goal was sub 12:00, preferably around 11:45.

Running during a triathlon is much more fun than a foot race.  In triathlon there are no headphones allowed so there is a lot more encouragement from spectators as well as other racers. Now that I am used to running without music I get kind of lonely during foot races when everyone is in their own world and nobody is chatting. 

After the potty stop I saw Karen so I ran up to her, swatted her behind and we exchanged a few words.  She was doing a relay with Rachel so I would see her later in the race.  When I got to the half way point I saw Rachel, gave her a hug and heard Trisha & Belinda cheering for me.  This was a good mile.  My half way goal was 12:teen and I was at 12:12.

Sooner than I expected Rachel caught me. When she got to me she was huffing and puffing clearly she had really pushed herself to catch me.  We run together at least once a week so having her there was comforting.  She told me my breathing sounded good.  Another good mile.

Once we were past the half way point the sun was out and it was warm.  Who would have thought I'd be dumping water on my neck and worrying about sunscreen at a December 9 race?  This same race was freezing last year.  My good training runs are in the 60s, today was in the 80s.

When I got to 10.1 I told Rachel this was my longest run.  At this point my left IT band was bugging and I was nauseous while walking.  Mile 10 wasn't horrible but it got worse pretty quick.  My ten mile goal was 12:10, I was at 12:19.
I told myself I only had a 5K left but that is a big fat lie. It is a 5K after 10 miles, very different!

During mile 12 I had to stop to stretch my left IT band, this killed my pace.  I wanted a 12:15 average for the day but would settle for 12:30.  I remember looking down at my watch after stretching and my average was 12:28 this made me nervous because my 'running' pace was now quite slow, my feet were killing me.

Making things a bit more frustrating the mile markers were stretching out.  The first 6-7 miles my Garmin and the mile markers on the course were close but later in the race the markers were further and further out.  At 11 miles we didn't reach the marker until 11:20, twelve was 11:25 and when my watch said 13.1 there was no 13 mile marker in sight let alone a finish line. This messed with my head and I walked for a bit.  My mantra during that last mile was "run with a purpose, earn your walk' I tried to keep my head up, shoulders back, feet under me hands at my hips.  Looked at my watch and average pace was 12:31, that is NOT going to happen, I was not going to let go of 12:30!

Picked up again and the last .25 felt like a mile. There was no music and the crowd was minimal so you couldn't hear it until you were almost there.  The distance by my watch was 13.35.  The course being long is annoying but not a huge deal.  What bothers me more is the times are based on a 13.1 mile course so my paces in the results are way off.

Laid on the ground next to Karen and put my feet on a sign for leg drains. Got up to walk to pavilion and as soon as I sat down both calves seized up BAD.  I was writhing in pain. My sweet friends were running around getting drinks and food for me but nothing helped.  Finally I took my compression socks down and Karen massaged the calves.  There were moments it took everything in me not to kick her in the face but I knew it was helping.  Once I could stand and walk we headed to lunch and then home for shower and a much deserved nap. Note to self: No stopping during Ironman.

It is done. I ran further than ever before.  Next up - 13.1 March 25, hoping it will be cooler and will be looking for a PR.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Another one of my goals before the Ironman training really kicks in is getting to a weight I am happy with. Surprisingly I am heavier now than when I started triathlon training.  Funny how some of us think our training justifies anything we put in our mouth. I know I am guilty of the "I ran X miles, I EARNED this"

I don't want the number to be one I see on A day but what is my new normal.

Which brings me to numbers. Ugh! I hate numbers!  As a woman I have looked at numbers as the enemy. 10, 160, 43 are all numbers that would make most women cringe. I don't hate all of my numbers but am ready to say goodbye to a few of them. 

I can honestly say I am proud of and take ownership of all my 43 years of age. I would not trade this for anything! Not to say I wouldn't mind a 30 year old face and 20 year old behind.  As numbers go though I can definitely live with 43.

The other numbers have become old friends, it is time to move on.  Of course my weight fluctuates. Right now my range is generally 157-163 or it was the last few times I weighed myself.  I have not had a scale for 15+ years. When I got rid of the last husband I also got rid of the scale. Having somebody in your life who thought they should have a say in what you weigh is suffocating and oppressive to say the least. Getting rid of the scale was part of taking my power back.
In the last several years I would weigh myself when I went to the gym. This way if I wasn't happy with the number I was already at the gym.  With my current training I almost never go to the gym.

Yesterday I bought a scale. My plan is to weigh myself on Wednesday only. I know if I don't set rules it will be something I do too much of. The scale also has a special place out of sight. With three daughters in the house the last thing I need is them getting on the scale every day. It starts out fun at first (since it is a novelty for them) but my concern is it becoming competition or the number on the scale determines how they feel about themselves.

Another part of holding myself accountable is writing down what I eat. Doing this makes me think twice before I eat or drink something. Do I really want to write that down? My food is logged the same place as my workouts so that makes it easy.
Having food prepared is very important.  I'm not depriving myself of anything in particular but making a big effort to make my calories count and eat food I know is good for me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's getting hot in here!

#1 on the getting to Ironman Arizona list is "Stay injury free".  In an effort to ward off any injuries I am practicing hot yoga. Let me clarify this is not Bikram Yoga but Hot Hatha Yoga. I have done both and while I enjoy Bikram the room is even hotter and sadly there is not a studio near me.  I practice at Sun Touch Yoga just a few miles from my home.

From their website "Hot Hatha is a 75 minute class offered in a 96 degree infrared heated room.  Designed to relieve stress, balance and strengthen the glandular system, circulation, digestion and nervous system, reshape muscles, tendons and posture. Fresh blood is brought to areas not normally affected and the whole body becomes supple and fit!  Detox and feel renewed! Move your body, free your mind!"

There is much discussion in the triathlon community whether anything other than swimming, biking and running is good for tri training. I am always surprised by the folks who think anything other than SBR is a waste of time.  When someone asks about fatigue on the bike the answer is often "bike more" as if taking the time to strengthen your upper body and core is not an option.

Dragging my sleepy tuhkus out of bed at 5:00am is not easy but getting into that hot room, seeing my friend's smiling face and   Pushing my body to places it wasn't able to go to before while getting a serious sweat on is good for ME

Monday, November 26, 2012

I got in!

Ironman Arizona sold out in 40 seconds according to WTC.

I lost sleep worrying about whether I would get in.

Ken and I sat side by side on two computers each logged into my Active account refreshing over and over waiting for the 'Register' button to appear.  It popped up on my screen first and I started typing furiously skipping the non required fields trying to get to the payment page as fast as possible.  Credit card information in (WOW That was a fast $700!) submit......... Confirmation!

I never had that 'what am I doing? Or what did I do?' moment. It was meant to be. Many others tried to register that day and did not get in.  I don't know anybody else racing but my family and friends will be cheering in Arizona or wherever else they are. 

I am excited! I've been reading every Ironman Arizona race report I can get my hands on.  It will be hard and a very long day but for the first time in a long time I feel proactive, I am a woman with a plan.

1.  Stay injury free.

2.  Train.

3.   Get to the start line.

4.  Take what the day gives me and make the best of it.

5.  Be thankful.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does it have to be Arizona?

My supportive but bewildered husband asked me "Does it have to be Arizona?"

Answering took a moment as a lump filled my throat and tears blurred my eyes.

When I was in Arizona this past July getting Cory settled in his first apartment I was dealing with all kinds of 43 year old Mama anxiety.  The day I left I was taken back to a 9 year old girls pain and dispair.

After having lunch with Cory and my Dad we had plenty of time before my flight back to Houston.  Dad was driving us around Phoenix giving Cory a tour.  Looking through the windshield the dusty brown landscape seemed to repeat itself until suddenly some landmarks and street signs became familiar. When I saw the dome shaped Rollero skating rink I knew where we were headed.
I felt my heart rate quicken, my stomach became queasy, my mouth was thick.  We were going to the house.

We drove down a street I knew but somehow it all seemed dwarfed.  The houses were squatty with dirt front yards not the lush lawns I remember and there were no children.  My Dad and I chatted about the houses and the people who lived and died here a lifetime ago.
He stopped in front of the house I lived in as a child. Without thinking I got out of the car and stepped on the broken sidewalk.  I knew this was the house but it was so different in person, surely the front yard had shrunk. Memories are liars sometimes. We tell ourselves what we need to get by and the rest are lies.

I stood at the end of the driveway.  Part of me, the 5'9" hear me roar strong woman part, felt compelled to knock on the door.  I stared at the front door willing it to open but when it did I froze. I explained to the curious home owners, an older gentleman and young girl, I lived here as a child. Translating, smiling and head nodding insued.
Though not invited I felt if I walked through the door I would disappear.
Suddenly I was a 60 pound, 9 year old girl with stringy dishwater blonde hair and dirty, calloused feet.  Overcome by fear, anxiety, helplessness, I was tiny and vulnerable.  For the first time in a long time I felt like a victim which made me mourn for the girl I was and angry at him. I wanted to hold her, the 9 year old girl nobody had time for, and tell her it was going to be OK. I found myself swaying.  I was rocking myself and patting my chest.
The neighborhood made Cory uneasy, he kept asking me to get back in the car.  My Dad was oblivious he had taken me to a virtual rabbit hole.

My Mom hates Arizona. She left as soon as she could and has only been back once for my sisters wedding.  This always made me sad.
I was born there and lived what should have been an innocent and lovely time of childhood in this arid desert with breathtaking sunsets. I felt her hating Arizona was almost like hating my childhood.
As I sat in the car, airport bound, I was washed over with understanding.  I hated Arizona, Phoenix, Clarendon, 8151.
The place my innocence was stolen from me by an evil opportunist.

I am not comfortable with the victim role. I decided long ago I wasn't going to let him have that kind of power over me.  My son lives in Arizona now, this is his home. I don't want to hate it, he may decide to live there forever.  I also don't want to feel small, vulnerable and anxious when I visit him.

I decided it was time to take Arizona back.

Yes, it has to be Arizona.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Apron Strings

Last week Cory and I drove his packed 2000 Toyota Camry from Houston to Phoenix. We said goodbye to trees and lush green landscapes and hello to mountains and lots of brown. This was his new home. We spent time setting up his new place and checking out the area. I took him grocery shopping and gave him cash and instructions to get what he would need for the week. He did just fine. He didn't need me.

Leaving Cory in Arizona was harder than I ever thought it would be. I felt like I was missing part of my body, I ached. My body misses his body. I wept knowing he wouldn't get hugs. Cory is a hugger and with two huggy parents and three snuggly sisters in the house he is used to lots of physical touch.

Across the isle from me on the plane ride home was a Mama traveling with two children. Her curly headed boy slept with his head in her lap clutching a tattered bunny. With blurry tear filled eyes I could see my curly headed boy clutching his very well loved Elmo. I was jealous. At that moment I would have given anything to go back 16 years and snuggle with my curly headed boy.

This is why teenagers drive their parents nuts, so the parents are ready for them to leave.  Cory didn't drive me nuts.

It is time though. He is ready. Every day does get a little bit easier. I've come a long way from the hyperventilating panic attack in the ice cream isle of the grocery store a week ago. We will both be fine. It's just hard to cut those apron strings, nobody teaches you how.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Redemption is ours

Back on track.

In April I had the worst swim of my triathlon career in the gulf hugging a kayak in a state of panic and praying for shore. I made it through the 1500 meter swim but not without incident. In May Kerianne had her roughest swim ever in the very crowded water of Lake Houston at TriGirl.

It was time to let all of that go and get back to the fun of the sport.

June 10 I had my best tri ever at Sylvan Beach! The swim was nothing to write home about except that I made it through panic free with zero anxiety - SCORE! Then I followed through with a PR on both the bike (18.9mph for 19 miles) and run (11:41 for 5 miles). My Mom was there to see me race for the first time, it was a GREAT day.

This past weekend Kerianne had her first tri after TriGirl. 
After her very rough swim Ken and I both decided we would not mention triathlon and let Kerianne come to us when she was ready. We didn't have to wait long. Kerianne participated in the Kiwanis Kids Triathlon in Pearland at Liberty Park smiling ear to ear the entire time. She didn't ask her time or place until the day after. We are not there to win but to participate and have a great time. Mission accomplished!

We both had great races and are looking forward to another race on the calendar. Kerianne is looking at the Texas Kids Tri June 14 and I am excited about the Shadow Creek Ranch triathlon relay I will be biking with two of my amazing girlfriends June 15, good times ahead.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


A few weeks ago I completed (won't say competed) the Kemah Olympic triathlon for the third year in a row. I was excited about my training and about the race. My run has come along a bit and I was not injured or sick. 

Two weeks before my race my husband Ken was riding with our daughters Kerianne (9) and Avery (8) when Avery took a bad spill. She was showing signs of a concussion immediately and had some severe road rash so off to the hospital we went. Thankfully nothing was broken but the CT scan did show a serious concussion. We had to give her brain time to heal and not do too much too soon. No reading, exercise, school work, computer or TV for a week. This also meant no activities she would normally participate in while I am training. My A race became a B race but that was fine with me, Avery was going to fully recover.

The Kemah swim proved more difficult than the two previous years. The swells were big, I never got a break and felt like I was swimming in place, there were some terrifying moments. I met a great guy named Dennis when he let me hang on the end of his kayak for a couple of minutes in an effort to get my heart rate down almost a mile from shore. Finishing that swim was one of the hardest things I have done.  I drank a lot of the gulf that morning which had an immediate intestinal effect but considering all factors I had a pretty good race.

Today was my first race after Kemah. I was going back to my very first triathlon because Kerianne begged me to do it with her. She did 4 triathlons last year but they were all pool swims.  Avery wanted to race the duathlon but with her recent accident she wasn't ready. Kerianne and I talked about the race and open water many times. This past Friday we swam 300 yards in Towne Lake so she could get an idea of what it is like to swim in open/dirty water, she was awesome! I asked the race director about swimming together but the only way to do that was to swim in the beginner wave which is the largest group, I was worried there would be too much traffic and contact so we decided to race in our respective age group waves.

My group of women 40-49 was two waves ahead of Kerianne with the 19 and under and 50+ women. Once I started swimming and realized how choppy the water was I didn't want Kerianne to swim. I tried to swim faster so I could get to her before she got in the water. I came out of the water and couldn't find her, couldn't find Ken and thought she was already in. I went to transition where I waited, this was the plan. I went over to the corner closest to the swim exit waited and prayed. After a few minutes I saw Ken with the girls, Kerianne was crying, she got pulled from the water. My heart broke for her. I am glad she asked for help when she needed it but I was so sad she was ever that scared. I have been that scared and I was crushed I wasn't there for her when she needed somebody.

Children are great at giving us perspective just when we need it. Avery's accident was a lesson in slowing down and not doing much of anything other than reading aloud and playing board games for a week.

Today Kerianne's swim taught us all a lot. As a parent it is hard to let your kids do things that are scary. You need to do your best to honor their feelings while encouraging them. After the swim Kerianne told Ken she wanted to finish the race but she was still very emotional. I gave her two options "I can wrap you up in floppy towel and hold you or we can go get on our bikes and ride." She chose floppy towel which made me very happy. I wrapped her up and held her. We both cried. After a while I wondered if I should have encouraged her to finish so she would have the victory at the end but there will be plenty of victories, I won't always be able to wrap her up in a towel and hold her on my lap.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What am I going to do about it?

In my humble opinion there are two kinds of fast people. The first are gifted through breeding or training early in life, they have never known slow as many of us know slow. They have athletically gifted parents or started swim team at 5 and running track at 10. Speed is what they know and they are unable to comprehend slow. They do not understand going slow is not a choice. They don’t believe a 13 minute pace IS running. They don’t consider us athletes. They assume those of us who are slow lack training, desire or fortitude.  They are wrong.

I heard someone say the other day they felt sorry for slow people. On behalf of my slow sisters and brothers we don’t want your pity. What we would like is your encouragement and understanding.  Some of us come upon our lack of speed honestly. We didn’t have active parents or the encouragement and funds to be on a swim team or go to a school that even had a track. Of course it is true anybody can run but not everybody BELIEVES they can or has someone else believe they can. Please keep in mind a great deal of us came into the sport of triathlon or any sport for that matter, later in life.

We want you to understand a lot of us train just as hard and just as long as you do. The assumption is if we only trained more we too would be fast. This is where the second kind of fast people come in. I know athletes who started running as adults and shave a minute per mile off their pace every year. That is awesome and inspiring but not reality for everyone. Those who were not always fast understand those of us who are slow. They cheer the loudest for us on the run course or at the finish line. They have raced a 5K at a 12:30 pace, they know what a 15 mph bike average feels like. They worked hard, some harder than others and the speed came. They know what it is like to be slow and they appreciate the speed they have. These are generous athletes and great friends willing to spend their time and share their knowledge with their slower fellow athletes.

I am slow. Like most athletes I work at staying consistent but am not always successful. When I miss one week of training I suffer and lose fitness at an alarming rate. I get injured every single year. I want to get faster, I want my runs and bikes to be less painful.

So what am I going to do about it? I know I am not going to change the minds of the super fast they are going to believe if I only trained 20 hours a week and lost 20 pounds I would be faster and maybe they are right but at what cost? What I will do is work hard, be consistent, follow a plan, enjoy the journey and maybe, some day, the speed will come.