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Monday, June 29, 2009

California Roll Salad!

Lass posted this recipe on her blog and I just had to try it! I substituted brown rice for the white and couldn't find the pickled ginger so I added a couple dashes of ground ginger to the dressing. So refreshing, yum!

California Roll Salad
Serves:4

* 1 (8 7/8 ounce) package white rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice - the kind you microwave)
* 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
* 1 head lettuce (I mixed iceberg and romaine)
* 1 cucumber (I made small little chunks... I like my cucumbers chunky, not sliced)
* 1 avocado (don't fear the good fat!
* 1 lb imitation crabmeat (Could only find a 12 oz. package)
* 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Low Sodium)
* 2 tablespoons pickled ginger

Directions
Prepare rice according to directions.

Pour rice into medium bowl and toss with 1 tbsp vinegar. Set aside.

Thinly slice cucumber and avacado.

Break up crabmeat into chunks.

Mix lettuce leaves with seasoned rice, cucumber, avocado slices and crabmeat.

In separate cup, mix together soy sauce and remaining 2 TBL of seasoned rice vinegar.

Drizzle this dressing over salad, and add pickled ginger on top of salad.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Freedom Tri Race Report



Overall in Age Group 40-44: 23 of 26 (25:32.5 back)
Overall Finish: 288 of 407
Time Back from 1st: 25:32.5
Total Time: 1:38:09.5

Swim:
Rank: 16, Time: 7:40.9

T1
Rank: 7, Time: 1:38.8

Bike
Rank: 19, Time: 44:11.1
MPH: 16.3

T2
Rank: 15, Time; 1:18.0

Run
Rank: 23, Time: 43:20.6
Pace: 14:27/M



Today was the 2009 Y Freedom Tri in Pearland. This event was different because the swim was in a 50 meter pool. I am not used to a 50 meter pool; I swim in a 25 meter regularly at 24 HF. I was surprised at how much longer it took me -- a full minute than in the 25 meter pool.

In any case, I visited the 50 m pool 3 or 4 times this past week to get used to it. I think it paid off. In the end I was only 20 seconds slower (instead of a full minute) than I reported when I registered. Your time is important because because they seed the start according to speed and you don't want to tick off faster swimmers because you're in front of them, bobbing, and then they have to pass you. I was pleased with my swim in the end. I even managed to pass a a few other swimmers -- that was kind of wild since I never pass anyone! LOL

I can't even explain how thick the air was today. It was so humid you just sweat standing there, doing nothing. Although, I did read somewhere that said the more quickly you sweat the more fit you are. Your body efficiently starts to cool you when it senses how hot it is. For whatever that's worth. Guess I should be happy I sweat quickly.

My bike was fine. It was a nice flat course. My goal was to keep my cadence up... but my cadence on my computer wasn't working! MPH was, so at least I had that and distance. LOL Not much wind on the way out and back except for the last couple miles in (of course).

Now the run. Bah! I was all happy after the bike because I was right there in the thick of it. There were plenty of bikes out still, so it appeared I was doing at least average -- I was stoked, thinking I might finally get my <90 minute goal! On the last couple minutes of the bike I took the time to spin a bit and came out of the seat to help find my run legs. Let's just say nothing helped. Typically I run 5 minutes, walk 1. Today I could not run more than 2 minutes! Although strangely by the end I think I was feeling a little better *shrug* I wasn't happy with how the run was going, but I tried to put the displeasure out of my mind; tried not to focus on how labored my breathing was. I guess what bothered me most was I have great training sessions and I feel hopeful that I'll do better than I actually do. Yes, I have fun. Tons of fun. And that's what's important. And really, who can be bummed out when the cutest little cheerleader in the world is waiting at the Finish with pom-poms... not to mention thee most supportive Hubster! Love you both!!

Things I've learned.
- Need that last snack 30 minutes before the race.
- Need more running... 'nuf said
- Consider making 5k at brick sessuibs SOP
- Need to remember flip-flops next time!
- Need to practice redirecting my focus (improve my mental game)

What I'm going to pat myself on the back for:
- Nice transitions
- Swim stroke is improving
- More power, more consistent full strokes on pedaling

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rockin' the Beer Gut!

Because this makes me laugh... Who needs country songs about divorce when we have songs that salute the Beer Gut. :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Laser Bike Lane? LightLane Prototype

This is really cool!

"LightLane was originally created for a design competition to promote commuting by bicycle. Although the concept did not win, the response was overwhelming, encouraging the inventors to continue development. Click image for hi-res version."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cassie and Wednesday Bricking

My little swimmer!

Cassie started her lessons last night with the swim coach who helped me refine my stroke before Lonestar last April. After spending 2 weeks of the hottest part of last summer sitting outside while she got all of maybe 15 minutes of time with the instructor in a group class, we decided to try the private approach. Chances are she'll need fewer lessons and will come further along.

I'll say!

I couldn't stay the whole class, but before I left, Suzy had her learning to glide through the water and going under for dive toys! As Cass' Mommy, I had a real hard time helping her go under. In fact, I found myself wincing the first time I watched Suzy do it! LOL Anyway, Cass is doing great with the swimming and loves it.

I headed out for my brick training... the temp in my car read 102 when I got out to begin at 6:30. I finished my bike, drank some ONE Coconut Water and headed out for my run. Breathing the hot air is always killer for me. Ugh!

I am glad to report that I had a PR last night... I did my first mile in 11:29 -- considering I was at about 14 in April, that's progress! My overall pace was under 12 for the 2 miles, so I was content. Even more happy that I saw my brick through, because quite honestly I was draggin' myself there... I was having "intesinal challeges" and I did not want to workout in the heat. As it appeared, nor did the majority of the club; there were only 3 of us there! LOL

Just a few more days until Y Freedom. Tonight I am planning on Swimming again in the 50m pool and may run after. I'll swim again on Friday and take OFF on Saturday to rest for Sunday.

As for my Thyroid stuff I'm noticing the retun of some symptoms. I go back to the Endo next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just an Update

<---- Is what you get when you cross an IT Manager with a triathlete. :) I just added this to the back of my car. LOL

So this weekend flew by... it always seems we need just 1 more day -- even me, the self-proclaimed "Domestic Goddess" didn't have the power to get everything done I wanted. I did, however, hit up spin class on Saturday. We climbed, and climbed... then climbed some more. After that, we climbed again. You get the picture. Right after that I headed to the pool that next weekend's tri is going to be in. This pool is 50 meters in length, so it kind of feels like you never reach the end! I also found out they are open for adult lap swims 3 nights a week, plus Saturday and Sunday. I think I found a nice alternative to swimming at 24 and getting my required dose of Vitamin D. :)

Sunday we remulched our front yard and planted some new trees. One would thik that with 38 miles of training for last week, you wouldn't think the gardening would leave me sore, right? My hamhocks (hamstrings)are screaming and it's day 2! Hopefully my swim tonight will losen them up! LOL

Oh! Almost forgot to share this! My many years of blogging about this and that finally paid off. Remember last week I mentioned that ONE Coconut Water? Well, lovely Lucy, their marketing manager contact me and thanked me with some free swag (some samples, towels, shirt, eco-friendly bag -- THANKS!!) She's been delightful to "tweep" with -- almost as delightful as a chilled glass of ONE Coconut water!

She was thrilled to learn that I heard of one through my "shero's" podcast... yeah, Jillian Michaels mentioned it, and the friendly folks as ONE didn't know about the unprompted promo! So, Lucy got hot on the trail to track her down... and is super close! Lucy has promised me a hook-up with Jillian someday! LOL I could be possible, right??? Lucy, don't forget about a Sistah's dream. LOL

Everything's connected, you know? You just have to put it out there to the universe.

"I would love to have Jillian Michaels, personally, kick my a$$"

There ya go universe!

Friday, June 19, 2009

From Lifehacker: BPM Analyzer Calculator!


Click the pic to take you to the Lifehacker blog to download!

I think this will be a useful tool. I'm noticing that I'm running faster when I don't have my iPod. I think I tend to run with the beat of the music, so if the music slows down, so do I. I am also certain that part of them stems from the fact that I am not yet a very accomplished runner. I do great to break a 12 minute/mile pace right now! It's all good though.

If you download it and try it, let me know what you thought of it!






I Loved It! Moving Comfort Compression Running Shorts

Thanks to Misty over at the Athena Diaries, I have a new love! The Moving Comfort MCW Compression Running Short.

I have been a long-time fan of MC's sports bras; they are a less expensive alternative to the Enell and keep *things* in place just as well. The Maia is my favorite -- I swim, bike and run in them without any discomfort. I am still on the hunt for a good high impact racer-back bra for a D.

I ordered my shorts but was on the fence with regard to sizing. I call the folks up at Moving Comfort and they were nice and helpful. The customer service rep suggested the MCW version, when I told her my issues and how I am right on the tail end of regular sizes. So I went with their a "MCW" collection. I'm glad I did.

It was nice to know that the MCW version was exactly the same tech-wear, just sized for the fuller figure and 1/2" longer. I really appreciated that the fit wasn't just a larger size of the regular sized version. They took into account the areas plus women have extra curves -- a thoughtful design.

I have a ton of loose skin on my stomach above and below my waist, so compression shorts are a necessity for me when running. Today it's really difficult to find a woman's short that comes up high enough around the waist to keep everything still, so to speak, but the MCW did the job and stayed in place for the entire bike/run brick. I did not once have to pull them up and the legs stayed in place, and no tight elastic around the leg, leaving your leg looking like a stuffed pork loin all tied-up.

This running short does not have any padding in it (that's because it is a running short, not a bike short). Still, I was curious, and wore it for a 12 mile ride on my bike and I was fine. In fact, I liked them better than my DeSoto unisex tri shorts! Beginner riders might want to work up to no padding. Unless you're into that kind of thing.

For what it's worth, there's my 2 cents. Overall a great product that the plus sized athlete will feel comfortable wearing. Comfort = Confidence. Confidence = Improved Performance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fab Food Find: One Coconut Water Review

I easily found the One Natural Experience Coconut Water in more than a few places using the store locator on their website. I was also surprised to find that it is available at common grocery stores like Kroger and Fiesta... so really no need to trapse to Whole Foods -- that's a good thing when you live (evidently) on the wrong side of the 4th largest city in the US! They can have 3 Whole Foods in North/Northwest Houston, but none south of downtown??? I digress... that's a whole'nother entry.

I poured myself a glass over ice and took a sip. It is just ever so slightly thicker than water. The taste is nice and palatable. Remember, I tried the plain coconut water, not one of it's fruitier variations. The bottle bills it as a"natural sports drink", and it tastes like what I imagine a sports drink might taste like without fake flavoring.

I do enjoy coconut, but it has never been a favorite. The taste of coconut in this was pleasantly lighter than I expected. I guess because it's called "coconut water" I expected heavy, like coconut milk. In any case, I tasted just a hint of coconut and I think I tasted a teeny-tiny bit of sodium... again, to be expected since it is a "sports drink."

Just to be clear, this is not coconut "flavored" water -- this is from their website. It is an all-natural beverage:

"O.N.E.™ Coconut Water is the water from inside the young green coconut. The water is extracted from the coconut at approximately seven months, before the meat grows. While the meat of the coconut (from which coconut milk and oils are extracted) is rich in fat and protein; O.N.E.™ Coconut Water has no fat. Our Coconut Water is naturally filtered through the dense fibers of the coconut creating a nutritious, pure, and refreshing isotonic beverage.

O.N.E.™ Coconut Water is 100% natural, and has five essential electrolytes (calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and sodium), more potassium than a banana (15 times the amount of potassium as most sports drinks, without the artificial chemicals found in sports drinks.), no added sugars, no fat, no cholesterol, and no preservatives. Additionally, O.N.E.™ Coconut Water is a naturally sweet, low calorie, hydrating beverage. Due to proprietary manufacturing processes, O.N.E.™ Coconut Water never comes into contact with light or oxygen, maintaining its fresh taste and nutrient content. "

This beverage has 15 g. of sugar per serving from coconut. There is no added sugar -- this is a true "wholesome" food, and sat well with my stomach/pouch. I DID NOT get all swooshy in the head from it, like I do from Gatorade, or other drinks with more than 10 g of sugar.

I appreciate the eco-friendly packaging too; that's nice -- it makes it easy to care about the environment. :)

Overall a great alternative to a typical sports drink or plain ol' water. Though very light and palatable, it's not something I would want to drink all day, every day. To me it's water with a purposeful use.

Worth a try during brick training tomorrow. :)

On the Search: Potential Fab Food Find

I was getting caught up on my Jillian Michaels podcasts and one of the listeners emailed a question about how to fuel for a marathon in a more natural, organic way.

I thought this was a good question, because even though the gels and bars seem to be effective for most, I don't really feel much different when I use them. I do better with real food -- my race breakfast is always an Ezekiel English Muffin with an egg and lowfat cheese (I didn't have an egg for Danskin.... oh well -- shoot! Maybe if I did, my run would have been better! LOL )

Anyway...

It's no secret Jillian hates the electrolyte drinks and bars, so her first suggestion was oranges... we used them as kids for sports and they were fine then, and are just as fine now. Portability is probably an issue still while doing a marathon, but you get what she's saying.

But this was really interesting... as for a drink replacement shen suggested her new favorite


The product is all natural, 100% coconut water. 's only 60 calories, fat free and loaded with potassium!
Anyway, I'm off today to visit my local Whole Foods to find this product. I'll be back later with more info on it. :)

Checked out the other nutritional values on the other flavors: Not. Pouch. Friendly. Too much sugar in the other varieties. Sad, because the Acai flavor has the Omegas in it; a nice little health benefit.

It Might Pay to be Crab-a-licious!

Okay, so I was crabby and griping last night about not wanting to run. I went kicking and screaming out the door after Hubs made it home. I can't even tell you how little I was looking forward to the heat and humidity. I finally made it out about 7:15.

Much to my surprise I hit a PR last night, do ing my 5.06 miles at a less than 12 minute pace! I can't believe it, really!

Of course after I was happy I went... that's how it always goes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Days...

I just kick and scream all the way to, during and from my workout. I am running 5 miles today, no matter what.

I ain't feeling anything but the heat index right now. Bah!

Swimming for Triathlon- Endless Pool Underwater Video

Training for this Week

This week plans to be crazy! Cassie has music camp and I have a significant email upgrade project beginning Friday night!

Running in Houston's humidity is killing me, but I am determined to get my mileage in this week!

SUN: (Yesterday) OFF
MON: Run 5
TUE: Swim 1,000 (drills) - Lower Body Weights
WED: Brick (Ride 12/Run 3
THU: Run 3 - Upper Body Weights
FRI: Swim 1,000 (nonstop)
SAT: Run 5 & Full Body Weights
SUN: Ride 30 miles

That's the plan... stay tuned for the execution :)

As for the scale... well, it's moving in a downward trend, so that makes me happy. Would still like to see me routinely fall below my lowest weight, but 2 or 3 lbs fluctuations up and down are to be expected until this hormone stuff gets corrected. I go back to the Endo on July 8th for blood draw, so we'll see where things are then. I just want to get regulated; I know it's a long process. I'm trying to be patient.

Next tri up is Y Freedom. It's a 300m swim, but in a 50m pool. That's something new for me. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Little Fun! 2009 Houston Police Department Midnight Classic Ride

So we can count on two hands how many times Darren and I have gone out since Cassie was born, let alone ride together! Cassie is 4 1/2 now and we tried out a babysitter last night!

We joined Elysha and Doug and did the Houston Police Department's Midnight Classic ride. They shut down Memorial Drive between downtown and the Aquairum and Shepherd to create a 5 miles loop. Between 10pm and Midnight you do the loop as many times as you want/can.

It was tons of fun. Next year we'll get there for 9pm, when they do the family ride, and bring the Cassinator. :)


Houston - sometimes it looks nice. :)


Elysha and "Husband" aka Doug


Not the most flattering of sides, but great numbers!


Elysha and I... Yuckin' it up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Like It! Zoot Sports 8" TRIfit Short

All that said about the Moving Comfort find in my previous post, I did find an XXL in the Zoot Sports TRIfit 8" Short (woman's) and they were fabulous. They're on sale at RaceLogix for $56 right now!

I wore them for the Danskin and I had no complaints at all! I loved them. They fit well and offered great compression and, well, smoothed the "rolls" to the extent they could be smoothed. LOL

The XXL waist is 37-39 inches and the hips were 44-46 inches; so they were right up my size alley. I love that they were mid-height, and not hip-huggers, because they kept my stomach in place (along with all it's loose skin) and minimized movement during the run and offered a draw-string for further security.

They were comfortable, dried well and were not at all bulky. The side mesh pockets were big enough to actually be useful, handy and easily accessible, even on the bike. So far they are my favorite, but I'll let you know how I feel about the Moving Comfort compression short after I try it and tri it!!!

Moving Comfort MCW!

So one of my favorites, Misty of "The Athena Diaries", made mention of Moving Comfort.

I've been a long time fan of their sports bras, especially the Maia and my new recent favorite, the Fiona. Both work well for all three sports and does not give me any chafing or uni-boob. Until I found these babies, I was going broke with E-nell. Don't get me wrong, the E-nell's are awesome but I hate the seam across the boob. Plus, you have sell a limb each time you want to buy one.

So, Misty mentioned MC's Compression Runner Shorts and how they are the only ones she buys now. Of course that speaks volumes to me, since I am always trying to find the right, comfortable fitting training gear.

So I visted MC's site, and I have no idea why I never noticed it before, but they have a whole plus-size section; it's called the MCW collection! You can imagine my surprise, since I sit right, smack-dab, in the middle of misses and plus, which makes it challenging to find the right fit!

I looked further and saw that they offered the compressesion short in the "MCW" sizing and they did. I figured it was too good to be true and that the technology wouldn't be the same, but I called Moving Comfort and they were fabulous and helpful! They told me the only difference in the sizes was the length. The MCW short comes in a 9" length the regular sizing comes in a 7.5" length. And they are reasonably priced at $32 to $38!

I love they way they respect their "plus" sizes too!

We love that active women come to us with unique sizing, support and shaping needs. Our MCW line is a natural passion for us, and one we’re proud of. We don’t simply up the size, but think about the specific tailoring and cut, and we always make the clothes with our signature high-performance fabrics and flattering design lines. A Fit Woman is a Powerful Woman!® Spread the word.


I'm spreading it!

So I have a pair of the MCW shorts coming as well as a top and will share what I find.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

2009 Danskin *Updated - Pics*

Where do I start? What a weekend!

I think I’ve started writing this several times, but it just comes rambling out. Guess there is a lot I want to say.

We arrived in Austin on Friday. The Expo was on Saturday. Elysha and I met up with my other “Tri Diva” friends to pick-up our packets, chips, swag and check-in our bikes. It was great to see and met some of them for the first time.

For me, by the time I started packing to head to the hotel I was getting nervous. I just kept repeating to myself that I couldn’t do anything any better than I have. Over the course of my training I missed a total of running 7 miles and swimming 2000m since April. In the big picture those 7 miles and 2000 m were not going to make me any faster. The rest was only going to come to me during the event.

Elysha and I woke on Sunday and were out the door pretty quickly, after prepping our hairdryer warmed Ezekiel English muffins and low fat cream cheese. We made it swiftly to the grounds and started prepping. Damn… I was nervous. I don’t think anyone really knew just what a mess I was inside.

I didn’t want to fail myself. I only wanted to prove to myself that my training was paying off; that the sacrifices my family was making that allowed me to train weren’t pointless. I needed to do just a little better. I didn’t want to fail my friends who, for some reason, seemed to have this impression that I was some super Triathlete. I’m adequate with a little touch of nuts at best. :)

As the start time drew near we made our way to the dock where the swim launched. For some reason I was confused about what wave I was in. I kept thinking age, but it was going by bib number… I was in wave 7, and in the nick of time realized it. I made my way to the front and started appropriately and pretty much immediately.

As I started to swim, I literally thanked God for something different each time I looked at the sky while taking my breath during the freestyle. I thanked him for the day, the weather, my friends, my body (yes, unbelievably so), my courage, my trust that he would take care of me. He did. My stroke was steady and I was in control of my breathing, which had been somewhat of a challenge in open water for me. I had no struggles. I didn’t have to float on my back at all. My problem was navigating through the other athletes and sighting. Easily something I can work on.

As I came out of the water my legs were just a touch heavy. I ran up to the timing mat and then slowed my pace a bit. I had a pretty good transition, but made a mental note about needing an extra water bottle to spray off my feet – they were kinda dirty and I didn’t think mulch in my cycling show would feel good.

I mounted the bike and just rode in a spinning gear for a mile or two. As I felt my legs back I was feeling more like myself. Back in 2003 I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike for nearly every large hill. This year I navigated all the hills on my bike, never getting off. By the end my average speed was 14.4 – I was thrilled with the improvement. By far, the best achievement for me on the bike course was completing the steep descent into the hard right turn, into a steep uphill climb. I had to come out of my seat and found myself breathing like a buffalo, but I made it to the top. I think I started crying a little right then and there! I totally remember how defeated I felt in 2003 when I had to get off my bike.

When I got to the last hill I encountered a plus-sized athlete, who reminded me of me, back in 2003. I slowed down next to her and told her to remember, “as long as you are moving forward you’re still making progress”. Someone said that to me, and it made a difference; it’s easy to forget when you’re challenging yourself beyond anything you’d done before.

I transitioned for the run pretty quickly and was on my way. I started out pretty good until this woman, slightly older than me, started chatting me up. She was telling me how she just did a half IM in Florida last week. She happened to be from the Houston area too, so we got little chatty and started wogging together. Although she was lovely company, I let my own pace slip away. I could have done better had I remained more focused, but it was worth hearing her story. I do believe she was trying to get me to drink the IM kool-aid. Uh, no thanks – need an Oly under my belt before I go to any fraction of an IM! LOL

I finally crossed the line at 2 hours 11 minutes (bawling!) – I didn’t make my sub 2 hour goal, but I had a great time enjoying each recognizable improvement that I made:

In April’s Lonestar, I did 300 m in 26 minutes.
At the Danskin I did 800 m in 29 minutes and had control of my breathing.

In Danskin 2003, I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike at all the big hills
At Danskin 2009, I averaged 14.4 and stayed on the bike and in the pedals.

At May’s Y Practice Tri myRun time was 49 minutes.
At the Danskin 2009 my run was 44 minutes, and could have definitely been better had I not been yappin!

(sometime between 2003 and 2009 I moved, married, had a baby, wls and lost my gallbladder!)

This body, the one that I despise on more days than I care to admit, brought me through all this. This is a gift that not everyone has the courage or wherewithal to enjoy and I promise to be kinder to my body (and my mind) because they (me) deserve it.

To my fellow Tri Divas…

Alana and Courtney – We made that promise in 2003 to come back to the Danskin in 2003 and do it as individuals, so really, you guys are the reason I made it back to the Danskin in 2009 and I’m glad to have returned to the event with the two of you, because even though we didn’t get a lot of time together at the event I still knew you all were there. It wouldn’t have been the same had you not been there on the same day, accomplishing the same thing. I’m not sure why you ever drank what I was giving you from that first Ride for the Roses in 2003, but I’m glad you did. Crazy loves company, I guess. Thanks for always reminding me of where I was and where I am.

Leslie – I am so proud you had a change of heart out and did the bike. I hope you take a moment to enjoy the accomplishment and don’t regret seeing the tri through its entirety. Good luck on your future swimming endeavors! I still hope to embrace my “inner fish”.

Lynn – My goodness! I can hardly believe that 4 months ago you hadn’t even had your face in the water. I know this was a challenge for you and by the grace of God and your power of persistence you came, saw and conquered… no matter what the speed, you did it, and the rest of it was “up hill” from there, so to speak! Of course I’ll continue to watch you train, but it was lovely to meet you and I hope to see you around again in “real life” when we have more time.

Drea – You self-proclaimed yourself the “fraudulent triathlete” and my heart hurts that you feel the way you do about your accomplishment. I do understand where you are coming from as you provided your reasoning, but I have to disagree. You may not have trained and made sacrifices in the way you thought or even hoped you might, but the hardest part of this race is showing up to the starting line, and you did. For whatever reason, not participating wasn’t even an option in your mind! That doesn’t happen with someone who fears challenge. You have inner strength you need to tap into a little deeper and learn not to be afraid of accomplishment in it’s finest form. You deserve to feel the grandeur of crossing that finish in its full glory (training perfectly or not). I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to get to know you, because of your strength is any indication of who you are as a person I look forward to getting to know you as well!

Jenn – I know our meeting was brief, but how awesome is it that you made the trek down here to do this tri. You are still aka “Da Fish”, and I hope to continue to watch your training and see you grow!

Angel – I had no idea of your story until the day of the tri! So you might imagine how shocked I was to find out you were a survivor and all you had gone through which brought you to that day. I realize I don’t know you… well, at all, really, but when I heard your name as you crossed the Finish I got chills. I’m glad to have caught the picture of you truly living more than surviving on that special day! Good luck to you and hope to see you again. My prayers are also with you as you continue your journey.

Elysha – How could I forget you? You know how I feel, but I am so lucky that for whatever reason we managed to connect. You are definitely like my sister from another mother. I’m so happy you enjoy an unbelievable zest for life that leads you to living it fully and with fun and laughter. I’m glad to be a part of it now too! It helps that you’re a little crazy and easily persuaded to do these crazy events with me – thanks for being right there with me in the thick of it! And no, YOU Rock. :)

And to the other Tri Divas that I don’t really know all that well: As I hear pieces of each of your stories I’m amazed by each one of you. I only hope I get another opportunity to see you all again!

That's me... #686!

2009 Danskin

Where do I start? What a weekend!

I think I’ve started writing this several times, but it just comes rambling out. Guess there is a lot I want to say.

We arrived in Austin on Friday. The Expo was on Saturday. Elysha and I met up with my other “Tri Diva” friends to pick-up our packets, chips, swag and check-in our bikes. It was great to see and met some of them for the first time.

For me, by the time I started packing to head to the hotel I was getting nervous. I just kept repeating to myself that I couldn’t do anything any better than I have. Over the course of my training I missed a total of running 7 miles and swimming 2000m since April. In the big picture those 7 miles and 2000 m were not going to make me any faster. The rest was only going to come to me during the event.

Elysha and I woke on Sunday and were out the door pretty quickly, after prepping our hairdryer warmed Ezekiel English muffins and low fat cream cheese. We made it swiftly to the grounds and started prepping. Damn… I was nervous. I don’t think anyone really knew just what a mess I was inside.

I didn’t want to fail myself. I only wanted to prove to myself that my training was paying off; that the sacrifices my family was making that allowed me to train weren’t pointless. I needed to do just a little better. I didn’t want to fail my friends who, for some reason, seemed to have this impression that I was some super Triathlete. I’m adequate with a little touch of nuts at best. :)

As the start time drew near we made our way to the dock where the swim launched. For some reason I was confused about what wave I was in. I kept thinking age, but it was going by bib number… I was in wave 7, and in the nick of time realized it. I made my way to the front and started appropriately and pretty much immediately.

As I started to swim, I literally thanked God for something different each time I looked at the sky while taking my breath during the freestyle. I thanked him for the day, the weather, my friends, my body (yes, unbelievably so), my courage, my trust that he would take care of me. He did. My stroke was steady and I was in control of my breathing, which had been somewhat of a challenge in open water for me. I had not struggles. I didn’t have to float on my back at all. My problem was navigating through the other athletes and sighting. Easily something I can work on.

As I came out of the water my legs were just a touch heavy. I ran up to the timing mat and then slowed my pace a bit. I had a pretty good transition, but made a mental note about needing an extra water bottle to spray off my feet – they were kinda dirty and I didn’t think mulch in my cycling show would feel good.

I mounted the bike and just rode in a spinning gear for a mile or two. As I felt my legs back I was feeling more like myself. Back in 2003 I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike for nearly every large hill. This year I navigated all the hills on my bike, never getting off. By the end my average speed was 14.4 – I was thrilled with the improvement. By far, the best achievement for me on the bike course was completing the steep descent into the hard right turn, into a steep uphill climb. I had to come out of my seat and found myself breathing like a buffalo, but I made it to the top. I think I started crying a little right then and there! I totally remember how defeated I felt in 2003 when I had to get off my bike.

When I got to the last hill I encountered a plus-sized athlete, who reminded me of me, back in 2003. I slowed down next to her and told her to remember, “as long as you are moving forward you’re still making progress”. Someone said that to me, and it made a difference; it’s easy to forget when you’re challenging yourself beyond anything you’d done before.

I transitioned for the run pretty quickly and was on my way. I started out pretty good until this woman, slightly older than me, started chatting me up. She was telling me how she just did a half IM in Florida last week. She happened to be from the Houston area too, so we got little chatty and started wogging together. Although she was lovely company, I let my own pace slip away. I could have done better had I remained more focused, but it was worth hearing her story. I do believe she was trying to get me to drink the IM kool-aid. Uh, no thanks – need an Oly under my belt before I go to any fraction of an IM! LOL

I finally crossed the line at 2 hours 11 minutes (bawling!) – I didn’t make my sub 2 hour goal, but I had a great time enjoying each recognizable improvement that I made:

In April’s Lonestar, I did 300 m in 26 minutes.
At the Danskin I did 800 m in 29 minutes and had control of my breathing.

In Danskin 2003, I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike at all the big hills
At Danskin 2009, I averaged 14.4 and stayed on the bike and in the pedals.

At May’s Y Practice Tri myRun time was 49 minutes.
At the Danskin 2009 my run was 44 minutes, and could have definitely been better had I not been yappin!

(sometime between 2003 and 2009 I moved, married, had a baby, wls and lost my gallbladder!)

This body, the one that I despise on more days than I care to admit, brought me through all this. This is a gift that not everyone has the courage or wherewithal to enjoy and I promise to be kinder to my body (and my mind) because they (me) deserve it.

To my fellow Tri Divas…

Alana and Courtney – We made that promise in 2003 to come back to the Danskin in 2003 and do it as individuals, so really, you guys are the reason I made it back to the Danskin in 2009 and I’m glad to have returned to the event with the two of you, because even though we didn’t get a lot of time together at the event I still knew you all were there. It wouldn’t have been the same had you not been there on the same day, accomplishing the same thing. I’m not sure why you ever drank what I was giving you from that first Ride for the Roses in 2003, but I’m glad you did. Crazy loves company, I guess. Thanks for always reminding me of where I was and where I am.

Leslie – I am so proud you had a change of heart out and did the bike. I hope you take a moment to enjoy the accomplishment and don’t regret seeing the tri through its entirety. Good luck on your future swimming endeavors! I still hope to embrace my “inner fish”.

Lynn – My goodness! I can hardly believe that 4 months ago you hadn’t even had your face in the water. I know this was a challenge for you and by the grace of God and your power of persistence you came, saw and conquered… no matter what the speed, you did it, and the rest of it was “up hill” from there, so to speak! Of course I’ll continue to watch you train, but it was lovely to meet you and I hope to see you around again in “real life” when we have more time.

Drea – You self-proclaimed yourself the “fraudulent triathlete” and my heart hurts that you feel the way you do about your accomplishment. I do understand where you are coming from as you provided your reasoning, but I have to disagree. You may not have trained and made sacrifices in the way you thought or even hoped you might, but the hardest part of this race is showing up to the starting line, and you did. For whatever reason, not participating wasn’t even an option in your mind! That doesn’t happen with someone who fears challenge. You have inner strength you need to tap into a little deeper and learn not to be afraid of accomplishment in it’s finest form. You deserve to feel the grandeur of crossing that finish in its full glory (training perfectly or not). I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to get to know you, because of your strength is any indication of who you are as a person I look forward to getting to know you as well!

Jenn – I know our meeting was brief, but how awesome is it that you made the trek down here to do this tri. You are still aka “Da Fish”, and I hope to continue to watch your training and see you grow!

Angel – I had no idea of your story until the day of the tri! So you might imagine how shocked I was to find out you were a survivor and all you had gone through which brought you to that day. I realize I don’t know you… well, at all, really, but when I heard your name as you crossed the Finish I got chills. I’m glad to have caught the picture of you truly living more than surviving on that special day! Good luck to you and hope to see you again. My prayers are also with you as you continue your journey.

Elysha – How could I forget you? You know how I feel, but I am so lucky that for whatever reason we managed to connect. You are definitely like my sister from another mother. I’m so happy you enjoy an unbelievable zest for life that leads you to living it fully and with fun and laughter. I’m glad to be a part of it now too! It helps that you’re a little crazy and easily persuaded to do these crazy events with me – thanks for being right there with me in the thick of it! And no, YOU Rock. :)

And to the other Tri Divas that I don’t really know all that well: As I hear pieces of each of your stories I’m amazed by each one of you. I only hope I get another opportunity to see you all again!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thoughts on This Weekend's Challenge

So this weekend brings everything full-circle for me in a way.

Back in 2003 me and my fellow tri-divas committed to doing the Danskin Tri. Not knowing what we were getting into, coupled with the fact that none of us really knew how to train properly (or maybe part of it was just good ol' fashioned fear) we chose to do the event as a relay. We figured, at the least, it would be a good learning experience and expose us to the world of triathlon. We vowed to go back one day and do the race as individuals. 2 of them did it last year in Chicago, but this year it is my turn to come full-circle.

We finished the 2003 event and indeed we were not the same women who started the race. We did feel stronger and capable of doing what some deem unthinkable. To us, at that time, we were on the "finishers high" and felt like we could do anything, but...

Life happens, change occurs... people move, mature, grow, get married, have babies. For me, I never gave up the thought of doing another tri individually. It just kind of got put on hold for a few years while satiated my desire for challenge with cycling. I did a super-sprint last Summer, and after that I knew I'd be doing more. The Danskin will be the 3rd sprint tri this season and will be the hardest with the lengthier swim and bike in the hills.

The Danksin, unlike the other tris, brings everything full circle for me. Going back and doing this event individually, but still with my tri-divas, means a lot to me. I don't know why exactly, but it just does.

Ef-it. I get e'mo over everything. I know. But whatever. It's my blog. :)

And while some might fuss and say, "What's the big deal?" "It's not like its an Ironman or even an Olympic distance Tri", it is still a challenge -- 3 sports in one day. And while it doesn't come with a title like "Ironman" and we can't "Dot the i" after we finish, You can't fake participation in a tri at any distance (Okay, unless maybe you're Mr/Ms Freaky-Superfit). You have to have put the effort in and break the sweat; swim, bike, run and repeat. Crossing the finish is the pay-off for every time I get up before the sun, so I can get to work early, so I can leave early to train AND have time with my family. I'm so lucky my family is supportive, otherwise none of it would be happening.

We move forward together, old and new tri-divas, and set out to achieve what some people only think about doing.

"Throw back the shoulders,
let the heart sing,
let the eyes flash,
let the mind be lifted up,
look upward and say to yourself...nothing is impossible!"

Better Running Through Walking

Better Running Through Walking
Published: June 2, 2009 - NY Times
Walk breaks, it turns out, may speed a marathon.

I am more couch potato than runner. But not long ago, I decided to get myself into shape to run in the New York City Marathon, on Nov. 1, just 152 days from now. (Not that I’m counting.)

To train for my first marathon, I’m using the “run-walk” method, popularized by the distance coach Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic team. When I mentioned this to a colleague who runs, she snickered — a common reaction among purists.

But after interviewing several people who have used the method, I’m convinced that those of us run-walking the marathon will have the last laugh.

Contrary to what you might think, the technique doesn’t mean walking when you’re tired; it means taking brief walk breaks when you’re not.

Depending on one’s fitness level, a walk-break runner might run for a minute and walk for a minute, whether on a 5-mile training run or the 26.2-mile course on race day. A more experienced runner might incorporate a one-minute walk break for every mile of running.

Taking these breaks makes marathon training less grueling and reduces the risk of injury, Mr. Galloway says, because it gives the muscles regular recovery time during a long run. Walk breaks are a way for older, less fit and overweight people to take part in a sport that would otherwise be off limits. But most surprising are the stories from veteran runners who say run-walk training has helped them post faster race times than ever.

One of them is Tim Deegan of Jacksonville, Fla., who had run 25 marathons when his wife, Donna Deegan, a popular local newscaster and cancer survivor, began organizing a marathon to raise money for breast cancer research. When Mr. Galloway volunteered to help with the race, Ms. Deegan asked her husband to take part in run-walk training to show support.

“The only reason I did this is because I love my wife,” said Mr. Deegan, 49. “To say I was a skeptic is to put it very nicely.”

But to his surprise, he began to enjoy running more, and he found that his body recovered more quickly from long runs. His times had been slowing — to about 3 hours 45 minutes, 15 minutes shy of qualifying for the Boston Marathon — but as he ran-walked his way through the Jacksonville Marathon, “I started thinking I might have a chance to qualify for Boston again.”

He did, posting a time of 3:28.

Nadine Rihani of Nashville ran her first marathon at age 61, taking walk breaks. Her running friends urged her to adopt more traditional training, and she was eventually sidelined by back and hip pain. So she resumed run-walk training, and in April, at age 70, she finished first in her age group in the Country Music Marathon, coming in at 6:05.

“My friends who were ‘serious’ runners said, ‘You don’t need to do those walk breaks,’ ” she said. “I found out the hard way I really did.”

Dave Desposato, a 46-year-old financial analyst, began run-walk training several years ago after excessive running resulted in an overuse injury. He finished this year’s Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Mich., in 3:31:42, cutting 12 minutes off his previous best.

“I run enough marathons now to see everybody totally collapsing at the end is very, very common,” he said. “You wish you could share your experience with them, but they have to be willing to listen first.”

Another unconventional element of walk-break training is the frequency — typically just three days a week, with two easy runs of 20 to 60 minutes each and a long run on the weekend. The walk breaks allow runners to build up their mileage without subjecting their bodies to the stress of daily running, Mr. Galloway said.

Many runners take their own version of walk breaks without thinking about it, he says: they slow down at water stations or reduce their pace when they tire. Scheduling walk breaks earlier in a run gives the athlete control over the race and a chance to finish stronger.

While I’m planning to use run-walk training to complete my first marathon, I’ve heard from many runners who adhere to a variety of training methods. So later this week, the Well blog will have a new feature: the Run Well marathon training tool, with which you can choose any of several coaches’ training plans and then track your progress.

Besides Mr. Galloway, plans are being offered by the marathoner Greg McMillan, who is renowned for his detailed training plans that help runners reach their time goals; the New York Flyers, the city’s largest running club, which incorporates local road races into its training; and Team for Kids, a New York Road Runners Foundation charity program that trains 5,000 adult runners around the world.

The Run Well series also gives you access to top running experts, advice from elite runners, reviews of running gadgets and regular doses of inspiration to get you race-ready.

So please join me, the coaches and other running enthusiasts every day at the Well blog, nytimes.com/well, during the next five months of training. For me, this is finally the year I’ll run a marathon. I hope it will be your year too.

Article on Triathlon Swimming Technique

Triathlon Swimming in a Nutshell
Marty Gaal - June 2003

The swim portion of a triathlon is usually one of the biggest challenges for both newcomers and veterans in the sport. The swim of even the shortest sprint event presents a host of difficulties. You may find yourself surrounded by thrashing bodies, gasping for air, when someone inadvertently dunks your head. Or a current or riptide could sweep you a hundred yards off-course. You could lose sight of the marker buoy and swim the wrong way. You could cramp. Your wetsuit could be too tight. Your goggles could fog up or fill with salt water. Or any other combination of race day nightmares could take place. And that’s just for starts!

And now that I’ve got you good and properly freaked out…how can you avoid these problems?

Simple. Preparation and practice. If you want to do well, remain calm, and enjoy the experience, you’ll need to practice swimming laps and loops, and you’ll want to prepare for the specific event you’ll be competing in. Showing up at the starting line with a new pair of goggles and zero laps in your body, then asking somebody to point you in the right direction may sound like fun over beers on a Friday night, but on race day morning it’s a different story!

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of swim practice and swim technique, I’d like to point out that often the best and simplest method to get into good swimming shape is to join a local master’s team and attend practice regularly. Working with a proficient stroke coach is also very beneficial. If your master’s coach can work with your stroke, you are in luck. If not, find a good swimmer or stroke coach and let them work with you. Spending a little extra time and money to iron out the kinks in your swim stroke early into your triathlon career will save you a great deal of frustration and will reap big rewards down the road.

Now that my coaching disclaimer is out of the way, let’s break it down.

There are three fundamental aspects to swimming fast in open water racing and you need to have a good grasp on all to swim well in triathlon. Namely, stroke technique, interval training, and site-specific preparation, in that order.

Stroke Technique

Stroke technique has been well documented in a number of publications in recent years, and I’m only going to summarize some of the basics about front crawl, or freestyle, in this article.

In order to swim fast, you must first swim well. A few people are strong enough to barrel through the water with horrible technique, but that is inefficient and a waste of energy, and you’ll need all the energy you can spare in this sport (since you still need to bike and run afterwards).

There are four basic parts to the swim stroke – hand entry, underwater catch and pull, hand exit, and recovery.

We’ll start with the hand entry. Your hand should enter the water about 12 inches in front of your head, then thrust forward as you roll your shoulder to fully extend your reach.

You’ll then start the underwater catch and pull. Ideally you should slightly tilt your hand at the beginning of the stroke -the catch- so that it is approaching a perpendicular angle to the bottom of the pool. As you pull your hand towards your body (or pull your body towards your hand), your hand and forearm will apply force to the water and you will be propelled forward.

Meanwhile, your upper body should roll to allow your shoulder to turn with your arm motion. As your hand and arm go under your body you may want to move them in a slight S pattern while maintaining a near-perpendicular hand-forearm angle to the bottom of the pool (in order to catch as much water as possible). As your hand and arm pass through the midline of the underwater pull stroke (your arm is straight down under your shoulder, ie, perfectly perpendicular), you will no longer be pulling your body through the water; you’ll be pushing it. This part of the stroke is slightly weaker than the ‘pull’ but is not to be ignored. Continue to push the water while your hand maintains an angle reasonably close to perpendicular.

Once your arm is almost entirely behind you (parallel to the bottom – hand near hips), bend your elbow from the shoulder and lift your arm out of the water. You can give the water one last push with your hand (hand exit) and then begin your stroke recovery.

You’ll want to keep your elbow higher than your hand, and run your hand forward in an imaginary straight line to the point where your hand will re-enter the water, 12 inches or so in front of your head. Do not flail your arm around and don’t swing your hand higher than your elbow. That may feel faster, but I can guarantee you it is functionally slower and spends more energy. Remember this: Straight-line recovery. Practice it.

Meanwhile, you’ve got those big cyclist-runner legs down there just dragging along. In triathlon you’ll want to use a two-beat kick to maintain a rhythm with your stroke and keep your lower body from sinking. Two-beat kick means you kick one time with the opposite leg in synchrony with your hand and arm entering the water at the beginning of the stroke cycle. The kick will give you a bit of additional forward propulsion as you extend your hand forward (some people have a slight pause here, just before they start their pull). Anyway, you can kick more or harder to go a bit faster, but you need to save your leg strength for the bike and run, so use your judgment. I kick a good bit in short events but barely at all in long events.

Interval Training

Now that you know what a proper stroke is all about, how do you translate that into fast swim splits? Get in the pool and swim! In swimming, consistency and frequency are crucial. If you have the time and motivation to swim five times a week, go for it. But just swimming back and forth isn’t good enough. You need to break up those swims and complete interval workouts with various levels of effort. For example, instead of swimming 60 x 25 yard laps straight (1500 yds), try:

* 400 yard easy warm up
* 6 x 2 laps (50 yds), one lap easy, one lap fast, with :30 seconds rest between 50s
* 6 x 4 laps (100 yds), at 85% max effort, with :15 seconds rest between 100s
* 200 yard easy cool down

The purpose behind swim intervals is to adapt your body to higher intensity efforts and make you more comfortable with hard, fast racing, since, after all, triathlon is a race. If you’re training for sprints, make sure your main interval set is between 500-1000 yards. For Olympic distance, keep it between 1000 to 2500 yards. For Half-IM and IM you may want to swim sets of up to 4000 yards in distance at lower intensities. In addition, when you swim intervals, make sure to continue to pay attention to your stroke technique. Remember, swimming hard with poor technique just teaches you to swim hard, poorly. Swim well - you’ll smile more!

Now you know how to swim correctly, and you know how to train correctly. Next we’ll discuss how to race correctly.

Site Specific Preparation

Each triathlon has its own set of challenges. Around these parts, you may be swimming in a bay, a lake, a gulf, a river, or an ocean. You may need to be prepared for any of the following – wind chop, waves, riptides, cold water, hot water, sand bars, jellyfish, and other swimmers. You’ll want to swim in a straight line. You’ll want to avoid getting smashed around by other swimmers. You’ll want to remain calm and in control of yourself.

To do that, get out to a convenient open water venue and practice. If the race is in the ocean, get comfortable swimming through the break. In a lake – make sure you’re prepared for wind chop. I suggest swimming with a buddy so you can keep an eye on each other, and stay out of areas with high boat traffic and or other dangers. If you can set a swim marker, practice sighting and swimming a straight line. You can lose vast amounts of time swimming in a zig-zag fashion if you are unprepared.

If it is a wetsuit legal swim, make sure you’ve tried out a few different models and are wearing a wetsuit that is snug but neither too tight nor too loose. Both cause problems. Practice in your wetsuit before you go to a race. Make sure your goggles are comfortable and don’t leak too much. In other words, prepare in advance.

Finally, when race day arrives, remain calm. Don’t freak out. Don’t go all out for 100 yards and then blow a gasket – dial in your pace from the beginning. Don’t get upset when you get bumped, hit, and smashed around on occasion during the swim. Remember that the person next to you didn’t mean it and is just trying to get from point A to point B, like you. If you’re a strong, confident swimmer, line up in front and blast off when they say, “Go!” If not, line up off to the side or back and let the more experienced athletes go ahead.

If you stick with it, there will be a day when you line up in front as well.

And that, my soon to be fish-like friends, is triathlon swimming in a nutshell. So get wet, have fun, and I’ll see you at the races!

Marty Gaal - June 2003

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Over 20,000 Served

So a couple days ago I hit 20,000 hits on my blog. 20,000 is a nice number... not that it's signifies anything in particular, but it sounds like a lot. :) Thanks to the searches for "Folate", "What kind of bike should I buy?" "Pumpkin Pound Cake" and "Stuffed Pork", which significantly added to the total. LOL

Yesterday I managed to find some company to go swim out at Anders Lake. I know I've been putting in my pool time and I know I am becoming a better swimmer. That said, I left the lake feeling defeated. Less than accomplished. I beat myself up entirely too much. I just want to do better than my last open water swim. I also realize I have to be reasonable. The Danskin distance is twice what Silverlake was, and will be the longest distance I go this summer.

1 lap around the lake is 620 m, which I did. Then I took a break and did another 400 m (out and back to the first buoy). I did some back floating at about 500 m and finsihed out the 620. I took a 5 minute break and did another 400, which was super pitiful on the last 200 back.

The biggest challenge for me is remembering to breathe? Why is this so hard? I feel like it is second nature when I am in the pool, but the moment I get into open water I start holding my breath again. Muscles need oxygen in and out to work effectively!

Another more experienced swimmer suggested maybe I am claustrophobic? I don't think so. He said many folks get that way from swimming in murky open water, when you can't see anything in the water around you. Who knows?

But I do know I need more practice in the open water and that its the only thing that is going to make me better at it. After Danskin my next open water swim is the Clear Lake Int'l Tri... it's 400 m. I am determined to swim it well.

So today I am happy I made it through the 620, even though the last 200 were pretty tough. I'm also glad I didn't just finish the lap and go home. I had to swim 1,000 m on my schedule for yesterday, and left doing 1020... so I should enjoy a feeling of accomplishment from that.

I love the training and always enjoy race day. Hate the head games; this is where you can lose it all.