Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Club Scrap Reunion Blog Hop

Welcome to the December edition of Club Scrap's Blog Hop.

If you happened upon me, please do yourself a huge favor and start at the beginning at Club Scraps Blog and explore all the talented Artists who are participating in this months blog.  You can find the Club Scrap blog here:

It's been a while since I have been able to participate in one of these.   I am so glad I had a chance to this month.  I have been playing, playing, playing in my craft room.

I did two projects this month.   First I want to show you how easy Club Scraps coordinated kits can make throwing together a tribute album.

 I have been wanting to make a tribute Album for my mom for a little over a year now, and life kept getting int he way.   I had taken Big Picture Classes Tribute Album Class while back and the one thing those folks are so good at is the coordinated look.   I have about zero capability of throwing together colors and and patterns and other elements to pull a theme together.   That's where Club Scrap comes in.

To get the content of the album I invited all our family (aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters etc) to contribute memories about my mom, or their favorite things.  I also invited a few of mine and my brothers friends who she "took in" (sometimes literally) in their teenage or college years to contribute.    The images and colors and sentiments that came with the Club Scrap's Reunion kit were a perfect fit for the feelings and sentiments I wanted to convey to my mom.  I kept it very simple, no major embellishments on the pages, just a background page, a photo matte and a coordinated strip between the photo and the memory.  Here are just a few of the pages.

In Hindsight a gnome would have been a perfect addition to this page

Finally I put together a cover and a dedication page using Reunion Elements:

It is just so easy to put together something that looks so amazing using the coordinated items Club Scrap puts together for  us.  I love that they are so talented so I do not have to be, but it looks like I am.

My next project was inspired by a project I saw in the magazine Cloth, Paper Scissors Nov/Dec issue by an artist named Geri deGruy.   You can check out her page here:

The project was a mixed media mosaic using paper.  I thought it would be fun to create a grouping of these  and hang in my craft room.

I used the following:

  • Grafix double  tack mounting film
  • Several different sheets of paper from the Reunion collection
  • The sand that came in the Club Scrap by the sea shore kit a long long long time ago  
  • Gold Micro Beads
  • 6x6 wrapped canvas
For my first creation I basically copied the artists sunburst design she demonstrated in the magazine.   I cut a 3" circle out if reunion red and cut it into wedges.  From the remaining papers I cut long thing triangles of varying lengths.

Before placing on the tack paper, I played around with a design on a 6"x6" piece paper, when I was happy with it I cut a sheet of double tack film to 6"x6".   I peeled off  the protective paper from one side of the double tack film and then laid out my design on the sticky side.

 When I was finished laying out all my paper pieces, I poured the sand in the empty spaces, this created the mosaic effect.

I then trimmed off thepeices hanging off the 6" x 6" paper.

Here is the close up of the sand "grout"

I spray painted the edges of my wrapped canvas gold and then tore off the remaining film and adhered my creation to my canvas

I created a second piece after running to the store to purchase gold microbeads (since I did not have any) thinking I might like that  look better.    I also switched up the "sun" part but stuck with the sun burst design for fluidity.  Here is the second piece (sorry about photos, it was dark outside so I had to shoot indoors)

This was a fun fun project.  I encourage you to try using your paper for projects like these every once in a while.

You have reached the end of this month's blog hop.

If you missed  a few artists you can star back at Club Scrap's page and hop through.

Join us next month when we will be featuring the Kit Constellations.  

Happy Crafting.   

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Austin 70.3 Race Report

This is my second year of Triathlon.  I rarely jump into anything with any forethought or care.  I usually just jump in.  That is how I started Triathlon last year and that is how I ended up participating in a late season 70.3 race this year.

I would be lying if I say my only goal was to finish Austin 70.3, of course I wanted to finish.  But I really, really wanted to finish around 8 hours.   Really!   Then after some advice from a more seasoned athlete than me (thanks Lawrence) I decided maybe I better make a few goals and be a little more realistic.  Bad days happen all the time.  Things out of your control happen all the time.   SO based on his advice I set the following goals with corresponding plans:
  • I am having a really really, really good day goal
  • A I am having a mediocre day goal,
  • Oh crap all hell has broken loose goal.
Not  really knowing what to expect running a half marathon after riding 56 miles I was not sure how to transfer my typical half marathon time (around 2:20)  to a half ironman run time so I kind of just guessed.   And, knowing my limitations on the swim and my weakness on the bike, I decided that realistically my good day goal would look like this:

Swim:    55 min
T1:    5 Min
Bike:    3:45
T2:    5 Min
Run:    2:40
Total:     7:30

A mediocre day I thought would look like this:
Swim:    60 min
T1:    7 Min
Bike:    4:15hr
T2:    7 Min
Run:    3 Hr
Total:     8:30

And I thought a really bad day would look like this:

Swim:    65 min
T1:    10 Min
Bike:    4.5 hr
T2:    10  Min
Run:    3:15  Hr
Total:      9:10

As race day approached I watched with horror (ok there is some exaggeration there) the predicted high temperature creep up and up.   I watched the wind speeds creep up and up.  For me almost the worse possible weather conditions were coming to fruition.  But, again, something I cannot control.  Good thing is, I trained through hot Texas summer, so the heat would not be totally new.  But, the wind would be brutal for me.

We drove up Friday morning.   I checked in shopped scoped out the run course. I figured I could scope out the bike course Saturday.  I thought the check in went extremely smoothly and was well organized.  No complaints there.

Saturday My goal as to get to the park (T1 and race start location)  at 8 am so I could get a swim a bike and a run in before the athlete meeting.   Well, with 2 kids and 3 adults in one hotel room that did not happen.  I was able to get a 20 min swim in at the park before the athlete meeting.  I took off on my bike only to be chased down by my husband to tell me I had one minute to get to the athlete meeting.  We raced over and I sat through that.  After the meeting we headed back to the T1 area where I took off for a 20 minute run.   After all that we checked the bike in.  Headed back over to T2 area and checked my run gear in.  I had all my nutrition in the bags.  And not knowing what would sit I packed a smorgasbord of things I knew worked, Gus, Paydays, Honey Stinger Chews, PB and J sandwiches, sour patch kids, all the good stuff. After settling everything in T2,     it was already time to go get ready for dinner.   Seriously, the days seemed to be 3 hours long and notice I did not get to preview the bike course. 

At the last minute, in order to ensure I had enough water on me, I decided to ditch my on frame bicycle pump (two water bottles won’t fit on my small frame with the pump)  , with the intention of going to buy CO2 cartridges.  That purchase never happened.  I was a panicked mess, but trusty Kirsten Coddish had a spare cartridge and valve in her mountain bike bag and let me borrow it for race day (unlike scores and scores of people, I did not need it)  

We left the kids at the hotel room and went to dinner with the team.  Before we left, my 10 yo son was complaining of a headache.   During dinner we got a panicked text message saying his head hurt so bad when he stood up and he could not stand up for more than a few seconds before the pain was so excruciating he would have to lay down, and then the pain would go away.  When we got back to the room, I have to admit I was a little panicked.  I had really never seen my son suffer from pain like that, and the way he described it scared me.  It was 9 pm.  I was ready to call the race off and pack him off to the emergency room. However, my level headed husband got to thinking and surmised it was probably a sinus headache (his first) based on all the sniffling etc .  He went off to the drug store to get a pain killer and some decongestant to help the little guy.  I have to say, I was still questioning my status as a mom, was I being a horrible mom by not taking him to the ER, what if it was a tumor or aneurism etc.  Was that worth a stupid little race.   I am happy to say 20 minutes after the Tylenol dose his headache was gone, and we have not had any headaches since the race. However, I went to bed way later than anticipated.   But I did sleep pretty well

Sunday dawned and we did arrive early, but man, I think I needed another half hour.  I really had no time to chill and relax before the race like I planned.  I was nervous and a little panicked.   I was trying to remember everything every seasoned athlete and coach told me (trust the training), but there is something daunting about thought of putting those three little distances  together into one race.   I never did it in training, how do I really know I can do it?  And to top it off the “Big D” hit me the instant I set foot on the race site.   So I visited the port-a-potties several times before the race.   My biggest fear was being in a wetsuit in the middle of the lake when a bout of “Big D”   would hit me. 

I made it over to the swim start, got a pic with Kristin, joined my other friends in the 40-44 age group and then all of a sudden it was time to get in the water.   Then the gun went off.  Here is how I swim, find my pace and rhythm, stick with it for hours at a time.  As such, I have no speed, but I can swim and swim once I find that pace.  I had goggle issues the first few hundred yards.  Luckily I had practiced drills to adjust goggle while still moving forward (thanks Liz).  I had a hard time seeing the buoys, but I had done tons of siting drills so I was able to work through that (thanks Liz).  I was ran over a couple of times, but I kept moving forward.  I was calm, relaxed, and surprisingly peaceful.  The discipline I hated (and feared)  the most turned out to be my favorite segment of the event. 

Swim Time 1:01 and 38 second.

I made my way to T1 and  I stopped in the port-a-pottie on my way to the my bike to relieve my bladder.      I had no plain water to rinse my feet off so after a moment of thought I ended up using my Nuun infused water to rinse the sand and dirt off my feet.   Nothing other than that stood out as other time sucks, except having to carry my bike out of transition to avoid the stickers (note to self, probably a good idea to drill this maneuver during training). 

My T1 time was 7:15

Remember I never got to preview the Bike course.  I am going to go ahead and say right now, that was probably a good thing.  I was already nervous about the bike in general, and I think without the opportunity to drive down to ride it a few weeks ahead of time, driving it would have added additional stress on me.

About 5 miles into the bike, the “Big D”  hit me AGAIN.  I had no idea where the first rest stop was, so I was all consumed with this from mile 5 until the first stop with facilities (mile 15 ish).  The first 15 miles were not bad, some rollers, but if I remember correctly a general downhill grade.  I even averaged a nice 17-18 MPH on this stretch. I arrived at the first aid station,  I set a split when I entered the port a potty and when I came out so I knew how much time I spent there.  Thirteen minutes people.  But I had a nice conversation with the gal in the port a potty next to me having similar issues (nice to know I was not alone).  I probably could have reduced this time by not layering TP on the seat and sitting my wet bum down on it because I am sure that 5 minutes of this 13 minutes was spent scraping toilet paper off my wet legs, yeah, TP sticks to wet skin (TMI I know, but maybe someone will learn from my folly).

I grabbed a fresh water bottle and some Gus and off I went. Nothing sticks out for the next 15 miles except roller after roller. I do not recall any steep climbs.  I sipped my Nuun Water, ate my nutrition (Alternated Gus and Honey Stinger Chews).  Then Mile 32 hit.  And all I can say for me, mile 32 on was pure hell. I turned the corner into the wind.  The climbs were tougher and more frequent and longer.  I could not seem to get out of 12 MPH speed.  I would approach hills and see men and women walking their bikes up them.  Then the back to back beasts hit around mile 44.  Seriously, one long steady climb up, with another one looming in the back ground, with a little very steep one in between for good measure.  My belly was churning, and I was done.  I would not even consider getting off the bike to walk up the hills, because I would have quit right there if I did.  As I would pass people and they would pass me they would ask, “are the ever going to end, do you think there will be a down hill”?    I was also at the “I am mad” point.  As I approached T2 I was mad, and although I think I realized 2:45 on the run was probably not likely, I was definitely going for sub 3 if it killed me.  

Bike time 4:18 43

Remember my belly was churning on the bike, well we had to alleviate that in the port a potties in T2.  I am ever so grateful they actually had facilities in transition. I actually had to use them twice in here for a total of about 9 minutes.  
T 2 was a “clean: transition, meaning all our run gear had to be in the bag, ted to the bar, nothing on the ground.   This was a  first for me.   I was a little clutzy with having to untie the bag from the bar and getting my run gear from the bag.  But I managed.  I worried less about nutrition because they made it clear in the meeting they would have plenty at the stations.  Clean transition conditions is something I definitely something I should practice for future races.

T2 Time 14:10

Run glorious run.  I was never so happy to run before in my life. Yes it was hot, yes it was windy, yes it was hilly. But how lucky was I, I had a the best cheerleaders ever.  My family,  My Triple Threat Tough Friends and KMF performance friends.  There was not a place along the spectator line that there was not someone screaming like a maniac for me.  I decided right away I was doing 6 minute runs 1 minute walk intervals.  If it was not so hot I could have conquered a full on run.  But I wanted to make sure I was still running at mile 10, even if it was intervals.  The loops were awesome because I saw so many friends along the way.  I made it to loop two before I had to make a stop in the facilities, but it was shorter.   When I explained to Kirsten going out on the first loop that I was having GI issues, she suggested the Coke.  OMG, can I say nothing tastes as good as cold flat coke.  I stopped at every station for cold flat coke.   I’m pretty sure this saved me, and if it did not, I am pretending it did.  I was motoring along for the first two loops following my plan. Then around mile 10 my right calf decided enough was enough.  It seized up all the way down into my foot.  I had never experienced this before.  I was able to keep jogging along but I was getting a little worried.  Kristin came around to check on me and when I mentioned it to her she guessed it was probably my Achilles from all the hills.  And as it so happens, that Achilles tendon was the one that I slice through in high school, so it totally made sense.  I made it to mile 11 where my friend Nikki was waiting for me and I finally had to go to 1 minute runs 1 minute walks.  Kristen came around and said I may be able to hit sub 3 at that but it would be close.   So   Nikki and I started out on 1 min runs 1 minute walks.  Nikki was having some back issues, so I Ieft her behind and motored on up.  Then that  (darn) Kristen came up and asked if I had 3 min runs 1 minute walks in me.  I figured why the heck not, only after I walk to the cones.    I walked to the cones (this is where we turn to basically run along the spectator line and head into the arena). There is probably about ¾ to a mile left after you turn the cones.   I was able to run the rest of the way through the finisher chute, half crying half laughing.  I was so disoriented after coming through the finish chute I turned right and ended up in the medical tent, where I totally took advantage of an ice bath.

 Run time 2:58 38
Swim:    1:01 53 min
T1:    7:15 Min
Bike:    4:18hr
T2:    14:10 Min
Run:    2:58:37 Hr
Total:     8:40 38

So I was 10 minutes over time for a mediocre day and well short of an all hell has broke loose day.  

Other notes:

I followed my race nutrition plan to a tee.  It worked for me this time.  I did not need to fall back on something else because my body rejected something.  
I utilized several techniques during the race I learned in Coach Tommy Johnson’s competitive edge clinic (with Triple Threat Tough), most notably:
  • I concentrated on the next point, never the swim bike or run finish.  The next point.  In the swim it was the next Buoy.   On the run it was always the next aid station.  On the bike, well I was too mad to care. This really, really helped mentally.
  • When I found myself losing focus I would bring myself back and use his “photocopier technique” I would start at my feet and come on up.  On the swim I would adjust technique and body position, on the run, same thing, was I landing on my forefoot, were my knees facing forward, was my core tight, were my hips  positioned correctly, what about my arms etc.  On the bike, well again I was too mad.
  • One thing I repeated over and over on the bike “ the wind is my mountain. The wind is my mountain”.  I guess there was that.
The volunteers were AMAZING.  I cannot say enough about them.

Being my first long distance race, I have nothing to compare it too.  Overall I had a great experience from the moment I checked in until the moment I left.

I had someone apologize to me for not making it below 8 hrs.  I was like, really?   I am a Happy Athlete.  For a relatively novice triathlete, and my first Half Ironman, and with the belly issues, I was ecstatic.   And, combine that with where I was health and weight wise  just a short 2.5 years ago, take ecstatic and raise it to the hundredth power.  Not only am I blessed to live in a triathlon rich community, blessed with the resources to participate in this sport, blessed with a family that supports the sport, but I am blessed to be physically capable and healthy enough to do it.   I will never take that for granted and I will wear my 8:40 38 with tremendous pride.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Stitch Fix Friday Review

Seriously Guys.  I received my 4th Stitch Fix Box and I think I'm still as in love with this service as when I first started.  First, it totally reduces my need to go to the stores, thereby reducing my stress level.    I hate, hate, hate shopping.   Secondly, I'm wearing styles, cuts and colors (and loving them) that I would have walked right past in the store.   And, even though I do not get things on sale or at "a good deal" (which to me is relative anyways) it's totally worth the money.

For those of you who do not know what Stitch Fix is, it is a monthly styling service.  You can have a fix sent to you as often as you want (or not).  There is a $20 styling fee, however, if you keep anything from your fix, the fee is subtracted from the cost of whatever you decide to keep. You can have a fix delivered as often as every 2-3 weeks to every two or three months. I choose to have one sent to me monthly.   But it is so exciting to receive that box every month.  It is almost like Christmas.

Onto my review.  

Hourglass Lilly Adan Geo Printed Shift Dress, $58
I took this thing out of the box and said, no way, this thing is never going to look good on my figure.  Its just blahhh..  I wish it would fit, its cute and ultra stylish but there is no way.   Nothing this cute looks good on me.  

Hourglass Lily Adan Geo Printed Dress

Hourglass Lily Adan Geo Printed Dress
 I fell in love with this dress on.  It fit me perfectly.  And it can be dressed up for work or down for a casual day out.  Loved, loved, loved it.  Definitely a keeper.  Oh and Bonus, MADE IN TH USA people.

Next up was a 41 Hawthorn Dita Colorblock Sleeveless Ponte Dress, $78.    Again, I pulled it out and was not crazy about the material or the price, that alone would have turnee me off from even trying it on in the store.  But I tried it on anyways.  Again, I loved it.   The material is a very light Ponte, perfect for hot Texas Summers.  And the dress itself was flattering.  Initially it was a maybe....
41 Hawthorn Dita Colorblock Sleeveless Ponte dress

41 Hawthorn Dita Colorblock Sleeveless Ponte dress

41 Hawthorn Dita Colorblock Sleeveless Ponte dress

 The next item was a 41 Hawthorn Montgomery Chevron Cross Front Top $48.00,  Anything cross top is probably going to be a big YES for me.  I have a waist and the cross fronts draw attention to that waist.  This shirt did not disappoint at all.   The material, again is light enough for hot Texas summers, yet durable enough to last a couple of  of years.   Oh..and people..MADE IN THE USA.
41Hawthorn Montgomery Chevron Cross Front Top

41Hawthorn Montgomery Chevron Cross Front Top

The Laila Jayde Zabaleta Boat Neck Striped Knit shirt,$48.00 was another item I pre judged.  I do not typically like boat necks or crew necks, and faithfully stick with scoop necks and V Necks.  But when I put it on, I surprisingly liked the fit.  I'd normally go for something a little more fitted, but this adds a nice variety to my collection of shirts.  It turned out being a keeper for the variety it gave me  but also because it was MADE IN THE USA.
Laila Jayde Zabaleta Boat Neck Striped Knit Shirt

The next item was a cross body tote by Urban  Expressions for $68.  Its big, its neutral and I really needed a new purse so I put it in the keep pile.

Now the color block dress was originally a maybe, but since I liked it and if I kept everything I would get a 25% discount.  Although my discount was $8 shy of getting the dress for free I think it was totally worth it.  All 5 items came to $230, or less than $45 an item.  I am not sure if you kept track of the made in the USA items.  There were THREE.  Three out of five items.  There is no way if I spent all day in the malls shopping intentionally looking for made in the USA items I would have found three.  And, in my household Made in the USA warrants a few extra bucks, that is were I feel a "good deal" is relative.

The other benefit for me is that I find myself going back to my same old styles and blah neutral colors, the go to stuff that made me feel safe and comfortable when I weighed 270 lbs.  The stylists read my comments (which have said..give me color) and provided me with my styles a little out of my normal comfort zone, and I am loving it.  

Want to try stitch fix, then please use my referral link below.  If you use it I get a $25.00 credit.

Hugs and Blessings

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mid Year Goal Check

Well 26 weeks of 2014 are completed and done.  In the beginning of the year I set some fitness goals, looking at them now they were pretty lofty.  But I wanted to check where I was on all these.   

For the most part I am on track.  I am not going to meet all my original goals for several reasons, the big one = Half Ironman Training.  That takes precedence over everything else.  I cannot jeopardize my training. And thats ok.  I really had never set any fitness goals in my life, well once, and it was basically something like this "Move your body 3 times a week".  But that simple goal put me well on my way to my new found running habit.   

Below are my goals with a summary of where I am.  

  • I want to run a total of 800 miles this year.  That is a little over 15 miles a week
    • Well I am not on track with this one.  And to be honest, I do not think I can make it to 800 miles, I would now have to run an average of 21 miles a week.  With my ironman training this is not  realistic.  An alternate goal would be to run twice as many miles as last year.  Last year I ran 274 total miles, this year I am already at 253.06.   Goal adjusted to run 550 miles this year.  
  • I want to bike 1500 miles this year.  That is a little over 25 miles per week.
    • Ive ridden 382 miles.  This is another one that may be in jeopardy,  however, I am not ready to give up on this one yet.  With 25 weeks left in year thats 44 miles a week, and I have some heavy distance weeks coming up with ironman training.  I have also invested in a magnetic trainer for my bike, meaning when it turns too cold, I can ride on my bike inside.  Yay!
  • I want to swim 115,000 yards this year.   That's 4500 yards over a span of 25 weeks.  
    • Ive completed 30,055 yards so far.  This one is totally achievable especially since I have 25 weeks left in year.   It is totally achievable   if I do not stop swimming in October like I did last year, total lesson learned.  Swimming is the bardest one for me to stick to and I cannot slack off or just totally stop in the winter.
  • I want to complete a half marathon (scheduled Jan 25 2014)
    • Three completed already.  Goal Met!
  • Want to complete an ultra relay race (Ragnar Relay Scheduled Feb 20-21 2013)
    • Done
  • I want to complete a Half Ironman (scheduled in April but rescheduling to Austin in Oct)
    • Currently training for.  Nothing can stop me but injury.
  • I want to participate in at least 12 running races (7 already scheduled and paid for)
              I have actually completed 11 already.  I will definitely make this goal.
    • DRC January Race 10K
    • Polar Dash 14 miles
    • Too Cold To Hold 10 Mile
    • Ragnar Relay 
    • Cowtown Half Marathon
    • Dash Down Greenville 5k
    • Tal Morrisson Classic 5k
    • OKC Memorial Marathon Relay
    • Jemez Mountain Half Marathon Trail Race
    • Wounded Warrior Half Marathon
    • Must Dash 5k
  • I want to participate in 6 triathlons, of which at least two are the Olympic Distance
    • Have not even completed  in one, and not sure if 6 is realistic with half ironman training which must take precedence.  If  I were to complete 6 these would be it, but training  (and finances) will dictate:
      • TWU pioneer power sprint (this is a definite, it will be Phoenix's first and I want to do it with her-July 27)
      • River Cities (registered and meeting a friend, August 3)
      • Take on Heat (Aug 17)
      • Old College Tri (another phoenix race, 09/07)
      • Tri Fecta Olympic (this is a good run through for Austin (Sept 14)
      • Austin 70.3

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Quit!

How is my Half Ironman Training going people ask.

I quit!  

Every week I reach some point in my training schedule , usually a swim day, when I say


When I jumped into this sport last year, I did just that, I jumped in.  I fell in love in with it, but I jumped in with my eyes closed.   I did not know enough to have a fear of open water swimming, I did not know enough to know that the swim in 99% technique and you better nail that technique to have enough energy to finish strong on the bike and run.  I did not know that your legs feel like rubber when you come off that bike and start running, and I certainly did not know that I would find the running leg the easiest leg, even with   rubber legs. 

In some ways, IGNORANCE IS PURE BLISS.  I conquered open water triathlons with zero fear and knowledge, and finished fine, even podiumed.    I swam three days a week in a pool and one day a week in the lake with little thought to technique.  I ran when I wanted to run, usually 3-4 days, and a rode at most weeks 2 days never more than 25-30 miles.
Then I got this bright idea that I want to attempt to conquer an Ironman the year I turn 45, which is 2015 by the way.  To help prep I determined I needed to do a Half Ironman this year.  So here I am training for the Austin Ironman 70.3 (the 70.3 represents the half the distance of an Ironman.  In the 70.3 you swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.2 miles).  The race is in Austin, TX., or otherwise known as Texas Hill Country.  Seriously, can I pick them or what?  Regardless, I jumped in, again, with little regard to what it would take.   

I am in my 12th formal week of a training plan (yup I have quit at least 12 times since I started), and boy things are getting serious.  First, I eat, breathe, dream, half Ironman training.  At least that is what it feels like.  If you are considering a long distance triathlon, you must consider the time it takes to train.  These are hours away from your family, and if your family is not on board with this, then it is just not worth it.  In all honesty, even when they are on board, there are some days it just does not seem worth it, and there are some days they will not be on board.  There are days that your training trumps a day at the pool with your kids, or a day at Six Flags with the family.  There are some days you will be too tired to even consider a 1 hour date night with your spouse.  When you train for something this big, yes you may realize you will sacrifice a lot, but you need to realize ahead of time that your family sacrifices a lot too!   Oh and your social life, basically your social life is your training time.  If you train alone, well then you have no social life.  My recommendation, find a group or two or three so you can train with people.   Last year I did all my running and biking alone.  I swam with a group.   Three hour bike rides all by your self are extremely lonely and dull.  It’s amazing how fast 40 miles screams by if you are biking with at least one other person.  I actually am affiliated with two Triathlon Groups right now. I have to be because of my work schedule and travel schedule, it affords me the maximum amount of group workouts and gives me plenty of location options.  Since I work in the extreme northwest area of the DFW metro, I need options near where I work.  But I live closer to metro area, so I need options there too.   I’ve met awesome people in each group and it almost guarantees I do not have to work out alone, although I do prefer to run alone, it has always been my me time, my quiet time.  But there are benefits to running with a group at least once a week.  

As I mentioned, I am in my 12th week. I follow a written plan the best I can. I have learned through a coach, my swimming technique leaves something to be desired I have also have learned there is even a strategy for the swim part of an open water swim race.   I actually know a lot more things than I did last year during my blissful ignorance stage. I am reserving judgment as to whether that is beneficial or now.  I suppose I will render my judgment on October 26th at about 3 pm after I have crossed that Ironman 70.3 finish line. 

 The goal of any triathlon is to have enough energy to get through the entire race with adequate energy for each leg.  It is easy to use up all your energy on the swim if you are inefficient in the water, and apparently I am completely inefficient.   And my goodness, there is a whole lot of stuff that has to go on simultaneously to have an efficient stroke. As an engineer I totally get the dynamics, but it is executing those dynamics where I struggle (I can only imagine the contractors reading this thinking, yeah, try executing one of the projects you designed, real life is different than the bubble you design in).   And I have to be honest, I come away from each swim somewhat disappointed in myself and very discouraged.   But I will keep on keeping on.  There are some things I am really good at, but there are other things where I am just not so good.   I am currently trying to swim 3-4 days a week (per plan), one technique day where I concentrate on technique and do drills to help improve technique, one speed day where I do speed drills, one long distance day where again this affords me an opportunity to focus on my technique and then I always try to get one open water swim in a lake every week.  If I slack, I always slack on speed day.  But one day someone said to me: 

“You have to go fast to be fast, you will learn to love that speed work”.

So I am trying to embrace the speed work.   If you were not counting, that is about 3-4 hours of swimming each week.  

Even while out of town, find a pool and swim.  In Orlando Mothers Day weekend.

Biking is probably my next weakest discipline.  I am horrible at hills and the wind kicks my butt.   And I am not fast.  I can get better at hills and consequently even get faster by doing hill repeats. Again, like swimming, I have not been really good or consistent on speed work.  But as I read about the science and sport of triathlon and as I talk to various coaches and more experienced athletes I am realizing I need to embrace this speed work. “ You have to go fast, to be fast.”    The good news is I am fast enough to make the cut off times in a 70.3 with room to spare, as long as I make the swim cut off time with time to spare, and I really think that I can, even though I am a slow swimmer I think I can finish that 1.2 miles in just a little under an hour.  I also think with consistent riding, I will pick up speed and become faster.  It has gotten easier to accomplish my longer rides now that I have found some fellow gals who ride about the same pace as me.  Biking is a minimum of three days a week .  There is always a long ride which are now running 3 hours or so, but that will increase weekly.  There is always a speed day (either a time trial, or intervals etc.) and another day of just riding for about an hour.      Biking right now is 5 hours a week, and increasing weekly.

Running is my best friend and first love.  Running helped take off 120 lbs.  Running and I have a nice easy intimate relationship.  I get running; running gets me.  Speed work on the schedule, no problem, I can tackle that alone and with gusto or with a group.  Out of town, no problem, even if there is not a trail or track or some running friendly place around I can make my own.   Mall parking lots, movie theater parking lots, and large apartment complexes make great long loops if you run the perimeter.      Again I am not the fastest runner, but I am average, even above average.  But running feeds my soul.  It has always been my “me” time, a time that I can 100% clear my head and reflect, pray, admire the beauty around me or simply think about noting if I choose. I do not even care or get discouraged if I have a bad running day.   No pride thing going on with running at all.   I run 4 days a week.  My schedule has a long run day, a speed day, a plain ole run to run day, then it always has running after some of the bike workouts, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing how to overcome the feeling of those legs after coming off the bike.  It is indescribable until you experience it, and the best way to know how to overcome it is to run after biking.  Running is probably 4 hours a week right now, I actually have to hold myself back from running too much.  
Speed work at the track
I am trying to trust the training, and know that if I follow the plan I will finish my Half Ironman in October.  I am learning not to beat myself up if I miss one workout.   I am learning how to adapt when on the road.  I have already mentioned running when traveling is no problem.  However, swimming gets interesting when in small towns.  I am learning some of these small YMCA’s do not have day passes so if you are not a member of a Y somewhere else and they do not permit day passes, I am kind of out of luck unless there is a gym with a pool, but we are talking rural Louisiana, those one-light towns just do not have those sorts of facilities.   Biking can be a challenge too, especially if the hotel gym has nothing more than a recumbent bike.  In larger towns I can always find a shop to rent a bike from or a local gym with spin cycles, and my last resort is a regular stationary bike in the gym. 
I have quit every week for the past 12 weeks.  Something happens and I say, I just cannot do this, I am quitting, it is too much time, it is too hard, I am too discouraged.   There is always some reason to justify my quitting.  I will tell my husband I am quitting and he will look at me and smirk and say: 

“Why don’t you think about that first before making a rash decision”?

There have been several times where my training gets in way of family schedule and I will make a comment about it, and he will say:
“You said it, not me”.

Of course I latch onto that and say, if this is a problem for our family, say the word now and I am done.  To which he replies (probably rather wisely):

“Oh no, you are not using me or the kids as an excuse to quit”.
Love that man.  

So about 8 hours after I quit, I am back on the wagon working out my training schedule for the rest of the week.

I really only have a one goal for my first Ironman 70.3.

Just Finish

I want to finish what I started.   I want to cross that finish line.  That is it.  

I have 8.5 hours to finish, including transitions. I am starting to get a little more worried about fueling and hydrating myself during this event. But that is a part of training, I am practicing that as well.  

I am reminded of a quote I saw from Muhammad Ali:

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.' ”

I hate almost every minute of training, but, I know all that will disappear when I cross that finish line.

I have faith with preparation, training and most importantly the full support of my husband, family, and teammates.  I will finish. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stich Fix # 2 Review

Last month I decided to try this pretty nifty little service called Stitch Fix.  If you know me, you know I have lost quite a bit of weight.  I need clothes, and I actually like getting new clothes now a days. But I hate to shop.  Like, I really, really hate to shop.  And I am an Engineer, with no fashion sense or creativity whatsoever.  So when I noticed lots of Facebook friends nd co workers talking and posting about this service, I thought I would give it a try.

I clicked on a friends referral link and signed up.   I was asked to create a style profile, to basically rate some stylized outfits from I love it a lot to I hate it.   Then input my sizes, price ranges, how I want my monthly fixes mixed (include to do not include layering pieces, what percentage of work or play wear, etc).  There is a $20 a month styling fee, but it gets deducted from the price of any item you buy.   

Then you wait.  They and quite a waiting list when I signed up.  So I waited and waited. 

My first fix was not that great.  My review can be found on Pinterest here.  Mostly it was  a dud because the pieces I liked were way too warm for hot Texas summers,  and there was no color.  I wanted color.  I packed everything up and sent it back, and then I went to my style profile and left some detailed notes for my stylist. 

My second fix arrived about two weeks ago.   And my stylist definitely listened.   

Each piece is reviewed below.

Color: Coral
Size Med.   

Dovette Draped Detail Dress

Dylan and Rose Dovette Draped Detail Dress

Dylan and Rose Dovette Draped Detail Dress

I took one look at this and almost put it back in envelope to return.  Nothing about this dress did I like when I looked at it, not the color, not the material, nothing.  But I decided to put it on, and I LOVED it.  I loved they way it hugged in all the right places.  And the material is light, perfect for hot steamy Texas summer days.  This was a keeper and it went perfectly with the necklace I decided to keep from last month's fix.

Size Med   

I took one look at this out of the box and new I was going to keep it.  This is something I would have picked for myself.  The material, again, is light and airy, perfect for hot and steamy Texas Summers.  Definitely a keeper!  

Size Med 

 I ended up keeping this, even though I was on the fence.   It was a little big through the chest, but it is such a versatile piece, and again, not something I would pick off the rack for me.   Its been added to the wardrobe ad I have worn it quite  bat in the past two weeks. It's in the dirty clothes right now, so no photo. 

The next piece was:

Size Med

 I wanted these, really bad.  But these were way to slim for my thick lower body.  I am not sure if I should up my pants size to a large,  a little concerned about doing that because pants and skirt sizes are lumped together and I know most skirts in a large will be too big.  I am in a solid 10 in pants and skirts, actually even some size 8's so I am going to leave the medium and see who some future bottoms work.  These went back

Collegno Diamond Print Drawstring Waist Dress
Size Med

Loved this dress too.  Really loved this dress.   Everything about it.  But the drawstring waist sat right below my breasts.   It pulled vertically in the shoulders, really weird for little ole short me.   Not sure if a large would fix that or not.  But I did not like where it fell on my legs.  If the waist was at the natural waist and I did not have the uncomfortable pull I think the length would have fell right where I wanted it to.  

All in all I think this fix was spot on. All things I can wear to work (really trying to build that work wardrobe) but can also be dressed down for a casual day out.   I kept three out of  five pieces (really wanted all 5) .   And bonus, I did not have to leave my house.  I guess I am going to have to go shopping eventually for all the cute little accessories like bags, and necklaces etc to out a complete style together.   Maybe I should ask for some hand bags in my next fix.

If you are interested and want to try Stitch Fix, please consider using my referral link by clicking on referral link.    I receive a $25 credit if you sign up and receive your first fix.   

Looking forward to next months fix!