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!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wounded Warrior 2014 Half Marathon Race Report

This past weekend Phoenix and I ran the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon, in honor of our Military.  The money raised was split between the


Phoenix was itching to do another half marathon, and coming from a military family, this event was near and dear to my heart so we jumped in.  I ran in honor of My dad (Vietnam), My Grandfather (WW2), My Uncle (Marines), my husband’s Uncle (killed in Vietnam) and a friends son (Iraq)  who sadly took his own life this past Veterans Day Weekend.  I think we as a society need to realize and recognize not all wounded warriors have outward visible injuries.  I know my dad has never fully dealt with his experience in Vietnam and I am quite sure he still suffers from PTSD.     

Again, since I am training for a Half-Ironman, I did not formally train for this distance, but I felt like I could achieve a PR.  Phoenix was going for a PR as well.

The morning started at 4 am for me.  The gun time was scheduled for 6:45 am.  I rallied the Gibson troops and we were on the road by 5 am.   The sun was not even out and it was 87 degrees and it was humid.   Neither I nor Phoenix has really done any hot long distance runs so I was getting kind of nervous.

We arrived in Irving and met our friend and buddy Cindy Wirz, we roamed around for a bit when we heard an announcement indicating some weather was moving in and they were delaying the start.  They would re-evaluate at 7 am.  Admittedly, the skies looked ominous, but I was in a hurry to get started before it got too late and the heat got too unbearable.  They finally decided to start the half marathon at 7:15.   I delivered Phoenix to her pace group (the 2:00 pave group) and took myself over to the 2:20 pace group.  I need at time of 2:22 to PR.

Cindy, Me and Phoenix

Us and the Marines (seriously why could I not be blessed with the same legs as Phoenix, they are already longer than mine)

The runner's Corner Crew

We started. I had no issues keeping up with the pace group at first, but they were running 10-10:17 miles the first couple of miles, realizing that they may slow down I tapered back with the goal of keeping them in sight, but not running right on top of them.   I knew I could not keep up that pace indefinitely and need to be closer to the 10:30-10:40 pace and keep even splits.  But it was humid and hot and I started to really doubt if I could keep up and make a PR.  My fastest time of 2:22:34 was done in January, nice cool dry weather.  They say to add up to 2 minutes per mile for temps up to 85 degrees, so by that theory there was no way I was going to make a PR, but I was a more experienced runner than I was in January and my pace has improved so I was not giving up.
All smiles at the start

This was a pseudo out and back course, at mile 7 there was a turn around.    At about mile 5 I stopped to walk and cough, and some dudes came past me and shouted out some encouragement “you got this” “you can do this”.    At about Mile 6 I encountered Phoenix on her way back from turn around, she needed GU.  She looked red and hot.  I was pretty sure she was not going to meet her PR. She said her pace group went out a little too fast for her as well so she tapered back too.  I gave her some GU and off she went.

Mile 9 or 10

 When I turned around, I turned into some wicked head on wind.  The weather was blowing in, and wow that wind was strong.  It was welcome of course because it had a nice refreshing cooling effect.  Then the rain started, a slow drizzle at first. But that would change.   I was trudging along at a point that if I maintained an 11 min mile or little above I would be extremely close to my PR. Then mile 10.5-11 happened.  I ran into Phoenix.  I was really confused then of course mom mode kicked in and I got worried.  I caught up to her and she was a little tearful.   She had blisters on her feet and some painful chafing on her legs. I told her to chuck her shoes.  She resisted at first then finally took them off.    By this time it was POURING, sweet wet cold rain (the temp dropped to 67 degrees by the end of the race). There was nothing I could do about her chafing, but I made a mental note to self to pack individual sizes of body glide or something to help.  In this case hers was an unfortunate happenstance in that there was something sharp and pointy in the seam of her compression shorts. Before realizing this she rolled the affected leg up which caused the other  leg to rub against her leg in the rain causing the chafing.  Another mental note to self, check seams of clothing for foreign objects before a race.  She was upset because she blew her PR.  She was upset because she was hurting.  I told her none of that matters, you are out here, you finish you rock.   I told her you have a lifetime for PR’s.  For crying out loud, she is only 13!   After a few minutes she was calmed down (a little) and I got some smiles out of her. 
Along the course after she removed shoes and calmed down.

A few folks that I have met through an online runners group called Runner’s corner, passed her before I got there and patted her on the back or shouted some encouragement to her.  Love the running community, they are totally awesome.   

In the spirit of the race, We started together,  We finish together, I decided to stay with her the last 2.5-3 miles.  

She had no desire to run.  But rest assured every 60 seconds within the window of making my PR I would nag her to run.   I quit nagging after that window passed.   I really wanted to get that PR for the guys I was running for, because I could, I get to do this, so many can’t.  However, I think hanging out and encouraging my daughter was definitely the right thing to do, and honored them just the same.    

I actually got to cross the finish line with Phoenix, a first and definitely most likely a last,  she is fast and quick (and I am not), and not likely to suffer the same combination of circumstances in another race.  Bonus, my friend Cindy totally photo bombed us at the finish, so probably only time ever we will have all three of us in a finish line photo!

Crossing the Finish
Please visit the websites of these two amazing organizations.  Consider donating, or better yet volunteering.  Consider showing your commitment to injured veterans by taking the Wounded Warrior pledge.  Pledging to stand by them not just today or tomorrow, but for a lifetime.  The pledge can be found here (

Dallas Athletes Racing puts on a great race, and this was a great cause, staffed full chock of amazing volunteers.     All along the way there were military folks in uniform encouraging us, volunteering at aid stations, there were veterans groups volunteering.  It was quite humbling to think of everything they already do for us, and they are out volunteering for us.   Very classy!  The race was organized and well run.  Water stations galore.  My only complaint would be, there appeared to be no medical aid along the course.  Phoenix looked at every water station, she wanted to get some Vaseline or anything to put on her leg, she said she never say anything remotely medical looking.  But all in all a good race, and a great experience.

Stay tuned for a very transparent and honest  post about how my half iron-man training is going.