Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trek Women's Triathlon Race Report

I registered for the Trek Women's Triathlon in February.  At the time, the race was scheduled for May.  I knew there was no way I would be in decent triathlon shape by May, but I wanted to get back into triathlons, and I prefer to do races that involve my triathlon hero, Sally Edwards.  I registered anyway.  Just days later, I got an e-mail indicating that the race was postponed until October 3 - DIVINE INTERVENTION!  I could be ready by October.  WOOOOHOOOO!

After learning that we had 5 extra months to train, I pinged several friends who had either done other races or expressed an interest in doing races and asked them to join me in October.  Several said no right away, a few said yes, and a few said maybe.  As the months progressed, everyone but my good friend and fellow Mustang Band sister Jennifer Yelton Henry bailed - you'll remember Jennifer from my Tri-Rock post.  This would be my 6th race, Jen's 5th race, and our 3rd race together.

Just over a week before the race, I got a message from Jennifer that Kyle's grandfather had passed away, and the memorial service was scheduled for Saturday, October 2 in Charleston, SC.  But, Jen was undaunted buy this little wrinkle.  She planned her trip to SC and included a return trip to Austin Saturday night.  She confirmed that she could get her packet Sunday morning, and we made arrangements with a friend from San Antonio who was going to the SMU game to transport her bike from Dallas to Round Rock the weekend before the race.  We were still a go.

The race was originally scheduled to be at Decker Lake - the site of the Danskin Triathlon - the first course I ever raced.  I'm not exactly sure when it changed, but some time between when I registered in February and when I was checking out the website the Tuesday before the race, the location of the race was changed to Pace Bend Park.  I was pretty bummed.  I know the Decker course well.  I've ridden the Decker course several times.  I was looking forward to my 2nd race on the same course so I could compare my time from my first triathlon to this one.  Decker is about 30 minutes from my house.  Pace Bend Park is about an hour from my house.  Great.  Double the travel time for an early morning race.

Despite all this, I was still bound and determined to make my way to Pace Bend Park with Jennifer and have a great race.

So, after 8 months and 105 pounds, packet pick-up day arrived.  I headed to Bicycle Sport Shop on South Lamar.  Packet pickup went off without a hitch, and I was in time to sneak into the end of Sally's race overview and "pep talk."  As this wasn't my first triathlon, and I was feeling pretty good about my preparation, I didn't really "need" the pep talk, but I was interested in the unfamiliar course, and I'll pretty much never miss the opportunity to hear Sally speak and hopefully score a photo op with my triathlon hero.  I was able to briefly speak to Sally and get my picture taken with her.  YEA!

After securing my packet and buying a little triathlon gear, I headed over to the greatest bike shop in the world - Jack and Adams - to have a quick 100-mile inspection of my bike before race day.  I picked up a few bike supplies then headed home. 

We got a sitter and headed to Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie.  It's been a long time since we had a "date night."  We had a nice time - I even refrained from checking the SMU/rice score on my phone every 30 seconds. 

Just as the movie ended, I got a text message from Jennifer that she had managed to get on an earlier flight and would be flying in at 10pm instead of 11pm.  Not only would we get to bed an hour earlier than originally planned, but the timing was also such that we needed to leave from the movies and head straight to the airport.  A little over an hour after we got out of the movies, we had Jennifer from the airport and were headed back home.

Jen and I reasoned that we needed to try to leave between 5:15 and 5:30.  UGH!  We hit the sack as soon as we got home with our alarms set to wake us up in a pretty short time.  I slept pretty well.  I was pretty confident, prepared, and relaxed.  I did not have the pre-race jitters that normally make the night before a race pretty restless.  I also managed to roll out of bed shortly before 5am without much trouble.  I got myself ready, made sure Jen was up and moving and headed downstairs for breakfast.

We ate a quick bite, made sure we had all our gear and hopped in the car for our hour-long excursion to the (new) race site.  I had that nagging feeling that I was forgetting something.  I even stopped just before we got out of the neighborhood to double check that my running shoes were in my race backpack.  They were.  About halfway there I realized that I had forgotten my heart rate monitor band.  Oh well.  I was disappointed that I wouldn't gather heart rate data for the race, but at least I was forgetting something that wasn't crucial to swimming, biking or running.  We charged on.

The drive was every bit of an hour, but we made it to the park by our target time of 6:30 without a problem.It was obviously still dark and pretty chilly when we got to the race site.  The temperature was in the low 60s.  Jen and I just had our tri suits on.  We didn't have any other clothes with us to wear before or after the race.  Everyone we saw had on jackets and/or long pants.  We kept reminding ourselves that the sun would be out soon to warm us up, and that we would be loving the cooler temperatures by the time we finished the race.

We made our way to transition, Jen secured her packet, we set up all our gear, got our numbers and ages marked on our arms and legs, and even had time to pose for a pre-race photo before heading down to the water to get ready for the swim.

The swim set-up was a little weird.  It was about 0.3 miles down a steep hill from the bike transition to the water.  They set up a mini-transition just out of the water so we could put on our shoes before running up the hill to transition to the bike.  The good news was that that 0.3 miles was deducted from the 5K run at the end.  The bad news was that the set-up was just weird, and the hill we were going to have to run up was STEEP (and part of it was gravel).  Oh well, everyone would have to do it, we would suck it up and be fine.

Since Jen and I are both Athenas and both in the same age group, I'm not exactly sure how this came to be, but we were in different swim waves.  Jen was in the 3rd wave.  I was in the 4th.  After a little waiting, some pre-race fanfare, and the national anthem, the Elites were off.  They only waited 30 seconds between the Elites and the next wave.  After that, there were approximately 2 minutes between waves.  This part always amazes me - by the time my wave started, the Elites were getting out of the water.

When it was time for my wave, I took off.  This was my 5th open water swim.  I did 2 full triathlons in 2008 that were open water swims and the swim leg of 2 triathlon relays in 2009 that were in open water.  The wave wasn't even exceptionally large.  Despite my previous experience and the size of the wave, I had the toughest time I've ever had starting an open water swim.  The shore from which we started was pretty rocky.  Everyone stayed clustered together for a while.  I got hit and kicked A LOT.  I even got kicked pretty hard once square in the face - knocking off my goggles.  It took me what seemed a long time to get out of the crowd. 

Unlike my very first triathlon, I did not panic when the swim started.  I felt good and had fewer race nerves than ever.  I tried to go a little faster than my normal slow, steady workout pace, but I wasn't sprinting or going terribly fast.  I just kept swimming, thinking about my stroke, thinking about keeping my head down, thinking about spotting the buoy and not getting off track.  I certainly wasn't the fasted orange-capped swimmer, but I was by no means the slowest either.  About halfway through the swim, I started noticing a few yellow caps.  Despite my comfort with being a "slow fat triathlete," it's still disheartening to see the faster swimmers from the wave behind me start catching up and passing me.  I just kept swimming.  I did pass a few blue and green caps (from waves who started before I did) along the way.

The swim was in a river - in kind of a triangle - that meant that we had to swim upstream at some point.  The current wasn't too bad, but there was current.  The upstream part was at the end of the swim and wasn't all that long.  It wasn't terrible, but there was a point where I felt as if I was swimming and swimming, but the swim finish didn't really appear to be getting closer. But, eventually, I got to the finish and tried to make my way out of the water.

Getting out of the water proved to be the trickiest part.  There were LOTS of rocks of all shapes and sizes.  I had a really hard time getting up, maintaining my balance and walking out of the water.  I fell a couple of times before I finally made it out of the river.

Then to the weird mini-transition.  I put on my socks and running shoes and headed up the steep hill to the bike transition.  The hill seemed even steeper at this point.  I got a great mental boost of confidence at one point when I looked over and noticed a 60-something year old couple of spectators who were running up the hill cheering on one of the other athletes.  They were faster than I was going up the hill.  Nice.

I got to transition, changed into my bike shoes, put on my helmet and made my way out of transition.  I got passed the mount line and tried to get going on my bike.  This has become a problem for me and is now a mental as well as a physical obstacle.  I had problems getting started at the Tri-Rock Triathlon and in front of my boss's house when we rode the Dam Loop.  The bike start was on a small incline.  I have a total mental block about starting, getting going, and getting clipped in if I have to go uphill even the slightest bit on a start.  I estimate I spent a good 2 or 3 minutes trying to get going on the bike.  I finally pushed my bike over to a curb and managed to get myself going.

Then off to the bike course.  It was a 6 mile loop.  We had to make the loop twice.  I really prefer one big loop to multiple loops or an out and back.  The course was advertised as having "rolling hills."  I had no knowledge of the course at all.  I pretty much assumed it wouldn't be as hard as the bike course at Decker.  I'm not so sure of that.  There were a few decent downhills, but the uphills were nothing to sneeze at.  There was one particularly nasty hill at the end - of course.  I noticed a bunch of riders walking up that hill - even riders on road bikes - even riders that weren't Athenas.  Of course a lot of my fellow triathletes who don't exactly fit into the typical triathlete body type and pretty much everyone riding a mountain bike or a hybrid was walking up the hill.  I was determined to ride up the hill or fall over in the process.  I made it up the hill (as did Jennifer, I might add - though I didn't ever see her on the bike course since we were in different swim waves).  Here's where doing a loop multiple times comes into play.  The entire time I was riding the loop the 2nd time, I was thinking about the prospect of having to ride up that last hill AGAIN.  I made it up that last hill the 2nd time then headed back to transition for the part I dread - the run.

I've been thinking about the run quite a bit over the last weeks.  After my epiphany during the Pan-Can 5K that my whining about running is really pathetic considering all the other obstacles and health problems I could be forced to overcome, I was particularly determined to really run the whole 5K - even if I was super slow.

Right out of the gate I was hating the run.  My legs felt like jelly.  My heart was pumping from the bike ride (though since I forgot my HRM, I don't know exactly how much my heart was pumping).  I was tired and wanted to walk.  I kept running. 2 things kept me running - 1. My goal to run the whole thing. 2. I had caught a glimpse of Jen leaving the bike transition and knew she was just ahead - I wanted to catch her. I'm not "racing" though.....really......

The course wasn't exactly an out and back, but it was set up such that I saw many runners who were heading for the finish on my way out to start the run.  At the first water stop, the runners who were heading back were giving encouragement about how we were almost to the turnaround.  They were lying.  I grabbed some water and rounded the corner.  That's when I saw a long, steep hill that I was to run down.  That's all fine and good except that I knew I was eventually going to have to run back UP that hill.  That nagged at me for the whole run.  I was slow and not doing so well with the positive affirmations.  Rather than thinking, "I love to run.  I'm light on my feet," I was thinking "Oh crap, I'm going to have to run back up that hill.  Where is that damn turn around anyway"  I kept running.

I caught up to Jennifer on the way down that big hill.  We ran together and talked a while.  She shared with me that she had "pulled a Kellie" on the swim.  She had gone a little off course and swam a little more than she had to.  I did that at our first triathlon together - the Iron Girl in Dallas in 2008.  At some point, while we were running together, I realized that I was running and talking.  I usually train by myself - especially my run training.  The few times I have trained with someone, there was NO WAY I could talk while running.  I was always panting and struggling and couldn't talk.  It occurred to me that if I could talk, I wasn't going as hard as I could.  It also occurred to me that I really must be getting better at this run thing since I could talk.  I sped up a little.

There were lots of ladies of all ages, shapes, sizes and levels of fitness on the road.  I gave high-fives to some of them as we met on the road.  Some ladies passed me.  I passed some.  I even passed a few who were "running."

I finally made it to the turnaround.  Then it was time to run up that hill.  I kept running.  I knew there was a water stop waiting for me at the top.  I was actually starting to feel a little better. My legs were a little less like jelly.  My heart was pounding a little less than usual.  My lungs weren't on fire.  Wow.  Maybe I am getting better at this even though I am still slow.  I made it to the top of the hill, grabbed some water and kept going.

After the hill, the run was GREAT.  It was mostly downhill to the finish.  I was coming to the realization that I was feeling better.  I knew I was almost done, and I really was going to make it - RUNNING the whole 5K.  As I ran, the smile on my face got bigger and bigger.  Just before the finish there was a pretty steep downhill.  The grade was such that I naturally sped up.  I kept running, kept smiling, and kept picking up speed.

I actually finished strong - not exactly a sprint kick to the finish, but I did pick up the pace slightly.  I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and a volunteer slipped a medal over my head and told me I was a triathlete. Then another volunteer handed me a cool Shiner Bock water bottle filled with ice cold water.  Awesome!

I walked around a little then made my way back to the finish line to cheer Jen into the finish.  She came in just after I did.  We got bananas and cookies and walked around the finish line area a little.  I was a little disappointed by the pre-race amenities.  No breakfast tacos.  No muffins.  No bagels. Just bananas and packages of Chips Ahoy cookies.  The Shiner Bock water bottle was cool though. 

Then we went right to the finish to have the Brightroom photographers take our picture.  They obliged.  And, the best part, Sally Edwards herself walked up as we were posing for the picture and said, "Can I get in this picture."  That MADE MY DAY!  I can't wait until the race day photos are posted online.  I will SOOOOO be buying that one.

We wandered around a little then made the trek back up the hill to transition to get our gear and head home.  Sally was there again.  She was there to cheer on and run/walk the 5K with the last athletes to finish.  She graciously posed for yet another picture with us.

We were tired and hungry and decided to head on home rather than wait to cheer on the final athlete to cross the finish line.  This is where post-race dummy head syndrome set in.  We were totally oblivious to what we'd done until we got all the way back home.  We pulled into the driveway and opened the back of the van.  That's when we discovered that Jen's bag wasn't in the van.  Neither of us is really sure how this happened, but we managed to leave Jen's bag on the ground outside the van and drove away.  Remember, the site is an hour from my house.

We called the office to the conference center near where we had parked, and they actually found her bag and were holding it for us.  YEA!

Here's the problem.  Jen was going to rent a car to go home.  She needed her ID to pick up her car.  Her ID was in her bag.  It was 12:45.  The rental car place closed at 3.  We had to drive back to Pace Bend Park, get the bag and drive back to Round Rock to pick up the rental car in just over 2 hours.  We loaded up the kids and quickly headed back to the park.  No time for showers.  No time for food.

Kevin drove like a maniac.  We made it to the park.  We got to the office and got the bag with no trouble.  Kevin drove like a maniac back to the rental car office.  Despite the long drive, traffic, lights, and many opportunities for things to go wrong, the drive went off pretty much without a hitch.  We made it back to the rental car place at 2:50.  Whew.  Jen got her car then we finally made it to Rudy's for our long awaited post-race victory meal.

I love barbecue.  I love Rudy's.  I've also been doing this HMR Diet thing for a LONG time.  I haven't splurged very many times within the last 8 months.  All those factors plus the fact that our meal was delayed 2 hours by post-race dummy head syndrome made for the most delicious barbecue meal I've ever had.  It was GLORIOUS.

After Rudy's, we went to a new Cupcake place in Austin and topped it off with cupcakes.  YUM!  After all our running around and eating, Jen headed for home.  It's a long way from Austin to Dallas after a triathlon - especially after post-race dummy head syndrome prevents you from getting to take a nap...

It was a great day.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  The water temperature was in the 80s.  The air temperature was in the 70s.  It was perfect racing weather.  I had a great race.  I still want to improve my times.  I'm going to keep doing the Decker and the Pace Bend courses until I can easily complete a Sprint Triathlon at both locations in under 2 hours. 

I'm also officially mentally ready for an Olympic Distance Triathlon.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the CapTex Tri on Memorial Day 2011.  A friend recently reminded me that Lady Bird Lake will still probably be pretty cold in May, but if I don't do that one, I will do some other Olympic Triathlon at some point in 2011.  I'm ready to take it up a notch.

I'm so happy Jennifer came to do the race with me.  She's ready to move on to Olympic too.  We had a good time and look forward to more races together. 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Little Perspective

Saturday, September 25, I participated in the Texas PurpleStride 5K benefiting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  I signed up in April, sent out e-mails requesting donations, recruited others to run, and trained with the goal of actually running every step of the 5K.  It wasn't my first ever 5K, but it was my first one since gaining back and re-losing 100+ pounds.  I was running in memory of my dear friend and co-worker Mark H-H who was ripped from his friends and family and lost his battle to Pancreatic Cancer in January 2008, just 3 months after diagnosis.

For months I focused on dieting, exercising, training, running, losing weight, etc.  For months I focused on ME.  I got frustrated when the scale didn't move in the right direction or didn't move fast enough.  I complained about running and how hard it was for me.  I whined and complained and bitched and moaned.  I even cried a time or two as I struggled to lose weight and get in the physical shape such that I could "run" and entire 5K.

Saturday came, and I wasn't really sure if I was going to be able to run every step or not.  I drove to the race site in my newly acquired purple shirt, easily found a place to park, and located some of my friends that were doing the race with me.

There were tons of people in purple shirts, vendors, a silent auction, food, coffee (from none other than John Dixson, Retro's very own "Coffee Guy"), etc.  There was a wall with paper and markers for people to write messages in honor and memory of friends and loved ones.  There were signs participants could fill out indicating for whom they were running.  There were survivors and family and friends of victims of pancreatic cancer.  Mark's lovely wife Melanie and his adorable children Emma & Rachel were there as well.

It was pretty much your standard 5K.

I've done 5K's, bike rides, triathlons, etc.  I've raised money for said events.  I've just paid my entry fee and participated in said events, skipping the fundraising part.  I've sponsored friends and family members in many such events.  I've never been so directly touched or so deeply moved by such an event.

The day was, of course, filled with thoughts of Mark.  I was not really prepared for how emotional running this particular 5K would be.

It wasn't as hot as it had been, but it was still pretty warm, and there was no shade on the course.  There were lots of participants who were walking, lots of participants with dogs and/or strollers.  It was pretty crowded - especially getting started.  I crossed the starting line a few seconds after the starting gun, clicked the start button on my HRM and started running.

I'm slow.  That isn't new.  That isn't different.  I kept repeating my running affirmations to myself:  "I am light on my feet.  I love to run."  That still doesn't really work.  I kept moving one foot in front of the other.  As usual, about 2 minutes into the endeavor, I was already tired, already panting, and already wondering if it would be OK to go ahead and walk now.  I kept going.

At about the 1 mile mark, I felt better than usual.  Maybe I am getting better at this.  I kept going.

The course was a loop around the Hill Country Galleria.  We had to run around the loop 2.5 times.  So, there was a point where I could have totally cheated and gone way less than 5K.  I didn't do that.  I kept going.

Sometime before the 2 mile mark I started fading.  That's when it hit me.  Mark is dead.  I'm here running.  I have a great life, a great husband, two great kids.  I'm tired and sweating and struggling to get fit and lose weight, but I'm alive.  Mark is dead.  This is nothing.  Mark's final days were spent in intense pain - all the while knowing that the end was near and he was going to leave his wife and young girls behind.  Wow.  What am I doing complaining about running.

Then, suddenly, I was crying.  Then I was trying to run with my heart pounding and my lungs on fire and gasping for air from the tears, not just from the running.  Still, what I was enduring paled in comparison to what Mark and his family endured almost 3 year ago.

I kept running.  Suddenly I had way more motivation to "run" the whole thing than just some stated personal fitness goal.  Suddenly I really was running for Mark.  I could stop and walk at anytime.  I could cheat and go less than 3.1 miles.  I could have a banana and Gatorade when I got to the finish line.  Mark had to face the reality and the pain of pancreatic cancer and ultimately his own death.  There was no stopping.  If Mark had to endure that, I could surely run every step of a 5K - what a small feat by comparison.  I really have no idea what struggle and pain really are. 

From that moment on, there was no way I was going to stop and walk.  I kept moving.  I was slow, but I was "running."  It was for Mark.  Whenever I thought I just had to stop, I thought about Mark.  I thought about how lucky I am.  I thought about how easy this was compared to what Mark went through.  I kept running.

This was great motivation, but it resulted in quite a few tears as I slowly finished the 5K then crossed the finish line.  I was really glad that, despite the fact that I had several friends with me participating in the run, I ran the whole thing basically by myself.  It was nice to have that epiphany by myself and to cry my way through a 5K by myself.

I'll run other 5K's.  I'll participate in other races, bike rides, triathlons, etc.  I'll raise more money for charity.  I'll sponsor more friends and family members in similar charity events.  I'll never forget how lucky I am to have the opportunity to run and bike and swim.  I'll never forget that my struggles are nothing compared to the life and death struggles of others.  Oh, I'm sure I'll still occasionally whine and complain and bitch and moan about running, the scale, etc., but I'll also try to frequently remind myself that sometimes we all need to step back and get a little perspective.

That was for you, Mark!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Dam Loop

If you're from Austin and you're an avid cyclist, you know "The Dam Loop."  There are a few minor differences between various routes people take.  There are several different starting places.  But, generally speaking, "The Dam Loop" is an Austin cyclist route of passage.  If you haven't done it, you aren't a real cyclist.  Until last Sunday (9/19), I was not a real Austin cyclist.

I have a friend at work (GT) who is an avid cyclist.  He's a total nut.  He completes multiple century rides every year.  His normal Sunday bike ride is commonly over 100 miles.   He often rides the Dam Loop as a leisurely "off day" workout after work.  He has all the bike toys and gear and averages in excess of 20 mph over crazy hills and even crazier distances.

GT has been pestering me to ride with him for YEARS.  I've never done it.  My standard excuse has been that there is no way I can ride those Austin hills or keep up with him on my hybrid bike.  I finally got a new road bike.  Excuse gone.

I've still put off riding with GT.  He's fast.  He's in killer shape.  He's got 15 years on me, but he can totally smoke me on the bike.  I knew he'd stick with me if we rode together, but I hated the idea of holding him bike while I struggled up the hills around Austin.  I kept coming up with excuses.

After much badgering and my learning that my boss had finally joined GT on the Dam Loop excursion, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and make the trek myself.  I need the time in the saddle.  I need the workout.  I need to log the miles.  I need to get better on hills.  The Dam Loop is the perfect way to improve my overall fitness and my performance on the bike.  I need to do this ride.

I didn't know the exact route we would take, but I knew we'd be biking on 360, FM 2222, 620, Bee Cave Road, etc.  We'd bike across Mansfield Dam over Lake Travis.  I've driven on all those roads.  I've seen many cyclists on all those roads.  There are tons of hills - long hills - steep hills.  40 miles is a pretty long way on a bike - especially for me.  I have ridden 40 miles on my bike - once- three years ago. 

I was pretty nervous about the whole endeavor.  I wasn't looking forward to being slow and holding GT and MK back.  I wasn't looking forward to the possibility of not making it up a hill and giving up to walk.  I'm not comfortable standing up and pedaling up a hill - which is pretty much required over these hills.  I vowed that I would make it up all the hills and through the entire ride or die trying - I would fall over before I would pop out and walk up a hill.  I'm a little on the stubborn side.

I was pretty worked up about the whole thing. I'm reasonably sure I was more nervous about this normal Sunday ride with a couple of friends than all the races I've ever done.  Pretty silly.

At some point I had the conscious thought that maybe this wasn't quite the humongous deal I was making it out to be.  Maybe I had it built up so much in my mind that it wouldn't be all that bad.  Yeah.  That's it.  I'll keep telling myself that.  I made the mistake of reading this article before the ride.  Not smart.

So, I got up before the ass crack of dawn Sunday to meet everyone at Steiner Ranch Blvd and 620 at 7am.  I had to leave my house at about 6:15.  I don't do early.  I think that might have been the hardest part.

I parked my van on the side of the road, met GT and MK and we headed out.  This is approximately the route we took:

The Dam Loop

At the end, we detoured into my boss's neighborhood, stopped briefly at his house, then got back onto the main route and headed back to my car.

We stopped at a nice convenience store about 12 miles in and got Gatorade while enjoying the amazing view from the patio.  We stopped again at MK's house about 30 miles in.

The total route was 40 miles.  So, here's how it went.  I was SLOW.  The hills were hard.  We avoided "Tumbleweed Hill" on 2222 by way of River Place Blvd.  I was happy to avoid a steep downhill with lots of traffic and no shoulder, but the price for that was one REALLY steep hill in a residential neighborhood that got my heart pumping.

The views were spectacular.  It was a beautiful day.  The hill going up 360 to the Bee Cave exit was pretty tough, but I just kept moving my legs as fast as I could to try to keep my cadence up and make it up the hill.  I was feeling really good - smug and confident - until we detoured to MK's neighborhood.  Those residential hills winding from the main road to his house were brutal.  Stopping at his house took away my momentum and really slowed me down.

By the time we got back on 620 from our little detour, I was tired and my legs were feeling it.  GT warned me that the worst hill was yet to come, but I blew him off.  I had no idea that I had parked my car in the absolute worst possible spot.  My van was at the top of the longest, steepest, most grueling hill of the entire route.  I just kept moving my legs and tried to keep going forward.  There's no granny gear on my bike.  I was in the lowest possible gear.  I still couldn't make my body work correctly to pedal out of the saddle.  I just kept moving my legs.  I contemplated popping out and walking, but I could see my car - I'd come way too far and was way too close to stop now.  I just kept moving my legs.  I slowed down to the point that I was briefly afraid I was going to just tip over from sheer lack of forward momentum.  But I kept moving.

Thankfully, the last traffic light was green when I got to it.  If I'd had to stop, I'm not sure I could have made myself keep going forward on that incline from a dead stop.  I made it to my car.  Then my brain completely shut off.

I was tired.  I was shaking.  I couldn't think.  GT had to hold my bike and help me get off.  Then I couldn't find my keys.  I couldn't really talk.  He help me get in my car, load my bike, etc.  He headed home.  I just sat in my car a little while, not really trusting my brain enough to pull into traffic.  I finally got it together and drove home.  It seemed like a really long ride home.

I'll do the Dam Loop again, but I WON'T park my car in the same place.  I'll get that worst hill out of the way early rather than at the very end.  I'll keep riding and hopefully get faster.  I might never be as speedy as GT, but even as slow as I am, I feel like a real Austin cyclist.

Now, I've just gotta log the miles in the saddle, get faster, get better on the hills, and get ready for my very first century ride - I'm thinking Spring 2011.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Running Sucks

I suck at running.  I've worked at it.  I've tried.  I've used "positive affirmations."  I still just plain suck at it.

Some of it is physical.  Some of it is mental.  All of it is frustrating.

Here are the facts.  I have a total mental block about running.  As soon as I take the first "running" step, my heart starts pounding, my lungs start burning, my legs feel 4 times as heavy as they did while I was walking, and I start thinking about how long/far I have to run before I can stop.  That's the mental part.

The physical part:  I'm fat.  I'm short.  I'm slow.  Now, I have lost a ton of weight.  I'm not nearly as fat as I was 6 months ago, but no matter how you slice it, I'm still technically "obese."  I'm making progress. I'm getting closer. 

I'm really not sure, given my muscle mass, size, bone structure, body type, etc, that my healthy, reasonable, sustainable weight will ever be what is considered on the "one size fits all" chart as "normal."  I'm pretty sure I'm destined to always be considered at least "overweight" if not "obese."  Now, I'm totally cool with that.  If I'm healthy and fit and happy with my size, I couldn't care less about some dumb chart that doesn't take into account at all a myriad of stats such as body fat percentage, muscle mass, resting heart rate, bone structure, etc, etc, etc.  BUT, my predisposition to likely always weigh more in pounds than is considered "normal" doesn't really bode well for my running future.

The reality is that even though I've worked out A TON since February 1, and even though I've lost 103 pounds in 32 weeks, I'm still fat and still tip the scale at just over 200 pounds (getting dangerously close to conquering that milestone - but that's another post for another day).  "Runners" (at least of the female variety) generally don't weight over 200 pounds.

Even though I know in my head that I'm fat.  Even though I know in my head that I'm short.  Even though I know in my head that I am making progress, and I am getting better, I'm still REALLY frustrated about the whole running thing.

I started the "Couch to 5K" (aka C25K) running program June 26.  I am registered for the Texas PurpleStride 5K in Austin September 25 - raising money for Pancreatic Cancer research and support. I've been registered since March 24.  I decided I could certainly complete the 9-week C25K plan and actually be ready to RUN an entire 5K in 3 months - especially since I'd been working out and losing weight since February 1.  I wasn't really starting from "the couch."  I'd already started a little walk/run training on my own.  I had already lost some weight and was confident that the pounds would continue to come off as I trained and the calendar got closer to my first 5K since 2008.

I took it really slow with the running/walking training.  I followed the C25K plan, but I didn't "run" all that fast.  I actually did Week 2 THREE times because I didn't feel ready to move on, and didn't want to take it so fast that I sabotaged myself.

I tried to take baby steps.  I tried to focus on the progress and stay positive.  I still suck.  There are 13 days until the Texas PurpleStride 5K.  I really don't think I have a chance in the world of actually "running" the whole thing.  It's only a freakin' 5K!  I've been working out since February.  I've been specifically training for a 5K since June.  I've lost 100 pounds.  WTF?!?!?!?  It's not like I have my sights set on a marathon.  Is it really too much to ask to be able to run an entire 5K in 35ish minutes and not feel like I'm being tortured from the first step until the very last?


While I'm trying to stay focused on all my accomplishments over the last few months and on the positive things, I'm still really bummed about the whole running thing.  I thought for sure I could get myself in a state by now that I could run a 5K in a relatively respectable time.  35 minutes is barely respectable.  I'd really love to accomplish 10-minute miles, but that is such a pipe dream considering I can't even run the whole thing at any speed at this point.  UGH!

And, I'm talking about just a 5K - I just go to the starting line, run 3.1 miles, then cross the finish line.  I'm not even talking about the 5K part of a triathlon that happens AFTER I've swum 800 meters and biked 12 miles.

My goals for 2010 are modest:  the PurpleStride 5K and the Trek Women's Series Triathlon.  That's it.  I might do another 5K or two, or a bike ride if one comes up.  I might even do another triathlon if I can find one.  But generally, those 2 events are my official goals for 2010.  At this point, it's doubtful that I'll be able to run the 5K on 9/25 or the 5K portion of the triathlon 10/3.

My 2011 goals are a little loftier, but we're still not talking about a marathon or anything completely crazy like an Ironman Triathlon.  I'd like to complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run) in 2011.  I'd also like to complete a 100-mile bike ride next year.  I'd LOVE to do a half marathon, but I haven't officially made that a goal yet.

Every second that I'm "running" and struggling and feeling like crap that I still totally suck at it, I think about the fact that the end of an Olympic Distance Triathlon involves running a 10K (6.2 miles).  I think about the insanity of my actually running a half marathon (13.1 miles).  Given my current progress, I have a LOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNG way to go.  UGH!

I will keep training.  I will keep trying positive affirmations.  I will keep losing weight.  I will do some research about various running techniques and clinics.  I will even consider finding a running group and/or a coach/personal trainer.  I've conquered other obstacles.  I'll "beat" running.  It's just taking longer than I hoped.  I am strong.  I am not patient.

For now, Running SUCKS!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hitting the Century Mark - REDUX

So, I've lost 100 pounds....again....

In April of 2007 we went to Disney World.  I was SUPER FAT.  It was miserable.  I worried about fitting into rides.  I got winded walking around the park.  My ankles ached with every step.  It was my turning point.  It still took me a while to get started.  Finally, I started a medically supervised, meal replacement diet in June of 2007.  I had a doctor's appointment and a weight loss meeting every week and stayed in the HMR "box" eating only foods I bought from the doctor. 

I also slowly started exercising.  I went to Curves 3 days a week at first.  Then I started adding cardio little by little.  The first time I got on an elliptical machine I made it a whopping 5 minutes and thought I was going to die.

After 40 weeks of strict dieting and intense training, I was down 140 pounds and going 60 minutes on the elliptical with no problem.  That's when I completed my first ever Triathlon - the Danskin - June 8, 2008.

During the Spring and Summer of 2008 I completed a 5K, a 4-mile run, a 25-mile bike ride, a duathlon, 4 triathlons, and 1 marathon relay (I only ran 5K of the 26 miles).  I never did lose all the weight I wanted.  I was still officially overweight, but I was in the best shape of my life and could fit into the dress I wore to high school graduation.  I was getting there.

Then, I got pregnant.  It wasn't really an accident that I got pregnant.  We were planning Baby #2, but we were expecting that to come a little later. Anyway, I went abruptly from hard core diet and exercising to hard core puking and sleeping.

I gained WAY more weight while I was pregnant than I should have.  Then Baby Sam came.  He is certainly worth all the trouble.  I continued to gain weight after he was born.  By the time I finished breastfeeding I had gained back just about 130 of the 140 pounds I lost before I got pregnant.


On February 1, 2010, I went back "in the box" on HMR and back to working out.  Again, Curves 3 days a week at first, then added cardio.  I still consistently go to Curves 3 times EVERY WEEK and I'm back in the swing of the triathlon training. 

Last Monday, on August 30, after 30 weeks, I got on the scale and saw a number 100.2 pounds less than the number on February 1 (which is a little over 110 pounds less than my fattest ever).

YEA ME......sort of....

Don't get me wrong, I'm THRILLED to hit the century mark.  I'm proud.  I'm happy to have said goodbye to those 100 pounds (again).  I'm happy to be a triathlete again.  I'm confident I'll actually make it all the way to my goal this time (whenever I figure out exactly what that goal is).  The thing is, it's a little anti-climactic to hit the century mark for the 2nd time.

I already lost 100 pounds, and then I gained it all back!  I remain continually worried that I will gain it back again.  It's a constant worry.  Not one day goes by that I don't think about how awful it would be to step on the scale and once again be in a place where I needed to lose 100+ pounds.

Anyway, I feel like hitting the century mark is worthy of a blog entry, but I really don't know what else to say.  I'm guessing I have between 40 and 65 more pounds to lose.  I really don't know.  I want to be a reasonable, healthy, maintainable weight for my size and body type, but because of my fitness level and muscle mass, and because I've never really been a healthy weight as an adult, I really don't know what that weight is. So, I still have a long way to go, and I don't even know exactly how much farther.

I'm still "in the box."  I still work out just about every day.  I plan little "vacation" days out of the box and try not to go too nuts eating non-HMR food.  I'm hoping to be eating HMR food + fruits and vegetables in a few months.  I might even be on HMR maintenance by Spring.  That would be nice.

I probably should have started this blog in 2007 when I started the journey the first time.  I could have blogged about my progress as I was losing the weight (both times).  But I didn't.  So, now I'll blog about hitting the 100-pound mark for the second time and about my journey from this point forward.

I'm really struggling with this post, so, in the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."


Monday, September 6, 2010

Tri-Rock Race Report

So, I'm getting to this a little late as the race was August 22, but I am getting to it.  This is my first ever official race report!  It's probably too long.  Hopefully I'll get better at this blogging thing.

First, a little explanation of how I came be be completing this race in the first place.  If you know me, you know that I went to SMU, I was in the Mustang Band, and some 15 years after graduating, I'm still a total Band Geek and a die-hard Mustang. 

The last weekend before classes start it's not unusual for the Diamond M Club (Mustang Band Alumni Association) to have some kind of event for the current band members.  They usually watch a rehearsal then have an informal gathering with hot dogs or something and get to meet the current Band members.  We talk about the old days and marvel at how much younger the college kids seem to get every year. 

Kev was scheduled to head to his brother's for the weekend to do his Fantasy Football Draft (a weekend of talking football, eating, drinking, smoking cigars, etc.).  Since I wasn't planning on partaking in the eating, drinking and smoking and I was still just on the waiting list to be in the League, I decided to pass on Draft Weekend.  I sent a message to a few of my Diamond M Club friends and asked them if the Club was going to do anything for the Band.  I thought I could head up to Big D for the weekend, hang out with friends, do general Band Geek stuff, let my kids run around campus.  Good times.

Well, I'm still not sure what's up with this, but the Diamond M Club didn't have anything planned.  However, my friend Jennifer responded to my message that while she didn't know of any Band activities over the weekend, she and her husband were participating in a triathlon in Rockwall and I was invited to join them.

Hmmmmmmm.  A triathlon. In Rockwall.  In late August.  For which I was completely unprepared. 

I thought about it for all of 30 seconds, then thought, "Sure, why not?"  Before I had much time to think about it, I had renewed my USAT membership, scheduled a tune-up for my bike, ordered a new tri suit, and signed up for the race.

Now, I've been working out consistently since February.  I've sort of been training for a triathlon.  I've had the Trek Women's Series Triathlon in Austin on October 3 on the schedule for MONTHS.  I've done triathlons before.  It wasn't my first one.  But, the Trek was supposed to be my big comeback, and I wasn't really physically or mentally ready to do a triathlon just yet.

Regardless, I was signed up, and I'm not one to sign up and not follow through without a REALLY good reason, so I decided to go ahead with it.

I got new pedals and shoes, got my bike tuned up, got my USAT membership, got my new tri suit, got all my gear ready to go and worked out child care with my Mom and Dad so I could go north by myself and not have to worry about the kids before, during or after the race.  I headed out to Big D Saturday morning.

I had to go straight to Rockwall for packet pickup.  I was AMAZED by the Rockwall High School Aquatics Center.  It was really nice - 8-lane Olympic-sized pool, diving pool, nice stands, nice locker rooms - just amazing, especially for a High School. 

I had been warned that the Tri-Rock race director was a little hard core about the whole triathlon thing.  I walked into the natatorium with my photo ID and my USAT membership card to pick up my packet.  I handed my ID and membership card to the lady at the registration table.  She had a master list that indicated my name, bib number and division.  I registered as an "Athena."  For those of you that don't know, "Athena" is triathlon-speak for "fat girl."  But, in the world of triathlon, Athenas weigh 150 pounds or more.  Now, I would be over the moon if I weighed 150 pounds.  As it is, I still weigh over 200 pounds! 

The lady looked at my name, told me my bib number was 290, then moved her finger along the line until she saw that I was registered as an Athena.  She then matter-of-factly said, "Please step on the scale," and pointed to a $19.99 bathroom scale on the floor next to her.  WTF?!?!?!  A scale?  Are you freakin' kidding me?  The Athena limit is 150.  My boobs probably weigh 150 pounds!  I kind of giggled nervously and complied.  I was so dumbfounded by the whole thing that I put up no fight and didn't even make a witty comment.  I just stepped on the scale and told myself not to be embarrassed because A) I didn't know that lady, and she didn't know me, and I didn't care if she judged me based on the number on that scale; B) It's doubtful that she gave a rats ass about the number on the scale; C) That number was significantly lower than it would have been 6 months ago; and D) I was going to complete a triathlon the next day, so screw the dumb scale.

After proving to the packet pickup nazi that I was, in fact, fat enough to be an Athena, I was guided down the line to pick up my bib, t-shirt, etc.  Packet pickup done. 

My friend Jennifer who got me into this mess in the first place was kind enough to let me stay at her place the night before the race.  I went to her house.  The day and night Saturday before the race were lovely.  I visited my Aunt and Uncle in Richardson, visited with Jennifer and Kyle (and their adorable daughter Evelyn), my lovely hosts for the weekend, and had a FABULOUS pre-race dinner at Ali Baba in Dallas.  It was HEAVENLY.  I can't wait to go back and eat there again.

Jennifer, Kyle and I got all our race gear together, set our alarms and eventually made our way to our respective beds to try to get some sleep before having to get up about and hour before the ass crack of dawn to get to the race.  I didn't sleep all that well.  I don't know why I get pre-race jitters, but I do.  It's not like I'm really "racing."  It's more like an organized workout.  I'm slow.  I'm fat.  I'm hardly a professional.  I don't compete for prizes or against anyone.  I participate to finish, to get the t-shirt, to have a goal so my workouts are about something other than just losing weight, and most importantly, because it's fun.

So, I woke up several times during the night, had goofy dreams about various triathlon disasters, and actually didn't have much trouble when 4:45 came and it really was time to get up and get ready for the race.

We all ate breakfast, got all our gear, and headed out to Rockwall.  It was a pretty easy drive since it was crazy early - the only cars on the road had bikes on the back of them - headed to the same place we were going.  Everyone else had the good sense to still be in bed.

The race nazism continued as everyone had to have their number written on their bodies by race officials at the entrance to transition.  There were race officials at transition checking bib number, checking for stickers on bikes and helmets indicating that they had passed safety inspection and then writing our numbers on us.  That made for quite the bottleneck into the transition area.

It was to be a pool swim, so our bib numbers were in the order we would start - based on our estimated 300m swim time when we registered.  My friends and I were both in the high 200's out of almost 400 participants, so we were pretty much at the end of the pack.  We found our bike rack and got our stuff ready.  Then we checked in with the USAT official to make sure our bikes were racked in the right direction so we wouldn't have our bib numbers called out at the race meeting that our bikes were turned wrong - like I said, race nazis.

We got our timing chips got all set and got ready for the start.  I was nervous.  Again, there's no real need for this.  I just can't help it.  I was totally prepared to be last overall, but I was still nervous about getting through the race, the heat, not really being ready to do a triathlon just yet, etc.  We finally had the race meeting and got way more instructions than we could possibly remember.  Then we filed into the natatorium to start the 300m pool swim.

Since I was number 290, it was a while before I got in the water.  When it was my turn, I hit "go" on my HRM watch, jumped in and started swimming.  I hate the pool swim.  It's hard to pass.  It's depressing to get passed.  Just about the time you get into a groove with your stroke, it's time to turn around.  I never thought I'd get to this place, but I definitely prefer open water to the pool swim. 

During the very first 50m length, the guy who started behind me passed me.  I tried not to let myself get too discouraged by that.  "Just keep swimming," I told myself.  "You aren't racing.  This is for fun."  I just kept swimming.  I tried to focus on staying calm, breathing, looking straight down, having good form with my stroke, being efficient in the water.  I was feeling pretty good.  As I headed for home on the last 50m length, the guy who had passed me was fading, and I passed him and got out of the pool before he did.  Though I was doing a good job of staying positive and focusing on finishing and having fun rather than racing, I still felt pretty good about catching up and eventually passing him.

I had also been worried about getting out of the pool as we were supposed to hoist ourselves out of the water - no ladder.  There were volunteers there to help, but I WEIGH OVER 200 POUNDS!  It's not like those volunteers have any chance in the world of heaving my fat ass out of the pool.  To my surprise, I made it out of the pool without looking too much like a beached whale - at least I don't think I did.  If I'm wrong, I don't want to know.  Ignorance is bliss.

Then to transition.  I'm not racing.  I'm not racing.  I'm not in a big hurry. Just get on the bike and get moving, no need to go nuts.  My friend Jennifer was #297 so she got in the water slightly after I did.  She got to transition while I was getting my bike gear going.  I'm not racing.  I'm not racing.  I'm so damn competitive.  I couldn't help but try to hurry to stay ahead of her.  Remember, I'm not racing.  I got myself all transitioned and headed out.  It was a long walk from the bike rack to the transition exit.  It sucked to walk so far in my bike shoes.  I always feel like such a goober walking in my bike shoes.

Then I tried to get on the bike and really looked like a goober.  I couldn't get clipped into my pedals.  I finally got going then almost fell flat on my ass trying to get clipped in and going.  I said a foul word - probably beginning with an "F" when I realized that I was right next to a family with young kids.  Nice.  I didn't look up, and kept going.  I finally got in my damn pedals and took off.

This is my favorite part.  I love the bike.  Even on my hybrid, I'm pretty good on the bike - especially for a fat girl.  Really, I'm slow, but I feel fast.  Like I said, ignorance is bliss.

The bike had some really moderate hills - really just slight inclines - but with my hybrid bike and my fat ass, any incline is pretty tough.  It was an out and back course, and I was pleased that I mostly kept the speedometer over the 15 mph mark up to the turnaround.  I was feeling really good about myself.

At some point on the bike - I think before the turnaround, Jennifer passed me.  I'm not racing.  I'm not racing.  Yeah, right.  I kicked it up a notch to pass her.  I really don't want to be competing with anyone other than myself, but I can't just turn off that competitive instinct. 

Then I turned around.  Whoa, the back part of the out and back seemed much harder.  Again, the "hills" weren't all that much, but I could feel it, and that smug feeling about my 15mph mark quickly faded.  I tried to stay positive and just keep pedalling.  I also tried to avoid the voice in my head that kept reminding me that finishing this 20K bike route only meant that the last, most dreaded part of the triathlon remained - THE RUN - just a 5K, but sister, I SUCK at running.

I came to the end of the bike, dismounted and walked like a goober in my bike shoes to the bike rack.  I was careful to rack my bike correctly so as not to get penalized by the race nazis.  Again, as I was making the bike to run transition, Jennifer came in from the bike.  Remember - NOT racing!!!  I took off my helmet, slipped on my visor, put on my running shoes, and headed out to "run."  UGH!

Did I mention that I SUCK at running?  I'm fat.  I'm slow.  And, to top it all off, I have a total mental block with running.  As soon as I take the first "running" step, my lungs start to burn, my legs feel like lead, my heart races, and I start thinking about how long I have to run before I can stop and walk.  I'm not big on all that "positive affirmation" BS, but lately I've been trying to constantly tell myself "I love to run.  I'm light on my feet" while "running."  Please note I use the term "running" VERY loosely.  My running is not significantly faster than the walking speed of most people, but it sort of qualifies as running and I'm working really hard to get faster, build up endurance, and get over the mental block about the whole exercise.

I started running straight away out of transition - immediately contemplating how long I had to go before I wouldn't seem like a total loser for starting to walk.  I wish I'd planned the run better.  I should have had some sort of race plan - Run 4 minutes, Walk 1 minute.  Something.  I had nothing.  I was just winging it.  I was resigned to walk the whole thing if I had to - at least that's what I told myself.  But, the reality was that I didn't want to walk the whole thing, and I was way more motivated by Jennifer being right behind me than I ever wanted to admit.  HELLO!!!  I'M NOT RACING!

So, I settled into just winging the walk/run alternating.  I would run to that light post then walk to that mailbox and so on.  I walked more than I would have liked, but I kept plugging along.  I even passed a few people.  I was also amused by all the people who passed me and offered me encouragement.  It was nice - most triathletes are really good about encouraging fellow participants.  But, I just kept thinking about how fat I was and that I was the token fat girl completing a triathlon that everyone felt obligated to encourage.  I could imagine them thinking, "Bless her heart."  After they passed me, smiled, and cheered me on.  Now, I'm not remotely self conscious about this.  I'm fat.  I'm completing a triathlon.  They mean well.  I'm not self conscious or embarrassed.  I was just amused by it.  It was helpful to be cheered on by all the various strangers passing me.

Like the bike, it was an out and back, but there was a little extra out and back.  You had to go down a street and around a cul-de-sac on both the out and the back.  That part I didn't love.  When I got to the first turn off to go around the cul-de-sac the first time, I met someone who was heading back for the last time - she was almost done.  I was trying not to think about how far I'd gone - or worse, how far I still had to go.  The lean, fit runner who didn't seem remotely spent and clearly didn't have lungs that were on fire like mine were smiled and clearly felt obligated to come up with some encouraging words for the token fat girl on the course.  "First mile done.  Great job."  CRAP!  Only 1 mile!  Dammit.  I don't want to know that.  Thanks a lot. 

There was a water stop in the cul-de-sac.  I grabbed a cup and kept going.  I took a drink, then poured the rest on my head.  That was dumb.  The water was really cold, and I kind of gasped when the cold water hit my head.  This caused me to aspirate the water I was still swallowing.  Great.  Now I'm hot and tired and trying to make it through the worst part of a triathlon while gasping for air and coughing.

I kept on.  The out and back + the cul-de-sac thing gave me the opportunity to be continually reminded me that Jennifer was still on my heels.  She was running the whole thing - no walk breaks for her.  While my "running" pace is slightly faster than hers, her endurance and ability to go the whole 5K without walking certainly gave her an edge.

I love to run.  I'm light on my feet.  This isn't working.  I'm hot.  I'm tired.  I suck at running.  UGH!

I finally made it to almost the finish line and forced myself to run farther than I wanted to - not wanting to seem like a big loser walking at the end.

Then, I crossed the finish line.  I did it.  I'm a triathlete again.  After doing 4 races in 2008, getting pregnant, gaining back 130 pounds of the 140 pounds I lost, having a baby, breastfeeding, eating way too much, not working out, getting totally out of shape, having wicked postpartum depression, then spending 7 months dieting and training and losing 95 of those pounds again, I completed another triathlon.  I'm back!

I stopped the stop watch on my HRM and noted that I had finished in about 1 hour, 50 minutes.  YEA!!!  I was really hoping to make it under 2 hours, and I did it!  300m swim.  20K bike.  5K run.  1 hour, 50 minutes.  Not bad for a fat girl on a hybrid who wasn't really physically or emotionally prepared for a triathlon and only signed up a week before the race.

I got some water, wandered around a little, then went to transition to find my iPhone and post on FB that I was again officially a TRIATHLETE.  I was hot and exhausted and a little emotional.  I didn't cry.  I didn't totally lose it like I did when I finished my very first race, but I did think about how hard it was to make this comeback.  YEA ME!

I was also VERY hot.  I don't know how hot it was, but in the 90s (at only 10:30am).  There was no shade.  The heat really started to get to me.  I found some food and some water and just plopped down on the ground under a tent.

Jennifer crossed the finish line shortly after me.  As it turned out, there were only 6 Athenas registered for this race.  Jennifer finished FIRST among them, and I was SECOND.   Although I crossed the finish line before she did, her delayed start on the swim meant that her overall time was 30 seconds faster than mine.  I would loved to have won. I really wasn't racing, but I am competitive, and having her on my heels for the entire race did keep me going.  Still, I'm not sad at all that we left with her getting a kick ass First Place trophy and my getting a cool Second Place one myself.  If someone had to beat me, I'm truly glad it was Jennifer - who has lost some 85 pounds herself and is also making a triathlon comeback.  I'm thrilled with my Second Place finish.  There might have only been 6 Athenas, but 4 of them were slower than I was, for sure one of them was younger than I am, and probably none of them have lost, gained and lost again over 100 pounds, had a baby, and battled back from postpartum depression in the last 2 years. 

Overall, the race was great.  I'm so glad I did it.  I made fun of the "race nazis," but Ironhead Productions put on a great race, and the Rockwall Kiwanis volunteers were AMAZING.  The race support was great.  The post-race food was plentiful and excellent.  The course was well-marked.  Even the t-shirt was cool.  It was a terrific day.

First and Second Place Athenas  showing off our hardware!

We collected our hardware and headed back to Jennifer and Kyle's.  Oh, I should mention that Kyle finished and did really well too.  Yea Kyle!  We got home, showered and headed out to the best part - the post-race victory meal.  We ate at Angelo's.  It was a really good Italian buffet.  I somehow managed not to eat a mountain of food.

After a nice meal and visit with Jennifer, Kyle, and their sweet daughter Evelyn, I loaded up my van and headed south.  It was a terrific weekend. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I've been threatening to do this almost as long as I threatened to do a triathlon

So, here I am - on the blog bandwagon.  I talked about doing a blog for a long time.  I considered doing a blog about family stuff, about baby stuff and breastfeeding, about triathlon/weight loss/fitness, etc.  I might actually someday start another blog to talk about my kids, post pictures, etc.  For now, this blog is about triathlon/fitness/weight loss.

I'm fat.  That's not news.  I've been fat basically forever.  I vaguely remember not being fat before about 2nd grade.  I remember being fat in 2nd - 6th grades.  I lost some weight in Junior High and was a reasonable weight through High School, but at the time, I thought I was enormous.

I've lost significant amounts of weight as an adult 3 times now - over 100 pounds twice.  I've never been at my "goal weight" as an adult.  At this point, I have absolutely NO IDEA what my goal weight is.  I've never been this fit before.  Muscle weighs more than fat, blah blah blah.  Presumably, I should have more lean muscle mass and less fat and be able to weigh more but still be a "healthy" weight.  Who knows.  I would LOVE to be a single-digit size.  I would LOVE to be at a size where I can walk into any store and potentially buy clothes.  And, of course, the ultimate goal is health and fitness.  SOOOOO...I'm on this journey towards some unknown goal.  Hopefully I'll know it when I get there.

In the meantime, I'll post about challenges, struggles, victories, tips, training, races, etc.  It inspires me to read the blogs of others with similar goals, similar struggles, similar accomplishments.  I hope my blog can inspire someone as well.  Join me for the ride!