Thursday, May 28, 2009


I want a new bike so badly! Shelly and I did the evening ride at Tri-Sition Area tonight, and we each got to try one of the store's demo road bikes. The only thing I can compare it to is when I traded in my Mustang for my Z3. They're both called sports cars, and they both look really cute, but they are worlds apart when you get behind the wheel. That's how I felt on the bike today.

Riding was effortless, switching gears was ridiculously smooth and easy, and my legs didn't even feel tired when we were finished. Lorena taught me how to get in the aero position to save energy going down a hill — and all I could think of was the effort I expended pedaling furiously all through the CapTex on Monday. Imagine how much easier the run would be after an easier time on the bike...I need a road bike right away!

Can't wait to go shopping for one. The one I rode today was $2400 — way out of my price range. I hope I didn't get spoiled on my first try. I'm going to take my time and find the perfect bike. In the meantime, if anyone wants to buy a barely used 2008 Trek FX 7.2, you know how to reach me (poor little Trek, never had a chance).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CapTexTri Race Report

Shelly and I did the CapTex Tri yesterday. The event features three distances: Olympic, Sprint, and "First Tri," which is the one we participated in. It was our second triathlon, but our first in open water.

Our event started at 10 a.m., but the transition area opened at 7:30. After a good breakfast (bacon, egg, and cheese bagel!), we headed over to the transition area, got body marked, and set up our gear. Then we waited. We watched waves of swimmers from the other races starting their events. The waiting around made both of us nauseatingly nervous! When it came time for us to start the race, we gathered on the shore of Town Lake in our color-coded swim caps as the announcer explained the course. Then we unwillingly jumped into the heart-stoppingly-cold river (~66 degrees) where we had to tread water for 3 minutes before we started the swim.

Shelly and I might be two of the little yellow caps in this picture.

I was proud of my first few strokes. I put my face in and swam freestyle like a champ. Then my goggles started leaking, I got kicked in the head, and someone touched my foot from behind. I freaked out and finished the rest of the swim doing breaststroke because I could not put my face back in the water. Ridiculous.

Happiest moment of the morning.

The trek from the lake to the transition area was a long one. I shuffled to my bike and got ready to ride as quickly as I could. It still took me just over 5 minutes to get in and out of the first transition.

No, wait, this was the happiest moment of the morning.

The bike ride was fantastic. I felt strong and wanted to see how fast I could push myself. I ended up riding at an average of 16 mph, which I was really pleased with. I passed a lot of folks and a lot of people passed me. The bike portion was so much fun because of all the activity around me and the speed at which it was happening. It was also a fabulous course around downtown Austin.

Then I started the run. By that time I guess it was about 10:45, and it was getting hot outside. The sky was clear and the sun was beating down. I thought the run would be my strongest part of the race, and the speedwork I had done made me think I'd run 8:45 minute/miles, but my average turned out to be 10:13. It was just so hot. I picked up the pace in the last mile but it was too late to make up for time lost. I wonder if pushing it so much on the bike significantly weakened my run. I can't wait to go shopping for a road bike.

Hooray! Crossing the finish line (I'm the orange figure under the banner).

Overall, I'm really happy with how I did. I finished the race (400 meter swim, 6.2 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) in 1:15:15. I came in 34th out of 119 women who competed, and 115th out of 284 total participants. Shelly did great too, and both of us are really excited because we have so much room to improve. We could really do well at this!

CapTex was a great experience and I'm definitely going to do it again next year — maybe the Sprint, or the Olympic if I'm feeling brave.

This sign made me smile during the race!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beach to Bay Race Report

I've wanted to do Beach to Bay ever since I started running. I have brightly colored memories of this race from when I was a kid in like 1987, cheering for my dad and his corporate team. I remember the pre- and post-race parties, the free-flowing beer, and the good times had by all. But even though I've been a runner for 10+ years now, I've never participated.

This year, Shelly and I surprised ourselves by saying "yes!" when Bobby from work asked if we wanted to take the 2 remaining spots on one of his teams. Bobby coordinates several Beach to Bay teams every year, and the last couple of years, he's asked me if I wanted to run. There's always been a reason not to. This year's reason was that CapTex is just one week after Beach to Bay, but Shelly and I decided to do it anyway.

About a month before the race, our team captain dropped out, and I became the default captain. To our delight, Stephanie agreed to fill the spot as our 6th runner. Stephanie, Shelly, and I started planning a fun girls' trip down to the coast for the race. We didn't know the other 3 runners on our team; they were Bobby's friends' wives, or something like that.

The ride to the coast was super fun! We took the day off on Friday, crammed all our stuff into Shelly's car, and gossiped our way to Corpus Christi. I don't think there was even one minute of silence during the 2 1/2 hour car ride. When we arrived, we found our hotel (nice), went to get lunch (Chilis, delicious, we were starving), went to a Target to get supplies (water and bananas), got sidetracked at a James Avery (each of us bought jewelry; I bought a cute pair of tiny flower earrings, which are now my "lucky race" earrings), and attended the expo (it was tiny, but there were cute pets for adoption!). Intermittently, we talked and texted with Bobby about planning for the race the next day.

Let's just say that organization was not the name of the game this weekend. We never met the other 3 team members. We were on our way around Corpus at 9:45 p.m., scoping out the drop-off and pick-up points when Bobby called to say that they were going to dinner. We were tired and went to bed by 10:30. I hear that the rest of our team stayed up til 2:30. I think jello shots were involved.

We got up at 4:30 to get me to the shuttle for the first leg by 5:30. The race started at 7. I had the first leg, Shelly had the fourth, and Stephanie had the fifth. I got on the shuttle out to North Padre Island. It dropped us off at a beach in the dark. Groups of quiet runners walked towards the beach, and I followed. I met a few nice ladies in the line for the restroom, but otherwise, I was alone and quiet in the crowd. It was weirdly peaceful and I felt very calm.

The race started as the sun was coming up. We ran 2 miles out and 2 miles back along the water on the sand. As the race started, I aimed for an 11:00 min/mile pace, because I wasn't sure what it would be like to run on sand. But it was fine, and my pace steadily improved. To my surprise, I started passing people consistently starting around the half-mile mark. Tons of people stopped to walk, people who didn't look like they'd have to.

I felt strong running. It was hard having to look at the ground the entire time, especially with the beautiful scenery around me. But I was afraid I would trip and fall on the sand. There were holes and dead jellyfish to dodge, and even a washed-up dead stingray. Gross.

I had negative splits and finished my leg in just under 41 minutes. However, it took me 2 minutes to find my teammate (who I'd never met before) in a makeshift chute in deep sand that was full of runners looking to pass the baton. I also saw Art Avila in the chute. I don't know how he recognized me in all that chaos, but it was nice to see him, and after I finished I circled back to say hi. Then he took off running.

The rest of my morning was spent waiting. I waited in line for a shuttle (1 hour). I sat on the bus and waited to arrive back at the HEB where Shelly had parked the car (2.5 hours). Then, I waited for Shelly to arrive at HEB after her leg was finished (30 minutes?), and we waited in traffic while we went to pick Stephanie up from her leg (I have to say it was another hour).

We were exhausted when it was over, but not from running! We picked up Stephanie, decided to skip the post-race party, and headed back to San Antonio after a stop at a Subway for lunch.

I looked up the race results before I started writing this entry, and our team wasn't listed. I guess our 6th runner either didn't make it to the finish line or got disqualified. Sigh.

The race was kind of a disaster, but my run was really good. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends on the trip. Shelly and I talked all the way home in the car about our plans for the next couple of years. But that's another post.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Open Water Swim

Boerne Lake

Shelly and I joined a training group from Tri-Sition Area to swim at Boerne Lake this morning. It was the first-ever open water swim for both of us, and our only opportunity to try one before CapTex in 2 weeks (unless we want to try swimming in the Gulf of Mexico when we're in Corpus Christi for Beach to Bay next weekend, but that is not happening, sharks).

There were tons of people at the lake when we pulled up at 6:51 a.m. A Team in Training group was there, and at least 2 other groups were there. Everyone else had also brought their bikes to practice a swim-bike brick. But Shelly and I were just there to swim, and maybe to run.

We were both very nervous about swimming in open water. I heard from lots of folks about how, no matter how much you want to and know you should, you may not be able to stick your face in the water. How true that is! We swam 400 meters out to a sandbar and then 400 meters back, and in the first 400, every time I tried to put my face in the water, it bounced right back out. I guess I was afraid of not being able to breathe, not being able to see, not being able to touch the bottom, being surrounded by green water and nothing was pretty impossible to swim with my face in the water.

But on the way back, I forced myself to try again because I knew I wouldn't have another chance to do it before the race, and managed to get my face in the water for a few strokes at a time. At least I know I can do it and not drown. Maybe I'll be better at the race.

Shelly did great. She was way braver than me about putting her face in, and she was able to swim much more efficiently because she did that. We were told that wearing wetsuits would help too, but it seems like a lot of trouble and expense for a little 400 meter swim. The water was warm enough, and I think we'll be fine at the race. Each 400 meter leg took about 9:30. And hey, we just swam double the distance of the race in open water!

After the swim, we put on our running shoes and went for a run. We meant to run maybe 2 miles, but the weather was nice and we were feeling good, so we ended up running 5. The people passing us by on their bikes were really friendly and supportive. We ran along the frontage road of I-10 and got honked at by an 18-wheeler, which made us giggle. Then we walked one mile back to the car as a cooldown and more time to chat. Talk about a confidence-boosting activity. We're both feeling much more at ease about the CapTex.

But before that, we've got Beach to Bay next weekend. Woo hoo!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Windcrest Freshman Triathlon Race Report

I thought I'd like triathlons, but I didn't know I would love my first one as much as I did. The Windcrest Freshman Tri was the most fun I've had racing in a long time. I punched that race in the face...and I'm officially addicted!

Designed for beginners, the event was made up of a 200-meter snake-style swim, a 10-mile bike ride, and a 2-mile run. It was organized beautifully by the race director, who explained all the rules before we started. He talked about how it was okay to stand up in the pool as long as you didn't move forward at the same time. He explained how you can't draft off other people on the bike, and that drafting means that you're closer than 3 bike lengths behind the bike in front of you. You can't ride your bike inside the transition area. Breaking the rules would result in time penalties and then disqualification.

Snake-style swim means we got in at the left end of the pool and swam up and down each of 4 lanes, ducking under the dividers, until we got out at the right end of the pool. One swimmer started at a time. Participants were seeded according to a time we'd indicated on our entry form. Shelly and I had both put 4 minutes as our time, and I guess that's the time that most people wrote down, because I was #38 and Shelly was #70. Everyone between us also expected to complete the swim portion in 4 minutes.

The pool swim was crazy. A swimmer left every 8 seconds. The pool was churning with bodies, and people were bumping into each other as they traveled up and down the lanes. At one point, the girl in front of me stopped, so I stopped in confusion, and the man behind me swam right over me and kept going. I finished the swim in 4:53, and walked slowly to my bike, catching my breath.

Transition area.

My transition to the bike was slow; my time of 2:33 was second-to-last in my age group. I made sure my helmet was the first thing I put on, and I got into my shoes without any issues. I pulled my bike off the rack and jogged it over to the line where I could get on the bike and start riding. Then, I followed the people in front of me, hoping that I wouldn't get lost. I didn't have to worry because there were plenty of volunteers on the course to point me in the right direction. The bike portion was 2 loops. Our training rides had been at an average pace of around 10-12 mph, so I went into the race thinking that that my bike ride would last about an hour, and that the entire race would take around an hour and 15 minutes. When I was deep into the second loop, I was totally surprised to look at my Garmin and see that only 25 minutes had passed. I finished the bike ride in 37:54.

My second transition was second fastest in my age group (36 seconds - certainly made up for the first transition!) because all I had to do was take off my helmet, hang up my bike, and start running. I felt all wobbly on jello legs running out of the transition, and I saw a few people ahead of me on the road to follow. The first mile of the run was a gradual uphill. I passed a couple of people, which gave me enormous confidence. I kept looking at my Garmin, thinking, wow, I could finish this race in one hour! I had negative splits and finished the run in 17:26.

I finished the race in 1:03:27. I came in 8th out of 18 racers in my age group and 87th out of 176 participants overall. See the full set of race results here.

I hoped to do well, and surpassed my expectations. It was amazing to get out there and really see what I could do. And we just started all this about 2 months ago! I've been smiling all day. Shelly did well too, and we're both excited to do the Capital of Texas Tri in Austin in 3 weeks.

Happy at the finish.