Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report
Official Time: 5:05:50
Starting temperature: 53 degrees
Partly sunny, beautiful running weather
November 20, 2011

I have been planning to run this marathon since June.  I initially had planned to run the half but it sold out before I could sign up, so I signed up for the full.  Well, I spent the whole summer and the beginning of fall preparing for my first half Ironman race.  Full marathon training had taken a back burner.  I started having doubts about running it, and therefore did not want to advertise it to the world that I might drop out.

Since the 70.3 race, I have been L-A-Z-Y.  And when I say LAZY, that is going from 6 days of working out, some days double or triple workout sessions to barely working out 1-2 days a week.  I signed up to see a nutritionist at the Monster Gym, thinking this was the push I needed to get going again.  Only to fall flat.  My heart just was not in it anymore. I started sleeping in, every single day.  I skipped my long runs on Saturdays for 2 weeks in a row.  I ran an 11K with Charlie for our 11/11 wedding anniversary and although my legs went through the motions, I felt tired after 15 minutes. 

The Sunday before the Philly marathon, I ran a Metric Marathon (26.2K) formerly called the Houston Masters 25K.  I do this race because they give out the coolest long sleeve tech shirts.  It is 3 loops on Memorial Drive for a total of 16.5 miles.  I did not do terrible, but again, I dragged butt.  I was sore and I felt the effects of my recent lack of running. I always enjoy this well organized race and the shirt did not disappoint.  But again, I did not run the rest of the week.  And honestly, I was not motivated at all to run this Philadelphia marathon.

I was able to get on a overbooked plane with ease. it looks like my fate is sealed.  As we landed in Philadelphia, I had flashbacks of my summer vacations visiting my grandparents and I started to feel excited.  As we drove downtown and I see all the historic buildings, my heart is starting to beat a little faster.  I feel my mojo slowly coming back.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza. There are 14 of us total from Kingwood, (most of the ladies are current or former members of Kingwood Fit).  I am sharing a room with 3 other ladies.  The next day, we hit the expo.  It is a crisp 44 degrees and that is enough to get a runner's blood going.  The expo is huge and the deals are plenty.  I have to admit, I had way too much fun looking (and buying) for running gear.  Next door, there is a giant fresh market. All of a sudden, I notice the time, and I have to haul butt back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.  Not a good thing that I was on my feet so much.  My legs were already pooped before I even started the run.  Not a good sign.

Oddly for me, I am calm.  Completely. No nerves. I did not get my usual pre-race anxiety tummy.  Compared to Big Sur, where I tossed and turned all night with anticipation, this time, I acted like I did marathons in my sleep.  I had no funky emotions.  I prepared all my gear the night before, goofed around on the computer and then hit the hay.

The next morning, I got up at 5:30am, made a protein drink and headed out to the starting line.  We were supposed to meet my friend who runs at my pace at the Rocky Steps (or was it the Rocky Statue).  There were 3 freaking statues. Ugh. (And no, I did not run up the "Rocky" steps.  Looked like marathon leg suicide to me.)

We were late and Kavita was long gone.  Looks like I was running this marathon alone...sigh.  At least I remembered to charge my music player the night before.  The port-potty lines were sooo long, and as I wait for the gun to go off...I am aware I have to go.  At the first strip of port-o-potties I run to, I jump in line.  Since I was alone, I did not worry about ruining anyone's time.  I looked at my watch, and noted the time and estimated the stop took around 5 minutes.

At the 4.5 mile mark, I noticed it was the little eclectic street where we had dinner last night.  That little restaurant was the bomb.  It was called CoredeRoma on South Street.  A little family owned Italian dive on South Street.  I then spotted Suzanne, one of the ladies I met for the first time in our group.  There are about 25,000 people running and I find her.  I finally had a friend to run with.  The miles just seem to go by so much faster when you have a buddy by your side.  We walked the water stops and the steep hills.  I enjoyed her company until she started feeling a pain in her knee, she turned off at the half marathon point and I decided to keep going.

Mentally, I told myself I only had a half marathon left.  If I did this a month earlier after swimming an hour and riding 56 miles, then certainly I can do 13.1 miles back-to-back.  This last part of the course was an out and back along the Delaware river.  The trees were changing color and it was gorgeous.  Somehow, I had an extra pep in my step. I could also see the other runners as they were about to finish the full marathon.  All those athletes finishing 26.2 miles under 3 hours is so amazing to watch.  I mentally told my self it was 6.5 miles out, and then run it back.  So easy.  I distract myself by looking for runners in our group, ready to cheer them on.

It all went pretty smoothly even when I ran past mile 18-20 where supposedly some runners hit a wall.  Walking breaks were more difficult to do because it would be harder and harder to start up running again. I finally see Kavita (the one I was supposed to meet at the Rocky Steps) and she is about 7-8 minutes ahead of me.  I wanted to catch her.  I looked down at my Garmin and I am running a 9:40 pace at mile 23.  A 5K at this pace and I will finish under 5 hours. 

Yeah, until mile 24.  

Jenny, is introduced to the wall.  Ugh. My legs rebelled. They just did not want to go anymore.  The "wall" is this feeling of stopping dead in your tracks.  And it takes all of your mental energy not to let this happen.

Ever get those vivid flashbacks as clear as day?  Now when you have not seen someone in over 13 years, and you try to picture their face, are some of the details fuzzy?  I am running, and when I hit the "wall",  I can see my dad smiling at me, clear as day.

Now it could be, that Philly was close to his hometown in South New Jersey and I am surrounded by scents and sounds that remind me of him, and maybe that activated a certain spot in my brain; but nonetheless, at my weakest point of the run, I see him smiling.  As fresh as a memory as seeing someone smile that morning at the breakfast table.  I can see every detail of his face and the twinkle of his gorgeous green eyes.  I took that as a message that he is with me.  Even at my darkest mile.

 Okay, so now on top of fighting the urge to quit, now I want to start bawling hysterically as I am running.  Yeah, can you imagine you are running next to me as a complete stranger and she has a total meltdown?   

Yeah, I played that in my head on how I would explain that one.

So I am just not going there.  I fight back tears and I hear myself whimper as I focus on just taking one more step.  I secretly pray that no one hears the freakish sounds coming out of my body that sound like my dog begging for treats. Thank goodness I make it through that mile without stopping or behaving like a blubbering idiot.

Finally, I am down to my last mile and I am out of my trance.  I try to pick up my pace as hard as I can although my feet feel like lead bricks.  I see now that I am not going to make it under 5 hours anymore, but I would sure be close.  No matter what my time is, it has been a good run and huge time difference from the first one, so I am proud of my finish.  I cross the finish line in a sprint and I am so thrilled that I can even go that fast at the end.  

I pick up my medal and I look for Kavita.  I spot her getting her photo taken so I jump in and join her.  She made her time goal, and her hubby too.  We get our post-race grub and picnic within the finish chute and celebrated our PRs.  Leg cramps set in but thanks to the chicken broth the volunteers handed out, they did not last long.

Afterward, my awesome friend Christina, met me for delicious Crepes at a local French restaurant.  Best post race food ever, as the crepe tradition as a post race celebration meal continues.  As Christina and I are walking to the cafe, I spot a Starbucks and had to buy one to silently toast my friend Jessica who did my first marathon with me and could not make this trip to Philly.

Philly ended in smiles with more good times that dinner.  Although walking isn't a good feeling right now, I know the pain is temporary.  The afterglow is forever.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Austin 70.3 Half Ironman Race Report

So this was THE race I had been planning for all year.  
The 70.3 Austin Half Marathon.
Starting Temp: 63 F/Finishing Temp 90 F 
Total Time: 8:13:21 

Pre Race
Alarm went off at 4am.  The LaQuinta Airport was gracious enough to put out food at 4am.  I had a banana, toast and egg white.  I had nervous stomach so it was a challenge to eat that.

We get to to the race site.  They gave us bags for all of our gear and we were required to keep it all inside these plastic draw string bags.  So there was no laying out the gear like I am used to.  I felt nervous because we had to check in the bike the night before and I was not able to pump my tires in the morning like usual.  That was probably more of a superstition than anything else.

We were shuttled to the swim start and had to wait 2 hours until our wave time.  We laid out our towels under a tree, and shockingly, I actually fell back asleep with the wet suit as my pillow.

Swim:  Wetsuit or no wetsuit?
1:01:53 (1.2 Miles)
I am not a fan of the wet suit.  It is hot and cumbersome.  But it does allow buoyancy...and being a slow swimmer, I need all the help I can get.  So it was a wetsuit swim. We had 2 waves starting behind us, both of them, men 30-34.  We start swimming and I am swimming quite well with the pack, that is until I notice ladies stopping all around me.  I am back to the anxiety hitting me again and this makes it hard to breathe with my swim stroke.  I stop and start several times.  I hear the countdown of the wave behind me and see the men coming towards me in a triangle formation (like birds flying together in the sky).  I swim towards the nearest kayak and hold on until the massive group flies by.  After that, I finally found a groove and just went buoy to buoy until I finally made it to the end.  The water was cool and calm and I found myself enjoying the swim in this lake. 

When I jumped out of the water, I had a surprise waiting for me.  My friend Juliana was waiting for me and cheering at the top of her lungs.  I did not know anyone was planning to be there.  My demon of the triathlon is the swim so to conquer and have this behind me was already an emotional moment, so when I saw her, it took all my strength to NOT bawl my eyes out.  It was a magical, powerful moment, so if I ever get the chance to pay it forward, I am not passing up on it.  If you are a spectator, dont ever underestimate what you do for your athlete and for all the people out there you dont know.  Your presence is so powerful. I am always so grateful for ANY words of encouragement.  Thank you so much for all the well wishes and everyone who was rooting for me in spirit.

Well,considering you have to finagle out of a wetsuit, and shove it into a tiny little plastic bag, this was not gonna be a quickie for me.  In the meantime, I am still trying not to bawl like a baby after completing the swim so I am intently trying to focus on each item. 

 3:45:21 (56 miles)
So, I loved, loved, loved the bike.  I enjoyed every moment of it and it flies by for me. There are hills but there are not any I wasn't prepared to handle.  I am holding back on my speed to keep my legs fresh for the run. I have my nutrition timed out, my electrolytes paced out.  I went through 3 full tanks in my Camelbak of sports drink and ate a Hammer Gel every hour like clockwork.  I think all is well, or so I thought.

As I dismounted the bike, a volunteer asked me if I was okay.  I told him I was doing well as I hopped off the bike.  I sat down to change my socks (blister prevention).  Downed another pair of Endourolyte pills and chased it down with some more sports drink.  And off I go on the run.

3:10:21 (13.1 miles)
I am surprised how easily I am able to run....until I hit the half mile mark. 

My quads begin to lock up. 

Now, I have had charley horses in my calves before...but not like this in my quads in the beginning of a run.  I am not sure what to do.  I try walking, high knees, kick butts and stretches.  Nothing seems to help. It is now 90 degrees and it is hot.  When I try to compensate for the quad cramps, my feet cramp up or my calves.  This was so not cool.

At every rest stop I am double fisting with water and Gatorade.  I am craving salt, but all they have is sugar, cookies, coca cola and gels and all I want is pickles...or potato chips...or even chicken broth.  I am in the worst pain.  I take more Endourolyte pills which give me temporary relief and this enables me to run in short spurts but it does not last long.  I am walking most of the distance.

A man is laid out on his back on the road with the same problem.  An EMT dude is helping him stretch.  I see a lady in tears, and another EMT kinda tells her, "it sucks to be you but you can do it!" (in so many words).

I can see now I have limited options here.  Quit, or keep going.

I joked on Facebook about having to crawl, but now I am willing to do anything but quit.  I did not come this far to finish at 66 miles.  I start to hear the music of the finish line and I am determined to run it in.  My legs cramp again so I shoot my legs the finger because there is no way am I walking across the finish line.

I am not sure how I pulled it off, but I finally finish and unfortunately, it is in tears. 

Although it wasn't pretty,  at least I completed every tiny inch of it. Thank goodness I did not quit.

At least I can finally say, I completed a half IRONMAN. 

Post Analysis
Wow, did I learn alot from this 70.3 race.  Next time, I will bring a salt back-up.  After talking to my coach and reading some articles, I learned my cramping was due to sodium loss also know as HyponatremiaAnd here I thought I was doing everything correctly, even with  my Endouralytes pills. 

When you read the label of the bottle...each pill has 40mg.

A heavy sweater (that is me) can lose up to 1-2 grams of sodium per hour which is equivalent to 1000-2000 milligrams.  You will notice that most of the labels are in milligrams.

So if I was taking 2 Endouralyte pills an hour, plus the Gatorade which has 140mg a serving....that STILL does not even come close to recovering the sodium I was losing, and I do not even need to be a math major to figure that one out.  

Interesting lesson learned here.  My sweating was accelerated when I jumped off the bike with the heat.  I also refilled my Camelbak with water at the last stop, assuming that the sports drink that was left at the bottom would be enough electrolytes to carry me through.  That only diluted the sodium levels I had left in my body.

Oh well, next time, I will know how to beat those stinkin cramps.  Oh yes, there will be a next time...Galveston 70.3, do I hear you calling my name? are my top 10 favorite moments of my Austin 70.3 Half Ironman experience.

10.  The training.  Yes, I actually enjoyed the training and I am not ready to give it up yet.

9.  My body.  The changes to the body are amazing.  Especially since I have never been a swimmer.  Swimming really has really reshaped my upper torso. It is an added bonus that my clothes fit differently now.

8. Wearing the cool visor, tshirt and staring at the medal. They all remind me that I did it!!!  Even if it was painful, I still did it!

7. The sunrise over the lake.  The swim was really beautiful once I started to relax.  Bright blue skies and the Austin shoreline was so breathtaking.

6. The music as you are waiting for the gun to go off.  It is an AWESOME feeling!

5.  The music as you get closer to the finish line.  Need I say more?

4.  Crossing the finish line and hugging Charlie and Jessica. 

3.  Getting your photo taken in front of the 70.3 backdrop.  (Especially when you get to pose like the Hulk)

2.  Seeing all the amazing support from all my coach Pam, friends and family back home on my Facebook page and seeing and hearing Juliana cheer for me as I exited the swim.  Those thoughts, words and moments were just priceless.

1.  Completing the race with two of my wonderful friends, Jessica and Valerie.  To have them to confide in and share tips in all through the training and on race day was invaluable.  I am so grateful for my two rabbits.  There will never be another first with the 70.3 event and I was able to share it with them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Growing Up

When I was in college, a typical weekend of fun was staying up into the wee hours of the morning and tearing the body down by getting "wasted".  I would not remember half the stupid idiotic things I said or did and I almost always felt like crap the next day.  I spent money on clothes and make-up and tried to impress people who most likely did not remember anything as much as I did.  I ate whatever I wanted and my workouts consisted of occasionally going to the gym and doing the stair master for 20 minutes.

I pretended that partying was my idea of fun.  But if I could really be me and have fun, I would be content reading at home with a good book and favorite music.  Or I would just paint. Or play outdoors.  Hang out at coffee shops and have one of those conversations that you would actually remember afterward and made you feel as if time was suspended.  Or listen to live music while I sketched the surrounding crowd. 

But that was not cool.  Or if it was, I was too intimidated to speak up and tell my friends otherwise.

So I carried on, living this double life, pretending to like what everyone else liked.

Party on, Garth.

But deep down, I was bored with that lifestyle.

Until one day, I looked at a photograph of myself and I did not recognize myself anymore. I had gained weight.  My skin was a mess and I was having all kinds of digestion heartburn every time I ate something.  I spent all this money on make up and clothes to somehow transform myself to someone I did not even know.

So you start to explore different ideas, but it is not easy to get started.

Breaking a paradigm that has been your life for the past 30 years is not easy to do.

At the time, I was flying and was eating out quite a bit.

My veggies consisted of the tomato and lettuce on my Wendy's quarter pounder.

Switching to a desk job was one of the smartest moves I ever made because it got me off the road and not eating out as much.  It put me on a regular schedule.  It enabled me to join Kingwood Fit and make a new circle of friends.

Slowly, one step at a time, and before you know wake up and you are finally on the path you want to be.  Man, I wish I knew all this earlier in life. But if you told me back then, I probably wouldn't have believed it anyway.

It all has to happen in due time.

So to look back on the past 5 years, I have come a long way.

My Friday evening now consists of a happy hour swimming at a lake with friends at sunset.

Instead of going to bed after a wild night out, I am getting up at 5am on a Saturday to run 11 miles with my running buddies.  And having a coffee shop conversation afterward with my good friend that suspends time.

Getting dressed up for a "Girls Night Out" means getting dolled up to sit around a table at a comfy restaurant, for ONE (or maybe 2) glass(es) of wine, or water with dinner to discuss training plans, race details and funny stories.  (You don't want to get wasted because you still have to train the next day and since everyone understands this there is not a single word of pressure otherwise.)

Sundays are now set aside for bike rides through the country roads.  I am outdoors and I have never been happier.  I am where I am supposed to be.

Money is spent on road trips, race fees or workout clothing.

T-shirts (bonus if they are cute race shirts) and running shorts now make up my favorite wardrobe. 

My skin is back to normal.  My body is in better shape than it was 10 years ago. 

So does this mean I am finally content and have reached ultimate perfection?

Bwah hah ha ha ha ha!!  Never.

We are always evolving growing beings.  It will never end.

There are still so many things I have to learn and goals I want to reach. Still working on my diet, financial goals and I am curious about the minimalist lifestyle.  And I am sure once I figure out those, new goals will take their place.

There is something said about growing definitely grow wiser.  And you start to learn where you REALLY want to spend your time.

How you want to build your body up and not down and surround yourself with people who are on that same page as you.

It can truly make all the difference on the quality of your life.

Bottom line...I just don't want this amazing ride to end and I am looking forward to where I get to go next.   Does it really get better than this?!? 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Minor Setback

So I went to Boeing last week in Everett, Washington (just outside of Seattle).  Had the most amazing business trip ever with a tour of the Boeing factory, ate lots of delicious food every day, enjoyed the cool temperatures and green wilderness with snow capped mountains.  Sigh.

Tried to run up there, but after being offered a ride from a drunk dude coming out of the casino next door to the hotel, I was no longer comfortable with my surroundings.  I tried to run, but I had a hard time relaxing and I was paranoid about every stranger (a.k.a random creepy dudes) around me.  My run was more of a run/walk and then I used the resistance band inside my hotel room. 

A mediocre workout at best.

This was last Wednesday.

I returned to Houston early Friday morning, ready to turn it up again after work when Hurricane Irene derailed my plans. 

Wait, didn't you say you were in Houston?  Yeah, but when working for the airline business, any hurricane impacting a major airport that we run out of, effects every employee.  It was a night of working late, with all hands on deck.

Saturday...blah day.  Overslept my alarm and napped on and off all day.  I blamed it on the time change. 

Sunday, I will start the day as a superstar.

My body had other plans for me.  Migraine knocked at my door accompanied by his best friend Vomiting.  Pestered me all day. Not the day I had in mind.

So you would think, I would be ready to throw my hands up and surrender, right?

Not when you have the most amazing tri coach to help you put things in perspective.  In her eyes, this is minor in the whole scheme of things.  She thinks I will come back bigger and better with all the rest I am getting.  With a whole year of working hard towards a goal...what is one week?

I am going to listen to her, and listen to my body.  After all, isn't this all just a mental game?

Of course it is.

You have not defeated me yet, Mr. Half Ironman.

Oh no, if I am going down, I am going down swinging!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2011 Bridgeland Race Report

A year ago, this was my first sprint triathlon with an open water swim. I finally have a chance to see how much my times have improved over a year.

I was pretty exhausted already after throwing a baby shower for my sister-in-law the day before.  But somewhere I found a second wind to pull this off. I had laid out all my clothes and equipment the night before so I was pretty confident that I had everything.  Transition set-up went quite smoothly that morning.

This 2011 race will always be an extra special one for me since Charlie signed up for his first triathlon.  The course is in the Bridgeland development which is on 290 and Fry road.  So cool to finally get to do a race together.  And our friend is her first too.  We have to leave our house at 4:30am.  We all pile into Jessica's SUV where her awesome husband drove us all down and stayed to root us on.

There is quite an increase in the number of people from last year.  But as expected, the OnUrMark racing productions is extremely well organized and the extra people were well accommodated.

It is a beautiful cloudless morning and I have an hour before my wave starts after transition closes.   Charlie is the first age group wave after the professionals and I feel nervous for him.  As I watch him take off and I see he is okay, my nerves get the best of me and I decide to hit the port-o-potties. Whoops...line is crazy long and I decide I do not have to go that bad.  I sit on the shore and wait.  I chat with 22 year old swimmer next to me who is in shock that I am 35.  I think she  made my head triple in size but least it took my mind off being nervous! 

Swim: 500 M
Well, my goal is to swim freestyle the entire time with little to no stopping. Well, I managed to swim about 90 percent of it freestyle.  I found a groove and decided to take Coach Pam's advice and sing a song.  The first song to come to mind was Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice, Baby" because I truly know all the words without music.  I am cruising right along and sighting along the coast and I think I am doing quite well until I pause for a moment to look up and discover I am way outside the buoy. I am quite a bit off course. Yikes!!  I had to take a hard left another 25 yards to position myself on the inside of the buoy.  I am feeling a little frantic inside because I do not want a DQ penalty for being off course. There went my groove...from that point on I was back to bobbing my head up and down every few strokes to see where I was at. Not what I envisioned at all.  I must master the alligator technique to sight in front of me and not just to the side.

Note to self: Must add extra open water practices to my 70.3 race training.

2010: 17:01
2011: 16:27 (not as improved as I was hoping to see, but I will take it)

Because of my blister issue, I decided to bring 2 different pairs of socks.  I knew this would affect my transition times but thought it would be worth it to have dry feeties (yes, I invented that word).  I am still trying to master the art of gracefully drying off and putting on socks over my soggy feet ALL this while I heavily pant from recovering from the swim.

2010: 3:24
2011: 2:54

Bike: 13.5 MILES
Did I mention I love my Felt bike??  I feel like a rocket on it.  The only ladies that passed me had the Lamborghini type bikes and I was okay with that.  The course was flat and fast and I really enjoyed it.  I even pulled back a little at the end to save my legs for the run.

2010: 51:49 (16.2 mph-14 miles)
2011: 41:00 (19.8 mph)

This is where I took a hit putting on my dry socks.  Oh but it was so worth it not to run with "squish, squish" sounds in my feet.

2010: 2:35
2011: 2:10 (estimated from my Garmin since timing company lost the official T2 time)

Run: 3.65 MILES
Okay, so here is where I discovered my epic fail.  I did not drink enough while on the bike.  So as I start running...I am obsessed with all things water.  The water stations can not come up fast enough and all I want to do is drink.  The first mile is on unshaded sidewalk and the sun gave me a beating.  I did a combination of run/walking until I hit the shaded trails. Halfway thru the trails, we hit the oasis of iced sponges.  Then I think my Hammer Gel kicked in and my legs sprang to life. But by that time, the damage had been done and I could not recover my overall time on the run with the last mile and a half.   Hard lesson learned.

2010: 46:00 (13:06 pace/3.5 miles)
201l:  41:55 (11:29 pace--Again, since the official race results combined the run with T2 time...I am going by my Garmin)

I really enjoy this race every year.  The swag is so choice.  I like when the tech shirts are actually fitted to the body.  Everyone gets nice finisher medals and a water bottle.  The race director really knows how to treat the triathletes. The after party had a live band and a mini expo.  Pizza and My Fit Foods were available after the race.

2010: 2:01:16 (Age group 43 out of 44)
2011: 1:44:27 (Age group 48 out of 74)

Charlie survived but said that this triathlon will probably be his one and only.  Just not his cup of tea...

He told me that he has a new respect for me now on how tough they can be.  Last year he did not understand why I would even think of walking during the run portion.

Now he completely understands the method to my madness.

Well, maybe a small part of my madness.

Sigh.  Okay...maybe just a tiny glimpse of my madness.

But even just knowing that still makes me grin from ear-to-ear!

Totally worth it to me to have him there with me....even if it is only once.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Midterm Progress Report: 70.3 Training

I am about halfway through my half marathon training.  I am feeling pretty good.  I had a couple of setbacks with my blister infection and migraine issues but I don't think it put me behind as much as I thought it did. 

I feel this need to stand back and reassess.

Swimming:  C+
I think I had a break through last Saturday.  After a 10 mile run, I had to swim 1200 meters without stopping.  And what do you know, I did it!  It went better than I thought.  Except for goggle adjusting, I did not stop to catch my breath.  I am finally swimming without feeling like suffocating.  Now if only I can replicate this in open water.  My goal for the 2nd half of training is to get my butt out to 288 Lake more often!  At least I have a couple of triathlons to get me started in the month of August.

Biking: B
I am feeling really good about the bike.  I feel ahead of the game with my training.  I rode 55 miles at the Katy Flatlands and my legs were strong.  I definitely need to get more hill work in there.  And keep pushing the distance.  Biking has become my strongest leg.  I am having to give up my sleep-in Sunday mornings to get my long rides in...and that is probably the most challenging part of the training. My inner child is throwing a fit.

Running: B-
Kingwood Fit has started up again.  It definitely helps to have my buds at my side.  I don't know how I would be getting through these runs without them.  I felt a huge challenge in my last 10 mile run but I blamed it on the fact I took a week and a half off to let me foot heal.  I need to start pushing the pace to the next level.  Step out of my comfort zone.  I also need to find some hills to tackle. 

Strength Training:  F
I am skipping many of my strength training workouts.  I feel so guilty about this.  I need to dig deep for the motivation.  I signed up for boot camp mid July and that went well.  But I have not done a push-up or a plank since and that was 3 weeks ago.  I have no excuse for my slacking.  None.

Diet: D
I am not happy with my diet habits.  I have only dropped 3 pounds since I started training.  All the added time of working out is making my appetite go through the roof.  I am always hungry!!  I wanted to go through a week of juicing.  Failed.  I wanted to go a week without sweets and sugar.  Failed that too.  I still tend to overeat at meals and feel like this is where my lack of discipline is rearing its ugly head.  I need to go back to planning mode and focus on eating healthier meals. That said...I need to stop eating out so much.  Ugh.

Overall: C
I see my body toning up and it feels pretty good. I am not where I wanted to be by this point, but I am not in a bad place either.  I can see how there is so much room for improvement.  The good news is, I still have time to do it.  I still would like to be 10 pounds lighter for my racing weight, but to do that...I really need to focus on the diet aspect of training.  The workouts are getting longer and tougher and I know it is only going to get harder.  I need to flip the switch and turn it up a level.  If this is only the training for a Half Ironman, I can not even imagine doubling this for a full Ironman. 

I bow to you, all those Ironmen out there.  I am in awe of you. 

There is a mental side of training that I was not expecting.  The part that wants to freak out and say, "What the H, double hockey sticks, are you doing???"  Why are you getting up at 4:20am to run 10 miles on a Saturday and swim 1200 meters afterward; only to get up the following Sunday and do a 3 hour bike ride with hills followed by another 20 minute run?  Yeah.

It is pure torture to look back each morning and see Charlie all cozy in bed with Gizmo curled up next to him. And each day you try not to collapse back into bed. It is almost like your mind is doing mental pushups every day.

Every day, there is the challenge to complete each workout without cheating, without skipping, without modification.  Each workout turns into its own mini victory. Somehow, you just keep workout at a time. 

And each day, I say a little prayer that somehow if I just keep trucking, I will be ready when I get there.  Here goes part 2 of the training plan.  Have MERCY!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reflections of a Book Worm

I am a bona fide book worm.

As a kid, I would spend hours in the library and take home as many books as my arms could carry.  I read anything by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Ronald Dahl, and yes, even the Babysitter Club series. I love the smell of books and the stillness of the library.  Big comfy chairs that ate you up as you let yourself get lost in a book.   I fondly remember strolling the shelves looking for another treasure yet to be found. Bookstores were my favorite layover past time. And used book sales?  I am like a kid in a candy store.

I received an email last night informing me Borders is going out of business.

I feel like I did the day Jim Henson died.

Is this the end of bookstores?  Is this beginning of the end of the printed book?  Is Barnes and Noble next?

I know I am the first to embrace technology and I love my Kindle.  It is nice to have hundreds of books at your fingertips without walking like a hunch back.  It nice to have open wall spaces with less clutter.  And I like saving trees.

I had a hard time letting go of film photography too, as I came into the field just as digital photography was skyrocketing. It just took me time to get used to the idea, as I am sure that I too, will adjust to the electronic book era.

Oh, but how I will miss the simple beauty of a book.

There is something magical about opening an older book.  The yellowed pages with the unique fonts. The smell and feel of the pages. The gentle sound of turning pages. The mark of a coffee stain, a tear or a raindrop. It is the cornucopia to the senses and it is something technology will never capture.
The bookstore will soon become a memory of the past. The inviting lighting.  The smell of coffee.  The rays of sunshine coming through the window.  The mutual respect of silence.  My haven of happiness.

Sometimes it is not the actual medium I want to hold on to but the feeling it evokes or represents.


Cheers to you, beautiful, cozy Borders bookstores.  You will be missed dearly by this book worm.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watching Water Boil

When it is time to get new running shoes, don't mess around. 

I usually buy running shoes when my body starts having little aches and pains after a run.  When you are in tune with your body, you will get messages. This time around the message came in blisters.  So I went to my favorite little running store a week ago and they were closed. 

So what is one more week?  Right?

I ran 7 miles Saturday morning and I was punished with 3 inch size blisters on my arches of both feet.  But really, when you are a you really whine about blisters?  You suck it up.  I ran on them so long that they eventually busted while running.  Again, really, this is not a big deal.  They are kind of like battle wounds.  I poked at the flabby skin and showed them off to anyone who did not have a weak stomach.

After the run, we headed out to Cold Springs for a bike ride and a picnic.  The hills are something I want to come back to, but not the day before a 55 mile bike ride.  I only rode for 30 minutes before my legs started protesting quite loudly. I listened.

Then we went out to the lake to practice open water swimming.  This is where I think I picked up some unwelcome guests in my busted blister. Thank goodness it was not the flesh eating bacteria kind. One thing I learned from this ordeal is that flesh eating bacteria only thrive in salt water.  (Yeah...I imagined the worst.)

The Katy Flatland ride was my first bike ride last year. Last year I rode the 26 mile route and this year I picked the 55 mile route.  It went well.  I rode alone but met some pretty cool people along the way. I have come a LONG way.  Last year, I rode my red 10 year old Walmart bike.  It was exhausting.  I did not have cycling shoes.  I did not know all the bike rules of the road.   I finished and did not know a single soul.  I left with a yearning to do more..and wishing I knew more people who like to ride. 

Quite a different story this year.    This time I had rider friends to eat with at the end.  One of my favorite parts of cycling is the hypnotic feeling you get when you ride with a group and focus on staying up with them.  I would haul butt and then draft behind anyone who would let me.  Less than a mile to the finish, I saw a truck pull out and almost take out a rider.  That was scary.  Luckily, no one was hurt.  It was another pleasant ride.  Something tells me, I will be doing it again next year too.

So it wasn't until Sunday night when the pain began.  I thought I had a supernatural immune system and I would beat it.  Charlie finally dragged me to the clinic yesterday evening and sure enough, an infection had started in my left foot.  3 days after an amazing bike ride and now I cannot walk. 

Talk about appreciating your feet and walking again.  I am struggling with not being able to keep up with my workouts and it is taking a toll on me mentally. Each day has felt like an eternity.  Hopefully I will be up and running by the weekend.  (No pun intended, of course.)  I want my body to heal faster!

It is as painful as watching water boil...sigh.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

St. Thomas in a Bottle

We finally arrived on Wednesday at lunch time.  The airport is outdoors and the sun is intense.  Our friends, Jessica and Keith, picked us up and we were on our way.  The condo overlooked the bay and was absolutely gorgeous.   
After we changed out of our airport clothes, we jumped in the car to sight see.  St. Thomas is a rollercoaster ride with breath taking views of the Caribbean and lush green forests.  The drive was a little nerve wracking as everyone drives on the left hand side of the road, so this is opposite of what we are used to in the mainland.  Which is not that nerve-racking, really, until one adds blind curves and vertical hills. Need I say more?

Our first stop is called Coki Point and here is where we visit Coral World, a zoo of marine life.  Here is where we rubbed the bellies of Starfish, fed beautiful birds nectar from our hands, watched playing sea urtles and gazed at multi colored fish in an aquarium.
Beautiful birds (forgot their name...Loo Keet-Keets maybe?)

Charlie at Coral World
Yours Truly at Coral World
Next we went to one of the top 10 beaches in the world (#7) called Megan’s Bay.  It certainly lived up to its reputation.   First thing I noticed was a certain silence about the beach.  No air-conditioner humming, traffic or white noise, so it truly felt peaceful.  There were no big waves, so the water was still and a stunning turquoise  blue.  You waded into the water into a soft sandy bottom with no rocks and or debris.  You can even see your toes in neck deep water.  You are protected by mountains and lush tropical forest.  It felt like all the weight of the world fluttered away in an instant.  I was completely content.
Okay, so I mooched this photo from net till I get the actual photos from the other cameras.
I took a day off of working out, unless you can call my attempt at swimming in the ocean a workout.  Oh wait…the elevator was broken at the condo when we arrived.  So we had a climb six flights of stairs, so this means I earned some bonus points. 

On Thursday, to celebrate Keith’s 40th birthday, we all climbed aboard a beautiful yacht and went island hopping for the day. Captain Scottie and our beautiful stew named Catherine took such wonderful care of us.  They started us out snorkeling and for the first time in my life, I was completely relaxed in the water.  All my life, I have been a weak swimmer so even snorkeling has always secretly freaked me out. I used to spend the first 10 minutes hyperventilating until I could finally relax and enjoy the nature.  Not this time, I jumped in the water and was at peace.  I really felt like I absorbed the sea world around me and saw wildlife I had never seen before. It was amazing.

I still don’t like touching stuff though…so I tried to avoid the shallow end.  When I was climbing out of the boat I had a stare down with a 3 foot Barracuda that was hanging out under the boat.  Even though it was creepy, there was no reason to worry since he did not even move an inch toward any of us. 
Our next stop was an island called Tortolla, for shopping and lunch.  This was one of the British Islands.  We ate outside on the dock at a restaurant called Pussers.  I had a homemade veggie pizza.  It was DELISH! 
Almost The Whole Gang in Tortolla (Keith is taking photo)
 Up to this point, we had overcast weather with 70 percent chance of rain, so thankfully the sun was not an intense.  After lunch, the sun slowly plays peek-a-boo behind the clouds.

Just in time for our beach stop.  Sadly, the name of the island was too long for me to remember, but this island is famous for its popular beach bar which serves the famous Vanilla Painkiller, and it truly was the best alcoholic drink I have ever tasted. 

We lounged in the sun, and floated in the water.  I had another feeble attempt at practicing my open water swimming but the surrounding boats kept freaking me out so that was short lived.  I kept imagining I would bonk my head into a propeller.  It was very distracting.

I also was reunited with my old friend Hammock.  We bonded under the coconut trees.  We had a lot of catching up to do.  I miss him already.

Sometimes when you are on vacation, you feel time going by so fast that you want to be sure to stop and drink in every moment.   

Try to freeze time so to speak.   

I sit there and watch and try to use my powers that be to capture the moment in a bottle.  I see laughter as two sons bury their mom in the sand.  My husband is snorkeling around the bay in his own world.  Keith and Jessica’s parents are sitting on the beach half immersed in water with permanent smiles on their faces as they tease each other and joke around while holding their cocktails.  And Keith, probably the friendliest guy I know, is chatting it up with Captain Scottie while the other Yacht Captains eyeball the babes at the bar in sexy bikinis. 

...But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.  
<my favorite quote from the movie American Beauty>

As we head back to St. Thomas again, we were all filled with glee.  In fact, it was the fastest 8 hour day of my life.  And to think, Captain Scottie and Catherine create happy memories like this for a living.  Wow.  What a job!  What a life! 

Now it was time for Keith’s birthday dinner.  Jessica, who has this amazing ability to make a person feel like the most special person on earth, put together a top 40 list of things that remind family and friends of Keith.  I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.  Nothing could touch such a perfect moment, not even the wailing Karaoke in the background, as Keith recited each item out loud pausing for the group to reminisce and laugh over each one.  The Karaoke DJ sang happy birthday and we topped it off with a delicious lemon cake.  It was truly a beautiful ending to a fabulous day.

Cheers to the Fabulous Birthday Boy: Keith
Friday was a recovery day.  We rested, swam and played at the beach at our condo in Marriott Frenchman's Cove.  Later we took a ride up to Paradise Point for dinner which usually has a ski lift to take you to the top of a mountain.  Unfortunately it was under construction so we had to make the long scary hike via rental car.  Once at the top, the view was amazing.  We enjoyed dinner and a fire show by a local entertainer dressed as a pirate.   
Fire Dude
 He ate fire and did an amazing dance routine with fire sticks.  There was only about 10 of us up there but you can tell he gave it all he had especially for the kiddos.  Another moment I just wanted to capture and save in a bottle to bring a smile when times are tough.
The view of the island was breathtaking after sunset.

Saturday morning I woke up early.  I could not leave here without capitalizing on conquering the open water swim.  Here I had the perfect opportunity, a quiet bay, protected waters and floating buoys to practice my sighting.   

First I go down and just stare back and forth…first at the pool and then at the ocean.  I want to do the pool swim so badly.  It is in my comfort zone.   
But it is now or never so I slowly make my way down to a beach chair and proceed to watch the people already in the water like a hawk.  I want them to get out.  I don’t want them to see me flail when I have my little panic attacks.   

One by one they drop out of the water like flies.   

Finally my moment arrives and the water is mine.  I slowly wade into the water.  There is a trampoline and giant floating mountain.  I decide to use these as my targets instead of the buoys so I could stay near shore.  Since there is a slim possibility I may get a cramp and drown since no one will hear me from shore.   

Yes, I actually have these weird thoughts.   

So my goal is to do 5 laps.  First one, I start out relaxed and feel pretty good until I round the corner around the floating mountain and I see seaweed. Suddenly I freak out, and have to stop to catch my breath.  Why?  It is only seaweed, more like sea grass. 
You know how powerful the imagination is?  When I was a kid, I was afraid of sleeping with the closet door open (damn Poltergeist!).  So if I ever forgot to close it and I was already comfy in bed, I would try to forget and ignore the fact the door was open.  But after a few minutes every sound and shadow would freak me out so much that I would leap out of bed and slam the door shut and fly back into bed. 
So I see the sea grass and think of creepy deep sea creatures and even worse, sharks.  This causes me to breathe heavily and have to stop and catch my breath.  I have lost all logic now.  I was all at peace 2 days before when snorkeling in the deep sea.  What is so different about this moment?  

I try to calm myself down and I continue on to complete the first lap.  I get back to my home base in the shallow waters and stare back at the floating mountain who is now taunting me.
See the trampoline?  Now see the floating mountain? Can you see the evil seagrass in the water? 
I have come to the realization that my freestyle swimming skills are just fine.  I am kicking butt.  It is the mental monster in my head that I have to deal with.  And so I do, each lap at a time.  And although I want to quit at 3 laps, I force myself to do 2 more, and eventually do them without stopping every time I see the ugly seagrass.  

It is now one little victory at a time but at least I know now what I am truly up against. It’s my mind. 
I finally picked out a swimming song.  It came to me today while swimming.  It has the lyrics,  “Let’s see how far we have come” except I have changed the words to “Let’s see how far you’ve come”.  Yes, I am referring to myself in the third person.  (*goofy grin*)

After my swim, it is time to pack up for the return home.  The trip could not have happened without the kindness and generosity of the Baxter family.  We will forever be grateful for including us on such a special celebration 

Unfortunately, traveling for free has its downside. We were denied our flight home due to an unexpected  weight restriction.  So here we are flying to Charlotte, to hopefully get home tomorrow.  Luckily, I have an absolutely amazing husband who rarely stresses when traveling.  So we are both able to take it in stride and make the best of every adventure.  We made friends with a pilot and his wife who were on the same flight as us.  We pooled our resources together to help us find alternate routing. 
Note about the Immigration and Customs at the St. Thomas airport.  Make sure you allow enough time.  It is a long process and Charlie and I were so grateful we did not check our bags.  Because of our carry-on only status we got to go down a hallway with our own private security with no line.  That saved us at least another half hour of standing in line.  The reason I have to mention this is because it was here where we met the neatest TSA guy ever!  He called Charlie and I by name and made us feel so comfortable despite the stressful security process.  I have traveled quite a bit and rarely receive this kind of treatment.  And bonus points  that he remembered us the second time we went through. 
We were super lucky to meet Senida, the gate agent that helped us find our way home.  She also went above and beyond her job to explore all flight alternatives.  It is the kindness of strangers than can truly make or break your trip.  St.Thomas truly has some gems working at their airport. 

All right, enough of my mushiness.  Sunday is recovery and Monday is back to business again.  I am so grateful for the break.   Whenever times get stressful again, and they will with no doubt, I will just have to pull out my memory bottles from St. Thomas.   

Happy times.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Promise Yourself You'll Never Give Up

Think about it! How long should a baby try to learn how to walk? How long would you give the average baby before you say, “That’s it, you’ve had your chance”? You say that’s crazy? Of course it is. Any mother would say, “My baby is going to keep trying until he learns how to walk!” No wonder everyone walks.

There is a vital lesson in this. Ask yourself, “How long am I going to work to make my dreams come true?” I suggest you answer, “As long as it takes.” --Jim Rohn

Tonight, I was listening to a seminar called "The Challenge to Succeed" by Jim Rohn on my MP3 player while running. If you didn't know this about me, I am a motivational speaker junkie. I figure if I am going to saturate my subconscious with what I listen to, it might as well be words that will change my life for the better and I need all the positive motivation I can get, especially with a Half Iron man in 133 days (in 4 months, 13 days).

I daydream all the time of being a motivational speaker. I love telling stories. I really like those kind of stories that you really have to flail your arms and illustrate points with body language. I was going to Toastmasters once a week until I got the triathlon bug. I still plan to go back one day. I want to be one of those grannies one day that is known for her great stories. One day I tell ya...I have not given up on that yet.

So I am on vacation this week, trying to get to St.Thomas. Flights are full all across the board so that plan is delayed just one more day. In the meantime, training is going well. I am back to working out 5-6 days a week. I have had 2 back-to-back solid runs. When I have days like these, it makes me wonder how much improvement would I see if I ran every day. Would I get faster? Would it feel easier? Part of me wants to try it for my next race (August 7, Bridgeland Triathlon). Right now, I currently run 3-4 days with a long run as one of those days. I could increase that to 5-6 runs a week.

Would this put me at rock star status? Hmmmmm?

Here is another Jim Rohn gem I have collected on this trip:

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment."

Oh, how true this is for me. I wanted to get up early and swim/run Monday morning before heading to the airport. I did not do it. All day long, I worried about how I was going to fit in my workout. I beat myself up all day until I finally squeezed a run in at 7:30pm that night. Each way I choose to go, it will hurt. Either I deal with the struggle of being sleepy, or I deal with the pain of my mental beating when I am wide awake. So I should be picking the option that will get me closer to my goal instead of the self defeating option.

Doesn't that sound like a no brainer? Sigh.

Unfortunately, as soon as the word vacation comes into play...all healthy eating habits go out the window. Pizza, ice cream, lasagna, hot dogs, cupcakes and soda have all come to party in my stomach the past few days. So although I am working out like crazy, I am not doing much to curb the appetite. Again, that quote above comes into play.

This needs to be my new mantra.

It will start when I get back from vacation, of course.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bike Assement Round 1

We met out in Huffman tonight for my timed bike assessment. 

I had never rode out there before.  Last summer, I went to a girls night out with the ladies from the Kingwood Triathlon club and they all had stories to share about how when they bike in the country, there are dogs that come out and chase them.  One of the ladies took a pretty bad fall due to one of them.  Granted, the dog only licked her face after he knocked her down, but it was still enough to scare me from going out there.

So again, I was secretly hoping the event would cancel and as usual it was only wishful thinking.

I can be such a scaredy cat sometimes.

Of course, once I got going, I really enjoyed myself.  (Shaking head.)

Thankfully, there were no dogs on this stretch of road that we chose.  And I was able to hammer on the open road.  I only had the wind against me, and even that wasn't too bad, until I took the right turn into the wind tunnel.  I burned my legs and lungs to the max.  I wanted to know that I gave it all I got.  So when I take the test again in 3 weeks, I can see how much I really improved.  The course was 8 miles.  The route was 2 miles going East, then you turn South and go 2 miles and then you return going the other way.

2 Miles East: 18 mph/7:15
2 Miles South 14mph/7:45
2 Miles North 21mph/7:00
2 Miles West 18 mph/7:15
Total:  17.5mph/29:15

I took off yesterday after the triathlon.  Tomorrow I start the strength training.

Week one assessments with the swim, bike and run are over.

It is time to take off the gloves and get dirty!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tejas Triathlon Race Report

Triathlon Post Race Report
*questionnaire format sent to me by my coach
Race Name:
Tejas Triathlon (Sprint)
June 5, 2011
All week we have had record breaking temps surpassing 100 but the morning started out in the high 70's and progressively grew warmer. No rain this morning.
Time Start: 
Course description:   
In a subdivision of Sugarland, Texas called New Territory.  Pecan Park.                                            
Start type:
Personal Information:
Age group:    
35-39 Year Old                                         
What did you wear?     
Tri Tank/Tri Shorts                                       
Would you wear it again?
Oh yeah.  Super comfortable. 
What would you change about your gear?
Nothing.  Except fix a malfunctioning shoe lace.
What was your pre-race routine?
I try to have everything prepared the night before.  So all I have to do is get up and get dressed.  A friend texted me with an unexpected situation and this threw me off schedule.  My coffee maker did not brew so I skipped the coffee. Then the dog decided he had to friggin' poop before I walked out the door. And since it was 4am, it was a slow motion groggy search for the perfect place for him to take his dump.  I wanted to scream.  In the end, I had to eat a quick protein bar for breakfast instead of the oatmeal I had planned.
Event warm up:
A few arm stretches
What did you eat and drink before your race?
Water and  NUGO Dark Chocolate Protein Bar.  2 Endourolytes
 Swim- describe your swim: 
The swim was in a man-made lake and it was out and back.  I tend to start near the back of the pack to avoid all the feet and elbows to the face.  We were the last wave to start and I could not keep up with the pack.  I started my freestyle and I felt pretty calm and happy, but then my goggles started leaking and I kept having to stop to fix them. Everytime I stopped, I would get further away from the group.  So I started speeding up to catch up.  Then my breathing became heavy.  So I started to breaststroke. Everytime I tried to go back to the freestyle, my plastic eyeballs would fill up with water.  My group pulled farther away and this is when I had a come-to-Jesus moment with myself.  
What am I doing here?  Why am I doing this?  Just when I think I am getting better, here I am last again.  Last out of the water.  And I want to do a Half Ironman?  Shouldn't you at least master a SPRINT TRIATHLON first before you tackle an Half Ironman? 
Seriously, what are you thinking?  
I must be crazy.  Yes, insane.  I wish they gave refunds for those who are not mentally sane. 
Why, oh why, did I sign up again?  It sure looked good on paper.  
That's it.  I am done.  I'm retiring from triathlons forever.
But I blogged to the whole world about it and I hired a coach.
Think they will notice if I just hide and pretend like this Half Ironman idea never happened.   
Sigh. (Shaking head)
Oh Lord, help me.                                                              
What was your swim distance and time:
600 yards; 16:34; placed 23 of 23
 What would you do the same /differently?
Buy new goggles.  Swim more.  Much more.  Work on my drills.
T1: comments: 
Uneventful.  Grass covered feet was icky.  Not fun to put sock and shoes on. 
What was your T1 time?
What would you do the same or different?
I'm slow.  Need to practice more. I would like to knock my T1 time to under 2 minutes.
Bike:- describe your bike ride:
Bike was 2 loops.  This is typically my strongest event.  Except the second loop was poorly marked and I missed the turnoff and was headed toward the finish.  
Yikes!  I had to U-turn.  
Thankfully I did not kill any one in the process.  
Took a little wind out of my sail as I was making up some time out of being in last place.  
What would you do the same/ different? 
I would study the bike map ahead of time instead of relying on volunteers.  After all, it is my responsibility.  I do not want to sound like I am coming down too hard on the volunteers, as they were only trying to help.  And I am just grateful they are willing to wake up early on a Sunday morning just to make the event happen.                                  
What was your bike distance and time?
37:50.1/11 miles/17.4 mph/placed 14 out of 23
 T2 comments:
Went pretty smoothly.  Garmin was already on, race number did not tear off.  I ate a Hammer Gel on my way out.
What would you do the same/ different?   
Keeping my running gear simple is working.  No changes needed to my T2.                        
What was your T2 time?
1:11.1 ( cool numbers!)
Run comments: describe your run-                                                                 
The run was my favorite.  It was in a neighborhood shaded with Pecan tress around mini man-made lakes.  I felt good although it was starting to get quite warm.  I sped up slowly and I finished strong.  I was happy with my 9:53 pace.  I was able to run the entire time except for mini walks the water stations. This was a breakthrough for me since I have taken more walk breaks in the past.
What was the run distance, time?
3 miles/29:53:5/placed 20 out of 23
(Can you tell I was in a competitive group?  Only 3 runners after me had greater than a 10 minute pace-sheesh!)
What would you do different?
Eliminate walk breaks, period.  Not even through water stations.  Every second counts!
Do you think you had any limiters today? (Things that prevented you from doing your best?)
Leaking googles and taking the wrong turn.  Yes, definitely my limiters.
Do you think there was anything that made your day superior?
Supportive friends at the start and finish line.  Loved that!!!
Are you remembering to celebrate YOUR success?! 
Total time: 1:28:06.9
I have recovered from my swimming meltdown.  After analyzing my times, I have come to peace with my slow swim.  Yes, I was a little over dramatic with being the last one out of the water. I need to look at the big picture.  I did not come in last place overall.  I placed 326 out of 389.  It was just a mental obstacle for me to overcome being the last one out of the water due to our age group starting last.  This happens.  Someone has to be last.  I need to build a bridge and get over it. 
No, I am not hiding and I am not quitting on my Half Ironman race.  
Instead, I will focus working on my weak areas.  There is still plenty of time to improve as long as I stick to my training program.  After all, I have to remind myself that this is an initial assessment.
These initial tests have to be taken, but they don't have to be pretty.  It is all part of my "You are here and want to go there" master plan. 
The moment will only be sweeter when I see how far I have come, right?  
Agreed. Pushing on.