IMTX 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Let me begin by saying that I have started this post about 13 times so far. I don't know why it has been so challenging for me to write (and after re-reading it, its still all kinds of random). I guess its similar to why I've found it hard to answer the "how was it?!" questions.

The truth is, is that I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to adequately describe May 17th. No combination of words, strung together in sentences, seem to fully express the joy, determination, the wandering thoughts, the dreaming, and the mental preparation for those lowest of low moments I was warned about (which honestly never came!). And I never seem to have enough time to share all of the silly little moments though out the day that no-one else witnessed or share those moment by moment details that you worry one day you will forget.

But I'm going to try. I'm going to attempt to share my story of IMTX 2014 because it really was an amazing experience. It was probably more life changing than I even realize right now. But as I've told those above mentioned friends who have asked the question of "How was it?" It was a REALLY good day.

I'll post about the three legs of the day, but before that, I want to give a little overview.

Overview of past year:
If I didn't have this annoying little strand of pride left, I would post a 100% embarrassing video from the day I signed up for IMTX last June. I had just discovered how to use the web cam (I still don't really know how to work it - I gave up after a while) and well...I now have a 3 minute video of me freaking out about signing up and sharing why I had signed up for IMTX. I hadn't told anyone at this time and kept it a secret for a solid three weeks. This past year hasn't been the easiest of years, and I wanted to prove to myself, in the middle of everything, that I was stronger than I thought I was and capable of more than I truly believed.

I found myself an amazing coach who I cannot rave about enough. She was so perfect for someone who trains like I do. More does not always mean faster/better for me. I get hurt and overwhelmed. Lisa worked around an ITB injury that began in December and never fully went away throughout the training process. She had me focus on the bike and work in running however I could, whether it was pool jogging or the elliptical. Best of all, she had me believing I could do this without hurting my body during training and had me believing I was going to have fun out there throughout the day. Again, I can't thank her enough for getting me to May 17th.

Training was a whole other beast. Ironman training is funny. You are suddenly around people that are doing crazy training. CRAZY. Suddenly, you feel like the tons of training you are doing isn't enough. During the week, I RARELY did 2-a-days, while others were getting 3-a-days in on a weekly basis. My weekends were pretty strong though. Strong and long. And to be completely honest, there were some tough weekends as well. A month out from IMTX, I rode 60 with my roommate and nearly passed out after. I felt like death and entered the week feeling like maybe I wasn't ready for May 17th. The emotional part of training was the most challenging for me. I was tired and stressed and mood swings were not always my friend. If I wasn't fearful of my pregnant friends strangling me, I'd say that it appears as if Ironman training and pregnancy have some common threads. You're hungry all of the time, you're tired, you're sore in weird places constantly, you have mood swings and don't feel like anyone else knows how you are feeling, and you spend nearly a year preparing for a single day. One day that you count down every day for over than 6 months. I have a medal to show for my feat, my friends have cute children. Win/win.

Overview of race day (don't worry, you will get plenty of details in leg recaps soon!):
Race day was amazing. As expected, I was a little stressed/grumpy Saturday morning. I didn't really know what to expect and that always throws me a bit. Thank the Lord for a sweet mom and dad who put up with me. I'll go into everything in detailed posts, but lets be honest, it was a good day. A day that went better than expected. My goal was to go under 14 hours. I did the math and figured if I had a REALLY good day and everything went as planned, I could possibly see 13:30. I really just wanted my moment in the finish line. I wanted to hear "Becca Williamson, you are an Ironman!" But a respectable time wouldn't hurt either.

I exited the water seconds earlier than my projected time. The biggest surprise swim-wise was how ready I was to be out of the water. It felt like I was in that water forever! I hopped on the bike and let tons of super expensive and speedy bikes pass me. I knew I needed to do my own thing and go "easy," especially on the first half of the course. I did and focused on taking in nutrition. I only had a total time on my watch (intentionally) and knew I was in a good place at the half-way point. Off the bike, I felt good, tired, but good. Nervous about the 26.2 ahead of me (you know, not having ever run a marathon before), I started slow and reminded myself to take in every moment. At mile 1 I saw my friends and family and was so so so happy to see them! Cheering saves you on the run. I can't say that enough. The run was okay, but I did walk quite a bit, but only for 20 seconds or so, then trudged along. There are a lot of stories I'll share later from the run, but after a strong (but slow) last lap, I was suddenly a mile from the finish line.

Y'all, I was like a kid in a candy store for the first time. I was so happy and soaked in every moment. I remember running up the shoot with everyone cheering and seeing the finish line, I looked like a fool as I grinned ear to ear and said out loud, "This is so cool!"

I finished in 13:03:33. Almost 30 minutes faster than I thought would be possible on a great day. I'm no speed demon, but I'm happy with the time and love the fact that I enjoyed the whole day.

A few Post-Ironman thoughts:
When I signed up for IMTX, I didn't really know  what I was getting myself into. I knew people who had done these things before, but I honestly wasn't convinced that I was capable. It was a scary thing for me to commit to, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Ironman Texas taught me the beauty of positive thinking and thankfulness. I know that if I hadn't been in the mind space I was throughout the day of the race, I would not have enjoyed the day half as much. The race was HARD, but as I've learned throughout the past year, hard can be good, even great, but your attitude and perspective are vitally important. These are lessons I find fairly easy to relate to athletics, but I'm attempting to relate to non-tri life as well. Baby steps.

Am I going to do another Ironman? Before May  17th, my answer was probably not. I've recently had to come to terms with the fact that I'm much better at the longer distance than the shorter though and there is now a goal time I'd like to hit one day...which means another IM just may be in my future. I know several people racing IMAZ and IMFL 2015 and I won't say I'm not tempted to see if I can get into either of those races. Racing late 2015 would give me another year of non-Ironman training to build a base to see what might be possible.

Finally, if you ever question if you are loved or not, do an Ironman. The love and support from friends and family was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. From folks at my office coming by for days leading up to the race, to Team Becca shirts lining the run course, to calls and texts for days before and after May 17th, thank you does not do it justice. I really do have the best friends and family a gal could dream of.

Swim/bike/run reports coming at ya...soon!

Weekend of insanity

Friday, March 28, 2014

I got a new photo editing app and now can make fancy pictures. Be prepared for lots of these suckers.

You know when you are reading your schedule just emailed to you and the person with you asks whats wrong and what has happened in a concerned voice due to your facial expression, that training just got all kinds of real.

I get that this is nothing new to folks who have trained for these things before, but I'm still green, a noobie. This is still insane to me. I'm about to head out for a swim I've needed to get in for a week now with a time trial type set (Friday), and then tomorrow I have a 3 hour run and Sunday...Sunday I have  my first triple digit ride. I've got 100 "easy" miles with a 20 minute run after.

This will not only be my longest ride to date, it will be the farthest I've ever gone, not in a car or plane. I'm attacking this in pieces. My run will be (most likely as I'm still being super careful with my knee) 1.5 hour run on pavement, and then 1.5 hour elliptical at a high intensity. In a perfect world, I'll feel great after 1.5 hours running, but realistically, I know to prevent being out for a few days nursing my IT band, I'll probably have to switch over to the elliptical or aqua jogging after a while. So that will be broken up.

On Sunday, the plan (which can always change due to others plans, weather, etc.) is to do a organized ride that has a 103 mile route. Hopefully, I convince Matt and gang to ride for the first 50 or so, so I'm not riding alone for 100 miles, but even if not, because its a organized MS150 prep ride, there will be stops every 10-15 miles. Yay for breaking that ride up even more!

So that's my plan. We all know how plans sometimes work out though. And while I feel like this weekend is a ton, realistically, its a natural progression of last week. Last weekend I rode a HARD AND HILLY 65 miles on Saturday and then 1.5 hours on the elliptical and an hour on the treadmill on Sunday...and I lived to tell about it. For some reason the whole triple digit thing is messing with me. I know once I've done it, I'll be golden - "aka" survive and be willing to possibly do it again.

Happy training,

I can't, but I am...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This is how I feel today.

I'm trying really hard not to compare my training to those around me, but its tough when you are babying a bum knee and still trying to hang on to Ironman training like your life depends on it. 

Short runs followed by lots of time spent on the elliptical or looking ridiculous aqua jogging have been my go-to workout. Oh, and long, long weekend rides. Who would have thought that 45 miles would seem like a short ride? Not me, that's who. 

May 17th is happening. I refuse to get bogged down with training and life and "I can'ts". I will drag my sad body across that finish line if I have to. 

Disclaimer: I am in the middle of training and have been getting up way to early and probably staying up too late. Over dramatics are acknowledged:). 

Happy training,

I'm still alive. Just training for an Ironman.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm not dead. I haven't run away and started an indie-rock band. I haven't moved to warmer weather, where there is also no internet connection.

Nope. I've been training. Actually, I've been on my bike.

To be fair, I've also been adjusting to a new job, volunteering at church, trying to be a half-way decent daughter/sister/girl-friend/friend, and plenty of little projects sprinkled here and there.

But mostly, I've been training.

I've been hesitant to write any updates about training. I've found that Ironman training is way more of an emotional journey than I expected. Not in a "I cry every work-out" type of emotional, but there are definite highs and lows. Good workouts are great. I feel somewhat confident and strong. The bad workouts are so so hard though.

The past two long rides have been a 74 mile ride and this past Saturday, an 80 mile ride. To be fair, both have been personal distance rides (I rode 56 miles three times in my life - in the three Half-Ironman races I've done). The 74 wasn't horrible, but MAN I struggled on the 80 miler!

So instead of writing an "I love Ironman training!" followed by an "I'm going to DIE on May 17th!" post (because that's about the length of the blog post for my blogging time allotment), I've been MIA.

Because bullets are pretty much the best thing ever, I'll update you on my training/life quickly:

  • Running is non-existent. Knee is still killing me and thus, no running. Ran the Rodeo Run 10k two weeks ago and aggravated something. Who needs to train for a marathon, right?
  • Spin classes on Tues/Thurs. has been my go-to morning workout. My friend teaches and its just the accountability I need to get my butt out of  bed.
  • Weekends are now taken over by training. I try to keep Sunday shorter for church, but it takes a long time to ride 80 miles. My days disappear quickly.
  • Along the same lines, I'm one tired gal after these massive workouts. I'm going to brag for just a second - I have a very, VERY kind and understanding boyfriend. It is so incredibly awesome to have a support system through friends and family. I couldn't do it without them and their willingness to be okay with me not able to move on Saturday nights, or falling asleep at 9pm.
  • May 17th is coming up super quick. I still can't think about it without going a little crazy. I'm confident the sacrifices and training will be worth it and it blows my mind that this dream will become a reality in a few short weeks.
So - yes. Training is still happening. I'm taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy the journey as much as possible. So let the journey continue!


Irrational training freakouts

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I truly believe that endurance training brings out the best in you, but it also brings out the crazy. Not necessarily the "I see dead people" crazy, but the training crazy.

The "I missed a 30 minute shake out run and my training is going to tank" crazy.

The "I need ice cream. NOW" crazy.

The "I think I'll google IMTX race reports for the 1,293rd time" crazy.

The "I'm stressing about leaving town for a months, because I don't know how I'm going to fit my 6+ hour ride in. Losing sleep here, people!" crazy.

Yes, the crazy train is on the tracks and running strong.

Training this week was okay. I rode outside for the first time in forever and for the 100th time was reminded that I really need to get my bike re-fit. My legs held up great, but I was grateful for every break we took so I could hop off my bike for a few minutes and stretch out my back. This week is a back-to-back long ride weekend. Saturday was going to be longer, Saturday shorter, but I think it might flip.

And after that boring insight into my training week -

Saturday - Quick 1 hour ride outside. Great weather and quality solo ride.

Sunday - The three hour trainer ride that didn't quite happen. Because of a flat tire. My FORTH flat tire this year. Ended up on trainer for 2+ hours.

Monday - Rest day

Tuesday - Shake out run

Wednesday - HARD swim workout. Main set was 10x100 on 1:20 then 10x75 on :55. Those 75 were fast! My body is not used to moving like that. Lisa said that these types of workouts mean I wont be spending hours and hours in the water because I'll be getting stronger with these shorter, more intense workouts.

Thursday - Life happened. Workout didn't. Oh the life of a non-professional, middle of the road, average athlete.

Friday - Gym time

Saturday - 45 mile Band Against MS ride (took us about 3 hours with some stops). It was quite the morning. I can't seem to ride and not fall over or wreck. Twice I ended up run into or on the ground. Its a gift actually. Graceful is not my middle name.

For anyone that is thinking about training for an Ironman and looks at this and thinks "that's no big deal. IM training looks easy," I'll add that these one sentence overviews do nothing to describe the highs and lows of training. Heck, there are highs and lows in one workout. Its insane how much this training is teaching me about how I view success, failure, and so many other things that appear to have nothing to do with IMTX...and this journey has only begun.

I promise my next post will have something to do with anything other that a weeks worth of training. Possibly.


Just a few random Saturday things...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Just a few random things on the beautiful Saturday...
  • I rode outside for the first time in a long time...and it was amazing. I'm always hesitant to go out, yet am grateful for the chance after about 5 minutes. It wasn't fast, but I got the hour on the bike in which should be a solid prep for the 3 hours tomorrow:).
Aren't I a lucky gal that this bike path is literally 300 feet from my street?!
  • I'm currently at Starbucks working on a little pet project and the characters in this place do not disappoint. In grad school I would do a lot of homework in coffee shops and I miss the Saturday afternoon people watching. Its stellar.
  • My old piano instructor posted THIS ARTICLE on what kiddo's should know and even though I don't have kids, I wanted to shout an "Amen!" as I read it. Coming from this homeschooled gal, I couldn't help but be so incredibly thankful for my childhood and the way I was raised and taught. When I have kids, no matter what education system they experience, I hope to provide learning all around them and instill in them the qualities that make them great learners and lovers of learning in general. 
  • Continual repeat song alert! I know this doesn't sound like a typical repeat as you run song, but I'm mildly obsessed with it. Give Me Back My Hometown - Eric Church
And with that...enjoy the rest of your weekend!


IMTX Training, here we go!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sound the alarm! The great ice storm of 2014 has hit the Houston area! Schools are closed! Offices shut down for the day!

Y'all...its 31 degrees...and raining.

Houston, you make me laugh. Honestly, the only annoyance from this gal (which I can't really complain about as I work from my laptop under blankets on my couch) is that this "severe weather" means that the local news folks are covering the weather instead of showing the Today Show. I guess Saved by the Bell it is. What can I say, life is pretty tough around these parts.

I'm hesitant to say that Ironman training is in full force now, because its actually manageable right now, but I guess it is. My weeks will continue to get harder and longer, but right now I just have about an  hour of training a day, with a little more on the weekends.

Saturday: Rest for RACE DAY! A little expo action and a short walk with a bestie in town for the weekend...but other than that, took it super slow and easy!

Sunday: A little 13.1 mile run with a few thousand of my friends.

Monday - Recovery day after the half on Sunday. My hips were pretty tight after the race and my quads and hamstrings were sore, but we're good to go now. Knee is still a little sore, but I'm confident with my stretches and a little TLC, we will be set to train.

Tuesday: Ran a loop at Memorial. This is when I could feel my knee twinge just a bit, but as a whole, the run felt good. I was able to hold under 9 for most of the run without even thinking about it.

Wednesday: I've been lacking a little motivation to get into the pool recently. I went straight from work this time and that seemed to help me out a lot. This week the main set was 5x100 on 1:20, a 500 for time (I averaged 1:22), and then 5x100 on 1:20. The first 5 100s were the hardest. It just took me forever to warm up and get my body moving. After looking at some stats, I've got to keep my strokes per lap down. I know this is common knowledge, but seeing the stats is a great reminder.

Thursday: 1 hour spin with 10 x 1 minute intervals. We had quite the show going last night. My roommate with doing P90X in the living room, I was on my bike, and we were those crazy girls with our door open with nasty weather outside because we were overheating in our little townhouse...then we went and got pizza and wine.

Friday: Today is my gym day!
Saturday: Bike/swim brick
Sunday: 3 hours on the bike + run!!!

Happy Friday!!


Houston Half Marathon 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

I talked to my mom yesterday and she asked about my blog and said she was still looking forward to my end of year review..."maybe you can work on that this afternoon:)". I've actually worked on one a few times, but 2013 was kind of a crazy year with lots of ups and downs. I just haven't completely wrapped my brain around it, so have put off writing any "recap" of it yet.

So I'm just going to put it off a little bit longer...

Instead, lets talk Houston Marathon!

Let me start by saying, I love this race. Love it. I think it is well run on the production side of things, a great course (the old and new course), a big marathon that hasn't "sold out" and looks like every other big marathon in the country. And can I brag on the bag check?! Most seamless process I've ever experienced in my life.

All of that being said, this year didn't disappoint. because of my blogging hiatus, you would have no idea that I've still been struggling with my IT Band and haven't run much at all recently. I've run a couple of 4-6 milers without lots of pain so I knew that I could do the 13.1 if I was willing to walk if need be.

I had to have an honest conversation with myself though. I knew I couldn't let pride get in the way and push myself further than I needed to and risk IMTX training. Being a Houston Marathon Ambassador also pushed me a little in my decision to run and at least finish the half.

In the end, I'm so happy with my decision to run. The weather was perfect and without the pressure to pr, I was able to soak up the day. The crowds were great and I didn't even think about playing my ipod until I started to hurt a bit after mile 6. I hung with Matt for the first 2 miles (can I just say that having a boyfriend to start your race with is a lot of fun!) before he kept the 8:15 pace and I wisely held back.

Race wise, I held under 9 for the majority of the day and finished in 1:54. Definitely not a pr, but I was happy with it. I had some serious quad/front of hip pain last night, but other that that, just a little sore. Today, I can tell its all just sore, and no injury...including my knee! I should be good to go training wise tomorrow...because folks, its IMTX training go time! May 17th will be here before you know it!

And before we wrap up this half marathon journey, I need to give a special thanks to the Houston Marathon for allowing me to represent them as an Ambassador. It was such a fun experience and I'm humbled to have been included with so many inspiring runners. Thank you Vicky and the Houston Marathon Committee! I'm in awe of what yall put together every year. You all are seriously the best of the best!

Happy training,

Bike building machine...

Monday, December 9, 2013

This weekend Courtney and I volunteered with Elves and More, an organization that works with schools to use bikes as a motivating factor to increase literacy and student success around the Houston area. Courtney and I were definitely the exception as there were more boy scout groups that I knew what to do with. I'm highly grateful I survived middle school. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe. I think very few folks don't go through the middle school awkward stage.

Once we went through "training" we went to work and both built our assigned two bikes. We were pretty super bike makers. I'm not even going to try to lie.

My favorite was the above green and pink bike. Some lucky little lady is going to LOVE this bike. I can feel it.

In training news - the bad news is that the knee is still not feeling great. I can make it about a mile, but then the pain sets back in. It really stinks. Really, really stinks. I'm trying to be positive about it and I'm doing everything I can to give it a chance to heal, but it would be really great if my body could pull it together and start feeling like its supposed to!

The bike is still not my favorite, but I'm doing it and that's what matters! I do need to find some way to stay motivated on the trainer. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please send them my way. I'll love you forever.

I haven't seen this weeks schedule yet, but I know we are going to start ramping up the time on the bike and runs. Swimming will come alone more intensely as well.

Let the party continue!


Milkshakes and yoga...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

At the end of day

How do you make it complete?

Yoga and milkshakes.

-Haiku by yours truly

My very late Thanksgiving post...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Y'all, it is Thanksgiving week...yes, skew your thought of your typical calendar week, and is could possibly still be the week of thanksgiving.  To say that this is not exciting news could possibly be the biggest lie I've ever told...this month (I might have told someone my room was "clean" last week, but personally, I take "clean" as a relative term).

Thanksgiving is my family's holiday. We protect this thing like its our job. We've spent years perfecting our family traditions that include sister coffee trips and Wednesday night movie with the fam. Its really hard not to be thankful. I have the best family, we are always blessed to be able to be together during this time of year, and even when life is a little up in the air, everything seems like its going to be okay in the end. 

This year I NEEDED Thanksgiving. I NEEDED my family. I was craving the tradition of it all and the emphasis on taking time to "count your blessings."

Change brings a lot of possibility, and I've learned that change is absolutely a good thing, but y'all, the amount of change we are talking about in my life right now is a little out of control. I feel like every day there is a new aspect of my life that is turning upside down. I feel like one of these days I might just wake up as a petite curly haired blond who has hand-eye coordination for days. At this point, I don't think it would even surprise me that much.

While change is good, it can be overwhelming (so thankful for verses like Isaiah 46:4 - helps me sleep at night, ya know?) and it can be easy to become blind to all of the areas that I am blessed. From little to big, I'm a blessed gal. 

I'm so incredibly thankful - 

For my friends that are on this crazy life party with me. For those that don't have a community of friends that you do life with and are able to show the good, the bad, and the ugly to, find this asap. This is so important and one day you and I should grab coffee and I'll share all of my thoughts on the importance of community.
I got this cute plate as a "just because" gift from on of by best friends from my freshman year at the UofA. We had 4 classes together our first semester and one of our professors came to class drunk several times...his name was Sy and we could never pronounce his last name.
For my family (duh). We are all over the place and it blows my mind that we haven't been together for a year, but I don't know what I'd do without them. Like really, I'd be a hot mess. It makes me laugh that we are all so far apart right now, because when my family moved when we were younger, my parents made sure that there were enough rooms in the house so we could each have our own room. Surprise! We didn't want our own room, we wanted to share a room. So not only did my parent "get" to buy a large enough house for all three of us to have our own space, they also "got" to buy bunk beds so their wackadoodle daughters could all live within 3 feet of each other. 

For a body that allows me to do some pretty cool things. TODAY WAS MY FIRST REAL TRAINING DAY FOR IMTX! Y'all, these next couple of months are going to be insane, but in less than six months, I'm (hopefully) going to be doing something that I've always thought was impossible, something that I never thought I would be able to do. How God creates a little body that can go 140.6 miles in one day...I'll never know.
Christmas tree plus trainer ride. Tuesday night at its finest. And yes, that's my Oilman sticker still on my bike. Yes, that means what you think it does.

Thankful for faith, redemption, grace, and refinement. Thanksgiving 2013, you didn't disappoint.

Isaiah 46:4 Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

I am going to be smart.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Almost two years ago to the day, I was running with a great little running group and was having a solid 11 mile long run. I was going faster than I expected. I felt better than I expected."Why not push the last mile?" they said. "Why not hit 8s? They said. You know why not?

Because suddenly my knee started feeling "funny".

And genius here didn't listen to that "funny" feeling and had failure after failure of long runs after that.

And that began 4 months of rehabing an IT Band injury while training for my first Ironman TX 70.3. It was long, painful, and all kinds of expensive. I was a rehabing machine. Again, not always the smartest rehabing machine (hello scars on my legs from icing too much), but a machine non-the-less.

When I was able to run painless again, it was the most amazing thing ever. I heard angels singing and rainbows and sparkles a I ran around Memorial Park without being in tears.

Injury free running also gives you permission to take awkward pictures of your legs that you text to friends. If you ever do this, make sure you do it against your singular furniture purchase of an orange, teal, and brown velvet chair (black/white photos were NOT unintentional).

All of that is to say that racing Oilman undertrained might not have been the best idea and my IT band paid the price. I'm laying off of it for a week and using this time to get on the bike and in the water. Its more like forcing myself on the bike since I still am looking at it in disgust since the painful 56 miles at Oilman. If rest doesn't help, then I might look into going to PT for a few times since that helped last time. 

I'm planning on being smart about this though....because I've got big plans people! Big plans!


My non-expert early bird Houston Marathon tips and tricks...

Friday, November 8, 2013

I once went to a minor league baseball game with my family. As with a lot of Friday evening minor league games, this one had a really cute theme of "Christmas in July." There was a dancing Christmas tree, Christmas carols, and some gift game they played between innings. The only problem, was that it was a gorgeous Friday May. Yes, we celebrated Christmas in May.

I say all of this to say I kinda feel like I'm pulling this same trick here, but bear with me...

I, by no means, am a running expert. If you got that vibe from me, hate to burst your bubble, but its just not true. I do, however, have opinions and know what has worked for me in the past. These opinions happened to be shared with a friend who was asking me the other day about the Houston Marathon and what tips and tricks I had for him that he could take advantage of NOW. You know, since I've run the Houston Half-marathon once and all. Like I said, definitely an expert.

Surprise, surprise though, I actually wasn't speechless. Miraculously, I did have pre-race tips and tricks for the Houston Marathon.

1. Houston weather is wacky. Now is the time to prep accordingly. I like to run as if its 25-30 degrees warmer than it actually is, so maybe other people don't have this problem, but I've made the mistake of looking for singlets/cute short sleeved running tops in December, and low and behold, most of the really cute running clothes I find are winter gear. Thats great if you are running in Nebraska or Minnesota, but not so much if is 65 degrees and humid. Find the cute stuff now while its still available...or even better, on sale. Bonus - you can have it ready for a trial run when you hit those peak training runs!

2. December 1st is the deadline to switch races. I'm currently signed up for the full marathon, but will be dropping down to the half because of IMTX training. Anyone in the Marathon or Half Marathon has the ability to change their race. A change fee of $20 will be charged when you submit the form and those upgrading from the Half to the Full will be charge the price difference in addition to the $20 charge. I'll be filling out the form HERE.

3. Don't let training slack because of the holidays! Honestly, with the number of Turkey Trots and other holiday inspired races, there is no excuse not to sneak in a few solid training runs. Hello, medal AND shirt from a Houston race or an out-of-town race?! Makes for a pretty sweet training run. I've got my eye on a 9 miler Thanksgiving morning run at White Rock. I plan on being fully ready for that pumpkin pie.

4. Start recruiting your cheerleaders. Figure out who who can ride with the morning of, start chatting up friends about your big PR that will happen in January so they will be at mile 21 when you REALLY need to see that familiar face. Map out routes for them and be "that" runner. Tis the season to be thankful. Let them know how THANKFUL you'll be for them to get their little selves along your marathon route!

5. I guess this is kinda like #1, but if there is something now quite right with your training, now is a GREAT time to fix it! I ordered some new (really ugly, but really good and inexpensive) running shoes this week after some serious arch pain at Oilman during the half-marathon. I don't go through shoes as quickly as other people, but I know that if these work, they will be good to go for Jan. 19th, but if I need to figure out another solution for my arch pain, trying something new now gives me plenty of time to figure out a solid solution.

6. Work on your horrible finisher pictures. If you work REALLY hard, they might even end up on the newspaper website for all of Houston to see with a caption about how horrible the weather conditions were. This will only happen if you really work at it though, or have solid skills like this gal. Be warned.

So there you have non-expert tips for things to help prep you for the Houston Marathon and Half-Marathon.



Join my IMTX "training trip"!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hey there!

Day 2 of recovery after Oilman 70.3 is going MUCH better than day 1. I can move without looking like a limping penguin. Yes, today is much better than yesterday.

The countdown to official Ironman Texas training has begun and even after a tough 70.3, I'm excited for so many different reasons. This is going to be the physically and mentally hardest thing I've ever done, but just like a long road trip that you've been looking forward to, I'm excited to "get on the road" and start putting in the work I've talked about for 6 months now.

I'm also excited to share a way that you can join this "road trip" (because, let's be honest, group road trips are the best!). Through my Ironman training, I will be raising support for an organization that I 100% believe in. Its an organization in which their mission and goals I stand behind and I trust that their funds, time, and energy are used in a way that really makes a difference in their daughters lives.

About As Our Own:

As Our Own rescues children in India from lives of slave labor, such as organized begging and the sex trade. With a unique presence in the red-light district, As Our Own works to prevent second-generation sex slavery. Despite the difficult and dangerous conditions, As Our Own is standing in the gap, ushering in potential for hope and a new way of life.

The rescued children are welcomed into the As Our Own family where they receive loving, lifelong aftercare including nurture, education, and guidance. Excellence is sought in every aspect: the best English education for each child; ample opportunities to develop gifts and talents through art, music, and sports; and advanced training and university education opportunities. These girls do not graduate - ever. They are family, adopted as our own - for life. They are supported and loved in every phase of life: schooling, career, marriage and family, and beyond.

To prevent ongoing patterns and cycles of exploitation and enslavement, As Our Own works with local Christian leaders, trains pastors at its Hope Bible College, and works in broken communities through its Lighthouse Church Network, to bring transformation and strength through the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

Seriously - pretty great, right?!

Right now, training for IMTX seems like an insurmountable task, but I know that every day of training, every little run, swim, and ride, makes a difference and will help me reach my ultimate goal of completing the 140.6 miels on May 17th. In the same way, I know that even small actions make a difference in the battle to end human trafficking, an issue that I have been passionate about since seeing its effects in Haiti almost three years ago to the day. Because I know this truth, I'm asking for you to consider joining my team and we can make this journey together!

Want to learn more?! Want to join my team?! Visit my campaign page!

And just because I want to be completely transparent here, all donations will go 100% to As Our Own. I've paid the IMTX entry fee and none of the dollars raised go towards my training or racing!

Happy Training!


Dehydration + Pizza = No Bueno

Monday, November 4, 2013

Not the fastest. Not the prettiest. But folks, we've got another 70.3 in the books. 

Oilman 70.3 2013
Swim - 34:57
Bike - 3:29:50
T2 - 2:01
Run - 2:17:48
Total - 6:27:33

Lessons learned:

  • Its kinda important to actually train for a half-ironman. Out of the three that I've done, I'm by far the most sore I've ever been post-race. EVERYTHING hurts. And the thing about being sore after a triathlon, is that it isn't like being sore after a hard run "My quads are SO tight!" With triathlons you are sore EVERYWHERE and it is possible to chafe EVERYWHERE. This sport doesn't care if its socially acceptable or not. for IMTX begins shortly, and that training will be top priority because while I can limp across 70.3 miles with sub-par training, 140.6 is a whole other ballgame.
  • Nutrition is important and its important not to be dumb. The whole "its important not to be dumb" part is probably a good life lesson, but its especially important not to be dumb on the bike. I talked to a guy after who gave me the tip of 340 calories PER HOUR on the bike. That sounds crazy high to me, but we were talking Ironman so I guess that makes sense. 
  • I've got to spend more time in the saddle. This is a must. My mph was low and those 56 miles were really hard. I also need to get re-fit because I was in some serious pain throughout those 3.5 hours. My back and hip were killing me and I feel like that is something that I should be able to fix pretty easily. I just need to fine a couple hundred dollars in the budget to make that happen. So. Fun.
  • Speaking of BLOWING the budget, my new running shoes gave me left arch some serious problems. I've never had arch pain, but the minute I started the 13.1 mile run, shooting pain in the arch of my foot - almost cramp like. I hate buying shoes because I don't trust that people really know what shoe is best for me because it always tends to be the most expensive one. Call me crazy, but I don't think everyone needs the $150 shoe. Sorry. 
  • Under no circumstance will I EVER let myself get dehydrated again...and if I do, NEVER EAT THE PIZZA POST-RACE. I have a pretty good stomach, race wise. I've never been super sick or anything on a race course, and that was the case yesterday. I definitely was tired and sore (actually super tired and sore) after the finish, but decided to eat a piece of pizza. Water or gatorade honestly didn't even sound that appealing (note to self - that is not a good sign after 70.3 miles of "fun"). Once we got to the car to go home, we made plans to grab food once we were back in Houston. Once I sat in the car though - no bueno. It felt like really bad car sickness and I knew it was going to be a race home. After I didn't have the pizza in my belly (or anything else for that matter) I felt a lot better, but still "off" and super tired and weak. I was tons of fun for my mom as she was about to head out of town, let me tell you! Tomato soup+grilled cheese did the trick after a few hours. Oh, and lots of water. Crazy, right?!
  • I WILL figure out how to take a semi-decent race picture before IMTX. Seriously, how hard is it to just smile and keep your mouth closed? I. WILL. FIGURE. THIS. OUT.

Overall thoughts:
I'm still a fan of this race. I think this race showed me the areas I need to figure out so that IMTX can be an amazing experience. Each 70.3 is a lesson in mental toughness and this one takes the cake so far as a mental test. I'm happy as to my attitude up til mile 40 of the bike and then until the last 4 miles of the run...then it went down hill. Lots of things to improve upon, but a lot of fixable things. 

One things for sure - Each race I race I remember what a blessing it is that I get to compete. That my body allows me to do these races, that there are people that put so much time and effort into planning these logistical nightmares they call triathlons, and that my friends and family support this type of crazy. We have tough races, DNFs, and DNSs, but in the end those don't outweigh the community of people I get to meet through this all and the lessons I continue to learn.

And just because everyone needs more pictures of me in a wetsuit and swim cap...

Happy training,

I'm. Choosing. Brave.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

If you can read between the lines of my past few posts (which I like to assume people can, but as Matt tells me more often than I'd like to admit, "I cannot read your mind!" so maybe, just maybe, I should just assume you can't either), you might get the vibe that I've been trying really hard to get off the crazy train and back to my "Yay! This is so much fun! I LOVE TRAINING IN ALL CAPS KIND OF LOVE!" self. you get the honest version.

This. Is. Real. Life.

I'm scared about Sunday. Half-ironman races are hard. Under-trained half-ironman races are even harder. You know why? Because 70.3 miles is a long way to drive in a car. Its even longer when you swim, bike, and run that distance. I know once I hit the water I'll be fine. I'm taking it slow and plan to push the swim and then settle onto the bike for a little 56 mile bike ride. I'm not going to even think about the run until the minute I get off that bike. Once those running shoes are on, it will be waterstop to waterstop I go. But if I'm being honest, I'm still freakin' out.

You know what starts right after Sunday? IRONMAN TEXAS TRAINING. I'm excited, but there is also straight up fear there. While I know once I start training I'll find gals to train with, as I look down the road, it seems a little lonely. A lot lonely, actually. I know this is probably a good thing for me because I see so many areas that I can grow and develop as an athlete and overall individual because of this over the next few months, but I also know that there is potential for there to be "bumpy" sections along the way.

My coach for IMTX has been amazing and sent me workout schedules the past few months to prep for Oilman.

Sidenote: Yes, I would be in a much different predicament if I had strictly followed these plans. Note taken. Lesson learned. This can't and won't happen in IMTX training. 

She texted me yesterday asking how I felt about Sunday and I (in a controlled fashion...I think) shared my above fears. Love this lady to death. Why? Because she told me I'll be fine. That I will finish and to just take it slow and focus on nutrition. Then she told me to go shopping for some cold weather bike gear. Because she was brilliant and actually looked at the forecast for Sunday (not bad actually now that I've looked - will be running in the 70s once it warms up!!). Hello trip to Bicycle World on Saturday with my mama!

Even with the vote of confidence, and after reading 10 million motivational quotes and faking at least a couple dozen "oh, Sunday will be great! I'm excited!" comments to friends and family, part of me is still freaking out. What I'm holding onto though, is that I've learned "being scared" is okay. Its how I react to this fear that is the issue. THIS is where my "No excuse. Be brave." motto came from when I was training for 70.3 #1.

So- here and now, I'm choosing to be brave. I'm choosing to own up to the fact I didn't train as much as I hoped to or should have. I'm choosing to not let fear overtake my next few days. I'm choosing to enjoy 6+ hours on a beautiful course and enjoy using the body that I've been given in a way that is a gift.

I'm. Choosing. Brave.

Happy training,

Pep talk Tuesday...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just putting some pep in your step. And by your, I mean my...

- This is your time. Take care of yourself, but don't let laziness and fear become the excuse that you need to not give something a excuse not to give something your best effort.

- Don't let "busy" overtake you. You know what you need to do to not lose your mind. Its not cute when you lose your mind. No one wants to see that.

- Learn to say no when you need to and yes when you need to. True friends will understand and support you in what to do...because they trust you and love you.

- Invest in the relationships that need investing. Let people know that you care. Don't make people assume that you love them and are invested in their lives.

- Priorities are a beautiful thing when they are appropriately placed.

- Seriously, just go. do. it. 

 And in case you are more of a visual learner...

 And my personal favorite...

Here's to a motivation filled day.

Happy training,

One of those days, but so so thankful...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Its one of those days.
I spilled my coffee all over my lap on my way to work this morning.
I'm nervous (not a little bit, a whole freaking lot) about Oilman next week.
I don't feel like I'm training enough to hit the goals I want to reach.
My apartment is an absolute wreck (that is not uncommon, but its worse since I tried to "re-organize" this weekend).
My tri kit looks like it is about 3 sizes too small right now. That might be because it is. I'm wearing it on Sunday for 6+ hours.

Its days like this where I have to sit back and remind myself to be joyful for so many things in my life because I am so incredibly blessed. Some days though, it takes me physically writing them out to kick my little butt into gear and remember that a slow half-ironman or a messy apartment aren't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

So...lets do this, yo.

- I'm thankful my mom is coming to town next week for my race! I've been super spoiled by my parents for my half-ironman races. My mom was at my first and my dad was here for Oilman last year. I am a BEAR the morning of these big races (something about traffic, 4am, and mentally freaking about how far 70.3 miles is) and its nice to know you are loved enough to be there from beginning to end, because you know I'll need some help with that whole wetsuit situation. Gets me every time.
Super fan at my first 70.3!
- I'm thankful I have a chocolate drawer at work. Does it get better than that? I don't think so...

- I'm thankful Matt and I got to take over an apple pie (does it count as homemade if you use a pre-made crust? Yes. Right?!) to his neighbor who is seriously the sweetest old man ever. My favorite line of his when talking about houses and selling and all of that fun stuff was "I always said, everything's for sale, except my wife". Wise words, sir, wise words.

- I'm thankful for that Thanksgiving is in a month! That means sister time! Family time! An overload of coffee and pumpkin time!
Classic sister time self-timer pic...
Thanksgiving sister time dance party...
Oh wait, another Thanksgiving self-timer pic..
- I'm thankful that this past weekend was Arkansas bye week. This might not mean much to you, but this means the Razorbacks didn't lose! Happy dance!

- I'm thankful for forgiveness and mercy. My faith has been my foundation for so long, at times I know I take it for granted.
- I'm thankful I didn't die in downtown Houston yesterday morning trying to get to the Houston Half Marathon. Monsoons, flying road blockades, and bubbling manhole covers. After an hour of crazy weather, I called it a morning and went to Starbucks.
Reason I almost died by way of flying road barrier. 
Soaking wet. Starbucks. No 13.1
- I'm thankful that I live in Houston, because I think its one of the best cities ever.

- I'm thankful for the Saturday farmers market and Trader Joes and their ability to satisfy my urge to buy random "healthy" food that inspires attempts at kale chips and chia seed, sugarless, oatmeal "cookies".

Heads up - there are some super duper races going on this weekend in addition to Oilman. New York marathon and Ironman Florida are two of the biggies. Stick to the taper, don't lose your mind, and I can't wait cheer y'all on from the roads of Conroe!

Happy training,

p.s. Still mildly addicted to running to this song lately...

You don't want me cheering for you...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Truth: You do not want me cheering for your team. They will lose. It will not be pretty. You will then be mad that I supported your team in the first place. Then I will be sad because you are mad. Its kind of like the whole "If you give a mouse a cookie" thing.

Went to the A&M game to cheer on the Aggies. They  lost.

Cheered for my Razorbacks. They a GRAND fashion (yes I know this wasn't a surprise, but 52-0 still stings just a bit).

Sent my good vibes to my little UH Cougars for their Homecoming game. They lost.

I'll let you guess who I was cheering for in the Texans vs. KC Chiefs game...

The good news is that in my family, there is usually a chance that at least one family team wins. Currently, the immediate family collegiate loyalties lie with University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Houston, University of Arkansas, and Southern Methodist University. You've seen those "House divided" stickers and license plates? Yeah, we broke the mold and they don't really make anything for our kind of family. All of this to say, you now know the secret to why teams win or lose...its because I loyally support them or do not. Top secret info right there. Please use responsibly.

Happy training,

This weeks highlights and praying for my Hogs...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Weekend!

This weeks training was a little all over the place, but thats just kinda how I roll...

Favorite workouts- Tie - Easy swim and Tuesday track.

I logged 2,000 yds just to loosen up after the weekends long workouts. Kept a 1:30 pace. A month and a half ago, you couldn't pay me enough to get in the water 2x a week, but I've grown to love my time in the water. Note to self- defog goggles and learn to take less awkward pictures simply to prove you did the work out the you were supposed to be doing...
This picture might have been texted to a training friend with the text, "I went swimming! For real!"
Tuesday track was a little bit of a suprise with my SBS gals. Our workout was 3x1600 and I don't usually do well mentally with mile repeats. We all have our tough workouts and that one is just a mental battle for me. I'm always hesitant to put times I'm excited about because fast is such a relative term, but I ended up running all three at 7:30 pace. Actually, 7:28, 7:30, and 7:29. This is really good for me right now in the running relm. Sundays  long run had some of the slowest miles I've ever seen while running. Ever. So feeling STRONG felt amazing. It even gave me a little hope for Oilman in TWO WEEKS. In other news, I LOVE MY NEW GARMIN 910XT! Best birthday gift from the most thoughtful guy ever. Hands down.

Look at those pretty little numbers...
Favorite food - I have a new love for HEBs tortillas (the ones that you bake yourself) and Nutella. Honestly, I don't know how you can go wrong with these two, but I like to pretend I discovered something really inventive. Tuesday I used this as pre-track fuel and while it was a little bumpy throughout the warmup, I'd say it turned out quite nicely.
Calm my anxious heart...
 Favorite tunes - No, these aren't all super pump-up songs, but you need to listen to some stuff during WU and WD, right?
Love Me Again - John Newman
Feet Don't Touch the Ground - Stoney LaRue
Hall of Fame - The Script
Marry Me - Jason Derulo

Favorite Reads - Why You Should Drink Coffee Every Day. I posted this on the SBS facebook page and lots of people agreed, THIS IS GOOD NEWS! Coffee makes you a better athlete. Holla.

Happy Weekend! I'm off to cheer on the Aggies and begin praying for what could be a horrible massacre of the Razorbacks against Alabama.

Happy Training!

Why do you run?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why do you run?

Seems like a simple question, huh? I guess it should be. I guess I thought it was...until one of my students asked me and my simple answer turned into a jumbled mess of a reply.

True confession. I used to hate running. HATE. In fact, running kept me swimming through high school (which I am totally grateful for, but true none the less). In 8th grade I started doing two-a-days and by December, I was completely burned out. My mom knew this and having parents that never pressured my sisters or I to stay in a sport because we felt we had to, she sat me and my overly emotional teenage self down and told me it was okay to stop swimming if that is what I really wanted.

My mom also knew that if I quit swimming and stopped exercising, I would be a hot mess and a half and most likely lose my mind, so her agreement was that if I stopped swimming I would just need to run one mile every day. Not big deal, right? Wrong.

First race in pink high tops! 
TEARS. Lots and lots of tears followed as I couldn't believe my mom was being so unfair by making me run a mile EVERY DAY. Life is SOOOO hard. No, if that was going to be the agreement, I'd just stay swimming because I couldn't even imagine anything worse than running 1 mile every day.

Here's the real kicker. Swimming twice-a-day, I was logging 6-8 miles every the pool. How I felt justified in being upset about ONE mile...on land, completely blows my non-teenage mind. But hey, it kept me swimming and I have some of the most amazing memories swimming in high school. Long story short though, I was not a fan of running.

Growing up as a little kid and watching my mom run all of the big marathons, I was amazed by the sport and wanted to race just like my mom. One of my earliest birthday wishes was to run a race for my birthday. I'm fairly certain my family thought I would be the future runner in the family. But then I took up swimming (and dance and piano and everything in between) and after spending so many hours in the water, running seemed really really hard in comparison.

Through a couple of miracles, I started running in college (I had to run 1 mile in the morning and 1 in the evening because I couldn't make it through 2 whole miles at one time) and after training and finishing my first half marathon, I was hooked on the sport. I was hooked on how it made me feel, how it gave me strong legs I was proud of, and the community of folks I met along the way. Running was hard, really hard, but I did it anyway. Running taught be that hard can be good and that by chipping away at a goal every single day, I can do some pretty crazy things. Running teaches me those life lessons that I'm fairly certain I'm too stubborn to learn otherwise. 
About to pass out during mile 10 of my first half marathon - the Kansas City Half. 
My relationship with running is sometimes a hot mess. Some days I want more than anything to break up with the sport, and some days I couldn't image spending my time doing anything else. And these are the times that I'm not even injured...which is a whole other ball game of wacky emotions.
No big - just my mom and I running a little 200 miles across Texas together...
See? Wouldn't it be so much easier if my reply was, "Because I'm fast" or "Because its so much fun and makes me look like a supermodel"? I guess the whole, long winded and complex answers are what make running, triathlons, and training in general so great...but I'm fairly certain my students will think twice before asking another "easy question."

Happy Training,

Potential goodbyes...

Friday, October 11, 2013

I feel like now is when I need to admit that I might not make it through the weekend. 15 miles Saturday morning and 65-70 miles on the bike on Sunday? Yep, you might just need to say your goodbyes now.  It's been a great run, folks...

But in all seriousness, YIKES! This is mega weekend 2013 and then I'll taper down for my half-ironman the first weekend of November. Yes, a HALF-IRONMAN. I don't know exactly where the time has gone or why my brain isn't completely freaking out right now, but a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run is not a small little task.

I'm planning on mixing a little non-running/biking action in the mix this weekend. Hopefully some farmers market, church, and possible dancin' somewhere in the mix. Who knows...I live life on the wild side.

In other news, I think I hit the final 27th birthday celebration. Dinner was fancy smancy and our sweet waiter even added to the celebration (he brought it with the croissant bread pudding...yes).
My computer hates me and won't upload the picture correctly...

So, yes, this weekend should be an adventure. A very triathlon-y adventure. Garmin is charging now. Water bottles are filled and honey stinger waffles are by the door. Now, its just time for some sleep! 

Happy training,

Exciting news!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I have a ton of birthday madness to fill this little blog up on, but I first wanted to announce some exciting news...

I've been selected to be a part of the inaugural class of Chevron Houston Marathon Ambassadors! You can read the announcement HERE. When I look at this list of Ambassadors, I'm super humbled to be among the 10. These folks are legit! I received the email yesterday and we were asked to keep it hush hush til they made the official announcement this morning, so, like I learned in kindergarten, I followed the directions and didn't say a that many people.

According to the announcement, we are supposedly going to "inspire and support you as we prepare for the 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon."

Hopefully they accept inspiration in the form of really bad race pictures and carb loading expertise...

Happy training!


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