My first triathlon- recap

My first triathlon is in the books!  Overall, it was a great experience.  A bit more challenging than I expected, but I’m so glad I did it.

I didn’t post goals in advance, as I had no idea what to aim for… but I was hoping for something in this range:

  • 500m Swim: Less than 10 minutes
  • 16.6 mile Bike: 55ish minutes
  • 3.24 mile Run: 23ish minutes
  • Total (with 1 minute transitions): Approx 1 hour, 30 minutes

So here’s the recap:

I was able to carpool with a neighbor, so I got up at 5am and rode in with him and his wife arriving by 6am. After a short walk to the start, so I had about fifteen minutes to set up transition before it closed at 6:30am.  Then we walked 500m along the water to the start.


I was hoping to warm up in the water, but ran out of time as the first wave took off at 6:45am.  My wave left at 7:23am.  We treaded the water for a few minutes until the gun went off.

I’m not sure what happened, (maybe I started too fast?) but suddenly my breaths were coming much too quickly to match my 3-stroke breathing pattern.  I started panicking a bit and decided to flip to my back to float and calm myself down before swimming more.  I had to do this twice before I finally decided to breathe only on one side, after every two strokes, to allow my heart rate to slow down and my breathing to normalize.

Once I finally got in the groove, I felt like I was moving along okay, but I knew I had wasted a lot of time in the water. I now understand how people can have a mini-panic attack in the open swim!

Thankfully, we swam along the shore the whole way, so I always knew where I was.  I was thrilled to see those finish buoys.

The wonderful volunteers pulled me out, and later I confirmed my slow swim- 12:33.

Transition 1: Thanks to all the advice I got in advance, the transitions went pretty well.  I opted out of cycling shoes, as I’m too new to be comfortable getting clipped in.  So I threw on socks and sneakers (love those stretchy laces!), buckled my race bib on, clipped the helmet and grabbed my bike-  T1: 1:10.


My heart was still racing from my swimming experience, so it took me a mile or so to start to feel better and focus on the bike.  I had decided to opt out of a watch and had no idea what pace I was going.  I was passed by a few seriously speedy ladies, but also passed my fair share.

It was a two-loop course, so we got to ride past the spectators half way through.  My husband and Lil were cheering at every transition and snapped these lovely pictures.  It was so nice to hear their voices!

I tried to pick up my pace for the second half, but have no way to prove whether that actually happened.  The loop was a “T” so I slowed down a lot at all four of those corners, but overall was happy with my time.  16.6 miles- 50:41 (19.7 MPH)

Transition 2: All I had to do was run in, drop off the bike and helmet, and run out.  I also took a second to drink water, as I hadn’t worked up the nerve to grab my water bottle on the bike ride.  And I grabbed a few Honey Stinger chews for quick energy.   T2- :43


Ahh, finally- I had made it to my favorite part! I ate two chews and tried to find my legs under me.  I was not moving very quickly for the first half mile but neither was anyone else.  With each mile, I began to find a little more speed, but my legs didn’t have a whole lot left.

Since I was running without my watch, I was guessing that I had run most of the 3.24 miles around an 8 minute pace.  Although it wasn’t the pace I had hoped for, this was definitely my strong point of the day.  I was finally passing some of those speedy biking women, and didn’t get passed at all.

Amazingly enough, my shin muscle/tendon felt fine! I wore my Tommie Copper compression sleeves the entire race. Stylin, I know.  Final time- 24:18 (7:30 pace).

There’s that end-of-race-I’m-tired arm swing again

I was so ready to be done at the finish, I stopped over the first line and didn’t realize it was the second line that recorded chip time.  I lost some time before I realized everyone was yelling at me to keep going, and I finished the run.

Final overall time- 1:29:36 (6th age group)

I came in just below my estimated time of 1:30:00, but I have plenty of room for improvement (the swim being the obvious one!) It was actually a lot more fun than I expected… the adrenaline that I normally get at the start of a running race was kicking in through each transition period as well.  I enjoyed the challenge of something new, and am loving that I can cross this off my bucket list now!

For local runners, I would definitely recommend the Shadow Creek triathlon.  It was well-organized, and the swim and bike courses were ideal for a newbie.  This was only the second year, and they had about 650 participants.  I liked that it was large enough to have action around me at all times, but small enough that it wasn’t overcrowded or overwhelming.

I definitely can’t say I’m “hooked” on triathlons the way I am on running.  But I also won’t say it’s my last!



Fitness Bucket list

I love lists.  And I love goals. Apparently, this is pretty typical for a first-born child.  So when Fitfluential Ambassadors were encouraged to create a “fitness bucket” list, I was excited to get right to work…

Here’s a glimpse of what I came up with:

In the next 1-2 years:

In the next 3-5 years:

  • Master the Side Crow pose and increase my flexibility in yoga
  • Compete in a duathlon
  • Get RRCA certification to coach runners

5 years and beyond:

  • Race a 70.3
  • Coach an elementary-school running club for kids (and get tips from Michelle!)
  • Run an international marathon (Greece, China, Rome, Paris, I can’t decide)
  • Continue running for fun as long as possible, into my 80’s maybe?!

You can see my complete Bucket list on Pinterest.  I just got my account set up, so if you’re on there, let me know and I’d love to follow you!

I’d love to know…

Have you written out long-term fitness goals?

What would be on your ” fitness bucket list?”


Wiaw race fuel + Carrot-beet salad

Happy Wednesday again! I love how quickly Wednesday comes after a three-day weekend! I’m linking up again with Jenn at Peas and Crayons

This week, I thought I’d share race day eats, so here’s what Saturday looked like before and after the miserable 10k plus a few from our blueberry picking outing:

[Pre-race: whole wheat pita with banana, pb and chia; Post race: blueberry-yogurt-spinach smoothie; Lunch: couscous with chickpeas, tomato sauce and fresh parm; Snack: unpictured dark chocolate + almonds; Dinner: portabello burgers with feta, corn, beet-carrot salad, greens and watermelon; Dessert: cocoa-date-nut balls]

Race fuel: The morning of a race, I usually rely on a banana-nut butter combo of some sort.  The potassium in bananas can help prevent cramps and they digest easily, the carbs are good quick fuel, and the protein and fat in nut butter keeps me satisfied through runs up to about 10-13 miles. Here’s a helpful article on common fueling mistakes.

Summer salads: I love cold summer salads, and the carrot- red beet combo is one of my favorites.  It’s really easy and delicious!

Carrot Beet Salad (print recipe)

  • 3-4 carrots, shredded
  • 3-4 red beets, cooked, peeled and shredded
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful fresh parsley or cilantro

Combine carrots and cooled red beets in a bowl.  Mix the oil and lemon juice together, and pour over salad.  Add salt and pepper as desired, and top with parsley.  Enjoy!

(Shortcut- buy pre-cooked beets and shredded carrots to throw this together in no time!)

So I’d love to know… what’s the best thing you ate over Memorial day weekend?

Runners, what’s your typical pre-race fuel?


Too-hot-to-race Astros 10k recap

Hope you all had a great, long weekend! We enjoyed lots of grilling and good food, time with friends, and L’s first blueberry picking outing this morning.  I also enjoyed struggled through a 10k race on Saturday… here’s the recap!

On a whim last week, I signed up for one final 10k before summer was in full force- the  Astros 5k/10k.  We left our house at 6:45am, and it was already 80 degrees and humid.  I knew it was going to be a tough run, but had no idea what to expect.

My goal was to maintain a sub-7 minute mile pace.  McMillian predicted a 42:56 based on my recent 5k, and I was hoping for anything under 44 minutes.  But things didn’t exactly pan out.

In retrospect, there were a number of things stacked against me: I didn’t taper, I taught a hilly spin class the day before and, obviously, the full sun and hot temperatures.

The race start was delayed ten minutes to 7:45am.  We were already sweating just from standing around,waiting for the race to begin. I warmed up with an easy mile, and felt a little sluggish, but okay.  Finally, we were off!

We started up over a few bridges, and I felt strong.  I was trying not to think about the fact that we would also be finishing over these hills on the way back! Mile one beeped: 6:52.

I maintained my pace for mile two, and found a nice rhythm.  6:53.

As I watched the 5k runners heading back, I was suddenly doubting my decision to sign up for the 10k and was feeling hot and tired.  My pace began to drop.  Mile three: 7:03.

Mile four was a struggle. Without the 5k runners, the course felt empty.  We were in full sun, and I started feeling wiped out.  I had slept well and fueled well, so my only guess is that it was my body’s reaction to the heat.

Three more miles felt like an eternity.  I was no longer having fun, and wondered who in their right mind would race a 10k…in May… in Texas!  Beep! 7:22.

Mile five was worse.  We were headed back up over the bridges, and I was losing the mental toughness battle, with a series of negative thoughts.  I felt like I was working hard, but my watch was not reflecting the effort I was putting out. I wanted to go lay down on the side of the road.  I’ve never had such a strong urge to quit! Maybe the heat was messing with my head?  Mile 5 (with small hills that felt like mountains), 7:49.

Hitting the mile 5 marker was encouraging-  1.2 miles to go.   I knew my sub-44 goal was now out of reach, but I no longer cared.  A few people passed me, which was discouraging, but I just wanted to get to the finish.  I felt a little nauseous, and focused on the guy in front of me and his bright yellow shoes.  I watched each shoe hit the pavement: right, left, right, left. Mile 6- 7:39.

The race finishes on the Astros field, so the final stretch is down a ramp. I was so happy to be close to the end, I let my legs fly down it with the final quarter mile clocking in at 5:55 pace.  Final time: 45:12, average pace 7:15.

What an experience! I found myself thinking a lot about the Boston marathon this year- similar temperatures, but I was only running a quarter of the distance! I am amazed at the physical and mental strength it took those marathoners to finish.

It was disappointing, especially because it’s my last 10k for awhile, and I wanted to go out with a bang! But I did learn that my body does not like hot weather racing, and I’ll be avoiding this run in the future, at least in terms of a “race” with a time goal! It was still a fun family morning.

After all my complaining, I was shocked to learn late Saturday night that I was first place in my age group, and will get a $50 gift card and the opportunity to be involved in the pre-game ceremony at an Astros game next week.  It’s my first “cash” prize, so I’ll stop whining. :)

Side note: The online results are divided into first half and second half average paces, and I was encouraged to see that nearly everyone averaged a full minute slower in the second half (like me), so I’m relieved to know I wasn’t the only one struggling!

Have you ever raced in the heat?  How do you handle a disappointing race?

Five for Friday (with garbanzo brownies!)

Happy Friday! I have five little updates for today…

1) Resting: Unfortunately, I’m a little under the weather this week.  L was sick earlier in the week, and passed along her fever and sore throat to me.  Ugh.  But I expect it to pass quickly.  Fluids and a last minute rest day for me today!

2) Race calendar: Now that summer is here, I’ve been taking my training and races week by week.  Part of me is thrilled with the relative freedom to do what I want, while the other part is itching to know what’s next! I may hop into a last minute 10k over Memorial Day weekend.  It looks like a fun event for the whole family, which is always a perk!

3) Reading: I picked up a few books at a yard sale last weekend, and have been staying up way too late reading. I read “A Thousand Acres” this week, which was somewhat disturbing but also completing enrapturing.  Next up is “Good Grief”… I’m enjoying the fun reading, but wish I could limit it to reasonable amounts of time.  I’m sleepy!

4) Running-related reading: Here’s a short article about the growth of women runners.  I resonated with one woman (also a social worker) and her reasons to run, “As a society, we struggle with maintaining our self-care when it is so critically important to focus on because it greatly influences how we are able to manage our day-to-day lives.”

Runner’s World also had a great article featuring ultrarunner and vegan, Scott Jurek.

5) Recipe! I’ve made blondies with garbanzo beans before, but I prefer this chocolate version.  It’s gluten free (with gf oats), vegan and has no flour, oil or butter.  If you are used to “healthier” desserts, you could omit more of the sugar and taste the batter before baking.  I love how gooey they are… plus all the ingredients are safe to eat right out of the bowl!

Gooey Garbanzo Brownies  (print recipe)

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3-4 Tbsp nut butter
  • 1/4 c. oat bran
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 ripe banana (optional)
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor until smooth. Stir in 1/4 c. (or more) chocolate chips. Spread the batter in a greased 8×8 pan and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes. Brownies will be fudgey. Eat as is, or top with ice cream, whipped cream, bananas or more melted chocolate.

Do you have other fun reading suggestions?

What does your race schedule look like for the summer?

Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race report

After my 5k a few weeks ago, I was planning to back off racing that distance until we had some better weather.  But I got a lot of encouragement to do a few more, even if they’re just for fun, and use it as speed work. So at the last minute this week, I came across another 5k near our house and signed up.

My goals:

  • Stay positive and have fun!
  • Hold back just a little in the first mile
  • Maintain a steady pace
  • Break 21 minutes

I knew it was going to be hot and humid again, but since it’s been consistently warm the last two weeks, I was hoping my body would be more prepared.  I stepped outside and was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of a breeze masking the 72 degrees and 99% humidity.  I jogged almost 2 miles to the start line, barely breaking a sweat and feeling encouraged.  What a difference from the last 5k, where I was already struggling to breathe in the warm up jog!

As we lined up, I tried guessing who would be a good pacer.  I’m always amazed at how difficult it is to gauge this!  All body types and sizes were lined up behind the 6 minute pacer, and I could only pinpoint one all-muscle girl who looked like she would fly!

As we took off, I purposely held myself back to find a comfortable pace, a lesson I learned after sprinting out in the last 5k and feeling zapped 1/2 way through.  I gradually increased my pace and found a group of similarly paced runners as we thinned out.  Success! Mile one beeped at 6:34.  This was really close to the time of my first mile last time, but I felt so much fresher and stronger.

Another perk to this race- there were 2,000 runners (as opposed to 200+ in the last one) so there were a lot more people (and spectators) to distract me and keep it interesting. I focused on two or three women ahead of me, and tried to catch them one by one.  That solid muscle girl was no where to be seen.  Having people in sight really helped me push myself to hold the pace.  Mile two was a few seconds slower, but still where I wanted it, 6:42.

As we started the last mile, I found myself using spinning cues and positive coaching messages (“keep your upper body relaxed, feel the rhythm, push hard-you’ve got this!”) They are so engrained in me right now! I knew I could hit my sub-21 goal if I held the pace.  Mile three was actually my fasted mile at 6:32.

The course was nice and flat until the final tenth mile, when we went up and over a bridge and down to the finish line.  There were finally lots of people cheering and I used their energy to sprint the remaining stretch at 6:17 pace.

Final chip time- 20:46 (6:40 average pace)

That’s 23 seconds faster than the race two weeks ago.  I’ll take it! It made such a difference to go in with less pressure on myself.  I was even thinking of ignoring my Garmin and running on feel, but I did check it at each mile and probably at least twice between miles.  My cheering squad:

I heard L and daddy at the finish, and was informed I was the second overall woman (behind Muscle-girl who ran a 6:05 pace!), and first in my age group.  So we hung around for the awards (a medal) and then they headed home on the bike and I finished my (not very) long run day with another 5 miles, for a total of 10.  I still felt strong and finished the last 3 miles at 7:46, 7:42 and 7:32.

Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to keep trying! This was only my 3rd 5k (ever), so I definitely feel like I’m learning a lot from each one, and I’m starting to understand the joy of racing this distance!


Sprint for spring 5k report

Happy Monday!  I’m excited to be tracking runners in Boston later this morning… I hope everyone runs smart in the heat!

On Saturday, I ran my second 5k.  Even though I’ve been running for years, I intentionally avoided the 5k distance until just this past November! Honestly, it just sounded painful.

But one of my goals for this year was to experiment with some of the shorter distances, and I’m actually enjoying it  (although it’s true that racing a 5k is tough!)

So, the race report.

The good: a new pr and a possible new running buddy!

The bad: 70 degrees and humid when I woke up.  Blech! And missing my goal time by only 9 seconds.  :(

The race: This was a small local race held through the local YMCA.  There were only a couple hundred people signed up. I jogged to the start of the race as my warm up (about 2 miles from our house) and was feeling hot and slow.

It was already over 70 degrees and muggy, which made me feel especially sluggish. I was watching for L and daddy, and they showed up about 10 minutes before the start.  Seeing them gave me a little boost of energy.

The race started at 7:30am and I pushed myself to start fast and find a good pace.  I looked down about 100 yards in and saw my pace in the 5:30 range, oops!

It took me another 100 yards to slow down enough to find a comfortable pace.  My first mile beeped at 6:39.

I was feeling better than I expected to, but as the race thinned out, it was really hard to hold onto a good pace with no one around to push me.  The heat made it difficult to get good deep breaths, and I found myself coughing a lot to get extra air.  I’m not sure why that helped, but it did.  Mile two was a little slower, at 6:47.

I could feel myself tiring out, and every time I glanced at my watch, I saw the pace slipping away and had to work to bring it back.  I knew the fast start was doing me in, but I hung on.  There were very few spectators, and the sun was beating down hard at this point.  That third mile is always killer! Mile 3: 6:53.

We rounded the last corner, and I finally heard people cheering.  What a difference it makes to have a little encouragement! I did my best to finish strong, with the last tenth mile at a 6:11 pace.

My goal was to break 21 minutes, but I saw the clock switch to 21 as I approached. It was disappointing, but I was just glad to be done!

Final chip time: 21:09 (6:49 pace)

Afterward, I started chatting with the woman who finished right behind me, and learned she had also moved here this past summer.  We had a lot in common and later I found myself thinking she would make a great running buddy, but I didn’t see her around.

We stayed for the 1k kids run (check out the video in yesterday’s post!) L didn’t last for long, so daddy ended up carrying her for most of it, and then she ran across the finish line at the end. She was so proud of her medal!

I also hung around to get my age group award- unfortunately, no massage this time:

Daddy and L headed off to the farmer’s market, and I ran home on a connecting trail to add another 6 miles on.  Guess who was also running home on the trail- my potential running buddy! So we stopped this time and exchanged numbers.  Yay!

All in all, it was a good run. I’m a little bummed about my time.  Part of me wants to sign up for another one soon and break 21 minutes, but it’s only going to get warmer around here.  So I think I’ll hold off on humid 5ks for a few months.  I can’t be unhappy with a new pr, right?!

Did you ever have a race that was both exciting and disappointing?

Any ugly trophies or race mementos on your shelf?

Boston spotlight!

Thanks for the encouragement on the 5k yesterday… the race went well, despite the warm temperature and missing my time goal by 9 seconds!  I’ll give a full recap tomorrow.

For this week’s purposeful running post, I want to highlight many of the runners I’ve gotten to know through the blogosphere who are getting ready to run in Boston tomorrow!

The Boston marathon has grown to be an enormous coveted race experience, and many runners set their sights on qualifying for Boston at some point in their running career (myself included!)

Obviously, it’s incredibly affirming to set a big goal for yourself (in running or life) and prove you can achieve it.  Setting your sights on a qualifying time or new pr is what makes running meaningful and “purposeful” for many of us, and the satisfaction of a good race can have an impact far beyond running (confidence, self esteem, dedication, perseverance, mental toughness, you name it!)  This is why programs like Girls on the run are such a successful way to build self esteem in young girls.

So congratulations to all of you who have met your goals and are running the Boston marathon this year! I’m so inspired by your stories, and will be tracking many of you at the race tomorrow.  Here are some of the women who have inspired me:

Amanda– aka Miss Zippy- is kind of like the mama running coach, who shares experience and wisdom from her blog and encourages and inspires so many of us.

Robin, who wrote a beautiful post about her running story, and her reasons for this year’s race in honor of her brother.  She’s also a mom of two sweet girls.

Jen, another mom of a two year old and also passionate about healthy eating for her family.  We have a lot in common (other than the speedy marathon times!)

Marlene, who has shaved an incredible amount of time off her marathons since she first started running.She BQ’d last year and is now training for an Ironman!

Amanda, another inspirational runner and a mom of three, who amazingly balances it all and writes about it with a refreshing openness and honesty.

Erin– Another inspirational story… she shaved nearly an hour off her marathon time to BQ and is now training hard with hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials!

Clea– Also a mom of a toddler, I got to meet Clea in Austin where she was pacing the full marathon. She’s also been writing a series of tips on running your first marathon.

Tracie– who set her goals on running Boston 7 years ago, and is running her first one tomorrow!

Finally, here’s my favorite runner, who attempted the 1k distance at yesterday’s race:

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Please let me know if I you are running tomorrow- I’d be happy to add you to the list!

Are you following anyone running Boston tomorrow? What blogs have inspired you?

Rainy day and Austin prep

It’s a rainy day in Texas.  Since this is our first “winter” here, I’m loving the mild temperatures, but I’m a little jealous of all the snowy pictures I’ve seen from the weekend up north, and I miss the excitement of a day off! So I’m claiming a snow day in our house, and we’re taking it easy and finding indoor activities to do.  I’m hoping L’s attention span will last long enough to get us through a few Valentine’s crafts after her nap:

I love these cute Owl Valentines at the Iowa Farmer’s Wife,

Natalie shared some great ideas at Lil Runner, (I think we’re going to make the egg in toast tomorrow, and hopefully the crayon hearts)…

And I’m going to try Kristen’s 3-ingredient fudge in heart shapes…yum!

Our Austin trip is quickly approaching- the half is next Sunday!  I signed up for this race as an excuse to get our family to Austin for a weekend, so I haven’t put a lot of thought into goals.  Originally, I was hoping to use it to break 1:40, but now that I’m building toward an April marathon, I’m realizing that’s probably not the smartest plan. (Especially if it’s true that there are hills in Austin!)

To continue building long run mileage, I need to get in a 17-18 miler around now, so my current plan is to use the race as part of a long run, and hold myself back from actual “racing”… instead I”ll aim for somewhere around marathon pace, in the 8:15-8:30 range.

I tend to get caught up in race day excitement and run faster than I want to, like my first 5k coming off an injury.  I’m hoping that won’t happen.  With hills, I shouldn’t have any trouble slowing down.

Thanks to those of you who shared ideas of things to do in Austin! One race perk is the 40 local bands that will be set up along the course and at the finish… a side of Austin we might not have experienced with a toddler in tow, so we’re excited for the race festivities on Sunday.

Has anyone else used a race as part of their training runs without “racing” it?  There’s lots of info about using races as “tune-ups” (like this article from Another Mother Runner) but that’s not my plan this time.

Have you had a snow day yet? How do you spend a surprise day off?

Unconventional training and the Resolution run

The Houston half marathon is two weeks away, and I was planning to run 12-13 miles yesterday morning.  However, after over a week in PA with running as my only exercise option, I came home feeling slight twinges in my shin.  I’m technically supposed to be adding speed and distance very gradually (after taking time off running in Aug/Sept/Oct), and glancing over my last few weeks, I realized I’ve been pushing myself with a few races and not exactly taking it easy.  It’s hard to start back slowly when I’m feeling good and I always want to ramp my mileage up too quickly. So tricky!

My gut says my shin is fine, but I decided to be conservative, and replaced my 12 mile run with one hour on the arc trainer and one hour cycling.  This is by far the most unconventional training cycle I’ve ever had! I usually run a minimum of 4 days/week, with some easy cross training thrown in.  This cycle, I’m only running 3 relatively easy days, and using 2-3 spinning classes for speed/hill work and weights to stay strong.  I only got up to 10 miles on my long run, and will do a gradual taper now until the race.  Despite this, I’m hoping to shave a couple of minutes off my last half marathon’s time.  Who knows what will happen!

In my excitement to participate in so many great virtual races, I had also signed up for the Resolution run, hosted by Amanda, to be run January 1!  I recruited my husband and daughter for an easy 3.1 mile loop near our house.  What a treat to start the new year off with a family run, on a gorgeous sunny morning!

Finally, thank you for the many encouraging words on my 2011 year in review.  I’m excited to see what the new year will bring for all of you as well!  I’ll post my 2012 Goals tomorrow!