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!



Carb-loading, Veggie Stromboli and Cookie Dough Pudding

It’s a rainy week here.  The good news is that Texas is relatively cool. The bad news is that thunderstorms are supposed to continue through the weekend, and I am terrified about cycling in the rain at the triathlon.  Let’s hope it stops by then!

This week’s What I ate Wednesday is more like what we’ve been eating the last few days. July’s focus is on fun, food and fitness.

Fun: Over the weekend, a Chinese friend asked if I would help her learn how to bake bread and muffins.  We had a blast kneading the dough for french bread and mashing bananas for muffins.

Food: Monday night, I made pizza dough, which Lil helped me roll out for a Veggie-packed Stromboli:

Veggie StromboliIt’s super easy and delicious! We spread the rolled dough with mustard, add sauteed broccoli, onion and peppers, top it with mozzerella or feta cheese, and pinch edges together to make a roll.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until dough is done, and serve topped with tomato sauce.

Veggie StromboliLocal avocados and tomatoes are everywhere, so we’ve been eating lots of fresh salsa and guacamole:

The Farmer’s Market is also overflowing with eggplant.  Last night’s dinner was Mediterranean pasta over spinach:

And my favorite dessert lately has been a variety of cookie dough puddings.

I’ve been experimenting with both chickpeas and tofu as a base, and I prefer the chickpeas.  The basic ingredients are the same as the Garbanzo Bean Brownies.

Cookie dough pudding  (print)

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (white beans make a smoother “pudding”)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. almond or dairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp nut butter
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder or 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 ripe banana (optional)
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Blend everything together in a food processor.

If you prefer a tofu base, Gina has a good peanut butter cookie dough recipe.

Fitness: I’m tapering this week, but did get in a 1600m swim in the rain this morning.  My shin is feeling much better with my Tommie Copper calf sleeves (thanks to Ali’s giveaway that I won a few months ago!)

Pasta, bread, and stromboli… I’m certainly taking my race week carb-loading seriously! What seasonal foods are you enjoying this week?

Triathlon training (in three weeks)

Taper week is here! Toward the end of June, I signed up for my first triathlon, excited to cross it off my fitness bucket list.  The one that best fit my schedule was only three weeks out, leaving minimal time to train.

Here’s what my triathlon training looked like the last few weeks:

Week of June 18-24th

  • Monday: Spin class
  • Tuesday: 8 mile run (2 warm up, 3.1 in 21:43, 2 cool down), quick arm circuit + registered for the triathlon!
  • Wednesday: 2200 m swim, abs
  • Thursday: (am) 7 mile run (2.5 at 7:30 pace); (pm) spin class
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: 15 mile run, 8:50 ave pace
  • Sunday: First brick- 14 mile cycling outdoors + 3.4 mile run

This was my strongest running week with 33.4 miles, which is appropriately timed a few weeks out.  And I got in my first brick workout… running after biking is surprisingly difficult!

Week of June 25- July 1st

  • Monday: 1000m swim, short weight circuit
  • Tuesday: 6.2 mile run (first noticed shin tenderness)
  • Wednesday: (am) 15 mile spin; (pm) 800m open water swim practice ——->
  • Thursday: Spin class + 3 arc trainer
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: Brick- 1200m swim+ 2.5 run with hill repeats+ 2.5 arc trainer
  • Sunday: 80 minute spin class

This was the week I noticed some shin discomfort, and switched over to the arc trainer for a few mock “running” miles.

Week of July 2-8th

  • Monday: 5 arc trainer miles; 1000m swim
  • Tuesday: (am) weight circuit; (pm) 15 outdoor cycling on Holly’s amazing bike!
  • Wednesday: 6.5 test run— shin still tender 🙁
  • Thursday: spin class + arms and abs
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: Spin class + 1000m swim
  • Sunday: weights circuit

I skipped my runs on Thursday and Saturday this week to give my shin extra time to recover.

I made my own training plan simply by adding in a few swims and some outdoor bike time each week. I didn’t spend a lot of time on any one discipline, but it feels sufficient for this distance. The sprint triathlon will consist of a 550m swim, 16 mile bike, and 3.2 mile run.

My plan for tapering this week is 1-2 easy swims, 2 easy bike rides, and some mock jogging on the arc trainer.  I’ll take Saturday (and possible Friday) off completely.

I have most of the race day details worked out, but am still working on a few things:

  • How do I keep my hair out of my face through a swim, bike and run? (braids? a hat?)
  • Planning out what to wear… (tri shorts and bathing suit vs. borrowed tri top)
  • Collecting and organizing everything I need (towel, swim goggles and cap, bike helmet, sunglasses, shoes and socks, race belt or clips, water bottle, watch? fuel?)
  • Practicing the flow of transitions

I’m definitely getting excited… and  I’m always looking for tips, if anyone has any final words of advice!

Friday Fit-bits with healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

It’s Friday again! I have lots of little updates today- some good, some not-so-good, and then we’ll wrap up with an amazing banana bread.

  • Fit Gear

Running blogs are buzzing with talk of the Mezamashii Project, and there have been numerous opportunities to win a pair of Mizunos.  Guess who totally lucked out and won a pair?!

I’ve never tried Mizunos before, but I took them for a spin this week and they were perfect- great fit, comfy ride, and lighter than I’m used to. I am still in awe that they fit so well for an online shoe purchase- their website was really helpful in the decision-making process. Thank you, Mizuno!

  • Fitbloggin

More good news… I’m officially signed up and registered for FitBloggin!  This will be my first blogging conference, and I am beyond excited.  I have so much to learn, I can’t wait to soak it all up.

And I’m thrilled to be sponsored by Drink Chia!

I came across Drink Chia earlier this year, and was impressed with everything about the company: their mission and the story behind them (started by another running mom),  their availability and approachability,  and, of course, their delicious drinks.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this in the next few months!


  • Fit Hiccup

I hate to break the flow of good news, but my unhappy shin is not going away.  I can trace it back to that superhero week when I did HIIT (with lots of plyo moves), then raced a 5k on the unforgiving treadmill, and finished off with a weekend 15 miler instead of my planned 12.

I’m good at ignoring aches and pains, but this week my shin finally got my attention.  So… with the triathlon a week away, I’m going to focus on biking and swimming (and tapering) and hope it’s happy come race day.  Wish me luck!

  • Fit Fuel

I’ll leave you on a happier note, with this amazing (whole-grain, low-fat) chocolate chip banana bread. Despite being very low in sugar, this is dangerously good. You can also double it, and freeze one for later.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (print recipe)

  • 3 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 2/3 c. plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 c. milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips

Mash bananas and mix the first five ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through salt). Add wet and dry ingredients together, stirring only until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and optional walnuts.

Pour mixture into a greased 9×5 bread loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Hop over to Jill’s for more Friday Fitness posts!


Biking, Baking and Black Bean salad

It’s time for another round of What I ate Wednesday!  This month, we’re tying in fitness, something I usually do anyway, so I’m excited.  Let’s get started!

Biking: This month holds a new fitness challenge for me… my first triathlon! Eleven days to go.  I feel so lucky that my local blogging buddy Holly is letting me borrow her road bike- it. is. amazing.  I’m too nervous to race clipped in, so I walked it two blocks to the bike shop yesterday to get the pedals switched.  And then I couldn’t wait to take it for my first spin last night!

Wow!  I had no idea what I was missing- that 15 mile ride was the most fun I’ve had on a bike in years.  Now I just have to get comfortable with a little more speed outdoors and work up the nerve to grab my water bottle while riding… it’s a bit different from indoor spinning!

Baking: I was inspired by the six very ripe bananas on our counter top to do some healthified baking this week.  Lil helped me restock her banana “cookies” and then we used yogurt and applesauce to make an amazing chocolate chip banana bread.  In the chaos of baking with a 2 year old, I forgot to add any sugar and it was still delicious! I’ll share the recipe this week.

Black Bean Salad

Nothing says summer like sweet corn and fresh salads!  We’re having a BBQ with friends this afternoon, and I plan to bring this salad with us:

Black Bean and Corn Salad (print recipe)


  • 2 c. cooked black beans, or 1 15 oz can, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. fresh steamed or frozen sweet corn
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper


Combine salad ingredients (through cilantro). In a small bowl, combine oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss gently to mix.

Happy 4th of July! How are you spending the day?

Do you have a favorite summer salad?

June recap and Winners!

June Recap: June has come and gone, which means it’s time for another monthly goal recap to check in on my 2012 goals.

Running Related

  • June stats: 15 runs- 118.5 miles; 6 miles on the arc trainer; 9 spin classes- 134 miles, plus one outdoor 14 mile ride; swimming- 3400m; weights 2-3x/week
  • Record breaking: No new prs- too hot to race here right now!
  • New Cross Training Challenge: Finally went to the HIIT class (High Intensity Interval Training)- I loved it, but after all the jumping, my shin was a little unhappy

  • Running Buddy: I went from zero to 4, plus I started linking up with a local running group that meets two blocks from our house.  I have my long run buddy May, my interval-loving-triathlete buddy Liz, my BQ-aiming buddy MC, and another local mom
  • Meet bloggers:  I went for a run with a local blogger, and had coffee with Holly this month to soak up her triathlon advice!

Personal and Family Balance

  • Computer balance: Sticking to my plan so far of early am, naptime and/or pm computer time rather than getting off and on  But I could definitely work on getting to bed earlier…
  • Reading: Devoured Runner’s World’s Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training; I think that was it for this month.
  • Date Nights:  Had a baseball date night, where I was part of a pre-game ceremony with all the age group winners from the Astros 10k

I also started a Fitness Bucket list, which motivated me to sign up for my first sprint triathlon on July 15… two weeks to go.

I cut my running back this week to fit in extra time in the pool and on the bike.  On Saturday, I met my triathlete friend and running buddy Liz at the pool for the Master’s swim, and we followed it up with a short run with hill repeats.  It rained all weekend, so I missed my planned outdoor ride on Sunday and did an 80 minute spin class instead.

Time to wrap up the giveaway!

Winners!   This is my favorite part of hosting giveaways… I love using to see what numbers will pop up.  So the two lucky winners are….

#222     Ali


#159     Kristin

Congrats, ladies! I was also thrilled to see that both women are training for their first full marathon!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the RW Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training!  It’s an excellent resource.  If you didn’t win a copy and are considering purchasing it, I would definitely recommend it.  Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about it that I didn’t cover in the review.

Do you track your goals monthly?  What was one of your June highlights?

The secret to running in the heat

As of Sunday, we have been in Texas for one year.  My body has acclimated a bit to the heat- but running in these temperatures is always a challenge.  Temps have been over 100 for several days in a row this week, and even the early morning “low” is uncomfortably warm and humid.

Since signing up for the sprint triathlon on a whim, I’ve realized what perfect timing it is.  Both the outdoor bike rides and swims have felt much more comfortable than running.  I got in my first open water swim this week…

Although I won’t be breaking any records, I do feel much more confident that I can survive the swim portion. Two weeks and two days til race day!

So the secret to running in the heat? Train for a triathlon!  If that’s out of the question, the next best thing is research that makes you feel better about yourself and a few handy calculators.

1) Did you know that training in the heat can actually improve your fitness level? One study of cyclists found that acclimating to the heat improved aerobic exercise performance.

2) Pace calculators.  Obviously, the heat can slow you down, and I learned this the hard way in my recent 10k when my legs could not maintain my pace in the second half.  Here’s one of the calculators that can help estimate how your time changes with the heat (or elevation), and I was encouraged that mine matched exactly the goal pace I was aiming for in that race.

3) Hydration calculators:  Replacing both water and electrolytes is crucial when exercising in the heat.  I learned this one the hard way, too.  After my 15 miler last weekend, I had a headache the rest of the day from dehydration.  Despite running with my fuel belt and finishing all four bottles, it wasn’t enough for a 2+ hour run.  I came across the Portman Calculator to help determine how much you should drink before/after/during a run in the heat.

Any other calculators you like?

Have you ever done an open water swim?

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday- stop over there to check out more posts!

Virtual 5k Recap and my first Bucket List item

This week was the start of Toni’s Welcome to Summer Virtual 5k and 10k. I signed up for both- I ran my 5k on Tuesday and plan to use part of my long run on Saturday for the 10k.

I’ve been struggling to maintain a decent pace in the Texas heat, so I decided to run two miles to the gym as a warm up, complete my 5k on the treadmill, and jog back home.  I almost wished I was outside- trying to run a “race” when you’re going nowhere is tough! But it’s done…

Nice, sweaty picture for you.  Next time I’ll wipe it off first! I tried to “cool down” on my jog home, but long after showering at home, my face was still red.  Thanks for the motivation to push myself, Toni!

Onto my fitness bucket list item… if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen me spill my news yesterday.  Thanks to some consistent, gentle nudging from Holly and Corey, I finally registered for my first triathlon!

The triathlon is July 15… just three weeks to “train”- (aka: learn how to survive the swim.) It’s a sprint distance- 500 meter swim, 16 mile bike, and 3.25 mile run.  Sounds doable, right?!

I’m super excited, but equally terrified… my last swim was in March, and I’ve never done an open water swim before.  The bike should be okay, although I rarely ride outdoors, I think I can manage.  And thank goodness the run is last.  I’ll be so relieved to get to that part!

I have no time goals as I have no idea what to expect- I just want to enjoy the experience and cross it off my bucket list. Stop by Jill’s for more Fitness Friday posts!

Is anyone else doing the virtual run this week?

Any advice for a first time triathlete? Training schedule tips?