Friday, June 29, 2007

Pop!'s over. My first Pub Run. And wow, was it fun....and educational!

I finally got to put faces to names and meet the crazy characters I've been hearing so much about.

I learned that it is probably a good idea to eat at some point during the evening (big thanks to Shorey's half grilled cheese sandwich, Kris' chicken nachos and Panther's french fries). Otherwise today could've been a lot worse I think.

I got to represent the minority contigent with JJ as we discussed our master plan towards the browning of America.

I learned that it's probably a good idea to use the potty before you leave for the next pub so you don't have to spend the next few minutes running and kegeling. I'm all for multi-tasking, but not so much in this particular instance.

I got a postcard at a bar, but then someone took it -- so I'm not sure if that really happened or not.

I got to meet some more of my age group competitors, Laurie. (She looks fast...I'd better giddyup in my training.....)

I saw a square quad! Seriously...have you seen JJ's legs?

And I learned that yes, I can still do cartwheels through downtown Austin...

All in all, it was a blast. Thanks to everyone who ran, guided, cajoled, pounded, cartwheeled, schemed, wrestled and drank with me last night. I'm looking forward to next month's run.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pub Run Virgin -- HOORAY! tonite will be my inaugural Pub Run! I'm so excited!

But I have so many questions!

1. What should I do with my keys/phone/ID/money, etc. I mean when I'm pubbing, I have a purse...when I'm running, I just carry my fob..... what do you do for a Pub Run??

2. What should I wear? Standard running gear? Someone said something about a Wet T-shirt contest?

3. What if we go to the Broken Spoke? (I'm not really the target market over there...ya know...)

4. How much should I drink? I've never drank and run before...will I get more hammered because the blood is rushing around so much more or less because I'm working it off?

5. How many people should I give my husband's cell phone number to in case I'm found face down in my running shoes at the end of the night? (Shorey - you know where I live, right?)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Eye of the Tiger

So, I got called out by my coach, Panther, yesterday during my 9-mile run workout which by the way included 2 Mesa hill repeats...yes, I said running Mesa repeats.

As you may or may not know, my run is not on par with the other elements in my triathlon bag. And sadly, this is after spending the entire off-season running half marathons and even a PR class. (Imagine what it would be had I NOT done that...yikes.) So yesterday, instead of a bike/run brick, Panther "suggested" I just run the entire time instead. Ok..I get run sucks.

So I dutifully run out to Mesa, up and down a couple times, and then back towards Mangia to meet the cyclists who are getting ready for their run portion of the workout...a 3-miler.

At about mile 2, Panther comes running up next to me in full coach mode. I was chugging along, but fully locked down into my "forever" pace. You know the one where you feel like you can go forever at that pace. I have one for each's a comfort zone I go to when the workout is long, or I'm tired, or its a distance I've never done before. I just hunker down and feel confident that I will finish...eventually.

Panther: "You know what your problem is?"
Dionn: "What?"
Panther: "You don't have the Eye of the Tiger."
Dionn: (inside voice) he calling me out? I'm not a competitor?
Dionn: (outside voice) "Hmm."
Panther: "You have a great base built, but you aren't taking advantage of it...really pushing it to the next level."

Dionn: (inside voice) ... I know I'm not fast...those guys are faster than me...I'm not a fast runner...but I will finish, eventually.... I can't not finish...I'm not a quiter...I can't not finish...ahhh...that's the real issue.

Dionn: (outside voice) "I have F.O.N.F. -- Fear of Not Finishing."
Panther: "You will finish, I don't doubt that. But I'm a firm believer of going really, really, really hard on hard days....and really, really, really easy on easy days. Today is a hard day."

Dionn: "OK"
Panther: "You see Arturo up ahead? I want you to catch him."

Dionn: FONF takes over and says "How much farther do we have left to go?"
Panther: "Just under a mile or so. We're just going to get him a little at a time"
Dionn: D, the competitor takes over and says "OK."
Panther: "Ok..stay with we go."

So Panther picks up the pace and we start gaining some ground on Arturo. I focus on my stride, my breathing...trying to bring it all together and really run...hard. Panther continues with words of encouragement, egging me on, goading me into digging deep. We're getting closer and closer.

Panther: "If we were trying to catch Glenda before the finish line, you're gonna start losing real estate to do it." We pick up the pace.

I hang with Panther as long as I can. Then about 400m until the end, Arturo, Glenda and the pack start pulling away. I know they're about to finish strong. Panther hollers at them to drop the hammer and BOOM...they're hauling ass to the end.

I make it about another 100m or so before I feel like my legs can't go anymore and I tell Panther "I'm done, I'm done!!". He tells me good job, way to push myself -- and the hustles up to the finish himself.

I did a recovery jog for another 100m and then picked up the pace again and tried to finish strong at the end. I was tired, my legs were sore, I was sweaty and I needed about a gallon water to drink. But it felt good. Real good.

Over several beers throughout the evening and on the way home, I thought about the evening's workout. I think I need a mental shift. I believe I have a competitive drive, but the focus has always been on Finishing. So I always want to have enough strength left to finish.

However, I think my issue is that I really don't know how much strength I actually have. I've never not finished, so I don't know where that upper bound really is. It's like testing the tinsel strength of a metal. You keep applying more and more force until it breaks and then you know how much force the metal can take. (or something like that...stay with me...)

I haven't been applying more force. I know that at this level, it is strong enough. But I don't know how much more force it can take. I think there's only one way to find out... keeping going harder and harder. I need to put aside my FONF and test the strength. Push the limits. Go Harder.

I'm on it.

Panther - thanks for the tough's exactly what I need. I love it!!

Camp Punishment - please feel free to call me out, tease, belittle and challenge me to work and work hard!! I'll buy you beers in return.

Monday, June 18, 2007

When Duathlons seem like a good idea...

Since I was a complete slacker last week and really took to heart Panther saying "this is the week to skip workouts".... I decided I really needed to kick start the week off getting back into the workout swing of things...and what better way to do that than to enjoy a nice, mid-day swim work out, right??

One of the things I enjoy about swimming out at St. Stephens with the Marshes is that it gives me an opportunity to stay ahead of the bike short tan line by getting super dark with a bathing suit tan line, first.

Oh sorry, is this where I need to take a special moment and say the following:
1. Yes, I check the box -- in fact, not just one, but both of my parents are African-American.
2. Yes, I can tan -- and I do so very quickly when exposed to the sun
3. Yes, I even get sunburned from time to time
4. Yes, you are right, I should probably wear sunscreen, but I don't (hence #'s 3 and 4)

So, given the above, if I do more riding than swimming in the sun, I end up with that crazy, unflattering bike short tan line that screams..."Hey -- look right here at this lighter section above me...this is the BIGGEST part of the leg!" And because I'm African-American (see #1 above), if I DO end up with a bike short line, I can't really just go tanning or layout to try to get rid of it without looking like a complete idiot. (I mean really...when was the last time you saw a black person anywhere near a tanning salon??) I then just have to try and brown up the less brown parts inconspicuously. (I have been known to put sunscreen on from just the bike tan line down when swimming in effort to brown up the right spots...sigh..the things we do....)

Long explanation, but there you go. But I digress....

Anyway, so I'm enjoying my swim workout with Brandon et al at St. Stephens when towards the end of the workout, they needed to use the far lane for a young swimmer who was practicing her diving starts. So, I agreed to move all the way across the pool to the nearest lane, which isn't really a lane because it's got steps in one corner, ladders on the edge and most importantly NO lane lines on the bottom or crosses at the ends. But no biggie, I've only got a 200 pull and a 200 swim to finish up. Plus, it is great practice for open water swimming because you have to swim in a straight line without the lane lines to guide you, otherwise you crash into the ladders, lane ropes, etc.

So, there I was doing my pull and diligently following Brandon's directions on breathing every 5...which meant that I would be bilateral breathing....which I can do, but left to my own devices, I just breathe on the left side, either every 4 or 6 strokes. So there I am, without lane lines, breathing on my offside and trying to steer clear of the much so that I end up nailing the lane rope....with my nail. Now, for some of you guys you might not think that's a big deal, but believe me...when you drive your finger straight into a somewhat rigid surface...all that energy has to go somewhere to dissipate...path of least resistance...that would be your nail jamming back into your finger, breaking into a few pieces and shreading some skin. Nice. Fortunately, it was just one finger and I just sliced a little corner of the nail off... a little blood, but nothing tragic.

At least until the 200 swim....

So, I'm supposed to swim this at a moderately hard pace...and not to mention that about 8-10 high school boys have now assembled by my side of the pool..awaiting the end of our practice so they can jump in and horse around....I'm just not ready to be a crazy, old lady swimmer. Anyway, I'm going pretty strong and have managed to steer clear of the ladders, lane ropes and stop and turn at the ends.....until the 125 mark. I'm chugging along, feeling good that I don't have much left to go in the workout, pulling good water when all of the sudden I see stars flashing across my eyes and I let out a quick yelp under water...what the hell was that?

I stop swimming and realize the source of my pain is coming from my hand. I look up and I'm at the far end of the pool and have just rammed my hand into the concrete wall. I have blood trickling from not 1, not 2...not even 3, but all 4 fingernails! Nice. I quickly picked off a few of the shattered pieces that were still dangling from my nail beds and charged on. (Didn't want to miss my interval time after all....)

After I was done, I assessed the damage. The good news was that after the bleeding stopped, I was proud to note that my hand was in fact entering the front part of the stroke and water at a 45-degree demonstrated by the 45-degree line from top left corner to bottom right corner on the nail on each of the four fingers on my right hand. To the left of the line was the remaining nail, to the right of the line...soft, squishy, raw exposed skin...ouch.

The bad news was that tomorrow I have a really important meeting...and in case you've never noticed, I gesticulate...alot..... so if I have bad hands, it gets noticed. ugh. Once in the car, I made an emergency appointment at the nail salon.

I'm not sure which was worse, the injury, or the repair. I should've done a couple shots of Tequila before my appointment. Regardless, my girls pulled through and if you saw my hands now, you'd never know what happened.....

Maybe Panther has the right idea after all....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How do I get roped into these things??

Isn't it funny how some ideas sound really, really fun after several rounds of drinks??

Take for example a couple months ago at a Girls Night Out with the ladies of the neighborhood (read: bunch of moms, glad to be away from home for an evening and drinking heavily at the country club), the GNO committee was brainstorming about the next event and what to do. Someone mentioned a fashion show. Someone else said outside by the pool. And the next thing you know, it is going to be a Bathing Suit Fashion show! (I think the drink of the night that night was Mexican Martini's...but I'm kinda fuzzy on the details....hmmmm.)

Now that by itself, is not such a bad idea, right? Well, as the drinks continued to flow, somehow the subject of who was going to model the suits came can see where this is headed, right? Sometime later that evening, I was on the hook to a model...oh lord. My conditions were these (as were told to me a couple weeks later when I was reminded of my commitment):

1. I will get to wear a wrap/skirt/coverup with each outfit

2. I will get free drinks...all night.

3. Said free drinks will commence being served at least one hour before show time.

So instead of a bike workout, I got liquored up with my gal pals of the neighborhood and strutted our stuff while trying not to fall into the pool in our FMHs. This I know for certain, the ladies on America's Next Top Model make it look a whole lot easier than it really is!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

LoveFest '07 aka "The Danskin Race Report"

The Danskin -- it is a different race all to its own.

The best thing about the Danskin is that it is a giant love fest. Everyone is excited to be there, everyone's polite and supportive and it's an all women race, so there are women of ALL shapes and sizes out racing - which just freakin ROCKS!

The worst thing about the Danskin is that it is a giant love fest. How are you supposed to put your competitors in your sights and beat them down, when everytime someone says "On your left", the response back is "Oh Sorry! You Go Girl! Looking Great!". The swim start which in other races typically features enough elbowing, ankle grabbing and swimming over one another to make the Texas RollerGirls get fired instead replaced by comments like "Are you doing ok?" or "Sorry, I bumped you!".

But what keeps me coming back year after year (this was my 4th) was the You Go Girls, the 60+ year-old ladies who are rocking and rolling, the wave of fabulous, strong, brave Cancer survivors, and especially all the ladies who 12-weeks ago probably couldn't do a 10-minute run but were there today running across the finish line holding hands or pumping fists in the air while tears and sweat ran down their faces. They are all there...swimming, biking, running...proving to the world that if you set your mind to it, there ain't nothing you can't do! It's nirvana for the cheerleader in me.

Race day for me started out well as on the drive over (at the crack ass of dawn..ugh.) the Gwen Stefani song "Ain't No Hollaback Girl" came on. Perfect for me to get my game face on. After the ensuing logistical gymanstics to actually get to the race site (actually it was a lot better this year...I think they've finally finetuned the whole park/shuttle thing), I settled in to my typical pre-race activities (read: hit the potty 3- 5 times within 40 minutes...) and tried to get mentally prepared.

Ran in to Joey who had scouted the course and told me that after turning off of Decker to stay left on those back roads to find the smoothest pavements during all the construction. (Thanks Joey for the heads up!)

I was in wave #12, so I had some time to mill around and watch the elites power through the water and take in all the nervous excitement of those getting ready to go. When our wave was called, I found my favorite spot for the swim start...front, outside lane... and let Sally take us through our pre-race cheers as we waited for our start. It was great...lots of high fives and nervous smiling.... I took a moment and just looked at the other ladies in the wave and was proud of every one of them for having the will to show up today. The count down started and then we were on our way!! Hooray!

The most challenging part of the Danskin swim for me is the traffic. We were probably only 100 in before I started running into the back end of the previous wave. There were noodles everywhere, folks on their backs, folks on their sides, etc. My biggest fear was getting kicked in the head by a breast stroker (happened in '05 -- goggles filled with water, etc....). I tried to find open water where I could and swim strong. I ended up mostly swimming on the very inside lane so that I could have room to go around people as I needed.

There was one gal in my swim wave that was ahead of me around mid-way and so I settled in behind her feet and let her do the work of finding the path through the swimmers. This proved to be much easier as she was basically slicing a path and all I had to do was follow!! Turned out to have a decent swim, 0:16:48. Not my best out there (2005 was 0:16:06), but I'll take it.

On my way to T1, I heard from the crowd in a familiar voice, "GO MOMMY!". It was Team Schaffner (Big Daddy and the boyz)! Shay was sitting on Scott's shoulders waving his arms wildly while Scott was holding Devon in his arms who looked a little confused (I'm not sure if he recognized me since I still had my swim cap on....). It was great to see them and I knew it took quite the effort to get them up at the crack of dawn, loaded into the car with all their gear and then the mile+ walk with the double stroller from the parking lot to the race, so I was VERY APPRECIATIVE!! And it definitely put a spring in my step.

Went quickly through T1 and hopped on my bike and took off, BANG! My cycling goal for this race was to break through my speed barrier. I've been kinda stuck at the 18.5 mph range for awhile, and I'd really like to be at 20.

So my two-part plan was this:
1. To just go "One More Click". I think what happens is I get comfortable at a good cadence, but not a big enough gear. But just going one more click isn't THAT much least that's what I'm telling myself.

2. Balls out on the Flats and Downhills. Biggest gear, turn it hard and GO!

So, I started the bike with those two goals in mind. I was going pretty hard on a slight uphill when I saw Ramsay on the side of the road cheering folks on. It put a smile on my face and when I got closer I yelled, "HI RAMSAY!" She jumped up and down, waving and smiling said "HI DIONN!" and quickly went from supporter to coach, put a grimace on her face and said "You shouldn't be talking....WORK HARDER!" (I love coaches who kick my ass!) Right, I thought to back in my aeros and went back to work...HARD!

The rest of the ride was thankfully uneventful. I did have to yell "on your left" a couple times, but in Danskin tradition, the gals moved over quickly and yelled some encouragement back at me.

Saw Jack ( at a corner and heard him yell, "PRIMETIME!!" as I went by. I smiled (always good to have eye candy on the course)...but then got back to working HARD! There was a beautiful stretch of brand new pavement on the highway that they were working I made sure to take advantage of it and pushed as hard as I could. I knew the good runners would come hawk me down, so I really tried to leave it all on the bike.

When I got back for T2, my legs were good and tired!! After a quick T2, I began ominously be heading out the wrong direction for the run start (what a rookie mistake...), quickly turned around and headed in the right direction and hoped it was not a harbinger of things to come on the run. Headed out the chute and got some more yells from Team Schaffner! Big Daddy said I was looking strong! WOOOT! (Yea, but did I look cute???)

First the first mile, I really focused on short, quick steps. I could hear Coach Carolyn in my mind saying "turnover, turnover". I didn't feel like I was running fast, but I forcefully kept my stride short and my cadence up.

It always takes me at least the first mile to get my running legs back under me...and this race was no exception. Hit the first mile stop and got a cheer from Malinda who was volunteering! Woot! And just then I was starting to remember what it felt like to run and so I picked up my pace...after all, this was the second set of the run, and this is where you work hard....

Hit the long grassy downhill and watched the cyclists battling uphill. Folks giving each other encouragement to just keep spinning, keep spinning up that hill. Shouts of "Go Bikers" from the runners and "Go Runners" from the bikers.....a big love was awesome.

I took advantage of the downhill and just opened it up and let gravity do its thing. I pretty much did the controlled falling down the hill thing and it felt great to moving quickly. At the bottom, I made the turn and began the mental preparation for that freakin' hill by the dam.

The IronChick coaches were all along the hill, encouraging everyone to just keep going, keep going....get to the top then it's once around the track and you are DONE!. I just put my head down and kept chugging away. Got to the top and you can see the finish line and all the supporters....HOORAY!

Picked up the pace as best I could (cheated my lengthening my stride....what the heck are long legs for if you don't use them, right??) and headed home. Tried to find any extra gear I had left, but I had pretty much left everything out on the race today, so I was ok with that.

Heard more cheers from Team Schaffner and realized I had just a little more I could give and so I put it out there and accelerated through the finish. Check my watch...... 1:21! Hell YA!

Official times:
Swim: 0:16:48
Bike: 0:36:25 (21.4 mph)
Run: 0:25:18 (8:09)

Total Time: 1:21:38

A total PR for me! Hooray! I was also really pumped about my bike pace, I finally broke through! (Although, I wonder if the construction changed the total mileage...cause I'm not sure I was going that fast....but it definitely felt faster than before..) And my run pace was my best so far as well! I ended up placing 4th in my age group (damn...just out of the money!), but I felt really good about the race. The top gal finished in I don't think it was a slouchy group this year. I was also 24 out of 2601...even managed to beat the times of a couple elites....and all before 10:00am. Not a bad morning at all....

Friday, June 8, 2007

Making Mansfield My Bizatch

Mansfield Open Water -- you have no hold on me...puhlease!

Yes, it is true in May I was your whipping girl. I jumped in, you chewed me up and spit me out before I even knew what was happening. But not this time...I was ready for your punk ass.

I made a plan, worked on my mental issues and was going to take you head on. You tried to psych me out by having the awesome, fabulous, super-studette Desiree check in right behind me, but I held it together. You even threw a ton of extra water in the lake so the cove didn't even look familiar...but I was hip to your game.

I waded into the water with the rest of the field spotting Desiree and the other flying fish lining up at the start. I mentally went to my happy place and physically wandered out to the outside edge and aimed my nose at the first buoy.

Ruth gave our official countdown "3--2--1---GO!" and we were off for three laps around the cove.

Between the start and the first turn, I just focused on finding some open space to swim and feeling good about breathing in my wetsuit and not letting it strangle me (or at least feel like it). After the first turn, the field begins to spread out and there's plenty of room to stroke.

I typically break my distances into 3 sets -- a warmup, main set, and big finish (yes -- even in a race). In this particular instance, I decided to use the laps as each set. So the first lap, I was content with just getting comfortable in the water...not swimming at a warmup pace per se, but at a comfortable endurance pace.

When I hit the turn to begin the second lap, I mentally tell myself, here's where the real work begins. So let's swim "hard" for one lap. I focused on getting a nice long, gliding stroke, a good catch, acceleration through the S pull and a momentive recovery to have strong front quadrant swimming. Half way through the lap, I do a quick dashboard check. Water temp -- good. Check. Breathing -- full. Check. Fuel -- 3/4 of a tank. Check. Goggles -- fogged. Oh well. And then I run over a bush in the water! ACK! Gross, get it off me...aaahhhhh!! Heart rate elevates momentarily.... Mansfield is trying to get ME!! Focus, focus... Note to Self: try to avoid that damn bush next time around...

Final lap. Time to turn on the jets and swim ! (an exclamation mark says "BANG" in my head when used in this way (a holdover from software development nomenclature I think...) and it means "Balls to the Wall" or "Flat Out!"). So now I want to feel the acceleration through the water with every stroke. I want to hear the "whoosh" under the water as I do my pull and feel the wake around me as I rotate and try to be as streamlined in the water at all possible times. I also sound the signal to my body "Engage Propellers!!" and actually start to kick a little. (I rarely, rarely ever kick when I legs are usually just along for the ride..hanging out..being a rudder when necessary...).

I haven't been passed by Desiree so I'm feeling pretty good at this point. I see Summer Frace ahead of me and focus on closing the gap. We're rounding the second buoy, but she also has another gear and kicks it in. I can't even catch up to her to draft. Damn. Oh well, I'm sure there's someone behind me thinking the same thing, so I'd better quit jabbering and giddyup! Pull, breathe, pull, breathe...almost there. Pull, breathe, pull, breathe. AAAHHHH, that damn bush again! Shit! Get off me, get off me!! I turn around the bend and head into the finish.

I stand up out the water and Ruth says "Dionn?!" I'm sure she was quite surprised to see me, given my last performance there. She jots my number on the paper and I glance at my watch.... 0:25:08. Take that MANSFIELD and shove it right up your cove!! Ha, HA! Who's your Daddy Now??? (Granted the water was MUCH warmer than my first debacle, but you have to celebrate your small wins from time to time and get some confidence back after it gets trashed so know?)

Turns out I was about 6 minutes behind the first place finisher (Kelly Handel at :19:11...holy crap! that's fast!) and a little over 3 minutes behind Desiree (:21:59). I'll freakin take that in a m---f--- heartbeat! WOOT!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Day in the Life....

This is how my Tuesday went...a typical day in the Schaffner household:

1:00AM - Bedtime for mommy. Sometimes the best time to write software is in the nighttime when the rest of the house is asleep and the emails barely trickle in..

5:55AM - Wake to the sound of Big Daddy (husband Scott) having a morning pee..went back to sleep

6:00AM - what is that sound that is waking me up now.....Scott STILL peeing? Good lord!...back to sleep

7:00AM - Rise and Shine. Big Daddy is back from his morning swim and hits the showers. (He's training for the Couples Tri...YEAH!) I'm up and at 'em, check email and calendar and make the PofA (Plan of Action) for the day.

7:30AM - Wake Big Little Man (Shay - Age 6) since he has summer camp this morning. He wants waffles for breakfast. Thank goodness for Eggos. Set him up at the breakfast table and watching The Magic School Bus. Big Daddy makes Shay's lunch for Camp, gets his backpack all ready to go and feeds the dogs.

7:45AM - Wake Lil Man (Devon - Age 2). He's still sleepy so I change his diaper in his crib to give him a few more precious moments with his pacifier (only allowed at night time...we are weaning....). Scoop him up and carry him downstairs, still groggy and half asleep on my shoulder. He perks up when he sees that Shay is up and watching The Magic School Bus..and agrees to sit and have some breakfast too. No waffles...he wants Kix.

7:55AM - Big Daddy gives kisses all around and heads off to work. Shower time for mommy while the boys are having breakfast.

8:00AM - (Very short shower) The 20-Min countdown clock is ON! I've got 20 minutes to get 3 people dressed, ready for public viewing and into the car. Hustle upstairs and pick out clothes for the boys. Instruct Shay to finish eating and get dressed. I throw on some clothes, hair in a ponytail, cap, tennis shoes..done. Tackle Lil Man (as he always thinks its fun to run from me when obviously we are in a hurry...) and perform olympic-level wrestling maneuvers and manage to get him out of his pajamas and into clothes, shoes and socks.

8:10AM - Dole out toothbrushes to the boys and set the toothbrush timer (2 minutes). Quickly check email to see which calls I need to make in the car during the commute.

8:12AM - Follow up toothbrushing on both boys (you know they try, but don't do the best of jobs....). Wash faces, spray water on the boys' hair, a touch of hair gel and voila! (Don't know what they hell I'd do if I ever have a girl....)

8:14AM - Throw a Creamy Chocolate Slimfast in the microwave (breakfast of champions don't you know)....I don't like the way they taste cold, but its almost like hot chocolate if you heat it up..go figure. Announce that we are leaving in ONE MINUTE!

8:15AM - Grab shake from microwave, circle the house turning off lights, locking doors, picking up breakfast dishes, instructing boys to grab their backpacks and shepherding everyone out to the car

8:20AM - Everyone's buckled up and we are pulling out! (Yes it takes 5 minutes to get out of the house and into the car...I know....)

8:50 - Battle traffic and arrive downtown at Zachary Scott Theater for Shay's Summer Camp (yes, he's at Hip Hop Camp this week!). Drop Shay off, then turn around and head back home...traffic sucks.

9:20 - Finally arrive back home with Lil Man. Commence cleaning house because today is our day to host Devon's playgroup in about a half hour. A wild pack of about 6-8 two year olds.

10:00 - Playgroup commences...all hell breaks loose....but everyone has a good time and many, many goldfish are consumed. Because that's how the Lil Man rolls.

11:30 - Playgroup ends (thankfully). Quick cleanup, then it's off to Daycare for Lil Man so mommy can get some work done.

11:45-4:15 - Mommy works

4:15 - Crap...not enough hours in the day. I've got to blast. First I have to pack snacks for Devon and Shay for the after-camp/daycare munch fest in the car. Also need to pack their jammies since they are going to GG's (grandma) house so I can train. Big Daddy working late tonight.

4:25 - Running late! Hurry and pick up Devon from daycare and then headout to go downtown to pick up Shay.

4:30 - Come to a screeching halt on 2222....bad traffic accident...road is completely shut down both ways. Now what...quick assessment of the situation...time to go to Plan B. Execute a U-turn on 2222 (Yukon Denali XL + bike rack - not easy to do, but the Yukons have the best turning radius in their class) and head down 360 instead.

5:15 - Finally arrive at Zachary Scott...only a few minutes away from being charged with a late pick up fee. Grab Shay and start to roll to GGs in Oak Hill. Boys dig into snacks. Traffic is a NIGHTMARE.

5:40 - Finally arrive at GG's in Oak Hill...boys jump out and run in...I throw the PJ bag in mom's house and thank her profusely as I jump back in the car and head out. Traffic sucks even more on 71! I'm going to be late....again...

5:55 - Driving down Barton Springs I see the running group headed towards Garner...shit...maybe I should just bag the group workout and run the trails instead. Plan C.

6:00 - Throw my keys in the annex as Ruth is describing to another runner how to get to Garner...what the hell, I guess I'll go and show her how to get there.

6:10-ish - Finally arrive, meet Stephanie and start the workout. I end up doing 4 repeats, one because I'm late and it would not be fair to make Stephanie wait on me while I finish and two I should be tapering a bit for this weekend anyway I suppose. We finish up and head back to the Annex.

7:30 - Depart Annex for GGs house to grab some dinner and pick up the boys. Drive through Golden Chick for THE best chicken tenders in Austin, fries and a 32-oz Dr. Pepper (Dinner of champions...I know...)

8:30 - Eat at GGs, watch America's Funniest Home Videos with the boyz and GG then shepherd everyone back into the car to head home. The boyz are tired...mommy's tired...GG's tired too.

9:00PM - Get home and take the boyz upstairs to bed. Potty, brush teeth, potty again. Big Daddy arrives home from work dinner, feeds the dogs and then joins us upstairs. Both boys climb into the top bunk of Shay's bunk beds. We turn on the trains (we have a double train track suspended from the ceiling in Shay's room -- it's really cool....), turn out the lights, give kisses all around...and the boys fall quickly asleep to the soothing lights and sounds of the trains running....

9:30PM - Big Daddy and I sit in the kitchen and compare notes from the day...everybody's tired, there's no basketball on tonight and I don't feel like we decide to just call it a day.

10:30PM - Take a few moments to develop the PofA for Wednesday, then lights out. Whew.

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Nemesis & My First DNF

I have met my nemesis, and it's name is "Cold Water". Yes, I am absolutely horrible in the cold water. No, I don't swim at Barton Springs. Hell, I don't even do Deep Eddie. It's just not me.

So normally, given that we live in fabulous Austin, it isn't an issue....except for CapTex and the newly added Austin Triathlon in September.

I recorded my first ever DNF in an event at the first Rogue Open Water Swim on May 5th. After "swimming" the first 200m or so, I just could not deal. The cold water just took my breath away. I felt like my wetsuit was strangling me and all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of the water. It got to a point where I couldn't even put my face in the water to swim 2 strokes. Couldn't even breast stroke!!! All I could think about was how quickly I could get out of the water and quit. So I did..after 1 lap. Terrible. Pitiful really. There were plenty of folks swimming along their merry way....some even without wetsuits. So it wasn't like it was THAT cold!! I got out of the water and stood at the finish and watched all the TRUE triathletes and swimmers finish. I felt like I needed to stand there with a scarlet Q on my wetsuit and take my punishment like a big girl.

I was in disbelief of myself. I can't remember the last time I quit on something or backed down from a challenge (that was within reason of course....). Am I turning soft in my old age? Has motherhood weakened my resolve? What the hell?? Very, very discouraging...or perhaps humbling? Hmmmmm....

So following that debacle, I had to put a plan in place to address my nemesis. (I always have a PofA -- Plan of Action).

Step 1: Identify the issue (or sub-issues)
Was it really a cold water issue? Or was it a wetsuit issue? Or maybe even an open water issue?
I didn't think it was open water, because I've done several of those and never thought twice about it. Hell, my goggles usually fog up so quickly in the pool or open water, I can never see anything anyway -- so murky waters make no difference.

Wetsuit? Definitely felt a little constrained by my suit when I was trying to catch my breath from the cold, so that may have contributed...need to verify.


Step 2: Make a plan with specific goals to address each issue
2.1 Wetsuit Issue - isolate the wetsuit issue, I'm gonna have to swim in my wetsuit in warmer temps to make sure I'm cool with the suit
2.2 Cold Water - in a non-race environment, I'll need to swim in increasing cooler temp waters

Step 3: Execute in controlled conditions
2.1 Wetsuit - So, I headed down to the outdoor pool at the neighborhood pool. The water temp was respectable, so I could isolate my sub-issue nicely. I'm sure I looked like a dork swimming in my wetsuit there at 10am, but what the hell - I've got issues to be resolved!

So I get suited up and proceed to swim. My suit is a little tight (which I'm sure it is supposed to be)...but I discovered that if I focus on breathing from my diaphragm, there seems to be a little more give in the suit. When I tried to take big breaths my really expanding my lungs and opening up the chest, I could really feel the restriction of the wetsuit. But belly breathing -- just like they teach you in cheerleading (see, it's not all just about looking cute), I could really pull some good air in. Cool. Mental note: when freaking out in cold water and feeling like wetsuit is strangling me -- breathe from the belly.

2.2 Cold Water - Barton Springs, here I come! So I coerced/recruited/begged some gals to go swim with me after our morning run workout with Carolyn. I was in desperate need of moral support and thankfully Malinda was gracious enough to oblige.

So we go down there after our run and I'm doing mental gymnastics trying to psych myself into this craziness. Reminding myself how many Austinites swim in the frigid temps on a regular basis. As I'm standing at the water's edge in my wetsuit, this 60+ year old lady in her grandma bathing suit, snorkel and mask gingerly wades into the water, pauses momentarily to adjust her snorkel and then simply slides into the water and swims away. And there I stood....on dry land....willing my feet to take me into the water. Another swimmer comes walking by, a gentleman in some tight swimming shorts, with just his goggles in his hand. He calmly walks to the ramp, straps his goggles on, takes a couple of deep breaths, wades a few steps into the water and then quickly dives in...submerging everything. He stands up after gliding under water briefly and gives a blustery exhale and states, "wooo! That's cold!". (Great.) Then dives in again and swims off. And there I stood....on dry land...willing my feet to take me into the water.

"C'mon Dionn" Malinda says, "it's not gonna be that bad." Of course it isn't. And I've got CapTex in a few weeks, so I have to get this done. So, I wade into the water. F*CK. It's cold. I keep wading. Now the water is trickling through the zipper in the back of the wetsuit. Oy. That's cold. But as I stand there and kinda wander around in the shallows, my body slowly starts to adjust to the temp. I splash some water on my exposed arms...goose bumps immediately rise....but it isn't too terrible. I squat down in the water some more and feel more of the water seeping through the zipper... a little chilly, but I'm still breathing normally. That's good. I splash some water on my face...feels a little refreshing actually. Splash some more...becoming one with the with the coldness. I can do this.

Some people count down when they are getting ready to go, like "3--2--1--GO!" Or if you have kids, you count up before someone really gets in trouble like "1----2----". The thing that makes me move is the 8 count -- something engraved in my soul from my dancing days. When I hear "5, 6, 7, 8", I know I have to go on the next beat. So, I said a silent prayer and then mentally heard the 8-count without even knowing I was doing, "5,6,7,8" and then I was streamlining under the water. I surfaced for my first breathe on the left, put my face back in the water, pulled four long strokes, breathed again, pulled 6 and what do you know, I was swimming!!!! Hooray!!! No rapid increase of the heartrate. No constricting of the chest muscles. No feeling like my suit was suffocating me. I was swimming!! Made it all the way down to the end (I did experience a momentary heartrate increase when I started swimming through all those crazy plants...but I quickly moved to the center of the springs so I didn't have to touch that stuff or wonder what was moving around down in there.....), turned around and came back. Voila!

It felt good. Felt good to swim. Felt even better to swim in cold water without panicking! After two more laps, I got out having met my main goal for the adventure.

Step 4: Execute in Race Condition
Fortunately, prior to CapTex, I would have another chance at swimming at Mansfield at the Austin Triathletes Open Water swim on May 20th. I arrived early with partner in crime, Shorey so that I could make my traditional 3-5 bathroom breaks prior to the swim start.
Shorey does the right thing and gets in a does a warmup in the water. I chose not to...I didn't want to give myself any wiggle room to get in and get out and potentially not get back in again. Plus, I never warm up...I know I should...but I just don't. Additionally, there wasn't going to be any "racing" for me....I just wanted to actually do the distance without having to be pulled from the lake cause I was having a mental breakdown. oy.

So, our wave gets in for the wet start. Surprisingly, the water temp felt like it had warmed up considerably in the last few weeks. (There IS a higher power!) The water actually felt good! I scooch over to the outside --- I thought if I was farther from shore, I'd be less tempted to bug out. They start us off and we're all swimming away.

I could tell I was still a little bit ancy and so I chose to breathe every 2 vs. my usual every 4...I figured the more oxygen the better. In the beginning, I could feel my wetsuit closing in on me, so I remembered to belly breathe and I felt like that gave me more room. I picked a nice pace that wasn't going to bring my heartrate up, but I also didn't want to have to stay in the water any longer than necessary, so I didn't dawdle.

I tagged along to the bubbles of someone in front of me, because as usual, I couldn't see crap. The buoys were visible every now and again through a small, unfogged, speck of a spot on my right lens. So between the bubbles and the orange blob, I seemed to make my way around the one mile loop. I had definitely felt the pack thinning, but I wasn't sure if that was because I was ahead or behind.

Turns out, I was kinda ahead! Go figure! Ended up 2nd in my age group. BONUS! I was just thankful that I made it in and out!! On to CapTex!!!

I have to apologize to all the CapTex participants and volunteers out there because I actually prayed for rain on Monday morning. I even verbally disclosed it to my husband, so the idea was out there floating in space just waiting for Karma to come grab it up....and it did. So while I was kinda bummed that the race was cancelled, I was somewhat relieved that I didn't have to brave the chilliness of Town Lake after all. But I guess there is always September. Ugh.