Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Trail Run

Wow! What a crazy, busy Thanksgiving week I had! I'll spare you the details and just provide a quick summary of events!

It began innocently enough with a trip to (gasp!) Houston to visit my sister. I piled the boys in the big rig and set out to add even more pollution to the Houston air. (Yes, I know my carbon footprint is atrocious..but how else can I fit 2-4 kids, 400 pounds of dogs, groceries, 4-6 bicycles and a burlee? Show me a hybrid that can do that and I'm all over it!)

We had a blast playing at Auntie's house and getting to trash her playroom instead of ours for once! Since my nephew was out of school for the week as well, we brought him back to Austin with us for a few days! Now how does that work...leave with 2 come back with 3???

We had some GLORIOUS weather, so I figured the best thing to do with three rowdy boys on a day off from school....HIT THE TRAILS! WOO HOO! This time we decided to bike around Lady Bird, so the big boys mounted up and the Devonater settled into the Burlee for a nice leisurely adventure.

I figured we'd just do the four-mile loop and stop to feed the ducks on the way.

Which all seemed well and good and then these guys showed up! BONUS!

I love how the Devonator was the only one not scared of them! After our loaf a bread was gone, we mounted up. The boys asked how far we were going to go and I told them 4 miles. Then I made the mistake of showing them the mile markers on the trail. So then they were all excited to ride up to the "4" marker. Of course at this point I didn't want to tell them that the four mile loop we don't actually get to go by the 4 marker since they seemed so excited.

So, I figured, if they can do 4, they can most certainly do 4.5-ish, right? So we rode up to the 4-mile marker and snapped a keepsake to show their friends.
Being the 6 and 7 year-olds that they are, they ask how long the trail is anyway. I tell them 10 miles. The cousins look at each other in awe and decided that they'd like to do 5 miles...since that is half of 10. Again I'm thinking to myself...ok, we get to the 5-mile marker, then we are going to have to turn around and come back another mile and a half or so to the car at the annex. Can they do 6-7 miles? They plead with me, "Please mommy!" "Please Auntie!" Who am I to deny youngsters such athletic endeavors?? We push on!The boys did great! They made it all the way! The last leg back to the car, however, was definitely the most challenging. My nephew said "I think my legs are going to fall off!". Poor little guys. They made it back and literally fell into their carseats. Shay said "I don't want to do anything except go home, get something to drink, sit on the couch and watch cartoons."

Why, that's exactly how I feel after a long run. Good times.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The LAB -- Attempt #1

So, this was my first attempt at the LAB and I think it went pretty well. I still haven't mastered the breakfast issue as half way through the 16 miles I had to make a pit stop, but that may be something I just need to factor into the pacing and schedule for the race.

We started at the ass crack of dawn with the fearsome foursome of Michael, Dave, Nick and I. After our pace group of 3:45 began our so-called warmup, we quickly ran up into the back of the group ahead of us. Um...that's not so good. Turns out we were doing faster than MGP for our warm up. WTF? That doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. So after the first half-mile and much debate, we dialed our pace down to an acceptable warm up pace.

Nick was his usual talkative self, which is nice when some of us aren't really morning people, so to have someone entertain you is great! The new LAB course is relatively flat with a short, slight uphill, then down it...then mostly flat until you hit the back side which is a LONG slight uphill that felt like about a mile long. But the good news is that you get to go down that as you come into the finish of the loop. Overall, I thought it was a great course, well marked (except with think mile 4 was a little short and the first half mile marker was early...) and hardly any traffic.

After our warm up lap, we tried to hone in on our target pace of 8:30. Technically, according to the pace calculator, my MGP is 8:20..but the boys were shooting for 8:30 and since this was the first lab, I figured hey, works for me too..that's still at 3:45.

Other than our fastest half mile coming on the backside uphill (I blame Nick, he likes to charge the hills...), I think we were pretty consistent. We all tried some shot blocks at the start of the 3rd loop and we gave them a Thumbs Up. (It was the orange flavor..they are good!). I had to make a pit stop in mile 1 of the 3rd loop and was very glad I did because I felt SO much better afterwards! It would've been not very much fun had I not, that's for damn sure.

So here's what I have on my watch for our paces....
Mile 1 -- 9:30
Mile 2 -- 9:11
Mile 3 -- 9:03
Mile 4 -- 8:35 (we think this mile was marked short)
Mile 5 -- 8:19
Mile 6 -- 8:29 (included water stop)
Mile 7 -- 8:28
Mile 8 -- 9:00 (included water and shot block stop)
Mile 9 -- 9:47 (included pit stop)
Mile 10 -- 8:22
Mile 11 -- 8:24
Mile 12 -- 9:36 (included water and gu stop)
Mile 13 -- 8:14
Mile 14 -- 8:50 (included water stop)
Mile 15 -- 8:22
Mile 16 -- 7:18 (we did pick up the pace for the last mile because everyone was feeling good, but also it is measured short)

So, I think the total time was like 2:18.32 which is a 8:39 pace including all the stops which I think is like a 3:46:40 marathon. (OMG! Like how many times can I say "like"? And I'm all...and she's all...) But I liked that our actual paces during the MGP miles were all between 8:20 and 8:30 which is exactly what we wanted.

I've got some work to do between now and February to get that down to my current goal pace of 8:20 which would be a 3:38 marathon and that would leave me with some wiggle room for pit stops if need be (and I'm sure I will need them!)

Afterwards we had our traditional celebratory breakfast (Panther, Meep, JJ, Jane, Ryze Kryzpy, Triscuit, Driver, Mom and I) that turned into a pub crawl complete with blind taste testing of Miller Lite vs. Bud Light. (I think Miller Lite won....sorry Kris!!). You know it was getting rowdy when not once, not twice, but 5 times the waitress tried to seat folks in the booth next to where we were and they ALL REQUESTED TO BE MOVED!

Cause that's how we roll people.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

what do you do? Swimming, swimming...

Based upon nothing but my own experience from last season, I've started adding a Long Swim to my workout schedule. I mean for the bike and run, we do quality and then a long version, right? So shouldn't that work for the swim? It's pretty much what I did this past tri season and it usually put me somewhere in the top 5 coming out of the water, so I can't be all that bad.

Yesterday, I strapped it on and did my longest non-stop swim ever, 2500 yards. I just checked into my easy, forever pace and swam. And damn, did it feel good.

I know all you runners and duathletes are out there like swimming freakin' sux, I hate drinking other people's pee (although I'm still confused why you are drinking so much pool water while swimming Panther..), yada, yada. But I really enjoy it. You can settle into a rhythm, let your mind wander (or clear, whatever the day calls for) and just reach, pull, push...reach, pull, push...reach, pull, push...reach, pull, push, breathe...repeat. The sound of the water rushing past your ears, the freedom of floating weightlessly, the gentle caress of the water sliding from your fingertips to your toes....seriously, what's not to like? (in my opinion...)

Anyway, here are my paces:

1st 500 yards (457m) -- 8:50
2nd 500 -- 8:39
3rd 500 -- 8:38
4th 500 -- 8:36
5th 500 -- 8:30

I had a blast!

Followed that with a Blue Jacket workout of Panther's Ladder at the Austin High track.
400 w/200 recovery
800 w/400 recovery
1600 w/400 recovery
800 w/400 recovery

at HMGP of 7:55. Nick and I nailed our pace and it felt great!

Awesome workout day! WOO HOO!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


...you can ride a Mastiff like a horse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Distribution Requirements

While I try not to "overschedule" my kids (although as a youngster I was totally overscheduled and loved every damn minute of it), I have tried to get them involved in a couple of extra-curricular activities that let them sample different things.

For some reason, I have this view of "balance" and want to make sure that we participate in different genres of activities...something in athletics, something in fine arts..stuff like that. Kind of like what we called at Stanford "Distribution Requirements". You had to have take a certain amount of units in each of the departments so you come out nice and well rounded. I'm sure most schools have the same sort of thing...

This fall in the athletics department, Shay chose soccer again. And in fact, he's pretty damn good at it. He's not the fastest one on the team, but has excellent foot work. When there's a scrum and all the kids are grouped up kicking at the ball, he usually ends up popping out the other side with it!

In the fine arts department, I let Shay choose to either play an instrument or take a dance/theater class. He chose the dance class. (Of course I was thrilled!!) It's this great Hip-Hop, Tap and Jazz class for BOYS ONLY called "Just for Kix". With his great foot work, I figured tap would be right up his alley. PLUS, alot of the great NFL receivers took dance, so it should help on many levels! (I took a ballet class at Stanford that was audited by none other than the great Jerry Rice a couple times. The man has NICE foot work!)

And while I'm sure many of you guys reading this are rolling your eyes...(poor kid, having to take DANCE, they are going to kick his ass at school), check out this video. It's not from Shay's class, but it is a hysterical close facsimile. These kids are WORKING IT OUT! And you know what they say about guys who dance well... I'm not saying...I'm just saying...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How NOT to PR (aka EAS 10-Miler Race Report)

Sometimes you just have to prove to yourself why you DON'T do certain things...just to make sure you don't forget them again. Scratch that, no excuses. Here's what I will remember for next time.

1. Pre-Race Nutrition is important. Yes, go figure. It is probably a good idea to eat more than 4 digits worth of calories in total for the two days prior to a race.

2. Pre-Race Sleep is important. Yes, go figure. It is probably a good idea to sleep more than a total of 8 hours for the two days prior to a race.

3. Nutrition during the race is important. Yes, go figure. It is probably a good idea to replenish at some point during a 13-mile run. Also, water during that time is also a bonus!! Duh.

Sometimes a race is more about mental fortitude than about physical endeavor. This was one of those races for me. That being said, the course was challenging, but not surprising. We've been all over this course in our training so fortunately I knew what to expect. The wind was a great little twist to throw in there as well. I knew I didn't physically prepare appropriately for this race, but I was committed and it was going to happen. Nothing to do, but put one foot in front of the other and "get 'er done!"

During our little 3 mile warmup with Panther et al, Panther asked me, "how you doing?" I replied, "not so good today". "Oh boy" was his response. Oh boy, indeed. I went to pick up my race bib (see, I hadn't even done that...sheesh D...), got suited up and lined up (after a final potty stop, of course...). I weaved my way into the starting chute in a place I thought was appropriate for my goal pace of 7:48. I didn't see any of my regular pace cronies, but I figured it was just going to be that kind of a day anyway and popped my earbuds on and lined up my Go! playlist, but didn't turn it on yet.

The gun went off and it took about a minute to cross the start line. I didn't have to do too much weaving and running around to find some open space to run in once we turned onto Cesar Chavez. (Thank you race directors!)

Within the first mile, I knew it wasn't going to be a 10-mile goal pace day, so I tried to dial into my half-marathon pace, which I figured which is what I was really going to end up running anyway following the warm up.

It was GREAT to see Wiley early and often on the course. His white boy attempt at "Woot"-ing always brings a smile to my face. And speaking of often, HOW MANY GLENDA'S DID YOU SEE? I felt like I was in a Where is Waldo repeat. I swear I saw her 4 maybe 5 times! But I never saw her pass me on the road on her bike anywhere. I would see her, pass her by and then 3 miles later, there she was again! I don't think she's being writing gaming software, she's been working on a teleportation device disguised as her bike. Thanks Glenda, you were awesome!

It was also fantastic to see Ruth and Steve out on the course. It was even humorous to watch the paces of all the Rogues go up everytime they came into view and then settle back down once we got past them. Cracking me up!

Throughout the race, I followed the ABC plan and just reeled 'em in and picked them off as best I could. I also had a fun little cat and mouse game with a gal in a red bandana and two pigtails...it was a fun way to pass the miles. (She beat me in the end tho...damn.) I really miss having the ages on the leg like they do in triathlon...nothing like knowing exactly who (whom?) you are up against or who (whom?) you can go ahead and let pass you on by. Well, I guess I'm supposed to be running my own race anyway, right? Ooops...(hard to reign in that competitive spirit all the time...)

So my current half-marathon pace is supposed to be 7:55...but I couldn't even pull that together. I was just running on empty from the get go. I tried convincing my body to go and pull some of that stored energy I carry around on my backside (read: junk in my trunk) and use that for some fuel (for cripes sake), but I don't think it worked. So I just kept picking them up and putting them down, for the first time in a long time, just wanting to finish...not even worrying about finishing strong...just freakin finish. Even my tunes weren't picking me up like they usually do. Today it was just going to have to get done solo.

And I DID! Lord knows it wasn't pretty...by any stretch of the imagination...but it was done. Definitely a mind over matter kind of a morning. I skipped the cool down with the group and instead had a private pity party, downed a couple waters and pulled myself together.

Met up with the group afterwards for a great post-race tailgate. Big thanks to Gina for bringing the beers (even my fav: miller lite) and Wiley for ALL the chairs (this guy is PREPARED!). And we even had a guest appearance by Sisson and Ruth! It was actually just the thing I needed. You guys are awesome. Blue Thunder (and the Lightning Bolts of course) ROCK!

According to my watch, here are my paces by mile:

Mile 1: 7:59
Mile 2: 8:05
Mile 3: 8:12
Mile 4: 8:01
Mile 5: 8:11
Mile 6: 8:05
Mile 7: 7:50
Mile 8: 7:58
Mile 9: 7:51
Mile 10: 8:21

Official run-far times:
1st 5 miles: 40:31.3 (8:06/M)
2nd 5 miles: 40:06.6 (8:01/M)

Total Time: 1:20:37.9 (8:04/M)
AG Finish: 18th

So, didn't hit my 10-mile or my half-marathon pace, but was able to negative split...EVEN with just mailing in the last mile. (8:21...WTF?..... I was so done with the race at that point...)

It's good to know that I can dig deep and just finish if I need to....I have a scary feeling the last 8 of the marathon are kinda like that anyway! And technically, since this was my first 10-miler race ever, it was a PR. Good news is that next year I will TOTALLY PR!!!

Sigh...thank goodness that freakin' race is over. phew.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

School's Out for Summer!

Well...not really, but Shay did have an early release day yesterday (which means he gets out at noon), so what was originally conceived to be a "Mommy and Me" afternoon, turned into an all-out afternoon adventure with Shay and Friends!
Yes, that's Shay in back (being a good host and letting his friends right up front), the tow head next to him is Cameron and up front in the "cowboy seat" is Robert (the ONLY first grader to run the TITAN MILE...this kid is FAST!) and TJ.

We started out by going to see "The Bee Movie" which the boys loved and I thought was downright hysterical! It was replete with the voices of some of my fav stars including Jerry Seinfield, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Oprah Winfrey and a host of many others. It even included a great line about how it was all an evil plot to make us work for "The Man" that I know JJ would have thoroughly enjoyed!

It was a beautiful day and the boys were amped on popcorn and candy, so I figured we needed to run some of that off so we headed to the Zilker playground.
We did the requisite fire truck, music making and general mayhem on the playscapes. And then I was thinking...WTF.... I've got four rowdy boys...what the hell are we doing on this manicured playground? When I was this age, we would go exploring in the woods behind our house for HOURS... I loved the Deer Pond and those trails. The trails! Of course!!
So we scooted down to the greenbelt. The boys LOVED it! Naturally, the first thing they did was pick up some "walking sticks". (What is it with boys and sticks?)

We walked along the trail and saw lots of stuff, explored side trails, played explorers, investigated some scat and decided it was deer, heard some rustling in the bushes and wondered what kind of animal (friend or foe) it might have been...found a pond and threw rocks in it and tried to see who could make the highest splash and then the loudest splash and decided that big flat rocks make the best splashes....and no one fell in! whew.

Afterwards on the ride home, we listened to Shay's Lucky Seven CD mix and the boys rocked out to great tunes like "Real Gone" (from the movie cars), the Underdog Rapp (from the movie Underdog), did the Cha Cha Slide and then Party Like A Rockstar.

We were tired, dirty and hungry. Just the way you are supposed to end your day off from school, right? I'm pretty sure the boys had a blast...but truth be told, I think I might've had more fun than they did!

Thanks boyz...thanks Austin...it's great being a kid again!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mom's Suburban Race -- Race Report

This sunday I got to participate in one of my favorite race series, the Mom's Suburban Race! It is one of those wacky races where your team has to run around, execute a bunch of tasks and try to get them all done with precision and speed.

In this race series, you pretty much just get a list of all things you have to do and a certain amount of time to do it in....you get to figure out what to do first, where to go next, etc. And in addition to your immediate team members, you can request back up...but it is hit or miss as you can't be certain if the back up will be available.

Sunday's list included the following tasks to be completed under 3 hours:
- Eat lunch
- Run 10 miles, the last four of which are run hauling 50 pounds
- Wash, Dry and Fold as many loads of laundry as possible
- One team member must bowl, glo golf and rock climb for 2 hours
- Two team members must nap for at least 2 consecutive hours


Here's how it went down...

First, I started the first load of laundry.
Then while that was going, I wrestled one team member into his nap..

Fortunately, while this was happening, the other team member quickly jumped on the other task of taking a nap...CHECK!

Then I made a quick call to my back up to see if she could take my other team member to the birthday party for bowling, golfing and climbing (she was running the race too I think...). She agreed since we are on the way. Load team member into shuttle. CHECK.

Swap Laundry. Eat Lunch. CHECK!

Then I went out on a 4-mile loop. Returned to base camp. Swap Laundry. Fold. Check on nappers. Still napping. CHECK.

Facilitate return of team member from bowling, golfing and climbing excursion and debrief. Chat with other teams participating in the race, discuss strategies, success stories, etc.

Check on nappers. Still napping. Set up other team member on computer for "research" and other activites (like gaming on nick.com).

Run 2-mile loop. Return to base camp. Swap Laundry. Fold. Nappers have risen! Time for the final push.

For the final 4 miles of running, load one 40lb team member into 10lb sled/stroller, put one team member on BMX bike, other 2 team members on foot, set out for 4-mile loop pushing the 50 pounds. CHECK!

Return to base camp. Waters all around. One last fold of laundry and I'm DONE!

SWEET!!! Another successful Mom's Suburban Race completed! I ROCK!!! WOO HOO!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My First Wurst....it's a RIDE not a RACE...right.


This weekend I did my first EVER official cycling event (not as part of a tri or anything...just a bunch of cyclists), the WurstRide Metric Century. And let me tell you, I had a BLAST! No wonder you people get together and do these things when the come around. DUH!
The foursome of Lulu, Erin, Justin and I set out from Austin to ride to Schlitterbahn (well that's pretty much where we started and ended anyway...). Although Lulu continued to swear up and down that this was a "RIDE" and not a "RACE", Erin warned me that Lulu would go at a pretty quick clip anyway....and she was not lying! After the craziness of the start (at which point I just KNEW I was going to crash into somebody, not be able to clip out, having someone crash into me, yada, yada..luckily I escaped unscathed!), as soon as there was a little bit of open road, BANG goes Lulu!

I geared up and prayed for my endurance breakfast shake to start kicking in and just tried to keep up.

It was pretty much the same throughout the day, Lulu blamed Justin for going fast, I blamed Lulu for going fast, she blamed me...what?? I was pushing her from the back?? ;) It was great! And then if that wasn't enough, we picked up Panther at the halfway point and he pushed the pace too!

At one point I'm looking around and it is Panther, Justin and Lulu...and me (sing with me..."one of these things is not like the other..."), doing my darndest to just hang on to the tail end of them all. Whew...what a workout! But it felt GOOD!

And what ride would be complete without:
- getting lost (Panther...per usual)
- close encounter with an unleashed pitbull (fortunately, she was more interested in the leftover pizza she had dug out of an overflowing trashcan..)
- a dropped water bottle
- off-roading xterra style down a dirt trail littered with rivlettes, rocks and other debris with a quick left turn onto and over a narrow bridge (seriously..this on a road race...wtf?)

Afterwards, we gnoshed on wursts, gatorade and beer(s) and sat in the glorious sun chatting and hanging out with friends. A super-cool way to spend the day.
On the way back, Lulu gave some lovin to Hector

Then she and Erin threw down some signs...(I love Erin rep'n the nice girls from Spockville)

And a good time was had by all. Thanks y'all...that was AWESOME!