Sunday, November 30, 2008


I'm not fat enough.

I stared at B for a sec as if he'd called me the F-word then realized he meant he didn't have enough body fat to float.

Poor guy, that was his excuse for not swimming. Two years ago, I was explaining to a friend/co-worker that I'd signed up for Ironman Florida 2006 in order to motivate myself to learn to swim. Seriously, nothing less would have gotten me to do it and had that year not seen some of the roughest water conditions ever at an Ironman race, I might have checked that box and moved on to something else. Instead, one person died and I finished the 2.4 mile swim leg ~6 minutes too late.

You know the IM motto: Anything can happen.

Still, I accomplished 90% of what I set out to do in training and had the most memorable swim of (for) my life. And, I came back with more than a medal. The DNF gave me the desire to be a real triathlete. Up to then, I was content to survive swim segments and ride centuries just so I could run more marathons. Silly, I know!

But what B said got me thinking ... Many of the swimmers I saw at my pool did seem to have a lot of, let's say, built-in buoyancy. They made freestyle look so easy, gliding effortlessly down the lane while I splashed and struggled to go half as fast. How could it be that I could run for hours yet find swimming so difficult? What the heck am I missing? Maybe going on a bon-bon diet would help?

Then last year I began working with Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen. Karlyn was the first elite swimmer I'd ever met. What impressed me immediately, though, was her physique. She could have passed for an elite marathoner. And, she had small feet too, like me.

Hell, if she could float, most definitely, so could I. All body image issues I had went out the door.

Now I could work on the real issue: good technique or rather, lack thereof. No more envying or being intimidated by barrel chests, big butts and size 10+ double E wide feet. No more excuses. Just focus on what it takes to get my body through the water and this year, finally, I became a swimmer.

So now, after 3 years and 10 tris (6 half irons, 2 olys and 2 sprints), I feel poised to become the triathlete I've wanted to be. And to make things even sweeter, a wonderful blogging-for-coaching opportunity has come my way. Next year, I will tackle one of the most challenging iron races in the southeast, The Great Floridian. Then two weeks later, I'll head north to do Beach to Battleship, a cooler and much flatter course, just for grins.

I may not be bright but Thank God I'm Fat enough :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A New PR!

No, not another race. 40 comments on my last post -- THANKXOXOX!!!

Seriously, two years ago when I started blogging, I had no idea what I was getting into. It's so unlike me to write about myself and I didn't really even like taking pictures much. I think the number of photos of me from high school until my mid-thirties is probably less than 10!

Too busy working and so self-critical all the time. It's a wonder I made it to my 40's ...

Here's a couple things from the life of an older, much wiser woman :-)

1. My photo tag (4th photo in my 4th folder). Sorry, it happens to be running related.

Explanation: Photo that appeared in the May 2005 issue of Runner's World in reference to my 21 Run Salute. It was taken in downtown Orlando near Lake Eola. The photo shoot took 2-3 hours and the photographer and his assistant had brought all sorts of lighting equipment and props, including crumbs to get birds to fly around me. Who knew getting one good photo could take so long!

2. My blog style (thanks to Spokane Al for pointing me to the Typealzer site):

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

I find this pretty funny because I once took a Myer-Briggs Type Indicator Test and got an INTJ result. So either I've really changed or am a schizo blogger.

Added: My other blog,, came up as "ISTP - The Mechanics" so maybe I do have split personalities.

3. More family time - After the Route 66 Marathon, I went to Austin for a couple days to meet up with Dave. He ended up arriving late and leaving early but I got to see Marathon Chris, who was attending the same conference as Dave, and visit my sis Jade Lady and her family, who live in the area.

L to R: Dave, Me, my niece and brother-in-law. Sis, who took this photo and the one below, was added to the top left.

And I got to swim in beautiful Barton Springs.

Four birds with one stone!

Now, time to catch up on what you all have been up to. My Google Reader says 30 new and exciting posts to read.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Got My Kicks on Route 66

Wicked Fun!!!

The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK, was my 50th overall marathon (40th state in my 50 states quest) and my fastest one this year.

I'll spare you another lengthy race report and make this one short & sweet. 3 marathons and 2 half iron tris the past two months is getting a bit ridiculous, isn't it?

Great cold weather. A mostly flat out-and-back course on historic Route 66, along the Arkansas River and through Jenks America, home of the Oklahoma Aquarium. Nice entertainment at various spots along the way. Only real hills were miles 23-25. Evil!

My plan: Just run and see what happens. No camera (during race). No marathon until January.

3:51:20 (8:50 avg pace), 5/52 F45-49
1st half 1:55:09, 2nd half 1:56:11
Not bad!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Miami Man 2008

This race really made me realize how much I love triathlons. Even with a lackluster swim and a frustrating bike issue, I had a blast. Here's a quick comparison of this year vs. last year (note that my age group doubled in size!):

1.2 mi Swim (avg pace)48:07 (2:16/100y)48:17 (2:17/100y)
56? mi Bike (avg pace)2:47:15 (20.1 mph)2:45:38 (20.4 mph)
13.1 mi Run (avg pace)1:57:57 (9:00/mi)2:02:27 (9:21/mi)
Total Time, F45-495:42:43, 8/345:46:20, 5/17

So, basically, I did a little better on the swim & T1, which was offset by doing a little worse on the bike & T2, then a solid run got me a PR.

But wearing no watch made it fun as did some zoo animals!

1.2 mile Swim - 48:07 (2:16/100y, 20/34)

The course was the same as last year, two loops in a small lake. Wetsuits were allowed and my wave went off at 7:17, again, just as the faster swimmers from the first wave were coming in for their second lap. Great... For the first time, though, I started sort of in the middle of my wave rather than in the back. I knew it was going to be a crowded swim the entire way but was much more comfortable handling contact with other swimmers this year so my strategy was to draft as much as possible.

Good news: The 1.2 mile swim was really easy! Bad news: Not the big swim PR I was hoping for. But did I know at the time???

NOPE! No clock at the swim exit and nothing on my wrist so I thought I'd had the best swim of my life. The shoes I'd left at the swim exit were waiting for me (last year someone stole my slippers!) and I was as happy as a clam coming into T1. I had my usual struggles taking off my wetsuit (really need to work on this!) but still shaved off nearly 2 minutes in transition. WOO-HOO!

56? mile Bike - 2:47:15 (20.1 mph avg, 10/34)

Now onto the flat and fast bike course. Like last year, it was fairly windy, 10-13mph from the north, and after doing the loop twice we'd have to work a lot harder to get back to the transition area. But I was better prepared this year with all rides I did out in Kona so bring on the wind!

Coming out of the park, I was cruising at 22mph downwind easily and gaining speed when all of a sudden I'm pedaling and pedaling and going slower and slower! What the heck???

So I pull over, get off my bike and check to see if my brakes are rubbing. Yep, looks like the front brakes need a little adjustment; back wheels are OK; no flats. I get back on my bike, wait for a little break in the riders and get back on my merry way again. WEEEEEE!

Further down the same downwind stretch, I'm struggling to maintain 17mph. Not again!!!

The fourth time it happens I try to realign the brakes with my hands while riding. No use, all I get is a little friction burn on my fingers from the wheel spinning. But I realize how close my Aqua Cell bottle is to the brakes. AHA! Could it be causing this problem? Not sure why it would since I used it at Gulf Coast Tri back in May with no problems. But I stop and see that the bottle is pretty much resting on the front brake housing so that perhaps every major bump I go over is causing it to push the brakes out of alignment. After adjusting the brakes, I also try to adjust the bottle position so it's riding higher.

A turn later the brakes are dragging again. This time I decide to just flip the switch to open up my front brakes altogether and, what the heck, why not also try turning the bottle around backward. Now with the aerobar notch pointed away, it should ride further away from me and the brakes. Voila, I'm finally FREE of this #@$!&% problem!!!

Of course, now I also have no front brakes but on a flat course like this, who cares? Just have to be a bit more careful approaching turns.

So after ~7 miles and 5 stops (black asterisks on the bike course map), I'm finally racing! I shoot for 25-26 mph downwind, 20-21 mph crosswind, 18-19 mph into the wind and am passing lots of folks. Unfortunately, I see several riders drafting this year. Dave later tells me he heard that 24 drafting penalties were issued, the most they've ever had. Good, at least some of those cheaters got caught.

Meanwhile, I'm seemingly riding and thinking of the elephants I would see later.

I roll back into the transition area with my bike computer reading 54 miles (same as last year so I'm convinced this course is short) and 2:44-something. Wow, I ended up with a little faster bike split even with all the stops! Ummm, NO, I didn't because my bike computer time stopped every time I stopped. But did I remember that during my race?

NO! Little Miss Happy Clam went about her way in T2 thinking she'd kicked @ss on the bike and pulled off a Chrissie Wellington or something. I stopped into the restroom before heading out onto the run course, which added a minute to my transition, but knew I'd be better for doing so.

13.1 mile Run - 1:57:57 (9:00 avg pace, 4/34)

The run was a bit cooler this year thanks to some added cloud cover but 80 degrees is still pretty warm and 13.1 miles is no walk in the park, even if much of it is in a park (click on map to enlarge). The flat bike course, however, allowed my running legs to return much sooner than at the FL Challenge Tri a couple weeks ago. By mile 2, I was feeling good and enjoying the zoo. Who's out today? What IS that thing? Who's making all that noise? What is that smell?

Unintentionally, I probably ruined one woman's photos by passing her in front of the elephants where a race photographer is always located. Sorry!

Starting the second lap, I saw Dave again who told me to negative split the run. Not sure I did since I didn't know how fast I ran either lap but I do know that during the second lap there was some added excitement in the Giant Tortoise pen. As I approached, I heard some really loud dinosaur-like noises and then saw one on top of another one.

Mommy, what are they doing?, said one child.
They're making baby turtles, her mom replied.

HA, an X-rated show during a race! Of course, Dave had the camera so I didn't get any pictures ...

The last couple miles were boring in comparison but I was slowly reeling in one of two women who had passed me earlier during the run, which kept me preoccupied. I caught her around mile 12 and a couple other guys just before the final stretch. Then I saw the Central FL Tri Club coach and many of its members cheering wildly. Go Shirley! You Look Great! Finish Strong! Go Girl! WOOOOO!!!

What am I saving my energy for? I picked up my pace and ran as fast as I could. The finish line was just off to the right but I didn't see a clock when I crossed it. Where's the clock? What was my time?

Well, there was no clock for some reason and now I wanted my watch REAL bad. Soon enough, though, I saw Dave heading over to meet me. He said that I'd finished at 1pm, which meant a sub-5:45 race time. OH YEAH!!!

So even if everything didn't go quite as I'd hoped, I felt the strongest I've ever felt in all three sports and I'd managed to keep things together to race well. A great way to end my tri season and a nice birthday present to myself.

Thoughts on the swim: I think I'm not an aggressive or fast enough swimmer to get around slower folks well and got boxed into going a slower pace. The swim course also had 8(!) major turns, making it one of the more technical half iron swim courses with a lot of slowing going around each of the buoy turns. Even my tri club coach swam 5 minutes slower at Miami last year than he did recently at FL Challenge tri so a 3 min difference for me is probably not bad. Regardless, I'm sure I can do better and will be continuing to work on my swimming. There's something brewing behind the scenes for next year that could involve a lot more swimming and a team uniform!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A New PR at Miami Man!

Thanks for the well wishes on my birthday and race! I finished Miami Man today in 5:42:32, nearly a 4 minute PR.

It didn't come the way I had hoped and I had a frustrating bike issue early on that caused me to dismount my bike 4-5 times to try to figure out what was wrong with it. But, I cannot complain. At least I didn't get 5(!) flats like Stef did during her bike segment at Silverman half iron tri today. Holey Moly!

I will take my carrot cake and eat it too. Details to follow once the sugar high has worn off.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Don't Watch Me

5 years ago I ran my first marathon, the 2003 Disney Marathon. Man, was I dumb!

I loosely followed one of Hal Higdon's training programs, running 3 times a week while also training in karate and teaching some fitness classes. My longest sports-related event to date was a 4-hour black belt test. We were not allowed to consume anything but water and I'd assumed the same was true while running marathons. A marathon was surely even more a test of endurance and eating something would sort of be like cheating, wouldn't it?

Before Disney, I'd run 2 other races, a half marathon and a 5-miler, but never paid attention to what other runners did. My sister, Jade Lady, who had run many more races and was also running Disney, mentioned that runners often used gels and sports drinks to keep going longer and stronger. They did???

Well, I'd already done all my long runs with just water and only had enough time to be confident that my stomach could handle a 50/50 mix of water and Gatorade. To take the pressure off, I decided it was better for me not to wear a watch and run by feel as I did in training. I lined up in the corral they put me in based on my half marathon time (my first race), ran a pace I thought I could hold for 26.2 miles and crossed the finish line in 3:33:32. YOWZA!!

11 months and 6 marathons later, I finally broke 3:30 after pretty much giving up on that goal and relaxing for my last race of the year.

So what did I learn in my first year and a half of racing?

For one thing, I often perform better when I least expect it. I can put so much pressure on myself sometimes that it backfires and makes me not want to race at all. I need to keep things fun and give myself lots of opportunities so no single event has too much weight. And since this weekend is my birthday, I'm going to give myself a present. I'm going to leave my watch behind at Miami Man. Maybe I'll surprise myself again. Either way, it's going to be a fun race!

PS - I chopped off a pound of hair yesterday :-)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Babes & Beaches

Congrats to everyone who raced last weekend!! While others were tapering and gearing up for their big day, Dave and I were out West checking out some babes and beaches. But the babes we saw were not at the beach.

No, they were out in the desert at TriSports in Tucson, AZ.

As soon as we opened the door, there they were, rows of sleek beauties oozing sexiness in assorted colors, sizes and shapes. Hey, baby, wanna go for a ride? In addition, there were all sorts of other goodies, cute clothes, shoes, wetsuits and even a big Endless Pool to try the wetsuit in. It was tri heaven!

The purpose of our visit, however, was to get fit for new bikes that have not yet been built. They have a special custom bike fitting area with different seats and handle bars you can try with a Serotta Bike Fit System, which can be adjusted and used to fit people of different sizes. Good because Dave and I are pretty much at opposite ends of the size spectrum.

Dave has actually decided to get both a new tri bike and a road bike and needed to get fit for two bikes. Believe me, anything to get him to not work and travel so much is a good thing!

He tried three different seats and decided on the first one for his tri bike and the second one for his road bike, which is actually a woman's seat but his butt likes it. Both of us gave thumbs down on the third leather one. Oweee!

Then it was my turn to get fit for a road bike. I had to have some body measurements taken since we didn't have them on paper with us. There was this one medieval-looking spring loaded inseam measuring device that was not at all pleasant.

After fitting us, Mark, the bike guy (left in the photo), gave Dave (right) and I a no-photos-allowed behind-the-scenes tour of the store. He also gave us a nice goody bag to thank us for dropping a small fortune on the bikes. We'll be back in January for the final fitting and a test ride after our babies are built.


Then we headed to San Diego or, more accurately, La Jolla. Dave had some meetings to attend and I tagged along too since I knew the area well having attended UCSD for grad school and would not be bored.

We stayed at the Hilton Torrey Pines. Being a Double Black Diamond Super 007 Frequent Hilton Hotel Guest, they gave Dave a really nice suite and said nothing about a woman claiming to be his wife who wanted a second key and free breakfast buffet tickets too. Hmm, maybe I should accompany him on more of his business trips?

We had a great view of Torrey Pines Golf Course with downtown San Diego off in the distance and an ocean view, too, in another direction.

I did some open water swimming down at La Jolla Shores Beach, where I'm more comfortable swimming alone at than La Jolla Cove. I did some laps out and back to a buoy located about 250 yards off shore right in front of the lifeguard station (they use it for their swim test). The water temp was 62 degs but didn't feel cold with the 70-80 deg air temps. When I swam there October 2006 to prepare for Ironman Florida, air temps were in the 50's and I dreaded going in the water (Who am I kidding? I just hated swimming back then, period.)

I also ran at Torrey Pines State Reserve, which was about a mile from the hotel. Having read the off-road adventures of RBR, Jane and Robin recently, I was inspired to give trail running a try. Of course, I tripped on something nearly right away and was promptly reminded to pick up my feet.

I took Broken Hill trail which led to ... guess what?

Down near the ocean, Broken Hill trail met up with Beach Trail and I followed that back up to the bluffs where I started. OK, so it was only a few miles but I didn't roll an ankle, fall (stumbles don't count), get lost, get stung by any bees or step in anything worse than soft sand. Note to self: Do this again soon!

Of course, no trip to San Diego would be complete without a bike ride along the coast. Dave and I rode from the hotel up to Oceanside about 20 miles away a couple times later in the week. I was thrilled to see how much I'd improved as a cyclist since I rode here last back in January 2007 with my travel bike on its first trip. Dare I say I'm starting to like riding hills?

Near the end of each ride, we enjoyed this magnificent view of the Torrey Pines State Beach. Then we had to climb a big hill back to our hotel, which was located behind the trees in the top left of the photo. Chalkings from a recent MS 150 ride were still on the ground to help motivate us. Great way to end a great ride!