Wednesday, May 27, 2015


We live in a society where we are expected to always be BUSY. We have to work hard, we have to keep our home spotless, our kids need to be in sports, we have to schedule social outings, we have to take lots of trips....BUSY BUSY BUSY.

You know what? I'm tired.

I don't want to be busy. 

I want it to be okay to spend a day hanging out with my dog, catching up on TV, reading, doing whatever. But not doing anything that I'm expected to do. I don't really want to get the vacuum cleaner out, I don't want to schedule that happy hour get together, I don't want to spend hours shuttling my overscheduled kids to their activities, I don't want to feel guilt because I'm not THAT volunteer mom.


I want to live in a society where down time can be celebrated, where our children are not expected to be in two or three different activities, where I can let the laundry pile up and not feel guilty, where I can say no to social invitations "just because" and not because I have an actual conflict. If someone asks if I have anything on my schedule today, I want to answer "nope...and I'm planning to keep it that way" and IT'S OKAY.

I'm not trying to be anti-social by any means. I love my friends and I love seeing my friends.

I just want to BREATHE. I want my kids to be stress-free. I want to wake up in the morning and not have to be anywhere at any particular time.

I wish this was okay in our society. I wish being more carefree and unencumbered wasn't viewed so much as laziness.

Our kids are stressed out. Parents are stressed out. Maybe if we all took a mental health day or two, we could see how much better it is to JUST BREATHE.....JUST BE....JUST RELAX.

Then when it's time for that game, that happy hour, and that trip....we are happy and excited and ready.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A "Real" Triathlete

Before this past weekend's triathlon, I had done two other triathlons. This technically earned me my "Triathlete" title, but because both races were pool swims, I didn't really feel like a true triathlete. Stupid, I know. But open water is a tougher beast, especially for a novice swimmer. I needed to conquer that type of race to really feel like I earned my wings.

Enter The Rookie Triathlon.

Seriously, this name is a misnomer. They do have a separate division and awards for rookies, but that bike course? That ain't no easy thing.

Unfortunately, according to the official rules, I had to register as a Veteran. You could only be a Rookie if this was your first or second triathlon.

Dammit. I was going to be with all the fast masters chicks. Dammit dammit dammit. I just hoped I didn't make a fool out of myself out there!

I did a handful of open water swims with my wetsuit to get used to the feeling of being out there. I liked swimming in a wetsuit. I felt safe with it on, and it was a confidence booster. I figured having to get it stripped off on the way to transition wasn't a big deal and would only lose me a few seconds. Totally worth it.

As for the bike, I didn't get it out on the road as much as I had hoped. But when I did ride it, I loved it. It's a bit faster, but I'm still scared of aero position so it makes shifting trickier since the shifters are on the aerobars. I'd have to wing this part of the race. Of course, I sort of forgot about how hilly the bike course was. I really needed to have a bit more experience riding this bike on hills. I considered riding my road bike in the race, but with as great of a bike as my tri bike is, that would've been dumb.

I was nervous as hell the morning of the race, but as the start approached, I calmed down a bit. The swim really didn't look so bad. The waters were calm and it was so short. I wanted to swim well, but was still scared a bit about the other swimmers. How could I get into a groove with all those other people splashing around?

Confident Steph

Nervous Steph

The morning went by fast, and the race started and before I knew it, there I was being told "Go!" and I had to swim. It took a few seconds for me to just go, and once I did I was surrounded by all these people.

My turn!

I'm out there somewhere

 I could not get into any kind of rhythm and my heartrate skyrocketed right away. Not so good. I tried to do one sided breathing to calm down a bit but I was just nervous out there and a bit panicky. After the first buoy turn I hoped I'd feel better, but I panicked even more and had to breaststroke and backstroke for a few seconds. Once I felt my breathing had calmed I reverted back to my freestyle, sighting periodically to be sure I wasn't going off course at all. Thank God for the last buoy turn, because I was just totally done with being out there! Only about 6 minutes had passed but it felt like an eternity. I wasn't having a good swim at all.

Almost done!

Eight minutes of swimming and I was out of that water. About a minute longer than I had hoped, which bummed me out. Transition is after a long run up a grassy hill and I was breathing way too heavy to have to run up a hill. Once I got to my bike, I switched out gear as quickly as I could and got myself out of there.

Now for the bike hills. Ugh, those sucked. But surprisingly I found myself passing people on them, which was a great feeling! The great feeling would pass, however, when those same people would blow by me on the downhills. Yes, I'm still fearful of speed. It sucks. It's stupid. I'll get over it. I did bike my fastest downhill speed ever during this race, however, so there's that.

It's only an 11.2 mile route, so it did seem like it went by very quickly. I never looked at my watch so I had no idea what kind of pace I was going. I was hoping it could be over 17 mph, but those hills were bad and long enough to mess with overall pace when you're not used to them,  and when you can't make up for that slower pace on the downhills (like me). The results showed I biked 16.7 mph. Not what I had hoped, but I did learn a lot on that course of what I need to improve upon. Better next time!

How sweet of them to make us finish on a hill

Bike done!

I pulled a rookie mistake coming into T2. I lost my spot and had to search for it. I figured that cost me 20 seconds and I'm still kinda pissed about that. The actual gear switch was quick, however, once I found my stuff, and I was off on the run. Easily my best discipline, and I hoped for a solid pace.

Coming out of T2

I glanced at my watch right after I hit the run course and saw it said 53 minutes. Not what I was hoping for, but I could still break 1:10 overall on the course. I was going to try!


It took that entire first mile to get into my groove and it was a slow first mile. With it only being a 2 mile route, I knew I just needed to suck it up and I sped up considerably on that second mile. It was all dirt and grass, with several spots where you needed to watch your footing, but during that second mile I felt so much better. Rather than being passed, I was finally passing a lot more people.  That second mile flew by and with the finish line in sight and Christine screaming at me to run faster, I had a solid finish.

Thank God, because I really needed that race to be over!

My splits - 300 meter swim in 8:19 (timing mat was after wetsuit stripping, so my swim was actually right at 8:00), 2:46 T1, 11.2 mile bike in 40:11 (16.7mph), 1:44 T2, and 2 mile run in 16:10.
Overall time of 1:09:13
6th out of 30 in my age group of Veteran women 40-44

I'm conflicted about the results. I'm very happy with my placing. It was an extremely competitive veteran race. But I'm not really happy with how the race felt. I need to not be hard on myself, however. This was my first open water swim triathlon, my first time on my new bike, and I'm still really kind of a rookie in this sport. It was a solid race. I guess I just wish I had felt better!

My teammates did a phenomenal job today and I'm proud of each and every one of them. Everyone pulled off a solid race and it was a very fun day (even with the swim!). I'm so glad I did it and I can't say enough great things about the organizers, my teammates, and my competitors.

Me and my fearless Captain Christine

Georgetown Triathletes

I'm going to compete on this course again in July, with a slightly longer swim and run, but the same bike course. I do plan to do better and I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hometown Race Weekend...Again!

In 2014 I had a great time racing my hometown marathon, the San Luis Obispo Marathon....their motto is "Small Town, Big Race," exactly my kind of race. I was looking forward to an even better race in 2015.

ITBS derailed my hopes for a full marathon, unfortunately, and I downgraded my registration to the half marathon. As race day approached and I couldn't run more than 6 miles without being in pain, I knew I had made the right decision. I was still disappointed. I would not be running through the most beautiful parts of the vineyard-dotted course.

But that didn't mean I couldn't fuel with SLO County wine!

I signed up for the 5k the day before and knew that despite injury I would have a very fun weekend. Plus, since I was only running a half marathon, I could run a bit harder during the 5k and pull a more respectable time this year. For the half marathon I had no time goal. I would run a comfortable pace and if I felt good would try to speed up, but I would still keep myself in check. No sub-2 hour goal or expectation this time around. I was definitely okay with this. The course is fantastic...and hilly...and brings back lots of childhood and teenage memories....and its freaking HILLY. I would enjoy every mile, although because of the hills (did I mention there are HILLS??), definitely some miles more than others.

Hello rainy race morning!!

The 5k was 3.1 miles of chilly rain through Madonna Inn property, a really great 5k course. There's one yucky hill that is run twice, but it's followed by a really nice downhill. Because of the rain I wanted to run as hard as I could just to be done but I held back a bit. I didn't need to aggravate the ITBS and truth be told, I was nervous about slipping on the wet road on the downhills. I still ran a strong 5k, far off my PR pace, but a negative split nonetheless, with a sub-8 mile thrown in. I even ran into an old high school friend!

Overall, I ran a 25:27, 8:11 pace , 8th overall woman and 1st in my age group. I was happy!

Water logged with the Cal Poly mascot

Now for the half marathon. I didn't want to be nervous, but it doesn't matter how many of these races I do...I still get nervous! Even without a time goal, my nerves were a bit shot. I wanted to have fun, but I also wanted to run a respectable race. And above anything else, I didn't want to be in pain.

Representing TEXAS!!

I arrived at the start right before 6am, when the full marathoners began their race. The half didn't start until 6:45, so I spent some time walking around, chatting a bit, and getting my nerves under control. I looked for friends before the race but sadly couldn't find them. It was a chilly morning and I waited as long as I could before taking off my sweatshirt and turning in my race bag.

By the time we lined up at the start and listened to the national anthem and race director's final words, my nerves were fading and I was getting excited for the race to start.

I lived in San Luis Obispo for 14 years, so to run through the downtown area and past the Mission was very very cool. I absolutely love the first couple miles of the race and can't help but smile. It was everything I had to hold back for those first two miles, especially since it seemed like everyone was flying by me.

I was right on target to where I thought I would be for those first few miles, before the first big hill hits. I felt good, wasn't running too fast, and was prepared to tackle "Cardiac Hill," a 3/4 mile long hill that gains about 140 feet in elevation. It's kind of a beast, but thankfully comes early in the race. There's a nice downhill after you crest the top so you can get your breath back. I felt pretty darn great when I hit 4 miles. I was having a blast!

Right about mile 5 is when we had a chance to see the leader in the half marathon, Cal Poly alum-turned pro athlete Ben Bruce. Part of the race was out-and-back, so he was at mile 9 when he flew by us. He was FAST, and there wasn't anyone even close to him. He was literally running away with the victory. Not too long after seeing him, we saw his 19 weeks pregnant (and also professional runner) wife Stephanie just behind the women's leader. You'd never know she was pregnant! Crazy awesome athletes and very cool to see them on the course. They both ended up winning.

Right before the turnaround at 7.3 miles is another nasty evil hill. It was at this point that I realized my knee wasn't hurting at all yet. I was running a fairly decent race, at about 9:35 pace overall at the halfway point. I was perfectly content with this pace, especially since the race gets easier after the turnaround. There's much more downhill and flat sections, so I felt that as long as my knee held up I'd be able to speed up and run a negative split.

I'm looking down but I still love this pic because

Aaaaand, I'm still looking down....

Hello, crazy awesome course! Nice hill, huh? (photo from SLO Marathon)

After the turnaround and with that nice downhill approaching, I really let myself relax a bit. I was honestly having a lot of fun, although running a half marathon is never really easy. The beauty of the course was breathtaking and I was soaking it all in. We also got a bit of a headwind after the turnaround that cooled me down a bit, not that it was very warm out. Really couldn't complain about the weather at all.

My knee finally starting snapping at me 9 miles into the race. Stupid knee. It wasn't bad pain, but it was annoying.

I think one of my favorite parts of the course, besides running by vineyards, is getting to go on the railroad bike trail. It's narrow, but it's away from traffic so it's relaxing to me. I know some people feel like it's a bit frustrating for the faster marathoners because they have to navigate the half marathoners as they pass us (they started 45 minutes ahead), and I can understand that. We did have a few of the marathon leaders weave through us, but the half marathoners started to move over to the right a bit more once we realized they were coming through. We are on this trail for about 1.5 miles and it ends on a railroad pedestrian bridge, with a switch back up to the bridge and a switch back down to the road. Because the winds were really picking up, the bridge was actually swaying and making me a little nauseous as we crossed it.

Jennifer Street Bridge at 11.5 miles

Once we were back on the street and I realized it was only about 15 minutes to the finish, I picked up the pace. My knee wasn't feeling any worse, so I didn't think speeding up by another 20 seconds per mile or so would be a big deal, and I felt good! There were lots of people out cheering us on through the neighborhoods and I was on a pretty big high knowing the race was almost over and it was going to be a good race for me.

With a half mile to go, I just smiled and RAN.


I can't begin to tell you how incredibly happy I am about that time. There was a point when I hated the thought of running another half over 2 hours, but I've gotten older and wiser since then. I ran over 5 minutes faster than my awful Austin Half Marathon in February. And this course is tougher. I'll take my 2:03 any day!!

Half Marathon #12 done and conquered. What a fabulous race!! My hometown always makes me proud.