Sunday, February 20, 2011


I am over the moon and in a little bit of pain. The pain was totally worth it! After watching Bud have some awesome times at his swim meet, I headed to Austin yesterday to pick up my race packet and get checked in at the hotel. With that out of the way, I drove to Whole Foods to meet my Creepy Internet Friends: Coach Carrie, Shawn, Tracy from Ohio, and Greyhound. After a fun dinner on the roof top, it was time to head back to the hotel and start laying out my gear. I was tired and I wanted to get to bed.
Look at this cool messenger bag we got!

My hotel was less than awesome. I did a $33 dollar deal on and when you only pay $33 bucks, you get a $33 buck hotel. The hotel was a recycled Holiday Inn posing as the North Austin Plaza Hotel and Suites. When I stopped by the first time, all I did was check in and head back into town. Now I was here to stay. I was glad that my room was on the complete other side of the complex from the loud Tejano music fueled Quincenera being held in the banquet hall. Upon entering the room, I had flashbacks of family vacations as a kid in the 70's. This hotel had not been notified that we were now living in a new millennium. The light over the sink did not work, the "Scumfortor" was a weird geometric pattern, and there were only two flat pillows on the slab of a mattress that greeted me as I entered the door. The ice maker was not working so I could put my Greek yogurt on ice to chill. Whatever! I laid out my gear and carefully slid between the sheets as not to touch the "Scumfortor" and read a few pages of my book until I realized that my eyes were closed.

I woke up at 3:30 am with a start and was slightly frantic that I missed the alarm and that I had no idea where I was. I was going to roll over for 45 minutes of sleep but somewhere in the building there was a group having what sounded like a drug-fueled alcohol binge and I could hear the hooting, hollering, and shouting through the vent system in the bathroom. UGH!!! I laid in bed quietly for a while and then gave up and got up to foam roll my legs. With breakfast down the hatch and my gear packed up, I headed out around 5:30 am and made my way into downtown to find parking. I was to meet Greyhound at 6:00 am to head over to the start area together.
The Capitol at 6:05 am.

Conditions were warm, but windy. I had a toss away velour jacket from Wal-Mart and I was sweating in it by the time we ran from our meeting spot to the Texas Capitol. Of course, I had to find the bank of port-o-cans. I had come prepared with extra toilet paper and a Germ-X antibacterial wipe. Ok, I get it. It's dark in those things and I understand you don't want to sit on the seat. BUT PLEASE DO NOT URINATE AND DEFECATE ON THE SEAT!!! And if you do, for the love of God, please clean up after yourself! After getting out of there, I wanted to wipe my whole body down with the Germ-X wipe. Blech!
The love/hate relationship with the whole port-o-can experience...

We seeded ourselves in the 3:30 corral. Again, my hope was to hit 1:55 so even though was a faster paced corral, I figured that the closer we were to the front, the less traffic from slower runners we would have to endure. I had high hopes but there were some people standing around in our corral the outweighed me 60 pounds at the same heights and were dressed in full run tights, a long sleeve shirt, and the 12 bottle hydration belt. Um, you are a 3:30 marathon runner??? I'm not trying to be snarky here but I have been to this rodeo a few times and I know what 3:30 marathon runners look like and they sure don't look like you honey and bubba.
Waiting for the race to start.

Not so much. Once the gun went off and things got underway, it took about 2 minutes to walk to the start line. After that, the sea of humanity failed to get the memo that it was time to get moving. I found myself trying not to step on people's heels, dodging in and out of groups of "friends" that were running three and four across the road, trying to slip between runners without touching them, and avoiding uneven spots and holes in the pavement. After a sweet little downhill to start the race, the course takes you around the Capitol and the hills hit hard and fast. Once on the other side of the Capitol, we ran past the finisher's chute and uphill before we could start heading south and downhill to Ladybird Lake. Running those hills made me ditch my jacket not long after we got going.

I had made a crucial decision not to run with a Fuel Belt for this race and hoped that I would not regret that decision. So as soon as the first water station appeared at mile 1.5, I grabbed two cups and got most of the water up my nose, all over my face, and down the front of my race singlet. Ahhhgh! I was regretting my decision to go sans Fuel Belt. At least I had a nice stretch of downhill to make my move and pass some people. Once over the bridge that crossed Ladybird Lake around mile 2.5, it was uphill for 3.5 miles. I just concentrated on not going red-line and keeping the pace going. Mile 3 was Clif Shot time and my second go at grabbing some water from the aid station. I walked 10 paces to get the water in me rather than on me and picked up the running again. I quickly got back to running with the people who had been around me. As we climbed I found myself passing people. Nice. I just kept my pace as Rhianna and Lady GaGa wailed at me from my iPhone. I had my iPhone set on the Nike+GPS and it was pretty damn accurate. The app gal would tell me that I had reached the next mile and I was right with the mile marker or it was within sight. One thing that struck me was that there were two kids from the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets running in my vicinity on the uphill. The kid would get ahead of me for 30 seconds, then I would pass him. He would pass me as I dodged to grab water from an aid station and then I would catch up. His buddy was ahead of us. We kept this crazy dance going for at least 2.5 miles. All I could think was, "Dude, I'm old enough to be your mother and I missed passing the exam to get into OCS by this much and got cut from acceptance to The Naval Academy in the last round of cuts because I had a history of childhood asthma. Hmph, their loss wouldn't you say if I'm keeping up with you on this nasty course?" I kept my mouth shut as not to pulverize his ego. Back to the task at hand, I saw kids running. Kids younger than my kid running! Crazy. Crazy item #2, there was a dead possum in the middle of the road at mile 5.5 and he was relatively fresh. This dead critter had the power of Moses to part the Red Sea of runners.

As mile 6 approached, it was time to take in another Clif Shot and start the long 3 miles of downhill running. I let it fly! I kept the pace controlled, but I was passing a lot of people. Oh, those cadets from my alma mater, Texas A&M? I passed them both and never saw them again. On one section, the downhill was rather steep and I knew I had to keep things from getting out of control. At mile 8, we were about the cross back over Ladybird Lake and I ran past Crazy item #3. On the side line and in the aid station, someone was dressed up in an H.R. Puffinstuffcostume with the big head. Hey, Keep Austin Weird! I was starting to notice a few people walking or running with their hands on their low back indicating that they were in pain. I just focused on zoning into my running and not paying too much attention the throngs of spectators cheering on the runners. After another steep downhill stretch, it was mile 9 and the inspirational Yellow Mile. All the LIVESTRONG banners were out and there were inspirational messages written on the pavement in yellow chalk and lots of people in yellow shirts. I saw TNT buddy Mike Thompson who is a cancer survivor and an all around nice guy. It was so great to see him. I later found out that the day before at one of the local running stores, someone stole his Felt bike off the back of his car that was parked 15 feet from the open doors of the store. BOO!!! HISS!!! Mikey needs a bike. He is training for Ironman Texas and we have less than 90 days to go before the race!

At this point, I started to feel the bottom of my left foot. At first I thought my sock was bunched up and I tried fanning my toes to stretch it out. No luck. It was definitely a hot spot but I thought that even if it turned out the be a blister, it was just a blister. It was not like a pain in the foot that could be muscular or that I had twisted my ankle and there were some ligament or tendon issues. It was just a blister. Soldier on. Things were on the move uphill again from mile 9 through 11.5. Just after passing mile 10 I began to feel the flutterings of cramps trying to take hold in one of my calf muscles. ARGH!!! I thought I had been drinking enough. I had already had 2 S-caps. Was it not enough? I made sure not to have too much ankle flexion and extension and kept it neutral while making sure that my quads and hip flexorswere doing their job and I would not shuffle my feet. First it was on the right calf. It calmed down and then it was on the left calf. Then it would calm down and then it was both legs! At mile 11 I took in 3 more S-caps and a bunch of water. Uphill again. Things seemed ok until there was a steep downhill around mile 11.5 and I thought that I was going to seize up in the legs. I focused on just moving and not stopping. at the bottom of the hill there was a nasty climb back up that many people were walking and I just plugged away with a goofy little stride run to use the uphill slant of the road to stretch out my calves. It worked a little bit.

At mile 12 I passed the last water station and I could see the Capitol that I had to get around. Now my legs were telling me that they were ready to throw in the towel. My calves were hurting worse than the blister on the bottom of my left foot by now. I knew that I could do this and I had seen at mile 12 that I was about and hour and 40 minutes into this craziness and that I had 15 minutes left for the last 1.1 mile to PR. Keep going! ARGH!!! Back uphill!!! Oh my legs. On the hill I saw the 600 meter sign. Trudge, trudge, trudge... 400 meters to go. Plod, plod, plod... Now it was down hill and around the corner in front of the Capitol to the finish line. I quickly noticed that I was the only chick running with a bunch of dudes. Nice! As I rounded the corner, I said a quick prayer that my calves would not lock up and I would do a face plant right in front of all of the spectators just before the Finish Line. I heard the announcer say, "And here comes someone in purple from Team in Training, another fantastic cancer fighting organization..."
Our cool Finisher's Medal...
...with cool colorful inserts in the body of the medal to recognize some highlights of the city of Austin, TX.

I was a hot, sweaty, salty mess crossing that finish line but I had a HUGE PR!!! I was not sure of the exact time, but I knew I took at least 7-8 minutes off. Yeah, I am not a watch button fumbler at the finish line. I paid good money for that D-tag to electronically record my time. No sooner had I gotten my Finisher's Medal and gotten my Finish Photo I looked up and saw my TNT buddy Johnathan walking towards me with his arms open and a huge smile on his face. He had finished in the same minute as I had and we marveled at the fact that we had probably been running right next to each other most of the time and not even known it. It was so good to see him since he now lives in Austin and we only have Facebook communication. I also saw a TNT friend Sandra who I had co-coached a tri season with. She was bragging on me to a friend of hers. Awe, thanks Sandra! After a few minutes of talking, Greyhound walked up after his finish. I had not seen anyone I knew during the race and now I had seen a bunch of friends all at the Finish Line. How cool is that! I found some water, a banana, and some Gatorade and we headed for our cars. We got back and realized we forgot to pick up our Finisher's Shirts. Dho'! So back we walked into the crowd to now stand in lines that were not there before to get our shirts. I was now cooling off with the brisk wind and I was ready to find a jacket and get out of my sopping wet gear and to get off of the blister on the bottom of my foot.
The red, angry bottom of my foot once I took my shoe off.
The lovely blister that I ran 4 miles on.
Official Finish Time: 1:45:47
655 out of 10,523 runners, 149 out of 6, 291 females, 17 out of 710 in the F40-44 Age Group.

So how did I do it? I don't know, I just ran. Ha, that is a cop-out answer. Here is what I think has been happening over the past year in my training:

  1. I have been working out on the TRX two to three times a week on an "Injury Prevention" plan set up by my coach.
  2. I have been foam rolling like crazy.
  3. I have lost nearly 10 pounds.
  4. I have been doing some crazy mad intervals on the treadmill.
  5. I have been racing 5K's.
  6. I had a really good play list on my iPod.
If you want more details let me know and I can go into the list of 6 with a bit more depth. Again, this is just what has been working for me and I have been working with my coach for just shy of 6 years now. I think he knows what I can handle and what I cannot.

Today I am sore in my right quad where I had no pain during the race and my blister is going to have to wait to be drained until I get to REI for some blister plaster. And I am happy!

Have a great day! I know I will be enjoying my day off.

Later Gators,


Friday, February 18, 2011

Half Marathon Weekend!

Well, the last two weeks have been freezing and warm. After my Polar Swim in the last post, Houston was hit with an ice storm that shut the city down for a day. It was a great time to stay in my pj's and watch movies. The weekend thawed out but the temps were still chilly for the training weekend on the IMTX course with Coach Carrie, Shawn, and Greyhound. By the time we got 7 miles into our run on Sunday, we were ditching extra clothes in the car.

So things warmed up in the 50's and the sun was shining. It was almost spring-like. And then we had another cold snap. The weather man was hoping there would be only cold temps and not ice this time around. The swim club sent out a message that Wednesday night and Thursday morning practices were cancelled. Bummer! No Polar Swim II. I had to go out for a cold run instead.

Last weekend it was time for another tasty serving of IMTX bike course. Greyhound and I waited until the sun came up enough (and hopefully the temps to warm up) and we hit the road. The first 20 miles were PAINFUL because it was so cold. I had two pairs of gloves on and my fingers were so cold that they hurt. I had 5 layers on top and two layers on the the bottom and I was not sweating. On a few down hills I was shivering from the icy wind blasting my face. I ended up pedaling along with only the use of my right eye for about 10 miles. My left eye was burning from the wind and started to water up. I shut my eye to ease the burning sensation, but when I tried to open my eye back up, the eyelashes were frozen together! WTF!!! I had tears streaming down the other cheek and burning with the cold wind. UGH! And because you don't sweat in conditions like that, it means that your kidneys go into overdrive. By the time we got to the first pit stop at mile 25, my bladder was so huge and painful that I could not stay down in my aerobars. The bathroom scene from the first Austin Powers comes to mind when I hit the gas station.

Here is the funny part, when we finished the 77.6 mile ride we stripped off all the layers for a transition run and it had warmed up enough where I ran comfortably in a pair of shorts and a racer back Nike top. It had warmed up to about 60. That was a temperature change of about 34 degrees! The temperatures did a funny warm up the next morning when we did our run. We started out all bundled up in gloves, skull caps, jackets, and run tights. At the end of the 9.5 miles we were half dressed.

This week, spring has returned to Texas. It has been in the 60's at night and in the 70's during the days with all the moist warm air being blown in from the Gulf. I LOVE IT!!! I have had the windows open during the day and have kept one or two open at night.

So that brings me to this weekend. I have to be Swim Team Mom tonight and in the morning for Bud as he swims the Spring Championship Meet. His times have been fantastic and he is swimming in Lane 1 since the last meet. As soon as I see him do a few events tomorrow, I hit the road to head to Austin for the Livestrong Marathon and Half Marathon. I am on tap to run the Half. My coach is not part of the school that one has to run a full marathon before an IM race. Whew! However, I have to run this half marathon for time. This should be a challenge. Austin is kinda hilly. I will channel all of my Seattle Marathon memories to calm my nerves about this. If I did a full Marathon in Seattle and ran a PR, I think I can run a half in Austin and do ok.

So here are my race goals:
  1. First mile is EASY. (Cuz, it's hilly!)
  2. Mile 3-6 is STEADY. (Cuz it's all up-hill!)
  3. Let loose on miles 6-9 on the downhill.
  4. Mile 9-11.5 is STEADY. (Up-hill again!)
  5. Don't go ape crazy in the last mile and a half. Hills again.
  6. My Half PR is a 1:55 so far. We shall see what happens.
I have to get to the side of the road, turn up the tunes, and become myopic as I shut myself up in my Personal Pain Cave and just go. The hardest part will be to ignore the thousands of other runners all around me and to not get caught up in the race pace of the first few miles. This is not a 5K so I have to resist the urge to go out hard like I have been doing for some races. I have to channel my inner tortoise rather than my inner hare. Slow....not so much. Steady....yes.

Check back on Monday for an update, or if you can find me on Facebook (Elizabeth Garcia-Snoopy avatar) I will post the results.

Later Gators!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hell Yeah We Have Winter in Texas!

I am assuming that you, gentle reader, are part of the majority that spent most of last week buried in snow, frozen under a layer of ice, or dealing with kids who had the day off from school. Oh the insanity of it all! Well, just to make you feel better, I was right there with you. Texas is nice and pleasant 96% of the year. Well, at least most of Texas is. You cannot forget that there are parts of our state that are further north than Santa Fe, New Mexico and parts that are as far south as the Florida Keys. Last week, the crazy Canuks decided to send Texas an arctic blast to put us in our proverbial place. If you are Canadian and want to blame the North Dakotans, go right ahead and do so, but I know what you guys are hiding up in Northern Alberta. You can't fool me!

Last weekend was the Houston Marathon and since I did not get a lottery slot, I ran my own half marathon in the warm muggy conditions on Saturday after getting home from Masters Swim workout. On Sunday after the warm, muggy, and rainy race, I met my TNT friends downtown for lunch. We were celebrating since my friend Ryan ran his first full marathon AND qualified for the Boston Marathon.

So last Monday night I had 2 sweaty hour of bike work on the trainer in the Hot Box as I got to watch Red on the iTunes rental. Hot was an understatement. It had gotten up to 79 degrees that afternoon and the stagnant air in the Hot Box was warmer than the cooler evening air of 68 degrees outside. With that workout done, I had to feed up, clean up, and sleep up for my 5:30 am cycling class at the gym.

The next morning was warm and muggy. The weather dude had talked about a blazing cold front that was going to bring snow by the end of the week. Well, as class was coming to a close around 6:15 am or so, the large plate glass windows of the gym started to buckle and vibrate from the wind and rain fiercely pelted the windows. I saw the street lights and the lights of the shopping center across the highway go out and I wrapped up class fast since I needed to get out of there and head home to get the kid and drive him to the bus stop. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in a matter of 10-15 minutes and wind gusts were clocked at 45 mph. In Texas we call that a Blue Norther. If it would have been later in the morning, the sky to the north would have been navy blue to black in color as the front approached. By the time I got home and loaded up Bud to take him to school, the rain had stopped, but the wind kept blowing. My last check of the temperature before I headed out the door to go back to teach Pilates was at 40 degrees and we were being warned that the temps would continue to drop throughout the day.

Yup, it got cold. I had to break out my heavy winter ski coat. On Wednesday, the schools were canceling after school activities and Bud had the night off from swim team since he swims at the pool at his school. I was supposed to get a run in, but the school nurse called me to take Bud to the doctor's office for a possible staff infection on his arm that had made his arm look like a red and angry gorged tick. The next morning, the school districts were calling off school for Friday and canceling all after school activities. Just to show Bud that his mom is not a wimp (and from a double dog dare from someone who will go unnamed...) I went to Masters Swim Practice on Thursday morning.
Yes, the pool is heated...
It was 28 degrees outside and 80 degrees in the water. Still, you had to keep moving to keep warm. I got the workout done but the most painful part was getting out. The rails on the ladder were icy and the wind was blowing. Oh, and if you are envious of my knit cap with the skull on the front, you can have one just like it. Yup, I knit it myself. Pay me enough in cash or Clif Shot Blocks and we will talk about getting one for your noggin.

It was nice to "sleep in" on Friday morning and not have work or school to get up for. I had contacted my PT clients and told them that the drive would be too hard and it ended up being a good call. Ice covered the roadways and most of the freeways and toll roads were shut down. I camped out in bed in my pj's most of the day and watched movies and finished reading a book. Things warmed up enough by the end of the day that the ice melted and things got back to normal.

Saturday morning was Masters Swim at 6:30 am. Coach Tim is riding us hard. I about died on the last block that we did. After 3400 yards, a second breakfast, and a change of clothes, it was time to hit the road with my Creepy Internet Friends!
Shawn(a.k.a. Hubster), Greyhound, and Coach Carrie
We tackled about 72 miles of the IMTX bike course and dealt with some wind. At one point, Coach Carrie and Greyhound dropped me off like a cheap dog along the side of the road. I was a little pissed about it and I just struggled on. After the ride and when I got home later that night, I took the bike out of the car and the front wheel was not rolling very well. IT WAS RUBBING THE BREAKS!!! Holy Catfish Batman! I remember hitting a bump in the road and having to react quickly to keep from going down. I guess that is where the wheel issues came in. With all the wheel issues that I have, one would think that every time I stop that I should check to make sure my breaks are not rubbing....not so much. I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

On Sunday, it was Run Day. We hit the IMTX run course and got some miles in there as well. Things started out chilly, but at the end of the first loop we had to ditch clothes in the car. The sun has been out for the last three days, but there is another blast of arctic air coming our way. It looks like I will be doing another Polar Bear Swim on Thursday morning. I got a run in today to break in my new shoes before having to use them for the Austin Half Marathon in 12 days. The wind kept temps in the running pants and long sleeve shirt zone.

And in other highlights, Bud had his first UIL (University Interscholastic League) Solo and Ensemble competition for band and he received all 1's (highest score!) and got a fancy medal on a ribbon that was pinned to his shirt when I picked him up from band sectionals. Last night he practiced his trumpet for over an hour on more music for competition and I also heard the Rocky Theme in there somewhere. What also surprised me was that I caught him watching "The Bachelor" and he exclaimed at the end of the rose ceremony that Michelle was, "...crazy! She needs to go!!!" Well, at least he may be learning about psycho girlfriends with out having to go through the process himself. I guess it is good to know how to spot them and know the warning signals. Ack! He is growing up too fast!

Ok, more fun swim pics to come.

Later Gators!