Monday, December 8, 2008


Last time I blogged, I described my magical half marathon experience. For me, running is no longer something I work to get through. Now, it's one of my states of being that allows me to two of my favorite things - expend excess energy and spend time with friends. Since my friend Kristin is my #1 running bud, it means I spend a great deal of time with her. She seems to be as happy with this as I am, so when I asked her to do a 12 mile trail race with me the weekend after San Antonio, she was all for it. "If I don't run with you, I won't run." Enough said.

Our 12 mile trail race took place near Buescher State Park at a piece of land called Rock Ranch. It was chilly when we left Austin, so we bundled up accordingly and made out way out. With dogs, boyfriends and another runner attempting her first twelve mile run, we arrived at the ranch to find it roughly 10 degrees colder than expected. I won't bore you with all the details of the run, but pine needle-cushioned trails and somewhat technical trails through dense woods kept me 100% entertained the entire time. We were hoping to finish in less than 3 hours, so we picked up the pace toward the end despite Kristin's aggravated IT band.

Finally, after what seemed to be a ridiculously long final two miles, the finish line was in sight. One of the things that helps me run is encouraging someone else. With her injury, Kristin was in pain and exhausted, so I repeated words of encouragement as we neared the end. About 50 yards from the end, the trail split and we were forced to choose between a rickety wooden bridge and mounds of freshly turned earth. Opting for the level planks of the bridge, I began crossing, calling out hazards to Kristin. As I reached the end, my toe sank into a rotten plank and I hit the ground. Hard.

Shocked by the fall and my proximity to the finish line, jumped up and sprinted (as best I could after 12 miles) to finish in about 2:54. Success! Oh, but wait, something didn't feel right...

When I fell, I hyperextended my foot. Think sprained ankle but on the top instead of the side. Post-race beers helped temporarily, but the next week was spent limping and bellyaching about my misfortune. All was well by the next Sunday when in my infinite grace I managed to ALMOST break my toe. It still hurts, but I'm still running!

Oh, the things we do for love of running...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Best. Run. Ever.

There is really no way to fully describe Sunday's race to you. Every time I try, words fail me, all adjectives fall short and I find myself drifting off into my memories.

This was not my first race. It wasn't even my first running race or my first Half Marathon. Still, it was the first time I ever felt the way I did, and do. If I digress here or there, following a tangential limb out to its spindly end, bear with me. And if you take nothing else away from this, it should be this - I'm not the same person I was Sunday morning when the announcer called my wave to the start line.

Friday Night, ~3:00 AM
I wake in a panic. A terrible nightmare left me gasping for breath, full of anxiety. I was running through San Antonio and my lips were split open, dry and cracking more as I ran through the cold. Every step widened the cracks a little more. Even in my sleep, my mind was trying to talk me out of the race.

Saturday, Noon-ish
Gathering the last of my gear for San Antonio, I hurried around the house hoping that I hadn't forgotten something vital. Salt tabs, Advil, body glide, race belt, fleece headband, Ashe tee, hoodie, gloves, socks, confirmation letter, Gu packs, timing chip, watch, RoadID and sunglasses. That was just for the run. Since we were staying the night, there was all sorts of other gear to be gathered, double-checked and loaded. As I went over the 'final' checklist, I noticed my running shoes in the closet. D'oh! Disaster averted.

Saturday, Evening
Packet pickup went smoothly enough. The ride up was fun, and I enjoyed the distraction Bradford, Kristin, Arvind and Sha's company offered. At dinner, the kitchen was full of people, laughter and chatter. Food was delicious and a quick check on our fundraising total brought a smile to my face. It was wonderful to see how much people cared about what we're doing and the cause we support. Bedtime arrived before I knew it and sleep came more easily that expected.

Sunday, Early Morning
Wake up time came all too soon. Once we got up and moving, everyone seemed very charged. There were red Asha tee-clad runners everywhere! I went for my habitual warm-up run in sub-freezing darkness, hoping that the sun would bring warmth and energy to my sleepy body. Upon arriving at the parking lot, I finally realized how massive this event really was. A steady stream of shuttles carried off an ever-growing river of people. We jockeyed for position in line, both waiting for the shuttle, then the toilet (EIGHT potties for 30k people), then the shuttle again. Overheating on the bus over, I noticed more and more people on foot the closer we got to the race start. We walked a few blocks to the beginning, hoping for the luxury of toilet paper for our last pre-race pit stop. Stepping over mounds of shed sweaters and jackets, we sped past the later waves and found Corral 21 - our wave. Minutes later, after hugs and giddy good lucks, we were off.

Sunday, The Race

This is why you're here, right? I wish this were more cohesive, but these memories come in flashes. I will try to keep it as chronological as possible.

Kristin and I worked to find our comfortable pace, Bradford warming up next to us. Once he sped up and broke away, we started pacing with a couple of APD officers. This only lasted about 2-3 miles until we left them at a water stop. Somewhere between that point and mile 10, I remember these things:

-Groups of girls dressed in '50's costume and Elvis get-ups...cheering and clapping as we rounded a center plaza
-"Love is a Battlefield" performed live by a lone musician in front of the Alamo
-A man riding a bicycle with a portable stereo playing a march call "Left, right, left right..."
-The Elmo signs "Hooray for you!"
-A terrible pain in my left hip that I was too afraid to mention to Kristin
-Pictures of lost loved ones on the backs of Team In Training runners
-Children holding out their hands, as if collecting hi-fives
-Contemplating leaving my hoodie at a small business to retrieve it late (I love my hoodie)
-A smiling Hispanic guy standing under a tree holding a sign that read "I love you, Jenny!"
-Cheering family members FREAKING OUT as their loved one ran by ("HOOOOOOOOOOLLY!!!!! Holly! Look! It's Holly!")
-The running "Spartan" in all his splendor
-The smiling couple who let me use the port-a-let in their yard...and there was TP!
-Dodging the street reflector in the middle of the road
-Randomly cheering and hearing my fellow runners echo back
-Realizing at 1:15 that we had a chance to hit our goal time
-Greedily grabbing 2 Clif Shots and then regretting the decision as they bounced around chaotically in my hoodie pocket
-My favorite sign - 'Your feet hurt because you are kicking a$$'

Many times during the race, tears welled up in my eyes. Most of the time, I was feeling joy - there were so many people out there supporting. They left their warm beds and committed to standing and cheering for thousands of people they will never meet.

That's what really hit me.

The whole reason I am running is to help countless children I will never meet. Each of those spectators gave me hope that, yes, I would prevail. And that's what we're doing for the kids in India. With our help, they will prevail and they will live a better life. So in the end, this post is for all my coach, my fellow runners, my Asha donors and all those cheering people lining the road Sunday morning. You're all part of this journey.

Thank you. There is no way I could have done this without you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why I Run...

On Sunday, 30,000 runners will gather to complete the inaugural San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. As the excitement and anxiety build, I keep reminding myself why I'm doing this - I'm running to help raise money for Asha, a non-profit dedicated to supporting education programs for kids in India.

In my second year on Team Asha, I've decided to devote my fundraising to one project in particular. That project is the Shristi Special Academy. Here's one student's story, as written by my teammate Vinod. I hope this offers insight into why I'm doing all this.


This story starts with a little girl named Deepthi.

An active and alert seven-year-old, Deepthi loves solving puzzles and playing with her friends. Like any other seven year old, she loves being the center of attraction in her class and takes a leading role in participating and initiating activities in her peer group.

What you will find remarkable is the change the past few years have brought about in her.

A history of birth asphyxia and seizures had left Deepthi weak and small for her age. Delayed development milestones meant that she was unable to chew or swallow – she was on milk even at the age of three. A history of hyper ammonia syndrome resulted in a very monotonous diet, which further contributed to her weakness. She couldn't walk or talk or localize visually. Her future looked bleak at best.

This was when her parents brought her to Shristi, in November 1998.

Shristi is a non-profit society, established in 1995 by 3 special educators with a vision to reach out to individuals with special needs. With unique programs designed to enable independence among the Mentally Challenged, Developmentally Delayed and those with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Shristi reaches out to all age groups. It remains among the few institutions which caters to infants and even the severely retarded across urban and rural communities.

The rehabilitation of those coming to Shristi includes therapeutic intervention with a focus on special education, sensory stimulation, physiotherapy and language stimulation.

Through an intensive, individualized and child-focused training program, Shristi has enabled many young children with developmental delays to go to normal schools, setting them on the path towards a more normal life. Several older individuals have gained employment enabling life-changing happiness.

Deepthi joined on one such special Early Intervention program in November 1998. The primary goal of her program was to ensure better nutrition and feeding practices, as this was the major problem faced by her mother. Special emphasis was also given to helping her catch up with her motor milestones, primary among them being walking.

Today at 7 years, although she still has seizures, which are controlled by medication, she has learned to walk, communicate through single words and gestures and take part in all activities of the class. She eats with minimal help under supervision and is on a toilet schedule to help streamline her bladder movements and achieve better levels of normalcy. She is receiving occupational therapy for her hand functions and through speech therapy will achieve better levels of communication.

Asha Austin's role is to help Shristi find suitable educators for various domains: Mental retardation, Autism and Vocational Training.

These educators are specialized to handle mentally challenged and autistic children at Shristi. Then Asha endeavors to find sponsors for these teachers and facilitates linking sponsors with them. Asha follows through by disbursing and monitoring the sponsors' funds. It works with both sponsors and Shristi in India to obtain regular progress reports of the children handled by the teachers and build a strong sponsor-teacher communication. The sponsor can also arrange a visit to Shristi through Asha and the project coordinators in India.

This program makes it possible for an individual to sponsor partial or full cost of supporting one teacher at Shristi Special Academy. The teachers at Shristi are special educators trained to work with mentally challenged and autistic children. We believe retaining educators in the system is the way to sustain education, particularly in the context of special education. Committed though they are, supporting these educators financially is a necessary part of retaining them within the system. One can become a sponsor for a teacher at Shristi for as little as $20 a month.


More details about Asha's support with Shristi can be found here.

Please donate any amount you can. The ongoing success of the Shristi Special Academy depends on you!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Running is Easier than Updating my Blog

Yeah...somehow I can manage to run 4 days a week, but I can't seem to post more than once every few weeks. I guess part of me worries that someone will be bored to tears with my tedious reports and detailed accounts of the uber-obsessive sport of running. Yeah, I said it. I'm obsessed.

I don't know how many run workouts I shirked over the many times I told myself that I wasn't really capable of improving from my tried and true 11-12 minute mile pace, no matter the distance. But guess what? I was wrong.

After a long weekend of action-packed, drama-filled fun, New Braunfels-style, I felt less than prepared for yesterday's 10k. Why, you ask? Well, here's the breakdown:

1. 10+ hours in heels
2. 1 10-Year HS Reunion Party
3. 1 order of fries and gravy (WhatABurger...eww)
4. 6 hours of restless sleep
5. 1 wedding, including encounter with my 'favorite' cousin
6. -15 glasses of water
7. 1 serving mashed taters for dinner

I think you get the idea...

So when I woke up yesterday, my lips chapped from dehydration, the goal I set for this race seemed as achievable as retiring at 30. I wanted sub-10 minute miles. My pace calculator predicted this feat, but that was based on a 2 mile time trial that NEARLY KILLED ME. Edgy and cold, my patience grew short before the race and I knew I needed my mind as an body certainly had no reason to be on my side at that point. After a 2 mile warmup that all but crushed my remaining bits of confidence, we made our way to the start. With water bottle in hand and my running buddy at my side, I said a quick prayer and decided to bank on my weeks of training to defeat these days of under-preparation. I'm no math whiz, but it wasn't looking good.

My brain was fuzzy and serene until we entered the Domain. Spectators cheered their support, sipping lattes from steaming cups while I sweated and cursed myself silently. I didn't feel bad, I just didn't feel great. I limited myself to a few choice peeks at my watch to verify that all was not lost, but otherwise stayed 100% focused and about 95% silent the entire time. It wasn't until I neared the race clock at mile 5 that I actually felt exhilarated by the idea that I was still going to reach my goal. Virtually numb from the waist down, I finally neared the 6 mile marker and turned on to the final straightaway, lined on each side by Asha cheerleaders and team members.

To a symphony of cowbells and cheering spectators, I crossed the finish line as a wave of nausea sent me staggering to the fence. Desperately, I tried to find a way through lest I make a huge mess by barfing on the pavement. Kristin finished at that moment and thankfully I was able to pull the focus away from how bad I felt and check on my running partner. We 'floated' away on numb legs, dizzy heads luring us to a water table nearby. After working briefly on Kristin's seizing calf, we made our way to the Asha tent. After hugs and high-fives, I made a pitiful attempt to stretch and looked again at my watch. It confirmed that I had, in fact, completed the race in time to reach my goal.

1:00:44 overall

I won't say that it was as much fun as a tri, but I felt pretty darn good about the work I did yesterday. For that matter, ALL of my team members and friends who races feel pretty darn good about yesterday. Everyone did an amazing job racing and showing support! Thanks to all of you who made my experience such an amazing one. Oh yeah, and one final thing:


Monday, September 29, 2008

One Month In

I know, I know. It's been awhile. Don't be angry...I haven't forgotten about you!

Tri season is over and I've completed about a month of training towards my ambitious goal of 4, count 'em, 4 half marathons in 2008-2009. I'm registered for San Antonio, and I'll be signing up for Dallas soon. If I could, I would just register for all of the races now and be done with it. However, I am realistic when it comes to injury and the general chaotic twists and turns of life.

I'm up to 8 miles in my long runs, tho at the expense of my IT Band. After a weekend off and some very serious cross-training this week, I plan to run 9-10 miles....SLOWLY. That puts me about a 5k away from the goal distance, which is really exciting!

In the spirit of this transition from Tri season to running, I'll go ahead and amend the blog title. Soon I'll be posting on a number of new developments, from new shoes to PT to a new Rogue workout that looks really cool. Tata for now!


Thursday, August 14, 2008


Oh, dear tri blog, I am sorry to desert you for so long!

I am two race reports behind with a third race on the horizon. Though I am not known for the brevity of my prose, I shall make this quick & dirty.

Cutest Damn Tri in Texas - Texas Ski Ranch - July 27, 2008
Swim:8:02, 2:40/100m pace
T1: 2:22
Bike: 43:07, 15.45mph pace
T2: 1:39
Run: 24:36, 12:18 pace
Total: 1:19:46

My overall time was 10 minutes faster than last year despite my lackluster bike performance. My projected goal was 1:13, so I was pretty happy with this time.

Temple Triathlon 2008 - August 10, 2008
Swim:8:51, pace 2:31/100m pace
T1: 2:02
Bike: 33:14, 16.43mph pace
T2: 1:25
Run: 26:00, 12:22 pace
Total: 1:11:32

My pace improved over last race in all but the run. However, there was a massive hill 1.5 miles into the run. I admit it, I walked it. That being said, I think my pace was actually better than at Cutest Damn, walk not included. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


My race bike is still as awesome as I remember! Steph & I did 4 loops on the Veloway last Saturday and it was a GREAT ride. I am extremely excited about Sunday's race. Really, it's just a matter of getting my race stuff together and praying that my bad wrist and shoulder don't hurt too much.

I moved last weekend, so my legs are a lovely collection of blossoming bruises and scabbed up scrapes. Somehow, I've also managed to lose most of the tan I acquired in Mexico. Knowing my skin, I will suck up the sun while in my studly tri gear, leaving my upper thighs a splendid, pasty white.

I'm registered for Sweet & Twisted at the end of August. I'm excited about this race as the course is brand-new to me. I'm not worried at all about the increased distances, but I do feel like I need to train more/harder for the run. My life has been so hectic in the last month that I haven't done much at all in that arena.

It's about time for me to mosey down to the cafeteria and find some carb-o-rific meal. I'm struggling to hydrate - it really makes all the difference - but I think I may be low on salt because I have to go to the potty CONSTANTLY!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bike Prep~Race Plans

I plan to race on my, get this, race bike. Problem is, I haven't ridden it in months and both tires are flat. Hopefully, they don't need to be replaced, but I ride at 7am, so I have little time to wait around and see. Today will be the day that I finally buy a floor pump, no longer relying on the kindness of strangers to get air in my tubes. I've also been shuffling 1 pair of SPD pedals between my two road bikes, and I am just sick of it. Performance Bike, get ready to take my money in exchange for a cheap floor pump and another set of Forte SPDs. I need 'em.

In regards to the race, I did the same distance race in 1:29:40 last year. Here's the breakdown and my projected times:

Swim: 10:04, 3:21/100m pace
Slow, slow, slow. I hope to swim around a 2:30 pace. That puts my swim right around 7:30 minutes, give or take.

T1: 3:25
What was I doing? Catching my breath? Hehehe... I really want to work on this one. The goal time is 2:45. I have a hard time running from the water to the transition area, but I hope to do so this time. Then, it's towel >> jersey >> socks >> gloves >> shades >> helmet. I wonder if I can skip and of that...

Bike: 48:28, 13.74 mph pace
On the bike, I am hoping for a 17.5 mph pace. That would put me at around 38 minutes for the ride. The bike is where I can really make the most time. This is slower than my last race last year, but I am not in the same shape I was at the end of the season. My last race, I came in 43/245 in the bike portion, which I thought was quite a feat for lil ol' me. Honestly, I have no idea what will happen here. Also, the bike is shorter after a shorter swim. Uhhh...Who knows!?!

T2: 2:22
This is a pretty average transition time, but I might be able to shave a little off if I put my mind to it. Let's say this will be about 2:15.

Run: 25:20, 12:40 mph pace
*Sigh* The dreaded run. I really want to run sub 11 minute miles, but I just don't know if it's possible. We do the first bike >> run brick this weekend, so I hope my muscles remember what to do! Let's just say 23 minutes for this portion

Which adds up to: 1:13:30

Geez, that seems pretty fast...

Still, it's 10 minutes slower than Bradford's time at The Rookie last year. Truly, I just want a better time that last year's, but it would be awesome to hit my target!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Race Planning

I made the mistake of looking at the Texas race calendar. Now I want to sign up for three more!

1 Couple's (did it last year...awesome!)
2 Jack's Generic (loved this one too. TSR feels like home)
3 Sweet & Twisted (Dilloman for women!)

I'm already registered for the Cutest Damn Tri at the end of July. Am I overcommitting again?


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dust Off the Cobwebs and Scrape Off the Rust

And so it begins again.

On Monday, I dusted off my running shoes, poor pariahs of my half marathon training. I walked half a mile, ran a fast mile, then walked another half mile. I haven't been on a treadmill in ages, but I felt OK with Ratatat blaring in my ears, providing a rhythm for my pace. And that's when it struck me...maybe I've been reluctant to run because my shoes are blown!

Tuesday, I started the morning with a swim at Stacy Pool. Two laps (133m) of pull buoy, two laps of freestyle and two laps of kickboard. I know, a paltry 400m, but I didn't want to overdo it considering how long it's been since my last swim. It felt great! And, I even got a compliment on my form. I will up each of these to 3 laps apiece next week. My training goal is to do a reasonably quick 600m without stopping before the race, which I think is very reasonable.

Last night, I went to Runtex to buy new shoes. Bernard, my shoe expert, informed me that I have been running in very heavy "big boy" shoes, so I ended up with some snazzy pink Wave Riders. I will probably wear Mizunos for the rest of my running days, but it was nice to try some other options to confirm that they are still right for me. :-) Yay for pink shoes!! Pictures coming soon...

Now, I am headed to my second yoga class of the week. I've been doing abs daily and I will ride the stationary bike 10 miles this evening. I REALLY need to get my bikes fixed...

Ta-ta for now!!