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The Past is Still Recorded Online

This blog is out of use and out of date. I am now posting on mercedesorten.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My First "What Was I Thinking?" Moment

Dear Self,

The illustrious Britney Spears said "I'm a smart person, what ... was I thinking?" when reflecting on her recent psychological trauma and strange behavior. I am saying that to myself after seeing the elevation of the run and bike courses for Ironman St. George. The 112 mile bike course contains two, eh-hem, hills, er--I really mean MOUNTAINS that climb up to almost a mile high. Basically, 1,700 foot elevation gain on the bike. Then a 500+ foot elevation gain on the run. Now when they said that St. George was at 3,000 feet, I took that literally, and I knew I could operate at that altitude. I did not take into consideration the massive hills they might throw at us. And if you take a look at the map pictured here of the St. George bike course, you'll see they are quite massive. I did not expect to be biking at 5,000 feet. Alas, as it turns out, I am. Or, I will be. I'm freaking out just a teeny-tiny bit.

The good news is my first response to seeing this course was "well, at least there are huge down hills after all of those huge up hills." That's my response and I'm sticking to it! Up hills with subsequent kick-backs make it worth the work. I will work, too. Super duper hard. And I will stay positive! I will search for the positive and squeeze every good-thinking bit of energy I can out of it. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it!

In other news, I felt like a wild animal during my workout at Quarry Lake last night. I did a fast 750m wet suit swim in the open water of the Quarry and then a 2+ mile run. For the first time in a long time, I took only 5 seconds to jump into the icy 65 degree water of Quarry Lake. Granted, I had a wet suit on, so it should have been easier to take the initial plunge, but I have to admit even when I have a wet suit I take upwards of 2, 3 to even 5 minutes to get into cold water. I have a sinking sensation that this cryophobia (fear of cold) will not bode well at the upcoming Lonestar Quarter Iron. I know that I will need to be able jump into the cool water of the Gulf. And so I have to find a way to make myself do it. So, I devised a very complex plan in order to bribe myself into getting into cold water. In my head, I said "Ok, Mercedes, if you don't all OUT JUMP into this water in 5 seconds there will be NO POST WORKOUT SMOOTHIE for you!" And so I counted down, part-way through wondering if I would actually jump in, and by the count of 5, I was in, and I felt SO STRONG in the water. On the run afterward, I used the 1.1K loop to help me do a tempo run. I ran the first 1.1K slow, in about 5:30. The next loop was 5:09, the next loop was 4:30, and the next loop was 4:00. Then I did a long cool down. I used the same complex bribing tactic as I did to get myself into the water quickly. In my head I thought "if this repeat isn't at least 20 seconds faster, no SMOOTHIE for you!" And needless to say, I got the smoothie. And it tasted even sweeter than I thought it would.

Current book I'm reading: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Official: May 1, 2010 - I will be competing in Ironman St George

I did it. I just signed up this morning for the Ironman. I signed up for Ironman St George in Southern Utah. I had heard a bit of buzz about it through friends and on the internet, and I had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks. Since I was 12 years old I have wanted to do this event. I wanted to do an Ironman before I ever even thought about doing a marathon. And so when I found about this new event in Utah, I was extremely excited. So far, I believe Southern Utah is the most beautiful place, aside from Kona, of course, that Ford Ironman has chosen to hold an event. Plus, the date, May 1, 2010, is right before my 27th birthday. I just had a lot of positive, driving-forward and invigorating-type feelings associated with this particular race. So yesterday I found out that it was officially announced. When I read the article, I started to tweak out a bit. My insides were alight. And then when I found out that online registration was open for the inaugural event, I started getting even more nervous. It was all I could think about. I got the exact same feeling that I got when I first read about the Austin Marathon years ago. The moment I read about it, I knew I wanted to do it. I was sure, 100%. Back then, I felt a very poignant mixture of fear, joy and excitement. Today, I felt the same sheer, pure joy was flowing through me as I thought about signing up for this Ironman. I called my mom, and she asked a lot of details about the distances, the nutrition, the training. I stopped her and I was like “Mom, I’m not asking you if you think I can do it. I’m asking if I have your support.” And of course, she said yes. And she said “I think it’s a good idea, but don’t quote me saying that.” I laughed, remembering I had a similar conversation with her the day I decided to do the marathon. And then I said “Mom, I’m going to remember you saying that forever.” This morning, I woke up, hopped online, and signed up for the IRONMAN. I’m doing the Ironman.

2.4 miles swimming

112 miles biking

26.2 miles running

May 1, 2010

I am exhilarated. I just took the first step of many, many more on this journey.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Conquering Your Fears: Logic Trumps Fear

These past few weeks I have been learning many lessons in the stormy weather that has been my cycling. Actually, I'm getting a lot of lessons TAUGHT TO ME. Read: Force-fed. I'm fine with this.

This past Sunday was no exception. Thanks to my friend Mark, I found myself on the same 35-40 mile ride that I went on last week. The one that my good friend crashed and wrecked on. Needless to say, I was quite nervous before the start. Adding to my nerves was the sudden downpour that began just as we were about to throw our wheels down. Enter scared voice in the back of my head: "Mercedes, don't do this, it's too cold, you don't have the right gear, you said you were never doing this loop again, you'll fall, you'll wreck, especially in this weather..." The scared voice was going on and on. Seemed like it wouldn't stop! And my stomach was feeling gooshy like it does when I have a very important race ahead of me. This wasn't a race. This was a ride. A training ride. A planned 35 mile ride and then 30 minute run. A fabulous brick workout. And I was standing there in the rain waffling on if I was going to back out of it or not. My good friend Joe steps in, interrupts the fearful voice in my head and speaks reason, of all great things in this world.

Joe said, plain and simple: "Mercedes, listen, what if it rains at the Lonestar Quarter Iron? What will you do then? What if it rains in another tri, are you going to back out then?"

The fearful voice quieted and seemed to ruminate a bit. Then I started visualizing wet tires slipping out from under me on a curve and me spilling onto pavement in a crumpled, bloody mess. I shook my head, doubtful. The stomach crunched up again.

Then, I reluctantly admitted my fear to Joe. "Joe," I said, "I'm scared to do that loop again. I'm scared to face the place where [our friend] fell."

And then Joe said the most intelligent, logical thing ever: "It's perfectly normal to be scared after seeing a crash, Mercedes. You can do it, you need to prove it to yourself that you can do it. Today is the day."

The fearful voice was completely silenced. My stomach started to calm down. I knew Joe was right.

And we started to ride.

The rain was bad, and it got worse. It got colder. My fingers, unprotected by full fingered gloves, were bright red the first half of the ride. Every part of my body was wet, but I didn't mind the wet as much as the cold. The cold was pretty brutal.

We get to the Decker loop and I just hunker down and focus. I work the hills, because when I do, I get warmed up and it actually starts to feel good.

As we're approaching the spot my friend fell, everything around me goes silent again. I seem to be spinning in slow motion. I'm all by myself, I've pulled ahead of the pack I was riding with. I concentrate on the horizon as I'm replaying the spill in my head. Tears try desperately to creep out of my eyes as my head replays the trauma that happened at the top of the hill in front of me the previous weekend. I keep spinning and I focus on avoiding the cracks on the ground and I glide right past the spot that I never thought I could ride on again.

A wave of relief combs over me like a warm blanket. The sun starts to come out in those heaven sent rays begin to warm me up for the first time in 20 miles. I start to smile and speed up. I finally start to feel good.

We finish, and I look at Joe expectantly, knowing he probably doesn't want to do the 30 minute run we had planned after the ride.

I talk him into it: "Joe, I know you don't want to do this run, but trust me, this brick will be good for you and your legs will thank me for it on race day"

Joe contemplates for a little while, eying his trunk where I know his running shoes are stashed. He doesn't respond.

"Ok, I'll meet you over by my car," I say, assuming he just consented to go run.

I'm lacing up my running shoes as Joe runs up to my car. I smile.

And we started to run.

When we got back to Jack and Adam's there were 2 breakfast tacos left. We promptly devoured them as if they had just been waiting there for us.

Joe turned to me and said "I provided the encouragement for the ride and you provided it for the run."

"I know," I said, smiling, "Thanks, man."

I meant it. Logic over fear FOREVER!!!

Current book I'm reading: The Story of A Marriage

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flats are FUEL *or* Three, no wait FOUR Strikes and You're OUT!

Originally uploaded by neqadk.

This past weekend was not a cycling success. It was a failure in many ways and I'm having a hard time getting my head around what exactly happened.

A close friend crashed 20+ miles in out on Decker Lane on Sunday. Thankfully her helmet protected her head and her left hip took the brunt of the fall. She was in and then out of the hospital that afternoon only suffering an ankle sprain, serious road rash and contusions. Not to mention her poor, beat up bike and a dented helmet that needs replacing. Please keep her in your thoughts as she recovers. After the ambulance and fire fighters checked her out, they carted her off to St David's. I, however, still had to ride 20 miles back. And they were a hard 20 miles full of worry and trauma. The moment I got back from my ride, it was off to St. David's to support and be there for my friend. Come to think of it, though, the 20 miles back were not hard physically, though that was the longest distance I've cycled yet, it was more difficult mentally and emotionally.

So now let's talk about why I was riding Sunday at all. As you may know, I was slated and all signed up to ride Pedal Through the Pines 50 miler the day before, Saturday. That's another lot of strikes and failures. Suffice to say that I learned a lot but I'm still incredibly frustrated with the whole experience. Saturday started with me waking up, checking out my bike, and realizing the my front tire was completely flat. "BOO-HISS!" I thought, "Oh, should be quick fix, I'll change it when I get to Bastrop" I thought, and a packed my bike up and drove out to the start of the ride. I was so excited, 50 miles was the magic distance, a half century ride. I really wanted to do it. My buddies had agreed to do it with me. I changed the tire with the help of the same close friend who crashed on Sunday. Easy-peasy, we thought. Then, as we were pumping it up, the tire popped with a loud BANG and it went flat again. Slightly annoyed, I ran off to borrowed a spare tube from a kind soul from Austin Fit, my running group. I looked at my watch, it was only 8:30 AM at that point, plenty of time to change the blow out. My buddy and I worked faster on the second flat. We changed the tire again, together. It went great. All said and done, I got on my gear with 10 minutes to spare until the start of the ride.

I hopped on my awesome ride, happy, excited that we had made it through those difficulties and were still going to be able to ride. As soon as those positive emotions flowed through me, I then hit something, and my back tire blew out. I stopped to look back at it in horror and shock, all without clipping out. I subsequently fell over in exasperation and frustration. Another flat! The THIRD one of the day! 10 minutes before the start of the ride! I started thinking 'Three strikes and you're out' but no, we had to try. I didn't want to give up on the 50 miles ahead of me before even starting. So we somehow scrounged around and decided to use my friend's last spare tube. We changed the tire like pros, only slightly exasperated. As we were pumping it up, my friend pulled off the pump and the stem of the tube popped off. The tire instantly deflated, and so did our hopes of riding on Saturday. We all drove home. I took my little Fizgig over to Jack and Adam's to have them take a look at it. I decided I'd had enough of flats for the day, and I had a professional fix the back tube. I tried to psyche myself up for another 40 mile ride the next day, but my feelings were, quite literally, deflated.

As I was loading up my bike later that evening for the ride the next day, I stopped dead in my tracks in horror. The back tire, that the professional and J & A had JUST FIXED, was FLAT AGAIN. I was livid. I took it immediately to the bike shop, where I knew a few friends were having a triathlon training party. I walked up to the front of the shop, the lights were on. The door was locked. Pitifully, I stood there, staring at my flat back tire. I was about to cry when Desiree Ficker and Jack Murry walk up to the door. Jack said that I just looked too pitiful standing there, he just HAD to re-open the shop for me. He fixed the tire lickety split and I haven't had problems since. I was overjoyed to get the chance to talk with Desiree and that Jack re-opened the shop for me. The day had started to get better. I went outside, saw some friends and drank a very necessary beer to celebrate the fact that I was finally flat free. I decided later with the help of my Ironwoman friend, Moe that these flats can be fuel to get back out there and tear it up (with a lot of extra tubes)! So I've found a positive spin on all of this, I think.

Three flats...no wait, FOUR flats...and you're out. Let's just hope my friend is better soon so we can get out there riding again and really using these flats and these falls as fuel for more great riding. I'll have a great ride soon, I just know it. My injured friend and more friends will be out there soon for the Rosedale Ride on 03/28. We'll be sure to be carrying lots of extra tubes anywhere we can stick them! And awesome, protective helmets, too.

Be careful out there, everyone.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On: My New Cycling Mantra

Keep Calm and Carry On
Originally uploaded by Ms.walking on sunshine.

I'm embarking on something that I've wanted to do for almost a year on Saturday. A 50 mile, half century ride. It will be Fizgig and my longest ride yet, and both of us are all tuned up and excited. Fizgig recently enjoyed an awesome tune-up from Beto, the owner of Pure Austin. He kindly gave her drive-train a nice cleaning and she shifts better than ever! I'm so excited for Saturday. My body feels ready.

This photo, "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON" is going to be in my head for most of the ride. It's my new riding mantra. I've planned my fueling, my gear, and most importantly my sunscreen application and I know I'll be ready to go this Saturday for Bastrop's famous Pedal Thru the Pines . I will be embarking on this long awaited journey with a few of my ride radar buds and babes - Jim, Liz, and Rebecca. I might also be riding with a few friends from an Austin Cycling Association ride. My nerves are charged with excitement, I could not be more ready to take on this 50 mile benchmark goal on the road to bigger and better goals. I've been wanting to ride this far for over a year and finally I am doing it! I can almost taste victory, and victory certainly tastes sweet. Like goo. I will crack at it this weekend and update on how it all goes.

Reminder to self: When times get tough at mile 38 and 45 of this half century ride, I need to just breathe out and in deeply, take a swig of water or a drop of goo and KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

"Life is such win!" ~Janet K

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Fresh As A Daisy 5K - PERSONAL RECORD!

This Saturday I raced in the ARC Daisy 5K, the first race in the popular ARC Sprint Series. I used the Sprint Series last year to hone in on my speed, and it definitely helped me have an even faster marathon time come Fall 2009 in San Antonio. I shaved roughly 3 minutes off my marathon PR in 2009. I've long been a believer in garnering speed before you launch into marathon training, and 2009 was a perfect example of how well that method worked for me. I'm hoping it works even better this year and gets me to a personal best and perhaps a Boston Qualifier in my next fall marathon!

I will start training over the summer for my fall marathon. I'm still toying with the idea of doing the Chicago Marathon. There are so many other events I'm interested in around that time, I'm suffering from FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT). There are SO MANY marathons and triathlons out there! So hard to pick just one. In my heart of hearts, I know Chicago is the right one. It's flat, fast, scenic and has lots of support. I just need to come upon that realization for myself and in my own time.

The Daisy 5K went great. I hit a recent PR and I'm very proud of that! My all-time PR was set back in high school when I was only training for 5K - that was a 19:52. That's in the past, though, more recently I haven't been able to break 22 minutes. Saturday, though, I did! I did it, with winds of 30mph pushing forth during the last mile. I pushed really hard into the wind at the end, knowing I had to do it to stay under 22. I felt like I was going to throw it at the finish line, but somehow, when that volunteer handed me my orange daisy, I felt refreshed and wonderful within mere instants.

Now that's what I call FLOWER POWER.

I emerged from the finishing chute, feeling fresh with my daisy, and I ran off to cool down along the last stretch of the race, looking for my friends and cheering them on like nuts. The food and festivities afterward were great, ARC puts on great races, bar none.

After chowing down, I headed to my gym for some hatha yoga. Crazy enough, I ran into a fellow competitor in my age group who beat me by a minute. We chatted about training, triathlon, and running for a long while in the middle of the gym. It was cool to meet her and I'll have you know I'm determined to beat her next time we race. I don't know how fast she is on the bike, but we're both doing the Galveston Lonestar Olympic Tri and if I have anything to say about it I'm going to GET HER!! It's going to be great. So was the Daisy, though. And I have a feeling that if I would have trained more than a measly 20 miles total in the month of February I probably would have been neck and neck with her. But that is all could-a, should-a, would-a, didn't and it doesn't matter anymore. The only thing I can change now is the present. And as far as today goes, I'm off to do a double spin class this afternoon at my gym from 6-8p. Beto first, Zach-attach second at Pure Austin, the little gem of a downtown gym.

Oh and Sunday? I took a jaunt out on Fitzhugh in the late afternoon after the wind had died down. Lance's stomping ground. I pedaled through the hill country with a smile on my face and fire in my heart. It was gorgeous cycling into the sunset and I couldn't help but dream about future half Ironmans and Ironmans. What a way to cap off a Sunday.

Current book I'm reading: The one I wrote.

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I am a marathoner. That means I have a tummy that could sieze a spider.