Favorite Wall in Austin for Blog 2

The Past is Still Recorded Online

This blog is out of use and out of date.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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pre Inspires Me

"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him,' and I just took off." ~Steve Prefontaine

I say that a lot. Inside my head. When I'm racing. It might be obvious that I have a competitive drive. A friend of mine deemed me the most competitive person he knows, but I like to believe he was being facetious. Anyway, I'm excited to train this weekend and do my first solo long run in months tomorrow morning. I plan to do a easy 8 or 9 on Lady Bird Lake. Out to Enfield and back.

And Sunday, its waking up at 7 in the morning to head to my friend's house on Wells Branch. We're doing an out and back on Parmer. Hopefully we'll be early enough that there will not be much holiday related traffic or bad weather. About 6 or 7 people from the RIDE RADAR Newsletter that I send out are going to be very disappointed if the weather doesn't hold up. Currently it's going to be 76 degrees with T-storms 70% chance of precipitation. I guess I'll be wearing my rain slick!

In other news, I need to take some digital photos this weekend of me running in my Austin Fit running gear for the website. I am coaching the summer session again, and I'm really excited. The director of the program requested that I write a running biography and submit a running photo sometime next week. Fortunately I already have the bio written, now I just need to focus on the glam shots. If the photos turn out favorably, perhaps I'll post some of them on here soon.

In any case, wish me luck on yet another successful training weekend! When it's raining on me Sunday morning, I'm just going to say "Pre would have rode (or ran) in the rain!"!!!

Current book I'm reading: The Dogs of Babel and the short story Breakfast at Tiffany's
Races in the immediate future: April 25th Gov-nah's Texas Round-Up 10K. I'm hoping to break 45! :)

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Eagles In the Tummy: Lonestar Quarter Iron Triathlon

Galveston beach. Shining, imported white sand. The sea breeze cradling the salt on its strong wind blew me with a rush into Houston, and then Galveston. The buildings ripped open by Hurricane Ike. A triathlon festival was all set in the middle of this windy, Hurricane ravaged chaos. Hundreds of capable athletes gathered in Moody Gardens this past weekend for a Sprint triathlon, a Quarter Triathlon and a Half Iron. I was one of them and proud to be there, happy to be able to compete. I was grateful to be alive.

It was with this gratefulness and awareness that I woke up at 4:15 on Sunday morning for my first triathlon of the season. Everything I did that morning felt like it was done with intention. As I zipped up my transition bag, it felt like I would remember that single action forever. Everything was moving in slow motion. I was ready to tri. I had the Ironman at the forefront of my mind. My companions were focused, too as we drove into Moody Gardens and listened to my friend Joe's expertly crafted mix.

As I unloaded my bike and expertly pumped up my tires (yes I'm celebrating the small successes, here. I've had so much tire trouble in the past and had none Sunday morning! YAY!) I realized my brakes were off kilter. I pulled up the quick release and walked my bike to transition with my companions. We were mostly silent, thinking, contemplating the distance ahead.

A nice mechanic from Bike Barn adjusted my brake pads with an allen wrench in less than 2 minutes. After getting body marked, I headed to my spot on the rack. 1315. I set up my transition and chatted with a few friends who were nearby. Natasha VDM and Michelle G wished me good luck. Transition closed shortly after I was finished pulling on my wetsuit to the waist and we all walked somberly over to the swim start. I pulled on my pink cap and tucked my two braids inside of it. Ray found us and wished us good luck; he was nice enough to come down from Austin just to support us! I hugged him and then went to take a dip in the water.

As we entered the water, tons of girls around me exclaimed about the cold. I thought the water was warm! I guess that is what happens when you train in 68 degree natural springs like Deep Eddy and Barton Springs. This water was WARM compared to that. I felt great immediately in the water. I knew I would have a good, relaxed swim. I did not give it my all; I was definitely cognizant of the necessity of energy conservation at this point. The Clydesdale guys started ahead of us girls, and I passed most of them easily. I felt amazing and strong in the water. I love my wet suit. The salt water bit my lips a bit but I was out of the water in less than 20 minutes and running up the astro-turf to the wet suit strippers. Per instructed I unzipped my wet suit to the waist and lay down on the ground in front of one of the wet suit dudes. I was AMAZED at how fast he pulled my wet suit off my legs. I've struggled with that thing so much and he made it look easy...he ripped that thing off in less than 2 seconds. I felt like a little seal as I ran off to get my bike.

I sipped some Gatorade and headed out to the bike course. The first 10 miles went by like mud. I kept wondering when Michelle G would come and get me. When she finally did, I tried to grab onto her wheel but the headwind was a bit too much for me. My thin Danskin tri shorts and the pancake flat terrain along the beach made my booty ache. Despite that pain, I felt at peace near the waves and with the sea breeze blowing directly into me. I'm no stranger to wind. I love wind. I also love hills and I am shamed to admit it but I missed them on this course. Masochistic, maybe? I felt good at the turn around and I kept my nutrition in mind and ate throughout the bike. I passed and got passed. I know I have more work to do on the bike. The more often I'm on it, the faster and more efficient I will get. Come on, 5mph faster, come to me!!! As I rode along the seawall I sang some Jay-Z lyrics and thought of my good friend Janet. For some reason the water really inspires me and I felt a strong push from it as I neared Moody Gardens. I pushed it in and as I neared transition, I downshifted as low as I could go and spun super fast like my friend Jess instructed me. As a result of this trick, I did not feel gooey loose-y goosey legs coming off the bike. I ran to transition and was excited to put my running shoes on. I had my eye on a couple of chicks who passed me on the bike.

Excited to finally be running, in my favorite element, I started out too fast. I blasted out a 6:30 minute mile that seemed to go on forever. I finally settled in to a 7:30/7:45 pace and kept passing people. That felt good. I caught a lot of the people that passed me on the bike, and with every pass I gained confidence and speed. I started narrating inside my head. I have the most ridiculously positive self-talk during my running in triathlon. It is humorous. To my embarrassment, I will share some of it: “You’re strong-strong-STRONG, Mercedes, you’re a Queen bee when it comes to running. Pass him, get that guy, take him out show him what you’re made off. Steel. You’re TOUGH-TOUGH-TOUGH. You pass that guy’s ass he is grass keep pushing gotta keep pushing.” I came upon a couple of women who seemed to want to run with me and I out-paced them every time. I would not let anyone mess with me on the run. I never let anyone pass me. Running is my game and I played it well during this triathlon. As I rounded the second loop, cheers from my dear friend Corrie helped me press on. “Finish strong!” she called and I picked up the pace more. I took goo, flat coke, Gatorade and some power bars on the run. After that goo at mile 3, I felt amazingly better and pushed it harder. I saw my special on my second lap and I passed Joe as I neared the finish. He looked good. I found the finish line and gave it what I could. I saw the clock ticked 3:09 as I crossed and I was overjoyed that the announcer did not mis-pronounce my name like Evil always does. Evil always calls me Mercedes Orteen or Ortega.

The volunteers and support were great at this race. This was probably the best run race I’ve ever competed in. I was very impressed. The volunteers went above and beyond to cheer and encourage everyone at every stage in the race. The bike support was really good, too. I saw a lot of people with flats out there. Somebody was watching out for me on Sunday because I did not get a single flat. I kissed my bike, Fizgig, later that day thanking her for the good work.

Post race I was in a haze and I walked around chatting with random people. I ate a power bar and some of the flavor-ice. Everything seemed surreal. It started to get really hot and I stayed in the shade stretching as much as possible. I knew I had a while to wait. I chatted with Michelle G and saw Natasha but didn’t talk to her. I went to cheer on runners as they finished their second loop or last loop of the course.

My special looked AMAZING at the finish. Joe looked good, too. It was his first triathlon! I’m so proud of him. Check out Joe’s blog to the right of this posting. Joe is the one that coined the phrase that I used in the title of this blog, the one about the eagles. Joe said he had "eagle sized butterflies" before this tri and I found that metaphor to be highly amusing and inspiring.

My support group and I went out of a much deserved, delicious seafood meal at Guido’s on the seawall after everyone finished and got a massage. I thoroughly enjoyed my gulf shrimp and fresh oysters at Guido’s. I finished the day with the same gratefulness that I started it with. I was grateful to be alive and with people that I care deeply about. This weekend was a triathlon success. I’m ready to get back on the bike, that’s for certain. I’ll definitely do the half Iron near those same waves on that same white sand beach next year. I know I’ll be (even more) ready then.

Current book I'm reading: The Dogs of Babel
Current song that is motivating me: Jay-Z "Blueprint 2"

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bicycle Sport Shop Bike Commuter Challenge

I still don't have my dream commuter bike. Despite this, I am still I'm thinking about doing this bike commuter challenge: http://www.austincommuterchallenge.com/

A message from Patti Hill: The contest will take place in May — Bicycle Month in Austin. Cyclists can pick one of two leagues in which to compete — the Committed Commuters, who will compete May 4-31, or the OK I’ll Try It league, who will compete May 11-17.

Participation is free.

The challenge aims to promote cycling as a green alternative for trips to work, school, the grocery store or anyplace else you’d normally drive. The store’s goal is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions by 97,000 pounds, burn a bunch of calories and save $22,000 in gas money.

Who's with me?!

Current book I'm reading: The Reader

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009


This past Sunday was a perfect day for running. A slight chill hung in the early spring air as I warmed up alongside of the Austin American-Statesman, anxiously anticipating my first road race of the year. My purple bib number flapped in the air as I jumped up and down to keep warm. Though it was a bit chilly before the start of the race, the sunny, 40 degree temps with no winds were ideal racing weather.

The first mile up Congress was nice and I felt myself warming up just as I was going up the first hill on 11th street. "I love hills" I said, under my breathe as I bounded up. The slew of hills on Enfield felt short to me and I was surprised to find I was not breathing hard as I easily climbed them. I looked down at my watch thinking that I was going slow, but really I think I was going pretty fast. The 3 mile or 5K 1/2 way point came faster than I thought. I think I was at 22 minutes at that point. I still wasn't breathing hard. I realized that meant I had better speed up. And speed up I did to a finish of 45:10. Averaging 7:16 minute miles.

The second half of the race got harder, probably because I was going faster. I began to see some of my Statesman co-workers handing out water and cheering. "Hi friends!" I called to them wistfully as I breezed by and grabbed a cup of water to sip on. I knew I was going fast at that point and I still felt incredible. As we were passing by Austin High School, a very friendly co-worker called to me "just over a mile to go!" and I kicked it in even harder at that point. I remembered that right by Austin High 2 years ago was where I said in my head "I wish I was running the marathon instead of this freakishly fast 10K." Needless to say, I wasn't wishing that I was running a marathon this past Sunday. I was thinking "wow, 10Ks are just like the best distance, the most fun tempo-run ever!" I was 100% happy with my 10K finish. As I crossed the line and looked down at my watch, I saw 45:13. I paused, in shock. Did I really see a 45?!?! 45! The magic number! I did my 10K in 45 minute! "45 FREAKIN' MINUTE!" I called out, to no one in particular. I looked up at the sky, elated, shocked. I had not trained for this. I hardly ran 30 miles per month these past 2 months and my best time came to me. A few happy tears leaked out of my eyes and a huge smile graced my face as I walked through the finishing chute. I saw Des, my idol, talking to some shirtless guy at the finish. It had a feeling she won. I wanted to go up and congratulate her, but I wasn't 100% sure of her win, so I didn't. I walked on and then jogged to the South 1st Street bridge to cool down, cheer on my friends, and stretch.

After collecting my compadres, I headed to the Guaranty Bank Tent to chow on some much needed breakfast tacos, scones and fruit. I chatted with Pam LeBlanc, Tony P, John Bridges and Eddie Burns about their finishes. They all did great!

Later that day I did a 13 mile bike ride. Afterward, someone special treated me to 2 scoops of my favorite Baskin Robbin's ice cream. Peanut Butter 'n' Chocolate. THE BEST ICE CREAM EVER!!! I have decided, I only get to eat that ice cream when I PR. Considering I have been addicted since childhood to this particular flavor, I have a lot of work to do so I can keep getting that Peanut Butter 'n' Chocolate BR in my tummy on a consistent basis.

In other news, this weekend I am doing my first triathlon of the season. It also happens to be my first Quarter Ironman. Sunday, April 5th is the big day for the Galveston Lonestar Quarter (and Half) Ironman. We'll be swimming .6 mile in the bay, 28 miles on the bike, and a 10K plus on the run. Good luck to friends competing in the New Orleans 70.3 and to all of you who are headed to Galveston for the weekend festivities.

Current book I'm reading: The Dogs of Babel

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