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Pure Austin Open Water Race Series, August 2015 race report.

Month one was popular enough that they did it again! I still don't love the pricing ($20 for a 750 or 1500m swim? There's gotta be more logistics involved for Splash'n'Dash, and it's only $10. Maybe if they can get more people to go, they can bring down the price. Of course, when does anyone ever DECREASE the price of something?) (woah, that was a long parenthetical there, what was I saying?!), but I do love the event, so I was back again.

After a nice 7 minute bathwater warmup, I lined up a few rows back again. My main goals for this month were to try to beat my time from last month, and to see if I could place in their new Masters division. My first race with a Masters division, since I became a Masters in February!

Just gonna spoil this.. I didn't accomplish either of those things. I swam strong and I felt good about my effort and my swim, but I ended up at 25:04, 4 seconds slower than last month. 6th woman overall, but I think maybe there was only the top masters, not 1-3 in masters, so one of the people who swims many lanes up from me in UT masters got that prize.

But I had a lovely time again. Got to see lots of friends, got to stretch my speed muscles, determined I'm quite consistent when it comes to my "fast" speed, and got some free PowerBar snacks on the way out. I'm sure I'll be back next month.

Pure Austin open water swim.
Treading water at the startline with Karen and Alissa

Mystery Knit at Me & Ewe, July 2015

A few months ago, Betsy suggested we check out an Intro to Knitting class at a new yarn and fabric boutique store that had just opened, Me & Ewe. I figured, hey, this is a down year for me, and I have some spare time, so why not? So we went, and we learned to knit, and I discovered that I did not harbor a secret natural talent for knitting. I was pretty bad, really.

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Pure Austin Open Water Race Series, July 2015 race report.

I didn't particularly want to race. I've been having a good run of pretending that racing doesn't exist (as you can tell, based on the tumbleweeds blowing by on my usually-just-race-reports blog). But this was Pure Austin's first open water swim race, hoping to become a series, and I wanted to show my support and boost their numbers.

Plus it seems like when I do my long swim on Sunday, I end up not swimming again until Wednesday. Monday off, Tuesday morning run, then swim on Wednesday. I wanted to get another swim in, and paying someone to do it seemed like it would increase the odds that I did it.

And it did!

I did a little 5 minute warmup swim, then sat around chatting with Karen and Kristi and other folks. There were 35-40 folks doing the 1500, which started first (5 minutes before the 750), and when we lined up, I started maybe 3 rows back. Behind Kristi and Meghan, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to hang anywhere near Kristi.

Pure Austin Open Water Race Series, July 2015

They counted down and blew the horn, and we were off. My goal was just to try to be going strong the whole time. I think I did a decent job. I didn't really get any contact at the beginning, and I tried to fall in behind a guy to draft, but kept overtaking him, so just went around him ultimately.

And then I was basically alone for the rest of the swim, at the first buoy. I was a little afraid I'd get out there and everything would just feel hard. I'd swum 4 miles two days before, and run 6 miles that morning, with 3 miles fast. But I felt just fine. And I pushed as much as I felt was maintainable.

As I came by the dock after the first loop, I sighted and noticed a ton of people on the dock, probably cheering. For some reason that made me nervous, so I made sure I breathed only to the right, so I couldn't see them again.

And then after a second drama-free loop, I was headed back in to shore. There was a guy ahead of me, and I tried to see if I could pick it up and catch him, but while I managed to get closer, I could never quite get to him.

When I got to shore, I crawled out of the water and across the finish line, and was done!

Results show I swam a 25:00 even! I think that the course is a little short right now, with the last buoydock being a bit in from where it's supposed to be. But regardless, I was 9th woman, which I'll take!

Kristi the crazyfast swimmer who I will never be as fast as was schooled by 3 young little hotshot swimmers who were completely in a league of their own. They beat Kristi by 5 minutes, and she beat me by 5 minutes. Crazy.

Even though I don't think it was a full 1500 meters (and who knows if it ever is), if each loop was ~12.5 minutes, it was my fastest loop, beating my old record of 12:36.

And it also beats my only previous 1500 race out there, which was a 25:43.

Overall it was a fun night, a fast swim, and I'm glad I ended up doing it!
(And then I went home, shoved food in my face, went to bed, got up at 4:30 the next morning, rode my bike to campus and did Masters. Ouch.)
happy running

Colin's Hope 10k: Swimming with Laura for Connor.

I'm busily training for the Colin's Hope Got2Swim Lake Austin 10k swim. It's still 2 months away, which is a good thing, because my longest swim so far has only been 1.75 hours, 3.1 miles. I have some work ahead of me to double that distance.

And also some logistics to figure out! My normal kayak guardian wasn't available for guardianing me this time, since he decided to do the swim, as well. Fortunately my second choice was available and interested.

Laura and Amy as Swim Angels

My main qualifications for a guardian were someone who knows me well, with whom I'm very comfortable, and who is genuinely enthusiastic about being there and ensuring my success. Someone I can have fun with. And then last on the list, someone who can kayak or SUP 6.2 miles down a river. And while my sister has never done that last thing, she has all the other stuff in spades, and is happy to train with me to get to the last thing.

So I'm super, super excited to have Laura as my guardian. We always have fun together, and we love to do events together, and she's excited about getting to yell at me. She's already started practicing.

Amy and Laura, back at the top!

With that taken care of, my next order of business was motivation. Raising money to increase awareness and help prevent childhood drowning is very motivating, but in order to make the swim a little more personal, to give it more meaning and a face, Alissa matched us all up with children who had drowned. She asked if I had any preference, boy, girl, little kid, older kid, and I asked for an older kid. You hear a lot (sadly, too much) about small children drowning, and there's a good amount of awareness out there, but not as much for older kids. I felt they needed a champion, as well.

And so I'm swimming for Connor Gage. When he was 15, he jumped off a dock into a lake, and he never came back up again.

I never knew Connor, or his family. But I've read a lot about them now, and his story hits close to home. He grew up on a lake. He spent his childhood in a lake. He was an excellent swimmer, and very comfortable in the water. But he always wore a life vest. And then one time he didn't. One time. That's all it took.

Texas Parks and Wildlife video about the importance of wearing life vests. It speaks with Connor's friend and his mom; so tough to watch, but so important.

Connor was a swimmer and a runner. They hold a 5k run in his honor every year, to Honor Connor. His family lives near Fort Worth. I can't help but think that if he were still here, one day our paths would have crossed. We might never have known it, but I bet we'd both have done the same run or swim event.

This isn't ever how I would have chosen to learn about Connor, but if I never got to meet him, I'm glad I get the chance to know about him. And I'm doing my swim in celebration of his life. Since he's not here to swim for himself, I'll do it in honor of him. And when things get tough out there on the water, I'll think of Connor and his family, and find strength in their strength and their bond, and push just a little bit harder and further.

Connor (behind) and his brother Riley in 2008

So thank you, Gage family, for letting me swim for Connor. I've made a donation to Connor's foundation, The LV Project, which encourages people to live buoyantly. To wear life vests on lakes, yes, (LV for life vest), but also to live like Connor did, "funny, happy, silly, full of life". I think that's a notion we can all get behind.

To support The LV Project (here's a list of projects they've supported in the past), please click here.

To donate to my swim and support Colin's Hope, please click here.

And if you can't donate, take a little time on Thursday morning, September 3rd, to send good thoughts to Lake Austin, to support me, my paddler and sister Laura, and our guardian angel Connor.

<3 Swimming
happy running

Boring life update, June 2015 edition.

If you blog often, you can get away with posting little vignettes that aren't really very content-deep. If you don't post for a while, then you start to think, "Oh, crap, I haven't posted in a while, and I really have nothing earth-shattering to say right now, but it's been so long, I feel like I can't post until something worth posting happens." I always fall into that trap.

So here's nothing earth-shattering, but a summary of the past.. uh.. since Ultraman? Yeah, sorta that. But the cliffnotes version.

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Cap 2K open water swim 2015 race report

I've really been embracing this whole Off Season thing. Ultraman last year, two 50k trail runs, and then.. not a whole lot of anything since then. Some riding in preparation for the Easter Hill Country Tour, but maybe 9 hours of riding since then, 3 of which were commuting. (Maybe I'll write a Life Update at some point and talk about that a bit. Probably not.)

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Easter Hill Country Tour 2015 weekend report.

When people have asked what I'm training for this year, Easter Hill Country Tour has been the only answer I had. Not so much "training for" as "trying to make sure I don't die out there".
I didn't even really know what distances I wanted to do, but I figured I'd aim for the longest distances each day, and SAG if I needed to.

The amount of pressure on me varied: Karen planned to join us out there, and is training for an Ironman in May. That means she would want to do the longest distances Friday and Saturday for sure. Then she had an injury and wasn't sure she'd be out there at all, so I thought, "Hey, I can just go ride the shortest distances if I'm not feeling great, and just have fun!" And THEN she was fine, and back on board for full distances. But THEN then Meredith decided to come out, too, and she needs lots of distance, so even though Karen wanted to ride with me, I knew if I wasn't feeling great, Karen would still have Meredith. Whew. Whirlwind of emotions.

We got there Thursday night and hooked up with Betsy,David,Pam,Jeff (Pam and Jeff had done their own EHCT that previous week, and were heading home the next day) for dinner at our old standby, Rails. While there, I exchanged text messages with Karen and Meredith, and it turns out Meredith wanted to start at 7 or 7:15 on Friday. Which was funny, since we'd just been discussing how the shorter distances Friday meant we could start later. Sometimes Ironman+ training doesn't really match up, philosophically, with just kinda half-ass training for nothing in particular.


We compromised and met up at 6:30 for breakfast, intending a 7:30ish leaving time. It was me, Matt, Karen, Meredith and Karen's friend Colleen, and we set out to do the 67ish mile route. Well, Matt and I did. The weather for Saturday and Sunday had a lot of potential rain, and Karen and Meredith didn't want to ride in the rain, and so they decided to do their 100 miler Friday and shorter distance Saturday. This is where I had to decide what I wanted out of the weekend. I wanted company, but I also wanted fun and no stress. And I didn't even know if I'd be able to ride a century at all on the training I'd done, much less one that I hadn't intended to do that day. So I decided as we rolled out that I was doing the 60whatever, even if they continued on to do 100.

Easter Hill Country Tour, Day 1! Matt and I rode 67 miles and crossed 30 cattleguards. Everyone counted the cattleguards in their language of choice. Dutch for Matt (dertig), Russian for me (тридцать), Muppet for Meredith (mahna mahna) and Pokemen for Kar

It was a great ride. The weather was fabulous.. cool and overcast, no real wind. The course was wonderful, exactly the reason I do this ride. Lots of cattleguards (30, we counted), but that meant lots of back roads and loose livestock and neat animals and beautiful views. We all rode together most of the time, though Colleen eventually left us behind. We just chatted and enjoyed each others' company.

When we got back near the hotel, we stopped at a convenience store to plan, and Karen and Meredith decided to do the 30 mile route to finish up their 100. I stuck to my guns and Matt and I headed back to the hotel. We showered, grabbed some sandwiches, then drove out on the route to make sure K&M were doing okay. They were doing a part of the course we'd started with that morning, so this time we stopped and snapped a few photos of the animals we hadn't stopped to photograph earlier. Found the ladies, made sure they were doing okay, and then went back to the hotel to wait for them to be done.

Easter Hill Country Tour, Day 1! Matt and I rode 67 miles and crossed 30 cattleguards. Everyone counted the cattleguards in their language of choice. Dutch for Matt (dertig), Russian for me (тридцать), Muppet for Meredith (mahna mahna) and Pokemen for Kar

We gathered back up that night, me, Matt, Karen, Meredith, Betsy and David, and ate at Grape Juice.

Dinner at Grape Juice!


Since they'd already done their 100, Karen and Meredith were okay with a slightly later start on Saturday (very slightly, like 7:45 or something). Matt continued to want to ride with us, so the three of us headed out and picked up David at the convenience store on the highway on our way out.

Up, up, up the hills in the neighborhood, then onto the highway and lots of discussion about how Karen was freaking out about Eagle's Nest again this year, even though it's never been an issue for her. She freaks out every time. So Meredith had built this up in her mind, then we went up it, and it was a complete non-issue, and we all laughed.

This year the Saturday route was mostly highways, which was a bit of a bummer. I prefer the longest ride be the one with the cattleguards and the loose livestock. Or both days! But this one was mainly highways. And chipseal. And eventually wind.

Easter Hill Country Tour, Day 2: Matt, David and I rode a course I&quot;m naming The 79 Mile Course Minus the Bits Matt Hates, giving us 73 miles for the day. Karen and Meredith rode with us just past the camel and then headed back in. That&quot;s a camel. Our phot

Karen and Meredith were aiming for around 60 miles, but instead of doing the 60 mile route, which would have had us parting ways really early (and them not getting to enjoy Eagle's Nest), they rode the longer route with us, then peeled off shortly before Comfort and took the highway straight back. David, Matt and I continued on, doing the longer route. We decided, given the weather and our undertrainedness, not to kill ourselves trying to do the century, and were happy doing the 75. Then Matt decided he didn't like some of the loops around Comfort, so we shaved some of that off, and ended up doing 72 miles total.

It was fun, but definitely pretty slow by the end, and I appreciated Matt and David staying with me.

That evening we headed over to the RV park and had dinner with Betsy, David, Julie and her husband, and Nancy at Julie's campsite. Tacos and s'more cones. Yum.


Sunday was the big unknown, with the highest chances of rain. Karen and Meredith had gone home after their ride on Saturday, and Betsy and David were planning to sleep in a bit and then make a gametime decision about whether they were riding at all. Matt and I decided to ride, assuming that it wasn't horrible weather.

We didn't set an alarm, just got up when we got up. The weather was overcast and windy when we went out to the breakfast buffet, but not bad. When we came back out to get ready to ride, it was drizzling. But not too bad, so we decided to go ride.

This was my least favorite route of the weekend. The whole first section was highways, which meant singlefile riding, which meant I was riding right behind Matt, who was throwing up mud and water and gravel (through no fault of his own, of course). I ended up very gritty, and couldn't even wear my sunglasses after a while.

Easter Hill Country Tour, Day 3: 40ish drizzly, dirty, hilly miles (I was behind Matt in the beginning, hence why my face is covered in mud). Too many highways in this year&quot;s routes. And back through Riverhills, the other way this time, where that grate w

It never really rainrained on us, just drizzled and stopped and drizzled and stopped. We got on some roads that were a little smaller and less trafficked, and could ride two abreast. Some of it was pretty, but mostly it was highways. We did ride on River Road, which I didn't even realize until we were done with it and came to the rest stop, because I don't know that I've ever ridden it that direction!

The last bit of the ride was definitely a part we've never done, which was Riverhills the other way. Same way we started out on Saturday, but the other direction. Up the hill we normally fly down to the highway/stop sign, then superfast down the other side with the traffic circles, keeping our speed in check because it was so wet.

As we approached the stop sign on that side, at the highway, there was a couple standing at a car yelling that the grate was super slick and to go slowly, and not ride over it. Matt heard the former, but not the latter, and turned very slowly across the grate onto the highway. And the grate was slick as ice, and his back tire went out from under him. I managed to stop just before the grate and ride through the very narrow, nearly non-existent gap between the grate and the curb, and made sure he was okay. He was bruised and scraped and annoyed, but seemed okay, and his bike rideable. A car drove by and asked if he was okay, and said that was the 5th person they'd seen go down there already. They really need to take that out of the course in the future, or cover it with something, or give a lot better/more warning.

So that put a bit of a damper on our Sunday ride, but we only had about 5 miles left, and we managed to make it back without further incident.

Even with that ending, it was a good weekend overall. Matt did all the rides with me, which I'm sure was painful for him, riding so much slower than his normal, but he never complained. It was nice to have that time with him.

And, of course, if it fits our schedule, we'll be back next year. It's so nice to just get away from the real world for a weekend, where our only obligations are riding bikes and eating food.

Final distance totals for the weekend: 68 + 73 + 40 = 181 miles.

Good stuff.

Rosedale Ride 2015 ride report.

Oops, I don't post much when I'm not really training for anything, and therefore not doing many events, it seems. But Matt and I decided to do Easter Hill Country Tour this year, and since that involves three days of riding, I decided I should actually do some riding. I'd been riding on my trainer sporadically over the last few months, but only very sporadically. As EHCT got closer, I started doing some longer trainer rides, including several 3 and just over 3 hour rides. When the weather was perfectly decent outside sometimes. On purpose. I just couldn't bring myself to go ride outside by myself.

But then Karen and I finally met up to ride outside! First ride outside since day 2 of Ultraman back in early August 2014! We rode 3 hours.... of Shoal Creek/Great Northern loops. Ha. But at least it was outside, where there are SOME hills and some weather/wind. We were calling that tiny rise on the loop Mount WhiteRock by the end. That's how out of road-practice we were. The next week we hit a very windy Parmer for 4.5 hours, and then the next week we decided to brave up and do the Rosedale Ride!

It'd been a lot of years since I did Rosedale, and I missed it. Matt decided to ride with us, and Karen's friend Leigh Ann joined us, as well. To avoid the typical mass of ill-behaved humanity involved in group starts, we started at 8, half an hour before the actual start.

It was chilly, low 50s, at the beginning, but with a short-sleeved jersey and arm-warmers I was fine. The beginning was just lovely, and we cruised along and chatted and had a great time. Of course, we were all aware that this was because we had a stiff tailwind all the way out, and that would change, but we tried not to think about that.

We stopped at my favorite rest stop in Norman's Crossing to say hi to the horses and have a cookie, then headed back out.

First time I&quot;ve done the Rosedale Ride in... a lot of years! I had a great time, despite the wind being worse than last week, and with the headwind at the end. And I totally pet the horses before we were told it was verboten. Then one tried to eat my helm
Emo horses.

Some time after that, we pulled ahead of Leigh Ann, and then Matt pulled ahead of Karen and I. Left to our own devices, Karen and I missed a turn sign at one of the few non-manned turns on the course. As we went through, being surprised there was no sign telling us what to do, I actually commented that this was Coupland, and we usually would turn left and there'd be an aid station right there. We got to the highway, and pulled into our old favorite convenience store to check the map, and sure enough, we should have turned left. When we got back there (back up and over the hill we shouldn't have had to ride over), there WAS a sign there, we'd just missed it, and there as an aid station right there, as well.

First time I&quot;ve done the Rosedale Ride in... a lot of years! I had a great time, despite the wind being worse than last week, and with the headwind at the end. And I totally pet the horses before we were told it was verboten. Then one tried to eat my helm
Cookie Toast!

We stopped at that aid station to pee and eat another cookie, briefly rode with Leigh Ann again, who'd gotten ahead of us during our lost period, and then eventually Matt rode back and found us, as well.

As we headed back in, into our anticipated headwind, Karen started drafting off of me. This was notable, because usually Karen is pulling me and I'm suffering and she's having to wait for me on every hill. I asked if she was doing okay, and she said she was suffering. Matt stepped up and jumped in front and blocked the wind for us the rest of the ride, pulling us up the hills and back to our cars, saving the day!

Overall it was a really fun ride. It was great to get more fun ride time in with Karen, since we haven't had as much of our usual training fun recently, and really fun to get to ride with Matt, who has to slow down 4-5 mph average to stay with us.

Surely one 62 mile ride gets one plenty ready for a weekend of nearly 200 miles of riding, right?! Right!

First time I&quot;ve done the Rosedale Ride in... a lot of years! I had a great time, despite the wind being worse than last week, and with the headwind at the end. And I totally pet the horses before we were told it was verboten. Then one tried to eat my helm
We lived! (And found Betsy and David!)
happy running

Creepy Crawlies & Critters 10k trail run 2015 race report.

First "race" of 2015! Er.. second RUN of 2015! Maybe a little non-ideal.

I took January completely off running. Zero miles. I was hoping that my heel pain would just magically go away if I didn't run, but alas it really didn't. So if it's going to hurt anyway, might as well run, eh? (And maybe look into other solutions to fix it. Maybe. But mostly just start running again.)

I returned to running on 2/1, with a slow and dismayingly sore-inducing 3 miles. Right around that same time, I also won a free entry to the last race in Trailhead Running's 2015 trail run series! In.. a week. They had a 5k and a 10k, and I figured since I already knew I could run 3 miles, why not give myself something to work toward (in a week), and sign up for the 10k? Which I did. I figured I'd run maybe 5 miles on Tuesday, 3 miles on Thursday, and then be good to run 6 on Saturday.

And then I got sick, and ran exactly zero additional miles the rest of the week. I felt well enough by Saturday to do the run, but I felt fairly ill-prepared, having run a total of 3 miles in the past ~40 days.

I had no goals other than to finish the 10k, and preferably not fall or injure myself. And I achieved all of those goals!

What? He was right there in the middle of the path.
Um, okay, so I started a little dramatically. But Tom was right there in the middle of the path taking pictures!

Pam and I started together, and ended up running the entire thing together. We just spent the whole time chatting and catching up and amusing the people around us with our nerdy, endless banter.

Pam.. is desperately trying to give me bunny ears?
I had no idea Pam was trying to give me bunny ears. PAM!

The course was lovely, not technical, and full of volunteers, most of whom were also friends, so it mostly went by really quickly. Well, except after 2 miles, I was already tired and a little sore, and mentioned to Pam that 5k really seemed like a delightful distance.

Pam shoving me into the cones as we came through the first loop.
Pam got really shovey as we came through the first loop.

But we finished the first loop and didn't question heading out for a second, and had just as much fun on the second loop as the first (but with a bonus stop for hugs and chatting when we came across Jody, doing her first trail race).

Fun! We are having it!
Fun! We are having it!

Overall, I had a lovely time. I was ridiculously sore for only having run 6.2 miles, and for only having run it in 1:12, but it really just shows you how quickly you can lose fitness if you don't use it.

Love this shot that we had no idea was being taken!
I love this shot that we had no idea was being taken!

Fortunately I also know from experience that it comes back really quickly, if you're consistent. And hopefully now my illness is over, my hiatus is over, my motivation will return, and I can pretend to be a triathlete again.

Jazz Spock! (What? It&quot;s a thing.)
Emily, Pam, Amy and Betsy celebrating their completed 10k with some Jazz Spock!