Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boats & Imaginary Friends

I'm seeing trends in the themes of art I like. I used to favor pieces with trees, and then I really became attached to works with birds. Now I'm obviously moving into a "boat" phase. Saw this on Amanda Blake's blog this afternoon.... I love it.

Clover's Imaginary Friend NavigatesBy the way, I want an imaginary friend who will navigate for me. I think I'm doing a fairly good job, but every now and then I'd like to hand over the steering wheel. I guess we all want that, huh?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


There is one event that I look forward to every year. (That is a giant understatement.) Okay, I kinda plan everything around this event. I have not missed it in 8 years. I am either there when the gates open, or oftentimes before. When I used to have spare time, I volunteered for the organization that puts on this event. The event? Art City Austin!!! 200+ artists... a real life adult playground just for me! (and the rest of the city too, I suppose...)

However, when I looked at my training schedule and saw that Art City Austin conflicted with a 100 mile bike ride, I was crushed. (That is not a giant understatement.) I'm committed to Ironman. I'm committed to training. But I LOVE the art festival. So, what's a girl to do?

To complicate matters, I didn't know anyone staying in town to ride 100. Everyone was heading to Bastrop for a T3 camping trip or to Johnson City for a ride/winery day. So this would mean 6+ hours on the bike, plus water/rest stops, plus drive time. Art Festival was not going to happen Saturday. Plus... what's the point of going if I'm not there when it opens. The best art goes quick... so an early arrival is imperative. Yes, I said imperative. This is not my first time at the rodeo.

Somehow, I convinced Alisa to run with me on Friday morning so that I could at least have weekend options. At 5:30am on Friday, I took her on a full tour of Austin and we knocked out an awesome run - perhaps even the best of the year. Then I had but a few minutes to clean up and head to a golf tournament which I worked at until 7:30pm. I was pretty tired that evening and after some Facebook pondering, made the decision that I needed some BALANCE. (And rest... but mainly balance.) Saturday would be Art Fest Day!

Best decision ever. Well, maybe not ever - but definitely this weekend. It's hard for me to put into words how much I love the art festival. In addition to the art, part of what I love is the relationships I have formed with the artists. For instance, I've been collecting Jill Mayberg's work for years now... and knowing her makes her pieces that much more special for me. There is a painting she did that I've always regretted not buying, and this year Jill had a little (and better) version of the same theme. I snagged it and I'm thrilled!!! Here it is:

Then I found a new artist - Gene Brown - and just fell in love with his pieces. I start to recognize all the "regulars" at the shows, so new artists are very exciting. I knew the instant I saw this painting, called "late night revelers" that I had to have it. There were 2 others that I could have just as easily purchased, but I think I got his best one. (Of course, that's why I bought it!)
There were tons of other artists that I hadn't seen before. My new favorite was Will Corr, and if I was rich, I would have bought at least three of his pieces. There was a new scratchboard artist, Kristian Rangel, whose work I could have looked at for hours - he had some serious talent and creativity. I got to meet Wendy Mackey in person - I have a piece of hers that I scored at an Arthouse 5x7 show. I was amazed at the giant sculptures by Todji Kurtzman, came SO close to buying a piece by Adam Homan, and I loved seeing new work by old friends Anthony Pak and Terry Powell. (I have to say I really missed my friend Barbara Franklet - I can never leave her booth without walking away with something... but alas, she's enjoying life in New Zealand!)

Needless to say, I am so happy that I chose the art festival. Triathlons are great... but I'm not willing to sacrifice the things that make me genuinly happy in order to make a workout. It feels good to know that, without guilt hanging over my head either.

And... this morning, I did manage to knock out a long ride. It wasn't the full scheduled distance, it wasn't the suggested route, but it was a great ride anyway - probably better than one I would have done yesterday, to be honest. I'm happy to say that the weekend worked out just great, and I didn't have to sacrifice a thing.

Now, if anyone wants to help me figure out where to hang everything... come on over!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I kinda wish...

...that IMCdA was tomorrow. That way I could knock it out and "resume" normal life.

And that's where I am today.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I love this...

1. Maybe . . . when the door of happiness closes, another opens; but, often times, we look so long at the closed door that we don't even see the new one which has been opened for us.

2. Maybe . . . we were supposed to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that, when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

3. Maybe . . it is true that we don't know what we have until we lose it, but it is also true that we don't know what we have been missing until it arrives.

4. Maybe . . . the happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

5. Maybe . . the brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; after all, you can't go on successfully in life until you let go of your past mistakes, failures and heartaches.

6. Maybe . .. you should dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go, be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you dream of, and want to do.

7. Maybe . . there are moments in life when you miss someone -- a parent, a spouse, a friend, a child -- so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real, so that once they are around you appreciate them more.

8. Maybe . . the best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

9.. Maybe . . . you should always try to put yourself in others' shoes. If you feel that something could hurt you, it probably will hurt the other person, too.

10. Maybe . . you should do something nice for someone every single day, even if it is simply to leave them alone.

11. Maybe . . giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don't expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart; but, if it doesn't, be content that it grew in yours.

12. Maybe . . happiness waits for all those who cry, all those who hurt, all those who have searched, and all those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of all the people who have touched their lives.

13. Maybe . . you shouldn't go for looks; they can deceive; don't go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

14. Maybe . . ... you should hope for enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some random IM training thoughts...

After a really hard weekend, I'm glad to say that I'm still smiling and energized. I thought I'd share some thoughts on my current mental state...

1) I think the weekend I just completed was perhaps the hardest weekend to date - at least for me. I only made 17 out of the 20+ miles I was supposed to run yesterday. My body had not hurt that much all year, and I frankly had nothing left to give. Today was much luckily much better, granted the wind was killer for half of the 90 mile ride. My legs actually felt fine, but mentally I was done at mile 80, and knowing I had to run for an hour made it all the worse. If it hadn't been for Katy, I wouldn't have made it out of the parking lot. This weekend was all about "getting it done" & "just make forward motion." Yet, I now have 2 more big building blocks to add to my IM pyramid.

2) Looking at the upcoming training weekends, they don't seem so bad. I feel nuts for saying that, but a 100 mile ride (with no brick run) and a 20 mile run weekend doesn't seem too bad. How did I get to this place?!

3) I'm still not sure why I hate running so much. Katy asked me point blank today, and I didn't have a good answer. Can we say "MENTAL?" I'm gonna work on that. I really have no fears about IM at all except for the run. And that will take up a huge part of my day... great... (sorry, Amy, I will work it at. Your pep talk will stay in the back of my mind....)

4) I don't know if I'll ever want to do this again, but I sure am glad I'm doing it now. It is so fun to work towards such a huge goal with such an awesome group of people.

5) I learn something new every single time I go for a workout. Today I learned that I need to take some type of caffeine on the bike, or else I end up with a huge headache. These findings won't change the world, of course, but they are really interesting to me.

6) My parents are, as usual, awesome. Every time I talk to them, they want to know how my workout was, how far I went, how I'm feeling, what my outlook is. They think I am crazy, but they have fully embraced my training with me. I am so thankful for their interest and support and encouragement.

7) Whenever things get really tough, I just think about "Ironman: The Musical" and I can't help but smile.

8) More than anything, I have most enjoyed my time with my training partners. Take just this weekend: I had the best time this afternoon hanging out in the parking lot, sweaty and stinky and tired, with Alisa, Elizabeth, Katy & Cindy. I could have given Jim the sweatiest hug ever given how sweet and encouraging he was after our workout. I was so inspired watching Jess hammer out of sight on the bike. I loved running with Alisa, Amy & Natalie yesterday- they pulled me the whole time and I was never without a laugh for more than a few minutes. I love that Maggie always checks in on me after every long workout and encourages me. I have really loved watching Priscilla's 180 adjustment about IM - and it has certainly inspired me and many others. And... seeing everyone's encouragement and excitement every night on Facebook is really cool! (I often wonder what my non-tri friends think of our workout posts...) I'm a huge believer in sharing the things that make you happy, and I feel blessed to have these people to share with.

9) Compression socks are damn sexy. And by sexy, I mean - not sexy whatsoever, but wow they sure help my legs feel better!

10) We only have six more weeks of hard workouts! Then three weeks of taper! I can't believe this has gone so fast!!!! I'm trying so hard not to get ahead of myself, but I already know that I'm going to miss this training so much in ten weeks. So, I'm going to keep embracing it and not have any regrets. Time is really starting to fly now, and I want to enjoy it all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mojo Rising

Just a quick update about training... since I've been a bit remiss in posting about it, and instead like to talk art & wishes & other psychobabble stuff....

To reiterate, I had an AMAZING time at Lonestar. More than anything, I gained the necessary confidence that I can do Ironman, not feel horrible and maybe maintain some semblance of dignity. More than that, I remembered that training is FUN. I had kinda forgotten.

Anyway, post Lonestar, I've been chomping at the bit to do my workouts. Last week started easy with a recovery ride around the neighborhood with Ben. Tuesday, I pushed through spin, a hard run, and then was exhausted by core on Wednesday. I bailed on my open water swim because I was too tired. (Funny, apparently one needs some recovery time after a half ironman.) But I was back at it Thursday, with spin, a run, and T3 swim. I got to join Elizabeth & crew Friday morning for the week's open water swim. Loved it, even though I swam face first into the stairwell railing. (HOW does one do that? Seriously, face first?) I got talent, people!

Then after working at my company's golf tournament all day Friday, I managed - somehow - to hang on to Esther & Jess, and then Opre's Angels (i.e. a pretty intense group of T3 cyclists) during the 75 mile long ride on Saturday. Somehow, my usual "take it easy, no need to push it" voice was taken over by the "you CAN hang with them, Erin - just push it!" voice. It was incredibly hard, but thanks to some strategically located stop lights, I managed to hang with them.

Sunday was the long run. I am so thankful Alisa ran with me. We "ran" 16 miles, and it was TOUGH. Luckily, Alisa is one of the funniest people I know and kept me going and laughing. I won't say the run was a good one, but we got it done with smiles on our faces. (At one point, I pleaded for 5/5's - run 5, walk 5 - but she wouldn't let me. She did allow us to end slightly early and do all our stretching on the Congress Avenue Bridge!)

This week is rocking already, and it's only Tuesday. I'm really enjoying going back to T3 swim practices. The workouts are TOUGH and my lanemates certainly push me harder than I normally would swim. Today, I did a mini triathlon all before 2pm. Awesome spin class with Coach Pain this morning, tempo run around the trail at lunch, and a 3600m swim at Barton Springs. Funny thing, I still have TONS of energy. (Which will be put to good use since I'll be working all evening.) I only have one more thing on my schedule this week (one hour core class) and I technically could take off until Saturday. It's a possibility, considering I'll be attempting a 90 mile ride + 1 hour run on Saturday, and a 20+ mile run on Sunday.

At any rate, I'm really having FUN with this. I'm excited to go to practices. I'm being better about my nutrition. I'm getting more sleep. AND I'm making sure to spend lots of time with my friends, too - ensuring I keep a healthy balance in place.

So, with 10 or so weeks until Ironman, I am happy to report that I am very very, well... happy. I'm doing everything I can to keep this mojo close and bring it with me June 21st.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Where is Door / Not Door?

Mike gave my Wishing Tree post a C minus. (BOO!! BOO!!!!) But I can take constructive criticism. :) So, to bump my post up to an A+, here is the location of Door / Not Door.

On the Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake) Trail, head east past the 5 1/4 mile marker, slightly past the Comal Street entrance, and look on your left. It's there, hidden between the trees.

Check it out & make a wish!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wishing Tree & Door/Not Door

Somewhere at Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas - there is a tree growing like an upside down wishbone. This tree is special because it stores countless dreams and wishes. I remember often as a kid waiting my turn to stand between the branches, placing each hand out to my side against the tree bark, closing my eyes and making a wish.

There is something so magical, yet so comforting, about traditions like the Wishing Tree. For me, I have a hard time simplifying what I want. I also have a hard time being honest with what I truly want, and then even admitting it. But you can't help but be honest in the wishing tree, or that second before you blow out your birthday candles, or just before you crack the wishbone.

I really miss the simplicity of a wish. It's not a goal, not something we have to work hard at, not something we have to strive to achieve. Instead, it's simple. It just is.

When I went for my easy 3 mile run this afternoon, I spotted something new along the trail. It wasn't obvious like the Giant Mushroom Forest but I felt very drawn to it. What I discovered was a stunning piece called "Door/Not Door" by Ryah Chistensen. Like the mushrooms, it is part of the City's Art in Public Places. It's a tall mosiac that actually simulates a tree, with an opening in the middle which I felt compelled to pass through. As I stood in the middle, I put both hands to the side and made a wish. For a second, I felt 10 years old again, simplifying everything I want in my life in just five words.

It's funny, the last sentence of Ryah's artist statment reads, "I hope that in making this piece I can call your attention to such portals in this and any environment that are inviting you to change, shift, renew…"

Well done, Ryah. Thanks for giving Austin our own beautiful wishing tree.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lonestar. Check.

I just didn't feel like writing a race report about Lonestar, but I promised Jim I would. So here goes....

I had this little itty bitty training workout to do on Sunday. And by training workout, I mean race. And by itty bitty, I mean just a little half Ironman. No biggie, right? I mean, I did spend six months last year training for race of similar magnitude named Longhorn. Meh, whatever.

I probably sound pretty sarcastic, which is usually the correct assumption, but this really was my attitude. And I think it provided me one of the best races I've ever had.

I had been out of town since Thursday for work and hadn't give the race much more thought than what I needed to pack. (That thought took all of 20 minutes, so it wasn't much.) Even race morning, I went and set up transition but went back to my hotel room to do the puzzles from my leftover USA Todays. Walked down to transition only a few minutes before the start, hung out with the team, got in the water for my wave, and... "hey, wait a minute! this water is salty! oh yeah, it's the gulf - duh! we are swimming in the ocean! wait, i'm about to swim 1.2 miles in the ocean!? maybe i should have given this more thought. oh well, go with it."

Swim was rather uneventful. If you could have recorded it, I would sound like this: "Breath, Burp. Breath, Burp." For nearly 40 minutes. Awesome! Out of the swim, into wetsuit stripping. Saw the biggest guy there, pointed "you!" and was instantly stripped. (Thanks for the tip, Ali!)

I then headed over to get my bike, which I had not rode since I put race wheels on it and was essentially taking a gamble that they would take. Eh, whatever, not much I could do at this pint! Hopped on and opted for a steady, somewhat easy ride. Took it very easy for the first 10 miles, then got in my zone and didn't think much until Natalie passed me and yelled "let's take on Ben!" "Uh, no thanks, Nat! But thanks for playing!" :) I just did my own thing, concentrated on nutrition, and surveyed all the hurricane damage. I ended up with a solid, steady ride; honestly, I was surprised that 55 miles had ticked by so quickly.
Dismounted my bike, walked it over to my spot, and then sat down. Pondered if I would go run or not. Put on my gear and went and had a little conversation with Logan about whether or not I really felt like going on. I was happy thus far, no need to continue. He basically shoved me out of transition and politely told me "Go run, Erin. Go." Thanks, Logan. :)

The run was where I surprised myself. Recently I've returned to the run/walk method and have been running pretty slowly (for me, compared to last year.) I figured I'd walk most of the run... but for some reason, I didn't. I actually felt okay. I was shuffling along quite nicely, in fact. No pain, good nutrition, lots of fun cheering for the team... all in all, I really just ticked off the miles without too much thought. I will admit that I did have a little motivation, as I knew Elizabeth was behind me and I made a goal for her not to catch me. If she had, I'd been thrilled for her (much like I was thrilled when Laura blew by me) - but she certainly served as a good motivator not to walk. (Thanks, E!) I would walk a little through some aid stations, and when I saw friends on the course, but that was it. And I felt fine. What a shock.

Every race I've done with a goal in mind, I give up once I know I've reached that goal. I don't keep pushing, I just want the pain to end. This race was different. Once I figured out I could break 6 hours, and I had just under 30 minutes to run 2 miles, I normally would have just walked it in. But this time, I didn't. It was slow, it was ugly, but it was a mental victory for me to keep running. I crossed that finish line knowing that I put in a solid effort, and I have no regrets about the race whatsoever.
Final time, 5:52. Overall race happiness on a scale of 1 to 10: 10. I got to check off every goal I had coming in to it. Most importantly, I had fun. I also am coming to grasp that I just knocked out a half as if it was just another day of training. (It was. Dang.)

Here is where my sappy side kicks in. Up to this point in training, I have had ZERO confidence in myself. I've had a few good workouts here and there, but let's face it - I let myself goooooooooooo after Longhorn and it's been an uphill battle since. I'm nowhere as strong, lean, fit, confident, etc.... as I was in October. However, I had more fun (and performed better) at Lonestar. If that's not evidence of the mental side of training, I don't know what is. (Good race nutrition helps too!)

Who knows what Ironman will hold. I can only hope to have half as good of a race as I did on Sunday. I feel so renewed about training. We are 8 hard weeks + 3 taper weeks away from the big day, and I'm ready to put in the work!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Lightbulb Moment Day. I'll spare the details, but I will say that I walked away shaking my head.

I am full of contradictions. Some stupid....
I am chewing about 15 pieces of sugar loaded bubble gum (yes, at once), yet I only left the dentist's office 4 hours ago, promising to take better care of my teeth.

Some far more important....
I fancy myself a great communicator, and yet I'm often horrible at communicating what I want. I tell people that I'm not a mind-reader, yet I expect others to read my mind.

Some that would be much better to deny....
I fancy myself a productive person, yet I really only have about one hour of productivity in me per day. Eek.

And some that would be better to admit than to deny....
I can be the neediest most independent person I know. Oh we could write novels about that, couldn't we?!

Anyway, today, I realized a big contradiction.

Some things will never change, yet nothing lasts forever.

I'm not sure what to do with that one.

Bike Nutrition

I'm going to Houston for conference tomorrow, which means I have to plan and pack my race stuff tonight. I took this picture on Sunday morning - this is just what I needed for a bike/run brick. I'm already anticipating a headache figuring out how to pack for a half ironman four days away!

People say nutrition is the 4th sport of triathlon... they are not kidding!!!
(I can already predict Mike's comment. "Reason #658 I don't bike or swim!")