Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Just a Quick Hike Up Enchanted Rock

The Giant and I were heading to wine country with the Cordovas (the same peeps from my marathon). No, not Napa, but Fredericksburg, TX, steep in German heritage and traditions and drinking lots of great wine. And I wasn't going to let a trip to that area go by without a stop to Enchanted Rock.

The last and only time I went to Enchanted Rock, I repelled down parts of it. I loved it, but haven't been back since. Plus, I never hiked to the top.

I knew it wasn't a very big hike (rises 425 feet above the base elevation of the park), which would be ok after a long day of drinking wine and dancing at Luckenbach,TX. And boy, did we dance.

The weather changed constantly and required layers; there was also the threat of more rain. When the sun came out, it was too warm wearing the my new awesome outfit from Eddie Bauer. But when the clouds socked in, it was cold with the wind.
We ate at this place called Old German Bakery and Restaurant famous for their German Pancakes. It was so freaking delicious and wished we spent more time here. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Fredericksburg.
We started the hike up the rock. It was steeper than I thought it would be and we had to stop a few times just for a rest. The scenery was beautiful.
I don't even know how to caption this picture.
Come on baby. I got you.
We did make it to the top and Giant and I spent some time just sitting and soaking in what we were seeing. It was this kind of view that proves my point of how great Texas is to live. I just couldn't get enough, but it was time to drink some more wine.
Loved these little vegetation pockets on top of the rock.
Our view at the top. It doesn't even do it justice.
Is JL watching over us or what?
Yes, I had to do the cliché feet shot. I'm not upset about it.
I stole their moment and it was so worth it. By far, my favorite picture.
Okay, I'm not sure when I got that water stain on my chest. I missed my lip at some point. UGH!
So, we headed back down the rock (with a few stops for pictures). It was the perfect way to burn some calories. And thankfully, it didn't rain at all on us during the hike.
Overall, I had so much fun on this little getaway. We came back with more wine (and Peach Cider) than we can handle. I got to do some new things and hike a big rock. I can't wait to take more trips like this in the future.

These are some fun pictures we took during our weekend. Sadly, we got none of us at the winery. Hmmmm....

We went to the famous Albert Dance Hall, which is essentially the town.

I can't believe this is my first stop to Luckenbach, TX. I had so much fun. It's another town, which is just the bar.
As a Texas girl, we are used to (and love) bands with fiddles. This was the first time for me to ever hear a band with a horn player instead of the fiddler. It was amazing. I talked to him afterwards and was really impressed. The band I think was named Paul Cauthen band (or that was his solo act shirt that I saw). Check them out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My First Triathlon, the Oktoberfest Triathlon Recap

Sorry, this post is so late. My life just kind of got crazy afterwards and I never had time to just sit down and write. And again, sorry, it's so long, but it's my first triathlon...deal with it!

Ever since I started swimming and biking to compensate for the lack of running due to injuries/surgeries, I got it into my head about doing a triathlon at some point. Triathlons if you don't know include a swim, bike, and then a run (in that order), which varies in distances. I had no desire to participate in an Ironman, but I could definitely see myself doing a Sprint, Olympic, or even a Half Ironman in the long away future. So, I started watching triathlons on television, including the Olympics. I also read Chrissie Wellington's Life Without Limits (review to come later). Then, I talked to a few people about doing their first triathlon with me.

Once I declared my decision to just do it, it was now time to pick out my triathlon; however, I couldn't decide on which one to do. There were so many options and opinions out there and most everyone said to do a pool triathlon first. Pools terrified me. I was more into the open water. Then, through a random invite from my friend, Bob, I ended up at a Houston Racing Triathlon Club (HRTC) party with Joanne at St. Arnold where we became members of HRTC and entered into several triathlons drawings. I started to learn more about triathlons and the different ones out there. I saw one that intrigued me the most, Oktoberfest Triathlon. It was a Sprint Triathlon (400m swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run). It was set in October so Jim could be here to support me. It was also open water, which calmed me slightly (read about my first open water swim here), and we would have a multitude of beer afterwards from different breweries around the city (hence the name Oktoberfest).

There's a reason my friend Ashley bought this for me for my birthday. Love you Ash!
So, I registered. My friend Caroline also registered. I got excited. But, I started to get scared when it the event was closer, specifically within the last three weeks. My last run was on a beach in August and didn't go well at all, because of my left foot problems. Then, I had to have emergency surgery two weeks prior to the race. I completely forgot about the triathlon when I scheduled the surgery, but my Doctor cleared me right before the event. I went for a 1.5 mile run by my apartment and felt strong enough to at least survive running half of the three miles with some pain that wouldn't destroy me completely.

I was determined to do this triathlon. I just accepted that I would be slow. If I needed to walk the three miles during the running portion, then I would. If I needed to quit at anytime, I would take my DNF (Did Not Finish) with a smile on my face knowing I tried. But I wasn't going to push it.


The transition area closed at 6:40 a.m., which means we had to have our bikes and gears and everything ready to go locked into place before then. We had to have our numbers on the bike and helmet (stickers) and on our arms (easy on tattoo) and our bibs attached to either our shirts or running belt. Since I wore a tri suit and didn't plan to change at all, I had my bib on my running belt. I was still back and forth about wearing my clips or just wearing my tennis shoes, but in the end, I wore my clips for the bike and wore my tennis shoes for the run. The one thing I forgot to do was to bring my air pump or at least air up my tires before we left the house. I thought I learned that lesson before, but it just completely slipped my mind when we were running out the door at 5 something in the morning. I realized this as I left the transition area at around a five minute call before they locked it down. With much assurance from everyone, I decided to just not worry about it and deal with the consequences later.

On a side note, that five minute call turned into more like a 10 minute call, which meant I had plenty of time to get the Bike Barn guys to air up my tires.

Caroline and I were newbies (~40 people) and our start time was set at 8:35 a.m. So, we had to get there early to get our equipment in the transition area before they locked it, which basically sucked. It was a lot of me standing around getting nervous by the minute, but I got to see all of the groups start to see how it worked. Oh and did I mention it was cold? Um yes. Thankfully, Jim was there for both of us to carry things around and get anything we needed, while we waited. Juan also came up to wish us well and support us. I even ran into an old friend, John who was also doing the race. My parents were there, but decided to wait by the pond area since we were about to start. And since the newbies were all hanging around each other waiting and more waiting, Caroline and I met some really nice people.

Funny story.
Juan and I said that we hope we don't get eaten by alligators.
Caroline freaked out and we told her that we were just joking.
She later saw the sign during her run.
This picture got me over 100 likes on Facebook. First time ever
and I felt like the guy in the AT&T Network commercial.
Having some fun during my long wait.

Yes, it's cold people.

The giant is easy to spot. Caroline I guess wasn't that impressed.

SWIM (14:54:3, RANK 7)

A few people said the water was warm and muggy at 80 degrees. It was cold on surface and therefore, skeptical. But they kept reassuring me that it was warm. LIARS!!! This definitely includes Caroline. I got in the water and it was cold cold cold, but I guess it could have been worse. Eventually, I got used to it and looked back to Jim for long off support. We kicked our legs around and swam to keep warm and somehow ended up near the front. The lake floor was squishy and a little bit rocky while the water was brown and murky. I guess the other groups kicked up all the mud, because you couldn't see anything.

Apparently, I compensate my nerves with excessive waving to the giant.
Then, they started to count us down and the level of excitement burbled through the crowd. I was nervously excited. The horn sounded and off we went.

And we are off with lots of legs and arms grabbing and splashing in the murky water.
First off, couldn't see a darn thing...like at all. There was so much splashing and arms and everything. I had to swim with my head above water just to move. I would feel an arm on my leg and I would feel my hand touch another's leg. It was weird and way more packed than Splash and Dash. I had to eventually go to breaststroke just to get out of the plethora of people and went back to freestyle whenever I was through it. Consequently, this tuckered me out. I had to do freestyle several times when I wasn't in a cluster of swimmers. I could see Caroline ahead of me doing the same thing. Even though I took breaks with the breaststroke, I felt a great deal of power swimming when I went back to freestyle, which made me feel confident about my swimming and where it can go in the future. I could also see my mother on the shore taking pictures. She actually was my beacon to follow the line into the steps, because I kept swimming on the other sides of the buoys (not too far away). This was a big no no on the rules. I would immediately notice it and swim back to the right side of the buoys. 

When I got to the end, I had a hard time climbing out of the water, because the rocks were slippery. But I made it out and started my run to T1 (Transition 1). My body soaked up the water like a sponge and just drained out as soon as I started running, which was unsettling. I got to see the giant, my step dad and my mother all cheering me on and it made me smile.

Seriously, this doesn't even look like me.

T1 (4:15:3, RANK 16)

T1 and T2 were actually in the same area, which made it easier for a newbie to figure out what to do, but for the most part, the transitions confused me. I didn't know what to expect from this at all. I read a lot online and did get a taste of it at Splash and Dash, but overall, I was going in blind. It took awhile to get my feet dry and get into the clips. I eventually made it out and the giant was yelling to me that they are filling up the tires with air. I ran over to the guy and he grabbed my bike, filled them both up, and sent me on my way. So, this explains why I had such a long time in T1. My parents and the giant were still cheering me on, which is another bonus for having the transitions in one area.

This is the Transition Area. You can see me drying off in the back.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing with my hands.

Leaving the air fill up area. Thank you to Bike Barn for having them out there.

And I'm getting ready to start the long 15 mile bike run.

BIKING (1:03:04:6, 14.3 MPH, RANK 18)

I felt way more relaxed after getting my tires filled up with air, but I was still on edge since I had surgery two weeks prior in my stomach area. I wasn't sure that I could last that long on a bike. With all that, the bike started off great. I got into the groove quickly, but I didn't like sharing the lane with other cars even in the neighborhood. Then, the route dumped us onto a major road with lots of traffic and torn up shoulders. At one point, I didn't think this fast moving truck saw the cones, but he did. At one intersection, we had to wait for the cops to stop traffic for us to pass through the light. I was a little intimidated on the road and never truly got comfortable until we went into more of the back country roads.

The route didn't have many mile markers up, which made it difficult to know how long I had biked. Many people were out there training for MS150 or just doing long rides. I smiled and said, "good morning" to everyone. Finally someone passing by gave me an educated guess on what mile we were hitting and she was only off by half a mile.

I started to hurt in my stomach area around the sixth mile and I just got slower and slower. Even with that, I managed to pass four people and only one of them passed me later. Everytime I lifted up to give my butt a break, water just flowed out of my suit and down my legs (no, it wasn't pee). By mile 10, I was just ready to be done with the bike portion. The route took us back on the busy street and I could definitely see the end in sight. Finally, I made it back to T2, hopped off of my bike, and headed in where I saw the family and giant cheering me on with their cameras still clicking away.

I was all smiles to see the end of the bike portion. Photo by John Thames.

Coming in from the bike ride. My legs can not move at all.


T2 (2:23:8, RANK 19)

This went way more smoother than the first time; however, I had a hard time getting out of my clips and into my tennis shoes. I remembered going to a clinic where the guy talked about running after biking. I read about things, too, but unless you experience it, you have no idea. My legs WERE LIKE WOOD after being on the bike. My stepdad was yelling at me to go go go while my mom wanted me to stop for a picture. But really, I couldn't move my legs fast enough. I was just walking through the transition.

Again, with the hands. Bajeebus.

RUNNING (39:50:6, 13:17 MIN/MILE, RANK 18)

Like I stated before, my legs were stiff. It took until about the first mile before I started to feel normal again.

This video embodies what I felt like running, only slower until I got to about the first mile.

My last run was 1.5 miles a couple of days before and before that was in August. So, I knew this would be painfully slow. I ate my Honey Stinger Waffle on the run, which I wished I had taken the time to eat it during T2 so I would have water to wash it down. We didn't get a water station until about 1-1.5 mile. Another thing I noticed was that my suit was not completely dry by the run. Some parts of the run were uncomfortable. I was slightly disappointed in my tri suit.

All day, it looked like it would rain, but it never did. The sun actually came out during the run, which made it just that much more painful for me. But the route was nice in the back area with the trails in between houses. It reminded me of my old neighborhood, Fairfield. I did my best to run as much as I could, but had to walk (hence why I have a 13 min mile). I came up to a fork in the road and saw the sign for Sprint this way while everyone was going straight. I ended up asking a guy to confirm the direction; he was running the Olympic portion. This girl passed me by and asked, "do you smell that? do you? That's the smell of beer." I loved her immediately even though I never saw her again. I ran along with this one guy who said he was too fat to run the Olympic; I didn't think so. We stayed together for awhile until I had to walk just one more time and lost him.

And then I saw the turn to the end. OMG! It was so amazing. People were cheering me on and I spotted everyone at the finish line. I picked it up in to high gear and finished overall at
2:04:28.7 (see full results here). My time on the thing said over 3 hours and I started to freak out. Thankfully, the time was a lot lower than it said.

Photo by John Thames.
I love this picture of me...not sure why, but I do. Photo by John Thames.
I had so much fun doing this triathlon and I can't wait to do another again. I have lots to improve on before the next one though. Apparently, I got talked into doing a half ironman next year with Elizabeth...EEK! Thank you Caroline for running it with me. It was really nice having another newbie to share in this experience. Thanks to the Giant, my parents, Caroline's friends, and Juan for coming out to support us on our first tri. I really appreciate it. And of course, a double thank you to the giant for taking care of us at the beginning.

I loved all the beer options.

Things I loved about the Oktoberfest Triathlon:
  • It was open water.
  • The tech shirt is one of my favorite shirts to wear.
  • The beer options rocked and I got to try some new special brew never seen before.
  • I shared this experience with my friend.
  • I had great support.
  • The run was actually a nice scenery.
  • The bike portion away from the main road was really beautiful.
Things I didn't love about the Oktoberfest Triathlon:
  • The water was so murky I couldn't see anything.
  • It was hard getting in and out of the water.
  • We had to share the one lane with cars in the neighborhood.
  • The bike route took us onto the main road, which was scary.
  • We had to wait for the cops to stop traffic before we could pass. If I was going for time, that would have been a major time suck.
  • There were very little mile markers on the bike route. I think I saw two an that's a big maybe.
And since everyone thinks bloggers and facebookers only put up the really good pictures, I put this one up. This was a still frame from my mother's video. I wasn't crying, but well, there you go. It cracks me up.