Thursday, March 18, 2010

Little Bitty skiing....

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

New for 2010 - Attitude Adjustment & An Experiment

Those of you that have read my blog and/or know me, undoubtedly know that my free time in 2009 was essentially consumed with training for Ironman Florida this past November.
In fact, 2009 started out really great for me....I PR'd a half-marathon (yes, I know the 3M course is all downhill - don't burst my bubble!) & finished the Austin Marathon just under my goal time. Cloud nine there for a while, actually.
In the beginning, my goal for my 2009 race season was really only two-fold. First, build a serious amount of fitness -- get into the best shape of my life & second, finish Ironman. Notice, I said "finish" Ironman. Not "blow it away", not "kill it", not "qualify for Kona" (ha! yeah right!). Just simply finish.
I went into my first sprint tri of the season with the "go out there & give it your best" attitude. I felt really fit, though & way (I mean, waaaaay) in the back of my mind I thought I might have a chance to actually place. I was timid (in a sense) but, I did go out there & give it my best. It just so happened my best wasn't good enough for top 3, though. I think I was 6th or something.
However, by the time mid-summer of 2009 rolled around, I was starting to have a different attitude. Let me be blunt - I was starting to feel SUPER-STRONG. My workouts we right where they needed to be & by the time the Danskin sprint tri rolled around, I was ready to kick it. In my mind, I thought "I can really do well here" & "I am gonna rock this swim". I even had myself mostly convinced that I was strong enough to leave there with top 3, but yet there was a shred of doubt. As it turned out, though, I ended up with 4th place. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
I was getting closer, though.
Then, I got it in my brain that if I only pushed myself a little harder, I might actually have a decent showing at Ironman Florida. Not just a "finish".
But then, alas, my foot was fractured and out went the "I can actually do well at Ironman" attitude and back in came the "just going to finish" attitude.
Geez - all this talk about attitude!
You're thinking: "where the heck is she going with this?".
So finish Ironman I did, amidst the challenge of the foot & boy, was I ever proud. And pleased, really. Because, at one point, there was a huge doubt as to whether or not I'd even be able to get to the start line, let alone finish.
Long story short, I had an eye-opening conversation with Matt the other day about attitude. Attitude as it pertains to competing & winning. He asserts that in racing, attitude is 90%. Only a mere 10% is physical. To which, I reply - but what about people that are just "born runners" or "born cyclists", like Lance Armstrong?. These people have physical talent. Yes, Matt says, but these people...people who are consistantly winners....are people that have the winning attitude & drive.
As Matt prepared for his first mountain bike race in over 10 years last week, his attitude was all about winning. Taking down anyone & everyone who would dare get in his way. In fact, he said "if someone wants to try & beat me, I will make them pay for it & suffer!"
"WOW!", I thought - "maybe he's right".
Applying it to myself, I realized when I am training or preparing to race, my mentality it nothing like this. Honestly, I do think that I am generally stronger than most people out on the street, but when it comes to race days, I stand among a ton of others who have trained hard, just like me. And I wonder "who I am to think I could take a win here??".
Yikes! Compared to Matt's wonder I ain't winning anything!
So here's what's new for me for 2010:
I wanna race & win - so why not believe I can actually do it?!
So here's my experiment (it is a 4 step plan, actually - take note):
- Train hard for my 2010 season of triathlon
- Believe I will win
- Race my hardest at every race
- Bring home hardware
Simple as that.
I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out. :o)
Now, for fun, here is an informal poll for those of you out there that race & compete ~
What kind of athlete are you...what kind of race attitude do you have?
(be honest & comment below)
A) "Get outta my way or I will cut you! I'm taking first place!"
B) "I'm feeling strong today, I think I'm gonna do well."
C) "I hope I have enough fitness to finish this thing!"
D) "Why did I sign up for this anyway? Where's the SAG wagon?"
My last season's answer to the poll was choice "B".
But my new year's resolution for this year is to be a letter "A".
Here's to a GREAT ATTITUDE in 2010!
ps - my attitude for my next Ironman will be "qualify for Kona". :o)

Monday, December 7, 2009

I raced for 140.6 miles. Yes, I said MILES!

My Official IRONMAN Florida Race Report!!!
(WARNING: this will be looong!)
So, before I get into my Ironman race report, I guess I probably should back up a little bit & explain why & how I got it in my brain that I wanted to even attempt an Ironman distance triathlon.
And, for those that don't already know, there are a few different distances of triathlons out there...starting out at a short, sprint distance (usually, 500 to 800 meter swim, 12 to 15 mile bike, and 2 or 3 mile run) then going to a bit longer, or an Olympic distance race (consisting of about a 1 mile swim, 26 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run) and next to a Half-Iron distance race (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, & 13.1 mile run) and then, of course, to the ultimate distance challenge....the FULL IRONMAN...2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike & 26.2 mile run...for a total of 140.6 miles! Well, there is actually one triathlon longer than this -- the Ultraman, I believe -- but, those are for people that are not even human! ;o)
Ok, so anyway - back to why I even wanted to attempt an Ironman distance race to start with.
Way, way, way back when I was a kid (maybe 8 or 9 years old), my parents would watch the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii every year on the TV on NBC. I very distinctly remember being in awe of the competitors and their strength. And, I also clearly remember telling my parents that I would one day do an Ironman!
So flash forward to about 4 years ago, when I began to workout everyday with a purpose (mainly to get rid of the rest of my post-baby weight!).
I found myself getting stronger & stronger & really appreciating the body God gave me. I was amazed how my diligence with workouts effected how I felt about myself emotionally & physically -- as a person, wife & mother.
Long story short, I got into triathlons around that time & have been enjoying the challenge ever since. I've been racing for 4 seasons now -- made possible by my wonderful husband, Matt, who watches the kids while I am working out, buys my training & race equipment, and supports me!
And yes, I did start out with the shorter distance races & moved up slowly every season. In fact, it was only in September of 2008, that I completed my last Olympic-distance race & told my friends/coaches, Rebekah & Chris Trevelise, that I wanted to train the next season for a half & full Ironman.
I wanted to try to register for Ironman Florida that November (2008), but knew that the registration was tough & the chances for getting in were not super-high. I did try, though, and both me & my coach, Chris, got registered online that day.
Training commensed immediately! My immediate goals were to complete several half-marathons & 1 marathon through that fall/winter. I also wanted to build a lot of base aerobic fitness. I sure did of lot running around this time last year & I did build that base I was hoping for.
By the spring of '09 I completed my first 1/2 Iron-distance race in Galveston, TX & did decently well. And more importantly, not feeling completely dead & spent after racing for 5 hours & 50 minutes. I left that race really feeling like the full Ironman was possible for me!
Still, I knew there was much more training to do. So, I pressed on through the spring & the summer -- hours of open water & pool swims, 4 & 5 hour bike rides, 12 & 13 miles runs, AND 9 & 10 mile runs AFTER 4 hour bike rides! PHEW!!!!!!!!
UNTIL...August - only about 16 weeks ago....while standing on the shore of Lake Travis, getting ready to race the Sweet & Twisted Triathlon, I had a bad pain in my left foot. I raced on it anyhow - feeling the pain while I ran - took 4th place that day & was diagnosed with 2 stress fractures in that foot within 2 days of the race.
Knowing that my Ironman in Florida was only a mere 11 weeks out, I was super-worried! Now what do I do?!?! Will my bones heal in time, will I be able to race?
I obeyed my doc, stayed off my foot, & wore an aircast (or, boot, as I called it) for 9 full weeks!
So for 9 weeks before Ironman, there was no run training AT ALL. Nada.
I missed a couple of smaller races here in the area during that time, that were going to help prepare me to do Ironman at race pace, but those got skipped, of course. Thankfully, though, I was still able to swim & ride my bike indoors (& a little outside, too) during this time to help keep my fitness up for Ironman.
However, by the time I was out of the boot, only 3 weeks away from Ironman, I was skeptical that I would be able to finish the race without having the full preparation on the run. Both of my friends/coaches said that I would be fine & that I should still go out to Florida & give it a shot.
And so, I decided to go! I got in a few short, slow runs in those 3 weeks before leaving for the race & just prayed to God that He would get me through & carry me on the run.
Fast forward again to this past November 4, only 3 days before race day, when I arrive in Panama City Beach, Florida. The town was buzzing - with triathletes all over the place...riding, running, & swimming. I, along with Chris, Rebekah & their family, stayed in a cool little RV resort at the far end of town right next to the entrance to the state park that we would be running through (twice!) on race day.
Trev & I got in a short run that Wednesday night & then Thursday, we did a practice swim there in the gulf. The ocean swim was AWESOME! Way better than I thought it would be! I was not afraid of it at all - in fact, I was psyched to get back into the water on race day!
We got a short, slow bike ride in, too, after the swim & scoped out the marathon course.
Friday was all about rest, since the race was the next day, but everyone had to get their bikes racked and hand-in their transition & special needs bags. These bags carry your needed items for the different legs of the race & are assigned a certain spot in transition based on your race number. So, after the bike & bag check-in, all that was left to do was eat lasagne (thanks to Trev's mom for that!!) and rest some more!
I got up 4am, ate some random bread products, had my giant cup of coffee & got dressed.
Went down to Chris & Rebekah's travel trailer & made myself some oatmeal. We got some warm clothes on over our race gear (since it was about 50-some degrees) to get down to the beach for the race start. We got there, got the rest of our stuff set up on our bikes & in the transition bags and then got our wetsuits on. We struggled finding Rebekah at the race start on the beach since there were so many people down there. But, we did finally find her about 10-15 minutes before the start & we got a couple pics & video.
Phew! Just enough time to get down the beach & get this party started!
We gave everyone hugs & off we went toward the water.
I was surprisingly calm at this point. Yes, there was a touch of nerves, but not because I was worried, but because I was PSYCHED! The crowd on the beach was overwhelming -- there were about 2400 athletes racing that day & at least that many more spectators all gathered on this small area of the beach. It was CRAZY! The excitment was in the air & everywhere. People clapping, dancing on the beach, and hugging loved ones. And then, of course, the national anthem. My gosh - I wanted to cry! I said another quick prayer, chatted with a few people around and calmly waited for the cannon to go off.

And....WE'RE OFF!
I started my watch & walked with a massive group of people into the water. We ended up walking for probably 2 minutes or more before we could even begin to swim! And then, when we did start IS what they say...a literal washing machine! A sea of flailing arms & legs & other various body parts. I was kicked multiple times (naturally), got my goggles knocked several times, & got swam over more times than I can count! But, BOY! Was it fun!

I finally found a nice little rhythm & thought to myself so many cool is this?! I am doing an IRONMAN! Here I am, swimming in the ocean with 2400 other people, doing an IRONMAN! Getting to the first bouy was moderately challenging, but I appreciated the draft & pull I got from the other swimmers. And one of the best moments of my day happened at the first turn bouy. As anyone that has ever swam in a race knows, the turn bouys are always a crowded CLUSTER. Mostly, it makes me MAD on race days....when I'm all like: "grrrrrr.....move outta my way....why are you stopping right in the middle of the course....grrrrrr" etc, etc. But, this turn bouy was different. Well, it was a cluster of people, but it just so happened that the entire cluster of people I was with at this bouy all stopped swimming (what seemed to be simultaneously) and looked around happily at each other. In fact, everyone was smiling...I was smiling. Then all of a sudden one of the swimmers yells out to the group...."HEY EVERYBODY - WE'RE DOING THIS! WE'RE DOING AN IRONMAN!!". And then, the group of us broke out into a chorus of cheers! It was AMAZING! Then the same guy said: "ok now, everybody, BACK TO WORK!" So off we went again! So hilarious!!!!
So, I made the 1st loop of the 2 loop swim course in decent time. Got back into the water again for my second loop, still feeling amazing.
When I came back in for the 2nd time, though, my loop was slower...but, I was still cool with it & happy to done with the water & getting ready for my favorite part of every triathlon -- the bike!
2.4 Mile Swim Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes, 32 seconds
Transition 1 (or, T1) was pretty uneventful. Got my wetsuit stripped off in a jiffy & I flew up to the fresh water showers very quickly. Made my way through the hotel tunnel and into the T1 bag area. Some sweet volunteer handed me my bag & pointed me in the direction of the change building. Although, I was not changing, I still had to enter & get all my bike gear on, before I could exit & get my bike. Did that & then flew out to my bike rack when another lovely volunteer was standing at the end of my rack waiting to hand my bike over to me. Now, that was cool!
T1 Time: 9 minutes, 12 seconds
Getting onto my bike was thrilling! I always get so excited in a race when I get to get on my bike. It really is my favorite! I had a plan of going out nice & easy & not pushing at all for the first 12 miles. I stuck to my plan. The 1 loop course then took us more inland & then shortly dead into the wind. Where I had been averaging about 21-22 miles/hour without even trying for those first 15 or so miles, suddenly, I watched my computer read out about 16-17 miles/hour. This direction of the course & going straight into the wind (although, the wind was really not that strong that day, but it was definitely noticable) was for the next 50-some miles (I believe).
I passed up every rest station, still feeling really great - lots of energy & no need to use the port-o-pottys.
I stayed on top of my nutrition that I had brought on my bike & only took hand-ups of water as I rode through those aid stations. So thankful that I never really felt fatiqued on the bike & that I never had to get off at all. My goal had been to do a 6 hour or less ride for the 112 mile course. And, as luck would have it...I met my goal! I came in right on time & still felt amazing! It was really unbelieveable, actually. As I came through the chute to the dismount line, I mentally prepared myself for the long, slow run ahead, but I was optimistic about it since I was not in any pain at this point.
112 Mile Bike Time: 6 hours, 0 minutes, 37 seconds
Getting off the bike was actually surprisingly easier than I had thought. I had anticipated lower back tightness & other general muscle distress -- but, thank God, I was feeling great! T2 was way quicker, the bags were just right there waiting for us beyond the dismount line. I quickly ran into the change building this time - only to throw on my visors & shoes & run right back out the door.
T2 Time: 5 minutes, 9 seconds
Right outta the gate I did get a side cramp. Luckily, it worked itself out quickly & I began to settle in for my long journey. My run plan had always been to to just keep foot in front of another. I had guessed (based on those 3 or 4 runs I had gotten in right in the weeks leading up to the race) that I'd be able to maintain an 11 or 12 minute/mile pase for this marathon. Slow & easy. And I did this for about the first 13 or 14 miles or so. I began to slow then, though, simply because I could now really feel the fatique setting into my leg muscles. But, I pressed on, slowly shuffling & walking through aid stations. Really loving every moment of my journey. I thought about so much on this much I loved my God, my life, my family & friends & how thankful I was to be able to physically, emotionally, & mentally endure a race like this.
Around mile 15 or 16, though, deep pain set into my right leg & knee. It made it very difficult to keep slow jogging, so I switched to a very, very slow shuffle walk. I could still feel the pain doing this, but it just wasn't as intense.
I saw Trev a few times on the run course -- he was looking great at every point & he would ask how I was feeling & how my foot was feeling. Everytime, I would say..."I'm doing great, my foot doesn't hurt at all!" And while I really was beginning to feel the fatique set in all over -- it was really true, I was still feeling good - I still had adrenaline & I knew that I was definitely going to be able to finish & I KNEW was gonna be an Ironman that night!
Around mile 22 -23, I tried to guestimate my finish time -- thinking that I only had just about 4 miles to go & normally, I can do 4 miles in under 40 minutes. But, with my walking now, I figured it would probably take me almost double that time. So, with that in my mind, I guess my finish time to be 13 hours & 30 minutes. From there, every spectator I saw along the road, I would yell "13:30". Some would cheer for me, others would ask me what that meant & I would tell them that that was "gonna be my finish time" or that's "when I'm gonna be an Ironman"!
It kept me moving. Those numbers 13:30 kept me moving to the finish line!
I made the final turn off the main road, down the final back street towards the finish line. Probably, the last mile of the race, I prayed & thanked God again for the gift He had given me that day & thanked Him that my foot did not get re-injured. I came closer now to the finish line & heard the music blaring, Mike Reilly announcing the finishers & knew my time was near. I took off in a dead sprint to the finish line!
I rounded the last corner & then u-turned towards the finish line. I got my race number out & ran through the chute, holding it over my head! I was SO EXCITED!
CHRISTINA BARKLEY from Cedar Park, TX.....YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I heard my name & those words & couldn't believe it!
Run Time: 5 hours, 47 minute, 44 seconds
Total Ironman Time: 13 hours, 35 minutes, 14 seconds
My journey was finished! And, as you can see by the clock in the picture, I didn't make it in 13:30. I did make it close enough, though!!! And no, I wasn't disappointed that I didn't hit 13:30. It wasn't my goal time before the race. My goal was to finish! The 13:30 did keep me going there at the end, though...and that is all that matters!
And so......I am now an Ironman!
If you really bothered to read all this, I am thoroughly impressed! I know it was long, but it is hard to make short something that was really big & monumental for me. It was my big journey - a journey I will never forget!
Thanks especially to Matt for loving me & helping me follow my goals & big dreams & thanks to all my friends who listened to me drone on & on about this race for a full year straight! You are good people!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Update #1 from Florida

Ok, so - on Tuesday morning (11/3) I drove from my house in Austin, TX to just east of Mobile, Alabama - trying to make it most of the way of my long drive to Panama City Beach in one day. Mapquest said that my total drive time would be around 14 hours & it took me about just around 9.5 hours to get from home to east of Mobile.
As it turned out, though, it was only 3 more hours from outside of Mobile to get here to PCB. So, the drive time total was just over 12 hours. Not too terribly bad. Glad I broke the drive up over 2 days, though.
Got here yesterday (Wed. 11/4) around noon & checked into my condo (very nice place, BTW) which is at the Panama City RV resort.
Trev & Rebekah also pulled in behind me & have a little trailer that they've got the whole family in - very cool little rig - and got set up next to my condo in their space for the trailer. They are traveling with their girls, Madeline & Antoinette, little man Cannon (who is just over 1 year old now & walking!) and Trev's mom, Karen.
Driving around the town on the beach road - the town is buzzing - tons of triathletes around - running & riding the roads of PCB & I was itching to get out on my bike or run - just seeing everyone else.
After setting up at the rv resort all of us ladies & little Cannon had a great lunch at Liza's Kitchen. Cool little hole-in-the-wall cafe & they had some yummy sandwiches. You should check 'em out if you are ever here.
Then, of course, no trip anywhere is ever complete without the all-important stop at Wal-Mart....right? All of us ladies and little Cannon did our shopping & saw our fair share of "people of walmart".
We got our necessities & headed back to our was now time for me & Trev to head back up to the athletes check-in area & pick-up our packets.
I guess the check-in area is what is called the "athlete's village" ??? There are tons of tents set up - with all kinds of vendors - bikes, shoes, clothing, compression gear (who the hell really NEEDS compression socks???? geez).
It was kinda cool, though. Then off to the check-in tent. Boy - is this a procedure. First, we'll check take your driver's license & USAT (usa triathlon) card, next you'll sign your life away on this injury/illness waiver, next we'll completely humiliate you & put you on a scale to weigh you IN FRONT OF ALL OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS, and then we'll give you a cute little Ironman bracelet to wear all week & a race packet (in your very own Ironman Florida commemorative race bag) that contains everything you need to know & have for racing.
All in all, though, check-in wasn't bad - just a lot more than I am used to doing at races. The Ironman store, outside of the check-in tent, was pretty cool, too. Lots of things you really don't need but can be kinda cool to have. I got the kiddos a little gift, but restrained myself from more financial damage.
After all this, I got a quick & easy run in before dinner with the Trevelise family. Which was really yummy, by the way...thanks for cooking Rebekah!
Day #2 here in PCB will probably just be a short swim in the ocean and a ride on the bike to check out the marathon course.
After that? Who knows....maybe just some relaxin' on the beach!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HOLY CRAP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only 2 weeks to Ironman! In just 2 more Saturdays, I will be swimming, riding, & running a total of 140.6 1 day! Eeeeeeeeeeeek!
So obviously, my running is not where it should be (because of the stress fractures in my foot & only just having those healed for a couple weeks now), but I am crossing my fingers that I can get through the 26.2 miles of running/jogging/walking without collapsing.
I feel good about where I am at with my swimming & riding, though. Two out of 3 ain't bad!
I actually did get 2 short runs in this week -- my first runs in the last 9 weeks. They went pretty good....slow, of course, but not like complete death as I had imagined. My body (foot, legs, hips) have felt ok since those runs & I hope to get at least a few more short runs in before race day.
Most importantly, I hope my foot (that may still be in slight recovery mode from the stress fractures) holds up during the marathon & that I don't re-injure it.

Still have race prep & packing to get done over the next week & a half, too. This could be a monumental task, as I always feel like I need to take more & have it if I need as opposed to not take it & then wish I had. Not to mention, being gone for one week means (well, at least for me) at least 1 giant suitcase. I can pack with the best of 'em! I know Matt always thinks I take too much when we go away - but I like to have options with clothes. So, me packing for a 1 week trip actually appears like I am packing to be away for over a month!
My first step to packing for Florida will be to start making lists. Heaven knows I can't remember ANYTHING without a freakin' list!
Anyone that has packed to go away for an Ironman have any must-have or must-take items that I should add to my initial list??
Any suggestions are appreciated!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tiny Update

No video this time, I am sitting at the VW dealership while the van is being serviced, but I thought I could write about some of the latest things going on.
Still have to spend a bit more time in the aircast. I'm a bit bummed, but I know that I have to keep being patient about letting the healing continue & finish. It will happen sooner or later. It will happen. It will. (really trying to convince myself here....)
The time is closing in on Ironman - the thought of doing all the distances in one day is really starting to sink in. I am anxious yet looking forward to it all at the same time.
2.4 miles of swimming.
112 miles of riding.
26.2 miles of running. (God? Will I run? Will my foot be healed? Will I be able to actually RUN at all?)
I really want to be able to run!
The next cool update is that Matt did so well at the Ft. Davis hill climb race this past Sunday. He got 2nd place out of more than 100 men! It was so cool to see him do so well! He has worked so hard training over the summer to be able to do well here. The training has paid off!
Finally, Jonah & Ella are losing teeth LEFT & RIGHT! Ella finally lost her 2nd tooth over last weekend & Jonah his other top front tooth! So cute!!!
Ella is now being called "Gappy" & Jonah is called "Gumball" for obvious reasons!
They are both now in gymnastics - Ella loves it & Jonah will be starting this week. Hoping Jonah likes it as much as Ella does.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Video Blog #1

First video blog post:
OR just press play down below...
or directly on my blog (if you are viewing this on Facebook):

Update 9/15/09 from Christina Barkley on Vimeo.