Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kerrville Half Iron Race Report 2014

I love going out to Kerrville for the Tri Festival every year! Jeff and I took Friday off and stopped in Fredricksburg at the new Jack & Adams, it was the perfect beginning to our fun and relaxing long weekend. We had lunch at Grapejuice with Julie and Richard and then checked in to our mini cabin at the state park, complete with rock ledge picnic area on the river.

Saturday we spectated at the sprint race in the rain and had dinner and marshmallow toasting at the campground with Julie and Richard and Betsy and David.
having fun spectating in the rain. Photo by Tom Marek
This was my 9th half ironman, but I hadn't done a half in 2 years and I was less confident about this race than I wanted to be. I had prepared myself for this being my slowest half ever, being out on the course 8+ hours, and having almost no one left to cheer at the end. My only real goals were to have fun and finish.

We got to the race start early and Melissa body marked me. Then I felt like I just stood around and waited and chatted with friends forever! My wave was the 2nd to last half wave to start, Jeff said I was bitter about starting so late, and maybe I was, I did talk about it a lot before the race. But I watched most of my friends start and finally got in line to swim. I was not wearing a wetsuit and I was cold in the morning air, so the 77 degree water actually felt good. I was afraid the swim would seem long since I had only done 1 long open water swim this season, but once I got in the water I got into a rhythm and felt good. I always liked mass swim starts and didn't think I'd like the TT start, but all 3 times I've done it, I've had good swims, so I'm cool with the new TT starts. I watched for David in a kayak and finally saw him around the 2nd turn. The water temp was perfect without a wetsuit and the sun coming up over the water was beautiful, I tried to swim at a decent pace, but I mostly just enjoyed the swim. Swim time was 46:34, not my fasted, but I did have fun :)
Ed caught me not smiling!! I was trying to figure out why they were telling me "go LEFT", they just meant to the left of the wetsuit strippers, not left back to the swim start :) Photo by Ed Sparks
I jogged up the big hill to T1 and carefully cleaned all the mud off my feet, I'd rather have a slow T time than have dirt & mud bothering my feet the rest of the day. Finally got out of transition and on my bike in 4:36.

Jeff and Adam were there cheering me on as I got on my bike and I took off. I felt fast and happy has I cruised down 27, my average speed was 17.5, crazy fast for me, when I turned off to Centerpoint, that 2 miles is the worst chip seal in the entire world! Yuck!! I just tried to get through it knowing it would get a little better after the next turn. Jayna rode up beside me on that nasty stretch and complained about the chip seal too. Then the low water crossings, the U-turn and the the big hill, I actually passed a few people on this section which is harder for me, so I was feeling pretty good when I turned onto 173, as I rode by the campground Richard and Jeff cheered! There was a ton of traffic backed up (which I don't remember happening in years past) so Jeff said "I'm stuck out here!" I rode back into town feeling great about my first loop and as I hit the hot corner there were tons of people cheering and screaming for me and Kellen in his Moxie speedo and a huge skull mask. It was awesome, I was having a great ride and I just felt pure joy bubbling up inside me, I thought "this is why I do triathlons, this is so awesome!" that feeling carried me all the way back down 27 to Centerpoint, that chip seal really kind of hurt the second time around. In 2012 I felt like I was the only person left on the bike course on my second loop, this time there were always 3 or 4 people in sight for me to try to catch, and I even caught a few of them! I had a better bike than I expected and a lot more fun! Bike time was 3:37 my second fastest half iron bike ever (I thought it was my fastest until I went back and checked past results).
very happy on the bike (and bonus dimples for Kim Burkhart :) Photo by Kristen Carey
I got to the dismount line and actually grabbed the "bike dismount" sign for stability as I swung my leg over my bike and CRASH! I completely forgot I had bottles behind my seat! Oops! My bike fell to the ground and the only reason I didn't go with it was that I'd held onto the sign. It hurt at the time and I ended up with a pretty big bruise on my inner leg. Ouch! I finally got into transition and my spot was all the way at the run out. T2 was 4:13, pretty slow, so I bet that includes my little "crash".

I got onto the run course and almost immediately saw Ron, one of my "goals" was to start the run before Ron finished the entire race, so of course I waved to him and said something about that. I know many people don't like looped courses, but I love the 4 loop run course at Kerrville, I get to see everyone spectating 8 times, and I get to see other athletes, even the really fast ones! My running has been slower this year after having a labral tear last winter, I haven't had any pain in quite awhile, but I'm still being careful to not run too much too soon, so I expected a slower run this year.
Had to give Tom a non-smiley pic, so tongue out instead. Photo by Tom Marek
I wasn't really planning on that silly bruise hurting or on having some mild tummy issues, so my run was definitely slower. But I loved seeing everyone, I even "met" Kendra's parents on the course :) I walked more than I had planned but some of that was just because if I walked I got to hang out with Carol and hear about events of the day I had missed. My run was actually my slowest half iron run ever at 3:09:21, maybe Carol shouldn't have been such good company ;) As I came to the finish line, Logan called me "lovely" thanks Logan! And I got congratulated by Jeff and Tri Zones and TriCynergy teammates.
Happy on the run, Photo by Ed Sparks
 Overall this was my 5th fastest half at 7:41:51, I'm really happy with my race overall especially given that I didn't feel very confident going in and that I'd taken a year off and been injured the year before this race. Next up for me is the Austin Marathon! Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered, raced, spectated, and supported me (in person or virtually) at the Kerrville Tri. A huge part of why I'm always smiling and happy when I race is the awesome tri community I get to be a part of, seriously, it's pretty awe inspiring, so thanks to all of you for that!!

Jack's Generic Tri Race Report

Monday, July 14, 2014

Couples Tri 2014 Race Report

I hadn't done a tri since Couples last year and Connie, my partner for the last couple of years just had knee surgery. But I love this race and I haven't missed it since I moved to Austin. So Vanessa partnered with me. And Connie, Vanessa and I had a "good luck" lunch at Blue Dahlia on Saturday after packet pickup. I was nervous since I hadn't raced in so long and I took extra time to get everything together Saturday night.

But race morning came and I felt more excited than nervous. I got out to Decker early, set up transition and hung out with friends, who all seemed happy to see that I was racing.
Vanessa and I pre-race. Photo by Tom Marek
The swim was a time trial start for the first time, so most of the Peak Tri Zones crew had decided we were going to try and set up a swim draft train, without planning we had done this at the last Splash & Dash, so with a little planning it should work even better. The idea was to start slower swimmers first and fastest swimmers last, that way as the faster swimmers caught up, and passed, the slower swimmer would be able to draft. Since many of us are close in swim speed, we can draft efficiently for a long time. Vanessa and I started the swim, and I drafted off her, after a while I looked up and realized I had followed her off course! I veered back toward the buoys and drafted off Julie for a few strokes. I drafted off a couple other Tri Zoners and eventually got on Vanessa's feet again. I was definitely able to draft more on this swim than probably ever before. So I guess our "train" worked well for me. I really enjoyed the swim and had my fastest swim ever at Decker- 16:06!

I really liked the time trial start more than I thought I would, it really did make for a MUCH less congested swim start and I think the bike course was less crowded too.

The run up to T1 was set up a little different, so I had to run longer to get to my bike and after years of racing at Decker and being lucky enough to avoid the sticker burrs, I got them this time! I couldn't get them off my feet and I was afraid they'd get embedded, I walked on my heels the rest of the way to my bike. Luckily when I wiped my feet with my towel the burrs seemed to come off. I got my bike stuff on and headed out. T1 was 4:28, slow, but not as slow as last year.

I generally dislike the mount line, it's crowded and I worry about crashes there, so I usually get off to the side and go from there, but there was a guy in front of me, I figured I'd just wait a second and get going once he took off, so I waited, and waited...and waited. He had a tough time clipping in and took forever, I should have gone around him, but I didn't. I finally got on my bike and got moving! I hadn't ridden any hills in a long time, so I was worried about this hilly bike course. But as I started riding, I remembered how much fun this bike course is and how much I enjoy it, even though it's challenging for me! I was really nervous as I turned the corner onto "little tard", but as I started climbing I felt like I could do it, and I even passed a few people! I knew if I could do that hill then I'd be fine for the rest of the course, so I just enjoyed the ride. Not my fastest bike at Decker, but faster than last year. 46:40 which is actually my second fastest Decker bike.

T2 went smoothly and I started running- 2:18. I had forgotten that the entire run at Decker is trail (real trail not crushed granite), the uneven ground slowed me down and made my ankles feel a little wobbly. I guess I should run on some trails again! It was also getting hot, even for me! I walked a little more than I had hoped, but I had a good time and really had fun cheering for those on the bike course! I was able to run 1 min. and walk 1 min. up Quadzilla, and then it was just a little ways to the finish line! Run time was a little slower than last year, but since I'm coming back from an injury, I'm ok with that. Run was 37:51, a minute and a half slower than last year.

This was my 6th Couples and actually my 2nd fastest at 1:47:26! Still 6 minutes slower than my PR, but not bad after a year and a half off and coming back from injury.

After finishing, I had a great time hanging out with everyone and even had lunch with Jayna and T Jay. Over all I'm really happy with my race and now I can't wait for Jack's Generic Tri!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kitchen Demo

Kitchen before beginning demo
Not much to say about demo, it's messy, but fairly easy, except for breathing in all that dust which makes my allergies go crazy. So mostly just pictures of demo. We worked all this week, so demo went slowly, just a few hours each evening.
End of demo day 1, Katie supervising
End of Day 2 demo
We waited til last to tear down Jenny & Annette's turquoise fur downs (technically fur downs are interior and soffits are exterior, seriously, I learn something new everyday!), they added a nice splash of color to the kitchen, hopefully the new backsplash will add color in a couple weeks.
End of Day 3 demo, Connor & Katie both inspecting our work
Our temp kitchen in the scuba room

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Converting Closet to "Book Nook" aka Pinterest Project #3

We knew we wanted to use our office closet mainly for book storage, and in the past we have put a set of Ikea shelves in all of our office closets. That set of shelves is currently being used as our pantry until the kitchen remodel is finished, so without our normal shelves, we got creative and found this on Pinterest.

Our book nook inspiration
We both loved it and started planning our own "book nook". I started drawing plans and measuring and Jeff started figuring out how to make sure the shelves had enough support for books.
Closet "before" although I had already started painting
All we really had to buy for the project was a bunch of 1x2s for supports and trim and 5 pieces of 2x4 MDF for shelves. I painted the shelf pieces and measured and marked the 1x2s for supports, cut them with the jigsaw and tacked them in place. The toughest part was getting each support level. Katherine let me borrow her laser level which was super helpful, but I still used the big level for the long supports and the corners. That night I measured and marked the shelf cuts and Jeff cut them with the circular saw the next day.
Supports tacked in place, later Jeff screwed them into the studs for extra strength
Jeff put the shelves up and started the trim while I was at work one day, so no pictures of the shelves before trim.
Shayla was over helping one day and took this picture. She was impressed by the nail gun. It's actually very easy to use, a whole lot easier than nailing by hand, and probably safer too, I'm certain I'd have a lot of black and blue thumbs and fingers if I did all that nailing by hand!
This is a good picture of the current bottom supports too. They are temporary until we make the big Ikea kitchen trip. Two cabinets meant to go above a refrigerator will make a seating area and support the bottom shelves.
Shelves trimmed and painted
finished for now, still need to get the seating cabinets and then do the wall trim
I'll update when we get the cabinets in and then update again when I get a cushion for the cabinets...it's a work in progress.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wall "Murals"

The wall "murals" were my second Pinterest art project for the new house. My first was this:

I saw this on Pinterest and knew we had to have one at our new house
 I found these (below) on pinterest and loved them. But I knew I wouldn't be happy with any of the colors offered and I didn't think the stickers would actually stay on the walls semi-permanently. So I decided I was going to paint the main wall color, then put the stickers on, and paint over them with the accent color, then remove the stickers to leave the design in the main wall color on the accent wall.

Of course the stickers didn't come in before our painting party, so when they finally came in I repainted a section of the accent walls for the stickers.  Then lucky for me Katherine was free that Saturday and came over to help me position the stickers properly. Positioning them on my own would have been pretty tough.
Bedroom stickers positioned
Living room stickers on
She stayed to help me stick the stickers on in the living room, which was a little more time consuming than I thought it would be. But we got them all on, painted over the wall, and positioned the bedroom stickers while we waited for the paint to dry.
Living room stickers painted over
 When the paint was just dry to the touch we started pulling the stickers off. My biggest concern about this entire project was that the stickers might pull more paint off than I intended. I started pulling stickers off near the door (where the new drywall is) and Katherine started working on the big flowers. As I started peeling, the stickers didn't want to come off and sometimes when they did they came along with all the paint and a little dry wall! NOT what I had intended! But Katherine was on the other side saying things like "Oh Heather, you're just going to LOVE this!" and "You had the BEST idea Heather!" So I thought it must be working much better for her! Soon I realized the stickers peeled off perfectly except where the new drywall was. Luckily that was only one small section with only a few stickers. I touched them up by hand with an art brush and they look pretty good.

After Katherine left, I stuck on the bedroom stickers. The next morning I went back to paint over and peel off and found a few of the stickers starting to fall off the wall- good thing I didn't plan to just put them on the wall and leave them! That's actually what they're made for so I was surprised they didn't stick well even for 1 day, but maybe they'd stick better somewhere less humid than Austin.
Peeling off the bedroom stickers
halfway finished Jeff was with me, so he took lots of pictures
Finished living room
Finished bedroom
Katherine was definitely right! I love the way both of these turned out!

Stained concrete floors at the new house

When Jeff and I were house hunting we saw a house with stained concrete floors and really liked them. Once we chose our house, we knew we'd have to do flooring immediately, the disgusting old carpet was probably the most offensive thing in the house (and there were a lot of offensive things!). We knew tile or wood floor wasn't in the budget and we definitely did not want carpet. With 2 dogs, and bikes in and out all the time, there is no way to keep carpet clean, and even very dark carpet still holds dust, dirt, and allergens that you just can't clean out -YUCK! So we started researching stained concrete...and researching....and researching. There are so many options and different ways to stain and seal concrete! Jeff decided he really wanted a high gloss shiny floor, I thought that looked cool too, but I didn't know if we could really do it.
Jeff wanted the floors to look super glossy/shiny like this. (this is NOT our house, this is just a random internet picture)
When we finally closed on the house we pulled up a little carpet assuming there was just concrete slab under it. Turns out that was a poor assumption, we pulled up the carpet (which was so dirty that we wore respirators so we could breathe, and really confirmed that carpet holds TONS of dust, dirt, allergens and who knows what else!) to find incredibly ugly brownish tile similar to what you see in many schools. Some of the tile came up with the carpet, some was broken, and some was still really, really stuck to the concrete slab with black glue. Getting all that tile up was probably the most difficult thing we've done at the new house so far. I guess I really hated that tile because I don't have any pictures from when it was still there.We took a little vacation time to work on the house and ended up spending most of it getting the old tile out, and then cleaning the black glue off the concrete. We used Jasco Paint & Epoxy Remover for the glue, it worked pretty well but it was nasty stuff! You do NOT want that stuff on your skin!

When we finally had bare concrete, we cleaned, and cleaned and cleaned some more. In all that research we learned, the most important part was starting with a very clean concrete slab. Mostly we cleaned with soap & water then rinsed with water and shop vacced it up, over and over. Then I cleaned with Simple Green and then soap and water one more time.
Cleaning the floors didn't seem to bother Connor at all!
Then the fun part began! We went to Conerstone Concrete Staining many, many times and talked with Mark the owner, he was really helpful, and really chatty (which usually ended up being really advantageous for us as he ended up answering questions we didn't even know to ask!). We decided to go with Kemiko stain in burnt umber throughout the house, Jeff really wanted blue in at least 1 room, but I was afraid that was a little too crazy. In the end, we decided to try the burnt umber with an overlay of blue. I did test patches in the master bedroom closets (they might still look patchy, I should take a picture), to figure out how to spray and the color combo. I started in the scuba room, I was really scared to start spraying because I knew once I had sprayed, it couldn't be undone! I sprayed the burnt umber, let it dry and then sprayed the blue over the top. The next morning,when it dried there was a white film over the top in some spots and the blue looked Really BLUE, I thought I might have overdone it, but luckily Mark had told us that the stain looks different when you put the sealer over it, it looks like it's wet, so I mopped the dry floor and actually liked the color, actually liked it a lot! There were some patchy, mottled, spotty places but we even liked that, made it look natural. I did go over some spots that didn't take the stain well with a tiny paint brush and watercolor art paint that matched the burnt umber color. Since I liked the scuba room, I went ahead and stained the office, hallway and bedroom pretty much the same. Then I mopped and mopped and mopped some more. For the first couple of moppings I used a little ammonia in the water to neutralize the acid in the stain. If there is any residue from the stain, the sealer won't stick well to the floor, I probably overdid it with the cleaning after staining, but I didn't want any issues with the sealer. I actually did over do the blue in a few places in the hallway, I tried to mop some of it off, which didn't work at all. In the end I LOVE the "too much blue" spots and wish I had overdone it in a few more places!
After staining, before sealing, cleaning yet again
A couple days later we mopped one more time and then sealed the floors with Chem-Coat acrylic sealer. I was worried about this step too, again, if you mess up it's hard to fix. You apply this with paint rollers, but Mark had told us "don't seal like you paint a wall" we had to apply the seal more slowly and evenly than paint, but overall it wasn't as difficult as I expected and the sealing went quickly. The only bad part is the fumes, man this stuff is strong! But we wore respirators, and I never took mine off, so I didn't really notice the smell until we were leaving the house.We did 2 coats of the sealer.
Finished office floor, you can see some of the blue in this pic and it's glossy/shiny!
After the sealer was dry, the floors were essentially finished, and we LOVED them!

About a week later the wall removal was completed and I was able to clean, stain and seal the living/kitchen/dining area. I put the umber stain on a little heavier this time and brushed it in with a long handled bristle brush. It ended up making the blue less visible, but otherwise I'm really happy with these floors too.
Don't look at the fact that we're still unpacking, look at the final stained concrete floor!
A few days after finishing all the sealing, we got a product called Mop & Shine from Mark, it's a mop on wax that will protect the floors for about 6 months. I used 2 coats of that as well, so hopefully our floors will be fairly scratch resistant (important since we have 2 dogs). Overall Jeff and I both love the new floors! And we did almost 1100 square feet for under $800 and that includes tools and chemicals to get the old floor out.