Sunday, June 30, 2013

How much can I cram into…

WOW! What a busy month!  Since my last post I’ve managed to set a 70.3 personal best at NOLA 70.3; win a 5k on a very cold, rainy, and windy day (prize was a 3 day/2 night stay at a beach resort); successfully defend my dissertation; slog through a very HOT 70.3 after spending 2 full days at Universal Studios; AND pack up our house for our move to San Antonio!  Although this blog update is delayed (due mainly to the dissertation), here is my race report:

My hubby (Steve), his Dad (Dave), and I headed to New Orleans on the Friday before the race with enough time to have dinner at Coop’s Place ( whose rabbit and sausage jambalaya is AWESOME!) then beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde ( – sounds like GREAT pre-race food, right?!?!  Of course Steve decided to let out a deep breath while strategically placed with a powdered sugar-covered beignet and doused my black pants with white powder (and his nose…that looked a little suspect).  Then back to the room for some rest-and-relaxation.  Saturday morning, it was off to the transition site to check out my equipment.  A short bike proved it to be VERY windy!  Then a short run followed by scoping out the swim start/finish and various transition entrances and exits.  The swim was “N” shaped so I was a little nervous that I might get head-butted if anyone swam off course…  The swim exit was a set of steps (similar to the Chattanooga Waterfront Tri) but my bike spot was PERFECT!  Front and center with no tight lanes to maneuver through :)    Right after, we headed to lunch at Mother’s ( with Caroline Smith ( for a Shrimp Po-Boy (some more wonderful pre-race nutrition)! 

Definitely a fun group for lunch!  Slightly delayed as we forgot to hand our receipt to the waitress to bring our food… whoops…  Pleasantly stuffed, we headed back to the room to wait for the pro meeting, check in, and expo.  The expo was smaller than I expected, but it’s been a while since I’ve raced an Ironman-brand event, or any large tri for that matter (this was my 2nd ½ in about 3 years).  Then it was dinner time (yes I am always thinking about food) so we headed off to try Mulate’s.  I had catfish with etouffee on top (some more questionable pre-race food) and Steve had a bunch of gator.  It was ok…  nothing spectacular but very close to the hotel.  That night, I slept better than I ever have before a race.  It was wonderful!  I didn’t even think, “Why did I sign up for this” when I awoke!  I looked forward to racing!  It’s been a long time!  When we got to the transition, I quickly set up and warmed up with a jog over to the swim start.  They had the pros jump off the dock to go off as a group, but only one of us could jump in at a time since the dock was so narrow…  I did a cannon ball ;P  We didn’t get much of a warm-up in the water, but I had done some swim-specific dry-land warm-ups so I was happy.  Just before they started us, all the pro women started shifting to the right…  I asked if we were synchronized swimming then we were off!  The water was nice – comfortable temp and not too choppy.  When I got out and had my wetsuit stripped I decided to skip the arm warmers as it had warmed up enough.  I was already thinking about what I needed to do in transition.  It went much smoother than my last race (the one where I crashed coming out of transition and got glass in my foot)!  It was windy on the bike though…  It was all I could do to hold ~20 mph the entire first half.  I knew I’d have a tail wind on the way back though and I did!  It was GREAT flying back at ~28 mph at a fraction of the effort on the way out!  As I approached T2, I thought about what I needed to do to get ready for the run.  Again, it went much better than last time!  I even put socks on.  Without a watch, I went by perceived effort.  I felt fine and I saw a pro female ahead.  I didn’t want to push it hard just to catch her, but I noticed I was making up some time so I pressed-on!  I passed her pretty early and settled into a comfortable, but upbeat pace.  A few of the aid stations didn’t have cola, but I enjoyed it when they did!  There weren’t many people around, which is common when racing in the pro field.  You have to learn to push yourself when there’s no one around to feed off of.    Between miles 4-8 I felt like I was slogging along and slowing down so I tried to pick it up since I was over half-way.  My tummy started feeling questionable (which it rarely does) and I recalled the Catfish and etouffee dinner I had… won’t do that again.  I took an Endurolyte tablet with some Ironman Perform and a gel and hoped I wouldn’t cramp.  At about mile 10 I was ready to be done!  I was passed by a pro female and even told her I was ready to be done!  I hate how the last few miles always feel like FOREVER!  As I turned the corner I heard Steve before I saw him!  I knew I was sooooo close and managed to push it through the finish line, but I was done!  I knew I had given it all I had that day.  As we were sitting around after the race in the shade under a tree, my tummy and lower back started aching bad.  I knew I needed an ice bath (of course Steve kept dumping ice on me as I squealed).  Steve kept asking me what my personal best was and I kept telling him… I didn’t know why he kept asking me until I looked up and saw through the paper that had my times…  I had just improved my time, my best time by 10 minutes!!!  Without a watch!  I immediately texted my coach, Karen Meadows (  Unfortunately, my tummy hurt worse throughout the evening so I didn’t get to eat at Rip’s on the Lake with Caroline :( 

A couple weeks later, my coach wanted me to do another test run to see if she needed to adjust my paces… just so happened it was POURING!  I texted her when my alarm went off to ask if I could do a different one later and her response was, “What if it rains on race day?”  CRAP!  Don’t confuse me with the facts!!! Bleh!  It was for a good cause – a new school – so I drug myself out of bed and Steve and I drove off in the rain to the Runway where the race was being held.  Felt like I was running through a hurricane!  I warmed up during the run; especially as my coach’s husband Jim pushed me to the finish, but I quickly cooled off to the point my hands were numb as we awaited the awards.  I was pleasantly surprised with a weekend stay at a resort on the beach and a nice trophy for first place female :) 

About a week later, I was to defend my dissertation… 4 years-worth of work boiled down to 1 hour in a room with my peers and committee members ready to determine my fate.  No pressure… I was definitely more nervous about this than my race!  However, once it started, I quickly fell into “race-mode” and my practice paid off.  That plus, the pep talk the Department Chair gave me a few hours before helped to ensure me that my committee wouldn’t let me get this far if they didn’t think I was ready.  After my talk, my committee sent me out of the room and deliberated about who knows what…  I guess about what they intended to ask me and probably telling jokes, etc.  When they asked me back in, they were talking about tar and feathers…  hmmmm…  I stood at the front of the room and they actually asked me to have a seat because I was making them nervous.  I had to laugh about me making them nervous!  I applied the advice the Dept Chair gave me regarding re-phrasing the question in my response and felt like the questions really made me think differently about some of my research, but that I still remained confident that my interpretation was correct.  They sent me out again and maybe 2 min later they asked me back in by saying, “Congratulations Dr. Phipps!”  I almost cried!!!  Afterwards, my major professor, Dr. Michael Blaber (, took us out to San Miguel for some very yummy Mexican food!  I’ve had a huge grin on my face ever since!  When I got home, the house was all packed up ready to move.  I told Steve I conveniently timed my defense so I wouldn’t have to do anything for the packing!  HA!  I couldn’t sleep I was so excited.  So much going on – personal best set, won a 5k, earned my PhD, AND packed to move.  Next up, head to Universal Studios!

What perfect timing!  2 days to celebrate without the pressure of schoolwork.  While we were in the Orlando area I was supposed to do FL 70.3 as a training day.  Thank goodness it was just a training day!  We were exhausted after Steve and I frolicked around riding Rip Ride Rockit, Hulk, Dragon Challenge (used to be Dueling Dragons), Dr. Doom Fearfall (which I got a bruise on my calf after having the death grip on the seat – both arms and legs), and Revenge of the Mummy (which the power went off while we were on the ride and we had to be escorted off, but got a free ExpressPass), to name a few.  I knew better than to spend all this time on my feet before a race, but it was only a “training race” so how bad could it be, right?  My legs were screaming during the swim…  I tried to take in extra electrolytes on the bike and felt sick… then I just called it a day and only ran between each aid station/walked through every aid station.  It was fun chatting with so many people during a race though and the first aid station was AWESOME!  They were all decked out in superhero costumes!  Steve should’ve brought his Capt American outfit!  We actually got a pic with THE CAPT AMERICA at Islands of Adventure!!!

Despite my less than stellar race, I had a lot of fun at FL 70.3.  It was a great course and I got to catch up with some great people to include Jessica Jacobs and Ben Rausa!  Definitely a race you should put on your calendar if you don’t mind heat on the run. 

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