Saturday, October 23, 2010

Buffy's Ironman 70.3 Austin!

This report is (hopefully) Part II of my trilogy of race reports. I’ve got one more event to survive in October, but for now here is the second installment of…

My Family is Trying to Kill Me (Part II): Die Tri Harder

My last race was my mother’s idea. The only family member I can “blame” for me doing this race, though, is myself. It was entirely my idea. I was so psyched after doing Vineman 70.3 back in July that I registered for the Austin 70.3. As the race got nearer and nearer I wasn’t so sure I had made the best decision. Now that I’ve completed the Austin 70.3, do I feel like it was a good decision to do it? Hell, yeah.

I headed over to the expo center on Friday for athlete check-in. I was really impressed with how organized it was. They got us in and out and everything was done in nice, little, easy, baby steps. There was good shopping to be had there, too. Maybe a little too good – I left there with a bag full of new sporty goodies that I just had to have! My buddy, Sandy, was out there working Friday evening, too. I got to hang out and chat with her a bit, which actually made me feel very good and calm about the race and the event in general.

Saturday, I got up and did a very, very short mini-brick workout and headed back out to the expo center. I attended the athletes’ pre-race briefing that went over the course and the rules, and I dropped off gear in T2 and gear and my bike in T1. T1 and T2 were in separate locations for this event. Due to transportation issues on race day, bike check-in on Saturday was mandatory and gear check-in in T1 and T2 was optional. I loved it – much less to think about on race morning. I also loved the organization of the bike racks in T1 and T2 for this event. They all had stickers with each athlete’s name and race number on them – everybody’s spot was pre-labeled. There was no trying to figure out a “good” spot. You just went to your assigned place and that was that. I liked it that way, for sure. After I dropped of my gear, I headed back home and met my mom. She had offered to come over and braid my hair like she used to when I was kid. That also gave me one less thing to think of on race morning. And it was nice to have my mom take care of me, even though I’m 33 years old!

Race day began for me at the ridiculous time of 4:15am – so gross. Early morning alarm clocks are definitely my least favorite part of racing. I got up, got dressed, and grabbed my breakfast and the remainder of my gear (basically just my swimming stuff – everything else was already out there). Terry played the role of “super awesome husband” and got up to head out to the event with me. I’m not the sort of wife that feels like her husband has to go to every event. I race a pretty good amount and that would just be unfair for me to insist he go with me every time. I was really appreciative for his companionship at this race though as I was scheduled to start in the third to last swim wave. That would have been a lot of alone time for me to be sitting and waiting and being nervous!

Once we got out to Decker Lake, I got my body marked with my race numbers. We had a bit of a numbering mishap, but Terry kindly tracked down a paramedic and got some alcohol swabs to use as body marking “erasers”. We got my numbers all fixed up and I was good to go.

Even though we got out there early and I didn’t have much that I still needed to set up, the morning still seemed to fly by. All of the sudden, it was time for the national anthem, and it ended up being the coolest national anthem I’ve ever seen. There were two parachuters and the flag was attached to one of them – it was a giant, full-sized flag, too! It was really, really cool to see. It was unintentional, but very cool, too when the PA system went out right at the end of the singing of the national anthem and the crowd picked up and finished singing – I’m not the country’s most patriotic person, but that was really lovely.

Then the pros were off and the race had begun. I still had an hour or so to go before my wave started and I got really, really nervous. So nervous that I kept thinking I was going to burst into tears (which is not the norm for me). I’m not sure what it was, but I was freaking out. Terry kept asking if I was okay – I’d just nod my head and kept quiet. Finally, I decided that I needed to move, so we got up to go watch the wetsuit strippers. I’ve never seen a race with strippers before and it was awesome fun to watch! It totally took my mind off of being nervous. People would run out of the water and remove their wetsuits down to their waist. The athlete would flop down on the little carpeted area and stick their feet in the air. One or two volunteers would then, very forcefully, grab the wetsuit from the waist and yank it off in one quick pull. Water, neoprene, and limbs were flying everywhere! The volunteer would then simultaneously help up the athlete and hand them back their wetsuit and move them on their way into T1. It was so entertaining! Then Terry pointed at the time on his cell phone and I had to go line up for my start.

I walked into the water wearing my very awesome, new, sleeveless, X-terra wetsuit. Immediately I thought, “Oh crap, the water is too warm – I’m going to overheat out here!” Then my wave was signaled to start and we were off. After being out there for a few minutes I realized that, while I was warm in my wetsuit, I wasn’t going to get too hot. The water actually felt quite nice once we got further from shore. A little ways before the first turn on the swim course (we swam a triangular shaped course) the first wave of boys appeared around me. I knew this would happen as the only two remaining waves behind my wave were men in their early 40s. Those tend to be some fast dudes and I’m slow in the water, so I totally expected to be overtaken by them all. Shortly before the second turn I was passed again by what I believe was the bulk of the last wave of men. Once again, this didn’t bum me out (getting passed in the water). Swimming is not my strength. I actually got much further along than I expected before being overtaken by the guys. Somewhere there in the middle I got a nice little pat on the butt, too. I’m sure it was on accident, but it makes me chuckle thinking about it. It was just a gentle hand on my bottom – I like to think of it as a “sportsmanship-like” butt pat. Sort of like what football players do. Overall, the swim was much smoother than I expected it to be. It think in this distance of race, most of the people are very comfortable being in the water and just swim more smooth and straight than in some shorter distance events with more novice swimmers. For example, I love the Danskin Women’s Triathlon and do it every year, but I get beat to hell by other athletes out on that swim. Besides my little butt pat and a few touches to me feet, I don’t think I was touched at all out there at this race. It was pretty nice, smooth going. I actually had a surprisingly fast swim time, for me, of around 49 minutes. That might sound slow to you, but that is super fast for me!

I had promised Terry that I would use the wetsuit strippers, so I stepped out of the water and immediately started getting my wetsuit down to my waist. I ran up to a volunteer, slid down on my back, and put my feet up. One quick motion and my wetsuit was off. She pulled me to my feet and I was back on my way. So much better than trying to take that thing off myself! I walked a few steps while pulling off my goggles and swim cap and then started to run. I knew I wasn’t going to win or anything, but everyone looks cooler if they run through transition rather than walk. I was just keeping up appearances!

Despite my awesome run into T1, I had the worst overall T1 time. I hate that – I know that transitions are “free time”. I need to get in and get out, but it just takes me forever. Just putting on sunscreen takes me a good amount of time. And that is a step that I can not skip – I’m just too pale and I’m very freckle-y (okay, mole-y) so I’m already high-risk for skin cancer. I have to be careful with the sunscreen. Also, I decided to be chatty with the girl next to me. That probably took up some of my time. I just like to be social! So, eight minutes after exiting the water (eight minutes?! – groan), I was on my bike and back on my way. I got some good cheers from my fellow RLE brand ambassador, Adam who helping out at the bike start. It always is awesome to have someone you know cheering for you out on the course.

I know I said that I’m not a fast swimmer. Well, I’m not a strong cyclist either. I enjoy both, though, and I think that is all that matters. My biggest fear on the bike is getting a flat. I don’t really know how to change one. I sort of know, but it has only happened to me twice, so I haven’t been able to get in good practice at changing them. No flats on the bike for this race for me though! My only bike “malfunction” was a dropped chain. I dropped it after a 90 degree turn onto a short, but steep hill. This hill is part of the Danskin bike course so I’m very familiar and comfortable with it. I felt very confident going into it until I realized that I was pedaling and nothing was happening! I barely got clipped out before falling over. I had to put my chain on one-handed as I had keep my bike from rolling back downhill with my other hand. I stood there for a second to think what to do – I could walk my bike to the top of the hill or I could get on and take it from a dead stop. I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t make it up the hill, so I chose the later – and I made it. Not the world’s biggest victory, but it made me feel like a badass in my own little universe.

Most of the rest of the bike course was pretty uneventful. I was somewhat dismayed to see a lot of water bottles and gel packets all over the road. I feel like you should stop and pick up something if you accidentally drop it. I know it is a race, but part of it is keeping everything on you. The road is not our race day trash bucket. If people don’t start picking up after themselves we aren’t going to get to keep racing – it is as simple as that. There is my little rant for the day. Oh wait, I’ve got one more rant – there was the dog….

Seriously, I was chased by a dog at around mile 30. I’m sure it isn’t the dog’s fault. I do think his owners, who were outside in their front yard and not doing anything, totally suck. I’m a bit afraid of some dogs and this was a big, fast one. I saw him run after a cyclist for a bit and his owners whistled for him. He trotted back partway to them and then turned back to watch the cyclists. He let two ahead of me go and then took off after me – I knew that was going to happen! I tried to be calm and thought, “Okay, he just wants to run” but he started growling all mean-like and then barking real loud. And he just wouldn’t let up. He just kept on me. And his owners did nothing. Eventually (okay it probably only lasted for a few seconds), he turned and let me go on my way.

And the rest of the course really was uneventful. I saw my friend Beaux out helping change flat tires – awesome guy. Towards the end I did start to get tired and I felt like I should have probably taken in more fuel. I wasn’t in too bad of shape, though, and figured I’d feel okay once I got off the bike. I don’t usually have much trouble with discomfort from sitting on the bike for extended periods, but I sure did towards the end of this ride. I was ready to be not sitting on that bike anymore. I did get to see my most wonderful buddy, Carol, at the end of the bike and her cheering definitely perked me up.

Speaking of Carol, she wrote in a ride report for the Ring of Fire Ride awhile back that she kept singing Sunshine on my Shoulders by John Denver, which was strange because John Denver isn’t the most fierce workout music. Well, John Denver must be a saint of cycling because during this race I couldn’t stop singing Leaving on a Jet Plane for almost the entire 56 miles. Oddly, this wasn’t a bad thing for me. I hate my singing voice, but I actually was singing out loud at one point. Kept me moving.

I rolled on up to the dismount line, didn’t fall over as I always fear, and ran into transition. Yup, I ran into T2 – like I said earlier, it makes you look cooler if you run. I did much better with my T2 time, but still not great (~ 5 minutes). I ran out on only slightly wobbly legs and had my wonderful moment of “Ahhh…now we run…I can do this part!”

I got some more good cheers from Adam who was headed back to the finish line area. Shortly after that I saw my sweet Carol again. She really had the best spot – her volunteer location was right where she got to see cyclists twice and the runners four times. This run course was a two loop course that was part on roads and part on trails. As I was turning onto the trail part, I got some more cheers from my buddy Joey (of Red Licorice Events management team fame), who was out as the run course captain. I got to see him four times on the run as well.

So, it was hot at this point. It wasn’t getting hot – it was already hot when I started the run. It was a bit brutal. As we ran through the trail part of the course I realized where we were headed. Part of the course was the same as the run in the Danskin triathlon, which has a long, gross hill on it with relatively no shade. The race officials were smart enough to put a fellow at the top of the hill with a microphone to help motivate people to get to the top (twice – damn two loop course!). Even on my first loop I was already having to walk for little bits here and there. That really isn’t my style – I pride myself on my ability to still run at the end of a triathlon. It was just too hot and I was beat, though. I came up with a lovely strategy to only walk a minute or less at a time and only where I knew I wouldn’t see large groups of spectators, Carol, Joey, or the dude at the top of the hill. That didn’t leave me too much “walking” area and it kept me moving. I walked the bottom of that hill and then ran once I knew I was in view of the guy with the microphone. I got good props for running so I blew him a kiss (which also got a good response) and I kept moving.

The water stops were awesome on the run course. I really appreciate those volunteers – I know it was hot out there for them, too, and many of them were in full Halloween costumes! Everyone was so nice and supportive out there, and so many of us needed that support. Most of the rest stops had cups of ice, which was the best thing for me. I was drinking loads to cool off, but I got to feeling very full (too full) of liquid. I ended up putting a total of five cups of ice in my sports bra over the course of the run to keep cool. It was the most awesome feeling ever. I will also admit that I was hot enough that more than once I grabbed a piece of ice out of my sports bra and ate it. I know that is gross, but at that point I had to do what I had to do to keep moving out there. They also had iced-down sponges at many of the rest stops. My first one was great. My second one was sort of warm. My third one was the best. Full of ice cold water! I kept a hold of it and decided I would wait to throw it away until I got another cold sponge. I think the stops were running out of sponges at this point, though. So I kept holding it. And I kept holding it. And then I decided that it was my security sponge and I couldn’t let it go. It was all mental, but that sponge was going to stay with me until the end.

I finished up my first lap of the run and got some great cheers by all the finish line spectators. I saw the best sign that a group of spectators had, too – it said “Worst Parade Ever” – that made me laugh hard enough to pep me up. My coach, Shawn, and some other Pure Austin Coaching people that I know were out there, too. I got some good cheers and a great high-five and I started on my second lap. I knew I was slowing down, but somehow I felt better just knowing I was on my second lap. I was on the way “home”. I passed by Carol and Joey and got back on the trails. I walked the bottom of the gross hill and then ran the second half to the top. I caused a few guys to get jeered by the microphone guy as I ran past them (sorry, fellows). With only 3 miles left to go, I realized that I could beat my time from Vineman. I just had to maintain. I did slow down, but I knew that if I managed around a 10 minute/mile pace, I’d be okay. I was hurting as I was running toward Carol for the last time. She was at the top of a hill, so that was more uphill running, but I felt like I’d disappoint her if she saw me walking. So, I ran and got my biggest Carol cheers yet. I did let her know that if it wasn’t for her I would have been walking (thank you, Carol!).

I rounded a corner and knew I was nearing the finish area (about a mile to go). I started walking for a few seconds next to another girl. Poor thing wasn’t doing too good. She was finishing her first lap and was really hurting. She told me she just wanted to finish but she was worried about making it before the cutoff time. I tried to assure her that if she just kept up a steady walk, she could make it. I also tried to give her my security sponge (even though it was dry). She wouldn’t take it though – she probably actually thought I was crazy trying to give her a dry sponge while I explained that just holding it made me feel better. I tried to talk her up as best as I could, but I knew that I had to get moving again or I’d start to crash.

I started running again and knew that I was done – I would run until I crossed the finish line. Big cheers from Shawn and the PAC kids again. Then, as I turned another corner, I saw my lovely husband cheering me on. That was the best.

I turned the last corner and ran into Luedecke Arena to finish. It was very disorienting, but in a cool way. You run in and the air and light is all different and it is super loud with people cheering. I liked it – it made the finish line seem like an even bigger deal than it already was. I got my medal and started walking towards the food. And then I almost lost it. I don’t know why, but it was everything I could do to not start crying. What was it with me that day?! I know that I just accomplished something huge, but I think I really was emotional just because I was so spent. I felt great and happy and was so proud of myself but wanted to just cry – it was so weird. I got myself pulled together right before Terry found me. Oh, and I still wouldn’t let go of my security sponge.

We walked outside and bought a snowcone for me (delicious and perfect). Then we headed over to talk to Shawn, who very kindly handed me a beer. Best beer ever. And I still wouldn’t let go of that sponge.

We hung around for an hour or so and then headed off to collect my gear and get home. I was still holding on to my sponge. Once in the car, I finally put it down…in my lap.

We got home and I finally let the sponge leave me. A quick shower and we were off to celebrate with margaritas and bean dip – my favorite post race goodies. I went to the restaurant in high-fashion, too – I wore my new compression socks with my knee length shorts. I totally looked like an old man with dark socks pulled up high and long shorts. They worked wonders though. Compression socks, margaritas, and bean dip – all a girl needs to recover!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Go Team Red!

As with all great athletic endeavors, it started out as a dare. The conversation at the 2009 Austin Triathlon finisher’s area between myself and Carol Pope was one that occurs countless times in the multisport arena – it went something like this:

CP: So what races do you have coming up?

SF: I have a 100K in January but I’d really like to do a100 mile trail run at some point.

CP: Oh yeah? Well I’d like to do Race Across America (RAAM).

SF: Really? I just finished reading a book on RAAM and I’d love to do it too!

--- It was the “oh crap” moment and we both stood there staring at each other. ---

Two weeks later we found ourselves sitting at the Java Ranch coffee shop in Fredericksburg, Texas. Carol lives in Sonora and I live in Austin so Fredericksburg was the half way point. Our goal was to plan out how in the world we were going to A) assemble a relay cycling team of four women, B) raise the estimated $30K to pay for the race, crew, and all necessary supplies, C) train for a 3,000 mile cross country bike race lasting non-stop seven to nine days and, D) do all of this living 200 miles apart? After a few hours of strategizing and planning, we sat back and looked at our initial project draft. Something was missing. While the race would be the most physically and mentally challenging undertaking either one of us had attempted to date, we felt there was an opportunity for us to empower women who were struggling with their own health issues. We decided to find a beneficiary who shared our passion for women’s health and wellness. Fast forward 13 months later, Team Ride Red was born.

Based out of Austin, Texas Team Ride Red is comprised of four women over the age of 40: Susan Farago (myself), Carol Pope, Vicki Ford, and Sue Schrader. We are supported by a core crew team of four people, lead by Crew Chief Fred Huang, with the remaining 8-10 crew members to be finalized by the end of the year. Our mission? To represent the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women of Central Texas campaign at the Race Across America in June, 2011 and help bring a voice to and take action against the number one killer of women – heart disease.

Many of us have integrated fitness into our lives and we don’t think of exercise as an exception, it’s just something we do. Central Texas offers us an amazing community and environment filled with year around races and events. But we are not the norm in the greater population. One in three American women die from cardiovascular disease and 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease. Women having heart attacks in their 20’s and 30’s or at any point in their lives is not cool. In many cases, heart disease is preventable. Look at the women in your life – friends, training partners, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends – and ask yourself what you can do to help them be more heart healthy through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

We ask you to get involved! And not in the, “Yeah sure I’ll think about it but it really doesn’t affect me” sense. Come out to one of our fundraising or training events and help us “drop the hammer” on heart disease!

There are many for you to get involved with Team Ride Red and support Go Red for Women of Central Texas:

· Check out the AHA Go Red for Women of Central Texas website and learn more about reducing heart disease.

· Become a fan of Team Ride Red on Facebook.

· Sign up for our e-Newsletter.

· Make a donation or become a team sponsor to support the team and the AHA Go Red for Women campaign.

· Join us at team and Go Red training and fundraising events with our team kickoff event tentatively planned for December – full details to be posted on Facebook. Everyone is welcome!

· Spread the word to your friends and family.

· Follow the team during RAAM starting on June 18, 2011.

· Get the latest team news and information on


*Race Across America is a 3,000 mile non-stop bike race starting in Oceanside, California and finishing in Annapolis, Maryland. The 2011 event will be the 30th Anniversary of RAAM. For more information, go to


Article by Susan Farago, M.Ed., USAT L1, USAC L2, NFPT Sports Nutrition. Susan is a multisport coach, ultra endurance athlete, and freelance health and fitness writer in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at or at© 2010. Check out her Red Licorice Tweets, “Susan Says”, at

Winter Skin.... by A&E Beauty Laser

6 Expert Skin Care Tips to weather the Seasonal Climate Changes & avoid the LOOK of Dehydration.

Fall is the most important season to prepare your skin for the seasonal changes & drier air. If you haven’t felt the change in temperature & humidity in your face & lips yet, it is time to prepare. No matter what our age, most of us experience tight, flaky, itchy skin at some point when the weather gets chilly. The culprits may be winter wind, dry indoor air, harsh soaps, low humidity, or even cold-weather sunburn. It is a well known fact that different seasons will affect different skin types in different ways.

Remember your skin is a living, breathing organ that adapts to the environment and therefore you need to adapt your skin care approach accordingly, or you may get caught out in the wind & cold!

October’s edition of Aesthetic Exceptionalism, by A&E Beauty Laser discusses the influences of various climatic factors and how these affect your particular skin type & what you need to do to keep your skin healthy & beautiful.

Fall is already here & it leads strait to winter- these truths you can easily remember; but knowing the seasons won’t help you preserve the freshness and attractiveness of your complexion. Not unless you also remember their affects on your skin, & how to prepare for them!

For all skin types, the cold makes your skin glands to work a lot less, especially those on your face, and therefore your skin becomes dryer than in any other season of the year. The wind and the sun, together, take off what is left of the moisture in your skin, making tiny wrinkles all over your face, and before you know it, all the radiance and beauty of your face are gone. L

Help! But, before we give the tips, we first want you to consider your personal skin types & how your reacts to climate change.

For people with oily skin types, winter is often a 'good time', because the cold climate causes the skin's pores to close and thus less sebum is secreted. Conversely, people with dry skin types tend to have a reprieve in summer when pores open and secrete more oils that lubricate the otherwise dry skin.

It is important in either scenario to adapt the skin care regime to the changes in the skin. So if you have 'normal' skin in winter (oily skin types), then use a skin care system suitable for normal skin. Likewise, if you have a normal skin type in Summer (dry skin types), then change the skin care system to suit your normal winter skin. Your skin changes with the seasons and therefore so should your skin care system. Kind of like, how we change up our wardrobes to suit the seasons,…

So, get to know your skin and how it reacts to the changing seasons,& adapt your skin care system, incorporating professional skin treatments that will enable your daily skin care regime to give the most back to your thirsty skin.

Here are 6 tips on how to switch your skin to the fall mode & prevent dehydrated skin, & the fine lines, & sensitivities that it can create. *But first, remember as you go into the Fall season, consider your skin dry, even if it is not. Remember, we are coming off Summer Skin & it actually changes your skin. Because overexposure to the sun dries your skin cells, they can be *intensely dehydrated.

1st Tip for treating & preventing Seasonally Dry Skin:

Prepare Your Skin/ Clear Away Old Skin Cells

Although it may seem contradictory, dry skin benefits tremendously from exfoliation to help eliminate the flaking skin cells, to smooth the skin's surface and promote cell rejuvenation. Sloughing away dead cells is the first step to pampering your dry skin, writes Joely A. Kaufman, MD, in the American Academy of Dermatology's Skin News Briefs. That's because the clearer the skin, the deeper a moisturizer, or other topical serum can penetrate. Whether you choose to use a professional chemical exfoliant such as an AHA product like glycolic acid or a Salicylic acid, or a mechanical means such as a facial scrub; incorporating a means of exfoliation into your routine at least a few times a week can dramatically improve dry skin. Body exfoliations are also a must for the autumn. These remove the dead skin cells and refreshe the regenerating process of the cells. Another way you can do this is with a weekly mask. Professional clay & silt masks will greatly help to gently purify & exfoliate & will help to keep pores clean & improve their function of secreting fluid which is then evaporated from your skin to keep you cool, (better hydrated). A mask that exfoliates as well is best.

2. Take Time to Moisturize & at the Most Beneficial Time

Once you've got a fresh, smooth surface to work with, soothe winter-dry skin with a moisturizer rich in natural emollients that promote hydration. Thick, heavy products like these have more staying power, and keep water from evaporating from your skin. If you are Normal in the winter (oily) then only use a dab, & you will be covered! Maintaining the skin's moisture content during the winter months is critical for effective winter skin care. So, you will need to switch out your summer skin moisturizer to your winter skin one. Your skin will be thirstier, & pouring more of your lightweight stuff on will not quench like a winter climate formula with higher concentration of plant oils, extracts & powerful peptides. But, if emollients are seriously too much for you’re your oily skin, then focus on oil free hydration.

Moisturizers keep the skin conditioned while offering protection against the harsh effects of the cold. The drier the skin becomes, the more frequently a moisturizer should be applied. To treat any of those very dry, scaly patches that might develop, use a petroleum based product on the affected areas before bed.

The skin is typically well hydrated after a warm shower or steaming facial. Immediately seal in the moisture with a light coat of skin cream rich in emollients & then lightly pat to dry. (Use more, & more often the drier your skin may become).

3. Warm Showers and Baths Only, Please

Long, hot showers may feel divine, but they can be damning for troubled, itchy skin, drying it out even further, reports Susan C. Taylor, MD, in Skin News Briefs. The solution if you're dealing with dry skin: learn to warm up to short, lukewarm baths and showers, which help your body retain its natural, skin-protecting oils.

And when you bathe, only use soap on the spots that really need it, such as your face, underarms, groin, and feet. Since the rest of your body doesn't tend to get very dirty, a simple warm-water wash everywhere else is fine say the pros -- and it helps you retain those vital natural oils.

4. Use a Gentle Cleanser

Scented, deodorant, and anti-bacterial soaps can be harsh, stripping skin of essential oils. That's why skin care experts suggest using non-scented, mild cleansers or soap-free products are best for cleaning, and not stripping the lipid barrier of the skin. Look for naturally- derived cleansing agents such as Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, & Sucrose Laurate. Using a cleanser with Glycolic or Salicylic Acids a once or twice a week to help exfoliate dead surface cells from the skin & leave your complexion brighter & also allow your moisturizing agents to better penetrate is recommended if your skin is not too sensitive.

Body washes with petrolatum (another name for petroleum jelly) are also a great option for soothing very dry skin, helping to trap in water as you clean.

5. Be Aware of the Sun- Keep Using Sunscreen & Topical Antioxidants!

Though the sun's rays are less intense in winter, those rays can still burn and damage your skin. Like the time you got sunburned on an overcast day, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are less noticeable in Fall & Winter, but are still hitting you, doing dirty work in your skin.

If you already know us over at A&E Beauty Laser, then you know that we preach First and Foremost; your best defense for winter (& summer) skin care is sun protection!

Even during the winter months, you absolutely need to continue to apply a moisturizing SPF 45 sunscreen a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, every morning, especially when spending time outside. As a matter of fact, snow is an even better reflector than water, bouncing 80% of the sun's rays back to us, compared to less than 20% for sand and surf. That's why you can get nasty sunburn even in winter -- and why it's important to put on sunscreen all year long

Seriously, you might think the sun's effects are diminished during the winter months, yet *nothing could be farther from the truth! Wearing a scarf that can be easily pulled up to protect the cheeks and bottom portion of your face is also a helpful preventative measure to limit the skin's exposure to the elements. And, using topical aniti-oxidants, especially during the daytime hours is still a top priority in protecting the good health of your skin.

6. Stay Hydratred & Get Your Diet Into the Act!

Literally Drink &Eat Up for Better Skin

Unlike summer, during winter we tend to ad heat to our physical environment and like air conditioning, heating too dries the air reducing its moisture content. It is a principle of physics that if you are in a dry environment, your body will loose moisture to the dry environment. Hydration is therefore very important and necessary to stop your skin from becoming dry.

Dry and cracked lips are classic symptoms of dehydration that often appear during late Autumn and Winter. But the drying of the skin goes beyond the lips.

Eat a diet rich in healthy fats. Essential fatty acids like omega-3s help make up your skin's natural, moisture-retaining oil barrier. Too few of these healthy fats can not only encourage irritated, dry skin, but leave you more prone to acne, too!

Give your diet an essential fatty acid boost with omega-3-rich foods like flax, walnuts, and safflower oil, as well as cold-water fish such as tuna, herring, halibut, salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

Hydrate Yourself -- And Your House

Dry indoor air can really irritate your skin, so give it a fighting chance by keeping inside air moist. Use a humidifier to pump up the moisture, & even surrounding yourself with indoor plants is a help! Whichever you choose, aim for an indoor moisture level between 40% and 50%. Investing in a $5 hygrometer (humidity monitor) can help you easily keep track of your house's humidity.

And don't forget to humidify from the inside out by drinking lots of water. To keep skin at optimal hydration, you will need between 6-10 glasses daily depending on your body. Just like in Summer, your winter skin needs lots of water, as well as the right skin care regime to keep it moist and hydrated.

People suffering from Eczema/Dermatitis, which gets worse in Winter, need to pay particular attention to their fluid intake. I know from personal experience, that if I do not drink enough water, my skin soon lets me know and becomes very dry, itchy and irritated.

Is Your Skin Still Dry? Talk to a Pro

If you're skin gets really dry in winter and these tips aren't helping, or if you develop eczema or other skin irritation, it's time to talk to a dermatologist.

For more information on these tips & the recommended natural products such as silt masks, beta peels, face & body cleansers, topical Antioxidants, winter time moisturizers, & SPF 45 sun protection visit A&E Beauty Laser @ 2825 Rio Grande #C Austin TX 78705.

Call or email for your free consultation, 512-921-1411,

Or online, at

Buffy’s Race Report: Run For Life Half Marathon - October 9, 2010

This is, hopefully, the first in my trilogy of race reports from October 2010. I don’t want to jinx my upcoming events – we all know things can happen to either stop you from getting to the start line or stop you from crossing the finish line! Anyway, I’m going to think positive, so here it is – the first of three reports (again, hopefully!). I’m going to call this trilogy “My Family is Trying to Kill Me.”

“My Family is Trying to Kill Me Part I: The Fellowship of the Ring Run”

My mother called me awhile back and informed me that she finally, after much searching, found a half marathon with a description that suited her. She has been interested in participating in a half for some time now, but she likes to run/walk so she has been concerned with race time cutoffs at many events. Also, she and my dad are the world’s biggest UT football (and all other UT sports) fans, so a race could not coincide with a UT football game. She was reading Runner’s World and found an ad for the Run For Life Marathon and Half Marathon in Madison, Mississippi on October 9th. This race encourages walkers to participate and it has a very long race cutoff time. Also, October 9th was a by week for UT football – perfect circumstances for Mom. She asked if I would like to go with her and suggested that I run the full marathon so I wouldn’t be waiting on her to finish. At the time, I knew I had one other event in October so I was pretty sure I wasn’t into running the full. I agreed to go run the half and assured her that I had no problems waiting for her to finish – after all, then I would get to see her cross the finish line! I know right now some of you reading this may think I’m a bad daughter for not running next to my mom for the entire race. It does make me seem sort of crappy, but I assure you that she wanted me to run my race and she wanted to run her race. I actually think that sometimes this can be less pressure (to run separately) – no one worries about if they are pushing the other one too hard or if they are holding them back.

I left straight from work here in Austin on Thursday afternoon and drove back to my parents’ house in Beaumont. Mom and I got up early on Friday morning and made the six hour drive to Madison – a much more scenic drive than I would have expected! We got checked in to our hotel and headed off to packet pickup. This is a pretty small race, so I didn’t expect too much at packet pickup, but once we got there I was very impressed with it. It wasn’t huge, but they had four or five vendors with tables set up and loads of volunteers to direct people around. It was super well organized. After that, we got some dinner, walked around a nice little outdoor shopping area, and then headed back to our hotel for the night. Long car rides exhaust me even though physically I’m not doing anything. I turned off the light and rolled over to sleep around 9:30pm – seriously, I can’t remember the last time I went to bed at 9:30pm on a Friday night…it might have been in the third grade!

Our alarms went off at 5:00am and Mom headed out for a short little warm up walk. In true “me” fashion, I hit the snooze button and fell back asleep. I got up shortly after that and started getting race ready. I got my snazzy RLE running kit on and my super awesome new “Sweet and Twisted” arm warmers. They are beyond cool-looking – I wish I had taken a better photo to attach to this race report! I put my hair in my now customary race pigtails and we were set to go. It took us all of 5 minutes to get from our hotel to the race start. Small races definitely have their perks! It was warmer than Mom and I had expected it to be. She went out in just her regular running clothes (no “throw away” clothes to stay warm). I wore my arm warmers, but honestly I could have probably gone without them - except they are so awesome looking that I think they made me faster.

There was a free car giveaway with all the race participants’ names entered into the drawing. We were very disappointed that we didn’t win, but how cool is that?! A free car give-away at a race with only around 470 participants! Definitely another reason to register for that race.

Then there were various announcements/messages from race officials, the national anthem, and it was time to get moving. I actually seeded myself appropriately for this race for once. I’m not typically very good at lining up where I should. I just don’t like to push my way forward, but this race was small enough that I was able to just walk up to my estimated pace corral. I barely had to weave around other runners at all, which was really nice. I felt pretty good for the first couple of miles. My pace was a bit faster than I expected it would be (barely under an 8:00minute/mile pace). I was slightly worried that I was starting out too fast, but my competitive tendencies didn’t want me to slow down. We cut through some neighborhoods and then were out on a fairly major looking road without much scenery. They had very nice cheer groups out on the course though, and this part was an “out and back” portion of the course so we could see the front runners, which I always love.

I noticed through the first 8 or 9 miles or so that I was constantly leap-frogging a guy and a girl running together. I’d pass them downhill and they’d pass me uphill. Also, they were doing the run/walk method and were very consistently walking a portion of each mile. I’d pass them when they’d walk and then they’d pass me once they started running again. Around mile 10 it was starting to get very warm and there wasn’t much shade. In addition to the heat, I had been maintaining a fairly fast pace for my current running ability. As much as I was determined to hang on to that couple, they totally dropped me around mile 10. It was a bit disheartening to see them off in the distance, but I kept pushing along. I could tell that I was slowing down, but not by too, too much. At mile 11, I pushed my arm warmers down as it finally got too warm for them (however, I really enjoyed them for the first 10 miles and I’m glad I had them on).

I like to try to trick myself when I’m racing and getting tired. It works really well for me – I start telling myself things like “okay, you only have a 5K left and you can totally run a 5K” or “ just 2 miles left – you can run two miles with the flu and no sleep” and my favorite “just 1 mile – you can always run 1 mile…1 mile is cake.” My normal reasoning totally worked on me until the last mile. That one hurt. Looking back on it, I think I maybe didn’t drink quite enough at the water stops and I think I probably went out a bit too fast. Then again, only the last mile really hurt and I ended up really happy with my race results! I was hoping to maybe PR, because really, who isn’t always hoping to PR? I didn’t make it, but I wasn’t too far off – just 2 or 3 minutes. Also, as this was a smaller race, I placed better than I probably ever will in my whole life so I’m going to take this time to brag just a little. I ended up 40th overall, 9th female, and 2nd in my age group (3rd if you count that the overall female winner was in my age group). And that was out of 468 people! I’m still totally psyched about it. They didn’t do an awards ceremony or anything, but I didn’t need it – just to see those number next to my name on the print out and online was enough for me. I’m thinking about printing it out and framing it. I’m not joking.

And on to the even cooler part of the event – my mom’s finish. After I finished, I headed to the car to grab my cell phone in case she called (she was running with her cell). I walked partway back to the finish line and cheered on some runners as they made the last turn in to their finish. Then I headed back to the finish line and lounged around for a bit. I used this time to start tracking the Kona Ironman coverage online from my phone. Mom had told me that she expected to finish in around 3 hours 30 minutes. With about 40 minute left to wait, I got up to go check out the results and grab some more water. As I was walking around I heard the announcer say, “and from Beaumont, Texas…” and I knew that had to be Mom. I turned and literally sprinted to the finish line so I wouldn’t miss her big finish. As I was running up I saw her running down to the finish line with the biggest smile on her face and her arms raised in the air. It was all I could do not to burst into tears, I was so happy and proud. Just typing this out makes me get all choked up again, too. She finished in under 3 hours – more than 30 minutes faster than she expected and second in her age group. Seeing her finish her first half marathon was way better than finishing my own first half marathon.

After I collected myself and we got Mom some post-race food and water (great cookies and fruit out there, by the way – they even had nectarines, and they were so good) we headed to sit in the shade. We watched the marathoners and the rest of the half marathoners finish their races while we waited to get Mom’s medal engraved with her name and time. Not everyone thinks that is important, but I think it just makes your medal a bit more special when it has your information on it – totally worth the little extra bit of money. Once we collected Mom’s engraved medal we headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up and headed back home. Following the Ironman Kona updates from my phone made for a pretty short feeling ride home, although Mom was probably irritated that I kept interrupting her listening to various football games on the radio to tell her what was happening in the world of Ironman!

To wrap this all up I’d just like to say that I feel so lucky that I got to take this trip with my mother and share in her first half marathon experience. I’m beyond impressed with that lady.

Laurie Viault's Ironman Kona Race Report!

The ironman world championship is about overcoming adversity and divine intervention..... God wanted me to finish

Well, here it is... my much anticipated race report. Kona is a stunning place, and the water here is the most beautiful water I have ever seen. I was nervous about swimming in the ocean with jellyfish, sharks, etc... however, once I got here and took a practice swim, all that fear went out the window! The water was crystal clear and you could see everything. I could go on about what a wonderful week I had, the incredible people I met, and the awesome swimming with the dophins adventure I had, but I know you all want to hear about the race, and I only have 20 minutes at this internet cafe, so let's get to it.

The swim:

It took about 15 to 20 minutes to make it through the massive line to get into the starting shoot to get to the water. I waited around until 20 minutes before gun time and ended up standing in this line right up until start time. The swim was a floating start, and I swam out to the very back of the crowd and right as I got there the gun went off, and off we went. This was the least jostled I have ever been in an ironman swim. Probably because I was in the back where I belonged and all the other racers were damn fast! The swim was an out and back and swimming out to the turnaround I had this guy swimming next to me the whole time who I could not get rid of. He was wearing a speedsuit and wasn't even kicking his feet, so it didn't make it convenient for me to draft off of him, however, he decided to draft off of me and I ended up pulling him for at least a half mile before I finally did a massive kick, turned over and yelled "GET OFF ME" at him. My little tribute to Gilbert Tuhabonye, running coach from Gilbert’s Gazelles :-)

The Bike:

Coming in from the swim to transition was pretty uneventful, took me a while as I had to use the port a potty and slather sunblock everywhere. Plus, they made us run around the entire perimeter of the transition area in order to get to our bags, which just added time. I was super impressed that they were able to fit transition and bikes in such a small area on the pier. The bikes were racked in wood blocks which was super cool. Got off on the bike and out on the Queen K and things are going well. My swim took me a lot longer than I anticipated. Thanks a lot drafting dude.... and I was one of the last cyclists out. The bike was very lonely, as I truly was out there by myself. They had bike aid stations at what seemed like every 10 miles, and I poured water on top of my head and on my jersey and arm sleeves at every single one and that kept me cool. I heard reports that the asphalt was well over 100 degrees, but it really did not feel that hot to me. At just after mile 40 I had every triathletes worst nightmare happen. I got a flat tire. Who knows, how long I was riding on it, I had just made the turn towards Havi, and all the age groupers were passing me to come back at this point. It had gotten really hilly and windy and I felt like I was riding on bumps yet there were no bumps. A single speed bike guy passed me and at that point I knew something was seriously wrong, so I looked down and noticed the flat. I stopped and realized that I did not have a tool to let the air out of the valve extenders and I was freaking out. How the hell was I going to change this tire without that tool. I had practiced changing these race wheels once before and I absolutely had to let all of the air out of the tires in order to get the tire off. Without that tool, I was in real trouble, because the tire still had a little bit of air in it. At this point, a true act of god occurred, as a bike mechanic van pulled up and asked if I needed help. I'm dead serious!! How could I possibly be this lucky!! They stopped and changed the tire for me. No joke! Took them less than 10 minutes and I was back on my way. I managed to catch up to the single speed bike guy and a couple of other people who passed me. At the turn around I had a fierce tail wind which allowed me to make up some time, there were also fierce cross winds as well. Let me tell you, I have never in my life cycled in such fierce winds. I was truly scared that these winds were going to knock me over and cause me to crash. I saw several injured people who this had happened to while I was riding, and it was a very scary experience. Once I turned back onto the Queen K, I was riding into a head wind. The hills were not that bad on this course and I still did a decent time despite the flat tire. At one point on the bike I looked down and noticed that my legs were red. This really concerned me because I still had about 25 miles left to go at this point and I stopped and asked someone who had parked their truck to cheer if they had any sunblock I could borrow and they did. This was the second miracle to happen for me during this race. I wanted to cry at this point as I couldn't believe my good fortune and I was getting emotional. I was blessed to get a lottery slot and any negative thing that happened seemed to have a solution right in front of me. I truly felt that God was with me and wanted me to finish this race. As I reached transition I still had over an hour and a half left before the cutoff time.

The Run:

Yay! I started the run off strong and didn't even need to bring my sunglasses as at this point as it was cloudy and the sun was starting to go down. I knew the sun would set around 6 pm and I knew it would get pitch black at that point so I wanted to run as strong as I could before I would have to start walking in the dark. Once I got to mile 5, I got a spurt of energy and was running at a really good pace. Had to have been at least a 10 minute mile pace, which for an ironman is pretty damn good. Once I got to mile 11 the sun had set and it had gotten dark. At that point, I had to start walking as it was just too dark to run and was not safe at that point. It was a lonely last 13 miles as there were so few of us left on the course at that point. I would try to run whenever I would get to any aid station that had light, and at the turnaround, a truly awesome volunteer must have walked half a mile with me holding water and gatorade for me while I walked. He told me I only had 6 miles left to go, even though I had 8 miles left and knew it. Oh well, gotta love volunteers! I started running again in the last half mile before the finish as I had reached the town lights again. I can not tell you how awesome it was to run in and have so many spectators there giving me high fives and telling me how much I rock! This was a constant for the last half mile of the race, and what a truly amazing experience it was to cross that finish line. I want to thank all of my friends who offered me encouragement when I needed it, I want to thank all of you for reading this and putting up with me during my training, my breakdowns, and just listening to me talk about nothing but this for the past 6 months. It was an experience of a lifetime and I'll cherish it forever. Thankyou to God for giving me this wonderful opportunity and for pushing me past my limits. Truly, Anything really is possible

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eli's City Chase USA Race Report!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

“I like having you as a teammate,” I said to Nicki as we waited for the Number 20 bus to take us back to Riverside & Congress.

“You like that I’m even more competitive than you!” Nicki laughed. And that’s what I love about her… she is more competitive than even me… and faster too!

Nicki and I represent Team Merrell ATX, Merrell’s local-area industry team. Though we come from different athletic backgrounds and don’t train together regularly, our chemistry and ability to work together as a cohesive unit on race day is undeniable. However, because Nicki had a lot of work to do that weekend and because I came back from Vegas the week before with a gnarly eye infection, our manager Jon Sanregret gave us the okay to skip the race altogether. I’m sure glad that we decided last minute to give it a go!

I’m not gonna lie, but we had absolutely no idea what we’d gotten ourselves into… think The Amazing Race meets Fear Factor. Neither one of us have ever competed in this kind of adventure race before so the Saturday leading up to the event we exchanged text messages, did as much research as we could possibly do, joined the race site’s social media pages, and met up with Jon at the Merrell booth on Sunday morning where he gave us one standing order: Have a blast!

Before the race began, a gal from Bally Total Fitness led a group warm-up; Race Director Corina Holtby gave the racers (or rather chasers) final instructions and even asked two women wearing red capes to sing the national anthem. They were a little flustered by this request and pulled some unsuspecting soul up on stage to help them out. He actually did a great job and the crowd helped them out as well. Then, it began.

Task #1: in order to get a cue sheet, we had to complete a scavenger hunt around the race venue. Take some pictures, answer some questions, acquire a grass stain, etc… easy enough.

Then we were given our pink cue sheet to which I took one look and said, “WTF!” This was the most cryptic cue sheet I had ever seen – so confusing in fact that we really wished we had had “eye in the sky” support. We seriously spent 20 minutes simply trying to figure out where to begin and started feeling helpless as other teams ran off in various directions. “GET OUTSIDE: Near one of Austin’s largest parks in the Lamar/Barton Springs area get ready to play. We hope you take care of the pigskin like Tony Romo today.” We decided to head in that direction, but there was a problem. The Cowboys had a real life bye week and we couldn’t find the check point – nor could five other teams who raced in that direction. Another 20 minutes wasted… dammit! So, we did the only thing we could think of – run from the moon tower at Zilker Park to First Base on 6th and Mopac.

After running across Mopac, we noticed that another check point was within range before we hit up First Base so we veered off and headed that way. We arrived at… a house… were told to go around back to a surprise that had Nicki exclaiming, “Oh hell no!” I laughed as a man placed a four foot long snake around her neck, but my attitude quickly changed as he said, “just wait, I’ve got something else for you.” The next thing I knew, the snake from the Britney Spears music video appeared from within a giant tub and he stated that I’d be walking around with this 80 pound monster on my back. Holding the snake was fine, but the damn thing kept turning its head to look at me… absolutely horrific!

From the snake house on Patterson Lane we ran downhill to Third Base to compete against another team in sports/pop trivia and quickly found ourselves down 4-0 in a first to 5 competition. I seriously contemplated getting a beer if we’d lost and were forced to take the mandatory five minute time penalty. Somehow the trivia gods shined down upon us as we came back to win 5-4. We wished the other team the best of luck and headed out the door.

Having had just enough time to sit down, regroup, and analyze the cue sheet, we now had a game plan and sped off to REI. At REI, we had to use Blackberrys to communicate instructions to our teammates. This is what I learned… I’ve become so dependent on my iPhone that I have no clue how to use BBM anymore and can barely take pictures. As luck would have it, the Blackberrys didn’t receive signal inside the building so the course judge made a ruling on the pictures I’d taken of various products and sent us on our way.

We then headed to Duncan Park at 9th and West for a fairly easy task of stationary bull roping, both of us completing the task in our second tries. Our next checkpoint was less than half a mile away and we quickened our pace as other teams started walking up the hill. In the gazebo at 12th and West, a beer pong table was setup with cups of water. One teammate had to clear the cups by sinking shots pyramid style, but if they missed the other teammate was forced to eat a spoonful of hot sauce. Remind me next time that Nicki is better at beer pong after she’s had a few because I ended up eating TEN spoonfuls!

The hot sauce didn’t exactly sit well with me since our next task was to take a hip hop class at Ballet Austin. This was actually a lot of fun and I purposely freaked it out at the front of the class which had the course judge taking pictures laughing hysterically. We jammed out to Flo Rida’s “Jump,” learned a dance routine, but still, the hot sauce wanted to come up and I was quickly running out of water in my hydration pack.

Throughout the entire race, another quiz needed to be filled out on the back of the cue sheet, but the good news was that it could be checked off at our last checkpoint at Hostelling International. From Ballet Austin we ran to Riverside and Congress, took the bus to the east side, completed our task, and waited impatiently at the bus stop to be taken back. If we could clear the course in under three hours, Jon said that we had a good shot of podiuming. Our time was now 2:58, the bus ride would probably take another 10 minutes, so I texted Jon that we’d hopefully finish in around 3:10 – Boston Marathon qualifying time.

The bus finally arrived, but one stop later another team had boarded. Not knowing where this team stood in terms of their score card and realizing that they could possibly pose a threat to us in a race for the finish line, Nicki looked at me and asked, “Are you ready to sprint!?!”

“Hell yes!” I said as we jumped off the bus and sprinted towards Barton Springs Rd. The other team was nowhere in sight when we turned the corner, but we maintained as we swung past the parked Mitsubishi, grasped hands and raised them triumphantly in the air as we crossed through the finish chute at Aussie’s. BUT, one of the holes on our score card had been punched by accident and we still needed to complete one more checkpoint. Total letdown!

Luckily for us, Aussie’s was hosting the American Idol checkpoint, which I thought was karaoke (I wish!) but the catch was that we needed to go inside the bar and find two people to sing in the Mitsubishi with us. So, I darted into the bar and made the declaration that I’d buy anyone who’d help us a pitcher post-race. Thankfully, a nice couple agreed, but the problem was that all four people needed to be singing the song and they didn’t know the lyrics to any of the songs on the playlist until we came across “I Will Survive.” The four of us jammed out in the car, the judges cracked up, and after a few minutes of belting out the chorus, they told us we were good to go. We thanked the couple, but with less emotion this time, grasped hands and crossed the line for the second time. Still unsure if we’d podiumed or not, I walked over to the timing table and saw our bib number being written down in the top slot. Completely confused, I walked over to Carina and asked, “Did we win?”

“You sure did… you’re going to nationals in Orlando!” she replied.

“Holy shit!” was all that I could mutter.

Although the race itself had been a blast, the energy and camaraderie experienced during the post-race party was simply incredible. Nearly everyone stayed to enjoy lunch, swap war stories, watch the action on the volleyball courts, and partake in the kegs of MGD 64. We had a great time schmoozing with the other teams and not only did we have the opportunity to meet Drew from Team Dallas, but Christina from Team NYC also called the bar to offer her congratulations and buy us a round. What a wonderful afternoon!

Thank you City Chase USA crew, CAMP Kesem, and all the wonderful volunteers for an outstanding event. Team Merrell ATX is now changing call signs to Team Austin; we’ll see y’all at the City Chase USA National Championships in Orlando!