anything is possible

Part Deux: Wrightsville Beach Marathon

I have to admit, this race recap has been difficult to start. How do I put this experience into words? This race meant so much to me. This was the culmination of 8 marathon training cycles, 1 DNF, 2 deferrals, 1 stomach flu, 3 walk of shames, 1 woulda coulda shoulda, 1 shattered dream, 1 80+ degree day, and 6 years of perseverance, during which time my family moved 1000+ miles, TWICE. I learned a lot about people, about myself, and looking back, it was all worth it. It all led to this. one. day.

On race morning, I woke up calm, but as the time neared for us to leave the house, nerves hit. I started shaking a little bit and I wanted to cry really bad, but I held it back. I think. My husband and kids work a race aid station, so we left the house at 5 am. I drove myself to the race finish, crying all the way. Wailing. It was U.G.L.Y. Andy picked me up, and we went to the aid station, which lucky for me, is at the race start. It was cold and windy. Hmmm, I was hoping it wasn’t TOO cold, which is something I didn’t think I’d have to think about. I sat in the truck a bit as they unloaded the aid station stuff, and I decided to go for a very short jog to see how the old legs were feeling. I probably went just short of a quarter mile, and I felt good. So I jumped back in the truck where it was warm, and had my snack. I told a lot of people my husband was at the aid station at mile 2.5 (that part of the course is one big circle so you start and loop around to where we were in the truck) and 14.5, so some brought their bottles and extra supplies to leave there, and a few jumped in the truck with me. That was nice to have company as the minutes flew by. I’m bummed we didn’t get a picture! I realized I needed to head to the bathroom again, which was basically next to the truck, so I tensely waited in line, again as the minutes flew. I did NOT want to be in the jon when the national anthem was playing. NOT THIS TIME. Thankfully, our line moved fairly fast, and it was time to head to the start to fine the 3:40 pace group.

My nerves quelled by this time, and my focus started to shift to the task at hand. I had also realized that I had my directions messed up. The wind was from the north at probably a good 10 mph, so I thought we would have a head wind for a few miles at the beginning and in the middle. I was wrong – we would only have it a few miles at the beginning, and several of the other miles would be protected. I was very happy to realize it and my race could go even better than I planned! Yay for getting it wrong!!!

I found the pace group, made a little small talk, and got my music ready. I don’t know what kind of time warp we were in, but I swear, it was the fastest ten minutes EVER. Thankfully, the race started on time, and we were ready to go. I crossed the start about a minute after the gun went off.

Here we go. It was crowded, I couldn’t hear my music (I even checked to be sure it was on), and I ran on the sidewalk instead of the street. I passed many people who shouldn’t have been in front of me, and soon, my Garmin beeped one mile. Fifteen seconds later, I came upon Mile 1 at 9:00. Wow. Ok, that was a tad slow and my Garmin was reading fast. Hey, no big, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and I knew my coach would be happy I didn’t blow the first mile at an 8:00 pace. Save the legs, save the legs.

We ran the next mile with the wind, and I picked up a little from that first slow mile. I warmed up, so I took off the Sheddable Shell and carried it with me. I dodged the drainage grates in the street, something I was used to because I run that loop all year long, and I wondered what the out-of-towners thought. Mile 2 approached, and my Garmin was consistent with the early beep like at mile 1. Ok, 8:09. That’s a tad fast, but we were with the wind and my breathing didn’t increase, so good sign. Half a mile later, I passed my kids and Andy working to hand out water and Gatorade, and I threw my balled-up Sheddable Shell coat, hoping someone would grab it before it blew away. Thankfully, my son saw it and picked it up.

We ran off the island and the sun was coming up, but thankfully, it was cloudy. The weather was shaping up to be perfect for me. I saw the pacer fly by and say something about making up time. I knew I did not want to increase my pace to a sub 8:00 mile, so I stayed back, trying to keep them in sight. This was also where my pace bracelet came in perfectly. At each mile marker, starting at 3, I looked at my time and where I should be on the bracelet – I knew I was behind from that first slow mile, but I knew I had time to make it up, if things went my way. Mile 3 was at 8:02, faster than it should have been, but I felt like it was effortless.

Mile 1: 9:00, Mile 2: 8:09, Mile 3: 8:02, Mile 4: 8:00, Mile 5: 8:19

Ah, nutrition and hydration, those other controllable variables. I carried my first Gu (orange Rocktane) with me and had an 8 oz bottle of Rocket Fuel nicely clipped to my shorts. I actually remembered to drink, and my goal was to have this 8 oz done within 1 hour. I was a little behind, so I made sure to drink big sips each time. The miles were going by at a great pace, and I was following my plan. I realized at mile 5.5 that I needed to eat. I wasn’t hungry, but I knew I needed the fuel, so I tore into my Gu and got it down, finishing it with the last of my Rocket Fuel. Done. I was going to supplement with water at the aid stations in the next section of the race. But I didn’t expect to have to pee. Oh man, I have to pee, and it’s mile 8. I had just caught up with the pace group at this time, happily following them and letting their pace dictate my pace. I saw a few people I knew with the pacer, which was really cool and I saw TONS of people along the course I knew. That’s the beauty of a home town race! Built in support. When I found myself going at a pace under my goal pace, I tried to pull back. It was way to early to bank time.

Instead of saying “Hello” or “Hey all” or just “How are you feeling?”, the first thing I said to the pacer was, “I have to pee.”. How friendly of me.  I knew I needed to take the chance and go, and at that point, I was close to my 3:39 goal pace, making up for that slower first mile. The next two aid stations had port-a-jons, but they were full, so I kept going. Finally a few miles later at mile 10-11, I found an empty stall, fumbled around, almost losing my iPod, and quickly peed. I came out and immediately looked for the pace group, happy to see they were still in sight. At this point, my Garmin was .12 miles off the mile markers, part of which was due to tangents, part of which was my Garmin.

Mile 6: 8:13, Mile 7: 8:06, Mile 8: 8:13, Mile 9: 8:18, Mile 10: 8:15, Mile 11 (the bathroom mile): 8:56

At this point in the race, we run through a private neighborhood full of curving roads that seem to go. on. for. ever. I knew the half marathoners split off close to the exit, and it seemed like 17 miles instead of maybe 5. FINALLY, I saw the split, and we were herded through some gates and out of the neighborhood, where we headed back to the beach loop. I was feeling good, keeping in mind that the race hadn’t even really begun, remembering how many times I had done well up to mile 18-20. But something in me know I had fight, I had something different this time. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t sore, I wasn’t breathing heavily. I saw a bunch of people I knew at the aid station, whether they were helping, waiting for their relay team members, or spectating. Lori, I won’t ever forget you saying, “Well, there she is.” when you saw me. You made me feel so important at that point. Lynda, I remember seeing you and how happy you were to see me too. Those are the little bits I remember, the faces, the smiles, the people yelling my name, not knowing if they knew me or called it from my bib. Whatever it was, it was magical, as I was in a groove and feeling invincible. Maybe it was the Rocket Fuel.

Mile 12: 8:05, Mile 13: 8:10, Mile 14: 8:02, Mile 15: 8:21, Mile 16: 8:19

Mile 12ish

During the beach loop, I would pass Andy and the kids at mile 14.5 or so. I had a little bag of goodies to take and a new bottle of Rocket Fuel. When I approached, I thought of all the things I wanted to tell him. I was on pace, I was kicking it, I felt great, I was gonna kick this thing’s ass, I was gonna do it, this was my race. I saw my son standing guard looking for me, so I waved my arms out so he knew I saw him and that it was me. He took off towards Andy, who was standing there ready to give me my goodies. So instead of saying all these cool, awesome things, I garbled out something like “I fight, me fight” but it probably sounded more like, “ughing fite ughime”. I have no idea why my voice was messed up, but it was messed up. After I got my supplies from Andy, I picked up some Gatorade from one of my Epic runners volunteering that morning, and I was on my way.

Togas and Tigers Aid Station, Mile 14.5

Yes, the guy in the picture is wearing a sheet. He’s from the Latin Club at a local high school. They were awesome.

Ah, right then, the song my coach picked out for me came on. “Bulletproof”. I teared up at little, then got my crap together again. I certainly felt bulletproof at that point. It was perfect.

As I was leaving the loop, I saw my friend, Gary, coming onto the loop. The conversation went the same as with Andy, “ughemefightumrtph”. No idea what that was. Anyway, we waved, which was communicated in a much more eloquent way by a simple “wave”, and I was headed off the beach. Gu #3 was consumed, and I passed the busy aid station again and headed to the new part of the course, instead of the neighborhood abyss it was before this year. Right in here, I caught up with the pace group again and hung behind for a bit. I was feeling GOOD, and barring any sudden injury, I knew I had a BQ coming. I wanted to start kicking it, but held off. I had 10 miles to go. Anything can happen, so I played it safe.

That “waiting” lasted one mile. When we headed to the cross city trail, I passed the pacer, and I started running, paying little attention to pace, just feel. I was in a groove, and I felt amazing. Rocket Fuel. I saw some of the first place men (HOLY CRAP) only a few miles from the finish.  I kept drinking my Rocket Fuel and hydration along the course, but I wasn’t concerned with dehydrating at this point, so I know I didn’t drink as much as my plan stated. As we approached UNCW, a part of the course I’d run a hundred bazillion times before, I was on autopilot. I wasn’t paying attention to my watch, only the times at the mile markers. When I saw the markers come into view, I looked at my bracelet and said the corresponding time out loud, or rather something like “pshimph”. Sometimes I wouldn’t remember it by the time I actually got to the marker, so I’d just repeat it. I was gaining time. I think I was nearly 90 seconds to 2 minutes ahead of 3:39 at this point. The mile distance, according to my watch and the mile markers was getting longer – my watch was reading slow this time, probably due to the trees.

A light rain started about this time (I think). It was really light, so it was ok. Ha, little did I know.  We made our way to the center of campus to the circle and headed back. The circle was small on the map, so when we ran around it for real, I remember thinking it was ridiculously large and I hated every second of it. In prep for the race, I knew I would KNOW when I left campus, if this race was going to be a good ending, or another chapter in the BQ attempt saga. As I left campus, I knew I had it. I kept gaining more time. I was getting it done.

Mile 17: 8:10, Mile 18: 8:20, Mile 19: 8:12, Mile 20: 8:04, Mile 21: 8:28 (I think this is where Garmin made up some distance because at each mile BEEP, the distance to the mile marker kept getting shorter.)

Since the course was an out and back, I saw many of my runner friends out there. I hope I at least said “hello” or waved to them, but by this time, I was getting tired, even though I felt amazing. I know that when I had to turn or go up a “hill”, I grunted and moaned with the effort. It was embarrassing, but hey, gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Mile 22: 8:14, Mile 23: 8:18

As I headed off the cross city trail and across Eastwood Road, it was time to try and go faster. It was time to go, it was time to kick it. We headed into a neighborhood. Then. Then it happened. And I’m SO thankful for ME, it happened here and not even one half mile before. The bottom dropped out and it started to POUR. Oh. My. Goodness. This wasn’t your typical rain. This was rain where I could feel a drop hit my toe through my shoe and sock. This was a drenching downpour. And it was cold. Holy crap, was my race doomed? I didn’t even know where I was with pace, I didn’t know how many miles I had left.

It was relentless. I was soaked, my shoes were full, my earphones weren’t working well since they had gotten wet. My glasses, tucked nicely below my cap, were spotted with tiny drops of rain and they started fogging up. I tried to clean them off on my soaked shirt. Yeah, that didn’t work.

Mile 24: 8:29, Mile 25: 8:32

I knew some friends were going to be around half a mile out. WHERE WERE THEY? Corner after corner and turn after turn, we kept going. A mile left, half a mile, no friends, but plenty of puddles. I didn’t look at my time, I was just getting to the finish. Splashing through the puddles, finally, I saw I was getting close. I saw my sister, YAY, my sister came out and was cheering for me. I threw my glasses at her, saw Captain America, and made eye contact with Wendy, missing a bunch of other friends out there with her.

WB16

Almost at the finish!

Mile 26: 8:21

FINISH FAST. FINISH WITH GLORY. FINISH WITH A SMILE.

DFO_1640-ZF-3522-22589-1-001-003

I got it!

I got my marathon. The time on the finish line clock said 3:37 and something. Holy crap. 3:37. I did it. I ran my best race. I collapsed with tears at the finish, making some wonder if I was injured or sick, to which I replied, “WHFFPHDMFBSOTNIAUAULIFIED FIPFHSH”. Translated: “It’s a happy cry! I qualified for Boston! I did it!”

IMG_5823-ZF-3522-22589-1-001-001 (2)

Crossing the finish line. So many emotions. This picture tells my six-year story.

I hugged my sister, babbled out some more stuff, and didn’t even know what to do with myself. I was cold and tired. But I was electric. I was so happy. It was pouring. I needed to get warm. I needed two more hands. What was I going to do, food tent, husband, kids, rain, cold, dry clothes, where was I, coach, need to see coach. I ran into the food tent to find Coach Kristen. No, she just left. I wandered around, chatted with people (I sounded like a heavy smoker), then headed back out to talk to my sister and find my husband. When I saw him, we hugged and I was finally able to tell him that I did it, we did it. He took the kids into another tent, and after saying bye and thanks to my sister, I went to find my car. I was so turned around and didn’t know where I was. I actually asked someone to tell me where my car was. I got my dry clothes bag and headed to the tent where my family was. I started SHAKING and hyperventilating for some reason, so I just leaned over and remembered to breathe. I could breathe. Finally. I could breathe again.

IMG_1545

My boys and best supporters

I did it. I didn’t even know the time I had, but I did it. Need to find coach. Ah, coach found me. We jumped (I think that’s what that was), hugged, and we celebrated. I texted my parents, “I don’t think we can afford to come visit next summer because WE GOIN’ TO BOSTON!!!” Nice, aren’t I?

I saw a few more friends (Melissa) and fellow finishers, and although I was warm, I didn’t know what to do besides wander around the food tent. I wish I had a rain jacket so I could watch the other finishers. Damn. It was time to go home, and I was super bummed it was raining, because this post-marathon party is fun. After I got home, took a twelve hour shower, and ate a little, my husband looked up the results and found that I had crushed my goal and finished my marathon in 3:36:38. I even got 2nd in my age group. Oh, the tears flowed again. I did it. Finally. And I get to go back to Boston.

img_0159-1

Post-Race Happy

IMG_1549

Post-Race Nappy

So if my experience can teach anyone anything, LEARN from your mistakes. Be ok with making mistakes. That’s how you learn. That’s how you grow. But learn from them. And don’t give up on your dream. Go for it. Don’t give up. If you KNOW you have something within you, do it. Go for it. As for me, I’m running Boston…and beyond.

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Keep on Dreamin’

“Some dreams, stay with you forever, drag you round and bring you back to where you were. Some dreams, keep on getting better. Gotta keep believing if you want to know for sure.” ~Eli Young Band

Isn’t it crazy how a song can bring up so many emotions? Good and bad, songs can take you right to a time and place in your life. “Even if it breaks your heart” by the Eli Young Band came on the radio (Does anyone listen to the radio anymore? It was Pandora.) last night, and I couldn’t hold my tears in. Happy tears or sad tears, I just couldn’t decide, but they were tears of memories of crazy times, of wondering what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

In 2011, my family moved to Texas under duress. It wasn’t planned, and it was a really hard move to make, especially since it was so entirely far away from my family and friends in Iowa. I had tried and failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon three times in two years, and I was worn out. I didn’t know if I had the energy and strength to train for another marathon and fail at my time goal. It’s heart-wrenching, embarrassing, really, really, embarrassing, soul-sucking, and I just didn’t know, especially with everything that happened over the move, if I had it in me to go through another disappointment and the stress of training.

Then I heard the song on one hot Saturday morning in Katy, Texas, in the summer of 2012 after running with my group and on my way to my son’s football practice. And I knew, I KNEW deep down in my soul that I had to give it a try, I had to keep trying until I made it. I knew I could do it, it was in my reach, so I knew I had to at least give myself the benefit of the doubt to try again.

“Keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart.”

So, because of that song, I trained for the 2013 Houston marathon and qualified for Boston without even realizing it until ten minutes after I was done.

IMG_8167

Before I knew I got my BQ. Thought I missed it by 3 minutes, but actually made it by almost 2.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2014. The race was a dream come true, just being a part of it, having those memories and sharing the experience of the pinnacle of racing. And I’m sure, if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that I did not finish that race on a good note. Dehydration, salt depletion, whatever it was on that hot day, left me struggling to finish as I walked the last 5 miles. It was not the Boston finish I wanted nor felt I deserved.

761530_1163_0021

I was livin’ the dream and went from this…..

761551_1060_0042

To this. I was devastated.

Since then, I’ve tried to qualify for Boston twice and am in training for my third attempt. This would be my sixth attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon, seventh if you count Boston itself. It drains you. It depletes you. It makes you question your ability, your sanity, your everything. Some days I wonder if I should quit. One Boston is enough, right? It’s more than some people can get, right? Isn’t that enough? Well, it’s not enough for me. I know, deep down, just as I did that morning in Texas, that I can do it again. I know I have the ability to go back and run the race of my dreams. As I listened to that song last night, I knew I had to keep on dreaming even when it breaks my heart.

 

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Charleston Marathon – T Minus 5 Days

Gulp. My marathon, the one that seemed like it was going to take forever to get here…is here. And I’m ready. Whether or not I feel like I’m ready, I know I’m ready. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Sometimes you have to do that, right? Fake it til you make it?

As I weather stalk, I allow myself to freak out just enough to get to the point of throwing my hands up in a tantrum and saying F*%# IT!!! I’ve had it with weather! But I don’t, and I still freak out, but that’s ok because it gives me something to concentrate on. This is something I do. It works for me. It’s sort of like a diversion, like before Ironman and I melted down over my phone and before Houston, I flipped out over getting to the start line on time. That was a release of sorts and I moved on and raced well. I have a history of freaking out and telling myself the race is going to suck or whatever, then I move on and race well. I learned that Pre used to do that too. So if he can do it, I can do it too.

I digress. For this marathon, I’m going in with a different attitude. I’m not going to worry (as much) about the weather, but just deal with it the best I can. If it’s warm, hydrate more. If it’s rainy, keep my shoes dry. If it’s cold, wear more layers. OH, and there’s this:

a race

This is what I’m taking with me on race morning.

Also, I’m loading up on my Base ROCKET FUEL. I Amazon Primed some new hydration handheld bottles since I know I’m going to need more than just water and Gatorade on the course. Besides the Rocket Fuel, I’m carrying some Rocktane and Base salts, just in case I start feeling goofy.

My plan is to run this race evenly, and if it goes the way I want it to, if my mind wills my legs to do what I know they can do, I will negative split by 1:00. If I negative split by :01, I’ll be happy, but 1:00 would be a good plan for me, assuming I’m on time the first half.

I have to admit this is the first time I’ve truly believed in myself. That’s what Ironman gave me out of all these years of marathon running. I know I can do it, and if, for some reason I don’t meet my time goal, I’m going to drive home (well, my husband will) knowing that I gave it my all, I ran my best given the circumstances, and I will be happy knowing I left it all out there on the course, something I’ve never truly done in a marathon.  Surprised to hear that? Well, I am too. I always thought I was relatively confident, but after looking into my “failures” and digging pretty deep, I realized that I never truly believed I could do it, so I gave up. It’s actually a lot more common that anyone probably thinks it is, unfortunately.

Anyway, this is what’s going on in my house tonight:

 

Go Tigers!!!!!!

I made this since I was feeling festive. I can’t wait to cut into it and see everyone’s face because this ain’t a regular cake!!

Feeling feisty for the game!

Feeling feisty for the game!

So what about you? Staying up late to watch the National Championship game? Eating cake?
 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Holiday Recap

It’s hard to describe the last few weeks in a few words. Whirlwind maybe? A big whirlwind of family, sleeping, getting up early, running, more sleeping, eating some damn good food, driving, more driving, even more driving? I’m sure it’s like that for pretty much everyone else, but there’s something about this year that makes my head spin. I’m going to recap the last month, then look forward into 2016. One of my “things” for the year is to blog more! I’ve had several people comment they miss it, and honestly, I miss it too, so I plan to make sure I blog at least once a week. There’s a lot going on, lots to talk about, and if anyone knows me, I do like to talk!

So here’s a quick recap of December and the holiday.

IMG_8075

Epic Running Company – 2015 Fall Season

First, my Epic Running Company kids had their 5k on Dec. 12th. I felt such pride as those boys crossed the finish line. Their abilities spread out like Texas, but if they all have one thing in common, it’s heart. I struggled getting some of them to really push themselves and put more effort into their simple two days of training, but I think they understood more of why I was doing that when we got to the race. They put a lot of effort into their races, and I told them to just try their hardest. One runner was determined to get a PR from his last 5k, and boy, did he blaze a PR trail and finished in 21:45. That was amazing. I had several more finish in under 25 minutes, and of course, that was cool. A few threw up, and the one surprised himself by how hard he tried. His mom was sort of a wreck because of it, but I assured her he was just fine and was only pushing himself very hard. I think he wore that like a badge of honor, a puke patch?  Anyway, it was a great coach moment, and I’m already preparing for this spring, where I will have a boys and girls group. I have so many ideas of how to make the program better and more specific to the kids’ abilities and goals, so I have my work cut out for me! If only I had a track for them to practice on!!!

The next cool thing of December was finding out Ironman bought out the Beach 2 Battleship races here in Wilmington. I was planning to sign up for the half in October anyway, and thankfully, there’s still a half option, so I have my fall race planned. Ironman North Carolina 70.3 is purchased and on the books! This time though, I’m going to race the thing. My coach and I already discussed what she thinks my time should be, assuming it’s not tornadoing outside, and I’ve my sights set on a 30+ minute PR. I have a lot of work to do this summer, but I’m confident that smart and focused racing will do the trick.

 

My boys at the Orange Bowl

 

Next. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my husband is a total Clemson nut. He graduated from Clemson in the 90’s and has been a true fan of theirs before that and his love of the Tigers has grown and spread to me and our boys. Thankfully, we were able to drive eight hundred forty thousand 12-13 of the longest hours each way to Miami to watch them play in the Orange Bowl.

I’ve never been to a bowl game before, so it was a fun and entertaining experience for us, especially since Clemson won the game.

Our hotel in Miami was a mile away from a gorgeous park (WITH OPEN BATHROOMS WHOHOOO!) where I did 14 total miles of running, including speed work, the two mornings we were there. It was like July there, and although it was enjoyable, I was happy to head back north where the temps actually cooled after a very warm fall. On New Year’s Day morning, I saw the sun rise, loved the peacefulness of the reflection on the lake, saw snails chugging away to wherever they were going, and saw sun shining on the dew drops laying on a leaf. What a way to bring in the new year!

The interstate was a sea of orange as we all headed home after the big game, and it was cool to wave, nod, glance at all the other Clemson fans along the hundreds of miles towards home.

Definitely one of my favorite books!!

Since we were in the car for five zillion hours over 4 days, I finally got my book read. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I recently realized that my training intensity and effort does not match my race intensity and effort, so it’s time to change that. Good thing is, the test will be in twelve short days at the Charleston Marathon where I’m trying to PR and BQ. I’ve decided to go for it and use the tools I learned from this book. I would highly suggest this to anyone, no matter your goals. You never know what you’ll get out of it.

And one more thing, I decided to bite the bullet and get my Ironman tattoo. This tattoo does not symbolize Ironman. I hear a lot of backlash about people doing an Ironman branded race just for an “M-dot” tattoo. I did an Ironman branded race for the experience of doing one. They do things in a top-notch way, plus coming down the finish chute to people high-fiving you and cheering you just because you’re finishing was one of my favorite experiences ever. No offense to smaller races, but it’s not the same.

Anyhoo, this tattoo symbolizes following a dream, pushing “REGISTER” although I didn’t believe in myself. It means months of blood, sweat, and tears, of fear, of proving to myself that I am an Ironman, that I am stronger than I think. Training for and finishing an Ironman changed my life, and this tat is representation of the good things that can come of dreaming big and working hard.

Ironman I am

Did you watch football this holiday? Have a good time?

 

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Acclimating to the Post-Ironman World

It’s two weeks post-Ironman, and it certainly hasn’t been an easy two weeks. It certainly hasn’t been difficult, but mostly, it’s been weird. The first week was one of recovery and getting my house cleaned up and all my triathlon stuff put away. I blogged about my race, I had doctor appointments, my boys’ running group, and no workouts to do. I wasn’t sleeping well that first week, kept waking up at night, and was dragging around. I had no desire to do another Ironman for a long time. I walked my dog with my coach, I went grocery shopping, and I cooked, which means I ate a lot.

I finally got my race pictures :)

I finally got my race pictures 🙂

The second week was one where I wanted to go back out and start running again, but didn’t because I didn’t want to sabotage my recovery. There’s a marathon coming in just a few months, and I know I needed to recover from the Ironman in order to get my speed back up to be even close to qualifying for Boston. I had a lot more time on my hands, started sleeping (FINALLY!) again, but was very unfocused. My to-do list is REALLY long, but I couldn’t figure out what to do, when to do it, and I just didn’t do much of anything. Key word for the week is “unfocused”. I don’t like that feeling. I assume, this is when most people sign up for the next race, but I still have no desire to put an Ironman in the near future. I can see it for sure, but I don’t want to touch it.  I also know that signing up for another Ironman would be betraying my husband and kids. They need and want me around, and as much as I love the Ironman thing, I love being with them more.

I do love my training peaks workouts to do!

I spent several hours that second week making my Ironman video. What a trip that was! Take a view – the race starts at 3:50, but a really cool part starts at 3:20….Check it out!

I remember more things from the race I had forgotten to write about and unfortunately, forgot to put in the video:

She is Purdy.

She is Purdy.

I saw Batman along the run course. And a lot of funny signs.

I. Am. Batman.

I. Am. Batman.

My favorite sign, compliments of my son, Tyler.

My favorite sign, compliments of my son, Tyler.

I was taking Base salt, and I remember putting the salt in between my lower teeth and lip, like it was chew, instead of under my tongue for a lot of the run. I remember thinking it was weird that it was burning. Well, duh, because you’re not supposed to put it in your lip, dummy.

I forgot to mention that the guy who wondered if I was swearing because I dropped food after Mile 100 on the bike (when I was really swearing about the sudden change in wind direction), saw me on the run and said, “Hey! There’s the *%#$ you girl!” I was embarrassed yet I laughed. He wasn’t supposed to hear me swearing on the bike!!!

So basically, it has been a blah week, one of more recovery, more doctor appointments, and then going out of town for the weekend for my son’s last football game. I’m so ready for football season to be over! As great as it is, four months is a long season of every Saturday having a game plus at least 2 practices per week. I love having my family all home in the evening where we can play, talk, eat, and simply be together.

 

My little Panther

The one big thing I did this week was to start back to training. Oh, yes I did. And I needed it. It was late into the week, but it wasn’t a day later or earlier than what I needed. The running has felt good so far.

This makes me happy.

I still have a coach, a different one, but the same coach I had to train me for the half iron distance last fall and the Boston Marathon in 2014. Part of me wonders what I was thinking by jumping back into training so close after the Ironman, but I know if I had some time to think, I’d be signing up for something anyway. It was a preemptive strike against doing something DUMB during the post-Ironman blues, since I know myself, and I’d most likely go a tad crazy without a direct and big goal to work towards and would sign up for all the races. I NEED FOCUS.

Another thing I did was to visit the local tattoo artist about getting the M-dot tat “and more” plus re-tooling my “Boston B” tat on my shoulder. I have some good ideas so far and am looking forward to some new and improved ink. I’m feeling more like myself, signed up for a personal training certification course, and have a bunch of ideas for my middle school program in the spring. I think I’m finally getting back to normal again!!! Yes, normal is just a setting on the dryer, but I feel more like myself again!

This marathon, the Charleston Marathon, is January 16th, so I have a lot of work to do. I’m still taking it relatively slow, but I feel that my endurance and strength is over the roof. I hope that it will translate to speed in the upcoming weeks. Only time will tell!

How do you handle post-race blues?

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ironman Florida – The Race

Warning: This is long. Part of this is for me to re-live the experience as I write. Part of it is to be able to look back and remember the details. Part of it is because I like to write 🙂

When I left you the last time, we were about ready to start the race. I honestly didn’t know when my time would start, because I was wearing a wetsuit and the race was not wetsuit legal. Wetsuit wearers had to wait ten minutes to start after the non-wetsuit wearers, which was a VERY LONG TIME. I didn’t know how that all worked, so I just went with it. Nothing like flying by the seat of your pants for an Ironman, huh?

I knew where my boys would be, so I positioned myself to walk right by where they were. Finally, it was time for us to go, and we slowly filtered through the starting chute and to the water. I was so happy to see them waving and cheering me on. It was race time! The crowds were epic. The ONLY complaint is they didn’t play “Panama” as expected. Ahhh! I am so nervous just writing this, even more nervous than I was that morning!!!

Look at all those people swimming.

Look at all those people swimming.

There goes the wetsuits!

There goes the wetsuits!

With my goggles safely tucked under my pink swim cap, I took off into the gulf. The waves were not small, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I felt I was well-equipped to deal with the salt and waves from the training and the ocean lesson. My coach told me many moons ago that I had nothing to worry about regarding the swim. I would soon find out that she was right. And you were too, Gary 🙂

The swim is a long rectangle where you swim out, over left, then back, twice. Two loops.

My plan was to divide the swim into parts. Out, back, out, back, done. It’s like running a marathon. You don’t normally go into it saying, “Hey, only 26, 25, 24 miles to go.” You divide it up into manageable pieces. So that’s what I did with the swim, my Achille’s Heel, my nemesis, my worst fear. It was relatively crowded as I swam, and I was able to avoid getting kicked in the head. There were the upcloseandpersonal touches that just goes with something like this, which was fine because I was wearing a wetsuit. I quickly made it past the breakers, and had to time my sighting so I could see the buoys over the large rolling waves. If I looked at the wrong time, all I saw was water, but when I got it right, I could see a long way. Someone was trying to steal my Garmin on my left wrist, because it was stroke after stroke feeling like he was grabbing at it. I know he didn’t mean to, but it made me mad. I know, SHOCKER. Finally, I stopped and moved away from him after grunting to stop it already. I think he muttered “sorry” back. My goggles were a hot mess and I couldn’t see where I was going. I literally thought, “I’m swimming and I can’t see anything.” I could follow the masses enough, and soon, I could see the turn buoy. Yay!!!! I honestly cannot remember if I cleaned my goggles or if they cleared on their own. It was like a major traffic intersection at the turn, where everyone converged together all at once. We were all going pretty slow so we wouldn’t mash into each other, so that was nice. One thing I really liked and remembered about that clear water, which was definitely not as clear as it was the day before but still clear, was that I could see bubbles if I was near someone’s feet. That was my warning to look ahead and not get kicked in the face. It worked.

We headed back towards the beach, and I remembered to pay attention to what was behind me. I didn’t really see any buoys and was confused, but swam on. It was just the timing, as when I sighted at the right time, I could see them all. I felt like we were being pushed left, so I tried to aim more right so I would end up at the right spot. People kept passing me, and I felt like I was the last swimmer out there. I stopped and turned to see if there were others actually behind me, and was relieved to see a lot of people behind me!

At 45 minutes, I came out of the water from the first loop. Right. On. Time. I didn’t look at my watch again during the swim. I saw my boys, and threw them a half smile. It was hard. My legs were tired. We were told to cut across the rectangle towards a larger yellow buoy, and there were boaters telling those “cutters” to go in at the correct one. It didn’t take long to find my groove. I kept thinking, “I never have to swim again if I just get through this” many times. It was my mantra. I hugged the buoys and swam. Unfortunately, I didn’t sight adequately and when I did, I found myself WAY right. Damn current. I fought hard to get left, but it was difficult and it took me to the turn buoy to get where I wanted to go. I noticed swimmers WAY off course, and I felt pretty bad for them. Who wants to swim longer than 2.4 miles?

I was tired (duh), but I kept at it. I passed some non-wetsuit people, which surprised me, but when I realized some of them weren’t using their legs AT ALL, it made sense. I wanted to tap one of them on the shoulder and whisper, “PSSST. Use your legs!” but I didn’t. I was in the home stretch. I was almost done with the swim. Damn, I was doing it. I decided it was a good time to pee, so I didn’t have to waste time in transition.

Coming in from the swim.

Coming in from the swim.

I came out of the water pretty happy, and wanted my medal right then. Ha, I was so happy to be done, to know I finished the swim in good time, I wanted to revel in it a little, which didn’t go over well with the people behind me and with the volunteers. I was hurried to the wetsuit stripper, sat down in the sand (that would come back to bite me) and had my wetsuit quickly removed. Zip! Off to transition!!!!

**I did buy all these pics but just don’t have them yet.

 SWIM: 1:36:16

I ran and got my T1 bag and headed to the changing room. It was inside the convention center, which was cool, and I quickly got my bike gear on, drank some Gatorade, and headed out for a nice, scenic bike ride around the PCB area. The fact there’s personal helpers in there was damn cool.

T1: 9:32

As I headed out on the bike, I saw my boys again. It was SOOOO nice seeing familiar faces out there. It made a huge difference to me. I didn’t know how to avoid drafting when there were so many bikes heading out at the same time, but I kept my coach’s words in my head: “Be cognizant of what’s going on and what you’re doing.” Spoiler alert – I never got a drafting penalty (you have to stay 5 bike lengths behind the bike in front of you, and if you want to pass, you have to do so within 20 seconds). Score. No penalty box for me!!!

I don't know why, but the name "penalty box" makes me giggle. Makes me think of hockey.

I don’t know why, but the name “penalty box” makes me giggle. Makes me think of hockey.

We had a little tail wind as we headed along the beach. It was crowded, so I didn’t think I was going very fast. After mile 7, we turned north and headed out of town. I knew the big bridge was at mile 12, so I hauled it up that hill and noticed how pretty it was that morning. Only 100 miles to go!! Haha! Around that time, Van Halen’s “Top of the World” came in my head and stayed there for much of the bike ride. Perfect.

Everyone kept saying “have fun” before the race, and I tried. I don’t know why I was a little upset over this, but I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t having a bad time, but it wasn’t fun. I mean, it’s not supposed to be a party or anything, and it IS work. It’s a strange combination of work, making your dreams come true, thinking about what you’re doing, and more work. I enjoyed it for sure, especially as the miles ticked by. Funny things come into your head as you are by yourself for that long. I remember thinking this funny word, and I knew I needed to remember it, because it was goofy and silly and didn’t make sense – like BAZINGA, but I know it wasn’t that word, but I can’t remember!!! So I guess I WAS having fun, huh?


The Florida bike course is known to be flat and fast. There were a few hills snuck in there, but since I discovered I like hills and I always pass a bunch of people on them, it didn’t bother me. I passed people, people passed me, and when people passed me on these super fancy bikes, I couldn’t help but wonder how in the hell I beat them on the swim. I passed some pretty fancy bikes, too, which made me feel good about my $500 used tri bike. I saw lots of drafting, lots of cool outfits, annoying people, cool people, nice people, and idiots. I mean really, WHO PASSES ON THE RIGHT?????  You just don’t do that. There were packs of people I would hover behind until it got too slow, then I would pass them all at once, there were people I was playing back and forth with, people who fell over right in front of me, people throwing up into the bushes, and people with mechanical issues. I feel bad for the guy in the starting chute with a flat. That would suck.

My bike computer had given me some issues right before we left, but we tweaked it and hoped for the best. Within the first few miles, my cadence meter went wonky. It was my most important reading, so I played with the thing a while, and finally got the reading from 292-ish back to a normal 85. Could you imagine going 292? I don’t get why the thing would even read that, but I got it working and it was good the rest of the ride.

I learned about four months ago, that my legs are whiny. For the first hour or two into a ride, they cry and whine and fuss and “are so tired”. I also learned that after that initial time, it goes away and they go faster. As predicted, they were whiny the first 30 or so miles, then shut up and did what they trained to do. They felt strong.

I was very aware of how warm it was (word out was that it was in the mid-80’s, but that was probably in the sun, which we had on and off, but it was hot and very, very humid), so I was sure to tweak my hydration plan. I remember coach telling me that I can’t rely on just eFuel, I needed water as well. The aid stations are set up where you can grab something, have time to drink/eat it if you slow down through the station, then throw it away. They will penalize you if you throw trash out at any point besides the aid station (which people did anyway, but I wasn’t going to), so in the first few aid stations, I grabbed a water bottle and guzzled as much as I could before throwing it out at the end of the station. I made sure I drank my eFuel and took Base salt frequently, as I didn’t want to bonk on my run. At some point, I was lucky to score a port-a-jon without having to wait, refilled my aero bottle with the caged bottle, and went on my merry way.

I ate my salted mini potatoes, grazed on Clif Shot Blocks, and relied on eFuel and water until the half point. I packed an Uncrustable but I got slightly nauseated, probably from guzzling water, so I didn’t want it. Half way through the bike ride, I stopped at the special needs station where I refilled my eFuel, potatoes, had a mini Coke (nectar of the gods I tell you), and had a hand full of Cheetos. Mmmmmm, good! I was half way through the bike! The sun was out and wow, it was friggin hot out! I was glad to have the breeze created from the bike ride!

It sprinkled a little after that, and it felt good. I turned north, and went straight into a head wind. Oy. Ok, a hill too? Ok, I got this, if this was easy, everyone would do it, right? It’s not supposed to be easy!!! That’s what I was trying to tell myself, but I’ve never been a big fan of wind (except when it’s behind me), so I just did my best without burning my legs out. I noticed the roads were of very good quality, and I was glad the route was changed to remove an extremely bumpy section. I wondered why in the HELL people do these time after time. I wondered how people do these fast. I wondered why people would want to do ones in the mountains. I saw butterflies, I saw the blue sky, I noticed how pretty it was out and how similar it was to the rides at home. I was doing it. Mile 60, 70, 80, I was doing it. After 5 or so miles into the wind, we turned around. It got quiet, the good quiet that means we have… A TAIL WIND!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man, we had a down hill too! I probably took a mile off pedaling (or a few minutes anyway), and let the wind and hill carry me at 20 mph. It was a nice rest.

Wow, I could crush this bike time!!! I hammered it, with care of course, and tried to maintain a 21-22 mph speed. Soon, it was time to go over the bridge. “Only” 12 miles to go!!!!! Whooohooooo!!!!!  As soon as I came down the other side of the bridge, a magical thing happened. The tail wind turned into a head wind. WTF. My pace screeched down towards 15 mph, and I was pissed, SO PISSED. I was expecting the last 7 miles to have a head wind, not the last 12. Anyway, I cussed at it, swore at it, made a guy think I dropped food because he heard me swearing (we chatted as he passed me by), and I vented it out of my system. I thought of those who raced last year in 20-30 mph winds and was VERY happy for our hot, humid, relatively calm conditions! I stopped at the last aid station to get some Gatorade since I was nearly out of eFuel and my bike bottle mysteriously disappeared, and complained to the volunteer there, too.

When we were about a mile or two from the bike finish, I started crying. I did it. I would make it. I was making good time, and was well within my A goal time. It was the ugly cry, but I got it out of my system before the cameras and the bike finish. I came through the chute to tons of cheering, cow bells, and of course, my boys yelling and cheering for me!

BIKE: 6:18:35

I got off the bike and whoa, felt weird as I gave my bike to a volunteer and headed to T2. Time to run!!! I changed quickly and headed back out onto the course.

T2: 7:00

Heading out to run a marathon.

Heading out to run a marathon.

The run. Oh, the run. It was 2:41 pm, and still warm. My coach thinks I have a road block in my head about running in the heat, but I think I just don’t tolerate it well, so I am conservative. I waved to my boys as I left transition, and wondered how in the hell I was gonna run a marathon! Ha! Here’s the weird way I felt. It’s hard to describe. My legs and body felt strong. My training did what it was supposed to do. But I was drained. I mean, of COURSE I was, but after the first few fast miles that most IM runners have, I knew it was going to be a very long marathon. I didn’t pay too much attention to time, which I sort of regret and am not sure if it would’ve changed the outcome, but I walked when I wanted to walk and ran when I could. I walked way more than I wanted or planned to before I started running, but that’s just the way it was. My knee started hurting mile 2-3, so with every single step, I felt a jab of pain. It was not supposed to be easy, but I was doing it.


I was utterly SHOCKED AND AWED by the crowd support. I wasn’t expecting there to be that many people on the course, yelling, having fun, yard parties, signs, and all the madness that keeps runners running and their minds off how they’re feeling. I was amazed. I saw Batman, funny signs, a lady whipping people (lightly) as they passed by, and the best volunteers in the whole world at the aid stations. They were filled with people yelling out what they had, and all of them, at least once a mile, were basically the same, except the volunteers. Some were themed, but they were all great. One was filled with young ROTC young men and women (I cannot call them kids because they were so adult-like), and someone noted after the race, “I’ve never seen someone so happy to hand out chicken broth.” True statement. They had vaseline on a stick, cold water sponges, ice, water, ice water, Gatorade, cola, pretzels, chips, grapes, and after sunset, chicken broth. I was totally into ice and cola, and found myself rejecting solids. I drank and drank and salted like it was a cheap box wine margarita.

I think it was about five miles in (and my thoughts were “oh, great (sarcasm), “only” 21 miles to go. $%#@*”. I felt a tingle on my arm, and I realized I didn’t have any sweat on me. Hmmmm. I stopped running. I didn’t feel weird, I didn’t feel bobble headed like I did in Boston, but I wanted to be careful. I got my heart rate down, and started running again. Soon after, we turned, and I realized that my sweat had just been evaporating in the breeze because it was a full on sweat monsoon when we turned with the breeze. Thank goodness!!! I’d never been so happy to sweat!

I was going much slower than I wanted to and was at risk of not making my A goal time. But I just felt like I couldn’t hold on to running the entire time or as much as I wanted. It WAS hot, getting cooler, so I thought maybe I’d feel better later. We soon turned around and headed back around mile something. I still can’t remember what mile we turned around at. I walked through the really cool aid station in the park, and went through the Base Performance station. They were giving out tubes of salt, which I already had and used the entire day, but the guy there had a water bottle made up of his amino acid electrolyte drink. He told me to drink it and take six licks of the salt and I would feel better. I told him I was fine, just hot. He said to do it anyway. Okay.

I drank it over the next mile or two, and honestly, I did feel better. I didn’t have much extra zip or anything, but I felt good. My legs were still strong, although my knee still hurt, but I carried on.

The course goes through some really quiet areas and some areas that are buzzing with activity. You almost need both, but I truly enjoyed this run course. The speed bumps didn’t even bother me!

As I approach the half way point, I saw my boys, and knew I would become an Ironman in just a few more hours. At the run special needs, I grabbed some ibuprofen, chapstick, new gum, and headed out for loop two. I wondered why I hadn’t cried yet.

It was starting to get dark, and when needed, I turned my hat light on. I tried to keep it off so I didn’t blind the runners coming the other way. I saw the Without Limits guys, I saw an amputee struggling in pain, I saw a very small woman pushing her disabled athlete in a running wheelchair, I saw drunk spectators, I saw more and more people struggling and heaving off the side of the road. I changed the words to The Sound of Music song to “The streets are alive, with the sound of heaving”. I’m so funny. I saw the kid who’s 18th birthday was that day, and congratulated him for bringing in his birthday in a really big way. His dad was running with him too, so I gave them both kudos. I talked to a few others who were on their first loop as I headed back with only a 10k to go, and I wished them well. I talked to a girl who did Ironman Texas who said it was warmer that day than in Texas. I talked to a guy who was passing me and had crashed on his bike and hurt his arm. I saw costumes, kids running around having fun and helping, and found that my head lamp made shoes and speed bump paint glow like it was uranium.

I was watching my time, and I knew I was close to my goal time, but I knew I was too far away to make up the time I needed. As I approached mile 25, the tears started. The crowds picked up, and I knew this entire thing had been worth every moment of stress, work, tears, sweat, and every dollar. I felt inspired, and I hoped, at that moment, that what I was doing would inspire someone else, hopefully at least my kids. I cried the ugly cry as I neared the chute. I was doing it. I did it. People were putting their hands out for me to high five. I couldn’t believe it. They were telling me that I had a great smile, look at that smile, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything BUT smile at that moment, one that I will NEVER forget. I felt like a rock star as I came through that chute.

Run: 4:58:07

I came through the finish line. I heard my name…. “Kelli Kerkhoff (then he said other names) …YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. I saw my boys, turned and looked at them, and knew that I was forever changed. I did it.

As I was turning to see my boys – the ones I love the most. This is my favorite picture.

Ironman Florida 2015: 13:09:30

Anything is possible.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Ironman Florida 2015 – Pre-Race

Spoiler alert! I finished Ironman Florida on Saturday!!!! Whohoooo!!!!! I’ve been thinking of how I would write this post, and honestly, I have no idea where to start without having it be fifteen huge posts all about it! I can say that the experience was overwhelming for me, in a good way. I’ll start at the beginning.

All decked out.

All decked out.

We left home on Tuesday so we could get to Florida on Wednesday. It was my husband, our two boys, five suitcases and backpacks full of crap (which turned out to be four too many), my bike, and of course, me. The travel went well, and we got into Panama City Beach early afternoon on Wednesday. We checked in our hotel for one night, then I went to get my race stuff. Ironman Village is pretty cool. I’ve never been to a big race like this, only marathons and Beach 2 Battleship, which, to me, is just not the same. People seemed calm, the vibe was good – not electric, but good and happy. I wandered around a little, met the Base Performance guys, bought a race belt, picked up my IM stuff, and bought a few things at the expo. I had no workout that day, so we did do a lot of walking, wandering, and absorbing.

All registered and checked in!

All registered and checked in!

On Thursday morning, I met a few fellow Without Limits (our coaching team) guys and we went for a swim in the gulf and an hour bike ride along the course. The swim was great, the water was warm and clear, and the bike felt good.

Doug, me and Phillip

The weather was warmer than I had imagined it would be (mid 80’s with very high humidity), and it really bugged me, but I had to wrap my head around it, absorb it, get mad about it, obsess and worry about it, then I got over it and made a plan to deal with it. HYDRATION was the name of the game. We moved hotels, and I got busy eating and making up my transition bags. I was glad we had a hotel close to the village, as there really wasn’t a place to park nearby and the city was on top of towing anyone who tried to park anywhere but a legit parking space. I felt so bad seeing cars with bikes on them get towed off to jail. My family had a nice dinner at a restaurant on the water, and because of the daylight savings time change four days before, coupled with a time zone change, 5 pm seemed like 7 pm, so around 7-8, we hit it goodnight.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 4:45 (which felt like 6:45 to me) and realized that 24 hours from then, I would be racing. I wasn’t nervous. Where were my nerves? Did I spend them all on worrying about the waves, the heat, everything else? I don’t know, but I was pretty darned calm for what I was about to do. We all got up, ate some breakfast, and headed to the beach so the kids could play and I could get a short swim in. The swim felt good. I mean good. The water was very calm, warm, and the strokes just felt natural, not tiring or what they sometimes do. I was feeling it, and I was really happy about that. We let the kids play a while, especially since they had been trapped in the car and following me around for a few days, and we headed in to clean up.

As we jammed to my IMFL playlist, I finished getting my transition and pre-race bags ready, and around 11-12, we took my bike, Diggy, and all my crap, down to Ironman Village to turn it in. The one thing about Ironman that I wasn’t expecting were the number of volunteers and the seamless process they had in place for registration and check-in. It was extremely orderly, the volunteers were great and informative, and within just a few minutes, I had dropped everything off in its proper place and scouted out the transition route. No nerves still. Maybe it was because I knew I had adequate training, maybe it was because I knew I could handle what was to come, I don’t know, but I just didn’t get nervous. I was excited, yes, but not nervous. I had a good feeling about the race.

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

That afternoon, there was supposed to be the Ironman Underwear run, which never really happened for reasons I’m unsure about, even though I had painstakenly purchased Wonder Woman undies then decided for something less revealing and got some Star Wars boys boxer brief things at Walmart. My boys were both registered for the IronKids .75 mile run that started and ended at Ironman Village. I wanted them to feel they were a part of the festivities, and they were pretty excited about being able to finish under the IronKids banner and get a pretty cool medal.

IMG_9386

Too bad the big one’s eyes are close! They rocked the run, that’s for sure!

They knocked the race out, and we then headed back to the condo. After a nice chat with my coach, we grabbed the football and went to the beach to relax and play. It was just gorgeous out, and playing with my boys was a great way to end the afternoon.

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

On Ironman Eve, my husband and I left the kids at the condo in search of a big burger. That always suited me well for marathons, so I thought it was a good idea to stick with what works. We found a good one at a cool new place close to the hotel, The Wicked Wheel, and took it back to eat with the boys. Two seconds after I sat down, the burger was gone. 🙂 I got my list ready of the things I needed to get done before I left in the morning, thanked my boys for all their support over the last several months, and we headed to bed.

One thing I did NOT do, was drink a bunch of extra water. I had been drinking water, had a Gatorade at the expo the day I rode my bike and sweated out a bunch, and had not had coffee or any soda that week, but I didn’t drink extra. One thing I did before Boston was drink and drink, which who knows, may have had something to do with me running low on electrolytes during the race.

When I woke up at 2:45 am on Saturday, I found my nerves. All of them. They packed a punch, too. I laughed, and was happy I hadn’t felt that way before that morning. My hands were shaking!!! Does it make sense if I say I had nerves but no anxiety? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be nervous, at least just a little bit, and I certainly was a lot, but I wasn’t anxious about doing the race. I knew I had to break it up into pieces and get each piece done before I could move on to the next, all while being sure I thought about the big picture when it came to nutrition. I ate my toast and peanut butter, and went to lay down until it was close to leave for the Village, at 4:15. When we got to the village, I took my nutrition bags and filled up my bottles on the bike, checked my two transition bags, and then realized I couldn’t find my phone. I knew I took it from my husband as I went into the transition area, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Tears. THERE was my anxiety!!! I knew it was just hiding from me!!! I fell apart. But I doubt it was about the phone.  Deep down, I knew we would get it back that day, and I didn’t think any of “my people”, the triathletes or volunteers, would steal it. But it gave me a reason to bawl, which made me feel better.

Ready to go on race morning.

Ready to go on race morning.

It was time to head to the beach and for my husband to go get the kids. We decided to splurge on the VIP experience for them, so they wouldn’t have to fight to find a place to see me like they did in Boston. By the time I got to the beach (I was warned there would be a bottleneck and they were right.) That was the time I wish I would’ve had a buddy to hang out with. I was surrounded by thousands of people, but I felt very alone at that moment. When I saw the beach, full of people ready to watch the rest of us race, I got excited. I saw that the waves weren’t small, but it didn’t seem too choppy like it gets here, and I knew my ocean lesson was worth getting. I was confident I could handle this. For the first time, I was confident about the swim. I WAS CONFIDENT ABOUT THE SWIM. Something I never could imagine.

IMG_9405

I was confident about THAT!!! Who’d-a-thunk that??!

I looked and looked for my husband and kids to no avail. I had a bag with some things in it, so dropped it at the morning bag area. They said the National Anthem. Still no hubby. Boo. The physically challenged athletes were on their way. I borrowed a stranger’s phone and found that my boys were indeed in the VIP tent. Whew. I just wanted to know they were there, which was the theme of the day for me. Seeing them made me calm, made me feel ok, and of course, made me happy.

Because the water temp was 77 degrees, it was not wetsuit legal. They allowed wetsuits, but we would have to wait ten minutes after the non-wetsuit people were on their way, and we would not be eligible for awards or Kona slots.  Yeah, no problem for me! I knew I wanted to wear mine so I didn’t waste extra energy that I would need to get over the waves and fight the current. I was afraid I would get too warm and it would drain me for the rest of the warm day, but it was a risk I was going to take.

It was time. My Ironman was about to begin.

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, open water swimming, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The In Between Spaces

A week ago, I completed my training for Ironman Florida.

It's about time.

It’s about time.

At that point, there was really nothing more I could do to prepare for the race PHYSICALLY, except to not get sick. As I got in my truck to go home, I started crying. It was a release, it was part sadness, it was part relief. As I cried my way home, my mind was like a rolodex of memories of the past year, flash cards of experiences over the summer. The finish line is essential to this journey, but the journey is really what it’s all about. This past week, I thought about so many things that I’ve done (or made myself do) that I would not have done otherwise, and I realized how thankful I was to have this experience. As I prepare to head south to Florida this week, I am nervous, I’m a little scared, but most of all, I’m confident that I can handle whatever the day brings.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

So what are these “in-between” spaces? Well, they’re not the number of miles I biked, or how fast I was able to get my 800 repeats done, or my power meter (if I had one) readings, the type of tires I have on my bike, how “aero” my helmet is (it isn’t), or how much faster I could swim a mile than two months ago (I can’t – I’m the same speed). I don’t know how many miles I’ve bike and run and swam. Because it doesn’t matter. I did it. I lived it. And it meant something to me.  It was more about the people I met, the multitude of sunrises I saw, the convenience store we frequented on our bike rides, the dumb dogs that chased us, the big, stupid jellyfish that assaulted me slid by and scared the crap out of me, swimming in my wetsuit in my pool, my husband and I finishing the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 as a team, the caterpillars making their way across the highway as we passed, and the butterflies the flitted by every. single. day. we. rode.

Some of the best ladies I've met! Of course, I don't have pics of the gents I've met along the way.

Some of the best ladies I’ve met! Of course, I don’t have pics of the gents I’ve met along the way.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay. Technically, the pool WAS wetsuit mandatory 🙂

It was the way my kids understood what I was doing, the way my husband easily took a lot of burden off me, never making me feel guilty (I was good at that on my own) about the time I spent away or the money I have spent. It was the exhaustion I’ve felt, the naps I’ve taken, the way I yelled at those cars “because they think they’re so cool” as I biked that one Sunday during my meltdown, the laughter as I thought about silly things along the way (like when I peed my pants on purpose to “test” if I could pee on my bike),

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

the reaction from people when I say I’m training for an Ironman, the way my friends reacted when I said “HELL NO I WILL NOT SWIM TODAY” because I was scared of sharks and jellyfish stings. It was swimming in the ocean while the sun rose.  It was riding 102 miles in the hills of North Carolina, not knowing how much I would truly enjoy the experience.

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

It was understanding why people put themselves through this, the beauty of it all, when you step back, take the training out of the experience, and just experience the experience. You see the in between spaces, the stuff people miss when they’re just training, when they’re getting through it instead of living it. The in between spaces is the meat of it, the bulk of an experience, the REAL-ness of it all, when you’re training for hours and hours in a week to cross a finish line to become an Ironman. It’s what IT is all about. It’s life. It’s real, and I love it. THOSE are the in between spaces.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim. I’m on the left.

 

My mom asked me what one thing I’ve learned from training for an Ironman. I couldn’t come up with one. I gave her and my sister three things that I’ve learned about training for an Ironman.

  1. I have the best husband ever. Hands down, no questions asked. I just do.
  2. The finish line is essential to the journey, but the journey is definitely what it’s all about.
  3. I’m thankful God gave me a body that will allow me to do this and a spirit that wants the challenge.

And my final one I’m adding, is this:

4) I appreciate the in between spaces and thankful for them all, both good and bad.

I’m thankful, I’m lucky, I GET to do this.

No matter if the swim is cancelled for an algae bloom, if it’s windy, cold, hot, humid, whatever, I know I can get through it. I’ll remember the in between spaces and know that I can get through anything to get my finish line.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

On Swimming, Biking, and Running

First of all, I have to give a HUGE, GINORMOUS shout out to my two coaches. Sami, my Ironman coach, just completed the World Championship 70.2 in Austria and is only a few weeks away from making her way to Kona. Hello, Awesome! She has been a huge inspiration to me and has helped me navigate this crazy thing called Ironman.

Sami finishing IM France

Sami finishing IM France

My other coach, Kristen, has helped me train through some crazy races (that means I was crazy at the time, not the race), including my first half iron last fall. She was the one who had me ready to kick Boston’s butt before it kicked mine, and who will hopefully help me get another BQ come January. This nutty girl and her equally nutty friend made it into Otillo, the absolute swim/run endurance event this weekend in Sweden. This race entails swimming a total of 10k and running a total of 65k. Oh, but it’s not just that, it’s swimming to an island WITH YOUR RUN GEAR, running across it WITH ALL YOUR SWIM GEAR, then swimming to the next island, and so on and so forth. Check out the website because it’s proof people do crazy stuff. Ha! Best of luck to you my friend, Kristen.

1385080_10203974705300632_405769710090026340_n

Otherwise, I’m still here, chugging away at this crazy train called Ironman training and life.  Honestly, I’m not sure which one takes up more time.  Training feels like it’s all-encompassing. It’s very different from the half iron, and I’m not sure if it’s this way for everyone else, or if I’m the anomaly, or if it’s a factor of being a first-time Ironman participant.

I was trying to describe it to my husband, because I feel guilty that my training is taking up about 90% of my brain. I think about training, the race, nutrition, equipment, the next workout, the last workout, sharks, should I have an extra pair of goggles in my wetsuit, what if it rains, I don’t like hills, all that stuff, whirling around in my head all the time. All. The. Time. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I’m sure he’s tired of it, heck, I am tired of hearing myself talk or think about it. In explaining to him how I was feeling,  and evidently I’m still in pre-school, because the only way I could accurately describe how I was feeling was by pictures.

So this depicts the Beach 2 Battleship half last fall. We were super busy, but I got all my training in. It seemed time consuming at the time, but I was sure to have fun with it and not stress out.

Half iron training.

Half iron training. Do you like my flamingos?

You can see the Beach 2 Battleship on the left but it’s on the side. It’s clearly there, but everything else in the picture is clear and it takes up more space in my vision than B2B.

Then there’s Ironman.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

The Ironman is the main focus. Everything else is there, but it’s blurry, and the IM clearly takes precedence. This is how I feel 99% of the time. I can’t stop thinking about it, focusing on it, and chewing on it, spitting it out. But it’s always there, and everything else is in the background and fuzzy. Sure, I’m getting everything taken care of and it’s not like I’m ignoring my kids while I stare at the wall or something, but when we talk about something, my mind drifts to 1) training 2) the race itself. Considering how much time it takes me to train, it’s pretty clear why I’m always thinking about it, but I certainly gets annoying. Visualizing is good, but I’m sure visualizing the heck out of this race.

On swimming, biking, and running.

Swimming. Oh, that pesky swim. The event that has me tied up in knots, the one I hope to get through, the one that scares me the most. There’s no reason to believe I can’t finish this swim in plenty of time. But crazy things happen, I know, so I’m doing my best to prepare for it.  Except swimming open water. Yeah, there’s a jellyfish and shark convention going on this summer, so I’ve been out for a few weeks. A few weeks ago, I was going to try and swim in my wetsuit because there was a seriously jellyfish issue and tons of people were getting stung. Then my friend posted this picture.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

I basically had a panic attack. I know sharks are out there. I KNOW that, but this summer in the ocean is weird and these pictures were taken VERY CLOSE to my house, in the inlet, and a few miles from where we swim. I decided against swimming, which is good, since both the ladies I was going to swim with got stung up, even with full wetsuits on.

Me. Totally me.

Me. Totally me.

So I’ve been to the pool and have been swimming on my swim tether at my house. I have to say it’s going well. I can swim for 90 minutes without dying and being sore. I’m not fast, am not getting any faster, but, barring any weird race situations, I think I should be able to finish this swim in 1:45 or less and feel good.

BIKING.

Ahhh, biking. This is relatively new for me, this thing called biking. I’ve found to enjoy it, minus the cars going two millimeters away from me at 55 mph. I knew that I needed to really gain some strength on the bike. I’ve put in a lot of hard intervals, long rides, and it’s finally starting to pay off. I can now do 80 miles at 18+ mph after a tough week of workouts. This past weekend was the biggest confidence booster where I went 82.5 miles in 4 1/2 hours then ran 6 miles with every other mile at a tempo pace with negative splits, ending on a sub-8:00. Yeah, the legs were shredded after that workout, but I think I felt a rush of what it was like to really push yourself past the zone of uncomfortable. I pushed harder in that workout than I probably have ever, for sure harder than any other brick workouts. All I could think was that the harder I push, the stronger I will get and the better I will feel when I race.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

One thing I really enjoy about biking on Sunday mornings is seeing the gorgeous sunrises. I’ve been so blessed to have good weather so far, but the sunrises? One of my favorite things. I love the sounds, the bugs as they welcome the morning and then move into the symphonies of summer. I’m out there for hours and hours, so at least I have something to listen to.

This holiday weekend, I’m heading to central North Carolina, where there’s HILLZ. Oy, I’m not used to hills, but it’s time to do what it is that scares me, which is a 100 mile bike ride in da hills. Yup, that’ll be me on Monday. Wish me luck. To say that I’m intimidated would be a pretty big underestimate.

Running.

I haven’t missed running. I’m getting long runs in, but I haven’t enjoyed them. Why? Because I can’t breathe. I’m losing 85% of my fluids in ten minutes of running. It’s so humid. It’s so hot. I know, it’s summer, fall is coming, but I dread my long run on Saturday because I know I’m going to soak through 2 pairs of my running shoes and be so covered in sweat, I look like I just got done with my swim. I miss you, cool weather, and I miss enjoying my running. This makes me re-think trying to get into the Chicago marathon because running in soup at pace is just, well, not fun!  BUT, like I mentioned before, I’ve pushed past the comfort zone, and even when my legs are tired, I have sweat coming out of my eyebrows, I push. I have a marathon to train for after IM Florida, and every little bit faster and stronger I get now will only help me later when it’s time to push the gas to the floor.

So there. That’s the deal. Focus. Drive. Hard work. It’s been fun, I’m truly enjoying this crazy thing, and I look forward to the next few months. It really has been a journey so far.

 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, qualifying for boston marathon, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

New Limits in an Epic Year

Well, hello there again, strangers. Today marks the first day of school for many parents, and I find myself here with a mimosa glass of cold water, finally able to sit down, guilt-free mind you, and write a post! The first day of school is normally bitter sweet for me, as is the last day of school. I LOVE having my kids home during the summer and school breaks, but there is something to be said about having uninterrupted hours to do the stuff I need to do to make this house clean and run like a well-oiled machine without finding the room I just de-cluttered all re-cluttered within five minutes because the kids are home. I don’t know what it is, but they’re just messy. Truth be told, I’d much rather have a messy, loud house full of kids, their friends, and their clutter, than a clean, quiet one, so I am a little sad about school starting.

I thought the best way to catch y’all up is to make a list, because I LOVE lists. I especially love to cross stuff off lists and am one of those who will write something down that I’ve already done simply so I can cross it off. I never said I was good at time management….

So here goes. Here’s a list of things I’ve been doing, in no particular order of importance.

**Ironman Florida is ELEVEN weeks away. I have to admit, when I saw that on the calendar just a minute ago, the word, “Holyfuckingshit” just flew out of my mouth. Sorry, mom. In reality, I have less than 11 weeks left. Gulp. Training has been kicking butt. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s not supposed to be easy. I’ve had good swims, bad swims, good bike rides, awful bike rides, awesome runs, bad horrible sweaty runs. That’s the name of the game, but I can say that I’ve done my training and I’m feeling really good about it. I’ve pushed myself to new limits I never thought I could do (and still walk – it might be weird looking, but I’m walking). I’m loving it and can totally see why people get addicted to endurance sports.

**I started a company. Yes, I’ve hinted about this, but finally, FINALLY, I got my ducks in order and launched Epic Running Company, LLC.

EPIC Logo FINAL 2

This is something I never thought I would or could do. But it materialized just this year when I asked myself, “Self, why the hell not??!” My focus is a middle school running program I started, but I’m also interested in helping adults reach their running goals. I currently have one client, and he’s currently kicking butt in his marathon training. I love watching people push themselves past something they never thought they could do.  The program at the school will be starting on September 15th, and I’m so excited, I am giddy just thinking about it!

**I rode 80.55 miles on my bike in 4 hours and 19 minutes.  That’s an average of 18.7 mph, y’all, and for me, that ain’t no joking around. That’s a limit I never thought I’d cross. Granted, I had intervals during the ride, and they certainly made me feel every single cell in my legs as they screamed for me to slow down, but I didn’t slow down and it made up for me wanting to throw my bike into the Cape Fear River the prior week during a very challenging century ride. Two weekends, two completely different rides. That’s training.

**Athletes talk about things like we are babies/infants. We talk about pee, the color of it, if we got to go poo before a long workout, how much we eat, WHAT we eat, what we drink, how much we drink, how much, salt, sugar, everything we consume, what we wear, all that sort of stuff. I would hesitate to bring this up, but hey, THIS is the bread and butter of athlete-speak, right? So here goes. Yesterday, near the end of my ride, I experimented with peeing in my bike shorts. Other people do it and it seems like such a handy time-saver. I wanted to give it a try and see if it’s something I could do during the race. I found that yes, yes, I could do this if I really needed to NEAR THE END OF A RIDE, and I’m not to the point of being able to pee ON the bike (I just sat on the ground and let it go as I ate my Uncrustable), and I’m not sure, after 40 or so years of training myself NOT to go on myself, that I could even pee while riding my bike (without falling over) if I wanted to. Anyway, here’s what I liked and didn’t like.

I like that I didn’t have to walk into the spidery, web-filled, mosquito-infested woods to pee, possibly baring myself to an innocent person “looking for morel mushrooms” or something equally treasure-like only to find a biker’s butt. “Hey mom, you’ll NEVER guess what I found in the woods today.” Peeing in your shorts completely eliminates uncomfortable run-ins like that. Also, you don’t have to wait in line to pee. Bonus. Go in your shorts and then “accidentally” spill your water, conveniently rinsing it off. You get some relief, AND you cool yourself down. What I didn’t like about it is that there was pee in my shorts.

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

It collected like I was wearing a wetsuit. I didn’t like that and was baffled about how spandex can be waterproof (although we know I’m not talking about water).  So anyway, I might try it again, but am concerned with how the runoff is handled. I assume we all know where it goes, since most of us are familiar with gravity, but I won’t know until I try. I’ll be sure I’m riding solo, so if you’re one of my biker buddies, don’t worry.

**Sweating. I’ve never sweat so much and have reached new limits in how many pairs of shoes I can soak through during a long run (right now, it would be two in 14 miles but I really needed 3). Seriously, I’ve never done so much working out in humid, gross, disgusting coastal North Carolina. I can usually find a loophole in running or doing something that causes the entire liquid portion IN my body to come OUT as sweat. But there’s no loopholes in Ironman training, that’s for sure.

sweat

**I can change a flat tire on my bike in less than 10 minutes. I’ve had LOTS of practice – 7 flats since the season started for me in May. This has caused a new level of stress during the ride, probably for the people I’m with as much or more than myself, and I’ve developed situational Tourette’s Syndrome that features the “F” word.

This was me. Or a nice version of me the last flat I had.

I’m not proud, but I’ve decided I’m over it and it’s almost funny. I now have new tires, new rim tape, and new tools, since the old ones broke and were “gently tossed” into a ditch in Pender County when I had a flat and it took 4 of us 20 minutes to just get the tire off the rim. That was fun. But now I am confident that if I get a flat during the race, I can change it quickly and be on my way. That’s a skill every biker should have.

My favorite quote.

My favorite quote.

**I’ve truly embraced this quote: “If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done.” I live and breathe this quote. I’ve cried, I’ve bled, I’ve thrown stuff, I’ve sworn, I’ve been so tired, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of my sentence, but I’ve kept going. I know it’s only going to get harder, but the beautiful thing is that we can adapt. We change to accommodate the difficulty that will come. It’s going to get really hard with school, two kids in two sports, husband training for a marathon, and my training, coaching, and a house to run, but this is what life is, isn’t it? Isn’t THIS what we’re supposed to be doing? Having fun and making memories along the way, doing things we never thought we could?

I smile thinking about this year, the things I’ve been able to do, the experiences I’ve had with my family, and it really is going to be the Epic-est year.

I’ve embraced uncomfortable-ness like never before.  And there’s absolutely nothing that will make me stop.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.