running

Ironman NC 70.3 Race Recap – Part I

I’d be lying if I said I was completely happy with the result of my 4th triathlon, the Ironman NC 70.3, in my hometown of Wilmington, on October 22nd, but I would also be lying if I said I didn’t have a total blast with this race. It’s taken me a few days to really digest and absorb everything about it, learn from it, **I was going to put a spoiler in here but mwahahaha, you’re just going to have to read the WHOLE THING to see if I met my goal**, and well, my parents were in town last week so we were often found shenaniganing around the town or in someone’s kitchen. I am so glad I had an endurance race or I’d probably be up about 5-10 pounds about now from all the shenanigans I ate and drank. Yum-o-rama!

So let me start from the beginning. I signed up for the 70.3 last fall. It was a looonnnggg time ago, and when I signed up, I decided that I didn’t want to “just” participate, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I wanted to push my tri goals a little and aim for a PR (sub 6:03) and goal time (5:30). My sister gave me my first love/hate Christmas present, the gift that keeps on giving, ahhhh, coached swimming sessions. I decided I was going to take the fins off my back and face my strong desire to never swim again, and swim a ton. I became a little more comfortable in the water, and I actually. Started. To. Like. My. Coached. Swims.  I should’ve bought a lottery ticket because I never thought that would happen. Maybe it’s because you have friends to be tortured with and the time seems to go fast, except when doing those workouts when the pool water was over 90 degrees and you just want to take an ice bath.  My goal for the race was to get through the swim as fast as possible, which is basically, just making it through successfully, with the least amount of chafing possible and to be sure the wetsuit stripper didn’t grab my tri shorts by accident.

I got my tired butt out of bed to frequently find my anaerobic threshold (i.e. barf-o-meter) on my bike, chasing my coach and friends along the island of Wrightsville Beach, back and forth, never to fully catch up, but enough to feel a significant difference in my overall bike performance.  I biked with faster people on the weekends, often coming back to the parking lot with a feeling of euphoria that I could actually do what I just did. 22mph average for 58 miles? Why, yes! Ok, that was only once, but still, I’ll never forget how my legs felt that day and the days that followed, the power I could feel building as my bike speeds and strength progressed over the months. My goal for the 56 mile bike was a sub 3:00 time, which was a 19 mph average. I was confident my hard work would pay off on race day.

Because this summer felt like we lived in a jungle placed directly on the surface of the sun, running was extremely difficult for me. I think it was for a lot of people, but I think I should win the “whiniest summer runner ever in history” award.  I swear (and I did, A LOT), the heat and humidity were relentless until two weeks prior to the race. During the worst of it, my fast pace at the track was an 8:00 mile that I could hold for a whopping ¼ mile before literally melting into the track or throwing myself down next to my bag of ice cubes in a heat tantrum. wtf6

So anyway, my run goal went from a 1:45 half to “I hate running during the summer so I don’t care” goal. Really, I wanted a 1:49:59 for my 13.1 miles, and I knew I could do it if I stopped whining, if race day wasn’t 75 or warmer, and I got my game face on.  “Embrace the suck” was the theme this summer.

Everything was lining up, I stayed healthy, and my parents decided to come from Missouri and see me finish the race and visit the family. I was deeply honored for that, and then I could point to all the other athletes and prove that I was NOT the only crazy one out there, we were literally EVERYWHERE. And now they can say they’ve seen and heard Mike Reilly give people their Ironman crowns….I digress.

I have to mention that IMNC 140.6 and 70.3 were just purchased by Ironman/WTC, and it was a unique experience to have both the full and half on the same day. We were all a little wary of how bike traffic would go because of the increased participation, but we figured the full bikers would be pretty much out of the way of the 70.3 people. Then Hurricane Matthew happened. I live in the middle of Wilmington, really close to the coast, and we closely watched as the hurricane barreled its way up the coast. Fortunately for me personally, we only had 3ish inches of rain from the whole event, and we are now in the process of getting the roof replaced on our house. We have a house, insurance with a really high-but-less-than-the-cost-of-a-new-roof deductible, and we are lucky.

Hurricane Matthew

Inland, on the other hand, just 10-15 miles away from my house and for several hundred miles west, it was a different story. The rain was relentless. From the reports I’ve read, this was not a 100 year event or 500 year event. The rain from Hurricane Matthew caused a 1000 year flood event in North Carolina just two weeks before the Ironman races, and part of the massive flooding was on the bike courses.

To make a long story short, the Tuesday before the races, Ironman let the athletes know, because of the flooding, the bike course for the half would be reduced from 56 to 50 miles, and the full from 112 to 50 as well. I was not happy about the news regarding my race, but I felt a punch in the gut for all those athletes who had trained their butts off, sacrificed hours and hours to train for a 112 mile bike ride and would not get their race. I honestly did not think there was anything Ironman could do, it was cancel the race or shorten the course. The county resources were already stretched thin, and I assume to try and change the course would have been a logistical nightmare, if completely impossible for anyone to pull off. I felt the sadness and anger from the full athletes, and I certainly did not blame them, many of them being my friends and training buddies.  I know that you can be empathetic towards the flood victims and upset about your race at the same time, but it crossed the line when some of those athletes became mean and nasty about it, none of which were my friends, of course.

On Thursday, about 30 seconds after I had accepted and really liked the fact that my bike had been cut short, it was announced that both bike courses would be 56 miles, the half participants would get their “full” race, and the full got an additional 6 miles. It was good news, but there was still an air of disappointment for those who were racing the full.

This may seem irrelevant, but it’s actually a key point. My schedule during the two weeks before my race was packed, a lot more than usual. I don’t know what the heck was going on, although I’m sure my calendar could speak for itself (but I’m too lazy to get up and look at it), but I was just non-stop busy. Extraordinarily busy. School festival, band event, volunteering, team dinner, coaching, working, shopping for food, cooking the food, eating the food, you name it. I was exhausted. Part of that is how I normally feel before a race, but part of it was because I never had a chance to just breathe. I did my personal race stuff, volunteered at the Base Performance tent, met up with my new team at Team Blue Line (I can’t wait to talk more about this!), got in my last bits of training, ran my bike here, ran my run stuff there, had dinner, worked my two jobs, and took care of my kids and house stuff, you know, pretty much the normal stuff but with a big endurance race added to the mix.

I may or may not have sent this to a few people so they would just be aware.

Because I am me, I started checking the weather, not quite obsessively, but frequently that week. It was really warm in the days leading to the race, and it looked like a cold front was going to move in right before race day. You know what a cold front means? Yeah, WIND. Yuck.Little did I know.

Pre-race rituals set in, and I got all my stuff settled in the day before the race. My parents made it into town safely, and my sister had made plans to take me to the beach and let me hang out at her friend’s house right by the start. I was nervous, as normal, about the wind, about pushing myself hard to meet my goal, and about the race in general. After I ate my ritual chicken sandwich, complete with cheese and an egg, with fries and a huge glass of water, I said “Goodnight” to everyone, set my alarm for “ass o’clock early” the next morning, and quickly fell asleep.

Part II: COMING SOON!!!

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, fueled by base, ironman, open water swimming, running, swimming, temper tantrum, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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.

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Almost at the finish!

Mile 26: 8:21

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

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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Post-Race Happy

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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

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Race Recap

PART I. Evidently, I’m so wordy, I had to cut this off before it turned novelish. Part 2 coming soon!

As I was running on Sunday, I actually thought about this blog. What will I write about? How will it end? Will there be tears of happiness or sadness, because you KNOW there’s always tears at the end of marathons. I’m just thrilled about the race, and it will go down in history as on of my favorite days, just like Ironman Florida was. Who knew I could have two of my favorite races within just a few months of each other?

Over the past few days, I’ve had a feeling of calmness come over me. I finally did it. I finally did what I knew I could do all along. I raced my heart out, ran to the absolute best of my ability, and I achieved my time goal along the way. THIS is why I kept at it. THIS is why I didn’t quit. I can breathe now. I have nothing more to prove. It’ll be about redemption in Boston. So here’s the story of my race, well, it’s the story of the weekend.

As I wrote in my last blog, I had a very specific race plan. I was careful about my carbs the three days before, and I knew I was going to eat my big meal earlier than I had before. What I didn’t plan on were the nerves I had when I woke up on Saturday. Evidently, they had all saved up in my system and came out to play that day. Yay, a nerve party! After having a really good night of sleep, I woke up at 8 am, then headed to the Fleet Feet shakeout run at 9. I ended up running with a friend of mine, and I’m irritated I didn’t get a picture of us! Here’s a group photo though. I enjoyed talking with Jim the entire 3.3 mile run, and was a good, strong run. I felt good! I chatted with some of the other runners after we were done, then headed home to get ready for our busy day.

Fleet Feet shakeout run!

My son and I worked the half marathon packet pickup on Saturday, which was three hours of intense packeting, whew, and when we came out of that tent, we were dizzy and sweaty and glad to be done with our volunteer work. I’m just thankful I could stay seated. Just after we were released, both of my boys ran the 1 mile fun run. My youngest has a natural athletic ability to him, and last year, he blazed to a 6:21 finish without any real preparation. This year, he wanted to get a 6:15. Quite admirable for a 10 year old. My 13 year old, who is athletic (more athletic than what he thinks he is) but not as competitive about it,  didn’t feel like running, had been on his feet helping me for three hours, so said he was just going to run. Cool.

They took off, and less than six minutes later, my youngest came around the corner, finishing his race in 5:43. Um, ok. That’s fast. Then my oldest came into view, hauling his butt to the finish in 7:08. Yeah, “I’m just going to run it, Mom”. Sure, son. I was so proud of their efforts, and that they put everything they could into their one mile. I’ve told them a hundred times before, it’s not the time that shows on the clock that matters, it’s the effort you put into it. Proud momma.

My little speedsters

After the race, I ended up seeing a friend of mine, who was pacing for the half marathon. Evidently, she met the 3:40 pacer, which was my goal pace, so I was lucky enough to meet and talk to her.  I have no idea how I missed the fact there was a pacer meeting, but thankfully, I found that she had an “even pace” theory. I felt comfortable with that, so I decided to try and run with the group, something I’ve never done before. I would find her blonde hair at the start line.

After chatting with a few more people, I was ready to head to dinner. I have been eating a big burger the night before big races, but this time, I changed it to a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg on top. And fries with Base salt and some ketchup. It was delicious and just enough to really fill me up but not make me feel like throwing up. One thing about this meal that was different was that I ate earlier in the evening. I wanted to be sure it had enough time to move through, if you know what I mean.

I didn’t get all my gear ready until after dinner and I had checked all my weather apps at least one more time. It was going to be 48 as a low, a high of 57, windy, and showers during the race. Hmmm, well, let’s plan for that rain, but I was REALLY thrilled about the cool temps. I didn’t know how windy it would end up being, so I was in a quandary about what exactly I would need, because if there’s one thing about me, I do NOT like being warm when I run. I decided on my shorts, tank, arm warmers, billed hat for rain, light shade sunglasses since there wasn’t supposed to be any sun, and a light, waterproof, disposable coat by Sheddable Shell with tear-away arms that would keep my core warm and dry. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a few of these coats for cooler weather running. They’re cheap, and then if you have one, you won’t have to pay more for shipping than the minimum $30 order because you waited until the last minute to order them. You’re welcome. I was going to carry an 8 oz bottle of Base Rocket Fuel and along with that, supplement with water along the course. I had trained with this and found it to provide the extra push I needed to get through those long runs, plus it helped me recover faster than I had in any prior training. I made my 3:39 pace bracelet, mostly since I thought my arms might be covered and I needed to be sure I could check my paces without depending on my Garmin. That little piece turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made.

3:39 pace bracelet. Essential on race day to keep me aware.

For the first time ever, I studied the race course, especially the placement of the aid stations and what they offered. I wanted to be sure I could get Gu when I needed it at every five miles, and carry it if the course didn’t offer what I needed when I needed it. My husband and kids were working the aid station at mile 14.5, and I had made a little goodie bag with chapstick, gu, new gum, Base salt, and a fresh bottle of Rocket Fuel. I also packed a new hat, gloves, and an extra pair of shoes in a waterproof backpack to leave at that aid station in the event of a deluge of rain and a change of shoes would be necessary.

Fueled by Base and ready to go!!

I charged my iPod, checked to be sure it worked correctly, and charged my Garmin. I was ready to go. This was the most prepared I went into any marathon. I was determined to make it my best effort, and no matter the outcome, I was going to do whatever I could to remove the variables that brought me down in the past. Hydration, nutrition, training, and weather. Those are the big ones. All seemed to be lining up to lead me to my goal. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me long to get to sleep. I had felt so tired that entire week, my legs felt like lead up until that day, so I knew I was physically ready to run the next morning. I had finally calmed back down, but the nerves were still there. What would tomorrow bring?

All I know is that I kept thinking, “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance” and “Failing to plan is like planning to fail”. I had planned, mapped it out, and knew what I needed to do when I needed to do it. I was ready. For the first time ever, I had a real, complete marathon plan.

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Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Things I’m Doing To Prepare For My 10th Marathon

I’m running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach marathon here in Wilmington, NC, on Sunday and going for a Boston Qualifying time. I calculated how many times I’ve tried and not met my goal, and it was quite depressing, but I’ve finally decided that a marathon is a marathon, and I’m gonna have fun with this one, especially since it’s in my home town and I will know about a zillion of the other runners and spectators. Yes, that was a very long sentence, but this is my blog and I can write incorrectly if I want to.

So in honor of my 10th marathon and my love for lists, I’ve compiled a list of ten things I’m doing (and in some cases, NOT doing) to prepare for this race in no particular order. Except 10. 10 is the most important of them all. No kiddin’.

  1. Weather stalking. It wouldn’t be a big race if I wasn’t looking at my six  weather apps. ONE!!!! IT’S ONLY ONE!!! I SWEAR, I’M NOT LYING. Ok, it’s six. I have six weather apps.  Come on!!! Everyone tells me that I can’t control the weather, so stop worrying. Quite the opposite for me. It’s the one thing I cannot control, so that’s the thing I worry about the most. The way I operate, I have to process something other than ideal. The forecast for race day doesn’t look ideal, but it doesn’t appear it will be over 60 that day, and that’s really good news. Wind and rain is in the forecast. Lucky me, I’ve PR’d twice in the wind and rain. It doesn’t intimidate me. I’m planning for heavy rain, just in case, but it’s doable. Obsessing about weather gives me something to think about and I can plan my clothes, shoes, and nutrition/hydration appropriately. So stop telling me to not worry because duh, I will anyway.

    Not too shabby!! But I’m still checking every ten seconds.

  2. Follow politics very closely. Hahahahahahaha! NO!!!!!!!!!!! Do you want to know what I posted on my Facebook page on Tuesday, our state’s election day? (Yes, I voted.) A picture of the beach, which is where my butt was sitting. No one needed to hear anything about politics because politics was taken that day. And every other day.
  3. Oh baby, it’s carb-loading time!!! I get to eat. It’s not whole wheat, it’s not brown rice, no, it’s white bread, it’s white enriched noodles, it’s good! I carb-load for three days before race day. No, I don’t gorge myself with food and I don’t eat much fiber, because that would make my race one long sprint between each port-a-jon or well-placed bush. I’ve shifted what I eat, not how much I eat (which is quite a lot because I’m always hungry around this time). Pasta for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.
  4.  Hydrate. It’s humid here along the coast about 95% of the time, so chances are, I’m going to sweat a lot on race day, even if the temps stay cool. I’m closely watching how much I drink and, dammit, that pee had better run clear/light yellow by tonight!  I even bought some “Hint” water to make water actually taste better. No added sweetener crap, no carbonation, just water infused with fruit. Why don’t I just make it at home? Because I’m too tired from marathon training.

    Hint, I love this stuff!

  5. Watching basketball and cluelessly  very carefully filling out my award-winning brackets. March Madness has to be one of the most unproductive times of the year. Lucky for me, I’m self-employed, so I let my employee (me) watch the games as long as said employee (me) works at the same time. I’m a good boss. I mean really, my home town team UNCW, ALMOST beat Duke yesterday, my alma mater, UNI, is playing, as well as the other two Iowa teams, and we have UNC and Duke to continue to watch.  So go ahead and yell when you see that good shot on your phone from under your desk. Everyone knows what you’re doing anyway.
  6. Spent time with my family. My parents came to visit on March 3rd and left March 16th. I only get to see them a few times a year, so during that time, I put almost everything I possibly could on hold to spend time with them. We ate out, we cooked (I did once or twice but hey, who’s counting?), I took the kids out of school one day so we could shoot gunz, we went to the beach, we talked, we shopped, we even bar hopped. It was the best.
  7. Catching my ass up after taking two weeks off doing almost everything I normally do. The house didn’t learn to clean up after itself and my work didn’t get done, so, instead of thinking much about running, I’ve been doing all the things I didn’t do the few weeks my parents were here. It was certainly worth it, but when I had to figure out what to make for dinner for an entire week, it became clear that life was back to normal.

    What I find in every corner of every stair. I am baffled how this cat has any hair left on his body.

  8. Perfect my Marathon Playlist on my iPod. Do I want “Livin’ on a Prayer” at the beginning or the end? What was I thinking when I actually added an old boy band song?? It won’t make me laugh, it will make me angry. Uh, delete. Time to get those decisions made.
  9. Not running. Not much, anyway. It IS taper time. It’s a good thing because when I do, I feel like crap. Funny thing, this taper. One mile makes me out of breath, just as it should. The last time I felt this crappy during taper was right before Boston. This makes me feel very hopeful, because to me, crappy feeling means strong legs ready to race.

    taper

    Can’t touch this. Especially if you grew up in the 80’s.

  10. Making the perfect marathon plan. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. This became so very evident to me after the Charleston Marathon when, once again, I dehydrated and locked up and did the walk of anger and shame on and off the last several miles of the race. Nope, not gonna do it this time. Hey, I may fail at my goal, but it sure isn’t going to be because I failed to plan. Thanks to Coach Kristen’s request, I have crafted a very detailed race plan, from what I eat the day before, what I eat and what times the morning of, to how fast I’m going to start, what my pace plan is, and my VERY DETAILED fuel/hydration plan. This includes my Base Performance Salts, Amino, and Hydro. They come together to make Rocket Fuel, which is given out on the marathon portion of Ironman races. I have trained with this, and I believe in it. All I can say is that I’m FUELED BY BASE. I cannot afford to mess this one up. I am fully aware the race may not go my way, but it certainly will not be because I didn’t follow my plan. Maybe I got cocky after running a lot of marathons. I don’t know, but I didn’t think a lot of things through. Sure, I carried hydration with me in Charleston, but I didn’t actually drink it. Had I put that part in a conscious PLAN, the race may have gone differently for me. Now I don’t have anything to fret about because it’s all written down. I know what to do, just do it. RWB_IamaAwesome
  11. This is a bonus number. This one is what I’m going to do on Sunday. Well, for starters, I’m going to run my 10th full marathon, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to remember all the time and effort and exhaustion I’ve put into training, and I’m going to remember this, clearly, as I think about slowing down. I will push, I will shove, I will remember how bad I want it. As the miles click by, I know I’ll feel thankful, tired, mad, happy, mad, thrilled, and joyful as I run. But mostly, see the pictures at the top of this blog. THAT’S what I’m going to do. I can’t say it better than that. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Categories: follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon hal higdon training plan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

If I Had Some Liquid Paper…or something like that

Does Liquid Paper even exist anymore? After my last blog and mostly due to the last sentence of it, I caught some heat over being too hard on myself. I was actually told to CHANGE THAT LAST SENTENCE. You know who you are. So here goes:

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I’m removing the last sentence of my last blog.

“You always learn something when you race. Yeah, I learned how not to be a dumbass.” This is now stricken from the last blog, and by stricken, I mean I’m striking it here in this one. The thing is, I don’t think I’m a dumbass. I actually consider myself to be quite intelligent. Intelligent people can do dumbass things. Teenage years and early twenties are a prime example of smart people doing dumb things. I didn’t dwell on it (for once) like I normally do. I made a critical error, and by realizing the error, it made me feel better. While part of me wanted to do this:

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I knew I had to do this:

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The way I see it is that it had to happen. I had to learn my lesson from this huge mistake. The lesson was learned, however dumbass it was, and I moved on. I have regrouped. So here’s the deal, I’m fixing my ponytail, and I’m trying again. As much as I wanted to quit for that five minutes, I don’t want to give up. Ever.

By the way, congrats to everyone who made it through the great “snowmageddon” out there. It was a doozy, even here in coastal North Carolina. Everyone rushed outside at the same time to take a picture or video of the two snowflakes that fell, so it created a rush of warm air that in fact, melted the snowflakes they were trying to photograph.

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This is what happens in the south, but for reals, the roads are scary as SH%$ when it snows here.

We survived. 🙂

Anyway, because I shifted my goals, I had to shift my races. I was supposed to do a fun 50k on Saturday, but it is now a 5 miler. Instead of doing whatever I wanted the next few months, I will be running, doing speed work, tempo, strength, PRACTICING HYDRATING, all in prep for my 10th marathon in March. Yes, I am trying this BQ thing again on March 20th. Who knows what will happen, but the thing is, I won’t know if I don’t try. And I feel good, have had a strong training cycle, and I got coach’s permission to keep going. So I’m regrouping, recovering the last few weeks, and next week, I’m back at it. Wrightsville Beach Marathon, you totaled me last year (probably because I didn’t drink enough), but I’m coming for you!

In the meantime, my Epic Running Company youth running groups have opened registration and I’m studying for the AFAA Personal Trainer Certification. And for someone who has a Business Finance degree and not a Biology degree? Yeah.

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The tensor fasciae latae what?

So anyway, I’ve been keeping busy, having a good few weeks break, but I’m ready to get back at it. All with a good attitude and understanding that I am not a dumbass. 😉

Let’s hear it – have you made any HUGE multiple mistakes in your races? Did you finally learn from them?

Categories: Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Charleston Marathon Recap – No BQ For Me :(

There’s a theme going on here with my last several marathons. Bonk. It’s a weird sort of bonk and I can’t quite figure it out, but I have my suspicions, now that I’ve had a day to think about it. Yeah, I figured it out. So here’s my race report…

My husband and I drove to Charleston the morning before the race. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house, and I have had a really sick cat who needed to go to the vet for fluids, so we got a late start. We headed down and chatted, ate, and had a nice, relaxing trip. We went to packet pickup, which was busy and really easy to access. I think the expo would have been significantly better had a band not been performing in the school gym where expo was located. It was so loud. And loud music when you’re trying to wander around booths and get your race stuff and chat with people is just stressful. Basically, all people were doing was signaling, “WHAT?!??”.

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I hope they nix the band in the future – no one liked it, and this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have enjoyed the band at the finish line, OUTSIDE.

I got my stuff, saw some fellow Wilmington peeps, and we headed to the hotel to hang out. My sister kept the kids, so it was nice to watch tv, and go to dinner when we felt like it. I had my traditional burger, and honestly I had no nerves. I was determined, I was scared (to face the pain), but I was more determined than scared. I was worried about how warm and humid it might be, but I figured I would take my Base Rocket Fuel and salt, and I would be fine.  It’s all about dealing with the obstacles, not letting them deal with you. That was my attitude going into the race. I was ready to tear it up.

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My goal times and some other “inspiring” words of encouragement.

On race morning, I did my traditional thing, ate peanut butter on bread, a banana, drank some OJ, and we headed to the race start about 90 minutes prior. I had some nerves, but it was more determination than fear. No traffic, plenty of parking, we were there. A friend of mine needed a Garmin charge cord, so I took that to her, tried to exchange my medium shirt for a large, which is highly annoying since I’m not a large person, so I didn’t think I needed to order a large shirt. I found a few friends from Wilmington at the start, got a kiss from my hubby who was running the half, and soon, we were on our way. They got the race started right at 8. Awesome.

I was warm. It was over 50 degrees when we started, which means tank and shorts for me. I had gloves because of the waiting, plus I tucked one of my gu’s in one. I was trying something completely different for this race, and I knew it was going to be warmer and more humid than I feel I race well in, so I carried Base Rocket Fuel with me. This stuff boosted me big time during Ironman, and I’ve been using it, the salts, and the Base Energy for almost a month while training. I had two small containers, one in my hand, one in a “holster” hooked on my shorts. I was leery of carrying, but I was willing to throw the containers when empty or if they got annoying.

The first mile was pretty crowded, but it thinned out enough where I didn’t have to weave in and out around the 9+ minute mile people. By mile three, I was pretty sweaty. The temps were fairly cool and we had a breeze/wind, so that was good, but the sun was out in full force, and I was warming up quickly. “Adjust to it, Kelli. You just need to adjust.” I was keeping at a fairly even pace at 8:15’s, and I slowly built up some time over the miles. I enjoyed the course as we weaved through the battery and beautiful historic homes on the water front, then along the southern part of the Charleston peninsula. And then the course dried up. It went from a pretty downtown area with spectators to industrial with no one. I knew there were a lot of turns, and that was ok, I just needed to watch my tangents so I didn’t end up running 27 miles!

The full and half split the first time at mile 9, and we fullers headed into the abyss of the naval yard and Cooper River Marina. There was a push on the way out, and looking back, this was where I realized the day was unwinding. I was optimistic though – just push, keep going, don’t give up, don’t be a p****, how bad do you want it, you’re doing it, you’re on pace, don’t fuck it up, so many people believe in you, you believe in you – these were the thoughts in my head. I was keeping pace, but it seemed harder, and I didn’t know why. At mile 12, we went onto a concrete dock and turned around and headed back into the most boring course ever. Ugh. The good thing is that I saw two people I knew along the way, so just seeing them made me happy.

At that point, I was racing. I thought I was hydrating. By then, I had drank my 7ish oz of Rocket Fuel, a few licks of Base salt, and had two of my gu’s. I was super sweaty, or rather, I was salty. I felt like I was doing the right thing. At mile 14, I was only maybe 20 seconds off my goal pace, but I felt like I was losing time. I felt like it was getting harder and harder to just keep at an 8:30 pace.

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Mile 16

I wasn’t going to give up. But soon, I knew I lost my goal. I knew it was not going to work. I didn’t understand what happened though. No, I don’t like warm weather, and it doesn’t like me, but I was FIGHTING! Isn’t that supposed to work? Isn’t that enough? Willing yourself to fight, to push, to work harder than you feel you can, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do to race your best? Well, it simply wasn’t enough for me that day.

I cried. I hyperventilated. I felt like I let everyone down, my coach, my family, my teammates. I let the haters win – yes, I know there’s people out there happy I didn’t meet my goal. I’m a laughing stock. Kelli failed yet again. Can’t she get it right? Was my one BQ a fluke? All that time. All that money. All the hopes and dreams and faith it would work this time. Gone. I failed before I crossed the finish line, and I was angry. Frustrated. Tired of failing. Did I not want it badly enough? So many other people can do this, what the hell am I doing wrong? Did I already reach my peak? Am I just not a BQ marathon runner anymore?

But around mile 18, I still had some fight. I knew I could still run a good time, so go for it. I wouldn’t let myself quit, as I desperately wanted to walk off the course, make up some story about a sprained ankle, but I was there to fight. So I fought. It was a battle where I was prepared to duke it out to the end, but I had no ammunition. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was like so many other marathons – I could no make my body do what I knew it could do. It wasn’t muscular. THAT is something I can push through. This was something else, something else that bogged me down. I allowed myself one tantrum. 20 seconds. That was it. Carry on.

As I went through cycles of good running, some walking, and some shuffling, I dreaded the finish line. And then I didn’t. And as I turned about a hundred thousand times on the course to that line, I knew I had to keep going, keep fighting, and finish with a smile. It was a marathon for goodness sake, and I was going to finish in under four hours. Time goals aside, finishing a marathon is something to be proud of, no matter how long it takes. So I had a feeling of pride as I ran the last few miles. I guess I let go of what other people thought about me, and let myself feel the true feelings that I had – disappointment mixed with pride. One of my favorite songs came on, and I turned up the volume, then hit rewind and listened to it again. I should have been finishing at that point. Damn.

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A race picture with BOTH feet off the ground. Keeper!!

I enjoyed the last .2 miles of this marathon. The crowd was good, you could hear the finish line announcer, and then I saw my husband and friend, Wendy, cheering me on. I choked up, as I knew he knew how much I wanted this race. And he’s always there for me, always cheering me on, supporting me through my races, my crazy ideas, and he always calls me amazing. He is my rock.  And I finished my race in 3:54:06. No, I did not meet my goal, but I ran a marathon. And for that, I am super proud.

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Marathon 9 in the books!

The after party was pretty awesome. They had shrimp and grits (I just had the grits but they hit the spot), beer, mimosas, an amazing band, and just a fun atmosphere in the North Charleston downtown area. I found my fellow blogger, Running Wild and his other pacer, and we chatted a bit and hung out as we rested up. Cool peeps.

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Paul, another cool pacer guy, and me

Because we needed to head home, I went to the school just next to the finish, showered, and we took a shuttle back to the start to get our car and head home.

So now that I’ve had a few days to digest the race, what went wrong? Again. Well, after I thought about it, boggled over it for hours, I realized I wasn’t doing the one thing that I knew I needed to do. Drink. I had the perfect drink. I had it with me. I was literally holding the key in my hand. And as I tell you how much I had to drink the first half, I’m going to hear tons of you face-palm yourselves because how can a person, a smart person, a COACH herself, be so clueless? Each race is a lesson learned, whether it be of what to do or what NOT to do. So I learned that drinking 7 oz in the first 13-14 miles of a marathon isn’t enough. Here, I’ll do it for you.

facepalm

I heard my coach do this over the phone.

So now what? What am I going to do? Well, I’m going to read a lot about hydration and recover. I’m not sure if I’m going to go ahead with my other race plans or adjust based on the fact that I was really dumb about hydration when I knew I needed to drink more. Why didn’t I drink more? Well, honestly, I thought I was. I had Rocket Fuel. I had salt. I was going to ADJUST. I’ve never drank much during races before and that worked for me, right? Hah, no, that’s why I’ve bonked the last three. I never did before and it worked when it was cold out. It wasn’t cold the last three marathons, and I didn’t adjust. You always learn something when you race. Yeah, I learned how not to be a dumbass.

Categories: go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running with friends, temper tantrum, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 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.

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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

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

Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 Relay Recap

Team “This was her idea” completed the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 on Saturday. I did the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike, while my husband ran the 26.2 miles to the finish.

FullSizeRender

Four score and seven years ago…ha, just kidding. My alarm rang at a bright (it was actually really dark) and early 4:00 am on Saturday. I had a list of things I needed to get done before my sister picked me up at 5:15 and took me to T1, where I would drop off the special needs bags, T1 bag, and got my bike all pumped and ready to go.

They passed inspection.

They passed inspection.

The time flew, and it was time to head to the swim start via trolley. I was lucky to find my friend, Alisha, who I’ve ridden bikes with and was doing the full 140.6 on her own. And spoiler alert, she finished in a screaming fast time of 12:45! When we got to the start, we came upon several others we knew, so it was so nice to have company while we waited.

Ready to go!!!

Ready to go!!!

I’m so tired of peanut butter. It’s definitely my go-to sandwich topping and I normally eat two pieces of bread with peanut butter before long bike rides. Not Saturday. I hate a BUNCH of small pancakes before I left home, then some Clif Shot Blocks and an Uncrustable at the swim start, probably 20-30 minutes out. My nerves never really hit, even as we made our way to the start line, during the National Anthem, prayer, and as the countdown began with “Lose Yourself” playing in the background. It was windy, and I was nervous about that part, but I was ready to go. I couldn’t believe what 750ish people all ready to swim 2.4 miles looked like. That was a LOT of people to swim with.

B2B start

B2B start

After the horn sounded to start, I let many people start and walked across the sand into the water, jogged, then dove in. The sound of so many arms and legs working through the water was cool. We would be swimming down Banks Channel for quite a while, then hang a left into Motts Channel, a right, then head to the finish. I knew the current was strongest in the middle of the channel, and I tried to get to the middle as soon as I could.  When I was, I noticed we were flying. The swim was going to be fast. That’s when my head started hurting. Damn.  I bet my goggles were too tight. Well, nothing I could do but finish the swim and let the headache go away, as it always did. But first, I needed to experience typical “mass start” swim inconveniences, such as getting kicked in the face by a moron who was cutting across all the other swimmers, probably because he wasn’t sighting. I called him a name, readjusted my goggles, then went back to it. In the meantime, I was kicked, hit, and had others hit my legs and feet while swimming. Nothing major though. Good. I needed to know what that felt like, because I know for sure that Florida is going to be about ten times worse, or more. I stopped several times from a strange sort of bottleneck that emerged where two people were blocking me and I felt it would take more energy to go around them than just keep going and let itself sort out. Soon, we passed by the half start. Then I saw the turn buoy, and it was coming fast. As soon as I passed the orange triangle, I took a left and angled a little left of center since I knew the current would bring me right. Once we got into Mott’s Channel, we flew along again, and the navigation marker pole came up so fast, I think someone actually ran into it. I aimed towards the finish ladders, and was soon there, but stopped kicking to pee 🙂 Twelve years later, I was ready to get out. My friend, Stacey, was working the medical tent at the swim finish and I was so happy to hear her cheer for me as I got out of the water. One thing that made me surprised and happy was that there were tons of people left in the water. For someone who freaks out about being last all the time in group swims, I was just thrilled to be in the main crowd of people. Whew!!! Swim time: 1:05.02 (my normal 2.4ish mile swim is 90 minutes, so that’s how fast the current was).

From swim finish to T1, about a 300 meter jog.

From swim finish to T1, about a 300 meter jog.

Two words: Wetsuit Strippers. Then we went through warm showers to get as much as the salt water off our bodies as we could and headed for a little jog to T1. I heard my name called out so many times, I saw my sister, and it made me so happy. Do crowds really know how amazing they make athletes feel? I felt like a rock star as I ran with my wetsuit slung over my arm, dripping wet, and grimacing from the pavement hurting my feet. I grabbed my bag and went into the tent, changed my clothes, put on arm warmers, applied sunscreen and chapstick, said hi to my friend Rebecca, and got ready to bike. I put food in my bag, but I had no time for that and wasn’t hungry. Damn. I had to pee again. But I had already started towards my bike, so figured I could wait until the aid station at mile 21 to go. I found my bike and was headed out for a nice 112 mile ride. I went to turn my watch on, and damn. Battery dead. Oh well, I had my bike computer to go by. T1 time: 9:26

Bike traffic was tricky for several miles. I didn’t want to get a penalty, but I didn’t know how to handle the bottleneck since everyone was pretty much drafting. The vehicle traffic was not blocked off, so it was weird and I wasn’t sure what lane the bikes could be in without getting run over. Hmmmm. Ok, I just followed the people in front of me. Finally, several miles (or what felt like it), the bikes thinned out and we headed out on I-140. We had a good tail/cross wind, so my speed was good. Honestly, wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt good and strong.  I did my best to stay back and be sure I could pass the person in front of me before any attempt, and I did a lot of passing. I got passed quite a bit too, but I didn’t care. That meant I beat them on the swim, so I soaked up that feeling while I could! I came upon a few girls chatting side by side, so finally, after a guy tried to pass on the left and hit rumble strips that made his water bottles fall off his bike, I yelled at them to move over and stop blocking. I could have done that in a nicer way, but really, how rude. It’s not like they couldn’t see all the bikes piling up behind them. Another irritating thing was that my headache hadn’t gone away. In fact, I had a raging headache at this point, and no ibuprofen.

Another interesting thing I noticed during this early part of the ride is the “violation police” on a motorcycle going by marking people’s number down for rules violations.  They were out in force. The last thing I wanted was a time penalty, so I did my best to not violate the rules, but with the bottleneck, I didn’t know how to actually follow the rules. Something to talk to coach about for sure.

The miles clicked by, and I wish I could have found my “zone”, but I couldn’t since we were using the left lane of an interstate and the right part of our lane was coned off with cars zipping by at 60-70 mph in the right lane. One wrong move, you hit a cone, and bam. Done. When I saw the very large bridge come into view, I knew we were at mile 20 and the bathroom was coming up. Thank goodness because I sure had to pee!  I refilled some of my eFuel, went to the jon, and was on my way again. Right into the wind. I’m not sure what the wind speed was, but I felt like we had a straight head wind of at least 10 mph. Someone said it was maybe 15, but I don’t know for sure, but it wasn’t a “light breeze” by any means. I put my head down and pedaled. And pedaled and pedaled. I sometimes get random songs in my head when I bike. I can’t remember the name of the song, and it’s not one of my favorites by any means, but all I know is that part of the lyrics have “when the wind blows”, which I thought was appropriate for the situation.

I am familiar with this route, so I knew of some landmarks along the way. I’m not positive of the speed I was going, but I wasn’t pushing too hard. My legs ALWAYS feel tired when I start out on a bike ride, and they were feeling it at this point. I think we were into the wind for 30 miles? Not sure, but we turned left, where I thought we would find relief from the wind, only to find very minimal relief. Damn. All I know is that I didn’t want it to switch around so we would have a head wind on our way back!

I thought I saw on the map that our special needs was at mile 51 or 53. We passed 53 with no special needs, and I wondered if I missed it? What happened? I didn’t understand, and I was thinking of the Coke I had in there and was anxious to drink it. Along this ride, I learned that I like to eat on the bike. I’d never really done that in training, and I’m not certain why, but I was like a biking food truck. I pulled things out of my bag, put them in the pocket in my bike shirt, and would eat a little here and a little there. Energy beans and shot blocks was what I had first, then I remembered I had some baby yellow potatoes. I dug them out and slowly ate them. Delish! Thanks for the idea, Angela!!

Finally, I saw a commotion ahead and came upon special needs at mile 58. One of the volunteers brought me my bag, and lo and behold, it was a friend of mine, Michelle. That was so cool! Another friend yelled hi to me. So awesome! I was half way through the bike and tired from pushing into the wind so long, PLUS my headache still hadn’t gone away, so I was sort of out of it. I didn’t want to eat the sandwiches I packed to practice with, so that’s one thing learned. I grabbed my Uncrustable, more shot blocks and beans, noticed the line to the bathroom was too long, and headed on my way. A mile or so later, I realized I didn’t even see or think about my Coke in the bag. Damn!!!

We had some tail wind mixed with head wind and side wind the next several miles. My headache was pounding, so over every bump, it radiated up to the top of my head. Oh, it hurt so bad and I could do nothing about it. Mental training was all I could think. A few miles up the road, I passed a biker holding his bloody face while the EMT’s helped him. I said a little prayer for him – that’s nothing anyone wants to see, ever, but especially on someone’s race day. I found out later he was ok and wants to do the race next year, but has no recollection of what happened and why he crashed.

Between mile 70 and 80, I struggled. The road was rough, so every big bump we went over, it felt like someone was stabbing me in the head. I know this is a tough part of the bike anyway, so I let myself cry. Then I sucked it up and carried on, stopping to pee and to get water somewhere along in there. Four stops was all I was going to allow myself.

With about 20 miles to go, I was on a smooth road and the miles clicked off. My legs felt strong, so I started to push a little more. With 12-13 miles to go, we turned south, and had the most amazing reward in the form of a tail wind. I headed towards my finish line, where I would hand off my timing chip to my husband and be done racing for the day. I pushed, I passed, I reveled in our delicious tail wind that was helping me maintain speeds of 21-22 mph. I had my cell phone in my bike bag just so my husband could track me to know when to be in the relay exchange zone (yes, I know I’m not supposed to have a phone, but I didn’t touch it during the race, only having it with me for tracking purposes). He noticed I was coming to the finish pretty fast and got ready to run.

When I headed over the big bridge that takes us to downtown, I got emotional. I did it. My longest bike ride to date, and it was a good one, despite the wind. I had no idea the time, no clue to my average speed, but I learned a LOT, and I had a great experience along the way. Two support crews stuck out in my head – a group of girls dressed as Wonder Woman were following someone, but always had cheers for other racers. There was a HUGE group of people dressed in blue t-shirts out supporting their person at many points. Wow. Those people were amazing to see, the amount of support they provided their person, and they also helped me too. I couldn’t imagine that kind of support!

Coming into T2, where the relay exchange was.

Coming into T2, where the relay exchange was.

I rode into the transition, gave my bike to a volunteer, and quickly found my husband waiting for me. I quick gave him a kiss and the timing chip, and he was on his way. I laid down because my head was pounding, and knew I needed to get something for it before I did anything else. The exchange zone volunteer asked if I needed anything, and actually went and got me some medicine so I didn’t have to get up, even when I told her I could go get it when I got some food. The meds came with a medical person who had to clear me before he would give me anything, which is cool and annoying at the same time, but I got my Tylenol and within minutes, my headache cleared.  Bike Time: 6:25:27. Crazy fast for me!!!

Wow. I did it. 2/3 of an iron distance on my own. It wasn’t easy, but was filled with a sense of relief for the things I learned along the way and of pride and of confidence for Florida, three short weeks from that very day. I went to the finish line to see if they would let me have food, only to find tons of people I knew, including my coach. I chatted with her for a bit, grabbed some grub, and headed back to get my bike, change clothes, and watch my husband as he ran his race. Things took a lot longer than I planned, but along the way, I noticed that I felt really good. My legs didn’t even feel very tired, and I knew at that point, I got my nutrition and effort level right on my training ride. I knew I could run after that and that I would be super tired (who isn’t?), but that it was doable.

I’ll leave the rest of the details out since this is long enough, but I knew people about three miles from the finish who were watching for my husband. They alerted me when he was on his way back, so I was ready and waiting for him at the finish to cross that line with him. He wasn’t having a great race and didn’t feel great, but he did an amazing job, and we finished the 140.6 together.

We did it!!!

We did it!!!

B2B Iron Distance Relay Time: 12:09:57

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Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

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