training for half iron distance

Putting Myself in Time Out

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! And GOOOO TIGERS! We are a Clemson family and my husband literally bleeds ORANGE, so today is a happy, yet slightly hung over, day.


Second of all, I’ve missed this (blogging) so much. I’m back running again (I bet you didn’t know I wasn’t running, because how would you, I haven’t been blogging) so I’ve been thinking of so many things to write about, so I decided to write about the first thing that I really wanted to share. And I got lots to share.

Here we go. The last thing I wrote was my race report for IMNC 70.3 tri. It’s been months of trying to catch up with life, work so I can pay for life, and honestly rest. Here it is, January, and I never wrote a follow up for that particular blog, and I felt it was really important to do so.

So look at this picture from two years ago after I completed my first tri, the B2B 70.3. Look at that face!

IMG_3299

Beast Mode. In Endurance events like this, you really have to zone in on this, or you can lose your mind.

I was so happy. Thrilled, excited, powerful, and fulfilled. I knew I did the best I could for that day, especially considering it was my very first tri.

After I finished this year, I felt very unfulfilled, angry, upset, mad.

mad

Here’s the kicker. My finish time this year was less than ONE MINUTE different from the exact same race two years ago (6:03 or something like that). How bout them apples?  Less than one minute. And I was pissed. Mad. But the most interesting thing was not that I was mad about my result, which I was, but I was mad that I was mad. The race was hard. Everyone else said it too, so it must be true, right? Really, it was, and sure, I was disappointed I missed my goal time (by a lot) and mentally collapsed on the bike, and I worked my butt off for months to meet my goal time. But I was the maddest that I was mad about it at all. Where was that happy person like two years ago? That’s who I wanted to be, not a grumbly mess who would answer, “but it was way off my goal time” or “Thanks, but….”, when complimented on the race itself. No race finish should have an asterisk next to it, really.

While I was biking during this year’s race, I went from feeling good, to wanting to quit triathlon altogether, to “get yourself together”, to “I hate goal times”, to “do your best and kick as much butt as you can”. It was a tricky cycle of love to hate to love to dislike to contentment. During the run, which is my favorite thing to do in the whole world, I thought that I needed to reset my triathlon goals, and to stop making them so finite. There is so much to triathlon, at least for longer distances. So much can happen along the way to derail a race. Or make a race great. It’s not just three events, it’s pretty much five – swim, bike, run, transition, nutrition. They’re all essential components of one organism, which is the tri. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to tri. But I actually started doing triathlons after being disappointed in a 1:40 half marathon, which was a HUGE PR for me. I couldn’t shake the “it wasn’t fast enough” feeling, so I decided to do tri, so I could just enjoy the sport. Then I got all fancy with it and put big time goals on myself, and it ruined a really good race. I need to protect that “good feeling” when I tri. So I’m putting myself in time out.

Don’t get me wrong, having time goals is great. But not for me, for triathlon. I need a break from that, because that’s what I do in running. Running is where my competitive spirit resides. I am going to let triathlon be where my fun spirit resides. For now. So I’m putting myself in time out. No “racing” triathlons. No watches, no expectations except to have fun, which is the reason I do these things anyway.

Do you find you get too competitive with times? Or is that what makes it fun? Do you have sports for competing and then others for “fun”?

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap – Part II

Soooo, I was planning to post this a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I got busy with the wonderful shingles virus and taking my kids and self to our fall doctor appointments for a total of seven visits. It’s been “fun”, and now I totally understand why there’s a chicken pox vaccine.  Praise medical science for that, because shingles is like riding the roller coaster of Forrest Gump chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get on any given day. For weeks. I digress, and here’s the very extended version of my IMNC 70.3 race report. Finally.

For Part I, click here.

Part II begins….NOW.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 4:00 am to my son’s words on my alarm label, “Move your bacon”. It always makes me smile. I got up, ate four pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter, and got my fuel ready….d’oh. My fuel. Yeah, I had forgotten it in my truck that I parked at the race finish the night before. Thankfully, I have awesome training buddies, and two of them were bringing me some fuel at the bike area where we planned to meet for a picture. My husband got up and headed out to volunteer, and my sister picked me up to take us to the start.

The temp tattoo my sissy got for my race

I was tired and nervous about the wind, as it was blowing pretty hard and steady around 15 mph from the northwest, which was to be directly in our faces on the bike. Oy. When we got to T1, it was buzzing with excitement. I love this feeling.  I checked my bike, fueled her up, checked on my T1 bag, and gathered with many of my friends.


My sister drove me to the start and we went to her friend’s place, 3rd floor, where you could see the full distance swimmers coming down the channel. I’m guessing we could see at least half a mile one direction and a full mile the other. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a race, and I wish I could’ve gotten a video of it. It was a beautiful day, a little less cold than I thought it would be, but it was definitely windy. The water was choppy, so I mentally prepared to get some extra salt during my swim, haha.

Soon, it was time to head to the start and get the party started. I was wandering around, saw more buddies, when one of them happened to mention, “Hey, I think the orange caps are already across the road”, which means I missed my wave being called. Oh, man, this was the Boston Marathon all over again, when I missed my wave being called and I was LATE TO MY START. Geez. Thanks J. Mott, you could have totally saved my race! I quickly ran across the street in my cold, bare feet, thankfully, as my wave was just entering the water to wait for the start. The water was pleasantly warm, which made the wait less shivery and I tucked about six ladies’ wetsuit zipper strap into their suits to prevent them from getting tangled in the racing arms and legs. It was time to go!

Erin and me

I looked into the day that laid before me, and I was confident in my abilities, I trusted my training, borrowed a little of that confidence from my coach, and knew I could push through and have a great race. What would happen that day? Would I leave happy? Would I cross that finish line in glory? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I was nervous, but nothing worth having is easy, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Before I knew it, it was time to start the swim. My plan was to not head directly down the channel, it was to head towards the middle to catch as much current as I could and veer left to cut any tangent I could without missing a buoy.

The weird thing about the swim course was that it was not like any of the courses we locals have swam in before. When we started swimming, we normally head down the channel and take a hard left. This time, we were steered at an angle towards the swim finish, which was unusual and unexpected. I was always told to “Know where you are” when open water swimming, and during the swim, sure, I knew where I was, but I really had no idea what was going on and why my landmarks were not where they were supposed to be. I followed the crowd, allowing them to determine where exactly to turn.  I felt good in the water. I didn’t stop, I didn’t get kicked in the face, I didn’t feel stressed or out of breath. When we did make our left turn, we were directly into a stiff wind, and the water was choppy.  I got my face full of wave a few times, got my extra salt, but at least I didn’t throw up. The swim finish approached quickly, and I was thinking that I was going to get my huge swim PR.

Swim: 36:51

Yay!!! Finished with the swim!!

I climbed out of the water on wood ladders, declined many offers of help, and walked myself up the dock towards the parking lot. I was so thrilled that I did not get pummeled by the fast young men whose waves started after mine. Seriously, I was stoked. I found the wetsuit strippers, let them do their job, and was happy to find the warm showers so I could at least try and wash some of the salt water off my face, arms, and neck. It felt so good!

T1 for this race is long, and it was expected, but what I really did not like is that we were required to go get T1 bags with our gear in them. I was not changing my clothes, so I had to run extra to at least get my bike stuff out of my bag and put my swim stuff back in. I heard volunteers yelling there was plenty of room in the tent, but I stayed outside the tent to transition. I heard the full participants complaining after the fact they shouldn’t have had to share the tents with the half, but where I was, there was plenty of room for all. I dropped my bag with a volunteer, ran to my bike, and knew I needed to hustle to get going. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. Every second counted.

I knew it was windy, but I thought I could tackle it. I started my bike carefully since there was a lot of traffic, but once over the metal deck of the Wrightsville Beach bridge, I started my true journey. We headed out of town with heavy car traffic. It boggles my mind that there are so many cars out there, since this race isn’t new and signs had been posted regarding heavy race traffic for at least two weeks. I heard the drivers were very verbally abusive towards the bikers, and one biker was even hit by a car, because the driver just had to get to the shopping center and turned in front of the biker. Ugh, people, when you see bikers, realize they are moms and dads and sons and daughters and uncles and aunts and teachers and friends. BE CAREFUL! You can snuff out a life with one impatient move.

I remember finding my groove as I headed towards the interstate portion of the course. I was trying to drink and I had my baby potatoes with Base salt somewhere in there. I felt good and strong, my wonky knee was behaving so far, although I knew the hardest part was ahead of me. Yes, as I turned onto the interstate, the wind took my breath away. I was surprised at how strong it was, but I was determined to push through and meet my goal.

That portion of the course got scary. I was trying to find a good “zone”, but with the strong wind blowing at an angle, it was extremely difficult. We were coned off in the left lane of a two lane highway, with cars and trucks barreling past on the right, faster bikers flying by on the left. I almost hit a cone a few times, so made sure I was always paying attention, which made my “zoning” impossible. When the wind wasn’t as strong, I was sure to push harder, and I really had no idea where I stood with my goal time. Just before we turned north (and into the direct head wind), we rode over a ginormous bridge. Cars and trucks were backed up to our right, and you’d have to be absolutely crazy to try and ride in aero. I got out of aero and held on to my handlebars like they were hundred dollar bills. It was not my favorite moment on the bike.

We took a short jog south (which is where the extra 6 miles came from), and then turned north. Oh, Lord, it was windy.

You can literally see the cold front that brought the wind in the night before the race. Or the wind brought it in. Regardless, it sucked. Or blew.

Let me tell you a story. I hate wind. The end.

I have hated wind since I was in high school, when I was riding RAGBRAI (a week-long bike ride in Iowa) I grew to hate it even more, and I’ve pretty much hated it since. You can explain the science behind wind, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And this is where the mind melt began. I have heard reports it was 15, 20, 23 mph steady with up to 30 mph gusts. I don’t know what it actually was, but everyone was having difficulty and it was not just “breezy”. For competition sake, we all had the same conditions, so it was fair. But I hate wind, so it really wasn’t fair.

When I saw the first aid station, I grabbed a bottle of water and chugged as much as I could, then threw it down at the “last chance trash” sign. I was trying to drink as much of my Base Hydro as I could, and I believed I was doing a good job. Probably ten miles into hell (the direct head wind), I wasn’t feeling the best. Besides having a mental breakdown during what was supposed to be my record-breaking race, I started feeling like I was dehydrated. For me, this is a bobble head sort of feeling, like I can’t really see 100% straight. I’ve had this during some training rides, and it’s not a great feeling. I should have stopped to re-fill my hydro. But I did not want to stop. I couldn’t re-fill on the fly since I was afraid of getting blown over. **I should have stopped and re-filled.**

In the meantime, my mind was filled with negative thoughts. This is what wind does to me. It sucked my confidence, my drive, and my determination away. I let the wind beat me. I should have been stronger in this moment.  I remember thinking, besides my goal is shot, that all those early barf-o-meter mornings were pointless because of this one moment, that I was absolutely crazy for having such an aggressive goal, that I need to do triathlons for fun and not time because it ruins the joy of it (this is the only thing that I still think is true), that I sucked, that this was stupid, it was just. So. Hard. Then it clicked in my brain and I laughed at the irony of it. For those who don’t know, I am a youth running coach, and in my business email signature line, there’s a little quote, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.” From that point on, I thought about the kids that I yell at, the ones I tell to push past the discomfort, and I remembered that I needed to be an example to them and to myself, that I was stronger than the damn wind, quit whining and bitching, and PEDAL. So I quit being a big baby, got a hydration game plan together, and pedaled.

When we reached the end of hell and were able to turn around and get a tail wind, I re-filled my hydration and drank as much as I could. I ate my snack, and I pushed myself. I’d been having some knee issues, so I was careful not to go overboard, but I was happy to be able to sustain over 20 mph with our tail wind. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for the tail wind. I was careful not to drink too much, as I didn’t want my stomach full of fluid for the run, but I knew I was playing a make-up game, which is hard to do in the running portion of a triathlon.

As we headed into town, I felt defeated. I let the wind beat me. I made a big nutrition mistake, one I should have already learned.  I knew I wasn’t going to get my big PR, but I just wanted to finish the race strong, and I didn’t want the run to blow up. As we came into T2, there was short steep hill where volunteers were signaling to slow down. No one wanted to slow down, but we did, and the dismount line came very fast. I think this is when I saw my parents, one son, and my sister. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes! We then walked our bikes to what was a single file rubber mat covering dirt and gravel, and we had a long walk to the bike hand off. Ugh, so much wasted time here! Then we were told to put our bikes on the left instead of right. I was not feeling great, so in the middle of trying to quickly switch (there were stacks of people behind me), I became dizzy and fell down. So embarrassing. I knew I held up the line, and quickly recovered and ran my bike, carefully, to the hand off line and into the grassy T2 area. I found my bag and ran into the tent, put my stuff down, and started to cry. I. Was. So. Pissed.

This was going out on the bike (hence the smile) since I don’t have one coming back in

Bike: 3:12:07

My friend, Beth, was working in the tent, said hi, encouraged me (she is awesome), and I quickly changed, sucked it up, and headed out to run 13.1 miles. T2 was LONG and annoying. I know somewhere along the way, whether it was T2 or just into the run, I saw my dad and son on the side. I stopped and gave them both a hug, when across the lane runs my mom for her hug. I tear up at this moment because I do not know if they truly understand how important it was for me to see them at this particular point in the race. And I love the fact that my mom probably would have bulldozed other runners to get her hug. Haha, go mom. The hugs were just what I needed.

It was a pretty big deal my parents got to see one of my races. Pretty big deal.


I knew I needed to start slow but be steady on my run. The course was really weird the first mile – we twisted and turned, went behind buildings, and I didn’t particularly like it. But once we came out of that, we ran through the bars, shops, and restaurants of Front Street, which is one of my favorite places to be in downtown Wilmington. There were a lot of people out cheering us on, but that was short lived as we headed towards Greenfield Lake. I saw TONS of my fellow Without Limits teammates, friends I knew from other training, and I thought it was just beautiful out. Funny thing is, I was hot. There was no wind, barely even a breeze, so I was laughing to myself over the irony of it – I needed that wind to cool me down.

I took a Gu (or whatever they had on the course), kept my Base salt handy, and drank Gatorade at almost every aid station, which were spread out to be about every mile. I enjoyed my run, and as the miles ticked by, I didn’t even look at what my pace was. I was feeling better, something I wasn’t expecting, so I was hoping to at least finish my half marathon fast. I wanted my parents to see me finish strong, so I concentrated on recovery more than I did anything else.

About a mile before the course turnaround, I realized my Base salt tube was empty – wow. Luckily, there was plenty to grab at the Base Performance tent. Lucky me.  I was making sure to take salt, keep hydrated, and eat. I was walking a little here and there at aid stations, but I did my best to run faster every mile. Again, the course was beautiful, and I really loved being able to see and cheer on so many people that I knew.

The miles ticked down, and I came into downtown Wilmington again. There were some crowds, but not as many people as I had expected. I pushed hard through the last mile, saw my family as I came down the finish chute, and gave high fives to as many people who stuck their hands out for me. I was done. I finished.

Coming into the finish chute

Run: 1:58:58

Let’s break it down here.

Swim: 36:51

Bike: 3:12:07

Run: 1:58:58

T1/T2: LONG

Total time: 6:03:34 (I missed a PR by a mere 26 seconds)

76/435 women

18/89 age group

361/1060 overall

As disappointed in my race as I was, to finish strong with my family watching, and to finish well compared to others racing that day, I really can’t complain about anything. I trained hard, I raced hard, I made some mistakes, but I finished with a smile and a lesson, and there’s really nothing better than that.

See that guy with the mic? That is THE Mike Reilly. :):):)

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, follow your dreams, fueled by base, half iron distance, ironman, open water swimming, race with base, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

My Heel Has A (Broken) Heartbeat

Lucky for me, spring break was the week following the marathon. I can honestly say that I’ve never had such a good week “off” than I did this particular week. My recovery went so fast, and I woke up the day after running a hard 26.2 miles with barely any soreness at all. I give a lot of credit to my Base Amino supplement I’ve been taking (I’m going to write a post devoted to Base and how it helped me – please stay tuned), so I took my kids clothes shopping. We were walking around Kohls buying all we could with our 30% off coupon, and the bottom of my right foot started hurting, especially where the arch meets the heel. Yeah, I sense many of you nodding your head, and you know where I’m going with this. We weren’t done shopping, so I continued to walk, and it continued to get worse. What the heck?

By the time we got home, I could barely walk and my foot was throbbing. How could I give myself an injury from one race? And wow, great timing! Thank goodness, really.

I was very careful the rest of the week. I had zero desire to run, which was new, and I felt really good. I had fun with my kids going to the beach, hanging out, sleeping in, getting ice cream, and eating all the food, and I didn’t even go for a walk, just to help the inflammation in my foot.

The following week, on Tuesday, I decided it was time to for a run. It had been over a week, everything felt great, and I had no intentions of running hard, so I figured there would be no harm in that. It was a gorgeous morning full of singing birds, a nice cool breeze, and plenty of sun – perfect.

running homer

Three miles into my easy five mile run, when I was two miles away from the house, the bottom of my foot started REALLY hurting again. Instead of walking home, I continued to run, eventually moving to the yards bordering the road, just to take the pressure off my injured foot.

It acts like plantar and feels like plantar, so it must be plantar. But I still couldn’t understand how this could be. I had NO signs before the race (THANK YOU DEAR JESUS), so I just couldn’t get how something like this can pop up out of virtually nowhere. I iced my foot and looked up some information on it. The pain didn’t subside that day, and that night, my heel had a heartbeat. It. Was. Throbbing.

finger

Oh man, I’ve done it now. I freaking BQ’d my way to plantar. I talked to my coach about how to handle this, since I know plantar is BAD, finicky, and is resistant to treatment. I’m off running. No running for me! Just like the soup Nazi from Seinfeld. I felt like I had to be very proactive about treatment for this and be especially careful NOT to do something stupid, like run. So I can’t run.

soup

Except soup is running. Sigh.

Fortunately, I’m in an off-season time, resting up and doing pretty much whatever I want whenever I want to (within reason of course), so I’ve velcro’d on my biking shoes and slapped on my swim cap to get back to tri training. I was going to take it easy and swim, bike and run until the beginning of June, where I will officially begin IMNC 70.3 training, this time for reals. Well, not to be disrespectful to the distance and my prior race, but this time, I have a time goal.

As for my “broken” heart, besides not being able to run for fun during my favorite time of year to run, this week turned pretty rotten. When I was at the bus stop with my son, a little brown dog came trotting by, looking scared and trailing a leash. That was weird, so I grabbed him, thinking his owner would come running by to get him. After looking for a person looking for a dog, posting a few signs, I took him to the vet to get checked for a microchip. Nope, but we did find that he had kennel cough. Yay. I couldn’t have him around my dog, since she wasn’t vaccinated. If she got it, it could lead into some pretty nasty lung stuff, and with all the vet bills we’ve had and two pets with issues that needed to be addressed the next day, I didn’t want to pay for a vet check and medicine for this dog, then risk my dog’s health. Plus, I didn’t have a place to keep him in my house. I did not have a square to spare. Sorry, another Seinfeld reference.

I made the choice to have animal control come get him. Thankfully, they have a very high adoption rate, especially for sweet little dogs. Ugh, my heart hurt for him and I feel tremendously guilty, but I’m planning to check on him after the five days is up to see if someone claimed him.

The next day, I took my dog and cat to the vet – my dog had been itching her ear for a long time, no medicine was helping, so I had her checked. They cleaned her ear out and she was fine. My overweight cat had been losing weight the past few months and had gotten to the point where I knew something was going on. I thought it was due to a change in food, since we had to put them on special food for my other cat, who had “Kaitlyn Jenner” surgery to prevent him from getting blocked anymore. That was a few thousand dollars, and when a say “a few”, I mean a lot. Honestly, I had put off taking this other cat to the vet because of the other bills and we had a lot going on the past month. He was playing, friendly as always, and we didn’t  notice anything was off except for his weight, which he needed to lose anyway. His worst nightmare is going in a kennel, and it stresses him out so much, he pees himself every time. Poor kitty.

When the vet started examining my cat named Squiffy, he asked if kitty had ever been diagnosed with asthma. Nope, never. By the time, my cat’s stress level was extremely high and he was panting. You know when you hear “the tone” in the vet’s voice and they basically whisk your animal away? Yeah, this was a first time to me. The doc told me, if I can explain it right, is that he was in a crisis and not getting enough oxygen, brought on by his condition plus the extreme situation and his very high level of anxiety. I didn’t know. I simply didn’t pick up on it. I had no idea my cat couldn’t breathe. This was the kitten we bottle fed, gave meds to keep alive, the one my son picked out of the hundred we fostered during this time seven years ago. My son carried this cat everywhere, and this cat claimed my son as his boy. He slept on his bed every night, and when I would peek in, Squiffy would look at me as if to say, “I got it, you may leave.”. Squiffy had not a mean bone in his body, has never been aggressive, and was always the most playful, sweetest thing ever. We moved over a thousand miles, twice, and we would never have left him behind (although I did want to throw him onto the interstate when he wouldn’t stop meowing – HOURS of meowing – as we moved from Iowa to Texas). He was a part of our family. When I left the vet office, I was confident I would come and pick him back up on Monday, although I cried my eyes out on my way home and for an hour after I got home. I didn’t know he was silently suffering. I just. Didn’t. Know.

Squiffy died yesterday. After he stabilized, he crashed, and the vet couldn’t save him. I know he did whatever he could to save him, but Squiffy was just too sick and couldn’t take it anymore.

I can honestly say that I’ve never felt this kind of pain of loss before. I’ve had to put cats down before, I’ve lost my old dog, but I guess it was different because it was expected or they were old or something. This was a sucker punch to the gut. I wasn’t expecting this. I had no idea he was so sick and was basically suffocating. It’s almost a day later, and my heart is broken and I feel like I’m wearing a veil of sadness. My kids basically fell apart when I told them what happened, and I carry a lot of guilt over putting off the vet visit. It may not have changed anything, but I’ll never know now. My sweet kitty, my son’s protector, is gone.

How do you mourn a pet?  I mean, it’s just  a cat, right? Ha yeah, whoever says that never loved a pet before. He was part of our family, part of our daily life, and his presence will be missed, tremendously. When I make my peanut butter sandwiches before long bike rides or early morning track practice, who will I get to cackle at the knife making reflections on the ceiling? Who will drag my son’s toys into the hallway when the kids leave for school?  Who’s purrs will I hear as I talk to my son before bed? Why did it have to be him? Oh, Tiffy, Squiffy, Big Guy, Filsome, Miff, we love you and miss you.

My heel has a heartbeat and my heart is broken. But we will continue to love our remaining animals just as deeply, just as much. If I do know one thing though, is that I will never, EVER, put off a vet visit again.

 

 

Categories: marathon, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | 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

From 0 to 120 in Seven Days

I wonder what it’s like to go 120 in a car. I’ll never find out, but I’m curious if your face flies back like when people skydive. I would think so.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry. And windy.

I’m 30.5 weeks ahead of Ironman Florida.  It doesn’t seem like that much time when you think about all the training the race will require, but then again, it’s over half a year. I’m sure it’ll be here before I know it, so it’s time to get to work!

Last week, I started riding my bike and swimming. I rode 30 miles on the trainer once, then twice, I rode 20 easy miles. No intensity was necessary, as I felt I needed to avoid ramping up miles and intensity at the same time. Saturday, I decided that I needed to get up to 50 miles. I planned to meet up with my friend, Gary, so we took off early on the route we rode tons of times last year. Part of it is a 4-lane highway at 60 mph (for the cars, not me because if it was me, hello Kona!), but it’s a good route with a 30 mile loop. There’s a convenience store that’s conveniently located for pit stops as well. I felt the 30 miles was done at a pretty good pace, especially since it was the first road ride in a LONG time. My device didn’t work right, but Gary’s Garmin said we were going between 17-18 mph. I felt like we were going slightly north of that, but who am I to argue with a Garmin?

I mentioned last week that my tri bike didn’t feel that different from my old road bike. Well, once I got on the road, I could definitely feel a difference.  It was good, and when we were done with the 30 (Gary’s first 30 in a long time), I decided to go home and ride another 20 miles on my trainer to avoid the A-holes who think they don’t have enough space in an entire highway to move their vehicles-of-death more than two inches away from my arm. A-holes. I felt like I was going to be endangering my life on the road enough this season, and I did not feel like getting killed, as I was NOT Jesus and would NOT be rising from the dead.

The 20 miles on the trainer was not what I expected. I was tired. My legs were tired, and it was hot and sweaty inside. I decided to leave the TV off and listen to music instead. It was sort of nice to have my own personal DJ (thank you, dear husband) and when I needed a new song, I just said, “NO” and he changed the song. I’m definitely going to look into this Sufferfest I hear rumors about. A lot of my harder workouts are going to be inside and probably by myself, so it’s time to turn off “Oprah’s Where Are They Now”, and get into it for real.  I wanted to give up my bike ride and wondered why 50 miles seemed so challenging. Well, one week before, I hadn’t ridden, and within seven days, I’d gotten in 120 miles. THAT is probably why. It makes more sense when you add it up.

Post-bike run. It was pretty awesome.

Post-bike run in the sprinkles. It was pretty awesome.

I stopped pedaling as SOON as that thing whispered “20” to give me a total of 50, and I quickly laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone and gum, and went out the door for more torture a two mile run.  It felt super slow, and when Helga from “Map My Run” spoke at the 1 mile mark, I was happy to realize that I was going at an 8:30 pace. Ahhh, the glory of post-bike running. I got in another mile at the same pace and was. just. done. Wow, from zero to 120 in seven days. Glorious. I’m guessing I’m going to feel accomplished for the next several months as I continuously cross the line of what is comfortable and redefine uncomfortable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

On Sunday, I slept in. It was awesome. I felt good and it was an absolutely gorgeous Easter Sunday. My husband had gone to run 12 miles with his group, so I talked with the kids, told them to wait on the Easter egg hunt, and went out for a good 5 mile run. At the first mile, the one that seemed like the longest mile ever, I wondered if that was how I was going to feel every Monday, since my long brick workouts will be on Sundays. But after the first mile, I got into the groove, remembered what it was like to be injured, was very thankful to be exactly where I was in life, and the rest of the run felt better and better. It was Easter, a time of new beginnings, and this was my new beginning. I ended up at an 8:28 pace overall, and I came in with a smile and spent the rest of the day with my family. My husband, on the other hand and a possible rock star in the making (ok, he IS a rock star), ended up running 13.1 miles at his goal race pace. That isn’t what he was supposed to do, but he was really happy, and I am now 100% sure he’s going to blow away his old half marathon time in just a few more weeks.

My tri training is really in it’s infancy, and it’s only going to get bigger and badder, so I’m channeling my inner beast whenever I can, but especially when I have a workout in my head.  My plan is to push past it, even if just for one minute, yard, or mile. I headed to the pool on Monday and planned to do 8×100’s with a rest. I’ve just started back swimming and it’s my most difficult sport, so I’m giving myself some time to adjust to it. When I had one more 100 left, I channeled the Beast and decided to do a 200 after I was done with my 100’s. I knocked out the 200, and decided to finish with a 100. So my workout ended up being 1100 instead of the planned 800, and I was pretty happy when I left the pool. I could have stayed and done more, but I plan to swim thrice this week, so I didn’t want to end up regretting that decision. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to deal with my chlorine allergy until open water season starts, but hopefully Loratadine will help.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain't it? Not.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain’t it? Not.

This morning, I woke up feeling like crap because we decided to stay up and watch the basketball game. WHY DO THEY START GAMES AT BEDTIME?????  I don’t know what time it was when we fell asleep, but it was too late and after too much beer and a mini Totino’s pizza. That was dumb, but at least our dinner earlier in the evening was healthy and delish.

Springtime Orzo - Um, YES.

Springtime Orzo – Um, YES.

I wasn’t too thrilled with doing speed work, but again, I know that in order to race fast, you have to train fast, so my plan was to do 4×400’s at as fast as I could get down to, or 6:05. I hadn’t done really anything faster than 6:50, but closer to 7:00 minute miles in a LONG time, so I honestly didn’t know if I could get these done. I made the mistake of not going to the track, so it was hard to see what my paces were and then I had to check on the distance relatively often. Next time, to the track I go. My Garmin was fussy since it was cloudy. For instance, it had me going at a 5:24 pace during my warm up. Yeah, NOT. So to the best of my estimation, I got my 400’s in, not four of them, but SIX 400’s at about a 6:15-6:20 pace. I thought my hands were going to fall off when I was done and I do not understand how people can run marathons at that pace and faster. Seriously. And how do they keep their hands from falling off?

I came home after 6.3 total miles in an average pace of 8:06. A good day’s work. I then burst into tears. I was sad. It was the song’s fault, but I was just sad. I’ll tell you why in my next post but it’s running related. It comes and goes, but today it was here for a short visit.

It’s not all bad, and I’m not sitting here crying while typing. It’s just one of THOSE days.

crying

Not me.

It’s cloudy, I’m tired, and my cat is at the vet. He’s fine, but it’s weird without him here. I can go pick him up this evening and pay my bill that is probably the equivalent of my mortgage payment, but at least we’ll have him back.

With the training for this Ironman, my focus has shifted. My perception has shifted. I was annoyed a lot of the time when training for the half iron last fall. Maybe it’s because I just wanted to run and was spending all my running time on the bike or in the water? But this time, I’m getting my workouts in and my mileage built up for when I start with my coach in June. I’m also allowing myself to run when I want to run. If I want to add running, then I’m going to. I’m planning a post-IM marathon, so I will have to really work on running along with the swimming and biking, more than I would normally. This Ironman can’t be a fluke. I have to be prepared, mentally, physically, and yes, emotionally. It’s going to take a lot of Beast to get it done, so I might as well be a Beast now. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do more than the minimum. Push yourself. Give more and you just may surprise yourself by what you find on the other side of the effort. From 0 to 120 in seven days.

Now where’s the food because I’m going to eat all of it.

Do you mentally prepare for big races? Do you for training? Do your hands feel like they’re going to fall off when you run fast?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, anything is possible, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

2015 – IM Ready

I find it interesting the way things come to be. One simple conversation or one decision can lead you to something that you never thought possible. Maybe not impossible exactly, but just not considered.

I learned a lot in 2014. The two main kernels of knowledge came at the beginning and the end of the year. I learned how to train. I trained my ass off for Boston. I ran when I was tired, I ran when I was exhausted, I ran when everyone else was sleeping in, I ran when my muscles ached, I swam to cross train, and I didn’t give up. I didn’t miss anything.  I knew that PR’s and successful races don’t train for themselves, so I got up before 5, I ran in the snow, the ice, and honestly, I loved it. I learned how to put everything into my race.  It became even more of a part of me, deeper into my soul. It made me happy to work so hard, to focus on a goal, and to push myself.

I also learned that being afraid of things is stupid. Ok, there’s things like sharks and the flu and spiders in the toe of your shoe and things like that, but I was terrified of the open water swim in my half iron triathlon. I knew we wouldn’t have a tide push, or much of one, and I was scared I wouldn’t make the time cutoff and be disqualified – I am not a strong swimmer. I FREAKED out about it more than once, and I honestly considered not doing the tri for that one reason. And when race day came, I finished in good time, with plenty to spare, and I pulled off a really good race, especially with it being my very first tri. I ate a little crow, got a little sheepish, and realized that all that worrying was stupid. And a waste of energy. There’s no room for fear when you have a a dream.

So what does this mean for 2015?

March 22, 2015!!!

March 22, 2015!!!

MARATHON: I’m still planning to run my marathon on March 22nd right here in good ole Wilmington – the goal is a 3:43, which would be a PR and a BQ. My training has increased, and I’m hopeful for a good race. I’m behind with speed work, but at this point, I’m doing the best I can that doesn’t irritate my irritable leg. It’s like the grumpy old grandpa sitting in the corner of the room with a ratty old plaid blanket over his legs, muttering “bah” every time someone asks if he wants something but then complains that no one will get him anything and he’s cold.  I can’t figure this one out, so I’m being cautious, but I’m also continuing with training. I’m still very much in love with running, and every time I visualize the race, I get goose bumps.

March 7-8, 2015 - SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

March 7-8, 2015 – SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

COACHING: I have decided to pursue more coaching education (I would like ALL of it, but let’s be realistic – one class at a time). I happened to find an open (that’s hard to do) RRCA Coaching Certification Class ONLY 90 MINUTES AWAY (also hard to do), so I signed up within ten minutes of finding it. I almost peed myself.

I’m also beyond happy that my ideas to work on the middle school Stride program curriculum were accepted. My goal is to make it more of a pre-high school cross country meets track and field program since there is no track program for any middle school in our county. I have tons of ideas, resources to read and talk to, and a plan to write. I am really excited to see this come together this spring for the fall season.  I’ll be coaching the elementary Stride this spring, so that will be working with twenty 3rd-5th graders. This will be like herding cats on a treadmill, or at least that’s what I’m guessing, but I know it will be a lot of fun!

THE BIGGUN:

The two elements that I mentioned earlier are put together on this one. I learned how to train right and to train hard. I learned how to do new things, things that I’m afraid of (or not comfortable with), and that I must take chances. I love to challenge myself physically, but more than that, mentally. I love the mental part of running, of training, of pushing yourself and doing new things. So by chance one Sunday afternoon in November, I found registration still open for Ironman Florida, and I registered.

No room for fear on this one.

No room for fear on this one.

There’s no going back, there’s no excuse that will get me out of it, and honestly, more than fear, I have a sense of determination, of eagerness, of peace. Whether I cross that finish line to the tune of “Kelli, YOU are an Ironman” or not, I’m going to face my fears and give this thing my all. Why this event? I’m such a newby, why would I take on something so BIG? Well, it’s simple to me, yet quite complex to explain. I’ll steal from the video below and say “Ironman is about persevering, enduring, and being a part of something larger than ourselves…. Anything is possible.”

November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered why people do Ironman races, watch this video – for reals.  This will explain it all. For example, when I told my parents that I signed up, instead of getting, “Wow! Way to go! Good for you!”, I got a head shake with “That’s nuts” and “Why would you want to put your body through that?”. To me, it’s simple. To them, I need to be put in a straight jacket and thrown into a padded room. I had my mom watch this, and I honestly think she gets it, or at least gets it more than she did before. And this video motivates me to try my absolute best, to be the epitome of what an Ironman really is. Or more accurately, an athlete.

2015, IM ready!

Categories: anything is possible, coaching, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, no fear, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, rrca coaching certification, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2014: Looking Back Before Looking To 2015

2014 was pretty epic. I accomplished and experienced things that I never thought I would or could. I also failed. More than once. I surprised myself with both the successes and the failures. I had a LOT of fun. I met a LOT of people.  Since this is the time of year that we make our goals for the upcoming year, I felt it was important to FIRST look at what the past year held and remember what I learned from those experiences.

EPIC:

Um, heller….did anyone say, “BOSTON MARATHON”??? The mostest epic-est, awesomer-than-anything and favorite part of my year and running life altogether was being a part of the athlete field in the 2014 Boston Marathon. It took me many years to get there, and to realize that dream was the ultimate epic experience. This got the diamond crown.

I got the medal.

I got the medal.

EPIC BUT NOT AS EPIC AS BOSTON BECAUSE BOSTON IS PRETTY DAMN EPIC ON ITS OWN:

I was able to PR in both the 5k in January (21:13) and the half marathon in February (1:40:15) as a part of marathon training. I was pretty damn happy about those times, too.

I learned how to train my ass off.  During Boston training, I never missed a workout. Ok, I never missed a running workout. Zero. I missed one swimming workout the entire training cycle. ONE. I learned how to be devoted. I learned to not make excuses. I learned that in order to become the runner you want and know you can be, you have to work and work hard. I learned how to go the extra mile. I did that, and I’m really proud of the work I did. I know I was capable of running an amazing race in April, which is almost as good as actually running that amazing race.

Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 – 6:03      I learned about being a triathlete. I looked fear in the face, cuddled with it for a while, let it whisper sweet nothings into my ear, then kicked it’s ass out. I learned how to swim better than I did before, I learned how to open water swim, I learned how to ride my bike in between swimming and running, and I learned how to run after swimming and biking. It was epic. And I’m going to do it again.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3. It looks like my knees are stuck together.

I had fun.  Running is really awesome. But it can become competitive for me, and the ability to “just run” a race diminished. So that’s why I decided to do an endurance triathlon. Well, I had one on my radar for a number of years, but I needed to do something different and NOT be competitive. It worked, and I had a total blast training for and competing in the 70.3.

Mott’s Channel Swim – I entered and completed an open water swim race. Pretty proud of that, mostly because I would have laughed until I peed myself had you told me two years ago I would do something like that.

After the Mott's Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

After the Mott’s Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

The 10×10 Challenge. Ten continuous miles for ten days in a row.  I learned that it’s definitely doable to complete this challenge in July, but not advisable. I can’t wait to do this challenge again. It was an epic feeling and quite the journey in itself. Try it, you just might learn something about yourself.

Post-Challenge

Post-Challenge

Coaching. I found that I really love coaching. I’m learning a lot about it, and I know that I want to keep doing it. Being at the 5k with those boys made me feel like a momma hen watching her chicks fly for the first time. It’s a really cool mix of pride, excitement, and nerves.

Here’s the video I made for my Stride boys.

FAILURES:

I hate to admit this, but there’s usually something good that comes from failure. I think we all know this, especially as athletes. I’ve had a lot of good things come from the hard work and dedication that I’ve put into my running and triathlon training and races. I’ve also had some pretty big fails. But with a little distance, I can see how the failures have done me good. Dammit.

I’ll start with the little one. I got a pretty big PR (4 minutes) in my half marathon in February. So you’d think it’s all good, right? No, I was pissed. I got a 1:40:15, but I could never see the success in THAT because I was too busy being pissed that I was only 15 seconds from getting a sub-1:40.  I wished I had pushed just a second or two faster, that I had put my head down and gunned it into the harsh wind that met us a mile or two from the finish that totally wiped me out. I wish this and I wish that. What I REALLY wish is that I could’ve forgotten about all that garbage and celebrated the huge success that I DID have. I ran a really good race, and I’m now really happy about it. But my finishing moment was ruined by me wishing I had something better. When you start getting that attitude, that nothing is good enough, it’s time to think about things. And that is what led me to decide for sure to do the triathlon. I KNEW that I wouldn’t be competitive with it. I KNEW I would have fun, that I COULD NOT get all ants-in-my-pants about times and stuff. I knew I needed to step out of the bubble, the one that says you’re never good or fast enough. That was stupid, and that race taught me to not be stupid.

So the next one… it was the epitome of good and bad. The Boston Marathon. Yes, I’ve talked a lot about this, but I think, after this, I’m done talking about part of it. I’ll wipe the bad part out of my memory like wiping the marker board clean.

Running Boston was so awesome, so overwhelming, but I had a big fail. I trained and trained and spent hundreds of dollars on a coach and getting there and all the hubbub that comes with seeing your dream marathon come to fruition. My parents came to see me, my sister and her husband came to see me, my husband and my two kids came to see me. I was ready for the race of my life. Oh, I got the race of my life all right. The race recap I wrote that day describes the race perfectly – It was the Best of Times, It was the Worse of Times. You can read it HERE. It really was the strangest combination of good and bad. The bad was something I didn’t see coming. I thought that it was possible for me to run out of strength because I pushed the race. I was worried about how warm it was too, but when racing, I never felt hot. I wasn’t sweaty. I went for my goal, and I was doing it. I was heading for a sub 3:40 and I only had a 10k to go. Part of my race mantra was “I can do anything for X amount of time”. I was counting down. I was doing it. In freakin’ Boston. That was the best of times.

I can’t remember the exact feelings, but around mile 20-21, I knew something was wrong. I knew I had to stop, regroup, and slow down. I knew my PR was shot, but I was having fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Then the bobble head feeling started. And the nausea. It all went downhill from there. I barely remember the last part of the race. I knew I had to stop several times so I wouldn’t throw up. And I didn’t truly understand what happened until I became the internet doctor later that night.

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Can you see the sarcasm on my face?

Where’s the lesson in this? How can my slowest marathon of seven teach me something? First of all, I’ve never tried harder to finish a race. I could NOT DNF. No. Hell no. So I put on my big girl tights and pulled out every bit of anything I had to finish that race. And it took me almost 5 hours to do it, 75 minutes extra minutes in just the last 5 miles. I had to put one foot in front of the other carefully and consciously. To sum it all up, I had salt depletion dehydration. How did I turn that frown upside down? I acquainted myself with Endurolytes. I thought that taking in salt was just an endurance triathlon thing. Honestly. But I talked to a lot of people, tried them myself, and learned that Endurolytes are pretty damn awesome. I used them throughout the summer, especially during the 10×10 Challenge. I used them during my triathlon. I used them with long runs. And if I learned one thing from the Boston Marathon, it was what salt depletion was and how serious it can be. Oh, and how to help prevent it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to learn so many lessons, especially the hard way.

WRAPPING IT UP

You can always learn something when you look back at your experiences. Whether you learn them right then or have some “delayed learning” like I did, chances are, some piece of information can be available to you at almost any given moment. It’s just up to you to grab it.  Where does this leave me as I look back over 2014?

I’m very proud of the work I did. I’m proud of the chances I took. I’m proud of the fact that I let myself learn things along the way. Sure, I have a tiny baby scar from feeling so horrible during one of the best races of my life, but I’ll go back. I’ll do it again, and I’ll get my moment of glory. Some day. I’ll be patient. I know I have things to work on too. Facing fears and not letting them take over. NOT taking the easy road (swimming only on calm days). Balancing life and athletics.

As I took towards 2015, I know that I’ve got a beast mode full of grit and determination that I have not fully used before. I also have a lot more patience than I used to. What EXACTLY does that mean for me in 2015? You’ll just have to wait and see! Plans post to be coming soon. 😉

Do you look back before you look forward?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, learning from failure, marathon, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running challenge, running streak, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Taking A Look Back Before I Go Forward

A year ago, I couldn’t imagine sitting at my kitchen table, writing my first half iron race report. Sometimes, when things are that far away and you don’t have the skills or equipment to do something, it seems impossible. But it was always my goal, to finish the B2B 70.3 with a smile on my face.

Off the subject, but speaking of smiles, I got my race pictures back this weekend. Oy. Can you say GOOBER?

Ok, back to it. I remember last year, when I ran the half marathon for the B2B relay, and I knew I wanted to do the 70.3. I knew I wasn’t interested in doing sprint triathlons, but endurance events. I didn’t want to make a “thing” of it and do them all the time, and I still don’t, but I knew I wanted to give it a try. If it all went well, I was planning to do a full iron distance, and I still am. But as I did do the race report, I thought back to events over the year that led me to a pretty good finish for my race.

I made my goal and I focused on it. I started swimming as marathon cross-training. I figured out what bike I could piece together, got it adjusted, greased up, and started riding it. My time at the pool was long and tedious. I swallowed a lot of old-lady aerobics water. I became friends with Endurolytes the hard way at the Boston Marathon. I ran the BOSTON MARATHON. I learned how to change a tire on my bike. I drew a cat on my PT bruise. I got a half marathon PR. I figured out how to unclip my shoes so I wouldn’t fall over at a stop light. I learned how to hydrate with EFS. I ate while riding my bike. I got a trainer so I could do bike workouts inside. I cried. I deferred a marathon. I ran. I ran more. I got a wetsuit. I swam in open water to practice. I got a swimming lesson. I met a lot of people along the way. I worked pretty hard along the way. I did the 10×10 challenge. I laughed a lot. I sweated a lot. I swore a lot. I ate a lot. But I had fun. It was an adventure. It was something new and an experience I was enjoying, beyond my expectations.

Here’s two pictures. The top one is of me running the B2B relay last year.  The bottom one is of me running B2B this year. I’ve come a long way. But I’ve got a long way yet to travel on this journey of mine!

Running the relay October 2013

Running the relay October 2013

Doing the full 70.3

Doing the full 70.3

During the year between those two pictures, I ran 1,339 miles. I biked 1,025 miles. I swam 55 miles. That’s freakin’ 2,419 miles!!! Not every mile was good (i.e. the last 6 of the Boston Marathon and most of them in August). But they all add up and provide a block in the foundation of meeting a goal.

If I could go back and tell my 2013 self something, it would be to just give it a go. Don’t be afraid. Read the tattoo on your foot, for crying out loud! Just do your work, trust your training, and have fun. Maybe that’s a little unrealistic, to have no fear? Well, ok, we all have some fear.  The key is to face it and don’t let it stop you from following your heart and going for your goals. Never stop dreaming. Never stop GOING AFTER your dreams. Chase ’em down with a baseball bat if you have to! Just go get ’em!

I can tell my current day self the same thing, as I gear up to train for the Houston Marathon that’s only 11 weeks away. I need to focus on my goal and stop overthinking everything, stop worrying so much about things I cannot control.  (It’s best to email coach when not high on caffeine too considering I have ALL THE FEELINGS.) My husband is rolling his eyes at this right now. You are, aren’t you, Andy??? Yeah, I can dream big, right? I know I’ll worry, I know there’ll be hard days, but I won’t give up. Hmmm, I wonder where I will travel in the next 12 months. How many miles will I run, bike and swim? Chances are, it’s going to be a lot, but most of all, I’m looking forward to the journey.

 

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

 

 

Categories: 10x10 challenge, beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, running challenge, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I Want To Run All The Miles and Do All The Races

I don’t get taper madness. I actually enjoy that time of feeling like crap and having less workouts to do. But it catches up with me. Yeah, it’s post-race euphoria time again.  I felt great on Sunday and Monday. I felt back to normal on Tuesday. Physically anyway. Mentally, I was so focused before the race, I didn’t know what else was going on. And this week? My brain pretty much unraveled and turned to mush, so I was still slightly below normal function level. Activity picked up yesterday, and all circuits crossed. I was waiting for it. I figured it would happen. And it did.

THE FEELING hit on Thursday. I woke up feeling stir crazy. I didn’t want to clean. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to do anything but run. I am supposed to be off everything until Monday, then slowly get back to it, taking it easy on my shins.  I’ve got a marathon in January for crying out loud. I’ve been watching the pre-IM Florida videos, I’ve been considering what I want to do, and the only conclusion I came to is that I have to do all if it right now. Haha, really, that’s how I felt. B2B again, Boston, Houston, Chicago, Wrightsville Beach, IM Florida, IM Texas, IM Louisville. ALL OF THEM.  I kept bothering my husband at work, all concerned with if I should invest in a better, long-term bike and do B2B full or should I do a sanctioned Ironman (I don’t feel like we can afford both since they’re REALLY expensive and slightly selfish) and use my current bike?  Because I have to decide RIGHT NOW. I thought about trying to get into IM Florida when it opens on Sunday and figured if I got in, it was meant to be. I thought about a lot of things. A lot.

My plan was to go exchange my B2B shirt, then go to the pool. As normal, I got the “I dislike swimming” feeling, so I didn’t go to the pool. I was pacing. My mind wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t stay out of the potato chips. I was seeing myself running, doing speed work, going long. I really wanted to go run a marathon. Like, RIGHT THEN. So I had to do what I had to do. I went for a run. I knew I was playing with fire, so I put on a fireproof suit. I took my Garmin, and I kept my pace over a 10 minute mile. I had no pain. I. Felt. Glorious.  3.5 miles later, I was back home, and all was right in the world. I could breathe again.

I worked out some pent up anxiety, I thought about my “what race should I do” dilemma, and came to one main conclusion. DON’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW. No, don’t make any decisions. Don’t think so much. Take your time. Whatever you do, don’t try to get into IM Florida, that’s for sure.  See what a little run can do for me (and my credit cards)?

So where am I at now? I’m at my kitchen table, waiting for my oldest son to get home, wishing I could just go for another run. I had a coffee date with my sister as soon as both kids were on their way to school, and I went to my 3rd grader’s Halloween party at school, so I was occupied this morning. It’s been all I’ve thought about most of the morning though.  I know I need to be careful. I need to make sure my legs and body is fully recovered from the 70.3 before I start galloping all over Wilmington again. I mean, 70.3 miles is a long way for a body to travel, so sheesh, a few days off isn’t going to hurt anyone. It FEELS like someone is stabbing me by not doing much this week, but I know it’s the right thing. I hope to get in another very slow run again this weekend, and if I can, great. If I can’t, I know I have a full schedule that starts on Monday.

For the meantime, I’ll enjoy the afternoon my kids have off school, I’ll eat too much Halloween candy, I’ll enjoy the first weekend morning my entire family can spend together in months, I will take a drink every time Else comes to the door, and I will know that the time to make decisions will come. It just won’t be today.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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