Posts Tagged With: swimming

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

Ironman Florida – The Race

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

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

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

Look at all those people swimming.

Look at all those people swimming.

There goes the wetsuits!

There goes the wetsuits!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming in from the swim.

Coming in from the swim.

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

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

 SWIM: 1:36:16

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

T1: 9:32

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIKE: 6:18:35

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

T2: 7:00

Heading out to run a marathon.

Heading out to run a marathon.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run: 4:58:07

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

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

Ironman Florida 2015: 13:09:30

Anything is possible.

 

 

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

Ironman Florida 2015 – Pre-Race

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

All decked out.

All decked out.

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

All registered and checked in!

All registered and checked in!

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

Doug, me and Phillip

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

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

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

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

Walking all my stuff to IM Village

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

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

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

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

Playing on the beach at sunset. Perfection.

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

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

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

Ready to go on race morning.

Ready to go on race morning.

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

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

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

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

It was time. My Ironman was about to begin.

 

 

 

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

The In Between Spaces

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

It's about time.

It’s about time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay.

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

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

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

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

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

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

Pre-ocean sunrise swim.

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

 

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

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

And my final one I’m adding, is this:

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

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

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

 

 

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

On Swimming, Biking, and Running

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

Sami finishing IM France

Sami finishing IM France

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

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

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

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

Half iron training.

Half iron training. Do you like my flamingos?

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

Then there’s Ironman.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

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

On swimming, biking, and running.

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

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

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

Me. Totally me.

Me. Totally me.

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

BIKING.

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

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

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

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

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

Running.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

New Limits in an Epic Year

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

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

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

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

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

EPIC Logo FINAL 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sweat

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

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

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

My favorite quote.

My favorite quote.

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

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

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

 

 

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

Sunken Logs and Legal Fireworks

Did everyone have a good 4th of July weekend? I certainly did! As I mentioned at the end of my last post, my family and I headed to the Branson area of southern Missouri last week to visit my parents. We’ve been parked there since last Tuesday but will be moving on to the fields of Iowa this week.

**This was to have been posted on Tuesday, but because my parents live in the sticks and it was raining, we had no wifi. Gasp! So here it is, two days late.

I had some major swim/bike/run plans in my head for when we were here. Nothing was going to get in the way of my Ironman training. Until we got here and started to relax.

The first day we were here, we slept in. It was glorious, especially considering we had gotten up at 4 am the day before. But the road was calling and I wanted to get some hill running in. When I say hills, I mean HILLZ.  Steep friggin hillZ.  We took off and within one mile, I was heaving up a big hill, ready to throw in the towel and give up. It was almost as humid as in Wilmington, which I certainly wasn’t expecting. Seven point three of some of the most miserable miles later, I was done. I had wanted to go ten miles, but I didn’t have enough liquid left in my body to be able to sweat it out. I figured some of the fatigue was due to the 100 mile bike ride and heavy training week the week before that, but I was really pissed off slightly irritated about not having a good run.

The towel was SOAKED when I got done.

The towel was SOAKED when I got done.

The next day, I went to the local gym and hopped on a bike. Five minutes later, I was drenched in sweat, dreading the remaining hour.  Here’s a suggestion to every gym everywhere: USE FANS. No one wants to work out in a pool of their own sweat. It was so gross. After that suffer fest, I hopped on the treadmill for a mile or two. Funny, there were fans on the treadmills so I cranked those babies up and the run ended up being relatively comfortable, and I ended up going 3.1 miles. Not too shabby.  I’d planned to swim whenever I could, but with the weird weather and pop up storms, we ended up at the pool that day. No swimming for me.

The next day, we all headed out on the lake. Table Rock Lake is absolutely gorgeous. It’s less clear than last year, due to all the rain they’ve been having, but it’s still very clear, especially compared to what I normally swim in. I had my cap and goggles, and when we got anchored in a nice little cove, I took off to swim.  Evidently the plethora of shark attacks off MY coast has gotten to my head, because I kept seeing big huge sea monsters on the bottom coming up to get me.  I was freaked out, to say the least. Then I saw a pretty big log sticking up from the bottom and in my mind, it literally was a sea monster coming up to get me, and I actually freaked out. I did the exact same thing as when I saw all those jelly fish (stop, dog paddle like mad, and gasp for breath), but this time, it was worse. I tried three times to get myself started and saw sea monsters logs on the bottom, and three times, I totally freaked out. I swam back to the boat, shaking. WTF was this all about? I’m a tough girl who doesn’t freak out about things like this, especially dead logs that have been there for eons, but I was scared. I decided to just stop, and try again another day.

On July 4th, my husband and I were signed up to run the Firecracker 5000. Well, I was; he was signed up for the 10k. We got up super early (compared to the late mornings we’d had so far), got ready, and headed to the race. We laughed at the timer chips that were to be secured on our shoes with “bread bag” twisty ties.

Must be the new "thing" in timing chips.

Must be the new “thing” in timing chips. But it held strong!

There were probably 600 total runners, the shirts were very nice, and packet pickup was easy since we got there early. We warmed up about half a mile, found the can, and lined up.

The race started a few minutes late, but we took off in the middle of Branson Landing, a cute little shopping area. The bad thing is that they didn’t even play the national anthem before the race, something they should have made sure to do on that important day.

I fought some traffic as we started, but soon, it thinned out and I was on my way. I wasn’t sure what pace I wanted to keep, and soon, I figured I needed to just GO and not worry about what pace I was going. We ran along the Taneycomo Lake, which is a very cold lake, which made for some very nice cool air as we ran along, probably ten degrees cooler than even twenty feet away from it. Crazy. We wound around a campground and neighborhood, and I felt my pace was holding pretty good at 7:20ish. I ALWAYS slow down during the second mile, but felt I was doing well and would have a good finish. We backtracked towards the landing again, ran past it, and wound around the parking lot, which was annoying, but heard the course had to be made up that morning due to flooding on other parts of the course. Oh well, I knew the end was near!

I crossed the finish line at 22:01. Whew, I was happy with that, even though I think the course was a teeny bit short. I walked with my water to catch my breath, hid it by White House Black Market, and jogged backwards along the course to find my husband and get some more miles in, of course near the lake where it was nice and cool. I found my hubs and he was going along at a good pace, so I cut through and waited for him at the finish line. He finished in 50:36, which is a new PR for him since he hasn’t run a 10k in forever.  Whohoo!

We cooled down as much as we could and waited for the awards. In the meantime, tons of door prizes were awarded, some of them being big packs of fireworks, the kind that are as tall as I am. How cool is that?! Tons of kids were called to get some mini packs, big packs, and plenty of big kids won them, too. I was happy to win first place in my age group and got a cool gold medal to bring home.  We changed into dryer clothes and walked around, finding some little trinkets to bring home.

 

First place in the "thirty-something and above" age group (40-44)

First place in the “thirty-something and above” age group (40-44)

When we got back, we got headed to the lake, unbeknownst to us this would be our only nice lake day. It was great! We relaxed, drank, cannonballed, floated, and hung out. Perfect. Then it was back to the house for food, back to the lake for fireworks, then back to the house again for our own firework show.

Boats piling up to watch the firework show.

Boats piling up to watch the firework show.

There were so many going off all over and echoing in the hills, it was like what I imagine Beirut is like except we were having fun. I love those little novelty fireworks, like tanks, fire trucks, the parachute ones, and fountains. The boys loved everything else. We had a blast (pun totally intended).

My dad and the kids with our show stoppers.

My dad and the kids with our show stoppers.

The next day, we slept in til about 9:00, which is so unusual for us, but with the dark and quiet room, soooo nice! We couldn’t really do much outside due to the strange storms, but we hung out and relaxed.

On Monday, I ended up running 6 miles of hillz again, and then we all headed to the shooting range for a gun safety class and some guns!  I have to admit, I’m not a gun person. I have never really been around them, but I’m definitely not against them. My dad has been collecting interesting sorts of guns for several years, and wanted to teach my boys about guns in a safe way. They loved it! I loved it! We all loved it! Feeling the power of a gun going off in my hand was, oh, let’s say it was scary in a good way. If that makes any sense. After over two hours of shooting various rifles and a 9 mm, we headed to lunch and then the boat.

9 mm Diamondback

9 mm Diamondback

Wait, crappy weather again so the pool. Wait, storm popped up so once again, we were trapped in the house for the evening. We played some games on the deck as we listened to more thunder and rain. My husband and I ended up going to have a few drinks at a total dive biker bar and picked up some fried green beans on the way home. I love those things.

Every time we went out, it was like this.

Every time we went out, it was like this.

I was planning to get a swim in on Tuesday. Since I was a little freaked out, I needed to face my fears anyway, so figured I could go to the campground swim area that’s right around the corner from here. Nope, torrential rain with no sign of ending. So I went back to the house of sweat (the gym) and thankfully, this time it was a little “less hot”. I went an hour and 20 minutes hard on the bike and then did some strength on the machines. My husband was desperately trying to get internet connection, but was finding the equivalent of 12k dial up, so I didn’t get any treadmill running in this time. We headed back to my parent’s house. My mom and I took the kids for a walk around the campground during a rain lull, and of course, it started raining again before we were done. Damn. Everything was starting to flood and the lake level was rising, which is crazy since the lake is ginormous.

This was the norm for the entire week we were there.

This was the norm for the entire week we were there.

On Wednesday, we will be heading north to Des Moines, Iowa, and I’m planning to meet up with Kickass Kecia from Push My Limits sometime on Wednesday afternoon, assuming our travels go as planned. We are then going to Field of Dreams so my kids can say, “Dad, wanna have a catch?”. Then we’re headed to our old stomping ground in Sioux City to visit friends until we head back to Kansas City for our flight home on Tuesday. Whew. I’m tired even typing that.  Meanwhile, at home, my yard is dying because there’s no rain and it’s still hotter ‘n a whore in church, my cats are dying from the lack of attention, and it still as hot as the gates of hell.  I guess that’s what we’re going to get when we arrive back home. I’m hoping we get just a tiny bit of dryer air in Iowa. Just a little less humidity would be just what the doctor ordered. I can only hope.

How do you manage training when on vacation?

Categories: iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, open water swimming, running, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Medication: Friend or Foe?

Another week slipped by since I’ve written and it seems like just a few days. I’ve been pretty busy (I hate using that because really, who isn’t busy?) trying to get a bunch of stuff done before the kids are out of school (and dealing with the events of last week- details below), and getting my workouts in of course.

Ahh, the events of last week. Last week was “interesting”. Due to a mysterious allergic reaction to something the week before, I had to go on Prednisone, and then the dose started decreasing last week. I thought all was good and that I was lucky enough to not have the side effects of the medication, since I heard they could be…um, well, not so fun. THEN last week happened. And I got all the side effects. No sleeping. Hunger. Moodiness. Aggression. All of them. And I was training hard and trying to start a business. It was hard. It was weird. I didn’t like it. It made me feel crazy. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way after the dosage went down, but after talking to other people who have been on it, it’s pretty normal to feel “slightly off”. Yeah, I’ll just say I felt slightly off. If off feels like this:

 

Thursday.

Thursday.

And then I was hungry. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

The good thing that came from this was a 5k race on Thursday night.  I didn’t want to run it, had had a VERY disturbing day (as for how I felt, otherwise it was normal), but if you combine eating and aggression, running a race really isn’t a bad thing. I had a crappy attitude coming into it, fueled on Diet Coke and chips only 3 hours before it started (because eff it, WHO CAAARRREEESSSS??!!! See above picture.) It was hot. I swam that morning and it felt like my arms were filled with concrete. Blech. So when the horn went off in the Wilma Dash, a unique women’s only race, I went. I ran. I ran hard. I ran until my lungs hurt. My legs were tired. My mouth was dry. I was sweaty. I just wanted a sub-24:00. Ok, a sub-23:00. And I came in at 22:21, enough to win 15th overall and 3rd masters. I felt a little bit released. Well, let’s just say I felt better.

Look at me on the left all scared like. Maybe it's because he took a hundred pictures and I was just tired of standing and wanted to get my beer back in my hand.

Look at me on the left there all like, “Let me go so I can get my damn beer back before she drinks it.”

Bonus on the night is that the team I’m on, Without Limits Sole Sistas, won largest team and a party at the famous Front Street Brewery. It’ll be like one free beer per teammate, but hey, better than nothing!!!

On Friday, we headed to my husband’s alma mater, Clemson, for my youngest son’s football camp.

Takin' it down.

Takin’ it down.

The Dabo Swinney Football Camp was top notch. My youngest was among the best players and coaches in the nation, filling them with life lessons and football skills.  I’ve never really felt a lot of love for any team on my own, and I was very happy to adopt Clemson as “my” team back when I met my husband. Same for the Red Sox. I’m not a die hard, but I’m right there, wearing my orange and purple and white, cheering them on in good seasons and bad.  My sons have a sparkle in their eyes when they talk about it, which to me, means a TON of money will eventually be heading the tiger way (which brings on the same kind of hulk feeling when thinking about how much money college costs), but for now, we really enjoy our time there. It hasn’t been often we have time to wander campus and check out the sites in his old stomping ground and spend way too much at the apparel store. While there, I got in eleven miles of hills and even more exploration.  Good times, minus the six hour drive and getting home at 11 pm the night before the kids start their end-of-year testing. Hopefully we can get back this fall for the game against Notre Dame, which just so happens to be on my birthday and one month before Ironman Florida. Yes, we really are trying to do it ALL this year!

Death Valley

Death Valley

As for training, I’ve been doing what I can when I can, pushing myself to be ready to start training. Yesterday marked the first day with my coach, Sami, from Without Limits. She’s a 12-time IM finisher and Kona qualifier, and she recently qualified for worlds in the 70.3. I know I’m in good and experienced hands! I’m not a very OCD person (if you saw my house right now, you’d get it – it’s just a mess but I’m sitting here blogging), but I have to admit that all was right and good in the world when I got my Training Peaks email and next two weeks training uploaded. Ahhhh, structure!

I learned a few lessons listening to the coaches at the football clinic and will find so many ways to use them in my training and for coaching. I’m motivated (even without the prednisone), am happy about my choice to push the register button that day in November, and am so looking forward to the journey. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but what journey worth taking IS?

Oh, oh, oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! The word is out, the number is in, and I wanted to let you all know that the UNCW running teams have MET THEIR FUNDRAISING GOAL and can continue on for another year!!!! They were able to raise $255,781.59 IN THREE MONTHS! Thank you for listening to me talk about my local issue and a very special thanks to those who contributed to the teams. They are so appreciative of our support and are already working hard to secure large donations to be able to update/renovate/rebuild the old track and field facility that so many in our community use and probably take for granted. I love running!!!

So all in all, it’s been a good week, I’m “officially” IM training now, and I have a love/hate relationship with prednisone. I’m glad it quickly helped my allergy, but man, it certainly made me feel funky.

Have you ever had “interesting” side effects of a medication? Do you have a love affair with any particular school?

 

 

Categories: coaching, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

And Then It Was Summer

Monday, when I went into Walmart to get all those things you get in Walmart, it was nice outside. When I came back out less than an hour later, it was summer. I don’t know how that happened and how I missed the weather report that it was going to be scorching that day. But it’s summer, complete with disgusting humidity. As much as I was looking forward to running this week, I am dreading it now. Blech. Here’s a little recap of whaz been goin’ on here in the ILM  lately. I been BIZZY. PLEASE, if anything, make sure you read my huge news at the bottom regarding the fundraiser for the UNCW running teams.

Honestly, I don’t know the last time I wrote. I think was half way (it totally wasn’t half way, it was whole) freaking out about the triathlon or something and I’m just too lazy to go back and look at my last post. I tried and tried to come up with a way to get out of that race. I really did. Beach erosion from Tropical Storm Ana? Cancel it. Too dangerous. Not enough participants? Cancel the thing. Big dark scary cloud? No way, don’t mess with storms. Increased chance for rip currents. No way, Jose.  But there was nothing LEGITIMATE about my fears (except for the sharky ones), and there was no reason to cancel that race. But I sure get an A for Effort 🙂

But I’ll get to the tri here in a minute. Let me back up. Friday morning, a friend of mine and her training buddy asked me to join them on a practice ocean swim and bike ride in prep for the tri. I figured it was the best thing I could do, so went for it. We rode our bikes first and then headed to the beach. The waves were not small. They weren’t “Hawaii 5-0” waves or anything, but it took some effort to get past the breakers. It seemed the end of the breakers never came. I struggled a little, swallowed a good amount of sea water, but it was a very good indicator of what Sunday could be like – not easy, but doable. The confidence came as soon as I got out of the water, but when I was swimming, all I could think was, “No way, there’s no freaking way, this is bull$shit.” But I made it through.

Saturday morning was a proud day. It was my Stride boys’ 5k. We got up bright and early and headed to the start to meet our team. They all arrived on time, and we joked, got our numbers on, and then warmed up. I got attached to those kids, and I will miss them! We posed for pictures and did our warm ups. I reminded them about pacing, taking it easy in the beginning, then charging at the end. It got pretty warm that morning. I had originally wanted to do somewhere close to 22:00, but I just didn’t think I could pull that off. I figured I’d just do the best I could and not worry about it. For the first time in a while, I did not care.

When our race started, I was very mindful of seeing my team out on the course. I passed many of them, complimented them, and then half way scolded one of the competitive ones for cutting in front of me multiple times. In all the race prep I gave them, one thing I totally forgot to do was teach them about race courtesy. Oops. My bad. I finished in just over 23:00, which I was happy with. I realized that I hadn’t looked at my pace more than one time, which is refreshing when you are just running to run. No pressure, and I knew I had a pretty big day ahead on Sunday. I got some water and parked by the finish line so I could cheer on my boys. They all finished strong, and I was so proud of them. I think they were proud of themselves too. They were sweaty, tired, but they smiled. (Only one threw up.) It was a very good ending to a very good season.  I ended up winning 3rd overall Masters division with my time, so I won a gift card. Score.

My son and his dad as the running buddy. We started two minutes after the clock did, so pulling down a 27:00 5k when you're 9 is pretty darned awesome.

My son and his dad as the running buddy. We started two minutes after the clock did, so pulling down a 27:00 5k when you’re 9 is pretty darned awesome.

We left the race, washed up, and took off for my son’s last soccer game. He rocked it. It was his first season playing soccer at all, ended up playing goalie 98% of the time, but he did very well.

My little man defending his goal.

My little man defending his goal.

After that, we went to the beach a few hours to waste time before my packet pickup was open.  It was an absolutely delightful day, and I enjoyed those few hours totally unplugged. When it was time to get my triathlon stuff, we scoped out the course and realized how easy it was going to be to navigate. Then we headed home. My soccer son had a birthday party, so we got ready for that, picked up his friends and took them all together. Then we took our youngest to eat and had a few drinks. We headed back to pick up the rowdy boys from the party, took them home, and then my friend picked all the kids to spend the night at her house so my husband could Sherpa for me the next morning without getting the kids up at o’dark thirty.  I checked over my triathlon supplies and went to bed. What a day.

Sunday. Triathlon day. My first sprint race. I woke at 4:00 am. I had a lot of my things ready already. It was a swim, run, bike, run, swim format, so transitions would be very simple. The transition from swim to run was in the sand, so I put my running stuff in a bucket so it didn’t get covered with sand as other racers came through. I was signed up as a novice master, so all the novices started last. I was determined to place in my division, the new/old division (novice master female). The fact that I was the only one in it had nothing to do with it. Haha!!

Just beautiful.

Just beautiful.

The sunrise was gorgeous, and I patiently waited, with very little anxiety, for my start. Maybe not feeling nervous is a good sign. That’s how I felt before my half iron, and that race went well, so I figured that having too many nerves could waste much needed energy, so as much as I was dreading the double swim, I knew I just had to take one stroke at a time. The waves look smaller than how they felt, that’s for sure.

I won’t get into the details of the race, but when I started, I just went. I channeled all my energy and focused on each stroke, each breath, getting to the first turn, second turn, and then transition. I did the entire tri without a Garmin, so I had no idea how long it was taking me, my pace, distance (except on my bike, I knew my mph and time), and it was a really nice way to race. Just focus and go. The run was 1.5 miles, and the transition to the bike was fast. The bike course was a closed road, and it was smooth and very fast too. I pushed, but I didn’t want to wear my legs out for the remaining run and swim. I ended up going just over 19 mph. My second run was a tad faster than the first, and when I got to the beach to head out for the final leg of the double sprint, I smiled. I was almost done. We had to run down the beach to the start, and when I entered the water, it felt delicious. I don’t really know what happened, but I wish I was wearing a Garmin just to see how different the swims were.  The first trip was probably a rectangle, as it should be. The second was probably more of an amoeba. I ended up going way around the first turn buouy, and it seemed to take me a long time to get to the sight bouy. But I was doing it and making progress. Then all of a sudden I was turning back towards the finish and was washed up onto the beach. I ran to the finish line and crossed with a huge sense of accomplishment.

Running to the finish.

Running to the finish.

I did it. My first sprint tri, a double sprint with two ocean swims, DONE. And I had three spectators, just for me. Who wouldn’t love that? Thanks for being there, Andy, Stacey, and sis, Randee!  And just as I planned, I won first in my division, bringing home a really nice set of grill utensils. Two prizes in two days, gotta love being a Master!!!

First on the podium. I sure creamed everyone else in my division!!

First on the podium. First of ONE. I sure creamed everyone else in my division!!

Two hours after I finished my tri, I headed back out to take pictures for my new venture. One word: coaching. Here, look at the picture of me being all coachy.

What was I thinking? "I just want to go home and sit down" was all I was thinking.

What was I thinking? “I just want to go home and sit down” was all I was thinking.

I had a date with the couch for the rest of the weekend. I was tired. I dozed for a while and truly enjoyed opening my Miller Lite later on that evening. Bedtime was early, but I had even more going on the first few days of the week.

Monday was our Stride pizza party. I printed pictures for all the kids and had them come up so I could say something about them individually. At the party, I was given a check to pass along to the UNCW running teams. In case you missed it, the university decided to cut the track and field teams unless the community could raise $250,000 by the end of May. People, my little Title I school, the school that gets ignored and doesn’t even have room for the Kindergartners to attend in the building (they’re bussed to a different site), the one who has the happiest staff I’ve ever been around, the kids and the teachers and the staff and the parents came together and raised $7800 to help save the teams. That is a HUGE amount of money. I’d already planned to have my brother-in-law make a big check for a photo op, so the kids could see picture proof of what they did, but one of the Stride parents put another idea in my head, and of course, the staff made it happen. On Tuesday morning at 8:30, three UNCW coaches came to the school, were then walked back behind the school to find the entire student body around the little track, just so they could see for themselves what their fundraising did. I was able to keep my wits about me and give a little speech about how a little idea could come together to make something big happen. It was one of my proudest moments and I knew how lucky I was to be a part of this school and community.

Presenting the $7800 check to the UNCW running coaches. They were floored.

Presenting the $7800 check to the UNCW running coaches. They were floored.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

 

As of Wednesday, the teams have only $10,000 left to raise to meet their goal within 10%, which we all heard was enough to keep the team for another year. If you can, please donate to their cause.

And for the holiday weekend? I’m heading to Raleigh for the Dave Matthews Band concert Friday night, then I really have no idea what I’m doing besides my long bike ride. Sounds perfect to me!

What about you? Swam in the ocean before? Scared of sharks? Ever been overwhelmed by the generosity of people? Running this weekend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: coaching, follow your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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